Surrogate Warfare: The Transformation of War in the Twenty-First Century 2018043577, 2018046470, 9781626166776, 9781626166783, 9781626166790

Surrogate Warfare explores the emerging phenomenon of “surrogate warfare” in twenty-first century conflict. The popular

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Surrogate Warfare: The Transformation of War in the Twenty-First Century
 2018043577, 2018046470, 9781626166776, 9781626166783, 9781626166790

Table of contents :
1 The History of Surrogate Warfare
2 The Context of Neotrinitarian War
3 Conceptualizing Surrogate Warfare
4 Externalizing the Burden of War to the Machine
5 Patron-Surrogate Relations and the Problem of Control and Autonomy
6 Toward a Just Surrogate War
7 Iran’s Externalization of Strategic Defense through Surrogate Warfare
About the Authors

Citation preview

Surrogate Warfare

Related Titles from Georgetown University Press Israel’s Long War with Hezbollah: Military Innovation and Adaptation Under Fire Raphael D. Marcus The Marines, Counterinsurgency, and Strategic Culture: Lessons Learned and Lost Jeannie L. Johnson, foreword by Gen. Jim Mattis, USMC (Ret.) Reconsidering the American Way of War: US Military Practice from the Revolution to Afghanistan Antulio J. Echevarria II Strategy, Evolution, and War: From Apes to Artificial Intelligence Kenneth Payne War and the Art of Governance: Consolidating Combat Success into Political Victory Nadia Schadlow

Surrogate Warfare The Transformation of War in the Twenty-First Century Andreas Krieg and Jean-Marc Rickli

Georgetown University Press / Washington, DC

© 2019 Georgetown University Press. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for third-party websites or their content. URL links were active at time of publication. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Krieg, Andreas, author. | Rickli, Jean-Marc, author. Title: Surrogate warfare : the transformation of war in the twenty-first     century / Andreas Krieg and Jean-Marc Rickli. Description: Washington, DC : Georgetown University Press, 2019. | Includes bibliographical references and index.  Identifiers: LCCN 2018043577 (print) | LCCN 2018046470 (ebook) | ISBN 9781626166776 (hardcover : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781626166783 (pbk. : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781626166790 (ebook : alk. paper) Subjects: LCSH: Military art and science—History—21st century. |     War—History—21st century. | Military art and science— Technological innovations. Classification: LCC U42.5 (ebook) | LCC U42.5 .K745 2019 (print) |     DDC 355.02—dc23 LC record available at This book is printed on acid-free paper meeting the requirements of the American National Standard for Permanence in Paper for Printed Library Materials. 20 19   9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 First printing Printed in the United States of America. Cover design by N. Putens.


List of Figures








1 The History of Surrogate Warfare


2 The Context of Neotrinitarian War


3 Conceptualizing Surrogate Warfare


4 Externalizing the Burden of War to the Machine


5 Patron-Surrogate Relations and the Problem of Control and Autonomy


6 Toward a Just Surrogate War


7 Iran’s Externalization of Strategic Defense through Surrogate Warfare








About the Authors


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3.1: Clausewitz’s Trinity 3.2: Patron-Surrogate Relations

59 69

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The idea for this book developed over the past four years amid our work with militaries in Europe and the Middle East, witnessing the extent to which warfare in the twenty-first century has increasingly become a multilateral exercise involving a range of actors of which some are patrons and others surrogates. We would like to express our thanks to the various military professionals with whom we have worked and whom we have consulted and educated in recent years. Their experience and personal input into this research project was of great importance to the formulation of a conceptual argument deeply rooted in empirical evidence. Further, our gratitude goes to the reviewers whose comments and recommendations have helped sharpen the focus of this book. Finally, we would like to acknowledge the journal Defence Studies for publishing our article on surrogate warfare in early 2018, on which we have received invaluable feedback and comments from readers that have helped us refine some of the ideas and concepts in this book (“Surrogate Warfare: The Art of War for the 21st Century?,” Defence Studies Journal 18, no. 2). Andreas would like to thank the students at the Joaan Bin Jassim Joint Command and Staff College in Qatar and the UK Defence Academy for their constant availability to bounce ideas and refine the argument. In particular he would like to express special gratitude to the staff of the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre at the UK Defence Academy and the Oxford Research Group’s Remote Warfare Programme, whose roundtable meetings and discussion and focus groups have been instrumental in widening his horizon on all matters relating to warfare by delegation. The exchange with like-minded experts has clearly shown that there is a gap in the academic literature on what has become a quite prevalent mode of warfare in the twenty-first century that goes far beyond proxy warfare. Last but not least, Andreas would like to thank his family for their constant and unconditional support in all his endeavors. Above all, he would like to say thank you to his wife, Zohal, whose warm support, patience, and inspiration in times of writer’s block has helped him to stay sane and focused.

x Acknowledgments

Jean-Marc would like to thank his students at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi and at the Joaan Bin Jassim Joint Command and Staff College in Qatar as well as the participants of courses on disruptive technologies and warfare at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), who have always been a receptive and critical audience to the various ideas and arguments put forward in this book. Jean-Marc is also grateful to the Department of Defence Studies of King’s College London and the GCSP for having provided the best research conditions conducive to the publication of this book, be they in terms of thoughtful exchanges with colleagues or time and freedom to conduct research. Jean-Marc would like to dedicate this book to his dad, Jean Rickli (1943–2017), and to Alyson J. K. Bailes (1949– 2016), who was an intellectual mentor who showed how academic research can be applied to concrete policy and strategic problems. Finally, he would like to thank dearly his family, Emmanuelle and Alexys, for their constant support, patience, and understanding for the long time spent abroad to conduct research.


AGI artificial general intelligence AI artificial intelligence AWS autonomous weapon systems CAS close air support CIA Central Intelligence Agency (United States) COIN counterinsurgency DDoS distributed denial-of-service DoD Department of Defense (United States) FSB Federal Security Service (Russia) GAN generative adversarial network GCC Gulf Cooperation Council IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency ICBM intercontinental ballistic missile ICRC International Committee of the Red Cross ICC International Criminal Court ICJ International Court of Justice IDF Israel Defense Forces ILC International Law Commission IoT Internet of Things IRGC Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ISI Inter-Services Intelligence (Pakistan) ISIS Islamic State in Iraq and Syria KLA Kosovo Liberation Army LAWS lethal autonomous weapon systems LeT Lashkar-e-Taiba LOAC law of armed conflict MAD mutual assured destruction MI6 Military Intelligence, Section 6 (United Kingdom) MLC Mouvement de Libération du Congo

xii Abbreviations


Military Professional Resources Inc. North Atlantic Treaty Organization National Security Agency (United States) Office of Liberation Movements precision-guided munition Palestine Liberation Organization private military and security company Popular Mobilization Units Red Army Faction Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie Revolution in Military Affairs responsibility to protect Revolutionary United Front Syrian Democratic Forces special operations forces state’s monopoly on violence United Arab Emirates unmanned aerial vehicle United Kingdom United Nations United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons United States Kurdish People’s Protection Units


A glimpse at the world in 2019 reveals an uncertain geostrategic environment: a Western Hemisphere in a deep identity crisis, new powers arising in the East challenging global leadership, statehood in decay across Africa and the Middle East, transnational actors filling the voids left by states unable or unwilling to honor social contracts, rogue regimes trying to defy their immanent decay, and millions of individuals on the move to find a better future away from home. With the United Nations (UN) increasingly incapable of enforcing international law or upholding human rights against the will of its constituent member states or transnational nonstate organizations, the world arguably looks more anarchical in the early twenty-first century than it has ever been in modern times.1 The perceived anarchy of the post–Cold War era, therefore, seems to be more substantial and more medieval than the realist and neorealist anarchy of the early Westphalian system, the Concert of Europe, the interbellum years, or the Cold War. The root cause of this anarchy appears to be the increasing fragility of statehood, which renders the international system more uncertain and unpredictable than it might have been in the conceptualizations of Niccolò Machiavelli or Thomas Hobbes. Challenged domestically and externally by organizations operating globally and transnationally, legally and illegally, and often beyond statist regulation, the state as the predominant unit of analysis in international relations is under pressure.2 Nonetheless, communities, although willing to partially substitute or supplement traditional state functions with transnational, sometimes global assemblages, tend to still hold on to the state as the primary, even if primus inter pares, provider of communal security.3 The legitimacy of the state and its institutions is still connected to its ability to bring coercive power to bear in an effort to provide security inclusively to the communities under its auspices. As such, the state still stands out as the patron entrusted with the mitigation of threat and even more so with the minimization and management of risk. To this end, the state is supposed to raise the coercive means to tackle both tangible threats and fabricated risks.

2 Introduction

Working with military organizations and defense planners in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East for many years, we have come to appreciate the mammoth task of trying to predict the future by interpreting the past amid a context of perfect uncertainty. Blending subjective securitization with objective analysis—that is, the “known unknowns” with the “known knowns”—defense planning becomes an institutionalized attempt to prepare for potential risks in the future. Therefore, mitigating the likelihood and impact of the unknown unknown has become more prevalent since the end of the bipolar reality in the early 1990s. In the words of Ulrich Beck, we are living in “risk societies,”4 for which defense is no longer limited to building adequate coercive means to withstand military threats but becomes an exercise of managing a range of risks of which the political risks of inaction today and irreversible harm tomorrow are often assumed to be higher than those of overreaction. For the state to maintain its standing as the primary communal protector, it has to explore innovative avenues to achieve more perceived security with fewer resources and at a lower cost of blood—possibly without any kinetic effect whatsoever. Yet rather than concentrating on softpower alone, the state confronted with the ever-increasing risks and uncertainties of transnational conflict has to have a hard-power lever that can coerce those irresponsive to soft-power. This coercive lever of power that states used to monopolize has been subject to a fundamental evolution. Warfare is no longer just limited to the use of armed force but has expanded throughout the late twentieth century to include alternative means of violence that generate destructive and disruptive force to achieve a strategic effect without relying on physical violence. Carl von Clausewitz’s assertion that warfare was the “act of violence intended to compel the enemy to do our will” might still hold true if violence equals not only physical force but any disruptive or destructive force with a strategic effect.5 In the era of “soft war,” wherein warfare moves beyond kinetics into the cyber and media domains, coercion remains at the heart of any definition of war.6 Therefore, although we extensively look at warfare as a form of organized violence, we do include alternative means of cyber and media war that fall short of conventional forms of physical violence. Nonetheless, these alternative levers of coercive power can extensively disrupt and destroy the authority and legitimacy of state and nonstate actors, a primary objective of an aggressor committed to traditional warfare. Therefore, coercion might be under more scrutiny domestically, globally, and locally than in the past. The use of violence—low-intensity as well as high-intensity, physical as well as nonphysical—does not occur in a vacuum but is subject to an omnipresent media attention that shapes the narratives on the legitimacy, morality,

Introduction 3

and success of the application of violence. The management of print, broadcast, and social media has become a strategically vital extension of the war effort because it is where perceptions of right and wrong or victory and defeat are consolidated.7 While publics at home primarily demand wars to be efficient in terms of investing both treasure and blood, the global public is primarily concerned with ethical and moral legitimacy. Local populations affected by war want to minimize the collateral externalities put up them by domestic and external belligerents. All of the above present the state with a new security dilemma: having to engage in transnational conflicts overseas against intangible threats while presenting this effort as cheap, effective, and legitimate. In the Pentagon and in Whitehall, standoff warfare has become the standard answer to squaring the circle of postmodern warfare. It is a return to the ancient tradition of warfare by surrogate—namely, the delegation and substitution of the burden of warfare, partially or wholly, to a deputy. In an effort to minimize the exposure of one’s own troops to the operational risks of war and thereby minimize the political risks for policymakers, states increasingly share and delegate these risks with proxies, auxiliaries, and technological platforms. What emerges are interwoven networks of protectors and protégés, of patrons and proxies, and of sponsors and beneficiaries. Players in this complex transnational web of conflict neither necessarily follow the old Sanskrit proverb of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” nor its realist derivate of “my enemy’s enemy remains my enemy.” Instead, as warfare departs from being exclusively reduced to organized violence, surrogate warfare becomes another tool to achieve foreign and security policy objectives, sometimes in cooperation or reliance on unlikely partners. Therefore, the partnering with surrogates on the strategic, operational, or tactical levels might not always be a part of a major combat operation. Quite the contrary, it allows states to engage in protracted conflicts and simmering low-intensity wars that may be geographically dispersed and far removed from the direct vicinity of their borders. This book engages with the concept of surrogate warfare both historically and conceptually in consideration of the imminent sociopolitical transformations of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Thereby, we do not intend to narrow the book’s focus on particular case studies of “barbarian” force multipliers in antiquity, the medieval mercenaries, or the reliance of colonial powers on indigenous forces—let alone limit the concept to the proxy wars of the Cold War era. In essence, this book looks at the strategy of externalizing the burden of warfare and the consequences it involves on the conduct of war, be they political, strategic, operational, or legal. This book also focuses on the intrinsic dilemma of surrogate warfare, which is the trade-off between substitution and control. The

4 Introduction

degree of substitution of the patron’s burden of warfare correlates with an increase of surrogate autonomy and thereby the patron’s loss of control. Therefore, warfare by surrogate might not necessarily be the panacea for the strategic and operational challenges of the twenty-first century. However, in order to be able to make an informed decision about the utility and ethical implications of surrogate warfare, the concept needs to be adequately conceptualized beyond the mere empirical analysis of historical case studies.

The Concept of War by Surrogate Etymologically, the term “surrogate” derives from the Latin verb surrogare, meaning “to elect as a substitute,” thereby including references to the feature of proxy, replacement, and supplement.8 Although too operational in its focus, a niche in the special operations forces (SOF) literature provides a conceptualization that grasps the semantics of “surrogacy.” As Kelly H. Smith writes, “A surrogate, in its simplest sense, takes the place of something or someone. The surrogate is also a proxy for a particular function or set of functions. The word surrogate is not meant to be pejorative, but rather an expression that conveys substitution of one for another. Generally, it implies that the surrogate is acting on behalf of the interests of another, and is in some way distinct from the source of its authority to act.”9 In the context of warfare, the concept of surrogacy provides a broad umbrella for examining a patron’s externalization of the strategic, operational, or tactical burden of warfare, partially or wholly, to a delegate or substitute. The patron does so in an effort to principally minimize the burden of warfare to its taxpayers, policymakers, military personnel, and the country or organization as a whole.10 Both can be either state or nonstate actors, although patrons tends to be primarily states—both liberal states in the developed world and nonliberal states in the developing world. Therefore, the relationship between patron and surrogate can be intentional and unintentional. Throughout history, surrogates have been auxiliaries, mercenaries, insurgency groups, terrorist organizations, and commercial companies. More recently, states have also externalized the burden of warfare to technological platforms such as unmanned airpower, robotics, or cyber weapons. Cooperation, coordination, or force integration between the delegating patron and the executive delegate can be direct, indirect, or even coincidental. Thus, at the heart of this concept stands a relationship of delegation between an activator (i.e., the patron) and an executive agent (namely, the surrogate). In this relationship, the patron intends to either substitute or supplement its military capability

Introduction 5

with means that it deems to be more economical, more effective, more clandestine, or even more ethical. As such, the concept acts as an umbrella concept for more established concepts such as proxy, compound, or remote warfare by centering on the aspect of the externalization of the burden of warfare. This idea of using surrogates to externalize the burden of war is not revolutionary in itself. Since ancient times, empires and states have entrusted auxiliaries, substitutes, and proxies, at least partially, with the execution of military functions on their behalf. As much as irregular, asymmetrical, or unconventional warfare have been part of the norm in the history of warfare, so have surrogates.11 The Romans employed “barbarian” tribes to multiply their forces, relying on their local knowledge and relations with local populations; the most famous example might be that of Arminius, the German chieftain who supplied the Romans with tribal support in the inaccessible terrains east of the Rhine.12 The wealthy Renaissance city-states of northern Italy employed the condottieri—leading military free companies offering professional armed services—to protect their wealth from greedy neighbors.13 In the American Revolution, the British Army multiplied its forces by using thirty-five thousand Hessian mercenaries to fight the hybrid threat of Washington’s Continental Army and colonial militias.14 The Duke of Wellington owed his success in the Peninsular War against Napoleon Bonaparte’s Grande Armée to the support of the Spanish guerrillas attacking the French occupier’s lines of communication.15 The relatively small island nation of Britain was able to rule more than a quarter of the world by relying only on colonial surrogates: Twelve political officers, one hundred British soldiers, and eight hundred paramilitary surrogates could control ten million people.16 In the early stages of World War II, when the United Kingdom was far from ready to engage the Nazi threat directly, Winston Churchill envisaged employing continental resistance movements as surrogates to attack the Wehrmacht from the rear.17 During the Cold War, with the growing need for deniability, the superpowers often resorted to the use of proxies to achieve strategic objectives overseas, the Soviet support for the Vietcong in Vietnam and the US support for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan being the most famous examples. The obvious question is how the concept of surrogate warfare departs from existing concepts that deal with delegation, substitution, and supplementation in war. While the concept does not try to complement the already existing range of definitions of war by proxy, compound warfare, or remote warfare, it seeks to offer a holistic conceptual umbrella combining the various aspects of these different forms of delegation. Proxy warfare, a concept that has been lastingly defined by the literature of the Cold War, is limited to a state’s strategic employment of

6 Introduction

a human surrogate and does not expand to the use of auxiliary force multipliers employed remotely to supplement ongoing operations. Some might even argue that proxy warfare is limited to a state’s reliance on another state’s conventional forces.18 Moreover, the concept of proxy warfare lacks the capacity to consider the externalization of the burden of warfare to technological surrogates. Compound warfare, however, goes beyond the narrow definition of proxy warfare, which for the most part remains a relic of the Cold War, a context within which the patron was defined as a state actor merely exploiting the strategic proxy to advance external strategic objectives in an international struggle with another external state actor.19 It is worth noting that the concept of cyber proxy is an attempt to move beyond the legacy of the Cold War. However, the scope of cyber proxy is solely limited to “intermediary that conducts or directly contributes to an offensive action that is enabled knowingly, actively or passively by a beneficiary.”20 Compound warfare, which Thomas M. Huber defines as degrees of strategic and operational synergy between regular and irregular forces,21 looks at surrogacy more operationally, whereby two forces complement each other’s efforts by coordinating the planning and execution of military campaigns. Here both parties see cooperation and coordination, even if only marginal, as mutually beneficial since these serve their strategic or operational objectives. In so doing, compound warfare, unlike proxy warfare, does not require the patron-proxy or activator-proxy relationship that by definition puts the proxy at the receiving end of a chain of command controlled by the patron or activator.22 In compound warfare, the regular and the irregular force operate simultaneously, although with varying degrees of direct coordination and integration, with neither side necessarily following the orders of the other. Thus, in contrast to the patron-proxy relationship, the relations between the regular and irregular fighting forces in compound warfare are more egalitarian. Nonetheless, the concept of compound warfare lacks much of the strategic connotations that are essential for the process of externalization, while again falling short of accounting for new forms of technological surrogacy in the information age. The concept that comes closest to covering the complexity and diversity of surrogate warfare is the idea of remote-controlled or standoff warfare that Jon Moran outlined in a paper for the Remote Control Project. Moran expands the contemporary debate on remote drone warfare to the building of empire and the increased reliance of Western states on remote surrogates in the twenty-first century. The essence of “remoteness” is the delegation to alternative actors or platforms that allow the patron to remotely conduct war without putting its own troops in harm’s way—preferably in low-intensity and low-interests conflicts.23 Moran neither explicitly analyzes the process of externalization nor develops a

Introduction 7

model that comprehensively analyzes the autonomy-control relationship between patron and surrogate. Moreover, his approach might be too closely associated with the scholarly niche of drone warfare. To be more all-encompassing in the definition of remote surrogate warfare, we will keep the concept as general as possible, focusing on the aspect of the externalization of the burden of warfare. Thus, in this book we attempt to produce a more holistic picture of how surrogacy, although a constant in human history, has been rediscovered in its full complexity in the twenty-first century to allow states to cope with a globalized, privatized, securitized, and mediatized context of warfare.24 In so doing, the concept constitutes a departure particularly from the traditional conceptualizations of warfare that have dominated the literature since the nineteenth century. In this book, warfare by surrogate will not just be examined on a historical continuum in reference to the narrowly framed modern concept of trinitarian war but also as a sociopolitical phenomenon in a globalized world. As Clausewitz famously noted in his magnum opus, On War, “Very few of the new manifestations in war can be ascribed to new inventions or new departures in ideas. They result mainly from the transformation of society and new social conditions.”25 It is the reconstitution of sociopolitical complexes amid the era of globalization, exponential technological progress, and transnationalization that appears to redefine how communities interact with their political authority and ultimately how community and political authority approach organized violence. En route to what we define as “neotrinitarian war” in this book, the trinitarian state of the Westphalian era seems to have discovered the externalization of the burden of warfare as a means to survive as a primus inter pares, to remain the primary provider of communal security interests. Within a growing oligarchy over violence, both in terms of authority over and means of violence, the use of surrogates—human and technological; directly, indirectly, or coincidentally—provides the state with means to continue politics by coercive means.

The Argument In this book we are going to present surrogate warfare as a sociopolitical phenomenon rather than just another mode of war. While throughout history surrogate warfare has been driven by shortages of capacity and capability or the need for deniability in the international arena, twenty-first-century surrogate warfare is primarily motivated by the state’s need to conduct warfare within the context of globalized, privatized, securitized, and mediatized war. The state is faced with

8 Introduction

intangible threats that are subjectively manufactured by policymakers vis-à-vis near absolute uncertainty, taking into consideration risks that emanate from an increased number of state and nonstate actors operating across a transnational, multilayered, network-centric battlespace. Even small states with limited or no expeditionary capability or ambitions have to secure themselves and their communities against subtle risks that, even when originating domestically, are empowered by networks outside its borders. In essence, then, the trinity of society, state, and soldier (or of community, patron, and coercive capability) is no longer an exclusive, self-contained association. As communities develop more transnational links, sometimes to alternative patrons overseas, and security sectors are called on to conduct operations that are not exclusively concerned with communities at home, the traditional trinitarian bond that Clausewitz described in reference to the nation, the nation-state, and the national army is in a process of redefinition. Instead of merely defining these new assemblages as nontrinitarian, it seems more appropriate to call them neotrinitarian because of the fact that the alternative security assemblages that develop outside the state display the same trinitarian aspects of a community, a communal authority, and a coercive apparatus under arms. These neotrinitarian assemblages can operate both in cooperation and in competition with the institutions of the state—that is, they can either help the state fulfill its trinitarian duty to protect or undermine it.26 Thus, faced with these new assemblages that engage in organized violence, the state is looking for means to engage them either constructively or coercively in an effort to remain relevant. Here the partnership between the authority of the state with a surrogate can help the state to provide security for itself and its communities by minimizing the risks of inaction and excessive costs in terms of blood and treasure. These dynamics affect liberal superpowers in the same way as authoritarian regional powers or small states. The United States, for example, has expanded its portfolio of surrogate warfare in the past two decades from remote airpower platforms to an increased reliance on force partnering on the strategic and operational levels. Thus, President Barack Obama’s doctrine of “leading from behind” encapsulated the growing reliance on surrogates, embodied here by traditional and unconventional US allies fighting to enforce or defend peripheral US interests. Even President Trump’s policy is characterized by US disengagement of American troops in favor of an increase of burden sharing of the United States’ traditional allies as well as different surrogates on the ground. In circumstances similar to those of other Western powers, the political risks of both inaction and unforeseen consequences, as well as of overreaction through major combat operations, have driven US policymakers to

Introduction 9

rely on surrogates to minimize the costs of wars in conflicts that in the eyes of the public must not be ignored but do not allow for an escalation of US commitment beyond a certain threshold. The US government is called on to provide increased levels of security against intangible threats that do not provide the urgency for the American public to sacrifice blood and treasure.27 Hence, as the case of the war on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq demonstrates, the US government is asked to contain risks in these localities that could potentially develop into direct threats to the United States but are not perceived as such by the public. In an effort to stabilize these conflicts against locally based transnational actors, thereby arguably providing positive externalities primarily to local communities rather than to the American people, the US cannot expose its own military personnel to high operational risks or invest too many resources on a major combat operation—particularly not when the US has to simultaneously contain the risks to European security in Ukraine or the risks of major escalation on the Korean Peninsula. Consequently, airpower and local rebel groups provide the US with the hard-power lever they require to keep involved in these simmering conflicts.28 The punitive air strikes in response to the Bashar al-Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in Syria by a coalition of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France in April 2018 are a case in point. After having continuously drawn lines in the sand, new governments in Washington and Paris drove a more assertive agenda whereby inaction in the face of chemical weapons use could no longer stand without losing any remaining lever of deterrence for the future. At the same time, the West could not afford getting drawn into a complex civil war that was arguably already dominated by Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Most importantly, the West could not bear the political costs of military personnel being exposed to the operational risks of sophisticated air-defense systems. The solution: The operation to uphold the international norm prohibiting the use of chemical weapons was solely conducted by standoff weapons fired a safe distance from the target areas.29 What emerges is a neotrinitarian assemblage between the US government, local forces, and technological platforms providing security not primarily as an American public good but more as a regional transnational good. Similarly, the technological surrogate tends to replace US “boots on the ground” as contingent sizes are increasingly becoming smaller. These dynamics are not unique to liberal Western states. President Vladimir Putin’s Russia increasingly relies on serving or retired Russian soldiers employed as contractors by private military and security companies (PMSCs) owned by businessmen close to the Kremlin.30 Providing combat services, these contractors have become powerful force multipliers for Putin, augmenting Russian troop levels in

10 Introduction

wars that are unpopular on the home front, such as the war in Syria. In 2016, images surfaced suggesting that contractors working for Russian PMSCs Wagner and the Slavonic Corps had embedded with proregime militias across the Syrian battlespace. Contractors were photographed in full battle gear, and dozens were reportedly killed on the front line, implying that Russian contractors were directly involved in combat.31 In fact, as indicated by an episode in February 2018 in which US-supported rebels killed several hundred Russian contractors,32 these surrogates seem to allow Putin to outsource casualties to the market—something that becomes of interest as the Russian public appears to become increasingly sensitive to casualties in what it considers to be a war of choice.33 The assemblage between the Russian state and nonstate actors generates discrete expeditionary capability to achieve disruption overseas at limited human and political costs. In Nigeria, an emerging power in West Africa suffering from structural insecurities, security assemblages look essentially different as the external and internal push-and-pull factors differ entirely from states in the developed world. This country divided along religious and ethnic fault lines and governed by exclusive neopatrimonial elites has witnessed an extensive activity of nonstate contenders challenging the authority of the central government. Militias in the Niger Delta and the jihadist militant group Boko Haram in the northeast represent the most prominent local insurgencies, which the government is trying to address, making use of commercial and noncommercial surrogates. Lacking the capacity and the capability, as well as the legitimacy in the eyes of local communities, the Nigerian state has invested in security assemblages with maritime security companies,34 private military companies,35 and rebel groups.36 Here the state partners with surrogates that supplement the state’s capabilities and legitimacy to provide public security to communities that have withdrawn their support for the central government. In an effort to retain relevance within a complex, multilayered conflict over authority, legitimacy, and access to resources, the ruling elites have discovered that the partial delegation of the burden of warfare of counterinsurgency (COIN) and counterpiracy to surrogates provides the state with a degree of public authority as a manager of a neotrinitarian security complex. Instead of undermining the standing of the state, it brings the state back into the picture despite the fact that the management of violence is partially outsourced to surrogates. In essence, surrogate warfare transforms the sociopolitical concept of security that has evolved in the late eighteenth century from a trinitarian into a neotrinitarian complex. Rather than characterizing this complex as nontrinitarian as Martin Van Creveld does in his Transformation of War, the new neotrinitarian assemblages are hybrid sociopolitical associations between communities, states, and a range

Introduction 11

of new security providers, new technologies, and norms. In that way, they retain a resemblance of the fundamental tripolar divide between a patron as an agent of a community delegating security provision through organized violence to a security provider. We argue in this book that externalizing the burden of warfare from the trinitarian complex to surrogates on the outside allows states to continue providing security as an increasingly abstract global good in transnational conflicts against actors disregarding the sovereignty and territoriality of states. By keeping the financial, human, and ultimately political costs for states in war to a minimum, enabling states to operate within a realm of public discretion and international deniability, the neotrinitarian security assemblages between patron and surrogate offer the state ways and means to deal with the risks of twenty-first-century conflict. However, without the covenantal bonds between the authority strategically directing organized violence and the agent executing violence, the patron-surrogate relationship bears inherent risks that are alien to the trinitarian security assemblages that had come close to monopolizing the means over violence in the Western world in the nineteenth century. Unlike conventional civil-military relations between society, state, and citizen soldier, the relationship between patron and surrogate is often one of a temporary nature. Command and control becomes a fluid concept when surrogates readily advance into conflict with varying degrees of autonomy. The aspect of delegation, supplementation, or substitution intrinsically entails degrees of deputation whereby the deputy is entrusted to achieve tasks autonomously with limited or no patron oversight. This loss of patron control affects both the effectiveness and ethics of surrogate war, as this book intends to show. Thus, although at first appearing to provide the state with almost a silver bullet for its twenty-first-century challenges, the externalization of the burden of warfare to surrogates leads to fundamental issues in the way violence is being used in the century ahead. As much as it might be a response to what Hedley Bull might call a neomedieval anarchy,37 it might also contribute to the unpredictability, uncertainty, unmanageability, and proliferation of postmodern conflict.

Book Outline Chapter 1 introduces the reader to the phenomenon of surrogate warfare historically, from antiquity to the postmodern era. As the chapter illustrates, the externalization of the burden of warfare has been a constant in warfare since pre-Westphalian times. The chapter commences by providing an overview of the various forms of surrogacy that have emerged through history, from simple auxiliaries in ancient

12 Introduction

times to mercenaries to rebel groups and unmanned aerial vehicles. Further, this chapter categorizes patron-surrogate relationships based on the proximity of the principal to the agent, ranging from direct to indirect to coincidental surrogacy. In chapter 2, we outline the geostrategic context in which surrogate warfare needs to be understood. In a globalized, privatized, securitized, and mediatized world, modern concepts of state-centric security provision are being challenged. Therefore, this chapter lays the contextual foundation for understanding the future of security provision in what we define as an increasingly apolar world, where no state can exert unchallenged influence across all dimensions of power and where the perception of security might no longer be defined by tangible threats but subjective perceptions of risks. The changing character of war will be examined here against the backdrop of Clausewitz’s trinitarian concept of war. It will be argued that wars in the twenty-first century do not easily fit into the nineteenth-century trinitarian concept of war, which has to be perceived against the particular sociocultural and historic backdrop of the Clausewitz era. The surrogate wars of the new era are becoming increasingly neotrinitarian, with alternative security assemblages arising that provide security as private or global goods with the state’s former monopolist role in war being reduced to one of a primus inter pares. A conceptual framework for surrogate warfare is developed in chapter 3, providing a detailed examination of the model of warfare by surrogate. This chapter presents the externalization of the burden of warfare as a typical neotrinitarian war whereby the trinitarian relations between society, state, and security agent are being disrupted, allowing the patron to return to a premodern mode of war: the rational cabinet war removed from the passions of the people. Thereby, surrogate warfare provides the contemporary state with a solution to the dilemma of having to coercively manage risks but without relying on major combat operations. As this chapter shows, surrogate warfare allows the state to respond permanently and geographically dispersedly while widely avoiding international, domestic, or local scrutiny. The fourth chapter focuses on the role of technology as a surrogate in contemporary and future warfare. It starts by providing an outlook of the role of technology in warfare from a mere force multiplier to a stand-alone autonomous platform. Drones are the first concrete and visible systematic manifestation of the use of technology as a surrogate. The cyber domain, however, represents a domain of warfare that is particularly appropriate for the use of surrogates, as this chapter will show in reference to Russian activities in this domain. The next generation of weapons relying on artificial intelligence will have a degree of autonomy unseen before. The implications of these technological developments on the trinitarian

Introduction 13

nature of warfare have been underresearched because of their infant nature. Yet it is essential to analyze this type of technological surrogacy in an effort to appreciate warfare in the twenty-first century as, after two centuries of state centrism, autonomous weapon systems might fundamentally alter the way states wage war in the future. Chapter 5 focuses on the consequences of the trade-off between control and autonomy. This trade-off is key to understanding surrogate warfare as different push-and-pull factors make patrons seek maximum control over the surrogate by dissociating themselves as much as possible from the surrogate through high degrees of substitution. The surrogate, however, seeks to maintain autonomy from the patron while ensuring a constant level of external support. These push-and-pull factors determine the volatile nature of the relationship between patron and surrogate as principal and agent. Degrees of substitution and consequently surrogate autonomy or patron control are dynamic as relationships evolve from dependency to codependency. This chapter will therefore examine the whole range of surrogate relationships and provide a taxonomy ranging from indirect delegation over force multiplication to full-out substitution— looking not only at human surrogates but also technological surrogates. In so doing, this chapter evaluates the costs and risks of surrogate warfare linked to principal-agent theory—an angle that has been widely neglected by the literature thus far. Chapter 6 sheds light on the phenomenon from an ethical point of view, applying principles of just war theory to the externalization of the burden of warfare. From a jus ad bellum point of view, this chapter discusses how the resort to warfare by surrogate conforms to both the normative and philosophical debates about just war. The delegation of authority to external surrogates has an impact on the patron’s reasonable chance of success, potentially its right motive and intent, the proportionality of effort, and the criterion of right authority, as well as the question of whether force is really being employed as an act of last resort. The second part of the chapter looks at surrogate warfare from a jus in bello angle to highlight the moral implications of the use of surrogates in complex operational environments. The key focus in the second part of the chapter is on the patron’s legal and moral responsibility for surrogate action. The loss of patron control over ever-more autonomous human and technological surrogates does not necessarily exempt the patron from the duty to ensure that surrogates operate ethically and in conformity with international law—a duty that become increasingly difficult for patrons to fulfill, as examples show. Chapter 7 brings the various analytical debates together, applying them to the case study of Iranian surrogate warfare since 1979. As this chapter shows, unlike

14 Introduction

any other state, Iran has mastered surrogate warfare domestically and externally in counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and strategic defense. This chapter demonstrates how the regime in Tehran has come to embrace asymmetrical warfare by surrogate as its standard modus operandi of strategic defense. A particular focus will be directed toward the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its Quds Force as the prime vehicle of Iranian surrogate warfare in the Middle East. In contrast to Western foreign intelligence services or SOF, Iran not only externalizes the burden of war in an effort to disguise its activities but has relied on surrogates as an effective tool to secure Iranian interests overseas. While the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the United Kingdom’s Military Intelligence, Section 6 (MI6) might employ surrogates covertly on smaller projects of often more peripheral interest, surrogate warfare for Iran is an integral part of strategic deterrence and defense.

Notes 1. “Anarchy” is here defined in reference to the absence of a coherent global governance system able to regulate global affairs through an effective enforcement mechanism. See Buzan and Little, “Reconceptualizing Anarchy.” 2. In this book, “state” and “statehood” will be defined in reference to the Westphalian state in accordance with the international law tradition, revolving around territorial integrity and sovereignty—arguably two features that cause friction with the changing concept of statehood in the early twenty-first century. We chose the Westphalian tradition so as to depict the dichotomy of this concept of statehood with the reality of transnationalism in the new millennium. 3. For security assemblages, see Abrahamsen and Williams, Security beyond the State, 91. 4. See Beck, World Risk Society. 5. Clausewitz, On War, 83. 6. Gross, Meisels, and Walzer, Soft War, 1–3. 7. Singer and Emerson, Like War. 8. “Surrogate,” Oxford English Dictionary, 9. Smith, “Surrogate Warfare in the 21st Century,” 40. 10. Krieg, “Externalizing the Burden of War,” 99. 11. Mumford, Proxy Warfare, 1. 12. Lacey, “Conquering Germania.” 13. Singer, Corporate Warriors, 22. 14. Atwood, Hessians. 15. Boot, Invisible Armies, 82.

Introduction 15

1 6. Ferris, “Small Wars and Great Games,” 201. 17. Mansoor, “Introduction: Hybrid Warfare in History,” 4. 18. See Aid, Intel Wars, 132. 19. Deutsch, “External Involvement in Internal War,” 102. 20. Maurer, Cyber Mercenaries, 16. 21. See Huber, “Compound Warfare.” 22. Bar-Siman-Tov, “Strategy of War by Proxy,” 269. 23. See Moran, Remote Warfare. 24. See Krieg and Rickli, “Surrogate Warfare.” “Mediatization” refers to a process in which the reality of social and political institutions are increasingly shaped or directed by mass media. War itself has become highly shaped by the impact of mass media. See Gianpietro Mazzoleni and Winfried Schulz, “‘Mediatization’ of Politics: A Challenge for Democracy?,” Political Communication 16, no. 3 (1999): 247–61. 25. Clausewitz, On War, 515. 26. Abrahamsen and Williams, Security beyond the State, 91. 27. Bacevich, “Autopilot Wars.” 28. Krieg, “Externalizing the Burden of War.” 29. Stewart and Ali, “U.S. Strikes Cripple.” 30. Allison Quinn, “Vladimir Putin Sent Russian Mercenaries to ‘Fight in Syria and Ukraine,’” The Telegraph, March 30, 2016, /30/vladimir-putin-sent-russian-mercenaries-to-fight-in-syria-and-uk/. 31. SecDev, “Russian Private Military Contractors.” 32. Tsvetkova, “Russian Toll in Syria Battle.” 33. Gerber and Mendelson, “Casualty Sensitivity”; Nathaliya Vasilyeva, “Thousands of Russian Private Contractors Fighting in Syria,” Washington Post, December 12, 2017. 34. Author interview with a navy special operations forces commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Shrivenham, UK, May 19, 2017. 35. See Barlow, “Rise, Fall, and Rise Again.” 36. Onuoha, “Resurgence of Militancy,” 4. 37. Bull, Anarchical Society.



The History of Surrogate Warfare

It was a warm day in late May 1294 BC when Pharaoh Ramses II and his vanguard reached the Hittite city of Kadesh on the Orontes River in what is today Syria, after a month’s march through Canaan along the Mediterranean Coast. The enemy Hittite forces had taken position behind the city and awaited the Egyptians—spies having informed the Hittite king, Muwatalli II, days before about the pharaoh’s advance. When the Egyptian vanguard surrounding the pharaoh started to erect its camp, the Hittites attacked, knowing that two major components of the Egyptian army had not yet arrived.1 Encircled by Hittite chariots and taken by surprise, the young pharaoh had to fight for his life, hoping that his reinforcements would arrive before it was too late. He was able to repel the attackers through the help of the N‘rn—mercenaries from Canaan who accompanied the Egyptians. The N‘rn, as Egyptian auxiliaries, saved the day for the pharaoh, who commenced his counterattack as soon as reinforcements arrived the next day.2 Thousands of Egyptian chariots supported by Numidian mercenaries on horseback were able to push the Hittites back to the eastern banks of the Orontes River.3 Although Ramses was unable to capture Kadesh after days of fighting, the young pharaoh consolidated his leadership as a military commander on a par with the leader of the other superpower of the time, the Hittite Empire. If it had not been for the force multipliers from the Maghreb and the Levant providing him with niche capabilities and capacity, Ramses might have either not returned to Egypt alive or only as the weak pharaoh who lost the Levant for the Egyptians. On March 1, 1579, the Golden Hind, the galleon of English privateer Sir Francis Drake, caught up with the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, nicknamed the Cacafuego. For more than a month, Drake had chased the Cacafuego up the South American Pacific coast. When the Golden Hind appeared alongside it, the Spanish commander, San Juan de Antón, was determined not to surrender his treasures to the English. It was thus not surprising that when Drake

The History of Surrogate Warfare 17

shouted to the Spaniards, “You must strike your sails in the name of the Queen of England!” Antón refused to cooperate.4 The Golden Hind opened fire, one of the masts of the Cacafuego was splintered, and the Spanish commander was wounded. Drake’s men swarmed aboard, seizing the greatest prize any Englishman had ever captured: eighty pounds of gold, thirteen chests of silver coins, and twenty-six tons of silver bars, jewels, and other valuables—the whole annual yield of gold and silver from the Spanish colonies in South America.5 When Drake returned to Plymouth a year later after circumnavigating the globe, he was able to present Queen Elizabeth I with spoils amounting to half the ordinary annual revenue of the Crown.6 Despite the queen’s diplomatic efforts to reconcile with the Spanish Empire, Drake, equipped with a royal letter of marque, had proven to be her most effective weapon to “annoy the King of Spain in his Indies.”7 Sir Francis Drake, a licensed pirate preying on Spanish galleons in the colonies, had provided Queen Elizabeth I with a capability otherwise not had and a degree of plausible deniability in the competition for supremacy of the seas. Ultimately it was privateers such as Drake who paved the way for the rise of England, and later Britain, as a colonial superpower amid the demise of the Spanish Empire. In late November 2009, surveillance cameras in the Iranian enrichment facility of Natanz installed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) observed how workers were carrying out, crate by crate, broken centrifuges from an underground laboratory. By late spring of 2010, more than 10 percent of all centrifuges had to be replaced8—all that after the Siemens-made industrial controller software had altered, without the operators noticing it, the centrifuges’ rotor speeds, inducing excessive vibrations and distortions that would ultimately destroy them.9 At the height of the international community’s dispute with Iran over its nuclear program, Natanz and some other Iranian nuclear facilities had been attacked by a cyber worm, a malware meticulously designed to infect the Windows-based controller systems in use to regulate the physical processes in a nuclear laboratory. The worm, called Stuxnet, was introduced through a USB flash drive and not over the Internet.10 It was not controlled from overseas but was a stand-alone malware that, instead of stealing digital data, corrupted the command system so as to physically destroy centrifuges that could have well been classified as military targets, most notably by the United States and Israel.11 Stuxnet is believed to be the work of a joint US-Israeli endeavor to slow down the Iranian nuclear program.12 It arguably allowed both powers to strike right at the heart of Iran’s most protected nuclear facility under the cloak of plausible deniability and without mobilizing military capacity that would have generated immense political and financial costs. As these examples illustrate, surrogate warfare is far from being exclusively a


Chapter 1

twenty-first-century phenomenon. The externalization of the burden of warfare is as old as warfare itself and as diverse in character as the surrogates that bear the burden. Surrogates are not just the enemy’s enemy as proxies are, and they are not just some militias or revolutionaries who support the same ideological causes as the patron. The idea of authorizing a substitute to incur the costs of war partially or wholly in the name of a patron is something more fundamental than the Cold War concept of warfare by proxy. In the history of warfare, surrogates were auxiliaries, privateers, mercenaries, rebels, insurgents, or private companies—only later did they include terrorist organizations, militias, other states, and ultimately technological platforms. All three cases give distinct examples of surrogates that within their context have allowed patrons to thrive despite the absence of indigenous, state-owned capacity and capability to sustain the operational burden of warfare. The impact these operational surrogates had, though, was strategic: Pharaoh Ramses II was able to galvanize his power vis-à-vis his main adversary, granting him the kudos required to work toward a peace agreement later on; Queen Elizabeth I was able to disrupt the Spaniards lines of communication, eventually turning the tide in the naval balance of power between England and Spain; and the developers of Stuxnet had a clear objective to disrupt operations within Iran’s nuclear facilities—an objective that was achieved as Iran had to divert time and resources to restoring its facilities. This chapter is going to give an introduction into the complexity and diversity of surrogate warfare through the ages, discussing how the concept has evolved from early antiquity to the surrogate wars of the twenty-first century. Understanding how patrons have used surrogates in its various forms throughout history provides the historical contextualization of the phenomenon from the operational auxiliaries of ancient Rome to the technological surrogates employed by twentyfirst-century powers.

Forms of Surrogates The earliest form of surrogacy has been the partial delegation of the operational burden of warfare to auxiliaries and force multipliers embedded into the overall strategic framework of the patron. That is to say that auxiliaries, commonly forces with niche capabilities, were hired for pay by the ancient empires to supplement existing skill and capacity with special abilities. Slingers from the Balearic Islands, cavalry forces from North Africa, archers from Crete, and Phoenician seafarers with special naval skills were employed by the empires of ancient Egypt, Alexander

The History of Surrogate Warfare 19

the Great, Carthage, and ancient Rome to achieve an operational advantage using skill sets and troop numbers that the empires could not have generated themselves. Strategically the empires of ancient times would rely on traditional proxies to administer their vast territories or lead wars in territories that were either not accessible to them or in which their own troops would be uncomfortable operating. Thucydides describes how during the Peloponnesian War in the fifth century BC the two protagonists, Athens and Sparta, relied on other cities as proxies to support their cause.13 Rome would use the Ghassanids in the Levant in its sixth-century war against the Persians to fight the local Persian proxy, the Lakhmids, as both empires lacked the capacity to do so using their own troops—particularly Rome as an empire in decline.14 To disrupt Persian trade in the Red Sea, Roman emperor Justinian later relied on the Ethiopians to conduct raids against Persian seafarers.15 In the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, patrons would substitute operational burdens of warfare almost entirely to mercenaries and private companies that provided military services to their clients in exchange for money. In a time when feudal armies were the cheap and omnipresent solution for putting boots on the ground in Europe, the rich merchant cities of Italy, lacking both the capacity and capability to raise large armed forces from their midst, found new means to transform their commercial wealth into military power. Venice’s use of specialist rowers during the Crusades of the eleventh century and later the large-scale delegation of warfare services to the condottieri demonstrated how professional arms for hire were militarily superior to the unprofessional armed vassals of Northern Europe.16 By the fourteenth century, Venice, Florence, and Genoa had almost entirely externalized the strategic and operational burden of war to free companies holding thousands of men under arms. These professional mercenaries were very much sought after because they had unique experience and expertise in the conduct of war, making them a powerful tool in the wars between Renaissance Italy and the medieval estate system that prevailed north of the Alps. For instance, Swiss mercenaries had a virtual monopoly on pike-armed military service throughout late medieval Europe. Their unique skill of massing attacks in deep columns with pikes and halberds, as well as the ease of contracting them directly through their local Swiss canton, was very appealing to the foreign rulers of the time.17 By the Thirty Years’ War, as warfare had become more technologized, requiring more niche capabilities, warfare in Europe had developed into an endeavor dominated by commercial agents acting as the strategic and operational surrogates for the great powers of the time. Albrecht von Wallenstein had become one of the richest men in the world at the beginning of the seventeenth century by offering entire armies to his patron, the Holy Roman emperor Ferdinand II. From his estates in


Chapter 1

Bohemia, Wallenstein equipped, trained, and led up to a hundred thousand men to victory—his operational and commercial effectiveness was unique at the time.18 In parallel, the Spanish and English Empires would commission privateers—private individuals commanding ships and crews—to carry out hostilities on sea against their patron’s enemies. Sir Francis Drake, described above, may have just been the most infamous in providing his patron with capacity and niche capability across an increasingly global battlefield where empires clashed. In the modern age amid the publicization and nationalization of the means of war, surrogate warfare took new forms. In dire need for troops to administer and control large empires spanning the globe, the rather small metropolitan states of France and Britain had no choice but to externalize the burden of colonial warfare to local, indigenous forces.19 Often following a policy of divide and rule, local militias and minority groups were empowered through Western arms and training to protect colonial interests overseas. The superpower of the time, Britain, had mastered surrogate warfare like no one else: Colonial volunteers were raised locally through companies such as the British East India Company, mercenary auxiliaries were sourced from the state of Hesse during the American War of Independence, and force multipliers were found in the Spanish guerrillas during the Peninsular War in 1808. While the Hessian contract soldiers were embedded with the regular colonial troops in North America, the guerrillas in Spain fighting the French were largely independent from British command and leadership.20 A hundred years later, Britain perfected the use of insurgents as surrogates in the campaign led by T. E. Lawrence in the Arabian Peninsula against the Ottoman Empire. Although operating widely independent from the British regulars in the Levant, the Arab tribes achieved high degrees of strategic synergy with their patrons in uniform.21 In the twentieth century, cold warfare was dominated by the reliance on proxies, allowing state and nonstate patrons to achieve military objectives at unprecedented levels of deniability. Ideologically conforming militias and insurgents were trained and equipped to ensure that the ideological adversary would not gain ground in a perceived zero-sum game. The most prominent examples of surrogate wars of the time were the proxy wars of Vietnam and Afghanistan—the former directed by the Soviets using the Vietcong guerrillas (and North Vietnamese regulars) to undermine the US war efforts to preserve the South Vietnamese government and the latter by the Americans employing the mujahedeen as surrogates to wear down Soviet capabilities at the Hindu Kush.22 Apart from these obvious examples of state-on-nonstate surrogacy, the Cold War also gave birth to a more discreet and indirect form of strategic surrogacy: the externalization of the entire strategic and operational burden of warfare through foreign military assistance.23 The delivery

The History of Surrogate Warfare 21

of military aid was the most effective means for the superpowers to allow their allies to fight their wars locally, thereby relieving themselves of the capacity-intense effort to maintain sufficient levels of deterrence everywhere at any given time. The Cold War in the Middle East was almost exclusively fought through surrogates, Israel and later Egypt being the most prominent US surrogates, while most of the other Arab states in North Africa and the Levant were clients of the Soviet Union. It was also in the Middle East where surrogate warfare through terrorist organizations became a policy of externalizing the burden of warfare, mostly by rogue regimes. Although the definition of a terrorist remains highly controversial and subjective, the systematic sponsoring of “freedom fighters” employing terrorist tactics to achieve ideopolitical goals has developed into an effort to disrupt public law and order in its immediate neighborhood and overseas.24 Arab states have supported Palestinian groups using terrorism against the state of Israel at home and overseas. Starting with its sponsorship of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya expanded its surrogate wars against a variety of declared adversaries in the region, in the West, and in Africa. Since the 1970s, the dictator Gadhafi used his petrodollars to finance leftist and socialist groups across the globe, most famously the Provisional Irish Republican Army.25 It was also during that time that terrorist organizations became each other’s surrogate. The relationship between the Baader-Meinhof clique of the Red Army Faction (RAF) in West Germany and Palestinian terrorist organizations was one of cooperation, allowing particularly the RAF in the 1970s to rely on Palestinian surrogates to exercise pressure on the West German government as the RAF’s main antagonist. The hijacking of the Lufthansa plane Landshut in Mogadishu in 1977 by terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine primarily served the objective of pressuring the West German government to release imprisoned RAF leaders.26 In the post–Cold War era, new forms of surrogacy appeared amid the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). RMA proponents believe that the new technologies deriving from the computerization of the battlefield in the late twentieth century brought with it an irreversible and fundamental transformation in the conduct of warfare. In addition, the renewed reliance on contractors employed through PMSCs made the battlefields of the 1990s and 2000s look profoundly different from those of the Cold War. The leading powers of the international system have accumulated unprecedented levels of wealth that they could invest in maintaining highly advanced technological armies supported by specialist contract soldiers who assist the trinitarian citizen soldier to achieve operational effectiveness and precision in executing military core functions. High technology,


Chapter 1

from the latest-generation airpower to robotics to advanced information systems, has put the soldier into a highly complex grid of network-centric operations. The uniformed soldier of the twenty-first century is able to externalize tactical and operational burdens of warfare to technological platforms, transforming him from a “shooter” into a mere “spotter”—the arguably most existential change of identity for the infantryman in the history of warfare.27 Though in its infancy, the emerging fusion between soldiers and technology will slowly give rise to a new class of soldiers, cyborgs that might in the future act as stand-alone weapon systems.28 The use of offensive cyber operations against civilian and military targets is the current evolutionary step in the use of technology to substitute for the patron’s boots on ground. It ultimately removes the kinetic military force from the equation of warfare. Regardless of the benignity of the means employed, the effects of offensive cyber operations on the target are just as disruptive as the kinetic effects that have been generated by the traditional use of force for millennia. Despite the absence or because of the absence of uniformed citizen soldiers from the equation, the cyber domain has become the “nonviolent” and nonkinetic force multiplier as it deceptively exerts nonphysical force though some of its effects can very much have physical consequences.29 While the most developed states invest extensively in technology as a surrogate, developing states continue to invest in militia groups to act as their substitute. State-sponsored or government-sponsored militias have become the means for authoritarian regimes in multisectarian states to maintain control over fractured societies—what statutory public security providers refuse to do, sectarian militias might be willing to do. Authoritarians are able to externalize the horrors of ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and genocide against its own citizens to nonstatutory surrogates willingly executing the sectarian agendas of their patrons. During the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the Hutu government relied on the Interahamwe, a Hutu militia, to expel or kill hundreds of thousands of countrymen of the Tutsi ethnic group.30 In the Darfur crisis of 2003, the Sudanese government supported the Janjaweed as an Arab tribal militia to “cleanse” Darfur of black African Sudanese.31 In the Middle East, former Iraqi president Nouri al-Maliki externalized the burden of ethnic cleansing of Sunni neighborhoods to Shia death squads since 2006, militias that were informally linked to Iraqi government ministries.32 Also, the Shabiha, an Alawite militia in Syria, has grown into a powerful sectarian surrogate of the Assad regime in the Syrian Civil War since 2011, cleansing, killing, and torturing sectarian outgroups.33 The use of the Houthis by Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former president of Yemen, was arguably a form of domestic surrogate warfare with the aim of undermining the legitimacy of his successor, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.34

The History of Surrogate Warfare 23

Categories of Surrogacy In addition to the various forms of surrogates employed by patrons, the nature of patron-surrogate relations can be categorized based on the closeness of the interaction between the patron and the surrogate. The variation in the form of surrogacy arises from the degree by which synergy between the strategic or operational command of the patron and the executive forces of the surrogate is direct, indirect, or coincidental. The higher the degree of cooperation between patron and surrogate, the more the former has control over surrogate operations. Conversely, the more the surrogate retains control over his own operations, the less direct patronsurrogate relations are. In some cases neither direct nor indirect links between the patron and the surrogate exist, making the form of surrogacy entirely coincidental. Before the twentieth century, direct surrogacy has been more common owing to the fact that deniability or discretion have not been main motivating factors for patrons to delegate the burden of warfare to substitutes. The auxiliaries of antiquity that constitute the earliest forms of surrogacy were direct agents of the patron, embedded into their command-and-control system and thereby subject to the strategic guidance and leadership of the patron. Operational surrogates who are not left with the discretion to either design or execute their operations tend to be direct surrogates of the patron. Only retaining degrees of tactical autonomy, direct surrogates are usually employed to enhance the effectiveness of already existing capability in the theater. Thus, direct surrogates act as force multipliers within an already existing strategic and operational framework. The Numidian cavalry employed by Ramses II in the Battle of Kadesh and the employment of local volunteers by the British Empire to augment its colonial troop levels are as much examples of direct surrogacy as Nazi Germany’s creation of the Waffen SS foreign legion during World War II and the externalization of the burden of warfare to manned and unmanned airpower in the twenty-first century. In the latter case— particularly when unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are being used as the soldier’s force multiplier—the direct surrogate can be a mere tactical surrogate under complete control of the soldier, enhancing his tactical abilities on the battlefield and providing intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, or firepower.35 However, direct surrogacy can also involve strategic surrogates, as in the case of the employment of UAVs for strategic purposes or in cases when the patron creates, trains, and funds a surrogate to act as its substitute. The example here could be the US government’s employment of Cuban volunteers in the Bay of Pigs in 1961, the relationship between Iran and Hezbollah since the 1980s, or the Russian use of private military contractors in Ukraine and Syria. In all these cases,


Chapter 1

the lines between strategic and operational surrogacy become blurry: The patron retains significant strategic leverage over the surrogate but allows him to plan and execute operations more or less autonomously within the strategic or ideological framework of the patron. In the Bay of Pigs disaster, whereby the CIA had tried to topple Fidel Castro’s communist government in Cuba by training and equipping a paramilitary invasion force consisting of Cuban exiles, the surrogate was provided with all necessary support prior to the invasion but was left with relative autonomy during the operation on Cuban soil itself.36 Hezbollah’s operations since the early 1980s show similar traits: The IRGC helped to build the Shia militia in southern Lebanon but, despite maintaining strategic control, allowed the “Party of God” to operate as it saw fit.37 The same is true for Russia’s surrogate troops on the ground in Ukraine and Syria. While strategic guidance comes from the Kremlin, the private military companies are left with operational freedom.38 In all three cases the patron-surrogate relationship was direct, although cooperation and control was limited to the strategic level, providing the patron with the necessary amount of discretion and deniability and the surrogate with a certain autonomy of movement. As history has shown, the proximity of these patron-surrogate relationships is far from static. They are highly dynamic and can turn upside down. After the duke of Milan, Maximilian Sforza, hired Swiss mercenaries to defend Milan and beat the French army of Louis XII at the battle of Novara in 1513, the Swiss took control of the duchy while maintaining Sforza in power as a puppet.39 The surrogate had become the patron. Indirect surrogacy has been on the rise since the twentieth century. The traditional proxy war during the East-West conflict after 1945 is a stereotypical example of indirect surrogacy. Unlike direct surrogates, indirect surrogates do not supplement but rather substitute for the patron’s capabilities. Here patrons externalize almost the entire burden of war—political, financial, and military—to a surrogate whose allegiance to the common cause is flexible. The reason is that the more distant the strategic objectives between patron and surrogate, the less likely the patron-surrogate relationship remains mutually beneficial in the long run. Compatibility and complementarity of strategic interests does not equal strategic synergy.40 Although indirect strategic surrogates were used throughout history, it was the nature of the international system in the twentieth century that made indirect forms of surrogacy particularly attractive. The Spartans’ reliance on the oligarchs of Corfu in the fight against the Athenian alliance in the Peloponnesian War, Spain’s support for Irish rebels in the Nine Years’ War with Britain in the late sixteenth century, and Britain’s contracting with the British East India Company to colonize the Indian subcontinent since the early 1600s are historic examples of the indirect

The History of Surrogate Warfare 25

externalization of the burden of warfare to surrogates over whom the patron had little control. In the twentieth century, as deniability, legitimacy, and ideology became even more important factors in warfare, indirect surrogate warfare provided a silver bullet to not only supplement capacity and capability to deputies but also to externalize the entire burden of warfare to proxies that would operate with limited strategic control and oversight. Thus, apart from operations—that is, the preparation and conduct of military action—in cases of indirect surrogacy, the strategic planning of war is also being outsourced to a surrogate who might receive aid, training, and equipment but does not necessarily remain receptive to patron control. Here loyalty is often a product of the ancient Sanskrit principle of “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.” That is to say, as long as both patron and surrogate have overlapping strategic interests, cooperation can be mutually beneficial. Nonetheless, because of the lack of direct proximity between sponsor and substitute and the lack of direct control over surrogate strategy and operations, indirect surrogacy is often a temporary phenomenon. During the Cold War, most of the proxy wars were fought using indirect surrogates—forces whose primary strategic objectives may have been similar to those of the patron while the ways to achieve them were often different. As interests and motivations evolved, the strategic consensus between patron and surrogate often evolved as well, undermining the sustainability of the relationship. The few exceptions might have been the superpowers’ state proxies outside the military alliances of the Warsaw Pact and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). These state proxies, such as Cuba, itself a proxy of the Soviet Union / Russia, and Israel, the US proxy in the Middle East, and even North Korea, the Chinese proxy on the Korean Peninsula, have remained state proxies for the patrons for decades. Indirect surrogates tend to be parties to a conflict before the patron gets involved.41 The patron merely exploits an already existing movement or state that holds stakes in a conflict. The surrogate is thus not a creation of the patron. Surrogate warfare in the twentieth century provides a whole host of examples, even outside the bipolar struggle for ideological supremacy. When the United States intervened in Iran in 1953 to restore the power of Shah Mohammad Reza during Operation Ajax, America could already rely on a surrogate on the ground: Iranian royalists in the military who were exploited by and supported with millions of dollars from the CIA.42 In the North Yemen Civil War starting in 1962, Saudi Arabia, interested in maintaining control of the small country south of its border, supported the royalists who were already fighting against the Arab nationalist revolution incited by Egypt. Despite their mostly Zaidi Shia religious background, the royalists were guaranteed money from the Wahhabi Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,


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which was eager not to lose its feudal state Yemen to the Nasserist seculars from Egypt.43 Saudi Arabia’s support for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan more than a decade later followed a similar pattern. Perceiving itself as the defender of Sunni Islam, Saudi Arabia wanted to repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, seen as an ideological crusade by secular communists encroaching on an Islamic country. Without a noteworthy military of its own, Saudi used its petrodollars to support an already existing resistance movement, the mujahedeen, against Soviet aggression.44 Another example of indirect surrogate warfare outside of East-West divide was Iran’s support for the Iraqi Dawa Party during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. The party had been founded in the 1950s as a Shia Islamist movement and maintained extensive networks in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq—networks that Iran exploited to carry out bombings against Iraqi regime targets both inside and outside the country.45 In the Global War on Terror, the United States has relied on a range of indirect, strategic surrogates, such as Pakistani, Yemeni, and Somali government forces trained and equipped by the US, to crack down on terrorist organizations.46 The CIA also used an estimated fifty prisons in twenty-eight countries, mostly in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, as “black sites” to illegally detain prisoners.47 In the war in Syria, the US has trained and equipped rebel forces fighting both the Assad regime and ISIS. In general, the war in Syria has witnessed the development of a variety of different, complex, indirect patron-surrogate relationships. The US has relied on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to deliver military aid to the opposition before providing more open support to the Free Syrian Army. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have had their own indirect surrogate partnerships on the ground—the latter supporting Wahhabi organizations such as Jaish al-Islam,48 with the former supporting organizations close to the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria.49 Even nonstate actors such as al-Qaeda got involved in Syria through Jabhat al-Nusra, a direct strategic surrogate at first that increasingly developed into an indirect surrogate, planning and executing operations without effective control from the core of al-Qaeda. By 2016, Jabhat al-Nusra had severed its ties with the terrorist organization, rebranding itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and later Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in January 2017.50 In Africa, surrogate wars have also been on the rise as state sponsors employ existing liberation and rebel movements operating within an opponent’s territory. Uganda’s support for the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) and Rwanda’s backing of the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD) during the Second Congo War in 1998 resulted in a proxy war in Central Africa between two indigenous Congolese movements that were supported by state sponsors across the border.51

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At this point it is important to point out that the proximity between patron and surrogate is a dynamic one, allowing indirect surrogates to develop into direct ones and vice versa. The most obvious example for the intrinsic dynamic of surrogate warfare is the US intervention in South Vietnam, which escalated from an indirect strategic support for the South Vietnamese military under President John F. Kennedy in 1963 to a large-scale US military intervention supported by South Vietnamese operational surrogates in 1965 under President Lyndon B. Johnson.52 The same was true in 2014 when the US had to realize that it could not win the war against ISIS by merely relying on the forces loyal to Iraq’s Maliki regime as indirect strategic surrogates. Since November 2014, consecutive US administrations had to repeatedly augment troop levels in Iraq to help the Iraqi security sector cope with the jihadist onslaught. The direct coordination of anti-ISIS operations between Washington and Baghdad meant that the Iraqi security forces developed into a more direct US surrogate.53 The direct nature of this relationship became obvious during the battles to retake Fallujah, Ramadi, and Mosul from ISIS, where US SOF forces not only trained Iraqi forces but embedded with them to advise on matters of operational planning, synergy, and the delivery of close air support (CAS).54 Finally, surrogacy can also be entirely coincidental—that is, lacking any direct lines of communication between patron and surrogate. Although rare, in the post–Cold War era in which strategic and operational environments become increasingly complex, burden sharing between unlikely partners amounts to the most indirect form of surrogacy. In the Syrian Civil War, Hezbollah coincidentally advances the interests of its archenemy Israel by guaranteeing the survival of the Assad regime against Salafi jihadists, who for Israel are arguably the worse of two evils. In the war on ISIS, the United States could rely on the strategic overlap of interests with Iran and Russia—two powers that in the international arena have been Washington’s most passionate antagonists in recent years. Despite the absence of direct correspondence or coordination, the US Air Force indirectly provided air cover for Iranian ground troops in Iraq in 2014 and Russian ground troops in Syria in 2016.55 Iran and Russia thereby functioned as US force multipliers, providing ground components to a US airpower-only campaign. While this form of coincidental externalization of the burden of warfare is mutually beneficial, it does not guarantee any control of one party over the other. Although the US and Russia actively try to deconflict their airpower operations over Syria, both operate autonomously, without any leverage over or accountability to each other as the multiple failed attempts of establishing a cease-fire in Aleppo in 2016 demonstrated. The


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lines between patron and surrogate become blurry as both parties to the conflict benefit from the commitment and input of the other.

