- Series: Belknap Press S
- Paperback: 560 pages
- Publisher: Belknap Press; Revised edition (September 15, 1981)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674817362
- ISBN-13: 978-0674817364
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 21 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations (Belknap Press S) Revised Edition
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The problem of civil–military relations is of critical importance in American affairs… Huntington establishes his basic propositions, formulates his theoretical framework, and analyzes historical and contemporary developments in the United States and abroad with skill and insight. The clarity and precision with which the book moves forward make it a delight to read. (Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science)
The book contains many insights about both America and its soldiers, and the thought behind many of its conclusions is hard and clean… It also disposes of a number of prejudices about the military that still clog the policy process… Here is a book to make one think. (American Political Science Review)
From the Back Cover
In a classic work, Samuel P. Huntington challenges most of the old assumptions and ideas on the role of the military in society. Stressing the value of the military outlook for American national policy, Huntington has performed the distinctive task of developing a general theory of civil-military relations and subjecting it to rigorous historical analysis.
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This is a superb text for the Professional Military Officer. The publisher's synopsis states: "In a classic work, Samuel P. Huntington challenges most of the old assumptions and ideas on the role of the military in society. Stressing the value of the military outlook for American national policy, Huntington has performed the distinctive task of developing a general theory of civil–military relations and subjecting it to rigorous historical analysis."
The text is broken down into seventeen chapters to include a comprehensive index and notes. They are enumerated as follows: Part I: Military Institutions and The State: Theoretical and Historical Perspectives. Chapter 1: Officership as a Profession. Chapter 2: The Rise of the Military Profession in Western Society. Chapter 3: The Military Mind: Conservative Realism of the Professional Military Ethic. Chapter 4: Power, Professionalism, and Ideology: Civil-Military Relations in Theory. Chapter 5: Germany and Japan: Civil-Military Relations in Practice. Part II: Military Power in America: The Historical Experience 1789-1940. Chapter 6: The Ideological Constant: The Liberal Society versus Military Professionalism. Chapter 7: The Structural Constant: The Conservative Constitution versus Civilian Control. Chapter 8: The Roots of the American Military Tradition before the Civil War. Chapter 9: The Creation of the American Military Profession. Chapter 10: The Failure of the Neo-Hamiltonian Compromise, 1890-1920. Chapter 11: The Constancy of Interwar Civil-Military Relations. Part III: The Crisis of American Civil-Military Relations, 1940-1955. Chapter 12: World War II: The Alchemy of Power. Chapter 13: Civil-Military Relations in the Postwar Decade. Chapter 14: The Political Roles of the Joint Chiefs. Chapter 15: The Separation of Powers and Cold War Defense. Chapter 16: Departmental Structure of Civil-Military Relations. Chapter 17: Toward a New Equilibrium. Notes. Index.
Part of the Author's conclusion sums up the spirit of the text: "Upon Soldiers, the defenders of order, rests a heavy responsibility. The greatest service they can render is to remain true to themselves, to serve with silence and courage in the military way. If they abjure the military spirit, they destroy themselves first and their Nation ultimately. If the civilians permit the soldiers to adhere to the military standard, the nations themselves may eventually find redemption and security in making that standard their own (p. 466)."
Well done. Five stars!
Huntington offered a theoretical framework for modern civil-military relations. He insisted that liberalism was fundamentally opposed to the proper military ethic; the application of subjective civilian control over the military actually aimed at weakening military professionalism, which was viewed as a threat to democracy, liberalism, and American values. The Cold War, though, required America to keep a large national army during peace time; the army could not return to its traditionally subordinate role. There was perpetual tension between the demands of national security and the values of American liberalism: either American security must be compromised or the influence of liberalism weakened. Only a conservative environment allowed for equilibrium between political influence and the military professionalism that ensured national security. This balance could only be achieved, Huntington argued, by objective civilian control of the military. By maintaining independent spheres of power, with no fusion of civil and military control, national security goals could be maximized with a minimum sacrifice of social values. Objective civilian control allowed for the proper growth of military professionalism while keeping the military a subordinate tool of state policy. The fulcrum of civil-military relations was the relation of the officer corps to the state.
Huntington was successful in presenting the military as inherently conservative and unwarlike. The military prepared for war but never sought such engagement. Huntington encapsulated the premise of the military mindset as conservative realism. This mindset "holds that war is the instrument of politics, that the military are the servants of the statesman, and that civilian control is essential to military professionalism." This military ethic contrasted with the stereotype of the military as dangerously warlike. A weakness of the book is Huntington's description of military trends between the Civil War and the Great War. Huntington argued that the officer corps remained isolated during this period, allowing it to develop a professionalism free of civilian interference. This isolation theory has been largely disproved by pointing to the military's involvement in putting down labor strikes, relations between officers and the business community, etc. This defect should not detract from the importance of this book as a virgin exploration into a comprehensive history of the American military tradition. With its conservative thesis, it remains in my mind the seminal work on civil-military relations.
The content of this book has applicability to today's world just as much as it did back in the '50s. The subject matter is pertinent to all time frames over the last 300 years. An excellent summary of a somewhat complicated subject.
These writings also dispel a lot of myths civilian people have concerning the military. I have yet to read a better explanation of this subject in any other source. Brian