Welcome Kathleen Barry, and Host Deborah Emin.

Unmaking War, Remaking Men: How Empathy Can Reshape Our Politics, Ours Soldiers and Ourselves

Host, Deborah Emin:

Kathleen Barry, Professor Emerita of Penn State University, has a new book that diagnoses the ways in which male domination of and violence against women has been used to excite men into fighting the permanent wars the US has been engaged in. In addition to her keen observations of what it is that takes men to war, she understands how to create an environment where that type of behavior can be “cured.” The cure is empathy.

Having spent a good deal of her professional life advocating for women’s rights especially as they are needed in the sex trade industry, she is keenly observant and aware of what it is that demeans women–how women’s inequality denies them basic human rights.

In this new book, Barry turns her attention as a sociologist to the plight of men trapped in a system which creates and maintains what she calls “core masculinity.” This concept of core masculinity can be summarized this way (and of course I expect that Kathleen will answer questions about it in our chat) that men are trained to take on the role of protector of women and to dominate them from this position.

In this role, they are then more attuned to the call of the military and its need for them to sacrifice their lives to its needs. So, while war, as a furtherance of the goals of men who actively seek more power and domination, is fought by men, it is also the engine that consumes them, that takes their lives. What Barry calls “expendable lives.”

Working within this framework of what causes men to go to war, how their training and the fact of their being expendable causes them to feel humiliated, she arrived at and re-creates for the reader, an understanding of what the cure can be for this war mongering–empathy.

As she spent hours upon hours listening to men and women talk about war experiences, she found that common place where she could understand what it is like to be in those battle situations. While many of the men she interviewed were suspicious of that ability to really know what it was they had lived through, Barry proved how valuable a tool empathy can be.

It is this willingness to connect and to work through the barriers to that interconnectivity that gave her the insights that she describes in this new book. While the time it takes to absorb and feel what these men felt is enormous, her accounts of this work lead the reader to see how important it is for us all to do the same. More than important, it is necessary.

While it may be true that many in this country demonize the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq, among the many places we are currently at war, to do so harms everyone. It harms those who fight, those who are living there, it harms those of us here at home who lose out on a connection to the men and women who have been damaged by these wars. it robs us all of the connections we need to remind us that war isn’t the answer to the problems we face in getting along.

While this last statement may seem simplistic, I believe it follows from what Barry shows us of the ways in which world leaders can be dangerously addicted to the power of their offices. Her descriptions of the various psychopathologies that world leaders, from George W. Bush, to Ariel Sharon to Osama bin Laden, have displayed in their efforts to dominate through violence make it seem even more important to learn others means to end war. Violence leads to the diminution of the value of human life. The cure for this destructive force is for us all, but particularly the men who are drawn to the life of the soldier, to learn how to empathize with those they choose to dominate.

Having found themselves in similar situations to the kinds of humiliation and despair that women who are abused experience, Barry sets forth the very real proposition that by learning empathy, men can be remade into less violent humans and can thus repair what their aggression has done not just to them but to the women and children in their lives.

I truly look forward to exploring further the ideas in Barry’s book and look forward to what the audience for this book salon have to say as well.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

145 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Kathleen Barry, Unmaking War, Remaking Men: How Empathy Can Reshape Our Politics, Ours Soldiers and Ourselves”

BevW July 23rd, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Kathy, Deborah, Welcome to the Lake.

Deborah, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

cherwell July 23rd, 2011 at 1:58 pm

bev, kathleen, and deborah — greetings!

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:00 pm
In response to cherwell @ 2

I am so glad to be here with all these great women.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I would like to pose some questions to get us started if that is okay?

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:01 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

Very glad to be here with you. Thank you Deborah for your fine summary of my book and to you Bev for making this book salon possible.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:02 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 4

Please do.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:02 pm

The first isn’t a question but a comment about the ways in which Kathleen showed how she used her listening skills to understand what men in the military experienced. Can Kathleen recap some of that for us to get the talk started?

Elliott July 23rd, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Welcome to the Lake!

As a lover not a fighter, I’m looking forward to the conversation. Interesting premise to be sure.

Elliott July 23rd, 2011 at 2:03 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 3

and men!

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:04 pm
In response to cherwell @ 2

Great to have you onboard Cheri. Your support for this work has been vital to the changes we want to bring about.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:04 pm
In response to Elliott @ 9

of course, my apologies, I was referring to bev and kathleen and Cherie. sorry for that slip.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:06 pm

So returning to that comment I made up front about the listening skills Kathleen brings to her work, the part that gets us to the heart of what she explores in her discussions of empathy . . . can we start there?

