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Democracy under Stress: Civil-Military Relations in South and Southeast Asia Co-Edited by Paul Chambers and Aurel Croissant

Democracy under Stress: Civil- Military Relations in South and Southeast Asia Co-Edited : Paul Chambers and Aurel Croissant

First published by Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS) 5th floor, Prajadhipok-Rambhaibarni Building, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330. Thailand. ISIS Thailand 2010 All rights reserved ISBN : 978-616-551-119-3 No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior permission of ISIS Thailand. This publication is intended to contribute to public information and discussion and does not represent the collective viewpoint of the publishing institution or of the institution(S) with which the author is affiliated.

Table of ContentsPreface List of Contributors i Reflections on Civil-Military Relations v Acknowledgements ix 1. Introduction 1 Paul Chambers/Aurel Croissant/Thitinan Pongsudhirak Section One: Understanding Civilian Control 20 2. Civilian Control of the Military and Democracy: Conceptual 21 and Theoretical Perspectives Aurel Croissant & David Kuehn Section Two: Civil-Military Relations in Southeast Asia 62 3. U-Turn to the Past? The Resurgence of the Military in 63 Comtemporary Thai Politics Paul Chambers 4. Under an Iron Heel: Civil-Military Relations in Burma/Myanmar 102 Win Min 5. Armed Forces as Veto Power: Civil-Military Relations in 126 the Philippines Katherine Marie G. Hernandez & Herman Joseph S. Kraft 6. Civil-Military Relations in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia 149 Rizal Sukma Section Three: Civil-Military Relations in South Asia 170 7. Democratic Ambitions under Praetorian Stress Civil-Military 171 Relations in Pakistan Siegfried O.Wolf & Seth Kane 8. Factionalized by the Past: The Evolution of Civil-Military 201 Relations in Bangladesh Siegfried O. Wolf

PrefaceIn his sweeping work on the state of democracies in the world, Larry Diamond noted an incipient democratic recession that has resulted in losses for the post-1974 Third Wave democratization1. With the Third Wave as the base period, the corresponding gains have accrued to authoritarian regimes of different stripes in the developing world. While not all authoritarian regimes are militaristic in orientation, such as Chinas or Vietnam, many are. Indeed, authoritarianism and militarism are frequently entwined in their fundamental manifestations. Against this backdrop, Chulalongkorn Universitys Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS) is pleased to bring out the present volume. It investigates renewed and persistent cases of resurgent and latent authoritarianism in the context of civil-military relations in South and Southeast Asia, with reference to Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand. As civil-military relations is a longstanding scholarly genre, as pondered by Professor Suchit Bunbongkarn in the next section, this collection of theoretical reassessment and empirical endeavor is not intended to be profound. It merely adds new evidence to and updates relevant literature on the role of the military in the domestic politics of six important countries. In so doing, ISIS highlights one of its core areas of focus in addition to internal conflict and regional security and economic cooperation.

1 Larry Diamond, The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout The World, New York: Henry Holt, 2008.

I wish to thank Aurel Croissant and Paul Chambers for approaching ISIS to pursue this collaborative effort which began with an international academic conference at Chulalongkorn University. While Professor Croissant was the pillar on the theoretical approach and underpinnings, Paul Chambers spent considerable post-conference time at ISIS to streamline the chapters and finalize the book. Bob Fitts, Bill Klausner and Suchit Bunbongkarn of ISIS provided valuable editorial advice. Seth Kane, an ISIS visiting scholar at the time, was instrumental with logistical arrangements and substantive input on one of the chapters. I am particularly appreciative of the effort and energy of the chapter contributors and country experts. Finally, the conference presentations and publication of this book were supported by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and its then-director, Vesna Rodic, to whom I am most grateful.

Associate Prof. Dr.Thitinan Pongsudhirak Director, ISIS Thailand

List of ContributorsDr. Suchit Bunbongkarn is Professor in Political Science and Chairperson of the Executive Board and Director of Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS - Thailand) Chulalongkorn University. He has served as Chairperson of the Counter-Corruption Committee, a Judge on the Constitutional Court, member of the 1997 Constitutional Drafting Assembly, and Dean of the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University. He served once as adviser to Former Prime Minister General Prem Tinsulanond. He obtained his Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University and has written numerous articles and books on Thai politics and regional security in English and Thai. Dr. Paul Chambers is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Political Science, Ruprecht-Karls-Universitt Heidelberg (Heidelberg University) and Senior Researcher at the Thai and Southeast Asian Studies Program, Payap University. His research interests focus on democratization and civil-military relations in Southeast Asia (particularly Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines) as well as the political economy of the Mekong basin. His articles have appeared in Contemporary Southeast Asia, the Journal of East Asian Studies, the Asian Journal of Political Science, and Party Politics, among others. Dr. Aurel Croissant is Professor of Comparative Politics and Director of the Institute of Political Science at Ruprecht-Karls-Universitt Heidelberg. His main research focus is on democratization and civil-military relations in East and Southeast Asia. He has published more than a dozen books in English, German, and Indonesian and over 90 articles in edited volumes and journals


List of Contributorsincluding Democratization, German Political Quarterly, Contemporary Southeast Asia, Asian Perspective, Electoral Studies, and Journal of Comparative Politics. Katherine Marie G. Hernandez is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of the Philippines and Research Fellow at the Institute for Strategic and Development Studies (Philippines). Her research interests include Philippine democratization and security sector reform as well as Asian security issues. She recently contributed to a draft report on Security Sector Reform (SSR) in the Philippines for the United Nations Development Program. Seth Kane is a Master of Arts candidate at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington DC and was recently a Visiting Research Fellow at Chulalongkorn Universitys Institute for Security and International Studies (ISIS). With interests in Asian security and civil-military relations, he has written articles for Asia Times, among others. Herman Joseph S. Kraft is currently the Executive Director of the Institute for Strategic and Development Studies (Philippines) and Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of the Philippines where he teaches courses in International Relations and Comparative Politics. His research interests focus on Philippines security issues, security sector reform, human rights, democratization, and regionalism in the Asia-Pacific region. He has published articles, reports, and book chapters for the United Nations Development Program, ASEAN, and Asian Security Studies (Routledge), among others. David Kuehn is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Political Science, Ruprecht-Karls-Universitt Heidelberg. He received his Magister Artium (M.A.) from Heidelberg University in 2006 and from October 2006 to March 2008 was a lecturer in Comparative Politics there. Davids main research interests are


List of Contributorsdemocratization studies, civil-military relations, social science methodology and game theory. His regional focus is East Asia. In his PhD research, he analyzes the institutionalization of civilian control of the military in the democratic transitions in South Korea and Taiwan. Win Min is lecturer in political science at both at the Thai and Southeast Asian Studies Program of Payap University, Chiang Mai and at the All Ethnic International Open University Program, Chiang Mai University. The focus of his past and present research is comparative studies of civil-military relations for a democratic transition in Burma. He is the co-author of Assessing Burmas Ceasefire Accords (Washington D.C.: East-West Center, 2007) and has most recently published in Asian Survey. He was a member of the All Burma Students Democratic Front from 1988 to 2000. Dr. Thitinan Pongsudhirak is Director of the Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS) and Associate Professor of International Political Economy at the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University. He has co-edited and authored three books, including Thailands Trade Policy Strategy and Capacity (with Razeen Sally), and a range of book chapters on Thai politics, political economy and foreign policy as well as on ASEAN security and economic cooperation. His articles have appeared in Journal of Democracy, Journal of International Security Affairs, Global Asia, and East Asian Forum Quarterly. He is also frequently quoted and his op-eds have regularly appeared in international and local media. Dr Thitinan received his BA from the University of California, MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and PhD from the London School of Economics where he was awarded the United Kingdoms Best Dissertation Prize.


List of ContributorsRizal Sukma is Executive Director at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, (Indonesia); Chairman of International Relations Division, Central Executive Board of the Muhammadiyah organization; member of the board at Syafii Maarif Institute for Culture and Humanity; a visiting lecturer at the Department of International Relations at Muhammadiyah University in Malang; and a member of the National Committee on Strategic Defense Review, Indonesias Ministry of Defense. He focuses on Southeast Asian security issues, ASEAN, Indonesian defense/foreign policy, and Indonesian political change and is the author of numerous internationally-circulated books, journal articles, book chapters, and reports. Dr. Siegfried O. Wolf is a lecturer in Political Science at the South Asia Institute and a Research Fellow at the Institute of Political Science, both at Ruprecht-Karls-Universitt Heidelberg. He conducts research on democratization, civil-military relations, identity, and social movements with a focus on South Asia. He is co-author of A Political and Economic Dictionary of South Asia (Routledge: London, 2006); is Deputy/Managing Editor of the Heidelberg Papers in South Asian and Comparative Politics; and has worked as a consultant for the German government.


