Thanks for Your Service: The Causes and Consequences of Public Confidence in the US Military

Peter D. Feaver


Oxford University Press

What explains the high levels of public confidence in the US military and does high confidence matter? In Thanks for Your Service, the eminent civil-military relations scholar Peter D. Feaver addresses this question and focuses on what it means for the military. Proprietary survey data show that confidence is partly based on public beliefs about the military's high competence, adherence to high professional ethics, and a determination to stand apart from the bitter divisions of partisan politics. However, as Feaver argues, confidence is also shaped by a partisan gap and by social desirability bias, the idea that some individuals express confidence in the military because they believe that is the socially approved attitude to hold. Not only does Feaver help us understand how and why the public has confidence in the military, but he also exposes problems that policymakers need to be aware of. Specifically, this book traces how confidence in the institution shapes public attitudes on the use of force and may not always reinforce best practices in democratic civil-military relations.