Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Let's start from the original claim in the NYT that Sharp is a meek, humble intellectual living in modest circumstances - whose books have nonetheless sparked revolutions all over the world.
I described this as "any old nonsense" because that's exactly what it is.

The first part is indeed true as someone else who looked into the issue after earlier attacks on Sharp noted:

Finally, there's the awkward matter of Sharp's humble current circumstances. Working from home has its advantages, of course. But Sharp says he's moved from Harvard Square to Newbury Street to Maverick Square for one simple reason: money, or the lack thereof. Finding funders for the AEI isn't easy, he tells me mournfully.

Chalk it up to bad timing. During the 1970s and 1980s, Sharp's most professionally fertile period, his own work wasn't really in step with the academic or foreign-policy Zeitgeist. Things are different now. Peace studies is now considered a legitimate academic discipline. And the (largely nonviolent) fall of the Soviet Union launched countless nonprofits dedicated to democracy building, with George Soros's Open Society Institute the best-known of the bunch.

This article, unlike TBG's incompetent would-be hatchet job, is a fair examination of accusations against Sharp and concludes:

This brings us to the heart of the matter. If you're on the far left -- or, for that matter, on the isolationist far right -- you'd find cause for great concern in the shared financial ties and political goals on the part of Helvey and the AEI on the one hand, and the US government and its surrogates on the other. The Clinton administration wanted to oust Milošević, and Sharp's ideas helped this happen; the Bush administration wanted to oust Saddam Hussein, and Helvey worked toward the same goal, albeit unsuccessfully. So the whole bunch must be in cahoots.

If your politics fall somewhere between these extremes, though, this convergence of goals isn't nearly as troubling. Milošević was a bad guy; Hussein was worse. Serbia is better off now than it was 10 years ago. And Iraq might have been, if Hussein had been overthrown nonviolently and by Iraqis. From this vantage point, the trouble isn't that the government and various organizations in the foreign-policy firmament have started to heed Sharp's wisdom. It's that they still don't heed it enough.


And still don't - the US was wrong-footed by the recent revolutions.

whose books have nonetheless sparked revolutions all over the world.

This is just your usual caricature - do try to be reasonably accurate. Nobody has claimed that his books "sparked" revolutions "all over the world"  -  just that some people involved in various revolutions have found some of his ideas useful. Oh, but that doesn't fit your grand conspiracy theory so well does it ? So build yet another straw man.

To understand why, some background is needed.

Firstly, the concept while NYT piece painted Sharp as an 'humble unassuming follower of Gandhi and Einstein, dedicated to something oxymoronic called "non-violent conflict", living a modest existence in a cheap part of town - etc, etc.

Only a moron would think it is "oxymoronic" cf. "conflict: 2. A state of disharmony between incompatible or antithetical persons, ideas, or interests; a clash."

Not even the basic facts are true. Sharp certainly isn't lacking cash or connections. He may not choose to spend the money on bling, but even if he earns "only" $100k a year - plus expenses - that's more than US workers earn. And the annual reports of the Albert Einstein Institution show that it has received multi-million dollar donations. (Conveniently, the sources aren't named, but Sourcewatch has some of them.)

Where is the evidence of "multi-million dollar donations" ? And why does he live so modestly with all that loot ? Could it be that the smaller sums involved are spent on promoting his ideas in fairly modest ways, lectures, publications, translations  and funding some research ?

It's also used as a funding conduit, as happened with OTPOR.

Where's the evidence that the AEI funded OTPOR in any significant way ?


Also contrary to the slew of recent charges posted on the Internet, the Albert Einstein Institution has never funded activist groups to subvert foreign governments, nor would it have had the financial means to do so. Furthermore, AEI does not initiate contact with any individual or organizations; those interested in the group's educational materials come to them first.

Nor have these critics ever presented any evidence that Sharp or the Albert Einstein Institution has ever been requested, encouraged, advised, or received suggestions by any branch of the US government to do or not do any research, analysis, policy studies, or educational activity, much less engage in active subversion of foreign governments. And, given the lack of respect the U.S. government has traditionally had for nonviolence or for the power of popular movements to create change, it is not surprising that these critics haven't found any.


And here's another terminological inexactitude - even though the NYT implies that Sharp's methods are elegant and can be decisively successful, the reality is that it still cost the US more than $40 million dollars, funnelled through various sources and fronts, to fund and organise a supposedly bottom-up campaign against an unpopular dictator in charge of a relatively mild security police state with a working electoral system.

