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State-building, Military Modernization and Cross-border Ethnic Violence in Myanmar

Lionel Beehner

Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs, 2018, vol. 5, issue 1, 1-30

Abstract: This article explains cross-border uses of force against ethnic armed groups along Myanmar’s bloody borders with China and Thailand. I trace the history of Burma’s ethnic disputes, its state-society relations, and the “modernization†of its military doctrine to understand how its state-building enterprise can shape the use of force along a state’s frontier. I treat each of the border regions as distinct sub-categories to highlight variation in the micro-dynamics as well as types and conditions under which the use of state-orchestrated violence occurs. First, I point to the role of greater state-building – extractive, coercive, etc. – and how it influences the use of force along border regions. Second, I explore the modernization of Burma’s military and evolution of its doctrine – this includes early efforts by the tatmadaw’s post-1988 shift toward a more conventional counterinsurgency strategy. An implication of my theory is that more peaceful relations between states perversely can create the conditions for more cross-border violence, as there are greater opportunities for states to either “pool†border security or outsource the use of force to proxies or paramilitary forces.

Keywords: Burma; Myanmar; state-building; civil-military relations; Tatmadaw; civil war; counterinsurgency; state-society relations; China; Thailand (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1177/2347797017748464

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