Notes from Nov. 13 Class: Civilian Based Defense

 “…We may be able to give up military weapons for the same reason we gave up bows and arrows—not because they are wicked and immoral—but because we have discovered a better weapons system.”

- Gene Sharp 

Respond in pairs: Nonviolent actions may work against “normal” or logical people, but when you’re dealing with “non normal” or non-logical people like terrorists or Hitler, you have to use a method they can understand (violent means).

Major Applications of Nonviolent Action


•Social change
•Social defense
   –- Environmental Defense


–Community Defense (against drug dealing, for example)


–Political Defense (against coups and foreign invasion)


•Third party nonviolent intervention

Historical Examples

Czechoslovakia in 1968

•500,000 Soviet troops entered the country
•Czech leaders that weren't kidnapped by the Soviets issued statements denying that the troops had been invited in
•A pirate radio network (which had been set up in case of a NATO invasion) coordinated the resistance- clandestine congress, short general strikes and urging the people to remain nonviolent
•Soviet troops had to be rotated out of Czechoslovakia in a few days because of morale problems
Russia in 1991
•Much of the KGB, army, and Communist Party leadership decided to seize the state
–Arrested Gorbachev
–Took over the media and mobilized tanks
•Protestors surrounded the House of Parliament, tanks
•In face of protests, military changed sides
The Ruhr in Germany in 1923
•French invasion in 1923
•German president Ebert counsels "passive resistance"
•German citizens disobey the occupiers and block coal shipments
•Nonviolent resistance unravels when harsh French countermeasures are triggered by German extremists' violence
Denmark during WWII (video)
Preparation Needed
•Citizens trained in nonviolent tactics so they would be able to function without a centralized leadership
•Corps of defense workers to coordinate the resistance
•Stockpiling of food, fuel and other essentials
•Contingency plans to relocate some of the population to rural areas where control would be more difficult
•Practice drills
•Mutual nonviolent defense treaties could be implemented between nations to help out with international boycotts and embargoes
•Decentralize industries
•Easier in smaller countries
•Foundation connected with citizens developing nonviolent strategy and tactics in campaigns for social change
•One component of a more comprehensive security system
Must decide what it is about your society that you want to defend (economic, social, political, ideological and ecological)
Civilian-Based Defense in the U.S.?
•U.S. Americans would first need a narrower definition of national security
•Train civilians to report possible terrorist acts.
•Train civilians to resist terrorists if they do take over an airplane, train, or bus using the skills of noncooperation and appropriate force.
•How to encourage this without promoting vigilante-style law enforcement using lethal weapons?
•“Transarmament,” alongside military defense
•In February 1991 the Lithuanian Supreme Council (parliament) voted to make nonviolent noncooperation their first line of defense in case of an intensified Soviet occupation
•In 1986 the Swedish parliament unanimously voted for the inclusion of a small nonviolent resistance component in their "total defense" policy
•China, Bolivia and Costa Rica
  [In a nonviolent campaign] how do you get enough people involved to make a difference?