Declaring peace on the world, a letter by Oscar Arias

April 19, 2010

(In Spanish here)

In 1990, even before Hugo Chavez had stumbled into the world of Venezuelan politics, I was advocating the eliminations of the country’s Armed Forces, with only a corps like the National Guard remaining, overseen by civilians, not Generals, in order to maintain internal security. Last night, I used the hashtag #sinmilitares in Tweeter to send messages about this topic. Today, I had decided not to write about the grotesque spectacle of today as Hugo Chavez showed his military might, as Venezuelans live in the same squalor as when he got to power.

But then fate put the letter that I translate below in my Inbox, which expresses more eloquently that I could ever expect to express why Venezuela and all Latin American countries should get rid of their respective Armed Forces. Chavez’ toys and his own presence, in military custome, showed today more than ever why this should become a rallying cry for a post-Chavez Venezuela. Once again Oscar Arias shows why development is a state of mind, not something that depends on wealth. Kudos to the President of Costa Rica, let Venezuela get a guiding light like his sometime in what is left of my life!

San Jose, March 26, 2010

Sir
José Alberto Mujica Cordano
President of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay
Montevideo, Uruguay

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I do not write today to Don Jose Alberto Mujica Cordano, but to “Pepe” the revolutionary , that man who in the midst of the mud of horror, always kept intact the flower of justice, that dreamer who never turned off the light of utopia, not even in the darkest corner of his overlooked cell , that idealist who championed , despite insults and threats, an abiding faith in a better future for Uruguay and Latin America. I write to “Pepe” to say that there is still, in the backpack of time, a final utopia: the abolition of the Uruguayan army.

My words emerge from affection and from goodwill. I know that I have no mandate on the fate of your people. I do not mean to disrespect the sovereignty of a sister nation. I just want to give an advice that I see written on the wall of the history of mankind: armies are the enemies of development, the enemies of peace, the enemies of freedom and the enemies of joy.

In much of the world, and especially in Latin America, the armed forces have been the source of the most thankless collective memory. It was the military boot that trampled human rights in our region. It was the general’s voice that issued the most violent arrest warrants for students and artists. It was the hand of the soldier who fired into the back of innocent people. In the best of scenarios, the Latin American armies have meant a prohibitive expense for our economies. And in the worst one they have been a permanent trap for our democracies.

Uruguay does not need an army. Its internal security can be handled by the police, and its national security gains nothing from a military that will never be more powerful than its neighbors, which are also democracies. No matter how much it invests in its armed forces, Uruguay can not win an arms race against Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Venezuela. In the present circumstances, helplessness is a better national security policy for your people, than a military apparatus below that of your neighbors.

I speak from experience. Costa Rica was the first country in history to abolish its army and declare world peace. More than sixty years ago, another revolutionary Pepe, Commander José Figueres, decided to banish forever the armed forces from my country. Since then, Costa Ricans have never had to live in a war. They have not shed their blood again in a civil war. They have feared a coup, a dictatorship or a regime of political persecution. My people live in peace because they bet on life, they live in peace because they trusted the power of reason to govern the impulses of violence.

You will tell me, my dear friend, that Costa Rica lives in the middle of peaceful countries. But that was not always so. There was a time when my people bordered to the north and south with a dictatorship. There was a time when the whistle of shrapnel sounded very close to our borders. Instead of taking up arms, Costa Rica came out to fight for peace in Central America. We did not need the army. On the contrary, being demilitarized allowed us to be perceived as allies of all parties to the conflict. In truth I tell you that there has been no decision that has strengthened the Costa Rican national security more, than to eliminate the army.

Two other Latin American countries have followed our example, Panama and Haiti. In 1994, the Panamanian Congress approved through a constitutional reform, the abolition of the armed forces. Since then, Costa Rica and Panama have shared the most peaceful border in the world. And not coincidentally, they are also the two most successful economies in Central America. Because the money we used to destine to our armies, we now destine for the education of our children, the health of our citizens and the competitiveness of our industries and businesses. We have reaped the dividends of peace, also garnered to a lesser extent, by the people of Haiti, that with the abolition of their army ended an eternal string of coups.

