Sharp as a Modern Jomini?

Sharp as a Modern Jomini?

In response to an earlier post, Barry Zellen, former research assistant to Gene Sharp and current Editor of The Culture & Conflict Review, sent us this email,

"I liked Renascent's comment in your blog, 'Gene Sharp is to non-violent strategies as Clausewitz was to Napolean: a theorist who studies the practitioners, generating and synthesizing the underlying insights.' I've come to see Sharp's writings as Jominian, in the best sense of the word - Jomini predominated for decades before Clausewitz gained a second wind - and like Jomini, Sharp has extracted/elucidated actionable methods from his studies that have been useful (not always with successful outcomes) to practitioners. It's exciting to see Sharp's work quickly find a new and global audience."

Barry recently published Muscular Nonviolence: Beyond the Terror War in the Winter/Spring 2011 Issue of The Culture and Conflict Review.

BLUF. An unexpected wave of people-powered insurgencies, waged bravely by unarmed protesters against the many mightily-armed secular and theocratic dictatorships that span the Middle East and North Africa, has shaken the very foundations of not only the region, but of the entire world order.

People-power is not a new phenomenon, but has roots that date back to ancient times, having fueled the Christian movement that internally transformed the Roman Empire, and providing ever since an alternate model of insurgency from those of presented by the heroic guerrilla campaigns of both Spartacus and the Zealots who took their own lives at Masada. The Cold War, which held the world hostage to the ominously delicate balance of terror, came to its swift end not by a fiery nuclear exchange as many had long feared, but by the massed popular resistance of democratic movements that rose up to topple the communist autocrats who enforced Moscow's will. The people, when united, seem to almost never be defeated -- with notable exceptions that include China and Burma, where competent communist or military oligarchies have successfully held onto power in the face of popular uprisings for several generations. And, so now in Arabic and Farsi we hear a new generation of nonviolent insurgents cry out for change -- with Tunisia and now Egypt forever transformed by popular revolts combined with military realignments in which the required loyalty of the armed forces shifted tectonically from state to people with decisive results.

To understand the power of the people as manifested in this wave of popular revolt, its potential for success against tyrannical regimes recognized as ruthlessly Machiavellian by even their closest friends and allies, a natural starting point is the very archetype of strategic nonviolence, Mohandas K. Gandhi -- known to many of his followers as "Mahatma" ("Saint") Gandhi.

Much more at The Culture & Conflict Review

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Do I understand correctly? Regardless where the Egyptian dust settles, the U.S. will continue to pay an annual 1.3 million dollars in FMF to the Egyptian military? By extension, are we saying that the U.S. would continue to provide subsidies if the Egyptian military assumes a more militant personality as long as it does not initiate hostilities, attacks, keeps guerrillas from crossing the Sinai, or turn an overtly blind eye to weapons smuggling?

The amounts may change, but yes, I suspect that as long as that perceived interest remains in place any Egyptian government that delivers the goods will collect the check. Less "aid" than a deal, really. We pay for specific things, and we keep paying as long as they're delivered..

All agreements have a tendency to drift over time. If so, we'd might want to war-game (peace-game) this course of action... if only to get the definitions straight.

Interests drift, and agreements drift with them... all I'm saying is that a military force that knows what we perceive our interests to be may not be entirely swayed by a threat to cut off aid if they see themselves emerging from a conflict in a position to deliver what we've traditionally paid for. They know we make gestures, and they also know that when the dust settles the gestures are past and the interests are present. They're likely to reason, fairly astutely, that as long as they have power they'll be in a position to make a new deal.

As long as we have provocateurs and entrepreneurs we will keep the historians busy... having been all three at one time or another I suppose I've no standing to complain about that... not that complaining would change anything!

Dayuhan,

... you are right. Economic sanctions (for sake of this conversation I define military spending as economic aid) are not in and of themselves a dominant factor... Economic sanctions take too long for targeted effect... and most importantly they affect the wrong target audience. IMO, economic sanctions are one of the more sillier choice of statecraft when applied in an "area" vice "point" manner. I researched how the concept of economic sanctions/warfare developed. It is not very old... briefs well, great beat... but you can't dance to it in the real world... most of the time.

