December 09, 2006

The Case for Unilateral Demilitarization

We were informed this week that

"THE HOUSE Defence Committee has agreed to spend £40 million on the purchase of Chinese arms."

Is the road to greater military build-up the correct one for Stravaraland? What is the purpose of buying more guns?

The argument is that we can defend the land in case of foreign attack. Now this means in case Turkey pulls another 1974 one.

Now if Turkey does decide to pull another 1974 one, how long will our army last? I give it 24 hours if they are willing to go all the way, 48 hours if they want to minimize "collateral damage".

On the other hand we might be maintaining an army so that we may eventually get back what is rightfully ours. I think that is also unlikely to happen because the danger of losing what one currently has is much greater than getting anything back.

Therefore, What is the purpose of maintaining an army when it will prove useless in defence, and no-one will dare use it in attack?

I think there is no purpose, in fact a unilateral demilitarization will force Turkey to eventually withdraw its troops from European soil, it will give confidence to the T/C that the G/C are not out to get them, it will save the country lots of money, it will generate a much cleaner internal political scene both due to no rousfeti and no mizes, it will save the resources being spent on the "crazies" (who are actually the most sane) who do not want to take part in this mockery and, most importantly, it will forever eliminate the threat of Turkey pulling another 1974 one.

Am I wrong? Only rational arguments please!

originally posted by Apodimos Kypreos


Anonymous Loxias said...

Your argument is rational and makes sense. However, I think that politics does not (always) operate on rational principles.

09 December, 2006 14:08  
Blogger apodimos Kypreos said...

I agree that the issue is too sentimental.

On the other hand, if this is the rational way forward then people should grow up and start thinking maturely (rationally) about what they should be doing with their lives. In this case the rational thing to do is the right thing too, therefore it should win over the peoples' minds and then Cypriot politicians will follow. Maybe.

09 December, 2006 14:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been supporting the same line of thinking since the S-300 mockery. It is however proven over and over again, that in Stravaraland a peaceful attitude is faaaar away from the current mentality.

Έχεις δίκαιο φίλε μου, μα που να το βρεις;

09 December, 2006 15:59  
Anonymous m said...

Damn you! You are trying to take away all those lovely cold nights with souvla and zivania we spend in the fields, protecting our state, aren't you?!

And on a more serious note... you are 100% correct, but politics and logic are opposites and even more so in Cyprus, where we are sit on the fence of sanity/insanity. AERA!!!

10 December, 2006 16:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On this one I will agree. Unilateral demilitarization just for the sake of hearing what kind of 'security' anxiety certain Turkish Cypriots may wish to voice in the next round of negotiations.

It will also have a positive economic impact. Pouring money in the army is like pouring money in a rathole. Nothing much comes out of it. All that money can be spent on other things which can actually produce something.

However I beg to different on the rationality bit with the other commentators. Just because you disagree with a certain practice it doesn't make it irrational. In fact maintaining the National Guard has its own logic. Many people earn a living from it, probably money is made when they buy more guns and then it is the populist aspect. The Army is always a good thing for a feel good factor, parades and generally to create a false sense of security. Sleep tight we have the army to watch over us. Yes some people don't believe this, but some others genuinely think that abolishing the army will equal to a national disaster. That is a huge political cost for any government and it certainly requires a willingness to risk your position.

Of course our politicians are not known for their bold moves and they prefer to play it safe following the herd mentality of doing things as they were done before and sticking to their guns. It is understandable and from their perspective quite rational. However I agree it is ultimately self-defeating, so yes abolish the army and see what will happen next.

Plus we might earn a few hard needed brownie points. We said no to the Anan plan but we raise the stakes and unilaterally demilitarize our terrile armies which invaded god knows how many countries. Will you now put your money where your mouth is or continue complaining about the unwillingness of the Greek Cypriots for a solution.

Interesting. Sign a petition and send it to Pap but don't expect miracles but at least we tried.

10 December, 2006 18:04  
Blogger apodimos Kypreos said...

Politics and rationality will eventually find each other, even on the island for all seasons. Take it as a law of survival, eventually logical people will prevail and vote for the right politicians. The problem is how long this process will take.

I dont think arming is irrational though, apologies if that was misinterpreted. I think arming is the wrong medicine for the disease that the island has.

