[u1] THE POLITICS OF AUTHORITARIAN DOMINATION:
THE STATE AND POLITICAL SOLDIERS IN
BURMA, INDONESIA, AND THAILAND



CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION: SOLDIERS OR POLITICIANS?

Political Soldiers in Burma, Thailand, and Indonesia
          The purpose of this study which I have undertaken of the phenomenon of military intervention in three Southeast Asian countries -- Burma, Indonesia, and Thailand -- is to examine, one, what happens to the military, its leaders, and especial-ly to the state and society when the military intervenes and decides to stay and to re-organize the state?  And two, how the political outcomes resulting from military intervention and its reorganization of politics in such states, which are not identical, can be explained?

          The phenomenon of soldiers’ intervention in politics and the business of the state is not a very exceptional one in most of the Third World.[1]  This has prompted Charles Kennedy and David Louscher to note that over three-fourths of the states created since 1945 have experienced direct military rule.[2]  In many, the military’s role in politics has been significant.  It has become in many Third World countries as important, at least, as other state institutions, such as civil bureaucracies, legislatures, the courts, etc.[3]  However, as Kennedy and Louscher argue, theories bearing upon the issue of civilian-military interaction have "not kept pace with [the] welter of data", and none of the models proposed thus far can adequately explain the rich diversity of forms and styles of civilian-military interaction in many "new" states.[4]  

          In Burma, Indonesia, and Thailand, the men on horseback --to borrow the title of Samuel Finer’s classic study[5] -- have been active, even dominant, in politics and the state for decades: from 1932 in the case of Thailand, and from the late 1950s in Burma and Indonesia.  In the last two, the armed forces were from the onset as much political as military forces.  They had their roots in politics, coming into existence during World War II as nationalist "armies"; they were made up of politicized (and needless to say, ambitious) young men mobilized by Japan during World War II.[6]  The militaries subsequently mythologized their role in the "independence struggle" and now see themselves as creator-guardians of the state and "nation".[7]  After independence -- Burma in 1948, Indonesia in 1949 -- soldiers were closely involved in the respective struggles of the new rulers to maintain power and preserve the territorial integrity of the "new" states.[8]  By the mid-, to late-1950s, they had established themselves as relatively autonomous power centres to which governments were beholden. 

          In Burma, the military exercised power for the first time as caretaker in 1958-1960, following a fatal split in the ruling AFPFL (Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League).  In 1962, it again marched into the political fray when its chief, General Ne Win, staged a coup to set up a military-"socialist" state.  Ever since, soldiers have run the affairs of state in Burma.  In Indonesia, a struggle occurred in 1965 between one pillar of Sukarno’s Guided Democracy state -- the armed forces -- and another pillar -- the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI).  Following a countrywide slaughter of alleged communists, among others, the already dominant military formally "captured" the state.  Ever since, as the power base of President Suharto, it has stood at the helm of the New Order Pancasila state. 

          In Thailand, soldiers could not claim "freedom fighter" status as in Burma and Indonesia.  Nonetheless, they were prominent in the genesis of the modern Thai state. They played a pivotal role in the "people’s revolution" of 1932, which forced King Prajadipok (Rama VII) to relinquish absolute power.  In the immediate post-revolut-ionary years, soldiers like Field Marshal Pibul Songkhram, Phya Song Suradej, and Phya Bhahon Yothin figured prominently.  From 1939-1944, the military was the main prop of the "modernizing" authoritarian regime led by Pibul Songkhram.  In 1947, the military led by Phin Choonhaven, Phao Sriyanond, and Sarit Thanarat ousted Pridi Banomyong's post-war civilian government, and installed Pibul as head of a military regime.  Again, in 1958, under Sarit's leadership, it intervened.  Sarit set up a regime which resulted in military dominance under his co-successors, Thanom Kittikachorn and Praphart Charusathien, that lasted until 1973, when their regime was toppled by a mass uprising.  There followed a period of unstable, sometimes violent politics, as the military attempted to reassert itself.  The early 1980s saw the onset of a decade or so of "civilian" rule overseen by King Bumiphol Adulyadej and General Prem Tinsulanond.  However, in 1990, the military, led by Suchinda Kraprayoon, struck again.  It was not until two years later that the "Bloody May" incident forced the soldiers to withdraw, and to be content with behind-the-scenes influence.

          Clearly, soldiers in the three countries have not merely dabbled in politics.  They have been highly visible, often dominant actors, frequently displaying a reluctance to leave the management of national affairs to civilians.[9]  There is a need to investigate the military in more depth in a way that acknowledges it as a prominent political force.  This study, then, will examine the patterns of domination established by the military, its role in consolidating an authoritarian relationship between state and society, and the problems that have confronted the military as rulers, politicians, and state managers.  I hope to present a different perspective on soldiers’ political involvement in Burma, Indonesia, and Thailand -- not merely as actors "intervening" (or "meddling") in politics but, as Eric Nordlinger puts it, "soldiers in mufti"[10] are involved in the creation of different kinds of military-backed authoritarian polities.  As will be discussed below, these are generally defined as military-based polities where political power is concentrated in the hands of a few key leaders (operating within the state sphere) and where a large segment of the population within broader society is depoliticized and excluded from access to the political arena or from having a voice in the affairs of the nation and the state. 
          My aim is to situate the phenomenon of military intervention within a wider theoretical context.  There have been many studies of military intervention, focusing on the military's motivation, opportunity, and modus operandi at the time of the coup d'etat.  More recently, the focus of research has shifted to investigating civil-military relations as the key variable.  Likewise, a considerable amount has been written in recent years about the "back-to-the-barracks" phenomenon.  My interest, however, and the focus of this enquiry, is the question of what happens to the military and the state when the military leaders decide to stay in power and re-shape the state.  How do these regimes consolidate and retain power?  What are their goals and methods? What are their advantages and disadvantages?  Why do the soldiers stay on in polit-ics?  What kind of "new" states are created?  Do they -- the military and the "new" states -- change over time?  If so, how do they evolve? 

