Your humble blogger will be making his first visit to South Korea in less than twenty-four hours, and is very excited about that prospect. Blogging will therefore be on the lighter side for the next few days.
Talk amongst yourselv-- wait, then again, maybe you shouldn't do that.
Before I explain what I mean, let's have some disclosure. I blog at the foreign affairs portal in the United States. I'm a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. I've done the occasional consulting gig. I'm on reasonably good terms with foreign policy wonks from across the spectrum. Occasionally I get invited to swanky DC events and interview Tiger Moms. The point is, relative to a lot of people reading this paragraph, I'm pretty damn insider-y.
I bring all of this up because I probably have a higher tolerance for inside-the-Beltway bulls**t... and yet after reading this and this, I had to suppress my desire to vomit on my computer screen. The first link merely confirms the epistemic closure that pervades much of the right wing in Washington, DC. The latter is, on the other hand, the most incestuous thing ever written about anything, ever, in the history of mankind. Really, compared to those stories, the George W. Bush library ceremony seems... tame.
Combined, the two stories either function as a damning indictment on the state of DC insideriness... or I'm overreacting to the standard offal that comprises much of political journalism. I'm honestly not sure. Contrary to a lot of outside-the-beltway folk, I've come to see a utility for rent-seeking and back-scratching in politics. It functions as a necessary lubricant to get useful legislation passed. One could argue that part of the problem with Washington as it currently functions is that there's not enough earmarking, vote-buying, or other cross-cutting political exchanges.
At the same time, the revulsion I felt after reading these essays was quite real. I could barely finish Allen's Politico story, it was that insipid. These are the kind of essays that cause even a jaded foreign policy hand like myself to mutter "you'll be the first ones up against the wall when the Revolution comes" after reading Politico. Sure, much of this behavior is baked into the cake that is American political science... but I still ponder about the future of the Republic.
So I'll leave this as something for readers to ponder while I'm in the ROK -- over the next week there's going to be some serious foreign policy questions being debated: whether to react to Syria's chemical weapons use, or what to do about inter-Korean tensions, for example. Will this conversation be taking place in a policy universe that is just too damn small?
What do you think?
This past week your humble blogger added another affiliation to his bio, as he has now joined the Brookings Institution as a... wait for it... nonresident senior fellow with the Managing Global Order project.
Now, those who live and breathe the mores and rhythms of DC's think tank community are already aware of the awesome rights, responsibilities and entitlements that comes with this honorific. Those not in the wonk priesthood, however, might wonder. Clearly, "nonresident" implies I'm not moving to DC. But what are the other perks of being a nonresident senior fellow?
The better way to phrase this query is -- what aren't the perks of being a nonresident senior fellow? It's almost as cool as being a full professor, for Pete's sake!! To list all the perks would take too long. Here are, in order, the top ten benefits to being a nonresident senior fellow at a think tanks, however:
10) Now all of my talks can be shorter. Before any academic or policy talk, a speaker usually receives an introduction in which the convenor reads the person's bio. If the speaker has lots of awards, affiliations, and publications, then this process can take a while, cutting into the speaker's allotted time. Secretly, all speakers want this, cause it means they don't have to remble on as long. Adding the Brookings affiliation will cut my talks by at least thirty seconds.
9) I'm now one affiliation away from the PACT. A key plot device in 30 Rock was Tracy Morgan's quest for the EGOT -- Emmy, Grammy, Tony and Oscar awards. Foreign policy wonks have a similar quest, except it operates by affiliations: Press, Academia, Consulting, and Think Tankery. Adding my nonresident senior fellow appellation to being a Fletcher professor and a contributing editor here at FP, I now have a PAT. The only thing missing is the for-profit consulting gig. I'm looking in your direction, Stonebridge Group and/or McKinsey!!
8) 50,000 frequent flyer miles with an airline of my choice. This sounds like a great perk, but really, it's just so that I can be conversant in frequent flyer-speak when bumping into other nonresident senior fellows at conferences:
ME: So did you get upgraded on this flight?
OTHER WONK: Oh, yeah, but that's because I'm Super Premium status. You?
ME: No, and I was willing to use miles too!!
OTHER WONK: Oh, no, never use your own miles!! See, what you should do it... [long disquisition about the art of frequent flyer mile management.]
