A WaPo opinion piece by Army Col. Joel Rayburn has a puzzling title: The coming disintegration of Iraq. The essay is actually quite good. But I do not understand the use of the future tense.
Let me try out a different phrasing: The Coming American elite acceptance of the disintegration of Iraq. The problem is that until American elite opinion adjusts to reality in Iraq the US will intervene to try to put Iraq back together and thereby lengthen the civil war. It would be far better to only intervene to help protect the weaker ethnic groups (e.g. Christians, Yazidis, Turkomen) so that the new countries could get formed under conditions where those ethnic groups do not get massively raped, enslaved, killed, and generally oppressed.
Rayburn is quite right that dividing up Iraq will force large numbers of people to move into more ethnically pure statelets. But if we can only accept the inevitable outcome we can greatly reduce the amount of death that comes with ethnic cleansing of Shiite and Sunni regions.
Yet another "inclusive" Iraqi cabinet with some American help isn't going to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, at least not with today's technology. The American people do not want to pay the price in blood or treasure and rightfully so. If the US military already had its 2035 or perhaps 2045 technology it could use cheap and really advanced drones and robots that can act on behalf of the Baghdad government to put down any attempt to secede from central control. But today the US lacks the tech to cheaply keep Iraq together. Plus, the US let Saddam get killed by the Iraqi government. So the US lacks a "partner for peace" who has the skill set needed to put Iraq back together.
America should give all Yazidi, Christian Iraqi women weapons to protect themselves from Islamic State slavers. Check out this picture of a 14 year old Yazidi girl carrying an assault rifle on her back.
It was irresponsible for the United States to invade Iraq and then leave without giving weapons to every family of religious minorities. If all the Yazidis and Christians had assault rifles a lot more would still be alive and still living at home. A lot fewer would be headed to the slave market in Tal Afar too.
The US government should help the groups battling against the Islamic State jihadists. US weapons captured from the Iraqi army are helping the jihadists to make rapid gains in Syria.
The fighting near Marea comes after IS fighters took around 10 villages in northern Aleppo on Wednesday and Thursday, the Britain-based Observatory said.
Captured US weapons are also being used in support of slavery: Despair for one Yazidi father as he is told that his daughter will be sold as a slave by Islamists who rampaged through Sinjar. She could end up in the Tel Afar slave market.
The Caliphate fighters are savages.
Feel no loyalty to the Sykes-Picot agreement of May 1916 on how to divide up the Middle East? Think that Barack Obama is delusional in his pursuit of an "inclusive" government in Baghad? Here's Barack Obama criticizing outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for not being "inclusive":
"The only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government," Obama said
In public remarks after the meeting, Obama praised Maliki for leading “Iraq’s most inclusive government yet.”
Obama said he and Vice President Joe Biden called al-Abadi to extend congratulations “and to urge him to form a new Cabinet as quickly as possible, one that’s inclusive of all Iraqis and one that represents all Iraqis.”
But a very substantial fraction of the Sunnis do not want to play token roles in a government that will continue to be dominated by Shias.
Why try to put Humpty Dumpty back together again? The various ethnic and religious groups in Iraq can't be united under a decent government because, first of all, even a Shia government for Shias is going to be nepotistic and corrupt and unfair to Shias. That's what happens when consanguineous marriage and tribal bonds form a large role and public spirited fair behavior is not accorded much value.
Even worse, some of the ethnic and religious factions harbor serious and deep ill will toward other factions. Why play a futile game of trying to keep Iraq together? Suppose you wanted to protect the ethnic minorities of the Middle East. What to do? Start by dividing up Iraq by a map of ethnic concentrations.
Minorities in areas where they are in small numbers would need to move to places where they could become majorities. But given that they are already fleeing and looking to escape into exile it would not be hard to get them to relocate to a defended zone.
Clear borders for mini-states would make it easy to kill ISIS soldiers. Create no-man's lands between Sunni Arab and other groups. Use UAVs to patrol the zones 24x7 and destroy those who enter the zones without permission.
