How Private Warmongers and the US Military Infiltrated American Universities
A matrix of closely tied university-based strategic studies ventures, the so-called Grand Strategy Programs (GSP), have cropped up on a number of elite campuses around the country, where they function to serve the national security warfare state.
In tandem with allied institutes and think tanks across the country, these programs, centered at Yale University, Duke University, the University of Texas at Austin, Columbia University, Temple University and, until recently, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, illustrate the increasingly influential role of a new breed of warrior academics in the post-9/11 United States. The network marks the ascent and influence of what might be called the “Long War University.”
Ostensibly created to train an up-and-coming elite to see a global “big picture,” this grand strategy network has brought together scores of foreign policy wonks heavily invested – literally and figuratively – in an unending quest to maintain US global supremacy, a campaign which they increasingly refer to as the Long War.
He Who Pays the Piper …
The network of grand strategy programs integral to the Long War University came about through the financial backing of Roger Hertog, the multimillionaire financial manager, man of the right and a key patron of the contemporary conservative movement. Hertog is a chairman emeritus of the conservative social policy think tank the Manhattan Institute, and a board member of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, and the Club for Growth.
Hertog additionally served on the executive committee of the influential, neoconservative and pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), and has been a major financial contributor to Taglit-Birthright Israel.
Respected in various circles as a patron of the arts and culture, of libraries and archives, Hertog was awarded a National Humanities Medal by then-president George W. Bush in November 2007. The ceremonial citation praised him as one, “[whose] wisdom and generosity have rejuvenated institutions that are keepers of American memory.”
More recently, Hertog introduced Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker at a Manhattan Institute conference on “A New Social Contract: Reforming the Terms of Public Employment in America.” Embracing the controversial Republican state executive, Hertog praised him as a figure that would someday be looked upon as someone who “helped save the country.”
As a man in the business of shaping intellectual environments, Hertog has been described as the “the epitome of the conservative benefactor who bases his politics on conservative intellectualism and moves patiently and strategically to create, support and distribute his ideas.” Norman Podhoretz, the former editor of Commentary, said of his longtime friend that, “Roger thinks of philanthropic endeavors as investments. The return he expects is long range.”
Hertog has been a staunch advocate of a conservative, results-based “new philanthropy” – the replacement of open-ended funding for endowed university chairs with money for selected projects, made available on a two- or three-year basis. He makes little distinction between the nonprofit and for-profit ventures that he funds, and has spoken of “retail” and “strategic philanthropy” as “leverage” to transform American universities.
The Long War Men at Yale
The Grand Strategy network originally started at Yale University, alma mater for a long line of US strategic planners and intelligence operatives.
Its founders were the influential conservative “dean of cold war historians,” John Lewis Gaddis, global historian Paul Kennedy and “diplomat-in-residence”
Charles Hill, the former State Department careerist forced into retirement for concealing the role of his boss, then-secretary of state George Schultz, during the Reagan-era Iran-contra scandal.
Yale’s GSP became the centerpiece of International Securities Studies (ISS), “a center for teaching and research in grand strategy,” founded in 1988. Kennedy was the ISS’s first director. It was initially funded, in the main, by the John M. Olin and Smith Richardson Foundations, two major financial backers of numerous conservative and right-wing public and foreign policy causes.
The plans for the Yale GSP evolved out of a series of discussions between Kennedy, Hill, Gaddis and others, including the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, in early 1999. Central to their thinking, according to Gaddis, was their shared concern “to deliberately … train the next generation of world leaders.”
According to Gaddis, the original ideas shaping the program’s curriculum were drawn from the efforts of an earlier generation of strategic planners, such as Henry Kissinger, and stemmed from his experience as a mid-1970s faculty member at the US Naval War College.
The first, Nicholas Brady, had been US secretary of the Treasury under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and was a former director of the Mitre Corporation, the privately contracted manager of federally funded research and development projects for the Department of Defense (DoD) and other agencies.
The other benefactor, Brady’s billionaire business associate, Charles B. Johnson, is a part-owner of the San Francisco Giants and an “overseer” of the conservative Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, among other things.
Both Brady and Johnson sit on the board of directors of Darby Private Equity alongside Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s philanthropist and venture capitalist Sheldon Lubar, member of the board of directors of the University of Wisconsin Foundation and supporter of what had been the University of Wisconsin Madison’s GSP.
Increasingly well-endowed over time, the Yale GSP continued to acquire new associates, among them an additional “diplomat-at-large,” John Negroponte, the former national security adviser, US envoy to the United Nations (UN) and controversial US ambassador to Honduras during the 1980s contra war against Nicaragua.
