Calling A Coup A Coup

Jay Ulfelder insists that the overthrow of Morsi was a coup:

Force deployed? Check. By political insiders? Check. Chief executive replaced? Check. Legal procedures not followed? Check. That the army’s apparent ouster of President Morsi may be popular doesn’t make it legal or erase the fact that he only “agreed” to go when coerced. That military leaders may not claim executive authority for themselves does not obviate the fact that they are pushing out a sitting president at gunpoint. That the coup could push Egypt onto a more positive trajectory doesn’t change the nature of the initial act.

Larison adds:

Virtually all military coups come in response to a crisis. They don’t cease to be coups because of that.

When the military overthrew the elected president of Mali last year in response to the government’s failure to cope with the Tuareg rebellion, everyone could understand that it was nonetheless a coup. We shouldn’t pick and choose which military interventions in politics qualify as coups depending on whether or not we agree with the politics of the deposed leader. By law, the U.S. is required to withhold aid to a country when there is a military coup, but most likely that will be ignored in this case. Even so, there is no point in our pretending that it isn’t a coup, nor should we imagine that Morsi’s supporters will view it as anything other than this.

Jeremy Pressman thinks that this was an unusual sort of coup:

[W]hat happened clearly meets the definition of a coup. That said, this is an unusual case because it was matched, really preceded by, a huge mass mobilization on the part of the Egyptian people. I am not sure what precedent we have for that (any ideas?), and I think those millions who mobilized have a right to think they drove the train and compelled the military to step in. In other words, the fact that it fits as a military coup does not preclude the perception from developing among the popular anti-Morsi movement – millions of people – that it was somehow different from your average military coup and the military’s role was secondary, a tool of the people.

And Joshua Keating wonders whether this will be considered a “democratic coup d’etat”:

[A]re there cases when a coup can advance democracy? In a 2012 article for the Harvard International Law JournalOzan Varol, now a professor at Lewis & Clark Law School, argues that while the vast majority of military coups are undemocratic in nature, and lead to less democratic political regimes, there are significant examples of “democratic coups d’etat.”