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Lisa Hajjar


Drone Warfare and the Superpower’s Dilemma (Part 2)

[Image source: The Economist]

This is Part 2 of a two-part article. To access Part 1, click here. Historically, the risks of soldier death and injury were ineluctable features of war, and served sometimes to limit or force an end to wars. Risks to soldiers’ lives were altered (but not eliminated) long before the appearance of drones through the development of increasingly long-range weapons. For Americans, the Vietnam War, at the time the longest overseas armed conflict, was a major turning point in ...

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Drone Warfare and the Superpower’s Dilemma (Part 1)

[Image source: The Sleuth Journal]

The United States has been in a continuous—or, at least, uninterrupted—state of armed conflict since 2001, and there is no end in sight. The strategies and technologies, as well as the locales of engagement and designated enemies of this “’global’ war on terror” have changed considerably over the past fourteen years. Nevertheless, the US government still relies on the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed by Congress on 14 September 2001 (three days after ...

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A Theory of the Drone

[Cover of Grégoire Chamayou,

Grégoire Chamayou, A Theory of the Drone, translated by Janet Lloyd. New York: The New Press, 2015. Since the turn of this century, armed drones (that is, unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs) have become a weapon of choice for the United States. Drone strikes started during the Bush administration with the “war on terror.” Under the Obama administration, drone warfare has been elevated to the pinnacle of counter-terrorism strategy, a shift driven by the combined effects of ...

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How To Not Know about the CIA’s Targeted Killing Program

[Drone during a storm. Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: jeditrilobite, david.evenson.]

The CIA operates armed drones to engage in targeted killing operations in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. That is known. But, to borrow from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s iconic statement, is it a “known known” or a “known unknown”? Known knowns are things we know we know, whereas known unknowns are things we know we do not know. The third ingredient of Rumsfeld’s rhetorical mélange is the “unknown unknowns”—things we do not know we do not know. The CIA wishes ...

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Is Gaza Still Occupied and Why Does It Matter?

[Entering Gaza at the Erez Checkpoint. Image by Olly Lambert.]

[In view of Israel's assertions that it has not occupied the Gaza Strip since 2005, Jadaliyya re-posts an analysis of this claim authored by Lisa Hajjar, initially published in 2012.] Yes, the Gaza Strip is still occupied. Despite official Israeli remonstrations that the unilateral disengagement of 2005, which removed Israeli military bases and Jewish settlers, transformed Gaza into “no longer occupied territory,” neither those changes nor anything that has transpired ...

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Quick Thoughts: Lisa Hajjar on Guantanamo Bay and High Seas Detention

[The five 9/11 defendants in the Guantánamo military commission, June 2014. Artwork by Janet Hamlin.]

[Jadaliyya Co-Editor Lisa Hajjar recently returned from her fifth visit to the US naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States has maintained a military prison facility since 2002. Below she provides her impressions and analysis of the current state of military trials.] Jadaliyya (J): You recently visited Guantánamo to report on the military commission proceedings. What is the state of the cases currently on trial? Lisa Hajjar (LH): In the ...

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Comparing American and Israeli Ways of War

[Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin and Brig. Gen. Shahar Shohat at a press conference for a combined US-Israel military exercise, Austere Challenge 12; Image by Staff Sgt. Yuval Haker/IDF]

Over the last few years, Israel and Palestine have become major topics of interest and debate for scholars who do American Studies. This is evident in burgeoning comparative analyses of settler colonialisms, militarized borders, intersections of racialization and revolutionary politics, and cultural productions that emanate from or speak to the issue of diaspora, to name a few. Here, I share some thoughts about the comparative work that I do on Israel’s and America’s ways ...

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Let's Go to Guantanamo! An On-the-Ground Perspective on the 9/11 Trial

[Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay as drawn from life. Sketch by Molly Crabapple]

In this talk, I focus on the military commission trial for Khaled Sheikh Muhammad and four other men accused of responsibility for the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, a case often referred to as "the trial of the century." The presentation offers a first-hand perspective on what it is like to go to Guantanamo, and an analysis of the critical and contentious issues that this case raises. The government is striving to pursue accountability for the 11 September ...

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هل ما زال قطاع غزة محتلا؟ وما جدوى السؤال

[تصوير جورج عازار ]

      [ هذا المقال جزء من ”أصوات من أجل غزة" وهو ملف خاص تنشره جدلية على مدار شهر كامل. للإطلاع على بقية المقالات اضغط/ي هنا] نعم مازال قطاع غزة محتلاً، فبالرغم من الاحتجاجات الإسرائيلية الرسمية  حول إنهاء الاشتباك الأحادي الجانب والمتفق عليه في عام ٢٠٠٥ والذي أزال القواعد الإسرائيلية العسكرية والمستوطنات اليهودية والذي حول القطاع إلى منطقة ”لم تعد محتلة“ فإن هذه التغيرات وكل ما حصل منذ ذلك لم يؤد فعليا إلى انتهاء الاحتلال. الاحتلال ...

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Classified Memories: Trying To Try Terror Suspects Who Were Tortured by the CIA

Two high-profile cases being prosecuted in the military commissions at Guatanamo raise exceptionally challenging problems for the US government as well as the civilian and military lawyers defending the suspects. One case involves five people, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who are accused of responsibility for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The second case is against Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of participating in the bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of ...

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Actualizacion sobre la guerra con aviones no tripulados: El arte de ganar enemigos

Pakistani mourners for civilians killed in US drone strike. Image from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.]

[This article was originally written by Lisa Hajjar and published by Jadaliyya in English. It was translated into Spanish by Sinfo Fernández and published by Rebelión.]  Actualización sobre la guerra con aviones no tripulados: El arte de ganar enemigos El 1 de agosto de 2013, el Secretario de Estado estadounidense John Kerry hizo un anuncio en Islamabad, adonde se había desplazado en un intento de resucitar las estratégicas ...

