The proper role of the military in transitions to democracy
Smith, Jason Gabriel
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Civil-military relations in transitioning democracies have been a constant source of frustration for scholars. Current literature on the subject insists on the complete subordination of the military to civilian authorities immediately post transition. However, historical analysis of failed transitions and military coups shows that this may not be the best method for success. Historical analysis of Turkey, Bolivia, and Brazil shows that subordination often leads to alienation and the perception of a threat from the civilian government. This threat unifies the military institution and makes the armed forces a serious competitor for political power. Analysis of the military as government in these cases shows that once in power, the unity of the military is markedly reduced by the return of factionalism as rivals compete for power. Including the military in the new government post-transition and using this phenomenon to their advantage will provide new democracies with a far superior chance for success.