On Monday, a confidential email sent to a select set of Yale graduate students was irresponsibly leaked to Salon. According to the leaked email, Dr. Henry Kissinger, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, will give a talk titled “Europe at a Crossroads” at 3:30 p.m. on Friday at Evans Hall.

The Jackson Institute for Global Affairs doesn’t list this event publicly, even though they are hosting it. The School of Management, housed in Evans Hall, similarly has no information about the event on its website. In fact, no publicly accessible Yale website  mentions a talk by Kissinger. If the Jackson Institute, the School of Management and the University at large all agree that this talk must be kept secret, it is hard to understand the motivations of the leaker who deliberately subverted the orders of her superiors.

I am confident that the extreme secrecy surrounding this talk (invitees are urged to respect the confidentiality of Kissinger’s words) exists for a reason. Openness, a spirit of inquiry and the free exchange of ideas — qualities that I believe are essential for the functioning of any University — cannot and should not always be exercised. These values must be put aside for some events, and Kissinger’s talk is one of them. Sometimes, it is necessary to create a space where young minds can be lectured to in private, on confidential matters in an event that must inevitably be secret.

The Jackson Institute balances the need for secrecy with its commitment to advertise its high profile speakers. Despite its silence about Kissinger’s upcoming visit, it does have information on his previous visits to Yale, which were put up post festum. This tactic of releasing information after the fact, when it is too late to act on it, is right out of Kissinger’s book, which has overseen many coup d’etats around the world.

Kissinger cemented his relationship with the Jackson Institute in 2011 when he donated his papers, covering an extraordinary slice of history from the invasion of Vietnam to the invasion of Iraq. His professional life and papers are valuable assets to academics. Given that researchers have access to privileged and confidential information from men who shaped history like Kissinger, the objectivity of their research is beyond doubt.

Kissinger’s relationship with the Jackson Institute and the University is not unusual. He is the embodiment of an increasingly common standard model in high-profile careers, where one transitions from political power to economic power, and then ultimately to academic power. We at Yale have been lucky to participate in this process, benefiting from insightful lectures by world leaders like Tony Blair and Stanley McChrystal.

Universities like Yale play an important role beyond that of mere research institutions. They are also de facto guardians of our historical record, maintaining libraries and supporting scholars who write books and publish papers. Orwell’s oft-quoted aphorism “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past,” imposes on universities and academics a moral duty to treat the stewardship of our history with neutrality and punctiliousness.

In this light, it is reassuring to know that Kissinger’s papers at the Jackson Institute have been kept away from the prying eyes of the general public. This secure guardianship of history and Kissinger’s role in it is in contrast to rogue, publicly available datasets like the Public Library of US Diplomacy that include over 1.7 million documents from the Kissinger era. We can be secure in the knowledge that only impartial and informed scholars at the Jackson Institute have access to Kissinger’s papers. It is certain that these scholars, whom we have charged with maintaining and analyzing our shared historical record, are aided in their task by the secrecy around today’s talk.

Secrecy has been shown time and again to be a robust strategy. Secrecy is especially important in diplomatic matters, and in agencies of national security. In particular, the secrecy of ideas and facts guarantees those with access to confidential information — graduate students at the Jackson Institute and in the history department — a competitive advantage. After all, there exist ideas so important that they can only be said to a few, and so disturbing that they must be kept from the public. I’m sure Kissinger’s talk will be full of them.

Srinivas Gorur-Shandilya is a fourth-year student in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Contact him at srinivas.gs@yale.edu .

  • newhavencitizen

    I literally can’t tell if this is a joke or meant seriously.

  • theantiyale

    “These values must be put aside for some events, and Kissinger’s talk is one of them. Sometimes, it is necessary to create a space where young minds can be lectured to in private, on confidential matters in an event that must inevitably be secret.”
    ” In this light, it is reassuring to know that Kissinger’s papers at the Jackson Institute have been kept away from the prying eyes of the general public.”

    WHAT CURIOUS ELITIST LOGIC :
    THE YOUNG ARE TOO YOUNG FOR FREEDOM OF IDEAS AND THE GENERAL
    PUBLIC ARE TOO UNEDUCATED TO BE EDUCATED BY FREEDOM OF IDEAS.
    POPPYCOCK.
    What the Jackson Institute seems afraid of is possible
    protest of Mr. Kissinger’s presence.
    Whatever else Mr. Kissinger was, he was an enabler of the man who sought to
    circumvent if not undermine the U,S. Constitution: Richard M. Nixon

    Paul D. Keane
    M. Div. ‘80
    M.A., M.Ed.

    • Alex Bowles

      This is definitely a joke.

      • theantiyale

        My point about the geriatric Kissinger cleansed by decades of public amnesia and the emergence of a post-Watergate generation is valid, satire or not.
        He enabled the very president who sought to undermine the U.S. Constitution.

  • undergrad_14

    If this isn’t satire, I’m sorely disappointed.

  • http://www.showrealhist.com/ EDJH

    Keeping these histories nearly never seen
    http://www.showrealhist.com/yTRIAL.html
    is what the system does. Trustworthy?
    See Comment by EDJH here:
    http://yaledailynews.com/crosscampus/2014/03/25/details-of-private-event-with-kissinger-leaked/

  • RetiredBrady

    The whole irony of this spiel has been overlooked by myself after I saw the advertisement of the Poynter Fellowship event on April Fools. After 50+ years of current event observation, I can attest that American Conservatives have no soul.

  • http://www.showrealhist.com/ EDJH

    Keeping these histories nearly never seen
    http://www.showrealhist.com/yTRIAL.html
    is what the system does. Trustworthy?
    See Comment by EDJH here:
    http://yaledailynews.com/crosscampus/2014/03/25/details-of-private-event-with-kissinger-leaked/

  • johannesclimacus

    Most definitely a joke, and a great one. Well done Srinivas!
    I wonder if the editors at YDN realize it…

  • CallMeIshmael

    I like this kid. He sounds way, way too smart to be a Yalie.

  • surinam

    brillant.

  • puffthejapanesedragon

    This is the greatest satire I’ve ever read in the YDN. Thanks for writing this; I had a great laugh!!

  • jajagabor

    universities like Yale are actually the guardians of future war criminals… the very existence of Grand Strategies is a testament to that. Let’s all guess which of our classmates will be the one to covertly bomb the crap out of a nation??

  • Srinivas Gorur-Shandilya

    since a good fraction of those reading it are thoroughly confused: of course it’s satire.

    • http://www.showrealhist.com/ EDJH

      Your clear declarative is certainly welcome, given all the brainwashing that is incoming. Here’s an example of huge deception by omission.
      Happy Fifteenth Anniversary
      http://patrick.net/forum/?p=1240632#latest

  • theHague019

    Can’t wait to hear about how he turned a blind eye to the genocidal Khmer Rouge in Cambodia whilst bombing Laos and Vietnam to smitherines, and also about the Venezuelan coup attempt! What a leader by example for American diplomacy!

  • Stanley_Heller

    Very subtle satire…I hope. Very sad there was no protest at Yale of this criminal. For those who need to learn about Kissinger I’ve established a small archive of links here:http://www.thestruggle.org/archive_Kissinger.htm
    It includes David Levine’s classic political cartoon.
    Stanley Heller, ’69

  • http://www.showrealhist.com/ EDJH

    URL does not work!