Title

Professionals and Soldiers: Measuring Professionalism in the Thai Military

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

3-2016

Abstract

Thailand's military has recently reclaimed its role as the central pillar of Thai politics. This raises an enduring question in civil-military relations: why do people with guns choose to obey those without guns? One of the most prominent theories in both academic and policy circles is Samuel Huntington's argument that professional militaries do not become involved in politics. We engage this premise in the Thai context. Utilizing data from a new and unique survey of 569 Thai military officers as well as results from focus groups and interviews with military officers, we evaluate the attitudes of Thai servicemen and develop a test of Huntington's hypothesis. We demonstrate that increasing levels of professionalism are generally poor predictors as to whether or not a Thai military officer prefers an apolitical military. Indeed, our research suggests that higher levels of professionalism as described by Huntington may run counter to civilian control of the military. These findings provide a number of contributions. First, the survey allows us to operationalize and measure professionalism at the individual level. Second, using these measures we are able to empirically test Huntington's hypothesis that more professional soldiers should prefer to remain apolitical. Finally, we provide an uncommon glimpse at the opinions of Thai military officers regarding military interventions, adding to the relatively sparse body of literature on factors internal to the Thai military which push officers toward politics.

Keywords

Civil-military relations, coups, Huntington, professionalism, Thailand

Discipline

Asian Studies | Military and Veterans Studies

Research Areas

Political Science

Publication

Pacific Affairs

Volume

89

Issue

1

First Page

7

Last Page

30

ISSN

0030-851X

Identifier

10.5509/20168917

Publisher

University of British Columbia, Pacific Affairs

Additional URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.5509/20168917

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS