by Edward Luttwak
Thursday, 6
January 2022
Anniversary
07:00

No, what happened on Jan 6 was not a coup

A large, noisy and colourful gathering cannot possibly constitute a coup d'état
by Edward Luttwak
Credit: Getty

Insurrections are common but last year’s aborted insurrection on Capitol Hill was unique, because the purpose of mobilising a mass of people and deploying their sheer momentum against the edifices of power — a Royal or Presidential Palace, or a Parliament — is of course to take power through the very act of seizing that iconic building.

But that is logically quite impossible when the ruler is not the enemy to be replaced but rather the intended beneficiary of the insurrection.

What happened exactly one year ago today was certainly not an attempted coup d’état either. By their very nature coups are subterranean, very silent conspiracies that only emerge when the executors move into the seats of power to start issuing orders as the new government —a very large, very noisy and colourful gathering cannot possibly attempt a coup.

There have been quite a few cases around the world of what is best described as mass intimidation directed against Parliaments — but in all such cases it was some specific law that was wanted or not wanted, which legislators under the gun might then vote for, or against. For that to happen, the legislators have to be all gathered in the legislature — and kept there to be coerced, because no crowd can vector physical pressure in many different directions. That conspicuously did not happen last year because it was a crowd that invaded the building, not snatch teams sent to seize individual legislators to be cajoled or forced into their seats.

Given all these exclusions, only one thing remains: a venting of accumulated resentments. Those who voted for Trump saw his electoral victory denied in 2016 by numerous loud voices calling for “resistance” as if the President elect were an invading foreign army — voices eagerly relayed and magnified by mass media, emphatically including pro-Tump media.

Then they saw his victory sullied by constantly repeated accusations of collusion with Russia from chairmen of Intelligence committees, and immediate ex-Intelligence chiefs who habitually signalled that they were accusing Trump of being Putin’s agent because they had secret information, which alas they could not disclose. What they did do was to deplore Trump’s “subservience ” to Putin on a weekly basis for four years, while refusing to entertain the possibility that in a confrontation with China it might be a good idea to overlook Putin’s sins, just as Nixon embraced Mao to counter the Soviet Union.

A venting of resentments can be a healthy process. Biden’s own conspicuous refusal to adopt the language of resistance back in 2016, and his abstention from false accusations of collusion with Russia (even under extreme provocation regarding his son) makes it that much easier for the President to be healer he convincingly promised to be. Whether he has achieved that is a different question altogether.

This Post was originally published on January 7, 2021, which you can read here. Edward Luttwak is a strategist and historian known for his works on grand strategy, geoeconomics, military history, and international relations. He is best known for being the author of ”Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook’.

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James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago

Freddie had excellent thoughts on this with his year end summary, where he compared the “rioters” to wild eyed tourists, a bit surprised at what they found. At worst some were guilty of trespass, but since it is “The People’s House,” maybe not even that.
There is an amazing scene in the series GENERATION KILL which is an exact parallel. The recon Marines (elite of the elite) finally make it into Baghdad and after all the frustration and elation of the war, they “invade” and sort of trash one of Saddam’s palaces. One of the Marines (not part of the platoon but a support dude and an avowed communist) has always advocated a sort of “poor person’s day,” where for one day a year, the poor, the oppressed, get to sit in the rich man’s chair’s drink the rich man’s whisky, have sex with the rich man’s wife…. A bit childish. Hard to defend in hindsight. But completely understandable.
As an aside lest I be accused of wandering too far off topic, this is an amazing series with great insight into America, directed by Brits. Spot on and beyond brilliant!
ALL of this was wildly exaggerated and there were irregularities with the election. My vote from abroad didn’t count. Did it sway the election? Perhaps not, but there are 11mm Americans abroad.
Democrats will never let this go, as it is central to their theme to keep Americans divided, just like the fiction that the Russki’s stole the 2016 election from HRC.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
10 months ago

No Trump fan here but of course it wasn’t a coup. They didn’t even go there to get into the capital but to protest outside. Very few were armed. The few armed groups were probably agent provocateurs.

Was there a riot? Yes, of sorts. Is a riot a coup? No.

James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago

When you say “very few were armed,” you are, in effect, saying that the % of armed “trespassers” was significantly less than the general public in America, where many people ARE armed….

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
10 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Police found no firearms.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
10 months ago

Police found no firearms at all at the Capitol Riot.

