Materials of an International Seminar
Civil society and social development


To my mind the civil control over the Armed Forces is one of the most critical aspects of the problem in question. What is important is that it comes with the military culture and the issues should be taken together. I consider it appropriate to see what France's experience is in this field.
There are three sublevels in the structure of the military culture: the Armed Forces military culture, military culture of the state and military culture of society. These are three logical stages of the military culture development, if considered genetically. Therefore, on the one hand, the military culture is the backbone component, the core of the military culture system as a whole. On the other - the state and society, developing and transforming, begin operating as the subjects of the military culture and render the Armed Forces culture as their object.
In past, a potential of war determined the relations between the three cultures in France. With no military threats to worry about, the society tended to shift off the military load first of all by reducing military spendings. Being a daughter of the politics, the military system was nevertheless seen by politicos as a threat. But as soon as some danger came from abroad they would radically change their attitude. And again as the danger reduced the politicians would loose interest to the military issues. This is probably why the French lost in Sedane in 1871 and why they were defeated in 1940.
The wars of the past could not destroy life on the Planet in the face of a huge number of deaths and great shortage of resources. New weapons have greatly changed the situation. The global catastrophe is a real threat now and it has emphasized the humanitarian component of the military culture system that incorporates the society, state and Armed Forces sections. It is here that civil control should be implemented.
On the threshold of a new millennium, society tends to avert and neutralise conflicts by the use of force and this requires great changes to be made in the military culture of the Armed Forces. France believes that since long ago there has been no evident threat to its territorial and political integrity. However, the tasks have become even harder to accomplish. The French experts say that it is vital now to contribute to the security in Europe and the Mediterranean as well as to ensure the implementation of the international law. These tasks including peacekeeping operations in the world's flash points, anti-terrorism efforts, immigration control etc. are vital for Russia, too. The wide range of tasks leads to the strengthening of relations between the military cultures of society and the Armed Forces. It appears evident that the Armed Forces have to become more transparent.
Like any other social processes, the military culture cannot be a given system formed at one go. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Jean Joresse said that the French people was not interested in the military issues. It got used to be passive. The military problems had been resolved mostly by officers just like the religion was the fief of the priests and the administrative issues - the fief of the authorities. However, as the years had been passing the French had become aware of the necessity to be involved in the national defence. In 1932, General de Gaulle made a statement that became the logo of the French military reform. "We ought to build armed forces not according to our customs but to our requirements," he said.
We will not take a thorough consideration of where the supporters and opponents of the professional armed forces stood. The only thing that is worth mentioning here is that the discussion was not long. The public was not fully involved in the formation or the professional army. The main role was played here by President Chirac. In 1996, he announced transition to a professional system. The 1962 reform marked the transition from the era of conventional wars to the era of nuclear deterrence, while the 1996 reform led the French Armed Forces to the 21st century. An important trend is evident here: the president as the C-in-C makes the defence issue the top priority of his policy.
Russia made an attempt to modernize its Armed Forces in 1996 as well. Unfortunately, Decree 722 of the Russian President was not fulfilled. We can list a good many reasons why it failed, but I do not think it is the right place and time to discuss the issue.
I would like to take note of the fact that the military culture directly relies on the military model. There is no doubt that the transition to the professional model will make the military culture development more dynamic. It is sure to cover all subjects of civil control.