Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


OTPOR and Cicero

The uprisings in Ukraine in these days seems to follow a textbook procedure in these kinds of upheaval. It is the kind of scenery we saw some places during the fall of the cold war and most recently in Serbia (the OTPOR movement) and Georgia.

And it really underscores rhetoric in the good, old traditional sense, where a speaker manages to excite a crowd and convince them to stay out in the freezing cold for a cause that is bigger than themselves - even though they might get beaten or worse.

Allow me to serve up one of my favorite Cicero quotations, clumsily translated partly from Thure Hastrup's Danish version, partly from Perseus Project (and hopefully neither Cicero nor my old teacher Lars Kirkegaard is watching).

Is it not a wonderful thought that there, one man comes forth from the
crowd of men and is the only one, or one of the very few, who can set about
that, which everybody has the ability to do from birth?

Cicero, De Oratore, book 1 chapter 31

Obviously individuals play a great role in these kinds of uprising. The interplay between popular movement and an inspiring leader is having an enormous output - counted in it's thousands on the street.

But this kind of movement also raises a good question: how much springs from persuasion and how much is it possible for foreign powers to push this kind of movement forward, using intelligence, covert missions and secret diplomacy? New York Times has an interesting analysis of the Ukrainian uprising as an oldstyle proxy war between Russia and the EU.

The last point here concerns Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste, the Danish intelligence service, that I have mentioned before. Regarding the criticism of Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste (FE) hopefully they have plentiful information on Ukraine - if they are not actually engaged in of changing horses midstream to a Middle Eastern emphasis - and it would be interesting to know how much they could use information like this as a bargaining chip when dealing with other intelligence services.

Back in Ukraine hopefully democracy is the winner of this complicated struggle.


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