Lt. Col. Bob Bateman “Apologizes for the Future”?

A U.S. military officer assigned to the Pentagon, who had ample room for play on this blog with 27 comments posted (updated: now 32), and who objected to finally being banned after posting ad hominem attacks against myself, has now apparently decided that veiled threats will win him space. He is right — see this comment approved today:

Well, at least I now know that you, at least, see what I type. That evidence, at least, now exists for your readers. As does the fact that you ban free speech on your site. Since your readers now see that you openly posted, “This is from the man who is now claiming that I “silenced” him and tried to avoid him challenging my ideas. Of course, he is saying that in private, because he has been banned from this blog and has sent four more messages nonetheless (not included in the list above).”

Well Max, I really could not contrive a confession of oppression of free speech or discourse any more clearly than the way you just laid it out for your readers. Well played son. Well played indeed. “He claimed I ’silenced’ him” and “he has been banned” are wonderfully juxtaposed.

“OPEN” Anthropology.

Regards Max. And I apologize for the future. Not really my fault. But I am sorry nonetheless.


My response:

You apologize for the future. It was worth approving your message just so that others can see the veiled threat.

It is OPEN Anthropology…just no longer open to you, and your kind. You had your say, and became repetitive, and rather obnoxious, especially as you turned some of your comments on this blog into ad hominem attacks toward someone (me) who had been very analytical, even handed, calm, and reasonable with you. But then the military wolf in sheep’s clothing is all ready to pounce, eh Bob?

Remember, you have a right to free speech. But not on this blog: it is a privilege, and you abused it.

This is the degree to which Bateman was silenced on this blog — an index of all the comments he posted that appeared:

BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/18 at 10:34am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/18 at 10:26am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/18 at 7:44am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/14 at 11:05pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/14 at 10:30pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/11 at 7:16pm

BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/11 at 7:08pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/11 at 6:05pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/11 at 1:41pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/11 at 12:46pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/11 at 9:07am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/11 at 8:53am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/10 at 9:27am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/10 at 9:24am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/10 at 9:07am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/09 at 7:32am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/09 at 7:28am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/04 at 9:58pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/04 at 9:35pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/04 at 1:20pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/04 at 12:54pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/04 at 12:44pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/04 at 12:23pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/04 at 12:11pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/04 at 10:37am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/04 at 10:35am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/04 at 9:16am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/04 at 8:44am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/04 at 8:04am
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/03 at 2:18pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/02 at 2:13pm
BOB BATEMAN: Submitted on 2009/03/02 at 1:33pm

Bateman will of course deny that any threat was implied, that it is the working of a paranoid imagination. When someone in the most powerful military institution on the planet apologizes to you personally, for what will happen in the future, what kind of statement is that and what is intended? We shall see shortly, I hope.

Bateman will also repeat his lie of not engaging in ad hominem attacks. This one was the last straw, originally posted here (my responses followed it there):

…your apparent lack of eductation on military affairs and international relations. But then, of course, you are a minor teacher without a single published monograph, so I suppose you have to try and make your academic mark somewhere, eh? Anything for tenure.

Not only is it ad hominem, it is a basic lie. Mission accomplished, Bob, you live up to the values of your institution. An academic, you are not, not even a good poser and pretender.

Well, Bob, you wanted attention, now you got it. You have all of our attention now, with your very own post on this blog, all about you. Is this what you wanted?

Friends and interested parties can also reach Bob at any of the following IP addresses from which he likes to post:


20 thoughts on “Lt. Col. Bob Bateman “Apologizes for the Future”?

  1. I might also suffer paranoia, but i clearly read those apologizes as an implicit (but not too subtle) threat.

    And reading a part of Bobby-“i write, teach and fight”-Bateman’s comments, i see this last one as a childish and futile revenge after loosing the game with knowledge.
    I mean childish and futile because it sounds, to me, as when an angry child threats another one like this : “I am going to send one million alien robots to kill you and your familiy, and then we’ll see who will look clever !”

    However, the fact that the guy belongs to the US military makes the threat a bit nastier.

    And all those threats will not help me getting rid of my paranoia.