We all keep hearing that diversity is great. Here is another sign of increased American national diversity in a very interesting article in the Financial Times: The per capita income gap between the lower and higher ranked cities has reached a new record!
The research shows Boston – ranked at 10 – reporting a per-capita income 1.61 times that of Cincinnati ranked at 90. At its low point in 1976, the gap was 1.36 times, between San Francisco and El Paso.
I am fine with highly productive people getting paid much bigger piles of cash. But two things worry me. First, there is less shared experience, less shared interests, and less shared understanding that is needed to have a healthy society. Second, the (growing) lower classes really are less productive and less valuable as their jobs get automated and off-shored. Immigration is assuring that the lower classes will grow even bigger still. In spite of far lower costs of communication the people in these borders have less in common with each other. We used to be clustered around the middle. No longer. Middle class neighborhoods are shrinking.
This is the same America where Alan Block can't even get his internet service disconnected. If this is possible just how strange is it going to get?
This is not an accident. Comcast turned their customer services reps into sales reps. This is normal business practice. It isn't like they are even customer service reps any more. I think this is a weird kind of class warfare that is somehow related to the rising inequality and declining social capital measures.
Comcast is at it again with another customer who was smart enough to record his first call with a customer service rep. In a sign of the time PC Magazine has come out with an article on how to record your customer service calls.
Kurdish fighters from Turkey, members of a group called PKK (Kurdish Workers Party), are designated as terrorists by Turkey and Western countries. These terrorists developed combat experience fighting for the Kurds in Syria against Sunni Jihadists and then recently entered Iraq and turned the tide of battle.
Sure, US bombing helped and so did small CIA arms shipments to the Kurds (which are now going to get ramped up btw). But the experienced Kurdish fighters made a big difference.
Some observations about Syria and Iraq:
- Russia and Iran have been supporting the Assad government against ISIS.
- US military supplies to the lame Iraqi army have ended up in the hands of ISIS in Iraq and ISIS has transferred some the tanks and other equipment to Syria.
- US military supplies to the lame Iraqi army were used by ISIS to attack Yazidi, Christian, and Shiite Arab towns and to attack Kurds.
- US military aircraft sorties against ISIS/Daash in Iraq are blowing up US equipment that ISIS is using to kill Yazidis and others that ISIS sees as deserving death just because of their religious beliefs.
- The Obama Administration has yet to man up to the US government's responsibility to destroy US weapons captured in Iraq which are now in Syria being used against Kurds, Christians, Alawites, and assorted other groups that are not Sunni Muslim Arabs.
- Russia and Iran have played key roles in preventing the Sunni Jihadists from slaughtering non-Sunnis in Syria.
- Russia and Iran were faster to help the embattled incompetent, nepotistic, and corrupt Iraqi government and military.
- A Kurdish group branded as terrorists by the Turkish government is fighting in Iraq to protect Kurds against the ISIS Jihadists.
- Kurds who honed their fighting skills protecting Kurds in Syria are protecting Kurds and other minorities in Iraq.
- The US government is too obsessed with maintaining a multi-cultural state in Iraq and in keeping alive the Sykes-Picot national boundaries in the Middle East to be able to think rationally.
- Ethnic groups who do not trust each other, some of whom even want to wipe out some of the other groups, should not be together in a single national state.
ISIS is horrible at a level that makes many other less-than-freedom-loving groups in the Middle East look good in comparison. ISIS hate us and hate non-Sunnis. Okay, great, the enemies of our enemies ought to get help from us to wall off some areas against our enemies.
Some of these other groups aren't even really bad. The Kurds, who have been abused by Arabs and Turks alike, just want their own country and their efforts to get it seem pretty justified. Some other groups in the Middle East would be far better off with their own country. Coptic Christians, Lebanese Christians, and Yazidis come to mind.
A modest proposal: We help Kurds move from Turkey to the Kurdish zones in Syria and Iraq and arm them to the teeth so that they can expand and defend their zones. Then we help Christians and Yazidis set up their own zones in a loose confederation with the Kurds.
