At a time in which the US is struggling to maintain its position as a global superpower, there are few more qualified than Daniel Drezner to offer his insights.
Drezner is an expert on international politics and foreign policy, with particular emphasis on American foreign engagements. He holds one of the most prestigious positions at the University of Texas – Austin, where he teaches courses like International Relations Theory and International Security Studies.
- Who is Daniel Drezner? Wiki Bio Career
- What Are Daniel Drezner Credentials
- One Of His Popular Book, “The Ideas Industry”
- You Are Currently The Professor Of International Politics At The University Of Texas At Austin. How Did You Get There?
- What Is Your Opinion Of Us Foreign Policy Today?
- But When You Are Doing Research And Writing About It – Do Not Obfuscate! Just Tell People What You Think.
- His Thoughts On How To Improve Us Foreign Policy In The Future
Who is Daniel Drezner? Wiki Bio Career
Daniel Drezner is an American Foreign Policy scholar and Professor of International Politics at the University of Texas at Austin. He was born in 1967, in New York City. He attended Columbia University where he studied Political Science and Economics.
He obtained his PhD from MIT in 1991, and went on to study under many notable people like Timothy Garton Ash, Samuel Huntington, Robert Putnam, Joseph Nye, George Kennan and more.
He has served as Director for the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), an organization that researches international security issues. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; a United States based non-profit organization that provides analysis of world events.
He is also a professor of International Politics at the University of Texas. He has taught courses on Terrorism, the Middle East, American Foreign Policy, Empire and Ideas in international politics. He teaches courses that are open to all students including graduate courses.
Daniel Drezner was recently awarded The Robert E. Osgood Fellowship for 2011-2012. The fellowship will allow Drezner to focus on writing during that time. He has written numerous books in which he critically examines US foreign policy in the world, often times making humorous observations throughout his work.
What Are Daniel Drezner Credentials
Mr. Drezner has a PhD in Political Science from MIT and has studied under many prominent people like Timothy Garton Ash, Samuel Huntington, Robert Putnam, Joseph Nye, George Kennan and more.
One Of His Popular Book, “The Ideas Industry”
“The Washington Post” recently had an interesting article on the “The Ideas Industry”. They reported that experts are quite influential in today’s discourse. If people believe what experts say, there is no reason to not be an expert. Experts can actually skew public policy decisions if people believe what they say without question and the public is unaware of their biases and affiliations.
The primary focus of “The Ideas Industry: How Pessimists, Partisans and Plutocrats are Transforming the Marketplace of Ideas” is to examine how experts become influential in discourse, as well as the effects of how influential they may become.
Mr. Drezner’s primary argument throughout this book is “expertise in itself does not guarantee influence”. A good way to summarize his point is when he states that there are three ways for an expert to influence public policy – directly, indirectly or by creating a marketplace where good ideas can be bought and sold.
He goes into great detail about what each of these three scenarios entail and the pros and cons to them. This book would be most beneficial to anyone who wants a better understanding of how experts can be influential in today’s society.
His book “The Ideas Industry: How Pessimists, Partisans, and Plutocrats are Transforming the Marketplace of Ideas” was described by Foreign Affairs as “a vital contribution to understanding how power works today.” And that’s just scratching the surface.
With insight into both domestic issues (he’s a native New Yorker turned Texan) and foreign policy, Drezner offers a unique perspective on the current state of American affairs.
It’s not easy to catch Professor Daniel Drezner for an interview. He is famous for his heavy workload and hectic schedule, but I managed to get an hour with him as he was between classes. I asked him about his career, influences and whether he sees the world today differently to when he was younger.
You Are Currently The Professor Of International Politics At The University Of Texas At Austin. How Did You Get There?
“I mean this in a very non-arrogant way but it’s not because I’m smarter than everyone else. I mean it is because of hard work and luck. A lot of people apply for these jobs and they will not get them; you need to be really good at the game that academics play.
But then there is also some element of luck, like which university can see if you can actually do what you say you are going to do. When I was applying for jobs, the University of Texas noticed that I worked with “outside” people.
How I got to UT is an interesting story in itself because when I finished my PhD at MIT, it seemed like a good idea to leave Boston. Living in one city for seven years isn’t necessarily fun. You know your favourite restaurants and then you move to a new city and it’s like “Oh I have to find new favourite restaurants.”
I wanted to try something different, so I went out west. The University of California at San Diego interviewed me and they were great but I never heard back from them. Then when my contract was about to run out, a friend told me to apply for a job at University of California at Berkeley. I thought, “Oh why not?” and applied.
Then a few months later, UT emailed me out of the blue and asked if I would be interested in teaching there. It was completely random but it worked out perfectly because they didn’t have tenure track positions at that time, but I was able to get a non tenure track position.
After four years, UT created this very prestigious chair for me so it’s the same job but better paid! It’s also still not to teach three courses a semester or supervise PhD students which is what other people have to do so I don’t complain.”
You have written numerous books, including “Theories of International Politics and Zombies” which was listed by Foreign Policy Magazine as one of the five best international relations books in 2011. Is there any book you are particularly proud of?
“There was a time when people said that the stuff I wrote wasn’t good enough to be published, but then changed their mind after they read it. The thing that annoyed me the most was being told I was “too narrow”. So I wrote a book called All Politics is Global which dealt with all these issues no one else seemed to be writing about.
But if I had to pick one, I would say my favourite book is “The System Worked”. It’s about America responding to 9/11 and the War on Terror. It was really hard to research because it’s very difficult to find reliable declassified information, but I did my best – I’m pretty happy with that book.”
What Is Your Opinion Of Us Foreign Policy Today?
“I’ll give you an example of what frustrates me about people in my field and how they use jargon to try and hide what they’re really trying to say. If you ask someone, “What is your opinion of America’s foreign policy today?” They might respond by saying, “Well I tend to be more neo-realist than liberal so my view is X.”
What the person actually means is that they are more critical of America’s foreign policy. But rather than saying they are critical, they use this complicated jargon to make themselves sound smarter. If you ask the question in a different way, someone might say “I think America’s foreign policy is really awful.”
But When You Are Doing Research And Writing About It – Do Not Obfuscate! Just Tell People What You Think.
In terms of America’s foreign policy today, I am not a fan. What frustrates me the most is that we went into Iraq and Afghanistan and in both cases we screwed it up really badly and in both cases there is very little accountability for how we messed up.”
What advice would you give to somebody interested in a career in academia?
“I think everybody has to have a non-academic plan B. If they have a PhD, their job prospects are very limited so I would advise people to have two or three other plans as well.
It can be hard for academics to find jobs because if you go from being an Assistant Professor to Associate Professor and then you want to be a full professor – that can take like 15 years.
It’s hard for people because it’s such a long time before they become tenured- if their department doesn’t support them, or they don’t get along with their colleagues, it can be really difficult. So I would say look at your non academic careers and have a plan B.
His Thoughts On How To Improve Us Foreign Policy In The Future
In the future, foreign policy should be based on economic interests and the security of the United States. He argues that this will force policymakers to prioritize their US interests in a way that benefits our economy rather than engaging in costly conflicts abroad.
Foreign policy should be a balance between political ideals and economic interests. To balance these two, he suggests a re-evaluation in what is considered an American interest to decide when intervention is necessary.
For example, America’s support for democracy in Egypt prompted outrage from then-President Mubarak because he was afraid it would jeopardize trade opportunities with Arab countries.
Drezner’s solution would be to create a list of what he considers “knock-out punches”, or situations where any intervention would have to be made. His example would include genocide or an imminent threat of state failure to prevent further conflicts elsewhere in the world.