Accession Number:



Copper Soldiers: Forging New Roles for the Chilean Military

Descriptive Note:

Master's thesis

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



This thesis explains why Chile maintains military budgets in excess of its threat levels. Historically, Chile required a well-funded and capable military due to tense regional relations. However, resolution of border conflicts, equipment acquisitions, and superior economic performance reduced Chiles threats during the 1990s. Nonetheless, analysts attributed the continued high military budgets to an authoritarian hangover following General Pinochets reign 1973-1989. Pinochets 1998 arrest and trial diminished the power of the military, calling into question past explanations. The judiciary purged the state of junta-era commanders, younger more flexible leadership came into power, and the political parties agreed on constitutional reform. Yet, after sweeping constitutional reforms, budgets remained high. This thesis argues that the Chilean Government maintained defense budgets to further the normalization of civilian-military relations in the wake of Pinochets arrest and trial. The new military leadership admitted past human rights abuses and pledged subordination to the civilian government. The civilian leadership, in return, undertook no measures to reduce defense spending during the process of constitutional reform. Currently, Chile dedicates a higher percentage of its GDP to military expenditures than any other Latin American state. With relations stable, both the civilian elite and the military agreed to reorient the militarys mission towards peacekeeping. Peacekeeping reinforces civilian-military relations while benefiting each party individually. The civilian elite receive international prestige, which furthers their foreign policy goals, while the militarys mission and budgets are justified. The stable equilibrium guarantees Chile will remain a regional leader in peacekeeping for the future.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations

Distribution Statement: