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It Ain't Just Killin' Applying influence, working with civil and private agencies, dealing with non-combatants.

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Old 07-18-2007   #1
SteveMetz
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Default Counterinsurgency and Human Nature

Another brain burp, this one inspired by Ralph Peters' new book:

American counterinsurgency doctrine seeks to re-make other societies in our image but fails to understand why our system works. We have not eradicated the aggression of, particularly, young males, but simply found less destructive channels for it--sports, economic competition, the sexual hunt, and combat politics.

Unless we help a culture coming out of armed conflict build these or other equally effective channels for male aggression, the conflict will reemerge or simply mutate into some other form.

A counterinsurgency doctrine which does not incorporate this raw reality is doomed to ineffectiveness.

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Old 07-18-2007   #2
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Unless we help a culture coming out of armed conflict build these or other equally effective channels for male aggression, the conflict will reemerge or simply mutate into some other form.[/I]
Has the coalition set up a buzkashi league in Afghanistan?

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Old 07-18-2007   #3
SteveMetz
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Has the coalition set up a buzkashi league in Afghanistan?

RJO
That's an idea. I've heard there is shortage of goat carcasses in Afghanistan so this could be yet another use for anthropologists.

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Old 07-18-2007   #4
Mark O'Neill
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That's an idea. I've heard there is a goat shortage but suggets yet another use for anthropologists.
C'mon Steve,

you are being discriminatory, don't forget the airpower advocates.
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Old 07-18-2007   #5
Tom Odom
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Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
Another brain burp, this one inspired by Ralph Peters' new book:

American counterinsurgency doctrine seeks to re-make other societies in our image but fails to understand why our system works. We have not eradicated the aggression of, particularly, young males, but simply found less destructive channels for it--sports, economic competition, the sexual hunt, and combat politics.

Unless we help a culture coming out of armed conflict build these or other equally effective channels for male aggression, the conflict will reemerge or simply mutate into some other form.

A counterinsurgency doctrine which does not incorporate this raw reality is doomed to ineffectiveness.

Strangely enough, this is exactly why I jumped on a chance to get a DC-10 cargo flight of soccer balls for Rwanda. The simple release of playing a game for the children--survivors or killers--offered some moments of sanity in an insane place.

Tom
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Old 07-18-2007   #6
SteveMetz
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Strangely enough, this is exactly why I jumped on a chance to get a DC-10 cargo flight of soccer balls for Rwanda. The simple release of playing a game for the children--survivors or killers--offered some moments of sanity in an insane place.

Tom
You're a man ahead of your time. I attribute that to the excellent education you received at CGSC.

Last edited by SteveMetz; 07-18-2007 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 07-28-2007   #7
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Well, are we going to be the Greeks or the Romans?
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Old 07-28-2007   #8
Dominique R. Poirier
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Default The missing stage.

Steve,
You quoted at some point:

Quote:
Unless we help a culture coming out of armed conflict build these or other equally effective channels for male aggression, the conflict will reemerge or simply mutate into some other form.”
My personal opinion is that the conflict will reemerge or simply mutate into some other form if an autocratic regime doesn’t take place, owing to the obvious immaturity of this civilization which missed an important stage of its cultural evolution. I justify my point below.

We, people of the occident, have had in our history a period, first inspired by Italians, we use to call the Renaissance. The effects of the Renaissance upon our society were tremendous at many regards, arts, architecture, education, and even religion.
Renaissance brought also a new thought we call Humanism and which allowed us to get out of a primitive era we call Middle Age.

With regard for the matter at hand you brought upon, the Middle Age had a religious dimension whose use and interpretation was at that time very close to this of another people living in another region where any society is, willingly or not, influenced by other forms of religions that missed to have their Renaissance and Humanist periods. Of course, other factors, such as geography and climate imposed constraints upon those other people and their society (I am pleased with the proposals of Neil Diamond in his interesting From Germs, Guns, and Steel.)

But, let get back to Renaissance and Humanism in Europe, since some can possibly dispute my way of explanation. Actually, I feel obliged to explain myself about the influence of Christian Humanism as I learned it (essentially through the works of the historian and specialist of this period, Augustin Renaudet, who happens to be a member of my family).

It should be kept clear of argument about whether the Renaissance was Christian or Pagan and even of arguments about whether there was really a Renaissance at all. However one distributes the labels and the honorific and imprecatory designations, from the XIVth century on there existed a group of men, first in Italy and later in the rest of Catholic Christendom, proudly preoccupied with the restoration and propagation of the, say, bonea literae, the writing of antiquity, first Latin, then Greek.

With few exceptions these men of letters believed that the study of the literary works of antiquity revealed a culture not only of more reined taste than their own but of superior moral values and standards for the conduct of life; and so, vocationally for some and avocationally for others the education of Europe in these values and standards became a part of their life work.

