7.4.6.2 Internal Activities of Defence Forces

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/7462.htm)

A corrupt government, or one which lacks popular legitimacy, can use its defence forces to keep itself in power:

  • A government can gather intelligence to uncover potential resistance (7.3.4.1), so that it can imprison or assassinate opposition leaders.
  • It can use the army to maintain law and order – despite the fact that army skills are inappropriate for use against fellow citizens (7.4.1.3). An Economist article on Sudan in 2014 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.”

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

  • In some cultures it is expected that a president would have all the trappings of power. 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, described new weaponry, the attendance of allies including China and Venezuela, and the Western boycott in protest against Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

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