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Military and Politics
Virtually all nations have some form of military forcefor protection against external foes, for internationalprestige, and often to maintain internal order. Therelationship between a nation’s political life and itsmilitaryisafundamentalandenduringproblemwhichmay be understood as a matter of managing theboundary between them. Civil authorities desire tocontrol the military; but, militaries are more eﬀectivewhen they are professionalized, which requires sub-stantial autonomy and minimal civilian penetrationinto their internal operations (Wilensky 1964).
ilian Control of the Military
The scale of the problem of relations between militaryand politics diﬀers between modern democracies andless well developed and diﬀerentiated societies (see
).Instabledemocraticregimes,widelyacceptedpoliticalnorms and formal institutional mechanisms serve tomaintain the boundary (see
). Hist-orically, standing militaries have been viewed ascontributingtotyrannybecauseoftheexpenseoftheirmaintenance. In modern times they gain politicalinﬂuence through symbiotic relationships with theprivate enterprises that produce their weapons syst-ems—the ‘military–industrial complex’ that formerUnitedStatesPresidentEisenhowerwarnedagainst in1961.Within democracies, institutions of civilian controlincludeconstitutional,legal,andadministrativemech-anisms such as military budgets and establishments,civilian conﬁrmation of oﬃcer commissions, appoint-ment of top military oﬃcials by civilian authorities,andprohibitionsonmilitaryemploymentfordomesticproblems.Evenpowerfulandpopularmilitaryoﬃcerswhoexceedexisting boundariesmayberemoved fromtheir positions by their civilian superiors, as when, inApril 1951, US President Harry Truman summarilyrelieved General Douglas MacArthur.Professional,full-timemilitary,consistsofmemberswhodevotealloftheirtimetotheirduties,minimizingconﬂicts of interest. In some regimes, civilian author-itiesworryaboutmilitarieswithacapacitytocompetewith their authority. In both communist and fascistregimes, specialized political oﬃcers have been em-ployed within military units with lines of authorityparallel to military commanders as a means of en-suring the latter’s compliance with regime dictates.However, such institutions are not eﬀective absentan underlying foundation of well-developed andwidelyacceptednormsinthebroaderpoliticalculture,which may take centuries to develop (Landau 1971).Political norms include general acceptance of militarysubordination to civilian authorities and speciﬁc pro-hibitions on serving oﬃcers engaging in politicalactivities such as legislative lobbying or standing forelected or appointed oﬃce. These norms constituteessentially a social contract about the roles andfunctionsofcivilandmilitaryauthorities,respectively.The exact character of this contract tends to berenegotiated over time.In democratic regimes, such as Britain, a pattern of norms developed over centuries in which both civilianand military bureaucracies were subordinated to thecontrol of Parliament. In the United States, rep-resentative political institutions were constitutionallyestablished before any other, with the result thatcontrol of the military by civilian authority has neverbeen at issue, nor has the legitimacy of representativeinstitutions relative to the military (see
). In developing nations, representative poli-tical institutions may still have to compete with themilitary for legitimacy (Stepan 1971).Development of separate and eﬀective institutionsfor domestic law enforcement and state militias,combined with ﬁrmly established political normsallowing employment of militias internally only inextreme circumstances of natural disaster or civilunrest, have reduced pressures to use military forcesinternally.9857
Military and Politics