I’m looking at notes I took about how to process a book and I’m just going to do some kind of fill-in-the-blank shit here: Author: Ronald Grigor Suny (still alive, I take it) (his birthday is soon) (he’ll turn 77) and he went to some…
(Because apparently information about the author is important and I’m not about to take handwritten notes on this guy) “father of the red cross” super ambitious guy Dunant’s big ideas: societies of trained volunteers should be organized in all countries for the purpose of helping…
Author: death date, background, education (what kind of school are they from? Schools of thought, intellectual/legal schools; someone educated at Oxford will be different than someone educated in Moscow) gender, origin, past experiences, their mentor
Table of Contents: headers
Setting: publication date and place; setting- You always want to know the date and place of publication
Look for popularity; reviews, multiple editions, repeated publication information
Names (important figures)
Italics and bolds
THE FIRST THING: look at the table of contents: is it a translation? who published it? (university, corporate, garage) how many editions have there been?
THEN: find the biography of the author; look at the preface and then look at the INTRODUCTION (because the introduction kind of summarizes the book in one chapter)
AND THEN: Skim! Read the first two pages and the last page of every chapter (but not if you’re doing some kind of intensive research on the book)
Look for book reviews! You don’t have to trust the opinion of the reviewer but they always have to tell you what’s int he book- it’s a summary
Google the author! What else have they written? Biography online?
Most people died from war, not in war. Mostly, people die from famine and disease but we’re most familiar with the killing and violence itself rather than the (not necessarily) inadvertent effects of war. Raphael Lemkin (very important dude) is the guy that coined the term…
Chapter 4: Anti-Civilian Ideologies The term “genocidal thinking” was kind of a big thing in this chapter as well. It’s just arguments that sound genocidal; arguments and thoughts that might “lead you down a genocidal road”. There are ways to look out for these kinds…
Part 2: Seven Spheres of Civilian Suffering
Chapter 2: Killing, Injury, and Rape
This is going to be a doozy. In December 1998, war broke out in the Republic of Congo. This war is “a typical and largely unreported contemporary war” (37) which just makes me sad. (the fact that lots of contemporary war, or war at all, goes unreported and unrecognized.)
Some fun statistics:
- 65 percent of families interviewed “said that they had been attacked by rebel militia when they were fleeing and then again by government militia when they were returning”
- 57 percent “told how they were held against their will by the Ninja militia who used them as cover, or human shields, by moving and camping with them in order to deter and confuse government troops
- 48 percent said that “at least one member of their family had died during this time”- MSF calculated that 34 percent of deaths were children under 5 years old
- 56 percent “had died of malnutrition, while 31 percent died from disease and other causes”
- 13 percent of people met violent deaths
Rape horrifies me. I don’t know anyone to whom it’s not horrifying, but I just thought I’d say it. There are more statistics in here that I’m not going to cite because I feel like I’m cheating by using so much verbatim in my post, but there was a lot of rape, fam.
Here I’ll try and condense the “Seven spheres of civilian suffering”:
- direct, personal violence (killing, wounding, torturing)
- sexual violence, rape, and sexual exploitation
- spatial suffering from forced and restricted movement
- impoverishment arising from crises in the first three
- famine and disease as a result of impoverishment and destitution
- emotional suffering as a result of all of the above
- post-war suffering
Not all people affected by war were killed in war. I know that’s kind of an obvious statement because not everyone that served was killed (Veteran’s Day) but there’s some significant emotional and psychological damage that most of us can’t even begin to comprehend. Thankfully.
Genocide and Mass Killing
Here’s another point that sticks out to me: “In many wars, a critical part of a broader political war aim has often been the intention to eradicate a people or reduce them to such a degree that the will never again post a significant threat” (41). I guess that’s a legit concern, wanting to take someone out just enough that you don’t have to worry about them again. I just want everyone to get along. The whole idea that person A has to take person B out just so A doesn’t have to worry about B anymore makes me sad. I just want A and B to communicate and be friends forever. (I posted my location on the political compass on my regular blog. Check out how aggressively progressive I am!)
Here’s a point I should probably make before I get too out of control. Here’s a quote to briefly preface: “Genocide, with its determination to exterminate completely, is relatively rare in human history. Massacre is not. Killing civilians en masse has always been a part of war without the necessary intention of exterminating a race or class” (46). I think that before this post I’ve used massacre, mass murder, genocide, and killing all interchangeably. I’ll do my best to stop doing that.
Massacre has often been used:
- to “select out and kill particular categories of people within a civilian population” (particularly men) (51).
- “as a means of political purging in wars” (52).
Also, I’m about to list off in bullet-form very large numbers that all point to a certain number of casualties- killed or wounded. I’m not going to describe exactly what they’re associated with because shit, I don’t have that kind of time. I just feel like I need to recognize in some way all of these people that died just because humans are really shitty.
