The Moral Foundations of Restraint: Partisanship, Military Training, and Norms of Civilian Protection
Published in Journal of Peace Research (2022): https://doi.org/10.1177/00223433211059061
41 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2021 Last revised: 26 May 2022
Date Written: August 11, 2021
How does partisan identification shape the attitudes of U.S. military officers toward targeting civilians in war? Drawing on unique surveys of soon-to-be commissioned officers in twelve Army ROTC programs, we find that Democratic-leaning soldiers exhibit greater emphasis on norms of civilian protection -- known also as norms of restraint -- than Republican-leaning soldiers. This gap remains partially resilient after sustained exposure to military training and socialization. We attribute these partisan differences to insights from Moral Foundations Theory (MFT), which suggests that the moral values of Democrats and Republicans guide their views toward the individual use of force in combat. Our findings have implications for the impact of military training and socialization on restraint toward civilians in war.
Keywords: IHL, military, military training, politics, ideology, norms of restraint
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