Are the traditional boundaries and borders of states and continents being subverted by drone warfare? In a new article from Global Affairs, author Giuseppe Zappalà takes the reader on a flight to a world of metadata collection, nodes and lethal violence.
In doing so he demonstrates how the intelligence and data sharing pacts of the ‘Five, Nine and Fourteen eyes’ are rendering geographic proximity irrelevant to the formation of coalitions in this new way of war. The article understands “Europe” as a fundamental part in the US targeting killing programme. Rather than exceptional and episodic, the European participation in drone strikes represents a continuation of a practice of intelligence sharing that, originating as a Second World War UK–US agreement, nowadays encompasses an assemblage of countries that collect and share military intelligence with one another.
As well as reducing the significance of geographical positioning, the article also suggests that the laws of national governments could be superseded by the wants of international intelligence agencies. After all, how can national laws prohibiting domestic spying stand against data sharing pacts that could be used to circumvent them?
Further to this, Zappalà demonstrates that by collecting and analysing data from ungoverned territories, drone campaigns are bringing substitutive governments to war torn regions such as Yemen and Somalia - a potent demonstration of their power to supersede governments.
The paper concludes with a warning that, in light of this new way of modern war, the term ‘Europe’ could cease to be relevant to international security unless a common European identity and political allegiance is properly established.
Zappalà’s article forms part of Global Affairs’ special Forum on ‘The European Union and Armed Drones’, essential reading for anyone with an interest in the topic, and the first collection of articles on the European dimension of this new form of warfare.