Conclusion As this chapter demonstrates, the use of surrogates in their various forms is hardly a new phenomenon of the twenty-first century. In fact, surrogate warfare is as old as the mercenary profession—arguably the oldest profession in the world. Men specializing in a niche capability of warfare might well be the earliest division of labor in the first civilizations of mankind. As Peter W. Singer writes, “The constant of conflict in human society meant that specialists in it could gain their livelihoods by marketing their relative efficiency in the use of force. They could do so locally or search elsewhere for better markets. The consequence is that the foreign soldier hired for pay . . . is an almost ubiquitous type in the entire social and political history or organized warfare.”56 The Cretan slingers, the Syracusan hoplites, and the Thessalian cavalry used by the Persians in their civil war in the fourth century BC are as much a testimony to this tradition as Alexander the Great’s use of the Phoenicians for his navy a century later or Rome’s use of Balearic slingers and German tribesmen as auxiliaries in the conquests en route to building an empire. The concept of the state’s monopolization of the means and the execution of violence is just as historically anomalistic as the modern idea of the sovereignty and territoriality of the nation state. Up until the 1700s, 25 percent to 60 percent of all land armies in Europe were composed of foreign auxiliaries.57 Hence, from today’s point of view, the externalization of the operational burden of warfare to auxiliaries is an anachronism—a return to an era when the sociopolitical underpinnings of warfare were fundamentally different from those espoused by classical thinkers such as Carl von Clausewitz, Helmuth von Moltke (the elder), and Basil Liddell Hart. That being said, even in the classic post-eighteenth-century world the use of auxiliaries had not completely ceased. Even in the era of people’s wars and vibrant nationalism, force multiplication through surrogates was common. Examples range from auxiliaries in the British navy over local surrogates for the protection of colonial interests to the French Foreign Legion. The externalization of strategic burdens of warfare to substitutes is just as common in the history of warfare. The famous proverb of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” derives from the Arthashastra, a Sanskrit treatise on statecraft from the fourth century BC, which reads, “The king who is situated anywhere immediately on the circumference of the conqueror’s territory is termed the enemy. The king

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who is likewise situated close to the enemy, but separated from the conqueror only by the enemy, is termed the friend (of the conqueror).”58 The Arthashastra thereby inspired a maxim for the cooperation with or employment of forces that are coincidentally or deliberately supporting one’s own cause, in an effort to minimize one’s own costs. Niccolò Machiavelli advises in his sixteenth-century magnum opus The Prince that a strong ruler is “supporting the less powerful without increasing their strength, undercutting the strong.”59 He writes further that “once the populace has taken up arms, there will always be a foreign power eager to come to its aid.”60 Accordingly, there is a realization that the externalization of the burden of warfare to local surrogates is an effective means to undermine the strength of the enemy without directly engaging in war: a classic case of surrogate warfare. The risks of a Volksbewaffnung, or “people in arms,” is something that Clausewitz outlines in chapter 26 of book six of On War. Leading a war through local surrogates rising up against an established order could be an effective means for the enemy to undermine the integrity of a state—thereby picking up on Machiavelli’s latter point.61 Sun Tzu’s maxim of “he will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces” is considered as a “valuable insight to understanding surrogate warfare” and the role in it of SOF.62 Hence, the externalization of the burden of warfare has been common practice throughout military history—even if the pretext and the context has changed. It is the context of globalized, privatized, securitized, and mediatized war in the twenty-first century that adds another layer to the millennia-old practice of externalizing the burden of war.63 In an effort to understand surrogate warfare as a postmodern sociopolitical phenomenon, the next chapter defines the context of neotrinitarian war in contrast to the traditional trinitarian context of warfare prevalent in modern literature.


1. Healy, Qadesh 1300 BC, 27. 2. See Schulman, N‘rn at the Battle of Kadesh. 3. Milliard, “Overcoming Post-Colonial Myopia,” 2. 4. Lace, Sir Francis Drake, 51. 5. Coote, Drake, 157. 6. Sugden, Sir Francis Drake, 128. 7. Andrews, “Aims of Drake’s Expedition,” 739. 8. Joby Warrick, “Iran’s Natanz Nuclear Facility Recovered Quickly from Stuxnet Cyberattack,” Washington Post, February 16, 2011.


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9. Albright, Brannan, and Walrond, “Did Stuxnet Take Out?” 10. Zetter, Countdown to Zero Day, 9. 11. Langer, “Stuxnet,” 49. 12. Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick, “Stuxnet Was Work of U.S. and Israeli Experts, Officials Say,” Washington Post, June 2, 2012. 13. Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 169–75. 14. Ball, Rome in the East, 35. 15. Bowersook, Throne of Adulis, 107. 16. Singer, Corporate Warriors, 25. 17. Fuhrer and Eyer, Schweizer in Fremden Diensten. 18. Kiernan, “Foreign Mercenaries and Absolute Monarchy.” 19. Ferris, “Small Wars and Great Games,” 201. 20. Sinnreich, “Accursed Spanish War,” 135. 21. Boot, Invisible Armies, 274. 22. Mumford, Proxy Warfare, 12. 23. Sharpe, US Foreign Assistance. 24. Byman, Deadly Connections, 5. 25. Bell, Secret Army, 556–57. 26. Mannes, Profiles in Terror, 315. 27. Lwin and Lwin, “Future of Land Power,” 82–83. 28. Gray, Cyborg Citizen, 57. 29. Stone, “Cyber War Will Take Place!,” 106. 30. Human Rights Watch, “Leave None to Tell the Story,” 327. 31. Human Rights Watch, Entrenching Impunity, 8. 32. Krieg, “Privatization of Civil-Security Sector Relations,” 16. 33. Lefevre, Ashes of Hama, 185. 34. Kasinof, “Yemen War Isn’t Just a Proxy War.” 35. See Best, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, 10. 36. Jones, Bay of Pigs, 95–99. 37. Barari and Akho-Rashida. “Pragmatic and the Radical,” 118. 38. Thomas Grove, “Up to Nine Russian Contractors Die in Syria, Experts Say,” Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2015; SecDev, “Russian Private Military Contractors.” 39. Shaw, Julius II. 40. Mumford, Proxy Warfare, 17. 41. Loveman, “Assessing the Phenomenon,” 32. 42. Kinzer, All the Shah’s Men, 210. 43. Dresch, History of Modern Yemen, 89. 44. Kakar, Afghanistan, 29. 45. Rayburn, Iraq after America, 14–19. 46. Hughes, My Enemy’s Enemy, 4. 47. Sherwood, “More than Two Dozen Countries.”

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48. Hudson and Lynch, “Road to a Syria Peace Deal.” 49. Bakr, “Qatar Runs Covert Desert Training.” 50. Al Tamimi, “Al-Qa‘ida’s Uncoupling.” 51. Autesserre, Trouble with the Congo, 48. 52. See Logevall, Choosing War, 357. 53. Stewart and Rampton, “Obama to Send 1,500 More Troops.” 54. Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “How U.S. and Western Troops Will Help in the Battle for Mosul,” Washington Post, October 17, 2016. 55. Tim Arango and Thomas Erdbrink, “U.S. and Iran Both Attack ISIS, but Try Not to Look like Allies,” New York Times, December 3, 2014; Anne Barnard and Mark Mazzetti, “U.S. Admits Airstrike in Syria, Meant to Hit ISIS, Killed Syrian Troops,” New York Times, September 17, 2016. 56. Singer, Corporate Warriors, 20. 57. Singer, 32. 58. Kautilya, Arthasastra, 296. 59. Machiavelli, Essential Writings of Machiavelli, 12. 60. Machiavelli, 83. 61. Hughes, My Enemy’s Enemy, 2. 62. Peltier, Surrogate Warfare, 36. 63. See Krieg and Rickli, “Surrogate Warfare.”



The Context of Neotrinitarian War

A lot has been written over the past two decades about the dawn of a new age in warfare. Ever since the end of the Cold War, scholars, analysts, and military professionals have predicted a radical change in the nature of warfare—in terms of who uses violence, against whom, for what ends, and using what ways and means. A hundred years after the Great War, which was supposed to end all wars, the transformation of the delivery of coercive force could not have been more fundamental. In 1914, jubilant young men enthusiastically jumped on the trains and into taxis that would bring them to the front, where a hero’s death was awaiting them in the inevitable clash of national wills that would quickly and dramatically settle old scores and determine new destinies.1 In 2014, the president of the allegedly only remaining superpower hesitantly authorized manned and unmanned airpower to deliver precision-strike capability in support of local forces fighting a global insurgency organization that had embarked on a jihadist crusade halfway around the world in the Middle East. The remarkable paradigm shift has not been so much the technological advancements in warfare allowing for the instantaneous delivery of deadly force over an extensive battle space as, much more, the sociopolitical foundation on the basis of which war is being waged in the twenty-first century. According to the classic Western military theories of Machiavelli, Antoine-Henri Jomini, Clausewitz, and Moltke, war is the social-Darwinist extension of the inherent evolutionary drive of mankind to further its own interests—more often than not at the expense of others. From the nineteenth-century viewpoint, mankind’s socialization brought with it the inevitable clash of wills, needs, and interests that on the macro level would lead to the escalation of organized mass violence between communities, nations, and civilizations. At the heart of the character of war were the passions of the people, even when war was led and orchestrated by politics and military. The nineteenth-century Swiss military theorist Jomini regarded the societal component

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of warfare as its defining character: “The passions which agitate the masses that are brought into collision, the warlike qualities of these masses, the energy and talent of their commanders, the spirit, more or less martial, of nations and epochs,—in a word, everything that can be called the poetry and metaphysics of war,—will have a permanent influence on its result.”2 The metaphysics of war in classical military nineteenth-century thought revolve fundamentally around the passions and wills of people to surrender blood and treasure in a patriotic strife not just for societal security but also societal aggrandizement. The aims of war were defined by emotional subjectivity rather than the sober, objective ratio—the latter being the component that for Clausewitz was provided by the state that directed the passions of the people.3 So, the essential emotion in the classical notion of war is patriotism, the individual’s vigorous love for the nation, or more concretely the individual’s love for the community as an extension of family. While these patriotic tendencies can be observed already in Machiavelli’s infamous contrasting juxtaposition of the citizen soldier as society’s agent and the mercenary as a commercial opportunist, they were really coming to the fore as part of the postrevolutionary zeitgeist after 1789. Turning its back on the professional military of the ancien regime, the idea of the levée en masse that had allowed Napoleon to keep the combined armies of Europe in check for years instigated a change of military thought in the nineteenth century.4 While neither the British nor the Prussians nor the Austrians had much time for the sociopolitical legacies of the French Revolution, they nonetheless supported the idea of an absolute or total war. Whether Clausewitz in his 1832 On War, Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz in his 1883 Das Volk in Waffen (Nation in arms), or Erich Ludendorff’s 1935 Der Totale Krieg (The total war), modern military thought in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries promoted war as a mass activity whereby civilian and military infrastructure were employed to achieve the nation’s strategic objectives.5 Driven by the intellectual zeitgeist in Central Europe of the nineteenth century shaped by romanticism and nationalism, warfare was conventionalized as the glorified pursuit of heroic sacrifice for state and nation. Alfred Tennyson’s 1854 poem about the charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War reflects this idea: When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wonder’d. Honour the charge they made! Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred!6


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The underlying assertion is that despite the horrors of war, the sacrifices the individual and society at large have to make are noble ones as they serve the nation and its interests. Hero worship, namely the elevation of the hero to deity through sacrifice, is not a phenomenon of the nineteenth century. Homer’s Iliad more than two thousand years earlier had already provided the foundation for the warrior hero. The epos starring the likes of Achilles and Hector glorifies the clash of heroes who for their values and interests would embark on an epic military campaign. Sacrifice was not so much a sociopolitical phenomenon, as war would elevate only the heroic leader, not the masses, who would bear the main burden of war in nineteenthcentury warfare. Unlike Kriegpoesie, or war poetry, in the 1800s, the Iliad did not glorify warfare as something desirable—maybe inevitable but not morally necessary for a community’s development and therefore something to embrace.7 Hero worship in era of romanticism and nationalism, more than in any other time in history, embraced the masses whose ranks were filled with anonymous warriors as the defenders of state and nation. Hero worship developed into a cult that in an almost postreligious fashion could invent national lieux de mémoire, or realms of memory, which were not necessarily physical.8 As Thomas Carlyle observes in his 1841 book, “Hero-worship is the deepest root of all; the tap-root, from which in a great degree all the rest were nourished and grown.”9 The deification of the warrior hero as the martyr of the nation is a phenomenon that is intellectually tied to concepts of state and nation and is thereby distinct to the post–French Revolutionary era in which the symbiosis of state and nation provided a frame to conceptualize sociopolitics. It manifested an image of warfare that the classical military thinkers of the time adopted in their conceptualization of organized violence as a national levée en masse to compete with other nations on the chessboard of international politics. Yet warfare was not meant to be a sober exercise of power politics. On the contrary, warfare meant channeling the emotions and passions of the people toward victory on the battlefield. While pre-1789 warfare in Europe was defined by a clash between the wills of kings and nobility armed with professional armies, the French Revolution added a third component to war: the people. As Clausewitz asserts in On War, war is an extension of the social milieu—that is, not just the pursuit of politics by other means but also a sociopolitical phenomenon that is shaped by the relationship between society and political authority.10 As such, “very few of the new manifestations in war can be ascribed to new inventions or new departures in ideas. They result mainly from the transformation of society and new social conditions.”11 Thus, it is the sociopolitical component of warfare, the interaction between the community and the state, that determines the nature of war. Even in reference to a nondemocratic system, such as the one Clausewitz

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lived in, societal sentiments over what it deems worth fighting and dying for can influence how the state conducts politics: “It follows that the transformation of the art of war resulted from the transformation of politics. So far from suggesting that the two could be disassociated from each other, these changes are a strong proof of their indissoluble connection.”12 For Clausewitz, the transition from the limited wars of the pre-1789 era toward the total war of the levée en masse era was driven by the fundamental reconceptualization of sociopolitical affairs and values during the French Revolution. Thus, for Clausewitz, any future changes in the nature of warfare had to be changes that were preceded by transformations in how societies constitute and position themselves vis-à-vis the state. What remained a constant in Clausewitz’s conceptualization of warfare were three tendencies whose interrelationship might change but whose role in warfare was undisputed: the trinity of society, state, and soldier.

Trinitarian Warfare: “The Classic” Beginning with the assumption that warfare is inherently a sociopolitical phenomenon, Clausewitz more than any other military thinker has conceptualized warfare on the basis of social and political relationships between three interlinked actors who represent war’s most fundamental tendencies. In this book we take Clausewitz’s trinitarian concept of war as the baseline from which surrogate warfare departs. The reason is that in the early twenty-first century, at least Western thinking about the nature and character of war appears to be linked to the tripartite concept of war. As Clausewitz explains in On War, As a total phenomenon its [war’s] dominant tendencies always make war a paradoxical trinity—composed of primordial violence, hatred and enmity, which are to be regarded as a blind natural force, of the play of chance and probability within which the creative spirit is free to roam and of its element of subordination, as instrument of policy, which makes it subject to reason alone. . . . The first of these three aspects mainly concerns the people; the second, the commander and his army; and the third, the government.13 What emerges from Clausewitz’s analysis is the wonderful trinity of society, state, and soldier whose raison d’être is tied to the delivery of security as the most essential of human needs. In a somewhat fatalistic way, Clausewitz’s conceptualization of warfare revolves around human wills, needs, and interests—and the protection thereof. Thus, warfare as the management of violence is a conventional means of


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human discourse no one can elude and everybody needs to prepare for. At its core, this human activity is an extension of human behavior within a state of chaos and anarchy. Within the context of the nineteenth century, then, the management of violence is no longer a solitary activity of each man for himself but has been extended to a sociopolitical activity for the protection of aggregate human wills, needs, and interests. And this is where the trinitarian concept of warfare ties in with the normative ideas of the social contract, particularly as conceptualized by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.14 While for many the theory of the social contract remains a normative theory about the formation of liberal sociopolitical affairs, in essence the social contract as envisaged by Hobbes and Locke in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it revolves around the provision of communal security and thereby relates to the trinitarian character of war according to Clausewitz. Accepting the socialDarwinist, misanthropic premise that in a lawless state of nature where homo homini lupus15—that is, man is man’s wolf—both Hobbes and Locke envisage the state as a communal authority to regulate social life, thereby protecting the individual not only from internal but also external threats. As Hobbes states in his Leviathan, a community of individuals needs to “erect such a Common Power, as may be able to defend them from the invasion of Forraigners, and the injuries of one another, and thereby to secure them in such sort, as that by their own industrie, and by the fruites of the Earth, they may nourish themselves and live contendly.”16 Particularly in Locke’s concept of the social contract between a community and the enforcement authority of the state, the covenant binds a discretionary and fiduciary association of individuals who together share a common definition of threat against a communally defined object of reference.17 Thus, based on Locke’s discretionary view, society and the state have the sole purpose of upholding public security for those individuals within this community—namely, its citizens. Public security or communal security, then, is the aggregate physical security of citizens, their properties, and their interests and values. The provision and maintenance of this communal security lies with the state, which is appointed by society as its enforcement authority. The bipolarity of society and state on their own, however, is incomplete and impotent. The social-contractarian duty of the state necessitates the delegation of the executive security functions to an agent inherent within the sociopolitical fabric of society and state: a statutory security sector. While historically this role was assigned to the most experienced and effective professionals, of which many were not raised internally but paid-for mercenaries, in Clausewitz’s postrevolutionary mind-set this role could be fulfilled only by the citizen soldier. The security

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sector, most notably the military, had to complete the trinity as the enforcement authority’s executive agent: If someone has a right to something, someone else has an obligation to provide for it. If a person has a right to life, the obligation falls onto someone to safeguard that life. If someone has a right to liberty, then it falls onto someone to safeguard that liberty. This is why states have an obligation to raise and maintain armies. Armies then perform a morally necessary function: safeguarding the rights to which the members of that society are entitled vis-à-vis external threats to their security, individually and collectively.18 Hence, the classic model of war that has been shaped by the military thinkers of the nineteenth century is one that anachronistically revolves around the trinitarian delivery or maintenance of communal security. Communal security providers raised from the midst of society provide security in the protection of national interests that are defined by the state in exchange with the community it presides over. For the nineteenth century social-Darwinists,19 the trinity of society, state, and soldier is inextricably linked to warfare and the necessity of individuals and communities to secure their position in an inherently belligerent, malignant international environment—a thought that prevailed long until the twentieth century. Martin Van Creveld’s concept of the trinitarian war as the clash of societies on the battlefield in an existential struggle for survival throwing in all societal resources and assets arguably constitutes the baseline in Western thinking on war against which both the nature and character of war is evaluated.20 Lassa F. Oppenheim’s classic 1926 treatise is a case in point: “War is a contention between two or more States through their armed forces, for the purpose of overpowering each other and imposing such conditions of peace as the victor pleases.”21 Contention through the use of armed force implies the application of violence—that is, the coercive generation of destructive and disruptive force as an essential feature of war, always managed and applied by the trinitarian agents of state and soldier. Society as the principal is the one to be secured but at the same time the one targeted by the enemy. While individuals suffer, only those in uniform, organized within the military apparatus sanctioned by the state, are the ones authorized to employ violence. The military as the executive public-security provider has to serve the state. The essence and moral core of their service is to defend that state through the management and application of violence in defense of the territorial integrity, political sovereignty, and vital national interests of that state. Their contract has an “unlimited liability” clause—they accept


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(and in an all-volunteer force, unquestionably voluntarily accept) the obligation to put their lives at grave risk when ordered to do so. Their contract also requires them to kill other human beings and to destroy their property when given legal orders to do so.22 The management of violence sanctioned by the state and executed by the military has in modern times, according to Max Weber, become the prerogative of the state. The notion of the state’s monopoly on violence (SMOV) originates in Weber’s 1919 pamphlet Politics as Vocation, in which he defines the state as a community that within a certain territory assumes the monopoly on legitimate violence. Weber clearly explains that the use of force by private individuals is not ruled out per se but requires the approval of state authority.23 Weber’s concept is effectively aligned with Clausewitz’s concept of the trinity. Moving away from the prehistoric state of nature, the trinity ought to authorize, regulate, and direct violence so as to manage the anarchy emerging from isolated individuals arbitrarily and violently pursuing self-interested objectives at the expense of public security. In this context, trinitarian war is not arbitrary at all, as it involves organized violence executed with the authority of the state by a public-security provider raised from within the community. The predominant characteristic of classical war between trinities is a product of the distinct historical and sociocultural context of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: In an international system defined increasingly by sovereign states monopolizing international affairs, violence lost its arbitrary, chaotic nature to become an organized operation following rules, which could be studied and theorized. The classical definition of war postulates a Westphalian understanding of state sovereignty and the French Revolutionary idea of popular sovereignty. Both determine how in the classical era trinities organized violence in terms of who fights wars against whom, for what reason, and how. Classical warfare takes place in an international state of nature wherein the trinity becomes a discretionary association for the advancement of communal security interests. The realist and neorealist assumptions of the zero-sum nature of international affairs and the implicit Darwinist character of humanity lead to a definition of war as the inevitable struggle for communal survival. Even in the mind of Clausewitz, in which the state is the societal authority receiving legitimacy from divine rationality, thereby emancipated from the emotions and passions of the people, policy had to be the product of communal survival interests.24 In the realist Machiavellian world of unconstrained international affairs, these communal interests clash, creating widespread sentiments of public insecurity—the foundation of conventional securitization.

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National interests, especially those deemed existential, are socially constructed. Thus, regardless of the rationality of the state, policy and ultimately warfare as the extension of policy remain, also for Clausewitz, tied to the emotions and passions of the people. The state has the duty to provide for the public security of the community it presides over. The military has the duty to invest blood and skills to execute policy. Both state and military do so as agents of a distinct community within a world of distinct territoriality, communal affiliation, and unchallenged state sovereignty. Despite the anachronistic nature of this conceptualization, the classical trinitarian notion of warfare as emerging from the sociopolitical reality of the late eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries continues to be the point of reference for military thinkers, strategists, and theorists in the postmodern era.

Neotrinitarian Warfare: “The Irregular” Warfare in the twenty-first century has been described as “irregular,” “unconventional,” or “asymmetrical”—always against the backdrop of the “classic model of war” defined and conceptualized by military thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Needless to say, the transition from the classic to the postmodern era of war has been fluent. T. E. Lawrence’s use of Arab irregulars against the regulars of the Ottoman Empire during World War I was as much irregular and unconventional in the classical sense of the word as the Wehrmacht’s operations against the partisans on the Balkans during World War II and the US antiguerrilla warfare in Vietnam during the 1960s and 1970s. Thus, it is hard to really determine when the classical era of warfare ended and when postmodernity began. When did irregular or unconventional wars become more common than regular, conventional military operations? Mostly, these assertions have been made in the literature on the basis of the changing character of warfare—that is, the changing means and ways to achieve military objectives on the operational level. However, it seems to be more accurate to analyze this transition from classical to postmodern warfare within the sociopolitical and geostrategic upheavals at the end of the twentieth century. It is the reconstitution of the Clausewitzian trinity and the fundamental change of the relationships between individuals, authority structures, and security providers that have defined this turn of an era. “Globalized” War In the era of Jomini, Gerhard von Scharnhorst, Clausewitz, and Moltke, wars were won in the one decisive battle in which the limited battlespace was overseen by the


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general who remained in direct visual contact with his soldiers. Armies traveled for weeks and months to reach the battlefield often only a few hundred miles away. Declarations of war would take days to be sent from one capital to the other. Territorial boundaries were supervised by toll keepers and enforced by garrison towns. The sovereignty of states, regardless of their size, was sacrosanct. And the only way sovereignty was challenged was by the means of war by one state against another. In the past two hundred years, the world we live in has changed more fundamentally and more rapidly than arguably ever in human history. While the leap forward from the immediate post–French Revolutionary years to the FrancoPrussian War in 1870 had already profoundly changed the lives of the European people, the changes that came with the Industrial Revolution were far from being as dramatic as those from the Digital and Information Revolutions a century later. With it came the fundamental transformation of sociopolitical, socioeconomic, sociocultural, and sociopsychological affairs.25 As the relationships between the individual and the community and between the community and communal authorities have changed, as well as those between communities, so has the nature of conflict and conflict resolution. It was only in the second half of the twentieth century that major upheavals took shape, which have commonly been summarized under the buzzword of “globalization.” James N. Rosenau characterizes this intangible complex phenomenon on the basis of a set of dynamics and revolutions: Among the most powerful of these dynamics are the microelectronic revolution that has facilitated the rapid flow of ideas, information, pictures, and money across continents; the transportation revolution that has hastened the boundary-spanning flow of elites, tourists, immigrants (legal and illegal), migrants, and whole populations; the organizational revolution that has shifted the flow of authority, influence, and power beyond traditional boundaries, and the economic revolution that has redirected the flow of goods, services, capital, and ownership among countries. Taken together, these flows have resulted in the globalization of local, provincial, national, and international affairs—a cumulative process that is both the source and consequence of eroding boundaries, integrating regions, proliferating networks, diminishing territorial attachments, coalescing social movements, weakening states, contracting sovereignty, [and] dispersing authority.26 The world at the beginning of the twenty-first century shaped by these revolutions has little resemblance with the relative order and predictability of the Clausewitzian era. Sociopolitical and intercultural affairs and exchange have merged into

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transnational flows that individual states or state authorities find difficult to contain. The resulting state of uncertainty has often been referred to as anarchical in absence of state regulation. Hedley Bull pointed already in 1977 to a neomedievalization of the world, a quasi-return to the pre-Westphalian era.27 From the point of view of the 2000s—with its 9/11 attacks and the spread of global jihadism, massive transnational migration streams, the financial crisis of 2008, and the widespread collapse of state authority across Africa and the Middle East—the idealist, classical conceptualizations of conflict in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries appear as historical anomalies. The institutions, organizations, authorities, and values that have emerged since then have been somewhat undermined. Units of analysis such as “national” and “international” compete with categories of “transnationality” to describe the sphere that affects individuals both within and outside the boundaries of the state and the nation and are two concepts that have equally lost their monopoly amid the disintegrating order of the twenty-first century.28 The global system has been paradoxically reshuffled. While the state de jure retains the full authority to regulate and manage global affairs, its authority is in practice challenged by nonstate actors operating in the global transnational system. The latter is characterized by numerous contests of influence among state and nonstate actors, implying that no single state can wield power across all dimensions any longer. What emerges appears to be an almost apolar system, just like that of medieval times, where no one actor can dominate this increasingly anarchic environment.29 Anarchy in this context exceeds the conceptual boundaries of the realist or neorealist idea of international anarchy. The new transnational anarchy is far more complex and unpredictable than that of the Cold War era, wherein the invisible hand of nuclear deterrence had put a lid on the competition between widely rational actors. The anarchical apolarity in the twenty-first century is far less than just a leaderless state-centric construct; it is a competitive system of transnational nature that is no longer shaped exclusively by territorial integrity and state sovereignty but by a dynamic interaction between state and nonstate authority across and beyond the boundaries of states. As a consequence, the premise on which sociopolitics and ultimately war have been conceptualized has changed: state-centrism. The idea that individuals and communities can escape the state of nature only through a social-contractarian covenant binding them to an enforcement authority modeled on the postWestphalian nation-state has become archaic in a world of porous borders and growing migrant populations. In a shrinking world where dimensions of culture, sociopolitics, economics, and security have become globalized, social interactions and exchange have become more frequent and rapid beyond the scope of the


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conventional social contract. In fact, as global trade and business relations have intensified and communication technology has made global interactions instant, globalization has become a process of shaping a global transnational sphere of political, social, economic, and security affairs. This process has accelerated further with the advent of the Internet 2.0 and the rise of social media, which have become key shapers of identities and communities. The concept of the trinity as revolving around state-regulated security and violence has thereby been challenged by the development of a global sphere inhabited by transnational societies,30 communities that do not exclusively see themselves as part of one national society, supervised by one national authority. Instead, these communities are part of fluid, sometimes temporary transnational network societies,31 which are not tied to variables of state or nation.32 Consequently, social, political, economic, and security affairs have transcended the public sphere of individual states. These increasingly transnational activities have eroded the degree to which the individual state can monitor and control the activities of its citizens as well as noncitizens within the state’s area of responsibility. Concepts of state sovereignty and territoriality have become more fluid.33 What does this mean for the Clausewitzian trinity? Contrary to Van Creveld’s assertions in his book Transformation of War, Clausewitz’s concept of the trinity has not lost its validity. Observing the increasing involvement of nonstate actors as the main protagonists in war, Van Creveld predicted at the beginning of the 1990s that toward the end of the second millennium the state was no longer in a position to determine the outcomes of conflicts. While state authority was increasingly undermined by nonstate actors and states refrain more and more from major combat operations, the level of transnational violence was on the rise.34 In addition to the decline of the state as the main protagonist in war, Van Creveld argued that the clear division of labor within Clausewitz’s trinitarian war—that is, between the government that wages and directs war, the citizen soldier who fights and dies, and the people who pay and suffer—was no longer apparent.35 Thus, according to Van Creveld, violence in the twenty-first century would become a nontrinitarian undertaking as concepts of state, society, and soldier can only be ill defined. As Mary Kaldor states, “Paramilitary units, local warlords, criminal gangs, police forces, mercenary groups, and also regular armies including break away units . . . operat[e] through a mixture of confrontation and cooperation even . . . on opposing sides.”36 These new wars, then, are no longer a form of organized mass violence but degenerate into unregulated, arbitrary, primordial expressions of anarchy revolving around destruction and disruption by various means. Nonetheless, Van Creveld’s use of the term “nontrinitarian” may have been hasty. Despite the fact that the classic trinitarian concept of war

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may have been unknown to most societies during history, in its rudimentary form the three elements of people, authority, and security provider have been apparent in most civilizations. What has changed through sociopolitical and technological revolutions has been merely the shape and form of these units and their relationship to each other. Even when a form of communal governance exists only in its embryonic form, it is still fulfilling its role of a governance and enforcement authority. And the division between civilian and warrior is as old as civilization as a whole. Therefore, even nonstate organizations such as ISIS, Hezbollah, and the PLO display trinitarian tendencies—certainly not in reference to conventional state-centric sociopolitics but nevertheless in reference to the disintegrating sociopolitical landscape of the early twenty-first century. Insurgency as a form of warfare is therefore often just the attempt of communities to formalize trinitarian and social-contractarian institutions.37 These neotrinitarian institutions are the product of a process of a denationalization and rearticulation of security functions from the state to alternative security assemblages.38 Rita Abrahamsen and Michael C. Williams characterize security assemblages as multistakeholder arrangements whereby, either in cooperation or competition, the state’s security functions are being externalized to nonstate entities such as rebel groups, mercenaries, or commercial companies. In some instances, these new arrangements allow the state to more effectively provide communities with security in face of asymmetrical, transnational threats emanating from nonstate actors. While in some instances the state actively pursues partnership with nontrinitarian institutions, in other cases these institutions develop in opposition to the existing state institutions that see neotrinitarian actors as rivals.39 Hence, globalization has fundamentally altered social cohabitation, association, and interaction between humans, thereby rapidly undermining the socialcontractarian nature of sociopolitical affairs that had defined the post-Westphalian world since 1648. The inability of the state to deliver public goods effectively and inclusively, most notably security, has created a sociopolitical polarization not just in the developing but also in the developed world. Public goods today are as much public goods as they are global goods—namely, goods that generate benefits beyond the public scope of the nation state. Thus, security in the twenty-first century, concerned with the delivery of security as a global or transnational public good, might no longer just be provided by the state for its citizens alone but also by alternative sociopolitical enforcement authorities that, imitating the trinitarian model of society, state and soldier, nonetheless have responsibilities and accountabilities to communities.40 Instead of defining war as nontrinitarian, war in the twenty-first century is much more neotrinitarian.


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“Privatized” War Neotrinitarian war has thereby been impacted by a privatization of security— namely, the delivery and maintenance of security by nonstate actors, of whom many are either exclusively private or transnational in their orientation. The privatization of security is both bottom-up and top-down, whereby the latter occurred against the backdrop of the former. Since the 1990s, scholars have predominantly looked at the privatization of security through the lens of commercialization—in so doing reducing the debate to the top-down privatization of security. Yet this top-down privatization of security has to be understood within the context of the globalized world, where the Weberian notion of the state monopoly on violence has been challenged by nonstate actors who have taken over functions that the state had internalized since the early nineteenth century.41 The formation of transnational societies inhibiting an increasingly transnational political space affected by problems that call for transnational solutions created the need for former state-centric decision-making processes to develop into processes governed by suprastate or nonstate entities that increasingly rely on private input.42 Owing to the fact that conflicts in the era of globalization have in the same way become more transnational in nature, conflict management, both through peaceful means and war, has become more transnational, evolving into a multistakeholder endeavor coordinating efforts of private, public, and global institutions.43 From a bottomup point of view, the privatization of war describes the erosion of the SMOV concept, as predominantly in the developing world the state is unable to exercise the monopoly over violence as it competes with warlords, war profiteers, organized crime, terrorists, rebels, and paramilitary groups.44 Thus, some states choose to cooperate with these new actors so as to remain in a position of control.45 The commercialization of security—namely, the top-down privatization of security—is a development that unraveled within this transnational milieu.46 Amid the neoliberal wave of privatizing public goods under Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, the United States and the United Kingdom started to loosen the state’s monopoly on the delivery of public goods. Even the morally sacrosanct monopoly on the management of violence was not exempt.47 In an effort to enhance effectiveness and efficiency, commercial enterprises were allowed to create a market for violence, a market that so far had been limited only to the production and procurement of military goods. The state actively outsourced security-related services to contractors who would provide services that the state considered to be noncore military functions—that is, functions that were far away from the actual delivery of armed force on the battlefield.48 However, over the past

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three decades this private military and security industry has grown into a heterogeneous construct providing services that range from logistical support services to armed services in highly complex operating environments. With hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of services being consumed by commercial and governmental clients across the world, this once-infant market today is a global, financially well-endowed, underregulated, and diversified market for violence. Unlike the ad hoc nature of mercenary bands operating in Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, PMSCs are hierarchically organized enterprises that are registered locally and openly trade with their services, thereby driven by business profit rather than individual profit.49 Thus, in parallel to the bottom-up privatization of security, the managerial, business-oriented approach by state bureaucracies to the delivery of public goods has made its own contribution to undermining Weber’s idea of the SMOV. Security has become a tradable commodity that is being sold to the highest bidder. While in many places the state is meanwhile unable to live up to its socialcontractarian duty to provide communal security inclusively, in other places the state’s limited ability to maintain security comprehensively has to be augmented by commercial providers of security. The perception of security and insecurity has changed in the era of globalization as the borders between war, rebellion, insurgency, and organized crime have become blurry. Consequently, the means that are required to satisfy public sentiments of security within a perceived environment of mounting anarchy cannot be provided by the state alone anymore, also because of the transnational, intangible nature of threat in the twenty-first century. As vehicles for the delivery of security are either replaced or supplemented by nontrinitarian actors, the state’s role in neotrinitarian war has often been that of a dispatcher—that is, an authority delegating security functions to executive agents, which are not always inherent to the sociopolitical milieu of the state. That is to say, the bonds between those providing security and those consuming it, though managed by the state, have been diffused—a circumstance that can be attributed to the new threat environment in the post–Cold War era and new approaches to securitization that came with it. “Securitized” War In postmodern war, those who benefit most from military and security services are not necessarily those who are paying for it. From a Western point of view in particular, the concept of humanitarian intervention has created a situation in which Western states wage war for peripheral interests, protecting communities overseas who consume security as a global rather than a public good.50 It is hard to


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argue that the US-led intervention in Afghanistan beginning in 2001 was entirely altruistic. But it is equally hard to argue that the postbellum costs of reconstruction and state- and nation-building were entirely serving US or Western national interests. The War in Afghanistan, the longest in US history, is arguably as much about global goods as it is about public goods—satisfying the US public’s call for justice and retribution after 9/11 while, as some might argue, creating positive externalities for local communities in terms of state- and nation-building. As a consequence, public opinion at home started asking Western policymakers why billions of dollars and thousands of soldiers’ lives were sacrificed in what degenerated seemingly into a stabilization operation, while local communities were increasingly hostile toward foreign military personnel. The Afghanistan campaign thereby quintessentially displays the issues with the new wars of the twenty-first century. What was previously hailed by President George H. W. Bush as the beginning of an era for maintaining a new world order of permanent peace and global justice was brushed aside as simply resulting from the utopian euphoria that emerged from the immediate post–Cold War years.51 The obsolescence of major war that John Mueller predicted in 1989 did not mean the end of history or the end to all wars.52 Quite on the contrary, it meant the obsolescence of trinitarian war as we had gotten used to in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A hundred years after the war that was supposed to end all wars,53 the threat environment has not become any more manageable or predictable but instead more intangible and uncertain. Klemens von Metternich’s Concert of Europe clashed over ultranationalist interests and great power dreams in 1914, the League of Nations disintegrated in the 1930s as it was unable to contain fascist and communist expansion plans, and the Cold War system evaporated as Mikhail Gorbachev implemented glasnost and perestroika in the 1980s. The idea of a Pax Americana after 1990 turned out to be an illusion, an illusive cloak covering up simmering and formerly suppressed sectarian, ethnic, and religious conflicts. Neither the UN nor NATO were believed in the early 1990s to have to restrategize their raison d’être or grand strategic outlook. With the communist peril gone, the UN system, with NATO as the prevailing vehicle to maintain and implement international humanitarian law, seemed to outlive the bipolar Cold War system. Yet the system had already fundamentally changed. It had changed more than it was apparent when the United States intervened to save Kurdish lives in northern Iraq in 1991 and Somali lives in Mogadishu in 1992. While throughout the twentieth century wars were fought as zero-sum games for public goods or national interests that were often defined vis-à-vis a tangible and proclaimed referent object, the old system found it hard to do the same in the twenty-first century. The nemesis, the evil

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empire, or the archenemy that had always been there was no longer to be found— or at least was not as visible or tangible as before. The fundamental question of the neotrinitarian wars has been against whom and why are we using violence? The sociopolitical conceptualization of threat or securitization underlying the legitimization of war in the twenty-first century has most severely affected Western states that seemed to be even more entangled in wars that for their people are no longer recognizable as such. The widespread confusion about what constitutes war in the twenty-first century is in that way not just a semantic issue but also one that emerges from the hybrid nexus of law enforcement and military operations as well as the overlap between public and global security.54 The maintenance of communal security today, as mentioned above, can no longer be clearly separated from the provision of global security. Those benefiting from security provision in war are no longer just society as the discretionary association at home but also local communities in the conflict zone. War as the management of violence on battlefields thousands of miles away from home is often portrayed as stabilization and reconstruction efforts conducted by military personnel supported by humanitarians and law enforcement personnel. Establishing a link between national security and military stabilization or humanitarian operations overseas remains a difficult task, both for shapers of public opinion and for policymakers. After the initial hopes of a new world order in the early 1990s, arguments that homeland security starts in Kabul, Raqqa, or Mogadishu have become increasingly hard for policymakers to sell. Similarly, debates about the indivisibility of human security are too philosophical to reach the ear of the man on the street. At first sight, the issue of public scrutiny appears to be a Western phenomenon. Yet public opposition to overseas adventures putting citizen soldiers at risk without tangible returns becomes more visible in nonliberal and non-Western societies as well. President Vladimir Putin appears to be confronted with public opposition to Russian operations overseas,55 particularly in Syria.56 Iranian protests against government policies in 2017 and 2018 voiced criticism over government spending on wars across the region for ideological hegemony, when unemployment and poverty were on the rise at home.57 Hence, reducing casualty aversion to liberal democracies appears to be too narrow. Despite this public pressure from constituents, states are desperate to do something within a heterogeneous threat environment that ranges from global terrorism and insurgency to state failure and financial crises to global warming and mass migrations. The containment of these threats remains the prerogative of the state regardless of whether the state is supplemented by commercial actors and nongovernmental organizations or operates as part of multinational coalitions. The preferred means to tackle these threats might be more often than not economic


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or diplomatic. But the military still has a role to play, particularly when economic or diplomatic activities take place in a coercive or insecure environment. As conflicts emanate from localities far away, often simultaneously and within different domains, states feel the need to develop an ability to respond instantly across the globe—even when the required response might be of low intensity. Derek Gregory calls these wars permanent “everywhere wars,” characterized by geographically contrapuntal and protracted threats.58 Not just states with superpower ambitions find it difficult to act in such an environment. Threats need to be engaged before they evolve, sometimes even before they really exist. Hence, threats have given way to risks as the drivers of security policies. Whereas the definition of threats requires a tangible other with plausible capabilities and communicated intentions, the definition of risks is more subjective as they refer to a probability of something bad happening in the future. Because of the increasingly risk-averse nature of societies, states rely on the precautionary principle and thus have to address any emerging risks, enlarging therefore the scope of their security policies.59 The resulting securitization effort behind constructing these threats is something Ulrich Beck defines as an integral effort of postmodern-risk societies. Direct major wars between states have become a postmodern taboo—morally, financially, and legally. It might be, therefore, that some peripheral states such as North Korea are threatening war so as to increase their bargaining power in what they consider to be a hostile world order. As the natural antagonist, traditionally another state power, appears to dissolve in a global contest of influence rather than power, threats in the modern sense of the word arguably cease to exist spatially and temporally and are being replaced by constantly redefined constructs of risks. It follows that insecurity, not security, has become the norm in postmodern society.60 Beck argues that postmodern-risk societies deal with this intangibility and unpredictability of threat by socially constructing threats on the basis of risks. War as life in the postmodern society has become an exercise of risk construction, prevention, and management.61 Since we are unaware of the known unknowns, let alone the unknown unknowns, postmodern policymakers tend to extrapolate risks from past experiences. Within an environment of delocalized global risks, preventive diplomacy and war have become necessary evils of mitigating the political costs of omitting risks—namely, it has become more socially acceptable to overreact to a potential risk than to underreact. As Beck states, “World risk society is faced by the awkward problem . . . of having to make decisions about life and death, war and peace, on the basis of more or less unadmitted not-knowing.”62 The consequences of trying to mitigate the unknown within a global sphere of uncertainty have confronted the state as the enforcement authority with an ironic reality in which the

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lines between rationality and hysteria have become blurred. On one hand, letting Salafi jihadists prosper in ungoverned spaces might constitute a threat to Western security. On the other, justifying a US drone strike on a Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan with “protecting American lives at home” can also be seen as a stretch of imagination, especially when considering the negative externalities of drone warfare. Similarly, the shooters in San Bernardino in 2015 and in Orlando in 2016 could not have been stopped by military operations of any kind overseas. The fact that these tragic incidences occurred, however, was exploited by then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to attack the Barack Obama administration, causally linking the shootings to the Obama administration’s indecisive stance against ISIS in the Middle East.63 Thus, not to act could be a greater political risk, particularly for liberal democratic governments, than acting with too little, too late. “Mediatized” War The consequence of subjective securitization within a transnational environment of uncertainty is the state’s delicate dilemma of having to show determination in eliminating the unknown risk, doing so by employing an agent that in the eyes of society should exclusively serve the public good of society at home.64 In an era where the glory, enthusiasm, and pathos of past wars has lost its appeal, justifying the soldier’s exposure to risks overseas for the peripheral interests of global goods has become a difficult task. “Postheroism” and “body-bag syndrome” are buzz words that describe the attitude particularly of liberal societies toward the concept of war. Engaging intangible threats within areas of operations so far removed from the consciousness of the electorate at home in itself has become an effort of risk management. Liberal governments and the commander in chief need to reconcile concerns of public opinion at home, global public opinion, and sentiments of local communities in the operating environment—all of which are shaped by a constant presence of a new diversity of media attention.65 As trinitarian servants of society, they have a primary responsibility toward their constituency, which, particularly in liberal societies, more often than not regards warfare as inhumane barbarism of uncivilized yesteryears. The citizen soldier’s sacrifice is no longer cherished as a glorious act of virtue but as an avoidable horror that can only ever be justified if it serves the defeat of existential threats.66 While liberal societies display altruistic tendencies to alleviate the suffering of communities overseas, the willingness to accept soldier casualties in the pursuit of such humanitarian objectives is subject to a rigid cost-benefit analysis.67 In wars that appear to concern interests that are too peripheral or deal with threats that are widely intangible for society


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at home, the costs liberal societies are willing to pay tend to be close to zero.68 The costs in blood seem to be particularly hard to justify. For policymakers and military strategic leaders in liberal and nonliberal states, casualty figures since the Vietnam War have become a metric of success.69 Ever since, political and military leaders have felt pressured to minimize the risk exposure of military personnel in combat. While a commander is traditionally concerned with force protection, never in history have commanders been under so much scrutiny and stress to prioritize force protection over mission accomplishment. Thus, as Robert Mandel explains, casualty sensitivity is not so much a public sentiment in liberal societies as it is a quasi-doctrinally anchored strategic directive for operational commanders to fight a bloodless war. In neotrinitarian wars, “aversion [has] become, at least in the minds of those making war and peace decisions, a phobia—i.e., an aversion so strong as to elevate the safety of . . . troops above the missions they are assigned to accomplish.”70 The solution to this dilemma of trying to mitigate risks overseas while minimizing financial costs and costs of lives has been the “risk-transfer war”—an inherent feature of twenty-first-century warfare that in itself bears risks for liberal policymakers and military commanders. Martin Shaw defines risktransfer wars as military operations in which particularly liberal states externalize the operational risks of war to others on the ground. This is being done through the heavy reliance on airpower and other technological platforms that allow targets to be eliminated from far distances and with minimal or no operational risk exposure for Western soldiers. The consequence of this is a transfer of risks from the combatant community to noncombatants on the ground who are exposed to unreliable targeting and the collateral damage of area-effect weapons. Effectively, the minimizing of soldier risk exposure in Western militaries bears, according to Shaw, the immoral reality of increasing the risk exposure of communities on the ground.71 For Western publics striving for bloodless wars, this is as much a concern as it is for global public opinion. Civilian casualties not only undermine the effectiveness of counterinsurgency operations but also expose states to negative publicity. Because of increased global public scrutiny and domestic opposition to war, even illiberal states are increasingly concerned with risk-transfer wars. For instance, the Saudi-led military operation against the Houthis in Yemen is mainly conducted by airpower, whereas the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is increasingly relying on human surrogates on the ground.72 At a time in which social media has revolutionized patterns of communication between and within communities across space and time, wars are broadcasted, subjective realities. Shaping the narrative of war has become a competitive effort

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between those militaries intervening, those communities affected by intervention, and third-party outsiders trying to influence public opinion on the ground and worldwide.73 Unlike the Internet 1.0, which provided a one-dimensional and onedirectional flow of information from the platform to the consumer, the Internet 2.0, facilitated by mobile devices, provides a virtual platform of interactive discourse whereby content is being consumed and produced at the same time by both broadcasters and viewers.74 The exchange of information is instant, multidirectional, and interactive. The Internet accessed through mobile devices has created a public cyberspace—a global public sphere characterized by Jürgen Habermas’s principles of inclusive accessibility and interaction, which can hardly be controlled or sanctioned by any one state.75 Information flows unrestrictedly across borders and, when disseminated through social media such as Facebook or Twitter, can be accessed anywhere, anytime, and by anyone. War is situated within this cyberspace—not just the operations themselves but most importantly the narratives of war that shape global public opinion. The war against ISIS since 2014 is a good example: It is as much a war over narratives in the global public sphere as a kinetic war over territory. Winning in this war is not so much about seizing and holding territory but undermining the sociopolitical narrative of the “Islamic State” that itself had started as the counternarrative to the Arab state.76 In wars over narratives, every civilian casualty can have a strategic impact if exploited by an opponent who by tweeting an image can polarize societies locally and globally—societies often being unable to verify or contextualize tactical military actions. Hence, the transfer of risks from the combatant to the noncombatant community ultimately undermines strategic narratives and commitments.

Conclusion With war in the twenty-first century being an exercise of risk management under the scrutiny of a global audience against an elusive, geographically dispersed threat, militaries have adapted their doctrines, their ethos, and their raisons d’être. Both Western and non-Western states had to find new ways and means of operating in this unpredictable global environment of insecurity characterized by evergrowing global and local security demands on states in an era of limited resources. Managing the anarchy that has emerged from the Cold War means having to disrupt the conventional trinitarian links between society, state, and soldier so as to isolate the society from the costs of war as well as to reduce the popular pressures


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on governments to deal with increased perceived risks. In an effort to create the illusion of bloodless wars that are being fought on battlefields far removed from the borders of one’s own homeland, states found the need to reduce their direct military engagements overseas in terms of visibility, costs, and accountability. States have not become less destructive or disruptive but have had to find new ways and means to dissociate themselves from the management of coercive power. The management of violence or coercion had to be externalized to surrogates that would operate outside the conventional trinity yet serve the state and national interests. As the next chapter will show, surrogate warfare might be the natural response to the difficulties of managing risks, threats, and conflicts in the twenty-first century in a global environment of uncertainty.

Notes 1. Mueller, Retreat from Doomsday, 53. 2. De Jomini, Art of War. 3. Clausewitz, On War, 89. 4. “Levée en masse” refers to ad hoc mass conscription by nations in the face of an imminent threat to national security, which originated in the French Revolutionary Wars in the 1790s. 5. Van Creveld, Transformation of War, 43. 6. Tennyson, “Charge of the Light Brigade.” 7. Coker, Warrior Ethos, 1. 8. The concept of the lieux de mémoire was developed by Pierre Nora to describe “any significant entity, whether material or non-material in nature, which by dint of human will or the work of time has become a symbolic element of the memorial heritage of any community.” See Pierre Nora, “Preface to the English Language Edition,” in Realms of Memory: Rethinking the French Past, ed. Pierre Nora (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), xvi. 9. Carlyle, On Heroes, 13. 10. Gat, History of Military Thought, 222. 11. Clausewitz, On War, 515. 12. Clausewitz, 610. 13. Clausewitz, 89. 14. Hobbes, Leviathan; Locke, “Chapter IX.” 15. Hobbes, Vom Menschen. Vom Bürger. 16. Hobbes‚ Leviathan, 99. 17. Locke, “Chapter IX,” 123.

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1 8. Snider, Nagl, and Pfaff, “Army Professionalism,” 29. 19. Although he died before the publication of Darwin’s magnus opus, Clausewitz has later been read in consideration of Darwin’s evolutionary thoughts. 20. See Van Creveld, Transformation of War. 21. Oppenheim, International Law, 115. 22. Cook, “Immaculate War,” 61. 23. “A state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. . . . Specifically, at the present time the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it.” See Max Weber, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2013), 78. 24. Clausewitz, On War, book VIII, 6B. 25. Rickli, “Impact of Globalization.” 26. Rosenau, States, Sovereignty, and Diplomacy. 27. Bull, Anarchical Society. 28. Strange, Retreat of the State. 29. Haass, “Age of Nonpolarity.” 30. Smith, Baylis, and Owens, “Introduction,” 11. 31. Castells, Communication Power, xxix. 32. Rosenau, States, Sovereignty, and Diplomacy. 33. See Ayoob, “Humanitarian Intervention and State Sovereignty.” 34. Van Creveld, Transformation of War, 192. See Salem, “Rise of Violent Transnational Movements”; Smith, Terrorism Ahead; and United Nations Office on Drugs, Globalization of Crime. 35. Van Creveld, “Transformation of War Revisited,” 8. 36. Kaldor, New and Old Wars, 9. 37. Handel, Masters of War, 403. 38. Abrahamsen and Williams, Security beyond the State, 91. 39. Abrahamsen and Williams, “Golden Assemblages,” 17. 40. See Krieg, Socio-Political Order and Security, 157. 41. Thompson, Mercenaries, Pirates and Sovereigns, 10. 42. Leander, “Conditional Legitimacy, Reinterpreted Monopolies,” 11. 43. Kaldor, New and Old Wars, 4. 44. Wulf, “Re-Establishing a Monopoly of Violence.” 45. Ahram, Proxy Warriors, 136. 46. Bislev, “Globalization, State Transformation,” 284. 47. See Krieg, Commercializing Cosmopolitan Security. 48. Core military functions are functions that shape coercion on a strategic level by involving either the direct or indirect use of lethal force, delivering security not as a private good but as a public or global good for a wider community of benefactors.