Weapons at the Capitol Riot included sticks, flagstaffs and pepper spray. Thats not a bad day in Portland, let alone Fallujah. Weapons at Antifa/BLM riots include explosive fireworks, Molotov cocktails, lasers to blind police, and guns. Weapons used in the real insurrection in Fallujah included machine guns, mortars and improvised explosive devices that could penetrate armored vehicles.

Antifa says it wants to overthrow the US government. Antifa has engaged in a sustained program of riots that have killed dozens, injured hundreds and destroyed billions of dollars worth of property. However, when Trump called Antifa/BLM riots an insurrection, Democrats objected strenuously. Prominent Democrats, like VP. Kamala Harris, Rep. “Mad” Maxine Waters and Rep Ayanna Pressley, encouraged more rioting, and raised bail money for rioters. Democrat mayors and governors defended their right to permit riots.

I would like to see equality before the law for all rioters. If Capitol rioters are held months without bail, why aren’t Antifa/BLM rioters held even overnight in the majority of cases? If Democrats think we need a commission to investigate the Capitol Riot, why don’t we need a commission to investigate the much more widespread and destructive Antifa/BLM riots?

Sheryl Rhodes
Sheryl Rhodes
10 months ago

Perfectly stated. Bravo!

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
10 months ago

This is my view. Democrats clutching their pearls over Jan 6 rang hollow because I spent the entire summer watching videos of people being attacked, beaten unconscious with bricks, shot driving home from work, etc, by BLM protesters. I watched on a subreddit that actually would allow these videos. Police precincts and courthouses were lit on fire. All the while this was encouraged, excused, but mostly not covered by Democrats and the mainstream press. I hope the Democrats get slaughtered in mid terms – they truly deserve it.

Last edited 10 months ago by Gunner Myrtle
Harry Child
Harry Child
10 months ago

Excellent point especially as Biden in today’s Times is reported to have said ” Donald Trump is holding “a dagger to the throat of America” and said that democracy was at risk as the nation marked a year since the January 6 Capitol riot with a further warning that American democracy faced the gravest threat to its survival since the Civil War.
This inflammatory rhetoric is yet another example of politicians making divisions worst as are the words of Rayner Deputy Leader Labour party ” Tory’s are s cu m.”

Warren T
Warren T
10 months ago

Of course all riots are deplorable, regardless of the cause. However, what is even more deplorable is the feigned outrage over one vs. the many others that took place during an entire summer. A group of pudgy, unarmed, middle-aged men wearing baseball caps hardly constitutes a coup attempt, especially when the Capital guards open doors to let them in.

John T. Maloney
John T. Maloney
10 months ago

This coup d’état was missing heavy tanks, aircraft, and a military junta to install.
​When a bunch of *unarmed* diabetic geezers w/ replacement joints, catheters, colostomy bags, and cheap hats join a protest it is hardly an insurrection! When they obey velvet rope barriers, on the advice of security, and gaze around like wide-eyed adolescents, it was more of a rowdy visit.
Dear VP Haris: Pearl Harbor? Really? I don’t think so.
 

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
10 months ago

One day some group of progressive anarchists might chose to ‘vent their resentment’ right through your living room, Mr. Luttwak. I look forward to hearing you praise them for their healthy activity.

James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and I’m afraid it’s your comments, Rasmus. Wildly wrong. Were you in hibernation and unaware of what the so-called progressive left did to many American cities in the name of “anti-racism,” which is really racism against white people?
Keep the comments coming, though, this is a platform to debate ideas. Perhaps we can convince you that you’re far off the mark. I would encourage you to see Freddie’s thoughts on this at the beginning of his year end video.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
10 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Thanks for engaging. I am well aware of the BLM riots – and strongly against them too. But the proper reaction is to condemn rioting and violence wherever it happens – even if you happen to sympathise with the cause. If you choose to call it ‘a healthy venting of resentment’, as Luttwak does, you are stealthily supporting the riots, and doing your bit to encourage more in the future.

