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US Grand Strategy: Civil-Army Relations To Support Geopolitics – OpEd


Political systems are a series of organizations that try to fulfill the collective goals of societies. These series constitute a whole, when associating one to another.  Political systems as a broad notion must be taken into consideration, but this is in contrast to how governmental systems function in some states. İn the Concept of Citizenship and Nation both are a crucial factor when it comes to displaying the relations among political systems, states, peoples and regimes. States exist as an intangible form of governmental system where the sovereignty was incarnated by using the legislative power, executive power and judicial power. Accordingly, the Parliament would make the laws, and government will mandate the executive part to the ratifying by the President and Council of Ministers.

Democratic systems have been defined as pluralist system where the civil-army relations have already developed a form of co-existence. Contemporary pluralist systems are not indifferent to different sectors of its society and how they are viewed so this paves the way for defending their view in peaceful way in such a way that they gain political power. Political mechanisms presumed John Lock’s theory is where the political power has been contracted with the consent of people, while disrupting the contract between them would lead to the erosion of their legitimacy and authority and the people would chose the path of resistance theoretically. Lock didn’t advocate the social contract and its previous positions was historical genuine, conversely, advocating social contract depends on the national sovereignty while giving assurances regarding the state order within the pluralist system.

Civil-Army relations ought to be defined in political mechanism where all duty and task were determined by itself, in this order, the state in its plural prism is trying to maintain the order to protect the citizen’s right. This approach has given political and ideological background for United States in order to carry its mission within the geopolitical upper hand in all corners of the world. Ideological background has taken advance of foreign territories inherently transformed in domestic policies of both United States and Britain. For instance the leftist people namely the liberals and conservators are stigmatized as a liberal classical in United States. When we look upon United Kingdom the Labourist Party is switching from leftist policy to liberal conservatism.

The Civil-army co-exists in echelons of state bureaucracy where it is approach by the liberal philosophy in order to give some advantages for States who want to be owner of some kind of imperium. In this place, the person has the ultimate power over its freedom and handing it over to politicians the politicians will give order to the police to strengthen the security inside or they could give order to the army to intervene outside the states border. This approach will   guarantee for the individual rights who will not be forced to choose any other views. Here the authoritarianism from the inside would be relegated by redesigning the outside.

Liberalism has developed in conjunction with democracy that has opened the way for constitutionalism.  The political systems that will not have such movements will be exposed as a dictatorial system; therefore the civil-army relations and their cohabitation would be an impediment by doing so. Constitutionalism has gradually exposed the liberal mindset in order to clarify the civil-army relations by admitting Lock’s philosophy which has infiltrated into modern states constitutions each day.  Concept of Constitutionalism has its roots in the western political systems where the Declarations of Right and Freedoms depend on Magna Charta Libertatum which has been declared by John of England (John Lackland ). After that, the Petition of Right has been enforced by restricting the taxations in accordance to the law of 1648. Habeas Corpus Act edict from 1679 paved the way for English citizens who will be no longer detained randomly; finally the Bill of Rights in 1689 has restricted the monarchy in order to render the mechanism of civil management. The basic aims of these developments have only helped in establishing the state Constitution and an active civil-army relation for British citizens.

Contemporary constitutional states have broken out throughout political parties while under the supervision of politicians. Political science literature emphasizes that the first political parties have come out in 1796 in the United States in order to clarify the question of who will be the head of the government. The famous political scientist Maurice Duverger who is a major contributor to our understanding of politics, said: “One, who is familiar with the constitutional law without being aware of the function of political parties, knows less than one who knows the essence of political parties without the function of constitutional law” Duverger underscores the civil politic mechanism and the cohabitation with army, because of the importance that the army plays in the sum of factors in the Constitutional Law.  By doing so, civil politicians who have to comply with Constitutional Law, will maintain their representation, political recruitment, politic determination, and political organization within political parties. Therefore the border between army and politics will be drawn and the balance will comes under protection by setting up linkage among politicians, parliament and several election committe.

