“The National Interest” Appoints Justine Rosenthal as New Czar


justine rosenthal mike mosettig.jpg
(National Interest editor Justine Rosenthal talks with News Hour with Jim Lehrer Senior Foreign Policy Producer Michael Mosettig at New America)
I read many journals, including Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, The American Interest, and others — but I am particularly into The National Interest, the journal that realist Owen Harries ran for years within the Irving Kristol compound simultaneously balancing evolving neoconservative thinking with the important and then dominant currents of realist foreign policy thought.
When I was serving as Executive Director of the Nixon Center, I spoke with my then bosses — Dimitri Simes at the Nixon Center and John Taylor at the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace — about the possibility of trying to wrestle this important journal from Irving Kristol. It didn’t happen when I was there as I went to work in the Senate as senior foreign policy and economic policy advisor to Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), but years later, Dimitri Simes pulled it off and brought one of the great journals of foreign policy opinion over to his institution.
Today, The National Interest and its parent organization The Nixon Center have announced that Justine Rosenthal will succeed the talented and now academically-directed Nikolas Gvosdev as the journal’s new Editor.
Rosenthal has a sharp wit, knows her stuff, and gets marketing — and that is what “realism” as a field needs more of.
Too many realists think that they themselves have to convey a dark, Hobbesian world of anarchy, chaos, wars, and messiness to be effective. My pal John Mearsheimer is one of these types in my ‘friendly’ estimation. Rosenthal has the talents, in my view, to update the realist framework, spiff it up, provoke debates with neocons, liberal interventionists, and even with the close sibling of realism, the liberal internationalists.
According to an announcement I got a sneak peak at:

Rosenthal joined The National Interest in 2007 from the Atlantic
Monthly Foundation, where she served as Director. She has considerable experience in both think tanks and academia, including fellowships at the Brookings Institution and Brown University’s Watson Institute. She also served as director of the executive office at the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds a BA from the University of Chicago and MA and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science from Columbia University. Rosenthal has written extensively on international security, terrorism and nuclear weapons proliferation and has traveled widely in Asia as a Luce Scholar.

My hunch is that Justine Rosenthal will spice up the press releases that go forward under her watch. With all due respect to my friends at the Nixon Center, the release was a bit drab for such an acquisition. Rosenthal is sharp, intellectually tuned into the trends afoot in the national security field, and dresses — well — a bit like someone that the Devil Wears Prada must have been modeled on.
I think that The National Interest is going to be an exciting vehicle in its next phase — and all congratulations as well to the outgoing Editor, Nikolas Gvosdev, who has decided to take a teaching position at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
I’m a regular reader of his blog, The Washington Realist, which I hope he keeps up.
We’ll miss Nik Gvosdev — but very much look forward to what Justine Rosenthal does with one of the most important foreign policy journals in the business.
— Steve Clemons


14 comments on ““The National Interest” Appoints Justine Rosenthal as New Czar

  1. DonS says:

    Paul Nordheim, your English, I presume its your second language, is great.
    Americans have big mouths, i.e., we express our opinions a lot and often loudly . After 911, the biggest and loudest were of the jingoistic,swaggering sort. Other voices, even, or rather especially, in the run up to Iraq, who did not pump up the national testosterone, were quickly labelled traitorous, naive, and worse. The media helped not a whit, with small exceptions.
    What I think has happened is that, even though the swaggering jingoists have screwed the pooch, i.e., gotten wrong every policy decision since 911 that counted , they’ve lost their steam, including here on this blog, because — my theory — they’ve “won” all the marbles anyway and done everything possible to advance their constituency’s dreams, with the acquiescence of a supine opposition (implicitly, I don’t believe those who led the U S in a disaterous direction have any shame of conscience). The dems will probably win the fall election (no great consolation there) because everything’s gone so badly that the republicans are going to rightly feel the whiplash.
    But the foreign policy debate is still pretty constricted: you get the neocon bombing fantasies, or the realists advancing the niceties of diplomacy but essentially still into a version of American exceptionalism, the neo and liberal interventionists with heads stuck in sand, and the radicals or progressives who are (still) ignored or discounted and accused of being defeatists and anti-semites.
    Finally, I agree with your assessment that TWN is a good place for thoughtful and articulate people to express themselves. I appreciate them. Sady, most of the older generations, those raised in the 50’s and 60’s are either apathetic, coopted by or part of the establishment. It is always difficult for those within the establishment to raise critical concerns to address present challenges — especially when the current concensus is so far from what sane policy woulde be.


