The Military and Democracy in Indonesia: Challenges, Politics, and Power


The military is one of the few institutions that cut across the divides of Indonesian society. As it continues to play a critical part in determining Indonesia's future, the military itself is undergoing profound change. The authors of this book examine the role of the military in politics and society since the fall of President Suharto in 1998. They present several strategic scenarios for Indonesia, which have important implications for U.S.-Indonesian relations, and propose goals for Indonesian military reform ...

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The military is one of the few institutions that cut across the divides of Indonesian society. As it continues to play a critical part in determining Indonesia's future, the military itself is undergoing profound change. The authors of this book examine the role of the military in politics and society since the fall of President Suharto in 1998. They present several strategic scenarios for Indonesia, which have important implications for U.S.-Indonesian relations, and propose goals for Indonesian military reform and elements of a U.S. engagement policy.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780833032195
  • Publisher: Rand Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/1/2002
  • Pages: 170
  • Lexile: 1560L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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The Military and Democracy in Indonesia

Challenges, Politics and Power
By Angel Rabasa John Haseman

Rand Corporation

Copyright © 2003 Rand Corporation
All right reserved.

Chapter One


Indonesia has been described as the least known of the world's most important countries. Its importance derives from well-known geopolitical factors. It is the world's fourth most populous country and the largest Muslim-majority country, with a population and a land mass almost as large as those of the rest of Southeast Asia combined, vast natural resources and economic potential, and a strategic location straddling critical sea lanes and straits-all of which makes it the key to Southeast Asia's security. A stable, strong, and democratic Indonesia could resume its leadership role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), further regional integration based on democratic principles, contribute to maintaining regional stability, and deter potential Chinese adventurism. Conversely, an unstable or disintegrating Indonesia would make the regional security environment more unpredictable and dangerous, create opportunities for forces seeking to subvert the regional status quo, and generate large-scale humanitarian demands on the international community.

Beyond that, the outcome of Indonesia's democratic experiment could have a major impact in shaping the political evolution of Asia and of the larger Muslim world. If Indonesia's democratic transition holds, it will be the world'sthird-largest democracy as well as the largest secular democracy in the Muslim world. This transition could have enormously important global consequences. The future of Islam, some argue, will not be decided in its Arab heartland with its authoritarian and intolerant models of governance, but in countries such as Indonesia, where Islam has not jelled into a fundamentalist mold and where democracy remains an attainable prospect.

This not to suggest that the road to democracy and stability in Indonesia will be a smooth one. From the accession of B. J. Habibie to the presidency, after Suharto's 32-year rule ended with his resignation in May 1998, to President Abdurrahman Wahid's removal by the People's Consultative Assembly in July 2001, the country's transition to democracy has been upset by power struggles, riots, terrorist attacks, and ethnically targeted massacres. Megawati Sukarnoputri's succession to the presidency defused the political crisis that preceded President Wahid's removal from power. Nevertheless, the obstacles to democratic consolidation in Indonesia remain formidable. The economic recovery, such as it is, remains fragile and vulnerable to internal and external shocks. At the same time, Indonesia continues to be wracked by localized ethnic and religious conflict and faces serious threats to its unity and territorial integrity.

These challenges to Indonesia's stability were compounded by the September 11 attacks on the United States and their global consequences. In the aftermath of the attacks, the U.S. agenda in Southeast Asia and elsewhere changed in a fundamental way. Before September 11, terrorism in Southeast Asia was a concern, but not a dominant U.S. priority, and the threat of radical Islam was also not fully recognized. September 11 changed that. Now, Southeast Asia is regarded as a major battlefield in the war on terrorism, and terrorist groups are no longer seen as local threats, but as part of larger and more dangerous regional and global networks.

President Megawati was the first leader of a major Muslim country to visit Washington, D.C., after September 11 and express support for the war on terrorism. However, the war on terrorism altered the political environment in Indonesia and in some ways increased the vulnerability of her government. The key factor in her government's survival and possibly in the future of Indonesia as a secular and democratic state may be how well the Indonesian political, religious, and military establishments handle the resurgence of militant Islam.

An open confrontation with radical Islamic militants could destabilize the Indonesian government as it goes into the 2004 presidential election, but a passive stance could be interpreted as a sign of weakness and could be equally destabilizing.

These dynamics create tension in U.S. policy toward Indonesia. Indonesia's full cooperation in the global war on terrorism is important to U.S. interests, but if Jakarta presses too hard on the issue of the war on terrorism, those actions could prove to be counterproductive to maintaining political stability in Indonesia. In the long term, Indonesia's continued stability and the survival of its secular democratic government are of overriding interest.

