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Military dictators ruled Latin America and other parts of the world such as Africa AND Middle East before the 21st century. However, some parts of Latin America are still ruled by military Juntas (a committee consisting of military generals). One major reason that inspired this form of governance is the fact that the armed forces had more cohesion and a good structure as opposed to many civil institutions.
In many cases, military dictatorships are established through coup d’états, whereby a civilian government is overthrown by the military. Military Juntas justify their actions as one way of restoring political stability, especially when the state faces economic and social hardships.
Karen Remmer is one of the scholars that have written extensive to express their views regarding the actions of military rule. This paper describes her views and goes a notch higher to analyze her main points in the book. The paper gives a conclusion whereby a SWOT analysis is performed on her views.
Synopsis of the Book
The author wrote the book at the time when the international system was bi-polar in nature. In many parts of the world, tension, conflicts, mistrust, and brutality were the order of the day. In Latin America, the US was keen to ensure that communism did not spread to other states other than Cuba. In this case, the two superpowers tried as much as possible to convince the Latin American states adopt their policies. Due to this fact, scholars interpreted the genesis of military rule differently.
Remmer (1991) questions these interpretations. He book is divided into two major parts. The first part talks about the broad overview of the state of affairs in the Latin America. In this part, she questions the credibility of the claims that military rule can only be understood by analyzing their origins. In this case, she tries to challenge the various interpretations offered by scholars of political science as regards to military rule in Latin America.
In her part, military regimes come about due to weakness in government. Usually, government institutions are too weak in developing countries, which give room to the emergence of military rule. Some leaders might be elected democratically but they take advantage of weak institutions to unleash terror to innocent citizens.
Citizens are therefore subjected to repressive laws, which affect their socio-economic lives. In this case, citizens are denied their civil liberties, which, according many scholars, are inseparable from an individual. Military rulers take advantage of weak institutions such as the police and the courts to fulfill their interests.
The police force for instance was used to silence any form of opposition in Chile. To silence the public, the military Juntas, according to Remmer (1991), employ some tactics. One of the tactics is that they make the state ungovernable. Those considered enemies of the state are forced to operate outside the state boundaries.
The author gives an example of Chile under Pinochet regime. Military Juntas may also invite hostilities from other states so that local tension and resistance is diverted.
In her view, military regimes are unnecessarily aggressive, meaning that they can easily take a state to war without the consulting the public. Furthermore, the regimes espousing military tactics usually spend many resources in rearmament processes. Resources means meant for development are channeled to military reconstruction, which leaves the state in a devastated condition.
Undertake section of military rule explanation, the scholar also analyzes the roles of various state actors. In a state, many actors come together to formulate policies. Both domestic and foreign policies are carefully negotiated in order to achieve greatness for the state. In the military rule, the executive arm of government controls everything, including the bureaucracy.
In this respect, lethargy is likely to prevail since leaders tend to be negative towards bureaucracy. Institutions such as the legislature and judiciary are used for rubber-stamping important policies. Never are they involved in serious discussions during policy formulation.
In the second part, she gives a detailed case study of Chile, whereby the Pinochet regime exercised military rule. Chile was under military rule from 1973 when Pinochet took over power to 1990 when he was forced by the international community to quit. During Pinochet regime, political opposition was prohibited and those found guilty were sentenced to death or life imprisonment. In fact, the scholar terms Chile as a police state under Pinochet.
The military ruler ensured that people observed hi laws and that any opposition against his laws would amount to serious consequences, including death. During his regime, crime rates increased, illegal trade was popular and assassinations were the order of the day. Even after losing power in 1988 through a referendum, the government continued to exercise power.
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In the conclusion section, the scholar outlines some of the challenges that would be experienced by leaders as they attempted to change from autocratic to democratic regimes. For instance, she doubts whether her works would help leaders in any way since they were too scholarly. In her conclusion, democracy was the only way to go in case sustainable development was to be realized.
Analysis of the Book
The book talks about many things, among them the definition of military rule, effects of military rule and the major causes of military rule. The scholar succeeds in outlining the major causes of military rule in many parts of the world. She also succeeds in giving the respondent the state of affairs in military regimes that is, institutional structure and relationships between various organs of government. However, she does not talk about the external environment.
In analyzing public and international policy, it is always prudent to consider the global environment. Military rulers existed because the international climate gave them room. In this decade, it is very difficult to exercise military rule due to globalization, which has reduced distances. Even in late 1980s and early 1990s, the international system was different.
Pinochet was able to harass members of the public mainly because the international system was bi-polar, meaning that the US supported his actions. In case the US condemned his actions, he would have embraced communism, where he could have supported to keep away any form of opposition.
After the Cold War, leaders were held responsible for their actions, whereby they were supposed to open up the society by embracing liberalism. Many leaders could not cope with hence forcing them to quit power. To show how the international system is important, leaders ensured that the international law is amended to cater for their interests. The scholar does not talk about the importance of the foreign actors. Amnesty was extended to retiring leaders to ensure that they continued living peacefully.
Therefore, it can be concluded that variables at the international level such as anarchy, polarity and the status of the international law affect the behavior of states in the international system. Military rulers were able to suppress and oppress members of the public since there was no clear law. Furthermore, polarity affected the behavior of leaders. Currently, power cannot be coercive since there is a strong law that governs states internationally. The ICC has been keen on ensuring that justice prevails.
Remmer, K. (1991). Military Rule in Latin America. New York: Westview.