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  1. #341
    Council Member Ironhorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
    I acknowledge that early on in some of my first postings I did cross the line and attacked the person and not the idea. Ironhorse pointed out my ways to me and I have since avoided those mistakes. Pointing out that I think that Nagl and Kilkullen are taken without serious critical assessment is not personal but something that should be considered.
    Hmmm. Little ol' me? Who'd a thunk it?

    I do have to say that I concur w/ both comments below. LTC Gentile is certainly consistent and vigorous in his choice of topics (SWJED), and direct in his articulation with more balanced criticism / respect (Adam L). That's really what this board seems to be all about: sharing viewpoints, influencing some, agreeing to disagree on others, enhancing all.
    Quote Originally Posted by Adam L View Post
    I have to say that all posts that I have seen from Mr. Gentile on this thread (and a few others) have been direct, on point and respectful to the others on SWC. He may be critical of Nagle, Kilcullen, etc., but his disaggreements appear to come from a legitimate viewpoint.
    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    One could say just the opposite concerning many of your comments here and on the blog - your hair stands on end when anyone agrees with the writings of Nagl or Kilcullen, success of the Surge... Your opinion has been respected here and we ask you do the same for other Council members.

  2. #342
    Council Member Sargent's Avatar
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    Default Bateman's blog posting is the key...

    I think that the Bateman blog message provides insight to why I and others have a problem with the missing cites:

    "Hanson is tricky. He plays upon a uniquely American dichotomy. Generally speaking, we Americans respect academic qualifications, but at the same time harbor deep-seated biases against those we deem too intellectual. The line there is squiggly. Thus, Hanson tries to claim academic credentials as a historian, but then immediately switches gears and denigrates any potential opposition as mere 'academic' history squabbles. Yes, academic history, with its unreasonable insistence on things like footnotes or endnotes so that your sources can be checked, is not to be trusted. Indeed, he dismissed the whole lot by saying, 'Academics in the university will find that assertion chauvinistic or worse -- and thus cite every exception from Thermopylae to Little Bighorn in refutation.' Ahhh, I love the smell of Strawmen burning in the morningÖ"

    Yes, we have an "unreasonable insistence on things like footnotes or endnotes so that your sources can be checked." It's part of our training. The practice is hammered into us over the course of years of hard work. It represents a code of ethics and conduct as strong to the historian as, say, the ethos inculcated in a Marine officer during OCS and TBS. And however much one might like to dismiss this as pesky, or pinheaded, or part of an ivory tower mentality, the real value of this practice is to keep us all honest, to make sure that the work we do is not personal opinion or politics masquerading as "history."

    Like it or not, this manual is as a much a work of history as doctrine. As doctrine, it might be pure genius -- or, at least good enough to get the job done. However, as a piece of history, the flaws grate. They detract from the value of the work, because they preclude the sort of rigorous analysis to which a work of history must be subject.

    Gen. Petraeus might not agree, but Dr. Petraeus ought to understand.

    Regards,
    Jill

  3. #343
    Council Member Ironhorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sargent View Post
    Gen. Petraeus might not agree, but Dr. Petraeus ought to understand.
    I'd wager the latter does.

    I understand why many have problems with there not being more citations. But there's a big difference between "more notes would be nice-to-have" and "it is invalid because it doesn't." Some of the criticism has flown too close to the latter. (Not yours, Jill)

    FM 3-24 does not draw its formal authority from an auditable trail to the source material, but rather from the two flag officers' signatures that annoint it as the doctrine of two services. In practice, it gains added strength from the value, relevance, and effectiveness of those ideas. Not from how well they are cited.

    A few readers could have used notes as a shortcut to their own self-study. But only in our sound bite culture would that be seen as a major value-add. For extra exploration, which the work has certainly encouraged, there's a healthy bibliography. For the core idea, it is there in black and white with two meaningful signatures, and it does need any more.

