March 1, 2006
The Newspaper of the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
Volume 5 No. 2
Got game? I don’t BY BEN DEERING I’m George H i,Costanza. I’m balding, unemployed and I live with my parents. No, I’m Ben Deering, I’m not balding much - and I think I’m a nifty guy… or at least my Mom says I am.
Nerds need lovin' too. Despite being a tall, blonde haired, blue-eyed guy, though, I have no prospects at SAIS. Are you like me? Do you have no game at SAIS? What is it about SAIS, or me, that leaves me at home alone on Saturday nights? I have a theory. I think the reason I get no lovin’ is that I’m a Caucasian American male who can’t dance. All I know about dancing I learned from Footloose, Dirty Dancing, and Napoleon Dynamite. Now girls, tell me if I’m right. From my studies, I think the lovely ladies of SAIS only like foreign guys, who can dance – salsa dancing specifically. I guess it’s really my fault. I don’t know the difference between a Merlot and a Shiraz. Actually, I just had to google wines to be able to cite two. I don’t get the jokes in Sideways, but I’m working on it. I’ve never even ordered a martini! I coach youth soccer and can tell you the difference between a Pilsner, Porter, or Stout, but, alas, I can’t dance. Also, girls don’t seem to like hanging with me at my
favorite bar - The Front Page. Maybe I need to start going to Café Citron and drinking mojitos. Or, maybe it’s my concentration: energy security. Nope, nothing sexy about that. Maybe I should switch to IDev. Yeah, I-Dev! That’s where all the women are. I should stop thinking about how to exhaust the developing world’s resources and focus on empowering the impoverished and saving the planet. Maybe I should learn to cook. My skills with a microwave, while masterful, just aren’t cutting it. I know, along with that whole salsa dancing and mojito drinking thing, I’ll learn to make a mean paella. And the beer pong Olympics I organized – while fun - were poorly attended by girls, so maybe I’ll host some dinner parties. Let’s see, where else have I gone wrong. Clothes! Clothes make the man, right? It could start with the baseball cap and the Nikes. Better ditch those for some tight dark pants and a pair of swanky shoes or leather dress boots. But who am I kidding, I know more about the new J.Crew line than the new Armani line. Actually, I know the most about the new Addidas soccer warm-ups. While I’m on the topic of sports, I think I should stop talking about baseball and fantasy football. I am the only one at SAIS who even knew who was playing in the Super Bowl, let alone bothered to watch it. Gee, I hope no one watched it together, or else it means I missed out on some pretty fun Super Bowl parties. But eating Domino’s alone on my couch in sweatpants was fun. Sort of. I should probably take off my hat and put in some “product.” All those guys from Continued on page 4
Former CIA Director James Woolsey speaks in Kenney Auditorium at a lecture cosponsored by the Dwight Eisenhower National Security Series.
SOUTH PARK SE C U RI T Y Former CIA Director James Woolsey speaks at SAIS BY NIKOS TSAFOS
AIS should turn over public diplomacy in the Arab world to Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park. The use of satire is both a legitimate and necessary tool in undermining theocracy (in a pre Danish-cartoon world, of course). Who would publicly advocate such outlandish ideas? Former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey did in a speech at SAIS in January. Mr. Woolsey, who served as CIA director from 1993 to 1995, delivered the inaugural lecture of the SAIS Intelligence Forum in a speech titled “The Long War of the 21st Century: How We Must Fight It.” In the talk, Mr. Woolsey outlined his conception of the enemy that America is confronting, and shared his ideas about how to deal with this new adversary. Today’s enemy is composed of “three totalitarian theocratic movements,” he said. The first is a Shia strand that emerges from Tehran with close ties to Hezbollah. The other two are Sunni movements—the Salafist jihadis such
as al-Qaeda, and the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia. Not only do they share a fanatical hostility towards Sufi Muslims, Shiite Muslims, Jews, Christians, and democracy to name a few, but they also differ on who should be in charge. These three movements, Mr. Woolsey said, form a “shifting and complex kaleidoscope,” insofar as their internal dynamic and inter-relationships are concerned. This new adversary, he said, poses a special threat as it differs radically from the Soviet Union of the Cold War era, the formative experience for much of today’s intelligence community. Our ability to recruit spies is diminished, he said, and there is no longer an opportunity to sit down and reason with the enemy in negotiations and conferences. Nor is the concept of deterrence applicable against those whose are willing to risk it all and who lack a return address. In short, what got the West through the Cold War can not work anymore. According to Mr. Woolsey, this new war needs to be fought on three lev-
els: the first is a gradual move to alternative energy so that America can “at least stop paying” for the war. “This is the first war…the United States has ever fought in which one government financed both sides. We borrow $250 billion a year, a billion dollars every working day approximately, to import oil.” This is money, he added, that ultimately finds its way into the pockets of those whose agenda it is to hurt the United States. The second part of this strategy, Mr. Woolsey said, is to reorient the work of the intelligence community. It would be useful to shift focus to NonOfficial Cover (NOC) operatives who can blend into the societies America needs to penetrate and channel useful information back home. Additionally, America should be more willing to talk to people, at home and abroad, and to follow up on simple and mundane pieces of information which may prove essential in apprehending suspects and foiling potential attacks. “To connect dots we have to be able to see them,” Mr. Woolsey said, Continued on page 4
THE SAIS OBSERVER
March 1, 2006
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS
What you don’t know about me… BY UTPAL MISRA
Comeback mountin’ A new team of editors has taken over the SAIS Observer. Seriously: it was a takeover. And it was hostile. That’s how the new SAIS Observer rolls. Some perished and many are bloody. But it was for the good of the people. Between you and us, we don’t think our predecessors appreciated the solemn responsibility that is running the most prominent public organ of the top-ranked school of international relations in the country. We consider the previous team’s parochial stewardship to be an international affair, a hairy pock mark upon this venerable institution.
If you spotted this blonde beauty around campus, you might have thought, “hmm…she has a sweet smile”. But she’s got a lot more “sweet” than just a smile. Especially if you are the kind with a sweet tooth.
Carrie Schenkel Conflict Management MA-4
Your new editors – Eric Jaffe, Jon Raviv, and Soledad Birnbaum - are an opinionated, ambitious, and serious group. A New Triad if you will—and you will. We intend to feature exclusively SAIScentric coverage. We will shine a thousand points of light upon important SAIS events, issues, and developments that you—the readership—may not be aware of. And, of course, our newspaper will make you laugh. You can even laugh at us, not with us. That’s okay. We’re desperate. Despite our high station as semi-professional media, we are editors with humility. We wish to work with you, to take your unwashed, leathery hands in our gloved ones. Thus, an invitation: if you have a salacious or otherwise compelling story, we’d like you to write about it for the Observer. Or call us and tell it to us over the phone. We’ll write it for you. We’ll make you famous.
This quiet Japanese man doesn’t need a bookmark because he has the special gift of remembering exactly where he left his readings.
Hiroaki Oe International Development MA-2
“I remember unconsciously where I was on in the book by page number,” he says. Wouldn’t we all love to have this talent? While Hiro hails from a family of
Your classic femme fatale: brains, beauty, ambition, talent, and charm - she has it all.
Whether you find The Observer to be educational, inspirational, or pure literary gold, we want you to take a second out of your busy day to read it. Unless you can’t read. In which case, your parents are probably rich alumni, and we’d like to meet them.
