Coup Theories and Officers' Motives

Coup Theories and Officers' Motives: Sri Lanka in Comparative Perspective

Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Coup Theories and Officers' Motives
    Book Description:

    Donald Horowitz presents a case study of an attempted military coup in Sri Lanka. On the basis of interviews with twenty-three participants in this attempted coup--a mine of information rarely available for a study like this--he provides first-hand evidence of the way officers' motives interact with social and political conditions to foster coup attempts.

    Originally published in 1981.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5412-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Donald L. Horowitz
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Coup Theory: The Matter of Motive
    (pp. 3-30)

    More than twenty years have passed since the armed forces of the new states first served notice that they would play an active and enduring political role. Many hundreds of coup attempts later, theories of military intervention now abound. Yet no theory seems adequately to explain why coups happen in some countries and not in others.

    The diverse possibilities of social science explanation have been richly evident in this outpouring of theory. Evidentiary checks on theoretical development have been generally weak, and the links among theories have been tenuous. The life span of theories has been short; a new generation...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Sri Lanka Society and Political Change
    (pp. 31-52)

    There is no doubt that the 1962 coup plot would never have been devised had it not been for the dramatic social and political changes that took place in postindependence Sri Lanka. These changes affected the officers directly, by challenging many of the standards and values they had long held. The changes also fostered developments, many of a disruptive character, that required the officers to take appropriate action and make difficult choices. Political change also wrought subtle changes in the relationships of the military professionals to civilian authority. In all of these ways, the political developments of the dozen or...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The Armed Forces: Their Construction and Reconstruction
    (pp. 53-75)

    Into an environment of rapid change stepped the armed forces of Sri Lanka. Armed forces effectively means officer corps, for there is no evidence that the other ranks of any service entertained any plan of armed intervention. Who, then, were the officers, and how did the officer corps of the various services come to be composed as they were? I begin with the police and then turn to the army.

    It was not until the last quarter of the nineteenth century that non-Europeans were admitted to the gazetted ranks of assistant superintendent of police and above. As early as 1859,...

  9. CHAPTER 4 The Conspirators: A Profile
    (pp. 76-88)

    The social composition of the conspirators plays an important role in several theories of the coup d’état. To be sure, various theories seize on different attributes of the officers and analyze the relevance of these attributes in different ways. For some, the central variable is the class background of the men who make coups. For others, it is their ethnic or religious affiliation, their urban or rural origin, or their military rank and career history. In certain theoretical schemes, social attributes simply color the officers’ likely interpretation of their experience, whereas in others the groups to which the officers belong...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Personal, Familial, and Factional Motives
    (pp. 89-108)

    Three of the leading coup participants had well-known personal situations that might have contributed to their willingness to participate in a coup plot. One of them, Royce de Mel, had been the rear admiral commanding the navy until he and several other senior naval officers were cashiered in 1961 for smuggling goods into Sri Lanka on navy ships. Sidney de Zoysa, one of the principal plotters on the police side, had formerly been closely associated with the regime of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, which he had served as deputy inspector-general. After Bandaranaike’s assassination, however, de Zoysa had come under suspicion, and in...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Corporate Motives
    (pp. 109-129)

    “Organizations, and military ones are no exceptions, are perceived by their members to have certain ‘needs’ that must be fulfilled if the organization is to remain a going concern. The needs of military organizations include autonomy, hierarchical discipline, functional monopoly, security, prestige, honor, and an adequate level of supply inputs (i.e., men, equipment, training, and financial and policy support).”¹ Coups to preserve or advance such interests are frequently said to be motivated by corporate or organizational objectives, and, in recent years, more and more coups are alleged to have derived from such motives.

    The fact that the Ceylon plot was...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Social Allegiances and Segmental Motives
    (pp. 130-146)

    By the time the officers planned their coup, they felt free to act on the basis of their convictions. Objections to military intervention based on conceptions of political neutrality were brushed aside.

    The attempt to seize power was justified in various ways by the officers. It was permissible because it was not to be permanent: it was just an extension of emergency duty, designed to suppress strikes and “teach the country what was right.”¹ Military intervention would not result in military rule, but in a mainly civilian council, and that made a difference.² The army would not support one political...

  13. CHAPTER 8 The Political System and Coup Motives
    (pp. 147-178)

    Not this or that grievance, but a coherent picture of what was wrong in Sri Lanka, moved the officers to plot against the Bandaranaike regime. At this point, therefore, I propose to let the officers speak more spontaneously and fully than they have so far on the political conditions they found objectionable. I then intend to pinpoint some of the sources of the officers’ beliefs and to specify some of the mechanisms by which their beliefs were translated into a will to act. An accurate depiction of motives will require a portrayal of the interaction between the officers’ beliefs and...

  14. CHAPTER 9 Interpreting Intervention: Sri Lanka and the Developing World
    (pp. 179-222)

    The Sri Lanka materials have several contributions to make to an understanding of the military coup. First, they suggest the directions of an explanation for military intervention that can integrate, on a functional basis, the respective parts played by diverse conditions in a single coup conspiracy. Second, the case-study materials shed light on some of the specific issues of coup theory that have been much disputed, especially the question of organizational boundaries and the role of class allegiances in coups. Third, the Sri Lanka plot seems rather clearly to be a specimen of a particular class of coup plots. Because...

  15. APPENDIX: A Note on the Interviews
    (pp. 223-232)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 233-239)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 240-240)