Clements Center

National security concerns such as terrorist attacks or North Korean nuclear missiles often make headlines, but in-depth analysis is often missing from national security conversations, according to a new UT publication.

Hoping to bridge discussion gaps between national security scholars, policymakers and the general public, the UT System, UT Austin’s Clements Center for National Security, and UT Austin’s Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law launched the new Texas National Security Review journal last week.

“I think it’s more important now than ever to know what we’re talking about,” said William Inboden, the editor-in-chief of the journal. “We want to be featuring articles looking at the deeper trends driving North Korea’s behavior … and their efforts to threaten the United States.”

The online and print journal will include articles by national security scholars. Inboden said the mission of the journal focuses on making peer-reviewed national security articles understandable for policymakers and the public rather than just for scholars.

“We want the (articles) to be relatively free of jargon and accessible to people who are non-specialists,” Inboden said.

Paul Miller, a member of the editorial board, said right now many policymakers only read news articles, overlooking the work of national security scholars in academic journals.

“If you ask policymakers or elected officials what they read, they’re not going to cite a single academic journal,” Miller said. “We want to bring the best of scholarship to the policymakers.”

In collaboration with War on the Rocks, a national security commentary website, the journal will also present articles written by national security and military professionals.

Ryan Evans, editor-in-chief of War on the Rocks, said since journalists must cover multiple national security concerns, highlighting the voices of national security experts is important for preventing dangerous misinformation.

“Journalists are often the ones mediating between the public and these experts, but I also think it’s important for experts to have a direct channel to the outside world,” Evans said. “We should rely on people that have these experiences to inform the policies we make.”

With constantly developing national security threats, Inboden said it’s important to not only focus on daily security headlines. For Inboden, a historian, analyzing the past can help provide insights to combat the growing number of threats, including jihadist terrorism, uncooperative states such as Iran and North Korea and the possibility of disease pandemics.

“We want the journal to be speaking to the longer term and systemic national security issues facing the world,” Inboden said.

Inboden said in order to analyze all these issues, the interdisciplinary journal will publish articles by scholars of any discipline that are working on national security research. Scholars and professionals from outside the UT System and Texas will be regularly featured.

Having the journal based in Texas helps remove the political clutter in Washington D.C., Miller said.

“Getting outside of the D.C. Beltway helps us avoid hyper-partisanship in D.C., and it helps us get more perspective and not get caught up in the daily headlines,” Miller said.

The journal is an initiative of UT System Chancellor William McRaven’s Texas National Security Network, which brings together the work of researchers at all UT universities and institutions. The institutions specialize in different fields of national security research.

“It raises the profile of Texas, and for UT students it raises the profile of the education they’re getting,” Miller said.

When government officials plan for the future, they look to the past. To fill this need in the area of national security policy the University is launching the William P. Clements Jr. Center on History, Strategy and Statecraft.

William Inboden, an assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and former senior director for strategic planning on the National Security Council, will be the center’s director.

“When I worked for a decade in Washington, D.C., I saw over and over again how the president and secretary of state and other senior officials really sought out the lessons of history when they were wrestling with foreign policy questions,” Inboden said. “The policy community is very hungry for more history.”

The center is the result of cooperation between faculty of several UT departments, including the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, housed in the LBJ School. The Clements Center will focus on the study of history as it pertains to national security policy and will be funded in large part by the Clements family’s initial donation of $2.5 million.

Clements served two terms as governor of Texas and served in the Nixon and Ford administrations as acting and deputy secretary of defense. He died in May 2011.

George Seay, the chairman of the board of advisers for the new center and Clements’ grandson, said he and his grandfather both shared a passion for national security.

“My favorite subject matter, as was my grandfather’s, was national security policy,” Seay said. “If our position in the world isn’t pre-eminent, then we put into jeopardy the stability and security of our country, and I think it all starts with this subject.”

Seay said the collaborative nature of the project is what convinced his family to become involved.

“Most universities either teach history or national security policy, but teach them in isolation and don’t try to integrate them into one course of study,” Seay said. “The quality of the people at UT and the quality of the idea were just so clear that they won everybody over.”

The center will use the bulk of its initial funding for research grants, to sponsor forums and to create study abroad opportunities. Inboden said it will not be used to hire additional faculty.

