Ukraine’s Orange Revolution: Film Screening and Discussion

Ukraine’s Orange Revolution: Film Screening and Discussion

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ROBERT MCMAHON: I'm going to call this screening to order.

Thank you very much for coming to this Council on Foreign Relations film screening and subsequent meeting to discuss the film. It's not often we run up against a high-powered presidential speech, but I think the popcorn and a good movie still remain a good competition.

I'm Robert McMahon. I'm editor of and I'll be presiding over the discussion after the meeting -- after the film. It's a 90-minute film.

And just a reminder, some housekeeping: This is an on-the-record meeting. Anything you say can and will be used in blogs after this meeting. And I want to -- before the film -- just pass off to the actual director and producer of the film, we're lucky to have here, Steve York.

I will add one other thing, which is the obligatory turn off all beeping, tweeting instruments. Turn off completely, please. They do interfere with the audio system.

So I would like to just -- so we can get going with the movie right away, let me pass off to the producer and the director. And will have a discussion afterwards with Peter Ackerman at this table here and David J. Kramer. But first: Steve York.


STEVE YORK: Thank you, Robert.

And good evening to everyone. Thank you for being here. We're against pretty tough competition tonight, so you're to be congratulated for making this choice.

I say thank you also, the council, for hosting this event and for imposing a minute-a-half time limit on my remarks. (Laughter.) It's much easier to speak for a minute and a half than anything longer than that.

In 30 years of making documentaries, I can count on two fingers the number of films I've made without a narrator -- including this one. From the day I arrived in Ukraine, it seemed clear that I really should allow Ukrainians to tell their story for themselves in their own voices -- to let the camera see these extraordinary events through the eyes of Ukrainians as much as possible. I wanted to stay out of the way and I wanted to let these experiences come through unfiltered. So I didn't want the voice of God, which is the derogatory term we use for narrators in my business.

You can decide for yourself what this was all about. And I'll leave with you a question: At least once a week someone says to me, because they know I made the film, what a waste that was. That whole orange revolution was in vain; it came to nothing. It achieved nothing.

My question for this, I'm assuming rather well-informed group: Do you truly believe that Ukraine is no different than it was when Leonid Kuchma was president? Do you think the Ukrainian people would be living better lives today if Viktor Yanukovych had succeeded Kuchma?

I hope you enjoy the film.

MCMAHON: We're going to start a little discussion and then open it up to you in about 15 minutes. I'd like to just introduce our two guests here, who are very well situated to discuss what just happened and what to make of it five years later.

To my immediate right is Peter Ackerman, one of the authorities on nonviolent conflict. He's the founding chair of the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict.

David Kramer is sitting next to Peter and currently a Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund; also, formerly a State Department official with responsibilities on -- in Russia, Ukraine -- that region, as well as democracy and human rights issues.

Peter, I wanted to start it off with just thinking of all the memorable images from the movie. One of my favorites, actually, is the sharing of the breath mint of the Russian leaders on the review stand -- but so many memorable images. But you just -- you come away with a feeling so -- such a warmth for the Ukrainian people. And yet, there's a bittersweet aspect to it, obviously. When you think -- first of all, you think of the Yanukovych campaign just in terms of the ineptitude, really, that was on display. And how they really -- in a lot of ways, the ineptitude let it all slip away. And yet, he's leading in the polls for next month's presidential elections in Ukraine.

The Tymoshenko-Yushchenko alliance is quite bitterly divided and the country's on the verge of default. Things are in a really bad way right. I mean, did Yanukovych come away learning the lessons from that orange revolution maybe better than Yushchenko and Tymoshenko?

PETER ACKERMAN: I think the events in the Ukraine went through a different phase, which is more of a parliamentary phase where one of the more common interactions we're used to occurred. And Yushchenko and Tymoshenko couldn't sustain -- seems not to be able to sustain the majorities.

I think one of the things we have in one of our earlier versions of the movie is we made the point that even though disintegration and political conflict goes forward, it's in a parliamentary context. The press is free and the elections are accurately counted.

These aren't events that are perfect and they're not events that create model societies afterwards. But the studies that we've done, on balance, the coordinated behavior that's required, the unification around goals, the selection of leaders that for that moment are considered to be legitimate creates habits that basically carry forward after the conflict.

