Regular readers here are aware that href="http://homepages.stmartin.edu/fac_staff/dprice/">Dr. David Price
href="http://homepages.stmartin.edu/fac_staff/dprice/">Dr. David Price
is an ardent critic of the "pilfered scholarship" behind href="http://usacac.army.mil/cac/repository/materials/coin-fm3-24.pdf">FM 3-24, COIN
3-24, COIN. There are many nuances to that discourse, and I don't
doubt that I am about to bludgeon them into one dimension. But a core issue Dr.
Price consistently raises is that of attribution. Or more accurately, non-attribution.
Non-attribution seems to be the big proton-like nucleus issue around which the electron
issues of plagiarism, shoddiness, informed consent, ethics, dim-wittedness,
speed-to-press, and pesky utility to the warfighter seem to spiral in infinite relativistic
The COIN authors' counter to the href="http://www.counterpunch.org/price10302007.html">Counterpunch
article, et al, has fairly consistently been that it is a manual,
not an academic work. Not so fast....
Small Wars Journal has found a href="http://smallwarsjournal.com/documents/coin-draft-excerpt.pdf">working draft
draftof part of the manual. And darn if it doesn't look like some
legitimate academic rigor went into the whole thing from the beginning.
of his experience with editors when working on the Urban GIRH. Many others know
the drill. It appears that more of the same may have occurred here with FM
3-24 -- an editorial decision to go light on the footnotes, not an absence of intellectual
rigor, and certainly not an intent to pilfer. At least not in this stage of
the development effort. I'll also observe, at risk of not only drinking the
Kool-Aid but of spilling some on my shirt, that I am surprised, in a heartening
way, that there has been a bare minimum of finger-pointing from the authors at
the editors. They knew the scholarship was solid. They knew the almighty footnotes
were in there. And they knew that to tens of thousands of operators, it didn't
matter. So they didn't pass the buck. They've stood behind the strength of their
work and accepted the editorial decisions, despite whatever individual
opinions they may have.
All along this has been a clash of cultures -- that of the
ivory tower, with that of the operator or manual / doctrine writer. Dr. Price
has a point, within his domain. Ironically for an anthropologist, he fails to
see and appreciate the limits of the application of his domain. Even more
unexpectedly, his own published scholarship now seems to fall short of his own standards. It is one thing to criticize FM 3-24's
failure to live up to a set of ivory tower academic standards that may or may
not apply, U of Chicago reprint notwithstanding. It is quite another to throw
stones from a glass house.
Witness, first case in point, Dr. Price's quote from his first
Counterpoint article. He quotes section 3-20, Society as:
sociologists define society as a
population living in the same geographic area that shares a culture and a
common identity and whose members are subject to the same political authority
fact, section 3-20 in the published version is:
A society can be defined as a
population whose members are subject to the same political authority,
occupy a common territory, have a common culture,and share a sense of identity. A society is not easily created or destroyed, but it is possible to do so
through genocide or war.
Second, in the same article, he states "I have such high respect for Jon Nagl's
academic work and sense of propriety..." Perhaps not so much that he
will spell John's name correctly, or recognize service-specific norms for rank
abbreviation (e.g. LTC vs. Lt. Col. or LtCol). Nit-picky, sure! But given
the name-spelling spat as one element of his strident critiques published href="http://smallwarsjournal.com/mag-back/">here
href="http://smallwarsjournal.com/mag-back/">herein SWJ Magazine
volume 8 on another piece, we no longer know where the bar lies. Certainly
below our radar screen for substance. But if he's going to make
this his crusade, at least he could start criticizing the published version
instead of some exposure draft, and living by his little sword.
So onward we go. FM 3-24 isn't perfect. And we don't
have HTTs down to a science yet. But the broken eggs are the price to pay for
the bit of cake we have and desperately need. Let's get on with the icing, a
better cake, and applying anthropology and other disciplines in practice in our
cultural steps and mis-steps. Not with trying to put humpty dumpty's footnotes
back together again.
For the record, Dr. Price was very cordial in offering us
publication of his latest
response. Given its nature as a direct rebuttal to LTC Nagl, we offered
publication via our blog comments and/or discussion board thread on the topic,
with appropriate editorial highlighting and links to set it out from the fray.
Dr. Price opted instead to pursue other venues.
Dr. David Price's original href="http://www.counterpunch.org/price10302007.html">Counterpunch article
People with Limited Skills - LTC Nagl, Small Wars Journal
A response to the response(s) -- David Price's href="http://www.counterpunch.com/price11032007.html">reply in Counterpunch
href="http://www.counterpunch.com/price11032007.html">reply in Counterpunch.
Published 3 Nov.
3-24 Chapter... Now With Footnotes! - Abu Muqawama
Disregard Academic Critiques of the New COIN Manual - Thomas P.M. Barnett
COIN Manual Plagiarized? - Outside the Beltway
Anthropology Ass'n Blasts Army's "Human Terrain" - Danger Room (Wired)
Surge in Plagiarism? - Harpers
How to Make a Molehill out of a Mountain - Open Anthropology
href="http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=4184">Anthropologists and a True Culture War
and a True Culture War- Discuss at Small Wars Council
href="http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=4218">"Desperate People with Limited Skills"
People with Limited Skills"- Discuss at Small Wars Council