By Nicole J. Jackson, Associate Professor at School for International Studies, SFU
Modern deterrence strategies are complicated by the need to consider whether and how to respond to a whole host of aggressions that fall short of conventional war. These now come from a range of (state and non-state) actors and are directed towards a wide range of targets (states, businesses, societies, and increasingly individuals). Challenges weave through different domains from the global and national to regional and local and have implications at domestic and international levels. In Canada, what once were federal security issues (involving public safety, CSIS, defence, foreign affairs) increasingly impact on provincial and local levels in areas such as education, law, and infrastructure as well as on our alliances such as NATO and our relationships with multilateral groups such as the G7 and the EU.
Traditional deterrence was set up for past conventional wars, which are no longer the norm. Today, in response to hybrid warfare, non-military tools, tailored to fit particular contexts, are increasingly being used to detect, prevent or pre-empt crises, and are filling in the gaps from traditional structures of deterrence (nuclear weapons and conventional forces). In other words, non-military tools are being used, often simultaneously, in areas that are not clearly war (military) or peace (political). In reviewing these developments, this paper suggests that it is important to think through the implications of this current transformation for deterrence. To respond to hybrid warfare, we need comprehensive defence strategies and plans. But what exactly should be the responsibilities of civilian, government and armed forces? Are deterrence strategies keeping pace with political, military and technological changes? Are there dangers for liberal states of entering into new hybrid wars that have no end?