The Great War and America: Civil-Military Relations during World War I

The Great War and America: Civil-Military Relations during World War I

The Great War and America: Civil-Military Relations during World War I

The Great War and America: Civil-Military Relations during World War I

Synopsis

The First World War marked a key turning point in America's involvement on the global stage. Isolationism fell, and America joined the ranks of the Great Powers. Civil-Military relations faced new challenges as a result. Ford examines the multitude of changes that stemmed from America's first major overseas coalition war, including the new selective service process; mass mobilization of public opinion; training diverse soldiers; civil liberties, anti-war sentiment and conscientious objectors; segregation and warfare; Americans under British or French command. Post war issues of significance, such as the Red Scare and retraining during demobilization are also covered.

Excerpt

No other aspect of a nation’s political health is as important as the relationship between its government and military. At the most basic level, the necessity of protecting the country from external and internal threats must be balanced by the obligation to preserve fundamental civil liberties. The United States is unique among nations, for it has successfully maintained civilian control of its military establishment, doing so from a fundamental principle institutionalized in its constitution and embraced by its citizens. The United States has thus avoided the military coup that elsewhere has always meant the end of representative government and the extinguishing of individual freedom. The American military is the servant of citizens, not their master.

This series presents the work of eminent scholars to explain as well as assess civil-military relations in U.S. history. The American tradition of a military controlled by civilians is venerable—George Washington established it when he accepted his commission from the Continental Congress in 1775—but we will see how military leaders have not always been sanguine about abdicating important decisions to those they regard as inexperienced amateurs. And while disagreements between the government and the military become more likely during wars, there is more to this subject than the institutional arrangements of subordination and obedience that mark the relationship of government authorities and the uniformed services. The public’s evolving perception of the military is also a central part of this story. In these volumes we will see explored the fine line between dissent and loyalty in war and peace and how the government and the armed forces have balanced civil liberties against national security. From the years of the American Revolution to the present, the resort to military justice has always been an option for safeguarding domestic welfare, but it has always been legally controversial and generally unpopular.

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