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With historical case studies ranging from the Revolutionary War to the war in Iraq, this new book shows how and why the US military is caught between two civilian masters – the President and Congress – in responding to the challenges of warfighting, rearmament, and transformation.
Charles Stevenson skilfully shows how, although the United States has never faced the danger of a military coup, the relations between civilian leaders and the military have not always been easy. Presidents have contended with military leaders who were reluctant to carry out their orders. Generals and Admirals have appealed to Congress for sympathy and support. Congressional leaders have tried to impose their own visions and strategies on the US armed forces. This triangular struggle has recurred time and again, in wartime and in efforts to reshape the military for future wars.
Illustrating this dual system of civilian military control in a series of case studies, this new volume starts from the way the Continental Congress ran the Revolutionary War by committee and concludes with the George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld efforts to transform the US military into a modern terrorist-fighting force. This detailed coverage shows how warriors and politicians interacted at key points in US history.
This book will be of great interest to all students of the US Military, government of the United States and of strategic and military studies in general.
"Civilian control of the American military has rarely been as severe a problem as in other countries. Behind this record of stability lies a fascinating and complicated story of constitutional, political, and bureaucratic maneuvers -- especially the unique relationship of the military to competing civilian masters, president and congress. A veteran observer in the Washington trenches, Stevenson tells this story with clarity, insight, and remarkably readable style." Prof. Richard Betts, Columbia University
‘Recent books on American civil-military relations at the highest level have tended to be so focused on a single theory or so to push a particular school of thought, ala’ the "crisis" school, that it takes more than several of them to teach a responsible course. But now, with a broad historical view and an unusual descriptive clarity, Professor Stevenson has provided a very insightful analysis as to why U.S. military leaders and their dual civilian masters are often at odds. And he has done so just in time to help interpret the growing contretemps, post-Iraq War.’
Prof. Don Snider, West Point US Military Academy
Part 1. Warfighting 1. Revolutionary War by Committee 2. Lincoln, Congress, and the Generals 3. Managing the Vietnam War Part 2. Rearmament 4. Creation of the Army and Navy in the 1790s 5. The Rearmament Fight before World War I 6. The Rearmament Fight before World War II Part 3. Military Transformation 7. Theodore Roosevelt and Military Modernization 8. Eisenhower and the New Look 9. The McNamara Revolution 10. Goldwater-Nichols 11. The Bush-Rumsfeld Paradigm Shift 12. Changing Patterns of Civilian Control