Of course, we've done some fairly careful studying that changes in regimes that are a product of a small band of violent insurrectionists very rarely if ever lead to a democratic result and don't create the habits that I've just described.

MCMAHON: And it's also, we should mention, Ukraine -- despite the scenes of this unity in the capital in the Independent Square -- they're very much a divided country, even immediately after that. I mean there are divisions among Ukraines about NATO membership and so forth.

David, I wanted to bring up the other major player that was mentioned periodically in this movie, which is Russia. I mean, few countries -- no country was more alarmed by what happened five years ago than Russia, in such a way that it resulted in a crackdown on civil society in Russia and really a severe alarm about what -- you know, about that type of scenario somehow playing out in Putin's Russia.

And it seems like it almost took the West by surprise -- the virulence of the Russians response to that. I mean, this is Kiev in Rus. This was -- this hit home more than the rose revolution even did.

Was it something that -- maybe the Russia card wasn't played as well or wasn't, maybe, maintained by maybe Western officials to a better extent? I mean, how would you explain what happened -- the Russian role, then and today?

DAVID KRAMER: Bob, if I could first, let me just give a tip of the hat to Steve for an outstanding video. It was the first time I've seen it and it's incredibly powerful. So congratulations on that.

I also would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge one other person who's sitting in the back, John Herbst, who was our ambassador to Ukraine at that time and who played a critical role in providing outstanding advice and counsel for those of us back in Washington. And John Tefft, who was the deputy assistant secretary -- who is I think actually on his way out to Ukraine this evening to assume his responsibilities as new ambassador -- played an instrumental role in Washington during those days.

On the Russia question, there is no question that Russia threw its heavy weight behind one candidate and that was Viktor Yanukovych. The pictures that we saw on the video with Putin standing next to Yanukovych with Kuchma on his other side; the hundreds of millions of dollars that Russia sunk in to the campaign to try to boost the candidacy of Yanukovych. Putin went back to Ukraine after the second round to, again, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Yanukovych.

There's no question that Russia had a preferred candidate in this election. And I think that largely backfired, because one of the themes that comes out of this video is that the Ukrainians decided they were going to choose who their president was going to be, not some outside power. And I think the Russian heavy-handedness badly backfired on Russia. And as a result, we saw Ukrainians prevail in that their votes did ultimately matter.

The Russians saw this against the backdrop of revolution in Georgia just a year before with the Rose Revolution. And there was growing concern inside Russia that it was Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004. Who knew where this is going to go next? And there was even concern that there would be a possibility of some commotion inside Russia itself. And so the Russian leadership did not want to leave anything to chance. They wanted to make sure that they consolidated their power; that there were no threats.

The effort to monetize social benefits in 2005 elicited protests and the Russian government quickly backed off, because they didn't want to do anything that could spark the possibility of protests in opposition to the regime.

And I think what we've since then is a managed situation in Russia where, say, in contrast to Ukraine in 2004, Ukraine in 2005 with parliamentary elections 2006 -- I hope also coming up next month with a presidential election in Ukraine -- unlike that, in Russia we see managed elections.

The election for Russian president, I think I would argue, took place in December 2007 when Vladimir Putin decided between Sergei Ivanov and Dmitri Medvedev -- who by the way, was in that video standing next to Yanukovych, who offered him a mint. And the Russian voters affirmed Putin's choice in March of 2008.

In Ukraine it's very different. Ukrainian leaders have to win the support of the Ukrainian voters. We don't know who the next president of the Ukraine is going to be. That's a good thing and we shouldn't take that for granted.

MCMAHON: I can expand it a little bit: The broader subject of the colored revolutions is somewhat tarnished a little bit in discussions now in the U.S. and the current administration has really distanced itself from reference to the quote-unquote "freedom" agenda. And you know, Georgia, you mentioned before, had a bruising experience in the previous summer. It's now got two separatist regions that are under Russian sway. Serbia even continues to contest Kosovo's right to independence. Kosovo hasn't been recognized even at the U.N. as an independent state.

So you can get -- a number of people can sort of say, Aha! This was a little hyped. You know, this wasn't -- we should've played this safer.

First you, David, and then Peter. What do you say to that sort of feeling that maybe the U.S. -- starting with the U.S. and other nations that were really pressing these colored revolutions, that they maybe played their hand wrong?

