Civil-Military Relations and the Not-Quite Wars of the Present and Future

  • October 01, 1996
  • Dr Vincent Davis

Three papers presented at the Patterson School-Strategic Studies Institute Symposium focused on civil-military relations at various levels. West Point professor Don M. Snider maintains that continued pressures on the armed forces--especially the Army--to put aside war-fighting missions in favor of other missions will further strain civil-military relations. In the second essay, retired Admiral Stanley R. Arthur examines the broader aspects of civil-military relations where he sees a growing estrangement between all levels of the armed forces on the one hand, and the larger civilian society on the other. Finally, George Washington University professor Deborah D. Avant argues that the post-Vietnam war reluctance of senior military officers to take their forces into low-level threat interventions does not constitute defiance of established civilian political authority. In fact, she holds that this is precisely the way the American system of constitutionally-divided government is supposed to work, and that the real problem is the inability of top civilian politicians to form and achieve a consensus in their vision. Together these papers address a spectrum of issues attendant to the current debate over civil-military relations