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Occupying Hearts and Minds

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  • Lori Barkley
    http://www.truthout.org/043009R Occupying Hearts and Minds Thursday 30 April 2009 by: Dahr Jamail, t r u t h o u t | Perspective One of the definitions of the
    Message 1 of 2 , May 14, 2009
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      http://www.truthout.org/043009R
      Occupying Hearts and Minds
      Thursday 30 April 2009
      by: Dahr Jamail, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

      One of the definitions of the word "occupation" is: the action, state,
      or period of occupying or being occupied by military force. Throughout
      history, areas or countries occupied by military force have always
      resisted, and this resistance has caused the occupier to devise more
      suitable methods of subduing the population of the area being occupied.
      The US military has sent shock troops, which also donned helmets and
      flak jackets - anthropologists, sociologists and social psychologists,
      with their own troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of 2007,
      American scholars in these fields were embedding with the military in
      Afghanistan and Iraq as part of a Pentagon program called Human Terrain
      System (HTS), which evolved shortly thereafter into a $40 million
      program that embedded four or five person groups of scholars in the
      aforementioned fields in all 26 US combat brigades that were busily
      occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. Two years prior to this, the CIA had
      quietly started recruiting social scientists by advertising in academic
      journals, offering salaries of up to $400,000. The military's goals for
      the HTS was to have them gather and disseminate information about Iraqi
      and Afghani cultures. These embedded scholars, contracted through
      companies like CACI International, work in the project that is described
      by CACI as "designed to improve the gathering, understanding,
      operational application, and sharing of local population knowledge"
      among combat teams.

      This new form of psychological warfare is deeply disturbing. Throughout
      my five years of reporting on the occupation of Iraq, when I've asked
      Iraqis what they feel the most damaging aspect of the occupation is, I
      have been told that the occupation is "shredding the fabric of Iraqi
      society and culture." Anthropology, in particular, has been referred to
      through history as the "handmaiden of colonialism," thus putting
      anthropologists, at least those with a moral conscience, on guard
      against anything that smells like exploitation or oppression of their
      subjects. Roberto Gonzalez, an associate professor of anthropology at
      San Jose State University and leading member of the Network of Concerned
      Anthropologists, told Time magazine that the militarization of
      anthropology will cause the field to become "just another weapon ... not
      a tool for building bridges between peoples." Anthropology has core
      professional ethics standards that require voluntary, informed consent
      from subjects, and that anthropologists do no harm. How likely do you
      think these will be adhered to by the flack-jacket-wearing, gun-toting,
      embedded anthropologists working directly with regimental combat units
      in Iraq and Afghanistan?

      In an article titled "When Anthropologists Become Counter-Insurgents,"
      published in September 2007, and co-authored with David Price, author of
      the book "Anthropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Abuse of
      American Anthropology in the Second World War," Gonzalez and Price
      wrote:

      Although proponents of this form of applied anthropology claim that
      culturally informed counter-insurgency work will save lives and win
      'hearts and minds,' they have thus far not attempted to provide any
      evidence of this. Instead, there has been a flurry of non-critical
      newspaper accounts in publications including the Wall Street Journal and
      the Christian Science Monitor that portray these HTS anthropologists as
      heroically serving their nation without bothering to report on the
      ethical complications of this work. Missing are discussions of
      anthropologists' ethical responsibilities to disclose who they are and
      what they are doing, to gain informed consent, and to not harm those
      they study. Portraying counter-insurgency operations as social work is
      naive and historically inaccurate.

      In fact, David Kipp of the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort
      Leavenworth, Kansas describes HTS teams as a 'CORDS for the 21st
      Century'-a reference to the Pentagon's Vietnam-era Civil Operations and
      Revolutionary Development Support project. The most infamous product of
      the CORDS counter-insurgency effort was the Phoenix Program, in which
      CIA agents collected intelligence information used to 'neutralize' (read
      assassinate) suspected Viet Cong members. Between 1968 and 1972, more
      than 26,000 suspected Viet Cong were killed as a result, including many
      civilians.

