American political scientist talks about U.S. president’s relationship with military

According to Pion-Berlin, senior military officers have been chosen to hold posts that in the past have been assigned to civilians.
Administration
28 August 2019
American political scientist talks about U.S. president’s relationship with military

The FGV´s Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration (FGV EBAPE), through its Professional Master’s in Public Administration coordination office, sponsored a talk on August 8, 2019, titled “President Trump and his Generals,” given by Professor David Pion-Berlin, considered one of the world’s leading experts on civilian-military relations.

The event, held in the school’s main building in Rio de Janeiro, brought together professors and students from FGV EBAPE and Brazil’s Army Command and General Staff School. The aim was to offer participants a better understanding of the present political situation in the United States under the administration of President Donald Trump. Professor Octavio Amorim Neto of FGV EBAPE’s Professional Master’s in Public Administration program organized the talk.

During his speech, Pion-Berlin described President Trump’s relations with the Armed Forces. According to him, senior military officers have been chosen to hold posts that in the past have been assigned to civilians. Despite this, according to the professor, Trump still makes most national security decisions himself. In fact, his military advisors often disagree with his political choices. As a consequence, there is uncertainty surrounding how the Trump administration would act in a possible international crisis.

Ugo Medrado, an academic master’s student at FGV EBAPE, attended the event. He said that the talk by Professor Pion-Berlin helped him get a better understanding of the United States’ political situation under Trump. “The Armed Forces have a lot of public prestige in the U.S., just as they do in Brazil. Consequently, rising politicians have tried to attract generals around them to benefit from this prestige. In turn, the military has a neutral stance when it comes to civilian policy, as a matter of principle,” he said.

Pion-Berlin concluded his presentation by emphasizing that Trump has set new precedents in civilian-military relations, breaking with traditional practices in the United States since the 18th century, as military officials now hold more senior governmental positions.

David Pion-Berlin is a professor of political science at the University of California in Riverside. He is internationally recognized for his research in the areas of civilian-military relations, defense, security and human rights. He also works as a consultant and speaker for the U.S. Army.