Huntington, Janowitz, or None of the Above? Conceptions of Professional Norms by Future Army Officers
A substantial tradition in civil-military relations literature takes as given the salience of professional norms in the military, among them a commitment to democratic values, aversion to partisan politics, and relatively inflexible organizational ethics. However, few empirical efforts have kept pace with measuring these normative claims amidst ongoing concerns of military politicization, ethical standards, and civilian intervention in organizational affairs long considered the territory of
... he territory of military leaders. Through a survey of 1,470 cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, we measure the strength and salience of civil-military norms in the midst of their socialization to civil-military values. In addition, we use an embedded list experiment to measure true preferences to controversial questions in civil-military affairs, such as competing loyalties to democratic governance. To analyze cadet adherence to norms we first articulate a framework of various conceptions of professionalism. While cadets do not exhibit adherence to one particular framework, we find limited adherence to a purist Huntington model of civil-military norms, and more of an embrace of a conflicted reading of Huntington, as well as evidence of selectivity and superficiality in their commitment to norms, largely driven by their own partisan preferences. Lastly, we find concerning evidence that a significant number of cadets prioritize following orders over upholding democratic traditions, justifying Janowitz's concerns that a military separate from society could breed attitudes among military personnel antithetical to democracy.