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Authoritarian semantics.

Mohamed Morsi would seem to now be the former President of Egypt and the question on the pundits’, politicians’, and media elites’ minds is whether his removal from office constitutes a coup d’état. Now, I’ve been accused of splitting semantics hairs, but I don’t see how the term applies at all in this instance. A coup d’état is a short, sharp, and unexpected military overthrow of a government. The concept compares with the sort of military operation known as a coup de main, the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands being perhaps the example best known to the Anglophone world.

When I lived in Guatemala in the mid-90s there was regular rumor of (an) impending golpe(s) de estado. Guatemalans went to bed wondering if they were going to wake up to find a new government in power. Far from rumored, yesterday’s overthrow of Morsi was in fact preannounced. Call me a pedant, but this seems to be a difference that matters.

Matthew Timothy Bradley


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