Small Wars Journal

Book Excerpt: Crisis, Agency, and Law in US Civil-Military Relations

Book Excerpt: Crisis, Agency, and Law in US Civil-Military Relations

Originally Posted by the Modern War Institute

MWI Editor’s note: MWI contributor Maj. Dan Maurer has a new book, Crisis, Agency, and Law in US Civil-Military Relations, scheduled for release by Palgrave Macmillan Press next month. The e-book will be released later this month. Both editions are available for pre-order now. An excerpt of the book has been publish on Foreign Policy‘s “Best Defense” blog.

American strategic civil-military relationships are haunted by an inability to diagnose whether they are pathological or healthy.

Neither the parties themselves nor the public can accurately and objectively unravel whether certain actions or inactions are symptoms of a diseased interaction, or whether they are sure signs of a proper and well-ordered immune system, a proper — if nuanced and unequal — collaboration. The phrase “crisis” is too often tossed around, despite a dearth of evidence pointing toward the much-feared coup, and no unambiguous “winner” or “loser” in the resultant clash. That is, unless we have an objective and neutral framework for understanding what those relationships actually are in form and function.

Crisis, Agency, and Law in US Civil-Military Relations develops a responsible and practical method for evaluating the success, failure, or “crisis” of American civil-military relations among its political and uniformed elite. The author’s premise is that currently there is no objectively fair way for the public at large or the strategic-level elites to assess whether the critical and often obscured relationships between Generals, Admirals, and Statesmen function as they ought to under the US constitutional system. By treating these relationships―in form and practice―as part of a wider principal (civilian)-agency (military) dynamic, the book tracks the “duties”―care, competence, diligence, confidentiality, scope of responsibility―and perceived shortcomings in the interactions between US civilian political authorities and their military advisors in both peacetime and in war.

Read the full excerpt Foreign Policy‘s “Best Defense” blog.

Read Dan Maurer’s Small Wars Journal articles.