I received the email note that follows from Stephen Walt last night in response to my post yesterday about whether he was being demoted or not.
I think Walt’s views and account of his situation are level-headed and make sense and coincide with Kennedy School Dean David Ellwood’s account, published here on TWN yesterday.
It seems that the only “new and unusual” thing at Harvard is not Walt stepping down but rather Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz getting approval to post his attack on the Walt/Mearsheimer paper on the Kennedy School web page.
Here is Stephen Walt’s useful note:
The various reports about Harvard’s response to my paper are either deeply misleading or simply false.
First, I was directly involved in the decisions to alter the disclaimer attached to my paper and to remove the logo. This was done in response to some early news stories, which falsely described it as the product of two Harvard researchers, and termed it an “official” study. It was never a case of the Kennedy School or Harvard “distancing” itself from me.
Second, my decision to step down as academic dean was made months ago. I originally began a three year term in 2002, and agreed to a one-year extension at the Dean’s request last year. I made it clear then, and maintained it ever since, that I would end my service as academic dean at the end of this academic year. An announcement was sent to the faculty confirming this fact well over a month ago, and faculty were asked to propose suggestions for my successor. This step was taken long before the article was published (or before I even knew a publication date). The two events are completely unconnected.
I might add that I feel Harvard and the Kennedy School have behaved admirably in challenging circumstances. Many colleagues have been wonderfully supportive as well (whether they agree with the substance of our article or not). I believe that is true for the University of Chicago as well.
I hope this clarifies the situation.
Stephen M. Walt
John F. Kennedy School of Government
79 John F. Kennedy St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
So, I propose that we all get back to debating the important points that Walt and Mearsheimer make in their paper — but not ratchet up the battle assuming that Harvard is undermining one of its professors.
Dershowitz may like to — but Harvard thus far, no.
— Steve Clemons