Monday, February 28, 2005

U.S. pushes Arabic: Study of language now tops Hebrew

This seems to me to be a great set-up for a "law of unintended consequences" story 30 years down the road (something Huxley-like, such as, "...Arab culture and Islam was able to permeate American society and political thought during the 30's and 40's in part because the government encouraged widespread acquisition of the language a generation earlier, apparently with the thought that half the American workforce could be employed in espionage and security analysis during the brief period when militant Arab states were viewed as the primary threat to American security..."). On the other hand, I WISH my kids were getting more foreign language instruction in school instead of some of the fluffy computer classes, etc. And I can't complain about people learning Arabic, because I ended up in Amman, Jordan doing an Arabic immersion course after college (through a series of changed plans, and I've forgotten almost all of it, I think). I just thought the scope of the government push for this is strange...wouldn't Hindi and Mandarin be more useful for expansion of global markets? Just how strategic can this be?