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2014 July 22 Tuesday
Modest Proposal On Syria, Egypt, Christians

Move the at least 7 million Coptic Christians from Egypt (where they are plenty persecuted) to a country carved out of the Middle East to be a Christian nation. Let the assorted persecuted Christians of other Arab countries move to this country.

Where to carve out the country? Perhaps northern Lebanon and northern Syria? The advantage is that they wouldn't be landlocked. Or move the Shiites of southern Lebanon to a belt around Baghdad to make Baghdad better protected by Shittes against Sunnis. Then make Lebanon a Christian country which Syrian Christians could move to while Lebanese Sunnis could move to Syria.

You might say this is cruel to the Shiites and Sunnis. Well, Shiites and Sunnis do far worse to Christians. Once the shuffling around was finished they'd face fewer threats as well. The Shiites and Sunnis could have the benefit of ethnically purer states where they wouldn't be victims of each others' animosity.

Iraq could become a Shiite state, Syria a Sunni state, and Lebanon a Christian state.

Now of course this isn't going to happen. Instead Christians will continue to flee the Middle East while getting robbed, raped, and killed. The Western governments will do close to squat to stop it because religious loyalty by Christians toward Christians has been morally delegitimized while other forms of religious loyalty are still acceptable. The West will continue its decline.

By Randall Parker 2014 July 22 09:20 PM 
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2014 July 19 Saturday
Bolivia Legalizes Child Labor From Age 10

After Central American kids move to America en masse to be greeted by Nancy Pelosi the Bolivian, Colombia, Peruvian, and Venezuelan kids can get the same treatment. They'll be experienced workers when they arrive: Bolivia becomes first nation to legalise child labour from age 10.

This is a move to stop persecution. Bolivian Senator Adolfo Mendoza says we should stop persecuting child laborers and their parents. Hey, this is a human rights issue.

One of the advantages of the legislation: It allows mothers with lots of kids to keep them around her while she works. They can work at the same job she works at. Plus, if she doesn't make enough money to feed them all (and yet, yes, she did have them all) then their income helps to pay for their food and clothing. So that's good.

Nancy Pelosi wants to take all these kids home with her. Okay, why doesn't she?

You might think these kids are losing out on an education. I am reminded of a post EdRealist did a few weeks ago about how even vocational training has significant cognitive demands. But luckily there are still jobs with low cognitive demands.

What jobs require minimum skills? All the jobs reformers and progressives both describe in disparaging terms: Walmart clerk, hotel maid, custodian, garbage collector, handyman, fast food worker. The average elite makes these jobs sound unfit, an insult to even consider.

The problem is that Bolivia has a huge supply of people who can do those jobs and a much smaller supply of people who can do the more cognitively demanding jobs. We are importing a lot more of the former than of the latter. EdRealist provides an example of one such kid who is really excited about his future at Subway.

I had a kid who I will call Sam in my Math Support Class for Kids Who Didn’t Pass the Graduation Test. He wasn’t particularly memorable, charming or appealing, a slacker constantly trying to get out of any effort. If I didn’t take away his cell phone, he’d never work and even without his cell phone he’d be more likely to draw than practice the basic skills I tried to help him improve on. His skills are incredibly weak; like many low IQ kids he’s got good solid math facts but no ability to synthesize or generalize.

A couple months ago, long after he’d finished my class, Sam came bounding into my room beaming. BEAMING. He’d gotten a job at Subway. He was going to make a presentation in English class on how to make a sandwich, and he was wondering if I could help him edit his essay on the same topic. His essay was weak, but it demonstrated significant effort on his part, and he took my edit suggestions to heart and returned with a still-weak-but-much-improved version. I’ve seen him several times since, getting an update on his increasing hours, a raise, getting his GED because he can’t pass the graduation test. He’s got a purpose and he’s excited. He could give a damn if elites think his job’s a dead end.

We have a growing supply of people who can do less cognitively demanding work. Our elites should be worried and opposed to the policies that are causing this state of affairs. But they aren't. Nope.

