Questions and Allegations about Robert Young Pelton’s Reporting on a Human Terrain Team in Afghanistan

Robert Young Pelton, the National Geographic channel, illustration by Asaf Hanuka
Robert Young Pelton, the National Geographic channel, illustration by Asaf Hanuka

In a previous post titled, “Bumming a Ride with the Occupation Parade: A Look at Human Terrain Teams in Afghanistan,” I wrote about a new piece of “military travel writing,” specifically that of Robert Young Pelton and his article in the Men’s Journal titled, “Afghanistan: The New War for Hearts and Minds” (21 January 2009). I was not effusive in my praise of the article, but I was struck by some memorable images from a writer who, unlike myself, had actually been to Afghanistan and had traveled with a Human Terrain Team. What was also striking is that it was not the usual kind of American flag-waving piece (I don’t think that Pelton being a Canadian is necessarily the reason for this), it impressed me as written from a detached perspective of someone who was not eager to reproduce official truths, and if something was embarrassing to his hosts, he would print it without feeling he had to pay dues to wrongdoers. I did not even say this much in that post, but that it resembled other writing, but with less ambiguity and cover for the Human Terrain System.

Have I now been given reason to doubt the integrity of Robert Young Pelton, and to retract what I think was valuable about his article? Not necessarily. Yet, there are some questions and allegations that are circulating about Pelton’s “real motives” in writing his article, and these pose additional challenges for analyzing the merits of his work in Afghanistan. Moreover, Pelton himself has, I believe, tended to make matters worse by allegedly threatening at least one critical blogger with a lawsuit on the grounds of libel. (see here, and here). I would prefer to see an open discussion and an airing of all possible facts, rather than trying to silence anyone. In extreme cases, yes, one has to proceed to court, but I am not sure that we have reached such extremes yet.

Who is Robert Young Pelton (aka RYP)? What is Praedict?

The first thing I confess is not doing any research into the background of RYP, primarily because I did not feel it was necessary. I do not need the speaker to be “the right kind of person” before I can quote his/her speech. If Adolf Hitler says, “When there are no clouds, and the sun is shining, the sky is blue,” then I say, “I agree with Adolf Hitler.” That Hitler may be a megalomaniacal, mass murdering scumbag is besides the point if he makes an observation of fact that can be validated, or better yet, a view that meets with considerable intersubjective agreement.

Old Blue,” the same critical blogger I mentioned above, who writes at Bill and Bob’s Excellent Afghan Adventure, wrote a series of sharp criticisms on my post about Pelton’s article, starting here, claiming (to summarize) that my personal bias allowed me to accept a hack piece that was packed with lies and distortions, and that Pelton had personal business interests for tearing down the Human Terrain System. So this is where this new story really begins.

On his Come Back Alive site, Pelton describes himself in Indiana Jones-like terms that connote danger, adventure, conflict, intrigue, and travel to distant exotic lands filled with guerrillas and mercenaries. He is not marginal in the mainstream media, having produced reports for CNN, CBS’ 60 Minutes, ABC News, the National Geographic Channel, and the Discovery Channel where he has/had his own show called, “The World’s Most Dangerous Places.” (In a map of his world, he ranks Canada as “a vacation with grandma,” and Afghanistan as, “could be your last trip.” Interesting. In my world a vacation with grandma would have been my last trip.)

I would wager that for most anthropologists, all the wrong alarms are sounding now, loudly.

Pelton portrays himself as a bit of the renegade, and he says about himself that he,

“is known for overcoming extraordinary obstacles in his search for the truth. He has made a career of bypassing the media, border guards and the military in his goal of getting to the heart of the story. In his travels to and through the world’s most dangerous places, Pelton has shared risks with his hosts and often has become the sole surviving witness to history-shaping events. His recent journeys have taken him inside the siege of Grozny in Chechnya, the battle of Qala-I-Jangi in Afghanistan, the rebel campaign to take Monrovia in Liberia, inside the hunt for Bin Laden in the Tribal Areas with the CIA, with insurgents during the war in Iraq and running RPG Alley every day for four weeks with Blackwater in Baghdad.”

(I emphasize some words above for purposes that will become apparent below.)

A speakers’ bureau, the Lavin Agency, describes Pelton in these terms:

Robert Pelton’s continuous quest for knowledge and understanding has taken him to remote and exotic areas in more than eighty countries. Among his collection of unbelievable experiences are tales of survival in war-torn Central America, his role in organizing the world’s first television interview of Taliban leaders, and his capture by death squads in Algeria. In his presentations, Pelton never romanticizes war or conflict-he simply takes the opportunity to tell American audiences about the reality of life in other parts of the world, unfiltered by the agendas and political calculations of the mainstream media.

(Going to “remote and exotic” places — no romanticism here? A simple and unfiltered agenda, outside of the mainstream? Let’s see. What we do know is that Pelton has also worked for the mainstream media, and there seems to be a recurring theme of tension, the inside-outsider, the outside-insider, perhaps part of the mystique cultivated by Pelton or others…such as anthropologists in fact.)

Pelton is also a partner of Eason Jordan, the former Chief News Executive for CNN, in a business venture called Praedict. (Jordan resigned from CNN over remarks he made at a Davos forum about U.S. soldiers targeting and killing journalists in Iraq.) Members of the advisory board include Ted Turner. Praedict, which runs “IraqSlogger,” describes its mission and services as follows:

“Praedict offers the next generation of media and insight. We are a group of well known professionals who have come together from media, marketing, and military backgrounds. Praedict’s CEO is Eason Jordan, and its president is Robert Young Pelton. We offer a synthesis of real-time news dissemination, customized content, and analysis distributed through web-based technology. The business is designed to meet the demanding requirements of news consumers, companies, governments, and NGOs operating in high-risk environments.”

On his own site, Jordan says the following about Praedict:

Praedict is an innovative war zone-focused media company providing customized, up-to-the-minute news, insights, and safety tips to those in harm’s way and their employers. Praedict’s businesses include International Safety Networks and IraqSlogger. Eason Jordan founded Praedict and is its Chief Executive Officer. Robert Pelton is Praedict’s co-founder and President….Jordan felt a top-notch news and safety tip service produced for employers and their employees in war zones would empower those at risk to make more enlightened judgments about their movements and actions–perhaps saving lives.

It’s important to read these descriptions carefully. The passages and words I emphasized are there as clues to how some might read the allegedly “true” intentions of Praedict. I say alleged because nothing is yet proven conclusively. I can find no actual Praedict nor International Safety Networks websites as such. For the latter, all that I found of any substance is this entry, which speaks of ISN as a management consulting service with annual sales of $12 million.

(Please note: the description of Praedict from IraqSlogger seems to have been recently revised, and apparently I quoted the newest version without knowing the contents of what the page stated previously. The page has changed between 22 February and early on 24 February 2009. To see that older page, click here. It would seem to furnish much more suggestive material about some of the aims of Praedict. Praedict appears to sell itself as a marriage between journalism, intelligence, and espionage, a troubling hybrid that might alarm some journalists the way HTS alarmed anthropologists. It claimed to offer its services, “for much less than the price of a single seasoned intelligence analyst.”)

Is there a controversy?

One has to sort what are petty quibbles over descriptive details from larger issues of interpretation and perspective. Let’s turn to some of the larger allegations:

(1) Because Pelton has a business interest, his agenda slanted his writing about the Human Terrain System

If necessary, re-read the business descriptions of Praedict above. Some, like “Old Blue,” suggest that these business ventures are designed to muscle in on the Human Terrain System (HTS), and replace it with Praedict’s services, or to get room for a Praedict contract. Highlighting the deficiencies of HTS is allegedly motivated by Pelton’s business interest, his desire to sell a better product.

