Thursday, December 30, 2010

Book Review - Making Enemies: War and State Building in Burma

Making Enemies: War and State Building in Burma
Mary P. Callahan
Ithaca, NY / Cornell University Press / 2004
Singapore / Singapore University Press / 2004

By Glenda Gloria

Why would anyone, in this age of terror and unfettered global trade, take a keen interest in the politics of Burma (or Myanmar, as the junta has renamed the country)?

Even among neighbors, Burma is neither here nor there, having one foot in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the other buried in a turbulent history of military rule. To the rest of the world, Burma is simply one of those troubled nations that’s stuck at the bottom and might remain there till kingdom come. But these are precisely the reasons why Burma is a paradox. The country is ruled by a military regime whose political power is comparable to none. At the risk of isolation in a region that has seen the rise and fall of military rule, its junta is resilient, its low threshold for dissent lasting from the colonial period to this day.

And there’s more, which makes Mary P. Callahan’s Making Enemies: War and State Building in Burma a must-read for any student of war and politics. A professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, Callahan combines exhaustive academic research with critical thinking and hard-nosed reporting to produce a compelling study of the Burmese military.

Theoreticians of military power have studied the institution from the vantage point of the military’s structure, discipline, access to arms, and dealings with society. Samuel Huntington, in his 1957 Soldier and the State, raised the possibility of an apolitical, neutral armed forces composed of a professional soldier corps. In contrast, Morris Janowitz, in Military Institutions and Coercion in the Developing Nations: The Military in the Political Development of New Nations (1977), insisted that the military, by its very nature, is always politically involved.

The Burmese army follows neither the Huntington nor Janowitz model. Created as early as the colonial period to quell dissent, it found itself both fighting wars and building a state. Callahan says this is crucial in understanding the hard-line army of today; these war fighters saw little value in negotiating with their own people when they could simply scare them. If it proves effective in war, why not apply it in peace?

On this point, Callahan explains, the Burmese experience parallels that of the Indonesian military, which fought a protracted, brutal war for national independence, followed by campaigns against regional separatist and communist insurgents. These wars empowered Indonesian military officers, who eventually found themselves managing the state. But what about the Philippines, whose military has also battled both communists and secessionists? Despite its many years in the battlefield, the Philippine military has been unsuccessful in grabbing political power beyond acting as broker in civilian leadership transitions.

Callahan makes a convincing argument as to why a junta has little appeal in the Philippine political landscape. Unlike Burma or Indonesia, Callahan says, the Philippine state has used the carrot-and-stick approach toward insurgent movements. The state always flirts with peacefully ending a conflict through negotiations, bribery, or simply cooptation through government appointments and contracts. Callahan’s thesis gives one a fuller understanding of why, when Ferdinand Marcos abandoned this approach and installed a dictatorship, the result was an adventurist army faction that later plotted a coup leading to his ouster in 1986.

Says Callahan: “In Indonesia and Burma… states experimented with accommodationist strategies but never really budged from the purely military approach. The pursuit of this military strategy led to the development of powerful centralizing militaries and the concurrent withering of civil services and political parties that provided direct channels of input from the populace. Moreover, in both countries, it was the armies – not civilian bureaucracies – that experimented with political counterinsurgency strategies… to co-opt internal populations that otherwise might support insurgents” (205).

The book does not dwell on personalities in the Burmese army, compared, for example, to Closer than Brothers, Alfred W. McCoy’s groundbreaking work on the Philippine military, which studied Philippine Military Academy cohorts and scathingly profiled some personalities in the Philippine military rebel movement. Sparing her readers the gossipy stuff, Callahan still draws a fascinating picture of the fierce rivalry between Burmese field commanders and staff officers, citing events that led to coups and counter-coups within the junta. She relates this with the cold precision of an observer, and woe to the reader who is looking for a human face or anecdotes about the military psyche. These elements could have helped popularize the book.

Callahan concludes by debunking all the myths of invincibility the Burmese military has created. In contrast to the image it projects to the world, the junta is basically held hostage by powerful regional commanders, rests on a divided military organization, and relies on officers with no combat experience and troops who act more like hoodlums than peacekeepers. This is why there is political deadlock in Burma, Callahan says – not so much because the junta remains strong, but because it has been weakened by the times, despite its success in constraining activist Aung San Suu Kyi. Callahan makes no bones about it – the future looks bleak for Burma.
Glenda Gloria is managing editor of Newsbreak (Manila)

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Anonymous said...

Burmese Politician Myoma U Than Kywe (Pinlong Agreement)

* He was born Thonn Gya Township in Rangoon 1924.He was a sacrificed politician of Burma Independence. It was during the Second World War that Myoma U Than Kywe ’s life as a high minded politician started.

