Pay us like you pay Petraeus

by Corey Robin on July 1, 2013

If you’re an adjunct at CUNY, you make about $3,000 per course.

If you’re an adjunct at CUNY and you’re David Petraeus, you make about $200,000 per course.

With an army of teaching assistants and graders.

With travel and research funds.

While you’re getting boatloads of money for teaching at USC (“You won’t believe what USC will pay per week,” Petraeus kvells in an email to Ann Kirschner, the dean of the CUNY honors college where Petreaus will be teaching).

Gawker has the whole email thread, plus some other documents they got through a Freedom of Information Law request.

{ 89 comments }

1

Anderson 07.01.13 at 6:19 pm

OT, but is anyone else getting a different website at this blog’s address?

The same address on my phone takes me to some spammy page. Odd.

2

Michael H Schneider 07.01.13 at 6:22 pm

” … CUNY is trying to tap an independent donor to subsidize Petraeus’ salary.”

The contribution to CUNY is tax deductible to the donor, so the $200,000 salary would only cost the donor about $13o,000 and the taxpayers of the US and NY would be paying about $70,000. Win-win!

3

William Timberman 07.01.13 at 7:57 pm

Anderson @ 1

Yes, I’m seeing it too. Since every device and every browser type on my network is affected, I thought it might be a DNS problem, but changing servers didn’t help. I’m typing this on my phone, with WiFi off. AT&T network seems to return the correct numeric URL, so maybe there’s a poisoned router somewhere.

4

Cranky Observer 07.01.13 at 8:42 pm

Checking CT’s WHOIS record, the domain crookedtimber.org was registered 2003-07-01 and expired this morning – presumably a 10-year registration. It has been renewed.

Cranky

5

Anderson 07.01.13 at 8:42 pm

3: thanks. No prob on my desktop, but my phone won’t get here.

6

david 07.01.13 at 9:46 pm

Flush your DNS cache. On Windows it is ipconfig /flushdns

7

Peter Hovde 07.01.13 at 10:13 pm

To be fair, he *could* impart information that no professional academic could. Sure, he won’t, but students will feel the exciting tingle of that non-disclosed information.

8

ross 07.01.13 at 11:31 pm

They are paying him as a “Distinguished Visiting Professor” which seems fine. However, I thought the whole point of spending a sabatical as a visiting professor somewhere was to actually be there! Sounds like he will be in NYC one day per week.

Also more laughably, why would a seminar on “Energy, advanced manufacturing, life sciences and information technology.” mean? How does he even have expertise on them?

9

Jeremy 07.01.13 at 11:50 pm

I wonder how Petraeus is going to decide to dole out his pearls of wisdom. Even with the great sums USC and CUNY are tossing at him, they’re probably a pittance compared to what leveraged buyout pioneers KKR are rewarding him for his “thought leadership” as chairman of the KKR Global Institute:

Petraeus’s new job calls for him to get into the “thought leadership” business. As my colleague Halah Touryalai reports, his global institute is expected to address “macro-economic issues like the role of central banks in the world since the crisis, changes in public policy, and other areas where KKR has interests.”

In essence, KKR wants Petraeus, a former four-star general with a uniquely intellectual bent, to help establish the private-equity firm as a citadel of big-picture insights.

Does CUNY think their measly $2,500 per hour is going to get them insights like “the focus is forward”?

(There has to be some sort of equivalent to Poe’s Law for corporate gobbledy-gook. That Forbes article isn’t all that far from Will Boisvert’s sarcastic comment over at Corey’s site.)

10

Martin Holterman 07.02.13 at 12:05 am

I would think the solution is obvious: In good old CUNY tradition, sue to get rid of Petraeus. It worked with Bertrand Russell, after all.

11

RobW 07.02.13 at 12:52 am

While reasonable people can disagree about whether the offer to Petraeus is fair, it seems unreasonable to expect that CUNY (or anywhere else) could / would pay him the same as a typical adjunct. Whatever your views on the man, he brings a thick set of experiences and contacts that I, for example, could not. It is only natural that Petraeus’ discount rate is far higher than mine and institutions need to bid higher to retain his services. So again, one can both object to the amount of compensation CUNY is offering and to the rate it pays typical adjuncts, but you is hard pressed to convincingly argue that Patraeus is a typical adjunct.

12

William Timberman 07.02.13 at 1:13 am

FWIW, CT just came back up for me. If it was the lapsed domain registration reported by Cranky @ 4 that caused the problem, the renewal now seems to have taken hold. Life is good….

13

Substance McGravitas 07.02.13 at 1:31 am

In April, CUNY announced that Petraeus would do a stint as a visiting professor of public policy at the school’s Macaulay Honors College, leading a seminar on “developments that could position the United States…to lead the world out of the current global economic slowdown.”

