State disintegration and power politics in post-Suharto Indonesia

Felix Heiduk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This article illustrates how discourses on ‘state fragility’ have been instrumentalised by the Indonesian military in order to consolidate its political and economic power after the fall of Suharto. In the wake of Indonesia’s transition to democracy violent conflicts escalated in East Timor, Aceh, Papua, the Moluccas and Sulawesi. Most notably East Timor’s successful secession spawned fears over the potential ‘balkanisation’ of Indonesia. In this context the Indonesian military, which had been shunned for its involvement in Suharto’s New Order, managed to re-establish itself as the ‘guardian of the nation’. Based on fieldwork in Indonesia, the article describes how post-9/11 discourses over a potential break-up of Indonesia were used by the Indonesian military to reconsolidate its power in the post-Suharto era. The research findings illustrate that, against the looming threat of state disintegration, attempts to revoke the military’s prerogatives have either failed or have been aborted during the planning stages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-315
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number2
Early online date20 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Indonesia
  • Aceh
  • balkanisation
  • state failure
  • Indonesian armed forces
  • security sector reform


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