Reflections on Civil-Military RelationsThe issues involved in civil-military relations, both in Western democracies and developing countries, have changed over time. In Western Europe and the United States during the cold war period, the issues raised by a number of scholars concerned the autonomy of the military and the nature of civilian control. Samuel Huntington in his book The Soldier and the State suggested that the objective control, which allowed the military to be autonomous in maintaining its professionalism and professional responsibility in the area of national defense, would make the military stay out of politics. Morris Janowitz in his book, The Professional Soldier, believed that the socialization of the military in the United States which recognized the democratic value in society and instilled the concept of citizen soldier ensured the militarys acceptance of civilian control. There have been many later works discussing the concepts and theories of civil-military relations in democratic countries. But these could not explain the militarys role in politics in many developing countries during the cold war period. As a result, a number of research works were carried out to explain the political role of the military in Asia, Africa and Latin America during this period. These studies included the motives and the environments for political interventions, the types of military regimes and the impacts of the interventions on political development. When the third wave of democratization occurred in the late 1970s and 1980s, the pattern of civil-military relations in many developing countries began to change. In Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea, democratization gained momentum during the 1980s and forced the military to accept democratic regimes.


In the case of Thailand, there is a concern whether the present state of civil-military relations will be detrimental to democratic consolidation. This concern is legitimate since the coup in September 2006 raised a question whether the army is for or against democratic rule and civilian control. In my opinion, the recent development of civil-military relations in Thailand has demonstrated a number of points. Firstly, a coup to overthrow a civilian regime is now highly unlikely for a number of reasons. One of them is that the coup in 2006 demonstrated that launching a coup is one thing, governing the country after the coup is very much another. Thai military leaders have now realized that the problems facing the country are too complicated to be solved through military rule. Moreover, there would be strong resistance against a coup both within and outside the country. In addition, I believe there has been a change in the militarys political attitude. That is, there is no desire among military leaders to seek power by getting involved in politics through launching a coup. Secondly, if a coup is unlikely in the future, then how can we explain the nature of civil-military relations at present? Some use the term military tutelage. I am not sure this is an accurate explanation. I dont think that the military is strong enough to lead a civilian government in every issue so as to ensure the governments stability and survival. Thirdly, some suggest that the military is a part of the political establishment. They have argued that the conflict in Thailand at present is a conflict between the elites and the rural masses. I do not want to argue this thesis here although I believe that this interpretation or analysis to be rather superficial. My point is that, when it comes to political issues, the military is not monolithic. It is simplistic to assume that if they wear the same uniform, they think alike. Thai military leaders are among the elites but as they do not operate in a monolithic fashion, the establishment is not necessarily cohesive.


Fourthly, given the problems mentioned above, we can say that civilmilitary relations in Thailand at present are too complex to depict with a simple explanation. Also, in analyzing civil-military relations in Thailand, we should look beyond the issue of the militarys intervention in politics. There are a number of issues involving democracy and civil-military relations in this country which deserve attention. For example, to what extent does the military help develop democracy; what type of democracy would the military prefer, etc. Fifthly, what is more important is the role of the military in the areas of national and regional security. The problems connected with security are now complex and multifaceted. They include military security, non-traditional security and human security. These are interrelated. It is worth studying how the military perceive their role in this respect under the framework of civil-military relations and of democracy. This is particularly true as civil society and non-government organizations have now been accepted as playing a part in non-traditional and human security. Finally, we have to bear one thing in mind. Civil-military relation are interactive. We should not focus only on the military side. The civilian side should be equally considered. Civilian control over the military is unlikely if the civilian government is weak, unstable, and unable to resolve political, economic or social crises. Moreover, although the military are trained to fight to win and to manage violence, this should not always lead to a conclusion that the military dislikes peace and non-violent means. Sometime, we can see civilian leaders who are more hawkish than the military. Therefore, to analyze civil-military relations, we need to strike a balance and consider both the military and the civilian.


Let me end my remarks by saying this. General MacArthur gave a well remembered address to the U.S. Congress after he was ordered to return to the U.S. He ended the address by citing a popular ballad among the soldiers of that day, which has been cited again and again. Old solders never die, they just fade away Thus for scholars, I would like to end my remarks by saying: Old scholars always die, but their contributions never fade away This is why I mentioned the works of Sam Huntington and Morris Janowitz in the beginning of my remarks, without which the study of civil-military relations would not have been as lively as it has been. Emeritus Prof. Dr. Suchit Bunbongkarn


AcknowledgementsThe authors of this volume are most grateful for the assistance and advice from the following individuals: Prof. Dr. Charas Suwanmala (Dean, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University); Prof. William Klausner (Distinguished Author, ISIS Advisor, and Thai Analyst); Ambassador Roberts Fitts (Director, American Studies Program ISIS, Thailand and Former U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea); Dr. Chris Baker (Distinguished Author and Thai Analyst); Ms. Pornpimon Trichot (Researcher, Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University); and Dr. Naruemon Thabchompon (Lecturer, Department of Political Science and Director, Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIDS) Program, Chulalongkorn University. The authors would also like to thank Arisa Ratanapinsiri of Heidelberg Universitys Institute of Political Science for her assistance in formatting as well as the members of the ISIS Administration StaffWanwipha Khanngern, Wuttinee Kamolpattrakul, Niruth Chuaihnu, and Suntree Jitmeumwaifor their technical and logistical contributions.



IntroductionPaul Chambers/Aurel Croissant/Thitinan PongsudhirakThis book focuses on civil-military relations in South and Southeast Asia. In these sub-regions, the institutionalization of civilian control over the armed forces has in many countries remained a crucial issue. This owes to the fact that weak civilian control has generally coincided with democratic frailty. The result has been a preponderance of power by the military over civilian governments, a condition that has eroded political rights and civil liberties. While civilian governments in some countries in South (i.e., India, Sri Lanka) and Southeast Asia (for example Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei) have, in some respects, managed to keep their militaries at bay, others appear to be falling prey to the armed forces hegemony in the political realm.1 The past three decades have seen a global trend of democratic transition going hand in hand with the decline of military regimes and open military intervention. In 1979, fourteen military regimes held power in sub-Saharan Africa, nine in Latin America, five in the Arab states and North Africa, three in Southeast Asia, two in South Asia, and one in East Asia. Since then, democracy replaced all of the military or quasi-civilian regimes2 in Latin America. In the Middle and Near East, military rule has almost universally transformed into1 See Muthiah Alagappa (ed.), Coercion and Governance: The Declining Political Role of the Military in Asia, Stanford University Press, 2001. 2 Quasi-civilian regimes are military regimes with a civilian window-dressing (civil president, constitution, semicompetitive elections) but which are military in substance in the sense that the military holds political hegemony. Typically, a former general serves as head of state and head of government, see Samuel E. Finer, The Man on Horseback. The Role of the Military in Politics, London: Transaction Publication,, 1962.



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civilian strongman rule. In Asia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand and Pakistan have moved from military domination to democracy or mixed patterns of civilian-military authority. At the moment of writing this chapter, there is only one country in Asia in which the military openly rules by force, Burma/Myanmar. In spite of this development, asserting civilian control of the armed forces remains high on the political agenda in many emerging democracies. The nations of South and Southeast Asia have been no exception. In most of these countries, the military used to be a key player, ruling through authoritarian regimes. Even today in 2010, after two decades of democratic development in East Asia, civilian control is still not an uncontested norm in the region. The only exception is Myanmar, where soldiers have controlled politics since 1962, though an opportunity for democratization did appear to open briefly in 1990. These democratic changes have inspired an entirely new generation of comparative analyses of democratic change in the region. In recent years, various comparative studies have been published which deal with institutions of democratic governance, their internal processes, and their impact on the consolidation of new democracies in the region.3 Additionally, there are3 See Jrgen Rland, Clemens Jrgenmeyer, Michael H. Nelson, Patrick Ziegenhain, Parliaments and Political Change in Asia, Singapore: ISEAS, 2005; Jean Blondel, Parties and Party Systems in East and Southeast Asia, in Ian Marsh (ed.), Democratization, Governance and Regionalism in East and Southeast Asia, Routledge, 2006; Benjamin Reilly, Democracy and Diversity: Political Engineering in the Asia-Pacific, Oxford: University Press, 2006; Roland Rich, Pacific Asia in Quest of Democracy. Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2007; Xiaoming Huang, Politics in Pacific Asia, New York, 2009; Aurel Croissant, Teresa Schchter, Institutional Patterns in the New Democracies of Asia: Forms, Origins and Consequences, Japanese Journal of Political Science, forthcoming 2010. For Asia in particular, see for example Muthiah Alagappa (ed.), Civil Society and Political Change in Asia: Expanding and Contracting Democratic Space (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004; C. Kinnvall and K. Jonsson (eds.), Globalization and Democratization in Asia: The Construction of Identity, Routledge, 2002; William Case, Politics in Southeast Asia: Democracy or Less, Richmond: Curzon, 2001; M. Chadda, Building Democracy in South Asia: India, Nepal, Pakistan, Rienner, 2000.