You get the idea.
7) Officially one of the old boys now. The "senior" is a tipoff -- I can no longer declare "Young Turk" status. Instead, I'm clearly part of an old boy network of some kind or another. Which will, inevitably, lead to attacks from Glenn Greenwald.
6) Attract a much better class of groupies. Oh, sure, as a full professor I get the entreaty from a student willing to do just about anything to get an RAship/grad school admission/job. DC, however, attacts a much more desperate and stylish set of aspirants. Indeed, within 24 hours of becoming a nonresident senior fellow, my LinkedIn profile was beseiged with requests ranging from "I'm just dying to polish your memos" to "I feel like I'm the only research assistant who gets you -- I mean, really gets you!!"
5) One free black helicopter ride. I have every confidence that the sovereigntists in the crowd are already freaked out by the "Managing Global Order" moniker. AS YOU SHOULD BE!!! Who do you think supplies the black helicopetrs to the United Nations? Before we do, however, a nonresident fellow can pick where in the country the brand-spanking new black helicopter can buzz, just to freak out some locals. I, for one, am looking forward to a quick, below-the-radar trip through the Texas panhandle.
4) Playing the Lincoln card. All nonresident senior fellows run into bureaucratic impediments at some point or another. Once a year, I can pull the Lincoln card out of my wallet, and utter the following: "I am a nonresident senior fellow, clothed in IMMENSE POWER! You will procure me these PowerPoint slides."
3) Preferential treatment at the Old Ebbitt Grill. For years, I used to make reservations at this venerable DC establishment and still find myself cooling my heels and not impressing my date as more distinguished Beltway denizens would just waltz on in. Not anymore!! Now I just flash your "Nonresident Senior Fellow" gold card to the maitre d'hotel and -- KABLAMM!! -- my date and I are enjoying the finest champagnes in the land. This is a much more civilized way of exerting power than the more old-fashioned method in which -- as I understand it -- the men simply unzipped their flies and compared penis sizes.
2) At least ten more seconds of air time on CNN. Cable news nets will let senior nonresident fellows blather on for at least two more sentences before interrupting duing an interview.
1) "Nonresident Casual Fridays." One Friday, every other month, the nonresident fellows show up at the Brookings Institution very early, camp ourselves in the offices of the resident fellows, and scare the bejeezus out of them when they walk in. Alternatively, we prank call the senior resident fellows, pretending to be a White House flack asking for permission to vet them for a prominent subcabinet position.
futile determined effort to expand his public intellectual brand, your humble blogger was on the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC for about an hour this AM. It was a veeeeery interesting experience. Now, I know that some readers of this blog aspire to poison me and take my place on the FP masthead punditry themselves. So, as a public service, this is what happens when you go on a Sunday morning talk show: imagine the Law & Order chunk-CHUNK! going after each paragraph:
WEDNESDAY: I receive a polite email from one of Melissa's segment/booking producers, who we'll call "M", asking if I want to be on the show this Sunday. Having never done this kind of punditry before, and having my previous obligation for the weekend cancelled, I accept.
Immediately after accepting, I experience two contradictory emotions. First, the fear builds that they will email back the same day and say, "uh, we just re-checked our Rolodex, and.. [laughs] we have no idea who thought you merited being on television." At the same time, I realize I'm going to have to watch the rest of the prime-time Republican National Convention speeches. At which point I let loose a strong of profanities [What if had been the DNC instead?--ed. The same number of profanities would have been released.]
THURSDAY: I talk with M again, who runs down the planned topics with me -- the RNC, the DNC, the state of the election, and gun violence. Immediately I have a slight quandry -- my expertise is in international relations, not electoral politics. Do I dare to think I can play in the sandbox for a Sunday morning talk show? At which point my inner media whore screams, Gollum-like, "YES!! WE WANTS TO BE ON THE TV!!! IT'S OUR PRECIOUS!!"
This is, as near as I can determine, the First Commandment of Televsion Punditry -- you have to be secure enough in your abilities to chat with authority about issues outside your intellectual wheelhouse.
FRIDAY: To make my inner media whore proud, I start reading up on gun violence statistics. I also read as much commentary as I can about the Republican National Convention. Whatever intelligence I gain from the former I lose by reading the latter.
