A More Perfect Military

How the Constitution Can Make Our Military Stronger
October 29, 2010
Diane H. Mazur
Oxford University Press

Why are politicians so reluctant to question the military? Why do the President, Congress and Courts so often defer to the military's preferences in a system in which civilians are supposed to be in control? Why do people question whether federal courts have the right to change military policies, or whether the Constitution even applies to the military? Professor Diane Mazur's new book "A More Perfect Military: How the Constitution Can Make Our Military Stronger" explains why our civil-military relationships have become strained and dysfunctional in the all-volunteer era. It's because civilians-primarily the Courts, but also Congress and the President-have broken the bond the military once had with the Constitution.

From the Oxford University Press:

"Surveys show that the all-volunteer military is our most respected and trusted institution, but over the last thirty-five years it has grown estranged from civilian society. Without a draft, imperfect as it was, the military is no longer as representative of civilian society. Fewer people accept the obligation for military service, and a larger number lack the knowledge to be engaged participants in civilian control of the military.

The end of the draft, however, is not the most important reason we have a significant civil-military gap today. A More Perfect Military explains how the Supreme Court used the cultural division of the Vietnam era to change the nature of our civil-military relations. The Supreme Court describes itself as a strong supporter of the military and its distinctive culture, but in the all-volunteer era, its decisions have consistently undermined the military's traditional relationship to law and the Constitution. Most people would never suspect there was anything wrong, but our civil-military relations are now as constitutionally fragile as they have ever been.

A More Perfect Military is a bracingly candid assessment of the military's constitutional health. It crosses ideological and political boundaries and is challenging-even unsettling-to both liberal and conservative views. It is written for those who believe the military may be slipping away from our common national experience. This book is the blueprint for a new national conversation about military service."

Professor Mazur is Legal Co-Director of the Palm Center.