It’s important to have Full Generals teach courses like that because they have people blown up.

14

Jonathan W. 07.02.13 at 1:38 am

Anon, if being a “Full General” is actually a relevant qualification for obtaining adjunct teaching work in economics, American higher ed may be in even worse trouble than we’ve been led to believe.

15

christian_h 07.02.13 at 1:43 am

I nominate anon for “commenter missing the point of the year”. On the topic at hand, I thought I had misread the number. This is beyond outrageous for a public university that has claimed to be broke for years.

16

Greg Hays 07.02.13 at 1:51 am

If anything, anon understates the case. Full General should at least entitle you to a sweetheart loan on a luxurious summer house in the Hamptons.

17

William Timberman 07.02.13 at 2:00 am

Yep, a true symbol of American success, kinda like Jamie Dimon. I still think we’ve been paying the wrong people.

18

Alan 07.02.13 at 2:00 am

“There are hundreds of thousands qualified to be adjuncts on CUNY. There are fewer than 225 soldiers who ever achieved the rank of Full General in the United States Army.

No doubt you believe that any one of those hundreds of thousands of qualified adjuncts could perform the service of a Full General. If so, you are more of an idiot than your posts make you out to be.”

I urge that someone’s a priori should be stuffed with apples, and (no doubt *his*) a posterior should be stuffed with oranges.

19

adam.smith 07.02.13 at 2:09 am

In Germany, famous people occasionally teach courses for free. In exchange, they get to call themselves honorary professors, a sign of their dedication to the education of our youth. That seems like a better arrangement. (Though it doesn’t help regular adjuncts in the least, for the most part they’re even more ridiculously underpaid, lest someone think I would want to praise any other part of the German university system).

20

Collin Street 07.02.13 at 2:29 am

@Christian h.: If that’s what they’re willing to pay it seems likely that the claims of insolvency aren’t actually false as such.

@ adam.smith: the problem — one of the problems — with the replacement of aristocracy with market-based social stratification is that the only coin you can honour people with is, you know, coin.

21

Henry 07.02.13 at 2:30 am

Sorry to all about the DNS screw up – an expired credit card and a dodgy registrar (but sorted out thanks to the help of the nice people at Hosting Matters).

On the matter at hand, there’s something weird and American about the semi-obligatory campus appointment as part of the rehabilitation process for disgraced political celebrities.

22

Salient 07.02.13 at 2:58 am

A typical adjunct usually finds themselves teaching essentials identified by the university as coursework it couldn’t do without, for students who wouldn’t stand to make progress without completing it; whatever Petraeus teaches will be crafted by him, for him. What a dignified and giving public servant he has proven to be…

23

phosphorious 07.02.13 at 3:17 am

“No doubt you believe that any one of those hundreds of thousands of qualified adjuncts could perform the service of a Full General.”

I teach philosophy as an adjunct at a local community college. I’m pretty sure that I could have led the US forces to a close second place in Iraq as well as Patraeus did.

In half the time, too.

24

Tom Slee 07.02.13 at 3:30 am

On the matter at hand, there’s something weird and American about the semi-obligatory campus appointment as part of the rehabilitation process for disgraced political celebrities.

At least the US rehabilitates its own. Canada’s Dalton McGuinty headed south.

25

David G. 07.02.13 at 3:43 am

My sadness in the knowledge that an adjunct at my alma mater is paid such a pittance is greater than my outrage at the bounty offered to the General. On the other hand doesn’t a celeb in rehab usually pay the facility?

26

Andreas Moser 07.02.13 at 5:22 am

So you could get 70 lecturers for the price of one?
Sounds like a bad deal for the university and the students. If they want to know what Petraeus thinks, they could have bought a few copies of his book for the library.

27

Mao Cheng Ji 07.02.13 at 6:08 am

Well, he didn’t get a farm in Babylon. Or Ariana. Not good for the morale.

28

Dr. Hilarius 07.02.13 at 6:09 am

Becoming a four-star general is more a tribute to political in-fighting skills than real world military competence. But what do I know, didn’t he win the war in Afghanistan?

29

Walt 07.02.13 at 6:20 am

Gordon Brown has some sort of appointment at NYU. I can’t tell if that proves Henry @22 right or wrong.

30

Zamfir 07.02.13 at 6:39 am

Can someone explain what the university expects to get out of such a deal? I can see the silliness of it,but presumably someone thought it wad a good idea. What are the proponents thinking?

Is it a pr thing, showing cuny as a place with connections to the corridors of power? If so, who is the pr aimed at? New students?

Also, is cuny a place with such connections, Do really connected places still have to pay?

