Fighting Fair: Military Technology and its (Mis)uses–Guest Post

Today, I will comment on something completely different—-politics and power. Some might argue that war and military conflict are inevitable, that warfare has existed since the beginning of humankind, and that rather than try to eliminate it, we must set conventions in order to “fight fair.” Certainly, numerous treaties, conventions, rules, and organizations exist, such as NATO. And yet, there are always those who will choose to violate or ignore the guidelines set by international organizations or national governments. For example, the Ottawa Treaty to ban landmines has not been signed by 40 countries—-including the United States!—-and this has certainly been a point of controversy. This leads us to ask, Why does our foreign policy often not stem from a more comprehensive, international perspective? That is, can the United States not benefit from incorporating other countries’ point of view when making our own security and defense decisions?

I now turn the discussion over to Professor Priya Satia of Stanford University, to share with readers her own thoughts on the matter, and have included a link to her latest article on
I am a professor of modern British history at Stanford University. My first book, Spies in Arabia: The Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain’s Covert Empire in the Middle East (OUP, 2008), explored the origins of the British “air control” schemes in the Middle East after World War I. It was published just as the United States began pursuing aerial approaches to counterinsurgency in the War on Terror. The British past sheds fascinating light on today’s strategy and its chances for success–that has been my motivation in writing and speaking about drones in recent years. My academic work has also appeared in several edited collections as well as journals such as the American Historical Review, Past & Present, and Technology and Culture. I have also written for popular media like the Financial Times, the Times Literary Supplement, and the Nation. Currently, I am working on a book on the gun trade in the eighteenth-century British empire as a way of understanding the role of the state and war in the industrial revolution.

Priya Satia is associate professor of history at Stanford University

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