“Goldilocks Power and the Reform of Irregular Warfare in a Changing World” is the title of a paper by Dr. Deon Canyon for Security Nexus. This article defines how irregular warfare applies to strategic competition and the need for a “whole of government/society approach” in applying this capability.

The concepts underlying Goldilocks Power have been integral to human pursuits from the beginning of creative thought. Despite being a daily endeavor in every boardroom, political office, and diplomatic meeting, Goldilocks endeavors have been narrowly defined as “irregular warfare” by the military and run by special operations forces. In 2020, the US National Defense Strategy acknowledged that influencing populations need not be violent and thus finally opened the door to calls for a whole-of-society approach. The term irregular warfare, recognizes the fact that anything and everything will be done by some entities to achieve their goals, whether it require hard or soft power actions or even legal or illegal forays into the gray zone. Ultimately, autocratic and democratic nations, and non-state actors will do whatever it takes to be sitting on little bear’s just right chair, eating porridge of a perfect temperature and sleeping on a comfortable bed.

Dr. Canyon is a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS) in Honolulu, USA. The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government.

Security Nexus is a peer-reviewed, online journal published by the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.