The military role in internal defense and security: some problems
Rasmussen, Maria Jose Moyano
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A key issue in the post-Cold War world is whether military forces should be deployed in domestic law enforcement missions. Advocates of military involvement in domestic law enforcement see it as a useful strategy for avoiding immediate force reductions. In many new democracies this practice is not even questioned. Due to the traditional involvement of the military in law enforcement missions, when violence breaks out policy-makers and society-at-large assume that the military should be brought in. This paper will analyze some of the difficulties that emerge when the military is employed in domestic law enforcement. It discusses the American military's involvement in riot control in Los Angeles in 1992, the British military's thirty-year experience of riot control and counter-terrorism in Northern Ireland, and some lessons we derive from these two cases. In Los Angeles and Britain, public officials deployed the military in law enforcement missions as an act of desperation, without giving much thought to the impact that these decisions might have on military organizations, democratic practices, and the orderly functioning of civilian law enforcement agencies.
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