Re: “The ‘Runaway’ Professor?” (Aug. 27): As I walked back past Woolsey Hall on the way back home on Wednesday, I came across a protest against U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal’s recent appointment as a senior fellow at Yale. I stopped briefly among the protesters to mention that I thought the objections to McChrystal were misplaced. The general didn’t start the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq. He was simply obeying the orders of his civilian superiors in the Bush and Obama administrations.
McChrystal doesn’t deserve to teach at Yale, but not because of his involvement in these wars. Instead, he shouldn’t be here because he is the poster boy for disdain for civilian control over the military.
Yale seems to be fond of hiring bad role models for youth as faculty members in international relations. With the exception of five undergraduates who staged a quiet sit-in, no one really complained when John Negroponte was taken on as a research fellow last year despite his involvement in gross human rights abuses in Central America in the 1980s. In fact, this year, a record number of Yale students scrambled to get into the “Studies in Grand Strategies” seminar Negroponte is teaching with other Yale faculty.
I have no objection to providing a variety of political perspectives in classrooms at Yale, but neither McChrystal nor Negroponte are men of good character. There are other military men and women, other conservative politicians and officials who don’t elevate insubordination and arrogance and the appeasement of brutal dictatorships as civic virtues. Yale may think these appointments burnish the University’s reputation in some way, but it really just sends the message that for administrators, faculty and students here in New Haven, the ultimate academic aphrodisiac is power and rank no matter how they are wielded.