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Fighting for Rights

Military Service and the Politcs of Citizenship

Ronald R. Krebs

Publication Year: 2006

Leaders around the globe have long turned to the armed forces as a "school for the nation." Debates over who serves continue to arouse passion today because the military's participation policies are seen as shaping politics beyond the military, specifically the politics of identity and citizenship. Yet how and when do these policies transform patterns of citizenship? Military service, Ronald R. Krebs argues, can play a critical role in bolstering minorities' efforts to grasp full and unfettered rights. Minority groups have at times effectively contrasted their people's battlefield sacrifices to the reality of inequity, compelling state leaders to concede to their claims. At the same time, military service can shape when, for what, and how minorities have engaged in political activism in the quest for meaningful citizenship.

Employing a range of rich primary materials, Krebs shows how the military's participation policies shaped Arab citizens' struggles for first-class citizenship in Israel from independence to the mid-1980s and African Americans' quest for civil rights, from World War I to the Korean War. Fighting for Rights helps us make sense of contemporary debates over gays in the military and over the virtues and dangers of liberal and communitarian visions for society. It suggests that rhetoric is more than just a weapon of the weak, that it is essential to political exchange, and that politics rests on a dual foundation of rationality and culture.

Published by: Cornell University Press

Series: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 3-8


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pp. vii-10

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pp. ix-xi

This book is about militaries and about minorities, but ultimately it is about communities. Political communities often establish high barriers to entry, to nurture the mutual trust that sustains exchange and to ensure that membership remains valuable and desirable. Intellectual communities, however, require...

Archival Sources and Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Chapter 1. A School for the Nation?

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pp. 1-15

An ideological world and over half a century apart, Theodore Roosevelt and Leonid Brezhnev had little in common, but both proclaimed the social virtues of military service. Roosevelt and his fellow Progressives hoped that military training would “Americanize” the mass of newcomers who had recently...

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Chapter 2. The Power of Military Service

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pp. 16-41

Statesmen and scholars alike have long asserted that the military exerts a powerful impact on the surrounding political community—not only through its intervention in domestic politics or its performance in war but also by virtue of its internal design, specifically its manpower or participation policy...

Part I. The IDF and the Making of Israel: The Jewish State and Its Arab Minorities

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pp. 43-59

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pp. 44-49

On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the longtime head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel.1 This was to be not just a political entity with a Jewish majority or a haven for oppressed Jews but, in the words of the new state’s Declaration of Independence, a Jewish state. Its...

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Chapter 3. Confronting a Land with People

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pp. 50-68

It was hardly inevitable that the Druze would carve out a distinctive path toward citizenship, separate from their fellow Arabs, in the new state of Israel. The Druze had long exhibited particularistic tendencies, but there was no “natural” alliance between the Zionists and the Druze. It is true that the...

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Chapter 4. Two Roads to Jerusalem

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pp. 69-93

The newly formed State of Israel and its Arab citizens eyed each other warily after 1948. The young state was surrounded by adversaries, and it doubted the loyalty of nearly one-fifth of its population. During the war, the IDF had proven itself, but it remained undermanned, undertrained, and underequipped...

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Chapter 5. Military Rites, Citizenship Rights, and Republican Rhetoric

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pp. 94-108

Long neglected and often manipulated, Christian and Muslim citizens made some headway in the 1980s because they controlled a critical asset: votes. After the Likud unseated Labor in 1977, the Jewish Israeli electorate was severely divided. By the early 1980s, the mainstream Zionist parties were...

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pp. 109-113

Israel undoubtedly remains a Jewish state in the deepest sense of the word.1 Its central symbols—from the menorah that is the state’s official emblem to the Star (or Shield) of David that is pictured on the national flag to “Ha-Tikvah” (The Hope) that serves as the national anthem—are drawn from...

Part II. The Perpetual Dilemma: Race and the U.S. Armed Forces

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pp. 115-131

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pp. 116-121

As the U.S. Civil War came to a close, black and white Americans alike recognized that their relations had been radically reshaped by the war and, more specifically, by blacks’ service in the Union army. In 1864 one U.S. senator observed that the “logical result” of blacks’ military role was that “the black man...

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Chapter 6. Great War, Great Hopes, and the Perils of Closing Ranks

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pp. 122-145

Woodrow Wilson’s election in 1912 marked the return of the South to the center stage of American politics. Born in Virginia and raised in Georgia, Wilson had been president of Princeton University, a bastion of the Southern elites, and he counted four Southerners among his closest advisers. Although Wilson...

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Chapter 7. Good War, Cold War, and the Limits of Liberalism

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pp. 146-177

What E. H. Carr famously called the “twenty years’ crisis” ended in September 1939.1 Europe was again at war, and it would not be long before the United States intervened in that conflict and before the building tensions with Japan came to a head. World War II was a defining experience for Americans....

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pp. 178-180

With the intense passions of the Civil War swiftly receding, and with numerous voices calling for sectional reconciliation and for equal honor to be bestowed on both sides’ soldiers, Frederick Douglass was livid. Just six years after the war’s conclusion, in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, he...

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Chapter 8. Unusual Duties, Usual Rights: Soldiering and Citizenship

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pp. 181-196

Since Bill Clinton’s first days in the Oval Office, the question of whether gays should be permitted to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces has periodically roiled the American political scene. On the surface, the debate has pivoted on claims about the effects of sexual orientation on unit cohesion and...


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pp. 197-256


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pp. 257-265

E-ISBN-13: 9780801459832
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801444654

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2006

Edition: 1
Series Title: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs