By Herbert C. Huser, National Defense University. Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies
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Extra info for Argentine civil-military relations: from Alfonsín to Menem
The civil-military relationship as revealed in estado militar expresses the patterns of subordination, control, and influence that result from the competition for legitimacy of authority. The premise that legitimacy of authority is not a settled question in Argentina is recognizable and verifiable through examination of estado militar. The constructs outlined above make clear the nature of the civilmilitary relationship, both in its historical manifestations and in the Alfonsín and Menem administrations: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ The roots of the civil-military relationship lie in common political culture.
In this sense, Viola started a transition toward something other than outright military rule. Viola, as leader of the blandos (soft-liners), initiated several steps to reach some accommodation between the military institutions and the disaffected civilian sectors. He reduced the role of José Martínez de Hoz, the economic czar of the Proceso, and appointed more civilian ministers to reduce military visibility. He created the Multipartidaria, a forum for dialogue with the political parties. And he sought labor and business accords to try to reduce the animosities engendered by the deteriorating economic situation, as the economic bubble of false prosperity burst in the early 1980s.
With his alter ego Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear, he presided over the “Radical experiment” from 1916 until 1930, when he was ousted by Argentina’s first military coup. His legacy was a Radical Party that, more than any other party in Argentine history, would be cited as the vehicle of failed civilian politicians. Factionalism engendered even during his tenure would come to haunt the Radical Party, and uncompromising factions in the civilian polity often were cited by the military establishment (even as a fraction of 32 ARGENTINE CIVIL–MILITARY RELATIONS its number perpetrated a takeover) as its reason for having to rescue the nation from squabbling politicians.