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A third way to view the learning of Arabic in the West

Reader comment on item: Two Opposing Views of the Islamist Threat

Submitted by Peter Chew (United States), Aug 29, 2016 at 13:45

I wanted to offer my perspective as a linguist (Russianist) who also believes in defending Western civilization.

High on the Russian government's military doctrines is "information warfare" (http://eng.mil.ru/en/science/publications/more.htm?id=10845074@cmsArticle). This isn't just cyber attacks, but the use of information (and disinformation) to influence and change opinions in the West. A key plank in this doctrine is that of the "Russian information space", the idea being that Russian expatriate populations will be the most receptive to the Russian government's messaging. Russian strategists have a supposition, I think, that the Russian government "owns" the Russian language and can use it at will to influence and destabilize neighbors.

But I see the Russian "information space", defined this way, as a two-edged sword. As a Westerner who has become fluent in Russian, I can now wander around that "information space" at will, disseminating my own ideas.

Perhaps suggesting that children learn Arabic is neither a sign of civilizational surrender, nor is it a threat, and perhaps the 94% of Germans who oppose it are misguided in doing so. Maybe an opportunity is being lost for Western ideas to be transmitted by a future generation to native speakers of Arabic?

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

Yes, and I learned Arabic in part for the reasons you indicate. But the Arabic instruction being proposed was for quite different reasons.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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