In August, Brill Publishing will release “New Aspects of Religion in Ancient Athens: Honor, Authorities, Esthetics, and Society,” by Jon D. Mikalson (University of Virginia). The publisher’s description follows:
Jon D. Mikalson offers for classical and Hellenistic Athens a study of the terminology and contexts of praises of religious actions and artefacts and an investigation of the various authorities in religious activities. The terms of approbation apply to priests, priestesses, and lay individuals in various capacities as well as to sacrifices, dedications, and sanctuaries. From these a new esthetic of Greek religion emerges as well as a new social aspect of public religious practices. The authorities include oracles, traditional customs, laws, and decrees, and their hierarchy and interaction are described. The authority of the Ekklesia, Boule, administrative and military officials, priests, priestesses, and others is also delineated, and a new view of polis “control” of religion is put forward.
In June, the Cornell University Press will release “Religion on the Battlefield,” by Ron E. Hassner (University of California, Berkeley). The publisher’s description follows:
How does religion shape the modern battlefield? Ron E. Hassner proposes that religion acts as a force multiplier, both enabling and constraining military operations. This is true not only for religiously radicalized fighters but also for professional soldiers. In the last century, religion has influenced modern militaries in the timing of attacks, the selection of targets for assault, the zeal with which units execute their mission, and the ability of individual soldiers to face the challenge of war. Religious ideas have not provided the reasons why conventional militaries fight, but religious practices have influenced their ability to do so effectively.
In Religion on the Battlefield, Hassner focuses on the everyday practice of religion in a military context: the prayers, rituals, fasts, and feasts of the religious practitioners who make up the bulk of the adversaries in, bystanders to, and observers of armed conflicts. To show that religious practices have influenced battlefield decision making, Hassner draws most of his examples from major wars involving Western militaries. They include British soldiers in the trenches of World War I, U.S. pilots in World War II, and U.S. Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hassner shows that even modern, rational, and bureaucratized military organizations have taken—and must take—religious practice into account in the conduct of war.
This month, Rowman & Littlefield releases “Military Chaplains in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Beyond: Advisement and Leader Engagement in Highly Religious Environments” edited by Eric Patterson (Regent University). The publisher’s description follows:
The role of military chaplains has changed over the past decade as Western militaries have deployed to highly religious environments such as East Africa, Afghanistan, and Iraq. U.S. military chaplains, who are by definition non-combatants, have been called upon by their war-fighting commanders to take on new roles beyond providing religious services to the troops. Chaplains are now also required to engage the local citizenry and provide their commanders with assessments of the religious and cultural landscape outside the base and reach out to local civilian clerics in hostile territory in pursuit of peace and understanding.
In this edited volume, practitioners and scholars chronicle the changes that have happened in the field in the twenty-first century. Using concrete examples, this volume takes a critical look at the rapidly changing role of the military chaplain, and raises issues critical to U.S. foreign and national security policy and diplomacy.
This month, Harvard University Press publishes The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan by Aqil Shah (Princeton University). The publisher’s description follows.
Since Pakistan gained independence in 1947, only once has an elected government completed its tenure and peacefully transferred power to another elected government. In sharp contrast to neighboring India, the Muslim nation has been ruled by its military for over three decades. Even when they were not directly in control of the government, the armed forces maintained a firm grip on national politics. How the military became Pakistan’s foremost power elite and what its unchecked authority means for the future of this nuclear-armed nation are among the crucial questions Aqil Shah takes up in The Army and Democracy.
Pakistan’s and India’s armies inherited their organization, training, and doctrines from their British predecessor, along with an ethic that regarded politics as outside the military domain. But Pakistan’s weak national solidarity, exacerbated by a mentality that saw war with India looming around every corner, empowered the military to take national security and ultimately government into its own hands. As the military’s habit of disrupting the natural course of politics gained strength over time, it arrested the development of democratic institutions.
Based on archival materials, internal military documents, and over 100 interviews with politicians, civil servants, and Pakistani officers, including four service chiefs and three heads of the clandestine Inter-Services Intelligence, The Army and Democracy provides insight into the military’s contentious relationship with Pakistan’s civilian government. Shah identifies steps for reforming Pakistan’s armed forces and reducing its interference in politics, and sees lessons for fragile democracies striving to bring the military under civilian control.
