US Sees No Coup in Military Takeovers in Thailand, Libya

State Dept Defends 'Constitutional' Thai Declaration of Martial Law

Between a self-proclaimed military marching into Libya’s parliament and Thailand’s military declaring martial law, it seems that coups d’etat are becoming more fashionable.

Unless you’re in the State Department, that is, as the policy there continues to be not recognizing anything as an actual coup, and is insisting neither of these cases count.

The State Department has disavowed the Libya takeover, conducted by a long-time CIA asset, but seemed supportive of the Thai military’s move, declaring it “constitutional” and saying the military had promised the US their takeover was “temporary.”

The US doesn’t have a great history of recognizing when coups happen, either, as with the Egyptian military’s summer coup last year. The Egyptian military took over a democratically elected government, and continues to rule to this day, but because a formal recognition of a coup would require the US to suspend aid, the Obama Administration openly insisted they would never recognize it as one.

The Pentagon remains keen on military ties with Thailand, which would explain the reluctance to “notice” a coup there, but since the Libyan National Army isn’t even a real army, the reluctance to see what’s happening in Libya as a coup attempt seems to reflect an overall administration policy of not noticing things like that.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.