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Thread: Popular rebellion, state response and our failure to date: a debate

  1. #21
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Back to the topic ...

    Moving back to the original question:
    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    What struck me in the Libyan story is the incapacity of the modern state to deal with popular uprising(s). It is clear now that we just do not know, want or can deal with non-state actors, even if it's a population and not an armed group.

    Basically we have not evolved, what ever we say, since the 'Cold War'. Tactics and technical factors have evolved, but states are still limited by their obligations to deal with a state, whether it is legitimate or not.
    I think that the modern nation-state can and does deal with non-state actors, like corporations and NGOs, as long as they have an organizational structure. The question becomes more, how do you deal with a mob? I am not sure that an outside element can until that amorphous blob coagulates into some organizational entity. I think you can send in envoys but you must be realistic about what you believe they can achieve.

    I suppose you could send in a demagogue, someone trained at swaying a mobs opinions ... maybe George Clooney.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 05-17-2011 at 10:11 AM.
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  2. #22
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    The question becomes more, how do you deal with a mob?
    You step on a balcony and hold a speech.

    This works fine (unless you're a delusional moron as was Ceaucescu).

  3. #23
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Straying off topic folks

    Moderator adds:

    We appear to be in historical mode with FDR and Empire's dissolution. Later today I will start a new thread on that theme, in the history arena; meantime please keep Empire matters on hold.

    Update

    New thread started 'End of Empires: who was responsible?' (post WW2) and a few posts relocated. See:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=13335
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-17-2011 at 02:15 PM.
    davidbfpo

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    Default Popular rebellion and state response

    This post from the The Monkey Cage, entitled "Cracking Down," might be of interest.

    http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2011/0...ing_down/#more

    Some choice lines:

    There are two basic strategies states use to combat urban uprisings: urban annihilation and coercive governance...Leaving aside the important question of the origins, cohesion, and organization of the opposition, it pays to focus on the political interests of state elites, not just their capacity, and in particular the interests of militaries.

    First... it’s not necessarily how much state capacity you have, but instead what you do with it. The creation and deployment of state power are often endogenous to political interests and strategies...

    Second, militaries are especially crucial because they are best able to carry out full-bore urban annihilation strategies. When the police falter, the internal paramilitaries break, and the party workers go home, regimes look to serried ranks of tanks and bayonets...

    Research on the politics of crackdowns and military politics can help us make some sense of the daily headlines.
    Regards,
    OC

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    As others have said, we really can't--and shouldn't--be trying to deal with mobs. The mob in Libya seems about as organized as a herd of schizoid cats; we're only trying to deal with them because we don't like Gaddafi.

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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    As others have said, we really can't--and shouldn't--be trying to deal with mobs. The mob in Libya seems about as organized as a herd of schizoid cats; we're only trying to deal with them because we don't like Gaddafi.
    But therein lies the problem.

    First, our interests are aligned, so we have a reason to want to see them defeat Gaddafi. Second, they are a mob, so what do you do? At this point it becomes a bifurcated issue. First, there is the military side of the house, how do we help them win. We used to have people trained for that. Second, there is the political side of the house. That is much more complicated but no less important (unless the ultimate plan is simply to install a military dictator, in which case prong one handles everything). Seems to me that, the sooner we get on the ground the more likely we are to both make friends and influence people (or, more correctly, influence their future foreign policy towards us). I think the question is still valid - how do we do this?

    Finally, there is the issue of who else is trying to influence the outcome of the rebellion and what are their interests versus ours? I am sure China would love to have access to the oil. What are the likely consequences of inaction?
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 05-19-2011 at 11:27 AM.
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    From the Corbett report. Some video clips and comments with an around the world view of various protests and uprisings.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxcOy...embedded#at=60

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Rising Threat of Revolt in Autocracies

    A short essay by two American authors, one an academic, the other with the intelligence community, which appeared on Lawfare; the main article is behind a paywall:http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/06/t...n-autocracies/

    The Editor's introduction:
    People power” has long captured the hearts of Western publics, with images of brave protesters standing up to tyrants renewing our faith in how extraordinary ordinary people can be. Yet elite coups, not popular protest, have long been the biggest danger to dictators. However, the Arab Spring brought renewed attention to popular protests as a form of regime change, as autocrat after autocrat fell or appeared near collapse. Andrea Kendall-Taylor, who serves in the U.S. intelligence community, and Erica Frantz, a professor at Bridgewater State University, contend that the Arab Spring is not an anomaly: popular protest is indeed on the rise as a form of regime change and that this trend, if nurtured properly, could make the spread of democracy more likely.
    Authors’ Note: This essay draws on a recent article in which we argue that today’s dictators should be more concerned with popular protests than they have in the past.
    Somewhat surprised they end on an optimistic note.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    A short essay by two American authors, one an academic, the other with the intelligence community, which appeared on Lawfare; the main article is behind a paywall:http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/06/t...n-autocracies/

    The Editor's introduction:



    Somewhat surprised they end on an optimistic note.
    David,

    How many sustainable democracies have emerged from "popular revolt"? The radicalization process inherent in revolutionary activity would seem to suggest a tendency towards authoritarianism at the completion of the revolutionary cycle.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  10. #30
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Eastern Europe has for the most part been a smashing success, I would say. Possibly one could include India and the US as well although it is often difficult to difference between a popular revolt and an elitist one.

    In any case it is important to keep basic logic in mind. Lots of things have to work out in the right way to have a sutainable democracy. If you have ten different popular revolutions in ten different countries with ten different regimes it is rather unlikely to have the same outcome in the short and long run....
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

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    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  11. #31
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    Eastern Europe has for the most part been a smashing success, I would say. Possibly one could include India and the US as well although it is often difficult to difference between a popular revolt and an elitist one.

    In any case it is important to keep basic logic in mind. Lots of things have to work out in the right way to have a sutainable democracy. If you have ten different popular revolutions in ten different countries with ten different regimes it is rather unlikely to have the same outcome in the short and long run....
    I suppose it also depends in how we define 'popular revolt' and the distinction between that (which is active) and, say, regime collapse (which would be passive).
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  12. #32
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    Eastern Europe has for the most part been a smashing success, I would say. Possibly one could include India and the US as well although it is often difficult to difference between a popular revolt and an elitist one.

    In any case it is important to keep basic logic in mind. Lots of things have to work out in the right way to have a sutainable democracy. If you have ten different popular revolutions in ten different countries with ten different regimes it is rather unlikely to have the same outcome in the short and long run....
    They have a popular revolt in Thailand every few years until the Army got tired of them and held a coup.

    As you note, the term "popular revolt" is somewhat misleading.

    Simultaneously, the rise of communication technologies and social media has almost certainly fueled a rise in revolts. Revolts capable of bringing down a dictator are notoriously difficult to orchestrate. While coups require only a handful of individuals, revolts entail the mobilization of tens of thousands of citizens. Social media technologies reduce coordination costs, enable more citizens to make anti-regime preferences public, and widely publicize regime abuses that can serve as triggering events for widespread protest.
    In most countries, tens of thousands of citizens is still far less than one percent of the population. Therefore, to try to equate a popular revolt with a revolt by the masses, is not only a stretch, it is an outright misrepresentation.

    So while there may be popular revolts, in many places the real fight only starts when the social constructs that held historic hatreds in check are removed. Then all hell brakes loose.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 07-01-2014 at 05:28 PM.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

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