Professor to assist Pentagon war effort

by Sarah McKenzie

and Amy Olson
A professor in political science and public affairs left the Twin Cities on Tuesday for the Pentagon to help with the conflict in Kosovo.
Ethan Kapstein, a distinguished McKnight University professor at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and the political science department, is a lieutenant commander in the Navy. Kapstein could be involved with the logistics of the bombing runs, said fellow professor Virginia Gray.
Claire Kapstein, his wife, who is a clothing design student at the University, said the professor does not have plans to fly to Kosovo and serve on behalf of NATO forces.
Kapstein was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
He will be away from his teaching duties at the University for at least two weeks, his wife said. She had just arrived home from Washington, D.C., Tuesday evening.
Kapstein is a former naval officer whose military status was previously reactivated during the Persian Gulf War, Gray said.
This time, Kapstein agreed to go on active duty, Gray said, and he will be attached to the staff that supports the secretary of the navy at the Pentagon, located outside of Washington, D.C. Gray said she expects Kapstein will remain stateside during his current service.
NATO troops have been bombing Serbian forces in the former Yugoslav republic for the past 21 days.
Since Kapstein’s area of expertise is international peace, Gray said his services seem appropriate.
Kapstein is not the first professor to leave the University for active military duty. Gray said former political science professor and Marine General Hal Chase would periodically “leave the University to go off to war.”
In an e-mail message on Tuesday, political science professor Larry Jacobs said Kapstein is “doing it out of a commitment to the ideals of a citizens’ army.”
Gray said Kapstein seemed excited about rejoining active service, and said his service might provide good stories to tell his students in future classes.
“We asked him why he wanted to go and he said, ‘To serve my country,'” Gray said. “He thought his expertise might be helpful.”
Political science department head John Freeman could not be reached for comment on how Kapstein’s absence would be handled.
Kapstein’s wife and family will remain in Minnesota while he is on active duty.