Director of Academic Transformation Professor of National Security Bowie State University
There are at least three important points to emerge from the discussion considered in this article. First, it proposes and explains how the literature’s main debate about strategic culture and defense—whether it is immutable and never changing, thus, extremely important, or it is evolving and dynamic, thus, nearly impossible to evaluate and work with—might just be a false flag operation.
Second, the argument here literally inverts the causal “blame process” when it comes to the relationship between strategic culture and defense. Up to now, the literature is dominated by figuring out how defense is either doing a good job interpreting culture or, instead, is doing a poor job and needs to do better. Regardless of where one falls in this debate, one thing is constant: the causal flow starts with the U.S. defense establishment and moves over to strategic culture.
Lastly, the above revelations could be importantly unique to the American scene. As was briefly touched upon in the article, it does not seem like other countries have the same “dominance” philosophy when it comes to acting on their own strategic cultures. Consequently, it seems as if most countries make strategic culture decisions from concerns about their vulnerability and/or survival, rather than from demands about maintaining hegemony over the global system. This demand, however, is the foundation from which American strategic culture decisions are built, throughout both time and space, going back decades
Unique to this analysis was making explicit the relationship between these above-mentioned operational, reputational, and logistical problems faced by the U.S. defense community and how the permanent philosophical principles of American strategic culture exacerbate them. The intractability of those principles pushes particular initiatives forward while shoving alternative ones to the back shelf. Until decision-makers and strategic leaders begin to allow a flexibility in their thinking on American SC core principles, the United States will continue to draw itself into conflict dilemmas of its own devising and/or make problems worse instead of better.
In general, the prosperity gospel (PG) has been called the “health and wealth” gospel, wherein spiritual leaders believe that the position, behavior, values, and interests of their congregation result in them attaining a singularly unique advantage. Most importantly, there is a direct correlation between “giving more” and “getting more.” In religious scholarship, this supposed gospel has been intensely attacked as being a literal inversion or perversion of Christian theological faith and teachings. At the very least, the concern is that the philosophical underpinning of the prosperity gospel leads to physical behavior here on earth that will compromise believers and make their lives worse, not better, in terms of their eternal souls.
This article shows a strange alignment between the prosperity gospel and American strategic culture, with the congregation in the crosshairs being the United States defense community. It takes the controversial position that failure to recognize this alignment (and the difficult stresses it places on the defense community overall) means the existing literature that examines the relationship between American strategic culture and defense has been asking the wrong questions. Up to now, the main question raised was whether or not the U.S. defense is getting better at incorporating a cultural component or is there an inability to appropriately evolve and properly understand and address culture within its spheres of influence? This thinking actually inverts what should be the focus in question: it should not be about figuring out how well the U.S. defense establishment appreciates and follows American strategic culture. Rather, it is more critical to consider how certain “constant” philosophical underpinnings within American strategic culture might actually hamper and compromise the position and abilities of U.S. defense. “Constant” is defined by the indication that certain principles remain whether discussing a strategic culture that is static or dynamic, concretized or fluid. This article’s core original premise - that American strategic culture has for decades ostensibly operated as a form of national security prosperity gospel, creating more problems than it solves for U.S. defense in the 21st century—should mark a new path for debate and discussion when it comes to strategic culture and defense overall.
There are five key problems dissected within the article and juxtaposed against how they are usually under-emphasized within the general field of strategic culture. These five problems were adapted from a theological critique commonly made against the prosperity gospel, showing conclusively how easily aligned the two areas are. This analytical connection has never been made before. It is fascinating to note how these problems that align to PG have traditionally been used to show the negative impact of PG on its main audience. However, and most critically, the alignment of these problems to strategic culture has not been seen as detrimental at all. Rather, they represent permanent aspects of American strategic culture that are usually lauded as justified and bringing about best-case scenarios. This analysis, however, reveals that instead of being positive, these aspects of American strategic culture produce deep-rooted problems that often force U.S. defense into awkward positions that work against its highest efficiency and success. Consequently, it is more pertinent to ask questions about how strategic culture might be altered to better work with U.S. defense, rather than always asking how U.S. defense can better acclimate to and evolve itself with American strategic culture.
