The U.S. Military's Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)—the Pentagon's arm in Latin America responsible for all U.S. bases the region—is using the academy to help plan and legitimize its counterinsurgency plans throughout the hemisphere.
Recently, SOUTHCOM formed a partnership with the Applied Research Center at Florida International University (FIU) to carry out "strategic culture" studies (http://strategicculture.fiu.edu/).
In the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan the U.S. military used psychologists to supervise torture sessions and teams of anthropologists and other academics in its "Human Terrain System" program, a project meant to convince the U.S. public and international community that it was engaged in an humane and culturally sensitive war. The use of these social science disciplines for military purposes led psychologists and anthropologists to raise their voices in protest, based in the firm conviction that social science should not be at the service of war.
Now, these disastrous military strategies are being applied to Latin American countries. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador,Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela are the new targets of "strategic culture" studies, carried out "to generate a rich and dynamic base of knowledge pertaining to the political, social, and strategic factors that influence state behavior; and to contribute to SOUTHCOM’s Socio-Cultural Dynamics (SCD) Program."
The FIU-SOUTHCOM website states: "Utilizing the notion of Strategic Culture, SOUTHCOM has commissioned FIU [Applied Research Center] to conduct country studies in order to explain how states comprehend, interpret, and implement national security policy vis-à-vis the international system."
To achieve these aims, SOUTHCOM and FIU have carried out a series of workshops covering each country, inviting "experts" to participate. The results of aninvestigation by U.S. anthropologist Adrienne Pine show that in the case of FIU-SOUTHCOM's Honduras workshop, nearly all participants had worked actively to legitimize the 2009 coup d'etat in that country. Among the "academics" present was a person claiming a false affiliation, experts in political destabilization, representatives of a business group that financed the Honduran coup, and a three-time graduate of the School of the Americas.
In order to prevent the continued use of our taxes for the usurpation of democracy and violent suppression of legitimate dissent in Latin America, we must work to expose the many-headed hydra of the military-industrial complex and its allies among NGOs, universities, contractors and powerful corporations. We must publicly challenge the massive spending of our tax dollars on the infrastructure of imperialism—like the FIU-SOUTHCOM alliance, or SOUTHCOM's new $237 million headquarters in Miami—instead of on the schools, hospitals, and infrastructure of democracy that we so desperately need at home.
SOUTHCOM's New Building
We must raise our voices in protest and demand a stop to the use of social science for military ends. And most importantly, we must join with our brothers and sisters throughout the hemisphere to oppose the U.S. military occupation of the Americas.