Culture Versus Structure in Post-9-11 Security Studies; Strategic Insights: v.4, issue 10 (October 2005)
Desch, Michael A.
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Cultural theories have long enjoyed a prominent place in the field of international security. Indeed, two waves have come and gone since the start of World War II, and we are now at the high water mark of a third. The terrorist attacks of September 11th in the United States, the July 2005 London Underground attacks, and the numerous suicide bombings in the Occupied Territories and Iraq have led to renewed interest in the role Islamic culture may be playing in the increasingly frequent use of this tactic and expectations for a quick end to the war in Iraq were the result of misunderstandings about Arab strategic culture. Todays culturalists in national security studies are a heterogeneous lot, as they bring a variety of different theories to the table. But virtually all new culturalists in security studies are united in their belief that realism, the dominant research program in international relations which emphasizes factors such as the material balance of power, is an overrated, if not bankrupt, body of theory, and that cultural theories, which look to ideational factors, do a much better job of explaining how the world works.
This article appeared in Strategic Insights (October 2005), v.4 no.10