Coups are in Decline as Agents of Change
Description: In the 1960s, military coups d'etat were frequent, as countries in Africa and Asia threw off their colonial yokes. They remained in fashion until the 1990s, as power struggles played out in postcolonial nations and the Eastern bloc resisted Soviet ru
Date: 18 September 2006
Author: Sarah DiLorenzo
Source: Associated Press
In the 1960s, military coups d'etat were frequent, as countries in Africa and Asia threw off their colonial yokes. They remained in fashion until the 1990s, as power struggles played out in postcolonial nations and the Eastern bloc resisted Soviet rule.
These days, however, coups, like Tuesday's in Thailand, are fairly rare, especially in East Asia, experts say.
Andrew Mack, director of the Human Security Centre at the University of British Columbia, says it's no coincidence that the decrease in coups, which has been accompanied by a decline in overall armed conflict, began in the early 1990s.
"Since the end of the Cold War, two or three sources of armed conflict have been taken out of the system," he said, citing the end of colonialism, the evolution of postcolonial regimes beyond their early volatility, and the end of the Cold War itself.
Coups hit a peak of approximately 25 a year in the mid 1960s, according to the conflict barometer from the Heidelberg Institute of International Conflict Research. After that spike, an average of 15 a year held until 1992, when a sharp decline began. Since 1995 only about five a year have been recorded, though 2004 was an exception with 10.
Why this steady march toward more civilized changes of government?
"It's just not seen to be seemly or appropriate" to overthrow a government anymore, Mack said. "Every regime in the world likes to call itself a democracy," which makes violent coups less appealing to those who seek power.
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