While the identities of those associated with the Yale program certainly speak volumes, the actual program these people devised is far more revealing, especially since it provided the prototype for future efforts elsewhere.
Aspiring Grand Strategy students are required to write application essays, and the cross-discipline pool of graduate students and undergraduates is carefully vetted. The year-long program comprises a focus on “real world practice” and includes the study of “classics” in strategic thinking, from ancient Chinese general and “The Art of War” author Sun Tzu and Greek historian Thucydides to Prussian military strategist Karl von Clausewitz and Kissinger himself.
In addition to their formal studies, students are required to complete summer projects that have included internships at the European Union’s (EU) Institute for Security Studies and the National Security Agency (NSA). Students completing the program have gone on to careers with the US Department of State, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the DoD’s subcontracted Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA).
The year-long GSP course concludes with a “crisis simulation” session, in which teams of students prepare “emergency rapid response” scenarios as if preparing for a “real time” meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) and the president. Role-playing the president and other administration officials, the presenters are then grilled by program faculty who critique their work.
The simulations and seminars have included numbers of exclusive “outside guests.” CIA head David Petraeus, at the time general in command of the US military operations in the Middle East, paid an unpublicized visit to the Yale GSP’s students and faculty in March 2010.
In February 2009, US Marine Corps officers met with GSP faculty and students. The representatives from the “Combat Development Command and the Corp Commandant’s Strategic Initiatives Group” briefed the Yalies and other invited guests on the Marine’s “Vision and Strategy 2025,” a planning document describing “how the Marine Corps’ role and posture in national defense will change in the future global environment.”
Gaddis, in fact, told Yale Alumni Magazine in 2003 that, ” … We now offer workshops in grand strategy at the war colleges and service academies, recreating a connection with the highest levels of the military … And Washington has taken notice.”
Perhaps most significantly, a core of Gaddis and Kennedy students have gone on to become either directors of Grand Strategy projects and related institutes, or to work as closely connected faculty associates elsewhere.
Such students have included historian Matthew Connelly, head of the Hertog Global Strategy Initiative at Columbia University; William Hitchcock, now at the University of Virginia, who helped create the Grand Strategy Program at Temple University; Mark Lawrence of the University of Texas at Austin; Jeremi Suri, currently at the University of Texas at Austin, who created the now-defunct GSP at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Hal Brands, formerly with the IDA and now the American grand strategy assistant professor of public policy at Duke University.
Grand Strategy’s Launch
In September, 2008, some 20 historians and political scientists from around the country gathered at an unpublicized location, a private club nearby Yale. The participants, carefully chosen by the university’s GSP directors, had been invited to meet with Hertog.
The financial management mogul told those at the Yale meet-up that he was willing to spend as much as $10 million over the coming years to fund scholars interested in inaugurating GSPs at their respective campuses. He requested short, three-page proposals from the professors-on-the-rise detailing how they would use his seed money.
He urged them to think about how to connect their projects with others around the country to leverage their collective impact, and cautioned that he did not necessarily want exact replicas of Yale’s venture. The subsequent GSPs and allied programs evolved with his financial assistance.
Long War at Duke
One of the recipients of Hertog “strategic philanthropy” has been the Program in American Grand Strategy at Duke University, headed by Peter D. Feaver, a significant figure in strategic planning circles and an important player within the Long War University. A political scientist with a Harvard PhD, he also is the director of Triangle Institute for Security Studies (TISS), the well-established strategic policy consortium with affiliates at Duke, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.
An expert on the relationship between civil society and the military, Feaver served under the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1994 as director for defense policy and arms control on the NSC. He then worked as special adviser for strategic planning and institutional reform on the NSC staff during the Bush years, from June 2005 to July 2007. Feaver is also an affiliate of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), the increasingly influential liberal hawk think tank presided over by the warrior intellectual John Nagl, the former career military man who helped write the influential Counterinsurgency Field Manual under the command of former general Petraeus.
The homepage for the Duke GSP reads, “American grand strategy is the collection of plans and policies by which the leadership of the United States mobilizes and deploys the country’s resources and capabilities, both military and non-military, to achieve its national goals.”
In fulfillment of its mission, Feaver has brought in a number of national security state notables, among them, in September 2010, then-secretary of defense Robert Gates, who gave a public address on the all-volunteer military in an age of the Long War and also taught a session of Feaver’s Grand Strategy class.