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How To Lose Friends and Alienate People: An Update on Drone Warfare

[Pakistani mourners for civilians killed in US drone strike. Image from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.]

On 1 August 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry made an announcement in Islamabad, where he had gone to resuscitate bilateral US-Pakistani strategic negotiations. At a press conference, he said that the United States was committed to end drone strikes in Pakistan in the near future. “I think [President Obama] has a very real timeline, and we hope it's going to be very, very soon.” The plan to wind down drone warfare was essentially a precondition to resume negotiations ...

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The Agony and the Irony of Guantanamo’s Mass Hunger Strike

[Force feeding restraint chair. Image by Jason Leopold.]

The executive order pledging to close Guantánamo within a year, signed by freshly inaugurated President Barack Obama on his second day in office, is a dead letter. Over the past two months, however, the president has recommitted to his 2009 pledge, including appointing a special envoy to head the effort to break through the stalemate that is largely the product of domestic politics. Clearly, one trigger for this renewed attention to Guantánamo is the mass ...

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The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza

[Cover of Eyal Weizman,

Eyal Weizman, The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza. New York: Verso, 2011. [This review was originally published in the most recent issue of Arab Studies Journal. For more information on the issue, or to subscribe to ASJ, click here.] In that historical moment after the September 11 terrorist attacks, American politicians and pundits launched a debate about whether torture should be employed to combat terror. Those who endorsed the ...

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Lawfare and Armed Conflict: Comparing Israeli and US Targeted Killing Policies and Challenges against Them

[Lisa Hajjar. Image from below video]

In this public lecture, I engage the concept of lawfare (an amalgamation of “law” and “warfare”) to compare Israeli and US twenty-first century armed conflicts. Specifically, I focus on both states’ targeted killing policies and the legal rationales that have been advanced to try to project their lawfulness, and legal challenges to these policies in order to tell a larger story about the relationship between contemporary practices of law and war. In order to tell this story, ...

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New Texts Out Now: Lisa Hajjar, Torture: A Sociology of Violence and Human Rights

[Cover of Lisa Hajjar,

Lisa Hajjar, Torture: A Sociology of Violence and Human Rights. New York: Routledge, 2012 [“Framing Twenty-First Century Social Issues” series]. Jadaliyya (J): What inspired you to write this book? Lisa Hajjar (LH): Torture is my great and terrible obsession. I think, read, write, and talk about torture all the time, as anyone who knows me can attest. I was inspired to write this book in order to share my knowledge, my passion, and—to be blunt—my anger about torture with ...

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Anatomy of the US Targeted Killing Policy

[RQ-1 Predator aircraft at Tallil Air Base, Iraq. Image from Flickr.]

As President Barack Obama geared up for the 2012 campaign, he and his administration were eager to capitalize on their most bipartisan “victory” -- the targeted killing of Osama bin Laden on 2 May 2011. With the one-year anniversary of bin Laden’s death approaching, top officials took to podiums to deliver remarks that, while differing in some particulars, were consistent in their message: The targeted killing policy is legal, it is necessary to keep Americans ...

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CIA: KUBARK's Very Long Shadow

[Lobby seal from the original CIA building. Image from Wikimedia Commons.]

A 2011 FBI "primer" on overseas interrogations, which became public on August 2, 2012, as a result of Freedom of Information Act action taken by the American Civil Liberties Union, repeatedly cites the Central Intelligence Agency's 1963 KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation. KUBARK was the code name the CIA used for itself. The FBI briefing also cites the CIA's 1983 Human Resource Exploitation Manual (Honduras version) which was compiled by sections of KUBARK ...

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Litigating the New Frontier in the War on Terror

[Model drone in front of the White House. Image from Brendan Smialowski / AFP]

In the landscape of the global “war on terror,” the Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union are veteran pioneers. CCR hacked into the “legal black hole” of Guantánamo by pursuing the first challenge, back in February 2002, to the denial of habeas corpus for people detained there incommunicado; they prevailed at the Supreme Court in 2004. The ACLU tunneled into the glacier of governmental secrecy with one Freedom of Information Act ...

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Roundtable on Targeted Killing: Lawfare and Targeted Killing Revisited--A Response

[An envisioning of lawfare. Image from Harper’s.]

[This is the sixth part of a six-part series associated with a Jadaliyya roundtable discussing targeted killings . Participants include Richard Falk, Nathan Freed Wessler, Pardiss Kabriaei, Leonard Small, and Lisa Hajjar. Click here for the introduction to the roundtable.]  The speech that Attorney General Eric Holder delivered on 5 March 2012 in which he outlined the Obama administration’s position on the legality of the ...

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Personal Posts

Is There A Pill For This?

[Image from OliviaB]

In my first Jadaliyya post, I 
described my “great and terrible obsession” with torture. Generally 
speaking, I love my obsession; thinking and talking about torture in an age of torture
 seems not only rational and reasonable but politically responsible. I’d
 bet my torture-related information command center (i.e., the part of my
 brain that stores, categorizes and operationalizes torture data) would 
be a source of great riches if there was a Jeopardy-Torture game ...

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Lisa Hajjar


Lisa Hajjar is a professor of sociology at the University of California-Santa Barbara, and in 2014-2015 she is the Edward Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut. Her research and writing focus on law and legality, war and conflict, human rights, and torture. She is the author of Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza (University of California Press, 2005) and Torture: A Sociology of Violence and Human Rights (Routledge, 2013). In addition to being a Co-Editor at Jadaliyya, she serves on the editorial committees of Middle East Report and Journal of Palestine Studies. She is currently working on a book about anti-torture lawyering in the United States.

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