The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Armies and Revolutions

Thu, April 25, 2013

Zoltan Barany’s latest article has been published in this month’s Journal of Democracy. Drawn from his current book project, “Armies and Revolutions” lays out the variables involved in making accurate predictions about what soldiers will do when the fate of a regime hangs in the balance. The four categories of factors influencing whether the military will support the old regime or back a revolution are: Influences from the military, influences from the state, influences from society, and influences from outside the country. The components of each are listed below.

Influences from the Military

  • Ethnic or religious splits within the uniformed ranks
  • Sociopolitical divisions
  • Elite vs. average units
  • Regular militaries vs. other parts of the security state
  • Splits between branches of the armed forces
  • Senior vs. junior officers
  • Professional soldiers vs. conscripts
  • Generals’ decision-making autonomy

Influences from the State

  • Regime’s treatment of the military
  • Generals’ view of the existing regime
  • Regime’s directions to the military

Influences from Society

  • Size, composition, and nature of demonstrations
  • Army’s record of conduct toward society
  • Popularity of the revolution
  • Rebel efforts to win the army’s support

Influences from Outside the Country

  • Potential for foreign intervention
  • Revolutionary diffusion
  • Foreign exposure of officers
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