When Russia first was engaged in war with Georgia and later with Ukraine, quite a few were talking about the return of “cold war”. When again President Obama and the US declared war against the Islamic caliphate, as many talked about war against terrorism. In both cases thoughts are automatically directed to events of the past. In the first case we think about war amongst CIA and KGB agents, interventions in neighboring countries for setting examples (Czechoslovakia, Hungary) all the analogies that the friction between Kennedy and Chrutsev provided. In the second case we think of a US military expedition like the one in Iraq or Afghanistan after the fall of the twin towers in 2001. Infantry, tanks, airplanes, modern weaponry, all in the service of the “good” as President Bush Jr. named those actions against the “evil” that was presented by they anti-democratic forces of Islam. Neither is occurring despite the current tension. What has changed? To start, Russia is not the Soviet Union anymore.the 1945 – 1989 era cannot be repeated. Because, at that time, perestroika emerged. It changed the Russian physiognomy and dismantled the Soviet model. Even Kremlin is not leading some international alliance under the prism of formatted ideology or any other socioeconomic system as the communist idea was. So Russia is not proposing any new ideas about word order. On top of that the daily routine resembles very much that of the west, while its economy is similar to the western standards. As a result President Putin, despite his ex KGB background is not a secretary that a Gorbatchof will succeed.
On the same note, the Islamic state does not operate like Al-Khaida, although it is Bin-Lnden’s offspring that dreamed of the caliphate. Caliphate Islamist operate differently. They do not engage in military confrontation. They blend in the crowd and they appear as sudden as they disappear, they provoke civil and religious battles in chaotic states such as Iraq, Syria and Libya. Air bombardment strikes them, but they learned to sneak out and reduce their losses. This way the force westerners, by not being able to find them as they are not regular army, to think that a battle on ground is necessary to end some war with the jihad. President Obama is reluctant to proceed the same way as in Iraq or Afghanistan, since he feels that the enemy is asymmetric and these battles are not as the tactical ones used to be. We are facing hybrid wars. President Putin and the Islamists are specialists. They used covert strategies, with humanitarian aid, economic punishment, media of provocation, or the propaganda of decapitating innocents or mass murdering through creation of Islam martyrs, that blow themselves up as human bombs geared with explosives. Wars are not as they used to be in their classical form. They are complex and unexpected. They lost their traditional simplicity and the opponents are present and absent, visible and invisible, and very complex. So the West is obliged to adapt quite often in the hybrid war reality. It would be preferable not to follow, the jihad military agenda, but to find ways to prevent the situations. To enforce the war agenda: The West needs its hybrid practice, something that is happening now in hybrid wars.
University Professor, artist, poet
Advisor to the Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, on culture