“The Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual”: New Book on Anthropology, Militarization, and the Human Terrain System

I am very happy to report that the second of three new volumes about the human terrain system to be published this year has just been released for pre-order. It is The Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual, by the Network of Concerned Anthropologists. It features contributions by Catherine Besteman, Andrew Bickford, Greg Feldman, Roberto J. González, Hugh Gusterson, Kanhong Lin, Catherine Lutz, David Price, and David Vine. It will be released in April of this year.

This is the publisher’s description:

At a moment when the U.S. military decided it needed cultural expertise as much as smart bombs to prevail in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon’s Counterinsurgency Field Manual offered a blueprint for mobilizing anthropologists for war. The Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual critiques that strategy and offers a blueprint for resistance. Written by the founders of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, the Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual explores the ethical and intellectual conflicts of the Pentagon’s Human Terrain System; argues that there are flaws in the Counterinsurgency Field Manual (ranging from plagiarism to a misunderstanding of anthropology); probes the increasing militarization of academic knowledge since World War II; identifies the next frontiers for the Pentagon’s culture warriors; and suggests strategies for resisting the deformation and exploitation of anthropological knowledge by the military. This is compulsory reading for anyone concerned that the human sciences are losing their way in an age of empire.

[See also: AMERICAN COUNTERINSURGENCY, by Roberto J. González (U. Chicago Press, 2009) and David Price interviews Roberto González on the Human Terrain System]

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5 thoughts on ““The Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual”: New Book on Anthropology, Militarization, and the Human Terrain System

  1. Dr. Forte,
    I hope you have some influence with Roberto Gonzalez. I read his “American Counterinsurgency” and it was clear that anyone who looked at it prior to publication was in complete and uncritical agreement with him. This is bad.

    Although I agree with many of his points, his arguments were so fraught with fallicies, dubious premises, and uncricitical citation of sources that the book was a blow to anthropology as a discipline.

    Get Roberto Gonzalez to have his work reviewed by people who do *not* agree with him.

    People who don’t share his world view will articulate why citing events and policies from forty years ago is ill-considered. People who disagree with him will force him to build his arguments with some real intellectual rigor rather than appeals to emotion and fear-mongering. People who have a different perspective on the issue will show him that his biases are blinding him to issues that might be more persuasive to people who can influence the future of the programs that he is opposed to.

    I am looking forward to “The Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual”, I just hope it stands up to critical assessment better than “American Counterinsurgency”.

  2. Hello Van,

    I don’t think that I have any influence with or on Roberto Gonzalez. I have yet to obtain my copy of the book, so I cannot comment on the contents just yet (and it will probably be by the end of the summer or fall before I finally get time to read it). However, from what I have read by Gonzalez so far, whether these were interviews he has given or articles he wrote for Anthropology Today, I definitely did not get the impression that he is someone to make appeals to emotion (not that I think that is a “bad” thing by the way — we are human beings writing about human beings who can have a seriously deleterious effect on other human beings), nor “fear-mongering.”

    Perhaps you could cite some specific examples of what you found objectionable, with page numbers please?

    The book has been published, so I do not think it is a matter any more of finding people to disagree with him who will conduct a review. I am not sure that I follow you when you lament his discussing events and policies from 40 years ago — is there a reason he should not? Does everything pertinent to understanding HTS, and counterinsurgency, date to only 2003?

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