Small Wars Journal

Soldiers in Dark Times: Military Education, Ethics, and Political Science

Soldiers in Dark Times: Military Education, Ethics, and Political Science by Celestino Perez, Jr., Political Violence @ a Glance

Political scientists, particularly those who study high-stakes situations wherein lives and regimes hang in the balance, tell causal stories. They proffer compelling (if contestable) accounts for why insurgent groups succeed or not, why peacebuilders often fail to establish peace, and why strong states tend to lose wars against weaker adversaries. These scholars provide explanations about how an assemblage of causal forces (whether structural, institutional, ideational, or psychological) combine to create politically important results and patterns.

These stories have the capacity to improve the real-world decisions of political leaders, soldiers, developmental aid workers, and citizens. This is true especially when political scientists posit counterintuitive or otherwise hidden aspects of a situation. Hence, reading political science can usefully complicate and enrich practitioners’ thinking about how the world works.

My community of practice, the military, demonstrably needs this enrichment…

Read on.