Read this 1994 qualitative study, in which managers of large low or unskilled work forces describe why they hire more Hispanics, the power of networks, and the ability to get good workers for less because hiring by referral was cheaper, even if, or especially if, the workers were all Hispanic. Notice how the employers talk about black and white low-skilled workers, natives, who resented the treatment. Notice the discussion of different hostilities between blacks and Hispanics, but also the fact that Dominicans, Guatemalans, and Mexicans didn’t like working together. Then read the same author, Roger Waldinger, finding that second generation Hispanic immigrants are not, as was the case with other immigrants, moving up. So we imported millions of illegal Central Americans, they had kids that are now permanently low skilled workers—and still, as any employer can tell you, subject to the same inter-group hostilities, but now just as entitled as the blacks and whites are. This is a group we need more of?

Our elites are insanely irresponsible, not just mildly so.

By Randall Parker 2014 July 19 08:49 PM 
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Christians Flee Mosul Iraq En Masse

A consequence of George W. Bush's Iraq invasion: Christians flee Iraq's Mosul after Islamists tell them: convert, pay or die.

In theory George W. Bush is Christian. He no doubt believes himself to be. But in a previous era the quite Christian French and British governments intervened to protect Christians in the Middle East precisely because they were Christian. Now even when a Christian is in the White House (and that's not always the case - Barack Obama only pretends) the interests of Christians in the Middle East are disregarded by our elites. But then the interests of the majority of Americans with regard to immigration are disregarded as well.

The Christians in Iraq were much better off when Saddam Hussein was in charge. I would like to get right in front of George W. Bush, point this out, and see if he tries to squirm out of admitting it. My guess is he won't admit it.

The old America I was born in has died. The losses from that death will continue to play out for decades.

By Randall Parker 2014 July 19 08:48 PM 
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Qatar Labor Market: A Dream For Our Upper Classes?

America's elites must salivate:

Indra and his friends are among the 1.3 million migrant workers in Qatar, mostly from South and Southeast Asia, who make up 94 percent of the country's workforce and are often forced to work in dangerous and dismal conditions, without the ability to quit or change their jobs.

But our elites can hope. The teens flooding into the United States from Central America move America closer to a labor market where employers have a much stronger hand.

But of course this isn’t about “60,000 children,” it is a symbolic test of national will. If America fails it, then the message goes forth that the door is open in for anybody from anywhere in the world to head to Mexico, where trafficking routes into the U.S. are ready and willing to smuggle you into the welcoming hands of the United States federal government.

We'd get well over one hundred million if we totally opened borders. In successive years chain migration with future generations would bring in many more. The US will have to fall quite a long way before becoming unappealing to Nigerians or Liberians. As shown in the first link Lots of Nepalese and others go into debt for $1000 and more to go to Qatar to make $150 to $300 per month. Once in Qatar they aren't allowed to change employers and some die from heat because the employers are so bad about giving them water and other basics.

By Randall Parker 2014 July 19 12:26 PM 
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2014 July 16 Wednesday
War Is Great: Increases Material Well Being

With the decline in big wars are we missing out on big benefits? Peter Turchin points out that Ian Morris thinks humanity has seen great benefits from war.

In his book Morris argues that “the main function of war in cultural evolution across the past 15,000 years—and particularly across the past 500 years—has been to integrate societies, increasing material wellbeing.” It was war, strangely enough, that made our societies larger, wealthier, and safer. It must be understood that the argument here is “over the long run.” It goes without saying that wars created, and continue to create an enormous amount of human misery. But warfare creates an environment in which only societies that are strongly cooperative manage to persist and expand at the expense of less cooperative ones. Without war (or more broadly, without competition between societies) cooperation would unravel and disappear. Thus, wars have not only a destructive side, but also a creative one.

Wars that created empires created monopolies of power (to varying extents) over large areas. If those monopolies of power created trading areas with competing traders and a legal system that provided some protection for property rights then a really big benefit started to accumulate: selection for genetic variants that raised intelligence and increased time horizons for decision making. During the Malthusian Trap era such conditions selected for brighter people who were more cooperative and who applied lower discount rates in their brains when weighing future effects of decisions. Gregory Clark describes how this played out in England his book A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World.

Today, of course, the selective pressures have reversed. Can we shift back toward selection for more civilized and intelligent people without reentering the Malthusian Trap?

By Randall Parker 2014 July 16 08:55 PM 
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2014 July 13 Sunday
College Grads Flocking Together In Higher Paying Cities

The higher cost of living is driving out the lower classes even as the size of the lower classes grows in the rest of the nation. The smarter people are creating bubbles where it all looks pretty rosy.

