Sick of the 9-5 grind? Looking for a career change? Maybe the exciting world of Coup D’états is for you? The world is full of tiny, unstable and insignificant countries just begging for some new management. It’s a buyer’s market out there, and with a little bit of money, military backing and chutzpah you can take your CEO game to a whole new level.
Here are five easy steps to taking over a third world country…
1. Pick a Suitable Target
Like choosing the right suit for your inauguration, taking over a country isn’t something you rush into. Not without first trying out a few different options and seeing what works for you. Some basic things to take into consideration are a country’s size, its population, political awareness, geo-political situation and literacy. After all, what’s the good in taking over a country if the people can’t even read the backbreaking new laws you put in place?
As a rough starting point, you want somewhere small and insignificant that nobody in the world community gives a shit about (Cleveland?). The last thing you need is Russia or the US sticking their nose in because you just murdered “their guy” and have taken control of a vital oil pipeline.
Also, try and go for a reasonably small country — it’s much easier to secure and “subdue” any problems. Marxist dictatorships tend to be pretty high up on most governments’ “whatever” list so that might be the way to go. Also, anywhere about to spill over into tribal/religious warfare is usually ripe for the picking. West Africa and the Ivory Coast tend to be good in that regard.
2. Secure Financing and Friends
Unless you have a lazy $20-50 million sitting in your bank account you’re going to need financing. This works much like a share float or a business proposal — you crunch the numbers, figure out what you need, add some on top for good measure, put together a prospectus and shop it round to people in the market to spend obscene amounts of money to watch a nation be taken over by force.
If you have ties to international military or political heavyweights (and we assume you do) they might be willing to give you a leg up in exchange for some future favours. Chinese mining corporations might be willing to play ball if you can promise them favourable conditions, for instance.
Alternatively, you can go straight to the people; if there’s a large expat community who have been forced to flee overseas then they might be willing to throw some money towards your project.
3. Destabilizing the Target
Unless you’re the US government (are you the US government?) you can’t just show up at the borders and announce your plans to invade. That’s big man talk and you don’t have the financing or resources for that kind of caper. What you want to do is destabilise things from the outside to “soften” up the target. Manipulating the financial markets is an excellent way to make a government look incompetent (See: United States) and relatively easy if you have some friends in the International Monetary Fund.
Alternatively, you can try and push for tribal/religious warfare. This isn’t really that difficult in some tin pot backwater. A bit of “he said/she said” nonsense planted in the newspapers can work wonders. Tell Ahmad that opposition forces are banging his wife. Next thing you know, the CIA will be funneling weapon money into your little shit hole country at such a rate that you can’t even spend it all.
Following this up with a staged attack against one group (wearing the other team’s uniform) will set things off nicely.
4. The Time Has Come
So you’ve got your money, got your outsides backers, have crippled the country’s economy and have played off the different factions against each other — time to get in there and seize power. But which way works best for you? Are you a kick in the door, take charge kinda guy or do you prefer more underhanded techniques? Depending on your temperament you’ve got a few different options to go with.
Coup de tat: The Coup De Tat is the classy way to go, as evidenced by the frilly looking name. Basically, it involves seizing a small but vital part of the government and then using its legislative power against said government. You might, for example, seize the country’s ruling elite while they’re on holiday in the country and then “encourage” them to form a new government with you in power. It’s risky, sure, but it only requires a small team, an inside guy and a whole lot of “front.” With the right international backing and money the whole thing can be pulled of without murdering anyone, as boring as that may be.
Putsch: Sometimes, all it takes is one military faction. Simply get in good with one of the military generals (a disgruntled one) and start funnelling cash to them from your financial backers. At the appointed time, have your guys roll into town, seize the president and offer the other military leaders high placed positions. Things are going to play out in one of two ways – and if you’re smart you’ll already have another general on the payroll to prop this up.
Invade: Pretty straight forward. You roll into the capital and kill anyone in your way. Some people call it the “Wal-Mart Technique.”
That’s not actually true. Anyway, you’ll obviously want an army for this sort of caper. Mercenaries come in useful here. Some of the smallest African nations really are miserable shitholes and, as such, they don’t have any kind of national army or any real government — individual warlords control their patches and that’s about it. If you can fund some decent equipment and get good soldiers on the field then the kick in the door approach can be effective. Usually this will involve the funding and backing of some other country because, let’s face it, people tend to notice individuals buying up military hardware and recruiting armies. The French haven’t entirely forgotten their former African colonies so you might be able to find some friends there. Alternatively, Russian gangsters looking for a friendly sea port allowing access to Southern Europe may have some cash to throw around.
5. The Logistics of All This
There’s a lot to think about when seizing a country and the details can get lost amidst all the chaos and killing. Still, there are several things you can do during and immediately after your power grab to improve your odds.
The #1 rule of seizing power is to cut communications. Phones, radio, TV, Internet, Words With Friends, everything. What you really don’t want is the ruling party going on TV and rousing the population to support them. A few million too many people phone in to vote you out of the country and you can expect to fail. While it’s pretty obvious, rounding up everyone loyal to the current regime and “detaining” them is essential. Forget someone and they might do a Boris Yelstin (1992) and mount a populist counter-revolution.
Once the initial hoopla has died down, you need to establish the fact you’re in charge ASAP. A public holiday and a national address wrapped in the country’s flag will only buy you so much time. People might not like change, but they like change and uncertainty even less. You need to have contingency plans ready to go and ensure the disruption to the public is minimal. Just look at Thailand — there’s a country that knows how to stage a coup and get on with it.
Ideally, what you want to achieve here is to remove the top tier of government while keeping the beurocracies and other areas untouched. What you really want to avoid is Iraq. Any kind of power vacuum will be filled sooner rather than later, if you don’t have your shit together then the rest of your life is going to be very short. Still, no one involved in toppling governments is overly concerned about their pension funds. It’s an all or nothing sort of deal.