Military forces in most progressive countries in the world are tasked with defending their homeland against foreign invasions and protecting the people against the dangers of great disasters to the country and human lives.
The army in a multi-party country is forced to be neutral, unable to take side with one party against the other. Looking around like Cambodia and Thailand, it is clear that the military must be a force neutral to the political parties.
The army formed in North Vietnam originally from the time of General Vo Nguyen Giap making an oath in the spirit of “loyalty to the country” and not mentioning parties.
However, in Vietnam until now, the Party has made laws forcing soldiers to take an oath of loyalty to the Communist Party and they make no differences between the communist party and the country.
The Vietnamese police regime makes the entire army into the “Party army” and forcing the entire population to pay taxes to support these apparatus.
Not only that, the Vietnamese military is also engaged in doing business and holding huge telecom privileges (like Viettel) and other lucrative real estate, making the number of corrupt generals continuously increasing in recent years.
The recent bloody barbaric case in Dong Tam is also a testament to the conflict between the military collusion with the government and the merciless repression of people ly.
The domestic media reported that General Secretary cum State President Nguyen Phu Trong reaffirmed the role of the army to be absolutely loyal to the Party, to the Fatherland, to stick blood and flesh to the people.
According to Thanh Nien, at the 11th Congress of the Army Party Committee for the 2020 – 2025 term, Mr. Trong said that in order to achieve the set goals of the 2020-2025 term, it is necessary to be deeply aware of the role of military, of the Military Party Committee.
According to him, the Vietnamese army is the people’s army and is placed under the “absolute and direct” leadership of the Party. Therefore, the Vietnamese army must be absolutely loyal to the Party, to the Fatherland, and to the people.
Loyal to the Communist Party
Mr. Trong affirmed: “The army must take the lead in the fight against more strongly against wrong and hostile views, not only in the press but within as well as internally as well as in society in order the wrong views not to appear and survive in the military.”
The 76-year-old General Secretary also said that the construction of the Military Party Committee must focus on strong politics and ideology and must be absolutely loyal to the Party.
His words were a reaffirmation of the Communist Party’s role with the Vietnam People’s Army in the context of many calls for the military forces to become non-political and stay outside of the party’s affairs, and its mission is to protect the interests of the country and the people only.
In 2013, a fundamental change in the Draft Constitution of 1992 was that the armed forces or the military “must be absolutely loyal to the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Fatherland and the people.” This is also the point that many people have criticized and protested.
Many people believe that it is necessary to “de-politicize the army,” to ask “the army to stay out of politics” and “the army is to protect the people, protect the country, not to defend any party or any other political institution.”
This view also states that Vietnam will not be able to have real democracy if the military is forced to remain loyal to the Communist Party or any party.
In return, if it knows to put the interests of the country and the people above or no longer afraid of losing power and interests, the Communist Party certainly does not need to force anyone to be loyal or protect themselves.
On the Propaganda page, magazine of the Central Propaganda Department, there is the article “There is no and never a ‘neutral army’ out of politics.” The article argues that the demands of “neutral army” or “stand out of politics” are one of the most sinister tricks in the “peaceful evolution” strategy of the hostile forces.
The article quotes Lenin and Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts to affirm: “This is a long-standing political, anti-scientific, deceitful argument, to separate the army from the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam, aimed at neutralizing and distracting the revolutionary army.”
Recently, corruption in the military, especially in terms of land, has become very complicated. Many high-ranking officers of the Ministry of National Defense were involved in a labor cycle related to “land corruption,” notably the case involving Admiral Nguyen Van Hien.
On August 17, a former commander and a former deputy commander of the 4th Corps with the rank of lieutenant general of the Vietnam People’s Army were warned by the Central Inspection Committee for “violating the principle, democratic focus, working regulations and law on land management and use.” Six other colonels from important industries from logistics to military medicine were also warned, according to Vietnamese press.
Trong’s remarks, as a “furnace man“, were commented by some netizens that corruption in the military is a major threat to the reputation of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
Was the Vietnamese military loyal to the party or the people first?
A fundamental change in the Draft Constitution of 1992 is that the armed forces or the military “must be absolutely loyal to the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Fatherland and the people.” This is also the point that many people have criticized and protested.
Among the objections was the Petition of 72 intellectuals. This 72 petition asks to remove the requirement for the military to be loyal to the Communist Party.
It does not take much knowledge about politics, the military to realize that in democratic countries, multi-party – or “capitalist” countries such as the UK, France and the US, it is normal for one party to come to power and the other to lose power.
And the fact that one party goes up, the other down doesn’t depend on the military. Whether they go up or down completely depends on whether or not they have popularity. Therefore, in those countries, whichever party came to power, the role and mission of the military did not change. In other words, the military does not have to be loyal to any political party or individual.
A prime example of military neutrality is that President Barack Obama, a Democrat, chooses two Republicans who belong to – or worked under presidents – Republicans as Secretary of Defense, as well as the fact that these two people agreed to hold that office.
In 2008, when he became president, Mr. Obama chose Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. Gates served for many years under Republican presidents and has served as Secretary of Defense since 2006, under President George W. Bush.
And recently, after being re-elected, President Obama nominated Chuck Hagel, a former Senator from the Republican Party, as Defense Secretary and approved by the US Senate.
Not only in democratic countries like the UK, France, or the US but also in democratized Asian countries – like South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines – the military also becomes neutral or independent. It is not forced to protect a specific party or individual.
Like in any other country, Vietnam will not have real democracy if the military is forced to remain loyal to the Communist Party or to any party, before both the Fatherland and the people. In return, if it knows whether to put the interests of the Fatherland and the people above or no longer fear of losing power and interests, the Communist Party certainly does not need to force anyone to be loyal or protect themselves.
Burma’s decision to relinquish power – and thus can initiate democratic openings – is a concrete case of leadership by civilian means and knowing based on the people, not by military might, a party or regime can legitimately stay in power because of the support of its own people and the international community.
Not only in Vietnam but in any other country, when a party forces the army to be loyal to it, placing its interest before the interests of the nation and the people, that party is definitely not fully and truly people trust in.