The relations between the Latin American states and their armed forces have been a special one at all times. In this region the military played and still plays a major…
The relations between the Latin American states and their armed forces have been a special one at all times. In this region the military played and still plays a major political role. But the political role of the military has changed several times during the last century. These changes were forced by social movements, new patterns of thought, the USA or the Cuban Revolution. During the years, the military had different self-perceptions, which caused in a lot of interventions and military dictatorships. Today, it seems that democracy is well accepted throughout Latin America, but the military still has possibilities of influence.
The armed forces and the societies they come from, and/or work in are related to one another in a multitude of ways (for the following see Kümmel, 2002). An adequate theoretical framework to capture the relationship between what may be termed the military world and what may be termed the world out there is offered by the systems theory as, for example, put forward in Martin Edmonds’ Armed Services and Society (Edmonds, 1990: especially 113f.). In this vein, the armed services can be conceived as a system that is distinct from its environment and is in its interacting and interdependent component parts operating on specific systems logic. Thus the system (or rather the sub-system) of the armed forces can be analyzed in terms of its relationship with its environment and with other (sub-)systems that are working and operating in this environment. One may distinguish six – to be sure: interdependent and interpenetrated – dimensions to cover the richness of civil–military relations.1 These are: economy, finances, technology, culture, society, and politics. But the complexity of the theoretical framework has to be advanced even further. Two additional points have to be dealt with. One is that the environment of the military the world out there falls into two different spheres; a national and an international one implying that these very six dimensions have to be seen in a national/domestic as well as in an international context. The second and last point is that these various dimensions of relations between the military and society look quite different depending on the point in time they are looked upon. In other words, the time factor has to be included into the analysis. According to the scheme resulting from this tableau, research issues can be grouped. The following table gives some examples for research topics that fall into the various categories and illustrate that the study of relations between the military and the society is an interdisciplinary undertaking (Table 1).