Danish Defence Research Database


The Virtues of Military Politics

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Sociologists and political scientists have long fretted over the dangers that a politicized military poses to democracy. In recent times, however, civil–military relations experts in the United States accepted retired or indeed still serving generals and admirals in high-ranking political posts. Despite customary revulsion from scholars, the sudden waivers are an indicator that military participation in momentous national security decisions is inherently political without necessarily being partisan, including when civilian authority defers to a largely autonomous sphere for objective military expertise. Military politics is actually critical for healthy civil–military collaboration, when done prudently and moderately. Janowitz and Huntington, founders of the modern study of civil–military relations, understood the U.S. military’s inevitable invitation to political influence. Here, we elaborate on two neglected dimensions, implicit in their projects, of military politics under objective civilian control based on classical virtues of civic republicanism: Aristotle’s practical wisdom and Machiavelli’s virtú.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArmed Forces and Society
Publication statusPublished - 2019
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