Military Business

In a new review for the journal, editor Kevin Hewison looks at a new NIAS Press collection, Khaki Capital. The Political Economy of the Military in Southeast Asia.

Editors Paul Chambers and Napisa Waitoolkiat are also JCA authors, writing on “The Resilience of Monarchised Military in Thailand,” in 2016.

Hewison welcomes this book as a useful addition to a relatively thin literature on the military in contemporary Southeast Asia. Khaki Capital has a chapter on the theory of the political economy of security and seven country-focused case studies on Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines and Indonesia.

On the commonalities across several chapters, the reviewer notes the internal focus of these militaries and the implied and real threats “military leaderships pose for elected or reforming regimes.” Hewison concludes:

Military leaders feel far more comfortable with authoritarian regimes than with democratic governments. That the military leaders in the region tend to promote regression, corruption and repression is unlikely to surprise anyone. Yet, showing the material basis of these positions, as in this collection, is a helpful reminder of why the region remains defined by oligarchs, plutocrats and khaki-clad authoritarians

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