In the past several years there has been a proliferation of studies on coup d'états in Africa and the political role of African military structures. Armies have been analysed in terms of their social and ethnic composition, training, ideology, and socialising influences. Intense debate has focused around the overt and covert reasons for their intervention in the political arena. Simple and complex typologies of civil–military relations and of military coups have been constructed; statistical data – both hard and soft – has been marshalled and subjected to factor and regression analysis, in order to validate general or middle-range theories of military intervention. And once in power, the officer corps' performance has been examined in order to generate insights into its propensity to serve as a modernising or developmental agent.
* Associate Professor of Political Science, The Graduate Faculty, New School for Social Research, New York.