Forthcoming in the ACAS Bulletin, 70, Spring 2005.; April 08, 2005
Education and Empire
Teachers have always been called to the service of empire. Among today's most prominent illustrations is Condoleeza Rice, previously Stanford's Provost and, more substantively, a product of Cold War Soviet studies--as are most of her older mentors who have recently returned to populate the Pentagon and now the State Department. While the Cold War and Sovietology are gone from the scene, a parallel project is now underway: the launching of large-scale initiatives to create a cadre and set of institutions that penetrate our campuses and link them to national security, military, and intelligence agencies. The aim is nothing less, as Congressional hearings show, than to turn back opposition on our campuses to imperial war, and turn campuses into institutions that will, over the next generation, produce scholars and scholarship dedicated to the so-called war on terror. These programs are part of a broader effort to normalize a constant state of fear, based on the emotion of terror, while criminalizing anti-war and anti-imperial consciousness and action. As in the past, universities, colleges and schools have been targeted precisely because they are charged with both socializing youth and producing knowledge of peoples and cultures beyond the borders of Anglo-America.
For the elders among us this should be familiar ground: in the 1950s and 1960s scores of new programs and hundreds of student grants and fellowships were funded to study the Communist and Third Worlds, while unknown numbers of intelligence officers observed our campuses and sat secretly in our classrooms and community meetings. Indeed the area studies project, including African studies, was originally founded upon Cold War premises and funding -- premises which came under attack in the 1970s as secret projects were revealed, resisted, and unraveled. Despite this history, today's new initiatives, from the creation of centers with million dollar grants to hundreds of fellowships requiring service in and reporting to security agencies, remain largely unobserved and uncontested.
The one recent effort that has been extensively discussed is the attack on the roughly $86 million of Title VI federal funding for the 120 foreign language, area studies, and international National Resource Centers. Created in the late 1950s, these programs encompass graduate student fellowships, language instruction in more than 200 less commonly taught languages, public outreach, faculty research, and courses in area and international studies. Of the 120 there are only 17 Middle East centers, with around $4 million in total research and fellowship funding, and only 11 African centers with approximately $ 4 million in funding.
After 9/11 these programs became, as in the early 1990s, the target of broadsides launched by neo-conservatives in and out of Congress. The attack was led by Stanley Kurtz of the National Review Online and a Research Fellow of the Hoover Institution (like Condoleeza Rice who is simply "on leave" from Hoover). Kurtz has been backed by a right-wing cast including, among others, Martin Kramer, former Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University and author of Ivory Towers on Sand: the Failure of Middle East Studies in America, and Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum and promoter of the notorious Campus Watch website which urges students to send in reports on "anti-American" teachers.
Following Kurtz's call hearings were held in June 2003 before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where Kurtz hyper-ventilated that these programs, particularly those pertaining to the Middle East, "tend to purvey extreme and one-sided criticism of American foreign policy," infested as they are by the anti-American followers of Edward Said, the man who "equated professors who support American foreign policy with the 19th century European intellectuals who propped up racist colonial empires." African studies centers came in for special notice, given their role in rejecting military and intelligence funding for African studies, including that from the National Security Education Program
The defense of Title VI programs by scholars and professional associations varied widely. Most found common cause in attacking the bill by rallying behind the defense of academic freedom and autonomy. Some, such as Terry Hartle, Senior Vice President of the American Council on Education, and Gilbert W. Merkx, Vice Provost for International Affairs at Duke University, defended area studies programs in Congressional testimony by arguing their long and valuable contribution to the training of national security officers. Others were straightforward in denouncing H.R. 3077 as a right-wing attack in the service of military and intelligence agencies.
From these hearings came House bill HR 3077, passed unanimously by a voice vote of the Subcommittee and the House in October 2003. Among the bill's features lifted directly from Kurtz's testimony was the establishment of an advisory board with broad investigative powers "to study, monitor, apprise, and evaluate" the activities of area and language studies centers. The board was to report not to the U.S. Department of Education, the Title VI administering agency, but to the Congressional majority and minority leaders, and the federal contracts for the investigations could be contracted outside of the federally-mandated competitive bidding processes. The board is intended to make sure that these programs "reflect diverse perspectives and represent the full range of views" on international affairs, forecasting the implementation of David Horowitz's related campaign in his FrontpageMagazine.com to "Expose the Leftist Campaign to Shape America's Young Minds" and force the hiring and tenuring of right-wing scholars.