- 1.5 million
- 1.1 million
Goddamn, that’s a shitload of people.
Something that’s comforting (I’m sad that this is comforting) is this quote on page 58: “If civilians have always been, and continue to be, intentionally exterminated or massacred they have also always been caught in the cross-fire. As the fight has closed in around them they have often become its victims even if this was not the intention of one or both of the armed forces concerned.” That’s good, I guess. Not all civilians are intentionally harmed. Oh, but here’s a sad (and totally real) thing: “Civilian suffering in violent attacks should not be stereotyped as death alone. Wounding and life-long injuries often outnumber civilian deaths” (59). So, like I said before (however painfully obvious) not all people affected by war were killed in war.
Oh good, another fun fact: “Torture is also a consistent part of civilian suffering” (59). Honestly, I just feel like torture is so fucking unnecessary. I mean, yeah, one could argue that torture is the only way to get information out of terrorists or some bullshit like that but I’m a big advocate of human rights and, fuck, there just has to be a better way. I mean, look at me, criticizing people for doing shitty things and having absolutely no alternative except to “just be friends” but that’s just where I am right now.
Rape and Sexual Violence
I’m really tired so I’m not going to try and quote something and then reflect on it (Jesus Christ, I still have so much to do) but basically there’s a lot of rape and it’s a really common thing and it has been for a long long time: “an ancient and customary evil” (60). This St. Augustine guy is urging all of these women that have been violated in a way that so many of us could never understand to “feel no shame,” and “encouraging them instead to cherish the purity of their souls over the violence so cruelly visited upon their bodies by others and through no fault of their own,” (61) which at first made me really mad because honestly, who the hell is he to tell them what not to feel? But then there’s this quote: “Augustine’s words of comfort may be typically rigorous and philosophical, but behind them we can sense the desperate feelings of the women whom he is trying to reassure and prevent from killing themselves”. I’m trying my best here to use what my 12th grade English teacher taught us about Claim, Evidence, Warrant, but all I have is evidence and some loose opinions. Please forgive me, Mrs. Henly. I miss your guidance.
“Rape and sexual violence are not a feature of every war,” (61) which is nice, I guess. However,
- Rape is often policy in war
- Similar ethnic policies and slogans have driven systematic rape in many other wars where it was intended to overlay one people’s identity with another
- Rape is also used as an explicit terror tactic to clear an area and make people flee
- More casually, rape can be permitted explicitly or implicitly as part of the booty, rewards, or pleasures of war in many military cultures
- Rape is typically very public in war
- Either way, because of such deliberate policies and an ease of opportunity, rape can fast become a strategy, a habit and a norm in war (wtf)
Some lady named Charlotte Lindsay “has pointed out that the principle of spectacle is central to rape as a method of war. Involuntary ‘spectators’ like husbands, children and community members are usually forced to watch the gang rape or sexual torture of their loved ones and neighbors. The purpose of such spectacles is to dishonour, humiliate and terrorize (I’m angry right now because why isn’t Slim using the oxford comma? Isn’t that horrible? That I’m talking about rape and I’m angered by the lack of oxford commas? Am I already desensitized?) by showing the absolute power of the enemy to invade and dominate even the most intimate of spaces. This can be used to make people flee or to subjugate them into a sense of utter powerlessness in the face of an absolute conqueror. And, of course, it can also work to mobilize a determination for resistance and vengeance” (63).
Also, rape isn’t just physical and psychological and it’s not confined to the immediate victim, which sucks ass. I have a lot more to write and I’m getting sad so I’m going to skip the rest of this chapter like any good student would.
Chapter 3: Movement, Impoverishment, Famine, Disease and Distress
So, apparently, these patterns of suffering (mentioned in the title of the chapter) typically kill more civilians than weapons-based violence. Like my website title says, it’s lit.
Movement and Space
I didn’t really think, earlier, that this was such a big deal. And I guess I still don’t think it’s on the same level as straight-up murder or sexual violence but “people’s ability to move freely is inevitably or deliberately restricted, or horrifically and drastically extended by flight and exile” which sucks.
Oh, here’s a good quote that seems to cover a lot: “Flight can mean survival but, very often, flight is also the first step on a fast and slippery slope towards separation, impoverishment, destitution, exploitation and disease” (AGAIN with the oxford comma) (74). And another: “Forced population transfer does not always aim to kill and destroy. Sometimes it aims merely to weaken and contain” (77). I’ll quote again: “In all these different experiences of relocation and spatial suffering, Civilian populations have moved with varying degrees of force, voluntarism and choice” (85). “These different experiences” is referring to all of the examples before that quote that I conveniently didn’t include.
