Mark Shapiro, a reader living in California, draws attention to the work of Emily Knowles, leading the Oxford Research Group’s Remote Warfare Programme.
Yet RWP’s research suggests that there is a rising trend of secretive military commitments in areas where the UK is not considered to be at war.
- A precedent has been set for the use of armed drones to carry out targeted strikes in regions where parliament has not authorised military engagement.
- The use of Special Forces to carry out covert operations bypasses the need for parliamentary authorisation or notification.
- By providing behind-the-scenes support, UK troops can be involved in military combat without the government having to declare engagement in offensive missions.
Relying on such tactics to counter threats allows the government to avoid the usual parliamentary oversight required in the deployment of conventional troops.
“As modern concepts of warfare continue to evolve, I believe it’s vital that government policy keeps pace and is open to debate.
“That is why my team is working to promote greater transparency around remote warfare and uphold the scrutiny that is so pivotal to a healthy democracy”.
Remote Control’s 2017 report by Emily and Abigail Watson, ‘All quiet on the ISIS front: British secret warfare in an information age’ (Mar 2017), tracks the UK’s secretive but growing military commitments abroad by analysing the rise in the use of drones for targeted killing, the use of Special Forces, and the provision of capabilities such as intelligence and embedded troops to allied forces.
The deniability of these operations brings a flexibility, which can create opportunities when it comes to dealing with fluid and complex security threats.
However, it questions the notion that greater secrecy is always better strategy, in an age when leaks of information are seemingly inevitable, demand for political accountability is high, and trust in politicians and the wider expert community is low.
Plans for British support for an American assault on Iran, revealed in today’s Guardian, are appalling.
Iran like Pakistan, Britain or Israel, craves the status, prestige and vague security apparently conferred by nuclear weapons
Iran is a nation of 70 million people, an ancient and proud civilisation with a developed civil society and a modicum of pluralist democracy. Certainly its insecure leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wants a weapons-ready nuclear enrichment programme, as next week’s United Nations report by the International Atomic Energy Authority is expected to repeat. But he leads a country which, like Pakistan, Britain or Israel, craves status, prestige and the vague security that these unusable weapons seem to convey.
Warheads cost a fortune to develop and keep in service
Modern anti-western aggression finds it cheaper and more effective to plan terrorist outrages. Nuclear bombs have not made Israel more secure. They have been useless to Pakistan in confronting India, and to North Korea against the south. They did not save apartheid in South Africa, or the Soviet Union from itself.
Attack plans: missiles and drones to be deployed against nuclear and military targets
The planned attack on Iran is familiar in form. It is declared exclusively aerial, with missiles and unmanned drones deployed against nuclear and military targets . . .The enemy then digs in and fights back, the tempo of attack has to mount, and ground forces are sucked in . . .
The mission will creep from wrecking Iran’s nuclear capability to ensuring it cannot be rebuilt, and then to securing regime change and “freedom”.
By what right are two nuclear powers using violence to stop someone else joining their club?
. . . the rest of the world would ask by what right are two nuclear powers using violence to stop someone else joining their weirdly exclusive club . . . Anyone watching last month’s Republican primary debate in Las Vegas will have been shocked at the belligerence shown by the six candidates towards the outside world. It was a display of what the historian Robert D Kaplan called “the warrior politics … of an imperial reality that dominates our foreign policy”.
The wars of choice that followed 9/11 have acquired a rhythm of their own – they are a gigantic, historic tragedy
The outcome might make Israel feel temporarily a little safer, but it would render both Israel and the west more vulnerable to terrorist and other retaliation.