Remote Warfare and the Retooling of American Primacy

Rubrick Biegon, Tom Watts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper argues for the utility of remote warfare as a means of analysing the geopolitics of American primacy. Through the use of new technologies and surrogate forces to address security challenges with a minimal military footprint, remote warfare (re)imposes political distance between the United States and the sites of its military interventions. Its constitutive modalities of intervention range from drones and Special Operations Forces to Private Military Security Companies, security cooperation programmes and emerging technologies associated with Artificial Intelligence. As public support for large-scale overseas interventions has dwindled and strategic competition with China has intensified, remote warfare represents a means of ‘retooling’ US primacy, which is both a structural condition and a strategic orientation. As a strategic approach to the use of force, remote warfare enables the American state to project military power in a more flexible and sustainable manner. This has supported the maintenance of US primacy as Washington’s strategic focus has shifted from counterterrorism towards a renewed emphasis on great power competition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)948-971
Number of pages24
Issue number3
Early online date29 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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