    Unlike in any number of reduced-size hip-pocket manuals, an extra end note appendix wouldn't have killed anyone. Oh well. It didn't make the cut. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, didn't.

  4. #344
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default The latest from the AAA...

    AAA Board Statement on HTS
    Welcome

    On October 31, 2007, the American Anthropological Associationís Executive Board passed a statement concerning ethical aspects of the U.S. Militaryís Human Terrain System (HTS) project. The project, which has received widespread national and international media coverage, embeds anthropologists and other social scientists in military teams in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    More here. The full AAA statement here.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
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  5. #345
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    More here. The full AAA statement here.

    Here's the message I would send to the AAA if I knew how to get a communication to the alternative universe they apparently inhabit: all wars are a "denial of human rights and [are] based on faulty intelligence and undemocratic principles." That's the nature of the beast. In my opinion, the organization has simply elected to secede from reality. Which will have no effect on conflict in the real world. I realize that drafting statements takes a lot of time so AAA's member may not have noticed, but Afghanistan and Iraq weren't exactly bastions of human rights and democratic principles sans outside intervention.

    Seriously, that particular phrase says it all: "We're not coming out against the involvement of scholars in wars, just in ones we don't personally like."
    Last edited by SteveMetz; 11-08-2007 at 09:15 AM.

  6. #346
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    I think the following quotation from the AAA statement is very instructive:
    The Commissionís work did not include systematic study of the HTS project. The Executive Board of the Association has, however, concluded that the HTS project raises sufficiently troubling and urgent ethical issues to warrant a statement from the Executive Board at this time. Our statement is based on information in the public record, as well as on information and comments provided to the Executive Board by the Ad Hoc Commission and its members. (http://www.aaanet.org/blog/resolution.htm)
    This sounds to me like the AAA Board has chosen to condemn an activity without even attempting to understand it in any detail.

    Where does this leave us? I submit that this statement provides anthropologists with their "Martin Luther moment". (I wonder on whose door Montgomery McFate and company will hammer their theses.) The AAA statement stands to widen the age-old divide between theory and practice, at least as it applies to anthropology. The AAA may well become the refuge of theoretical anthropolgists while anthroplogists who choose to do something practical with their education and training will avoid AAA membership. I forsee two unfortunate outcomes:
    1. The AAA stands to lose any meaningful ability to enforce its professional ethical standards. Those who disagree with the AAA position may simply create another organization with its own standards. (I am reminded of the WBA/WBC divide in professional boxing.)
    2. Academic freedom for anthropologists will be curtailed with academic preparation for future anthropologists significantly degraded. If (as I suspect is the case) the AAA is the keeper of the keys to academic anthropology, then lack of AAA membership will become a barrier to entry as a teaching anthropologist. Therefore, formal, "mainstream" anthropology instruction will be limited to that provided by those who are willing to tow the AAA party line.

    I hope that I am wrong.(Insert "sad" emoticon here)

  7. #347
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    I think the following quotation from the AAA statement is very instructive:

    This sounds to me like the AAA Board has chosen to condemn an activity without even attempting to understand it in any detail.

    Where does this leave us? I submit that this statement provides anthropologists with their "Martin Luther moment". (I wonder on whose door Montgomery McFate and company will hammer their theses.) The AAA statement stands to widen the age-old divide between theory and practice, at least as it applies to anthropology. The AAA may well become the refuge of theoretical anthropolgists while anthroplogists who choose to do something practical with their education and training will avoid AAA membership. I forsee two unfortunate outcomes:
    1. The AAA stands to lose any meaningful ability to enforce its professional ethical standards. Those who disagree with the AAA position may simply create another organization with its own standards. (I am reminded of the WBA/WBC divide in professional boxing.)
    2. Academic freedom for anthropologists will be curtailed with academic preparation for future anthropologists significantly degraded. If (as I suspect is the case) the AAA is the keeper of the keys to academic anthropology, then lack of AAA membership will become a barrier to entry as a teaching anthropologist. Therefore, formal, "mainstream" anthropology instruction will be limited to that provided by those who are willing to tow the AAA party line.

