Who I represent, and who I don’t

© Justin Ide, Harvard News Office

You – yes, you. Stand still, laddie.

It’s the political season, and we’re hip-deep in scandals and wars. I have views on many of these events, as almost three years of this blog attest. (There’s a midterm election coming in three weeks, and you can bet I have a deep interest in it, particularly in the Senate races — because I’m a political scientist, and also, you know, a former Senate staff member.)

But just where do my views come from, and whom do they represent? If you don’t care about that, you can close this page and move on. But if you’re interested in issues of academic freedom, partisan politics, and national security debates, then keep reading. Continue reading →

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When I predicted the current era of intervention: Read the first chapter of Eve of Destruction

Obama-Syria-570x332In 2008, I wrote a book called Eve of Destruction, in which I predicted the current era of intervention, humanitarian and otherwise. Thanks to the generosity of my publisher, the University of Pennsylvania, you can read the first chapter of Eve of Destruction free of charge via the PDF here and get a quick look at the overall argument. Written between 2004 and 2007 and originally spurred by things I’d followed in Russia and France rather than the war in Iraq, I predicted that there would be more, rather than fewer U.S., Russian, and Western interventions in the world: the problem was not limited to one U.S. administration, but began after the end of the Cold War and wouldn’t end with Iraq. Continue reading →

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Glad to help out the Colbert Report

Stephen Colbert, like a lot of other people, had some fun with Bill O’Reilly’s idea of a mercenary force to fight terrorism, which I commented on (as you can see in my previous post). I guess Colbert thought what I said was funny, because he riffed off my comments on his show this week:


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Tom on The O’Reilly Factor: Mercenaries a “terrible idea”

I joined Bill O’Reilly’s show yesterday to talk about Bill’s idea of creating a 25,000-man anti-terror mercenary force. I said it was an impractical, immoral idea; what more can I say? But I enjoyed the visit and credit to O’Reilly for ensuring (as his producer noted to me) that he had guests who were opposed to the idea. Here’s the clip.

I was kind of surprised by how much press this generated; within a day the story was covered by Media Matters (and don’t I have mixed feeling about that), MSNBC, Huffington Post, New York Magazine, Politico’s Dylan Byers media column, and others.

I guess other media take a certain amount of pleasure in seeing O’Reilly getting pushback, but to be clear: I knew what he was going to say, and he knew what I was going to say, and it was just what it looked like: a debate.

Here’s how it looked to Steve Benen at MSNBC:

In fact, after unveiling his preferred approach, O’Reilly sought an assessment from U.S. Naval War College Professor Tom Nichols. The guest responded, with a polite tone, “Well, Bill, I understand your frustration. I really do. But this is a terrible idea, a terrible idea not just as a practical matter but a moral matter. It’s a morally corrosive idea to try to outsource our national security. This is something Americans are going to have to deal for themselves. We’re not going to solve this problem by creating an army of Marvel Avengers or the Guardians of the Galaxy.”

O’Reilly remains convinced his idea is going to happen, and he led the next night with more discussion of why it would be “moral.” I guess I hit a nerve on that.

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