Chapter 25: Military forces in contemporary development
Military forces are often cited as a direct and an indirect hindrance to national development. Spending on military forces, whether in peacetime or during conflict, is viewed as diverting funds which could otherwise be used for development and other purposes. At the level of national budgets, in both developed and developing country contexts, the ‘guns or butter’ debate captures the dilemma of whether states should devote national resources to military/defence or to civilian goods. In a more direct relationship, we are told that conflict and insecurity damage and may even reverse development, hampering efforts to reduce poverty and to meet targets such as the Millennium Development Goals (World Bank, 2011: 60). Sustained military campaigns can be linked to population displacement, destruction of infrastructure, insecurity and uncertainty, with devastating impacts on national development and the lives of citizens. This is however only part of the story of the roles played by military forces in relation to contemporary development. The starting point for this chapter is the observation that in many contexts development has become an embedded part of the roles and operations of military forces. Examples can be found which support this claim in relation to both national and international forces. Put simply, development has become something that the military ‘does’. Although this is not a new phenomenon and its desirability is contested, military forces appear to be playing a growing role in development. This has been explored elsewhere in relation to the delivery of humanitarian aid and assistance.
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