Saturday, December 17, 2011

Civil-military relations in Peru

Maiah Jaskoski, "Civilian Control of the Armed Forces in Democratic Latin America: Military Prerogatives, Contestation, and Mission Performance in Peru." Armed Forces & Society 38, 1 (January 2012): 70-91.


This article presents a new framework for measuring civilian control of the armed forces in post-transition Latin America. Specifically, it builds on approaches that focus on military privileges and military protest, particularly in the face of government challenges to those privileges. Adding mission performance as a third dimension both helps us measure civilian control more accurately and provides causal leverage, as the three dimensions can interact. The paper demonstrates the utility of the framework through a close-up analysis of a critical case: civil–military relations in Peru since the 1990s.

I am glad to see more work done on civil-military relations in Latin America, since it is unfortunately--and inexplicably--common to believe that armies suddenly became non-political after the end of Cold War and dictatorships.

She argues the following:

In contrast to prior approaches, this article proposes adding another dimension to the privileges/pushback framework: mission performance. In response to a civilian command, the military may refuse to do the work (less control), conduct the mission as ordered (more control), or proactively conduct missions more intensively than instructed (less control). The paper demonstrates the utility of the framework through a close-up analysis of a critical case, civil–military relations in Peru since the 1990s. It shows the interaction of the dimensions of military mission performance and military privileges. Specifically, it shows how military inaction in the face of government orders to perform counterinsurgency triggered the government to reinstate military autonomy vis-a`-vis civilian courts.

It is remarkably hard to come to any consensus about how best to measure democratic civil-military relations, in Latin America or anywhere else. Heavyweights like Samuel Huntington and Alfred Stepan have left important marks, but there is always a stubborn sense that analytic holes still needed filling. That dissatisfaction fueled my own dissertation and first book (which, I hasten to add, may be bought used on Amazon for a mere $4, the perfect stocking stuffer). It is always nice to see a larger circle of people grappling with it.

Jaskoski's argument is buttressed by her 75 interviews with military officers, along with close examination of primary documents and of course the scholarly literature. Her main contribution is to argue that different features of civilian control interact, so that success in one may lead to less success in another. I like that interactive element, and more case studies could yield a more closely specified model.


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