19 October 2011

As part of the "The Big Question" series, Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar Alan Kuperman answers the question "What in your field could make the world a better place?" in this article featured on the University of Texas website.

Rising inequality, unemployment, and resource scarcity could lead to future waves of violence, but Professor Kuperman believes there is also the possibility that nonviolent resistance movements will continue to grow and spread. Recent examples include the “Arab Spring” protests in Egypt and Tunisia, but nonviolent resistance has been around for a long time, from the peaceful movements led by Gandhi and Martin Luther King to the “color revolutions” in Yugoslavia and Georgia. Professor Kuperman dispels the common misconception that peaceful resistance is passive. These movements campaign actively to ensure success, forcing the government to either make concessions or attack peaceful protesters and risk a loss of legitimacy and support. Professor Kuperman notes that nonviolence is associated with a much lower human cost than rebellion, but he questions whether the U.S. administration understands this, particularly after its contentious response to uprising in Libya.

Professor Kuperman concludes that as the world embraces alternatives to violent rebellion, the U.S. should reinforce strategic nonviolence rather than undermining it through damaging military interventions.

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