Toward a new world; The intellectual and the policy maker, part one
The Institute on world affairs the Institute on world affairs held each year on the San Diego State campus brings together statesman scholars military leaders and businessmen from all over the world. The purpose of this institute is the understanding of the problems and challenges that face man gained through knowledge and discussion. This year's theme was toward a new world and here to introduce this session speaker is Professor Minos generalise director of the Institute Dr. Fred Sunderman is no newcomer to our audience. He's been here on numerous occasions. I've had a most pleasant personal collaboration with him over the years and I trust his collaboration it will continue into the future. It is therefore always place where pleasure. And honor that I present to you Dr. Fred Solomon speaking and the intellectual
response. Thank you very much MENAS. Ladies and gentlemen. When the topic of my talk was first suggested by no one else than myself I'm not saying I have to confess that I thought it was a good deal less complex than it has turned out to be I've had to change my mind on that subject. I've also had to change my mind a number of other points when I was preparing for this morning. I have not had to change my mind on the proposition that the subject is appropriate to this time to this place on this occasion. Your theme is toward a new bird and you are focusing as I understand it on the changing environment of international relations and the efforts of man everywhere and to adapt themselves and institutions to those changes. It seems obvious to me and darkly going around as has already mentioned this also that intellectuals along with others
have a part to play in that adjustment process. There's also a somewhat personal reason why I felt this might be an appropriate place for me to say some of the things that I want to say MM some four or five years ago the question of giving up at least for a time of giving up my academic career and moving to a government position in Washington became apparent run for me in heaven knows the post in question was not a high level decision making post but it was one from which some inference could possibly be exerted and from which some politicizes In any event had moved into more important positions on the State Department Policy Planning Council and later in the White House. And the other one as as an assistant secretary of state in the Department of State. I recall at the time I forget what the occasion was Barraclough discussing my predicament and my problem with Professor going around as your direct answer. And I read his reply very clearly and he said that these opportunities come up for all of us from time to time
and at some point you simply have to make up your mind why you got into this profession and then act accordingly and will know that I do. It happened to coincide with my own feelings on the matter and that maybe one of the reasons I remember it so rare. As I said earlier I thought this subject was simpler then and it is also thought I knew my own mind. Mark clearly that has turned out to be the case. A little over a year ago on an article on colleges universities and bird affairs in the Journal of conflict resolution I briefly outlined my own position I know it's terribly in mob is difficult by itself but it's a very convenient and I can do this in the relatively short time and I'd like to cite what I felt I had to say at that particular time. I said the issue is that of the appropriate relationship between the Academy and the society in which it operates and the government which makes decisions for that society. So much has been said on this issue that one hesitates to add to the volume but the problem is important and has been so at
least since the time of Socrates. It's becoming more central at a time when men of knowledge increasingly have the option of becoming men of power. A temptation which is not always wise and never easy to resist. I can only enter personal judgment here am I wrote unsupported by the usual scholarly apparatus of facts and figures gained from Imperator research. My judgment is that the easy transition to power and influence should be rejected not by our cause but by some that some scholars can make their best contribution indirectly rather than directly rather than through direct involvement and participation in policy making. I think of such activities as research study reflection and the kind of effective teaching results may not be visible for a generation of them. Above all it would seem to me that at least some persons in the academy must make their contribution by rigorously critical examination of the assumptions values and policies of this society and government
by raising issues which majorities would prefer not to see or raised by opening difficult and embarrassing questions to public discussion. This of course is not the only function of a college or university and its faculty but its one which no other part of society can perform as well. It is neglected at the power of both the institution and the society of which it is a pact and it cannot be performed adequately if there is a custom a client relationship between the government and the institution of the scout. Now this is a point of view with which I am still able to live. But I must add that in the course of thinking about what I should say today and thinking about it with mounting terror as the days passed. I've discovered some gaps in that thinking and no doubt you're going to discover some others that I've overlooked. I found a need for some further thought and reflection and viewing some of these problems in a somewhat different framework and context in short. It hasn't turned out to be a simple and straightforward as I thought it was perhaps true.
