THERE is so much idolisation of soldiers in the US.
They are considered heroes, saviours, true patriots and the best of what the US has to offer.
Not only in the news, but also in TV-shows: CSI, NCIS (random American city); American soldiers are venerated.
Even for the presidency, Americans prefer candidates with military background to the average civilian.
Even the so-called presidents from civilians have tried to create links with the military.
Out of the 44 presidents of the US, 31 had a military background.
More than a quarter of these attained the rank of general prior to becoming commander-in-chief.
Those who do not have military experience are at pains explaining why they do not have such credentials.
Barack Obama, during his presidential campaign in 2008, once said he considered joining the US military when he left school but decided not to because the Vietnam War was over and “…we weren’t engaged in an active military conflict at that point.”
However, the aspiration was not mentioned in either of his two volumes of memoirs.
Hillary Clinton was ridiculed in 1994 for stating that she tried to join the US marines in 1975, the year she married, but was rejected because she was too old and had poor eyesight.
Her husband Bill also concurred that she had tried to join the US Army.
This is the power of military credentials in the US.
The military service of George W. Bush and John Kerry came under heavy scrutiny during the 2004 presidential campaign.
At the beginning of the 115th Congress, about 102 members had served or were serving in the military; one more than at the beginning of the 114th Congress (101 members); but six fewer than at the beginning of the 113th Congress (108 members).
According to lists compiled by CQ, the House currently has 79 veterans while the Senate has 19.
About 14 House members and one Senator are still serving in the reserves and National Guard.
These are also clear indications that Americans hold the military, in general, in very high esteem.
A number of scholars and pundits are of the opinion that military veterans in Congress are effective in checking the president on military and defence policies.
Gallup’s annual measurement of public confidence in institutions consistently finds top-rated institutions in the US, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Supreme Court, and the presidency, among a dozen or so other institutions, being led by ex-military personnel.
But when the same is done in Africa, it is called militarisation of state institutions.
There has been too much hullabaloo from the US following Zimbabwe’s appointment of two ministers and Vice-President with military credentials.
Following the country’s new dispensation, Retired Army General Constantino Chiwenga was appointed a Vice-President, Retired Air-Marshall Perrence Shiri was appointed Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlements, while Retired Major General Sibusiso Moyo was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Due to these appointments, two US senators — Messrs Jeff Flake(Republican) and Chris Coons (Democrat), members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee — recently unveiled a proposed revised version of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) of 2001.
Part of the proposed amended ZDERA read:
“The Defence Forces of Zimbabwe are neither permitted to actively participate in campaigning for any candidate or to intimidate voters, and must verifiably and credibly uphold their constitutionally mandated duty to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and be non-partisan in character.”
Not to be left out, the EU said: “The army should make public statements declaring their commitment to upholding the Constitution and accepting the will of the people.”
This comes against the background that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is staffed with some ex-military personnel.
Like President Mnangagwa said, there is no law that forbids ex-military personnel from joining independent bodies or Government entities.
The Constitution only prohibits active member of the security services from the various bodies and entities of the nation.
According to Section 208:4 of the Constitution: “Serving members of the security services must not be employed or engaged in civilian institutions except in periods of public emergency.”
This big brother attitude of the US is worrying.
They have time and again meddled in the country’s politics.
Their negative portrayal of Zimbabwe is so intense one would think they have already closed their embassy.
Ironically, they are busy fortifying and increasing their presence in the country.
The US is building a new US$200 million embassy compound in Zimbabwe billed to be the largest embassy compound in Africa.
Located on a 16,5-acre site in Bluff Hill residential area, the new embassy is nothing short of an expansion of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) which is flexing its military muscle unrestrained across the African continent.
Headquartered in Botswana, it is reported AFRICOM carried out 674 covert operations in 2014, an increase from 546 carried out in 2013.
Billions of dollars are said to have been poured into Africa to build bases and gather intelligence.
At the heart of the surveillance operations are small turboprop aircraft disguised as private planes.
Equipped with hidden sensors that can record full motion video, track infrared heat patterns and vacuum-up radio and cellphone signals, the planes extend their flight range by thousands of miles.
Such is the hypocrisy and double standards of the US.
THERE is so much idolisation of soldiers in the US.