The SAIS Observer
Carrie is a professional cake decorator with a fledgling cake decoration business. Yes, she man-
Tatiana Lintouskayat IR - General MA-4
The recipient of a competitive State Department fellowship, Tatiana has hobbies ranging from cooking to figure skating. She has even represented the Belarusian delegation as a diplomat across
Eric Jaffe Jon Raviv Soledad Birnbaum Contibutors Ben Deering Santiago Florez Todd Holland Leslie Hough Erica Kaster Alex Kliment Adam Mendelson Utpal Misra Brice Richards Dan Tobin Nikos Tsafos Kate Turner Ian Walker J ames War n er The SAIS Observer is an international affairs news monthly written, edited, and produced by the students of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of The Johns Hopkins University. SAIS students, faculty and members of the administration at the Washington, D.C. campus, Bologna campus, and the Hopkins-Nanjing Center are encouraged to submit articles, letters to the editor, photographs, cartoons and other items for consideration. Material for consideration or inquiries may be submitted to : firstname.lastname@example.org. The SAIS Observer is an approved SAIS student organization. Opinions expressed in the SAIS Observer are not necessarily the views of the editors, SAIS, or the University.
The Observer welcomes accolades, denials, comments, critiques, and hate mail at email@example.com.
ages to pull it off along with all the reading, presentations, and papers... and you thought you were smart, huh?
passion has unfortunately taken a back seat for the time-being while she concentrates on making it to the State Department.
Check out her website at www.icedbycarrie.com to learn more about this SAISer who can bake. What? You can boil eggs, too? Well, listen to this. Carrie is also a competitive ballroom dancer! This
farmers, this economics graduate has worked as a business consultant and a banker. He hopes to work in development “as a protocol to connect local needs, policy and business.”
“I’ll go back to it once I have my life back,” she says.
Won’t we all be
proud to have a fellow SAISer in the government who bakes and dances?
est enough to say that he has not done much. But, he has evidently done more mountain climbing and scuba diving than most of us. And of course Hiro loves photography. If you check
Hiro has the knack for the heights and the depths. He climbs, dives, and is mod-
out his volumes of photo
yourself, as you might learn how to cook borscht, a popular Belarusian dish from the lovely lass herself!
This is a woman of words, though she is also a lithesome beauty who writes German poetry in her spare time. A thrilling combination: slim, deadly smart, and an all-around talented package. How can someone be so incredibly lucky? You can figure that out for
albums, you’ll realize why he is worth mentioning.
If you are fortunate she might very well teach you how to cook while doing the tango. Arriba! Utpal Misra is a 1st year M.A. student concentrating in South Asia studies.
By the numbers BY TODD HOLLAND Coldest day ever recorded in Washington, D.C.: -10°F (-23° C) in 1982 First “official” Winter Olympics ever held: 1928 in St. Moritz, Switzerland Star of first Winter Olympics: 15 year old Sonja Henie of Norway won three gold medals in figure skating becoming the first international female sports star Career that Russian figure skating coach Alexei Mishin thinks Soviet women are best suited for: building railroad tracks in Siberia Most valuable lottery ticket in U.S. history: Bought in Nebraska in February 2006 and worth $365 million Number of meatpackers participating in “office” pool that bought the winning ticket: 8
Number of years Bollywood film star Salman Khan is going to jail for killing a rare breed of deer: 1 Number of times Saddam Hussein should be executed each day, according to Iraq’s new president: 20 Number of U.S. Generals in Iraq using private security companies for own protection: 4 Chance that a Briton has bought a book “solely to look intelligent”: 33%
Number of Canadian work permits granted since 1998 to stem a labor shortage in “exotic dancing:” 2,000 Percentage of questions that SAIS students asked Donald Rumsfeld that Fox News declared were “dumb:” 100% Last time a sitting U.S. vice-president shot someone while in office: July 11th, 1804. Aaron Burr fatally shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel
Average number of mass protests in China each day: 200 Percentage change last year in foreign direct investment in China: 2.1 Chance that an airliner has dangerous levels of disease-causing pathogens in its drinking water: 14% Maximum hair length for North Korean men, in centimeters, as prescribed by state media: 5 Extra “baldness allowance” in centimeters to men over 50: 2
Sources: Yahoo News, Harper's Index, Google, and Todd Holland's imagination.
Todd Halland is a 2nd year M.A. student concentrating in Western Hemisphere/ Latin American Studies.
March 1, 2006
THE SAIS OBSERVER
Hunting the truthy grain: the limey in DC BY IAN WALKER pants, if I may “Y our say so, are... bold.” The stereotyped Briton cries “Curses!” and looks down at his waistline, expecting to see his bright red thong poking out. The Briton living in Washington, however, realises the fashion critic refers to his bright red linen trousers. Not that I own a pair.
I always knew the U.S. was “dangerous,” in the same way a small child is vaguely afraid to put a plastic bag over his head. I knew there were 859 murders in the UK in 2004; in the same period there were 198 in DC alone. When I stuck my head in the bag to study, I expe-
rienced a wave of breathless panic but soon realised there were breathing holes. It was essentially safe, though a week after my arrival a young professional was murdered one hundred metres from our house while we enjoyed a cool evening beer on the front porch. My local street revealed its true colours: the vibrant night time throng on the pavements, perambulating to a soundtrack of gently thumping neon salsa, was no more. The SUV boom boxes pounded harshly while groups of young men idled together; those unlucky enough not to be members of the pack scurried past with cowed heads. Even walking fifty metres down my street, if at night, made me paranoid. I even paused before taking unwanted books from outside a house in broad daylight. Were those lace curtains twitching? Was Granny Jolene waiting for me to take the bait so she could pump me full of hot lead? Or, so she could offer me some freshly baked cookies? I pulled the bag off my sweaty head some weeks later and saw immediately that the truth, as ever, lay somewhere in the middle. Jolene had a gun, but it was loaded with cookie dough. Our Jolene is not alone: the U.S. is well armed. Firearms are everywhere, from behind the bourbon-heavy drinks cabinet to the hip of the undertrained and overweight Bob Slob, Mall Safety Officer. It’s unnerving, and contrasts with Britain: after a school massacre in 1995, all civilian firearms were banned except shotguns, and the Great Britain shooting team now crosses the Channel to practice. We don’t even arm the majority of our policemen, while the NRA campaigns effectively for gun liberalisation both here and abroad (they
advised Brazil’s gun lobby in a recent referendum). Yet whether guns kill people or people kill people (or both?), I enjoyed machine-gunning bits of paper in the university reserves and admit I wouldn’t mind trying it here. So many flags! On a windy day, you could be forgiven for imagining yourself in a dreadful HBO serial about an international crisis, involving China but set in Washington. Fluttering crisply, every thwup of the cloth and ting of the rope on the pole sets a-glistening the eye of another patriot. They cry because they care: national self-love is not comprehensive, but patriotism is prevalent. There are more Union Jacks on fighetto sweaters and Italian handbags than on British flagpoles and homes. Americans are generally much prouder of itself than the UK is. In some cases this is rightful, in others it’s blind tribalism. Yet strangely, in his State of the Nation Address President Bush spoke harshly of a country he was worried about, a country whose freedom-loving people are ruled and oppressed by a religious elite. I was confused. Wait, he meant Iran! Whoops. I have learnt to make generalisations about America at my own peril. Washington is not “Poor, Black And Dangerous,” nor is it “The Glorious Capital Of Freedom’s Champion.” It’s a city like many others, and it is you, the freewilled inhabitant, who primarily determines your experience. Living here is visceral confirmation of America’s size, youth, wealth, and power. Beyond this understanding,
however, sweeping statements (whether grovel or groan) reveal the ignorance of the speaker more than the existential nature of
Americans. There is a grain of truth in every stereotype, but a lot more than just grain in the American pie.