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:08 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 7

Empathy is our best bet for understanding something we ourselves have not experienced. That native ability we all have to put ourselves in the place of the other, ask how are they experiencing that, ie combat, and further asking ourselves how we would respond in that similar situation brings us in close to the soldiers’ experiences, makes us look at how they got there, what is expected of them, etc. Empathy is a way of interpreting another’s experience without distancing oneself from it which is how we civilians are expected to react when our country goes to war.

A Peterson July 23rd, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Hello, listening:)

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:10 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 13

And that of course, that distancing of oneself from a soldier’s experience, is part of what makes war possible?

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:11 pm
In response to A Peterson @ 14

Welcome and glad you could join us.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:11 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 13

I’d like to add to this, although it may already be evident, that empathy requires deep listening.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:13 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 17

In the book you describe that process. Can you outline it for us here? I don’t think for many of us it is that obvious.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:15 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 15

Distancing is a huge subject in relation to the masculinity of war – it is 1) central to the socialization of boys to men that goes along with the expectation of violence and aggression, noting of course that not all men accept this socialization, 2) soldiers are trained to be distanced and disconnected from those others they invade and occupy, 3) distancing is required of generals and presidents to send human beings off to war, especially to illegal wars.

RevBev July 23rd, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Is it too far afield to query how this need to dominate along with the need for finding empathy for the victim is also related to the pandemic of family violence? Seems there must be a similarity.

A Peterson July 23rd, 2011 at 2:16 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 17

So, can an uncaring person be turned into an empathetic one? Is that the roadblock?

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:18 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 19

This comment should be read at all presidential debates. It cuts to the core of what happens when we don’t pay attention to this issue.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:19 pm
In response to A Peterson @ 21

Excellent question.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:20 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 18

This is a bit sociological if you don’t mind – the process of listening is central to how we interact with each other which we all do all the time. In interaction we interpret the meaning of what the other is saying or doing. We do that well if we can get as close as possible to what we think she or he means. We do it poorly if we impose our own interpretation (without really truly listening) on their experiences. Take for example the often used term “the soldier’s sacrifice” – it creates a mindset that encourages us to think that sacrificing one’s life is honorable, the highest you can give to your country. If we look into the experience behind the platitude, we can interpret more closely in terms of what is actually happening.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:22 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 24

Thanks so much for that explanation. I think you could take that exercise and teach most of us here how to do it with the examples you gave in the book. It also speaks to the question raised by RevBev re: family violence. Am I correct in that assumption?

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:23 pm
In response to RevBev @ 20

Its not far afield at all. It is the problem. While I was writing Unmaking War, Remaking Men, the stories of combat seemed to have an underlying familiarity to me. I concluded after some research and heartfelt thinking that the masculinity of war is the same as the masculinity of violence against women – in the home or anywhere else. And it is indeed terribly prevalent in the US military.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:25 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 26

Haven’t there been studies that show rape is an element of war?

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:25 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 25

Yes, you are correct. In fact, I am going to be offering workshops starting in the Fall on Unmaking War, From Empathy to Action where I will go through this interaction process and groups will have the experience of identifying how empathy works and can be made to work to challenge our paradigm of war.

RevBev July 23rd, 2011 at 2:27 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 26

Makes sense, of course, and quite scary…esp to realize the impulse to harm, injure, or kill

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:28 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 28

First of all, that is great to learn about these workshops. What a great contribution that will be. I wonder if you will encounter in them people who aren’t capable of feeling for others. For whom will these workshops be offered, our congress people, perhaps? Sorry for the joke but they sure could learn to listen as well.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:29 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 27

Indeed rape is an element of war. It is often an explicit military strategy when taking over an area. But it is also turned against women in the military at a higher rate than in the U.S. The United Nations Resolution 1820 recently enacted forbids rape of civilians in war. That is a good start, but it completely ignores the women closest to men in combat, the female soldiers and the military sexual trauma one in three expereince.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to A Peterson @ 21

An uncaring person certainly can be turned into a caring one unless that person is a confirmed psychopath who has no empathy (we have plenty of examples in national leadership.) But to your point, we see how soldiers are trained to become remorseless killers and then suffer what many of them call “loss of soul” from that. So many struggle to find their way back to who they were before they were brainwashed by the US military and then required to act from that brainwashing.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 31

That is a phenomenal statistic. It seems to me that the other key concepts you characterize in the book, core masculinity and expendable lives, create some kind of conflict and rage, I would imagine, that leads to as much sexual violence as well as the physical carnage.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 30

Deborah we are really on the same page as I was writing that while you were writing this comment.

