Congratulations on the move. I hope it is everything you hope it will be.
As a commentator on this blog and others, I sometimes think of myself as one of those little fish who follow a shark and feed on the leftover scraps that float by in the water. It is great that Mead has freedom as a writer and we can be more than readers. Maybe we are his chorus.
Upon further thought, I hope this means that you will be free from some of the restrictions that your previous position demanded and that you may become a more conspicuous figure in public discourse; perhaps, something like BHL in France with more substance and less hair or H.M. Enzensberger.
The more ubiquitous of the professed public intellectuals currently are probably Meacham, Goodwin and Brinkley and they really aren’t all that impressive (trying to be very Christian here).
Have you had your agent call CSPN2 about guest hosting their ‘After Words’ program, devoted to American history? CSPN2 could use a semi-regular moderator to elevate the level of discourse a bit.
I wish the CFR good luck in finding a new Kissinger fellow of equal or greater merit than yourself. And congrats to you on the new teaching gig and the much shorter commute.
“I am a generalist” That is the crux of the issue. Generalists such as yourself are a dying breed, and that isn’t necessarily bad. Rather than read one person’s opinions on many subjects, isn’t it more democratic (and better, as you admit) to read 5 people on topics that they concentrate on?
As far as preparing the young ones for the workplace, listing “generalist” on your resume will never get you a job. In education, I believe the liberal arts colleges are great, but because of how well they teach skills, not how wide (and necessarily shallow) their intellectual and cultural knowledge is. How to communicate, both written and oral, and how to market themselves are the most needed skills in my opinion.
“Writers used to have this kind of direct relationship with their audience.” Well, you’ve never had much of a direct relationship on this blog, and any relationship to readers isn’t mentioned in your list of loves. How about starting by responding to this?
As for the changes coming to the website, I would suggest updating your commenting software. When all comments are held for moderation, it is better to tell commenters that, rather than make it appear that the comment was immediately published. Currently, a commenter cannot tell if a comment was rejected.
Hearty congratulations, Professor Mead. While the CFR is losing a gem, Bard is gaining a Lion. Keep up the amazing blogging. It’s constant food for thought.
“The American establishment is increasingly unable to sympathize with or understand many of the people who live in the United States very well.”
The place to start is with Ivy League admissions, which currently recruits a highly skewed sample of the population. I would suggest they explore the idea of “affirmative action for all” in order to recruit a political class that mirrors the ethnic and geographical diversity of America.
but now you will miss out on all the good CFR conspiracy theories to come
Best wishes for your new path Mr. Mead. You will need sharp peripheral vision in many ways, not least of which is detecting the occasional 8-point buck leaping across the Taconic River Parkway, so stay in the right lane!
Luke Lea: Speaking from personal experience, the Ivy League and the rest of elite-college America has actively subsidized geographic and ethnic diversity for more than 40 years. Alas, their goal is to force assimilation into the establishment, not to actually diversify it.
Congratulations, Professor Mead! Yale’s loss is Bard Colleges gain.
What a treat for you to be able to work for the illustrious Leon Botstein. Okay, as a Professor at Bard Botstein may not exactly be your boss, but what a great colleague to have. What a wonderful conductor he is (he’s the principal conductor of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra); he’s innovative and eclectic.
The students and faculty at Bard have a reputation for being a pretty progressive bunch; I hope that the Mead approach to things goes over well there.
Best of luck in your new endeavors.
I envy Bard now. thanks for making my time in GS so rewarding. You will be sorely missed
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“The United States is fortunate to have a distinguished, non-partisan and intellectually rigorous organization like the Council”
I know, you’ve got to yank this up the flagpole as you sail away, but come on. Distinguished? 4,300 members and an online application form? Shirley Temple Black, Ken Blackwell, and Lloyd Blankfein? Those are just the BLA’s.
Non-partisan, fine, but are there any pacifists? Besides Bacevich, any non-interventionists?
Intellectually rigorous? Amity Shlaes’ work isn’t too rigorous. And your climate change denial isn’t exactly the cutting edge of intellectual.
I graduated from Bard, and I highly value the education I got there.
I had some excellent professors at Bard who had a lasting impact on the way I see the world.
I hope you have the same kind experience.
I think the line about Weber is apocryphal, or perhaps attributable to any number of anglophone profs. I don’t think it’s idiomatic auf Deutsch.
How to out Libya Libya in a few silly words. We really need some new foreign policy intellectuals.
How about Me?
“new foreign policy intellectuals” suggests that there are already some. Evidence?
There are little but arrogant, effeminate snobs in our foreign affairs establishment.
Look at the Sec. of State as a prime example.
Gigolo, gigolo, gigolo! (with apologies to Mozart).
Iran will never agree to any outcome that does not either maintain the Assad regime or at least replace it with some other kind of ally/puppet. Syria is too important to Tehran. That this essay talks about the Iranians as if they have no more of a stake in Syria than anyone else is just amazing.
There are two posibilites for Syria. The most likely one at this point, assuming that we do a lot of damage to ISIS, is that Assad regains control and slaughters every Sunni he can lay his hands on. The alternative is that Syria disintegrates into waring cantons, stays that way, and every one outside of Syria looses interest in a low intensity conflict.
Assad has no reason to attempt a genocide. With Sunni Arabs making up the majority of the country, such an attempt almost certainly provoke an invasion by the Saudis and Jordanians, and perhaps by Turkey as well. Moreover, such an attempt would almost certainly fail even without external intervention, and leave his country ungovernable and economically crippled.
Assad, while brutal to anti-regime movements, has always treated Sunnis with equality and even now maintains substantial Sunni support. It is absurd to think that a regime that has built its legitimacy on its even-handed treatment of all Syrians regardless of creed would destroy that by attempting the impossible.
Why do you think that Assad needs a reason, or that he will behave rationally?
ISIS could win and slay the Shia down to the ants and roaches. In fact, this is the most likely outcome.
“Even for Russia and Iran, therefore, it has become foolhardy in the long run to support Assad, and thereby become IS’s enablers.”
Eliminating Assad would be to even further enable ISIS. What kind of idiots is the so called “American Interest” made up of anyway? The same idiots who wanted to eliminate Gaddafi? How much funding does the so-called “American Interest” get from the Saudis anyway?
I’m afraid Mr. Barkley is engaging in wishful thinking. Hatred begets hatred. Chaos begets chaos. We are still waiting for Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Libya etc. to form a sane social contract with their citizens.
It’s far more likely that the most powerful and ruthless faction will vanquish the rest.
What a cluster.
Assad is a member of the Alawite minority who identify as Shia Muslim but who are also regarded as heretical by orthodox Shiites and Sunnis. IS for sure, and many factions of the Sunni majority would put them to the sword and to some extent the Christians and the Druze. I don’t see anything in this article that accounts for who might replace Assad. Alawite and allied with Iran at a minimum which puts the US in an awkward position. (Iran would be happy if Hezbollah ruled Syria, obviously, but, one dares hope, that Kerry and Obama wouldn’t support that outcome.) A rump Alawite ruled Syria in the mountains? Perhaps. I don’t see a reset (to use a vexed term) in Syria unless it maintains the status quo by replacing Assad from within the Baath party. I don’t agree with the author that Assad would be seriously inconvenienced by the families of soldiers slaughtered by IS. My understanding of the way Assad would handle complaining parents is that he would simply shoot enough of them to remind them that the alternative is for everyone to be slaughtered by the Sunni extremists. The Syrian minority groups really have nowhere else to go.
This bizarre bit of wishful thinking fails every measure of reason. Russia and Iran happy to abandon their client! Pro-government Syrians delighted to exchange the one force protecting their communities from ISIS for a nebulous and almost-certainly unstable collection of plotters?
The real world at times requires tough choices, and it requires working with less-than-perfect allies. The Assad government is the only thing keeping the genocide of millions of Syrians at bay, and it is unsurprising that it has been so unmerciful in the face of such a grave and growing risk. However, if we are to be in the least responsible, it is high time to make some degree of common cause with Assad and thereby deny ISIS a safe harbour, make safe Syrian minorities, and restore some stability to Syria.
And take a look at this:
Washington will work with anyone in Damascus who does not have Syrian civilian blood on his or her hands.
How will it support a new government in Damascus, which, in all likelihood, would be composed, of military officers?
How Prof. Barkey thinks you can find military officers in Syria who don’t have “civilian blood on his… hands” is hard to fathom. Is it too much to ask for basic consistency?
Too many claim terrorists shall not be confused with “quiet” muslim states. Tragic error, since “quiet” Saudi and Qatar have consistently funded most of islamic terrorism for decades: West does not want to open its eyes, perhaps because glued with black crude oil?
Look how much muslim and supporters have already achieved their conquest of Europe. Take UK, a very modern minded state, perhaps the most modern. Then Rotherham Scandal (where 1400 children have been sexually abducted for 16 years…) without Police and other authorities – fully aware of these dirty proceedings – did’nt move a single finger, did’nt whistle once, did’nt “pay attention”; for what ??
Because of “fear to be criticized as basic anti-muslim activists”. What a SHAME for public servants in charge of this.
It shows how deep british public society is contaminated, metastasised, tetanized: For any “fear”, they even dont try to respect western Laws in vigor, let’s say about basic Morality.
It is really comparable to an AIDS infected patient near to death: His immunitary system is so tetanized, it no longer works and any small influenza develops to death.
Who is guilty for that? For sure muslim propagandists. But their effect would have been nil shall all the galaxy of Left would not exist. In many european countries, islam is so much promoted by Left (NGO, socialist party, greens, some unions, many politicians even right wing) and for so many decades that civilian society is almost dead: 95% of butchery animals are killed in line with hallal, churches (which maintenance is at the economic charge of State) are left decaying while many new mosquees are funded by the same State, and so on. External islam external signs are more and more included in new laws.
What still differentiates european cities from those of North Africa ? Religious freedom, but for how long?
An idiotic article, I don’t even know where to begin. The author wants the Syrians to turn against Assad, with a promise by the US that they will eliminate ISIS in Syria AFTER Assad is removed. If the Syrians believe that, I have a nice bridge I want to sell them.