James Pattison

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I have argued that the AVF is the most legitimate way of organising the military according to the Moderate Instrumentalist Approach. Both conscription and the use of PMSCs pose several major concerns. Accordingly, in our thinking about the justice of a particular war, we should consider not simply whether the war meets the more commonly cited jus ad bellum and jus in bello criteria, but also whether it is fought by volunteer soldiers rather than conscripts or private contractors. If it is not, the war is more morally problematic. Thus, we can regard, for instance, the US war in Vietnam as even worse for its reliance on conscripts and, more recently, the US and UK-led action in Iraq as more objectionable given its reliance on PMSCs than according to the standard accounts of the just war criteria.

Therefore, the traditional focus of just war theory on matters of only jus ad bellum and jus in bello is too narrow. Given that whether a war is fought by PMSCs, a conscripted force, or an AVF is likely to impact on its justifiability, if just war theory is to provide an accurate assessment of the justice of a particular war, this framework should be extended to consider the legitimacy of the military.

Yet, as noted at the start, the legitimacy of the military concerns more than simply whether a particular war is just; it is a larger, ongoing issue, concerning several wars, peacetime, and the military抯 continuing relationship with the polity. Hence, although just war theory should be extended to capture the legitimacy of the military at the time of a particular war, the issue of the legitimacy of the military transcends just war theory. The theories of civil-military relations, which do consider the ongoing issues surrounding the military, may appear to be of greater relevance. But most scholars of civil-military relations need to pay much greater attention to the normative underpinnings of their approaches. More specifically, they need to consider to a much greater extent the justifiability of the military抯 uses of force and the effects of the military on the human rights of those beyond the borders of the state. Accordingly, scholars of civil-military relations need to engage to a larger degree with just war theory and international political theory.

Therefore, we need a richer, broader account of just war theory which is more sensitive to the issues surrounding the legitimacy of the military and closer links between civil-military relations and just war theory. This should ensure that the judgments of the justice of particular wars are more accurate and should lead to a more sophisticated analysis of the ongoing legitimacy of the military.


In Thomas Aquinas (1972) Summa Theologiae, Vol. 35, Consequences of Charity, Thomas R. Heath, trans., p. 83. New York: Blackfriars.

2 For instance, in her rejection of the moral importance of legitimate authority, C閏ile Fabre interprets the criterion in this way, (2008) 慍osmopolitanism, Just War Theory and Legitimate Authority International Affairs 84(5): 763–76.

3 Michael Walzer (1970) Obligations: Essays on Disobedience, War, and Citizenship, pp. 99–119. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

4 Brian Orend (2006) The Morality of War, pp. 127–36. Ontario: Broadview Press. Another example is Cheyney Ryan (2009) The Chickenhawk Syndrome: War, Sacrifice and Personal Responsibility. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

5 Those who have recently called for a reintroduction of the draft include William A. Galston (2003) 慉 Sketch of Some Arguments for Conscription Philosophy & Public Policy Quarterly 23(3): 2–7, Charles Moskos (2005) 慉 New Concept of the Citizen-Soldier Orbis 49(4): 663–76, and Paul L. Yingling (2010) 慣he FoundersWisdom Armed Forces Journal, February 2010. Available at (accessed 06/06/11).

6 Christopher Kinsey (2009) Private Contractors and the Reconstruction of Iraq: Transforming Military Logistics, p. 33. London: Routledge.

7 Moshe Schwartz (2011) Department of Defense Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan: Background and Analysis, Congressional Research Service Report, 13 May 2011, p. 6. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.

8 I develop this approach in more detail in relation to humanitarian intervention in James Pattison (2010) Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect: Who Should Intervene? Oxford: Oxford University Press. I am not claiming that these are the only factors in the legitimacy of the military. Other factors, such as the military抯 effects on communal bonds, may also be of some relevance. I focus on these three factors since they seem to be the most morally important.

9 Peter D. Feaver (1999) 慍ivil-Military Relations Annual Review of Political Science 2: 214.

10 Ibid. p. 216.

11 Vladimir Rukavishnikov and Michael Pugh, 慍ivil-Military Relations in Giuseppe Caforio (ed.) (2003) Handbook of the Sociology of the Military, p.133. The Hague: Kluwer Academic.

