...as I re-read Chapter 3 a few months ago, I found my eye struggling through a crudely constructed sentence and then suddenly being graced with a flowing line of precise prose:
"A ritual is a stereotyped sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects performed to influence supernatural entities or forces on behalf of the actors' goals and interest." (Counterinsurgency Manual, 3-51)
The phrase "stereotyped sequence" leapt off the page. Not only was it out of place, but it sparked a memory. I knew that I'd read these words years ago. With a little searching, I discovered that this unacknowledged line had been taken from a 1972 article written by the anthropologist Victor Turner, who brilliantly wrote that religious ritual is:
"a stereotyped sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and designed to influence preternatural entities or forces on behalf of the actors' goals and interests."
Heh heh. Others examples include (from the list at the end of Price's Counterpunch piece):
Counterinsurgency Manual, section 3-20: Society
"...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."
"Formally, 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." (Newman, David. Sociology. 6th ed. Pine Forge Press, 2006. P. 19.)
Counterinsurgency Manual, section 3-27: Tribes
"Tribes are generally defined as autonomous, genealogically structured groups in which the rights of individuals are largely determined by their ancestry and membership in a particular lineage."
"[A Tribe is an] autonomous, genealogically structured group in which the rights of individuals are largely determined by their membership in corporate descent groups such as lineages." (Brown, Kenneth. "A Few Reflections on the 'Tribe' and 'State' in Twentieth-Century Morocco." In F. Abdul-Jabar & H. Dawod, eds., Tribes and Power. Saqi Books, 2001. P. 206.)
To be fair, the manual's major author, LCol. Dr. John Nagl, responded (in Small Wars Journal) with the equivalent of "it's a military field manual; there's no need to cite!":
To paraphrase von Clausewitz military Field Manuals have their own grammar and their own logic. They are not doctoral dissertations, designed to be read by few and judged largely for the quality of their sourcing; instead, they are intended for use by soldiers. Thus authors are not named, and those whose scholarship informs the manual are only credited if they are quoted extensively. This is not the academic way, but soldiers are not academics; it is my understanding that this longstanding practice in doctrine writing is well within the provisions of “fair use” copyright law.Earth to Nagl: you did quote extensively. But whatever, even if you stick with that defence, you're just lazy. There was nothing to stop you or any of the other authors from writing the ideas of others into your own words, if you wanted a simple manual. Maybe you can claim it was written and edited under fire or something. In anycase, quoting others that extensively makes you look like like you can't process/understand the information with any depth. David Price, responding, (Counterpunch, 3/4 November) has a more detailed take on your rebuttal:
Lt. Col. Nagl wants it both ways. He was the Manual's public spokesman on the well oiled media circuit where he claimed that the new Manual was the product of high scholarship in the service of the state; yet when it became apparent that somewhere along the line in the production of the Manual the most basic of scholarly practices were abandoned, he now pretends that these rules do not apply in this context. He has to choose how he wants to pitch the Manual: scholarship or doctrine. He can't have it both ways anymore. I read U.S. Army Spokesman Major Tom McCuin's statement as military doublespeak declaring a mistakes-were-made-but-the-messages-remains-true admission that passages were indeed used in an inappropriate manner, so I guess what we have here is doctrine.
I am not applying inappropriate cultural standards to this work. As I wrote in my original CounterPunch piece, "To highlight the Manual's scholarly failures is not to hold it to some over-demanding, external standard of academic integrity. However, claims of academic integrity are the very foundation of the Manual's promotional strategy."
Nagl skirts the issue of the Manual's lifting exact sentences (and of slightly modifying others) and reproducing them in the manual without quotation marks as if the problem was simply one of missing footnotes and citations and not of quotations. Nagl writes that it is his "understanding that this longstanding practice in doctrine writing is well within the provisions of "fair use" copyright law." Unless Nagl has some special legal expertise on the rights of the military to kidnap and republish materials protected under copyright as if it were their own, I am less interested in "his understanding" than I am in the Army's understanding of these legal matters. Can Lt. Col. Nagl's view be that of the Army? This would be remarkable.
Nagl claims that "military Field Manuals have their own grammar and their own logic." While the logic this manual is certainly ideographic and not bound by the normal rules of logic, I refer Dr. Nagl to the partial list of pilfered sentences I provided in my article if he thinks the grammar of the manual is entirely its own.
Go on, click the links and read the entire exchange.
Muppets. This is an extension of the same theme that began with stories of Nigerian pastry and other wild tales of 2002 or 2003: a mix of smoke, mirrors and utter incompetence. They literally cannot get anything right. Complete muppets.
Hmm, how about this for COIN doctrine: Don't [citing Vietnam (French & US exp), Afghanistan (British, Soviet and NATO), Iraq (US exp)].
Note: Dr. Price also - righteously in my view - attacks the both the University of Chicago Press for publishing crap scholarship, and the general weaponisation of social science. This second point is worth a whole other post.