We, the undersigned, believe that anthropologists should not engage in research and other activities that contribute to counter-insurgency operations in Iraq or in related theaters in the “war on terror.These anthropologists believe that they have a bond of openness and trust with "studied populations" and that assisting American counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq would harm those bonds.
The Small Wars Journal posted a response from the Seriously Concerned Anthropologists for a Ridiculously Enfeebled Defense (SCARED):
Pledge of Non-participation in Counter-insurgencyMarcus Griffin (who to my knowledge has no connection with SCARED) is an anthropologist working with US forces in Iraq who maintains a blog (I wish he would update more but I guess he has more important things to do). He has some good posts on what his work means for anthropology more generally, such as whether it puts other anthropologists in danger, and a response to criticism from one of the founders of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists.
We, the undersigned, believe that anthropologists should not engage in research and other activities that contribute to counter-insurgency (COIN) operations in Iraq or in related theaters in the “war on terror.” While some people say COIN reduces the need for massive bombing that results in untold civilian casualties, we say we will not get our hands dirty even if it saves lives.
US military and intelligence agencies and military contractors have identified “cultural knowledge,” “ethnographic intelligence,” and “human terrain mapping” as essential to US-led military intervention in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. We prefer that they remain hopelessly ignorant and ineffective, thereby dragging out the war on terror and multiplying the death count. Rather than instilling cultural understanding in US military operations, we prefer that soldiers in the battlefield never learn to distinguish ordinary peaceful Arab and Muslim culture from the death cult of suicide terror and insurgency.
Today's US military practices the cultural imperialism that privileges some native peoples (the so-called "moderates") at the expense of others (the so-called "terrorists"). But, as anthropologists, we know that such normative evaluations are inherently subjective and we refuse to abet such cultural hegemony. Rather than impose the normative American value structures (such as "freedom" and "democracy") on foreign peoples, it is our responsibility to allow competing normative schemes (such as "fascism" and "theocracy") to assert their normal roles in such societies without the interference of colonialist Western powers.