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If Trump’s Jan. 6 Coup Prevailed: What Happens to U.S. Diplomacy?

President Donald Trump

How would American foreign policy look different today if Trump’s attempted coup had succeeded? Had Trump held onto power we could today be looking at a significantly different constellation of global politics, both because of the damage the coup would have inflicted on America and because of differences in the worldviews of Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

Russia-Ukraine

At the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine War, some argued that the war could have been avoided if the West (led by the United States) had more aggressively pushed Kyiv to abide by its Minsk Agreement commitments. President Trump, always seen as more sympathetic to Moscow than President Biden, might possibly have pushed Kyiv in such a direction. However, the first four years of the Trump administration did not result in a thaw between Ukraine and Russia. There is certainly no evidence to suppose that Vladimir Putin was in any way afraid of President Trump, or that Trump had any interest in making deterrent commitments against Russia on behalf of Ukraine. Trump, after all, was impeached for blackmailing President Volodymyr Zelensky by curtailing shipments of arms in return for dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden.

Moscow’s war aims, both as delineated by President Putin in the week before the war and as demonstrated by the war’s course thus far, make it almost impossible to conclude that war could have been avoided by anything other than a coup in Kyiv and the replacement of Ukraine’s democratic government. However President Trump might have felt about this, Congress and the European members of NATO would have reacted poorly to such an eventuality.  And absent a coup, there is no reason to believe that Ukraine would have laid down its arms in response to a Russian attack. In all likelihood, Ukraine would have fought and would continue to fight now, albeit likely with fewer resources and a more fractious coalition of Western support. To the extent that Ukraine is dependent upon the moral and material support of the United States and the West more broadly, Trump’s seizure of power could have undermined Ukrainian resistance.

NATO

President Trump was notably hostile to NATO, and that hostility was reciprocated by many of the leaders of the alliance. It is exceedingly unlikely that Trump could have put together a coalition as broad and as deep as the alliance that currently supports Ukraine. Indeed, it is unlikely that he would have had much interest in multilateral actions against Russia. The revitalization of NATO that has taken place in response to Russia’s war would still happen, but it would have a more clearly European character. It is possible that strains in the alliance between Eastern European countries more interested in a confrontation and accommodationist states such as Hungary and (to some extent) Germany might have opened up fissures within the alliance, although such cracks might take time to develop.

The Middle East and East Asia

President Biden has of yet failed to bring Iran back into the JCPOA, the deal intended to curtail the progress of Iran’s nuclear program. Trump would obviously have no interest in rekindling the deal as he abrogated it in the first place. Similarly, Biden has placed only limited pressure on Saudi Arabia with respect to its human rights and foreign policy behavior. Although Trump might have remained somewhat more friendly with the Saudi relationship, it is not obvious that the Saudis would have reciprocated with significant concessions on oil production. In the Western Pacific the Biden administration has similarly not broken in any decisive way from Trump policy, either with respect to tariff protections or to the growth of Chinese military power. Biden’s promise to defend Taiwan is not in significant tension with Trump’s policy towards Beijing.

America’s Global Standing

It is perhaps most important to remember that if President Trump had managed to hold onto power through the extra-legal process he undertook on and before January 6, his second term would have been widely regarded as illegitimate both inside and outside the United States. Inside the country there almost certainly would have been substantial violence, including street-fighting and very possibly organized repression. Joe Biden would still have been recognized as President by most of the country, and Congress would have remained under Democratic control unless forcibly dealt with by Trump. Although it is difficult to sanction a country as large and as important as the United States, few foreign leaders would have rushed to recognize the legitimacy of Trump’s continued rule. On the domestic and international stage, American policy would have been in utter chaos following a successful coup. Substantial portions of the federal bureaucracy might either have resigned or determined to wage a war of paperwork to undercut Trump policy.

RECOMMENDED: The January 6th Committee Has Only One Real Goal – Stop Trump 2024

Final Thoughts 

In short, a successful coup would have led to a colossal mess. It is not obvious that any of the coup plotters thought farther than a few days in advance of January 6. However, it is quite obvious that none of them had the long-term interests of the United States in mind when they tried to overturn the election.

Dr. Robert Farley has taught security and diplomacy courses at the Patterson School since 2005. He received his BS from the University of Oregon in 1997, and his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 2004. Dr. Farley is the author of Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force (University Press of Kentucky, 2014), the Battleship Book (Wildside, 2016), and Patents for Power: Intellectual Property Law and the Diffusion of Military Technology (University of Chicago, 2020). He has contributed extensively to a number of journals and magazines, including the National Interest, the Diplomat: APAC, World Politics Review, and the American Prospect. Dr. Farley is also a founder and senior editor of Lawyers, Guns and Money.

