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


  • I doubt that even the UN can do much on this matter. Acquisitions of tools like drones is closely related to the issues of masculinity and states' leaders (mostly men) do not like when matters like these are challenged!

  • @Ian yes, I see how there is often a prejudice against the tools of remote warfare and a blanket judgement is often cast as to which tools should be allowed and which ones should not be. For example, where the British government has specifically said that they would not seek to include automated drones in their fleet and that there will always be a 'human in...

  • @LyudmylaTkachenko I agree that states have the right to investigate an issue even if nobody is hurt in such an incident. There is no specific number of individuals who need to be hurt before a state can act. If something happens in its sovereign borders, it does and should act. We should also remember that a slow response or no response can embolden those...

  • @IanCampbell I am not sure if I fully agree with your points on drones. Their regulation is also as important as that of other aspects of remote warfare. It is just that we think that we know a lot more about them whereas in reality, we don't always....

    Also, your last point was perhaps about private security companies and not about state's own armies?...

  • @IanCampbell you are right - there will be resistance from states if they are asked to come up with international regulations on how they employ their special forces. They are inherently parts of their defence mechanisms and not many states are keen to have their power subservient to international rules. In the end, some classical would also suggest that...

  • @IanCampbell I agree with most of what you say but the key point is that 'war' itself is not easy to define. Russia has been waging attacks in Ukraine for over a year now and they still don't call it a war. One could say that they have been avoiding 'war' but we all know that the military damage is severe and it will take decades for Ukraine t recover from...

  • There is often resistance to any new technology but people end up adapting and adopting. Can we think of any other examples where there was similar kind of resistance?

  • @IanCampbell Agreed. Around a decade ago, there was a talk of introducing international regulations in this field but the United States resisted it strongly. Now we see that Iran is helping Russia and not much can be done about that. Perhaps some need of reflection for those who thought that the rest of the world will not be able to get this technology easily.

  • Even the boundary between wars and 'military operations' is blurry. A lot can happen in the grey zones without the publics in these democracies knowing. Yes, a lot is unknown about this phenomenon.

  • @johnwakenshaw how do you think we can improve that oversight?

  • Yes, democratic oversight is not always optimal in these remote wars. What do you think can be done to enhance that oversight?

  • @SafiullahMalik have you experienced any of these in your region? Please share your experience. Are there any drone strikes where you live? Have any external forces (American or NATO etc.) conducted any raids in your country's territory?

  • Thanks, Ian. Shadow wars are increasingly common and we know so little about them. Thanks for your input.

  • I would like to invite the learners to introduce themselves as and when possible. Thank you.

  • Welcome, everyone to the course. I hope you enjoy your learning on remote warfare. Please make sure to contribute your thoughts via the discussion forums so that we can have an even more productive experience.

  • 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?