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December 09, 2006

Only six fluent in Arabic at US Iraq embassy-panel

This speaks volumes, doesn't it? There are surely many more Arabic speakers in the U.S., but the Bush administration chooses not to send them to Iraq. Chooses also not to put them in the FBI, or the CIA, both of which are dangerously low on Arabic speakers as well.

Link: Reuters AlertNet - Only six fluent in Arabic at US Iraq embassy-panel.

Only six fluent in Arabic at US Iraq embassy-panel

06 Dec 2006 22:20:12 GMT Source: Reuters

WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Among the 1,000 people who work in the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, only 33 are Arabic speakers and only six speak the language fluently, according to the Iraq Study Group report released on Wednesday.

"All of our efforts in Iraq, military and civilian, are handicapped by Americans' lack of knowledge of language and cultural understanding," the bipartisan panel said in its report. "In a conflict that demands effective and efficient communication with Iraqis, we are often at a disadvantage."

The report, written by five Republicans and five Democrats, recommended the U.S. government give "the highest possible priority to professional language proficiency and cultural training" for officials headed to Iraq.

It is interesting to note that the beginning, end, and middle of that lack of knowledge of language and cultural understanding was wrought at the hands of an administration that can barely disguise its overt bigotry and xenophobia. I mean, who would take the cultural understanding of an embassy seriously when the leaders who appoint people to that embassy suffer from the following embarassments:

A president ready to go to war in Iraq without knowing who the Shiites and Sunnis were, and what the significant differences were between them (this is documented in former Ambassador to Croatia (and son of the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith) Peter Galbraith's book, The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created A War Without End, claiming President George W. Bush was unaware that there were two major sects of Islam just two months before the President ordered troops to invade Iraq.)

A secretary of defense who had NO CLUE the historical and cultural value of the Baghdad Museum, which he sat and arrogantly allowed to be looted, with the dismissive comment, "Stuff happens." Ironic, especially because what existed inside those walls documented the birth of civilization as we know it, the birth of Sumerian literacy etched with a stylus on clay.

And only people who are functionally illiterate could not know the significance of what was being destroyed, bringing that birth of literacy into full circle with their utter ignorance.

The only thing I saw more outrageously xenophobic than that deeply embarrassing attitude came at the hands of a cable news network, which had the outrageous blindness (and lack of understanding of irony) to put a "branding" tag line on the part of the Iraq War that happened after the "Mission Accomplished" aircraft carrier speech, "The New Iraq."

See what happens when stupidity is allowed to run rampant? Did no one at that network understand that people in a 200-year-old nation had no right to call anything "New" in the fertile crescent, in an area that had kept civilization alive for thousands of years? In a place some had seen as the site of the original "Garden of Eden?"

The "New" Iraq, indeed. Someone should tell Rumsfeld how "stuff happens," as a far older nation outlasts him.

 


December 9, 2006 at 11:22 PM in Favorite Links, News to Note, Politics, Rhetoric, Television, Travel, War/Terrorism | Permalink

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