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Just War ReconsideredStrategy, Ethics, and Theory$
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James M. Dubik

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813168296

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813168296.001.0001

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Principals and Agents

Principals and Agents

(p.57) 3 Principals and Agents
Just War Reconsidered

James M. Dubik

University Press of Kentucky

Any attempt to understand the war-waging responsibilities of senior political and military leaders must examine two important civil-military theories: the principal-agent theory and its antecedent, the objective control theory. Both approaches analyze the interaction between senior civil and military leaders and the bureaucracies they head. This is the intersection at which waging war occurs. Both theories use a paradox to identify the core issue of the civil-military relationship in a democracy. On the one hand is a functional imperative: to provide security, which is a military force’s function, a nation’s military must be large enough and have sufficient skills, leadership, and materiel to create and sustain the capacities the nation needs to be secure relative to the threats that nation faces or believes it faces. On the other hand is a social imperative: a nation’s military cannot be so strong that it ends up destroying the very state it is designed to serve. Achieving a proper balance between the functional and the social imperatives is, for both the objective control theory and its principal-agent successor, the crux of the relationship between civil and military leaders as well as the bureaucracies that they lead.

Keywords:   principal-agent theory, objective control theory, civil-military, war waging, functional imperative, social imperative

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