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several works which analyze relevant political decision-making institutions and organizations.4 However, the research on Asian politics in the age of democratic transition still exhibits considerable shortcomings. This is especially the case when it comes to the question of whether democratic change in the region is being accompanied by a new political role for the military. While there have been some outstanding works on the military in Asian politics,5 there has been very little research on the subject in the past decade. Furthermore, most of this research is confined to single country studies. There has only been very limited, systematic, in-depth research on the relationships of politics and the military in multiple cases. For many reasons, this is startling. First, there are strong theoretical and empirical arguments in favor of the thesis that civilian control over the military is a sine qua non for democracy and the consolidation of democracy. As argued in one of the chapters of this book, without civilian control, liberal democracy is impossible. Democratic constitutions tend to be worth little more than the paper on which they are written if the political process is under military control. Civilian authorities might be legitimized by popular elections to rule; however, they lack the effective power to govern if soldiers do not follow their command.4 Allen Hicken, Building Party Systems in Developing Democracies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009; Russell J. Dalton, Doh Chull Shin, and Yun-han Chu (eds.), Party Politics in East Asia: Citizens, Elections, and Democratic Development, Boulder ; London: Lynne Rienner, 2008; Andreas Ufen, Political Party and Party System Institutionalization in Southeast Asia: Lessons for Democratic Consolidation in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, The Pacific Review, Vol. 21, No. 3. (July 2008): 327-350; Aurel Croissant, Die Parteiensysteme neuer Demokratien in Ostasien: Merkmale, Typen und Institutionalisierungsgrad [Party Systems in East Asian Neo-Democracies: Elements, Patterns and Institutionalization], Zeitschrift fr Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft) 1/2008: 98-125. 5 Recent examples of literature on civil-military relations in Asia include the following: Muthiah Alagappa (ed.), Coercion and Governance. The Declining Political Role of the Military in Asia, Stanford University Press, 2001; Muthiah Alagappa (ed.), Military Professionalism in Asia: Conceptual and Empirical Perspectives, Honolulu, HI: East-West Center, 2001. Older works on civil-military relations in Asia are exemplified by the following: Edward A. Olsen and G. Stephen Jurika (eds.) The Armed Forces in Contemporary Asian Societies,. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1986; Viberto Selochan, editor, The Military, the State, and Development in Asia and the Pacific, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1991.


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Second, the so-called third wave of democratization6 since 1974 has witnessed the replacement of authoritarian regimes by democratically elected governments at an astounding rate, including in Asia. For example, in South Asia, military rulers had to agree to share their power with democratically elected civilians in Pakistan in 1987-88, and in Bangladesh in 1990/1. Southeast Asias recent wave of democratization began with the demise of the personal dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines in 1986. Thailand (1988, 1992), Cambodia (1993), Indonesia (1999) and East Timor (2002) followed in successive order. Another transition to democracy even briefly seemed to be occurring in Myanmar in 1990though it failed. Despite these regional democratic trends, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh continue to be beset by unstable parliamentary institutions, weak rule of law, inchoate systems of political representation, chronic corruption, bureaucratic inefficiency, and a lack of social justice. Meanwhile, the wave of democratization and people-power that swept through Southeast and South Asia in the 1980s and 1990s has had little effect on the military government of Myanmar. In addition, Cambodias nascent democracy eroded into a new kind of electoral authoritarianism under the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen in the late 1990s.7 Furthermore, East Timor, Asias youngest nation and one of the United Nations prestigious showcases of post-conflict state building and democratization, continues to stand in a condition of severe state fragility.8 Moreover, the 1999 military takeover in6 See Samuel Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.

See Duncan McCargo, Cambodia: Getting away with authoritarianism, Journal of Democracy, 16 (2005), 98-112. See Aurel Croissant, The Perils and Promises of Democratization through United Nations Transitional Authority Lessons from Cambodia and East Timor, Democratization, 15(3) (2008), 649-668.7 8


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Pakistan, the 2006 coup in Thailand, the military interventions in Bangladesh in 2006-8, and multiple military mutinies in the Philippines indicate that democracy in many Asian countries is under deep strain from military interventionism and adventurism. Even though a major part of democratization efforts has involved removing militaries from the political arena and subordinating them under civilian control, such efforts have encountered a multiplicity of obstacles in most countries. Apart from Myanmar which today offers a case of failed transition to democracy in the face of massive military control over political space, in the emerging democracies of Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh, and especially Pakistan, the military has shown itself more or less resilient in guarding its prerogatives in the post-authoritarian era. This seriously impedes the democratically elected authorities effective power to govern in these countries and has facilitated democratic deterioration in virtually all of the countries analyzed herein. Such military resilience stems from the fact that its disengagement from political and economic governance was only partial at best. Indeed, ambiguous institutional development has accentuated the tentative nature of civilian supremacy. As such, emerging democracies in South and Southeast Asia have been plagued by continuing instances of military assertion and a lack of civilian control, though Indonesia appears to be in better shape than the other cases. Given the deep entrenchment of the militaries in the respective political systems, the manifold problems of consolidation of democracy in general, and the persistence of internal conflict, civilians lack sufficient tools for confronting the military and can hardly be expected to diminish military decision-making power in the political arena. The principal problem for emerging democracies in


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South and Southeast Asia is how to challenge resilient militaries which threaten to set their countries on a course for democratic demise. Ultimately, this monograph represents the culmination of a workshop/ public forum sponsored by the Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS) under Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, held on September 1, 2009. Each country-case chapter has, however, been updated to account for more recent events. In addition, the cases of Pakistan and Bangladesh have been included to provide a larger picture of civil-military relations across two subregions of Asia. The contributions to this volume thus aim to situate civil-military relations in six countries of South and Southeast Asia, within the context of continuing democratic stress. Each case presents a different contemporary reality with regard to the balance of power between civilian governments and the armed forces. Thailand today is experiencing a military resurgence. On the other hand, in Indonesia and Bangladesh, the military seems to be at bay. In the Philippines and Pakistan, the military continues to challenge civilian control. In Myanmar, the military monopolizes power. All six cases illustrate different degrees of challenges to democratic control over the military. The authors in this volume investigate what accounts for these situations, how they reflect the state of democracy in different countries of South and Southeast Asia and the implications for democracy of future military challenges to civilian control. Two concepts are particularly crucial for this volume: democracy and civilmilitary relations. The most influential definition of democracy in comparative politics is provided by Robert Dahl. Dahl makes open contestation and public competition the centre of his conception of Polyarchy,9 which includes eight9

Robert Dahl, Polyarchy, Participation and Opposition, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1971,


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procedural and institutional considerations: 1. Freedom of association, 2. Freedom of opinion, 3. Right to vote, 4. Right to be appointed to public office, 5. Right of political elites to compete for votes and support, 6. Existence of alternative, pluralistic source of information, 7. free and fair elections, 8. institutions, whose policy depends on elections and other expressions of the citizens preferences.10 More recently, a growing number of scholars have used an even broader and expanded conception of democracy under the banner of liberal democracy. These more substantial conceptions of democracy also require provisions for horizontal accountability (checks and balances), the rule of law, and the absence of reserved domains for the military.11 Meanwhile, civil-military relations are defined herein as those interactions between the military and civilian actors that in some way relate to the power to make political decisions. In other words, civil-military relations are a continuum of distribution of decision making power between the civilians and the military.12 Civilian control, then, marks one pole of the continuum of decision making power, a situation in which civilians make all the rules and can change them at any time; yet on the other pole of the continuum is the military regime, in which military officers make all the rules and can change them at any time.13