Old Blue writes the following:

In the summer of 2008, Eason Jordan, former Chief News Executive at CNN and a partner in two intelligence ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, approached COL(R) Steven Fondacaro of the Human Terrain System (HTS) with a business proposal. He wanted to sell HTS-related intelligence provided through Praedict in Iraq and AfPax Insider in Afghanistan/Pakistan to HTS. Not having any way to verify information provided through such an outside contract, Fondacaro politely declined.

Old Blue says it was “HTS-related intelligence,” but without further elaboration. While the two Praedict company descriptions above contain elements that might support this ambiguously phrased idea, Praedict does not appear to be either equipped or designed to be a HTS reincarnation, nor would it seem to have anything to offer the military  that it does not already have in abundance –rather, Praedict draws from the military.

Old Blue then explains that Pelton sought to be embedded with a Human Terrain Team in Afghanistan, without acknowledging his business connections (not that he has done a marvelous job of trying to hide them either, as we see in this very post):

“We had no idea at the time that Pelton was associated with Eason Jordan,” Fondacaro told me. Eason Jordan’s partners in IraqSlogger, Praedict, and AfPax Insider are Ted Turner, GEN(R) Wesley Clark and Robert Young Pelton.

Apparently Pelton decided against traveling to Afghanistan in the company of Montgomery McFate (the so-called lead anthropologist at the Human Terrain System), on an official visit, and decided to go there on his own. Old Blue states that there was a reason for going by himself, and in advance of his “embed”:

Pelton arrived in Afghanistan days before the embed was to begin. He spent this time in Kabul, marketing his intelligence services to International Security Assistance Force, known as ISAF, commanded by GEN McKiernan.

On September 17th, 2008, Pelton called a member of a team at Bagram Air Field (BAF,) according to insiders. In notes on the conversation, it is noted that Pelton, “bragged about his intel/HT (Human Terrain) consulting contract with ISAF,” says a source who declines to be named, citing security concerns. The source goes on to say that the contract Pelton bragged about included, “cultural advisors, area specialists, polling, and other services.” Pelton, the source explains, “claimed he wanted to see how HTS was operating and that writing an article about us was the best way to get that information.”

So what? Pelton has business interests, everyone he meets and deals with has interests. He has a business venture of some relevance, and what is the problem?

Old Blue advised skepticism, but he has only provided material that is suggestive of cause and effect relationships, but does not demonstrate them. He questions one side in the story, Pelton, but not the other side, the officials who lead HTS. Indeed, he takes their words as unproblematic, and uses them to push the allegation that Pelton’s piece was preemptive, profit-motivated, business propaganda:

Would it make his own intelligence services more marketable if HTS and its management were discredited? Was this article written to assist in furthering his business objectives?

Dr. McFate says, “I don’t feel proprietary about this. I believe in the concept and I want the Army to be successful. If Mr. Pelton feels that he can do this properly, then he can try. It’s a lot harder than it looks.”

Asked about the disturbance caused to the HTS at a very delicate time it its young history, Dr. McFate says, “It’s upsetting if this is an attempt to damage the program. This is not in the public interest.” (source)

Pelton is certainly free to use his time in Afghanistan however he likes — he does not need permission from HTS to market his goods. HTS does not own the U.S. military, nor does it own Afghanistan, nor does it own Pelton’s time. Pelton’s observations that appear to reveal serious problems with HTS are simply additions to much that we already knew about a program that has been in trouble and has indeed been restructured so as to eliminate the private contracting element. But that also strikes out Praedict. That Pelton can have a business agenda — that Hitler can be a murdering bastard — does not automatically and necessarily mean that he has to make up what he writes about, just like it does not mean that Hitler was wrong to say the sky is blue.

Old Blue may be onto something, he may even have the right hunches, but he has not demonstrated what he needs to, and he does not seem to have sufficient evidence to do so. Any supposed threats from Pelton make matters worse for Pelton: they encourage Old Blue into thinking that he really is on the right track.

(2) Pelton fabricates his material, probably because he has something against the Army or the U.S. mission in Afghanistan

Old Blue has dedicated one very long post to disputing each and every little descriptive detail in Pelton’s article in the Men’s Journal. Yet the entire post is premised on belief: what Old Blue believes to be true, without having been in Pelton’s company, without seeing what Pelton saw, or being present at the conversations Pelton had. The driving logic behind the post is, “because it doesn’t sound right to me, it cannot be true.” The post is a bit of a degenerative one, to be polite: it is loaded with snide, personal insults, against Pelton, against anthropologists, and significantly, against anyone who would dare to cast the U.S. mission in Afghanistan in a negative light as an imperialist occupation. The latter slant is what drove Old Blue to this blog, to debate me.

The focus can be on such minute detail that this bigger aim of Old Blue’s seems to be lost. He even disputes whether a helicopter was decorated with a figure of death, and later, when sent a photograph of the helicopter by Pelton himself, Old Blue was forced to publish a retraction. Old Blue had been proven wrong on one point at least — so much for belief, so much for what sounds right.

There is also a very naive logic at work in Old Blue’s approach: given the same objective realities, we will all see the same things, we will see them in the same way, and come to the same replicable and verifiable conclusions. He thinks that is “science.” It is actually rubbish. Old Blue needs to acquaint himself with Rashomon, not Descartes.

Then there is the complaint from Old Blue, as well as McFate and Fondacaro, that Pelton was not respectful towards them, towards HTS, or towards the Army’s “general orders” (such as not bringing alcohol onto a base, that apparently was already loaded with it; such as sharing a drink with a soldier who was not supposed to drink, but who did anyway, and this is Pelton’s fault). My question again is: so what? How is this bad news? How is this a problem?

One would expect, indeed, demand that these “embedded” journalists show far greater independence, not running with the grain, not deferring to authority, not submissive like partners who are not in an embed, but rather just simply in bed. This is where Old Blue’s complaints actually do the opposite of what he intended: they shore up Pelton’s legitimacy and credibility. Indeed, his apparent disrespect and renegade ways seem to perfectly match Pelton’s self-description at the top of this post.

(3) Pelton…Anti-Imperialist?

If Pelton wanted to write against imperialism, then he really fails, and would need to do a lot more work to be convincing on that front. I do not believe there is anything in Pelton’s background, his professional interests, his employment, etc., that remotely smacks of the anti-imperialist. I did not think so before, and I still do not. When Old Blue associates us, my liking Pelton because he says what I want to hear, his understanding is flawed on that very count: Pelton nowhere comes even remotely close to saying what I want to hear. What Pelton’s case does show is that anyone who writes in the mainstream media, and who deviates from either wilfull blindness or unquestioning praise of authority, will find himself set upon by a “pitchfork parade” that seeks to shame and silence — suppression of a free media, but in slow motion.

Old Blue is falling into a trap of his own making, and that is drinking from the well of Donald Rumsfeld. “Occupation” is an unauthorized word, we must never use it. (Old Blue never offered a credible alternative, let it be noted yet again.) To think that Pelton is somehow the opposition, in the same camp as myself, is to take an extreme binary view like that of George Bush: you are either with us, or against us. And you are against us, it seems, if your writing wavers in any little way from the official line. Indeed, Old Blue himself asked me to read official statements and mission statements to prove that U.S. imperialism in Afghanistan is an “occupation” — again, looking to the official line.

Conclusions? Small Potatoes Do Not a Banquet Make

In his reponse to Fondacaro and McFate, Pelton wrote the following:

Ultimately I believe any outsider exposed to what I saw would have come away with the same disconcerting sense of dysfunction, isolation and frustration but for the record that was not my goal when I first chose to focus on the human terrain program. My goal was to see the program at its best, not its worst.

