NATO and Hybrid Conflict Unresolved Issues from the Past or Unresolvable Threats of the Present
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NATOs enduring global preeminence owes to its ability to adapt to emerging security threats, but this capacity now may be limited. Today, NATO faces hybrid threats that combine conventional and unconventional means. On the one hand, hybrid threats may not constitute armed attacks under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. On the other hand, NATO nations are both enriched and endangered by cyberspace, mass media, and the growing global interdependency of easily accessible technologies that once were possessed only by nation-states but now can serve as weapons in hands of the rogue state and non-state actors. This thesis examines NATOs ability to defend against hybrid threats. First it analyzes the historical development of internal issues that make NATO vulnerable to outside threats. Then, through two case studies, it examines the external threats projected by hybrid threat actors. Finally, it turns to NATOs strategic capabilities against hybrid threat actors. The thesis concludes that NATOs well-established habits of burden-sharing and burden-shifting exacerbate the lag in developing the policy framework to deal with hybrid threats. Still, NATO can turn to its New Strategic Concept and the Smart Defense initiative to counter and deter hybrid threats, thus managing threats that cannot be fully prevented.
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