          I agree with the more perceptive analysts of the military intervention phenom-enon, such as Samuel Finer, Harold Crouch, and Christopher Clapham, who maintain that the political orders established by the military -- that is, military-authoritarian regimes and states -- are not identical, although they are based primarily on, or are supported by, the armed forces, and are, in many aspects, fairly similar.[11]  This being the case, I believe that an examination of quite long-lived military-authoritarian regimes post-dating the military’s capture of the state, can yield useful theoretical insights into variations in these regimes with respect to the strategies of rule, the nature of the state and its goals, the extent of military participation or domination, and the military’s own degree of subordination to its chief and/or a military strongman-ruler.
          Since the study is oriented toward making theoretical sense of military-authoritarianism and its effects on politics and society, much of the research is based on the interpretation and analysis of the very substantial body of scholarship on soldiers and "military regimes" in Burma, Indonesia, and Thailand.  These analyses and their underlying assumptions, interpretations, and explanatory devices form a crucial part of my attempt to make theoretical sense of the subject.  They are supplemented, though, by interviews and correspondence with knowledgable individuals from the selected countries themselves.

The Third World Military: A View of Soldiers in Mufti 
          Through their close and protracted involvement in politics, soldiers in Burma, Indonesia, and Thailand – along with many other Third World countries – have brought about far-reaching changes.  In the process, they themselves have also been changed.  As armed politicians, state managers, and rulers, they are firmly ensconced in the structures of power; they have become prominent political actors.  As rulers and politicians, I contend that they have shaped political and socio-economic land-scapes, often decisively.  They have also been pivotal in determining the character of state-society relations -- more precisely, relations among state actors, and between rulers and ruled in the countries under study -- in Burma, Indonesia, and Thailand where, as stated, they have established quite durable military-authoritarian regimes. 

          It would be conceptually inaccurate in such cases to view soldiers simply as armed, professional state servants.  Rather than military interventions into politics being limited forays, undertaken with specific aims, these interventions have in some cases, been quite open-ended in fact.  Hence, the approach that views the military as intervening temporarily to "clean up the mess" made by civilian politicians does not always apply.[12]  The open-ended presence of soldiers in politics in some states cannot be reconciled with the implied assumption that these same soldiers will return to the barracks once specific objectives are attained. 

          Despite this, largely as a result of Latin American experiences, a "return to the barracks" literature has developed, attempting to explain the "whens" and "hows" of military disengagement from politics.[13]  A few of the postulated preconditions include: the professionalization of "praetorian" armed forces; a higher degree of political institutionalization; the emergence of strong civilian alternatives (and the concomitant ability of civilian politicians to defuse the military’s fear of popular vengeance); the lessening of the kind of threats that trigger coups; mounting or lessening economic problems; dissension within the military; an institutional disposition to withdraw; external pressures; and so on.[14]  Up to a point, these theories offer useful generalizations about political soldiers and politics.  However, as Robin Luckham notes, military disengagement is often viewed as a kind of "intervention in reverse," assuming that the conditions favouring military disengagement are simply the reverse of those that triggered coups in the first place.[15]  In this sense, the literature tends to concentrate on pinpointing conditions for withdrawal and is appropriate when the military either seeks to return power to civilian rule, or does not harbour any goals for re-fashioning the state.  It is not so appropriate, however, for investigating cases where the military leadership retains power and seeks to change the way the state functions.
          Harold Crouch’s observation on the long presence of the military in politics in Southeast Asia is instructive.[16]  He states that "military regimes" are military-dominated bureaucratic polities, where power rests in the hands of military and civil-ian government functionaries themselves, and not held in check by weak extra-bureaucratic interests, i.e., parliament, political parties, and interest groups.[17]  He also acknowledges the great variety of roles that the military has played in such bureau-cratic states.  Crouch, like Juan Linz, points out that no existing general theory satisfactorily covers the great variety of both the roles performed by the military and the political and socio-economic circumstances in which the military finds itself in the new (or post-coup)[18] configuration of state and society.[19] 

         In investigating military intervention, scholars have explained the phenomenon as stemming from a number of factors.  As summed up by Crouch, they are,  (a) the values and orientation of many Third World soldiers, which hold that participation in politics is not "abnormal", but is a "national" or "revolutionary" duty;  (b) the military's corporate interests, which includes a sufficient budget allocation, appropriate housing, satisfactory pay, and so on;  (c) the personal interests of senior officers in gaining the government's patronage network;  (d) socio-economic conditions, especially in countries with a very low level of economic development;  and (e) the failure of civilian governments to satisfy the expectations of the middle class and its demand for rapid economic growth, and their failure to govern effectively and preserve stability[20]  -- which involve repressing communists or other subversives.  The widely argued view that blames the failures of civilian governments for military takeovers seems, to Crouch, "an excessively narrow view".  He suggests that it is more useful to see military intervention as arising from a "total situation" rather than "the deficiencies of a particular group".[21]  
         In this respect, it might be useful to be mindful of the very different kind of politics that transpire in the Third World.  As many perceptive scholars have noted, often Third World politics is primarily a struggle for domination among self-interested, state-linked elites -- a struggle moreover that takes place within a complex, poorly institutionalized, unstable environment.[22]  From this vantage point, military interventions appear to stem from problems in civilian-military relations[23] which, as Amos Perlmutter notes,[24] is gravely exacerbated in many Third World areas by the absence of a consensus on what the proper civilian-military relationship is, unlike in the West, where a Sandhurst tradition of defending civilian authority prevails.  Often in the Third World the military exercises independent political power, thus turning the "classical" civil-military arrangement "upside down."[25]  It is generally agreed among analysts that central to the phenomenon is a particular political condition which Samuel Huntington terms, "praetorianism" -- a condition where social groups, including the military, take direct political action instead of through political institut-ions (especially political parties) to reconcile and implement demands.[26]  
         In such "free for all" political struggles involving all groups or leaders in society, and even, or especially, those within the state sphere or government, for advantage, or more importantly, for dominance and power, soldiers are likely to be the most successful because they largely control the instruments of force, as Clapham notes.[27]   The struggle for power will invariably involve, I believe (as does Clapham), a contest for control of the state, since in a praetorian context, the state is the pivotal prize.[28]  In instances where the military is involved in political struggle, the prize -- the state itself -- will likely be won by the one who controls the armed forces of the state: the military strongman.  Hence it is a mistake not to recognize the military as a potential political instrument of the military officer who commands the armed forces when it steps onto the political stage to take control of the state and impose its control and to re-fashion state-society relations.  


