Chapter Seven

The last chapter of this book was lackluster. Maybe because I was reading it in the middle of the night after I had finished all of my other homework. Slim discussed the ways pro-civilian ideologies can counter anti-civilian ideologies by referencing a book by Harvard psychologist, Howard Gardner, who coined seven hindrances and/or aids to mind-changing (Slim 254):

  1. Reason
  2. Research
  3. Resonance
  4. Representational Redescription
  5. Resources and rewards
  6. Real-world events
  7. Resistance

Now, for one thing, I wished he had organized his explanations of these factors according to the order he maintained in that section of the text, but all that aside, I was baffled by his ease in listing all of the examples and instances in which people’s hearts and minds could be changed but his evasion of the methods in which anti-civilian combatants are able to listen to and observe the actions that are associated with this plan. Reading this I felt as though I was in high school guidance lesson, where every problem could be solved by the simple word of “no” or “let’s go to the sanitarium” and the person would willingly follow along, without any questions. Maybe he failed to realize that part of this book’s audience is unfamiliar with the various mechanisms that super-national organizations, if not national organizations, maintain at their disposal, or maybe he was trying to conceal the fact that he was unsure of how it would work in totality. Either way, that addition was sorely needed.

One point on which I disagreed with Slim was when he discusses toleration of an enemy population in the face of hateful feelings towards that population. I felt as though he was implying that hateful ideology could be tolerated. And though he often mentions a soldier spitting on the enemy population as a sign of restraint, different sectors of the enemy population could accept that as a sign of mercy or a sign of affront, especially if it is done one too many times, someone in the enemy population eventually is going to blow a fuse and maybe spit back at him, or worse. How would a combatant, who already maintains a hateful animosity towards the enemy population going to respond?

Finally, I thought that his proposal of installing a powerful twenty percent of the population as tipping points was also unrealistic and failed to recognize the counter forces that these counter forces will have to face, especially within anarchist insurgent groups who might view these tipping points, who include priests, government and opposition leaders and community leaders, may be seen as government mouthpieces and thus traitors. In closing, I was very disappointed with this ending because for all of his talk about rejecting generalizations of civilians and simplification of war, he simplifies his solutions for installing the practice of limited warfare. In my view, this serves as a reflection of laziness and idealism that is disappointing for such an overall informative and insightful work.

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