Ibid. Aurel Croissant, Wolfgang Merkel, Formal Institutions and Informal Rules in Defective Democracies, Central European Political Science Review, 1.2 (December 2000): 31-48; Wolfgang Merkel, Embedded and Defective Democracies, in Aurel Croissant/Wolfgang Merkel (eds.): Special Issue of Democratization: Consolidated or Defective Democracy? Problems of Regime Change, 11, 5 (2004): 33-58; Wolfgang Merkel, Democracy through War?, in: Sonja Grimm/Wolfgang Merkel (eds.): /Special Issue of Democratization: War and Democratization: Legality, Legitimacy and Effectiveness, 15, 3 (2008): 487-508; Larry Diamond, Developing Democracy, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999; Larry Diamond, The Spirit of Democracy, New York: The Free Press, 2008. 12 Cf. Claude E. Welch, Civilian Control of the Military: Myth and Reality. In Claude E. Welch (ed.), Civilian Control of the Military: Theory and Cases from Developing Countries, , Albany: State University of New York Press, 1976, 1-42. 13 Aurel Croissant, David Kuehn, Paul Chambers, Siegfried Wolf, Beyond the Fallacy of Coup-ism: Conceptualizing Civilian Control of the Military in Emerging Democracies, in Democratization, forthcoming 2010.10 11


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This monograph is structured into conceptual and empirical sections. In the first section, Chapter 2 proposes a new approach to the understanding of civil-military relations in young democracies. Meanwhile, in the second section, Chapters 3-8 present empirically-based examinations of the specific interactions between soldiers and civilian governments in six countries of South and Southeast Asia. In Chapter 2, Aurel Croissant and David Kuehn, highlighting the need for a universally-accepted definition, conceptualize civilian control as a set of decision-making areas and emphasize the need to view civil-military relations as a scale of political decision-making power which offsets civilian governments from the armed forces. The authors stress that civilian control is a sine qua non requirement for the development and consolidation of liberal democracy. They further contend that the extent of civilian control in emerging democracies is dependent upon civilian elites skills and readiness in developing short or medium-term tactics for devising institutions that restrict the armed forces political activities. The authors then delineate several strategies and contexts in the institutionalization of civilian control over the military. They conclude that an understanding of civilian control must transcend an over-concentration on military coups, adding that though there is no single path to civilian control, the consolidation of democracy necessitates the purging of armed forces prerogatives from political decision-making. In Chapter 3, Paul Chambers borrows from the approach introduced in Chapter 2 to describe the current state of civil-military relations in Thailand. As such, he disaggregates civil-military relations into the five decision-making areas of Elite Recruitment, Public Policy, Internal Security, National Defense, and Military Organization. In three of these areas, the decision-making authority of


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soldiers vis--vis civilians is seen to have risen since the 2006 coup. He states that the period of 1979 to 2010 has witnessed the steady assertion of political control by one particular military faction. He adds that even following the end of direct military rule in late 2007, soldiers have continued to exercise great power. Indeed, 2009 has seen the military exert autonomy from civilian control. He concludes that the armed forces have located a politically-strategic niche, becoming an essential actor on Thailands political stage. At the same time, amidst growing military tutelage in politics, the country is increasingly veering toward democratic erosion. In Chapter 4, Win Min argues that, given the nature of civil-military relations in Burma/Myanmarwhere military control has long been entrenched one must talk about military-civil relations rather than civil-military relations. He further contends that the up-coming 2010 general elections do not mean a diminution in armed forces supremacy over the country given that the military will remain largely independent from any elected government. Moreover, he adds, to ensure their continued rule, Myanmars top brass intend to maintain a preponderance of power by enfeebling civilian sources of power. He further states that the military leadership will attempt to dominate the country as long as possible, utilizing prerogatives granted in the 2008 constitution. He concludes that any political opening and move toward national reconciliation can only occur from within the armed forces if and only if a reformist senior officer ascends to the top of the military establishment. Chapter 5, by Katherine Marie G. Hernandez and Herman Joseph S. Kraft, sheds light on the state of civil-military relations in the Philippines. They maintain that, as in other Southeast Asian nations, soldiers have influenced politics and society, but that multiple insurgencies have provided an excuse for a larger scope


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of armed forces involvement in Philippine politics. They continue that, given the general fragility of civilian governments, the military has exercised enormous influence in the domestic political arena, allowing it to become a crucial veto actor in competing with the countrys non-military elites. They add that the nature of the Philippine military precludes it from attempting to take power directly, instead opting for intervention in a more indirect and latent fashion. The authors find it unlikely that a reform-minded President will ever successfully consolidate civilian control. As such, they conclude, soldiers will maintain robust influence in Philippine politics for some time to come. In Chapter 6, Rizal Sukma affirms that in Indonesia reforms in civilmilitary relations have been a top priority since the 1998 fall of General (ret.) Suharto. At that time, he continues, many believed that military interventions in politics were a thing of the past. He adds that even today, many insist that the chance of the armed forces returning to play a political role is slim. Though Sukma agrees that soldiers have mostly departed from the political arena, the degree to which civilian control over the military has been established remains problematic. Indeed, he adds, after ten years of military reforms, the armed forces still possess a degree of autonomy in relation to the civilian government. He concludes that, amidst resistance by the armed forces as well as incompetence and inaptitude by civilian governments, there still remains much to be done to bring the Indonesian military more fully under civilian control. Chapters 7 and 8 shift attention to problems of civilian control in South Asia. In Chapter 7, Siegfried O. Wolf and Seth Kane employ the approach developed in Chapter 2 to analyze civil-military relations in Pakistan. They argue that Pakistan has evolved into a classic praetorian state where the Army sees itself as the only true guardian of national sovereignty, political integrity, the


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principal initiator of any national agenda, and the chief resolver of socio-political conflicts. They further contend that soldiers hold enormous sway over civilian governments in terms of political decision-making: elite recruitment, public policy, internal security, national defense, and military organization. The authors conclude that the military will certainly maintain itself as the chief stakeholder in Pakistans political system. Furthermore, they stress that though currently the Army has withdrawn from directly ruling the country, it will definitely resume its interest in the political process whenever it feels that its professional or corporate interests are becoming challenged. Finally, in Chapter 8, Siegfried O. Wolf argues that in Bangladesh, the armed forces have on occasion managed to play a significant role in politics since independence in 1971, though their influence appears to be receding. He adds that a variety of military endogenous and exogenous factors have shaped the evolution of civil-military relations in Bangladesh. Yet he contends that though internal and external security needs have contributed to unity among soldiers, several factors have created a situation inhibiting the build-up of a substantial regular armed force. These have included factionalism and politicization in the military, an active civil society, and particularly-effective (though informal) civilian government strategies, which have in general proven successful in ensuring civilian control. Wolf concludes that, though the military will continue playing a major political role in Bangladeshi politics, it will increasingly be confronted by civilian governments that have successfully led Bangladesh for close to twenty years. Ultimately, when comparing the chapters in terms of the prognosis for civilian control and democracy for each country case, two general trends can be discerned: long-term, measured in terms of decades, and short-term,


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meaning the exact current situation. Over the long-term, political space has tended to grow (or at least the facade of space in the case Myanmar) in each of the cases presented. Five countries can at least argue that they possess the formal trappings of a democracy where voters can determine who governs them. Of these five, Thailand has transformed itself from absolute monarchy while Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Indonesia have progressed from being colonial possessions of European powers. This is not to say that limited rights to vote were not possible in each of these countries previous regimes for certain citizens. Yet compared to today, such rights were negligible. Again, Myanmar arises as the bogeyman exception to the trend. Though top generals drew up a farcical (2008) constitution leading to general elections set for 2010, these appear to be more or less a veneer behind which leading generals can retain power. As such, an argument can be made that with regard to the long-term trend in Myanmar, political space grew after independence but that any civilian control which was achieved is today virtually sealed over. Turning to civilian control over the military in the short term, the news is not good. The fact of the matter is that authoritarianism is on the rise in Southeast Asia and still undiminished in South Asia. Military actors are playing an especially interventionist role in the politics of Myanmarthough the election which has been promised for 2010 may bring forth at the least some sham form of democracy. Yet soldiers are also politically active in Pakistan and, increasingly, in Thailand. Meanwhile, the armed forces have successfully applied pressure to civilian governments in Bangladesh and the Philippines. Finally, the apparent beacon of civilian controlIndonesiais also experiencing growing, though more latent political influence by its military.


