Friday, June 22, 2012

Artificial Deadlines: Not This Time

Brian Rathbun's post gets much right about how academics operate, especially the setting of artificial deadlines to motivate production.  That he posted it the same day that (a) stop doing academic work so that I can get ready for the movers on Monday; and (b) that my co-author, Dave Auerswald, and I send our book manuscript out to our preferred press for their consideration seems most apt.

Yes, "NATO and Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone" is done.  I fully expect both NATO and Afghanistan to cooperate and not change much while the book is under review.  Both seemed agreeable.  I always warn my students not to study a current event, as one might get hosed by changes in reality that upset one's conclusions.  This is all driven by a friend's experience who was writing a research paper in college in the fall of 1986 arguing about how successful the US arms embargo was against Iran.  And then Iran-Contra happened. 

The way we dealt with this challenge was to focus on much but not all of the NATO experience in Afghanistan--from the start until early 2010.  It has been the case that our predictions and explanations could cover the subsequent period, but revising on a daily basis did not make sense.  Plus our interview were mostly prior to 2011.  We did squeeze in a new chapter--Libya--as it started and ended in a time frame convenient for us, and covering the various actors all in one chapter did not require as much depth as covering a few of the actors (US, France, UK, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand) in Afghanistan with much greater depth.

As readers of this blog know, I loved the research for this effort and not just because of the tourism it facilitated.  I not only have had a terrific co-author, but I met a bunch of smart, interesting, engaging people along the way--military officers, policy-makers, diplomats, experts, academics, journalists and others.  Oh, and the beer was pretty terrific as well in all the places we visited.  More acknowledgements will come--in the acknowledgements section of the book.  The readers of my blog here and other places I post online have been helpful as well, pushing me to think more clearly, if not write more clearly.

Anyhow, the book is out of our hands now.  Time to focus on moving, on the various responsibilities I have been putting off (setting up the Foreign Policy Analysis program for next year's ISA, among others), and start on the next book.

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