BevW July 23rd, 2011 at 2:35 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 32

How many do find their way back to where they were before the military? How does PTSD effect this process?

savagecat July 23rd, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I’m here a little late, but interested.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:36 pm

That goes to show, Kathleen, what a great teacher you are and how important the book is. What I find in talking to people about your book is this desire to do something now, to end wars now. That impatience is so heartfelt, isn’t it? But what do you answer to that?

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to savagecat @ 36

Great to have you nonetheless.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 33

Certainly conflict and rage will be there in many who know, even if it is only subconsciously, that they are expected to be expendable for war, that that is a standard of manhood. I think we see there some of the elements of the hatred of women that leads to rape. That is one reason we will not have peace just by ending war, a huge goal in itself, until we as a society turn to remaking masculinity.

RevBev July 23rd, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 32

How do you explain the lack of empathy, for instance, in the violence against women…then writ larger?

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 39

Ah, and there is the concept that is of so much interest, right? What does that really mean?

savagecat July 23rd, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Kathleen – I too absolutely believe that the only solution for us is to develop empathy. Along that line I wonder about using the words “unmaking masculinity” and how men react to that phrase. Based on my husband’s reactions to certain words I’ve used, I can see men immediately shutting down. And I have to ask myself how would I feel if the phrase was “unmaking femininity”. As a feminist, my goal has been to redefine femininity.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:43 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 37

Back to empathy again. We have to feel what the experience is the best we can, when we engage that empathy we are motivated to make immediate change. Some think this is too simplistic or utopian. It is really tough to go to that place (combat) that we have not see or have seen romanticized. Black is South Africa lived in a place of hatred and extreme violence against them, and eventually a lot of the rest of the world came to feel that pain too, boycotted, made demands, until there was global support for what happened next – bringing down the walls of Apartheid by Mandela and the African National Congress. There are so many examples throughout the world of how change can begin with empathy.

ThingsComeUndone July 23rd, 2011 at 2:45 pm

The army recruits young men many of whom are still learning who they are and well trains/brainwashes them into obeying orders then the Media helps by making the enemy less than human which makes it easier to kill people when given an order.
I am not sure what we can do about that since we have immoral leaders who never felt guilt about having to shoot people and regard money/oil/power as more important than lives.
I blame the hand that bulls the trigger not the bullet. I welcome thoughts on another system to get people to fight.
But I fear as long as we have an upper class that does not face combat so they never experience guilt about shooting people giving the orders well they like solders without empathy why would they want to change things?

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to savagecat @ 42

In the title of my book, I refer to Remaking Men, and in the book I show how men are doing that themselves. It is a positive and optimistic approach but it does require that men let go of some of the socialization unfairly imposed on them. I agree we have to be careful with the words we use, but we also must challenge that which is most taken for granted.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:47 pm

It seems we have two threads going on here. One about war and killing and guilt and the other side of that coin, remaking the men who are used to fight these wars.

Lorraine Watkins July 23rd, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Thanks so much for being here and daring to approach the topic head on. Our young men are today so awash in the conflation of manhood with violence, man the destroyer and hardly a mention of man the creator. It serves the purposes of those who benefit from the oppression of others and certainly not the culture and civilization.

I have to say I make a connection with those cultures that openly offered up their best for blood sacrifice after first intoxicating them with potions and heroism. — Are these Christian and Muslim nations any different from the Incas.

Now that I have taken my say. What suggestions do you have as to how we can move the culture to give up defining these victims, our soldiers, as heroes?

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 45

Will some of that “challenging” be a part of your workshops?

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Your point is so very important. It is a huge class issue from the poverty and unemployment that leads young people to enlist just to get some sort of income to the tax free billionaires and corporations. So lets look to countries and models not as imbedded and committed to this inequality as our. I’ve tried to offer some alternatives and different approaches in Unmaking War, Remaking Men beginning with the possibility of global demilitarization and a global peace-making force trained to implement the International Declaration of Human Rights. We have to think big, brainstorm among us and begin to envision a world beyond this class system driving the US now.

RevBev July 23rd, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I wonder how the glorification of the military plays into the power/violence aspect. All the heroism/glory/respect…from the President on down. That honoring seems to be a given & expectation. Seems to me that makes us all “guilty” for glorifying the killing; I have never understood that overarching respect, even from a number of military wives I have known who raved over the life style and all that ranking of the members.

