restricted access Military Effectiveness: Why Society Matters
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~ Stephen Peter Rosen mectiveness Why Society Matters ~ D o soldiers from all societies from all cultures fight the same way in time of war? Will the armies from different societies be just as good as one another if they are given the same material resources? Political scientistsand policymakers have been interested in these questions for many years. They have regained prominence as the economic growth of Asian countries has led to further questions about the extent to which that economic power might be translated into military power. For policymakers, the question created by the rise of non-European powers is: "How powerful will they be?" For political scientists, the question is: "Is there a universal science that explains the generation of military power in all countries , without regard to their internal societies?" The answer given by the neo-realist school of thought, perhaps the dominant mode of thought in security studies, is "yes." This article challenges that conclusion, with arguments that touch upon both political science and policy debates. Specifically,this articleis about the impact of social structures on the amount of military power that can be generated by nations from different cultures. I argue that social structures can affect the generation of military power in two ways. First, people in a political unit can identify themselves with social structures in ways that can create divisive loyalties within the political unit. This can create fissures in the unit that reduce the effective military power of the unit as a whole. Moreover, internal divisions can increase the amount of military power needed to maintain internal order, reducing the surplus of offensive military power that can be projected abroad. The fissures in the unit can create defensive vulnerabilities that can be exploited by invaders. Second, the social structures that create fissures in the unit at large may extend to the military organizations of that unit. Under circumstances that can be specified, those social structures can carry over into the society's military organizations in ways that reduce the amount of military power that can be generated from a given amount of material resources. Military organizations may try to insulate and divorce themselves from the divisions created by the social structures Stephen Peter Rosen is Associate Professor of Government and Associate Director of the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. The author would like to thank Samuel Huntington, Peter Katzenstein, and Randall Schweller for their very valuable criticism of the ideas in this essay. International Security, Vol. 19, No. 4 (Spring 1995),pp. 5-31 0 1995by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. International Security 19:4 I 6 in the political unit. But this separation from society comes at a price. It may create distrust of the military, when the military rejects the social structures accepted by the society as a whole: the military may then be seen as an alien elementby that society.This will generatecivil-militaryfriction that will reduce the military power, not of the military, but of the state as a whole. The neo-realist argument that all states, or all great powers, will be driven by international competition to organize their militaries functionallyin ways that erase the differences in their social origins is empirically incorrect. This error is driven by the assumption that states care only or most about survival. But states also care about the way of life embodied in their socialstructures. Often, they fight precisely in order to defend that way of life. If states fight for the survival of their society,they may be uncomfortable giving the domestic monopoly of force to a military organization that is alien to that society. States may be forced or may choose to be less powerful than they might otherwise be, by adopting military organizations that reflect the dominant structures of the society. I identify two independent variables: the dominant social structures of a country, and the degree to which the military organizationsdivorce themselves from their society. The dependent variable is the amount of offensive and defensive national military power that can be generated from a given quantity of material resources. It is important to be clear about what this...


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