The Military and Politics

  • Alan R. Ball


The lengthy list of successful and unsuccessful direct interventions by the military1 in Central and South America, the Middle East, the new African states, Asia and several European countries since 1945 creates the impression that seizure of political control by the armed forces, or the military ensuring the replacement of one civilian government by another, is the norm rather than the exception in modern political systems. Between 1960 and 1982 there were 25 coups in Africa, fifteen in Latin America, twenty in the Far East and fourteen in the Middle East (including Turkey). Latin America has been a particularly fruitful area for military intervention since the beginning of the nineteenth century. In Spain there were 43 successful and unsuccessful military coups between 1914 and 1923, culminating in the establishment of a relatively stable period of military dictatorship under Primo de Rivera, who maintained power until 1930.2


Political System Foreign Policy Armed Force Communist Party Liberal Democracy 
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  1. 1.
    The Guardian (9 July 1982). See also S. Declo, Coups and Army Rule in Africa (New Haven, Conn., 1976) pp. 5–6. The term ‘military’ in this chapter includes the navy and air force as well as the army.Google Scholar
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    H. Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, 3rd ed. (London, 1977) p. 91.Google Scholar
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    S. E. Finer, The Man on Horseback, 2nd ed. (London, 1976) p. 5.Google Scholar
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    An interesting example of this authoritarian attitude is the comment of a young Pakistan army officer in April 1970 helping to organise elections in West Pakistan: ‘They are going to have democracy whether they like it or not. The army will see to it. Any trouble, anyone attempting to disrupt democracy, that’s where we step in.’ (Quoted in The Times, 28 April 1970).Google Scholar
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    See J. Hooper, The Spaniards. A Portrait of New Spain (London, 1987) pp. 61–79.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Alan R. Ball 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan R. Ball
    • 1
  1. 1.Portsmouth PolytechnicUK

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