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Northeast Asia--Cultural Influences on the U.S. National Security Strategy

Authored by Mr. Larry B. Rogers. | June 2004

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The U.S. core interests and National Security Strategy are founded on Western cultural operatives that assume all nation-states will respond to its influences in a predictable manner. When states do not respond appropriately, we assume they are either recalcitrant or irrational. A decade ago, this approach towards the states of the Northeast Asia region was highly effective as their economic or military dependency upon us, or their fear of both, usually forced them to respond within the scope of our objectives. Today, we no longer have the preponderance of economic or military power in the region, and old tactics will not continue to work effectively. Even within those states considered our allies, tolerance of what is deemed an abrasive U.S. presence is decreasing while anti-Americanism is growing. To continue to maneuver successfully to attain and sustain our interests requires that we carefully consider the perspectives, biases, and influences of these cultures to devise strategies that provide the most effective application of our elements of national power. This paper will discuss the Northeast Asian regional cultures, our current security strategy in regards to them, and recommendations for addressing regional cultural influences to meet our objectives and protect our interests.


Our strategies in dealing with the cultures of Northeast Asia must include a consideration of the differences in how they think, view the world, and view themselves. Failing to consider these differences is similar to ignoring battlefield intelligence prior to conducting combat operations; we go in blind. Without assessing the psychology and behavior of people from the NEA region, we have only the patterns of Western psychology and behavior to rely upon. As this paper has pointed out, this will not result in a successful strategy. The cultural operatives resident in the NEA region are well-known after years of study along with insights into their cultures and strategies for successfully interacting with them. Given the growth of the cultures of the NEA and their importance to both regional and world stability, it is imperative that we employ and integrate as much knowledge of their cultural operatives into the development and implementation of our NSS as possible. It is apparent that the PRC has done this for quite some time. After all, they and the other cultures of the NEA have joined our ?western? world order and have proven that they know how to operate within it as well as influence it. Their study of our cultural operatives appears to be far better than ours has been. Lastly, in dealing with these hierarchal and ancient cultures, we should be careful in how we couch our national interests so that we are not hobbled before we even begin to develop and implement our subsequent strategies. Our values and system of governance should be promoted, but proclaiming our intent beforehand only incites these ancient cultures to resist all of our advances and influences as a survival reflex. Thus, we are failing before we even begin.