The military’s prerogative

defectDefect or Defend: Military Responses to Popular Protests in Authoritarian Asia is a book published in 2015 and authored by Terence Lee. It is reviewed at the JCA publisher’s website (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1245355) by Hipolitus Yolisandry Ringgi Wangge.

With the resurgence of authoritarianism in Asia, civil-military relations in developing countries are back on the research agenda.

The reviewer states ” the region displays a divergent political landscape, and one has to look at the role of prominent actors who define the trajectory of democratization and the terrain of authoritarianism, including the still significant role of the military.”

In this book, Lee discusses the role of the military as a coercive actor and as a political actor, looking especially at transitions from authoritarianism to democracy. “By illuminating the interplay between institutions and actors, Lee argues that the character of autocratic regimes can determine people’s actions, particularly those of the military in response to popular mobilisation; these military actions in turn pave the way to either democratisation or maintenance of the authoritarian regime. On the one hand, an authoritarian regime will be defended against popular protests if the autocratic leader shares power among elites, including the military.”

This book “provides considerable insight into how to study the dynamics within
the authoritarian regime in response to popular uprisings.”

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