Bringing the Military Back in: Military Academies in Latecomer States

Zhicao Fang, Johns Hopkins University

The Eurocentric narrative of “war makes states and states make war” assumes that institutional and political changes in military apparatuses seamlessly passed along to civilian governance. However, “latecomer” states such as Republican China (1911-1949) faced an even more acute challenge of transferring modernization of military to modernization of the state while balancing military and civilian power. Studying military academies provides a new perspective to evaluate the influence of war and military on state-building. The paper argues there appear to be two conditions under which military academy graduates become constructive forces in state-building in latecomer states. First, the military academy must operate under strong tutelage of a political center committed to state-building. Second, harmonious relationships between military academies and civilian education institutions can help forge future cooperative relationships between civilian and military elites. The paper is based on comparison between the Baoding Military Academy (BMA) and the Whampoa Military Academy (WMA). The paper intends to accumulate biographical information of selected cohorts of BMA and WMA graduates. To focus on graduates with more significance and more complete biographical records, emphasis will be given to those who have reached the title of general in any military force. The paper surveys career trajectories using four indicators: 1) whether they oscillated between military and civilian positions; 2) cumulative years served in military and civilian positions respectively; 3) whether and how many times they switched allegiance between militaries and/or regimes; and 4) cumulative years of loyalty to one particular military/regime. The paper hypothesizes that military academies facilitate state-building when they produce cohorts that are 1) loyal to a specific regime and 2) capable of adapting to other political positions outside of the military sphere and/or able to settle into civilian careers after their military careers.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 32. Foreign Relation and the Military in Nation Formation