Fine-tuned change vs fundamental change 60 

In document From Guilt to Responsibility and Beyond? : Change in German Strategic Culture after the End of the Cold War (Page 72-74)

2.2. Existing accounts of strategic cultural change 52 

2.2.2. Fine-tuned change vs fundamental change 60 

Kerry Longhurst’s view on strategic culture and change differs from the above two in that it does not actually pay much attention to how strategic culture functions, or what the underlying mechanisms are, but rather focuses on pointing out the structured nature of strategic culture. She argues that strategic culture consists of multiple ‘layers’ of culture which incorporate the possibility of change and is worth quoting at length: “there are the deeper, basal, qualities that have their origins in the primordial or formative phases of a given strategic culture; these are here called foundational elements. Foundational elements comprise basic beliefs regarding the use of force that give a strategic culture its core characteristics. Importantly, foundational el- ements are highly resistant to change. Extending out of these foundational elements are the observable manifestations of the strategic culture: the longstanding policies and practices that actively relate and apply the sub- stance of the strategic culture’s core to the external environment, essentially by providing channels of meaning and application. These aspects of strategic culture – here called regulatory practices – are less resilient to change. Mid- way between the foundational elements and regulatory practices are the se- curity policy standpoints, the contemporary, widely accepted, interpretations as to how best core values are to be promoted through policy channels, in the sense that they set the preferences for policy choices.”167

Hence, the core of Longhurst’s argument is that the fundamental beliefs understood as the ‘deeper qualities’ or ‘foundational elements’ are much

166 See Neumann & Heikka 2005. 167 Longhurst 2004, p. 17

more resistant to change than longstanding regulatory policy practices. What this definition also implies is that if there is a stable, non-conflictual and con- sensual link between foundational elements and regulatory practices, there is no reason to expect any radical or fundamental change in strategic culture. This, in turn, translated to Meyer’s line of argumentation would mean that as long as particular norms, which can be understood as embodying the core of the foundational elements in a given strategic culture, i.e. the beliefs regard- ing the use of military force, offer not only morally but also practical and via- ble solutions in terms of security and defence policy, there is no reason to expect any radical or fundamental change in strategic culture. Yet as Long- hurst argues, ‘(t)he normal functioning relationship between foundational elements and regulatory practices may be disturbed if a certain policy prac- tice has become so ingrained that it can be a force for inertia, appearing as a lag or even an ill-suited policy to pursue.”168 This, in turn, implies that the

institutionalization and the taking for granted certain strategic practices can both serve as a force for inertia and as an impediment to change.

Longhurst’s view on strategic cultural change rests on the notion of ‘fine- tuned’ and ‘fundamental’ changes. She argues that “(f)undamental change of a strategic culture is a far less common phenomenon. It is more abrupt serve to reinforce memory. This means that subsequent generations, in nature, occurring when trauma is sufficiently severe as to nullify the existing strate- gic culture, giving rise to the establishment of new core beliefs, leading sub- sequently to new policies and practices. This fundamental change to or col- lapse of a strategic culture is best described as a situation of ‘collective infan- cy’. Related to this theme of change is the issue of policy inertia: even in the event of a foundational element being challenged, certain practices or poli- cies may resist change or adjustment.”169 Hence, what we could draw from

this line of argumentation is the notion that fine-tuned change or adaptation of policy practices occurs more frequently simply because policy practices deal with everyday politics that may require adaptation or streamlining of policy standpoints without a comprehensive overhaul of the underlying idea- tional fundaments of a strategic culture. Moreover, this also implies that the moment of ‘collective infancy’ can only take place if the existing ideational, normative and cognitive structure of a strategic culture is put under so much strain that it no longer provides a viable way of thinking about and pursuing security and defence policy. Therefore, a way out of this phase of infancy to- wards a strategic maturity takes place via novel strategic ideas, thoughts and norms as well as fresh regulatory practices.

However, it is imperative that a couple clarifications from the viewpoint of this study are made in terms of how we could utilize Longhurst’s stance ana- lytically. First, it is important to specify the distinctions between ‘a complete collapse’ of a strategic culture on one hand, and ‘collective infancy’ and ‘fun-

168 Ibid., p.18. 169 Ibid.

damental change’ on the other. Collapse of a strategic culture can be under- stood as a comprehensive strategic reset of the hitherto existing system of strategic beliefs and actions whereas fundamental change may refer to a change within these belief systems and result in new policies. However, whereas fundamental change need not imply a complete strategic reset, by definition strategic reset always necessitates fundamental change. Hence, if we are intent on using both ‘collapse’ and ‘fundamental change’ analytically as signifying qualitative differences within and between strategic cultures, then this distinction is necessary. Second, and regrettably, Longhurst spends little time on the question of change beyond the notion of fine-tuned change and fundamental change. Ultimately, her conception of change relies on an understanding of how the different layers, i.e. fundaments, policy stand- points and practices of strategic culture relate to one another. It also seems that beyond these layers there is not a lot of room to contemplate the under- lying social and political processes which bring about change (Meyer and Wilke would call these ‘mechanisms’). This can be derived from Longhurst’s clear distinction between fine-tuned change understood in terms of policy corrections, alterations or adaptations on one hand, and fundamental change in terms of either ‘collective infancy’ or new policies and practices on the oth- er hand. The problem here is that all of these notions refer to a concept of change that is knowledgeable only as an observable outcome. Third, and consequently, what remains unclear is the relationship between fine-tuned and fundamental change in terms of not how they differ but how they affect one another. For instance, the question of whether enough fine-tuning of regulatory strategic practices is enough to trigger a change on the more fun- damental level, is left open.

Overall, it would seem that Longhurst’s categorization of change under- stood qualitatively as either fine-tuned or fundamental change is analytically useful in a rather broad sense, because it gives a generic idea of the magni- tude of change(s) in question and where we might be able to observe them, but as I will argue later, it needs to be supplemented with Meyer’s arguments regarding the mechanisms of change. This enables us to contemplate on the question of change both in terms of outcomes as well as processes.

In document From Guilt to Responsibility and Beyond? : Change in German Strategic Culture after the End of the Cold War (Page 72-74)