This past week, in an article titled, “Russia Experts See Thinning Ranks’ Effect on U.S. Policy,” the New York Times’ Jason Horowitz drew attention to the decades-long decline in funding Russian area studies on American university campuses.
…while the control of Crimea by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has brought America’s Russia experts in from the cold, the news media spotlight has also showed important shifts in how American academics and policy makers think about Russia, not to mention the quality and quantity of the people doing the thinking. Among those experts, there is a belief that a dearth of talent in the field and ineffectual management from the White House have combined to create an unsophisticated and cartoonish view of a former superpower, and potential threat, that refuses to be relegated to the ash heap of history.
The NYT‘s focus on the perils of shortchanging Russian area studies is certainly welcome, but it’s not as if Russian specialists (including some mentioned in the article) have a stellar track record when it comes to prognostication.
How many “experts” forecast the collapse of the USSR?
And the “best and brightest” in the field never forgave him for it.