In an Age of Civilizational Conflict

Innovation and Economic Growth and Privacy and Security

Article Snapshot

Author(s)

Braden Allenby

Source

Jurimetrics, Vol. 56, No. 4, pp. 387-406, 2016

Summary

The military forces of the United States are stronger than those of any other power; conflict is forced into other areas, such as financial markets. This is called "new generation warfare" or "hybrid warfare."

Policy Relevance

The United States is at a disadvantage in waging hybrid warfare, but can adapt.

Main Points

  • When Russia invaded the Ukraine, psychological warfare, political subversion, intimidation, bribery, and propaganda were used to foster internal decay; combat was minimal.
     
  • Information technologies generate far more information than we can comprehend; information need not be blocked or banned if subgroups of the population only seek information that supports their existing worldview.
     
  • The Chinese have developed "unrestricted warfare," which includes weapons such as a stock market crash, a computer virus, or a scandal that affects exchange rates or national leadership.
     
  • Nation-states are challenged by non-state actors such as ISIS; accelerating technological, social, and cultural change leads to a rejection of Western norms and a retreat to faith.
     
  • The new Chinese and Russian strategies share some common elements:
     
    • Conflict is re-imagined as a long-term competition between opposing civilizations.
       
    • Whenever conventional military action is too costly, conflict extends to domains such as civilian cyberspace or global financial systems.
       
    • Conflict levels are held below levels that trigger actual fighting.
       
  • Deeply rooted cultural factors leave America at a disadvantage in hybrid warfare; these include:
     
    • The dominance of civilian over military leadership in America.
       
    • Respect for the rule of law.
       
    • Boundaries between commercial firms and the government.
       
  • American institutions are innovative and flexible, and can evolve new responses to hybrid warfare.
     
  • The belief that the success of any society will lead to peace and prosperity that benefits all is a powerful weapon; in most recent conflicts, the United States is not attempting to establish domination, but to enforce international norms that benefit most states.
     

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