CIVILIAN AND STATE: Politics at the Heart of Civil-Military Relations
In September 2022, a significant event happened: War on the Rocks released an open letter on civil relations with the US military of almost all the Secretaries of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The letter is important not only for what it said, but also for what it did not say – and, above all, what it could not say. It revealed how little we know about civilian and military-civil relations and how the exclusion of the working class from politics undermines our ability to protect the military from politics.
Like many documents on civil-military relations, and although signed by 8 secretaries of defense, the letter looks at war. 10 of his 16 talks about what the military can and cannot do during presidential elections and revolutions, the relationship between the military and law enforcement, the relationship between the military and the politics of politics and how the military “reinforced civilian control.” Even the evidence that describes what civilians do does not explain how they do it, only what the military can and cannot do in response. The point about the law is not about what good and legal law looks like, but about the fact that the law, although legal, should be obeyed. The perception of the recipient is important here.
To be clear, the letter does not ignore common duties. Similarly, the first points are related to the control of the common people and how it is organized in the American government. In the text, “civilian-military groups” and “military-civilian leaders” are clear subjects of best practices. Although the main focus is on the military, one can argue that the common people should know what the military should do and their orders. On the one hand, the letter describes how the control of the common people is, or at least what it produces. Therefore, the letter was not aimed at ordinary people. But if ordinary people are part of the target group of students, what do teachers expect them to learn about what they should do? Where is the Line That Separates Journalism From Politics?
If, for example, the revelation about General Mark Milley was part of the motivation for the letter, then an explanation of what ordinary people should do differently – initially or in response – would be useful. But that’s not what we get. This article explains that the people’s control is organized as a democratic system. “Ultimately, the will of the American people is used to control civilian administration as demonstrated by the election,” the letter said. This is both true and not a big deal. Elections are indeed an important response system to democracy, giving ordinary people the power they need to control the military.
But this is only a predicate – a necessary but not sufficient condition according to the owner’s manual. And then, there is no manual for civilians, because the current work in civil and military relations does not provide one. The letter went as far as possible with our current standards and knowledge. Elections determine who will rule, but not exactly what they should do or how they should do it. Voters delegate their decisions about policies or exercise decision-making power to the common people. 카지노사이트
How will elected officials and their political representatives at the Pentagon keep voters’ minds on day-to-day choices, such as requiring the secretary to approve the war veteran’s plan before the secretary his body? Why would a Senator vote against recommending a soldier for promotion to General or One-Star Admiral? Specifically, and of course just as important, when the President of the United States is proposing the use of military force against American citizens protesting in the streets of America, what should the Secretary of Defense do?
What should the president’s party do in Congress? But when the crowd attacked the members of Congress, what role should the army play in protecting them? These are political questions about political choices. And for all the wisdom of American law and the concept of civil-military relations, these measures have little to say about politics.
As Risa Brooks explains in her 2020 essay, “Paradoxes of Professionalism: Rethinking Civil-Military Relations in the United States,” we have to blame Samuel Huntington for why politics is a neglected part of the study and practice of civil-military relations. Brooks explains that in his 1957 book, The Soldier and the State, Huntington described the relationship between the country and the military as an exchange between two different societies with two different influences. Civilians control politics and leave the military to their skills. Huntington supported the principle of “political forces” in the United States, which, according to Brooks, “shapes how American workers relate to their professional work.” The letter supports this principle, stressing the need to “separate the military from the politics of politics”.
But somehow, perhaps because the army is a more cohesive institution and therefore easier to treat as a unit of analysis for academic studies, practitioners of civil-military relations do as always as as if the whole relationship has an apolitical position. The result of avoiding politics in a war-torn country is that we don’t know much about what ordinary people need to do to manage politics so that the military doesn’t.
You can see this challenge in the way recent defense secretaries talk about their relationship with politics. Robert Gates expresses genuine distaste for his time as Secretary of Defense. Referring to his arrival in the State of the Union address, Gates said, “Being a part of a political group that I am ashamed of, especially praising the plans and ideas of countries that are controversial.” Jim Mattis, while campaigning for his own book, has insisted that his role as retired executive director is to stay out of politics — not questioning whether his latest role as secretary of defense includes policies that like that. In February 2020, Secretary Mark Esper issued a memo to all defense officials, military and civilians, which said, “We are continuing the DoD’s long tradition of remaining apolitical. In June of this year that, Esper told Politico, “I do everything I can to try to stay political and to try to stay out of situations that might seem political.”
Of course, defense secretaries are politicians. They are appointed by the president, political parties and authorities. As for the more civilian employees of the Ministry of Defense, although they are subject to the Hatch Act, which prevents active support for the “success or failure” of political parties the government or the candidates, they don’t stop them like soldiers. Civilians are also not barred from other political activities such as defending the defense budget or discussing public opinion about military operations with White House officials or members of Congress. But as Esper’s letter shows, the idea that the military should be politicized started with the idea that the entire defense department should pretend to be politicized.
A big part of the problem is the complexity of politics and politics. While political politics involves the pursuit of power for a political party, governmental politics is about institutions and actors in the government striving for power, leading and to choose policies, direct resources and organizations and programs. The difference between politics and politics is especially dangerous for the secretary, whose job is to promote the president’s political agenda as a member of the party.
Other MoD appointees are in a similar position. Although they are forced to work on political campaigns for political companies, they are actively involved in politics. Part of the difficulty is that accepting politics these days can seem unnatural.
Consider the negative interpretation of many people who say that it is the idea of ”politics”, of politics or something else. “I don’t want to be political” is a common way for someone to reassure the listener that they are not trying to be controversial or offensive. Playing politics isn’t just bad for the military; and it’s not good. At the same time, the proliferation of politics in the United States has developed around the desire of supporters to see themselves as honest and to see their politicians as -not good.
The belief that politics in general is a bad thing, but that human politics is only common sense has led many soldiers to believe that their thinking is not political but moral. This is, I believe, the reason why many soldiers have become involved in politics in recent years as they continue to think that they cannot be involved in politics.
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