Stephen Zunes : Nonviolent Action


Nonviolent Action and Pro-Democracy Struggles
24 January 2008

The United States has done for the cause of democracy what the Soviet Union did for the cause of socialism. Not only has the Bush administration given democracy a bad name in much of the world, but its high-profile and highly suspect “democracy promotion” agenda has provided repressive regimes and their apologists an excuse to label any popular pro-democracy movement that challenges them as foreign agents, even when led by independent grassroots nonviolent activists….


Globalising Nonviolence: Nonviolence against Apartheid – a case study of “globalisation from below”
1 January 2006

While many Western governments argued that the benevolent influence of Western capital would gradually force an end to South Africa’s apartheid system and many on the left argued that liberation would come only through armed revolution, in fact it was largely unarmed resistance by the black majority and its supporters, both within South Africa and abroad.


Why Progressives Must Embrace the Ukrainian Pro-Democracy Movement
8 September 2005

Some elements of the American left have committed a grievous error, both morally and strategically, in their failure to enthusiastically support the momentous pro-democracy movement in the Ukraine. After more than three centuries of subjugation under Russian rule?first under the czars and then under the communists?followed by a dozen years of independence under corrupt and […]


The United States and “Regime Change” in Iran
6 August 2005

Though the Bush administration has repeatedly emphasized its desire for democratization and regime change in Iran, there are serious questions regarding how it might try to bring this about. There is, however, little question about the goal of toppling the Islamist government, with the Bush administration threatening war, arming ethnic minorities, and funding opposition groups.


HOW THE HAWK KILLS THE DOVE
5 August 2005

In a country wracked with violence, more than 100,000 Iraqis marched peacefully through the streets of Baghdad on 19 January 2004 demanding direct elections. Shouting ‘No to Saddam!’ and ‘No to America’, the nonviolent throng – many of them linking hands – marched for three miles to the University of al-Mustansariyah where speakers called for […]


Recognizing the Power of Nonviolent Action
31 March 2005

You probably didn’t notice, but February 20 was Nonviolent Resistance Day. One might think this would be cause for celebration by an administration committed to expanding freedom and democracy. But there weren’t any special ceremonies at the White House or resolutions in Congress. For despite all the rhetoric lauding freedom and democracy, the U.S. government has rarely supported, and has often opposed, nonviolent movements working for democratic change.


Nonviolent Resistance in the Islamic World
3 January 2002

The tragic events of recent months have only strengthened the stereotype here in the United States of the Islamic world as an area of violent conflict. However, the region also has an impressive and growing tradition of nonviolent resistance and other unarmed challenges to authoritarianism.


Credit the Serbian People, Not NATO
1 October 2000

The people of Yugoslavia did what NATO bombs could not. As in 1989, it was not the military prowess of the western alliance bringing freedom to an Eastern European country, but the power of nonviolent action by the subjugated peoples themselves.


East Timor’s Tragedy and Triumph
1 January 2000

East Timor is largely in ruins as a result of the Indonesian-led destruction and massacres of September 1999. Yet the East Timorese are finally free. That such carnage was allowed to take place is yet another indictment of U.S. foreign policy in Southeast Asia, yet the ultimate victory of the population of East Timor is a triumphant reflection of the power of ordinary people—in both East Timor and around the world—to triumph against enormous odds….


Nonviolent Action and Human Rights
20 October 1999

Nonviolent action campaigns have been a part of political life for millennia. History records many instances of groups rising to challenge abuses by authorities, demand social reforms, and protest militarism and discrimination. In recent years, however, the number of such movements has increased, as has their success in advancing the cause of human rights and toppling or dramatically reforming repressive regimes. In the twentieth century, nonviolence became more of a deliberate tool for social change, moving from being largely an ad hoc strategy growing naturally out of religious or ethical principles to a reflective and, in many ways, institutionalized method of struggle.