The navy was created lengthy earlier than the formation of the present trendy state. Established for the aim of acquiring and defending territory and assets, the navy has performed and continued to play a major function in state formation and constructing. Consequently, the state and the military’s intricately intertwined relationship has attracted a major quantity of scholarly consideration. Nonetheless, the navy is an establishment that has expanded past its preliminary objectives of offense and protection. Such an growth has come as a defiance to the overall and technical notion of what the navy represents. It’s a instrument for state formation and constructing but it surely has additionally develop into a way from which nation-building and cohesion might be promoted.  Whereas there’s a enough quantity of analysis on the navy relative to state constructing, present literature solely goes up to now in explaining the efficient function of the navy vis-à-vis nation-building.  Thus, this research can be targeted on the latter; it is going to particularly consider one of many navy’s insurance policies, conscription, with respect to the activation of nationwide sentiment.  By assessing the diploma to which navy conscription can break down present ethnic boundaries and unite residents with a typical nationwide trigger and identification, we will positively reframe the controversial notion of conscription. On a broader scale, it is going to additionally refine our present understanding of the navy not simply as a coercive establishment but in addition as a social one with short-term and long-term influences on social perspective, conduct and consequently, nation-building.

Analysis Questions

In an effort to perceive the potential conscription has in constructing a nation, it’s needed to judge the scope of its affect, with respect to its surrounding setting. Such an goal might be cut up into two inquiring components: to what diploma does navy conscription have a uniting affect on society? And in what context is such an affect nurtured/hindered? The previous might be studied by considering every case research’s social construction and the dynamic relation and interplay between their completely different social/ethnic teams. This brings us to the sub-questions: what affect does conscription have on inter and intra-ethnic interactions? And might it strengthen sub-groups’ loyalty in the direction of the nationwide neighborhood that they’re part of?

The latter might be studied by evaluating each case research to establish frequent background variables which have ensured the profitable institution and continuation of their conscription applications. This additionally brings us to additional sub-questions: what would clarify the profitable software of conscription as a nation-building technique? And, how may it’s used to elucidate the success of some international locations, and the failure of others, to keep up conscription as a nation-building course of? 


The primary technique employed on this research is an in-depth comparative evaluation of two very completely different case research: Switzerland and Singapore. Whereas such a range may appear random, it’s, in reality, pushed by the trigger to spotlight and emphasize a selected attribute of curiosity to our research. Each case research have efficiently carried out necessary navy service that has, in flip, contributed to their nation’s nation-building. Utilizing secondary sources starting from books to tutorial articles, this research can be evaluating these case research with a purpose to discover frequent background elements which have led to the profitable use of conscription as a nation-building instrument.

Nonetheless, the findings of this analysis need to be understood in consideration with a few of its limitations. Taking a comparative technique does comparatively prohibit the context wherein the information can be collected and analyzed. That is particularly the case for this analysis since I’ve avoided selecting a case research that has carried out conscription however did not incite a nationwide identification.  Nonetheless, you will need to observe that Switzerland and Singapore are case research which are very completely different by way of historical past, tradition and construction, with very completely different processes of state formation. But, they nonetheless share the identical dependent variable — the profitable software of conscription as a nation-building technique. By these two extremely completely different instances, I can extract the potential unbiased variables and circumstances that might additional assist this course of. Since these variables needs to be present in each instances, it’s thus inconceivable that any issue completely different throughout the instances can be the unbiased variable. In different phrases, a continuing trigger is required for a continuing consequence. Consequently, the elements that modify in between these international locations can be dropped making it simpler to establish and extract the background elements fixed/frequent for each instances — the unbiased variables. 

The paper is split into 5 sections. The subsequent part offers an summary of the prevailing literature and debates on the subject. The third and fourth sections respectively concentrate on the case research of Switzerland and Singapore. Each sections concentrate on potential elements, with respect to every nation, which have contributed to the success of conscription as a nation-building instrument. Lastly, the final part spells out the comparative classes of the case research and their theoretical implications. 

Literature Overview

Relating to the navy’s function with respect to nation-building, the literature is split into two primary views. One perspective argues that it has a constructive function with an organizational and stabilizing affect on the nation and state (Coleman & Brice, 1962; Pye, 1962), and/or the potential of appearing as a unifying establishment. The opposite perspective claims the alternative (Dietz, Elkin and Roumani, 1991). Krebs (2004), for instance, argues that nations are collective and can’t be constructed on people’ determination to affiliate, whereas Luckham claims that the navy establishment is a budgetary burden and consequently restricts funding in human capital (1974). 

Nonetheless, Lamb and Pisani subscribe to neither perspective. They argue that the navy’s function concerning nation-building has been impactful in each a constructive and adverse method (2018). In response to their historic research of the armed forces in Europe and Africa, the affect of the navy and the extent to which it was constructive or damaging relies on how and in what context the state was created and developed. 

 Frederick et. al (2017) attribute the effectiveness of the navy, not on state-formation as Lamb & Pisani argue, however fairly on its diploma of cohesion and consequently the utilization of nationwide identification and beliefs vis-à-vis the navy. They help this argument by taking a wide-range of case research similar to Iraq, South Korea, South Vietnam and several other African states to review how the presence/absence of a nation-building undertaking extremely impacted the survival of the state. In actual fact, this argument might be additional supported by a research performed on the IDF, Israeli Protection Forces, which additionally finds a constructive relationship between the military’s integrative/socializing mechanisms, the pressure’s effectiveness and the nation’s survival. (Henderson, 1985). Not solely does the military appear to be pretty reliant on nationwide identification for cohesion and effectivity, it has additionally come to represent a unique type of identification, one which supersedes society’s divisions and conflicts (Lomsky-Feder & Ben-Ari, 2015). Evidently, with the discount of worldwide battle and the rise in worldwide interdependence, the navy and its concentrate on nation-building has more and more expanded and proved to be influential.

