Migrants as Weapons Systems

I came across a good paper titled, ‘Migrants as a Weapons System,’ by Aaron R. Petty published in Journal of National Security Law & Policy in 2022. Some excerpts:

“In this article, I suggest that the weaponization of migrants, i.e., the use of migrants as a weapons system, is likely to increase against the United States and its allies. Many states, most notably including China and Russia, routinely conduct operations below the level of armed conflict. These “gray zone” operations shape the operating environment to their advantage in the event of future conflict while destabilizing and undermining competitors now. Instrumentalizing population flows is one way to accomplish both of these objectives…”

There is a gap between conduct that we can respond to with force, and conduct that is antithetical to our interests or to peace and security generally, but which we can do very little about. Our adversaries know this and exploit it to great effect. Joshua Hastey aptly observes, “[u]ntil strategists and just war thinkers begin to consider how to broaden our conceptions of the jus ad bellum standards, we will remain hostage to hostile actors who are willing to exploit our restraint.”