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Civilian Control or Military Rule?. The Future of Civil-Military Relations. I. Evolution of Civil-Military Relations. Newburgh Conspiracy (1783): Washington’s non-coup Origins: fiscal crisis under Articles of Confederation Public resents pension obligations

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Civilian Control or Military Rule?

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Civilian control or military rule l.jpg

Civilian Control or Military Rule?

The Future of Civil-Military Relations

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I. Evolution of Civil-Military Relations

  • Newburgh Conspiracy (1783): Washington’s non-coup

    • Origins: fiscal crisis under Articles of Confederation

    • Public resents pension obligations

    • Officer clique protests to Congress, warns of “fatal effects” if demands not met

    • Disenchanted veterans manipulated by Federalists (Hamilton, advocates of federal taxation): threat of coup used to justify federal expansion

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5. The Conspiracy

  • Gates mobilizes support for mutiny (refusal to disband, threat of coup)

  • Gates Plan: Co-opt or eliminate Washington, take control of government

  • Federalists warn Washington of plot (Federalist Plan: Unsuccessful uprising to emphasize threat)

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6. Washington’s Choice

  • March 1783: Gates circulates letter urging officers to meet (contrary to orders): “If you have sense enough to discover and spirit to oppose tyranny, whatever garb it may assume, awake to your situation. If the present moment be lost, your threats hereafter will be as empty as your entreaties now. Appeal from the justice to the fears of government, and suspect the man who would advise to longer forbearance”

  • Washington takes control, re-schedules meeting (instead of forbidding it)

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Washington Stops the Coup

  • “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.”

  • Washington uses own prestige to shame pro-coup officers, gains expressions of loyalty

  • Federalist plot works: Fearful Congress passes taxation measures

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7. Key Points to Remember

  • Civilians used military against civilian enemies (very common path to coups)

  • Absence of junior-senior officer split allowed Washington to assume control

  • Washington had other opportunities for leadership (see textbook on Constitutional Convention)

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B. The Civil War

  • The onset of rebellion

    • The political logic of secession – an outnumbered South depends on expansion of slavery to preserve parity in the Senate

    • Lincoln elected  secession

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c. Buchanan does…nothing

  • Cabinet members shift weapons from Northern to Southern arsenals so that they might be more easily seized by secessionists

  • Buchanan doesn’t negotiate, mobilize, or even try to persuade

  • Buchanan’s Secretary of War becomes Confederate general (John B. Floyd)

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2. Treason by American officers?

  • “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

    • 313 of 1108 (32%) US Army officers join the Confederate Army

    • Major Twiggs (pro-South) surrenders 20% of the US Army to Texas – before secession!

  • Civilian control maintained: Confederate Constitution similar to US Constitution

  • Confederate armies surrender against civilian orders (Jefferson Davis insists on continued war)

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3. The North: Militarized Politics

  • Lincoln vs. McClellan – open campaigning for soldiers’ loyalties (compare to Zachary Taylor’s insistence on non-voting)

  • Hooker’s proposed “dictatorship” – Lincoln replies: “I have heard, in such way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a Dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain success can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship.”

  • Military failures undermine prestige of anti-civilian generals – Grant refuses to run against Lincoln or replace him as Republican nominee

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4. Reconstruction and Posse Comitatus

  • Military rule during Reconstruction

  • End of Reconstruction = Posse Comitatus Act. Goal = prevent Army from supervising Southern elections

    “Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both”

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C. Truman and MacArthur

  • US suffers defeats when China intervenes in Korean War

    • MacArthur demands war with China

    • Truman tells him to shut up

    • MacArthur demands war with China – and then issues his own ultimatum to China!

    • Truman fires MacArthur

  • Unpopular decision: Congressional hearings, threat of impeachment

  • MacArthur loses support during hearings, Eisenhower becomes Republican nominee in 1952

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D. Cold War Realities

  • Strong military is institutionalized – becomes interest group vying for government funds

  • “Predelegation” –

    • Begins in 1957, continues through end of Cold War (and beyond?)