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Ultimately, the countries examined in this volume, offering variations in degrees of civil-military relations, can be placed across a continuum (see figure 1 below). Indonesia offers a case where democracy has been shorter but more successful. As for Bangladesh, civilians dominate politics, with soldiers possessing a lesser albeit political role. Thailand exemplifies a country where the military is clearly resurgent. The Philippines represents a mid-range case where the state of civil-military relations remains tentative. In Pakistan, the armed forces exert enormous power, though civilians at least possess formal power. Myanmar, at the other end of the continuum from countries with robust civilian control such as Japan, presents an example of failed democratization where the military has succeeded in establishing thorough control over political space. The placing of the six South and Southeast Asian countries along the continuum in Figure 1 comes from information derived out of the chapters on the countries in this volume. As for Japan, it is placed on the continuum as an opposite example from the disproportionately high patterns of military control existing in other countries of Asia (e.g. Myanmar). Indeed, the case of Japan exemplifies well-established (since World War II) constraints on the role of the armed forces in politics and societya restrictive approach to maintaining [civilian] control over the military.14 It must be emphasized, of course, that this continuum represents only a very crude measurement which aims to illustrate the approximate position of each of the six cases analyzed in this volume on the continuum and the distance between the cases instead of clear-cut differentiations and exact measurements.14 The positioning of Japan in Figure 1 is based upon information gleaned from the following: P.D. Feaver, Shaun Narine, Takako Hikotani, Civilian Control and Civil-Military Gaps in the United States, Japan, and China, Asian Perspective, Vol. 29, No. 1, (2005).


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Figure 1: Continuum of Decision-making ControlMyanmarMilitary Control


Bangladesh Indonesia Thailand Philippines

JapanCivilian Control

Table 1 below meanwhile offers an approximation of the position which the countries examined in this volume might be placed in regard to levels of civilian control, including the two dimensions of institutionalized and informal decision-making power. The institutional dimension refers to the formal powers or regulations which are supposed to guarantee civilian supremacy over the military when there is civilian control. On the other hand, the informal (contestational) dimension refers to the actual, de facto conduct of the military vis--vis civilians with regard to political decision-making, despite the law. Again, Japan has been included, as the ideal contrasta country possessing both very high levels of institutional and informal civilian control. Table 1: Level of Civilian Control across South and Southeast Asia: Institutionalized and Informal DimensionsBalance of Decision-making Institutionalized Control in 2010 Dimension Informal Dimension Myanmar Pakistan Thailand Philippines Bangladesh Indonesia Japan

Higher Military Control Approximate Equilibrium of Control between Military and Civilians Higher Civilian Control

Myanmar Pakistan Thailand

Indonesia Bangladesh Philippines Japan


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Table 1 renders a daunting depiction of civilian controls tenuous standing vis--vis the military in five young democracies of South and Southeast Asia (with Myanmar democratization efforts stillborn). Though Myanmars position is hardly surprising, the most disheartening situation is located in the right column. There we find five democratizing states experiencing substantial informal military control levels (including Indonesia). Of course, these countries ratings are not static but instead fluid. But for Thailand the flow in the level of civilian control has been on a negative trajectory since the September 19, 2006 military coup dtat. Such tidings provide meager support for those who consider uniformed usurpers a phenomenon of the past and any recent informal intervention a mere anomaly. Skeptics need only look to the enshrinement of greater military prerogatives into Thailands law despite the 2007 return to civilian rule. In this same box exists Pakistan, a country which, caught in the throes of political pandemonium, has yet to consolidate democratic processes. Based upon the analyses of civilian control offered in this volume, any short-term prospects for civilian control in the young democracies of South and Southeast Asia are gloomy indeed. This is no time to pretend to view democratic trends through rose-tinted glasses. The authors herein have sought to identify a growing challenge to the development and consolidation of democracy in the region. More than ever, civilian leaders and civil society need to understand that excluding the military from the political realm is a current issue of critical importance. Moreover, civilians need to start ensuring that in the dimension of politics, they maintain institutional control over the military at all times. This means altering any laws which bestow political authority upon military officials. At the same time, civilian governments must educate and involve citizens to increase vigilance in the face of any informal military political intrusions over


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the institutionalized rights of civilians to exercise political power. Without such efforts, civilian control can hardly expect to dislodge the growing influence of the armed forces in politics and thus diminish current military threats to democratization.

Works CitedAlagappa, Muthiah, ed. Civil Society and Political Change in Southeast Asia: Expanding and Contracting Democratic Space. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004. Alagappa, Muthiah, ed. Coercion and Governance. The Declining Political Role of the Military in Asia, Stanford University Press, 2001. Alagappa, Muthiah, ed. Military Professionalism in Asia: Conceptual and Empirical Perspectives, Honolulu, HI: East-West Center, 2001. Blondel, Jean. Parties and Party Systems in East and Southeast Asia in Ian Marsh (ed), Democratization, Governance and Regionalism in East and Southeast Asia, Routledge, 2006. Case, William. Politics in Southeast Asia: Democracy or Less (Richmond: Curzon, 2001). Chadda, M. Building Democracy in South Asia: India, Nepal, Pakistan, Rienner, 2000. Croissant, Aurel, Kuehn, David, Chambers, Paul, Wolf, Siegfried O. Beyond the Fallacy of Coup-ism: Conceptualizing Civilian Control of the Military in Emerging Democracies, in Democratization, forthcoming 2010. Croissant, Aurel. Die Parteiensysteme neuer Demokratien in Ostasien: Merkmale, Typen und Institutionalisierungsgrad. (Party Systems in East Asian Neo-


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Democracies: Elements, Patterns and Institutionalization), Zeitschrift fr Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft (German Journal for Comparative Politics) 1/2008, pp. 98-125. ---. The Perils and Promises of Democratization through United Nations Transitional Authority Lessons from Cambodia and East Timor. Democratization, Vol. 15, No. 3 (2008), pp.649-668. Croissant, Aurel, Merkel, Wolfgang. Formal Institutions and Informal Rules in Defective Democracies. Central European Political Science Review. 1.2 (December 2000): 31-48. Croissant, Aurel, Schchter, Teresa. Institutional Patterns in the New Democracies of Asia. Forms, Origins and Consequences. Japanese Journal of Political Science, 2010 (forthcoming) Dahl, Robert. Polyarchy, Participation and Opposition, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1971. Dalton, Russell J., Doh Chull Shin, and Yun-han Chu, editors. Party Politics in East Asia: Citizens, Elections, and Democratic Development. - Boulder ; London : Lynne Rienner, 2008. Diamond, Larry. Developing Democracy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. ---. The Spirit of Democracy, New York: The Free Press, 2008. Feaver, P.D., Narine, Shaun, Hikotani, Takako. Civilian Control and Civil-Military Gaps in the United States, Japan, and China. Asian Perspective, vol. 29 no. 1 (2005). Finer, Samuel E. The Man on Horseback. The Role of the Military in Politics, London, 1962. Hicken, Allen. Building Party Systems in Developing Democracies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.


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Huang, Xiaoming. Politics in Pacific Asia, New York, 2009. Huntington, Samuel. The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991. Kinnvall, C. and K. Jonsson, eds. Globalization and Democratization in Asia: The Construction of Identity, Routledge, 2002. Kohn, Richard H. How Democracies Control the Military. Journal of Democracy, 8, no. 4 (1997): 140-153. McCargo, Duncan. Cambodia: Getting Away with Authoritarianism, Journal of Democracy 16 (2005), 98-112. Merkel, Wolfgang. Embedded and Defective Democracies. in: Aurel Croissant/ Wolfgang Merkel (eds.): Special Issue of Democratization: Consolidated or Defective Democracy? Problems of Regime Change. 11, 5 (2004): 33-58. ---. Democracy through War? In: Sonja Grimm/Wolfgang Merkel (eds.): /Special Issue of Democratization: War and Democratization: Legality, Legitimacy and Effectiveness, 15, 3 (2008): 487-508. Olsen, Edward A. and G. Stephen Jurika, editors. The Armed Forces in Contemporary Asian Societies. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1986. Rich, Roland. Pacific Asia in Quest of Democracy. Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2007. Reilly, Benjamin. Democracy and Diversity: Political Engineering in the AsiaPacific, Oxford: University Press, 2006. Rland, Jrgen/ Jrgenmeyer, Clemens/Nelson, Michael H./ Ziegenhain, Patrick. Parliaments and Political Change in Asia, Singapore: ISEAS, 2005. Selochan, Viberto, editor, The Military, the State, and Development in Asia and the Pacific, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1991.


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Ufen, Andreas. Political Party and Party System Institutionalization in Southeast Asia: Lessons for Democratic Consolidation in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. The Pacific Review, Vol. 21, No. 3. (July 2008): 327-350. Welch, Claude E. Civilian Control of the Military: Myth and Reality. In Civilian Control of the Military: Theory and Cases from Developing Countries, edited by Claude E. Welch, 1-42. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1976.