  2. Paul Norheim says:

    Sorry for the grammatical error:
    3X “would had been” – in my text above – should have be written
    and read as “would have been”.


  3. Paul Norheim says:

    “It is interesting to me, Steve, that no matter how much you
    profess yourself to be a “radical centrist”, the ongoing and
    emphatic base and support of your blog reveals themselves to
    be, mostly apolitcal in the partisan sense, and insistently
    progressive, IMO.
    Its also interesting that the assertive, even aggresive
    progressive posts, don’t seem to rouse much in the way of push
    DonS: I`ve been thinking about this too, and have come to the
    conclusion that this has everything to do with the changing
    historical circumstances.
    Would PissedOffAmerican, TonyForesta, JohnH, Caroll, Linda,
    Cathleen and others had commentated on this blog in the (Bill)
    Clinton years, if it had been here than? And how would Steve
    Clemons had formed his comments in those years? It´s hard to
    imagine, and it would certainly had been a completely different
    blog (if you ad the commentators as an important part of a
    To me, the dynamics in TWN are due to a combination of:
    A) the historical/political circumstances (the apparent, radical
    break with certain past traditions in US politics, represented by
    Bush/Cheney etc. since 9.11.01)…
    B) Steve Clemons`s adjustments to the current situation within
    his “radical-centrist-realist” approach.
    C) A lot of commentators with little or no power through the
    traditional political channels, who became desperate during the
    last years, and who, given the fact that Steve Clemons has
    “connections”, look at TWN as a vehicle to get heard, as well as
    a vehicle to express their desperation and anger, but also their
    struggle to understand and fight against the politics of the
    In other words: without Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld,,Feith, and
    other central characters who were operating in this decade,
    TWN certainly would have been a very different blog. This also
    makes me curious about how this blog will develop when Bush
    leaves office.


  4. ken melvin says:

    Believe the gentlemen n the photo is a younger Robt. McNeill.


  5. ... says:

    steve – an article on hagel over at huffington which supports your admiration for hagel in a round about way… i thought i would pass it on for anyone interested..
    also is there a reason it takes the captcha about 5 minutes to load???????????????????????????


  6. David says:

    I am not a centrist, and am discovering that I never really was, because it too often devolves into a compromise between right and wrong. But I find Steve Clemons’ perspectives helpful and the information in his posts quite often invaluable. And I don’t think he has any misconceptions about the neocons and the destructiveness of their agenda. He provides a valuable link to quite influential perspectives and policy makers. And he is proving more and more correct about Chuck Hagel, who is speaking highly of Obama, especially as regards Iran, and who is chastising McCain for what his campaign rhetoric has devolved into. I think Steve recognized a strain of intellectual honesty and common sense in Chuck Hagel that is well founded, regardless of some of Hagel’s past offenses. For that reason I pay particular attention to Steve’s take on who’s doing, saying, and thinking what. And when the situation requires it, as in the case of John Bolton, he does fight the good fight.
    I am free to think and comment completely outside of the establishment and any conventional wisdom, so I do, but I also respect and value the people trying to function within the system while still fighting for the right (which usually means against the political right).
    Thus can I see Obama’s faults from my perspective and still enthusiastically support this man’s campaign to become the next president of the United States, a very different job than mine as a private citizen analyzing, commenting, writing my representatives, writing letters to the editor, donating to campaigns and causes, working for candidates, and voting.
    And thus can I sometimes disagree with but enthusiastically support and appreciate The Washington Note.
    I do agree with the comment that we are way overburdened with right-of-center message-force multipliers, but I think that is in part a consequence of the tendency of the mainstream media to go along with whoever is in power, at least until they can no longer stomach it. I do also think we are suffering the consequences of a very well funded, long running reactionary assault on American journalism, including buying up the media and turning much of it into mouthpieces for corporate owners. But I also remember that it was only during my lifetime that the mainstream media had any period of being a genuine fourth estate, and that was only partially true, delivered to us by the reaction to the Viet Nam War and to the Nixon administration. The Reagan era brought the curtain down on that short-lived fourth estate.
    The internet offers our best hope at this point, just as Obama offers our best hope of breaking the old guard stranglehold and the misguided received wisdom coming from the “wise elders,” among whom I include people like David Gergen and most all of the senior talking heads, and against whom I see as a champion of a real fourth estate Bill Moyers (and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert).
    The neocons and their host in government the Republican Party are going to get their asses handed to them in November. And while there is only so much a president challenging the establishment can do, I think a combination of new Democrats and people like Chuck Hagel, plus old guard Democrats who are ready to end business as usual, are going to make more possible that we might imagine. But it will depend or whether or not voters will stand with them, and whether or not the corporate version of a fourth estate will offer something resembling responsible journalism on a consistent basis. I take what the media did in the runup to the War on Iraq as the very antithesis of a real fourth estate.


