When Michael Flynn registered his support for a Myanmar-style military coup this week, he wasn’t just advocating for the violent overthrow of the government.
Flynn was playing into a specific fantasy that’s been brewing in the QAnon fever swamps since a February coup took place in Myanmar. The fantasy posits that the country’s military takeover offers a preview of what will happen in the U.S. to reinstate Trump.
QAnon supporters have tacked on to some similarities between the Myanmar coup and what the conspiracy foresees taking place in the U.S., using it as a touchstone for their own vision of the military overthrowing a fraudulently elected Biden and replacing him with Trump. The former president himself has reportedly said that he thinks he will be “reinstated” in August.
“Q always had the ideation of the military stepping in,” Mike Rothschild, author of the forthcoming book “The Storm is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything,” told TPM. “The Myanmar coup was the next evolution of that, because while Donald Trump was president, they didn’t want the military to overthrow him – but now with Joe Biden in office, they need the military to overthrow him to get Trump back into office.”
The Myanmar coup plotters used claims of voter fraud during their own November 2020 presidential election as a justification for taking power. The Myanmar military’s claims were broad, with one general alleging that 8 million fake votes had been counted. International observers at the election say that there were no major irregularities.
When the Myanmar coup first took place on Feb. 1, Q supporters reacted with recognition.
“QAnon is jealous of Myanmar’s military coup,” ran one Feb. 4 headline in Vice.
Jordan Sather, a QAnon video blogger with 59,700 subscribers on Telgram, wrote in the app that “Myanmar MIL moves today against what looks like a globalist puppet who had help rigging their elections.”
“I know many will cry “why didn’t our MIL do it before inaug!”, and as much as I wanted that too, there are sound arguments supporting the choice to let Biden have it for a moment and get DT “out of the picture” (temporarily),” Sather added.
On Feb. 5, Q News Official TV posted that “Myanmar Military just overthrew their government, claiming massive election fraud, and arrested their civilian ‘leaders,’ held them inside their government buildings and are promising an election redo that the citizens of Myanmar can trust.”
It’s all breathless, and maps closely on to what Q supporters want to occur in the U.S.
It came after Trump supporters spent months grasping at examples of real-world occurrences that match their fantasies of mass electoral fraud uncovered, leading to the reversal of an election.
Bruce Marks, a Philadelphia attorney who consulted on the Trump campaign’s Pennsylvania litigation , was himself involved in an early 1990s race in which instances of voter fraud were verified. Those allegations map closely on to what Trump and his supporters were claiming.
Like that long-forgotten early 1990s race, the Myanmar coup has become something of an exemplar for QAnon adherents, who continue to believe that Trump was not defeated, but has merely receded into the distance before a forthcoming military takeover returns him to power.
“It’s an example of the military and the people throwing off the shackles of the deep state, taking control and giving it back to the forgotten men and women, which is not whats actually happening,” Rothschild told TPM. “But that’s what they want.”
Other Q accounts have also boosted Myanmar-related messaging. Q-Tip, a Telegram channel with more than 108,000 subscribers, wrote in mid-February that “Don already gave control to the military to move forward with the plan under guise of a National Emergency.”
“Soon, the military will publicly step in, as they did in Myanmar and election fraud will be proven,” the post reads.
GhostEzra, another leading QAnon Telegram channel, shared a Reuters story in March about the U.S. government blocking Myanmar’s junta from withdrawing $1 billion from the country’s account at the New York Fed.
Flynn was asked “why what happened in Myanmar can’t happen here” at the For God & Country Patriots Roundup in Dallas, Texas.
“No reason,” Flynn replied. “I mean, it should happen here. No reason.”
Flynn’s language echoes that of many Q accounts that have mostly migrated to Telegram since major social networks began to shut down access following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Flynn has tried to walk back his remarks, denying that he was advocating for a coup.
Rothschild pointed out that the remarks fit perfectly into the Q narrative.
“He knew that this was a crowd of Q people who idolize him and want this to happen,” Rothschild said.