A military dictatorship is a form of government where the military has political power. However, it is not identical to a stratocracy as the military does not directly rule the state under its control. Military dictatorship was first seen in Peru, 1821. Most military dictatorships are formed when the military deems that there is political instability or dangerous ideologies forming within the country or state, and overthrows the ruling government in what is called a coup. Therefore, military dictatorships are more prevalent in chaotic countries such as Iraq, where Saddam Hussein held a military dictatorship until he was recently overthrown. Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East have been common areas for military dictatorships. However after the Cold War military governments have been in decline as the popular excuse of communism was no longer valid.
Military regimes tend to portray themselves a neutral party that leads again corrupt and ineffective civilian politicians. They usually have little respect for human rights and show little tolerance for any political opponents. A military regime is also rarely willing to give up power unless forced to by popular revolt. To prevent this, military dictatorships such as Myanmar control the accessibility of the Internet and other forms of communication with which citizens may obtain information or ideologies. The leader of a military dictatorship is usually a member from the military’s most senior leadership, called a junta. The majority of ministry and cabinet posts are held by military officers, with the minority and less important being held by civilians.
Pros and Cons
Stability as leaders will not change easily. Military dictatorships oppress democratic parties and movements, giving little chance for the country to return to democracy. Without the element of constant change that democracy brings, the direction that a military dictatorship remains on the whole unchanged for the long term.
Tough military rule ensures low rate of crime. Examples of tough military rule can be seen from the recent violent crackdown on protest in Myanmar. With a constant fear of severe punishment for any signs of misconduct, crime rates and public safety will be better than other countries.
However, military dictatorship results in lack of exposure for citizens. Military governments tend to restrict Internet access for fear of citizens accessing pro-opposition sites or gaining anti-government information through sources such as email or search engines. Restriction of internet access, especially to search engines, results in less exposure to information and knowledge. Military rule also violates human rights; civilians have limited freedom.
Suppressing democracy takes away freedom of choice for citizens. Freedom of speech is also limited and sometimes violently oppressed, as can be seen from the recent crackdown on protests in Myanmar. Political isolation results in lack of support from other countries. Most military governments isolate themselves from other countries in order to prevent their citizens from being exposed to other forms of rule. This results in their country or state lacking experience in handling certain issues that other countries may have.
Impact on Society
Economically there are also pros and cons towards military dictatorship. Having a dictatorship ensures stability and organisation, as factories are sometimes government owned. However, political isolation results in loss of learning experiences from developed democratic countries such as the U.S. As a result, most military governments are still at a lower level of industrialisation. Education might or might not contain a militant message, depending on the nature of the government. For example, Iraq’s education carried a very strong militant message as compared to Myanmar, whose education minister is a civilian. However, lower levels of industrialisation and control over the Internet makes civilians less exposed in terms of technology and information. Propaganda is often used in military governments to spread either pro-government or patriotic messages. In the 2003 war with America, the information minister of Iraq claimed that they were winning when they were in fact losing in an effort to keep up support for the military government. It is also logical to think that, in light of the recent violent crackdowns, Myanmar has also utilised propaganda to soften the public stance against the military government.
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Propaganda - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2008, March 23). Retrieved March 23, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda#The_Iraq_War .
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