Back to top

Knowledge Base

Embracing Strategic Empathy

Terms You May Have Heard

Asymmetric Warfare: War between two adversaries who possess vastly different military power, strategy, or tactics.

Authoritarianism: The denial of personal freedom in favor of strict obedience to an authority.

Berlin Wall: A concrete wall that divided the city of Berlin from 1961 to 1989. The wall represented not only a physical divide between the two cities, but also an ideological divide. West Berlin embraced free markets while East Germany adopted socialism. Learn more about the effects of this divide here.

Cold War: An intense rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union that lasted from 1945 to 1989. During this period, the United States sought to spread liberal democracy to emerging nations while the Soviet Union sought to promote communism. Though the US and the Soviet Union never participated in open warfare during this time, the conflict spurred fierce competition between the nations and an ongoing threat of nuclear war.

Full Spectrum Dominance: A military achievement that signifies control in all areas of a battlespace. In order to achieve full spectrum dominance a military must control land, air, maritime, space, and cyber, among others.

Gulf War: A war in the Middle East between Iraq and a US led military coalition over the sovereignty of Kuwait. Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait served as a catalyst for the Gulf War in 1990. The war ended when the Iraqi military was defeated in 1991.

Iron Curtain: A barrier that separated the communist Soviet bloc from Western Europe and its allies. The barrier began at end of World War II in 1945 and ultimately fell after the Cold War in 1991. Though the Iron Curtain was mostly a political barrier, the Berlin Wall stood as a physical representation of Soviet efforts to isolate itself from open communication or contact with the West. 

Liberal Democracy: a form of representative democracy with free and fair elections, characterized by a competitive political process. All adult citizens are given the right to vote regardless of race, gender, or property ownership. A liberal democracy may take various constitutional forms such as constitutional republic, a federal republic, a constitutional monarchy, a presidential system, a parliamentary system, or a hybrid semi-presidential system. For example, countries such as the United States, India, Germany, and Brazil each take the form of a constitutional republic.

Saddam Hussein: Saddam Hussein was a dictatorial Iraqi president from 1979- 2003. His brutal rule sparked significant military conflicts with both Iran and the United States, including the Gulf War.

Strategic Empathy: An understanding that ideology, emotions, and aspirations drive and constrain the actions of other countries. 

Strategic Narcissism: The tendency to define problems as we would like them to be and only in relation to ourselves. Strategic narcissism assumes that others have no aspirations or agency except in reaction to U.S. policies and actions. It leads a country to pursue strategies that are based on what it prefers to do rather than what the situation demands.