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Impact of Coups and Color Revolutions on Operations

This compilation of works consists mainly of articles from Military Review, publications authored by the Combat Studies Institute, monographs from students at the Command and General Staff College, and selected works from other sources for which we have permission to reproduce.

The Army University Press invites readers to submit for publishing consideration articles to Military Review or longer works to the Combat Studies Institute on issues related to Coups and Color Revolutions for submission on the Army University Press website at



Army U Press Content

Chadian rebel Idriss Déby, leader of the Chadian Patriotic Salvation Movement, holds a press conference 2 December 1990 after his arrival in N’Djamena, Chad. The insurgent group marched into the capital, and Déby’s troops overthrew the Hissène Habré regime. (Photo by Pierre Briand, Agence France-Presse)

Of Strong Men and Straw Men

Appraising Post-Coup Political Developments

By Jonathan Powell, PhD

Responding to “Zimbabwe’s Coup: Net Gain or No Gain?,” published in the March-April 2019 edition of Military Review, a political scientist specializing in the causes and consequences of military coups disputes certain assertions by the authors of the aforementioned article and provides more detail and clarification on post-coup political environments as they related to establishment of democratic regimes.

Published by Military Review July-August 2019, pg 47

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Soldiers on guard enjoy the celebration with Portuguese citizens following the successful “Carnation Revolution” military coup 25 April 1974 in Lisbon, Portugal. The coup ended the four-decade-long dictatorship of the Estado Novo regime. (Photo by Alfredo Cunha, courtesy of Fundo Alfredo Cunha/Fundação Mário Soares, Casa Comum,

Love Ballads, Carnations, and Coups

By Ozan Varol

A chapter from the author’s The Democratic Coup d’État analyzes instances of military coups conducted by establishment military forces that had the intended result of producing democracy in the nations in which the coups occurred, with some success

Published Military Review March-April 2019, pg 18

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Members of parliament celebrate 21 November 2017 after President Robert Mugabe’s resignation in Harare, Zimbabwe. Mugabe was swept from power as his thirty-seven-year reign of brutality and autocratic control crumbled within days of a military takeover. The bombshell news was delivered by the parliament speaker to a special joint session of the assembly that had convened to impeach Mugabe, who had dominated every aspect of Zimbabwean public life since the country’s independence in 1980. (Photo by Jekesai Njikizana, Agence France-Presse)

Zimbabwe’s Coup

Net Gain or No Gain?

By Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Retired Ambassador D. Bruce Wharton, Retired

Two retired members of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States provide an insightful look at the recent coup in Zimbabwe and then discuss that country’s future specifically and the efficacy of coups in general

Published Military Review March-April 2019, pg 6

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Review of The Democratic Coup d’État

By Robert F. Baumann, PhD

A historian and educator reviews The Democratic Coup d’État by Ozan Varol, which describes how military coups can sometimes help establish democratic governments

Published by Military Review May-June 2018, pg 104

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The Urban Individual Unassailable Source of Power in Twenty-First Century Armed Conflicts

The Urban Individual

Unassailable Source of Power in Twenty-First Century Armed Conflicts

By Lt. Col. Erik A. Claessen, Belgian Army

Winner of the 2015 Gen. William E. DePuy Combined Arms Center writing competition. The author shows that popular support may be a greater source of power than military might in urban conflicts.

Published in the Military Review November-December 2015 Edition, p 8.

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The Strategy of Protracted People's War: Uganda

The Strategy of Protracted People's War: Uganda

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni President of the Republic of Uganda

President Museveni presents thoughts and observations on the future of Africa and the moral factor in revolutionary warfare.

Published in the Military Review November-December 2008 Edition, p 4.

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Liberty Leading the People. 1830. Wikipedia

The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War

By Benjamin F. Jones, Benjamin A. Olken

Assassinations are a persistent feature of the political landscape. Using a new data set of assassination attempts on all world leaders from 1875 to 2004, we exploit inherent randomness in the success or failure of assassination attempts to identify assassination's effects. We find that, on average, successful assassinations of autocrats produce sustained moves toward democracy. We also find that assassinations affect the intensity of small-scale conflicts. The results document a contemporary source of institutional change, inform theories of conflict, and show that small sources of randomness can have a pronounced effect on history.

Published by National Bureau of Economic Research, May 2007

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Liberty Leading the People. 1830. Wikipedia

Coups and Democracy

By Nikolay Marinov
Hein Goemans

This study uses new data on coups d’état and elections to document a striking development: whereas the vast majority of successful coups before 1991 installed durable rules, the majority of coups after that have been followed by competitive elections. The article argues that after the Cold War, international pressure influenced the consequences of coups. In the post-Cold War era, countries that were most dependent on Western aid were the first to embrace competitive elections after their coups. This theory also helps explain the pronounced decline in the number of coups since 1991. While the coup d’état has been (and still is) the single most important factor leading to the downfall of democratic governments, these findings indicate that the new generation of coups has been far less harmful for democracy than their historical predecessors

Published by Cambridge University Press, 28 August 2013

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Color Revolutions in Russia: Possibility and Reality

Color Revolutions in Russia:

Possibility and Reality

By A.S. Brychkov and G.A. Nikonorov for Russia’s Journal of the Academy of Military Science
Translated by Boris Vainer
Foreword by Tom Wilhelm

This translation is provided in accordance with the publication requirements stated in the source: A.S. Brychkov and G.A. Nikonorov, “Color Revolutions in Russia: Possibility and Reality,” Vestnik Akademii Voennykh Nauk [Journal of the Academy of Military Sciences]

Published by FMSO Monographs, 21 March 2018.

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The Democratic Coup d’E´ tat - cover

The Democratic Coup d’E´ tat

Ozan O. Varol

In this article, "The Democratic Coup d’État", distinguished legal scholar Ozan Varol develops the controversial thesis that sometimes military coups lead to the establishment of democracy and not exclusively to the concentration of power in the hands of oppressive oligarchies or dictators so often associated with coups.

Published by Harvard International Law Journal, 5 October 2017

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