American Military Culture and the Strategic Seduction of Remote Warfare

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This essay endeavours to answer the question of why the US National Security establishment puts such ever-expanding faith in remotely piloted drones in a strategic bombing role in fighting twenty-first-century wars. This essay argues, one: the use of strategic air power has been shaped by long-term historical factors surrounding an imbalanced emphasis on the science of warfare in the United States military beginning in the nineteenth century stretching back to the founding of the US Military Academy at West Point. Two, twenty-first-century drone warfare fits into the larger historical context surrounding the development of a uniquely American version of strategic bombing theory during the inter-war period and carried out in World War II. That theory promoted a technological determinism that lives on despite the repeated failure of strategic bombing to live up to expectations largely because the creation of the independent Air Force in 1947 rested upon the perceived achievements of US strategic bombing during the war.