Thursday, December 19, 2019

Good Protests, Bad Protests

All over the world people have been protesting their governments. Their reasons vary from economic grievances (eg high gas prices, corruption) to political concerns (eg resistance against centralization or oppression or foreign influences; political freedoms) to religious causes (eg sectarian conflict, religious freedoms).

Some protests are violent while others are peaceful or even festive. Some governments tolerate the protests while others respond with violence. Some protests are purely grassroots while others seem to be fueled by outside parties.

Given all this diversity, how do we know which of these protests are good protests from the perspective of the US foreign policy establishment? And hence, which protests will receive positive, negative or no coverage in US media?

The rule of thumb seems to be that protests are deemed good when they target (and preferably threaten) the continued existence or influence of governments that the US foreign policy establishment regards as insufficiently subservient to its interests.

And protests are bad when they target governments that are friendly to the US.

With some protests, to be sure, it may not yet be clear what the effects will be or who the main driving forces behind them are. And in some cases the protests may be relatively neutral with respect to US interests.

But in many cases it is pretty obvious whether protests threaten or support the interests of the US foreign policy establishment. These are listed below in an arguably simplistic but perhaps nonetheless useful overview: