Justice and security

Remote Warfare and its Discontents

Middle East Europe,
Centre for Conflict Studies, Utrecht University
United States of America Netherlands, Syria,

Western states have increasingly resorted to remote warfare to govern ‘threats at a distance’ across the Middle East and Africa often outside conventional warzones. While successful at times in terms of defeating enemy combatants, these operations also have led to new and shadowy forms of militarisation, high numbers of civilian casualties and undermined a democratic check on government. The state’s war machine is increasingly off the public’s radar. This is problematic, because without tracing how creating security-ness for some, may lead to a heightened insecurity for others we run the risk of overseeing the interconnectedness of today’s war zones, and, importantly, how clusters of conflict cross-infect and exacerbate each other. In our digital age, it is impossible to wage a secret war or commit atrocities without being seen. And, ultimately, without having to suffer the consequences of some sort of blowback.

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