Kyle Long, New York, N.Y., Letter to the Editor, desmoinesregister.com
In an op-ed on Feb. 12, Brett Bruen highlighted initiatives he and colleagues undertook at the University of Tikrit in 2009 to counter extremism in Iraq [What it takes to overcome extremism]. Bruen recounted efforts to advance English language acquisition there to break down communication barriers. The example was meant to demonstrate how undervalued centers of learning are in wars of ideas and to advocate for U.S. public diplomacy strategies that leverage inherent American advantages in academic English and entrepreneurship.
I applaud Bruen’s underlying argument and I have no reason to doubt the transformation he purports to have occurred at the University of Tikrit. But I do take issue with his characterization of the institution as “the most pro-American university in Iraq.” That distinction belonged then, as it does now, to the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS), a private, not-for-profit university founded in 2007 by a diverse group of Iraqis.
AUIS students come from all of Iraq’s 19 provinces to its welcoming campus in southeastern Iraqi Kurdistan to study undergraduate degree programs grounded in a liberal arts curriculum or graduate-level business programs, both of which are taught in English by faculty from the U.S, Europe and the Middle East.
I hope that the administration, faculty and students of the University of Tikrit do indeed support American values and interests, but let us also recognize that another institution in Iraq is conceived at its core to accomplish such ends.
— Kyle Long, New York, N.Y.