Grand Strategy, Culture, and Strategic Choice: A Review

David S. McDonough


The Canadian debate on security matters has rarely been discussed in terms of either grand strategy or strategic culture. But it would be imprudent to prematurely discard such concepts, which if more fully incorporated into Canada’s own scholarly debate could potentially generate some useful dialogue with wider strategic studies literature. To better clarify these concepts, this review essay will provide an overview on both grand strategy and the explanations for strategic behaviour, with a particular emphasis on international relations theory and strategic culture. As it concludes, grand strategy offers a promising description not only for how a great power approaches strategic affairs, but also potentially for that of a middle power like Canada. And an explanation rooted in strategic culture, despite some lingering conceptual and methodological issues, still provides a good starting point to understanding the sources of grand strategy.  

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.