Strategic Foresight

Reports and papers

The return of political warfare

12 Dec 2018 - 12:11

This report is part of our Strategic Monitor 2018 - 2019, which monitors the international system and assesses risks to Dutch national security. A Dutch version of the synthesis report Interregnum was published in February 2019. The English version of this report is expected March 2019.

The West currently faces a number of actors who employ a wide range of measures to influence, coerce, intimidate, or undermine its interests. Many of these measures are often collectively referred to as “political warfare”, a term originally coined by former U.S. State Department diplomat George F. Kennan in 1948.

This report by Danny Pronk defines political warfare as the intentional use of one or more of the traditional implements of national power (diplomatic, informational, military, and economic) to affect the political composition or decision-making within another state. It then analyzes political warfare as it is practiced today by the Russian Federation, and explores its consequences for the rules-based international order, before concluding that political warfare is simply the expression of international relations in today’s competitive and polarized world.