Who Fights: Substitution, Commutation, and "Green Card Troops"

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In discussions of political obligation, it is commonly assumed that duties follow from citizenship. However, the performance of a duty by aliens can lead to citizenship status in at least one critical case: service by noncitizen soldiers. While politicians and pundits recently have called citizenship a just reward for bearing arms and these “green card troops” another example of immigrant entrepreneurship in the United States, there is a good deal of ideological ambivalence about the policy. A clear discussion of its merits is crucial, particularly because in upending the traditionally accepted relationship between obligation and membership in a community, it gives new meaning to citizenship; it also forces a choice between our egalitarian and civic republican values. In this essay, I provide a theoretical framework for evaluating the policy normatively, as well as a political analysis of why—regardless of one’s normative stance—the practice of granting citizenship for military service is likely to continue into the future.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-188
Number of pages22
JournalDu Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007


  • Citizenship
  • Commutation
  • Military Service
  • Obligation
  • Substitution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Who Fights: Substitution, Commutation, and "Green Card Troops"'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this