Of all the challenges of the transition to democratic rule in Eastern Europe, one of the more interesting and difficult has been the assertion of democratic models of civilian control. The author contends that subjugation by the Communist Party before 1991 produced powerful impulses to seek autonomy thereafter. On the other hand, in retrospect communism created a military remarkably independent of civilian authority: the idea of a ministry of defense staffed by civilians and headed by someone other than an active duty or retired general, seemed absurd. The post-communist period has been an uneasy one, and in a brief space Michta sums up the tensions that have arisen between the military class and civilians determined to bring them to heel. One concludes that Polish civil- military relations will remain unsettled for some time to come, although the author argues that the main transition to Western patterns of military subordination to civilian control has occurred.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.
More Reviews on Military, Scientific, and Technological From This Issue