Warfare by Assassination

Although the possibility of large-scale conventional warfare and even global thermonuclear war continues to exist, warfare involving massive deployment of armed forces and mass destruction through overt military actions becomes increasingly less likely. Instead warfare centers more and more on attacks directed against individuals, and more generally, on covert attacks on other nations. Robotics in particular has revolutionized the ancient art of assassination in the sense that is nowadays possible to find, target and kill individuals anywhere in the world with almost zero risks for the attackers. In the near future many governments will have the capability of carrying out strikes against individuals in a clandestine fashion, using stealth drones, micro-missiles, micro-drones, and even directed energy weapons to clandestinely attack individuals, who are deemed a threat to national security. In an effort of global counterinsurgency governments already globally target terrorists, insurgents, crime bosses, agents of weapons proliferation, whistleblowers, and journalists. In effect, we have entered a period of a never-ending war against ‘dangerous individuals’, who hide within society and who threaten the current world order from within. This ‘global counter-insurgency’ has been known as the ‘Global War on Terror’ directed against the pan-Islamic group called ‘Al Qaeda’. In reality, the War on Terror has no specific enemy and it has by definition no end. It is not directed against specific political or religious groupings. Military actions, if they occur, remain limited in scope and are only part of a larger ‘counter-insurgency’ effort to control populations (through propaganda, surveillance, psy-ops) and neutralize dangerous elements within populations (kill, soft-kill, turning or capture). However, the greatest threats are not posed by external enemies, but mostly by insiders, who have successfully infiltrated governments and other important institutions of society. The ‘real enemy’ in today’s world is in Carl Schmitt’s terms is the ‘inner enemy’, who has to be unmasked and eventually rendered harmless. Warfare by assassination is prone to target traitorous insiders even more than outsiders since they represent a far greater danger. It can be assumed that sooner or later the War on Terror will turn completely inwards and concentrate on ‘homegrown terrorists’, ‘lone wolf terrorists’, and traitors in the government. The advanced weapons developed against ‘Islamic’ terrorists in the Middle East and Central/South Asia will be used domestically. Indeed there are plans by the U.S. government to deploy large numbers of drones for domestic security, some of which could be armed. Initially they would be armed with non-lethal weapons such as Taser munitions, but in the long run it is quite imaginable that police and security forces will also operate lethal domestic drones for dealing with a faceless domestic terrorism threat. We live in frightening times, indeed.

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