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Military Politics and Democracy in the Andes

, 322 pages

6 b&w illus., 2 maps

May 2013



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Military Politics and Democracy in the Andes


Military Politics and Democracy in the Andes challenges conventional theories regarding military behavior in post-transition democracies. Through a deeply researched comparative analysis of the Ecuadorian and Peruvian armies, Maiah Jaskoski argues that militaries are concerned more with the predictability of their missions than with sovereignty objectives set by democratically elected leaders.

Jaskoski gathers data from interviews with public officials, private sector representatives, journalists, and more than 160 Peruvian and Ecuadorian officers from all branches of the military. The results are surprising. Ecuador’s army, for example, fearing the uncertainty of border defense against insurgent encroachment in the north, neglected this duty, thereby sacrificing the state’s security goals, acting against government orders, and challenging democratic consolidation. Instead of defending the border, the army has opted to carry out policing functions within Ecuador, such as combating the drug trade. Additionally, by ignoring its duty to defend sovereignty, the army is available to contract out its policing services to paying, private companies that, relative to the public, benefit disproportionately from army security.

Jaskoski also looks briefly at this theory's implications for military responsiveness to government orders in democratic Bolivia, Colombia, and Venezuela, and in newly formed democracies more broadly.

Maiah Jaskoski is an assistant professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

"Academically rigorous... the specialized work belongs in college and university libraries with significant holdings in comparative politics and Latin American studies."

"Jaskoski’s extraordinary field work and primary sources make this book unlike any work in Latin American civil-military relations in the past thirty years. It is an empirical tour-de-force."

"This is an important book for students of Latin America and for those of the military in general. For the first, it opens the black box of the military as an institution in an unprecedented way. We come to understand the military not as a political actor but as an organizational one. For military-oriented scholars, it provides a fascinating perspective on why soldiers might end up doing little of their supposed main missions and opt for organizational predictability rather than for effective performance. Anyone interested in post-conflict transitions or state capacity should read it."

"All too often, analysts of Latin America pay insufficient attention to the region’s armed forces unless democracy itself is at immediate risk. This well-researched book represents a significant and welcome exception to this tendency. In an instructive and novel comparison, Jaskoski investigates the factors that shape the military’s mission performance in Peru and Ecuador. Her analysis serves as a powerful reminder of why the study of the armed forces remains crucial in the contemporary period."

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