Defense budgets are good not only for national security. They provide businesses with an armed industry famous for its lobbying skills.
And also replenish the feeder, thanks to which the people’s deputies have something to show voters. The military command likes the new, better and full-fledged equipment. The support of such budgets and the corresponding heroism and glory arouse the admiration of the public and politicians.
All this does not mean that we should not increase defense spending: in fact, in many European countries, defense budgets are too small. Insufficient spending destroys solidarity in the Alliance, increases dependence on the United States, which supports Europe’s security, and increases the risk of miscalculations by adversaries.
However, threats to national security – not only in the air, at sea, on land and in space. They also include what in Soviet times were called “active measures”, and are now described by the fashionable term “hybrid war”. These include dirty money, propaganda, targeted intimidation of people and institutions, subversive activities, abuse of the legal system, state-funded crime, economic pressure and many other “sub-threshold” tactics, ie that which falls short of what is commonly called “war”. .
Most countries (Finland are a big exception) cannot cope with these threats. As a result, Russia (and China) are attacking our decision-making system and deepening divisions in our alliances and societies, undermining trust and coherence. Worse, our opponents’ arsenal is not static. It is developing rapidly. For example, the use of artificial intelligence allows for intricate attacks, such as deep fake, video and audio content that appears to be true but is in fact fabricated.
COUNTERING HYBRID THREATS MEANS MOVING AWAY FROM INDIVIDUALISM, EXPANDING TRUST, ABANDONING COMPETITION, AND SACRIFICING CULTIVATED PROCEDURES. DIFFERENT REPRESENTATIVES OF GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY (OFFICIALS, JOURNALISTS, COMPANY EXECUTIVES, POLICE, TEACHERS) SHOULD COMMUNICATE AND LISTEN
Another problem is the blurred line between external and internal threats. How should a free society treat citizens who (consciously or unconsciously) support a hostile state: for example, spread its propaganda? It will be difficult to respond to such threats and dilemmas, in part because we got caught so late. However, when the issue of defense spending is supported by strong lobbying, measures against hybrid threats at the same time have few supporters. Such measures do not bring lucrative contracts, new military bases and grateful voters. You can’t brag about the results accompanied by an orchestra in front of an enthusiastic audience. Threshold defense and deterrence will not be outsourced to men and women dressed in uniform. Such events require the participation of all of us. They need to rethink the functioning of society and government,
To begin with, this means acknowledging your weakness and disclosing past failures. For example, if agents of influence are caught and brought to clean water, awkward questions will arise. Why were these people allowed to wield for so long? Who else is left in the shadows? Many people among the political and economic elites in the West have a dubious background, dating back to a time when closer ties with Russia and China were public policy. Many business models are still based on such relationships. The energy industry is a priority for Russian influence: it is enough to look at Germany. China is playing similar games with infrastructure projects. The financial services sector, primarily (but not only) in the UK, is bathed in a sea of uncontrolled foreign funds. Bankers, lawyers and accountants take advantage of this. Universities in many countries depend on Chinese students’ money and are therefore afraid of Beijing’s discontent. Such sectors have existential grounds for active lobbying against major changes in the Western approach to Russia and China.
In general, people do not like to change habits. Countering hybrid threats means moving away from individualism, expanding trust, abandoning competition, and sacrificing cultivated procedures. Various representatives of government and society (officials, journalists, company executives, police, teachers) need to communicate and listen. Nobody is lobbying for this. And it would be worth it.