Legitimacy and Commitment in the Military

By Reuven Gal; Thomas C. Wyatt | Go to book overview

2
Between Social Legitimation and
Moral Legitimacy in Military
Commitment

Hillel Levine

The connections postulated to exist between legitimacy and commitment are by no means new. 1 That there will be a greater commitment to the goals of the state, particularly those undertaken in its war efforts, if the citizen can identify with those goals and justify them is at the foundation of diverse political philosophies. More recently, the link between legitimacy and commitment has received added support from experimental social psychological data. 2 What poses new and vexing problems, however, are the precarious sources of that legitimacy.

Models of civic virtue, previewed in the classical period, during the Renaissance, and in revolutionary England, include the role and detail the duties of the citizen-soldier. 3 Mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, and armed peasants were always looked upon with suspicion for reasons other than their questionable reliability. Industrialization and the application of new technologies to agriculture increased the manpower and resources available for the developing centralized states to maintain standing armies and to wage war. At the same time, higher literacy and political consciousness among soldiers, as illustrated by the French troops recruited and trained during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, pointed to the military value of commitment based upon the soldiers' belief in the legitimacy of

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