... you are also correct the locals must "want to take out the garbage"... I embrace perception management as an expression of modern (as well as ancient) statecraft. Modern statecraft creates its own reality with appropriate camera angles and creation of own myth/narrative distributed (contagion) via a given social network's communications (command and control) architecture. Psyopers/provocateurs/political warriors/entrepreneurs get it... I very much support your effort to get the locals to do the right thing without the U.S. applying leverage (as little leverage as it may be).

Do I understand correctly? Regardless where the Egyptian dust settles, the U.S. will continue to pay an annual 1.3 million dollars in FMF to the Egyptian military? By extension, are we saying that the U.S. would continue to provide subsidies if the Egyptian military assumes a more militant personality as long as it does not initiate hostilities, attacks, keeps guerrillas from crossing the Sinai, or turn an overtly blind eye to weapons smuggling? All agreements have a tendency to drift over time. If so, we'd might want to war-game (peace-game) this course of action... if only to get the definitions straight.

I agree with you that U.S. aid is an expression of interests and amounts of monies spent on U.S. aid an expression of priorities. While I agree that after all that's said and done an "interest" might still exist... it might have changed or morphed into something quite different. It might be more pressing, remain the same, or assume a less pressing character to name just three... Interests change; are not all elemental or timeless and are not necessarily a zero-sum proposition... IMO.

Speaking of aid to try and break the chain of command and turn military units against their nominal leaders... I wonder if some party in Libya has already approached the U.S. for aid... Anyone remember "making contact with their first sheik"? Stealing a march on a rival.

... I didn't mean to imply that you and I disagree much... I sought to highlight the evitability that there are some who will be disappointed that we agree on much... because there is opportunity in chaos... and those dang provocateurs are always looking for opportunities... as are those dang entrepreneurs :-)

Historians rejoice... this is not the end of history...

v/r
MAC

I didn't mean to suggest that the money was going to Mubarak. My point was that the money is being paid to advance specific strategic goals that will still be there when the dust settles, and that reduces the leverage that the money can exert. Whatever government emerges from the upheaval would still be in a position to make the same bargain: abstention from war with Israel and suppression of overt Islamist influence in exchange for aid.

If there is one thing that almost everyone in the world knows, it is that if you have something America wants, you're in a position to get American money. The US may hint at cutting aid, but the basic equation remains, and that's pretty widely recognized. Hints and threats may come and go, but the interests will still be there at the end of the disorder, and the aid is going to come back if you play your cards half right.

Egypt seemed an unusual case in that when push came to shove, the military turned out to be independent all the way to the top. 3rd world dictators typically pack the top ranks with individuals chosen for absolute loyalty rather than competence, one reason why they tend to do badly at fighting. In these cases threats to withdraw aid will have little impact on the top brass: continued aid does you little good if you're on your way to exile or dangling at the wrong end of a rope. At that point you're looking at using a threat of aid reduction to try and break the chain of command and turn military units against their nominal leaders.

I wouldn't say that aid and the threat to withdraw it isn't a factor, but I suspect that its influence is often overrated, and that it is rarely, if ever, the dominant factor. I also suspect that its impact is less in the prospect of losing money than in the overall balance of perceptions. That makes the timing of the threat a key issue: these rebellions often hit a point where defections start to snowball, and that's a key factor in building the perception that the regime is done and it's time to jump ship. The reaction we're looking for is less "if we don't dump this guy the Americans will cut us off" than "this guy is done, even the Americans are bailing on him, it's time to change sides".

I don't really think we disagree much; it's just a question of what factors have what influence at what time in the curve of decline... and that of course varies from case to case.

Dayuhan,

... I didn't say that the money was going to Mubarak... I said that the money was going to the Egyptian government and bureaucracy... The Egyptian military receives 1.3 billion annually in FMF... 1.3 billion dollars represents a lot of leverage (leakage) within the system as this money moves throughout the military bureaucracy and existing and emerging patronage and political networks... Are you saying that this money does not represent potential leverage in U.S. - Egyptian relations to shape events... or a potential backlash if we would hint at curtailing monetary support? Leveraging tactics abound. We will have to disagree.

