MILITARY DEPENDENCE AND POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE: THE CASE OF CANADA
by Richard A. Preston
The topic "Armed Forces and Colonial Development" calls at first sight for a study of the contributions that armies made directly to colonial economic, social and political development. But that would reflect modern thought rather than the historic imperial-colonial relationship. For the idea that armies are mod- ernizing and developing agents is a post-colonial myth. So, in India the army is often now regarded as the most modern sector of Indian society, but merely be- cause "the military has a brusqueness of manner and a routinized method of problem-solving which often passes for development." 1
It is true that under British rule the Indian army did do something for eco- nomic and social development. The military undertook or supervised, public works, railways, and irrigation canals, and dams. They trained recruits who be- came a reservoir of manpower for civil employment on retirement. At the time of independence the Indian railways were completely operated by Eurasians, the offspring of soldiers of the Army railway companies and of Indian women. Many British officers retired to take up civil employment in India. The Army also stimulated national unity by its use of English and of Hindustani as lingua franca and by its measures to reduce caste barriers. But the British Indian army was almost exclusively a keeper of the peace.
To explain Latin America's failure to develop after a century and a half of independence, some scholars have suggested that the most important element in both the colonial and the neocolonial relationships is economic dependence. They argue that many Latin American countries cannot develop with outside assistance but need a revolution to overthrow "comprador elites" enthroned by past imperial military powers and still maintained by outside military support. They postulate that this economic dependency theory may apply also elsewhere. But this theory has not yet been validated for the rest of the Third World by em- pirical evidence. 2
Meanwhile British historian David Fieldhouse has questioned the impor- tance of economic exploitation as a prime motive of western imperialism. He concluded that expansions occurred when the peripheral relationships between advanced western European economies and those of less developed societies became unstable. He ascribed expansion to the "man on the spot," often a sol- dier.3 Fieldhouse holds that the use of force for economic purposes was Out of character with nineteenth-century conventions.4 He implies that order rather than exploitation was the chief factor in imperial expansion.