12 Samuel Huntington (1956) The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations. London: Belknap Press.

13 Feaver (n. 9), p. 228.

14 Morris Janowitz (1960) The Professional Soldier: A Social and Political Portrait. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.

15 Peter Feaver (2003) Armed Servants: Agency, Oversight, and Civil-Military Relations, First Edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

16 Allen Buchanan (2002) 慞olitical Legitimacy and Democracy Ethics 112(4): 689–719 and (2004) Justice, Legitimacy, and Self-Determination: Moral Foundations for International Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

17 Allen Buchanan (2010) Human Rights, Legitimacy, and the Use of Force, p. 109. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

18 This matter is complicated for jus ad bellum, however, by the fact that political leaders may decide to wage an unjust war against the wishes of the military leaders, but the military leaders go along with the decision because the military is subject to the control of the polity (another significant legitimating factor).

19 There is a huge literature in International Relations on the Democratic Peace Thesis that (roughly speaking) argues that a democratic polity is less likely to go to war, at least with other democracies. The seminal works are Michael Doyle (1983) 慘ant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs: Part I Philosophy & Public Affairs 12(3): 205–35 and (1983) 慘ant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs: Part II Philosophy & Public Affairs 12(4): 323–53.

20 I consider the importance of individual self-government over foreign policy decisions in more detail in Pattison (n. 8), pp. 137–9.

21 For a recent defence of conscientious refusal, see Jeff McMahan (2009) Killing in War, pp. 70–6, 97–101. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

22 I will develop this claim in James Pattison The Morality of Private War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, under contract).

23 James Pattison (2010) 慏eeper Objections to the Privatisation of Military Force Journal of Political Philosophy 18(4): 425–47.

24 See, for instance, Doug Brooks and Matan Chorev, 慠uthless Humanitarianism: Why Marginalizing Private Peacekeeping Kills People in Andrew Alexandra, Deane-Peter Baker, and Marina Caparini (eds) (2008) Private Military and Security Companies: Ethics, Policies and Civil-Military Relations, pp. 116–30. New York: Routledge.

25 Katherine E. McCoy (2010) 態eyond Civil-Military Relations: Reflections on Civilian Control of a Private, Multinational Workforce Armed Forces & Society 36(4): 681.

26 See, further, Anna Leander, 慍ontractualized Citizenship, Nationalized Contracting, Militarized Soldiering: The Market for Force and the Right to Have Protection Rights in ECPR (ed.) (2009) Practices of Citizenship and the Politics of Insecurity, Lisbon 14–19 April 2009. Available at (assessed 20/02/11), p. 20.

27 McCoy (n. 25), p. 680.

28 See James Burk (2002) 慣heories of Democratic Civil-Military Relations Armed Forces & Society 29(1): 19.

29 Elke Krahmann (2010) States, Citizens and the Privatization of Security, p. 108. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

30 I consider these problems in more detail in James Pattison (2008) 慗ust War Theory and the Privatization of Military Force Ethics & International Affairs, 22(2): 143–62. I will explore them further in Pattison (n.22).

31 Deborah Avant and Lee Sigelman (2010) 慞rivate Security and Democracy: Lessons from the US in Iraq Security Studies 19(2): 252.

32 McCoy (n. 25), p. 680.

33 There have been several times when this has occurred. See ibid, p. 683.

34 Schwartz (n. 7), p. 11.

35 McCoy (n. 25), p. 683.

36 Ibid, pp. 681, 684.

37 To be sure, Philip Pettit, the most famous recent defender of civic republicanism, does not defend compulsory military service (as far as I am aware). Notwithstanding, many of those who defend conscription (some of whose arguments are considered below) appeal to republican political theory for support.

38 Eliot Cohen claims that the citizen-soldier is characterised by their duty-based motive, representativeness of society, and predominant civilian identity, (2001) 慣wilight of the Citizen-Soldier Parameters, Summer 2001: 23–8.

39 See Curtis Gilroy (2010) 慏efending the All-Volunteer Force: A Rejoinder to Lt Col Paul Yingling Armed Forces Journal, March 2010. Available at (accessed 06/06/11).

40 See, for instance, Galston (n. 5).

41 Robert K. Fullinwider (2003) 慍onscription—No Philosophy & Public Policy Quarterly 23(3): 8.

42 Avant and Sigelman (n. 31), p. 241.

43 John Rawls (1999) A Theory of Justice, Revised Edition, p. 334. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

44 Jeffrey Pickering (2011) 慏angerous Drafts? A Time-Series, Cross-National Analysis of Conscription and the Use of Military Force, 1946-2001 Armed Forces & Society 37(1): 129–31.

