Accepting death in the military: A Turkish-Dutch comparison

Soeters J. L. , van den Berg C. E. , Varoglu A. K. , Sigri U.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTERCULTURAL RELATIONS, vol.31, no.3, pp.299-315, 2007 (SSCI) identifier identifier


In this article, we examine the acceptance of dying among Turkish and Dutch military cadets and mid-career officers. This is an important issue because the so-called casualty factor seems to play an increasing role in decision-making on whether or not to initiate and continue military actions. It may be argued that the acceptance of casualties in the military varies across national armed forces. The Netherlands are considered to be a highly individualist society whose armed forces arc not very well-known for their martial tradition and history. The Turkish society, on the other hand, is more collectivistic and its armed forces are proud of their martial history, tradition and reputation. Survey data collected among cadets and mid-career officers in military academies and staff colleges of the two countries confirm these "images" to a large degree. The two samples display significant and substantial differences in accepting the risk of dying in the expected direction. In addition, we examine the impact of these differences on the willingness and ability to collaborate internationally. The results of these analyses confirm the so-called Terror Management Theory to a large degree. The implications of these results are discussed in the final part of this study. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.