Ian Walker is a 2nd year M.A. student concentrating in Strategic Studies.
When I moved from London to Washington, the stereotypes evaporated but their grain of truth remained. Although never quite as exasperated as Darth Helmet in Space Balls (“it takes ages to walk anywhere on this ship!”), I realise much in America is simply bigger, from cinema seating to refrigerators. Jeffrey Dahmer would have found storage difficult in Britain. Convenience is often extreme, but tinged with wastefulness. My favourite example is the Swiffer: its static-charged microfibre dust pickup technology not only exemplifies U.S. innovation, it really makes cleaning the floor easy. Depressingly, though, you bin them afterwards; behold the slimy underbelly of U.S. consumerism. The British could certainly do with a spot of U.S. packaging expertise, however: applying Dr. Guillotine’s genius to cling film containers has made sealing up my poorly-cooked leftovers so much easier, if potentially lethal.
Every morning, after taking a ginormous wee, Ian Walker salutes this flag.
The supposedly hilarious linguistic differences between London and Washington are more superficial than you might think. The imperious sounding two-tone grunt often emitted in response to a “thank you” soon morphs into a less formal version of “you’re welcome.” The desire for knowledge inherent in “how are you?” leaches away. “Have a nice day” fades to nothing. I tittered when The Simpsons featured a men’s magazine called “Granny Fanny.” When I emerge from the loo and announce how relieved I feel after my “ginormous wee,” I know I am guaranteed to activate the laughter track. Yet language differences are neither a barrier nor a source of unending amusement, as per the stereotype.
THE SAIS OBSERVER
March 1, 2006
Economic issues: catering to the masses BY JON RAVIV Sam. Sam studied economics as M eetan undergraduate, and has spent the last two years in the Peace Corps in a nondescript, yet assuredly in-need country. He does not like economics anymore, and prefers to focus on his regional study at SAIS. Economics is not hard and that’s why he likes it. Keep it simple, stick to pictures and stay away from numbers, so Sam can read about the social implications of his favorite country’s fourth civil war.
One of the main challenges for the Economics Department is to inject an appropriate set of analytical math tools into their offerings. The Student Government Association sponsored an “Economics Survey” in June of last year, partly at the request of students who found their economics classes to be “too easy” or not analytical enough. Results showed that 46% of those surveyed wanted the
adjunct professors should not be relied upon to teach essential introductory courses. The “course market” at SAIS could be better understood through the dissemination of more information, since better information creates freer markets, and freer markets produce better outcomes. When SAIS students pick classes, they have no formal course catalog to guide
Meet Steve. Once politically apathetic, Steve studied Russian literature in college. After he graduated, Steve scored a gig writing for a small English-language independent magazine in Moscow. For better or worse, the magazine was shut down after three years by a government that didn’t agree with an article that compared Orwell’s “thought police” to the state television stations, lovingly referred to as “Putin’s Puppets.” Steve was angry and no longer apathetic. He lacked economics and math skills, but he came to SAIS to study hard and eventually make a difference. Whatever that means.
Continued from page 1 Bologna seem to have spiky, slicked hair. I guess they don’t rely on the inevitable grease buildup from a few days without showering. Also, I think I need some glasses. I don’t wear glasses, but all the cool people have those nice rectangular ones. Sometimes I think they make guys look like Tina Fey, but what do I know? I wonder if they sell them without prescription lenses. What’s left? Music! “Hey, Baby! I got the new Journey Greatest Hits CD!” doesn’t get them back to my pad. What’s this “House music” the Bolognese speak of? I heard someone say something about some Buddha Club…but I’m Methodist. I think I need to change where I spend my holidays too. I’ve partied at Dewey Beach, but where’s Ibiza? My passport doesn’t have all those cool stickers on it like everyone else’s. What are those? I had a Eurorail pass in col-
lege. Western Europe was awesome! I was able to drink underage! I don’t remember Le Louvre or L’Alhambra as I was too hung over those days, but doesn’t that count as foreign travel? I see students with those “Same Same” shirts on. What do those mean? Lastly, I think I need a suave foreign accent. This guy in my econ class has a fun Austrian accent… or is that Australian? I always get those confused! Being a native English speaker from Maryland sucks. No accent whatsoever. Even a Boston or Bronx accent would be better. When I say “wicked” all you notice is my speech impediment. Oh, well. Guess I’ll just go back to the Thursday night meat market at Front Page where those silly George Washington coeds actually think I’m sophisticated. Ben Deering is a 2nd year M.A. student concentrating in International Policy.
To put it in economic terms, one can pose a theoretical question whether it is better to pool or separate the equilibrium? Is one product for everyone’s consumption superior to having incremental differences in preferences and skills? Each approach has its upsides and downsides, and can be equally successful in the marketplace. The upcoming plan, involving dual tracks for the required economics courses, begins this Pre-Term with Microeconomics. The Department will offer two courses of Micro – one that is clearly more math-oriented than the other. The dual-tracking will also affect International Monetary and Trade Theory, where same-flavor classes will have standard syllabi and textbooks. The Department will also offer enough classes to encourage all SAIS students to finish their four economics core requirements by their third semester.
Meet Sarah. Sarah majored in applied mathematics as an undergraduate. Sarah lists her master’s as being in International Economics rather than International Relations. For her, to understand social history and cultural characteristics is important, but secondary. Sarah is bored in Where does your indifference curve lie? her core econ class and accuses her classmates of being inferior to her “mathlete” SAIS Economics Program to be more rig- their decisions. Armed only with a friends back in high school. orous, while only 18% wanted to see it list of courses and a large recruiting While these caricatures do not actually toned down. In light of that survey, and in brochure which features course exist at SAIS, they demonstrate the diver- light of continuing concerns over the char- descriptions of dubious accuracy, stusity in experience and background of the acter of the SAIS Economics Program, the dents blindly fumble through registraschool’s students. In spite of this, each Administration and Department are trying tion. If a course catalog could clearly state that that Section A would be must struggle to satisfy the same rigorous to improve the program. more analytical, while Section B economics requirement. Dean John The problem now is not only how rigorous the would be more theoretical, students Harrington, Associate Dean of Academic classes should be, but how to ensure that curricuwould be able to more intelligently Affairs, points out that SAIS has always lums are standardized. To what extent should select courses. had “a diverse student body that must [be] introductory courses’ syllabi be standardized, prepared to do economics.” This is not only a problem for SAIS students, but for and how much control should the department Professor Bodnar, the head of the students at any International Relations exert to ensure the same level of difficulty International Economics Department, graduate program. Its small stature, limit- among identical courses taught by different pro- helped create this semester’s Econometrics plan. Clearly described in all catalogs and ed course offerings, and diverse student fessors? by both professors, the course comes in backgrounds constrain SAIS’s ability to Some suggestions have been raised in two “flavors,” one with more math than cater to everyone at the same time. response to these questions. Surely the other. The “spicier” class is different,
Got game? I dont
but not necessarily better or worse. The diversifying advantage enables different students to learn Econometrics, emphasizing the development of their preferred skills.
