Risa Brooks et al., "Reconsidering American Civil-Military Relations: The Military, Society, Politics, and Modern War" (Oxford UP, 2020)

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Most existing literature regarding civil-military relations in the United States references either the Cold War or post-Cold War era, leaving a significant gap in understanding as our political landscape rapidly changes. Reconsidering American Civil-Military Relations: The Military, Society, Politics, and Modern War (Oxford UP, 2020) builds upon our current perception of civil-military relations, filling in this gap and providing contemporary understanding of these concepts. The authors examine modern factors such as increasing partisanship and political division, evolving technology, new dynamics of armed conflict, and the breakdown of conventional democratic and civil-military norms, focusing on the multifaceted ways they affect civil-military relations and American society as a whole.

Lionel Beehner, Risa Brooks, and Daniel Maurer, serving as both editors of the volume and authors themselves, recruited contributing authors who come from a diversity of backgrounds, many of whom have served in the military, or in the foreign service, have worked as policy makers, and many who have held academic appointments in security studies, war studies, and at the military academies as well as at civilian institutions. Reconsidering American Civil-Military Relations helps to define and examine the roles and responsibilities of the military, civilian leadership, and the public, centering the sections of the book around these definitions, then delving deeper into the intricacies of their relations within the chapters in each section of the book. The first section of the book analyzes the military’s roles and responsibilities, focusing on limits of the military’s political activity as well as long-standing conventions and norms of professionalism that are part of the old Cold War structures. The second section explores the civilian side of the civil-military equation, particularly the role of the soldier, both as a member of society and a member of the military. This section also explores the marginalization of civilian voices in military policy making and factors that may contribute to that marginalization. The third section focuses on the relationship between society and the military, exploring societal attitudes toward the military and identifying how trends in partisanship and polarization are challenging civil-military relations. The fourth and final section of this volume examines the fragility and erratically fluid nature of our current historical moment, and how challenges in civil-military relations can arise from the changing realities of war, armed conflict, and domestic political dynamics.

Emma R. Handschke assisted in the production of this podcast.

Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at lgoren@carrollu.edu or tweet to @gorenlj.

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