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13 August 2006


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I have forgotten whether the press was credited with winning World War II. They clearly lost Vietnam and are trying to lose Iraq.


What is the purpose of posting The Advisor, since this paper seems far from your views, and is, in my view, pure propaganda and spin ?
(My intent is not to troll, this is a sincere question, that implies no agressivity, just curiosity)

W. Patrick Lang


I think it is important to make available the view that the US Comman in Iraq has of its own effort and attainments.

Those who think that command publications like "The Advisor" are cynical manipulations do not know the US armed forces.


It is a gross over-simplification to say that the "press" lost Vietnam, and an even grosser over-simplification to say that they are "losing" Iraq.

Are there no insurgents? Is there no "sectarian strife?" pl


I apologize. I was trying to be "funny".

The press didn't win WWII.

And it didn't lose Vietnam or Iraq.

Perhaps you could answer this question: "Why does the professional army persist in following the orders of grossly incompetent, pathetically stupid politicians motivated by greed and ego?"

Abu Sinan

Thanks for the link. I had a question for you. I was wondering what you think of the government language school in California?

I had heard that many of the military linguists who came out of this school when to Iraq and were completely unable to function.

I knew several Palestinians here locally who took very well paying jobs to go and translate for the US military. They both come back early because they didnt feel that any wage was worth dying over.

The both worked with military linguists and found their translation ability to be next to nothing.

They said they were functional, at a low level MSA/Foos7a, but could not function on almost any level on the street or with day to day spoken Arabic, which as we all know, is 100% different than what is taught in the classroom.

I know when I took Arabic in the university after learning it from travels in the Middle East and from my wife and her family, I had to almost completely UNLEARN the Arabic I knew because it was unhelpful for classroom, text book Arabic.

When I worked in the DoD I knew a fair amount of linguists because of my location. I know that linguists, at least in the Air Force, are required to have a "back-up" language, in the case of Arabic linguists, I was told it was Hebrew.

18 months of school, even full time, barely touches the tip of the Arabic iceberg. 18 months might work for a language like German, but it does not work for a language like Arabic, especially when you consider the fact that they must also have a "back-up language. Hebrew might be close to Arabic, but it is certainly distant enough to distract way too much from learning Arabic.

Do you know if at this school they are given any instruction into dialects, or is it completely MSA?

I have taken two years of university level Arabic and have four years of daily usage with my wife, family and friends, and I still have a hard time with some dialects.

Iraqi Arabic is unique enough to make it pretty difficult for someone who has not had classes on the dialect or has not had the opportunity to be around it for a period of time.

The Arabic I best understand now is MSA, foos7a, through reading papers and magazines, and watching TV, and the Khaliji dialect because of my wife's family and our friends.

Work and life has given me decent exposure to dialects from the Levant, and of course because of the Egyptian media, I know eGpytpian pretty good. But, put a hot blooded Morrocan in front of me mixing Arabic, French and Berber and I am lost.

I was just interested in our thoughts on this issue. Being that you taught Arabic, I am highly impressed.

Very few non native speakers of Arabic can ever master the language enough to be able to teach it.


Here is the explanation from Bolton of the Security Council Resolution. It is absolutely must reading. Must.



Does the body language of the marine and the Iraqi soldier on page 5 say anything about the relationship the two armies have? The Iraqi even has his finger on the trigger!

W. Patrick Lang

Abu Sinan

I have not had anyhting to do with DLI since I graduated from the place, first in Spanish and then in Arabic.

After DLI I studied Arabic at a University for a while and then started workng in the Arab World. It was not until I had lived in an Arab country for a couple of years and had a driver whom I forbade to speak anything but Arabic to me that I began to be proficient "on the street." I learned a great deal of grammar in graduate school from a Tunisian teaching assistant who was brilliant and possessed of the marvelous synthesis of Cartesian rationalism and school taught knowledge of Arabic that often characterises Maghrebians.

While I was at West Point I was asked to "inspect" the Arabic department at DLI. I do not know what it is like now but at that time:
1-the teachers were not qualified, being engineers, micro-biologists, musicians, etc. rather than teachers of language. they were all native speakers but had no idea how to teach language. They just went through the material in the book.
2-The course was designed to create passive "listeners." It was set up to create voice intercept operators for NSA (all enlisted) and did not seriously try to get people to talk.
I hope they are doing better.
I remember a conversation I had in Djerba once with a rug merchant. We were kneeling on a pile of rugs chatting each with a glass of tea when he said "Oh, my brother, all our lives we will struggle with the tongue of the angels and in the end will know we have failed." pl

W. Patrick Lang


You know the answer. You do not wish to be ruled by us. pl

Friendly Fire

Does anyone proof read it?

See the glaring typo under the picture on page 6.

Friendly Fire

Arbogast, I needed to take a shower after reading that drivel you just linked to.

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I have news for you:

Qala Rasul-ol-Allah: "Lasan-e ahl-ol-jinna al farsi-yon."

Persian is the Language of Heaven.

