Reactions to the CIIA post/Op-Ed

First I want to thank friends – old and new – for your warm emails regarding the CIIA post and subsequent Embassy Magazine op-ed.

I have however, received one critical comment. Ottawa Carleton University Prof David Carment or at least someone posing as David Carment posted the following comment on my blog yesterday.

Did any of you read the Eaves piece in yesterday’s Embassy magazine? I thought it was a bit harsh and more caricature then valid description. Had he sat in on the various Ottawa chapter meetings that CIIA has organized on Failed and Fragile states the picture he portrays would be much different. These meetings have been a nice mixture of young and old, diplomats and practitioners and academics mixed with pragmatism and idealism. I also thought his selection of fellows a bit odd. To my mind a research fellow is someone who has an actual research programme and at least in a few of cases this doesn’t hold. A friend and colleague JS Rioux hasn’t been at Laval for over two years – he now works for the federal government.

He even gets the affiliation of Cohen wrong – he is cross appointed with our school and journalism at Carleton.

Does the CIIA still sponsor a journal or two? It’s worth mentioning. that to rebuff the claim that it is/was out of touch.

A few friends pointed out that curiously, the comment reads like a letter, suggesting it might actually be from an email. So I thought I’d repost it here and see if anyone might be willing to forward along the entire (hypothesized) email chain. If you have a copy please send it to me here.

Just to respond to the letter’s criticisms… If Prof Carment has been attending CIIA meetings that have a good cross section of people (age, background, political perspective) then great! It is my sincerest hope that the CIIA has broadened its membership. However, I’m fairly confident that if we could look at its membership rolls, I’m not sure we’d find the distribution Carment describes.

As for my selection of fellows… I think Carment and I have an honest difference of opinion on who and what the fellows could or should be for. While some of the people I highlighted are academics or emerging academics (and so might have a traditional research agenda) others are very much practitioners whose work affects Canadian foreign policy or sheds light on interesting aspects on international affairs. Others, like JS Rioux and Ben Rowswell, are a little bit of both.

Almost none are from the comfy old-boys network of diplomats and academics (indeed this is why I selected them) but I suggest that each has a unique and important experience to reflect upon and share with the Canadian public (as well as the foreign policy elite).

I used JS Rioux old Laval webpage as a link because it was the only site I could find with at least a partial bio. Apologies that the info is out of date, I thought it better to supply something rather than nothing.

As for the failure to get Cohen’s affiliation wrong, this addition was made to the piece made by Embassy Magazine. I’m sure they regret any error.

I suppose there are those who think the CIIA is fine the way it is… but years of deficit spending and a declining membership tell me that it is not. Yes, my letter was blunt, but at least it asks the tough questions. The CIIA in its present form was unsustainable. Now that it has a saviour, it be a shame if it landed back in its current crisis because it didn’t use the opportunity to evolve.

Note: The David Carment responds in the comment below and then the discussion continues the following day here.

3 thoughts on “Reactions to the CIIA post/Op-Ed

  1. David Carment

    David, not sure why you think anyone would want to impersonate me. I don’t want to get into a debate about the vitality of the CIIA. We all know it has had it problems even its members recognize that, so what you have said in that regard is not new. This is why its membership has agreed to the new structure and were considering this change for some time. The purpose of my response was to point out some problems in your assessment mostly its veracity. First let me point out that I am not an Ottawa U Professor as you suggest above (the website link is a dead giveaway). Second, even if Embassy magazine did assign the wrong University to Cohen’s name its your article and you get the final say on its contents. Third, I am not a member of the CIIA either but I can say the meetings that I have co-organized with them or particpated in do not in any way fit the description you gave. Its a shame you were not able to attend these meetings and others like them. I think you would think much differently about the CIIA and the members you criticize and probably have made quite angry, if you had. Fourth, I notice a discprenacy between those names you provide in your blog and those that appear in Embassy Magazine – was this more editing on their part ;). Fifth my reference to JS Rioux is that he is not an academic and has not been for several years. Like Ben Rowswell he works for the government. Do you think it appropriate that Fellows be drawn from govt departments? Finally you mention the need to dismantle the old boys network – what exactly does this phrase mean and who are you referring to? Is nominating persons known to you or with whom you have co-authored op. ed articles not an old boys network by another name? Sorry if my points seem harsh but if you are going the take up the mantle of Canada’s Foreign Policy blogger “par excellence” its important to get the facts straight and provide some balance to your analysis.

    Reply
  2. David Carment

    David, not sure why you think anyone would want to impersonate me. I don’t want to get into a debate about the vitality of the CIIA. We all know it has had it problems even its members recognize that, so what you have said in that regard is not new. This is why its membership has agreed to the new structure and were considering this change for some time. The purpose of my response was to point out some problems in your assessment mostly its veracity. First let me point out that I am not an Ottawa U Professor as you suggest above (the website link is a dead giveaway). Second, even if Embassy magazine did assign the wrong University to Cohen’s name its your article and you get the final say on its contents. Third, I am not a member of the CIIA either but I can say the meetings that I have co-organized with them or particpated in do not in any way fit the description you gave. Its a shame you were not able to attend these meetings and others like them. I think you would think much differently about the CIIA and the members you criticize and probably have made quite angry, if you had. Fourth, I notice a discprenacy between those names you provide in your blog and those that appear in Embassy Magazine – was this more editing on their part ;). Fifth my reference to JS Rioux is that he is not an academic and has not been for several years. Like Ben Rowswell he works for the government. Do you think it appropriate that Fellows be drawn from govt departments? Finally you mention the need to dismantle the old boys network – what exactly does this phrase mean and who are you referring to? Is nominating persons known to you or with whom you have co-authored op. ed articles not an old boys network by another name? Sorry if my points seem harsh but if you are going the take up the mantle of Canada’s Foreign Policy blogger “par excellence” its important to get the facts straight and provide some balance to your analysis.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Responding to David Carment

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