SATURDAY: Full disclosure: Melissa and I were political science colleagues at the University of Chicago back in the day, so I'm familiar with her style and her politics. That said, I haven't been a regular watcher of her MSNBC show, so I tune for the first half-hour in to get a sense of the roundtable. Clearly MHP leans juuuuust a little to the left. This raises an identity issue -- am I supposed to be wearing the hat of "defender of conservatism"? It's not a role I've been comfortable with as of late. Or am I gonna wear the "dispassionate, snarky observer of the political scene"? I feel much more comfortable with that hat on. In all likelihood, it's going to be a little from column A and a little from column B.
LATER ON SATURDAY: If you're going to be on roundtable for radio/television, there's a 98% chance you will need to do a "pre-interview" with a producer so they have a sense of what you're going to say during the conversation. So I have that conversation with M, during which I learn that the topics have been jiggled around a bit and all those
minutes hours of sketchy detailed online research into gun violence stats won't be worth much. Instead, we'll be talking gay marriage. Which is fine, I will rally with yet more Wikipedia-surfing intense study of primary texts. And, of course, that segment will be moved as well. So, the Second Commandment of Television Punditry is that the schedule will always change.
EVEN LATER ON SATURDAY: The MHP show is classy -- they took care of all the flight/hotel/car service logistics. So by Saturday night I found myself in a comfortable midtown hotel with a lovely view of Central Park. Surfing the web furiously to research for Sunday AM, I see that some fireworks broke out on MHP's Saturday show after I switched off to pack. Melissa was responding to the panel's most conservative participant making a point. Ruh-roh.
To prep, I take notes on each of the "blocks" or segments that I'm supposed to weigh in on. I'm a professor and an academic, and therefore alwasys feel better with notes.
SUNDAY MORNING PRE-SHOW: I get to 30 Rock on time, which means I'm the first panelist there.... or so I think. In actuality, the two female panelists -- NYU's Cristina Beltran and the Center for American Progress' Aisha Moodie-Mills -- are in makeup. As they enter the green rom, I quickly comprehend that I am in deep trouble, because I am not nearly as pretty. As the clock ticks towards 10 AM, and no one comes to get me, I am petrified that I have been typecast as the splotchy-faced redneck surrounded by urbane alluring panelists. Before this scenario can play out in even weirder directions inside my head, however, M sends me to makeup. They apply as enough powder to my face to fuel at least two Dunkin' Donuts franchies -- but it works . My family later informs me that I looked good, so many, many thanks to those professionals at MSNBC.
SUNDAY MORNING, 10 AM-11 AM: OK, having done my first hour of Sunday morning chat -- which you can watch here, here, here and here -- I have learned the following effects on one's senses when three cameras and numerous klieg lights are pointed in your general direction:
A) Time speeds up. Seriously, that hour flew by. Every time I was feeling like we were getting to a good part of the conversation, we hit a commercial break.
B) Almost all prep work is useless. I knew exactly what I wanted to say in response to the first question asked, and I did that competently. After that, whatever good punchy things were in my notes might as well have been left back at home for all the use they were to me. Part of the issue is visual -- you don't want to be looking down at your notes. Another part of the issue, which I've blogged about before, is the academic weakness of trying to directly answer the question.
C) Really, cameras can make you stupid. If you mangle your words during an ordinary conversation, or even when giving a speech, you can take a moment and regroup. If you mangle your words during a panel show, you become acutely aware that you're screwing up, which compounds the problem. Another panelist will be happy to enter the breach. On at least two occasioons, I had written down a better answer than the one that came out of my mouth during the program.
SUNDAY MORNING, 11 AM: I need to get to the airport to come home, but I find two pieces of critical feedback from the experience worthwhile. The first was the thumbs-up that Moodie-Mills and her partner give me as I exit the green room. The second is an anonymous email I soon find in my inbox:
Drezner........Why are you such an idiot? Your appearance on MSLSD was laughable and embarrassing. It's really sad and embarrassing how you liberal bedwetters continue to be brainwashed by your worthless president. Why can't you clowns form a coherent thought on your own? Exactly, because you buffoons are mindless robots programmed by your worthless president. Barnum and Bailey have nothing on you clowns. What do you call a basement full of liberals? A whine cellar. Keep up the good work loser................
