Civil –Military Relations
Civil military relations can be understood as ‘two hands on the sword.’ The civilian hand determines the timing to draw out the sword from its sheath and the military hand carries out the civilian government’s order to put the sword in combat. Civil military partnership is shared between the civilian government and the military establishment in order to run the state affairs.
The paper examines the complexities of civil-military relationships from the past till to date. Further, it interprets the viewpoints of authors: Peter D. Feaver in his article, ‘Armed Forces & Society’ and Marybeth P. Ulrich’s article ‘The Runaway General’. Authors’ interpretations signify how far the US is fair in treatment of civil-military relations. In the end, the paper suggests ways to coordinate relations between armed forces and civilian government.
I agree to the interpretations of Marybeth Ulrich. She is vocal in civil-military relations. She supports a balance in civil military decisions, placing the civilian government on the driving seat. But I disagree with Feaver over the point of the agency theory. My perception is that there should be coordination between the civil and military relations. Both civilian executives and military personnel are needed for state’s safety and wellbeing of the people. Any deviation in decision making during the peace time and the war time is jeopardous to the state. I advocate that no one is superior or inferior. They are like strings on the lyre to work equally.
Peter D. Feaver proposes ambitiously a new theory that treats civil-military relations as a principal-agent relationship. Here, a principal is the government and agent is a military man, capable of carrying out the duty. According to him, the civilian executive monitors the actions of military forces of a nation state but military obedience is not automatic. It depends on strategic calculations of whether civilians will catch and punish the miscreant. Huntington speaks about balance between political influence and the military professionalism that can ensure national security. He says that such balance can only be achieved by objective civilian control of the military. It means civilian control over defense personnel in country’s defense affairs, deployment of forces, and use of armed forces, setting of military priorities and ordering them to go to war. Civilian control is a substantial element of an effective system of democratic control. Huntington provides an innovative way of making sense of the U.S. Cold War and post-Cold War experience, especially the distinctively stormy civil-military relations of the Clinton era. In the decade after the cold war ended, civilians and the military had a variety of disputes over whether and how to use military force. These episodes, as interpreted in agency theory by Feaver, contradict the conventional wisdom that civil-military relations matter only if there is risk of a coup. On the...