Problem 1: American SCPG (strategic culture prosperity gospel) means the United States is entitled to and justified in accumulating defense resources far beyond any other country.
In the prosperity gospel, this problem emerges from the idea that it is not just allowed for followers of the faith to accumulate as much material wealth as possible (without fear that it will result in a detrimental effect on their eternal souls), but that the actual position of wealth and security for said followers will in turn produce its own exponential increase in further wealth and success. In other words, the more you have, the more you should pursue, the more you will get, the more “blessed” you become. In SCPG, the obvious connection is in the well-maintained strategic practice of the United States far outpacing all other countries in terms of investment in defense and national security, research and development in technology, armaments, and systems, and in the accumulation of military assets with the capacity to wage deadly war. While some liberal groups have always highlighted the incredulous statistics showing how the accumulated resources of the United States tend to outpace the next seven major military powers combined, this criticism has not resulted in the trend slowing down for seven consecutive decades. In fact, empirical reality recently tends to show the exact reverse: in two major periods (the end of the Cold War and the officially declared end of the Global War on Terror), the U.S. did not see a decrease in defense spending/accumulation or even a plateau effect. Rather, in the immediate aftermath of these “great peace dividends,” American defense assets accumulation exponentially increased.
What powered this trend? In short, American strategic culture, which has always pushed the idea that if proper might makes right, then consequently more might only makes the US more right, i.e., more secure and dominant. The simple reality is that it has been nearly two centuries since the United States faced a rival with a larger gross national product. Additionally, over time, America has come to rely almost exclusively on the concepts of material superiority, firepower, and overwhelming massive force.  So what was perhaps historically an operational priority built upon fear and a sense of insecurity, evolved and grew into a core philosophical principle underpinning the entire strategic culture of American national security. While some have intermittently criticized this by claiming it made America everything from anti-intellectual, a-strategic, anti-historical, and ethnocentric, this criticism deemphasized what was arguably the biggest consequence: the need to be overwhelmingly dominant transformed American security into a zero-sum game against all other countries. In other words, the more America sought to make itself defense superior in every technological, military, personnel, and R&D way, the less secure everyone else around the globe had to feel by default.
Perhaps worse, an environment of moral superiority simultaneously developed within American strategic culture as it pushed to justify and rationalize the need to maintain such overwhelming dominance. As the rhetoric went (and still goes to this day): since American interests are de facto global interests, and since America stands not just for American principles but universal principles of justice and righteousness, then no other country has the right to feel threatened by American military dominance. Perhaps not so incredulously, some astute figures within American defense (Michael Hayden, one of the country’s most accomplished and highly decorated intelligence/national security chiefs comes most readily to mind) finally started decrying the negative impact this push had on actual defense initiatives and responsibilities. Namely, he noticed how often problems at the global level never seemed to be adequately resolved by throwing even more American physical resources at it. Rather, what American defense needed more than anything else was the ability to deftly understand and work with the mindset of rivals. In other words, it had to start properly understanding the strategic cultures of others and their national interests rather than just expecting everyone to love and accept the American ones . And no matter how much strategic culture literature has tried to examine itself over decades, what has not been given enough focus is how this justification within American SC has more often backfired on the American defense community than not.
Problem 2: American SCPG considers rivalry and competition a “sin” to be expunged from the system.
In PG, the “sin” decried is the sin of pride: prosperity gospel followers become quite entrenched with their own earthly success signifying the infallibility of their position. Thus, any other faiths or denominations offering a criticism or seeking to be a rival to their authority are deemed quite literally to be acting against the will of God. In SCPG, a similar sin of pride exists. Nothing illustrates it so well, and how this pride causes direct problems in the operational efficiency of the defense community, as when Bush basically defined GWOT as meaning “you are either with us or you are against us” and when there was severe pushback against China’s building of fake islands in the South China Sea.
