Comment from: Seriously? [Visitor]
First, Lorenz, well done on giving a fair read to both my comments and context of the colonial Indian Army quote.
Second, the Afghanistan research of the Naval Postgraduate School’s CCS is an object of scorn among military and non-military researchers alike.
Finally, let’s set aside the problem-ridden form of argumentation that leads you to re-ascribe the word “savage” to HTS, by quoting the friend of a woman who was burned alive and then had the attack instantly avenged (illegally, we can now say without doubt), and then quoting uncritically a man (Max) who has mocked the whole affair in a completely dignity-free way. Let’s set that aside and consider what HTS has said on the matter of tribes in Afghanistan on the record and out in the open on Google.
Comment from: Ben [Visitor]
maybe its worth mentioning that
the director of the naval program for culture and conflicts studies is an old affiliate with the Human Terrain System (see, e.g. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2008/04/gates-human-ter/ or
Comment from: Exactly [Visitor]
And even more worth considering that he was fired.
Comment from: Ben (really) [Visitor]
hello exactly: why exactly was he fired?
( I guess not for smuggeling non-scientific data into the HTS-databases ?
Also I’m curious: considering that the program concentrates on gathering and analyzing anthropological data - does Johnson have a previous education in anthropology?
Comment from: Don't know [Visitor]
Is the short answer, but considering what one can see of his work in the public domain, I’d guess it was for blatant inaccuracy.
And no to your second question, as far as I know. But to widen your point, I don’t think he has graduate training in any social science or humanities subject, either. Why NPS employs him is beyond me. Perhaps because academic anthropologists shun engagement with governmental programs, leaving only people like him to fill the spots.
Comment from: Ben [Visitor]
@"Don’t know [Visitor]": thanks for the quick response.
you wrote: “considering what one can see of his work in the public domain, I’d guess it was for blatant inaccuracy”
–> does that also mean / do you also guess that HTS has cut their ties with the Program for Culture and Conflict Studies or the Naval Post Graduate School’s Center for Culture (as a Center of Excellence ) as a logical consequence?
Comment from: Only guessing [Visitor]
Not knowing the details, I’ll refrain from repeating rumors that I’ve heard. But my understanding is that there are no “ties” between HTS and NPS; and looking at the NPS papers on their website and elsewhere, I would view that as a good thing.
Comment from: [Member]
Thanks to both of you for this discussion. Interesting to hear that “the Naval Postgraduate School’s CCS is an object of scorn among military and non-military researchers alike".
Is there some HTS-research on Afghanistan online that you can recommend?
How anyone can either be culturally duped or mendacious to the extreme of saying that my articles about Loyd’s death “mocked the whole affair in a completely dignity-free way” is beyond me. There was absolutely no mockery. The intention, as missed in the studied misunderstandings of self-blinding American sentimentalists, or the cynical avengers of HTS, was to get people to see the affair from the perspective of the occupied.
But then that would be treachery, n’est-ce pas? It would not exactly be authorized mission think to think against your own grain. I am not part of the mission, so tough.
The murder of a detainees was not just illegal, it was a war crime. That is also a fact. It is a war crime that was not punished as a war crime – also a fact. It also revealed that HTS hires mercenaries, previously unknown to any of us. It also involves HTS in the commission of a war crime. That someone in HTS argued at length that Afghans are savages, using their real name, writing in public, is also a fact. Being a good analyst demands that you recognize the facts at least.
I think, Lorenz, that your reader/HTS shill, would like to reconstruct detached analysis as “dignity free.” Oh cry me a river then. Loyd is not more important than any of the thousands of Afghans who have been murdered by her pals, and unlike many strangers who never knew her but take her story to heart, I could not give a damn either. That is detachment. What is lacking in dignity is the sugary, elementary school sentimentalism recited by patriots who consistently fail to understand that others can also be patriots.
Comment from: A few comments for Max [Visitor]
Thanks for posting your blog address here–readers can direct themselves to it and decide for themselves whether your treatment of Loyd or of Michael Bhatia (that fake movie poster portraying Bhatia’s zombie arm reaching up out of his grave, e.g.) had dignity or self-aggrandizement as its goal.
My other comment is that I agree with you that the revenge taken on Loyd’s killer was illegal and it happened during a war. I disagree that this is a clear-cut war crime, it was simple (though brutal) murder.
“That someone in HTS argued at length that Afghans are savages, using their real name, writing in public, is also a fact.”
This is not a fact, unless you possess a piece of public writing I haven’t seen. HTS seems to have a lot of problems, but arguing that Afghans are savages isn’t one of them.
I love detached analysis, but any reader here can go to your blog and see that you are attached to an ideology that determines many of your conclusions. But that is up to them, not me, to decide.
Comment from: Sorry, one more [Visitor]
Max, you seem to imply that I think Loyd’s death was more important than the deaths of many thousands of Afghans. I do not. But you yourself have spend many more blog-lines on Loyd and Bhatia than on those thousands of individuals who happen not to be anthropologists partnering with the military.
First of all, the mockery that you think you see, dear unnamed visitor, was mockery directed at HTS’ propaganda effort. That is not Bhatia’s arm that you see: that is the original arm on an actual movie poster, where only the text has been altered.
Second, Lorenz has already linked to a piece of public writing by a member of HTS who does use the word “savages". You or some other unnamed guest objected that Lorenz was quoting *me* when in fact he was quoting Rafael Fermoselle. So that remains a fact, as stated. (see: http://openanthropology.wordpress.com/2009/05/07/whitewashing-a-us-war-crime-in-afghanistan-the-trial-of-don-ayala-human-terrain-mercenary/#comment-5280)
Third, absolutely everyone, without a single exception, in this entire debate is attached to an ideology. I am not attached to the dominant one, and in that sense I claim detachment. But I was also spoofing detachment, just to show how often those who preach it, breach it.