31

Chaz 07.02.13 at 7:16 am

Wait . . . I’m very confused as to just how much they actually *are* paying him.

The gawker article originally said they’re paying him $200,000 from the university plus additional money they’re trying to raise privately–so actually a lot more than $200,000. They quote an email from Matthew Goldstein to support that: “We are prepared to offer you a salary of $200,000 per annum, supplemented by funds (as yet to be secured) from a private gift.”

Then apparently that changed to $150,000–but is that $150,000 total or $150,000 + undisclosed megabucks from some private donor?

I’m not sure if there are still facts which need to be brought to light or if Matthew Goldstein is just illiterate.

32

Chaz 07.02.13 at 7:33 am

For those saying he is providing a specialized teaching service normal adjuncts cannot:

I would be prepared to accept that argument if David Petraeus were joining CUNY as a full-time faculty member with no other employment. Or an adjunct with only limited, part-time outside employment, and living in NYC. With office hours, and with the courses materials prepared by David Petraeus rather than by graduate students. There is a place for one or two grad students in Dave Petraeus’ employ–they can help with the separate research he should also be performing as a faculty member, in addition to his seminar!

Instead, he’s also doing a separate university gig–in California! And I’m sure he’ll be giving paid speeches all over the place, and doing whatever the hell he’s doing for KKR, and plus frequent media appearances to promote Dave Petraeus. Forget about him spending time in his office with students–he won’t even be in New York! His course materials will be prepared by TAs, papers graded by student graders. All Dave’s going to do is show up and rehash whatever the hell he talked about with John McCain on TV last Sunday.

CUNY is renting a trophy. A famous man to give two public speeches the trustees can brag about to the their bigshot friends and to all the chumps at NYU and Columbia and Princeton who don’t have any generals. The value of this trophy to the public is $0. The value to the trustees is whatever money they can “secure from a private donor” (that is, whatever contributions they can divert from worthwhile programs to this) to pay Davey.

33

roger gathman 07.02.13 at 9:03 am

anon is so right! There are hundreds of thousands of adjuncts, but Petraeus, uniquely, has been a disaster on two fronts: after surrendering in Iraq to the Sunnis and facilitating ethnic cleansing in Baghdad, he allowed the U.S. to save face as it retreated from its disaster in Iraq, making him victorious in P.R. and inglorious on the field. Then he failed utterly in Afghanistan, implementing the dumbest version of surge since… well, Iraq, but at the same time leaving him with enough time to jog and have side affairs with his hagiographer. How many generals have a record as terrifically bad as that? You have to go back to some of the worst Union generals in the Civil War.
Interestingly, there are a number of comments from two Petraeus fanboys that echo the same theme. Or perhaps one. I wonder if Tom Ricks is using sockpuppets?

34

Harold 07.02.13 at 10:16 am

Didn’t Petraeus “win” the war by handing out large sums of money? (Bribing the enemy?)

35

Cranky Observer 07.02.13 at 11:18 am

= = = Forget about him spending time in his office with students–he won’t even be in New York! = = =

Well, that might be for the best.

36

Zamfir 07.02.13 at 11:27 am

Harold,you might find out if you take a course at cuny!

37

Tiberius Gracchus 07.02.13 at 11:38 am

A significant portion of the value of the appointment to CUNY is as a kind of advertising.

38

Ben Alpers 07.02.13 at 12:22 pm

Hmmm…if other countries are sending their disgraced figures to be white-washed with cushy sinecures in US colleges and universities, perhaps the relative sanity of those other countries’ higher ed pay scales is only possible due to the seeming injustice of ours! Someone should ask (commission?) Acemoglu, Robinson and Verdier to write a paper on it.

39

BigHank53 07.02.13 at 1:19 pm

Couldn’t they have gotten Paula Broadwell for a lot less money?

40

William Timberman 07.02.13 at 1:55 pm

Call this a further rationalization of the revolving door principle. These days, when a general’s methods become unsound, we don’t send Martin Sheen to hack him to death with a machete, we set him up at an enterprise institute or a college. (Generals whose methods remain sound wind up running our diplomacy, our weapons procurement, or our global arms marketing.)

41

Trader Joe 07.02.13 at 2:17 pm

What a sanctimonious group. There’s hardly a person here who wouldn’t jump at the same deal if offered it. What should Petraeus have done said “oh no, just pay me like a first year junior…maybe a raise later if I prove worthy.”

Criticize CUNY certainly, particularly as a publicly funded university, but if not them then Columbia or NYU on dozens of others (private schools maybe a shade more forgivable since they are somewhat free to waste their money as they choose – but only barely in a world where the goverment backs and writes off billions of student loan losses).

