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I received an off-list comment on some of the discussion on this thread
that I thought raised some issues that might be of general interest.
I have anonymized the person who sent me the message to which I am
responding. What is new here that may or may not be something others
want to discuss has to due with the ethics of "technique" and issues of
what Human Subjects protection means.
My response to a question below:
It is not a question of cultures (unless you mean the issues I raised
about organization among the troops to defend human values) but of
functions and activities.
Regardless of subjective intentions among the Commanders, the military
of the USA, UK, and others are currently involved in mass killing in
Afghanistan and Iraq, for example. You or I may or may not want to
defend that on political grounds, but clearly this is what they are
What I object to on this or other scientific list-serves is the
assumption that there is a value-free "technique" that is the sole
object of discussion, whether it be military social network analysis,
the creation of poison gases or new viruses for use against populations,
or the selling of Coca Cola (or tofu) to clientele. In the medical and
public health fields, at least, due to Human SUbjects requirements,
these issues are called ethics--and are part of scientific discussion.
Has the military social network research been through a properly
constituted Human SUbjects Board review?
Do those on whom the research is carried out get a chance to reject
participation through an informed consent procedure?
Do those on whom the re-shaped military will do whatever they do more
effiiciently have the chance to be part of the Human Subjects procedure?
To reject being done to by the military through an informed consent
>>> Anonymized message to me was:>>>
The common assumption underlying both of your questions is that the
Commanders (it is a word in this context that should be capitalized)
wish to destroy societies and peoples and are against the creation of a
decent world. Also, you juxtapose these two closely related 'goals'
(that you impute to Commanders in general) with opposite responses to
those goals. So, conceptually speaking, instead of creating a statement
that dispassionately illustrates the valid point of making sure that we
expose value issues when addressing our organizational structure goals,
you have created a stereotyped picture of military organization and
culture that becomes a strawman.
I will agree that you are not hiding these issues, but I will continue
to assert that your underlying assumption is boilerplate in many circles
and is generally left unquestioned (perhaps this is a better way to
characterize what I previously described as 'hidden'). It is also
grossly incorrect. In fact, the evolution of Western militaries (please
don't assume this to include Nazi or Soviet militaries) has been
continuously toward the antithesis of destruction of "other societies
and peoples" and toward destruction of only other militaries. Quite the
opposite of the picture you paint with your questions and especially
true of the United States' Military.
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