The Man on Horseback: The Role of the Military in Politics

By S. E. Finer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
The Military in the Politics of Today

THE year 1962 opened with brisk outbursts of military revolt. Four risings -- those in the Lebanon, Portugal, Turkey and Venezuela -- were unsuccessful, but the month of March witnessed three victorious revolts in quick succession. In Burma, General Ne Win deposed the government and established direct military rule. In Argentina the armed forces removed President Frondizi and set up a Provisional President in his place. In Syria, exactly six months after the 1961 coup, military factions first swept away the civilian régime and then, quarrelling among themselves, restored it.

The date of the unsuccessful Lebanon rising, between the last day of the old year and the first day of the new, was symbolical: in all this military activity, 1962 was but continuing where 1961 had left off. For 1961 was also a busy one for the armed forces. They overthrew the provisional government in El Salvador in January. In April the 'Four Generals' staged their unsuccessful coup in Algeria. In May it was the turn of the South Korean army; it overthrew its government and established a thorough-going military dictatorship. In August, the Brazilian armed forces strove to prevent Vice-President Senhor Goulart's accession to the Presidency (which had been vacated by the resignation of President Quadros). In September the army of the Syrian province of the U.A.R. revolted, drove the Egyptian officials out, and established a government for an independent Syria. In November Ecuador's army and air forces clashed as to who was to succeed the President -- who had himself resigned as the result of a military revolt.

Nor was 1961 very different from 1960. That year had seen the Turkish army revolt of May, and the establishment of General

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