News from the Military-Academic Complex: McFate’s PhD, HTS Contracts, Minerva Grants, Afghanistan

Here is a medley of updates concerning previous posts on this blog:

Concerning Montgomery McFate’s doctoral dissertation:

Montgomery McFate’s PhD dissertation (when she was Montgomery Cybele Carlough) has been digitized in its entirety and is available for download by persons using libraries with subscriptions to ProQuest. What follows are some of the significant details about her dissertation, especially with reference to recent discussion on this blog.

Carlough, Montgomery Cybele (1994).  Pax Brittania: British counterinsurgency in Northern Ireland, 1969-1982. Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University, United States — Connecticut. (Publication No. AAT 9522728).

In her Preface/Statement of Disclosure, Carlough (McFate) indicates her sources of financial support for her research: “This doctoral research was financially supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Student Fellowship (1991-94), Yale University Fellowships (1990-94), the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation pre-dissertation Fellowship (1990-91), a Council on West European Studies travel grant (1993-4), John F. Enders Fellowship (1993-4), the William’s Fund (1991,1993-4), and the International Security Program/Smith-Richardson Foundation at Yale (1993-4).”

Providing us with an overview of her fieldwork activities, she writes: “Fieldwork was conducted in 1989, 1991, 1993, and 1994. Interviews, prison visits, participant observation, correspondence, and conversations were conducted with members of the Republican Movement in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Holland, and North America, including but not limited to the following groups: Provisional Sinn Fein (PSF), Glor na n-Gael, Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), Irish Northern Aid (NORAID), the Ulster Gaelic Club (UGC), and Information on Ireland (IOI).”

In addition, “Interviews, participant observation, correspondence, and conversations were conducted with members of the British defence establishment in the UK, including but not limited to the following groups: serving and retired members of the British Army, the Ministry of Defence (MOD), the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies (RUSI), the Corporation for Operations Research and Defence Analysis (CORDA), historians at Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, and an ‘independent military sub-contractor’ (mercenary).” [As David Price noted in his CounterPunch article, at this time Carlough/McFate was barely softening usage of the term, mercenary.]

Carlough/McFate also tells the reader: “Neither members of the British defence and security establishment, nor their Republican counterparts, were aware of my research on the other side of the military looking-glass, and this manuscript may therefore come as somewhat of a surprise to them. This research was conducted informally, without the assistance or official sanction of the British Army or the Republican Movement. No members of either organization exceeded the limits of security, or jeopardized their operations, by allowing me access to classified documents.”

Finally, with respect to her supervision, and other academics who assisted her, she writes: “I would like to acknowledge the intellectual contributions of Professor Harold Scheffler [anthropology], Professor David Apter, Professor George Andreopoulos, Professor John Middleton [anthropology], and Professor John Szwed [anthropology] at Yale University. I would also like to thank Professor Paul Bracken, Professor Graham McFarlane at Queen’s University, Belfast, Dr. John C. Dolan at University of Otago, New Zealand, Omid Mantashi, Linda Angst, Peta Katz, Alistair Renwick, Brian Baer and especially Arturo Cherbowski-Lask.”

Update: Thanks to a trackback from An American Lion, I “discovered” that Montgomery McFate is a “brave thinker” in this brave new world — The Atlantic, selects this as the quote of choice for this brave thinker: “If you understand how to frustrate or satisfy the population’s interests to get them to support your side in a counterinsurgency, you don’t need to kill as many of them.”


Human Terrain System Contract: Georgia Tech

As indicated here:

Principle Contractor: Georgia Tech Applied Research Corporation [applied commercial research arm of the Georgia Institute of Technology]
Date of Issuance: 10/9/2009
Branch of Service: Army

Contract Details:
Georgia Tech Applied Research Corp., Atlanta, Ga., was awarded on Sept. 30, 2009 a $7,820,869 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Human Terrain System Project used to train personnel to deploy on human terrain teams and human terrain analysis teams in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Work is to be performed Leavenworth, Kan., (65 percent), Atlanta, Ga., (30 percent), and Oyster Point, Va., (5 percent) with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2010. One bid solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-08-D-0006).

Total Contract Value: $7,820,869


Minerva Research Initiative: Department of Defense, National Science Foundation

(1) I have been interested in finding which academic institutions outside of the U.S. have partnered with U.S. counterparts in receiving and working on projects funded by the Pentagon’s Minerva Research Initiative. Despite proclamations of openness, the Pentagon never released this information in its first announcement of grants awarded, although the fact that three foreign institutional partners existed was mentioned. Searching the faculty news pages of the institutions of American grant recipients, I learned of the following non-U.S. institutional partners:

In the second round of awards, a Canadian university is the lead institution on a Minerva project:

  • Patrick Barclay (University of Guelph) and Stephen Bernard (Indiana University) – “Status, Manipulating Group Threats, and Conflict Within and Between Groups”

(2) While some are saying that no anthropologist has been awarded a Minerva grant, that is not correct. Mark Woodward, of Arizona State University, mentioned above, is in fact a cultural anthropologist who teaches in the Department of Religious Studies.