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Core military functions are those considered by the US government as “inherently governmental services”—namely, services that are “so intimately related to the public interest as to mandate performance by government personnel. These activities require the exercise of substantial discretion in applying government authority and/or in making decisions for the government. Inherently governmental activities normally fall into two categories: the exercise of sovereign government authority or the establishment of procedures and processes related to the oversight of monetary transactions or entitlements.” See Luckey, OMB Circular A-76. 49. Singer, Corporate Warriors, 46. 50. See Krieg, Motivations for Humanitarian Intervention. 51. “Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective, a new world order, can emerge: a new era, freed from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice, and more secure in the quest for peace. An era in which the nations of the world, East and West, North and South, can prosper and live in harmony. . . . A world in which nations recognize the shared responsibility for freedom and justice. A world where the strong respect the rights of the weak.” See Bush, Address before a Joint Session Congress (September 11, 1990). 52. See Mueller, Retreat from Doomsday. 53. See Wells, War That Will End War. 54. Gregory, “Everywhere War,” 243. 55. Gerber and Mendelson, “Casualty Sensitivity.” 56. Nathaliya Vasilyeva, “Thousands of Russian Private Contractors Fighting in Syria,” Washington Times, December 12, 2017, /dec/12/thousands-of-russian-private-contractors-fighting-/. 57. Asa Fitch, “Iran’s Spending on Foreign Conflicts Raises Protesters’ Ire,” Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2018, -raises-protesters-ire-1514920398. 58. Fitch, 239. 59. See Beck, Risk Society. 60. Coker, War in an Age of Risk, 7. 61. Beck, “Living in the Risk Society.” 62. Beck, 335. 63. Jenna Johnson, “Donald Trump Seems to Connect President Obama to Orlando Shooting,” Washington Post, June 13, 2016, -politics/wp/2016/06/13/donald-trump-suggests-president-obama-was-involved -with-orlando-shooting/?utm_term=.41f5b8974b3e. 64. See Krieg, Commercializing Cosmopolitan Security. 65. Cottle, Mediatized Conflict, 9ff. 66. Smith, “What Costs Will Democracies Bear?,” 501. 67. Larson, Casualties and Consensus, 10. 68. Mueller, “Policy Principles,” 31.

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69. Mandel, Security, Strategy, and the Quest for Bloodless War, 10. 70. Jeffrey Record, Failed States and Casualty Phobia: Implications for Force Structure and Technology Choices (Collingdale, PA: Diane Publishing, 2000). Quoted in Mandel, 24. 71. Shaw, New Western Way of War, 81ff. 72. Shield, “Saudi Air War.” 73. Kaspersen and Rickli, “Global War of Narratives.” 74. Anderson, “Internet and Islam’s New Interpreters,” 41. 75. Habermas, “Public Sphere.” 76. Neumann, Victims, Perpetrators, Assets.



Conceptualizing Surrogate Warfare

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the state appears to to be under immense pressure to live up to its social-contractarian foundations and to provide public security inclusively to its society, which, although becoming more transnational and heterogeneous in character, has an ever-growing need for it. The socially constructed conceptualizations of security have encompassed an increasing number of dimensions as sentiments of “being secure” and “feeling secure” have subjectively been defined on the basis of risks. At the same time, these postmodern-risk societies live in an era when the management of risks is an exercise with little prospect of success amid new forms of terrorism, eroding state authority around the globe, shaky financial markets, and the almost unrestricted transnational activities of drug cartels, human traffickers, and other criminal organizations. While the management of risks has become ever more difficult, societies place more demands on the state to deliver on their security needs. The failure to do so leads to the individual’s and community’s disenchantment with the system— political apathy at best or rebellion and insurgency at the worst. The “system” has been defined by generations who have lived through the twentieth century, where territoriality, boundaries, and sovereignty were relatively unchallenged concepts exclusively tied to the state. In the Western world the populist likes of Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders, and Nigel Farage try to purge the “system” from a seemingly globalized elite establishment through divisive narratives of fearmongering in a desperate attempt to turn back time.1 In the developing world, where liberal institutions and discourse tend to be under more strain than in the developed world, the public lack of confidence in the system often only leaves a radical, violent solution wrapped in religious or ethnic narratives to changing the state of sociopolitical affairs. Thus, the state, whether the liberal or the illiberal, is under pressure to deliver public goods in forms of political, societal, economic,

Conceptualizing Surrogate Warfare 57

and most importantly physical security inclusively to its constituency—that is, the population at large. Since the establishment of the so-called Islamic State in 2014, terrorism has been perceived to be on the rise again,2 most visibly in Europe and the Middle East. Whereas large-scale suicide bombings hit Middle Eastern cities on almost a daily basis, smaller-scale attacks in Europe have replaced the illusive sentiments of security on the continent with paranoia and phobia. With sociopaths and psychopaths jumping on the bandwagon of jihadist terrorism, societies in Europe have to get used to a new security environment amid a recent financial crisis and a new one at the horizon; ungoverned spaces in the heart of the Middle East and North Africa producing radical ideology, migrants, and fighters; and an ostensibly conventional threat emanating from Moscow against territories the West has come to accept as its own—all this while the United States has arguably turned its attention toward the Pacific amid a domestic economic cool-down and growing cyber threats from China, Russia, and Iran. The developing world of weak states, failing states, and failed states has often surrendered before the globalized security challenges. Concepts of “effective sovereignty” and “good governance” are utopian ideals that the state in the developing world has never lived up to, neither in the nineteenth nor in the twentieth centuries—partially also because they have been imposed on them by the West at the expense of more effective traditional means of sociopolitical organization.3 Without evoking the global doomsday, it seems that for many the security challenges today appear to be too hard to manage and that the state is too overburdened to deliver on its social-contractarian duties. Despite the drop in public trust in the state as the authority to deliver public goods, most notably security, the state nonetheless ironically remains the authority most individuals turn to, since alternatives to the state are so far only supplementary, not substitutionary.4 Consequently, managing risks confronts the state strategically with dilemmas. First, the state faces the dilemma of mitigating risks that are widely considered to be too negligible to legitimize “going to war” while still being too tangible to ignore. As Ulrich Beck asserts, for states in the twentyfirst-century risk environment, the “political costs of omission are higher than the political costs of overreaction.”5 Second, the state has to deal with the dilemma of living up to the social-contractarian duty of care to its citizens while also satisfying the cosmopolitan demands of providing for the security of communities overseas. Although both are arguably two sides of the same coin, the humanitarian aspect of particularly liberal states’ foreign and security policy is something that in times of casualty and war aversion does not automatically justify the expense of soldiers


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and resources for a humanitarian war.6 As the migrant crisis in Europe exemplifies, the contraction of the welfare state in the West negatively impacts the willingness of its main benefactors at home to see their state function as a global welfare state.7 When the mitigation of risks forces the state to use coercion, the state is forced to respond globally, instantly, and simultaneously. The “everywhere war” of the twenty-first century requires reach, speed, flexibility, capacity, and diverse sociocultural awareness in an effort to achieve operational effectiveness in the variety of operational environments. T. E. Lawrence’s maxim “We should use the smallest force in the quickest time at the farthest place”8 becomes the guidance in the operational planning processes of the new millennium. Reading about Lawrence’s own experience as the British liaison with the Arab tribes in their struggle for independence during World War I seems to be a good preparation for war in the twenty-first century. Lawrence’s strategy allowed the British to respond quickly with a small footprint, employing local forces that were uniquely qualified to operate in their own indigenous, highly complex operating environment—all with the legitimacy of the local population. The experience of “Lawrence of Arabia” that he outlined in his magnum opus Seven Pillars of Wisdom has become the conceptual foundation for surrogate warfare in the twenty-first century—a mode of war, although not revolutionary in itself, that appears at first sight to be the silver bullet for the state to deal with the many strategic and operational challenges it faces in this new age.

The Concept of War by Surrogate The externalization, partially or wholly, of the strategic, operational, and tactical burden of war to human or technological surrogates with the principal intent of minimizing the patron’s own burden of war has been rediscovered by the state faced with the globalized, privatized, securitized, and mediatized wars of the twenty-first century. Surrogate warfare is thereby more than just the continuation of a historic tradition to employ auxiliaries, force multipliers, or proxies in an effort to fight wars cheaply, clandestinely, or more effectively. Surrogate warfare is the continuation of politics by other means in an era when the state as a sociopolitical complex has to redefine its role as a communal security provider amid a globalized context, against intangible threats, in competition with nonstate actors, under the constant surveillance of a global public sphere, and under the domestic pressure of fiscal austerity and growing welfare expenditure. As such, the uniqueness of surrogate warfare lies not so much in the departure from conventional trinitarian means of

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warfare but in its nature as a neotrinitarian sociopolitical phenomenon. The transformation of sociopolitics have not only redefined the burden of warfare but with it also the processes of how postmodern states organize and apply violence. Liberal and illiberal states, weak and powerful ones, have discovered more ways and means to substitute or supplement their own citizen soldiers for a variety of different reasons. The definition of the burden of warfare and therefore the motivations for delegation have become ever so complex amid the sociopolitical upheavals. The Burden of Warfare The management of scarce resources—the minimization of costs amid a maximization of capability and capacity—has been a constant challenge for warring parties throughout history. Both the weakest and the strongest powers of their time have consequently tried to keep the burden of war to a minimum. Therefore, the burden of war does not exclusively relate to costs incurred by the military but the totality of costs incurred by all three parts of the trinity (see fig. 3.1). Historically the burden of war has been limited to the human and financial costs of war that were incurred by the belligerents of the time—most notably the aristocratic leaders of states and empires employing their funds to raise militaries in an effort to further their own interests. In the pre-1789 world, these sovereigns owed little justification to the people they ruled over as the funds invested were considered their private wealth and the troops killed were often contract soldiers paid for their service. Historical exceptions might be the polis in ancient Greece or the Roman Republic, in which the costs of war were monitored by a privileged elite in the ecclesia and senate, respectively. The idea of warfare, however, as

Global Public Opinion State

Classical War


Soldier Local Public Opinion

Figure 3.1 Clausewitz’s Trinity


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organized violence of the masses was still far from reality at that time. Nonetheless, the military burden was externalized, most commonly in an effort to augment troop capacity and capability. The lack of sufficient manpower with the necessary skill or local knowledge was the main driver for ancient states, empires, and colonial powers to use surrogates in the stabilization and administration of large territories and populations. “Barbarian” surrogates helped Alexander the Great to staff his naval power, allowed Carthage to enhance the mobility of its forces,9 and enabled the Romans to conquer the inaccessible lands of Germania using the local knowledge of its tribal surrogates.10 Surrogates allowed the British to create an empire “on which the sun never set.” Surrogates granted a relatively small island nation the required capacity, both in terms of numbers and expertise, that was required to build the largest empire in world history.11 Thus, before society became the central component of political and military affairs with the French Revolution, surrogacy was a means to minimize the military and financial burden of war for state and military. The military burden of war in this respect referred to the human and material costs borne by the combatants. The fundamental sociopolitical upheaval that followed the French Revolution changed the distribution of the burden of warfare from the duality of state and military to something Clausewitz conceptualized as a trinity, with society as its principal. Society became not only the primary sociopolitical actor but also the main bearer of the burden of war. Since the early nineteenth century, war has been no longer just an elite activity mobilizing limited resources but also “total war.” The “peoples’ wars” brought with it the complete mobilization of society’s resources. The levée en masse of the post-1789 years had opened up new opportunities for the state to wage wars that would affect not only an exclusive class of military professionals but also an entire sociopolitical apparatus—arming the people, raising militias, and utilizing on a large scale society’s human and economic resources, all for the total destruction of the enemy’s military, state, and society.12 As Clausewitz asserted (and Moltke the Younger reasserted), “Now that governments have become conscious of these resources we cannot expect them to remain unused in the future, whether the war is fought in self-defense or in order to satisfy intense ambition. . . . Obviously, wars waged by both sides to the full extent of their national strength must be conducted on different principles from wars in which policy was based on the comparative size of the regular armies.”13 The total sacrifice and the total destruction of the nation were new maxims made possible by the technological advancements of the Industrial Revolution and legitimized by the social-Darwinist narratives of nationalism.

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The classical wars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were planned and often executed either in expectation or with the ambition of total destruction. The human burden of war was no longer just a variable on the battlefield but a matter of course amid the civilian population. While civilian infrastructure was deliberately targeted and concepts of “collateral damage” conveniently redefined, public life in wartimes changed dramatically—even when, as was the case in Germany in World War I, the battlefields were hundreds of miles away from the border. With millions of men called on duty, women had to take their positions on the home front. Although thousands cheered during World War II when Joseph Goebbels cynically asked the audience in his infamous Sportpalast speech in February 1943 whether it would support a “total war,” the two years to follow painfully demonstrated to what extent mankind and his war machines were able to depredate. The burden did not only fall on the military but also equally on states and their societies. Human and financial costs were sacrifices expected to be made by governments, citizens, and citizen soldiers for the survival of the nation or its aggrandizement. In this context, the employment of surrogates for war was a phenomenon on the fringes of colonial war, as the required capacity and capability for national defense could be raised domestically through the vast resources of the nation. By the mid-twentieth century, the idea of the total war consuming all of society’s resources had become less attractive because of the devastating experience of World War II as well as the global apocalypse promised by a nuclear confrontation between the two superpowers. Although armed conflict during the Cold War arguably escalated only on the global periphery, the global struggle for ideological hegemony was far from nonviolent. The doomsday scenario of mutual assured destruction (MAD) brought with it as a potential cost of war the extermination of civilization, generating the ultimate burden on society—a burden that neither of the superpowers was willing to put on its society. The human and financial costs of nuclear war would have been disastrous and therefore had to be avoided at all costs. Nonetheless, both the United States and the Soviet Union felt the urge to advance their interests through the management of violence. Strategic surrogates in the form of proxies were assigned to more or less autonomously protect the superpowers’ interests overseas, providing the sponsor or patron with a degree of “plausible deniability.” Deniability and ultimately legitimacy had become motivations in surrogate warfare that were irrelevant to the belligerent empires of history. Public scrutiny, whether domestically, internationally or locally, is a factor that throughout the twentieth century became more important than capacity and capability. With war unfolding increasingly in the public sphere since the nineteenth


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century as the armies became staffed with citizen soldiers, a new burden became apparent: the political burden of war on the state having to justify its actions toward its society at home and the international community as well as increasingly to locals in the theater. The evolution of the media since the nineteenth century as the public voice of the bourgeoisie and later of the masses created a forum in which citizens can interact and communicate to form public opinion with little or no interference of the state.14 With it developed a public sense of responsibility over sociopolitical affairs, even if not as encompassing as in liberal democracies. The state no longer held a monopoly over sociopolitical affairs but had to enter into dialogue with the public, whether directly via the ballot box or indirectly via the growing public sphere. Particularly the mass-broadcast media of the twentieth century created an environment of public awareness that became ever more difficult to control by the state. The Internet and social media finally transformed the state from a controlling authority to a controlled authority in a mediatized world. Even the most authoritarian and repressive regimes still have to engage in shaping public perceptions—above all in regard to high politics of foreign and security policy. For example, Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia—three arguably illiberal, authoritarian states—all invest heavily in strategic communication to shape their public’s perception about the government’s policies and decisions in the realm of war.15 As the nation had become the main protagonist in war, bearing the main burden financially and in terms of human costs, the public in parallel also assumed more control over the investment of the nation’s resources. Waging war was now also a matter of discourse between state and public rather than purely a matter of applying kinetic force on the battlefield.16 Since the Clausewitzian characterization of war as “an act of violence to compel our enemy to do our will”17 is no longer confined to the physical battlefield or the application of physical force, winning the will of the people has become a task of shaping perception—first domestically, then internationally, and in the information age of the twenty-first century also locally. Carsten F. Roennfeldt argues that “power now rests on legitimacy, communication has replaced force as the decisive means in power politics.”18 Thus, since the Cold War, states and other belligerent parties operate in a realm of public scrutiny where global, domestic, and local legitimacy are variables that can decide a war. The resulting subjectivity of defeat and victory requires the warring party to address not only questions of capacity and capability but also questions of legitimacy. During the Cold War, the superpowers primarily required deniability in order to avoid a doomsday scenario. Nonetheless, apart from deniability, it was important to communicate strategic objectives credibly, not just to the adversary

Conceptualizing Surrogate Warfare 63

on the other side of the Iron Curtain but also more importantly to electorates at home. The clash of ideologies in the propaganda apparatuses in East and West had brought with it a clash of narratives on the battlefields. The kinetic effects in the American surrogate war in Vietnam proved to be inferior to the disruptive discourse developed locally by the Vietcong and their allies and broadcast by the media.19 The massive war machinery of the American superpower failed to shape people’s changing opinions and reflections on war and military power. The American narrative of a legitimate war was undermined by the inability of its archaically thinking military to take into account the most important of the trinitarian components of war: the passions of its people. In the twentieth century the passions of the people, public demands, and expectations have grown into centers of gravity for military action. The reason is that the political burden of war emanating from public scrutiny pressures the political leadership of liberal and authoritarian states alike to carefully weigh the urgency of a crisis against the human and financial costs on society and military. The costbenefit analysis underlying the decision to resort to war today is the inherent feature in the political decision-making about war and peace in the information age.20 The human and financial burdens of war can no longer be hidden from the public eye. The costs of war burden society, the state, and the military not just during conflict but also even before and after war; resources that are invested in the armed forces and the preparation of war deprive other public services of funding.21 The maintenance of armed forces is one of the most resource-demanding agendas on a government’s budget. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2013 the Middle East, Eastern Europe, North Africa, and South Asia spent more on the military than on public health care.22 In the European Union, although defense expenditures represented 1.4 percent of gross domestic product in 2015, compared to 19.2 percent for public welfare, the political sensitivity of defense spending is very high and often considered as a direct competitor to the latter.23 Hence, the investments that go into the military weigh on society both in terms of financial and human costs. While a considerable share of public wealth is invested into the capability and capacity of the armed forces in anticipation of the next war, much more is invested when a nation actually goes to war. The public awareness of these human and financial costs creates a burden on political leaders to justify investments in the armed forces, their deployment overseas, the means they employ, and the damage they cause. Especially in the Western world, societies have taken for granted living within an almost bulletproof bubble of security while the rest of the world becomes a battlefield of wars over resources, sectarian or religious affiliation, and power.


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Communal security has become a sacred good taken for granted in societies that have not experienced major war since 1945. The end of the Cold War in the 1990s additionally encouraged the enthusiasm that a Pax Americana was possible, when, in a “new world order,” militaries would be used to deliver humanitarian goods to people in need. The post-9/11 disenchantment with this illusion confronted governments with the intractable problem of fighting zero-casualty wars, at low financial costs, with downsized militaries that would deploy everywhere, anytime against enemies that were intangible and not confined to a distinct locality. Accordingly, the globalized wars of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries exacerbated the political burden of war that is borne by policymakers. With a public antagonism and antipathy toward conflict and organized violence, policymakers have to manage the political costs of armed conflict as the postmodern burden of war. That is to say, the risks arising from casualties by citizen soldiers in endless wars with limited obvious benefits for society at home are incurred by the state as an authority under international, domestic, and local scrutiny. Internationally, partners, allies, and adversaries want to ensure that the state’s military activities conform to international law and norms. Domestically, public opinion and, where applicable, a critical electorate want to ensure that sacrifices, whether financial or human, are not made in vain in military operations that only render negligible benefits.24 Locally, states are unfavorably eyeballed by at least parts of a populace that potentially perceives foreign military intervention to be a self-interested move to further alien interests at the costs of locals. Even in illiberal states, the diffusion of and access to information provide local communities with alternative perspectives to the one promoted by the state unless the latter curtails the reach and the depth of local Internet, as is the case in North Korea.25 Hence, the state’s exposure to political risks when employing violence leaves the state, liberal and illiberal, as the one entity that is most severely affected by the burden of war. The externalization of this burden to surrogates has therefore become a state priority when fighting neotrinitarian wars. The postmodern resurgence of surrogate wars was a product of fundamental sociopolitical change. The list of different forms of surrogacy is long, as states constantly invent new means to externalize the burden of war to strategic, operational, or tactical human or technological surrogates. Removing the burden of war from the public eye for liberal and nonliberal sociopolitical authorities has become a priority in strategic and operational planning processes of the twenty-first century whereby the links between patron and surrogate become ever blurrier the further the surrogate is removed from the patron’s authority. Surrogate warfare effectively disrupts the trinitarian bonds that the classical theorists of war have identified as fundamental

Conceptualizing Surrogate Warfare 65

for the management of organized violence. The classical model of trinitarian war no longer applies, causing the traditional authority, the state, to rethink the organization and orchestration of violence so as to be able to continue to coercively determine the outcome of conflicts amid a globalized, transnational environment of anarchy.

Toward a Model of the Concept Surrogate warfare in many ways appears to be the answer to the complexities of the geostrategic, operational, and tactical environments in which globalized conflicts are situated. Sociopolitical actors, both states and nonstate actors, have a raison d’être that revolves around the protection of security interests of particular individuals or groups of people—traditionally the protection of security interests of an entire community. In a neotrinitarian world, sociopolitical affairs are organized not exclusively by states but by alternative sociopolitical authorities as well, such as militias, insurgency and rebel groups, warlords, and criminal organizations. They sometimes coexist with the state as a complementary entity, but more often than not these alternative authorities compete with the state for legitimacy and control over people and territory. Nonstate sociopolitical entities tend to provide for more tangible local security needs of the communities they preside over than states since the communities are smaller and the bond between community and authority is mostly forged through conflict vis-à-vis a more or less rigidly defined threat. Consequently, the very raison d’être of the authority is then linked to the existence of a tangible threat. Rebel groups in the Middle East, insurgency groups in Latin America, warlords in Africa, and criminal organizations in Central America all control territory and people, and all are at war either with other nonstate actors or state authorities. Their existence is defined by the struggle they lead and against the deliberate conceptualization of “the other”—that is, the enemy. The only scrutiny these alternative sociopolitical authorities face is from within the relatively small communities they rule over. States in the developed and developing world, on the contrary, generally do not understand themselves as merely managers of violence against a clearly defined other. The maintenance of security for states is a far more complex undertaking in the realms of social, political, economic, and physical security, involving a range of different instruments to provide for these public goods. War as the management of organized violence is just one vehicle to provide one aspect of security for communities usually more diverse than those administered by alternative sociopolitical


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authorities such as ISIS, Hezbollah, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known as FARC). As the sole rights holders in the international system under international law, states are under tight scrutiny not just domestically but also internationally and locally. Therefore, the state is providing a far more complex set of security functions and operates in a far more comprehensive system of checks and balances—a transnational system involving not only other peers but also a growing number of nonstate actors, media organizations, and private entities constraining the state in the twenty-first century. The state has the nominal privilege of sovereignty, territoriality, and recognition on the premise of its compliance with international law, norms, and values—all of which remain subjective and socially constructed.26 Waging war through organized violence, then, becomes a far more delicate endeavor for the state—especially in the twenty-first century. In a globalized world where activities are more transnational than international, where security providers are increasingly private actors, where insecurities emanate from nonstate entities, and where threat mitigation has become a matter of risk management, conflicts erupt anywhere, directly or indirectly affect the most remote localities across borders, and can be solved only through a mix of violent and nonviolent means. Transnational conflicts require the state to be ready to take military action anywhere at short notice in a multidimensional battlespace along a nonlinear front for an indefinite period of time—all that in consideration of international, domestic, and local public opinion.27 Here the conventional trinitarian concept of society, state, and soldier, conceived to provide security as a public good against conventional threats to state and nation, appears to be out of sync with the security demands arising from neotrinitarian conflict. At first sight, surrogate warfare appears to be the panacea to the state’s struggle to coercively shape the outcomes of these transnational conflicts around the globe instantly, simultaneously, and at times preemptively. What surrogate warfare allows the state to do is to disintegrate the trinitarian civil-military relations between society, state, and soldier. With society as the principal, any state, even the nonliberal authoritarian state, has a security responsibility toward its people who expect to be protected from internal and external threats. The state’s failure to deliver effectively undermines Weber’s idea of the state’s monopoly on violence. Individuals living under a sociopolitical authority concede their natural right to defend their lives through violence only when the state guarantees law and order. Therefore, in the developed world, law and order mean not only the absence of anarchy but the absence of an idealistic sense of absolute security—something the state in the globalized world finds ever more difficult to provide.

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In the developed world, the paradox is that on the one hand the state is expected to maintain unprecedented levels of security through the global mitigation of risks yet on the other hand without resorting to the traditional means of military force. That is to say, the public in the developed world expects more security with fewer major combat operations. Consequently, particularly the Western developed state needs to provide security to societies that are spoiled by the absence of major war since 1945 and trapped in the illusion that the “victory” of the Cold War must mean the end of all wars. The domestic public pressure to evade the horrors of war both for civilian populations locally and military personnel at home has created an aversion within Western political and military leaderships to the traditional military operation as an effort to employ all of society’s resources in organized violence. Once on the public radar, using armed force in managing global risks exposes a government to political risks arising from public expectations about military success as well as low casualty figures.28 This is particularly true when the threats and risks to be engaged are perceived as less than vital amid potentially preemptive operations.29 Here all states need to engage in the battle of discourses and narratives. Risks are effectively created on the basis of subjective securitization—namely, the construction of a public perception of risk for which it might be more or less worth fighting for. Nonetheless, as states, both liberal and illiberal, lose the monopoly over information, the volume and frequency of public discourse becomes less and less manageable in the information age. Public perceptions of risk and threat are therefore subject to increased polarization from internal and external actors. Amid this environment of a polarized public unwilling or only partially willing to actively engage in organized violence against peripheral threats, it becomes difficult for the state to evoke social-contractarian narratives of national security and survival. The Iraq War in 2003 and the public debates in the Western world preceding it are a great example of the difficulty for the developed state to lead major combat operations when publics are unwilling to make socialcontractarian resources available. Hence, when war is not about national survival, societies are unwilling to accept the burden of war pressuring the state to use means other than the citizen soldier to achieve strategic objectives. In the developed world, the state’s dilemma arises from having to contain intangible risks overseas using public military resources that are reserved for matters of national defense. The state consequently either finds a way to securitize issues effectively as matters of national security or finds a way to cut the connection between the inevitable horrors of war overseas and the benign reality of public life at home—particularly when the horrors of war are as intimate as a citizen soldier’s death. While the oversaturation of media coverage makes it impossible to turn a


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blind eye to human suffering in conflict, suffering remains a relatively abstract concept as long as there is no direct emotional relationship between the public and those fighting overseas. Effectively, the emotional civil-military bond that Huntington describes in his The Soldier and the State needs to be disrupted. According to Huntington, the citizen soldier as a military professional serves the national security objectives dictated by society and framed by the state. With society as the soldier’s principal under the social contract, society develops an emotional bond to the soldier as an individual willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice in the management of violence for socially approved purposes that are limited to public security.30 As Huntington’s civil-military setup is conceptualized through the lens of the social contract, security is often defined in relation to the tangible threats to national survival of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Therefore, because of the fundamental idea of the soldier as a public servant providing security as a public good, civil-military relations tend to focus on the submission of the management of violence to society and state—whereby the latter is an agent of society.31 This concept of civil-military relations—once hailed as the liberal solution to the inherent civil-military dilemma of creating a military powerful enough to protect the public while contained enough to submit to civilian control—appears to be redundant in the age of transnational conflict. Apart from merely adopting Huntington’s argument for an augmented professionalization of armed forces, in the new era of conflict an increased separation and divergence between society and the management of violence becomes necessary. This separation provides the state with the ability to act preemptively under a cloak of discretion outside direct public oversight. Amid the rising public awareness and scrutiny of the twenty-first century, developed and undeveloped states see themselves confronted with a need to detach coercion from public scrutiny, primarily from the radar of society at home. Surrogate warfare allows the state to disconnect the burden of war from domestic scrutiny, relieving governments from the political costs of using force in an environment of uncertainty, unpredictability, and intangibility of threat. What happens in surrogate warfare is the rationalization of war—namely, a fundamental break with the classical thinking of war as the management of violence empowered by the passions of the people. In the strategic thinking of the nineteenth century, warfare could no longer be an endeavor separated from the passions of the people. Goltz’s Volk in Waffen and Ludendorff’s Der Totale Krieg are testimonies to the notion of the total submission of sociopolitical affairs to the war effort. Moltke saw the masses and their hunger for war as a means of strategic importance that could not just legitimize war but also help provide the resources necessary for the

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Global Public Opinion Surrogate



Soldier Local Public Opinion

Figure 3.2 Patron-Surrogate Relations

industrialized mass slaughter all powers steered toward in the run-up to World War I.32 Surrogate warfare breaks with this tradition. As wars are no longer fought primarily by nation-states for national ideologies in defense of national interests, the passions of the people are often just a mere obstacle to effective achievement of military objectives on the battlefield. The surrogate helps to divorce military affairs from public sentiments of casualty and war sensitivity because he (or she or it) has no emotional bond to the trinity (see fig. 3.2). The surrogate brings violence to bear where necessary without causing negative repercussions for the patron that employs him—as long as the link between patron and surrogate remains under the cloak of plausible deniability and discretion. From the patron’s point of view, surrogate warfare is the next evolutionary step from the professionalization of violence in the twentieth century away from the people’s wars of the nineteenth century. Basil Liddell Hart’s appeal for a more professional approach to the management of violence after World War I provides the blueprint for a more rational and limited approach to military conflict resolution.33 The professional citizen soldier remains in the barracks leading a life apart from laypeople. Nonetheless, he (or she) remains a member of the public as its trinitarian security provider. The surrogate, however, is not a public servant with direct emotional ties to the patron’s society. The only link the surrogate maintains to the sponsor is through the state that either pays, trains, or directs him. In so doing, surrogate warfare looks like a return to warfare amid the sociopolitical realities of the pre-1792 years, in which the Kabbinetskriege, or cabinet wars, were waged by the aristocracy and their cabinets for their own private interests. The cabinet wars of the medieval and early modern ages “had been conducted in


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order to secure dynastic interests, and had been fought with the aid of mercenary armies, led by aristocratic officers, largely to the exclusion of the civilian population.”34 For the classical military thinkers of the nineteenth century, cabinet wars were a matter of the past, with the bourgeoisie and the working classes controlling an ever-growing share of public life outside the regulation of the state. Despite the absence of liberal democracy, the French Revolution brought with it a widespread sociopolitical emancipation of the masses in the Western world that inevitably shaped the way states pursued wars. Moltke had to acknowledge the power of the public in disrupting the military’s conduct of war after the Paris insurgency of 1871 during the German siege. As a member of the old guard, Moltke nonetheless found cabinet wars to be more desirable because they allowed conflicts of political interests to be resolved rationally by means of raw military force, avoiding the dangers of unlimited, total warfare.35 Surrogate warfare cancels the passions of the patron’s people from the trinitarian equation that Clausewitz introduced. The patron is able to wage war with its burden being externalized to an agent that, though directly or indirectly answering to the patron, has no emotional or covenantal ties to the patron’s society. Quite on the contrary, in case of human surrogates, the surrogate might have covenantal ties to the civilian population on the ground. Thus, in terms of legitimacy, the human surrogate often has more communal legitimacy locally than domestically in the sponsor’s society. For example, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as a US surrogate in Syria provide the United States with a means to wage war overseas with an agent that has more legitimacy locally in Syria than domestically in America. This externalization of the burden of war makes wars illiberal in the Western sense owing to the democratic deficit that emerges from the disconnect of the public at home and the surrogate operating overseas. Looking at drone warfare as a typical form of surrogate warfare, John Kaag and Sarah Krebs illustrate how the distancing between the public and the executive agent creates a vacuum within the liberal system of popular checks and balances: “By distancing citizens from the personal and financial risks of war, modern warfare—and drone warfare in particular— gives individuals little incentive to challenge their leaders on the conduct of war.”36 The lack of popular checks and balances is exacerbated by the fact that coercive power in the protection of global rather than public goods becomes a transnational multiagency effort whereby surrogates of all shapes and forms conduct wars with often limited oversight and sometimes even limited overlap of interests between surrogates and patrons. The key challenge for patrons, particular those aspiring to democratic governance, is to ensure that the various agents remain somehow in accord with the collective good they intend to achieve. The security assemblages

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that develop through the multidimensionality of geostrategic conflict environments are being extended through the widespread infusion of surrogates into the conflict zone by liberal and illiberal patrons alike.37 The responsibility over and burden of war becomes pluralized to an extent that public oversight becomes an almost impossible task.38 By deputizing core and niche military functions to human and technological substitutes, particularly Western patrons infringe on principles of public accountability, transparency, and participation that ought to be a hurdle to the use of violence. Without evoking Immanuel Kant’s idealist tendencies from his democratic peace theory,39 surrogate warfare facilitates the resort to violence—something that in the post–World War II Weltanschauung remains frowned on. The reason is that the externalization of the burden of war undermines public accountability, increasing the state’s executive power to use violence overseas without having to fully disclose the strategic and operational costs.40 As Jon D. Michaels argues in reference to PMSCs—a preferred surrogate in twenty-first-century warfare—the externalization of the burden of war to commercial security providers “permits the Executive to carry out military policy unilaterally . . . [and] it circumvents primary avenues through which the people are informed and blocks off primary channels . . . through which the People can register their approval or voice their misgivings.”41 From a normative liberal point of view, the externalization of the burden of war to surrogates constitutes a problem. From the point of view of the state having to maintain ever-higher levels of security through the management of risks globally while minimizing the burden of war for the public and for itself, surrogate warfare provides an apparent panacea—a way out from the dilemmas of the everywhere war. Having to react to potential threats preemptively across the globe before they really capitalize, instantly and at short notice, states require an increased readiness to use coercive power even if just in a limited capacity.42 The everywhere war is a simmering war over an indefinite period of time, which at least for the patron is not a total war. Dispersion rather than concentration of forces makes it imperative to incorporate all means of disruption and destruction available, particularly the nontrinitarian ones. The democratic deficit of surrogate warfare is its greatest appeal to the states waging it as it allows for the rational achievement of objectives with no or only limited scrutiny from the public. Wars can be waged indirectly without having to ask for permission and without having to mobilize huge conventional forces of citizens in uniform. The surrogate executes a more sober and rational strategy, often planned and conceived by technocrats who have few direct emotional bonds to the surrogate and the objectives to be achieved.


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Surrogate warfare, then, is very much a neotrinitarian warfare waged by the state as a trinitarian organization outside its trinitarian responsibilities and accountabilities. Still, at least the human surrogate retains bonds to an alternative authority and community locally. While Germany’s indirect reliance on the peshmerga in Iraq in the fight against ISIS made the peshmerga a nontrinitarian agent for the German government, the peshmerga nonetheless retained trinitarian bonds to its local population and the authority of the Kurdistan Regional Government. In an environment where nonstate and nontrinitarian actors determine outcomes on the battlefield and shape diplomatic efforts of conflict resolution, surrogate warfare is part of the state’s effort to remain relevant. Beyond the neotrinitarian aspect of surrogate warfare, the deputation of warfighting to surrogates overseas also provides the patron with plausible deniability toward the international community. As the direct, forceful intervention into a sovereign state is illegal under international law, particularly states see opportunities in surrogate warfare to coercively influence conflict outcomes without taking the risks of being held accountable by peers.43 It also offers the state a cover of deniability in the eyes of the international community to act preemptively—something that both legally and morally constitutes a violation of international norms. As stated above, in the traditional proxy wars of the Cold War, the aspect of deniability had been the most important motivator for the superpowers to shape conflict outcomes without risking a direct military confrontation with the ideological other.44 The proxy wars of the Cold War as types of surrogate wars—defined as “an international conflict between two foreign powers, fought out on the soil of a third country . . . using some or all that country’s manpower, resources, and territory as means for achieving preponderantly foreign goals and foreign strategies”45—revolved primarily around the aspect of deniability. In the age of social media when the state’s activities are under heightened scrutiny, discretion has become the new deniability. When partners, allies, and adversaries are increasingly sensitive to the activities of peers while the global public sphere exposes any form of foreign intervention, surrogate warfare allows the patron to create physical distance between strategic decision-makers—namely, the activators—and the surrogate as executors.46 Consider, for example, Russia’s involvement in Ukraine since 2014. Whereas the separatists’ strategy in Ukraine is dictated by Moscow, the operational execution is in all likelihood helped by Russian PMSCs acting as force multipliers for pro-Russian secessionists.47 In parallel, Moscow prepared the ground by shaping the domestic and international narratives of the Ukraine crisis through “alternative facts” propagated by social-media trolls and bots—human and technological surrogates, respectively.48 Despite the fact that the West blames

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Russia for its support of the pro-Russian separatists,49 little hard evidence could be provided about the link between Russian strategic planning and the operations of unmarked troops in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. In the new global wars, discretion becomes a key factor not just to avoid negative repercussions from adversaries but also to minimize the reputational risks in the global public sphere. Discretion, however, is not just a factor for states but also nonstate actors at the other end of the patron-surrogate relationship. The surrogate, although in need of support from a sponsor, might not want to publicize a sometimes uncomfortable relationship—something that applies to various US surrogates in the Middle East, where America is regarded unfavorably by many.50 Again, in the public sphere where the clash of narratives and discourses can generate effects that are just as disruptive as kinetic effects, patrons and surrogates alike are forced to discreetly cover up their strategic and operational relationships. Thus, the major difference between the surrogate wars of premodernity and those of postmodernity is the sociopolitical context that drives a patron’s motivation to externalize the burden of warfare. This is what a look at the motivations of patrons in twenty-first-century warfare reveals.

Motivations for Surrogate Warfare When discussing the motivations for surrogate warfare, one is quickly tempted to look at the reasons for these wars to erupt. However, the question about motivations is narrower than that—it is about why patrons decide to externalize the burden of warfare to a substitute instead of employing their own citizens as soldiers. Much more, what determines the propensity of patrons to use surrogates over their own military? This question is answered differently today than in antiquity or the Renaissance. Nonetheless, regardless of the era, the decision of a patron to employ surrogates is motivated by a set of factors that have remained unchanged. What has changed is merely the degree to which these factors are prioritized and relate to each other in globalized, privatized, securitized, and mediatized wars. All these factors are interrelated and rarely shape a patron’s decision independently from each other. For purely illustrative purposes these factors can be displayed as part of a function to demonstrate the linkage between them: (urgency – costs) – capability + deniability + legitimacy = propensity to use surrogates Over the course of history, the most important motivator to outsource the burden of warfare has been the patron’s lack or insufficiency of capability. Before the


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nineteenth century, the nontrinitarian wars of the premodern era did not enable the rulers to unrestrictedly exploit the nation’s resources for war. That is, without skilled citizens as soldiers and the lack of funds to sustain a standing army, rulers had to source capability externally. The factor “capability” comprises capacity— that is, the number of troops available—as well as skills and expertise of the troops available. Particularly the empires of history employed auxiliaries and local forces in an effort to conquer and administer territories that were far away from the metropolitan mainland. Puppet states, “barbarian” forces, or colonial volunteers allowed imperial patrons to maintain the security of their borders. Apart from the lack of pure numbers of people in the rank and file, patrons also required surrogates to provide niche capabilities and special expertise. Auxiliaries were more than just force multipliers. They provided cavalry skills to patrons who were lacking this skill. They mastered technology that the patron’s troops could not, such as archery or slinging. They possessed local knowledge of people and terrain,51 a huge operational advantage to patrons unfamiliar with the operational environment. They were seafarers helping traditional land powers to develop a naval capability. But even traditional naval powers such as Britain long relied on auxiliary forces and privateers to bear the burden of war at sea on its behalf.52 Today capacity and capability remain important factors in the decision of patrons to employ surrogates. PMSCs can augment troop levels by helping the contracting state to circumvent the effects of capping, whereby the legislative places a limit on contingent sizes on expeditionary operations. Contractors provide services that might not be military core functions but provide all support roles other than warfighting, which frees thousands of uniformed personnel to directly engage in hostilities.53 Apart from that, contractors deliver niche capabilities in support of complex technology-intense operations that require skill sets that are not abundantly available in the armed forces.54 At times, entire states can provide niche capabilities in the framework of an alliance or a coalition.55 When the patron of the early twenty-first century requires local knowledge of the physical and cultural terrain of the operating environment, locals can either be hired as liaison contractors embedded in the patron’s armed forces or as local vigilante groups and militias. Owing to the fact that local forces are part of the local fabric, they can generate legitimacy in the eyes of the local population and authenticity in terms of language and ethnicity. Thus, local surrogates provide essential capabilities to counterinsurgents operating overseas.56 In Afghanistan and Iraq after 2003, the US-led military coalitions owed much of their humble success in their counterinsurgency (COIN) operations to local surrogate forces that functioned as the link between patron and local population—namely, their

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strategic center of gravity. Plus, local surrogates can provide capacity and capability at short notice, allowing the patron to mobilize quickly and bring force to bear— a considerable advantage over conventional militaries, which require weeks and sometimes months to mobilize and deploy. The backbone of the US military operation against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan after 9/11 was tribal surrogates predominantly from the Northern Alliance under the control of Abdul Rashid Dostum, an Uzbek warlord. With a limited footprint on the ground, US SOF were able to establish communication links between operational headquarters and tribal surrogates. This surrogate operation was in full swing by October 7, 2001, demonstrating the quick response capability that local surrogates can provide to patrons eager to swiftly stage a military operation.57 In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, it became considerably easy to translate financial wealth into military capability. The more capitalintensive the patron’s strategic decision-making process, the easier for the patron to substitute capital for labor—namely, to pay for human or technological surrogates.58 This factor becomes particularly important in reference to small states that are well-endowed financially but lack human capital, the most prominent examples being the tribally based monarchies of the Persian Gulf.59 The militaries of the states constituting the GCC are widely staffed with foreigners, contractors, mercenaries, and seconded soldiers, all categories of surrogates that are not mutually exclusive. The small states of the gulf—Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Oman—but also the larger Kingdom of Saudi Arabia earn huge rents from their hydrocarbon sector but do not possess sufficient manpower skilled or willing enough to join their armed forces.60 In the GCC, foreign surrogates in the armed forces tend to come from Pakistan, from Sudan, and from other Arab countries, at times paying the ultimate sacrifice for their patron.61 Similarly, these states are also acquiring the latest weapon technologies, which are increasingly automated in order to offset their lack of human capabilities. Since the Cold War, another factor—probably the most important one—has been motivating potential patrons to externalize the burden of warfare to surrogates. The East-West divide brought with it the apocalyptical risk of nuclear war as both superpowers were eager to protect their ideological and geostrategic interests—yet not at all costs. In an effort to avoid direct military confrontation, both Washington and Moscow, playing a zero-sum game, tried to undermine the advance of each other on the global chessboard by relying on proxies. Proxies were supported to take the war to the ideological enemy so as to maintain a degree of plausible deniability.62 By creating a physical distance between strategic decisionmakers (the patrons) and the actions of an executive agent (the surrogate), the


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Soviet Union could support the Vietcong directly fighting US forces in South Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s while the United States could support the mujahedeen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan a decade later. In a long list of conflicts during the Cold War, the two superpowers were not deploying their own forces but supporting opposing sides of conflicts on the global periphery in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Again, strategic interests could be secured by allowing a substitute to bear the human and financial costs of war, whereas the superpower was even able to minimize the political costs vis-à-vis an ever-more critical global and domestic public. Deniability meant that wars could be fought globally, persistently, and off the public radar without risking the doomsday scenario of nuclear war. When the projected costs of total war in the nuclear age grew unbearable, surrogate warfare provided a viable alternative to coercively advance strategic interests. Although a link between surrogate and patron could never be entirely denied, the consequences of such proxy interventions appeared to be always more manageable than a direct military confrontation. In the post–Cold War era, the need for plausible deniability was no longer about covering up traces between patron support and surrogate action vis-à-vis the superpower on the other side of the Iron Curtain. In the information age, plausible deniability has given way to discretion in the way wars are being fought. Plausible deniability has not disappeared as the increasing resort to cyber operations demonstrate, yet discretion in the way wars are being fought has acquired an equal if not more important status. Instead of taking military action off the opponent’s radar, today discretion is a motivating factor that emerges from the constant, global public scrutiny. Surrogates provide the patron with the ability to conduct war with limited footprints (if any) and without any negative publicity usually connected to the use of violence in an era when military action is widely frowned on.63 Iran’s and Russia’s use of surrogates in the Middle East can be explained by efforts to discreetly further or protect strategic interests without risking the negative consequences of direct military actions. Despite the fact that the international public sphere condemned Russia’s use of surrogates in the Ukraine and Syria and Iran’s support for non-Sunni militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen,64 both states have so far not risked military escalation on their own soil. While surrogates have killed and were killed, the two patrons retained a clean slate. So, in the twenty-first century, surrogate warfare has become an important vehicle to indirectly intervene in conflicts overseas while avoiding both international and domestic public scrutiny—the latter being the factor that has most extensively driven patrons to externalize the burden of warfare to surrogates. The need to remove military action from society’s checks and balances is the single most important driver and aspect

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of postmodern surrogate warfare in liberal and illiberal states. It is here that this mode of war is fundamentally different from surrogacy in antiquity, the Renaissance, and the Cold War era. The need for discretion derives from the altered geostrategic environment in which states operate. The sociopolitical context in which warfare exists today pressures the state to consider discreet options for military action. The reason is that war, or more precisely the absence of peace, has become a permanent state of affairs that requires a simmering commitment by some states to maintain their strategic, sometimes peripheral interests. Large-scale deployments and major combat operations might not be the preferred option when publics at home consider the objectives to be secured as less than vital, such as is the case in so-called wars of choice.65 Never-ending, simmering wars without clearly defined objectives against intangible threats require discreet military options that surrogates can provide.66 And this is where the link between discretion on the one hand and urgency and costs on the other comes into play in motivating patrons to substitute or supplement the burden of war. The urgency of a crisis is the sum of the political leader’s perception of the immediacy of a threat to vital interests and the potential humanitarian considerations. The former are linked to the more realist components of foreign policy, the latter to its altruistic components. In an era when the urgency of a crisis or conflict is a subjective public perception at home, states either have to invest in securitization at home or find discreet ways of dealing with a crisis.67 Urgency as a motivating factor relates to Beck’s idea of the postmodern-risk society when states feel the public pressure to deal with a menace they do not even know exists. When the perception of risk is more a function of emotional hysteria than facts-based rationality, the state has to plan against all eventualities—also against risks that are not just intangible but might be entirely socially constructed. Indeed, when the state is held accountable by an immense public hunger for security, risk management is not a choice but a necessity as the political costs of omission are higher for the policymaker than the political costs of overreaction—most commonly in developed states.68 Yet when military action is the least publicly acceptable option for risk management, more discreet options for coercion have to be found. The reason is that, as Andrew Mumford illustrates, “where state or group survival is not at stake but the augmentation of interest can still be achieved, states and substate groups have historically proven to be conspicuous users of proxy methods as a means of securing particular conflict outcomes.”69 Intangible threats in the era of global terrorism, mass migration, and local sectarian tensions do not create the public sense of urgency that would allow states


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to always use direct military action. Wars over ideology and Weltanschauung rank lower on the urgency scale than wars that appear to openly and concretely threaten the integrity and security of spoiled societies that fear that existential threats are matters of domestic public security, not matters of external threat. Hence, they do not allow for the large-scale deployment of uniformed citizens to complex operational theaters overseas and their exposure to the horrors of war, which societies, at least in the developed world, have come to regard as archaic remnants of history.70 As Chris Loveman observes, there are two trends that make warfare by surrogate more likely: “Two broad trends, the technological and the moral-political, act as structural impediments to the use of war by a state. Technological progress means increasing cost, risk and destructiveness. Moral-political progress refers to the growing domestic and international opposition—in terms of opinion and legal measures—that states wishing to engage in war will confront.”71 That is to say, the international and domestic climate of accountability and scrutiny, even in authoritarian regimes, have exposed the state as the traditional principal of war to the demands of a war-fatigued public. The state in the twentyfirst century is confronted with the dilemma of managing an always broader set of risks using discretion and deniability vis-à-vis society at home. The pervasive public and political aversion to casualties and war channeled and expressed through social media have raised the urgency threshold to levels unseen in history, making direct military actions hard to justify, particularly in a post−George W. Bush America, where the prevailing perception seems to be that trillions of dollars were wasted on military adventures overseas that failed to generate tangible security for Americans.72 President Barack Obama’s foreign policy was the product of widespread war- and casualty-aversion exacerbated by the Bush legacy, putting the United States’ ability to win wars in doubt. The Obama administration consequently explored new means of deciding outcomes overseas that did not require massive military actions. As Obama stated bluntly in July 2015 in regard to conflict management in the Middle East, “Ultimately, it’s not the job of . . . the United States to solve every problem in the Middle East. The people in the Middle East are going to have to solve some of these problems themselves.”73 Similarly, Obama’s successor in the White House, President Trump, has built his foreign policy in the region around US allies who he believes have to bear an increased burden of conflict on their own behalf as well as America’s.74 Delegation to surrogates, direct and indirect, has become the integral part of the new American way of war—a way of war other Western states have long embraced in an effort to deal with problems or urgency.75 The operation against Moammar Gadhafi in Libya in 2011 was one of the first instances of the new American concept of “leading from

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behind.” By relying on allies in NATO and the GCC, Washington externalized the burden of war to those powers that arguably had a higher vested interest in the outcome of this war. Yet because of the operational weakness of its allies, the United States had to reassume the leadership after a few days into the operation.76 The cost-benefit analysis of postmodern warfare is a discourse that requires policymakers to “invent” benefits and minimize costs.77 Surrogate warfare is about fulfilling strategic objectives at a minimal cost in blood and treasure—and thereby at minimal political cost to policymakers.78 Surrogate warfare offers the panacea for casualty and war aversion in a global context in which wars are permanent, threats and risks are globally dispersed, and engagement has to be persistent and discreet. It offers “an economic alternative to more expensive standing armies . . . [and] could provide the indispensable elements . . . without risking American lives to the same degree as US ground forces.”79 Finally, the mediatization of war means that patrons engaging in military action overseas have to take into account public perceptions of local communities. The legitimacy of military actions on the ground is as much enhanced through information operations as by the tying in of local communities in the war effort.80 Local surrogates who are part of the social fabric on the ground are more likely to be perceived as legitimate actors than the patron’s own forces with little or no connection to the sociocultural environment. Particularly in COIN operations, local surrogates can augment the counterinsurgency legitimacy in the eyes of local populations. The US experience in Afghanistan and Iraq beginning in 2001 and 2006, respectively, shows how a small SOF contingent can deploy quickly to liaise with local tribes acting as force multipliers who fight not for foreign interests but often for communal interests on the ground. The reliance on the Northern Alliance during Operation Task Force Dagger to oust the Taliban regime in Kabul showed that a few SOF troops could achieve their extensive objectives while being almost invisible to the local population.81 The same was true during the Anbar Awakening in Iraq, where the US forces co-opted Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar Province to act as their surrogates against al-Qaeda. While the United States provided air cover and operational support through SOF, the main burden of war was carried by local tribal forces. Local communities were empowered to lead the war against extremists without the constant presence of foreign troops.82 The use of local surrogates to augment one’s own legitimacy has become common practice in the twenty-first century as France’s reliance on local surrogates in the fight against jihadists during Operation Serval in Mali suggests.83 In COIN operations, the support of the local community is key to operational success, something that the French already realized when trying to contain the Algerian insurgency after 1958.


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The reliance on the harkis as the local surrogate force was a desperate attempt by the French colonial power to buy legitimacy vis-à-vis local communities striving for self-determination.84 In an era of population-centric warfare, stabilization operations, and nationbuilding, the rapport between patron and local communities is critical to operational success. In stabilization operations, the intervener requires legitimacy in order to exercise authority—a legitimacy that can be undermined by large numbers of foreign troops perceived to be alien to the cause of local communities. Indigenous surrogates can bring a degree of authenticity and legitimacy to the operation theater that even well-trained human terrain teams could not.85 Thus, T. E. Lawrence’s maxim from his field manual “27 Articles” holds for contemporary operations as well: “Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them.”86 The counterinsurgents of the twenty-first century operating against intangible and evasive enemies embedded in the civilian population have taken these lessons to heart.

Conclusion Warfare by surrogate is the twenty-first-century response to the changing geostrategic and operational environments of conflict. Increasing demands for security in an era when “being secure” has become an even more subjective assessment of “feeling secure” put pressure on sociopolitical authorities to provide this essential public good to the people they cater to. States have become managers of risks amid a security environment in which threats are intangible and risks socially constructed—often inaccurately and inadequately. The heightened awareness of the international community, the public at home, and local populations in the conflict zone have exposed any use of force to global public scrutiny. In a postheroic era where the use of violence is widely considered socially unacceptable, where war is a horrible remnant of the past, and where each casualty is front-page news, clashes of peripheral interests may no longer be resolved through mass bloodshed. This applies to nonliberal states as well, which amid the ubiquity of information see themselves increasingly scrutinized by global and domestic public opinion alike. Here is where the nature of war as a sociopolitical phenomenon departs from the classical traditions of Clausewitz and others. Despite the fact that who uses violence against whom for what reasons using what means has changed, essentially violence remains a component of war. Nonetheless, it is the sociopolitical

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foundation on which organized violence rests that changes. The neotrinitarian aspect of war—that is, the fact that alternative sociopolitical authorities to the state employ alternative means of force to the soldier to further their interests—is shaped by a clash of discourses over security and violence. Surrogate warfare is a new mode of neotrinitarian war, allowing the state to compel the enemy to do its will—in so doing, under the radar of the attention of the international community, domestic public opinion, and local populations. It is not the actual absence of bloodshed that makes warfare by surrogate appear to be the silver bullet for any patron wishing to coercively intervene in a conflict but the apparent absence of bloodshed on the public’s smartphone screens. The discretion with which patrons are able to employ violence indirectly through the surrogate creates a divide between the means of violence or the agent employing them on the one hand and the society paying for it on the other. Hence, while surrogate warfare is not a new mode of warfare in itself, it is the hybridity with which states, nonstate actors, and technological platforms merge into new security assemblages. The externalization of warfare to human and technological surrogates is a reinvented, ancient mode of war that is employed no longer by premodern states or empires but by the Westphalian state. Here twenty-first-century surrogate warfare departs from historic precedents: Westphalian liberal and nonliberal states are able to maintain security as a sociopolitical good without relying on the citizen soldier to provide for it. The question to be answered is whether surrogate warfare as a neotrinitarian mode of war is still actual warfare in the classical sense of the word. Michael Howard maintains that the Clausewitzian definition of war as “‘an act of violence to compel our enemy to do our will’ is as valid today as it was two hundred years ago. Violence is what turns a conflict into a war.”87 Surrogate warfare fits this definition as well. Although it allows the patron to cancel the social-contractarian bond between the people and the agents of force, the patron nonetheless indirectly manages coercive means, whether kinetic or not, to provide security, among other things, as a public good. From the human surrogate’s point of view, the management of violence with or without the support of the patron remains an activity in which violence is being used against humans. But surrogate warfare is not just about the use of kinetic force but also about a whole spectrum of means available to compel the enemy to alter his will. Getting into the minds of humans and changing their moral will to resist is as much the objective of warfare by surrogate as it is in conventional trinitarian warfare scenarios—even when the surrogate is a technological platform. In times when major powers are hesitant to get drawn into conflicts on the periphery, surrogate warfare increases the readiness of major


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powers to employ surrogates to achieve their objectives, thereby making surrogate warfare a means to deter and coerce peers. In insurgency environments, surrogates can provide legitimacy with the local population through local trinitarian bonds. Winning the hearts and minds of humans in a conflict zone is easier through the employment of armed agents who are embedded in local communities. The readiness to use violence through surrogates helps shaping clashes of interests coercively—and coercion is the only way the employment of surrogates becomes war.

Notes 1. Gerald F. Seib, “Behind the Rise of Populism, Economic Angst,” Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2016, nomic-angst-1453199402. 2. Holden, “Global Terrorism Deaths Fall.” 3. Clunan and Trinkunas, “Conceptualizing Ungoverned Spaces,” 18. 4. See Edelman Berland, Edelman Trust Barometer 2014. 5. Beck, “Living in the Risk Society,” 336. 6. Krieg, Commercializing Cosmopolitan Security, 103. 7. Tanner, “Europe’s Crisis and the Welfare State”; Horn, “Can the Welfare State Survive?” 8. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, 336. 9. Livy, Dawn of the Roman Empire, 29. 10. Lacey, “Conquering Germania.” 11. Ferris, “Small Wars and Great Games,” 201. 12. Förster, “Facing ‘People’s War,’” 210. 13. Clausewitz, On War, 220. 14. Habermas, Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, 37. 15. See Behravesh, “Why Saudi Arabia”; Gerber and Mendelson, “Casualty Sensitivity”; and Tang, Public Opinion and Political Change. 16. Roennfeldt, “Productive War.” 17. Clausewitz, On War, 83. 18. Roennfeldt, “Productive War,” 46. 19. Summers, On Strategy, 1. 20. Mandel, Security, Strategy, and the Quest for Bloodless War, 25. 21. Plümper and Neumayer, “Unequal Burden of War,” 728. 22. Perlo-Freeman, “Opportunity Cost.” 23. Eurostat, “Government Expenditure by Function.” 24. Baum, “How Public Opinion Constrains.” 25. Kalathil and Boas, “Internet and State Control.” 26. McCorquodale, “Individual and the International Legal System,” 284.

