War, Morality, and the Military Profession

By Malham M. Wakin | Go to book overview
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which the military, in coalition with demagogic civilian leaders, wield unprecedented amounts of political and administrative power. In the garrison state the officer fights for national survival and glory.

But the constabulary force is designed to be compatible with the traditional goals of democratic political control. The constabulary officer performs his duties, which include fighting, because he is a professional with a sense of self-esteem and moral worth. Civilian society permits him to maintain his code of honor and encourages him to develop his professional skill. He is amenable to civilian political control because he recognizes that civilians appreciate and understand the tasks and responsibilities of the constabulary force. He is integrated into civilian society because he shares its common values. To deny or destroy the difference between the military and the civilian cannot produce genuine similarity, but runs the risk of creating new forms of tension and unanticipated militarism.


Notes
1.
When they have intervened in domestic civil disorders, federal troops have encountered little opposition, except for the Pullman strike. In the past, the presence of a limited number of troops, for there were usually no more than a limited number available, has been sufficient to restore order and prevent further disturbance. By contrast, General MacArthur engaged in a relatively large-scale operation when 500 troops were used, with more than 1,000 held in reserve, in order to evict the 8,000 bonus marchers on Washington, D.C. during the administration of President Herbert Hoover. The cavalry led the way, followed by tanks, machine gunners, and infantry. The troops wore gas masks, and in a few minutes tear gas completely cleared the "Fort," where the bonus army lived in makeshift huts. Apparently, the army had been requested to move into the troubled area without firearms but the military authorities decided that if soldiers were to be involved they would use guns, not sticks. However this episode stands in contrast to the typical behavior of the army in civil disorders. When properly trained, equipped, and commanded, it has sought to limit the display and use of force. See Reichley, M. S., "Federal Military Intervention in Civil Disturbances" (Ph.D. dissertation, Georgetown University, 1939).
2.
Despite the growth of reporting and control devices, it is the infrequent real tests which lay bare the state of the military establishment. The smallscale landing in Lebanon in 1958, undertaken under most favorable conditions, was considered by observers to have been a defective military operation, aside from its political dimensions. See, in particular, Baldwin, Hanson, "Concern Over Defense", New York Times, 1958, p. 14. Such disclosures constitute the basis for fundamental civilian review of the adequacy and organization of constabulary forces, although, in actuality, this particular instance was not used either by Congress or by executive leadership.

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