The outrage is long since past. The sin was committed ages ago when universities adopted the notion that having a little bit of academic “Star Power” had an actual return on investment to the institution (in all but the rarest cases it doesn’t). Patraeus is only the latest example…the majority of the Obama cabinet should probably be cutting similar deals sometime in the next 5 years.

42

Uncle Kvetch 07.02.13 at 2:49 pm

the majority of the Obama cabinet should probably be cutting similar deals sometime in the next 5 years

Then they’d better get busy. They’ve got a lot of upward failing to do if they want to match Petraeus’ record of non-accomplishment.

43

Anderson 07.02.13 at 3:43 pm

I note that the new “Pac-Man” cartoon on Disney XD has a villain named “Lord Betrayus.”

44

Trader Joe 07.02.13 at 3:53 pm

@43
Holder has surely already punched his ticket and Katherine Sebelius should have ample at bats over the next year or so….Hegel has to be considered a lock as well, he just needs say a whole year on the job. Susan Rice isn’t on the cabinet, but she been failing upward at a steady pace as well.

You’re right on Pritzker, Lew and Kerry though – they won’t need the money.

The rest have been largely beyond debacle (to their credit).

45

Ronan(rf) 07.02.13 at 3:59 pm

Somewhat relatedly, I remember Niall Ferguson making the point in one of his books back in the day that General MaCarthur’s behaviour/support during the Korean War was the closest the US ever came to becoming a dictatorship. It struck me as a little hyperbolic, but any truth to it?

46

bexley 07.02.13 at 4:07 pm

What a sanctimonious group. There’s hardly a person here who wouldn’t jump at the same deal if offered it. What should Petraeus have done said “oh no, just pay me like a first year junior…maybe a raise later if I prove worthy.”

The post’s title is “Pay us like you pay Petraeus” and you think this is addressed at the General rather than CUNY?

47

Ronan(rf) 07.02.13 at 4:09 pm

“What should Petraeus have done said “oh no, just pay me like a first year junior…maybe a raise later if I prove worthy.”

Well yeah, I think so. If I was rich, disgraced and mediocre and given a position I wasn’t qualified for. People do it all the time, or just turn it down

48

Random Lurker 07.02.13 at 4:36 pm

What is the value of an apple?
Someone likes apples and someone doesn’t , thus the value of an apple is different for everyone.
The only way to reach a consensus value is through the market, so the real value of an apple is only the value estabilished by the market.
Only evil central planners think otherwise, they try to push on you their centrally determinated values to deprive you of your freedom.
So, what is the value of a Peterus? It might be 1$ or 2$ per hour, but if the market says otherwise, what special wisdom have we got to go against it?
And what is the value of a common adjunct ? And of an unemployed ?
Face it, the only scientific way to determine the real value of a person is through the size of his/her paycheck, all the rest is just illiberal superstition.

49

roger gathman 07.02.13 at 4:39 pm

45 – “Hegel has to be considered a lock as well, he just needs say a whole year on the job.” Well, for Hegel, I think there might be other mitigating circumstances that would justify paying him just a little bit more as an adjunct in the philosophy department. He should also be duly compensated for the fact that he is our first SecDef who perfectly embodies the absolute unfolding of the spirit, unless you count Macnamara.

50

Anderson 07.02.13 at 5:06 pm

“remember Niall Ferguson making the point in one of his books”

Must’ve been an early book, as Mac wasn’t a Democrat.

51

Ronan(rf) 07.02.13 at 5:11 pm

I don’t think he saw it as necessarily a negative outcome, as in Macarthur was the tyrant the US needed (It was during Iraq)

52

Andrew F. 07.02.13 at 5:42 pm

A couple of things.

First, an adjunct isn’t a good comparison to determine whether Petraeus’s services are good for the price. In fact it seems to be one deliberately chosen by Gawker to help them sensationalize the story (shocking, just shocking, I know). I’d add some other snort-worthy aspects of Gawker’s reporting on this (teaching a new 3 hour seminar per week apparently means 3 hours of work per week – this may be a pleasant surprise to any academics reading this), but there’s no need.

Second, a seminar with Petraeus is a great opportunity for those students fortunate enough to be in his class. Those students will have a chance to learn from, impress, and forge a very useful contact. That contact, if a student does well, may open doors down the road that would otherwise be closed.

The tough job market today should underscore the value of that second point. CUNY, afaik, has a student body that contains a wide range of ability and talents. And that’s fine – and in fact I’m in favor of radically expanding and improving our public universities – but it may mean that students who work hard and distinguish themselves there may need some additional help competing against students from schools with “better pedigrees” (I hate that term). Having someone like Petraeus on their side can be important.

