Late last week we brought you a collection of vivid images from a military coup in the West African nation of Burkina Faso where forces aligned with former President Blaise Compaoré arrested the acting President and Prime Minister ahead of democratic elections planned for October.
To be sure, most observers would argue that the idea of military coups like the one described above occurring with any sort of regularity in the context of the developed world is far-fetched at best, but a growing disaffection with what many see as endemic corruption and ineptitude has not only served to catapult two dark horse presidential candidates to the top of the polls in the US but apparently has some Americans convinced that a military takeover might be preferable to the current system of governance as the following poll (which admittedly suffers from selection bias) from YouGov shows:
Well, don’t look now but the ascension of Jeremy Corbyn to the head of Britain’s Labour party has led at least one senior serving general to predict that a Corbyn government would face the very real possibility of a military “mutiny”. Here’s more from The Independent:
The unnamed general said members of the armed forces would begin directly and publicly challenging the labour leader if he tried to scrap Trident, pull out of Nato or announce “any plans to emasculate and shrink the size of the armed forces.”
He told the Sunday Times: “The Army just wouldn’t stand for it. The general staff would not allow a prime minister to jeopardise the security of this country and I think people would use whatever means possible, fair or foul to prevent that. You can’t put a maverick in charge of a country’s security.
“There would be mass resignations at all levels and you would face the very real prospect of an event which would effectively be a mutiny.”
The general, who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, said he and many soldiers were sickened by Mr Corbyn’s refusal to condemn the IRA, which killed 730 troops and injured 7,000 more during the conflict.
His shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, was forced to apologise when it was revealed he had called for IRA members, including hunger striker Bobby Sands, to be honoured by the British government.
The general said: “Many soldiers are disgusted by the comments of Corbyn and John McDonnell [about] the IRA — men who have not only murdered British soldiers but also hundreds of members of their own community.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense is not happy, and neither, apparently, are Corbyn’s political opponents who seemingly would prefer to live with a Corbyn government than see Britain relegated to the status of a mid-20th century South American banana republic. Here’s The Independent again:
“You can’t have serving officers effectively threatening a coup against an elected government,” they said. “This general seems to have forgotten that we live in a democracy.” A Ministry of Defence source said it was unacceptable for a serving officer to make political comments about a potential “future government”.
Even some Conservatives expressed disquiet. The right-wing Tory MEP Daniel Hannan described the general as an “idiot”. “We’re not Bolivia for God’s sake,” he said.
Of course the thing about military coups is that they don’t, by definition, depend upon whether politicians think they are “idiotic”, which is why, in a world where polls in developed markets seem to suggest that voters’ sentiments are beginning to shift towards the far ends of the political spectrum (see Greece, Spain, the US, Britain, and Portugal for instance), one certainly wonders what might happen if, in a desperate attempt to bring about real “change”, voters make a “mistake” that the army decides needs be corrected outside of the ballot box…