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Ensuring democratic civilian control of the armed forces in Asia

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Title: Ensuring democratic civilian control of the armed forces in Asia
Authors: Trinkunas, Harold A.
LC Subject Headings: Asia - Armed Forces
Civil-military relations - Asia
Democracy - Asia
Issue Date: 1999
Publisher: Honolulu: East-West Center
Series/Report no.: East-West Center occasional papers. Politics and security series ; no. 1
Abstract: Even though there is a trend toward political liberalization and democratization across Asia, its emerging democracies will not become consolidated unless elected officials establish authority over their armed forces. While direct military rule has become rare in Asia, military forces continue to impose limits on the scope of democratization efforts in many countries. This paper argues that civilian control exists when government officials hold ultimate jurisdiction over military activities, and that control is maximized when soldiers are confined to tasks linked to their primary function: preparing for war. Civilian control is likely to emerge only when rulers gain sufficient leverage over the armed forces to compel military officers to accept oversight. Only when civilian control is institutionalized will democracy prevail and norms of civilian supremacy develop within the military.

This paper examines democratic civilian control and explores the challenges confronting Asia's democratizers. It also considers the nature of civil-military relations in Asia's authoritarian regimes and studies the barriers that civilian control may place in the path of political liberalization. After examining the issues facing emerging democracies, this paper analyzes civil-military relations in consolidated democracies in Asia, focusing on the question of how the military's activities can be supervised. Next it turns to the problems facing civilian authoritarian regimes in maintaining control over the armed forces, as well as the issues that may arise should these countries begin democratizing. Finally, the paper outlines policy recommendations to promote democratic civilian control.
Description: For more about the East-West Center, see
Pages/Duration: 29 pages
Appears in Collections:Politics and Security (op)

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