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Athanasios Moulakis

Athanasios Moulakis asks LSU “What Hope for Afghanistan?”

What hope for Afghanistan? That is a question that has been on many Americans’ minds for a while now, especially after Sept. 11, 2001. It was also the question that Athanasios Moulakis, acting president of the American University of Afghanistan, addressed during a discussion at Hill Memorial Library last week.

“The short answer,” Moulakis said, “there is hope, but not much.”

Moulakis’ talk outlined the issues facing the Afghanistan population today, such as the country’s poor economy and education system.

“I don’t speak to you as a specialist on security. I can’t speak to you as a specialist on development. All I can do is give you an idea, a formulated list, of the things in Afghanistan by somebody concerned, because of my business as president of the university that is trying to be a part of the reconstruction of a very, very poor country,” he said.

According to Moulakis, the per capita income in Afghanistan is $2 per day, and life expectancy is 42. There are 5.5 million children currently in schools, but only about 1.2 percent ever reach the 12th grade. Only 24 percent of the Afghanistan population is literate. These are just a few examples of why people around the world don’t have much hope for the country.

On top of those issues, opium has now become a major issue for the country. Moulakis said that Afghanistan has become by far the largest producer of opium.

Moulakis asked, what are the maximum goals for which one can hope regarding the future of Afghanistan?

“One can hope for, ideally, a stable, prosperous, well-governed – dare I say – democratic, free-market Afghanistan. The minimum we need is a state capable of maintaining itself,” he answered.

Moulakis said that the improvement of Afghanistan should be structured by three pillars: security, development and good government.

“You cannot have economic development without security. You cannot consolidate security without economic development. You cannot have good government without security. Security itself would not be around without good government,” Moulakis said. “These things are interlocked.”

After the talk, LSU System Vice President of Communications & External Affairs Charles Zewe, on behalf of LSU System President John Lombardi and the LSU Board of Supervisors, presented Moulakis with an LSU medallion as a token of gratitude for his visit to LSU.

Moulakis’ lecture on “What hope for Afghanistan?” was sponsored by the LSU Department of Political Science, the Eric Voegelin Institute and Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

Moulakis joined the American University of Afghanistan in February 2008 after serving as a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., and an Onassis Foundation Fellow in Athens, Greece. Previously, he was director of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies of the University of Lugano. Over an 11-year period, Moulakis was Herbst Professor of Humanities and professor of political science at the University of Colorado, where he was also founding director of the Herbst Program of Humanities.

Moulakis, who received a doctorate of philosophy from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, has held other academic and administrative assignments at European and North American colleges, institutes and universities. His publication list includes a large number of books and articles on topics in the humanities, political theory, education and international relations. He has published and lectured in five languages and has received numerous academic honors and awards.

Ernie Ballard | Writer | Office of Communications & University Relations
March 2009