POL S 430 A: Civil-Military Relations in Democracies

Meeting Time: 
MW 2:30pm - 4:20pm
SMI 307
Joint Sections: 
LSJ 431 A
Elizabeth Kier

Syllabus Description:



Winter 2019



M/W, 230-420, Smith 307


Prof. E. Kier

office hrs: Mon., 430-600, Gowen 129; ekier@uw.edu


Protecting a democracy from foreign threats can demand the creation of a powerful military. Yet the creation of a powerful military can undermine the democracy that the military is designed to protect. How do, and how should, democracies manage the relationship between the civilians and the military? In exploring civilian and military perspectives, this course addresses issues in U.S. civil-military relations such as the draft versus an all-volunteer force and the “revolt of the generals” during the war in Iraq. The course also examines issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation in the military. We will focus on U.S. civil-military relations, but students can use their papers to explore civil-military relations in other democracies. 


Go to "Files" on the left to find:

  • Reading assignments  
  • Discussion questions for reading assignments  
  • Syllabus 


Readings:  The books are on reserve at Odegaard and are available for purchase at the University Bookstore:

  • Samuel Huntington, The Soldier and the State, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957.
  • Sherie Mershon & Steven Schlossman, Foxholes and Color Lines: Desegregating the U.S. Armed Forces, Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.
  • Lorry Fenner & Marie deYoung, Women in Combat: Civic Duty or Military Liability?, Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2001.

Daily reading of the New York Times is also required. For the print version at the reduced college rate, stop by or call the By George Newsstand 206.543.4087. This rate also provides unlimited digital access. For digital subscriptions at the reduced college rate, see NYTimes.com/UWashington.


Requirements:  Two research proposals and a research paper (25%); two exams (25% each); and class participation (25%). Students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the newspaper, readings, and discussion questions. They will also regularly give presentations on the readings.

Exams must be taken on the scheduled date. To avoid sanction for missed exams or late papers, students must submit a written note from a physician (or another recognized authority). Note penalties for late papers. Students must complete all requirements to pass the course.

Contact Disability Resources for Students: 448 Schmitz Hall, 543-8924 (voice), 543-8925 (TTY), 616-8379 (fax), uwdss@uw.edu to request accommodation. With a letter from their office, we can easily arrange accommodations.

For additional departmental policies see: http://www.polisci.washington.edu/Dept_and_Univ_Policies.pdf



This course focuses on U.S. civil military relations but there are many issues that we do not discuss, and other democracies grapple with similar questions. The paper provides an opportunity to explore one of these additional issues. It can focus on the United States or other democracies.


Choosing a topic:   You have lots of flexibility in choosing a topic. We will discuss it in class and I will often suggest topics. Here are some possible topics: 

  • Why did the Israeli Defense Forces quickly accept the open integration of gays and lesbians in the early 1990s while the U.S. military actively and successfully resisted this change in 1993?
  • Compare the informal influence (Huntington’s term) of the British and U.S. military. Discuss the implications of these findings for civil military relations in each democracy.
  • Does military service (combat and non combat) influence legislators’ voting records on the use of force and the defense budget?
  • Compare President Lincoln’s conflict with General George McClennan with President Truman’s conflict with General Douglas MacArthur.


Finding sources:  The paper assignment requires significant research (it is not an opinion piece). I encourage you to consult the Suzzallo reference librarians for help in locating sources. You can email Emily Keller (emkeller@uw.edu), the political science librarian, for an appointment. She can introduce you to or refresh your knowledge of search engines and help you locate sources. You are expected to cite 10-12 sources; no more than 15% can be websites.


Writing well:  Your paper must be well written and carefully edited (and will be assessed on both content and style). An indispensable guide to writing is Strunk & White’s, Elements of Style. You can also consult the PoliSci Writing Center. http://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/.

Consult http://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/plag.html if you are uncertain about the meaning of plagiarism and how to avoid it. The University has a license agreement with Vericite, an educational tool that helps identify plagiarism. You will submit your research paper through this service. The Vericite Report indicates the amount of original text in your work and whether all material that you quoted, paraphrased, summarized, or used from another source is appropriately referenced.

Papers should be 10-12 pages (2500–3000 words, not including bibliography). Put word count on first page. Include citations and a bibliography and consult stylebooks to ensure that you use the correct format. http://guides.lib.washington.edu/content.php?pid=69943&sid=517698


Mon, January 7:  Introduction


Wed, January 9: Liberalism, Democracy, & the Establishment of the U.S. Military

Richard H. Kohn, “The Constitution & National Security: The Intent of the Framers,” in The United
States Military under the Constitution of the United States,
edited by Richard H. Kohn, NYU Press, 1991.

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay, Federalist papers nos. 3, 4, 7, 8, 24, 26, 34, 41, in The Federalist Papers, edited by Clinton Rossiter, NY: Penguin, 1991.  


