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Princeton University Forum Transcript

Forum Participants: 
Anne-Marie Slaughter - Dean, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton
Cornell West -
Professor, Princeton University
Mark Bruzonsky - Journalist, Woodrow Wilson School MPA, NYU Law School Root-Tilden Scholar JD
                                            Full Text of Speech by Bruzonsky            Forum Video

The following is a full transcript of "Intellectuals and the Institution: What's in the Service of the Nation?" - a public forum held at Princeton University on February 7, 2006.   The forum was moderated by Sean Wilentz, Director of the Program in American Studies.

Fernando Montero: Good evening. My name is Fernando Montero, and on behalf of the organizers, I welcome you to this public forum. We would like to begin by acknowledging the support we have received from the campus publication and activist center Dollars & Sins. We would also like to thank our sponsors: the USG, the Program in African American Studies, the Princeton Justice Project, the Pace Center, the Council for the Humanities, the Program in American Studies, and the Woodrow Wilson School. In addition, we would like to thank The Coalition for Peace Action and the Princeton Progressive Nation for their publicity efforts on behalf of this event. We also extend our gratitude to all those across campus who helped us in our organizational efforts, and to Andrea Sun-Mee Jones for designing the beautiful posters announcing this event. Tonight’s forum will address the relationship between intellectuals and institutions, the academia and government, and the way in which their interactions are influenced or affected during times of war. For those of you who might not be aware of the events leading up to this occasion, I would like to provide this forum with a brief historical context. Last October, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs invited Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to deliver the keynote address for its 75th Anniversary celebrations. This was the latest in a series of prominent events in which high-profile members of past and present administrations have been invited to express their views and to promote their policies at Princeton University. These include Colin Powell, Anthony Zinni, Robert McNamara, Giora Eiland, Michael Chertoff, General David Petraeus, George Schultz, and most recently Hillary Clinton. Many students and professors were distressed to find that most of these events took place without meaningful interaction between the audience and the speaker. For example, General Petraeus was left completely unquestioned and unchallenged about his then-recent leadership in the demolition of the city of Fallujah, where several thousands of innocent civilians were killed and a quarter of a million Iraqis were displa ced from their homes. Referring to these concerns and others, an independent, inter-departmental group of graduate and undergraduate students composed a letter to President Tilghman and to the Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, Anne-Marie Slaughter. The letter was signed by 130 members of the University community and published in the Daily Princetonian, prompting responses from Dean Slaughter, President Tilghman, and many campus publications. Tonight’s occasion, organized by the authors of that letter, is the latest in a series of exchanges that have since taken place. The immediate motivation for the October letter was the address delivered by Condoleezza Rice, and the way in which the Woodrow Wilson School received her. In her address, Ms. Rice defended the use of violence in Iraq and elsewhere in ways that violate international codes of conduct, laws, treaties and human rights. Dean Slaughter stated that Rice exemplifies the University’s values and celebrated the Secretary of State’s career as a public servant. Our letter responded to these actions, and also criticized “a conspicuous absence of voices external to institutions, voices that can offer glimpses of the everyday significance of policy”. In the high-profile events of our school of Public and International Affairs, the persons, actors, and voices that foreign and domestic policy most affect are persistently excluded or displaced. The authors of the letter were pleased to receive responses from important members of the University community, but found that the replies misrepresented, overlooked, and ultimately dismissed their central concerns. We wish to briefly clarify our claims and criticisms, hoping to provide a concrete basis for tonight’s discussion. We do not speak from a specific partisan position. Our concerns pertain to all intellectuals and representatives of all political affiliations. Ours is not simply a question of bean-counting Republicans and Democrats, or so-called liberals and conservatives in any given event. Rather, we are deeply disturbed, if not outraged, by specific policies and practices of past and present governments, and by the fact that our University’s top representatives, acting in their official capacities, publicly endorse those who create and enforce such policies. This amounts to subservience, complicity, and a relinquishing of intellectual autonomy. Contrary to some suggestions, our aim is not to police the University’s guest-lists. We do not in any way deny an intellectual’s right to publicly express his or her political views. Rather, we oppose the conferral of Princeton’s prestige on what can only be described as uncritical propaganda sessions, be they Democratic, Republican, or otherwise; we oppose the consistent exclusion of independent and unaffiliated speakers; and we oppose the facile way this University’s motto is used and abused in order to exonerate public servants from responsibility for their actions. It is a fundamental contradiction to "serve the nation and all nations" by promoting policies that have destroyed cities, cultural and historical legacies, the environment, and hundreds of thousands of innocent human lives. In order to open the debate, would like to propose simple questions for discussion: What is the role of the University as mediator between intellectuals and public debate? Does the university have a responsibility before underrepresented voices, and if so, has it fulfilled that responsibility? Without further adieu, it is my honor to put this forum in the hands of tonight’s moderator, Professor Sean Wilentz, George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History and Director of the Program in American Studies. A scholar of U.S. social and political history, Professor Wilentz has written extensively about the emergence of the working class in New York City, as well about the early nation and Jacksonian democracy. Professor Wilentz lectures frequently and has written some two hundred articles, reviews, and op-ed pieces for publications such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, the American Scholar, the Nation, Le Monde, and Salon. As a publicly committed and outspoken historian, he has long reflected on the issues to be discussed here tonight. In his hands, we trust that this forum will take place in a respectful and constructive manner. Please join me in welcoming Professor Sean Wilentz.


Sean Wilentz: Thank you, Fernando. That was a very nice introduction. We’re here tonight to talk about what really—for me being somewhat older, with all my grey hair here—is a perennial. It’s an issue that’s come up in my life in the academy—which is pretty long—every five years or so. And it’s a question that has to be readdressed, has to be rejoined all the time because it goes to the heart of the mission of any university, particularly a university that proclaims itself in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. It goes to two – really two missions or two sub-missions, if you will. One is the traditional place of a university as an independent center for free inquiry—no holds barred, everything open—in the pursuit of knowledge. The other is the idea of a university—it’s another traditional idea—has an important civic function as well, that it has a place in the nation in which it is located and the world in which it lives to provide—to provide its knowledge, to provide what it finds out of that free inquiry for the betterment of all humankind. Those are two very noble missions but sometimes –well, they’re certainly in tension with each other. It’s not as smooth as one might hope. Why? Because sometimes, the university, in its civic mission, is perceived to be moving too closely to those in power. By the same token, there’s the danger that the university will simply secede from society, will have no civic role. This is a tension. It’s one that is very delicate, one that is very touchy, one that brings out a lot of emotion, but one that has to be continually readdressed. It’s a tension that raises hackles all across the political spectrum, as Fernando said. And I remember when I was coming up it was all about universities’ complicity in the war in Vietnam and the ways in which research in the universities was being used for that war. But it can come from the other side of the political spectrum as well. I remember professors in this university being demonstrated against because of their ideas, because they offended a certain particular point of view. I remember very vividly criticisms for bringing to campus a political leader who was deemed to be immoral. That was the president of the United States, Bill Clinton. Immoral from the left and immoral from the right. The whole thing could be immoral in a lot of ways in a lot of people’s eyes. But it was going to that tension, that central tension and it’s with us again today. So, it is well worth readdressing, it is well worth clarifying in the spirit of shedding light instead of creating heat. And we are very fortunate to have the three speakers who will be here tonight, all members of the greater Princeton community. I’ll introduce them quickly. First, Anne-Marie Slaughter who is the Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Speaking second will be the Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion, Cornel West. And finally, another member of the community, Mark Bruzonsky, 1973 graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School, editor and publisher of Mid-east Realities and you can find him on the web at: www.

Mark Bruzonsky: thank you. MiddleEast.org

SW: MiddleEast.org. I’m not only a moderator; I’m a pretty good guy at plugs too. Now, the format is loose. What we really want to do most of all is allow for questions and answers, for back and forth. So rather than prescribe to these distinguished speakers a particular set order, they may go as long or short as they like, as pithy or as eloquent as they like. But then after, I may ask a question of them all for some discussion, just to get it going. See I’m a [inaudible] as well, those of you [inaudible] Not enough laughter. And then we’ll open it up for discussion afterwards. So let me, with great pleasure and pride, introduce my friend the Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, Anne-Marie Slaughter.


