Posts Tagged ‘Risk of revolution’

In 2015, expect civil unrest, disaffected police

January 1, 2015

The astute John Michael Greer, whose Archdruid Report is one of my favorite blogs, predicted that the most important trends in 2015 will be the disaffection of America’s police combined with continuing civil unrest.

He said the morale of American police is at the same state as that of the American forces in Vietnam in the 1970s.  Police feel they’ve been sent into a war they can’t win, and abandoned by the civilian authority that’s nominally their superior.

I think there’s truth to that, although it’s exaggerated.  Rank-and-file police officers did not invent the “broken windows” theory of policing, which is that the way to ensure civil order is to punish every violation, no matter how minor.  Nor are they the ones who decided that the way to finance municipal government in places such as Ferguson, Missouri, is to collect traffic fines from poor people.

civil-unrest-2016Revolutions generally occur when the police and the military cease to be willing to defend existing authority against rebels.

I think there is zero chance that the military or police would go over to the side of rioting black people or even peacefully protesting black people.  Armed resistance is not a feasible option for African-Americans in the present-day USA.

Effective resistance to civil authority, as I see it, would come from armed and organized militias, such as the group that formed around rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight with the federal government over grazing fees.   They defied federal and local police with loaded weapons, and were not met with deadly force.

I believe there is a real possibility that, as the U.S. economic plight worsens, resistance to government could grow and, as military and police morale decline, resistance to government would be tolerated until it became a real threat.

If things continue as they are in the United States, I believe there is bound to be an explosion.  And, given the history of violent revolution, I do not expect anything good to come from such an explosion.


Here is John Michael Greer in his own words:


The risk of revolution

February 5, 2011

The risk for the U.S. government in getting rid of President Mubarak of Egypt is that it sets a bad example.  Egypt not the only country with a ruler who follows the wishes of the U.S. government rather than his own people.

The people of Pakistan have long been unhappy with the United States using their country as a base for our wars in Afghanistan, especially since the war has come back to Afghanistan itself.  I doubt if the people of Yemen are happy with the U.S. troops and agents shooting Predator missiles everywhere they think terrorists may be hiding out.  The odious regimes in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are hosts to U.S. bases.

If the United States turns against Hosni Mubarak too abruptly, all the other dictators allied with the United States will wonder whether our government can be trusted to support them when things get tough.

Another problem is that the outcomes of revolutions are unpredictable.  The pro-democracy demonstrators in Egypt call to mind Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, or the Philippines when Ferdinand Marcos yielded power to Corazon Aquino.  But revolutions don’t always end happily from the point of view of us Americans.  Many Americans welcomed the fall of the Tsar of Russia in 1917, the Batista dictatorship in Cuba in 1959 and the Shah of Iran in 1979, but the Mensheviks were soon driven out by the Bolsheviks, Fidel Castro turned out to be a Communist, and Iran became a theocracy rather than a democracy.

Another bad possibility is that Hosni Mubarak or his henchmen will manage to stay in power even thought the United States has turned against him, as the former U.S. ally Saddam Hussein did after 1991.   He seemed like a lapdog in serving the interests of American foreign policy.  But he may have sharp teeth where his own power and wealth are concerned.

But if being openly pro-democracy is risky, so is siding with tyrants.  They always fall in the end, and their peoples remember who supported them.  If the Egyptian regime suppresses a peaceful revolt (and so far the demonstrators have been peaceful), the next revolt may be accompanied by assassinations, lynchings, bombings of public places and “death to America” banners.

The middle way, which is what President Obama seems to be taking, is to try to finesse the situation – to quietly ease Mubarak out and persuade his clique to accept a peaceful transition to democracy.  In other words, to help the democrats without breaking with the autocrats.

And that is the riskiest of all.  The risk is that the Obama administration alienates both sides – that U.S. government loses the allegiance of its client dictators without gaining the support of the popular forces.  It is better to be liked and respected than hated and feared, but worst of all is to be despised.

So there is a risk for the United States if the Egyptian people exercise the right of self-determination.  There is a risk for the United States if our government imposes a rule of torturers and kleptocrats.  And there is a risk in a balancing act.  So why not do the right thing?

Click on If the Egyptians want change, then they should have it for comment by Martin Kettle of Great Britain’s The Guardian.