Zooming in on the literature regarding conscription will present how the navy has included components of nation-building. Whereas many international locations now not implement conscription and have transformed to all-volunteer forces (AVF), there are nonetheless many states which have maintained their conscription applications and have thus maintained its significance. To desert or retain such a program continues to be controversial, particularly contemplating arguments that it’s a monetary burden, a significant restriction of freedom, and a web site of publicity to trauma. But, Switzerland, one of many happiest international locations on the earth, has efficiently normalized necessary navy service as a follow in society. 

In actual fact, there have been a wide-range of research on the affect of conscription in lots of areas similar to crime (Hjalmarsson & Lindquist, 2016; Lyk-Jensen 2018), labor market (Hjalmarsson & Lindquist, 2016; Bauer et. Al, 2012), psychological well being (Lazar, 2014; Morley et. Al, 2020) and character traits like that of self-discipline, belligerence, agreeableness and so on. (Navajas et. Al, 2019; Schult, 2015). Nonetheless, not sufficient analysis has studied whether or not or if partaking in navy service might develop a way of nationwide identification. In response to the Goh, former PM of Singapore, “nothing creates loyalty and nationwide consciousness extra totally than participation in its protection.” That is exemplified within the case of Singapore; its conscription program has been maintained for many years and but its abolition has by no means been an election concern (Kwok, 2014). In actual fact, in 2014 the UAE carried out a conscription program  after taking inspiration from a number of states, together with Singapore, thought-about to have a number of the best conscription practices. The UAE didn’t accomplish that purely for navy causes; as soon as once more, conscription is used as a political and symbolic instrument to say a ‘a extra homogenous Emirati identification that supersedes native, tribal, non secular, or ideological affiliations’ (Alterman & Balboni, 2017). Thus, as Cohen exactly phrases it, conscription establishes the navy as a consultant of a extremely various and heterogeneous inhabitants (1985). 

Nonetheless, can this be utilized to any various and heterogeneous inhabitants? Can it happen in extraordinarily fragmented societies? In response to Allport (1954), public insurance policies, together with that of conscription, can cut back the excellence of ethnic identities below the fitting circumstances. Rivkin (1969) additionally argues that nation-building might be profitable if utilized below circumstances “which are conductive to political stability, financial progress and peaceable change.” Nonetheless, each writers fail to say what these circumstances are. Whereas students have highlighted the power of conscription to efficiently overcome ethnic boundaries and allow nation-building in sure states, the circumstances needed for such a technique are obscure. For that purpose, this research can be evaluating Singapore and Switzerland — two instances which have demonstrated the potential of conscription to ameliorate ethnic divisions. In response to Kai Ostwald’s survey experiments, his empirical checks strongly display that Singapore’s service program has been each sturdy and profitable in altering conscripts’ attitudes and behaviors with respect to ethnic interactions (Ostwald, n.d). Not solely has it been maintained for many years in Singapore but it surely has additionally been accepted and embraced — regardless of being compulsory — with its abolition by no means being an election concern (Kwok, 2014). Switzerland is an identical case. It has a excessive proportion of Swiss residents in help of sustaining conscription. This may be additional supported by a current Swiss referendum that disclosed an immensely widespread stage of help for necessary navy service (Ostwald, n.d; Kwok, 2014).

Singapore and Switzerland are very various international locations. But, they’ve succeeded in normalizing the follow of conscription, amongst a heterogenous inhabitants, for the sake of nationwide protection. In different phrases, the coverage of conscription, in these instances, encourages an outward-looking perspective fairly than an inward one which focuses on teams’ allegiance in the direction of their very own group pursuits and wishes.  Thus, utilizing these case research to establish the mandatory circumstances for the profitable use of conscription may present different international locations, particularly ones wreaked with division, with comparative classes from which to be taught from and use.

The Historic Shaping of the Swiss Nation

Switzerland is a confederation made up of twenty-six unbiased cantons which are inconsistently divided in accordance with 4 completely different language-speaking teams: German, French, Romansh and Italian. This multilingual entity is taken into account to be a profitable instance of the political integration of various ethnic affiliations. Nonetheless, as a rustic with wealthy historical past, that is largely the results of the sure circumstances from which Switzerland arose and developed. 

Geographic Vulnerability 

The actual languages present in Switzerland not solely symbolize the aftermath of historic territorial dominions but in addition the trade of Switzerland’s geographical and cultural borders with that of its neighboring international locations. Switzerland is a small state that’s landlocked by a number of international locations; Germany to the North, Austria and the Liechtenstein principality to the East, Italy to the South, and France to the West. This brings us to the primary issue as to why conscription has come to be a profitable nation-building technique in Switzerland: geographic vulnerability. 