Anne-Marie Slaughter: Thank you. Thank you. And my particular thanks to the students who organized this and to the organizations who funded it. I’m very happy to understand that that includes the Woodrow Wilson School. I say thank you completely sincerely because I was delighted to know that this was going to be debated. My view is that anything that elevates political debate—debate of any kind, but particularly political debate—on the Princeton campus is a good thing. And I know President Tilghman shares that view. When I was an undergraduate oh-so-long-ago, we actually had a daily demonstration in front of Nassau Hall to protest the University’s investment in South Africa. So every day for a year a group of students—rotating group of students—protested with signs marching around Nassau Hall, which was a very good thing in my view. I regret to say that recently when we tried to organize a similar protest against the U.S. practice of Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading practices, very few people showed up and that’s a bad thing. So, I’m quite sincere when I say I think that this kind of an evening is something that Princeton ought to be fostering and we need as much of it as we can. So, I’m going first. I’m not going to talk for 15 minutes. I’m going to try to lay out the facts. I think it’s always helpful to start with the facts. And then I will, I think, highlight what I see to be the critical issue and then let my fellow panelists tell me what they think the issue is and then of course I’ll save some time for rebuttal. So, let’s start with the facts. Let’s talk first of all about who came at the 75th Anniversary Kick-off and who was invited because it’s important. We invited Secretary Rice. We invited her back in May. We did not find out that she agreed to come until late in August. We also invited Senator Biden to be the keynote speaker on the second day. We did that because we like to have balance in political representation, not because of any particular partisan views, but because we think that way we will have more debate if we have, in this case, a prominent, obviously THE leading foreign policy person for the government and a very prominent Senator on the democratic side. Shortly—I would say two weeks or a week into September and we had about two weeks to go—Senator Biden said he couldn’t make it and so we invited Senator Hart who is less prominent now but nevertheless a strong critic of the administration’s views and we thought he would give a very good speech on the Saturday. He said he could come initially and a week in, for personal reasons, he had to cancel. We were then ten days from the event and we had a keynote speaker on Friday and no keynote speaker on Saturday. I wish I could say that this is a rare situation for the Woodrow Wilson School, but when you’re dealing with prominent personalities this often happens. At that point, I wrote David Petraeus who was one of our alumni and essentially said it is time to do your duty for the school. We need a keynote speaker on Saturday and I—I don’t order Generals around but I—I indicated I thought it was a command performance and that if he couldn’t come Ann Corwin, our beloved Director of Admissions and of Career Services, he would hear from her. He said he would come and he would give a lecture on ten lessons he learned from his experience in Iraq which I thought sounded like something we would very much want to hear. He, at that point of course, was just back and he initially said in addition this would be an off-the-record speech which I also thought would be very good in terms of hearing from him, I hoped, about some of the realities on the ground in Iraq. We then come up to the opening week. Secretary Rice is coming. I might add that there was a major flap at the beginning of that week because of a speech I had given at the New America foundation two weeks earlier that was a very strong attack on the administration’s policies in Abu Ghraib and also in Guantánamo. Nonetheless, the Secretary was on track and we had General Petraeus. Monday of the week that we were good to go, Secretary Chertoff—whom we had invited some point back in June, at that point thinking we needed somebody on the domestic side as well the international side, we were gonna have three—announced to us that he would be delighted to come. Now I think you can understand why he announced to us that he’d be delighted to come. This was now after Katrina and there was an outstanding invitation at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton and he decided that this would just be a fine invitation to accept. It is not my practice to say ‘Oh, I’m very sorry. No, we can’t have you now. We did extend you the invitation but we no longer want you.’ So, we said ‘Secretary Chertoff, we’d be delighted.’ And of course we ended up with Secretary Rice and Secretary Chertoff and David Petraeus. And the final fact that I think is relevant here Secretary – uh, David Petraeus, having planned to talk about ten lessons from Iraq—that week, if you will recall, was the week that the readiness of Iraqi forces was attacked by another General on Capital Hill—so General Petraeus decided he would use the platform to give a rebuttal about the readiness of the Iraqi forces, which was not the original plan and I don’t think I would have encouraged him had I known that was what he planned to speak about. Nevertheless, at that point he made it on the record and he gave the speech he gave. There were of course questions in the audience, but that leads me to my next set of facts concerning how we handled the speakers. Secretary Rice initially wanted to spend an entire day and eve—um, from noon until about 8 o’clock and she explicitly said that she wanted to meet with students. She wanted to meet with students in a completely open round-table environment. And then she would give a speech and she would speak for twenty to thirty minutes and she would take questions for at least thirty minutes, if not longer and indeed her press spokesman emphasized to me that she genuinely enjoyed these kinds of round-table events. She also insisted that no questions be planted, that it would be absolutely unscripted. We would never have planted them anyway, but this was—this came from her. She did spend an hour before she came on stage with a group of thirty Princeton students sitting in a room downstairs with, in good Princeton fashion, faculty members around the edges of the room not speaking. Students got to ask the questions. It was a very open discussion. She just took questions. Shirley Tilghman and I sat there and she responded for an hour. I very much wish that could have been broadcast, but the whole point was to have a more intimate encounter. We then came up to the stage, however on Wednesday, she called to say that she had to go back to Washington and indeed she wasn’t even sure she was going to be able to make the talk at the time we’d scheduled but she absolutely had to leave—I can’t remember now whether it was 3:30 or quarter of 4. But what that left us with was her talk and only 15 minutes for questions which was clearly not enough time for questions. Nevertheless, I looked out, saw the protestors standing in the back, saw this vast sea of faces, picked one from the right, one from the center, one from the left, not politically but geographically. Who knew? And we got the three questions we got, which were a—they ranged from questions on Latin America to a question on Karen Hughs’ trip, unfortunately entirely randomly. We did not get a question about Iraq which I think many people in the audience wanted to hear. Similarly, with General Petraeus there were questions. There was not enough time for questions. There rarely is because people speak longer than they want and all of these events are in very crowded time periods. I did take the occasion to ask General Petraeus about Abu Ghraib because I did not want to see him step down without at least facing that question. There were other questions we could have asked him. Same story with Michael Chertoff who spoke, had a tight time schedule and we had the questions that were open. I think I then want to turn to—so, so those are the facts of the kick-off weekend and I quite understand why people looked at this and saw very little political balance from their point of view, not only in those who appeared to have been invited, given where we ended up. They were invited but other people were invited as well. And also given the topics of the conversations and the curtailing of the time for questions. At the same time, we of course, last year when we invited Giora Eiland and Anthony Zinni, we invited Hanan Ashrawi as another keynote precisely because we wanted to hear from multiple different points of view. This year we had invited Madeleine Albright as our first request. We invited her for the kick-off and she decided to come in April which is then why we asked Secretary Rice for September, so she of course will be coming in April and it looks like, particularly after the Alito hearings, that Senator Biden is very willing to come to Princeton. I suggested to him that he had a little repairing to do of his reputation in Princeton so he, we think, will be here also in April. And, of course, on February 24th we have public service day where there is a full roster of our alumni coming back, pretty much equally distributed from Eliot Spitzer to Ben Bernacke and people like Ted Sorensen from the Kennedy administration coming and speaking. We of course—if you look at—over all whom we invite, it is a very broad spectrum of people and we want it that way. But I assume that that is not the key issue. I take the introduction at face value that of course we’re a university and we should never try to invite people based on what we think they’re going to say and we should never deliberately espouse a particular point of view and we should foster debate at all points. We are here to encourage active debate and inquiry. I assume we all accept that. To me the debate is really about my statement when Secretary Rice came, which was on the website, that she exemplified Princeton’s highest values. I’m going to assume that that’s the issue that people are most interested in and I think it is the issue that is—is more worthy of debate than whether we should invite people from both sides of the political spectrum, as we do. My statement, which I’m quite happy to stand by, referred to Secretary Rice’s career as someone who, in the first place, grew up in the segregated South and was determined to go into government and to be someone who made policy rather than being on the receiving end of policy. She didn’t decide to go into anti-discrimination policy or anything else but she did travel a very long journey from a time in which the idea that she could be Secretary of State was absolutely unthinkable. It was unthinkable when I was an undergraduate so it certainly was unthinkable for her growing up. Equally important, she was a distinguished Professor and Provost of Stanford but, like Woodrow Wilson himself, she took her expertise from the academy and put it to work in the service of her government. And that, to me, is exactly what ‘Princeton in the Nation’s Service’ means. It means that we take our privilege and our knowledge and our energy and we put it to work in the service of the nation and the service of all nations and she absolutely exemplifies that. Indeed, I would like to see many, many more Princeton students following in her footsteps of every conceivable political stripe. When she was asked why she went into public service she said ‘well, if you want to have influence on what your government does, you need to be a part of that government.’ Now, many people in this audience disagree strenuously with what she has done in office or what her government has done. On my blog, in my individual capacity, I’ve been known to disagree fairly strenuously with things the government does, but that does not mean that as a public servant—as the highest public servant in foreign policy—for a school in public and international affairs, her career does not exemplify the values across the political spectrum that we seek to inculcate when we say ‘Princeton in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations’.


SW: And now another friend of mine, Cornel West.

AMS: And mine.

Cornel West: Absolutely. Let me first salute the students who had the vision and determination to bring this together. I think it’s a real sign of hope that we have critically-minded students to ensure that we have these kinds of forums, serious discussion. I know they also aligned with—it was peace organizations—I see we have sister Irene and others of them, but Fernando and Bright Limm and all of them, I salute you. I’m always not just delighted, but elevated when we have these kinds of forums where we can go at each other intensely, critically, mediated with respect and civility. I want to thank my dear brother Sean Wilentz for serving as MC author of—I want to plug his book his magisterial text ‘The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln’. I think that’s very important because it reminds us of a time in which this grand institution had such deep complicity with vicious legacies of moral supremacy and white supremacy. If it were not for the kind of critical energy unleashed by people in the street, the best of elites in government and citizens who were part of the Princeton community, we wouldn’t have the colorful group that we have now as well as men and women and so forth. It’s important to keep that in mind I think brother Sean is absolutely right this is a perennial issue. Every generation has to wrestle with the too cozy relations at times between not just institutions of higher learning but elite institutions of higher learning like Princeton that plays a disproportionate role in shaping the elites of the nation. Whether they deserve to or not, they do. Now I’m here because my dear sister and colleague Anne-Marie—I wasn’t there to hear your remarks. I’m sure I would have been outside protesting, but I was outside of the country at the time. But that’s fine too. That’s part of the Princeton tradition too. And brother Mark, I look forward to our conversation. I’m here because I am fundamentally committed to a Socratic Princeton, intellectual integrity, intellectual civility but also intellectual maturity. And it means then that institutions and ourselves will forever fail because the standards are such that when we’re honest, when we talk about our will to truth are we willing to be truthful about Princeton’s will to truth. What does it hide? What does it conceal? When I look at the spectrum of debate, not just Woodrow Wilson, I’m concerned about the University across the board. Every figure that comes to this institution must be subject to sustained Socratic questioning and scrutiny. I mean when I used to invite my dear brother Edward Said. First thing we’d say is ‘at least an hour for dialogue. At least.’ Edward said ‘I can’t wait’. He’s a Princeton man: Class of 1957, the best of Princeton in so many ways, Socratic to the core. So I was disturbed, for example, when I was in California the other day and I saw sister Hillary Clinton. I said ‘Where’s the question and answer? Let’s go at the sister. She’s at Princeton. Anybody who comes to Princeton better be ready for some serious Socratic scrutiny. That’s what we stand for.’ If Chomsky were to be here, let’s go at brother Noam. And it’s very important to keep in mind that when I hear you say two sides, I get a little leery here cause there’s more than two sides. See, Biden is still too spineless for me.


CW: But I mean that’s just an orientation. I want him here. Bring him here. Scrutiny. Let’s hear Pat Buchanan’s critique of American imperialism. And Chalmer Johnson’s critique of American empire. Let’s hear Neil Ferguson’s defense of the empire. That’s what here for. But we also know that once the words are in the air, there’s also action on the ground in terms of the cross-fertilization of elites and how they’re formed and that easy road between Princeton and Washington. And that’s part and parcel. If we were [inaudible] we’d acknowledge that. Let’s just tell the truth about ourselves. We disproportionately shape the elite agenda. At the moment it is deeply conservative. It need not always be conservative. It is today. And therefore when we bring people in, we want to assure especially those critically-minded Socratic students, you are going to have a voice to go at these conservative elites.

Audience member: Amen, brother!

CW: ….no matter what. Liberal elites [inaudible] I would like to see more thoroughly leftist folk who are in the wilderness but whose voices would become more relevant as empire becomes more crisis-ridden. And I would like to see more right-wing reactionary folk. Even even more right than the republican party. Because sometimes the anti-modern, reactionary folk have some truths to tell. Even though usually I think they’re wrong. But that’s alright.


