“There are currently 23 countries in the world that maintain no army, and they seem to get by just fine,” says this OZY article, which subsequently ran on NPR as well. It described the glad way in which Costa Rica dissolved its army 66 years ago, having learnt the lessons of its brief but bloody internal conflict. It promptly incorporated the decision to demilitarize into its constitution.
Panama did the same 24 years after the Americans went in to remove military dictator Manuel Noriega.
Much of the world rarely notices no-army countries because they are generally small and hard to pinpoint on a map. Here are some of them:
Federated States of Micronesia
But Haiti, one of the 23-strong no-army brigade, is very noticeable because of its size and history, political turbulence and series of natural disasters. As also a continuing sullenness about the loss of its army.
Its de-militarization was forced and it still resents being denied the chance – and the funding – to re-establish an army, all spit and polish and machismo, a symbol of its lingering pride in the revolutionary force that fought colonial France and declared the world’s first black slave republic in 1804. But even its President Martelly has acknowledged that Haiti faces no external threat. So one has to wonder what role it might fulfil – except as an indulgence. And that too at considerable cost – possibly 2% of GDP – in a country that is desperately poor. As Dwight Eisenhower said long years ago, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. .. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”