LILLIPUTIANS AND THE AMORPHOUS GIANT: SMALL STATES' OPPORTUNITIES FACING THE HYBRID THREAT
Sepp, Kalev I.
Burks, Robert E.
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In the 21st century strategic environment, small states face new security challenges caused by emerging great powers. These new powers seek to achieve their political goals in small states by avoiding major military escalation and focusing on combinations of statecraft and non-military means. This "hybrid threat" has strong implications for small states’ national security. This thesis explores small states’ vulnerabilities and opportunities across the political, military, economic, social, and informational (PMESI) spectrum to outline a favorable posture toward a great power hybrid threat. The hybrid threat is characterized, and small states’ opportunities and vulnerabilities are delineated. A systems-thinking approach is applied to assess how opportunities and vulnerabilities influence the relationship between large powers and small states, contributing to the small state’s ability to manage and counter a great-power hybrid threat. Three historical cases are analyzed to assess favorable or unfavorable postures for a small state and the interactive dynamics of these opportunities and vulnerabilities. Ultimately, the study shows that the great-power hybrid threat can be significantly lessened by a small state's posture, namely by the interactions between its opportunities and vulnerabilities across the PMESI spectrum. By exploiting this systemic interaction, a small state can decisively influence a conflict with a great power and effectively limit the hybrid threat’s effects.
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