Author and Academic Adventurer
A graduate with an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from New York University (1985), I have always maintained some sort of academic connection. Over the years, when not in field as a journalist, I developed a side career as a guest lecturer at leading US universities (Columbia, Georgetown, Berkeley, Northwestern, Princeton to name just a few). Outside the United States I have also spoken at leading universities or foreign policy-related institutes in Azerbaijan, Belgium, Canada, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Russia, Turkey and the United Kingdom (including the House of Lords).
In addition to my books—my main focus, and much cited throughout academic literature on the Caucasus—here are a few of my main academic (or quasi-academic) periodical publications over the years:
2012 ‘The Success of the Spin Doctors,’ Journal of Muslim Studies, London
2010 Lead chapter in ‘The Guns of August 2008’ (Cornell/Starr, editors) M.E. Sharpe
2000 ‘Remembering a Winter of Discontent,’ Washington Quarterly, Summer
1999 'An Anti-ethnic Diatribe,' Washington Quarterly, Fall
1999 'Baku Boom Gone Bust,' Washington Quarterly, Summer
1997 'Catch 907 in the Caucasus,’ National Interest, Summer
1993 'Russia’s Hidden Hand,’ Foreign Policy, Fall
I have included some of these in the "Articles" section of this site.
Then, after some 25 years "in the field," in 2005, I accepted an invitation from The University of Montana (Missoula)’s Central and Southwest Asia Institute (Geography) to develop classes on the Caucasus and Turkey and take over a class on the Middle East. It was my first taste of real academia, and it was not sweet: the level of infighting and back-stabbing was appalling, and I left in utter disgust in 2008, taking up a down-graded job at UM's rival, Montana State University (Bozeman) which also happened to be a lot closer to my home (pals, etc) in Livingston.
At MSU, I again taught courses on the Post-Soviet Caucasus and the Middle East, but also developed two highly successful diplomatic simulations/debate competitions: the Model Arab League (which won accolades on the state (Missoula), regional (Salt Lake City) and national (Washington, DC) levels under the years of my tutelage (2008-13). I then also created a “Model BSEC”, or simulation of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation in order to explore post-Soviet/Warsaw Pact relations in that complex area of the world. Sadly, we had no one to play with (meaning any other university) and that highly succesful class died after three years (2010-12). Ah, well.
Here is a fun link to the "Model BSEC" class, which is also included as a link in the Videos/YouTube section on this site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmLvPkHXhbs
The MSU Model Arab League team, meanwhile, got bored with our annual crushing of my former school (UM/Missoula) between 2008-2011, and next jumped from state (Montana) to regional (Rocky Mountain West, hosted by the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where we went up against a variety of well-prepared schools in both 2012 and 2013. We did very well the first year; and in the most recent competition, took the absolute plurality of awards, with "bests" across the board: Best Chair, Best Country, Best Delegate x 4 (of 5) plus a lot of "honorables", too. In other words, we clearly won the "Best School" award, had won been given.
We already had a taste for the "Big Show" (the Nationals in Washington, DC) after I had convinced the National Secretariate to allow MSU to represent 'Observer' state Eritrea against 23 other Big Boy schools (West Point, Northeastern, etc) on the basis of the Model BSEC video mentioned earlier. The 2011 MSU youth studied up on this dysfunctional Red Sea state, went to Washington as a 'guerilla' delegation--and left our mark: the new players (who knew the rules) were the Bad Boys On The Block. And yet we still manged to walk away with one 'Honorable Mention'--and get invited back.
In 2012, the MAL National Secretariate (DC) gave MSU full delegation rights to represent problematic Bahrain--then in the very midst of its own 'Arab Spring" nastiness. We leapt at the chance, and this time we went in with a full delegation--and with voting rights, etc. Despite (or maybe because of) the MSU team's sometimes abbrassive (realistic?) position, MSU came back with a nice batch of awards. These included a delegate elevated to chairmanship of the Environmental Affairs committee.
For little "Moo-You" Montana/MSU in DC, this was huge.
Then came the shocker: Montana State University had been selected to represent Palestine--Palestine!--at the MAL nationals in Washington, DC in 2013!
This was an invitation (or perhaps a very high seeding) to go for national gold...We worked the year; we were ready to give it our best shot. We waltzed through Salt Lake for preparartion, winning the regionals (although no winne was declared), and then flew on to DC to joust with the Big Boys--West Point, Northeastern, Northwestern, George Mason...
