Coup d'tat of USA: scenarios?

Subject header is misspelled: d’état
I’m sure the Secret Service is aware of my book plans. The novel is about how military components, charismatic leaders, sympathetic crowds domestic and foreign (and local and high-level leadership, domestic and foreign) could take over the White House w/o anyone, uh, voting.

A simpler question: has there ever been an attempt at a military coup in the US (not counting the Civil War)?

Well, you’ve got this: :stuck_out_tongue:

On a more serious note, there was the Business Plot in 1933. Exactly how close this was to an actual coup attempt is debatable.

Check out the movie: Seven Days in May.

I am one of the doubters of the Business Plot.

One of the things we’ve seen in the Middle East is that the military is not some monolithic machine, but a bunch of human beings. In Egypt, they had too much contact with the civilian population to want to protect the government. In Libya, the military has disappeared. In the East, solders and officers have thrown their support to the rebels. In Tripoli, Qadaffi has to rely on mercenaries to keep the government in power. Many officers and government officials have resigned and moved over to the rebel side.

Coups happen when there is no long democratic tradition, so solders aren’t worried about overthrowing a legitimate government. Many times, the military has its own power base such as the ability to get cash without having to depend upon government budgets. This could be the illegal drug trade, or the military owning profit making businesses.

The problem with the Business Plot is somehow they’d all march on Washington and seize the controls of the nation. Yet, Washington is a minor city. Besides, you have fifty state governments to contend with.

There have been comparisons with Mussolini’s march or Rome, but the March on Rome wasn’t just a “march on Rome”. By the time the march took place, many Northern Italian cities were already in the hands of the Fascists who overthrew the legitimate governments of those cities. Fascists were also strong in the military which could not be trusted to protect the government in Rome.

In Southern Italy, Fascists and Communists militias were battling in the streets. By the time the Fascists reached Rome, Italy was on the brink of a civil war between Fascists and Communists.

It would have taken more than a veterans march on Washington to do what Butler claimed would have happened.

I’m not an expert but it seems there are various sources and levels of power and influence in the US. City, county, state and federal governments. Legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. Police, military, national guard & corrections authority. Media, public opinion, organized labor.

You’d probably have to overthrow or make people lose faith in most of them for a successful national coup to happen. And that seems pretty hard. Plus the alternative has to seem more appealing. Plus the only groups that talk of coups (extreme left and right wing groups like the weathermen or montana militias) aren’t more appealing than the current system.

A severe economic depression & a massive terror attack & the eventual breaking that the terror attack was a false flag event (like the movie V for Vendetta) that was covered up by government and judiciary might lead to enough loss of faith in the institutions to have a revolt.

But in the US even in times of economic hardship, things aren’t ‘that’ bad compared to historical times. Antibiotics are still $4 at walmart, and a loaf of bread is still $1. People in the US have to live with far less dignity and autonomy due to the recession, but by and large basic medicine and nutrition is still affordable and I don’t know if a successful revolt happens as long as that is the case.

My guess is that the conspirators weren’t expecting Butler to actually overthrow the government. At best, they were probably just hoping to cause a panic from the attempt that could be used as an excuse to enact some “provisional emergency” system that they could then control. Or failing that, scare the New Dealers from trying anything too radical for fear of provoking another coup attempt.

In addition to the 1933 plot, you had the Burr-Wilkinson plot. They weren’t trying to take over the entire country but they were working on some big plan.

“I am in charge here”

Alexander Haig


Along these lines, IIRC, Sec of Defense, James R. Schlesinger, requested SAC keep him apprised if any ‘unusual’ orders came from Nixon during his final days in office.

(I believe Cecil has addressed this)

I don’t think the universal mass mmind-control machine is located in the White House, so it wouldn’t have much effect other than that the revolutionaries now had a pretty white building.

Happened 3 times already actually, 2000, 2002, and 2004.

As Saddam Hussein said, “It’s not the votes that count, it’s who counts the votes.”

Florida. is interesting.

It was not a coup by any stretch. But it was clearly a case of the US military high command getting way the heck out of whack versus their proper role & boundaries.

Certain whack-jobs believe Kennedy was killed for putting a stop to it. I don’t begin to buy that, but it is pretty chilling to see just how far off the rails the JCS & their inner circle had gotten.

If you imagined a scenario nowadays where enough folks in the upper echelons really bought into the whole hard-right birther *Obama is a Muslim sleeper agent *nuttery, you can see how things could real wacky (& deadly) before common sense finally prevailed.

I think the biggest two sticking points that wouldn’t allow a successful banana republic style coup d’etat in the US are:

  1. Mostly sovereign states. This is probably the biggest one. Someone could take over Washington, but you better believe that a majority of the states would forcibly resist any sort of extreme usurpation of power like a coup d’etat. The US military is fundamentally different than most 3rd world militaries where the loyalty of the soldiers and officers is frequently with the person, not the state. Our soldiers aren’t loyal to say… David Petraeus or Barack Obama personally, but rather to the USA and the Constitution.

  2. Volunteer citizen army with allegiance to the constitution, not the president or commanders. In the case of some sort of coup d’etat, the military would likely be on the side of the states, or the Congress, not whoever the coup d’etat planners were.

Any sort of US coup d’etat would pretty much have to be cloaked in legality and proper democratic procedure, and would likely have to pass the Supreme Court.

I don’t think there was any actual attempt at a coup, but Truman’s dismissal of Douglas MacArthur was very unpopular among some people, including some in Congress.


Seconding seeing Seven Days in May. The book is even better. Here’s the Wiki article on both:

JFK supposedly told a friend he thought that a military coup in the U.S. was a remote possibility, if an unpopular President made a number of whopping big mistakes in a row (think several Bay of Pigs), seemed out of his depth in the next crisis, and if a charismatic top military officer was then able to put himself forward as an alternative leader “to save the nation.” I suppose that’s remotely feasible, but doubt a junta could take hold and hang onto power, given the size of the country, the diffusion of power among the states through Federalism, and the fact that such a coup would be utterly contrary to American law and tradition. Hell, we had elections in the middle of the Civil War. No way are the great mass of Americans going to sit still for a coup to depose even a stinkeroo of a President.

==Gore v. Bush?

Could we cut out the middle man by just having the folks in the Secret Service be the ones who decide to quietly take over the White House? (Heck, who’s to say they haven’t done it already? I mean, the President is already surrounded by those gun-toting folks at all times, right?)

Interesting story. Harold Russell, the guy who played the disabled vet in The Best Years of Our Lives, was of course a real disabled veteran (although he was in the Army not the Navy). Russell was very active in veterans’ organizations.

When Truman fired MacArthur, Russell addressed veterans groups and offered public support for Truman’s decision. He spoke about the importance of having the military subordinate to civilian control.

Obama loses the 2012 election.

January 2013, he declares martial law and refuses to leave office.

Would this be possible?