Dr Wali Aslam

Dr Wali Aslam

I am Associate Professor in International Security at the University of Bath, United Kingdom. I am interested in the fields of international security and International Relations theory.

Location Bath, United Kingdom


  • Yes, it has ethical implications though- at what stage using such a lethal weapon is justified? Would waiting any longer have been counter productive?

  • Good suggestion Andy. In the meantime, would you like to share with us any info that you may know about?

  • Hi Andy, I have talked about that aspect in Week 2 wrap-up video. You may want to have a look if you have not already done so.

  • Hi Lee, good to meet you. Hope you will find the cours productive.

  • John, we also enjoyed reading your comments. Happy learning going forward and thank you for your kind words about the video.

  • @JohnCope Thank you for your kind words. Please take a few minutes to leave a review on the FutureLearn platform too if you can.

  • Soo is right - we tend to focus too much on the West. We also have many non-Western countries investing in RCW and quite often the mechanisms of oversight are severally limited. That is why there have been talks of creating international regulatory regimes. However, many Western countries would not like that though they stand to benefit from such regimes in...

  • @JohnCope There have been cases whey they have tried to teach the machines to target anyone with a gun. The machines have, in turn, highlighted people for targeting who were carrying musical instruments or farming tools. Machines also make mistakes like humans...

  • @EddieGalvin I agree with Soo. My guess is that we will likely see a greater reduction in international armed conflicts (that was instigated in the name of "protecting civilians" abroad) and states will find other ways to fight their wars such as causing internal disruption. There is simply no more patience on the part of the public to pay for these expensive...

  • @EduardoMórlan Thanks for sharing the movies. I have not heard of Killer Elite before. Is it any good?

  • A self-fulfilling prophecy. But it is also known that militants come to the rescue of their brethren and double strikes do 'take out' more militants. It is a tough call and messy business but I see your point.

  • @JohnCope Robert Jackson has talked about the 'situational ethics of statecraft' according to which he argues that quite often those making decisions at a certain point know the situation the best and their judgement should be trusted. Of course, there are also chances of abuse as people in authority can also say that their views cannot be challenged. It goes...

  • @KarenSeers But Karen how do we hear the voices of the civilians. An invading power is unable to hold a referendum on every matter that comes its way. I wonder if a better thought is to hold the intervening powers accountable through international processes of rule of law or through domestic accountability. Wars are often messy and it is not possible to apply...

  • Pl see my comment below. It would be good to hear what you think of it @JillHind

  • It is great that you are having a good learning experience and we do appreciate your comments (as our student mentor will also agree). The bigger question is still unanswered though. Do we need a world policeman? Are we not seeing a reverting back to the domestic politics so much that there seems to be less and less desire on the part of the states to be...

  • Absolutely - I agree with you and the point was brought up in the video to re-emphasise the importance of paying attention to what is being said. Given the inherent need to go beyond our pre-conceptions, it is essential that we keep reminding our policy elites of the fact that they are also humans with biases and prejudices that can impact policy.

  • I think we underestimate the role of social media in encouraging or promoting that mentality. In certain authoritarian states, SM is used very effectively to compliment the mainstream media. The general public normally do not have sufficient resources to counter the onslaught.

  • @JohnCope There are a variety of reasons as we say in the videos. A lot has to do with the ease of fighting wars or conducting security operations. Let's see if this trend continues after the pandemic given the hit on states' defence budgets.

  • @ConnorMcDermott what if disabling networks/electricity kills patients in hospitals or other care facilities? What about the disruption to ordinary people's lives? Is that fair price?

  • Machiavelli famously said that international politics works on the basis of 'duel morality' and the set of ethics that apply internally do not apply externally. The problem is that in a diverse world, we do not have a single set of moral rules one can apply.

  • @PhilipSouthern @SooEngHao(StudentMentor) You might also like this excellent short video about drone pilots: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-8dW1dg7KY

  • @PhilipSouthern The problem with the ICC is the lack of enforcement mechanisms. Nobody will dare arrest a US soldier because there will be an adverse reaction from that country.

    You also talk about other interesting factors that relate to the issue of morality in world politics. Do you think that the matters of ethics and morality apply internationally? If...

  • It can go both ways. It is also easier to hide things with the help of modern technologies. Look at some of the forces operating in Mali and how they are engaged in clandestine actions. The Russian activities in Ukraine also come in this category. More technology does not alwayd mean more transparency. Think about how we use VPNs to hide identities.

  • Hi Maria, I have posted an article in the next step about private companies. Pl tell me what you think when you have had the chance to read it.

  • What about the abuse of power then? Who will hold these individuals accountable if they commit crimes. By the way, you may like this article on the private security companies: https://www.dawn.com/news/1623012/shadow-soldiers

    I would be keen to hear your and other learners' thoughts on this article going forward.

    Happy learning!

  • But they laid the foundations for what came after. Do you agree? It is often the case that a technology itself is not valuable but it creates the space and need for what is to come afterwards. For example, think of floppy disks and CDs and how they paved the way for all the cloud-based storage systems. Can you think of any other such technology too? It does...

  • Do you think that there are inherent differences in how people perceive wars depending on their genders?

  • Please share with us your thoughts on the points about oversight. Do you think that it is harder to oversee this type of warfare due to the degree of detachment from the chain of command.

  • Students can even go to the next week if they have finished this week's work but we will only focus on this week when commenting. We will start the comments on the next week from next Monday onward.

