The Citizen Soldier and the Citizen Journalist

I recently found a rather interesting if somewhat aged article by well-known neoconservative and Wolfowitz-Advisor Eliot Cohen which discusses (in a very declarative and normative way) what Cohen calls the “unnerving rebirth of the citizen-soldier” in a professional US Military.

One of the concerns he has, is that the continued myth of the citizen-soldier is making it possible for the professional military to demand individual rights (free speech, political influence etc.) which threaten the discipline necessary for a functioning military according to him.

I am neither capable nor willing to evaluate his take on the rights and duties of soldiers (professional or citizen) – and he is obviously still in conversation with the military about this.

What I found interesting is that he had been thinking about the enduring concept of the ‘citizen soldier’ long before Milblogs were popularized and brought this issue to the forefront of the milblogging community. Milbloggers famously demanding ‘the right for free speech by those who make it possible’ are doing just what Cohen is criticizing, demanding a right guaranteed to citizens but not guaranteed to soldiers.

In terms of my project the intersection between bloggers’ self-styling as ‘citizen journalists’ and the emergence of a ‘citizen’ concept in the military are very interesting and in my latest chapter (which will be available sometime in the future in book form) I discuss possible ways in which libertarian bloggers might have influenced soldiers in their quest for individual rights.

Cohen, Eliot, A. (2001). Twilight of the Citizen Soldier. Parameters. Sommer 2001. 23-28.

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