Certainly, somewhere beneath her steady pose, Rice must know all this. After all, she has a doctorate in international relations, a field where such observations are carved into basic principles. And her essays, at least those written before she joined George W. Bush’s administration, reflect those principles. ~Fred Kaplan, Slate

Not necessarily to knock folks in IR or academics in general, but I promise you that people who spend as much time in school as it takes to get a doctorate in anything are far more out of touch with the real nature of conflict (except petty intra-departmental squabbling) than the average guy on the street. That said, Rice is hardly the poster lady for competent international relations scholars these days. But it does not take a doctorate in international relations to be aware that sometimes, as the man says, “these guys really don’t like each other.” Pondering on the distant seventh-century sources of the resentment does not necessarily make your awareness of this any more keen. What it does take is a less Pollyanna-ish view of human nature and a lot less of our own official nonsense that tells us that people of radically different backgrounds would all get along just fine if they got to know one another better and lived in “freedom and democracy.” If we want to stop the “jibber-jabber” on Iraq, we should surely start by stopping the “jibber-jabber” about democracy and the health of multiethnic societies.

As the late Sir Steven Runciman (who, I have on good authority, was received into the Orthodox Church before his death) observed about the Latins and the Byzantines, the Fourth Crusade was the climax of a period in which these two peoples got to know each other more and more and found out that they could not stand each other. To credit extensive background in IR with a serious grasp of reality is to take the first step down the primrose path to destruction.