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The Intellectual Conformity of International-Relations Faculty

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A professor and university students in a lecture hall (Clerkenwell/Reuters) A dearth of conservative professors deprives students of crucial perspectives.

Americans may be repulsed by the fiasco in Afghanistan — a recent poll suggests only 25 percent approve of President Biden’s handling of the situation — but there is one constituency that fully supports his decision: the ivory tower. International-relations professors have been near-unanimous in their calls for American retreat from Afghanistan (and elsewhere.) When surveyed, fewer than 3 percent believed the war in Afghanistan is a top-three foreign-policy issue for the United States. In a May poll, nearly three quarters of international-relations faculty endorsed President Biden’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Similarly, 85 percent of professors approved of Biden’s handling of national security and 81 percent approved his approach to international human-rights issues. When the Trump administration temporarily called off peace talks with the Taliban in January 2020, a stunning majority of academics said the decision would have a negative effect on U.S. credibility with our allies, whereas today many argue the debacle will likely not damage U.S. credibility elsewhere.

Unfortunately, the academic debate about Afghanistan is the norm, not the exception. As survey after survey demonstrates, university faculty — particularly international-relations faculty — harbor worldviews that are wildly out of step with the American people and leaders of both political parties. Their worldview informs the courses they teach and the syllabi they assign. Absent greater exposure to more sensible and realistic points of view, we risk producing a generation that is out of touch and out of depth with the challenges at hand. From a totalitarian and expansionist Chinese Communist Party to a revisionist Russia to a murderously ideological Iran and North Korea, challenges to American leadership cannot be overstated. Given the generational nature of these challenges, one would think that our faculty’s priority would be to educate college students on these threats and equip them with the skills to emerge victorious, however defined.

It would surprise no one to know how extremely unbalanced faculty political views are, but sometimes data

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