While there are many different empirical examples that could be used to show how the Bush comment ultimately caused future problems for the defense community, it is the case of Russian President Vladimir Putin being the first world leader to empathetically call President Bush in the aftermath of 9/11 that exposes it most vividly. For Putin, 9/11 was a watershed moment for the Russian defense community as well, not just the American. Having spent the previous decade fighting a truly vicious internal war with Chechnya that was tinged with radical Islamism and horrific terrorist acts, Putin felt 9/11 would push the United States and Russian Federation towards each other, potentially forming the most formidable anti-terrorist alliance the world had ever seen. What he got instead when calling Bush was a polite thank you and rather curt “we’ll call you if we need you, but we don’t expect to need you.” Many defense experts in Russia considered this a critically important opportunity arrogantly dismissed by the United States and leading the way to the next two decades of strife, renewed tensions, and lamentations about the emergence of a Cold War 2.0. Ostensibly, American strategic culture was unwilling to receive sympathy, assistance, or aid. In fact, these kindly acts of empathy, if accepted, were interpreted as evidence of defense weakness, something American strategic culture could not tolerate. Philosophically speaking, America does not depend on others. Rather, the system is built upon all others depending on America. 
The World After the Hegemonyr
In the case of China, it is even more direct. Few people in America tend to know that most of the “security” for the South China Sea in previous decades was provided by United States naval destroyers. For obvious reasons, this reality has always unnerved China and made it feel less secure. While never being directly provoked, it was fairly clear to Chinese defense experts that the U.S. Navy was in the South China Sea to protect other local maritime nations from China. It took decades, of course, for China to reach the global power position it currently enjoys, legitimately feeling like a regional hegemon if not necessarily aspiring to be a global one. But as regional hegemon, it felt it had the right and even duty to be the “manager of security” in the South China Sea. Hence, the building of the fake islands as defense stations for its own maritime forces and naval capabilities. American pushback against this development, at least to the Chinese, is founded on nothing except the defiant confidence that U.S. supremacy in critical global regions should never be challenged, no matter the changing power narratives in any said region. This belief in American strategic culture exceptionalism has always drawn the U.S. into far more tensions and potential conflicts rather than helping them be avoided. Indeed, the real issue in forming this second problem is that American leaders have always been so wedded to the infallibility of the American defense supremacy dogma. 
However, the reality is that this “defense dogma” is a misnomer. It is in fact belief in the infallible American strategic culture, justifying what is often seen around the world as hubristic callousness that forms political arrogance and intensifies rivalries instead of properly deescalating them. Currently, there are no bigger rivals for America than the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China. In each case, there were opportunities to reduce these rivalries over the last twenty years. Time and again, those opportunities were deflected or outright rejected by the U.S. because the philosophical principles of its own strategic culture dictated that rivals were irrelevant except as foils to be dominated. Working with rivals or aiming to transform rivalry into something more beneficial to the global system was interpreted as a source of military weakness, rather than diplomatic strength. The stresses this has placed on the U.S. defense community are immeasurable.
Problem 3: Assistance provided through American SCPG creates an ordained international leadership over allies.
In PG, there is no explicit shunning of fellow worshipers or refusal to interact and engage with other denominations. However, the quality and equity of that interaction has been called into question, in that there is rarely a fair exchange of ideas, nor is there an expectation on the PG side that another group will have anything to bring that could possibly shake or alter the core precepts of the prosperity gospel. While arguably under-researched in comparison to the overconfidence America displays in its material and technological superiority, there has always been an undercurrent of dissatisfaction amongst American allies in terms of how the concept of “team” is defined. Indeed, within strategic culture literature, the more common dissection has been on how an arrogant deprecation of opponents has sometimes led the U.S. into a more complex conflict geometry; for example, during the Cold War and American tended to view the Soviet Union as an unsophisticated nation of peasants wholly incapable of challenging the righteous dominance of the United States . This has usually led to analyses decrying a need for more respectful treatment of other strategic cultures, rather than introspection on the philosophy informing American SC.
