The Army and Politics in Indonesia

In This Review

The Army and Politics in Indonesia

By Harold Crouch
Cornell University Press, 1978
376 pp. $18.50

Both in Indonesia and the West, there has been widespread hope that the army-dominated government, which took over when Sukarno's "Guided Democracy" collapsed in 1965, would at last open the way to prosperity and progress. Crouch's book represents one of the most complete accounts to date of why these hopes have not been realized. He portrays a struggle between the "technocrats" pursuing development and the "financial" generals pursuing their own interests and impeding development. Yet he is cautious in his judgments and in his projections. On the one hand, the Suharto government has achieved, between 1967 and 1976, an average growth rate of about seven percent. On the other, the government has so far failed to improve the lot of the mass of people, and popular frustration and discontent continue to spread, while the government shows no signs of being capable of tackling the basic long-term problems of growing unemployment, overpopulation and poverty. Nevertheless, the author ends on a hopeful note. He sees indications that the positions of the dominant group of "financial" generals is becoming increasingly insecure and giving way to those officers who are more inclined to work with civilian technocrats in order to promote economic development and limited reform.

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