Friday, May 17, 2013

Evolution of WHINSEC

I've spent a few days at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. For quite a while, I had been wanting to do a follow up (a sequel, if you will) on an article I published in 2003, which was based on two trips I made here in 2002. That was very soon after the switch from School of the Americas, and I wanted to know how it had evolved since. As with the work I did over a decade ago, I wanted to do so by looking at the structure of the institution and the courses it offers. Conceptually, I wanted to apply the work of Kathryn Sikkink and others who have analyzed the ways in which the US government has adopted human rights practices even when we might expect it would not.

It's been illuminating, and I have a lot to chew over. As with all research, one fun part has been finding things I did not expect. One is that unlike SOA, WHINSEC has become more tightly bound to the U.S. Army as an institution. Unlike the past, now more and more U.S. soldiers attend courses that are the same they would receive elsewhere (Ft. Leavenworth, for example). That makes the school more valuable to the army, and I think makes it less likely it will be closed.


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