The final chapter of Killing Civilians was by far the most difficult chapter for me to get through. There were a lot of points that had been discussed earlier in the book and I felt that elaborating on them with great detail for a second time was unnecessary. Overall, the book was very profound and got me to think deeply about the role that civilians play in war, the thought processes of those who target them, and the many complexities involved in their protection and in their murder. This chapter was one that applies more to regular people because it offers great advice on how to limit anti-civilian thinking. One idea that Slim brought up that I thought was very important was that in order to change someone’s point of view regarding civilian protection is to first understand where they are coming from and to be prepared to counter their arguments with emotion and reason.
The most profound point made in this entire book, for me, was found in this chapter; Slim pointed out that no one gets to choose their life, identity, and circumstance. Therefore, no one should be targeted for being in a position that they cannot control. This chapter got very philosophical, which was hard for me to read at first. Yet, even at the very end of this book, the author was providing new ideas to think about that altered my mindset. I had never thought that the same way in which a person becomes trained to kill without feeling remorse uses the same tactics as getting someone to think the opposite. Emotion is the best tool to use. Most of this chapter was just retouching on previous points and tying them together, so I was not as affected by this chapter as I was by previous parts in the book. Slim was able to bring everything full circle and to cover every possible subject regarding the killing of civilians, which was impressive in itself.
1. The author noted that using law to argue against anti-civilian ideology does not harbor discussion. In what instances would it be important to include humanitarian law?
2. Would the threat of punishment ever be effective in keeping non-state extremist groups from killing civilians?
3. How can empathy be encouraged between two sides of a conflict in which there are two opposite moral codes?