The Never-Trumpers Are Never Coming Back–Patrick Buchanan

(Reprinted whole from Pat Buchanan) With never-Trump conservatives bailing on the GOP and crying out for the Party of Pelosi to save us, some painful truths need to be restated.

The Republican Party of Bush I and II, of Bob Dole and John McCain, is history. It’s not coming back. Unlike the Bourbons after the Revolution and the Terror, after Napoleon and the Empire, no restoration is in the cards.

It is over. The GOP’s policies of recent decades — the New World Order of George H.W. Bush, the crusades for democracy of Bush II — failed, and are seen as having failed. With Trump’s capture of the party they were repudiated. There will be no turning back. What were the historic blunders?

It was not supporting tax cuts, deregulation, conservative judges and justices, or funding a defense second to none. Donald Trump has delivered on these as well as any president since Reagan. The failures that killed the Bush party, and that represented departures from Reaganite traditionalism and conservatism, are:

First, the hubristic drive, despite the warnings of statesmen like George Kennan, to exploit our Cold War victory and pursue a policy of permanent containment of a Russia that had lost a third of its territory and half its people. We moved NATO into Eastern Europe and the Baltic, onto her doorstep. We abrogated the ABM treaty Nixon had negotiated and moved defensive missiles into Poland. John McCain pushed to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, and even to send U.S. forces to face off against Russian troops. Thus we got a second Cold War that need never have begun and that our allies seem content to let us fight alone. Europe today is not afraid of Vladimir Putin reaching the Rhine. Europe is afraid of Africa and the Middle East reaching the Danube. Let the Americans, who relish playing empire, pay for NATO.

Second, in a reflexive response to 9/11, we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, dumped over the regime in Libya, armed rebels to overthrow Bashar Assad in Syria, and backed Saudi intervention in a Yemeni civil war, creating a humanitarian crisis in that poorest of Arab countries that is exceeded in horrors only by the Syrian civil war. Since Y2K, hundreds of thousands in the Middle East have perished, the ancient Christian community has all but ceased to exist, and the refugees now number in the millions. What are the gains for democracy from these wars, all backed enthusiastically by the Republican establishment?

Why are the people responsible for these wars still being listened to, rather than confessing their sins at second-thoughts conferences? The GOP elite also played a crucial role in throwing open U.S. markets to China and ceding transnational corporations full freedom to move factories and jobs there and ship their Chinese-made goods back here, free of charge.

Result: In three decades, the U.S. has run up $12 trillion in merchandise trade deficits — $4 trillion with China — and Beijing’s revenue from the USA has more than covered China’s defense budget for most of those years. Beijing swept past Italy, France, Britain, Germany and Japan to become the premier manufacturing power on earth and a geo-strategic rival. Now, from East Africa to Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, and from the South and East China Sea to Taiwan, Beijing’s expansionist ambitions have become clear.

And where are the Republicans responsible for building up this potentially malevolent power that thieves our technology? Talking of building a Reagan-like Navy to contain the mammoth they nourished. Since the Cold War, America’s elites have been exhibiting symptoms of that congenital blindness associated since Rome with declining and falling empires. While GOP grass roots have begged for measures to control our bleeding southern border, they were regularly denounced as nativists by party elites, many of whom are now backing Trump’s wall.

For decades, America’s elites failed to see that the transnational moment of the post-Cold War era was passing and an era of rising nationalism and tribalism was at hand. “We live in a time,” said U2’s Bono this week, “when institutions as vital to human progress as the United Nations are under attack.” The institutions Bono referenced — the U.N., EU, NATO — all trace their roots to the 1940s and 1950s, a time that bears little resemblance to the era we have entered, an era marked by a spreading and desperate desire of peoples everywhere to preserve who and what they are.

No, Trump didn’t start the fire. The world was ablaze with tribalism and was raising up authoritarians to realize nationalist ends — Xi Jinping, Putin, Narendra Modi in India, Erdogan in Turkey, Gen. el-Sissi in Egypt — before he came down that escalator. And so the elites who were in charge when the fire broke out, and who failed to respond and refused even to recognize it, and who now denounce Trump for how he is coping with it, are unlikely to be called upon again to lead this republic.

How to Topple a Dictator (Peacefully)….assuming you aren’t co-opted by the more violent.

