The Strategic Logic of Military Coups
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Download PDF (55.4 KB)
Figures and Tables
Download PDF (49.5 KB)
Download PDF (45.1 KB)
Thanks are due first to my advisors, the intellectual godfathers of this
book, Robert Bates, Jorge Dominguez, Bear Braumoeller, and Samuel
Huntington. To this number should be added a fifth, Adam Brandenburger,
who served as the unofficial advisor for the game theoretic parts
of the argument.
This book would not have been written without the...
Download PDF (181.1 KB)
In 1991, in a last-ditch effort to save the Soviet Union from dissolution, a coalition of the top military and civilian leaders in the country tried to seize power from Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. The conspirators included every major official in the state apparatus except the premier himself, including the defense minister, interior minister, KGB chief, the prime minister, the secretary of the central committee, and...
Download PDF (183.5 KB)
Although there is little scholarship on the topic of this book, two arguments are present, implicitly and explicitly, in writing on civil-military relations that can explain the dynamics and outcomes of coup attempts. The first of these explanations claims that coup attempts are like battles, miniature invasions of the country by its own armed forces whose outcomes are determined by tactical dominance. This...
3. Counting Coups
Download PDF (275.2 KB)
This chapter statistically evaluates the three posited theories of coup outcomes
using data from an original dataset covering all identifiable coup attempts and
their outcomes across the world between 1950 and 2000, the most extensive data
collected on coups to date.1
The chapter first examines what these data reveal about when coups are attempted. This was done to test the claim of the coups-as-elections...
4. Coups from the Top of the Military
Download PDF (200.8 KB)
Coups from the top ranks of the armed forces are distinctive in that conspirators at that level have the greatest amount of “soft power.” Because of their position at the apex of the military, senior officers have prerogatives that enable them to gather information about what is happening within the armed forces, to preferentially disseminate information favorable to their point of view and, most important, to...
5. Coups from the Middle
Download PDF (230.7 KB)
Coup attempts from the middle are organized and mounted by officers in direct command of fighting units, such as battalions, regiments, and brigades. Such units are large enough to move on their own (unlike a company, which may need outside transportation) but still small enough that the entire unit can fall under the direct command of one officer (unlike a division). These groups also tend to be cohesive, as...
6. Coups from the Bottom
Download PDF (262.8 KB)
The final category is coups from the bottom of the military hierarchy, which encompasses coup attempts organized by enlisted men, non-commissioned officers, or very junior officers. These can be considered mutinies with objectives that go beyond better pay and working conditions to explicitly aim at overthrowing the government. This type of coup attempt is the least likely to succeed, as the challengers...
7. USSR, 1991: Three Days That Changed the World
Download PDF (189.7 KB)
The 1991 Soviet coup attempt was arguably the most important coup attempt of the twentieth century. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was one of the world’s two superpowers, geographically larger by far than any other country, and in possession of the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world. At stake in this coup attempt was not just control over one of the most powerful political entities in the world...
Download PDF (82.7 KB)
In this book I have argued that coup attempts are best understood as resembling coordination games rather than battles or elections. During a coup attempt, each actor wants to be on the same side as everybody else, both to prevent a deep split from developing within the military and to avoid the punishment associated with supporting the loser. This imperative to coordinate creates a point of leverage for both the...
Appendix: Description of Variables Used in Analyses
Download PDF (65.6 KB)
Download PDF (101.5 KB)
Download PDF (407.0 KB)
Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 6 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2014