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Section One: Understanding Civilian Control


Civilian Control of the Military and Democracy: Conceptual and Theoretical Perspectives 1


Aurel Croissant & David Kuehn IntroductionThe last quarter of the twentieth century saw the worldwide advance of democracy. According to data from the Freedom House-Institute, in 2008 119 (61.6 %) of 193 countries in the world had introduced the procedural minimum of democracy: free, secret and general elections.2 However, as the twenty-first century begins, current analyses of democratization trends convey a pessimistic message, noting the end of the third wave of democratization. As Thomas Carothers stated in 2002, by far the majority of countries considered as transitioning to democracy in recent years have not achieved a relatively wellfunctioning democracy or do not seem to be deepening or advancing whatever democratic progress they have made.3 The empirical evidence increasingly suggests that many new democracies are in serious trouble. They have been paralyzed by inconclusive and disputed electoral outcomes, incessant political strife and partisan gridlock; rampant corruption, and recurring political scandals. More specifically, in Asia, the 2006 coup dtat in Thailand, violent protests in1 This paper is partly based upon Aurel Croissant and David Kuehn, Patterns of Civilian Control in East Asias New Democracies, Journal of East Asian Studies 9, no. 2 (2009): 187-217 and collaborative work in the research project Democratic Transformation and Civilian Control of the Military: Comparing New Democracies in Northeast, Southeast, and South Asia funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG) and headed by Subrata Mitra and Aurel Croissant. We thank Paul Chambers and Siegfried O. Wolf for helpful comments and suggestions. 2 Freedom House, Freedom in the World: Country Reports (Freedom House, 2009), http://www.freedomhouse.org/ template.cfm?page=21&year=2009. 3 Thomas Carothers, The End of the Transition Paradigm, Journal of Democracy 13, no. 1 (2002): 9.


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Mongolias capital Ulan Bator after the parliamentary election of July 2008, constitutional crisis and a decline of political freedom and civil liberties in the Philippines, and a President who is under continuous attack for violating human rights in South Korea seem to testify to a deepening crisis of democracy in the region.4 Furthermore, for those who thought that with the global wave of democratization the military would be permanently removed from political participation in Latin America, East Asia, and Africa, the most recent coup dtat in Thailand may have been unexpected. Although the frequency of military coups has steadily decreased since the mid-1970s, there are ample signs to suggest that the military is still a crucial actor in domestic politics in many countries, often playing key roles in state and nation-building, political decisionmaking, maintaining internal order, and in ensuring national security.5 While military regimes today are less common compared to the 1960s and 1970s, depoliticizing political armies, preventing soldiers from staging coup dtats and institutionalizing civilian control over the military remain as central tasks for democratic consolidation in many newly democratized nations.4 See, for example, Doh Chull Shin and Rollin F. Tusalem, Democratization in East Asia, in Democratization, ed. Christian W. Haerpfer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 356-376; Yu-tzung Chang, Yun-han Chu, and Min-hua Huang, The Uneven Growth of Democratic Legitimacy in East Asia, International Journal of Public Opinion Research 18, no. 2 (2006): 246-255; Yun-han Chu et al., eds., How East Asians View Democracy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008). 5 See with regard to Asia, for example, Muthiah Alagappa, ed., Coercion and Governance: The Declining Political Role of the Military in Asia (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001); Muthiah Alagappa, Asian Security Order: Instrumental and Normative Features (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003); Mark Beeson and Alex J. Bellamy, Securing Southeast Asia: The Politics of Security Sector Reform, Routledge Security in Asia Pacific Series 6 (London: Routledge, 2008); Croissant and Kuehn, Patterns of Civilian Control in East Asias New Democracies.. For civil-military relations in Latin America see J. Samuel Fitch, The Armed Forces and Democracy in Latin America (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1998); David Pion-Berlin, ed., Civil-Military Relations in Latin America: New Analytical Perspectives (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001); Peter H. Smith, Democracy in Latin America: Political Change in Comparative Perspective (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).


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This is especially true for Thailand. In the seventy-six years since the overthrow of the absolute monarchy, Thailand has seen somewhere between seventeen and twenty-three coups and coup attempts, eighteen constitutions and fifty-six governments.6 While the country has been undergoing a process of political transition since 1988, deep-reaching political conflicts and fractions reemerged in September 2006, when the Thai military staged a coup dtat against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.7 The return to democracy in December 2007 did little to heal existing divisions in Thai society. Rather, the political schism between the pro-Thaksin and anti-Thaksin forces soared precipitously into rival demonstration movementsthe anti-Thaksin Peoples Alliance for Democracy or PAD and the pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD). In December 2008, the Democrat Party cobbled together a coalition government and, with support from the armed forces, has since managed to remain in power. Although formally an elected civilian government, serious reservations exist in regard to the extent to which the civilian administration is able to control the military or if it rather functions as a mere civilian window-dressing for military tutelage (Chambers in this volume). These events have brought back at least three questions onto the research agenda of comparative Asian politics and the study of democracy in Asia: What is civilian control (and what is it not)? What is the relationship between civilian control and democracy? How can civilian authorities successfully attempt to exercise civilian control over the military and what are the crucial factors that impact the success or failure of democratic civilian control? As the contributions to this volume demonstrate, those questions are not only of utmost6 For the history of civil-military relations in Thailand see Suchit Bunbongkarn, The Military in Thai Politics: 1981 - 86, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Books and Monograph Series 81 (Singapore, 1989) and Samudavanija Chai-Anan, Old Soldiers Never Die, They Are Just Bypassed: The Military, Bureaucracy and Globalisation, in Political Change in Thailand: Democracy and Participation, ed. Kevin Hewison (London: Routledge, 1997), 42-57. 7 For the 2006 coup, see, for example, the special issue 38(1) of the Journal of Contemporary Asia


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importance for Thailand but for many, if not most, political regimes in South and Southeast Asia, and in the wider Asia-Pacific region. While the case studies presented here deal with the thorny issue of civil-military relations and civilian control from an empirical perspective, the remainder of this chapter examines the aforementioned questions from a conceptual and theoretical point of view. Seeking to illuminate the challenges of civilian control in young democracies, this study is structured into five parts. The first part discusses the central term in the study of civil-military-relations (CMR): civilian control. The second section presents a conceptualization of civilian control as a set of five decision-making areas. Section three explores the often postulated but mostly under-theorized relationship between civilian control and liberal democracy, whereas section four elaborates on the relationship between agency and strategic behavior and contextual factors in the process of institutionalizing civilian control in new democracies. The final section briefly outlines the main implications of the discussion in this paper for the course of civil-military relations in South and Southeast Asian nations.

I. What is Civilian Control?Civil-military relations are those interactions between the military and civilian actors that in some way relate to the power to make political decisions.898 Claude E. Welch, Civilian Control of the Military: Myth and Reality, in Civilian Control of the Military: Theory and Cases from Developing Countries, ed. Claude E. Welch (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1976), 2. 9 The military or armed forces (the terms are used interchangeably) is defined as those permanent state organizations authorized by law to apply coercive power in order to provide security for society and state primarily against external threats. This definition includes various military sub-organizations and specialized military units under formal command lines, such as military police and military intelligence services. Excluded, therefore, are non-state security forces (private security companies or party militias) and paramilitary units. The focus here is on the functional elites of the military organization, that is, the upper echelons of the officer corps. In contrast, the terms civilians or civilian authorities (used interchangeably henceforth) apply to those non-military segments of the state apparatus which have the authority to formulate, implement and oversee political decisions Morris Janowitz, The Professional Soldier, a Social and Political Portrait (Glencoe: Free Press, 1960), 3; Martin Edmonds, Armed Services and Society (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1988), 26; Felipe Agero, Soldiers, Civilians, and Democracy: Post-Franco Spain in Comparative Perspective (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), 22; Muthiah Alagappa, Introduction, in Coercion and Governance: The Declining Political Role of the Military in


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Traditionally, the study of civil-military relations levitated around questions of who is master and who is servant in civil-military relations and who guards the guardians of the nation. In other words: the question of civilian control is at the heart of civil-military relations. Even though in recent years, especially with the fall of the Berlin Wall, democratization processes in eastern Europe, the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the proliferation of peace-building missions and programs in so-called postconflict societies, the concept of security sector governance or security sector reform has gained prominence in the academic and policy-oriented literature,10 civilian control remains the central issue in civil-military relations in emerging democracies. Despite the long history of civil-military research,11 the field still lacks a universally accepted definition of civilian control. The old school of civilmilitary relations12 research has often been dominated by a lack of explicit and theoretically grounded conceptualization of the boundaries and contents of civilian control. Rather, most studies relied on meticulous empirical summaries and historical descriptions of processes and events, refraining from making the underlying assumptions explicit.13 In addition, the focus of civil-military research in the 1960s and 1970s has mainly been on the causes, opportunities and motives of military coups as well as on the forms and performances of militaryAsia, ed. Muthiah Alagappa (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 4. 10 For an overview, see Alexandre Lambert, Democratic Civilian Control of Armed Forces in the Post-Cold War Era (Mnster: LIT, 2009). With regard to the application of the concepts to the Southeast Asian region, see Beeson and Bellamy, Securing Southeast Asia. 11 Harold D. Lasswell, The Garrison State, The American Journal of Sociology 46, no. 4 (January 1941): 455-468; Samuel P Huntington, The Soldier and the State; the Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations (Cambridge,: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1957). 12 Anthony Forster, New Civil-Military Relations and its Research Agendas, Connections 1, no. 2 (2002): 71. 13 Daniel N. Nelson, Definition, Diagnosis, Therapy: A Civil-Military Critique, Defense & Security Analysis 18, no. 2 (2002): 157-158.