Diamond also found that as cities increased their share of college graduates between 1980 and 2000, they also increased their bars, restaurants, dry cleaners, museums and art galleries per capita. And they experienced larger decreases in pollution and property crime, suggesting that cities that attract college grads benefit from both the kind of amenities that consumers pay for and those that are more intangible.

Reporter Emily Badger worries about what happens to Toledo and Baton Rouge after their college grads leave. That's easy: bad things. In any society where the brains become a dwindling fraction you are going to see decline. It isn't the loss of the college degrees. Is it the loss of brain power that is the problem. That article about how wonderful life is for the college educated who cluster in their own cities never once mentions IQ. But that's what its all about. Smarter people can build better societies and they do.

I've definitely opted for the protected bubble life. If you can't swing that another option is heavy doses of escapist fantasy such as Duck Dynasty. Think about the county you live in. Going up? Going down? Going sideways? Find out. If it is going to become a bad place don't stay too long. Get over the inertia of the settled life and move.

Millions of very decent and good people can't afford to live in upper middle class cocoon cities like what San Francisco is becoming. We need to allow the responsible members of the shrinking middle class and growing lower classes to isolate themselves from the worst members of the lower classes. People who lack the buying power to move to nice protected towns full of professional workers need ways to separate themselves from social pathology. Our current elites inflict section 8 housing and a growing immigrant lower class on the responsible people who can't afford bubble city life. This is just so wrong of them. Our elites are our enemies.

By Randall Parker 2014 July 13 08:01 PM 
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2014 July 06 Sunday
Thinking Ahead 20 Years

The US Supreme Court will be well to the left of where it is today. Will the Left then take more aggressive measures to restrict freedom of speech against wrong thinkers? Am I writing stuff that will get me in trouble 20 years hence?

Will US political divisions become deeper and much more bitter? Will the hostility become open and continuous?

The US will be far weaker compared to China. Will US leaders back down as the US Navy becomes a marginal and easily defeated force?

When American politics go further leftward will neocons and neoliberal advocates of US force for nation-building and Middle East social engineering still manage to have enough influence to get the US military to do foreign interventions? Will the US military still be strong enough to do them? Or will budget cuts and decay in quality of recruits cripple it?

The US government has managed for decades to expand the social welfare state by shrinking the military. When old age entitlements and also entitlements for the growing imported lower classes start costing more than can be squeezed from the military will we get consumption taxes, cuts in old age entitlements, or debts that drive us toward a sovereign debt crisis? Hyperinflation?

When the fiscal problems of the US government become more severe will the US liberal upper class opt to cut the welfare state or go for consumption taxes that will shift upper class leisure spending and 2nd homes to outside US borders?

When will computers start seriously gutting the demand for labor below 100 IQ? What will be the US government's policy responses?

When world oil production starts going down (and so far only US tight oil fracing has prevented it) will we witness something like the panic of 1929? At least worst than 2008?

Will the liberal upper class embrace eugenics once they can use genetic testing to choose higher IQ embryos? Will they embrace eugenics only privately and still demonize it publicly? Or just go silent about it while embracing it?

Will upper class moms start staying at home to teach their kids with AI learning systems?

From your own perspective what will go most wrong in the next 20 years? See anything going right to provide some relief?

By Randall Parker 2014 July 06 09:19 PM 
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Saudi Arabia Bolsters Border Troops With Iraq

Saudi Arabia has moved 30,000 troops to its border with Iraq because the Baghdad government troops abandoned the border when their high level officers fled.

An officer corps appointed as parts of patronage networks is usually not very competent. The events in Iraqi remind me of incompetent patronage appointments in a galactic empire in some of the science fiction novels by Christopher Nuttall. The Terran Marine Corps in his novels has managed to escape patronage appointments and therefore is competent. But the Imperial Navy, Civil Guard, and other units are very incompetent and corrupt.

If ISIS could destabilize Saudi Arabia the world would go into a very deep recession as a result of sharply higher oil prices. It would be like 2008 and 2009 all over again. But this time southern Europe would be more heavily indebted going into the crisis. Sovereign debt defaults would make the recession much harder in many countries.

