Digital War: Rhetoric, Risks & Realities
Department of Media Studies and Film
The New School
Fall 2013

Instructor: Peter Asaro asarop AT
Teaching Assistant: Dinka Dumičić dumid184 AT
Time: Thursday, 6:00 - 7:50 pm
Location: 6 East 16th Street 911

Course webpage is here:

Course blog is here:

Course Description

This course examines the complex relationship between digital technologies and warfare, from both the perspective of how wars are conducted, and how conflict is represented in and through media. In the late 1990s the US military committed itself to pursuing Network-Centric Warfare and Full-Spectrum Dominance, which eventually led to the largest military R&D contract in history--the Future Combat Systems program. Several years, two wars, and many billions of dollars later, those digital technologies are finding their way onto the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Global War on Terror. This course focuses on exploring the technologies and media that are having the greatest impact on the way war will be fought in the near future, as well as the cultural meanings of warfare, and the use of digital technologies to organize resistance and bring down political regimes. We explore how these technologies are changing the nature of warfare, and the rhetoric that is used to justify the development and use of these technologies, and how news media both discusses these technologies and is itself increasingly shaped by them. The course critically examines the claims that technologies can produce increasingly risk-free, or even bloodless, wars, and considers how the risks of engaging in armed conflict are being redistributed. We also examine how blogs and other digital tools are transforming war journalism, and how social media are being used in popular uprisings. Topics discussed include: the military's use of video game technology for recruitment, training, and remote interfaces; the use of database systems to manage vast quantities of information in warfare, as well as for data-mining and surveillance; the increasing use of military robotics including armed Predator and Reaper drones, and the development of fully autonomous lethal robots; and the use digital media by independent journalists and of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as cell-phone cameras in the Arab Spring and other popular uprisings and demonstrations.


Class Attendance & Participation 25%
Presentation: 5%
Blog Entries & Comments: 20%
Research Project Idea: 5%
Research Project Proposal: 15%
Final Project Presentation 5%
Final Research Project: 25%

Class Attendance and Participation: 25%

You are expected to have thoroughly and thoughtfully read the assigned texts, viewed the assigned videos, and to have prepared yourself to contribute meaningfully to the class discussions. For some people, that preparation requires taking copious notes on the assigned readings; for others, it entails supplementing the assigned readings with explanatory texts found in survey textbooks or in online sources; and for others still, it involves reading the texts, ruminating on them afterwards, then discussing those readings with classmates before the class meeting. Whatever method best suits you, I hope you will arrive at class with copies of the assigned reading, ready and willing to make yourself a valued contributor to the discussion, and eager to share your own relevant media experiences and interests. Your participation will be evaluated in terms of both quantity and quality.

As this is a seminar, regular attendance is essential. You will be permitted two excused absences (you must notify me of your inability to attend before class, via email). Any subsequent absences and any un-excused absences will adversely affect your grade.

Presentations: 5%

Each week we will have a student prepare comments and initate discussion on selected reading assignments. Each student is required to do 1 such presentation over the course of the semester. There will be 1 each week, and there will be a sign-up sheet.

The goal of the presentation is to provide a short high-level critical analysis and assessment of the week's readings, followed by the initiation of class discussion. You are free to use visual aids, but elaborate PowerPoint presentations are unnecessary. DO NOT try to exhaustively summarize the readings! Everyone has already read them, it is your responsibility to bring out the key arguments, challenge their claims or conclusions, or otherwise synthesize your own analysis of what conclusions can be drawn or what further questions they raise.

Blog Entries & Comments: 20% (+ up to 10% extra credit)

You will be required to make weekly blog entries commenting on the readings for the week. You will be required to create an account on WordPress (if you do not already have one), and send me an email with your LoginID and the EMAIL ADDRESS used to create the account, so that you can be added as an author for the collective course blog. Everyone will be posting to a common blog page, and this will be readable by your classmates. When writing and making comments, you are expected to treat other students with the same respect and courtesy as you should in the classroom.

Discussion questions will be posted each week to help stimulate the writing process. You are also expected to read the posts of your classmates, and encouraged to comment on other people's posts each week. Posts will not be graded (they will receive 2, 1 or 0 points based on timely completion), but the TA and I will read them and occasionally comment on them. There will be 10 posts through the semester, thus 20 points, constituting 20% of your grade.

