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Book Cover for: Four Guardians: A Principled Agent View of American Civil-Military Relations, Jeffrey W. Donnithorne

Four Guardians: A Principled Agent View of American Civil-Military Relations

Jeffrey W. Donnithorne

Exploring the profound differences between what the military services believe--and how they uniquely serve the nation.

When the US military confronts pressing security challenges, the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps often react differently as they advise and execute civilian defense policies. Conventional wisdom holds that these dynamics tend to reflect a competition for prestige, influence, and dollars. Such interservice rivalries, however, are only a fraction of the real story. In Four Guardians, Jeffrey W. Donnithorne argues that the services act instead as principled agents, interpreting policies in ways that reflect their unique cultures and patterns of belief.

Chapter-length portraits of each service highlight the influence of operational environment ("nature") and political history ("nurture") in shaping each service's cultural worldview. The book also offers two important case studies of civil-military policymaking: one, the little-known story of the creation of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force in the early 1980s; the other, the four-year political battle that led to the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986. Donnithorne uses these cases to demonstrate the principled agent framework in action while amply revealing the four services as distinctly different political actors.

Combining crisp insight and empirical depth with engaging military history, Four Guardians provides practical utility for civil-military scholars, national security practitioners, and interested citizens alike. This timely work brings a new appreciation for the American military, the complex dynamics of civilian control, and the principled ways in which the four guardian services defend their nation.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publish Date: Feb 2nd, 2021
  • Pages: 288
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 8.90in - 6.00in - 0.80in - 1.01lb
  • EAN: 9781421439921
  • Categories: Security (National & International)Public Policy - Military PolicyMilitary - General

About the Author

Donnithorne, Jeffrey W.: - Jeffrey W. Donnithorne is a professor of strategy and security studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS), Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base.
Praise for this book
Four Guardians is a laudable effort that should be carefully and widely read by scholars and practitioners of civil-military relations. This ambitious project attempts not only to explore the impact that each distinct military service culture will have on civil-military relations, but also to extend and re-imagine one of the most prominent theories.
--RealClear Defense
A great read for field-grade officers preparing for joint staff or any assignment that requires making predictions on other services' behavior in policy debate. Despite six years of joint experience, including five years on USA posts, I found new insights into understanding the other services. We are destined to fight together and Donnithorne's book prepares the reader for that destiny.
--Strategic Studies Quarterly