Fighting for Rights

Fighting for Rights: Military Service and the Politcs of Citizenship

Ronald R. Krebs
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Fighting for Rights
    Book Description:

    Leaders around the globe have long turned to the armed forces as a "school for the nation." Debates over who serves continue to arouse passion today because the military's participation policies are seen as shaping politics beyond the military, specifically the politics of identity and citizenship. Yet how and when do these policies transform patterns of citizenship? Military service, Ronald R. Krebs argues, can play a critical role in bolstering minorities' efforts to grasp full and unfettered rights. Minority groups have at times effectively contrasted their people's battlefield sacrifices to the reality of inequity, compelling state leaders to concede to their claims. At the same time, military service can shape when, for what, and how minorities have engaged in political activism in the quest for meaningful citizenship.

    Employing a range of rich primary materials, Krebs shows how the military's participation policies shaped Arab citizens' struggles for first-class citizenship in Israel from independence to the mid-1980s and African Americans' quest for civil rights, from World War I to the Korean War. Fighting for Rights helps us make sense of contemporary debates over gays in the military and over the virtues and dangers of liberal and communitarian visions for society. It suggests that rhetoric is more than just a weapon of the weak, that it is essential to political exchange, and that politics rests on a dual foundation of rationality and culture.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5983-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Archival Sources and Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Chapter 1 A School for the Nation?
    (pp. 1-15)

    An ideological world and over half a century apart, Theodore Roosevelt and Leonid Brezhnev had little in common, but both proclaimed the social virtues of military service. Roosevelt and his fellow Progressives hoped that military training would ʺAmericanizeʺ the mass of newcomers who had recently landed on their countryʹs shores.¹ Brezhnev similarly believed that service in the Red Army would forge a unified Soviet citizenry committed to the Socialist Motherland, internationalism, and ʺthe friendship of the peoples.ʺ² Like many leaders before and after them, they turned to the armed forces to create a cohesive national identity and more broadly to...

  6. Chapter 2 The Power of Military Service
    (pp. 16-42)

    Statesmen and scholars alike have long asserted that the military exerts a powerful impact on the surrounding political community—not only through its intervention in domestic politics or its performance in war but also by virtue of its internal design, specifically its manpower or participation policy. This claim has often been treated as an article of faith, rather than as a proposition worthy of examination and explanation. The previous chapter suggested that the politics of nationality might be effectively captured by exploring struggles over the meaning and extent of effective citizenship, especially those of minorities who figuratively reside at the...

  7. Part I. The IDF and the Making of Israel:: The Jewish State and Its Arab Minorities

    • Introduction
      (pp. 44-49)

      On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the longtime head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel.¹ This was to be not just a political entity with a Jewish majority or a haven for oppressed Jews but, in the words of the new stateʹs Declaration of Independence, a Jewish state. Its soul was forged in the pogroms of Eastern Europe and Russia and was further steeled by the Holocaust. It looked backward, rooting its central concerns in the tragedies of Jewish history and learning its lessons from the passivity of the traditional Jewish leadership. And it...

    • Chapter 3 Confronting a Land with People
      (pp. 50-68)

      It was hardly inevitable that the Druze would carve out a distinctive path toward citizenship, separate from their fellow Arabs, in the new state of Israel. The Druze had long exhibited particularistic tendencies, but there was no ʺnaturalʺ alliance between the Zionists and the Druze. It is true that the Druze did not, by and large, join in either the Arab Revolt of the late 1930s or the 1948 war, and some sought alliance with the Zionists as early as the 1930s. But Druze behavior did not, on the whole, differ markedly from that of many other rural Arabs to...

    • Chapter 4 Two Roads to Jerusalem
      (pp. 69-93)

      The newly formed State of Israel and its Arab citizens eyed each other warily after 1948. The young state was surrounded by adversaries, and it doubted the loyalty of nearly one-fifth of its population. During the war, the IDF had proven itself, but it remained undermanned, undertrained, and under-equipped. Conscripting Arab youth would alleviate the manpower shortage, but it would also entail risk, providing a possibly irreconcilable minority with military training and arms. The Arab citizens, on the other hand, had to grapple with their own questions. Israeli officials spoke of equality, and the state funneled resources into the Arab...