Initially, Switzerland was a small territory with a small inhabitants and higher, extra highly effective and populated neighboring international locations. This left Switzerland weak and open to the repercussions of any main battle in Europe. The specter of a typical exterior enemy and the potential finish to political sovereignty and freedom obliged this league of small states to return collectively in settlement. Whereas most trendy states have been formed by contesting the particularism of their completely different segments, Switzerland deviated from such a sample. In distinction, Switzerland arose by the preservation and growth of the autonomy and character of every of its constituents. Because the cantons have been now not below a feudal construction and the ability of safety it’s obliged to supply, the cantons have been required to rely on themselves to settle any conflicting pursuits and disputes amongst themselves. Whereas exterior aggression and collective safety was positively an incentive for cooperation, the institution of their alliance was additional strengthened by the protection of a typical set of rules similar to self-governance, liberty, autonomy and democracy; the identical set of rules that the present Swiss nation is based on. Thus, with the necessity to protect these rules, Switzerland collectively rose unified and resistant in opposition to exterior management. 

Their follow of collective safety overshadowed present variations and directed the concentrate on frequent political values between the completely different linguistic teams. Thus, it’s their resistance in opposition to overseas powers that led to the concentrate on frequent nationalistic objectives fairly than the prevalence of trans-ethnic options (Wilner, 2009). Consequently, an setting conducive to conscription was established. Their reliance on conscription was wanted to build up a reliable fighting-force that may deter threats and defend their independence. The institution of a citizen’s militia made it each Swiss citizen’s accountability to defend the state no matter group identification. Thus, Switzerland’s geostrategic vulnerability and the potential risk of invasion established a defensive military-style tradition with an all-encompassing social responsibility to defend the nation (Wilner, 2009). This created a nationwide identification separate from sub-group identification that emphasised and relied on the frequent values of self-governance and political liberty. In mild of the historic competitors between overseas powers and the safety downside it poses, the cooperation of the Swiss cantons, for the sake of political (fairly than ethnic) values, ultimately grew right into a federal union. Regardless of the area’s present stability and scarce variety of aggressors, conscription remains to be a coverage that’s culturally and politically wanted to protect Switzerland’s democratic values and its conventional security-strategy of deterrence (Stringer, 2017).

Geo-strategic vulnerability is likely one of the circumstances for the profitable implementation of conscription as a nation-building technique. Nonetheless, it may be simply met in a world characterised by anarchic world relations. For that purpose, you will need to observe how the situation was utilized in a means that may, or wouldn’t, present an setting secure for nation-building. This may be seen in the truth that most international locations wreaked by divisions — similar to Lebanon, Iraq, Syria — have been and stay to be geo-strategically weak to invasion and interference and but a nationwide identification outdoors of their group’s pursuits is but to be correctly fashioned. This might be largely attributed to a scarcity of political consensus (Salamey, 2019) on the overall objectives of society which is, in distinction, evidently current within the case of Switzerland. For the sake of collective safety, the compromise and social bargaining of the completely different polities in Switzerland resulted of their socio-political cooperation. For that purpose, they have been (and proceed to be) aligned with a broader political neighborhood that has ultimately manifested itself right into a politically tolerant tradition and identification. Such a neighborhood wouldn’t have come to position with out the integratory push of exterior pressures and threats. This push acted as a consolidating pressure and was actualized via the cooperation of conscripts of various linguistic and ethnic backgrounds, united by the collective want to guard their independence.  

Impartial International Coverage 

One other issue that has paved the way in which for conscription as a profitable nation-building instrument is expounded to Switzerland’s overseas coverage. Switzerland’s famend precept of armed neutrality has led to a overseas coverage that has resulted in an distinctive lack of battle from the late 1700s onwards (Kwok, 2014). This neutrality goes all the way in which again to the Peace of Westphalia when it was formally acknowledged in 1648 (McComas, 2016). Nonetheless, Switzerland was nonetheless wanted for its nice geo-strategic territory particularly with respect to the Alpine area which consisted of a number of European transit routes. For that purpose, such recognition was not basically actualized as demonstrated by the French occupation of Switzerland in 1798 and its transformation right into a battle-zone between the European powers in 1799. It was the Napoleonic wars that offered a glimpse of the threatening affect a non-neutral Switzerland would have. Consequently, neither of the neighboring states would tolerate an opposing energy dominating Switzerland. Thus, after Napoleon’s defeat, recognition of Switzerland’s neutrality was renewed on the Congress of Vienna in 1815 (McComas, 2016). 

Switzerland’s place of everlasting neutrality in the direction of different powers meant that they don’t seem to be allowed to interact in warfare nor might their territories be — to any extent — the stage for warfare. This neutrality served each exterior and inner capabilities. Switzerland’s ‘designation’ as a buffer zone protected its independence and freedom from that of exterior affairs. It additionally stabilized Europe’s fragile balance-of-power as outlined within the Treaty of Paris, 1815; the neutrality and independence of Switzerland would “enter into the truest pursuits of the coverage of the entire of Europe” (Schindler, 1998). Whereas neutrality was initially a situation — imposed by European powers — for Switzerland’s independence, it will definitely grew to become an ethical advantage from which Swiss nationwide identification was constructed on. This brings us to the interior operate of neutrality that has offered the means to advertise inner integration. As a result of lack of homogeneity with respect to faith, linguistics and tradition, neutrality offered a typical and non-instigating identification to affiliate with. A coverage that proved to be each vital and durable in distinction to the ability of ethno-nationalization that was prevailing in Europe (Schoch, 2000). Being free and separate from exterior strain not solely strengthened inner integration but in addition preserved Swiss unity all through a number of main occasions. Swiss neutrality managed to prevail all through the Reformation and the next a long time of spiritual battle that crippled the remainder of Europe. It additionally continued all through two extremely damaging World Wars. 

Whereas Switzerland did uphold its state of armed neutrality in WW1, it proved to be tough as its neighbors have been a mixture of Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary) and Entente Powers (France and Italy). This stirred up conflicting sympathies as German-speakers felt emotionally connected to the German empire and the French-Italian audio system to that of France and the Entente. This was the primary time in Switzerland’s historical past that alliances have been made in accordance with the facet of language (Wilner, 2009). Whereas this did trigger some inner battle, Switzerland nonetheless managed to not take sides or partake within the warfare. By WW2, Switzerland was extra ready. Though the navy risk was basically bigger, the interior language-based divisions weren’t as vital. Because the Axis powers steadily started to symbolize anti-democratic forces that opposed Swiss traditions and values, there occurred a lower in Swiss-German loyalty (Kerr, 1974). This demonstrates the constructive aftereffect of creating political values that align with a broader neighborhood. 

The non-alignment coverage additionally performed an vital function in Switzerland’s protection technique. Provided that impartial international locations are usually not allowed to favor or help another international locations, the alternative additionally applies. Thus, conscription and the safety/deterrence it offers turns into a needed technique for the shortage of safety below neutrality. In actual fact, an empirical research was carried out on the determinants of conscription’s decline between the timeframe of 1970-2010 (Corridor & Tarabar, 2016). Membership in navy alliances was discovered to be associated. As international locations more and more partake in strategic and protecting alliances, they really feel much less threatened and consequently cut back their navy pressure. Contemplating Switzerland doesn’t have such privileges, it had and nonetheless needs to be as self-sufficient as potential with respect to its defensive capabilities. 

Regardless of the area’s present stability and scarce variety of aggressors, Swiss conscription remains to be a related coverage that continues to be needed in a impartial nation that has no navy alliances. Whereas the unique purpose behind conscription was largely militarily, historical past reveals that it’s a illustration of collective safety that has been anchored, alongside the precept of neutrality, within the political identification and follow of the Swiss state. In different phrases, the aim of conscription has modified and develop into basically extra political. This may clarify why a current Swiss referendum on the abolition of conscription mirrored an immensely widespread stage of help for conscription, regardless of the shortage of exterior motive (Reuters Employees, 2013).

Direct and Consociational Democracy

The profitable upkeep of conscription doesn’t solely need to do with the actual circumstances from which Switzerland developed, but in addition with the complicated institutional-structure of the present federal state. Referendums are a part of an vital institutional function that impacts Switzerland and its wide-range of choices, together with that of conscription and consequently nation-building. This function is called direct democracy. The Swiss mannequin has granted a excessive stage of participation and self-determination to its residents permitting them to be extra concerned within the formation or alteration of Swiss regulation. In actual fact, at the least one-third of all of the referendums held on the national-level worldwide have occurred in Switzerland (Kaufmann, 2019). Thus, the extent to which Switzerland has offered its residents with a direct voice in their very own affairs is past examine to another nation. Certainly, like another common consultant system, many of the political selections are made by the legislative and government branches. Nonetheless, with respect to crucial of points, particularly associated to the structure, the folks have the ultimate say by way of referendum. Thus, direct democracy controls and regulates the ability of the political elites whereas additionally giving these vital political selections excessive charges of approval and legitimacy. Regardless of criticism of sustaining conscription in a secure area, in 2013, Switzerland rejected a referendum on the suspension of conscription – for the third time in 25 years. 73% of voters from all throughout the twenty-six cantons rejected the abolition whereas solely 27% have been in favor (Reuters Employees, 2013). Evidently, Switzerland’s semi-direct democracy has again and again offered conscription a respectable basis for its software in a world the place all-volunteer forces (AVF) are the development. 

But, it isn’t the one institutional function that impacts conscription; Switzerland’s combination of each direct democracy and power-sharing is what makes its system so distinct. Inside this authorities sort, fairly than the appliance of majority selections and a ‘winner takes all of it’ construction, every group will get one thing. As aforementioned, Switzerland didn’t replicate its neighbors’ inclination in the direction of unification and homogenization. It didn’t encourage the identification of 1 particular group on the expense of the opposite. As an alternative, it fashioned a state that preserved the cantonal autonomy of the completely different group identities. Slightly than concentrate on the institution of cultural, linguistic, and spiritual homogeneity, Switzerland accepted its pre-existing range and constructed its establishments on it. This may be seen within the consociational construction of the federal government and its emphasis on shared decision-making and group inclusion. Nonetheless, you will need to observe that Swiss establishments, as seen via a glimpse of its historical past, have been already accepted and functioning in any respect ranges (Swiss Federal Division of International Affairs, 2008). This explains why a broad political identification — preaching frequent political values — was capable of concurrently emerge. This may additionally clarify why, in distinction, international locations with weak and politically contested establishments are unable to incite a way of identification. Even when just one group have been to problem the state’s establishments and its credibility, such establishments will be unable to function the premise of an overarching and shared political identification. But, within the case of Switzerland, political establishments and values have confirmed to have the ability to set up a communal sense of belonging, distinct from that of particular person ethnic and cultural bonds. 