I might come back to all of these posts later when I have more time, but right now I don’t so I’m just blazing through all of these chapters. Forgive me, readers. I know you’re out there. This chapter goes on forever, my God. Now we’re talking about slave labour, which is cool.
The fourth sphere of civilian suffering! We’ve made, it, friends.
Okay, so from what I’ve gathered scanning and absolutely not reading the first few paragraphs, this guy Reginald Green from the 1980’s did some research in war deaths in sub-Saharan Africa and concluded that in Africa’s wars “lack of food and of medical services, combine with the physical stress of flight, kill about twenty times as many human beings as do bombs, bullets, and cold steel” which reveals this: “most people die from war rather than in battle” (91). Wow, Slim. That’s deep.
Livelihoods Approach (just some wisdom to have for the future): it’s usually a loss of livelihood rather than a bullet that kills people in war
There’s 100% way more to this chapter than I’ve typed or am going to type but I’m pretty sure I’m still in chapter 3 and I want to die and it’s 1:15am so we’re going to move on here.
Famine and Disease
- Often the greatest killer of civilians
- Starvation and exhaustion from destitution and flight often kill civilians in very large numbers
- People’s access to effective healthcare is often greatly reduced in war
- This is interesting: “If disease can be carried and accelerated within a civilian population by the destitution and impoverishment of war, it can also be carried directly to civilians by warring parties themselves” (101). I guess I never really thought about it too hard but we learned in middle school that Christopher Columbus (my main man who murdered and raped and destroyed a bunch of people and a culture, great guy overall 10/10 would recommend) and all of his little explorer friends came over and did kill a bunch of people in cold blood but also brought over diseases that Native Americans just weren’t prepared for which killed a bunch of them in not-cold-blood. Fun stuff.
- Oh, but here on page 102 (I should have read ahead) Slim says “while the extraordinary disease power of the conquistadores was inadvertent, spreading disease can also be a deliberate method of war” so there goes that. Germ warfare exists and all is right in the world.
- Jesus Christ, Chapter 3 is long.
- I’ve heard the term “scorched earth policy” in other history classes (I didn’t pay any kind of attention) and apparently that means “torching people’s crops, grazing lands, stores and homesteads so that they starve and move” which is great
I definitely didn’t think about this before, and it’s interesting: “Indignity is a particular source of pain. The indignity of being dressed in rags, unwashed and dependent on others is powerfully felt. Sometimes enemy actions are deliberate attacks upon the dignity of a group” (111). I think I’d be incredibly affected by indignity- relying on people or even giving people any kind of power over me – not necessarily in a submissive way, like, “here, control my food intake or the clothes I wear” but even just “help me sweep the room” or “how do you complete this math problem” – is really difficult. That level of dependence and also the constant awareness of that level of dependence would really fuck me up.
Also, here Slim is talking about fear and uncertainty which I can relate to. I mean, the “fear of going about [their] daily lives in such a violent and volatile environment” (112) isn’t even close to the same thing as not knowing what’s for dinner, for example, or being stressed about the outcome of an exam, but those little things stress me out and I don’t even want to think about how I would handle that higher level of “emotional suffering.”
I’ve never had to handle “the stress of survival itself,” thank God; “first during the struggle to survive during the war and then, thereafter, in the long challenge of living the rest of one’s life as a survivor” (114). I’m going to have nightmares tonight, y’all.
It seems this is the seventh and final (main) form of civilian suffering, and I’m so glad. That sounds bad but, guys, it’s late. I’m ready for sleep. (I feel like a horrible person saying that because here I am reading about genocide and murder and suffering and I’m just thinking about my warm, comfortable bed. Mmmm, and a hot shower. That sounds nice. Anyway, “emotionally, the suffering of war can obviously continue for the rest of a person’s life to some degree” (115). Retweet, Slim. Retweet.
- Low self-esteem
- Desire to hurt
- Long-term opportunity costs
- Low social opportunities and employment prospects
- Relative anarchy of many societies immediately after war
Now, here, at the end of part 2 and chapter 3, Slim leaves us with this: “This part of the book has looked at the many ways in which civilians suffer and examined how much of this suffering is a deliberate part of the strategy or cruelty of war. It is intentional. The next three chapters of the book examine the various reasons and ideologies which justify and encourage the killing and suffering of civilians. If Part Two of the book has looked at how civilian suffering happens, Part Three analyses why it happens” (119).
I think I’m going to make Chapters 4-6 a separate post, even though it’s part of the same assignment. It’ll be a new day and a new Deborah, so I think it deserves a new post. Get excited, y’all. Tomorrow (later today, in a desperate work effort before class) I’ll write all about how fucked up people are (and why they want people to suffer).
