"Colonizing" ACW studies

McClellan's War author Ethan Rafuse recently posted on the Ivy League PhD brain trust surrounding the Iraq pacification commander David Petraeus. The story plays into an observation by Reverend G:
This expansion of the war discourse has also opened the war discourse to colonization by other intellectual discourses. In my analysis, at least on an intellectual level, these other discourses are more mature, that is to say developed with greater rigor, than the discourse of war.

Reverend G is responding to a sudden abundance of writing on "Fifth Generational Warfare (5GW)" - which seems to take as its ethos a higher level of complexity and cross-disciplinarianism than even 4GW. But if you think colonization is too strong a word, you haven't been paying attention to what the legal field has been doing to warfare, or rather lawfare.

This has everything to do with Civil War history. The intellectual poverty at large in institutional military analysis is a pass-through affecting popular history writing. For example, as noted here previously, military historians and teachers follow primitive - even laughable - pop history memes and structures in analyzing their own realms. This has been their level of self-confidence and self-reliance.

Those same characteristics that make Civil War history such a prime destination for second-raters also makes it susceptible to takeover by the more "mature" discourses. Johns Hopkins just sent me a volume in masculinity studies (!?) connecting Southern white culture to the origins of the war, for example. "Masculinity studies" is not a mature field, is it, and yet it doesn't mind strolling on the ACW beachfront, kicking sand into the faces of all those fools retelling their Catton/Nevins/Williams/McPherson stories.

And so, if even "immature" discourses are well poised to have their way with us we are in trouble. Our respectability quotient is still too low, there are too few Rafuses currently at large. In fact the "greatest living Civil War historian" himself has denounced postmodernism, so engaged is he with new thinking.*

The authors, editors and prize committees who have manufactured consensus since the Centennial now face an eruption of ideas, arguments, and suggestions that will not only sweep them away (thanks be) but will in the course of so doing bend the trajectory of a discipline that needs to mature in peace on its own terms.

"There is more emphasis placed on archival research, on innovative methodology, on new breakthrough interpretations, on methodology in academia, and increasing specialization. There is increasing focus on fields like environmental history and women's history and social history and cliometrics, which is a sort of quantitative economic history with a specialized language. All of this makes what a lot of academic historians write either unintelligible or uninteresting to a broad lay audience." - James M. McPherson