this damned war

Kinetic Force.

I don’t think I’ve seen BAE Systems advertise in the Chronicle of Higher Education before, and I may be wrong — and a quick Google search shows places like,, and, all places I don’t frequent — but lo and behold, it showed up in the Anthropology listings this week (though it was on the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology job site almost a month ago):

The Human Terrain System (HTS) is a new Army program, designed to improve the military’s ability to understand the local socio-cultural environment in Iraq and Afghanistan. Knowledge of the local population provides a departure point for a military staff’s ability to plan and execute its mission more effectively using less kinetic force.

Unlike the other postings, this job description specifically mentions Iraq and Afghanistan. And despite the deliberate vagueness of “less kinetic force,” this statement is probably as close to saying (and excuse the bluntness), “Having an anthropologist or two around makes it less likely that we’ll have to waste some Iraqis.” I suppose if you put it that way, it makes the job a little more attractive. Kind of.

The whole topic has been discussed in academic circles for a while now, but has only recently hit the mainstream press (in particular, a high-profile article in the New York Times). See Savage Minds for a primer and links to other articles, dating from as early as 2005. (For something earlier, Eric Wakin’s out-of-print Anthropology Goes to War: Professional Ethics and Counterinsurgency in Thailand will fit the bill.)

this damned war

Stop The Killings Benefit Show.

See you Bay Area folks here:

Saturday, February 17, 2007
7:30pm @ SOMArts (934 Brannan St., SF, CA 94103)
All Ages – $10 (Proceeds go to KARAPATAN)

Performances by:

Blue Scholars
Kiwi (of Native Guns)
Echo of Bullets
Golda Supernova
Power Struggle
Praxis Rocks
The Movement Show
Kapatid X

Art by:

Speaker Fruits

ACT NOW!!! Sign the online petition.

Did you know that 825+ people have been killed in the Philippines since 2001? Regular people…students, teachers, lawyers, workers, journalists, clergy, human rights workers, etc. Witnesses have pointed to elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in carrying out these killings. Yet not one person has been tried or convicted for any of these deaths. President Arroyo’s government has done nothing to stop to these atrocities.

For us living in the U.S.A. it’s a little sticky. The U.S. government has been providing excessive amounts of military assistance to the Philippine government. Reports from the Library of US Congress state that the total U.S. military assistance to the Philippines rose from $38 million in 2001 to $114 million in 2003 and a projected $164 million in 2005. That’s our tax dollars potentially subsidizing death squads of the Philippine military at the cost of the Filipino people.

Come out to the show to learn a bit more about the issue and find out how you can get involved.

this damned war


At the John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, I noticed something I hadn’t seen at airports before: a separate security check line for first-class and premium passengers. (Although now that I think about it, there was probably one at SFO as well.) As we stood in the obviously slower and longer line, I turned to Izzy and said — in a voice loud enough for whoever was listening to hear, hoping to gain a sympathetic ear — “This seems kind of unfair, Izzy.”

The woman in front of me wheels around and says, “Of course it’s fair. All you have to do is pay double the fare.”

Surprised at her reaction, I said, “But it’s one thing for a private company to do that. But this is a government procedure, so it doesn’t seem very fair to make us wait longer…”

“It’s fair because they paid twice the price,” she answered. “If you want to go in the quick line, you simply pay more.”

“But it seems to discriminate against people who can’t afford to pay the higher price.” My voice started trailing off, realizing this wasn’t working, and that the “D” word — “discriminate” — probably made me sound like, you know, one of those angry “people of color.”

“Oh my god,” she said, rolling her eyes and turning away.

Of course, she was right in the sense that if people are foolish — okay, wealthy — enough to afford the first-class tickets, then they should be welcome to do so. But I don’t think this was what she was arguing. Part of what rankled me was her easy defense of the “natural,” capitalist order of things, but that shouldn’t have been a surprise.

Having separate lines was certainly understandable in the context of a private company, but this was not the case. What was perhaps most annoying was the fact that the intrusion of the public into the private, and vice versa, was so unquestioned — nothing new at all, but simply one more instance of such encroachment. First-class passengers already have separate check-in counters, a departure lounge, cushier seats, what-have-you — what’s one more perk, one supposes the airport officials thought, to reward the rich for a job well done?

Whatever one’s opinion regarding the shifting palette of homeland security threats — and you irregular readers of this blog would know mine — the fact remains that the war on terror, and its grave consequences, already affects Americans unequally. Surely its attendant inconveniences demand to be applied at least a little democratically as well.

this damned war

Forty Years Ago.

For tonight, as so many nights before, young Americans struggle and young Americans die in a distant land.

Tonight, as so many nights before, the American Nation is asked to sacrifice the blood of its children and the fruits of its labor for the love of its freedom.

How many times-in my lifetime and in yours-have the American people gathered, as they do now, to hear their President tell them of conflict and tell them of danger?

Each time they have answered. They have answered with all the effort that the security and the freedom of this Nation required.

And they do again tonight in Vietnam.

As the assault mounted, our choice gradually became clear. We could leave, abandoning South Vietnam to its attackers and to certain conquest, or we could stay and fight beside the people of South Vietnam.

We stayed.

And we will stay until aggression has stopped.

– President Lyndon B. Johnson, in his State of the Union Address, January 1966

However, as David Levering Lewis writes (in his New Yorker review of Taylor Branch’s At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68):

Still, [Johnson] confided to one of his generals that he felt “a good deal of ice cracking” under his feet.

this damned war

Petition to End Violence against Filipino People.

