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Surrogate warfare: the art of war in the 21st century?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Andreas Krieg, Jean Marc Rickli

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-130
Number of pages18
JournalDefence Studies
Issue number2
Early online date21 Jan 2018
Accepted/In press15 Jan 2018
E-pub ahead of print21 Jan 2018


King's Authors


Airpower, drones and cyber-weapons are employed by states in conjunction with local armed non-state actors in an effort to coercively intervene in the crises of the twenty-first century. While the externalization of the burden of warfare is a return to pre-modern war, it is the change in the underlying socio-political relations between the state and its military agent that is a novel phenomenon in surrogate warfare. This article demonstrates that in a post-Westphalian era characterized by non-state violence, globalized conflicts, a prioritization of risk management in a mediatized environment, the state has to explore new ways to remain relevant as the primary communal security provider. Thereby, the organization of violence has departed from the employment of the state’s soldier as the primary bearer of the burden of warfare to a mode of war where technological and human surrogates enable the state to manage the risks of post-modern conflict remotely. In this article, we conceptually explore surrogate warfare as a socio-political phenomenon within the context of globalized, privatized, securitized and mediatized war.

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