    I hope that I am wrong.(Insert "sad" emoticon here)
    Personally, I think you're being too kind to them. I find the "resolution" morally repulsive.

    By "this war" it is not clear whether the esteemed scholars mean Iraq, Afghanistan, or both. I assume Iraq.

    Their assumption that American support is preventing the elected Iraqi government from promoting "human rights" and "democratic principles."I have to wonder if the AAA's executive board knows anything aobut the human rights record and support for democratic principles evinced by Qaeda in Iraq?

    The AAA's critique of "faulty intelligence," by contrast, did cause me to laugh out loud. I would be most interested in the credentials of the Executive Board to assess whether intelligence is or is not faulty.

    But, I assume that the "faulty intelligence" the AAA alludes to is the claims of weapons of mass destruction that the Bush administration used to justify removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. If so, the AAA's argument is both logically and ethically flawed. If if Saddam Hussein had no WMD or WMD programs and hence the Bush administration's rationale for removing him was flawed, the fact is that the deed is done. That alone does not justify hamstringing efforts to try and stabilize Iraq today or build a democracy there.

    Second, this contention illustrates the bizarrely twisted ethics of the AAA: I assume they never passed a resolution criticizing Saddam Hussein's horrific human rights record. So ultimately this more of the pathetic Vietnam era morality that holds that anything done by a Western nation is an abuse of human rights while actions done by even the most psychopathic Third World tyrant merits understanding and tolerance.

  8. #348
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    Default back to the research ethics issue...

    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    1. The AAA stands to lose any meaningful ability to enforce its professional ethical standards.
    While the AAA and other professional scholarly associations may comment on ethics issues, and those comments may even have some effect on perceptions of ethical protocols, it is worth mentioning that in the social sciences (unlike, to some degree, medicine or law) the associations play no substantive guardian role. Rather, ethics clearances are the responsibility of university-level research ethics boards and granting agencies (in Canada, from what I can tell, this is much more structured than it is in the US).

    I've noted somewhere in another thread that there are real ethical dilemmas in moving between (or having one foot in each of) the academic research and the applied (especially COIN or IC or foreign policy) worlds. )Indeed, I ran across an interesting one last week, although I'm not sure I can post
    the details ) These usually aren't insurmountable in my view, and I think it would be useful if the AAA would address these directly rather than pronouncing from on high.

    For what its worth, I think the HTS has, from all outward appearances at least, been lax in also not addressing these up front and explicitly. Is there a predeployment HTT training session on balancing ethical responsibilities, for example? Is there an advisory or reporting mechanism (preferably outside the regular chain of command) where HTT members can seek guidance on potentially troublesome dilemmas? It seems to me that these would be very useful mechanisms to have in place, for normative, practical and political reasons.

    The bigger issue here is the marketability of HTT "graduates" in the academic job market, post-deployment. Members of departments of hiring committees may well be biased against former HTT members. Given the dynamics of hiring processes, they needn't even explicitly articulate these: they simply need to highlight other perceived weaknesses in the applicant's file, or rally around "untainted" colleagues. Frankly, explicit HTS attention to ethical issues might help to reduce post-deployment academic employment issues for former HTT members too.

    It would be interesting to put together a formal panel discussion on this some time, either at a professional association meeting (AAA, MESA, etc) or a Washington-area think tank (heck, I would even consider coming down to DC for it).

  9. #349
    Council Member ProfessorB's Avatar
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    Default Twisted Logic

    Speaking of the twisted logic department, what is the logical -- that is, mathematical -- basis for IF you didn't condemn Saddam, THEN you have no moral foundation for criticizing Bush? Presumably, then, since Reagan didn't condemn Pol Pot, he had no moral foundation for condemning Soviet Communism.

