In Steve Perry’s Matador series, Emile Antoon Khadaji kicks off an interstellar rebellion against a corrupt government using nothing but non-lethal weaponry (primarily a fancy dart gun with poison that paralyzes victims for six months) and his mighty Zen kung fu skills. He becomes The Man Who Never Missed, waging a one man war on a single planet, incapacitating close to 2400 troops without creating one fatal casualty. The plan all along is for Khadaji to inspire revolutionaries to go out and topple the “Confed”, and soon enough his name cried out in street battles and uprising across a dozen star systems.
But all along Khadaji has fought with a worldview that holds life precious- ahimsa, anyone? He carries the weight of robbing thousands of people of a half year of their lives as some kind of karmic debt that he can barely hope to repay. As the blood starts flowing in the streets during the uprising he uses his resources to ship the kinds of non-lethal weapons he had used to revolutionaries everywhere. Crates of dart guns, tranquilizer darts, and gas grenades that cause immediate vomiting and diarrhea start showing up at every hot spot. Khadaji knows that not everyone will accept these non-lethal approaches, but he can at least offer those he inspired the option to overthrow the Confed without tumbling down a karmic sinkhole. Overthrowing a violent government leaving behind no bodies, just sleepy soldiers with messy pants? What a great notion.
What you see above, however, is the reality of street warfare, specifically Aleppo in the middle of the Syrian Civil War. Could all these noble concepts of non-lethal rebellion possibly work in a real life situation? Every day in the news lately there has been discussion of new US Secretary of State John Kerry’s decision to send non-lethal aid, meaning food and medical supplies, to the Free Syrian Army. His fear, quite justified, is that any advanced weaponry sent may end up in the hands of al-Qaida elements of the Syrian revolution. But what if the United States airdropped literally hundreds of tons of non-lethal weaponry into the Free Syrian Army zones? Would a mountain of tasers, tranq darts, tear gas, stingball grenades, (dubiously non-lethal) rubber bullets, bean bag shotgun shells, flash-bangs, and a hundred thousand flex cuffs make a difference in an environment like this?