Elliott July 23rd, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Kathleen,

In the book, do you touch on the problem of societies like China, particularity, and India where the number of male babies far outnumber the number of female babies and the implications for us all?

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:53 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 49

Who would you trust/rely on to help move these big thoughts forward? Dennis Kucinich wants the US government to have a department of peace, for example. Is that someone you see able to tackle these issues?

ThingsComeUndone July 23rd, 2011 at 2:54 pm

In addition to her keen observations of what it is that takes men to war, she understands how to create an environment where that type of behavior can be “cured.” The cure is empathy.

If nobody has asked this already please describe this environment that helps create empathy and its success or failure’s aside from troops have you tried this with other groups, criminals, republicans etc.
Do you test people who fail your cure for how they score as a psychopath?

RevBev July 23rd, 2011 at 2:54 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 49

Amen…what a challenge.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:54 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 47

Well that is really a huge part of my book. Change has to take place from how we socialize children to a complete revamping of the US military which has become one of the most dangerous forces in the world, to refusing the presidency to leaders who behave as psychopaths, to honoring instead of imprisoning our soldiers who resist. I tried to nominate Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize for example. We can all engage in redefining this state.

A Peterson July 23rd, 2011 at 2:56 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 32

Yes, I was trained by the Army. Did not go into battle zone, but I know full well how the military works. It is a brainwashing. They first degrade you, make you feel useless without them. It worked on me for about 2-3 months. Basic training is designed to be so hectic, you don’t have any time to question. I became a pain in their ass for the next 21 months or so. Didn’t work on me, but I would still defend our country, my home, friends, etc. should a REAL threat arise.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 2:58 pm
In response to Elliott @ 51

Female infanticide is a huge crisis in these and some other countries that is being addressed by a number of human rights and feminist groups. It is the subject of a book in itself. It of course will not only lead to a more severe condition of male domination than we have already, with socialization of boys for war and its violence and aggression it promises more wars. Perhaps I’ll write an article making that connection. Thank you for bringing it up.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 2:58 pm
In response to A Peterson @ 56

Do you think our military is responding to real threats today?

ThingsComeUndone July 23rd, 2011 at 3:00 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 49

First lets test our ruling class to see how high they rate as psychopaths we can’t change a system the rulers want.
But how do we train an army to kill without damaging their empathy?
We need to reform the media which sells papers, Tv shows on adrenaline, adrenaline sells the more panic, fear anger the more everyone not just psychos think with the reactive lizard brain vs the reasoning brain.
Combat should be lizard but the choice to fight should be rational.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:00 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 57

Please let us know when that article is available. I, for one, would like to read it.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:01 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 48

Oh definately. We must constantly challenge ourselves to know that which is kept from our view especially in relation to violence against women and war AND and the same time know that we will be strengthened and empowered by that consciousness. Too many times people and sometimes especially women fear that kind of knowing will be too painful for them. Conscious of power is the first step to changing it and that as feminists have known for generations can be exhilirating. We’ll get to all of that in the workshops. Watch for announcements on my website: http://www.unmakingwar.net

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:03 pm

it is interesting how we corral all the usual suspects into the ways in which our ideas are formed–the media, government, corporations–but aren’t talking yet about how our own ideas about violence, revenge, sexual aggression have been formed. Is that a valid topic here?

ThingsComeUndone July 23rd, 2011 at 3:04 pm

In this new book, Barry turns her attention as a sociologist to the plight of men trapped in a system which creates and maintains what she calls “core masculinity.” This concept of core masculinity can be summarized this way (and of course I expect that Kathleen will answer questions about it in our chat) that men are trained to take on the role of protector of women and to dominate them from this position.

Nothing wrong with protecting women its over reacting to protecting women thats the problem that and male insecurity among their peer group the wolf pack jockying for social status, insecurity about male identity in a culture that links male identity so much with violence.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 58

To A Peterson – you are an example of the courage to resist that I’ve mentioned earlier. Thank you for your input.

I think the US military is making crises today rather than responding to them. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, mighty military support for Israel’s seiges of Palestine and wars against Lebanon…

Lorraine Watkins July 23rd, 2011 at 3:05 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 55

Perhaps because of my personal upbringing I think emphasizing man as a creator can provide some inoculation against violence. We need to help these young men find the “content” of masculinity. Do you have some thoughts on that? Shamefully, I have not read your book.

(FYI my father was in the arts.. He embarrassed me during my childhood in WW2 by steadfastly, if quietly, refusing to “go kill other men.” I got over it. Of course he was my model for what masculinity is.– Yes I was blessed..)

