A politically neutral army is impossible

Update: March, 21/2013 - 10:28

by Le Chi – Vong Duc

Throughout human history and to this day no national army has been an independent social force, neither is it a branch of power. In all nations, the army is closely associated to the ruling political force. During peace or war, the function of the army is to defend the homeland - to defend the people and the social regime, the country's territorial integrity and unity. In order to fulfill that function, the army is put under the leadership of the ruling force with an objective to protect and defend the state and the ruling administration.

For Viet Nam, the Communist Party of Viet Nam is not only the group who gave birth to the nation, but also the organisation that has trained and educated the army. The Party is also the source of revolutionary military policies that unite all the armed forces. The Party Politburo was the leader and co-ordinator of various fronts, including military, political and diplomatic work during the war for national salvation. It gave directions to the Vietnamese armed forces in their attacks against the enemy, including major offensives such as the Dien Bien Phu campaign against the French, the 1968 General Spring Offensive, the Dien Bien Phu in the Air campaign in 1972 and the 1975 Spring General Offensive and Uprisings.

In all modern societies, nations are ruled by a ruling party. And armies are closely associated to the ruling party. In some countries, members of the army even make an oath to be loyal to the Head of State (who is normally also the leader of the ruling political party in the country).

In all political or societal crises, disputed political parties have always tried to lure the army to their side and turn it into the main tool to seize and hold power.

In many countries, social unrest can ignite rebellions. Of course, forces behind the scenes are nothing more than political organisations or forces.

But the ones who actually stage the coup d'etat are the army. Following a coup d'etat is intervention from external forces on the pretext of "democracy", "human rights" and other pretexts with an objective to gear rebellions toward the values they want to achieve. That's the script which has been used in political or revolutionary uprisings in modern societies.

Nowadays, many countries or nations are facing a modern war of invasion coming from the outside or a war "without gun fire", ideological warfare and even legal warfare. In other words, the enemy has resorted to sinister schemes, including "peaceful evolution", "economic warfare" and others. Such wars will not be the same in the old sense, and aim to change society or the country's leadership for their own economic benefits. A method used by the interventionists is to collaborate with opposition groups inside the country to cause chaotic situations in a nation.

At present, the national defence strategy is not limited in building an elite army, but extends to ensure modern weapons and Military Staff who have political firmness and are absolutely loyal to the nation. They must have excellent military skills and are ready to foil any enemy scheme to defend the homeland. In other words, in the course of defending the homeland and protecting the people, the army cannot be outside politics and must be subjected to the direct leadership of the Party.

It is not accidental that the late President Ho Chi Minh had said during a meeting to mark the 20th founding anniversary of the Viet Nam People's Army that "Our army is loyal to the Party, pious to the people and is ready to fight and sacrifice for the independence and freedom of the homeland, and for socialism. They will fulfill any tasks assigned to them, overcome all difficulties and challenges and defeat all enemies".

Keeping in mind the present context internationally and domestically, what is written in the Article 70 in the draft Constitution is totally appropriate and necessary.

However, in the context of international, regional and domestic politics, the virtue of the word "loyalty" is more authentic. Loyalty to the Party nowadays does not mean something general, but to the Political Platform of the Party, to pursue the objectives and the national path of independence which is closely associated with socialism and to implement an independent foreign policy - independence, self-reliance while maintaining a peaceful environment and stability for national development. To be loyal to the Party now means to support and resolutely fight against corruption and interest groups.

Abusing the campaign to ask people for comments on the amendments to the 1992 Constitution, quite many overseas on-line portals have run stories advocating "a multi-party democracy". Some authors even openly said the comments are not for perfecting the document but an "opportunity" to instigate a campaign to switch the current "one Party rule" to a "democratic" society with "more human rights"... More brazenly, some of them even put questions to army officers: "How long will you be sleeping?" Such language can be interpreted as an appeal calling on the armed forces to rebel.

People who have some political experiences all understand why some people, political organisations, radio or TV stations abroad, including the BBC, VOA and RFI have raised their opposition to Articles 4 and 70 in the amendments and they want to take them out.

There are still many things in our society that people, including cadres and party members are not happy about, particularly the widening gap between the rich and the poor or ideological degradation and decadent life-styles of a certain group of cadres and party members as pointed out at the 4th plenum of the Party Central Committee. That's a reality, but we cannot negate issues which have become a rule in politics. The sayings "the armed forces must be loyal to the Homeland and the people, not to any organisations" or "the duty of the armed forces is to protect the people and defend the homeland, not to defend any political party" are nonsense. Objectively speaking, such sayings are detrimental to the interest of the majority of the people, to the mission of defending the homeland of the Vietnamese People's Army.

No one can negate the fact that the Homeland, the people are the "hard part". Their existence is eternal for the homeland and the nation. But let's ask the question "are there any nations in the world that can exist ouside real historical conditions?"

In other words, in the world we are living in today, no nation or people can exist in a social regime or a state without the leadership of a political party. That's why, we can say in our present world, all armies are under the leadership of a ruling party. The point of view that the army "should only be loyal to the Homeland" and not subjected to the leadership of a political party is equivocal and unreal. It is alien to the world's modern history and to Viet Nam's revolutionary history. — VNS