We have seen examples in recent times when the publisher and editor of the Naval Institute's Proceedings were castigated for publishing "politically incorrect" articles. While there is considerable room for opinion as to whether an article is in good taste, or whether it accurately portrays the situation it purports to portray, the purpose of the Comment and Discussion section is to allow for the expression of just such differences of opinion.
I, for one, would press the Naval Institute to encourage professional controversy, not only in Proceedings but more particularly in professional seminars, where junior officers appear to be less inhibited in expressing opinion and challenging the conventional. Providing opportunity and encouragement for discussion is the most valuable service that the Naval Institute can provide to the continuing development of professionalism in our Navy.
A vice president of AT&T, Admiral Brooks was the 54th Director of Naval Intelligence from 1998-1991. He was commissioned in 1959 and holds degrees from Fordham University and Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Dr. John Allen Williams
For the individual scholar/commentator, the U.S. Naval Institute provides irreplaceable for a for academic work on naval policy issues. Naval Institute seminars feature speakers with serious things to say to the naval profession—often to the consternation of those who prefer not to rock the boat. The Proceedings is the one place where an article dealing with such matters can be read by everyone professionally concerned with them. The greater benefit is for the naval profession, however. Too many are willing to restrict the free flow of facts, ideas, and opinions on naval matters—especially on issues in which the Congress or the media are interested and political battle lines are drawn.
The position of the Naval Institute as a friendly but impartial forum for ideas counteracts these forces. Without an ax to grind (except support for its authors), Proceedings continues to build its reputation as the premier military studies journal. Its reach beyond the military and into the community of interested and influential civilians guarantees a wide audience for the most controversial ideas. All these must be aired—the good as well as the bad—if the profession is to progress. The real professionals can sort out the ideas for themselves.
Dr. Williams is an associate professor in the Political Science Department at Loyola University Chicago. A U.S. Naval Reserve captain, he also serves as Executive Director, and a fellow of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society at Northwestern University.