Date of Publication

2019 12:00 AM

Security Theme

Political Stability

Keywords

Civil-Military Relations, Institutions, Coups, military juntas, democratization, transitions of power

Description

There is no region in the world that exceeds Latin America in the number of books and articles, by local and foreign scholars, on the topic of civil-military relations. It is indicative of the great interest in the topic that Red de Seguridad y Defensa de América Latina (RESDAL), based in Buenos Aires, periodically publishes the Defense Atlas of Latin America and the Caribbean, which appears in Spanish but has also appeared in English and at least once in French. Despite serious and sustained efforts and interest in other regions, particularly in the Middle East, there is nothing similar anywhere else in the world. Currently, much is happening in both the United States and Latin America involving civil-military relations, for better and for worse. The value of several of these books is to redirect our attention at least in part back to the military institutions from which the currently democratic regimes evolved. The authors deal with fundamental issues of militaries including the centrality of strategy, the importance of roles and missions, and the necessity of institutions in the absence of which civilians are incapable of controlling the military. It must be stated up front that two major factors influence most of the literature on civil-military relations in the region, both of which revolve around the military but normally do not enter into military issues per se. First is the very serious human rights abuses in virtually all of the countries ruled by military regimes, and second, the transition from military regimes to electoral democracies, again in virtually all of the countries. It is no surprise, then, that the overwhelming emphasis in the literature is on the conditions for, and institutions created to exercise democratic civilian control, with very little attention to the military itself. The question thus arises: What happened to the military in civil-military relations in Latin America? The great novelty, and in my view, contribution of at least five of the books reviewed here is that they focus on precisely the military as an institution, how it should be organized, how it should be led, and what it should be doing: Chirio’s in her focus on the internal dynamics of the military in Brazil, Pion-Berlin’s as he focuses on roles or missions, Alsina’s as he deals with national security and defense strategy, Pion-Berlin and Martínez as they analyze military effectiveness, and Franqui-Rivera as he focuses on the military’s role in the culture in Puerto Rico. Each of these books, by refocusing the debate on the military institutions and their missions, brings the military back into the study of civil-military relations. While the book by Klein and Vidal Luna focuses mainly on the military regime, 1964–1985, and Chirio’s on the military regime and democratic transition, the remaining six deal primarily with the military in democratic regimes.

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

Putting the Military Back into Civil-Military Relations

There is no region in the world that exceeds Latin America in the number of books and articles, by local and foreign scholars, on the topic of civil-military relations. It is indicative of the great interest in the topic that Red de Seguridad y Defensa de América Latina (RESDAL), based in Buenos Aires, periodically publishes the Defense Atlas of Latin America and the Caribbean, which appears in Spanish but has also appeared in English and at least once in French. Despite serious and sustained efforts and interest in other regions, particularly in the Middle East, there is nothing similar anywhere else in the world. Currently, much is happening in both the United States and Latin America involving civil-military relations, for better and for worse. The value of several of these books is to redirect our attention at least in part back to the military institutions from which the currently democratic regimes evolved. The authors deal with fundamental issues of militaries including the centrality of strategy, the importance of roles and missions, and the necessity of institutions in the absence of which civilians are incapable of controlling the military. It must be stated up front that two major factors influence most of the literature on civil-military relations in the region, both of which revolve around the military but normally do not enter into military issues per se. First is the very serious human rights abuses in virtually all of the countries ruled by military regimes, and second, the transition from military regimes to electoral democracies, again in virtually all of the countries. It is no surprise, then, that the overwhelming emphasis in the literature is on the conditions for, and institutions created to exercise democratic civilian control, with very little attention to the military itself. The question thus arises: What happened to the military in civil-military relations in Latin America? The great novelty, and in my view, contribution of at least five of the books reviewed here is that they focus on precisely the military as an institution, how it should be organized, how it should be led, and what it should be doing: Chirio’s in her focus on the internal dynamics of the military in Brazil, Pion-Berlin’s as he focuses on roles or missions, Alsina’s as he deals with national security and defense strategy, Pion-Berlin and Martínez as they analyze military effectiveness, and Franqui-Rivera as he focuses on the military’s role in the culture in Puerto Rico. Each of these books, by refocusing the debate on the military institutions and their missions, brings the military back into the study of civil-military relations. While the book by Klein and Vidal Luna focuses mainly on the military regime, 1964–1985, and Chirio’s on the military regime and democratic transition, the remaining six deal primarily with the military in democratic regimes.

 
 

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