"Hope this one will be a good coup" is a pretty accurate summary of my childhood in Nigeria. Over and over again. It never was.
— Teju Cole (@tejucole) July 3, 2013
This twet was a response to Salon’s Alex Seitz-Wald going #slatepitchy:
For many in the West, the apparent coup d’etat in Egypt today ignites mixed feelings. On one hand, Mohammed Morsi’s regime seemed to be heading towards dictatorship and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamist views are often antithetical to Western notions of democracy and human rights. But on the other, Morsi was fairly and democratically elected in Egypt’s first election, and the back-to-back military interventions could set a dangerous precedent. Which raises the question: Can coups ever lead to democratic outcomes?
The answer, surprisingly, is yes, according to two academic studies that have looked at the subject. A recent paper, via the Monkey Cage, from Nikolay Marinov and Hein Goemans of Yale and the University of Rochester, respectively, found something surprising that happened to coups after the end of the Cold War:
We use new data on coup d’états and elections to uncover a striking development: whereas the vast majority of successful coups before 1991 installed the leader durably in power, after that the picture reverses, with the majority of coups leading to competitive elections. We argue that after the Cold War international pressure influenced the consequences of coups. In the post-Cold War era those countries that are most dependent on Western aid have been the first to embrace competitive elections after the coup.
Egypt is one of the largest recipients of American military aid, which may be a positive sign for democracy, according to their theory. Whether or not that aid continues remains to be seen, however, as the U.S. government is technically prohibited from providing aid to a government that installed itself via a coup. But the definition of a “coup” is fungible and the law has never really stopped Washington from doing what it wants to, for instance continuing aid to Egypt after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted by the military two years ago…
I really, really hope President Obama takes off for the long weekend and doesn’t answer calls from the neocons and the more globally ambitious generals. I don’t pretend to know much about Egyptian politics, but I have been a citizen of these United States for over half a century, and when it comes to “fungible” definitions of diplomacy and how “the law has never really stopped Washington from doing what it wants to”, I am willing to make one firm prediction: This will not end well.
In fact, I’d set up a category under that title, except it would apply to at least a third of the posts on this blog.