Although the military as a social institution and war as a social process figured prominently in classical sociological theory, military sociology did not emerge as a field of empirical study until World War II. Then, for four decades, the field was dominated by scholars in the United States, whose research agenda reflected the concerns of the Cold War period. As we enter the twenty-first century, military sociology is being globalized. At the same time, the military institution is being transformed, as the end of the Cold War in Europe and the worldwide democratic revolution require nations to reconsider the structure, roles and missions of their armed forces. In this chapter we use movement toward a post-Cold War military as a developmental construct to describe the changes that have taken place in military organization and in civil-military relations. The military, in one form or another, played a major role in most societies. Furthermore, most industrial societies were also military powers. In many modern industrialized nations, such as Switzerland, Israel, and the Soviet Union, the military played a major integrative role in society. In developing nations, such as those of Latin America, the military has been the central actor in both domestic social control and modernization, with the social control function shifting from counter-insurgency to drug interdiction.
[...] In spite of its central political role, the armed forces in Latin America have not succeeded in “militarizing” or “mobilizing” society. Since 1978, the military has withdrawn from the government of nine Latin American countries. Generally, the armed forces represent a small percentage of the population, especially in relation to the political power they have held. Latin America spends a smaller fraction of national wealth on the military than any other region of the world and has a smaller proportion of men in the armed forces with the exception of sub- Saharan Africa. [...]
[...] The collapse of the Berlin Wall, the Warsaw Pact, and the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s decreased the willingness of Western nations to maintain large standing military forces, and turned the attention of military analysts to the nature of the force that was likely to evolve after the Cold War in Europe ended. The post-Cold War period is characterized by the dramatic decline of the mass armed force. The comparative analysis of 15 Western European nations that recognized universal military conscription as recently as 1991 revealed the following patterns: 1. [...]
[...] the weaknesses of state and government apparatus, the military's monopoly on violence, the inability of civilian leaders to act effectively and consistently, and the absence of institutional controls limiting military power, the military was able to move relatively unopposed into a position of authority in many Third World Nations. In fact the military, more than other agencies in developing nations, was able to gather resources and execute policies which contributed to economic development and modernization. It was often the only bureaucratic organization able to bring political stability and economic advancement to a society. [...]
[...] With the majority of armed forces making this transition, interstate conflict in decline, reduced budget appropriations, and the decline of security assistance from the U.S., the mission and rationale for maintaining a military in Latin America is of issue. Argentina has coped somewhat with this through its extensive peacekeeping commitment in Bosnia. However, throughout the region, Latin American countries will need to define a mission that will validate and legitimate the need for armed forces. Conclusion As Western industrial nations move toward a post-Cold War model, and Latin American (and other developing) nations move toward a post-praetorian model, the two regions have increased participation in multinational military operations other than war. [...]
[...] The third is the change in the purpose of the military, from a focus on fighting wars to missions that were at best secondary, such as humanitarian assistance, and frequently not regarded as military in the past, such as drug interdiction. Fourth, national militaries are increasingly being used in multinational forces and authorized, or at least legitimized, by entities beyond the nation state. The linkage between the military and the state has been moved in a trans-national direction. Latin American Military Forces The form and structure of military organization in Latin America has not radically changed over time. [...]
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