Well, we did not make it to Number One, although MSU came close: the team returned with multiple awards and runner-up status, as well as the coveted "Palestine" committee chairmanship for 2014.
Here is a press clip; pix are in the right column.
"MSU debate team wins awards at national competition
MSU News Service Summary:
Competing against 23 other universities, MSU's 15-member Model Arab League debate team scored multiple awards in its best showing ever at the group's annual national competition held April 11-14 at Georgetown University
BOZEMAN -- The Montana State University Model Arab League debate team scored multiple awards in its best showing ever at the group's annual national competition held April 11-14 at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. MSU competed against teams from 23 universities, ranging from West Point to Northeastern and Northwestern universities.
Team captain and head delegate Shannon Collaer , a sophomore from Idaho Falls, Idaho, majoring in history and religious studies, was selected as chairperson for the Palestine Committee on the national Secretariat for 2014, a coveted position.
MSU won awards for competition in the areas of social affairs, economic affairs, Palestinian affairs, as well as a team honorary mention, or runner-up for its overall representation of Palestine.
“I joined MAL with two goals in mind: to learn more about the Middle East and become better at public speaking,” said Devon Norden, a senior from Havre majoring in political science and international relations. Norden, who also competed with the MSU MAL team last year, served as a justice for the Arab Court of Justice. “Now, I am leaving the program with an extensive knowledge of Middle Eastern politics along with the ability to effectively debate at a national level. These skills are ones that I will take with me for the rest of my life and, because of that, MAL is an experience I will never forget.”
The Model Arab League is a diplomatic simulation based on the real-world, 22-member Arab League based in Cairo. Similar in many respects to Model United Nations competitions held throughout the U.S., MAL delegates intensively study all aspects of their respective countries, and are then divided into a variety of core delegations.
"You will learn more about the culture, mannerisms, language, politics, and regional breakdown of the Middle East in this program than any other three to four classes combined,” said Rob Ricketts, a junior in political science major from Polson.
Nicholas Vergara, a freshman from Chile with dual interests in paleontology and economics who served on the economics committee, was declared the new Palestinian Prime Minister-designate when the real-life Palestinian prime minister resigned and was replaced by the chief economics expert in the real-life Palestine.
While in Washington, the MSU delegation visited the embassy of the Palestine Authority to interview the ambassador about nuances of policy, received a briefing from Sen. Jon Tester's staff and visited the office of new U.S. Rep. Steve Daines.
Elin Suleymanov, the ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan, hosted a reception for MSU at the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce townhouse in Georgetown.
The MSU team of 15 students ranged from freshmen to seniors drawn from a number of departments, with the majority associated with the Department of Political Science, where the class is based. The team is advised by Thomas Goltz, who has taken the MSU team to the national competition for three years in a row.
“The competition was intense and the level of competence evinced by the other schools exceptionally high. President Waded Cruzado has every right to be exceptionally proud of her MSU team,” Goltz said.
Then, despite the laudatory reviews of both classes by the students, both classes were killed in June 2013 on the lamest of excuses.
Go figure, aside from this trope: "Infighting in academia is specifically so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small."
That cynical remark is usually attributed to Henry Kissinger (maybe because of his famous cynicism), but I suspect he picked it up from someone else, such as Kant, Dante or Plato.
It was fun while it lasted.
Happily, before the Model Arab League class died (and just before things started getting REALLY hot in Syria and the Arab World, my boss Dr. Jerry Johnson, then chair of the Department of Political Science at MSU (and about to be brought low by his 'colleagues') allowed/encouraged me to create a for-credit summer-school travel class to the post-Soviet Caucasus and Turkey.
We called it 'The New Silk Road,' and it was so special that I have given the event its own button in the 'Home' area on this web site.
"World Reaction To Goltz Appointment as Scholar at The University of Montana..."
Presentation on Chechnya and Post-Soviet Conflict at Notre Dame
UM and MSU Model Arab League Teams post shoot-out in Missoula, 2008 (MSU won; no victor declared)
MSU MAL Team Dominates SLC '13
MSU Team In Action, SLC 2013
MSU MALers in Action, SLC 2013
The Undeclared But Clear Victors at Model Arab League Western Event in Salt Lake City, 2013--MSU!
Letter to Goltz from Senator Max Baucus on MSU success in SLC
NCUSAR Invitation to MSU to represent Palestine at Nationals '13
Mini Delegation Visits Congressman Steve Dainnes in Washington 2013
Some of the "Instructor Evaluation" annonymous comments from last MSU Model Arab League team