chapter  7
49 Pages

The coup d’etat and its consequences: Breakdown engineered by elite actors

The chief foundations of all states … are good laws and good arms. [W]here there are good arms there must be good laws.

(Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, 1513)

In this chapter

The discussion of breakdown turns to the coup d’etat, the seizure of

state power by an armed elite. Successful coups have occurred in a

variety of political contexts. And coups have a variety of underlying

causes, cultural, societal, and institutional. However, coups can be

deterred by properly structuring civil-military relations to promote

both the military’s competence and loyalty to its civilian superiors. The

chapter explores some of the underlying causes of coups, how coups are

conducted, and the nature of modern military organizations with special

reference to the officer corps. In discussing details of military institutions

and civil-military relations, the chapter takes a neo-institutional approach.