There are so many martyrs in history against military tutelage! You who suffered under the yoke of oppression, now have the opportunity to rid forever from that yoke the children of tomorrow. When the future comes, in the words of Mario Benedetti, “With its sharp blade and its scales, asking firstly about the dreams, and then about the homelands, the memories and the newborns” We must know what we will say. We need to know what we have been. Let us hope that future will recognize in you, my friend the President, “Pepe” the revolutionary, who declared peace to the world and decreed life to be holy  in Uruguay.

A fraternal embrace,

Oscar Arias Sanchez
President of the Republic of Costa Rica

47 Responses to “Declaring peace on the world, a letter by Oscar Arias”

  1. m_astera Says:

    From my reading of history, going back to the Romans at least, a standing army has eventually bankrupted every country that had one.

    A standing army wants war, loot, or both; things that sane and peaceful people don’t want. They produce nothing of value, their only function is destructive, and they are an unconscionable drain on any economy in times of peace.

  2. FC Says:

    Well I’m sure the fine people at the border under attack by the FARC and other mercenary forces, completely helpless, kidnapped, assaulted, etc. would totally agree with you.

    While I agree that we really don’t need a standing army (submarines, tanks, warplanes, etc.), neither can we completely disarm ourselves. the FAN’s main role has always been counter-insurgency. I’ll remind the naysayers that the FAN repelled Castro’s guerrilla forces in the 1960’s.

    The National Guard is for internal security, but insurgencies like the FARC are best handled by a specially trained army. Helicopters are also useful for emergencies and evacuation in the case of natural disasters.

  3. Ed Says:

    “A standing army wants war, loot, or both; things that sane and peaceful people don’t want.”
    Well I would totally agree with this, if its author mentioned whose armies he/she is talking about. Talking of Roman armies is talking about IMPERIAL armies. Nowadays the USA and its minions represent that Imperial Power, and nobody can deny that is it’s armies that ” wants war, loot, or both; things that sane and peaceful people don’t want.” Since fortunately, not everybody is prepared to succumb to that Imperial Power, unfortunately they have to prepare to defend themselves against that UNWANTED foreign power.
    In this world today, there are “good” and “bad” Democracies, Dictatorships,Terrorists, Drug traffickers, media, citizens, and of course ARMIES. All depends whether they are with “US” or against “US”

  4. moctavio Says:

    The National Guard could run border security, if it did its job, there would be no problem. These people are helpless because the Chavez Government allows them to roam around, no more nor less.

  5. moctavio Says:

    The NG can have helicopters, no Generals though…

  6. moctavio Says:

    We need a revolution, no army, period.

  7. GB Says:

    It is all designed to kill.

  8. FC Says:

    “A standing army wants war, loot, or both; things that sane and peaceful people don’t want.”

    You’re talking about the past. Today’s armies are (generally) rooted as a profession. Well, 1st World Armies anyway. Latin American armies tried to be professional….

    Germany pioneered this mechanism to reduce the size of the standing army as much as possible with a reservist system where most able bodied men served in the army temporarily thereby allowing the army to increase size dramatically in the even of a general war.

    To me an army is a necessary evil as long there are still countries and borders. It’s inevitable. Costa Rica may have managed it, but then again Costa Rica is small and her resources are mostly her population not strategic resources.

  9. FC Says:

    Well Miguel, to me its wishful thinking, also the Venzuelan NG is not like the US NG. You would need to completely revamp and integrate the army and the NG to have a unified force for both internal security and border security.

    To me it’s still better to have one force for internal security (which usually involves completely different training, since it’s mainly non-lethal) and another against external threats (which DO exist).

  10. moctavio Says:

    External Threats: The US, Colombia and Brazil. It is not even worth fighting we lost day one. So, what’s the point? So much money to lose the first day of the war?

    Sign treaties with all three, that they will help you if anyone attacks you. It’s rather simple, if you want to be civilized.

  11. FC Says:

    “These people are helpless because the Chavez Government allows them to roam around, no more nor less.”

