|"The vandals took the handles" - Dylan|
As with many words, this one poses some interesting prospects for discussion in the sense that the word "coup" is used for two purposes in the common vernacular.
Especially since it is, in one form of common usage, a nickname for "coup d'état".
This common loose usage, including Dredd Blog usage in posts of this series, happens in "U.S. English" even though there is potentially a night and day difference between the definition of "coup d'état", when compared with the main definition of "coup", which in some cases will become clear only after perusing the context it appears in.
The graphic above shows one of those "coup" times when the Vandals sacked Rome in 455 A.D., carrying away vast sums of wealth in various forms:
In the 440s, the Vandal king Genseric and the Roman Emperor Valentinian III, had betrothed their children, Huneric and Eudocia, to strengthen their alliance, reached in 442 with a peace treaty (the marriage was delayed as Eudocia was too young). In 455 Valentinian was killed, and Petronius Maximus rose to the throne. Petronius married Valentinian's widow, Licinia Eudoxia, and had his son Palladius marry Eudocia; in this way Petronius was to strengthen his bond with the Theodosian dynasty. This move, however, damaged Genseric's ambitions. The king of the Vandals claimed that the broken betrothal between Huneric and Eudocia was an invalidation of his peace treaty with Valentinian, and set sail to attack Rome.(Wikipedia). The killing of Valentinian was a coup d'état, which shows that the results of a coup d'état (Vandals sack Rome) are not always what those who pull off a coup d'état expect ("unintended consequences").
It is accepted that Genseric looted great amounts of treasure from the city, destroying objects of cultural significance (hence the modern term vandalism), and also took Licinia Eudoxia and her daughters hostage. Eudocia later married Huneric. There is, however, some debate over the severity of the Vandal sack. The sack of 455 is generally seen by historians as being more thorough than the Visigothic sack of 410, because the Vandals plundered Rome for fourteen days whereas the Visigoths spent only three days in the city.
I have noticed that two prominent public figures in the United States have used the words coup and coup d'état to describe certain recent events that have taken place in the U.S., so I will share those with you, in the sequence that they were given:
"What happened in 9/11 is we didn't have a strategy. We didn't have bipartisan agreement. We didn't have American understanding of it. And we had instead a policy coup in this country, a coup, a policy coup.(A Tale of Coup Cities - 2, video at bottom, emphasis added). In the video quoted from, General Wesley Clark explains that he was in reference to the time frame of the "ten days" immediately following 9/11/01, when he visited the Pentagon.
Some hard nosed people took over American policy and they never bothered to inform the rest of us."
It is important that we discern the meaning of the word coup, as well as the context in which General Clark used that word.
The definition of coup is "a highly successful, unexpected stroke, act, or move; a clever action or accomplishment".
But General Clark, from the tone and context of his speech, likely had in mind coup d'état, because it means "a sudden and decisive action in politics, especially one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force".
In that same context during his speech General Clark quoted Donald Rumsfeld, who told General Clark during his visit to the Pentagon: "Nobody is going to tell us where and when we can bomb, nobody."
The other prominent public figure whom I mentioned above, used this language:
I fear that at least since 2010 we’ve been witnessing a quiet, slow-motion coup d’etat whose purpose is to repeal every bit of progressive legislation since the New Deal and entrench the privileged positions of the wealthy and powerful — who haven’t been as wealthy or as powerful since the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.(Robert Reich, emphasis added). This fits in with the series of Dredd Blog posts you may have already read, beginning with The Homeland: Big Brother Plutonomy.
Fighting Terrorism For 200 Years - 3. Viewing all three MSNBC main stream media programs brings the evidence of a coup d'état more clearly into focus.
The Private Empire of oil barons is discussed in the post: MOMCOM: The Private Parts.
The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.