It additionally should be identified that Switzerland will not be a rustic that has skilled extended inner battle as popularly seen in ethnically-diverse international locations (primarily resulting from its neutrality). Whereas it did expertise civil warfare in 1847, it was quick solely inflicting a small variety of casualties. In different phrases, it didn’t set off an excellent stage of struggling. For that purpose, Switzerland doesn’t have an ‘emotionalized’ inhabitants nor are they represented by ‘emotionalized’ elites (Swiss Federal Division of International Affairs, 2008). The inter-ethnic interactions between the completely different ethnic teams are usually not as delicate as popularly seen in ethnically-diverse international locations. Thus, not solely is there a sure stage of belief and tolerance amongst completely different teams however there’s additionally a concentrated effort by these elites to determine and help a shared nationwide identification. That is supported by Wilner who claims that in 1917, the elites from completely different ethno-linguistic teams “in a short time moved to an appeasement coverage in try and realign political sentiments alongside the nationalist axis that that they had designed in earlier a long time” (Wilner, 2009; Wimmer, 2011). One other instance is the creation of the time period “Geistige Landesverteidigung” in 1938 by elites within the Federal Council.  Equal to “religious nationwide protection”, this time period promoted Swiss political/cultural concepts and values with a purpose to diminish rising ethnic strain and counter the propaganda of surrounding international locations (Wilner, 2009; Ormes, 2011). Evidently, the persevering with belief between each teams and elites have created an setting conducive to the institutional lodging of various cultural teams. Switzerland’s scenario is exceedingly in contrast to international locations that implement power-sharing as a brief means to keep away from ethno-political battle. 

The mix of direct citizen participation, the institutionalization of frequent political values, inclusive decision-making, and the shortage of emotionalization in any respect ranges has paved the way in which for an institutional construction that’s trusted by the folks. Evidently, such a robust and sophisticated institutional construction has created an environment which isn’t solely conducive to conscription however to the navy as an entire. The Swiss navy has been and continues to be, in essence, a cultural establishment. Not solely does it symbolize Swiss tradition and historical past but it surely additionally embodies an overarching political identification wherein promotes belief, tolerance and variety. For that purpose, the residents’ notion of the navy and different establishments is a constructive one which continues to encourage the institution of a nationwide identification. This constructive notion in the direction of state establishments, particularly the navy equipment, will not be generally seen in international locations divided by ethnic divisions.

The Synthetic Shaping of the Singaporean Nation 

Singapore is a small city-state made up of 1 primary island and greater than 60 small islets. It has 4 main ethnic teams in accordance with the CMIO mannequin of ethnic classification; the Chinese language, the Malays, the Indians and the others which embrace nationalities principally from Central Asia and Europe.  Nonetheless, the sizes of those completely different teams, with respect to one another, are under no circumstances proportional. The Chinese language in Singapore type the ethnic majority as they make up 75% of the inhabitants whereas the Malays, the constitutionally-recognized indigenous folks of Singapore, quantity to round 13.7%. The Indian ethnic group is at 8.7% leaving a remaining 2.6% for different nationalities (Ortmann, 2009). Evidently, Singapore’s various ethnic composition makes it tough to determine a typical feeling of identification. Nonetheless, the success and growth of Singapore as a city-state reveals that peaceable coexistence and efficient governance was capable of be attained and variations surpassed. 

Geographic Vulnerability 

In 1965, Singapore was faraway from Malaysia and was compelled to develop into an unbiased and sovereign state. An unbiased and sovereign state with a Chinese language majority squished between the bigger and extra populated Malaysia and Indonesia; neighbors which are predominantly Muslim. The institution of its fragile independence inside a doubtlessly threatening territory had consequently established nationwide survival as the primary purpose of Singapore. This was clearly said and acknowledged by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee in 1965:

“We would like peace just because now we have not the capability to make warfare on anyone. We’re surrounded by greater and extra highly effective neighbors with whom we can’t afford to settle disputes by pressure of arms. My nation is effectively conscious that it’s located in a area of the world which has historically been the battleground of massive energy battle. Singapore itself, by advantage of its location, has attracted the eye of countries who want to dominate Southeast Asia”

Moore, 2017

Not solely did its geographic location pose a risk to this newly created state but in addition the construction of its society. Its society is fragmented by its more and more completely different ethnic composition as every group identifies with a unique language, faith and tradition.  Variations that have been clearly seen and manipulated within the communal tensions that led to the separation of Singapore from Malaysia. Thus, the quantity of funding within the state’s relations with any one of many teams is very delicate and restricted by its relations with the others. Evidently, after independence, Singapore was confronted with each inner and exterior circumstances of vulnerability impacting each stage of society. Thus, with a purpose to reduce such vulnerabilities, Singapore moved in the direction of the strategy of securitization (Chang, 2019). This led to the prioritization of insurance policies targeted on countering and securing their vulnerabilities. This was actualized be a variety of safety measures taken. For example, in 1965, Singapore handed a safety proposal that may set up the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) chargeable for the safety of nationwide protection. In 1967, it launched the Nationwide Service coverage as an ‘distinctive’ safety follow for securing their vulnerability.  Its implementation performed and continues to play a twin function of navy protection and nation-building respectively concentrating on each exterior/geographic and inner/social vulnerabilities. This was adopted up by one other safety coverage, in 1984, generally known as the Complete Protection Doctrine. Carried out to “unite all sectors of society within the protection of Singapore”, the Complete Protection Doctrine tackles navy protection, financial protection, civil protection, social protection, digital protection and so on.  These completely different areas of protection are conveyed to be, individually and collectively, depending on the trouble of all of society in deterring potential aggressors. Moreover, in 1970, the Ministry of Protection was divided into two ministries, the Ministry of Protection (MINDEF) and the Ministry of Dwelling Affairs (MHA). Every ministry grew to become chargeable for exterior and inner safety respectively (Chong, 2020).

