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1) #Coup: As the #Venezuela crisis unfolds, sovereign people are wise to follow the time-tested advice of the great Edward Luttwak, from his classic, Coup d'Etat: A Practical Handbook (Harvard, 1968, revised 2016). This thread will guide you through the best points of the book.
2) #Coup: "The power of the modern state largely depends on [the] permanent machinery [of bureaucracy and armed forces], which, with its archives, files, records, and officials, can control intimately the activities of lesser organizations and individuals." (2016 edition, p. 1)
3) #Coup: Bureaucracies have features necessary for a coup: "the emergence of clear distinctions between the permanent machinery of state and the political leadership, and the fact that state bureaucracies have structured hierarchies with definite chains of command." (1-2)
4) #Coup: "The coup ... can be conducted from the 'outside' and operates in the area outside the government but within the state - the area formed by the permanent, professional civil service, the armed force, and the police." (2)
5) #Coup: "The aim is to detach the permanent employees of the state from the political leadership." (2)
6) #Coup: "the state bureaucracy has to divide its work into clear-cut areas of competence, which are assigned to different departments. Within each department, there must be an accepted chain of command, and standardized procedures have to be followed." (4)
7) #Coup: "The apparatus of the state, is, therefore, to some extent a 'machine' that will normally behave in a fairly predictable and automatic manner. A coup operates by taking advantage of this machinelike behavior both during and after the takeover...." (4)
8) #Coup: Luttwak classifies 6 different types of regime change: Revolution, Civil War, Pronunciamiento, Putsch, Liberation, and War of National Liberation or Insurgency. (7-10) We'll look at a few as they relate to #Venezuela.
9) #Coup: A "Pronunciamiento" is a Latino version of a military coup d'etat. "The pronunciamiento was often a liberal rather than reactionary phenomenon ... organized and led by a particular army leader, but it was carried out in the name of the entire officer corps." (6-7)
10) #Coup: A "putsch" is "carried out by a faction within the army." A coup "can ... be executed by civilians using some army units," but "the pronunciamiento leads to a takeover by the army as a whole." (9)
11) #Coup: "A coup d'etat . . . consists of the infiltration of a small but critical segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder." (11-12)
12) #Coup: "Much of the planning and execution of a coup will be directed at influencing the decision of the elite.... As the coup will not usually represent a threat to most of the elite, the choice is between the great dangers of opposition and the safety of inaction." (25-26)
13) #Coup: "at all levels, the most likely course of action following a coup is acceptance: by the masses & the lower bureaucracy because their interests are not tied with either side, and by the upper levels of the bureaucracy because of the great dangers of any opposition" (28)
14) #Coup: "Overthrowing governments is not easy. The government will not only be protected by the professional defenses of the state - the armed forces, the police, and the security services - but will also be supported by a whole range of political forces." (52)
15) #Coup: "we want to seize power within the present system, and we shall only stay in power if we embody the new status quo supported by those very forces that a revolution may seek to destroy." (53)
16) #Coup: "Our strategy ... must be guided by two principal considerations: the need for maximum speed in the transitional phase, and the need to fully neutralize the opposition both before and immediately after the coup." (54)
17) #Coup: "If, in the operational phase of the coup, we are at any stage delayed, then our essential weakness will emerge...." (54)
18) #Coup: "As long as the execution of the coup is rapid, and we are cloaked in anonymity, no particular political faction will have a motive or an opportunity to oppose us....a delay will cost us our principal advantage: The voluntary neutrality of the 'wait and see' elements."
19) #Coup: "The need for maximum speed means that the many separate operations of the coup must be carried out almost simultaneously - necessarily requiring the efforts of a large number of people." (54)
20) #Coup: "most of the personnel we will need must be recruited.... our recruits must have the training and equipment that will enable them to take swift and predetermined action. There will usually be only one source of such recruits: the armed forces of the state itself." (54)
21) #Coup: "The fact that personnel of the state security system are both numerous & diverse means that we...will be able to infiltrate the system....[with] the dual task of turning a few of its component units into active participants of the coup, while neutralizing the others."
22) #Coup: "Armies are divided into certain traditional formations ... such has divisions, battalions, companies, and platoons. Beyond this formal structure ... the focus of decision making is usually concentrated at one or two particular levels." (69)
23) #Coup: "very important to identify which level of command is the important one and then concentrate our efforts on it...When we have determined which is the true operational echelon...we can [identify] which formations have the capability to intervene for or against the coup.
