Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Military's Role

Leo Zuckermann had an excellent piece earlier this week regarding the historic role of the army, in light of the recent changes to its legal jurisdiction. His point was that leaving the army to its own devices --i.e. the military fuero-- was a reasonably exchange for the army's promise not to get involved in politcs. Indeed, given the context of post-WWII Latin America, it was a very beneficial arrangement. But, he says, the time has come for change:
It's great that [the justices made the decision]. Because in Mexico we need a more intense and transparent relationship between the civilians and the military. We need to transcend this idea that the army is an independent and autonomous institution. An agency that is untouchable with its own rules and exemptions. We have to, at the end of the day, reconcile the military institutions with a new democratic reality.

We should recognize that the armed forces were a fundamental factor in the country's democratization. They didn't get in the way of, as has happened elsewhere, the democratic transition. Here they were respectful of the agreements with civilians that, later, led to the opening and democratization of the country.


But with the arrival of democracy, the time has come for the armed forces and the civilian authorities to adapt to the new democratic reality. The independence and autonomy that the armed forces enjoyed in the past is unsustainable.
He also recommends doing away with the requirement that the secretary of defense must be a military man.

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