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The Politics of Military Reform in Post-Suharto Indonesia 9781932728446

The Politics of Military Reform in Post-Suharto Indonesia

Elite Conflict, Nationalism, and Institutional Resistance

ISBN-10: 1932728449
ISBN-13: 9781932728446
AUTHOR:
PUBLISHER: East-West Center
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Product Description: Executive Summary:Since the fall of Suharto's New Order regime in 1998, Indonesia has launched a number of initiatives to reform its previously omnipotent armed forces. The extent to which these reforms have resulted in real political change, however, has been subject to heated debate in Indonesia and in capitals of Western donor countries. The two camps have often advanced highly antagonistic accounts of the military reform process. Human rights groups and political activists, on the one hand, have contended that despite formal reforms, there has been almost no change in the way the armed forces operate. They maintain that the military continues to influence, and even dominate, political and economic affairs. The opposing view, which is frequently argued by foreign proponents of restoring full military-to-military ties with Indonesia, states that the armed forces are now fully subordinated to civilian democratic control, and that substantial progress has been made in imposing international human rights standards on the troops.This study presents an evaluation of military reform efforts in Indonesia eight years after Suharto's resignation. Applying the two-generation model of military reform developed by Cottey, Edmunds, and Forster, its proposes that Indonesia has made remarkable progress in advancing first-generation military reforms, which include extensive changes to the country's institutional framework, judicial system, electoral mechanisms, composition of representative bodies, and the responsibilities of security agencies. In combination, these reforms have successfully extracted the armed forces from formal politics, have undermined many of their institutional privileges, and have produced a polity in which the military arguably no longer holds ?veto power? to overturn decisions made by the civilian government. The compliance of the armed forces with the government's most recent peace plan for Aceh, despite extensive skepticism within the ranks, is a persuasive example of change.These successes, however, have been counterbalanced by serious omissions and failures. Most important, policymakers did not proceed with initiatives to reform the territorial command structure. These reforms were aborted shortly after they were launched in 2000 amid increasing political tensions. Thus the territorial system was maintained as the power base of the armed forces in the regions, allowing them to tap into economic resources at the grassroots and defend their role as a significant player in local politics. In the same vein, none of the post-Suharto administrations seriously tackled the issue of military self-financing. Since its inception in the 1940s, the Indonesian military has raised much of its own funds through a large network of businesses, cooperatives, foundations, and other formal and informal enterprises. These fund-raising mechanisms, in turn, have enabled the armed forces to operate from a position in which they are not exclusively dependent on budget allocations from the state. Despite efforts to increase state control over the defense budget after 1998, the military has continued to rely on large amounts of offbudget funds. Under such conditions, the process of establishing effective and democratic civilian control over the military cannot be completed.The failure to subject the armed forces irreversibly to democratic civilian control has been due to several factors. First, prominent military officers around General Wiranto had played a key role in organizing a controlled transfer of power from Suharto to his deputy, B. J. Habibie, in May 1998, avoiding the complete collapse of the New Order regime andsecuring the armed forces extensive participation in the first postauthoritarian government. As a result, the military was granted the authority to define its own internal reform agenda, enabling it to fend off demands for more substantial change.Second, the deep fragmentation within Indonesia's civilian elite assisted the military in gaining concessions from political leaders eager to pull the armed forces to their side and outplay opponents in their struggle for power. The divisions between key societal and political figures had already been clearly visible in the turmoil that led to Suharto's fall, but they widened in 1999 and finally brought the country to the brink of a constitutional breakdown in 2001. The chaos surrounding the impeachment of President Wahid led to a serious loss of public confidence in civilian leadership skills, and facilitated the rise of retired military officers as top contenders for political office. In 2002 and 2003, former generals defended their hold on key governorships in Java and other important provinces,despite the fact that civilian political parties controlled large majorities in the legislatures that elected them. In 2004, the presidential race featured three contenders with a military background, and resulted in Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's ascension to the presidency.Third, the perception in large sections of society that the political and economic reforms introduced after 1998 had not significantly improved their daily lives gave rise to an anti-reform sentiment that also affected initiatives for change in the armed forces. More specifically, concerns over sectarian clashes in Maluku, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi, as well as continued separatist violence in Aceh and Papua, led many politicians to conclude that further experiments with military reform were likely to undermine the capability of the armed forces to deal with the unrest. As conservative notions of unitarianism and territorial integrity replaced the liberal euphoria of the immediate post-Suharto period, the majority of Indonesian decision-makers dropped military reform from their list of urgent policy items.Fourth, there was strong institutional resistance within the armed forces toward reforms that threatened their core interests. While accepting its phased extraction from formal politics, the military put up fierce opposition towards plans to reform the territorial command structure, and tried to circumvent government initiatives to take control of military businesses. Officers in favor of gradually disbanding the territorial system were sidelined by their colleagues, and the armed forces leadership took every opportunity to consolidate, and even expand, their network of local commands. One such opportunity was the government's fight against terror, which encouraged senior generals to reinstate the intelligence functions of low-level units that had been shelved after 1998.The hybrid nature of Indonesia's military reform presents Indonesian and foreign policymakers with a set of difficult challenges. Domestic politicians are confronted with the task of producing a blueprint for modernizing Indonesia's outdated defense system, which had been designed in the 1940s to defeat the Dutch by guerilla warfare. This blueprint potentially would see the current territorial system replaced by a number of multiservice bases at strategic points of the archipelago, with the capacity to rapidly deploy troops to crisis spots. Indonesian politicians should also pursue several reforms that would lead to improvements to the human rights courts and military justice system, the clear subordination of the military to the Department of Defense, and the creation of a civilian-led National Security Council. Foreign donors, on the other hand, have learned since Suharto's fall that isolating the Indonesian armed forces has not triggered more extensive reforms. Instead, the decision of many Western countries to suspend military-to-military ties with Indonesia in 1999 has hardened the nationalist resolve within the officer corps and has driven it closer to China and Russia. Consequently, a course of limited engagement is advised that helps Indonesia strengthen its air force and navy vis-a-vis the army, and ultimately leads to a more professional and accoun

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PUBLICATION DATE:
PAGES: 86
CATEGORY: History, Political Science
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