Guardians of the Nation: Masters and Servants of the State 
         This study considers the military in politics from a somewhat different perspective.  Central to it are three factors which, I argue, are crucial to the appreciation of the military as an interventionist political force.  The first is the claim, commonly heard from soldiers in Burma, Indonesia, and Thailand, that the armed forces as an institution are the guardians of the state and the "national" interest.  The notion of the military as "guardians," standing above politics and governments, is common among Third World soldiers.  In Thailand and Indonesia, respectively, the claim is embodied in the Prime Ministerial Order 66/23 (which became official military doctrine in 1980), and Nasution’s Doctrine of Territorial Warfare (officially adopted in 1962).  Legislative acts were passed in Indonesia in the 1980s to legitim-ize the military’s role in politics.  Soldiers in Burma have never possessed such a doctrine, and are only now attempting to "legalize" a guardianship role at the ongoing "National Convention" (convened at gunpoint in 1993). Nonetheless, the lack of a formal doctrine has not prevented soldiers from claiming a guardianship role. 
         The second factor is that, with rare exceptions like Costa Rica, the military plays a specific role in the organizational scheme of the state -- as a body in which is vested the state’s monopoly on coercion.  In this respect, the military enjoys a unique structural position and privileged access to state resources.  Owing to this unique position, and considering its privileged access to the state's resource, it is not surprising that in some states, the military tends to be the best-endowed and most powerful actor within the state structure (and in society).  In such states, it dominates other state elements, along with civilian politicians, who are unarmed and do not enjoy automatic access to state resources. 
         The third factor is that the military is a force upon which the authority of new or weak governments may depend heavily.  The very existence of the state, in its territorial-political aspect, is often dependent on the military’s coercive function, on its role as a "protector" and in containing or repressing (often with external assist-ance) "communist" and "secessionist" rebels, or repelling or detering foreign aggress-ion.  Taken together, these factors mean that Third World soldiers, as the state's high-ly privileged (but dependent) servants, have the potential simultaneously to be masters of the civilian government-of-the-day. 
         The unique, structural position of the military as an armed body that is integral to the state and the nation, reinforced by its role as a "protector", and the military officers' self-image as the selfless, dedicated national guardians, has resulted in the defining, legitimizing, and rationalizing of the military's corporate interests in a way that makes it, Nordlinger argues, almost indistinguishable from that of the nation.[29]  The military's close self-identification with the nation, as J. Samuel Fitch points out, was further boosted when the cold war intensified.  There occurred a redefinition of its role in Latin America[30] -- as also in many other Third World areas, including Thailand, Indonesia, and Burma.  It was redefined to include "national security", rather than simply "national defence", since the enemy included subversive elements.  The consequence was to erase "most of the boundary between civilian and military spheres of competence".[31]  Thus, the military's role was expanded to include national security and development functions, and this, combined with external military assistance and training, increased its strength, size, and importance.  The military's expanded role in turn not only validated its self-image as the most vital for both the historic continuity of the nation and the survival of the state, but also boosted its position relative to other state elements: in many countries, the military became so strong that it became, in effect, "a state-within-a-state". 
         With the military in many Third World polities so closely linked with the state and its affairs, as noted, it is only one step further then for the military to step in and take over.  This is all the more so if it dislikes the way the state is being run or, as pointed out by T.O.Odetola and Edward Feit, if it perceives that the state's very existence is threatened.[32]  Thus the "protector" of the state and "guardian" of the nation, becomes the "savior" of the nation.  And, in cases where the military has spent decades encamped on the political stage, it would not be too far wrong to view the military as a special sub-stratum of armed politicians firmly lodged within the state -- or even, as Robin Luckham suggests, an armed de facto ruling party, since it is, and also functions as, the political power base and instrument of the state and its chief-and-ruler.[33] 

Military Intervention and the Re-Configuration of Politics and the State 
         Military intervention is a multi-dimensional, complex, and heterogeneous phenomenon -- made more so by differences in the underlying historical, geograph-ical, cultural, and socioeconomic settings.  But there is a common feature.  Political soldiers tend not to be predisposed to upholding a democratic order which allows for conflicts among groups, interests, and institutions.[34]  Democratic politics, which are "open" to societal interest groups and forces, are viewed as disorderly and harmful to the nation and national unity by soldiers, as noted by Gerald Heeger.[35]  I argue that soldiers tend to prefer a political order that is congruent with their vision of how pol-itics and society (or the "nation") are to be managed: that is, an authoritarian one.  Thus we often have, in cases where the military intrude into politics and decides to remain on the political stage, a reconfiguration of state-society relations by the milit-ary's chief-and-ruler. 

