Did the Libyan Uprising Have to be Violent?

Could nonviolent resistance have succeeded in Libya? Here are four points worth considering:

1) The movement was fairly spontaneous, unlike the highly coordinated campaign in Egypt. As Peter Ackerman consistently points out, planning is an essential element to a successful nonviolent revolution. As with any battlefield, a nonviolent campaign requires extensive preparation. But reports seem to indicate that Libyans began protesting in earnest around Feburary 15th, likely inspired by events in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia. Gadhafi seemed prepared for this and immediately cracked down using overwhelming violence. By February 19th, the movement had become violent in response to these crackdowns. Four days of civil resistance doesn't give it much time to work. Egyptian pro-democracy activists struggled for years before seeing Mubarak fall. Syrian oppositionists, thousands of whom have been killed by Bashar al-Assad's regime, have toiled along for the past six months. So, we can't really say whether or not nonviolence would have worked in Libya. It never had a chance to materialize in the first place.

8 Inspiring Movies About Social Change

1100629-gandhifilmAh the joy of watching movies in the summer! Of course, there are a number of summer blockbusters coming out that will woo crowds to the theaters, but with the sky-high prices of theater tickets these days, nobody will fault you for wanting to stay home and kick back with a rental. If you're looking for a film that will entertain and inspire you, consider adding some of these excellent films about social change to your online queue. If you have any other films to add to this list, please contribute your favorites in the comments section below. (To read more of my film reviews, check out my monthly column in Sojourners magazine.)

The Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal and the Paradoxical Legacy of Pope John Paul II

The Catholic church is reeling from the several sexual abuse allegations that have come to light over the past three months. Downplaying the severity of this scandal will only further damage the already beleaguered church's image and credibility. Many in the media blame Pope Benedict XVI for the mismanagement of the sexual abuse crisis.

The Policy is Still Wrong

The Iran-contra hearings have provided a summer-long opportunity for Reagan administration spokespersons to make their case for the contras on national television. During the hundreds of hours of testimony and speeches, I heard only one person make reference to the significant and constant opposition of U.S. church people to the contra war.

In his testimony before the joint congressional committee investigating the Iran-contra arms scandal, Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams declared that he simply could not understand why churches and church groups in the United States would oppose aid to the contras. I would like to help Mr. Abrams and the administration he represents to understand.

U.S. churches and church-based groups have sent more people to Nicaragua and sent them for longer periods of time than have the State Department, the U.S. Congress, and very likely the entire U.S. government. What we have seen and heard convinces us that U.S. policy toward Nicaragua is wrong and horribly destructive.

The Reagan administration policy to overthrow the government of Nicaragua is not just mistaken, but is, in our view, morally corrupt and politically indefensible.That is our firm conviction. Church groups challenge almost every assertion made about Nicaragua by this administration. What the administration says are facts that support its policy we say are lies that are used to justify unspeakable violence.

Truth-telling is central to our biblical tradition, and this war has been built on a scaffold of deception. We have seen the work of Ronald Reagan's "freedom fighters" and know them to be terrorists instead. His "Nicaraguan Democratic Resistance" is in reality a U.S.-created and -sponsored mercenary army carrying out a proxy war for the Reagan administration.

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