“When we approached the Clements and Seay families to talk about setting up the center, I think one thing they were attracted to was the strength of the faculty resources we already had,” Inboden said. “There wasn’t a need for more money to hire more faculty because UT had already shown strong commitment to diplomatic and military history by having professors like Bill Brands, Francis Gavin, Jeremi Suri, Mark Lawrence and Bobby Chesney.”

He said he does not believe anything similar to the Clements Center currently exists in the United States.

“When you look across the country at different universities who have programs focusing on international security and security studies, most of the faculty working on those issues are in political science departments or in government,” Inboden said. “We realized that there were very few, if any, history programs that were developing specialties in national security.”

History professor Jeremi Suri said that much of the importance of the center will stem from its interdisciplinary nature.

“The problems we’re interested in studying and the challenges we want to prepare for don’t fall into one department or another,” Suri said. “We need to find ways to bring together our knowledge and bring our students into an environment where they can see the interconnections between these issues.”

Published on January 14, 2013 as "UT opens national security policy center named after former Texas governor". 

When government officials plan for the future, they look to the past. So to fill this need in the area of national security policy, the University is launching the William P. Clements Jr. Center on History, Strategy and Statecraft.

William Inboden, an assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and former senior director for strategic planning on the National Security Council, will be the center’s director.

“When I worked for a decade in Washington, D.C., I saw over and over again how the president and secretary of state and other senior officials really sought out the lessons of history when they were wrestling with foreign policy questions,” Inboden said. “The policy community is very hungry for more history.”

The center will be a partnership of several UT departments including the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, housed in the LBJ School. The center will focus on the study of history as it pertains to national security policy and will be funded in large part by the Clements family’s initial donation of $2.5 million.

Clements served two separate terms as governor of Texas, as well as serving in the Nixon and Ford administrations as acting and deputy secretary of defense.

George Seay, the chairman of the board of advisers for the new center and Governor Clements’ grandson, said he and his grandfather both shared a passion for national security.

“My favorite subject matter, as was my grandfather’s, was national security policy,” Seay said. “If our position in the world isn’t pre-eminent, then we put into jeopardy the stability and security of our country, and I think it all starts with this subject.”

Seay said the collaborative nature of the project is what convinced his family to become involved.

“Most universities either teach history or national security policy, but teach them in isolation and don’t try to integrate them into one course of study,” Seay said. “The quality of the people at UT and the quality of the idea were just so clear that they won everybody over.”

The center’s initial funding will largely be used to fund research grants, sponsor forums and create study abroad opportunities. Inboden said it will not be used to hire additional faculty

“When we approached the Clements and Seay families to talk about setting up the center, I think one thing they were attracted to was the strength of the faculty resources we already had,” Inboden said. “There wasn’t a need for more money to hire more faculty because UT had already shown strong commitment to diplomatic and military history by having professors like Bill Brands, Francis Gavin, Jeremi Suri, Mark Lawrence and Bobby Chesney.”

He said he does not believe anything like the Clements Center currently exists in the United States.

“When you look across the country at different universities who have programs focusing on international security and security studies, most of the faculty working on those issues are in political science departments or in government,” Inboden said. “We realized that there were very few, if any, history programs that were developing specialties in national security.”

Unlike the Strauss Center, the Clements Center will have an intensive focus on the historical aspects of national security.

“The Strauss Center is much more broad in that they do cover national security but focus on many other contemporary foreign policy issues,” Inboden said. “The Clements Center is in a lot of ways an organic outgrowth from the Strauss Center, but we decided that the Clements Center merited its own strong identity and independent existence.”

History professor Jeremi Suri said that much of the importance of the center will stem from its interdisciplinary nature.

“The problems we’re interested in studying and the challenges we want to prepare for don’t fall into one department or another,” Suri said. “We need to find ways to bring together our knowledge and bring our students into an environment where they can see the interconnections between these issues.”

Suri said he feels enthusiastic about the opportunities the Clements Center will provide. Among other reasons, he cited the center’s linking of history and national security as an action that will illuminate the relevance of historical studies.

“There are so many people who are interested in history but don’t understand why it’s so important,” Suri said. “This center will create a place for public discussion about how we can use history to improve our society. What this center will do is make it clear to students why history matters.”