Defect or Defend: Military Responses to Popular Protests in Authoritarian Asia

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Sana Jaffrey, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde 172 (2016): 575 - 77 

".... The book's arguments are presented clearly, and historical evidence used to support the main conclusions demonstrates the author's impressive command of four diverse cases. 

Defect or Defend makes several critical contributions to the literature on political transitions. In a marked departure from dominant theories that claim personalistic regimes are least vulnerable to infighting, Lee claims that the exercise of discretionary power by a personalist dictator fosters more factionalism within the armed forces. Furthermore, the argument engages a growing body of scholarship that focuses on the divergence of elite interests to explain regime transitions. While existing literature mostly assumes that the military will do the political elites' bidding, evidence presented in the book proves that this is not always the case. Although it primarily draws on evidence from cases in Asia, the book's theoretical insights will be of interest to scholars who study authoritarianism and democratization in other parts of the world."

About the Publication

Although social movements and media can destabilize authoritarian governments, not all social protest is effective or culminates in the toppling of dictatorships. Frequently, the military's response determines the outcome.Terence Lee uses four case studies from Asia to provide insight into the military's role during the transitional phase of regime change. Lee compares popular uprisings in the Philippines and Indonesia -- both of which successfully engaged military support to bring down authoritarian rule -- with protest movements in China and Burma which were violently suppressed by military forces. Lee's theory of "high personalism" and power-sharing among the armed forces leadership provides a framework for understanding the critical transitory phases of democratization.

Co-publication: Johns Hopkins University Press/ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute

Co-published by ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute for distribution in Asia


Defect or Defend: Military Responses to Popular Protests in Authoritarian Asia [Whole Publication], by Terence Lee, author
Preliminary pages
1. The Military and People Power Revolts
2. Authoritarian Institutions: Power Sharing, Personalism, and Military Defection
3. Personalism in the Philippines: The Fall of Marcos (1986)
4. Personalism in Indonesia: The Fall of Suharto (1998)
5. Power-sharing Authoritarianism in China and Burma
6. Thinking Comparatively: The Military and People Power Revolts

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