26 June 2020

Responding to the Standoff on the LAC in Ladakh


This graphical representation looks at India’s options for responding its standoff with China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with the People’s Republic of China.

Since China has seized territory, it only needs to hold on to what it has gained to maintain the new status quo.

On the other hand, India’s task is more difficult since it seeks to return to status quo ante. To secure this, India can:

1.Seek a mutual de-escalation through diplomacy (unlikely). [1 green in the row]

2.Continue the standoff (hold). [1 green in the row]

3.Escalate by replicating China’s land grab elsewhere long the LAC and pursue mutual de-escalation. [2 greens in the row]

Under the circumstances, option 3 seems to be the better one.

Understanding the military build-up on the China–India border

Fatal clashes on the China–India border have aroused fresh speculation about the extent of a military build-up in the western Himalayas. Henry Boyd and Meia Nouwens assess satellite imagery to explain what has been happening there since early May.

Unverified videos began circulating on social media from 5 May, showing scuffles between Indian and Chinese personnel along India’s disputed western border with China. Though subsequent open-source reporting has been prolific, official information from either side has not, and details have remained vague and often conflicting.

Open-source satellite imagery suggests that the most alarming claims, that 10,000 troops from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have crossed the nominal Line of Actual Control (LAC) and are occupying undisputed Indian territory, appear to have been unsubstantiated. However, there is credible evidence to suggest that both China and India have significantly reinforced their positions on their respective sides of the de-facto border, leading to a series of military-to-military talks aimed at resolving the current situation. The fatal clashes that took place during this de-escalation process in mid-June underline the tense nature of the situation and the continuing challenges to its successful resolution.
What has been happening?

Donald Trump Should Talk to Russia to Thwart China

by Christian Whiton

Russian President Vladimir Putin is thinking about his country’s place in the world. We in America should be thinking about that too, especially as the long-term conflict with China intensifies. This is a chance to focus more on what we might have in common.

Putin published a remarkable 9,000-word article in the National Interest ahead of this week’s delayed celebration in Moscow of the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. He recounted the immense cost to the Soviet Union of that war, including the deaths of 27 million of its citizens, and defended Soviet leaders for cutting deals with Hitler to buy time to build defenses.

The foreign policy elite in Europe and the United States will be angered by Putin’s defense, including his observation that Britain and other European governments also cut deals with the Nazis. His mischaracterization of the absorption of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union detracts from his other revisionist arguments, which should interest historians and World War II buffs. 

But whatever one thinks of Putin’s view of history, his intent is clear: to press for dialogue among the world’s great powers as a way to manage disagreements and limit conflict. The fact that he wrote such a long piece, walking readers through his thinking about the emergence of the modern world and his view of Russia’s place in that world, is helpful. The dialogue that Putin proposes suggests limited rather than expansive foreign policy objectives.

How Much Will Coronavirus Damage China's Economy?

by Clare Merrithew

The coronavirus crisis is getting out of hand across the world, with many countries already struggling to avert the catastrophic economic realities that the outbreak has caused. The deadly viral pneumonia has been worsening by the hour, prompting countries such as Italy, Spain, France, and Germany to lock down some of their urban centers. People all over the world are being advised to self-quarantine for at least a month and that has adversely affected consumer behavior. Manufacturing, supply chains, and service delivery is paralyzed in most leading economies.

But even as the world grapples with the possibilities of international trade crashing, there is one economic superpower that has been hit by coronavirus more than any other in the world: China. 

Almost every country has restricted travel to and from China, Wuhan and other provinces have been locked down, and business across the country is seriously threatened as a result. These new developments are undercutting the stabilization China had seen in December 2019. Financial experts are predicting that if the virus continues spreading, the country’s GDP will contract not just in the first quarter of 2020 but in the second and third quarters compared to 2019. This will be a major concern for China particularly because that hasn’t happened in thirty years.

Possible Layoffs

Why It's Dangerous to Blindly "Follow the Science" on Coronavirus

by Neil Levy Eric Schliesser Eric Winsberg

The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine are among the most influential scientific journals in the world. Both have recently had to retract studies on the effectiveness of COVID-19 treatments after doubts were raised about the underlying data. The scandal reveals the dangers of “fast science”.

In the face of the virus emergency, research standards have been relaxed to encourage faster publication and mistakes become inevitable. This is risky. Ultimately, if expert advice on the pandemic turns out to be wrong, it will have dire consequences for how reliable scientific evidence is treated in other policy areas, such as climate change.

