Courtesy Reuters

Don't Shoot the Messenger

By G. Michael Stathis

To the Editor:

I applaud F. Gregory Gause III ("Who Lost Middle Eastern Studies?" March/April 2002) for his balanced perspective on the plight of Middle Eastern studies in the United States. Far from being part of the problem in the nation's difficulties in dealing with the Middle East, those of us who have studied the area have tried to provide constructive advice on Middle East affairs. It is hardly the fault of scholars and academic programs that presidential administrations, congressional offices, and intelligence agencies fail to listen. The aftermath of September 11 sadly demonstrated this neglect, as evidenced by the desperate requests made by America's intelligence agencies via subtitled cable-television ads for those skilled in Middle Eastern and Southwest Asian languages and area studies. It seems that the CIA in particular was short of qualified Middle East linguists and area specialists. Had the intelligence community made more effective use of the products of Middle Eastern studies programs around the country, and had these programs received greater support, this country might be better situated to deal with the Middle East, and September 11 might have been averted.

G. Michael Stathis

Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Southern Utah University

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