Thursday, October 11, 2012
1014 Tisch Hall
It has become commonplace to claim that contemporary wars are fought from a distance: the iconic version is the drone missions flown over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere from the United States. Yet wars have been waged at a distance throughout history, and we need a surer sense of the historical curve through which military violence has shaped (and been shaped by) the friction of distance. But we also need a sharper calibration of war’s geography, including changes in military logistics, weapons systems, and the emergence of new media to convey the theatre of war to distant audiences. Yet for all these changes the ‘death of distance’ – and the distance of death – in today’s liquid world has been greatly exaggerated, and there remains a stark intimacy to many killing spaces that requires careful reflection. I will then become clear that the claim registered by Thomas Friedman's "brief history of the 21st century" – that "the world is flat" - is purblind and premature, even for the US military.