The military has played a central role in Third World politics since independence. There have been many attempts to explain military intervention but (in the main) they have proved inadequate to account for the great range of interventions. Some writers, like S.E. Finer, have pointed to the socio-cultural environment as the key factor. Finer has argued that a low level of political culture is likely to result in military intervention [Finer, 1981]. He gives limited independent criteria of a ‘low’ political culture, and cause and consequence are quite similar: military intervention itself seems to indicate a low level of political culture. In any case, there is little reason to think that either Zambia or Colombia has a political culture distinct from its neighbours, and every reason to doubt that Lebanon has a higher political culture than Egypt, or Malaysia than the Philippines. Yet these are the implications of Finer’s approach. In contrast to Finer’s broad focus on political culture, Janowitz focuses wholly on the characteristics of the military: the superior quality of its organisation and the shared values of the officer corps [Janowitz, 1964]. Yet the military has frequently been fragmented and has produced a wide range of political ideologies: nationalist, populist, monetarist, socialist, conservative and radical.
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