CW: But it’s the broadening and the deepening of the dialogue. We are about Paideia here in the Greek sense, right? The formation of attention. That shift from the frivolous to the serious. But a shift from the comfortable to the uncomfortable. Anytime we leave a forum, like this forum here, if we leave comfortable, if we leave without being unsettled and unnerved, we’re not being true to the Socratic Princeton that I’m committed to. And so I do want to congratulate those that brought us together and I look forward to a robust and uninhibited dialogue not just about remarks, I think part of it, but also the larger issue brother Sean talked about earlier and the various ways in which we can empower and ennoble each other to be more Socratic, more honest, more courageous and, in the end, more truthful because the truth is always painful in the Socratic tradition. And there are some painful truths that need to be disclosed about Princeton and its relation to Power.


SW: and Mark Bruzonsky.

Mark Bruzonsky: Good Evening. Nearly all of you are going to remain here at Princeton in the days to come. But though I have interesting memories of Princeton I will be here with you only for a few hours tonight before going back to imperial Washington tomorrow. So I ask you in the few moments we have together to please allow me to give you my perspective in a clear and admittedly pointed way. In a sense I’ll also be summarizing what I have learned in about 200 trips abroad since my own student days. I realize many of you may not agree with or even accept what I have concluded. But I thank you in advance for the opportunity to be here tonight to join these two distinguished persons who play such important roles at this exceptional university and in our country. Though what happened a few years ago on 9/11 was certainly not the start of the conflict that now dominates all of our lives, the impact it has had on our society, including events here at Princeton, is overreaching. I say it was not the start because one can trace what happened on 9/11 back to many other critical historical events from which it was spawned. And since he was the President of this University before he came to Washington as President of the country I’ll start by recalling the famous Paris ‘Peace Conference’ of Woodrow Wilson’s time. Though called a ‘Peace Conference’ the result was anything but. Back then the victorious Western powers essentially divided the defeated Ottoman Empire into many artificial nation-states and sheikdoms that still remain today. Then the legitimizing theme was ‘self-determination’ which, of course, was not really to be of course, much as today the ad-nauseum but disingenuous themes are ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom.’ It’s crucial to remember that at the time the people of what we Westerners named the Middle East had been promised Independence as an Arab Nation only to find themselves sold out by the secret British-French Sykes-Picot Agreement and then confined in neo-colonialism termed Mandates and legitimized by Wilson’s own League of Nations. That 1918 ‘Peace Conference' turned out to be ‘The Peace To End All Peace' the subtitle in fact of Professor David Fromkin’s remarkable book about that crucial period which is the precursor to our own. Or in view of current issues today we could skip forward and start with the largely democratic and secular attempt to reform Iran in 1953, one which the CIA then undid putting the Shah back on the throne until 25 years later a traumatized country threw him out. We, the United States, then took the Shah in, Iranian students then responded by sacking the U.S. Embassy and taking hostages, and in a sense their revolution then led to our Reagan Revolution and to today’s Iran. Or we could start with the region-shaking ‘67 War, or for that matter the U.S.-sponsored birth of Israel twenty years earlier, or with Jimmy Carter’s Peace Conference of ‘78, which then became another Peace to End All Peace, the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the Lebanese Civil War, the Iran-Iraq War, the Afghanistan war, the invasion/occupation of Lebanon which midwifed Hezbollah, the anti-occupation Intifada which midwifed Hamas and which led to the era of suicide bombers, which we’re in now, all precursors to 9/11 and what has followed since. The crucial point is 9/11 didn’t come out of the blue and did have causes and, for many, reasons and even justifications -- as much as American politicians and commentators refuse to discuss this backdrop and how the stage was set. Huge numbers of people, in total millions of Arabs and Muslims, had already been maimed and killed in this ongoing convoluted conflict laced with superpower proxy wars, Zionist and Muslim ideologies, corrupt repressive Arab ‘client regimes' and the never-ending Israeli/US occupation of the Palestinians. And let’s be clear about this -- among the main reasons most American politicians and commentators don’t talk about any of this and don’t connect the vital dots that could lead to both understanding and conflict resolution is because most of those who are allowed center stage are either in the pay of special interest groups or have little experience with the peoples of the region and little serious knowledge of the culture and history about which they are so incessantly chattering. One of your own current History Professors, one whom I just happened to grow up with in Duluth, Minnesota a long time ago, has this to say in the interview that accompanies his bio information on the Princeton website: "There are rules of the game in every society. We have to get inside a foreign culture and understand internally how it works. In 1940 we were confronting what we thought was fanatical emperor worship from the Japanese. They seemed to have no contact with Western civilization; they were inscrutable, incomprehensible. Today we’re describing our current enemy, Islamic fundamentalism, in much the same way. Whether it’s good or bad, there are ways that Islamic fundamentalists see the world. To call them terrorists and fanatics is simply to say they’re different from us and we don’t understand them. But clearly we’ve got to delve much more deeply. And so in the few remaining moments and I do have these prepared remarks because I thought this conference was so important that I should think through what I would have the one opportunity to say with you. So for the few remaining moments, let’s try to delve much more deeply with you and to summarize my perspective about what has happened here at Princeton that has led to this forum in the afterglow of 9/11. Some may still think of this as just a speakers controversy here at Princeton, one which the recent 75th Wilson School anniversary highlighted. But actually it is far more than that. What has happened here at Princeton I believe is in the end the result of the serious and growing financial, political and social pressures educational institutions now face in our country -- pressures which in turn largely determine what kind of people are put in positions of authority and what kinds of decisions they are encouraged if not forced by circumstances to make. What has happened here at Princeton, all the more so since 9/11 it seems to me, is not by accident but rather by design. Beyond the general pressures facing all major universities you have today a Woodrow Wilson School fearful of losing a major part of its endowment and as a result courting power and money more than ever. For those of you who haven’t see the frontpage Wallstreet journal article today, that’s just a fortuitous circumstance that happened. It had nothing to do with this forum. And yes, in my view—

AMS: You did that beforehand.

MB: I thought maybe the students were more powerful than I realized, but. In my view, and with all respect to Dean Slaughter for the positive things she may have done here of which I may not be aware, Woody Wilson and Princeton are now playing big time the big money and big power game, and it all comes at the expense of the rigorously independent intellectual and educational pursuits that should be foremost in mind but are not. Furthermore the person most responsible for choosing speakers, handing out awards, and selecting faculty in the past few years here at Princeton and at the Woodrow Wilson School appears to me to be using the University as a stepping stone to future personal and political power in Washington should that opportunity strike. Others have done so. Ones who come to mind -- Paul Wolfowitz from SAIS and of course Condi Rice from Stanford come first to mind. The major problem though is that when universities, the very places that are supposed to reflect independence of thought and analysis and true expertise -- become so dependent on corporate, government, and lobby-connected largess then one of the major centers of honest education and knowledge in our society becomes severely compromised. That, in short, is what I think has happened here at Princeton and most of all at the Wilson School. This situation cannot be remedied by a single forum or by inviting an occasional “dissident” intellectual like Noam Chomsky to give a talk. If you really want to remedy this situation there are ways you can, but very frankly I am sure the powers that be will not let this really come about. You could for instance establish, and separately fund, a special maybe student-run program specifically designed to bring the very best independent academics, social critics, and expert journalists to Princeton from around the world. And you could and should make a point of bringing such people together at the same time as those who hold power. Then, you will have your Socratic dialogue. Then you will have the worldclass people at a worldclass institution that can truly educate and discuss and debate the real issues of our time. But I stress the word ‘independent' for the notion that the span of major guests should range from senior government officials to top personalities in the other mirror party competing to be senior government officials is really quite ludicrous. Such a notion plays well in corrupted and lobby-infested Washington; but it shouldn’t be allowed at a world-class university especially with regard to major international issues. Because when it is allowed not only are all of you students short-changed at a very special and formative time in your lives, but all of us as a society are dangerously short-changed for our collective future. For we don’t need world-class universities to invite the very same power and money speakers and faculty that the government-and-lobby think-tanks and political departments invite. There’s already far too much of that. We do need universities to invite speakers and to engage faculty based on their demonstrated serious knowledge, expertise, independence, and critical thinking. It used to be much more that way. It doesn’t seem it is that way any longer, certainly not here at Princeton from what I’ve experienced not only at the 75th which I attended but at the series of seminars that has been held in Washington for the past year. I also stress ‘from around the world’, rather than nearly always turning to those sponsored by or accepted by the powers that be in our country. For to really understand what is happening in our world you have to both hear from and engage others who see things very differently and who are outside your own blinders and restraints, people who are not subjected to or controlled by the pressures for political correctness and advancement that now so dominate our own society. Just from my own contacts I can quickly think of people who could have brilliantly engaged and educated all in attendance at the 75th celebration. You may not know some of these personalities, which is just part of the problem, but I assure you they are all very much valued, respected and in great demand throughout the world, even if not here at Princeton: Robert Fisk, Harold Pinter, Mohammed Heikal, Arundhati Roy, Mohammed Mahathir, Amira Hass, Dan Almagor, Haider Abdul Shafi, John Pilger, Boutros Ghali. The list could go on. Indeed, for the 75th anniversary where everyone was force-fed a nonstop diet of self-serving top government officials without even one single major independent academic or journalist or political analyst, any of these persons I’ve just mentioned would have made an immensely needed contribution and in fact changed the proceedings. For there is a reason our current Secretary of State even now says she was so surprised by the Hamas electoral victory a few days ago,


MB: right—not to mention her insistence before Congress that no one had imagined that anyone would use airplanes as they did on 9/11. The reality is quite otherwise in fact. Many independent experts knew, predicted, and explained what was to come. She just didn’t talk to thema nd didn’t call on them. And when it comes to 9/11 no less a flag-waver than Tom Clancy had written a novel that opens with an airplane diving into the Capitol during a State of the Union address. So just what kind of a self-isolating, apologist, and unaware world is Ms. Rice, even now, living in? And there is a reason why Rice’s predecessor, also recently honored here at Princeton even after he perpetrated such a great historic hoax on us all, the third anniversary of which was just two days ago. And by the way this term hoax is not mine: "I participated in a hoax on the American people, the international community and the United Nations Security Council." That’s what Colin Powell’s own Chief of Staff at the State Department finally confessed in public just last Friday in fact. The result of this and many other cruel hoaxes coming from our government is the dangerous polarization, dumbing down, militarization, and in some very troubling ways the neo-fascist developments in our own society. This on top of the disastrous Iraqi invasion/occupation which has caused so much death and suffering, now cost nearly half a trillion dollars, squandered so much American credibility, created so much more hatred around the world, and badly weakened and tarnished our military forces as well once again. All of these issues should be seriously, vigorously and continually discussed, debated, dissected and analyzed at this world-class center of higher education. But instead—whatever the excuses, and frankly, these are not excuses that I find very credible. This reminds me of many forums in Washington where many of us just sit in the audience scratching our heads at the things we’re asked to believe about why things happened in the way we’re told they happened and then we find out when we have more information that’s not quite the way it really was. So instead, we’re been subjected to a parade of Cabinet Secretaries, Ambassadors and Generals, one after the other, all part of the same team, and all offered nearly a free ride. This is not in my view in ‘the nation’s service’ it is in the government’s service. This is surely not ‘in the service of all nations’-- it is a very limiting and nationalistic approach which just further cuts off Princetonians from our world as it really is. And this parade of the powerful, financed by the special interests, simply does not reflect the real world we all must live in and in which our country must now desperately find its way anew before it is too late.

