Professor Aukue Aurum is broadly regarded as an expert on the Fornirian Military. He has a degree on Military Affairs from the University of Ilyer and worked with the Military in the days when it was controlled by the nobility, until he defected to the Underground Democratic Movement. He currently teaches Military Affairs at the University of Ilyer and works with the Fornirian Military as an independent advisor and analyst.
What is happening in Fornoire?
I believe that the government is trying to take the Council of Generals down by cracking down on the commanders, whilst not trying to cause too much instability. I worry that the military will result weakened by this purge. Whether the government is trying to reform or being power-hungry as it has been accused of, the military will be weak for a while.
They could try to fight back against this crackdown, so there could be minor unrest at best and all-out conflict at worse. It depends on how loyal the factions will be to either side. The military is confused and shaken right now, so for some time I do not expect that the military could effectively organise if it wants to attempt a coup d’etat again.
Why do you think the government chose this particular moment to act?
I guess the government wanted to deal with the Council as soon as possible. Some speculate that the government decided to act now despite a previous coup attempt by the fascists to show that it can stand against any threat. It might also be that they secured the loyalty of the Crown Forces. They are the most popular branch of the military, and it is believed that having their support could have increased the government’s legitimacy and power.
This trap for the military was a surprise to everyone. It was also very secretive, with even some government ministers not knowing. This was definitely a plan executed by a select few in the government. We will have to wait to see all their intentions as the situation develops.
Was it really a trap though? Or is it possible the government miscalculated how the military would react to the budget cuts?
If it was a simple miscalculation, the government would not be as successful on their raids. This “trap” certainly needed planning. Whether it was done on a whim or planned for months, the government must have been careful, cold and calculating. As I see it, this plot was very complex, and they would need some time of planning.
Do you think there is a chance the former nobility will seize the crackdown as a chance to campaign against the democratic government?
There is still a significant portion of the populace that believes in an absolute monarchy. And some democrats believe that the Council of Generals was good. The absolutist factions of the nobility might capitalise on these areas and attract some supporters.
Some believe that the government is power-hungry. They are mostly democrats, but they are also right-wring. The nobility might approach these with promises of conservatism, accusing the government of corrupting traditional values.
Does that mean then that public opinion is quite divided on the matter?
On the past system of government, I believe democrats are a majority. Even absolutist media have admitted that, with polls from both absolutist and democratic media ranging from 60% to 90% support. However, there is a geographic divide. Since the absolute monarchy was agricultural, the more rural North has more of the lion’s share regarding absolutist supporters, whilst the South, being more industrial and more exposed to democratic ideals, has less absolute monarchy supporters. The South also saw more crackdowns by the old regime because of those democratic ideals, making public opinion even more infuriated by the prospect of a return to the old system.
The Council of Generals is a different story. Most absolutists support it, and some democrats do as well. Absolutist media claims that 60%-80% of the population supports it, whilst the democratic side claims only 20%-30% do. Neutral media say that support is at around 40% of the population.
Will the recent crackdown affect these numbers?
I believe their popularity will be diminished. There are democratic media outlets already claiming that they lost almost all support, saying that only 1%-5% of the population supports them now. Neutral media might be more accurate, but since it is independent, it takes longer than biased news sources to calculate support.
How will the government act moving forward?
I believe they will try not only to crack down on the military, but to reform it as well. This has been their intention for quite some time. Some in Parliament have called for a citizens militia to be created to counter the military in the future. Taking one member per family, they could be called by the government to defend it if the military betrays them again.
I doubt that this idea will receive enough support, however, given that pacifist and anti-spending positions have a strong hold in the population. It might also receive opposition from some core democrats, as they fear the government will have too much power with this force.
It may also try to keep as much stability as possible. For example, it might not purge some officers they want to, fearing that their factions will instantly revolt against the government, or it they are essential to the military. Most likely, the government will leave them alone, or try to convince them instead. It will purge as much as possible, however, while at the same trying to keep Fornoire stable and its military competent enough to fight.
It will also cmapaign against its enemies, to remain legitimate in the eyes of the citizens. As long as no significant opposition arises, the government can crack down on the military however, and for as long as, it pleases.
Should the government succeed, what steps should it take to renew the military?
Whilst I believe the government would try to make it loyal to itself, my opinion is that they should not be too harsh. Yes, reform it, but the government might go too far. In the past, loyalty was not really an issue. Fornoire was ruled by an absolute monarchy, and that regime appointed most of the military commanders today. But with a democratic government, never before seen in our history, the military and the government have split.
The government will certainly try to restore this loyalty by putting their own, but it may not necessarily be technocratic. I believe that the military’s desired competence and efficiency should be considered in these new appointments. If the government wants to have the same, or similar, efficient military as before, then it needs to be responsible. Appointees must have experience and studies. We must replace the criterion of loyalty with that of merit.
How do you see the relationship between the military and the civilian government moving forward, particularly in terms of mutual trust?
That is too vague to be defined now. The future is still uncertain, even if the government is purging the military left and right. The government will, however, try to reform the military and turn it like any other military in the world: loyal, trustworthy, efficient, modern, and, most important, a tool of the government.
Disclaimer: the views expressed in this interview do not necessarily reflect the views of The Byzantium Herald.