The Daily Star,
The 'Unsettling Ignorance' of United States Officials
October 20, 2006
Lebanon - The Daily Star - Original
account of Jeff Stein [national security editor at Congressional Quarterly
of the ignorance of American officials when it comes to the basics of Islam is
cause for concern. Given that the "war on terror" is currently being
fought by U.S. troops on two fronts, in Afghanistan and Iraq, one would think
that all American decision-makers would be well-acquainted with the basics of
those countries and their cultures. But Stein, who has long had access to
Washington insiders, has revealed that a number of congressmen and top
intelligence and law enforcement officials know little about the
"enemies" with which the U.S. is at war, and that many don't even
know the difference between a Shiite and a Sunni.
three years, the United States has had a presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, both
of which have mixed Sunni-Shiite populations. The mere fact of America's
presence in these countries ought to have improved cross-cultural understanding.
One of the reasons that this has not happened is that American officials on the
ground administer their policies from heavily fortified compounds inside places
like Baghdad's Green Zone. With key decision-makers operating in these
cocoon-like environments, often knowing alarmingly little about the countries
that they are trying to shape, it's no wonder that the policies the U.S.
continues to pursue so doggedly are flawed.
of basic knowledge is especially worrisome when it comes to Iraq, where
violence between Sunnis and Shiites threatens to erupt into a full-scale civil
war. Without an understanding of the dynamics at play, how can the United
States ever hope to restore stability to the country? Official ignorance is
also troubling in view of the fact that the Bush Administration continues to
hint at an expansion of the "war on terror" in our region, through a
military strike on either Syria or Iran.
view here in the Arab world, it seems as though the American government is
unleashing a super-efficient killing machine without clear understanding or even
a clear objective. That kind of aimlessness - caused in part by ignorance about
this part of the world - could turn the imaginary "clash of
civilizations" into self-fulfilling prophecy.
VIDEO FROM DUBAI: 'AMERICA BROKE THE CAGE
ABU DHABI TV, Dubai: Excerpts excerpts from an interview with Iraqi Member of Parliament, Iyad Jamal Al-Din, Seprember 10, 00:02:31, Via MEMRI
BUT THE IRAQI BIRD DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO FLY'
"Blessed be America for giving Saddam a good kick, sending him straight into the abyss of jail. Blessed be America for giving Mula Omar a good slap, sending him straight into the garbage bin of history and into the dunghills of oblivion. ... Along came America and broke the cage open, but the bird does not know how to fly, because it has never used its wings. "
Iraqi Parliamentarian Iyad Jamal Al-Din