KRAMER: Well, I actually wouldn't agree that we press for these color revolutions. We are often accused of being behind these, of conspiring to overthrow these governments to put in place more supportive, pro-Western governments.

Quite simply, and I say this as a former government official: We're not that good. We often play catch-up to these things. This was an indigenous movement. These are the Ukrainian people who were behind this --

MCMAHON: I guess it rhetorically is one --

KRAMER: But it was hard not to get caught up in the moment. I remember when Viktor Yushchenko came to Washington in April of 2005, riding on the wave of the enthusiasm, the expectations which he could never realize. And he was received like a king. He spoke to a joint session of Congress. There was a dinner one evening in a huge hotel barroom and he was being feted. And in some respects, he was almost doomed to go downhill from there, because he could never live up to the expectations -- no one could.

But these color revolutions happened, because the people decided -- in certain countries, anyway -- they had enough and they wanted to make sure that their votes counted, that corrupt governments couldn't steal from them their right to have their votes counted. And as we know, it doesn't happen everywhere. And there are often are precipitating events that cause these kinds of reactions for people.

There was another revolution, so to speak, in Kyrgyzstan it was nothing like this -- nothing like this. So we shouldn't take away from what the Ukrainian people themselves in 2005. The United States shouldn't take credit for what happened there nor should we be blamed or accused for what happened. The Ukrainians deserve the credit; they will deserve blame if things go badly. We try to help on the margins where we can.

And we have an important role to play. I don't want to suggest that we are completely irrelevant, but what happened -- as we saw on that video -- that was up to Ukraine.

MCMAHON: So Ukraine and the other colored revolutions, Peter, what are the takeaways, then, that can be used to in subsequent mass nonviolent demonstrations in efforts to change governments?

ACKERMAN: I think there's a couple of comments: It's the color revolution that are worth noting. The color revolutions are a subset of what we call civil resistance or nonviolent conflict. That's defined as to what people do when they're living under some form of oppression, but have no military option that's viable. So they recognize the status quo can't stand, so they use strikes, boycotts, mass protests. There's literally hundreds of ways civil society can pressure the status quo.

The point of these acts of pressure -- and you see this very clearly in the movie -- is to force movement of members of the pillars of support that exist on the other side. It's quite clear, for example, the Supreme Court would not have behaved the way it did if had not become clear that the police were not going to disperse these crowds.

So we all see -- we see in this movie, that happened so many other times, loyalty shifts amongst the security services. This happened in the People Power Movement in the Philippines. It happened in South Africa; it happened in the case of Pinochet in the end. It certainly happened if you see the movie we did on the fall of Milosevic, where one day -- contrary to everyone's expectation -- he announced, well, gee. I want to step down now and spend more time with my grandson. Now, this is a man which everybody believed would never fall without a great fight. And frankly, what was happened is that the pillars underneath him were completely shaken -- particularly the military.

So I think we need to look at what civil resistance is and what works and what doesn't work. And what we do see is that it's the disruption that's critical, and that gets to another point which you've seen here. And this is -- I think we've now told how many stories? We've told eight stories in three movies we've done -- is you see one kind of tactic that's use that seems to predominate and that's the street protest. But if you look, for example, the way Gandhi worked. For him, it was a disobedience with respect to making salt. Or you look in South Africa it was the consumer boycotts that were critical; you tell a story of the national lunch counter boycotts that were led by Jim Lawson, who was the most important strategist during the civil rights movement.

So there's a wide variety of tactics that can roughly be separated into two parts: acts of commission and acts of omission. Acts of commission, like street protests, are things you do that the other side wants you to stop doing. And then there's acts of omission that you stop doing things that the regime needs you to do. In both cases, you're playing against the dependency the other side has on your cooperation.

Now, we did a study last year that appeared in International Security Quarterly that looked at 320 insurrections that occurred from 1900 till the present day -- till last year. And of those insurrections, two-thirds were violent in character -- basically, a small group of insurrectionists were in operation to try to effect change. And the other third were civil resistance movements where the primary tactics were maintain nonviolent discipline.

