catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Third world armies

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The current problems of dissident elements of the army in East Timor raises a larger question about the function of the armed forces in the emerging nations of the world.  

This recalls some events from the common room at Lincoln College (North Adelaide) in the 1960s. There was a friendly running debate between some local students and a black African student on a number of topics, especially the armies of the newly emerging African states. He was asked why they spent so much money on their military when the more obvious needs were roads, schools and malaria control.

His defence can along these lines “Man, you just don’t UNDERSTAND, we need our armies for NATIONAL PRESTIGE” or words to that effect.

He was never able to explain who the armies would ever need to fight.

His audience was not convinced by his answers although they were young and not well informed of the details of events on the ground in Africa. I imagine their suspicions have not been relieved by subseqent events where it seems that the armies usually became the vehicle for the dictatorial leadership of some tribe or interest to control the other tribes and the popuulation at large.

I don’t have any answers to these problems, just questions. Like what are the respective roles of the UN, Australia and other stakeholders, and the East Timor administration?

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Written by Admin

May 28, 2006 at 9:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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