I am not so sure that "everybody making decisions" anywhere, knows everything all the time :-)

Absolutely, the main concern for any power-broker (merchant families, military and political elites, etc, etc) would be to come out on the winning side (hence the age old social strategy not to place all your eggs in one basket)... and a whole bunch of back-channel talk concerning what needs to be done, and when, and by whom" is always going on in the existing kith and kin networks or existing and emerging patronage relationships/security alliances. It appears that in strategy, timing is king.

Fence-sitting is a viable tactic and hence my comment that those who start a rebellion (unarmed) are usually not the ones who finish (armed) and/or the ones who reap the benefits of revolution (power). Also, the rationale to fire upon demonstrators can be based on both the perception that you have lost or that you have won.

A disorganized unarmed challenge does indeed provide different choices and challenges. There is opportunity in chaos...

We agree more than we disagree and are a likely disappointment to those looking for a bit of bloodshed :-)

r/
MAC

Mac,

Re this:

Hypothetically, U.S. verbal support may translate into reconsideration of types of U.S. monetary spending in support of the Egyptian government/bureaucracy... This could imply curtailing monetary support to the Egyptian military. The Egyptian military leadership depends on this money to maintain control over its soldiery...

Hypothetically, yes, it may, and it could. Realistically, though, everybody making decisions in Egypt (using Egypt as an example) knows that the US money wasn't coming because of Mubarak, it was coming because of US strategic imperatives that would still be in place when the confrontation ended. Any government that came out of the upheaval, new or old, would get US help, as long as it didn't make war on Israel or embrace Islamic fundamentalism, though if repression were severe it might take some time and some people might have to be thrown to the sharks.

The main concern would be to come out on the winning side and not to do anything that could be used against you down the line. It may seem odd to think that the people who decide which side wins would be concerned with coming out on the right side, but in times of chaos things don't always move together. Nobody would want to be the first to fire on demonstrators, nobody would want to be first to jump ship and support them. I'm sure there was a whole bunch of back-channel talk going on about what needed to be done, and when, and by whom. For sure a lot of people would be looking to see what others were doing.

When the rebellion in Manila happened in '86 (different from Egypt in notable respects) the response of most military units was to stay on the fence as long as possible. Units near Manila simply didn't move... some had no gas for the trucks, others had all their men out on patrol against the communists, others had mysterious communication breakdowns, etc. Everybody was waiting to see which way the wind was blowing before committing.

In this position senior people close to the regime, who would almost certainly be eased out if the regime fell (and who have prepared bolt-holes abroad) have a much greater incentive to stick with the regime than those on the operational level.

In Egypt, the armed forces appeared to deal with that by moving in concert, top down, with even the top level abandoning the regime. In other cases (Manila among them) the top tier of the loyalist military was simply ignored. In both cases US aid was present, but in both cases military leaders knew that if the regime survived aid was going to continue, unless there was an absolute bloodbath. I don't really think US threats of reduced aid were a critical "armament" for the anti-regime movement in either case. Concern over continuing aid might have held military leaders back from shooting into crowds, but it wouldn't necessarily lead them to switch sides.

In Libya, of course, there is no external patron to threaten, and the leader's personal forces mean that loss of of control of the armed forces is not the checkmate that it is for most despots.

You could say the crowd initiates, the military is forced into a position where it has to choose. The choice that gets made comes down to a lot of factors, varying in each case. I suspect that the spontaneous and unarmed crowd makes it easier for a military to choose against the regime. The Philippine military didn't face armed commies and the Egyptians didn't face armed Islamists; they weren't dealing with traditional enemies that they were conditioned to fight. An organized armed (as in armed with guns) challenge would have almost certainly been met with armed force in either case. A disorganized unarmed challenge provided a different kind of choice.

I agree, it is both useful and pleasant to exchange opinion and experience without having to elevate variance to argument. Not that argument doesn't have its place, but even in the internet, it needn't be mandatory!

Dayuhan,

In light of the topic of our conversation, namely, rebellion and revolution, I submit that my definition of "arms" and "armed" is not at all an excessive expansion of the definition :-)

Here is how I equate the definition with events.

