An important development that went unnoticed in this column was the House's Oct. 21 passage of H.R. 3077, the "International Studies in Higher Education Act of 2003," which could cause academic international studies programs to lose their federal financing unless they show more support for U.S. foreign policy (see "Education," p. 66 of this issue). The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Peter Hoekstra on Sept. 11, was passed by the House by voice vote, with no debate, under a procedure normally used for routine, non-controversial measures, such as renaming a courthouse.
Federal money would dry up if the program didn't show enough support for U.S. foreign policy.
The bill amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to revise requirements under Title VI for grants to international education programs. Specifically, it directs the secretary of education, "in making grants for graduate and undergraduate language and area centers and programs, to take into account the degree to which activities of centers, programs, and fellowships at institutions of higher education advance national interests, generate and disseminate information, and foster debate on U.S. foreign policy from diverse perspectives."
Section 6 establishes an "independent International Education Advisory Board to advise Congress and the secretary on Title VI programs in relation to national needs with respect to homeland security, international education, international affairs, and foreign language training," and to make recommendations that will result in the development of "programs at the postsecondary education level that will reflect diverse perspectives and the full range of views on world regions, foreign language, and international affairs."
Three members of the seven-member board would be appointed by the secretary of education, at least two of whom would come from national security agencies, with the other four appointed by Congress.
In other words, the advisory board would be empowered to tell the secretary of education which studies programs meet the vague and ambiguous requirements and are therefore entitled to continue receiving federal grants. Or, put another way, federal money would dry up if the international studies program didn't show enough support for U.S. foreign policy, contribute to homeland security, or show enough "diversity" of political opinions.
Although the measure applies to all of the academic international studies centers, it apparently is aimed at Middle East Studies centers. It was introduced after the House Education subcommittee held a hearing in June on "International Programs of Higher Education and Questions of Bias." At that hearing Stanley Kurtz, a fellow at the Hoover Institution and contributing editor to National Review, charged that "Title VI-funded programs in Middle Eastern studies (and other area studies) tend to purvey extreme and one-sided criticisms of American foreign policy."
Kurtz is one of the three most prominent advocates of gaining neoconservative control over Middle East Studies programs. The other two are Martin Kramer, editor of the right-wing Middle East Quarterly and also a senior associate in the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, and Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum and recently appointed by Bush, over senatorial and Arab-American objections, to the board of directors of the United States Institute of Peace.
After passage by the House the bill was sent to the Senate and referred to the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. That committee is chaired by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) the ranking minority member. As these are two of the Senate's responsible members, there is reason to hope they will be able to prevent the bill from going any further.