Eerik-Niiles Kross writes: In modern 21st-century warfare, non-military approaches — propaganda, and economic, cultural and humanitarian sabotage — will play a greater role than purely military methods, Russian Armed Forces chief Valery Gerasimov argued, a year before the Russian occupation of Crimea.
“In a couple of months, even days, a well-functioning state can be turned into a theater of fierce armed conflict, can be made a victim of invasion from outside, or can drown in a net of chaos, humanitarian disaster and civil war,” he wrote.
The purpose of war today is not the physical destruction of the enemy, but the internal eroding of our readiness, will, and values.
Through the lens of Russia’s aggression in Crimea, the invasion of eastern Ukraine, the destabilization of Moldova, the escalating war in Syria and the refugee crisis, Gerasimov’s doctrine shows Russian activities over the past two years — both overt and covert, across the Middle East and Europe — to be part of a single, unified war against the (partially imagined) “hegemony of the West.”
Gerasimov’s doctrine draws on “reflexive control theory” — a favorite among Soviet military theorists — and asserts that control can be established through reflexive, unconscious responses from a target group. This group is systematically supplied with (dis)information designed to provoke reactions that are predictable and, to Russia, politically and strategically desirable. [Continue reading…]