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Jeffrey S. Lantis and Darryl Howlett

This chapter discusses the ways that strategic culture can be relevant to scholarship and policymaking with regard to international security. It first provides an overview of three main approaches to the study of culture and strategy, paying attention to political culture as well as the relationship between strategic culture and nuclear deterrence. It then examines various sources of strategic culture identified in the literature, along with theoretical issues related to strategic culture. In particular, it explores the link between constructivism and strategic culture, the question of continuity in state behaviour and how strategic cultural dilemmas can cause changes in security policy, and the ‘keepers’ of strategic culture. The chapter also asks whether non-state, state, and multistate actors can possess distinctive strategic cultures before concluding with an analysis of the role of strategic culture in the acquisition of — and threats to use — weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).


Dmitry (Dima) Adamsky

Strategic culture shapes national security concepts, military doctrines, organizational structures of the armed forces, weapon systems, styles of war, and almost every other aspect of a state’s defence policy and strategic behaviour. Nevertheless, it is challenging to define and identify strategic culture in a systematic way and multiple definitions of the concept are debated by scholars. It can also be difficult to isolate its impact on national strategy. The strategic culture paradigm has evolved to explore the ways in which multiple cultures—national culture, military culture, and the organizational cultures of key institutions—exist within security communities. While most scholars explore the strategic culture of states, others have examined whether a cohesive strategic culture can exist within non-state actors (e.g. the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)) and supranational actors (e.g. North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the European Union) as well.


This chapter looks into the rationality of terrorism. It starts off by looking into the paradox of terrorism. Political scientists typically view terrorists as rational political actors. However, empirical research on terrorism suggests that terrorism is in fact an ineffective political tactic. Evidence indicates that in instances where there has been terrorist attacks on civilians, governments rarely grant concessions. This might explain why terrorism is often selected as a tactic only if alternative options are no longer viable. The chapter uses Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State as case studies to examine broader patterns of terrorism. Knowing the priority of terrorists is vital for governments when considering counterterrorism actions. Having an understanding of the grievances of terrorists helps political actors predict which targets the terrorists will attack.