    Are we now at the point in the discussion that a governing body for anthropologists is given sufficient political gravitas that one needs to take seriously an admonition against anthropologists serving with the military? The Association rejects the war -- that's not foolish Vietnam-era namby-pambyism, it's a political position to which they are entitled as citizens of the United States.

  10. #350
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessorB View Post
    Speaking of the twisted logic department, what is the logical -- that is, mathematical -- basis for IF you didn't condemn Saddam, THEN you have no moral foundation for criticizing Bush? Presumably, then, since Reagan didn't condemn Pol Pot, he had no moral foundation for condemning Soviet Communism.

    Are we now at the point in the discussion that a governing body for anthropologists is given sufficient political gravitas that one needs to take seriously an admonition against anthropologists serving with the military? The Association rejects the war -- that's not foolish Vietnam-era namby-pambyism, it's a political position to which they are entitled as citizens of the United States.
    Well, perhaps the word "hypocritical" would have been more appropriate.

    The bigger point is this old, stale idea that all of the evil in the world comes from Western repression. The AAA's decision to portray the war in Iraq today as against human rights and democracy shows that they believe that is what the other side seeks. Of course, I don't know whether they are simply naive or truly so mired in ideology that they believe that.

    And, I never questioned their right to be nitwits. I just also feel that I have a right to point it out.

    And I don't think the AAA "rejects" the war. I haven't seen one whit of criticism from them of AQI or other insurgent movements. I think they reject American involvement in trying to preserve one of the most democratic regimes in that part of the world.

  11. #351
    Council Member Abu Suleyman's Avatar
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    Default Why Anthropopligists are essential and impossible

    HTT's and everything of their ilk (Civil Affairs, Psyops, FAO's etc) are an attempt to understand something that is only a major factor in Small Wars. The best soldiers are those that understand the terrain upon which they fight, and in Small Wars the human terrain is at least as important as the physical terrain. The difference is that the physical terrain has only five major and three minor terrain features, and it can be taught effectively to virtually anyone who goes through basic training. Of course the effective use of that terrain is another matter, but the basic verbiage is available to every Soldier and Marine on the ground.

    On the other hand, human terrain has not only dozens and perhaps hundreds of features but each feature can have thousands of variables. There are over two thousand religious sects in the United States alone! We cannot possibly hope to teach that to the wider military audience in a short time. Experts are required and that is why we try to involve anthropologists, among others, in forums such as this one.

    Unfortunately there is a fundamental conflict between the philosophy of anthropology and that of the military. Because anthropology is concerned with the study of people, any injection of other people or societies into the study can alter it. It would be like trying to take a temperature with a thermometer that is self heating. Therefore anthropologists are trained to limit their involvement with cultures in order to study them better.

    Those techniques include, but are not limited to, identifying and distancing themselves from the subject. While these techniques are not perfect, and contamination does inevitably occur, it is what they are trained and required to do to be considered anthropologists. This is also the cause of the perceived moral relativism. While some anthropologists are indeed relativists the study of the cultures itself requires a completely blank slate.

    This is also why, in part, the AAA is going to oppose the use of Anthropologists in HTT's. I am not saying that there is not an anti-military bias, which there may well be. But what the military is asking the anthropologists to do goes against, not some vague hippie ideal, but the very science the military wants anthropologists to represent. We are asking them to do their job, without following the principles of their training. It is like asking an infantryman to take a bunker without shooting, or communicating.

    That said, everyone would be better off with anthropologists, and other people involved. I don't know the total solution, but the beginning is the same as the beginning of any communication between two cultures, or in this case sub cultures, and that is understanding. The military needs to understand the difficulty of what they are asking anthropologists to do, and they need to respect it. Likewise, the anthropologists, need to understand what the military is trying to do. Until communication occurs between groups, there is no point in working at the group level, e.g. DOD and AAA. The best we can hope for is to win people one at a time, and that is going to be too little too late, I fear.
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  12. #352
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abu Suleyman View Post
    HTT's and everything of their ilk (Civil Affairs, Psyops, FAO's etc) are an attempt to understand something that is only a major factor in Small Wars. The best soldiers are those that understand the terrain upon which they fight, and in Small Wars the human terrain is at least as important as the physical terrain. The difference is that the physical terrain has only five major and three minor terrain features, and it can be taught effectively to virtually anyone who goes through basic training. Of course the effective use of that terrain is another matter, but the basic verbiage is available to every Soldier and Marine on the ground.

