Political Trust & Distrust 27

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Politicizing the military or police is dangerous.  Opposition parties and minorities are at risk when armed forces or police are uniformly politicized in favor of a majority party. In such cases, there is deep distrust between government forces and portions of the citizenry.  In Venezuela, for example, the armed forces strongly and publicly support the government. Their support includes the use of force against protestors.[i]  Civil war becomes a possibility when distrust arises within the armed forces. That distrust is the natural result of split loyalties, ethnicities, or ideologies. For example, in Nigeria, ethnic tensions in the military led to a 1966 coup by one faction, and counter-coup by another faction, which was followed by a massacre and then a civil war accompanied by famine.[ii]

Image: Venezuelan police, 2014. AFP photo. Leo Ramirez.

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[i] Amnesty International. (2019). Venezuela.

[ii] Metz, H. (1992). Area Handbook Series: Nigeria-A Country Study.

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