The Duke GSP and TISS co-sponsored a talk a year earlier by Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster on “Counterinsurgency and the War in Afghanistan.” McMaster served in both Iraq wars and worked on the team that designed the Iraq “surge,” and, at the time of his talk, directed a key division of the Army’s warfare planning center at Ft. Monroe, Virginia.
Other guests of the Duke GSP have included Gaddis and Kennedy from Yale; Michael Doran, the Roger Hertog senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center; and former Bush administration hawks, Stephen Hadley, John Bolton and Douglas Feith.
The Warriors’ Temple
A Hertog Program In Grand Strategy was launched at Temple University in spring 2009, with the assistance of a three-year, $225,000 grant from the Hertog Foundation arranged through two foreign policy historians, the Yale alumnus Hitchcock and Richard Immerman, current director of the university’s Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy (CENFAD)
A CENFAD newsletter stated that Temple had been chosen “as a site for replicating Yale University’s ‘Grand Strategy’ course – a yearlong seminar on military strategy taught by Charles Hill, John Lewis Gaddis, and Paul Kennedy … ”
The same article pointed out that Hertog did not believe in making unrestricted gifts to academe, but rather believed in setting benchmarks to ensure the goals he envisioned. It went on to state, “that CENFAD, its associates, and students will expend every effort to meet this challenge to make sure that the Hertog Seminar in Grand Strategy remains at Temple.”
Housed at Temple’s History Department, CENFAD was founded in 1993 and “fosters interdisciplinary faculty and student research on the historic and contemporary use of force and diplomacy in a global context.”
CENFAD is currently directed by Immerman, best known in scholarly circles for his historical writing on the CIA. Immerman served from 2007 to 2008 as assistant deputy director of national intelligence, analytic integrity and standards, and analytic ombudsman at the office of the director of national intelligence, an oversight position created to ensure the standards and accuracy of national intelligence documents.
Columbia University’s Long War
Columbia University’s variant of the Hertog-funded strategic studies program, the aforementioned Hertog Global Strategy Initiative had its start in 2010 under the direction of the Yale alumnus and former Gaddis student, the historian Connelly.
Varying from the GSPs elsewhere, Columbia’s is a summer program only. The first year’s session, in 2010, focused on “Nuclear Proliferation and the Future of World Power” and was co-taught by Connelly and University of Texas at Austin’s Francis Gavin. The summer 2011 session focused on “The History and Future Pandemic Threats and Global Public Health.” The projected session for summer 2012 will focus on “Religious Violence and Apocalyptic Movements.”
In many ways, the program clearly resembles that developed by Gaddis at Yale. Students spend the first three weeks of the summer in “total immersion,” training in the methods of international history. Eight weeks are then spent conducting independent and team projects, followed by a final week where the students present their research, develop future scenarios and participate in a crisis simulation exercise
Visitors to Columbia’s GSP have included the likes of Kissinger, former Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg (also the former dean of the University of Texas-Austin’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, under whose auspices sits the Robert S. Strauss Center of International Security and Law), and Philip Zelikow, a senior foreign policy official in the Bush administration and former director of the 9/11 Commission.
For their final week’s simulation exercise in summer 2010, seminar students were led by Dr. Betty Sue Flowers, a leading expert in “future forecasting” and the guiding force behind Shell Oil’s Global Scenarios, a much emulated standard for corporate and government scenario projects including the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends Reports.
The Longhorn Long Warriors
In May 2010, Suri, the man behind the now-defunct GSP at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, announced that he was taking a job offer for a joint appointment at the University of Texas-Austin, including a position at the prestigious Strauss Center. A brief survey of the roster there suggests that Suri’s move to Austin was the perfect decision for Madison’s former wunderkind and “rising star.”
The Center has been home for two other Long War intellectuals with high-level national security state ties. One is Philip Bobbitt, concurrently with the Roger Hertog Program on Law and National Security at the Columbia University Law School and a senior fellow at the Strauss Center. The other is Bobby Ray Inman, who recently became the head of the board of directors of Xe Services (formerly known as Blackwater USA), the transnational private military and security firm. He formerly served two terms as dean of the aforementioned home of the Strauss Center, the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
Bobbitt, once described by Henry Kissinger as “the outstanding political philosopher of our time,” and by London’s Independent as the “president’s brain,” formerly served as the counselor for international law at the State Department during the George H. W. Bush administration, and at the NSC, where he was director for intelligence programs. He also was senior director for critical infrastructure and senior director for strategic planning under President Bill Clinton.
