The Disposition to Intervene
WE HAVE been using the expression 'military intervention in politics'. By this we mean: The armed forces' constrained substitution of their own policies and/or their persons, for those of the recognized civilian authorities.
The military may pursue such intervention by acts of commission but also by acts of omission. It may act against the wishes of its government; or it may refuse to act when called on by its government. In either case it brings constraint to bear.
Now to intervene the military must have both occasion and disposition. By a 'disposition' we mean a combination of conscious motive and of a will or desire to act. It is this disposition that forms the subject of this chapter.
However, just as there are factors disposing the military to intervene, so there may be factors inhibiting them from such action. This is too easily lost sight of. In the nature of the case, armed forces that have intervened in politics are more vocal in explaining and justifying their action than are the numerous bodies of troops that have remained faithful to their obedience. We shall deal with them first.
The most obvious of such factors is, of course, the lack of motive. The military must not be conceived as everywhere simmering with discontent. We can therefore leave motives and turn to the second aspect of the disposition to intervene -- i.e. desire or will. An important factor inhibiting a desire to intervene is military professionalism.