October 07, 2003

Arabic Speakers at State Josh

Arabic Speakers at State

Josh Chafetz, I think, points to perhaps the only time ( ed. note: or should I say only country?) where purposefully keeping a fluent Arabic speaker from serving in one of our Embassies in the Arab world was "intentional policy" (though I couldn't access his Weekly Standard link and maybe he has other examples).

But why would we let the Saudis get rid of a Hume Horan anyway? Surely this represents a poor precedent of kowtowing to a host government on the selection of our envoy. If an Ambassador is ludicrously under-qualified we should be receptive to a host country's concerns. But not when they are perfectly qualified for the position in question. Hume Horan was a real regional expert--and likely spoke the best Arabic out of the entire Foggy Bottom clan. The USG should have held firm and kept him in Saudi.

Of course, he's just the type of person the Saudis wouldn't want hunting about the Kingdom with too much language and cultural facility. Not only because he might stir up and embolden some dissenters--but also because of the embarassing information he might have unearthed.

But Horan wasn't some Robespierrian figure trying to stir up revolutionary fervor in the Kingdom. He was a talented career diplomat who was simply advocating U.S. interests in Riyadh. And just the kind of guy we should have poking around doing so.

I'm with David Adesnik on this one. Let's flood the zone with Arabic speakers. Boy do we need them right now.

Posted by Gregory at October 7, 2003 01:57 PM
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