      Kipp's comparison of HTS and CORDS begs a series of ethical questions
      which have gone unanswered. If anthropologists on HTS teams interview
      Afghans or Iraqis about the intimate details of their lives, what is to
      prevent combat teams from using the same data to one day 'neutralize'
      suspected insurgents? What would impede the transfer of data collected
      by social scientists to commanders planning offensive military
      campaigns? Where is the line that separates the professional
      anthropologist from the counter-insurgency technician? Although the
      answers to these questions are not clear, the history of anthropology
      should give us pause. During World War II and the Cold War, US military
      and intelligence agencies tended to use anthropologists' work to help
      accomplish immediate goals, and discarded all other information that was
      counter to their beliefs or institutional models.

      Adding credence to the points made by Price and Gonzalez is the fact
      that one of the top ten US defense contractors, Science Applications
      International Corporation, which has been operating in Iraq since the
      beginning of the occupation, describes anthropology in its job
      advertisements as a "counter-insurgency related field." Marcus Griffin,
      an anthropology professor, while preparing to deploy to Iraq at part of
      an HTS team, boasted on his blog, "I cut my hair in a high and tight
      style and look like a drill sergeant ... I shot very well with the M9
      and M4 last week at the range ... Shooting well is important if you are
      a soldier regardless of whether or not your job requires you to carry a
      weapon." Nevertheless, proponents of the program attempt to dismiss any
      ethical dilemma encountered by the embedded scholars. Montgomery McFate,
      a Navy anthropologist, described HTS as an effort to anthropologize the
      military, not militarizing anthropology, told Time, "The more
      unconventional the adversary, and the further from Western cultural
      norms, the more we need to understand the society and underlying
      cultural dynamics."

      The program is nothing new, neither for the US empire nor other empires
      throughout history. As far as the US empire project is concerned, there
      were two programs from the Vietnam era that involved anthropologists.
      * Project Camelot, in 1965, organized by US Army intelligence,
      recruited anthropologists to assess the cultural causes of war and
      violence. Despite the misleadingly benign sounding name, the project
      used Chile as a trial run while the CIA was engineering the election of
      Eduardo Frei as president in 1964 to prevent the election of Socialist
      leader Salvador Allende.
      * The second program from that era, known as CORDS (Civil Operations
      and Revolutionary Development Support), was formed to coordinate the US
      civil and military pacification programs in Vietnam. CORDS used
      anthropological data to map human terrain and identify individuals and
      groups that the military believed were sympathizers of the Vietcong, who
      were then targeted for assassination.

      It is easy to imagine HTS teams in Iraq being used to exploit existing
      fault lines between Sunni and Shia, Kurd and Arab, and even differences
      within each group, in order to invoke the classic divide-to-conquer
      strategy. For example, the Sahwa (US-created and -backed Sunni militia)
      clashing with the US-backed Maliki government in Iraq is a classic
      example of Iraqis being effectively turned against one another so as not
      to unite against the occupier. Another example would be the effective
      creation and exploitation of the myth of sectarianism in Iraq, which has
      lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and threatens to
      do so once again.

      Documentary filmmaker Jason Coppola is directing and producing a film
      titled "Justify My War." In the film, an introspective Coppola explores
      the question of rationalization of the wars being waged by our
      government, from Wounded Knee to Fallujah. I asked Coppola for his
      perspective about the ongoing use of anthropologists by the US military
      in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      This seems to be the most powerful weapon against indigenous cultures
      today. Much more powerful than F-16s and M-1 tanks. We see how well it
      worked against our own indigenous culture. You need to know a people
      before you decide what can corrupt them, what can be used to confuse,
      divide and conquer them. The strongest defense against occupation is an
      undivided, culturally rooted people, but empires don't like that.

      Commenting on experiences from his recent trip to Iraq, Coppola adds,
      "A country can rebuild itself after an invasion, but it is much more
      difficult to rebuild a culture after it has been invaded. I realized
      this seeing young girls walking the streets of Sadr City, on their way
      to school in their traditional hijab carrying their books in a backpack
      with a blond-haired, blue-eyed Barbie design on it. Confusion is sewn
      throughout the Iraq occupation, nobody trusts anybody. And as I looked
      up in Baghdad or Fallujah or Sadr City, and stared at 'Apache'
      helicopters flying overhead ... I couldn't help but to think - mission
      accomplished - certainly for the Apache people. But what about the
      Iraqis? We still don't know."

