American Civil-Military Relations: The Soldier and the State in a New Era

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Suzanne C. Nielsen, Don M. Snider
JHU Press, Sep 11, 2009 - History - 432 pages
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American Civil-Military Relations offers the first comprehensive assessment of the subject since the publication of Samuel P. Huntington’s field-defining book, The Soldier and the State. Using this seminal work as a point of departure, experts in the fields of political science, history, and sociology ask what has been learned and what more needs to be investigated in the relationship between civilian and military sectors in the 21st century.

Leading scholars—such as Richard Betts, Risa Brooks, James Burk, Michael Desch, Peter Feaver, Richard Kohn, Williamson Murray, and David Segal—discuss key issues, including:• changes in officer education since the end of the Cold War;• shifting conceptions of military expertise in response to evolving operational and strategic requirements;• increased military involvement in high-level politics; and• the domestic and international contexts of U.S. civil-military relations.

The first section of the book provides contrasting perspectives of American civil-military relations within the last five decades. The next section addresses Huntington’s conception of societal and functional imperatives and their influence on the civil-military relationship. Following sections examine relationships between military and civilian leaders and describe the norms and practices that should guide those interactions. The editors frame these original essays with introductory and concluding chapters that synthesize the key arguments of the book.

What is clear from the essays in this volume is that the line between civil and military expertise and responsibility is not that sharply drawn, and perhaps given the increasing complexity of international security issues, it should not be. When forming national security policy, the editors conclude, civilian and military leaders need to maintain a respectful and engaged dialogue.

American Civil-Military Relations is essential reading for students and scholars interested in civil-military relations, U.S. politics, and national security policy.

-- John R. Ballard

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About the author (2009)

Suzanne C. Nielsen is an associate professor and the director of the International Relations and National Security Studies Program at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, and coeditor of the widely used textbook American National Security, sixth edition, also published by Johns Hopkins. Don M. Snider is an emeritus professor of political science at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, a visiting research professor at the Army War College, and coeditor of The Future of the Army Profession.

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