Summary of "Making Europe Unconquerable: The Potential of Civilian-Based Deterrence and Defense"

Summary of

Making Europe Unconquerable: The Potential of Civilian-Based Deterrence and Defense

By Gene Sharp

Summary written by Conflict Research Consortium Staff

Citation: Gene Sharp. Making Europe Unconquerable: The Potential of Civilian-Based Deterrence and Defense. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Ballinger Publishing, 1985, 250 pp.

Making Europe Unconquerable: The Potential of Civilian-Based Deterrence and Defense argues that civilian based nonviolent deterrence and defense is a viable alternative to conventional military approaches to national security.

Making Europe Unconquerable: The Potential of Civilian-Based Deterrence and Defense will be of interest to those seeking alternatives to violent conflict. This work is divided into seven chapters, with preface and bibliography.

Chapter One examines Europe's (then) current security and defense needs. Pursuing national security through military superiority is expensive, promotes dangerous arms races, and may be ultimately ineffective. Sharp returns to an examination of the basic concepts of defense, deterrence, and security, to search for innovative approaches to national security. Chapter Two introduces the concept of civilian-based defense. "Civilian-based defense aims to deter and defeat attacks by making a society ungovernable by would be oppressors and by maintaining a capacity for orderly self-rule even in the face of extreme threats and actual aggression."[54] Sharp illustrates the feasibility of civilian defense with historical examples, including France and Algerian independence in 1961, and the Czechoslovakian resistance to Soviet invasion in 1968-9. From these "improvised prototypes" Sharp develops a policy of civilian defense. Chapter Three describes the transarmament process, which is "the process of changing over from a military system to a civilian-based defense system."[67] A national policy of civilian-based defense is compatible with a variety of international stances: purely defensive, highly internationally participatory, even offensive or expansionist. However, Sharp does argue that civilian defense is fundamentally linked with democratic social and political ideals.

Chapters Four through Six discuss the mechanisms of civilian defense, and describe how such an approach can be effective in deterring, defending and defeating attacks. Chapter Four focuses on deterrence. Civilian defense serves to deter both internal and external usurpation, by nonviolently resisting the attackers objectives, and refusing to grant legitimacy to the attackers rule. Nonviolent resistance and noncooperation must be employed to increase the attackers costs to unacceptable levels. To be an effective deterrent, the presence of a strong civilian-based defense policy must be publicized. Should such deterrence fail, civilian-based defense is also an effective form of close encounter defense. "Civilian-based defense is the direct defense of society as such - its principles, free institutions, and liberties - rather than a futile attempt to defend territory as an indirect means to defend society."[110] Chapter Five suggests specific techniques of civilian defense, including nonviolent Blitzkrieg, communication and warning. Chapter Six describes longer term strategies to force an attacker's withdrawal. Resistance strategies range from massive total resistance to a variety of selective resistances. Sharp suggests six major questions which should be considered when selecting a long term strategy.

In his final chapter Sharp assesses the potential effectiveness of civilian- defense for various nations within the Cold War context.

Making Europe Unconquerable: The Potential of Civilian-Based Deterrence and Defense is an intriguing investigation into the defensive uses of nonviolent action.