The End of An Exceptional Work, A Insight into Hugo Slim’s Killing Civilians Chapter 7

By far throughout Slim’s work there is no strong points in his pro-civilian argument than those made by the end of Killing Civilians. Most of his work focused powerfully on the suffering of civilians followed by the anti-civilian ideology that supports such suffering and the work finally concludes with the pro-civilian ideology that inspires humanitarianism and altruism in those who fight against the crimes of war. this progression from anti- ideology to pro- ideology once again pays homage to Slim’s repeated use of “spectrum analysis” as I have come to call it to describe each to varying degrees and of course their implementation within the society. However; as one reads in between the lines of both ideologies and their differing degrees of recognition of the civilian status one can tell which ideology will most often prevail despite Slim’s arguments of “Changing Minds”. The anti-civilian argument directly coincides with the darkest and most easily influenced consciousness of humans in times of war. And thus will become more rampant and widespread an idea that once implemented will take root inside a population creating a shroud that prevents them from recognizing or at least “tolerating”, as Slim aptly coins it, the non-combatant or humanity of a particular “enemy” population. This of course subsequently leads to a list of atrocities that have been seen time and time again in human history. One aspect of this I found particularly interesting was that both the pro- and anti- ideologies both follow a relatively similar progression through Howard Gardner’s theory revolving around several “re-” methods by which a ideology is accepted by a population and then becomes deeply rooted throughout Howard’s levels of  mind change. Yet one can also see a particular difficulty in countering the anti- ideology with a mirror pro- as the anti- (as I previously mentioned) is a much more faster pace and easily (although not usually factually) supported idea which leads me to recognize the sad reality regarding Slim’s first method of promoting pro-civilian ideology: most of the time it usually be far to late to prevent its spread despite the “tell-tale” signs of anti-civilian development. Despite this reality however; Slim’s points for indoctrinating pro-civilian ideology seem to me as very ambitious but attainable ends in convincing populations. He words the tolerance of the civilian status in such a way that it recognizes the inevitability of war and its affects on populations with anti-civilian ideology but works around that barrier to effectively persuade the opposite idea. In his points regarding the argument for pro- ideology he emphasizes the deepest respect any average human being possess and that is the idea of the preciousness of human life. The phrase he brings up “Thou Shalt not Kill” tho simple in meaning truly outlines one of humanities deepest rooted sentiments that keeps us from slaughtering one another. And thus I feel Slim accurately framed the following pro- arguments around this idea as to really dig past the outer and most influential layer of human consciousness and drive a “line” as it were to the deepest and simplest level of human sympathy in order to call for a defense of one’s own fellow man. Slim however does not in anyway suggest that the changing of a deeply embedded ideology can be changed with any slight of ease. Slim’s argument for pro-civilian protection is one that seems rather optimistic in a sense and somewhat hopeful although personally I feel these ideas are necessary but will see no wide scale implementation any time soon. This is mostly due to my own views on human nature which would be described as less than compassionate to the human capacity toward good. That is not to say however that I do not believe it entirely impossible because history tells me that such instances have occurred where a population will indeed come to recognize the humanity of there enemies and provide a stable ground between them. These small instance give me the sentiment to have at least a small belief in human benevolence and that one day, possibly through one of the psychological means suggested by Slim’s analysis of Gardener, an entire population may be able to “self-correct” itself and prevent anti-civilian ideologies to consume and change them for the worst.

