From Tamara Cofman Wittes
This will be my last post on MESH for the foreseeable future. On Monday I will take up new responsibilities that will take me away from the wonderful discussion that unfolds on this page. I’ll be serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, with specific policy responsibilities that include democracy and human rights (and, yes, the Middle East Partnership Initiative) along with public diplomacy.
MESH has done what some thought impossible: built a successful and well-read group blog on Middle East affairs, one that produces a sustained, relatively unpoliticized, thoughtful, and empirically grounded discussion among academics and policy analysts on the politics of the contemporary Middle East. I’ll admit that, at the start, I was skeptical about the project Stephen Peter Rosen and Martin Kramer proposed—but they convinced me to give it a try, and they, along with my excellent colleagues on this blog, have built a rich conversation that brings together multiple perspectives and disciplines in a way that is always fresh, and very often truly enlightening, even for experts in many regional policy topics. I have learned a lot here, and for that I am grateful to Stephen, Martin, and all my smart and dedicated fellow MESH members.
The associated paper series, conferences, and other activities have built on the value of this unique forum and demonstrated the payoff from continued dialogue between the ivory tower and those inside the Beltway over Middle East policy. That’s a lesson I’ll certainly bring with me into the State Department, and I look forward to reading and learning from my MESH colleagues in the months and years to come.
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