The data's quite interesting. Twenty-six percent of the violent insurrections turned out to be successful while 53 percent of the civil resistance movements turned out to be successful. And the point about this is that when you're in civil society and you're disrupting, there's very little -- the counteract can't be pure annihilation, because the government wants your cooperation to create a tranquil society again. In the case of a violent insurrection, the response is to annihilate the small group of violent insurrectionists.

So you have in a civil resistance movement a great deal of staying power. And that's the way I think we have to view Iran. Iran -- the Iranian movement can learn many things from this movement or what happened with Pinochet or what happened in South Africa. And what is becoming clear is that we're in -- we might very well be in the first phases of that learning and basically taking the lessons of these movements and repotting the efforts at disruptions.

So the key for us and the reason we do these movies is to say: Are there lessons, strategic principles, that we see in these movies that basically are applicable to others? For sure, in every one of these cases, you have culturally specific, demographically specific, ethnically specific, religiously specific circumstances. But when you step back and you say, what of the common elements and you study those, the people who come to us for help realize that they can start to reverse engineer those principles to be effective in their own context.

MCMAHON: I thought it was interesting you mentioned Iran. And in terms of, you know, urbanized, highly literate society, you know, seemingly poised for change. And yet, there was this sort of tipping point in the summer and security forces, you know, rallied around the regime -- although the regime itself seems to be under different influences right now.

ACKERMAN: Natan Sharansky describes societies like these as "rife with latent double-thinkers." In other words, there's people in all places in that society -- whether it's in the defense, you know, the Revolutionary Guard now has bought telecom. You know, they're now turning into businessmen. We know there are splits in the clerical class. We know that there's a tremendous amount of discontent that was discovered by virtue of the disruptions.

Now, the question -- and we know that there's an unbelievably powerful woman's movement over a host of smaller issues that can congeal around a series of larger issues. One issue, for example, could be as they repot from knowing that they're never going to get Mousavi elected to let's seek changes in the Guardian Counsel veto. This is very similar to what happened in Poland when Lech Walesa came to our first movie where we told the story of Poland. He said the thing you missed is that when we were in the Gdansk shipyards there was 250,000 foreign troops on our soil. If we had asked, as a result of stopping the strike, for the end of communism, we would have been crushed. But we just asked for one little thing, which was a free trade union and within four months, 20 percent of the country had signed up.

So the Iranian people have every possibility of reformulating their goals that will be widely popular and rethinking and diversifying their tactics -- not just the street protests, but there's all sorts of boycotts and strike possibilities that they're going to discover for themselves. They're very smart people and believe me, they're very determined.

MCMAHON: And Mousavi still is -- remains at his liberty? He's not been seized?

ACKERMAN: At the moment. He might very well be. You know, we saw with Shirin Ebadi that they're trying to take her Nobel Prize.

You know, they'll go as far as they're allowed to go. The movement is going to basically have to push back and it's a contest.

MCMAHON: Okay. I'm going to open it up to questions now. And just a quick note on rules, once I call on you just state your name. Stand -- name and affiliation, please and stand. And nice, concise question -- we want to get in as many as possible.

So I'm going to take -- right in the back there for first question, please.

QUESTIONER: Zoltan Mikasvo (sp), World Business -- (inaudible) -- News Agency, Slovakia.

And my question is about the consistency of U.S. foreign policy. So on the one side we saw Mr. Yanukovych, Mr. Putin; on the other side we saw Mr. Yushchenko. And my question is, what do you think -- what kind of message will it send, the fact that Ukraine was not even offered the membership in NATO? And that U.S. is now resetting the relations between -- the Russia of Mr. Putin?

So after the prediction that in the next poll, Yushchenko will have 9 percent; Yanukovych 29, do you think that these kind of things -- these numbers -- are affected by the fact that Ukraine and the people of Ukraine were offered nothing for their brave and courageous resistance to the regime?

You know, I am from Slovakia. And in '89 we had also a revolution and we were offered at least membership in NATO, then membership in the European Union. After some period of time, we can tell we are better off.

Do you think that the people of Ukraine can tell, after this resistant, that they are better off? And what do you think will they come once more again on the streets after they feel that they were let failed by the West?

Thank you.

MCMAHON: Thank you. David, do you want to start?

KRAMER: Sure. First, while Putin stood with Yanukovych, the United States and the West stood with a process -- a democratic process. We did not side with Yushchenko. We didn't play favorites in the election. What we stood for was to insist that the right of Ukrainian voters to choose their leaders be upheld.

