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Evan Laksmana: Gaining or Losing Ground? The Indonesian and Myanmar Armed Forces and Divergent Regime Trajectories


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Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs 

East Asia Program presents

Gaining or Losing Ground? The Indonesian and Myanmar Armed Forces and Divergent Regime Trajectories 

Do militaries gain or lose when leaving politics following democratic transitions? This presentation seeks to answer this question by comparing the experience of the Indonesian and Myanmar armed forces following their democratic transitions. It seeks to further explain why the Burmese generals launched their coup in February 2021, even though they remained most powerful institution in the country after the 2010 transition. The presentation will examine and compare the intra-military dynamics as well the broader evolution of civil-military relations in Indonesia after 1998 and Myanmar after 2010. It argues that in Indonesia, the civilians pushed for the transition, pushed the military out of formal politics but compensated them with other institutional privileges, from defense budget to internal autonomy and giving retirees powerful role in political parties. In Myanmar, the military initiated the transition, controlled its trajectory since, and decided to end the experiment when internal dynamics within the military increasingly saw the civilian-led democracy to be detrimental to their interests.

This event is part of Bringing East Asia to the SU Classroom Series.

Evan Laksmana

National University of Singapore

Evan A. Laksmana is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy,

National University of Singapore. His research focuses on military change, civil-military relations, and regional security in the Indo-Pacific. He was previously a senior researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Jakarta, Indonesia.  His research has appeared in Journal of Contemporary Asia, Asian Security, Asian Politics & Policy, Defense & Security Analysis, Asia Policy, Contemporary Southeast Asia, and others. He has written for Foreign Policy, The New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, South China Morning Post, and others. He earned his MA and PhD in political science from Syracuse University as a Fulbright Presidential Scholar. He tweets @EvanLaksmana.

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