This book explores whether the new capabilities made possible by precision-strike technologies are reshaping approaches to international intervention.

Since the end of the Cold War, US technological superiority has led to a more proactive and, some would argue, high risk approach to international military intervention. New technologies including the capacity to mount precision military strikes from high-level bombing campaigns and, more recently, the selective targeting of individuals from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have facilitated air campaigns, supported by Special Forces, without the commitment of large numbers of troops on the ground.

Such campaigns include, for example, NATO’s high-level aerial bombardment of Milosevic’s forces in Kosovo in 1999 and of Gaddafi’s in Libya in 2011, and the US operation involving Special Forces against Osama Bin Laden. The development of UAVs and electronic data intercept technologies has further expanded the potential scope of interventions, for example against Islamic militants in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

This volume examines three key and interrelated dimensions of these new precision-strike capabilities: (1) the strategic and foreign policy drivers and consequences; (2) the legal and moral implications of the new capabilities; and (3), the implications for decision-making at the strategic, operational and tactical levels.

This book will be of much interest to students of war and technology, air power, international intervention, security studies and IR.

part |91 pages

Strategic and foreign policy drivers and consequences

chapter |11 pages


Precision strike warfare and international intervention: strategic, ethico-legal, and decisional implications

chapter |19 pages

Dealing with risk

Precision strikes and interventionism in the Obama Administration

chapter |19 pages

European precision strike capabilities

A neoclassical realist perspective

chapter |19 pages

The political appropriation of casualties in threat construction

The case of US drone strikes in Pakistan

part |78 pages

Legal and moral implications

chapter |19 pages


Degrading moral thresholds for the use of force and the calculations of proportionality

chapter |19 pages

UAV for R2P?

Exploring the effectiveness and legitimacy of drones

part |63 pages

Implications for decision making at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels

chapter |18 pages

Unmanned weapons systems and just wars

The psychological dimension

chapter |19 pages

Keeping the human ‘in-the-loop'

A qualified defence of autonomous weapons

chapter |9 pages


Precision strikes – the way forward