    On the other hand, human terrain has not only dozens and perhaps hundreds of features but each feature can have thousands of variables. There are over two thousand religious sects in the United States alone! We cannot possibly hope to teach that to the wider military audience in a short time. Experts are required and that is why we try to involve anthropologists, among others, in forums such as this one.

    Unfortunately there is a fundamental conflict between the philosophy of anthropology and that of the military. Because anthropology is concerned with the study of people, any injection of other people or societies into the study can alter it. It would be like trying to take a temperature with a thermometer that is self heating. Therefore anthropologists are trained to limit their involvement with cultures in order to study them better.

    Those techniques include, but are not limited to, identifying and distancing themselves from the subject. While these techniques are not perfect, and contamination does inevitably occur, it is what they are trained and required to do to be considered anthropologists. This is also the cause of the perceived moral relativism. While some anthropologists are indeed relativists the study of the cultures itself requires a completely blank slate.

    This is also why, in part, the AAA is going to oppose the use of Anthropologists in HTT's. I am not saying that there is not an anti-military bias, which there may well be. But what the military is asking the anthropologists to do goes against, not some vague hippie ideal, but the very science the military wants anthropologists to represent. We are asking them to do their job, without following the principles of their training. It is like asking an infantryman to take a bunker without shooting, or communicating.

    That said, everyone would be better off with anthropologists, and other people involved. I don't know the total solution, but the beginning is the same as the beginning of any communication between two cultures, or in this case sub cultures, and that is understanding. The military needs to understand the difficulty of what they are asking anthropologists to do, and they need to respect it. Likewise, the anthropologists, need to understand what the military is trying to do. Until communication occurs between groups, there is no point in working at the group level, e.g. DOD and AAA. The best we can hope for is to win people one at a time, and that is going to be too little too late, I fear.
    I take your point that some anthropologists prefer to remain "scientists" rather than undertake praxis, but what annoys me is their aggression in attempting to delegitimize anthropologists who see thinks different. To me, this is as if whatever the professional associations of sociologists is condemned those of their members who decided to become social workers.

    Phrased differently, I don't think this is purely an issue of how professional training should be used, but an instance of one group within a profession attempting to impose their personal politics on the profession as a whole. Is the profession opposed to any practical application of its knowledge, or just THIS practical application? If it is just "this" one, then the real issue is no longer preserving professional integrity. If one practical application of anthropological knowledge damaged professional integrity, then all would. If the professional integrity argument as, as I I believe, simply a stalking horse for personal opposition to U.S. involving in Iraq, I believe those making the argument have a moral obligation to explain how deterring professional anthropologists from contributing to stabilization and counterinsurgency operations is going to make Iraq a better place.

    This reminds me of a discussion I had with some people who were protesting the presence of a CIA recruiter at a college job fair. I asked them to explain to me how preventing the U.S. intelligence community from hiring talented people is going to make the world a better place. They hadn't really thought it through that far.
    Last edited by SteveMetz; 11-08-2007 at 03:21 PM.

  13. #353
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Steve,

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    I take your point that some anthropologists prefer to remain "scientists" rather than undertake praxis, but what annoys me is their aggression in attempting to delegitimize anthropologists who see thinks different.
    Well, I agree with the sentiment if not the specific terms you use . I wouldn't use the term "scientist" in the way you have - there is nothing scientific about their actions and it is, in many ways, anti-scientific. I think the most appropriate term would be "theologian" or, if I was being realy pedantic, neo-Thomistic pseudo-Marxian theologian.

