Introducing Lieutenant General James Dubik, SSP’s New Director of Teaching

Photo Credit: Penn State Law

By Ashley Rhoades, Reporter

While we are sad to bid farewell to Dr. Robert Egnell as he returns to Sweden to teach at the Swedish Defense University, we are thrilled to introduce Lieutenant General (ret.) James Dubik in his new role as Visiting Professor and Director of Teaching at Georgetown’s Security Studies Program (SSP). LTG Dubik comes into this position armed with a wealth of experience in both the study and practice of security. No stranger to the world of academia, LTG Dubik received his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy from Gannon University, his Master’s Degree in Military Arts and Sciences from the Army Command and General Staff College, and his PhD in Philosophy from the Johns Hopkins University. As an officer in the U.S. Army, LTG Dubik served in myriad leadership positions, culminating in his role as the Commanding General of the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I) and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq during the critical timeframe of the 2007-2008 Surge. Applying his own real-world experiences in security to the realm of policy and analysis, LTG Dubik has also authored an extensive list of publications, including articles for Army magazine and the Institute for the Study of War, as well as his in-progress book, Waging War Justly: Whose Job Is It? In this interview with the Georgetown Security Studies Review, LTG Dubik shares more about his background and experiences leading up to his decision to join the faculty of SSP.

What brought you to Georgetown, and what attracted you to the Security Studies Program in particular?

I love teaching, and I had an opportunity during my career—even though I was primarily an infantryman, a paratrooper, and a commander—to have taught a couple of times. I taught for three years at West Point and then for a year at the Command and General Staff College, and I love interacting with students and being challenged by fresh questions and perspectives. When I retired from the military, I went back to finish my Ph.D. and was invited to be an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown. I enjoyed that a lot, and when this current position opened up I applied for it and was lucky enough to be selected. One of the great things about Georgetown for me is that it’s a Catholic university, which I personally like a lot, and the Security Studies Program is a world-renowned program. And one of the goals I had for myself after retirement from the Army was to do my part to contribute to the next generation of national security specialists. So having the opportunity to teach at Georgetown in this program was a dream come true for me.

In the course of your career, you have lived, led, and served in countries all over the map, from Iraq to Thailand to Poland. How has experiencing other cultures in this manner influenced your perspective on the field of security studies?

My experiences abroad have helped form my opinion about security studies. I’ve seen how several different nations from around the world view their own security, and I’ve come to realize that there is an awful lot of commonality in what nations seek, and a lot of commonality in how they go about seeking it. So, that has given me a good foundation for a broader understanding of international security than merely an American perspective. I’ve also seen how the national security strategies of various nations actually play out in their military forces because of the number of military forces that I’ve trained with, so I have not just the theoretical understanding from studying different regions, but a very practical understanding from interacting with those regions.

In your research, one of the topics you have focused on has been the changing nature, conduct, and understanding of war. Could you elaborate on what this field of research entails, and touch on some of your other research interests?

I have a diverse set of interests, which has been both a blessing and a curse, but my dissertation topic was on just war theory, specifically on the subject of senior military and political responsibility in the conduct of war. This is kind of a new field, because most just war theorists believe that political leaders have the responsibility to determine whether the war is just or not and whether to enter a war, and that military leaders should only conduct a war. My research has shown that that is not the case: political leaders and senior military leaders have a very important role in the conduct of war as well.

I have also written quite a bit about what’s changing in the conduct of war. I don’t believe the nature of war has changed very much, but I believe the conduct of war, how it’s being fought, who’s fighting it, has changed and will continue to change, and that this will force governments to alter the way that they organize their military forces and organize their national security apparatus to face the challenges that we now see before us for the foreseeable future.

One of your many roles has been as President and CEO of Dubik Associates. Can you briefly explain your work there?

My wife and I formed a consulting company when I retired from the military to allow us an opportunity to do a variety of things. On her part, she has primarily focused on intelligence consulting with various intelligence agencies. She had a very long career in the CIA that allowed her to be a spokesperson for the CIA, she worked in the State Department, and she helped form the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, so she’s got a lot of experience and applied it to consulting for a few years.

On my part, I have helped several nations think through changes in their military structure and I have written quite a bit through the Institute for the Study of War about developing and indigenous security forces, both military and police. And I have also, under Dubik Associates, worked with the Catholic Church in America helping bishops, priests, and pastors improve their leader development models and their temporal management affairs—financial management, personnel management, and project management. All of these are the types of consulting I do under the umbrella of Dubik Associates. 

In addition to continuing to teach a section of 501, one of the courses you will be teaching for the Fall 2015 term is “Ethics of War.” Could you give us a preview of the topics and issues this course will cover?

The Ethics of War course is designed around the three parts of traditional just war theory: jus ad bellum, the portion that deals with justice in going to war, jus in bello, the portion dealing with justice in the conduct of war, and jus post bellum, justice in ending a war. Basically, the course is divided into those thirds, with an introduction seminar on each of those thirds and two or three debates on subjects in each area that are currently in a state of ambiguity, in flux. The idea is to let the students have an opportunity not just to learn the traditional principles of just war theory, but also, through debates and in-class arguments, to have a chance to apply those principles in ambiguous cases.

As SSP students, we often strive to apply what we learn in the classroom to our own careers or service beyond Georgetown. To that end, what lessons or ideas that you learned in the course of your own studies did you find most applicable to your professional experiences and/or military service?

I’ll say first that the overall philosophy of applying principles to real life cases is a central part of the Ethics in War course, so it’s not just a theory course, but very much theory discourse. Second, one of the things that attracted me early on in my life was moral philosophy, which is the thorniest of all sections of philosophy because it applies to the real world, and the real world is messy. It’s always ambiguous because you never know the full set of facts you’d like to know, and yet in your life you have to make decisions. Whether those decisions are where to go to school, who to marry, what career to enter, whether to have children—these are all very important life questions and none of them have mathematically neat answers. And in my life as a professional military officer, certainly I had faced a number of cases where neat answers were not possible. So learning early on how to first determine a good set of principles by which to live, and second how to apply those principles in ambiguous and tough cases was something that helped me not just in my professional life, but also in my life writ large.

As we head into another year of classes, what advice—based on your own experiences in higher education and in your new role as Director of Teaching—would you give students as to how to make the most out of our SSP courses?

Well, I got my Master’s Degree from 1979 through 1981 and reached “All But Dissertation” status for my Ph.D. in 1982. I then had a large break before I went back to finish my Ph.D., which I just did in 2014. My advice to students is to take a long view; education is a lifelong affair, and the focus should be on learning your field in as much breadth and depth as you can, then on continuing that learning once you finish a degree and being open to continual learning after that.

I’m just very excited to start this phase of my life; it’s not too often that a person retires from one career after 37-plus years and has an opportunity like I’m going to have at Georgetown, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

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