“U.S. officials have developed a bad habit of endorsing military meddling in global politics — ironically, in the name of democracy,” Assistant Professor of Government Erica De Bruin writes in her essay published by The Washington Post on Nov. 13. Titled Why does the United States still believe the myth of the ‘good coup’?, the essay describes several recent examples of military leaders ousting political leaders in presumed maneuvers to restore democracy. Instead, “coups still more often than not simply replace one dictator with another,” according to De Bruin.
“Coups,” she explains, “are usually understood as illegal, overt attempts to unseat the executive.” De Bruin notes that “President Trump applauded Bolivia’s military for the pressure it applied that ultimately led to President Evo Morales’ resignation.” She observes, “the temptation to endorse the domestic political maneuverings of military leaders against unfriendly regimes is clearly strong for U.S. policymakers.”
In closing, De Bruin writes, “The temptation to rely on the military to check would-be authoritarians will continue to crop up in the context of mass protests. But the longer-term survival of democratic rule depends on resisting it.”
In a subsequent BBC Mundo interview titled Evo Morales: was there a coup in Bolivia? BBC Mundo consulted 6 experts, De Bruin was consulted on whether or not the change in Bolivia’s leadership could be considered a coup. "In practice, the difference between a coup, a revolution, and a popular uprising can be blurred," she responded. De Bruin explained that when the commander of the Bolivian Armed Forces publicly asked the president to resign, it was a coup d'etat. "This type of public statement carries an implicit threat of violence, either by the Army itself or by protesters who will not be arrested by the military."
Experts from Amherst College, University of Notre Dame, and the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona were also interviewed for this broadcast. More than 20 million people visit BBC Mundo every month. It is the BBC’s service in Spanish.