Report

Hybrid Conflict: Neither war, nor peace

January 10th 2020 - 12:00
Hybrid Conflict

New report out now! To read, click here

What do Chinese naval intrusions into Japan’s territorial waters have in common with Russian bots that spread and amplify disinformation?

This Global Security Pulse examines trends within hybrid conflicts, understood as "conflicts between states, largely below the legal level of armed conflict, with integrated use of civilian and military means and actors, with the aim of achieving certain strategic objectives."

States have ample reason to be concerned about hybrid threats and hybrid conflict. Although at their core hybrid tactics are tactics old as time (military posturing, spreading propaganda and the use of economic measures are well established military strategies), the availability of a diverse and sophisticated set of (technological) tools enhances the impact, reach and congruence of hybrid threats. Paired with the reluctance of states to engage in conventional war due to nuclear, economic and political deterrence, this means that hybrid conflict constitutes an increasingly desirable strategy for states to achieve their political goals.

The principal conclusion of this Pulse is that the international security environment is increasingly subject to hybrid threats, often in a subtle and pervasive way that impedes fast detection, accountability and retaliation. Hybrid threats and hybrid conflict are typified by their complexity, ambiguity, multidimensional nature and gradual impact. These characteristics pose a challenge to effective response measures and therefore to the international order.

Read the new report by Bianca Torossian.

Disclaimer: The research for and production of this report has been conducted within the PROGRESS research framework agreement. Responsibility for the contents and for the opinions expressed, rests solely with the authors and does not constitute, nor should it be construed as, an endorsement by the Netherlands Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense.

Bianca Torossian is a Strategic Analyst at HCSS. Her studies at The University of Sydney, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Leiden University (The Hague), earned her a Bachelor degree in political science, political economy and sociology, and a Master degree in political science and international organization. For her Master Thesis, Bianca analyzed how the institutional legitimacy of the European Union was impacted by Brexit, and hopes later to reopen this line of research and explore how the nationalistic tendencies of states effect the social legitimacy of multilateral institutions. At HCSS, Bianca primarily focusses on security and diplomacy. A specific area of interest is the field of technology and AI in defense contexts, which ties into a HCSS research project that critically analyzes the challenges and opportunities posed by robotic and autonomous systems in the military. She contributes to a range projects commissioned by the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence.