Organizing Your Own Talk on Civilian-Based Defense

1. Present a definition. Point out that CBD is an immediate way for small countries, e.g. those in Europe, to regain control over their own foreign policy and not be tied to insecure deterrence policies of the superpowers.

2. Put CBD in context with other alternatives by examining such aspects as: Conflict resolution. Balance of power. Disarmament. Other alternatives to nuclear defense. Conventional military. Paramilitary

3. Refer to Paths to Peace: Exploring the Feasibility of Sustainable Peace by Willis Harmon with Richard Smoke.

4. War is obsolete, as Beyond War has pointed out. It is too destructive. CBD would result in fewer deaths. One exposes oneself to death, but refuses to be involved in killing.

5. Point out that forty years of deterrence has decreased our security.

6. We need a suitable vocabulary to guide our thinking. The Presbyterians in 1980 made a distinction between "peacemaking" (a long-term strategy) and "peacekeeping" (short-term tactics). This offered pacifists a way to enter into dialog with the military: the latter buying us a time of relative safety and the former doing something positive with that time.

7. If the military broadened its conception of national defense it could incorporate CBD into its operations.

8. Review Gene Sharp's contributions to the thinking about CBD. Refer to his book Vocabulary of Civilian Defense. Distribute his twelve categories and 198 types of nonviolent action to reveal the potential breadth of CBD. Explore Sharp's ideas concerning what CBD is not about (such as morality).

9. Compare and contrast spontaneous unarmed resistance vs. trained, educated CBD.

Examples of the former: The American colonists' resistance to Britain, 1763-1775. George Washington's administration of the Revolutionary War. Hungarian resistance to Austrian rule 1859-67. Finnish political non-cooperation and civil disobedience with Russia, 1889-1905. China's boycott of U.S. goods, 1905. Russian resistance in 1905 and 1917 before the revolution. Korean nonviolent protest against Japanese rule, 1919-1920. India's campaign for independence from Britain, 1918-1934. The German government's resistance to Franco-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr, 1923.

World War II examples: Norway and Denmark. Netherlands' underground resistance. Resistance to anti-Jewish measures in Bulgaria, Italy, France and Denmark.

Post-World War II examples: Lithuanian resistance, 1944-52. East German uprising, 1953. Strikes in Soviet political prisoner camps, 1953. Hungarian revolution, 1956. Poland Czechoslovakian resistance to Soviet invasion, 1968. De-Stalinization in the Soviet Union. Buddhist campaigns against the government of S. Vietnam, 1963-1966.

Recent examples: Popular removal of dictators in Central America. Governmental change in Korea. Bloodless revolution in The Philippines. Burma. Resistance to West Bank occupation.

10. Discuss countries willing to consider CBD: Denmark, China, Bolivia or Costa Rica.

11. Discuss the types of pro-CBD activities being undertaken in various countries.

12. Discuss action ideas like: Blending the military and CBD. Creating a national youth corps that would train for CBD as well as undertaking civic projects. Using the principles of CBD at home, in schools and within the community. Bringing CBD into U.S. universities.

13. Intellectual antecedents to CBD (e.g. Gandhi, Thoreau, Tolstoy).

14. Discuss newspaper and magazine articles with a relationship to CBD.

15. Build CBD around small groups that meet to analyze current events, discuss alternative ways of responding and train for CBD action.

16. Show how CBD offers a spiritually acceptable form of defense for Christians and others who eschew killing. Refer to United Methodist Bishops' letter "In Defense of Creation" which mentions CBD.

W. Henry Tucker

Reprinted with permission from Civilian-Based Defense.

Nonviolence Today Issue #49 - Table of contents

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