* An educated from the Rangoon University

* Became a “Thakin” (Lord or Master –a politically motivated title that proclaimed that the Burmese people were the true masters of their country ,not the colonial rulers who had usurped the title for their exclusive use) when he joined the Do bama Asiayone (Our Burma Union) ,and acted as their member.

* A colleague of National Leader General Aung San.

* A colleague of first prime minister U Nu and U Ba Swe.

* Became a leader to the pinlong (Panglong) conference negotiated with General Aung San and other top leaders in 1947.All these leaders decided to join together to form the Union of Burma. Union day celebration is one of the greatest in the history of Burma. General Aung San was a father of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. She is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Leader of the Burmese Opposition, the National League for Democracy.

* Became School Master of the Asia Youth Asiayone (1942-1945)

* Elected President of the All Burma Students Union, vice president of the All Burma students Union,Vice President of the Rangoon University Students Union, President of the All Rangoon Students Union and President of the Rangoon Myoma National High School Students Union from 1946 to 1948.

* Elected to above positions by the Unanimous votes of his colleagues and all students in Burma.

* Became C.E.C member and General Secretary of the State Economic and Trade Council (1948-1963)

* Became Junior Leader of Burma Independence Army and member and C.E.C member of Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League and (1942-1963)

* Elected councillor of the Rangoon Municipal Council (since 1953).

* Became an executive member of the Governing council of the Rangoon Myoma National High School (1948-1964)

* When he died at the age of 59, on 22nd Sep 1983, he left wife Daw Myint Myint Win (a) Daw Ahmar and daughter Daw Khin Mar Kywe, son U Htay Kywe, daughter Daw Mya Mya Than and son Myoma Myint Kywe.

* He and his brothers U Maung Maung, Thakin Thein Tun, U Myo Myint and U Myo Thant were already well known in the Burmese resistance movement post second world war.

Written by-Myoma Myint Kywe

Anonymous said...

It was Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, National Leader General Aung San, who as the head of Burma’s interim government in 1947 brought together Shan, Chin and Kachin leaders to discuss autonomy, but then as part of a wider push for independence from British rule. U Aung Zan Wai, U Pe Khin, Major Aung, Sir Maung Gyi and Dr. Sein Mya Maung and Myoma U Than Kywe…..etc were most important negotiators and leaders of the historical pinlon (panglong) Conference negotiated with Burma national top leader General Aung San and other top leaders in 1947.All these leaders decided to join together to form the Union of Burma. Union day celebration is one of the greatest in the history of Burma.

Anonymous said...

Writer And Historian Myoma Myint Kywe

Writer Myoma Myint Kywe's own name is U Myint Kywe. He was born on Thursday, the 14th of April 1960 in Yangon, parents: Myoma U Than Kywe and Daw Ahmar (a) Daw Myint Myint Win.
"Myoma Sayagyi U Ba Lwin (or) Beginner of National Education" and "Special Remarkable Notes of Myanmar Culture and Notes on Youth Affairs" are the famous and the bestsellers of his books.
He was awarded;
(1) Japanese Karate Kumite Champion and First prize for 1978 in Rangoon (Yangon)
(2) Asia Buddhist Literature Prize for 1989 in Singapore
(3) National Manuscript (Belles-Letters) First Prize for 2003 in Burma (Myanmar)
(4) Myanmar Culture and Fine Arts Literature Prize for 2005 in Burma (Myanmar) etc.,

He and his family dislike and against to "ISM" only,never attack to the people personally. He and his family never took part in any violation with crime. He and his ancestors like and obey by Mahatma Gandhi's peaceful philosophy of non violence.
As a descendant of a prominent political family, He was automatically disliked by the Burma military authorities.
His e-mail is

Category:Burmese historians

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pages in category "Burmese historians"

The following 7 pages are in this category, out of 7 total. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).

* Htin Aung


* Thant Myint-U
* Myoma Myint Kywe


* San C. Po


* Sao Saimong
* Ba Shin


* Than Tun

Retrieved from ""
Categories: Historians by nationality | Burmese writers

Pages in category "Burmese writers"

The following 34 pages are in this category, out of 34 total. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).

* Ludu Daw Amar


* Richard Bartholomew


* Chit Maung


* Taw Phayar Galay


* Ludu U Hla
* Thakin Kodaw Hmaing
* Minfong Ho
* Htin Aung


* Khin Khin Htoo
* Dagon Khin Khin Lay
* Khin Myo Chit
* Pascal Khoo Thwe

K cont.

* U Pho Kyar
* James Hla Kyaw


* Journal Kyaw Ma Ma Lay
* Theippan Maung Wa
* Mg Khin Min (Danuphyu)
* Mya Than Tint
* Myoma Myint Kywe


* U Ottama


* P Moe Nin
* Pe Maung Tin
* Tekkatho Phone Naing


* San San Nweh

S cont.