    If by them, you refer to the FARC Here I must disagree, The FARC have always attacked our borders. It’s true that under Chavez the FARC has flourished, but this is an OLD problem, not a new problem, TALK to ANYONE in Tachira and Apure at the borderders to get the scoop. Yes the FARC issues have worsened under Chavez, but if you were to magically change the government tomorrow and declare the FARC enemies, it would take an army to kick them out and KEEP them out.

  12. moctavio Says:

    Once again, nothing that a civilian run, well organized, well funded NG could not do.

  13. FC Says:

    Now Miguel let’s not be flippant. I personally don’t consider the US a threat. Both countries need each other too much, and the weapon against the US in that case is the oil supply. Neither Colombia nor Brazil can sustain an attack against us nor do they care to do so.

    Insurgencies continue to be the main threat today. the FARC, the ELN, urban guerillas, terrorists, etc. You need a combination of armed specialist forces and an intelligence apparatus to deal with the insurgencies.

  14. FC Says:

    “Once again, nothing that a civilian run, well organized, well funded NG could not do.”

    I’m not 100% sure I agree to that. By the time you finish training that NG it’s effectively a small army, thus defeating your primary purpose. It’s kind of like Japan. The so called JSDF is the Japanese Self Defense Force, but they effectively have the largest navy after the USN and they’re all trained.

    And while I agree that civilian oversight is required I wouldn’t allow civilians to actually RUN things. I don’t know about you but in my (technical) line of work I wouldn’t allow a bureaucrat or administrator to tell me HOW I should do things.

  15. FC Says:

    Nevertheless I DO wish for the same, just that I see a lot of problems with it. I don’t really consider it feasible. You ARE going to have trained soldiers on hand, with assault weapons. There’s no escaping that fact whether you call it a GN or an army. A standing police force won’t cut it.

  16. moctavio Says:

    I agree, to me the National Guard is an internal army in charge of protecting borders. I just dont need submarines, tanks, airplanes like Sukhois to do their jobs. Train people, dont buy expensive weapons. A well trained NG can do wonders.

    You have to cut the problem at the source, no army, no navy and no air force, sorry guys, you go home, you are not needed. I have always heard the same argument.

    To me it’s like eliminating the Bs., everyone says it cant be done, you need a local currency and the like. Well, what we have has not worked for like forever, let’s try something different.

  17. Bruni Says:

    I agree with Miguel…there should be a movement to eliminate Venezuelan army and maybe such movement will influence other countries in the region.

    Do you know how much could be done with the money spent in the military?

    IMHO, we need the military only in cases of disasters. We do not need to “defend” ourselves.

  18. ErneX Says:

    Even though I despise Chávez and the current military, it’s a hippie dream that Venezuela can go without it, we need it basically because our massive natural resources, you never know how or when shit can hit the fan and you need to defend the country.

    What needs to be done is get rid of the current regime and do a cleanup there and make it a decent and non-partisan entity like it should be.

  19. ErneX Says:

    I do agree with you that we do not need all the toys Hugo has been buying, specially when money is needed in other places…

  20. Roger Says:

    My first experience with the GN was just before Hugo tried to depose CAP. We ran one of their checkpoints at 2AM between PLC and Cd. Bolivar! Why stop and wake them, said my driver. I found the further west you went the less you saw them. In San Cistobal, there was a “Border Patrol” dressed in black uniforms. I don’t know how effective they were but, they were scary!
    The local police there were very Spanish with smart blue uniforms with two gold bands on them to denote they were police. Their State Police as well as those of states like Zulia were evident not the GN. Back at PLC (Puerto La Cruze) the cops in the tourist areas looked more like Dade County Sheriffs both with uniforms and patrol cars!
    My view of the Air Force at the time was that it was a good program. The best pilots would go on to fly for Venezuelan airlines. I did a lot of flying, those guy were good!
    The bottom line is: They could never defend Venezuela from Brazil in conventional warfare. But, who does that in LatAm? Nobody! Its all Insurgencies. Insurgents as we all know are just bandits that make a living collecting Vacuna from poor people and maintain their terroism with landmines and bombs, kidnapings and murder of anyone who gets in their way. Sad thing is, nobody can go into the jungle after people like that and not come out dirty!