The pandemic has become politicised, pitting smug liberals versus reckless conservatives. There’s also a move towards thinking about options in terms of science versus common sense. If we accept this framing, we risk causing people to believe that experts are no better than the rest of us at making predictions and providing explanations that can guide policy.

For example, some “lockdown sceptics” have responded to falling death rates by arguing that the lockdown wasn’t necessary in the first place. Setting aside arguments over to what extent lockdowns saved lives, it is right to worry about the way this has cast aspersion on expertise more generally.

History Lesson: Yes, Vietnam Did Halt China's 1979 Invasion

by Charlie Gao

Chinese operations against Vietnam in the 1980s are often divided into four phases. In the first, the Chinese and Vietnamese further entrenched their positions along the border. This lasted until 1981. The second and third phase consisted of escalating offensive operations across the border from 1981 to 1987, gradually increasing in intensity. The last phase involved the PLA’s withdrawal from the border region. The political objectives of the Chinese incursions were to “punish” Vietnam for its continued belligerence towards Thailand and Cambodia. Since Vietnamese troops were going into Cambodia, Chinese troops would continue to do the same. Militarily, China saw the border conflict as a way to evolve the PLA from an antiquated fighting force to a modern one, by testing new doctrines and equipment on the border.

This first appeared in September 2019 and is being reposted due to reader interest.

The PLA’s performance in the 1979 war was so bad, even Vietnamese commanders were surprised, according to some sources. This was a result of its reliance on Korean War–style infantry assault tactics, due to the operational inflexibility and stagnation of military thought in the PLA. The layout of the command structure, and the infrastructure that supported it, could not support maneuver warfare by smaller units of higher-quality forces.

China’s quantum satellite enables first totally secure long-range messages

By Harun Šiljak
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In the middle of the night, invisible to anyone but special telescopes in two Chinese observatories, satellite Micius sends particles of light to Earth to establish the world’s most secure communication link. Named after the ancient Chinese philosopher also known as Mozi, Micius is the world’s first quantum communications satellite and has, for several years, been at the forefront of quantum encryption.

Scientists have now reported using this technology to reach a major milestone: Long-range secure communication you could trust even without trusting the satellite it runs through.

Launched in 2016, Micius has already produced a number of breakthroughs under its operating team led by Pan Jian-Wei, China’s “Father of Quantum”. The satellite serves as the source of pairs of entangled photons, twinned light particles whose properties remain intertwined no matter how far apart they are. If you manipulate one of the photons, the other will be similarly affected at the very same moment.

It is this property that lies in the heart of the most secure forms of quantum cryptography, the entanglement-based quantum key distribution. If you use one of the entangled particles to create a key for encoding messages, only the person with the other particle can decode them.

China cyber attacks: Beijing’s misinformation war against Australia

Jamie Seidel

Our hearts and minds are under attack. The battlefields are social media, news services and parliaments. Lies are its weapons. Democracy is its target. And we’re losing. Badly.

It used to be called propaganda.

It’s now called diplomacy. Or public relations. Or marketing. The objective is the same: influence political decisions and public opinions. The method is the same: well-timed, well-targeted deception.

It’s an insidious tactic used by corporations, activists and political parties alike.

But, at least when it comes to international diplomacy, Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne has had enough.

“It is troubling that some countries are using the pandemic to undermine liberal democracy and promote their own more authoritarian models,” she said in a speech at the Australian National University this week.

“The disinformation we have seen contributed to a climate of fear and division when, at a time like this, what we need is co-operation and understanding.”

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said disinformation is contributing to a climate of fear. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch.Source:AAP

Libya: A Catastrophe for Russia’s Pantsir S1 Air Defense System

By Altan A. Ozler

The Pantisr is no stranger to making headlines – but after news of disastrous losses in Libya, is its reputation now in tatters?
A Trouncing in Tripoli

Last month has proven to be catastrophic for the credibility of one of Russia’s most touted air defense systems. The troubles for the Pantsir S1 air defense system in Libya began when Khalifa Haftar’s yearlong Tripoli offensive against the Ankara-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) began to collapse.

Believed to have been supplied to the Libyan strongman as early as last year by his backers in the Gulf, the Russian system was meant to be used as a trump card against Turkey’s combat unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) air interdiction operations. Yet, after a major GNA counteroffensive last month, and the retaking of the strategic Al-Watiya airbase and key suburbs in Tripoli, it became clear that the system had been trounced. Analysis of open source data has estimated that up to 9 Pantsir units were lost in quick succession to UAV strikes during May, with footage of the strikes going viral on social media. To add insult to injury, a tenth Pantsir system was dramatically captured by GNA forces, and to great fanfare paraded through Tripoli as a war trophy. It is speculated that the captured Pantsir’s final fate is to be picked apart for intelligence purposes.