These men are called Humanists, and with few exceptions they were Christians of some sort or another. But a Humanist who was a Christian was not necessarily a Christian Humanist in the sense intended above. In that sense not even Humanist who believed that education in bonae literae would make particular men better Christians were Christian Humanists.

Two essential traits, inseparables and interrelated, distinguished the Christians Humanists. They were ardently devoted to the literature of Christian antiquity—the early fathers and the New Testament—as to the literature of Pagan antiquity; and they passionately believed that embedded in both those literatures was a wisdom that could both improve individual men and, far more important, renovate the moribund Christian society of their own day temporarily and spiritually, in head and members. It was the conviction that they had a universal saving Christian mission that imbued with an evangelical fervor. The ultimate fruit for life of their conviction and fervor was the “philosophy of Christ” which without a distinctive physics, metaphysics, cosmology, esthetics, epistemology, or logic was not in a technical sense a philosophy at all. While abundantly learned it was anti-intellectual to the extent that it was hostile to the intellectualism represented by the theological and philosophic tradition of the European universities. It was also anti-intellectual in appealing from subtle rationalization to common sense and most emphatically from the head to the "heart," if I may say so.

Christian Humanism was thus not so much an integrated edifice of ideas as a program of actions; propaganda, and the Christians Humanists were not so much like minded with respect to the details of theological and philosophic doctrine as they were like-hearted in their hopes of social and spiritual renewal through a restoration of Gospel Christianity.

Arabs—since it is the implicit object of our comparison—totally missed this religious and cultural transformation, despite some attempts made by their own intellectuals. But the Arabic people was not, and still is not, united enough, even through faith, to make similar changes possible. Once more, I attribute this to geography, and I willingly explain why and how if ever someone wants it.

In short, my argument is that the Arabic people didn’t undergo the same cultural phases of evolution as ours, or at the same time if you prefer. Now we may possibly disagree about what are those phases. Spengler and Toynbee (I have been deeply impressed by Arnold Toynbee, I have to confess) tend to agree on a first phase that is characterized by growth, spring and childhood; a second by maturity and "summer;” and a third which is the “autumn” and “winter,” or the age of civilization and decline.
Pititrim Sorokin simplifies those three successive phases he names “ideational;” “integrated,” and “sensate.” But Nikolai Berdyaev proposes to us a more, say, intellectually accessible definition for these three phases he holds as barbaric-religious; then medieval-renaissance; then humanistic-secular.

While considering those phases, I am afraid we can hardly say that people of the Arabic region successfully got out of the first phase (as strongly suggest the characteristics of the first of these three phases as described by Pitirim Sorokin…)

But, if ever some had to dispute the actuality of my basis at this point we still have the recourse to consider those proposed by Caroll Quigley, which, for the record, are divided in no less than seven phases, namely: mixture; gestation; expansion; age of conflict; universal empire; decay; and invasion.

In fact, Quigley argues that civilizations are almost immune to invasion and conquest in the third, fourth, and fifth of these phases, but are vulnerable in phases second, and sixth.
That is, it is easy to “arrest” an incipient civilization or to conquer one that is decaying, according to Quigley. These terms may be quite useful descriptively and as hypothesis, whatever the merits of Quigley’s argument for the mechanism of change. I’ll explain the Sorokin scenario if ever someone asks me to do so, but I have to stop here this already long comment and to let speak the Anthropologists of the Council who have certainly something interesting to tell about this question.

Regards,

P.S.: The cases of the Japanese society and, to some extent, this of the Turks deserve further consideration in the frame of this question, but I hold, once more, geography as a determinant of tremendous influence.
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Old 08-09-2007   #9
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"Strangely enough, this is exactly why I jumped on a chance to get a DC-10 cargo flight of soccer balls for Rwanda. The simple release of playing a game for the children--survivors or killers--offered some moments of sanity in an insane place.

Tom"

There are several relief and development organizations that have approached this in recent years. Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF), my former NGO, implemented some successful soccer programs in the Balkans (honchoed by a former professional footballer) as reconciliation tools. This evolved into the Sports for Life program at VVAF, but it is now defunct. Very difficult to obtain institutional donor funding for such programs when there are other, more tangible lifesaving opportunities desperate for support.

I believe the "big dog" in this regard is called Right to Play, but I'm not sure. I bumped into a guy at a cocktail party during the holidays, and he was with some other not-for-profit taking this approach in the Occupied Territories, but can't remember their name.

I think these are worthy efforts, but tend toward treating the symptoms as opposed to the causes.

Cheers,
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Last edited by redbullets; 08-09-2007 at 07:39 PM.
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