American Exceptionalism On Formulation Of Civil-Army Relations

American system has been established upon three main pillars, while the constitution was determined on civil-army relations. The Constitution, Limited Governance and Sovereignty have been composed in a similar system. The Constitution has led the way in determining the mechanisms and principles, that would ward off the arbitrary decision-making process and that the civil politicians would come to power by the use of free elections. Limited Government is setting up the “Balance and Power” by splitting the federal structure into separation of powers. Sovereignty would be a representative for the nations being a guarantor for law making and for the executive and this will be judged in the implementation of this problem in court on the behalf of nation. By the way, the civil-army relations will find its trajectory under balanced state systems.

Samuel Huntington has explored the American Liberal System and made politics on behalf of the professional military. The essence of these politics is covering the cohabitation of civil and army under roof of same institution. The American Liberalism has approaching the army as being in conjunction with the political system under balanced circumstance. Marx Weber has mentioned before that the state was legitimate to use power and to use violence but the American Liberalism converted this notion into using soft power inside and using hard power outside. Using hard power outside is necessary for being an empire from the perspective of states but if desired to be global power on Earth the United States have to insist on that method by creating nominative mechanism to oversea the balance of power  on implementing the use of power. These notions helped to consolidate the liberal system by defining the army tasks and its missions on foreign land. Finally the American system must get rid of ideological clash between politics and army in their domestic political system.

The American system is offering the President the chance to maintain a leadership along with responsibility to impose the federal law. The President can do proposition for laws in the congress as well as convening congress by appointing a federal judge as well as diplomats. Additionally, the President is the supreme commander of the army.  The army is a gigantic bureaucratic mechanism where the president can exercise leadership along with its executive power. Therefore the United States have been named the center of pluralism and democracy with military bureaucracy and people who choose their government. The military and civil bureaucracy is going shoulder on shoulder, depending on a “Check and Balance” system. The concept of Checks and Balances is getting the upper hand in United States leading them to a golden age in 21 century by ending a civil-army dispute and it using its military capacity to shape the international system by using the Weber’s theory in Globalization Era.

Globalization is not only a process but it has political and cultural as well as technological aspect where all dilemmas and antithesis are include in the international relations. In this regard, the Globalization has been used as rhetorical by being conceptualized. In order to elaborate on the globalized system, several inputs, security measures and a number of criticisms should be analyzed very well. Herewith, many globalizations system have taken place in the history in which the concept of nation states  was one of them. The advent of nation state idea was started since 1789 and spread all over the world. By the way, all mankind have witnessed in their history nations and its bureaucratic armies in the constitutional process by determining the nations state center politics in which many security measures and strategies have been laid down. The globalization process has completed its nature toward the Concept of Nation States along with hegemonic power while  the international system was being ordered . American President wilson have already aimed this such a  system by offering “Self Determination Priniciples” under auspices of collective security system.  Of course the hegemonic power was for those who got rid of problem of civil-army relations already, as well using legitimate violence in accordance to Weber’s theory which says it’s necessary to set up an international collective security system. The League of Nation has been established in this way to provide international security. Therefore the system will shape security of other nations by balancing the civil-army relations on the inside.

