Preventive Force

Drones, Targeted Killing, and the Transformation of Contemporary Warfare

368 pages

10 tables and 6 b/w figures

July, 2016

ISBN: 9781479857654



Add to Cart Available: 6/3/2016

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Kerstin Fisk is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Loyola Marymount University. She has published in International Studies Perspectives and Civil Wars.

All books by Kerstin Fisk

Jennifer M. Ramos is Associate Professor of Political Science at Loyola Marymount University. She is the author of Changing Norms through Actions: The Evolution of Sovereignty and co-editor, with Richard L. Fox, of iPolitics: Citizens, Elections and Governing in the New Media Era.

All books by Jennifer M. Ramos

More so than in the past, the US is now embracing the logic of preventive force: using military force to counter potential threats around the globe before they have fully materialized. While popular with individuals who seek to avoid too many “boots on the ground,” preventive force is controversial because of its potential for unnecessary collateral damage. Who decides what threats are ‘imminent’? Is there an international legal basis to kill or harm individuals who have a connection to that threat? Do the benefits of preventive force justify the costs? And, perhaps most importantly, is the US setting a dangerous international precedent?

In Preventive Force, editors Kerstin Fisk and Jennifer Ramos bring together legal scholars, political scientists, international relations scholars, and prominent defense specialists to examine these questions, whether in the context of full-scale preventive war or preventive drone strikes. In particular, the volume highlights preventive drones strikes, as they mark a complete transformation of how the US understands international norms regarding the use of force, and could potentially lead to a ‘slippery slope’ for the US and other nations in terms of engaging in preventive warfare as a matter of course. A comprehensive resource that speaks to the contours of preventive force as a security strategy as well as to the practical, legal, and ethical considerations of its implementation, Preventive Force is a useful guide for political scientists, international relations scholars, and policymakers who seek a thorough and current overview of this essential topic.


  • "Few security issues have prompted as much political, legal, or ethical debate as the use of drones. This timely volume should be a go-to guide for the academics and policymakers who want to make sense of this important topic."

    —Sarah Kreps, author of Drones: What Everyone Needs to Know

  • “In uncertain and frightening times it is tempting to think that an ounce of prevention—targeted killing, drone strikes—will be the cure. And drones make preventive strikes easier than ever. Yet the hardest thing in this context is to know whether and when preventive uses of force might be justified and whether the strikes provide a cure or make us less safe. With clear and insightful essays, Preventive Force challenges us to think more carefully about the justice, wisdom, and utility of preventive drone strikes. These essays should be at the top of any reading list for informed citizens, and members of the military, CIA, National Security Council and Congress.”

    —Neta C. Crawford, author of Accountability for Killing: Moral Responsibility for Collateral Damage in America's Post-9/11 Wars