Besides the larger interpretation of the Salvadoran military and its theoretical contributions, the book also contains significant empirical contributions. These include the provision of new materials for understanding the military's nationalist, modernizing, and reformist ideology and discourse, especially during the 1950s and 1960s. . . . Anyone interested in twentieth-century Salvadoran politics and history should read this book. Students of political transitions involving the demobilization of revolutionary armies and authoritarian military establishments will also find many useful insights in this work.
With the resignation of General Renee Emilio Ponce in March 1993, the Salvadorian army’s sixty-year domination of El Salvador came to an end. The country’s January 1992 peace accords stripped the military of the power it once enjoyed, placing many areas under civilian rule. Establishing civilian control during the transition to democracy was no easy task, especially for a country that had never experienced even a brief period of democracy in its history. Phillip J. Williams and Knut Walter argue that prolonged military rule produced powerful obstacles that limited the possibilities for demilitarization in the wake of the peace accords. The failure of the accords to address several key aspects of the military’s political power had important implications for the democratic transition and for future civil-military relations. Drawing on an impressive array of primary source materials and interviews, this book will be valuable to students, scholars, and policy makers concerned with civil-military relations, democratic transitions, and the peace process in Central America.
Two of today's leading authorities on Central America—one a historian, the other a political scientist—have combined their complementary talents to produce a landmark study of Salvadoran politics. . . . An important contribution to the scholarly literature on militarism and transition, his clearly-written study will also be useful in the classroom and of interest to the general public.
A superbly crafted and extremely well written book. . . . With regard to comparable literature, Militarization and Demilitarization in El Salvador's Transition to Democracy is unique.
Militarization and Demilitarization in El Salvador's Transition to Democracy is the first major comprehensive examination of the El Salvadoran armed forces during the twentieth century.
Scholars and students alike will find Militarization and Demilitarization in El Salvador's Transition to Democracy to be an important addition to the literature on military involvement in Latin American politics. Williams and Walter have conducted careful research using a wide variety of primary sources to provide readers with new insights. Of particular interest are the many personal interviews with former and current high-ranking officers within the Salvadoran military. The authors' firm grasp of the discourse surrounding the Salvadoran armed forces, as well as their knowledge of the dominant theories governing military intervention in politics and disengagement makes Militarization and Demilitarization in El Salvador's Transition to Democracy an engaging synthesis of the existing literature on the topic and an ideal choice for graduate-level seminars.
Their presentatin of Salvadoran history provides impressive insight into how the military has developed its own set of interests and acted to pursue them. This material, in turn, produces a significant contribution to the literature on democratization by highlighting obstacles that may otherwise remain hidden.