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rule. From this perspective, civilian control remained implicitly defined as the absence of physical military intervention, and actual military rule.14 However, focusing on the coup/no-coup dichotomy runs the risk of reducing the complexity of civil-military relations to only one extreme and partial aspect.15 The fallacy, which necessarily follows from a negative definition of civilian control as absence of coups, is that all other forms, states, and patterns of civil-military relations necessarily need to be considered as civilian control. This includes other forms of military misbehavior that are potentially not less dangerous for the political elites or society at large than the military coup. One case in point is the parasitic military which abuses its political power to draw more resources from their parent society than needed to provide their core functions.16 Another example is the carving-out of reserved domains for the armed forces (see below). Furthermore, contrary to the equation of absence of open intervention and civilian control, the contrary could, in fact, be true. As Feaver has aptly pointed out, the absence of military coups could also be read as an indicator for the high degree of the militarys political influence vis--vis civilians. From this perspective, military interventions bear witness to the political weakness of the officer corps, since the latter is not able to assert their institutional, corporate or personal interests in any other way.17 In order to avoid the fallacy of coup-ism. a definition and conceptualization of civilian control must go beyond the coup/no-coup dichotomy. It needs to departSamuel P. Huntington, Political Development and Political Decay, World Politics 17, no. 3 (April 1965): 386-430; Eric A. Nordlinger, Soldiers in Politics: Military Coups and Governments (Englewood Cliffs: PrenticeHall, 1977); Amos Perlmutter, The Military and Politics in Modern Times: On Professionals, Praetorians, and Revolutionary Soldiers (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977); S. E Finer, The Man on Horseback: The Role of the Military in Politics (London: Pall Mall, 1962). 15 A. R. Luckham, A Comparative Typology of Civil-Military Relations, Government and Opposition 6, no. 1 (1971): 5-35. 16 Edmonds, Armed Services and Society, 29-30. 17 Peter D. Feaver, The Civil-Military Problematique: Huntington, Janowitz, and the Question of Civilian Control, Armed Forces & Society 23, no. 2 (1996): 154-155.14


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from the basic assumption that all militaries engage in some form and to certain extents in political action.18 Furthermore, such a definition has to bear in mind that political activity of the military can take various forms.19 The point of reference for a comprehensive understanding of civilian control must not be whether the military yields political influence, but how and how much.20 Hence, it is necessary to think of civil-military relations as a continuum of political decision-making power distributed between the civilian political leadership and the military. In this sense, civilian control is a relative condition, i.e., it is possible to distinguish different degrees of civilian control (e.g., strong or weak, encompassing or limited). Full-fledged civilian control, on one pole of the continuum, refers to the distribution of decision-making power under which civilians make all the rules and can change them at any time.21 Under civilian control, civilians alone have the power to decide on national policies. Civilians can delegate decision-making power and the implementation of certain policies to the military. But, the military has no autonomous decision-making power outside those areas that were specifically defined by civilians. Furthermore, it is civilians alone who determine which particular policies, or aspects of policies, the military implements, and civilians alone define the boundaries between policy-making and policy-implementation. In addition, civilian authorities are entitled to, and have the capacity to, effectively control the implementation of their decisions. They possess sanctioning power vis--vis the military, and they canin principlerevise their delegation at any time.22 On the other pole of theEdmonds, Armed Services and Society, 95. Andrew Cottey, Timothy Edmunds, and Anthony Forster, The Second Generation Problematic: Rethinking Democracy and Civil-Military Relations, Armed Forces & Society 29, no. 1 (2002): 36-40. 20 Welch, Civilian control of the military, 2; Alan Siaroff, Comparing Political Regimes: A Thematic Introduction to Comparative Politics, 2. ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009), 89-93. 21 Richard H. Kohn, How Democracies Control the Military, Journal of Democracy 8, no. 4 (1997): 142. 22 Kenneth W. Kemp and Charles Hudlin, Civil Supremacy over the Military: Its Nature and Limits, Armed Forces & Society 19, no. 1 (1992): 7-26; David Pion-Berlin, Military Autonomy and Emerging Democracies in South America, Comparative Politics 25, no. 1 (1992): 83-102; Kohn, How Democracies Control the Military; Douglas L. Bland, Patterns in Liberal Democratic Civil-Military Relations, Armed Forces & Society 27, no. 4 (2001): 525-540.18 19


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continuum is the military regime, that is, the distribution of power in which the military controls all decisions concerning political structures, processes, and policies while civilians do not possess any autonomous political decisionmaking power.

II. Civilian Control Conceptualized as a Set of Decision-making AreasFollowing Timothy Coltons seminal study on the changing range and forms of political participation of the Soviet military, 23 a range of different approaches have been proposed to capture the different patterns of the civil-military power relationship.24 Building on this body of work, we organize the various components of civilian control into five decision-making areas of civil-military relations: elite recruitment, public policy, internal security, national defense, and military organization.

Timothy J Colton, Commissars, Commanders, and Civilian Authority: The Structure of Soviet Military Politics, Russian Research Center studies 79 (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1979). Edmonds, Armed Services and Society; Alfred C Stepan, Rethinking Military Politics: Brazil and the Southern Cone (Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1988); Pion-Berlin, Military Autonomy and Emerging Democracies in South America; Agero, Soldiers, Civilians, and Democracy; Muthiah Alagappa, Investigating and Explaining Change: An Analytical Framework, in Coercion and Governance: The Declining Political Role of the Military in Asia, ed. Muthiah Alagappa (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 29-68; Harold A Trinkunas, Crafting Civilian Control of the Military in Venezuela: A Comparative Perspective (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005).23 24


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Figure 1: Five decision making areas of civil-military relations25Internal Security (C) (D) External Defense Public Policy (B)

Elite Recruitment (A)

(E) Military Organization

A) Civilian control over elite recruitment is the sine qua non for democratic rule. The principles of civilian control are violated under the following conditions: if the military enjoys constitutionally reserved representation in cabinet and parliament, or has informally recognized or institutionalized veto powers regarding the appointment of members of the government or public administration, if the armed forces control aspects of the electoral process, or if active service personnel hold positions of political leadership. B) The area of public policy encompasses decision-making and implementation in all political affairs except security and defense policy, e.g. fiscal and economic policy, foreign policy and public welfare. Examples of the breaching of civilian control in this area are any occurrences of autonomous military policy-making, or the formation of genuine military structures which take over functions from civilian administrative organizations.

25 Aurel Croissant and David Kuehn, Demokratisierung und zivil-militrische Beziehungen in Ostasien: Theorie und Empirie, Sdostasien aktuell 26, no. 3 (2007): 5-54; Croissant and Kuehn, Patterns of Civilian Control in East Asias New Democracies.