Inman wore multiple hats before joining Xe’s board. He was a member of the board of directors of the infamous coal company Massey Energy; deputy director of the CIA; director of the NSA; director of naval intelligence; vice director of the Defense Intelligence Agency; and former director of Wackenhut Corporation, another transnational security firm and mercenary contractor. He had also been slated to become President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense before withdrawing his name from nomination in 1994.
In 2006, the Strauss Center served as a key backer, along with Columbia University’s American Assembly program, for “The Next Generation Project on US Global Policy and the Future of International Institutions,” a multi-year national effort to solicit new ideas from a geographically diverse range of strategic thinkers outside the traditional East Coast corridors of power.
Directed by Gavin, another important figure in Long War University circles, the project issued a 2010 report on “US Global Policy: Challenges to Building a 21st Century Grand Strategy.” The report was sponsored by the Strauss Center and CNAS.
Long War University Homecoming
In August, 2010 key members of the Long War grand strategist fraternity gathered for a”Workshop on the Teaching of Grand Strategy” at the Naval War College (NWC) at Newport, Rhode Island. It was only logical that they meet there rather than at some university.
The NWC, with its long history of strategic planning dating back to an earlier age of global naval power, had earlier developed the curriculum that became the model for the grand strategies discipline employed at Yale and subsequently elsewhere. For some attendees, such as Gaddis, who spent part of his early teaching career there, the summer return to Newport must have seemed like a homecoming.
The conclave was designed to bring together “some of the nation’s most influential thinkers to explore how they design courses on grand strategy.” The meet-up’s list of attendees read like an abbreviated “who’s who” of warrior academics and national security state intellectuals.
Those in attendance included Gaddis, Hill and Kennedy, as well as their Yale disciples, Columbia’s Connelly, Duke’s Hal Brands, and then-UW-Madison’s Suri.
Among the others were Middle East expert Michael Doran, a Roger Hertog senior fellow at the Saban Center, former deputy assistant secretary of defense under George W. Bush and fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Also present was Peter Mansoor, the current chair of military history at Ohio State University and a former Army colonel who served as an assistant to then- general Petraeus while he was commander of the US occupation forces in Iraq. Also in the mix was Aaron Friedberg, who served as national security adviser to then-vice president Dick Cheney, and Georgetown’s Robert J. Lieber, member of the ultraconservative Committee on the Present Danger.
A follow-up thank-you email from the NWC’s lead organizer spoke of his “hope that we will stay connected and assist each other in our common enterprise.” The same note addressed to the workshop’s participants contained an e-mail address likely belonging to Lewis “Scooter” Libby, senior vice president of the Hudson Institute and a past frequent volunteer at the NWC. As Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, Libby was convicted in connection with the federal investigation into the “PlameGate” affair.
The NWC conclave might best be described as an imperial war hawk’s “how-to” teach-in. Geared to instruction on how to teach grand strategy to military men, government officials and university students, its sessions included “‘Great Books’ on Strategy,” “Economics and Grand Strategy,” “Strategic Leadership,” which explored “the relationship of political and military leadership in strategic decision making” and “Great Power Wars,” which discussed how to teach “the strategic significance of the commons – maritime, aerospace, and information.”
The closing session looked at “how to stay connected with each other,” the “sharing of information about courses,” “ways to promote cooperation and break down barriers,” and “how to promote courses in the professional military and the universities.”
The Long War on Campus
The so-called “Grand Strategy Programs” represent but one small component of a proliferating Long War University complex. The number of university programs connected to the national security state, the imperial foreign policy establishment and military planners is vast; so, too, are the numbers of campus-based think tanks and related institutes – well funded by foundations, individual “philanthropy” or federal spending – in service to empire.
“Grand strategy” is little more than imperial doctrine, a “soft” public relations term for strategic studies, a growing academic discipline with origins in the war ministries of an earlier era’s imperial powers.
US warfare doctrine in the post-9/11 era has returned to a focus on counterinsurgency, or COIN, on fighting limited “asymmetric” wars against unconventional enemies defined as “terrorists” or insurgents. Not just low- intensity combat, but an increasingly sophisticated spectrum of intervention – of “nation building” and the “reconstruction” of other societies – is now included in COIN doctrine.
That more robust notion of COIN has come to occupy a central place in the thinking of those semi-warrior intellectuals informing one another and an upcoming generation of their students. Sharing a broad consensus on America’s role in the world and imbued with a sense of American “exceptionalism,” the Long War intellectuals at the national warfare state universities have joined in preparation for permanent war.
Because some of the primary source material gathered for this two-part series was obtained via the Wisconsin Open Records Law, the materials are available upon request.
- Neuroscience, Special Forces and Yale (alethonews.wordpress.com)