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27. Gregory, “Everywhere War.” 28. Feaver and Gelpi, Choosing Your Battles, 149; Mandel, Security, Strategy, and the Quest for Bloodless War, 23. 29. Levy, “How Casualty Sensitivity Affects,” 69. 30. Huntington, Soldier and the State, 14. 31. See Huntington, Soldier and the State; Janowitz, Professional Soldier; Perlmutter, “Praetorian State.” 32. Gat, History of Military Thought, 331. 33. Liddell Hart, Paris or the Future of War, 22. 34. Förster, “Facing ‘People’s War,’” 210. 35. Moltke, “Über den angeblichen Kriegsrat,” 600. 36. Kaag and Kreps, Drone Warfare, 65. 37. Abrahamsen and Williams, Security beyond the State, 91. 38. Johnston, “Transnational Security Governance,” 34. 39. Kant argued that if people were to hold the government accountable for the management of violence, states would be less ready to use force: “If the consent of the citizens is required in order to decide that war should be declared . . . nothing is more natural than that they would be very cautious in commencing such a poor game, decreeing for themselves all the calamities of war.” See Kant, Perpetual Peace, 113. 40. Salzman, “Private Military Contractors,” 860. 41. Michaels, “Beyond Accountability,” 1078. 42. Reiter and Stam, Democracies at War, 6. 43. Mumford, Proxy Warfare, 42. 44. Bar-Siman-Tov, “Strategy of War by Proxy,” 263. 45. Deutsch, “External Involvement in Internal War,” 102. 46. Shaw, New Western Way of War, 82. 47. Allison Quinn, “Vladimir Putin Sent Russian Mercenaries to ‘Fight in Syria and Ukraine,’” The Telegraph, March 30, 2016. 48. Peterson, “How Putin Uses Fake News”; Shuster, “Russia Has Launched.” 49. Andrey Ostroukh, “Putin, Obama Set to Meet on G-20 Summit Sidelines,” Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2016. 50. Ahram, Proxy Warriors, 14. 51. Lacey, “Conquering Germania,” 19. 52. Singer, Corporate Warriors, 32. 53. Krieg, Commercializing Cosmopolitan Security, 173. 54. Kinsey, Corporate Soldiers and International Security, 95. 55. Rickli, “European Small States’ Strategies.” 56. Smith, “Surrogate Warfare in the 21st Century,” 43. 57. Day, “Implications of Surrogate Warfare,” 4. 58. Krieg, “Externalizing the Burden of War,” 6. 59. Rickli, “New Alliance Dynamics.”


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6 0. See Almezaini and Rickli, Small Gulf States. 61. Pollack, Arabs at War, 427–29. 62. Bar-Siman-Tov, “Strategy of War by Proxy,” 263. 63. Ahram, Proxy Warriors, 16. 64. Quinn, “Vladimir Putin Sent Russian Mercenaries”; Al Jazeera, “Reports: Iran Forms ‘Liberation Army,’” August 20, 2016. 65. Freedman, “On War and Choice.” 66. Homiak, “Expanding the American Way of War,” 27. 67. Buzan, Wæver, and De Wilde, Security, 25. 68. Beck, “Living in the Risk Society,” 336. 69. Mumford, Proxy Warfare, 3. 70. Mumford, 35–39. 71. Loveman, “Assessing the Phenomenon,” 46. 72. Haass and Indyk, “Beyond Iraq,” 41. 73. CNN, “President Obama Continues.” 74. See Krieg, “Trump and the Middle East.” 75. Shaw, New Western Way of War, 32. 76. See Henriksen and Larssen, Political Rationale and International Consequences. 77. Buzan, Wæver, and De Wilde, Security, 32. 78. Hughes, “Syria and the Perils of Proxy Warfare, 522. 79. Bobbitt, Shield of Achilles, 331. 80. Salehyan, “Delegation of War,” 504. 81. Andres, Wills, and Griffith, “Winning with Allies,” 127. 82. Mumford, Proxy Warfare, 69. 83. Spet, “L’Opération Serval.” 84. Faivre,  Les combatants musulmans, 125. 85. White, “Legitimacy and Surrogate Warfare,” 88. 86. Lawrence, “27 Articles.” 87. Howard and Guilmartin, Two Historians in Technology and War, 1.



Externalizing the Burden of War to the Machine

The history of surrogate warfare has always revolved around the human warrior using his cognitive and physical abilities to determine the outcomes of battles, campaigns, and wars. Starting with the RMA in the 1990s, surrogacy in war has changed dramatically. Amid the technological progress in the field of precision-guided munitions (PGMs), unmanned platforms, cyber technology, and artificial intelligence (AI), surrogate warfare will increasingly rely on the machine as the surrogate of choice. This chapter identifies three technologies that make surrogate warfare by machine a more likely reality of warfare in the twenty-first century. First, the evolution of drone technology offers some interesting insights into the birth of technological surrogates. Second, the emergence of cyber technology has opened the cyber domain as a domain for surrogacy par excellence. Here particular attention is devoted to social media and its role in subversive operations. Finally, this chapter will open up the discussion on technology as a surrogate, focusing on emerging autonomous weapon systems (AWS)—a paradigmatic shift from the way humans have fought wars throughout history. AWS can be combined in both the physical and digital domains. These weapons for the first time in human history will be able to fully substitute human capability on the battlefield.

Drone Warfare: Relying on Unmanned Flying Surrogates Historically, technology has been a force multiplier in war, allowing the warrior to either inflict more harm on the enemy or reduce harm to himself. The use of technology as a way to externalize the burden of warfare is recent, however.


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Indeed, for technology to fulfill the criteria of surrogacy, it has to be capable of absorbing the burden of war by allowing warfare to be conducted either discreetly without massive public awareness at home or with plausible deniability before the international community. Thus, discretion and deniability could be achieved only through a degree of remoteness—namely, allowing technology to act more or less autonomously removed from the direct physical proximity to the human operator. Both the invention of the engine and flying were therefore preconditions for this development. Yet even when states could rely on divisions of armored vehicles or squadrons of planes, the ability of externalizing the burden of warfare to a technological surrogate was very limited. When the Allies resorted to strategic bombing of Germany during World War II, Allied flight crews still paid a heavy price. Moreover, the massive use of strategic bombers over European skies was impossible to hide, and thus deniability was impossible to achieve. It was not until the invention of standoff weapons, which are launched from a distance and allow attacking personnel to evade retaliatory fire, that technology could be conceived to develop into a surrogate. Standoff weapons are usually used in denial or counterforce strategies with the aim of reducing or eliminating the adversary’s ability to resist. This can be achieved either by directly destroying the enemy’s fielded forces through direct attrition or by attacking targets of strategic importance, such as lines of communication, vital choke points, or others centers of gravity.1 Arguably, ballistic missiles are the first standoff weapon that can be considered a technological surrogate since they allow war to be waged remotely, neither directly endangering the human operator nor directly putting the patron’s population at risk. Over time, ballistic missiles evolved into potent intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that, equipped with nuclear warheads, could deliver apocalyptic destruction remotely from one side of the globe to the other. It was the destructive power of nuclear weapons that triggered President Harry S. Truman to decide to drop a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki instead of ordering a ground invasion of Japan toward the end of World War II. Depending on where the invasion would have taken place and how long the war would have carried on, estimates of US military fatalities ranged from twenty thousand to three hundred thousand.2 The trade-off between protecting the lives of US military personnel over those of Japanese civilians was thus at the heart of Truman’s decision.3 This has led some to conclude that “states—including democracies—tend to prize victory and preserving [sic] the lives of their own people above humanity in warfare.”4 In the case of ICBMs, however, the development of nuclear strategy that converged into the concept of MAD made the civilian population the key target of

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retaliatory strikes. This type of coercive strategy relies on punishment, which aims at destroying those things that the enemy values most.5 Airpower theorists’ understanding of punishment has traditionally focused on strategies aimed at imposing civilian suffering through campaigns that seek to raise societal cost of continued resistance to levels that overwhelm the target state’s aim.6 Thus, for Giulio Douhet, the direct targeting of the population would trigger popular unrest and then force the government to make concessions.7 For the first chief of staff of the Royal Air Force, Hugh Trenchard, a similar effect could be achieved by striking German industrial centers so as to create mass unemployment, which would in turn induce the working class to rise up against its government. Air theorist Alexander P. de Seversky argued for a broader range of targets by striking all aspects of industrial infrastructures to achieve similar results. These punishment strategies all share the same theoretical assumption—namely, that “harming the civilian population will lead the government to comply with the coercer’s demands instead of enduring further suffering.”8 These assumptions hold true only when the adversary does not have a capability to retaliate. Therefore, in the age of MAD, ICBMs are not really suitable as surrogates because their destructive power and traceability invites retaliation. That is to say, ICBMs do not allow for the externalization of the burden of war. More likely, they will increase the burden of warfare for both civilian and military targets as well as for both the coercer and the defender. The birth of technological surrogacy is rooted in the early days of ballistic missiles. The invention of flying coupled with the invention of the jet engine set the scene for unmanned aerial platforms. Throughout World War II, Nazi Germany developed the predecessor of unmanned airpower: the V-1—a jet-enginepropelled cruise missile launched in the late days of the war against Britain. Of the 10,492 V-1s launched against Britain, only 20 percent reached targets in the London area, where 92 percent of the weapon’s victims (6,184 civilians) were killed, whereas German bombing from manned aircraft appeared far more effective, killing 51,509 civilians.9 The V-1’s ineffectiveness was the result of its guidance system, which directed a pilotless aircraft in a straight line for a preset distance.10 The 1950s and the 1960s were marked by no major developments except maybe the development and use of the Lightning Bug drone for reconnaissance purposes. Real military application of unmanned aircraft or drones started with the Vietnam War. It was then that the Lightning Bug drone made the first appearance of an unmanned aerial platform that could deliver ordnance onto a target. The Lightning Bug drone equipped with Maverick missiles would indeed pave the way to the Predator Hellfire systems thirty years later. However, the majority of unmanned


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aerial platforms were still used to conduct reconnaissance or surveillance missions. By the end of the Vietnam War, more than 3,400, or 12 percent, of the reconnaissance missions flown by the US Air Force were conducted by drones.11 Similar to the V-1 experience, however, the use of drones in the Vietnam War was still falling short of showing the same reliability and precision as manned aircraft. It was the Israelis who improved the use of drones in combat. In addition to observation missions, the Israeli Air Force used US-made Chukar target drones “as decoys to provoke Egyptian radars into giving away their positions, allowing the Israelis to find the sites and bomb them” during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.12 In 1981, an Israeli-manufactured Scout drone managed to take real-time pictures of Syrian antiaircraft systems—a capability that was more heavily used in 1982 during Israel’s First Lebanon War to provide surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance functions.13 Israel’s deployment of drones in Lebanon was transformative: They provided the patron with the ability to observe and then eliminate a target from the sky, similar to a sniper. Drones but also cruise missiles and— thanks to the invention of the Global Positioning System—PGMs transformed airpower from being merely a means of interdiction and punishment to a tool of decapitation strategies. Denial and punishment are outside-in approaches because they focus on the destruction of peripheral forces to incapacitate the inner source of military power.14 Punishment and denial strategies try to translate military effects on the enemy’s center of gravity into strategic and political outcomes. Decapitation is, however, an inside-out approach in which, by severing the brain (that is, the enemy’s leadership), the opponent is incapacitated from the inside out.15 As mentioned above, drones, cruise missile, and PGMs are well suited for decapitation strategies. The key difference between cruise missiles and drones is that the former is destroyed when it attacks a target, while the latter can be recovered. A cruise missile can be compared to a pilotless plane that, with some degree of autonomy, carries a warhead.16 Together with modern PGMs, which are laser- or satellite-guided weapons or a combination of both, cruise missiles have increased the superiority of theater airpower over strategic bombing because they enable the waging of an “independent air attrition offensive against a stationary, dug-in force which can substantially destroy the enemy force.”17 They allow a degree of externalization of the burden of warfare as they allow in certain cases the reduction of the political costs associated with using manned aircrafts or ballistic missiles. For instance, after al-Qaeda simultaneously struck the two US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam on August 7, 1998, the Americans launched thirteen cruise missiles on the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan, as well as

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sixty-six on training camps in Khost, Afghanistan, on August 20, 1998. The AlShifa factory was chosen because it was believed to produce nerve gas that could be acquired by Osama bin Laden. From the very beginning, President Bill Clinton ruled out the use of military personnel for this operation in close proximity to the target area for reasons of operational and political risk.18 Also, the use of cruise missiles offered the advantage of preserving discretion and deniability. In the end, although the military objectives were met, the operation was a strategic failure, as the factory was neither producing weapons of mass destruction nor owned by Bin Laden.19 Nonetheless, ever since the mid-1980s, the use of standoff weaponry such as PGMs, cruise missiles, and drones has helped patrons to reduce the political and operational risks involved in conducting counterterrorist operations overseas. As such, they have become an integral part of a patron’s surrogate toolbox. During the 1980s, the issue of force protection developed into a key driver of strategic planning. The cruise missile became the weapon of choice because it “does not endanger a human operator, and thus may be perfectly suitable for operations where a nation is unwilling to accept risks of having personnel caught and interned.”20 That is to say, standoff weapons were favored because they were believed to save soldiers’ lives, disregarding the fact that they shift the burden of war from the combatant to the civilian community.21 At the end of the 1980s, a New York Times article highlighted the euphoria that drones sparked initially: With the drones, there is no need to send manned aircraft for a look around and risk pilots against anti-aircraft batteries. . . . Military leaders, in planning how the American forces in the Persian Gulf region might be used, have been concerned about the possibility of a pilot falling into Iranian hands. The drone aircraft will help alleviate this concern, just as an earlier version of the system did for the Israeli military during combat with the Syrians in the Bekaa region of Lebanon. Israel used drones to spot air-defense sites, then attacked the sites with aircraft and artillery before the Syrians could use their weapons.22 The debate on the RMA that emerged from the 1991 Gulf War did not initially focus on drones but rather on the transformative impact of standoff munitions such as cruise missiles and PGMs on the defeat of Saddam Hussein. Indeed, although less than 10 percent of the weapons used against Iraqi forces and strategic infrastructure were precision munitions, the Gulf War set the stage for a new Western way of war—one relying increasingly on precision weaponry launched remotely.23 Cruise missiles, however, “lack the survivability and flexibility of an aircraft carrying far more precise, larger, and penetrating laser-guided bombs, which can


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attack multiple aim points on a single pass.”24 PGMs, though improving accuracy, did not solve the fundamental problem of force protection. Weaponized drones would combine the standoff advantages of cruise missiles with the accuracy and flexibility of PGMs to become the first real technological surrogate in the US-led war against al-Qaeda in the early 2000s. Faced with a nontraditional enemy that would use asymmetrical warfare tactics and take refuge in ungoverned spaces across the globe, the United States primarily opted for decapitation strikes to fight al-Qaeda and global terrorism. One of the first instances of the use of drones for decapitation purposes, however, was the Israeli strike on Sheikh Abbas al-Musawi on February 16, 1992, when a scout drone tracked down the leader of Hezbollah and a missile launched from a helicopter killed him.25 Such advanced uses of drones for decapitation strikes inspired the CIA, which understood early on how effective remote warfare could be to wage wars in the shadows. In 1993, the CIA started operating Gnat-750 drones in Bosnia. Because of its relative effectiveness, the CIA and the Pentagon developed a more advanced version, the Gnat 750-45, which would come to be known as Predator.26 When al-Qaeda attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, the US Air Force had nine Predator drones and would later lose three of them in one month.27 It was at that time also that the first-ever Predators equipped with Hellfire missiles were used in combat mission in Afghanistan. Weaponized Predators were then employed to eliminate enemies in and outside of war zones. Muhammad Atef, alQaeda’s military chief and bin Laden’s deputy, was the first known casualty of a US Predator strike, in November 2001. In November 2002, al-Qaeda operatives Qaed al-Harethi and Abdul al-Fatahani, suspected of having been involved in the strike against the USS Cole in Aden in 2000, were killed in drone strikes conducted by the CIA.28 In 2004, Pakistan granted the Americans the right to conduct drone decapitation strikes against an influential member of the Taliban, Nek Mohammad. Pakistan was adamant that it had to retain plausible deniability and thus delegated the strike to the Americans, who were able to cover up their traces by relying on a drone as a technological surrogate.29 This campaign of targeting high-value alQaeda targets would last until 2007. The CIA’s most expansive use of drone strikes against high-value targets around the world started at the end of the George W. Bush era and came of age under the Obama administration. Thus, in ten years, from 2004 to 2014, 408 drone strikes, killing an estimated 2,410 to 3,902 people, were conducted by the CIA in Pakistan alone.30 The agency had developed the perfect surrogate, delivering force remotely, cheaply, and with plausible deniability and discretion to targets across the globe—all at minimal political costs. For the Americans, drones would

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substitute the infantry soldier whenever the US military could not operate openly on the ground. Not surprisingly, then, since 9/11, the “Americans have carried out 95 percent of all non-battlefield targeted killing with drones.”31 The use of weaponized drones represents the first true application of a machine as a surrogate. Drones minimize the exposure of the infantryman to operational risks, thereby minimizing the political risks for policymakers to employ them. Under the radar of public awareness, drones provide the option of remotely conducting protracted counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations far removed from home over an extensive period of time.32 With the burden of war being externalized to these unmanned platforms, the bar for waging war overseas has been significantly lowered.33 The political and psychological barriers to using lethal force are decreasing, making it easier for policymakers to use force discreetly without public or political authority.34 It is worth noting that nonstate actors such as Hezbollah, ISIS, and the Houthi rebels have now also acquired these capabilities. Drones provide these groups with intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and in some instances offensive capability, which can act as a force multiplier while shielding their own operatives from operational risks.35 Precision-guided munitions, drones, and unmanned vehicles act as technological surrogates that alter states’ decision-making regarding the use of force. They lower the political threshold for their use as well as slow the likely loss of public support inherent to sustained military campaigns. Some therefore see similarities between these weapons and cyber weapons.36 Although the analogy bears some truth, it does not, however, appreciate the transformative impact that the weaponization of the cyber domain will have on the nature of warfare.

Warfare in the Cyber Domain The cyber domain has become a new dimension of international politics and the fifth dimension of warfare, besides ground, air, sea, and space. NATO has recognized cyberspace as a military domain since July 2016, accounting for the emergence of a new class of weapons: cyber weapons.37 A cyber weapon can be defined as a “computer code that is used, or designed to be used, with the aim of threatening or causing physical, functional or mental harm to structures, systems or living beings.”38 Cyber weapons cover a spectrum that ranges from malicious software that influences a system from the outside without being able to penetrate it to malware capable of penetration and independent interference with the output process so as to cause functional and physical disruption.39


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Traditional theories on the military application of cyber technologies distinguish between three categories of the offensive use of cyber weapons: subversion, espionage, and sabotage.40 What distinguishes these categories from one another are the required levels of technical know-how and the required mobilization of human capacity. Whereas sabotage requires high levels of technical know-how, it does not require extensive manpower to be carried out. On the other end of the spectrum, subversion does not require a mastery of technical expertise but relies on masses of consumers to spread narratives. Sabotage by Cyber Weapon The earliest alleged case of the use of a cyber weapon for sabotage was by the CIA against the trans-Siberian gas pipeline in 1982. The CIA may have embedded a Trojan horse in software and microchips stolen by the Soviet Union. The stolen material ran smoothly for a few months, but then the pipeline software went haywire, accelerating pump activity and fiddling with the valve settings to produce overpressure that led to the pipeline bursting.41 The bombing of a Syrian nuclear reactor in Deir ez-Zor in 2007 by the Israeli Air Force during Operation Orchard was most likely enabled by the hacking of the Syrian air defenses. Israeli cyber operators seemed to have taken over as system administrators and manipulated the sensors of the Syrian radars in order to deceive their operators.42 As with the Soviet pipeline explosion, the Israeli penetration of the airdefense system did not leave any trace behind—unlike the 2009 Stuxnet targeted attack against Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities, which nonetheless ended up collaterally infecting over a hundred thousand Windows systems worldwide.43 Stuxnet was engineered to undermine Iran’s nuclear weapon program by infecting at least fourteen industrial sites, one of which was a uranium-enrichment plant. The 500-kilobyte computer worm disabled Iranian centrifuges that were integral to the enrichment of nuclear material. The virus did so by attacking and compromising the supervisory-control-and-data-acquisition and programmablelogic-controller systems, which caused the fast-spinning centrifuges to break down.44 Stuxnet disabled at least a thousand centrifuges, or more than 10 percent of the capacities of the plant in Natanz.45 Because of the complexity of the malware, Stuxnet relied on four zero-day exploits, which is a vulnerability that is unknown to the hackers’ community and thus undetectable. The complexity of the code used suggests that a lot of know-how and resources were necessary to develop this cyber weapon. In 2013, former US National Security Agency (NSA)

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contractor Edward Snowden alleged that Israel and the United States were behind this attack.46 In May 2012, a new malware named Flame, exhibiting similar characteristics to Stuxnet, was found. Then, in August 2012, Shamoon, a computer virus resembling Flame, disabled thirty thousand computers of the Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco. Iran was suspected to be behind this attack. Shamoon resurfaced through three distinct waves from November 2016 to January 2017. The malware targeted specific critical sectors for Saudi Arabia, including government, industry, telecommunications, and transportation, wiping out hard drives across organizational networks.47 In August 2017, Saudi Arabia was once again targeted by new malware, which attacked a petrochemical company plant, not to destroy its data but to trigger an explosion instead.48 This string of events suggests a worrisome escalation in the use of cyber weapons, proliferated and employed by a variety of patrons. The fact that no conclusive evidence could be provided about the source of these attacks illustrates nicely how cyber weapons can provide the patron with plausible deniability. The fact that cyber weapons can also be reverse-engineered makes them a double-edged sword, however, as this surrogate can be “caught,” reengineered, and employed against the original patron. The autonomous character of cyber surrogates makes them uncontrollable entities that share similarities with biological viruses released into an unconstrained environment. For instance, the makers of the Mirai botnet,49 three college students in their early twenties, responsible for the first distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack relying on connected devices, released their malware source code on the website Hack Forum in September 2016. In the five months that followed, 15,194 DDoS attacks were attributed to variations of Mirai.50 One of these attacks targeted the domain-name server Dyn, paralyzed millions of computers, and almost brought down the Internet in North America. Thus, although not delivering a kinetic effect, cyber weapons can nonetheless have an immense disruptive impact without putting the patron’s civilian or military capacity at risk. Cyber weapons can disrupt networks critical to not just military but also civilian infrastructure, as the potential for collateral damage is exponential once these weapons are released “into the wild.” While malware such as Stuxnet are offensive cyber weapons, the public cyber sphere has become increasingly the new battlefield, in which disruption is no longer achieved through sabotage but through subversion. The subversive elements of social media make it a surrogate to be reckoned with.


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The Subversive Impact of Social Media The rise of the Internet 2.0 in the early 2000s contributed to the explosion of social media. Unlike the Internet 1.0, which was characterized by static HTML Web pages, the use of the Internet in the Internet 2.0 is characterized by users’ ability to interact and collaborate with one another through virtual dialogue. In contrast to the passive consumption of content in the early days of the Internet, the Internet 2.0 allows for the creation of user-generated content in a virtual community such as social-networking sites and wikis.51 Because of the speed of technological development and innovation, any attempt to develop a taxonomy of social media is bound to become very quickly obsolete.52 One attribute uniting social media platforms, however, is that they allow for the interactive “communication between people without spatial limits, time constraints or restriction on freedom and offer the opportunity to transfer the content of any visual, voice, or written message.”53 The emergence of smartphones and the improvement of mobile technology further contributed to the reach of social media at the end of the 2000s, allowing them to penetrate deeper than conventional media. Facebook’s one billion monthly active users in 2012 more than doubled to 2.2 billion by 2017.54 If the Facebook community were a country, it would almost be double the size of China.55 Consequently, the network societies built in the cyberspace by social media have become a source of immense transformative power, reaching and mobilizing potentially hundreds of millions of individuals within a transnational global public sphere.56 The impact on sociopolitics in both liberal and illiberal countries has been highly disruptive.57 As Lucas Kello notes, “Information is no longer just a source of power; it has become force itself.”58 The transformative impact of social media lies not just in the fact that it allows individuals to share information in the cyber sphere widely unconstrained by repressive authorities but also that it becomes a tool for social integration and mobilization. The fact that social media empowers “individuals, facilitates independent communication and mobilization, and strengthens an emergent civil society”59 has earned it the name “liberation technology”—a statement with security implications. The so-called Arab Spring, although rooted in wider regional sociopolitical and socioeconomic grievances, was facilitated by the mobilizing impact of social media. Despite widespread regime repression in the region, dissidents were able to organize, share information, and mobilize on the Internet 2.0. The selfimmolation of the Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi in December 2010 sparked an unrest that quickly spread throughout the Arab world as images of

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state repression were shared on social media and adopted by conventional media, escalating dissidence into rage.60 When manipulated, social media’s impact can be subversive in nature, particularly when used to influence and mobilize individuals and communities. Empowerment can be both positive and negative, particularly in postmodern conflicts in which narratives are of strategic importance. Social media has been particularly powerful in the context of insurgency and counterinsurgency, wherein narratives shape perception and mobilize the insurgent’s popular base locally or the counterinsurgent’s home base overseas. Social media therefore becomes a powerful surrogate for both the insurgent and counterinsurgent, externalizing the disruptive effects of kinetic warfare into the global cyber realm, where information is made available instantly to a global audience. Traditional theories of insurgencies are a product of the Cold War and the postcolonial conflicts of the 1950s and 1960s. The Maoist model represents the basic model on which variants have been developed. All models share the same basic assumptions. First, they are limited to a specific territory, which is very often confined to the boundaries of a state. Second, the insurgent group offers an alternative ideology to the one it is opposing. Third, the target of the insurgents’ propaganda is the population of the territory they aim to take over because, as insurgents are weaker, they need popular support. Finally, in order to survive and to prosper, the insurgency needs a sanctuary where it can regroup, plan its actions, and manage its logistics. This sanctuary by definition should be out of reach for the counterinsurgent. The ultimate objective of the insurgent movement is to delegitimize the governing authority by a series of subversive actions, which range from propaganda to the use of force and terrorism against the authority. Therefore, insurgency is a form of intrasocietal conflict in which a nongoverning body attempts to destroy, reform, or degrade the legitimacy of and popular support for the incumbent governing body. Insurgents utilize political activism, subversion, propaganda, and intimidation of the population to achieve these objectives and to develop their own political support for alternative governance. In the twenty-first century, insurgencies are no longer fought in the physical realm of the battlefield alone but ever more in a battle over narratives in cyberspace.61 Social media provides the insurgent with a tool to reach a far greater group of recipients, doing so instantly, more ubiquitously, and with lower transaction costs than in the past. Nascent insurgencies therefore a reach “widely dispersed audience of potential recruits, supporters, and allies at a very low cost, and with less chance of discovery.”62 Not only is the recruitment process no longer constrained


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by geographical boundaries but social media also allows insurgencies “to broaden their base by aggregating anger, frustration, and resentment inherent in many societies.”63 With social media, the process of aggregating local grievances is shifted to the global cyber sphere where it is easy, cheap, and safe to initiate contact with a large audience of aggrieved individuals. It becomes easier for the insurgent to find and contact the type of recruit who is susceptible to his narratives. Also, thanks to various communication channels in cyberspace such as chat rooms, mobile applications, and email, the insurgent can identify potential human surrogates who might be likely to embrace the values and ideologies of the group.64 Faced with this new reality, new approaches to insurgency start from the observation that global communication technology and social media decouple the insurgent’s dissidence from particular societal identities and subsume it in a global narrative of dissidence. Australian Army lieutenant colonel David Kilcullen, a former member of US Army general David Petraeus’s team of advisers, has been very instrumental in reviving theories of global insurgency. He argues that “Al Qaeda and similar groups feed on local grievances, integrate them into broader ideologies, and link disparate conflicts through globalized communications, finances and technology”—all that through the means of digital technology and social media.65 The main characteristics of global insurgency are that unlike traditional insurgencies they are transnational and can be composed of several ideologies. Their audience is no longer limited to one community, and thus they no longer require a local sanctuary. Instead, their sanctuary is in the global, anonymous cyberspace. Their financial needs are easier to fulfill through crowd funding. Insurgents are superempowered. This means that they can organize themselves very flexibly in nonhierarchical networks, which “can work collaboratively on tasks of mutual interests, arm and educate themselves, gather intelligence, and plan and pursue strategies which they could not have done otherwise.”66 This decentralization of action is supported by local sources that are external to the insurgency itself. In fact, the global insurgent externalizes the burden of insurgency to “superinfluencers” on social media: individual accounts that on a specific social media platform have the power to convey messages to a significant group of followers authoritatively and credibly. Relayed by the diffusion of social media, superinfluencers consciously or subconsciously promote the global insurgent’s narrative, thereby expanding the insurgent’s reach, penetration, and potentially legitimacy. More powerful than factual information is the dissemination of emotions, which are key to shaping narratives and values in a globalized world. As former British prime minister Tony Blair observed, “Globalisation begets interdependence and interdependence begets the necessity of a common value system to make it

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work.”67 In today’s globalized world, the battle for global values and specific worldviews has become a defining feature of the character of war. Technology has enabled the deterritorialization of insurgency and created what John Robb calls “open source warfare.”68 This refers to the fact that war is no longer a closed and state-centered affair but an open phenomenon that pits states against nonstate groups. The goal of traditional guerrilla tactics of exhausting the adversary by targeting its societal rather than military infrastructure remains but is offered new interpretation through the concept of system disruption. Concepts such as open-source warfare rely on the core concept of surrogate warfare—namely, that the application of coercion or coercive means is subcontracted to different indirect and often coincidental surrogates that do not necessarily support the goals of the source of coercion. The campaign of the self-declared “Islamic State” is a good example illustrating the concept of open-source warfare whereby the quasi state of ISIS as a patron has partially externalized first its insurgent activities and later its terrorist activities to cyberspace. Unlike insurgent activities, terrorist activities are “easier to create and sustain in the contemporary security environment.”69 Looking at the setbacks ISIS suffered throughout 2016 and 2017, which brought it to the verge of collapse, the global insurgent group became increasingly a global terrorist organization relying on encrypted messaging applications such as Telegram and on social media as surrogates to spread its narratives, diffuse the resonance of its attacks outside Syria and Iraq, and instill terror in Western publics. At its core, ISIS’s strategy as a global terrorist organization relies on social media influencers to target the sociopsychology of Western publics. Superinfluencers, such as journalists, analysts, and commentators, become unwilling, somewhat coincidental surrogates for the Islamic State as they spread the images and messages of terror. Any Twitter feed by key opinion leaders depicting the atrocious scenes of ISIS executions helps the organization to inject terror into the hearts and minds of publics around the world. Further, these social media feeds attract sympathizers since the public display of the group’s actions in the cyber sphere generates an appeal among susceptible audiences. The active use of social media channels offers, therefore, the best vehicle to support such a strategy of “shock and awe” as it bypasses censorship. This is in spite of the fact that social media companies come under increased pressure by governments to tighten content monitoring. Under these new circumstances, counterinsurgents and counterterrorists have to adapt their strategies of how to tackle these globalized insurgents or terrorists. The main effort should be directed toward denying insurgents’ objective to generate appeal among individuals susceptible to these narratives. Vulnerable


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communities need to be presented with a counternarrative that provides a viable and credible alternative to that of the insurgent. Similar to conventional counterinsurgency campaigns, “winning hearts and minds” should be at the core of undermining the insurgent’s or terrorist’s narrative. Owing to the fact that the possible target audience is so diverse, the concept of winning hearts and minds becomes almost impossible to achieve, however. A good example of this conundrum was the US Department of State’s strategy of countering the ISIS narrative with the “Think Again Turn Away” campaign and the “ISIS Land” video, which consistently failed to resonate with the target audience and failed to provide any tangible results.70 Similarly, the virtual assemblages that insurgent or terrorist groups create in cyberspace are highly resilient because of the ad hoc nature of the networks that bind patron and surrogates. The redundancy provided by social media makes the closing down of websites, blogs, personal profiles, and accounts fairly ineffective. For instance, when Twitter and YouTube accounts affiliated with ISIS were suspended after the beheading of American journalist James Foley in August 2014, new accounts were created immediately on the Diaspora and on the VKontakte social-networking services. Nonetheless, a more proactive intervention by social media hosts such as Twitter and Facebook restricting ISIS’s freedom of maneuver in cyberspace had an impact on the group’s reach. The ISIS cyber sphere was forced to migrate to a more secure and therefore less public social media platform such as Telegram, undermining the virtual reach and penetration of the organization.71 Ultimately, globalized insurgency or globalized terrorist activity cannot be defeated but only managed since, at its core, it relies on too many autonomous surrogates proliferating messages, narratives, and terror.72 Hence, digital technologies can be a powerful surrogate, complementing psychological and information operations of both state and nonstate actors. Relying on both human and technological surrogates, the cyber sphere can act as a force multiplier—an opportunity Russia has been exploiting in recent years. Russia’s Use of Cyber Surrogates The emergence of the cyber domain provided Russia with an opportunity to enhance its expertise in political warfare, which represents “all the means at a nation’s command, short of war, to achieve it national objectives” through both overt and covert operations.73 From Moscow’s perspective, cyber warfare, saturation of the media, and psychological operations are all part of information warfare. Traditional media such as Russia Today (now known as RT) and Sputnik, as well as troll

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factories, are extensively used to push the Kremlin’s view and spread alternative discourses so as to “subvert targeted governments from within.”74 They represent “surrogate forms of power” to compensate for Russia’s relative economic inferiority and its military shortcomings, especially in major combat operations, in comparison to the West.75 As former defense minister Sergei Ivanov stated, information “is a weapon that allows us to carry out would-be military actions in practically any theatre of war and most importantly, without using military power.”76 Since 2007, Russia has extensively used cyber and information operations against Estonia, Georgia, Ukraine, and the United States, among others. From April 26 to mid-May 2007, Estonia was faced with a nationwide cyberattack on its information- and digital-technology infrastructure, such as government offices, banks, and communication networks. The offensive used various means, such as denial of service, hacking, and botnets,77 which hijacked up to eighty-five thousand computers. The major advantage of the use of botnets is that it conceals the origin of the attack by relying on compromised ghost devices, which act as surrogates. In the case of Estonia, the Kremlin could also rely on surrogates in the form of activists such as Konstantin Goloskokov, who “organized a network of sympathizers who bombarded Estonian Internet sites with electronic requests, causing them to crash.”78 Further, the Russian government also relied on cybercrime organizations such as the Russian Business Network, an organization likely connected to the Russian mafia, to launch attacks.79 In August 2008, Russia for the first time combined kinetic attacks and cyberattacks in an international military operation against Georgia.80 Russia’s information-warfare proficiency had substantially improved from the operations in Estonia. The Russian campaign against Georgia involved two types of surrogate operations, one externalizing the burden of war to Russian nongovernmental hackers to disrupt and deny computer network services through DDoS attack,81 and one to disrupt the war over narratives during the military operation. In the first instance, the Russian ministry of defense delegated the cyberwarfare effort to hackers and criminal organizations, who were directed to shut down governmental websites in Georgia as a prelude to conventional military operations. Dedicated websites such as were set up, allegedly by Russian organized crime organizations, to recruit “hacktivists”—patriotic Russian cyber specialists able to launch botnet attacks.82 Second, Russian bloggers were used as surrogates in a much wider information operation aimed at controlling or disrupting the narratives that emanated from both Georgian and Western media. For instance, when a poll on the CNN website asked whether Russia’s actions in Georgia were justified, 92 percent of respondents (more than 329,000) answered


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positively, but Russian bloggers had disseminated the poll on the Russian blogosphere and encouraged their readers to skew the vote.83 Although it is debatable how much the Russian government directed or controlled these surrogates, the operation nonetheless yielded overall benefits for Russian military operations. In the Ukraine Crisis in 2014, the lessons learned by Russia from the previous two cyber operations were applied more professionally and effectively. From mid2013, a Russian state-sponsored cyber-espionage operation, Operation Armageddon, was launched to identify Ukrainian military strategies so as “to aid Russian warfare efforts.”84 This was followed by a pro-Russian hacktivist group named CyberBerkut,85 which penetrated Ukraine’s ministry of finance and the country’s largest commercial bank, stealing and disclosing financial data and documents to undermine the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government. The “voluntary cyber offensive unit CyberBerkut,”86 as depicted by Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the cybersecurity company F-Secure, then compromised the website of Ukraine’s election commission and changed the election results in favor of the ultra-right candidate Dmytro Yarosh. The fraud was detected and corrected just an hour before the declaration of the official results. In an apparent coordination with CyberBerkut, Russian state media nonetheless broadcasted the manipulated results.87 A new and more forceful cyber operation was then carried out by multiple surrogate hackers on December 23, 2015. Sophisticated cyberattacks shut down three regional power-distribution companies, affecting more than two hundred thousand customers.88 These offensive cyber operations against Ukraine were made possible by the externalization of the burden of warfare to human surrogates who provided the niche cyber expertise that was needed to bring about disruption with a degree of plausible deniability. For some observers, Ukraine served as Moscow’s cyber-warfare testing ground for “new forms of global online combat.”89 Both Russia’s military intelligence agency the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) and its Federal Security Service (FSB) have been accused of working through several hacker outfits, notably APT28, or Fancy Bear (tied to CyberBerkut), and APT29, nicknamed Cozy Bear.90 These groups of hackers have been accused of infiltrating, stealing, and leaking documents and emails from the US Democratic National Committee (DNC), the US Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the personal account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, during the 2016 presidential election. The leaks were then made public by a false flag-flag operation using an alleged Romanian hacktivist, Guccifer 2.0,91 as well as by WikiLeaks.92 They inspired journalists, notably from Politico, The Intercept, and BuzzFeed, who would build their stories around these leaks without questioning their origins—thereby acting

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unwittingly as surrogates in a Russian campaign to influence US presidential elections.93 Similar hacking and leaks of French president Emmanuel Macron’s political party’s emails and documents were carried out on the eve of the French election 2017, while data stolen from Germany’s parliament has yet not been released.94 The information and cyber domains are key to Russia’s strategy of hybrid warfare. Hybrid warfare targets the resilience and stability of a state by instilling “a feeling of constant political and economic insecurity among the target state’s population.”95 The ultimate goal for Russia and Vladimir Putin personally is to demonstrate that while the West might be able to mobilize and steer liberal narratives in Russia’s backyard, Russia can do the same right in the heart of Western democracies. As information is available globally, shaping strategic narratives has become a very important dimension of global influence.96 According to Russia’s chief of the General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, “The information space opens wide asymmetrical possibilities for reducing the fighting potential of the enemy.”97 The strength of Moscow’s approach lies in the fact that cyber and disinformation operations remain under the threshold of military action, making it hard for adversaries to retaliate by conventional military means.98 Target states are reluctant to take direct action against Russia as definitive attribution to Putin is difficult to establish—a fact that the director of the NSA already highlighted prior to the 2016 US presidential election: “One of the trends I look for increasingly in the future . . . [is] do you see nation-states start to look for surrogates as a way to overcome our capabilities in attribution?”99 Yet little was done to prevent it. What Russia has shown in the cyber domain is that a disinformation strategy relying on both human and technological surrogates working in sync can create a self-propelling mechanism that magnifies messages across a global cyber sphere. In particular, the extensive use of social media bots,100 working in parallel with human surrogates, has created power assemblages that provide the patron with reach, deniability, and discretion at minimal human, financial, and political costs.101 The disruptive potential of cyber surrogates will most likely excel to yet unseen levels with the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI).

AI as the Ultimate Technological Surrogate? The concept of AI dates back to the early 1950s. In the words of the founders of the discipline, AI represents the ability of “making a machine behave in ways that would be called intelligent if a human were so behaving.”102 In other words, it is the capability of a computer system to perform tasks that normally require human


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analytical skills. Although this definition is oversimplified because the parameters of intelligence are still ill defined, it nonetheless identifies key attributes that can act as points of reference. In most basic terms, intelligence refers to the ability to understand, learn, and adapt to new environments.103 AI refers therefore to software (algorithms) or machines that exhibit characteristics of “human reasoning, problem-solving, perception, learning, planning, and/or knowledge.”104 For decades AI was not taken seriously, as the ambitions were widely undermined by the lack of scientific and technological advances. Google’s cofounder, Sergey Brin, admitted that he “didn’t pay attention to it [AI] at all. Having been trained as a computer scientist in the 1990s, everybody knew that AI didn’t work. People tried it, they tried neural nets and none of it worked.” Fast-forward a few years, and Brin now says that AI “touches every single one of Google’s main projects, ranging from search to photos to ads . . . everything we do. The revolution in deep nets has been very profound, it definitely surprised me, even though I was sitting right there.”105 Two technological developments brought AI to the fore since the beginning of this decade. First, advances in the miniaturization of transistors has allowed for the realization of Moore’s law positing the doubling of available computing power about every eighteen months.106 Second, with the emergence of mobile and connected devices, the amount of data generated on a daily basis has exploded. If the engine is the algorithm run by sophisticated computing power, data is the engine fuel. For algorithms to work properly, they have to be trained and to process hundreds of thousands and even sometimes millions of data sets. It is estimated that 2.5 exabytes were produced every day in 2011. This is the equivalent of 250,000 Libraries of Congress or 530,000,000 songs.107 By way of comparison, in 2011 as much data was produced in a week as during the entire year of 2002. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), the ever-increasing network of computerconnected objects, machine, and people, it is estimated that 8.4 billion connected devices were in use worldwide by the end of 2017, and 20.4 billion are estimated to be operational by 2020.108 These devices will generate 44 zettabytes of data, which is equivalent to 5,200 gigabytes for every individual on earth, or the approximate equivalent of the books that would be on a fifty-two-kilometer bookshelf.109 The combination of increasing computing power and available data has enabled breakthroughs in AI, notably in the field of machine learning through supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement-learning algorithms.110 Algorithms such as Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo, which won at the game of Go against the world’s best player, and Libratus, which defeated some of the best human poker players, have been able to make remarkable breakthroughs in learning some of the most

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sophisticated and complicated games that exist. Repeated rounds played by the algorithms allowed the machines to perfect their strategies and achieve superhuman performance.111 Current algorithms, unlike Deep Blue, which was programmed to beat chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov through brute computational force capable of evaluating two hundred million moves per second, are built on learning techniques, and some are tested so as to make them general-purpose frameworks that can achieve superhuman performance across many different domains. For instance, a variant of AlphaGo was used by Google to manage power usage. It reduced the amount of electricity needed for cooling by 40 percent, which translated into a 15 percent reduction in overall power use.112 By using reinforcement learning techniques and enough simulations, these algorithms are able to increasingly learn and perform new tasks, providing enough data can be processed.113 More importantly, these algorithms are then no longer just imitating human decision-making processes but exploring new approaches to problem solving and courses of action through induction, abduction, and deduction based on probabilistic and statistical logics.114 Nonetheless, current forms of AI are still characterized as narrow or weak because they are designed to perform a narrow scope of tasks in contrast to strong artificial general intelligence (AGI),115 which is comparable to human-level intelligence.116 Still, autonomous technologies that rely on the different techniques of AI are increasingly influencing warfare both in the cyber and physical domains. The weapons that derive from these technologies have the potential to bring surrogacy to a new level. The Use of AI for Subversive Operations Although still at their infancy, current developments in AI provide some indications on the way they could influence surrogate warfare in the future. Two areas of possible applications can already be identified: subversive and offensive operations. The Internet 2.0 empowered individuals and democratized subversive operations as shown earlier in this chapter.117 As Rand Waltzman observed, “The ability to influence is now effectively ‘democratized’ since any individual or group can communicate and influence large numbers of others online.118 The development of algorithms in the fields of voice and face recognition or conversational agents achieved major breakthroughs recently.119 These developments bring subversion to a new level and open the field for mass computational propaganda.120 Machinedriven communication tools coupled with video-, image-, and voice-editing algorithms are unleashing unseen ways for mass manipulations. With the current state of AI, it is now possible to manipulate images and swap faces on videos without


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the human eye being able to recognize the forgery. Worst, face-swapping applications such as “Deepfake” and “FakeApp” are now accessible to anybody. Such technologies democratize the production of “fake news.” Moreover, the emergence of generative adversarial networks (GANs) can create highly realistic forged videos of policymakers and state leaders making fake statements.121 The rise of “creative AI will add a new and more immediate dimension to the post truth era”122—something that will be compounded by the widespread use of social bots and trolls disseminating disinformation. A study of pro-Syrian-regime botnets demonstrated that over a period of thirtyfive weeks from April to December 2012, the bots generated more than sixteen hundred tweets per week, or roughly a tweet every six minutes.123 These botnets’ main activity was to consolidate disinformation by misdirecting the audience to unrelated content using popular hashtags. For instance, the bot redirected social media attention away from Syria to political unrest in Bahrain or created tweets talking about Syria’s cinema on hashtags that were related to Syria’s Civil War. The study concluded that despite their intense activities, the bots did not manage to mimic human behaviors. With the developments in AI highlighted above, however, the ability of social bots to mimic and influence human behaviors will most likely rapidly change in the near future.124 The automation of the creation and dissemination of highquality but fake news stories and multimedia productions will become an increasing real threat. GANs can now generate synthetic output that resembles human production, and in a very near future “sophisticated AI systems might allow groups to target precisely the right message at precisely the right time in order to maximise persuasive potential.”125 The increasing automation of political manipulation by social bots,126 which will be more and more able to learn by themselves will allow for the rise of true technological surrogates waging psychological and disinformation operations in the cyber sphere, with extensive disruptive effects in the real world. The Militarization of AI The logical trend in future warfare seems to head in the direction of increasingly autonomous weapon systems.127 In contested environments, some level of autonomy is crucial for an unmanned platform to remain a viable operational tool. Indeed, weapon autonomy “removes requirements of a communication link to remotely controlled weapon systems such as unmanned aerial systems, which can prompt command delays and is vulnerable to electromagnetic disruption such as spoofing or jamming, as well as capture that could reveal the drone’s location and

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sensor feeds.”128 Autonomy in weapon systems is a relative concept and subject to different interpretations. The difficulty in defining autonomy, and hence AWS, lies in the fact that autonomy can refer to at least three completely different concepts: the complexity of the machine, the type of decisions or functions being automated, and the human-machine command-and-control relationship.129 From a technical point of view, the complexity of a system can be classified in three categories: automatic, automated, and autonomous. Automatic systems are those that “mechanically respond to sensory input and step through predefined procedures, and whose functioning cannot accommodate uncertainties in the operating environment.”130 Typical examples here include the V-1 cruise missile, the later V-2 rocket, and land mines. Automated systems are those that are “programmed to logically follow a predefined set of rules in order to provide an outcome; their output are ‘predictable if the set of rules under which they operate is known.’”131 Homing PGMs such as the United States’ AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile, Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system, and South Korea’s SGR-A1 border sentry guns would fall into this category. A fully autonomous system is “capable of understanding higher-level of intent and direction. From this understanding and its perception of its environment, such a system can take appropriate action to bring about a desired state. It is capable of deciding a course of action, from a number of alternatives, without depending on human oversight and control, although these may still be present.”132 According to the US Department of Defense (DoD), which has an open public policy on AWS, “to be autonomous, a system must have the capability to independently compose and select among different courses of action to accomplish goals based on its knowledge and understanding of the world, itself, and the situation.”133 The level of autonomy in weapons is a contested debate that has triggered the 2016 establishment of a governmental group of experts on lethal AWS at the United Nations, which is tasked with developing an internationally recognized definition of the term. Although there is still no internationally agreed definition, Heather Roff and Richard Moyes suggest that a fully autonomous weapon system should fulfill three functions: move independently through its environment to arbitrary locations, select and fire on targets in its environment, and create and or modify its goals, incorporating observation of its environment and communication with other agents.134 In other words, fully autonomous weapons have the ability to complete the entire engagement cycle, which comprises the search for a target, the decision to engage it, and the engagement of the target on their own.135 Paul Scharre, who has written the most extensive study on autonomous weapons so far and who led the group that drafted the first official US policy on autonomy


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in weapons, argues that there is only one example of an autonomous weapon in use today: the Israeli Harpy.136 The Harpy is an antiradiation loitering weapon capable of finding and attacking radar installations autonomously. Others argue that, for instance, the British dual-mode Brimstone guided missile is also an autonomous weapon because it is currently the only operational guided munition with autonomous target selection.137 Both the Harpy and the Brimstone are not assigned a specific target but rather an area where they will have to find targets that match a predefined target type. For Scharre, the inability of the Brimstone to loiter over a long period of time, however, disqualifies it as a fully autonomous weapon system.138 This discussion shows that today there are only a handful of platforms that would qualify as fully autonomous weapons. The first reason is technological, as the current level of technological know-how does not yet allow sufficient discrimination between enemy and own forces as well as civilians in a contested environment.139 There is also an organizational argument that explains why militaries have not pushed aggressively to develop fully autonomous weapons. These weapons are expensive and can be used only once, reducing the commander’s propensity to fire them unless targets are clearly identified before launch—a fact that somewhat undermines the added value of autonomous weapons.140 Thus, the issue of reusability is key in the decision of the commander to engage such weapons. Reusability is not an issue in the cyber domain, where codes can be replicated easily with little or no additional costs.141 It is therefore very likely that this domain will see the first deployments and proliferation of fully autonomous weapons systems. For instance, at the Black Hat USA Conference in August 2018, IBM presented a proof of concept dubbed “DeepLocker,” which is an AI-powered malware “highly targeted and evasive.”142 DeepLocker changes the rules of malware evasion by hiding its malicious payload in benign carrier applications such as a video or a video-conferencing application but uses AI to create unique “trigger conditions” that can be unlocked only if the intended target is reached. The neural network is trained to recognize a specific person, for instance, and then it produces the key needed to unlock the attack. In the words of IBM researchers, you can think of this capability as similar to a sniper attack in contrast to the “spray and pray” approach of traditional malware.”143 Staging different attacks only requires training the neural network to identify new targets. In the physical world, drones also solve the problem of reusability, as they can return home if they do not find their target. Hence, the next generation of experimental drones, such as the United Kingdom’s Taranis, France’s nEUROn, and the American X-47B are becoming increasingly autonomous as they are equipped with loitering technologies so as to make them more persistent and enhance their

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surveillance, reconnaissance, and target-acquisition abilities.144 These technologies, combined with target-discrimination algorithms, represent “a new frontier of autonomy, where the weapon does not have a specific target but a set of potential targets and it waits in the engagement zone until an appropriate target is detected.”145 Moreover, as this type of drone is less expensive than conventional fifthgeneration aircraft,146 commanders are inclined to risk their use autonomously, as both the financial costs of failure and the costs of loitering are minimized. Consequently, the merger of AI and lower-cost unmanned platforms extensively enhances the patron’s choice of technological surrogates. Moreover, procured in large numbers and equipped with collective intelligence algorithms, or collective autonomy, these unmanned platforms can be used in swarms.147 Without the need of human-patron control, swarms will be able to operate autonomously, not just supplementing patron capability and capacity but more importantly also replacing it. The swarming tactic relies on overwhelming and saturating the adversary’s defense system by synchronizing a series of simultaneous and concentrated attacks.148 It magnifies the military principles of mass, coordination, speed, and concentration of forces to a new level. Autonomous swarms will allow the concentration of a large number of military assets with very few or no human controllers and with far quicker reaction times in changing situations than any human could ever produce.149 In October 2016, the DoD conducted an experiment in which 103 Perdix micro drones were launched from three F/A-18 combat aircraft and were assigned four objectives. In the words of William Roper, director of the DoD’s Strategic Capabilities Office, the drones shared “one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature.”150 The drones collectively decided that a mission was accomplished, flew on to the next mission, and carried out that one.151 Because of the ease in which autonomous technologies can proliferate, some posit that the development of AWS will probably have a destabilizing impact on strategic stability in the future.152 The adoption of swarming tactics in the context of AWS also risks upsetting strategic balances by neutralizing defense systems and therefore giving an advantage to the offensive.153 Therefore, deterrence would be replaced by preemption, a very unstable international configuration that encourages escalation and arms races.154 Despite these potentially negative consequences, AWS will very likely be an important element of future surrogate warfare. For democracies, the military applications of AI offer the prospect of decreasing the relative burden of warfare on their populations and of reducing the risk to their military personnel. For authoritarian regimes, which tend to have a low level of trust in their people, AI offers “the ability to outsource some elements of military decision-making to algorithms, reducing reliance on humans to fight wars.”155


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The weaponization of AI is truly representing another paradigm shift in the ways wars will be fought. The development of increasing autonomy in weapon systems is very likely to contribute to reinforcing the practice of surrogate warfare. The reason is that unlike previous technological advancements, autonomous weapons no longer act as a force multiplier to the patron but as a surrogate that operates with limited or, possibly in the future, no human control, choosing courses of action from a variety of alternatives based on the machine’s own understanding and assessment of the situation as the AI-powered DeepLocker malware starts to show.156 AWS make warfare even remoter, as the human is further removed from the battlefield and operational decision-making. Thereby, they minimize costs and provide potent capability and capacity while achieving both deniability and discretion. The downside of this delegation, however, is the loss of human control over warfare, as will be discussed in the next chapter.

Conclusion Technology has always been a constituent part of warfare. Nonetheless, technological progress that allows technology to increasingly emancipate itself from human control has only recently emerged, and it presents new opportunities for fighting surrogate warfare in the future. The development of standoff weapons introduced a new technological component of remoteness to warfare, providing the patron with means to observe (drones) and to strike from a distance (PGMs and ballistic missiles). It was not until after 9/11 that remote technology reached a new level, allowing for both the observation and strike capabilities to be combined. Weaponized UAVs opened a new chapter of warfare in which drones can increasingly be used as surrogates. They allow the transfer of the burden of war to the machine, enabling the military commander to spare the infantryman from operational risks while allowing the policymaker to achieve military objectives discreetly and with plausible deniability. With the introduction of smartphones a decade ago, the digitalization of everyday life made instantaneous and constant access to information a reality. Unlike traditional media, social media expands the reach, frequency, permanence, and immediacy of information, narratives, and discourse. The transmission of information has become ubiquitous. By reducing transaction costs, the Internet and social media make it easy and cheap to initiate dialogue with communities around the globe. Insurgent and terrorist groups massively benefited from digital technology. The more these groups “can make the conflict about affinity, identity

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and justice, the greater the advantage for them.”157 In an era of instantaneous and global communication, this is best achieved by promoting powerful narratives targeted at different audiences and amplified by relying on influencers as surrogates. It is these surrogates that counterinsurgents and counterterrorists have to rely on as well in the contest for legitimacy and information supremacy. The virtual cyber domain is predestined to warfare by technological surrogate. Cyberspace is the “only domain which is entirely man-made” and that entirely relies on technology to work.158 Cyberspace is less subject to geopolitical or natural boundaries and is entirely susceptible to human creation and manipulation.159 Cyberspace and its dominant role in the control of critical infrastructure is the perfect illustration of Ulrich Beck’s concept of risk society. The technological dependency of modern societies has indeed created new vulnerabilities by being overly reliant on critical infrastructure whose destruction can lead to the paralysis of an entire country. In a sense, postmodernity has favored the application of decapitation strategies that are aiming at states’ centers of gravity. As mentioned in chapter 2, postmodernity has made our societies more vulnerable not only by increasing the number of critical infrastructure but also by empowering individuals to a level unseen in human history.160 Through the use of technological surrogates in the cyber domain, a single individual can now have a strategic effect that was unthinkable in the past.161 For instance, the quantity and quality of Snowden’s leaks has been exceptional in the history of intelligence and espionage.162 Published on social media and websites such as WikiLeaks, these revelations have generated strategic effects by exposing some of the NSA’s most guarded secrets. The complete story of the leaks’ effects still has to be written, but it has become increasingly apparent that Snowden and WikiLeaks could be considered surrogates of Moscow’s war of influence against the United States.163 The cyber domain has allowed Russia to magnify its practice of political warfare by combining it with traditional military operations. The resulting practice of hybrid warfare offers the advantage of deniability, shielding the patron against international lawsuits, which still require conclusive identification of an individual or a state as perpetrator to establish attribution.164 The cyber domain provides the terrain in which AI can develop. Recent breakthroughs in AI have been made possible by increasing computing power combined with growing availability of data. The more data is generated, the better algorithms can be trained for specific tasks. With a very few exceptions, current weapons are at best semiautonomous, requiring at one point human input in the decisionmaking cycle. However, the increasing civilian research into AI is being transferred into military applications. This new assemblage between the public and private sectors contributes to exploring and achieving novel degrees of autonomy


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in weapons. While new AI-powered AWS create surrogates par excellence, these technological developments do not, however, solve enduring philosophical problems arising from the nature of warfare. As Sarah Kreps and John Kaag observe, “Advanced technology has allowed states to limit the unintended damage of targeted violence, but the ability to undertake more precise, targeted strikes should not be confused with the determination of legal or ethical legitimacy.”165 In other words, although technological platforms, through increased automation and autonomy, allow for better differentiation of potential targets, they do not necessarily make the decision of target engagement easier, as ethical and moral judgment remains—for the time being—a human prerogative. Because the decision to kill should never be arbitrated by technology so as to avoid the disturbing question raised by Christopher Coker of “how much longer will war need us,” the issue of control and autonomy represents a key dilemma of surrogate warfare.166


1. Pape, Bombing to Win, 69; Walker, “Unified Theory of Coercive Air Power.” 2. Walker, “Historiographical Essay.” 3. Sagan and Valentino, “Revisiting Hiroshima in Iran,” 44. 4. Downes, Targeting Civilians in War, 3–4. 5. Schelling, Arms and Influence, 3. 6. Pape, Bombing to Win, 18. 7. Douhet, Command of the Air, 57–58. 8. Rickli, Coercive Use of Air Power, 22. 9. Werrell, Evolution of the Cruise Missile, 60. 10. Kakaes, “From Orville Wright to September 11,” 142. 11. Ehrhard, Air Force UAVs, 28. 12. Kakaes, “From Orville Wright to September 11,” 142. 13. Dobbing and Cole, Israel and the Drone Wars, 9. 14. Faber, “Competing Theories of Air Power.” 15. Warden, “Enemy as a System,” 41–45. 16. Kakaes, “From Orville Wright to September 11.” 17. Pape, Bombing to Win, 110. 18. Barletta, “Chemical Weapons in the Sudan,” 116. 19. Zenko, “Armed Drones and the Hunt for bin Laden.” 20. Hallion, Precision Guided Munitions. 21. See Shaw, New Western Way of War. 22. John H. Cushman, “A Warship’s Eye Scan Gulf Region,” New York Times, December 20, 1987. 23. Friedman, Desert Victory, 231.