  2. I would love to see a similar list of my comments posted on the Pentagon website, while Free Speech Bob is here moaning about how my peculiar and particular definition of openness does not meet his standards of free speech, oh poor little dissenter that this Pentagon officer is.

  3. Now, I would really like Bob Bateman to make much more explicit here what he meant by “Apologizes for your future”, as he repeated it once more. But maybe he’ll just apply some ex-NATO-generals “psychology”, that is to create uncertainity in your opponent’s mind (cf. that nihilist and illusory : Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World).

    And as Max has noted, it might be appropriate to apologize for Bob’s future (and for the future of his employers much more so), if Thucydides was right when he wrote that the kind of history represented by the Peloponnesian wars is to be repeated, again (Cf. Marshall Sahlins, an Empire of a certain kind, in Bruce Kapferer (ed.), the World Trade Center and global crisis: critical perspectives, Berghahn Books, 2004.).

  4. Frenchperson,

    I am much more of a Herotodus follower than a Thucydides guy. I started with T, of course, as a youngster, but as I got older found H much more applicable. You should try him.

    Bob Bateman

  5. Funny, I’m a pretty paranoid person, and all I got form Bateman’s apology was a great deal of sarcasm, along the lines of “you’re blaming everything else on me, so I apologize for every bad thing in the world that happens in the future as well.”

  6. Bob,

    I didn’t want to advertise for such or such greek historian as much as I wanted to drive your attention on the problems and consequences inherent to Imperialism as a democratic mission.

    And you still did not make explicit what you meant when apologizing for Max’s future, which is the main subject of this thread. I am not savvy enough to get the true meaning of your apologizes by myself. You would be a gentleman to allow me to know, unless you consider me as an opponent that has to be kept in awe.

    Finally, I think it might be more appropriate to apologize for your real wrongdoings here than to apologize for anything else.

  7. French,

    Angst got it right. It was sarcasm.

    But the war between Athens and Sparta really didn’t have much to do with “imperialism,” unless you count the warring by their respective colonies. It was Greek-on-Greek fighting between peers. So I am not really sure of your point.

    Besides, Thucydides is really something of a bore. I know that sounds strange, coming from a military historian, but his style of history, which is all about the “great man” (meaning Kings and Statesmen, but ignoring normal people and lives) can be tedious. Which is why I prefer Herotodus, who was 1/2 historian, 1/2 travel writer telling stories about people from everywhere in his effort to understand the peoples behind the war(s) with the Persian empire. (He really is a hoot. Writing 2,500 years ago, his Histories is almost like a modern travel brochure for sex tours in Bangkok. It seems there everywhere he went he asked two things: “Tell me about your gods. Tell me about any strange sexual practices or stories you have.” Which, I suppose you might say is a very direct way to get to know about a culture. Cuts to the chase as it were.)

    And for imperialism I would also think one would study the Persian empire under Darius and Xerxes, rather than the Greek-on-Greek fighting of the Peloponnesian War.

    Bob Bateman

  8. Bob,

    It was sarcasm. Fine.

    Maybe you could read the article I indicated above, to be more sure about the point. It is not my point, but Marshall Sahlins’ one. It seems that talking about the imperialism (of a certain kind) of Athens at the time is quite relevant, and the implicit comparison (not identification) that Sahlins makes might be useful to think the present.
    And if i have a point, it is simply that imperialism is often a sign of hegemonic decline.

    Finally, it seems you were wrong when complaining about “free speech” here.

  9. Frenchperson,

    Do you have a link to the article? Be happy to add it to my pile of ‘to do’ readings, and might have a quick turnaround. It seems curious though. Athens was the democracy. Sparta was the monarchy. Both had what we might now call “overseas bases,” but they really were nothing like today. For starters, several (if not most) of them were ‘fresh startups’…meaning that there was nobody there before whom they took over or displaced. Which hardly seems the same as, say, the British version of imperialism. But please, send me a link if you have one, and I’d be happy to read Sahlin’s thesis.

