Image
Title of article in smoky clouds

Hybrid warfare in the legal and strategic gray zone

Shadow Wars

January 2020, Number 10.01

“The best way to boil a frog, the adage goes, is to turn the heat up slowly enough so the frog does not realize it is being cooked. If the perpetrators hacked the stove’s software, denied their culpability, and bombarded bystanders with fake news before annexing the kitchen, one might have a workable analogy for hybrid warfare. Alternately termed nonlinear war, active measures or conflict in “the gray zone,” hybrid warfare has no single, agreed upon definition. In the abstract, a state engaging in hybrid warfare foments instability in another state’s domestic affairs, prioritizing nonkinetic military means such as cyber and influence operations in concert with economic pressure, support for local opposition groups, disinformation and criminal activity. It may involve the covert deployment of unmarked troops or irregular combatants, though hybrid warfare’s reliance on cyber capabilities and nonstate proxies is distinctive. The strategic benefit of hybrid warfare is to obscure the involvement of an aggressor state. Even the thinnest veneer of deniability may delay or fragment opposition to actions that otherwise would invite a vocal, sometimes forceful, international response...”

Excerpt from Douglas Cantwell, “Shadow Wars,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 10, No. 1, 2020: 40-45.

Lt. Douglas Cantwell is an officer and attorney in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, United States Navy. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School, master’s degree from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, and bachelor’s degree from Stanford University. He is a former international law fellow at the American Society of International Law.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.