Foreign support, e.g. U.S. moral support/influence is a form of armament for what we might romantically label the Egyptian "unarmed, people-powered insurgency"... Hypothetically, U.S. verbal support may translate into reconsideration of types of U.S. monetary spending in support of the Egyptian government/bureaucracy... This could imply curtailing monetary support to the Egyptian military. The Egyptian military leadership depends on this money to maintain control over its soldiery... The military leadership therefore decides to allow the demonstrations to continue and maybe even force a "relief-in-place" and "transfer of authority" for maintaining order in the public square from the security police to the national military. Theoretically, the great "unarmed, people-powered insurgency" has now gained an ally who is very well armed (better armed than the security police) and better prepared to renegotiate the social contract with the local elites... Is this not one of the reasons we seek to strip the military away from the tyrant? The unarmed have gained an instrument... a weapon... i.e. the military and are now themselves armed.

Absolutely correct in your assessment that the armed forces' perception of the regime's survivability is key... God forbid that the Egyptian military would want to happen to it what happened to the Iranian military when it lost its special position and influence to the Revolutionary Guards or the French military forces that served Louis XVI when it lost its special position and influence to the levée en masse and the likes of those revolutionary officers such as Napoleon Bonaparte ("There is a field marshal's baton in every Soldier's knapsack"). The Libya military, on the other hand, might actually welcome the current fighting (revolution) because it might actually seek to reestablish its special position once held under King Idris (removed by Qaddafi in a bloodless coup d'état in 1969).

..."dictators are never as strong; the people never as weak." It's all perception management... is it not? And since it is all perception management, I'd rather not be swayed by hyperbole, emotional appeal and revolutionary rhetoric/narratives... not that there is anything wrong with propaganda :-)

Thanks for the conversation... I very much enjoy this exchange of opinions...

v/r
MAC

Mac:

I remain unconvinced that unarmed, people-powered insurgencies raging against mightily-armed secular and theocratic dictatorships will shake the very foundations of the entire world order

I'd agree with that, mainly because there just aren't that many dictatorships of consequence left, and dictatorships do not constitute a foundation for the world order. While these rebellions, or insurgencies, whatever may not "shake the very foundations of the entire world order", though, they do have the potential to rock some boats, especially if they happen in places with lots of oil.

Maybe not earthshaking, but not insignificant either... also rather unpredictable and with a variety of possible outcomes, which is enough to make them worthy of attention, if not hyperbole.

I submit that the "unarmed, people-driven insurgencies" are anything but... The notion of "armed" is broader than just a guy or gal with a rock, stick, pistol, rifle or infantry battalion in support. In the case of Mubarak, the "people" were provided with "arms" after the President of the United States publicly supported the demonstrations

I'd submit that this is parhaps an excessive expansion of the definition of "arms" and "armed". Certainly foreign support adds credibility to a mass demonstration, especially if the regime once relied on the support of the foreign power involved, but I'm not sure I'd equate that influence with armament.

That relates to Sharp's comment, quoted by Matt:

"dictators are never as strong as they tell you they are, the people are never as weak as they think they are."

I'd say the strength of both dictator and people rests heavily on where the armed forces decide their interests and intentions lie. We can talk all we want about the power of the people, but when the bullets fly the power of the people gets very hypothetical very quickly.

Understanding these rebellions often oomes down to understanding what makes armies change sides, at least as much as understanding what makes an urban population take to the streets. Lots of factors are involved, but the armed forces' perception of the regime's survivability is key among them. That in turn will be affected by the position of foreign patrons (if there are any), but perceived likelihood of consequences being imposed on those who supported the regime, the degree to which key leaders are personally associated with the regime, their perceived ability to hold their positions under a new regime, and a lot of other stuff.

I like the way Sharp recently put it on BBC, "dictators are never as strong as they tell you they are, the people are never as weak as they think they are." Once the usual vector of who-fears-whom gets reversed, all bets are off. This time around, it sure seems like people-power has shaken things up a lot (...but maybe I'm just watching too much Anderson Cooper this week?)

At the very least, this could make a very cool book - anybody up for a chapter?

... I proposed that "raging against a mightily armed opponent" and " raging against a regime that no longer has full control of its repressive apparatus" were different.. not opposites or incompatible, especially in light of the thesis that "unarmed, people-powered insurgencies will shake the very foundations of not only the region, but of the entire world order".