From The Critical Filipina and Filipino Studies Collective:

If you wish to sign the petition, please RSVP/send your reply on or by November 9, 2005, Wednesday. In the body of your e-mail, please write your name, institution and affiliation.

Reply to:

Your e-mail address will not be printed in the petition and will not be used for any other purpose other than this petition. After collecting the signatures on Nov. 9, our colleagues in Bayan-Philippines, through Dr. Joi Barrios (Associate Dean at the University of Philippines-Diliman), will submit the petition to representatives of the Philippine Government.


As progressive U.S.-based academics, writers, and labor activists, we condemn the growing spate of killings and human rights violations of political activists, peasant farmers’ rights advocates, lawyers, priests and journalists in the Philippines. The Philippine military is targeting and murdering Filipino activists and civilians under the pretense of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime’s “War on Terror.” The U.S.-backed Arroyo regime’s campaign of surveillance, abduction, torture, and execution is a campaign of terror against the Filipino people. The recent gang rape of a Filipina by six U.S. marines, stationed in the Philippines to conduct “counterterrorist operations,” is another example of the terror experienced by Filipinos under the U.S.-backed Arroyo regime.

International and Filipino human rights groups have documented that since 2001, more than 49 Filipinos have been killed by the Philippine military or paramilitary. The death toll has risen in just the last week as Filipino union leader Ricardo Ramos of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU), BAYAN-Pampanga leader Francisco Rivera, BAYAN allies Dr. Angel David, Vonjohn Maniniti, and most recently ANAKPAWIS Leader Federico De Leon were assassinated. Other recent killings include the Sept 22, 2005 assassination of labor leader Diosdado Fortuna, a Nestlé worker and chairperson of a Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement) regional chapter, and the November 16, 2004 massacre of seven striking peasant workers at Hacienda Luisita, a large sugar estate owned by the family of former President Corazon Aquino.

Since then, death squads comprised of Philippine military, police, paid mercenaries and others yet to be identified have either killed or made attempts on the lives of a wide range of progressive activists. Our U.S. troops continue to be deployed in the Philippines to train Philippine military and paramilitary forces to infiltrate and destroy progressive Filipino organizations, particularly those affiliated with the national democratic movement. The on-going investigations regarding the rape of a Filipina by six U.S. marines underscores how a dubious “War against Terror” conducted by the U.S. in the Philippines furthers violence against innocent Filipino civilians.

In deep sympathy and solidarity with organizations such as Bayan Muna, BAYAN, ANAKPAWIS, GABRIELA and Kilusang Mayo Uno/KMU, who continue to be targeted by militarist brutality, we denounce the Arroyo government and the Bush administration’s support of the Arroyo regime. Consequently, we censure the Bush and Arroyo administrations’ false accusations against anti-imperialist activism as “terrorism.” This strategy justifies and condones the brutal suppression of those who collectively organize against injustice and exploitation.

We support the Filipino people and their acts of civil disobedience such as peaceful rallies, marches and protest actions. We stand in solidarity with the Filipino people’s desire to end the illegitimate and tyrannical regime of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and end U.S. military presence in the Philippines.

We ask our U.S. colleagues and conscientious individuals to:

1) Boycott any and all Nestlé Company products and Nestlé Company subsidiaries
2) Invite Bayan activists to your institution to discuss the human rights atrocities in the Philippines. Contact the Critical Filipina and Filipino Studies Collective at for more information or contact Bayan-USA: Bayan-USA chair, Kawal Ulanday at or call 800 -874-9794.
3) Sponsor a film screening on a new documentary on human rights violations
in the Philippines, There’s Blood in Your Coffee, a documentary on the continuing 3+year Nestlé workers’ strike in Cabuyao, Laguna, Southern Tagalog, where Filipino Nestlé Union President and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Labor Leader Diosdado “Ka Fort” Fortuna was brutally murdered. We also recommend Hacienda Luisita, a film documenting the struggles of sugar cane and sugar processing plant workers and the violence against their efforts to organize and to demand for better wage and living conditions. This documentary film honors the lives of the workers who were killed on November 16, 2004.

We hope you will join our global efforts to expose and end the brutality of the Arroyo regime.

Maraming salamat and peace,


Members of the Critical Filipina and Filipino Studies Collective
1) Benito Vergara Jr.
Assistant Professor
Asian American Studies Department
San Francisco State University, CA

2) Rowena Tomaneng
Associate Professor
English Department
De Anza Community College, CA

3) Neferti X. Tadiar
Associate Professor
History of Consciousness Department
University of California, Santa Cruz

4) Jeffrey Santa Ana
Assistant Professor
English Department
Dartmouth College, NH

5) Joanne Rondilla
Doctoral student
Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies University of California, Berkeley

6) Robyn M. Rodriguez
Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology
Rutgers University, NJ

7) Dylan Rodriguez
Assistant Professor
Department of Ethnic Studies
University of California, Riverside

8) Gladys Nubla
Doctoral student
Department of English
University of California, Berkeley

9) Vernadette V. Gonzalez
Assistant Professor
Department of Global Studies
Saint Lawrence University, NY

10) Luis Francia
Journalist, Village Voice and Philippine Inquirer Author and Lecturer, Asian Pacific American Studies Program New York University, NY

11) Sharon Delmendo
Professor of English
St. John Fisher College
Rochester, NY

12) Peter Chua
Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology
San Jose State University, CA

13) Lucy Mae San Pablo Burns
Assistant Professor
Departments of Asian American Studies and World Arts and Cultures University of California, Los Angeles

14) John D. Blanco
Assistant Professor
Department of Literature
University of California, San Diego

15) Nerissa Balce
Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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