So, I suspect a seminar by Petraeus (so long as that’s not way above price for a comparable figure) for 150k is worth the price. Assuming a seminar of 20 students, that’s a truly great opportunity for those 20 students, at the cost of 7,500USD per student.

Obviously, there are also lesser but still significant benefits to those students who take advantage of other opportunities to interact, meet, and talk with Petraeus.

And this is before discussing the educational value itself, which I suspect will be substantial.

53

christian_h 07.02.13 at 5:54 pm

A seminar with Petraeus is likely the functional equivalent of an Andrew F. comment: no surprises.

54

Ronan(rf) 07.02.13 at 5:56 pm

“Those students will have a chance to learn from, impress, and forge a very useful contact. That contact, if a student does well, may open doors down the road that would otherwise be closed.”

I know this is just a troll but I’d be interested to know what kind of Petreaus contacts would come in useful to the average CUNY undergraduate? (Also that really is an abysmal – if practical – way of approaching your education)

55

Corey Robin 07.02.13 at 5:57 pm

Let’s assume, for the sake of the argument, that the claims as stipulated by Andrew F. are correct. CUNY has 200,000 students. 20 students is .01 percent of the student body. Spending $150,000 to help .01 percent of the student body seems like a good investment to you?

56

Substance McGravitas 07.02.13 at 6:05 pm

There is, quite possibly, an opportunity to have sex with the general, so count me in!

57

Barry 07.02.13 at 6:10 pm

Andrew F: “Second, a seminar with Petraeus is a great opportunity for those students fortunate enough to be in his class. Those students will have a chance to learn from, impress, and forge a very useful contact. That contact, if a student does well, may open doors down the road that would otherwise be closed. “

Oh, bull f-ing sh*t. He’ll walk in, say some prepared remarks, take a very few questions, BS some more, and then jet off to his next speech, while some grad student actually teaches whatever is taught.

58

Anderson 07.02.13 at 6:37 pm

58: Don’t cloud the argument with hyperbole. Petraeus is a Ph.D. (Princeton), he’s got a fair bit of academic experience (including as an ass’t prof at West Point), and he is used to giving assignments and expecting intelligent answers, in the Army and in the classroom. He may turn out to be as disappointing in practice as you say, but I wouldn’t just assume so.

59

LFC 07.02.13 at 6:46 pm

Re Andrew F.’s comment above:

This is based on second- or third-hand info, but my understanding is that — to take one example — the national security seminar at Yale taught by Paul Kennedy, John Lewis Gaddis, and Charles Hill, to which undergrads compete for admission, places at least some of its students in sought-after (by some people, that is) jobs in the nat’l security apparatus or related positions. That is one pretty clear case where being taught by certain people does get students job-market benefits.

Whether a CUNY student in a Petraeus course will benefit in the same way is an open question. It’s possible someone will impress him, get a recommendation, and have a legup in the job mkt as a result. It’s also possible Petraeus will actually teach the class; he does have a PhD, after all, has taught before at various places no doubt, and is not a stranger to academia. That said, paying him $150,000 for a couple of courses is grossly excessive; they are ways to spend the money that wd no doubt benefit many more students than 20 (or whatever).

If they got Petraeus for $25,000 or $30,000, which is probably reasonable for someone with his c.v. (whatever you think of him — and I am not a big Petraeus fan) that wd be a good investment. $150,000 is very excessive. This is not Wall St, where someone can pull in $150,000 in the time it takes to go to the bathroom or button a shirt; it’s a public university.

60

LFC 07.02.13 at 6:46 pm

Posted 60 before i saw Anderson’s 59

great minds think alike ;)

61

Barry 07.02.13 at 7:04 pm

Anderson 07.02.13 at 6:37 pm

” 58: Don’t cloud the argument with hyperbole. Petraeus is a Ph.D. (Princeton), he’s got a fair bit of academic experience (including as an ass’t prof at West Point), and he is used to giving assignments and expecting intelligent answers, in the Army and in the classroom. He may turn out to be as disappointing in practice as you say, but I wouldn’t just assume so.”

How many hours/week do you expect him to spend on this class? As pointed out in Gawker, he’s also ‘teaching’ at USC, and is on various boards, and goes around giving speeches.

BTW, I’ll take the position that at $150K, the burden of assumption is on those who assume that he will be worth even a fraction of it.

62

Uncle Kvetch 07.02.13 at 7:20 pm

teaching a new 3 hour seminar per week apparently means 3 hours of work per week – this may be a pleasant surprise to any academics reading this

That stuck in my craw too, at first…but upon learning about the “team” of grad students who will be doing pretty much all the work outside the classroom, I think Gawker got it right.

