Matthias Wolfram


Since 2008 more and more often the term „Hybrid War“ has circulated in security-political circles when dealing with future conflict forms. In the USA this term has become really important in the course of current discussions, and some European states have begun to use this intellectual model of a new form of armed conflicts as a starting point for their considerations for determining future necessary capabilities of armed forces. An important milestone in the spreading of the term was the transfer of the concept to the conflict between the Hisbollah and Israel’s armed forces in 2006. The largely uncritically accepted analysis that it represents a classic example of a hybrid war appears to be questionable. The intellectual creation of a hybrid mixture of confrontations in future armed conflicts appeared 2005 in the course of the development of the American National Defense Strategy. Here the most serious future threat for the USA was outlined for the first time: a combination of traditional, irregular, disastrous, terrorist and disruptive aspects. According to this analysis, a central part of the threat was the use of the latest technologies for making the American superiority ineffective. Against a backdrop of global interdependencies and interactions, a clear separation of conflict forms, however, as has been applied in many Western states for a long time, will not always be possible within the limitations of future conflicts. On the contrary, we will have to base our decisions on numerous different hybrid forms of armed conflicts, as all wars have been more or less different so far because of their different situational and context-specific set-ups. First of all, wars, as long as they are not genuine military conflicts focussed on “warfare”, are conflicts going beyond military affairs between opponents who want to have their own way. Especially in the course of survival conflicts between societies, because of the mixture of different methods, they always tend to be hybrid wars in the sense of conflicts between entire societies. In the field of warfare in the sense of making war with military means, however, genuine hybridism cannot be detected so far. Although the conflict between Israel and the Hisbollah of 2006 cannot be put into genuine hybrid warfare, one cannot reject its possibility absolutely. Basically one can imagine that quasi-national actors striving for changing into national actors arrive at a level where they can apply most varying methods of settling conflicts. Here the first positive result of the present debate can be detected already: The focus of the discussion has been enlarged from the opposite pair conventional versus irregular methods to a spectrum of different possibilities, which are applied by different actors according to their respective situations and resources. A mature and comprehensive use of this idea, however, has not appeared openly so far. The war between Israel and the Hisbollah certainly does not belong to this category, and this is the reason why it may easily be classified as „Hype-bred War“.