What follows is a list of things people in power have chosen to use tanks to do that they should not have; this list is by no means exhaustive so let me know if you know of some good examples. Many of the examples below relate to the use of Tanks, which are a weapon of war, in civilian contexts.
During 1956 the Soviet Union violently put down a populist revolution in Hungary; the heavy handed use of force stunned the world and was best epitomized by pictures of Soviet tanks in Budapest.
Taking a cue from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, who successfully used a tank in a publicity photo; Michael Dukakis, the 1988 presidential nominee for the Democratic party posed with a tank in an effort to bolster his image. The efforts of Dukakis, who had served in the United States Army, backfired; with his rival successfully using the photo-op to ridicule him.
During the 1989 protest in Tiananmen Square, the Chinese military for some reason felt compelled to send in tanks to help clear the protesters; what followed was an iconic moment in 20th century politics as a single man frustrated the movement of a column of Chinese tanks sent in ironically to intimidate him and others.
During February and April of 1993, what has become known as the Branch Davidian Massacre occurred. During this event no less than four ATF agents and 80 followers of David Koresh(Vernon Howell) would perish (“Branch Davidian Massacre Site”). There have been many criticisms of the events that unfolded; the use of heavy weapons was one. The list of military equipment used at Waco included: nine Bradley fighting vehicles, five combat-engineer vehicles, one tank-retrieval vehicle and two M1A1 Abrams tanks (O’Meara).
On new years eve, 1994, Russian forces attempted to retake Chechnya with an assault on the city of Grozny; they did this with a force largely comprised of AFVs and little infantry support. The resulting debacle left 105 of 120 tanks knocked out and many Russian soldiers dead.
1. Grau, Lester. “CHANGING RUSSIAN URBAN TACTICS: THE AFTERMATH OF THE BATTLE FOR GROZNY.” INSS Strategic Forum. Foreign Military Studies Office, n.d. Web. 6 May 2013. <http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/grozny.htm>.
2. “This Day In History Nov 4, 1956: Soviets put brutal end to Hungarian revolution.” History. A&E Television Networks, LLC. Web. 6 May 2013. <http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/soviets-put-brutal-end-to-hungarian-revolution>.
3. “Michael Dukakis.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 8 May 2013. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Dukakis>.
4. “Branch Davidian Massacre Site.” Roadsideamerica.com. N.p.. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11910>.
5. O’Meara, Kelly . “CLARK TANKS USED IN WACO SIEGE.” WND. N.p., 16 Oct 2003. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.wnd.com/2003/10/21282/>.