The membership of the proposed board reveals the controlling agencies and its lack of institutional diversity: all its members are appointed by and only accountable to the government, including two from national security agencies. And it is not only scholars and large academic programs at risk, for the bill calls for the study and observation of "foreign language heritage communities" (presumably Middle Eastern and Islamic communities) across the country. It further requires all Title VI institutions to provide full access to federal government agency recruiters, including military and intelligence agencies. What the No Child Left Behind Act provided for high schools-mandatory lists of students' addresses and home telephone numbers to military recruiters--is now to be visited upon all college campuses.
Centering Homeland Security on Campus
HR 3007 did not pass the Senate last year. HR 3007 has however been resubmitted in early 2005 by House Republicans as part of H.R. 507, and will surely remain the subject of debate given the interests involved. What the attention to HR 3077 obscures, however, is a multi-faceted alternative which aims to bypass current area and international studies programs and create a new network that extends across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
As Kurtz has argued, the US government's wars demand knowledge of languages and areas tailored to new military and intelligence needs. In the immediate wake of 9/11 $20 million was quickly added to Title VI funding alone. At the same time, the Department of Defense (DOD), awash with billions in budget, added $50 million to the program of the Defense Language Institute, almost as much as the entire Title VI program for 226 less commonly taught languages and area studies in the Title VI centers in universities. At the time scholars and universities scrambled after these new opportunities, with the result that courses, individual grant projects, and certificate programs on "terrorism" and "security" began to emerge in ad-hoc fashion all around the country.
Four years later almost all the major research universities have jumped on the wagon, announcing new certificates, programs, and centers from East to West Coast. These range from new certificate programs such as the Terrorism and National Security Management Certificate offered by Kaplan Online University (a division of the Washington Post) and Denver University's Homeland Security Certificate Program, to new research centers such as Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation (which offers Organizational Learning and Homeland Security Fellowships), Syracuse University's Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, Ohio State University's International and Homeland Security Program, John Jay's Center on Terrorism, and homeland security programs at Johns Hopkins, MIT, and so on.
Department of Homeland Security
As the war has hardened into a long-term, militarist rationale to re-flate US hegemony-a failed project to be sure-more comprehensive calculations, planning, and funding have emerged from the heart of the US security, intelligence, and military agencies to shape these initiatives into a solid war and intelligence network.
At the heart of this effort stands of course the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which employs 183,000 people and disburses a $40 billion budget. Its controlling interests are well represented in its Advisory Council, which is chaired by Joseph Grano, the chairman and CEO of UBS Paine Webber, and is populated with persons who have served in senior posts with the FBI, the CIA, Dow Chemical, Conoco, Eli Lilly, Congress, and Lockheed Martin. The single university officer, the President of Carnegie Mellon University, is offset it seems by the chair of the nation's Ad Council.
DHS at present handles a $70 million dollar scholarship and research budget, and its initiatives, in alliance with those of military and intelligence agencies, point towards a whole new network of campus-related programs. This follows the pattern of the late 1950s when Cold War programs were created at the nation's major universities, often with direct and secret CIA funding as at Harvard and MIT among other campuses. Yet there is a difference this time round: in the 1950s and 1960s at least the Soviet Union possessed tanks and nuclear bombs, which could be counterposed to allied US, European and Asian governments supporting liberal decolonization and development around the world. Today Bush's wars proceed unilaterally without any liberal pretenses, and against an enemy inflated ed by spin doctors and without any weapons of mass destruction.
New centers and programs dedicated to this project are nevertheless now being built across the country with federal funds, weaving together initiatives by campuses themselves. DHS itself has a major program to foster the largest ones. The University of Southern California has created the first "Homeland Security Center of Excellence" with $12 million grant that brought in multidisciplinary experts from UC Berkeley, NYU, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. Texas A&M and the University of Minnesota won $33 million to build two new Centers of Excellence in agrosecurity. Smaller grants abound across the nation and flow from other agencies as well, from the National Institutes of Health to the National Science Foundation-although no accurate accounting exists to date. The scale of networked private and public cooperation is indicated by the new National Academic Consortium for Homeland Security led by Ohio State University, which links more than 200 universities and colleges. The Consortium is the brainchild of General Todd Stewart, retired Air Force major general and executive director of Ohio State's own Program for International and Homeland Security.
