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What all these measures will not address is the mindset

[ by Charles Cameron — concerning the implications of the phrase “all things visible and invisible” ]

In the upper panel above, you can see a bunch of “guns and ammo” displayed on a table, and in the lower panel, a bunch of “hearts and minds” similarly displayed. Putting that another way, you can see guns and ammo but you can’t see hearts and minds — they’re invisible, you can only intuit them.

And therein lies the reason we focus so much on the quantitative and so little on the qualitative: we can see and count the one, the other is invisible and unaccountable.


I thought the paragraph that follows was terrific. The article I’ve taken it from happens to be about a multiple rape of a teenage girl this July in India, and it was posted on the Times of India site. If that’s an issue of importance to you, the article is Why Indian men rape by Anand Soondas. It’s not the whole article that I’m pointing you to, though — it’s just this one paragraph:

We at The Times of India in our edition today laid out a 6-point action plan to make India safer for women – harsher punishment, sensitization of the police force, setting up of fast-track courts, better patrolling, cleverer use of technology like GPS and CCTVs and a data base of public transport personnel – but what all these measures will not address is the mindset.

More specifically, I want to address you to its concluding phrase: What all these measures will not address is the mindset.

I want to re-purpose that paragraph. I want to remove the specific problem and proposed solutions, and to see the paragraph as a form, a vessel into which all manner of liquids could be poured.

The form would look something like this:

What follows is an n-point plan to make the world a better place — do x, do y, do z, do abc if it comes to that — but what all these measures will not address is the mindset.

What all these measures will not address is the mindset.


We almost always think about ways to fix the world, but forget that any and every fix has to work its way through not just our own mindset — though that can be a problem in itself — but also the multiple mindsets and differing culture sets of multiple others.

  • Do this, that and the other in Afghanistan — but what all these measures will not address is the mindset.
  • Do this, that and the other about Syria, about Egypt, about the Middle East, the Arab Spring — but what all these measures will not address is the mindset.
  • Do this, that and the other to combat global warming — but what all these measures will not address is the mindset.
  • Do this, that and the other about the possession and use of firearms — but what all these measures will not address is the mindset.
  • Do this, that and the other, and the world will be a far better place.
  • The thing is, you can’t simply deploy other people’s hearts and minds, the way you can deploy your own troops and materiel.

    11 Responses to “What all these measures will not address is the mindset”

    1. Charles Cameron Says:

      Same old thing — comments inexplicably closed.  My apologies, they’re open now.

    2. Fred Leland Says:

      Mindset is the key and it does show itself in patterns of behavior and there anomolies. Threat assessment teams that are intiative driven can make a world of difference in reducing these types of atatcks. But we will continue stay focused on the obvious like guns and ammo, while the hidden order of this chaos lays in the motives and intent of those that would kill.
      To get the best results and win we must learn what we need to know about conflict and violence how it unfolds, its causes and effects and its signs and signals. We must research and review case studies of past violent acts and attempt to understand the social dynamics that contribute to conflict and violence such as an unstable background, drug and alcohol abuse, violent entertainment with no spiritual guidance or discipline, failure to be proactive when you observe the signs of mental illness, anger and depression and then the most crucial factor ignoring the signs and signals when we see them due to apathy or just not believing what we see due to associative barriers.
      We must understand the patterns of conflict and violence and their anomalies as well as the subtle signs of anxiety and stress that lead to conflict and violence if we are to be successful in implementing appropriate tactics so we achieve our goals. These signs and signals show themselves through behavioral indicators and manifest themselves in the form of leakage through actions, statements, letters, notes and written manifestos and school papers etc.
      Also we must be able to orient to the negative or potentially dangerous body language that leaks out of a person in obvious and also subtle ways. These non-verbal, signs and signals show us high stress and anxiety via hyper vigilance and depression in a particular person. Being both knowledgeable and capable of reading and interrupting the signs and signals can give us crucial information regarding potential motives of a person and a clear advantage in adapting to the circumstances in context with what is going on. In short it puts time on our side because we see the early warning signs and signals.
      Once we develop (evolving, continuing) knowledge of the cause and effects and the signs and signals conflict and violence we must understand basic, intermediate and advanced tactical concepts and how to utilize them operationally so we can interact and isolate a person in crisis. Col John Boyd said the goal of strategy is “a game of interaction and isolation in which we must be able to diminish an adversary’s ability to communicate or interact with his environment while sustaining or improving ours.” To achieve this goal of strategy and affect the physical, mental and moral dimensions of conflict we must use our knowledge and tactical concepts such as positioning, cover, concealment, contact and cover, reading and understanding terrain to include micro terrain, response and approach techniques based on the environment (house, car, building, outdoors etc), An example would be approaching a dwelling house that’s has many danger areas that include more than just doors. Think about windows from all floors, shrubs, bushes, tree lines and sheds etc.
      We must have a basic knowledge of psychology and understand its benefits and limitations at predicting and preventing violence. We must possess knowledge and the ability to communicate effectively to enhance efforts at gaining compliance voluntarily or through utilization of force. Then we must factor in collaborative efforts of the community, its relevant people and professionals associated with whoever is showing these signs and signals of anxiety, stress, lack of control or potentially signs and signals of danger. All these intersecting ideas gathered and shared collectively with law enforcement and security in a much more robust way, all in an effort to prevent violence from occurring which is our ultimate goal.
      “In my view in police and security situations where conflict and violence often linger, the center of gravity is the adversary’s motives and mindset. Motives and mindset cannot be predicted with certainty; therefore we must develop knowledge of conflict and violence in its three dimensions, the moral, mental and physical and how to translate this knowledge as it is applied in a given set of circumstances. This knowledge combined with the ability to apply in the context of competition or crises based on the unfolding circumstances is ‘operational art.”
      “Very good piece Charles.