That's an indication of the fact that it's even more important than I thought it was because important questions are seldom simple and they're seldom clear and the and generally applicable answers to them. Now I notice with interest that an increasing number of people and organizations have recently addressed themselves to this subject of the relationship between the intellectual and the policymakers. And the discussion of this theme has entered the public arena on a fairly massive scale and in quite impressive volume if not always in impressive quality. Let me just very briefly wait for you to a few recent items for example about a year and three quarters ago there was an article in Foreign Affairs by Charles Frank Our professor of philosophy at Columbia now assistant secretary of state for a vacation our cultural affairs entitle the Scrabulous which referred to the out of the intellectual set. A little over a year ago there was a large massive convocation in Los Angeles sponsored by the Center for the Study of democratic
institutions of productive actions of the press he laid it on the university in America and as one of the main ingredients of this Martin Lippman gave a discussion on this theme is still looking for the philosophy of the things you may have found him in the academic type a little bit less sure about apps in years. Many of you I'm sure have read the recent series of articles in Life magazine by th white. Mounting and potters out of a pan of praise for what he calls the action intellectual arts but also raising some very difficult questions more difficult I think in part by Mr. vide obviously realizes right often overstates its case but he speaks for example quote a new power system in American life a new priesthood. He points out that as of last year fully one half of the cabinet was drawn from former former college professors. It suggests that the presidency has become almost a transmission belt packaging and processing scholars ideas to be sold to Congress as a program. He estimates that in
politics the backroom bosses are being pushed out by backroom professors. He quotes with evident approval Dean Haber of the University of Michigan to the effect that the leadership of this country today lies on the campuses and so on and so forth down a very long line of similar statements. I'd also refer you to the White House appointment of an intellectual in residence. The somewhat defined functions but essentially I take it responsible for keeping open the channels of communication between the campuses and the presidency. One holder of the job Professor Goldman of Princeton resigns in frustration. His successor Professor Mosher Brandeis isn't heard from very much after he's been appointed and presumably is busy. And just very recently in its last issue fond of fast one of our most respected journals of cars gives space to an article by Irving Christoph which can really only be called a caricature of the intellectual community. I suspect it must have been written after a particularly disagreeable New York cocktail party and I'm going to refer to it again a little later and asked me
a Saturday Review as a last round of the year law school himself one of the early advocates of transforming the social and behavioral sciences into policy sciences. I submit it's a very interesting proposal for the establishment of what he calls social observatories to collect and process data and to disseminate the information to policymakers. Now I've just cited a very few of the many pieces of evidence of public interest and concern. Obviously we're not alone in our interest in a sense that the subject is significant. I notice that later in the program unhappily not this morning as I look forward to it. Professor scalloping I know is going to address himself to this subject foreign policy the intellectual and the future and I take it that this means he has concluded that there will be a future relationship between intellectuals and policymakers. I can't and don't disagree with that of course. To question it or to try to stop such a future relationship would be very much like commanding the tide to turn back.
Eventually they may do so but I suspect it isn't because of anything you say to them or anything you say about them. What I would like to do instead is to raise some points and some questions about these relationships I'd like to imply a specific claim under what conditions they are of greatest value and benefit. What has prompted the emergence their rapid growth where the benefits are as separate go either they are one sided and perhaps most importantly under what conditions they can be most productive for both sides and to what problems they give us because I do think there are problems. Now if you limit the scope of the discussion let me focus on the field of foreign affairs. I shall speak of the intellectuals concerned with this subject and I shall speak on the other hand primarily of State Department personnel who deal with it in responsible positions. Now we are know that this isn't the only field in which there's been growing relationship between intellectuals and policymakers it may even be as some have suggested that it's one of
the fields in which that relationship has been least frequent and also perhaps less productive than elsewhere in the government less for example than in the sciences and lesson in economics in those two fields a relationship between the government and the disciplines has been institutionalized through such devices as the president's advisor signs of AS and his staff and the Council of Economic Advisers my strong impression is that such agencies as for example the Department of Housing and Urban Development the Department of Defense the Bureau of the budget etc. to name just a very few have a closer linkage with the academic community in a meaningful sense than does the Department of State. I can't quantify this I can't prove it it's an impression but I do have it. Now let me also suggest maybe the best him up focusing on relatively long range relationships all of us in this business engage from time to time in short range efforts to have an impact on policy. We professors we write letters to the editor.
