Bush Says Foreign-Language Study Key to Spreading Democracy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Thu Jan 17 20:07:25 UTC 2008

Bush Says Foreign-Language Study Key to Spreading Democracy

Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush said the U.S. must
promote the study of foreign cultures and languages and encourage
students from overseas to attend colleges and universities here as
part of the strategy against terrorism.

The U.S. government needs diplomats, soldiers and intelligence
officers who are fluent in the languages of the Muslim world in order
to promote the spread of freedom and fight the battle against
terrorists, he said.

Language skills are ``part of the strategic goals to protect this
country,'' Bush said today at an international education event at the
State Department in Washington that brought together university
presidents from around the country.

Bush also told the education leaders that he wants to adjust visa
policies to allow more students from overseas to study in the U.S. He
said he understood the ``frustration'' of higher education leaders
with the visa restrictions imposed by the federal government after the
Sept. 11 attacks.

``We want young kids coming from around the world coming to our
universities,'' he said.

There were 565,039 students from overseas at U.S. colleges in the
2004-2005 academic year, a drop of 1.3 percent from the year before,
according to the Institute of International Education in New York. In
2003-2004 the number declined 2.4 percent from the previous year.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in introducing Bush at the
gathering, said the U.S. needs to give as much attention to the study
of Arabic culture and language now as it did to Eastern European and
Russian culture during the Cold War.


``This country made a huge intellectual investment in winning the Cold
War,'' said Rice, who holds a doctorate in international studies and
is a specialist on Russia. The nation hasn't made a similar investment
in the current struggle, she said.

Bush is planning to ask Congress for $114 million in fiscal year 2007
to help U.S. grade schools increase the number of students learning
``critical'' foreign languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Russian,
Hindi and Farsi.

The plan would build upon existing efforts, including a
Pentagon-funded program, and create a new National Language Service
Corps through which volunteers would promise to work for the federal
government in exchange for language training.

Language skills will help U.S. representatives ``convince people of
the benefits of a free society,'' Bush said. ``You can't convince
people unless you can talk to them.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Holly Rosenkrantz in Washington
at hrosenkrantz at bloomberg.net

Last Updated: January 5, 2006 17:01 EST

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