State of the Union Address by the US President
It has been a tradition that whenever the President of the United States makes “State of the Union Address” far right corner front two rows (as seen from the podium) are reserved for military commanders. It is part of a tradition, but what it signifies is something that needs to be taken note of. Had it been in Pakistan or North Korea, one may have viewed it as military dominance over civilian government. But to showcase such a tradition by one of the oldest democratic nations needs to be understood in correct perspective. Does it in any way supersede symbolically primacy of civil government over the military ? Does it violates protocol or hierarchy of civilian political leadership over military? It does not do either.
The reason is that military is the last bastion and the central pillar of a nation that has the mandate to secure the nation from the internal and external threats. While discussing with a serving army officer, who has years of experience in combating counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism service along the LOC/LAC, said, “the nation that does not respect and accord importance to its military, can never dream of becoming a regional or global power. Rather such a nation will continue to bleed because of the neglect and decaying military power”.
The US knows that if it is strong and a global power, it is because of its military prowess. If it is able to implement a world order that ensures supremacy, dominance and protection of vital national interests of the US, it is certainly a strong military. Chanakya had said, “To have a state you need a strong army. If you have week army the frontiers will be torn apart by the enemy that are always hovering around the periphery of the states. But it is strong military that can drive away the enemy and keep the state safe and secure”. The neglect of military is a sign of meek surrender to the adversary in an environment where projection of hard and soft power has become necessary to secure vital national interests.
When the President of the US addresses the State of the Union, he in fact addresses the world. The presence of the military commanders in the front rows ahead of many senators and secretaries is a signal to the global community that no matter how difficult it is, but the US and its interests will be guarded by these uniformed men who are entrusted with the honour, dignity and safety of the nation. These are some of the characteristics that make the US strong and great democracy.