Henry Kissinger and Foreign Policy
So I saw Henry Kissinger last night. I can't blog anything specific about it because it was off the record. But it wasn't very exciting anyway. The discussion afterwards with David Westin, President of ABC News, was much more interesting and dynamic. I don't know why some public speaker type events are so juicy and others are so dry. I can't imagine that Kissinger, whatever his other faults are, lacks in the ability to conduct a dynamic meeting.
I need to learn more about foreign policy, national security, and economics though. I'm reading Daniel Ellsberg's Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam
and the Pentagon Papers and, obviously, Christopher Hitchens' The Trial of Henry Kissinger
. My reading list in this field is pretty long though. I wish there were book groups about these kinds of books the way there are book groups for novels.
I had dinner the night before last with an old friend from Athenian, and we were reminiscing on the kind of reading that our American history teachers Phil Garone and Carl Fredricksen gave us as sophomores in high school---Leon Litwack was our base text (the same book that they use at Berkeley for American history), and we were routinely assigned chunks of books like Eugene Genovese's Roll Jordan Roll
or Howard Zinn's A People's History
of the United States. It never occured to us that we wouldn't be able to do the reading because it was above our heads--we were expected to do it, so we did. Honestly, I haven't had that level of multi-pronged engagement with nitty gritty issues of modern policy, history, and economics since high school. This was partly my fault for taking mainly Classics in college (for American cultures I took religious studies, and for International studies I took an course in 19th century diplomacy), but also because the big lecture followed by intensive office hours model that worked so well for me in physics doesn't really do much for me in these kinds of fields. I need the seminar style, the thorough and careful discussion of one book at a time. Actually, I know I could have found those kinds of courses at Berkeley if I had looked hard enough, without having to go through the gatekeeper classes, but there just wasn't time in four years what with physics, Classics, and biology. I've said it before, and I'll say it again---a Berkeley education really should take 5 years.
Right now I'm so amazed at what I'm reading I feel like I could easily enjoy another year of upper division or masters level course work in international relations and public policy, but who knows, the feeling might pass.