Monday, February 19, 2018

My New Article on Chilean Military

I just published a new academic article that's had a funny life. Here's the link to a PDF.

Gregory Weeks, “Civilian Inattention and Democratization: The Chilean Military and Political Transition in the 1930s.” Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 43, 1 (2018): 1-17.

The Chilean political transition that took place in 1932 is commonly viewed as positive for civil-military relations. This article argues that the very means used to restore stable civilian rule in Chile in the 1930s also contributed to the slow decay of civil-military relations, especially with the army. The conceptual lesson for the contemporary period is that civilian control entails much more than avoiding coups or rebellion in the short term. Civil-military institutions and civilian leadership matter for democracy. Although civilian strategies proved highly effective in the short term, the failure to strengthen civil-military institutions ultimately carried with it a high cost in the longer term. Compounded over years, civilian inattention can lead to estrangement, which in turn can gradually erode civilian supremacy and, by extension, democracy itself.

I've been messing with this article off and on for over 10 years. I found it fascinating and fun to research, but of course as anyone who reads this blog knows, I am a big fan of political history. But I found it is too history for political science and too political science for history. I submitted it unsuccessfully to several journals, set it aside, picked it up again, and so on. I liked it enough that I did not want to quit. This particular peer review time was extremely long (several years altogether) which is another difficult aspect of academia.

As for the article itself, I use a historical case study to examine the long term effects of Latin American civilian leaders not paying sufficient attention to their militaries. Short-term "subordination" does not necessarily mean long-term stability.


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