Together with the Jackson School, the Foundation recently hosted a foreign policy lecture given by a major scholar. The evening featured Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. The speaker’s invitation came about through Daniel Bessner, who serves as the first Anne H.H. and Kenneth B. Pyle Professor of American Foreign Policy. Foundation Board President Craig Gannett and Vice President Linda Mason Wilgis attended.
Professor Walt’s lecture centered on arguments from his recent book, The Hell of Good Intentions. He contends that over the past several decades, American foreign policy has been based on a strategy of liberal hegemony, which promotes democratic values, human rights, the rule of law, and open markets. Yet this approach of trying to remake the world in America’s image has resulted in the U.S. being overcommitted and involved in costly never-ending conflicts, as well as contributing to corruption, civilian deaths, and instability around the world. And he suggested that the entrenched foreign policy establishment (AKA “the Blob”) has perpetuated rather than redirected this failing strategy.
Professor Walt called for a new policy – offshore balancing. This approach would focus attention on balancing China within Asia, gradually reducing our military commitments in Europe, working toward eliminating our military presence and normalizing relations in the Middle East, getting out of the regime change business, and promoting our political values by setting a good example. He emphasized that he did not advocate for isolationism but for diplomatic, economic, and some military engagement. Finally, Professor Walt suggested that this approach had not only been effective earlier in the 20th century, but that many Americans also favor it today.
We are pleased to have provided support for this public event that brought an important foreign policy thinker to our Seattle audience.
This week the Jackson Foundation hosted a lunch to highlight graduate students at the University of Washington’s Jackson School who are benefiting from Jackson Foundation fellowship support. “These Jackson Fellowships represent the core of the Foundation’s long-time support for the School,” said John Hempelmann, Foundation president, in introducing the event. “Support for high-level graduate training in international affairs is fundamental to the Jackson legacy.”
It is always inspiring and somewhat humbling to meet the young graduate students who are benefiting from the Fellowships. They are an accomplished bunch, with many languages and research areas between them!
To help the School with a new initiative, the Foundation supports a PhD student in the Jackson School’s doctoral program. The program is pragmatic in nature – it is three years (rather than the customary five) and thematic (rather than just history, politics, or economics). Two recent PhD fellows, Deep Pal and Oded Oron, joined Foundation Board members for lunch. Deep studies Indian foreign and security policy and follows India’s interaction with China with great interest. Deep values the Jackson legacy in his work: “I was first exposed to Senator Jackson’s vision of forging closer alliances in Asia during my stint with the National Bureau of Asian Research in Washington, D.C. I believe this line of thought resonates in my work – at a time when Asia is undergoing profound changes, alliances between like-minded powers like India and the United States are going to be more important.”
Oded’s research focuses on the mobilization of irregular migrants such as guest workers, undocumented migrants, asylum seekers and refuges. His dissertation compares African migrants mobilizing in Israel with migrant movements in Washington State, so the Fellowship here has been a great fit. He is also deeply aware of the Jackson legacy in immigrant human rights, represented by the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and Jackson’s outspoken defense of the right to emigrate freely.
The Foundation also funds two Henry M. Jackson/Gordon Culp Fellows each year — one in Russian and East European Studies and one in China Studies at the School. Ross Doll, the China Fellow, and Celia Anne Baker, the Russia Fellow, engaged the crowd as they talked about their work and the way that the Fellowship has helped them move forward professionally. These two fields have been integral to the history of the Jackson School and were a key reason that Senator Jackson worked hard to support the School and its students during his Senate years. The Foundation is proud to continue that tradition.
Resat Kasaba, Jackson School Director, spoke of the Foundation’s unstinting commitment to the School for over 30 years: “In recent years we have introduced a new Ph.D. Program and a new Applied Master’s Program with Foundation support. These initiatives have enriched the Jackson School’s profile significantly. Thanks to our partnership, we have recruited top-notch students from around the world, strengthened our ties to the Pacific Northwest region, and established new relationships with the policy world in Washington D.C. Foundation support has been critical in keeping the School at the top of its game.”
This week marks 20 years for me at the helm of the Jackson Foundation. I’m proud and honored to have served as Executive Director for two decades. During my tenure, I’ve had the good fortune to work with my dedicated Board members and great staff on any number of meaningful activities.
My personal highlight reel includes a 1995 Jerusalem conference celebrating the ground-breaking Jackson-Vanik Amendment — which helped over a million Soviet Jews emigrate from the USSR. That conference attracted hundreds of Soviet Jewish emigres now living in Israel as well as a host of Israeli and American politicians, including the late Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin, who was assassinated only months later. Since I wrote my Master’s thesis on Senator Jackson’s legislation and the story behind it, that conference had tremendous significance for me. The famous Jewish dissident from the Soviet era, Natan Sharansky, worked closely with us on the conference, and our Chairman, Helen Jackson, joined us in Jerusalem. It was unforgettable.
I’ve also reflected on the role that the Foundation has played to strengthen the Jackson School at the University of Washington. Dozens of policy conferences, graduate fellowships, the Jackson Professorship, the Golub Chair, lecture series, the new PhD program, the Helen Jackson Chair in Human Rights – we’ve helped usher in key changes at the Jackson School. As a graduate of the School, it has meant a lot to me to help the University do what it does best: provide first-class education to young people, in this case our future leaders in international policy. It has been a richly rewarding relationship, one that makes me highly value the intellectual depth of the faculty at the Jackson School.
