The Military in Modern Democratic Society

Description

135 pages
$20.00
ISBN 0-919769-57-8
DDC 355'.033

Year

1996

Contributor

Edited by Jim Hanson and Susan McNish
Reviewed by Dean F. Oliver

Dean F. Oliver is postdoctoral fellow at the Norman Paterson School of
International Affairs, Carleton University.

Review

This collection of essays from the annual autumn meeting of the Canadian
Institute of Strategic Studies is a peculiar bird. Despite its title,
which ought properly to have been The Military in a Modern Democratic
Society, all but one of the articles restrict themselves to Canadian
military affairs and there is no readily apparent unifying theme linking
the various contributions. Instead, the essays offer a melange of
assessments of various Canadian military issues, focused loosely around
the theme of civil-military relations.

This is not to say there are no useful contributions in the volume.
There is a very useful paper-cum–slide show by Colin Galigan, Director
of Strategic Financial Planning at National Defence Headquarters, on
defence budgeting, as well as interesting contributions on French
Canadians and women in the military (by Serge Bernier and Sheila
Hellstrom, respectively) and the Canadian Forces stress management
program (by Rick McLellan). There is little balance in several of the
chapters, however, and all too many of the pieces are written by
employees of the defence department, who are legally prohibited from
rendering, in public, critical assessments of current policy issues.

Still, while Jim Hanson’s brief introduction speaks somewhat
passionately of the good works done by Canada’s military and of the
reform efforts underway—both of which are true—many of the chapters
exemplify the raft of problems plaguing the forces as they approach the
millennium. In this vein, Gerry Theriault’s opening essay is perhaps
the best (and one of the most honest) in the collection. “One cannot
expect understanding and support for defence from a public that is not
well informed and whose confidence is not secured,” Theriault, a
former chief of the defence staff, writes. “Despite the real
difficulties and frustrations that often attend it, there is no
alternative to a comprehensive, forthcoming and candid media information
activity.”

This book provides a useful introduction to some issues facing the
current Canadian Forces but lacks the depth and balance its complex
themes demand.

Citation

“The Military in Modern Democratic Society,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 30, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/4393.