         The vision of politics that informs the military’s actions as builders and manag-ers of the state is embodied in what Manuel Garreton calls "national security" ideology.[36]  In this ideology, state and nation are seen as forming a single living organism; they are "larger" or higher entities that stand above individuals (who are viewed as "subordinate subjects").[37]  The concept of "national unity" plays a key role.  It is  conceived of by the military as the absence of conflict and dissent.  Opposition to the state, the government (especially one backed or dominated by the military), and the armed forces -- all of which from this perspective embody the nation's destiny and goals -- is viewed as damaging to national unity and as something that must be prevented or punished.[38]  The ideal form of governance for soldiers is -- as Garreton notes -- an authoritarian state order managed, protected, and guaranteed by the military.  The military deems itself the "bulwark of the nation" and the bastion that stands above social divisions, the group best qualified to define and defend the national interest, and guarantee the nation's unity, and more importantly, its historic continuity.[39]  After capturing the state, I argue that the military -- more specifically, the military leader who becomes the ruler of the state -- will either seek to return power to civilians quickly or, in line with the national security ideology and associated statist orientation, will stay to establish a non-democratic, authoritarian type "military regime". 
         At this juncture, it is important to, one, heed Finer's observation which in effect states that it is difficult to make a hard distinction between civilian and military regimes as the latter tend to shade off by degrees into civilian authoritarian regimes.[40]  And two, it is important to be aware of the heterogeneity and range of what have been labelled "authoritarian" regimes.  As Linz indicates, they are found in a variety of forms, in a wide range of economic, social, and cultural environments -- in Europe during the interwar years (1920s to the 1930s), in many post-independence "new" Third World states, and in the post-Stalin Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (until the late 1980s).[41]  
         Authoritarian regimes, which include military-authoritarian regimes, are to varying degrees non-democratic (or not very democratic).  But, importantly, they are also different from, and at the same time share some elements and traits in common with, traditional absolute monarchical, or similar types, and to totalitarian regimes.[42]  Owing to a complex mix of elements, military-authoritarian regimes are not easily confined within neat categories: some may be very undemocratic, while a few may even be semi-democratic. 
         In one dimension, military-authoritarian regimes can be characterized by features found in what Carl Friedrich and Zbigniew Brzezinski calls an "autocracy".[43]  A cardinal characteristic is the concentration of decision-making at the apex of the official hierarchy possessing "the highest power over citizens."[44]  There is an absence of other authorities who have "have sufficient power to compel the law-breaking rulers to submit to the law."[45]  Needless to say, also absent is a genuine opposition, a free press (except in rare cases, as for example, in Thailand), and so on.[46]
         There is a strong emphasis, as David Beetham notes, on discipline and order, and an arbitrary and unaccountable style to the exercise of power.[47]  Importantly, military rulers will, through the employment of the military as a political instrument, reassert the authority of government (or the state) over society by removing the freedom of organized groups to pursue their interests independently of the state or its officials; impose "unity" by removing the political avenues for competition and conflict; and attempt to restore confidence in the ability and integrity of government by removing independent means for monitoring its actions.[48]  The military resolves the problems of democratic politics by abolishing politics altogether and immunizing "the state from the problems of society by elevating the state above society".[49]  In this regard, the military -- as the wielders of the legitimate means of coercion -- constitut-es the most important building block of authoritarianism.  Its importance lies in its usefulness to ruling strongmen as a political instrument in making the state more autonomous and cohesive by excluding and de-politicizing the ruled, and also in intimidating the civilian bureaucracy and non-state elites, making them more easily co-opted, pliant, and loyal. 
         On another dimension, however, authoritarian regimes are distinctively marked by what Linz terms a "pluralistic element" --  a pluralism which, although varied, is limited.  This limitation may be legal or de facto, implemented more or less effect-ively, and imposed on political and interest groups which have not been created or co-opted by the state, and are not dependent on the state.  However, some regimes may even institutionalize the political participation of a limited number of independ-ent groups or institutions, and as well encourage their emergence, but "without leav-ing any doubt that the rulers ultimately define which group they will allow and under what conditions".[50] 
         Another feature is that although political power does not devolve to the citizens and the rulers are not accountable to them, rulers might still be responsive to them.[51]  They will respond through sanctioned participating groups, such as the government's party, political parties that are not banned (but heavily restrained), state-sponsored associations (or corporatist-like, interest-representing bodies or "functional" groups), interest groups (cultural, economic, semi-political) tolerated by the state, and various "representative" and legislative assemblies (but controlled or manipulated by the executive).  Further, in authoritarian regimes, there is usually found a constant proc-ess of co-optation of leaders which constitutes a mechanism by which different sect-ors or institutions become participants in the system.  And there is in consequence a certain heterogeneity of elites, composed of some co-opted professional politicians, bureaucrats, technocrats, military men, religious leaders, and local notables, and even, in some cases, activists (such as former student leaders, trade unionists, peasant leaders, and so forth).[52]  
         It is also important to bear in mind that we are dealing with states and regimes situated in the Third World.  As Guenther Roth, Crouch, and Clapham point out, it is an area where "personalized patrimonialism", inextricably linked to material incentives and rewards, is the dominant form of government (although patrimonial elements are also found, to varying degrees, in industrialized countries as well).[53]  In such states, state institutions and governmental organizations are, like in the precolonial days, patrimonialized since they are, as Crouch indicates, largely based on the distribution of "fiefs and benefices".[54]  Government and politics take place, as Linz and other scholars observe, in traditional or mixed institutions through traditional or informal, personal channels (that connect national and sub-national leaders or holders of power to their respective clients, patrons, kinfolks, friends).[55]  Hence there obtains in states which are, at one level of analysis, authoritarian and highly autonomous from society, a situation where there is an informal, anti-institutional style of politics based on private, clientelistic access to the state and office holders.[56] 
         The overall effect of limited pluralism and patrimonialism on authoritarian regimes is that the state, significant power-holders, and key officials are, in one dimension, quite highly autonomous from society, but are, in another dimension -- quite paradoxically -- not autonomous.  They respond in a paternalistic or patrimonial manner to particularistic, private, informal demands or preferences of some groups and segments in society. 