[prolonged applause]

SW: It’s now getting on to 8:30. I would love to join in the debate. Right now. But I’m the moderator.

CW: Jump in, Sean. Jump in. Jump in, brother. I’ll moderate.

SW: We’ll need a traffic cop.


SW: But that’s Princeton you see. I certainly want to allow, give—give Dean Slaughter a chance to—to—to reply and—and say a few words. And then invite my other panelists to speak as well. Try—go on for as long as you want. But I will intervene in order to have enough chance to, you know, give the audience a chance to ask questions.

AMS: and you’ll moderate.

SW: I’ll be very moderate.

AMS: So, Mark let me start with where I agree with you. That seems like a better place to start. I don’t think I—I could not agree more with your final statement that Princeton—and not just Princeton—the United States needs desperately to engage with the reality of the world, the world as it is and the world as it sees the United States. There is no single more important thing we could teach our students than to experience this country as others see us and to be able to actually understand that perspective, not as anti-American or pro-American but simply billions of lives lived in other places with other experiences and if we are serious about providing the best possible education, that is essential. So I completely agree with you there and I also agree think you’re quite right that we do not have enough foreign speakers. I can tell you that I have begged Kofi Annan to come since my first year. Every year at the colloquium we invite Kofi Annan.

MB: He wasn’t on my list.

AMS: Fair enough. Boutros Boutros Ghali I frankly don’t think would attract anything like the crowd and I think Kofi Annan really does—ought to be—

MB: Yeah, but Boutros has something to say.

AMS: We can debate it, but my point is.

MB: We know what Kofi has to say.

AMS: Fine. My point is I’m granting your point so if you want to accept that I’m granting your point rather than arguing. I’m agreeing with you.

MB: Yes, but by inviting the wrong person.

AMS: Fine. I would agree with you that we should’ve invited most of the people on the list. I think—I absolutely agree that it is—we ought to be—have more people from other countries in Princeton. We do what we can. We don’t do enough. So, I would agree on that point. The want-to-be-in-Washington point I’m just gonna dismiss because I wouldn’t be inviting these people if that’s what I was trying to do. It’s the wrong party. I would be inviting—I should have been inviting all the democratic presidential candidates except for the fact that I’m not about to go to Washington. I have two small sons and I am very, very happy here in Princeton. But if I were, it wouldn’t be this crowd, so we’re just gonna dismiss that because—

MB: Is that a Sherman-esque statement? You definitely will not go to Washington?

AMS: No, it’s a statement that I’m certainly not going to Washington in Condi Rice’s administration. It’s impossible.

MB: I agree with you. You’re not going in Condi’s administration.


MB: I think you might be going in some future administrations.

AMS: And if so, why would I invite the people I’m inviting? This is a level of debate that I—I think that’s beneath you, but it’s certainly beneath me. So…


AMS: There is a very important issue here that you raised and that Cornel raised that I think we should engage, which is I think we share our ideal. And I’m a former law professor so Socratic is absolutely. My ideal would be to have any of these people—right, left, center, whatever—come to Princeton and get grilled.

CW: Absolutely.

AMS: Absolutely. You and I—I think it would be, it would be not only extraordinary for—for Princeton, it would be extraordinary for the country and we would both agree that what passes for debate in Washington is not real debate. So, if that’s a view of the best, then the real question is whether second best is worse than nothing. Because if you accept that some of these people will come and take questions. Condi Rice wanted to take questions but for a very short period of time. Others wont’ take questions at all. Now at that point, should we say—which is a legitimate position—to say ‘Sorry. You want to come to Princeton. You’ve got to be challenged. Otherwise, we don’t want you.’


AMS: That’s certainly a reasonable position . So, I think that is a reasonable position and we could take it. Here’s the argument on the other side: a great deal of the reason that we don’t have actual debate, at least in Washington and frankly I think in the country as a whole, is that we are so polarized that we are convinced we already know what the other side is going to say, what they’re like. They have horns, depending on which side that you’re on—the right, the left, the right and the left. You assume you know who they are, what they’re gonna say and there’s no reason to talk to them because you already know. Now, I started teaching at the University of Chicago, which many people thought that way about the left and then I moved to Harvard and many people thought that way about the right. In both cases, my experience was actually being exposed to the person in question, seeing them as a human being, judging not through the media or through the spin but just encountering that person was a valuable thing that you could, as many people said to me about Condi Rice. They walked out absolutely opposed to what she said, but with a different view of who she was in saying it. Many people found they believed that she was sincere even if they thought she was deeply deluded.


AMS: So, there’s the issue. Is it better to hear from these people, to at least be able to evaluate them on your own terms and maybe to have your mind changed. Much better to question and grill. But even just hearing them will give you a sense of who these people are and made them trigger debates that wouldn’t have otherwise have on campus. Is that better as a second-best than just saying what Sean said, ‘we’re gonna cut ourselves off. We’re a school of public and international affairs, but we don’t like this government and we don’t like these international affairs, so we’re just gonna seal ourselves off until such time as we get the kind of leaders we want who will come and engage with us as we want.’ And I think that is a legitimate subject for debate.


CW: I feel like I’m right in the middle of this, you know?


CW: For me, [inaudible] Plato’s Apology. Socrates says parasia is a cause of unpopularity. Bold speech. Frank speech. Candid speech. Free speech that goes against the grain and inside unarticulated assumptions and tacit presuppositions. So it is suspicious of perspectives across the board, you see. That’s Socratic in the deep sense. That’s why you don’t wanna think about right and left. Those categories are just so misleading. Let’s leave that to Rush and O’Reilly and so forth and so on. Of course, there are those of us who are unabashedly leftist in the sense that we are deeply suspicious of elites and hierarchies who don’t want to be answerable to the demos, who don’t want to be accountable to ordinary people, who don’t want to be responsible to the least of [inaudible]. I’m evoking the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew. That’s part of my tradition – Hebrew scripture and the New Testament. But the Socratic mission of a university is not identical with my own project. I’m just one voice in that larger university that has a commitment to a Socratic end and aim. To ensure that we have a wholesale scrutiny and discussion. That’s why I’m a bit – I understand, I think it’s a very plausible and reasonable position to say “it’s better to hear them and scrutinize them as opposed to not hearing them at all,” I understand that. But I think we need to be hardcore about scrutiny, you see. This is the kind of place where we have dialogue and debate and contestation. If you want to try out you propaganda? You want your spin lines? Go to talk radio.


CW: Go to talk radio. Here we have debate. One of the few spaces left in such a market-driven, celebrity-obsessed culture where so much of the wealth is at the top and ordinary folk trying to gain some access to a perspective that makes sense, that speaks to their situation. Universities and colleges have to be one of the spaces left where that kind of discussion takes place. The kind of thing we heard from brother Mark. It was bold speech. It was frank speech. We appreciated that.


CW: And the response from sister Anne-Marie. It was honest, heartfelt. And we just beginning to take off on this dialogue this evening.

MB: Questions. Why don’t we get to it.

SW: Ok, Good. There are microphones at either end. Don’t all go over there at once. Respect your elders. We’re slower than you guys. Ok? There are microphones at either end.

CW: We got some over here too.

SW: I mean, don’t—don’t be shy on that end. Ok? Where shall we go? We usually go back and forth. No?

Audience member: Why [inaudible] starting on the right?


SW: not from where I’m standing you’re not. From where I’m standing, you’re far left. See how everything’s relative? Why don’t we start here and then go back and forth.

Question: Thank you all. This is for Dean Slaughter basically. You began with some facts, so if I could just preface this with some of—the way I perceive the facts and, you know, in the Socratic spirit, help you understand why this might seem differently to some people. So, one fact I think you overlooked is that, taking for example, the 75th anniversary celebration, not a single keynote speaker was unaffiliated with government or military. Not one. There was not a single independent journalist. There was not a single political commentator. In a word, there was no-one who might represent the point of view that exists outside of both democratic and republican military and government officials. That happens to include, incidentally, probably 80% of the world, not to mention a significant part of this country. The General Petraeus talk, for instance. Now assuming - giving you the benefit of the doubt that you sincerely believe, in your own words, that you believe these individuals should be “absolutely grilled” - take say, General Petraeus. Here’s someone who participated actively, as commander of the 101st airborne in Iraq, in the demolition of Fallujah - reducing it to rubble, driving out 300,000 people from their homes (only about 9,000 of them came back in the end - to rubble), occupying Fallujah General Hospital in direct contradiction to the Geneva Conventions, using illegal weapons according to an American-appointed Iraqi health official - an American-appointed Iraqi health official - and who is responsible, in large part, for the deaths of several thousand civilians in Fallujah. Now, if we have a Dean who is committed to “absolutely grilling” someone like that, what would you expect to get? Well, the answer to that I’ll leave to the audience, but what we did get is someone who provided introductory remarks by making a joke about how amused you were that he responded to an email from you in the middle of the battle of Fallujah. It’s on webcast. Everyone can see it. Now, when I hear something like that, I’m inclined not to believe you that you are committed to absolutely, you know, “grilling” these people. My question…. I’m sorry for taking so long. I would like—I would feel much at ease if you, just following up on the line that Mr. Bruzonsky brought up, without questioning anyone’s motivations, I would feel much more comfortable if I got from you tonight in front of everybody, a promise that you are not—that you do not have ambitions in Washington in the next ten or so years.


Question: As ridiculous as it might be, I would feel much more comfortable.

SW: Can I—Can I—Can I interrupt. As moderator I don’t think that’s a fair question and I wouldn’t ask you to answer it.


AMS: Thank you. This is not about me, but I do think your point about the Fallujah one is a very serious one because quite frankly I was very disturbed and deeply disturbed about what I see as the failure to actually prosecute fully Abu Ghraib and the very fact that we were there. That’s the question I asked. It is a question I feel very strongly about. It is obviously not the only question one could’ve asked him. And absolutely, one could’ve asked him about the battle of Fallujah. And from that point of view, yes I was introducing him. Part of your job is to introduce people and to try to make things a little light, if possible. And I was amazed that he answered at 4:30 in the battle of Fallujah, but I think listening to you and thinking about that, that was—it was a missed opportunity but, more importantly, it was making light of something that is not to be made light of. I quite agree with that.

