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.

--Pankaj Mishra, New York Review of Books, February 14, 2008

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Burma
4
Burmas Ethnic Groups
15
Coercion and the Colonial State 18261941
21
British Colonial Rule in Burma
28
The Japanese Occupation 194143
43
Burma Defence Army Command Areas 1944
68
Resistance and the United Front 194345
71
Making Peace and Making Armies 194548
87
Rebel Control over Burmese Territory FebruaryApril 1949
136
Warfare and Army Building 195053
145
Territory Held by KMT and Other Rebel Groups 1953
157
Warriors as State Builders 195362
172
Epilogue
207
Tatmadaw Regional Commands as of 2001
213
Notes
229
Index
261

Insurgency and State Disintegration 194850
114

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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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