Is it about the schools?

Josh Marshall vents his spleen on whether the reconstruction of Iraq is going well of not. At the end of the post, he says: Every time I hear some conservative wag trumpeting “the schools, the schools!” I have to admit it gives me flashbacks to Herve Villechaize and the intro to Fantasy Island (“de plane, ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

Josh Marshall vents his spleen on whether the reconstruction of Iraq is going well of not. At the end of the post, he says:

Josh Marshall vents his spleen on whether the reconstruction of Iraq is going well of not. At the end of the post, he says:

Every time I hear some conservative wag trumpeting “the schools, the schools!” I have to admit it gives me flashbacks to Herve Villechaize and the intro to Fantasy Island (“de plane, de plane!”). The schools are great. But we’re not there to reopen schools.

As fate would have it, John Sviokla and Marvin Zonis have a Chicago Tribune op-ed today that says we should be in Iraq to reopen schools. The highlights:

While security is crucial to meet these challenges, the most effective means for making Iraq a future democratic and market-oriented country that will serve as the exemplar for other Arab states is its education system. True nation-builders know that the key to changing a society is to get hold of its education system. No one understands that more than Islamic clerics. Their schools in Pakistan are the breeding grounds for Al Qaeda recruits. Young boys who spend their days in memorizing the Koran are not likely to have a nuanced view of the world or the intellectual equipment to understand and tolerate other ways of thinking…. Teaching people is a much more powerful and much more successful long-term mechanism for generating a stable, democratic and market-oriented Iraq than any amount of infrastructure projects. Nation-building requires major funding dedicated to rebuilding the infrastructure of secular knowledge in Iraq, which would come at a fraction of the cost of establishing security and building roads and telephones, water and sewerage systems, pipelines and power plants.

Indeed. To be fair to Marshall, he ends his post with, “to come soon on this issue of the schools.” I’ll be sure to update this post when Marshall explains himself more fully.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

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