The operation led by the Federal Police

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By MANUEL DOMINGOS NETO*

Brazil persists without instruments of force to support sovereign decisions in foreign policy and the Brazilian Armed Forces continue to unofficially integrate the vast military scheme commanded by the Pentagon

The search and seizure operations at the residence of generals close to Jair Bolsonaro and the arrest of two senior officers left those who value democracy with confidence. Whoever shouts, “no amnesty”, felt contemplated. Many highlighted that this was an unprecedented historical moment and applauded the courage of Minister Alexandre de Moraes. Most accept the idea that democracy won. In these dark times, it's great to have something relevant to celebrate.

But, it would be worth thinking... by accepting judicial decisions of this magnitude, don't corporations, deeply involved in anti-democratic maneuvers in recent years, convey the false notion that, suddenly, in an unprecedented move, they are seriously assuming the institutionality of the democratic game?

Would an action by Justice, however forceful it may be, be capable of altering the old military tendency to interfere in the political game?

It would be more sensible to imagine that the commanders' posture reveals their satisfaction with the prevalence of the ranks' intentions.

The current government has shown no willingness to change National Defense guidelines and, consequently, reform military institutions that are inept at saying no to hostile foreigners and capable of controlling society.

The military continues to guide the government in matters of Defense. Minister José Múcio clearly accepts his status as “representative” of the Forces, abdicating his status as a member of the political current voted at the polls.

As we know, the conduct of Defense policy has direct implications for the most varied areas of State action, in particular with external relations, Public Security, technical-scientific and industrial development. Defense policy is a key part of South American integration. When dictating Defense Policy, the military meddles as it pleases in the bowels of the State and society. In other words, he continues to exercise the tutelage configured throughout the republican regime.

The current government ensures the continuity of ancestral corporate practices that guarantee the prioritization of combating the “internal enemy” to the detriment of the ability to say no to potential foreign aggressors. Brazil continues to support extensive land ranks and avoid prioritizing its air-naval capacity; persists without instruments of force to support sovereign decisions in foreign policy. The Brazilian Armed Forces continue to unofficially integrate the vast military scheme commanded by the Pentagon.

Victorious in the main political clash, the military commands accept the sacrifice of some of their own in exchange for preserving their ability to influence public affairs and social life. 

Today, in essence, at a time when democratic institutions are showing vigor, an important step has been taken to contain the erosion of the image of the Armed Forces. Perhaps this is the most relevant meaning of the operation led by the Federal Police: compliance with the court decision occurs as an act of corporate protection.

The commanders knew it was impossible to emerge unscathed after the adventure they got themselves into by sponsoring Jair Bolsonaro and supporting his excesses. After all, they worked in favor of Lula's arrest and fraternized with rioters gathered in front of the barracks. In their tragic adventure, they involved all the corporations. No military unit commander failed to at least prevaricate.

The price to pay for the preservation of military institutions would be the sacrifice of some comrades, those most notoriously associated with the former president.

But there is no guarantee that the ongoing stage game will develop successfully. Will the officers under investigation today behave proudly in defense of their corporations? Will they accept being punished alone while preserving the image of the ranks?

This is a remote hypothesis, if we consider the conduct of Colonel Mauro Cid, who provided precious information to the investigators. It is difficult to imagine arrogant and brutal men, like generals Augusto Heleno and Braga Netto, resigning themselves to prison. It's easier to imagine them shooting, including at their opponents in uniform. The barracks cultivates camaraderie and disaffection.

As for the former president, even worse. Who bets on Jair Bolsonaro's moral standard? In prison, this man, with a ton of crimes behind him, will be able to bang his tongue between his teeth and dismantle the collective imagination so cultivated by the ranks. It would not be surprising if he is silenced.

Whatever the turn of events, the fact is that we are far from the end of a sad and tragic chapter in Brazilian history.

* Manuel Domingos Neto He is a retired UFC professor and former president of the Brazilian Association of Defense Studies (ABED). Author, among other books What to do with the military – Notes for a new National Defense (Reading Cabinet).


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