By Fayaz Ganie
Around 55 Palestinians were killed, and thousands injured, by the Israeli forces in a single day. It can be described as one of the worst kinds of violence inflicted on Palestinians, violence of genocidal proportions. But, just after few hours of this deadly carnage, the Israeli Prime Minister defended his army by describing the violence as an act of ‘self-defense’. He said, “Every country has an obligation to defend its borders.” He further said, “The Hamas terrorist organization declares its intention to destroy Israel and sends thousand to breach the border fence in order to achieve this goal. We will continue to act with determination to protect our sovereignty and our citizens”.
It is not only this time but whenever such violence is inflicted upon the poor people of Palestine the similar kind of statements are issued to justify the brutal and horrific acts of the Israeli army. Elsewhere in the world the story is no different, whenever and wherever an army acts, the leadership of that country defends those actions without any qualms about the breach of the international law and the violations of sacred human rights. So, singling out Israel and blaming her only of issuing such statements is a gross misrepresentation of the facts, almost all the countries of the world do so to more or less extent. Israel does so for horrendous acts of violence and rights violations, others do so while the degree of violence is less grave but all resort to that.
In a sense the civilian leadership cannot afford to criticize the acts of their own army for the simple reason that the acts are sanctioned by this leadership. But , that never provides leverage to the civilian leadership to condone the acts of violence which could otherwise be easily avoided, and which cannot be allowed by any human standards. In a democratic world it becomes even more pressing to keep armies from crossing certain red lines, for crossing these lines rob the countries from the vital democratic credentials and the difference between democracy and despotism gets blurred.
However, if the current trends are any indication, it seems that the process of democratization of the world is over and now it is again the time of militarization, militarization of the world. In this process the countries have started building and shaping themselves along the military lines. They present their enemies bigger in size than they actually are and if there are no enemies a feeling is created where other country and group is presented nothing else but as an enemy.
Once the “dreaded enemies” are shown to the people of a country , then begins the process of glorification. Here the military is glorified along with the other instruments of the power of a country. It seems as if the country is in a perpetual state of war and there is no other way to come out of this war. The armed forces and military might is presented as the only panacea to deal with the situation. Defending the acts of the army is a natural corollary of the process of militarization and erosion of the democratization.
Whether it is the United States of America, Russia, India, and Pakistan or for that matter Saudi Arabia, all are defending their armies in all the circumstances. It is as if the armies are divinely ordained and guided and there is no human element, and human error, involved when it is about the acts of their armies. The acts are beyond any accountability and answering even if they cross all the red lines forbidden by human ethics and ethos.
This is the dangerous trend which could prove fatal for the world, if it has not already become so. The hard earned democratization of the world is under the direct line of fire and dictatorial and despotic tendencies are gaining upper hand. Accountability is considered as foreign to the institutions of power, especially their accountability to the people and the representatives of the people. No doubt, this way of treating the armed forces the world over may be hurting the people, groups and countries which are considered, and presented as enemies, but eventually it is going to hurt the world order and, therefore, the same countries that condone the acts of gross violations of international law.
It is this unaccountability which has provided these armies enough of leverage to take greater interests in the civilian administration and also to interfere in that. Sometimes, the interference turns into a coup d’état where the civilian administration is toppled and replaced by the army. Once in power , the army knows only the language of war thereby rendering the prospects of cooperation at the international relations bleak and possibility of wars more certain.
In many countries, it is narrow nationalism which leads to militarization. In these countries, self centered politicians use narrow nationalistic considerations for their own ends. They keep fear psychosis high in the populace as if the entire world is going to attack their country and they alone can save the country from the attacks. Glorification of army becomes the natural outcome of this, where these politicians have to glorify it in any case. By this they show their preparedness to face the imaginary attacks and also keep the institution of army in loop so that their rule is safeguarded from any threats from the army.
This state of affairs in one country is followed by the similar behavior by the rival countries, and in fact all the neighboring countries which leads in an arms race and extension of militarization in the entire region and eventually of the world. The arms race is in no country’s interest but the politicians, in connivance with some of the military leadership, show it as if it is the only recourse which could save the country from an imminent disaster and an imminent war, and the humanity from extinction.
Various conflicts of the world are unresolved because of this sort of attitude of politicians. These disputes are a vote minting machine for these politicians and any leader who tries to resolve these disputes is shown the way out of the corridors of power. Glorification of the army and the instruments of power here again become necessary for the reason that the unresolved nature of the conflicts demands that. The compulsions of power make politicians to keep the conflicts alive and the necessity of keeping conflicts alive leave the armies in a state of unaccountability. This thereby results in the grave violations of human rights, and disregard of international and moral laws.
Owing to this fact many irregularities have crept in the functioning of many professional armies of the world. These include embezzlements, trading armaments meant for army to antinational groups and organizations and acquiring and acquisition of substandard armaments in lieu of monetary benefits to the parties which conduct the agreements and arms deals. These are there due to the failure of the concerned leaders to make the institution of army, and armed forces, accountable.
In some countries the trend has developed where important functionaries of army act as spokespersons for the civilian leadership and governments of these countries. Instead of trying to make their countries secure these military men interfere in the working of the civilian government or take up the roles of civilian officials. There is no resentment from the civilian officials and instead the civilian government rewards them by assigning post retirement jobs or ministerial berths.
Had that not been the case, the armies could have been kept at the highest standard of functionality and highest level of accountability and no embezzlements and compromise could have been allowed to creep in. This trend has emboldened many armies to such an extent where they make mockery of the civilized laws of nations which is by no way an encouraging thing for a democratic country.
To summarize it, Israel has killed around hundred people in just few days time and maimed thousands but the head of the democratic government is defending their acts. This is pure and simple glorification of the acts which cannot be humanly sanctioned. It may be hurting the Palestinians the most but there are seeds of sufferings for the Israelis too, and even to the world. Similar is the story with the rest of the disputes and the parties to these disputes.
The time is ripe to stop the undue glorification of army and the armed forces. Human race is, and should be, identified more with peace than with violence and the same should be the story with the modern man of civilized and democratic society. If we provide a chance to militarization to take over further spaces in the world, it could lead to a threat to the existence of the entire human race. The need, and the urgent need, is to stop this militarization and correct the spots of erosions that have occurred in the democracy of the nations. Sustenance of human race demands to work that way, the sustenance should be paramount.
The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org