World culture and military power

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88 Citations (Scopus)


World culture shapes the way states generate military power: norms of conventional warfare provide the template for military organization, and norms of humanitarian law define what is morally acceptable in military operations. Sometimes, however, local strategic circumstances can challenge these worldwide technical scripts and moral codes for military action. Accordingly, this article advances an approach-cultural adaptation theory -that accounts for the role of power and politics in the worldwide normative structuring of military action. This theory explains how actors may modify their military practices in response to rising threats, in ways that avoid norm violation. Two case studies explore this theory: Irish military organization in the lead up to the Second World War, and NAO air operations in the Kosovo war. Some tentative conclusions are reached regarding suboptimal organization by weak states and operational restraint by powerful states. Overall, the article advances the case for dialogue between constructivist and rationalist approaches to security studies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448 - 488
Number of pages41
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005


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