Not so remote drone warfare

International Politics, 2021


Drone warfare is the most emblematic manifestation of so-called remote warfare. And yet, how ‘remote’ is it really ? Based on extensive interaction with French drone crews, and interviews conducted in 2020, this article shows how drone warfare is not so new, not so distant, not so different, not so indifferent, and not so riskless. In other words, how distancing is a constant in the history of warfare ; how the cliché of the drone pilot killing people between the groceries and the family dinner is a partial reflect of reality ; how the videogame-like immersive environment of drone pilots is not that different from the one of modern inhabited aircrafts ; how drones contradict the widespread assumption that propensity to killing is proportionate to physical distance from target ; and finally how drone warfare is not that riskless, at least compared to its most likely alternatives. Therefore, drone warfare is not that remote.

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