Comments are strongly encouraged, and you can receive up to 10 points (extra credit) for each substantial comment (paragraph or longer) that you make on someone else's post.

Blog posts will be due before the start of each class. They are time stamped when you post them, and late posts will only receive half credit (1 point). Discussion questions for the next week will be posted shortly after each class.

Research Project Idea: 5%
Research Project Proposal: 15%
Final Project Presentation 5%
Final Research Project: 25%

Research Project Idea Due: September 26
Length: 300-500 words (approx. 1 page)

Research Project Proposal Due: October 31
Length: 500-2000 words (approx. 1-4 pages)

Final Project Presentation: December 12

Final Project Due: December 16
Length (media project description): 500-3000 words (approx. 1-10 pages) + Media Project
Length (research paper option): 3000-5000 words (approx. 10-18 pages)

There will be no final exam. Instead, a final research project will be required. There are 2 options: Research Paper Option, and Media Project Option.

Final Project will be due shortly after the last day of class. If that deadline will not work for you, you need to make other arrangements one week in advance, at the latest. We will try to set aside time in the last day(s) of class for presentations of final projects. These will not be graded but will offer an opportunity for feedback before submitting your final project.

Project topics can address any aspect of the topics and materials discussed in class. Projects should include materials beyond what is directly covered in class, as appropriate for your topic. In other words, they should require research. The blog will provide many ideas for projects, as will class discussion. You will be asked to submit a short description of your Project Idea early in the semester, and will receive feedback on it.

Later in the semester you will have to write a more formal Proposal for your project, based on feedback and further research. Project proposals should state the research question, problem, or phenomenon that will be the focus of your research. It should also state your thesis or position on the issue, as well as outline the argument you will use to support your position. This applies to both papers and media projects. You should also indicate the sources and materials you will consult and utilize in making your argument and producing your final project. For the Media Project Option, you should state as clearly as possible what you intend to deliver for the final draft (i.e., video length, style, format, content; website; set of infographics, etc.).

Final Project Presentations will occur on the last day of class. These should be short 5-10 minutes summary of your research paper or project, allowing 5-10 minutes for discussion. Group projects can be presented collectively.

Research Paper Option
This will take the form of a 3000-5000 word (Times New Roman, 12pt font, double spaced) term paper. You should draw upon sources from the course readings as well as beyond the course readings. You should cite your sources properly.

Media Project Option
Media Projects can take the form of film and video pieces, audio documentaries, websites, interactive media, performance pieces, infographics, a social media campaign strategy, or other ideas. In addition to the actual media product, you will need to submit your Idea, Proposal, and a Final short written piece explaining your project, its motivations, methods and what you did to realize it.

Group Project Option
Those pursuing the Media Project Option have the further option of participating in a group research project. For the students pursuing this option, the process will be much the same, with the Idea being an individual statement of what you plan to contribute to the group project, and the Proposal and Final projects being collective efforts to realize the research project. In addition, each person choosing this option must submit a 1-page self-assessment of their participation in the group, due at the same time as the Final project.

For the Group Project Option, the topic will be to develop social media strategy and/or media content for the International Committee for Robot Arms Control ( As a co-founder of this organization, I will provide guidance to the group. However, it is largely up to the group to conceive and develop the project. The actual project could range from a high-level media strategy, to infographics and clickable content, to a social media campaign, to an audio/video or digital media project, or any combination of these or other ideas.
Last year's group project included a performance piece (with live drone and event poster), a short documentary film, and website:

Autonomous Weapons

Papers and written ideas and proposals should be submitted to me in electronic form by email (Word Perfect, MS Word, PDF, HTML and plain TXT are all fine). All assignments are due at 6pm at the start of class on the day they are due. Late final papers will not be accepted, as I must turn in grades shortly thereafter.


Extra Credit & Make-ups

In addition to the extra points available for commenting on blog posts, there will be several events during the semester which will allow you to get extra credit points, or make-up for missed (excused) classes.


All readings will be available electronically, via the web, in PDF, MS Word, HTML, or similar format. You are welcome and encouraged to buy any of the books used.


