The Prosecution of Former Military Leaders in Newly Democratic Nations: The Cases of Argentina, Greece, and South Korea

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THE PROSECUTION OF FORMER MILITARY LEADERS IN NEWLY DEMOCRATIC NATIONS: The Cases of Argentina, Greece, and South Korea, Terence Roehrig, McFarland and Company, Jefferson, NC, 2002, 211 pages, $35.00. Can a nation that has been under military rule successfully transition to a democratic government and reassert civilian control over the military? Can the new government hold the former military regime accountable for previous human-rights abuses in a manner that does not provoke the military to seize power again? Terence Roehrig addresses these pertinent questions in The Prosecution of Former Military Leaders in Newly Democratic Nations: The Cases of Argentina, Greece, and South Korea. Roehrig's thesis is that "the military can be prosecuted for past atrocities while not provoking a rebellion, if the civilian government embarks on a careful yet firm path to impose justice in a way that does not threaten the military as an institution." He provides in-depth analyses of how new governments in each country dealt with the military, cogently explaining why Argentina's approach resulted in military rebellion while Greece and South Korea's handling of military leaders resulted in acquiescence from their armed forces.

To organize his analysis, Roehrig uses Alfred Stepan's military prerogatives as the basis for his argument. Stepan's prerogatives are defined as "areas where the military as an institution assumes they have an acquired right or privilege, formal or informal, to exercise internal control over its internal governance. . . ." They are the privileges of political power that military regimes enjoyed during their reigns. Roehrig argues that during a transition to democracy, a civilian government must negotiate with the military over the retention of these prerogatives. …