Korybko To Pakistani Academia: Be Careful How You Counter Hybrid War

Eurasia Future is publishing the full interview that Andrew Korybko gave to Beaconhouse National University’s Shahryaar Naeem as part of the article that he plans to publish in his university’s magazine about Hybrid War:

Q1: Please tell us something about your research or work regarding this topic.

I’ve been researching Hybrid War since 2013 when I enrolled as a student in the Moscow State Institute of International Relations’ (MGIMO) English-language International Relations master’s program for Governance and Global Affairs. I later published an expanded version of my thesis as a book in 2015 that I also released online. Since then, I’ve expanded my work by conducting Hybrid War risk assessments for close to 50 countries of relevance to China’s Belt & Road Initiative that I published online at Oriental Review and on Amazon as an e-book titled “The Law Of Hybrid Warfare: Eastern Hemisphere”. I also incorporate my developing theories about Hybrid War into most of my analyses whenever applicable in order to raise awareness about the prevalence of these tactics and strategies in practically all facets of contemporary international affairs.

Q2: Why do we call this type of war ‘hybrid’ and how it is different from conventional war?

I understand the “hybrid” in Hybrid War as referring to the interplay of overt and covert destabilization measures that go below the threshold of conventional war against one’s adversaries. Although kinetic means are sometimes applied, these are usually done through proxies and aren’t undertaken by the practitioner’s uniformed conventional forces.

Q3: What is ‘5th generation warfare’? Is it different from hybrid warfare? What were the previous generations of war? Are the theories of William S. Lind accurate on Modern Warfare?

I regard “Fifth Generational Warfare” as being analogous with Hybrid Warfare even though some experts consider them to be different from one another in some respects. In brief, the only thing novel about either of these two is the use of certain technologies in the informational and cyber spheres, as the general principle of weaponizing social processes and clandestinely destabilizing one’s adversaries has been around since time immemorial. As to the relevancy of Lind’s work, it’s still pertinent and forms the basis for better understanding Hybrid Warfare.

Q4: What types of wars are used in Hybrid War?

There are many different forms of Hybrid Warfare, but my book and the bulk of my research focus on the phased transition from Color Revolutions to Unconventional Wars in order to achieve Regime Tweaking (political concessions), Regime Change (self-explanatory), and/or Regime Reboot (constitutional reform) against the practitioner’s target. Information manipulation and NGOs figure prominently in catalyzing Color Revolutions, while Unconventional Wars see terrorist groups playing the main role.

Q5: Is bio warfare (e.g. the deliberate spread of viruses to kill masses) a part of this war?

Whether one chooses to classify it as part of Hybrid War or use some other terminology for describing it, biological warfare in the manner that you described certainly fulfills the purpose of indirectly destabilizing a target and is therefore of relevance to this topic.

Q6: Which countries are most active in using this war as a tool and which countries or continents are most affected?

My work specializes on the US’ use of Hybrid Warfare as an instrument for defending its unipolar hegemony and focuses on how it’s applied in various ways to undermine its geopolitical rivals, especially in regards to sabotaging China’s Belt & Road Initiative. Nevertheless, whether one looks at my model of Hybrid Warfare or other experts’, practically every country’s military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) are theoretically capable of employing some of these tactics and strategies, albeit to differing degrees and with different scopes in pursuit of different ends that altogether advance their national interests.

Q7: When did Hybrid War enter Pakistan and which countries used it against us?

Indirect destabilization campaigns, the basis of Hybrid War, have been waged against Pakistan since its inception, first by India and nowadays also by the US, both of which are trying to weaken it from within through proxy means in pursuit of the contemporary objective of stopping CPEC.

Q8: Is our media currently being used against us?

Information manipulation is a key component of Hybrid Warfare, and it’s comparatively easier to pull off in countries like Pakistan where media outlets have proliferated in the past 20 years and a wide diversity of discourse on practically all topics already exists. It can be as simple as indirectly encouraging influential figures and platforms to promote certain narratives or be as complex as literally having people on a foreign intelligence agency’s payroll (whether directly or through an NGO or other proxy) in order to promote the desired agenda.

Q9: What was Operation Hangover?

Operation Hangover wasn’t anything unique because it was just India’s application of the NSA’s secret surveillance tactics and strategies in pursuit of its interests vis-a-vis Pakistan. As the world enters the 5G Revolution and the internet becomes more ubiquitous in all aspects of everyday life, cyber attacks such as that particular one can be expected to increase as well.

