The rising power of the military lobby in UK politics and society
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be over, but their after-effects linger. The Authoritarian Temptation describes how a media campaign kickstarted by Richard Dannatt as Chief of the General Staff has not only amplified the Army’s status in national life but reinforced the authoritarian drift of Westminster politics, where former military officers now hold sway among Conservatives.
The Labour opposition, veterans’ groups, charities, the media and the entertainment industry have all been incorporated into a broader militarist coalition.
Paul Dixon underlines the military’s role in pressing for maximum involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and 2006 deployment to Helmand. These were not just Blair’s wars. At home, a sceptical public was deluged with moral panics about victimised servicemen and government neglect.
Dixon systematically analyses the overlapping politics of the military and Conservative Party to argue that this ‘Militarisation Offensive’ has fostered reactionary ideas of the nation that are hostile to pluralism and political dissent. Our response, he argues, should be to de-militarise society and curb the power of the generals.
About the Author
Paul Dixon is a Teaching Fellow at the University of Leicester. He is the author of Performing the Northern Ireland Peace Process and edited The British Approach to Counterinsurgency.
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