The 5 Most Half-Assed Attempts to Take Over a Country
We've learned a lot about revolutions over the last year, haven't we? Mostly that Twitter RTs aren't necessarily guarantees of political success and that scarves are really hot right now. Oh, and that revolutions are hard. Really hard.
Especially when you've put zero point zero effort into your coup plans. As we've pointed out before, for every inspiring revolution by the oppressed, there are several low-rent slapdick operations where the insurgents trip getting off the boat.
No One Can Find the Palace
The real-life Game of Thrones involves less sexy intrigue and behind the scenes machinations and more random dumbasses getting lost on their way to the palace. For instance, in 1995, the king of Qatar found out he had been deposed as king ... while he was away on vacation in Switzerland. Damn it! He knew he should have hired some kid to babysit the throne for him.
A year later he decided that, by God, he was going to take that shit back.
"How many heads do you think could fit up here?"
The ex-king, Khalifa bin Hamad al Thani, came up with a plan, and we're using the word "plan" very loosely here. Like if you accidentally started a grease fire and then said, "Sounds like a plan!" In that instance, you literally don't know what the word "plan" means. That's kind of what happened when the former emir thought he'd retake the throne.
First order of business? Build an army to storm the castle. This he did by hiring a team of French mercenaries and a group of 600 Bedouin militia members. The only problem? They couldn't find the castle. No one even knew the neighborhood. Even the Griswolds had the sense to bring a map.
"Oh, I see. Now, which side is the entrance where the guards don't check for guns?"
So, the Bedouins stormed the capital city, only to end up driving around in circles. Witnesses claimed they were screaming into their cellphones "Where's the palace?" the whole time.
At least the Bedouins made it to the capital before eventually getting arrested. The French mercenaries didn't even get that far because they lost their boats. Just ... lost them. They walked out of their five-star hotel on their way to the coup and their boats for the ride were gone. Then they presumably went back to their rooms to watch Friends reruns and have a swim.
"Goddammit, Chad! Remember your military training!"
Taking Over Ghana With Eight Guys
Say you wanted to take over Ghana. It's not a huge country, but it's not just a bunch of shacks, either -- about 24 million people live there today. So if you wanted to overthrow its government, how big of an army would you need? More than eight guys, right?
Don't tell that to the low level Ghanaian pencil pusher who, in the 1980s, had a hankering for the presidency. Godfrey Osei had already been a part of one failed coup, but he had the combination of insanity and access to cash that made it hard to talk him out of stupid ideas. So, Osei worked with a Texas commodities broker to get $200,000 worth of weapons and paid an army of American mercenaries to help him. And yes, as we mentioned, this "army" was eight men. Also he lied to them and told them it was a CIA operation.
These men were to take their giant pile of weapons, sail to the Ivory Coast, meet up with 80 totally-real-and-not-made-up waiting supporters, storm the beaches in the capital city, assault a prison, attack the presidential palace and then launch a direct assault on a military base filled with Libyan soldiers allied with the government. And then they'd all live like kings! Of Ghana!
"And now we bask in the riches of an endless supply of goats."
Osei had so much confidence in this plan that when it came time to set sail, he said, "You guys go ahead, I'll wait here in South America and come over later." This was when Osei's mercenaries realized that there was a good chance that he wasn't right in the brain. It didn't help that the guy had started wearing Nazi insignia and walking with a stick.
Very shortly after that, the team abandoned the whole thing and docked in Brazil instead. This was bad news for them, as they were still hauling a huge illegal stockpile of weapons and thus immediately got arrested as gun smugglers. Really, they had only themselves to blame. Oh, and as a side note, the Americans later escaped their Brazilian prison when one of their wives sent them hacksaw blades concealed in dry milk.
They tried it in a sandwich first, but a guard ate it and died. Also, his wife was 6.
If We Take the Radio Station, We'll Own the Country!
Have you ever had a boss so ill-suited for leadership that you almost felt sorry for him? Kenyan Hezekiah Ochuka was one of those kinds of guys -- inept to the point where you begin wondering if his whole deal was performance art.
Let's start with his military background. Ochuka was a senior private in the Kenyan Air Force -- the second lowest rank there is. And that was after six years of service. In the Kenyan Air Force.
Can you imagine the kind of person who would picture himself as president of a country despite having only held authority over his own wiener and the cafeteria up to that point? Yes, you can, because you know at least one guy like that. We all do. Anyway, when several conspirators approached Hezekiah about a possible coup, he not only said he was in, but insisted they put him in charge. "Sure," the higher ranking, more experienced military leaders said before rolling their eyes and making the universal "loco" sign to one another. Hezekiah didn't notice.
"Oh, for the love of Christ, OK, you can be the 'leader guy.' But you're not getting a gun."
The scheme was pretty typical, as far as terrible coup schemes go: The group would hijack a radio station, announce they were in charge and just see what developed from there. Oh, and they'd kidnap some air force jet pilots and make them bomb the president's house. You know, just in case.