I remember vividly the day that Secretary of State Colin Powell went out to the press briefing on day three of the protest and said that the United States cannot accept as legitimate these results. And he, in fact, said, quote -- he challenged Ukraine's leaders to, quote, "Decide whether they are on the side of democracy or not, whether they respect the will of the people or not."

I said that this was decided by the Ukrainians and it was. But the stance of the international community is also very important -- and that gets to your question.

There were a number of things that were accomplished, at least between the United States and Ukraine soon after the Orange Revolution, including getting Ukraine into the WTO, passing Jackson-Vanik, getting Ukraine graduated from that. A number of different steps that in those heady, early days of the Orange Revolution the United States and Ukraine managed to get a lot accomplished.

On the specific issue of NATO, it is a very tricky issue, because in part, there is not strong support for membership in NATO among Ukrainians. The United States did support and did try to get a membership action plan for Ukraine in April of 2008 at the Bucharest NATO summit. There were other allies who did not support that position. The United States supported it, because Ukraine's three top leaders -- Viktor Yushchenko, Yulia Tymoshenko and Arseniy Yatseniuk, who was the speaker of the Rada at that time -- signed a letter in January 2008 seeking MAP. Had they not done so, I think it's fair to say the United States would not have pushed for a MAP, because there wasn't a popular level of support for it.

Do Ukrainians feel better off now than they did back in 2004? I hope so. They have the freest media in the region; they have a vibrant civil society; they have the right to choose their own leaders. They certainly have a parliament that is not a rubberstamp of the presidency. There have many things that have developed and evolved in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution that none of us should take for granted.

They may not be completely concrete for many Ukrainian voters. There may be a level of disgust and dismay that there is endless political bickering and fighting going on between and among Ukraine's top leaders -- including between the two leaders of the Orange Revolution -- Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko. But Ukrainians will be able to go to the polls again next month and determine what kind of leadership they want.

And based on their previous two national elections since the Orange Revolution, I'm confident that once again, Ukrainians will be able to choose their own leader. And that will, in part, determine what kind of future they have -- depending on which candidate they choose.

MCMAHON: Other question, please? Yes, you right there.

QUESTIONER: (Off mike.)

MCMAHON: Just wait for the mike, please.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Olenya Trekap (ph), Ukrainian News Agency -- (off mike).

I have a question, also very related to the first one, which I think is a very legitimate question. If -- you think if Viktor Yanukovych wins, which is very likely, will he have enough power and legitimacy to turn Ukraine into some version of Putin Russia? Because right now, a lot of experts are saying that people are frustrated with democracy and they will not protest again in case Yanukovych wins and that he will be able to restore order in Ukraine and he will be able to actually reverse the democratic process in Ukraine.

And the United States right now lost interest in Ukraine and they right now changed relationships with Russia and they will not care about that.

How do you respond to these assumptions?

KRAMER: I wouldn't take for granted that Viktor Yanukovych is going to be the next president of Ukraine. There are some who believe that in a second round, his level of support has a cap on it -- that he would not be able to get enough support, once the other forces might coalesce behind the other person in the second round. We'll see.

It's a situation where I think there are stereotypes of many of the candidates. Viktor Yanukovych, I would think, wants to be the leader of an independent, sovereign Ukraine. He wants to run a Ukraine that is not under the undue influence of other outside powers. I think Yulia Tymoshenko is the same way. Whether they look to closer ties with NATO or to the European Union, what kind of relationship they have with Russia -- those are issues central to this campaign.

The issue of energy security, the issue of corruption in the energy sector -- all of these things are critical in the campaign and they are issues worthy of debate, which I think is happening. Not maybe as much as many Ukrainians would like, but I think these issues do, in some respects, break down depending on which candidate you might support.

Just very quickly, if I may -- because the gentleman also asked about the reset policy with Russia and it also comes to your question that the West is not paying much attention -- as I mentioned before, we finally now have an ambassador going out to Ukraine, after our previous ambassador, Bill Taylor, who did an excellent job, left in May. This will help the United States in paying more attention to the situation in Ukraine, because there's nothing like -- as Ambassador Miller knows -- there's nothing like having an ambassador on the ground pressing on the key issues for those back in Washington.

