Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

The military: ’The grand speechless’

Global military spending in 2008 reached a historical record high of $1464 billion. This is twice that of Turkey’s GDP. Expenditure increased by 4 percent compared to 2007 and 45 percent compared to a decade ago.

This incredibly high figure is approximately 2.5 percent of the world’s total GDP. With the exception of Western and Eastern European countries, there is no country not increasing its military spending, observes the annual Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, report released in June.

U.S. military expenditures during former U.S. President George W. Bush’s eight-year nightmare tenure reached the highest since World War II on account of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The withdrawal from Iraq will take time and the war that will be intensified in Afghanistan will continue to place a sizable burden on U.S. military expenditures and of course economy. Russia is one of the countries increasing its military expenditure. Despite serious economic problems, our neighbor keeps transferring money to its military. The lion’s share in military spendings in Asia belongs to China, India, South Korea and Taiwan.

In Africa, the oil-rich Algeria increased military spending 18 percent to total of 5.2 billion in 2008.In Turkey, military expenditure jumped about a half billion dollars, from $11.155 billion in 2007 to 11.663 billion in 2008. To examine the SIPRI report on Turkey’s military spending for the period 1989-2008 please follow the link below: http://milexdata.sipri.org/result.php4

Unconditionally loyal and apolitical

The Modern French Army, resembling very much the Turkish army in structure, was built on two basic principles since the French Revolution and up until the 5th Republic founded by Charles de Gaule in 1958. The first is unconditional loyalty of the armed forces to legitimate governments. The military is a passive tool in government's hands because the administration can fulfill responsibilities only if the armed forces are 'unconscious'. What I mean here by unconsciousness is that in such armed forces' commanders blindly follow the directives of government without expressing any ideas because questioning orders makes the state and politics dysfunctional.

The principle of unconditional and unquestionable loyalty forms the basis of the principle of apoliticality. The judgments, tendencies and sympathies of commanders of the armed forces cannot be revealed; they are even treated as non-existent. Political passivity is the essence. Even though the loyalty of the armed forces needs to shift through government changes, their loyalty is in essence, to the people of the country. The French Army is always the 'grand speechless'. This is the opposite of today’s 'accountability' principle. The reason is that the armed forces should have no say or they should have a say only on their military performance.

The armed forces mechanism in Turkey, of course, is not functioning in this manner. The Turkish Armed Forces, or the TSK, continually comment on political issues and determine the political agenda by expressing opinion or sympathy. And where they should really speak to give an account on military activities, including the internal security and military expenditure, they are speechless. The Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, or TESEV, sponsored "Almanac Turkey 2006-2008 Security Sector and Democratic Oversight" edited by Ali Bayramoğlu and Ahmet İnsel was published this week. A timely venture. Civilian control and oversight is almost impossible in a country where security is understood solely in military terms. Like in the maxim attributed to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk: "If the motherland is at stake the rest is just a detail" approach.

Here are some chapters: Unbearable autonomy of military justice; the military’s dominance over the century-old struggle with the so-called 'religious backwardness and banditry'; the absolute decision making power of the military over military procurement and its non-accountability; the transformation of the security concept in light of relations with NATO and the European Union. The almanac also focuses on both media and public opinion in regard to the security sector, education and national security, civilian control over special security services, including the village guardianship, the place of the National Intelligence Organization, or MIT, among security institutions, the weight of the gendarmeries’ military nature over internal security, and restructuring of the police department based on security during the 1980-ies post-military coup era. It is worth reading!