The continual state of tension concerning the state’s survival has created an insecure setting that has reoriented the folks to just accept such securitization insurance policies, particularly that of conscription. The implanting of Singapore’s vulnerability as a prevalent discourse — strengthened by the implementation of safety insurance policies — has created a constructive and distinctive perspective in the direction of conscription. In actual fact, in Lee’s memoirs, he highlights the necessity to tailor folks in a means that they might settle for how important it’s to have “a folks’s military” (Yew, 2000, p. 33). Thus, by the fixed attraction to the folks’s concern, vulnerability has been deeply-rooted in folks’s notion consequently resulting in a defensive and militarized mentality — a mentality that displays the fusion of civil-military relations. As Brown claimed, Singapore legitimized its rule via “an “ideology of survivalism” (2000) which has been repeatedly used to compensate for the shortage of nationwide identification. The discourse of nationwide survival grew to become the means from which to mobilize the inhabitants and incite nationwide consciousness. It has been additional actualized and strengthened via conscription for the higher goal of nationwide integration —  a goal that continues to be to be a problem for an import-dependent nation inside a area made up of its very shut, bigger and extra populated neighbors.

Meritocracy and Elite Governance

The obstacles dealing with this younger nation offered nice incentive for an ideology of survivalism, nevertheless, it couldn’t be completely trusted as a long-term useful resource. Though Singapore’s independence and expulsion from Malaysia left it scarce of each human and pure assets, it was able to reaching important progress as GNI/capita measured a rise from $34,576 in 1990 to $83,793 in 2018 (a 142.3% enhance) (UN, 2018). Singapore’s exceptional financial and social development, in a comparatively quick interval, hindered the credibility of the survival discourse making it now not compelling sufficient for the mobilization of its folks. As a younger state made up of immigrants coming from completely different ‘native lands’, similar to China, India and Malay states, it’s consequently missing in shared historic and cultural roots. Resulting from this weak basis from which to assemble a nationwide identification, the federal government turned to completely different options. One in every of which was elitism. With the rise of democracy and the thought of political legitimacy, elitism was left behind within the 20th century. Nonetheless, Singapore remainsan exception (Skrbis & Barr, 2008).

Contemplating the dynamics of Singapore’s composition, establishing a way of nationwide identification required an lively, adaptable and main authorities. For that purpose, from the time of its independence, the difficulty of nationwide identification was largely a governmental undertaking. This goes to indicate that nation-building was not a naturally occurring course of however fairly ‘artificially’ developed via the insurance policies carried out by a specific elite administration. An administration that has instantly tied the survival of the state to its personal existence. That is primarily strengthened by the federal government’s help for meritocracy, which is essentially an elite-building course of. Established as a basis of Singapore’s nationwide identification, the meritocratic strategy promoted a system grounded on the tendency of accomplishment fairly than that of ascription. From a extremely aggressive instructional system, high performers are chosen and skilled right into a ruling elite that may pragmatically information and reform society from above. For that purpose, the nation’s funding in nation-building is essentially intertwined with the funding going into elite formation. Whereas this top-down strategy actually has an alienating impact, this elitist strategy to politics — based on that of meritocracy — has develop into essential to Singapore’s nationwide identification. That is largely as a result of influential function of elites’ in shaping nationwide and political discourse in accordance with their rules. In different phrases, Singapore’s nationwide identification is the product of the elites’ direct and lively function they play, from above, in actualizing and institutionalizing pragmatic concepts and practices that may guarantee coexistence. 

That is exemplified by the institution of the Ministry of Tradition, in 1959, to drive cultural applications that may foster a way of pleasure, loyalty and nationwide identification throughout a inhabitants that originally had no roots in Singapore. It launched the primary nationwide symbols — its new crimson and white flag, the state crest and state anthem. It created occasions and actions that explicitly promote nation-building and enhance “inter-cultural consciousness, racial understanding and bonding among the many 4 primary races” (Ministry of Communications and Data, 2018). It additionally established Singapore’s Nationwide Day Parade (NDP) which maintains, to at the present time, a navy theme. The parade is repeatedly offered as a logo of Singapore’s capabilities with respect to the nation’s citizen military. In actual fact, fairly not too long ago in 2018, the Minister for Protection, Dr. Ng Eng Hen, reminded residents of the importance of collaborating and sponsoring within the NDP:

“As a result of we will overlook what it’s about, we will assume it’s only a parade present. However as a comparatively younger and unbiased nation, every NDP that we maintain yearly is a few nation nonetheless establishing itself, and never least via a typical identification” …. “the NDP reminded us of the struggles in our previous and that we might be stronger serving to each other as a neighborhood”

Min Zhang, 2018

This highlights their steady manipulation of tension with respect to the nation’s unsure future. This consequently reinforces the relevance of conscription and the necessity for a citizen-army. In actual fact, a research was performed on the earlier PM, Mr. Lee Kuan Yews and the speeches he gave at 26 completely different Nationwide Day Rallies between the timeframe of 1959-1990. The identification and expression of threats within the setting turned out to be a quite common theme discovered all through many of the speeches (Tan & Wee, 2002). Evidently, elites play a major function of their oblique integration of concepts into nationwide and political discourse —  discourse that’s constant in reflecting a sure and constant perspective of the nation. That is exemplified within the fixed promotion of ‘nationwide’ rules: financial progress, multiracialism, equal alternative and upward socio-economic mobility for all residents no matter their ethnicity in Singapore’s constructed nation-building delusion.

