Friday, May 25, 2007

Sad Day in Myanmar

The Associated Press is reporting that, "Myanmar's military government on Friday extended the house arrest of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi for another year, defying an outpouring of international appeals for the Nobel Peace Prize winner's freedom." Click here to go to the full story.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cost Effective?

Is it cheaper to use nonviolence rather than war to oust a dictator?

People passionately argue about the moral imperative of government action or inaction. "We need to remove Saddam Hussein! He's evil." Never mind the debate as to whether or not one government should mess in the business of another. Never mind that there are lots of evil dictators that outside governments do not try to remove. And never mind the rule of unintended consequences (that you could make a bad situation worse.) If you assume that one country (or coalition) has the right to remove another country's leader, and assuming that it is ethically justified, what's more effective and cheaper . . . war or nonviolence?

Of course, every case is in a unique cultural and historical context, but for the sake of discussion, let's look at two examples. Slobodan Milošević was ousted by a largely student-led group known as Otpor, then was held accountable to a number of charges. The eleven week, nonviolent campaign did have outside financial support from the United States to the tune of $1,000,000, was internally directed, and successful. A wonderful documentary, Bringing Down a Dictator, is a wonderful resource on "The Orange Revolution."

On the other hand, we have the on-going war in Iraq. As of today, at 8 AM, the cost is almost $428.5 billion dollars. The dictator was also removed, however the war and its expense is continuing after more than four years.

One million versus 428.5 billion. Both dictators ousted. One campaign lasted eleven weeks, the other continues after four years.

And we aren't even talking about the number of lives lost.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

We know with the success of and others that the internet is a powerful tool for nonviolent change. Jose Antonio Vargas has an interesting piece the other day in The Washington Post, "Online, GOP Is Playing Catch-Up," showing the Dems about four years ahead of the Republicans. He's looking at presidential candidate website hits, use of social networking sites, and internet fund-raising. It seems that the Democrats inability to agree on anything is actually a better fit for the internet than the disciplined, party line of the Republicans.

My colleague, Adrienne, has a blog you may also find relevant. Politics & PR: Communication and Conservative Commentary "will focus on the intersection of communication theory and politics." Take a look and learn!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Welcome to Dynamic Nonviolence!

Nonviolence as a philosophy and nonviolent direct action as a strategy have both been around for a very, very, very long time. As such, students and practitioners know that there is much to be learned from the experiences and insights of others across history and across the globe. The purpose of this little blog is to have a spot where we can share these experiences and insights, ask questions and advice, and talk about resources that could be of help in teaching, in action, and for inspiration. I'll try to do this without preference to particular political affiliations, and focus on the process and effects of the action.

I'm going to start with a favorite. Soulforce is an amazing faith-based group whose mission is, ". . . freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance." What was particularly classy this week was their public statement regarding the death of Jerry Falwell. They separated the sin from the sinner, offered heart-felt condolences to the family and to Rev. Falwell's associates, honoring the man, and expressing sadness that he never understood that the GLBT community members are God's children, too. For an interview with Soulforce founder, Mel White, click here.