We participate in teach and we give speeches to almost anyone who is foolish enough to ask us. We act publicly to important news events I in fact I dare say that there's very few exceptions we have a James Rosen as defined as single issue local opinion modus. Sometimes in fact we may do this even for someone who we don't know our don't support during last Cross campaign. Strangely enough I found myself very politically engaged in foreign policy advising in the senatorial campaign of someone for whom I would probably not have voted had I lived in his state. I don't want to give you the name of the Grant again Senator Douglas. This came about. This came about through the request of a former student of mine who happened to be that man's part of policy research and called me and asked without help and I said yes. I must say that some of this my own activity included does raise a few questions in my mind to write reports and Life magazine a few weeks ago. On a talk with a group
of Los Angeles professors at UCLA Law School a member just back on the stand for the war on poverty program in Washington was asked whether he would serve the conservative governor of your state if called upon to do so and that he replied quote If Reagan asked me why of course I'd have to say yes. That's what a professor is. I wonder you know is that indeed what a professor is form. I'm reasonably sure it isn't the only thing he's for and I'm less sure just how high this particular activity should rank among his various functions I just don't know I'm puzzled by this. But I've tried to say is that a few of us are pure academicians pants are concerned about the draft. We are taxpayers concerned about 10 percent surcharges and their impact on our paychecks. We are consumers of products whose prices are rising and sharply also citizens have our values and our preferences. Hopefully we can not refrain from exercising before 5:00 p.m. but we can't always be sure. Also we do of course have an image of a better future burdened with it I suppose that we have is somewhat of a sense of
mission as everyone says which in its simplest form would be to leave the just a little bit better than you found it. As somebody else said scratch a social scientist and you're likely to find a form and I think there's some truth in this and that may be even more true than in the field of international relations and in some other fields. In part because of the background and the historical development of that the earth in its early years it was heavily normative in part because of the cultural importance and the tragic potentialities of the issues with which we are trying to deal. Well these activities that I've described do WAIS some questions but they don't really strike me as central if the each of us are right if to act is to sin. I suspect we've all sinned a little and we've probably enjoyed it. I am reminded of the story of the couple leaving the church after a sentiment in which a man is dead beside the Ten Commandments and the man says Well anyway I've never made a graven image about most. My
point is most of us like that man I suspect have done almost everything else. What I would define as a more essential question is the allotment of a substantial amount of you and of one's energies towns and time to participation in public affairs. As a consultant to policymakers as a staff member of an agency or perhaps as a policy maker himself. That amount of time can be in a block and I've spoken to a number of colleagues who say that increasingly they think of their professional lives that wait five years to do this and then another five years to do something else and so forth and so on. All right maybe in smaller quantities. Teaching part time and doing contractual research another part of the time or very frequently teaching full time and doing consultation on one's own time except it isn't obvious or months on time. Now let me make one just one other power find that simplifying assumption really a stipulated definition that when I say intellectual is mourning I really I mean personnel and
academic institutions now I know that's grossly oversimplified and so do you. I know perfectly well that not all intellectuals are professors and that not all are professors and lecture also. One sociologist recently thoughtfully estimated that a cool 60 percent of the smaller the ranks of the purpose are you will do most anything to get away from intellectual activity. And as life's theories defined intellectuals as man for whom ideas are more than thought patterns but for whom ideas have a vitality of their own often more important than reality or humanity itself. And I'd like you to know. How different that definition is from for example Richard Goodwin spall a.m. self a brilliant young intellectual as active in the Kennedy administration that call it the ultimate commitment to ideas is to act on them. Which is very similar again to Roger Hilton's description of President Kennedy. He was interested in ideas and theories but not for their own sake. His interest was aroused
only when the ideas had some practical consequences. Only if they could make they could make it possible to shape the to accomplish something. You see I think there is a difference here between the pure intellectual and the policymakers the policymakers may respect he may listen to him may even act on the basis of what the intellectual says but he cannot permit himself to give first priority to ideas. The essential style and commitment I would suggest is different and must be different. Now let me begin. The bulk of what I want to say by recalling an experience which I'm sure many others including many of you could duplicate and multiply mine namely that when you put college professors and government foreign affairs personnel together in the same room on the same panel they tend to view events situations trends alternatives quite differently from one another. I could give you many examples I let a single run stand for a variety of them at the University of Southern California Institute on good affairs last spring in
