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Schmittian Politics in the Age of Drones: An Analysis of Obama's War on Terror

Fairhead, Edward (2016) Schmittian Politics in the Age of Drones: An Analysis of Obama's War on Terror. Master of Law by Research (LLMRes) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:56683)

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Abstract

This thesis evaluates the Obama administration's use of drone strikes in the 'war on terror' in relation to what Carl Schmitt called the 'concept of the political'. After arguing that the Schmittian distinction between friend and enemy underlined Bush's war on terror, as did many scholars, I interrogate whether this is still true for Obama's war on terror. Obama's rhetorical legitimising strategy creates the appearance of difference to Bush, and is also far less overtly Schmittian; focusing instead on the legality and operational qualities of drone strikes. However, my analysis of the material and technological conditions of drone strikes shows that Obama misrepresents the nature of political relations in his war on terror. I uncover an alternative picture that highlights key paradoxes of the relation between user and receiver of force, the US military's treatment of civilian casualties, and the participation of technology and technological thought in producing these relations. I then map these analyses onto Schmitt's theory of the political division between friend and enemy in this 'age of technology'. Obama's 'enemy' is different to Schmitt's understanding and has also evolved in comparison with Bush's due to the approach taken to select the enemy in so-called 'signature strikes', and the role of technology in this process. The drive to annihilate the abstract enemy also extends well beyond Schmitt's understanding of defeat in war, and demonstrates the fine balance between hyperpoliticisation and transformed political relations. Based on the interpretation that the friend is formed in relation to political rhetoric, Obama's 'friend' grouping also evolves in comparison with Bush's. Thus, despite Obama's rhetoric making his war appear less Schmittian than did Bush, and the utilisation of the drone engendering some material and technological evolutions, Obama's war on terror is still tied to a Schmittian concept of the political.

Item Type: Thesis (Master of Law by Research (LLMRes))
Thesis advisor: Parsley, Connal
Uncontrolled keywords: Schmitt Drones War Terror Obama Bush Political Technology Rhetoric Dehumanisation
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2016 15:00 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2020 04:11 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/56683 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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