Question: Yes, Mr. Bruzonsky I was wondering do you have any further—any other cases and points whatsoever to prove that there is open politicization or lobbying or selling out within the administration of this university and the academic community here. Because I may not have been here long enough, I’m only a freshman, but in the past several months—this is getting away from the 75th anniversary—I’ve heard Seymour Hersh speak here, asked him a question personally after his lecture, he opened up for plenty of questions and General William T. Olden former NSA director, if you want somebody who’s against the policies that this country’s pursuing, my god he said we should practically arm Iran. And the professor who introduced him before his lecture and took him out to dinner that very night was a professor who Dean Slaughter, I believe, called upon to ask the final question to Condoleeza Rice. Again, maybe I’m missing it, the carpet is over my eyes but I’m not detecting again what’s the most vital thing this flyer says we’re here to discuss, whether there’s politicization inside of this university or whether they’re just going for the second best. As follow up to that, would you accept what Dean Slaughter is saying that we should accept maybe whatever we can get from these people. If they want to polemicize just let them arrive here.


MB: The second question—again you might not like the answers I give but then again I’ll be leaving here tomorrow


MB: No, I don’t accept what Dean Slaughter said. She sets up her own strawmen and then she blows them over, but they weren’t the points that I made. The issue isn’t second best. What we got was fourth or fifth best. And we could have had something far, far better. And we should’ve had something far, far better. It wasn’t just a missed opportunity. It was a very, I believe, carefully structured event. I believe what I told you already in my remarks. It’s interesting that the Dean, for some reason, doesn’t want to answer a simple question about whether or not she’s using this university as a stepping stone as some of us believe. That’s her prerogative not to answer it. The politicization of the university—you ask for proof. Proof is very hard to come by. That’s why we have courts. We have discovery processes. There’s not much transparency at this university. We don’t know what the speaker fees are. We don’t know a great deal about what’s going on here, but something has come to my attention which I find highly questionable and so I’ll answer your question with what’s come to my attention. You have, at this university now, at the Wilson school, a former ambassador who will be in residence for 5 years to discuss middle east events and he’s already beginning to arrange middle east events, literally in the next few weeks. I don’t know how much money was given to the university. The Dean would know that. I do know who gave the large sum of money. In fact, the ambassador Kurtzer’s professorship is named after the person. The person is extremely wealthy and has a very long history in pro-Israeli, anti-Arab causes. A great deal of money apparently has been given to the university. Ambassador Kurtzer who himself is one of the—when I went to Washington I was a kid. I represented the world Jewish congress. I’ve been inside this loop, so I know what’s going on. Dean Kurtzer is essentially one of the people brought in during the Clinton administration,. They were given appointments dealing with the middle east peace process. It was largely a payoff by Clinton for those who had helped him during his campaign. I could give you story after story about this that might convince you there’s something to this. Let’s just say the president of the Israeli lobby was forced to resign during Clinton’s first campaign after his was overheard bragging that he had 12 operatives in the little rock headquarters of bill Clinton and when Clinton became president he was gonna be their man. Sure enough, he quickly appointed many of the people who were working for the near east institute which had been set up by APAC, the official Israeli lobby. And I could go on and on about this, but nevertheless the point that you’re asking. It’s not just does Sey Hersh come and speak here for a few minutes one day. Or does Noam Chomsky come, as I said. you will get at a university like this a sprinkle of this and a sprinkle of that. What you won’t get is the consistency that’s needed. What you won’t get is the right kind of programming. What you won’t get is the right kind of major events and keynote speakers. And in the case of middle east you’re now going to be subjected to Dean Kurtzer’s way of arranging things and he’s already put two programs on the agenda. The first person that he’s helped invite is coming I think in a couple of weeks, Dennis Ross. Dennis Ross was also an ambassador. First he worked for the Israeli Jewish lobby. Then he worked for the government. Then, within weeks of working for the government, he went right back to working for the Israeli lobby where he’s now one of the central figures in Washington. Then Dean Kurtzer’s coming to Washington and he’s arranged an affair about what’s coming next in the middle east and about the Hamas electoral victory and who’s on the podium? The ambassador of Israel, his friend, the ambassador of Jordon, his friend, and the discredited ambassador of the Palestinians, but not the Palestinians who have been elected by their people. But rather the VIP Palestinians whom the Americans and Israelis have been paying for all these years. Even if they were not his friends and even if the forum were broader than it is, why in the world do we need Princeton university to come to Washington to arrange to hear the same old tired speakers all of whom are friends of each other and all of whom have nothing new to say and all of whom have led us into this mess. That’s not what we need Princeton for. That’s happening in Washington every day from the government sponsored think-tanks and from the lobbying think-tanks. We need a university to offer us something serious, independent, new and real. And that’s not what we’re getting from Princeton.


SW: We have 45 minutes and a lot of people who want to ask questions and I just ask everyone please, starting now, to keep your questions pointed. To ask only the question. We can talk about this—we’re going to be talking about all of this for a long time to come. [but] In the interest of democracy to give everybody a chance, I’m gonna ask both the questioners and the speakers to keep their remarks succinct.

Question: Thank you and thank you to the speakers. I have a question for Dean Slaughter. I’m interested in your opinion. I feel like not so much the circumstances of who is to blame, but the opinion was most important to me and I feel the answer, if you’ll allow me to be a little bit rejectionist, of why you personally support Condoleeza Rice was ‘well, Princeton thinks it’s great that blacks can make it too’. Or ‘Princeton thinks it’s great that women can make it too’.

AMS: We do.

Question: But that’s not the issue and that’s not the point. I would—my question is to what degree is that not absolutely condescending when the thing that’s at issue, the thing that’s absolutely at the heart of the issue of saying ‘we support representative administrative X’ is what they’re doing within the government, is what their policies are, is what—what kind of action they’re taking. There would not be a point to which Princeton would publish on their webpage ‘we support bill Clinton because he got great grades at Harvard.’ That doesn’t happen for white men. This is an attitude towards women. Where we can be—we can be in support of her—in support of her because she’s [needed], or in support of her because she dresses great, but I really think that condescends, to a large degree to what the issue is and what everyone reading a statement of support is going to think, ‘This is about issues. This is about opinions. This is about attitudes.’ And I didn’t get the feeling that I understood what your—besides, what I felt like, more than a sarcastic remark out of the side of the mouth about policy. That policy would be central. That policy would be the thing that in fact Princeton would be asked to make support or non-support of.

AMS: Let me see if I can do this succinctly. I took, as my premise, that we all accept that inviting someone does not mean endorsing their policy. That has to be true in a university. Otherwise we could not have freedom of inquiry, freedom of debate. We must be able to invite anyone we like without thereby being assumed to endorse that person’s policy. So, whether we invite Condoleeza Rice or whether we invite Madeleine Albright on the other side or whether we invite sharp critics of the administration like Richard Clarke who stood up and denounced everything this administration has done on 9-11, does not have—is not a statement about whether we endorse their policies. I’m starting with that. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t debate those policies and we shouldn’t debate those policies in every place we can, preferably with her. I would’ve been delighted if somebody had asked a sharp question about Iraq. No one did and I was calling as best as I could. The question is what did I mean when I said she exemplifies our highest values. I clearly didn’t mean, we endorse her policies. So what did I mean? And what I said was ‘we are a university and particularly we are a school that believes that you actually have an obligation to put whatever skills or talents you have to work in the service of the nation and of the world and from that point of view, she has done that and she has done that and on the way—along the way, she’s traveled a particularly long road which I find simply indicates her determination to do this. I think, if more of us believed that we ought to be in government whether it’s running for office or being in office , then government might reflect who we are more.


Question: I think that unfortunately the personal attacks you were making on Dean Slaughter sort of covered a more important point. I mean personally I wouldn’t mind if Dean Slaughter ended up in Washington. I’ve read her blog. I think that would be kind of nice. But think you missed a major problem with—when she mentioned Kofi Annan. The explanation she gave was that Kofi Annan will fill a room. The people that you mentioned will not. and I study the middle east and I didn’t recognize some of the names on your list and that is a problem to me. And I think that a larger problem when just us power-brokering. I mean of course we’re power-brokering. We’re partly an economic institution, but we prestige-broker, right? I mean, we bring in speakers that all of us are gonna know, that we’re all gonna have heard of. It’s the same problem that the media has, you know? It’s not just that the media is corrupt. It’s that they want to, you know, they want their audience to recognize what they’re talking about and so I guess my question is what we think that the university can do to do a better job of bringing students to understand—to come to lectures of people that they don’t recognize and understand that those are important, not just bring in people that we’ll all get really excited about and be like ‘Yay, Princeton’s so prestigious because, you know, Kofi Annan will come and speak here’.

MB: In a sense, you’ve made the point I was trying to make. Apparently I didn’t make it too well. If you’re studying the middle east in the united states in 2006 and you don’t know who the majority of the people on the list I gave you are, your university is mis-serving you badly, mis-serving our country horribly—


MB: [inaudible]

AMS: I’m not gonna debate the question about whether one should get very recognizable names for very big events. I think for a big event you absolutely want someone of prominence, whether they will fill a name. But I absolutely think we bring lots of people here that people don’t—would not recognize—

SW: Never heard of [laughing]

AMS: Never heard. I mean if I just went through the list.


AMS: I won’t in the interest of time, but I have a three page list of all the people who have come here this fall and half of them you would have never have heard of and the other half you might vaguely have heard of. But they of course—they include the current ambassador from Iran, right? And a foreign minister from Pakistan who came—they may not attract the same kinds of crowds but they attract a crowd, a small crowd, who’s very committed and very interested. Those events are in the bowls downstairs. The bigger name people are in the big bowls and the biggest name people come when we have alumni here as well as—as well as our students of the community. But I take the force of the point.

CW: I think it’s very important not to downplay the role of quality and challenge but every once in a while you’re gonna get—you’re gonna find people who are of high quality and a major challenge and you do know them.


CW: [inaudible] many times when you don’t know them at all, but they’re of high quality and a challenge to the students, to unsettle the students. You don’t know them at all. They need to be here. I mean that’s one of the reasons why I am highly suspicious of public bureaucrats and government bureaucrats because it’s not a cultural Socratic engagement—

AMS: Can I just—

CW: They’re smart. They’re brilliant. They’re rarely Socratic because they’re in a cultural conformity and I’m into mal-adjustment and non-conformity. That’s Socratic.

AMS: I agree.

CW: That’s one of the reasons why I’m suspicious. I’m not against them. They can prove themselves.


CW: Some camels get through the eye of needles.

AMS: We’ve spent—We’ve spent two decades—three decades in this country running against government and now I would suggest to you that’s a large part of why we’re in the fix we’re in. Even what you said ‘ah, government bureaucrats, right? Who wants to be in government?

CW: No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying in high quality dialogue at Princeton. I highly encourage people to go into government.