Smear - of course AEI didn't "funnel" those funds and it seems that the Egyptian revolution, some of whose organisers found Sharp's ideas useful, was organised in a pretty cost-effective way.

So "non-violent conflict" - which is amusingly like "war is peace" -

You're so happy with your mistaken "oxymoronic" point we get it again - again wrong.

The reality is that these revolutions don't happen because of Sharp's books, but because of the tactical support and cash handouts that support them. And it's the US that choses when and where these revolutions happen. Not the people who die and are injured in the course of them.

The reality is that nobody claimed these revolutions did take place "BECAUSE" of Sharp's book - all you do is pull down your own straw man.

Also this is utter tosh in relation to the recent revolutions - they weren't decided by the US which did not supply "tactical support and cash", the US was taken by surprise, misguidedly supportive of Mubarak, France misguidedly supportive of the Tunisian regime.

Sharp's techniques may be worth studying, but it's clear that in practice implementing them successfully requires external funding, expert training, material support, and consultancy.

Shown to be "any old nonsense" as far as recent revolutions are concerned.

In fact, Sharp is pure Cold War

Oh, then he should be purely redundant, but of course he's not, his ideas are general and clearly relevant to the recent non Cold War revolutions.

 As usual TBG thinks he knows better than even those who might be expected to be very wary of anything like the picture of Sharp painted by TBG, e.g. long-time opponents of US imperialism such as Chomsky and Zinn and all the others who signed the letter defending him against such smears. TBG also knows better than those on the board of AEI:

Progressive Connections

A look at the five members of the Albert Einstein Institution's board shows that none of them is a supporter or apologist for U.S. imperialism. In addition to Sharp himself, the board consists of: human rights lawyer Elizabeth Defeis; disability rights and environmental activist Cornelia Sargent; senior deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA Curt Goering; and, veteran civil rights and anti-war activist Mary King, author of a recent highly acclaimed book that gives a sympathetic portrayal of the first - and largely nonviolent - Palestinian Intifada.

During the 1980s, Gene Sharp's staff included radical sociologist Bob Irwin and Greg Bates, who went on to become the co-founder and publisher of the progressive Common Courage Press.

Some years ago, when the institute had a larger budget, one of their principal activities was to support research projects in strategic nonviolent action. Recipients included such left-leaning scholars and activists as Palestinian feminist Souad Dajani, Rutgers sociologist Kurt Schock, Israeli human rights activist Edy Kaufman, Kent State Peace Studies professor Patrick Coy, Nigerian human rights activist Uche Ewelukwa, and Peace Studies professor Paul Routledge of the University of Glasgow, all of whom have been outspoken critics of U.S. foreign policy.


The view of Amitabh Pal, managing editor of  The Progressive magazine (probably a CIA front - yeah right):

A charge made against Sharp by the Iranian government and Hugo Chavez--and echoed by some in this country--is that he acts in cahoots with U.S. officialdom in subverting anti-American governments. This is absurd, since Sharp's work has played a significant role in movements against Israel and Mubarak's Egypt, the two most pro-American countries in the Middle East.

"Rather than being a tool of imperialism, Dr. Sharp's research and writings have inspired generations of progressive peace, labor, feminist, human rights, environmental, and social justice activists in the United States and around the world," stated a 2008 open lettersigned by Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, among many others.

Gene Sharp is a global treasure who deserves much more recognition here at home.


Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Feb 22nd, 2011 at 11:10:46 AM EST
A lot of work, a lot of patience, Ted. Thanks.

Hope brings obligation to the honorable man, in my view.
Good men deserve to not only be praised, but emulated.

If my few heroes- Erin Watada, Noam Chomsky, Gene Sharp, etc. are revealed as puppets, dupes, cynical pretenders, ineffective dabblers, then I'm off the hook. I need not ever get off my butt and inconvenience myself, let alone risk the flesh.

It has been said that if you scratch a cynic, you find a wounded romantic. Of course, this may just be another example of common low wisdom, "more honored in the breach than in the observance" by the illuminati.

TBG, who do you admire?

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 01:21:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Geas. That's the word I was searching for.

A spell or curse put upon someone to make sure they fulfill their task and don't betray their master. For instance a Geas could be put upon a servant...

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Wed Feb 23rd, 2011 at 01:29:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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