Burdine Chronicles – September 2010

Dear Alumni and Friends,

There’s a little secret in the Department of Government that is really no secret at all: the department has struggled for years to field an elite program in international relations. The main stumbling block has been a lack of manpower. Despite the very significant, very real contributions that Harrison Wagner, David Edwards, and Peter Trubowitz have made to the discipline and the department, they are only three men, and for a long time have been the only colleagues keeping international relations going in this department. Wagner, who produced his magnum opus two years ago (“War and the State: The Theory of International Politics”) is nearing retirement. Edwards devotes most of his energy these days to undergraduate teaching. Peter Trubowitz, whose book “Defining the National Interest” won numerous awards, is still very much active. He has a new book forthcoming from Princeton, “Politics and Strategy: Partisan Ambition and American Statecraft,” and has published a number of high profile articles in the last few years.

I am happy to report optimism that our IR program is turning a corner despite its small size. The most promising development is that in Associate Professor Patrick McDonald and Assistant Professor Terry Chapman we have two scholars I am confident will be leaders in their field for years to come. McDonald’s book, “The Invisible Hand of Peace,” has won APSA’s 2010 Jervis-Schroeder best book award from the International History and Politics Section. Chapman’s book, “Securing Approval: Domestic Politics and Multilateral Authorization for War,” is forthcoming from The University of Chicago. And McDonald and Chapman have a coauthored article, “The Sword and the Coffers: the Fiscal Foundations of Sustainable International Peace,” under review. We will continue expecting great things from these two in the years ahead.

At the more senior level, Ami Pedahzur has been promoted to full professor, and he is dead set on making the department an international leader in the study of terrorism. We are also lucky to enjoy the expertise of Itty Abraham, whom we share with Asian Studies, and Michael Brenner, who will head the University’s new International Relations and Global Studies program and be a lecturer in the department. In addition, we enjoy collaboration with four political scientists who are IR specialists in the LBJ School and hold courtesy affiliations with Government: Eugene Gholz, Ethan Kapstein, Alan Kuperman, and Kate Weaver. The new Strauss Center for International Security and Law is the first unit devoted to international relations.

We have had a setback in the resignation of George Gavrilis, who was a great asset to the department during his short time here, but we have new hires in the pipeline, and with time there are plans for a major expansion of the IR faculty, including filling an endowed chair with a distinguished scholar, and the possibility for several entry-level positions. Currently, we are recruiting for the Charles N. Wilson Chair in Pakistan Studies, which may not be an IR hire, but it could be, in addition to an entry level, tenure-track position. We are also working on a joint-hire at the assistant professor level with the Strauss Center, a joint effort of the LBJ School, the Law School, and the College of Liberal Arts.

Of course, we’ve been here before: bright young scholars and promises of expansion, but we’re moving forward with a glass half full mentality, and very much looking forward to adding to an already distinguished IR faculty.

Gary P. Freeman, Chair