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how coups actually happen?





hunnyhiteshseth
I was thinking the other day that how political or military coups actually happen. Throughout history we have seen so many cases that a military chief removed political chief in a coup or that some politician seized power when head of state was not in country. Like for example, recently in Myanmar military coup happened, or before that in Pakistan also similar thing had happened, or like when Yugoslavia was split up then different parts declared independence.
But how does actual transfer of power happened practically? What was the logistics involved?
I mean anybody just can't stand and say he controls the power! How can someone control whole military? Even in case of military coups, you can not expect everyone in military/army to support the coup, so how can a military chief takeover the power? There are bound to be some soldiers who don't support such coups, then how does chief takeover a country like that?
deanhills
hunnyhiteshseth wrote:
I was thinking the other day that how political or military coups actually happen. Throughout history we have seen so many cases that a military chief removed political chief in a coup or that some politician seized power when head of state was not in country. Like for example, recently in Myanmar military coup happened, or before that in Pakistan also similar thing had happened, or like when Yugoslavia was split up then different parts declared independence.
But how does actual transfer of power happened practically? What was the logistics involved?
I mean anybody just can't stand and say he controls the power! How can someone control whole military? Even in case of military coups, you can not expect everyone in military/army to support the coup, so how can a military chief takeover the power? There are bound to be some soldiers who don't support such coups, then how does chief takeover a country like that?
I would say there is no transfer of power. It is more a case of taking control. They take control of the media, broadcasting, airports and borders and broadcast to everyone they are in control. And yes, they probably kill those who were in control before them or allow them to escape.
hunnyhiteshseth
deanhills wrote:
I would say there is no transfer of power. It is more a case of taking control. They take control of the media, broadcasting, airports and borders and broadcast to everyone they are in control. And yes, they probably kill those who were in control before them or allow them to escape.


Thats true. But thats my question is how do take control PHYSICALLY? Imagine tomorrow McCain saying that he is taking over US, then how would he actually do that? how would he arrange for logistics?
ocalhoun
hunnyhiteshseth wrote:
How can someone control whole military? Even in case of military coups, you can not expect everyone in military/army to support the coup, so how can a military chief takeover the power? There are bound to be some soldiers who don't support such coups, then how does chief takeover a country like that?

You control the highest-ranking officers, of course.
Any military will have very strong methods in place to make sure that the troops follow orders from superiors; principally, thorough training and harsh penalties for disobeying direct orders.

If you control the top few tiers of the military command, then any resistance to the coup becomes a little rebellion-within-a-rebellion, and can be eliminated by the rest of the military.

Once you have complete control of the military, you simply use the military against whoever opposes you, and very soon you have control (through fear, partially) of the whole country.


One of the more effective defenses against a coup is the development of elite and super-loyal 'special police', or whatever you like to call them. Their job, should a coup start, is to eliminate those top tiers of officers, and take command of the military back.
In coup-wary countries, like Soviet Russia, high-ranking officers would almost always have an 'assistant' who normally was just a secretary, but if that officer should try to participate in a coup, that 'assistant' would become an assassin. Another layer of defense was to put hidden spies within all ranks of the military who would pretend to be an ordinary soldier, but would stop a coup from within if it started.
hunnyhiteshseth
hmm.. Thats a good insight. But I just have one doubt, how can we assume that soldiers against coup, i.e. 'rebellion within rebellion' will be small? After all they all have been loyal and besides being trained for strict discipline would also have been trained to respect their national head. Although inappropriate in this context, but again taking US example, say even if McCain is able to convince top military figures for the coup, how would they be able to prevent rebellion by marines? If majority of them won't follow orders then how will they control them?
deanhills
hunnyhiteshseth wrote:
hmm.. Thats a good insight. But I just have one doubt, how can we assume that soldiers against coup, i.e. 'rebellion within rebellion' will be small? After all they all have been loyal and besides being trained for strict discipline would also have been trained to respect their national head. Although inappropriate in this context, but again taking US example, say even if McCain is able to convince top military figures for the coup, how would they be able to prevent rebellion by marines? If majority of them won't follow orders then how will they control them?
Probably by force! But it is a good point. There are so many checks and balances in the United States, perhaps that would make a coup d'etat almost impossible to succeed.
ocalhoun
hunnyhiteshseth wrote:
hmm.. Thats a good insight. But I just have one doubt, how can we assume that soldiers against coup, i.e. 'rebellion within rebellion' will be small? After all they all have been loyal and besides being trained for strict discipline would also have been trained to respect their national head. Although inappropriate in this context, but again taking US example, say even if McCain is able to convince top military figures for the coup, how would they be able to prevent rebellion by marines? If majority of them won't follow orders then how will they control them?

Well, that's why coups take a lot of planning and preparation. You have to start from the top, then make sure people that support you are quietly promoted above others, until, finally, the great majority of the top commanders are loyal to you, not the government in place.

If there's a war going on, it makes the process faster. After securing the loyalty of the very top commanders, you send subordinates who don't support you off on suicide missions, to be replaced by those who do support you. Once the ones loyal to the current government are a minority, they can be bullied into support sometimes... threats against them, against the family, bribes, threats of demotion and punishment duty, promises of promotion for participation in the coup, et cetera...

Of course, it requires a military that isn't satisfied with the government in place now. As long as you treat your military well, it is extremely hard for someone to turn it against you. But, if your military is full of conscripts who don't want to be there, and most of the officers are dissatisfied with you, it doesn't take too much effort for someone to start convincing them that 'change' is good.

deanhills wrote:
Probably by force! But it is a good point. There are so many checks and balances in the United States, perhaps that would make a coup d'etat almost impossible to succeed.

Not really... there are three things that make a coup very unlikely in the USA:
-A military that is well treated and all-volunteer.
-The fact that the US military doesn't have much to gain (and has a lot to loose) in the case of a coup.
-Idealism of the troops themselves; they would balk at attacking their own country.

Now, in a country where those things are not true, a coup is possible, and has to be guarded against in various ways.
hunnyhiteshseth
Good point there ocalhoun. So, it looks like ultimate power rests in hand of military.
ocalhoun
hunnyhiteshseth wrote:
Good point there ocalhoun. So, it looks like ultimate power rests in hand of military.

As always, the real power lies in the hands of the strongest, or those who control the strongest.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
hunnyhiteshseth wrote:
Good point there ocalhoun. So, it looks like ultimate power rests in hand of military.

As always, the real power lies in the hands of the strongest, or those who control the strongest.
How about the French revolution? Sometimes power are with people who fight against the army. In modern days that is still ongoing. They overcome the military, take over the "palace" and military headquarters, as well as take charge of the broadcasting stations, border controls and airports.
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
How about the French revolution? Sometimes power are with people who fight against the army. In modern days that is still ongoing. They overcome the military, take over the "palace" and military headquarters, as well as take charge of the broadcasting stations, border controls and airports.

In that case, the army wasn't really the strongest. People planning a coup leading to a military dictatorship or suchlike should take care to remember that.
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