Week 1: August 29
Course Introduction

Course Syllabus Overview

Student Introductions

How to create a WordPress Account, and make a Blog Entry

Watch: Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras Interview with Edward Snowden Part I, 12 min., The Guardian, July 9, 2013, and Part II, 7 min., The Guardian, July 8, 2013

Week of September 5
NO CLASS: Rosh Hashanah

Part I: Tomorrow's Wars, Today

Week 2: September 12
Edward Snowden, NSA Surveillance & the Media


Brett Max Kaufman, "A Guide to What We Now Know About the NSA's Dragnet Searches of Your Communications," ACLU Blog, August 9, 2013.

Peter Maass, "How Laura Poitras Helped Snowden Spill His Secrets," New York Times, August 13, 2013.

Peter Masss, "Q & A: Edward Snowden Talks to Peter Maass," New York Times, August 13, 2013.

Rachel Nolan, "Behind the Cover Story: Peter Maass on How He Got the Very Secret Laura Poitras to Open Up," New York Times, August 19, 2013.

Glenn Greenwald, "Glenn Greenwald: detaining my partner was a failed attempt at intimidation," The Guardian, August 18, 2013.

Glenn Greenwald, "'Sending a message': what the US and UK are attempting to do," The Guardian, August 21, 2013.

Glenn Greenwald, "'Snowden: UK government now leaking documents about itself," The Guardian, August 23, 2013.

Glenn Greenwald, "'Ongoing NSA Work," The Guardian, August 27, 2013.

Barton Gellman, "NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds," Washington Post, August 15, 2013.

Barton Gellman, "First direct evidence of illegal surveillance found by the FISA court," Washingtron Post, August 15, 2013.

Spencer Ackerman, "Lavabit email service abruptly shut down citing government interference," The Guardian, August 9, 2013.

Dominic Rushe, "Lavabit founder: 'My own tax dollars are being used to spy on me'," The Guardian, August 22, 2013.

Shane Harris, "The Cowboy of the NSA," Foreign Policy, September 9, 2013.

Watch:Laura Poitras, "The Program," 8 min., New York Times Op-Doc, August 22, 2013.

Watch:Glenn Greenwald & Amy Goodman, "Greenwald: Snowden "Doing Very Well" in Russia After Sparking "Extraordinary Debate" on NSA, Spying," 29 min., Democracy Now!, August 5, 2013.

Watch:Ladar Levinson & Amy Goodman, "Owner of Snowden’s Email Service on Why He Closed Lavabit Rather Than Comply With Gov’t," 48 min., Democracy Now!, August 13, 2013.


Wikipedia, "Edward Snowden"

Wikipedia, "National Security Agency"

Wikipedia, "PRISM (surveillance program)"

Wikipedia, "FISA Court"

James Bamford, "The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)," Wired, March 15, 2012.

Aliya Sternstein, "NSA's Big Dig," Government Executive, August 1, 2013.

Week 3: September 19
WikiLeaks, Anonymous, Kim Dotcom & Bradley/Chelsea Manning


E. Gabriella Coleman (2011) "Anonymous: From the Lulz to Collective Action," The New Everyday,April 06, 2011

Allison Powell (2011) "The WikiLeaks Phenomenon and New Media Power," The New Everyday,April 08, 2011

Jayson Harsin, "Wikileaks’ Lessons For Media Theory and Politics," Flow, January 15, 2011.

Evgeny Morozov, "The age of the WikiLeaks-style vigilante geek is over," The Guardian, February 4, 2011.

Fouad Ajami, "WikiLeaks and the Art of Diplomacy," Hoover Institute blog, Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2010.

Yochai Benkler, "A Free Irresponsible Press: Wikileaks and the Battle Over the Soul of the Networked Fourth Estate," Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, forthcoming.

Victoria Brownworth, "Op-ed: How Bradley Manning Changed The Fate of Whistleblowers", The Advocate, July 31, 2013.

Marjorie Cohn, "Bradley Manning: An American Hero," Pvt. Manning Support Network Blog, July 31, 2013.

Wikileaks, "Response to Today’s Bradley Manning Statement,", August 14, 2013.

Peter Ludlow, "The Banality of Systematic Evil," Op-ed, New York Times, September 15, 2013.

Watch: Jouneyman Pictures, "Mega Man - New Zealand," March 4, 2013, YouTube, 20 min.

Watch: 3 News, New Zealand, "Kim Dotcom Addresses NZ Parliament," July 3, 2013, YouTube, 18 min.

