Why keep changing? explaining the evolution of Singapore's military strategy since independence
Yong, Jia Rong Lester
Malley, Michael S.
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Singapore has not been involved in any wars since WWII. Beginning in the late 1970s, the small island-state has been doing well; its economy is flourishing, and its relations with its regional neighbors and the international community have been steadily strengthening. Yet, in the past 50 years since independence in 1965, Singapore's military strategy has undergone two distinct shifts, evolving from the Poisonous Shrimp to the Porcupine in the early 1980s, and then finally to the Dolphin in the early 2000s. What drove these shifts? This thesis takes a historical analysis approach in investigating the evolution of Singapore's military strategy, studying each shift as a unique case study. By comparing the two shifts, the thesis identifies three key factors that have driven the evolution of Singapore's military strategy: change of security environment, change of economic conditions, and to a lesser extent, change of international norms and expectations. The evidence examined supports the argument that the change of security environment was the underlying driving force for the first shift, while the change of economic conditions was the main cause of the second shift. These insights facilitate better understanding of Singapore's security priorities and its focus on peaceful co-existence.
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