Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Speaking at Bard College on counterterrorism policy

I'm blogging from the home of my old friend John Ryle, at Bard College at Annandale on Hudson, a couple of hours up the Hudson River from NYC. It's a lovely small liberal arts college, and my friend John comes over from London to teach one semester a year in the Anthropology Department. He asked me up here to deliver a lecture on counterterrorism in the next administration - the topic I've been going on about for quite a while - you can read Elisa Massimino's and my joint take on it, here, downloadable at SSRN. I enjoyed giving the lecture very much - I hope the audience took something away from it, even though I realize that collectively they had many disagreements with me about substance. But it was also interesting for me to realize that even though, given American University's location on the outskirts of DC, I don't quite think of myself as a DC policy type, to an audience outside the Beltway, that's exactly what I sound like.

Anyway, I hope the talk wasn't too wonky, probably was. John, always the greatest host, organized a pizza party at his house on the campus of this quite rural college, with a number of students and faculty. I was absolutely delighted to see the great Ian Buruma and his wife - I hadn't seen Ian in years, while admiring his books and writing from afar. And a special surprise, Jonathan Becker, an old friend from the Open Society Institute days, now teaching political science at Bard, and also Dean of International Studies. The students made me feel very, very welcome - again, they obviously disagreed with much of what I had to say, but they were both very serious and very polite in expressing their disagreement - my friend, and their professor, John, thought they had been much too easy on me.

Today, after speaking at John's human rights class and a terrific lunch with Ian and a resident novelist at Bard, John and I took a beautiful drive around the Catskills and Hudson valley - driving up to Woodstock, where I bought googahs for Renee and Jean-Marie and then looping around through the mountains and across the Rip van Winkle bridge. A beautiful day and lovely company.

Tomorrow, off early for home. John - many thanks!

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