Saturday, October 21, 2006

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

That the President of the United States and members of the US government do not have even the most basic knowledge of Islam is pretty shameful. I'm not the only one who feels that way. People in the Arab world are appalled as well. From an editorial in Lebanon's Daily Star:

The 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.

For over 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.

This lack 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.

From our 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.
[Emphasis added]

What is so humiliating is that the editorialist's view of the situation is actually quite accurate. This regime, in its arrogance and anti-intellectualism, doesn't have a clue about all sorts of things, and it continues to plan on further misadventures on our dime.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diane, who set the tone at CNN this a.m.;
Will history show the U.S. displayed "stupidity" in its handling of Iraq war?

Yes 86% 21566 votes

No 14% 3652 votes
Total: 25218 votes

heh - Ruth

7:02 AM  

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