What with the latest unpleasantness going on in the Middle East, I figured Brandeis’ in-house Think Tank, The Crown Center for Middle East Studies would have, you know, thought up something to say.
Instead their latest publication is about “A Landscape of Fragmentation in Saudi Arabia“. Which, you know, is probably important. It probably took a while to write, research, etc. There’s no objection to academic outfits doing legwork rather than just chasing what’s popular.
The thing is, the Crown Center as an institution has said nothing about the current war so far. Individual members have done interviews or been quoted in the media, but nothing from Crown itself.
Well, that’s not too big a deal. I mean, the individual scholars are probably doing feverish research, maybe some diplomacy, to deal with the situation. They have lives and other professional obligations, I’ll bet. But still. This seems pretty highly unusual.
The obvious guess is that Crown is cowed, unable to articulate a position or draw an analysis that won’t upset a potential donor. Donors are rather precious right now.
I don’t think that’s the case, however. Not with the Crown Center; I have a heap of respect for those guys. Still, the guns roar, the rockets fall, the children scream, and yet they are silent.
Afterthought: Of course, if anyone from Crown wanted to come to the blog and educate us on the issue, that’d be much appreciated. If my tone didn’t come across right, let me state it now – “I’m dying to know what the people at Crown think. Come on, let us read the goodies!”
5 responses to “Empty Crown”
[…] Empty Crown? January 9, 2009 2:36 pm shakeman Author, Beyond Brandeis, Break Blogging, International Issues, Tim The Crown Center’s response to Sahar’s recent post. […]
Yeah, but any monkey with a web browser can find them easily, which is why we see the proliferation of left-wing garbage on the ‘net while real ink is used for sensible stuff in the ‘papers. Once you’re online doing a search for whoever has your niche opinion (Fellman, perhaps by virtue of a seeming unwillingness to read anything else, is convinced that the views he holds are those of mainstream sane people) you can find any-ol’ made up stuff that you think is “the most helpful and relevant right now”. The Center, on the other hand, is devoted to doing actual research, making actual points, and, most importantly, using actual data, much of which is very hard to find right now.
Actually, this didn’t occur to me until just now: real data is hard to find because no non-Jazeera journalists are in Gaza today. On one hand, Israel doesn’t need to see them get killed, but on the other perhaps they’re relieved they won’t get captured there like other journalists have. At the same time, it means they truly must spend time watching Sderot, Ashkelon, Beer Sherva, etc. react to the rocket fire, something which they haven’t always been forced to do and to deal with themselves. If they want to report on Gaza they need to be close enough that they fall within rocket range.
Not that that’s related to the Crown Center, I just had an inspiration and thought I’d share… now, 4:32 am = bedtime…
The Council on Foreign Rleations, the IFPA, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies all have something up.
Listen, I agree with you up to a point, but surely Crown could do something.
For example, a “here’s some links to the most insightful papers we’ve written in the last 2 years that we feel are the most helpful and relevant right now” would cost nothing, take half an hour to create, and go a lot toward fulfilling their mission.
I agree with Gideon. The job of a think tank isn’t to make gut reactions. It’s to wait till all the facts are out on the ground and write thoughtful analysis. Any think tank worth it’s salt doesn’t publish on events that are still going down. Rather they publish after the event is over and try to draw things we can learn from it. If you want to know what individuals from Crown think that is one thing but to expect an official paper on the topic before they’ve had time to properly analyze it in context is not what they’re there for.
I’m not convinced it’s a bad thing. Lots of windbags talk out their ass as soon as they see something, often without thinking first. It might be a useful paradigm to have a Center consider whether it needs to make a statement (what good is that, anyway?) or actually do real research. There’s so much garbage out there, especially on that concerned listserv, where people write hasty analyses and conveniently remember to leave out significant details that impact a proper interpretation.
If the Crown Center is taking its time to evaluate whether Israel really used phosphorous bombs, or whether HAMAS really shoots rockets from mosques and kindergartens, whether Barak and Livni did this now because they’ve had enough or because it’s election season, whether HAMAS thought about the Lame Duck periods in two countries before ending the ceasefire….
A little breathing and thinking time might not be such a bad thing.
Wake me up when the IAF finds a target they didn’t hit yet!