(This piece comes from The New York times opinionator blog) “Several years ago, before their protest movement was co-opted by violence, a group of young Syrians looking for a way to topple President Bashar al-Assad traveled to an isolated beach resort outside Syria to take a weeklong class in revolution. The teachers were Srdja Popovic and Slobodan Djinovic — leaders of Otpor, a student movement in Serbia that had been instrumental in the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. After then helping the successful democracy movements in Georgia and Ukraine. This is what they taught.”

“Myth: Nonviolence is synonymous with passivity. No, nonviolent struggle is a strategic campaign to force a dictator to cede power by depriving him of his pillars of support. In the first hours of the Syrians’ workshop, some participants announced that violence was the only way to topple Assad. Every workshop begins this way, in part because some people think the Serbs are going to teach them to look beatific and meditate. Popovic said out loud what many were thinking: “So you just ask Assad to go away? Please, Mr. Assad, please can you not be a murderer anymore?” Popovic whined. “It’s not nice.”

“Just the opposite, said Djinovic: “We’re here to plan a war.” Nonviolent struggle, Djinovic explained, is a war — just one fought with means other than weapons. It must be as carefully planned as a military campaign. Over the next few days, the Serbs taught the young Syrians the techniques they had developed for taking power: How do you grow a movement from a vanload of people to hundreds of thousands? How do you win to your side the groups whose support is propping up the dictator? How do you wage this war safely when any kind of gathering can mean long prison terms, torture or death? How do you break through people’s fear to get them out into the street?

“Myth: The most successful nonviolent movements arise and progress spontaneously. No general would leave a military campaign to chance. A nonviolent war is no different.

“Myth: Nonviolent struggle’s major tactic is amassing large concentrations of people. This idea is widespread because the big protests are like the tip of an iceberg: the only thing visible from a distance. Did it look like the ousting of Mubarak started with a spontaneous mass gathering in Tahrir Square? Actually, the occupation of Tahrir Square was carefully planned, and followed two years of work. The Egyptian opposition waited until it knew it had the numbers. Mass concentrations of people aren’t the beginning of a movement, Popovic writes. They’re a victory lap.

“In very harsh dictatorships, concentrating people in marches, rallies or protests is dangerous; your people will get arrested or shot. It’s risky for other reasons. A sparsely attended march is a disaster. Or the protest can go perfectly, but someone — perhaps hired by the enemy — decides to throw rocks at the police. And that’s what will lead the evening news. One failed protest can destroy a movement.

“So what do you do instead? You can start with tactics of dispersal, such as coordinated pot-banging, or traffic slowdowns in which everyone drives at half speed. These tactics show that you have widespread support, they grow people’s confidence, and they’re safe. Otpor, which went from 11 people to 70,000 in two years, initially grew like this: three or four activists staged a humorous piece of anti-Milosevic street theater. People watched, smiled — and then joined.

“Myth: Nonviolence might be morally superior, but it’s useless against a brutal dictator. Nonviolence is not just the moral choice; it is almost always the strategic choice. “My biggest objection to violence is the fact that it simply doesn’t work,” Popovic writes. Violence is what every dictator does best. If you’re going to compete with David Beckham, Popovic says, why choose the soccer field? Better to choose the chessboard.

The Syrians who came to the workshop, needless to say, had little influence over the strategies that were later chosen by other groups opposed to Assad. Violence eventually prevailed — with devastating results. But that is Popovic’s point: violence often brings devastating results. The scholars Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan analyzed campaigns of violent and nonviolent revolution in the last century (their book, “Why Civil Resistance Works,” uses Otpor’s fist as its cover image) and found that nonviolence has double the success rate of violence — and its gains have been more likely to last. (My note: Some of the “successes” of regime cited in the book were Iran, Burma, Philippines and the Palestinian territories. How is that going today?) Only a handful of people will join a violent movement. Using violence throws away the support of millions — support you could have won through nonviolence.

“Milosevic’s base of support was Serbia’s senior citizens. Otpor won them over by provoking the regime into using violence. Once Otpor’s leaders realized that its members who were arrested were usually released after being held for a few hours, it staged actions for the purpose of getting large numbers of members detained. Grandparents didn’t like having their 16-year-old grandchildren arrested, or the regime’s hysterical accusations that these high school students were terrorists and spies. Old people switched sides, becoming a key pillar of the Otpor movement. If there had been any truth to the accusations that Otpor used violence, the grandparents would have stayed with Milosevic. (My note: Is this a good example? Much of the world wanted Milosevic gone, and U.N. troops occupied Serbia.)