Watch: 3 News, New Zealand, "Kim Dotcom: Leaks by Snowden," July 3, 2013, YouTube, 7 min.

Watch: Frontline (2011) WikiSecrets, PBS, 60 min.

Watch: Amy Goodman, "Full Extended Interview With Julian Assange on WikiLeaks Crackdown," Democracy Now!, May 29, 2013, 40 min.

Watch:Amy Goodman, "Full Extended Interview With WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange on Manning Guilty Verdict," Democracy Now!, July 31, 2013, 43 min.

Watch: Amy Goodman, "Full Extended Interview With Manning’s Attorney After 35-Year Sentence," 57 min., Democracy Now!, August 22, 2013, 57 min.


Watch: Kyle Broom, "Prevention of Injury" (2011), 21 min.

Watch: Alex Gibney, "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks" (2013), 130 min.

Watch: Democracy Now! (2011) Special: "Conversation w/ Assange & Zizek," 120 min.

Watch: Democracy Now! (2012) "Julian Assange on WikiLeaks," Nov. 29, 2012, 55 min.

Watch: "Collateral Murder," Wikileaks, April 5, 2010.

Wikipedia, "Bradley Manning"

Wikipedia, "Wikileaks"

Wikipedia, "Anonynous (group)"

Lecture on Drones & Autonomous Weapons at the Hannah Arendt Center,
Monday, September 23

Cocktails at 6:30 pm
Discussion at 7:00 pm

Bard's MBA for Sustainable Business
1150 Sixth Ave. 5th floor, NYC

Week 4: September 26
Project Ideas Due
Military Robotics I: Introduction & Overview


Watch: DocZone, (2011) Remote Control War, CBC, 45 min. Watch AVI here (540MB).

Watch: Frontline (2009) Taking out the Taliban: Home for Dinner, PBS, 15 min.

Watch: Nova (2013) Rise of the Drones, January 23, 2013, PBS, 53 min.

Watch: Omer Fast (2011) 5,000 Feet is the Best, 30 min. [select from "Online Preview" menu]

Peter W. Singer, "Coming Soon to a Battlefield Near You: The Next Wave of Warbots," in Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century, New York: Penguin Press, 2009, pp. 109-134.

William Wan and Peter Finn (2011) "Global race on to match U.S. drone capabilities," Washington Post, July 4, 2011.

Edward Wong, "Hacking U.S. Secrets, China Pushes for Drones," New York Times, September 20, 2013.

Bradley Peniston, "Deptula: 'Combat Cloud' is 'New Face of Long-range Strike'," Armed Forces Journal, September 18, 2013.

John Markoff, "Military Lags in Push for Robotic Ground Vehicles," New York Times, September 22, 2013.


Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2011-2036, US Department of Defense, Reference Number: 11-S-3613.

Watch: Alex Rivera (2008) Sleep Dealer, Likely Story, 90 min.

Watch: Neill Blomkamp (2007) Tetra Vaal, Spy Films, 2 min.

Week 5: October 3
Military Robotics II: Targeted Killings


"U.N. warns against extrajudicial killings," UPI, Oct. 21, 2011.

Jo Becker and Scott Shane (2012) "Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will," New York Times, May 26, 2012.

Greg Miller (2012) "CIA seeks to expand drone fleet, officials say," Washington Post, October 18, 2012.

James Cavallaro, Sarah Knuckey, et al. (2012) "Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan," September 2012.

Naureen Shah, et al. (2012) "The Civilian Impact of Drones: Unexamined Costs, Unanswered Questions," September, 2012.

Grégoire Chamayou (2011) "The Manhunt Doctrine," Radical Philosophy, Volume 169, Sep/Oct 2011.

Jenna Jordan, (2009) "When Heads Roll: Assessing the Effectiveness of Leadership Decapitation," Security Studies, 18, pp. 719-755.

Philip Alston (2011) "The CIA and Targeted Killings Beyond Borders,". New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers. Paper 303.

Mark Isikoff, "Justice Department memo reveals legal case for drone strikes on Americans," NBC News, February 4, 2013. Also: Full Memo

Gregory D. Johnsen, "Did an 8-Year-Old Spy for America?" The Atlantic Monthly, August 14, 2013.

Wajahat Ali, "Drone victim: U.S. strikes boost al-Qaida recruitment," Salon, May 2, 2013.

Watch: Frontline (2011) Kill/Capture, PBS, 60 min.

Watch: Democracy Now! (2012) "Study Finds U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan Miss Militant Targets and "Terrorize" Civilians", September, 26, 2012, 51 min.

Explore: website

Explore: Bureau of Investigative Journalism "Covert Drone War" website

Explore: Pitch Interactive Visualization of BIJ Drone Strike Data


Explore: New America Foundation (2012) "The Year of the Drone: Analysis of US Drone Strikes in Pakistan"

Philip Alston (2010) "Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Study on targeted killings,"United Nations, May 28, 2010.

Christina Bonnington and Spencer Ackerman (2012) "Apple Rejects App That Tracks U.S. Drone Strikes," Wired DangerRoom Blog, August 30, 2012.

Seth G. Jones and Martin C. Libicki, "How Terrorist Groups End: Implications for Countering al Qa'ida", RAND Corporation, MG-741-RC, 2008, 252 pp.

International Committee of the Red Cross (2009) "Interpretive guidance on the notion of direct participation in hostilities under international humanitarian law," ICRC publication, 2009.

Karen DeYoung (2012) "A CIA veteran transforms U.S. counterterrorism policy," Washington Post, October 24, 2012.

Craig Whitlock (2012) "Remote U.S. base at core of secret operations," Washington Post, October 25, 2012.

Greg Miller and Julie Tate (2011) "CIA shifts focus to killing targets," Washington Post, September 1, 2011.

Dana Priest and William M. Arkin (2011) "Top Secret America: A look at the military's Joint Special Operations Command," Washington Post, September 2, 2011.

Wednesday, October 9

Two Lectures of interest at Columbia University

"Should We Fear the Proliferation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles?" by Andrea Gilli,moderated by Stephanie Neuman
12:15pm - 2:00pm
Columbia University Morningside Campus International Affairs Building, Room 1302

"Snowden and the Future" Lecture by Eben Moglen
4:30 - 5:30pm
Jerome Greene Hall, Columbia Law School, Room 101

Week 6: October 10
Military Robotics III: Legal, Ethical & Political Issues


Peter Asaro (2008) "How Just Could a Robot War Be?" in Philip Brey, Adam Briggle and Katinka Waelbers (eds.), Current Issues in Computing And Philosophy, Amsterdam, Netherlands: IOS Publishers.

Bradley Jay Strawser (2010) "Moral Predators: The Duty to Employ Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles," Journal of Military Ethics, 9 (4), pp. 342-368.

Mary Ellen O'Connell, "Lawful Use of Combat Drones," United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Hearing: Rise of the Drones II: Examining the Legality of Unmanned Targeting, April 28, 2010.

Mark Isikoff, "Justice Department Memo Reveals Legal Case for Drone Strikes on Americans," NBC News, February 4, 2013. Also: Full Memo

Jameel Jaffer, "The Justice Department’s White Paper on Targeted Killing," ACLU Blog, February 4, 2013.g

Gregory D. Johnsen, "Did an 8-Year-Old Spy for America?" The Atlantic Monthly, August 14, 2013.

Wajahat Ali, "Drone Victim: U.S. Strikes Boost al-Qaida Recruitment," Salon, May 2, 2013.

Peter Asaro (2013) "The Labor of Surveillance and Bureaucratized Killing: New Subjectivities of Military Drone Operators," Special Issue on Charting, Tracking, Mapping: Technology, Labor, and Surveillance, Gretchen Soderlund (ed.), Social Semiotics, 23 (2), pp. 196-224.

Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen, "Does Humanity Want Computers Making Moral Decisions" and "Can (Ro)bots Really be Moral?" in Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 57-71.

Ronald C. Arkin (2007) "Governing Lethal Behavior: Embedding Ethics in a Hybrid Deliberative/Reactive Robot Architecture, Part I. Motivation & Philosophy," Georgia Tech Technical Report GIT-GVU-07-11, pp.1-8.

Robert Sparrow (2007) "Killer Robots," Journal of Applied Philosophy, 24 (1), pp. 62-77.

Malise Ruthven, "Terror: The Hidden Source," New York Review of Books, October 24, 2013.


