Category Archives: By Will Alone

Greenpeace goes Gaming

Last December, Greenpeace put out a simple two person game called Deep Sea Desperation that focused on protecting ocean habitat for the Greenpeace player and drilling in more difficult places for the Big Oil player.  Lots rather fun.  The main page is here, while the rules are there.  There is a lively discussion about it at The Miniatures Page.

Apparently someone else came up with a game called Save The Whale! about eco-warriors vs. whalers.

Both games are free and look fun to play and educational as well.

Egypt: Bits from Behind the Scenes

Two little bits (rumors?) from behind the scenes during Egypt's uprising.

Robert Fisk reported that on January 30th Mubarak ordered the military to attack the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, but the officers refused:

Last night, a military officer guarding the tens of thousands celebrating in Cairo threw down his rifle and joined the demonstrators, yet another sign of the ordinary Egyptian soldier's growing sympathy for the democracy demonstrators. We had witnessed many similar sentiments from the army over the past two weeks. But the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.

Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.

Thus when General Hassan al-Rawani told the massive crowds yesterday evening that "everything you want will be realised – all your demands will be met", the people cried back: "The army and the people stand together – the army and the people are united. The army and the people belong to one hand."

While Paul Amar wrote that during the February 4th attacks on democracy demonstrators by pro-Mubarak supporters (likely paid thugs, police in plain clothes, government employees and even convicts freed on the condition that they attack the demonstrators), were not widely prevented by the military because they did not have ammunition:

The army’s role in countering Suleiman’s lust for repression was crucial to saving the momentum of this uprising. On 4 February, the day of the most terrifying police/thug brutality in Tahrir Square, many commentators noted that the military were trying to stop the thug attacks but were not being very forceful or aggressive. Was this a sign that the military really wanted the protesters to be crushed? Since then, we have learned that the military in the square were not provisioned with bullets. The military were trying as best they could to battle the police/thugs, but Suleiman had taken away their bullets for fear the military would side with the protesters and use the ammunition to overthrow him.

That the military was unwilling to attack the demonstrators on January 30th, certainly lends support to the notion that their ammunition was take away from them before February 4th, and highlights the usefulness of nonviolent tactics in undermining the support given to the regime by the military and other groups in and outside of a government.

You say you want a Twitter revolution

With the exciting (largely) nonviolent overthrow of the Tunisian and Egyptian authoritarian governments, there has been talk of the effects of Twitter, Facebook and other social networking tools on these events.  Techdirt points us to the use of Usenet to keep the outside world informed of what was going on in the Soviet Union during the 1991 coup.  It is an interesting, albeit brief read.

Certainly in the Tunisian revolution, Anonymous seems to have had a hand in helping to take down government servers.  Certainly, if they were able to hack the computers and phone system of the presidency and make it difficult communicate with others then that would have contributed to Ben Ali's ouster.  Certainly, the internet can allow local nonviolent activists to work together and abroad to plan their efforts and craft fliers to distribute about goals and tactics.

Different articles have downplayed the effects of the internet and social media on the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and else where, but one of the keys to a successful nonviolent revolution is that large numbers of people must not fear government repression and realize that others do not fear such repression as well.  By increasing communication between people, the internet and social media help that process.  Hopefully these tools will get used to help overthrow authoritarian governments in the Middle East and beyond.

Working on By Will Alone rules, contact me if you want to help play test.

I am planning to start a gaming space in the basement (if my son doesn't beat me to it), which will allow me to setup a table on which I can run By Will Alone games. More opportunities to test the rules should hopefully lead to me finishing the By Will Alone rules by the end of the year.

If you are in the Boston, Massachusetts area, and want to help me play test the rules, just call or txt me at: (617) 863-0385

Thai government begins crackdown

The Red-Shirts' accepted Prime Minister Abhisit's offer to dissolve parliament and hold a November election, but demanded that Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban to
face criminal charges for his
role in the April 10 crackdown.   Abhisit rejected the Red-Shirts' demand, rescinded the offer of a November election and announced that his government will expel the Red-Shirts from their encampment in the business district in Bangkok.  The Red-Shirts have called for reinforcements.

According to Voice of America, the government crackdown has begun with the shooting of a Thai general who is supportive of the Red-Shirts in their encampment.

Other reporting: Christian Science Monitor, BBC, Times, Al Jazeera, New York Times.  I would have included the Bangkok Post, but I couldn't get to their articles for some unknown reason.

People power in Thailand undermining government support among the Thai army

It appears that the Thai government has offered a reconciliation plan that includes an election on November 14th.  The Guardian says that the Red Shirts have accepted the proposal, while the BBC says that the Red Shirts are willing to talk.

There seems to be a group called the Multi-Colored Shirts who are opposing the Red Shirts, though other sources refer to them as Yellow Shirts, the group that used nonviolence to overthrow the previous government, and wants to limit who can actually be in parliament.

The Red Shirts had fortified their positions in Bangkok and halted army forces from entering Bangkok (New York Times though "thailand protest train" gets 405 hits in

… antigovernment demonstrators in the northeast stopped a train carrying military vehicles, underlining the impunity of the protest movement and the government’s weakening control of the populous hinterland.

While the Guardian wrote that army soldiers may not be reliable:

However, there has been speculation that the army is reluctant to move against the protesters again after a failed attempt to clear them from the streets a week ago. The army chief, Anupong Paochinda, has said an election is the only solution to Thailand's political crisis.

Many soldiers, particularly in the lower ranks, are openly supportive of the red shirts' cause. Protesters have nicknamed them "watermelon soldiers", for their green uniforms on the outside and red sympathies within.

Looks like the Red Shirts are undermining the support of the government.

Nonviolence in Palestine

are a set of recent articles/press releases about some efforts at
nonviolence in Palestine & Israel:

Opposition protesters in Thailand continue campaign. Success in the air?

In Thailand, the Red Shirt anti-government protesters (United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, aka UDD) have continued their campaign to oust the current government.  This included retaking a pro-opposition tv station that the government attempted to censor.  One of their tactics was to occupy a commercial shopping district in Bangkok causing the shutdown of various malls.

Unfortunately for all, twenty one people have died including four soldiers and eight hundred have been injured when the military attempted to remove protesters from the area they are occupying.

According to the BBC, the head of the army has called for the government to be dissolved and expressed his reluctance to use force.  In a replay of what happened in January of 2009, the Election Commission has decided that the prime minister's Democratic Party should be dissolved due because they failed to declare an $8 million donation from a company during the 2005 election.  The case will be referred to the Constitutional Court as in early 2009.  The UDD brought the case.

The current government may fall soon since it no longer seems to have the support of the military.