This summer, students at Fordham got a master class in the art of international diplomacy from someone who has made a career out of it.
Hamid Al-Bayati, PhD, who served as the Iraq ambassador to the United Nations from 2006-2013, has been teaching United Nations and Political Leadership at the Lincoln Center campus as a distinguished adjunct professor.
The seven years that Al-Bayati spent working the hallways of the United Nations have enabled him to augment class readings with personal accounts and anecdotes about the dealings of international relations.
Even before that, Al-Bayati was well-acquainted with the challenges of diplomacy, which he detailed in his book From Dictatorship to Democracy: An Insider’s Account of the Iraqi Opposition to Saddam (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).
That history helped set the table for discussions about some contentious times in the UN’s recent history—from the resolutions adopted in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 the response to 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan to the 2011 resolution authorizing the use of force in Libya.
The class reading list includes memoirs by George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Leon Panetta. Last week, Al-Bayati took the class to the UN’s Secretariat Building for a personal tour.
“We’ve compared the positions of the different political leaders and we’ve tried to diagnose the mistakes that President Bush Sr. committed in Iraq, and then President George W Bush, as well as President Obama. We [look at]what they could learn from them to do better,” he said.
He said the biggest challenge in creating the course was narrowing the material down to just one course, as he said one could teach an entire class just on the Security Council alone.
Al-Bayati’s course is a continuation of the strong UN-Fordham relationship. According to Fordham psychology professor, Harold Takooshian, PhD, Leila Doss, a UN staffer, supervised an internship program for 18 Fordham undergraduate students in the 1990’s.
Al-Bayati finishes the course this week, but it will be repeated in the fall by journalist-psychologist Dinesh Sharma, PhD, the author of The Global Obama: Crossroads of Leadership in the 21st Century (Routledge, 2013) and Barack Obama in Hawai’i and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President (Praeger, 2011).
Al-Bayati said the class has been both highly theoretical and practical, with students showing interest in UN careers.
“My advice is they should know something about everything and everything about one thing,” he said. “The UN includes every issue you can imagine.”