Since you have the most to gain and the most to lose, I put it back to you: Why not admit that what bothered you about this article was the conduct and problems in the system? I would think that your energy is best spent on fixing the problems, not critiquing someone who points them out.

This does not strike me as coming from someone who has an alternative plan to sell, not if he wants the current one to be fixed. Either way, there is no evidence to back a claim that his motives are anti-military, or cynically guided by his own quest for profit.

That does not stop the “milblogging” pack of hounds though:

there are guys like Pelton out there who are chasing little specks of Pulitzer dust and they know exactly the tone and tenor of the stories they need to write in order to achieve their goal. They are not going to be successful due to our military men and woman who are now able to enter the debate via the World Wide Web. (source)

You can enter the debate, but you need to enter it armed with evidence, and armed with the logic to make the most sense of the evidence. Given the behaviour of the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence, there seems to be a very serious deficit on all of these fronts.

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Links to related articles and sources:

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44 thoughts on “Questions and Allegations about Robert Young Pelton’s Reporting on a Human Terrain Team in Afghanistan

  1. Thanks for the conversation, MF. The approach that you take seems to be that milbloggers like myself are stuck on the official story. If you have read my writings going back, you will see that I object to any behaviors that Soldiers or Marines exhibit which even smack of occupation. I counsel against aggressive driving and behaving poorly or disrespectfully in dealing with Afghan citizens. I show great respect for the Afghans. I read everything I could get my hands on about Afghanistan before I went there. I did my best to study both official languages (resulting in the ability to say, “Hi, how are you?” and “You behave like a hundred cats!”) I disagree that the Army is truly doing pop-centric COIN and have made no bones of that. I do not disagree that HTS has problems, nor am I their champion.

    I will always contend with any conversation that has as its root that we are a force of occupation in Afghanistan. The ultimate goal there is and will be to leave a functional Afghan state, and any conversation that does not hold that as the goal is misguided and diversionary to the point of disabling any good to come of it. Question my logic if you will, but as you point out, you have not been there and are judging from thousands of miles away what is being done. I, on the other hand, have participated in these activities and know what our driving concerns were in developing any plan of action. You contend with my experience with speculation driven by personal convictions. To me, this is so painfully obvious.

    See the disclaimer at the top of my site. That’s not there to fool anyone. My opinions are indeed my own; I am not a front man or mouthpiece for anyone. I have no personal stake in HTS, other than as a potential consumer of their products at the ground level and as a taxpayer. Having been on the ground in the absence of such products, I can see their value much more clearly than most who will read any of this or any of the linked information.

    I write from my viewpoint as someone who has been there on the ground. One does not have to be present to see a situation with which they are familiar and say, “that doesn’t make sense.” That is what I did with Pelton’s article in my initial deconstruction of it. I’m sure that if someone described a locale and ativities with which you are familiar in terms that didn’t make sense to you and in such a strident piece, you would weigh in with your experience as well. This is one of those situations. He responded by proving one contention technically false. (If I showed you the photo, you would laugh; that is why he has not printed the photos on his site, as they do not support the other contentions he made and I, being a man of my word, have agreed not to release them in order to view them personally.) I have since discovered that the characterizations made were very much less than accurate. So much so as to be skewed. Greatly skewed; in order to present a particular picture. His own photos strengthened this impression, actually. This raised questions as to why. There was also misinformation that was deliberately presented to me directly, information that I already knew to be false. This led to further questions.

    These were questions that needed to be brought into the public discussion of the issue. I have laid what I have found on the table, and there it is. I have had input from Pelton as well as Fondacaro, McFate, other journalists who have done similar embeds, and sources who choose not to be named at this point. I listened to all stories. Of all, Pelton’s were the most inconsistent and strange. You may dismiss the importance and relevance if you wish. This is a discussion of an item of public interest, as any $132 million program is.

    You left out a key line from the Praedict site, “we provide this for less than the cost of a single seasoned intelligence analyst.” Why do you compare prices with an intel analyst if there is no intel being provided? Simple question. Don’t leave that out.

    Any discussion of conflicts of interest that arise from the facts I’ve brought to light is subject to conversation and debate as well. You have now weighed in. Others have weighed in as well, and that is a healthy thing.

    Thanks for joining the discussion. Now that the discussion has taken on a life of its own, I’m sure that the public interest will be better served.

  2. Hallelujah for an intelligent blogger who can think for himself, argue with facts and common sense instead of running off on a personal-attack rant, and write a clear and interesting post. I found this Forte piece fascinating, his argument well constructed, and his cool headed analysis refreshing. Thank you for setting the record straight.

    Old Blue certainly didn’t get any taller by stepping on RYP.

  3. Old Blue, I think we will end up repeating some things needlessly, so I will be as brief as possible in responding.

    (1) Your implicit view of “occupation” seems to be unreasonably narrow. You speak of setting up a “functional” government for them, as if that is not what a proper neo-colonial occupation would do. Everywhere the British had colonies, before withdrawing they set up local government structures designed in the British image. Those became the new institutions of indirect rule, and what was really “functional” about these little monstrosities is that they functioned to integrate the new nation-states in a system in which they were historically at the losing end. You cannot set up such a state without occupation, and once set up you get a further form of occupation once-removed. So yes, I insist on the term occupation because there is no viable explanatory alternative.

    (2) You seem to be fine with disagreements and criticisms of the military…but only when they come from inside the military itself. Otherwise, you distrust the motives of someone like Pelton, who is very far from a radical, and no less of a profiteer than any Montgomery McFate, except that perhaps he has greater initiative and more imagination.

    (3) I am absolutely certain that you had significant experiences that led you to question whether Pelton was truthfully or accurately describing what he saw. I do not dispute that. Let me repeat: I do not dispute that. That does not end the problems though, it opens up a new set of problems. I have seven years experience in a place much smaller than Afghanistan, and that is the island of Trinidad. To this day I still read, with varying degrees of surprise, what other anthropologists write about Trinidad. Are they wrong? No. Our individual slices of experience, seen in our own individual ways, are just that. They are not “big pictures,” nor are they amazingly well focused either. Again, I defer to Rashomon.

    (4) You mentioned a Praedict site. I do not see that there is one, just mentions of Praedict at:

    http://www.iraqslogger.com/index.php/category/8/AboutUs

    and

    http://easonjordan.com/praedict.html

    I may be blind, but neither of those pages have the line that you said I left out. You are looking at some other site, I gather, but I don’t know which one it could be. As I mentioned, none of these companies have their own unique websites, which is perhaps the strangest thing about them.

    (5) Do you really believe that Praedict is set up to run as a HTS-like program? I think that is going too far.

    (6) Finally, I am not blaming you, or criticizing you, for making the discussion much more complicated, and for raising so many new questions. That is always a good thing. Nor am I prepared to totally reject out of hand everything you say about Pelton. I am clearly listening. All I am saying is that, right now, it’s not enough to form any firm conclusions.

    Thank goodness I was brief!

  4. MF, I never would have noticed if you hadn’t pointed it out. Thank goodness I have a screencap of it. They’ve changed the page since yesterday. No kidding. Here’s the link to the Google cached page:

    http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:SQzA515nB8MJ:www.iraqslogger.com/index.php/category/8/AboutUs+praedict&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us

    If it’s been made to go bye-bye, send me an email. I’ll email you the jpg of the screencap.

    That’s weird that the page would change like that since yesterday. Probably just normal system maintenance, I’m sure.

  5. Yes, you are right, that sentence was there in the previous version, and the page was considerably longer. No need for the screen capture though, the Google cached version seems to be pretty complete.