Peter Asaro (2006). "What Should We Want from a Robot Ethic?" Special Issue on Ethics in Robotics, Karsten Weber, Daniela Cerquie and Jutta Weber (eds.), International Review of Information Ethics, 6 (12), pp. 9-16.

Peter Asaro (2009). "Modeling the Moral User: Designing Ethical Interfaces for Tele-Operation," IEEE Technology & Society, 28 (1), 20-24.

Peter Asaro, and Gerhard Dabringer (2010). "Military Robotics and Just War Theory," in Gerhard Dabringer (ed.) Ethica Themen: Ethical and Legal Aspects of Unmanned Systems, Interviews, Vienna, Austria: Austrian Ministry of Defence and Sports, pp. 103-119.

Borenstein, J. (2008) "Ethics of Autonomous Military Robots," Studies in Ethics, Law and Technology, 2 (1), pp. 1-17.

Drones and Aerial Robotics Conference at NYU
Friday-Sunday, October 11-13

Week 7: October 17
Military Robotics IV: Autonomous Lethal Robots, a.k.a. Killer Robots


Armin Krishnan,"Dangerous Futures and Arms Control," in Killer Robots: Legality and Ethicality of Autonomous Weapons, London: Ashgate, 2009, pp. 145-167.

Human Rights Watch (2012) "Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots," HRW Report, November 19, 2012.

HRW Press release with Video.

U.S. Department of Defense, "Directive on Autonomy in Weapons Systems," NUMBER 3000.09, November 21, 2012.

Mark Gubrud, "US Killer Robot Policy: Full-Speed Ahead," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September 20, 2013.

Christof Heyns, "Lethal Autonomous Robots: Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions," United Nations Human Rights Council, A/HRC/23/47, April 9, 2013.

Kenneth Anderson, "Law and Ethics for Autonomous Weapons Systems (Introduction)," Opinio Juris, April 13, 2013.

Kenneth Anderson and Mathew Waxman, "Law and Ethics for Autonomous Weapons Systems: Why a Ban Won't work and How the Laws of War Can," Hoover Insitute Policy Paper, April 9, 2013, pp. 1-32.

Michael N. Schmitt, and Jeffrey S. Thurnher, "'Out of the Loop': Autonomous Weapon Systems and the Law of Armed Conflict," February 5, 2013, Harvard National Security Journal. 231 (2013), pp. .

Peter Asaro. "On Banning Autonomous Lethal Systems: Human Rights, Automation and the Dehumanizing of Lethal Decision-making," Special Issue on New Technologies and Warfare, International Review of the Red Cross, 94 (886), Summer 2012, pp. 687-709.


Watch: Daniel Suarez (2013) The Kill Decision Shouldn't Belong to a Robot, TED Talks, 14 min.

Watch: Noel Sharkey (2013) Toy Soldiers to Killer Robots, TEDxSheffield 2013, 18 min.

Watch: J.J. Palomo (2013) Keloid Trailer, 3 min.

"The Killer Robot Debate," Global Defence Technology, Issue 31, September 2013.

Reaching Critical Will, "Fully Autonomous Weapons Fact Sheet," 2013.

Patrick Lin, Keith Abney, and George Bekey (2008) "Autonomous Military Robotics: Risk, Ethics, and Design," Office of Naval Research Report, December, 2008, pp. 1-112.

Noel Sharkey, "Grounds for Discrimination: Autonomous Robot Weapons," RUSI Defence Systems, 11 (2), 2008, pp. 86-89.

Campaign to Stop Killer Robots Side Event at the United Nations
Friday, October 18.

Humanitarian Disarmament Campaigns Forum at the United Nations
Saturday & Sunday, October 19-20.

There will be a sign-up sheet for those interested in volunteering as facilitators, you will also need Passes to enter the UN (which will require passports).

Wednesday October 23
Lecture of Interest, NYU New York Institute for the Humanities

"The State of Surveillance: Legal, Cultural, and Technological Perspectives"

6:30 PM
NYU Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life
238 Thompson Street, C-95 Lecture Hall (concourse level)

Part II: The Business of Warfare

Week 8: October 24
The Military-Industrial-Entertainment Complex


Smedly Butler (1921) War is a Racket.

Tim Lenoir (2000) "All but War Is Simulation: The Military-Entertainment Complex," Configurations, 8 (3), Fall 2000, pp. 289-335.