AMS: But they’re not bureaucrats.

CW: What do you mean they’re not bureaucrats?

AMS: In other words, to-to-to-to say we ought to have high quality people, not government bureaucrats is exactly—it is a small instance of exactly the point. Republicans first, but democrats too running against the government, so if the result is nobody wants to fund the government, nobody wants the government to do anything.

CW: No, no, no, no.

AMS: Absolutely.

CW: No, there’s a longer issue, but you can’t—

AMS: No, but it’s a serious one.

CW: Socratic intellectuals are not major causes of low quality among government bureaucrats.

AMS: I didn’t say that.

CW: There’s a larger, more complex story we can tell. But I’m not—I don’t think is running against government, it’s just when we want high dialogue to challenge our students, if you look to government bureaucrats, it’s going to be difficult. That’s all I’m saying.


CW: I’m not saying I’m writing them off and so forth. I’m not running against government.

MB: How diplomatic.

CW: That is true across ideologies. It’s true of every regime. That’s what intellectuals do. They’re suspicious of these folk who tell lies and don’t want to expose the truth.

AMS: That’s what I mean.

CW: But bureaucrats have been doing that since the beginning of time.


CW: that doesn’t mean all of them are unworthy. But they know what they’re involved in.


CW: I mean, let’s me honest about this.

SW: But I just worry about all those professors who tell lies too, but--

CW: Absolutely.

SW: That’s another story.

CW: That’s right, my brother.

SW: I’m suspicious of my colleagues, but I think everybody is—nobody is above suspicion. Ever.

CW: Absolutely, absolutely.

SW: Cause we’re all human beings and that’s just the way we are. But I think—well, I’m gonna shut up.


SW: I just couldn’t resist that part….

Question: Well, I guess the last 5 minutes you’ve been basically discussing possible answers to what I was going to ask, but I’m gonna ask it anyway. Starting off with Mr. Bruzonsky distinction between being a servant to government and being a servant to the nation—there’s a difference there. It’s a very provocative statement that I’m sure—let me—not everybody here, but lots of people here will agree with me—with that statement that was extremely provocative, but actually to some of us it’s common sense. I would say, for example, that the only real public servant that this country has had in the last two or three decades is Edward Said. So, with that concept of what it means to be a public servant, the way your string of speakers in the Woodrow Wilson celebration, in prior years as well—the way it’s been constructed, the process of selection, the criteria and the way they’ve been treated—you say wanted more discussion, and that you would have stringent questions. But the fact is that it never happened. It wasn’t there and what we see is simply a string of speakers who came to give propaganda of their policies. But given my provocative statement, I don’t see any of them as public servants. The definition of the concept of public servant is not applicable to them. They’re definitely government servants, which is a different thing. So then this makes you look—because you picked them and everything—it makes you look like you’re being servant to the government servants which is a completely different route from being a servant to the nation, which should be the long-term topic of this forum.

AMS: I have a suggestion. You talk to the Robertsons and I’ll stand back.


AMS: No, I think there are many forms of public service. There are public servants in non-government organizations and we have lots of those. Journalists, critics of various kinds, activists and there are indeed public servants in the private sector who are working hard to address public problems if we think what they’re doing is serving the public good. So, public servant is a much wider category than government servant. I personally believe that government service is a distinct and I think most important form of public service. By no means the only form but I do think, as I’ve said repeatedly and as I think after Katrina it’s hard to deny, you can have all the dedicated public service you want in the non-profit sector and indeed in the private sector but without a strong effective committed government that represents the people fairly, it doesn’t matter. So I feel particularly strongly about government service and I did so long before that ever became an issue on the pages of the Wallstreet journal. Nevertheless, we recognize a much broader range of public service and we invite people from that spectrum to the school. I agree they were not there on the 75th but I’ve tried to explain why, in part we didn’t have the range of speakers we wanted and I’ve also said I think for a school of public and international affairs on its 75th anniversary, named after Woodrow Wilson having a Secretary of state and we originally thought a senator and another cabinet member was entirely appropriate. I just wish they had to—they’d engaged much more forcefully with the audience.

MB: If I could just—just a brief comment: I would be much more inclined to accept what I’m hearing from Dean Slaughter tonight if I didn’t live in Washington, if I hadn’t attended many seminars and forums that take place in Washington. Almost every one—in fact, every one that I can think of reflect the same pattern that took place here on the 75th and I bet, if time permitted, and we looked at the speakers lists and we looked at how it was handled, we’d hear about a lot more excuses about how it just wasn’t possible to get this speaker or this speaker and things changed and I’m so sorry. I’m sorry, the pattern is very clear. And if time permits we could actually just go through the record and look at what the school has done in the past—say since 9-11—and I think you would find that what happened on the 75th was no aberration. It was very much part of a pattern.

AMS: I’d be happy to take the challenge. Any day. Go through one by one.

MB: I hope I can come back and accept that challenge. And I hope this time the Woodrow Wilson school will actually put it on their calendar and will actually contribute to it, because neither was done in this forum.

SW: Um, that’s not true is it?

AMS: Well, according to the organizers we contributed.

MB: Not according to the organizers with whom I had lunch today. It was one roadblock after another including the fact that they wanted to use the picture that the alumni magazine had already used and that the Woodrow Wilson school had already put in many places of our Dean with Condi Rice and they were refused permission to even use the picture.

SW: Um, can we move on? It’s getting late.

Question: Dr. West, do you think that extreme intellectual liberalism can turn the Socratic system of dialogue into an essentially anti-establishment monologue just based against the establishment and how do you think that this sort of intellectual liberalism should balance an institution like Princeton with various internal bureaucracy but also what you call the rule of truth?

CW: I appreciate the question. And very quickly, but I won’t put it in a nutshell. Anything you can put in a nutshell belongs in one.


CW: I’m not talking about Socratic. I’m talking about a variety of different perspectives across the board. So, extreme liberalism, extreme conservatism, extreme Leftism, extreme Judaism, extreme Christianity and so forth, a set of voices alongside a whole host of voices so that we all are exposed to a variety of perspectives that unsettle us. Do I want Princeton to become a bastion of anti-establishmentarian dialogue? Absolutely not. Do I spend much of my life engaged in anti-establishmentarian projects outside of Princeton? Absolutely.


CW: Very different. As a citizen of this community, I acknowledge the rich tradition that it represents. As a citizen I also acknowledge radical traditions that are preoccupied with wealth, privilege, male supremacy, white supremacy and so forth. That’s why I started invoking this brother’s text. Not because he’s my [?partner? opponent?], but also because it’s those kinds of movements that makes these kinds of cases more Socratic. See what I mean? I mean, Edward Said is not by himself. He’s part of a movement of a struggle for self-determination of an oppressed people, but he expresses that vision in the united states and he is simply one voice to be scrutinized among others and needs to be criticized by Israeli intellectuals of the right, of the center, of the left and so forth and so on. That’s the conversation in the broad context at Princeton. You see what I mean? So You have different identities in this regard.

SW: James Madison’s also in my book. And He went to Princeton too. And the dialectic, if we can use that word.

CW: Yeah, you can still use it.

SW: Thank you. I thought that you thought so—of oppression and democracy, high, low, all of that, it’s all together and left and right are never pure. They’re always in contact with one another. That’s my little editorial.

Question: I indeed agree that the center of the debate here is the statement that Condoleeza Rice exemplifies—I forget the exact words—the Woodrow Wilson and, as a graduate of the Woodrow Wilson school, I was anxious to hear the explanation of why that’s true. And the explanation made me sad. The explanation is that she’s in public service, that she had a quest for power, she followed it and she got into the government. Now that—by that definition Tom Delay exemplifies the Woodrow Wilson school, Haulderman, Erhlichman, Mcnamara and 100 officials that I knew, worked with who are in jail.


Question (cont'd): I have always felt that what exemplifies the Woodrow Wilson school—I hope felt this—is excellence and honesty and public service of a quality, not power and abuse of public service.


AMS: I agree with that and I find it a powerful statement and if—there are certainly people who have served in government that I would—well there are some people I would not invite and there are certainly other people whom I would not praise in the same way. So, clearly you’re right that simply serving in government itself is not exemplary of the values that we serve and to the extent that I thought it was as clear as you think it is and that many people think it is that Secretary Rice in your view is someone who has lied and betrayed those values, then I think that’s a much closer question. The difficulty here is precisely separating out personal political views, institutional views and policy questions. We could have a long debate. I think personally that much of what Secretary Rice has done since being in office as Secretary of state has been actually trying very hard to turn the administration in what I think is a better although still far from in my view—my personal view—perfect direction. So there is an area there where my judgment and I think more generally the judgment in society—in other words there’s not been anything proved in court like the Watergate officials you are talking about—does shape—does enter in here and there I think I can understand holding the views you do, you read what I said very differently. What I can tell you is that I think we share those values. I think—I do not think Secretary Rice is perfect. I don’t think—I think the same could be said of many government officials in the Clinton administration. But I do think, as I said, that she is sincere in doing what she thinks is right that she has tried in many ways I think to fight a fight that I think needed to be fought in Washington and that above all I don’t think it’s just the lust for power. I think quite honestly she is someone who was in the academy, had a wonderful job in the academy, went to Washington, went back, went back to Washington again to shape government because she believed she could make a difference. And part of what I’ve been arguing all evening is that you can rail at government but if you really want government to reflect your policy views it’s not just about voting for your candidate. It’s about actually being there. When Richard Clarke was here he ripped apart the bush administration and at the end of it I said ‘you have been in government for over 25 years. You’ve just torn apart this administration. Would you tell this audience to join this administration at this moment?’ and he said ‘absolutely. I went to Washington in 1973 when I was completely opposed to everything the government was doing in Vietnam and I wanted to be part of what I could do within the government to make a difference.’ And in that sense, I understand your point of view but I think Condi Rice is closer to that ideal than perhaps you do.

SW: Let me just say we have about 15 people and about 15 minutes. So, that gives you 30 seconds each. Really, really, really—question, answer, bingo.

Question: Woodrow Wilson wrote about Princeton in the nation’s service. He also wrote about the American revolution as not a repudiation of the British way, but as a protection of it, a preservation of it. now today, a hundred years later the Americans and the British ride of white horses into the middle east against terror but isn’t the terror in the middle east our own doing? The Socratic method is a search for the truth. Well, what is the truth? We don’t have to look far. Americans per capita use 3 times the amount of energy as any Western industrialized nation and 10 times as much energy as a third world country. The other fact is that the middle east is rich oil.

SW: Sir, with all due respect can we get to the question?

Question (cont'd): Isn’t this really a question of British colonialism in the middle east a dividing of the middle east for resources.

AMS: Are you asking me?