Pasadena I am a very very able young State Department officer on the opposite Western European affairs made statements about the development of the Common Market about British policy about French policy about our policy and so forth which with virtually unanimity were rejected by every academician present including myself. Now I assure you that unanimity among academics is very bad. Usually the only thing they can agree on is what another one should have done better in his most recent book article. But the immediate point is that all of us perceive a different reality from what this brilliant young State Department official and his colleagues obviously perceived. And to say this is no disrespect to the State Department Foreign Service officers I have the highest regard for their capabilities. Rather I'd like to focus attention on the question of what may account for these different perceptions of reality and the different views of policy and future alternatives that's a very difficult question. And I'm just never satisfied with my own efforts to think it through and I can only suggest a
few possibilities to you. One possibility would be that there is a different selection process both in terms of self-selection and in terms of selection by others which brings different types of persons into one or the other field I think this is very likely because I think it's true of our fields. But if it is so then it naturally creates some problems in the relations between these groups. Secondly I would suggest that there are different ways of acting reacting and behaving within the two fields within the Foreign Service for example and the academy. Again I think this is very likely if for no other reason and there are such pf. procedures and behaviors in our fields certain behaviors are differentially rewarded and punished and there leave ways an obvious Mind your own sometimes a fairly wide I think this is true in academic life for example. But there are almost always limits on acceptable behavior. If the these limits exist and if the standards do differ and then I think it must
again in some way effect the relationship between members of these two communities. It's easy to make gross statements here which oversimplify matters but let me take that risk and let me ask for example on whether there is something to Kissinger's suggestion that as against the personal you military diffidence and self-deprecation wish to vait American life the academician who feel seized by a truth be parts found that patent hunts Morgenthau whom you have already matched are Kenneth boding perhaps a Henry Kissinger and self may not fit very well into an organizational scheme in which others tend to supplement their personal thoughts and reactions to the standards of the group. Talking about boobs also brings to mind that in Government has very great reliance on group and committee work and happily That's also true of colleges and universities as we have been waiting to know. But we also know that not every academician is a good committee man there. Are as long ago
as ancient Greece the city suggested that brilliant man don't always make good leaders because they expect too much from ordinary people. They expect perfect understanding rational behavior. The politician who is used to the imperfections of man knows differently and probably knows better. That's another possibility we might talk about namely that the policy makers different information and the outside air. Note I said different. I didn't say necessarily better. This point can be argued both ways Arthur Schlesinger Jr. has been on both sides of the desk as suggested in his talk to the American Historical Association that no one who hasn't been on the inside at top levels that is could possibly imagine or duplicate the flow of information at the disposal of the policymakers at the same time I recall that the American Information Office in Saigon in the early 60s John McMahon has argued very persuasively I thought that the government's own information and Vietnamese policies and trends in the crucial period of the
late 50s and early 60s was uniformly bad and mistaken and that the newspapers consistently had better information for which some of their correspondents became persona non grata and Brit kicked out. He writes that the truly tragic part about this was that the government officials who did the reporting and those who use the reports to frame policy thought they were in possession of the right and true facts and they weren't. Now this makes me think that not all truth and not obvious among current affairs as I was vouchsafed to the government. So Another possibility would be that the difference can be accounted for by the respective responsibilities of the two groups. This is often framed into the proposition that the intellectual can contemplate reality and can suggest ways of coping with it without having to live as directly and immediately with the consequences of its contemplation as a policymaker must live with the consequences of his action. I think this is true and I shall refer to it again later.