    Of course this opens up new questions. Why was that page revised, in that way, and at this time? I can only speculate.

    Otherwise, the image created by Pelton gets foggier by the moment: journalist, author, outside the mainstream media, inside the mainstream media, outside government, catering to government, etc. I would still need to see something less speculative and suggestive of Praedict becoming a HTS replacement. Also, it would seem to be a dead discussion, since HTS has become a fully government program. I am not sure the U.S. government is interested in any more adventures with contractors and more proofs of concept.

  6. Max,

    IraqSlogger is exactly as it appears to be: a web based information service on Iraq. I fail to see how this can replace a 120M plus program in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East who’s SOW specifically requires social scientists, reserve officers with intel experience and embedding at the Brigade Level.

    I didn’t make any changes (didn’t even know we had a Praedict site) and kudos to the anonymous blogger known as Old Blue for tripping over the next Watergate scandal. I am going to guess one of our people was updating the site (it is a 24/7 service)

    But my silence towards the obsessive fellow named Blue is simply because he has generated so many falsehoods its hard to keep up with him. I think I made my point when I presented him with irrefutable proof that he was making things up and I would have thought that he would have been more cautious and ethical in his ever increasing rounds of fabrications. Now he has dragged in the HTS team (who based on his questioning and editing) who seem to share his paranoid view of the article.

    Sadly Steve will get an email correcting his statements and I am truly impressed that he and Montgomery think that we have the power to destroy their massive program. For the record, I think the HTS program is exactly the kind of program the military needs to operate in hostile and difficult environments. End quote. Whether they can deliver on that promise is the heart and soul of my curiosity.

    As you pointed out quite logically and elegantly, if you follow the line that laid (that I wanted to understand and document the program in a magazine article with no agenda or preconceived idea then things make perfect sense) If you view this from a paranoid disconnected viewpoint then I suppose I am going to marshal the forces of evil to both destroy a program and somehow profit from that.

    One thing that I wanted to point out was how lean and hard Steve runs that program. Despite the formerly large salaries for contractors Steve squeezes every tax payer dollar he gets. He has a killing travel schedule, works out of corner and rarely gets a full night sleep. But still regardles of his Herculean efforts, the overarching question is “Does the program justify its cost” and that is the $120 – $160 Million dollar question.

    And my final note on Blue. It would be nice if “Blue” grew a real personality, maintained a logical trajectory and used measured intellectual arguments but for now I have lumped him in with all the other faceless, nameless people that spew hate in the name of patriotism and hollow anger. If you want to see the license these bloggers take, have a gander at his homoerotic fascination with my mustache and bizarre anti social behavior over at my site (no on second thought… I don’t need the hits). it iis something to behold and probably something his kids would chastise him for doing.

    Kudos to you for using logic and facts to form an opinion, brickbats to internet pageant queens.

  7. Thank you very much Robert for both your visit and your comment. As you say, it is very difficult to swallow the notion that Praedict is seeking to morph itself into another HTS. I have recommended that he reexamine his arguments, and what he advances as supporting details, as well as the way he interprets interpretations, so that pure ire does not cloud his vision. He argues that he is not an uncritical supporter of everything that is military, but at least in this instance he has clearly sided with those who protest any criticism of the military, and he has not scrutinized his HTS informants with the same level of critical questioning.

    Aside from everything: if it were in fact true, just for the sake of argument, that you were seeking to profit by advancing a competitive business plan, and that Praedict could do a better job…when did such a thing become a sin in America? I thought that the “American way” was about competition and profit. What makes the position of BAE Systems so hallowed that any move by a prospective competitor is deemed a treacherous act? In any event, it is a moot point: the government has decided to “nationalize” HTS, and it would seem that this plank in Blue’s argument has been removed. If he is looking for sinister motives, he needs to look elsewhere, not that I am encouraging him.

    Again, thanks for visiting and I will try to keep in touch with the forum on the Come Back Alive site.

  8. Max,

    Rest assured I am not trying to replace the Human Terrain System. As you are seeing in the article and this bizarre milblogger meltdown is that biggest inherent flaw is the cultural gap between the social scientist and the military. Montgomery McFate is a rebel, someone who wouldn’t let her thesis on the IRA be published because it would damage the terrorist organization but now makes money using social scientists to destroy the taliban. Steve Fondacaro although not a scientist is also a rebel, a smart, free thinking individual who is a human dynamo. I liked them and their concept but I quickly discovered that there is a gap between plan and execution. How wide that gap is remains a point of contention. There are smooth well functioning teams and some that are completely bizarre. I suppose from their response they view ANY criticism of their efforts and teams as destructive but I view their initial willingness to offer access as healthy.

    the HTS is not fundamentally a contractor concept since it is an army function and ideally one of the brigade level support functions. Knowledge of the human terrain (one of those bizarre military terms) puts a non lethal option in the quiver. Ideally these teams could conduct conflict resolution and metrics measuring performance of the military

    What the milbloggers completely ignore is the simply question: Is the HTS system working? I say no because its contentious, divisive and undermanned. Its a magic potion that assumes that regional experts who speak the local language support the foriegn military objectives in the region.

  9. Whew!

    Fondacaro made a hell of an impression on RYP. His description runs counter to what many, many people inside HTS have said and continue to say about his troublesome management skills. Mrs. McFate doesn’t not fair much better.

    Has everyone forgotten JIEDDO and GAO? His track record as a PM is not stellar.

    Not sure if anyone has noticed but it appears that each and everyone of us who touch the HTS are then immediately cursed and pilloried in one form or another. The cloud of doom surrounds this recycled concept that ignores evolutionary psychology, cognitive science.

    US Army/TRADOC HTS is a poorly managed program and the concept is nothing new. If we want to make Americans more culturally aware of the “other” then let’s start early in the K-12 process here. Lastly, Colin Gray has a thoughtful piece out about warning that the US Army, et al, should not make a 180 degree turn to COIN and SCA in practice. It’s the newest flavor sold well by the considerable marketing capability of Fondacaro and McFate. That means a lot to program life here Inside the Beltway. Perhaps an HTS team and Mr. Pelton should venture Inside the DC Beltway, deep into the perilous seat of our glorious Empire to explore the culture that tolerates the existence of programs like HTS.

  10. Weird program.

    I’ve been writing on this for too long.

    New piece on the way this weekend.

    More damage control for HTS PM will follow.

  11. Thanks John and RYP, and I look forward to the next piece John.

    I also saw that you posted on another blog that there is a play being written or produced about HTS. I would love to see that, or at least hear any more news about it.

  12. I take issue with the bizarre assertion in the second to the last paragraph above.

    I am not, however, surprised by Mr. Pelton’s need to discredit the source. I simply pulled on a thread in an ill-knit sweater and it all unraveled. As each bit came apart, it exposed more and more curious information, begging the answer to another question.

    Mr. Pelton does not anywhere contend that the information is false, but merely contends that his article was much more respectful than it was and that in his heart he had intentions of pure gold. I would like to hear the explanations of what he was marketing to ISAF and why he asserted to me that he was under the aegis of the “highest military authority in Afghanistan.”

    There is no assertion that Mr. Pelton was seeking to destroy the program, merely to perhaps damage it for some other purpose. No one contends that Pelton sought to completely supplant the program, either. Pelton makes no attempt to clarify what his actual goal is, merely to set up straw men, set them ablaze, and then knock them down.

    Instead of answers to the questions which are raised, we find childish accusations of having an unnatural fascination for his facial hair and wild insults cast about.

    Contrast this with what honestly wronged people, such as Fondacaro and McFate, provided to Men’s Journal for publication, telling their side of the story.