By Randall Parker 2014 July 06 11:42 AM 
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Kurdish Government Wants More Autonomy

Hey Shias, you can't have Kirkuk back.

WASHINGTON — Senior Kurdish officials served notice on Thursday that Kurdistan would not participate in a new Iraqi government unless Baghdad grants it expanded autonomy and does not insist on reversing their occupation of Kirkuk.

The Kurds most need the Baghdad government to cede ownership of Kurdish oil fields to the Kurds. Then the Kurds would have a much easier time selling their oil abroad and therefore would have funding needed to build up stronger defense forces.

If the Sunnis manage to keep the Iraqi Army out of northern Iraq then the Kurds will manage to establish a stronger form of de facto independence. They'll be able to keep Kirkuk. What they need is either independence recognized by the Baghdad government or acknowledgement from Baghdad of the right to directly sell Kurdish oil. They need a way to expand thier own tax revenues. With more money they could build up their military to assure their independence.

The Kurds want independence and aren't hiding the fact.

"Everything that's happened recently shows that it's the right of Kurdistan to achieve independence," Mr Barzani told the BBC.

"From now on, we won't hide that that's our goal. Iraq is effectively partitioned now. Are we supposed to stay in this tragic situation the country's living? It's not me who will decide on independence. It's the people. We'll hold a referendum and it's a matter of months."

The Shia Prime Minister of the Shia region of Iraq, Nouri al-Malaki, is not pleased.. But he can only govern territory his patronage network of incompetent fearful generals can hold. Perhaps US soldiers will fight and die in sufficient number to expand the territory that the Shia elites govern. But I hope not.

The Kurds are better off independent. The US government ought to let them gain independence. Make some security deals now (e.g. big intelligence operation in Kurdistan) that help US policy makers have better future choices as a result.

If the Kurds achieve independence and more Kurds move into the Kurdish region while Arabs move out they will enjoy a higher trust and higher happiness society while America's intellectuals hope that the trust-destroying effects of diversity can be overcome.

BTW, the New York Times has a pretty good map of the pattern of ISIS advance in Iraq. Note that they got kicked out of Aleppo Syria before trying to make a big move in Iraq.

By Randall Parker 2014 July 06 10:44 AM 
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2014 July 03 Thursday
Obama About Face On Iraq: Oil Recession Worries

Obama initially rejected sending troops to Iraq after ISIS/ISIL went on a tear thru northern Iraq but since then has been taking a series of steps to give the US a bigger and bigger military role in Iraq.

June 14: Obama says no US troops to Iraq. In the latest escalation of the US response on July 3 US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Green Berets are headed for Erbil in the Kurdish zone.

Why? My guess: To protect oil production. Suppose the Sunni Jihadists got into southern Iraq and seriously disrupted oil production. What would happen? Skyrocketing global oil prices and a recession. Almost all US recessions since World War II have been preceded by an oil price shock.

Jihadists can mess up Syria and get less attention from Washington DC because Syria has hardly any oil. But in Iraq the Kurds and the Shia Arabs have oil. The oil must flow!

What I want to know: Will the Shias in the oil region of Saudi Arabia ever rebel? That would cause a deep world recession.

By Randall Parker 2014 July 03 11:31 PM  China Economy
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Stephen Walt: Liberal Idealism Leads To Damaging Foreign Policy

Crazy neoconservatives and liberals unite to mislead the American public so they can do crazy things abroad.

Moreover, liberal governments seeking to wage idealistic crusades often end up lying to their own people in order to sustain popular support, and they have to maintain large and secretive national security apparatuses as well. Paradoxically, the more a liberal society tries to spread its creed to others, the more likely it is to compromise those values back home. One need only look at the evolution of U.S. politics over the past 20 years to see that tendency in spades.

Finally, because most liberals are convinced that their cherished beliefs are beyond debate, they fail to recognize that non-liberal societies may not welcome these wonderful gifts from abroad.