    The dynamic itself is nothing new - it is a standard variant on the witch hunting process used by theologians and other demagogues to rout out heretics. As such, the ad hominen attacks are to be expected as is the use of illogical logic (e.g. binary logic with extremely flawed assumptions).
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
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  14. #354
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Hi Steve,



    Well, I agree with the sentiment if not the specific terms you use . I wouldn't use the term "scientist" in the way you have - there is nothing scientific about their actions and it is, in many ways, anti-scientific. I think the most appropriate term would be "theologian" or, if I was being realy pedantic, neo-Thomistic pseudo-Marxian theologian.

    The dynamic itself is nothing new - it is a standard variant on the witch hunting process used by theologians and other demagogues to rout out heretics. As such, the ad hominen attacks are to be expected as is the use of illogical logic (e.g. binary logic with extremely flawed assumptions).
    As long as my dander is up and I'm in mid-rant, let me throw out another point. While some trained anthropologist who consult with the government undoubtedly do so because they believe in the cause, I suspect there are other who do it just because it's a job. So the profession generates more anthropologists than the academic market can absorb, and then carps when they seek other ways to make a living.

    This is a longstanding pet peeve of mine. I once taught in a master's granting political science department which was desperately trying to get a Ph.D. program. I opposed this, pointing out that there were already dozens of Ph.D.s for every job, so I didn't see why we needed to produce even more. That was not a popular position in my department since all the tenured folks were obsessed with the idea that it would increase their prestige (and salaries) to be a Ph.D. granting department. They didn't care that they'd be churning out many unemployable Ph.D.s.

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    Council Member Sargent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Agree 100% with LTCOL Gentile. If anthropologists weren't helping commanders figure out who to detain/kill, they wouldn't really be all that much use.

    The alternative that anthropologists in opposition should understand is that that American troops without local knowledge will possibly detain/kill many who don't deserve it.
    Well, the blow could be softened by arguing that what they are really helping the military to do in Iraq is NOT kill or detain the WRONG people. Without the focus their knowledge can bring to the table, force must be applied in a far more blunt manner, causing more unintended collateral damage. Furthermore, it seems that the collateral damage issues, not the failure to kill the right people, has done the greater harm to the effort in Iraq.

    The morality of the death a sniper brings can be debated, but it is certainly better than the indiscriminate death and destruction of a couple of two thousand pound bombs. While this sort of moral subjectivity has its repulsive implications, what is truly important is that the former action gets you out of the killing/fighting phase much sooner (because you're not creating more enemies), which is an indisputable good.

    As with many things associated with war, it is often the marketing (public relations, propaganda, etc.) that makes ultimate difference in effectiveness. Given the philosophy the underpins modern anthropology, it is obvious why the idea that their knowledge being used as a tool to deliver force chafes. But if the message is that their knowledge is being used to minimize the use of force, well that might make it all a bit easier for them.

    Of course, there is something about this argument that makes me feel distinctly evil.

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Thanks for your post. It has crystalized the reasons for my antipathetical responses to positions of the members of SAMA (Society of Anti-Military Anthropolgists). I find that their proclamations portray them as being sophistical, eristical, and hypocritical rather than critical, unbiased Socratic searchers after truth. In case it isn't clear, I believe that scholars ought to be the latter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sargent View Post
    As with many things associated with war, it is often the marketing (public relations, propaganda, etc.) that makes ultimate difference in effectiveness. Given the philosophy the underpins modern anthropology, it is obvious why the idea that their knowledge being used as a tool to deliver force chafes. But if the message is that their knowledge is being used to minimize the use of force, well that might make it all a bit easier for them.

    Of course, there is something about this argument that makes me feel distinctly evil.
    What you describes is not limited to war. As to your feeling of malaise about the argument, I suspect that you might now be in a better position to understand why the charge of Sophistry against Socrates could have resulted in the death penalty.

