Thursday, 24 October 2013

The NatSecWonk I Know

He really was a wonk. I know Jofi Joseph, the former White House national security staffer fired last week for his snarky and sometimes bilious tweets under the handle @NatSecWonk, and in person he was nothing like his obnoxious Twitter persona. On Twitter, Joseph railed against the humorless stiffs of the foreign policy establishment. About a Council on Foreign Relations event he once tweeted: “Is the Guiness World Record for largest density of tools in one room about to be broken?” That was a bit like the wrench calling the hammer a tool: Joseph was a deeply-rooted denizen of that CFR world, a foreign policy professional who specialized in the technical realm of nuclear nonproliferation. He even married another expert in the field. And in person—although I found him pleasant and likeable—he was much like those “tools”: mild-mannered, highly intelligent, and seemingly snarkless. Over lunch or coffee he was less interested in trashing colleagues than in diving deep on Iranian centrifuge capacity or deterrence theory in a post-Soviet world. Consider this email he sent me in response to something I’d written a few years ago:

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