Dima Adamsky, The Culture of Military Innovation: The Impact of Cultural Factors on the Revolution in Military Affairs in Russia, the US, and Israel

David W. Kearn, Jr.
Content Type
Journal Article
Political Science Quarterly
Issue Number
Publication Date
Winter 2010-2011
Academy of Political Science
No abstract is available.
Military Strategy
Political Geography
Russia, United States, Israel
POLITICAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY Volume 125 • Number 4 • Winter 2010-11 No part of this article may be copied, downloaded, stored, further transmitted, transferred, distributed, altered, or otherwise used, in any form or by any means, except: .. one stored electronic and one paper copy of any article solely for your personal, noncommercial use, or .. with prior written permission of The Academy of Political Science. Political Science Quarterly is published by The Academy of Political Science. Contact the Academy for further permission regarding the use of this work. Political Science Quarterly Copyright © 2010 by The Academy of Political Science. All rights reserved. The Academy of Political Science 475 Riverside Drive • Suite 1274 • New York, New York 10115-1274 (212) 870-2500 • FAX: (212) 870-2202 • aps@psqonline.org • http://www.psqonline.org still compellingly lay out the ways that gender mattered, including how it continually affected Clinton's campaign strategy and media coverage. The authors also successfully identify how the masculinity associated with the U.S. presidency provided challenges for Clinton, challenges that any female aspirant to the White House would probably face. The first two chapters of the book lay the groundwork for the analysis by establishing the theoretical framework for studying the interplay of the news media, gender, and Hillary Clinton. After providing a history of women who have run for president, the authors use the three central chapters of the book to apply a gendered analysis to all of the critical developments that occurred in the battle for the nomination. The two final substantive chapters present the results of an original content analysis of leading newspapers and network news broadcasts. The results are interesting, but not surprising. Clinton generally received less and more-negative coverage than did Barack Obama, though many of the expectations regarding gendered coverage revolving around family, appearance, and substance did not materialize. One omission from the book is the lack of any detailed attention to voter responses. The book would have benefited from an examination of some of the gender gaps in voting patterns that emerged in many of the primaries. Presenting some specific results from primaries in response to some of the gendered campaign tactics could have highlighted how the gender dynamics of the campaign played out. Ultimately, the strength of this book lies in its thoughtful and balanced discussion of the role that gender played in the 2008 presidential campaign; the authors draw careful conclusions about how gender affected the overall outcome. In this regard, those hoping for an answer to the question of whether Clinton lost because she was a woman might be a little disappointed. Regardless, Lawrence and Rose offer an excellent first look at the historic role of the Clinton campaign, and this book will probably become a benchmark model of research for scholars who examine women who seek the U.S. presidency. RICHARD L. FOX Loyola Marymount University The Culture of Military Innovation: The Impact of Cultural Factors on the Revolution in Military Affairs in Russia, the US, and Israel by Dima Adamsky. Palo Alto, CA, Stanford University Press, 2010. 248 pp. Paper, $23.95. How does a nation's strategic culture affect its ability to exploit revolutionary changes in technology that fundamentally alter the nature of warfare? In The Culture of Military Innovation, Dima Adamsky investigates the impact of the strategic cultures of the Soviet Union, the United States, and Israel to explain the different paths followed by each state toward the realization and BOOK REVIEWS | 713 implementation of the information technology revolution in military affairs (IT-RMA). The comparative cultural analysis is comprehensive, thoughtful, and interesting, and the book should be well-received and appreciated by academics and practitioners alike. Emerging from technological innovations in the 1970s, the IT-RMA constituted a fundamental and dramatic shift in the nature of warfare, effectively rendering existing approaches obsolete. However, the achievement of an RMA by the military of any given state requires the development of new concepts of operation, tactics, and organizations to maximize the potential capabilities offered by technological change. Thus, a revolutionary transformation requires a major intellectual shift to successfully exploit technological developments. Adamsky focuses on the concept of strategic culture to explain the divergent experiences of three nations in this crucial intellectual pursuit. Assessing such cultural factors as social structure, communication style, and time orientation, Adamsky describes and explains the cognitive style of each nation, which “constitutes an individual's preferred collection of strategies