This time, it’s the Washington Post’s lightweight “expert” on UW, Max Fisher. Fisher’s relevant experience? Nil. But hey, he has “a master’s degree in security studies from Johns Hopkins University.” Oooooh… can we touch him?
Fisher’s point, which is hilariously mooted by events now, is that Yanukovych must win because the protesters didn’t stick to his (Fisher’s, the armchair expert’s) beau ideal of Ghandian non-violence. No doubt Yanukovych is running around Kharkov showing everybody this in the Post.
You could hardly blame the besieged protesters if they wanted to fight firepower with firepower. Still, if this were to become a trend and protesters were to increasingly bear and use arms to defend against security forces, that could actually spell doom for their movement. It could be the best thing to happen to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych since clashes reignited earlier this week.
Fisher’s justification for his ahistorical, now proven-incorrect, and just generally dumb-ass post? Research that he claims to have done for that master’s degree, but that is tragically unpublished.
Sometimes “master” is only half a word.
So what was his methodology, to the extent that he describes it?
When civil resistance movements popular uprisings adopt small arms use, they become much more likely to fail and the government becomes more likely to survive intact. That was a conclusion I reached, anyway, as part of my graduate research on government crackdowns against popular democratic movements. I surveyed 20 attempted uprisings over the past century and found overwhelming evidence that when protesters take up arms in large numbers they make their movement far likelier to fail. Within those cases, the chance that a popular uprising would “outlast” the government and ultimately secure its goals was cut almost in half if the protesters took up arms.
Revolutions never win, it’s science, or at least whatever kind of cod science they teach in the Hopkins security studies program. (We can see it now… acres of journalists crafting narratives around anecdotes, while barnacled professors nod paternally).
Revolutions never win if they take up arms. And now back to you, at the Congress of the Republic of Vietnam.
But before we do that, let’s mine Fisher’s folly for some more examples of his, er, mastery. This is more mastery than what lots of people write:
It’s really, really difficult to overstate the importance of the military in moments of mass popular protest or uprising: ultimately, they have the monopoly on force, and they can decide the outcome if they want to.
Got that? If the rebels take up arms, the military has a monopoly of force.
See, that’s why the Iraqi Sunni minority took their licking in 2004 and we never heard another peep out of them. More mastery?
[T]he protesters are legitimizing the use of deadly force, and eroding the taboo against open shooting…
Max Fisher, Master in Security Studies from the Bitch Had It Coming School of Interpersonal Relations. See, what Max understands from his classroom mastership, that you probably didn’t pick up out at the war he’s spent the last bakers-dozen years not participating in, is that the nobility and purity of the martyrdom of the protesters is only noble and pure if they just lie there to get martyred. Well, maybe they can hide a little. But fighting back is right out.
Needless to say, the 1st Armored Division will never be commanded by a man with a Master in Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University. And that’s a good thing.
Now, Max is not very bright, and he’s not very honest, but he’s not a complete imbecile, and he does find a truffle in his continual rooting:
[P]opular uprisings ultimately succeed because the military sides with them, explicitly or implicitly. We saw this in Romania in 1989, for example, when the military largely refused orders to put down protests, helping to doom leader Nicolae Ceaușescu. And we saw it in Egypt in 2011, when the military parked tanks around protesters to protect them from security forces, and shortly after forced out President Hosni Mubarak.
He has a point there, and what cemented the victory — so far — of the Ukrainian protesters was the volte-face of the actual units that initiated the shooting, or at least, the command echelons high above them. The Ukrainian Army stayed in its barracks, but the Interior Ministry, police, and other security services put their guns at the disposal of the revolution. After it was clear the revolution shot back.
But that becomes much less likely if protesters start using small arms. Militaries are just much less comfortable aiding a protest movement that shoots back
This is, of course, nonsense. The protest movement is only shooting “back” if the military (or militarized police) are shooting at them.
[W]hen protesters and police are shooting one another in the streets, the military becomes more likely to step in.
But the military can pick either side, or neither. In 1956, most of the Hungarian military picked the rebel side. (They got their clock cleaned). In 1953, the nascent Nationale Volksarmee and the Volkspolizei picked the government side. In 1981, the Polish Army stepped in between protesters and their own Soviet overlords. In 1968, the Czechoslovak Army sat it out. And that’s just Europe.
Starting as early as 1973, Afghan citizens began resisting their nation’s “government monopoly of force.” How’d that turn out? (Well, the repercussions are not done repercussing, yet, but the civilians won by 1978, and again by 1989, and again by 1992. And then blew it all infighting).
So no, Max Fisher’s tiny, cherry-picked, molested little data set doesn’t prove a damn thing. And he needs to get out more — and not to the hotel bars where the Post reporters usually write their stuff based on what their local stringers bring them.
We wonder if he makes them say, “yes, Master.”
Update, and a thought
Compare the frightful performance of the US media with the performance of the state-controlled Ukrainian media and it;s not too different; here’s a recounting of a couple of young Ukrainian activists’ encounter with their own Piers-Morgan-like shill newsreader.
A thought: however the young rebels feel about the events of the last weeks, tomorrow will dawn on a Ukraine still surrounded by Russian power, and still divided ethnically, politically and now, in loyalties. There are several paths forward from here, but they’re all difficult.
Part of the backlash is a call for a gun rights constitutional amendment in Ukraine. Sounds like an idea whose time has come. Peace, out, as the hippies say.