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.