Written By

Dr. Robert Farley has taught security and diplomacy courses at the Patterson School since 2005. He received his BS from the University of Oregon in 1997, and his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 2004. Dr. Farley is the author of Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force (University Press of Kentucky, 2014), the Battleship Book (Wildside, 2016), and Patents for Power: Intellectual Property Law and the Diffusion of Military Technology (University of Chicago, 2020). He has contributed extensively to a number of journals and magazines, including the National Interest, the Diplomat: APAC, World Politics Review, and the American Prospect. Dr. Farley is also a founder and senior editor of Lawyers, Guns and Money.

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. GhostTomahawk

    June 20, 2022 at 7:43 pm

    🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    The reason we are in all of the problems we have are BECAUSE of Biden. Well… the people who control him. Say what you want but the world was a lot more peaceful under Trump. The media made things out to be worse than they were and OBVIOUSLY the writer of this trash gobbled it up for 4 years. Hey pal you cheering for all this destruction we are facing? Because it’s your fault. I dint blame Biden for it. I blame low IQ voters like you who got hoodwinked by propaganda vomited out by regularly discredited media outlets. Maybe we need a system that economically punishes only the voters who pulled the lever for the candidate or legislation.

    • Kennerly

      June 23, 2022 at 12:06 pm

      It is absolutely hilarious the sheer amount of denial in this comment section. Someone points out the indisputable fact that Trump attempted a coup and all of you break down in hysterics! XDDDD

  2. Darrie T

    June 20, 2022 at 8:45 pm

    Got to love to Logic.. 1. Trump was not involved in a Coup. But let’s not let the facts get in the of writing a great article.

    • Jim Higgins

      June 22, 2022 at 7:59 am

      Never Trumpers are truly pathetic. Open your eyes to the filth that Biden has brought us!

  3. Kevin Hall

    June 20, 2022 at 9:05 pm

    Yeah right!!!! What about the FBI agents in the crowd ginning them up. Ray Epps??? heard of him?? Plenty of video showing him yelling at people to go in the capital. He was never arrested. Trump asked pelosi for 20,000 national guard troops, she refused. Why??
    How can you have an insurrection without weapons??? Why won’t the Capital police release 14,000 hours of video in and around the capital. Your making the wrong points dude!! lol

  4. Eric-ji

    June 20, 2022 at 9:22 pm

    COUP? ha ha. Jan 6 was a protest demonstration very much akin to the takeover of the Wisconsin legislature. Only extreme partisans refuse to differentiate a protest and a coup or a insurrection.

  5. Steven

    June 20, 2022 at 9:26 pm

    Another anti-Trump low life.

  6. siempre

    June 20, 2022 at 9:42 pm

    There was no attempted coup.
    What absurdity.

  7. Keith S

    June 20, 2022 at 10:09 pm

    It was not a Coup! It was people that protested an election that many people felt with good reason that massive voter fraud took place. The Courts refused to even listen to the evidence. The media all lied about it. The Justice Department never even investigated before it claimed no fraud occurred. All the Swamp creatures didn’t like Trump spoiling their little power games and influence peddling. You talk about Trump being impeached for asking Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son. Well he was not convicted was he ? There is a treaty with Ukraine requiring cooperation on corruption which was what Trump was following. VP Biden went on TV bragging that he told Ukraine that if they did not fire the Prosecutor ( the same one who was investigating Hunter Biden) that they would not get a billion dollar loan guarantee they wanted. That my friend is real blackmail. Your Bio says you have a B.S. degree so now we know that you are well schooled in BS !

  8. Error402

    June 21, 2022 at 2:32 am

    Biden, democrats and deep state stole the nov 2020 elections. Everyone knew that in georgia, vote dumping was observed being done illegally and without hindrance.

    Had trump held his post, he would surely have ordered pence or the FBI to investigate biden and his cohort and overhaul the issue and legality of postal votes.

    But now biden is in charge, and the whole is in complete chaos. Wait till the arrival of winter. People could be sqaring off against each other with guns loaded and asking “what jan 6 piss of bloody shit ya yakkin’ about.” “Thissa real one, baby!”

  9. exnavynuke

    June 21, 2022 at 4:31 am

    Sir, I disagree with your underlying premise. Additionally, it’s far less likely the flashpoint vis a vis Ukraine would’ve occurred as President Biden catastrophically abandoned Afghanistan. Further, as the USA was energy independent, our relationship with the Saudis would be reversed: they’d be wanting our military equipment, instead of us wanting their oil.

    Of course, this is still America, so we have the right to debate and disagree with this or any administration. At least, for the moment…

    • GhostTomahawk

      June 22, 2022 at 9:54 pm

      At this point I would take that coups over this loaded geriatric diaper of an administration any day.

