Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.
I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.
A week is a long time under the eyes of the global media. Events in Japan managed to stay on screens and front pages for just about that long, until last night when 'Allied forces' started missile attacks on Libya. The hunt for drama and stories is a hunger that must be constantly fed, thus all eyes moved on. Explosions carry far more drama than firehoses (the main story coming out of Fukushima Daiichi).
While there are many arguments given in favour of outside military intervention in Libya's internal conflict, some even hard to refute, a stepping up of aggression inevitably leads to more trouble down the line, more deaths, and easy propaganda coups for those such actions are directed against (in this case Gaddafi).
Should there not be a long and drawn out conflict, in Britain Cameron may well come out of this with his own 'Falklands moment' - a comparable incident that turned around Thatcher's unpopularity and laid the groundwork for a decade of Thatcherism - making it harder to turn back the tide of cuts and changes in this country. This may be of little importance to the Libyan people opposed to Gaddafi, but could be but one consequential turning point in Britain felt for many years to come.
Peaceful objection to militarism of any sort is harder to justify in the face of the slaughter of innocents, but I think that as more and more countries slide into bombing campaigns, it's worth taking a moment to pause and consider other methods of non violent action. Maybe none of the actions that are described in the content of this post would make a jot of difference to what Gaddafi seems to be doing, but they certainly had some effect in Egypt and Tunisia this year.
Dr. Gene Sharp created a list of 198 methods of non violent direct action that can be used to express opposition to an individual, government or other system. These include protest and persuasion, noncooperation, and intervention. This list was supposedly influential (and translated into Arabic) in what happened in Tahrir Square just last month, as it was in the revolutionary changes that swept Eastern Europe in the late 80's/early 90's.
They are published in English here in the document below, or are available as direct downloads here (same document as embed) and here (1 page, full colour). If any readers have pdfs of version translated into other languages, they are welcome to link to them in the comments below and I'll try to update the post with more versions. For more on the Albert Einstein Institution, an organisation that studies nonviolent action around the world and is part-run by Sharp, click here.