Military Governments Essay

Military GovernmentsCharles AquinoPolitical Science1/14/97Military governments have been around since the days of feudalism.Itis the oldest and most common political state.According to Shively, a militarygovernment is one in which a group of officers use their troops to take over thegovernmental apparatus and run it themselves.Military governments are usuallyweak in appeasing the masses for they are known to be brutal and power hungryand are also rather fragile, both internally and externally.

In its primitive state, existing as feudalism, the high rankingofficials/nobility and the military itself was composed solely of the eliteruling class.

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But as society became more complex, the role of the elite wasslightly altered as technology progressed and the nobility and kings no longercontrolled weapons nor could prevent the disintegration of the feudal society.

Modern military governments usually occur after the military stages acoup.A coup is the forceful deposition of a government by all or a portion ofthe armed forces and installation of a new military government.

Coupsordinarily take place when the present government poses a threat to the state orthe status quo.Because the military controls more armed power than anyone in astate, they have the ability to take over the government at any given time.InPower and Choice, Shively questions the notion of the infrequency of militarygovernments.Yes, they are common, but why aren’t they more common?The reasonbeing that as societies advance and become more complex, it is necessary for theruling elite to be more knowledgeable of the processes by which a government isoperated.This explains the recurrence of civilian-run governments.Themilitary may have a few leaders who are skilled politically, but the armedforces are not customarily trained to run governments.Recall that the role ofthe military is to protect and serve the state, therefore there is usually acycle, known as the Barracks cycle, in which the military brings about a coup,but later reestablishes civilian control, and is the new state threatensgovernmental stability, the military stages yet another coup, etc.The longerthe military stays in power, the more the political state exists unstably.

In Nigeria, for instance, numerous military coups were staged between1966 to 1978.In 1978, democracy was peacefully reestablished by publicconsensus, but five years later democracy fell once more to a military coup. Military rulers since then have negotiated the possibility of the restoration ofdemocracy in Nigeria, but efforts have been static and democracy still has notbeen established.Greece was operated by the military from 1967 through 1973. The military government was maintained for the six years by austere autocraticmeasures.In 1974, the military government was dismissed and democracy wasreinstated.The use of coercion as means of gaining power by the right-wingofficers was a way for them to attempt the establishment of autonomy.

The concept of legitimacy in military governments is also questionable. Other types of governments such as democratic, monarchical, and communistgovernments are all legitimized either by the electoral process as thedemocratic government is, by the rule of succession as the monarchicalgovernment is, or by Lenin’s theory that the Communist party must lead therevolution.In all other senses, the military government has no process ofchoice and the…..refore is not a true political state. Shively states thatpolitics, consists of the making of common decisions for a group through the useof power and of public choice.Since legitimacy can be defined as the belief onthe part of large numbers of people in a state that the existing governmentalstructure and/or the particular persons in office should appropriately wieldauthority, the question can be asked–are military governments legitimate?In atimocracy, according to Plato, the state is based on ambition and love honor andwar.When considering the idea of honor, the military is then concerned withthe rationalization of its occupancy of the state and are hence subject toinstitute a civilian-run government.

It is also necessary to understand the weakness of internal coalitionsin military governments. Analyzing the structure of the military, one findsthat it consists of different branches (navy, army, marines, and air force) anddifferent officers.Each branch, though a part of one military force, isconstantly in competition with each other.This creates difficulty inaccomplishing tasks assigned to the force as a whole.The lack of communicationand the presence of the ego creates a failure to succeed and an unfinished task.

Also the presence of officers of dissimilar philosophies and ideologies induceschaos when instructed to complete certain tasks with each other.In 1983, aterrorist attack occurred in Grenada and the United States planned to sendmilitary aid.Each branch was aware of incentives which created competitionbetween the navy, marines, and army.The officers of each branch could notagree on a strategy to work with and finally a group of marines was sent in tocontrol the guerrilla soldiers.They eventually were fired upon by theterrorists and a large number of marines were killed. The fact that the navy,marines, and army all had different devices of communication contributed to thefailure of the three groups to successfully defeat the terrorists and spare thelives of the soldiers killed. How could the military possibly run a governmentwhen they can’t function mutually?Due to their weak external consensus, theycan’t.Either one of those branches will be strong enough and take over as thedominant group and set up an autocracy or the coalition will break down andreturn to the previous form of government or evolve to a new sophisticatedgovernment.

In any case, military governments are weak internally and externally. They pose as forms of transitional governments, not necessarily in times ofrevolution, but in times when the state itself becomes weak or poses a threat tothe status quo.Though some military governments do perservere for years andyears without being overthrown, their inability to run the state efficientlyforces the military to restore democracy or to stage another overthrow of thegovernment.Also, because the military government itself takes power through noregular process as other, more stable forms of government, but simply seizes it,they encounter the problem of legitimacy.Lastly, coalitions internally are initself a whole other government.The weakness and competition present betweenthese coalitions usually causes the downfall of the military government andinstallment of a new civilian-run government decided so by the general consensus.

Generally, all military governments will fail in time and return to it previousgovernment or evolve to a whole new governmental system with a revolution.

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