I disagree with nothing you write after the "I don't see these (raging against a strong or weakened regime) as opposite or even incompatible" comment. You are also absolutely correct, the notion of "heavily armed" is relative... I'd rather be provided artillery support by two tubes at 100% munitions fill than a battery of six tubes of artillery at 10% munitions fill.

I submit that the "unarmed, people-driven insurgencies" are anything but... The notion of "armed" is broader than just a guy or gal with a rock, stick, pistol, rifle or infantry battalion in support. In the case of Mubarak, the "people" were provided with "arms" after the President of the United States publicly supported the demonstrations for greater participation in government and warned the Mubarak government directly and his confederates indirectly to limit their response. I would sit up and notice if I was a high-ranking member of the Egyptian military command. This fact may have empowered the better organized "unarmed-people-powered-groups" in negotiations with the appropriate military leadership and wealthy elites to renegotiate the social contract. If I was a member of the Libya military command (and member of this or that tribe), I might also think twice before firing into the crowd, especially after being warned that I might be held personally (or tribally) accountable for any casualties my actions might create. The chances of stripping military units from Qaddafi appears to be easier in Libya... especially since the Libya military was never truly trusted by the tyrant... He created his own Mamlukes to safeguard his hold on power... Sounds familiar.

... so, I remain unconvinced that unarmed, people-powered insurgencies raging against mightily-armed secular and theocratic dictatorships will shake the very foundations of the entire world order... but I agree wholeheartedly with you that "perceptions of strength and durability, on the part of both supporters and opponents, is as important as the level of anger in determining when and how people will rebel" and that the specifics on the street are different in every case. I spent some time in Monrovia, Liberia during one of their unpleasantness and can certainly relate to what you are saying.

which is it that shakes the very foundations of not only the region, but of the entire world order? Unarmed, people-powered insurgencies raging against mightily-armed secular and theocratic dictatorships (Barry)... or people-powered insurgencies raging against a regime that no longer has full control of its repressive apparatus (Dayuhan)

I don't see these as opposite or even incompatible. A dictatorship may be heavily armed, whether secular or religious (and it doesn't take much to be "heavily armed" relative to an unarmed populace), but it relies on its armed forces to deploy those arms with any effectiveness. If the individuals in those forces decide that shooting their own people is morally wrong, or that the regime has lost its mojo and they don't want to be on the wrong side of the fence, the dictator may find that the strings he's pulling don't control the little puppets any more. He may even find those armaments pointing in his direction.

There are lots of choices involved. The populace, as individuals, has to balance legitimate anger at exploitation, corruption, and oppression against reasonable fear of getting killed. The agents of the regime, whether armed or not, balance loyalty against recognition that the regime sucks, and self-interest often is the deciding factor: nobody wants to be on the wrong side when the music stops, and if the agents of the regime believe that their patron is done, they will often jump ship. Who will jump and who will stay is often difficult to predict.

I guess all that's meant to say is that perceptions of the regime and its strength and durability, on the part of both supporters and opponents, is as important as the level of anger in determining when and how people will rebel. A perceived decline in regime capacity can be as important a triggering factor as an increase in popular anger.

How it works on the street is different in every case. I've been through it once and could tell you exactly how it worked in that case, but that would have very limited relevance to any other case, at least in any really specific sense.

Dayuhan, Barry,

So... which is it that shakes the very foundations of not only the region, but of the entire world order? Unarmed, people-powered insurgencies raging against mightily-armed secular and theocratic dictatorships (Barry)... or people-powered insurgencies raging against a regime that no longer has full control of its repressive apparatus (Dayuhan)...

Samuel E. Finer's "The Man on Horseback: The Role of the Military in Politics" actually addresses Barry's point of severing the armed forces from the reigning sovereign... Finer draws a distinction between the community or state (symbolized by the sovereign/political formula) and the government of the day.

Lots of variables in play before a regime loses full control of its repressive apparatus... or before a people-powered insurgency assembles on the streets...

Charles X of France deposed in 1830 is an appropriate case study for how a solidly constituted government, supported by an imposing army, can be overthrown by a few rioters... It still baffles some historians/ social scientists today.

