Monday, August 19, 2013

Gene Sharp: "Dictators will not negotiate themselves out of power."

“I was a believer in the politics of petitions, deputations, and friendly negotiations. But all these have gone to dogs. I know that these are not the ways to bring this Government round. Sedition has become my religion. Ours is a nonviolent war.” - Mohandas Gandhi

Excerpt from BBC Hardtalk from February 1, 2012:

"Gene Sharp is a political thinker whose influence is now spoken of in same breath as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. But he is no platform speaker or figurehead at a demonstration. Rather, a quietly spoken political philosopher who's been writing about non-violent struggle for 50 years. What's changed is that his most celebrated pamphlet - 'From Dictatorship to Democracy' - is now grabbing attention around the world. He's been hailed as having helped mould protest movements from Burma to Serbia to Egypt. What is it that Gene Sharp has been able to unlock?"

Hardtalk: You are very dismissive, about as you see it, the dangers of negotiation. Is there no place for negotiation with a dictatorship?

Gene Sharp: Sometimes, when the regime is falling apart and the dictator wants to go to the airport to go to another country then negotiate how he can get there, fine, but to be tricked into bargaining with that regime you don’t want half of that dictatorship to survive.

Hardtalk: But, what about a dictatorship that can negotiate itself out of existence. Some sort of half way house.

Gene Sharp: Where has that happened? Where has that happened? Give me one instance…

Hardtalk: In order perhaps to ensure that it cannot be run out of the country or end up in the international criminal court

Gene Sharp: Dictators will not negotiate themselves out of power.

Hardtalk: There is no historical example?

Gene Sharp: Not that I know of, you may know of one.

Hardtalk: Do you think that in that case that if it is all or nothing when it comes to the situation in Egypt a lot of people are very unhappy about the influence the army still has in Egypt.

Gene Sharp: Yes, Yes

Hardtalk: Do you think that in that case people should have, for example, boycotted the recent parliamentary elections?

Gene Sharp: No, the parliamentary elections, I don’t know. But, there was a major mistake made by the opposition to negotiate with the Mubarak regime. They thought Mubarak had to resign. Mubarak said I’ll resign if you put the military in control after I step out. The same military that had been supporting Mubarak for decades which was how Mubarak and his regime came into power and control of the government in the first place. They agreed to turn over power to the military and the military control. They are very reluctant to step out of the political picture completely.

Hardtalk: You see Egypt as a missed opportunity?
Gene Sharp: An incomplete opportunity; the first half has been done. They now face the institution that really helped Mubarak and which gave Mubarak controlling power. They put that in place and have a problem now.  ...

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