ThingsComeUndone July 23rd, 2011 at 3:07 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 62

but aren’t talking yet about how our own ideas about violence, revenge, sexual aggression have been formed. Is that a valid topic here?

My comment at 63 is a start men young men especially unsure of their identity are vulnerable to fears to prove it with violence and the media and army use this to push wars and over come empathy for others so its easier for solders to kill.
As far it being off topic I don’t think so but thats a question for the author at the book club.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Thanks.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:09 pm
In response to BevW @ 35

PTSD is the clinical diagnosis for something much deeper than that, the “loss of soul” soldiers talk about. There are statistics in my book, but everyday we see evidence of how much it is understated. Take for example the high suicide rate of soldiers and recent veterans. The military acts as if that is an inexplicable problem, one they must study. That is their cover-up for hiding their explicit strategies that create military trauma for our soldier – strategies that lead many to suicide. The military is the cause of the problem they want to study.

ThingsComeUndone July 23rd, 2011 at 3:10 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 65

Good point get men good paying jobs so they can afford to get married raising kids should help encourage empathy and men who have jobs and family not dependent on joining the army are less likely to want to fight without a good reason.
The problem is Judy Miller media types lie us into good reasons.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:11 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 60

I’ll get to it one day. Everthing is posted on my website: unmakingwar.net.

By the way I’d like to invite anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area this coming week to
Kathleen Barry speaking on
UNMAKING WAR, REMAKING MEN
Tues, July 26, 2011
Revolution Books, Berkeley CA
2425 Channing Way
Berkeley, CA 94704-2260
(510) 848-1196
Come join us – be part of the discussion.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:12 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 68

“The military is the cause of the problem they want to study.” That reads like some kind of Kafka quote about the soul wanting to find its own shadow.

ThingsComeUndone July 23rd, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Prove you are a man with violence you must first cripple empathy and then risk getting hooked on adrenaline.
Prove you are a man by raising a family you get to gain empathy by raising kids but first you need a good job.
Any other ideas on how to prove manhood?
Or gain more empathy?

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:14 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 70

Do you have any trips planned to the East Coast?

ThingsComeUndone July 23rd, 2011 at 3:14 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 71

Best joke on FDL all week:)

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 62

That is the deepest topic of all and why consciousness of power and our part in it is essential to unmaking war. For example, consider how we as women have been socialized to expect men to protect us. I thought I threw that one off years ago until I was very seriously threatened recently. Not only did it involve the police but I turned to my brother and insisted he come to be with me until I got through the crisis. He did. But there I was after 40 years of feminism turning back to a man for protection from another man. As long as women and girls are socialized with this expectation, men and boys learn they must protect us, therefore they must have the weapons for that: aggression and violence and the circule perpetuates itself.

A Peterson July 23rd, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 58

I believe there are threats. I also believe ‘we’ created them. We are on the defensive more than people realize. Iraq and Afghanistan posed no real threat. We had no business or legal right to invade. No we’ve created more real threats. To me, the issue should be, how do we stop pissing off people so much that they would kill themselves in order to get back at us.

savagecat July 23rd, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I agree with your comment. I think in many ways men are hardwired differently than women. I think they have the protector chromosome & we have the nurture chromosome. And then society reinforces our roles. It’s easy for men’s protector role to become a dominate role. It’s a twofold process, where men have to learn the difference & women have to learn to speak up.

Lorraine Watkins July 23rd, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I really applaud your focus on the warriors themselves. The only way there will be an end to wars is if the men (and now women) simply refuse to participate.

savagecat July 23rd, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 75

A slightly different viewpoint could be that you turned to the men for support instead of protection.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to A Peterson @ 76

Both you and Kathleen answered in the same way. The level of agreement on this topic of how the US has created its own need for war is something that doesn’t get discussed enough. Thanks for going into that.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 65

Yes both you and your father were blessed and we need to hear your stories which is the source of our hope for change. And yes support for men changing masculinity is a growing force in the world. One place to start, aside from my book, is to Google men against violence against women or other phrases – There is no one group I recommend over any other but I do ask men who are willing to take the White Ribbon pledge at the end of my talks. Whiteribbon.ca.

Margot July 23rd, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I’m so glad you wrote this book. My memory is fresh with the stories of 2 returning soldiers from Vietnam, all these years ago. They needed someone to talk to and I was a kid on a train, with my church group.
We really have to do this for our men. They return hurting.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:20 pm

We are in full agreement.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 81

Can you explain what that is? The white ribbon pledge?

