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Meet Prof. Jeremy Kuzmarov Author of Modernizing Repression: Police Training and Nation Building in the American Century (Culture, Politics, and the Cold War)?
http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/5152/1/Meet-Prof-Jeremy-Kuzmarov-Author-of-Modernizing-Repression-Police-Training-and-Nation-Building-in-the-American-Century-Culture-Politics-and-the-Cold-War/Page1.html
Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on July 11, 2012
 


Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com Interviews Prof. Jeremy Kuzmarov Whose Most Recent Tome is Modernizing Represssion


                                                                                                                                                              


Today, Norm Goldman Publisher &  Editor of Bookpleasures.com is honored to have as our guest Prof. Jeremy Kuzmarov.

Jeremy has earned his Ph.D and M.A from Brandeis University and his B.A from McGill University. His areas of academic specialty are modern American history and U.S. foreign relations history. He also has a background in criminological studies. His areas of research focus on the American empire, America and the world, American covert operations, war and society, American criminal justice system and its internationalization, US War on drugs, International police training programs.

Jeremy  is the Jay P. Walker Assistant Professor of History at the University of Tulsa and author of From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency: Vietnam and the International War on Drugs, The Myth of the Addicted Army: Vietnam and the Modern War on Drugs (Culture, Politics and Cold War) and his most recent tome, Modernizing Repression: Police Training and Nation Building in the American Century (Culture, Politics, and the Cold War)?

Good day Jeremy and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.

Jeremy:

I have a background in criminological studies from McGill University and also advanced history degrees and have combined my two interests in writing and researching my two books, which look at the intersection between US crime control and foreign policy.

Norm:

How did you decide you were ready to write  Modernizing Repression: Police Training and Nation Building in the American Century (Culture, Politics, and the Cold War) and why did you became interested in the subject matter?

Jeremy:

I came at the topic in researching my dissertation at Brandeis University on the US War on Drugs (which was published in 2009, as The Myth of the Addicted Army: Vietnam and the Modern War on Drugs).

In brief, that book examines the sensationalism that developed over the addiction of US soldiers to drugs in the Vietnam War and escalation of the US international drug war in that period. The second half of the book examines US drug policy operations, which were run out of USAID’s Office of Public Safety (OPS), a highly controversial organization that trained foreign police agents, often in counter-insurgency, but also counter-narcotics.

I found a rich repository of government documents at the US National Archives that provided a basis for my book, Modernizing Repression, which builds on the research for my first book and looks at the history of these police training operations, going back to the US conquest of the colonial Philippines. The bulk of the book focuses on the Cold War and OPS operations in Third World countries such as Vietnam.

Norm:

Could you briefly describe what your recent book  Modernizing Repression: Police Training and Nation Building in the American Century (Culture, Politics, and the Cold War)? is all about?

Jeremy:

To build off the last question, the book focuses on police training programs as an element of US imperial strategy dating from the US conquest of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century through the present. A primary focus is on the Cold War period, where clandestine policing operations were designed to assist in anticommunist rollback operations and to fortify client regimes.

The book looks at how the original aims of the programs – to modernize and professionalize the police and security forces of client regimes – were ultimately used in the service of larger foreign policy interests and led to considerable abuses, as police were predominantly trained in paramilitary and clandestine surveillance methods, provided repressive equipment like tear gas and leg irons, and mobilized to fight communists (which often entailed being mobilized to suppress any form of dissent). The OPS was particularly influential in establishing improved record collection standards and computerized databanks of “subversives” which were used for round-up campaigns (which evolved in cases such as Vietnam, South Korea, Indonesia and Guatemala into outright death squad operations).

Norm:

Where did you get your information and ideas for Modernizing Repression: Police Training and Nation Building in the American Century (Culture, Politics, and the Cold War)?

Jeremy:

Most of the information is in the USAID files at the National Archives in Washington. I also obtained significant documentation from the major presidential research libraries, including the Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson libraries, and also the Michigan State University Archives. During the early 1950s, Michigan State was contracted by the US State Department to train the South Vietnamese police in a controversial operation exposed by the antiwar Ramparts Magazine in 1966. Another element of my research was detective work in tracking down biographical information on the police advisers sent by the US overseas. Some were affiliated with US intelligence agencies such as the CIA, and so I found some information on them in the OSS files (a number worked for the OSS – the precursor to the CIA in World War II, including in China’s Kunming station, where they were involved in supporting Jiang Jieshi in the Chinese civil war).

