Integrating Strategic Culture and the Operational Code in Foreign Policy Analysis

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Foreign Policy Analysis


This article contributes to theoretical integration in foreign policy analysis, by integrating two explanatory concepts that have mainly been used separately, namely the strategic culture of elites and the operational code of individual decision-makers. The explanatory power of using both concepts is illustrated in a case study of Australian foreign policy regarding the multinational coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The main argument is that strategic culture can provide a reasonable explanation for Australia's overall military engagement in the coalition. However, to explain Australia's approach to the coalition, strategic culture must be complemented with the operational code. The article suggests that the character of strategic culture can influence the opportunities for decision-makers to have an individual impact on foreign policy.

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