WEST POINTERS VISIT BAGHDAD UNIVERSITY

This Army Times/AP report highlights some of the cultural obstacles we’re facing in rebuilding Iraq:

To the Army, flying eight West Point professors to lecture at Baghdad University was a chance to showcase the military̢۪s scholarly and humanitarian credentials.

For the Iraqi students and professors in attendance, the lectures smacked of education at the wrong end of an M-16.

“We don’t want them inside our university or inside our country,” said Fuad Hamdan, 24, a political science student, watching as U.S. troops frisked those entering the lecture hall.

This week’s series of guest lectures from the U.S. Military Academy turned out to be another example of what the Army considers its good works being misunderstood by those living under its occupation.

Although the lecturers were unarmed, their American security escorts carried M-16s into the classroom. Students and professors complained to a reporter afterward about the presence of armed occupation troops on the grounds of a center of learning.

“I can’t stand it when they put their guns in my face,” said a woman professor who asked that her name not be used. “This is a university, not a battlefield.”

The woman professor sat through a lecture Wednesday on recent trends in political science from Col. Robert Gordon, who directs West Point’s American Politics department. The Iraqi professor said she found Gordon’s material divorced from Iraq’s reality.

More relevant, she said, would have been an academic discussion on Americans’ views of Arabs, a popular topic on this campus of 40,000 that sprawls across a thumb of land bordered by the Tigris River.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.