Still, Harrington maintains that “one reason that students find economics hard is a weak math background.” Clearly, SAIS needs to bring students up to speed on basic math skills. To that end, every PreTerm student will be sent Dean Harrington’s pre-calculus DVDs, and time will again be set aside during the first week of Pre-Term to learn the material. There is also a tentative plan to have a sequel - a calculus DVD - ready for students who express interest. Bodnar says, “Rumor is spreading that we’re trying to make it all harder. Not true. We want to create opportunities for students who want more rigor to get it…not meaning that everyone has to do it.” It is certainly hard to make change in an academic program that is only two years long, but when the complaints have been as recurring as these, the solutions should be implemented quickly. Jon Raviv is Editor of the SAIS Observer.
South Park Security Continued from page 1 expressing in understandable terms the relationship between accessing information and processing it. Intelligence aside, America needs to “pay a lot more attention” to the resilience of its national infrastructure, he added. “On 9/11, terrorists understood better than we…what could be done with flimsy cockpit doors. And the problem is that there are the functional equivalents of flimsy cockpit doors throughout much of our infrastructure.” The electricity grid which caused a blackout in the northeast United States in 2003, he said, is a perfect example of a vulnerable system that needs to be strengthened.
The third part of Mr. Woolsey’s strategy is a need to acknowledge that America cannot “beat something with nothing.” He continued, “Against a highly ideological set of enemies, for whom Jihad and bliss in heaven … are operating principles … without an alternative, we are in fact trying to fight something with nothing.” The message that America has conveyed to these people in the Middle East, that their role is to be “polite gas-filling station attendants and nothing else,” is insufficient. America needs to offer democracy and the rule of law, to provide an alternative future that is not as bleak as the past and which advocates for freedom and self-respect in a new system of government.
“Generally the way to bet with respect to countries staying at peace with one another is an overall long-term movement toward democracy and the rule of law,” Mr. Woolsey said. He asserted what America’s message to the autocrats in the Middle East ought to be: “we’d love to have you with us; but if not, you do have something to worry about, because we’re finally awake … and we’re on the side of those whom you most fear: your own people.” Mr. Woolsey did not specify whether that message should be left to Matt Stone and Trey Parker to communicate. Nikos Tsafos is a 1st year M.A. student concentrating in International Energy and Middle East Studies.
THE SAIS OBSERVER
March 1, 2006
What SAIS must do for our careers BY DAN TOBIN Dan Tobin ’05 was President of the SGA and facilitated the creation of the career clubs at SAIS. A version of this article was printed in the March 2005 issue of the SAIS Observer and represents the author’s personal views, not those of the SGA or Observer. Mr. Tobin agreed to let the Editors re-publish the piece, and while some of its suggestions have been adopted, it identifies problems still worthy of discussion. Next month’s paper will feature a report on the progress that SAIS has made to address the issues this article raises. ust a year ago, SAIS Dean Jessica Einhorn noted at an Alumni Council Meeting that, “SAIS doesn’t prepare you for your first job after graduation, but for your third job.” If this is indeed SAIS’ mission, it has failed.
SAIS may not be a business school, but it does offer a professional degree for which many students take on huge debts to cover the $85,000 cost of tuition and expenses. What’s more, according to a survey conducted last spring, 90 percent of SAIS students are seeking to transition to a new career, and 83 percent lack experience in the new field we hope to enter. That means that what we do at SAIS - the specific skill-building classes we take, the internships we take on, and the ways we learn to identify and market ourselves to employers - all have enormous consequences not only for our individual successes, but also for SAIS’ reputation. When students don’t credit SAIS with their
Distinguished SAIS alumni Wolf Blitzer ‘72, Bandar bin-Sultan ‘82, and Nicholas Burns ‘80. first job offer, they won’t credit SAIS with their long-term success, and that means that they won’t be as inclined to contribute either time or money to SAIS throughout their lives. Worse, their initial career confusion could prejudice others against the professionalism of SAIS graduates. Judging by the comments of many SAIS alumni, particularly those who interacted with students during the 2005 New York Career Trek, this is a serious challenge. In 2003, only 42% of second-year students had jobs by graduation. That alarming data spurred the 2004 SGA, the Career Services (CS) staff, and the Dean’s office to action. The SGA Career Services Committee drew
up a plan for student-led career clubs to promote professional development by Yet these changes, while beneficial, miss linking students and alumni. CS hired a the point. The low rate of employment team of three students with consulting among graduating SAIS students is not the experience to conduct a survey to assess fault simply of CS or student culture. The students’ career goals and to benchmark shortcomings encompass everything from SAIS’ CS against its counterparts at com- admissions to academic requirements. petitor schools. As a result of what they That’s why Dean Einhorn has approved a learned, the administration took several new committee comprising three tenured steps. First, Dean Einhorn approved a new faculty, three students, the Dean of Student CS staff member responsible exclusively Affairs, and the directors of the offices of for employer outreach. Second, CS devel- Admissions and CS. The committee will oped a standardized SAIS resume tem- examine what kinds of larger structural plate, and launched an effort to identify barriers exist to improve professional students’ career interests early in their time development at SAIS. In the remainder of at SAIS and to channel them into the new career clubs. Continued on page 6
Out of Africa(ns) BY ERICA KASTER year SAIS awards a E ach modest fellowship to an African student who intends to work in Africa after graduation. Last year, the competition was so intense that zero students qualified for, or received the award. The School tried to slip the check to Aaron Roth, a tall white State Department baby born in Kenya. When he pointed out the mistake, the administration rescinded the offer. This year’s class has not fared much better. After scouring some 54 African countries with minimal recruitment tools, the school attracted only one Nigerian— who had been living right here in the States—to whom it awarded Roth’s almost-fellowship. When I met the recipient, Omo Musa, last year, she seemed just as vexed as I was. Where are the Africans at this school? The dearth of students from an entire content at a school dedicated to the study of International Relations seemed suspect. I sniffed around the admissions office and discovered that this year SAIS’s DC campus accepted five African students for admis-
sion, of whom only Musa enrolled. In comparison, at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, eighteen out of 350 students hold African citizenship from ten different countries. Meanwhile, at SAIS’ DC campus, three out of 607 students hold African citizenship, while at the Bologna campus four out of 180 are African. Why is this the case? Quite simply, SAIS lacks funding to distribute financial aid, a robust recruitment program, and a strong African studies program. Of more than 250 endowed fellowships from which mostly second-year students benefit, only two are Africarelated. General fellowship funds are traditionally spread very thin. To offer an African student enough aid to attend SAIS might leave multiple first-years drowning in debt next year. Professor Khadiagala, acting— and soon departing—Director of African Studies, asserted that in his years at SAIS since the mid1980s, he could not recall more than ten African students ever enrolled at the same time at the DC campus. As tuition soars, he said, few can afford classes here, and increasing numbers of African-born students were in fact raised in the U.S. Some
regional programs have managed through alumni and other connections to accumulate substantial slush funds that are used in part to recruit and fund financially challenged students’ studies at SAIS. The uncertainty surrounding the future of the African Studies Department in recent years has made significant fundraising and recruitment exercises nearly impossible. But Khadiagala emphasized that the diversity of perspective brought by African students is good for the entire School, not just one department.
among the student body should be more important to the administration. This issue needs important people—namely the students—to object to the status quo.
Erica Kaster is a 1st year M.A. student concentrating in International Development.
