Document Type

Article

Abstract

Part I discusses A More Perfect Military: How the Constitution Can Make Our Military Stronger by law professor Diane Mazur, a new book that examines recent civil-military relations in the United States. Her carefully constructed work maintains that since the Vietnam era, the United States Supreme Court has hewn the armed forces from general society in order to create a separate—and more socially conservative—sphere. Part II discusses The Decline and Fall of the American Republic by constitutional scholar Bruce Ackerman, a wise and wide-ranging book that argues that the nation’s polity is in decline and that the increasingly politicized armed forces may ultimately lead to a coup. Part III asks where we go from here. The important books under discussion attribute a thinning of the civilian control over the military to legal and political decisions made over the past thirty years. They explain some of the most critical implications of this transformation and they offer sensible proposals about how to improve that critical relationship for the sake of enhancing the effectiveness of our armed forces and the vitality of our republic. But, neither work examines the evolving nature of great power politics since the end of the Cold War, the effects new technologies have on long-standing distinctions and borders, or the relative rise of nonstate actors including Al Qaeda—three sets of exogenous factors that inevitably drive changes in the civil-military relationship. So in the end, these books point to a more ambitious enterprise, reexamining the relationship between force and twenty-first century society.