WAR WITHOUT WEAPONS: Non-Violence in National Defence by Anders & Andrew Mack Boserup

WAR WITHOUT WEAPONS: Non-Violence in National Defence

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At intervals this intricate, academic study of possibilities for non-violent civilian resistance to military occupation manages to document its own silliness. The authors concede at the end that their tacit paradigm, ""the problem of defending. . . Western Europe against hostile Soviet designs,"" is ""somewhat parochial, and perhaps even unreal."" And they also identify the need to specify the purposes of the ""enemy"" assault, though most of the text addresses the question in the most ad hoc fashion. A lot of space is devoted to case studies, especially failures of ""non-violent civilian resistance"" like the 1923 French move into the Ruhr or the Czechoslovak events of 1968--since the authors can hardly find a successful example. The authors observe that the threat of a united, militant population can forestall an opponent--but that is a political question, not a technical tactic. Second, the book evades the genuine possibilities of mixing armed defense with non-violent resistance, just as it bypasses urgent and poignant cases like the decimation of Chile and the possibility of NATO occupation of Portugal. Moreover, the authors seem naive to insist that an invader (or domestic force) would hesitate to starve a population for fear of mass resistance. What about the literature by Brigadier Frank Kitson and other Anglo-American counterinsurgents detailing how to drive people into desperate submission precisely by food control? Similarly, Boserup and Mack are right to identify the enemy's difficulty in carrying on advanced industrial production through crude coercion; but, for example in post-World War II occupied Germany, the Allies used precisely the starvation threat to exact high production and docility. The author's scenarios are obsolete because aggressors have much more refined techniques than they admit. In any case, both the secnarios and the aggressors should be made obsolete.

Pub Date: May 12th, 1975
Publisher: Schocken