  21. ErneX Says:

    Also, remember we have Colombia right next to us with guerrilla and paramilitary, so yeah, we kinda need to be able to defend ourselves.

  22. moctavio Says:

    Once again, a good NG protecting the border does that

  23. Carlos Says:

    Wish we could be like CR. Good professional police forces and coast guard should be enough to take care of drug runners, smugglers and guerillas. I agree with President Arias 100%.

  24. Kepler Says:

    Bravo, Miguel. I am all with you here.

    Venezuela’s military infatuation: now it is worse than ever, but it has been very bad since Independence times. It goes like this: Bolívar and his helpers were like Gods, we owned them everything, the military (and caudillos) are defending Bolívar’s heritage, they promote Bolívar’s adoration, if you don’t respect them you don’t respect Bolívar.

    It is going to be a great challenge: it is not only the vested interests in Venezuela, but in the countries that export weapons.

    Latin America could save so many billions…but that is bad for business for many countries.

  25. Roy Says:

    One thing that no one has mentioned and the letter from Oscar Arias pointedly avoided saying, is that the reason CR can not have an army is because the U.S. guarantees its security against external threat.

    I serious doubt that anyone will be interested in guaranteeing Venezuela’s security for quite some time.

  26. FC Says:

    Maybe we could be more like Iceland. It doesn’t have an official army but it does have an expeditionary peace-keeping force, air defense system, militarized coast guard, police and “tactical” police force (a counter terrorist unit), which seems to fit more of Venezuela’s real needs.

    Though I would not emulate the peace-keeping force unless we acquired foreign responsibilities. But yeah, tanks, submarines and warplanes are not needed.

    A well equipped coast guard means we could probably dispense with the frigates, we don’t have enough of them anyway to seriously counter a submarine attack (let the US do that for us if they want oil: defend our tankers), however an air-naval service with helicopters and turboprop aircraft can also be a cheap potent deterrent against submarines AND help keep track of smugglers or drug-runners.

    The GN would need to have two branches, internal security with limited arms and primarily equipped with crowd control and similar training, as well as rescue units for evacuation or disaster relief, a second branch that would specialize in counter-insurgency training and weapons, we would need them to be posted at our very porous borders.

    Air defense should be conserved. You can’t “offensively” use surface-to-air missiles. No one should feel threatened by that. That could be part of the NG as well.

    I think that’s the minimum we could afford to draw down. Alas, we are a very militarily oriented culture. The Military themselves might decide to overthrow the government BEFORE it could implement such a program.

  27. Pedrop Says:

    On the plus side a Venezuela without an Army, GN, Air Force or the likes will be open to a border invasion.

    That being so a Venezuela with Columbian, Brazilian or Guayanan control would more than likely be a more comfortable place than the present Cuban controlled Venezuela we now have.

    Bottom line is that even a Venezuelan controlled Venezuela has an 85% chance of screwing up.

  28. An Interested Observer Says:

    A very nice letter, well written, and the proposal makes all kinds of sense for Uruguay. If Mujica were to do that, it would give him an outstanding platform to speak out against the Venezuelan arms race. If he chose to.

  29. Megaescualidus Says:

    Pedrop,

    The “Columbia” you mention in your post may perhaps refer to Washington DC. If you meant to refer to the country sharing the western border with Venezuela, that country’s name is Colombia.

  30. Antonio Says:

    MO, it is good have the idea that armies are not necessary. Provably applies for Central America countries that can not do much against countries like USA, Mexico, etc.

    The problem is, for example, think about the last conflict with Colombia years ago when they put a Marine Vessel in Venezuelan Gulf. Without a dissuading force will provably lost the Venezuelan Gulf very rapidly and openly to Colombia. We have Brazil presence in south through the “garimpeiros” with Brazil government support and provably will loose more territory to Guyana.

    The actual Venezuelan army is a mess and a joke thanks to Chavez, chance are, in the future, will be loose rich recourses and the Venezuela Gulf, territories to Colombia, Brazil and Guyana. But without army will provably loose these more rapidly and openly and without any shame of our “friendly” neighbor countries.

    My other question is: Can we rely and trust in international laws or courts to solve litigates?

  31. Pedrop Says:

    And when the Army, GN and so on have taken early retirement the usual ”que hay aqui para mi” will send the country off in to another parallel world.

    Shame but that’s the way it will be.

  32. antonio Says:

    MO, the problem I see is that you rely in the ethical, impartial and “not hidden interest” of other countries, in treaties and international courts.

    Colombia and Brazil are examples of countries that are known because their expansion driven diplomacy, they always take opportunities to more political influence or even take other countries territories if you let them, they always prior these against friendship.

    International treaties and international courts are very influence by “big interest”, interest of big countries or transnational’s companies.

    It will always better a world without armies or without nuclear weapons, but we look for an “ideal world”, I do not know if these are going to be possible.

    I will look first for very efficient and professional army, NG, develop the frontiers and have very good diplomacy; very far different from this the joke of regime we have now, meanwhile, we expect sitting in a chair, looking for the “ideal world” coming.

    I endorse your opinion and Oscar Arias’ ideas, as an ideal. From a practical point view we have always have to be at defense of our interest against our neighbor.

    My ideal view is that we have to integrate all countries of the continent like one big country, like European Union and with more close integration of that. The best frontier is not to have a frontier or a nation to love irrationally or to defend for. Only, if we focus our economical competencies as a group without frontiers, will we more close to yours and Oscar Arias’ Ideas. We have the advance that we have to understand our self in only three languages.

  33. Bill Simpson of Slidell USA Says:

    Stop the Hugo arms build up? I don’t know, man. Those Columbians could turn on you, right after they finish taking Panama back, in order to get the revenue from the big new Panama Canal.
    And Brazil needs a lot more jungle. They are bumping into each other in the Amazon. The mosquitoes are all full from so many Brazilians living in there. And from what I can see on Google Earth, Venezuela still has a few tiny chunks of undeveloped jungle remaining. You can see it away from the coast, if you can’t find it on the ground. If I can find, your neighbors can too. Before you know it, the invaders will log Venezuela completely flat.
    The real threat would be Guyana. They are a dangerous world power. They are probably hiding thousands of tanks in that jungle along your border right now, like the Nazis did before the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944. If the Germans could hide all that stuff with no leaves on the trees, imagine what those Guyanans can hide under all those trees.
    And everyone knows that only your military keeps the Yankees from invading Venezuela, just like they did Iraq, in order to gain control of the largest oil reserve remaining on planet Earth in the Orinoco basin.
    Oh, that’s right, the Chinese got all the big Iraqi oil contracts. My bad.
    And suppose the small military idea spread to the entire South American continent? Would Venezuela want to be forever blamed for making thousands of weapon’s workers unemployed? Sounds like someone has been hanging out in Costa Rica too much to me.
    And I can tell you, a massive, bankrupting, military is perfect for keeping illegal aliens out of your country. Only a handful of them have ever made it into the United States.

  34. AndyG Says:

    many years ago one of my good friends who was from Mexico told me that the only thing the army in Mexico was for was to suppress the people. Interdependance goes a long way towards keeping tensions in check. The idea that in this day and age that a war of territorial conquest would take part of one country and join it to another is not very likley. When was the last time that happened in South America. It didnt work out too well in the Falklands. Generals are always fighting the present war with the tactics of the last war and the tools of the present. Fact is that economic warfare is more effective today. Giant armies with masses of tanks and planes clashing of a vast scale are a thing of the past. There is a lot to be said about how the arms race in Europe led to WWI. It is so obvious that the money would be much better spent in other ways than buying weapons, whos only purpose is to kill and destroy.

  35. loroferoz Says:

    I don’t know if still we will need a National Guard, a Coast Guard, and a Self-Defense Force limited to the defense of the territory and to defensive weapons. All run by civilians on civilian doctrines, with a strict prohibition of engaging in internal matters short of armed insurrection with weapons of war, i.e. guerrillas.

    But the typical Latin-american military, it’s doctrine, and the military caste is another matter. Those have to go, simply go away. Even if there were no valid substitute to them, which there is. Still then, the benefits far outstrip the risks.

