5 most important Motives of Military intervention in India

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S. Finer analyses five motives of military intervention:

1. National motives become a factor when military intervention is based on officer's conception of the national interest. For example, in Pakistan the threat of national disintegration prompted military intervention in October 1958. In 1977 the military under General Zia again intervened against the backdrop of political unrest during Pakistan Peoples' Party's (PPP) government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

2. Class motive is a part of military's own interest when the soldiers ac: behalf of particular social interests. In Latin America, military officers of middle class background historically sided with the middle classes their struggle to capture power from the dominant landowning oligarchs.

3. Ethnic motive is the most powerful factor for a coup. Many coups outgrowths of ethnic, religious or regional tensions within society, example, the first Nigerian Republic was destroyed by coups driven ethnic and regional rivalries.

4. Institutional interests can also provoke intervention. Threats to military's budget, autonomy, living standards or prestige may provoke discontent in the armed forces.

5. Personal Ambition: The authoritarian nature of Idi Amin's government Uganda between 1971 to 1979 was clearly shaped by his drive to a personal power.

Apart from these motives, military coups are associated with particular circumstances. The most significant of these are:

  • economic backwardness,
  • loss of legitimacy by civilian rulers,
  • conflict between the military and the government,
  • favourable international context.

There is a link between the incidence of military coup and economic underdevelopment. The overthrow of four years of civilian rule in Nigeria, in 1983, for example, occurred after a deterioration in the economy caused by falling oil prices, widespread poverty and deep social inequality. These factors provide the military a plea to intervene with a promise to deliver economic development.

Military may intervene when it senses that the legitimacy of existing institutions and ruling class is challenged and when it feels that its intervention is going to be successful. Most of the successful military regimes have been established in countries which have had a long history of colonial rule: Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and South-East Asia.

The degree to which values, goals and interests of the armed forces differ from the civilian government may lead to intervention. In Indonesia, Pakistan. and Nigeria, the military has taken over to 'save the nation'.

Finally, international pressure encourages military action. The case of Pinochet coup in Chile was encouraged by US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which guaranteed US diplomatic support to Pinochet once his military regime was established.

By all means, the military interventions are aimed at the creation of authoritarian regimes. But many times the civilians call the military for support either to overthrow or defend a constitutional government. In many societies the civilians and democratically elected governments attribute to the military 'a moderating power' that legitimise their intervention. Even weaker democratic governments in crisis situations become dependent on military support. Thus military intervention in politics varies from case to case. Moreover after 1980s, a trend towards democratisation arises, where the military governments handed back power to elected civilian leaders. Hence not all military coups are aimed at the creation .of military regimes nor do they all lead to military establishments. Hence it is difficult to predict the course to be followed in political, economic and social matters after a military coup.


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