    The facts are as I found them after speaking to nearly every other person concerned or affected by the article, and they are posted on my site. I would be happy to consider printing any factual and forthcoming statement which Mr. Pelton would care to provide with detailed clarifications of the facts from his standpoint. What he has provided so far is devoid any other substance than, “believe me,” and contradictions of statements that he has made in the recent past.

    As a wise person once told me, “When you’re getting two different stories about the same event, someone is lying.” When every other person involved, even thousands of miles removed from each other, is telling the same story independently and without hesitation and things mentioned as casual details even match up, and one other person’s story matches nothing and is based entirely on, “believe me, I was there and this is what I saw,” there is a problem with credibility. When there is an indication of a motive for this divergence, the suspicion surrounding that individual’s statements only becomes stronger. That is just life and human nature.

  13. I’m sorry, Max, I was referring to Mr. Pelton’s bizarre comments above, specifically that I have a fetish for his facial hair, which I found to be rather strange.

    In the meantime I have indeed visited his forum seeking civil discourse and found none. I should have posted that comment in reply to the comment which I was referring to, and that would have avoided any confusion. The mistake is mine. I have since posted a comment directly in reply to that one. Sorry for the confusion, and please feel free to delete the confusing comment.

    Thanks for the conversation and your comments on my posting.

  14. “In the meantime I have indeed visited his forum seeking civil discourse and found none. ”

    Based on what I read on my forum, not only did you find civil discourse…. you and Jumper should get a room ))

    And yes Chapomatic…pageant queens that lose do cry a lot… and no…. I won’t click on the milblogs to generate clicks and revenue.

  15. I have been visiting the forum frequently and to be frank I really enjoyed the contact sport! Yes, it could have been more elevated and fair, but what I saw/read there resembled what Trinidadians call liming: hanging out, shooting the breeze, sometimes expatiating seriously, sometimes cheering, sometimes laughing…it was all good. Except for cheap and baseless innuendo.

  16. Yeah, I had fun on that post as well (I am Jumper), and I have to say that Old Blue did quite well, considering the dynamic of the flag. He went into Pelton’s house, and challenged him directly, despite the legal threats. Hat’s off to the guy.

    I think Old Blue did an awesome job of getting down to the meat of what was going on, and the various networks that follow OB are now all in the know. That is the power of new media, and despite Pelton’s legal threats, he has not been able to convince the readership otherwise in those networks.

    Pelton has done nothing but avoid the conversation, or create strawmen arguments. The typical reaction of a guy that knows he has been called out. And given my experience on that forum, that was a pretty typical reaction. I have watched him do the same for years, when ever he wants to avoid the tough questions.

    I also think that there are some in the anthropology world, that would love to see this program fail, because they obviously have a problem with the way their science is being used in the war. Nothing new there.

    Wikipedia–

    “In the decades since the Vietnam war the tone of cultural and social anthropology, at least, has been increasingly politicized, with the dominant liberal tone of earlier generations replaced with one more radical, a mix of, and varying degrees of, Marxist, feminist, anarchist, post-colonial, post-modern, Saidian, Foucauldian, identity-based, and more.”

    So when ever I see the pro or con of the argument presented, it is important to see where that individual comes from in the debate. If your science, if applied correctly in the war, could save American, Coalition and local population’s lives, and help to defeat an enemy. But the argument against, is what? It’s as if some of the leaders of this science, feel it is only the domain of those who are anti-war or anti-establishment, and my argument is that this science could actually minimize deaths in a war and help to shape the establishment’s policies. You can protest all you want, or you could actually be a part of the process to end the war through victory and minimize deaths in the process. Do you want Obama to lose this war, because a certain core of highly politicized anthropologists disagree with the use of this crucial tool in the war it seems.

    I actually had this conversation with a anthropology major here in Boise. I presented the same arguments, yet her politics and personal views continued to get in the way of the logic and reason about the concept of using anthropologists in the war. What happened to supporting your country in it’s time of need? Or getting paid well for doing a tough job? The end of our conversation ended with her not wanting anything to do with Bush’s war.(this was last summer) So I wonder how many anthropologists voted for Obama, and still hold their opinion about their use in the war? Because Obama has certainly made the war in Afghanistan a priority. What is more important, politics or using your science to help in the war effort. The election of Obama, kind of puts that argument back towards the logic and reason aspect, and less on the politics. Yet you still have these views.

    The other question I have for anthropologists, is that who are you to tell a fellow anthropologist that their service to country in this war, is not a good thing? If that person believes in their mission or job, and it is their will to participate, I just don’t see a problem with that. The government is not forcing anyone to do this, and I have not seen a draft or conscription of anthro’s which would indicate forced will. In essence, you have scientists that actually believe in this concept, and speak with action. They actually want to participate, and be a part of this new effort called Human Terrain Systems, and positively impact the war effort. Cheers.

  17. Matt,

    Lets focus on facts.

    – Blue made a number of false statements about my article and published them in the public domain
    – I corrected them, he then published a retraction and then later removed that retraction from his site
    – He then began to make more false statements (careful not to call them lies this time) and was corrected again…and again. He continues to publish his opinion that I invented elements of my article. This is false for reasons I have stated here.
    – Other milbloggers late to the game were fooled into thinking that I had threatened him or coerced him or that he was correct. He voluntarily modified his site and posted an apology…and then removed it when it collapsed his entire argument (that I had made things up) I encourage you to read Orwell to understand what this is.
    – He then asserted that I had caused problems for a certain military officer without foundation or fact. The truth is the officer was told to escort me and support my efforts.
    – He then shifted on his volition to publishing conclusive proof (I had never provided any damaging proof) that the same military officer had broken a code of conduct and I chose to delete his irresponsible statements on my site to protect that person.

    Sadly Matt I would have thought you would not be of that ilk but you play the exact same game. Disinformation is neither fact or even opinion.

    I am engaged, I answer questions, correct mistakes and accordingly people can form their own opinions on truthfullness and agenda of certain milblogger’s obsession with the author but complete avoidance of debating the root question: Is the HTT program beneficial and functional to the military and the taxpayer?

    I politely await an intelligent answer or even an informed comment or even input from milbloggers with names and field experience with the HTS. As Max has painfully pointed out here…this is clearly a discussion the milbloggers (and it appears the program executives) have chosen to avoid.

    Now when a blogger goes out of his way to provide evidence that a military officer has violated orders I think you need to think hard about who is doing what to whom and for what reason. For supporting that type of stupid conduct from a former member of the military you should be ashamed of yourself.

  18. Well, first let me commend the site owner for formulating a more logicial argument, closer to my expectations of an Associate Professor at an Institute of Higher Education than what I’ve previously found here.

    It is a far cry from the assumptions made concerning the definition of a “milblogger” in a previous article. It asks pertinent questions though it ignores circumstantial evidence and subject matter expert analysis. Still, though it can not support conclusions, it does demonstrate a more mature tone.

    It would appear that Pelton has found himself in an awkward situation, with no one granting him his bullyish demands of appeasement and silence.

    But to get to the heart of the matter: It appears that young Pelton has positions and friendships that shift like sand in the wind, depending on who he thinks will benefit him. Worse, it appears that he has the politicial tactics of Karl Rove and the manners of Emanuel Rahm. He has lashed out at anyone and everyone that dares challenge his conclusions or expertise or notes his questionable motives.

    To answer the question of why it would matter if Pelton had a profit motive (competing contract proposal to HTS) while writing the article he did: it would present a conflict of interest. If, as circumstantial evidence suggests, he traveled to Afghanistan with the concept of replacing the current program with his own and then painted a picture purposely dire of the current program and untrue, then he has abused his power of “journalism” to influence decision makers and citizenry to abandon the current program in order to be awarded the contract for his own profit.

