Civil-Military Crisis? Tocqueville's Theory of Civil-Military Relations   [open pdf - 1MB]

"This paper reviews the current debate on civil-military relations, outlining the mayor lines of argument. It then examines objective research data to evaluate the actual existence of a growing gap between military and society in the United States. It subsequently evaluates this evidence in light of Tocqueville's theoretical framework, set out in broader form in the author's overview of Tocqueville's comprehensive body of thought on military forces in democratic states. It concludes with some possible approaches that take into account the root causes of civil-military tension, in an attempt to escape the essentially a historical trap of viewing this problem (or any problem) as being unique to our times, and thus limiting the options available to address the issue. Why this topic? What is its connection to the national security policy process? Quite simply, policy is formulated and Implemented in a context. This context consists of several important dimensions, among them the economic, domestic political, and international spheres. Policy makers-presumed to be rational beings-attempt to anticipate environmental constraints. Consequently, their perceptions of the policy environment will affect policy formulation. In other words, the policy environment is operative well before implementation; understanding these environmental constraints may help explain policy choices. In this paper, I consider one aspect of the domestic political and social environment on both national security policy formulation and implementation. One of the most provocative descriptions of this environment is outlined in Tocqueville's 'Democracy in America', which deals with a broad range of issues ranging from politics to sociology to economics. This paper argues that Tocqueville's analysis raises serious issues with profound implications for the ability of democratic states to formulate and implement policy relevant to the civil-military relationship. Understanding the characteristics of this environmental constraint may help avoid pitfalls that could have grave consequences for society."

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