Friday, September 30, 2011

Nonviolence/Civil Resistance Works, Chenoweth and Stephan

Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict

Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan
August, 2011
Cloth, 320 pages, 11 figures, 19 tables
ISBN: 978-0-231-15682-0
$29.00 / £20.00

For more than a century, from 1900 to 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts in achieving their stated goals. By attracting impressive support from citizens, whose activism takes the form of protests, boycotts, civil disobedience, and other forms of nonviolent noncooperation, these efforts help separate regimes from their main sources of power and produce remarkable results, even in Iran, Burma, the Philippines, and the Palestinian Territories.

Combining statistical analysis with case studies of specific countries and territories, Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan detail the factors enabling such campaigns to succeed and, sometimes, causing them to fail. They find that nonviolent resistance presents fewer obstacles to moral and physical involvement and commitment, and that higher levels of participation contribute to enhanced resilience, greater opportunities for tactical innovation and civic disruption (and therefore less incentive for a regime to maintain its status quo), and shifts in loyalty among opponents’ erstwhile supporters, including members of the military establishment.

Chenoweth and Stephan conclude that successful nonviolent resistance ushers in more durable and internally peaceful democracies, which are less likely to regress into civil war. Presenting a rich, evidentiary argument, they originally and systematically compare violent and nonviolent outcomes in different historical periods and geographical contexts, debunking the myth that violence occurs because of structural and environmental factors and that it is necessary to achieve certain political goals. Instead, the authors discover, violent insurgency is rarely justifiable on strategic grounds.

Related Subjects


About the Author

Erica Chenoweth is an assistant professor of government at Wesleyan University. Previously she was a fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a visiting fellow at the University of California at Berkeley's Institute of International Studies.

Maria J. Stephan is a strategic planner with the U.S. Department of State. Formerly she served as director of policy and research at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) and as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and American University. She has also been a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Balance in US Foreign Affairs

By Dick Bennett
     I like the principle of balance, of mental or emotional steadiness, proportion, harmonious integration.   You know the expression to explain a loud outburst:   He’s temporarily off balance.   Philosophers have extolled the “Golden Mean”:  the equilibrium of not too much, not too little.  A balanced diet.  Balance of nature.   Balance of trade.
     It’s true in foreign policy too.   Balance of power.  Balance of terror.  Consider US wars.   We were Westward once.   Four hundred Indian nations exterminated.    Two-thirds of Mexico expropriated.
      We don’t hear much about the Filipino-American War (1899-1902).   About a million Filipinos died directly or as a result of the US scorched earth pacification campaigns.  Various forms of torture, such as “water cure” (familiar to us today as waterboarding) were systematically applied on prisoners.    One historian described the unjustified invasion and occupation as an “orgy of racist slaughter,” while the perverse mainstream public tolerated and sometimes celebrated the horror.
       This was all a problem of Westward imbalance.   We got out of balance Westward.    It took a long time, but eventually we regained our balance.   World War One was a start.  Then World War Two in Europe balanced the Pacific Campaign   And finally,  after Hiroshima and Nagasaki,  the Korean War, and  the Vietnam War, after assessing our gains and losses Westward and not feeling as reassured as we thought we would after so much expense and so many lives, we turned eastward in search of  equipoise..  
        UNICEF reported that as a consequence of the First Gulf War invasion and decade of bombings of Iraq 500,000 children died.  Secretary Albright said it was worth it.   Then we invaded Afghanistan.   The US makes no body count in these eastern wars, but Wikipedia estimates possibly 37,000 Afghans have been killed since the 2001 invasion.  Wikipedia cautions that all counts are probably underestimates.   The body count in Iraq is so contentious that Wikipedia resorts to citing estimates by various private organizations.   Iraq Body Count using WikiLeaks revelations gives over 150,000. Iraqis directly killed. gives 2744 coalition forces killed in Afghanistan and 4794 in Iraq.   Of course, and for all of these statistics, the indirect deaths (health infrastructure destroyed) may double the count.
        But despite these counts, we cannot say we have balanced West with East, for Eastward slaughters are small compared to Westward, but these wars are new, and our newest president and generals believe in balance.
      To make this argument iron-clad, we only need to remember that US wars in Central America  function as the balance pole.     Invasions to the west, invasions to the east, and in between invasions southward of Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Grenada, Panama, and Nicaragua.  
       The gratifying symmetry of it all proves admirable forethought in global planning for security by our leaders.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stop US Attacks on Pakistan, Contract Not Expand the Empire

No U.S. Escalation in Pakistan: A Petition for Diplomacy Now!
September 28, 2011 Issue 62 

Published by Tom Hayden, The Peace Exchange Bulletin is a reader-supported journal, critically following the Pentagon's Long War in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, as well as the failed U.S. wars on drugs and gangs, and U.S. military responses to nationalism and poverty around the world.
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As always, your comments and thoughts are appreciated. Please stay tuned for more improvements to our website.


Tom Hayden
No U.S. Escalation in Pakistan
A Petition for Diplomacy Now!

An unmanned US Predator drone. (AFP, Bonny Schoonakker)
We, the undersigned, urge President Obama to keep his June 20, 2009 promise that "we have no intention of sending United States troops into Pakistan."

We oppose the looming threat of US cross-border raids into Pakistan, as well as the continued escalation of drone strikes. Peace cannot be won by lopsided Western military intervention, but only by negotiated compromise and regional diplomacy. As Pakistani journalist Zahid Hussain concludes, "a political settlement is the only endgame."

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan gradually wind down, now is the time to de-escalate the US war in Pakistan and adopt a diplomatic exit strategy.

Instead, the US is on the verge of sending ground troops into Pakistan as well as escalating its aerial drone attacks.

We call for bipartisan Congressional hearings to recommend a Pakistan peace strategy to the administration.
Continue reading and sign the petition...
An Expanding War in Pakistan
270 Drone Strikes and Counting

U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2011. (New America Foundation)

Slowly but surely, the United States is creeping deeper and deeper into a disastrous war in Pakistan. The peace movement and its political and media allies need to be ready. There is a growing community of activists and journalists already protesting and documenting the aerial drone wars over Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. But the debate about drones cannot be isolated from the context of their use in the Long War as a substitute for American ground troops and in response to peace pressure from the American public.
The peace movement could lose the debate if drones are seen in purely moral or economic terms, or as a loss of democratic transparency, important though these perspectives may be. The fact is, however, that the use of drones will endanger American lives and security as they inevitably provoke violent counter-attacks, such as those of December 25, 2009 (Detroit Metro Airport), February 2010 (guilty pleas in New York subway bombing plot), and May 1, 2010 (Times Square). The US already has a secret contingency plan to strike at 150 sites, nearly all in Pakistan, if another incident occurs that is traceable to any Pakistani source. 
Continue reading...
In This Issue
Petition: No U.S. Escalation in Pakistan
An Expanding War in Pakistan
Getting Afghanistan Straight
Debating J Street
War and Financial Crisis
Going Through Withdrawals
Obama: End the Wars, Tax the Rich
Direct Action Campaign
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The United States and Torture
By Marjorie Cohn 

A detailed overview from NYU Press, The United States and Torture by Marjorie Cohn is one of the few works linking torture abroad with the  techniques exposed in American prisons and police departments.
"With hopes we can bring the torture team to justice," says Cohn, now a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, in San Diego.

Getting Afghanistan Straight
US is Intervening in Civil War

Map of Afghan Ethnicities (Congressional Research Service)
The mainstream media has defaulted by its failure to report Afghanistan as basically a civil war in which the US and NATO are intervening powers, cloaking their operations under the cover of the United Nations Assistance Program.

The danger of escalating civil war - perhaps prompting calls for further Western intervention - is the crucial context for understanding the latest crisis, the September 20 assassination of Afghanistan's former president and chief diplomat in charge of stalled peace talks, Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Continue reading...
Debating J Street
The Palestinian UN Bid

"There is a reason the Palestinians are pursuing their interests at the United Nations. They recognize that there is an impatience with the peace process, or the absence of one, not just in the Arab world, in Latin America, in Asia and in Europe." 
- President Barack Obama, speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), May 22, 2011

In lobbying to block the Obama administration from supporting UN recognition of a Palestinian state, AIPAC and the so-called Israel Lobby may have sidelined the US as the world moves forward anyway. It is too early to predict, but the Arab bloc, Turkey, most Latin American governments and several major European states are poised to endorse the Palestinian bid.

Continue reading...
War and Financial Crisis
Linda Bilmes & Joseph Stiglitz in the LA Times 

Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz have added a key link to the current debt crisis in their continuing criticism of the costs of war. See their analysis in the Los Angeles Times on September 18.

Continue reading...
Going Through Withdrawals
Jonesing in Afghanistan and Iraq
A US soldier observes a bombing strike during a firefight in Kunar Province. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)
American combat in Iraq and Afghanistan is ending. Not that flare-ups, implosions and dramas aren't ahead. Not that blood won't be spilled. Not that drones won't attack from the skies of Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond. Not that secret ops won't happen, or American advisers won't be embedded in obscure places.

But the will, the force, and the momentum sustaining American combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are in definite decline as President Obama orders the pullout of 33,000 troops from Afghanistan and ponders whether to leave a minimal force of 3-4,000 in Iraq.

Continue reading...
End the Wars, Tax the Rich

President Obama is framing the deficit debate around two core initiatives, winding down the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire.

Both approaches are within Obama's executive power to carry out, independent of the Tea Party, corporate Democrats or Congress factions.

Continue reading...
Direct Action Campaign
Beginning October 6 

New York police already are harassing, arresting, and pepper-spraying non-violent peace and justice protesters as they begin to occupy public squares in Washington and around the country. Thousands are expected to be arrested.
For information on the campaign, please visit October 2011.

For PJRC analysis of police actions against street protests, please read, "New FBI Raids: Millions More in Taxes, But Where's the Threat?"

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