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No power vacuum: national security neglect and the defence sector in Brazil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Raphael C. Lima, Peterson F. Silva, Gunther Rudzit

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalDefence Studies
E-pub ahead of print30 Nov 2020

King's Authors


This paper analyses the relationship between national security policymaking and the defence sector. The goal is to understand how a lack of attention to national security policymaking affects the defence sector and vice-versa using Brazil as a case study. Our main argument is that a lack of attention in national security policymaking by civilian elites can weaken political controls over the armed forces, inhibit effective defence reforms that challenge military prerogatives, and, over time, reinforce militarization in national security policymaking, especially in its three main pillars: defence, intelligence, and public safety. We call this process national security neglect. Our case study shows that as internal security challenges grew in complexity, civilian political elites pushed the military to dealing with public safety, border security, and national security policymaking. Civilians also delegated civilian posts to the armed forces in defence, public safety and intelligence, instead of engaging in broader reforms. This led to a vicious cycle of military dependency, deteriorated the already fragile political controls over the armed forces, inhibited defence reforms, and increased the military role in the state and society.

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