"Nonviolent Movements Succeed by Persuasion."
Not always. The moral high ground is necessary, but hardly sufficient. Campaigns need to be extremely disruptive -- and strategically so -- to coerce entrenched dictators to abandon their posts. Nonviolent resistance does not necessarily succeed because the movement convinces or converts the opponent. It succeeds when the regime's major sources of power -- such as civilian bureaucrats, economic elites, and above all the security forces -- stop obeying regime orders. The literary scholar Robert Inchausti put it well when he said, "Nonviolence is a wager -- not so much on the goodness of humanity, as on its infinite complexity." As in war, the key for a nonviolent campaign is to find and exploit the opponent's weaknesses.
Take the recent uprising in Egypt. In the first days of the uprising, military and security forces cracked down heavily on protests. But the demonstrators were prepared: Activists -- influenced by recent nonviolent revolutions elsewhere -- circulated instructions to protesters detailing how to respond to the crackdown and began placing women, children, and the elderly on the front lines against the security forces. The handouts encouraged protesters to welcome the soldiers into the ranks of the movement and strongly forbade any violence against them. Movement leaders also made sure that repressive acts against peaceful protesters were caught on video and publicized.
Ultimately, the Egyptian Army refused orders to suppress the campaign -- and Hosni Mubarak's regime lost one of its key centers of power. Here again is an advantage that nonviolent groups have over armed guerrillas: Loyalty shifts among the security forces are difficult for small, clandestine, violent groups to achieve. Violent threats typically unite the security forces, who join together to defend against them (which is precisely why the Syrian regime insists it is fighting "armed groups" rather than unarmed civilians).