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24. Hallion, Precision Guided Munitions. 25. Dobbing and Cole, Israel and the Drone Wars, 9–10. 26. Kakaes, “From Orville Wright to September 11,” 145. 27. Kakes, 153. 28. Roggio, “AQAP Operative Killed.” 29. Mazzetti, Way of the Knife, 266. 30. Cortright, Fairhurst, and Wall, “Assessing the Debate on Drone Warfare,” 3. 31. Johnston, “Security Implications of Drones,” 122. 32. Cortright, Fairhurst, and Wall, “Assessing the Debate on Drone Warfare,” 1. 33. Cortright, Fairhurst, and Wall, 9. 34. See O’Connell, “Seductive Drones.” 35. Chovil, “Air Superiority under 2000 Feet.” 36. Acton, “Cyber Weapons and Precision Guided Munitions,” 45–63. 37. NATO, “Cyber Defense.” 38. Rid and McBurney, “Cyber-Weapons,” 7. 39. A typical example is a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, which involves multiple electronic devices that overload a website server with log-in requests and thereby bring it down. DDoS attacks can be of two types. A semantic DDoS attack uses bugs or features in the software of the target system, whereas a brute-force DDoS attack floods the target system with more Internet traffic than it can handle, rendering it unavailable. 40. See Rid, Cyber War Will Not Take Place. 41. Reed, At the Abyss, 102. 42. Ward, “Israel’s Cyber Shot at Syria.” 43. Falliere, Murchu, and Chien,“W32.Stuxnet Dossier.” 44. Kuschner, “Real Story of Stuxnet.” 45. Joby Warrick, “Iran’s Natanz Nuclear Facility Recovered Quickly from Stuxnet Cyberattack,” Washington Post, February 16, 2011. 46. Thomson, “Snowden: US and Israel.” 47. Albano and Kessem, “Full Shamoon.” 48. Nicole Perlroth and Clifford Krauss, “A Cyberattack in Saudi Arabia Had a Deadly Goal. Experts Fear Another Try,” New York Times, March 15, 2018. 49. “Botnet” combines the words “robot” and “network” and refers to compromised Internet-connected devices such as computers or smartphones known as “bots,” which are remotely controlled by an attacker and become zombie computers. 50. Graff, “Dorm Room Minecraft Scam.” 51. A wiki is a web application that allows people to add, modify, or delete content in a collaborative way, such as in Wikipedia or Wikia. 52. See Kaplan and Haenlein, “Users of the World, Unite!” 53. Al-Suwaidi, From Tribe to Facebook. 54. Statista, “Number of Monthly Active Facebook Users.” 55. United Nations, World Population Prospects.


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56. See Krieg, Socio-Political Order and Security. 57. Shirky, “Political Power of Social Media.” 58. Kello, Virtual Weapon and International Order, 5. 59. Diamond, “Liberation Technology,” 70. 60. Jennifer Preston, “Movement Began with Outrage and a Facebook Page That Gave It an Outlet,” New York Times, February 5, 2011. 61. See Henrotin, Techno-guérilla et guerre hybride, ch. 8; and Rid and Hecker, War 2.0. 62. Metz, “Internet, New Media, and the Evolution of Insurgency,” 85. 63. Metz, 86. 64. Metz, 84. 65. Kilcullen, Insurgency, 185. 66. Betz, “Cyberspace and Insurgency,” 58. 67. Blair, “Battle for Global Values,” 90. 68. See Robb, Brave New War. 69. Metz, “Rethinking Insurgency,” 58. 70. Greg Miller and Scott Higham, “In a Propaganda War against ISIS, the U.S. Tried to Play by the Enemy’s Rules,” Washington Post, May 8, 2015. 71. Berger and Perez, Islamic State’s Diminishing Returns. 72. Metz, “Internet, New Media, and the Evolution of Insurgency,” 83. 73. Boot and Doran, “Political Warfare.” 74. Blank, “Cyber War and Information à la Russe,” 83. 75. Blank, 84. 76. In Blank, 85. 77. Rid and McBurney, “Cyber-Weapons,” 9. 78. Lowe, “Kremlin Loyalist Says.” 79. Blank, “Cyber War and Information à la Russe,” 88. 80. The first use of conventional kinetic force with an offensive cyber operation took place during the assault against the Chechen rebels in the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow in 2012. See Maurer, Cyber Mercenaries, 59. 81. Maurer, 100. 82. Shakarian, “2008 Russian Cyber Campaign,” 64. 83. Clayfield, “Attacks on Cyberspace.” 84. Evans, Operation Armageddon, 3. 85. There is no agreement about the identity of the members of the group. Some argue that they are Ukrainians, former members of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), while others suspect that they are Russian hackers. See Maurer, Cyber Mercenaries, 99. 86. Stone, “Meet CyberBerkut.” 87. Greenberg, “Everything We Know.” 88. Blank, “Cyber War and Information à la Russe,” 92. 89. Greenberg, “How an Entire Nation.” 90. “APT” stands for “advanced persistent threat.” It is worth noting that some argue that both Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear are very likely members of the FSB and GRU. The

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attribution problem of the cyber domain, however, contributes to maintaining a level of uncertainty. See Stone, “Meet Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear.” 91. Guccifer 2.0 claimed to be a Romanian hacker but was later unmasked as being Fancy Bear through an open-source counterintelligence operation unprecedented both in its rapidity and scope. In a matter of days, an army of investigators comprising consultants, journalists, hackers, and former spies was assembled randomly. See Rid, “How Russia Pulled Off.” 92. Over forty-four thousand DNC emails with 17,761 attachments were dumped on WikiLeaks on July 22, 2016, three days before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Eighteen hundred to three thousand private emails to and from Podesta were published incrementally over the last month of the 2016 US presidential campaign, exposing tensions inside the Democratic campaign. See Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger, and Scott Shane, “The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the US,” New York Times, December 13, 2016. 93. These operations potentially involved two types of surrogates, the hackers and those diffusing the information. In the case of the hackers, some argue that both Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear are FSB and GRU units. Thus, an indictment by the United States Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, for the first time officially identified Fancy Bear as two GRU units, Unit 26165 and Unit 74455, in July 2018. See Graff, “Indicting 12 Russian Hackers.” 94. Baumgärtner et al., “Breach from the East.” 95. Shelest, “Hybrid War and Eastern Partnership,” 46. 96. Kaspersen and Rickli, “Global War of Narratives.” 97. Galeotti, “‘Gerasimov Doctrine.’” 98. Blank, “Cyber War and Information à la Russe,” 83. 99. Lyngaas, “NSA Chief Wary of Proxies.” 100. It is estimated, for instance, that 15 to 23 percent of all Twitter accounts out of a global user base of 330 million are bots. See Rid, “Why Twitter Is the Best.” 101. Rid, “Disinformation,” 4. 102. McCarthy et al., “Research Project on Artificial Intelligence.” 103. Legg and Hutter, “Collection of Definitions for Intelligence.” 104. Surber, Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Technology, 4. 105. Chainey, “Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin.” 106. This law is named after Gordon Moore, cofounder of Intel Corporation, who made this observation in 1965. 107. Khoso, “How Much Data.” 108. Gartner, “8.4 Billion Connected ‘Things’ Will Be in Use.” 109. One zettabyte is one thousand exabytes. One exabyte is one thousand petabytes, and one petabyte is one hundred thousand gigabytes. See Mearian, “By 2020, There Will Be.” 110. Machine learning is “the practice of using algorithms to parse data, learn from it and then make a determination or prediction about something in the world.” Learning techniques differ on whether the algorithm is trained with labeled (supervised) or


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unlabeled (unsupervised) data as well as through feedback loops that include or not rewards (reinforced). Copeland, “What Is the Difference?,” and Salian, “SuperVize Me.” 111. Silver et al., “Mastering Chess and Shogi.” 112. Vincent, “Google Uses DeepMind AI.” 113. Metz, “Google’s AlphaGO Levels.” 114. Payne, “Artificial Intelligence,” 9–11. 115. Nonetheless, some companies, such as Google’s DeepMind, are working on developing AGI. See Etherington, “DeepMind Has Yet to Find Out.” 116. Bostrom, Superintelligence, and Kurzweil, Singularity Is Near. 117. Hammes, “Cheap Technology.” 118. Waltzman, Weaponization of Information. 119. In 2015, Baidu, Microsoft, and Google managed to sort millions of images with an error rate of less than 5 percent, which is the typical human error rate. This is all the more remarkable as the best algorithm had an error rate of 28.2 percent in 2010 and went down to 2.7 percent in 2017. See Alex Hern, “Computers Now Better than Human at Recognizing and Sorting Images,” The Guardian, May 13, 2015. 120. Chessen, MADCOM Future. 121. GANs are algorithms used in unsupervised machine learning implemented by a system of two neural networks pitted against each other in a zero-sum game framework. The first research on GAN started in 2014. See Goodfellow, “Generative Adversarial Networks.” 122. Highfield, “Creative Machines Will Be.” 123. Abokhodair, Yoo, and McDonald, “Dissecting a Social Botnet.” 124. Adams, “AI-Powered Social Bots.” 125. Brundage, Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence, 47. 126. Office of Technology Assessment of the German Bundestag, “Social Bots.” 127. Singer, Wired for War; Coker, Warrior Geeks; Barnaby, Automated Battlefield. 128. Maxey, “Legal Limbo Leaves.” 129. Scharre and Horowitz, Introduction to Autonomy, 5–6. 130. Boulanin and Verbruggen, Mapping the Development of Autonomy, 6. 131. Williams, “Defining Autonomy in Systems,” 32. 132. Williams, 33. 133. Defense Science Board, Summer Study on Autonomy, 4. 134. Roff and Moyes, “Autonomy, Robotics and Collective Systems.” See also Group of Governmental Experts, “Examination of Various Dimensions”; International Committee of the Red Cross, Autonomous Weapon Systems; Heintschel, Wolff, and Beruto, International Humanitarian Law; and United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, Framing Discussions on Weaponization. 135. Scharre, Army of None, 54. 136. Scharre, 53. 137. Boulanin and Verbruggen, Mapping the Development of Autonomy, 50. 138. Scharre, Army of None, 108.

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139. Cummings, Artificial Intelligence, 5–6. 140. Scharre, Army of None, 56. 141. Scharre. 142. Stoecklin, “DeepLocker.” 143. Stoecklin. 144. The nEUROn is an experimental stealthy, autonomous unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) developed by an international cooperation led by the French company Dassault. Taranis is a British demonstrator program for stealthy UCAV technology developed by BAE Systems, which first flew in 2013. The X-47B is an experimental drone developed by Northrop Grumman that was the first unmanned aircraft to autonomously take off and land on an aircraft carrier and to autonomously refuel from another plane while in flight. 145. Roff and Moyes, “Autonomy, Robotics and Collective Systems.” 146. For instance, the hourly operational cost of an F-22 aircraft is $68,362, while the hourly cost of operating the Predator drone is “only” $3,679. See Thomson, “Costly Flying Hours.” 147. Maxey, “Legal Limbo Leaves.” 148. See Arquilla and Ronfeldt, Swarming and the Future of Conflict; Edwards, Swarming and Future of Warfare; and Scharre, Robotics on the Battlefield. 149. Scharre, Army of None, 18. 150. United States Department of Defense, “Department of Defense Announces.” 151. Mizokami, “Pentagon’s Autonomous Swarming Drones.” 152. Altman and Sauer, “Autonomous Weapons Systems”; Rickli, “Impact of Artificial Intelligence”; Rickli, “Impact of Autonomous Weapons System.” 153. Rickli, “Impact of Autonomous Weapons Systems,” and Payne, “Artificial Intelligence,” 25. 154. Rickli, “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Warfare”; Ayoub and Kayne, “Strategy in Age of Artificial Intelligence,” 812. 155. Horowitz, “Artificial Intelligence, International Competition.” 156. Osborne, “DeepLocker.” 157. Metz, “Rethinking Insurgency,” 41. 158. Melzer, Cyberwarfare and International Law, 5. 159. Melzer. 160. Rickli, Economic and Security Implications. 161. Wittes and Blum, Future of Violence. 162. Ewen MacAskill, Sam Thielman, and Philip Oltermann “WikiLeaks Publishes Biggest Ever Leak of Secret CIA Documents,” The Guardian, March 7, 2017. 163. Jo Becker, Steven Erlanger, and Eric Schmitt, “How Russia Often Benefits When Julian Assange Reveals the West’s Secrets,” New York Times, August 31, 2016; Graham, “Astonishing Transformation of Julian Assange.” 164. Melzer, Cyberwarfare and International Law, 10–11. 165. Kreps and Kaag, “ Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” 276. 166. Coker, Warrior Geeks, 25.



Patron-Surrogate Relations and the Problem of Control and Autonomy

Organized violence through military action has traditionally been a highly hierarchical operation between a principal and an agent. In the trinitarian conceptualization of civil-military relations, the state delegates the security function to the soldier as its agent. This relationship is hierarchical in nature, granting the agent very little autonomy to maneuver outside political, strategic control. Although Western command philosophy today rejects micromanagement, the soldier as the agent is not granted absolute autonomy on the operational and tactical level. Even the Western concept of “mission command”—that is, the maxim of decentralized execution based on centralized strategic intent—does not fundamentally change that.1 Control of the agent through the principal remains an inherent feature of military operations, whereby control means the actual coordination of agent action through processes and structures. Through a formal and informal institutionalization process, the agent is tied to the state, to the military as an organization, and most importantly to the social context in which he operates. All these forms of institutionalization reduce agent autonomy and constrain agent behavior by either the state, the military organization, or peers.2 Surrogate warfare by definition breaks with this tradition because military action is externalized to an executive agent without any trinitarian ties to the patron. The patron as the principal thereby tries to substitute or supplement the state soldier with an external agent with no or only limited links to the sponsor. A degree of surrogate autonomy is thus intended. Nonetheless, the patron pursuing strategic or operational objectives tries to ensure that the surrogate follows its guidelines and direction. Thus, a degree of patron control is necessary. The consequence is a trade-off between control and autonomy. Patrons seek to maximize control over the surrogate while maintaining a degree of public dissociation. Surrogates, particularly human surrogates, seek to maximize autonomy while ensuring a con-

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stant level of support and assistance. What emerges is a zero-sum game of patron control and surrogate autonomy that determines the volatile nature of surrogacy as a principal-agent relationship. Naomi J. Weinberger differentiates surrogates based on different degrees of substitution and consequent degrees of autonomy, ranging from client to proxy to agent: A client is strategically independent from the patron, a proxy is more dependent but retains a degree of autonomy, and an agent is both strategically and operationally embedded in the patron’s military operation.3 In this book, the term “agent” is used more generally to describe the surrogate as a delegate acting on behalf of the patron. The externalization of the burden of warfare from the patron to the surrogate establishes a principal-agent relationship whereby the loss of control on one side causes the same discomfort as the loss of autonomy on the other side. This chapter will look at autonomy as the freedom from control, realizing, however, that autonomy in surrogate warfare varies depending on the form and category of surrogacy one is looking at. While direct, operational surrogates enjoy very little autonomy, indirect or coincidental, strategic surrogates are almost free from any control by the patron. The coordination and management of surrogate operations against the backdrop of the patron’s intent is a highly delicate task that proves to be the most disadvantageous characteristic of this mode of warfare. Trying to reconcile patron intent and surrogate ambitions often generates transaction costs that could potentially constitute a burden of warfare in itself. When the patron is unable to control the surrogate to achieve the patron’s intent at least partially, the utility of the externalization of the burden of warfare is slim to none.

The Principal-Agent Problem with Human Surrogates The inherent problem of surrogate warfare with human surrogates emerges from the principal-agent dilemma that occurs as soon as one entity, the agent, is entrusted by the other entity, the principal, to execute functions on its behalf. In particular, the agent may be doing so in his best interest, which coincidentally might not be in the best interest of the principal. Thus, the principal-agent dilemma arises from a perfect asymmetry in interests and objectives, coupled with the considerable costs for the principal to monitor and control the agent’s actions.4 From this realization stem three inherent problems for the principal: moral hazard, adverse selection, and “Madison’s dilemma.” Moral hazard refers to the fact that the information asymmetry between principal and agent might cause the agent to act ineffectively or unethically and thereby


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not in the best interest of the principal. The agreed objective will most likely not be achieved sufficiently, causing the principal to get involved to take on the task itself.5 Adverse selection is a phenomenon that again refers to the asymmetrical access of information regarding the agent’s abilities, skills, and capacity required to fulfill the objective according to the principal’s expectations. Owing to adverse selection, the agent is in a position to persuade the principal into delegating the task to the agent despite the latter’s not having the capacity or capability to do so.6 Madison’s dilemma describes a situation in which the resources or authority provided to the agent for the purpose of advancing specific interests of the principal are being abused and in the worst-case scenario turned against the principal’s interests.7 These three phenomena can be observed in surrogate warfare as well. Patrons suffer from an information asymmetry rendering them, first, unable to adequately assess the surrogate’s abilities and, second, supervise and control surrogate activities on the operational and tactical level. Despite a thorough vetting process, a patron might never have full access to the actual capabilities and intentions of the surrogate, potentially causing a major risk when employing him on an operation. Patrons tend to be under resource constraint when trying to vet the surrogate and are consequently unable to adequately assess whether a surrogate is the right partner or not.8 More often than not, surrogates have abused the resources and authority to act on behalf of the patron to achieve their own objectives, sometimes at the expense of patron interests, as will be discussed below. Thus, a patron has to invest in control and monitoring mechanisms that reduce the risk of surrogates diverting from the patron’s agenda. Less autonomy, therefore, means less monitoring and lower agency costs. However, the less autonomy the surrogate has, the more the patron has to invest in using his trinitarian agents, which in turn increases the burden of warfare for the patron. The principal-agent problem that patrons face in surrogate warfare puts patrons into a dilemma that might undermine the whole utility of surrogacy. The reason is that for surrogate warfare to generate positive externalities for the patron, the surrogate needs to retain a sufficient degree of autonomy to actually make any direct relationship between principal and agent plausibly deniable before the domestic, local, and international community.9 At the same time, the patron needs to exercise sufficient control over the surrogate so as to ensure that objectives are achieved with as little negative externalities to the conflict at hand. Striking a balance here becomes difficult and is context-dependent. Considering the complex operating and conflict environment both patron and surrogate find themselves in, “the agents need to be able to make decisions that

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are complex and subtle, and we need to be able to trust them enough that we don’t have to check up on them constantly.”10 Hence, a degree of autonomy is absolutely necessary to be able to let the surrogate exercise the patron’s intent as the delegate sees fit—that is, to allow the surrogate to follow the Western principle of “mission command.” Yet, as Cristiano Castelfranchi and Rino Falcone state, “The more intelligent and autonomous the agent (able to solve problems, to choose between alternatives, to think rationally and to plan) the less quickly and passively ‘obedient’ it is. The probability that the solution or behavior provided does not correspond to what we expect and delegate exactly increases.”11 Castelfranchi and Falcone define principal-agent relations on the basis of a three-level scale of delegation: weak, mild, and strict. All three levels correlate loosely with the three forms of surrogacy defined in chapter 3. Weak delegation refers to the patron’s full exploitation of the surrogate’s completely autonomous actions. Here surrogacy is entirely coincidental. Mild delegation exists when the patron tries to induce a certain behavior with a widely autonomous surrogate, as is the case in indirect surrogacy. Strict delegation refers to direct surrogacy, which is based on an explicit agreement between patron and surrogate. The latter often acts as an operational supplement to an already existing operation whereby the patron embeds the surrogate into his command-and-control system.12 Obviously, the advantages and disadvantages of these three forms of surrogacy are context dependent. A patron might choose strict delegation in cases where there is little confidence and trust of the patron toward the agent’s ambitions and capabilities. Weak delegation might be more advantageous when a direct or indirect relationship between the patron and the surrogate is impossible because of the complete lack of overlapping interests and objectives. The degree of delegation and consequently agent autonomy has an impact on agent compliance with the patron’s strategic guidelines, policies, and doctrine. As patron-surrogate relations, unlike principal-agent relations in a corporate or political environment, are most of the time transactional in nature, the patron can only really influence agent behavior or mission outcome through incentives and coercion—exceptions being cases where patron and surrogate share sectarian, ethnic, or religious identities. In these cases—such as Russia employing Russian-speaking minorities in Crimea or Iran relying on Shia militias in Syria and Iraq—the patron can achieve high degrees of control through transformational means. Loyalty and trust between patron and surrogate here is governed by nonmaterial, normative incentives. It is questionable, however, whether a socialization and institutionalization process similar to that of the citizen as soldier in the armed forces can be replicated within a patron-surrogate relationship. Norms, values, and behav-


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ioral systems are institutionalized over a long period of time through training and education within the regiment and the military organization as extensions of the trinitarian state-soldier relationship.13 More often than not, the transformational impact of sociocultural norms on citizen-soldier behavior cannot be substituted by purely transactional patron-surrogate relations.14 Applied to a corporate context, principal-agent theory usually favors outcomeoriented control mechanisms. However, as Kathleen M. Eisenhardt illustrates, outcome-oriented control mechanisms work only when there is a degree of certainty about the outcome, when principal and agent goals coincide, and when the outcome is somewhat measurable after a relatively short period of time.15 These conditions do not apply to most postmodern warfare scenarios. Therefore, in surrogate warfare, patrons have to invest in behavior-based control mechanisms that require the patron to develop a direct monitor-and-control capability. Incentives are provided up front in terms of financial support, training, or military hardware while the patron embeds its own forces with the surrogate to at least achieve a degree of operational or strategic synergy. Surrogates then operate on a clearly laidout road map where its implementation is supervised by the patron.16 This scenario works particularly well with operational surrogates that are tied to a patron’s command-and-control system through train-and-equip missions executed by SOF embedded with the surrogate. Nonetheless, even under perfect conditions, the embedded SOF are unable to monitor tactical behavior. Trust is needed that the surrogate might achieve at least strategic outcomes even if through autonomous operational and tactical execution. For indirect or coincidental strategic surrogacy, however, the absence of an adequate monitoring and supervising mechanism leaves the surrogate with extensive autonomy and the patron with very little means to control surrogate behavior. Hence, when externalizing the burden of warfare to a surrogate, the patron is left with an additional risk: Although the burden of warfare might be minimized, strategic and operational objectives might not be achieved or, if achieved, only through ineffective, unethical, or illegal means. The surrogate as the agent appears to be in a more comfortable situation. Despite the fact that patron support might come with strings attached, the agent can always retain a degree of autonomy that leaves the patron within a context of information asymmetry. Even the risk of being abandoned by an unreliable patron might be worth the risk considering that patrons in one way or the other engage in positive transactional induction. With little means to control the agent or coerce the agent to follow orders, the patron appears to be in a weaker position than the surrogate.

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Control and Autonomy in Surrogate Warfare While meaningful control means different things in the context of human surrogates and technological surrogates, in both instances the issue of control and autonomy has been at the heart of the debate on the ethics and effectiveness of delegation. Social and sociopsychological drivers seem to suggest that human surrogates are more inclined to actively seek autonomy, whereas technological surrogates appear to be easier to control as the active drive to seek autonomy is absent—at least as long as AI-driven fully autonomous weapons systems are a thing of the future, as this subchapter will demonstrate. Controlling the Human Surrogate The zero-sum nature of the patron’s relationship with the surrogate—namely, the one’s striving for control is the other’s striving for autonomy—generates considerable agency costs. In order to understand these costs for the patron, an understanding of control in warfare is a prerequisite. When autonomy is the freedom from external control, what is “control”? The definition of this term becomes highly relevant as well when talking about the patron’s ethical and legal accountability for surrogate action—as will be discussed in the following chapter. On the strategic level, patrons have few means available to effectively control the surrogate. While patrons can potentially use contractual stipulations to control commercial agents such as PMSCs, contractual arrangements are either absent or not enforceable when patrons are dealing with militia groups or other noncommercial surrogates. Even with contractors, contract enforcement in foreign jurisdictions remains difficult.17 Withholding or threatening to withdraw support is often the only transactional means at the patron’s disposal to induce desired surrogate behavior when dealing with noncommercial agents. Thus, in cases of indirect strategic surrogacy, the patron is left with few means to shape the surrogate’s campaign beyond the agreement of strategic objectives. Operational and tactical behavior remains widely autonomous. Only in cases of direct operational surrogacy, whereby patron SOF embed with the surrogate, can surrogate behavior be shaped on the operational and occasionally tactical level. Here, the legal definition of “effective control” could be the starting point for defining operational and tactical control in warfare. According to article 28(a) of the Rome Statute setting up the International Criminal Court (ICC), a military commander “shall be held criminally responsible for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed


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by forces under his or her effective command and control, or effective authority and control as the case may be, as a result of his or her failure to exercise control proper over such forces.”18 Looking at the term “effective control,” the ICC does not limit control authority to the actual integration of the executive agent, in this case the surrogate, into the command-and-control system of the military in order to grant a commander effective control. Instead, effective control refers to a commandant’s de jure and de facto ability to transactionally induce subordinate behavior. The important factor in this regard is an effective enforcement mechanism holding surrogate troops accountable for deviating from the patron’s preferred operational course of action—a mechanism almost impossible to replicate beyond a military or corporate chain of command. The surrogate, by definition, remains an external agent outside the patron’s chain of command. PMSCs might possibly be the only surrogates that are internally trying to replicate a hierarchical chain of command and enforcement mechanism, at least those registered in the Western world.19 Although transformational influence itself does not establish an effective control relationship in legal terms, influence as a result of personality and not military status nonetheless can allow the patron to exercise degrees of control over the surrogate on the operational and tactical level.20 That is to say, with the patron’s SOF embedded in the surrogate force, potentially executing a train-and-equip mission, the patron has degrees of operational and tactical control that exceed strategic threats to withdraw or withhold support. In the case of the US support for SDF and Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces in northern Syria against ISIS, the SOF liaison team coordinates supplies, has the ability to direct CAS, and provides operational planning support to the surrogate.21 In this case, SOF teams have a considerable operational and tactical leverage over the surrogates, even directing their movements. Yet the patron-surrogate relationship remains a voluntary one, with the SOF team on the ground having little means to punish wrongdoing or to incentivize appropriate behavior beyond the influence of personality.22 Hence, regardless of the proximity of the relationship between patron and surrogate, the surrogate inevitably retains a high degree of flexibility and autonomy from effective patron control. Further, effective control over the surrogate is always dependent on surrogate type: Is it a state or nonstate actor, is it a unitary actor or diverse actor, is it hierarchically organized, or does it display web-like command structures? Particularly when externalizing the burden of warfare to nonstate actors, patrons need to be wary that militias, insurgent, or terrorist groups might not have a clear commandand-control system. Ariel Ahram distinguishes between U- and M-shaped chains

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of command in militia groups. The former are hierarchically structured based on specialization and clearly defined command roles. The latter are more weblike command structures built around a number of territorially specific and selfcontained units. Evidently, M-shaped command structures are far more difficult to control and to hold accountable, as there are dynamics of devolution at play.23 Patrons will find it hard to identify decision-makers who could exercise control over operations on behalf of the patron—difficulties that NATO troops encountered in Kosovo after 1999. As Tim Judah writes about the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), While there was a rudimentary General Staff Headquarters, there was not one supreme commander giving orders. Of those that were issued, some were obeyed, some were ignored; and some groups calling themselves KLA—because that was what everyone else was doing—were really village groups knitted together by clan connections and fear. Everyone knew the local commander, but few knew the leader at the next level up and were unwilling to listen to orders from those they didn’t know.24 While Islamist and jihadist groups in the Middle East that operate locally as insurgent groups are hierarchically structured entities with a clear commandand-control system,25 jihadist outfits that operate as global insurgency organizations with local terrorist franchises are internally divided transnational organizations. They are difficult to infiltrate and promise to be highly unreliable partners for patrons. By definition, terrorist organizations, even when looking for state sponsorship, hold a strong mistrust of state organizations. Jihadist groups in particular value autonomy highly.26 Degrees of control over terrorist organizations, even when they are dependent on state sponsorship, can vary. Few terrorist organizations remain controllable owing to their network-centric setup. Over time even pseudoindependent state-controlled terrorist organizations, of which in the twenty-first century fewer and fewer remain, develop a life of their own, with ideological factors playing an increasing role. These organizations tend to diversify their sponsorship so as not to be reliable on only a single source. A genuine buy-in into the surrogate’s ideological doctrine becomes a factor that plays a more important role for the surrogate than for the patron, who tends to fund the surrogate for political or operational, not ideological, reasons.27 The final chapter of this book highlights the importance of ideology as a transformational means of control based on the case of Iran and its deputies across the region. Finally, using nonstate actors as surrogates creates a problem with the interoperability between the unprofessional, often ideologically motivated volunteer force


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of the surrogate and the professional forces of the patron. The lack of genuine institutional socialization with a state military and the lack of doctrine and logistical expertise leave the surrogate ill prepared for an effective cooperation with the institutions of a state organization. This is another reason for patrons to embed liaison officers in the surrogate force. Their expertise and training can help prepare surrogates for semiautonomous operations.28 However, that does not necessarily make the surrogate more controllable. The SDF units that were built by the United States around the YPG are a case in point: While the US has embedded SOF in the SDF units to enable strategic direction and effective liaison with US Central Command, the SDF is a militia that remains hard to control.29 It is the voluntary nature of patron-surrogate relations that ultimately grant the surrogate the freedom to strive for autonomy. The fact that principal and agent do not necessarily share common values and strategic objectives means that often motivations and intentions of both sides are different—at times even opposed. Although short-term objectives might overlap, the dynamic nature of patron-surrogate relations bear the risk that in the long run these marriages of convenience lose their attraction. Even when patron and surrogate have similar agendas in the beginning, there is a chance that with the conflict evolving both sides will develop separate agendas.30 The lack of effective control on the side of the patron means that the relationship beyond transactional incentives is solely governed by trust. Given that in terms of size, power leverage, and ideology the patron and his delegate might be highly dissimilar, reliability and trust are variables that are hard to define within a strategic and operational environment of uncertainty. If loyalty is purely founded on material transactions, it will be bought by the highest bidder.31 The pool of nonstate surrogates in a conflict tends to be limited, whereas potential patrons might be more readily available—patrons that are desperately seeking ways and means to externalize the burden of conflict. Surrogate warfare often creates suppliers’ markets—that is, a situation whereby a whole host of potential patrons are looking for surrogates who would allow them to shape conflict without incurring the costs of war. Under such circumstances, surrogates have a variety of sponsors to choose from, lowering the conditionality with which patrons offer support or assistance. This in turn decreases the levels of control the patron can exercise over the surrogate, as the latter will feel less coerced or pressured by the patron’s threat to withdraw support. Knowing that the surrogate might have other options, patrons who are eager to secure means to externalize the burden of warfare become dependent on the surrogate—a dependency the surrogate might not have. Throughout the Syrian Civil War, external powers were looking for means to shape events on the ground without getting directly drawn into the conflict.

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Initially, few surrogate forces existed who could choose from a range of patrons. Opposition groups had potential sponsors in the United States, Europe, and the Arab nations of the Persian Gulf, knowing that if one sponsor withdrew its support, others might be willing to step in. This reality made it particularly difficult for patrons willing to support the opposition to exercise transactional control. The Gulf states, most notably Saudi Arabia and Qatar, were, unlike Western states, able to influence surrogate forces with a mix of transactional and transformational engagement. Religious, ideological, and sociocultural ties allowed for the Gulf states to play a more transformational role.32 Since the twentieth century, Western states have had a particular difficulty achieving control over their surrogates through transformational means. Owing to the fact that Western states tend to rely on surrogates with whom they have little in common in terms of ethnicity, religion, or other sectarian identities, Western patrons, unlike Iran, Russia, or African patrons, had only transactional means at their disposal to achieve trust and loyalty. While African states such as Uganda or Rwanda have mobilized rebel groups with whom they share ethnic identities, Western states relied on rebels and secessionist volunteers in Latin America, insurgency groups in the Middle East and Central Asia, and corporate military entities that by definition sell their services in exchange for money. Since Western states, first and foremost the United States, have projected their power across the globe, they often lack a genuine bond with belligerents who are far removed geographically. Looking at US surrogate wars in Afghanistan after 9/11, surrogate loyalty and patron trust become obvious issues. After the Northern Alliance had achieved the objective of regime change in Kabul, it was unwilling to commit to the US war on al-Qaeda. The Afghan tribal leaders’ loyalty had been bought by CIA operatives with millions of dollars, making tribal loyalty in the Northern Alliance a matter of a transactional cost-benefit analysis. For many tribal leaders, al-Qaeda was not an enemy, and waging war against it was not seen as worth the benefits. Ultimately, Osama bin Laden and his close confidants were able to escape in the mountainous terrain of Northern Afghanistan—the surrogate abandoning the patron when the latter was trying to achieve its most critical objective.33 The money that was paid by US SOF and the CIA to Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002—estimated to be in excess of $70 million in total—allowed Afghan warlords to consolidate their local power, shifting the power balance while fueling the illicit drug trade.34 Since in the aftermath of 9/11 money was paid out to surrogates with few or no strings attached, surrogates were able to use funds to primarily further their own agendas. Nonetheless, in surrogate warfare the control-autonomy dilemma is sometimes a reason for concern for surrogates as well. The fear of losing autonomy over


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one’s own agenda owing to a potential attached conditionality of foreign support makes surrogates suspicious of potential patrons. Patrons, as foreign agents, are often seen as advancing their own strategic interests with little regard to the surrogate’s agenda.35 Also, particularly ideologically motivated surrogates might view the foreign patron as a liability, potentially undermining the surrogate’s cause intellectually and ideologically. For Syrian rebel groups since 2011, particularly those in the Islamist camp, proximity to the United States is seen as problematic. Anti-Americanism has been on the rise at least since the Iraq War in 2003. Any support from Washington, even if desperately needed, could be perceived by the local population as becoming a “puppet of Uncle Sam.” An incident in September 2016 illustrates how sensitive patron-surrogate relations can be in Syria: Several US SOF operatives were chased out of a city in northern Syria by rebels allegedly affiliating with the moderate Free Syrian Army.36 In Syria, the source of foreign assistance has had an impact on the insurgency landscape. Competition over assistance has contributed to a factionalization of the Syrian opposition: While money and equipment from the Gulf states was seen favorably, Western assistance was often not. The relatively unitary opposition front in early 2012 quickly disintegrated over the course of a year. Rebel groups were eager to replace unsatisfying sponsorship from the West with a more proactive sponsorship from Gulf patrons who did not attach conditionality to surrogacy.37 It has been shown that the public perception of the patron can cause heterogeneous organizations to disintegrate when hardliners choose to abandon the organization. Internal rifts and rivalries can then be abused by other patrons who leave their mark on the conflict—sometimes at the expense of other patrons.38 Despite minimal agency costs for the surrogate, the control-autonomy dilemma almost predominantly affects the patron. The patron’s lack of sufficient monitoring, oversight, and supervision ability allows the surrogate to overcharge, underperform, or abuse patron support with relatively limited consequences. The private military and security industry has provided the most common human surrogate for Western militaries since the 1990s, and its lack of control, oversight, supervision, and monitoring is a well-documented phenomenon.39 Despite more than a decade of research into the problems of insufficient control mechanisms of this highly diversified industry, little progress has been made to allow patrons to hold PMSCs accountable for misconduct, mismanagement, or ill performance.40 In this situation, the contractor is a hired employee of a PMSC as a locally registered enterprise whose indirect relationship with the patron is managed through actual common-law contracts. In the United Kingdom, patrons have tried to control the commercial market for force through contract governance

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rather than regulation—that is, allowing the government as the principal to meticulously prescribe to the agent the terms of service.41 Nonetheless, this partnership between the public and private sector cannot completely rule out that in complex environments PMSCs might employ ill-trained, underequipped, and unfit contractors. The lack of quality control in the industry has been widely criticized since its boom years in the 2000s when tens of thousands of contractors were operating on Western government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The lack of monitoring and oversight meant that companies would subcontract certain functions to locals with no quality assurance. As retired US Marine Corps colonel Thomas X. Hammes writes, “This lack of control usually means we may get poorly wired buildings, malfunctioning computer systems, and unfinished projects. However, too often, it includes incidents of bullying, abuse, intimidation, and even killing of local civilians such as the DynCorp employee who ran a child sex ring in the Balkans or the September 2007 Blackwater shootings in Nisour Square, Baghdad.”42 In the United States, the DoD has only a few subcontractors hired to supervise and monitor the externalization of military and security services to the commercial industry. Most of these subcontractors are merely concerned with auditing for fraud and bribery—none really monitor contractor performance.43 As private contractors operate in distant places, often without a dedicated military supervisor and with blurred chains of command, their performance as surrogates is not scrutinized. This is also because the recipient of the outsourced service is often not the patron but locals in the operating theater with no voice to provide feedback. As commercial actors, PMSCs are profit-seekers who, when contracting with public patrons, are inclined to distort costs, overcharge, and at times underperform. In the immediate post-9/11 years, the bloated defense budgets of public patrons triggered PMSCs to make their cost estimates what they thought they could get away with.44 While militia and rebel groups as surrogates might not overcharge the patron, they nonetheless can abuse patron support for their own purposes. Funds and weapons intended for the achievement of the patron’s agenda on the ground can be easily diverted to other causes. Most nonstate actors, especially those operating without a hierarchical command-and-control structure, are highly corrupted outfits. Received funds are often used to enrich middlemen and leaders, while few resources trickle down to fighters. As a consequence, the patron’s input in money, training, and hardware might not show on the battlefield. Corruption and wasteful spending are phenomena in surrogate warfare that can be observed in strategic proxy relationships between states as well. US capacity-building efforts in Pakistan, for example, have cost more than $4.5 billion since 2010—much


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of this military aid lost on corruption-supporting activities the patron did not authorize.45 In other cases, institutions of the patron, on the ground to supervise and monitor surrogate activities, are being sucked into corrupt and illicit surrogate activities. Research has shown that particularly US covert warfare using local surrogates has often led to an increase in the production of narcotics in this area of operation. In the cases of Burma in the 1950s, Laos in the 1960s, and Afghanistan in the 1980s, the CIA acquiesced to and supported the surrogates’ narcotics production and trade.46 Money earned through the sale of narcotics was then used by the surrogates to supplement funding received by the patron. More serious than wasteful spending and corruption is the potential of a gradual departure of the surrogate from the patron’s agenda over time. The longer a conflict persists, the more radical insurgent and rebel movements become in their effort to achieve their own interests and objectives. If the patron is unable to provide the surrogate with sufficient funding to achieve the surrogate’s own objectives in the short and medium term, the patron and its agenda might lose credibility, calling for a more radical approach. This has been the case more recently in the Syrian Civil War, in which the opposition has disintegrated and radicalized amid mounting pressure and insufficient and indecisive backing from the international community. The rise of jihadist groups such as Jabat al-Nusra (since 2016 called Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and since 2017 called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) can partially be explained by the unwillingness of the Barack Obama administration to step up its support for its local surrogates.47 New funding streams from sources in the Persian Gulf with ideological links to Islamist and jihadist organizations caused a realignment of many smaller groups that felt that an ideological rebranding might potentially increase their survivability vis-à-vis the Syrian regime and other Islamist or jihadist rebel outfits.48 A similar dynamic can be observed with other ideological actors, particularly those in the extremist jihadist camp: They are looking for new autonomous sources of funding outside the relationship to the principal patron. One such actor is Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), one of Asia’s greatest terrorist organizations. Founded in Afghanistan in 1987 and headquartered in Pakistan, it quickly became a surrogate for the Pakistani intelligence service Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). LeT developed into Pakistan’s main vehicle to exercise influence over Kashmir. Over time, however, new funding streams opened up, tying the organization closer to jihadist networks across the world. LeT became more radical, cooperating with al-Qaeda and other jihadist terrorist organizations and developing into a de facto surrogate for Islamist extremism in South Asia.49 As Gurmeet Kanwal observes, “The civilian rulers of Pakistan have already gone too far with the latitude

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given to the ISI and the Pakistani Army to wage a proxy war against India and are now unable to control the Frankenstein monster.”50 The same observation could be made about the US support for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan throughout the 1980s. Local groups of Islamist resistance and freedom fighters developed increasingly into a loose transnational organization of ideologically motivated extremists that, after the withdrawal of the Soviet Union in 1989, laid the intellectual and logistical foundation for global jihad. While some surrogate organizations might develop into terrorist outfits, others develop into groups that abuse acquired power for criminal activities. Some criminal organizations are even being purposefully used by patrons as surrogate force multipliers against domestic enemies. Apart from committing war crimes—something that will be discussed in more detail in the following chapter—surrogates may exploit their autonomy often in ungoverned spaces to engage in illicit trade of narcotics, arms, humans, and local resources.51 For example, the cross-border activities of the surrogate forces employed by Uganda and Rwanda in the Second Congo War (1998−2002), the MLC and the RCD, respectively, were most decisively shaped by greed. The exploitation of rare minerals in the eastern Congo was a lucrative way to secure alternative funding streams as means to become more independent from their primary patrons.52 As the patron has no means to monitor how the surrogate uses the arms and the money delivered, nonstate actors employed as surrogates have a tendency to develop into local warlords exercising sociopolitical control over territories and people. Depending on the degree of external support, Syrian opposition groups have been able to use money and weapons since 2011 to create sociopolitical entities on the local level that are often governed by military councils that more often than not further their own interests at the expense of the well-being of the local population.53 Illicit and criminal activities generate money, influence, and ultimately sociopolitical power that in the hands of nonstate surrogates undermines government authority and sovereignty. Thus, on the political level, the consequences of the surrogates’ abuse of autonomy fueled by patron support can have a strategic impact. Providing nonstate actors with the resources to increase their power locally means that surrogates will inevitably undermine state-centrism. In the conflicts in the Middle East since the Arab Spring 2011, the employment of surrogates by the West, Iran, Russia, and the Gulf states has contributed to the decay of territorial integrity and sovereignty of Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen—just to name a few. Particularly the support of sectarian surrogates has created scenarios whereby rebel and militia groups today are unwilling to work toward an inclusive sociopolitical solution.54


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Hence, in the long run surrogate warfare, although providing the patron with an effective cost-efficient alternative in the short run, might defeat the strategic interests of those patrons genuinely interested in regional security and stability. First, surrogates become quasi-state entities in which financial autonomy leads eventually to political autonomy in ungoverned spaces where central governments lack the means and funds to exercise their authority. In the post−Arab Spring environment in the Middle East, local militias have created their own courts, public services, administrative apparatuses, and pseudopolitical institutions.55 With their sociopolitical power and status come expectations about their future role in a postconflict environment, particularly when war economies are more lucrative than peacetime stability. In Afghanistan in 1989 after the Russian withdrawal, the mujahedeen had developed into powerful local players who could no longer be controlled by the institutions of the state; on the contrary, they were controlling the state’s security sector locally. Officers would be absorbed by financially more robust and operationally more effective groups.56 Second, surrogate warfare, particularly train-and-equip missions for operational surrogates, lead to the armament of large parts of a war-torn society. Unable to control the flux of small arms, mortars, or shoulder-launched missiles once delivered to the surrogate, patrons indirectly fuel conflicts by making arms readily available that could potentially be resold or proliferated by the surrogate without the authorization of the patron. In Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition, most notably the UAE, has invested in the training and equipment of tribes in the southern and eastern provinces of the country.57 While this surrogate force is supposed, among other things, to bring the fight to jihadist extremists, in a highly complex tribal operating environment vetting tribal fighters and ensuring that weapons provided are not being proliferated to extremists is an ambitious task—particularly when considering that organizations such as al-Qaeda and ISIS are operating across tribal boundaries. In general, the transnational nature of neotrinitarian conflict facilitates the proliferation of arms, equipment, funds, and ideology. With arms and money freely floating to neighboring countries, surrogates are able to export conflicts abroad, as has been the case in the Syrian Civil War. The transnational reach of surrogates from the Syrian opposition and Hezbollah has led to an escalation of violence in neighboring Lebanon.58 Moreover, the increased availability of arms in war-torn countries creates a strategic problem in stabilization and postconflict reconstruction operations. An effective demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration process becomes almost impossible when the populace is polarized and armed.59 Third, while surrogate warfare can provide operational, military solutions to conflicts, it can potentially undermine strategic, political processes. The reliance

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on particular sectarian groups and militias in complex civil war−like scenarios leads to the enfranchisement of exclusive stakeholders who, by making considerable sacrifices for potentially powerful external patrons, become indispensable. These operationally indispensable partners put pressure on the patron to play a role in the postconflict stabilization and nation-building process. In polarized conflicts, the patron’s externalization of the burden of warfare to a single party to the conflict can potentially preclude an inclusive political process, as the example of Libya shows.60 When ISIS was on the rise in Libya in November 2014, France and the United Kingdom were looking for a potent partner that could be trained and equipped to bring the fight to the jihadists. Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) was identified as a capable surrogate to contain the spread of ISIS in the country. Supported by SOF from the UAE and Jordan, French and UK SOF set up a base in eastern Libya to provide operational support to Haftar’s troops.61 While the French and the British government supported the political process in support of the UN-backed unity government in Tripoli, the decision of their respective ministries of defense to militarily empower Haftar’s LNA as a surrogate undermined this strategic process. The reason is that Haftar refuses to recognize the unity government. Hence, the operational reliance on Haftar in the fight against ISIS makes him a military partner but a political opponent, undermining an inclusive political solution in Libya. Having absorbed much of the Western burden of warfare in Libya, Haftar will insist on a disproportionate share in the process to rebuild Libya—something that will render a comprehensive, inclusive political process impossible in the meantime. Controlling the Technological Surrogate The issue of autonomy and control is a common feature in the debate about technological surrogates as well and maybe even more so with the potential rise of AWS. While, as the previous chapter illustrates, technology has always been a force multiplier throughout history, it is only in the twentieth century that technological advances have enabled the development of increasing numbers of stand-alone platforms with varying degrees of automation, not just supporting the infantryman on the battlefield but often replacing him or her. Since the V-1 flying bomb developed by Nazi Germany in World War II, technological platforms used in war have achieved increasing levels of automation, with some now exhibiting or close to acquiring autonomous characteristics, which allow them to change behaviors without human input in response to events that are unforeseen.62 The three levels of delegation discussed earlier in reference to the human sur-


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rogate might still apply to autonomous weapons as technological surrogates. For the sake of our discussion in this chapter, we will limit our focus on the commandand-control relationship between the patron—that is, the human—and the machine. Most precision-guided munitions and cruise missiles are operated with a relatively weak form of delegation. More complex weapon systems such as Israel’s Iron Dome, which can autonomously acquire and destroy incoming missiles, are operated with a milder form of delegation. Yet it is the strong form of delegation from the patron to the technological surrogate in AWS that this section focuses on because these will very likely define the future of surrogate warfare. It is worth noting that it is also useful to keep in mind the type of functions that are made autonomous within a system as not all autonomous subfunctions will have the same consequences for the patron-technological surrogate relationship. In regard to robotics and unmanned platforms as lethal AWS, the degree of autonomy is generally defined based on the “human-in-the-loop-test,” which determines to what degree the weapon system can act outside of human control. This three-tier categorization differentiates between “in-the-loop,” “on-the-loop,” and “out-of-the-loop,” depending on how deeply the human operator—namely, the patron—exercises control over the platforms’ decision-making processes.63 So far, the autonomy of weapon systems employed in combat has mostly been limited to in-the-loop platforms, where robots such as drones target and deliver force under tight human direction. On-the-loop platforms, where the robot can select targets and deliver force under the oversight of the patron’s command, are in use in a defensive capacity, such as the American-made Phalanx system aboard naval ships and Patriot system and Israel’s Iron Dome. These platforms can detect and destroy incoming missiles automatically but in order to be activated require a human operator.64 Drones employed in combat today as in-the-loop robotics still rely on a decision-making process that is entirely reliant on human judgment.65 Consequently, the responsibility for human death caused by drones lies with the drone operator and the chain of command. The fact that both the patron’s chain of command and the operator are geographically removed from the area of operation absolves neither the operator nor his superiors of legal and moral responsibilities.66 The reason is that despite the fact that in present operational weapon systems algorithms facilitate the entire cycle of the “kill chain” of intelligence gathering, surveillance, target acquisition, and target engagement,67 the human retains meaningful control of the platform. The concept of meaningful human control applied to lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) is indeed one of the only consensuses reached in the UN

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Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (UNCCW) conference so far. States seem to agree that it would be unacceptable to have no human involvement in the decision to use lethal force, be it on the selection or the engagement of the targets.68 The concrete application of the principle, however, entails both conceptual and practical problems. Humans perform three kinds of roles with respect to target selection and engagement.69 They act as essential operator by operating the weapons. They act as moral agents by providing value-based judgments, and they act as a fail-safe in case of changing conditions that make the engagement no longer appropriate. Improvements in machine intelligence will probably be able to substitute the operator function. However, value-based moral decisions and the fail-safe function will be more difficult to substitute. This is because these two functions involve the highest risks for human life and require not only rulebased but also cognitive reasoning in the form of knowledge-based behaviors and professional expertise based on judgment, intuition, and situational awareness.70 When it comes to surrogate warfare by machine, meaningful human control requires the existence of a process to ensure that operators and commanders are held legally and morally accountable for any effect delivered by the technological surrogate in accordance with the law of armed conflict (LOAC).71 That is to say, for the establishment of meaningful human control, the human needs to be within the wider loop of decision-making so that he can be prosecuted for the effects delivered under his command and direction by the technological surrogate. However, recent examples of in-the-loop systems relying on algorithms for filtering information raise the issue of the role of human agency. The US Air Force, for instance, with the support of Google, introduced in April 2017 an algorithm to automate the identification of objects from video feeds. Project Maven started with video footage of small tactical drones such as the ScanEagle, but the goal is to equip larger operational drones such as the Predator and Reaper.72 Just a year after its launch due to its rapid success, the Maven algorithm has been used in half a dozen locations in the Middle East and Africa.73 Once mounted onto a combat drone and the algorithm has been given a wider spectrum of identification—currently the algorithm provides only about 80 percent input—the human operator’s decision to kill would be entirely made on the basis of the identification inputs provided by the algorithm. The human in the loop would trust the algorithm to make decisions flawlessly. Yet, in June 2018, due to pressures from its employees to not develop military applications, Google announced that it would not renew its contract with the US DoD due to expire in 2019.74 Even more demanding assumptions relate to out-of-the-loop platforms that require sophisticated algorithms to make the highly morally weighted decisions


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of proportionality, distinction, and military necessity on behalf of the human operator and without his ability to overwrite them. As mentioned in the previous chapter, some weapons, such as the British dual-mode Brimstone guided missile and the Israeli Harpy loitering weapon, exhibit some characteristics of such out-of-the-loop platforms. These weapons open a Pandora’s box of increasingly autonomous weapons systems that can kill. While AI and robotics are primarily developed by and used in the private sector, these technologies find their ways into the military realm. As driverless cars are being tested, unmanned aerial, ground, and maritime vehicles are being developed that do not merely launch and land autonomously but potentially assume increased control over the human monopoly on judgment and decision-making. By allowing for the externalizing of the burden of warfare to the machine, these potential technological surrogates enable patrons to externalize the moral and legal judgment of when and how to use force to AI—algorithms that already today can emulate and outperform human analytical (and maybe in the future cognitive) processes in specific narrow fields, in both quality and quantity of processes over time. The argument goes that rational assessments can be made faster and more accurately, possibly even more cost-effectively, by the algorithm than by the human brain. Not driven by emotions and thus considered to be more “rational,” these AWS would be more resilient in case of battle-related stress than the human soldier they intend to replace.75 Nonetheless, the lack of emotions might not necessarily be an argument in favor of AWS, as it is this very human attribute that often leads to restraint and respect for human life.76 Therefore, some, such as Bradley J. Strawser and Wendell Wallach, argue that without a human consciousness and emotions, autonomous platforms should not be entrusted with the responsibility to decide about human life or death, even if the platform’s decision-making becomes more autonomous.77 Instead, the human patron should maintain effective control of the technological surrogate by integrating AWS into the chains of command under the direction and instruction of a commander who, by exercising direct oversight, retains moral and legal responsibility for the actions of LAWS.78 Similar to human surrogates, the technological surrogate’s autonomy in theory would need to be curtailed by providing the patron’s commander with the tools to exercise effective control over the technological surrogate.79 This is where the paradox lies, as the return of the patron’s control would defeat the purpose of the fully autonomous weapons, which is to be autonomous. Analogous to subordinate soldiers in the chain of command, the technological surrogate operates under the command responsibility of the superior patron

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commander who should be able to effectively prevent the autonomous weapon system from committing violations of the LOAC.80 Patron control, then, has to be effective to the extent that the speed of the AI decision-making does not outperform the commander’s ability to overwrite these decisions.81 In essence, this would render out-of-the-loop platforms incompatible with effective patron control, limiting the range of technological surrogates to semi- or supervised AWS where the human remains either in or on the loop. Control and autonomy are equally important in cyber weapons. Viruses, worms, and other malware engineered to be launched against specific strategic, operational, or tactical targets are the twenty-first century’s version of a “fire-andforget” weapon, achieving disruption not through kinetic violence but by undermining critical network infrastructure or functions. Yet contemporary cyber platforms more resemble automated weapon systems than autonomous ones. Cyber weapons such as Stuxnet are nonrecallable malware in which various courses of action have been precoded, thereby making them analogous to a homing missile. However, looking forward, automated cyber weapons, notably through the use of deep neural networks such as DeepLocker, will increasingly become more autonomous. For Mike Walker, program manager in charge of the Cyber Grand Challenge of the DoD’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), “true autonomy in the cyber domain are systems that can create their own knowledge.”82 During DARPA’s competition in 2016, automated cyber tools for the first time autonomously developed patches—namely, programming updates that could have disruptive effects against bug fixes exploiting cyber vulnerabilities in the era of network-centric warfare and the IoT.83 The appeal of cyber warfare employing malware as a technological surrogate lies in the anonymity of the Internet, whereby “innocent” systems can be utilized as hosts for malicious cyber activities, making it impossible to conclusively attribute the technological surrogate to the patron.84 While the cloak of anonymity provides the patron with an advantage of plausible deniability, it also deprives the patron of control over a potentially self-learning and self-replicating malware that assumes a life of its own.85 Similar to a biological virus, control over the technological surrogate is lost once released. Stuxnet infected over a hundred thousand hosts in 155 countries as the “worm” escaped into the wild, although collateral damage was only minimal because Stuxnet was designed to infect and destroy only command systems.86 On the other hand, the April 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack, which exploited an NSA-identified vulnerability whose details were stolen and released by the hacker group the Shadow Broker, spread to more than 150 countries worldwide.87 Because of its very fast rate of infection, WannaCry was a


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ransomworm that paralyzed large organizations and companies, such as the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, Renault in France, and Telefóonica in Spain.88 A month later, the NotPetya wiper malware, which was also allegedly developed by a Russian hacker group known as Sandworm or Telebots, targeted Ukraine with the aim of destroying files and paralyzing the economy.89 It spread to several countries and infected numerous companies, such as the Dutch delivery firm TNT and the Danish shipping giant Maersk. This attack is estimated to have cost companies more than $1.2 billion.90 The cases above illustrate that cyber weapons, like biological weapons, can spread and if not carefully engineered with the intention to minimize collateral damage could potentially infect and destroy critical infrastructure. This is a key difference from drones and robotic systems, which cannot self-replicate. However, unlike biological viruses, malware for now cannot mutate, as they are static. In the future, however, malware with a complex algorithmic learning ability could become a vector in the form of swarmbots or “hivenet”91—a self-learning swarm of compromised devices—likely to spread to and disrupt civilian and military critical networks, infrastructure, and functions.92 Evading human control and judgment, the “choices” made by such technological surrogates would be difficult to anticipate by the patron.93 As Paul D. Scharre observes, “Adaptive malware that could rewrite itself to hide and avoid scrutiny at superhuman speed could be incredibly virulent, spreading and mutating like a biological virus without any form of human control.”94 An area in cyber security that is controversial but attracts a lot of attention is “hacking back,” which pertains to responding to a cyberattack by counterattacking. This area is shrouded with secrecy, and very little information is available. Edward Snowden in an interview with Wired magazine alluded to the fact that the NSA’s MonsterMind program is building an algorithm that could autonomously retaliate in case of an attack against the United States.95 Although it is impossible to confirm that the NSA is building this algorithm, the simple fact that people talk about it means that people think about it. As a matter of fact, Bob Work, former US deputy secretary of defense and the driving force behind the Pentagon’s Third Offset Strategy,96 acknowledged that “the narrow cases where we will allow the machine to make targeting decisions is in defensive cases. . . . We will allow the machine to make essential decisions . . . like a cyber counter attack.”97 Automated hacking back, a true surrogate, would delegate the retaliatory decision to an autonomous system. This is highly problematic, however, because cyber decisions are made in milliseconds and consequently “automated hacking back could cause a flash cyberwar that rapidly spirals out of control.”98

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The malware could also become a liability when reverse-engineered and redirected toward patron networks, as was the case with Shamoon, a malware that was inspired by the Stuxnet, Flame, Duqu, and Wiper malware attacks against Iran and that Iran allegedly released against the Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco.99 Although less disruptive than Stuxnet, Shamoon showed that codes could be isolated and reengineered to retaliate.100 Similar to human surrogates, the technological surrogate, especially in the cyber domain, can be “won over” through hacking and used by another patron for another purpose. A kill switch—a safety mechanism used to shut off machinery in an emergency—is built into most systems to stop them if they go rogue. For instance, the spread of the WannaCry ransomware could be stopped by the accidental discovery of a kill switch, a specific URL that WannaCry had to check.101 However, any software-based kill switch is susceptible to hacking and thus could generate the same kind of unintended consequences as the hacking-back scenario.102 Hence, both lethal AWS and nonlethal automated cyber weapons can potentially evade human control. Putting the human back into the loop might be a noble ambition when designing technological platforms and planning their deployment, but it is one that often fails to account for the realities of network-based systems. First, both UAVs and malware require stable and secured network links to carry the surrogate to the target.103 Network links can be disrupted, cutting the human operator out of the loop. As illustrated by the case of the US RQ-170 stealth drone, which was intercepted and captured by Iran in 2011, network-based systems are vulnerable to external disruption.104 Second, the human operator requires the ability to exercise effective control over the technological surrogate whose AI-driven performance most likely exceeds human-level performance. As Sun Tzu observed, “speed is the essence of war,” but humans cannot compete with machine speed.105 The human in or on the loop requires the ability to anticipate and understand the technological surrogate’s action before it occurs and the ability to intervene—abilities that are undermined by the processing speed of AI as well as the complexity of its decision-making.106 Since AI has been introduced in stock trading, human traders have consistently been outperformed by high-frequency trading algorithms because the latter decide at 1/1,000 of a second, compared to a human trader who requires at best half a second for a decision. Moreover, flash crashes illustrate the fact that a machine can have a logic of its own, based on probabilistic reasoning that evades human understanding. Although kill switches are used to stop flash crashes, there is no equivalent in war.107 As a consequence, the technological surrogate will in the long run develop into


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an ever more intelligent platform that could exhibit man-machine interactions, such as brain-computer interfaces, before reaching a point of strong AI. Until AGI is reached, it will not actively be seeking autonomy by itself and be conscious. Although this scenario might be a distant future, in the meantime, however, the technological surrogate will be equipped with the necessary autonomy so as to be able to make complex decisions and judgments remotely. The risk of unexpected or unintended harmful action committed by AWS appears to be real—in particular whenever more platforms are being deployed without human operators. This is the concern and the motivation behind the global Campaign to Stop Killer Robots launched in April 2013.108 The concern over such weapon systems being developed in the shadows of public attention has also affected state agendas, as the debates within the framework of the UNCCW conference have highlighted since 2014. With a multiplied command responsibility and limited cognitive and technological means to overwrite the decision-making of LAWS, autonomous robotic systems and cyber weapons can develop into rogue platforms, potentially generating destructive effects on the strategic level. Recent research in adversarial AI have demonstrated that by manipulating only a few pixels in a picture, the algorithm can completely change its interpretation of the picture and classify it in a completely different category, while the human eye might not notice such a change. The most worrying aspect here is that such changes unperceivable by humans have universal applications and similar effects across all algorithms.109 Although AI can currently outcompete human beings in very narrow and specific fields, it can also be fooled very easily, as the example above demonstrates. This offers worrying prospects where weapons relying on AI might crash or go wrong. It follows that a single effect delivered autonomously by a UAV or a malware against the commander’s intention could undermine the strategic objectives of an entire operation. A rogue autonomous UAV delivering disruptive, lethal effects on civilians against the commander’s intention could lead to strategic failure in a population-centric operation. A rogue autonomous malware delivering disruptive effects on a critical civilian network in a megacity against the commander’s intention could have equally extensive consequences for human security in the area. The discussion in this chapter has focused on autonomous technologies currently available that rely on weak AI. However, as AGI is also being researched by some companies, the prospect of it being able to compete in the future with the cognitive abilities of the human brain provides reasons for concern. In the words of Bob Work, “If we are relatively certain that there are no friendlies in the area: weapons free: let the weapon decide” because they are still “narrow AI systems. . . . The danger is if you get a general AI system and it can rewrite its own code. . . .