  7. Carroll says:

    Checking out Justine…it’s the usual.
    On terrorist groups….and someone tell her to get rid of that Bride of Dracula eye make up in thius picture please…it’s enough to scare the terriers to death.
    Another one on terrorism for profit…. She didn’t mention US or Israeli terror for profit though.
    Justine on Hamas – Israel


  8. TonyForesta says:

    Realists are in simplistic terms (neoconlites).
    While realists wisely and by necessity divide with the fascist elements of the neocon klans radical foreign policy designs, machinations, and predations – on social, economic, and other political grounds the two groups are indecipherable.
    That said Ms. Rosenthal will certain add a certain elegance to theright, or centerright “message-force multipliers”.
    Hopefully Americans will demand real change, turn left from current vectors. When that happens, the neocons will be forever damned, (as result of real investigations), and the realists will assume the mantle of the reasonedright.


  9. Carroll says:

    “Too many realists think that they themselves have to convey a dark, Hobbesian world of anarchy, chaos, wars, and messiness to be effective. My pal John Mearsheimer is one of these types in my ‘friendly’ estimation.”
    Huummmm….very strange comment. Maybe I am confused, I thought the realist were the ones trying to correct the dark, Hobbesian world of anarchy, chaos and wars espoused and created by the neos.


  10. DonS says:

    It is interesting to me, Steve, that no matter how much you profess yourself to be a “radical centrist”, the ongoing and emphatic base and support of your blog reveals themselves to be, mostly apolitcal in the partisan sense, and insistently progressive, IMO.
    Part of this may be mirroring your evil progressive twin 😉
    Its also interesting that the assertive, even aggresive progressive posts, don’t seem to rouse much in the way of push back.
    As you’ve said in the past, some of the assertiveness here has frightened off some of your more “respectable” (my characterization) interlocutors.
    My point, if there is one, is that those who rise to the bait you put out here are far less your radical right, or even radical centrists, it seems to me, but folks who are much more interested in really pushing the envelope of change. Sadly, or realistically perhaps, the future of policy development seems firmly in the hands of the establishment.


  11. JohnH says:

    “Too many realists think that they themselves have to convey a dark, Hobbesian world of anarchy, chaos, wars, and messiness to be effective.”
    In addition, too many realists think that they have to obfuscate, using code words and euphemisms instead of plain English, to be effective. Now what are those mysterious vital strategic interests that the US so desperately needs to control in the Persian Gulf? Show me the realist who will give you a direct answer in public, and I’ll show you someone who will tell you honestly why we’re so concerned about Iran. Of course, any credible realist that honest would probably have a bounty put on his head exceeding that of Osama.
    The sad truth is that neocons and realists mostly share the same hidden agenda but differ in the tactics used to hide it from the American people. After the Iraq debacle they are also starting to differ in how they prefer to pursue that agenda.


  12. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks WigWag…will try and do that. I’ve been doing more recommendations on FaceBook, but will try here as well.
    ringo — yes, I have a lot to say but am overloaded now. Just did three radio interviews on McCain, Obama and Cuba — and may have quotes in The Guardian tomorrow. More soon,


  13. ringo says:

    McCain just attacked Obama for his Cuba policy. I wonder if you have any comments, Steve?


  14. WigWag says:

    Steve, thanks for recommending Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs and the National Interest. I notice that none of these are linked in your
    “recommended section”. Referrals to good journals, blogs and periodicals are very valuable for me and I bet they are also be valuable to other readers of the Washington Note. Please keep the recommendations coming and, if possible, expand the “recommended section” on your site.
    Thanks very much!


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