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Tertara National Indonesia: a Vehicle for Political Stability or Political Decay

Tertara National Indonesia: a Vehicle for Political Stability or Political Decay

The theories or concepts formulated by Samuel Huntington and Takashi Shiraishi would provide the framework for this study. The military is the coercive arm of the state for defense and internal security. Without the military, the state can hardly survive. Politics dictates that the military, as the instrument of the state, should be subordinate to the government. However, the arm sometimes commands the head, and this has been the case in Indonesia.

According to Huntington, the military that becomes the master of state is commonly called praetorian, and different from that which remains under civilian control. Praetorianism is characterized by the armed forces being politicized just as politics being militarized. “The officer corps is shot through with factionalism. Lawmakers and administrators fall into disarray. Politicians seek power not by rallying popular support but by cultivating party connections. The populace at length withdraws into a sudden apathy, an utter cynicism towards the political process.” The country turns into a praetorian state. Takashi’s point of reference is the concept of professionalism first formulated by Huntington. According to Huntington, modern military officers are supposed to be professional managers of force and violence.

Huntington’s thesis in formulating the concept of professionalism is that maximization of military professionalism neutralizes the military politically and thus minimizes the propensity of the military to intervene directly in politics. For Takashi, the military becomes praetorian because it is not professional. He argued that the fallacy in Huntington’s thesis lies in the formulation of the concept of military professionalism. Huntington assumes that (Expertise, Social responsibility and Corporateness) go together. Thus, the military that is irresponsible is by definition not professional even if the level of expertise achieved by the officers is sufficiently high. As a result, Huntington’s proposition that maximization of military professionalism minimizes the propensity of the military to intervene directly in politics turns out to be the normative proposition that the military should remain politically neutral and not intervene in politics in order to maintain its professionalism. But Takashi is not saying that the concept of professionalism itself is useless. In fact, three dimensions of military professionalism provide a clue to understanding politics in the military and military politics.

The legitimacy of civilian political institutions leads to the external factors that condition the political roles of the military. These are the level of legitimacy that civilian political institutions enjoy and the level of mobilization of social forces in the political process. “If the level of civilian political institutions is high relative to the mobilization of social forces, the situation is civic in Huntington’s terminology, and the political order is legitimate and stable. Here, the military is less likely to intervene directly in politics unless outsiders infringe on its corporate affairs. But if the level of legitimacy of civilian political institutions is low while the level of mobilization of social forces is high, the political order is essentially unstable, and the situation is praetorian”. In this case the military is forced to decide for their client.

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