A lot of virtual ink is being spilled over at the gun control blogs about how Egypt's peaceful revolution didn't require the anti-government protesters to use force.
Partially true. First, how did the police and internal security forces get routed early in the process? Do you think they just melted away of their own accord? If you watch some of the videos, you can see mobs of protesters tossing tear gas back into the police formations, separating the phalanxes of riot shields, and then using mass to overwhelm and rout the police formations. Armored vehicles and riot control trucks were torched on the streets. That's a spontaneous intimidation campaign using physical coercion to persuade the despotic internal security forces that further attempts at riot control might be adverse to their health. As a side note, we also saw the citizenry forming militias to protect innocent life and property, armed with whatever weapons could be found at hand.
Next, the protesters did not force definitive change. They got hedging from a dictator who probably would have loved to "exert influence" in the upcoming elections even though he himself was resigning. Unless you see promoting the former interior minister -- who, by the way, oversaw the internal security forces as part of his job portfolio -- to the vice presidency (which is often seen as a stepping stone to rule in Egypt) as change, that is.
Who forced change? The military: i.e., the guys with the guns. Even NPR this morning ran a story talking about how the Egyptian military played a key role in forcing Mubarak out. Right now it is the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces led by a career military man that has put the country under martial law and is calling the shots. Had the Egyptian military decided to turn those guns on the protesters (and it is doubtful if conscript soldiers would have fired on their relatives in the crowd) instead of throwing Mubarak off the sinking ship then the outcome could have been quite different.
The Egypt thing is not as clear cut as the antis want to make it out to be. The hated dictator stayed in power until the guys with the guns (i.e. the Army) forced him out. Now, the guys with guns were certainly influenced by the peaceful protests, but they were ultimately the decisive factor. Do you think Mubarak would have left if the Army had laid down their arms, relinquished security duties back to the secret police, and joined the peaceful crowds instead of forcing him out at bayonet point? That seems rather optimistic to me.
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