The “National Security Strategy” report issued by the Biden administration in October 2022 believes that “a competition among major powers is unfolding to determine the future direction” and regards this competition as one of the two major strategic challenges facing the United States. The release of the report marks that the U.S. strategic adjustment has passed the period of swing and turbulence, and the competition strategy of major powers has been initially finalized. In the course of this major strategic transformation, the theory of hybrid warfare has gradually been applied to the practice of great power competition.
America’s Great Power Competition Policy from the Perspective of Hybrid War Theory
Two notable changes have taken place in modern hybrid warfare theory against the background of great power competition. First, the connotation of hybrid warfare has gone far beyond the concept of hybrid warfare originally proposed by Hoffman, and is gradually expanding from a military theory to a national security theory. The second is that the theory of modern hybrid warfare is a theory summed up by the United States, the West and Russia in response to the behavior of the other party, which is inherently critical and accusatory, which makes hybrid warfare evolve from a relatively positive concept to a relatively negative concept that is used to criticize Opposite concept.
It is precisely because of the change in the wording of hybrid warfare from praise to derogation that no country will use the theory of hybrid warfare as its public strategic guiding theory, but some major countries are actually launching hybrid warfare themselves while accusing the other party of launching hybrid warfare. . When we examine the United States’ current policy of great power competition with the theory of hybrid warfare, we can find that the United States is intensively launching a hybrid war against major powers.
Promote value diplomacy in the political field. The United States has always been good at framing its foreign strategy with values. From the very beginning of its founding, it has positioned itself as a “city on a hill”, a “beacon” of the free world, and a new world different from the European continent. The United States won the Cold War, making its values sought after by more and more countries. The United States also took the opportunity to export its American values, trying to use values as a means to form an alliance of values and expand its influence.
The current value diplomacy promoted by the Biden administration is based on the promotion of values for many years, and it highlights the practicality of value diplomacy. Establish an exclusive alliance framework in terms of economy, technology, and military, isolate challenging powers, and win over more countries to “pay” for maintaining its hegemony. In December 2021, the U.S. government invited more than 100 countries to participate in the world leaders’ democratic summit, emphasizing the protection of human rights and the opposition to corruption and “authoritarianism.” In the 2022 Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, it states that “we will strengthen the international system, make it based on shared values, and update it to meet the challenges of the 21st century.” In the construction of the four-party security dialogue, it also emphasizes “building a region that is free, open, inclusive, healthy, based on democratic values, and free from coercion.”
The United States has also extended the issue of values to the economic and technological fields, accusing China of the state-led economic model and non-free market economy economically, and advocating economic coercion, corruption and “neo-colonialism” in China’s foreign policy. In the field of technology, it introduces the value judgment standard, advocating that “the design, development, governance and use of technology should be led by countries with shared democratic values and respect for human rights, technology should be used to promote shared values, and the development of key and emerging technology applications consistent with universal values”. The United States has greatly reduced the cost of major power competition by taking advantage of its values. Joseph Nye pointed out in the book “American Presidents and Their Foreign Policy” that “the bidding power of the United States is not necessarily higher than that of China, because China has more cash on hand and can Used overseas, but the U.S. can out-lob and incentivize China.”
Trade wars and financial wars in the economic field. The economic field is an important battlefield for hybrid warfare. Relying on its economic and financial advantages, the United States launched a hybrid war against major powers such as China and Russia.
One is to build an exclusive economic circle. What stands out in this regard is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) launched by the Biden administration on May 23, 2022. The framework aims to increase the economic influence of the United States and check and balance China, with strong political and security overtones. From the perspective of members, it includes seven countries in ASEAN and major countries in the Indo-Pacific region such as the United States, Japan, India, Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand, as well as Fiji, a Pacific island country whose GDP accounts for 40% of the world. Countries other than China joined. From the perspective of cooperation content, the framework focuses on four key pillars, namely interconnected economy, resilient economy, clean economy and fair economy. money laundering and corruption. The proposal of the Indo-Pacific economic framework makes up for the shortcomings of the US Indo-Pacific strategy of “emphasizing security and neglecting economy”. U.S. National Security Adviser Sullivan said the Indo-Pacific economic framework is “an essential element in realizing the overall strategy for the Indo-Pacific region.” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Raimondo said, “This is the most important economic participation of the United States in the history of the region… As companies begin to increasingly look for alternatives to China, countries in the Indo-Pacific framework will become more important for U.S. companies. reliable partner”.
The second is to interfere with the opponent’s economic layout. Nowhere is this more evident than in the U.S. hedging package against China’s Belt and Road Initiative. On the one hand, it tries its best to slander China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, and on the other hand, it calls on Western countries to provide infrastructure construction assistance to developing countries by launching the “Blue Dot Network” program and the “Rebuild a Better World Program” to crowd out China. In addition, the United States also obstructed the implementation of the China-EU investment agreement, undermined the China-EU “17+1” cooperation mechanism, suppressed Chinese companies listed in the United States, and suppressed China’s manufacturing industry through “trade wars” and other methods in an attempt to drive the manufacturing industry out of China. , weakening China’s economic foundation.
Hybrid warfare has gradually been used by the United States and Russia to accuse each other of blurring the war
The third is to implement trade and financial sanctions. In March 2018, a “trade war” was launched against China. Although the president changed it, most of the relevant policies have been retained and partial optimization adjustments have been made in favor of the United States. After the Russian-Ukrainian conflict broke out in 2022, the United States imposed trade and financial sanctions on Russia, including freezing Russia’s 300 billion US dollars of foreign exchange reserves, sanctioning the Russian central bank, major commercial banks and other financial institutions, kicking Russia out of the SWIFT system, and sanctioning Russia’s economic lifeline. Oil, natural gas, coal and other industries, prohibiting investment in Russia and other measures.
Selective decoupling and broken chains in the field of science and technology. In recent years, the United States has relied on its huge advantages in the field of science and technology to carry out hybrid wars against threatening major powers, and has tried its best to exclude, suppress and isolate them. Some extreme and aggressive actions of the United States during the Trump period have seriously damaged the interests of the United States while hurting its opponents. The Biden administration has corrected some policy measures from a longer-term and low-cost perspective, but it is still a hybrid war important means. While continuing to vigorously develop advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, quantum computing, semiconductors, advanced networks, and autonomous systems, and competing with major powers in technological development, the United States is actively promoting the decoupling of high-tech fields from major powers.