The Postmodern Military: Armed Forces after the Cold War

By Dahl, Erik | Naval War College Review, Winter 2001 | Go to article overview

The Postmodern Military: Armed Forces after the Cold War


Dahl, Erik, Naval War College Review


Moskos, Charles C., John Allen Williams, and David R. Segal, eds. The Postmodern Military: Armed Forces after the Cold War. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2000. 286pp. $45

Ask a soldier or military analyst to describe the "postmodern military," and you are likely to get an answer that includes high technology, precision weapons, information operations, and possibly (especially if he or she is associated with the Navy) network-centric warfare. Much of the recent literature on military affairs concentrates on these technology issues, and an observer might be forgiven for believing that such operational and technical differences are what separate twenty-first-century military forces from their predecessors.

This collection of essays describing the current state of military affairs in the United States and twelve other Western-oriented democracies takes a very different and welcome approach. The editors, well known authorities in the fields of military sociology and civil-military relations, examine the nature of post-Cold War militaries from the point of view of how military forces are organized and how they relate to civilian society.

Some of the issues raised will be familiar to anyone who has followed the debate in recent years over a possible crisis in civil-military relations in America. This book, however, goes well beyond that issue to posit a general model of how militaries in Western democracies are changing in the post-Cold War world.

As distinct from the "modern" military organization, which the authors trace from the French Revolution to the end of World War II, and the "Late Modern" military that prevailed from 1945 to the end of the Cold War, the "postmodern" military is described as one in which military forces undergo a loosening of ties with the nation-state. Postmodern military forces are characterized by an erosion of traditional martial values, a decrease in their sense of an identity separate from civil society, and a change of purpose from fighting wars to nontraditional missions, often involving, or authorized by, international and multinational entities. Kosovo is described as "the first Postmodern war," while the Gulf War, involving a conventional military invasion and state against state conflict, is seen as a "throwback" to the late-modern (Cold War) era.

On the basis primarily of the American experience, the editors describe trends in postmodern militaries, including several hot-button topics. What are the missions of militaries today? What is the relationship between the military and the media, and what is the public attitude toward the military? How fully are women and homosexuals to be incorporated?

The virtue of this book is that it is not just another rehash of the arguments concerning familiar issues. The essays, all by prominent sociologists, review how well militaries in Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom reflect the postmodern model. The essays thus provide useful overviews of how those countries are adapting to many of the same forces that are shaping the American military. They may provide cautionary lessons for military officials and decision makers in the United States by underscoring, for instance, how terribly wrong things can go in "military operations other than war."

In one extreme example of modern military disaster, the Dutch military still has not fully recovered from the failure of the Dutch 3d Air Mobile Battalion to defend the "safe area" of Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 1995. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Postmodern Military: Armed Forces after the Cold War
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.