Best Defense

On the overwhelming moral superiority of the faculty of Northwestern University

Some 46 members of the faculty of Northwestern University are objecting to the selection of retired General and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry to lead a big new institute on foreign policy there.

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Some 46 members of the faculty of Northwestern University are objecting to the selection of retired General and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry to lead a big new institute on foreign policy there.

They are claiming the moral high ground. They don’t want some clumsy soldier-turned-diplomat swimming in their pristine pond.

Now, I am not Eikenberry’s biggest fan. I had some issues with the way he and the Obama Administration handled his ambassadorship in Afghanistan.

But I have no doubt that Eikenberry is just as knowledgeable and informed as are most faculty members. And he is vastly more experienced. Despite our differences, I have no doubt that he’s a thoughtful guy. And if I recall correctly, he is fluent in Chinese. He also has a couple of master’s degrees and has been teaching at Stanford.

So I am guessing that the issue here is his lack of an academic union card, which is known in those circles as a Ph.D.

But I am sure the 46 members of the faculty believe they are acting nobly and in the best interests of their institution.

Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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