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Reconsidering American Civil-Military RelationsThe Military, Society, Politics, and Modern War$
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Lionel Beehner, Risa Brooks, and Daniel Maurer

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197535493

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197535493.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 October 2021

When an Immovable Object Meets an Irresistible Force

When an Immovable Object Meets an Irresistible Force

Military Popularity and Affective Partisanship

(p.177) 9 When an Immovable Object Meets an Irresistible Force
Reconsidering American Civil-Military Relations

Jonathan D. Caverley

Oxford University Press

In a period in which much conventional wisdom about American politics has been thrown into question two essential facts remain: the public popularity of the US military remains high relative to any other US institution and the level of partisan polarization continues to climb. Recent crises in US civil-military relations suggest it unlikely that both of these facts can continue to simultaneously be true. This essay therefore introduces the concept of affective polarization to the study of civil-military relations. When a population is affectively polarized, multiple social identities reinforce a disdain within a group for members outside of it. In the contemporary United States, these social identities have coalesced within political parties. While the US military may not be interested in affective polarization, affective polarization is definitely interested in the US military. This essay lays out how, as it continues to evolve into an exercise in fiscal rather than social mobilization, the US military may grow more prone, like most other national institutions, to being swallowed.

Keywords:   affective partisanship, polarization, civil-military relations, populism, public opinion

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