What place for armed forces in a democracy?

zimbabwe_armyDemocrats are people who have decided to solve conflicts by non-violent means. A democracy can flourish only in peace time. (Pictured: Zimbabwe army)

Once war breaks out democratic constitutions are suspended; generals take over, and their way of solving conflicts is violent.

Zimbabwe is not a democracy, is not peaceful, because its ruling party is threatening violence whenever they encounter resistance. They do not solve conflicts by talking, negotiating, mediating, but by eliminating the opponent and rival for power.

Heroes and Armed Forces Days have true democrats worried. Because on these days taking up arms, shedding blood and revolutionary violence are glorified, rather than making peace through slow political processes.

An army is really a foreign body in a democracy. The military trains all the time and stands ready to use armed violence while democrats are determined to achieve their aims without threatening violence. If the army is not to corrupt democracy it must accept a limited role within the state, taking orders from a civilian government and see itself at the service of the people, not as the supreme power within the state. If the power of arms makes soldiers arrogant and hold civilians in contempt it undermines the democratic state.

A basic political problem of Zimbabwe is that the former liberation forces have not forsaken violence, have not given up the option of the gun. Armed police are ignoring rulings of the courts of law. War veterans are still dreaming of the days when holding weapons and threatening people with them gave them power no one could resist. If we want democracy and peace we must, all of us, down to the last war vet, give up those dreams and forsake armed violence, and give the army very limited space. We call peacemakers blessed, not warmongers.

Post published in: Opinions

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