The Eye of War

A new book from Dr Antoine Bousquet explores the impact of global, individualised targeting technologies on modern-day warfare.

The growth and development of precision technology methods has changed warfare exponentially. From ubiquitous surveillance to drone strikes that put ‘warheads onto foreheads,’ we live in a world where globalised, individualised targeting is not only possible, but ever present. In new book The Eye of War, Dr Antoine Bousquet explores the implications of militarised perception for the nature of war in the twenty-first century and the place of human subjects within its increasingly technical armature.

What we have seen over several centuries is militarised perception come into ascendancy, bringing perception and annihilation into ever-closer alignment – what can be seen can be targeted. Dr Bousquet, Reader in International Relations at Birkbeck, argues that this is dissolving the conventionally bounded spaces of armed conflict.

He explains: “We are fast converging upon a world in which anything that can be perceived can be accurately targeted with deadly force, wherever it may be. This capability is giving rise to practices of global targeting best exemplified by the recent use of drone aircraft for the conduct of targeted killings.

“Such military powers might seem to hold the promise greater security for those that wield them. Yet they are simultaneously participating in a definitive erosion of the traditional boundaries between spaces of war and peace, a trend that is only further accelerated by the radical dissimulation of would-be targets into the civilian societies of their adversaries.”

The Eye of War explores the entanglement of the sciences and techniques of perception, representation, and localisation in the modern era amid the perpetual quest for military superiority. In a survey that ranges from the telescope, aerial photograph, and gridded map to radar, digital imaging, and the geographic information system, Bousquet shows how successive technological systems have profoundly shaped the history of warfare and the experience of soldiering.

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