Controversy: FM 3-24 Plagiarism Scandal

Want a good laugh? Have you followed the growing freak-out by anthropologists who fret over the perversion of their profession for national security and saving lives? If you have or haven’t, check out Abu Muqawama’s post (below) on the latest in this culture clash, as well as Sharon’s comment at Danger Room on the same:

Issandr over at The Arabist — whose job description includes reading publications like CounterPunch so Abu Muqawama doesn’t have to — sent over a .pdf file yesterday morning of this article, which you can now read for free. In it, David Pryce pretty much tees off on the authors of FM 3-24, accusing them of plagiarism as well as, hilariously, being "marginally skilled writers" and "desperate people with limited skills." (Nope, no academic elitism here. None at all. Look away, please.)

Yes, folks, it’s a smear piece. (Pryce can’t even be bothered to get John "Jon" Nagl’s name right in the original article, he’s so full of righteous anger.) Yes, it was published by CounterPunch, whose breathless headline was "Pilfered Scholarship Devastates General Petraeus’s Counterinsurgency Manual." (Who writes their headlines? The Sun?) And yes, the charges that Page 3 stunner Montgomery McFate is "prostituting" the field of anthropology to the services of empire is nothing new either. (Abu Muqawama guesses this is because of the obvious financial rewards involved with a Harvard Law graduate working for, uh, the federal government.) But the plagiarism claim is new and deserves attention. Read the article, and don’t feel bad if you skip toward the end to the unacknowledged sources section.

In the final analysis, the folks over at the Wired blog probably have it correct when they write:

Does military doctrine need to adhere to academic standards? No, it doesn’t, it’s not scholarship. Then again, should Pentagon officials really be surprised that academics are acting, well, like academics? No, they shouldn’t be.

Read the rest at AM and Danger Room….