* Saw Wai
* Aung San Suu Kyi


* Thein Pe Myint
* Hmawbi Saya Thein
* Thukha
* Tin Moe


* Culture of Burma
* Min Thu Wun


* Khin Hnin Yu


* Saya Zawgyi

Retrieved from ""
Categories: Burmese literature | Burmese people by occupation | Writers by nationality | Asian writers

Anonymous said...

About our pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma

From bottom to top we have been taught by many democracy leaders in Burma. Among them, there is one leader whom we admire a lot. She teaches us about pure democracy and human rights. She is lovingly called "Ma Ma Suu" (or) "Daw Suu" (or) "Aunt Suu" by her colleagues and all Burmese although her real given name is Aung San Suu Kyi. "Daw" is not part of her given name but is a honorific, similar to Madam, for revered women.

Our pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is about 65 years old and very experienced leader. She was born in Rangoon, 19th. June.1945. She was the youngest daughter of General Aung San and Burmese ambassador Daw Khin Kyi, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi follow the foot prints of her father emerged as a central top figure of the pro-democracy movement in Burma. Active in politics since 1988. Her father General Aung San, founded the modern Burmese army and negotiated Burma's independence from the British Empire in 1947.

She has a fair complexion and a cheerful smiling face. She dresses herself simply with neatly and yet she looks graceful. She is a good-nature, patient and helpful. I have never seen her to be angry. She is not selfish at all. She is worthy of praise. She speaks softly and explains clearly and systematically. She helps us to more understand about democracy with how to do, how to study, how to obey in Burma correctly and honestly. Because of her teachings, we become more interested in our human rights.

She guides us how to do, how to study, how to struggle, how to escape about pure democracy exercises and how to obey human rights. She is a top pioneer and organizer about pure democracy in Burma. She was a good speaker of great power and eloquence. We all love and respect Daw Aung San Suu Kyi because we know that she is trying to help us as much as she can for everyone in Burma. She was endowed with a quick wit.

She is our democracy leader

"Always kindly words she'll say
To the Burmese everyday
Let us help her every way
She help us to do the right
In our leader's sight
We love her with all our might"

Everyone in Burma bitterly opposed dictatorship. People mourned the loss of democracy and individual freedoms since 2nd.Mar.1962 in Burma to until today. Burma junta used his new powers to crush his opponents and consolidate his rule. Burma junta discarded constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, right, assembly, religion and press media, etc.

We always dislike about Burma military junta's dictatorship, hypocrisy, bureaucracy and licensed to kill lawlessly. We dislike to every policy makers and Burmese military leader based on dictatorship in Burma. Then we always do not like their worst actions, oppress to people, trick to people, persecute to people, victim of torture, inhumanity, abuse human rights and imitative action. Especially they did about wicked action, unfair, injustice and trickily election 2010 in Burma. We hate and against to"ISM" only, not the people personally. But we don't like take part in any violation with crime.

If there's anythings we can do for you and Burma, please do not hesitate to tell us.
As time is precious, we must make use of our time beneficially.

Burmese politician Myoma U Than Kywe(1924-1983) said:

· Love is better than fighting
· Tolerance is better than fighting
· Friendship is better than fighting
· Forgiveness is better than fighting
· Smile is better than fighting
· Humility is better than fighting
· Peace is better than fighting
· Kindness is better than fighting
. Compromise is better than fighting
. Negotiate is better than fighting
. Boycott is better than fighting
· Fighting is better than surrender

Nevertheless, we trust Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. We rely on her opinion about pure democracy. But we always been strongly on the side of non-violence.

We deeply appreciate her effort spotlessly and valuable.

Anonymous said...

What is Myoma School?

“Myoma” meaning is a name of very famous first national high school in Rangoon since 1920. Almost well known prime minister, politicians, democracy leaders, human rights activists, ministers, generals, nationalists, writers, medical specialists, engineers, artists, sport men, actors, actress, merchants and senior top officers etc were came from Myoma national school. No.2 Basic Education High School Dagon Township was formerly well known as “Myoma” National Boy's High School. No.3 Basic Education High School Dagon Township was formerly well known as “Myoma” National Girl's High School. In the 1920s national schools were opened across the whole Burma with the purpose of implementing the national education objectives with patriotism. Only with the strong effort of U Ba Lwin, the first headmaster of the Myoma National School and Bagan Set U Thaw, Chairman of the Myoma National school and the parents' donation, could the school be successfully completed. Myoma national schools first born out of the national freedom struggle together with national education and national spirit. Myoma school was the first-born all National High School in Burma. The foundation of Myoma school began in 1920. Myoma school gained recognition in the course of Burma history and Burma national education sector.