Back in the day, when the Baader-Meinhof group, Red Brigades etc. were kneecapping and killing across Europe, a lot of left-wingers would say things like ‘Well of course we condemn it, but considering the level of capitalist oppression of the proletariat it is quite understandable that the proletariat reacts. The solution is to stop the exploitation“. Which is just a way of morally supporting the violence without coming right out and saying so; eventually most of the left got the point and distanced itself from the terrorists, even if it meant no longer saying certain things that they felt were perfectly justified but that the terrorists were using as an excuse. Anybody who actually wants peace and democracy in the US should clearly distance themselves from all the rioting, including that of their friends.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
10 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

respectful positions, nice retort

Last edited 10 months ago by Justin Clark
James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Where was the violence? I’m VERY against breaking things–windows, doors, etc.–it’s just completely stupid–BUT, I’m also against Washington DC being the equivalent of the Green Zone in Baghdad.
One of the major problems is that the elite, our so-called leaders, have no relationship to reality. Biden recently said “someone told him” that meat prices had increased by a lot. And just to show that I hate both Ds and Rs equally (well, almost equally, Rs don’t hate straight, white men, so I hate them a bit less), the first President Bush saw a scanner at a normal grocery store some decades ago and was wowed by it! Something very wrong there!
I remember when Olaf Palme was shot. I interacted with some Swedes (in the US) the next day and expressed my condolences. I’ll never forget–they were way ahead of me on this–that although they were sad that their PM was killed (even though he was a vile, despicable communist), they were more afraid that this would insulate and isolate their leaders, that they would no longer be able to just go to the movies–and everything else–like regular people. They were completely right, and I didn’t even see it at the time.
In the US, maybe elsewhere in the West, our “leaders” are completely isolated from reality, and this is not only because Biden is brain dead….

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
10 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

There are about 14,000 hours of Capitol Riot video that the Feds have not released for “security reasons.” People who were there tell stories of many doors to the Capitol Building being opened from the inside. However, nobody has been indicted for opening the doors. This lack of indictments, and lack of video showing who opened the doors, leads many to suspect that federal agents or informants opened the doors.

This suspicion is justified, in part, by the fact that the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer included 12 FBI Informants, who weren’t prosecuted. The informants seem to have been the key people in the conspiracy.

Gavin Stewart-Mills
Gavin Stewart-Mills
10 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

That might, theoretically, happen. It wouldn’t be a “coup” either.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
10 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Well done for calling this what it was; it was a riot, not a protest. If a group of people start throwing metal barracades at police and break-down doors and windows, no matter what their grievance, it is a riot and no less to be condemned than the BLM riots or the London riots of 2011. It doen’t matter if you agree with their cause or not, it is the action taken that is important; I have agreed with the cause of protestors on a number of occasions, but none-the-less have condemned their behavior. If we do not do this then we should accept this type of behaviour from any group with a cause and not be in any position to say that they atre wrong.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
10 months ago

Was it a coup or an insurrection though?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
10 months ago

I don’t think that it was organised enough to be a coup. As for insurrection – it could be seen as a violent uprising against an authority/government, which is the meaning of insurrection, so it is possibile to see it as one.

James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago

A white woman, Ashley Babbitt, was murdered by a black Capital police officer. Where is the outrage? Where is the “George Floyd” moment? Yes, I said “murdered,” I said it, I meant it, I stand behind it. If you believe that this was a riot, democracy at risk, etc. etc., then in theory ALL of the “rioters” should have been shot. They simply should have been mowed down–death toll should have been in the hundreds, thousand….. They deserved it! If you believe her killing was justified, then it was NOT justified to NOT kill the rest of them.
If you believe, as I do, that she was murdered by a moronic, poorly trained, poorly led Capital police officer, then you should be outraged. “Trespassers”–if they are even trespassers, do not deserve to be killed.
Maybe this is Ft. Sumpter. I have been consistently predicting a Civil War–not advocating, predicting. BUT, the US is not worth saving. I hope for a peaceful division, but I see a Civil War looming. Biden’s comments–coming soon–will undoubtedly be completely stupid and insult at least half of America. Anyone wanna bet on this? I’ll give you odds…..
Lock and load!

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
10 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Murder – YES! But are you surprised or shocked by the difference in treatment by MSM? I think not. Some of the people must be worth fighting for. Mind you, I do think that most Brits are no longer worth risking my life for on a daily basis.