Miscellaneous: Patricia Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute of International Studies is conducting research with a Minerva grant, that violates international law. Martha Crenshaw, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, has made available online the research proposal she submitted to the National Science Foundation — have a look at it: “Mapping Terrorist Organizations” is a very good example of the kind of self-selecting adhesion to group-think, of telling the authorities what they want to hear (and in their own language too), that makes this an excellent example of the “Sovietization” of academic research in the U.S. It also mocks the intellectual credibility and academic value of the entire Minerva selection process, regardless of NSF “peer review.”


How to get out of Afghanistan

Hugh Gusterson, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 12 October 2009


“The counterinsurgency strategy will fail because foreign troops, especially in a country such as Afghanistan, provoke nationalist resistance. Thus, counterinsurgency will be fuel for, not an antidote to, insurgency. The Biden-Levin strategy also will fail because Pashtuns don’t want to be policed by Uzbeks and Tajiks and because newly trained Afghan troops won’t fight hard in a war in which they see themselves as surrogates for Americans, deployed on behalf of an American cause for which Americans weren’t willing to give up their own sons. Did Washington learn nothing from the failure of the Vietnamization of the Vietnam War? Moreover, the aerial attacks on suspected Al Qaeda fighters advocated by Biden will, as counterinsurgency specialist David Kilcullen has argued, inevitably miss many insurgents while killing many innocent civilians. This will, in turn, produce further hatred of the United States among the Afghan population.”

“If it is not already doing so, the Obama administration should be entering into discreet conversation with a range of insurgent leaders in Afghanistan, seeking an accommodation that would divide a majority of the insurgents from the hard-line sympathizers with Al Qaeda. Such an agreement might allow Afghanistan to be ruled by a more legitimate government that would incorporate elements of the Taliban into a central administration or devolve regional power to them. In exchange for this and for foreign reconstruction aid, the United States might receive an assurance that Al Qaeda wouldn’t be allowed to resume its former operations in Afghanistan. If Al Qaeda returned, the penalty would be the loss of foreign aid and return of the drones.”

“Those who find it hard to imagine an accommodation with the Taliban should remember that, in the 1980s, as portrayed in the book and film Charlie Wilson’s War, we funded and armed some of these people. They fought the Soviets as our allies and surrogates, and President Ronald Reagan welcomed them to the White House, calling them the Afghan equivalent of our founding fathers. While it would be too much to hope for a Taliban Thomas Jefferson, that doesn’t mean we cannot reach a modus vivendi that will enable Afghans to live without their country being full of U.S. bases or Al Qaeda training camps.”

In key respects, Hugh is echoing the arguments made by Andrew Bacevich, and I have some sympathy for them. I do believe that one vital mistake is being made, and that is in thinking that Americans will be allowed any opportunity to meaningfully dictate the terms of their withdrawal to Afghans. The Taliban, some of whose leaders now insist they be called mujahidin (because maybe only a tenth of their fighters are actual Talibs), seem very content to forcibly drive out the U.S. and impose humiliating defeat…and it is succeeding. Given that the Taliban now control as much territory as when they formed the national government, I am not sure there is much incentive for them to agree to U.S. terms. The threat of drones? How about another 9/11 in return.

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7 thoughts on “News from the Military-Academic Complex: McFate’s PhD, HTS Contracts, Minerva Grants, Afghanistan

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  2. Pingback: Montgomery McFate is a Fraud, Not a Brave Thinker « An American Lion

  3. Maximilian Forte

    Given the brave thinker that McFate is (see the update above), we now have two choices for an appropriate motto for a BRAVE NEW ANTHROPOLOGY. Tell me which one you choose, or if you want to submit an alternative, and we can turn this into an online poll.

    (1) Brave New Anthropology: “You’ll thank us for not killing all of you.”

    (2) Brave New Anthropology: “We’re good at not killing as many people as we could.”

  4. RYP

    “Brave New Anthropology: “We’re good at not killing as many people as we could.”

    You can do better than that Max. :)) How about” Hi, Please tell us how you hate us so we can kill you better”

    The kindest thing anthropologists can do is explain that counterinsurgency is always linked with counterterrorism. Its a ying/yang thing for the military that they always neglect to mention. The current commander in Afghanistan was famous for methodically going through Zarqawi’s laptop and killing everyone there. There is little difference in what is going on there now with a robust list of about 400 people that need to get killed. COIN is just the worm on the hook to get better intelligence. HTS is just the smiley face on the worm.

    Just cuz the locals are staring at the trinkets and questionnaires in one hand doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare them for the slap from the other hand.

    Plus although your blog is great, I don’t know if its worth going after the actors but rather the play.


    1. Maximilian Forte

      I do both RYP, the actors and the play. Even in this same post, I minimize the role of McFate in favour of getting us to think about the structure that helped to produce her work. Actors also enact a script, so they are an inevitable part of the picture, their roles and their lines helping to shed light on the meaning of the play as a whole. If you’re saying the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, then of course I agree, but then again this blog is also greater than the sum of its posts (I hope).

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