Whatever course the Jakarta government, the political parties, and other actors in the Indonesian drama take, the military will play a key role in charting that course. As an institution, the military remained neutral in the events that led to the fall of Suharto, the Habibie interregnum, and the election of Abdurrahman Wahid, and supported Megawati's accession to the presidency. The Indonesian National Military (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, or TNI), however, is not ideologically neutral. It views itself as the repository of the values embodied in the nation's secular ideology, Pancasila, and as the guardian of its unity and territorial integrity. For all of its faults, the Indonesian military throughout its history has been representative of all of the different ethnic and religious components of the Indonesian nation.

The military has always been distrustful of political Islam-partially as the result of its experience in fighting Islamist revolts in the late 1940s and 1950s and because the military regards political Islam as a threat to its vision of a unified multicultural Indonesia. However, the military is not immune to the trends that influence the larger society. A widening of the ethno-religious divides in Indonesian society will affect military cohesion as well. How the military responds to the challenges of upholding democracy, secularism, and unity and to the stresses of change within its own institution, and how the United States can help Indonesia deal positively with these challenges, constitute the themes of this report.

This report is divided into three parts:

Part I (Chapters Two through Seven) discusses the origins and institutional development of the Indonesian armed forces from the country's independence to the present day. Chapters Two through Four discuss force structure, doctrine, and the intelligence function. Chapter Five deals with the changing political role of the military. This chapter will be of interest to political analysts and students of broader political trends in Indonesia. Chapter Six is a look at the TNI from within; it covers officer recruitment, career patterns, military education and training, promotions, ethnicity, religion, and military cohesion. This chapter seeks to answer the key analytical question of whether there are cracks in the solid front that the military attempts to convey that might destabilize the institution. Chapter Seven discusses the obscure but important area of the military's funding and economic interests.

Part II (Chapters Eight through Ten) analyzes the security challenges confronting Indonesia and the Indonesian government and military's response to these challenges. Chapter Eight looks at the threat of terrorism and religious extremism. Chapter Nine deals with the communal violence in central and eastern Indonesia and the role of "jihadist" organizations in this conflict. Chapter Ten deals with what is perhaps of greatest concern to the authorities in Jakarta-the secessionist movements in Aceh and Papua.

Part III (Chapters Eleven through Thirteen) is devoted to the issue of the U.S.-Indonesian bilateral military relationship. Chapter Eleven provides a history and assessment of, as the chapter's title says, the "rocky course" of U.S.-Indonesian military relations. It describes the congressional restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia over the past decade and analyzes the effects of the restriction on U.S. influence and access to the Indonesian military and on Indonesian military professionalism. Chapter Twelve outlines various possible future Indonesian scenarios-from democratic consolidation to radical Islamic influence or control, or territorial disintegration -and their implications for U.S. interests and regional security. Chapter Thirteen concludes the report with a series of goals for Indonesian military reform and elements of a U.S. strategy of engagement with Indonesia. The appendix provides an assessment of the progress that Indonesia has made in meeting the requirements of the Leahy amendment, the provision in the U.S. appropriations legislation that blocks some kinds of U.S. military assistance to Indonesia.


Excerpted from The Military and Democracy in Indonesia by Angel Rabasa John Haseman Copyright © 2003 by Rand Corporation . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

Acronyms and Definitions
Ch. 1 Introduction 1
Pt. I The TNI
Ch. 2 Origins and Institutional Development of the Armed Forces 7
Ch. 3 Doctrinal Change: From "Total People's Defense and Security" to the "New Paradigm" 25
Ch. 4 Changes in the Intelligence Function 31
Ch. 5 The Changing Political Role of the Military 35
Ch. 6 Inside the TNI: Career Patterns, Factionalism, and Military Cohesion 53
Ch. 7 The Military's Funding and Economic Interests 69
Pt. II Security Challenges
Ch. 8 The Challenge of Terrorism and Religious Extremism 81
Ch. 9 Communal Conflict in Eastern and Central Indonesia 91
Ch. 10 Separatist Movements in Aceh and Papua 99
Pt. III The Future of U.S.-Indonesian Military Relations
Ch. 11 The Rocky Course of U.S.-Indonesian Military Relations 113
Ch. 12 Strategic Scenarios for Indonesia and their Implications 121
Ch. 13 Goals for Indonesian Military Reform and Elements of a U.S. Engagement Strategy 131
App Can Indonesia Meet the Leahy Amendment Conditions? 139
Bibliography 143
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