April 06, 2008

Any of you guys speak American?

From Stathis Kalyvas, The Logic of Violence in Civil Wars

BBC World Service's influential Focus on Africa evening news magazine relied on the commentary of Charles Taylor, the leader of the Liberian rebels, because however partial, "it is cleverly expressed in clear and dramatic English. His rivals struggle, linguistically and dramatically, in his wake" (Richards 1996:3).

This passage helps explain why the United States got into bed with the Iran-backed ISCI faction in Iraq at the expense of the (also Iran-backed but) popular Sadr Movement. ISCI, as we've previously noted, may be in the pocket of the Iranians (who isn't?) but they're slick and speak English, and that counts for something when you're dealing with American envoys who don't speak any Arabic.