Negotiating and Consolidating Democratic Civilian Control of the Indonesian Military


Dewi Fortuna Anwar

East-West Center Occasional Papers, Politics and Security Series, No. 4


Honolulu: East-West Center

Publication Date: February 2001
Binding: paper
Pages: 44
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The democratization process in Indonesia has begun in earnest and has led to the formation of a democratically elected government supported by a genuinely open and pluralistic political system. Nonetheless, it is generally acknowledged that consolidating democracy will be a slow and painful process. Of the many challenges faced by the new Indonesia, the most difficult will surely be the reformation of the military from a long-term social-political force into a truly professional defense force under democratic civilian control. In this paper the author puts forward 10 steps that need to be taken to negotiate and consolidate democratic civilian control of the military, to ensure that the military is no longer used to prop up authoritarian regimes, and to transform the Indonesian military into a truly professional defense force.

This paper is divided into six main parts. The first part provides a brief history of the expansion of the role of the Indonesian military and its relationship with successive governments from independence to the establishment of Soeharto’s New Order. The second part looks at the military’s political dominance and economic activities under the New Order. The third examines the various steps and advances that have been made toward ending the military’s social-political role and special privileges. The fourth part outlines the many obstacles and challenges to imposing democratic civilian control over the military. The fifth provides policy recommendations and outlines practical measures that can be taken to consolidate democratic civilian control, including the possible role of the international community. The final part presents conclusions regarding the prospects for Indonesia’s democratic consolidation, and the efforts to end military intervention in politics once and for all.