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Old 09-10-2006   #20
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Location: Ottawa, Canada
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Default A very interesting read

Thanks for posting this. I think I am going to assign it as required reading for my 3rd year theory students.

Aktarian, you noted that

He largely ignores Clausewitz's "war is continuation of policy with different means" dictum. Which can be translated into "if you don't have clearly defined long term political goals military actions don't matter". and I think this is main problem in Iraq as golas of "making Iraq democratic" and such are not defined what exactly that means and can mean anything or nothing.
I'm not so sure that he ignored it so much as tried to reformulate it. Certainly that dictum can be interpreted as a requirement for a clear engineering plan for goals. It also should be interpreted that way when it comes to planning specific operations such as OIF.

I think what Corn is trying to do is to look at the next level or two above operational planning - i.e. geo-political strategy. As such, I think it is probably a very useful conceptual exercise to avoid black box conceptual thinking. If we treat "war as a continuation of policy" and "policy as a continuation of war", both "by other means", then it may be possible to set up and train for multiple operational situations. By way of example, if we can train people to recognize when to shift from conventional to COIN, that increases operational flexibility.

CR6, you ended your post with what I think is a really interesting observation.

The idea of professionals talking "anthropology" has some merit, but I am unsure of the level of anthropology we can teach to our leaders and troops. Lawrence spent much of his pre-war adulthood on the Arabian penninsula, and was the right man in the right place for the uprising. His success had little to do with officer PME.
Certainly Lawrence got his "training" by doing - and that included his anthropology (he had no formal training in it). Holding him up as an example of what can be done with appropriate cultural knowledge is a good idea. Using him as an example of what an Anthropologist could do to help out in operations is, I'm afraid, a mistake.

Let me expand on this a bit. I am an Anthropologist and I have taught courses in the history and theory of Anthropology. There are certainly some good examples of Anthropologists working well with the military - Ruth Benedict's analysis of Japanese culture, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, that became the US occupation plan for Japan at the end of WWII is an example. I think more germain examples would be The Nuer by E.E. Evans-Pritchard or Montaignard Tribal Groups of the Republic of Vietnam, US Army Special Warfare School, Fort Bragg (2nd Ed. 1965). One little known, and rarely mentioned, fact is that during WWII, over 60% of people with Ph.D.'s in Anthropology in the US were working either for the military or for the State department. There are an aweful lot of really good works produced from 1939-1946 or so that deal with using Anthropology in a political military situation.

If we come into the recent present, however, we find a very different story. In 1968, Project Camelot blew up in the news and led to a reaction against using Anthropology within the military. At the 1968 meeting of the American Anthropology Association, a new code of ethics was created (see Handbook on Ethical Issues in Anthropology Chapter 1 - - for some of the history on this). Probably the most import effect of this debate was to influence an entire generation of Anthropologists away from anything to do with the military. Indeed, I have been at conferences where I have been told by a senior professor with a completely straight face, that the military are "a bunch of fascists who are even worse than their capitalist exploiting bosses". The message is quite clear - don't have anything to do with the military and don't have anything to do with businesses. The Corn article talks about Clausewitz being the "scripture" of the military - for Anthropology, the "scriptures" became Marx, Gramsci, and Foucault.

What I am trying to get at here is that, as an institution, Anthropology in North America is pretty strongly opposed to the military. There are very few Anthropologists who are willing to work for the military - it's professional suicide. This situation is slowly changing, but it is going to be difficult to find Anthropologists who are willing or able to work with the military (I exclude myself from this generalization since I am already unpopular for working in the area of business (Organizational Culture) and I'm too interested in military history for most of my colleagues).

All of this is a round about way at trying to answer CR6's uncertainty about "... I am unsure of the level of anthropology we can teach to our leaders and troops". I am quite certain that enough Anthropologists can be found to work with the military on training to give a pretty good structural grounding in the theories and methods in order to conduct analyses. What will probably be missing, at least for the present, is the area specialists who can flesh those structures out into operation information such as that which shows up in Montaignard Tribal Groups of the Republic of Vietnam. And, in all honesty, that is probably exactly the type of analyses that are needed.

Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
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