Russia’s new generation warfare ‘made a mockery of West’s soft power


British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is furious at a decision to let Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin mouthpiece launch a blistering attack on Britain from inside the House of Commons, Russian spin doctor and Putin confidante Maria Zakharova (left), who has called the Foreign Secretary ‘shameful’, is guest of honor at an event on soft power at the Commons Terrace Pavilion overlooking the Thames, The Daily Mail reports.

Having enjoyed a preponderance of force and wealth, Western democracies have failed to grasp the changing nature of power in international affairs, argues John Bew, a professor of history at King’s College London. Since 1989, from a position of strength, the West has evangelized about its capacity for “soft power”, even attempting to quantify it as some sort of saleable commodity, he writes for The New Statesman:

Russia – a country with scandalously low life expectancy, haemorrhaging population levels and a sclerotic economy – has made a mockery of this. Moscow has not only deployed conventional “hard” power in Syria and Ukraine, but crafted its own version of “soft”, or cultural, influence using instruments such as the media groups Sputnik and RT (formerly Russia Today).

Russia’s new generation warfare has “matured into a corpus of ideas” with its conceptual core “an amalgamation of hard and soft power across various domains, through skillful application of coordinated military, diplomatic and economic tools,” notes analyst Dima Adamsky, whose text on the current art of Russian strategy has been described as still the best out there.

New generation warfare’s most salient points are on the employment of non-military instruments of national power in confrontation, asymmetric and indirect methods, and the de facto search for competitive advantages against much stronger adversaries, argues Michael Kofman, a Research Scientist at CNA Corporation and a Fellow at the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute.

It moves the needle more toward the population as the center of gravity and away from direct force-on-force contests centered upon large military forces and firepower,” he adds. “Moscow seeks to win conflicts on the cheap without overly committing in expensive forms of warfare.”

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