Gen. Petraeus’s keynote address at the SHAFR convention this coming Friday

This message is from Carolyn”Rusti” Eisenberg and Margaret Power on behalf of the H-PAD Steering Committee.


General Petraeus to Give Keynote Address at SHAFR (Society of Historians of Foreign Relations) Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, June  21-23.

Member Protest Continues!

How to Help …


As previously reported, the professional organization of historians, who study American foreign relations has invited General David Petraeus to be their keynote luncheon speaker.

While SHAFR has long had an admirable record of recognizing diverse points of view in its Roundtables and Panels, the selection of a Keynote speaker –who is honored and paid– is in a different category. Furthermore, in the case of General Petraeus the organization is not permitting questions from the floor and has reserved the right to pre-screen any written questions in advance.

Protesting these appalling developments, on May 26 a group of concerned historians, wrote an open letter to the SHAFR Council, signed by 277 historians, of whom 141 were members of the organization. While taking seriously the necessity for free speech and presentation of diverse perspectives within the organization, they point out the difference between “engaging current and former policymakers and elevating their positions with the special honor of a keynote lecture.” They also cite the specific record of General Petraeus in contributing to the suffering and chaos in both Iraq and Afghanistan, which continues to the present.


Text of letter and signatories here:

For updates on their website:

To this point, SHAFR leadership has been unresponsive to their concerns. Despite requests for a more balanced event, the procedures for the post-lecture discussion have been made more rigid.

How to Help:

**If you are considering attending the SHAFR Conference  in Philadelphia, there will be a meeting of concerned historians:

We invite you to join us for an informal meeting to discuss the intellectual mission of SHAFR, questions and concerns about this year’s keynote, and ideas for improving practices in the future. This is an informal gathering convened by the organizers of the open letter protesting Petraeus’ keynote at SHAFR this year.

When: Friday, June 22, 4:30-5:30PM

Where: The 18th Century Garden in Independence Park 339 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

Link to Map of Meeting Location:

SHAFR has archived correspondence relevant to this issue here.


**If you will not be in Philadelphia, but have concerns about this academic honor for General Petraeus, you can write an individual letter to Amy Sayward, SHAFR Program Committee:

This was the announcement from SHAFR Program Committee:

Questions for General Petraeus? Those attending the keynote luncheon will find blank 5″x8″ notecards on their tables that they can use to write a question for the general. Notecards will be collected at 12:45 so the moderator can integrate them into the keynote session.