Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

First Advisor

Fred Anderson

Abstract

Over the past several centuries there has been a global decline in violence which has been attributed to the Civilizing Process, in which a centralized government authority and mutually beneficial trade have a pacifying effect on humans within states. This decline in violence has also translated into a decrease in traditional international warfare; however, the relative peace created by the Civilizing Process can still be threatened or reversed by states using violence to achieve individual ends. In order to protect the global decline in violence, states must have an alternative when peaceful methods of conflict resolution do not work. This thesis argues that the time has come for states and the international community to recognize the effectiveness of silent warfare in countering violent threats to the decline in violence and the Civilizing Process. Present applications of silent warfare, like targeted killing, are analyzed for their relative effectiveness compared to other types of warfare and their potential legitimacy issues in respect to current and future methods of use. Silent warfare has already been used by states in the past several decades to varying degrees of success and sophistication to further individual state interests. The current moral climate will allow the use of silent warfare provided the tactics are used in regulated and legitimate ways and do not violate globalized humanitarian ideals. Given the potential for illegitimate applications, however, it is very important for the international community to systematically regulate the use of silent warfare tactics and technology before extra-judicial use becomes the norm for states as well as nonstate entities, and ultimately undermines the global decline in violence that silent warfare was originally intended to preserve.

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