Question (cont'd): Anybody, I mean is—the question is, is the debate—the so-=called debate—that goes on in politics—not really just a battle for the hearts and minds and not really a Socratic debate—and speakers that are prominent and come to Princeton and talk, aren’t they really battling for the hearts and minds on just a different level? Is that a Socratic debate? Isn’t the truth well known?

MB: I’ll answer quickly by saying what’s going on in the universities today, what goes on in the media, what goes on in the talk shows, even talk radio is very much part of what of the—it’s propaganda, it’s setting the stage, it’s getting the public to back you, it’s getting the congress to back you. That’s why we have lobbies. It’s not just the defense industry and drug industry. There are foreign policy lobbies that spend a lot of money and a lot of time to get people to think about things in certain ways. So all of this is part of how a society, in our case an imperial society is able to pursue those policies. And if you’ll notice, we’ve just been asked to give huge war funds to the pentagon and funds are being taken away from just about everything else in our society.

CW: There’s no doubt that the middle east would have a different history if they had an abundance of artichokes rather than oil.


AMS: They’d be better off.

CW: [inaudible] We’re talking about power. We’re talking about resources. We’re talking about corporations. We’re talking about profits and we’re talking about sustaining ecologically dangerous ways of life that most of us are complicitous with. Yes.

SW: Sir.

Question: I must disagree with the idea that somehow the focus here should be Dean Slaughter’s comment about Secretary Rice or even Princeton’s supposed favoring of administration figures or establishment figures or however you want to term it. I think the more important question here is something that was brought up in an earlier question about the students at institutions like this and across the country and our attitudes and the way we interact with figures of authority. Professor West, you brought up the concept of celebrity worship. I would say that this forum, as excellent as it’s been, is in fact a form of celebrity worship. And I think—

CW: You’re not worshipping us though, are you?


Question (cont'd): No, but I mean there wouldn’t be this many people in the room if you weren’t—

CW: Oh the numbers. But that’s not worship. That’s showing’ up.

Question (cont'd): Well, but the problem is that despite what you can say about, you know, Socratic dialogue that does not occur among people of my age and does not occur outside of fora like this which are dominated by people like yourself and Dean Slaughter. And that’s a wonderful thing. It’s great to hear these statements from people like yourselves but my question is how can you really inculcate the sort of desire for critique and desire for spontaneous critique moreover not simply a reaction to already established figures in younger people?


CW: [inaudible] I find though, my dear brother, that in my travels across the country, there’s a number of different organizations of young people some of whom don’t know who I am but are involved in high quality Socratic reflections on their situation. [inaudible]...Black colleges, I was just there this past weekend. Think tanks all around the country. The challenges in Seattle. A few years ago, the young people—they didn’t have celebrities leading that march against corporate globalization. Those young people were vanguard activists, good citizens in that regard. So I don’t want to—when I hear ‘we young folk have no Socratic energy’. see, no I don’t believe that’s true. The students who brought us together involved in Socratic activity. do we have enough? Absolutely not. Now, given the fact that we live in a market-driven celebrity obsessed culture, the question becomes are there gonna be enough so-called celebrities? Remember Socrates was [really?] on stage by Aristophanes, right? He was already a celebrity in that sense, well-known publicly. He used his celebrity for critical ends and aims. That’s the choice that every citizen has, every person has. You can revel in it or you can give. And it’s a challenge in that regard. So the question is if you can bring a number of people in, fine. But then when you bring them in, you demystify all kinds of talk about worship. You got some names that are well-known: Marie and Mark well known too. You [don’t won’t/won’t] forget about this brother. But we’re here for the dialogue. We’re not here for the worship, uncritical acceptance, allegiance, blindness and so forth. No, this is for dialogue. If we can bring more in, fine, but we’re just showing up. And once you get here, dialogue begins.

Question: A first-year graduate at the Woodrow Wilson school I was very troubled to read the Wall Street Journal article this morning not, first of all, because I fear for the future of my fellowship—


Question (cont'd): ….but secondly because I’m very troubled by the direction that the school appears to be going in. I can to the school with a background in local government and international development and I have found precious few opportunities for me here in terms of coursework. And I know that this is a feeling that’s shared by a lot of fellow students who have the same background and you said you invite people like me to come the school, but we’re not being fed. And I want to know if this is, you know, this is the direction that the school is going in because it seems to me that it’s becoming more of a school of foreign service or a school of security studies. The course offerings for this past semester really, to me, resembled something like the bush budget where there was quite a few in the security area and not enough in what—in my mind, public service is a lot more than that and I just—I wonder what your response is to that.

AMS: Well, I’m glad to hear it. We’ve hired, I think, 15 people since I’ve gotten here. Of those, I would say 6 to 7 have been in international relations and the rest have been across the board and this year we voted in a new certificate in urban policy, in urban planning and I created the policy research institute for the region which is entirely devoted to regional issues and local government. I’m very sorry to hear about the specific courses but my definition of government and the Woodrow Wilson school’s interpretation of government is local government, state government, federal government and international government. So this is not a statement about needing to go to Washington or needing to go to the state department. We have a particular emphasis, at the graduate level, on federal government careers and foreign affairs but that covers pretty much the entire federal government these days and that’s only—that’s a particular emphasis. I remain as committed to training people for all levels of government and that also assumes that they’re not gonna spend their whole careers there. They’re gonna spend time in NGOs. Some may go into the private sector. So, to the extent there is a problem, it is a temporary problem and one we want to rectify.

Question: So, I would like to ask each of the four panelists a simple yes or no question. The question is have they read from cover to cover the book called ‘Empower the People’?

AMS: No.

CW: [shakes head]

MB: So easy: no.

CW: Are we missing out on something?


Question (cont'd): Including the moderator.

SW: No, I must concur with my colleagues.

Question (cont'd): In this book by Tony Brown, 1998, he talks about the illuminati. I would like to ask [inaudible]. Why do I not hear anything about this group and if they know anything could they please comment on it in light of the comments of getting to the truth.

[laughter] Thank you.

MB: I’m afraid that’s really a subject for another conference and probably not at Princeton.

SW: We talk about illuminati in courses and it’s actually interesting but I don’t—I think it’s not as germane to this panel as some of the other questions. So I think we should move on.

Question (cont'd): And are the—

SW: Sir, I think you’ve asked your question. Can we move on please? Thank you.

Question: Sorry I’ll try to be quick. My question is directed to Mr. Bruzonsky. I hope I didn’t butcher your name. I admire a lot of what you’re—you’ve been trying to do, taking a very different position from the other two speakers however you’ve made some very serious accusations about Dean Slaughter and the administration being players in a political and financial power game and I don’t think you’ve backed up those claims with evidence. There’s a fantastic book by Todd Gitlin called ‘the twilight of common dreams’. He talks a lot about the far left and how it’s ripped apart the liberal consensus with this kind of paranoia and fear that—fear that more moderate people on the left are, you know, part of this power game. And I think you’re kind of playing into exactly what he’s describing. I also think that it’s inappropriate to try to ask Dean Slaughter to renounce any desire to go to Washington. I think she’d be a fantastic politician but then again I like Joe Biden, so…


Question (cont'd): ….so I was hoping you could explain—

MB: I think Dean Slaughter would do very well in Washington., I just don’t think she should use Princeton as her climbing ground and deny the kind of educational experiences that are needed here in the process.

AMS: What makes you think she’s using it as a stepping stone?

MB: I also agree with you. I have not provided you the facts that you need. Time doesn’t permit that today but I’d be very glad take up Dean Slaughter’s offer. Let’s in fact do a content analysis of all the forums, all the foreign policy forums that the Woodrow Wilson school has sponsored since—let’s just take 2001 as our starting point. But that can’t be done solely by the Dean of the Woodrow Wilson school. That’s going to have to be done by a bunch of independent analysts who are gonna have to look at this is in a serious, scholarly, academic, objective way. It’s going to have to be properly funded. It’s going to have to be properly set up. The Dean said she accepts the challenge. Let’s see what she does about it.


SW: We’ve got three minutes. Go.

Question: May I suggest the people on the podium make their answers shorter.

SW: Excellent point. Excellent point. Excellent point.

Question (cont'd): Before the war in Iraq, and I say Iraq because I’m verbally imperfect and politically incorrect, but anyway I think we used to say Iraq. In 2002, the peace movement in this town had a protest in the streets and we had about 30 people there and then two months ago we had another protest. In 2002, 20% of the population of this country was against the war and 80 were in favor of the war. Now, the statistics are exactly reversed and only 30 people showed up again. And all we were armed with was a bunch of candles. Now, we have some very well-written people up on the podium and maybe for people like me that are verbally imperfect we could move this dialogue from this nice warm room where you’re falling asleep [outside] onto that cold street with some placards. And if you have some point of views, which I think are great, let’s get them out in the street and out of this room. And we can see the impact that Cindy Sheehan has had as far as the peace movement and there’s a lot of other things right here that we’ve discussed. One of them I’d like to see is the trillion dollar accounting error that the pentagon has. But that’s my personal—I don’t want to—


CW: I remember in September, my brother—let me just look at you while I’m talking. Could you kindly turn around a little bit? Cause I like to—Socratic dialogue has a visual dimension to it.


Question (cont'd): Say what? I don’t hear either.

CW: I say, Socratic dialogue has a visual dimension. I like to look at your eyes and you look at my eyes cause eyes are the windows of the soul. Not think about this, in September, over 400 of us were arrested in front of the white house, including Cindy Sheehan. Primarily Jews, Muslims, Christians. It was a very deeply religious delegation. No coverage, other than sister Cindy Sheehan. That’s taking it to the streets. We were in jail for 13 hours. Not a long time, got a lot of reading done and dialogue, but still. That’s action. See what I mean? Now that ought to serve as wind in one’s back to other fellow citizens who are not simply changing their minds but also accenting the rights and liberties that are the result of unbelievable sacrifice and service on behalf of foremothers and forefathers who were citizens to keep the fragile democratic experiment alive. So when I hear what you’re saying ‘get into the streets’. Yes! It’s already taking place. Sometimes we know about it. Sometimes we don’t. but there are a number of fellow citizens of all colors and genders and sexual orientation who have already done precisely what you’re saying in the name of public interest and common good.

Question (cont'd): Well—and I know and we had one in New York in 2003 and they said 100,000 people showed up. Well, I’m telling you there were a million and a half there. The streets were crowded from downtown up into the 70s. and I wouldn’t go along because I have a breathing problem so I went as far as the 60s, but we had at least a million people there and the news wouldn’t [?put out anything]. so I know what we’re up against, brother. I hear you.

CW: [but there’s also been a shift.]

Question (cont'd): But we should be out in the streets in the cold with nice written placards of gentleman like yourself who write very well, not like myself. You’d never see my writing. And more of it. As much as possible. And Princeton seems to be a kinder, gentler town so we can get away with more maybe.

