Thursday, October 20, 2016

When Critics are Lazy, Military-Academic Complex Addition

I go away for a little while and my school gets hit by the laziest of hit-pieces: that NPSIA is too close to government (see the Hill Times if you want, I refuse to give the outlet the hits/clicks).  "Too close for comfort" is the title.  I am surprised it didn't refer to military-industrial-academic complex since that is the usual go-to for folks making this argument.  But that is probably too long to type.

Yes, NPSIA has many sessional instructors (visitors) that have ties to government--folks who used to work at Foreign Affairs or elsewhere in the government.  Shocking?  No, we are a policy school, so it makes sense to expose our students to people who have experience doing policy.  Some of our tenure-track and tenured profs used to work for the government! Gasp!  My colleague Stephanie Carvin was mentioned by name.  If one were to read her tweets and her op-eds, or perhaps watch what she says on TV, one would not consider her a stooge of the government (I guess puppet is the more fashionable label, right?).

That gets to the heart of the problem: the author didn't read the stuff we write, watch our appearances on TV, or do any, um, work, other than do some modest research about the history of the place.  Many of us are critical of the government... perhaps not always, it kind of depends on what the government is doing and whether it is doing it well or not.  I cannot speak for all of my colleagues, but I get the sense we are not an ideological bunch nor do we see our job as always opposing for the sake of opposing (I blast that attitude in my, dare I say it, highly critical take of the Canadian government's performance during the Afghanistan mission).

The piece then goes after the usual targets--that the government has funded research (security studies is in scare quotes) via programs at Foreign Affairs and National Defence.  Those programs did give money, but did not buy support.  Again, LOOK AT THE RESEARCH.  Plenty of government funded research has been critical of the government.

The real conflict of interest might be at the Hill Times as they publish a guy who is flogging his ideological attack on the government and academia with a hit piece that actually has no real content.  Great job, editors.

PS  Yes, this might seem defensive, but when one is attacked, one has two responses--ignore or defend oneself.  Given that this accusations were made in a minor media outlet, a minor response is appropriate.


Ubique said...

Minor media outlet, hah. So true!

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the fact that IR graduates in Ottawa are almost predestined to get careers in government (no matter the party in power), it's unusual that this attack on academia is coming from a left-wing columnist.

Steve Saideman said...

It is not that unusual. Far left have long criticized "cozy" relationships between academics and government (even as they themselves benefit from government money). The phrase military-industrial-Congressional-academic complex is not mine, and it is not new. DND's Security and Defence Forum got attacked on a regular basis even though it shipped over $100k every year to York, an outpost of Critical Security Studies.

As Phil Lagasse tweeted, Canadian IR is diverse, so some folks will not criticize the Conservatives much, some won't criticize the Liberals, and so on.