Guest Article By Adam John
Something remarkable has happened in the last few months. Some military leaders have become rather outspoken, thinking they can intervene in the political process. Obviously, I am not talking about Thailand since there has always been a disturbing dominance of the military within the political process. At the moment, the military is not even going through the charade of having a puppet civilian government and is instead openly ruling the country with absolute tyranny.
No, I am talking about the United Kingdom where for the first time in living memory the British people actually have a leader in the Labour party who is addressing political issues that people care about such as reducing housing costs and university tuition fees, increasing corporation tax and nationalizing the railway. It is true, Mr Corbyn’s progressive stance on refusing to use nuclear weapons and ending the UK’s nuclear weapons program may not be as popular with the public. However, the comments from certain military leaders in the British armed forces is quite unprecedented for recent times.
General Houghton appeared on a popular politics show openly raising his concerns about having a man like Mr Corbyn as Prime Minister. Last month, an unnamed British Army General was more frank while being interviewed by a daily newspaper. They said that a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government would not only face a ‘mutiny’ if it was to disband the UK’s nuclear program but also even if it considered leaving NATO or shrinking the size of the military.
To the military junta in Thailand this probably sounds completely reasonable. However, unlike in Thailand, politicians in the UK have the opportunity to explain to Generals what exactly their role is. Jeremy Corbyn gave an appropriate response when asked by a journalist what he thought of the General’s comments on the politics show. Since the ruling military junta does not have the opportunity to hear how a democracy is supposed to function from within their own country, because such people would be forced into silence, they would be wise to listen very carefully to what Mr Corbyn had to say because he spells out what the military should be doing.
“We live in a democracy where politicians are elected into parliament in order to take political decisions. The armed forces obviously must advise, obviously must put their point of view, obviously have a great deal of access to the Secretary of Defence, the Prime Minister, and of course every other Member of Parliament and opposition members. I do not think it is helpful if they start making political comments of a partisan and party political nature”. Corbyn ends the interview by stating that he doesn’t think that serving officers should be engaged in political debate.
Corbyn agrees that the military has an important role in serving society, not ruling society. I think this is the point the military in Thailand fail to understand. It is not the role of Thailand’s citizens to serve the military and there is no justification for the military to be engaged in political matters. If it is then it has clearly abused its power.