Where I think Walt's essay comes up short: Too much dwelling on elites. He does not try to explain just how much the anti-liberalism of many societies flows more from the masses (for a variety of reasons), how intractable it is (again, for a variety of reasons) and not from whoever happens to be King or or dictator at the moment. Here's just one can see how much societies differ by looking at world values survey results

Deeply illiberal societies are not going to become liberal by becoming democracies:

About eight-in-ten Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan (82% each) endorse the stoning of people who commit adultery; 70% of Muslims in Jordan and 56% of Nigerian Muslims share this view. Muslims in Pakistan and Egypt are also the most supportive of whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery; 82% in Pakistan and 77% in Egypt favor making this type of punishment the law in their countries, as do 65% of Muslims in Nigeria and 58% in Jordan. When asked about the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion, at least three-quarters of Muslims in Jordan (86%), Egypt (84%) and Pakistan (76%) say they would favor making it the law; in Nigeria, 51% of Muslims favor and 46% oppose it. In contrast, Muslims in Lebanon, Turkey and Indonesia largely reject the notion that harsh punishments should be the law in their countries. About three-quarters of Turkish and Lebanese Muslims oppose the stoning of people who commit adultery (77% and 76%, respectively), as does a narrower majority (55%) of Muslims in Indonesia. Opposition to whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery and the death penalty for people who leave Islam is even more widespread in these three countries; 86% of Muslims in Lebanon, 82% in Turkey and 61% in Indonesia are against making harsh punishments for robbery and theft the law in their countries, and 93%, 91% and 64%, respectively, object to the death penalty against those who leave the Muslim religion.

No, Arab Spring is not going to turn these countries into Jeffersonian democracies.

By Randall Parker 2014 July 03 09:24 AM 
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US Upping Special Forces Role In Somalia Too

There has got to be a shortage of SEALs and Delta Force guys. Lots of them are going to Iraq. Some are in Afghanistan. US Special forces have been operating secretly (you mean we did not know? just kidding) in Somalia since 2007 and more are coming in. Gotta battle an Islamic insurgency of course.

If I was asked to guess I would have guessed the United States had special forces in Somalia before 2007. My impression is that US special forces are in multiple African countries. Corrupt and inept governments, revolutions, Jihadists, extreme poverty, Malthusian Trap everywhere you look. Sounds like US special forces territory to me.

If only the United States could export manufactured products as well as it exports special forces to battle jihadists. Heavy sigh. It is sad to live in a declining empire with an expanding lower class with much greater inequality in store for the future.

What I wonder: Can China make some African countries less chaotic? Or will their investments just lift the Malthusian carrying capacity of Africa so that populations explode further and they end up just as bad as before Chinese investments?

We are entering the era of competing models. US military combined with US universalism, much larger lower class, US liberal manifest destiny and open borders versus larger and eventually wealthier country that is not liberal, has a much larger professional technical class, and that just wants to conduct business and get resources. How is that going to turn out?

The United Nations has started using UAVs (drones) to track threats to UN peacekeepers (ha ha) in Africa too. But can the UN become a serious competitor in big power politics? My money is on rising China followed by declining US as global players with China getting the better economic deal out of their interventions.

By Randall Parker 2014 July 03 09:01 AM 
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2014 July 02 Wednesday
China On The Path To Global Dominance

Someone writes to Steve Sailer listing a series of points about China's rise.

4. China may emerge as a dominant military power. History says that military power cannot be separated from real economic power. The dominant military power of each modern period has been the dominant manufacturing power. That meant the UK until around 1900 and the U.S. until around 2000. China is the leading manufacturing power of the world today. The gap separating China and the U.S. will only grow (much) larger over time. Manufacturing is crucial for war for two reasons. First, manufacturing provides the national wealth required to pay for war. Second, manufacturing (the manufacturing infrastructure) provides the means for actually producing the weapons needed for war. Note that services are not a substitute for manufacturing in this context. Services are not (typically) tradable and don’t provide the convertible currency income needed to fight international wars.

I for one welcome our new East Asian overlords.

America's decline is baked in at this point. Our lower classes will continue to grow in numbers faster than our upper classes and it seems unlikely we will return to the economic growth rate we saw fro 1945 to 2000. I'm trying to imagine a scenario where we go back to a fast economic growth trajectory. We'd need to achieve breakthroughs in robotics that would allow the smart people to just have little need for manual laborers. Then the smart people, computers, and robots would create an economy that is effectively detached from the lower classes.

