The civil–military problematique and legitimate political alternatives: Finding an explanation for cyclical military intervention

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    The civil – military problematique and legitimate political alternatives:   Finding an explanation for cyclical military intervention Nicholas Evans Supervisor: Associate Professor James Ockey  Nicholas Evans 1 The civil  –  military problematique and legitimate political alternatives: Finding an explanation for cyclical military intervention  Questions as to why a military may subvert civilian authority and how civilian authority may control the armed forces in society are not new ones. How a given polity is to ensure the subordination of military power to civilian control has remained an unresolved question for scholars, due to what Peter Feaver has termed the civil  –military problematique: “The very institution created to protect the polity is given sufficient power to become a threat to the polity.” 1  Scholars have attempted to solve this tension with institutional, convergence, and agency theories all putting forward competing conceptions of the problematique, chief amongst them being the discourse over the inhibiting or promoting nature of military professionalism. When the military intervenes, frequently, and most dramatically in the form of a coup d’état, explanations tend to invoke these debates. However, interve ntion does not just come in the form of a one-off coup, but can appear as counter coups, or even cyclical coups. Yet it would appear that there is a gap within the broader literature in explaining why some states face repeated, cyclical intervention, whereas other states may only ever experience one-off intervention. Drawing on theories of military professionalism, and theories relating to political alternatives, can help explain this phenomenon. Such research may be able to give explanations as to why states like Pakistan experienced cyclical intervention, compared to one-off intervention in states like Egypt and Indonesia. 1  Peter D. Feaver, "Civil-Military Relations,"  Annual Review of Political Science  2, no. 1 (1999). Pg 214  Nicholas Evans 2 Chapter 1: Military professionalism and legitimate political alternatives Military professionalism It is in the context of the problematique that Samuel Huntington laid the foundation for the development of civil-military relations with his seminal work: The Soldier and the State.   Huntington argued that the military officer should be considered a ‘professional’ and his craft a ‘profession.’ Like any other professional, an officer would bear characteristics remaining constant regardless of ethnic, national, or linguistic setting. Huntington argued that expertise, responsibility to client, and corporatism were the distinguishing characteristics which defined the modern officer as a professional. 2  Given that the recognized function of the military is armed combat, it follows that the expertise of the officer is derived from this function. Therefore, the particular expertise of the officer is perhaps best characterized by Harold Lasswell as being “the management of violence.” 3  Of course this characteristic varies depending on the particular branch of the military, or the number of soldiers under a given offic er’s command, but the basic skill remains  essentially the same. Secondly, the responsibility of the officer lay in the application of his craft for the benefit of his client. Because society has a direct interest in its own security, it calls for the offi cer’s management of violence to be used for that purpose. As a result, Huntington argued that the officer’s “responsibility is the military security of his client, society.” 4  Finally, 2  Samuel Huntington, The Soldier and the State: The Theory of and Politics of Civil-Military Relations (Massachusetts: Belknap Press, 1967) Pg 8 3  Harold D. Lasswell, "The Garrison State,"  American Journal of Sociology   Vol 46, no. 4 (1941)  –  Other scholars have added to the margins of this definition, such as Janowitz who argued that the officer “is an expert in war-making and in the organized use of violence. ”  Morris Janowitz, The Professional Soldier, a Social and Political Portrait   (Glencoe: Free Press, 1960) Pg 15. 4  Huntington, Pg 15  Nicholas Evans 3 corporatism lay in the military’s isolation from mainstream society. Th e military is both a bureaucratic profession and a bureaucratic organisation, differentiating itself from wider society through rank and hierarchy. 5  Huntington and Morris Janowitz contended that because the profession is bureaucratically isolated, it develops group identity, unity, and loyalty to the institution itself. 6  The military mind Above all, Huntington contends that professionalism is inextricably linked with a ‘military mind- set’ subservient to civilian control. Huntington argued that the mind -set flows largely from the function of the military, as people who act the same over extended periods of time tend to develop certain distinct habits of thought. 7  The isolation of the military furthers this development, contributing to the development of a military ‘ Weltanschauung ’ consisting of the values, attitudes, and perspectives which are derived from the performance of the military’s professional function. 8  Therefore, the mind-set is professional and constant so long as the function does not change. Because the military mind is professional, and given that the military exists to serve the ends of the state, the military mind should ensure that subservience to civilians is observed. 5  Huntington, Pg 16 6  Janowitz, Pg 6 7   Huntington, Pg 61 Others have disagreed with Huntington’s contention that the military mind -set is derived purely from its function. James Ockey contends for instance that institutional memories are created by the military’s mission, and not purely from its abstract function, which helps to mould the mind -set, James Ockey “ Thailand: The struggle to redefine civil-military relations ,” in James Ockey, "Coercion and Governance : The Declining Political Role of the Military in Asia," ed. Muthiah Alagappa (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 2001). Pg 189 Rebecca Schiff also posits that the military mind will be influenced more by cultural, social, and national context, Rebecca L. Schiff, The Military and Domestic Politics: A Concordance Theory of Civil-Military Relations  (Hoboken: Taylor & Francis, 2008) Pg 11, 114 8  Huntington, Pg 62  Nicholas Evans 4 Professionalism as an inhibiting factor Civil-military literature has largely focused on how civilian control techniques can either promote or inhibit intervention. According to Peter Feaver, these techniques are largely grouped into two categories. Firstly, mechanisms affecting the ability of the military to subvert civilian control and secondly, mechanisms affecting the disposition of the military to subvert civilian control. 9  Most scholars have rejected the first, as a military strong enough to protect the state will inevitably be strong enough to destroy it. 10  Instead, scholars have analysed the latter option, including both Huntington and Janowitz, who suggest that the incentives of the military should be adjusted, as opposed to its ascriptive characteristics. 11  Adjusting the ascriptive characteristics, such as officer composition argues Huntington, is ‘Subjective Civilian Control,’ which maximises civilian power vis -à-vis the military. However, it is not ‘civilians’ as a whole that will be given power but rather certain groups, leading to the creation of an elite from which both military and civilian leaders would emerge. 12  Huntington argues that this both politicizes the military and promotes political intervention. Instead, Huntington proposes that ‘Objective Civilian Control’ will adjust military incentives by creating a division of labour and an autonomous military sphere. 13  The military under this system will focus on its professionalism and not on politics, effectively rendering it “politically sterile and neutral.” 14  In other words, if professionalism is maximized, the military will not intervene. 15   9  Feaver, 225 10  Feaver, 226 11  Janowitz, Pgs 15-16 12  Huntington, Pg 80 13  Huntington, Pg 83 14  Huntington, Pg 84 15  Aside from critiques of professionalism acting as an inhibiting factor, many have also pointed out another key flaw in Huntington’s logic. Peter Feaver points out that Huntington argues professionalism is crucial to civilian control, but within h is definition of professionalism he includes the ‘acceptance’ of an ethic of military
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