Candace recently called our attention to an op-ed by John Agresto that explained how both right and left have been wrong on Iraq, the former especially after the fall of Hussein. Agresto went to Iraq to help re-build its system of higher education, and, especially, to add a component of liberal arts to its largely professional and vocational aims (medicine engineering, etc.). Liberal arts can be key in forming a populace capable of reflection and self-government. (Leave aside what has happened to liberal studies here. John, former president of St. John’s College in Santa Fe, was thinking of the real thing.) Here is the situation in Iraq’s universities produced by the looting that our then starry-eyed Secretary of Defense described as an offshoot of ”freedom.” This is from an interview Agresto did with Academic Questions for the Summer 2006 issue:
Except for the three universities in the Kurdish region and a very few others, the universities were fundamentally stripped bare–no desks, chairs, equipment, computers, typewriters, copiers, lecterns, paper, pencils, blackboards, fans, wiring, plumbing, or books. And what couldn’t be stolen, like libraries, was generally burned.