On August 4, Foreign Policy published its biweekly “It’s Debatable” column featuring Scowcroft Center Vice President and Senior Director Matthew Kroenig and Emma Ashford assessing the latest news in international affairs.

In their latest article, Kroenig and Ashford debate the impetus of coups in fragile states, using the recent 2023 Niger coup as an emblematic case study. Does US military training of foreign officials inflate the tendency for coups, and other instances of state-based violence? Or are underlying economic and institutional concerns the catalyzing factor?

Realistically, US military training is not a meaningful driver of coups. The real problem in Niger and the broader Sahel is weak institutions and economic underdevelopment and the interaction between them.

Matthew Kroenig

The United States relies a lot on military-to-military contacts, training and equipping foreign militaries to do antiterrorism or other missions, rather than traditional diplomatic or economic ties with regional governments… It doesn’t really tamp down terrorism, and it destabilizes governments in the process.

Emma Ashford

Related Experts: Matthew Kroenig