Getting Relevant: Political Education and Military Ethics




This study opens with the proposition that students attending the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) have not accepted that institution's curricular theme -- the conjoining of political and military perspectives at the senior level of military leadership. This rejection is traced to the American tradition of antimilitarism and its source in the writings of the Antifederalist opponents of the Constitution of 1787. The views of both Antifederalists and Federalists are contrasted as revolutionary zeal and sober reflection. Despite the adoption of the Constitution, the Antifederalist doctrine of hostility to a standing army survived the intervening two centuries as a respectable opinion and found popular proponents. This opinion shaped the public interpretation of the paradigmatic event of modern U.S. civil-military relations: the Truman-MacArthur controversy. Since World War II, respected authorities of academia, civil government, and the U.S. military have espoused a preference for the isolation of the military from political matters and this preference has informed the current generation of U.S. military officers. General Eisenhower's wise dissent from this trend is not widely heeded. The essay concludes with a call for the introduction of instruction on civil-military relations within the USAWC curriculum which will revive the great tradition of the American warrior-statesman and which will inculcate an ethic in the student body supportive of our Constitutional heritage and the purposes of the USAWC as the prerequisite of its pedagogical success.



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