Pol201 Lecture 5 (6.2.2018): Military Coups and Revolutions in the Global South
The military in politics
• Military rue is common in many of the developing world although it is becoming
less frequent with the advances of democracy in the last two decades.
• In the Western countries military leaders come to power although they entered
politic s as private citizens
• In the third world the military has intruded either as a governing body or as a
dominant interest group.
• Military Rule was one of the defining characteristics of political
underdevelopment. You don’t see military in highly institutionalized countries.
• The soldiers have used their access to violence in order to instigate military coups
to capture political power for themselves.
• One study of military intervention revealed that 59 developing countries
experiences 274 attempted coups between 1946-70
• There were 71 military coups in Africa between 1952-1990. 60% were successful
Defining Military Coup
• A military coup can be defined as sudden illegal displacements of governments in
which members of the security or revolutionary bloody or bloodless.
• Military coups tend to be sudden lasting a matter of hours or day rather than
• Different form a revolution involving large amounts of people working for basic
social economic and political change.
Types of Coups
• The guardian coup
o A situation where the military intervenes in order to rescues the state from
o The men in uniform consider themselves their duty to replace their
incompetents civilian predecessors
o Under military guardians corruption and inefficiency are targeted and
politicians of the old regime are purged
o Eventually the military leave.
• Veto coups
o Prompted by social changes that directly threaten the interests of the
military and their allies. The security forces calculate they can nor stand
idle while a new group takes over the state.
• Breakthrough coups
o This is where the military oust an outdated (authoritarian or traditional)
regime, seeking to change society entirely. The coups d'état becomes a
revolutionary break from the past.
Rationales of military intervention
• There are different theories and perspectives on the military intervention in
o Some emphasize on the cohesive nature of the armed forces in terms of
class origin, educational level, ideological orientations professionalism,
nationalism, and austerity and internal organizations compared to civilian
political organizations. Morris Janowitz points to the patriotism,
discipline, professionalism and cohesion found at the heart of military
• Others seem to agree on syndrome of developmental strains and stresses in
developing nations` political systems that provoke the military to seize power
o Samuel Huntington and SE Finer argue that coup d'états are most likely to
occur in states lacking institutionalized political cultures, and which also
suffer from economic hardships and social division
• Other factors which induce military intervention include
o The failure of elites to resolve economic problems - social, economic and
political weakness as magnet that pulls the armed forces into power and
legitimacy vacuum incipient developmental tensions consequent to
mobilisation policies corruption and governmental inefficiency,
• Intensive inter-elite strife, a general swing of the legitimacy pendulum from
incompetent civilian regimes to allegedly efficient, honest, national, and a-
political military forces
• Political tampering with the army's professional integrity, its hierarchy of
command, budget, and personal amenities, fringe benefits, and pay scale
• In short, the army may move into the political arena when its corporate interests
are threatened, acting essentially as the country's 'best organized trade union'
Coups and Military rule
• Already by 1970, about half of Africa’s then independent states were being
governed by one or other kind of military rule for the following reasons :
o Because parliamentary and administrative institutions had failed to
overcome a destructive regionalism; or a threat of separatism or a collapse
of political power into intrigue and corruption.
o Because popular discontents largely economic in origin had reached a
point of exploration that undermined law and order.
o Because, in weak or neo-colonial countries, foreign interests or
governments wanted a change of governments in their favour.
o Because of their personal ambition for power and privilege, with support
from this or that elite clan or tribalist grouping.
Types of Military Leadership
• Revolutionary military leaders
o (Nasser of Egypt)
• Transitional military leaders
o (The case of Nigeria)
• Conservative military leaders
o ( The case of Chile)
Pol201 lecture 5 (6. 2. 2018): military coups and revolutions in the global south. The military in politics: military rue is common in many of the developing world although it is becoming less frequent with the advances of democracy in the last two decades. In the western countries military leaders come to power although they entered politic s as private citizens. In the third world the military has intruded either as a governing body or as a dominant interest group: military rule was one of the defining characteristics of political underdevelopment. The security forces calculate they can nor stand idle while a new group takes over the state: breakthrough coups, this is where the military oust an outdated (authoritarian or traditional) regime, seeking to change society entirely. The coups d" tat becomes a revolutionary break from the past. Intensive inter-elite strife, a general swing of the legitimacy pendulum from incompetent civilian regimes to allegedly efficient, honest, national, and a- political military forces.