      Let’s have a real coups

  10. David

    June 21, 2022 at 8:26 am

    I am so disappointed that this article was published. Almost cringe worthy.

    • Robert Kelley

      June 21, 2022 at 8:53 am

      Almost? No. It is VERY cringeworthy.

  11. Robert Kelley

    June 21, 2022 at 8:51 am

    A Coup?? Really? How are you qualified to write an article on a page like this. Unreal. Seeking legal means to overcome election fraud is not a coup. See 200 Mules if you dare. Realize that Governors and Election boards cannot change state voting laws under any circumstance, it has to be the state legislature. Identifying these things and making them known is not a crime. You, sir, are a police hack.

  12. Rich

    June 21, 2022 at 9:25 am

    This article is not even worth a serious comment or rebuttal. It’s just run of the mill leftist drivel spouted by a run of the mill leftist academic.

  13. Eric-ji

    June 21, 2022 at 1:41 pm

    Does the managing editor, or what passes as a managing editor, review the essay comment sections? I suggest it might be a worthwhile task. Would inform management as to how its writers are doing in the ‘court of public opinion’.

    Farley is also a founder and senior editor of https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/

    Reading what’s posted there explains a lot. And, gives me to believe that a managing editor’s review of Farley’s writing and the comments it elicits wouldn’t change a thing.

  14. Mark D Miller

    June 21, 2022 at 2:25 pm

    Wow. COUP?

    What a maroon. THERE WAS NO COUP ATTEMPT. It was a protest whos members were largely waved in by the cops outside. The media is lying if they are saying anything else. There was only 1 death that day – a protester (female AF war veteran trying to talk a few of the more rowdy elements down) sadly and unjustly shot by a pathetically incompetent cop.

    You have shown your colors and they are yellow.

  15. phil stacy

    June 21, 2022 at 5:07 pm

    Trump was the victim of a Marxist coup to anyone who isn’t a communist stooge. Trump is actually the president elect.

  16. PS11B10

    June 21, 2022 at 6:19 pm

    I can see 1945 needs a new editorial staff and better guest writers. Not for any political means but because the premise for this article was sensationalized and out of character for the website. Now, add that Mr Farley chose to use the word ‘coup’ to describe an untested and, in absence of a SCOTUS ruling, still quite legal means to resolve an electoral dispute. I say ‘still legal’ because I can expect the Democrats to use the *exact* same means to remain in power at any cost and they will claim that it is quite legal. Mark my words, they WILL try it.

  17. Daniel Davis

    June 22, 2022 at 9:48 am

    Oh, look, another left-wing bs article from Farley. Color me shocked

  18. Bruiser in Houston

    June 22, 2022 at 11:47 am

    It. Was. Not. A. Coup!

  19. RogerBacon

    June 22, 2022 at 12:03 pm

    I didn’t bother to read the article. I could tell from the title it was leftist trash. Shame on this website for running it as all other articles published here are of high quality.
    There was no coup attempt on January 6th. A few protesters of the stolen election trespassed. They are only being prosecuted because we have a Stalinist party in power right now.

  20. Sylvia Richardson

    June 22, 2022 at 9:27 pm

    IT WAS NOT A COUP. Until you realize how Pelosi set that up if you read again how it all went down and the timeline and the “pre-tour ” ………
    All sides are written here. Well THAT type of writing is only written by idiots who have pretend facts. You have no facts. Like at a concert, some fans got on stage ………. IF IT turns out it was not Pelosi.

    I stand by Pelosi and possibly Hillary Arkansas pals set it up.

  21. Andrew

    June 22, 2022 at 9:34 pm

    You know rocks really should crush the maggots hidden beneath them… dear author maggot, go crawl back under your rock.

  22. Knucklehedd

    June 23, 2022 at 6:11 am

    What sort of self-gratifying fantasy is this? Lol! Everyone knows the wookie guy would be calling the shots!

    The “What if” distortion is an anathema to any actual history. In this case, particularly, since the actual facts have already been distorted by partisan melodrama and political leveraging.

    A smarter, more entertaining piece might’ve been, “What Would an Actual 1/6 Coup Have Looked Like?” At least then, in terms of pure fiction, the immediate and more likely consequences could be visited without even having to use the piece as an inexplicable excuse to talk about Ukraine. (For some reason)

  23. CrenshawFan

    June 23, 2022 at 4:24 pm

    The absolute meltdown some of these people in the comment section are having is hilarious. Literally unable to handle someone stating the plain truth that Trump attempted a coup. Crying, screaming, vomiting over it lmaoooo.

    Absolutely unable to live in reality lol !

    Great article!

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