The first part was easy. After all, no one arms their radio DJs with automatic weapons anymore, not even in Kenya. So at midnight on August 1, 1982, the group easily overtook the Voice of Kenya radio station and whoever was running the late night request line. (We like to think her name was Linda and she enjoyed the butter-smooth easy-listening stylings of Genesis.) So then it was time to get down to the business of overtaking the government, which you'd think they would have accomplished before they announced they were in charge on the radio, but again, these weren't the brightest crayons in the rebel school box. And this was also where the story got fun. Hezekiah ordered his henchmen to abduct pilots from their homes at the air force base and force them to bomb the president's house. Just to be safe and make sure they did the deed, the henchmen would tag along in the jets.
Presumably, all this would be accompanied by snippets from Austin Powers and fart sounds.
On the ground, the pilots were all, "Yeah, sure, whatever you say, boss." In the air, it was another story. The three pilots communicated with silent signals and left their rebel passengers in the dark as they showed off their best vomit-inducing skills. And rather than bombing the president's house, they dumped an unarmed missile on a forest. Not only did the rebels not know that the trained pilots didn't bomb jack shit, but they were greeted by the Kenyan army as they staggered their puke-stained selves out of the jets.
Needless to say, Hezekiah ruled Kenya for six hours before taking off to Tanzania.
Where he blossomed into a beautiful, majestic giraffe.
The Coup That Got in the Wrong Line
"Mad" Mike Hoare was an Irish mercenary who spent his career doing mercenary-type things in Africa. It takes a certain kind of man to pursue that sort of career, as you can imagine. He was hired to stage a coup against the tiny island country of Seychelles, which was strategically important due to its proximity to a U.S. military base. Hoare put together his mercenary army and named them "Ye Ancient Order of Froth-Blowers." (Why? Because he was crazy.)
And he really loved him some cappuccino.
They hid assault rifles in the bottom of their luggage and filled the rest up with toys, coming up with an elaborate back story that he and his men were a rugby team who were going to Seychelles to distribute the toys to poor children.
Needless to say, that back story is the highlight of what ends up being a Shakespearean farce of a revolution. The trouble started when the "rugby team" hilariously showed up at the airport of the country they were trying to take over. One of the men accidentally got into the "Something to Declare" line at customs, meaning his bag full of guns was going to get searched. And that's when this particular mercenary decided that the airport was as good a place as any to start a revolution.
"We start by liberating that gift shop. Then on to the Sbarro, and glorious victory."
Wrong-Way Froth-Blower assembled his gun and shot the customs guy before he could get away, and the other mercenaries joined the gunfight as well. Then, Mad Mike did what any other insane person in his situation would do -- he hijacked a plane to go home. Once in the air, Hoare tried to make the pilot open the doors so they could dump their guns into the ocean, but the pilot pointed out that this would make the plane depressurize and they would all die. You'd think a colonel would know that, but nope.
Once the plane landed, the conspirators were arrested, obviously. But don't feel bad for Mad Mike. He's gone on to write books, recruit honorary members to his mercenary club and rock a beret harder than any man has a right to.
"I'm going for sort of an A-Team, with just a hint of The Three Stooges."
A Night in the Museum (For Hugo Chavez)
Before Hugo Chavez became the cancer-riddled despot we know today, he was just an angry upstart with a dream of couping the shit out of Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez. So, like every other rebel on this list, he put together a terrible plan. Despite knowing that he only had the support of 10 percent of the military of Venezuela and a team of backstabbing cutthroats, Chavez decided there was no better time for a rebellion than February 4, 1992. With five whole army units under his command, Chavez rolled into Caracas with four goals: capture the president, capture senior generals, broadcast their goals from the Historical Museum and wait for the angry masses to join their cause. What could go wrong?
"Sir, permission to shit myself?"
They were greeted with machine gun fire.
By the time Chavez and his team of misfits got to Caracas, someone had already spilled the rebel beans. Chavez convinced the guards at the museum that he and his men were only there to reinforce the troops for the other side, if they could just let them in, please. Wouldn't you know it? The idiots fell for it! Success!
Except the communication equipment that was supposed to broadcast the rebellion never got there. Phones? Also not there. So on the night of February 4, Hugo Chavez found himself locked in a museum with no way of communicating with the outside world. We can only hope the exhibits came to life and terrorized them while they were there, but the historical record is strangely silent about that part.
"This kind of stuff never happens to Castroooo!"
The crazy thing is that the rebels running the show in other cities across Venezuela had totally taken their cities. But Chavez didn't know that -- he didn't have a phone. He was forced to just sit in the museum like a dumbass all night. It wasn't until the next morning when the president used Good Morning, Venezuela to announce that there had been a failed uprising the night before that Chavez even realized he had lost.
Chavez surrendered, but asked to broadcast his surrender on television as well -- just so his fellow conspirators would surrender peacefully. Here's where you have to remember that Chavez did eventually achieve his goal; up until this point, no one had ever heard of Hugo Chavez, the idiot who trapped himself in a museum during his own coup. Within six years he would be the "popularly" elected president of the country.
"So then I flung open the doors like this, and I was all like, 'When I become president, you're so fired!'"
See? Sometimes the crazy shit pays off.
For more insanity out of history, check out The 6 Most Insane Underdog Stories in the History of Battle and The 5 Most Epic Battles of Will That Would Not End.