I used to love reading about Napoleon when I was a kid. I loved the strategies, the battles, the thinking that went into his war work.
I was navigating my way through Twitter users in Cairo and was intrigued by a video from Khaled Khalil (@Kh_Khalil). The video was of a demonstration in a square, a peaceful one (Qlik video. The blogger was relatively high up above the crowd, standing on some kind of promenade overlooking the demonstration. A great place to survey the scene…
So I got to thinking a little more like a strategist. If there was a bank of troops hemming in the protestors, I might see if I could coordinate with some other groups in another location to get them to move, or to have a loose cluster of people who can mass together, and deliberately have them demonstrate on the other side of the police or army line. The army would then effectively be surrounded, at least in this one pocket.
There would be a risk of bloodshed, as army personnel tend to be quite young (Egypt is largely a conscript army). At the same time, the army in Cairo is primarily the Republican Guard who are going to be better trained to handle high stress situations (hopefully).
Now, there’s a bit in between which would probably take a few minutes, but seem like hours. That would be the point at which someone from the protest group talks to the leader of the police / army unit stuck in the middle.
There’d be a bit, a practical bit, with a conversation. That might go along the lines of…
“Hi, what a way to spend a day, this is all a big mess, you’re Egyptian, just like me, so how about we think about this situation, how about we do something meaningful, we’re not robots, our daughters and mothers are out there right now, and this situation cannot end with the same guys in charge, so hey, I’ve got an idea… can I ride in your tank? How many people can we fit on your tank? Can you drive it? Or do you want to stand up and ride? Anyone got a flag? Cool? Nah, a bigger one? Yes, that hits the spot. Excellent. Now, can you radio ahead to your buddies to let you through. I think they will want to join in…”
And hey presto, in the world of safely blogging miles away from anything serious going on, you not only have commandeered a tank, but you have an officer on side, the first defector, and the word is spreading.
If you are one of the Twitter protesters who end up reading this and deciding that it might be a good idea, I suggest good planning first, making sure you have a will in place, read my section on heroes (start with Part 1 then move on to Part 2 – writing Part 3), and god speed, whichever one you choose.