The realism has some philosophical roots of which we can recall the some of the famous philosophers like Thucydides, Machiavelli and Hobbes. Moreover the realism has criticized the idealist collective security system and its civil-army relations in both internal and external field so the realist approach always refers to the “National Interest” when it comes to defining the power.  Morgenthau is the leading theorist and his views have advocated National Interest by using the hard power given by the army. Accordingly, the state must figure out its interests and goals in accordance to the international anarchic system where the competition and the misconception among states are inevitable. In this regard, the people have a trait namely the politic and that is why we’ve been fighting with others when we deemed it necessary. In this way the military would come out as primary tool to shape other nations and system in terms of state centric approach where the states would not share power with others because of the freedom, welfare and security. After that the people will find their trajectory in what has been determined as necessary in terms of social demand. Henceforth, the military will conquer others lands to take a breath and it will maintain the hegemonic act and its sphere of influence throughout political control on others sovereignty. Thereby, the realist approach have the military in the leading role in the political behavior patterns which places it in conflict with the Fukuyama thesis which overlooked the balance of the system during the Cold War, given the evolution of security in Middle East, Europe and Asia. The realism has explored on the globalization with the corollary of modernism. By the way, Glidden’s definition on globalization, the three volumes on which realism relies when it comes to military system during Cold War is second on list, then first volume and the third volume was about capitalism and industrial development. By the time of the Cold War, both USA and USSR have implemented the policy of intervention in Vietnam and Afghanistan. The globalization of Cold War in the concept of realism displayed in the United States the intervention for democracy and the USSR intervention and the Leninist ideology versus Capitalism. While the American realism has advocated for free economic market by establishing GATT, World Bank and IMF, the Soviet have chosen the military conquest without the economy policy. By contrast the American realism envisaged the economic welfare among nations in order to bolster their democracy and economic activity so therefore the Liberated Economic Activity would need to be retained by setting up Collective Security Community in this case NATO. NATO was a consequence of the globalization process in accordance to realist perspective.

Collective Security Community is using all of its tools to provide peace while impeding violence by clarifying the aggressor. After the Cold War period, NATO benefited the most having the upper hand while the Warsaw Pact has collapsed because of its totalitarian politics toward periphery. NATO has advocated the realist strategy to provide economics securities of nation states without controlling their political systems except on the military all over the world, while Russia and Warsaw Pact were using the state hierarchy by taking both their army and political systems under their control. The main difference between both structures was that NATO maintained its realist military strategy without politics unlike to Warsaw Pact.  September 11 terrorist attack have changed all the perception on United States vis-a-vis Civil-Army relations, president George Bush has reversed all foreign policy with a military  strategy that used hard power toward outside, for this Afghanistan has been choseen. The central base was enlarged by spreading toward Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and also in Tajikistan.  The military strategy was part of realist perspective that has been retained by the USA foreign policy in the Central Asia.  At this point Benjamin Franklin has already predicted in 1782 that “United States  would relieve the suffering and the persecution of other nations by increasing the expectation for democracy.” President John Adams has been foresighting the future of United States saying that “we will be the largest power on earth.” However in the wake of Second World War, President Truman was saying that “Other free nations of World are waiting our help to protect freedoms and democracy, all ongoing events let us to be part of extraordinary responsibility.” President Clinton has pursued liberal economic policies to the entrenchment of United States military strategies. After the terrorist attack on September 11, George Bush has made use of military strategy which has been composed by Halford John Mckinder. Mckinder purposed land sovereignty theory where Europe, Asia and Africa have constituted the Iceland of the World. At this point the Central Region was Volga, Siberia and Himalaya’s in concept of Hearthland theory, in order to be hegemon in Central Region, Easter Europa and Balkans should be taken under Control. Since 1996 Dayton Agreement ending with Bosnian War and 1999 NATO Kosovo Operation has given the advantage to the United States transforming it into a Super Power in Eastern Europe during Clinton’s presidential term. Therefore the security of Eastern Europe have come out but by doing so during Clinton Era, after that  President Bush has attempted to send army in Afghanistan in an attempt to balance the civil-army relations by using Halford John Mckinder theory which proposed being global power militarily.


Civil Politics is exposing Democracy, Rule of Law, Human Rights in Conjuction with Presidental system with Parlamentary system if there is concordance with army of nation. For instance United states doing these harmonies with Supremacy of President over execution depending on Check and Balance. France have found solution of semi-presidental system by restricting of Prime minister’s maneuver room and have increased President power relatively on behalf of Nation. Samuel Huntington have explained civil-army relations in Context of “balance and obedience” for each other. Balance and Obedience pave the way for Defence and Budget policy to be easy between Civil and Army.  Army Commanders always working and get along with Politicians on determining foreign policies  American system have teaching us the good coordination between army and civilians will give upper hand for being global power throughout reading Geopolitical and Geostrategical realities.

*Mehmet Bildik is a political scientist and an expert on military and strategic affairs.

Original published in Academic Perspective. The article is being republished at the author’s request.


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