No good news: In France, they shut down anthropology, in the US, we see the sell-out of our disciplin: "U.S. analysts are starting to apply anthropological models to trying to understand and fight the Iraq", according to United Press International.
Anthropologist Montgomery McFate (we know her from previous debates on ethics) works at the Institute for Defense Analyses and cooperates with the US government in their so-called "war against terror". Speaking at a conference, she argued for an "increased understanding of the tribal nature of Iraqi society (!)" as this would "benefit the U.S. forces by enabling them to adapt to the enemy"
McFate has suggested that knowledge of Iraqi tribal groups is useful because it can provide an insight into the reasons for insurgency. In tribal societies, honor is a measure of status. Traditionally, challenges to group honor have been met with violence, and thus the current bombings are a response to the coalition presence.
By working within the Iraqi cultural framework, coalition forces may be able to forward their strategic goal, the creation of a stable society. McFate said blood feuds regulate tribal balance in Iraq. Upon the death of a clan member, it is the duty of the kin to seek violent retribution. This rudimentary justice system provides all groups with an incentive to restrain members, and acts to constrain inter-tribe conflict.
>> read the whole story (link updated)
I look forward to hearing you at DoD Conference Center on Friday. I will come up and say hello. If you recall, I sent the *.pdf to you from the MORE magazine November feature.
The Charlie Rose Show featuring Sarah Sewall and Montgomery McFate talked about many things that are similar to what Metro Police did in Baltimore to lower crime in the 90’s by changing to a Community Policing Model. Counter Insurgency, in some ways is a spin on a Community Policing Model used by US Police for over 2 decades. The Brits used this model, but with more of a Martial Law style of policing in Ireland to defeat the IRA.
By placing Iraqi and US Military Police, Military Intel and Contractors in an area where they can study, learn, conduct surveillance and communicate with the locals of a specific area in Iraq, they can slowly counter an insurgency and change people’s mindsets. The basics are that, this would help us in finding the bad people…the “hard-liners” and who can then be arrested, removed or eliminated. Finding the straw the breaks the camel’s back is what they are ultimately trying to do.
Much of this is a joint effort that would include distribution of reading materials, controlling news and other biometric / psych-ops programs. By having small community meetings with local politicians, business owners, and people of that community that are looking for a “positive change” is what makes the wheels spin on this style of operation. This “change” that would be the topic and discussion of meetings, would be for violence to end and for people to not live in fear. They have to re-educate and slowly change the Iraqi’s and also empower them to defeat their insurgency. Working with the local population and gaining their trust is what primarily needs to take place.
Sure there are going to be numerous ways of learning more about these people by tapping into local phone lines, seeing what they are doing on their computers, find out who they are communicating with and by putting troop / contractors out there who are going to learn their education levels / finding out what their beliefs and systems are in their native tongue. Are they friend or foe? How can we gain their trust? This is very much a surgical style of operation, compared to what has been used in the past during a War. Will it take time? Yes. Can we do this with a reduced presence of military forces on the ground in Iraq? Yes, but it will increase the amount of analysts and linguists in the rear who are going to crunch information. SPSS and Research Methods will definitely have to be used and key foreign national figures will have to be found or invented, in each region, to help guide the rest of those individuals in the local community to a positive change and outcome.
It was interesting that Montgomery McFate discussed her dissertation about Counter Insurgency Operations in Northern Ireland by the British. She said that this was where she learned most of her knowledge and information on COIN. The thing I don’t get is, Montgomery said her idea of Counter Insurgency was more hands off, when the facts are that the Brits treated Ireland very much like a Police State and Martial Law was imposed on Ireland by the UK. If one has read up on the Special Branch’s informers and their handlers, particularly since security sources have, in recent years, played up the role of a “double agent” within the IRA known as “steaknife” (or stakeknife - spellings vary), he was the key individual who was responsible for finding and eliminating three of the top leaders in the IRA. Raids on houses in Ireland occurred on a regular basis, for those who were suspected of being involved with the IRA or even being a sympathizer to the IRA. Raids purposes included the planting or removing of listening devices. A Sunday Times article (14 April, 2002) claimed the removal of covert bugs was the motive behind the raids.
So can we expect that a suspension of the writ of habeas corpus will likely occur in Iraq for the next decade or more? Who knows, but I think Montgomery McFate needs to stop jerking me off from behind and not try so hard to paint a pretty picture of how COIN Operations work. It is War, isn’t it? Hopefully things will get better in Iraq and we‘ve learned from the mistakes that have been made in the past.