It appears that few at SAIS’s DC campus have dropped a book or their happy-hour Corona to do anything about the fact that the African perspective here is being ignored. Though administrators are making important progress to improve the school in myriad ways, one gets the impression that recruiting African students to study here is not a high priority. Dean Einhorn is reportedly on the lookout for African scholars who might attract more African students. New Admissions Director Andy Burns plans to seriously reAfrica takes up 20% of the world's land area, 12% evaluate and adjust SAIS’ recruitof the global population, and just over 0.5% of ment in African countries. But to SAIS' population. enhance international diversity
March 1, 2006
THE SAIS OBSERVER
Valiente Valentin (Brave Valentin) BY SANTIAGO FLOREZ years ago, Valentin Villareal was T wenty-six packing his bags at his house in the Bolivian capital La Paz for a visit to the United States. When saying his goodbyes to Francisco, his two year-old son, he never thought that it would be over two decades before he saw his child again. But Valentin, who plays the role of security guard, bus driver, and grass cutter at SAIS, intended to visit his cousin in Washington, DC. He meant to stay for a few months, learn English, and make money to return home. As the deadline approached, he decided that staying on – for a little bit – was worth the extra money he could earn. “The work I had gave me the money I needed to help my family in Bolivia…these were enough reasons to stay some extra time. What I never tought was that the extra time would turn out to be more than two and a half decades.” While he lived in a small room for two years in Columbia Heights, Valentin felt lonely and sad. He missed his wife, Cristina, and Francisco. But he did not want to return to his old job in Bolivia as a clerkman in a hardware store. The money he made there was not enough to provide the life he wanted for his son. So Valentin considered whether to bring his family to America. Cristina was able to get a tourist visa to enter the country, but Francisco’s paperwork was denied by American officials which baffled Valentin. A difficult decision about what would be the best for the family, Cristina ultimately opted to come to the States and leave Francisco with his aunt, Valentin’s sister. Her plan was similar to Valentin’s: work for a few months, earn some money, and then return home. Or, alternatively, try to get Franscisco admitted to the US to join his parents. But the two “temporary” visitors never got back to Bolivia and Francisco never got the visa. Meanwhile, his aunt had become like a mother to Francisco in Cristina’s absence. As Valentin says, “When you do not take decisions in life, life will take decisions for you, and life decided to separate me from my child. I decided to work harder in order to improve the living conditions of Franz (Francisco).” In 1986, Valentin and Cristina made a monumental breakthrough. A U.S. law gave them amnesty and legalized their immigration status. In turn, they got better jobs which generated more money to send to Francisco. Thanks to that money, Francisco, now 28, was able to open a small business in Bolivia. Now he is the owner of a hardware store similar to the one his father left in 1980. He has the equivalent of two families: one that works in the U.S. and sends him money, and another in Bolivia that Continued from page 5 this space, however, I’d like to offer five suggestions that reflect more than a year’s work on what in my view is the most serious challenge facing SAIS. 1. SAIS needs to allocate standard weekly blocks of time to professional development. Many business schools, for example, reserve Friday for career-related programming. Here at SAIS, no classes (language or otherwise) should be scheduled during this career-related time block, nor should brown bags and other noncareer oriented presentations. 2. The faculty at large must recognize that SAIS is a professional school. This recognition will encourage them to: 1) take an active role in helping students with their career planning; 2) weight class assignments toward the kind of research, writing and presentation tasks that students will face in the workforce; and 3) make admissions decisions - in which faculty should continue to play the principal role – that weigh professional experience and career focus equally with academic excellence.
A typical street-scene in La Paz.
offers him emotional support.
staff worker. You should see a brave man that sacrificed a lot to
When you see Valentin manning the front desk, driving the shut-
provide his child with a better life.
tle bus, putting seats up at events, dealing with electricity prob-
Santiago Florez is a 1st year M.A. student concentrat-
lems, or cutting the grass, you should see more than a maintaince
ing in International Law.
SAIS Career 3. SAIS should follow the lead of other MA international relations programs and offer credit for internships undertaken during the semester. The opportunity to gain internship experience in Washington, DC is one of SAIS’principal attractions, but one that is currently undermined by the school’s academic requirements. Many of SAIS’ best students work twenty hours a week or more. Amodest but helpful step would be to allow students to replace one course each academic year with a part-time internship. 4. Language departments should be prohibited from imposing strict requirements on homework and attendance. To be sure, the obligation to achieve proficiency in a foreign language is one of SAIS’ great assets. Admissions should continue to select students with experience abroad that suggests that they either already possess proficiency or can attain it without great strain over two years. But to embark on a new language is a poor use of SAIS stu-
dents’ time given the academic and professional development opportunities afforded by the regular course load and SAIS’ location. The academic demands of the language program should therefore be adjusted to reflect this. 5. SAIS must engage in a comprehensive effort to locate and involve alumni in the SAIS community. There are thousands of SAIS alums in the Washington, DC and New York areas, and yet few of them ever attend SAIS events relevant to their areas of expertise or assist in mentoring current students. Alumni relations should go beyond fundraising, and should include an effort to engage recent graduates (1-5 years out) who are often the best positioned to provide current students with career advice. Career clubs can play a role in this outreach, but the Development Office, CS, and the individual academic departments should also coordinate and expand their efforts in this direction.
Finally, SAIS must better leverage the experience of its own current students. At SAIS we have many former bankers transitioning to government work, and former Peace Corps volunteers hoping to become bankers. While much informal mentoring takes place, SAIS needs a formal database of students’ previous experience and career interests - which could be opt-in and jhem password protected - to allow students to assist one another in managing their career transitions. As all of you know, SAIS possesses enormous strengths, including an outstanding faculty, a prime location, a dedicated staff, and a diverse and brilliant student body. Together, we can make our careers equally successful. Dan Tobin, China Studies ‘05, was President of the Student Government Association and co-chair of the SGA Career Services Committee.
March 1, 2006
THE SAIS OBSERVER
What we think we know Last day waiting BY KATE TURNER is what it is like for one “military T hisspouse” in America to go through the th
last (386 ) day of her husband’s deployment to Iraq.
0732h: Today might be the day. But the Army timeline remains uncertain. Bob is at Fort Bliss, Texas, having traveled through 11 time zones in 38 hours. Right now he is “out-processing” (i.e. doing paperwork and returning gear) before the bastards let him fly home. 0747h: Put on coffee. Mentally plan what could be the last day. Clean guck out of fridge while getting Morning Edition because Bob is a neat freak; tidy the recent newspapers (keep for him to read) for the same reason; buy tzaziki, hummus, and pita bread (don’t ask why a soldier who loves Middle Eastern food had to ask his translator in Iraq to bring some into the office for him); work on Haiti paper (as if). One of my friends, another SAIS student whose husband was deployed to Iraq, experienced much the same frenzied cleaning impulses. Somebody should write a psych paper about this.
