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Remote killing? Remoteness, covertness, and the US government’s involvement in assassination

Luca Trenta Orcid Logo

Defence Studies, Volume: 21, Issue: 4, Pages: 468 - 488

Swansea University Author: Luca Trenta Orcid Logo

  • Accepted Manuscript under embargo until: 10th May 2023

Abstract

The recent assassinations of General Soleimani and Mohsen Fakhrizadeh have renewed debates surrounding governments’ use of assassination. Some commentators have interpreted these episodes as an escalation in practices of ‘remote warfare.’ Recently, the literature on remote warfare has expanded to in...

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Published in: Defence Studies
ISSN: 1470-2436 1743-9698
Published: Informa UK Limited 2021
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa58441
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Abstract: The recent assassinations of General Soleimani and Mohsen Fakhrizadeh have renewed debates surrounding governments’ use of assassination. Some commentators have interpreted these episodes as an escalation in practices of ‘remote warfare.’ Recently, the literature on remote warfare has expanded to include multiple activities at – and below – the threshold of war. From its focus on geographical distance, ‘remoteness’ now encompasses the ‘political’ distance of deployments of force. ‘Remoteness’ has blurred the line separating the methods used to deploy force and the ways – overt or covert - in which they are deployed. Having highlighted the role of covertness, this article establishes that assassination should be included in the ‘remote warfare’ canon. A study of the US government’s involvement in assassination permits us to elucidate the interplay between remoteness and covertness. The article shows that a deeper engagement with the assassination as a tool of US foreign policy provides two main advantages. First, it permits us to better historicise the ‘opacity’ and ‘political distance’ of practices associated with ‘remote warfare.’ Second, it helps unveil the origins of the legal, political, and technological infrastructures that currently sustain much of the US government’s global ‘remote wars.’
Keywords: Remote warfare; covert action; assassination; US foreign policy; drones
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 4
Start Page: 468
End Page: 488