Q10: Are the tribal areas in Pakistan most vulnerable to psychological attacks?

All areas and all demographics of every country are vulnerable to psychological attacks, but Pakistan’s tribal ones have been extensively targeted in the past because of their geopolitical significance adjacent to the Afghan border and also nowadays in close proximity to CPEC’s main route.

Q11: How do NGOs operate in this war?

I encourage the reader to review my article about “NGOs And The Mechanics Of Hybrid War” at Oriental Review for more details about this, but in brief, such organizations can oftentimes be exploited as foreign intelligence proxies, both directly in the sense of being created from the get-go as fronts and also indirectly in the sense of their employees, mission, and/or activities being influenced from abroad.

Q12: What are the external and internal threats to Pakistan’s security?

Hybrid Wars, and particularly their informational component that precedes Color Revolutions and other forms of foreign-influenced socially driven destabilization activities, work most successfully when they take advantage of preexisting identity conflicts and especially those that are overtly geopolitical such as the issues pertaining to the Durand Line. Their effectiveness can be improved when other instruments are used in these campaigns, such as targeted sanctions and the employment of various terrorist groups.

Q13: Is Pakistan deliberately being pushed towards an economic crisis, and if so, how?

Pakistan has many preexisting socio-economic challenges that its adversaries are capitalizing upon in order to worsen the situation in the country. The intent is to push the country into taking painful austerity measures that could then be exploited by foreign forces to incite a renewed round of Color Revolution unrest. Violence might be deliberately used in order to provoke the security forces into responding with kinetic means to quell the disturbances, which could then be deliberately misportrayed through deceptively decontextualized and/or  edited images and footage in order to catalyze a self-sustaining cycle of destabilization. That’s why the professionalism of the Pakistan Armed Forces is paramount in order to avoid inadvertently escalating the situation in this scenario and playing into the enemies’ hands in the event that disproportionate force is used against civilians who are participating in this campaign through their irresponsible actions of rioting and other such related activities.

Q14: You mentioned ‘Color Revolutions’ in your book. Is there a secret plan to initiate one in Pakistan?

Yes, as I explained in the previous answer. The specific narratives and tactics employed can be flexibly adapted for any scenario, but it’s important to always keep in mind the basic strategy at play of provoking civilian-military clashes that could then be used as the basis upon which foreign forces can then “justify” their employment of terrorist groups and engage in other destabilization measures such as targeted sanctions and the like.

Q15: Is Pakistan only being targeted because of its nuclear program and CPEC project?

Those are both important reasons why it’s become a Hybrid War target, but it’s in India’s enduring national interests as it conceives of them to destabilize Pakistan precisely because of the fact that its existence as a separate state creates a precedent that New Delhi fears could inspire separatist movements within its own borders among its many diverse people.

Q16: Did Pakistan use 4th generation warfare in the Soviet-Afghan war by supporting the Mujahidin? Did India use it against us in the 1971 civil war?

If one simplifies Fourth Generation Warfare as simply being the use of proxies, then yes, both examples meet that criterion.

Q17: How ready is Pakistan to face this threat and how effectively are our intelligence agencies  countering it?

Hybrid War is a fact of life for Pakistan and its intelligence agencies are effectively thwarting it through their numerous proactive measures at home and abroad. The country has no choice but to adapt to this reality, as it has, and to creatively craft solutions for dealing with it without sacrificing the population’s basic freedoms (which could in turn be exploited from abroad to catalyze Color Revolutions and Unconventional Wars per the aforementioned strategy).

Q18: What should be the role of Pakistani civilians and media in countering this threat?

It is important that individuals and information outlets anywhere in the world behave responsibly when sharing information. People should learn how to differentiate between various media products (factual news reports, op-eds, analyses, propaganda, fake news, etc.) in order to not be swayed by foreign-backed manipulation campaigns, but they also shouldn’t prematurely accuse their opponents of engaging in them just because they disagree with their views. Governments should educate their populations about how they might inadvertently be guided into participating in these campaigns in order to raise awareness of these modi operandi, especially pointing out the difference between the right to peacefully protest and the illegality of rioting, let alone the inadmissibility of using force against members of the security services. Hybrid War is everywhere and affects everyone, but getting its targets to overreact to this threat is also an objective of its practitioners in and of itself, which is why prudent policies should be put into place and practiced by the state and its people in order to avoid this dangerous pitfall.

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.

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