Campus Radicals at Northwestern Block Appointment of 3-Star General

Karl Eikenberry
US Embassy Kabul Afghanistan/Flickr

“Anti-American liberal lunatics have taken over this campus,” Kyle Smith writes at the New York Post about Northwestern University, where the appointment of General Karl Eikenberry to head a new global studies institute was blocked because, in essence, military veterans are too American for campus radicals.

“Eikenberry was ambassador to Afghanistan. He was deputy chairman of the NATO Military Committee in Brussels. He has lived in Hong Kong, China and South Korea, and taught in Rwanda,” Smith writes.

Last November, Northwestern worked out a deal with the 64-year-old retired three-star general to become director of the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, established at the elite private university by the largest donation it had ever received: $101 million, provided by Warren Buffett’s sister, Roberta Buffett Elliott.

The Buffett Institute means to advance such issues as “the spread of democratic political systems, economic development in impoverished regions of the world, immigration policies and forced migrations, the impact of cultural exchanges on societies, global religious movements and global communications, media and technology,” according to a university press release cited by the Chicago Tribune.

Northwestern’s president, Morton Schapiro, thought Eikenberry was a perfect fit for the job, a “renowned expert in global affairs” with “high-level experience in government and/or academia,” as the director’s charter called for.

He was President Obama’s ambassador to Afghanistan for two years, a Stanford fellow at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. While he does not have a doctorate, he holds master’s degrees from Harvard and Stanford, which also gave him the title of “professor of the practice” to salute his exceptional achievements.

That wasn’t good enough for the faculty and grad students that blocked Eikenberry’s appointment. Some dishonest professors are trying to cover their tracks by claiming their only objection to Eikenberry’s appointment was his lack of a Ph.D, but nothing about the position required one, and the idea of trumping Eikenberry’s enormous experience with a sheet of paper sums up just about everything wrong with America’s defective education system.

As Smith puckishly notes, Barack Obama’s lack of a Ph.D. isn’t going to stop any number of universities from offering him comparable positions, or even waiving requirements for such a degree that are explicitly on the books.

The truth slipped out in the ugly letter the small, but effective, minority of professors signed: “As faculty who are deeply committed to academic integrity, we believe that it would be irresponsible to remain silent while the University’s core mission of independent research and teaching becomes identified with U.S. military and foreign policy.”

“An ex-US general will likely think about international politics in terms of war and from the perspective of the US’s interests, and the research agenda will be negatively skewed as a result. Instead, why not appoint someone who will encourage research that is less belligerent and tainted by US bias?” whined one of the campus radicals quoted by Smith.

Eikenberry, who had already purchased a house near the university, withdrew his name from consideration on April 13, even though the Faculty Senate had voted 30 to 5 in favor of him.

He said he “regretted” the outcome but maintained his sense of humor. The Daily Northwestern reported that, when a student asked about the reactions to his nomination, Eikenberry said the “short answer” was, “Some of the criticisms that became public, they represented… to my mind, the very worst stereotyping of the United States military that one could possibly engage in.” He added that he was only inclined to deliver the long answer over a beer.

Eikenberry also described the incident as a measure of the growing gap between American civilians and the dwindling military population.

“Our armed forces are struggling with the recognition of the personalities of your generation, of the millennial generation, and trying to make necessary adjustments to it,” he said.

Over the decades since the end of the draft, America’s all-volunteer military has become a small percentage of the population, which means a growing majority has no familial relationship with military culture, no personal connection to anyone who served. This makes military life seem incomprehensible, frightening, or even punitive to young people.

“Many of the post-draft generation, when expressing gratitude to uniformed members of the armed forces as they pass by in airports, would be more accurate and sincere if they said, ‘Thank you for making it possible for me not to serve,’” Eikenberry suggested.

Or, as future Secretary of State John Kerry once thoughtlessly said back when he was a Senator, “If you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

Smith suggests that campus radicals and their anti-American professors should demonstrate the strength of their convictions by refusing to accept any more funding from the federal government… and if they really want to operate in an environment free of pro-American chauvinism and military-industrial complex money, they should relocate to Venezuela.

The campus Left’s goal is bringing Venezuela here. Minds firmly closed and welded shut, “safe space” force fields at maximum power, ears ready to bleed at the first sound of a dissenting idea — no wonder they didn’t want an academic institute headed by someone with extensive knowledge of what the world is really like.