Strategic Culture and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Culturally Based insights Into Comparative National Security Policymaking
The surprise of 9-11 exposed the vulnerabilities and shortcomings of our most prominent social science models in forecasting adversary behavior. It has become clear that we must know our enemies better if we are to deter, dissuade or defeat them. Strategic Culture is designed to do exactly this. As an analytic tool, Strategic Culture rejects the assumption that all actors on the world stage use the same codes of rationality when pursuing defensive or offensive security measures. State actors are indeed rational, but rationality is culturally encoded. Those codes must be understood in order to forecast the most essential elements of their behavior. Thus, Strategic Culturalists probe organizational and national cultures for clues regarding acceptable, and preferred strategies and endstates. Nowhere is this process more vitally important than the realm of weapons of mass destruction. As we struggle to understand how to deter Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, how to dissuade North Korea from selling, or how to deny terrorist organizations the ability to purchase or employ them, we must first understand the motivations, values, and accepted norms of behavior that shape the way these actors think and act in the weapons arena.
Deterrence, Strategic culture, Nuclear weapons, National security, International security, Strategy
Johnson, Jeannie L., Kerry M. Kartchner and Jeffrey A. Larsen, eds. Strategic Culture and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Culturally Based insights Into Comparative National Security Policymaking. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.