Why, it's... it's a troll!! I've made it!! I'M A REAL PUNDIT NOW!!!!!
Time Magazine columnist and CNN host Fareed Zakaria has apologized "unreservedly" to Jill Lepore for plagiarizing her work in The New Yorker.
"Media reporters have pointed out that paragraphs in my Time column this week bear close similarities to paragraphs in Jill Lepore's essay in the April 22nd issue of The New Yorker. They are right," Zakaria said in a statement to The Atlantic Wire. "I made a terrible mistake. It is a serious lapse and one that is entirely my fault. I apologize unreservedly to her, to my editors at Time, and to my readers."
Zakaria's column about gun laws for Time's August 20 issue includes a paragraph that is remarkably similar to one Jill Lepore wrote in April for a New Yorker article about the National Rifle Association. (The similarities were first flagged by NRANews.com and first reported by Tim Graham of the conservative watchdog group Newsbusters, who leveled the plagiarism charge.)
Time suspended Zakaria for a month, CNN suspended him from his GPS hosting duties pending further review, and the Washington Post is looking into his work there. Rodger Payne has a useful round up of the relevant links.
Once the news broke, there was a whole lotta Twitter speculation about how and why this happened. Many media types assume that this was a mistake made by one of Zakaria's flunkies/assistants/interns, but in some ways that's just the proximate cause. A better question would be: why would Fareed Zakaria outsource any writing under his name to others?
I used to think that doing this kind of thing required willful negligence on the part of a writer. Now my view has changed a bit. It's still negligence, but with only a fraction of Zakaria's writing obligations, I can see all too clearly how this happened. To paraphrase Chris Rock, I'm not saying I approve... but I understand.
The New York Times lists Zakaria's day jobs, and they're formidable: "Mr. Zakaria, 48, balances a demanding schedule, doing work for multiple media properties. He is a CNN host, an editor at large at Time, a Washington Post columnist and an author."
Most people who wind up in this situation don't just snap their fingers and take on all of these jobs at once. It's a slow accretion of opportunities that are hard to say no until you are overextended. I'm not remotely close to being a member of the League of Extraordinary Pundits like Zakaria. Still, even I've noticed that, as writing & speaking obligations pile up, corners get... well, let's say rounded rather than cut.
I suspect, as one
has more gobs of money tossed at them than they ever expected out of life approaches League status, three factors dramatically increases the likelihood of this kind of thing happening. First, since the distribution of punditry assignments likely follows a power law distribution, superstars are asked to write a lot more, the pressure builds up. Second, to compensate, the pundit has to hire a staff -- and most people who get into the writing/thinking business are lousy at managing subordinates and staff. Third, if small shortcuts aren't caught the first time a writer uses them, they become crutches that pave the way for bigger shortcuts, which then become cheats.
None of this is to excuse Zakaria for what he did. It just makes me very sad. I enjoyed his first book, and I've enjoyed Fareed Zakaria GPS because it's one of the few Sunday morning shows devoted to international affairs. It didn't air this Sunday because of what happened.
I hope the show goes on, with or without Zakaria. And either way, I hope whoever hosts it learns from this mistake.
In Sayf-Al-Islam's rambling speech last night on Libyan State television, he blamed the current unpleasantness in his country on, as near as I can determine, crazed African LSD addicts.
This isn't going down as well as Sayf had intended, and Libya seems less stable than 24 hours earlier. Indeed, Sayf's off-the-cuff remarks managed to make Hosni Mubarak's three speeches seem like a model of professionalism, which I would not have thought was possible a week ago.
Indeed, it is striking how utterly incompetent leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya have been at managing their media message. Speeches are announced, then never delivered on time, and then delivered with production values that woulds embarrass a public access channel in the U.S. It's like political leaders in the region have discovered blogs just as the young people has moved on to Twitter or something. [Er, no, that's the United States--ed.] Oh, right.
Having just finished a week of intense media whoring, methinks that one problem is that most of these leaders have simply fallen out of practice (if they were ever in practice) at personally using the media to assuage discontent. I've been on enough shows on enough different media platforms to appreciate that there is an art, or at least a tradecraft, to presenting a convincing message in the mediasphere. Authoritarian leaders in the Middle East are quite adept at playing internal factions off one another. That's a different skill set than trying to craft a coherent and compelling media message to calm street protestors no longer intimidated by internal security forces.
