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Military Coups d’État and Their Causes  

Fabrice Lehoucq

There have been three waves of scholarship on military coups d’état (or simply “coups”)—the unconstitutional replacement of chief executives by military officers—since the 1960s. The first used case studies to explore why the military overthrows governments. One of its central findings was that military uprisings were an integral part of political succession in many countries. A second wave produced the “aggregate studies” that were the first to deploy cross-national databases to identify the measurable features that distinguished more from less coup-prone political systems. These studies revealed, among other things, that coups proliferated in places with a history of instability. The third and current wave of scholarship takes advantage of the development of statistical software for limited dependent variables—then unavailable, now commonplace—to recast the quantitative research on coups. Two core findings have survived disconfirmation since the start of the third wave. First, higher income countries have fewer coups, though the effects are small (and become even weaker when models only contain developing countries). Second, “political legacy effects” mean that the probability of a coup declines with time since the last military uprising. Much of the latest wave of research pinpoints factors—like coup proofing, less inequality, or the end of the Cold War—that reduce the probability of a coup. The development of ever more sophisticated statistical techniques to divine the causes of instability, nevertheless, relies on off-the-shelf data sets and coup catalogs whose validity—properly understood as accuracy—is questionable. Only a greater attention to accuracy and complementary methods promise to produce a comprehensive account of why the military topples governments in some, but not in other, places.

Article

Afghanistan: Martial Society Without Military Rule  

Amin Tarzi

Since its inception as a separate political entity in 1747, Afghanistan has been embroiled in almost perpetual warfare but has never been ruled directly by the military. From initial expansionist military campaigns to involvement in defensive, civil, and internal consolidation campaigns, the Afghan military until the mid-19th century remained mainly a combination of tribal forces and smaller organized units. The central government, however, was only able to gain tenuous monopoly over the use of violence throughout the country by the end the 19th century. The military as well as the Afghan society remained largely illiterate and generally isolated from the prevailing global political and ideological trends until the middle of the 20th century. The politicization of the Afghan military began in very small numbers after World War II, with Soviet-inspired communism gaining the largest foothold. Officers associated with the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan were instrumental in two successful coups d’état in the country. In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, ending the country’s sovereignty and ushering in a period of conflict that has continued into the third decade of the 21st century in varying degrees. In 2001, the United States led an international invasion of the country, which was followed by efforts to organize smaller, professional Afghan national defense forces, which remained largely apolitical and became the country’s most effective and trusted governmental institution. However, designed by foreign forces to support foreign goals, they disintegrated when left to defend the country independently against the Taliban in 2021. The Taliban may represent a new phenomenon in Afghanistan, that of having a politicized militarized force.

Article

Agencification in Public Administration  

Koen Verhoest, Sandra van Thiel, and Steven F. De Vadder

Agencification is the creation of semi-autonomous agencies: organizations charged with public tasks like policy implementation, regulation, and public service delivery, operating at arm’s length from the government. Although not a new development, agencification became very popular from the 1980s on as part of the New Public Management reforms. Three types of agencies can be distinguished, based predominantly on their formal legal features. Type 1 agencies have some managerial autonomy but do not have their own legal identity separate from the state or their parent ministry. Type 2 agencies are organizations and bodies with managerial autonomy that have their own legal identity separate from the state or their parent ministry. Type 3 organizations have their own legal identity vested in, and defined by, private law and are established by, or on behalf of, the government in the form of a private law corporation, company, or a foundation, but they are predominantly controlled by government and are at least partially involved in executing public tasks. Specific characteristics of agencies differ between countries and findings show few systematic patterns: similar tasks are charged to different types of agencies. A crucial element in the functioning of agencies is the formal and de facto interplay of autonomy and control, and how this can be explained in a static and dynamic way. Studies about agencification list three main categories of its effects: economic, organizational, and political effects. However, there is still a lot that needs to be studied about agencification, its forms, and its effects.

