Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Can Civilians Control the Military?

Can Civilians Control the Military?

Russia is in the midst of a very difficult transition from an authoritarian to a democratic system of government. A critical factor in the ultimate success of this transition is whether the military, as an institution, can adjust to a new role in society-that of an apolitical organization loyal to a popularly accountable government. To transform the Russian military into such an institution, the following five changes must occur:

Democratic-style institutional controls must be firmly established.

The Russian Federation Armed Forces must be depoliticized.

General policy agreement must exist between military and political officials, at least on fundamental issues related to the nation-state.

The government must ensure the general welfare of servicemen and officers.

Military appointments must be based on merit, not political loyalties.

Unless significant progress in making these changes occurs, Russia will be held back from creating a stable democratic society.

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