I expect offspring genetic engineering to eventually make a big impact. But the time line for doing that seems long. Suppose by 2030 offspring genetic engineering starts enabling prospective parents to twiddle genes to produce smart kids with Type A personalities. Those kids won't start to enter the labor force until 2050. Meanwhile we've got decades of decline baked in before that happens.

Okay, imagine you've got a time machine. Imagine going back in time to 1950 (you'd need to go back at least that far) to start building up the capability to alter history in order to at least slow the relative decline of America relative to China. What would you do if you could alter US policy? What's key: the absolute number of smart people in America and the ratio of smart people to everybody else. If America had more 130+ IQ people than China and if the expansion of the lower IQ populations could be slowed or prevented then America could probably remain number one.

Could a team of time travelers to 1950 make a big enough difference to alter the balance of power 70 or 80 years later? Maybe, but it would be hard. The time travelers would need to build up a lot of wealth (perhaps trading in the US stock market offshore as a non-citizen in order to avoid US taxes). A relatively easier of the time traveler: stop the 1965 Immigration Act. How could a time traveler greatly alter decades of Congressional legislation? Get pictures of Ted Kennedy and a few other Senate members in highly compromising positions. Do not use those pictures to force them from office. Keeping them in office and blackmailing them would provide sustained influence lasting for decades.

A big alteration in immigration policy would not be sufficient to prevent the American loss of the number one nation spot. Though it would improve quality of life in alternative America.

What we really need: conditions that mimic the selective pressures of England before the industrial revolution but without the death from starvation and disease. We need conditions that select for higher intelligence, longer time horizons, and other attributes that are needed for a healthy and sustainable industrial society. My guess is time travelers couldn't pull that off, no matter how talented they were.

By Randall Parker 2014 July 02 06:42 PM 
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2014 July 01 Tuesday
Netanyahu: Independence For Kurdistan

Hey, with all the excitement about the alliance that has formed to support the Shia government in Baghdad the poor suffering Kurds have been neglected. Bibi comes to the rescue to draw our attention to an alliance we ought to form: an alliance to protect an independent Kurdistan. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Kurds deserve their own state.

Go Kurds go. Maybe the Israelis will send them some military advisers and helicopters to get the ball rolling to form an alliance for Kurdistan.

By Randall Parker 2014 July 01 09:15 PM 
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300 More American Troops To Iraq

300 plus 300 = 600? You are using the old math if you believe that. Obama has signaled that he wants to add 300 American soldiers to the 300 already there. But don't believe that. As a subscriber I happen to get a daily email from Foreign Policy and they say there are already nearly 1000 in Iraq, not including civilian contractors and US government civilian employees from the FBI and other US agencies. Plus, there are special forces in the country that aren't officially acknowledged.

It seems reasonable to expect we will have thousands of soldiers in Iraq in a matter of weeks. We are going to send in Apache helicopters.Their crews and will need lots of protection for their air bases.

Maybe Russian and American soldiers will fight together in operations against the Islamic Caliphate. One can hope.

Only just a few weeks ago Obama was refusing to send troops to Iraq. Maybe he's grown more comfortable with using US force because he know America won't be operating unilaterally. A broad-based coalition (dare I say "diverse coalition"?) has formed against the Caliphate. America is lucky that we are able to be involved in such a diverse undertaking.

In my excitement over our budding alliance with Russia, Syria, and Iran I fear I've neglected another member of the alliance of the willing: British SAS and MI6 are in Iraq to help with fighting and air strikes. What is even more exciting British citizens are fighting on both sides of the conflict. This demonstrates the sort of diversity that can be achieved through lax border control and immigration policies built upon treating immigration as a fundamental human right.

By Randall Parker 2014 July 01 08:41 PM 
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2014 June 30 Monday
Islamic Caliphate Vows To Free Palestine

Hey neoconservatives, your dedication to the overthrow of the Assad regime is unwise. The Islamic Caliphate (formerly branded as ISIS or ISIF) has been on quite the tear thru Iraq (good maps at that link). Wouldn't it be great to be able to be totally indifferent to all this?

The United States should shift its attention away from formulating more mistaken Middle Eastern foreign policy and shift toward building cushions for our economy and society against what happens in the Middle East. The cushions should include more policies to reduce our dependence on oil and also tighter immigration policy to keep out those who are relatively more likely to be unfriendly.

By Randall Parker 2014 June 30 09:46 PM 
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