Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pentagon Enlisting Social Scientists

Pentagon To Consult Academics On Security:

Eager to embrace eggheads and ideas, the Pentagon has started an ambitious and unusual program to recruit social scientists and direct the nation’s brainpower to combating security threats like the Chinese military, Iraq, terrorism and religious fundamentalism.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has compared the initiative — named Minerva, after the Roman goddess of wisdom (and warriors) — to the government’s effort to pump up its intellectual capital during the cold war after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957.

If the uncustomary push to engage the nation’s evolutionary psychologists, demographers, sociologists, historians and anthropologists in security research — as well as the prospect of new financial support in lean times — has generated excitement among some scholars, it has also aroused opposition from others, who worry that the Defense Department and the academy are getting too cozy.
I can understand that concern from a historical perspective, but from an academic point of view, and in consideration of our security policies since 9/11, I certainly think us "eggheads" could make things better. Besides, Secretary Gates is a former "egghead" himself.
Mr. Gates, a former university president with a degree in Soviet and Russian history, has a particularly personal stake in the program, Mr. Mahnken said. “He was a beneficiary of the investment made by the government during the cold war,” he said, adding that Mr. Gates was determined to repair the “bridges that used to exist between academics and the government that have fallen into the river.”
My phone hasn't rung yet, but if it does I'll be more than happy to pick it up. Nothing would please me more than to help bring a criminological focus back to understanding terrorism and national security.

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