Legitimacy of violence: extra-military versus intra-military legitimacy

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This article is conceptually motivated. By drawing on cases from the U.S. and Israeli militaries, it aims at demonstrating the existence of two separate systems of legitimacy of military violence–extra-military and intra-military–and mapping the gaps between them. It conceptualizes the legitimacy of violence and then maps seven conditions under which gaps are created between the two systems, as follows: the uniqueness of military culture, the extent to which the military does not mirror society, field command’s broadening improvisation and interpretation, ambiguous political directives, the extent to which the military leverages a legitimacy dispute, troops’ resistance, and the diachronic systems of legitimacy. The appearance of these gaps is more likely to present with weakening of civilian control and the break-up of military hierarchy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-235
Number of pages20
JournalCritical Military Studies
Issue number2
Early online date2021
StateE-pub ahead of print - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation [ 719/18 ].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Civilian control
  • legitimacy
  • violence


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