A Significant System

Vladimir Putin: The Real Lessons of the 75th Anniversary of World War II

by Vladimir Putin

Seventy-five years have passed since the end of the Great Patriotic War. Several generations have grown up over the years. The political map of the planet has changed. The Soviet Union that claimed an epic, crushing victory over Nazism and saved the entire world is gone. Besides, the events of that war have long become a distant memory, even for its participants. So why does Russia celebrate the ninth of May as the biggest holiday? Why does life almost come to a halt on June 22? And why does one feel a lump rise in their throat?

They usually say that the war has left a deep imprint on every family's history. Behind these words, there are fates of millions of people, their sufferings and the pain of loss. Behind these words, there is also the pride, the truth and the memory.

For my parents, the war meant the terrible ordeals of the Siege of Leningrad where my two-year-old brother Vitya died. It was the place where my mother miraculously managed to survive. My father, despite being exempt from active duty, volunteered to defend his hometown. He made the same decision as millions of Soviet citizens. He fought at the Nevsky Pyatachok bridgehead and was severely wounded. And the more years pass, the more I feel the need to talk to my parents and learn more about the war period of their lives. However, I no longer have the opportunity to do so. This is the reason why I treasure in my heart those conversations I had with my father and mother on this subject, as well as the little emotion they showed.

John Bolton's Mission: Destroy Donald Trump's Detente with North Korea

by Daniel R. DePetris 

John Bolton, the former national security adviser who was ousted from his job last September (Bolton claims he resigned), has been on a tear over the last week. His memoir, “The Room Where it Happened,” documents a series of allegedly explosive encounters with President Donald Trump during Bolton's 17-month tenure. By now, you have likely come across some of the more salacious excerpts from the book—including what Bolton himself likens to a campaign of systemic obstruction of justice on behalf of the dictators and authoritarians Trump appears to respect so much.

The media is jumping all over the story, covering Bolton’s book as if it was this century’s bombshell blockbuster. While the general public doesn’t have access to the volume yet, it’s safe to say that 90% of the pages are likely designed to make Bolton look as if he was the noble insurgent fighting his boss and trying to prevent the U.S. from being on the wrong side of history. And, knowing Bolton’s reputation, there are likely a few ham-fisted attempts to drag down his former colleagues in the process. 

Normally, I wouldn’t touch a Bolton screed with a 10-foot pole. I didn’t read his last memoir (“Surrender is not an Option”) when it was published over a decade ago and I don’t plan on reading this one either. But scrolling through the excerpts, I couldn’t help but marvel at Bolton’s nerve. That Bolton had the audacity to pan Trump’s outreach to North Korean Kim Jong-un when he has a decades-long record of failure on the subject is beyond ironic (weeks before Bolton was appointed as national security adviser, he wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal arguing that bombing a nuclear-armed North Korea would be an act of self-defense). You almost have to admire his lack of self-perception.

National Security and the Lasting Damage of Ruthless Partisanship

by Paul R. Pillar

As Donald Trump’s electoral prospects diminish amid a pandemic-induced recession, his blame-deflecting attacks have become ever more desperate. The most immediate and obvious damage from a presidential performance characterized by desperation and demagoguery is to be measured in terms of public health and the toll of the coronavirus. At last count, the United States, with 4.2 percent of the world’s population, had 31 percent of the coronavirus infections and 29 percent of the deaths. This type of damage is likely to get even worse as Trump rolls the dice on an economic recovery between now and November 3 that he hopes will overshadow the resurgence of disease and death that epidemiologists say will result from premature relaxation of pandemic-required restrictions. 

The ruthless partisanship and attack tactics of Trump and his followers also have other ill consequences, however, that will persist long after the pandemic has eased and any thoughts of drinking disinfectant or popping hydroxychloroquine pills have faded. Moreover, many of the ill effects will persist well after Trump’s presidency, despite efforts of his successors to repair the damage. 

In international relations and foreign policy, relations with China are perhaps the prime example, with a plunge into a new Cold War being partly a byproduct of the attempt by Trump (and those executing his tactics, especially Secretary of State Mike Pompeo) to use China as a foil to divert blame from Trump’s own mishandling of the pandemic.

