How To Kill A Rational Peasant

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This post is half-placeholder, and half-recommendation to one and all concerning “How to Kill A Rational Peasant”: a very good film and article made in 2012 by Adam Curtis, on the history and development of counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine and its misapplications and perversions.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/entries/93073500-9459-3bbb-a3e5-cde7a1cc2559

It’s necessary to do this because simply Googling the title of the film leads you to an old URL for the post which is no longer functioning.

So many great references… he leaps and bounds from the story of Jack Idema, a noted fake “security expert”, to David Galula to the film Battle of Algiers to the OAS to The Ugly American to the RAND Corporation’s cost-benefit theories of counterinsurgency, which approach is summarized in this book:

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And thence to the failure in Vietnam, the Phoenix Program, CORDS and finally to the 2007 “Surge” in Iraq under General David Petraeus, equipped as he was with FM 3-24 which was in turn inspired by Galula’s theories.

Wargamers will be tickled to note that Curtis introduces one of the film clips thus:

I have also put at the front of the film a wonderful couple of minutes of two civilian “advisers” in Vietnam playing a board game called “Insurgency”. It had been designed by one of the team to express and test out their theories. It sets the weird context for the even stranger reality that then follows.

I don’t know how to embed the clip here, it’s about 2/3 of the way down the post and the initial image is of a bunch of flowers. Anyway, the two analysts are playing what appears to be an early version of the game Insurgency, published by Battleline in 1979, and one of them must be Blake Smith, whose debrief on his time with the AID Program in Vietnam has been published here: http://hdl.handle.net/10524/1110

Anyway, I highly recommend this… and now I don’t have to scramble around every time to point someone to it.

 

 

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About brtrain
This blog is mostly devoted to posts, work and resources on "serious" conflict simulation games.

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