Longtime blogfriend Bruce Kesler, posting at Maggie’s Farm points to the growing disconnection between our largest group of academic foreign policy specialists and…..our actual foreign policy.
International Relations professors “are often the last people a president turns to for advice on running the world. At least, that’s what the professors say,” in a 2008 survey of 1743 IR faculty at every 4-year college and university in the US. “Most revealing? Nearly 40 percent of respondents reported that these scholars have “no impact” on foreign policy or even the public discourse about it.” Foreign Policy reports the results.
If they, or you, are wondering why they are so irrelevant, just look at their top priority: “It’s a largely liberal internationalist agenda, one that names the most important foreign-policy priorities facing the United States as global climate change (37 percent).”
….Still wondering? Read on:
“In 2008, for instance, we see fewer than half as many scholars (23 percent of respondents in 2008 compared to to 48 percent in 2006) describing terrorism as one of the three most significant current foreign policy challenges facing the United States. Most surprisingly, while 50 percent of U.S. scholars in 2006 said that terrorism was one of the most important foreign policy issues the United states would face over the subsequent decade, in 2008 only 1 percent of respondents agreed….Concern over several other foreign policy issues is also declining markedly: when asked about the most important problems facing the country over the next ten years 18 percent fewer respondents chose WMD proliferation, 12 percent fewer said armed conflict in the Middle east, and 13 percent fewer indicated failed states. At the same time, 17 percent more respondents in 2008 than in 2006 believed that climate change will pose a serious challenge…”
I suspect political ideology, intellectual fashion and academic tenure and promotion requirements for increasingly fractionated specialization all play a role in creating a worldview divorced from the actual community of senior foreign policy practitioners, career and appointee, Democrat and Republican. As for impacting public discourse, you have a few, august, “big names” who command a wide respect in and outside of the field and then some younger professor bloggers (like Daniel Drezner or our friends at Duck of Minerva) with a demonstrated ability to communicate effectively in normal, well-written, English. The vast, jargon -enamored, academic IR mainstream goes unheard and would probably not be understood by the average voter if they were ( my field, history, is no shining example of persuasive writing either).
Speaking of Drezner, he points to the Obama administration raiding academia to fill second through fifth tier foreign policy appointments. Will they change the game ? Probably not enough of them nor are they as a group as Left as the IR professoriate as a whole.