New on the blogging scene is Don @ the CivMilBlog that’s “Dedicated entirely to civil-military relations, serving as a gateway to the community for policymakers and serious researchers.”
Pundits and casual observers disregard the complex relationship between the military, the executive branch, the legislative branch, the public, and the media. The military is not an exclusive agent of the President, but, especially since WWII, an active and increasingly independent actor that is increasingly aware of its own power. To be sure, this does not mean the military is planning Dunlap’s Coup, but it does mean muscular posturing by the US takes many forms and has many more influences than many realize.
His most recent post, American Political Development and American Civil-Military Relations, looks to put American civil-military relations into context. In this post, he scratches at the apparent paradox of American embedding of “an autarchic, fundamentally illiberal institution (the military) inside a larger liberal democratic institution (the United States).” Remember that this uniquely American civil-military relationship was intended by our insurgent Founders. Wary of a standing military, their concern over the potential abuse a standing military could affect on our own population as well as the potential of politicization of that military for personal gain, they wrote into the Constitution a division of responsibilities for Congress and President. Over the years, additional powers were assumed by each side. It looks like Don will explore these over time.
If you’re interested in an updated civ-mil reading list, in addition to Don’s post & blog, I suggest the following:
- Charles Stevenson’s latest book: Congress at War
- Dale Herspring’s The Pentagon And the Presidency: Civil-military Relations from FDR to George W. Bush