7.4.6.2 Internal Activities of Defence Forces

A corrupt government, or one which lacks popular legitimacy, can use its defence forces to keep itself in power.  It can use the army to maintain law and order, even though army skills are inappropriate for use against fellow citizens (7.4.1.3).  An Economist article in 2014 on Sudan for example, Downhill, reported that:

“The army, which Mr Bashir once headed, still underpins the regime. Over 60% of government expenditure goes on defence and security—without including the cost of new hardware, which is off the books.”

If the army is independently powerful it can choose whether or not to keep a government in power – as in Egypt, for example.  A BBC article, Egypt’s army in control of vast business empire, reported that:

“Estimates vary as to the size of their industries – they account for around 8%-40% of Egypt’s gross national product.”

It is no coincidence that the army was sufficiently powerful to topple the president in 2013, as described by the BBC: Egypt crisis: Army ousts President Mohammed Morsi.

In some cultures, parading a defence capability is a demonstration of power and an opportunity to send diplomatic signals.  For example a BBC report, Russia stages massive WW2 parade despite Western boycott, observed the impressive new weaponry and the attendance of allies – including China and Venezuela; Western countries boycotted the event in protest against Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

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This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3a book, © PatternsofPower.org, 2020.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/7462a.htm