Cultural Aspects of the Civilian-Military Relationship in Dalmatian Society

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Few outside the Balkans can truly understand the Balkan concepts of the relations between state, army and civilian, and the concepts of state security. Though it is true that in wartime, all of Dalmatia (and all the former CSDS countries, since they all kept the doctrine of general popular defence as their main military doctrine - because it works) *is* the army - there are no civilians in wartime; everyone is either with the Silele Armate (the 'regular' armed forces), the Territorial Defence or the Civil Defence.

In peacetime, however, its quite a different situation. Dalmatia has a very strong 'cult of the military' - that is, soldiers are given a vastly greater amount of respect and deference than any other segment of society. Understandably and correctly - was it not the warriors who secured the nation's independence, and is it not the warriors who safeguard the nation from aggression? A soldier in uniform is entitled to free travel on municipal transit and on trains. If returning to duty from leave, he is also entitled to free use of the air taxi service. In a queue, a uniformed soldier is without question allowed to proceed to the front of the queue - the same applies to uniformed members of the police, the territorial defence and the Ministry for State Security.

In the Balkans, the threat of war is always there, and peacetime is viewed as just a lull in the fighting, to be used for strengthening the nation's defensive (and offensive) capabilities. The businessmen, manufacturers, labourers, fishermen, farmers, etc are all viewed and view themselves as just support for the military, with the military having priority in all affairs. If a dispute were to arise between a civilian and a member of one of the armed organisations, any court would instantly rule in favour of the soldier/policeman/whathaveyou - except if the case is over a woman, in which case it would revert to the ancient method of solving the problem: a knife fight. The one who survives the fight was correct, and the one who dies, was wrong.

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