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We will be extremely careful in trying to put general AI into an autonomous weapons.”110 However, as these moral concerns might not be universally shared, the likelihood of AGI, if it ever materializes, being developed and mounted on weapon platforms will be high. Short of AGI, however, the ease with which current AI technology can proliferate to rogue state and nonstate actors should also give real reason for concern.111 In the words of the IBM researchers who developed DeepLocker, what makes this AI-powered malware particularly dangerous is that “like nation-state malware, it could infect millions of systems without being detected. But, unlike nation-state malware, it is feasible in the civilian and commercial realms.”112

Conclusion The quest for control of what should inherently be an autonomous agent is at the heart of surrogate warfare. The fact that the patron wants a degree of dissociation from the surrogate’s actions in order to maintain plausible deniability and discretion in front of international, domestic, and local audiences means that the patron most commonly has to surrender direct control, especially over the human surrogate. Western concepts of mission command provide a blueprint for how command and control can be maintained, despite delegation of authority to subordinates. The difference is that the institutionalization of behavior, norms, and culture over an extended period within a single military organization can generate a unity of effort in the context of what some might describe as “earned” autonomy for subordinates. Key to effective control by personality in the military context appears to be a level of transformational trust, which enables a bond between patron and surrogate to develop that makes transactional control redundant. In the context of human surrogate war, the transformative nature of patron-surrogate relations based on trust, common values, or ideology might be the most significant ingredient for successful patron control. Iran’s transformational integration of its human surrogates into its “Islamic Revolution” is a good example here that will be discussed in chapter 7. On the contrary, a purely transactional patron-surrogate relationship might not generate the levels of control and compliance the patron envisages. For in a highly dynamic strategic and operational environment, the transactional costs of loyalty are fluctuating, exposing the human surrogate to the transactional power of the highest bidder. In the case of the technological surrogate, the machine cannot “demand”—


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at least until AGI is reached—autonomy. Autonomy is currently built in some weapons’ functions so as to avoid overburdening the human operator. Nonetheless, controlling the technological surrogate is an important part of the debate on the future of AWS. Here again it is important to find an equilibrium between a degree of control to ensure that the machine complies with strategic, operational, and tactical directives and a degree of autonomy that enables the machine to perform its missions on the battlefield more accurately and rapidly than humans—an equilibrium that will become increasingly hard to set as the growing complexity of artificial intelligence processes makes it more and more difficult for the human to overwrite machine actions before they happen. Ultimately the trade-off between autonomy and control should be at the core of the debate on the utility of human and technological surrogate warfare. In both instances, the surrender of control to a surrogate who or which might act with more precision, speed, awareness, and knowledge of the context bears the risks of the patron ultimately losing its ability to interfere with what might increasingly become someone else’s war.


1. British Army, Army Doctrine Publication Operations, 6.11. 2. Krieg, Commercializing Cosmopolitan Security, 196. 3. Weinberger, Syrian Intervention in Lebanon, 17. 4. Mitnick, “Agency Theory,” 12. 5. Mitnick, 12–15. 6. Shapiro, “Agency Theory,” 281. 7. Kiewiet and McCubbins, Logic of Delegation, 25. 8. Schaub and Kelty, “From Making to Buying,” 25. 9. Aulakh and Gencturk, “International Principal–Agent Relationships,” 534. 10. Ousterhout, “Mobile Agents.” 11. Castelfranchi and Falcone, “Towards a Theory of Delegation,” 143. 12. Castelfranchi and Falcone, 147. 13. See Krieg, “Beyond the Trinitarian Institutionalization.” 14. Schaub and Kelty, “From Making to Buying,” 6. 15. Eisenhardt, “Agency Theory,” 62. 16. Aulakh and Gencturk, “International Principal–Agent Relationships,” 527. 17. Schaub and Kelty, “From Making to Buying,” 27. 18. United Nations General Assembly, Rome Statute. 19. Krieg, Commercializing Cosmopolitan Security, 188. 20. Bart, “Special Operations Forces and Responsibility,” 520.

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21. Nazeer Rida, “Europe and the US Participate in Attack on Raqqa,” Alsharq Al-Awsat, November 8, 2016, 22. Bart, “Special Operation Forces and Responsibility,” 523. 23. Ahram, Proxy Warriors, 12–14. 24. Judah, Kosovo, 147. 25. Krieg, Socio-Political Order and Security; see ch. 7. 26. Bale, “Terrorists as State Proxies,” 14. 27. Bale, 17. 28. Day, “Implications of Surrogate Warfare,” 11. 29. Humud, Blanchard, and Nikitin, Armed Conflict in Syria. 30. Salehyan, “Delegation of War,” 495. 31. Hughes, My Enemy’s Enemy, 47. 32. See Phillipps, “Eyes Bigger than Stomachs.” 33. Andres, Wills, and Griffith, “Winning with Allies,” 147. 34. McCoy, “Costs of Covert Warfare,” 235. 35. Salehyan, “Delegation of War,” 506. 36. Rob Crilly, “US Troops Forced out of Syrian Town by Anti-Assad Rebels,” The Independent, September 16, 2016, -east/syria-war-us-special-forces-chased-town-rebels-free-syrian-army-a7311666.html. 37. Lister, “Free Syrian Army,” 9. 38. Hughes, My Enemy’s Enemy, 39. 39. Brauer, “Private Military Companies”; Hammes, “Private Contractors in Conflict Zones”; Isenberg, Shadow Force, 20–33; Krahmann, “Private Military Services”; Lehnardt, “Individual Liability of Private Military Personnel”; Terry, “Privatizing Defense Support Operations”; Wagner, “Second Largest Force.” 40. Fabre, “In Defence of Mercenarism.” 41. Krahmann, “Private Military Services.” 42. Hammes, “Private Contractors in Conflict Zones,” 30. 43. Dickinson, Outsourcing War and Peace, 85. 44. Singer, Corporate Warriors, 153. 45. Boyle, “Costs and Consequences of Drone Warfare,” 14. 46. See McCoy, “Costs of Covert Warfare.” 47. Lister, “Free Syrian Army,” 1. 48. Philipps, “Eyes Bigger than Stomachs.” 49. Mumford, Proxy Warfare, 56. 50. Kanwal, “Proxy War in Kashmir,” 77. 51. Hughes, My Enemy’s Enemy, 47. 52. Boas and Dunn, “African Guerrilla Politics,” 11. 53. Krieg, Socio-Political Order and Security, ch. 8. 54. Day, “Implications of Surrogate Warfare,” 9. 55. Heller, “Keeping the Lights On.”


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56. Giustozzi, “Auxiliary Irregular Forces,” 94. 57. Maclean, Browning, and Bayoumy, “Yemen Counter-Terrorism Mission.” 58. Hughes, “Syria and the Perils of Proxy Warfare,” 530. 59. Mumford, Proxy Warfare, 60. 60. Anas Al Gomati (Libyan-based analyst), interview with Andreas Krieg, November 14, 2016. 61. El-Bar, “UK Troops.” 62. Watson and Scheidt, “Autonomous System.” 63. See Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC), Losing Humanity. 64. Hall, “5 Weapons That Don’t Need a Human.” 65. Boyle, “Legal and Ethical Implications,” 112. 66. International Committee of the Red Cross, International Humanitarian Law, 39–40; Whetham, “Killer Drones,” 26. 67. See Krishnan, Killer Robots; Singer, Wired for War, 382; and Roff, “Strategic Robot Problem,” 212. 68. International Committee of the Red Cross, Statement of the International Committee. 69. Scharre and Sayler, Autonomous Weapons and Human Control, 3. 70. Cummings, Artificial Intelligence, 5–6. 71. Group of Governmental Experts, Examination of Various Dimensions. 72. Weisgerber, “Pentagon’s New Artificial Intelligence.” 73. McLeary, “Pentagon’s Big AI Program.” 74. Conger, “Google Plans Not to Renew Its Contract.” 75. Mayer, “Developing Autonomous Systems,” 67. 76. Mayer. 77. See Strawser, “Introduction: Moral Landscape”; and Wallach, “Toward a Ban.” 78. See Defence Science Board, Summer Study on Autonomy. 79. See Schulzke, “Autonomous Weapons and Distributed Responsibility.” 80. Human Rights Watch (HRW), “Mind the Gap,” 20. 81. HRW, 63. 82. Quoted in Scharre, Army of None, 219. 83. Healey, “Stuxnet and the Dawn of Algorithmic Warfare.” 84. Graham, “Cyber Threats and Law of War,” 97. 85. Lindsay, “Stuxnet and Limits of Cyber Warfare,” 399. 86. Valeriano and Maness, “Stuxnet, Shamoon, and Bronze Soldier,” 155. 87. Kennedy, “Impact of WannaCry.” 88. Alex Hern, “WannaCry, Petya, NotPetya: How Ransomware Hit the Big Time in 2017,” The Guardian, December 30, 2017, /dec/30/wannacry-petya-notpetya-ransomware. 89. Greenberg, “White House Blames Russia.” 90. BBC, “UK and US Blane Russia.”

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91. Manky, “Rise of the ‘Hivenet.’” 92. Schmitt and Thurnher, “‘Out of the Loop,’” 250. 93. Blum, Lewis, and Modirzadeh, “Accountability for Algorithmic Autonomy.” 94. Scharre, Army of None, 226. 95. Zetter, “Meet MonsterMind.” 96. The Third Offset Strategy was an effort under the Obama administration “to focus DoD’s innovation efforts on preserving and revitalizing its conventional deterrence capability by adapting to the countermeasures to key U.S. capabilities that near-peer competitor have built in recent years,” relying widely on commercial technologies. Hicks, Assessing the Third Offset Strategy, 2. 97. Quoted in Scharre, Army of None, 228. 98. Scharre, 224. 99. Zetter, “NSA Acknowledges What We All Feared.” 100. Valeriano and Maness, “Stuxnet, Shamoon, and Bronze Soldier,” 154. 101. Newman, “How an Accidental Kill Switch.” 102. Scharre, Army of None, 230. 103. Tyugu, “Command and Control of Cyber Weapons,” 324. 104. Greg Jaffe and Thomas Erdbrink, “Iran Says It Downed U.S. Stealth Drone; Pentagon Acknowledges Aircraft Downing,” Washington Post, December 4, 2011, https://www -pentagon-acknowledges-aircraft-downing/2011/12/04/gIQAyxa8TO_story.html. 105. Scharre, Army of None, 229. 106. Tyugu, “Command and Control of Cyber Weapons,” 334. 107. Scharre, Army of None, 229. 108. See Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, 109. Moosavi-Dezfooli et al., “Analysis of Universal Adversarial Perturbation.” 110. Quoted in Scharre, Army of None, 97–99. 111. Taddeo and Floridi, “Regulate Artificial Intelligence.” 112. Stoecklin, “DeepLocker.”



Toward a Just Surrogate War

Is there such a thing as a bellum justum, or a just war? This question has preoccupied philosophers and theorists of war since antiquity. Considering that warfare is about the management of violence and the application of brute force, war as a means to conduct policy has long been deemed morally reprehensible. Yet as far back as the Noahide Laws, war has been a human activity within the limits of morality and law. The realization that war at times is inevitable meant that philosophy and religion inspired a normative tradition confining the righteous conduct of warfare. The just war tradition therefore expresses our best moral thinking about how war ought to be conducted.1 The normative ambition to make war righteous, which pacifists might reject as an illusionary myth, is founded on a realist belief that war as a consequence of a social Darwinism might not be preventable.2 In the twenty-first century, when legitimacy has become a key factor particularly in Western warfare, the just war tradition might be more relevant than ever before—even when breaches of the underlying moral and legal principles are still frequent. The idea of a bellum justum in times of mediatized war performs an essential function for those attempting to fight wars from a moral high ground. As Alex J. Bellamy notes, “Without ethical and legal constraints on both the decision to wage it . . . and its conduct . . . war is nothing more than the application of brute force, logically indistinguishable from mass murder.”3 Today the sociopolitical consensus even in the developing world that war should not be limitless has created new pressures on policymakers to at least appear moral and just in their application of force. The management of violence, even by authoritarian leaders such as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, has to at least appear morally justifiable amid global public scrutiny. Cicero’s aphorism silent enim leges inter arma—loosely translated as “in time of war the law is silent”4—might no longer

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be applicable to the contemporary moral discourse over warfare and violence. The norm of limited warfare applies not only to the funds and resources committed to the management of violence but also to the proportionality of effects violence has on troops, civilians, and civilian infrastructure in the theater. Long gone are the times when “all is fair in love and war.” Stemming from the nineteenth-century idea of war as the ultimate clash of national wills over matters of communal survival, Clausewitz and his peers perceived warfare as an act of violence that could in theory have no limits. He makes a case for the maximization of force in On War, stating that “if one side uses force without compunction, undeterred by the bloodshed it involves, while the other side refrains, the first will gain the upper hand.”5 Also Georg Hegel, an advocate of rationality, could only see war as a duel on a massive scale whereby, in his famous master-slave dialectic, one either dies with honor or subjects to the mastery of the winner. The existential nature of warfare had to prompt the employment of all means to achieve total victory—everything goes.6 Michael Walzer puts this view into a postmodern perspective. War in the late twentieth century no longer justified total destruction. As Walzer observes, war is no longer judged by the operational maneuvers made on the battlefield but by the conventions, practices, and institutions one abides by when managing violence.7 Victory at all costs can no longer be claimed as a victory, as it undermines legitimacy. Despite the fact that war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide are probably just as widespread as they have been throughout history, there nonetheless seems to be a consensus that UN member states should adhere to the laws of armed conflict. War crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide remain severe taints on a belligerent’s reputation even in times of “Islamic State” barbarism. Some might say that surrogate warfare could help potential patrons to externalize not just the burden of warfare but with it also possible war crimes.8 This chapter will shed light on the moral and legal implications of the externalization of the burden of warfare to surrogates. Surrogate warfare in times of neotrinitarian war is far removed from the “total war” idea of Clausewitz and requires a strict adherence of the surrogate to the just war tradition in order to avoid generating an additional burden on the patron. The reason is that when surrogates fail to comply with the moral and legal principles that constitute a just war, they can potentially disrupt the patron-surrogate relationship, as misconduct can negatively reflect on the patron’s reputation and even create a legal liability for the crimes committed by the surrogate.


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The Decision to Go to War: Jus ad Bellum This chapter commences by looking at the jus ad bellum principles—namely, those moral and legal traditions that are concerned with the decision of going to war. Questions of righteous motivations, a just cause, and legitimate authority are as much part of the jus ad bellum debate as concerns about the proportionality of the war and a reasonable chance of bringing the war to an end. The Just Cause At the core of the just war tradition is the debate about what constitutes a just cause for going to war. For what ends is it legitimate to apply violence? The most commonly accepted just cause has been self-defense, as Aristotle wrote in Politics. According to the Greek philosopher, military action is righteous for the ultimate end of preserving one’s own polis from the influence of others.9 Self-defense is a recurring theme in the just war theoretical approach to the just cause. The philosophers who advanced the debate into the Middle Ages and were inspired by JudeoChristian values of charity and altruism considered self-defense and the protection of one’s faith to be legitimate causes of war. Augustine and Aquinas, the most prominent medieval Christian philosophers, were still heavily influenced by the idea of a holy war in the name of God—an idea that has a conceptual overlap with jihad in Islam. Only in the fifteenth century did philosophers such as Christine de Pizan and Francisco de Vitoria reject the idea that a just war could be justified by differences in religion as a just cause.10 Rectifying wrongdoing, maintaining law and justice, and protecting innocents from unjust death were altruistic components that shaped the just cause debate beyond defending the Roman Catholic Church and its values.11 For De Vitoria, self-defense went beyond the realist idea of one’s own power, property, or territory to the “lawful defence of the innocent from unjust death, even without the pope’s authority.”12 The Renaissance and the early Enlightenment brought with them a radical change in the power relations between the estates, and with it the relationship between the church and the state. As the notion of the transnational sociopolitical entity of Christendom started to crumble, new ideas of community and communal interests arose that were aligned much closer with the ancient Greek concept of the polis. Europe began to disintegrate along the lines of states that, after the Peace of Westphalia, could freely determine their religion and internal affairs. Erasmus of Rotterdam, Martin Luther, Hugo Grotius, and later also Emer de Vattel defended the idea of the communal right of self-determination and state sovereignty.

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Upholding public interests and public goods were deemed just causes.13 In accordance with Lockean and Hobbesian concepts of the social contract, the state’s primary duty should be the upholding and maintenance of communal security. The state and its sovereignty after 1648 became sacrosanct concepts that would ultimately replace divine justice and God’s command. The obsession of the just war tradition with state sovereignty went so far as to prioritize the rights of states over the rights of individuals. The UN Charter, which would codify the principle in 1945 into international law, is a case in point.14 In the Westphalian era, the primary just cause of war was the defense of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state. Despite the debate about the moral imperative for the international community to protect human beings under threat when their state fails to satisfy its social-contractarian duty to protect, a broad consensus remains today that any infringement on the sovereignty principle is a just cause for a state to wage war.15 The conditionality of the sovereignty principle that the concept of the responsibility to protect (R2P) introduced still falls short of establishing a perfect duty for states to use violence for the protection of individuals. The international legal system today remains state-centric and the intervention of one state into another state an unlawful and immoral act.16 Surrogate warfare can have a variety of causes, ranging from ideological motivations to the advancement of economic, trade, and security interests to greed. The list of causes for surrogate wars is not much shorter than the list of causes for regular wars. The difference lies in the motivations that patrons bring forward to justify why they choose warfare by surrogate over conventional warfare. As discussed in chapter 3, for patrons surrogate wars in the twenty-first century are rarely about selfdefense or the survival of the community. In the words of Martin Luther, surrogate wars tend to be “wars of desire” or “wars of choice” rather than “wars of necessity.”17 Consequently, postmodern surrogate warfare is often motivated by a mix of the need for deniability and discretion when fighting wars of choice rather than wars of necessity. The predominant consideration for patrons seems to be the lack of urgency in relationship to the anticipated costs of intervention. That is to say that for patrons more often than not survival interests are not at stake when externalizing the burden of warfare. Patrons tend to employ surrogates when the interests concerned are so peripheral that a conventional, large-scale deployment of regular infantrymen cannot be justified.18 Hence, also bearing in mind that the use of human and technological surrogates overseas violates the sovereignty of states, the cause of surrogate wars from a patron’s point of view might be morally questionable. Yet in regard to the surrogate’s causes, patrons might have a righteous motivation to go to war. When communities strive for communal self-determination,


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supporting these groups might be a just cause. A human surrogate looking to partner with an external force to subsidize his or her fight for communal self-defense and security as a public good might have a just cause as long as violence is an act of last resort. Also, when a patron intervenes to support a surrogate’s agenda to resist atrocities committed against the community the surrogate represents, surrogate war might have a just cause.19 An example might be the Arab Gulf states’ support after 2012 for moderate Syrian rebels who represented a sectarian group persecuted by the government of Syria and had a legitimate claim to resort to violence as an act of self-defense. This line of argument, however, becomes problematic when it is no longer possible to ascertain whether a surrogate actually advances communal interests as public goods or has ulterior motives to achieve private interests. The Legitimate Authority Another core principle in the jus ad bellum debate is that war should be waged only by a “legitimate authority.” Whereas in religious writing the legitimate authority usually lies with God and his representatives on earth, secular philosophers have replaced the church or the caliph with the state. Since the Renaissance, the legitimate authority to wage war has been believed to be held by the entity that bears the responsibility for communal security. Erasmus of Rotterdam already assigned the legitimate authority of war to the “good prince,” who as a public figure provides public security to his community.20 This idea is further developed throughout the Enlightenment in the concept of the social contract. Hobbes and also later Locke believed that the state as the authority providing public security also holds the authority to wage war. Particularly in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s liberal interpretation of the concept, ultimately the state as a servant of public interests is only the executive agent of the people. It follows that the ultimate legitimate authority to wage war lies with the people who bring the state into existence.21 With the rise of nationalism toward the end of the eighteenth century, the ultimate authority over war and peace was manifested in the nation-state—something that was reflected as well in the legal traditions emanating from the Peace of Westphalia. Deviating from the liberal ideals of Rousseau’s state, Hegel went so far as to attribute the state with superior rationality over the public will of individuals. As he writes in Philosophy of Rights, “The nation-state is the spirit in its substantial rationality and immediate actuality, and is therefore the absolute power on earth; each state is consequently a sovereign and independent entity in relations to others.”22 The supremacy of the state as the ultimate authority on earth remains the foundation of the international legal system today. Despite the de facto disintegration

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of the state-centric system, many scholars still hold on to the SMOV—a concept originating in Max Weber’s 1919 pamphlet Politics as Vocation. In the case of surrogate warfare when a state patron externalizes the burden of warfare to nonstate actors, the state can retain aspects of its monopoly over violence, provided it is able to regulate the surrogate, which as analyzed in the previous chapter becomes increasingly difficult. Yet the concept of the SMOV appears more and more blurry amid the twenty-first-century reality of top-down and bottom-up privatization of force. As the causes of war are no longer statecentric but involve communal, commercial, and individual security interests that are not catered for by statutory but neotrinitarian forces, the idea of the state as the monopolist over violence is an illusion.23 Mary Kaldor, accepting the fact that the state can no longer exercise the authority over violence, argues that in this anarchic environment no alternative actor exists that has the authoritative legitimacy to manage violence.24 The counterargument to this would be that as long as nonstate actors are providing public security for their community, even if outside the trinitarian legitimacy of the state, they do so with communal legitimacy. And this is where surrogate warfare could potentially combine the regulatory authority of the state patron with the communal legitimacy of the surrogate who fights for communal self-determination or local public security. When locals provide security to locals, the sponsoring state might have more legitimacy for intervention than when putting its own troops on the ground. However, to what extent does a state have the legitimate authority to intervene in what would be an internal conflict between the surrogate and the central governing authority of the host state? A patron’s support of surrogates on the ground without the invitation of the host state is a clear violation of article 2(4) of the UN Charter because the patron has no legitimate authority to involve himself in the domestic affairs of the host. Morally, one could argue that if communal interests of a minority were threatened or not protected by the host state, the patron would have the legitimate authority to help the surrogate protect its communal interests, which is at the heart of the R2P.25 The subjectivity of this debate, however, might provide sufficient grounds for legitimizing any external sponsoring of surrogates— a challenge for the consistent application of the R2P as well. While the West builds a case for supporting Syrian rebel forces against the Assad regime, Russia might legitimize its support for secessionists in Ukraine and Iran could legitimize its support for Hezbollah in Syria and Shia militias in Iraq. The question of legitimate authority arises as well when patrons engage in covert operations overseas in other states using technological surrogates. Externalizing the burden of warfare to UAVs, states can bring violence to bear without


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being in a state of war with the host state. In counterterrorism operations executed by drones, the patron engages in law enforcement operations, killing citizens of the host state with or without its consent. By overriding the authority and legitimacy of local government, drone operations undermine the sovereignty of the host state.26 In the example of American UAV operations against al-Qaeda or the Taliban in Pakistan, the US government externalizes the burden of warfare to drones that, among other things, kill Pakistani citizens in Pakistan without the Pakistani government being able to protect them. Drone strikes undermine the Pakistani government’s social contractarian duty and with it its legitimate authority. The same is true for American drone operations in Somalia and Yemen. The US government does not have the legitimate authority to execute law enforcement operations through targeted killings of non-US citizens overseas.27 Looking at legitimate authority from a domestic viewpoint, the externalization of the burden of warfare to surrogates undermines, at least in liberal democracies, democratic checks and balances. It deprives democratic governments the legitimate authority to wage wars, as the public has fewer or no reasons to scrutinize executive action. Emerging from the social-contractarian tradition whereby the state is a mere agent of society, the legitimacy of state action can derive only from public consent. Based on this observation, Kant constructed the Democratic Peace Theory. Kant argued that “if the consent of the citizens is required in order to decide that war should be declared . . . nothing is more natural than that they would be very cautious in commencing such a poor game, decreeing for themselves all the calamities of war.”28 Following that logic, democratic states are less likely to go to war with one another because the public’s fear and reservation for war exacerbates the state’s ability to invest public resources and lives for the management of violence. Externalizing the human and financial costs of war means that the political costs for liberal states to wage war, arising from public opinion, are externalized as well. Consequently, the cabinet wars that could be waged by the executive branch with limited legislative and judiciary oversight would facilitate the resort to war while undermining the legitimate authority of the liberal state to wage war.29 The democratic hurdle of going to war would be circumvented, allowing the executive branch in surrogate wars to manage violence without public approval. In the United States, Congress holds the constitutional authority to conduct paramilitary operations, even to hire private individuals and issue letters of marque. Yet since the 1980s, the Intelligence Authorization Act has permitted the executive branch—that is, the president and his administration—to conduct covert

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operations without congressional approval.30 Therefore, CIA-led operations using human or technological surrogates can be conducted in the shadows of public scrutiny—thereby undermining the legitimacy of the executive authority of the US government. Proportionality of Surrogate Warfare The ambition to achieve proportionality is at the heart of both the jus ad bellum and jus in bello debate. In an effort to limit the negative effects of war and violence, the effects of war have to be proportionate to the ends one wishes to achieve. That is to say, there needs to be a proportionality between the wrong to be prevented and the human and financial costs of military action. Thus, the question of proportionality always involves a subjective judgment regarding the worth of the cause, the likely costs and causalities of war, and a judgment about the relationship of the two values to each other.31 Involving estimates and probabilities not based on facts but on value judgments, the definition of proportionality can never be exact. What constitutes good and what constitutes bad remains in the eye of the beholder.32 In reference to surrogate warfare, the question of proportionality has to ask whether the resort to warfare by surrogates is proportionate to the ends the patron is willing to achieve—that is, whether the externalization of the burden of warfare is more proportionate to the overall objective than employing the patron’s own military. At first sight, employing human or technological surrogates appears to be more proportionate to the widely peripheral objectives of these wars than launching a full-scale major combat operation. With fewer external boots on the ground, the footprint of surrogate wars is comparatively small and promises to have fewer disruptive effects in the short term than a major combat operation. However, looking at the long-term costs of war, human-surrogate operations bear the risk of generating disproportionate ripple effects.33 Training, equipping, and arming local human surrogates inevitably leads to an escalation of conflict whereby the surrogate’s relative power and influence vis-à-vis other belligerents in the theater increases. Particularly when the surrogate is an insurgent or rebel group challenging central government authority, a well-funded statutory military will respond to an increased internal challenge with more violence. A similar dynamic can be triggered by the use of technological surrogates whose collateral damages alienate the local populations. Surrogate wars can, therefore, set in motion a vicious circle of violence and retaliation that evades the control of the patron. Whereas a patron


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can decide to withdraw his own regular forces from a conflict zone as a means to deescalate tension, such an option does not exist when using a human surrogate. The reason is that once arms and equipment have been delivered to the surrogate, it is nearly impossible to disarm or demobilize the surrogate while hostilities are ongoing. Hence, surrogate warfare might not be the most proportionate option available in the long run if the chances of surrogate success are hard to predict. The criterion of a reasonable chance of success is related to the question of proportionality as well. Wars should be waged only if they are the most proportionate means to achieve a long-term condition for peace and stability after hostilities have ceased.34 Arguments can be made that surrogate wars have a higher chance of success in cases of counterinsurgency when the patron substitutes his own statutory forces with local forces who maintain a close bond to the local population. Also, patrons are more willing to commit to military operations in which the main burden of war is not borne by itself but local forces, allowing the patron to be more committed and engaged in the long term. However, the lack of control means that surrogate wars run the risk of primarily serving the surrogate’s agenda rather than the patron’s agenda—a problem when the self-interested objectives of the surrogate collide with the overall objectives of the patron. Then a surrogate war might not have a probable chance of success and consequently might generate negative effects without actually achieving the just cause desired by the patron. Taking the long view, surrogate wars often lack the potential of quickly achieving a condition for peace and stability, causing a conflict to further escalate. Thereby, the costs of returning to peace increase over time. Finally, proportionality is also related to the principle of last resort, which holds that war should always be an act of last resort once all other options are exhausted.35 As already discussed above, surrogate wars seem to lower thresholds for patrons to go to war as the costs for intervention are relatively low, both financially and politically. Thus, surrogate warfare opens new doors for potential patrons to engage in war even if nonkinetic or nonviolent means have not yet been completely exhausted. Providing the potential patrons with degrees of plausible deniability, both domestically and internationally, patrons can engage in surrogate wars as a casual coercive effort to shape the outcomes of political solutions. In cases where an escalation of a conflict using military means might entail significant costs, including the costs of undermining diplomatic efforts, warfare by surrogate provides a cheap option to put pressure on a conflict coercively. Hence, externalizing the burden of warfare very likely facilitates the resort to violence, which in turn makes warfare a casual means of implementing foreign and security policy objectives.

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The Conduct of War: Jus in Bello In the second half of this chapter, we are going to look at jus in bello—that is, the debate about righteous conduct in war. The key question here is whether surrogate warfare could potentially allow patrons to outsource war crimes and grave human rights abuses to surrogates. Jus in bello sets the limits for the use of force in war. In an effort to keep the negative externalities of war to a bare minimum, jus in bello, which is codified in the LOAC, aims at protecting those who are not directly participating in hostilities while limiting the force used to the amount necessary to achieve military objectives. At the core of the jus in bello tradition lies the idea that civilians have to be spared from violence because they enjoy immunity. More precisely, those deemed to be noncombatants—that is, people who do not directly engage in hostilities—must not be targeted by combatants. As laid down in the principle of distinction, belligerents have to make an effort to discriminate between combatants and noncombatants when applying force.36 Further, force ought to be applied proportionately to the military advantage a legitimate target generates for the opponent. Similar to strategic proportionality in the jus ad bellum debate, the proportionality principle holds that the military advantage achieved from any action must be in proportion to the harm inflicted on the opponent’s armed forces and, in exceptional circumstances, his civilian population and infrastructure.37 Considering the complexity of armed conflicts in the twenty-first century, the definition of what constitutes a combatant, what constitutes a legitimate target, and what is the referent object in the proportionality debate becomes increasingly difficult.38 Yet for the discussion of the implications of surrogate warfare on jus in bello in this chapter, answering these questions might go too far. Instead, we will look at one issue that appears to be the most pressing in regard to warfare by surrogate: the issue of patron responsibility in case of grave surrogate misconduct under the LOAC. Patron Responsibility for Human Surrogate Misconduct In the decades after the end of the Cold War, most war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other atrocities were committed by nonstate actors or nonstate surrogates supported by legitimate governments. This has put a significant stress on the compliance of belligerent parties with the LOAC because nonstate actors feel compelled to resort to unconventional strategies and tactics in an effort to


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counterbalance their military disadvantage.39 Nonetheless, despite the fact that nonstate actors find it easier to evade prosecution, they are subject to the same jus in bello principles as state actors. Thus, the noncompliance of human surrogates with the LOAC is a problem that has patrons believing that they are able to circumvent prosecution by simply externalizing war crimes to nonstate actors. Yet patrons are under certain conditions responsible for the crimes committed by their surrogates, as this section will illustrate. In 1995, the US government, unwilling to put its own boots on the ground in Bosnia, delegated the burden of ground warfare to a commercial surrogate, the PMSC Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI), to prepare the Croatian army of a hundred thousand men for the final battle against Serbian forces on the Krajina front. MPRI sent advisers on behalf of the US government to not only train the armed forces but also support them operationally in battle through scenario planning and battle plan design.40 The surrogate, supported by Western airpower, was able to achieve decisive military victory within days. Intervening in a highly polarized ethnic conflict, the US government relied on a party with vested interest in the conflict to engage Serbian forces on the ground. The consequences of this short surrogate war were severe human rights abuses. In a US district court, the operation was described as “an aggressive, systematic military attack and bombardment on a demilitarized civilian population that had been placed under the protection of the United Nations. Operation Storm was designed to kill or forcibly expel the ethnic Serbian residents of the Krajina region from Croatian territory, just because they were a minority religio-ethnic group.”41 The allegations against the US surrogate ranged from ethnic cleansing to summary executions.42 Allegedly more than two hundred thousand Serbian civilians were forcefully expelled from their homes in the Krajina region, and several hundred civilians were executed. Entire areas were flattened with little consideration for human life, violating the principle of distinction and proportionality.43 The plaintiffs in the US district court case went so far as to accuse MPRI of complicity in genocide—a bold accusation that the court did not accept. Nevertheless, MPRI as a US contractor should have known about the delicate relationship between the surrogate and the target population and should have refrained from supporting a party to an ethnic conflict with little consideration for the civilian lives of the opponent. The example of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) as a rebel army operating in Sierra Leone in the 1990s shows how patrons can effectively employ surrogates to secure their personal business interests overseas. The RUF formed as a local insurgency movement trying to topple the Sierra Leonean government,

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with the aim of establishing the equality and liberty of the local population—an agenda that was never implemented. Early on in the process of formation, Charles Taylor, the president of neighboring Liberia, provided support to the organization in an effort to seize control of Sierra Leone’s diamond mines.44 The RUF developed into Taylor’s personal army, trained, equipped, and directed by the Liberian president. In the course of RUF operations, tens of thousands of civilians were maimed, tortured, sexually assaulted, or killed. As a Human Rights Watch report stated in 1999, “By the end of January, both government and independent sources estimated that several thousands of civilians had been killed. The rebels dragged entire family units out of their homes and murdered them, hacked off the hands of children and adults, burned people alive in their houses, and rounded up hundreds of young women, took them to urban rebel bases, and sexually abused them.”45 The war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the RUF in this conflict are well documented and led to Taylor’s indictment before the ICC. As a surrogate of Taylor’s agenda of greed, the RUF committed horrific atrocities across Sierra Leone—war crimes for which Taylor was convicted in 2012 of “aiding and abetting.”46 In the Middle East many of the rebels and militia groups that have emerged over the past decade, particularly amid the Arab Spring, have been involved in atrocities—sometimes fighting local regimes, sometimes fighting other rebels. Often these nonstate actors under arms have enjoyed the sponsorship from foreign patrons. Among the most infamous nonstate actors exercising violence in the Middle East today are the many Shia militias operating in Syria and Iraq. The modern history of Shia militias in the Middle East is one that dates back to the Iranian Revolution in 1979, when the newly founded Islamic Republic of Iran began exporting its Islamic Revolution to the Arab world. Vital to the creation, funding, and training of militias in Lebanon and Iraq was the IRGC and its Quds Force—the ideological elite of Iran’s armed forces.47 The IRGC systematically supported Shia communities in the Arab world to become bulwarks for the Islamic Revolution and surrogates in Iran’s fight against Israel and Saddam Hussein. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, many of the exiled Shia militias returned home to assume their role as communal protectors in a disintegrating Iraqi state. The decision by the Coalition Provisional Authority to dismantle Saddam’s Baath Party and his armed forces created a vacuum that nonstate actors could easily fill.48 Some militias, such as the Badr Corps and the Sadrist militias, rose to become strong challengers to the central government. By the time that ISIS crossed into Iraq from Syria in early 2014, Iraq’s military had been hollowed out and was unable to resist the onslaught of the jihadists, and the only capable forces


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able to protect Baghdad and communities in the south were the Shia militias of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU). Iran’s support of these nonstate actors through arms, money, and sophisticated training made them forces to reckon with.49 Despite their operational success in stopping the advance of ISIS and later also assisting the Iraqi government to reclaim lost territory from ISIS, the militias have been repeatedly accused of committing atrocities and disregarding international humanitarian law.50 According to Human Rights Watch, Shia militias have been witnessed looting, torching, and blowing up civilian dwellings, forcefully expelling local civilians, and detaining, torturing, and killing prisoners.51 Not only have Shia militias repeatedly violated the LOAC, but they have also undermined the fragile sectarian balance of power in Iraq by predominantly targeting Sunni communities in their operations. Hence, as these examples illustrate, nonstate actors acting as surrogates are frequently involved in human rights abuses, war crimes, and other violations of the LOAC, in spite of the fact that the principles of jus in bello and good conduct in war apply to state and nonstate actors alike.52 Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions prescribes obligations to “each party to a conflict,” including rebel and militias forces—particularly when these engage in acts of national liberation.53 Also, the Rome Statute of 1998 establishing the ICC makes a strong reference to criminal liability of individuals and nonstate organizations when seriously violating the laws and customs of armed conflict. In principle, the ICC can hold nonstate actors accountable for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.54 However, without trying to take away from the ICC’s success, its process of indictment and prosecution as well as its chronic lack of capacity leave most atrocities unprosecuted. Nevertheless, the argument that warfare by surrogate allows patrons to externalize war crimes to evade prosecution is at least in principle not convincing. There is a range of case law and codified international law that deals with the question of state responsibility for unlawful acts potentially by nonstate actors. The essential question at the heart of this debate about the extent to which a state patron can be held accountable for the misconduct of its surrogates is whether the surrogate acts as an effective organ of the patron state. This debate returns to the issue of control because for the conduct of a human surrogate to be attributable to a state, the patron has to have a degree of control over the surrogate.55 Human surrogates, both direct and indirect, are rarely organs of the state, as by definition the patron externalizes the burden of warfare to organizations that have no or obscured links to the command-and-control center of the sponsoring state.

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However, surrogates could act as quasi organs of the state when empowered by the patron to exercise elements of governmental authority. An example is PMSCs that, by executing an inherently governmental function such as guarding prisoners, become de facto organs of the state.56 The reason is that in this case the association between the autonomous commercial entity and the client state is formalized in a common-law contract. Thus, in cases where PMSCs operate in conflict zones as soldier surrogates exercising inherently governmental functions,57 as was the case with contractors in Iraq manning prisoner of war camps, PMSCs could potentially be labeled as quasi-state organs. In most cases of warfare by human surrogate, however, the command-andcontrol relationship between the patron and the surrogate is even further obscured. Article 8 of the International Law Commission’s (ILC) Draft Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts provides the most applicable codified legal reference to the case of state responsibility in surrogate warfare. Here it states that “the conduct of a person or group of persons shall be considered an act of a State under international law if the person or group of persons is in fact acting on the instructions of, or under the direction or control of, that State in carrying out the conduct.”58 The important concepts in article 8 are “under the direction or control of.” Returning to the question of patron control, any tribunal that would attribute state responsibility has to clarify to what degree the patron was actually in a position to influence or alter the conduct of the surrogate. In the infamous 1986 case The Republic of Nicaragua v. The United States of America, which dealt with the question of whether the conduct of the Nicaraguan contras as US surrogates could be attributed to the United States, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that “despite the heavy subsidies and other support provided to them by the United States, there is no clear evidence of the United States having actually exercised such a degree of control in all fields as to justify treating the contras as acting on its behalf.”59 In this decision, the court established the argument that the action of a surrogate could be attributed to a patron only when this patron has effective control over the surrogate’s activities—that is, when it is able to exercise sufficient pressure on the surrogate to direct his actions.60 That is to say that the patron has to have a degree of operational or tactical control over the surrogate. To be more precise, based on the effective-control test, any misconduct of the surrogate can be attributed to the patron only “where certain members of those [surrogate] forces happened to have been specifically charged by [the patron’s] authorities to commit a particular act.”61 Thus, the patron would need to have its organs embedded within


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the surrogate forces and exercise effective command and control over surrogate operations. While, for example, SOF who conduct train-and-equip missions do not have de jure control over the surrogate, they most likely also do not have de facto control over the surrogate. With few means available to the patron’s SOF commander to enforce discipline beyond force of personality or the threat to withdraw strategic support, the relationship between liaison teams and surrogates rarely if ever amounts to a superior-subordinate relationship.62 It follows that SOF liaison officers can only rely on influence to prevent surrogate misconduct. This reading of control as “effective control” establishes a very high threshold for state responsibility that would allow states at least legally to evade any responsibility for surrogate misconduct. Since the end of the Cold War, however, the moral and legal debate about states’ responsibility has slightly changed. As Gordon A. Christenson explains, “The tendency of those in power to achieve their ends through private or non-State actors, thereby avoiding attribution, engenders a wide range of conduct by inaction where both deniability and non-attribution serve to enhance the power of those in control of a State.”63 The strict interpretation of control by the ICJ in Nicaragua v. United States has created a shield behind which patrons can hide when employing surrogates domestically and externally to breach international law and international humanitarian law. The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) pointed out in the case against Bosnian Serb paramilitary leader Duško Tadić that the overall control over a surrogate should be deemed sufficient to hold the patron legally accountable.64 Overall control refers to the patron’s strategic control over the surrogate—that is, organizing, coordinating, and planning of surrogate operations without having direct control over particular surrogate tactical action. As the appeals chamber explained, the rationale behind state responsibility is to “prevent States from escaping international responsibility by having private individuals carry out tasks that may not or should not be performed by State officials.”65 Although the ICJ rejected the appeals chamber’s argument, it seems as if in the light of increased nonstate actor involvement in war as surrogates, the moral and legal debate on state responsibility might be changing. The precedent of Nicaragua v. United States might not be enough to reject the overall-control argument, which seems to be in accordance with the intent of the ILC’s article 8 and customary international law.66 Also, one should consider the ruling of the ICJ in Bosnia Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro, in which it is laid out that even when a state patron has no effective control over the surrogate, the patron nonetheless can be held accountable for the surrogate’s acts of genocide when it fails to

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take all necessary precautions to stop the surrogate from committing such acts.67 War crimes and crimes against humanity, however, do not fall into this category. Returning to the three cases of surrogate misconduct introduced in the beginning of this section, it would be difficult to legally establish state responsibility for a surrogate’s action. In the first case, MPRI could be considered a de facto state organ of the DoD because the relationship was established through a formal contract. The question, however, that would be difficult to answer is whether MPRI as a de facto state organ could be held responsible for the atrocities committed by the Croatian army as a secondary surrogate. The case that was brought in front of a US district court was rejected on the ground of the court’s lack of jurisdiction on the matter. In the second case, the ICC established the direct personal responsibility of Charles Taylor; however, no case was brought against the state of Liberia. Arguably, the RUF’s atrocities were at times executed under the direction of Liberian officials, possibly providing a legal base to establish that Liberia had effective state control over RUF operations. The last case is a lot more complex. Although some of the Shia militias have received training and funding from representatives of the IRGC, it is almost impossible to determine to what extent Iran controls Shia militia operations. The commandant of the Quds Force (the IRGC’s branch for overseas engagements), Qasem Soleimani, has been repeatedly sighted on the battlefield alongside Shia militiamen in Syria and Iraq, fueling the allegations that Iran is directly involved in directing Shia militia operations.68 Soleimani’s repeated proximity to the battlefield and Shia militias suggests that Iran has at least overall if not effective control over some of its surrogate operations in Iraq and Syria. The international community seldom has the courage or reaches the consensus to hold perpetrators of war crimes accountable. While a lot of progress has been made with the ICC to hold individuals accountable for grave human rights abuses, the ICJ still gives precedence to rights of states over those of individuals. The ICTY and its rulings have provided new case law that at least in theory could be used to both protect victims of atrocities and prosecute their perpetrators. Yet until both the law and the institutions to enforce it become more capable and coherent, surrogate warfare de facto provides means for state patrons to externalize the responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The only hope is that with an increased reliance on force partnering by Western and non-Western states, the international community, as well as the legal debate, will invest in new approaches to hold those responsible for war crimes to account—both patrons and surrogates. Patrons should invest in developing capable monitoring and oversight mechanisms to ensure that surrogates comply with the LOAC.


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Conclusion It would be too generic to state that the externalization of the burden of warfare to surrogates in a contemporary twenty-first-century context is inherently good or evil. From the point of view of the just war tradition, surrogate warfare can have potential benefits: It might help local communities to fight for self-determination or protect themselves against oppression. Local communities can be empowered through the sponsorship of patrons to fulfill their social-contractarian demand for communal security while simultaneously serving the patron’s agenda. Rather than having foreign soldiers in uniform provide local security overseas, locals can take security measures into their own hands, building sociopolitical order that might be more sustainable and more in accordance with local traditions and customs. Thus, in surrogate warfare, belligerents are at times more likely to have a just cause or legitimate authority than when foreign powers deploy their soldiers overseas for humanitarian causes. The latter, unlike locals, will always fight for ulterior motives that are alien to the nature of the conflict at hand. However, surrogate warfare lowers the threshold for patrons to go to war. By circumventing traditional popular or democratic hurdles to resorting to war, patrons have now found a means to fight cabinet wars for potentially questionable ends. Resources can be provided to surrogates with few political costs involved, achieving strategic and operational objectives without putting their own soldiers in harm’s way—a problem when the patron pursues self-interested objectives of power lust and greed but an opportunity when the patron feels enabled to pursue humanitarian objectives. The reason is that surrogate warfare can help the state to potentially live up to the responsibility to protect strangers in need, which it might ignore if it had to rely on its own military.69 Surrogate warfare runs the risk of making the use of violence a more causal lever of power for patrons. Although it promises to provide the patron with short-term opportunities to achieve strategic and operational objectives at minimal costs, the long-term costs of surrogate warfare affect the patron, the surrogate, and the local population. The chances of success might become peripheral for the patron when the costs of war are that low and warfare is no longer a means of last resort. Surrogate warfare allows the patron to maintain an input into the simmering wars of the twenty-first century for an indefinite time—a military advantage in an era when decisive victory is hard to measure. Morally, it begs the question of whether the externalization of the burden of warfare is actually the most proportionate means to achieve an ambiguous concept of victory. From a perspective of jus in bello, surrogates are by no means more or less

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moral in their application of force than regular soldiers. Also, the argument that, because of the vague international humanitarian law, regime surrogates can get away with murder is hardly convincing. The sheer opportunity to commit a crime with guaranteed amnesty does not make someone a criminal. Nonetheless, while airpower used as a stand-alone surrogate generates morally and legally questionable effects, human surrogates have repeatedly avoided prosecution for war crimes committed. As human surrogates are often unprofessional military forces operating in a legal vacuum with insufficient oversight and control, the horrors of war have prompted surrogates to disregard the standards for righteous conduct in war. Assad’s Shabiha militias have been made responsible for atrocities against the predominantly Sunni civilian population in the Syrian Civil War.70 The Hutu government’s militia Interahamwe facilitated the Rwandan genocide on the country’s Tutsis in 1994.71 The YPG, America’s surrogate in Syria against the Islamic State, has been accused of ethnic cleansing of Arab villages.72 The militias of the Khmer Rouge committed crimes against humanity after their purge in 1979, as a surrogate of Thailand, China, and the United States against the People’s Republic of Kampuchea.73 Particularly in wars along ethnic and sectarian lines polarized by ideological narratives, human surrogates have engaged in prehistoric savagery—as have states as well. It is here where patrons have to invest more in ensuring that their surrogates comply with the standards of righteous conduct, and the international community has to do more to ensure that both patrons and surrogates are held accountable for atrocities committed. Surrogate warfare still makes it too easy for patrons to bypass legal responsibility for severe violations of human rights. As nonstate actors clash in barbarous battles abandoning the laws of war, state patrons have to use their influence, however little they might have, to guarantee that surrogates do not fight wars in which the law is silent.


1. Fiala, Just War Myth, 3. 2. Bjola, Legitimising Use of Force, 21. 3. Bellamy, Just Wars from Cicero to Iraq, 1. 4. Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, 3. 5. Clausewitz, On War, 74. 6. Fiala, Just War Myth, 47. 7. Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, 24. 8. See Carmola, “Outsourcing Combat.” 9. Aristotle, Politics, book VII, para. 13, line 1333b, p. 289.


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10. Fiala, Just War Myth, 37. 11. Reichberg, Syse, and Begby, Ethics of War, 231. 12. De Vitoria, “On the Law of War,” 313. 13. Reichberg, Syse, and Begby, Ethics of War, 237, 507. 14. Fisher, Morality and War, 69. 15. Regan, Just War, 69. 16. Bjola, Legitimising Use of Force, 46 17. Reichberg, Syse, and Hartwell, Religion, War, and Ethics, 247. 18. Mumford, Proxy Warfare, 3. 19. Regan, Just War, 77. 20. Reichberg, Syse, and Hartwell, Religion, War, and Ethics, 237. 21. Fiala, Just War Myth, 48. 22. Hegel, Elements of Philosophy of Right, 366. 23. Bislev, “Globalization, State Transformation,” 284. 24. Kaldor, New and Old Wars, 122. 25. Regan, Just War, 77. 26. Boyle, “Costs and Consequences,” 3. 27. Hudson, Owens, and Flannes, “Drone Warfare,” 123. 28. Kant, Perpetual Peace, 113. 29. Salzman, “Private Military Contractors,” 869. 30. Lobel, “Covert War and Congressional Authority,” 1094. 31. Regan, Just War, 63. 32. Fisher, Morality and War, 75. 33. Regan, Just War, 77. 34. Fiala, Just War Myth, 13. 35. Fisher, Morality and War, 73. 36. International Committee of the Red Cross, Protocol Additional to Geneva Conventions, article 41. 37. International Committee of the Red Cross, Protocol Additional to Geneva Conventions, article 57. 38. Krieg, Commercializing Cosmopolitan Security, 88–89. 39. Bassiouni, “New Wars and Crisis of Compliance,” 715. 40. Dunigan, Victory for Hire, 93–95. 41. United States District Court, Genocide Victims of Krajina. 42. Raymond Bonner, “War Crimes Panel Finds Croat Troops ‘Cleansed’ the Serbs,” New York Times, March 21, 1999,” -panel-finds-croat-troops-cleansed-the-serbs.html. 43. United States District Court, Genocide Victims of Krajina. 44. Gberie, Dirty War in West Africa, 59–61. 45. Human Rights Watch, “Getting Away with Murder, Mutilation, Rape,” 1. 46. Marlise Simons and J. David Goodman, “Ex-Liberian Leader Gets 50 Years for War

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Crimes,” New York Times, May 30, 2012, /world/africa/charles-taylor-sentenced-to-50-years-for-war-crimes.html. 47. O’Hern, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, 72. 48. Krieg, Socio-Political Order and Security, 218. 49. Michael R. Gordon and Andrew W. Lehren, “Leaked Reports Detail Iran’s Aid for Iraqi Militias,” New York Times, October 22, 2010, /world/middleeast/23iran.html. 50. Amnesty International, “Iraq.” 51. Human Rights Watch, Ruinous Aftermath, 1–3. 52. Dickinson, Outsourcing War and Peace, 42. 53. Clapham, “Human Rights Obligations,” 495. 54. Ssenyonjo, “Accountability of Non-State Actors,” 413. 55. See Kenneth P. Yeager v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, 101–2. 56. Lehnhart, “Private Military Companies,” 142. 57. The definition of “inherently governmental functions” is subjective and can be distorted to fit the purpose. Most commonly, inherently governmental functions in the Western world entail functions that affect human life and civil liberties. 58. United Nations, Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, 43. 59. International Court of Justice, Military and Paramilitary Activities, 51. 60. Starski, “Right to Self-Defense,” 469. 61. International Court of Justice, Military and Paramilitary Activities, 189. 62. Bart, “Special Operations Forces and Responsibility,” 520. 63. Christenson, “Attributing Acts of Ommission,” 312. 64. International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Appeals Chamber, Prosecutor v. Duško Tadić, para. 112. 65. International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Appeals Chamber, para. 118. 66. Cassese, “Nicaragua and Tadić Tests Revisited,” 651. 67. International Court of Justice, Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide, para. 430. 68. Filkins, “Shadow Commander”; Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt, “Iran Secretly Sending Drones and Supplies into Iraq, U.S. Officials Say,” New York Times, June 25, 2014,; Ahmed Rasheed, “Iraqi Army and Militias Surround Isis in Major Offensive in the Battle for Tikrit,” The Independent, March 3, 2015, /middle-east/iraqi-army-and-militias-surround-isis-in-major-offensive-in-the-battle -for-tikrit-10083338.html. 69. See Krieg, Commercializing Cosmopolitan Security, 228. 70. Fares, “Arab Spring Comes to Syria,” 151. 71. Human Rights Watch, “Leave None to Tell the Story,” 327. 72. Amnesty International, “Press Release: Syria.” 73. Haas, Cambodia, Pol Pot, and the United States, 16–29.



Iran’s Externalization of Strategic Defense through Surrogate Warfare

Like no other country, the Islamic Republic of Iran has perfected the use of human surrogates over the past four decades. Its very distinct strategic culture and setup of civil-security sector relations has enabled it to master warfare by surrogate. In fact, Iran is probably the most experienced patron in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries to conduct warfare by surrogate. However, Iran’s lessons learned might in many ways not be transferable to Western states as they are too distinct to the Islamic Republic’s ideological grand strategy and its military doctrine as well as its organization of the security sector, which comprises both conventional statutory and unconventional nonstatutory forces. Nonetheless, instead of vilifying Iran, the West should try to understand how Iran has become so successful in force partnering. In Western media, the face of Iran’s surrogate wars has been Brig. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of a notorious secretive branch of the IRGC, the Quds Force. The “shadow commander” has been dubbed the “single most powerful operative in the Middle East today,”1 appearing in photos next to Shia militiamen in Syria’s Aleppo and on the front line against ISIS next to peshmerga in Iraq. These images have fueled Western and Arab allegations that Iran is meddling in other countries’ internal affairs—allegations that the Islamic Republic no longer tries to refute. Iran’s subtle presence on most of the region’s battlefields is founded on an expeditionary posture that dates to the days of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Ever since, Iran’s perceived conventional military inferiority vis-à-vis opponents such as Israel, Saddam’s Iraq, and the combined power of the Persian Gulf states has caused the theocratic regime in Tehran to think of alternative, unconventional, asymmetrical means to guarantee the survival of the Islamic Revolution. Iran’s strategic defense relies on its ability to mobilize militias as surrogates domestically

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and overseas to protect its borders as much as it relies on ballistic missiles, tanks, and fighter jets. What is widely conceived in the West and the Arab world as an offensive military posture is in reality a purely defensive strategy of disruption, keeping state and nonstate threats as far away from Iran’s heartland as possible. Ideological narratives rooted in a universalist interpretation of Shiism provide the moral legitimacy to an internationalist agenda of protecting the Islamic Republic by surrogates overseas. This chapter will show how the regime in Tehran has come to embrace asymmetrical warfare by surrogate as its standard modus operandi of strategic defense. A particular focus will be directed toward the IRGC and its Quds Force as the prime vehicle of Iranian surrogate warfare in the Middle East. Unlike Western foreign intelligence services or SOF, Iran not only externalizes the burden of war in an effort to disguise its activities but has relied on surrogates as an effective tool to secure Iranian interests overseas. While the CIA or MI6 might employ surrogates covertly on smaller projects of often more peripheral interest, surrogate warfare for Iran is an integral part of strategic deterrence and defense.

