Monday, November 19, 2007

Letter in NYT about Embedded Anthros

"Its authors note that, far more and far less than “etiquette lessons,” as you put it, are being sought from anthropologists. The Human Terrain Teams are to provide military commanders “a culturally oriented counterpart to tactical intelligence systems.” The teams integrate anthropologists with security clearances with tactical intelligence officers and aim to “fill the cultural knowledge void by gathering ethnographic, economic, and cultural data pertaining to the battlefield” (p.12). The article explicitly likens the Human Terrain Teams to the CORDS (Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support) program from the Vietnam War. This should send a chill down the spine of anyone from your generation, since it is well known that the CORDS teams were linked, under Project Phoenix, to the targeted assassination of thousands of Vietnamese. Anthropological research was used in Vietnam to help select victims for assassination, and we fear that this misuse of anthropological research may be repeated in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite whatever humanitarian intentions the anthropologists and other cultural experts may have for participating. Further evidence of both kinetic and non-kinetic Pentagon goals for the anthropological knowledge sought can be found in a number of places, including one high-ranking Pentagon briefing posted on the Network of Concerned Anthropologists’ website; this briefing says of Human Terrain Mapping that it “enables the entire kill chain.”

more here

1 comment:

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