This has been established as a needed tactic to develop a shared identification that may reduce throughout ethnic and cultural traces. A tactic that has succeeded in reshaping the folks’s sense of identification with a nation not outlined by race however fairly by political elements. Not solely does this display that nationwide identification is definitely a social development but it surely additionally highlights the vital function of the elites in establishing and reinforcing it. Regardless of some claims of meritocracy being the means and justification for the ruling celebration’s steady hegemony, Singapore has probably the most trusted governments. Not solely did it rank 6th amongst 180 international locations in Transparency Worldwide’s 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index but it surely was additionally one of some international locations categorized by Edelman’s Belief Barometer as having fun with excessive ranges of public belief (Li Sa et. Al, 2018). That is most probably as a result of effectiveness of the federal government in its dedication to the creation and software of ‘pragmatic’, fairly than ideological, insurance policies. That is greater than supported by Singapore’s persistently excessive rating on the Worldwide Governance Indicators (Governance in Singapore, n.d). The outcomes of those completely different indices might be seen in the truth that a long time have handed and the present meritocratic management continues to be re-elected. This has occurred in parallel to the follow of conscription which has additionally been maintained for many years with its abolition by no means being an election concern. Evidently, so long as the present system of governance is efficient, it is going to proceed to be upheld. Thus, the rules it reinforces, together with the citizen-army mentality, can be preserved and consequently conscription will proceed to be embraced. In different phrases, the upkeep of conscription is essentially intertwined with the existence of the elites and their rules which have largely formed nationwide and political discourse.


Comparative Evaluation

Each Singapore and Switzerland, among the many richest and most politically-stable nations on the earth, have been constructed on their extremely various ethnic composition. A range that they each embraced, institutionalized and executed. Nonetheless, the product of every nation’s historic roots and social circumstances was an inverted model of governance. Within the case of Switzerland, a bottom-up system is utilized wherein the native/canton stage is concerned in coverage making. That is mirrored by the emphasis on a excessive stage of native/canton autonomy that may be traced again all the way in which to Switzerland’s origin. Nonetheless, within the case of Singapore, a younger state compelled into independence with no frequent cultural and historic roots, a top-down strategy was adopted. As a response to the shortage of substance for a nationwide identification (and the chance of battle), the state utilized robust political route and governance with a purpose to make nationwide selections that may filter down and form decrease ranges. But, in each case research, conscription as a instrument for nation-building is efficiently being utilized. Thus, in evaluating Switzerland’s consociational and direct democracy with that of the Singapore’s elitist ‘democracy’, the type of authorities might be dropped as one of many potential causes and circumstances for the upkeep of conscription.

Regardless of the distinction in political methods, each international locations have robust establishments which are persistently ranked excessive of their efficiency and high quality. One in every of which is the navy. Each have developed a system institutionally robust sufficient to handle and stop the polarization of factions. Their skill to take action has legitimized the authority of state establishments. It is usually vital to spotlight that each states have created a authorities wherein legitimacy will not be based on the delicate energy of ideologies. Within the case of Switzerland, the federal government’s legitimacy is derived from the folks and their excessive stage of participation. Within the case of Singapore, it’s derived from benefit. Subsequently, their state establishments give legitimacy to the acts of the federal government as an entire, fairly than the alternatives of a selected chief or celebration. In different phrases, their robust state establishments legitimize the authority and construction of the federal government consequently legitimizing their implementation of insurance policies, together with conscription. Accordingly, robust establishments appear to be a needed precondition, and a necessary basis, for the function of conscription in nationwide integration.

One other issue frequent to each international locations that, in reality, caused their existence- is their in depth vulnerabilities, each geographic and social. As each are small states surrounded by bigger, extra highly effective and populated neighbors, the necessity to self-sufficiently safe their independence and survival was of upmost significance. This issue will not be solely frequent to Switzerland and Singapore however to most small states as they’re essentially the most inclined to invasion or assault, in a global system perceived to be anarchic. For that purpose, it is usually vital to spotlight the response to such vulnerability. With respect to the case research, each states have efficiently adopted a technique of deterrence, a technique that has misplaced its significance and necessity after the Chilly warfare.  Nonetheless, each Singapore and Switzerland have repeatedly adjusted their insurance policies to the kind and stage of risk current. In doing so, they repeatedly strengthened and actualized the thought of their potential vulnerability. This created an setting that was (and needed to be) unifying, fairly than divisive, with a purpose to survive. Within the case of Switzerland and its historic insurance policies of neutrality and non-alignment, it steadily established a politically tolerant and accommodating tradition. Within the case of younger Singapore and its securitization insurance policies, it established the means from which to mobilize the inhabitants and incite nationwide consciousness. Regardless of making use of completely different techniques, each states have adopted methods of deterrence and search to protect it via conscription, because it mobilizes the forces wanted to say these insurance policies.  