Reflection of Hugo Slim’s Killing Civilians (Killing Civs.) Chapters 2-6

After reading these chapters of Killing Civs. I found myself perplexed by the amount of complexity surrounding the circumstances of civilians during war. Its hard to look past the supposed “glamour” of war and truly into the eyes of those who suffer in it’s wake. Slims categorization of this suffering into seven spheres (Seven Spheres Civilian Suffering pg.39) put the numerous aspects of the civilian component of conflict into a thorough and organized delivery that although well defined each sphere of suffering as it pertains to the different phases of civilian involvement (pre- and or post- war) always seemed to leave room from Slims own person experiences/emotional input. The section I found to be truly explicitly in its explanation of the first sphere in chapter 2 (if not uncomfortably so) was the portion dedicated to rape and sexual assault.  This section quite straightforwardly labels rape as a “policy” (pg. 61) of war and typically is portrayed as a “public spectacle” (pg 63). Slim quite often refers to the Rape of Nanking incident as a prime historical example of a mass systematic rape as the Japanese ravaged the bodies of hundreds of thousands of women as a means of demoralizing and subjugating the population. The extent of detail provided by Slim regarding the systematic nature of the crimes left me no less then a bit shocked. In almost all of my studies of world history never once had I heard that Nanking was in fact such a deliberate and sinisterly well organized attack upon the Chinese populace specifically targeting women spanning ages 12-81 (disgusting to say the least). One such example that truly captured my attention was the method of capture by which the Japanese who spread rumors of free rice or a rice market “under the radar” in order to attract women to be captured and then of course raped. Slims numerous examples for each sphere and underlying details prove to be specific and explicit in nature but however only server to continuously reiterate previously points when prior examples served the purpose just as well. Also Slim will tend to quite often and clearly shift from his prospect on a given aspect of civilian agonies and then proceed to give his barrage of case studies which adequately serve to support his claims but at times seems torrential and unnecessary.  That is not to say that the recognition of this pattern did not assist in the reading of this book in an orderly manner. Chapters 3-5 proved to be the most “meaty” chapters as the greatest amount of Slim’s points were concentrated here with his expansions upon the various other spheres of suffering as well as the “anti-civilian” ideologies. Within these sections I almost immediately began to recognize several aspects of Slim not as a writer but a person. First and seemingly most obvious to me is his use of spectrums as a tool of categorization. For example; On page 121 Slim begins to enter the explanations for anti-civilian ideology with the spread of this ideology as it pertains to the individuals/groups who support it to a degree (pg. 121, genocidal logic–>political necessity—>Regretful sense of tragic inevitability) . This classification by spectrum despite Slim’s repetition of it actually proves to be a exceptionally clear tool at least to myself for understanding the logic/explanation of these crimes against civilians or the people behind them. Making it very clearly that the lines between intent and the nature of the crime are hazy at best and can never be truly one way or another. Slim, despite his uses of spectrum like classification, never truly accepts the idea of coincidence when considering whether a hardship of the civilian population was brought about with intent or by sheer cause and effect. He blatantly refutes the idea that civilian suffering pre- or post- conflict is without the intent of at least one faction involved. Thus he describes things like mass civilian migration, rape and other physical crimes, and any forms of suffering thereafter as orchestrated as not byproducts of war but rather “goals” or “polices” of warring factions upon the enemy civilian population. The ideas and explanations brought about in these chapter weren’t particularly new to me as I’ve been familiarized with the capacity of human suffering for quite some time (both personally and educationally). However; Slim works to put the my prior views of civilian and human suffering into a more observational and quantitative perspective. His outlining of “suffering” alone seeks to put aside the qualitative aspect involved with the word alone to the test and asks that you as a reader step back for a moment as to stare in to the abyss of human suffering if not simply for the sake of the civilian and militaristic parts of the human population as a base line distinction.  I would most definitely recommend this book to a colleague or family member as there is many old misunderstandings and myths that Slim puts to rest quite brashly (never leaving out his own personal component). In particular; one section of Slim’s analyses that I found to be quite appealing to my profession as a microbiologist was the part on disease in regards to its spread in times of invasion. Whether that spread was seemingly unintentional (Americas initial inoculation) or deliberate (General Amherst , pg. 102)  the spread of disease as a means of warfare has always been a sensitive topic personally. If that wasn’t enough of an example, Slim then goes on to point out the evidence behind the weponization of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) by more industrialized nations (which to be honest I had NO idea of). The misuse of science (specifically to take the lives of millions of humans) is a course of action I have always fervently despised and refuted as a means of warfare. With that said, these chapters of Slims work are nothing short of a clear and organized analysis of the civilian suffering of war. A solid 8 out of 10 as  a work.

Rape Of Nanking Rape Of Nanking 2 Rape Of Nanking 3

Impressions of “Memory of Solferino” by Dunant

William Rodriguez

Who is right in war and conflict? How many must suffer before help arrives? Does brutality truly exist in war or is it as many characterize it “a necessary evil”? Questions such as these do not stray from thought when reading the exceptionally profound account of the Battle of Solferino by Henry Dunant. Whether it were the civilians who fell prey to the aggressors of war or the mighty generals of both France and Austria that suffered at the hands of either faction, Dunant’s graphic account of the atrocities of the conflict do not fail to paint a rather implicit but rather mundane portrait. Several times while reading the account I took one to three times to at least attempt to re-image the deaths of many of the soldiers/generals illustrated in the account only to find that such images fall short of true impression. War has almost always been visualized with with such as “atrocious”, “unbearable”, “undesirable”, and “horrifying”. However I found in Dunant’s account a much more broader interpretation of such words while in the midst of grave combat. From the tiniest details such as the thirst of the soldiers to the graphic charger of hundreds of men upon one another resulting in droves of corpse with almost no attendance. The amputation of limbs, crushing of skulls, and the outright execution of able bodied humans. Small things such as the feasting of human corpses by animals may seem superfluous to most but even the smallest detail serve purpose in his works overall effects. Dunant, however lacking in emphasis or rather recognizable emotional input, puts a first person/primary account spin upon the “old story” of the massacre of wounded troops which has been exceedingly recurrent but evidently only recognized after Dunant’s account (which still continues to really surprise me). And that is one of the most irritating points in regards to the history of Dunant’s  account in that I fail to see why with the numerous accounts of the atrocities of war crimes against wounded soldiers/civilians why Dunant’s is to fervently recognized by the European and subsequently the world community. Accounts ranging from the early extent of imperialism by Europe to the savagery of early battles of WWI are considerably more extensive in some case (some more than others) and in my opinion may have served to better portray the plight of soldiers and the need for relief efforts. Regardless, Dunant’s work best recognizes the undermanned, under trained,  and horribly ill supplied member of a somewhat pathetic humanitarian effort put forth during and following battle.  This is by far the most obvious and powerful portion of his work (which was toward the end following an excessive amount of what may be considered slightly unnecessary detail) and is the most outright message I received from Dunant. His life’s work as well as his role in the creation of the Red Cross is something that is truly impressionable about the man and speaks to a true humanitarian nature that he lives for. Works such as his (however mundane) speak to me as sole testaments to the plight of those voices of the past that can never speak again.