With the end of the Cold War in 1991, the international community encountered changing relations and strategic employment between state-actors. As intellectuals around the world identified this shifting landscape, scholarly interest re-surfaced asserting “that culture can affect significantly grand strategy and state behavior.”1 To this end, multiple models abound illustrating different factors and their impacts on basic, political, and strategic culture. Utilizing the Air Force Culture and Language Center’s (AFCLC) model of 12 cultural domains, a brief analysis of the domain of history seeks to explain the relationship between a state-actor’s history and its strategic culture. Specifically, history influences strategic culture through the shaping of state identity and influence on the national perceptive lenses. Before the analysis begins, one needs to define culture as used herein.
As illustrated in lectures at Air Command and Staff College (ACSC), culture can be viewed as a pyramid consisting of three divisions: core, political, and strategic culture.2 Core culture “shapes and influences certain behaviors and also serves to rationalize those behaviors.”3 Core culture forms the base of the pyramid, thereby illustrating the strength of this level as the foundation for the successive stages. The next echelon, political culture, consists of the “ ‘mind set’…that represents a disposition in favor of a range of alternatives”4 and forms the basis of the political institutions used in the governance of the country. Finally, strategic culture forms the tip of the pyramid and consists of the “beliefs, norms, attitudes about war-fighting and the proper employment of coercive power.”5 According to ACSC, four factors influence strategic culture: values, norms, identity and perceptive lenses.6 The effect of history on the identity and perceptive lenses comprise the basis of this brief discussion.
A nation’s history consists of a continuous methodical narrative of the past relative to its people and country. These past events provide a common experience from which the people and leaders derive commonality with each other. History also serves to enhance an identity that “develops the state’s view of itself, comprises the traits of its national character, its intended regional and global roles, and its perceptions of its eventual destiny.”7 The Russian Federation provides an example for analyzing the impact of historical events on strategic culture.
The fall of the Ottoman empire gave birth to Russian exceptionalism and identity as Moscow began to see itself as an imperialistic “third Rome”.8 However, one can argue the most important historical impact resides in the era of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). As the largest of those republics, Russia played a primary role in the rapid industrialization of the union and the victory in WWII; thereby, transforming the USSR from a regional power to a revolutionary-imperial state.9 This mindset...