“Myth: Politics is serious business. According to the Pixar philosopher James P. Sullivan, laughter is 10 times more powerful than scream. Nothing breaks people’s fear and punctures a dictator’s aura of invincibility like mockery — Popovic calls it “laughtivism.” Otpor’s guiding spirit was Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a television show its members had grown up watching, and its actions were usually pranks.

“Popovic writes about a protest in Ankara after the Turkish government reacted with alarm to a couple kissing in the subway. Protesters could have chosen to march. Instead, they kissed – 100 people gathered in the subway station in pairs, kissing with great slobber and noise. You are a policeman. You have training in how to deal with an anti-government protest. But what do you do now?

“Myth: You motivate people by exposing human rights violations. Most people don’t care about human rights. They care about having electricity that works, teachers in every school and affordable home loans. They will support an opposition with a vision of the future that promises to make their lives better. Focusing on these mundane, important things is not only more effective; it’s safer. In their Canvas workshop, the Burmese knew it was too risky to organize for political goals — but decided they could organize to get the Yangon city government to collect garbage. Gandhi wisely began his campaign of mass civil disobedience by focusing on Britain’s prohibition on collecting or selling salt. Harvey Milk failed in several campaigns for the San Francisco City Council. He won when he campaigned not on gay rights, but to rid the city’s parks of dog poop. A benefit of such campaigns is that their goals are achievable. Movements grow with small victory after small victory.

“Talking about the miseries of life under a dictator is also a bad strategy for mobilizing activists. People already know — and they react by becoming cynical, fearful, atomized and passive. They might be angry, but they’re not going to act on it. Anger is not a motivator. This was Otpor’s biggest obstacle. Most Serbs wanted Milosevic out. But the vast majority believed that was impossible to accomplish, and too perilous to attempt.

“Otpor got people into the streets by making the movement about their own identity. Young people flocked to Otpor because it made them feel cool and important. They had great music and great T-shirts, adorned with the fist. Boys competed to rack up the most arrests. Young Serbs stopped feeling like passive victims and started feeling like daring heroes.

“Myth: Nonviolent movements require charismatic leaders who give inspiring speeches. Otpor had no speeches, ever. And while its strategies were meticulously planned, the people who did the planning were behind the scenes. Its spokesperson changed every two weeks, but it was usually a 17-year-old girl. (“Terrorists? Us?”) In a traditional party, even parties in opposition to the dictator, the leaders’ job is to make speeches, and their followers listen and applaud. Not Otpor. Its messages were tested in focus groups, and its strategies carefully planned. It was not at all anarchic on the strategic level. But on a tactical level, decentralization was critical. Otpor had only two rules: You had to be anti-Milosevic and absolutely nonviolent. Follow those rules, and you could do anything and call yourself Otpor. This kept activists feeling busy, useful and important.

“Myth: Police, security forces and the pro-government business community are the enemy. Maybe, but it’s smarter to treat them like allies-in-waiting. Otpor never taunted or threw stones at the police. Its members cheered them and brought flowers and homemade cookies to the police station. Even the interrogations after arrest were an opportunity to fraternize and demonstrate Otpor’s commitment to nonviolence. It paid off. The police knew that if the opposition won, Otpor would make sure they were treated fairly. During the last battle, police officers walked away from the barricades when the opposition asked them to. A dictator who can’t be sure his repressive orders will be obeyed is finished.

“I lived in Chile when the opposition to Augusto Pinochet made mistake after mistake; advice from Otpor might have shortened the dictatorship by years. Had the Occupy movement in the United States adopted these tactics, it might still be a relevant force. But nothing is more tragic than contemplating what Syria could have been now, had the nonviolent activists in the opposition movement prevailed — and followed Popovic’s blueprint.

Now, all of this is true but is it applicable to what is going on in Central America? In Central America the violence is not so much from governments as from drug cartels and criminal gangs, neither of whom exercise even the slightest restraint in applying violence. In fact, anybody who crosses the cartels in gangs can have their entire family even their pets, targeted for death torture and mutilation. What can be done in that case? I will be exploring that issue in future blog posts.