Norm:

Who is your intended audience and  is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp? As a  follow up,  do you  believe your  book is important book at this time, and if so why?

Jeremy:

My audience is foreign policy specialists and hopefully the general reading public. The book has a clear message – that even democratic governments operate in secrecy and deceive the public regarding the purposes of their foreign policy. We should thus open our eyes and ears to what the real and hidden agendas that these governments pursue and how the manipulate the public’s concern for human rights to serve their interests (which are often closely tied to the interests of dominant financial groups in society).

Furthermore, we should be aware that US power has historically been expanded through covert mechanisms, including the police programs, which have often yielded highly destructive consequences in the subject societies and are a major source of what the CIA calls “blowback” or backlash, at times violent, against the West. We should be concerned with the revival of police training programs in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bahrain (a former Miami police chief has recently been sent to train the internal security forces there as they crush the opposition), and also Latin America (Honduras, Mexico and Colombia are three cases where covert policing operations have been set in place). Antiwar groups and progressive thinking people in my view should oppose clandestine operations such as the police programs that serve an imperial agenda (such as access to strategic resources, establishing military bases and expanding US and western military power).  

Ironically, as the US continues to train foreign police forces, we are seeing growing police repression right now domestically, as exemplified in brutality exhibited against student protestors and the Occupy movement (in New York, California, for example, as well as Montreal) and also growing reports of prison brutality (The Senate recently held hearings on draconian solitary confinement policies in US prisons). Thus, the current programs are especially troublesome and the book is very timely given what is going on today.

Norm:

What was one of the most surprising thing you learned in writing your book?

Jeremy:

I learned a great deal about the wide scope of US intervention in Third World countries. One of my chapters focuses on Africa, and how the US was involved in trying to contain the spread of Pan-African ideologies in the Cold War, and how they worked with some very repressive regimes there, Mobutu in Zaire, Haillie Selassie in Ethiopia, Emperor Bokassa in Central Africa Republic and Juvenal Habayrimana in Rwanda for example. They even trained some of Idi Amin’s men in Uganda through police programs along with the British.

In addition, I developed a better understanding of how intelligence agencies and top government leaders think – their obsession with “internal security,” their main concern over strategic interests rather than human rights (in spite of high minded public rhetoric emphasis human rights) and often their lack of human empathy for the conditions of poverty and inequality that drive many of the opposition and guerrilla movements in the Third World (They usually adopted a conspiratorial worldview blaming all unrest on outside agitators or foreign powers). The police programs were frequently a substitute for seeking constructive solutions to political and social problems.

Norm:

What challenges or obstacles did you encounter while writing your book? How did you overcome these challenges?

Jeremy:

The main challenge was synthesizing a large body of information and documents into a coherent narrative. The other was a dearth of information on the personnel involved in police training operations, which I was able to overcome through detective work, and also thanks to the internet which has made information available that would have been impossible to find otherwise.

Norm:

Do you feel that writers, regardless of genre owe something to readers, if not, why not, if so, why and what would that be?

Jeremy:

Sure. They should try and present their analysis in a clear and coherent fashion. Too many academic works in my opinion, are written in an obtuse way, to show off the supposed erudition or sophistication of the author, and they can confuse or turn off the reader in the process. This is not universal, of course, it is true though of some academic works.

Norm:

Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We would love to hear all about them!)

Jeremy:

No, I am taking a break at this time from writing. I may pursue further research on topics related to my books and also plan in the future on looking at western involvement in sub-Saharan Africa in the post-colonial era (an understudied topic).

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?

Jeremy:

On the University of Massachusetts WEBSITE.

Norm:

As our interview comes to an end,  is there anything you wish to add that we have not covered?

Jeremy:

Thank you very much for the interview.

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

Follow Here To Purchase Modernizing Repression: Police Training and Nation Building in the American Century (Culture, Politics, and the Cold War)

 Follow Here To Listen To An Interview With Prof. Jeremy Kuzmaroff