1927-2008: Samuel Huntington: A Tribute to the Provocative, Brilliant, and Intellectually Fearless Cofounder of Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy, March-April 2009 | Go to article overview

1927-2008: Samuel Huntington: A Tribute to the Provocative, Brilliant, and Intellectually Fearless Cofounder of Foreign Policy


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When Samuel P. Huntington and Warren Demian Manshel founded Foreign Policy in 1970, their explicit goal was to attack entrenched orthodoxies in the Washington debate. They promised a journal that would be "serious but not scholarly, lively but not glib, and critical without being negative."

Huntington passed away on December 24, grandly and rightly praised as one of the world's most influential thinkers. His long career as an intellectual impresario was less well known: With his fertile mind and boundless energy, Huntington produced not only groundbreaking books and articles but also an amazing array of academic and editorial initiatives, of which this magazine is only one example.

To mark this legacy, we could think of no better way to pay homage to this intellectual giant than to discuss his ideas. We asked a group of respected scholars--some his former students, some his sparring partners--to share their thoughts on the man and his lasting work. In keeping with Huntington's own tradition of free-wheeling intellectual debate, we asked them to highlight both those ideas of his they admired and also those with which they disagreed. We've included their tributes--with the full text at ForeignPolicy.com.

As many of our colleagues have noted, Huntington was at heart a contrarian whose first instinct was to be deeply suspicious of the conventional wisdom. His great skill was in showing how such wisdom was often wrong, and at times even dangerous. We at FP have tried to continue this tradition. For showing us the way--and for his many other contributions--this magazine is one of the many grateful institutions that will miss him.

--The Editors

THE THINKER

Samuel P. Huntington always asked big questions and made controversial arguments that forced his readers to think. His relentless curiosity, commitment to tackling important real-world issues, and intellectual fearlessness were both inspiring and daunting. That rare combination of traits may explain why he is the only foreign-policy intellectual whose fan club includes realists, liberals, and neoconservatives.

--Stephen M. Walt

Of all the great political scientists in the past half century, Sam Huntington stands out as the only one who has made fundamental contributions to each of the four subfields of political science: political theory, American politics, international relations, and comparative politics. Sam had a unique gift that might be called an "Intellectual Midas touch"--whatever he wrote became a classic.--Minxin Pei

Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, "The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself." The bulk of Huntington's research was dedicated to the poking and prodding of that statement.

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1927-2008: Samuel Huntington: A Tribute to the Provocative, Brilliant, and Intellectually Fearless Cofounder of Foreign Policy
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