Cultural Dimensions of Strategy and Policy

  • May 01, 2009
  • COL Jiyul Kim

There has been a growing recognition in the post-Cold War era that culture has increasingly become a factor in determining the course of today’s complex and interconnected world. The U.S. experience in Afghanistan and Iraq extended this trend to national security and military operations. There is also a growing recognition by the national security community that culture is an important factor at the policy and strategy levels. Cultural proficiency at the policy and strategic levels means the ability to consider history, values, ideology, politics, religion, and other cultural dimensions and assess their potential effect on policy and strategy. The Analytical Cultural Framework for Strategy and Policy (ACFSP) is one systematic and analytical approach to the vital task of viewing the world through many lenses. The ACFSP identifies basic cultural dimensions that seem to be of fundamental importance in determining such behavior and thus are of importance in policy and strategy formulation and outcomes. These dimensions are (1) Identity, or the basis for defining identity and its linkage to interests; (2) Political Culture, or the structure of power and decisionmaking; and (3) Resilience, or the capacity or ability to resist, adapt or succumb to external forces. Identity is the most important, because it ultimately determines purpose, values and interests that form the foundation for policy and strategy to attain or preserve those interests.