Thinking up the surge, "winning" the war in Iraq, and rethinking America's military strategy. David Petraeus is a worthy pick for Prospect's public intellectual of 2008by James Crabtree / January 17, 2009 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2009 issue of Prospect Magazine
Earlier this year Prospect teamed up with Foreign Policy to list the world’s 100 greatest living public intellectuals, a contest won (after some sharp-elbowed campaigning) by the Turkish cleric Fetullah Gülen. But who has had the most impact in 2008? We gathered an all-star judging panel (see opposite) from the worlds of policy, media and ideas to find out.
The concept of “public intellectual” remains satisfyingly vague. Nonetheless, we instructed our panel to weigh up the field on three criteria: novelty, real-world impact, and intellectual pizzazz. Internal debate, along with soundings on our blog, First Drafts, created a shortlist of ten—the names you see on these pages. From there it was down to one judge, one vote. A three-way contest for the crown quickly emerged, with Roubini, “Thalerstein” and Petraeus all popular. Generally the panel voted according to type: the wonks liked Nudge, number crunchers wanted an economist, while foreign policy watchers thought the scholarly general deserving of the nod. On our website we provide details of all our judges’ votes, and their reasons. Ultimately, though, there could only be one winner. As in Iraq, so in Prospect: Petraeus surged to victory.