Making Enemies: War and State Building in Burma

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Cornell University Press, 2005 - 268 ˹

The Burmese army took political power in Burma in 1962 and has ruled the country ever since. The persistence of this government--even in the face of long-term nonviolent opposition led by activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991--has puzzled scholars. In a book relevant to current debates about democratization, Mary P. Callahan seeks to explain the extraordinary durability of the Burmese military regime. In her view, the origins of army rule are to be found in the relationship between war and state formation.

Burma's colonial past had seen a large imbalance between the military and civil sectors. That imbalance was accentuated soon after formal independence by one of the earliest and most persistent covert Cold War conflicts, involving CIA-funded Kuomintang incursions across the Burmese border into the People's Republic of China. Because this raised concerns in Rangoon about the possibility of a showdown with Communist China, the Burmese Army received even more autonomy and funding to protect the integrity of the new nation-state.

The military transformed itself during the late 1940s and the 1950s from a group of anticolonial guerrilla bands into the professional force that seized power in 1962. The army edged out all other state and social institutions in the competition for national power. Making Enemies draws upon Callahan's interviews with former military officers and her archival work in Burmese libraries and halls of power. Callahan's unparalleled access allows her to correct existing explanations of Burmese authoritarianism and to supply new information about the coups of 1958 and 1962.

 

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Coercion and the Colonial State 18261941
21
Ethnic Composition of the Armed Forces in Burma 1931
36
Regulars of the Burma Army 1938
41
Ethnic Composition of the Armed Forces in Burma 1941
42
The Japanese Occupation 194143
43
Resistance and the United Front 194345
71
Making Peace and Making Armies 194548
87
Insurgency and State Disintegration 194850
114
Warfare and Army Building 195053
145
KMT Troop Buildup in Burma
155
Warriors as State Builders 195362
172
Tatmadaw Infantry Commands before and after the 1961 Purge
201
Epilogue
207
Notes
229
vii
259
Index
261

Land Revenue Collections in Burma
117
Tatmadaw Personnel Losses as of March 19 1949
138

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Mary P. Callahan is Associate Professor and Director of the International Studies Program at the Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington.

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