Inter-Cultural Expertise: Soldiers and Historians
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The historian should be a partner to the soldier in the attempt better to understand culture as a feature of present-day military service. To do so, however, such historians must also be experts in the culture of soldiers — a different kind of inter-cultural expertise that must underlie any serious effort to bring the nuances of cultural study and understanding to the practice of soldiering. The study of the past faces notable limits in the higher aspects of security, defense and war that inhere in the culture of soldiers as well as the regard (or rather disregard) for the past in our post-modern society, especially in the United States. These professional limits and the challenges to what one might call an understanding of inter-cultural expertise at the strategic level form the subjects for the next forty minutes. (The question at hand also has implications for democratic civil military relations, a subject that remains at the heart of these seminars, now in their tenth year — something historical in its own right. Might I also add that what follows is a distillate of my own more than thirty years’ experience in this matter as an historian in university think-tanks and the US government.)
CMR Vienna 2007
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