American Counterinsurgency: Human Science and the Human Terrain

American Counterinsurgency: Human Science and the Human Terrain

by Roberto J. Gonzalez


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Politicians, pundits, and Pentagon officials are singing the praises of a kinder, gentler American counterinsurgency. Some claim that counterinsurgency is so sophisticated and effective that it is the “graduate level of war.” Private military contracting firms have jumped on the bandwagon, and many have begun employing anthropologists, political scientists, psychologists, and sociologists to help meet the Department of Defense’s new demand. The $60 million Human Terrain System (HTS), an intelligence gathering program that embeds social scientists with combat brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan, dramatically illustrates the approach. But when the military, transnational corporations, and the human sciences become obsessed with controlling the “human terrain”—the civilian populations of Iraq and Afghanistan—what are the consequences? In this timely pamphlet, Roberto González offers a searing critique of HTS, showing how the history of anthropology can be used to illuminate the problems of turning “culture” into a military tool.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780979405747
Publisher: Prickly Paradigm Press
Publication date: 02/15/2009
Pages: 134
Product dimensions: 4.40(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Roberto J. González is associate professor of anthropology at San Jose State University. He is author of Zapotec Science: Farming and Food in the Northern Sierra of Oaxaca and editor of Anthropologists in the Public Sphere: Speaking Out on War, Peace, and American Power.

Table of Contents

1.  The Myth of a "Gentler" Counterinsurgency
2.  The Origins of Human Terrain
3.  Phoenix Rising? The Birth of HTS
4.  Imaginary Terrorists, Virtual Tribes: HTS as Technological Fantasy
5.  Social Science and the Imperial Imperative
Glossary of Terms

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