      Price and Gonzalez, along with several other scholars, felt the problem
      serious enough to have formed the Network of Concerned Anthropologists
      and drafted a "Pledge of Non-Participation in Counter-Insurgency" to
      boycott anthropological work in counterinsurgency and direct combat
      support operations. They took their stand against "work that is covert,
      work that breaches relations of openness and trust with studied
      populations, and work that enables the occupation of one country by
      another." Similarly, in October 2007, the Executive Board of the
      American Anthropological Association issued a statement that warned its
      members that activities such as involvement in the HTS program are
      likely to violate the code of ethics. As it should have, for it is
      impossible to imagine the lethality of a massive conventional military
      coupled with unconventional scholarship made into a weapon for use in
      combat, as it is in the ongoing US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
      Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist, is the author of "Beyond the
      Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq,"
      (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from occupied Iraq for eight
      months as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last
      four years.



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    • broruprecht@yahoo.com
      Thanks for forwarding this. The Truthout website version even comes with a photo, so I snipped after paragraph 1 below.  It s a pretty good summary article. I
      Message 2 of 2 , May 15, 2009
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        Thanks for forwarding this. The Truthout website version even comes with a photo, so I snipped after paragraph 1 below.  It's a pretty good summary article. I thought Camelot was earlier than stated (cut off by Kennedy in '63, NOT instituted in '65), but otherwise it describes the situation adequately. We've had years and years of Human Terrain and related articles in newspapers, NPR, and even journals.  We've even enjoyed critiques from people who wonder why Pres. Obama, as son of anthropologist Anne Dunham, continues what appears to us to be "waffling" in matters like HTS and Afghan community coordination. We have here, of course, clear proof that the Lysenko version of heritability can be debunked. Whatever traits Miz Dunham acquired were not transmitted genetically.  Gee, did mother and son talk?
        Clearly if someone were to line us all up to be informed as to why arcane foreign policy matters were becoming so irreconcileable with our professional ethics, even under Obama, we'd all have to be shot ... as the old cliche would have it.  I, for one, can understand that there is great complexity involved in trying to turn a huge "ship of state" after so many years of grotesque policy.  The vested interests alone must be terribly daunting.  Then there are those battling lawyers & such.
        Kind of on topic, the elephant still behaving like the bull in the room filled with china and crystal is that things haven't changed appreciably since the arbitrary index date of Franz Boas' letter "Scientists as Spies" appeared in The Nation in 1919, naming names in a most "uncollegial" manner.  Do you supposed spin and horribly mixed metaphors have led us all to such an impasse?
        :-)
        GT
         
        Occupying Hearts and Minds
            Posted by: "Lori Barkley" lbarkley@... lbarkley9
            Date: Thu May 14, 2009 10:04 am ((PDT))


        http://www.truthout.org/043009R
        Occupying Hearts and Minds
        Thursday 30 April 2009
        by: Dahr Jamail, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

        One of the definitions of the word "occupation" is: the action, state,
        or period of occupying or being occupied by military force. Throughout
        history, areas or countries occupied by military force have always
        resisted, and this resistance has caused the occupier to devise more
        suitable methods of subduing the population of the area being occupied.
        The US military has sent shock troops, which also donned helmets and
        flak jackets - anthropologists, sociologists and social psychologists,
        with their own troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of 2007,
        American scholars in these fields were embedding with the military in
        Afghanistan and Iraq as part of a Pentagon program called Human Terrain
        System (HTS), which evolved shortly thereafter into a $40 million
        program that embedded four or five person groups of scholars in the
        aforementioned fields in all 26 US combat brigades that were busily
        occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. Two years prior to this, the CIA had
        quietly started recruiting social scientists by advertising in academic
        journals, offering salaries of up to $400,000. The military's goals for
        the HTS was to have them gather and disseminate information about Iraqi
        and Afghani cultures. These embedded scholars, contracted through
        companies like CACI International, work in the project that is described
        by CACI as "designed to improve the gathering, understanding,
        operational application, and sharing of local population knowledge"
        among combat teams.
        [s-s-s-s-snip]





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