The Military Transition: Democratic Reform of the Armed Forces

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Civilian control of the armed forces is crucial for any country hoping to achieve a successful democratic transition. In this remarkable book, Narcís Serra, Spanish Minister of Defence between 1982 and 1991, explains the steps necessary to reduce the powers of armed forces during the process of a democratic transition. Spain's military reform proved a fundamental and necessary element for the consolidation of Spanish democracy and is often viewed as a paradigm case for the transition to democracy. Drawing on this example, Serra outlines a simple model of the process and conditions necessary to any democratic military reform. He argues that progress in military transition must include legal and institutional reforms, changes to the military career structure and doctrine, and control of conflict levels.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This meticulously researched volume explains how the relationship between the armed forces and politicians can change from authoritarian regimes to democratic ones. The author is not only a first-rate social scientist but, as one of the longest-serving defense ministers in a major European state, someone who was responsible for formulating and implementing defense reform. Serra's lucid arguments and insights about military politics in various political and geographic contexts attest to his broad intellectual vistas that extend far beyond Spain and Europe. In short, this is a terrific book that anyone interested in democratization and military affairs would read with much profit.”
Zoltan Barany, Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Professor of Government, University of Texas and Susan Louise Dyer Peace Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

“Serra’s The Military Transition has a triple distinction. First, Serra was by far the best Minister of Defense in any of the more than thirty democratic transitions in the last quarter of the twentieth century. This book is a brilliant analysis of the policies he crafted and implemented. Second, Serra has a profound grasp of the comparative literature on modern democratic civil-military relations which he reflects upon and deepens. Thirdly, he is the major theoretician of our time about the need to integrate, while democratically controlling, the new European-wide Human Security services, not only within the military but within the police and intelligence.”
Alfred Stepan, Wallace Sayre Professor of Government, Columbia University and co-author of Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521116671
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2010
  • Pages: 270
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Narcís Serra is currently President of the CIDOB Foundation and the 'Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals' (IBEI). He is a former Mayor of Barcelona, Spanish Minister of Defence and Vice President of the Spanish Government.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. The study of the transition to democracy; 2. Democratic transition and the armed forces: military autonomy; 3. What is military reform?; 4. The component parts of military reform; 5. Transition and military reform in Spain; 6. Consolidation and military reform in Spain; 7. Controlling the armed forces in the stage of democratic persistence: the debate in the United States over the last ten years; 8. Conclusions.

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