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The Hidden Promise of Huntington's The Soldier and the State: Military Professionals as Guardians of the Republic

Submitted by Rob Atkinson on Tue, 10-28-2014
Rob Atkinson
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Rob Atkinson
Florida State University College of Law
425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1601
(850) 644-4503

This paper is the first step in developing a neo-classical theory of the military officer corps as a functionalist profession. It unpacks the central paradox of Samuel P. Huntington’s The Soldier and the State: Why does an account that begins with a call for a highly professionalized officer corps to obey the orders of any legally legitimate civilian regime end with the promise that humanity can achieve both security and redemption if all the nations of the world adopt core military values? How can “militarize the military,” Huntington’s solution to the classical question of civilian/ military relations – Plato’s “Who guards the guardians?” – come to mean “militarize the civilian”? The answer is that military values, seen as a proper subset of functionalist professional values, come to the same as the values of classical republicanism: the fullest and widest possible development of all forms of human excellence or, in a more modern phrase, no child left behind.
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