Sprechen sie Arab-talk?


As TPM noted, Arabic is a funny language: the greater the difference between what’s being said in it, and what the Bush White House would like to be said in it, the harder it is to translate into English.

So when the prime minister of Iraq and his spokesman explicitly endorse Obama’s plan for U.S. troop withdrawal over the next 16 months, Arabic becomes well nigh untranslatable. All sorts of difficulties and subtleties of expression have to be taken into account. But when you do take them into account, it turns out that what Maliki said was that he’d like to be prime minister of a real country someday, but, eh, what’s the hurry? A thousand years is but a day!

Somehow, I’m sure we’ll be told, this is all the work of the terrorists, who, naturally, support the “Death to American Infidels” plank in Obama’s platform. Right now, however, the best explanation the GOP can come up with is that Maliki didn’t really mean what he said; he was just appeasing the voters back home. It seems to escape them that if Iraqi politicians have to say they want the Americans gone in order to stay in the good graces of Iraqi voters, it rather strongly suggests that Iraqi voters want us gone, and that right soon. And since, as of the last conservative revision of history, the creation of such a creature as the “Iraqi voter” is the very reason we invaded Iraq in the first place, one would think the democratic will of said voters would be very nearly sacred to war supporters.

We’ll see how all this plays out, but thus far, the reaction that’s most revealing of the priorities of war supporters comes from an anonymous GOP operative: “We’re f**ked.”


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7 Responses to “Sprechen sie Arab-talk?”

  1. DeJon05 Says:

    Seems McCain is going on the attack recently blaming Sen Obama for rising gas prices in a recent commercial spot. Does anyone really believe that? I mean does any rational person really believe that?

  2. urbino Says:

    Seriously? I hadn’t heard that one. What’s his rationale? Something about voting against drilling in Alaska? I saw that one of the reps from Alaska is claiming that if they would allow drilling there, gas prices would drop by $2 a gallon, which is just a bald-faced lie.

    The thing is, that doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t matter that it’s not possible that Sen. Obama is personally responsible for high gas prices. All that matters — and this is what these politicians are counting on — is that people want to believe they’re true. People want to believe there’s a quick, easy way to make gas cheaper again, and they want somebody — a specific person or identifiable group — to blame for prices being high in the first place.

    People don’t like honest, accurate answers like, “Gas is never going to be $2 a gallon again. Even if we tapped all the known deposits everywhere on Earth, it wouldn’t increase supply enough to keep pace with the growing demand. There may be some temporary, mild drops in prices, but you just need to get used to the fact that from now on, oil is a scarce resource and the price is only going to go up.”

    That’s not a truth they want to hear: as simple as it is, it’s too complicated, and it doesn’t give them anybody to blame.

  3. DeJon05 Says:

    Here’s the spot — Its pretty pointed, and while I’ve probably decided already, makes me less likely to vote mccain.

  4. DeJon05 Says:

    I didn’t mean to venture off your point (twice), JU.

    Because you point is really interesting to me. How in the world is McCain going to dodge the egg flying at his face if al-Maliki wants us out, and he says we should maintain a long-term presence?

    And while I haven’t been able to dig for Obama’s reasoning, I’ve wondered if Obama’s international appeal influenced his international tour. The polling I’ve seen indicates an overwhelming percentage of non-Americans would like to see a President Obama.

    Of course the jingoists among us find this to be another strike against him.

  5. urbino Says:

    How in the world is McCain going to dodge the egg flying at his face if al-Maliki wants us out, and he says we should maintain a long-term presence?

    That’s what the closing quote of my post was in reference to.

    I saw a report today that Ahmed Chalabi is claiming he got Maliki to endorse Obama’s plan. Since Chalabi is suspected of spying on the U.S. for the Iranians, I gather some will argue that Maliki’s position is the result of Iranian influence and therefore not only is his endorsement of Obama’s plan bogus, but it just proves we have to stay longer and fight harder to reduce Iranian influence in Iraq.

    That’s a fraught argument to make, though. Chalabi, after all, was the neocons’ main source of information on Iraq — the man providing the “intel” that got us to invade. They wanted to set him up as the president of Iraq: Our Man in Baghdad. Some of them still swear allegiance to him.

    I don’t know the reasoning behind Obama’s tour, either. Based on what he’s said while abroad, my sense is that it was an opportunity to both look presidential and sound like a tough foreign policy realist (emphasis on tough). Having the folks back home see you standing next to the king of Jordan while saying some very hardnosed things about the Middle East can only help a Democrat.

  6. Michael Lasley Says:

    I can’t find it now, but the LA Times had a piece yesterday about how the average citizen in Iraq felt about Obama’s visit. Pretty much: they don’t care. They sound pretty jaded toward American politicians. I wish I could find the article….it wasn’t overly substantive (much like this comment), but it was just interesting to hear what some random people in Iraq thought of the whole situation.

  7. urbino Says:

    They do seem to be very fast learners, when it comes to Western-style politics.

    As long as we’re talking about language difficulties, I offer for your enjoyment Mark Twain’s observations on German. If you’ve ever studied German, they’re hilarious. If you haven’t, they’re just funny.

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