Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Army and Democracy

The world's two greatest democratic nations, American and Great Britain, have historically been mistrustful of large standing armies as a threat to freedom. This assumption has been born out countless times as continental nations with sizable military establishments such as France, Russia, Germany, and Spain, have often been under the mercy of tyrants chosen and buttressed by their powerful land armies.

An interesting contrast is of all the most stable countries in the Middle East are backed by very efficient Western-style armies. These include Turkey, Jordan, India, Pakistan, and now Iraq. Before you write off Pakistan, consider that it has been a hot-bed of terrorist activity since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the retreat of Al Qaeda into the country's mountains. It is a miracle that the Pakistani government hasn't fallen to the radicals long ago, mainly because of Musharraf and the army.

This gives some encouragement that the new Iraq, while seeming to falter as far as political progress goes, is standing up a very efficient and modern ground force, soon to be the best in the region. My prediction is that the Petraeus trained Iraqi army will continue to grow as a stabilizing force that will help the new government eventually find its legs.