Strategic Culture and Violent Non-State Actors: Weapons of Mass Destruction and Asymmetrical Operations Concepts and Cases   [open pdf - 2MB]

"In this Occasional Paper, Jim Smith lays out a conceptual basis and a series of templates for guiding analysis of culture and violent non-state actors. These templates focus on analysis of WMD acquisition and use, and on culturally driven operational campaigns. While the two follow on case studies did not specifically apply those templates, they proceeded from the same conceptual foundation, and they are certainly compatible with the intent of Smith's guidelines. Mark Long applies cultural analysis of radical Islam and al-Qaida in discussing the many factors and influences involved in the core al-Qaida group's WMD decisions. His work graphically demonstrates the complexity of such decisions for that core group, and suggests that what many may find as counter-intuitive caution plays a major role here. And Tom Johnson, in examining a tribal insurgent psychological campaign in Afghanistan, demonstrates that traditional beliefs, myths and stories, and behavioral influences can be manipulated for significant effect in countering our efforts to gain stability and legitimacy for the Afghan government. Together these papers underscore the central role of culture in analyzing and understanding non-state adversaries."

Report Number:
INSS Occasional Paper 64
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC): http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/
Media Type:
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