Why this is important in American strategic culture is because there is a similar attitudinal problem coming from the United States toward all allies. At least part of the difficulty in sharing the leadership pie, as it were, comes as a natural result of earlier-mentioned comments about what some deem the American Way of War. Or, if one is uncomfortable with such grand phraseology, it still applies when reduced to a more practical examination of the underlying attitude that informs the development of America’s National Security Strategy (NSS). Without question, there is a tendency for grandiosity in expressing American ideals within its understanding of national security. This pushes U.S. leadership to believe it is simply impossible to allow others an equal standing within alliance structures: since the NSS in America is always, in its heart of hearts, aiming to rid the world of tyranny and allow freedom and liberty to prosper for all peoples, it is only natural and proper that the United States is the unquestioned alpha in a group of only symbolic equals. 
Again, just as within formal PG, this relationship status is not intended to be detrimental or derisive from the dominant group. The United States sincerely believes that its willingness to end up as a de facto “global police force,” its contribution of personnel and materiel that always dwarfs what other countries contribute, and its capability to provide the largest number of physical forces to conflicts all signify that it is naturally preordained as “leader one.” Consequently, any members within the alliance must follow lockstep with the priorities and strategic thinking of this one true alpha. The problem, of course, is that this alliance-oriented hierarchy of importance generates resentment amongst allies, reducing the number of actors even willing to participate in American coalitions. This too often results in cases where America ends up having to act alone in situations where the U.S. defense community could have benefited from more active partners. This was clearly evident on several different occasions throughout the Global War on Terror, when certain maneuvers within Iraq, Syria, and Libya all became more complicated and less successful because of alliance partners not willing to follow the American line and the U.S. just chose to go at it alone anyway.
Problem 4: The political values of American SCPG create a self-generated national security “force essence” that intrinsically leads to global security if U.S. hegemony is followed.
In PG, there is a self-fulfilling tautology that propels its own logic forward. In essence, the prosperity gospel succeeds because of God’s approval or God approves because the prosperity gospel succeeds. In short, it can never be wrong. In SCPG, there is an eerily similar tautology that doesn’t get nearly enough attention for the consequential difficulties it can create for defense: the United States has overwhelming material and technological defense dominance and thus receives global hegemony, but, at the same time, American global hegemony demands that the US have overwhelming material and technological defense dominance. Both statements chase their own tails but prove nothing. They are pushed by a tautology that is not falsifiable. And this is not the only tautology on this issue that creates defense complications for America: why is there U.S. global hegemony? Because of global security prosperity. Where does global security prosperity come from? From U.S. global hegemony.
Indeed, some have already written about hegemony being first and foremost a “normative predisposition guiding American internationalism.”  In more colloquial terms, it means America believes that what is good for itself is good for global society writ large. If you do not operate and align with the United States, then you are not maneuvering against a single country: you are literally moving against what is right for the world. Thus, when America proudly talks about underwriting global security, it does this through the mechanism that also delivers and reinforces its own global hegemony. American force leads to global security. Global security only exists because of American force. Those who oppose are not fighting America: they are fighting against globalized peace and prosperity. This explains why American narratives are always so disparaging against Chinese and Russian discussions about multipolarity: to them, working against unipolarity is positioning against American hegemony, but to the U.S. it is ultimately working against the best arrangement for the global system overall.
Clearly, this hegemonic justification fervor produces great strain on the US defense community and places it in adversarial positions by default when any nation or group dares to challenge the orthodoxy of American hegemony. Without doubt, there is great risk in creating a strategic culture that is infused with a philosophy that the international system is best safeguarded through a normative system governed by a single state. Aside from the fact that it can cause friction with international organizations and global governance structures that focus on the positive contributions of a multipolar approach, American strategic culture comes embedded with attitudinal aspects of judgment and condemnation for those who propose alternative thinking on addressing threats and promoting transnational norms.  In some ways the overall study of strategic culture is misfocused: instead of worrying about whether or not there can be more than one strategic culture within a single country or considering the “elasticity” of strategic culture when put in contact with challenging exogenous factors, it might be more relevant to ascertain the pressure effect on the U.S. defense community given the underlying philosophy of American strategic culture, especially as it equates to preordained U.S. success as the only global route to security.
