What to do in the barracks?

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By MANUEL DOMINGOS NETO*

Any country project should know what to do with the Armed Forces

Sincere Democrats say: the military must go back to barracks. If I hardly ask: do what? Form new Bolsonaros, Helenos, Villas Boas, Pazuellos, Etchegoyens or worse? Develop “synergies” with the Judiciary and other branches of the State, as pointed out by Piero Leirner? Co-opting civilian allies by handing out medals by the handful, as Ana Penido warns? Melting the electoral dispute with tweets, contemporary versions of eternal threats to the democratic order, as emphasized by Eliézer Rizzo? Painting the curb, as Cristina Serra suggested in an outburst? Act as a contractor for engineering works, as Lula mentioned? Keeping the “military family”, the biggest and craziest reactionary political organization in the country operating?

Invent versions of the history of Brazil, arrogating to themselves the condition of fathers of the country and stigmatizing those who fought for social changes? Arapongar those who dream of land, work and housing? Exercising for operations to guarantee the law that benefits those from above and the order that massacres those from below? Wasting public money buying weapons and equipment that do not defend Brazil, but reinforce the power of imperial powers, as I have been insisting?

Anyone who wants a sovereign country and a society that overcomes the cruel colonial heritage needs to know what to do with the ranks. So far, generals have said what they think is good and bad for the country. It's past time for Brazilians to define how they should be and what the ranks we fund should do. The defense of Brazil is an eminently political matter.

It is not appropriate to think that the military is incompetent to govern. They are so competent that they have imposed regimes and ruled or conditioned rulers since the end of the monarchy! Its competence is eloquently demonstrated: Brazil has preserved archaic structures and maintained dependence on powerful foreigners. To say that they are incompetent, as José Luís Fiori and William Nozaki did, is to mask the evidence: the purposes of the ranks contradict social aspirations.

If we take popular sovereignty seriously, let's answer the question: what to do with the ranks? Without answering it, we will show fear of being happy.

It is unproductive and unreasonable to talk about “nation project”, “country project” or “society project” without knowing what to do with the ranks. It is vain to think of a proud and active foreign policy without instruments of force. The same for economic development and beneficial social change. The ranks we have were structured for a backward country in every respect. I mean, everyone, including scientific and technological backwardness.

Looking closely, the nationalist and developmentalist legend of yesteryear resulted from forced situations, including the social demand driven by the communists. Let's go back to reading João Quartim de Moraes.

Without pressure from the communes, the ranks could have supported Hitler. The communes praised the generals who contributed to energy autonomy, science and the modernization of infrastructure. Finally, they contributed to establish a good image of the ranks.

The uniforms owe a lot to the communists. Only the quick order of those who sell them weapons and equipment explains the fury with which they beat and bled patriots and social reformers. All over the world, communists have shown that they know how to die for their country. Anyone who kills a communist betrays the country.

We need to change the barracks structured to maintain unjust laws and unjust orders. For this, it is necessary to study them. Of all instruments of state, the ranks are the most complex and dangerous. They cling to tradition like the caterpillar to the helpless farmer's corn.

Speaking of tradition, I loved it when the president-elect of Chile recalled Gustav Mahler, a Bohemian Jew who, being a romantic, paved the way for the modern symphony. His compositions were long and complex, suggested by the streets. Mahler said that the tradition did not consist in the worship of ashes, but in the preservation of fire. He died in 1911, feeling the roar of the hecatomb.

When thinking about the return of the ranks to the barracks, let us strain our ears. The war is coming, if it hasn't already started. Let the ranks prepare. That's why we fund them, not to compete for little mouths in government positions or to wildly hunt those they consider heartless.

* Manuel Domingos Neto is a retired UFC/UFF professor, former president of the Brazilian Defense Studies Association (ABED) and former vice president of CNPq.

 

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