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In keeping with Kenneth Burke’s mission to purify war, the use of social science to shift problem-solving from violence to conversation is a welcome development.
Burke says, “language… [is] the ‘critical moment’ at which human motives take form” (from GM 318, in Kenneth Burke: Rhetoric, Subjectivity, Postmodernism by Robert Wess).
Army Enlists Anthropology in War Zones, a feature story from the NYTimes, has demonstrated the “ability to understand subtle points of tribal relations,” enabling soldiers “to focus more on improving security, health care and education for the population.”
This kind of humanitarian army is the cooperation that our world needs. We must learn to eat with our enemies. Liberal leftists (I assume?) are criticizing the experimental military program for institutionalizing yet another way to coerce local peoples to accept occupation. My initial lean, however, is that the military does not “‘yet have the skill sets to implement’ a coherent nonmilitary strategy,” as explained by United Nations’ official Tom Gregg (download a Real Audio interview by CBC radio, June 2007). One of the critics, Roberto, J. González, might characterize himself as an empowered critic of western domination. He is of course correct that the military machines have deviously misused social scientists. Are we not, collectively, less naive now than in history? Perpetuating the same old oppressive frameworks through social criticism is as devastating as popular propaganda.

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