There is a growing body of work on the military in developing countries. Few studies, have explored in-depth questions concerning the social origins of officers and enlisted men or trace career patterns within the armed forces of the developing world. With the exception of Latin America, it has been rare for a study to assess the performance of ruling, or non-ruling, militaries for political development and modernization of their societies. This oversight is exactly what Henry Bienen addresses in this collection.
The literature on militaries in developing countries has both widened and deepened. We now have the information needed in order to come to grips with military elites and no longer need to treat militaries in non-Western countries in undifferentiated fashion. Modernization and political development themselves have become "issues" through concern with new states. Once attention was focused on the study of developing areas it became necessary to consider the military as the maker of coups and the ruler of states and not merely as an important interest group in society.
The role of militaries as interest groups in developing areas has been neglected. There has been little evaluation of actual performance of ruling military regimes. Thus, although attention has been paid to military institutions since the 1960s, the debate over the role of the military as a modernizer in Asia, Africa, and Latin America has taken place in an empirical vacuum. It has been a debate to some extent uninformed by the kind of data gathering that has taken place in the study of militaries in advanced countries. The number of works devoted to the military and development makes it timely to assess, as this work does, the military in developing areas.
Henry Bienen is president of Northwestern University. Prior to that appointment, he was the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Bienen is the author of numerous books, including Kenya, the Politics of Participation and Control, Armed Forces, Conflict, and Change in Africa, and Voices of Power: World Leaders Speak.