Utilizing a case study of a Taiwanese village near a navy base, this paper explores the environmental consequence of militarization and democratization. I maintain that, despite the destructiveness of war, militarism-in the form of protracted war preparation-may actually help to shelter the natural environment from commercial encroachment, even as it compels community residents to poach for their survival in an unsustainable manner. Following democratization, however, when the military's control of land-including entry restrictions-is lifted, an acute environmental crisis results. Democratization thus proves to be inherently controversial because it escalates the conflict between conservationists and local residents over how land is to be used, as both groups engage in a struggle to redefine the relationship between human beings and the natural environment. Despite this conflict, however, in the long run democratization leads to a new coalition between opposing groups-a coalition that transcends the previous antagonism.
POLITICAL REGIMES AND THE ENVIRONMENT
In the age of universal risk, Ulrich Beck argues, only the "ecological extension of democracy" provides an antidote to ubiquitous ecological crises given the fact that an open society assures information transparency and greater public participation (1992:101). At its core, democracy consists of universal citizenship guaranteeing each citizen equal protection and consultation. The transition to democracy is necessarily a process of extending rights, either by incorporating once-excluded groups or by covering more aspects of human life, from the political to the personal. Freedom from pollution and equal access to a clean environment have been deemed by some to be vital human rights, or ecological citizenship (Smith 1998).
The positive effects of democracy on environmental protection have been well documented in the empirical literature. It is argued that freedom of speech and discussion can avert ecological disasters that may result from dubious developmental projects (Shapiro 2001:21-65). Moreover, strong currents of environmentalism emerge only when meaningful civil liberties exist. Some studies also find positive correlations between democracy and environmental governance, which can be measured by policy design (Tang and Tang 2000), policy effectiveness (Janicke 1996), or institution-building (Tang and Tang 2006). Furthermore, exposure to global culture is also said to encourage the adoption of environmental protection measures nationally (Frank, Hironaka, and Schofer 2000).
Nevertheless, some scholars are much less sanguine regarding the ecological virtues of democracy. In the 1970s, environmental alarmism called for radical solutions. Specifically, since it was argued that every individual was inclined to overexploit the commons, a strong public authority, capable of upholding "mutual coercion," was needed (Hardin 1968). Both radical and conservative theorists agreed that laissez-faire democracy was no longer sustainable. Robert Heilbroner (1991) predicted that the dismal prospect of dwindling resources and a growing population would constrain the economic growth that had blunted economic struggles in the past. An intensified clash of interests would result in political conflict and would lead to the rise of an "iron government, probably of a military-socialist cast" (Heilbroner 1991:39). For William Ophuls, ecological scarcity confirmed the core credo of conservatism-that men were fettered by their own insatiable appetites (1977:163). Since ecological knowledge was necessarily esoteric and unpopular, "ecological mandarins" were needed to govern public affairs in a society that could no longer stake its future on economic growth.
Most of these discussions were cast in a dichotomous, either-or style, which left little room for a comparative understanding of the impact of different political regimes on the environment. This …