Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Flashback: War, A Social Science.

Thomas Barnett has this post Iraq victory approximation where he comments on an AFTER ACTION REPORT by General Barry R. McCaffrey USA (Ret) on his recent visit to Iraq and Kuwait.

Tom Begins:

The latest from McCaffrey on Iraq. Note that it's addressed to Col Michael Meese, son of Reagan's AG, who served famously in Petraeus' brain trust during the surge and now wields his considerable influence as a new thinker at West Point. He was kind enough to send me a copy of On Point II after our F2F there last spring.

I would urge everyone to read every word of General McCaffrey's report. He serves up an eagle eyed view of the current conditions in Iraq. His bullet point critque of what went wrong is a lesson for the ages, in how not to win the peace.

What I found intriguing about the report is that it is addressed to Colonel Michael Meese, Professor and Head Dept of Social Sciences United States Military Academy. Note, the Social Sciences Dept. In an earlier post, War, A Social Science? I commented on this question, first raised by Adam Elkus of Re Thinking Security , after reading about it in a post by Mark of Zenpundit calling attention to Adam's post The Study of War as A Social Science.

Even though the U.S. Military Academy has a Military history section in their history department, they seem to be taking a page from Clausewitz, that "War is an extension of politics" and seeing the study of war, as an Elkus writes. would be better to re-concieve the study of strategic affairs as a multi-disciplinary social science major combining sociology, international relations, philosophy, political science, cognitive science, economics, history, and "pure" military theory.

Adam further comments.

War as a social science akin to sociology or economics would bring empirical and quantitative rigor into the study of military history and affairs on the undergraduate level as well as a focus on the mechanics of war (tactics, operational art, strategy, and grand strategy) rarely seen outside of a Professional Military Education (PME).

Major learning institutions would do well to borrow this from the service academies.

Elkus writes that this would serve every viewpoint.

I see learning about strategy in itself as the key aim of such a curriculum--the goal would be to produce a student able to either apply his or her learnings in a think-tank or government, join the armed forces, come up with reasonable anti-war critiques as an activist, resolve conflict as a humanitarian, or apply strategy in the corporate world.

Anyway, just a few musings on a thought thread pulled by Barnett's post.

No comments: