Archive for category Tunisia

Funny Stuff: Rebellion

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Strategy: The Father Of Strategic Nonviolent Action Gene Sharp, And Mideast Revolution

     For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill. -Sun Tzu 

     Based on studies of revolutionaries like Gandhi, nonviolent uprisings, civil rights struggles, economic boycotts and the like, he has concluded that advancing freedom takes careful strategy and meticulous planning, advice that Ms. Ziada said resonated among youth leaders in Egypt. Peaceful protest is best, he says — not for any moral reason, but because violence provokes autocrats to crack down. “If you fight with violence,” Mr. Sharp said, “you are fighting with your enemy’s best weapon, and you may be a brave but dead hero.”

     Interesting story and it just reaffirms the view I had that it wasn’t gadgets like Facebook or Twitter that won the day, but just good ol fashion kick ass strategy and planning. I also like the quote up top because it also reinforces the strategy that Boyd talked about by isolating your enemy ‘morally, mentally, and physically’.  With protest, if you decide to go violent and use arms against a government, you have now given that government the moral right to kill you with arms.  Plus if you are killed, you cannot continue the revolution or fight.

    Although what is interesting about this is that there was talk of Mubarak’s forces using their agents as looters to make the anti-Mubarak crowds look morally illegitimate. The attack on reporters, like with Lara Logan, could have been another way of making the anti-Mubarak forces look morally illegitimate. This to me is the essence of the kind of fight going on within a riot in countries with dictators and tyrants. There is much strategy involved with such endeavors.

     Or those governments just pull the trigger, and could care less about morality. Might makes right and  being feared is better than being respected, etc….

     Either way, I wanted to put this up as food for thought.  Especially after reading that the Muslim Brotherhood was interested in these concepts of strategic nonviolent action. Of course if dictators and tyrants have it coming, they deserve what they get.  But the snakes in the grass called jihadists will benefit from these revolutions in the Middle East and elsewhere. It will create power vacuums, and they will certainly do all they can to fill that vacuum.

     Of course on the surface, the West will always try to present the idea that we support dictators and tyrants being overthrown–if it is within our national interest.  But be that as it may, the West also has a lot riding on the relationships, business and treaties it has with these people. Mubarak was an important ally in our war against jihadists, all the way up until he was overthrown.  Now we take the side of the revolutionaries and disgruntled population that overthrew him. Unfortunately this group of revolutionaries have jihadists in the wings that benefit directly, and they participate either overtly or covertly to push these revolutions along. That is why folks like the Muslim Brotherhood have copies of Gene Sharp’s manual in their possession.

     On the flip side, countries like Iran or China should be very fearful of publications like this, and to a degree, the west would benefit from this fear.  These countries have horrible human rights records, and they both military or economic threats.  Don’t forget the really horrible dictators in Africa which should equally be fearful of this current wave of revolution.  I would love to see Mugabe taken down, or any of the other nut job dictators that cause so much grief in Africa.

    Now on to the potential application for our industry.  A company that offered strategic nonviolent action training and advising services, or advising countries facing this kind of attack on government, could be an interesting business to get into.  There are models of success to emulate here, and this kind of work defines the ultimate in winning without killing or fighting.  Another way to look at this type of thing is as a tool to create the right environment for a bloodless coup/non-violent regime change. Notice how the Egyptian Army is now in charge of Egypt, and they didn’t have to fire a shot (figuratively speaking–there were deaths in this uprising).

     I do realize the history of meddling in other nation’s business and stoking revolutions–sometimes you get what you ask for. lol But what is different now is the advent of super empowered individuals, jihadists, organized crime, and nations with ill means, all being able to apply these principles to the overthrow of leaders to achieve strategic goals. Could a criminal organization like a drug cartel use these concepts in their war against governments and leaders? How about Hamas or Hezbollah using these methods to foster overthrow in their target countries (with Iranian support of course) I mean this stuff isn’t just for peaceniks. With revolutions and protest blowing up across the middle east, this stuff is very important to analyze and ultimately synthesize solutions for attacks or defenses.- Matt

From Dictatorship To Democracy, by Gene Sharp (also on my Sribd)

Shy U.S. Intellectual Created Playbook Used in a Revolution


February 16, 2011

BOSTON — Halfway around the world from Tahrir Square in Cairo, an aging American intellectual shuffles about his cluttered brick row house in a working-class neighborhood here. His name is Gene Sharp. Stoop-shouldered and white-haired at 83, he grows orchids, has yet to master the Internet and hardly seems like a dangerous man.

But for the world’s despots, his ideas can be fatal.

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Strategy: Egyptians Share Secrets Of Uprising

      This is fascinating stuff. Like most folks, I have been following the protests and political upheaval with some interest. But what I am really interested in is the strategies and tactics behind such things.  Because really, the best way to win a war or achieve an objective, is to not fight at all. Removing a leader and it’s regime via internal uprising or coup (bloodless preferred) , is far better than expending all the resources, treasure and blood that is involved with conducting an all out war to remove such a beast.

     What I thought was most impressive is that it sounded like what won the day was really good strategy on the part of the activists, and not Twitter or Facebook or whatever gadgets that the media likes to point to as the source.  These protesters played a better game than the riot forces and the Mubarak regime did, and they did it by borrowing brilliance or what I call ‘mimicry strategy’.  They saw how the folks in Tunisia did this, and copied it.  They also used whatever communications tool they could to network the masses and get them to where they needed to be.  So they did word of mouth tactics, they used the internet, they used flyers, they used the cell phone and text messaging, they used everything they could to get the word out.

     Further more, on the technology side of things, there are more cellphones in Egypt than internet users.  And the government eventually shut down the internet, leaving protest organizers to go back to more traditional ways of organizing.  But as you can see with their strategy, they wanted to create just one successful protest that would get people off their asses and out into the streets.  Once they got the people out, the protest would fuel itself because people would be motivated by other people and their actions.  Momentum is what they were seeking, and that is what they achieved.

    Also, I really dug the ‘Site 21’ strategy mentioned.  I think Col. John Boyd would be impressed with this strategy, as would any military strategist.  The protest was well planned and executed, and it used decoy marches to fool the police.  With that planning, they were also able to create a focal point or schwerpunkt at this Site 21, and depend on the masses to collect there and overwhelm any police forces that could respond. This massive show of people would be the fuel for future protests. This would further build on the inception of the Tunisian success in Egypt idea in everyone’s brain.  Success breeds success.

     Also it should be noted that ‘know yourself, know your enemy’ was extremely important to the success of these strategists.  They had protested and failed before, so they had that to learn from.  They had years to study the Egyptian riot police and how they operated.  They also learned what it took to motivate the people through a source of constant give and take feedback gold on such places as Facebook, Twitter, and activist forums.  And lets not forget the simple act of just talking on a phone or sending text as well?  The cellphone to me was probably the most important technological tool used, just because it was the one tool that everyone in the country had access too.

     Now for the down side.  Who knows what the outcome of all of this will be?  Will the Muslim Brotherhood take over in Egypt? Are we seeing the seeds of a Islamic Revolution throughout the region, much like what happened in Iran back in 1979?  Will the military in Egypt join with the people and their desired leader, or join with Mubarak and hurt the people to break the uprising? Or will the military just dissolve? Not to mention how all of this will impact the price of oil, US regional strategies and national interests, or even Egypt’s neighbor Israel?

     I don’t know, but I do know that other political uprisings will emerge because now there is a template.  Mimicry strategy, along with adding that one little edge specific to their region is the kind of stuff we will continue to see. Most importantly, there is momentum building and oppressed peoples will be more enthused to do something. –Matt

Go to Site 21!!!! This is our Tunisia!!!!

Egyptians Share Secrets of Uprising

FEBRUARY 10, 2011


CAIRO—The Egyptian opposition’s takeover of the area around the parliament this week began with a trick.

First, they called for a march on the state television building a few blocks north of their encampment in Tahrir Square. Then, while the army deployed to that sensitive communications hub, they moved into the lightly defended area around the parliament to the south.

The feint gave a taste of how a dozen young activists managed to outwit Egypt’s feared security forces to launch a historic uprising now in its 17th day—and hint at how the organizers hope to keep pressure on a regime that has dug in its heels.

On Jan. 25, the first day of protests, the organizers had a trick up their sleeves in the impoverished slum of Bulaq al-Dakrour, on Cairo’s western edge.

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