I enjoyed reading about coup d’états back in my secondary school history class. Credit to one of my teachers for giving us insights into the numerous coups and failed attempts across the continent right from the 70s well into the 90s.
He might have exaggerated the circumstances preceding and following the coups and perhaps even glorified some key figures involved and maybe that’s what got our attention and as such, I was a big admirer of Muammar Gaddafi for a long time.
See, I heard from my teacher that the former Libyan leader had overseen a man-made river project for his people and had defied Western-imposed sanctions on his country for years.
Of course I now know a lot more about Lockerbie and Gaddafi’s dark side and my teacher was clearly biased but you have to understand that unlike today’s very ‘spoiled and fortunate kids’, there were no iPads, no WiFi or social media when I was in school and so impressionable students like myself believed whatever our teachers taught us on top of all the propaganda we heard on Radio and TV.
However there’s a big difference between reading about a coup and experiencing it. I’m lucky enough not to have had to deal with it as I’m sure many of you are, but my heart goes to those who have.
Coups usually spark civil wars or some kind of strife. There have been so-called “bloodless” coups but in most cases, it’s bloody and messy and innocent people get hurt as one party seeks to oust another and then years later, those who were forced out of power set out to get revenge and so plan a countercoup against those who pushed them out.
It then becomes a cycle as more innocent lives are lost along with destruction of both property and infrastructure. Even with a failed coup, there are consequences as is happening in Turkey. I would hate to be on the losing side.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sounded angry when he said those involved would pay a heavy price which could be the death penalty he wants to reinstate. Thousands more have lost jobs, including judges and teachers suspected of having ties to the coup plotters.
While I understand his anger and indeed the need to hold those who set out to destabilize the country accountable, I think this crackdown will just create even more dissent and hand groups like ISIS easy recruits. Erdoğan also seemed surprised, even hurt that there are Turks against his government. Not sure if he’s naïve or just arrogant because nobody is loved unanimously.
Even Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela had critics. It’s the nature of politics and you can’t please everybody. You just have to try your best to serve or lead your country. Not that it matters but my advise to him would be to keep an eye on his enemies but not go out of his way to make even more.