As reports came in that President Obama today asked Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak through diplomatic channels to step aside, NCR spoke with Gene Sharp, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and renowned scholar of nonviolent struggle.
Following is that interview -- which covered the origins of power, the vulnerabilities of dictatorships, and important signs coming from the Egyptian military. The conversation has been edited for length.
For an interview Claire Schaeffer-Duffy had with Egyptian expert John Esposito yesterday, see: Egyptian uprising 'far beyond what people expected'.
NCR: Egypt is described as a security state, one in which the government relies heavily on its security apparatus for stability and legitimacy. These are not exactly ideal conditions for popular resistance. How could something like what we are witnessing in Liberation Square come about under a regime that has such a strong security apparatus?