And I think that you will continue to see an effort to strengthen Ukraine's independence and democratic reform, economic reform. President Obama, in Moscow, very clearly said that we support a strong, vibrant, independent Ukraine with the right to choose what kind of orientation it decides. Vice President Biden, when he went to Ukraine, reinforced those messages. And I think those messages, I hope, will continue to remain key tenets of U.S foreign policy.

MCMAHON: People almost expect too much from the new administration -- or maybe parse its words a little too closely. It's obvious that they've taken a little bit different tack than the Bush administration, but the proof is in the pudding in terms of support for democracy. And how do you see the difference between, say, the administration's support for civil society areas -- whether it's the National Endowment for Democracy or other areas? Have you seen much of a change?

KRAMER: I think the current administration's interest and support for civil society is as strong as it was in the previous administration in the U.S. I don't think there's been a diminution in interest in that kind of development in Ukraine.

Remember that in the first Bush administration relations between the United States and Ukraine were not very good. We had the Gongadze case. We had the issue of Kolchuga radars. Those issues were sources of considerable tension between the United States and the Ukraine in the first Bush administration.

The Orange Revolution changed everything. And I'm not predicting that there will be a similar kind of event following next January's election, but with an election maybe there will be some clarity. Maybe there will be a little calm in the political situation in the Ukraine and that will give the Obama administration, I think, more to work with -- regardless of who wins the election.

Once the election is over, you have a president. Hopefully, you'll get a prime minister selected fairly soon after that. I think that'll lend some clarity that will help in the development and deepening of U.S.-Ukrainian relations.

MCMAHON: Okay. Any other questions?

Yes, Kay.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. (Off mike) -- with the council.

Peter, let me ask you: You mentioned Iran being possibly in the first phase of a civil resistance movement. Are there other countries, societies, that are possibly ripe for some kind of civil resistance that you can cite and maybe give us a sense of, you know, how far along it might be and what we might expect?

ACKERMAN: I have zero predictive capability in this regard, but I'll -- you know, we're in the business of basically working with dissidents around the world. And we work with Zimbabweans, we work with Cubans, we work with Vietnamese, we work with Chinese. All the places where you would think that people want a better -- a better deal with respect to their human freedom we are hearing from them.

I'd like to just maybe take a step beyond that question for a second -- oh, and let me say; we were talking about this this morning -- regional experts are generally very poor predictors of these events, because regional experts tend to look at what elites are doing with elites. And these things are constantly surprising people. I'll give you an example.

I was -- we sponsored a conference with Oxford that just produced a wonderful book called "Civil Resistance and Power Politics", which was edited Adam Roberts, who's the head of the British Academy and Timothy Garton Ash -- some of whom you may know.

And I gave a paper asking the question: What was more important in these movements -- skills or the prior conditions that limit what can happen? And I came very strongly down on the argument that skills create conditions. And at the end of my presentation, one of the respondents was a young Burmese fellow who said, "Peter, you can talk about skills all you want. But at the end of the day, Burma is shutdown. Nothing -- nothing is ever going to happen again." Four months later, we had the Saffron Revolution.

Flip to the end at the Saffron Revolution, when it was over and when it was repressed, one of the young monks died his hair blond, put on a crucifix, escaped to Thailand, gave an interview with The New York Times and said, in effect, when asked, why did you do what you did? And his answers say, well -- he gave a series of reasons, but one of them is, we saw this Burmese translation of a movie about how Milosevic fell and we wanted to see if we could replicate it.

So it's hard to know where success is going to be, because these are contests. But the one important thing you should take away from these movements -- from these movies is that it looks like the first step is some kind of spontaneous conflagration -- like you saw on June 12th in Iran. But at the end of the day, these movements must be led. Behavior must be coordinated and it must be sustained over time to basically tease out what I referred to when I quoted Natan Sharansky as being these latent double thinkers.

People just don't defect at a single -- over a single event. You have to continually disrupt so that they recognize the risk of defection go down. So the movements that are successful, like the civics movements in South Africa, is continuous, continuous pressure. And if you look at Steve's first movie on the Port Elizabeth boycott, we have the head of security services, after it was over, basically giving us a beautiful interview saying, you know, we loved the armed struggle that Mandela was advocating, because it was the easiest thing to deal with in the world. But these boycotts, we couldn't deal with them, and it essentially made South Africa ungovernable, which is why Botha had to leave and de Klerk came and de Klerk got Mandela out. And Mandela's greatness was in the end game.