Abu Sinan

PL-"Oh, my brother, all our lives we will struggle with the tongue of the angels and in the end will know we have failed."

I love that one, I will remember that. Thanks for your insight.

I think the only way to learn Arabic is a mix of school, that really helps with the grammar, and a mix of the street.

The Westerner I know that speaks the best Arabic is the American wife of the Saudi Cultural Minister here at the DC Embassy.

She lived in Riyadh for 20 years and her Arabic is incredible, better than most Arabs I know. Credit that to university and years living in the Middle East.


Here's Churchill on military dictatorships from "The River War: An Account of The Reconquest of The Sudan," from 100 years ago:

"...But there is one form of centralized government which is almost entirely unprogressive and beyond all other forms costly and tyrannical--the rule of an army. Such a combination depends not on the good faith and good will of its constituents, but on their discipline and almost mechanical obedience. Mutual fear, not mutual trust, promotes the co-operation of its individual members. History records many such dominations, ancient and modern, civilised or barbaric; and though education and culture may modify, they cannot change their predominant characteristics--a continual subordination of justice to expediency, an indifference to suffering, a disdain of ethical principles, a laxity of morals, and a complete ignorance of economics. The evil qualities of military hierarchies are always the same. The results of their rule are universally unfortunate. The degree may vary with time and place, but the political supremacy of an army always leads to the formation of a great centralised capital, to the consequent impoverishment of the provinces, to the degradation of the peaceful inhabitants through oppression and want, to the ruin of commerce, the decay of learning, and the ultimate demoralisation even of the military order through overbearing pride and sensual indulgence."

Fits the Argentine Junta like a glove. Then there's the rather more concise judgement of German General Kurt von Schleicher when a military dictatorship was suggested to forestall the Nazis:

"You can do a lot with bayonets, but one thing you cannot do--sit on them for a long time."

W. Patrick Lang


You may well be right but your sentence has six loan words in it from Arabic. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

But of course it should: that is a hadith of the Prophet!

W. Patrick Lang


Sneaky, but effective. Mabrouk.

"Qala Rasul-ol-Allah: "Lasan-e ahl-ol-jinna al farsi-yon.""

Must be from a Shia collection of Hadith, but how good is the sisillah of witness?

So the "Prophet of god said that tongue of the people of heaven is Farsi?"

Why, then, is the Holy Qur'an in Arabic? pl

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I do not know the chain of witnesses.

Why God chose Hebrew and Arabic; you have to ask him.

cynic librarian

An interesting analysis of the pluses and minuses of Israel's invasion of Lebanon. This guy agrees with Olmert that Israel significantly damaged Hizbullah's war-fighting capabilities for now and the future.

I found the following interesting:

Israel and the US could not, and should not, tolerate the failure of yet another United Nations peacekeeping operation. The decision to respond would be inescapable and would inevitably lead to a wider conflict.

The only possible effective answer to Hezbollah's renewed missile threat would probably be a direct and devastating strike against those countries that supply the militia with weapons, training and finance: Syria and, more important, Iran.

Any failure by the United Nations and the Lebanese government to make the new resolutions stick, any failure to disarm Hezbollah and guarantee Israel's security, may well lead to the wider regional conflict they claim to fear most.

But of course everyone knows that I won't be happy until I see you in Tehran.

cynic librarian

I forgot the link to the article I quoted above. It's by Richard M Bennett, intelligence analyst and security consultant.


Col. Lang,
just do what we arab shias do when it comes to the Iranians and their claims on Islam. Take the missiles on offer, smile broadly and back away slowly.....

(just joking Babak honestly!)

W. Patrick Lang


I will ask if I have the opportunity even if through a glass darkly.

Of course, then there is the New Testament. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

The New Testament is not equivalent to the Five books of Geneis or the Quran since those two texts are considered to be the actual words of God.

The New Testament is equivalent to the Hadiths of the Prophet.

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

You shall see through the glass for: "God is the Light of heavens and Eath..."

In fact, I would not be surprised if the Apostle meant the mystical light that the practicioners of mysticism can see (a dot of light in everything).

leonard unger

Dear Mr Lang;
I found your post via Juan Coles Informed Comment. I enjoy your blog very much it is very refreshing in this age of Limbaugh and Glen Beck on CNN.

I have a few question if you have time. The UN ceasefire calls for Hezbolla to be disarmed in accordance with a previous UN resolution. I can't see Nassralah gently going into the night and becoming an unarmed politcal/religous party: whats your take?

The Lebanese army is approx 40% Shitte. Can the Shia soldiers and other Leabenese ethnic/religous groups put their lives on the line to disarm Hezbollah after the terriable destruction that their country just went through? The UN force may consist of Malyasian and Indonesian troops. Can both nations be keen to if necessary stop Hezbolla attacks on Israel when both nations have never had diplomatic relations with Israel ? If Hezbolla does fight the UN forces how eager would the citizens of such countries be to maintain their troops in the UN force?

Thank You for your Time;
Leonard Unger

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