The Political Economy of Drone Warfare

Reference work entry


The expanding use of armed drones as weapons of war has put them squarely at the center of military strategy by a growing number of countries. The appeal of drones to military strategists derives from their greater scope and range of operation, endurance, and alleged precision. What makes this sudden expansion especially curious, however, is that drone technology has been around for quite a long time. Beyond technical and military capabilities, therefore, one needs to examine the broader socioeconomic, geopolitical, and cultural transformations that have pushed drones to the center stage on a global scale. In particular, epochal changes in the governance of capitalist economies provide the main backdrop for these developments. This chapter examines drone technologies and drone warfare as a point of convergence among three key developments: (i) the emergence of a new spirit of capitalism and, along with that, a new globalized economy defined by hyperconnectivity, hyperspeed, and polarization; (ii) the decline of nation-states as the dominant model of territorial governance and the rise of the model of government at a distance in developed liberal economies, on the one hand, and of non-state, informal, and illicit actors and organizations in a large part of the globe, on the other; and (iii) the development of a “new war” that borrows elements from earlier revolutionary, counterinsurgency, and “just” wars of the past. This chapter also examines some of the psychological, social, and global implications of drone warfare for individuals, communities, and societies around the globe, tracing the presence of computing technologies and practices throughout.


Capitalism Computing Globalization Terrorism Polarization New war 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Informatics and Computing, School of Global and International StudiesIndiana University, BloomingtonBloomingtonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • David F. J Campbell
    • 1
  1. 1.USAUSA

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