    • US Commanders given authority to order retaliatory nuclear attacks if President unreachable (also given the unlock codes)

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3. Military resistance to nuclear warfighting: LNOs

  • Problem: US nuclear war plan (SIOP) had no contingency calling for less than a few hundred nuclear weapons

  • Eisenhower demands revisions to allow use of single weapons for political purposes (limited retaliation, response to conventional war)

  • So does Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan….yet SIOP never updated to include LNOs

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4. Circumvention of civilian control: The Air Force and the unlock codes

  • Air Force forced to install locks (PALs) on nuclear weapons during 1960s.

    • PALs require secret code to physically enable weapon. Even if missile launched, warhead won’t detonate without code. Prevents unauthorized use of nuclear weapons.

  • Air Force quietly sets code to 00000000 – and tells just about everyone involved in the launch process!

  • 1977: Congressional hearings lead Air Force to finally pick a new code

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E. 1986: Goldwater-Nichols

  • Origins:

    • Failed/difficult joint operations of 1970s-1980s = Congressional pressure for interservice unity

    • Joint Chiefs of Staff (commanders of the services) oppose reorganization

    • Nearly five years of lobbying and horse-trading follow

  • Key provision for our purposes: Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff established as central military advisor to President

  • Effects

    • Notable reduction in inter-service rivalry

    • Military now speaks with one voice – more difficult for civilians to oppose

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F. Conclusions

  • Coup risk has usually been low

    • Few military officers ever had opportunity to launch coup

    • Those that had opportunity refused -- and later became President

    • Pressure for coup generally emanates from civilians seeking to counter political enemies

  • Bureaucratic resistance has increased – much more difficult for President and Secretary of Defense to ensure implementation

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II. The Military Learns to Play PoliticsA. Military Opposition to Clinton

  • Origins

    • Characteristics of the President: avoided Vietnam service, did drugs, expressed “loathing” for military service in 1969 letter, protested Vietnam War

    • Increasing partisanship in military (probably due to end of conscription) – military has shifted Republican since 1970s (about 2:1 in general, up to 9:1 among elite officers)

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c. Changing of the guard – the post-Vietnam generation

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d. The “Gays in the Military” Controversy

  • Clinton promises to allow openly gay people to serve in the US Armed forces

  • Widespread military opposition prevents policy implementation

    • Colin Powell (Chairman of JCS) denounces policy in Congressional hearings

    • Two Marine officers publish editorial in Washington Post warning that unless JCS keeps ban, it risks “losing the loyalty of junior officers.” Notes that a soldier “swears allegiance to the Constitution, not to the Commander-in-Chief”

    • Congress responds to military lobbying by codifying ban as law, preventing future Presidents from overturning it

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2. Symptoms: Repeated insubordination

  • Clinton’s first visit to aircraft carrier marked by open mockery to reporters by both enlisted personnel and officers

  • Air Force Major Gen. Harold Campbell forced to resign after he called President Clinton a "gay-loving, draft-dodging, pot-smoking, womanizing“ Commander-in-Chief

  • JCS openly opposes policies of Defense Secretary Les Aspin in 1993  repeated leaks to press by military officers  Clinton forces Aspin to resign

  • Air Force chief of staff retires early (unprecedented), criticizes Clinton

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B. Military Criticism of Rumsfeld

  • Rumsfeld tries to implement “Revolution in Military Affairs” – services oppose cuts in weapons systems

  • Rumsfeld attacks generals who insist occupation of Iraq will require more than 100,000 troops

  • Retired generals begin to criticize Rumsfeld

    • Democrats find many to sign anti-Rumsfeld statements

    • Republicans respond with pro-Rumsfeld generals of their own

    • Note: Civilian parties are competing for the “endorsement” of the military!

