A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, August 17, 2009

The US Military and 1) Social Networking, and 2) Middle East Studies

This post is a link to a couple of interesting posts, one of which only indirectly relates to the Middle East. Military historian Mark Grimsley at the Army War College, whose military history blog with the delightful title Blog Them out of the Stone Age is not particularly devoted to our part of the world except for the rather large part of the US military who currently find themselves there, has some posts on the military's wrestling with social networking sites. His latest is here, and it also refers back to this earlier posting. Clearly the Army is opening up a bit to social networking, while the Marines seem to be circling the wagons, if I read this right. As Grimsley notes, the recent use of Twitter by Iranian protesters is a reminder that we should not simply close off channels of communications. As he also notes, servicepersons are free to network on their own personal computers, but when deployed they are dependent on military networks.

In a separate post, Grimsley also notes Marc Lynch's recent post on the possible impact on the Middle Eastern studies field of incoming veterans. I didn't link to the original Lynch post, so I'm doing so now, and here's Grimsley's comment thereon. I think that there has been, for some time, a disconnect between the academic Middle East Studies community and the government/policy community, but since MEI and The Middle East Journal straddle the boundary between the academic and policy communities, I've always tried to talk to both "sides" myself and introduce them to each other. I do suspect a generation of ex-servicepersons coming into the academic world will change the field a bit, probably for the better (my own generation, formed in 60's rebellion, tends toward some increasingly outdated ideological positions and also tends to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian cockpit rather than the current confrontations in the Gulf).

I won't add my own comments beyond what's here; the links are worth your time, though.

1 comment:

JR said...

I'd be a little concerned about students entering the field whose focus was on how to get the locals to toe the imperial line.