Sunday, June 21, 2009

If I Were an Evil Dictator...

...which, some would argue, is not much of a stretch to begin with, it seems to me that the best way to quash a peaceful uprising would be to...DO NOTHING. I know it's cool to use violence when you're an evil dictator, and there is something fiendishly brilliant about helmeted men with batons on motorcycles, but the ultimate goal of any dictator is to remain in power for as long as possible through any means necessary. If I were going to lose an election, faking the election results would make perfect sense...naturally. But when people start protesting the results? The smart thing isn't to beat them into submission, it's to simply let them be. Let them peacefully march. Let them mass. Let them bitch and moan. In the end, peaceful protests don't accomplish much. The catalyst for real change isn't the marching, it's the predictable and violent reactions to it by the dominant power structure.

Not to take away from the courage of the Iranian people to stand up against great odds in the name of freedom, but is there much doubt that this would a somewhat dead issue by now had Ahmadinejad simply been a little less dismissive, a little more placating, and a lot less totalitarian? Certainly there would be outrage. Certainly there would be protests. Certainly there would be calls from other nations to investigate. But all of those outcomes are ultimately political challenges which can be overcome. And I guess therein lies the genius of civil disobedience...which is that it seems to naturally provoke the true nature of the side being opposed. In this case, peaceful protests have been met with thuggish violence. It's the scenes of innocents being taken from their beds and of unarmed students being shot dead in the street which will create change...if not now, then later.

If I were an evil dictator, I'd still be in power...and not an ounce of blood would have been shed.


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