by Gene Sharp and Bruce Jenkins
Title: The Anti-Coup
Author: Gene Sharp and Bruce Jenkins
Published: March 2003
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Contents: FROM CHAPTER 1...
Supporters of political democracy, human rights, and social justice have good reasons to be alarmed about coups d��tat. These abrupt seizures of the state apparatus have occurred with great frequency in recent decades. Coups have overthrown established constitutional democratic systems of government, halted movements toward greater democracy, and have imposed brutal and oppressive regimes. Coups d��tat are one of the main ways in which new dictatorships are established. Coups may also precipitate civil wars and international crises. Coups remain a major unsolved defense problem.
A coup d��tat is a rapid seizure of physical and political control of the state apparatus by illegal action of a conspiratorial group backed by the threat or use of violence. The members of the previous government are deposed against their will. Initially the coup group rapidly occupies the centers of command, decision-making, and administration, replacing the previous chief executive and top officials with persons (military or civilian) of their choice. Eventually they gain control of the whole state apparatus. Successful coups are usually completed quickly, at most within forty-eight hours.
Coups d��tat have taken place in dozens of countries in nearly every region of the world in recent decades, including in Thailand, Burma, the Philippines, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Ghana, Liberia, Chile, Fiji, Greece, Libya, Laos, Guatemala, Argentina, Grenada, Poland, and the Soviet Union.
Coups have been very widespread in Africa in the post-colonial independent countries. The first of these was a military coup which ousted Kwame Nkrumah as President of Ghana in 1966. There were five coups in Thailand between 1951 and 1976, making the growth of democracy difficult. In Libya Muammar Khadaffi took power as a result of a 1969 military coup. The Allende governmentin Chile was deposed by a military coup in 1973. The 1964 military coup in Brazil brought in a repressive military regime that ruled for years. In Guatemala the 1982 coup was followed by another coup which eventually placed retired General Rios Montt in charge. The 1981 declaration of emergency and installation of General Jarulzelski as president in Poland to repress the Solidarity independent labor union, as well as the failed hard-line coup attempt in the Soviet Union in August 1991, are among the best known examples in recent decades. Coups and coup attempts continue....
It has been suggested that coups are now occurring with less frequency than previously, but also that this decline may be short-lived and that even when a coup has been avoided for many years a country may remain vulnerable.
Massive efforts and sums of money are regularly devoted to prepare to resist foreign aggression. Yet, virtually nothing is done to prepare societies to deal with the defense problem of coups d��tat, despite their frequency in world politics. Serious consideration of anti-coup defense is long overdue.
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