Ethan Casey is a Seattle-based international journalist, frequent public speaker, and author of Alive and Well in Pakistan: A Human Journey in a Dangerous Time (2004).

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The News: Civilian control of the military

This week's installment of my column in the leading Pakistani daily The News draws lessons from the history of Pakistan and quotes Bill Center, a retired US Navy rear admiral, on the issues currently being debated in the US about civilian control of the military:

"One of the unacknowledged truths of the 21st-century world is that countries we call 'developing' are in some ways ahead of 'developed' ones. These euphemistic adjectives assume a chronological forward movement which entail 'development' toward affluence and liberal democracy. But we know in our hearts that this is wishful mumbo-jumbo. Pakistanis know it from long and direct experience living under military rule. Americans are just beginning to smell the coffee.

"As A J P Taylor observed in his biography of Bismarck, the armed forces are a fundamental institution in any state, and it does no good to wish or pretend otherwise. Military takeovers occur when the civilian-led political system breaks down or loses legitimacy. ..."

The full column is online here.

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