Military Dominance in South East Asia

In today’s South East Asia, countries are still grappling with the dilemma of establishing military power and striking a midpoint with democracy. Most Southeast Asian countries have experienced authoritarian rule at one point or the other in their history. This has usually been coupled with military dominance. More often than not, military dominance has prevailed in Southeast Asia and still continues to dominate present regimes, at least in the case of Burma (Fink, 2001). The road to independence from military dominance is however not easy, with countries such as Indonesia and Thailand having military dominance as pre-cursors to their government composition. Nonetheless, this study identifies that military dominance does not have any place in the future and arises out of affiliation or non-affiliation to democratic states, monopoly of funding and educational differences coupled with class stratification.

Affiliation or Non-affiliation to Democratic Regimes

It is quite obvious that international influence affects systems of governments around the world. For example, Western nations have been on the forefront in supporting democratic governments around the globe. The opposite is also true whereby non-affiliation to existing democracies may be a gateway through which authoritarian or dictatorship regimes are founded. For this reason, military dominance has found its way into Southeast Asia because countries affiliate to other military states. This therefore creates some sort of peer group whereby such states perpetrate this type of rule. Philippines is a good example of a state that avoided military rule because of its affiliation to the US while countries such as Burma and Thailand have influenced each other into military rule because of their limited affiliations to democratic states (Dog, 2010).

Military Funding

When states separate military funding from other government agencies, military rule can be easily witnessed because the military will have autonomy from the state. This leads to an all-powerful military which has the ability of running a state independently. This has been a means through which some countries in Southeast Asia have witnessed military rule. For instance, Thailand came under military rule because its military had its own funding which empowered it to act independently from existing bureaucratic systems (Dog, 2010).  

Education and Class Stratification

Indonesia is a good example of a country that directly came under military regime because of class stratifications and educational differences. The indigenous inhabitants of the country who were very collaborative with the Dutch and the Ambonese were in a position to occupy bureaucratic positions that existed in the country, thereby enabling them to be economically powerful. This group therefore formed an educated elite class that maintained legitimacy when the Dutch left the country, thereby ascending to power by controlling the military (Dog, 2010).


With the world slowly embracing democratic rule and international organizations such as United Nations (UN) at the forefront of this initiative, there is little chance that military dominance will prevail for long. As more and more people are being educated in Southeast Asia, this type of rule is slowly being condemned and its supporters slowly diminishing. It is important that education is entrenched in this part of the world to sensitize people against this type of leadership because it has been internationally proved that it can never uphold democracy. From this study, it is evident that military dominance finds its authenticity from educational differences and social stratification, autonomous funding of the military and non affiliation to democratic states, and quite evidently, military dominance has no place in the future.

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