An open letter to the opponents of anthropologists involved in COIN ops: 


 

Out of respect for a family member in the field of anthropology, who neither endorsed nor encouraged it, I have removed my parody site.

The New York Times reports, "Col. Martin Schweitzer, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division unit working with the anthropologists here, said that the unit’s combat operations had been reduced by 60 percent since the scientists arrived in February, and that the soldiers were now able to focus more on improving security, health care and education for the population."  

Apparently, some academics are offended  by anthropologist involvement in counter insurgency (COIN) operations.  Embedded anthropologists, who are applying their skills to save lives, are heroes.  There are too many mass graves for anthropologists to work on already.  Maybe it is time for the field to help prevent such graves from being created in the first place.

The bottom line is this: COIN embedded anthropologists are making a usually academic field relevant to the real world.  COIN embedded anthropologists are increasing the sensitivity of armed forces to cultural realities.  Through their work, COIN embedded anthropologists are reducing the need for combat operations in foreign countries.  Through their work, COIN embedded anthropologists are saving lives.  They are saving the lives of American soldiers, innocent bystanders, and potential militants.  They are improving the lives of people in foreign countries with job training, economic opportunity, safety, security, and peace.

Courageous anthropologists will not protest the activities of these heroes in their field.  They will embrace and support them.  I opposed going to war in Iraq.  But, the bottom line is that in both Iraq and Afghanistan we Americans are responsible for the well being of those countries.  The work of these anthropologists is critical to making an area historically dominated by tribal warfare and dictatorship into an area safe for prosperity.  Anthropologists can make the difference between a US military that is a dumb tool of war or a smart tool of peace.  It is better for the world if it is a tool of peace, but it will require the involvement of skilled anthropologists if we are to make that so.

-James at From Right 2 Left