Unilaterally disarming is something like turning the other cheek when you are beaten. It goes completely against your innermost human feelings. Yet if you are weak, that might be the most effective response.

As for politicians and what they do, I agree with the previous comment but if there are enough people changing their minds then politicians will eventually realize that something has changed. I am not actually into signing petitions, and will therefore not sign one, but as the song goes, eimaste dyo, eimaste treis...

10 December, 2006 23:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have published my views on on the issue of purchasing the new chinese weapons for 40 to 50 million pounds in my blog However I agree that Cyprus Republic does not need an army and any temporary insecurity feelings of part of the population should not prevent us from supporting any action in the direction of applying pressure on Tassos and his government.

We should not forget though that, a good part of the population has economic benefits deriving directly or indirectly from the army, and like with Annan plan they will strongly oppose any such move. On their side they will have from the first moment all the Koulies, the Syllourides, the Mavroses kai den symmazevetai.

Its about time the rational thinkers of stravaraland start expressing their views openly and collectivly. Apodime, go for a petition and I will sign


11 December, 2006 00:18  
Blogger To Hlithio Agrino said...

Guys (& gals), dissarmament and dimilitarization are nice ideas but they are both out of our control.

Yes, we could sign petitions and demonstrate and.... BUT...

The average Cypriot middle class ZOPPOBORTOS is basically a chicken-shit sissy. He/she only acts brave when Victory is considered certain. If that was not the case, ALL the refugees could have marched unarmed pass the Green Line... The Occupation Army would have killed 5,000... 10,000... maybe 20,000 ...and then?

But non of "them" (or "us" if you prefer) would abandon his /her Frappe in Makariou Street and his / her smartass "I've got a beeter car / girlfriend / boyfriend / turd than you" attitude...

It is exactly that fear that maintains the presence of Armies, it is exactly those soiled underpants that stack up to build the walls behind which we hide.

First, we need to stop from feeling afraid.


Not easy, but simple.

11 December, 2006 03:35  
Blogger apodimos Kypreos said...


"We should not forget though that, a good part of the population has economic benefits deriving directly or indirectly from the army..."

Agreed, but disbanding the army does not mean that these people will become unemployed. They will become policemen, traffic patrollers, firemen and civil defence people, same salary and same benefits. There will just be no more incoming people in the army. Agreed there will still be intense lobby for the army to remain but there will also be lots of lobbying to be done from many kids who could get 2 years of their lives back. And even though zivania up in Klirou is good enough, I would much rather have it in more modern surroundings, or at least have the option for when and where I should be having zivania...

@To Hlithio Agrino said...

"Guys (& gals), dissarmament and dimilitarization are nice ideas but they are both out of our control."

Nothing is beyond the control of the people. The people of a country control their own destiny. Unfortunately for far too long nationalists dressed as patriots have hijacked all discussions and terrorised everyone because their terrorist methods are consistent with their ideology. Modest people need to take control, and they will eventually. The question is how high a price the silent majority will have to pay for the lunatic actions of the vocal minority...

And I agree with you that fear is the biggest enemy. It is as if the whole country is paralyzed by fear but cannot see that...

11 December, 2006 11:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On buying more weapons: This cannot be justified by military logic alone (or even at all), but that it could be explained by a combination of nepotist politics and domestic PR.

On the issue of unilateral demilitarisation (UDM): There is certainly a case for converting from a conscript to a professionalised military (or reduced conscription term with more widely professionalised military), but not necessarily a case for complete unilateral demilitarisation (in the absence of a settlement).

Here's how I see it:

1. Military Logic:
- Air superiority is key in winning any new conflict in Cyprus and Turkey clearly has the upper hand
- The key objective behind the 'common defensive dogma' between Greece and Cyprus was that Greek air support from Crete would counter Turkish air superiority
- The S-300 debacle rattled Turkey because it would have countered Turkey's air superiority (and therefore the overall balance of power) by doing away with Greek involvement in any escalation of conflict. With the dogma alone, Turkey knew that Greece would not get involved without risking a wider conflict in Thrace/Aegean etc.
- Having said that, I don't quite agree with the comment that Turkey can gain full control of Cyprus within 24-48 hours.
- A very large proportion of Greek Cypriot population live in densely populated urban areas (Nicosia, Limmasol etc), so air superiority alone will not guarantee full Turkish control at low casualty rates (on both sides). Turkey may have to be prepared to bomb urban areas to scare people into early surrender (e.g. cluster bombs/napalm, as they partly did in 1974). This will, of course, mean that they would face the wrath of public opinion as Israel did recently with South Lebanon, so this is not necessarily a course of action they will want to take.
- My understanding is that the National Guard is not trying to acquire weapons that could change the air superiority balance. They are probably artillery equipment or armoured vehicles - China is generally not very advanced in other areas of weaponry that utilise more sophisticated technology.
- To counter Turkey more effectively, the National Guard needs either ground-to-air missiles that change the air superiority balance or just more determined personnel who are prepared/trained for urban warfare....
- On UDM, I believe that the main issue will be that any conflicts post a settlement will be between informal extremist groups. UDM would probably play into Turkish Cypriot hands - the main source of arms for informal/terrorist groups would dry out before a settlement. I would think it would make more sense to completely disband the military (and have a fully demilitarised island) at the same time as a settlement. This would weaken the arguments on both sides for the existence of parallel mnilitaries and reduce the threat of terrorist activity on both sides.

VERDICT: Military logic cannot on its own explain why the national guard is arming. UDM however, may compromise the negotiating position for a settlement.

2. Domestic politics:
- There is no doubt that the National Guard (along with all other governmental and semi-governmental institutions) is used in the nepotism game in Cyprus. There are many aspects to this: ensuring conscripts get 'plum' postings, 'jobs for the boys' for offices/NCOs, National Guard supply contracts for local businesses and so on. Doing away with the National Guard will certainly be against the interests of many people.
- However, I agree with the comment that this does not mean that the alternatives for the losers are necessarily bad. In fact, under the Annan plan the rumours were that all officers/NCOs would get a significant pension and perhaps offers for alternative job placements in other government agencies
- There is also a good case for a professionalised (rather than a conscription) military. The 2+ years conscription is clearly out of place vs European practice and it seems a waste to spend this time without any concrete benefit for either society or the conscript. I believe there is an excellent prima facie case to either partly professionalise (and reduce conscription to, say, 1 year) or fully professionalise and disband conscription. The main objective of most conscripts (and the key reason used in favour of continuation of the current system) is that conscripts are needed to man the Green Line. This can be resolved with better technology (not sure whether manning with conscripts is effective...) or done away with altogether. Why does the border need to be manned at all - people can already freely move between the north and south (albeit via specific checkpoints) and any illegal movements are the job of the police (and arguably, if you want to move illegally then the army observation posts are not a deterrent...)
- One aspect which may be more convincing as an explanation is backhanders for the purchases/supply contracts with the Chinese. Weapons sales are almost always conducted via middlemen who generally take a decent percentage of the sale. A classic tactic is for the middleman to offer bribes to officials involved in the selection process. This aspect cannot be ignored as an explanation for the arming with Chinese weapons - how could the current mix of weapons be explained (Russian, French, Chinese etc).

VERDICT: Domestic politics/nepotism could only partly offer a justification for the arming.

3. Public Relations:
- Perhaps an alternative explanation is that further arming adds to the sense that there is a 'clear and present danger' in the form of the Turkish Army.
- This adds to the general sense of the 'Ambient Athosphere'. It reinforces the perceptions of the electorate that Turkish policy is expansionist and that Turkey - if given a chance - would grab the rest of Cyprus.
- The political aim this serves is clearly the continuation of the status quo (i.e. a public position on the need for a confederal bicommunal solution, but a private stance against anything that looks to change the current political system)
- If the objective is domestic PR, then £40 million is a steal (especially when other forms of more conventional PR are not on the agenda given the gap between the publicly stated vs real objectives)

VERDICT: PR can offer a convincing explanation for the arming.

11 December, 2006 22:13  
Blogger apodimos Kypreos said...

That is a good one anonymous, you are not (or related to) Sokratis Hasikos by any chance? Just joking:)

I like the "40 million is a steal" relative to what the islanders could have paid for maintaining the climate of conflict... I wonder whether the process for buying the S300 was also started around 15 months before the 1998 elections? Anyone can find out? So then it is not just PR, it is Presidential PR...

11 December, 2006 22:49  

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