Prof. Kenneth deGraffenreid and the route to an American understanding of statecraft

March 30, 2010  |  ARTICLES

deGraffenreidProfessor Kenneth deGraffenreid, a true scholar-practitioner with a rich background in the intelligence field, is proud to be a founding professor at IWP.  In fact, his conversations with IWP founder John Lenczowski helped develop some of the main aspects of the Institute that were present at its founding, and continue today.

For instance, both Prof. deGraffenreid and Dr. Lenczowski realized after their service on the National Security Council (Prof. deGraffenreid as Senior Director of Intelligence Programs, and Dr. Lenczowski as Director of European and Soviet Affairs), found that the United States needed a school that taught foreign policy from a distinctively American viewpoint. 

Prof. deGraffenreid observes, “Foreign policy is not electrical engineering, which works the same no matter what polity you are in… this is why IWP is different – because it recognizes that the United States is different when it comes to international matters.”

And how is the U.S. different?  According to Prof. deGraffenreid, the U.S. is different than other nations because the framers of our Constitution took a unique view of the purpose of government.  A big part of government’s responsibility is foreign policy, which should be, in turn, animated by the values in our Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution. 

When officials enter the U.S. Government, they swear to defend the U.S. Constitution.  This goal of their work differs from those of nearly every other nation, even those closely aligned with America’s culture and interests.  For instance, in Britain, the oath of allegiance is to the Queen, and officials swear “defense of the realm.” 

Prof. deGraffenreid believes that the oath taken by American officials should be taken seriously: “I tell the students that if you are in your career, and you don’t know why or how what you do is contributing to the defense of the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic – or worse if it hurts the Constitution – stop.  And do something that does defend the Constitution.”

Thus, those entering national security and foreign affairs in the U.S. need to study the Constitution and how it affects American foreign policy, or their preparation for their job is inadequate.  The Institute of World Politics offers this type of education, which benefits our future U.S. leaders, and provides an interesting perspective for its students from abroad. 

Faculty who do what they teach

Another founding idea of the school developed in discussions between Professors deGraffenreid and Lenczowski was the idea that students entering the world of international relations should be taught by people who have had real work experience in that world – as well as a rich academic background. 

Prof. deGraffenreid observes that often, “In Washington, we tend to believe things happen because of people thinking and making a decision.  This is true in one sense – leaders need to decide.  Much of what happens in American foreign policy, though, happens outside of the Beltway, by people who are not necessarily philosophers.”  A healthy dose of practicality from a professor who has done work in the field helps prepare IWP students for real jobs in the field. 

IWP therefore focuses heavily on having scholar-practitioners as its professors.  As Prof. deGraffenreid says, “Figuratively speaking, these are the people who know how to play the instrument, but also know how to teach it.”  Faculty at IWP have both done what they teach, and stepped back from it to ask themselves what it means in a larger sense, and how they can teach others about it. 

Prof. deGraffenreid finds that, “I’m more and more convinced that we should not abandon this practitioner element, either at IWP or in [education in general]… We don’t win wars or cold wars or maintain peace just because we sit back and make decisions… it also depends on the people on the front line.”

Encouraging students’ creativity and responsibility

Prof. deGraffenreid believes that America provides an opportunity for citizens to embrace both creativity and responsibility. 

He observes that, “When I served in Naval Aviation, I had a theory that if everyone just did their job, the airplane would not take off at the scheduled time.  At some point, someone had to do a little more than their job calls for… Likewise, national security does not happen until some percentage of the people involved do more than is required.” 

That’s why he asserts that graduates armed with an IWP education are precisely the people who are prepared to do that extra work necessary to secure our nation and cultivate peace around the world. 

Professor deGraffenreid not only believes that classes taught by scholar-practitioners are superior to those taught by just a scholar or just a practitioner – but he is one of IWP’s scholar-practitioners himself.  He has served as Deputy National Counterintelligence Executive from 2004-05, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Support, at the Department of Defense from 2001-04, as the Senior Director of Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council from 1981-87, as a Senior professional staff member on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, as a Senior Fellow on Intelligence at the National Strategy Information Center, and is a Retired Captain in the U.S Navy Reserve.

He is also a graduate of Purdue University and Catholic University of America, where he earned an M.A. in National Security Studies and International Relations and completed all but his dissertation for a Ph.D.

Dr. John Lenczowski observes that, “There are few people in America with the breadth of experience in the intelligence field that Prof. deGraffenreid has.  When serving in the White House, he deserves credit for having done as much as almost anyone to improve the intelligence and counterintelligence capabilities of the United States.  On top of these extraordinary achievements as a practitioner, he is one of the pioneers in the academic study of intelligence in the United States.”

IWP students are truly fortunate to have Prof. deGraffenreid as their teacher and mentor as they prepare for professions that are some of the most vital – professions that protect our way of life and promote good relations between nations.