The Military, the Strongman, and the Consolidation of Authoritarianism 
         The changing role of the military once an authoritarian order is established is of theoretical interest.  I argue that for the military to intervene successfully in politics, and importantly, for it to remain and dominate and, furthermore, to re-fashion the state-society order according to its preferences, it must first achieve a considerable degree of cohesion.  As Clapham maintains, when there is no dominant leader, it is all the more likely that the military will not be able to stay on for long -- even if it intervenes -- and will likely hand over power to a new civilian government (although it might intervene again later).[57]  Cohesion is achieved when there emerges a military leader who is able to unite all military factions, or alternatively, eliminate rivals or troublesome subordinates. 
         Thus, after the military intervenes and captures the state, a person accepted by the important military factions as the leader, and who is primarily responsible for bringing the military onto the political center-stage, becomes the head of the military authoritarian state.  However, all too often this person is given the standard label of being the "military dictator" or head of a "military junta" or "personal ruler".  Person-al rulers are given much prominence in accounts of military and other authoritarian regimes.[58]  However, the label conceals significant differences between military strongmen; and the characteristics, goals, ambitions, power, and force of will of individual military strongmen are often not clearly delineated.  
         The relation between the military personal ruler and his military power base is not static nor uniform.  I argue that it is a complex, dynamic, often shifting one.  The relationships will vary among military-authoritarian regimes.  To elaborate upon the general trend: as the military strongman proceeds to consolidate the authoritarian order and his dominance within it, he will tend to gain more personal power and authority.  The military, which serves the successful strongman-ruler as a political instrument, will become subordinated to some extent to the man who is its chief and also the state ruler. 
         In many cases, the more the military ruler wants to transform the state to obtain greater legitimacy, or to transform himself into a leader-ruler of the nation as a whole, and not just of a segment, the more likely it is that he will want to "resign" from the military and present a civilian face.  Being a "civilian" will invariably change his relationship with the military over time, as he increasingly seems less a military man.  And as a relatively simple military regime evolves, or is transformed by the ruler into a more complex, sophisticated authoritarian order, the military’s position will also change in a number of ways.  A new set of institutions and actors may emerge: the presidential or "palace" staff; a ruling or governmental party; a new hierarchy of representative-legislative bodies; a more professional (or professional-looking) bureaucracy, and so on.  While still serving as the primary power base of the ruler, the military will, in such cases, be confronted with, and constrained by, other powerful players emerging from the new institutions, as well as favoured ministers; useful and influential techno-bureaucrats and advisors; and money-making clients and cronies of the president, his family, and kin group. 
         In other cases, however, the military's position may remain as dominant as it was in the early years of the regime.  It will remain, next to the strongman-ruler, the most dominant force, and it will prevent non-military elites from gaining a hold over the levers of power.  In still other cases, only the top brass will figure prominently in politics: soldiers, including most officers, will "return to the barracks" after their chief’s seizure of power. 

         In polities where power is concentrated in the hands of one key leader, his ability to manipulate and control subordinate leaders and factions within the ruling circle is crucial.  Such a ruler -- the strongman-ruler in military regimes -- will often work to maintain the balance of power via the politics of factionalism, especially within the armed forces – the essential pillar of his support, but also a potentially dangerous one.  To this end, he may carry out frequent purges or transfers; restruct-ure the chain of command or operational procedures; promote hard-core loyalists into top positions; sow distrust and rivalry among top generals, among services, and even among loyal aides; or create special surveillance units to spy on the officer corps.  He may reward military men with positions as governmental politicians and party bosses, representatives, legislators, "czars" of administrative and economic empires, ambass-adors, and so on.  In all these ways, the strongman-ruler works to dilute the officer corps’ cohesion and render it incapable of moving politically against him.[59] 
         At the same time, soldiers gain a vital stake in defending both the ruler and his authoritarian order.  In long-lived, stabilized authoritarian states, soldiers are socializ-ed into their roles as defenders of the personal ruler and also come to appreciate that it is in their own best interest to do so.  The person and role of the ruler are "mystified" -- identified with order, the state, nation, and the national interest.  As the man at the centre of things, he becomes the only one capable of maintaining overall cohesion and balance against the back-drop of opaque, convoluted "palace politics" that tend to characterize military-authoritarian governance. 

          In "mature" military-authoritarian states, the successful strongman-ruler tends to gain greater power vis-ŕ-vis the military but, as noted, politics in such states is by no means static. With the passage of time, as authoritarianism becomes routinized, interaction between the military as an institution, the ruler, and other powerful state factions grows more complex. 
          Owing to the complexity of politics in military-authoritarian regimes, they will, as Finer indicates, exhibit as much diversity among themselves as civilian regimes.[60]  As Finer suggests, "military regimes" can be distinguished from one another through a classification system based on measurements along spectrums of different dimensions.[61] 
          There are three measurements relevant to this study.  First is a spectrum based on the extent of military penetration of the civil bureaucracy and the military's role in policy-making.[62]   The extent of military penetration as located along a spectrum is an indicator of the degree of authoritarianism being exercised in a state.  The greater the penetration, the more authoritarian the state is likely to be;  likewise, the smaller the penetration, the less authoritarian the state is likely to be.  
          Second is a spectrum based on the autonomy of the regime vis-ŕ-vis political parties and legislatures.  In this spectrum there are four broad focal points:  (a) milit-ary regimes where legislatures and parties are suppressed;  (b) regimes which hold elections but refuse to acknowledge negative results and prohibit the elected legislat-ure from convening;  (c) legislatures and parties that exist as "simple ancillaries or appurtenances,"[63] that are quite autonomous vis-ŕ-vis society; and  (d) regimes with legislatures and parties that function democratically following competitive elections and are relatively free of military or state control.  Again, (a) and (b) can be seen on the spectrum as most authoritarian; (c) as less authoritarian;  and (d) as least authorit-arian for this dimension. 
          A third spectrum, related to (and inferred from) the second, is based on the autonomy and responsiveness of the state to society.  There are three broad focal points here: (a) regimes with high autonomy that are not responsive to societal demands or aspirations;  (b) regimes with relatively high autonomy, and yet are somewhat responsive;  and (c) regimes that are relatively autonomous, and quite responsive to society.  Likewise, (a) can be seen on the spectrum as most authorit-arian, (b) as less authoritarian, and (c) as least authoritarian in this dimension.
          The spectrums mentioned above are broad categorizations representing certain dimension of regimes which can be identified and placed along a spectrum according to the criteria mentioned.  The measurements of these spectrums are not mathematic-ally quantifiable, but neither are they simply intuitive.  There will be a body of empirical evidence presented in the case studies to justify the measurements. 
          Spectrums allow for shades of difference to be noted.  Many military regimes will fit in between the broad focal points described.  For example, there may be military regimes that allow "limited autonomy" for parties and legislatures, and therefore would be placed somewhere between (c) and (d) on the spectrum , as depicted above.  Also, spectrums allow changes -- and directions -- over time to be noted, by placements on the spectrum of regimes of the same country in different, important, years.  This is useful for a country like Thailand, which has fluctuated between different types of military rule and also intervening periods of civilian government. 
          The importance of placing the regimes of Burma, Indonesia and Thailand along these three spectrums is that doing so helps to clarify not only variations among these regimes, but also important elements that contribute to the differences. 

