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Arms and the Man, led by technology

It should be recognised that technological and geopolitical changes have removed a democratic check on government, and it is time to take stock.

New Haven

US DEFENCE Secretary nominee Ashton Carter's background in physics and technology is a reflection of the technological demands of modern warfare. Less well understood is that the nomination also signals the continuing erosion of manpower's part in America's armed forces.

In centuries past, the temporary erosion of civil rights during wartime - including free speech and freedom from detention without trial - was often counterbalanced by extensions of the franchise to fighting men, and sometimes also to the women who supported them. The need for soldiers to fight wars gave democracies a kind of built-in correction from the grassroots. From the American Revolution, when fighting-aged men...

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