Problem 5: Faith in the moral certitude of American SCPG means international diplomatic angles or objectives must flow from U.S. interpretations.
A New Western Cohesion and World Order
In PG, the expectation and pressure of followers to give more and more to the church is governed by yet another tautology: in short, one gives because PG is successful; PG is successful because one gives. Of course, giving more produces more success. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that does not brook dissent and cannot tolerate alternative modes of behavior. In SCPG, this same faith in its own moral certitude creates behavior backed by intense diplomatic pressure that can ultimately morph into elevated conflicts demanding greater defense participation. The inability to consider or give credence to the interpretations of other countries causes U.S. interpretations to often be rigid and inflexible. That inflexibility often results in other countries (especially ones not allied with the United States) feeling desperately backed into a corner, thereby needing strategies to counter America and its national interests (note these countries do not agree that American national interests automatically equate to universal ones).
For example, Pakistan developed tactical nuclear weapons in response to India’s Cold Start program, which literally allowed India to quickly mobilize massive troop amounts to the Pakistani border in case of “need.”  In this case, America being aligned with India resulted in it completely supporting the original Indian maneuver and utterly rejecting the legitimacy of Pakistan’s reaction. The dismissal of Pakistan’s fear (it was basically admitting it did not have the strategic capability to match India and so a non-nuclear reaction to Cold Start was an invitation to fight a traditional war that would likely result in a Pakistan defeat) was not based on objective analysis or rational assessment. Rather, it was wholly founded on the fact that American interest favored a region where India dominated Pakistan. The consequence of simply “picking the friend” and dismissing rival concerns has followed with a half-century of constant tension and belligerence, often embroiling American defense in dilemmas that could elevate to a regional nuclear confrontation.
In a second example, Iran was unwilling to give up its Ballistic Missile Program (BMP) and did not let it be included in a potential renewed JCPOA after the United States withdrew from the agreement.  Just as with Pakistan, Iran had ample evidence and numerous reasons to feel both vulnerable and exposed given its lack of capability in traditional kinetic warfare. It felt this way even during the original Iran-Iraq war (where huge support was given to Iraq by the U.S.) and then again two decades later during the Global War on Terror when it saw the U.S. force a transition on regimes it did not like in two countries that were literally to its left and right on the map (Afghanistan and Iraq). In Iranian strategic culture, the BMP was not based on a desire to be warmongering or an aim to wreak havoc in the immediate regional neighborhood. Rather, it was in effect a desperate initiative considered one of the few ways to get the respectful attention of the United States. The consequence of America pushing the narrative of Iran forever remaining in the “Axis of Evil” (even if the term isn’t formally used today, our diplomatic attitude declares it de facto) essentially creates a difficult chicken-and-egg question for U.S. defense: is America threatening Iran because it is a pariah state or is Iran a pariah state because of how America threatens Iran?