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C. Procurement: The “Iron Triangle”

Congress, the Pentagon, and Defense Contractors

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1. Campaign Cash: Defense Sector

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2. Contracts and Congress

  • Pentagon and defense contractors spread sub-contract work to key districts/states

  • Programs often use many more contractors/locations than required, inflating costs (but maximizing political survivability)

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3. The Follow-On Imperative

  • New weapons systems create more new weapons systems: need to replace obsolete/aging weapons

  • Mission specialization increases number of weapons systems – each specialized version requires different follow-on system

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4. Example: The F-22 Raptor

a. Overview

  • Planned during Cold War to defeat future Soviet fighters

  • Estimated cost: $68 billion for 750 fighters (initial estimate)  now down to 339 fighters – at the same price

  • 1999: House tries to kill F-22

    • All six members of JCS publicly condemn decision

    • Congress discovers F-22 has 1000 subcontractors in 42 states!

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b. Campaign Cash: Lockheed-Martin

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c. Follow-On Imperative: The F-22

  • Air Force releases study showing F-15 is ineffective (F-22 is follow-on system)

  • Air Force rejects Joint Strike Fighter as alternative. Rationale: JSF is to replace F-16, not F-15 (different follow-on system)

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d. Outcome: F-22 Preserved

  • Clinton threatens to veto cuts to F-22

  • House-Senate conference removes provision

  • Follow-up:

    • F-22 still in FY2007 budget, despite repeated criticism by Rumsfeld

    • $65 billion now buys only 183 planes

    • 2006: GAO recommends against further spending

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5. More examples: FY2006 Budget

  • Secretary of Navy proposes building new destroyer in one shipyard instead of two in MS and ME (saves $300 million)

    • MS, ME Senators place “hold” on Secretary’s promotion to deputy defense secretary

    • ME Senator attaches rider to defense bill in Armed Services Committee prohibiting consolidation of production

  • Rumsfeld suggests cutting major conventional systems for 5th year in a row -- effort is unsuccessful. Services propose cutting personnel to pay for new systems (the “Washington Monument ploy”)

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6. Does the Iron Triangle threaten civilian control?

  • Executive control decreased: Evidence includes Carter’s naval strategy and resistance to Clinton/Rumsfeld

  • Congressional control increased: Unhappy commanders lobby Congress to undo DoD decisions

  • Is divided control over military decisions good or bad for civilian control?

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D. Conclusions

  • Military has become politicized

    • Permanent standing army is large enough to be economically important

    • Rank-and-file have recently become much more partisan (shift away from conscription?)

    • Military has learned to protect interests within political system (organized lobbying)

    • Civilians attempt to manipulate military for partisan advantage

  • Tradition of deference has changed: imagine generals publicly criticizing Lend-Lease or Truman’s integration of the Army

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III. The Risk of a Coup

  • Risk factors

    • Political institutions: Dominant chief executive

    • Political conditions

      • Parochialism: Parties represent closed groups

      • Polarization: Politics is all-or-nothing struggle, losers are punished

      • Mobilization: Parties mobilize followers for extra-legal collective action

    • History: Recent coups

    • Economics: Low GDP, negative growth, “rents” as large % of economy

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5. Military characteristics

  • Partisanship: Military prefers one party to others

  • Civil-military values gap: Civilians seen as corrupt and immoral

  • Perceived effectiveness of military vs. civilian institutions

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B. Evaluating the Risk to the US

  • Political institutions – strong executive increases coup risk

  • Political conditions – none of the risk factors apply

  • History – No

  • Economics – No

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5. Military characteristics

  • Partisanship: High and growing

  • Civil-military values gap?

    • Gap is smallest on foreign/defense policy – except budget decisions

    • Gap is largest on budget decisions and social policy

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Military influence through later office-holding?

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5. Military characteristics

  • Partisanship: High and growing

  • Civil-military values gap?

    • Gap is smallest on foreign/defense policy – except budget decisions

    • Gap is largest on budget decisions and social policy

  • Military perceived as more effective than civilians?

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May 2006

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C. Status: Respect for civilian control high

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D. Conclusions

  • Civil-military relations have deteriorated

  • Strong executive increases vulnerability

  • Nearly every other factor suggests very low coup risk

  • Coup unlikely without change in political-economic conditions (economic collapse, open persecution of political opponents by ruling party, etc)

  • Lesson: American political culture and economic strength make our institutions stronger than they “should” be (on paper).

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