Sunday, April 16, 2006

Talking of coups

Ever since the Seymour Hirsch piece on Iran came out, the word coup d'etat has started slipping into the conversation. People have been saying that The Generals are fed up with Rummy, and by extension, Bushco. Fair enough. But what do they really mean when the stick in the phrase coup d'etat.

Having lived though an attempted one, I tend to fixate on that word a little bit. To me it isn't just a throw-away phrase - to me it means blood in the streets and men with guns, social unrest and widespread looting. To me it means the picture of Police Headquarters in flames, a picture in which you can see a separate set of flames coming, probably, from the police constable on sentry duty who was run down and killed when the Jamaat members stormed the building and blew it up.

So what does coup d'etat mean in a US context? Is it just hyperbole? The idea of changing the government by non-electoral means seems far-fetched. Unlike with Nixon, Congress isn't going to impeach Bush. The Republican majority is far too closely tied to him. Even if "The Generals" are pushing for something, I can't see the current set doing anything like that. I've seen the US President removed from office twice on 24, and I assume it will happen again this season. But I don't see "The Generals" having the leverage to get Cabinet to remove Bush. So what do they mean? Probably nothing. But emporers changed in Rome when an army fighting somewhere out in the provinces revolted, proclaimed its general emporer, and marched on Rome. As the new Rome (mired in unwinnable conflicts in Mesopotamia, much like the Romans tended to be), is the US susceptible to direct military overthrow? I hope not. As much as I dislike Bush, I can't say that the prospect of that sort of a regime change appeals to me in the least.

Still puzzling over coup d'etat. Probably just an internet meme...