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08 May 2007

Anticipating the politicization of future history

We note (albeit somewhat delayed) the frankly abhorrent treatment of a promising military historian, Mark Moyar, at the hands of an insular ivory tower. While there are many reasons for an individual not to find success within the academic job market, the string of coincidences that seem to have plagued this young man are entirely too damning in sum – particularly given the professional rigours he has already endured in the far more difficult publishing marketplace.

This is however not entirely surprising given his scholarly emphasis on revisiting the dead memories, and betrayed ghosts, of Vietnam. Historical research which vindicates (or at least argues for the re-evaluation of) contemporaneous assessment and prediction of Communist intentions, and the resulting eventual atrocities which consumed the region, is entirely verboten amongst the politically correct set – particularly if it might be construed to support differing views on the use of US military and diplomatic power in the pursuit of current and future interventions.

We tolerate few comparisons of the current conflict in Iraq (in any of its multiple evolving iterations since 2003) to the nation’s previous involvement in Vietnam. The environment - and the facts on the ground - are far different. However, it seems that the political playbooks which are twisting this conflict are simply re-hashed variants of older themes, which we find most unhelpful to the standards of objective and accurate analysis. But if we cannot even enjoy robust scholarly debate of the arguments of the past within the academy, in a manner which is free of politics, then how can we expect any escape from the politicization of academic intelligence studies in the current highly contentious environment?

Regrettably, we can also easily envision a similar fate to befall some poor scholar of tomorrow foolish enough to attempt to challenge the revisionist narratives that are arising today regarding OIF (and to no small extent the entirety of the Long War itself.) We have already seen some similar surprising coincidences in the hiring practices of a number of think tanks.

Absent change, we are quite concerned that those “thinking officers”, whose unique pre-doctoral work in the khaki tower of military academia should have earned them a place in any major institution of merit, will also face similar issues of discrimination even at their terminal degree. After all, how many Vietnam era veterans with in-theater service currently enjoy positions anywhere within the academy – especially in political science, international relations, history, or intelligence studies posts?

The ivory tower would do itself a great disservice to ignore the contributions of those who have served in the current GWOT, or any of those other individuals which would continue to attempt to bring the spirit of academic inquiry to hard issues of research and analysis in areas previously dominated by the narratives of a single interpretation. The ghosts of politics should not define the careers of those that would offer differing views.

But can we really expect much better, when there are still segments of the academy which refuse to accept the evidence of the VENONA intercepts regarding specific Communist agents such as Alger Hiss?

h/t Mediacrity

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