Article

Burkina Faso: Military Responses to Popular Pressures  

Daniel Eizenga

Burkina Faso’s military holds an important place in politics. It has intervened in Burkina Faso’s politics, temporarily taking power seven times, first in 1966 and most recently in 2015. Military officers have long held many of the most prominent political offices, and military coups d’état have been the most common method of transferring political power in Burkina Faso. Military interventions have typically addressed moments of political failure and widespread civil unrest. Political agitation from different groups in civil society has pressured every government that has come to power, and the government’s ability to manage these popular pressures has been a key feature in the military’s relationship with any given regime. This was particularly the case in the 1980s, when ideological divisions within the military resulted in four coups d’état, but it was also of consequential importance during Burkina Faso’s 2014–2015 political transition. The 27-year rule of Blaise Compaoré set in motion a process of institutional reform that expanded civilian authority over the administration of the military. However, it also saw the rise of preferential treatment for certain units of the military, in particular the presidential guard, which provided protection to the regime during moments of civil unrest until 2014. The gradual liberalization of the political system culminated in unprecedented civil unrest in 2014, and Compaoré was ousted from power in what is commonly referred to as a popular insurrection. The political transition following the events of 2014 led to the first peaceful transfer of power between civilian governments in Burkina Faso’s history and marked a potential shift in the military’s relationship with politics. The military’s political role in Burkina Faso often has been dictated by popular pressures on the political system, but gradual democratic reforms during the 1990s and 2000s helped to inculcate norms of civilian control over the military. While much remains to be seen about the future of Burkina Faso’s military in politics, the opportunity for the country’s political institutions to manage popular pressures on its government may indicate a new era of civilian governance and at least the possibility of reducing the military’s interference in politics.

Article

Citizens’ Assemblies and Democracy  

Antonin Lacelle-Webster and Mark E. Warren

Even as most citizens of electoral democracies remain strongly committed to democratic values, most electoral democracies are suffering from democratic deficits that are eroding their legitimacy. There are deficits of inclusion, as elected governments often poorly represent those who are less educated or less wealthy or who belong to ethnic, religious, racial, or other minorities. There are deficits of deliberativeness, as governments fail to learn from experts and everyday citizens alike. And, increasingly, there are deficits of collective capacity, often the result of governments that are gridlocked by polarization and unable to marshal the political resources to address tough problems, such as climate change and migration. Democracies do, however, reinvent themselves, often by supplementing the legacy institutions of electoral democracy with innovative ways of deepening democracy. Among the most promising innovations are citizens’ assemblies, a kind of deliberative minipublic comprised of lay citizens selected through near-random methods to represent a broader public. These bodies are typically tasked with learning and deliberating about a problem and providing recommendations. In contrast to sitting legislatures, citizens’ assemblies are typically convened for a single issue or purpose, and they are closely defined in their mandate. As of 2020, there were over 20 cases of citizens’ assemblies, covering a range of issues (e.g., electoral reform, climate change, abortion, and urban planning), enabling some generalization about their capacities and promise. Owing to their high degree of representativeness of ordinary citizens, their capacities to learn and deliberate, and their abilities to break through difficult or gridlocked issues, citizens’ assemblies have considerable promise to address democratic deficits and to deepen democracy when they are carefully inserted into the political ecologies of modern democracies.

Article

Crisis Mapping and Crowdsourcing in Complex Emergencies  

Jen Ziemke, Buddhika Jayamaha, and Molly M. Jahn

Crisis mappers secure satellite imagery, photos, video, event data, incident data, and other documentary evidence to create an operational picture of a disaster in order to facilitate improved humanitarian response and assistance in a crisis. The era of human-powered crisis mapping between 2009 and 2014 was a bootstrapped effort very much a function of the peculiar state of technological development at the time—available but not yet formalized, streamlined, and automated. Humans filled the gap until machine assistance could catch up. These efforts, often mundane (e.g., cut and paste over and over for hours), were more reflective of the state of technology at the time than anything else. Another precondition that enabled the field to grow is the often taken-for-granted public good provided by the GPS satellites maintained by the U.S. Air Force. Without this service, the project at the time would not have emerged where and when it did. The future will be shaped as a result of improvements in automated forms of data collection; improved machine learning techniques to help filter, identify, visualize, and analyze the data; and the proliferation of low-cost drones and other forms of sensors, to name a few.

Article

Foreign Military Training and Coups d’État  

Jesse Dillon Savage

There has long been concern that foreign military training could increase the coup propensity of recipient militaries. Alternatively, others have held the hope that such training could be used as a development tool to help improve the normative outlook of militaries and increase their respect for civilian control. The primary goal of such training is rarely to improve, or worsen for that matter, civil–military relations in the recipient state. Instead, donor or provider states are usually aiming to strengthen their own security and strategic positions. If there is a relationship between training and civil–military relations, these effects are mostly, then, second-order effects. The academic study of the issue has often reflected this divide, though many have been skeptical of any effect at all. Along with the theoretical differences regarding the effects of foreign military training, empirical results have been mixed. While some have found a relationship between training and coups, other studies have found the opposite. These divergent results can be attributed to a few factors. First, the field of civil–military relations lacks a solid empirical understanding of the effects of military education and training in general, let alone how foreign military training fits into this. Second, the theoretical arguments lack appropriate refinement. This has led to possible misspecification of empirical models or a failure of construct validity. Finally, most research has failed to account for heterogeneous effects from different donors in different political contexts.