    • Chapter 5 Military Rites, Citizenship Rights, and Republican Rhetoric
      (pp. 94-108)

      Long neglected and often manipulated, Christian and Muslim citizens made some headway in the 1980s because they controlled a critical asset: votes. After the Likud unseated Labor in 1977, the Jewish Israeli electorate was severely divided. By the early 1980s, the mainstream Zionist parties were for the first time competing intensely over this last remaining bloc of uncommitted voters. This explanation of how Israelʹs Arab citizens acquired influence is consistent with a well-established understanding of political power in democratic regimes.

      The success of the Druze in securing attention, promises, and ultimately policy change from central decision makers is, in contrast,...

    • Conclusion
      (pp. 109-114)

      Israel undoubtedly remains a Jewish state in the deepest sense of the word.¹ Its central symbols—from the menorah that is the stateʹs official emblem to the Star (or Shield) of David that is pictured on the national flag to ʺHa-Tikvahʺ (The Hope) that serves as the national anthem—are drawn from and speak to the heritage of the Jewish people. To be an Arab in Israel is necessarily not to feel entirely at home. Arab citizens playing for Israelʹs national team kept the countryʹs World Cup hopes alive in March 2005 by scoring late goals and temporarily became heroes...

  8. Part II. The Perpetual Dilemma:: Race and the U.S. Armed Forces

    • Introduction
      (pp. 116-121)

      As the U.S. Civil War came to a close, black and white Americans alike recognized that their relations had been radically reshaped by the war and, more specifically, by blacksʹ service in the Union army. In 1864 one U.S. senator observed that the ʺlogical resultʺ of blacksʹ military role was that ʺthe black man is henceforth to assume a new status among us.ʺ A black delegate to the 1868 Arkansas Constitutional Convention defended his peopleʹs right to the vote by invoking their spilled blood: ʺHas not the man who conquers upon the field of battle, gained any rights? Have we...

    • Chapter 6 Great War, Great Hopes, and the Perils of Closing Ranks
      (pp. 122-145)

      Woodrow Wilsonʹs election in 1912 marked the return of the South to the center stage of American politics. Born in Virginia and raised in Georgia, Wilson had been president of Princeton University, a bastion of the Southern elites, and he counted four Southerners among his closest advisers. Although Wilson had early on identified more closely with the Union than with his native region, he had embraced the South as his political prospects grew bright.¹ Nevertheless, Wilson had garnered substantial support from black leaders during the election, largely on the strength of a handful of discreet statements promising a fair deal...

    • Chapter 7 Good War, Cold War, and the Limits of Liberalism
      (pp. 146-177)

      What E. H. Carr famously called the ʺtwenty yearsʹ crisisʺ ended in September 1939.¹ Europe was again at war, and it would not be long before the United States intervened in that conflict and before the building tensions with Japan came to a head. World War II was a defining experience for Americans. With its truly global stage, greater military commitment, deeper state penetration of society, more intense mobilization of national resources, longer involvement, and ultimately more prominent location in the nationʹs collective memory, the Second World War outstripped the First in its impact on the American home front. For...

    • Conclusion
      (pp. 178-180)

      With the intense passions of the Civil War swiftly receding, and with numerous voices calling for sectional reconciliation and for equal honor to be bestowed on both sidesʹ soldiers, Frederick Douglass was livid. Just six years after the warʹs conclusion, in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, he protested that he was ʺno minister of malice,ʺ but he nonetheless swore ʺmay my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I forget the difference between the parties to that . . . bloody conflict,ʺ between ʺthose who struck at the nationʹs life, and those who struck to...

  9. Chapter 8 Unusual Duties, Usual Rights: Soldiering and Citizenship
    (pp. 181-196)

    Since Bill Clintonʹs first days in the Oval Office, the question of whether gays should be permitted to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces has periodically roiled the American political scene. On the surface, the debate has pivoted on claims about the effects of sexual orientation on unit cohesion and of cohesion on combat effectiveness.¹ That much was relatively predictable. More puzzling was the passion on both sides.² The Clinton administrationʹs acquiescence in ʺdonʹt ask, donʹt tellʺ was understandably disappointing to gays, but what the former believed to be a reasonable compromise, the latter generally disparaged as an unforgivable...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 197-256)
  11. Index
    (pp. 257-266)