Scholarships: Cloning Condi
More immediate and insidious, and funded directly by homeland and national security agencies, is the drive to create a new cadre of intelligence and military officers that rotate between our classrooms and national intelligence agencies. The lure is spectacular and widespread: DHS in September 2003 announced the first 100 winners of a new collegiate fellowship program in the applied social and behavioral sciences; another 105 were announced late last year. Undergraduates receive a stipend of $9,000 in addition to all tuition and fees for nine months, and $5,000 summer stipend to work at a DHS-designated agency. Graduate fellowships cover tuition and fees and a $27,600 per year stipend (including a mandatory summer internship). Needless to say this makes a mockery of the desperate student applications for $9-12,000 graduate fellowships common across the country.
And DHS fellowships in the hundreds are not alone, for intelligence and military agencies have their own programs in play as well. Not to be left behind, the CIA received four million dollars via the 2004 Intelligence Authorization Act to create a pilot program to train agents in university classrooms. Named after Senator Pat Roberts, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Pat Roberts Fellowship Program (PRISP) offers undergraduate or graduate students $25,000 a year. Fellowship holders are required to meet in closed sessions run by their administering intelligence agency and, upon graduation, accept 18 month's employment for each year of fellowship support. Like all CIA employees, graduate student interns have to pass medical and polygraph tests as well as background investigations.
Scholarship holders as well as the campuses they are on remain a tightly held secret. As a recent article by David Price reveals, the project has deep roots in the construction of an academic-intelligence marriage reaching back to Vietnam era. The DOD also partners with the Association for the Advancement of American Science to offer Defense Policy Fellowships, which places new doctoral-level degree students directly into the Department of Defense. The fellowship stipend is $62,000-81,000 per year; needless to say "The fellowship is contingent upon the recipient obtaining a security clearance."
The inspiration for many of these programs-now across all the natural sciences, social
sciences, and humanities-- is clearly the narrower National Security Education Program established in 1992, which was designed to provide an increased number of U.S. students with language and area experience for the DOD, CIA, and other federal agencies. Under NSEP students study both in the US and overseas, on fellowships awarded under the direct administration of the DOD and under an oversight board which includes the director of Central Intelligence; fellowship holders are required to seek employment in "national security" agencies.
All signs point to the proliferation of these programs, extending into more scholarly fields and levels of education. In 2005 the DOD will unveil a new national initiative in foreign languages, signed and supported by most other federal agencies and seeking to introduce more language instruction in the K-12 system, colleges, and universities with a variety of support programs in order to increase "homeland security."
Who is the Enemy?
What these programs signal is thus not simply an attack on academic freedom or even the diversion of education funding into secret intelligence projects. For students and scholars alike these new programs threaten to solidfy dangerous institutional changes. Secret military and intelligence agencies will increasingly dictate which languages, religions, and peoples-both beyond and within our borders-will be studied and by whom. New networked centers and programs, created by and tied to federal security funding, will form an academic homeland security complex destined to implement the fear of "un-American others," all in pursuit of an increasingly profitable and increasingly illusory "war on terror." Meanwhile, hidden behind these facades, marches the development of security and intelligence student trainees who report to security agencies and move back and forth, unknown and unobserved, from our classrooms to security agencies.
The forgotten exposes of the 1970s demonstrate what these kinds of programs produce: an academy not simply comprised and at risk, but riddled with secret military and intelligence projects, slowly spreading all over the world in service of misguided imperial ambitions. Yet there are positive lessons from the past as well, for despite the best scholarship and harshest military and intelligence efforts, France could not maintain its hold over Indochina and Algeria, Britain over Kenya and southern Africa, Portugal over Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and Mozambique, and the US over Vietnam. Indeed, in all these cases US and European leaders and governments fell due to resistance to occupation and militarism, with no small part played by the young and the old, by teachers and students. And therein lies a lesson for scholars: which side are we on?