Indeed, as I argued in Theories of International Politics and Zombies, bureaucratic first responses to novel situations are almost uniformly bad. Sayf pretty much admitted this last night, as he acknowledged that the Libyan armed forces were not trained to deal with street protestors. I suspect the same is true with the state media outlets -- they excel at producing tame, regime-friendly pablum during quiescent periods, but now they're operating in unknown territory.
I also argued that bureaucracies should be able to adapt their organizational routines over time, if a regime's domestic support does not evaporate. Readers are encouraged to predict which regimes under threat in the Middle East are the most likely to be able to adapt. My money is on Iran -- not because that regime is more popular, but simply because Iran's leaders have had eighteen months to adapt and they are therefore further down the learning curve.
This week I'll be
media whoring talking about Theories of International Politics and Zombies in a lot of venues. For example, I have an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education about what it was like to write a book about the living dead. Here's the opening paragraph:
Regardless of what parents tell their children, books are routinely judged by their covers. Indeed, many book titles encapsulate a premise so obvious that the text itself seems superfluous. I'm talking about the literary equivalents of Hot Tub Time Machine or Aliens vs. Predator. I should know—I'm the author of Theories of International Politics and Zombies.
In the interest of getting Media Whore Week off to a good start, here's a brief rundown of reviews so far.
[A]n intriguing intellectual conceit to explain various schools of international political theory…. Drezner is fascinated with zombies–he’s seen all the movies and read the books–and writes with clarity, insight, and wit…. This slim book is an imaginative and very helpful way to introduce its subject–who knew international relations could be this much fun?
Whatever else it may be, an attack by bloodthirsty ghouls offers a teachable moment. And Drezner, who is a professor of international politics at Tufts University, does not waste it. Besides offering a condensed and accessible survey of how various schools of international-relations theory would respond, he reviews the implications of a zombie crisis for a nation’s internal politics and its psychosocial impact. He also considers the role of standard bureaucratic dynamics on managing the effects of relentless insurgency by the living dead. While a quick and entertaining read, Theories of International Politics and Zombies is a useful introductory textbook on public policy — as well as a definitive monograph for the field of zombie studies…. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Josh Rothman, The Boston Globe
Political science isn’t really a science at all – it’s more like a collection of disparate and even contradictory world-views. Daniel Drezner… has hit upon the perfect way to weigh those world-views against one another…. the detail with which Drezner can apply international political theory to the zombie apocalypse is striking.
Adam Weinstein, Mother Jones:
A light, breezy volume, TIPZ is a valuable primer in international relations theory for laypeople, and thank God for that—it’s been a long time coming. But Drezner’s real genius is that he’s written a stinging postmodern critique of IR theorists themselves…. It’s both a pedagogical text and a lampoon of pedagogy.
All of these reviews raise interesting questions, as does Charli Carpenter's recent post. I promise a response to these criticisms later in the week (just as soon as I can find Hosni Mubarak's soeechwriter, because that guy was comedy gold).
In the meantime, just buy the friggin' book already.
Over at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about why he largely abstains from cable news appearances and why this is in and of itself a problem:
The outlines of the problem are becoming clear--I'm a snob. More seriously, it's my impression that much of cable news is rigged. Complicated questions are forced into small spaces of time, and guests frequently dissemble in order to score debate points and avoid being intellectually honest. Finally, many of the guests don't seem to be actual experts in the field of which they're addressing, so much as they're "strategists" or "analysts." I strongly suspect that part of the reason this is the case is talking on TV is, itself, a craft and one that requires a skill-set very different than what is required of academics. I'm sure many academics themselves share the disdain for the format that I've outlined. Finally, the handful of scholars who regularly appear on the talk shows, generally aren't of the sort that hold my interests.
With that said, it's very difficult to inveigh against these shows when you refuse to participate. The discomfiting fact is that cable news reaches a ton of people, many of whom--presuming they're interested--could use the information (emphasis added).