In a final example, one can select just about any issue emanating from Russia during the Putin presidency, but the current Ukrainian crisis is particularly prescient. In this case, American strategic culture pushes hard for the reemergence of the Cold War and the eternal interpretation of Russia being its mortal enemy. Evidence that could diplomatically work against this narrative is shoved aside and ignored. Since the special military operation began, the Russian military pulled back from Kiev and did not shell the city center (with all of its important cultural, historical, and religious places and artifacts) into oblivion. This restraint was utterly ignored in the West. Russian forces have, in a number of instances, taken control of and maintained several nuclear facilities, keeping them under stable operating conditions. This has been covered instead as a threat of Russia potentially and insanely creating “several Chernobyls” right on its own doorstep. Russia has openly acknowledged the massive importation of deadly American weapons into Ukraine for the express purpose of killing Russians. Instead of using that as a catalyst to enlarge the war directly to the US, Russia has continued to emphasize diplomatic overtures with the Americans and kept the physical conflict exclusively dyadic. Those overtures have been rejected and/or unacknowledged. There are numerous reports by groups like Amnesty International that corroborate evidence of Ukrainian units regularly “hiding in plain sight” (i.e., getting rid of all formal military uniforms and taking position in civilian centers, apartment buildings, and hospitals). This reality has been largely sidestepped in Western reporting, instead emphasizing how Russian military units are launching attacks against civilian areas and committing war crimes. Again, factual evidence that could open new dialogues while simultaneously curtailing violence is ignored.  Consequently, as of this writing, the Ukraine conflict has only intensified and much of the world worries of a true nuclear conflagration. What the world has not acknowledged, however, is how much that conflagration keeps with American strategic culture philosophy and indeed might currently be implicitly encouraged because of that philosophy.
The above five problems/principles highlight certain consistencies on a philosophical level within American strategic culture that have been largely unrecognized within literature and analytical debates. They are emphasized here because of the controversial argument that these philosophical principles are not just highly causal but constant: no matter how one interprets or analyzes American strategic culture overall, these principles seem to remain and act consistently in ways that detrimentally impact the U.S. defense community. What is left for the article is to consider what all of this should mean moving forward for both defense and the field of strategic culture.
There are at least three important points to emerge from the discussion considered in this article. First, it proposes and explains how the literature’s main debate about strategic culture and defense—whether it is immutable and never changing, thus, extremely important, or it is evolving and dynamic, thus, nearly impossible to evaluate and work with—might just be a false flag operation. Since there is an ever-present philosophical core infusing both interpretations, it does not really matter whether it is concretized or fluid, static or dynamic. In terms of impacting the U.S. defense establishment, the reality is that philosophical infusion is detrimental and significant. The evolving or non-evolving status of strategic culture is not as causally important in comparison.
Hoffman is one of the main scholarly voices that has always argued against what he considers an overly rigid view of American strategic culture. The power of his argument rests on the idea that if American SC really was that rigid, then strategists would not concern themselves with studying the nature of government, values, experiences, geography, or technological focus of a potential adversary.  Since Hoffman knows this to not be true, he feels confident in dismissing the rigidity argument of American SC. Those who belong to the Hoffman school, for lack of a better term, might be inclined to consider this article’s argument also overly rigid. But this would be missing an important subtlety that has largely not been considered across the literature overall: the eternal principles underlying American SC do not translate into the approaches or strategies used by the United States being inevitably rigid. Rather, this analysis has shown that while strategies and initiatives conducted over time have been highly diverse and not concretized in only one direction, the principles that govern the thinking of chief agents were in fact highly consistent and constantly honored. Thus, the problem that fine scholars like Hoffman have missed is that U.S. strategists can strive to sincerely account for different cultures and aspects of another country when devising strategy, but that effort is compromised by the fact their thinking about what America must be beholden to principally is philosophically constrained. The important result, of course, being the United States is missing real opportunities to resolve conflict situations because this improvement would only come by going against the eternal principles of its strategic culture; this is simply not done.
USA Versus USA: Why American Business Also Loses from Sanctions
Second, the argument here literally inverts the causal “blame process” when it comes to the relationship between strategic culture and defense. Up to now, the literature is dominated by figuring out how defense is either doing a good job interpreting culture or, instead, is doing a poor job and needs to do better. Regardless of where one falls in this debate, one thing is constant: the causal flow starts with the U.S. defense establishment and moves over to strategic culture. In other words, whether explicit or implicit, most of the literature right now looks to how well (or not) defense does. Culture is the object and defense is the agent. What this article argues for is a reversal of that process. Even though the idea of culture impacting defense has been present since the very beginning, with the godfather of strategic culture Jack Snyder, this is arguably the first attempt to make the underlying philosophical principles of strategic culture the actor of agency and defense capabilities as the objects being negatively impacted. In addition, when approaches emphasized cultural causality in the past, the results were usually value-neutral, neither negative nor positive. This article shows how when it comes to examining the impact of American strategic culture, it might be time to liberate the field from this value-neutral orthodoxy. Strategic culture does exist; its core causal existence is through the chief philosophical principles that constrain leading actors in a manner that pushes U.S. defense into awkward positions, compromising its ability to make more efficient, novel, and even common sensical decisions.