The ultimate frequent issue that explains the profitable software of conscription as a nation-building technique is the institution of a typical civic identification. Regardless of the completely different sequence in establishing a civic identification (whether or not earlier than or after making use of conscription), each states have created a typical nationwide identification that concurrently respects and acknowledges poly-ethnicity. They didn’t embrace ethno-linguistic nationalism, however fairly promoted a typical civic tradition based on distinct political options; options that have been politically (and rhetorically) tied to the survival and independence of the state. Within the case of Switzerland and its wealthy historical past, the cooperation of the cantons initially started as a approach to defend a typical set of political rules similar to self-governance, liberty and democracy.  This want for civil protection paved the way in which for the necessity for conscription. The identical set of rules that held the Swiss polity collectively on the time have come to characterize Swiss tradition at present. This institution of a broader neighborhood based mostly on civic and political values can be obvious within the case of Singapore. Nonetheless, Singapore, as a recently-established state, established its civic identification after (and thru) making use of conscription. In distinction to Switzerland’s pure and historic course of, Singapore has artificially deliberate and developed a civil tradition to repeatedly promote and reinforce. Meritocracy is on the core of this because it has established a system working on onerous work, benefit, and achievement, fairly than that of ascription. Such an strategy has been embedded and propagandized within the instructional, political and financial construction of the state, alongside the values of multi-racialism and religiosity. Thus, in each case research, political and civic values have been used as a way to align and encourage an outward-looking perspective that may redirect teams’ allegiance in the direction of the broader neighborhood that they’re part of.  A well-established neighborhood that conscripts, no matter their linguistic and ethnic background, can be keen to defend and shield. You will need to observe that the constructing of a typical identification was facilitated by the truth that each international locations don’t have an ‘emotionalized’ inhabitants nor are they represented by ‘emotionalized’ elites. This largely refers to the truth that each international locations haven’t skilled any extended and main inner conflicts. Subsequently, the inter-ethnic interactions between the completely different ethnic teams are usually not as delicate or delicate as popularly seen in ethnically-diverse international locations.  


Whereas the navy may need been initially used for the sake of state formation, it’s evident that it’s now not restricted to such a technical goal. Offense and protection are nonetheless the most important capabilities of the navy; nevertheless, they’re being executed alongside one other operate, nation-building and cohesion. It is a social operate clearly exemplified by international locations that also apply conscription in a globalized and interdependent world dominated by all-volunteer forces (AVF).  

The research of Singapore and Switzerland has not solely mirrored the constructive affect of conscription on inter and intra-ethnic interactions, but in addition its skill to additional strengthen sub-groups’ allegiance in the direction of the nationwide neighborhood. In each instances, the states have been conscious that with out inner cohesion, they might develop into extra weak and inclined to invasion. Thus, their skill to type a state that surpassed the continual risk of their heterogeneity was largely the results of the simultaneous constructing and reinforcement of the nation. In different phrases, because the absence of a typical identification would hinder the constructing of a nationwide neighborhood that’s important for efficient state-formation, nation-building and state-building grew to become a double-task that needed to happen on the identical time. A double job that conscription was capable of sort out. This not solely breaks the ‘stereotype’ related to the thought of compelled navy service but in addition reframes our understanding of the navy as a social establishment. The navy has the power to be a coercive establishment and likewise a social one with evident short-term and long-term influences on social perspective, conduct and consequently, nation-building. Such influences might be seen in each case research at present as their help for the conscription coverage — in a secure and interdependent area —continues to be constant all through the years. 

Conscription has a doubtlessly unifying affect on society. Nonetheless, that potential and whether or not or not it may be actualized relies on the context wherein it’s occurring. By evaluating case research which have efficiently carried out necessary navy service as a nation-building instrument, I used to be capable of extract 4 frequent elements wanted to create a context wherein maximizes the unifying potential of conscription: robust state establishments, geographic and social vulnerability, the adoption of a deterrence strategy, and at last, the institution of a civic identification. These circumstances might be used to supply different international locations, particularly ones wreaked by division, with comparative classes from which to be taught from and use. Such classes might be particularly derived from Singapore, a younger state with no frequent historic/cultural/political roots, that was capable of efficiently set up each a state and a nation in a short-period of time. Switzerland, however, is essentially the product of its wealthy historical past and the sure circumstances from which it arose and developed. This makes Singapore extra of a relatable and pragmatic mannequin to comply with and be taught from than that of Switzerland.  

This analysis was based mostly on case research which have carried out conscription and succeeded in inciting a nationwide identification. Thus, additional analysis needs to be performed on the existence/absence of the aforementioned circumstances in international locations which have carried out conscription however did not incite a nationwide identification. Additionally, contemplating that Singapore and Switzerland are among the many most developed international locations on the earth, it could be extra real looking to research the satisfaction of those circumstances, or lack of, in fragile or deeply-divided international locations. For example, within the case of sectarian Lebanon and its weak state, it doesn’t fulfill many of the circumstances. Thus, in contrast to Switzerland and Singapore, would state-building insurance policies have to be utilized previous to the issues of nation-building insurance policies? Accordingly, is conscription solely profitable in developed international locations which have already established a robust state basis? In different phrases, can conscription affect extraordinarily fragmented societies which have undermined the state? Wouldn’t it not be potential for a robust and bonafide navy to have a unifying affect within the presence of a weak state? Contemplating the implication that conscription can’t flourish in all sorts of environments, such questions needs to be pursued with a purpose to present extra perception on when and the place to make use of navy conscription as a instrument for constructing a cohesive nation. 


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