Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Reading between the lines Egypt was being set-up for regime change - Mubarak was old and becoming a liability, and the usual cadres were being flown in for training before being sent back to organise local efforts - but Washington didn't expect regime change to happen just yet. So there's no blowback, so much as surprise at the strength of popular feeling which could be channeled into overthrow.

As for the usefulness of the methods - a key point in the argument against Sharp is that there's no evidence they actually work as advertised. All of the "success stories" were funded and pushed externally, not created spontaneously.

And you can't take Egypt as evidence if the key planners were personally US-trained, rather than independently Sharp-inspired.

If the narrative is that all you have to do is hand out copies of Sharp's books and wait for freedom after an inevitable low body count - which was the implication of the original NYT piece - clearly, that's nonsense. That has never happened anywhere, and never will.

You can of course take the point that formal study of methods of civil disobedience and resistance with active practice and organisation can be powerful things.

But I don't think Sharp's supporters are going to pretend that he invented an idea that has been around in one form or another for hundreds of years.

So what is actually new here? It seems to me the only formal innovation is a catalogue of methods - which except for the Internet and media elements, wouldn't surprise anyone from the 19th century - and the suggestion that nation states can use these methods to support regime change on their own terms.

As I said in my diary, I think that idea has obvious appeal in Washington, for obvious reasons. What I'm less convinced by is its usefulness for independent dissent.

In fact that the idea that you can use these methods successfully could actually be dangerous, because it's likely to instill false confidence and minimise the messy reality of regime change.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 06:13:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Others have rated this comment as follows:


Occasional Series