A Peterson July 23rd, 2011 at 3:21 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 75

Don’t you think that men turn to women for support also? I do. Just different types of support because of who’s more capable at that moment to make a situation better.

ThingsComeUndone July 23rd, 2011 at 3:22 pm
In response to savagecat @ 77

Agreed I don’t think men have a problem its our violent culture and the army that make it a problem but yes Women should speak out more men and women need balance.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:23 pm
In response to A Peterson @ 85

That is an excellent question. I know that there are things in my life that make me seek a male response or a female response. Not necessarily due to violence against me but just that there is a difference between the way the two respond to things.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:24 pm
In response to savagecat @ 77

I agree with that analysis and in particular that part where women need to speak up about what is on their minds.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:27 pm
In response to savagecat @ 77

I do not agree that this is in men’s nature to be the protector. Women are enormously protective whether it is of their children, home, their integrity, of other women from violence, etc. Until all human beings are treated equally, that is not differently because they are male or female, we have NO scientific way of show what is due to hormones, chromosomes. But because we are all human beings we have lots of reason to begin this change. I’ve written an article in On the Issues on why and how war regresses women’s equality, at home in the invader state, and abroad where the US invades and occupies.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:27 pm
In response to Margot @ 82

Can you remember what happened on the train? What was said?

savagecat July 23rd, 2011 at 3:27 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 87

I think we need to keep learning more about each other. I’m just now discovering how men’s minds really do work different than women’s. Part of the developing of empathy, is really listening to one another & learning, instead of making assumptions.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to Margot @ 82

So true. And so are the women in the military who return with the trauma of war and the trauma of violence against them by fellow soldiers.

beowulf July 23rd, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 49

“I blame the hand that pulls the trigger not the bullet. I welcome thoughts on another system to get people to fight.”

Exactly, unmaking war starts with remaking Congress and the White House. Frankly, the biggest single step to do that would be instituting universal military service (perhaps adopting Israel’s policy of drafting women too). One, the current policy of ordering soldiers and reservists to endure multiple combat tours (vs Vietnam War policy of one combat tour and done) is unconscionable; and Two, if every family in America, rich or poor, faced the risk of loved ones ordered to fight overseas, Congress would face a tremendous anti-war counterweight to the military-industrial complex.

There’s no reason to make everyone serve two or three years (after all, we have 40 times the population of Israel)– just induct high school graduates into the Army Reserve for 3 or 4 months of basic training and AIT, they then can get back to their lives, simply checking in with the Army one day in each of the next 8 years (in armyspeak, a 9G IRR (Non-PS) enlistment). This would change, of course, if Congress and the White House decide the best use of these IRR (Individual Ready Reserves) draftees’ time is fighting overseas. The Army will always have more than enough boots, and so will the anti-war marches.
http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/blarenlistmentprogram-8.htm

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 89

Are you saying that there is a difference between protection and aggression?

Lorraine Watkins July 23rd, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 81

I just celebrated our mutual birthdays with his grandson, also an artist. The entire content of our conversation centered around aesthetics, how important it is to make things pretty and shared despair at how our culture is making us more and more mechanical and unfeeling…….. Important as they are it is not just the wars that would destroy the empathy for each other in favor of technology and profit.

Our history of pacifism goes back at least as far as my great aunt who was a surgical nurse in what was comparable to a MASH unit in WW1. During WW2 I was perplexed by her stories of how injured and dying soldiers had no nationality, all deserving of compassionate care delivered equally. — So drenched in the propaganda in movies it seemed so weird to feel so for people that were demonized…….. Obviously her mentoring won out.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:32 pm
In response to A Peterson @ 85

Great point. For sure men turn to women for support, sometimes, too often excessively – that is why I think its up to men to remake themselves from their own motivation to do so. And of course the support men seek from women does not require women to be aggressive and violent (such as in fulfilling the protector role) while the support men often seek from women can lock women into the nurturer role as if that is all that it means to be a woman.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to savagecat @ 91

That is where we break old molds, learn anew and can engage our empathy.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 95

What great stories these are.

A Peterson July 23rd, 2011 at 3:34 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 94

I see it as a capability issue, not necessarily a natural issue. If my girlfriend can do something better than I, defend or mend, I defer to her. But I don’t think that is the norm because of our presumed societal expectations.

savagecat July 23rd, 2011 at 3:34 pm
In response to Kathleen Barry @ 89

I do see your point about women acting protectively. I agree that all human beings should be equally valued and have equal rights. But I do think there are inherent biological differences between men & women. I was wondering what you think about the research that has shown that women’s brains have stronger empathetic signals than men’s. And if you think these factors are important for us in developing empathy.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:34 pm
In response to savagecat @ 91

In Kathleen’s book she describes that process very well. I think you would find that section very helpful. I did.