45 Ibid. p. 122.

46 BBC (2003) 慚illions Join Global Anti-War Protests BBC News, 17 February 2003. Available at (accessed 06/06/11).

47 See, further, Stephan Pfaffenzeller (2010) 慍onscription and Democracy: The Mythology of Civil-Military Relations Armed Forces & Society 36(3): 481–504.

48 The most well-known defence of freedom as nondomination is Philip Pettit (1997) Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

49 One example is Germany (although since writing this article Germany has decided to end conscription).

50 Those who make this argument include Galston (n. 5) and David M. Kennedy (2006) 慣he Wages of a Mercenary Army: Issues of Civil-Military Relations Bulletin of the American Academy Spring 2006: 12–16. Also see George Klosko (2005) Political Obligations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

51 See, for instance, ibid.

52 Anna Leander (2004) 慏rafting Community: Understanding the Fate of Conscription Armed Forces & Society 30(4): 586.

53 Galston (n. 5), pp. 2–5.

54 Ibid. p. 5.

55 Barry Strauss (2003) 慠eflections on the Citizen-Soldier Parameters, Summer 2003: 66–77.

56 Ronald R. Krebs (2009) 慣he Citizen-Soldier Tradition in the United States: Has Its Demise Been Greatly Exaggerated? Armed Forces & Society 36(1): 165. Also see Krahmann (n. 29), p. 140.

57 See Krebs (n. 56), pp. 156–7 and Leander (n. 52), p. 579 who claim that the idealised citizen-soldier view where conscripts happily accept the requirement to perform obligatory military service is historically inaccurate.

58 Ibid. p. 578.

59 Ibid. p. 580.

60 Those who make this allegation include Kennedy (n. 50).

61 The AVFs in the US and UK have been moving somewhat towards what Moskos calls 慳n occupational viewof the military that is focussed more on individual benefits and rewards (including financial gain and seeing the world) than the common good, which is illustrated by the 慉rmy of Onerecruitment campaign in the US. See Krahmann (n. 29), pp. 44, 141 and Charles Moskos (2001) 慦hat Ails the All-Volunteer Force: An Institutional Perspective Parameters, Summer 2001: 29–47. To that extent, the AVF may appear to be becoming closer to a mercenary army, although to claim that the AVF is a mercenary army is still an exaggeration.

62 Krebs (n. 56), p. 166.

63 I argue this point in Pattison (n. 23), pp. 433–5 and will develop it in Pattison (n. 22).

64 As Christopher Spearin asserts, 揫t]he record of firms in terms of staying power in the field has been mixed (2005) 態etween Public Peacekeepers and Private Forces: Can There Be a Third Way?International Peacekeeping 12(2): 246.

65 See, further, Avant and Sigelman (n. 31).

66 Gilroy (n. 39). Also see Fullinwider (n. 43), p. 9.

67 Krahmann (n. 29), p. 251. Also see Ryan on the US Army抯 recent 憇top-lossapproach, which he argues was in effect a 慴ackdoordraft, (n. 4), p. 54.

68 See, for instance, Ilan Zvi Baron (2010) 慏ying for the State: The Missing Just War Question? Review of International Studies 36(1): 231 and Michael Sandel (2009) Justice: Whatthe Right Thing to Do?, p. 82. London: Penguin.

69 Amy Hagopian and Kathy Barker (2011), 慡hould We End Military Recruiting in High Schools as a Matter of Child Protection and Public Health? American Journal of Public Health 101(1): 19–23. Lawrence Korb and Sean Duggan (2007) 慉n All-Volunteer Army? Recruitment and its Problems Political Science & Politics 40(3): 467–71.

70 It should be noted that the ROTC program has received criticism for encouraging militarism, as well as for its acquiescence in the Don抰 Ask Don抰 Tell policy. See Feaver (n. 9), pp. 227–8.

71 See Pattison (n. 8), pp. 229–43.

72 Since writing this article, the UK government has indicated that it may do this. BBC (2011) 慏avid Cameron Confirms Military Covenant 揕awPlans BBC News, 15 May 2011. Available at (accessed 06/06/11).

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