          In this chapter, I have examined the conceptual framework underlying the phenomenon of political soldiers and their relations with the state.  I have looked at the relationship between the personal ruler and the military, the nature of military-authoritarian orders and the military’s role within them, and the changes (notably in the military’s role and relative influence or autonomy) that occur in "mature" military-authoritarian regimes.  The intent of this thesis is to examine military-authoritarian regimes in a way that draws out the wide variations in the way these regimes are organized and how the military is situated within them. 
          In the next chapter, I will consider the broader concepts and assumptions related to the military in power.  In particular, I will focus on theories of the state, state autonomy, and state-society interaction.  I will conclude by stating the main arguments of this dissertation. 



----------------------------------- E N D N O T E S ----------------------------------

CHAPTER ONE:

INTRODUCTION: SOLDIERS OR POLITICIANS?

 



[1]  It is with great reservations that I use the term "Third World". But it is less problematic than terms like the undeveloped or underdeveloped world, the developing or transitional world, the non-West, the peripheries, etc. Although "Third World" is often considered pejorative, and is anyway ambiguous with the collapse of the "Second World", it at least avoids the implication of a linear trajectory of development.  It is also generally accepted in academic discourse.

 

[2]  Charles Kennedy and David Louscher, "Civil-Military Interaction: Data in Search of a Theory", in Charles Kennedy and David J. Louscher, eds., Civil-Military Interaction in Asia and Africa (Lieden: E.J. Brill, 1991), pp. 1-10. 

 

[3]  Ibid., p. 1.

[4]  Ibid.


[5]  Samuel E. Finer, The Man on Horseback: The Role of the Military in Politics, 2nd.edn. (London: Penguin, 1975).

 

[6]  It should be noted that in both Burma and Indonesia, professionally-trained soldiers and officers did exist. They served in British units during the fighting in Burma. In Indonesia, they existed as the col-onial army (the Royal Netherlands Indies Army). In both cases, these were units comprising mainly ethnic minorities. After independence, the more professional officers were pushed out by the "political soldiers."

 

[7]  Although the claim is partially valid in the Indonesian case, it should be stressed that the independ-ence "war" also involved political and diplomatic struggles. A similar claim by soldiers in Burma is more of a myth (and a persistent one at that), in the view of Dr. Ba Maw – the supreme leader (Adipati) of war-time Burma and a leading mentor of the Thakins. See Ba Maw, Breakthrough in Burma: Memories of a Revolutionary, 1939-1946 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968). This will be discussed further in the relevant chapters.

 

[8]  Soldiers defended the new power-holders against challengers and those who rejected, or wished to change, the boundaries of the new states. Almost all "national" boundaries in the Third World were demarcated by colonial powers (as with the British-French demarcation of Siam).  Hence, it is not surprising that the "modern" boundaries bequeathed to certain ethnic groups, demarcating certain countries as "belonging" to them, are disputed by others who find themselves arbitrarily incorporated as "minorities". For an iconoclastic, intriguing discussion of the making of "Siam" by Britain and France, see Thongchai Winnichakul, Siam Mapped: A History of a Geo-Body of a Nation (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1992). This source also addresses the claims made by Thai leader Pibul Songkhram, the "modernizing" strongman-ruler – and by others – that Thailand (Siam) existed as a "nation-state" for centuries.

 

[9]  It would be rash to say that military intervention is a thing of the past in Thailand. In the 1980s, it was thought that soldiers had "permanently" vacated politics. However, in 1991, General Suchinda Kraprayoon overthrew the Chart Thai (Chatichai Choonhavan) government. After the 1992 "Bloody May" protest (when Suchinda was forced to step down), a coalition government led by the Democrat Party's Chuan Leekpai was installed by electoral means. Another election was held in 1995, and a coalition government headed by Banharn Silpa-archa (Chart Thai) ruled until it resigned in late 1996. Former General Chaovalit Yongchaiyuth now heads a coalition government, following a general elect-ions in early 1997. 

 

[10]  This phrase is borrowed from Eric A.Nordlinger's influential article on military intervention, where he discusses and refutes the "military-as-modernizer" argument. See Eric A. Nordlinger, "Soldiers in Mufti: The Impact of Military Rule Upon Economic and Social Change in the Non-Western States", American Political Science Review 64 (December 1970), pp. 1131-1148. A few notable examples that view soldiers as "modernizers", are: Lucian Pye, "Armies in the Process of Modernization", in John J. Johnson, ed., The Role of the Military in Underdeveloped Countries (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1962), pp. 69-90; Guy J. Pauker, "Southeast Asia as a Problem Area in the Next Decade", in World Politics (April 1959), pp. 339-340; John J. Johnson, The Military and Society (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1964); Morris Janowitz, The Military in the Political Development of New Nations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964); Edwin Lieuwen, Generals vs Presidents (New York: Praeger, 1964); Manfred Halpern, The Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa  (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1962); and Martin C. Needler, "Political Development and Military Intervention in Latin America", American Political Science Review 60 (September 1966), pp. 616-626; P.J. Vatikiotis, The Egyptian Army in Politics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1961). 


[11]   See Samuel E.Finer, "The Morphology of Military Regimes", in Roman Kolkowicz and Andrzej Karbonski, eds., Soldiers, Peasant and Bureaucrats: Civil-Military Relations in Communist and Mod-ernizing Society (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1982), pp. 281-304 (281 and 301 esp.);  Harold Crouch, "The Military and Politics in Southeast Asia", in Zakaria Haji Ahmad and Harold Crouch, eds., Military-Civilian Relations in Southeast Asia (London: Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 287-317 (esp., p.287, 314-315);  Christopher Clapham, Third World Politics: An Introduction (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988), p. 149. 

 

[12]  The "cleaning up the mess" explanation is the standard justification of coup-makers. It has been quite effective in legitimating coups externally, especially those which took place in the 1960s. Such a claim is today less effective, because more is now known about military rule.

