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28 January 2011


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Did I get banned? If I did it has to be my haphazard style and not opinions.


'So thorough-going has been the witch-hunt that AIPAC and its attack dogs have conducted over the past 25 years against anyone with real Middle East expertise that the U.S. government now contains no-one at the higher (or even mid-career) levels of policymaking who has any in-depth understanding of the region or of the aspirations of its people."
Posted by: JohnH'

And exactly why we can't/don't have an intelligent ME policy.
Obama is not the first President whose policy is to put foxes in the chicken house.

Allen Thomson

> BTW- His name is "HUsni MuBArak. Emphasis supplied There is no "O" sound in Arabic. Only ignorant Europeans and Americans do not know that.

Very minor thing, but I'd much appreciate more hints on Arabic and Hebrew you can send our way. I know several Indo-European languages to one degree or another, but always appreciate finding out about the ones not in that family.


Political science like economics as been made into a pseudo-science. The number of mathematicians that populate economics academia is startling. They think human behavior can be "modeled" with simplistic if all these factors remain constant then the following will occur. Unfortunately the real world does not work that away. IMO, they would all be better studying history and the classics. The best money managers that I know are those that have a deep understanding of economic and financial history and have a lot of common sense.

Re the Egypt happenings -

Who is taking the over/under that the Egyptian military will soon take over the government to maintain stability and the status quo?

Patrick Lang

Allen Thomson

I don't know any Hebrew. my languages are French. Spanish and Arabic. I would have been happy to learn Hebrew. Modern Hebrew seems a simple language compared to
Arabic but there was not time and world enough. pl


What is the link between the painting linked to this post and a general amnesty?

Patrick Lang


Don't over think things. The request was made by a lady and I find the picture to be amusing. pl


You do kind of have an eye for the ladies!

But, I do have to agree with, I think it was LeaNder, the heels are too much. I wouldn't stick my feet in those things.

Patrick Lang


She doesn't have to walk in those shoes. pl


I would hate to get one of those heels in my eye.
I've been deleted but never blocked and it has never bothered me. Sometimes I don't make much sense and take a joke too far. The latter being something I imagine Anonymous did considering his surreal sense of humor--something I appreciate.

PL--I notice you don't like being called Col.--Can you see me sipping coffee in front of my computer comfortably attired in my underwear? Just wondering how much info is going over these lines.

Abu Sinan


Knowing a fair amount of Arabic myself, and having listened to Hebrew on more than one occasion, you'll find your knowledge of Arabic itself will go a long way in understanding large portions of spoken Hebrew. Same goes for other languages in the Semetic tree, ie Eritrean.

I know German and the same thing held true when I was in countries like Holland, Denmark and to a lesser Sweden and Norway.

The language thing reallys bothers me when you see these people trying to pass themselves off as experts on the Middle East on venues like CNN, but it is very clear they dont speak any language of the area and cannot pronounciate the most basic words, terms and names properly.

During the cold war, how far would an "expert" on the Soviet Union had gotten if they didnt speak Russian or one of the other languages from behind the Iron Curtain?

Patrick Lang

Abu Sinan

"During the cold war, how far would an "expert" on the Soviet Union had gotten if they didnt speak Russian or one of the other languages from behind the Iron Curtain?"

Pretty far actually.

In fact I have spent so much time in Israel that I have listened to Hebrew a lot also. A lot of it is understandable to an Arabic Speaker as is a lot of Farsi. The grammar seems simple as I said, much simpler than MSA but it shares a lot of grammar features. The language was "cleaned up" grammatically to make it accessible to European immigrants. It was cleaned up so much that it seems that lot of expressiveness was taken out of it. Israelis tell me that results in some of their bluntness in speaking other languages like English. I will continue to make comments on Arabic here. i agree that the inability of media people to pronounce Arabic at all is worrying. Worse than that the adoption of idiocies like "Al Kayda" is awful. pl

Abu Sinan


So very true! The attempt to try and say a few words here and there improperly is so very annoying. You'd think these people who spend so much time in front of others, especially those claiming to be experts, would at least check with an Arabic speaker to attempt to get the words right.

As to experts in an area not speaking the language, I have always felt that this leaves them vulnerable because they are forced to use other's translations and other's people's selection of materials. A few differences in words here and there can mean the world and we all know what distortions selective readings of media can give. The perfect example of this, mixed with a political agenda, are the Israeli former (maybe) spooks behind MEMRI.

As to your comments on Arabic, please keep them coming, I enjoy them. The Arabic grammar issue has been the bane of my life in learning the language, this despite university level classes that centered completely on the subject. Oh, if Arabic grammar was as straight forward and logic/rule driven as it is in German.


Thank you.



The Hamlet story comes from an article entitled "Shakespeare in the Bush," it was written by a woman anthropologist, and it starts from the conceit that she chose Shakespeare because of his "universal" nature. She discovers to her chagrin what a foolish idea that was.


Sorry. I didn't retell the anecdote which I read as well as I should have. The moral was that of the elders impressing on the anthropologist what is was that his elders needed to know to correct their interpretation of Hamlet. The elders considered that since human nature was the same every where their interpretation of why Hamlet was not honoring his uncle for carrying out his duty to marry the wife of the brother he killed was the correct one.

In context my point was that a belief that human nature is the same every where does not save one from making grave errors of interpretation.



Thank you very much for the cite -- I found the story long ago through casual reading in college and had no idea how to find it again.


A tale from New York http://asiancorrespondent.com/47284/well-that-should-be-the-end-of-international-relations-then/

"Hikind, who said he earned his master’s degree in political science from Brooklyn College, told Inside Higher Ed that he reached these conclusions after spending “countless hours” reading the newly hired adjunct’s work. This included, chiefly, his unpublished paper, “Inventing the Martyr: Struggle, Sacrifice and the Signification of Palestinian National Identity,” in which he examines martyrdom as it “embodies ideals of struggle and sacrifice” in the context of national identity. Hikind said such works reflect an effort to “understand” suicide bombers. “There’s nothing to understand about someone who murders women and children,” he said. “You condemn.”"

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