Daniel W. Drezner

What I learned at the National Security Forum

I spent the last two days in the great state of Alabama, giving a talk on the financial crisis and national security at the Air War College’s National Security Forum.  The audience consists of Air Force colonels and community leaders.  In theory, I was there to impart wisdom, but I always find that I learn ...

I spent the last two days in the great state of Alabama, giving a talk on the financial crisis and national security at the Air War College's National Security Forum.  The audience consists of Air Force colonels and community leaders. 

In theory, I was there to impart wisdom, but I always find that I learn more from these experiences than my audience.  Now, most of what happens in Alabama stays in Alabama, but I can say I learned the following four things: 

1)  The rooms at the Air Force Inn on Maxwell Air Force Base are charming -- and they come equipped with clubs and golf balls for guests to practice putting.

I spent the last two days in the great state of Alabama, giving a talk on the financial crisis and national security at the Air War College’s National Security Forum.  The audience consists of Air Force colonels and community leaders. 

In theory, I was there to impart wisdom, but I always find that I learn more from these experiences than my audience.  Now, most of what happens in Alabama stays in Alabama, but I can say I learned the following four things: 

1)  The rooms at the Air Force Inn on Maxwell Air Force Base are charming — and they come equipped with clubs and golf balls for guests to practice putting.

2)  It’s a really big ego rush when you walk into the lecture hall and everyone stands at attention for your entrance — until, of course, you realize that they’re not standing for you, they’re standing for the base commandant

3)  I would describe my audience as somewhat right of center — so it was surprising to me that, when I gently suggested that the War on Drugs might be the most counterproductive policy in existence, there was some robust support from the audience. 

4)  It’s going to take a lot longer for the public’s anger at the financial sector to dissipate than anyone in either Washington or New York realizes. 

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner

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