Petraeus is a Ph.D. (Princeton), he’s got a fair bit of academic experience (including as an ass’t prof at West Point), and he is used to giving assignments and expecting intelligent answers, in the Army and in the classroom.

His Ph.D., and his academic experience, are in international relations. The topic of his course is “developments that could position the United States…to lead the world out of the current global economic slowdown.” Wouldn’t that course be more suitably taught by someone with a background in economics? (That was a rhetorical question, of course…we all know that nobody gives a shit.)

63

mjfgates 07.02.13 at 7:22 pm

I would like to hire David Petraeus as a bolt pistol operator in my slaughterhouse. Given his extensive related experience, he would be just the person to increase productivity. Would $2m/year be enough, do you think, to engage his services on a part-time basis?

64

Andrew F. 07.02.13 at 7:38 pm

Corey, I’m not sure that’s a great way to judge the value of the investment, but along those same lines, 150k is about .005% of CUNY’s 2.6 billion dollar budget.

In combination with the other benefits Petraeus brings to CUNY, and if there are no alternative investments with a better return, I think that’s a good investment. But, if you have an alternative project for the 150k that you think would bring better value, then that would certainly be worth bringing up.

LFC, eh, two seminars, a few campus-wide lectures, and what sound like a few other events. From what little I understand of the market for “names” like Petraeus, even single lectures are quite expensive – I’ve heard of some in the 25k range. I don’t think a 150k salary, for a one year term, is an excessive price given the market. In fact it may be less than Petraeus could obtain elsewhere.

Now, whether that 150k is best put here, or whether there’s an alternative project with better return – that’s an open question, and one I don’t know the answer to.

I wanted to raise the benefits to the students taking his seminars as those benefits didn’t seem to be mentioned in the thread or post, and for the students I think those benefits are particularly important.

Whether this is the best way to spend the money depends, imho, on alternative projects. The Petraeus project produces – again, strictly imho – benefits for his students that are likely greater than those produced by many other professors. However, perhaps there are alternative projects that would produce greater benefit to students. If so, the introduction of those projects would really close the argument.

Ronan, CUNY undergraduates will go on to pursue careers in a wide range of fields, including government service. Petraeus can do lots of things, with little effort, that may make a big difference to a student attempting entry into those careers. A forwarded resume with a personal recommendation, a phone call, a quick email to someone who wants to show himself helpful, etc. Don’t misunderstand me. Education is about much more than making connections that land you in the field you want, and there are ways to get jobs other than helpful connections. But these things can matter, and matter a lot.

65

Substance McGravitas 07.02.13 at 8:02 pm

However, perhaps there are alternative projects that would produce greater benefit to students. If so, the introduction of those projects would really close the argument.

Giving a whole bunch of students $20?

66

Anderson 07.02.13 at 8:20 pm

Wouldn’t that course be more suitably taught by someone with a background in economics?

On the one hand, I agree; OTOH, looking at many of the economist-pundits nowadays, I wonder whether the course is most suitably taught by anyone *but* an economist ….

67

Anderson 07.02.13 at 8:23 pm

That said, paying him $150,000 for a couple of courses is grossly excessive; they are ways to spend the money that wd no doubt benefit many more students than 20 (or whatever).

True. Tho I wonder what Kissinger & his ilk net(ted) for teaching a class or two post-retirement.

I suppose there is something to be said for being happy that some CUNY students will have the chance to benefit from elbow-rubbing, as opposed to the usual overprivileged Ivy League suspects. Whether that’s worth $150K, I will defer to those more experienced with university budgets; I really don’t know how CUNY or Harvard puts a price on that stuff.

68

Anderson 07.02.13 at 8:29 pm

Here is a column at Pat Buchanan’s The American Conservative:

“None of this means Petraeus’ appoint at CUNY is formally unethical. As far as I can tell from the emails, it’s all by the book. And if a private donor can be found, it won’t cost the taxpayers anything. Even so, the episode indicates that CUNY’s priorities are not students’, regular faculty’s, or the public’s.”

69

Barry 07.02.13 at 8:44 pm

Andrew F: “LFC, eh, two seminars, a few campus-wide lectures, and what sound like a few other events. From what little I understand of the market for “names” like Petraeus, even single lectures are quite expensive – I’ve heard of some in the 25k range. I don’t think a 150k salary, for a one year term, is an excessive price given the market. In fact it may be less than Petraeus could obtain elsewhere.”

The market price for a load of hookers and blow can be steep, but also not something that the university should buy. I’ll bet that the market for lectures is based on (a) showing off in conspicuous consumption and connections and (b) paying the guy $25K or more so that he’ll take your phone call when you need a favor done by somebody he knows.

