chapter  5
40 Pages

The Military and Politics in the Third World

WithS. E. Finer

Armed force is the single most important political actor in the Third World. Nearly half of the countries in the developing world are ruled by military nominees, and in most of the remaining states, only the military stands between the regime and its downfall. Almost all the Third World states are ex-colonies of European powers. There are indeed a handful of very old states like Iran, Thailand, or Yemen that were never formally colonized by the Europeans but that, in the age of imperialism, were either dominated/controlled by them. Military intervention in politics is not necessarily illegal or violent; it can and does take place at a number of levels. Even in the best-ordered civilian polities the military will have a view to express, and they may move into the gray area where "advice" becomes "pressure". Soldiers must want to launch one. In principle, therefore, military coups ought to occur randomly throughout every type of state in the world.