Saturday, July 6, 2013

Nearly 130 Years Without War, Can Chile Fight Well?

So, it turns out Chile is the second most-peaceful Latin American country after Uruguay. That's according to a study by the Institute for Economics & Peace. Of 158 countries, Chile ranked 31st. But the country hasn't been at peace with itself, which could explain why it didn't rank any higher. Violent protests, occasional bombings and attacks by Mapuche radicals show that internal security remains a challenge. Still, these problems are on relatively low scale, and Chile has been able to get on with its peace. Chile has not fought a war in nearly 130 years (if you leave out its 1891 civil war and the 1973 military coup). That's an enviably long period of peace that figures to continue for the foreseeable future. Despite territorial disputes with Peru and Bolivia, the possibility of a new war is remote. Chile's armed forces may boast that they have never been defeated, but without a true test in 130 years, that claim of invincibility is open to debate. Even in their peacekeeping missions, Chilean troops have hardly come under fire. However, there are indications that if Chilean were to fight a war, they would perform well. In multinational wargames, they've often won praise from foreign commanders. When some former Chilean soldiers went to work for private security companies in Iraq, they earned glowing evaluations. Long ago, the armed forces had the good sense to lay solid foundations that are still paying dividends today. In 1886, Prussian tutors started molding the Army into the well-trained, highly disciplined force it remains today. In fact, all three services have patterned themselves after model forces: It's been said that Chile has a Prussian army, a British navy and an American air force. Of course, the military has had its share of major command blunders, such as the Navy's botched tsunami alert in 2010 and the asinine march through a blizzard that killed 44 soldiers in 2005.

2 comments:

James G. said...

IMHO, the best way to win a war is to be so well regarded that you never have to fight one. Sure there's plenty of luck involved in getting through that 130 years - the Argentinian junta attacked the Falklands instead of Chile, but for the most part I think the reason why Chile has enjoyed lasting peace is the reputation her armed services earned after many bloody and successful wars.
Juan Velasco I think backed down from attacking Chile because of this.

To me this is actually a TRIUMPH of properly employed military power to not have to fight in such a tumultuous region with belligerent neighbors. Why do you suppose Peru was so quick to go to war with Ecuador in the Cenepa several times, but does not threaten Chile? This is also probably a good reason why Chile has enjoyed a lot of foreign investment; besides the free-market economy of course.

James G. said...
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