As an academic who is occasionally asked to be on TV/radio
after the producer has gone through their top ten options, I have similarly mixed feelings about the skill mismatch. Speaking from my own experience, I find that my biggest weakness in these venues is that I genuinely want to answer the question asked of me.
You'd think this would be a good thing, but it's not, because it means that you're a hostage to the interviewer's ability to ask good questions. Usually if you're asked to be on a program, you know what the news hook is, and you should (obviously) know your overarching take on the issue. The problem, for me at least, is that no interviewer asks, "So what do you think?" Instead, they'll ask a more specific question -- which I then try to answer specifically. I've rarely been able to integrate a specific answer with the larger theme I want to stress in the appearance.
I suppose I could just admit my failings and abstain from these kinds of media appearances. One of my 2011 resolutions, however, is to try and get better at doing this sort of thing.
I'll have my list of proposed resolutions for the rest of the foreign-policy community tomorrow.
If you're a DC reader of this blog, and you have nothing to do between 12:30 and 1:30, well...
The End of America's Global Hegemony: Implications for the Global System
Lecture by Daniel Drezner
Date: October 21, 2010
JHU School of Advanced International Studies
1619 Massachusetts Ave NW
Subject: Professor Drezner will be speaking on the implications of a multipolar world where the United States is no longer the sole superpower. Specifically, he will discuss the prospects for global coordination in a world without a dominant power.
Earlier this week Politico's Ben Smith posted about the ways in which speaking fees had altered incentives for politicians and pundits:
Most of the people you see talking on television or quoted in stories -- who aren't in elected office -- make substantial parts of their livings giving speeches to private groups. Paid speaking, cleaner than lobbying, easier than the practice of law, cleaner than hitting up pension funds, well, safer than graft, has become the primary source of income for a broad range of political figures, beginning with Bill Clinton, who reported $7.5 million from paid speech in 2009.
The high fees for speakers like Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Stanley McChrystal occasionally draw attention, but beneath them are tiers and tiers more, with Harold Ford and Michael Steele, for instance, charging $40,000 for a package deal.
In that middle tier are commentators like Coulter and high-profile television personalities. Well down the ladder are journalists, lower-profile politicians, and consultants.
I've been wondering -- and am interested in readers' takes, particularly those in the industry -- how this private economy affects the public politics. For one thing, it provides an incentive for consultants and out-of-work politicians to volunteer themselves to cable television and to make themselves interested and controversial enough to stay on it. (It's a kind of subsidy to cable.) Cable hits are a kind of loss leader on the speaking circuit -- they don't themselves play, but they make a paid speaker more saleable.
In a follow-up post, Smith relayed a media exec's thoughts on the matter:
[I]t's never discussed with any real scrutiny by the mainstream media or Fox because it's bi-partisan. Everyone does it! James Carville. Bill Maher. Hannity. Oliver North. Eugene Robinson. Al Sharpton. Jack Welch. Trent Lott.
Note that academics are so far down the ladder that Smith doesn't even bother to mention them. This does not mean, however, that academics and other members of the foreign-policy community don't get speaking fees. I've seen Fareed Zakaria's quote, and, well, let's just say I've been coping with my own inadequacies at the lectern ever since.
What does the foreign policy equivalent of Smith's speaker ecosystem -- and how does it affect our analysis?
Well, the foreign policy speaker ecosystem is pretty straightforward and pretty hierarchical:
1) Top tier: former policy principals and mainstream elite pundits. Examples: Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Tom Friedman, Fareed Zakaria, Robert Kagan, etc. These are the people that large associations, private colleges, and consultants with deep pockets will invite to give talks. Payment ranges from high-five figures to low-six figures.
2) Second tier: Senior think-tankers, former policymakers with views "outside the mainstream", and experts in the topic du jour: Examples: Richard Haass, Carlos Pascual, James Woolsey, and, say, Barnett Rubin if Afghanistan was on everyone's mind. College groups, professional associations, lobbies, and single-issue groups will have these people talk. Payment ranges from high-four figures to middle-five figures.
3) Third tier: Top tier IR academics, former deputy policymakers, consultants who fancy themselves as deep global strategists, one-shot book-publishing wonders, etc. Examples: Charles Kupchan, Strobe Talbott, Parag Khanna. Foundations, think tanks, some campus groups, and university institutes will invite these speakers. Fees are generally low four figures.
