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Civil-military Relations



Civil-military relations can be looked upon as a classical theme for political scientists and sociologists. On the one hand this theme pertains to the complexities of decisionmaking at the political-military interface. On the other hand it covers the multi-layered interplay of armed forces and society. More recently civil-military relations also became a label for operational practices in conflict areas, where and when defense meets development and diplomacy.
In this course we will adress civil-military relations at all three levels: political decisonmaking, social context and organizational deployment. We’ll ask ourselves how the threat and use of force is framed by different stakeholders. How do politicians, citizens and soldiers succeed – or fail – to find common ground, in ways that serve the security interests of their own society and at the same time benefit the people living under the aegis of fragile states? What does the equation of legitimacy and effectiveness of expeditionary missions look like, given nowadays preoccupation with risks and casualties? To what degree do countries differ in their approach towards civil-military relations? What about the Dutch approach?
We’ll search for answers to questions like these in a selection of journal-articles. We’ll set these academic insights against the background of a more general kind of literature: a military insiders treatise on the historical development of ‘war amongst the people’ and a journalistic account of the heterogeneity and the sophistication of soldiering in the twenty-first century.

The aim of this course is to provide students with a well-informed, empirically grounded understanding of threefold civil-military relations.

Methods of Instruction

Lectures, discussion of assigned readings, presentations.

Study material

Literature (approx. 1000 pages):

  • Rupert Smith (2005/2008), The Utility of Force. The Art of War in the Modern World. New York: Vintage Books. [paperback]

  • Robert D. Kaplan (2008), Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts. The American Military in the Air, at Sea, and on the Ground, New York: Vintage Books.[paperback]

  • Selection of journal-articles.



Deadline final paper: 26 March 2011


All meetings are in room 13.10 building Stichthage The Hague
Tuesday 1 February from 20.15- 22.00
Tuesday 8 February from 20.15- 22.00
Tuesday 15 February from 20.15- 22.00
Saturday 19 February from 10.00-12.00 and 13.00-15.00
Tuesday 22 February from 20.15- 22.00
Tuesday 1 March from 20.15- 22.00
Tuesday 8 March from 20.15- 22.00
Tuesday 15 March from 20.15- 22.00
Tuesday 22 March from 20.15- 22.00