Juan Cole asks the obvious question about how serious the Bush administration is about Iraq being the epicenter of our fight against terrorism: How can we be serious about such a fight if only 33 out 1000 people who work at our embassy speak Arabic, and only 6 of them speak it fluently?
- 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.