Policy Press

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Vicarious Warfare

American Strategy and the Illusion of War on the Cheap

By Thomas Waldman

Published

20 Jan 2021

Page count

224 pages

ISBN

978-1529206999

Dimensions

234 x 156 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press

Published

20 Jan 2021

Page count

224 pages

ISBN

978-1529207033

Dimensions

Imprint

Bristol University Press
£19.99 £15.99You save £4.00 (20%)
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    Vicarious Warfare

    America has been at war for most of the 20th and 21st centuries and during that time has progressively moved towards a vicarious form of warfare, where key tasks are delegated to proxies, the military’s exposure to danger is limited, and special forces and covert instruments are on the increase. Important strategic decisions are taken with minimal scrutiny or public engagement.

    This compelling account charts the historical emergence of this distinctive tradition of war and explains the factors driving its contemporary prominence. It contrasts the tactical advantages of vicarious warfare with its hidden costs and potential to cause significant strategic harm.

    “For anyone concerned with the human cost of war (as we all should be), Waldman offers a key to unlocking the ‘alchemy’ of America’s fighting strategy. This richly researched and thoughtful book finally gives us words to describe the troubling path we’re on. Vicarious war indeed.” Sarah Holewinski, Washington Director, Human Rights Watch

    "An urgently needed study of the rise of fighting in the shadows, from proxies to special forces. More than that, it throws light on a dangerous tendency in public life, whereby decisions for conflict are removed from the glare of republican scrutiny and armed conflict itself, left unchecked, becomes routine." Patrick Porter, Professor of International Security and Strategy, University of Birmingham

    Thomas Waldman is a Senior Lecturer in International Security Studies at Macquarie University, Sydney. He is author of War, Clausewitz and the Trinity (2013) and numerous journal articles on strategy, contemporary warfare and international security.

    Introduction: The Alchemy of War;

    PART I: Historical Background;

    1. A Vicarious Instinct;

    2. Perversions of Power;

    PART II: American Experiences;

    3. Ambivalent Beginnings;

    4. Cold Warfare;

    PART III: Contemporary Dynamics;

    5. Drivers;

    6. Emergence;

    7. Consequences;

    Conclusions.