House Panel Puts the Brakes on ‘Human Terrain’

It ain’t over, but it seems like HTS is at least “on hold” for now.

The House Armed Services Committee, in its version of the defense budget bill, says it “remains supportive” of HTS. But, as Spencer Ackerman points out, the committee says it will “limi[t] the obligation of funding”the project, until “the Army submits a required assessment of the program, provides revalidation of all existing operations requirements, and certifies Department‐level guidelines for the use of social scientists.”

Last year, the congressional defense committees asked for an “independent assessment” of HTS by March 1st, 2010, reviewing everything from “the adequacy of the management structure” to the “adequacy of human resourcing and recruiting efforts.” Apparently, that assessment hasn’t been delivered yet.

Read More at Zero Anthropology.

63 thoughts on “House Panel Puts the Brakes on ‘Human Terrain’

  1. Jeremy, it is not a game, and I am not playing. I take these matters very seriously, indeed. Could hardly do otherwise, since my only child, a daughter of whom I’m immensely proud, graduated from Annapolis in ’98 and has spent two deployments in the Middle East as a Navy helicopter pilot, and her husband, a Marine Corps pilot, flew an F18 Hornet providing close ground support during the assault on Fallujah.

    Like my daughter and son-in-law, I have the highest respect for genuine conscientious objectors. I have no problem with people who oppose war on moral or political grounds. I’ve been there, done that. My particular hot button, however, is the sheer bloody-minded self-righteousness of so much of what passes for argument these days, on both ends of the political spectrum.

    I’ll make you a deal. You take what I say seriously, and I will return the favor. Until then, keep your guard up. As I said, this is not a game.

  2. MTBradley,
    You’re still playing games. Jeremy’s arguments do not differ particularly from Sahlins’ or mine,
    Jeremy gets frustrated.
    soldier |ˈsōljər|
    noun
    1 a person who serves in an army
    Not all soldiers are marines, but all marines are soldiers.
    It’s simple enough. I used the word marine when I asked the question because i know it was important to him. The rest is simple logic which I think you should understand.
    “Fundamentalism of any kind always ends with planes being flown into the sides of buildings.”
    No sometimes as in your case it’s just a form of willed myopia, the sort that sometimes argues against finishing a sentence because first you have to get half way through, and half way through again, and again…

    John McCreery “Like my daughter and son-in-law, I have the highest respect for genuine conscientious objectors. I have no problem with people who oppose war on moral or political grounds. I’ve been there, done that.”

    That’s the problem with basing arguments on universal principle, you get responses based on universal principle. I can’t say I have much respect for you, your daughter or your son in law, as a result of your specific choices and or actions. I hope they live long lives, but I hope that for almost everyone. And I worry more about the 5 million or so displaced Iraqis, including the 2 million who’ve left the country. Speaking of whores, how many Iraqi prostitutes are there in Damascus these days?
    It’s not a fucking intellectual game and it’s not about your family.

  3. The rest is simple logic which I think you should understand.

    Yes, I understood your logic but I was trying to explain to you why everyone’s taking the mick—there are some terminological things you need to get right if you expect people to be able to hear your logic. If a Brit began to make his point to a group of Yanks with the words “As your own MP Barney Frank has said…” do you think the audience would take what followed?

    soldier |ˈsōljər|
    noun
    1 a person who serves in an army
    Not all soldiers are marines, but all marines are soldiers.
    It’s simple enough.

    You are still incorrect because Marines do not serve in an army, they serve in a corp. I think perhaps you are trying to say something along the lines of “not all servicemen and women are Marines, but all Marines are servicemen or women.” But that is not what you said.

  4. And I worry more about the 5 million or so displaced Iraqis, including the 2 million who’ve left the country.

    So, what have you done for them, besides whine and moan from a safe distance? This is not a rhetorical question.

    It’s not a fucking intellectual game and it’s not about your family.

    You are right that 5 million displaced Iraqis, not to mention the tens or hundreds of thousands dead or wounded, should not be ignored. But once again you are wrong.

    It is about my family—my family, their families, the families of soldiers on our side, the families of fighters on theirs, the families of people trapped in places they don’t want to be. You pontificate about arguments from universal principle, but you are the one who reduces everyone who disagrees with you to mindless automatons, who blathers on in terms of stereotypes and clichés, who gets off on indignation safely removed from serious risk, to yourself or to anyone you love.

    If you had said, “I understand how this issue is very personal for you, but don’t we have to consider 5 million displaced Iraqis, 2 million who’ve left the country as well?” there might be some point in talking with you. We might have found some common ground. Too bad it was not to be.

  5. An invasion is not a natural disaster. The civilian parents of volunteer soldiers in an invading army are not in the same moral position as the civilian population of an invaded country.

    Armies have loyalty oaths, democracies to not. Democracies need armies.
    Bring back the draft so that we have an army of soldiers torn between their obligations as free citizens and a citizenry who understands the pain of war.

    “And is, then, all which is just pious? or, is that which is pious all just, but that which is just, only in part and not all, pious?”

  6. “Bring back the draft so that we have an army of soldiers torn between their obligations as soldiers and free citizens and a citizenry who understands the pain of war.”

    As long as I’m going to lecture I should be more careful.

