Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rethinking WHINSEC

José M. Marrero and Lee A. Rials, "WHINSEC: Forging International Relationships, Strengthening Regional Democracies." Military Review January-February 2012: 55-58.

I think the topic of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, famously formerly the School of the Americas, is ripe for scholarly re-evaluation. I did a little bit, but it's been almost a decade. Too much of the literature is still stuck in the Cold War. WHINSEC needs to be critically examined as it exists in the 21st century, not for its past.

Supporters of the school can certainly play a part, but I was disappointed by this article, written by two members of WHINSEC's staff. It contains no references, and is just a repetition of the type of information already available at WHINSEC's website. It would be great for Military Review (and even its Spanish-language version) to publish something meatier in defense of the institution, something that engages the scholarly literature as opposed to assuming that SOA Watch typifies those who study it.

For now, unfortunately, objectivity is mostly absent. Academics who write about WHINSEC tend to dislike it--and often even the idea of military-to-military contact more broadly--and want it closed, while its supporters become defensive and proclaim its glories. Indeed, one of this article's authors rather angrily commented on this blog back in 2007 and accused me of never visiting a class at WHINSEC (when in fact I made two separate trips and did sit in classes, then wrote an article about the school's curriculum). Anyway, it's a sign of how the debate typically goes.


Lillie Langtry 9:49 AM  

Ah, I'd forgotten about Rials, he commented on my blog years ago as well. WHINSEC certainly used to be diligent about its media/social network monitoring.

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