President Joe Biden has made clear his foreign policy objectives for his first 100 days in office. Clear signals have been sent about a diplomacy-first platform when engaging with partners and adversaries abroad. This is a departure from former President Trump’s all-but-vacant role in the international community. Unlike Obama’s reliance on the National Security Council, Biden is poised to renew investment and confidence in the State Department. This has been signaled with a strong investment into the diplomatic corps spanning across departments.

His appointment of career diplomat William Burns to head the CIA. Climate change appears to rank at the top of the list of Biden’s priorities as a growing number of young people are debilitatingly distressed by the effects of climate change. President Biden has made his intentions clear by rejoining the Paris Agreement on his first day in office. and even appointed former Secretary of State John Kerry as climate czar, a new cabinet position.

President Biden outlined a four-year, $2 trillion plan to commit to renewable power, greenhouse-gas reductions, and a carbon-neutral power sector by 2035. With a foreign policy roster of old-guard diplomats, Biden is set to make sweeping changes to the U.S. grand strategy.

Taking the lead in climate diplomacy will require close cooperation with Europe to synchronize efforts throughout the West. Accomplishing a more brave and climate-ambitious foreign policy doctrine can be done through existing transatlantic partnerships like NATO, an institution certainly pleased to see a known ally in the White House again.

Though the military pact has been warning of a new energy threat as of late.
Understanding the growing implications of hybrid warfare is becoming imperative for all of the member states, says NATO. Paired with conventional use of force, hybrid warfare encapsulates more multi-faceted and intractable challenges that democracies are being forced to combat. Disinformation, cyber attacks, and economic pressure are seen as below the threshold for armed conflict. When used in conjunction and coordination, these methods and others are designed to sow discord and may even cause an insurrection. This was exemplified on January 6 in Washington, D.C., when the Capitol building was attacked by a violent mob of, acting on misinformation that the election was rigged and/or stolen, a lie promulgated not by foreign state adversaries, but by the former president.

Hybrid threats are unlike historical tales of powerful dictators or colonialism. In concert, the
tools currently being implemented by agitators are meant to incite chaos from every direction and undermine the integrity of good governance. In concert, coordinated hybrid attacks can uproot Western values of democracy and cause swaths of violence. Hybrid warfare poses a risk to not only the body politic of a nation but also its efficacy to engage in the international community to combat global challenges. The most experienced actor in implementing hybrid warfare is Russia, having utilized the concepts of hybrid warfare to create pretexts for violence and subverting Western interests for years. Most notably and possibly the most impactful use was Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election, which resulted in widespread disinformation spread to millions of American voters.

Hybrid warfare has also been used to wrest control of economic markets from foreign nations. In 2006 and 2009, Russia overtly “shut off the lights” in Ukraine, cutting off natural gas supplies until the government agreed to pay a higher rate for the Russian imported gas. Similar and less overt tactics have been utilized throughout Eastern Europe to tighten dependence on the Kremlin for energy needs. Support of anti-fracking campaigns in Romania and Bulgaria was linked to Russian energy companies in 2014, an effort to stifle energy independence there. Similar overt influence has been used in Hungary to build the €12 billion Nord Stream II pipeline and in cyberattacks against German energy companies in 2018 and 2020.

Other such malign attacks to dominate energy markets have occurred throughout the West, most recently the SolarWinds hack in the U.S., the largest cybersecurity breach in American history. Forging a climate-driven, diplomacy-first foreign policy will be all but impossible for Biden in a global landscape filled with a menagerie of disinformation tools and growing Russian control of energy markets. Investing in renewable energies inherently contributes to the energy independence of a country. Mitigating the effects of climate change while also reducing Moscow’s share of the energy market in Europe is an easy decision for the U.S. and EU to cooperate on. Revamping the transatlantic bloc to fight climate change can redevelop Western security and, at last, create climate security. Making it happen is a different story.

The U.S. is returning to the world stage after four years to find a neglected NATO and a
disjointed EU with member states inching away from democracy, also as a result of Russian
influence. Over the past decade, the proliferation of hybrid warfare has conjoined these issues of disinformation, weakening democracies, and corrupted energy markets into a solid bloc, making once simply acrimonious diplomatic feats all the more challenging for the West to accomplish.

To fight a hybrid war, Biden must invest in existing diplomatic and military infrastructure, targeting groups of states particularly at risk for malign influence, such as the Balkans. Utilizing NATO, USAID, and various arms of the EU, Biden can expand on his commitment to fight corruption and support green infrastructure across Eastern Europe. Driving new, green industry in places like the Balkans, typically ranking last in European economic metrics, would be a welcomed development strategy by creating more energy independence in the region while fighting climate change.

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