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Empire of DefenseRace and the Cultural Politics of Permanent War$
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Joseph Darda

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226632896

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226633084.001.0001

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Epilogue: Defense in the Fifth Domain

Epilogue: Defense in the Fifth Domain

(p.186) Epilogue: Defense in the Fifth Domain
Empire of Defense

Joseph Darda

University of Chicago Press

The epilogue follows Barack Obama’s transformation from antiwar presidential candidate to war president. While he drew down the state’s ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama further militarized what defense officials call “the fifth domain” through drone and cyber technologies, seeing remote attacks as more humane, less violent, and not war at all. But remote war cannot and should not be distinguished from conventional war. It should instead be recognized as the latest iteration of a racial regime of defense that has encouraged and obscured permanent war across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries by separating the people, places, and beliefs to be defended from those to be integrated or abolished. The Obama administration’s turn to remote technologies in the war on terror did not result in less violence and fewer lives lost. Instead, emergent technologies have augmented the execution of state violence and, by removing American bodies from the battlefield, eased its continuation. The ongoing debate as to whether drone and cyber attacks constitute war—like the backlash to the proposed and then scrapped Distinguished Warfare Medal to honor drone pilots and cyber operators—restages the troubled cultural politics of unending war.

Keywords:   war on terror, cyber war, drones, Barack Obama, Distinguished Warfare Medal, Sony hack

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