Valedictorian, Class of 2011
June 11, 2011
I’d first like to say what an honor it is to share the podium with such esteemed and distinguished men as COL Bostick, Dr. Fausel, and the Honorable Mr. Woolsey.
I would like to thank Dr. Lenczowski for his vision and inspiration in establishing the Institute which has become, in many ways, my second home. I would also like to thank Dr. Klocek and Dr. Smith and all of the wonderful professors I have been fortunate enough to learn from over the course of the last three years. You truly make IWP the special place that it is.
Finally, I’d like to thank my family for all of their love and immense support, especially: my parents who first recommended that I look into IWP when I first started contemplating graduate school; my grandmother who came down from Connecticut to be here today; my sisters Elizabeth and Natalie and my brother-in-law Ian, with whom I have spent countless hours discussing various paper topics; my mother-in-law Carole; and last but certainly not least, my wonderful and beautiful wife Kara who put up with me for the past three years and whose love and support have inspired me more than she will ever know.
Attending the Institute has been the most significant and transformative academic experience of my life, for which I am extremely grateful. When thinking about the importance of IWP, I recall a quote from the great statesman George Kennan. In a lecture he gave at the University of Chicago in 1950 on the topic of World War I. Kennan mentions a “curious characteristic” of democracies, especially the United States: democracies are peace-loving and do not like to go to war; but once bellicose sentiments are provoked, total war is the result. Kennan’s thought is worth quoting in its entirety:
[In foreign affairs] Democracy is uncomfortably similar to one of those prehistoric monsters with a body as long as this room and a brain the size of a pin: he lies there in his comfortable primeval mud and pays little attention to his environment; he is slow to wrath – in fact, you practically have to whack his tail off to make him aware that his interests are being disturbed; but once he grasps this, he lays about him with such determination that he not only destroys his adversary but largely wrecks his native habitat. You wonder whether it would not have been wiser for him to have taken a little more interest in what was going on at an earlier date and to have seen whether he could not have prevented some of these situations from arising instead of proceeding from an undiscriminating holy indifference to a holy wrath equally undiscriminating.
It is to prevent the emergence of such a monster that we are here today. In essence, The Institute of World Politics was created to address this harrowing problem. By implementing all of the elements of statecraft to serve the national interest, grounded by Natural Law and the Western Moral Tradition, you graduates sitting here today will be directing future American grand strategy in the hopes of avoiding Kennan’s proposed fate. IWP has prepared each of us to do our part to confront impending international realities and challenges with moral clarity.
Congratulations Class of 2011!!