The Gap

The directors of an ambitious project on civil-military relations detail their findings and plumb the divide between soldiers and civilians.

Issue: Fall 2000

Soldiers, Civilians and their Mutual Misunderstanding

IN A 1997 speech at Yale University, Secretary of Defense William Cohen claimed to see "a chasm developing between the military and civilian worlds, where the civilian world doesn't fully grasp the mission of the military, and the military doesn't understand why the memories of our citizens and civilian policy makers are so short, or why the criticism is so quick and so unrelenting." Cohen was voicing an age-old concern about America's relations with its military, one echoed in recent years by policymakers who fear that, absent an urgent threat to the nation's security, a democratic society will not nurture and support an adequate military, and that the military's loyalty to civilian authority will diminish accordingly.

You must be a subscriber of The National Interest to access this article. If you are already a subscriber, please activate your online access. Not a subscriber? Become a subscriber today!