a car accident and plunge to my death off the 14th Street bridge. Or Bob’s plane crashes somewhere in the Shenandoah. We were so close, so tragically close… (I tell him later about this, and oddly enough, he had been playing the same psychological games with himself). 2210h: With nothing left to dust in the house, I distract myself by going to Safeway. Get more of his favorite things: smoked salmon, capers, cream cheese, red onion, beer, English muffins; logs for the fireplace. 2315h: Leave for airport. I need insanely
happy music. I settle on “Hold Me Now” by Wayne Wonder, in the 50 First Dates soundtrack. (Again, my elation is marred only by visions of tumbling over the bridge…). I think back to more than a year ago, making this same airport run except with him next to me. This time, he’ll be in the passenger seat on my way back over the bridge. I begin to feel safe enough to compare this homecoming to the kind that I tried not to imagine, where he comes home under a flag. It is difficult to feel the full weight of the gratitude that should be in my heart. I am thankful; I am relieved. Yet if I never experience the loss that others suffer, isn’t it impossible for my grati-
1008h: Receive email from Bob. It says, “Things are moving FAST here. Just maybe…” Army bureaucracy moving fast? He must mean he might be home tonight. I yell and scream, jump up and down. Then I realize this is a good and bad thing. Good, they’re getting a handle on this out-processing thing and getting soldiers home to their families fast. Bad, the increased efficiency is probably due to so many deployments … 1428h: Arrive late to my 1415h class. (Just had to finish mopping.) Retain probably 4 percent of lecture. 1520h: Check email. He says there are no good flight options tonight. He will arrive at Reagan National Airport at 1611h tomorrow. My heart sinks; I had tried not to develop expectations, as Bob always warns about the Army’s ability to detect and crush hopes. This also means I have no excuse to skip monetary tonight. Double disappointment. 1750h: Missed call, shoot. Some weird 915 area code. Voicemail from Bob, calling from a borrowed cell phone: “Sweetheart, go to bed before midnight tonight, and leave the back door open.” Oh my god. Now I am both giddy, and furious at him for not telling me flight information. I redial the number and leave a breathless message asking a stranger to have Bob Bateman call me again. 1839h: Phone vibrates during monetary. I slip out, a BSEG on my face. It’s the taxi driver who took Bob to the airport and loaned him his cell phone. Bob is on American Airlines. I call my future inlaws, and they get online to track down his flight. Flight 2542, arriving at National at 0025h. 2005h: A strange thing begins to happen. I start worrying something tragic will happen to me, or him. I can hear the stories: “It was so sad, that couple was about to be reunited, and then there was that fire in the metro…she burned to a crisp.” Or I get in
As of March 2006, there are 136,000 American soldiers in Iraq.
tude to do justice to that loss? Survivor’s Guilt, who would have expected that. 2355h: Standing outside the terminal where he will first appear, I begin this column. 0031h: He’s the second person to come around the corner. There is one long moment, as if we are a slow-motion movie. With that first embrace, it’s our homecoming: not just his, but mine too. Kate Turner is a 1st year M.A. student concentrating in South Asia Studies.
March 1, 2006
THE SAIS OBSERVER
The science of sexual ethics? BY LESLIE HOUGH I wish I’d only had “S ometimes sex with three or four people—only the ones I’d really loved, you know,” a friend said wistfully over coffee at the Fox and Hound the other day. “I’m thinking about becoming religious,” she sighed, only half-sarcastically. We taunted her about the surgical procedures she could undergo to become a bornagain virgin but the flicker of sincerity behind her eyes got me thinking about that tricky intersection of religion, morality, sex and regret. Growing up with a Jewish mom and a Protestant dad, religion and sex were both taboo subjects in the house. It was simply understood that religion was for those who didn’t think for themselves or make their own choices. Meanwhile, promiscuous sex was for those who might have been thinking for themselves but were clearly making the “wrong” choices. “Right” and “wrong” were matters of conscience and pride. You wouldn’t want to be the girl who goes all the way on the first date. But if my conscience was just an amalgam of rules and norms dictated by my parents and society, what made its voice any more credible than that of priests and prophets? The secular and enlightened don’t like to imagine themselves as dupes who buy blindly into dogma or cave to social pressure. But without religion or strict social norms regulating our choices, morality becomes somewhat like a science experiment. With our emotional health as the dependent variable, we test different behaviors to establish the boundaries of our own comfort zones. Will the short-run pleasure of going home with this random guy in a bar make me pleased or disgusted with myself in the long-run? Will the outcome change if he looks like a Ken doll? If I’ve been watching him from a far for the past month? If this is our third date? If we engage in sexual acts but not actual sex? If I leave in the middle of the night? We are our own little laboratories for determining morality. Through the trauma of trial and error and case studies in the form of gossip and movies, we each attempt to cobble together rules that maximize happiness while minimizing heartbreak, degradation and generally feeling like an idiot. Perfection-driven and degradation-averse, I spent my early twenties following pretty rigid rules about sex—no sex without love, commitment or a full month of dating. I’d seriously take a pen and sanctimoniously mark the “right” day on the calendar. And as in “The Rules” prescribed in that nutty book for women desperately in search of husbands, withholding sex was an eerily effective way of generating relationships. It’s like puppy-training, really. You hold out a treat, demand a behavior like “sit” or “roll-over” or “take me to the movies and call me your girlfriend” and only after it’s performed to your satisfaction do you give the reward. Pretty soon the behavior is disassociated with the treat and the puppy or boyfriend reproduces it out of habit. Eventually, they re-associate it with a sense of devotion and the desire to please you. But is that
really love? After a series of inappropriate boyfriends—the Georgian, two depressed Texans and a spaced-out artist who piled trash in his studio—and a vitriolic lecture from my father about “bringing shaggy dogs home,” I realized that I had been undermined by my own rules. I was the puppy too. Greedy for the treat, I’d jump through the hoops of “love” and “commitment” just to get to the sex. Next thing you know, I’m months into a relationship with someone who should have been a onenight-stand. My pride wouldn’t let me see past the out-dated social codes that read: if you have sex once, the guy wins and the girl loses, while if the sex is part of a reiterated game, the girl wins and the guy loses. Maybe in a world without birth control this made sense. Today it’s just distracting. Using an analogy guaranteed to offend the sensibilities of all non-Americans, sex and love are like peanut butter and jelly. In my mind there is no more
perfect sandwich. But sometimes you don’t have any bread around, sometimes the jelly part sounds too sickeningly sweet, and sometimes you’re just in the mood to eat the peanut butter straight out of the jar with irreverent glee. The trick isn’t to construct or adhere to rules that dictate right and wrong nor to appease every appetite-driven desire as it hits you, but to be really alert and honest with yourself about what you want from a given person in a given scenario. If you can manage to temper the forces of norms and hormones and be realistic about what the other person has to offer, you’re likely to wind up in the right bed at the right time and wake up without regret the next morning or in the months to come. Leslie Hough is a 2nd year M.A. student concentrating in Conflict Management.
March 1, 2006
THE SAIS OBSERVER
BOOK REVIEW Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi oil Shock and the World Economy by Matthew R. Simmons John Wiley & Sons, Inc., p. 422, $24.95
The end of Saudi oil? BY NIKOS TSAFOS that Saudi Arabia has lots of F ewoil. doubt But for Matthew Simmons, an investment banker turned geologist, this is where the consensus ends. Every other assumption about Saudi Arabia’s role in the world oil market should be revisited and hopes about its oil future should be downgraded. Saudi Arabia has the world’s largest proven oil reserves (22% of world total) and hence its oil trajectory is intimately linked to the price consumers will pay for oil. The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that Saudi Arabia will increase production from 10.4 mbd in 2004 to 18.2 mbd in 2030. The US Energy Information Administration is equally optimistic: by 2025, Saudi production will reach 16.3 mbd. The reason for these projections is clear: that’s where the oil is and therefore that’s where the oil will have to come from. Twilight in the Desert argues that these forecasts, so ingrained in the public mind and so readily accepted by many energy specialists, are implausible.
Anyone curious about oil is lured to the Saudi story by the mythical size of the country’s source. For over twenty years, Saudi Arabia has treated oil numbers as state secrets. In 1970, the country’s reserves were 146.6 billion barrels; by 1977, that number was 100 billion. Then, a series of increases in the 1980s brought the total to 260 billion, while the Saudi oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, believes that his country has at least 700 billion in reserves, a number he claims can easily rise to 900 billion. Data transparency is lacking and there is no independent verification of the numbers that Saudi Aramco publishes. How is it, asks Mr. Simmons, that “proven reserves effectively remained constant for the last 17 years, while Saudi Arabia produced another 46.5 billion barrels of oil?” After all, Saudi Arabia’s prominence in the world oil market is directly linked to its status as the sentry of the world’s largest and cheapest repository of reserves. Could it be that the world is relying too much on the word of the Saudis, Mr. Simmons wonders.