James Der Derian (2001) Virtuous War: Mapping the Military-Industrial-Media-Entertainment Network, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 1-121.

Brian Burridge (2003) "UAVs and the Dawn of Post-Modern Warfare: A Perspective on Recent Operations," RUSI Journal, 148 (5), October, 2003, pp. 18-23.

David Axe (2012) "From Bug Drones to Disease Assassins, Super Weapons Rule U.S. War Game," Wired Dangerroom Blog, August 24, 2012.

Nick Turse (2009) The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives, Metropolitan Books.

Watch: President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1961) Farwell Speech, 15 min.

Watch: Veterans Today (2011) VFW Speech by Smedly Butler, 9 min.

Watch: Frontline (2010) Digital Nation, Waging War: Immersion Training, PBS, 15 min. 


Dana Priest and William M. Arkin (2011) "Top Secret America: A look at the military's Joint Special Operations Command," Washington Post, September 2, 2011.

James Der Derian (2001) Virtuous War: Mapping the Military-Industrial-Media-Entertainment Network, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 122-221.

Seymour Melman (1970) Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy of War, New York, NY: McGraw Hill, pp. 1-138.

Watch: Eugene Jarecki (2005) Why We Fight, 98 min.

Watch: Robert Greenwald (2006) Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, 75 min.

Week 9: October 31
Project Proposals Due
War & Risk


Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen (2006) The Risk Society at War: Terror, Technology and Strategy in the Twenty-First Century, Camreidge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

David Ropeik (2011) "Risk Perception," Nature, SoapboxScience Blog, May 11, 2011.

Rachel Plotink (2012) "Predicting Push-Button Warfare: US Print Media and Conflict from a Distance, 1945–2010," Media, Culture & Society, 34(6), pp. 655 –672.

Niklas Schoernig and Alexander C. Lembecke, "The Vision of War without Casualties: On the Use of Casualty Aversion in Armament Advertisements," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 50 No. 2, April 2006 204-227.

Jeremy Scahill, "Chapters 1-8", Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, Nation Books: New York, 2013, pp. 1-101.


Oscar Rickett, "We asked a Military Expert if All the World's Armies could Shut Down the U.S.", Vice Magazine, October 6, 2013.

Christopher Coker (2009) War in an Age of Risk, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Ian Roderick, "Considering the Fetish Value of EOD robots : How Robots Save Lives and Sell War," International Journal of Cultural Studies, 2010, 13: 235-253.

Watch: Peter Davis (1974) Hearts and Minds, 112 min.

Watch: Errol Morris (2003) The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamara, Sony Classics, 95 min.

Watch: Frontline (2011) Top Secret America, PBS, 54 min.

Watch: Rick Rowley (2013) Dirty Wars, 87 min.

Week 10: November 7
Group Project Meeting: from 6:00 to 6:30pm

Guest Lecturer: Matt Bolton, starting at 6:30pm
Humanitarian Disarmament Campaigns


Matthew Bolton and Thomas Nash, "The Role of Middle Power–NGO Coalitions in Global Policy: The Case of the Cluster Munitions Ban," Global Policy, Volume 1, Issue 2, May, 2010, pp. 172-182.

Matthew Bolton, "From Minefields to Minespace: An Archeology of the Changing Architecture of Autonomous Killing in US Army Field Manuals," Draft Paper, 2013.

Global Coalitions: An introduction to working in international civil society partnerships,Action on Armed Violence, 2011.


Matt Bolton, "Ways of Work," Statement to the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, October 29, 2013.

Mark Gubrud, and Jürgen Altmann, "Compliance Measures for an Autonomous Weapons Convention," ICRAC Working Paper #2, May 31, 2013, pp. 1-8.

Watch: Mary Wareham and Brian Liu (2005) Disarm, 67 min.

Part III: Media Wars

Week 11: November 14
War & Digital Journalism


Ciar Byrne, (2003) "War reporting 'changed forever' says BBC," The Gaurdian, March 31, 2003

Donald Matheson and Stuart Allan (2009) Digital War Reporting, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.


Explore: website

Watch: Errol Morris (2008) Standard Operating Procedure, Sony Classics,116 min.