SW: There’s a flashing from Fox News that there are 14 people in this room.

[laughter, applause]

SW: We have time for 2 more questions I’m afraid, so….

Question: Mine’s a two-part question. The first part—

SW: Oh, no. One-part question, please.

Question (cont'd): Alright, then just for Dr. Bruzonsky. Maybe I’m too much of a realist, but is it too much to assume that in order to act—enact in true intellectual policies that we have to engage a very—a government that might not be as pure as we would like it in terms of corruption and special interests. It seems like that in order—from your stance, that in order to truly make a difference or remain true to our ideals we have to abandon a government that is very much realist and at times bogged down by issues of corruption.

MB: Well, that’s your definition of the government. That’s not my definition of the government. I went to Washington after Princeton and after NYU Law School. I’ve never seen a government less competent, more duplicitous, more creating its own environment through more deception and more propaganda. I’ve never seen anything like this in Washington and that seems to be the general consensus, frankly, among a lot of people whether you hear it or not on Fox News.


Question: This evening we’ve talked a lot about rigorous and [inaudible] debate. I remember seeing the weekend of the 75th anniversary celebration. [inaudible] the university’s just totally fawning embrace of one of the chief architects and propagandists for a war that’s a totally unjustifiable war of aggression. So there seems to be a real disconnect from our desire for debate. The kind of thing we see in this newsletter which repeats the—it’s on the university website—which didn’t even acknowledge the protestors. So I guess my question is are we going to see in the next issue of this Woodrow Wilson newsletter a point-by-point rebuttal of Secretary Rice’s speech. That would go a long way, I think, to having a real debate which we’re not having. There were 100 protestors, you know, camped outside Jadwyn gym, yelling and screaming. I don’t call that rigorous, good and solid debate. The university’s just not promoting that. And especially with an administration that refuses to engage in debate. What’s wrong in saying to them ‘whoa, we don’t want you. Go find your VFWs and your red state audiences. If you want to speak to us, you’ll have to engage us in real questions.’ [inaudible] and I think that will begin to turn the tide against this complacency and this acceptance of this administration. Not a question. A statement.


Question: I guess I’m the only one still standing.

SW: Ok, last person standing.

Audience member: can we have just two more?

CW: Maybe we can have all three of you in a row.

SW: But quick.

Question (cont'd): My quick question is that—from what the three of you have said, there seems to be two different ways of looking at this. One is Princeton for the Princetonian students who are here and fostering debate on campus among the students. And one is Princeton in the rest of the world and especially what you were saying, sir, about how all of the seminars and things in Washington have repeated over and over the same sort of you know blah-blah not real debate. Whereas, for us, we aren’t in Washington so when we get to have, you know, Condoleeza Rice come here, does that foster debate on campus among the students and what do you think is more important in terms of what you said, Dean Slaughter, is it more important to have those people come and let that foster debate among the students or is it more important to have the personality be engaged on stage by—and shown that, you know—and debated with them personally. Is it more important for Princeton to engage them or is it more important for Princeton to engage amongst itself and for the students to, you know, then go out to the rest of the world?


Question: Despite our mere youth and our status as undergraduates, we have been able to notice how exclusive our definition of the nation can sometimes be, how many voices are displaced or silenced and persons are silenced and displaced despite their crucial role in the nation. And I think—actually I want to ask—whether you think the Woodrow Wilson school is not excluding and silencing those persons, voices and actors as well. For example, in the conference you organized last semester called ‘re-thinking the war on terror’ which prided itself on being critical about this university’s policy, there was absolutely no representation of those who were most affected by this quote-unquote ‘war on terrors’ policies like, for example, the patriot act and the extension of the powers of the police by which illegal immigrants are being deported from this very community and they are illegal immigrants who some of us happen to work with in the dining hall, who are running many important parts of this university, perhaps the conference ‘re-thinking the war on terror’ itself. So that is my question. Just to reflect on the exclusion of those voices and to reflect on the title, the very title of our debate.

Question: Dean Slaughter, this is directed to you. I guess I’ve been actually the only Woodrow Wilson student tonight, at least graduate student.

CW: There was one other sister over on the side.

AMS: There’s some.

Question (cont'd): It’s not an actual question. First I want to say that—I want to thank you for what your doing with the administrations in the ways that you can to protect the endowment. It does make it possible for me and other students to come to Princeton and not have the financial burden to not have to go corporate after we graduate. So I do appreciate that. But at the same time I was very disturbed by comments and the 75th anniversary and I would say the greatest moment of my time in these two years at Princeton was when I stood with 14 other students in the very last row in Jadwin auditorium protesting. There is Socratic dialogue going on on this campus very much among students and professors. I want to make one suggestion which will not solve all the problems of what we’re talking about at Woodrow Wilson but an example is Professor Cornel West with his dialogue going on right now with key leaders that come to our campus where he deals with them, he presses them with questions that are to the point and respectful. Could we have some type of programs like that amongst any—any type of programs where you or other faculty would use socratic method instead of being talked to. I always like going to lectures. I want to hear questions and that’s not to say that there won’t be questions and answers later among students, but when you can create a script where you ask for questions to be sent in by email by students so you can create a theme for you or other professors. And you can get to the point that students really—and also the community—want to hear from these different views that come to campus. That’s just a suggestion. Thank you. [gap] CLOSING STATEMENTS

MB: ….a lot of things that we’d like to know, we don’t know. A lot of things that should be transparent at this university, aren’t. I would hope the Dean is serious, that she does want to pursue these things, but to be perfectly honest with you, I don’t expect to hear about it. I don’t expect the things we’ve discussed that might happen here are going to happen here. I think, pretty much, after this forum things will go back to normal with a little bit of some other speaker will be invited and some attempt will be made to say that there’s balance, but the forces that be are pretty strong. They know what they’re doing. They’re going to continue to do it.

CW: That’s a little cynical, don’t you think?


CW: He said it’s called realism. No, I’m a democrat. I don’t believe that—

MB: Socratic realism.

CW: But, sentimentalism is the bank holiday of cynicism. I’m neither sentimental nor a cynic. I’m a democrat.


CW: I’m a blues man. I hear what you’re saying. Your challenge is strong, but the kind of Socratic activity—though not as much as we’d like taking place among students as well as faculty—does lead me to think there’s still a chance that a change could come about. There’s still a chance that some kind of transformation could come about. And there’s certainly still a chance that Anne-Marie Slaughter, as Dean of Woodrow Wilson, can play a fundamental role in that regard. I still have that kind of faith which is not a Kirchegardian leap of faith. It’s a real democratic sense that we have a capacity if we do what it takes. Princeton will never be able to serve the nation and the nations of the world well unless it serves its students with Socratic challenge. That’s the fundamental end and aim and it is not Socratic method. It is an art. That’s very different. It’s not a tool to deploy. It’s not a algorythm to use or a formula to follow. It’s a self-invested, self-involved mode of inquiry that constitutes a way of life and we’re about the art of questioning. That’s very different, in that sense, you see. And that’s, in the end, the raw stuff of democratic expansion and refinement and so forth.


AMS: So, I agree with that last sentence. One of the things I certainly carry away with me is a sense that we do want to create—as in response to the last question—more opportunitites for genuine debate. Even if we’d had the half hour we thought we’d have with Secretary Rice, it still would have been better to have a kind of conversational format where people pose questions and so I think I take that away and I also want to reiterate what I started with which is that I’m very pleased that this forum was organized. I think there need to be more like this. The most uncomfortable moment of the night was the request that I disavow any desire to go to Washington. And I’ve been sort of mulling—why? Why was that so uncomfortable? I have no shame at all about saying that yes, at some point, I hope that I can be in government and I hope that I can be in a position where I’m contributing to foreign policy. I came to Princeton because that’s what I wanted to do and I went to the Woodrow Wilson school because that’s what I wanted to do and I went to law school because that’s what I wanted to do and then I ended up practicing law and I didn’t like that so much. So I ended up in academia. But there is no shame in saying you want to serve in nation, in foreign policy or domestic policy in any way. Indeed, we seek to encourage that in all of you. Not that you should all go into government, but you should serve in some way and, if you want to serve in government, that is a wonderful thing. So I have absolutely no reason not to say that is something that I hope to do. So why was that such an uncomfortable and inappropriate question? Because there’s an accusation there that is not about ambition. Ambition is fine. It’s about integrity. It’s about whether or not you are improperly using something in the service of your amibition. Now that is a serious charge. And one, if true, would be very serious indeed and something—it would be a very serious charge. And I think what has been good about this evening has been, from my point of view, being able to hear things as I did when you asked your question that I had not heard before in the same way and I understand how that looks to you in a way I, frankly, had not. And the point about fallujah where I actually heard something and understood how something I intended one way sounded to another. And I’ll think about that. It may change my behavior. Even if it doesn’t change my behavior, I’ve learned something valuable. That’s what’s good about tonight. That’s what we need more of. That’s what we need more of in the ocuntry in terms of real debate. It’s very imp[ortant to have that kind of—to be able to have that kind of debate—to avoid ad hominum attacks and, more deeply, to not [sic] presume good faith until good faith has been disproved. That’s what I meant when I said I thought it was valuable for people at least to see and hear people they strongly disagree with because, in my experience, many of those people—not all, and there’s certainly limits to your amount of tolerance—but many of those people—many of those people that I disagree with incredibly strongly on policy issues—are not bad people. They are people trying to do what they think is right by their rights. We have zones of disagreement, but it’s not about their integrity, their good faith, their efforts to actually, in many cases, accomplish the same goals that I have, but by different ways. That, to me, is what we have lost in this country so fundamentally, which is the ability—in Washington, in the public, in the media—to debate on the issues and actually presume good faith which—it’s much less dramatic. I could bring you all to your feet with a raving attack. It’s much less dramatic to actually engage in that kind of debate but, ultimately, it’s necessary and it’s important. [addressing MB] Your kind of attacks on the personal side have no place in that debate, but the issues you raise, [addressing CW] you raise, the students raise about what is the role of a university? When should you invite a public figure? When should that be beyond the bounds? Because there’s certainly some public figures I would never invite. Those I think are very legitimate issues. I’m very pleased to have had the chance to debate them. I take things away so that makes it a valuable evening. I will absolutely participate and sponsor similar evenings. I’m looking up at Janet Dickerson in the office of student life. I hope we see many more of these and I hope that the wooodrow wilson school is a place where as many different voices can be heard and I hope we can make it a place of more actual, Socratic, sustined debate. Thank you.


SW: I want to thank you all for coming. Thanks to the organizers and a very great thanks to the panelists.

Transcript by Stephanie Wavle.

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 February 2006
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