On July 15, we were pretty surprised (I was surprised, anyway) to hear about the coup attempt in Turkey. Turkey pointed its finger directly to Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, where he has resided in self-imposed exile since 1999. A little later, we were surprised, and perhaps relieved, to hear that President Erdogen had put down the coup in fairly short order, but putting it down meant a purging of the Turkish military, which raised concerns for CENTCOM Commander General Joe Votel, who worried about the integrity of US operations in Syria. And, there are rumors that the Pentagon was behind the coup, or that the CIA and FBI was behind the coup, or both. We may not know the truth behind the coup attempt in Turkey for some time to come.

All that seems so far away, and we have our own distractions to keep us entertained. We can rest easy, I suppose, believing that the United States would never be at risk for the banana-republic sorts of politics we saw in Turkey, see routinely around the world.

Not so fast.


In “A Coup Plot in America”—Part III of a trilogy on coups that includes “Men on Horseback” and “Future Coups”—Dawn’s contributor Nadeem Paracha tells the story of a coup attempt in our own nation, what Paracha describes as “an enigmatic coup plot in a country which, during the Cold War, was behind most military putsches: the United States of America.”

Paracha describes the historical moment of this attempted coup in the United States: “across the 1920s, the economy continued to grow; the rich continued to grow richer; material hedonism gripped the affluent; and crime became rampant . . . .” And then, Wall Street crashes.

In the financial disaster that was the Great Depression, President Roosevelt instituted a range of recovery polices and programs meant to get the nation back on its feet, moves interpreted by some as socialist or communist.

And, in short, here’s how the story of the coup attempt in America begins: “A group of industrialists who had made their fortunes under the previous system approached a former US military man, Gen Smedly Butler . . . . The industrialists implored him to ‘save the US from communism’ and use his influence over soldiers and serving generals to topple Roosevelt through a military coup.”

The story of this coup attempt pretty much faded into history with Gen. Butler, but it’s an interesting example of how fanning sparks of great fear across political recriminations can grow into a smoldering disaster.

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Ed Ledford enjoys the most challenging, complex, and high stakes communications requirements. His portfolio includes everything from policy and strategy to poetry. A native of Asheville, N.C., and retired Army Aviator, Ed’s currently writing speeches in D.C. and working other writing projects from his office in Rockville, MD. He loves baseball and enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring anything. Follow Ed on Twitter @ECLedford.