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William Timberman 07.02.13 at 8:52 pm

Barry has the right take on this. The rest is just a mothe-eaten defense of the indefensible — it’s amazing to me how comfortable we’ve all gotten with Andrew F.’s version of reality, even when we disagree with it. Where’s the House Committee on Un-American Activities now that we really need it?

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Mario 07.02.13 at 9:17 pm

Isn’t the real scandal here that there are so many people willing to teach a course for 3000$?

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Ronan(rf) 07.02.13 at 9:19 pm

“He may turn out to be as disappointing in practice as you say, but I wouldn’t just assume so.”

I think if the course was specifically on something he had direct experience with/expertise on (such as the Iraq War) it could be worthwhile. If he was willing to openly talk about, say, US counterinsurgency doctrine, take questions on it, ask people to think critically about it, then that could be interesting and defensible.
But going by the descriptions of the course that have been put out (and the Uncle K describes above) it seems boilerplate Thomas Friedman. He could at least put the effort in

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Rakesh Bhandari 07.02.13 at 9:25 pm

Has there been any discussion yet of what is probably most important–what the effects were and what went wrong with the US occupation of Iraq. Five years ago I read Jonathan Steele’s Defeat. As I remember it, he showed how the US underestimated genuinely nationalist opposition, how the occupation hardened religious divisions within the country and what the terrible costs in repression were for what passed as peace. I have not read Steele’s recent reporting, but I would like to find the time to do so.
I would also be interested in what recommendations follow from Petraeus’ manual in terms of negotiations with (parts of) the Taliban.

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LFC 07.02.13 at 9:40 pm

I think if the course was specifically on something he had direct experience with/expertise on (such as the Iraq War) it could be worthwhile. If he was willing to openly talk about, say, US counterinsurgency doctrine, take questions on it, ask people to think critically about it, then that could be interesting and defensible.
But going by the descriptions of the course that have been put out (and that Uncle K describes above) it seems boilerplate Thomas Friedman. He could at least put the effort in

yes. i hadn’t read the course description, or that snippet of it. he shd be teaching something he knows about or has a claim to know about.

FFS, he wrote the ******* ’07 Counterinsurgency Field Manual. There’s actually been quite a lot of academic and quasi-academic discussion of that. Even if one thinks it’s a load of ****, it’s something he knows about. I have no real idea what “developments that could position the United States…to lead the world out of the current global economic slowdown” means, but it sounds pretty amorphous, to say the least. I personally wdnt pay 2 plugged nickels to hear Petreaus on that subject.

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novakant 07.02.13 at 9:44 pm

Hegel?

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Anderson 07.02.13 at 9:46 pm

I will note that in 4 years of undergrad and 7 of grad school, I absolutely, positively, never had a class that deviated in any way from the published course description. The class will be about whatever Petraeus wants it to be about. I’m not even clear who wrote that up, him or CUNY.

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LFC 07.02.13 at 9:49 pm

I would also be interested in what recommendations follow from Petraeus’ manual in terms of negotiations with (parts of) the Taliban.

I believe that the doctrine of ‘full-spectrum’ counterinsurgency says you shd be negotiating (and, if nec., fighting at the same time). ‘Full spectrum’ = do everything (political, economic, legal, military, etc). Roughly, throw everything into the hopper in some presumably co-ordinated way. (I read a (rather problematic) bk on this subject, Ganesh Sitaraman’s The Counterinsurgent’s Constitution. He’s considerably too uncritical about it imo.)

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Collin Street 07.02.13 at 10:08 pm

The japanese, btw, call this sort of thing “amakudari”, descending-from-heaven.

Also, something that everyone here knows but needs emphasis: the details of the solutions that “the market” generate depends on the distribution of liquidity going in, and the appropriateness of “the market’s” solutions depends on the appropriateness of the liquidity distribution. And “It’s a market solution so it’s OK” precisely begs this — rather important — question.

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Ronan(rf) 07.02.13 at 10:12 pm

One of the most interesting books I’ve read on US counterinsurgency doctrine, (one of the only tbh), is Laleh Khalili’s Time in the Shadows (Particularly b/c she approaches it as an outsider from a critical perspective – not trying to find out what went wrong, how to improve it etc)
This is an article she wrote about it

http://www.merip.org/mer/mer255/new-old-classics-counterinsurgency

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Anderson 07.02.13 at 10:25 pm

Ronan, thanks for the link, tho this strikes me:

“Petraeus is in such favor because the surge is widely seen to have ‘worked,’ allowing the military and the media to shift their attention from Iraq to Afghanistan. The works of Kilcullen, Nagl and Sepp, along with Ricks, have been highly influential in establishing this metanarrative ….”

“While the surge has many champions, its master hagiographer is Tom Ricks, whose The Gamble is so complete in its advocacy of the new counterinsurgency orthodoxy that its cast of characters, narrative arc and subtle norms have passed into mainstream lore.”

