A relatively small Asian country is providing a real-world example of what an actual military “coup” looks like. After accusations of “election fraud” following the widespread victory of the party led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the nation of Myanmar, formerly Burma, is experiencing an actual coup.
The military declared a one-year state of emergency and seized control of the government and official communications. The announcement on state-owned TV said that the nation would be led by Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.
BREAKING: Reports say a coup is underway in Myanmar and leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained as communications appear to be cut. https://t.co/MZOEhHwVaR
— The Associated Press (@AP) February 1, 2021
The election fraud accusations, which do not appear to involve voting machines or unlawful election changes, were reported by the Associated Press:
In November elections, Suu Kyi’s party captured 396 out of 476 seats in the combined lower and upper houses of Parliament. The state Union Election Commission has confirmed that result.
But the military since shortly after the elections has claimed there were millions of irregularities in voter lists in 314 townships that could have let voters cast multiple ballots or commit other “voting malpractice.”
The political leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a practicing Buddhist and an advocate of non-violent civil protest, has been detained by the military. This is what a “coup” looks like.
Tanks rolled into Myanmar's capital city on Sunday after the country's military seized control of the government.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 1, 2021
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Following the unruly protest at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, where several Republicans were poised to lawfully object to elections in several swing states, a rabble composed of various extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and by several accounts, infiltrators from hard-left groups like Antifa, breached the Capitol building.
This action was abetted by Capitol police officers who either held the doors open or otherwise did very little to stop the unarmed crowd from entering the capitol building. This includes entering the Senate chambers and Speaker Pelosi’s office. The acts of violence within the capitol was limited to a Trump supporter being shot and killed under unusual circumstances.
Meanwhile, the Commander-in-Chief, who has authority over the nation’s armed forces and the intelligence services, deployed no official law enforcement or military assets to aid or abet the supposed “coup.” These are the characters who are then described as having carried out the grave threat to the republic:
The president instead told the audience at his speech to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard” and he praised lawmakers who were in the “fight”; meaning, using legitimate and lawful processes to protest the election processes in states, as is constitutionally provided.
These facts did not stop several media outlets from proclaiming the event a “coup.” A sample of the headlines:
- Yes, It Was a Coup Attempt. Here’s Why. (Politico magazine)
- The Attempted Coup at the Capitol Proves This Is the United States of QAnon (Rolling Stone)
- US lawmakers call Capitol riots ‘coup, terrorism’ (AA)
The Washington Post rightly notes the definition of a coup, as Naunihal Singh defines it:
In my book, “Seizing Power,” I define a coup attempt as an explicit action, involving some portion of the state military, police or security forces, undertaken with intent to overthrow the government.
The Post article instead colors the action as an “insurrection.” This is defined in the story as, “a violent uprising by citizens against the government.” However, this doesn’t seem to fit either.
Those citizens were unarmed, and the only serious violence within the capitol building was the shooting of a Trump supporter. The violence outside the capitol was between police and the rioters; if this is the definition of an “insurrection,” then violent Black Lives Matter activists and Antifa are “insurrectionists.”
The Capitol riots were not an “insurrection” or a “coup.” Don’t expect there to be any corrections anytime soon.