to perceive, organize, and process information” (p. 18). This “way of thinking” about war can be considered on a continuum, with holistic thought and logical-analytical at opposite poles. The counterintuitive result of the study is that the collectivist, holistic Soviet cognitive style was more effective in understanding the transformation at hand and in making the necessary intellectual shift to construct and implement critical reforms. Individualistic, problem-solving styles of the U.S. and Israeli militaries proved less effective in this intellectual process despite developing, deploying, and (in the Israeli case), using these technologies in combat. Adamsky's analysis is impressive and persuasive. The empirical chapters are rich and deep, but also concise, clear, and accessible. From a theoretical perspective, the book is an excellent example of cultural analysis. Nonetheless, as the author acknowledges (p. 10), a real limitation of this approach concerns the issue of causality. Does culture cause the way actors think and behave or does it provide context that may facilitate or constrain the choices facing actors, leaving some degree of contingency? If the norms of a given culture are powerful and internalized by individuals, we would expect little change over time. What seems crucial is the relationship between culture and bureaucracy. The notion that certain enlightened individuals must acquire bureaucratic power to effectuate change seems to emphasize the importance of bureaucratic structures as much as it does ideational factors. Thus, The Culture of Military Innovation seems to make a strong case for the importance of institutional design and bureaucratic politics in fostering and perpetuating an innovative intellectual environment within military organizations. Adamsky argues that the powerful Soviet general staff prioritized and succeeded in fostering an innovative culture.With the U.S. Joint Chiefs relegated to budgetary duties, a small actor, the Office of Net Assessment, essentially dragged the larger U.S. military establishment to acknowledge the RMA. The less formally structured Israel 714 | POLITICAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY Defense Forces was left to create, in a fairly ad hoc manner, the capacity to address the RMA, often following U.S. examples. It is reasonable to argue that a nation's culture will influence the development of its bureaucratic structures. It is also fair to say that those structures will significantly shape the subsequent culture of groups and individuals, presenting them with powerful de facto constraints and pathways, leaving the relative explanatory power of strategic culture much less clear. DAVID W. KEARN, JR. St. John's University The International Politics of Intelligence Sharing by James Igoe Walsh. New York, Columbia University Press, 2009. 208 pp. $40.00. Books about intelligence tend to fall into three categories. First are works by journalists, who tend to highlight failure, scandal, or corruption. The second category consists of tell-all books by former practitioners, who cannot “tell all” because of security restrictions; these books are interesting but lack depth. The third category, spy fiction, is how the public tends to be informed about intelligence, entertaining but hardly accurate. James Igoe Walsh of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte has taken an entirely different and welcome approach. He has used elements of social science theory to explain how nations share intelligence, and his effort makes fascinating reading. Scholars who study the intelligence process have long sought the development of intelligence theory as a way of creating a more-systematic exploration of security service operations. Intelligence services almost always face restrictions because of budgetary constraints, a lack of personnel skill sets, and limits on the ground they can cover. Therefore, they need to reach out to the services of other nations to assist them in collecting and analyzing intelligence data, or carrying out special operations.Walsh, using a series of case studies, has set out to explain the theory behind intelligence sharing and how it has played out in practice. His main theme is that intelligence sharing is governed by relational contracting, so that larger states, with dominant intelligence services, seek to establish hierarchy over the services of equal or lesser states, to include controls, funding, and training, thus laying the groundwork for sharing. His theory also explains why, in some cases, a lack of hierarchy reduces the likelihood of sharing, especially in regard to sensitive or closely held intelligence data. He posits that dominating intelligence services worry that their partners may “defect” or renege on agreements. This use of the term “defect” is confusing, because defecting in the intelligence world means to turn traitor and give oneself up to an adversary. Nonetheless, reneging on agreements, or more likely, refusing to share intelligence, is a constant headache in relations between intelligence services. Walsh has chosen an interesting mix of case studies to illustrate his hypothesis. These range from close and co-equal partnerships, such as the long-standing BOOK REVIEWS | 715