In some countries, they arrest the president, occupy government offices and TV stations and annul the constitution. They then publish Communique No. 1, explaining the dire need to save the nation from perdition and promising democracy, elections etc.
In other countries, they do it more quietly. They just inform the elected leaders that, if they don't desist from their disastrous policies, the officers will make their views public and precipitate their downfall.
Such officers are generally called a "junta," the Spanish word for "committee" used by South American generals. Their method is usually called a "putsch," a German-Swiss term for a sudden blow. (Yes, the Swiss actually had revolts some 170 years ago.)
What almost all such coups have in common is that their instigators thrive on the demagoguery of war. The politicians are invariably accused of cowardice in face of the enemy, failure to defend national honor, and such.
Not in Israel. In our country we are now seeing a kind of verbal uprising against the elected politicians by a group of current and former army generals, foreign intelligence and internal security chiefs. All of them condemn the government's threat to start a war against Iran, and some of them condemn the government's failure to negotiate with the Palestinians for peace.
Only in Israel.
IT STARTED with the most unlikely candidate to lead such a rebellion: the ex-Mossad chief, Meir Dagan.
For eight years, longer than most of his predecessors, Dagan led the Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence service, comparable to the British MI6. ("Mossad" means "institute." The official name is "The Institute for intelligence and Special Operations.")
Nobody ever accused Dagan of pacifism. During his term, the Mossad carried out many assassinations, several against Iranian scientists, as well as cyber-attacks. A protege of Ariel Sharon, he was considered a champion of the most aggressive policies.
And here, after leaving office, he speaks out in the harshest terms against the government's plans for an attack on Iran's nuclear installations. Not mincing words, he said: "This is the stupidest idea I have heard in my life."
This week he was overshadowed by the recently relieved chief of the Shin Bet. (Shin Bet and Shabak are different ways of pronouncing the initials of the official Hebrew name "General Security Service.") It is equivalent to the British MI5, but deals mostly with the Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories.
For six years, Yuval Diskin was the silent chief of the silent service. His shaved head could be seen entering and leaving meetings of secret committees. He is considered the real father of "targeted eliminations," and his service has been widely accused of extensive use of torture. Nobody ever accused him of being soft on Arabs.
And now he has spoken out. Choosing a most unusual venue -- a get-together of some two dozen pensioners in a small-town cafe -- he let fly.
According to Diskin -- and who would know better? -- Israel is now led by two incompetent politicians with messianic delusions and a poor grasp of reality. Their plan to attack Iran is leading to a world-wide catastrophe. Not only will it fail to prevent the production of an Iranian atom bomb, but, on the contrary, it will hasten this effort, this time with the support of the world community.
Going further than Dagan, he stated that the only factor preventing peace negotiations with the Palestinians is Netanyahu himself. Israel can make peace with Mahmoud Abbas at any time, and missing this historic opportunity will bring disaster upon Israel.
As chief of the Shin Bet, Diskin was the No. 1 official government expert on Palestinians. His agency receives and collates all the evidence, spy reports, interrogation results and information gathered from listening devices.