That appeared in summer 2010, so one might wish to keep up with what Ricks has been writing since The Gamble. For ex (links not included):

“Did the Iraqi surge succeed? Yes, if you think its purpose was to enable the United States to find a way to get out of Iraq with a few shreds of dignity. (But that would be cynical!) No, if you think its purpose was to improve security in such a way that Iraq would have a political breakthrough.”

As for the author’s assertion that “Counterinsurgency is always an instrument of imperial rule,” … well, “always” is a strong word.

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Ronan(rf) 07.02.13 at 10:51 pm

There’s also this (which I havent read yet) that Marc Lynch claims is the best scholarly account of the surge

http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/22168/testing_the_surge.html

Anderson

I don’t read Ricks regularly, but I agree his position has undoubtedly become more subtle. Afaicr though he did lay it on thick in the early stages?

“As for the author’s assertion that “Counterinsurgency is always an instrument of imperial rule,” … well, “always” is a strong word.”

*Always* might be a little strong, with rare exceptions might be a better way of phrasing it I guess ; )
Anyway, I wouldnt support everything in the book (as I dont know the topic well enough. But it was interesting, I thought)

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Anderson 07.03.13 at 1:35 pm

82: Having seen things done so woefully wrong, Ricks was understandably excited to see someone trying to do things right. Tho I seem to recall even at the time, he was clear that the surge could not “work” solely as a military strategy. Possibly I’m just remembering his backpedaling.

Despite my lack of qualifications to pronounce on this stuff, I suspect that “imperialism” isn’t a very helpful framework to understand stuff like the Iraq occupation (or Vietnam for that matter). What the U.S. is up to today is not any better or wiser than what Britain was up to 100 years ago, but it seems materially different in ways that risk being obscured by Victorian labels.

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Ronan(rf) 07.03.13 at 1:46 pm

I agree generally with your point that ‘Imperialism’ isnt always the best framework to use when trying to understand any number of interventions etc (including a lot of those carried out by the British and Im sure other Imperial powers)
I don’t really mind its use though as, imo, there are arguments either way

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Ronan(rf) 07.03.13 at 1:53 pm

From my (admittedly very limitied) understanding a lot of British ‘imperialism’ was highly contingent and reactive, (private interests leading the way and the state becoming more and more involved as the initial settlers/interests began to expand, lobby government, demand protection etc) and driven by any number of interests, ideas and circumstances that complicate the idea of ‘imperialism’ that (I at least) would hold.
So I really dont know how to think about imperialism, or what it can mean *in general*, across time
Sounderstanding of the history of, particularly British, Imperialism is that it was built in significant part on private interests leading the way and the state becoming more and more involved as the initial settlers/interests began to expand, lobby government, demand protection etc
So, in short, I guess I’m confused..

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Ronan(rf) 07.03.13 at 1:55 pm

The above got mangled..line 8,9,10,11 shouldnt be there

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Barry 07.03.13 at 5:25 pm

Trader Joe 07.02.13 at 2:17 pm

” What a sanctimonious group. There’s hardly a person here who wouldn’t jump at the same deal if offered it. What should Petraeus have done said “oh no, just pay me like a first year junior…maybe a raise later if I prove worthy.””

Have a friend loan you a clue.

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Barry 07.03.13 at 5:26 pm

Ronan(rf) 07.02.13 at 3:59 pm

” Somewhat relatedly, I remember Niall Ferguson making the point in one of his books back in the day that General MaCarthur’s behaviour/support during the Korean War was the closest the US ever came to becoming a dictatorship. It struck me as a little hyperbolic, but any truth to it?”

As a general rule of thumb, you can stop reading once you see the author is Niall Ferguson. Please note that when he got too problematic, Truman fired his frankly useless *ss and he meekly came back home, tried to go into politics, and was overshadowed by Eisenhower without the latter even trying.

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Barry 07.03.13 at 5:29 pm

Ronan(rf) 07.03.13 at 1:46 pm

” I agree generally with your point that ‘Imperialism’ isnt always the best framework to use when trying to understand any number of interventions etc (including a lot of those carried out by the British and Im sure other Imperial powers)
I don’t really mind its use though as, imo, there are arguments either way”

It’s like ‘empire’; the word applies differently to the Greeks, Persians, Babylonians, Romans, Spanish, French, British and Americans. However, we don’t really have the sort of language we need.

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Ronan(rf) 07.03.13 at 10:16 pm

“As a general rule of thumb, you can stop reading once you see the author is Niall Ferguson. “

Yeah that would generally be my default, but I was just kind of hoping there might be something to it..

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