    That would be flat out wrong. It would not have been wrong for him to present a competing bid and point out where his program could provide a superior service, but it is wrong to paint a false picture in order to achieve financial reward.

    As I point out elsewhere, milbloggers write about things they know: the military and the policies that effect it. The early articles here and the article in Men’s Journal garner outrage because they paint a false picture about the Military by those that have unlterior motives but a lack of experience.

    Also, as I point out elsewhere, the Troops are not jack-booted thugs trying to break everything. While there is a vast difference in the thought processes of Academics v. Warriors, that does not mean that both do not have a goal of peace, safety, and security. While I am not qualified to define the roles of anthropologists, I do recognize that Academics and potentially Anthropologists can play a role in ensuring the safety and cultural understanding of Afghan civilians to Coalition Troops and from Taliban insurgents.

    There would be a natural tension if Max was working with Warriors on an HTT, regardless of how much either of them believed in their missions, but each would walk away with a greater (or at least different) understanding and perhaps appreciation for what the other contributes to society as a whole.

    But just as I cannot tell Max about the socio makeup of Trinidad life, neither can he tell me what the mindset of a Warrior entering battle is. He hasn’t experienced it. He hasn’t lived it. He doesn’t understand it, even if he at some point studied and can potentially quote texts about it. Neither can he understand or explain to me the experience of walking through the Soviet era “boneyard” and seeing talcum fine dust whiffing up into the air as a man’s boot sinks 3 inches into it.

    I wouldn’t pretend to tell him that a description of Geraldo Rivera’s single visiti of the offices in his Univerisity was correct or not even though I’ve been in offices of other Universities. Frankly I’d believe him over Geraldo, not only because I know Geraldo senstionalizes and outright lies, but because Max works there and sees it on a regular basis. And this is analogous to Old Blue stating that there is no pile of brass beside a particular firing point in Afghanistan. He’s been there, to that spot on earth.

    Old Blue has expertise on Afghanistan. Young Pelton has a visit. It’s the difference between visiting a resort in Cancun or studying the Aztec pyramids for years, while working and living with the locals.

    And as I’ve said often: facts don’t change, regardless of whether or not they are “discovered” or recognized. Opinion and Perception of what is a fact does change over time, but the facts do not. The perception of eras past that the world was flat did not make it fact, no matter how many “scientists” proclaimed it so, no matter how many scholars argued it was true. The fact was that the earth is the same shape then as it is now, with a few potentially minor exceptions as changed by ice caps, volcanoes, and seismic events.

    If a man robs a bank, 5 witnesses may tell 6 stories about what they saw, but there was only one set of facts, hopefully captured by cameras. There aren’t 5 truths, only one, even if no one is purposely lying. But if one of those 5 witnesses misportrays the truth because a bag of cash ended up in his car, then that is criminal and wrong.

    And what has come out of this is just that: one person seemingly has a profit motive to use his bully pulpit to falsely portray the truth. Old Blue does not benefit from setting the record straight.

    But if the HTS program can save the lives of Afghan civilians, bring peace more quickly to Afghanistan, and allow them complete and fair self-governance, free from oppression of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, then why shouldn’t Anthropologists, particularly peace idealogues join the program?

  19. Yet another faceless expert that opines about topics and conclusions long put to bed. I may even have to post a FAQ page.

    – I am intrigued by the HTAT/HTS/HTT program because it promotes “non-kinetic” solutions.
    – Having spend almost 15 years bouncing back and forth to Afghanistan I have friends on all sies.. Yes, please don’t kill more Afghans or Americans or Canadians or Brits etc etc
    – The “war”, death, poverty, prejudice, ignorance and misunderstanding in Afghanistan has always been a constant backdrop to my travels and experiences. So its refreshing to see the military expand their options.

    – I hope that the program overcomes its problems and delivers real benefits. It seems to work better in Iraq than Afghanistan

    -the program itself is beset with internal strife, rivalries, dissonance and dysfunction. I am still waiting for HTS members to rock my world with facts, achievements and accomplishments. I an eager to communicate those successes.

    – I run a site called IraqSlogger. Its no secret. Anyone can buy a subscription and many do.

    -Whatever you might think I wrote what I wrote and I absorb anything else anyone writes to add to my perspective. I have a history of entering closed societies and documented what I find. If you don’t like what I saw…go write your own article.

    – It is the outside perspective that gives meaning to closed societies. But if those observers are chased out by people with pitchforks and torches its say more about their fear than the opinion of the outside observer.

    And finally thank you to Max for allowing this forum to encourage discussion of this program. It still is far too polarized and punitive but in the absence of an impartial review committee or neutral governing body…this is it.

  20. Yes, but “And what has come out of this is just that: one person seemingly has a profit motive to use his bully pulpit to falsely portray the truth” is indeed a big problem: it has not been proven beyond some very weak, circumstantial, and suggestive pieces. I have followed Old Blue closely on this. Had he provided demonstrative evidence, confirmed and corroborated, I would have clearly granted that he was correct.

    Old Blue has contented himself with much less, however, and that weakens his argument. When he also sidetracks himself into personal pot shots and cheap shots, then he really lays waste to his own argument.

  21. Matt, I am not pro-Obama myself…very far from it if you search this blog, or look at my list of posts (in particular a post titled “Shifting to the Centre of Fascism” at https://openanthropology.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/a-shift-toward-the-center-of-fascism/).

    You say: “You can protest all you want, or you could actually be a part of the process to end the war through victory and minimize deaths in the process. Do you want Obama to lose this war, because a certain core of highly politicized anthropologists disagree with the use of this crucial tool in the war it seems.”

    I do not want to “end the war through victory,” in part because there will never be any such victory (you are see mirages again, from the graveyard of empires), and because I don’t believe that either side that seeks victory deserves my support. They can both go to hell, from where they came. If this is now Obama’s war, then to hell with him too.

  22. WOTN/Cannoneer, also please don’t be patronize me again. If someone does not agree with you, or fails to write as if he was stuck in a salute with a flag pole up his ass, it does not mean that he/she is either immature or even wrong.

  23. Robert,

    Odd that you continue to bash milbloggers, and bloggers in general, yet you spend so much time on sites like this one trying to defend your article and actions to gain new blogger friends. I have yet to see you try and win any friends on the forums, where military professionals and contractors hang out on? (oh, that’s right, if someone has a problem with what you said, they know where to find you–the flag)
    I should also remind you that milblogging or ‘new media’ is certainly an important tool in this war. Perhaps you would like to have a discussion with the guys over at Small Wars Journal about such things? They even wrote a recent article about new media and it’s impact on the war, an you should check it out.
    But back to the topic. Look, it’s like this friend. You wrote a crap article, and the milblogging world called you out on it. You can threaten libel all day long, and you will not change their opinions. If anything, you have only solidified people’s views on what you wrote and who you are, by even resorting to such threats. In this instance, you are the big guy attacking the little guy, and that does not win too many friends.
    I have also mentioned before on the forum, that Old Blue is part of the new media, and has every right to criticize and point out the fallacies of what a journalist or travel author might write about a subject he cares about. And Old Blue has done his homework for this latest round. This is a classic standoff between big media (you) and new media (bloggers), and I hope you have something more than legal threats and hot air to prove how truthful or righteous you are?
    As for myself, I am just an observer, but I also call it like I see it. If you want to impress me, then be a man and go to Blue’s site to refute what he said. What was that you said on a different site? (and I will give you the link, if you have forgotten)

    “I do one thing above all. I go anywhere, I fear no man, no place, no confrontation and I write the truth.”