I apologize, but I can't bring myself to accept cliches such as "pure people power" at face value... I happen to believe that it is all fine and good to discuss abstractions such as "popular or divine will" but in the end it must be expressed in diplomacy and warfare to be of any use to anyone. Thought experiments are one thing... but it is in the streets where blood is shed.

As long as we are pulling Clausewitz into the conversation, "true" war is a theoretical construct envisioned as an opposite to "real" war... To understand and appreciate why Clausewitz exploits opposites, one should first study Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel i.e. Hegelian Dialectic. True war, or for sake of this discussion, "pure-people power" is impossible for moderating factors i.e. friction influences and shapes "das Ding an Sich Selbst" (Immanuel Kant) until it is no longer pure or true.

Oh, yeah... Clausewitz makes your head hurt!

While I enjoy philosophy and ideological discourse very much... I remain too utilitarian in my critique of new and fanciful concepts... and to Enlightenment in my thinking... i.e. skeptical that any of this stuff is truly new and improved or actually applicable to explain life's many foibles.

Explain to me how it works on the ground and I am sure to change my mind in your favor.

v/r
MAC

I agree w/Dayuhan; people-power aims to fracture the ruling trinity of power, severing the armed forces from the state & persuading military commanders to protect the people from the state (and not the other way around.) But if the armed forces don't defect to the popular cause en masse & instead splinter, civil or intertribal war can result, as evident in Libya. But there's still hope this reunion of people and armed forces will continue all the way to Tripoli.

Gian, I agree that people-power may indeed grow out of the barrel of a gun but when wielded most efficiently, no shots need be fired since the opponent does the math & recognizes the game is over (or he gives the order, only to be ignored.) But sometimes the opponent's not so good at math, Khadafi case in point. Or he still wields some limited command authority, enough to strike back at the popular mass.

Then the popular will may need to find expression in more traditional tools of war (as that thoughtful observer so ably demonstrated.) Pure people-power is akin to another thoughtful observer's conception of absolute war, an idealization of what in reality is often less elegant - one end of the full spectrum of popular war. The most successful people-power campaigns fulfill yet another (and much earlier) thoughtful observer's definition of the 'acme of skill' in waging war w/o recourse to fighting - but not all can be waged so efficiently.

what happens if a regime refuses to permit a revolt

Successful nonviolent rebellions happen when the regime no longer has the capacity to prevent them.

I wonder how long it will take for some ruthless bastard to figure out that the unarmed, people-powered insurgency is ... well... unarmed.

When the ruthless bastard gives the order to fire on the insurgents and the guys with guns decline to comply, the ruthless bastard suddenly realizes that he is also unarmed, or at least badly outnumbered.

Successful unarmed rebellion doesn't happen just because popular outrage has surged to the point where it can no longer be contained. It happens because the populace realizes that the regime no longer has full control of its repressive apparatus. If the uprising happens while the regime still controls significant armed force, you get either a crushed rebellion (e.g. Tiananmen) or a civil war (where Libya looks to be heading).

As usual on these things I am with Mac.

If it is people power, it grows, as one thoughtful observer once quipped, "out of the barrel of a gun." Those folks in Libya battling the government are not doing it with flowers in their hair.

gian

... a bit of a hyperbole to exclaim the end of political violence to be replaced by a future of unarmed, people-powered insurgencies that have shaken (not stirred) a region and that will go on to shake the very foundation of an entire world order... But I'll bite. I wonder how long it will take for some ruthless bastard to figure out that the unarmed, people-powered insurgency is ... well... unarmed. Hence the cynic Machiavelli's admonition that all armed Prophets have been victorious, and all unarmed Prophets have been destroyed. In other words, those who start a rebellion (unarmed), are usually not the ones who finish (armed) and/or reap the benefits of revolution (power)... not to mention the inevitable counter-revolution and counter-counter violence to protect the gains of the revolution... that is if history is any indication of human behavior. Too cynical? I can always change and become a disciple of Friedrich Schiller's theory of government or "Vernunftstaat" theory in which human ideals are invented and intellectually generated, generated as art is generated.