 

[13]  Works on military withdrawals are numerous. They include: Samuel E. Finer, "The Retreat to the Barracks: Notes on the Practice and Theory of Military Withdrawal from the Seats of Power", Third World Quarterly, 7(1) January 1985, pp. 16-30; Claude E. Welch Jr., No Farewell To Arms (Boulder: Westview, 1989), esp., Ch.2, pp. 9-29; Edward Feit, The Armed Bureaucrats (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973); Samuel P. Huntington, The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations (New York: Random House, 1957); Talukder Maniruzzaman, Military Withdrawal From Politics (Mass: Ballinger, 1987), esp., pp. xii, 80-89, 91-95, 99-102,209, 212; Paul Cammack and Philip O’Brien, Generals in Retreat (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 1985).

 

[14]  The similarity between the "back to the barracks" and "democratization" literature is interesting. The military figures prominently in both. For examples, see Constantine Danopoulos "Intervention and Withdrawal: Notes and Perspectives", in Constantine P. Danopoulos, ed., From Military to Civilian Rule (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 1-18; and D. Ethier, "Introduction: Processes of Transition and Democratic Consolidation: Theoretical Indicators", in Diane Ethier, ed., Democratic Transition and Consolidation in Southern Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia (London: Macmillan, 1990), pp. 3-21.

 

[15]  Robin Luckham, "Introduction: The Military, the Developmental State and Social Forces in Asia and the Pacific: Issues for Comparative Analysis", in Viberto Selochan, ed., The Military, the State, and Development in Asia and the Pacific (Boulder: Westview, 1991), pp. 1-49 (p. 16). A typically confusing analysis of military disengagement focused on Southeast Asia, is found in Ulf Sundhaus-sen, "The Durability of Military Regimes in Southeast Asia", in Zakaria Haji Ahmad and Harold Crouch, eds., Civilian-Military Relations, pp. 269-286. The above is an unfortunate example as Sund-haussen is usually a perceptive analyst of the military. He states that the military will disengage only if "civilian forces group together, demand power for themselves, and offer policies that are acceptable to a majority of the people without antagonizing the military." This "solution", although theoretically plausible, begs the question: how are civilians to band together when political activities are circum-scribed by the military?

 

[16]  Crouch, "The Military and Politics". 

 

[17]  Ibid., p. 311.

 

[18]  The term "post-coup" is in parentheses because authoritarian states established by soldiers need not always result from coups. For example, in 1958, Ne Win took over as head of the caretaker government of Burma upon being "invited" to do so by Prime Minister U Nu. This was not a coup; there was even a provision for it in the Constitution. U Nu was "persuaded" by "Young Turk" Brigadiers -- Aung Gyi, among others -- to hand over power to Ne Win to help set up elections. Suharto attained power in Indonesia in 1965 as head of the counter-coup force. 

 

[19]  Crouch, "The Military and Politics", p. 315. Also, Juan Linz, "Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes", in Fred I. Greenstein and Nelson W. Polsby, eds., Handbook of Political Science: Macro-political Theory, Vol.3 (London: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1975), pp. 175-411 (esp., p. 284).   

 

[20]   For example, see Finer, The Man on Horseback, pp. 66-71, and Eric A.Nordlinger, Soldiers in Politics (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1977), pp. 65-71. 


[21]  Crouch, "The Military and Politics", p. 295.


[22]  For excellent works essential to the understanding of Third World politics, see Gerald A. Heeger, The Politics of Underdevelopment (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1974); Robert H. Jackson and C.G. Rosberg, Jr., Personal Rule in Black Africa: Prince, Autocrat, Prophet, Tyrant (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982); W. Howard Wriggins, The Ruler’s Imperatives (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969); Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968); Aristide R. Zolberg, Creating Political Order; The Party-States of West Africa (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1966); Clapham, Third World Politics.

 

[23]  See Claude, E. Welch, Jr., and Arthur K. Smith, Military Role and Rule: Perspectives on Civilian-Military Relations (Belmont, California: Duxbury Press, 1974), esp. pp. 34-80, 235-62.  See also a special issue on civil-military relations in Pacific Focus, Vol. IV, No.2 (Fall 1982). Among the articles in the issue, see Chung-in Moon, "Democratization, National Security Politics and Civil-Military Relations: Some Theoretical Issues and the South Korean Case", (pp. 3-22), and J. Samuel Fitch, "Military Professionalism, National Security and Democracy: Lessons from the Latin American Experience" (pp. 99-147).

 

[23]   Amos Perlmutter, "Civil-Military Relations in Socialist Authoritarian and Praetorian States: Pros-pects and Retrospects", in Roman Kolkowicz & Andrzej Karbonski, eds., Soldiers, Peasants, and Bureaucrats, pp. 301-331.

 

 

[25]   Perlmutter, "Civil-Military Relations", p. 318. The difference between a professional military force and a politicized one is highlighted by the recent disbanding of a Canadian Airborne regiment by a civilian government over atrocities in Somalia. Several top brass, including General Jean Boyle, the armed forces chief, were grilled by a civilian commission. In some Third World countries, in particul-ar, in the countries examined -- Burma, Indonesia, and even Thailand -- there would, in the first place, not likely be voices raised about military atrocities especially those occurring far away. And also, had civilians shown this much assertiveness, a coup would have been staged, with "political interference" in military affairs likely cited as the reason.

[26]  Samuel P.Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies, pp. 192-198.


[27]  Clapham, Third World Politics, p. 139.


[28]  Ibid., p. 140.


[29]   Nordlinger, "Soldiers in Mufti", pp. 1136-1137.

 

[30]   Fitch, "Military Professionalism, National Security".  

 

[31]   Ibid., p. 107.

 

[32]  See Odetola, T.O. Odetola, Military Regimes and Development, (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1982), pp. 182-84., and Feit, The Armed Bureaucrats, p. 18.

 

[33]  Robin Luckham, "Introduction, etc.," in Viberto Selochan, ed., The Military, the State, pp. 30-31.

 

[34]  See Odetola, Military Regimes and Development, pp. 182-84., and Feit, The Armed Bureaucrats, p. 18. Except in rare cases such as Prem Tinsulanonda in Thailand in the 1980s (to be discussed later).

 

[35]   For a discussion of the military’s strong distrust of politics, and its special dislike of the politics of diverse groups with conflicting interests, see also Heeger, The Politics of Underdevelopment, pp. 109-112.