How the Coronavirus Could Crush the U.S. Economy

by Desmond Lachman

Aspecter is haunting the United States and world economies. It is the specter of a second wave in the coronavirus pandemic later this year. Making this specter all the more troubling is the Trump administration’s happy talk that the U.S. economy is on the cusp of a strong V-shaped economic recovery from its worst economic recession in the past ninety years.

One does not need to be a high-powered epidemiologist to know that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. The number of new coronavirus cases worldwide is now increasing at the fastest pace since the start of the pandemic. Twenty-one states in the United States, including California, Florida, and Texas, are all now experiencing disturbing increases in infection rates. Meanwhile, even in China, where draconian measures were taken to bring the pandemic under control, new cases are now springing up around that country.

It hardly gives comfort that many epidemiologists are now warning that the overly hasty and ill-prepared lifting of lockdowns risk increasing the infection rate. Nor can we derive solace from the rising trend towards large-scale political demonstrations and gatherings where social distancing is generally observed in the breach.

The UN Security Council Isn’t Working. Can It Be Reformed?

by Jean-François Thibault

Canada has a lesson to learn from the results of the balloting for one of two available seats on the United Nations Security Council. After years of lobbying — although not as many as the victors — it came in third in a three-way contest with Norway and Ireland.

The message should be clear: Canada could and should do more. But beyond this disappointment for one country, the entire collective security system probably needs to be rethought, starting with the Security Council.

Created 75 years ago on Oct. 24, 1945, in the aftermath of the Second World War, the UN’s primary purpose is to maintain international peace and security. In order to ensure “prompt and effective action,” the signatory states of its Charter established a central body, the Security Council, with primary responsibility in this regard.

The Security Council was originally conceived on a basis of responsibility and capacity, rather than on a principle of representation. It was composed of five permanent members — the victors of the Second World War (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) — and six non-permanent members elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms.

How the U.S. Military Plans to Destroy Hypersonic Missiles in a War

by Kris Osborn

The Pentagon is looking to Space War as an emerging method to counter seemingly unstoppable hypersonic weapons attacks, with early prototyping of satellite sensors and other tracking technology to more quickly find and “take out” weapons traveling more than five times the speed of sound. 

“We have to work on sensor architecture, because they do maneuver and they are global, you have to be able to track them worldwide and globally. It does drive you towards a space architecture, which is where we’re going,” Navy Vice Admiral Jon Hill, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said in a Pentagon report.

The Missile Defense Agency and the Space Development Agency, Hill said, have already built a satellite prototype and plans to put up more new satellites to better track hypersonic attacks over the next few years.

“As ballistic missiles increase in their complexity ... you’re going to be able to look down from cold space onto that warm earth and be able to see those,” he said. “As hypersonics come up and look ballistic initially, then turn into something else, you have to be able to track that and maintain track. In order for us to transition from indications and warning into a fire control solution, we have to have a firm track and you really can’t handle the global maneuver problem without space.”

Will Trump’s Trade Wars Reshape the Global Economy?

Once relatively staid, the global economic and trade system has been anything but since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

Though it’s been overshadowed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S.-China trade war has not been definitively resolved. In January, the two countries hit the pause on the on again, off again dispute, which began in 2018 when Trump launched a series of tit-for-tat tariff hikes over China’s perceived unfair trade practices, including forced technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property. After several rounds of talks stalled over the course of the following 18 months, the two sides signed a limited “phase one” agreement in January, giving them more time to try to iron out their broader differences. But the terms of the stopgap deal, particularly China’s required purchases of a range of U.S. products and goods, were already going to be difficult to achieve under normal circumstances. The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic will now call them even further into question, with no guarantees for an agreement in broader “phase two” talks.

Trump’s unpredictable negotiating style and his willingness to brandish the threat of tariffs for leverage in trade talks cannot be particularly reassuring to European officials, who have yet to start their own trade negotiations with the U.S. Trump has already decried what he sees as unfair trade deficits with European Union countries, particularly Germany, and he imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from some allies, without seeming to understand that the EU negotiates trade terms as a bloc. A U.S.-Europe trade war could do lasting damage to both sides.

Infographic Of The Day: Tesla Is Now The World's Most Valuable Automaker

The company, which began as a problem-plagued upstart a little over 15 years ago, has now become the world's most valuable automaker - surpassing industry giants such as Toyota and Volkswagen.