Article

Foundations of Responsive Crisis Management: Institutional Design and Information  

Kees Boersma and Jeroen Wolbers

The requirements for effective and responsive crisis management have developed significantly in the face of proliferating transboundary crises and rising societal demands during the information revolution. As crises disturb more and more societal strata and rapidly span across different types of networks, traditional crisis structures need to become more open and responsive. To deal with these contemporary requirements of crisis management, renewed institutional designs are needed. Institutional designs reflect the shared rules, norms, and belief systems that are established as guidelines for social behavior, which shape the nature of decision making, coordination, and information-sharing processes. In practical terms, the call for more engaged crisis management cumulates in the process of developing situational awareness (SA) through the common operational picture (COP) in traditional institutional designs like the Incident Command System (ICS). Two opposing crisis information management doctrines can be defined in this process: the information warehouse and the trading zone. The dominant warehouse doctrine presupposes that all crisis information can be gathered, synthesized, and disseminated in a uniform and unambiguous way. The trading zone doctrine contrasts this assumption by stressing the importance of negotiation through which the meaning, value, and consequences of crisis information is debated and assessed. Institutional designs based on the trading zone doctrine offer a foundation for a more responsive and societally engaged form of crisis management, as they are more sensitive to the (social) stratification and competing demands that are often found in contemporary transboundary crises.

Article

Gender and the Military in Western Democracies  

Helena Carreiras

Military institutions have been considered “gendered organizations” because gender is persistently related therein to the production and allocation of material and symbolic resources. Western states’ militaries consistently, even if unevenly, display three basic traits through which gendering occurs: the existence of structural divisions of labor and power along gender lines, organizational culture and ideology based on a distinction between masculinity and femininity, and patterns of interaction and identity formation that reflect these structural and ideological constraints. Although women’s representation has been growing, and women have been accessing new roles, positions, and occupations in unprecedented numbers, their participation is statistically limited and substantially uneven. Notable differences between countries also exist. At a macro-sociological level, factors that explain these differences relate to the degree of convergence between armed forces and society, external political pressures, military organizational format, and the level of gender equality in society at large. From a micro-sociological perspective, research shows that, because of their minority situation and less valued status in an organization normatively defined as masculine, women still have to face the negative consequences of tokenism: performance pressures, social isolation, and role encapsulation. However, this research also highlights two important conclusions. The first is that there is significant variation in individual and organizational responses depending on context; the second, that conditions for successful gender integration depend on specific combinations of structural, cultural, and policy dimensions: the existence or absence of institutional support, changes in the composition of groups, increase in the number of women, type of work, occupational status, level of shared experience, changing values of younger cohorts, and quality of leadership. The Women, Peace and Security agenda, evolving from the approval of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000, has become the major reference framework to evaluate progress in this respect at both domestic and international levels. Despite the existence of an extremely robust set of norms, policies, and instruments, and the recognition of their transformative potential, results have been considered to lag behind expectations. Improving implementation and enhancing gender integration in the military will require context-sensitive and knowledge-driven policies, the reframing of an essentialist discourse linking women’s participation in international missions to female stereotypical characteristics, and greater congruence between national policies and the international agenda.

Article

Policy Instruments and Administrative Capacities  

Kai Wegrich

Administrative capacities are required to give effect to policy instruments. While seemingly obvious, policy research has, as yet, not systematically linked these two perspectives. The policy instrument perspective emerged in the context of implementation research and the wider debate about changing modes of governance. Administrative capacities and resources always played a role in this research, but cumulative empirical exploration or theory building has remained underdeveloped. A stronger integration of administrative capacity perspectives into research on policy instruments is essential so as to progress our understanding regarding the choice, design, and operation of policy instruments. A stronger policy orientation in research on administrative capacities can help to address limitations of indicator-based studies of capacity, which currently dominate empirical research on administrative capacities. The design and choice of policy instruments has an effect on administrative capacities: Capacity-reinforcing policies can be distinguished from capacity-undermining ones. A challenge for future research is under which conditions will politicians invest in administrative capacities, an investment that will only yield (uncertain) positive outcomes in the medium term.