Now with all these ideas and all these possibilities I still somehow feel that I have no completely satisfactory explanation to for the puzzling fact of different outlooks and perceptions among members of the two communities both of which I think I able both of which I think are bright. Both of which I think are responsible. Maybe I would hope that possibilities I've mentioned may contain some valid or at least some suggestive ingredients to them. Now let me turn to the arguments that I made can be made for close linkages between the academic community and the policy making process in foreign affairs. And let me begin by outlining what I imagined to be the arguments used by the policymakers themselves. I have to construct these by inference and reasoning. They haven't ever been spelled out so far as I know and I obviously don't know them from experience. But I would suggest that in the first place the policy maker which referred to the special talents and capabilities of the intellectual arm and to the special needs which the
policy maker feels for the concepts and especially the data which the academic expert can contribute. Secondly I would imagine it could be argued and it is argued that the academician has a responsibility. To put his special competencies at the disposal of his society name and that this is best done by bringing them to bed directly on current policy concerns. Third name I would imagine that the policy maker would argue that its own life is incredibly busy and that the intellectuals can contribute particularly the long range view. Before he became a national policy making himself Roger Holtzman in a book he published in 1956 on the relationship between intelligence and US government intelligence collection and policymaking quoted one of the policymakers on the IT interviewed as saying that his primary business was to get things from his in basket to his out basket in the shortest possible time to put out fires to deal with problems. And I quote here that it frightens him sometimes how much of putting out fires there was a
lot of time for thought and reflection. And I'm sure that this was an accurate and honest reaction in the 1950s and I would suspect that the situation hasn't improved and may have deteriorated since then. Certainly the policy makers style of life is one that inhibits reflectiveness. Certainly the traditional view of the academicians life is that it encourages reflectiveness I've had some occasion to wonder about this from time to time but maybe it is still true. Certainly true enough the policymaker It seems obvious and proper then that one should wish to avail himself of the special qualities and competencies of the other. To bring thought and reflection and short to bring time to bear on policy problems and some attempts have been made to encourage such wrong range thinking within the government but apparently without lasting success the outstanding example was the establishment in the late 1940s of the policy planning staff now counts on in the Department of State Dr. Joseph Johnson of the Carnegie Endowment who speak to you
later. It was an early member of the policy planning staff and you might check with him whether my impressions are correct. It apparently worked as it hadn't been intended to work for a riot but it also appears that more and more of its members are now involved in the solution of current problems and crises giving them insufficient time for the long range thinking which had been their original mission. Frankly I think you can very bow argue that there are some particular areas in which the intellectual and special competence and special concern for example has a Franco now assistant secretary of state suggest that intellectuals have a particular contribution to make in the area of cultural and educational policy especially with respect to relations with foreign intellectuals which are groups and some societies especially the emerging ones of cultural importance. And this needless to say also goes for aid programs to foreign universities exchange programs of values sots and the like. An area where the academicians should and do make the major contributions and of course no
one has been more instrumental in this entire period than Dr. Luther Evans whom you will hear this evening and who is present this morning. Now to all of this. One could add that there may also be somewhat less elevated reasons why government officials might wish to consult the academician Hillsman for example suggested in his 1956 study that much of the time the intelligence agencies product was used not to frame policies but to backstop decisions that had already been waged on entirely different grounds. It's not beyond my imagination to conceive that intellectual advice is solicited for seminar reasons. It's also not beyond my imagination that some consultations take place merely so that the policy makers in the event that they are later called on to explain and defend a decision can say that they did consult in a conversation early last year the late Bernard Shaw said pretty much this to me that he was being consulted often by the Defense Department that he increasingly had the impression that this was a mere formality that no one seriously listened to
- Toward a new world
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- This program presents the first part of a lecture by Dr. Fred Sondermann, Colorado College.
- Lectures recorded at San Diego State College's 25th Annual Institute on World Affairs. The Institute brings together world leaders to discuss issues in politics, culture, science, and more.
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Speaker: Sondermann, Fred A., 1923-
Speaker: Generales, Minos D.
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