Why North Korea Blew Up Its Détente With the South

Elliot Waldman

What a difference two years makes. The spring and summer of 2018 saw an extraordinary rapprochement between the two Koreas, as their leaders held successive face-to-face meetings, culminating in a landmark visit by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang. The flurry of diplomacy produced a number of joint declarations, agreements, hotlines and other confidence-building measures, including an inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, just 6 miles into North Korean territory from the Demilitarized Zone. It was the first full-time communication channel and served as a de facto embassy between the two sides, which are technically still at war having not signed a peace agreement after the Korean War ended in 1953.

Much of the progress of the past two years came crashing down this week when North Korea used controlled explosives to destroy the liaison building, which had been largely unused since January due to the coronavirus pandemic. The blast, powerful enough to shatter windows of nearby buildings, was clearly designed to send a message.

Opinion – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of COVID-19 Recovery Financing in Europe

Frederick Kliem

For once, there is unanimity in the European Union (EU). Consensus exists that unprecedented amounts of money will have to be spent across Europe to stave off the inevitable post-COVID-19 economic crisis. Like other crises before, COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses of both the EU and the eurozone and brought into question the survival of the bloc. Should countries like Italy – the EU’s third-largest economy and one its six founding members – fail to revamp their economy and service its huge sovereign debt, the future of the Euro is unclear.

Reminiscent of the 2010 sovereign debt crisis, the large economies of the eurozone are determined to rescue the common currency at any cost and restore trust in the EU. Doing so, requires money and if the EU Commission gets its way, it will command up to €2.4 trillion in the coming years – equivalent to the GDP of France.

The Good

Initially, the EU had been slow in responding to the crisis. EU solidarity and the integrity of its rules were being questioned when member states ignored rules, standards and expectations in lieu of uncoordinated unilateral crisis management measures. The absence of pan-European solidarity and the comprehensive institutional failure in Brussels disillusioned many citizens and political elites particularly in Italy.

Enduring Stark Utopia: A Polanyian Reading of the Global Political Economy

Alessandro Colasanti

This content was originally written for an undergraduate or Master's program. It is published as part of our mission to showcase peer-leading papers written by students during their studies. This work can be used for background reading and research, but should not be cited as an expert source or used in place of scholarly articles/books.

The 19th century planetary economic system that Karl Polanyi critically analysed in his The Great Transformation (GT) ([1944] 2001) displays a sharp resemblance with its present-day equivalent. It would be no exaggeration to characterise both as a ‘stark utopia’ (Polanyi, 2001). This essay argues that this is not simply because of the occurrence of two disastrous planetary economic and financial crises in each respective historical period – in 1929 for Polanyi, and in 2008-09 for us in the 21st century – but crucially because of the socio-political and cultural turbolences that followed the crises. Both events stem from tensions inherent to a global economy and market society founded upon a liberal creed congenial to a pursuit of personal gain, whose socio-economic effects inevitably undermine social and political stability from local to transnational levels. During both the interwar and post-2008 period, the policies derived from such creed have negatively, and in certain cases deliberately, affected those section of society who lack economic power. In both historical periods, their derived social frustrations appear to incite authoritarian sentiments and intolerance.

Top Analyst: Apple Will Stop Using Intel Chips in All Macs by 2021

by Ethen Kim Lieser

Apple is reportedly planning to move all of its Mac computers from Intel processors to its own Apple chips by 2021, according to a note by TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Apple eventually cutting ties with Intel has been expected for years, and this seismic shift will enable the tech giant to build its future computers without waiting for Intel to develop a new processor.

It will also likely help Apple stand out from its chief competitors in the cutthroat laptop market, such as Samsung, HP, Dell, Microsoft and others that rely on Intel chips. And if Apple can build a more powerful processor, new customers could be more willing to enter its ecosystem.

The Cupertino, California-based company has been using Intel chips to power its computers for well over a decade, but iPhones and iPads are currently powered by Apple’s A-Series Arm-based processors.

Apple is expected to announce its first Arm-based Mac at the Worldwide Developers Conference, according to Kuo. The first five models using the processors will likely include a 13-inch MacBook Pro and an iMac—with an “all-new form factor,” Kuo said in the note.

Crypto Die-Hards Turn Back to Origins With Anti-Inflation Push

By Vildana Hajric

A crisis was supposed to be Bitcoin’s time to shine, when the need for an international currency outside the reach of central banks would prove invaluable. That hasn’t been the case.

No matter to crypto die-hards. The future is brighter than ever, especially as central banks around the world pump cash into listing economies, threatening a wave of inflation if growth were to snap back.