Next month, the University of Michigan Press will publish Securing the Sacred: Religion, National Security, and the Western State by Robert Bosco (Centre College). The publisher’s description follows.
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Western nations have increasingly recognized religion as a consideration in domestic and foreign policy. In this empirical comparison of the securitization of Islam in Britain, France, and the United States, Robert M. Bosco argues that religion is a category of phenomena defined by the discourses and politics of both religious and state elites.
Despite significant theoretical distinctions between securitization on the domestic and the international levels, he finds that the outcome of addressing religion within the context of security hinges upon partnerships. Whereas states may harness the power of international allies, they cannot often find analogous domestic allies; therefore, states that attempt to securitize religion at home are more vulnerable to counterattack and more likely to abandon their efforts. This book makes a significant contribution to the fields of political theory, international relations, Islamic studies, and security/military studies.
At the always valuable Via Meadia, Walter Russell Mead has an interesting post concerning last week’s allegations by a former cadet that a “Christian Taliban” harasses non-believers at the US Military Academy. Mead is skeptical it’s as bad as the former cadet says and argues that Christianity in the military is a good thing. Nonetheless, he says, it’s important to strike a balance between the rights of believers and non-believers and he suggests that West Point review the situation. Serious Christians know, he writes, that their faith requires them to show “respect, fairness, and friendship for those outside the fold.”
Here’s something at the intersection of religion and statecraft about the Hindu tradition of the philosophy of war (compare, e.g., just war theory in the Catholic tradition): Hinduism and the Ethics of Warfare in South Asia: From Antiquity to the Present (CUP 2012) by Kaushik Roy (Jadavpur University). The publisher’s description follows.
This book challenges the view, common among Western scholars, that precolonial India lacked a tradition of military philosophy. It traces the evolution of theories of warfare in India from the dawn of civilization, focusing on the debate between Dharmayuddha (Just War) and Kutayuddha (Unjust War) within Hindu philosophy. This debate centers around four questions: What is war? What justifies it? How should it be waged? And what are its potential repercussions? This body of literature provides evidence of the historical evolution of strategic thought in the Indian subcontinent that has heretofore been neglected by modern historians. Further, it provides a counterpoint to scholarship in political science that engages solely with Western theories in its analysis of independent India’s philosophy of warfare. Ultimately, a better understanding of the legacy of ancient India’s strategic theorizing will enable more accurate analysis of modern India’s military and nuclear policies.
A federal court has reinstated the Establishment Clause claim of a West Point cadet who was disenrolled for plagiarism and related honor code violations. As part of the cadet’s punishment, he had been ordered by a panel to “stand with his body rigid in a military posture and to read aloud the ‘Cadet’s Prayer'”:
Oh God, our Father, Thou Searcher of human hearts, help us to draw near to Thee in sincerity and truth. May our religion be filled with gladness and may our worship of Thee be natural . . . . Help us . . . in doing our duty to Thee[.]
The Secretary of the Army had dismissed the cadet’s Establishment Clause claim for lack of standing. The court (DDC) disagreed and reinstated the claim, holding that the cadet had alleged an injury in fact.
The case is Spadone v. McHugh, 2012 WL 2017973 (D.D.C. June 6, 2012).
This morning, Rabbi Menachem Stern, a Chabad Lubavitch rabbi, will join the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps. It wasn’t always clear he could. Like other Hasidic Jews, Rabbi Stern interprets a passage from Leviticus to require men to wear beards. Army regulations generally forbid beards. Rabbi Stern sued, arguing that the no-beards rule, as applied to a Hasidic Jew like him, violated the Free Exercise Clause. The Army settled the case and granted Stern a waiver, as it has done for Sikh and Muslim soldiers whose religious beliefs also require them to wear beards.
I haven’t seen Rabbi Stern’s complaint, but I imagine he relied heavily on then-Judge Alito’s famous decision in Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Newark (3d Cir. 1999), which struck down a police department’s no-beards rule. The rule exempted police officers who grew beards for medical reasons, but not those who grew beards for religious reasons. Alito concluded that denying an exemption for religious reasons, while allowing an exemption for secular reasons, violated the Free Exercise Clause. Like the police department regulations in Fraternal Order of Police, Army regulations appear to allow soldiers to wear beards if a medical condition requires it.