The Claudine Gay saga is over after her resignation from the position of Harvard president, but the underlying cause of her appointment remains a problem, one that is much more harmful than the person of Gay. Of course, you are thinking about DEI, a corrosive ideology that has become present at every major institution.
Sadly, that is not the only problem and not what I am writing about.
Penny Pritzker is a famous Democratic donor and sits on the board of Harvard. She comes from a wealthy family, possibly the most influential in Illinois. Her grandfather created the Hyatt hotel chain. Her father was the president of Hyatt. Her brother is the governor of Illinois. And she has dedicated her life to saving the world, or at least she thinks so. You can learn more about her here.
In choosing Harvard’s next president last year, Penny Pritzker was not simply another voice and vote on the board. The Claudine Gay project was her baby. She recruited Gay and pushed for her to become the Harvard president because she was a devout believer in DEI. And she brings with her to U.S. foreign policy the same foolish and blind judgment that she showed in choosing Gay as the president of Harvard.
The most expensive non-military foreign policy project of the United States and the European Union is going to be Ukraine’s reconstruction. It is not a matter of charity, but self-interest that the United States and the rest of the free world help Ukrainians rebuild their country. Compared to its security and economic benefits, the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II remains one of the best investments in history, and the same will be true of Ukraine’s reconstruction if done correctly.
But reconstructing a country is not an easy task. As seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is not something that comes naturally. Many episodes in Afghanistan’s and Iraq’s postwar developments would be comical if not for the seriousness of the matter and that the American people paid for them. These include teaching the Afghan military to enforce public order with European sensitivity when it came to the use of force, teaching Afghan police officers how to treat women as done in Germany—which is a great idea only if not for the small facts that this was happening during wartime and that Afghanistan had just come out of the dark ages and needed a bit of time to adjust to German sensibilities—and ensuring that all minorities, as well as women, were represented in the Iraqi government months after toppling Saddam Hussein. All of these were important objectives, just not for countries at war and with medieval cultures. And they explain why the United States struggled so much in Afghanistan and Iraq. If they were key considerations for the implementation of the Marshall Plan, it is possible that European reconstruction would have never succeeded, either.
Enter a DEI champion in Ukraine. Penny Pritzker shares all those troubling views but also with greater zeal. And it is worrisome that she is going to force Ukrainians to implement them so they can rebuild their country. And you bet that she is going to do just that. She has very little real-world experience.
Her qualification is befriending a young Barack Obama in the 1990s and saving his 2008 campaign with her wealth. This earned her an appointment to be the U.S. Secretary of Commerce in the Obama administration and now the special representative for Ukraine’s economic recovery.
We have seen this story a lot. Those who have done things in life appreciate life’s complexities, moderate their ambitions, and focus on the task given instead of healing the world, in this case, the economic recovery of Ukraine. Those who have not done anything in life, such as Penny Pritzker, try to fix the world they hardly know or understand with their inherited fortune.
We got a glimpse of this in Penny Pritzker’s appointing Gay as the Harvard president, not because of Gay’s academic or management accomplishments, but because of her commitment to DEI. We are going to see it again in her Ukraine recovery efforts, where she is going to bring DEI to Ukraine, instead of ensuring that Ukrainians can fill their bellies with food, get their jobs back, and restore their economy.
Ukrainian economic recovery is imperative for its postwar success. It is receiving a lot of foreign aid, but it is also using its own economic revenue and taxes to spend on the war and maintain civil order during it. If you think that Penny Pritzker is just a postwar problem, you are mistaken. Her poor judgment, Ivory Tower, progressive echo chamber, and misguided ideology are going to be another obstacle to Ukrainian success and rebuilding.