Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nonviolent Action -- A More Ethical and Effective Alternative to War

(593 words)
by Randy Schutt

War is hell -- both for the soldiers who fight it and the civilians who live where it is fought. The Iraq war is a perfect example of the mess that military force can make of a country: directly killing thousands of innocent civilians, injuring tens of thousands more, and displacing and traumatizing millions, while destroying critical infrastructure -- such as roads, bridges, and electricity generation, water purification, and sewage treatment plants -- that makes a civilized life possible. Creating a civilized, democratic society out of the chaotic disaster that Iraq has become will be extremely difficult and take a very long time, even under the best circumstances.

But what is the alternative? In the last three decades, nonviolent action has demonstrated that it is very effective in overthrowing horribly repressive regimes. For example, nonviolent action toppled the apartheid regime in South Africa, deposed the dictatorships of Slobodan Milosevich in Yugoslavia, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, and Augusto Pinochet in Chile, and brought down the former Soviet Union and its communist satellite states (including Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Lithuania). Overthrowing those regimes incurred relatively few casualties and wrought relatively little destruction. The nonviolent overthrow of these vicious regimes has mostly left these countries stronger, more civilized, and much more free and democratic.

### (for exclusive consideration of this unpublished piece, contact
Randy Schutt is Vice-President of Cleveland Peace Action, a member
of the Cleveland Nonviolence Network, and the author of Inciting
Democracy: A Practical Proposal for Creating a Good Society.

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