Watch: John Pilger (2010) The War You Don't See, BBC, 120 min., YouTube link

Week 12: November 21
Media War & Targeting Journalists


Jim Boumelha (2010) "US must deliver justice on friendly fire," The Gaurdian, April 10, 2010.

"The Iraq War: The Heaviest Death Toll for the Media since World War II, March 2003 – August 2010," Reporters Without Borders, September 7, 2010.

"Journalist deaths spike in 2012 due to Syria, Somalia," Committee to Protect Journalists, December 18, 2012.

Frank Smyth (2013) "Iraq war and news media: A look inside the death toll," Committee to Protect Journalists, March 18, 2013.

Huw Lemmey (2012) "Devastation in Meatspace," The New Inquiry, November 28, 2012.

Oliver Woods (2012) "Israel's Social War: Strategy & Tactics," The Big Picture, Nov 18, 2012.

Chaim Levinson (2013) "To tweet or not to tweet? The IDF answers the question," Haaretz, Sep. 16, 2013.

Morgan Weiland, "Protecting Journalism in the Digital Era," Stanford Lawyer, Nov. 8, 2013.

Watch: Excerpt on U.S. Strike on Al Jazeera Office, Control Room, 2004. IMBD

Watch: "Israel: Unlawful Attacks on Palestinian Media," Human Rights Watch, 2012.


Israeli Defense Forces_Spokesperson's_Unit

U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Media Activity

Week 13: November 26

Social Media & Popular Demonstrations


Hannah Arendt, (1968) On Violence, New York: Harvest Books.

Joshua Holland (2011) "How Video of Police Behaving Badly Made Occupy Wall Street a Global Phenomenon," AlterNet, October 24, 2011

Philip N. Howard, "The Lasting Impact of Digital Media on Civil Society." U.S. State Department Global E-Journal, January 25, 2010.

Charles Hirschkind (2011) "The Role of Social Media in the Egypt Uprising," Jadaliyya, February 9, 2011.

Charles Levinson and Margaret Coker (2011) "The Secret Rally That Sparked an Uprising," Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2011.

Jack Z. Bratich (2011) "Kyber-Revolts: Egypt, State-friended Media, and Secret Sovereign Networks," The New Everyday,April 25, 2011.

"Partnership between Facebook and police could make planning protests impossible," RT, October 25, 2013.

Huw Lemmey (2012) "Devastation in Meatspace," The New Inquiry, November 28, 2012.

Oliver Woods (2012) "Israel's Social War: Strategy & Tactics," The Big Picture, Nov 18, 2012.


Watch: Frontline (2011) Revolution in Cairo, PBS, 60 min.

Philip N. Howard (2011) "Digital media and the Arab spring," Reuters, February 16, 2011.

Philip N. Howard (2010) "#IranElection: Inside the cyberwar for Iran's future." Miller-McCune Magazine. January-February 2010. pp. 28-33.

Jennifer Preston and Brian Stelter (2011) "Cellphones Become the World's Eyes and Ears on Protests," New York Times, February 18, 2011.

Week 14: December 5
Discussion of Final Projects

Week 15: December 12
Final Project Presentations


Joel Brenner (2011) "The Calm Before the Storm: Cyberwar is already happening -- and it's about to get much, much worse. A veteran intelligence official explains how America can prepare itself," Foreign Policy, September 6, 2011.

Patrick Lin, Fritz Allhoff and Neil Rowe (2012) "Is it Possible to Wage a Just Cyberwar?" The Atlantic, June 5, 2012.

Nick Fielding and Ian Cobain (2011) "Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media,"The Gaurdian, Thursday 17 March 2011.

Evgeny Morozov (2011) "Political Repression 2.0," New York Times, September 1, 2011.

Ellen Nakashima and William Wan (2011) "China's denials about cyberattacks undermined by video clip," Washington Post, August 24, 2011.

Ellen Nakashima (2011) "Cyber-intruder sparks massive federal response and debate over dealing with threats," Washington Post, December 8, 2011.

Watch: Fault Lines (2010) Cyberwar, Al Jazeera English, 24 min.


Wikipedia, "Cyberwarfare"

Wikipedia, "U.S. Cyber Command"

United States Army Field Manual on Electronic Warfare (2012)

United States Department of Defense, "Cyber Strategy"

Week 15: Monday, December 16
Final Projects Due