In the path of the Imam (116)
In this episode, today we are going to continue discussing Imam Khomeini’s views on armed forces. This time we will focus on the Imam’s cautioning of the Armed Forces against entering political disputes in the country. First we will give you a general view of armed forces’ role in political affairs.
Safeguarding territorial integrity and establishment of internal order are the two major duties of armed forces in all countries. However, historical experiences have shown that armed forces have wielded their power for political purposes and transferring power. In such countries, armed forces have played significant roles in political developments. In many cases, they have tried to repel political parties in a bid to turn into the dominant power in the political arena. The interference and influence of armed forces in politics is an index to show how much a ruling system is democratic. Some theorists name two models for militarism and interference of armed forces in politics. The first model is direct interference of armed forces in politics and the second one is the culture of militarism and discipline as the pattern of dominance and obedience in people’s social life. Considering the fact that militarism leads to admiration of warmongering views in society, it is called as a political and social ailment. Interference of armed forces in politics can be seen in many types of ruling systems. Roosevelt and Eisenhower were two of the American presidents who caused the US armed forces dominate politics. Napoleon Bonaparte of France, too, caused the army dominate people’s political and social life to the extent that the military were given the mission to make domestic order and social coherence.
The theorists, who are concerned about armed forces’ meddling in politics, call “professionalism” of them as an effective way to overcome the problem. They maintain that armed forces’ meddling in politics has decreased in advanced societies because these forces are engaged in their specialized military affairs. Hence, they let politicians play their own role of administering the affairs of government.
Before the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Reza Khan founded officers’ faculty in 1300, decreased military budget to 1/3 while increasing the military four times, i.e. 150 thousand. Therefore, the military controlled power in the country as Reza Khan himself was a low-ranking military officer who had seized power through coup d’état. Militarism and interference of armed forces in politics reached its climax during the rule of Reza Khan’s son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, especially after the 1964 coup. In the post-coup era, particularly in 60s and 70s, the number of the military increased to 400 thousand from the previous 120 thousand. In view of this, during five years, 6 billion dollars were spent for arms purchase.
During the struggles of the Islamic Revolution, there was a public demand of preventing the military from interfering in politics. Imam Khomeini repeatedly explained this point in his speeches. In his testament, the Imam strongly prevented the armed forces from interfering in political parties and insisted that this would guarantee the military power of armed forces and their popularity. Imam Khomeini (God’s mercy upon him) writes in his testament, “My emphatic enjoinment to the Armed Forces is that, just as one of the regulations of the system is non-interference of the military in parties, groups and fronts, they should practice it and the Armed Forces, including the military, the police, IRGC, Basij and others, should not absolutely enter any party and group; and should keep away from political games. Thus, they can keep their military power and be immune from intra-group differences, and it is incumbent upon commanders to prevent the individuals under their command from entering parties.”