Myth, Moderate, or Machiavellian?
Political Science Reviewer, Volume 42.2
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George Washington
Zachary Taylor
Dwight Eisenhower
George C. Marshall
Military Moderate Statesman
Samuel Huntington
James Mattis
Donald Trump

How to Cite

Myth, Moderate, or Machiavellian? Democratic Statesmanship and the Military Mind. (2020). The Political Science Reviewer, 44(2), 419-448.


The recent firestorm over James Mattis’s resignation as Secretary of Defense revives a historically popular American belief in a distinctive model of democratic statesmanship—the military moderate. Borne out of the national public memory of the paradigmatic first president of the United States, the concept of this model establishes the public desirability of certain characteristics such as military professionalism, non-partisanship, and disdain for politics. These characteristics are particularly in demand under certain national conditions, specifically periods of stabilization and potential single-party domination. By briefly outlining some key ideas associated with the concept of the military moderate statesman, offering a few examples, and overlaying two relevant clarifying concepts from Machiavelli, this essay intends to open a new dialogue about this phenomenon and its place in American political thought.

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