Conclusions - Latin America's New Civil-Military Politics

Kees Koonings*, Dirk Kruijt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This concluding chapter takes stock of the links between the military and national politics in many Latin American nations since the turn of the century. This inquiry was inspired by a broader concern for the travails of democracy in the region. Although elections and civilian governments are still prevalent, the quality and meaning of democratic politics has been gradually eroded by new forms of illiberalism and repressive authoritarian rule. Based on the four scenarios for the relation between military and politics in twenty-first century Latin America, we contend that the political militarism of the past has been replaced by civil–military politics across the region. This, in turn, leads to a number of issues that characterise the current state of civil–military politics in Latin America. Firstly, political armies have largely vanished, with the military losing their institutional political vocation. Secondly, this has by no means interred the political significance of the Latin American military; they continue to play an active and relevant role in politics through both their connections with civilian politicians or governments and electoral politics. Thirdly, they are with very few exceptions deeply engaged in domestic public security, key economic activities and sectors of the state apparatus. Fourthly, there is the military’s embroilment in criminal governance and violent pluralism. Lastly, there is the ever-changing international context. The prolonged aftermath of the 9/11 attacks spelled the end of the liberal democracy imperative sponsored by the (former) North-Atlantic hegemons. The liberal peace/liberal democracy ideal has been replaced by a new economic and geopolitical ‘realism’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLatin American Military and Politics in the Twenty-First Century
Subtitle of host publicationA Cross-National Analysis
EditorsDirk Kruijt, Kees Koonings
Place of PublicationNew York
Pages257 - 264
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-003-16478-4
ISBN (Print)978-0-36775778
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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