    Ha! Go anywhere, meaning go to blogs that support your point of view? Fear no man, meaning everyone except Old Blue? No confrontation, meaning hiding behind your forum or this blog, or shallow legal threats? Write the truth, well now that is certainly debatable and that takes us to the point of this whole gosh darn episode now doesn’t it? The truth is a funny thing ol chap? But like I said, I am just an observer……;)

    http://billandbobsadventure.blogspot.com/2009/02/picasso-pelton-old-blues-paint-by.html

  24. I kinda get tired of correcting your statements.

    I point out that milbloggers run the gamut from academic, though provoking sites to ranting morons.

    milbloggin has been problematic mostly due to restrictive military access and dog whistle resonance issues amongst left leaning readers. It also disturbs me that information and disinformation are often bundled together and presented as “fact” or news.

    It bothers me that some milbloggers consider themselves psywarriors and defenders of freedom when they are in fact propagandists and unpaid mouthpieces.

    Blogging is new media? Not quite. Its homemade moonshine compared to MSM cognac.

    I don’t even know who Old Blue and he is terrified to reveal who he is… so how can I fear someone like that?

    I will keep on working in the real world, on the ground and you are more than welcome to call my work crap…and should you ever work up the courage to actually invest in yourself, spend the time on the ground gathering facts, write a book, film a documentary, start a company, form an opinion and stand in front of an audience and state your opinions I will be there cheering you on. You have great life experience and strength of conviction now get in the ring. :)

  25. It is unfortunate to see that those influencing the minds of students and readers so steadfastly establish their preconceived notions of politics and/or profits and then move towards an attempt to justify those notions. Seems to me that is called “inductive reasoning” and is highly disdained by critical thinkers, i.e. those in the business of searching out facts.

    But given that this seems to be a place where politics drives allegations and hence the exploration of evidence, it is unsurprising that the allegation of a lack of evidence on the part of Old Blue is preceded by articles of strong allegations and a lack of evidence and assumptions of a false identity without substantiation.

    As I contiinue to state in various circles: mature debate is healthy, particularly when the participants disagree. But this does not appear to be a site where mature debate is welcome. It does not appear to be a place where dissenting opinion and particularly not evidence to the contrary is welcomed. It appears to be a place where backslapping over the greatest personal attacks on ideological opponents is the order of the day. It appears to be a place where a rigid political ideology is enforced in a call for anarchy and rebellion to the established definitions of science, learning, and etiquette of professionals.

    It has been interesting but not informative other than into the thought processes of the most rigid of political ideologues.

  26. WOTN, this is becoming a pattern for you, the protest of a false innocence.

    You seem to object to rigid ideological formations. And yet: the very title of your blog begins with WAR ON TERROR, a rigid, right wing, neo-con, ideological construct borrowed straight from the mouths of the Bush administration. Now how do you explain such patent nonsense like what you wrote above? You just can’t stand that there are different opinions, and opinions you don’t like. So with the same intellectual integrity of a pathological liar, you claim your opponents are all ideological, and you alone have the facts, veiled in some immature and outmoded conceptions of science that you borrowed from some manual.

    Then you have the temerity to state: “But this does not appear to be a site where mature debate is welcome. It does not appear to be a place where dissenting opinion and particularly not evidence to the contrary is welcomed.” ANYONE looking at this site, and the discussions that have been raging here for ideas, across hundreds of comments, will see your remark for what it is: obvious bullshit.

    You should be ashamed when lying openly in front of an audience.

    Speaking of facts, GWOThead, have you found those WMDs yet?

  27. I almost missed this rich source of comedy:

    “steadfastly establish their preconceived notions of politics and/or profits and then move towards an attempt to justify those notions. Seems to me that is called “inductive reasoning” and is highly disdained by critical thinkers”

    No, sorry. First, what you identified is not “inductive reasoning,” though I am sure some milblogger somewhere told you that it was an evil thing that only communists do. As a matter of fact, using logic to arrive at conclusions from a general pattern is deductive reasoning. So you are way off base once again, as you have been each time you have tried to argue about “science” in those most cartoonish terms. Whether inductive reasoning is to be dismissed out of hand is any case an argument made by some, but hardly made and accepted by all. However, again, let’s be clear (because you can’t be): if I highlight imperialism, and patterns of historical imperialist practice and discourse in general terms, and from that make certain logical and specific deductions, that is, DEDUCTIVE reasoning. So you not only do not understand what you say, you get the wrong target, and you strengthen my hand in the process. Thanks, but I don’t need your support.

    Old Blue is mired in allegation and circumstantial, suggestive evidence to the point of drowning. He was never able to make a successful argument, and when in a larger audience — other than some angry old milbloggers with hardened arteries — it has been painful to watch him being laughed at and ridiculed for his each and every utterance.

    In broader terms, where do the general patterns used for deductive reasoning come from? Do they create themselves, or are they instead the product of multiple and repeated observations of a wide variety of specific, detailed observations? The dichotomy between deductive and inductive is what is discredited, because there is an obvious continuum and constant connection between the two. In actual practice, as opposed to manuals, the two are in constant dialogue.

  28. Of course the other side of this is that WOTN condemns deductive reasoning, calling it inductive, and then chooses to use inductive reasoning himself when jumping to conclusions about this blog, all of the comments, and all my work, on the basis of a few limited exchanges.

    Why bother writing, WOTN, if aside from disregard for the truth you also show such disregard for words and their meaning? I would have expected that you would at least hold yourself in higher esteem than that, but apparently not.

    But if you want to have one more laugh, check his uber-patriotic war drool at:

    http://waronterrornews.typepad.com/home/2009/03/what-is-a-milblogger-and-what-is-their-role-in-the-debate.html

  29. There really was not much to this story in the end: Robert Young Pelton was slandered by an irrational, seething, unintelligent extremist who calls himself “Old Blue” — as someone else said, most likely due to a lack of oxygen in his blood. Old Blue is a mercenary adventurer who titles his lackluster blogs to reflect the fact that he sees Afghanistan as a big game, and himself as the big game hunter. He is a war profiteer posing as a patriot, a hack posing as a writer, and someone who tries to kick his way through an argument by using personal insults only. Such fools deserve reciprocity, and then to be ignored.

    My initial mistake was in treating him with respect and being civil, both here and on his trash blog. Then I realized: this is one of those moody temperamental hysterics who is nice with you for as long as he thinks he has a chance of convincing you. Once he realizes that he has failed, and you point out his errors, he goes from sullen to vicious. He is a serious disgrace to whichever sad sacks have ever made the mistake of wasting money by hiring him.

    Instead of returning the civility, Old Boob was determined to be such an extremist nag that the poor cretin made an utter fool himself, rendering himself into a clown-like figure, the butt of jokes, the target of ridicule on Robert Young Pelton’s “Black Flag Cafe.” Oh why bother describe it, you can appreciate the full glory of Old Blue’s tenacious disregard for facts and logic, and watch him make an ass of himself on your own:

    http://cafe.comebackalive.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=42417&hilit=forte#p421135

    With defenders of “the mission” such as Old Blue, and it’s pretty well only extremists such as him, demagogues and war profiteers left to defend the occupation of Afghanistan, the Taliban should pat themselves on the back with the knowledge that they have won the war.

  30. I would be kinder to the fellow. There is an entire army of greying, lonely cash-strapped middle-aged men who return to warzones to make their nut.

    Those that choose to maintain “angry blogs” seem to exhibit some interesting similarities.

    1) They couch their motivations behind “patriotism” but earn a paycheck from the taxpayer

    2) They clearly define bad and good and often consider those Americans who do not lockstep with their simplistic ideas as the “enemy”

    3) They spend an inordinate amount of time being angry. Possible due to the natural loss of testosterone and hormones in middle age. Sometimes due to PTSD, need for money, family issues and more likely due to the sexual frustration, loneliness and frustration to the inherent systemic dysfunction of their govt designed and funded tasks.