  7. As long as I’m going to lecture I should be more careful.

    Good advice for all of us. By the way, I, too, support a return to the draft.

    The fear of a professional military, whose members are more loyal to their caste than to the body politic is one that goes back to the founders and authors of the U.S. Constitution, whose members were well aware of the role of the Roman legions, and especially the Praetorian guard, in transforming Rome from a republic into an empire.

    There is also plentiful historical evidence that the modern social democratic welfare state, in all of its various forms, was the post-WWII creation of men who shared the experience of belonging to conscript armies in which food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, and opportunities for meritocratic advancement were considered rights owed to the soldier. In the U.S. case, there was also the groundwork laid for the Civil Rights movement by the shared experience of being thrown together with other individuals of all sorts of different backgrounds, a significant departure from armies organized in terms of units associated with particular places, as they had been at least as late as the Civil War.

    It may also be important to remember that the “citizen” of the Greek polis and the Roman state was a free man like Socrates, whose obligations to his city included bearing arms in its defense. Feminists in the military point to this example in arguing for the opening of combat positions to women, seeing in women’s restriction to non-combat roles a form of discrimination designed to deny women full citizenship.

    By a similar logic, of course, no one can be a citizen without being a soldier. Without a universal draft there can then be no universal democracy.

    Reverting, then, to our original topic—Where does this leave anthropologists who refuse to serve when called upon? I leave that as an exercise for the reader.

  8. “Reverting, then, to our original topic—Where does this leave anthropologists who refuse to serve when called upon?”
    And you return to the language of piety: the options are to serve or betray. You’re more upset by those who refuse to follow orders than you are willing to defend the war itself. That’s the definition of moral passivity,

    Defend the war as such and accept the consequences or criticize the war as such and face the consequences. Was the war was justified or not, moral or not, legal or not? I say in every case, not. Your children and you opponents both have more courage than you do.

  9. Seth. I’ve done my best. You continue to be an asshole who frames all decisions in terms of binary oppositions. To call you a “useful idiot” would be too high a compliment.

    Our choices are not always black or white, good or bad. We frequently find ourselves in situations where we have to make choices that we wouldn’t make if we could press a reset button and start over with a clean slate. As we have all said, this is not a game.

    I opposed the wars as immoral and illegal before they were started. Both are, in addition, mammoth clusterfucks. That is the point to which Howard Dean spoke so eloquently. We cannot simply decide “bad idea” and say “no more, it’s none of our business.” The patient is on the table and the decision that nothing more can be done, put in the stitches, hide the mess, prescribe morphine and walk away has yet to be made.

    You don’t understand that. I’m not surprised. Nothing in what you have said suggests a mind capable of empathy or understanding that transcends cliché and self-righteous anger.

    Now I do have descended to ad hominem, albeit well-justified. To me that is a signal that it’s time to end this discussion.

  10. Seth. I’ve done my best. You continue to be an asshole who frames all decisions in terms of binary oppositions. To call you a “useful idiot” would be too high a compliment.

    Our choices are not always black or white, good or bad. We frequently find ourselves in situations where we have to make choices that we wouldn’t make if we could press a reset button and start over with a clean slate. As we have all said, this is not a game.

    I opposed the wars as immoral and illegal before they were started. Both are, in addition, mammoth clusterfucks. That is the point to which Howard Dean spoke so eloquently. We cannot simply decide “bad idea” and say “no more, it’s none of our business.” The patient is on the table and the decision that nothing more can be done, put in the stitches, hide the mess, prescribe morphine and walk away has yet to be made.

    You don’t understand that. I’m not surprised. Nothing in what you have said suggests a mind capable of empathy or understanding that transcends cliché and self-righteous anger.

    Now I too have descended to ad hominem, albeit well-justified. To me that is a signal that it’s time to end this discussion.

  11. Now I read your earlier defense of Dean. I scanned it earlier but that’s all.
    His argument was self-serving and shallow, but you can’t expect anything else from a politician. Still it’s a position and you defended it so I apologize for saying you’d never stated one. Of course we’re now legally obligated to leave. We signed a treaty. But being good doctors we’re going to ignore it.

    “Seen in this light, the anthropologist whose delicate sensibilities prevent the use of what he or she knows to minimize the damage of a war underway looks more like a nurse who runs away because she can’t stand the sight of blood ”

    If all I recognized were binary opposition then I would be praising Saddam Hussein along with opposing the invasion. But again I’m with Sahlins: nurses who stay are accessories to a crime. Your delicate sensibilities can’t seem to understand that sort of personal responsibility.

  12. I think it’s important to understand that we don’t live in the world we want, we work with the world we have.

    Having been in both the navy and army at different times in my life, I would be against a universal draft, simply because it is very difficult to manage soldiers or sailors. I can’t imagine what it would be like to manage kids that didn’t chose to be there, even if they had no idea what they were getting into. I don’t think that people should be forced to fight wars they are against.

    Instead, I think we should encourage a couple of years of service of some kind after high school. The peace corp, americorps, something like that. Serving something greater than one’s self is something that people really need to do early in life. We have become a very narcassistic society.

    As for stereotypes of military folks, I think this video will clear that up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKL8w-_zC_s

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