    3. Justin Boland Says:

      How to fathom the “mindset,” though? The phrase is so amorphous it borders on reification — you could spend a lifetime chasing shadows there. And besides, people just talk, it’s not like you can ask them what they really believe. Behavior, though — that’s the real belief set. In that light, mindset is behavior shaped by environment. Not that this is any solution or escape, since it just leads to a different flavor of reification, the same strain that gave us “behavioral economics” and Cass Sunstein’s “Nudge” theory of technocratic paternalism. Turtles, turtles all the way down.
      In related news, it would be great to see someone give a press conference someday displaying a table full of captured hearts and minds.

    4. Charles Cameron Says:


      Very good piece Charles.

      Thanks, and thanks for a very comprehensive look from tactical LE ground level at much of what my 30,000 ft generalizations mean in practice.

      You’ve also added at least two much needed quotes to my stockpile…
      The John Boyd quote in particular is something I’ll be using myself. I’m always interested when someone bright uses a “game” metaphor, it either teaches us something about the topic at hand — in this case “strategy” – or about games.
      My most recent find in that regard is a Seinfeld joke, in which he describes marriage as “a bit of a chess game, except the board is flowing water and the pieces are smoke”. How’s that for a strategic analogy?
      And somewhere in my readings, I think in one of your own articles you linked to, I found this from Sun Tzu – another quote that articulates succinctly a principle I already try to live by:

      A detour can be the shortest path. … Use an indirect route as your highway. … You must know the detour that most directly accomplishes your plan.

      Very useful as a description of my general approach…

    5. Charles Cameron Says:

      Hi Justin:
      There’s much for me to chew on here, starting with the question: is reification basically the move which attempts to translate qualitative into quantitative?  It seems to me that the quantitative always has hard edges, sharp lines of discrimination between the excluded and the included, while the qualitative is mercurial, constantly splitting and regrouping like quicksilver, naturally hard to define.
      Wittgenstein says of games, “if you look at them you will not see something that is common to all, but similarities, relationships, and a whole series of them at that” and “the result of this examination is: we see a complicated network of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing: sometimes overall similarities.” and concludes, “I can think of no better expression to characterize these similarities than “family resemblances”
      I suspect reification may be the attempt to make Wittgensteinian “family resemblances” into Aristotelian “categories”.  Any thoughts? I’m not the sharpest philosopher on the block — or at least, I surely hope not!

    6. Justin Boland Says:

      I had always viewed the split as concrete vs. abstract, but I like all the shading that superimposing qualitative vs. quantitative introduces — thanks for that. Something worthy to chew on while I head home from work.

    7. Mass Murder vs. "Values Plus Measures" - AbdelRahman Mussa Says:

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    8. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

      the move which attempts to translate qualitative into quantitative?

      This approaches something I have lately tried to make clear for myself, in a way that I would never have thought to use in my pursuit.
      In a nutshell, though:  It has seemed to me that the large majority of people I have met require a quantitative dimension; they want a lever they can pull, a button they can push…an answer they can use.  If it can’t be made into a neatly outlined plan, applicable to whatever (and not necessarily applicable to a specific, realized goal, but applicable in general, or potentially applicable), then it is deemed worthless in the worst way.   Now, I think that a great many outlined plans can be quite worthless, but I don’t think the term can so easily be applied when the subject under discussion has not been presented as a workable set of pulleys and levers.
      I think that Justin’s introduction of the idea of behaviors is important.  I was greatly influence by Auden’s assertion that, when viewing another person, we can only see behavior.  WRT our own endeavors, we can know the motive and judge some degree of success or failure if these are assessed on the basis of those motives; but, we can not know these for another person.  We only see the behavior.
      Lately I’ve tended to extend that observation in ways that might be uncomfortable to others, by equating the behavior we see on a television set or movie screen with the behavior we see in live human beings around us.  To us, the observer, these are essentially the same experience.   A live human being does present a more complete performance, perhaps the behavior observed is multifaceted in ways that the behavior of images on a screen cannot yet be, but this is owing mostly to a) the 3-D real-time performance and b) the interactivity between observer and observed which may alter the behavior of the observed in real time.
      Lying is ancient for a reason. 

    9. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

      [Apparently, blockquotes not allowed!]

    10. Charles Cameron Says:

      Hi Curtis:
      I’m not sure if you can edit your own comments, but if you can you can add blockquote markup to the editable form.  Adding markup isn’t possible in the regular posting box, but as I have edit privileges here, I’ve gone into your comment #8 above and fixed the blockquotes for you,  

    11. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

      Thanks!  There used to be a button for editing HTML in comments, but it disappeared some time ago.  I think you can still write it in another html-capable editor and copy-paste here however, to get the mark-up right.  (This edit box is one of those, that retains editing from elsewhere.)

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