National security threats facing the West are fundamentally changing. Turning away from the military as an omnibus tool of aggression, hostile governments are instead frequently using tools—including subversive economics, coercion of foreign companies, gradual border violations, cyberattacks, disinformation, and arbitrary detention of foreign citizens—that are often difficult for targeted countries to immediately identify, let alone tackle. Nonmilitary aggression is easy, inexpensive, and alarmingly effective. Businesses — American and foreign — have already suffered significant financial losses because of gray-zone attacks.
In The Defender’s Dilemma, international security expert Elisabeth Brawer offers the first sustained analysis of how these tactics in the gray zone between war and peace dangerously weaken liberal democracies, which are open societies by definition and intimately connected to the rest of the world through globalization. She discusses the breadth of gray-zone aggression and presents strategies for better defense against it. These strategies involve not just governments but also civil society, a largely untapped resource.
Elisabeth Braw is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute(AEI), where she focuses on defense against emerging national security challenges, such as hybrid and gray-zone threats. She is also a columnist with Foreign Policy, where she writes on national security and the globalized economy, and a member of the UK’s National Preparedness Commission. Before joining AEI, Braw was a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies in London, where she founded its modern deterrence project. She has also been an associate fellow at the European Leadership Network, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, and a senior consultant at Control Risks, a global risk consultancy. Braw started her career as a journalist working for Swedish newspapers and has reported on Europe for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. She is often published in the Economist, Foreign Affairs, the Times, and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications. She is also the author of God’s Spies: The Stasi’s Cold War Espionage Campaign Inside the Church (William B. Eerdmans, 2019). A frequent speaker at national security and business conferences, Braw often appears on various international media.
I. Defining and Identifying Gray-Zone Aggression
II. 2014: A Decisive Year
III. Gray-Zone Aggression, a National Security Threat
IV. Is Sponsorship an Act of Aggression? Use of Licit Means in the Gray Zone
V. Subversive Economics: When Business as Usual Enters the Gray Zone
VI. Coercion, Bullying, and Subversion of Civil Society
VII. Gradual Border Alterations and Surreptitious Fishing: Use of Illicit Means
VIII. Producing Fear in the Enemy’s Mind: Adapting Cold War Deterrence for Gray-Zone Aggression
IX. Cold War Swedish and Finnish Total Defense as Deterrence
X. Building a Wall of Denial Against Gray-Zone Aggression
XI. Deterrence by Punishment
About the Author
In a world with worrying new challenges to our safety and security, Elisabeth Braw is a clear voice of reason. In this authoritative and fascinating book she issues stark warnings about how our lives are increasingly affected by unsupervised and unregulated new threats. These urgent warnings must be listened to.