We started supporting human rights in Russia over 20 years ago – after the break-up of the Soviet Union. In the more than two decades since, we’ve watched the ups and downs of civil society in Russia with alarm, and our grant making and programs have changed dramatically in response to events. That’s a sadness to remark upon, given the downward trend in rights under Putin’s Russia. We are still raising our voice on that front, however! Last year we brought a group of civil society leaders from Russia to Seattle and Washington, DC under a grant from the U.S. State Department. This trip was inspirational for the delegation and continues to provide encouragement and ideas for these dedicated individuals back in Russia today.
Lately we have two new programs which have galvanized the Board and staff: the first is helping to lend our resources and intellectual fire-power to the climate change world, focusing particularly on the national and global security implications for the U.S. around climate. The Jackson name lends credence and balance to discussions on this critical issue. We are helping to leverage our work by highlighting the military viewpoint and bringing other foundations to the table. This is a new area for me and it has been wonderful to be challenged to learn more about the climate field.
Second, we have launched an initiative to train a new generation of Jackson-inspired young people, with the launch of the Jackson Leadership Fellows Program. It’s been invigorating to choose and begin to mentor the eight outstanding young professionals who comprise our first class here in Seattle. I’ve been energized by my interactions with each of them and feel it is one of the most exciting initiatives that the Foundation has embarked upon.
It’s easy for me to think of the extended Jackson community as a family – one that includes our Board members, past and present, as well as former and current staff members of the Foundation, and “Scoop’s Troops” – those who worked with Jackson on his own staff or on one of his committee staff positions. It also comprises our many partners and grantees over the years, at the Jackson School, the National Bureau of Asian Research, the Kennan Institute, City Club Seattle, and countless other colleagues. It’s an engaging group and one that has a remarkable cohesion because of the respect for Senator Jackson that unites everyone. It has made this a great place to work.
One thing I’ve learned at the Foundation over the course of the last twenty years– while the specific programs may change, the work in international affairs, environment and energy, human rights and public service still are highly relevant in today’s world.
I look forward to working together with all of you to carry on the Jackson legacy. I hope you’ll get in touch.
Our culture celebrates our sports heroes – from Michael Jordan to Derek Jeter to Kobe Bryant. We marvel at their ability to play on, through pain and years, achieving fame and success. Few of us have had the opportunity to publicly celebrate the careers of other, less famous giants in their fields. I’m delighted to cast the spotlight on one such unsung hero, Professor Kenneth B. Pyle, longtime historian and teacher at the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies. Ken – retiring after 51 consecutive years of teaching, which certainly qualifies him for MVP – has won numerous teaching awards over the years. Equally important, he’s touched the lives and shaped the scholarship of thousands of young minds at the University. His students speak of him fondly, whether they now serve in the State Department or teach at other universities around the nation.
I’ve had the good fortune to have had Dr. Pyle on the Jackson Foundation Board of Governors during my tenure on the staff. He was a founding member of our Board, having forged a close alliance with Senator Jackson in the days when Ken headed what was to become the Jackson School, and Jackson sought Ken out for advice on China and U.S. foreign policy toward Asia. Ken has spoken movingly of that seminal relationship, which began with Senator Jackson dropping by Ken’s office at the U.W. and peppering him with questions for two hours. Jackson and Pyle shared a concern that there was a national shortage of people who truly understood the workings of Asian and Slavic countries, and both believed that an immersion in the study of these areas was critical to achieve an understanding in U.S.-China and U.S.-Soviet relations. From that moment forward, Scoop and Ken collaborated – in enhancing international studies at the University, in traveling to China together in the early days of détente with China, and in mentoring young students.
We at the Jackson Foundation value the role that Professor Pyle has played at the Jackson School and at the University of Washington for the past 50-plus years. We were delighted to name a recent professorship at the Jackson School in American foreign policy in honor of Anne H. H. and Kenneth B. Pyle out of respect and recognition of Ken’s major achievements in his field and his leadership of the Jackson School, and of his wife Anne’s integral partnership with Ken in that success.At the end of this month, there will be a public program to celebrate the career of Ken Pyle. We invite you to join us for this substantive program, featuring distinguished professor T.J. Pempel, University of California Berkeley, and many top-level colleagues from the Jackson School.
Last week the Jackson Foundation partnered with the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington and the Washington DC-based Woodrow Wilson Center on a public conference on the future direction of international affairs education and foreign language study. The conference attracted an overflow crowd in Washington, DC interested in exploring how to bridge the gap between academia and policy and how to ensure that this generation of students is being trained for our nation’s future foreign policy needs.
The conference also wrestled with diminished U.S. government funding since the end of the Cold War for both area studies and foreign language support. Reduced resources worried many: Bob Galucci, President of the MacArthur Foundation, stated in his keynote address that declining funding hurts America’s readiness in times of crisis: “This is a time when policymakers need more help than ever to understand the world.” He counseled, “You can’t google judgment. There is no substitute for people who know the country.”
Academics from the Jackson School have been on the forefront of innovation in this field and the conference highlighted this trend. Saadia Pekannen, associate director of the Jackson School and director of the School’s new PhD program, described how the PhD program will educate “public intellectuals” to be effective in the real world. The new program will emphasize training to ensure that students can communicate outside the academy and tackle pragmatic, policy concerns.
The conference also showcased the recent Ukraine crisis as a prime example of how in-depth knowledge of Russia’s politics and history is critical to policymakers, military leaders and the business community. While some languages and area study might occasionally seem arcane, one never knows where the next headline crisis will hit. Support for ongoing scholarship and language study means our country will be prepared. Colonel Eric Larson, director of the U.S. Army’s Foreign Area Officer Program, produces the military affairs specialists and linguists for the Department of Defense and embassies and commands all over the world. Speaking to an audience that included the heads of many major university programs on international affairs, Colonel Larson reiterated the importance of the work: “Your influence is felt on a daily basis,” he concluded.