[36]  Manuel Antonio Garreton, The Chilean Political Process (Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989), pp. 68-83. Although the definition of the ideology of "national security" is derived from a discussion of soldiers in Latin America (Chile, in particular), it represents the mind-set of military-authoritarian rulers, and is applicable to other Third World areas. 

 

[37]  Ibid., p. 69.

 

[38]  Ibid., pp. 69-70.


[39]  Ibid., pp. 70-72, 75.

 

[40]   Finer, "The Morphology of Military Regimes", p. 281.   

 

[41]  Linz, "Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes", p. 264.

 

[42]  Ibid., pp. 179, 264-265. 

 

[43]  Carl J. Friedrich and Zbigniew K. Brzezinski, Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy (New York: Frederick A.Praeger, 1965), pp. 3-14. The authors’ use of the term "autocracy" and objection to the term "authoritarian" seems problematic, however. They say that it "rather misleading to speak of autocratic regimes as ‘authoritarian’" (pp. 9-10), because they define authority as residing in both power and legitimacy. They therefore assert that a constitutional democracy may be highly authorit-arian -- even more than an autocracy. Nonetheless, I will employ the commonly-accepted term "authoritarian regime", to denote not very democratic or dictatorial regimes, rather than "autocracy" or "autocracies", the terms used by the authors.

 

[44]  Ibid., p. 8.

 

[45]  Ibid., pp. 4, 8-9. However, the term "law and order" is a favoured slogan of coup-makers and authoritarian regimes, and is often used to justify repression. It is also effective in placating external audiences, since the fear of anarchy is universal. However, the term "law and order" poses a grave problem when the judiciary is not autonomous, and law itself is subject to "the rule of men" as opposed to it being impartially and equally applied.

 

[46]  Friedrich and Brzezinski, Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy, pp. 4-5, 9.

 

[47]  See David Beetham, The Legitimation of Power (London: Macmillian, 1991), p. 232.

 

[48]  Ibid., pp. 228-236.


[49]  Ibid., p. 232.

 

[50]   Linz, "Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes", pp. 265-266. 

 

[51]  Ibid., p.266.

 

[52]  Ibid. 

 

[53]  Guenther Roth, "Personal Rulership, Patrimonialism, and Empire Building in the New State", in World Politics, Vol. 20, No.2 (January 1968), pp. 94-206. Although written more than a decade ago, it is still pertinent today, validating the author's argument (pp. 205-206) that personal rule and patrim-onialism will not be easily swept away, as then expected (or assumed), by the advent of industrializ-ation in the Third World. Also, Clapham, Third World Politics, pp. 44-59 (Neo-Patrimonialism and its Consequences); and Harold Crouch, "Patrimonialism and Military Rule in Indonesia", in World Politics, Vol.31, No.4 (July 1979), pp. 571-587. His expectation (over a decade ago) that the patrimonial-style stability will not endure owing to the development of the economy and greater bureaucratization, rationality, and regularity associated with economic development (p. 587), has not, so far, been fulfilled. Parimonial-style stability is still very much in evidence.  

 

[54]  Crouch, "Patrimonialism and Military Rule", pp. 575-579 (on patrimonialism in Suharto's New Order state).  

 

[55]  Linz, "Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes", pp. 253-255, 263-264.  Also see, Ann Ruth Will-ner, "The Neo-Traditional Accommodation to Political Independence: The Case of Indonesia", in John T. McAlister Jr., ed., Southeast Asia: The Politics of National Integration (New York: Random House, 1973), pp. 517-541.

 

[56]  The phenomenon that O’Donnell points to in the Latin American context is applicable to most Third World societies as well. See Guillermo O’Donnell, "Transitions, Continuities, and Paradoxes", in Scott Mainwaring, Guillermo O’Donnell, J. Samuel Valenzuela, eds., Issues in Democratic Consolidation: The New South American Democratization in Comparative Perspective (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992), pp. 17-56 (esp., pp. 21, 26, 34, 36). As S.N. Eisenstadt notes, moreover, post-traditional ("modernizing") orders are characterized by political-administrative fram-ings that exploit both traditional and modern symbols. They are bureaucratic political orders whose modern, legal-rational facade cloaks a neotraditional core -- social and political arrangements that are inegalitarian, particularistic, ascriptive, paternalistic, etc. By "inegalitarian" is meant not only the unequal distribution of wealth, privileges, and power, but the whole complex of social ordering when the essential relationship is a hierarchical one, with superior or inferior status based on ascriptive criteria (age, possession of power and office, status, position in the kin group, etc.). See S.N. Eisenstadt, "The Influence of Traditional and Colonial Political Systems on the Development of Post-Traditional Social and Political Orders", in Hans-Dieter Evers, ed., Modernization in Southeast Asia (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1973), pp. 3-18 (esp., p. 13). For a short but insightful exposition of the Third World’s patrimonial, anti-institutional style of politics, see Christopher Clapham, Third World Politics, pp. 44-60. 

 

[57]   Clapham, Third World Politics, p. 153. On the subject of military re-intervention, which he dis-cusses pertaining to the "veto coup", see pp. 146-147.

 

[58]    The concept of personal rule is also well established in academia, especially in the context of Third World regimes and politics and studies of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. For example, see Jackson and Rosberg, Personal Rule,; Friedrich and Brzezinski, Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy; Hugh M. Hamill, Jr., ed., Dictatorships in Spanish America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965); and Daniel Chirot, Modern Tyrants: The Power and Prevalence of Evil in our Age (New York: Maxwell Macmillan International, 1994). 

 

[59]   Heeger, The Politics of Underdevelopment, p. 117.

 

[60]   Finer, "The Morphology of Military Regimes", p. 281.   

 

[61]   Ibid., pp. 301-302. 

 

[62]   Ibid. For a discussion on the military, the bureaucracy, and supreme decision-making power, see pp. 297-301.

 

[63]   The phrase, "simple ancillaries and appurtenances" is Finer's. Ibid., p. 301. For a brief discussion on military regimes and parties and legislatures, see , pp. 287-291.

 


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