Secrecy News

Army Intelligence on Arab Culture

U.S. Army intelligence has produced a handbook (pdf) that is intended “to provide soldiers with a basic overview of Arab culture.”

It begins with “Where is the Arab World?” and “What is an Arab?” and proceeds onward to brief and elementary discussions of Arabic language, culture, and politics.

Viewing the Arab world in this way, Army intelligence also puts itself on display in the questions it poses and the answers it offers, but it does so with some self-awareness and with nothing more offensive than an occasional cliche.

“It is impossible to talk about groups of people without generalizing,” the document explains. “It then follows that it is hard to talk about the culture of a group without generalizing. This handbook attempts to be as accurate and specific as possible, but inevitably contains such generalizations.”

A copy of the new Handbook was obtained by Secrecy News.

See “Arab Cultural Awareness: 58 Factsheets,” DCSINT Handbook No. 2, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, US Army Training and Doctrine Command, January 2006.

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