Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Kindler, Gentler Military Junta

Sometimes you wonder what people are thinking… Foreign Policy magazine reports that last year, a consulting firm founded by the men responsible for the prosecution of Sierra Leone’s President Charles Taylor on charges of crimes against humanity offered their services to the neighboring West African nation of Guinea to educate his military on how to observe the basic norms of human rights law. If that’s not odd enough, the training material included a PowerPoint presentation with slides that included such nuggets of wisdom as: soldiers should not shoot civilians (you would kind of hope you wouldn’t need to teach basics like that).

Ultimately the training sessions never took place because of an attempted coup against Guinea’s current junta chief Captain Moussa Dadis Camara. It got me thinking though about the over-reliance on PowerPoint presentations these days and reminded me of a story I read back when Poland was being brought into NATO. A group of Polish generals were brought to observe a NATO mock military maneuver, the day of course started with a PowerPoint presentation about the upcoming operation. This being the 1990s, the Poles were duly impressed by the (then) hi-tech presentation, but they pointed out to their American and European hosts that in a real battle, while NATO command were off preparing their PowerPoint slides, the Poles would be out in the field killing their troops.
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