  36. Tambopaxi Says:

    I agree with Arias, except that his idea should be applied to pretty much all of Latin America. External threats (real ones, not theoreticals) to LA countries are practically nil down here and for that reason, with the possible exception of Colombia, I can’t think of any country down here that needs a standing Army – or Navy, or Air Force.

    With the exception of minor international scraps (I’m thinking the Peru-Ecuador skirmish of the mid-90’s), LA armed forces have been used mostly to fight their own countrymen in conflicts like those in Colombia and Central America in the 80’s, or to oppress them as happened in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, etc., in the 20th century.

    As Loroferoz points out, the reason LA militaries exist now is that they’re basically a separate culture, society, and caste which has the goal of self-perpetuation and nothing else. I should say that about the only positive by-product or side effect of an otherwise useless set of organizations is that they often afford a means of upward social and economic mobility for lower class folks who normally couldn’t succeed in private business or public bureaucracies.

    All that said, the LA military are outfits constantly in search of missions and reasons to justify their continued existence. It’d be amusing to see if any of them tried to respond to Arias’ letter, because it applies, as I say to just about any country in LA in addition to Uruguay…

  37. juancho Says:

    “On the plus side a Venezuela without an Army, GN, Air Force or the likes will be open to a border invasion.”

    No such thing as border invasions in Latin America. There are border incursions, but as any accurate intel can assure you, no Latin American Army has the training, wherewithal, or will to mount an actual and sustained invasion. Little land grabs, sure, but nothing a trained NG couldn’t handle.

    This whole arms build up of Hugo’s is all for nothing, and we’re just watching our national resources pissed away for grown men playing cowboys and Indians. You will never see any of those arms used in any kind of actual “war,” of that you may be sure. Anyone who thinks ANY Latin American country is remotely capable of conducting real “war” has been into the Roncito way too long.

    Juancho

  38. loroferoz Says:

    “I should say that about the only positive by-product or side effect of an otherwise useless set of organizations is that they often afford a means of upward social and economic mobility for lower class folks who normally couldn’t succeed in private business or public bureaucracies.”

    I would rather let the lower class folks who can and do succeed in private business (and some in public service) live and prosper. You deserve success for creating value and jobs.

    Our history is too sadly rife with stories of productive and forward looking people stymied and destroyed by force, blackmail and obstruction.

    Most of it coming from lower-class (or upper-class) folks who could only succeed in oppressing and blackmailing others, and made a profession of it. Their “success” is still our poverty and our ruin.

  39. Kepler Says:

    I will be the Devil’s Advocate: do you think Lockheed Martin, EADS, Taurus, Israel Weapon Industries, Mauser et alia would be happy about it?

    A little episode told by Viktor Ostrovsky, former Mossad, about Sri Lanka: Israel was providing both weapons and training to both the Sri Lanka government and the Tamil rebels for years. That is not the norm, but all those companies act in anything but fair ways.

    France is deep in shit (or blood) in Niger and Congo supporting this or that movement so as to get an optimal control of resources there (uranium and coltan, among other things). That is just one example, but the same goes for most developed nations. Some of those that try to do their best to reign in their industries are the Scandinavian ones and yet we saw how Swedish toys end up in FARC camps.

    Imagine all those companies losing billions, billions, from the Latin American trade.

    Creepy, isn’t it?

  40. Antonio Says:

    History shows that countries with weaken armies loose their territories against country with more capable and powered army. Some times the process is slow, but Venezuela is a clear example of that. It is an occupation of territory from time to time.

    Look the territory of an original map of the “Capitania General de Venezuela” and today map. You see we loose territory to Brazil, Colombia and Guyana. No coincidence that we have the weakest army through history. Even the legal theory when there is a dispute is the territories are original from the Capitanias Generales at the time of the independence movement.

    I am not saying that the mad run of buying and shows arms from Chavez is the solution. This is a political circus with no sense of strategic.

    My clear example, with some distance or differences is Israel. Actually they are continuously gaining territories by force, moving out the original settlers of Palestine areas; because they have the army, the power, and they will always do it laughing to UN resolutions. And they will continuously do it until encounter a force of equal power in opposition to them. The very existence of Israel, in the beginning, is due to brutal force, because if they did not defeat by the Islamic Armies in the 6 days war, Israel will not exist today.