    No, Max did indeed censor me, and he controls what is or can be posted here. There are several things that I wrote before I realized that he was not allowing them to be seen and that he had placed some sort of auto-block on me. He changed his mind later, apparently. I cannot accurately speculate on why. I only have hunches. But that’s not the same thing.

    It might have been the response I gave, pointing him to a couple dozen official DoD blogs where he, himself, could submit his own comments to his heart’s content. (In response to his query. Posted several days after he initially banned me.)

    Or it might have been the weight of irony, that he (an academic) was imposing censorship. (Double irony that he was imposing it on a soldier, as traditionally in the 20th Century it was the other way around.) (Triple irony that he supports free speech for Ward Churchill.)

    I don’t know. Not really my business.

    Bob Bateman

  10. Well, none of that speculation is correct in fact. By the way, thank you frenchguy and angstboy for your comments here.

    Bob had complete freedom to post, and did, in copious amounts. However, I do have my limits: when people start posting personal attacks, that are completely gratuitous, I make a choice: either respond in kind (which I have in other cases, and then there is an overall downward spiral in the quality of the discussion) or simply block the person.

    Keep in mind: this is a blog, my blog, and not “academia.” So whatever standards may apply within the walls of academia — and personal attacks and veiled threats do not meet any of the standards for acceptable and appropriate speech — do not necessarily apply here. This is not part of my paid job, nor an extension of my academic work. In fact, it was deliberately created precisely to get out of the academic framework.

    The reason I unblocked Bob is that he seemed to be calming down. I was also sure that he would want to apologize, not for the future, but for his very statement which has now circulated very widely and received a great deal of very negative commentary by both friends and colleagues, and apparently some readers here too.

    Otherwise, there is absolutely no irony or contradiction at all in blocking this space from military occupation — in fact, that would be one of the aims of this blog. I am also sure that everyone has taken note already: when the military academic is faced with an obstacle, the ultimate card up his sleeve is that of the threat. Since I do not work for the world’s largest killing machine, this is not an option for me. Bob would like to claim an advantage on every level then.

    If Bob hates censorship so much, he should get out of the military.

  11. Bob,

    You didn’t understand. You were wrong.

    He censored you for good reasons, that is, you insulted him in a pretty disgusting manner on his blog. And you seem unable to apologize frankly, and leave decently.

    That is what I meant when I wrote “you were wrong when complaining about free speech here”. And if you cannot agree with that, then I see no point in arguing further.

  12. Max,

    It is indeed your site. Although I don’t know where one draws a line about a seperate space called “academia.” You are an academic.

    A short sidebar:

    It would seem like a double standard is in place in your thinking on this Max.

    For example, you insist on focusing on my military background. You ascribe what I write to ‘the military’, though I am writing it as a private citizen. That may be fair, that may not be, it doesn’t really matter. The point is that you’re consistent in that conflation.

    But at the same time you say that this is not “academia”, though you are an academic. Like me being a soldier, it’s not something that it would seem that you can turn on and turn off. I’m still a soldier, even when I am asleep in bed. You’re still an academic, even when you are asleep in bed. If I had a blog, you’d call me a mil-blogger. (Because I am in the military, and it is a blog.) You have a blog, and people (not me by the way) associate it with academia. Even if I told people I was not writing about the military, they’d still call any blog I ran a mil-blog (more than likely.) So it’s the same for you. You don’t *want* it to be any part of ‘academia,’ but people will catagorize you that way nonetheless.

    In case you missed it Max, (the accurate assessment by Angst) my comment was sarcasm. I was apologizing for all of your future history, since you blame everything on the military anyway. My only advantage, apparently, is that I have a sense of humor which is apparently lost in this venue.

    I don’t suppose you’ve ever seen Monty Python’s The Holy Grail either, eh? So no point in drawing parallels with that either. (“Come see the violence inherent in the system!”)

    Bob Bateman

  13. MAX,

    BTW, I’m going to send you an off-line question about Ward Churchill. I’ve been reading up on the case here, and through some of the links, and I’m still unclear/undecided on some points. As one of his partisans, I thought you might be able to answer/explain something that confuses me.

