What is On Violence?

Who We Are

A Brief History

Our Approach

What is On Violence?

On Violence is a blog on counter-insurgency warfare, military and foreign affairs, art, and violence, written by two brothers--one a soldier and the other a pacifist. We publish every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with an occasional extra post. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Our work has appeared in The Washington Post, Stars and Stripes, The Small Wars Journal, The New York Times’ "At War" blog, The Los Angeles Times’ Blowback feature, FP.com and Thomas Ricks’ “The Best Defense” blog, Infantry Magazine, and Doonesbury’s “The Sandbox”. Click here to read more.

Who We Are   

On Violence is written and edited by both Michael Cummings and Eric Cummings. We co-write every article and have decided not to differentiate authorship. Every so often, On Violence hosts a guest post by Matty P.

Our work has appeared in The New York Times’ "At War" blog, The Los Angeles Times’ “Blowback” feature, ForeignPolicy.com and Thomas Ricks’ “The Best Defense” blog, Infantry Magazine, KillScreen.com and Doonesbury’s “The Sandbox”.

Notably, we wrote the op-ed, “I Didn’t Deserve My Combat Pay” for The Washington Post that was picked up by Stars and Stripes, The Lincoln Journal Star, The Bangor Daily News, The Delaware Online, The Oregonian and The Charlotte Sun.

We have also begun selling jokes to comics in the Los Angeles area, including Justin Rupple, a finalist in the Seattle International Comedy Competition.

Michael Cummings graduated from UCLA with Honors in 2006 with degrees in History and Political Science. He joined the ROTC program and commissioned as an Officer in the U.S. Army. He has graduated from the Military Intelligence Captain's Career Course (on the Commandant’s List), Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course (again on the Commandant’s List), U.S. Army Ranger School and U.S. Army Airborne School.

In 2007, he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom VIII with 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment The ROCK, part of the 173rd ABCT as a Heavy Weapons Platoon Leader. During his service, he has earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Army Achievement Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Bronze Star Medal. After his Platoon Leader time, he worked as the Battalion Adjutant for The ROCK. He returned in October from his second deployment, this time to Iraq as a Military Intelligence analyst.

Michael lives in Los Angeles, and is attending UCLA's Anderson School of Management to earn his MBA.

(The views expressed on this website are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.)

To contact Michael C, please click here.

Eric Cummings graduated from UCSB in 2006, where he majored in English.

During college, Eric was the secretary of the Isla Vista Surfrider chapter and led the successful campaign to save “Claire’s Park” a local bluff top open space set for development. His senior year he co-chaired the campus Environmental Affairs Board, and co-led an effort to create The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF), a student wide green fund that has now been replicated on 5 other campuses across the country.

Since graduation Eric has travelled around the world, worked as a reporter for a local paper, and delayed applying for grad school. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

To contact Eric, please click here.

Matty P graduated from UCSB in 2006 with a degree in biological sciences.

Since then, he has worked as a part time youth pastor and a full time EMT. The son and the brother of soldiers, Matty has been inundated by what it means to be a part of a military family. Working with the not-for-profit organization Refugee Relief International, he has also seen first hand the result of war and attempted genocide.

A Brief History

In Michael Cs words: This website began when, as an ROTC cadet at UCLA, I tried to write about Violence. Starting with a definition from Webster’s Dictionary, I was only able to express a vague feeling that we -- society -- needed to stop violence. I stopped there.

After a failed mission during training, my urge to explain violence returned. I played the OPFOR (military jargon for Opposition Force, re the bad guy) and took on the role of an Iraqi civilian/insurgent, depending on how the US Army played its role. First an Army Soldier approached the door, pounded on it and bellowed, “Open the fucking door.” With such an opening they preceded to zip tie everyone inside and search the house. One of our members ran out of the house and, though he was not running at Americans, was killed in a hail of imaginary gunfire. I asked myself, “Is this how we fight our wars?”

This simple question led to an internal search and probing about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.What are we trying to accomplish? Politically? Socially? What do Iraqis think? What do they feel? I started asking these questions, probing in small parts, collecting my thoughts and journaling my experiences. As I continued through graduation and commissioning, and Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course (IBOLC), the frequency of my questions only increased.

Then I deployed to Afghanistan and I saw violence and its effects first hand. I saw the economic degradation of a society and the effects of fear and hatred. After deployment, fed up with much of the Army and its management style -- probably the only thing more maddening then war is Army bureaucracy -- I decided to create this website.

On May 6, 2009, we launched onviolence.com.

Our Approach

While primarily a blog on foreign affairs and military culture, we don’t limit our scope to our current wars. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are only the most obvious incidences of violence in our world today. We want to cure the sickness not the symptom, so we cover all violence.

To understand it, we will use non-fiction, journalism, statistics, and history. We will blog on all the topics of academic knowledge including philosophy, economics, history, sociology, psychology and science. More radically, though, we will use fiction, personal experience and art to try and tease out the larger truths about violence.

That is the what of our approach. This is the why: Violence is such a commonality of life that a mundane approach will not work. Only an approach that uses every tool will lead to a greater understanding.