Lastly, have you counted the blog lines? Reams on Afghanistan appear on my blog that have nothing to do with any individuals partnering with the military in Afghanistan.
Comment from: Technically [Visitor]
Rafael Fermoselle doesn’t say that they are savages. Which was the whole point of my commenting on the original post saying that “HTS thinks Afghans are savages.” Second, I am fairly sure that Rafael Fermoselle was not writing on your blog as a “member of HTS,” since he said he was a former HTT. Third, my understanding from a cursory google is that Rafael Fermoselle is not an anthropologist, though I may be wrong about that.
On the number of blog-lines, you have far more on anthropologists in the military than you do on the life and death of ordinary Afghans. You know that perfectly well. Visitors to your blog (address above) can search your tags for confirmation, and I’ll leave it to them.
Finally, regarding attachment and detachment, I really do encourage any readers of this comment thread to go visit Open Anthropology (address above). I suspect it won’t take long for you to see that Max prefers to let his ideology do his thinking for him (the starting premise is relatively easy to identify). That is fine, and I’m sure it drives in good blog-stats from, and has given Max a name among, a certain subsection of the academic left. Good for him, but let’s not mistake it for anything other than a Glenn Beck-style performance.
This is very silly. “Technically” Fermoselle calls the insurgents, “throwbacks to the Stone Age” – sure, not “savages", just the other way of saying savages. I never said Fermoselle was an anthropologist, all I said was “member of HTS.” Does it make the comment better?
Second, you changed your focus. First you spoke of how much I had written about those HTS people who were killed, compared to what I wrote about Afghans who were killed. In fact, you said: “more blog-lines on Loyd and Bhatia than on those thousands of individuals.” And I am still saying: you’re wrong. That’s just a fact.
Finally, thanks, I also encourage readers to please visit my blog, and I thank Lorenz for his many links to it over the past two years. As for letting your ideology do your thinking for you…who are you to cast such stones when you clearly live in a tissue-thin glass house? But that’s alright, it’s only those who buy into HTS who, magically, have no ideology…even when they call others “throwbacks to the Stone Age.” Guffaw. I am happy that my writing is the bug that is clearly up your ass. It has been my pleasure.
Also, this comment from “technically” who doesn’t know the technicalities, was very bizarre:
“Second, I am fairly sure that Rafael Fermoselle was not writing on your blog as a “member of HTS,” since he said he was a former HTT.”
First of all, Fermoselle clearly wrote: “Former member of the HTS program.” I mean, can you even read?
Secondly, a Human Terrain Team is a unit that forms part of the Human Terrain System. HTS and HTTs are not separate.
I apologize for calling you a “HTS shill” previously. You clearly know too little to be a shill of any worth.
Comment from: Yes [Visitor]
I can read. Just because Rafael was once a “former HTT,” that does not mean he was empowered to speak on behalf of the whole program on the subject of whether Afghans are savages; although he in fact never does that–only you do, in your interpretation of his comment.
Readers, please visit Max’s post again and judge for yourselves: http://openanthropology.wordpress.com/2009/05/07/whitewashing-a-us-war-crime-in-afghanistan-the-trial-of-don-ayala-human-terrain-mercenary/
The people who are empowered to speak to this subject at HTS do not think or write or say that Afghans are savages, nor do they support cultural evolutionism or “Savagism". Lorenz, the author of the post above, has acknowledged this with a great spirit of fairness.
Readers, please do visit my blog, thanks. (Someone seems mistaken in thinking that I don’t want readers, bizarre.) Then we can show more courtesy to Lorenz, and stop polluting his blog with the constant shift in discussion. Feel free to post on my blog too – I won’t bite, I’ll just bite back.
By the way, since reading is definitely becoming a problem here, all that both Lorenz and I said was that a HTS researcher relied on savagism to caricature the so-called “insurgents". Read it, it’s there. That remains a fact, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, amen.
Comment from: I certainly hope [Visitor]
That Lorenz doesn’t feel polluted by my or your posting; he can please let me know if he feels that way.
What I am saying, since reading is fun, is that if an undergraduate from Concordia, or wherever, said “Afghans are living in the Stone Age, just try talking to them about feminism!” and someone on a blog started shrieking, “OMFG Concordia anthropologists believe in Savagism and caricature all sorts of fine people!” Then that would make about as much sense as what you’re claiming about HTS.
Now, am I arguing that HTS is serving itself well by providing no public face that can speak to these things, preferring to let the basket-cases of the world–Rafael, e.g.–to do their talking for them? No, I am not arguing that. But your insistence that Rafael somehow represents HTS is a wishful insistence so that, in the absence of any real evidence, your position has some support.
I’ve just come across a short article (http://anthonyclarkarend.com/armedconflict/video-human-terrain-war-becomes-academic/) showing the trailer of the the new movie “Human Terrain” ( http://humanterrainmovie.com/). According to the movie’s co-director James Der Derian and the website’s info, the movie centers around Michael Bahia and his time in the Human Terrain System until his sudden death in May 2008. Many of the “important players” in the whole debate are interviewed, including McFate, Fondacaro, Catherine Lutz, Hugh Gusterson and Roberto González from the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, alongside Bahia’s family, military personal, foreign policy experts etc.(see http://humanterrain.wordpress.com/key-participants-2/).