Critical Military Studies Issues in 2018
In this issue Aaron Ettinger explores the abandonment of the military draft in the United States and the ideological forces that brought about its end in 1973. He argues that the system of raising military labour is deeply embedded in the prevailing political economy of a society, demonstrating how the final transition to the AVF not only signalled a change in military policy but was also symptomatic of a shift in the broader American political economy from post-war welfare statism to neoliberalism. Still with a focus on the US, Nicole Nguyen explores the exponential expansion of educational opportunities related to the global war on terror, from the hundreds of degree-granting college programmes in national security to online modules for children, and guidelines for teachers to identify students who may embrace extremist ideologies. She shows how these shifts meet the demands of a war increasingly fought in the spaces of everyday life with US schools serving as a key staging ground for the global war on terror. Veronica Kitchen's focus is on popular romance fiction. She argues that the structure of the romance genre – which requires the hero and heroine to fall and love and be happy at the end of the novel – reinforces particular kinds of politics, showing how it is possible that whilst these fictional accounts can have the beneficial effect of providing more nuanced portrayals of possible intimate lives of soldiers, they can also close off critiques of politics and help to order a resilient, war-ready society. In keeping with popular culture as a site of analysis, Julien Pomarède explores the normalization of violence through images of the ‘war on terror’ in US popular culture through soldiers’ battlefield experience. Focusing on the American Sniper legend, he examines the conditions that make the collective normalization of a soldier considered ‘the most lethal sniper in the US military history’ possible, showing how military violence relies on political discourses that claim to tell the ‘real story’ of soldiers on front lines and how, at the same time, war appears in popular culture as an agonistic struggle for life where killing is simply the condition for survival. Matthew Hurley's contribution to the issue focuses our attention on military personnel's roles in engaging with and implementing NATO’s interpretation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Based on an analysis of two military men actively and consciously ‘doing’ this gender work, Hurley argues that positive, incremental shifts within militarized masculinities should not be dismissed, and yet, at the same time, the process is contested, contradictory, and incomplete. He highlights how perceived gender transgressions are policed and controlled via trivialization and feminization, and how conceptualizations of masculinist protectio and credibility can reinforce pre-existing gender relations, rather than challenge or change them. Finally, in our Encounters section, Christopher W. Webb offers up a vivid and at times, beautiful, picture of grief, trauma and military service. Weaving personal narrative accounts into the wider fabric of military rituals, his piece invites us to reflect on how war comes to be made and remade as a special kind of experience that offers a special kind of truth, that gives those who have 'been there' a special kind of authority.
volume four, issue Two
volume FOUr, issue three