As a strong element of materialistic national power, military strength has always served a strong coercive means to either take over other states or compel them into accepting political or economic demands. This means that military strength has been sought by almost every country in the world, and this trend is still being witnessed in contemporary times.
Currently, the United States has devised a $718 billion-dollar budget only for its military strength, followed by other regional powers such as China, France, Saudi Arabia the United Kingdom, and India. All of these states have been spending massively on their military strength. This is actually not a new aspect in the national power strategy. Military strength has been considered as the part and parcel of the national power in tangible terms.
Traditional vs Modern Military Power:
Fundamentally, the aspect of military power is one of the strong dimensions of national power. As a holistic concept, national power incorporates both soft elements as well as hard elements. The element of military strength lies in the hard elements from a traditional perspective. Itself, military power can be interpreted into many things in varied contexts. In contemporary times, military forces are not just limited to fighting inter-state wars, but they also serve their state’s citizens in different times of crisis. They also fight against insurgents or terrorists and maintain peace and order in tough socio-economic as well as political situations.
Military power has been considered as the major tool for dominating or controlling other nations of the world. As technology has grown in a rapid manner, the overall capacity of the military to cause destruction in the world has also increased. This has caused a massive uproar in the international community over the potential harm that can be caused by this extravagant military strength, especially unconventional.
Considering military power in the historical context, we can say that it has always been considered as an essential element of national power. However, in recent times, many states around the world have focused on the primary role of economy in world politics rather than military.
For instance, China and Japan are considered to be two of the strongest economies in the world with massive plans for regional and economic integration. However, this does not mean that they have left military strength aloof. They have strategized building up a strong economy in order to finance their military power, but they keep economic power at the top of the pyramid as opposed to countries like North Korea, Iraq, and the Soviet Union which failed in their plan.
Role of Military Strength in Middle East
In recent times, Middle Eastern politics has been shaped by military regimes as well as different elected rulers. In its history, the middle east has witnessed multiple coups, where the military has tried to take over the government once it establishes a strong base for its operations. The elected rulers, on the other hand, have tried to prevent the military from interfering in the political arena.
Therefore, the elected rulers are now trying to build their own loyal militaries to maintain order internally and keep the internal as well as external sovereignty intact. However, such military forces in the Middle East have been busy in stemming revolts rather than preparation for external wars.
The Impact of Colonialism in Middle East
The colonial history of the middle east plays a crucial role in the military strength being witnessed today. The middle eastern countries have failed to gain a strong political platform that could be universally accepted in the region. The majority of the people wanted to shift to the pre-colonization period where the monarch used to be the absolute ruler and the army as well as the clergy were under his control.
Even today, the clergy and the military are considered to be the two most important institutions in the middle east (Rubin, 1987), and these two were used by the post-colonial governments to secure the future of the region. The army was given the task to consolidate their independence and Islam became the grand focal point for law in the region (Khadduri, 1953)
Extended Role of the Military in the Middle East
As the military was now given the task of implementing the Islamic Laws, the role of the military from the traditional perspective had changed. The Armed forces were also involved in building educational institutions where army officials used to get education and training. Gradually, these officials transformed into the most trusted and respected members of society. People started backing them to join the civil service for the greater good. As a result, it was thought that the military would be able to create a united region in multiple communities across the middle east. The creation of the United Arab Republic and Pan Arabism can be considered as a manifestation of this line of thinking.
From an economic perspective, the military was also given the task of modernizing the economy as well. The officers were expected to build state-controlled economies, establish a system for equal distribution of wealth, and build a society based on egalitarianism and participation by the different parts of the community.
Overall, we can conclude that military power can never be ignored. It has always been an essential element of national power since times immemorial. However, in recent times, the role of the military has greatly extended into multiple soft domains as well. This aspect is precisely prevalent in the Middle east. One can clearly state that the role of Colonization has played a major role in extending the role of the military, but this aspect is now being witnessed across the world. Nevertheless, the military in the middle east has gained the support of the public through soft means, and they have been called as the guardians of peace and independence. Moreover, the role of the military as a heroic institution is likely to remain because of the increasing instability in the region.
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