Armies and Politics in Latin America

Armies and Politics in Latin America

Armies and Politics in Latin America

Armies and Politics in Latin America

Excerpt

Ten years ago, when the first edition of Armies and Politics in Latin America was published, no one doubted that the armed forces were central to Latin American political life; they ruled directly in most nations of the hemisphere. Yet despite the military's obvious political role, there was no synthetic or comparative book to analyze the different ways in which the armed forces affected Latin America's politics. I first brought together the essays in Armies and Politics to illustrate diverse approaches to a subject that clearly deserved more systematic attention than it was receiving.

In the mid-1980s, as J. Samuel Fitch points out in his introductory essay, armies no longer rule directly in most countries of Latin America. Even while the armed forces have been withdrawing from outright political leadership, however, the literature analyzing the political role of the Latin American military has been greatly enriched. Increasingly sophisticated studies have been done on the political beliefs of military officers, on the military coup as a political process, on the processes of policy-making under military rule and the policy impact of military regimes, and on the problems of transition from military back to civilian rule. Research conducted during the last several years has emphasized sharp differences in the political role of the armed forces in various sociopolitical contexts. The importance of the interaction between institutional and contextual factors in shaping the military's involvement in Latin American political life has become increasingly evident.

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