Urbanization and the military field - AKIF EMRE

Urbanization and the military field

The decision to close down or move the military units that actively participated in the July 15 coup attempt is almost complete. The units that have been emptied out or strategically weakened are being renamed. It is especially striking that the units used as bases during the coup attempt either belonged to the air force or the armored units. The fact that these units were once in rural areas are now in urbanized areas, and the kind of weapons should be discussed in terms of defense and urbanization.

It can be understood that these brigades, which became a political problem because of the coup, were relocated as a precautionary matter. But it is particularly an important issue that needs to be considered in terms of how the military should be for urbanization and defense purposes. Although it is sometimes mentioned that military units should be moved to rural areas, this request, which has been perceived as separate from urbanization/society and military relations, has always remained weak.

For example, once upon a time, remaining out of the city and being responsible for the public order of the rural area, the gendarmerie and military posts now being stuck in the middle of skyscrapers is very contradictory. The Balmumcu Gendarmerie Military Post, where the late renowned poet, Necip Fazıl Kısakürek, had performed his military service, is in the middle of Istanbul.

On the other hand, military units surrounding the cities, especially the major ones, and this being compared to the location of cities, brings the issue to a more interesting level.

The location of cities and military areas cannot be independent from the relationship between social life and politics. Because we only understand structuring when we say urbanization, we do not really understand how much the extent of the areas occupied by the military affect social life and urbanization. According to a Fanonist approach, militaries (in third world countries) that are more authoritarian than they are defense-oriented are focused on protecting the administrations against the public. Contrary to this, civilian governments that are unable to control the military weaken the military whilst they empower the police. By this, they hope to take precautions against military coups and public rising. When we look at the Turkey example, the priority of armed forces organized around NATO was probably a defensive measure against the Soviet intervention. The regime defending itself against internal threats is a part of this strategy, too. The relationship between the internal relations notion and the location of the city and military units is not only important for political purposes, but also important for urbanization and social relations, too. It is important that city planners, sociologists and political scientists look at the issue from this perspective.

Therefore, the city-military unit relationship, the issue of the volume and position taken up by military bureaucracy should be discussed seriously as much as that taken up by civilian bureaucratic institutions in the re-planning of the city.

On the other hand, it is clear that cemeteries and military units are the only places left to breathe in cities that have turned into concrete jungles because of high-income concerns. Yet the importance of using the vacated military areas properly is just as important as demilitarizing the city. It might be important to demilitarize quickly during times of political crisis. But instead of punishments or precautions as such, it is important to think about the issue in terms of culture, society, architecture and landscape. The relationship between urbanization and military areas cannot be considered separately from politics, the sociology and the culture of the city. We all know that many have dollars signs flashing in their eyes when they look at these vacated areas. Cities should be viewed from this perspective without victimizing them to the shallow plots of these tradesmen. We should at least ensure that these last green spaces that allow our cities to breathe are saved.

Cities will never forgive or forget those who destruct them. We should be honest to cities too, not just people!


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