    England will do not return the Falkland Islands or Gibraltar if the UN or an International court says so, simple they will say to Argentina and Spain come and get them if you can.

  41. deananash Says:

    I agree with Miguel, the current strategies, whether it be monetary, military or political simply aren’t working. Time to try some new ideas.

    There simply isn’t the Sense of Urgency that is called for. The country continues it’s VERY LONG (way pre-Chavez) slide toward oblivion and Nero is fiddling.

    In fact, that’s WHY Chavez was elected, to try something radical. That was the most difficult of my friends (previous Chavez supporters) arguments to rebuke. Of course, I tried, explaining that sometimes no action is better than the clearly wrong action. (Chavez had been saying, over and over again, that he wanted Venezuela to emulate Cuba. What a power hungry fool.)

  42. m_astera Says:

    Kudos to Roger for coming up with something the standing army (or air force) contributes:

    “The best pilots would go on to fly for Venezuelan airlines.”

    The US is presently being bankrupted by the involvement of its standing army in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the 600+ military bases it maintains around the world. The figures I read last week said that the Pentagon budget is over 50% of US tax income. Is this a wise thing for a country with $12+ trillion in current debt to be spending its money on?

    I’ve also read any number of times that total US tax revenues are not enough to even pay the interest on the national debt.

    When (not if) these imperial military boondoggles and schemes to enrich arms contractors succeed in bankrupting the US completely, just who will be there to defend the country from its creditors? And who will pay the defenders?

    I must also comment on the argument for the military as an avenue of upward mobility for incompetents and losers who couldn’t make it doing anything productive in the private sector. Does anyone else see some faulty reasoning in that?

    Seems to me that statement applies to those on the government te*t across the board and around the world.

    Get a job, losers. A real job where you produce something of value.

  43. Kepler Says:

    I agree with Astera.
    It is good Miguel has brought up this topic and I think Venezuelans should start discussing it openly, very openly. The milicos won’t like it.

    The question would be if we can do it more or less as Costa Rica did, de un plumazo, or very slowly. Costa Rica did it after a very bloody civil war.

    Antonio:
    Once two German friends invited me to do some biking session in France.
    We took the bikes by train to the nearest German station to Strassbourg
    and then we crossed the border. There is a bridge across the Rhine and on the other side you see “Welcome to France” and a couple of abandoned border control houses, with nothing more. My companions took it for granted but I was just excited telling them, like a child: look, look, no soldier, no weapons! I knew like them how many wars had been fought across that border since recorded history. But further still: I still remembered the way borders are in Venezuela and what kind of shenanigans people often have to go through.
    In Germany they speak German and in France they speak French and they are very different in many ways.

    Here you still see some sporadic controls, but basically most of the time you don’t notice the borders until the house style changes and the bus stop signs are not blueish but green or the like. People have other priorities now.

    As for Israel: it does need a strong army, but that is a very special case. Besides: that country would not be taking over more and more Palestinian land (right now they are doing it) if the US told them they would freeze the billions in aid.

    But there is a very powerful lobby of evangelical fundamentalists who from being anti-Semitic turned into absolute we-stand-with-Israel freaks, there are the arms constractors and the Israeli lobby does a good job (no coincidence so many evangelical missionaries have male relatives in the marine and they all have signs stating “We stand with Israel” – no matter what)

  44. FC Says:

    For Venezuela it’s not possible no wise to eliminate the army completely. Refer to my ideas above on how we can try to be more like Iceland. Drawing down the armed forces and tailoring them to REAL needs rather fictional onces: internal security, border protection, counter-insurgency, coast-guard, air-naval patrol and rescue, disaster relief.

  45. firepigetteusa Says:

    Basically I agree with FC that there is a need to streamline the army towards Venezuela’s particular needs, however this may not be the best moment to be discussing the possible elimination or reduction of the army at a time that we are hoping it will help us get rid of Chavez.

  46. Kepler Says:

    I think on the contrary this is the best time ever to discuss about it.
    Otherwise it won’t ever end.


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