Narrowing the Grey Zone Conflict Margin
CitationLemont, David A. 2019. Narrowing the Grey Zone Conflict Margin. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractModern day conflicts are radically evolving by reducing target size, decreasing enemy footprint, increasing the global reach while most importantly increasing population concerns of potential local threat. Through the rapid development of technology and globalization, all levels of aggressive actions or conflicts have become of international interest. Prior to recent technological advancements, smaller level conflicts remained limited within a region.
Actions that do not quite fall under the clear definitions of “War” by lesser levels of aggressions are defined by Lauren Fish, writer of the Small Wars Journal, as “Grey Zone” conflicts. Not to be confused with traditional methods of “low intensity” conflicts between two opposing nation-states, Grey Zone conflicts are undeclared acts of international conflict that operate with an ambiguous approach that lack an acknowledged state of hostilities between established states. Grey Zone aggressors cannot be clearly identified as they do not immediately expose their motives and/or locations. Grey Zone conflicts have numerous methods of approach, including cyber-attacks, occupation of land, use of biological and chemical agents, small scale terrorism and hostage situations. The largest problems in dealing with Grey Zone conflicts are identifying the responsible actors and intent as well as justifying the proportionate level of response in a timely fashion before conflict evolves or escalates to war.
This thesis will identify Grey Zone conflict trends, consider future trends of enemy responses to respond to less familiar methodologies of conflict in order to narrow the margin between low-level, Grey Zone conflicts, and acts of war. By suggesting guidelines for actions against Grey Zone conflicts, the US government and other governments will be able to appropriately respond in hopes of preventing war.
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