UM & DoD Teach Students About Winning Hearts & Minds

by lizard

How do you say “I’m sorry that bomb blew up your wedding party” in Pashto?

Thanks to a contract from the Department of Defense, the University of Montana’s Critical Language and Cultural Program is one of the few places you can learn dialects like Pashto and Dari. That program, as reported in today’s Missoulian, is currently flourishing.

“The bottom line is, we’ve grown to become the best language and cultural course in the U.S.,” said Donald Loranger, director of the program. “We’ve broadened our base to include other languages – Korean and Arabic – and we’re the school of choice for people who want to get fluent, which you need to do to win and the hearts and minds of people.”

Loranger regurgitates the premise of counterinsurgency in this article like our media regurgitates propaganda (poorly edited, I might add, unless the director of a language program can’t speak English well).

After completing this nationally renowned program, will students be able to explain to Afghanis in their own language why we’ve invaded and occupied their country for 11 years? Hell, it would be fantastic if Americans could get a coherent explanation in English about why we have so many resources deployed in Afghanistan instead of the morphing rationales we’ve been handed during this last decade.

The focus is beginning to shift, as Loranger points out in another quote:

“As Pashto declines in its importance, and it hasn’t yet, we’ll have to be positioned to do other things,” Loranger said. “We started up our Korean program, and there’s more emphasis on Dari. We hope to do Chinese down the road.”

Yes, let’s do Chinese down the road. Maybe I’ll give my kids a head start. Anyone know of any Mandarin immersion programs for 4 year olds?


  1. Steve W

    The very fact of learning a foreign language will ultimately do far more for peace than it will for war, is my humble opinion. Whatever the motivation, the simple act of being able to communicate is in itself transforming for both sides of any communication event.

    • lizard19

      Steve, you should look into the Human Terrain System if you want a window into how academia has been assisting the military.

  2. lizard19

    you do make a good point, Steve. after thinking a bit more about your comment, the transformative potential is something that could be positive despite the motivation.




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