  17. #357
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    While the AAA and other professional scholarly associations may comment on ethics issues, and those comments may even have some effect on perceptions of ethical protocols, it is worth mentioning that in the social sciences (unlike, to some degree, medicine or law) the associations play no substantive guardian role. Rather, ethics clearances are the responsibility of university-level research ethics boards and granting agencies (in Canada, from what I can tell, this is much more structured than it is in the US).
    I've got to disagree.

    Human Research Boards of Ethics often refer to third party professional organizations as being the subject matter experts in what is allowed. More importantly adherence to those bodies expectations can effect tenure, promotion, accreditation for programs, etc.. into silliness.

    I'm thinking I have a set of ethics that I ascribe to through ACM and IEEE and if I get whacked by the organization I lose my ability to publish in most of the scholarly journals that would count at my University for professional growth. Science has always been political, but hyper-politicization I think is absolutely abhorrent. I also think that AAA has violated the precepts of academic freedom, and scholarly inquiry. If I was one of the people affected I'd go to the AAUP have the AAA sanctioned (like they have done to administrations and programs in the past) for taking a political stand in neglect of scholarship.
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    Council Member Abu Suleyman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Phrased differently, I don't think this is purely an issue of how professional training should be used, but an instance of one group within a profession attempting to impose their personal politics on the profession as a whole. Is the profession opposed to any practical application of its knowledge, or just THIS practical application?
    Let me clarify by saying that I have no doubt whatsoever that there is an anti-military bias within anthropology and many other social sciences. To be utterly fair, though, there is also an anti-academia bias within the military. If you doubt this, look at all the name calling on this site. I cannot speak knowledgeably on involvement in general, but anecdotally when I took anthropology I was told a story about a man who became peripherally involved in his PhD. thesis, and when it came out a fist fight erupted between the the PhD. candidate and the Dean who wanted the document back, because it violated the norms of the science. (In the interest of full disclosure, that anecdote may actually relate to Sociology, I have forgotten. The similarity between the two fields allows some leeway in anecdotes, I believe.)

    All that notwithstanding, it is probable that a large portion of this conflict with one group trying to impose its views on another, is a reflection of a power struggle that seems to be typical within the social sciences (political science and economics being notable exceptions). Specifically it is between the "Ivory Tower" scientists who traditionally have power in professional associations, almost always have PhD's, and so on, and the practitioners, or rather those who go and work for government, think tanks, or in general try to change the world we live in.

    This little scrum is almost analogous to our current experience in Iraq. The military doesn't have enough knowledge of the human terrain to make good decisions, and apparently inadvertently has wandered into a turf fight in an unrelated area. It is almost like the military needs HTT's for academia.

    Sincerely though, the keys to success here are the same as anywhere. In fact they are in the first two paragraphs of an OP Order. First you must know your own strengths, and weaknesses, which in this case is our own prejudices. You don't have to overcome them. just know them, and account for it in your planning. Next know what is going on with your enemy or target, in this case the people we want to woo to the cause. Then you have to know exactly what you want to accomplish. Once you know all that, everything else is much simpler.

    There are a lot of emotions involved in this issue. And while the analogy is not perfect, this situation is a lot like the teenage dramas where the nerd feel slighted by the jocks, because they don't get to play ball. And the jocks feel slighted by the nerds because the nerds look down on them. The analogy is not completely apt, because in this case both sides (military/academia) feel like outsiders, and cast the others as the insiders in their own minds.

