Stratfor, the private intelligence company, ran an article on July 5, 2012 “Protest Movements as Political Strategy” (see: http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/protest-movements-political-strategy?utm_source=freelist-f&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20120705&utm_term=sweekly&utm_content=readmore&elq=831ac3ef37d1408ab596cbe7fc67a553)
The article positions protests below insurgencies on the scale of insurgencies largely because protests are viewed as non-violent activities whereas insurgencies are made up of violent acts. The article also points out that protests can “spur insurgencies” and cites Syria as a case in point.
Protests are considered an asymmetric tool because the protestors are assumed to have far less resources than the ruling entity they are protesting against.
In many cases protests have shown themselves to be cost effective means to affect people’s behavior.
If that is the case, should one of the functions of MISO to provide protest coaching to those favorable to our messages and causes? Should MISO try to influence governments by helping the citizens of that government be more effective in their protests?
Protestors are also attempting to make their effort look larger and more consequential than it really is. In my posts on “Occupy” I pointed out to the meager presence the protestors had in San Jose, the 10th largest city in the US, but how pictures of the protestors could be positioned in such a way as to make the few people look more like a crowd than they really were.
While I’m all in favor of new and original angles and tactics for MISO, and while protests do seem to have made quite a difference, especially in the Middle East, I don’t think MISO should be a force in the process.
MISO might work with friendly minded parties to help them understand the nuances of the communication process and to support those who support us, I believe that MISO needs to stay squarely in the military lane and avoid mixing in to what should be civilian or diplomatic efforts.
Reader thoughts always welcome.
Photo of 2009 protest outside the G20 Meeting in London: http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/zUZy_T7xFkd/Protesters+Outside+G20+Summit+London/iH7U0YB9ZWK