Tag Archives: Military

Amazing Adam Smith Quotation

Glenn Greenwald digs up this real gem from Adam Smith.

 In great empires the people who live in the capital, and in the provinces remote from the scene of action, feel, many of them, scarce any inconveniency from the war; but enjoy, at their ease, the amusement of reading in the newspapers the exploits of their own fleets and armies . . . .

They are commonly dissatisfied with the return of peace, which puts an end to their amusement, and to a thousand visionary hopes of conquest and national glory from a longer continuance of the war.

I joke with friends about what its like to be living during the apex and fall of the empire.   Especially when you consider how much our army looks like a mercenary army between private contractors and the growth of citizen-seeking legal aliens.  Machaivelli had something to say about what happens to the prince who relies on mercenaries.

This also happens to remind me of the admonishments the younger Holmes had for his father in their civil war correspondence.  Been reading that in Louis Menand’s the Metaphysical Club. The younger one basically keeps telling Pa to lay off about how the war should be fought and that poorly fought wars, even for a good cause, are still major cluster fucks.  Well, I’m paraphrasing.

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Filed under Great Quotations, Military, Politics, Power, Activism, Scholars

Army Social Scientists Calm Afghanistan, Make Enemies at Home

Tanks again to Valdis Krebs for pushing this out to SOCNET.

Army Social Scientists Calm Afghanistan, Make Enemies at Home
Each team is getting a half-dozen laptops, a satellite dish and software for social network analysis, so they can diagram how all of the important players in an area are connected. Digital timelines will mark key cultural and political events. Mapmaking programs will plot out the economic, ethnic and tribal landscape.

I wonder what this history of the US military is in terms of using social scientists.  I remember one of my grad school professors, Steve Nock, talked about how some of the early advance in statistics and social surveys grew out of studies of morale in WWII.  What happened in Viet Nam?  Were their cultural or social scientists there?  Why is the military resistant to this kind of expertise?  Because it may humanize potential enemies?  But don’t effective commanders at the ground level become amateur social scientists anyway?

What are the ethical concerns about using this technology for war making?  I recall the American Psychological Associations’s controversy over the role of psychologists in detainees, interrogation, and torture.  For story, here.  For APA controversy, here.

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Filed under ethics, Military, national security, policy, Social Networks, Torture