4) Fourth tier: Assorted crackpots, garden-variety think-tankers, A-list bloggers, and me. Travel, hotel, and something less than $1,000.
Does this hierarchy affect how foreign-policy analysts write and think? I'm honestly not sure. Cracking the top tier is very difficult, and someone gearing their entire intellectual output towards that goal is more likely to be disappointed than not. Forthermore, the best way to crack that tier is to achieve a related goal, which is a top-tier appointment in an administration. One could argue that this puts constraints on how far outside "mainstream" analysis one can go.
On the other hand… once one realizes that those A-list appontments ain't going to happen, the incentve structure shifts. After a certain point, becoming an intellectual bomb-thrower can be the quickest route to achieving pecuniary rewards. That said, even in this case one has to have done good work in the past in order to be taken seriously. So, in the foreign-policy ecosystem at least, I'm not sure speaking fees distort policy analysis all that much.
I'm eager to hear from commenters on this question, however: do you think the growth of outside speaking fees distort incentives within the foreign-policy community?
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
Your humble blogger has crossed all the t's, dotted all the i's, and sent in the page proofs for Theories of International Politics and Zombies. It's now
done perfect, so no one e-mail me about some new zombie discovery, cause I can't change a thing about it now [Did the zombie ants get in? -- ed. Just by the skin of their brrrraaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiinnns, yes.].
The most important thing I did over the past month was to draft the index. I suspect that many of this blog's readers are aspiring book-writers -- so here is the most useful tip I can provide on indexing a work of non-fiction: For academics, the index is the third-most important part of your book. Assuming you want the great, the good, and everyone else to read your magnum opus, learn this fact well. Scholarly readers will usually flip quickly through a book's introduction, acknowledgments, index and bibliography to determine if it's worth buying.
Why are they flipping through the index? Well, it's usually for one of the following reasons: A) they want to see if their name appears; B) they want to see if their rivals' names appear; C) they are only interested in a particular part of the book, and the index is a more useful guide than the table of contents.
You might think of the index as a chore that just needs to be outsourced to a
lackey illegal immigrant research assistant or professional indexer. If so, then you risk not being responsible for a part of the book that will be thumbed through the most.
In light of this fact, try to be moderately throrough in your index. If you mention a name in the text, put it in the index. Do the same with conceptual ideas. The more inclusive the index, the more interest the book will garner. Consult The Chicago Manual of Style and do it yourself. It's a draining exercise, but for your first book, well worth the effort.
As an example of what not to do, here is a small sample of what's in the index to Theories of International Politics and Zombies:
anarchy, 33-34, 47. See also post-apocalypse.
balancing, 34, 39-40
bioterrorism, 4-5, 18, 27, 89
cannibals, 11, 67, 125n14
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, 54n
Chucky doll, lameness of, 6
college students, 5; similarity between zombies and, 75-6
constructivism, 67-76, 110-11
Coulton, Jonathan, 50-51
Dawn of the Dead, 25, 28, 36, 52, 69-70, 82, 83, 90, 93, 99, 105
deadites. See zombies.
Dead Alive, 24, 25, 82
differently animated. See zombies.
disasters, 1, 18, 38, 57, 71-72, 112
feedback loop. See paradox.
Hirschman, Albert, 113-14
human lobby, realist warnings about, 45n
Murray, Bill, 74
Nietzsche, Friedrich, 23n, 61
pandemics, 1, 18, 37-38, 50, 55-6, 59, 100
paradox. See feedback loop.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Zombies, 58
Resident Evil, 2, 23, 25, 83, 93. See also Umbrella Corporation.
Shaun of the Dead, 51-2, 73, 74, 78, 99
Sun Tzu, 13
Thriller, evil of, 25-26
Thucydides, 13, 38
Tragedy of the Commons, 48-9
Tragedy of the Zombies, 51-2
Ugly Americans, 3
vampires: 6-9, 13, 120n19; suckiness of, 9
World War Z, 25, 28, 29, 38, 39, 41, 55, 57, 65, 73, 91-5
zombie-industrial complex, 83-4
Zombie Strippers, 23n, 83
[Apologies to loyal readers sick of zombie posts: This will be my very last zombie post about this for the few months... right up until the book comes out, when I will put the rest of this country's media whores to shame, I will be prostituting this book so much.]
two of you who were curious what the cover of Theories of International Politics and Zombies will look like, well, your curiosity is about to be sated:
I can also promise some awesome illustrations in the text.
