The international geostrategic lexicon incorporated as of 2006, with the development of the Israeli-Lebanese war, the concept of hybrid warfare, later expanded its meaning with two other labels: hybrid attack and hybrid conflict. But it was not until the crisis caused by Belarus on the border with Poland that the idea of hybrid warfare has occupied the media and academic debates about the very nature of that war. state of neither peace nor war, but of tension that entails a certain risk of escalation.
The conclusion most shared by experts is that hybrid wars are the new form that the asymmetric conflicts, those in which one of the parties is in a situation of manifest inferiority and seeks to destabilize its adversary through forms of combat that exclude recourse to arms. Either they are operations aimed at interfere with the internal stability of a country through covert interference in situations of all kinds – elections, financial operations, social crises – that for some reason someone decides to use for their purposes and ends. In both cases, the global village offers, through new technologies, a panoply of tools of all kinds to alter the course of events.
It is evident that conventional prevention and defense structures are not helpful in that new environment. If the war on global terrorism has rendered the analyzes of collective security mechanisms produced by NATO useless for decades, all the more so these next-generation wars require the availability of immediate response systems, concerted and effective. Front of use of networks as weapons of mass meddling, case of Russia, against the colonization of strategic logistics networks by Chinese companies that respond to the requirements of the Government of your country, in the face of the variety of unconventional processes, it is urgent to review on what bases European security is based and what is its degree of vulnerability.
The ‘Strategic Compass’, which is expected to equip the European Union starting next spring with a rapid intervention force with an updated profile to deal with hybrid attacks, is an initiative that meets the new challenges. But it is even more important to have the ability to foresee new threats, given the risk that always exists that an asymmetric conflict of a hybrid nature will degenerate into a conventional one. Because all the theories about the escalation of the crises that arose during the Cold War they are still useful for measuring the proximity of a larger hazard.
Perhaps a hybrid war will reduce the risks of lead to another conventional one, but it doesn’t make it impossible. Because behind the behaviors of weak actors there is almost always someone who is not so weak, who uses and governs them, as in the case of Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin. In other words, it is inappropriate to assimilate hybrid wars to low-intensity conflicts that, moreover, during the Cold War, were shown to have a not inconsiderable expansionary potential.