- Why is rape so common in war? Is it just because it’s an option and it’s degrading? Something else? (I answered this question myself after I actually did the reading, LOL)
- Why (and how) is movement and space on the same level as killing and rape and stuff? I get that it’s bad and it sucks but I feel like moving/displacement is relatively tame, comparatively
- How is this whole thing (war and genocide and mass murder in general) so anarchical? Is there no real higher power here trying to keep things in control and balance power?
Sometimes I use humor when I get sad or uncomfortable. I’m fully aware that genocide and mass murder and killing people isn’t funny or something to be sarcastic about but as I’m writing I’m realizing that I’m saying “cool” and “great” and “lol” a lot…
Notes from September 5, 2017 SHERMAN: only famous in the US; make war so terrible that they’ll never do it again; you can attack civilians in situations of military necessity/when necessary; Limited war isn’t really popular because it’s easier to write laws than it is…
“Even during periods of peace, the threat of war or the ostensible need to prepare for war can instigate genocidal situations. War is not a necessary precondition for genocide, and genocide does not necessarily occur during war. Still, genocide is most often associated with wartime intentions, politics, and actions” (16).
“Civilian casualties are heavy, and women, children, and the elderly are intimately involved” (16).
– followed three templates:
1. the target people with the choice of either submitting to the Mongol overlordship or facing complete destruction; “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must” (Thucydides)
2. faced those political entities, many in China and India, that decided to resist subjugation by military means
3. “total elimination” (can be considered genocide, though “it is important to reiterate tat the Mongols did not attack groups because they hated or resented their religions or ethnicities. In this template, whole communities sometimes faced elimination at the hands of the mongols because of a perceived slight or transgression”). [I can’t decide if this is better or worse; is it better to target people because of who they are as a population or because they maybe did something to offend you? Are we able to make that decision? I want to lean towards the opinion that says it’s better to want to kill a population because it’s seen as some form of retaliation, but really I don’t think there’s any reason that an entire culture of people should be murdered.]
– ‘if we totally kill everyone in City A, then if we show up in any of the other cities B, C, D, E they’ll just submit and do what we want out of fear that we’ll do to them what we did to those in City A’ (the terror factor was a big part of Mongol conquering- other cultures’ fear of the Mongols made conquering those other cultures incredibly easy or just unnecessary)
– lots of victim blaming
– there’s one section that questions the purpose of the entirety of the killing and genocide perpetrated by the Mongols, and it suggests that there wasn’t really a whole lot of (if any) moral code that “condemned the killing of political rivals or their opponents”. The Mongols had execution quotas to meet and were so focused on overtaking their rivals that they practiced extermination to the furthest degree, in the sense that “they would return to the site of mass killing and make sure they eliminated any citizens who might have survived”. On one hand, I want to say “go Mongols! That’s real dedication!” because that’s the kind of person I am- giving credit for dedication where it’s due (like twitter user @big_ben_clock who has tweeted “BONG BONG” every hour, on the hour, for three years and counting) but, of course, on the other hand, killing every single person of an entire culture just to kill every single person of an entire culture isn’t exactly on the same level as a crazy twitter user.
I’m not going to talk a whole lot about content here because a) I’m behind and b) I’m quickly running out of time. I have a really hard time talking about the Crusaders because this group of people’s main objective was to kill off people that didn’t have the same religious views as they did with their only justification being something along the lines of “for God” or “because it’s what God told us to do” which honestly is just such bullshit. I don’t believe in God, I don’t think (it’s complicated) but I do believe that if God exists the way that my Presbyterian Pastor parents taught me that God exists, God is a loving, all-seeing being of sorts that doesn’t validate and certainly doesn’t encourage mass murder.
I’ll quote this, really quick: “The idea of ‘holy war’ [which I’ll talk about in some other post because this is also a ton of bull] in the Crusades contained the seeds of genocide. Christian knights were called to destroy a ‘vile and contemptible race’ in the name of the purity of the Catholic Church as deigned by the vicar of Christ on earth, the pope. This powerful ideology blended easily with ambitions of material gain and dreams of wealth, propelling a generation of knights an retainers to undertake dangerous missions… blah blah blah”. Anyway, maybe ‘God told them to’ or the Crusades were ‘for Christ’ but like Naimark so eloquently put it, there were ulterior motives that may have actually been the real motive all along.
- Another kind of open-ended question that isn’t specifically about this reading, I guess: why are women and children typically treated differently than men?
- Master Roger (quote on Page 23): “They perpetrated such crimes to the women that it is better to keep silent lest people get ideas for most evil deeds;” would talking about these crimes really give people ideas? Is that realistic?
- Why do “some commentators” find it difficult to classify the Mongol killing as genocide?