But it's the sustained, continuous pressure over time that basically narrows the options of the oppressor that basically makes a difference. You can't do this with pure spontaneity.

MCMAHON: Straight ahead, please.

QUESTIONER: Don Bandler (sp).

I'm not -- this is not directly on the Ukraine question, but I was intrigued by what you said about Mr. Mousavi in Iran. My -- I've been reading a lot about him and meeting -- you know, had some meetings on the pro-democracy movement.

I think the pro-democracy movement, which you alluded to indirectly, is very important and very powerful and that's where those media images that we saw in June and last year and so on. But I don't think Mr. Mousavi is anywhere near a good leader for Iran or anywhere else. So I was a little bit -- I'd be interested in your, you know, filling out a little bit more why you thought Mousavi would be a decent addition or add-on or part of the Iranian government.

ACKERMAN: I don't think -- maybe I misspoke. I don't think I said that.

What I said is that the movement is going to have to reframe its key goals away from, did Mousavi get elected or not, and towards advocating and demanding more structural change, more process-oriented change. And that, I think, is in the process of happening in discovery.

So I agree with you. I think if this movement says, "Well, we still think he was the right guy who was elected", believe me, people who I believe know -- would know say that the fraud in the last election with Ahmadinejad is far more significant than the levels of fraud that you saw in this movie. But that's not -- you know, that's probably not where the next source of pressure is going to be.

And all these movements -- these civil resistance movements -- people have to pick goals that people easily relate to, can unite behind and all parts of society can rally around, because not everybody's willing to take the same risks in a society and take the same risks of arrest or oppression.

So for example, Gandhi's genius -- you know, we all think of him as a religious leader, but his genius was he figured out one day, I'm going to leave my ashram, walk 214 miles to Dandi Beach, pick up a bunch of sand, pour it in a pot of boiling water and make salt, which was illegal. You had to pay a tax for salt. And this touched everyone.

And right after that, 250 million people -- that's in 1930 -- started making salt. And at the end -- not the end, but in the middle -- Lord Irwin wrote to his secretaries of State and said, if this disruption continues and we get to the point where we lose control of the local constabulary, because they flip to the other side, we will have to leave.

So again, it's the disruption creates defection. What Gandhi discovered worked in the civil rights movement, worked in South Africa, worked in Poland and is what can work in Iran.

MCMAHON: We're going to maybe squeeze in one more question, if we could.

And just a reminder, too, that this meeting is on the record. And our final question will be right here on the side.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. John Howgee (ph), Inter-American Development Bank.

A question for ACKERMAN: You've spoken mostly about national movements of civil response, but can you talk to us more about, say, smaller groups like the Uyghurs in China? Have you found, in your studies, that there's a critical mass that you have to be within a population where civil disobedience really is a fruitful avenue, rather than just under a centralized control your chances disappear?

ACKERMAN: That's a great question. I think there's a ratio here of the number of people affected by the people they're trying to change and the disruption they can create if the change doesn't occur, versus the cost on the other side of demanding compliance against something that people don't want.

Now, that can happen in a small circle, it can happen in a larger circle. And we see in our own country, you know, we've had Cesar Chavez -- you know, there was a movement that was contained, but very, very powerful in a limited goals -- limited to them, important to them, less important to those around them.

So and it also can happen internationally. I mean, you know, one of the great choices I think that is potentially going to determine a great deal is if the Palestinians stay with the existing Hamas strategy or they basically look at what's happening in Bil'in where there's this continuous resistance to what's going on with the wall and seeing if they can basically capitalize that into other tactics of a similar type.

So there's choices to be made everywhere about how you want to fight. And this is about how you contest for your rights. It's not about conflict resolution or conflict prevention and it's certainly not about passivism, because probably -- except for maybe people point at Gandhi or Martin Luther King -- is that without exception, the people who lead these movements, if they believed they had a military option would have used it.

MCMAHON: And that is an appropriate note to end on.

I want to thank Peter Ackerman, David Kramer and our producer, director here, Steve York. Thank you for a wonderful movie and thank you all for coming out tonight. (Applause.)








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