Margot July 23rd, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Yes. One man described his experience of getting stabbed in the back by the enemy (and here he would show me the bandaged wound) and how he killed him. He repeated this story for about 2 days. The other man said he had a for sure job waiting for him at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City. We talked about music.

Lorraine Watkins July 23rd, 2011 at 3:35 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 98

Thanks. As I said I have been blessed.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to A Peterson @ 100

I hear you but not all relationships are male and female. In my case, I have a wife. We divide things in our house according to our skills. that is also an important point to make here.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:37 pm
In response to Margot @ 103

Those are truly irreplaceable memories. I bet there is more than that stored away.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to beowulf @ 93

One of the huge problems with Israel’s approach to requiring everyone at age 18 to serve is that it involves families in protecting the military as if that would protect their loved ones, it leads to unquestioning support for the military and worst of all, it creates a militarized state. For that you have to have enemies and engage in making them.

Take a look at the idea of a global peace-keeping force in my book. I believe that some people have a calling to serve, such as firepersons, but that calling for those who believe they are going to protect their country or go on a humanitarian mission is corrupted by the military. We need a new plan.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:39 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 104

Just as an aside, do you write about that family history?

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:40 pm
In response to A Peterson @ 100

As I see it in relation to protection from violence, protection causes the need for aggression and violence to protect.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Are you familiar with Dennis Kucinich’s ideas for a Department of Peace in the federal government?

beowulf July 23rd, 2011 at 3:41 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 95

I just advocated upthread a universal Army Reserve draft and yes Uncle Sam should make accommodations for pacifists, indeed they already are.
Just last year, Selective Service inked an Alternative Service Employment agreement with the Mennonites.
Selective Service expands alternatives for conscientious objectors

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:41 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 105

I agree completely with this fine example of two people relating as different human beings creating compatibility

Lorraine Watkins July 23rd, 2011 at 3:42 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 108

I do a little writing and have published a book of family letters. from the 19th century forward. I am not certain I have ever put into print or online the particular history I shared here. You have encouraged me. I really should. These stories can be important to others.

Thanks so much for the affirmation.

A Peterson July 23rd, 2011 at 3:43 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 105

That is my point:)thanks

BevW July 23rd, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Another article:

A Feminist Looks at Masculine Rage and the Haditha Massacre
by Kathleen Barry

http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/2011summer/2011summer_Barry.php

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Thanks and this too takes great listening skills. I learn from my wife a great deal that keeps me from making too many angry responses to life. But this is something that has to be tested in trust. Empathy does require some degree of trust, correct?

Lorraine Watkins July 23rd, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to beowulf @ 111

They did during earlier wars also. Though my father did not have to take advantage of it. He was never called — age, wife and family etc.

A Peterson July 23rd, 2011 at 3:44 pm

In that context, I totally agree!

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:45 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 110

Yes, and Departments of Peace have already been established in many countries. I only wish that the Department of Defense and the State Department were put under them in Kucinich’s proposal and around the world. As it is, it is more about peace education which is wonderful and very needed. But it will have no immediate effect on State or Defense. Imaging those two departments having to report to the head of the Department of Peace!!

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:45 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 113

Again, purely as an aside, please contact me after this chat for some ideas.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:45 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 113

I’d like to second Deborah’s suggestion. This story you have begun to tell here is so needed.

cherwell July 23rd, 2011 at 3:46 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 110

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/696/p/salsa/web/common/public/content?content_item_KEY=9141

a site to obtain more information pertaining to the department of peace concept.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Now there is a brain busting concept. A state dept. and a defense dept. having to report to a peace dept. Wouldn’t that make the minds sing with new ideas?

beowulf July 23rd, 2011 at 3:47 pm

For that you have to have enemies and engage in making them.

Without wading into the morass of Middle Eastern politics, Israel is going to have enemies regardless of its military structure. I’d point out they based their military on Switzerland’s militia system. Every Swiss male goes through several months of training and then spends years in the reserves. Their militia system goes back for centuries (Machiavelli noted that the Swiss are “the most armed and most free”) and not only do they not engage their enemies, the famously neutral Swiss doen’t have any enemies.
http://www.semp.us/publications/biot_reader.php?BiotID=367

A Peterson July 23rd, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Kathleen, are you asking how to unmake war, or offering a sole solution? We seem to know what’s wrong and what should happen, but how to make those things happen is the question. Don’t we have some war profiteers to slay, for one?