  • Yes, thanks. I have already been engaging with your comments regarding what happens later in the week. So, please feel free to complete all the steps of the week whenever you are free. We are ready to engage with you in each step :)

  • Professor Durodie has delivered some good lectures on big data which you could find if you did some internet searches. Please don't forget to share your thoughts if you have had the chance to listen to them.

  • Normally, we don't include them because there is not that degree of detachment from the chain of command in the cyber warfare that we experience in the three methods studied here. The point is to note that these three methods enable more 'grey' areas to develop due to the distance. There are lot more chances of abuse and crime.

  • Even drones are not that new as we say in some of the videos. I mean the use of arrows thousands of years ago was an earlier manifestation of the same phenomenon. Perhaps we keep going in circles?

  • Depends on which country. Not very cheap for a number of less-developed countries. These technologies are not readily available and you have to pay a lot of money to get hold of them. May be for richer countries it is cheaper. But a lot depends on how you define expensive and cheap. The cost to one's legitimacy and image can be an expensive hit. Do you agree?

  • Yes, the key task is to learn how these technologies are changing the calculus of strategies and policies. A slightly different question: do you think ethics are still relevant in contemporary wars? Are we seeing a resurgence of ethics compared to ten years ago? What role does social media play in our understanding of the ethical discussions?

  • Absolutely. The calculus changes tremendously. What do you think is the solution then? Should their use be restricted?

  • Do drones make people more 'trigger happy'? Can they help enhance the frequency? If yes, can there be more chances of making mistakes and targeting the wrong people?

  • Jill, you could perhaps share with us your thoughts on how older societies innovated in their own ways to make it easier to achieve their objectives in war?

  • Conflict remains the same, what do you think? The key question is: does technology make us more prone to fighting or less?

  • Welcome to the course! We would also like to learn from your experience and how you make sense of the key points on this course. Surely, you will be able to see things differently compared to someone who has never served in the military. Feel free to share your thoughts and tell us how to re-interpret things differently in the light of your experience.

  • One question for us to think: is the focus on technology overblown? Our instincts keep determining our course of action regardless of what type of weaponry we use... What do you think?

  • You are welcome. We look forward to working with all of you.

  • Thank you Georgina - I have mentioned you in my video too for the end of the week. Please have a look.

  • So grateful for your kind words Francisco! Wishing you all the success.

  • Thank you Kirsty - wishing you all the best with your learning...

  • Dr Wali Aslam made a comment

    A lot of really interesting discussion about nuclear weapons this week. Please watch this video to learn more about the dangers of nuclear proliferation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7hOpT0lPGI

  • Yes, it was Cook who believed that both can go together but, as you said, he did not get very far sadly. But does that mean that we stop trying to combine the two?

  • Thanks for sharing the resource.

  • @WimPelt try to request the author for a free copy here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324954803_Do_US_Drone_Strikes_Cause_Blowback_Evidence_from_Pakistan_and_Beyond

    You can also send him an email here: http://www.ou.edu/cis/ias/faculty/aqil-shah

    In most cases, they do oblige.

  • @ShaunTarling I have been doing some research on the cases where the outcomes were slightly more positive. Kosovo and Sierra Leone come to my mind straight away. I do think that in both cases, the interveners started deliberating for the 'day after' very soon after engaging in the use of force. For other cases, that deliberation either came quite late or did...

  • @BobWagg I am so pleased that we had you on the course. Your comment regarding further research and study on the matter from the perspective of just war theory is really helpful and hope that someone looks at it in the near future. We always welcome learners' view regarding the way forward as far future research is concerned and you have provided far more than...

  • We hope that you will continue to learn about these topics, especially about the private companies. That is an area about which we know almost nothing.

  • I am so touched reading your comment. The main thing is that the course has sparked your interest in learning more and knowing more about the points you have referred to in your comment. As someone (Aristotle?) once said that good knowledge should not just provide answers, it should raise further questions. We hope that this course has done that for you...

  • But the whole point is to develop mechanisms that can work without emotions and impulse. The idea is that automated means can be truly based on evidence without space for prejudice and bias. The crucial question is who defines what counts as 'evidence'?

  • @IanNiven That can be said about any technology. Who could have thought that it was possible to bomb Afghanistan through unmanned machines while sitting in the deserts of Nevada. Around a hundred years ago, nobody could have predicted the creation of a machine in which you drop your clothes and get them out in one hour all clean and dry.

  • @GeorginaHnatiuk it is easier said than done when someone asserts that they will not play a major role in the post-intervention scenario. As they say, if you break it, you own it. Once you are there and you have disrupted the state's institutions and structures, you have a responsibility to set it right. Would you not agree?

  • @n'nancocquotchrystellekouassi the line is very thin and hard to define. Who will decide which scenario is about what eventuality?

  • Their actual value lies in the hope that they would never be used, of course... However, I wonder if sometime we tend to exaggerate the threat of nuclear weapons and by doing so, we allow certain reckless actions on the part of the interveners. For example, the intervention in Iraq was excessively justified to counter the WMD threat. The threat was used as a...

  • Yes, 'human in the loop' but are there circumstances when you would consider slightly relaxing that rule? I mean, if there is a lot of information to handle and a threat is imminent, can we enable the algorithms to take charge to prevent such an attack? Any exceptions at all?

  • @AlexHamilton I am surprised that you would still call it non-intervention. I would like to think that this was a major intervention with disastrous consequences. After all, an intervention is not conducted only if there are boots on the ground...

  • @WimPelt you might want to look at this great article in the journal International Security on whether drones persuade terrorists to hit back. I would be keen to hear your thoughts. Here is the link: https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/isec_a_00312

  • But the problem is that nobody goes in a war to inflict unnessary harm. They always say that circumstances made them do it....