All the joys of publishing, without too much research
Write for the SAIS Observer email Observer@jhu.edu
Questions about the reliability, though, of Saudi data are not new. There has existed something of industry sport for many years, even if the incredulity has withered over time. The contribution of Twilight in the Desert lies elsewhere: Mr. Simmons has surveyed over 200 technical papers published under the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) dealing with the challenges that engineers have faced in Saudi fields. Mr. Simmons became pessimistic mainly from reading these papers. At the heart of the Saudi geological predicament is the concentration of production: “about 90 percent of Saudi Arabia’s oil production comes from
six giant oilfields—Ghawar, Safaniya, Abqaiq, Berri, Zuluf, and Marjan—concentrated in a tiny corner of the kingdom.” What is more, these fields are old: the youngest of the six, Marjan, was discovered in 1967. The geological challenge is to sustain production at high levels, given that age leads to declining pressure, which in turn reduces the ultimate recovery rate and the field’s daily output. The other reason Mr. Simmons is concerned is that Saudi Arabia has tended to overproduce its fields in order to satisfy its role as “swing producer,” adjusting shortterm supply to cover disruptions and to stabilize oil prices. The geological cost is that overproduction reduces pressure dramatically. From the SPE papers, Mr. Simmons chronicles the problems that Saudi fields have exhibited and explains why there is reason to think that Saudi Arabia’s main fields are reaching their peak, after which sustainable production drops. Even more worrisome is that Saudi Arabia has failed to find major new oilfields. The last major additions to Saudi oil production have been Shaybah (discovered in 1968 and starting production in the 1990s due to commercial reasons) and Hawath (found in 1989, production 1994). More recent and rather intensive exploration efforts have failed to yield enthusiastic results. In the IEA’s projections, existing fields maintain production from 10.3 mbd in 2004 to 10.1 in 2030, while new developments add 8 mbd. In this context, it is clear why Mr. Simmons’ skepticism, about the potency of existing fields and the promise of new ones, is important. Based on who is right, the price of oil could fluctuate wildly. Interestingly, the IEA disagrees with Mr. Simmons’ geological verdict, but is worried about whether Saudi Arabia (and other Middle East and North Africa oil producers) will make the necessary investments to increase supply. From this anxiety comes the IEA’s “deferred investment” scenario, in which Saudi Arabia produces only 14.1 mbd by 2030 and oil prices rise by one third. What do the Saudis have to say about this? Mr. Simmons’ book has sparked a debate about the need for Saudi Aramco to be more forthcoming about data. The technical discussion, about the accuracy of computer simulations upon which the inexact science of petroleum geology rests, is sure to intensify. Twilight in the Desert can contribute to a better discussion but readers are unlikely to finish this book with more answers than questions. But the ultimate Saudi defense is different; as Abdullah Jumah, Saudi Aramco’s CEO, put it: “We have never failed to deliver a single barrel of oil promised to anyone, anywhere!” There is no doubt that this is true. Whether it should reassure us is another story. Nikos Tsafos is a 1st year M.A. student concentrating in International Energy Policy and Middle East Studies.
March 1, 2006
THE SAIS OBSERVER
ASK JAMES Dear James, SAIS makes me feel old. I turned 31 last week, yet in class I sit next to a BA/MA who isn’t even old enough to drink. The woman who babysits my child is older than my Macro TA. I try to hang out at happy hour, but I think my damned 5 o’clock shadow makes my fellow students uncomfortable! Is there anything I can do? -Swarthy and sullen, J from New York Dear J, Care not. The advent of your thirties is the end of all apologies for who you are. While it may be disorienting at times to sit in a classroom with classmates ten years your junior, remember that you are there for different reasons than a 21-year-old, and those are reasons that have only to satisfy yourself. While your young friend X’s out the days on his ‘Women of the Pentagon’ calendar, waiting for the hour when he can legally add sloe gin to his Shirley Temples, you have access to a more refined spirit—the heady distillation of youth, wisdom, and responsibility that is your fourth decade. These are the years when potential becomes achievement, and while you may not be able to stomach the teenybopper tastes of the BA/MA crowd, you are not an old man. Your child does put you in the minority of students at SAIS, but graduate school, especially a professional one like ours, is not the preserve of the younger set. In fact, some international relations schools do not admit students without 2-3 years of professional experience; the BA/MA kids are an anomaly, and while we appreciate their fun-loving drive and academic achievements, the secret truth is that their program is Hopkins’ equivalent of a reformatory. They are dangerous little thugs, drunk on Robitussin and academic jargon, and put here at SAIS where professors with national security connections can keep an eye on them and the adult students will scare them straight.
Questions abound in our lives. We face moral questions, ethical questions, fashion questions, etiquette questions, rhetorical questions, the Big question, the Mars Question, the Easter n Question, and myriad others to which life, of course, provides few easy answers. Yet there are those among us with sufficient breadth of experience, de pth of feeling, and clarity of mind to guide us along the path of the well-examined life. In fact, there is one such sag e right here at SAIS: JAMES WARNER, a second-year M.A. student concentrating in Strategic Studies. James’s ecumenical understanding and wide-ranging intellectual interest and experience make him a valuable resource for us all, and he has kindly offered to dispense his counsel to any and all restless minds. Oh, he also has a light interest in Guatemala.
Our school could not accomplish its mission without more experienced students like you. You have much to contribute to SAIS and to your fellow students, and this is the salient aspect of your age, not its distance from that of your classmates. And as a father, you have a duty to abjure ego and pride, and to learn to be a guide, as well as a student of truth, whatever its source. The thirties are an age when one becomes susceptible to regret, but for the sake of your child, your sanity, and the integrity of your parenting, you must purge yourself of the hobbling thought. Your insecurities about your age at SAIS will not disappear once you graduate—you have an opportunity now to make peace with them, and learn your classmates and all the different cultures and stages of life they represent. The world, after all, is not greying. The current cohort making the transition from adolescence to adulthood is the largest the world has ever seen. Whatever field you choose after SAIS, you will only encounter more and more young people entering professional life at an early age. You can see this in the developing world where, boy, if you feel old now, you would be nearly middle-aged in terms of society’s expectations. Perhaps part of your anomie is caused by the lack of cultural norms concerning the chronology of a man’s life. In a country like Guatemala, for example, with a high birth-rate and a fast-growing gang problem, a man your age, especially with a child and perhaps a wife, would have a large stake in reaching out to the young men and women in your community—many of them unemployed—and taking active steps to keep them away from antisocial behavior. Gangs are spreading in Guatemala and throughout Central America not only by violent turf takeovers, but by the propagation of gang allegiance as an unchecked mode of socialization. It often falls to men your age to watch out for kids trying to form gangs, and intervene with concerted social effort to prevent it from happening.