Mon, January 14: The Rise of a Professional Military, Part 1: Samuel Huntington

*Samuel Huntington, The Soldier and the State, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957, pp. 7-97.


Wed, January 16: The Rise of a Professional Military, Part 2: Morris Janowitz 

Morris Janowitz, The Professional Soldier, Free Press, 1971, pp. 3-74 (skim pp. 54-74), 417-40.

Peter Maass, “Professor Nagl’s War,” New York Times Magazine, Jan 11, 2004.


Mon, January 21:  No class: Martin Luther King Jr. Day


Wed, January 23: The Cold War: Decisions about the Use of Force

(review Huntington, The Soldier & the State, pp. 59-70)

Richard Betts, Soldiers, Statesmen, & Cold War Crises, Harvard Univ. Press, 1977, 1-15, 96-138, 214-224.


Mon, January 28: Huntington’s Objective Control & Decisions about the Use of Force

(review Betts’s two forms of influence, direct and indirect)

Eliot Cohen, "The Unequal Dialogue: The Theory and Reality of Civil-Military relations," in Soldiers and Civilians: The Civil Military Gap, edited by Peter D. Feaver and Richard H. Kohn, MIT Press, 2001. 

Bob Woodward, excerpts from “Military thwarted president seeking choice in Afghanistan,” Washington Post, Sept 27, 2010).

Robert Scales, “A war the Pentagon doesn’t want,” Washington Post, Sept 6, 2013; & David Barno, “U.S. war decisions rightfully belong to elected civilian leaders, not the military,” Washington Post, Sept 13, 2013.

Mark Landler and Helene Cooper, “White House Wants Pentagon to Offer More Options on North Korea,” NYT, Feb 1, 2018.


Wed, January 30:  U.S. Military Crises in the 1980s & 1990s:  “Reluctant Warriors”?

Deborah Avant, “Are the Reluctant Warriors out of Control,” Security Studies (winter 1996/97): 51-90.   Kenneth J. Campbell, “Once Burned, Twice Cautious: Explaining the Weinberger-Powell Doctrine,” Armed Forces and Society (spring 1998): 357-374. 


Mon, February 4:  CLASS CANCELLED


Wed, February 6: First Exam

Note location: Political Science Computer room, Smith 220


Mon, Feb 11: CLASS CANCELLED: read my comments & contact ekier@uw.edu to arrange phone call 

Small group discussion of research proposal  

Use your UW email to send your proposal to the course listserve by 2pm on Sun., Feb 10 (the day prior to class). The proposal (150-250 words) is meant as a first-cut at a possible topic. It should be well written but does not need to be well developed. It should state your puzzle. Or, if uncertain what you want to research, briefly discuss two or three topics. Group members will read and discuss each other’s proposals.


Wed, February 13:  Military Service: the Draft or an All-Volunteer Force?

Background: “Conscription in America,” from The Report of the President’s Commission on an All Volunteer Armed Force (the “Gates Commission”). Macmillan Company, 1970.

Edward M. Kennedy, “Inequities in the Draft,” New York Times, February 24, 1971.

Joseph A. Califano, Jr., “Doubts about an All-Volunteer Army,” reply by Roger T. Kelley, The New Republic (March 3, 1973); and Califano’s rejoinder, The New Republic (April 21, 1973).

John M. Swomley, “Why the Draft Should Go,” The Nation (July 11, 1969).

Thomas B. Curtis, “The Draft; Unjust and Unnecessary,” The Forensic Quarterly (May 1968)

Milton Friedman, “Why Not a Volunteer Army?” New Individualist (spring 1967): 3-9.

Charles B. Rangel, The US military is as unequal as America. Want a fair fight? Reinstate the draft, The Guardian, Sept 30, 2014.

David Barno, “A New Moral Compact: A military draft that could actually work,” Foreign Policy, Nov 9, 2012.

Schafer, Amy. Generations of War: the Rise of the Warrior Caste and the All-Volunteer Force (excerpts), Center for American Progress, 2017.


Mon, February 18: No class:  President’s Day


Wed, February 20: Post-Cold War: A Crisis in Civil-Military Relations?

Richard Kohn, “Out of Control,” The National Interest (spring 1994): 3-17.

Exchange on Civil Military Relations with Colin Powell, John Lehman, William Odom, Samuel Huntington and Richard Kohn, The National Interest (summer 1994): 23-31.

Edward Luttwak, “Washington’s Biggest Scandal,” Commentary (May 1994): 29-33.

Daniel Rabil, “Impeach my commander in chief,” Washington Times, November 9, 1998.

Lt. Cdr. Bryan McGrath, “Injecting the military into politics,” Washington Times, November 13, 1998.

Sharon K. Weiner,  “Military Advice for Political Purpose,” in Mission Creep: the Militarization of U.S. Foreign Policy, edited by Gordon Adams and Shoon Murray, Georgetown University Press, 2014.


Mon, February 25   Rumsfeld & Iraq: “The Revolt of the Generals”

Richard H. Kohn, “The Erosion of Civilian Control of the Military in the United States Today,” Naval War College Review (summer 2002): 9-37. 

MacKubin Thomas Owens, “Rumsfeld, the Generals, and the State of U.S. Civil-military Relations,” Naval War College Review (autumn 2006).

Peter Spiegel, “President comes to the defense of Rumsfeld,” Los Angeles Times, April 15, 2006.

Scott Shane, “A Break with military tradition,” Star Tribune (Minneapolis) April 16, 2006.

Dean Godsen, “Why America’s generals are out for revenge,” Times (London), April 4, 2006.

E.J. Dionne, Jr. “Roots of the uprising,” Washington Post, April 18, 2006.

Max Boot, “A General disgrace,” Los Angeles Times, April 19, 2006.


Cancelled: If interested in topic, focus on Holsti; not required

Civilians & the Military: A Dangerous and Widening Gap?

Thomas E. Ricks, “The Widening Gap between the U.S. Military and U.S. Society,” The Atlantic Monthly (July 1997): 66-78.

Ole R. Holsti, “Of Chasms & Convergences: Attitudes and Beliefs of Civilians and Military Elites,” in Soldiers and Civilians, edited by Peter D. Feaver and Richard H. Kohn, MIT Press, 2001, 15-63 & 90-99.

Diane H. Mazur, “The R.O.T.C. Myth,” NYT (Opinions) Oct 24, 2010.  

Thomas E. Ricks, “Why We Should Get Rid of West Point,” Washington Post (Opinions) April 19, 2009.

Phillip Carter and David Barno, “Military bases are our most exclusive gated communities — and that hurts veterans, “ NYT (Opinions), Nov 8, 2013.


Wed, February 27: Small group discussion of research paper 

Use your UW email to send a description of your research paper to the class listserve by 2pm on Tues., Feb 26 (the day prior to class). The proposal (250-350 words) should be well written and well developed. It should 1) specify your puzzle; 2) outline how you are addressing it; 3) survey the evidence you have found; and 4) list 10-12 sources that you have or will consult. Group members will read and discuss each proposal.


Mon, March 4: Democratic Values:  Race in the U.S. Military

*Sherie Mershon and Steven Schlossman, Foxholes and Color Lines: Desegregating the U.S. Armed Forces, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998, pp. 1-134.


Wed, March 6: Democratic Values: Open integration of gays & lesbians in the U.S. Military

Maj. Arthur J. Corbett, “Disband the Marine Corps,” Marine Corps Gazette (January 1993).

Lt. Col. Michael R. Lehnert, “The Homosexual Assault: A Clash of Values, Marine Corps Gazette (June 1993.

Capt Mark Cantrell, “No Place for Homosexuals,” Marine Corps Gazette (April 1993): 65-73.

Cmdr Eugene Gomulka, “Why No Gays,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings (December 1992): 44-46. 

Capt. J. F. Kelly, “A Right to Serve?” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings (May 1993): 81-84.

Maj. W. DeCamp, “Standing Up for Truth,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings (September 1993): 89-90.

Maj. M. Slater, “Losing the Next War,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings (November 1993): 46-49.

Merrill A. McPeak, “Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Change,” New York Times, March 5, 2010.

Brent Staples, “Tinkering at the Margins of Anti-Gay Bigotry,” New York Times, November 8, 1999.

Aaron Belkin, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Is the Gay Ban Based on Military Necessity?” Parameters: The U.S. Army War College Quarterly (summer 2003): 108-18.

Barry Goldwater, “Ban on Gays is Attempt to Stall the Inevitable,” Washington Post, January 6, 1999.   

Alan K. Simpson, “Bigotry that hurts our military,” Washington Post, March 14, 2007.


Mon, March 11:  Research paper presentations

         Submit research paper on Canvas by 2pm and bring a hard copy for submission to class.       

         Note instructions on length, format, and sources.            

Everyone will give a five-minute presentation on the main findings in their research papers. Practice prior to class to ensure that you speak for no longer than five minutes. It is important to leave time for questions.


Wed, March 13Democratic Values: Women in Combat in the U.S. Military

*Lorry Fenner & Marie deYoung, Women in Combat: Civic Duty or Military Liability?, Georgetown, 2001.

Lizette Alvarez, “G.I. Jane Stealthily Breaks the Combat Barrier, New York Times, August 16, 2009.


Tues, March 19, 230-420 pmSecond exam

Note location: PoliSci Computer room, Smith 220.

Catalog Description: 
Explores issues of civil-military relations in the United States including debates about the garrison state hypothesis; military advice on the use of force; the civil-military "gap"; and issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation in the military. Offered: jointly with LSJ 431.
Department Requirements: 
International Relations Field
International Security Option
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:08pm