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:47 pm
In response to cherwell @ 122

Thanks so much, Ms. Cherie.

Lorraine Watkins July 23rd, 2011 at 3:47 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 120

I will but don’t know how. You can reach me with my user name (edited out – bev)

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:48 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 116

Wonderful point. I believe trust can be created in the act of empathy. You don’t have to trust first in order to decide to be empathetic. I know that’s not what you meant but you gave me the opportunity to make an important point. Thank you.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:48 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 127

Will do and thanks.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:49 pm

That kind of clarification is always most appreciated. Thanks right back at you.

RevBev July 23rd, 2011 at 3:50 pm
In response to BevW @ 115

What a great link: Thank you.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:52 pm
In response to beowulf @ 124

I do suggest beowulf taking a look at that section in Kathleen’s book. Not because all that she presents there answers all the issues you raise but there is much to be said about the ways in which the Israeli military and the government use incitement, much as the US government does, to create targets for its military.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:53 pm
In response to A Peterson @ 125

I do not ascribe to sole solutions. In asking how to unmake war in my book, I arrived at some ideas which I present as ideas. some are already being tried, with some success and some less successful. I just believe that we have to keep looking beyond what has been handed to us and start acting in terms of the kind of world we want to have. That is part of the way to get there. And we need so much more brainstorming like this session to consider those ways. I do not have all the answers and would be very suspicious of myself if I began to think I did.

A Peterson July 23rd, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to beowulf @ 124

Countries don’t invade the Swiss because of all the secret banking, not because they have a great army.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:55 pm

This truly has been sort of like a brain storming session hasn’t it? There is so much more to be said about how we remake men and end wars. How would you like to leave this with us for now, Kathleen?

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:56 pm
In response to BevW @ 115

That is a really tough case – over 24 dead, no one tried and found guilty and the trial against Frank Wuterich has just been postponed indefinately on legal issues. Wuterich was so right when he said about that massacre “I did exactly what I was trained to do.” And for that reason, the entire US military should be on trial for war crimes in the Hague.

Deborah Emin July 23rd, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Amen to that.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:58 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 135

Well until I meet you all again in other brainstorming sessions, lets think about believing in a future we can make and act, as many of you/us are doing, to create it.

BevW July 23rd, 2011 at 3:58 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon,

Kathleen, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and using empathy.

Deborah, Thank you very much for Hosting this important Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Kathleen’s website and book

Deborah’s website

Sunday’s salon
Bernard Harcourt / The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order
Hosted by George Grantham / “Knut”

Just quick reminder:
Membership drive! Are you an FDL member? If not, please join and help keep FDL delivering kick ass activism and independent journalism. You can join HERE.

Thanks all,
Have a great evening.

A Peterson July 23rd, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Thanks. I was asking only to find out the parameters of this discussion. I like to know the structure before trying to come up with solutions. I just want to end war and I want to find the shortest path possible. Please excuse my impatience:)

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 3:59 pm

And to add, please check out my website at unmakingwar.net and come to Revolution Books (cited above) this Tues in Berkeley if you are in the area. Thanks to everyone.

Kathleen Barry July 23rd, 2011 at 4:01 pm
In response to A Peterson @ 140

We are all impatient and trying to understand each other that is why your question required a serious response.

beowulf July 23rd, 2011 at 4:02 pm

To get back to Kathleen’s point (and I apologize for the above tangent) that soldiers should be trained to encourage empathy, there’s a very specific reason that this will never fly, the military has spent a lot of time and money to develop training methods to overcome soldiers’ natural aversion to killing. Former army psychologist Dave Grossman wrote a book about this, “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society“. To quote from linked wiki page:

The book is heavily based on SLA Marshall’s studies from World War II, which proposed that contrary to popular perception, the majority of soldiers in war do not ever fire their weapons and that this is due to an innate resistance to killing. Based on Marshall’s studies the military instituted training measures to break down this resistance and successfully raised soldier’s firing rates to over ninety percent during the war in Vietnam.

beowulf July 23rd, 2011 at 4:05 pm
In response to Deborah Emin @ 132

Will do, I will definitely read it. And I do appreciate Kathleen taking the time to come here to discuss her book with us.

Edwin Rutsch July 24th, 2011 at 10:10 am

here’s more on Kathleen Barry talking about empathy on the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy website:
http://cultureofempathy.com/References/Experts/Kathleen-Barry.htm

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