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C LASS N OTES FOR : P OLI S CI 2XX3
McMaster University, Fall 2013
T UESDAY , N OVEMBER 12, 2013
Military government will justify the intervention – everywhere military coups happen, the “government is…” so
the government has to go …
Justification that the military gives for intervention
What are the other reasons for military to occur?
- Things to take into consideration
- At the very leas there are three main models, three approximations as to how to address the question of
We need to be careful with the use of “loaded” words – Imply somehow that the armed forces are outside
- It‟s not real
- The Military are always part of the society in which they perform and in which they stage the military
- Very important political actors
- The armed forces as a reserved power
1. Liberal Models
a. European Liberal Tradition – Opposed any instance of Military Intervention, because it sees it as an
attempt to recreate a long gone past!
b. They believe that there should be no reason for military coups to occur!
2. Developmental Model (Vocabulary – Reserve Power)
a. It assumes that in the absence of Well trained, well prepared, professional intellectual elites &
bureaucracy, it falls upon the armed forces as the best organized institution in society to assume the
responsibility to bring about political, social development
b. Historical, handicaps – Not leaving people behind that are prepared to take the reigns and govern
c. In the absence of civilians prepared to run governments, it falls upon the armed forces (who have
expertise, skills, etc.) to take control of these new countries, new governments and replace the
civilian sector that is not available
d. It prompts many within the larger developmental school to bend over backwards why the military
could be better prepared to run these new countries and governments
e. Armed forces need to have an education – It gives them an advantage!
f. Studied in Western Military academies! It provides an advantage to a large majority of those who
have not traveled and been exposed to the „developed‟ countries.
3. Socialist Model
a. Argues that in socialist countries – No military coups in socialist countries;
b. Why are there no military coups in these socialist countries?
c. Whether you are talking about Cuba, etc. The military is part of the government, and therefore
inserted into every part of the political activity.
d. Exceptions – 1980 a Military officer staged a coup against his own communist government; A
communist general in Poland overthrew a communist government and began transition into a
Western type of Liberal democracy
e. 1994, October – there was an attempted military coup against the Russian president;
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f. In the socialist model, Military coups do not occur! (Theoretically)
W HY DO M ILITARY C OUPS OCCUR ?
Two main reasons; structural and circumstantial reasons
1. Structural reasons (ENDOGENOUS)
a. Reference to the long-standing conflict that permeates a given society for an extended period of
b. Likely to resolve from the number of divisions that separate the different segments of society from
c. These divisions that translate into conflict; unequal societies, the main division and tensions that
lead to conflict will be of social classes, (class conflict, class struggles) figures prominently into the
d. Because of what colonialism meant, there are many other tensions that continue to impact what
i. Legacies of colonialism
ii. Large division that it left behind (language, race, ethnicity, religion, region, etc.)
iii. A large number of tensions and divisions that come out of the colonial impact, which can
become the cause of conflict, brings about political instability threatening the survival of the
regime prompts military intervention. Bringing about permanent instability.
e. Conflicts that is endogenous to a particular society where they take place!
2. Circumstantial reasons (external variables)
a. DEPENDENCY needs to be brought into the discussion about the things that happen in so-called
b. *We cannot ignore that we are dealing with dependent societies!
c. Dependency is one way to understand a society, cannot leave the dependency variables outside of
d. External variable – because these are dependent societies, one needs to take into consideration the
impact that external factors have in the occurrence of military coups!
e. One cannot ignore the fact that military coups have had UNITED STATES involvement and
i. What is the role of the United States in this military coup?
ii. In the case of Latin America – Military coups occur with some degree of involvement by the
United States through Multinational Corporations!
iii. Boogey man of Latin American ruling classes was communism
iv. Different than invasions
f. External variables – Formal colonial powers and their role in the intervention in developing
g. Events that might prompt military coups to occur
i. 1968 (PANAMA AND PERU) – Military coups, where these two countries were relatively
in political terms stable, not that many issues that would have prompted coups.
ii. PERU; the president just happened to sign a contract with a US MNC, granting their
exclusive right to exploit Peruvian oil. As a result, the Peruvian military saw this contract as
a sell-out, some of the countries fundamental wealth and resources, it was unacceptable;
moved in and overthrew the president.
iii. 1930, Argentina: government announced that if re-elected it could bring about a
constitutional amendment to nationalize the oil industry (which was at the time in North
American hands); it prompted the Argentine Military what could be the first of many
military coups to come to occur in Argentina.
1. 1930-1982 Argentina experience more than 20 Military coups!
1Invasions could be those of Libya, and Iraq. It‟s not military coups that changed the country, but rather military invasions!
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h. Within a larger political crisis there will be some incidents that might prompt the armed forces to
intervene. The cases with the nationalization of the oil field in Argentina, or the selling the right to
exploit oil from Peru
E XPLANATION OF COUPS
1. Modernization theories (How do modernization explain Military coups?)
Premised on a dichotomy, which sees as its origin (traditional societies) and at the other end (modern
In between the traditional and modern (development)
Development is the transition from traditional to a modern society.
TRADITIONAL SOCIETY DEVELOPMENT MODERN SOCIETY
It claims that at each end of this progression, Military coups are not likely to occur.
No Military coups in traditional or modern societies
Military coups are likely to occur when societies begin transition from traditional to modern!
o Traditional societies are stable because recognized by society as legitimate (everyone accepts
the way in which a traditional society is organized)
o Modernization theory looks at coups with levels of development where societies find themselves
at any given time
o Once modernization gets underway this normative incoherence changes into normative
incoherence! Through education, through closeness with modern society, traditional people
begin to receive education, etc. and began to question!
“A little bit of education can be a truly revolutionary thing”
Legitimacy crisis – occurs when a class that used to be hegemonic can no longer be supported by its
o Political Stalemate – in which one class or group is not strong enough to assert itself, but is
strong enough to prevent any other group from becoming dominant!
o None of these other social groups are strong enough in their own term to become dominant, but
are strong enough to prevent domination!
o Political crisis = Legitimacy crisis = Hegemonic crisis!
~ As societies begin to modernize, all of these problems start to occur!
Can intervene in two manners
1. TO RESTORE THE TRADITIONAL SOCIETY THAT WAS DISMANTLED (reactionary or
2. TO ACCELARTE MODERNIZATION (progressive & offensive)
a. Types of coups (November 18, 2013)
i. Breakthrough coups (to accelerate modernization, S. Huntington)
1. Takes a stand in the modernity that is happening and accelerates it!
2. 1952 Egypt, 1969 Libya (Omar Gaddafi put an end to the Monarchy) 1974 Ethiopia
3. 1979 Saddam Hussain the case of Iraq
ii. Guardian Coups
1. 1930s-1950s Latin America
iii. Veto Coups in Modern societies
1. 1960s Latin America
N OVEMBER 18, 2013
Military coups are likely to occur as development and modernization gets underway.
As the transition begins from a traditional to a modern society; during this phase that military coups occur!
Samuel Huntington was the first one to conceptualize that military coups occur this movement away
from tradition and towards modernity.
o Prosperity Middle Class Democracies
o However as the middle class expands there will be significant structural problems; legitimacy or
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o As societies are changing there is no particular political / social group with the capacity to
replace the ones that have been displaced; therefore have several competing social forces, all of
which are not strong enough to become dominant but strong enough to prevent anyone else from
THREE KINDS OF MILITARY COUP
Can be related to different developments of a society!
o Breakthrough Coups
Egypt when a colonel overthrew a monarchy (1952)
In Libya, Gadhafi brought about the end to a monarchy (1969)
Breakthrough coups are where military brings an end to an old traditional regime in
order to facilitate the process of modernization
Since 1912 the right-win elite parties of Argentina (through he extension of the
universal franchise, etc.) have not won elections. Have maintained power through
In 1930 the Radical Party of Argentina was in Power, and the president decided to
amend the constitution in order to bring about the nationalization of oil fields (which
were owned by Americans)
They brought in the Military and overthrew the radical party!
In the 1930s it became a force of resistance to the changes! (Guardian coup)
o Guardian Coups
During the transition period!
Middle class military coups
Forces constantly interfere in order to structure on behalf of the Middle Classes
Reference point Latin America – due to the large number of Military coups that
have taken place there!
As modernization continues to expand and bring about new social forces,
industrialization obviously brings with itself a working class that have aspirations to
meet social motilities at one point there is this mobilization from non-traditional
social sectors; the working class, and invisible peasantry that suddenly awakes itself;
social mobilization that is characteristic of students who might see their expectations
The Roman Catholic church also becomes more militarized;
The Military might also veto the demand of these aspirations
o Veto Coups
Occurs when the army vetoes the people's mass participation and social mobilization in
governing themselves. In such a case, the army confronts and suppresses large-scale,
broad-based civil opposition, tending to repression and killing, such as the coup d'état
in Chile in 1973 against the elected Socialist President Salvador Allende by the Chilean
L AND R EFORM
- The only land reform was in Mexico (in Latin America) 1910, Cuba 1959, Bolivia 1952 and Nicaragua
in 1979, with the only exception of a peaceful land reform in Chile.
- All other land reforms came as a result of a social revolution! Otherwise the ruling classes have not
willingly accepted the idea of giving land back to the peasantry.
- Peasantry begins to get involved in politics and begins to demand land!
- Peasants begin to take on direct action through seizing the land from the landowners! It is not peaceful
because land owning classes are being evicted from their lands.
o Landowners will ask for the police and armed forces to protect their private property.
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- Denounced Marxism and Capitalism
- Adopted a predilection for the poor sector of societies
- In Latin America this was taken at face value, such that the council adopted dependency theory as the
main reason for development of underdevelopment as one way to explain this incredible gap between
the rich and poor
- Much like the students, peasants or workers, even some sectors of the church began to see the limitations
of trying to bring about social change within the system and realized one needed to move to take direct
o Jesus as a revolutionary
o The need to follow Jesus in revolutionary character
- People should search for their salvation on THIS EARTH rather than in the afterlife!
- Radical / Revolutionary
- Because it completely undoes what the church has done for thousands years;
- Students who are not studying, peasants who are not tiling the land, workers are not working, and priests
are not preaching but JOINING THE REVOLUTION
o Fear of the ruling class!
o The Ruling class brings the military in order to VETO all of these processes of social
mobilization / mass participation that is perceived to be THREATENING to the kind of society
that they‟ve taken for granted until then!
- SAMUEL HUNTINGTON
o It is the opposite of institutionalization: an institutionalized society s one in which there are
effective political mechanisms for reconciling and implementing demands, them is appropriate
of which are political parties!
o A praetorian society is one in which there are no effective institutions and in which social
groups take direct political action groups take direct political action to achieve their goals, a free
for all situation in which the army is likely to be the most successful actor because it controls the
instrument of suppression
o The politics of order: military intervention justified in view of social change and anarchy
The only way to address this is through order
Modernization cannot continue or succeed unless there is „order‟
For many this interpretation means that if order is needed for development to occur; the
only one that could impose this kind of order could be the armed forces!
Huntington got a bad reputation for the rationalization in order for the military to
- Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Argentina were not democracies, but managed to undertake massive
transformations of modernization!
- Huntington provides a very good idea of how the role of the military can change as society changes
o Different kinds of military groups different kinds of development
o Society changes So does the role of society