One of the more known critics of strategic culture writ large, A.J. Echevarria, comes close to what is being argued here but ultimately misses the biggest aspect. While he argued that real historical evidence showed there was a serious and important gap between what the United States says it will do versus what it actually does in practice (something this article does not argue against), this led him to conclude that the field of strategic culture overall is in disarray because it is too self-defining and lacks any conceptual foundation upon which to build knowledge.  This last conclusion is a misfire because it is first overly focused on how the scholars themselves are utilizing strategic culture academically beforehand and then on how the U.S. applies it practically afterward, exposing flaws in both processes. What is missed is that American strategic culture does in fact have a foundational conceptualization, but it is not in scholarly argumentation or routines of application. Rather, it is built within the philosophical principles examined herein. Those principles do not change regardless of how scholars have tried to self-define SC and they are not ignored when the U.S. attempts to enact initiatives with SC in mind. This is important because it overrules Echevarria’s conclusion that strategic culture is not the silver bullet its proponents want it to be: he proclaims that whatever American strategic culture is, was, or might be, it is too elusive to pin down.  This article has in fact pinned it down. The elusiveness of American strategic culture was through no fault of its own and instead caused by those trying to examine it. Whether or not it is a silver bullet of total explanation is not the focus of this analysis and is better left debated by others. However, there is no doubt the analysis presented here offers a more encompassing and comprehensive causal explanation of the relationship between American strategic culture and defense action over time and across space.
Lastly, the above revelations could be importantly unique to the American scene. As was briefly touched upon in the article, it does not seem like other countries have the same “dominance” philosophy when it comes to acting on their own strategic cultures. Consequently, it seems as if most countries make strategic culture decisions from concerns about their vulnerability and/or survival, rather than from demands about maintaining hegemony over the global system. This demand, however, is the foundation from which American strategic culture decisions are built, throughout both time and space, going back decades (at least since the end of WWII). Unfortunately, that need to always envision the U.S. as global leader and anointed hegemon consistently complicates defense goals and puts tremendous pressure on the overall U.S. defense establishment. Some of these pressures have been documented by others and, indeed, the list is quite daunting:
- Deploy somewhere they perhaps have never been
- Fight an adversary they have never fought
- Use weapons and equipment that might have never been used in combat
- Operate on the basis of incomplete, untimely, and perhaps incorrect information
- Pursue sometimes vague, conflicting, or incomprehensible objectives
- Absorb minimum casualties from an adversary that might fight in unconventional, unanticipated, or illegitimate ways; or that may employ nuclear, chemical, biological, or radiological weapons
- Achieve their objectives quickly
- Cause minimal destruction to property and the environment and minimal casualties to noncombatants; provide assistance to injured combatants and noncombatants; and be prepared to restore that which has been damaged
- Trigger no (or only benign) unintended consequences 
Unique to this analysis was making explicit the relationship between these above-mentioned operational, reputational, and logistical problems faced by the U.S. defense community and how the permanent philosophical principles of American strategic culture exacerbate them. The intractability of those principles pushes particular initiatives forward while shoving alternative ones to the back shelf. Until decisionmakers and strategic leaders begin to allow a flexibility in their thinking on American SC core principles, the United States will continue to draw itself into conflict dilemmas of its own devising and/or make problems worse instead of better. This may not affect America’s ability to remain the global hegemon, but it already negatively affects the organization responsible for walking the talk (defense). This may make America the hegemon countries like China and Russia complain about, rather than being the force for hegemonic good that it enjoys marketing to the world.
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