Domestic, foreign policies are intertwined
Published 1:24 pm Monday, January 29, 2024
By Matt Becker
On January 18, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee – Dutch Admiral Rob Bauer – stated that the Western world must prepare for a potential larger war with Russia, which would involve a “whole of society” approach and that “we have to realize it’s not a given that we are in peace. And that’s why [NATO forces] are preparing for a conflict with Russia.”
On January 8, Carl-Oskar Bohlin, the Minister for Civil Defense of soon-to-be NATO member-state Sweden, told Swedish citizens that “there could be war in Sweden” and that citizens should be prepared to contribute to the national defense, including by joining civil defense groups, which represents this “whole of society” commitment. This potential conflict would not start out as “hot,” but rather “hybrid” in nature.
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Indeed, such hybrid warfare has been occurring with the use of illegal migrants. How so?
We see this playing out with the use of Islamic migrants as a form of hybrid warfare by Russia against the West. When Russia first utilized this against Poland in 2015, many in America and Europe chastised Poland for pushing them back into Belarus and defending their borders from the onslaught. Russia and her ally Belarus are up to it again, sending these same people to Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, and Poland.
The U.S. now views the use of Islamic migrants as Russian hybrid warfare, the purpose of which is to cause internal discord and showcase the instability of Western politics to their domestic populace (e.g., in the case of China, the idea is that “stability is better than democracy”). Our collective West must be defended against the onslaught of anti-freedom forces. Moscow has recently utilized another form of hybrid warfare against Warsaw as well.
On January 16, Russia utilized electronic warfare (based out of Kaliningrad Oblast) that jammed GPS in northeast Poland; according to Swedish Lt Col Joakim Paasikivi, this represents “Russian influence activities or so-called hybrid warfare.”
With the start of NATO exercise “Steadfast Defender 2024” (all 31 NATO states plus Sweden) this month and lasting through May, we should be prepared to see more attempts of GPS jamming in an attempt to disrupt – and test reactions to – such electronic warfare.
Why attempt to jam GPS in Poland? The answer is a narrow strip of land known as the Suwalki Gap, which is the border between Poland and Lithuania – with Kaliningrad Oblast and Belarus on the two endpoints. The Suwalki Gap is a mere 65 miles end-to-end, that Russia would most likely attempt to seize in order to create a land bridge with its exclave and then divide the Baltic States from Poland, thereby blocking the only allied land route to these three member-states.
If this were to occur, would we come to the aid of our Baltic allies or let them be swallowed by Moscow? If the latter, our respect and credibility would disappear – emboldening our adversaries. How do we prevent this from happening? In this civilizational conflict, our domestic and foreign policies are intertwined.
At home, we do this by securing our southern border – there has been an alarming rise in military-aged men from China detained at the border. I believe we are experiencing a similar wave of hybrid warfare, funded by Russia and China. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania will be securing their borders with Belarus and Russia with the “Baltic Defense Line;” our politicians must realize that having a secure border is integral for our national security – no longer should this be a partisan issue.
Abroad we do this by supporting Ukraine in her defense of the democratic world and supporting our Eastern flank NATO allies – who know all too well Russia’s intent: a new autocratic civilizational alliance headed by Russia, China, and Iran; establishing permanent American bases in eastern Poland and the Baltic States would help assure these strong American allies.
This reality means that as a country, we must think long-term regarding foreign and domestic policies. Our leaders in Congress and the White House must put forth a clear-eyed plan and clearly articulate it to the American people; certain folks in Congress must also understand this is not a binary – we are facing a multi-faceted assault.
If we halt our support of Ukraine, it will embolden Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea (who is now selling weaponry to Moscow). It is my view that the war in Ukraine is part of a much larger civilizational conflict; these seemingly random conflicts – from Europe (Ukraine), Middle East (Red Sea), to Asia (South China Sea; Korean Peninsula) – are in reality part of a larger goal to displace America as the “indispensable nation.”
Winning a civilizational war requires articulating why arming Ukraine to defeat Russia is in our country’s national security interest (rather than the current “as long as it takes” line that is used by President Biden) – this support must also include helping Kyiv develop a self-sufficient defense industrial base – this means ramping up our own American defense industrial base as well. By developing a self-sufficient defense industrial base, Ukraine will be able to produce its own weapons – and with the end of the war, serve as a net exporter of NATO interoperable ammunition, equipment, and battle-tested know-how. American domestic and foreign policies are intertwined; let’s not dilly dally around.
Dr. Matthew Becker earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Mississippi and masters in International Affairs from Florida State. He has taught on the topic of politics and security issues at the University of Mississippi and was a Boren Fellow in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He may be reached at: MatthewBeckerPHD@gmail.com.