“Revolution without Borders”: Iran’s Grand Strategy The Islamic Republic of Iran is the product of a popular revolution that, fueled by the ideologies of a dissident Shia clergy surrounding revolutionary religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, brought an end to twenty-five hundred years of Persian monarchy. Although the Iranian Revolution has been referred to as the “Islamic Revolution,” it began as a popular uprising against socioeconomic insecurity and political oppression—grievances Khomeini promised to correct by enforcing his vision of an Islamist regime based on social justice and security. Among the revolutionaries, Khomeini’s camp quickly gained the upper hand, providing protestors with a powerful narrative of how to reorganize sociopolitics in Iran. Khomeini’s idea of vilayat-e faqih, the supremacy of clerical authority over sociopolitics within the confines of Islam, enjoyed great appeal among the youth and middle class.2 The Shia clergy provided ideological legitimacy to a new form of Islamic governance that was opposed to political “usurpation” through Western secularism and authoritarian corruption that had allowed Iran’s wealth to be misappropriated by the monarchy. In so doing, Khomeini’s revolution in many ways made use of images and narratives that resonated well with Marxist and socialist opposition groups in Iran. Combining the fight for the liberation of the oppressed


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and disenfranchised with the Islamic ideal of clerical rule, the guiding principles of the Islamic Revolution were widely embraced by the Iranian population that voted in favor of the Islamic Republic’s constitution in 1979.3 The revolution had thrown the country into turmoil. With the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, going into exile and hundreds of thousands of Iranians protesting against his regime, the return of Khomeini to Tehran from exile in January 1979 brought little stability. Despite the fact that the majority of Iranians consented to the idea of vilayat-e faqih, many institutions of the regime, including the military, remained in place. At the same time, severed relations with the US government over the US embassy hostage situation that unfolded toward the end of 1979 exposed the new regime to financial sanctions. Albeit triumphant, the first year of the revolution was tumultuous and characterized by uncertainty and security paranoia among loyal Khomeini followers, who were haunted by decades of political persecution by the former regime and its henchmen. The position of the United States toward the ongoing hostage crisis also contributed to an environment of uncertainty. A flawed attempt by a US commando operation to free the hostages in 1980 reinforced the widespread sentiments that the US, the shah’s most loyal sponsor, would try to instigate a counterrevolution to unsettle the ayatollahs’ rule.4 Similar to other revolutions, the revolutionaries’ fear of a counterrevolution preoccupied the nascent regime, exacerbating an already existing collective inferiority complex in Shia Islam—a branch of Islam whose collective identity is built around the narrative of martyrdom and betrayal.5 Amid this climate, the narratives used by the revolutionaries became more radical and their outlook more universal. The Islamic Republic was in need of allies and partners at a time of uncertainty and perceived omnipresent threat. As the new president of Iran, Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, proclaimed upon taking office, “Our revolution will not win if it is not exported. . . . We are going to create a new order in which deprived people will not always be deprived and oppressors will not always be oppressors.”6 Thus, the reach of the Islamic Revolution had to move beyond the borders of Iran and find followers among the disenfranchised and oppressed in the region. Khomeini’s aim was to eradicate the borders of the Middle East, defying the Western concept of the nation-state, in an effort to unite Muslims under the banner of the revolution. As it is stated in the preamble of the Islamic Republic’s constitution, “The constitution is written with the hope that this will be the century of the universal rule of the oppressed and the defeat of all the oppressors.”7 Iran was supposed to become the epicenter of a new world order providing Muslims disillusioned with Western ideologies of nationalism and socialism and with pan-Arabism with a new sociopolitical narrative. This messianic

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vision saw Iran as an “Islamic city on a hill” inspiring Muslims around the world, irrespective of sectarian or ethnic identity, to unite to defend the universal ideals that the Islamic Revolution was supposed to represent.8 As the cleric Hussein-Ali Montazeri, a companion of Khomeini, explained in 1979, “One of the characteristic of Iran’s Revolution is that its mundane scope cannot be confined to certain geographical and continental areas. Indeed, our revolution is an Islamic Revolution and not an Iranian one.”9 The internationalist and universalist vision of the revolution transformed the efforts of building an Islamic Republic in Iran from a local sociopolitical experiment to a pan-Islamic endeavor of building a new world order through a revolution without borders. The IRGC, which was set up within the turmoil of the revolutionary clashes, regarded its raison d’être as protecting the achievements of the revolution from both the internal threats of Marxist revolutionary elements as well as from the cultural and military threat coming from the Western world, led by the United States.10 Thus, protecting the revolution was a military as well as a cultural struggle that went beyond the borders of Iran. As a bulwark against imperialist intervention by the West, most notably the United States, the Islamic Revolution was conceived by Khomeini as providing the ways and means for liberation movements to emancipate themselves from the alien, non-Islamic oppression—both in the sociopolitical and cultural spheres.11 While emphasizing the nonintervention principle and state sovereignty, most revolutionaries, particularly those within the IRGC, pursued an internationalist agenda that rejected the idea that state sovereignty could take precedence over the support to fellow Muslims.12 Article 154 of the Iranian Constitution leaves a back door to allow for what is essentially the delegation of the defense of the revolution to surrogates outside: “While scrupulously refraining from all forms of interference in the internal affairs of other nations, it supports the just struggles of the freedom fighters against the oppressors in every corner of the globe.”13 Although the IRGC speaks about “exporting the revolution,” the support for Muslim liberation movements in particular was not really regarded as foreign interference, owing to the perceived universal nature of the Islamic Revolution’s ambitions. Therefore, assisting oppressed fellow Muslims and their local liberation movements was as much a religious duty as it was seen as a means to secure the legitimacy and security of the Islamic Republic and its supreme leader, Khomeini. Executing this duty was regarded by the revolutionaries as defensive rather than offensive. The reason was that the export of the revolution was not just a humanitarian effort providing the disenfranchised and oppressed with means to liberate themselves but also an effort to allow the regime in Tehran to exercise influence over minority groups in the region.


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Born of the inferiority complex of the early years of the revolution, which was confronted by counterrevolutionary elements domestically and a military onslaught externally, the export of the revolution remains a key component of Iran’s defensive strategy. The formative Iran-Iraq War, which commenced in 1981, Western economic sanctions, and the US-led operations in Iraq beginning in 1990 and 2003 and in Afghanistan in 2001, as well as the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, have further contributed to the regime’s realization that the Islamic Republic had to hedge against the risks of potential encirclement by externalizing strategic defense to territories outside its heartland. Ariane M. Tabatabai calls this the “campfire strategy”—the attempt to keep the perceived omnipresent threats away from its territory, people, and interests.14 The externalization of the revolution to surrogates often ideologically tied to the Islamic Republic has become a grand strategy to safeguard the achievements of 1979. The support for liberation movements such as the PLO in Lebanon in the early 1980s, Hezbollah since 1982, Shia militias in Iraq since the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War, and the Houthis in Yemen since 2014 is seen as part of a pan-Islamic effort to reinstall divine political power, first in the Middle East and then worldwide. Tabatabai cites Khomeini’s successor, Ali Khameini, who in a 2016 speech to families of fallen IRGC guardsmen explained that “these individuals who leave here to go to Iraq or Syria in the name of defending the sites of the Prophet’s family in the face of the takfiris are in reality defending their own cities. Of course their intent is God. But the reality of the situation is this: It is the defense of Iran.”15 This universalist conceptualization of the Islamic Revolution does not differentiate between supporting the struggle of allied liberation movements overseas and the protection of the Iranian homeland. The vanguard of the revolutionaries that toppled the shah’s regime had already embraced the internationalist character of their ideological struggle before they returned to Iran in 1979. As exiled Islamist dissidents, they had built careers resisting state control and fighting for the internationalist agendas of resistance movements in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq. The likes of Mohammad Montazeri and Mohsen Rafighdoost, who became instrumental in building the IRGC, were not fighting for Iranian national interests per se but a more powerful narrative of a new Islamic world order. For them the revolution in Iran was just the first step in a much broader pan-Islamic and possibly global campaign.16 In the 1970s, they trained with Yasser Arafat’s Fatah in Lebanon, fought alongside the PLO, and led their own Shia vigilante groups in Syria and Lebanon against Israel.17 In the formative years of the Islamic Republic, their leverage over the security sector and foreign and security policy had been decisive, signaling to the clergy that Lebanon and the

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fight against Israel had to become the next focal point in an effort to consolidate the revolution. It was a group around the revolutionaries Mohammad Montazeri, Mohsen Rafiqhdoost, and Ali Akbar Mohtashamipur that tapped into its local networks in Lebanon in 1982 to create a Shia resistance movement by consolidating a variety of different militia groups under the banner of the revolution. The Party of God, or Hezbollah, was to become the revolution’s most important expeditionary project, defending the Islamic Republic on its front with Israel. As Mohtashamipur declared in a newspaper article in 2006, “Hezbollah is part of the regime in Iran, Hezbollah is an elementary factor in the Iranian military and security establishment; the connection between Hezbollah and Iran is much greater than the connection of a revolutionary regime with a party or a revolutionary organization outside of the borders of its country.”18 Effectively Iran’s deep state proximate to its supreme leader regards Hezbollah as an extension of the regime overseas, allowing for the externalization of the burden of war to an overseas territory. While local Shia communities are accommodated generously through Hezbollah’s socioeconomic programs, Hezbollah operatives divert Israel’s attention away from Iran’s heartland to southern Lebanon. An anonymous representative of the Iranian regime cited in the newspaper Asharq al-Awsat in 2006 confirmed that Hezbollah “is one of the elements of our strategic security. It serves as an Iranian front line of defence against Israel.”19 Apart from Israel, Iran’s campfire strategy has long been preoccupied with Iraq. Ever since Saddam’s invasion in 1981, influence over Shia communities in Iraq’s south has been a means for the Islamic Republic to create a buffer zone to its west. By bogging down Iraqi troops in southern Iraq fighting against Shia militias trained, equipped, and often directed by IRGC guardsmen, Iran was able to externalize the burden of warfare away from its homeland.20 With the US invasion in 2003 and the sociopolitical disintegration of Iraq, further exacerbated by the Arab Spring, Iran was invited to expand its influence in Iraq and Syria. The fall of Saddam provided Iran with the opportunity to exponentially increase its strategic depth across the region. As King Abdullah II of Jordan noted in a 2004 interview, Iran could now consolidate its “Shia Crescent” connecting Tehran with Baghdad, Damascus, and southern Lebanon.21 The Arab Spring provided the surrogate puppeteer General Soleimani with new opportunities to employ the narrative of the revolution to externalize Iran’s strategic defense to neighboring countries. He stated in a 2011 speech in Qom that the Islamic Republic’s “defeat or victory will not be determined in Mehran or Khorramshahr, but rather, our borders have spread. We must witness victories in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.”22


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With considerations of strategic defense conflated with ideological principles, the extensive deployment of the IRGC and its Quds Force across the region after 2011 has been justified by the religious duty to protect the family of the Prophet— referring to both the shrine cities of Karbala and Najaf in Iraq and the shrine of Sayyida Zaynab in Syria. Syria is both an essential operational hub for IRGC units and an important lieu de mémoire in Shia Islam. According to a Basij militia member deployed to Syria: “Syria is the thirty-fifth province and a strategic province for [the Islamic Republic]. If the enemy attacks and the aim is to capture both Syria and Khuzestan, we would keep Syria. . . . If we hold on to Syria, we would be able to retake Khuzestan; yet if we lose Syria, we would not even be able to keep Tehran.”23 Hence, the internationalist outlook of the revolutionary narrative that founded the Islamic Republic in 1979 has legitimized the externalization of strategic defense from the Iranian military to local surrogates. Militias, rebels, and vigilante groups, as well as quasi-state entities such as Hezbollah, operate as the vanguard of the revolution, not only catering to local community interests but also and most importantly serving Iran’s security interests. The Islamic Revolution’s pan-Islamist narrative thereby serves as a platform to integrate mostly Shia groups under the wings of a much wider cultural and sociopolitical insurrection. It has allowed Iran to find allies amid a context of paranoia, uncertainty, and fears of military inferiority.

Iran’s Security Sector: Vigilantism over Professionalism The security sector of the Islamic Republic is highly diversified. It is a hybrid built on the semiprofessional remnants of the shah’s military and the revolutionary forces that were created amid the turmoil of the revolution in 1979. Haunted by the reality of a well-equipped military with Western hardware and loyalties to the old regime, the ayatollahs and the revolutionaries were preoccupied with ensuring that the regular armed forces were kept in check. The national defense of the nascent order was not supposed to be entrusted solely to a military whose officers had advanced through Persian imperial ranks. Instead, the popular revolution had to be secured by popular forces. Similar to other revolutionary regimes, the Islamic Republic was to raise a popular militia, or a people’s army, in which sheer numbers and ideological fervor could compensate for the inferiority of the armed forces’ competence and equipment.24 From the beginning the revolutionary regime, consumed by mistrust and paranoia, favored the paramilitary groups that had made the revolution possible, by

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setting up committees to organize local governance and security provision. The fractured institutions of the police, the gendarmerie, and the military withdrew once they realized that the overwhelming power of the mass insurrection could no longer be contained. When on February 11, 1979, after the “three glorious days” of armed resistance, it became obvious that particularly the noncommissioned ranks of the armed forces were deserting or mutinying in large numbers, a delegation of military men in uniform openly pledged allegiance to Khomeini.25 The “heroes of the revolution” were the vigilante and militia groups who were able to fill the void left by the shah’s disintegrating security sector—paramilitary groups often working through local mosques and committees loyal to the ideological narrative of the Islamic Revolution.26 Many of these paramilitary groups, calling themselves “guardians” of the revolution (pasdaran) were locally organized and maintained only a loose affiliation with the Revolutionary Council in Tehran. Eager to protect the revolution against counterrevolutionary elements, the pasdaran arrested suspects believed to be loyalists to the shah’s regime, secured the border, and occupied strategic positions of defense and control in Iran’s major cities. Controlled locally by preachers, clergymen, and at times even Marxist revolutionary ideologues, these guardians were, despite their ideological support of Khomeini, not in any way integrated into a chain of command that would lead directly to the supreme leader.27 Subordinating these often rogue paramilitary groups under the direct control of the Revolutionary Council was a challenge that Khomeini tried to overcome by issuing a decree on May 5, 1979, officially creating the IRGC and uniting the various factions under the umbrella of direct regime control.28 Despite the IRGC’s formal development of its own chain of command, it developed into a hybrid organization consisting of vigilante groups as well as professional military units, combining asymmetrical, guerrilla warfare with more conventional operational approaches. The opposition of the key leaders in the IRGC toward government control allowed the pasdaran to retain a degree of decentralization and autonomy. Even today the IRGC remains outside the regular chain of command and reports directly to the supreme leader, making it an ideological praetorian guard deeply anchored in a cleric-supporter nexus that formalizes Shia Islamist activism from the bottom up.29 From religious indoctrination to local sociopolitical activity to vigilantism and effective warfighting, the IRGC is a vanguard religious-military complex that spans all parts of Iranian sociopolitics with the declared aim of protecting the Islamic Revolution both domestically and externally. At the heart of the IRGC’s domestic agenda has been the Basij (from the Persian word for “mobilization”), the country’s massive volunteer force. Article 151


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of the constitution of the Islamic Republic says that “the government is oblige[d] to provide a program of military training, with all requisite facilities, for all its citizens, in accordance with the Islamic criteria, in such a way that all citizens will always be able to engage in the armed defense of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”30 Instead of building its homeland defense around a capable and potent military force, Iran’s homeland defense relies on local partisan warfare whereby quantity and ideological superiority are weighted higher than quality and professionalism. Consequently, Iran does not envisage a levée en masse to be channeled to a conscript force embedded in a centralized military organization. The regime envisaged a militia force that would operate autonomously as a decentralized organization. The Basij would be the popular force, consisting of indoctrinated and trained youth. Created in November 1979, the Basij is a gigantic sociocultural grassroots organization indoctrinating, training, and educating young volunteers from the urban periphery and rural areas.31 Unlike other reservist forces, the Basij was created as an inclusive organization open to anyone willing to commit to a program of religious indoctrination and paramilitary training—mostly members of rural communities, urban laborers, students, and provincial tribesmen.32 With the aim of supporting the IRGC in its paramilitary function, the Basij is the stay-behind auxiliary force that would defend the Islamic Republic in case of invasion by a conventional military. Basij militias are locally raised, undergo regular paramilitary training, and are sustained in approximately three thousand local chapters.33 Constituting a decentralized militia organization with more than a million permanent members, the local Basij groups are designed to operate autonomously as partisans, attacking the rear of advancing enemy forces. In a dispersed war of attrition, the Basij forces would rely on numerical superiority and high morale. Swarm tactics would overwhelm militarily superior enemies who would be unable to secure their lines of communication once crossing the border into Iran.34 The IRGC and the Basij were instrumental in the homeland defense in the Iran-Iraq War. With the Islamic Republic ill prepared for a conventional war with a well-equipped military just over a year after the revolution, its paramilitary doctrine was put to the test early on. Without adequate air cover and direct lines of communication between the various services and with a decimated postrevolutionary officer corps, the Iranian military was not ready for the onslaught of Saddam’s military.35 In addition, the United States, as Iran’s most important sponsor under the shah, had shifted its allegiance from Tehran to Baghdad, making it difficult for the Iranian military to acquire spare parts for its equipment. The state of shock that the country was in after the first operational successes of the Iraqi military, however, did not undermine the morale of the Iranian people,

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who responded with unprecedented levels of patriotism. The IRGC as well as the Basij, although malequipped, had no difficulty filling their ranks. Conventional military inferiority on the battlefield had to be compensated with superior numbers and morale—thus, Iran’s asymmetrical strategy was born.36 Some of the core of the pasdaran already had experience with asymmetrical warfare, having fought alongside the PLO and Lebanese resistance movements against Israel in the 1970s. Most of the rank and file had to learn guerrilla tactics on the job. Small platoons of Basij militiamen and pasdaran would operate autonomously from makeshift bases, targeting Iraqi supply lines. The counterattacks against the Iraqi offensive were uncoordinated and almost entirely based on lightly armed, highly mobile infantry. Apart from ambushes and night raids against the enemy’s lines of communication, the IRGC introduced a new tactic: the human-wave attack—an assault by an overwhelming number of men against Iraqi defensive positions that would exhaust the enemy through attrition.37 The numerical superiority and high morale allowed commanders to send entire platoons into nearly certain death in what was World War I−like carnage. Afshon Ostovar cites an Iraqi officer who recalls, “They came at us like a crowd coming out of a Mosque on a Friday. Soon we were firing into dead men, some draped over the barbed wire fences, and others in piles on the ground, having stepped in mines.”38 Shia symbols were used to make this butchery a spiritual experience, providing a more powerful legitimacy to this asymmetrical war than patriotism.39 Ultimately the Iran-Iraq War for many Basij militiamen and pasdaran became a test of religious devotion. As a Basij militiaman remembers, “The war was not about getting Iraq but about getting closer to God.”40 The asymmetrical approach to warfare combined with the power of ideological commitment eventually allowed the Iranian forces to outmaneuver and push back the Iraqi forces. However, apart from harassing and demoralizing the enemy, the asymmetrical strategy rarely generated conclusive outcomes. Homeland defense came at a huge human cost that remains omnipresent in Iranian collective memory today. Yet it consolidated Iran’s strategic reliance on vigilantism, sidelined the professional forces of the military, and gave birth to the major tenets of Iran’s military doctrine.

Iran’s Military Doctrine: Mosaic Defense The Islamic Republic’s military doctrine that arose from the turmoil of the revolution and the consequent traumatic experience of the Iran-Iraq War is founded on a concept of mosaic defense—namely, network warfare of small, agile units that


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operate autonomously from strategic command rather than brigade-level maneuverist warfare. Iran is one of the first nation-states that has prioritized asymmetrical warfare as its primary response to threats from conventionally superior neighbors. Asked about the potential threat of a combined US-Israeli assault on Iran, the deputy IRGC commander, Mojtaba Zonnour, declared in an interview in 2010, “The entire country will become a mosaic of operational areas that does not even leave a safe spot in the desert for the enemy to maneuver.”41 The idea behind this mosaic is a greater decentralization of command and operations and a delegation of warfighting to relatively independent local units. The mosaic relies on sector defense, whereby small, agile forces operate locally instead of contributing to a strategic concentration of forces on the national level.42 Rather than trying to achieve decisive victories in strategic concentrated battles, Iran’s doctrinal approach favors spontaneous paramilitary battles of dispersion without decisive victories. While conventional Western military doctrine seeks to achieve quick, decisive victories, Iran is willing to sustain a state of attritional warfare for an indefinite period with a high degree of strategic patience.43 The IRGC and the Basij play a central role in this mosaic defense (defah-e mozaik) as their forces were designed and trained to sustain battles of attrition against professional military forces. Their decentralized command structure and relative local autonomy allows them to independently execute a wider strategic ideological intent. Combined with tactical innovations such as swarm tactics and human-wave attacks, the numerical superiority of devoted volunteers provides Iran with its most feared operational advantage over conventional militaries. The success of mosaic defense relies on quantity over quality and ideology over professionalism. Superior numbers and high morale boosted by the powerful ideological narrative of the Islamic Revolution provide the backbone of Iran’s unconventional approach to defense. As former prime minister Hussein Musavi commented in 1981, “The power of faith can outmanoeuvre a complicated war machine used by people bereft of sublime religion.”44 Thus, one strength of the Iranian doctrine is its embedment in an ideological narrative that presents any attack on the Islamic Republic as an attack on Shia Islam that needs to be repelled as part of a divine duty. The belief that faith can be more powerful than the combined arms of conventional militaries is an idea that for the regime in Tehran seems to be confirmed by the military successes of its surrogates in the region, as will be discussed later. Mosaic defense, however, does not provide Iran with an effective tool to translate influence into control. The idea of spontaneous battles of dispersion aims at disrupting enemy operations but cannot deliver control over territory or popu-

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lations. Seizing and holding territory through mosaic dispersed operations employing guerrilla tactics appears to be an unattainable goal. Instead, Iran’s military doctrine hopes to spoil enemy operations, demoralizing and decimating enemy willpower and capability over an indefinite period of time.45 Hence, unable to bring about a decisive victory, Iran remains in a constant state of emergency without being able to return to a state of stability. Therefore, Iran’s campfire strategy of exporting the revolution overseas allows the Islamic Republic to retain a degree of stability at home while leaving neighboring countries in a state of constant conflict and attrition by empowering its surrogates.

Expeditionary Warfare by Surrogate Externalizing the burden of warfare to surrogate militias appears to be a natural move by the regime in Tehran. With a grand strategy built around a universal concept of “revolution without borders” and with a security sector prioritizing volunteerism founded on sociocultural vigilantism, keeping threats at arm’s length outside its borders through the employment of nonstate surrogates appears to be a logical doctrinal move. The idea of the campfire strategy—deflecting threats away from Iran’s heartland and confronting the enemy overseas—means that Iran’s strategic defense primarily takes place in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. With Israel and the United States as the declared main adversaries, Iran, well aware of its conventional military inferiority, has developed asymmetrical warfare scenarios that, though unable to strategically weaken these adversaries, can disrupt their actions in Iran’s buffer zones.46 While internally the Basij militias are the last line of defense, the surrogate militias often modeled on the IRGC and the Basij are Iran’s first line of defense. It is these forces that many Western observers and analysts often regard as Iran’s offensive surrogate vanguard trying to aggressively intervene in the domestic affairs of neighboring countries. In reality, however, Iran’s posture is widely defensive, with the aim of foreclosing the occurrence of another fateful invasion into Iranian territory similar to the one in 1981.47 With almost a million Iranian casualties and more than $600 billion worth of damages in Iran, the trauma of the Iran-Iraq War drives Tehran’s defensive strategy of expeditionary surrogate warfare.48 By keeping its worst enemies at bay, bogging them down in attritional, dispersed surrogate battles in neighboring countries, the Islamic Republic hopes that an invasion by a foreign conventional military can be avoided. In its early days, the Islamic Republic’s primary vehicle to export the revolution was the Office of Liberation Movements (OLM), known simply as Movements


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(nezhatha). Mehdi Hashemi and Mohammad Montazeri, two of the most rogue, internationalist revolutionaries rejecting the idea of building an Islamic Republic limited to the borders of Iran, helped create the OLM. Their highly ideological approach, their objection to state control, and their obsession with unconventional, asymmetrical tactics set the agenda of the OLM in 1979. Originally a part of the IRGC, the OLM aimed at catalyzing mostly Shia liberation movements and terrorist cells in the Middle East.49 Separated from the IRGC in 1983, the OLM developed increasingly into a rogue outfit, not just supporting Shia movements overseas but also becoming more and more involved in covert terrorist operations and assassinations that were not sanctioned by the supreme leader. The OLM allegedly channeled explosives and operatives to Saudi Arabia to plan an attack while also trying to assassinate the Syrian chargé d’affaires in Tehran.50 With Khomeini trying to reach out to the United States and the Persian Gulf states amid the ever-costlier war with Iraq, the OLM’s autonomous operations became a liability. Hashemi was ordered back to Tehran in 1986 and executed, bringing the OLM to an end. The experience of the OLM as a semiautonomous organization in charge of surrogate warfare led to the realization that surrogate warfare could no longer be a rogue tool of the Islamic Republic. In the meantime, the IRGC had already set up a replacement for the OLM in 1982: the Quds Force, a paramilitary elite force acting as the IRGC’s de facto external affairs branch. The Quds Force would become a state-sanctioned organization charged with the export of the revolution and the liquidation of opponents domestically and externally. The head of the Quds Force would be on par with the IRGC commander and report directly to the supreme leader, ensuring that surrogate warfare would become an effective tool at the direct disposal and control of Khomeini.51

The Quds Force The mild success of its performance in countering the Iraqi offensive in 1981 increased the IRGC’s confidence in its abilities prompting it to call for the establishment of the Quds Force—a multinational Muslim force organized and trained by the IRGC to liberate Jerusalem. While initially the proposal fell on deaf ears among the ayatollahs during the war with Iraq, the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon made the regime in Tehran rethink the creation of an external affairs arm of the IRGC to tackle Israel head-on in Lebanon.52 At the same time, the IRGC could employ the Quds Force in Iraq to empower or create local surrogate forces

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that would loyally fly the banner of the Islamic Revolution as delegates of Khomeini’s ideological narrative. Neither in Lebanon nor in Iraq, the few hundred guardsmen who would initially make up the Quds Force would engage enemy forces directly. They were supposed to build a web of alliances across the spectrum of disenfranchised Shia communities to raise militias that would allow the Islamic Republic to externalize its burden of warfare. Today the size of the Quds Force is estimated to be between five thousand and fifteen thousand operatives operating across several areas of responsibility that are under the control of different geographical directorates. Apart from the directorate of “Western Countries,” the Quds Force’s most important areas of responsibility are Iraq, Syria, and “Lebanon/Palestine.”53 The Quds Force has been instrumental in • • • •

the setup of Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1982 to fight Israel,54 the foundation of the Badr Corps in Iraq in 1983 to take on Saddam,55 the formation of Kata’ib Hezbollah in Iraq in 2003, the consolidation of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Jaish al-Mahdi in Iraq 2005 to challenge the US-led coalition,56 • the establishment of the Syrian People’s Army (Jaish al-Shabi) to contain the Syrian opposition,57 and • the creation of the PMU in Iraq 2014 to counter ISIS.58

In so doing, the Quds Force reaches back to the extensive combined expertise and experience of the IRGC and the Basij as unconventionally fighting ideological militias. Most Quds operatives do not operate in uniform but as plainclothes officers based in Iranian embassies. The organization runs training camps overseas in Lebanon, Syria, and formerly Sudan, and at home in Iran, preparing its surrogates for guerrilla and terrorist operations.59 It controls a range of intermediaries who help it provide its operatives and surrogates overseas with financial support, equipment, and arms. In the West, the Quds Force has often been referred to as a vehicle for statesponsored terrorism.60 In conservative counterterrorist circles, the Quds Force is believed to have “a well-deserved reputation for being the most organized, disciplined, and violent terrorist organization in the world.”61 Particularly in the United States, whose operations in Iraq after 2003 had been severely impacted by the disruptive activities of Iranian surrogates, the view that the Quds Force is a terrorist organization is widespread—causing the George W. Bush administration in 2007 and the Donald Trump administration ten years later to designate it, among other Iranian institutions, a proliferator and supporter of terrorism.62 But by simply labeling the Quds Force a terrorist organization, one may fail to


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understand its complexity within the strategic framework of the Islamic Republic. While the Quds Force has funded terrorist activities in the past, terrorism is only a niche capability of the force.63 From an Iranian point of view, the Quds Force is an essential part of its campfire strategy, exporting hostilities to neighboring countries in an effort to discourage designated enemies from fighting on Iran’s own soil. Therefore, as Tabatabai highlights, the Quds Force is at the forefront of Iranian counterterrorism efforts, containing the spread of ISIS in Iraq and Syria since 2014.64 The Quds Force’s strategy of relying on surrogate militia forces may have actually fueled insurgency and destabilized both countries further, which, according to Yaakov Katz and Yoaz Hendel, is another of the Quds Force’s primary objectives. By destabilizing neighboring states and undermining their legitimacy, Iran can create conducive conditions and the freedom to maneuver to execute its surrogate warfare policy.65 Surrogate Selection Iran as a country founded on a messianic ideology would be expected to select its surrogates based on ideological and sectarian loyalty. However, Iran is politically torn between ideological hard-liners and those propagating a more pragmatist approach to foreign and security policy. On the whole, despite a strong, ideologically driven rhetoric, Iran and the IRGC as its primary ideological organization have proven to develop increasingly into pragmatic actors, making decisions based on realpolitik rather than religious dogma.66 David Menashri argues that since the end of the 1980s “ideology was subordinated to interests and actual policy succeeded somehow in combining the early ideological conviction with a healthy dose of regard for national interests. With few exceptions . . . state interests ultimately have superseded revolutionary dogma in both foreign relations and domestic politics.”67 Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, the IRGC has tried to distance itself from the image of being solely a sectarian actor and supporting exclusively sectarian groups. In particular, Qasem Soleimani, the infamous commander of the Quds Force, has tried to counter these allegations by posing with Christians, Kurds, and Sunni Arabs in both Syria and Iraq.68 Despite the fact that the vast majority of surrogates trained, equipped, and financed by the Quds Force are from Shia communities and groups mainly across the Middle East, Soleimani has proven to be highly pragmatist in his approach to selecting viable surrogates. For the protection of Iranian national interests, particularly the containment of the jihadist threat and the survival of the Bashar al-Assad regime, the Quds Force has supported a diverse range of groups, such as Christian and Alawite volunteers in

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Syria and Kurdish peshmerga forces in Northern Iraq.69 The ideological crusade against Israel even seems to justify the support of Sunni Islamist groups such as Hamas in Gaza.70 In the “axis of resistance” that Iran considers to be Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine,71 the Quds Force has partnered with groups whose strategic interests overlap with those of the Islamic Republic. In so doing, Iran and the Quds Force have pursued a pragmatist agenda: While Shia groups are more prone to ideological franchising and are therefore often the preferred partner, the Quds Force, when necessary, has displayed an approach that resembles the old Sanskrit idiom of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” The Islamic Revolution’s narrative of fighting for the liberation of the oppressed thereby merely serves as a legitimizing cover to advance Iranian strategic and operational interests. Unlike other patrons, Iran has rarely relied on existing paramilitary groups to externalize its burden of strategic defense. For the most part, the IRGC and the Quds Force have invested in creating franchises that resemble their patron’s command-and-control structure and tactics. The two most prominent early examples of IRGC franchises created overseas are the Badr Corps in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1982. Both organizations were modeled on the IRGC as a sociomilitary organization with a paramilitary wing that had extensive communal support.72 Similarly to the IRGC in Iran, communal support was achieved through social programs, cultural activities, and economic power—all embedded in a powerful Shia Islamist narrative. In Iraq, the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq functioned as the sociopolitical umbrella for the Badr Corps, which was trained and equipped in Iran before being funneled back across the border. The nexus between local communal activism and militias would guarantee the surrogate’s long-term survival in what was envisioned to be long asymmetrical conflicts. Iran has also invested in the creation of smaller paramilitary outfits such as Kata’ib Hezbollah, an elite Shia paramilitary group in Iraq modeled on the Quds Force and founded by a senior Badr Corps operative with links to Soleimani. Again, the IRGC’s guerrilla tactics and experience of using explosives provided the blueprint for Kata’ib Hezbollah in 2007.73 Equally successful are the IRGC’s militia franchises modeled on the Basij. In recent years, the Quds Force has increasingly flown in Basij commanders to Syria and Iraq to help set up local communal militia groups able to fight against jihadists. As predominantly locally raised forces defending local territory, Basij franchises in Syria and Iraq rely on the expertise of the Iranian “mobilization” force in creating strong civil-militia bonds.74 These provincial units have similarly loose, decentralized command structures and are trained in the basics of urban combat. The Quds Force relies on thousands of Basij militiamen to conduct the training of


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these people’s forces, often dubbed the Syrian or Iraqi Basij.75 In Syria the Ja’esh al-Shabi, or People’s Army, has developed into the backbone of the Assad regime’s forces, with more than 42 groups and 128 local units across the country, consisting mostly of loyal Shia, Alawite, or Christian volunteers.76 Faced with the ISIS offensive in Iraq in 2014, the Quds Force transferred the model to Mesopotamia, creating the Iraqi version of the Basij, the so-called Hashd al-Shabi, or PMU. Here, most recruits were volunteers from Shia communities ready to protect their local communities from the jihadist peril—a well-established bogeyman. Trained, equipped, and paid directly by Iran, most of these militias initially did not answer to the central government in Iraq but to the Quds Force commander.77 Other Iranian surrogate franchises such as the al-Abbas Brigade, raised to protect the shrine of Sayyida Zaynab in Syria, are entirely sectarian forces. Here Iran is recruiting Shia volunteers from across the Middle East to protect a holy site important in Shia Islam from the onslaught of Sunni Arab anti-Assad militias. Based on a religious narrative of the defense of Shiism from infidels, volunteers from Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and even Afghanistan are being trained and paid by the Basij and Hezbollah fighters to execute an essential religious duty.78 In the meantime, Afghan volunteers have also been deployed to operate alongside local Jaiesh al-Shabi across Syria. Moreover, the Quds Force has also worked with nonfranchise surrogates—that is, surrogates who were not created by Iran as proxies but autonomous movements or militias groups. Groups such as Hamas (a Sunni Islamist paramilitary group in Palestine), the Houthi militia (a Zaidi-Shia movement in northern Yemen), and the Shia militia Jaish al-Mahdi, run by the cleric Sadr in Iraq after 2005, have been selected as surrogates when they display a considerable overlap of interests with the Islamic Republic. Hamas, which has emerged from Muslim Brotherhood circles in Palestine and Egypt, has long been the most effective force outside Hezbollah to take on the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). As a Sunni Islamist group, Hamas does not have any direct ideological link with the concept of the Islamic Revolution beyond the demonization of Israel. After losing support from the Assad regime in 2006, Hamas had to look for support elsewhere, and Iran saw an opportunity to make the Islamist group its surrogate on its front against Israel.79 In line with its grand strategic vision to liberate the oppressed, Iran has employed the Quds Force to organize the training, logistical support (arms and equipment), and financial support of Hamas militants in their operations against Israel.80 Iran’s support for Jaish al-Mahdi saw the Islamic Republic partnering with an external Shia movement in Iraq—a movement that, albeit ideologically embedded in Shiism, had only theological ties to the clerical tradition of Qom in Iran. Sadr,

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himself the offspring of a prominent Shia clerical family, had set up the militias in resistance to the provisional authority created by the US-led coalition after the invasion of 2003. Iran saw an opportunity to consolidate its leverage over Shiites in neighboring Iraq while weakening the coalition’s hold on the country. Quds Force operatives channeled explosives, detonators, and money to Jaish al-Mahdi while training militiamen in urban combat in Iraq and Iran.81 Another extraordinary Iranian nonfranchise surrogate has been the Houthi movement in northern Yemen. The political-religious movement emerged in the 1990s within disenfranchised communities of Zaidi Shiites defying the political status quo and calling on the creation of a Zaidi imamate. As such, despite sectarian connotations, the Houthi movement did not have any natural ideological links with the concept of the Islamic Republic, so allegations that the Houthis are an external creation of the IRGC have to be rejected as false.82 In fact, the IRGC and the Quds Force arrived in Yemen only after the movement had already taken over the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, in 2014, recognizing the Houthis’ potential as a means to disrupt Saudi influence in the country.83 Without any substantial ideological links between the movement and the regime in Tehran, it was the declared aim of the Houthis to challenge the regional status quo of US-backed Saudi dominance that made the movement look like an attractive partner for Iran.84 Despite the fact that Iran supplied the militants with arms and training while financially supporting them in their humanitarian endeavors, Iran’s commitment to the Houthis remains relatively limited.85 Finally, the Quds Force occasionally establishes liaisons with private individuals and groups that act as conduits for its terrorist operations. At the height of the nuclear crisis in 2011, when an Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated on the streets of Tehran and the IAEA started to suggest that Iran’s nuclear program had military dimensions, the Quds Force, and particularly its specialist Unit 400, looked for Western targets it could eliminate overseas. Several assassinations and bombing attempts against Western and Arab diplomats were attempted via private middlemen, who at times would rely on hit men to execute their missions. These surrogates were neither always Shia nor did they necessarily believe in the cause of the Islamic Revolution, being hired as henchmen in exchange for money.86 Levels of Support In this chapter we will look at the different levels of support Iran provides to its surrogates and differentiate between support on the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.


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Strategic Support

On the strategic level, the ideological dimension is the most essential aspect to be nourished in an effort to consolidate ideological integration between the narratives of the Islamic Revolution and the local efforts of the surrogates. Particularly when establishing franchise surrogates within Shia communities, the initial step of Iranian surrogate warfare has been ideological indoctrination that prepares the ground for more extensive military and financial support. The experience of unsustainable patron-surrogate relations between the Islamic Republic and the secular Palestinian Fatah in Lebanon in the early 1980s illustrated to the IRGC the importance of religious and ideological compatibility between sponsor and delegate. Therefore, target communities are prepared for force partnering with the Quds Force by participating in courses and seminars organized by Iranian clerics.87 The Quds Force can thereby rely on more than eighteen thousand mullahs who are employed by the IRGC as an ideological vanguard that can be deployed overseas.88 In the case of setting up Hezbollah after 1982, the pasdaran flew in several mullahs to conduct religious-training courses alongside the military trainers of the IRGC.89 In other instances, surrogates are flown to Iran to receive ideological training in the Quds Force’s own training camp in northern Tehran.90 The Hezbollah model of tapping into a local community and raising a community-based militia force still serves as a point of reference for contemporary Iranian surrogate franchising. Apart from adopting a similar organizational and command-and-control structure for Hezbollah, Iranian surrogates are locally raised and embedded within local community structures. Similar to the Basij militias in Iran, surrogate forces operate in their home regions and maintain a population-centric posture.91 Once established, the Quds Force prepares its surrogates logistically for the reception of financial and material support. Despite the elaborate sanctions regime established by the international community against Iran, the Islamic Republic has still been able to provide its surrogate forces with billions of dollars’ worth of financial and material aid annually. It is impossible to ascertain how much aid Iran is able to provide, considering that funds are being transferred via obscure channels involving businesses and corporations owned by the IRGC and financial institutions overseas that act as intermediaries. Estimates of the costs of Iranian surrogate warfare over the past three decades range between $20 billion and $80 billion in total, with individual surrogates such as Hezbollah or Syrian surrogate franchises receiving several hundred million dollars a year.92 The Quds Force can rely on an extensive network of charitable trusts called bonyads and clerics who raise donations locally across the Shia world.93 Apart from raising funds, these networks can also be used to redistribute funds from one

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locality to another. Even the collected khums, a religious tax paid by Shia communities to local sources of emulation, grand ayatollahs, have been used to fund surrogate operations overseas.94 Apart from using regular state-owned banks such as the Melli Bank to channel funds overseas,95 the Quds Force can use resources made available via intermediary banks overseas. Well documented is the fact that the Iranian Central Bank uses the Chinese Kunlun Bank to process Iran’s income from hydrocarbon sales—earnings that are being made available to the Quds Force through a bank account in China.96 Moreover, the Quds Force has been able to exploit the wide-reaching overseas business ties of the IRGC’s extensive industrial complex to smuggle material and financial aid across the border, despite existing sanctions.97 Matériel, most importantly small arms, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and ammunition, is flown by Mahan Air or Yas Air on cargo and regular passenger planes, disguised as humanitarian aid from Iran to Iraq, Syria, or Yemen.98 Supplies going to surrogates in Syria and Lebanon are flown to Damascus and distributed via trucks to the relevant recipients. Even long- and mid-range missiles destined for Hezbollah in southern Lebanon are being shipped via the land route from Damascus across the border.99 Arms, ammunition, and explosive devices have been smuggled via land across the porous border between Iraq and Iran, making the resupply of Iraqi surrogates a relatively simple task. Larger shipments of weapons have been transshipped via Port Sudan to Hodeida in Yemen, Gaza City, Beirut, or Tartous in Syria. Allegations have also been raised that the Quds Force built a factory in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, that produces small arms that are smuggled by the local Islamist group National Islamic Front via Egypt and the Sinai to Gaza in support of Hamas.100 In other instances, larger shiploads of arms and ammunition have been transferred to smaller vessels and skiffs in northern Somalia or Port Sudan to be shipped across the Bab al-Mandab strait to Yemen in support of Houthi rebels.101 Operational Support

The most significant contribution of the Quds Force to its surrogates’ operations has been training education and advice provided by operatives in Arabic to surrogate forces locally or in the various training camps run by the IRGC in Iran. Some training camps specialize in recruits from particular backgrounds: Kurds are trained in different camps in Iran than Afghans, Tajiks, or Arabs from Iraq, Syria, or Lebanon.102 The expertise of the IRGC to conduct training and education across a spectrum of different ideological and military studies is founded on the training experience of the early pasdaran, who were trained by the PLO and


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Fatah in the 1970s. Their combined experience in unconventional warfare was first applied and tested during the creation of Hezbollah in 1982. With Syrian support, fifteen hundred IRGC operatives established a small training facility in the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, where initially three hundred Shia militants were trained and ideologically indoctrinated to serve as future trainers. Eventually Hezbollah developed its own training scheme, which, although supervised and monitored by IRGC commanders, became increasingly autarkic in the generation of recruits and trainers. Today IRGC prides itself on having indirectly trained more than a hundred thousand Hezbollah volunteers in the past three decades via this selfpropelling scheme.103 Now Hezbollah instructors are being directly employed by the Quds Force to train surrogates in Syria and Iraq. Depending on the training and education requirements, the Quds Force employs IRGC, Basij, or its own SOF trainers. Most courses for Syrian and Iraqi militias last two weeks and provide recruits with the tactical basics required in urban combat or rural guerrilla warfare. The combined expertise of the IRGC, the Basij, and Hezbollah in night combat, ambushing, and swarm tactics provides trainers with an extensive pool of operational and tactical skills that can be transferred to recruits.104 Specialist courses for sniping, antiair, and antidissident operations are being provided by experts in the field. The Quds Force’s portfolio of terrorism and sabotage enables its specialists to train smaller teams in the construction and use of improvised explosive devices against armored vehicles and soft targets.105 Apart from tactical training, Quds Force operatives seem to assign a lot of importance to educating surrogate recruits on the moral principles of war, ensuring that surrogates do not alienate local populations. Reuters cites a young Christian militia recruit in Syria: “On our first day of training, the Iranian officer overseeing our course said, ‘I know exactly what is going on in Syria and want to tell you one thing: If you joined the National Defence Army for looting and not to defend your country, you will die an ugly death and go to hell.’”106 Apart from ensuring that tactical combat teams would operate effectively and somewhat ethically, Quds Force operatives, embedded in the surrogate’s chains of command, provide maneuver advice and operational direction.107 As such, the Quds Force is often involved in operational planning based on intelligence gathered by Iranian manned and unmanned aircraft.108 Human intelligence, surveillance, target-acquisition, and reconnaissance data provide Iranian surrogates with an immense operational advantage over other nonstate actors. In the fight against ISIS, the Quds Force’s intelligence support to local militias has proven to be a game changer, providing Iran’s surrogates with a military advantage over the jihadists.109 Particularly Iran’s superior firepower delivered from the air or by artillery

Iran’s Externalization of Strategic Defense 185

has become an important force multiplier for its surrogates. Coordinating fire support and delivering direct combat support in the fight against ISIS, the Quds Force has covered the entire spectrum of surrogate support, from training and equipping to operational direction to direct combat support.110 Tactical Support

On the tactical level, the Quds Force’s support for its surrogates very often goes beyond direction, advice, or mere combat support. Evidence from social media suggests that Quds Force and Basij operatives have a combat mission of their own, embedding with tactical surrogate teams to directly engage in hostilities.111 Some of the most pressing evidence of the Quds Force’s tactical involvement in combat can be seen in clips shot by IRGC filmmaker Hadi Baghbani that were seized by Syrian opposition forces in 2013 and released to the British Broadcasting Corporation. The BBC’s documentary “Iran’s Secret Army,” drawing on this raw material, clearly shows how the Quds Force operates on the tactical level in partnership with Basij-type surrogates. Apart from training exercises and reconnaissance missions identifying targets for the surrogates, the Quds Force commanders guide locally raised surrogate platoons to the target, engaging in direct combat with Syrian opposition forces. More sophisticated activities, such as reconnaissance, planting roadside bombs, and laying mines, are conducted by skilled Quds Force operatives while surrogate forces act as mere infantry in guerrilla warfare operations.112 In so doing, particularly surrogate forces modeled on the Basij militia seem to be dependent on the command and leadership skills of Quds Force commanders and have little tactical autonomy. IRGC franchises such as Hezbollah, the Badr Corps, and Kata’ib Hezbollah, on the contrary, display a high degree of autonomy and require little direct tactical support from IRGC or Quds Force operatives, as will be discussed in the section below. Control versus Autonomy The surrogate wars of the Islamic Republic are in many ways dissimilar to those fought by the West in that the relationship between principal and agent, or patron and surrogate is much more transformational than transactional in nature. While most patrons achieve surrogate compliance with strategic and operational objectives through a transactional system of rewards and punishments, the Islamic Republic has found a more transformational approach to managing its relationship with surrogates. That is to say, through means of intellectual and ideological inspiration, Iran has achieved almost unprecedented levels of control, particularly


Chapter 7

over its franchise surrogates.113 Despite the fact that transactional components of material support to surrogates play an important role, Iran has, through the Quds Force, been able to create loyal armies of surrogates who willingly internalize the universalist ideological narrative of the Islamic Revolution. As a consequence, the trade-off between autonomy and control, whereby the patron seeks to maximize control while the surrogate seeks to maximize autonomy, appears to be less of an issue in most of the patron-surrogate relationships Iran is managing. Key to the transformational character of surrogate control is the ideological dimension that the Islamic Republic exploits with most of its surrogates, although exceptions might be the relationships with Hamas and the Houthi movement. Yet the overlap of Iran’s strategic interests with the fundamental interests of Hamas and the Houthis guarantees a certain degree of surrogate compliance on the strategic level. Considering that Iran is predominantly concerned with disruption and less with the actual achievement of tangible objectives in both Palestine and Yemen, the ways and means both surrogates intend to employ is of lesser concern. The most important guarantor for Iran’s transformational impact has been its reliance on the ideological narrative of the Islamic Revolution providing surrogates with a strategic vision legitimizing their actions and activities as clients of the supreme leader. Iran has carefully constructed its image as the divine agent of the oppressed and disenfranchised that, through promoting the Islamic Revolution, aims to create a universal vilayat-e faqih—an image that resonates well particularly with disenfranchised Shia communities. Thereby, perceiving their contribution as an essential part of establishing a universal supreme clerical rule, Iranian surrogates do not regard themselves as agents of a foreign, Iranian agenda but as an organic component of the revolution. The Islamic Republic’s ideological rhetoric about protecting the Prophet’s family from the onslaught of jihadist unbelievers disguises Iran’s pragmatic agenda that to a great extent is defined by the pursuit of strategic interests.114 Surrogates are provided with a genuine sense of belonging and identity that appears to exceed realist notions of interests.115 Maxims such as “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” might apply to Iran’s relationship with Hamas but appear alien to its relationships with its franchise surrogate outfits. The depth of the strategic relationship between patron and surrogate achieved through the grand strategic integration of the surrogate into the ideological narrative of the Islamic Revolution is further nourished by the strategic organizational ties between the Islamic Republic’s state organs and surrogates. The fact that Iran has been instrumental in either establishing or consolidating most of its surrogates helps in maintaining an extensive leverage of these organizations. The raison d’être of most IRGC or Basij franchises managed by the Quds

Iran’s Externalization of Strategic Defense 187

Force is inextricably linked to the constitutive narrative of the revolution and the survival of the Islamic Republic. Modeled on Iranian state organs, its franchise surrogates do not experience a clash of organizational cultures, because those intermediaries with which surrogates cooperate, such as the Quds Force, are themselves semiprofessional organizations that rely on vigilantism. As such, the franchise surrogates almost operate as de facto state organs, less in a legal than much more in a spiritual sense. The intellectual, ideological, and organizational alignment of interests, objectives, and means on the strategic level makes it difficult to disconnect the likes of Hezbollah or the Badr Corps from Iranian chains of command. The relationship between Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic, for example, has gone beyond those of other patron-surrogate relationships, establishing a symbiosis of mutual dependency.116 Even sociopolitical actors such as Hezbollah who are able to generate their own domestic income through donations and taxes have developed a long-term dependency on sponsor funding and material support.117 With hundreds of millions of dollars being disbursed annually to Hezbollah, the Iraqi PMUs, and the Syrian Jaish al-Shabi, an Iranian withdrawal of support would undermine the ability of these groups to pay their fighters or acquire appropriate equipment and arms.118 However, it would be overstated to declare Hezbollah or all of the Iraqi PMUs to be obedient followers of the Islamic Republic. Iran has always assigned great importance to their surrogates’ local identity. In fact, Iran has created surrogates that merge the universalist ideology of the Islamic Revolution with local communal grievances. Iranian surrogates such as Hezbollah, Jaish al-Shabi, Shia militias in the Iraqi PMUs, the Badr Corps, and Kata’ib Hezbollah have acted as alternative communal security providers to the state. Thereby, these surrogates have built public legitimacy with local communities that felt disenfranchised by central government authority. Consequently, Hezbollah members do not see themselves as mere agents of Iran but highlight the Lebanese and Arab character of the organization that, although proud to be allied with the Islamic Republic, retains autonomy in local decision-making.119 Also, many PMU militias reject the idea of establishing an Iranian satellite entity within Iraq. Instead, although Iranian surrogates fight under the banner of the Islamic Revolution, Iranian strategic control does not amount to effective bondage.120 Hence, while Iran is able to enhance the sustainability of its surrogates through tight communal relations, this policy provides the surrogate with levels of autonomy that balance Tehran’s effective strategic control. On the operational level, Iran retains a considerable degree of control, depending on the presence of Quds Force or other IRGC advisers. While, for example, Hezbollah plans and executes military operations effectively with only occasional


Chapter 7

Quds Force advice, other groups, such as the Jaish al-Shabi and some of the PMUs, cannot properly function without the direction and control of Quds Force operatives providing everything from precombat planning and intelligence gathering to direct combat support services.121 But the Syrian government has also received considerable operational advice and direction in antidissidence operations during the early stages of the uprising in 2011, whereby Quds Force specialists provided training and direction into how to quell political protests.122 In Iraq, Iran’s operational control takes a more formalized route with the IRGC, Quds Force representatives, and intelligence specialists being deployed in every Shia-majority province to advise local governors.123 Also, despite PMUs’ de jure integration into the Iraqi chain of command, their operations remain widely under the operational control of the Quds Force. Although the PMUs remain officially under the control of the Iraqi National Security Advisory, which reports to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, individuals such as Hadi al-Ameri, head of the Badr Corps,124 and Abu Mahdi alMuhandes, head of Kata’ib Hezbollah, act as de facto heads of the PMU committee outside the prime minister’s control.125 Both have blurry affiliations with the Quds Force and have a long history working alongside Quds Force commander Soleimani. Their placement in key positions in the PMU leadership and their various visits to the battlefield together with Soleimani suggest that Iran’s operational control over PMU operational planning and implementation remains strong. On the tactical level, the Quds Force’s effective control over surrogates seems to vary as well. In many instances, Quds Force operatives embed with local forces, not only providing operational advice but also directly engaging in combat. In these situations of tactical control, when surrogates operate under direct direction of Quds Force commanders, surrogates act as de facto and de jure Iranian state organs. Despite the fact that the Quds Force seems to highlight ethical and moral behavior in their training programs, many human rights abuses conducted by the PMUs or the Jaish al-Shabi against sectarian outsiders seem to have occurred under the Quds Force’s watch. After all, Iran’s efforts to diminish its image as a sectarian force have been widely unsuccessful, considering that the narratives and symbols employed in the fight against ISIS are closely linked to Shiism and the ideology of the Islamic Revolution.126

Conclusion As a country haunted by security paranoia and a profound inferiority complex, the Islamic Republic of Iran has since its foundation in 1979 tried to find

Iran’s Externalization of Strategic Defense 189

unconventional means to secure its survival. Therefore, its posture has been atypical for a state: Instead of relying on a professional military force able to either provide strategic defense or an expeditionary capability, Iran has relied on vigilantism and religious rhetoric to create a decentralized, unprofessional army of volunteers almost autonomously employing asymmetrical warfare domestically and overseas to achieve its objectives. A constitutive part of this strategy of decentralization and delegation has been the reliance on surrogates who, created, trained, and equipped through Iranian conduits, operate as the vanguard of the internationalist ideological narrative of the Islamic Revolution. At the heart of Iranian surrogate operations stands the IRGC, and its Quds Force in particular, as organizations with almost forty years of experience in surrogate warfare. The pasdaran, the Basij, and the Quds Force have developed into the center of gravity of the Islamic Republic’s strategic defense. Contrary to most arguments raised in the literature, Iran’s externalization of the burden of warfare to surrogates is not limited to conflicts of marginal interests overseas. Much more, it has become the standard modus operandi for Iran to ensure the very defense of its sovereignty, territoriality, and ideology. Tehran’s campfire strategy tries to externalize strategic defense to neighboring countries in an effort to commit strategic enemies—such as the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia—to engaging in hostilities outside the borders of Iran. That is to say, as much as surrogate warfare serves the ideological purpose of exporting the revolution in support of all Muslims, there is a very pragmatic, interests-related dimension to such warfare by delegate. By bogging down its declared enemies in overseas territories, Iran is provided with a freedom to maneuver internally. Surrogate warfare helps to soothe the Islamic Republic’s security paranoia. Nonetheless, Iran has not been successful in really translating its influence in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, or Yemen into a tangible power to control. Surrogate operations have had a disruptive impact in these countries Iran has invested in. Hezbollah has become the champion of Shia communities, pushing out Israel from Lebanon after decades of disenfranchisement and oppression. Shia militias in Syria, supported by Russian airpower, have been able to protect minority communities from the onslaught of Salafi jihadist groups while ensuring that the Assad regime does not fall. In Iraq, the PMUs have been instrumental to the defeat of ISIS and the protection of Shia shrines. Hamas’s constant rocket fire from the Gaza Strip has kept the IDF busy. Also, in Yemen, the Houthi rebels have tied down Saudi Arabia and the UAE to a costly military operation. However, except for possibly Hezbollah, most Iranian surrogates have been unable to seize, hold, and control territory in the long run. But that is not their purpose.


Chapter 7

Hence, rather than actually exporting the revolution and creating a new sociopolitical entity modeled along the lines of the Islamic Republic, Iranian surrogate warfare has been limited to ensuring the country’s strategic defense—a task surrogates have helped to achieve successfully. The experience of the IRGC and the Quds Force in nurturing surrogate communities overseas under the grand strategic ideological umbrella of the Islamic Revolution has been transformative in the Middle East, making Iran more successful in force partnering than any Western or Arab state. The key component of this disruptive impact is a clear ideological vision, effective intermediary organizations, and the readiness to grant surrogates a certain degree of autonomy. The Islamic Republic’s expertise in building franchise organizations mostly within sectarian in-groups and under clear ideological guidance has developed into its most effective military capability.


1. Filkins, “Shadow Commander.” 2. Takey, Guardians of the Revolution, 15. 3. Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam, 103. 4. Wehrey et al., Rise of the Pasdaran, 19–21. 5. Der Spiegel, “Israel, Iran and the Battle for the Bomb.” 6. Reuters, “Export Revolution, Iran President Urges,” Globe and Mail, February 5, 1980. 7. “Constitution of the Islamic Republic.” 8. Takey, Guardians of the Revolution, 25. 9. Rezun, “Pariah Syndrome,” 76. 10. Wehrey et al., Rise“Surrogate of the Pasdaran, 21. Krieg, Warfare” 11. Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam, 61. rrogate Warfare” New text 12. Ostovar, 106. 13. Stratfor, “Iranian Intelligence and Regime Preservation.” 190, note 15: 14. Tabatabai, p. “Other Side of the Iranian Coin,” 23. e 15: 15. Khamenei, .‫حرم‬ ‫تانایب‬ ‫شهدای رد‬ ‫‌هداوناخ رادید‬ ‫یادهش یاه‬ ‫ریت ومتفه‬ ‫یعمج و‬ ‫های زا‬ ‫‌هداوناخ‬ ‫یادهش یاه‬ ‫مدافع‬ ‫خانوادههای‬ ‫جمعی از‬ ‫هفتم تیر‬ ‫شهدای‬ ‫خانواده‬ ‫بیانات در دیدار‬ ‫ رح‬. “Takfiris” is the term used to describe Muslims who accuse other Muslims ‫عفادم دیدار خانوادههای شهدای هفتم تیر و جمعی از خانوادههای شهدای م‬ ‫بیانات در‬ of apostasy and is most commonly used to describe Salafi jihadists or Wahhabists. p. 191, note 23: 16. Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam, 103. e 23: ‫خوزستان است‬ ‫جای‬ ‫سوریه به‬ ‫نگهداری‬ 17. Ataie, “Revolutionary Iran’s 1979 Endeavor,” 139.‫ اولویت ما‬:‫رئیس قرارگاه عمار‬ ‫ اولویت ما نگهداری سوریه به جای خوز‬:‫ رئیس قرارگاه عمار‬18. Azani, Hezbollah, 236. 19. Azani, 236.p. 191, note 41: 20. Wehrey et al., Rise of the Pasdaran, 24. e 41: ‫ایران دو استراتژی دفاعی دارد؛ سرزمینی و موزاییکی‬ 21. King Abdullah II of Jordan, interview by Chris Matthews. ‫ایران دو استراتژی دفاعی دارد؛ سرزمینی و‬ 22. Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam, 205.