... I believe we agree on the basics. I embrace Jean-Jacques Rousseau's concept of a social contract (and obligation for rebellion if the social contract leads to tyranny) while I reject wholeheartedly the notion that some Maximum Leader or Great Helmsman is needed to steer the people toward utopia on earth. I also embrace Immanuel Kant's "Zum Ewigen Frieden" but have to agree with Alexander Hamilton that there exists no type of government less inclined than any other form of government to wage war against one another or the people that inhabit the territory if the elite are ruthless enough to defend their interests and position.

I liked the notion that people-power exists (please note that it took a Constantine to really empower the peaceful Christian people's movement)... I want people-power to exist but I just can't free myself of my Enlightenment skepticism and sense of irony... Maybe the real (good, bad and ugly) is the ideal after all.

In the words of the cynical Machiavelli.... people in the aggregate, remain "simple and yield so readily to the desires of the moment that he who will trick will always find another who will suffer to be tricked".

Eliminate savagery in war and win a decisive victory... sounds great, lets do it in Astan quickly and efficiently and get the hell out of that mountainous arid region.

r/
MAC

The revolt will always happen;it is just a matter of time before it does.

I seriously wonder how long things will go on in countries more willing to use their army to attack and shoot those non-violent masses and ignore any media fanning the flames. We may see it yet. Followed by the secret police will tracking down and taking care of the instigators. Then what happens if a regime refuses to permit a revolt? Iran might be the future case study.

Except Jomini believed war could be mastered as long as generals followed his presciptive methods and rules.

In war i am not sure how "actionable" Jomini really was. American generals tried to follow his rules and methods in the American Civil War and look what it got them; hence the problem--war cannot be reduced to a simple set of methods and rules and hence the greater problem with Jomini.

I think the author should look for a better historical analog.

gian

Gian - I agree that applying Jominian methods too literally, or unthinkingly in a later era with more lethal armaments deployed, can lead (and has led) to poor outcomes.

But Jomini hoped, and thus sought to extract lessons from the Napoleonic experience, to reduce war's extremes, hoping for an efficiency of ends and means. His legacy, from advising Ney and later the Tsar, his participation at the Congress of Vienna, his prolific pen, and his long commitment to PME, shows a lifelong dedication to learning from military history, and to deriving practicable lessons from the past for tomorrow's conflicts - something Sharp has likewise dedicated himself to.

While generals on both sides of our Civil War made blunders, and were both schooled in Jomini's works, their bloody battles were no more Jomini's fault than were WWI's killing fields caused by Clausewitz, as Liddell Hart believed. Both theorists had their strengths, and despite their differing styles, both shared a desire to leverage knowledge to increase war's efficiency and to decrease its destructiveness.

Sharp has been called the "Clausewitz of Nonviolence" by some, but Sharp's works strike me as more accessible, more readily understood by theorist and practitioner alike, all over the world. There are few riddles, little ambiguity, and instead a plethora of methods presented to potential practitioners of strategic nonviolence.

Sharp has also been called the "Machiavelli of Nonviolence," not for his embrace of Machiavellianism but instead for his creation of a pamphlet, like The Prince, that has asserted influence around the world: From Dictatorship to Democracy. In some ways, this work is a contemporary antidote to the cynical Machiavelli.

I still believe Jomini is an apt model for Sharp. Like the swiss theorist of war, he has studied historical and contemporary battles, looking at the way nonviolent methods used, their success and failures, and presenting his insights to practitioners of his and later generations through a prolific outpouring of treatises and pamphlets over many productive decades.

Some methods will work, some will not; some struggles will succeed and others will fail; some, when misapplied, or bravely implemented under superior fire, will lead to calamity. And yet at other times, strategic victories will emerge when least expected and against foes considered far superior in force of arms.

Sharp's role has been to chronicle history's often overlooked engagements - and to present them in a highly influential, and robust, body of literature, a one man interface between thought and action. This was Jomini's goal with respect to war, as it was Clausewitz's - though Clausewitz saved his greatest work for posthumous publication, and his untimely death prevented him from making as immediate an impact on his contemporaries.

Like Jomini, Sharp has aimed to present us with a taxonomy of teachable methods - waging a long and often lonely struggle over many decades to modify the excesses of contemporary conflict and to provide us with effective tools that, like Jomini's works had sought, could help reduce war's savagery while more efficiently speeding the way to decisive victory.