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Re: <nettime> IDF reading Deleuze and Guattari (and Debord)
Keith Sanborn on Tue, 22 Aug 2006 07:29:01 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> IDF reading Deleuze and Guattari (and Debord)

Dear Eric:

Perhaps I was not utterly clear in responding to 
the information presented about the IDF and their 
new reading materials.

I think the article on Israeli tactics has the 
odor of the New York Times on Sunday: fashionable 
obfuscation. While it's not utterly uninteresting 
that the military is reading Debord or Deleuze 
and Guattari, it's worse than beside the point. 
It gives a fashionable label to their tactics and 
might be seen as cautionary to intellectuals 
suggesting radical attacks on the status quo: 
Can't they be recuperated, after all? Or worse: 
hey, these guys are reading the same stuff we 
are; we must have something in common. Militarism 
with a hipster face. Or again: gosh, maybe if the 
IDF is interested, there must be something wrong 
with this material.

You are right in saying, that the age of theory 
is not so important in judging its validity, but 
the point of the article seemed to be how au 
courant the IDF was. And as you rightly point 
out, the tactics allegedly being derived from 
this reading of French avant-garde intellectuals 
are not anything new in urban warfare. I 
mentioned that point because one, I was giving 
them the benefit of the doubt as to the novelty 
of the tactic-misplaced as you point out-and two, 
it seemed to reveal the whole story in one 
psychological metaphor. I don't think it was 
accidental that the person describing the horror 
of the terrorist side of this tactic on its 
victims was a woman. Third, it betrays the 
unstated intent of the tactic: destruction of 
physical infrastructure and living space. People 
who get killed are not even collateral damage in 
this scenario. It is the obscenity--the placement 
off-stage of this casual extermination--of this 
strategy which gets lost in this article and its 
unexamined reportage.

I agree that Sun-Tzu is a very interesting and 
widely influential thinker. For that reason, 
everyone in the universe from businessmen to 
artists has been reading Sun-Tzu for the last 25 
years and any military tactician who's been 
trained in the last 200 years anywhere in the 
world has, or should have read Sun-Tzu. When I 
lasted checked several years ago, there were over 
a dozen editions in print in English alone. 
Debord studied Sun-Tzu closely along with von 
Clausewitz and actually did derive some cultural 
strategies, if not specific tactics, from that 
reading. He quotes von Clausewitz a bit more 
frequently than Sun Tsu, however. Thanks for that 
information about Nguyen Giap; I will add "Revolt 
in the Desert" to my reading list.

As a small footnote, I find that Napoleon's 
writings on the art of war (Comment faire la 
guerre, Editions Champ Libre or my own English 
translation of that same collection) are at least 
equally relevant to contextualizing current 
"culture" and real wars. Napoleon gives us the 
first critique of ideology; he coined the word 
"id?ologue," for example.


Keith Sanborn

> The article on Israeli tactical thinking is interesting
> in (1) demonstrating the intellectual bent of some of
> their field commanders and (2) the use of analogy to
> apply studies in one subject to development of methods
> of action in another.

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