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[Washington Babylon]

The Rumsfeld Fellows: Advanced degrees in bungled invasions


When last spotted, Professor S. Frederick Starr was snuggling up with Washington lobbyists employed by the Kazakh government. Starr, the one-time Soviet advisor to President Reagan who currently heads the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), is now teaming up with former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld in another venture of dubious academic integrity.

Rumsfeld, who has kept a low profile since being fired from his post as Secretary of Defense, has created a foundation whose goals include “encouraging young people to go into government” and generating “support for Central Asian republics.” One of its major grants, I’ve been told, went to fund a new CACI fellowship program for “young leaders” from the region. The first group of fellows has just arrived at CACI.

Felisa Neuringer Klubes, a spokeswoman for SAIS, confirmed that Rumsfeld had provided funding for the program, though she did not specify an amount. Accepting Rumsfeld’s financial support generated internal debate at SAIS. Some at the school apparently felt that taking money from Rumsfeld was improper, given his disastrous role in the Iraq War (“Stuff happens,” he said famously of the looting that broke out soon after the invasion) and involvement in the torture scandals.

CACI took the money, but opted not to burden the visiting academics with the title of “Rumsfeld scholars.” Even the former defense secretary recognized that his name would be radioactive.

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