Launching a National Security Language Initiative to boost the teaching of foreign languages, Bush said it was a way to help combat the notion that the United States was bullying in imposing its concept of freedom.
   
"You can't convince people unless you can talk to them," Bush told a State Department audience.
   
The language initiative, which aims to boost learning of Russian, Chinese, Hindi, Farsi, Arabic and other languages, was part of a strategic plan to protect the United States and spread democracy, Bush said.
   
"You can't figure out America when you're looking on some of these TV stations - you just can't - particularly given the message that they spread," he said. "Arabic TV does not do our country justice."
   
Propaganda?

"You can't convince people unless you can talk to them"

George Bush,
US President
 

"They ... sometimes put out propaganda that just isn't right, it isn't fair, and it doesn't give people the impression of what we're about."
   
State Department officials said the aim of the plan was to get children involved in learning foreign languages from kindergarten and to fund more programmes through university-level and beyond. 
    
The White House will ask Congress for $114 million in the 2007 budget to initiate the plan, involving a number of agencies including the education and defence departments.

Especially since the September 11 attacks, the Pentagon, CIA and other agencies have bemoaned a shortage of experts in Arabic and other "exotic languages", particularly for translating security information.
   
"We need intelligence officers who, when somebody says something in Arabic or Farsi or Urdu, know what they're talking about," Bush said.
   
Memories are still fresh of two messages intercepted from suspected members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network on 10 September, 2001, that said, "Tomorrow is zero hour", and "The match begins tomorrow". They were translated on September 11 and only given to policy-makers on 12 September.