    Bob Bateman

  14. Alright Bob — let me outline how one draws a line between different spaces. This blog is not an academic blog in a number of ways:

    (1) it is not being used for career advancement, for promotion, merit pay increases, etc. (although, it would be very comical to submit it for such purposes).

    (2) except for some very broad themes, it is unrelated to my core research and teaching. I must admit, however, that it has opened up certain academic opportunities, in terms of invitations to conferences, writing in an association newsletter, interviews with the press, and inspired in large part by what has been reviewed on this blog, but more so by the work of David Harvey and others, I am to teach a course on “The New Imperialism” next year.

    (3) it is not written and presented in an academic style, and very often it does not focus on issues and themes that are commonly found in academic anthropology.

    In other words, it would be the same as my joining Canada’s New Democratic Party, working on a campaign, doing research for that campaign, and then going back to my Department and listing my NDP work as academic work that should be considered for purposes of promotion. It is just not done. They are deemed to be totally separate spheres. In the NDP context, I would be a NDP campaign staffer, not an academic.

    You say that you write in a private capacity — that’s fine, except that you also write directly from the Pentagon. I never use university resources nor my time at the university to work on this blog. It would be impossible anyway, since I no longer keep a working computer in my office. In addition, my university provides no computers to faculty, and the Internet account I use is a private one.

    Finally, I am glad to hear that what I understood to be a veiled threat was simply your attempt at humour. I still don’t get it, but anyway, I’ll take your word for it.

  15. As Dr. Emmett L. Brown might have said, “Let’s get back to the future.”

    In puzzling over what Bob Bateman meant by “apologizing for the future,” he gives us an important clue in his preference for Herodotus over Thucydides. Herodotus was a “human terrain” kind of historian and writer. Thucydides was more of a “just the facts, ma’am,” kind of writer. See a good student paper on the comparison over their historiographical methods A brief comparative can also be seen over

    And, so we come to the Information Age where the human terrain is the high ground. Views differ in how to seize that high ground and how to gain “information superiority.” Edward R. Murrow basically said, “Just tell the truth.” In May 1963, then as the Director of USIA, in testimony before a Congressional Committee, Murrow summed up his view: “American traditions and the American ethic require us to be truthful, but the most important reason is that truth is the best propaganda and lies are the worst. To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful. It is as simple as that (”

    An alternate view has been reported over that describes the old Rumsfeld Office of Strategic Influence that brought together public affairs and psychological operations. When critics complained that Rumsfeld was setting up a propaganda arm, he gave up the name of the office, but not the apparatus, nor likely the apparatchiks.

    A look at shows the author (“murdoch”) of the Wikipedia article on the No Gun Ri incident (Korean War) posting a complaint on 15 July 2005. According to “murdoch” someone was continually going into his article online and trying to revise the history of a well-documented event. He found the IP address of the person doing it, and “murdoch” labeled the revisionist “a propagandist.” Interestingly, two days earlier, that same someone created the Wikipedia article on Robert Bateman using the very same IP address. See the bottom of the revision history on the Wikipedia article “Robert Bateman (historian)” over

    So, why was Bateman apologizing for the future? Perhaps because he has been rewriting history as a means toward winning the human terrain high ground for the United States. In reinventing the past, he hopes to change the perception of the global audience for the national interest. And, like Herodotus, the onus is on the reader to decide factuality for himself.

    It is a path fraught with pitfalls, like that persnickety Smith-Mundt Act (See In a world where national boundaries are permeable and terrorists can be found among domestic audiences, it is hard not to run afoul of that Act. So, what is the way ahead for the United States in winning information superiority on the global human terrain? It is this. Do not rewrite the past. Let it stand. Apologize for past mistakes, make best amends, learn from those mistakes, and forge better memories in the eyes of the global village. In most cultures, the act of atonement is a strong currency rather than a weak one, to give an example. There are many ways to build a positive American image than revising American history. And, then no one has to apologize for the future, to those generations of our descendants whose heads might otherwise be wrapped around a sugar-coated bullshit version of America, the Universe, and Everything. That is, until somebody wanders into a library….

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