Shadow Wars and Global Governance

We are aware of missing faculty photos in the directory and catalog and will be updating them shortly. Thank you for your patience.

Spring 2018 quarter

Taught by

international politics, political science, Middle East studies

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States has engaged in an expanding shadow war of drone strikes, targeted killings and clandestine operations around the world, largely removed from media coverage and public accountability. The United States currently is engaged in military activities in 19 countries under the legal authorities granted after 9/11. While war is traditionally conceived of as defending the state against external enemies who threaten to breach its borders, today’s wars more closely resemble a permanent global policing operation in which the state acts to regulate, discipline and pacify rebellious regions of the world in name of security, whether in the Middle East, Africa or the Pacific Rim.

This program will closely examine the history and growing use of drones, targeted killing and Special Operations Forces who act outside of traditional battlefields such as Iraq and Afghanistan and how these practices and agents have largely rendered traditional notions of war and national sovereignty obsolete. The program will consider theories about revolutions in the nature of war whether from technological or sociological developments and ask to what extent the new shadow wars represent a new form of war or a new American form of war. The program will also seek to ground its exploration in theories of contemporary globalization and the emergence of transnational challenges to states. This will entail a thorough engagement with a variety of perspectives that range from sympathetic texts such as Thomas P.M. Barnett’s The Pentagon’s New Map and Stanley McCrystal’s Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement in a Complex World to critical texts such as Gregoire Chemayou’s A Theory of the Drone and Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield , among others.

The program will be guided by a participatory approach to learning with a high level of student discussion and engagement expected, with strong encouragement of diverse perspectives. We will read texts and write papers but the key learning will take place through active participation and active student theorizing about the nature of contemporary war and the social and political factors at the root of war today.

Program Details

Fields of Study

biology international studies political science

Preparatory For

international studies and political science.


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

No Required Online Learning