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Why can’t we all just get along? The causes and uses of civil-military discord



Eliot Cohen, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University

Date and Time

January 9, 2018 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM



RSVP required by 5PM January 04.


William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

- This event is offered as a joint sponsorship with the Hoover Institution - 

Registration is at capacity. Thank you for your understanding!

Abstract:  Since the days of Samuel Huntington and Morris Janowitz, one fundamental question has been whether civilian and soldier are doomed to clash — Huntington thought yes, Janowitz no, but for different reasons. In recent years civil-military tension has been a constant, from the confrontations between Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Generals Gregory Newbold and Eric Shinseki, to the dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal by President Obama. And tension at staff levels have been worse. Professor Cohen will offer thoughts on why civil-military tension is not only inevitable but even, at some level, desirable.

Speaker bio: Eliot Cohen is the Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).  After receiving his BA and PhD degrees from Harvard he taught there and later at the Naval War College, before coming to SAIS in 1990. His books include, most recently, The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force as well as Conquered into Liberty: Two Centuries of Battle Along the Great Warpath that Made the American Way of War and Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime among others. He served in the US Army Reserve, was a director in the Defense Department’s policy planning staff, led the US Air Force’s multivolume study of the first Gulf War and has served in various official advisory positions. In 2007-2009 he was Counselor of the Department of State, serving as Secretary Condoleezza Rice’s senior adviser, focusing chiefly on issues of war and peace, including Iraq and Afghanistan. His public commentary appears in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and on major television networks, and he is a contributing editor at The Atlantic.


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