Also, the equation is missing on p. 73. Please insert in the paragraph following the subheading, after “demonstrate the linkage between them:” It should be on its own line. quation is missing on p. 73. Please insert in the paragraph following the subheading, onstrate the linkage between them:” It should be on its own line. (urgency − costs) − capability + deniability + legitimacy = propensity to use surrogates − costs) − capability + deniability + legitimacy = propensity to use surrogates

Krieg, “Surrogate Warfare” New text p. 190, note 15:

.‫بیانات در دیدار خانوادههای شهدای هفتم تیر و جمعی از خانوادههای شهدای مدافع حرم‬

Iran’s Externalization of Strategic Defense 191

p. 191, note 23:

23. BBC Persian, ‫است‬  ‫ اولویت ما نگهداری سوریه به جای خوزستان‬:‫ رئیس قرارگاه عمار‬. 24. Wehrey et al., Rise of the Pasdaran, 25. 25. Arjomand, Turban for the Crown, 126. p. 191, note 41: 26. Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam, 42. ‫سرزمینی و‬Iranian ‫ دارد؛‬Military ‫استراتژی دفاعی‬ ‫ ایران‬Republic, 67. 27. Schahgaldian ‫موزاییکی‬ and Barkhordarian, under the‫دو‬Islamic 28. Zabih, Iranian Military in Revolution and War, 210. Krieg, “Surrogate Warfare” 29. Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam, 12. Also, the equation is missing on p. 73. Please insert in the paragraph following the subheading, New Risetext of the Pasdaran, 25. 30. Wehrey et al., after “demonstrate the linkage between them:” It should be on its own line. 31. Cordesman and(urgency Kleiber,−Iran’s Military Forces, 81. costs) − capability + deniability + legitimacy = propensity to use surrogates Rise of the Pasdaran, 44. 32. Wehrey et al., p. 190, note 15: 33. Cordesman and Kleiber, Iran’s Military Forces, 76. .‫بیانات در دیدار خانوادههای شهدای هفتم تیر و جمعی از خانوادههای شهدای مدافع حرم‬ 34. Cordesman and Kleiber, 76. 35. Razoux, Iran-Iraq War, 21. p. Rise 191, of note the23: Pasdaran, 95. 36. Wehrey et al., 37. O’Balance, Gulf ‫است‬War. ‫ اولویت ما نگهداری سوریه به جای خوزستان‬:‫رئیس قرارگاه عمار‬ 38. Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam, 76. 39. Ostovar, 77. 191, note 41: 40. Murray and p. Woods, Iran-Iraq War, 75. 41. FardaNews, ‫ ایران دو استراتژی دفاعی دارد؛ سرزمینی و موزاییکی‬. 42. Haghshenass, “Iran’s Asymmetric Naval Warfare,” 19. 43. Wehrey et al., Rise of the Pasdaran, 45. Also, the equation is missing on p. 73. Please insert in the paragraph following the subheading, 44. Takey, Guardians of the Revolution, 90. between them:” It should be on its own line. after “demonstrate the linkage 45. Cordesman and Kleiber, Iran’s Military Forces, 203. (urgency − costs) − capability + deniability + legitimacy = propensity to use surrogates 46. Olsen, “Iran’s Path Dependent Military Doctrine,” 69. 47. Capaccio, “Iran Speaks More Softly”; Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, “Rouhani Describes Iranian Military Doctrine.” 48. Hiro, Longest War, 251. 49. Rubin, “Revolutionary Guards a Rogue Outfit?,” 40. 50. O’Hern, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, 71. 51. Buchta, Who Rules Iran?, 69. 52. Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam, 109. 53. Cordesman and Kleiber, Iran’s Military Forces, 79. 54. Norton, Hezbollah, 119. 55. Cordesman and Kleiber, Iran’s Military Forces, 206. 56. Wigginton et al., “Al-Qods Force,” 155. 57. Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam, 210. 58. Ostovar, 224. 59. Cordesman, Military Balance in Middle East, 265. 60. Levitt, Hizballah and the Quds Force, 1; Wigginton et al., “Al-Qods Force,” 153. 61. Baer, Devil We Know, 65. 62. United States Department of the Treasury, Iran Designations Identifier Information.


Chapter 7

63. Levitt, Hizballah and the Quds Force. 64. Tabatabai, “Other Side of the Iranian Coin,” 12. 65. Yaakov Katz and Yoaz Hendel, Israel vs. Iran, 156–57. 66. Milani, “Iran’s Gulf Policy,” 90. 67. Menashri, “Iran’s Regional Policy,” 155. 68. Tabatabai, “Other Side of the Iranian Coin,” 21. 69. Collard, “Enemy of My Enemy.” 70. Ben-David, “Iranian Influence Looms.” 71. Middle East Monitor, “Iran Announces.” 72. Avon and Khatchadourian, Hezbollah, 25. 73. Deghhanpishe, “Special Report.” 74. Wehrey et al., Rise of the Pasdaran, 65. 75. Reuters, “Insight: Syrian Government Guerrilla Fighters.” 76. Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam, 211. 77. A. Qaiddari, “Comparing Iraq’s Shiite Forces to Iran’s Basij,” Al-Monitor, May 11, 2015. 78. Mona Mahmood and Martin Chulov, “Syrian War Widens Sunni-Shia Schism as Foreign Jihadis Join Fight for Shrines,” The Guardian, June 4, 2013. 79. Ben-David, “Iranian Influence Looms.” 80. Levitt, Hamas, 172. 81. Katzman, Iran’s Activities and Influence in Iraq, 2. 82. Salmoni, Loidolt, and Wells, Regime and Periphery in Northern Yemen, 176. 83. Thomas Juneau, “No, Yemen’s Houthis Actually Aren’t Iranian Puppets,” Washington Post, May 16, 2016. 84. Juneau, “Iran’s Policy towards Houthis,” 649. 85. Transfeld, “Iran’s Small Hand in Yemen.” 86. Levitt, Hizballah and the Quds Force, 4. 87. Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam, 104. 88. Wehrey et al., Rise of the Pasdaran, 36. 89. Azani, Hezbollah, 178. 90. Cordesman and Kleiber, Iran’s Military Forces, 80. 91. Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam, 210. 92. Naame Shaam, Financing Terror, 1–2. 93. Andrew Higgins, “Inside Iran’s Holy Money Machine,” Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2007. 94. Andreas Krieg’s interview with Hezbollah representatives (retired fighters, activists, and media representatives) in Mleeta, Lebanon, April 24, 2014. 95. Loeffler, “Financial System Can Isolate Rogues,” 107. 96. Charbonneau, Saul, Pomfret, “Exclusive: Iran Uses China Bank.” 97. The Economist, “Goon Squad.” 98. Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam, 208. 99. Cordesman and Kleiber, Iran’s Military Forces, 78. 100. Wigginton et al., “Al-Qods Force,” 159.

Iran’s Externalization of Strategic Defense 193

101. Saul, Hafezi, and Georgy, “Exclusive: Iran Steps Up Support.” 102. Cordesman and Kleiber, Iran’s Military Forces, 80. 103. Avon and Khatchadourian, Hezbollah, 25. 104. Reuters, “Insight: Syrian Government Guerrilla Fighters.” 105. Wigginton et al., “Al-Qods Force,” 160. 106. Reuters, “Insight: Syrian Government Guerrilla Fighters.” 107. “Gen. Petraeus Holds Defense Dept. News Briefing,” transcript, Washington Post, April 26, 2007, /AR2007042601332.html. 108. Dionisi, American Hiroshima, 8. 109. Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt, “Iran Secretly Sending Drones and Supplies into Iraq,” New York Times, June 25, 2014. 110. Missy Ryan and Loveday Morris, “The U.S. and Iran Are Aligned in Iraq against the Islamic State—for Now,” Washington Post, December 27, 2014, https://www.wash -the-islamic-state—for-now/2014/12/27/353a748c-8d0d-11e4-a085-34e9b9f09a58 _story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.14dade82e6d5. 111. Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam, 224. 112. BBC, “Iran’s Secret Army.” 113. Bass, “From Transactional to Transformational,” 22. 114. Menashri, “Iran’s Regional Policy,” 155. 115. Nasr, Shia Revival, 20. 116. Barari and Akho-Rashida, “Pragmatic and Radical,” 119. 117. Krieg, Socio-Political Order and Security, 176–78. 118. Mansour, “From Militia to State Force ”; Saad-Ghorayeb, “Hezbollah’s Iran Money Trail”; 119. Andreas Krieg interview with Hezbollah representatives, April 24, 2014. 120. Hamdi Malik and Maysam Behravesh, “Is Iran Creating Its Own State within Iraq?,” The Guardian, May 18, 2015. 121. Alaaldin, “Iraq.” 122. United States Department of the Treasury, “Treasury Sanctions Syrian, Iranian Security Forces.” 123. Katzman, Iran’s Activities and Influence in Iraq, 2. 124. Pregent, “Iran Is Building a Force.” 125. Deghhanpishe, “Special Report.” 126. Knights, Smyth, and Ali, “Iranian Influence in Iraq.”


The popular vision of war remains closely tied to the tale told by the great war movies: the individual’s heroic self-sacrifice for the band of brothers serving to protect greater national ideals and narratives. The romantic idea of war that is shaped by blockbusters such as The Bridge on the River Kwai, Battle of Britain, or Pearl Harbor, and, more recently, by Dunkirk is built around the soldier’s selfless duty to the nation as an extension of protecting wife, children, and family at home. The soldier is portrayed as fighting for the greater good, which at least in the West has been defined within the parameters of the state and the nation since the eighteenth century, against an “evil other” posing an existential threat to the community’s survival. This war nostalgia appears to be widely out of sync with the reality of war in the twenty-first century, at least in the West. Even though extremists on the fringes, both the religious fundamentalists and the populist demagogues, are desperately trying to reinvent notions of nation, race, and religion, security has become a much more abstract concept. Western policymakers define security in the twenty-first century on the basis of the freedom from risks rather than threats—risks that are subjectively defined and bureaucratically managed. In the capitals of Europe, in Washington and in Ottawa, the maintenance of security in the twenty-first century has become a sober bureaucratic exercise far removed from the emotional clash of wills of previous centuries. Security maintenance as the state’s prerogative has become just another public service that can be delegated to specialists who implement policy—doing so without drawing in the wider public with a levée en masse. Nonetheless, the world has not become a more peaceful place. While in the West risk management has become the modus operandi for dealing with security, in the Global South war has not really moved beyond the butchery of previous centuries. In the developing world, violent gangs rule territory and extract money from war economies while the reach of fragile states remains constrained to regions close to the capital. In an environment of dog eat dog, those left unprotected by the state form alternative associations to not only manage sociopolitical affairs but

Conclusion 195

more importantly also to ensure communal security in all dimensions. At times these new security associations merely supplement the security services of state. Often, however, they challenge the state and contribute to the erosion of its power. Despite the growing rift between the Global North and Global South, we have identified four essential features of war in the twenty-first century that affect states in both the developed and developing worlds. Conflicts have become more globalized, privatized, securitized, and mediatized. In an apolar world where no one state or organization achieves hegemony, the global system increasingly resembles the medieval state of anarchy in which nonstate, state, and suprastate actors were competing over resources, influence, and power. The “neomedieval” state of anarchy of the twenty-first century appears to be a competitive system of transnational nature in which territorial integrity and state sovereignty are undermined by a dynamic interaction between state and nonstate authority across and beyond the boundaries of states. The power to disrupt and destroy is no longer exclusively held by the state, which although arguably still being the primus inter pares, finds itself struggling to control the flow of ideas, individuals, resources, technology, and ultimately conflict across ever more porous borders. The globalized conflict is transnational in nature and disregards the state-centric norms, conventions, and laws put in place in the nineteenth century to limit war, and it spreads across a far greater spatial and temporal range of threat. These “everywhere conflicts” are far more privatized than the conventional wars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Besides soldiers in national uniforms, the main protagonists of twenty-first-century warfare are nonstate actors such as warlords, war profiteers, organized criminals, terrorists, and paramilitary groups. In the Global South, nonstate actors have taken a bottom-up approach, challenging the state where it fails to provide security inclusively. In the Global North, the rise of nonstate actors has been supported by the push to commercialize public services. Security in the developed world has become a commodity to be traded and provided by the most competitive bidder. Commercial security providers increasingly supplement traditionally public security services. Further, the state in the twenty-first century is faced with an ambiguous threat environment lacking a tangible antagonist against which to develop a security policy. Therefore, states have developed alternative approaches to dealing with insecurity, most commonly relying on risk-based rather than threat-based approaches. Confronted with intangible threats emanating from localities far away, often simultaneously and within different domains, states engage in securitization—namely, constructing security agendas based on more subjective risk assessments. In times of protracted and geographically contrapuntal threats such

196 Conclusion

as global terrorism, simmering insurgency, and cyber warfare, threats need to be engaged before they evolve—sometimes even before they really exist. Therefore, risk management is no longer based on an objective security policy looking at antagonists’ intentions and capabilities. Instead, risks are being constructed and managed bureaucratically while policymakers, particularly in the West, are desperate to mitigate the political costs of omitting risks. It seems as if it has become more socially acceptable to overreact to a potential risk than to underreact: The lines between rationality and hysteria have become blurred. Finally, the state operates in an increasingly mediatized environment, whereby the emergence of social media has not just changed patterns of communication across communities but has become a major means of warfare in itself. The media domain creates a new battlefield where narratives clash, disrupting both state policies and communities. In conjunction with kinetic operations on the physical battlefield, the clash over narratives in the cyber sphere sets the parameters for strategic victory in war. States are under constant media surveillance and unable to contain the multiplicity of opinions, narratives, and messages being exchanged in an unconstrained cyber sphere. As much as social media has had a democratizing effect, it has created an uncontrollable engine of self-propelling data that can be shaped by everyone, instantly, anywhere. Maintaining the monopoly over information, particularly that which makes the difference between success and failure in kinetic military operations, has become impossible for the state. As a consequence, one could argue that the authority of the state in the twentyfirst century is the weakest it has been since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The state no longer appears as the hegemonic protagonist in global affairs, while its role has been reduced to that of a primus inter pares. While the state might still retain its de jure monopoly of international affairs, it is de facto not able to monopolize power in a way that it can be more than a first among equals in what has become an increasingly transnational global environment. Within the apolar world of the new millennium, the state finds it hard to provide effectively and inclusively for the various security needs of its societies because groups and communities have ever more specific demands for security within a threat environment that is ever more unpredictable. For the state to maintain its status as a communal security provider, it has to look for alternative arrangements to provide security to its protégés. The fragile states of the Global South enter into security assemblages with surrogates to augment their capacity and legitimacy as security providers. The more robust states of the Global North use surrogates to achieve deniability, increase their capability, and save costs. As this book has shown, the externalization of the burden of warfare to surrogates is a response of the state for dealing with the

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complexity of providing security in the twenty-first century. Creating assemblages with nonstate actors who either supplement or substitute state capacity allows the state to remain relevant in globalized, privatized, securitized, and mediatized conflicts. As a manager of violence directing surrogates to provide security on its behalf, the state seems to be able to evade its redundancy. As we have shown in this book, the externalization of the burden of warfare to surrogates is not revolutionary in itself, as it is a mere return to the premodern forms of warfare when empires and city states were trying to secure their place in a system whose anarchy went far beyond that in realist conceptualizations. What has changed, however, is the hybridity of twenty-first-century warfare: States coexist and partner with nonstate actors and technology to coerce, disrupt, or destroy. Today the state-centric international system of the post−World War II period competes with a transnational system in which nonstate actors and sometimes even individuals exercise influence and power outside the norms, values, and laws of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. De jure the state retains the monopoly over international affairs while de facto this monopoly has already been compromised in the increasingly apolar context of the early twenty-first century. Nonetheless, the state retains a crucial role in this apolar system as the primary communal security provider competing with alternative security providers. Creating security assemblages through the externalization of coercion to surrogates can thereby help the state to manage this hybridity. Even the most powerful country today, the United States, relies increasingly on surrogates, both human and technological, to manage the risks from protracted and geographically dispersed threats across the globe. With a public aversion to major combat operations and a mediatized fear-mongering around the threat from global terrorism, any White House tenant is faced with the dilemma of avoiding the US military getting drawn into long-term military operations while ensuring that risks are not being disregarded. The US war on ISIS is a case in point. In Iraq and Syria, small platoons of US SOF have partnered with local groups to contain the threat of jihadism in the Levant.1 Technological surrogates empowered by social media are being used to spread narratives to counter those of the selfproclaimed caliphate while drones provide the US military with the eyes and ears to locate and destroy the ISIS mujahedeen. Financial and human costs for America are being minimized, reducing political costs for policymakers in Washington. Human surrogates provide legitimacy in the eyes of the local population, which still looks at US troops suspiciously. Surrogates also provide small states with new means to exercise power. The UAE, one of the richest countries in the world per capita, lacks the human capacity

198 Conclusion

to build a military powerful enough to secure its expeditionary ambitions in the Gulf and the Horn of Africa. Arguably the most advanced Arab military today, the UAE armed forces have long relied on mercenaries and contractors to augment capacity and capability. Similar to other Persian Gulf states, the UAE has discovered surrogate warfare as an effective means to translate financial power into coercive power. In its war in Yemen, the UAE has since 2015, in addition to relying on local militia groups, deployed 450 Latin American contractors from its Abu Dhabi base of more than 1,800 Latin American contractors.2 The fact that many of these contractors were killed in combat suggests that unlike Western armed forces relying on commercial security companies, the UAE has used contractors to directly engage in hostilities.3 In the developing world, surrogacy is even more complex. Where the lack of capacity is further exacerbated by the lack of financial resources, states have to find more innovative means to externalize security provision and warfare. While on the one hand, African states have externalized the burden of ethnic war to militias, they have at the same time partnered with multinational companies to not only extract resources but also to provide local security around extraction sites. As Rita Abrahamsen and Michael C. Williams illustrate, mining companies in Tanzania are granted concessions by the government in areas from which the state’s security sector has largely withdrawn. Hiring private military and security companies, mining companies have been able to both secure their extraction sites and provide security to local communities widely left unprotected by the state.4 Here, the fragile state has entered into an assemblage with an indirect surrogate to increase the coverage of public security. The most advanced forms of surrogacy emerging in recent years have been technological platforms relying on the cyber domain as well as increasingly those using AI. While drones have been potent surrogates in replacing both the infantry soldier and the pilot, AI has the potential to revolutionize the way we think about warfare. Externalizing the burden of warfare to bots operating in cyberspace fundamentally alters the ways and means states can influence, disrupt, and destroy. Coercion does not need to be tied to kinetic violence. The disruptive power of social bots used by Russia in previous years to shape public perception and opinion in the West might have a far more disruptive impact on Western states than the use of kinetic violence.5 Cyber propaganda through the targeted spread of disinformation has provided the erstwhile superpower with a surrogate that strikes with plausible deniability, at limited costs, and without the need for huge capacity. Bots and trolls are fed by youth communities embraced and financed by the Kremlin striking the West at its core: the freedom of speech and information.6 Similarly,

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armies of private hackers represent a force de frappe of surrogates that shield states from responsibility and magnify their capabilities. Thus, the campaign by the hacker group Anonymous against ISIS contributed to drastically reducing its presence on open social media such as Twitter. While the first concrete impacts of AI are beginning to emerge in the cyber domain through the use of adaptive malware, for instance, increased attention to the development of AWS promises to profoundly alter the way wars will be waged in both the cyber and the traditional domains of war. AWS will represent the technological surrogate par excellence as they will provide their users with deniability while fulfilling the objectives of the patron autonomously. Hence, surrogacy comes in various shapes and forms for a variety of reasons and motivations. At the heart of surrogacy lies the aspect of externalization of the burden of warfare as an essential element for the state to provide security to its communities. Surrogacy allows the state to redefine the trinitarian conceptualization of war that has dominated the discourse on warfare since the eighteenth century—namely, the relationship between state, society, and the state soldier. While warfare is no longer just limited to the use of coercion to advance tangible security interests of society, the state has to look for a nontrinitarian agent to fulfill the most fundamental social-contractarian function of the state: to provide security inclusively to its society. In nontrinitarian wars, the state increasingly relies on neotrinitarian assemblages—namely, partnerships between the state as society’s agent and a nontrinitarian surrogate. A new trinity arises between society, the state, and a surrogate as a security provider. This surrogate does not necessarily have any obvious, direct relationship with the state as the patron, allowing the state to employ this surrogate anywhere, anytime without having to justify the deployment of state soldiers. The state can do so amid a highly mediatized environment, against intangible threats, and with abstract risks, far removed from the homeland if necessary and against a range of different actors. Surrogates allow states to manage the multiplicity of risks with limited resources, at low human, financial, and thereby political costs, with a degree of deniability, and with local legitimacy. The state can continue to provide security for its society in the complex global context of the twenty-first century through the coercive management of risks through surrogates as alternative means of coercion. Essentially, these neotrinitarian security assemblages allow the state to engage in low-intensity, protracted conflicts over a long period of time without having to declare actual war. The degree to which surrogate warfare is actually always warfare is debatable. As the management of risks does not necessarily require major kineticcombat operations, surrogate warfare provides the state with niche capabilities that

200 Conclusion

can be quickly mobilized and deployed—in the case of technological platforms, even instantly. Breaking the definition of war down to its core as “an act of violence to compel our enemy to do our will,”7 surrogate warfare definitely provides the state with a means to compel the enemy to do its will. Although the use of kinetic violence by human surrogates is still at the forefront of surrogate warfare, the increasing reliance on the cyber domain and other technological platforms based on AI allows the state to coerce and disrupt without physical violence. Nonetheless, coercion and disruption, even through nonkinetic force, is arguably violent even if just indirectly. A cyberattack on a desalination plant in the Persian Gulf, a traffic-management system in a major city such as London, or a major news outlet in a country amid a simmering crisis would have violent consequences for local communities. Thus, the externalization of the burden of warfare from the conventional infantry soldier to a human or technological surrogate provides the state with alternative means to coerce the enemy to do its will through disruption and destruction, which is ultimately violent. While the state might be able to secure its position as a communal security provider within a globalized world, surrogate warfare is far from being the panacea for the state in the twenty-first century. Externalizing the burden of warfare means that the state surrenders not only its former monopoly over violence but even more its control over coercion. As this book has demonstrated, the externalization of coercion to substitutes is accompanied by an effective externalization of control. In comparison to the state relying on the soldier as its agent, embedded in the state’s command-and-control structure, the human surrogate in particular thrives for autonomy. What emerges is a zero-sum game between the state as the patron trying to maximize control over surrogate operations and the surrogate trying to maximize autonomy—a game that the surrogate is more likely to win. The reason is that the surrogate, once resourced and armed, might be more likely to survive without the patron than the other way around because of the fact that state patrons are averse to getting directly drawn into conflict. The more the patron seeks to avoid putting its own boots on the ground, more likely is the surrogate to exploit the patron’s inability to internalize the burden of war. Surrogates tend to abuse patron support to further their own agenda especially when patron and surrogate objectives are divergent. Financial support and arms might be proliferated to other groups. Surrogates might morph into terrorist or insurgent organizations, eventually undermining the patron’s objectives. Commercial entities such as PMSCs might overcharge and underperform. The most severe consequence of conducting war via human surrogates is the unpredictability of the principal-agent relationship in the long run. Once trained, armed, and

Conclusion 201

resourced, human surrogates are difficult to demobilize, disarm, and reintegrate. Consequently, surrogates might have a long-term destabilizing impact on a conflict, particularly when they evolve into a serious contender of power in a conflict and are unwilling to contribute constructively to postconflict stabilization. Warfare by surrogate can be an effective alternative to conventional warfare only when the state engages in strict delegation—namely, when the state provides direct strategic and operational oversight over the surrogate. Only when surrogates are embedded in a joint headquarters and are operationally directed by the patron’s own forces can the state actually ensure that objectives are being achieved. The issue of control of technological surrogates is less problematic than in the case of human surrogates because most current technological systems require a human in or on the loop. UAVs are still dependent on service personnel to operate. Yet over the past two decades, weapon systems have been developed that operate with increased autonomy. Similar to a biological virus, a cyber virus develops a life of its own once released, thereby becoming increasingly uncontrollable. These automated and increasingly AWS will represent a major challenge to established norms and laws of armed conflict in the near future. Since 2014, the UN has started to deal with this issue by trying to regulate the development and use of AWS. The fact that four years after the UN launched this process no agreement on the definition of AWS has been reached8—let alone on what AI means—demonstrates how those states in the process of developing these systems have no interest in putting regulations in place.9 The emerging arms race in this field will raise profound control issues for the technological surrogates to be developed in the next decade. The assemblages that are being created between state and surrogate need to be designed in a way as to guarantee that cooperation and coordination are not coincidental. Checks and balances need to be carefully put in place to give the patron assurances for surrogate compliance and ensure the surrogate necessary levels of autonomy. It is at this equilibrium where surrogacy can be mutually beneficial. Especially when the state enters into a security assemblage with an already existing nonstate actor, an assemblage can be beneficial because it allows for the integration of an otherwise completely autonomous actor into the sphere of control of the state. In the developing world, assemblages can thereby serve as a tool to strengthen the authority of the state even when the surrogate operates relatively autonomously. Examples would be the attempts by the Iraqi government to integrate Shia militias into the security sector since 2006. Nonetheless, state control of surrogates will never amount to the same control that the state has over the soldier as an agent integrated into a rigid

202 Conclusion

command-and-control structure. Hence, the state’s increased attempt to develop links with surrogates replacing or supplementing the conventional infantry soldier is not a real solution to the state’s dilemma in the twenty-first century. Even through surrogate warfare, the state cannot make the anarchy of the transnational system more predictable. Surrogate warfare allows the state to establish its position as a mere manager of violence amid an anarchical, apolar transnational context. The state has to come to terms with the fact that surrogates rarely deliver quick victories, as objectives might often be achieved only as a mere side effect of the surrogate’s campaign. Delegating coercion to external agents without the actual willingness and capability to step in when necessary might leave the state at its least powerful since the eighteenth century. Yet, in the long run, it can ensure the survival of the state as the provider for communal security acting as a primus inter pares in a more complex multistakeholder global system. It is important to note that unless the state is willing to employ the state soldier directly in the tactical quagmire of twenty-first-century warfare, in sufficient numbers, and with a strong-enough mandate, the state’s role will always be reduced to that of a bystander managing someone else’s war. Those who bear the burden of war will eventually own it.

Notes 1. Missy Ryan, “Why the Pentagon Sees Recapture of Syrian City as Template for Battling the Islamic State,” Washington Post, August 16, 2016, /world/national-security/recapture-of-syrian-city-a-template-for-coming-us-battles -against-islamic-state/2016/08/16/cad9e11c-63ad-11e6-96c0-37533479f3f5_story .html?utm_term=.b5eda02e1f83. 2. Emily B. Hager and Mark Mazzetti, “Emirates Secretly Sends Colombian Mercenaries to Yemen Fight,” New York Times, November 25, 2015, / 11/26/world/middleeast/emirates-secretly-sends-colombian-mercenaries-to-fight-in -yemen.html. 3. Michael Safi and Joshua Robertson, “Australian Mercenary Reportedly Killed in Yemen Clashes,” The Guardian, December 8, 2015, -news/2015/dec/09/australian-mercenary-reportedly-killed-yemen-clashes. 4. See Abrahamsen and Williams, “Golden Assemblages.” 5. In October 2018, Twitter published more than 10 million tweets by 3,841 Russian- and probably 770 Iran-linked propaganda accounts found since 2016. The bots generating disinformation are related to Russia’s Internet Research Agency. See Gadde and Roth, “Enabling Further Research on Information Operation on Twitter,” Twitter,

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October 17, 2018, abling-further-research-of-information-operations-on-twitter.html. 6. Sanovich, “Computational Propaganda in Russia,” 10. 7. Howard and Guilmartin, Two Historians in Technology and War, 1. 8. Group of Governmental Experts, “Report of the 2018 Group of Governmental Experts,” 6. 9. Busby, “Killer Robots Ban Blocked.”

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Page numbers in italic indicate figures. Abdullah II of Jordan, 169 Abrahamsen, Rita, 43, 198 adverse selection, 118 Afghanistan: Central Intelligence Agency in, 128; and Cold War, 20; control in, 130; counterinsurgency in, 74, 79–80; deniability and, 5; drone warfare in, 49; Iran and, 168, 180; Laskhar-e-Taiba in, 128; Northern Alliance in, 75, 125; patrons in, 128; patron trust and, 125; precision-guided munitions in, 90; private military and security companies in, 127; Saudi Arabia and, 26; Soviet Union and, 76, 129; special operations forces in, 79; surrogate loyalty and, 125; surrogates in, 125; tribal surrogates in, 75; United States and, 46, 79, 89, 129 Africa, 10, 21, 26, 125. See also specific countries Ahram, Ariel, 122–23 AI. See artificial intelligence (AI) AIM-120, 105 al-Abbas Brigade, 180 Alexander the Great, 18–19, 28, 60 Algeria, 79–80 AlphaGo, 102, 103 al-Qaeda: drone warfare and, 90; embassy bombings by, 88; Iraq and, 79; Laskhare-Taiba and, 128; Northern Alliance and, 125; precision-guided munitions and, 90; social media and, 96; Syria and, 26; unmanned aerial vehicles and, 150 altruism, 46, 49, 77, 146 Ameri, Hadi al-, 188

American War of Independence. See Revolutionary War anarchy, 1, 14n1, 41–42, 45, 51, 149, 195 Anbar Awakening, 79 Anonymous (hacker group), 199 anti-Americanism, 126 Antón, San Juan de, 16–17 APT28, 100 APT29, 100 Aquinas, Thomas, 146 Arab Spring, 94–95, 129–30, 155, 169 Arafat,Yasser, 168 Aramco, 93, 137 Aristotle, 146 Arminius, 5 Arthashastra, 28–29 artificial general intelligence (AGI), 103, 109–10, 114n115, 134–35, 137–40 artificial intelligence (AI), 101–10, 113n110, 114n121, 134, 137–39, 198–201 Assad, Bashar al-, 9, 144, 161, 178, 189. See also Syria Atef, Muhammad, 90 Augustine, 146 authority: in Clausewitz, 34; coercion and, 2; and core military functions, 54n48; in definition of surrogate, 4; in Hobbes, 36; insurgency and, 95; legitimate, 148– 51; in Locke, 36; in Madison’s dilemma, 118; mediatization and, 62; of state, 36, 38, 41–43, 57–58, 196, 201; threat and, 65 autonomous weapon systems (AWS), 85, 104–8, 131–33, 134, 199, 201

234 Index

autonomy: artificial intelligence and, 109–10; control and, 121–39; control vs., 185–88; cyber weapons and, 135–36; delegation and, 119–20; necessity of, 119; patron control and, 116–17; weapon, 104–8, 201 AWS. See autonomous weapon systems (AWS) Baath Party, 155–56 Badr Corps, 155, 177, 179, 185, 187 Baghbani, Hadi, 185 Bahrain, 75, 104 Bani-Sadr, Abolhassan, 166 “barbarians,” 5, 60, 74 Basij, 171–73, 179–80, 184–85, 189 Beck, Ulrich, 2, 48–49, 57, 109 Bellamy, Alex J., 144 bin Laden, Osama, 89, 90, 125 “black sites,” 26 Blair, Tony, 96 “body-bag syndrome,” 49 Boko Haram, 10 bonyads, 182 Bosnia, 90, 154, 158 Bosnia Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro, 158 botnets, 93, 99, 104, 111n49 Bouazizi, Mohamed, 94–95 Brimstone, 106, 134 Brin, Sergey, 102 British East India Company, 20, 24–25 Bull, Hedley, 41 burden of warfare, 59, 59–65. See also externalization, of burden of warfare Burma, 128 Bush, George H. W., 46, 54n51 Bush, George W., 78, 90, 177 cabinet wars, 69–70 Cacafuego (ship), 16–17 Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, 138 “campfire strategy,” 168–69, 175 Carlyle, Thomas, 34 Carthage, 18–19 Castelfranchi, Cristiano, 119 Castro, Fidel, 24 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 24–26, 90–92, 125, 128, 151, 165 charity, 146

checks and balances, 66, 70, 76–77 China, 25, 57, 62, 161, 183 Christenson, Gordon A., 158 Churchill, Winston, 5 CIA. See Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Cicero, 144 Clausewitz, Carl von, 7, 8, 28, 32–37; and just war, 145; “people in arms” in, 29; resources in, 60; state in, 38; trinity of, 59; Van Creveld vs., 42; warfare defined in, 2, 62, 81 client: patron vs., 117 Clinton, Bill, 89 Clinton, Hillary, 100 COIN. See counterinsurgency (COIN) Coker, Christopher, 110 Cold War, 5–6; deniability in, 62–63, 72, 75–76; externalization and, 20–21; indirect surrogacy in, 25; insurgency and, 95; in Middle East, 21; mutual assured destruction in, 61; total war and, 61–62 cold warfare, 20–21 Cole, USS, 90 “collateral damage,” 50, 61, 93, 135–36, 151 Colombia, 66 commercialization: of security, 44–45, 195 compound warfare, 5–6 Concert of Europe, 1, 46 Congo, 26, 129 contractors, military. See private military and security companies (PMSCs) control: autonomy and, 121–39; autonomy vs., 185–88; cyber weapons and, 135–36; effective, 26, 121–22, 134, 137, 157–59; of human surrogate, 121–31; patron, 116–17; technology and, 131–39 core military functions, 44–45, 52n48 counterinsurgency (COIN), 10, 50, 74–75, 79–80, 95, 97–98, 152. See also insurgencies covert operations, 98, 128, 149–51 Cozy Bear, 100, 112n90, 113n93 Crimean War, 33 cruise missiles, 87–90, 132 Crusades, 19 Cuba, 23, 24, 25 CyberBerkut, 100 cyber propaganda, 198–99, 202n5

cyber proxy, 6, 17, 22, 85 cyber surrogates, 98–101 cyber warfare, 91–101 cyber weapons, 91–93, 135–36 Dar es Salaam, 88 Darfur crisis, 22 DARPA. See Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Dawa Party, 26 DDoS. See distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks Deep Blue, 103 Deepfake, 104 DeepLocker, 106, 108, 135, 139 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), 135 Deir ez-Zor reactor, 92 delegation: autonomous weapons systems and, 108, 131–32; autonomy and, 119–20; in early surrogacy, 18–19; externalization and, 4; forms of, 5; social contractarianism and, 36; standoff warfare and, 3; strict, 119, 201 Democratic National Committee (DNC), 100, 113n92 Democratic Peace Theory, 150 deniability, 5, 61, 62–63, 75–77, 88, 93, 152 de Vitoria, Francisco, 146 discourse, war as, 62 distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, 93, 99, 111n39 Dostum, Abdul Rashid, 75 Douhet, Giulio, 87 Drake, Francis, 16–17, 20 drone warfare, 23, 49, 70, 85–91, 197–98; in Afghanistan, 49; autonomy and, 132; compound warfare and, 6–7; cyber warfare vs., 136; distancing and, 70; identification of objects in, 133; just war and, 149–50; as reusable, 106–7; sovereignty and, 150 Duke of Wellington, 5 effective control, 26, 121–22, 134, 137, 157–59 Egypt, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25–26, 180 Eisenhardt, Kathleen M., 120

Index 235

Elizabeth I, 17, 18 Erasmus of Rotterdam, 146, 148 Estonia, 99 “everywhere wars,” 48, 58, 71, 195 expeditionary warfare, 175–76 externalization, of burden of warfare, 5, 6, 18, 59, 59–65; and Cold War, 20–21; and cyber warfare, 91–101; delegation and, 4; drone warfare and, 85–91; indirect surrogacy and, 24–25; as problem, 71–72; security and, 196–97 Facebook, 94. See also social media face-swapping, 104 fail-safe, 133 FakeApp, 104 Falcone, Rino, 119 Fancy Bear, 100, 112n90, 113n91, 113n93 Farage, Nigel, 56 FARC. See Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Fatah, 168, 182, 184 Fatahani, Abdul al-, 90 Federal Security Service (FSB), 100, 113n93. See also Russia Ferdinand II, 19–20 First Lebanon War, 88 Flame (malware), 93 Florence, 19 Foley, James, 98 force protection, 89 France, 5, 20, 79–80. See also French Revolution Franco-Prussian War, 40 “freedom fighters,” 21, 129, 167 French Revolution, 34, 35, 38, 60 FSB. See Federal Security Service (FSB) Gadhafi, Moammar, 21, 78–79 GCC. See Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) generative adversarial networks (GANs), 104, 114n121 Genoa, 19 Georgia, 99–100 Gerasimov,Valery, 101 Germany, 21, 61, 72. See also World War II Ghassanids, 19 globalization, 7, 40–45

236 Index

“globalized” war, 39–43, 64 Global Positioning System (GPS), 88 Global War on Terror, 26 Gnat-750, 90 Gnat 750-45, 90 Goebbels, Joseph, 61 Golden Hand (ship), 16–17 Goloskokov, Konstantin, 99 Goltz, Colmar Freiherr von der, 33, 68 Google, 102, 133 Gorbachev, Mikhail, 46 GPS. See Global Positioning System (GPS) Grande Armée, 5 Gregory, Derek, 48 Grotius, Hugo, 146 GRU. See Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) Guccifer 2.0, 100, 113n91 Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), 26, 75, 79 Gulf War, 89 Habermas, Jürgen, 51 Hadi, Abdrabbuh Mansur, 22 Haftar, Khalifa, 131 Hamas, 179, 180, 183, 186, 189 Hammes, Thomas X., 127 Harethi, Qaed al-, 90 Harpy, 106 Hart, Basil Liddell, 28, 69 Hashd al-Shabi. See Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Hashemi, Mehdi, 176 Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, 26, 128 Hegel, Georg, 145, 148 hero worship, 34 Hessian mercenaries, 5, 20 Hezbollah, 66; Iran and, 23, 168–69, 177, 179, 182–83, 187, 189; Lebanon and, 130; Syria and, 27, 149 hijacking, 21 Hindu Kush, 20 Hittites, 16 hivenet, 136 Hobbes, Thomas, 1, 36, 147, 148 Holy Roman Empire, 19–20 holy war, 146 Homer, 34 Houthis, 22, 50, 91, 168, 180, 181, 186, 189

Howard, Michael, 81 Huber, Thomas M., 6 “human-in-the-loop-test,” 132–34 Huntington, Samuel P., 68 Hussein, Saddam, 89 hybrid warfare, 101, 109 Hypponen, Mikko, 100 IAEA. See International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ICBMs. See intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) ICC. See International Criminal Court (ICC) ICTY. See International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) IDF. See Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Iliad (Homer), 34 India, 24–25, 129 information access, 64 insurgencies, 20, 43, 95–98. See also counterinsurgency (COIN) intangible threats, 195–96 Intelligence Authorization Act, 150–51 Interahamwe, 22, 161 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), 86–87 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), 17 International Criminal Court (ICC), 121, 156 International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), 158, 159 Internet 2.0, 94. See also social media Internet of Things (IoT), 102 Iran, 23, 25, 159; Afghanistan and, 168, 180; “campfire strategy” of, 168–69, 175; China and, 183; expeditionary warfare and, 175–76; grand strategy of, 165–70; Hezbollah and, 169, 182–83, 187, 189; Israel and, 179; Lebanon and, 168–69, 179, 182; levels of surrogate support from, 181–83; military doctrine in, 173–75; mosaic defense concept and, 173–75; Office of Liberation Movements in, 175–76; Saudi Arabia and, 176; security sector in, 170–73; Stuxnet attack on, 17, 18, 92–93, 135, 137; Syria and, 159, 169, 170, 178–80, 184–85, 189;Yemen and, 76,

186. See also Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC); Quds Force Iranian hostage crisis, 166 Iranian Revolution, 155, 164, 165–68 Iran-Iraq War, 26, 168, 172–73 Iraq, 22, 46, 79, 89, 129, 155–56. See also Iran-Iraq War Iraqi Dawa Party, 26 Iraq War, 67, 74–75, 79–80 IRGC. See Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Irish Republican Army, 21 Iron Dome, 105, 132 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), 155, 164, 167; Basij and, 171–73, 179–80, 184; extensive deployment of, 170; Office of Liberation Movements and, 175–76; as strategic surrogate, 24. See also Quds Force Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), 49, 66, 72; Anonymous group and, 199; cyber warfare and, 97, 98; in Libya, 131; and patron-surrogate proximity, 27; public perception and, 9; terrorism and, 57, 97; and weakening of Iraqi military, 155–56 Israel, 21, 88–89, 90, 92, 132, 179 Israel Defense Forces (IDF), 180, 189 Ivanov, Sergei, 99 Jabhat al-Nusra, 26, 128 Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, 26, 128 Jaish al-Islam, 26 Jaish al-Mahdi, 180–81 Jaish al-Shabi, 177, 180, 187 Janjaweed, 22 jihad, 27, 32, 79, 128–31, 146, 179–80 Johnson, Lyndon B., 27 Jomini, Antoine-Henri, 32–33, 39 Judah, Tim, 123 jus ad bellum, 146–52 jus in bello, 153–59, 160–61 Justinian, 19 just war: appearances and, 144; and chance of success, 152; Clausewitz and, 145; and conduct of war, 153–59, 160–61; covert operations and, 150–51; drone warfare and, 149–50; and jus ad bellum, 146–52; and jus in bello, 153–59, 160–61; and

Index 237

justification of war, 146–52; and law of armed conflict, 153–54; legitimacy and, 144, 145; legitimate authority and, 148– 51; and patron responsibility for surrogate misconduct, 153–59; patrons and, 147–48; in postmodernism, 145; and principle of last resort, 152; and proportionality of surrogate warfare, 151–52; self-defense and, 146; self-determination and, 146–47, 147–48; social contract and, 147, 148; sovereignty and, 147; state and, 148–49 Kaag, John, 70 Kabbinetskriege, 69–70 Kaldor, Mary, 42, 149 Kampuchea, 161 Kant, Immanuel, 71, 83n39, 150 Kanwal, Gurmeet, 128–29 Kasparov, Garry, 103 Kata’ib Hezbollah, 177, 179, 187, 188 Kello, Lucas, 94 Kennedy, John F., 27 Khameini, Ali, 168 Khmer Rouge, 161 Khomeini, Ayatollah Ruhollah, 165, 167, 171, 176 Kilcullen, David, 96 KLA. See Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Korea, 9, 25, 48, 64, 105 Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), 123 Krebs, Sarah, 70 Krieg, Andreas, 192n94 Kriegpoesie, 34 Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), 122, 124, 161 Kurdistan Regional Government, 72 Kuwait, 75 Lakhmids, 19 Laos, 128 Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT), 128–29 last resort principle, 152 law of armed conflict (LOAC), 133, 134, 153–54, 156, 159 Lawrence, T. E., 20, 39, 58, 80 LAWS. See lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) “leading from behind,” 8, 78–79

238 Index

League of Nations, 46 Lebanon, 24, 76, 168–69, 176–77, 179, 182 legitimacy: just war and, 144, 145; in Moltke, 68–69; of state, 1; victory and, 145 legitimate authority, 148–51 Le Pen, Marine, 56 lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS), 132–33, 134, 138 levée en masse, 33, 60 Leviathan (Hobbes), 36 Liberia, 155, 159 Libratus, 102 Libya, 78–79, 129, 131 Libyan National Army (LNA), 131 lieux de mémoire, 34, 52n8 Light Brigade, 33 Lightning Bug drone, 87 LNA. See Libyan National Army (LNA) LOAC. See law of armed conflict (LOAC) Locke, John, 36, 147, 148 loitering technology, 106–7 Louis XII, 24 Loveman, Chris, 78 Ludendorff, Erich, 33 Luther, Martin, 146, 147

MLC. See Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) Mohammad, Nek, 90 Mohtashamipur, Ali Akbar, 169 Moltke, Helmuth von, 28, 32, 39, 60, 68–69, 70 MonsterMind, 136 Montazeri, Hussein-Ali, 167, 168, 169, 176 Moore’s law, 102 moral hazard, 117–18 Moran, Jon, 6–7 mosaic defense, 173–75 Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC), 26, 129 Moyes, Richard, 105 MPRI. See Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI) M-shaped chains, 122–23 Mueller, John, 46 Mueller, Robert, 113n93 Muhandes, Abu Mahdi al-, 188 Mumford, Andrew, 77 Musawi, Sheikh Abbas al-, 90 mutual assured destruction (MAD), 61, 86–87 Muwatalli II, 16

Machiavelli, Niccolò, 1, 29, 32, 33 machine learning, 102, 113n110 Macron, Emmanuel, 101 MAD. See mutual assured destruction (MAD) Madison’s dilemma, 117–18 Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), 100, 113n93. See also Russia Mali, 79 Maliki, Nouri al-, 22 malware, 93, 106, 135–37 mediatization, 7, 12, 15n24, 62, 79–80, 196–97 “mediatized” war, 49–51 Menashri, David, 178 Metternich, Klemens von, 46 MI6, 165 Michaels, Jon D., 71 Middle Ages, 19 Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI), 154, 159 military spending, 63, 127 Mirai botnet, 93

Nairobi, 88 Napoleon, 5, 33 nationalism, 28, 33–34, 60, 148, 166 NATO. See North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) “neotrinitarian war,” 7–8, 10–11; context of, 32–52; as “globalized” war, 39–43; as irregular, 39–51; as “mediatized” war, 49–51; as “privatized” war, 44–45; as “securitized” war, 45–49; trinitarian warfare and, 35–39 nEUROn, 106, 115n144 “new world order,” 64 Nicaragua, 157 Nicaragua v. United States of America, 157, 158 Nigeria, 10 Nine Years’ War, 24 Noahide Laws, 144 Nora, Pierre, 52n8 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), 25, 46, 79 Northern Alliance, 75, 125

North Korea. See Korea nostalgia, war, 194 NotPetya, 135–36 N‘rn, 16 nuclear weapons, 86–87. See also mutual assured destruction (MAD); Stuxnet Obama, Barack, 8, 49, 78, 90, 128, 143n96 Office of Liberation Movements (OLM), 175–76 OLM. See Office of Liberation Movements (OLM) On War (Clausewitz), 7, 29, 33–37 Operation Ajax, 25 Operation Orchard, 92 Operation Serval, 79 Operation Storm, 154 Oppenheim, Lassa F., 37 Ostovar, Afshon, 173 Ottoman Empire, 20, 39 Pahlavi, Mohammad Reza, 166 Pakistan, 26, 90, 127–28, 128–29, 150 Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), 21, 49, 168, 173, 183 passions, 32–33, 70 patriotism, 33, 173 patron: abuse of support of, 127–28; capability of, 73–74; client vs., 117; control, 116–17; cooperation between, and surrogate, 23; departure of, from surrogate agenda, 128–29; just war and, 147–48; passions of, 70; as principal, 116; responsibility for surrogate misconduct, 153–59; self-determination of, 147–48; in surrogate warfare as concept, 4–5 Pax Americana, 46, 64 Peace of Westphalia, 146, 148, 196 Peloponnesian War, 19, 24 Peninsular War, 5 People’s Republic of Kampuchea, 161 peshmerga, 72 Petraeus, David, 96 PGMs. See precision-guided munitions (PGMs) Phalanx, 132 Philosophy of Rights (Hegel), 148 Pizan, Christine de, 146

Index 239

“plausible deniability,” 61, 75–77, 152 PLO. See Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) PMSCs. See private military and security companies (PMSCs) PMU. See Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Podesta, John, 100, 113n92 Politics (Aristotle), 146 Politics as Vocation (Weber), 38, 149 Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, 21 Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), 156, 177, 187–88 populism, 56, 194 postheroism, 49, 80 precision-guided munitions (PGMs), 85, 88–90, 105 Predator (drone), 90 presidential election of 2016, 100–101, 113n92 Prince,The (Machiavelli), 29 principal-agent problem, 117–20 principal-agent relations, 119 private military and security companies (PMSCs), 21, 45, 121; capacity and, 74; externalization and, 71; just war and, 154, 157; popularity of, 126–27; Russia and, 9–10, 23–24 privatization, 44 “privatized” war, 44–45 Project Maven, 133 propaganda, 198–99 proportionality: of surrogate warfare, 151–52 Provisional Irish Republican Army, 21 publicization, 20 punishment, 88 Putin,Vladimir, 9–10, 47 Qatar, 26, 75, 125 Quds Force, 159, 164, 176–88. See also Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) R2P. See responsibility to protect (R2P) RAF. See Red Army Faction (RAF) Rafighdoost, Mohsen, 168, 169 Ramses II, 16, 18, 23

240 Index

ransomware, 135–36, 137 Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD), 26, 129 rationalization: surrogate warfare as, 68–69 RCD. See Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD) Reagan, Ronald, 44 Red Army Faction (RAF), 21 remote-controlled warfare, 6–7 Remote Control Project, 6 Renaissance, 19, 73 responsibility to protect (R2P), 147, 149 reusability, 106 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), 66 Revolutionary United Front (RUF), 154, 159 Revolutionary War, 5, 20 Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), 21–22, 85, 89 Reza, Shah Mohammad, 25 risk-transfer wars, 50 RMA. See Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) Robb, John, 96 Roennfeldt, Carsten F., 62 Roff, Heather, 105 romanticism, 33, 34 Rome, Ancient, 5, 19, 28, 60 Rome Statute, 121, 156 Roper, William, 107 Rosenau, James N., 40 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 148 RUF. See Revolutionary United Front (RUF) Russia: cyber propaganda and, 198–99, 202n5; cyber surrogates of, 98–101; military contractors in, 9–10, 23; Syria and, 9–10, 23–24, 27–28, 47, 76; Ukraine and, 9, 23, 24, 72–73, 100. See also Soviet Union Russian Business Network, 99 Rwanda, 22, 26, 125, 161 Rwandan genocide, 22 sabotage, by cyber weapons, 91–93 Sadr, Muqtada al-, 177, 180–81 Saleh, Ali Abdullah, 22 Sandworm, 136 Saudi Arabia, 25–26, 62, 75, 93, 125, 176

Sayyida Zaynab shrine, 180 ScanEagle, 133 Scharnhorst, Gerhard von, 39 Scharre, Paul, 105–6, 136 SDF. See Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Second Congo War, 26, 129 “securitized” war, 45–49 security: commercialization of, 44–45, 195; conceptualization of, 56–57; externalization and, 196–97; state in, 65– 66; subjectivity of, 56; surrogate warfare and, 10–11; as taken for granted, 63–64 self-determination, 146–47, 147–48 Seven Pillars of Wisdom (Lawrence), 58 Seversky, Alexander P., 87 Sforza, Maximilian, 24 Shabiha, 22, 161 Shadow Broker, 135–36 Shamoon (computer virus), 93, 137 Shaw, Martin, 50 Sierra Leone, 154–55 Singer, Peter W., 28 Slavonic Corps, 10 Smith, Jelly H. See special operations forces (SOF) SMOV. See state monopoly on violence (SMOV) Snowden, Edward, 93, 136 social contractarianism, 36–37, 57, 147, 148 social Darwinism, 32, 36, 37, 144 social media, 42, 50–51, 62, 72, 94–98, 108–9, 196–97 SOF. See special operations forces (SOF) Soleimani, Qasem, 159, 164, 169, 178, 179 Solider and the State,The (Huntington), 68 Somalia, 26, 46, 150, 183 South Korea. See Korea sovereignty: and classical definition of war, 38; drone warfare and, 150; Enlightenment and, 146–47; externalization and, 11; fluidity of, 42; in history of war, 40; statehood and, 14n2; and state monopoly on violence, 28. See also authority Soviet Union: and Afghanistan, 20, 26, 129; cyber attacks and, 92; and Middle East, 21; and Vietnam, 5, 20, 76. See also Cold War; Russia

Spain, 5, 16–17, 18, 20, 24 special operations forces (SOF), 4, 120, 122, 125, 131, 158 spending, military, 47, 63, 127 standoff warfare, 3, 6–7 standoff weapons, 9, 86–87, 89, 108 state: authority of, 36, 38, 41–43, 57–58, 196, 201; defined, 14n2; and just war, 148–49; legitimacy of, 1; pressure on, to deliver public goods, 56–57; in security, 65–66; social media and, 62; as unit of analysis, 1 statehood: defined, 14n2 state monopoly on violence (SMOV), 38, 44, 53n23, 66, 149 Strawser, Bradley J., 134 Stuxnet, 17, 18, 92–93, 135, 137 Sudan, 22, 45, 75, 88–89, 177, 183 Sun Tzu, 29, 137 surrogate(s): categories of, 23–28; coincidental, 27–28; and concept of security, 10–11; cooperation between, and patron, 23; defined, 4; direct, 23; forms of, 18–22; indirect, 24–27; nonstate actors as, 123–25; patron responsibility for misconduct by, 153–59; strategic, 23–24; as term, 4; types, 122–23 surrogate warfare, 4–7; as actual warfare, 81–82; autonomy in, 121–39; conceptualization of, 56–82, 59, 69; control in, 121–39; expeditionary, 175–76; history of, 5, 16–29; as just warfare, 144–61; model of, 65–73, 69; motivations for, 73–80; principal-agent problem in, 117–20; proportionality of, 151–52; as rationalization of war, 68–69 swarmbots, 136 swarming tactics, with unmanned platforms, 107 Syria, 122; al-Qaeda and, 26; botnets and, 104; chemical weapons use in, 9; cyber warfare in, by Israel, 92; departure of patrons in, from surrogate agenda, 128–29; Hezbollah and, 27, 149; Iran and, 159, 169, 170, 178–80, 184–85, 189; Israel and, 89; just war and, 148, 161; Lebanon and, 130; nonstate surrogates in, 124–25; patron-surrogate relationships in, 26, 27– 28; Russia and, 9–10, 23–24, 27–28, 47,

Index 241

76; self-determination in, 148; Shabiha in, 22, 161; United States and, 9, 26, 70, 126. See also Assad, Bashar al-; Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), 70 Syrian People’s Army, 177, 180 Tabatabai, Ariane M., 168, 178 Tadic´, Duško, 158 takfiris, 168, 190n15 Taliban, 49, 75, 79, 90, 150. See also Afghanistan Tanzania, 198 Taranis, 106, 115n144 Taylor, Charles, 155, 159 technology, 21–22; control and, 131–39. See also artificial intelligence (AI); autonomous weapon systems (AWS); drone warfare; social media Telebots, 136 Tennyson, Alfred, 33 terrorism: control and, 122–23; drone warfare and, 90, 91; insurgency and, 95, 97–98; intangible threat and, 77; Iran and, 176, 177–78; Islamic State and, 57, 97; mediatization and, 197. See also War on Terror terrorist organizations, 4, 18, 21 Thailand, 161 Thatcher, Margaret, 44 Third Offset Strategy, 136, 143n96 Thirty Years’ War, 19 Thucydides, 19 Totale Krieg, Der (The total war) (Ludendorff), 33, 68 total war, 35, 60–62, 71, 76, 145 Transformation of War (Van Creveld), 10–11, 42 trans-Siberian gas pipeline, 92 Trenchard, Hugh, 87 trinitarian warfare, 7–8, 12, 35–39, 65. See also Clausewitz, Carl von Truman, Harry S., 86 Trump, Donald, 8, 49, 56, 78, 177–78 Tunisia, 94–95 UAE. See United Arab Emirates (UAE) Uganda, 26, 125, 129

242 Index

Ukraine, 9, 23–24, 72–73, 100, 112n85, 136, 149 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (UNCCW), 132–33 United Arab Emirates (UAE), 50, 75, 130– 31, 189, 197–98 United Kingdom, 5, 9, 14, 16–17, 20, 24, 44, 106, 126, 131 United Nations (UN): Charter, 147, 149; as incapable, 1 United States: in Afghanistan, 46, 74–75; counterinsurgency activity and, 74–75, 79–80; expanding portfolio of surrogate warfare of, 8–9; Revolutionary War in, 5, 20; Syria and, 9, 26, 70, 126; and War on Terror, 26 unmanned aerial platform, 87–88, 201. See also autonomous weapon systems (AWS); drone warfare urgency, of crisis, as motivation for surrogate warfare, 77–78 U-shaped chains, 122–23 USS Cole, 90 V-1, 87 Van Creveld, Martin, 10–11, 37, 42 Vattel, Emer de, 146 Venice, 19 Vietnam, 5, 20, 27, 39, 50, 63, 76, 87–88 vilayat-e faqih, 165–66, 186 Volk in Waffen, Das (Nation in arms) (Goltz), 33, 68 Wagner (private military company), 10 Walker, Mike, 135

Wallach, Wendell, 134 Wallenstein, Albrecht von, 19–20 Waltzman, Rand, 103 Walzer, Michael, 145 WannaCry, 135–36, 137 war nostalgia, 194 War on Terror, 26. See also terrorism war poetry, 34 Warsaw Pact, 25 “wars of choice,” 147 “wars of desire,” 147 Weber, Max, 38, 44, 45, 53n23, 66, 149 Weinberger, Naomi J., 117 WikiLeaks, 100, 109, 113n92 Wilders, Geert, 56 Williams, Michael C., 43, 198 Work, Bob, 138 World War I, 32, 39, 58, 61, 69 World War II, 5, 23, 39, 61, 86, 87, 131 X-47B, 106, 115n144 Yarosh, Dmytro, 100 Yemen, 129–30; Iran and, 76, 186; Saudi Arabia and, 25–26; United Arab Emirates and, 198. See also Houthis Yom Kippur War, 88 YPG. See Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) Yugoslavia, 158 Zonnour, Mojtaba, 174

About the Authors

Dr. Andreas Krieg is an assistant professor of security studies at King’s College London and is currently seconded to the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, where he applies his subject-matter expertise to professional military education. From 2013 to 2017, he was based with King’s College in Qatar, providing professional military education to officers from Gulf Cooperation Council militaries. In his research, Dr. Krieg has focused on a variety of different subjects relating to the academic discipline of security studies. Over the past ten years, he has researched subjects relating to just war theory, conflict studies, and nonstate violence, with a particular focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. His most recent books focus on the changing nature of civil−security sector relations amid a growing commercialization of security and on the nexus between security and sociopolitics in the Middle East after the Arab Spring. In parallel, he has focused on assemblages between state and nonstate actors in the developing world more widely. Outside of academia, Dr. Krieg has been able to draw on his expertise on Middle East security as a political-risk consultant for governmental and commercial clients in the MENA region. Dr. Jean-Marc Rickli is the head of global risk and resilience at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy in Geneva, Switzerland. He is also a visiting research fellow at King’s College London and a senior adviser for the AI Initiative at the Future Society at Harvard Kennedy School. He is also the cochair of the NATO Partnership for Peace Consortium Working Group on Emerging Security Challenges and an expert on autonomous weapon systems within the framework of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. In addition, he is also a nonresident fellow in modern warfare and security at TRENDS Research and Advisory in Abu Dhabi and an adviser at Gulf State Analytics in Washington. Prior to these appointments, Dr. Rickli was an assistant professor at the Department of Defence Studies of King’s College London, at the Joint Command and Staff College in Doha, and at the Institute of International and Civil Security at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi.


About the Authors

His research interests are in the security implications of emerging technologies, the transformations of war, European and Middle East security, and small states’ security. Dr. Rickli received his PhD and MPhil in international relations from the University of Oxford, where he was also a Berrow scholar at Lincoln College.