Your humble blogger has occasionally been asked to give speeches and/or presentations at other campuses. Most of the time this comes with an economy-class air ticket and a very modest honorarium. After reading Sarah Palin's standard speaking contract*, however, I realize I have been far too modest in my demands. So, from now on, any university that wants to bring me out needs to meet the following criteria:
1) The host is responsible for providing a first-class airline ticket between Boston and the event city. The host is further responsible for ensuring that Courtney Love is seated next to me so I can have her thrown off the plane. If neither a first-class airline ticket nor Ms. Love is available, Wonder Woman's invisible jet will suffice -- but only if Wonder Woman herself is piloting the craft.
2) The host is also responsible for travel within the event city. The host will provide a jetpack, a Batmobile, or that Aston-Martin DB5 with the ejector seat for local travel. No giant ants -- so not cool.
3) The host will make sure that the following items are available backstage at his speaking engagement:
1 six-pack of Diet Coke
1 jar of Ba-Tampte Half-Sour Pickles
6 boxes of frozen Thin Mints
1 light saber
1 complete edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. None of those condensed/abridged versions, either -- it's the whole smash or nothing.
4) Twenty minutes before the speaker's talk, the host will ensure a student walks out to the podium, wearing an incredible sexy ballroom gown, and reads Book One of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. Note: the gender of the student doesn't matter, but that ballroom gown had better be damn sexy.
5) The host shall ensure that the following is located on the speakers' podium:
1 bottle of water
1 bag of Funyuns
1 t-shirt launcher -- those things really do look like they're a lot of fun.
6) The host shall ensure a moderator asks all of the questions from the audience. The host shall further ensure that the moderator only asks these questions after inhaling lots of helium.
7) At the end of the talk, the host shall ensure that this music is played as the speaker leaves the building.
8) Under no circumstances is Jay Leno to precede or follow the speaker.
Readers are encouraged to list their own demands to be a speaker in the comments.
*Which, while perhaps at odds with her populism, don't seem all that strange given the surging demand for her services at the moment.
Darren McCollester/Getty Images
As I'm transitioning from vacation mode to catching-up mode, Two brief notes. First, you might notice a blogroll and twitter feed on the right-hand side of the page. Classy, huh?
Second, blogger "fame" can bring some odd moments. For example, Henry Farrell posted that John Holbo "is profiled along with other academic bloggers (DeLong, Drezner, Shalizi) in Berkeley’s alumni magazine."
The piece is primarily about DeLong and Holbo -- here's the section on yours truly:
Other well-known academic bloggers admit they began in an effort to be heard beyond the tight circle of academe to which they had access as untenured professors. Tufts University Professor Dan Drezner, a right-leaning political blogger who often skirmishes online with DeLong, began blogging after 9/11 because he had expertise in the Middle East, and major newspapers refused to publish his op-eds. Within a year, he was a regular contributor to The New York Times. At the time he and DeLong jumped in, says Drezner, blogging was “the quickest way to become a public intellectual."
Now, I don't know if there are so many inaccuracies in this essay because I got my Ph.D. from a rival institution, but let's clear up a few things:
1) I have never claimed area expertise about the Middle East. I'll claim some expertise about the study of international relations, some of which applies to the Middle East. That's a different kettle of fish than what's stated about me in the above paragraph.
2) I've never been a regular contributor to the New York Times, unless four book reviews and one op-ed in seven years counts as "regular."
I suspect that Cathleen McCarthy, who wrote the essay, mistakenly conflated myself and FP's Marc Lynch, from this Williams Alumni Review story she wrote three years ago. But it's good to have a blog to set the facts straight.
Enough navel-gazing. Substantive blogging will resume tomorrow.
For those three readers not transfixed by today's Healthcareapalooza: your humble blogger is in Washington, DC today to
talk China-watchers down off the ledge testify before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. I'll post a link to the actual testimony once it's online. UPDATE: here's a link to everyone's testimony.
As is standard in these settings, I'm pretty sure I'm the least qualified person on the expert list.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.