Published in 1988, Colin Gray’s The Geopolitics of Super Power examines the cultural and political dimensions of late Cold War era American geostrategy. Context, as well as comparison guide Gray’s analytical framework – which synthesizes geography and history. According to Gray, political geography catalyzes a vital feature of national strategic culture.
“It is commonplace to observe that dictatorships maintain systemic political strength only in the context of a public aura of success; that is, given that it is the lot of all governments to receive and be responsible for both good and bad news, a dictatorship dares not admit that it has failed.
“The roots of American strategic culture lie in a frontier tradition, an experience and expectation of success in national endeavors, experience with an abundance of resources for defense, a dominant political philosophy of liberal idealism, and a sense of separateness – moral and geostrategic – from the evil doings of the Old World.
“But statecraft is at least as much a matter of discovering and exploiting effective ‘work-arounds’ for national weaknesses and vulnerabilities as it is of exploiting national strengths. Substantially, though not exclusively, the effectiveness of a particular security community in defense of its interests is a function of the quality of strategic guidance provided for sustained collective action.
“Strategic culture – the socially transmitted attitudes, habits, and skills of a community in its approach to issues of national security – is very much the product of geopolitical factors as they are locally interpreted.
“Technical fixes in defense organization, and even changes in military tactics and at the operational level of war, will be unlikely to have the desired effects if they affront important strands in American culture.
*All excerpts have been taken from The Geopolitics of Super Power, The University Press of Kentucky.
American Strategic Culture – Colin S. Gray