James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

Not surprised at all, which is one reason I do not think the election was free and fair. My vote not counting, for instance, and the absolute complete propaganda of the MSM. One of the best examples is Twitter banning anything related to the Hunter Biden laptop. Oops.
If the UN had observers, what would they have said about “press freedoms” in the 2020 election?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
10 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

You and I fundamentally disagree here. I don’t believe rioters should be shot out of hand unless they are directly putting peoples lives at risk, and even then non-lethal force would be preferable. I saw, in a documentary, the incident in which the woman was shot and it certainly looked, from the angle the camera showed, like someone should answer for it; the policeman seemed to have shot randomly, and she was not armed nor directly threatening him or his colleagues. Whether she was murdered is for a jury in a properly constituted trial to decide, not me from one short clip. I’ve never thought that trespassers, or burglars, or people who break and enter should be killed except in self-defence and providing no other recourse is available, so we are in agreement on this point.

Maybe it’s just the way that you come across in print, but it does seem that you want a civil war in the US. Please tell me that’s not true.

James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago

It seems we have a respectful disagreement, but there is much common ground. To answer your question, I do not want a Civil War, I am not advocating for a Civil War, but I see it coming. I remember some people from the former Yugoslavia in the US and they saw it coming at a time when most Americans, including me, had no idea and thought they were wildly exaggerating. I refused to believe that civilized Europeans in the 1980s would have a real war and actively kill each other. They were right, I was wrong.
BUT I don’t want the US to continue as it is. I don’t recognize the US. The level of hatred is off the charts–and I admit that I’m part of it. There is no “us” in the US, nothing united. Half the country hates the other half–and it’s not much of an exaggeration to say wants the other half dead. Have you read some of the comments on Corona? Is it wrong to want to be part of a country that I recognize? A country that accepts the rule of law (not the US–see executive orders, amnesty, etc.)? A country that shares absolutely basic common values? That is no longer the US and will never be.
To address your first comments, with respect, you are wrong. The “murder” (in quotes because reasonable people can disagree) of Ashli Babbitt will NOT be tried by a jury, or any legal proceeding, because….drum roll, please….the incompetent Capital Police have done an investigation into one of their own and found him blameless. Surprised?
When there is an official commission or whatever you call it in the UK–I forget at this minute–people in the UK seem to believe that it will lead to something resembling the truth. In the US, I think I can state with some confidence that there is no “bi-partisanship” in ANY of these things as it is ALL politics. And I hate the phrase “bi-partisan” because it no longer really applies. If 25% of America is D and 25% R, then half the country is independent and therefore essentially unrepresented. But if 20% are Ds and 20% are Rs–or even less–then the majority of the country is unrepresented.
In summary, I see no future for the US–as a “united” country. Let’s divide it peacefully. I may be early, but I’m not wrong.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
10 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Police investigating their own is never a good idea; I don’t know the US system, but I assume that there is some equivalent to the Independent Office for Police Conduct who can investigate when there is the possibility of a “causal link” between the serious injury or death of a person and the action or inaction of police officers or staff. Given the sensitivity of the events, I would have thought that justice must be seen to be done on this occasion.

Strange that you didn’t see the Balkan conflagration coming, it always seemed to me that Tito was just keeping a tight lid on the ethnic conflicts, The histories of the different groups have long been fraught, especially during WW2 and the targeting of Serbs by Croatians. A good example, I think, of preventing people from expressing their grievances and trying to pretend that everything is right when it clearly isn’t

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
10 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I too see the makings of a civil war in the US. Not advocating, Just stating the obvious. The Greater Oregon movement, the secessionist desire of western Maryland to become part of Virginia, etc.
There are 2 mindsets at work in this country now: (1) liberty as the default position and the rule of law is to be respected by citizen and elected official alike, which is our traditional way of viewing the relationship of the citizen to government; and (2) the permission state, where one can act only with the consent of the jurisdiction that controls you. Autonomy is on life support.

James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago

Well put. I agree!

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
10 months ago

The accurate characterization is that it was a protest that turned into a riot. And, the Capitol Police, both through failure to prepare, and through physical violence, were as much a cause of the riot as the protestors themselves.
Yes, Ashley Babbitt was murdered with a kill shot to the neck. A video circulated immediately after her murder that was a close up of the kill shot. The weapon was trained on her and suddenly jumped in its aim and fired almost point blank into her neck. Where is that video now ? I’m sure it has been purchased and suppressed because it has disappeared.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Although this had been already happening on an epic scale in many major US cities, including Portland and Seattle, whose downtowns have been utterly trashed and massive violence perpetrated by the radical Left.

Last edited 10 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Violence which we all condemn

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
10 months ago

who is this ‘We’ you speak of? Over half the House of Representatives do not condemn the BLM/Antifa riots, arson, looting, and killing/maiming.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
10 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

We on this site.