Dear James, I am a heterosexual male having trouble making male friends. I read about this phenomenon of the “man date” in the Style section of the New York Times a few months back. I am a little uncomfortable with the idea, but becoming increasingly willing to give it a shot. Your thoughts? - Lonely and uncertain, K from Buffalo Dear K, “Man Date” is a false novelty. It is a piece of epistemological arrogance by the same organ guilty of, in the words of its public ombudsman, “rather breathless stories built on unsubstantiated ‘revelations’.” To quote from Jennifer 8. Lee’s seminal April 10, 2005 article, “ ‘man date’ is a coinage invented for this article…[a] peculiar ritual…[s]imply defined [as] two heterosexual men socializing without the crutch of business or sports.” Ms. Lee asserts that “an undercurrent of homoeroticism that may be present determines what feels comfortable or not on a man date.” According to her, museum visits, sharing bottles of wine, restaurants with a choice of still or sparkling mineral water, going to the movies, or just going for a walk can veer into the uncomfortably homoerotic; by logical extension, her definition renders all encounters between men who never talk about business or sports—artists, writers, musicians, scientists, etc.—as peculiar rituals, outside normal male conduct, that have languished unlabeled until a paladin of the zeitgeist anoints them with meaning. Rubbish. Male friends have enjoyed fine food, art, music, and conversation for millennia without swapping spit or relying on bogus cultural insights to make their time worthwhile, and some of those conversations have changed the world. If the prospect of a ‘man date’ makes you uncomfortable, get a jump on history and forget about it—the concept will only inhibit you in your quest to make new male friends. Because the truth is there are emotional similarities between making a new friend and attracting a woman that have more to do with human nature than gender. Confidence, intelligence, wit, style, grace, strength, and knowing when to keep your mouth shut are important to us all, and what is important to women is also important to men; a male friend that can help you pick up women, but make the evening entertaining no matter what, is indispensable. Similarly, seeming desperate, uncomfortable, and trying too hard are universal turn-offs. The key to making friends is not to bullshit. Organize a poker night. Strike up a casual conversation, one between equals. But if you still can’t get over your discomfort, I recommend a couple of
Please send questions for James to firstname.lastname@example.org. SK JAMES So watch out for that BA/MA kid. You may just think him a harmless clown now, but once he starts hitting the hooch and conspiring with his fellow malcontents, the very social fabric of SAIS could be at risk. These BA/MA fifth columnists are almost all Strategic Studies students, and they have infiltrated the highest ranks of our student publications and clubs, commanding considerable SGA resources, departmental travel budgets, and commiserating with former CIA officials and Special Forces operatives. Beware, fellow SAISers! Truck not in impromptu beer pong matches or invitations to Biddy’s! And you, sir, you could be at the tip of the spear, now that you are alive to the threat of these oversocialized, hypereducated hoodlums—next time you have class with that BA/MA ringleader, denounce the rabblerouser in public. Bring along your child and shout “have you no heart sir? Look into this child’s eyes and desist your evil ways! Stop your overachieving madness now or soon enough you could end up like me!” P.S. chicks dig stubble.
weeks travelling around a developing country, and practice making friends there. Pick one that is small enough that you can see a fair bit of it, but varied enough that you can experience different cultures and the various ways that men relate to one another, when there is often not much else to do. A great choice is Guatemala; with cowboy country in the east, tropical life on the coasts, indigenous mountain towns in the highlands, and a rainforest in the north. Set yourself a goal of making one friend in every town you visit—but be prepared to drink occasionally nasty cheap booze, play sometimes confusing card games, shoot pool with warped cues, try out a mechanical bull, make silly jokes about women, make fun of the town drunk, flirt with girls, watch strippers, get out of a bar fight or two, and sing along loudly to popular songs; but also to be asked unexpectedly to share in a family meal, or go on an outing, join in a soccer game, or pile into a car and trust the man at the wheel. The men down there are friends for life and depend on each other more than they would ever admit—they are simultaenously each other’s sole form of entertainment and mutual support. If you can learn that balance in Guatemala, you’ll be able to make friends for the rest of your life.
March 1, 2006
THE SAIS OBSERVER
OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS Matchbox Last month, I suggested Matchbox as a nearby alternative to Zengo. I made that recommendation on a false pretense; I had not actually dined at Matchbox myself. Various friends had dined there recently and raved about the place. My experience, however, was not nearly as positive. (I still feel bloated 2 weeks later).
grette that destroyed any potential for lettuce to actually retain any crunch. In fleeting despair, I hoped that their “vintage brick –oven pizza” would reinstate some confidence in the place. Alas, their pizza didn’t compare with that of Two Amy’s on Wisconsin. The bottom line is that Chinatown’s restaurants are overrated.
By ADAM MENDELSON
Hotel Tabard Inn When you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by a sprightly hostess, eager to tell you that the wait is 45 minutes, but the bar, all five seats of it, would be a wonderful place to wait. Luckily, Chinatown is lively and urban enough that 45 minutes could be spent strolling around, enjoying the spectacle of marauding urbanites pretending they are in New York. The portions at Matchbox are enormous, though somewhat disappointing. I tried the hand-packed beef hamburger and home-made fries, which together, overwhelmed the plate. The fries were made from freshly cut Russet potatoes and the burger was big and juicy (think whopper). The bun, however, was lathered in butter and frankly, quite repulsive. The gorgonzola and walnut salad was doused with raspberry vinai-
The Tabard Inn reinforced my notion of what a restaurant should strive for. The quaint, Swiss chalet-style wood paneling coupled with beautiful paintings and an old fireplace whisks the patron away to a bucolic, if not romantic, break from everyday Washington life. The ambience is matched by the restaurant’s classic and spot-on cuisine. I started with the Glidden Point Oysters, $1.95 each, served on the half shell, which were truly divine. The menu at the Tabard Inn is seasonal (as it should be), which means that it will vary depending on the fresh produce and delicacies of the season. If it is in stock, you must try the Maryland Crab Cake with CoconutBanana Coulis, which comes with a gingered fruit salad with cilantro for $12. And, if you are a meat lover, the Tabard Inn serves up a
Matchbox Chinatown 713 H St., NW Washington, DC 202-289-4441 $$ ($10-15 per person) Hotel Tabard Inn 1739 N street NW Washington, DC 20036 202-785-1277 $$$$ ($30-40 per person w/o wine) Thaiphoon 2011 S street NW Washington, DC 202-667-3505 $$ ($12-15 per person)
Grilled Hereford Ribeye Steak ($26) that evokes a scene from the movie Matrix, where Cypher, played by Joe Pantoliano, is willing to give up his free will to eat the most mouthwatering steak ever filmed.
(Sorry vegetarians). Needless to say, this is an ideal restaurant for SAISers to bring their parents during graduation or to go on a date.
Picture of the month
"Er, if you can't spell it, you really shouldn't have it . . ."
Thaiphoon Located on “S” street right off of Connecticut Ave. this Thai place is ideally situated for SAISers emerging from a grueling 6-8pm class. Thaiphoon churns out Thai food so quickly that it is almost off-putting, except that the food is always delicious. The menu is vast, so take it slow and think through the decision carefully. My suggestion is to start with either the Roasted Duck Salad, which is tossed with fresh ginger, scallions, celery, roast chili paste, and lime juice ($5.95) or the Papaya Salad ($4.95). Then, try the Tom Yum Gai ($3.95) soup. I promise you will pick up the bowl at the end to slurp the remaining broth. As for the entrees, I tend to get the Green Chicken Curry ($8.95), but if you are not in the mood for curry, you can’t go wrong with the Drunken Noodle ($8.95) or the Ginger Perfect ($8.95). The food isn’t flashy and the restaurant tends to feel like a conveyer belt of Thai spices, but if you are in to quality eats, this is the place. (If you are more in to trendy place and bad food, refer to the first restaurant review). Adam Mendelson is a 2nd yeat M.A. student concentrating in Latin American Studies and Emerging Markets.
March 1, 2006
THE SAIS OBSERVER