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Opportunities and Legitimacy in Civil-Military Relations

Thu, August 29, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Hilton, Columbia 7

Abstract

Scholars of civil-military relations frequently invoke the concept of opportunities to explain changes in civilian control of the military over time. However, little work has been done to understand what an opportunity for military involvement in civilian politics actually is, some saying that it is impossible to know what affects the concept but that it is important. This study argues that opportunities are best understood as relative shifts or disparities in legitimacy between civilian governments and the military. Regression analysis demonstrates a strong connection between low civilian legitimacy and military intervention, or threatened intervention, in civilian politics. Furthermore, qualitative analysis of the Thailand case shows how vital legitimacy is to the actions of the military. This theoretical revision increases generalizability from previous works, advances our understanding of civil-military relations, and is immensely beneficial for analysts and policy makers who can now use a widely available measure to better understand domestic military behavior throughout the world.

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