Remote Warfare Comes Home: an inquiry in the Dutch government’s development of discourse on airstrikes and drones between 1998-2020
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The aim of this research is to understand the development of the reasoning behind the use of remote warfare as an ethical way of warfare, with the Dutch government as a case study. Remote warfare is a strategy that aims to remain at a distance, characterised by a shift away from boots on the ground. Instead of a large military presence, remote warfare involves air and drone strikes from above, together with on the ground special forces, intelligence operatives, private military companies and security cooperation through military training teams. The precision that is involved in remote warfare is used by Western states to legitimize the violence as ethical. Thereby showing the influence discourse can have on the perception of reality. Taking the Kosovo War, the Coalition against IS and the debate on weaponizing drones as case studies, this research examines how discourse is developed to legitimize the Dutch use of remote warfare in these cases. Document analysis is used to analyse Dutch governmental statements to identify the collective action frames used by the Dutch government. Frames help give meaning, and collective action frames specifically can be applied to legitimize violence. This research demonstrates that the discourse used by the Dutch government develops more towards an emphasis on precision and minimizing collateral damage, thereby legitimizing remote warfare as the best option, and creating a basis to legitimize armed drones. This is in line with the international trend of discourse on precision legitimizing Western interventions as ethical. Therein this thesis contributes to our understanding of the legitimization of remote warfare, and the role discourse has in violence.