    While it is fun to call names, and it makes for an extremely long thread, it doesn't accomplish anything. If we have learned anything in Iraq it should be that trampling all over the feelings, value system, and political issues of another culture does not get us what we want, understanding, accounting for, and capitalizing on them does. Just like the bumper sticker says, "Love begins at home," and so does political comity.
    Audentes adiuvat fortuna
    "Abu Suleyman"

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    I think the intent of the governing body of Anthros is to pick and choose what war they will participate in and under what circumstances the recipients of their sacred knowledge will apply the data. Power is the ultimate end of politics - that's the point here, not Academic contentions of inalienable rights of expression. Their stated political agenda keeps them in the status of being camp followers with moral issues and unable to deal with the reality of the fact that some in their camp will not hesitate to collude, sub rosa, with political opponents. Where comes this notion that the elite and top thinkers amidst the Anthro community are needed by DoD? Fat grants can get many Masters level Anthros with solid credentials and experience. Weeping Jesus! DoD is dynamic, not static and desperate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abu Suleyman View Post
    Let me clarify by saying that I have no doubt whatsoever that there is an anti-military bias within anthropology and many other social sciences. To be utterly fair, though, there is also an anti-academia bias within the military. If you doubt this, look at all the name calling on this site. I cannot speak knowledgeably on involvement in general, but anecdotally when I took anthropology I was told a story about a man who became peripherally involved in his PhD. thesis, and when it came out a fist fight erupted between the the PhD. candidate and the Dean who wanted the document back, because it violated the norms of the science. (In the interest of full disclosure, that anecdote may actually relate to Sociology, I have forgotten. The similarity between the two fields allows some leeway in anecdotes, I believe.)

    All that notwithstanding, it is probable that a large portion of this conflict with one group trying to impose its views on another, is a reflection of a power struggle that seems to be typical within the social sciences (political science and economics being notable exceptions). Specifically it is between the "Ivory Tower" scientists who traditionally have power in professional associations, almost always have PhD's, and so on, and the practitioners, or rather those who go and work for government, think tanks, or in general try to change the world we live in.

    This little scrum is almost analogous to our current experience in Iraq. The military doesn't have enough knowledge of the human terrain to make good decisions, and apparently inadvertently has wandered into a turf fight in an unrelated area. It is almost like the military needs HTT's for academia.

    Sincerely though, the keys to success here are the same as anywhere. In fact they are in the first two paragraphs of an OP Order. First you must know your own strengths, and weaknesses, which in this case is our own prejudices. You don't have to overcome them. just know them, and account for it in your planning. Next know what is going on with your enemy or target, in this case the people we want to woo to the cause. Then you have to know exactly what you want to accomplish. Once you know all that, everything else is much simpler.

    There are a lot of emotions involved in this issue. And while the analogy is not perfect, this situation is a lot like the teenage dramas where the nerd feel slighted by the jocks, because they don't get to play ball. And the jocks feel slighted by the nerds because the nerds look down on them. The analogy is not completely apt, because in this case both sides (military/academia) feel like outsiders, and cast the others as the insiders in their own minds.

    While it is fun to call names, and it makes for an extremely long thread, it doesn't accomplish anything. If we have learned anything in Iraq it should be that trampling all over the feelings, value system, and political issues of another culture does not get us what we want, understanding, accounting for, and capitalizing on them does. Just like the bumper sticker says, "Love begins at home," and so does political comity.
    Very thoughtful post. Having lived at the intersection of academia and the military for 20 years, though, I personally think there is less hostility toward academia in the military than there is hostility toward the military in some niches of academia. In fact, I was amazed at the deference I received when I left civilian academia and went to work with the military.

    I'll admit I've done a lot of the name calling myself in these exchanges but, to be frank, I think I have the academic credentials to justify my criticism of academia. I kind of feel like I have the right to criticize things that I "am"--academia, Southerners, Appalachia, etc. And, let me note, my name calling has not been targeted at academia in general but what I personally consider some of the hypocrisy and blindness that is common in some niches of academia, specifically the tendency, in this case, to couch what is, in reality, a ideological attack in terms of professional ethics, and a longstanding propensity to cast American actions as evil while failing to grapple with the real evil that lies at the root of many of the conflicts we become involved in.

    I'll stand by my contention that doctors Gonzales and Price, as well as the Executive Board of the AAA are hypocrits with badly distorted ethics.

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