Strikes and Coups in Counterinsurgencies
Why are acts of organized resistance associated with coups? Inspired by the Arab Spring, a large literature suggests that militaries confronted with civil resistance tend to side with protesters and oust their government. In the historically most coup-prone environment of insurgencies, however, alliances between the military and protesters are implausible because soldiers suspect insurgents behind social dissent. Disentangling different types of resistance, this paper analyzes whether and how strikes, demonstrations, riots, and guerrilla attacks affect the military's disposition and ability to stage a coup during counterinsurgencies. We argue that only strikes trigger coup attempts. Soldiers interpret strikes as manifestations of a strengthening subversive enemy that threatens their victory over insurgents, while economic elites support a coup in the hope that the military will terminate costly walkouts. This alignment of interests fosters military takeovers. We provide case-study evidence that shows our suggested mechanisms at work and demonstrate the scope of our argument using quantitative analyses of coup attempts in counterinsurgencies (1950--2005). Strikes increase wartime coup risk, whereas demonstrations, riots, and rebel attacks do not.