    4) They become tribal, forming links with other like-minded angry bloggers most of whom flourished during the Bush administration as “telling it like it is” even though now most admit their inherent motivation was based on falsehoods.

    5) They deal in slander and propaganda, gaming the internet by inventing hollow bulk and fraudulent meaning by publishing falsehoods and then engaging their likeminded tribe to repeat those falsehoods or ideally expanding on them in vehemence and scope.

    He had not been back to the area I visited and insisted that I invented certain elements of my story. He didn’t expect me to reach out and touch so he quickly scuttled backwards like most cowards do when called out. I offered to leave it at that after shown proof that his assertions were false and he wisely published a retraction.

    Then he felt ashamed and emasculated and began inventing items and restating his assertions but without merit in his underlying case. He thought that he could go toe to toe with the diverse group of people (security contractors to ex-hippies) on my site and ran. Other mil bloggers chimed in and he felt emboldened. Now that he is back in theater and writing a blog that entertains at least his friends he is back to his vitriol. I encourage people to allow us into their world, whatever their viewpoint but inventing enemies does not seem to be a productive use of the internet (and our tax dollars)

    My concern is there is an odd sexual slant to many of his rants. And I have asked him to cease and desist. He sends me personal emails that are quite bellicose, insulting and with these odd overtones. Since I work in Afghanistan, I know his identity and his location but I honestly feel sorry for a government paid fellow that has enough time on his hands to endlessly google an invented adversary and contact anyone who writes about me with spews about his hate.

    I never had any reason to deal with him but originally I told him I enjoyed his previous personal blog about his work in the Kapisa area of Afghanistan. Now he is a ranting angry lonely man with a sexual fixation on someone he has never met.

    Its important to remember that he chose to throw himself in front of the collective internet bus. He just needs to make sure that his paymaster doesn’t see what he does in his non-spare time.

  31. I have been kinder to the fellow, to no avail.

    When someone as incoherent and pregnant with righteous, patriotic anger (and paychecks from the US military) insists on constantly butchering an argument and casting insane aspersions, then kindness is wasted.

    “Afghan Old Blue” borders on the clinically retarded. While others may be guilty of taking single sentences out of context, “Old Blue” takes a fragment of a sentence out of the context of the sentence, and then pretends that it is the whole sentence. You can make anyway say anything like that.

    He is as dishonest as he is degenerate, and now that you mention he is engaged in full time personal attacks while in the employ of the US government, it tells me that you might consider outing this asshole. After all, why would you protect his identity otherwise?

  32. I’m not sure how I came across this story today, but I did and have spent the better part of the day reading all the relevant threads, sites, etc. I have come to a few conclusions.

    First, Max, it’s obvious that you despise the US military. You do an admirable job of trying to keep it on an even keel, but in the end, your motivations are pretty obvious. So your final indictment of Blue was far from surprising. I am one of the right wingers that I imagine you detest, but please understand that people who refer to our soldiers and the people that they are fighting as two sides, and not wanting to pick one over the other makes me sick to my stomach. Our team, as I imagine it pains you to think of, has done more good in the world and saved more people from horrible oppression than the whole of academia in the history of the world. Warfare by the US, as distasteful as it must be to you, has ended slavery, stopped the Nazis and Communism. How many hundreds of millions of lives have been ended by those three little gems?

    Second, RYP has an obvious conflict of interest in that he’s involved in business that compete on some level with the Army program that he criticized. Call it what you want, but no where in his Men’s Journal article did he state that he’s involved in some type of intelligence business in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact that you refuse to see this as a problem tells me what I need to know about your motivations.

    As for the validity of RYP’s article that started all this, the one thing that he’s been proven right is that there was indeed a blackhawk with a skull on it. That’s it – one thing. The rest is he said/she said and I tend to believe the military people who spend years in the fight, not a business man who spent a few days.

    I work in a business where we deal with clients who know nothing of what we do, how we do it, and why, yet many seem to believe themselves to be experts because they spend a day or a year on the periphery when we’ve spent a lifetime doing what we do. I find RYP to be of the same ilk, except he has skin in the game.

    It was admirable that you donated so much of your time to this subject, but in the end your inherent beliefs dictated where you would end up on the issue.

  33. How sad, your third comment today, and the fun already comes to an end. Seriously, I thoroughly appreciate your inane, insipid, robotic repetitions of the standard, official state bravado, and all the American heroism–it renews my belief that humanity is fucked because there are so many “persons” like you who make the world a worse place.

    “it’s obvious that you despise the US military”

    Well, thanks, because I do try to convey that very point. I’m sorry, was I required to love the U.S. military?

    “You do an admirable job of trying to keep it on an even keel”

    Uh-oh…that suggests I am being ambiguous, so I have to work on being clearer.

    “but in the end, your motivations are pretty obvious”

    Oh, OK then. Phew!

    “Our team, as I imagine it pains you to think of, has done more good in the world”

    Yes, it’s warfare that makes the world a better place. Indeed, did you see the improvement to NYC after 9/11? Those horrible eyesores were removed from what is…still a pretty grim skyline.

    “Warfare by the US, as distasteful as it must be to you, has ended slavery, stopped the Nazis and Communism.”

    Now did you get that shit in a “history” book written by Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter? The U.S. military did NONE of those three things.

    “he’s involved in some type of intelligence business in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact that you refuse to see this as a problem tells me what I need to know about your motivations.”

    Your comment is out of date, and the debate has moved on. You missed my recent posts, and my direct debates with RYP himself. So you are just plain wrong. Again…what a surprise!

    “in the end your inherent beliefs dictated where you would end up on the issue”

    Indeed, we should be like you. We should arrive at everything like fresh, newborn babes, without a prior thought in our heads, open to all sides because they are all equally incomprehensible. Every time we turn a page in a book, we should pretend it’s the very first page. No connections must be made. We should have no predispositions, no ongoing thought process, and least of all, no critical thinking.

    So tell me, is everyone in your neighbourhood also a mindless body plug, meat on shoes, or is that just you?

    Cheerio, killer.

  34. Max, tts just Old Blue sitting at his computer coming up with stupid aliases and more stupid comments to get attention. “Jack Burton” is the name of the fictional moron in “Big Trouble In Little China”. Old Blue pops up under an alias wherever my name is mentioned on the internet. You can see his comments, often changing names and posting again. I am not a psychiatrist but I have seen this behavior before in other stalkers.

    But here he is again, pretending to be yet another indignant patriot when in fact he is a middle aged stalker from Kansas with an unhealthy sexual focus (his posts are preserved at the Black Flag Cafe for the entertainment of various law enforcement agencies). Best to keep track of him and his various badly disguised names and IPs. We have sad people like that on my forum that we have to report to the police when they finally go off the edge. They usually approach people for sex, make threats and try to find friends using a basket full of aliases and ploys. I can give you a full brief on his children, family, income, location, employment history etc.

    For now his themes are familiar and his obsessive need to feign anger so he can stalk says more about his lonely need for human contact than anything he types.

    Sadly your new/old stalker friend forgets, well actually I am pretty sure he is too stupid to even stop and think, about Canada’s very early contribution to defeating the Nazis in World War II and that of course, Canada didn’t have to engage in violent ethnic cleansing or slavery on the path to peaceful independence. But see there he goes, getting me to point out he is a liar and a dimwit :))

    And yes, Old Blue, Canadians are fighting, dying and getting killed in Afghanistan as well. But I am sure their deaths or even intelligent discourse are not as meaningful as your bizarre need to seek attention and male human companionship on the internet.

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