Department of Political Science
Influencing Public Opinion on Intervention: Public Appeals by the Military
My research focused on whether military elites in society – both active and retired – can influence public opinion on complex policy issues like military intervention. Individuals face a cost-prohibitive proposition in educating themselves expertly in every issue domain of politics; instead, they rely heavily on taking ‘cues’ from social elites that are deemed credible. While much of the existing literature focuses on the ways that the media, partisan leaders, or international organizations can influence public opinion, little attention has been paid to how senior members of the military can play a role. Whether in the form of op-eds, media leaks, or appeals from the retired community, I examine whether military elites can swing public opinion in either direction, even when these appeals are made in stark opposition to the state preferences of civilian leadership.