“The U.S. cares more about security and competing with China and Russia than defending democracy,” he said in an interview.
And even when sanctions are imposed, the rise of China as a global power has cushioned their impact. In the decades after the end of the Cold War, most developing countries relied on the United States and other wealthy Western democracies for aid, making sanctions by those governments a particularly potent threat. “But today, the military junta in Burma, for example, can offset U.S., EU, U.K., and Canadian sanctions with Chinese financial and diplomatic support,” Singh writes.
The rise of private mercenaries like the Russia-affiliated Wagner group have allowed a similar kind of substitution. After France announced that it would withdraw its troops from Mali following coups there in 2020 and 2021, for instance, the government turned to Wagner for security assistance instead.
How to launder power
But there is something else going on too, De Bruin said: Coup leaders are learning from others’ examples, figuring out how to use elections to transform their coup-installed governments into something more palatable to the international community.