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C) Internal security constitutes a third area of civil-military relations: both new and established democracies deploy their armed forces for disaster relief, to support the civilian police force and border control troops, or to fight insurgencies and terrorism.26 However, these activities are compatible with civilian control only if the decision-making power over the range, duration and frequency of these missions rests with democratic authorities, and if civilian institutions are able to monitor military activities. D) National defense is the core function of any national military. Even in established democracies, military officers are usually involved in the formulation of defense policies and often provide expertise to civilian decision-makers. In fact, effective defense policy-making requires civilians willing to make use of the militarys professional expertise.27 However, civilian control in this area is at stake if civilian authorities do not possess the final decision-making power, cannot control the defense policy agenda, or if civilian institutions are not able to monitor and sanction the militarys activities. E) The area of military organization comprises decisions on the size and organization of the armed forces, their doctrine and command structures, as well as the general guidelines of recruitment, education, appointment and equipment. While a certain degree of organizational autonomy is necessary for the military to fulfill its functions, civilian control is dependent on the ability of civilians to define the range and boundaries of this institutional autonomy.28 Full-fledged civilian control requires that civilian authorities enjoy uncontested decision-making power in all five areas. Challenges to the civiliansPaul Wilkinson, Terrorism Versus Democracy: The Liberal State Response, 2. ed. (London: Routledge, 2006). Thomas C Bruneau and Harold A Trinkunas, eds., Global Politics of Defense Reform (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). 28 Pion-Berlin, Military Autonomy and Emerging Democracies in South America.26 27


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ability to make decisions in the five areas by the military can occur in two distinct forms: institutionalized rules and contestation.29 Institutionalized rules refer to the existence of military prerogatives. that is the militarys acquired right or privilege, formal or informal, to exercise effective control over its internal governance, to play a role within extra-military areas within the state apparatus, or even to structure relationships between the state and political or social society.30 These rules perpetually confine the elected civilians decision making power. Examples of military prerogatives can be found in Ecuador and Turkey, where a role for the armed forces as guardian of the nation is inscribed in each countrys constitution.31 To prevent a military from acquiring political clout, one condition for civilian control in each of the five dimensions is that the military must not possess any such institutionalized prerogatives. At the same time, it must be assured that N develop institutions that transfer the power to make decisions regarding all policy matters to civilians including defense and security policy. Contestation encompasses all instances of the military challenging civilian decision-making power by threatening to engage or actually engaging in illegitimate conduct. While contestation is temporally limited, it N poses a serious threat to civilian control. Hence, civilian control also depends on the absence of any unlawful, or informal, political interference by the military aimed at reducing the civilians ability to make or change political n, or to have them implemented. Both conditions are individually necessary and jointly sufficient29 Welch, Civilian control of the military; Kemp and Hudlin, Civil Supremacy over the Military; Agero, Soldiers, Civilians, and Democracy; Alagappa, Coercion and governance; Nelson, Definition, Diagnosis, Therapy; Trinkunas, Crafting Civilian Control of the Military in Venezuela: A Comparative Perspective; Stepan, Rethinking Military Politics. 30 Stepan, Rethinking Military Politics, 93. 31 Constantine P. Danopoulos and Daniel Zirker, eds., The Military and Society in the Former Eastern Bloc (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1998), 4-5.


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for civilian control to be existent, i.e., if and only if both conditions are fulfilled, civilians decision-making power is not circumscribed by military influence. To differentiate between institutionalized and contestational forms of military attacks on civilian control is an analytical distinction. In political reality, more often than not both forms occur hand in hand. For example, while some constitutions (i.e., Chiles post-authoritarian constitution until the constitutional reforms of the late 1990s) included some institutionalized military prerogatives, the military also engaged in contestation, such as holding parades in the streets of the capital of Santiago de Chile to demonstrate its power to the civilians and to make sure that civilians did not follow a course in the reform of civil-military relations that would have threatened the armed forces autonomy and corporate interests.

III. Civilian Control as a Necessary Condition for Liberal DemocracyThe literature on civil-military relations in democratic transitions recognizes the importance of civilian control of the military as a conditio sine qua non for the consolidation of new democracies.32 However, civilian control is not equal to democratic control, as the experience of single-party regimes in communist countries illustrated. The fact that civilians control the military says little about the formers political beliefs and practices. Alternatively, as Anthony Forster aptly notes, it is a fundamental premise of democratic civilian relations that civilian control of the military is clearly possible without democracy, but democracy isnt possible without civilian control of the military.3332 Robert A. Dahl, Democracy and Its Critics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 250; Larry J. Diamond and Marc F. Plattner, eds., Civil-Military Relations and Democracy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996); Juan J. Linz and Alfred C. Stepan, eds., Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996). 33 Anthony Forster, Armed Forces and Society in Europe (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 96.


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Regarding the specific relationship of civilian control and democracy, two somewhat distinct contrasting perspectives can be discerned in the literature on democracy and democratization. Some democracy theorists and students of democratic transition define civilian control as a functional prerequisite of democratic rule.34 On the other hand, scholars who subscribe to an inherent conception of civilian control define military subordination under civilian authority as a core aspect of democracy itself. In this perspective, civilian control is one of the elements that define democracy.35 Regardless of the analytical status of civilian control vis--vis democracy, both positions assume civilian control to be of fundamental relevance for democratic governance: without civilian control, there is no democracy. Democracy can be understood as the realization of three core values:36 peoples sovereignty, political equality, and civil liberty.37 It remains then to be asked how weak or absent civilian control influences the realization of these three democratic principles. The connection between civilian control of the military and sovereignty of the people is straightforward. The degree of accountability and responsibility of elected political representatives to the citizens declines with the degree of military incursions into the elected civilians decision-making power. The larger the militarys autonomous political decision-making power, the smaller the relevance of democratic processes as instruments for making political decisions responsive to the preferences of the people and holding decision makers accountable.Dahl, Democracy and Its Critics, 46. E.g., Philippe Schmitter and Terry Karl, What Democracy Is. . . and Is Not, Journal of Democracy 2, no. 3 (1991): 75-88. 36 Corey Brettschneider, The Value Theory of Democracy, Politics Philosophy Economics 5, no. 3 (2006): 270-273. 37 Larry J. Diamond and Leonardo Morlino, eds., Assessing the Quality of Democracy (Baltimore: Hopkins University Press, 2005), 22.34 35


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Weak or outright lack of civilian control also poses a serious obstacle to the principle of political equality. As democracy is based upon the idea that all citizens have the equal right of representation and access to the political system, political privileges for certain political or social groups or individuals contradict the idea of democratic citizenship.38 The emergence of the armed forces as a tutelary power or military reserved domains places one social group (and its individual members) into a politically privileged position which stands at odds with the notion of political equality. Weakly-institutionalized or outright lack of civilian control poses similar problems for the democratic principle of liberty or individual freedom. This core value refers to the limitation and mode of exercise of governmental power by making it subject to legal boundaries and respect for the individual rights of the citizens.39 In liberal democracies, a range of institutional arrangements safeguards the citizens primary individual rights. Typically, this set of fundamental rights refers to the life and security of the person, the liberty and freedom of movement, the freedom of thought and expression, the freedom of assembly and association, freedom of information, protection against discrimination, special rights of particularly vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, and due process rights.40 These rights are in jeopardy if the military is not subject to firm and effective civilian control. This is so because the lack of civilian control necessarily violates the institutions of constitutionalism and rule of law which are meant to guarantee the protection of these rights. A tutelary military is by definition beyond the checks and balances that are meant to prevent, redress, or punish38 Sidney Verba, Would the Dream of Political Equality Turn Out to Be a Nightmare? Perspectives on Politics 1, no. 04 (2003): 263. 39 Marc F. Plattner, Liberalism and Democracy: Cant Have One without the Other, Foreign Affairs 77, no. 2 (1998): 171-180. 40 David Beetham, Freedom as the Foundation, Journal of Democracy 15, no. 4 (2004): 66.


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the presumably illegal actions (or inactions) of public officials.41 Similarly, if the military enjoys autonomous decision-making power in certain policy areas or if it can implement policies without being monitored by actors who can be judicially or electorally held accountable, they remain unchecked by institutional counterweights and are thus effectively lawless. The question that follows from this is to what extent the lack of civilian control can be arguably reconciled with calling a regime democratic, or to phrase it differently: where is the threshold between a democracy under military tutelage and a military regime? While this question is impossible to answer with any degree of final authority without empirical evidence, two arguments deserve closer scrutiny. First, a political regime cannot be categorized as democratic if the military has any degree of autonomous political influence in the areas of public policy and elite recruitment because they touch upon the core elements of the electoral regime per se. As the functionality of the electoral regime is the defining element of democratic rule, any conferring of autonomous decision-making power over these matters to the military violates the core democratic principles of peoples sovereignty and political equality. If the military controls elite recruitment (area A of civil-military relations) and the civilian government is subordinate to and exists only at the disposition of the military, or if the armed forces direct most other policy areas and oversee the workings of a civilian day-to-day cabinet, the political regime must be judged as being under military control and can no longer be considered minimally democratic. Political regimes with a literal military government having full control over state policy and with cabinet memb