Grand Strategies and Strategic Cultures
There have been many attempts throughout history to define the concept of grand strategy. Paul Kennedy, for example, defines a grand strategy as the capacity of a nation's leaders to bring together all means of military and nonmilitary power to preserve and enhance the nation's long-term interests. Our partners at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) remind us that there are four basic approaches to conceiving a grand strategy: isolationism or restraint, selective engagement, cooperative security and primacy. Accordingly, a grand strategy also helps a nation to understand its international environment.
A nation’s grand strategy is, in turn, shaped by its strategic culture. This emphasizes the role that norms, identity and ideas play in the construction of a state’s geopolitical calculations. Yet despite the longevity of both concepts, many critics label grand strategies and distinct strategic cultures as outmoded and controversial. To determine whether grand strategies and strategic cultures remain relevant in a rapidly changing world, we begin this dossier with a general overview of both concepts. What then follows are specific case studies of the grand strategies of the United States, Iran and other regional powers.
17 Apr 2012 / Special Feature
STRATFOR's George Friedman explains contemporary US grand strategy, and Steven Metz, John Mearsheimer and General Martin Dempsey give their perspectives. More on «American Grand Strategy: Renewal or Decline?»
18 Apr 2012 / Audio
Iran's grand strategy can either be understood as protecting the current elite or as restoring the country's historical status, explains Anoush Ehteshami, a Middle East expert and professor at Durham University. More on «Iran: Regional Power with a Global Strategy»
19 Apr 2012 / Special Feature
Whereas Japan has used a historical narrative of humiliation to become a pacifist state, China sees it as an opportunity to consolidate its global power status. These dynamics, however, might be about to change. More on «Narratives of Humiliation: Chinese and Japanese Strategic Culture»
20 Apr 2012 / Audio
India and Pakistan are preoccupied with domestic affairs but their grand strategies often collide, explains Anatol Lieven, a professor of strategy at King's College London and author of Pakistan: A Hard Country. More on «India and Pakistan: Incompatible Grand Strategies»
31 Dec 2012 / Audio
How does a state’s strategic culture shape its grand strategy? Using the US as an example, Peter Faber explains what strategic culture is, how it relates to grand strategy, and what role the two concepts play in the 21st century. More on «Bringing Back Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy»