On Thursday, August 30, 2018, American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) hosted a symposium titled ‘A Conversation with Dr. Francis Fukuyama: Today's Identity Politics, from Global to Local.’
Dr. Francis Fukuyama is Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Mosbacher Director of FSI’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.
Fukuyama’s recently released book Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, and themes discussed in it featured prominently in the discussion with other speakers on the panel, who included Dr. Barham Salih, Iraqi Kurdish political figure and AUIS board of trustees member; Abdulwahab Alkebsi, Managing Director for Programs at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE); and Erik G. Jensen who holds joint appointments at Stanford Law School and Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.
Fukuyama, Alkebsi, and Jensen were in Sulaimani for a week-long Leadership Academy for Development, Iraq (LAD-IQ) training at AUIS for Iraqi government officials, academics, and members the business community on the role of public policy in private sector development.
The discussion began with examples of rising populism worldwide, especially in the United States and other western countries, and brief case studies of societies witnessing identity politics to varying degrees.
Commenting on his recent book, Fukuyama said, “It’s about the way I believe world politics has currently evolved.” He continued,“The United States and western countries are becoming a little bit like the Middle East.”
Panelists further discussed ways in which identity politics have played out in the West, similar to in the Middle East with Dr. Barham Salih recalling ironic conversations in the United States on how Iraqis would need to move past identity politics to see development in the country.
The discussion was followed by a Q & A session with audience members who took the chance to add their voices to the conversation.