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21/11/2010 | Questionnaire on Ethnic Politics, Defense and Security in the Western Hemisphere

Martin Edwin Andersen

This e-mail is part of a canvas to see whom among you might have interest about and/or information on this important subject, or could pass this on to a colleague who might be interested in lending a hand.

 

Dear Colleague,

I am preparing a study on "Ethnic Politics, Defense and Security in the Western Hemisphere."

This e-mail is part of a canvas to see whom among you might have interest about and/or information on this important subject, or could pass this on to a colleague who might be interested in lending a hand. 

Among the proposed key outcomes of the study are a better understanding about:

     1) how civilian regimes maintain state authority in the context of ethnic (communal) fragmentation;

     2) the extent to which the ethnic makeup of a nation-state’s military and police strengthen or jeopardize sense of individual and community security;

     3) the extent to which the composition of military and police forces reflect larger political controversy over relative positions of various ethnic communities in regional nation-states, and

     4) how ethnicity shapes perceptions about and the role of the military and defense forces.

The research parameters of this study include:

    • The importance of national security policy in determining ethnic frontiers and conspicuousness in unstable multi-ethnic societies.
    • The impact of ethnic strategies in the personnel policies of the security establishment, including means used to ensure both loyalty and national service.
    • The extent to which military policy represents elite manipulation of ethnicity.
    • The historical and contemporary effect of the pull of class, region and ethnicity on the allegiance of the military and the police.
    • The degree to which ethnic identification serves to limit national security planning, and the extent to which its very fact means such planning needs to account for it. 
    • The role played by the military in the operation of the security core of the state vis-à-vis ethnic issues, including the differentiation between the army on one hand, and the navy and air force on the other.
    • The role of the police and the impact their differential status plays in the calculations of the security establishment.

I am hoping that those of you in Mexico and Central and South America in particular may be able to address at least a significant part of these questions, those

relevant to their country and to their subject matter expertise. 

The fact is, one of the problems with this field is there is little research available from which to build upon.

In addition, because countries in the region face very different issues within the overarching theme, the first iteration a more comprehensive effort needs to be as

inclusive as possible. 

It is believed that there are dynamics in each country that are, despite the differences, more common among those nation-states being considered for examination.

The questions about which answers are sought include:

    • To what extent have military/police come to be looked upon as the tool of one ethnic group and, if this occurs, what does it say, if anything, about the erosion of state authority?
    • To what extent does the composition of military and police forces reflect larger political controversy over relative positions of various ethnic communities in regional nation-states?
    • In countries in which once-peripheral or weak ethnic communities have acquired new resources and increased political assertiveness, has the military/police dimension of the altered interethnic relationships remained a peripheral matter? Is this due to fact of military (and police) having only minimal saliency in the political system due to an absence of wartime or major disorders? Do newly assertive ethnic groups remain little interested in using military careers as a ladder to sociopolitical upward mobility?
    • Is the country’s military/police—alleged quintessence of state authority—roughly representative of the civilian populations in whose name they exert coercive force? At all levels of rank? Between the services?
    • How does military/police differ, if at all, in its ethnic composition from the general population?
    • If discontinuities exist, how do they affect political role of the military/police, as well as the political leverages of individual ethnic communities?
    • Which communities incline toward military enlistment? How does distribution of literacy and educational opportunities, alternative modes of employment, and cultural values attached to soldiering and policing affect communities’ inclination?
    • To what extent are the inclinations listed in Question No. 7 the result of an accumulation of historical and/or contemporary experience based on design?
    • Are the country’s police militarized, community based, or a combination of both? What is the police forces’ degree of hierarchization? How does ethnic (communal) diversity of police compare with that of the armed forces?
    • Does the country’s particular military/police-ethnic pattern result from very self-conscious calculations of governing elites?
    • To what extent, if any, does the state argue that military/police patterns arenot the result of politically elaborate design? Are immune from charges of deliberate ethnic skewing?
    • To what extent does consciousness of the ethnic makeup of a nation-state’s military/police strengthen or jeopardize the sense of individual and community security?
    • In countries where newly assertive ethnic communities have succeeded in mobilizing state guarantees and resources towards a status for them as first among equals, is this trend reflected in the composition and structure of the military and police? Do the changes in military and police composition result in private alienation or a point of public contention for members of the displaced power structure, or both?
    • In countries having experienced coup attempts, to what degree were civilian policymakers concerned about the political significance of the distribution of ethnic groups in the military/police forces? Did coup spokespeople use ethnic (communal) claims of past injustice as part of their justification of their anti-regime action?
    • In what countries has the defense minister portfolio been held by an indigenous person? As a service head (including national police chief; chief of major metropolitan police)?
    • In countries having faced, are facing, or likely to face in medium-term future, insurgencies, in which has had or is likely to have political dissention of a highly ethnic (communal) nature? Is military/police-ethnic issue a non-issue, a peripheral issue, or a cultural issue?
    • In countries where a major alternation of ethnic roles has occurred, have military/police-ethnic issues increased in saliency?
    • Are military/police part of inter-ethnic (communal) bargaining and consociational elite resolution in the country under study?
    • In which countries has issue of ethnic composition of the military/police created politicized worries among individual ethnic communities? Is this likely to emerge as an important topic of debate in general public (thus provoking high anxiety in ruling elites)?
    • Have traditional military/police ethnic groups been displaced and ultimate discredited by claims of their subservience to non-national elite power?
    • To what extent does conscription compliance raise questions about the nature of national allegiance and the degree of political integration necessary to secure nation-state’s integrity?
    • What countervailing conditions, if any, have offset the facts that prima facie seem to ensure that the ethnic dimensions of the composition and deployment of a nation-state’s military and police would be as prominent in the political arena as, for instance, questions of language, education, and economic development?

As I mentioned at the outset, reliable information about much of the above is hard to come by, particularly those answers that reflect the precision the questions seek to elicit. 

If you have information about any or all of this, please let me know.  If you would like to know more about my work in this area, please see the article "Ethnic Politics, Defense, and Security in 'Latin' America, '" published recently inJoint Force Quarterly (http://www.ndu.edu/press/ethnic-politics-defense-security.html.)

Finally, if you wish for your answers to remain confidential, please understand that such confidentiality will be respected.  If not, also please let us know.

Many thanks in advance for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Mick Andersen

Martin Edwin Andersen
Chief, Strategic Communications and 
Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs
Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies
National Defense University
Abraham Lincoln Hall
260 5th Avenue,  Bldg. 64
Fort Lesley J. McNair
Washington, D.C. 20319-5066
Office: (202) 685-4674/4675

Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (Estados Unidos)

 



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