Author: Andrew Korybko
Hybrid Wars are actually something completely different than what most people think they are. My view is that what everybody else talks about – information war, economic war, institutional war – all of that has actually been practiced before, it’s just that nowadays it’s being integrated together into a weaponized approach. Instead, my definition of Hybrid War deals with its practical implementation in transitioning a Color Revolution into an Unconventional War in order to pursue regime change or identity federalism in a targeted state.
“The Law Of Hybrid War”, as I call it, is that “the grand objective behind every Hybrid War is to disrupt multipolar transnational connective projects through externally provoked identity conflicts (ethnic, religious, regional, political, etc.) within a targeted transit state”, and we can observe that in practice by the US’ efforts to obstruct Russia’s integration projects in Ukraine and sabotage Iran’s previously planned Friendship Pipeline through Syria. Looking forward, all of the infrastructure corridors that collectively comprise China’s One Belt One Road global network, otherwise called the “New Silk Road”, are obvious targets as well, especially the shared area of strategic focus that both Russia and China have in the Balkans and Central Asia.
Now that I’ve told you about what Hybrid Wars are, let me tell you how they operate. NGOs and intelligence agencies work to cultivate political and civil society front groups inside of the targeted states, eventually building these networks up until the point where they’re strong enough to challenge the legitimate authorities. Before any hostilities even commence, NGOs and intelligence agencies spend time in fostering a sense of deeply rooted differences among the population that are usually centered on some form of identity, whether real, imagined, or exaggerated, in order to manufacture more intense anti-government resentment.
Once the social infrastructure and informational preconditioning has reached the stage where the external backers are confident in its potential to disrupt the political situation in the targeted state, a provocation is staged in order to create a ‘plausible’ trigger for publicly bringing the anti-government movement to the forefront and overtly initiating the destabilization scheme. If the Color Revolution, or “soft” pressure, doesn’t succeed in reaping the desired dividends, then this movement is eventually transformed into an Unconventional War, or “hard” pressure, through a series of staged escalations.
When this happens, some of the Color Revolutionaries morph into terrorist insurgents who are then supported by neighboring pro-American states, which funnel in additional fighters, weapons, and material assistance to their proxies. We saw this process occur in Syria after the failed “Arab Spring” Color Revolution turned into a terrorist war and in Ukraine right before the February Coup when the Western regions were in open revolt against Kiev. Nowadays, this pattern of events is repeating itself in the Republic of Macedonia and has the very real possibility of breaking out in the Fergana Valley in the near future. To remind you all, this is happening in order to disrupt or gain control of key infrastructure projects in pivotal transit states, using the interrelated means of regime change, Identity Federalism, and uncontrollable chaos.
As dangerous and pressing of a threat as Hybrid Wars are, this doesn’t mean that they’re inevitable and can’t be stopped. The methods of countering this threat are what I call Democratic Security, and I believe that it’s a new and exciting field that urgently requires more governmental support to develop. So far, I’ve identified three primary ways in which Hybrid Wars can be defeated, but I’m sure that further research will reveal other effective strategies.
The first thing that must happen is that hybrid threats, in the sense that I’ve defined them, must be identified and exposed during their incipient stages. This means that all NGOs inside of our country and that of our interested allies must be registered and investigated for foreign funding, and that all illegally operating organizations that pose a national security threat must be immediately banned. We already have that, so we need to take it a step further and create an international database together with our allies in order to track all NGOs and their activities, whether they’re legal or illegal. Additionally, we have to raise public awareness about the US’ plots in fomenting Hybrid Wars by encouraging our media, academic, and security professionals to work together and collectively inform our populations about the asymmetrical threats that they face, since advance information and awareness is the strongest deterrent in preventing well-intentioned and naive citizens from being tricked into joining these dangerous movements.
Secondly, we need to make sure that our security representatives are trained in the proper methods of disbanding Hybrid War cells, particularly in dispersing Color Revolutions and responding to Unconventional Warfare activity. It’s very important that they handle developing disturbances with delicacy and avoid inadvertently inciting an unnecessary backlash through disproportionate and heavy-handed responses. The instigators regularly try to trick the authorities into making careless mistakes that they can exploit via social media in generating a groundswell of additional anti-government sentiment that can then be funneled into further street activity. Whether through these means or others, their ultimate goal is to bring as many people as possible into the streets so that they can function as human shields in protecting the most violent Molotov-throwing agitators from immediate arrest.
Finally, the last strategy of Democratic Security that I’ve uncovered is the encouragement of patriotic civil society movements to come out in large-scale and public support of their government. We see this most clearly in the Republic of Macedonia, where thousands of people have protested against the Color Revolution collaborators and showed the world that they do not want any regime change in their country. It’s important that governments all across the world help foster these sorts of movements as proactive defenses against forthcoming Color Revolution plots, since they serve as the first line of defense in responding to these threats.
Furthermore, these ‘reverse-Color Revolution’ technologies can also be practiced by patriotic citizens in pressuring their governments to renege on controversial pro-Western agreements. For example, people in Montenegro and Serbia have experimented with the disciplined and select application of these tactics in trying to convince their leaders to backtrack on their NATO commitments, while being careful to not call for regime change or violence. The positive use of Color Revolution technology is thus a completely new field of research that definitely deserves heightened attention.
The last thing that I’d like to say to you all is that Russia has the very real potential of becoming the global center for Democratic Security studies and training, and that if our experts can master these technologies and acquire a full understanding of how they work, we can share this valuable knowledge with our allies and increase our strategic importance in the world. It’s possible that one day we can train our partners’ military, intelligence, and civil society representatives here in Moscow and thus give our country a qualitative edge in safeguarding our collective multipolar future. In order for this to happen, however, we need immediate institutional support to fund related research projects and employ qualified analysts full-time in this endeavor. If we can succeed in building an integrated Democratic Security infrastructure that’s stronger than the Color Revolution one that the US has already constructed, then Russia can become the undisputed leader of the global resistance to Hybrid War.