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.