Topic 8: Force in Politics

Topic 8: Force in Politics


Cheong (Casey)


“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes” – who guards the guardians? Tilly (1985) argues that states are basically a protection racket – waging war and extracting resources in order to perpetuate the state (p.183). A central problem in politics, particularly important for future military leaders, is the problem of maintaining civilian control of the instruments of force. German sociologist Max Weber defined the state partly by its monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Since the emergence of democracy, it has been a delicate balance to ensure that the state can defend itself from its internal and external enemies, without its defenders becoming predators. Our aim here is to explore the role of force in politics, the security sector in comparative perspective, and the governance of police, paramilitary, military, and intelligence functions as they evolve in states affected by neoliberal globalization.

Learning objectives

  • Evaluate alternative models of civil-military relations
  • Understand the range of institutions affecting the security sector, wide and narrow



To be confirmed by instructor after consultation with class coordinators

Activities before class

Consider the following discussion questions:

  1. What are civil-military relations? How do we study them?
  2. What is the security sector, in broad and narrow terms?
  3. What does Siaroff’s spectrum of civil-military relations purport to reflect?
  4. What are the possible relations between police, paramilitary, and military organizations within the state?
  5. How do national and international laws impose governance on the security sector?
  6. What is security sector reform?
  7. Who undertakes security sector reform, and for what purposes?

Activities during class

Coordinators may consider the following activities:

  • Policy recommendation exercise: design measures of effectiveness for Security Sector Reform interventions
  • Develop data sources to explore and expand on Siaroff (2013) Tables 2.1 and 2.2, spectrum of civil-military relations
  • compare the mandates and employment of police, paramilitary, and military functions in different regime types
  • Table-top exercise. You are a CAF staff team looking at the evolution of JTF2 in domestic operations. What alternative paths for development can be deduced from comparison with other countries?

Activities after class

  • Review learning objectives.
  • Post questions and notes to Moodle.
  • Suggest exam questions
  • Complete Quiz 4 on Moodle (elections, instruments of consent, force in politics)

Additional Resources

Abrahamsen, R., & Williams, M. C. (2006). Security sector reform: bringing the private in:
AnalysisConflict, Security & Development6(1), 1-23.
Albrecht, P., Stepputat, F., & Andersen, L. (2010). Security sector reform, the European way. The future of security sector reform, 74.
Cook, S. A. (2007). Ruling but not governing: The military and political development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey. JHU Press. (Moodle)
Dickovick and Eastwood, Ch. 12
Hendrickson, D., & Karkoszka, A. (2002). The challenges of security sector reformSIPRI YEARBOOK, 175-202.
Honna, J. (2006). Local civil-military relations during the first phase of democratic transition, 1999-2004: A comparison of West, Central, and East JavaIndonesia, (82), 75-96.
Lilly, D. (2000). The privatization of security and peacebuildingInternational Alert. London.
Pion-Berlin, D. (2011). Turkish civil-military relations: A Latin American comparisonTurkish Studies12(2), 293-304.
Schiff, R. L. (2008). The military and domestic politics: A concordance theory of civil-military relations. Routledge.
Siaroff (2013) “The Continuum of Civil Military Relations” Table 2.1, Table 2.2, p. 462 (Moodle)
Siddiqa, A. (2007) Military, Inc. Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy  (Moodle)
Military Datasets on Data.World
Wulf, H. (2004). Security sector reform in developing and transitional countriesBerghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management5.