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Chapter Forty-two. The Military, Civil Disorder, and Natural Disasters, 1877–2007

Charles A. Byler


Subject History » Military History
Study of History » Historiography

Place Northern America » United States of America

Key-Topics American Civil War, violence, war

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161497.2010.00044.x


Extract

Militaries exist primarily to fight wars, but the historical record is filled with examples of the military serving other purposes as well. A significant aspect of the American military's experience from the late nineteenth century onward involved efforts to re-establish order in cases of civil unrest or to relieve the distress caused by natural disasters. The military's responsibility for helping to maintain domestic order and aid disaster victims meant that soldiers have played an important part in momentous events in the nation's past, including such human-instigated actions as strikes, race riots, and antiwar protests and such acts of nature as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Considering the importance of the military's role in responding to civil disturbances and natural calamities, surprisingly few scholars have written works that focus on the subject of military intervention. Books on specific episodes of disorder and disaster are more common, but many of them merely describe the actions of the troops and offer little analysis of the legal, political, and operational issues that have arisen when soldiers appear on the streets to restore order or assist the victims of disaster. Although the scholarship on military intervention in cases of domestic disorder is not extensive, enough exists to help define some key issues regarding the subject. One issue concerns the decision ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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