Putin chooses to send tax inspectors or health inspectors to close down or shutter a dissident group.
In Venezuela, laws are written broadly and then used like a scalpel against any group that is deemed a threat. The Chinese Communist Party frequently refers to democracy and makes sure that all of its top leaders only serve two terms. There are all sorts of different ways in which regimes are finding how to move and navigate through forces that challenge their regimes that make them appear to be other than what they are.
I was in China about 10 days after Mubarak fell.
And it was an incredible moment, because, on the one hand, there was no visible sign of revolution, but there was a tremendous tension. And there had been a call for people to assemble at different points around China at a particular moment on a particular day.
And the regime knew that. I went to one of those spots at 2:00 p.m. on that Sunday, and it was an incredible thing. You saw the fear that the regime exhibited by just the sheer number of police that were present. But more than the police were the number of plainclothes policeman.
There were moments when I was walking through crowds, and literally, three, four, five people around me, they all had earpieces.
They have really developed excellent crowd control techniques, where they would move the crowds through with street-cleaning equipment. And they would push people through with lots of water, cleaning the same street corner again and again and again.
Mind you, no one is actually coming out to protest. No one is actually declaring, down with the Chinese Communist Party. If you were to do that, then you would be rushed away in no time by security. But, rather, the call had been for people just to come out for a stroll.
And that was a very clever way of going about it, because you can’t really arrest someone for just walking down the street.
One of my favorite examples is actually from Egypt before the revolution, where you had members of the April 6 Movement, who they put out a call on Facebook for people to rally around a strike that was going happen in another part of the country.
And they said to people, on that day, just don’t go to work, another easy way to sort of show your protest without actually taking enormous risk. Just stay within your home on that given day. And the support for this was enormous on Facebook. And so the regime’s initial response was to start putting out a ticker on all television broadcasts saying, on April 6, everyone must go to work.
They inadvertently broadcast this message in a way that the members of April 6 never could have imagined. Egypt is a country of 81 million people. The regime had mistakenly, inadvertently communicated this protest to everyone.