24) #Coup: "Our next problem ... is to identify the key individuals within those units of the armed forces that are capable of intervening, for or against us, during the coup." (75)
25) #Coup: "As we have already determined the operational echelon within each particular formation and implicitly identified the leaders, we can now turn to the identification of the technicians [pilots, ground staff, guards, control tower personnel, comms staff, etc.]" (75-76)
26) #Coup: "when we are trying to neutralize a formation of the armed forces, we should do so through the cooperation of 'technicians,' rather than 'leaders,' because the former are both more effective individually and easier (and safer) to recruit." (76)
27) #Coup: "The second rule, other things being equal, is that we should choose for neutralization those units with the most complex organizations, while choosing the simplest ones for incorporation." (76)
28) #Coup: "Before we go on to approach and persuade the key individuals to join us (thus giving us effective control of their units), we must have collected sufficient information on the armed forces to know" the following:
29) #Coup: "(a) which of the military unites could intervene at the time and place of the coup; (b) the real command structure within the relevant units, and who the leaders are; (c) the technical structure of the units, and who the technicians are." (77)
30) #Coup: "Senior officers especially are amazingly expendable. In [key instances] many such abandoned their commands following the respective revolutions, yet the armies they left behind experienced a sudden increase in their effectiveness." (77)
31) #Coup: "while the leaders we recruit could (and should) be estranged from the supreme hierarchy, they must not be 'outsider' figures who are not trusted by their fellow officers and men." (87)
32) #Coup: "Once the idea of the coup has gained a measure of acceptance in the mind of our potential recruit, we should define the coup in terms of his role within it." (94)
33) #Coup: "This will not imply that we will reveal any of the operational detail, but we should make it quite clear that: (a) his role will be limited to a few specific actions, (b) almost everybody in his unit is already with us, and (c) ... his role will be a safe one." (94)
34) #Coup: "Information is the greatest asset we have, and much of our advantage in the planning stage will derive from the fact that, while we know a great deal about the defenses of the state, whose who control them know very little about us." (94)
35) #Coup: "Neutralizing the police: . . . The strategy of the coup with respect to the police system of our target country will, therefore, have to be as diversified as its component parts." (97-104)
36) #Coup: "The mentality of the paramilitary police may be bureaucratic - i.e., concerned with jobs and careers . . . if this is the case, a minimal degree of intervention can be expected." (105-106)
37) #Coup: "On the other hand, [the paramilitary police] mentality may be parallel to that of the army - i.e., concerned with loyalty and honor (as well as jobs and careers) - or reflect a political association. . . ." (106)
38) #Coup: "I have been unable to find a single case in the last 20 years of a paramilitary police force that has actually defended its political masters during a coup - though there are several cases of their intervention on behalf of a coup." (106)
39) #Coup: Rural police "will almost never have an intervention potential against a coup." (106)
40) #COUP: "With urban and national police, the "main components will be just as ineffective against a coup. . . . they may be useful as a riot-breaking force when suitably concentrated [but] are unlikely to act against armed opponents in a major political crisis." (107)
41) #Coup: "Neutralizing the Security Agencies: "Unlike the armed forces and the police, the security agencies will be actively trying to identify and defeat threats posed by groups such as ours. . . ." (109)
42) #Coup: "unlike the armed forces and police, [the security agencies'] organizations, deployment, and personnel cannot usually be studied with precision from the outside, and even their existence may not be known to us." (109)
43) #Coup: "the bureaucratic animal in its natural state has certain characteristic patterns of behavior: it grows in size and extends its sphere of action until checked by some outside force. This role is usually played by the financial bureaucracy..." (109)
44) #Coup: Counterintelligence - "from our point of view, this sector will be the most important.... Much of our planning and infiltration work will be indistinguishable from that which could be carried out by a foreign intelligence service...." (111-112)
45) #Coup: Counterespionage "is the most subtle and sophisticated of all the functions. It covers deliberate contacts with opposition intelligence services in order to feed them disinformation and penetrate, or even disrupt their organizations." (112)
46) #Coup: "counterintelligence ... relates to counterespionage as a butcher does to a surgeon." (112)
47) #Coup: "Internal (Political) Security ... is another sensitive area from our point of view. Its specific function is the prevention of exactly what we aim to do: overthrow the government." (112)
48) #Coup: "we will not try to create a direct line by infiltrating any security service because if we do so there will be the very great danger that they will use any contact in order to infiltrate us." (113)
49) #Coup: "In order to run a secure operation, we will follow rules that derive from the basic assumption that all information about our activities is a source of danger as soon as it exists outside the minds of our inner group." (113)
50) #Coup: "political security agencies are necessarily sensitive to political trends, and they may decide to join the group planning a coup if they know that it is well organized and ready to seize power." (115)
51) #Coup: "Wait-and-see is the attitude that usually favors a coup." (117)
52) #Coup: "Immediate political power is always concentrated in the country's government, but in every country and under all political systems, there will be groups outside the government - and even outside formal politics - which also have political power." (119)
53) #Coup: "What is of importance is their ability to participate in the formation of governments, and, later, to influence the decisions of those governments." (119)
54) #Coup: "Politics, like economics, has its infrastructure. Just as industry and commerce require a background of facilities such as roads, ports, and energy sources, direct political action requires certain technical facilities." (122)
55) #Coup: "Our general neutralization of the 'political' forces will be conducted in terms of this infrastructure. We will seize and hold such facilities as we require for our own purposes, while temporarily putting the others out of action." (122)
56) #Coup: "If the means of communication and the transport system are under our control, or at any rate do not function, the potential threat posed by the 'political forces' will be largely neutralized. . . ." (122-123)
57) #Coup: ". . . the leaders of the pre-coup government will be arrested, since they are part of the infrastructure and they would probably be the major sources of inspiration of any opposition to the coup." (123)
58) #Coup: "We will neutralize some political forces in particular by identifying and isolating their leadership and by disrupting their organizations; this will only be necessary for those forces sufficiently resilient and sufficiently militant to intervene against us..." (123)
59) #Coup: "However bloodless our coup, however progressive and liberal our aims, we will still have to arrest certain individuals during and immediately after its execution. Of these, the most important group will be formed by the leading figures of the pre-coup regime..." (124)
60) #Coup: "Since our resources will be limited, we will have to concentrate our efforts on the most important figures within the group, leaving the others to be picked up later when our means will have been expanded by the allegiance of the 'wait-and-see' element." (125)
61) #Coup: "The Inner Council & Controllers of the Means of Coercion...must be sequestered and held in isolation until our authority is safely established. Apart from service ministers, etc, any government leader who is personally particularly popular should be included..." (130)
62) #Coup: Regardless of online media, "control over the mass media emanating from the political center will still be our most important weapon in establishing our authority after the coup." (131)
63) #Coup: "our control of the physical access to the capital city will also serve other purposes. It will be one of the ways in which we will establish the physical presence of the new regime, & it will also allow us to prevent the escape of governmental leaders & other persons"
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