That’s when Bitcoin, with its finite supply, will become coveted, say some of its most prominent mainstream backers including Tyler Winklevoss, Mike Novogratz and Paul Tudor Jones.

The argument hearkens back to the token’s origins. Bitcoin’s halving, which happened on Monday and cut in half the rewards miners receive, has long been seen as a guard against inflation. What’s giving the argument new life right now is today’s economic backdrop. With the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc in nearly every corner of the world, central banks are dispensing gargantuan stimulus measures to buttress markets and the global economy.

“The rest of the world needs to either keep printing money or see their own currency eroding drastically in front of the unbeatable dollar,” said Jean-Marie Mognetti, chief executive officer of CoinShares, a digital asset manager. “Bitcoin, a digital currency whose supply is programmatically defined to reduce until it reaches its maximum supply, would seem to be the perfect hedge for any institutional investor portfolio.”

The Pentagon Must Not Falter in Its Drive To Network Its Weapons and Sensors

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American military superiority depends on a complete and successful integration of all services' forces.

The dominance in coordination, intelligence, and targeting that enabled American victory in conventional conflicts throughout the post-Cold War period is eroding. China in particular has invested in C4ISR networks to coordinate its dispersed missile-armed forces, a critical capability if the Beijing regime hopes to strike Taiwan or another regional target while simultaneously forestalling American intervention.

A war with China – the most likely and most significant great-power contingency that the U.S. and its allies will face – will involve tens of thousands of discrete moving units. China will attempt to saturate targets in the Western Pacific with missile salvos, launched from surface warships, aircraft, and ground installations. The U.S. must be able to coordinate American and allied units effectively enough to defend critical targets from air attack, and in turn strike back at enemy forces throughout the region.

Remote Warfare and the Utility of Military and Security Contractors

Christopher Kinsey and Helene Olsen

This chapter explores the role of military and security[1] contractors in remote warfare. As the chapter explains, contractors in general have been a feature of warfare for centuries. This is not a coincidence, but rather the result of how warfare has been organised since the beginning of sixteenth century if not earlier. It was only after the rise of nationalism and the emergence of the modern state after the French Revolution, alongside industrialisation, and improvements in methods of bureaucracy that military contractors were temporarily marginalised, with many of their roles taken over by nationalised armed forces. This way of organising state violence survived until after the Second World War, when military and security contractors once more began to appear on the battlefield, supporting military operations, or conducting foreign military training. Today, they are a regular part of modern warfare. 

This chapter is divided into five sections. The first section defines the key terms of remote warfare and military and security contractor. It is important to maintain clarity regarding the meaning of these terms as each has a range of contested meanings. The second section evaluates the practice of using military and security contractors in the contemporary operating environment. Section three seeks to explain the different rationales behind the phenomenon of military and security contracting and explores the practical challenges to the use of military and security contractors. Here, it would be easy to simply espouse the most obvious reasons why states rely on military and security contractors, namely as a means to reduce the political risk of deploying large numbers of military personnel and as a means to more efficiently manage military spending. However, this would provide an incomplete picture of military and security contracting.

The Remote Warfare Paradox: Democracies, Risk Aversion and Military Engagement

Jolle Demmers and Lauren Gould

This is an advance preview from the forthcoming book Remote Warfare: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (E-International Relations 2020)

Liberal Western democracies are increasingly resorting to remote warfare to govern security threats from a distance. From the 2011 NATO-led bombings in Libya, the US Africa Command training Ugandan soldiers to fight al-Shabaab, or the US-led coalition against IS in Syria and Iraq, violence is exercised from afar. Remote warfare is characterised by a shift away from ‘boots on the ground’ deployments towards light-footprint military interventions. This may involve using drone and air-strikes, special forces, intelligence operatives, private contractors, and training teams assisting local forces to do the fighting, killing, and dying on the ground (Demmers and Gould 2018: 365; Watts and Biegon 2017: 1).

Violence is thus exercised without exposing Western military personnel to opponents in a declared warzone under the condition of mutual risk. This chapter aims to understand why we see this shift to remote warfare and reviews the moral and political challenges that this new way of war has given rise to. Our key argument is that the secrecy around remote warfare operations, their portrayal as ‘precise’ and ‘surgical’, as well the asymmetrical distribution of death and suffering they entail, thwarts democratic political deliberation on contemporary warfare. We foresee that it is these qualities of remote warfare that will make Western liberal democracies more war prone, not less. This is the remote warfare paradox: the military violence executed is rendered so remote and sanitized, that it becomes uncared for, and even ceases to be defined as war.