Burma, the State of Myanmar

By David I. Steinberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
The Military and the
Aftermath of the Coup

Military Perceptions and Roles

The tatmadaw occupies the pinnacle of power in the state.1 It has forged an identity for itself based on its perceptions of its past, present, and future roles in the country; has created myths of its efficacy and place in the society; and has attempted to convince the populace that its vision is the correct, indeed the only, one. It is virtually obsessed with unity—of the state, of the military, of the concepts of governance, of ideas and the need for orthodoxy, and of the administration. As Foreign Minister Win Aung said, “Our program of democracy is secondary. Our fundamental program is national unity. Given the fact that we have so many diverse races living together, if we are not united, there will be no chance of survival. A new government can emerge, but unless we have solved our problems of national unity, it will not last long.”2

The military is the most cohesive organization within the country; it occupies that position not only because of its taut command system, but also because since attaining power in 1962, it has consciously prevented the rise of any organization that it could not control or which was deemed a potential rival for any degree of autonomous power. Thus in the BSPP period, the party was founded by the military and dominated by both active duty and retired military, and all mass orga

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