A reporter embedded with Islamic State fighters. Watch the videos.
Who is ISIS recruiting? Watch those videos. Pay attention to the faces and utterances of the fighters. Are they less educated than the average Iraqi or Syrian?
these latest recruits, mostly young men between the ages of 16 and 25 who are primarily poor, unemployed and lack an education, the two Iraqi senior defense officials told CNN.
Is the appeal power for the powerless?
Teaching in Latin is held up as yet another solution for kids with low reading ability. 50 years from now genetic engineering will be the accepted solution.
Suppose this movement takes off. If each city had a few Latin immersion schools then the parents who can't afford private schools but who have fairly bright kids could use Latin immersion to separate their kids from totally unruly classrooms where little learning takes place. The kids would also gain the ability to read Roman authors such as Julius Caesar in their original language. Since the Latin texts are better than some of the stuff which kids are expected to read today that would be an additional plus.
I think ideas which cause a larger variety of types of schools to flourish help buffer parents and kids from the many educational policy mandates enacted by insanely progressive educational policy makers over the last 40 years or so. The people driving educational policy have broken their tether to reality and
Granted, native language instruction for Spanish-speaking immigrants is a bad idea. The immigrants need to learn English. But kids who we can expect to learn excellent English (e.g. children of Chinese immigrants) aren't going to get hurt if they spend a large fraction of their day in Chinese language classes. Similarly, upper class parents who send their kids to French or Latin or Greek language immersion schools aren't going to alter the educational trajectory of their kids by much. Bright kids will turn out well if put in classes and schools with only well behaved kids all busily immersing themselves in German or Chinese or Japanese.
In Europe I'd like to know whether teaching kds other languages slows their progress in other topics. My guess is that a constructive use of early childhood education would be second language immersion. Kids can learn languages faster at very young ages. If they learned Latin or French or Chinese starting at age 3 they could do it with little opportunity cost. Then they could safely spend their grade school years in language immersion schools getting good educations in city school systems where most schools are full of students who perform poorly on standardized tests.
Many were dressed in traditional Kurdish clothing _ baggy jumpsuits, wide cloth belts and colorful turbans _ and they carried an assortment of Russian-made assault rifles of 1970s vintage. One man, a professionally dressed volunteer from Irbil, carried a newer looking American-made M-16.
They face Daash/ISIS forces that have lots of weapons the US sold to the Baghdad government.
an enemy better equipped with heavy weapons it had recently looted from captured Iraqi arsenals.
The Kurds are therefore fighting against American armored vehicles which ISIS captured from the Iraqi Army. US F/A-18 jets are flying sorties to destroy American-built weapons that are in the hands of ISIS. If the US had given those weapons to the Kurds instead the weapons would still be in friendly hands and not being used to commit genocide. The Kurds would be able to use those superior weapons and much larger stocks of ammo to fight against a group that is dedicated to genocide against Shiites, Yazidi, and Christians.
The Kurds were outgunned in Sinjar. The United States could have supplied the Kurds with heavy weapons as soon as ISIS began their rampage back in June and prevented the current tragedy.
ISIS had launched its attack on Sinjar during the night. Peshmerga militiamen were outgunned—their assault rifles against the extremists’ captured fifty-caliber guns, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, anti-aircraft weapons, and armored vehicles. The Kurds began to run out of ammunition, and those who could retreated north toward Kurdistan.
The US government's State Department, National Security Council, and other organs of foreign and defense policy have enormous staffs with elite educations. Yet the US government is quite lame at conducting foreign policy.
Some of the US lameness is due to Barack Obama. He doesn't seem to have much interest in foreign policy. Plus his sympathies make him ill-suited to use
Part of US foreign policy lameness comes from the fact that the US government is a government. Governments are not very efficient. But also the US has been so powerful for so long that policy makers are complacent. Plus, the American elite look at the world with a mythology about humanity that is quite distant from the truth. They don't want to appreciate the power of tribal bonds in a society where cousin marriage is widespread and where loyalty to the state is weak and will remain that way. Plus, the idea that a religion can be incompatible with liberal democracy is just not something that the DC elite wants to admit to. So we're ruled by people with massive delusions who need to see things going really bad for months before they'll act.
I do not see how US policy makers can sustain a policy of containment against the Islamic Jihadists and the culture that supports them when it is taboo to accurately describe the nature of the conflict. The Cold War against communism was far easier to manage and sustain because the enemy could be identified clearly.
MAHMUD RAQI, Afghanistan — Taliban fighters are scoring early gains in several strategic areas near the capital this summer, inflicting heavy casualties and casting new doubt on the ability of Afghan forces to contain the insurgency as the United States moves to complete its withdrawal of combat troops, according to Afghan officials and local elders.
The world is currently waiting to see whether Tajik Abdullah Abdullah or Pashtun Ashraf Ghani will win in the Afghan presidential election vote recount and become the guy who is president when the Taliban fighters overrun Kabul. How cool is that? Perhaps Ghani, being a Pashtun, will be better suited to negotiate surrender with his fellow tribe members.
This reminds me of one of the many books I am currently cycling between: The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014 by Carlotta Gall. The correct enemy in Gall's view: Pakistan. She makes a persuasive argument.
Afghanistan doesn't have the culture and human capital needed to form a liberal democracy. But it does have the culture and human capital (as well as the Pakistani manipulation) to turn it back into a Muslim theocratic state.
We live in an era where common sense is not common among our academic intellectuals, especially among so-called educational reformers. Unintended consequences: More high school math, science linked to more dropouts
"As graduation requirements were strengthened, high school dropout rates increased across the whole population,” Plunk said. “But African-Americans and Hispanics were especially affected. I think our findings highlight the need to anticipate there may be unintended consequences, especially when there are broad mandates that, in effect, make high school coursework harder.”
Kids who aren't as bright ought to be able to learn lower level high school diplomas that indicate they at least mastered some easier material. Not everyone is college material. The American Left is doing serious harm to usefulness of education for the left side of the IQ Bell Curve. The American Left is even doing serious harm to the educations of those between 100 and 115 IQ. They need vocational training too.
The researchers looked at student outcomes in 44 states where more stringent graduation requirements went into effect during the 1980s and 1990s. They used the data to examine how factors such as sex, race, ethnicity and moving from state to state, together with the tougher requirements, influenced educational attainment.
Among Hispanic males, the dropout rate increased 2.5 percentage points, and among African-American males, the rate rose by 2 points. The overall dropout rate for African-American males was 19 percent on average. But for young African-American males who went to schools in states with the most stringent math and science graduation requirements, the dropout rate rose to 23 percent.
If you want to take the red pill about education and cognitive ability then Education Realist's essay Encylopedia of Ed, Part I: Things Voldemortean is a good place to start.
A review of Gregory Clark's second book, The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility, reminds me: the social engineers at the top of the welfare states are engaged in, at best, a futile undertaking.
In his book Clark takes issue with an argument from Charles Murray's Coming Apart. Says Clark:
We do not, however, find any evidence for the dystopia that Charles Murray fears in his recent book, Coming Apart: The State Of White America, 1960-2000. Murray argues that there is an increasing disparity between the values of the white upper class and the white lower class, and increasing geographical, educational, and social isolation of that lower class. The data represented in this chapter give no indication that social mobility rates have declined in the past few decades in the United States.
But I think Clark is conflating 2 separate questions: Is lower class becoming more dysfunctional? Is the lower class becoming less able to rise up into the middle class? The answer to the first question is Yes. Look at the big increase in single mother households as an example. The answer to the second is probably No. The increasing dysfunction and social pathology (e.g. single mom households) isn't doing much to impede the ability of kids to rise up from the lower classes. But that's because they already had very low chances of rising up anyway. Still the lower classes are becoming more dysfunctional.
What's cool about Clark's book is that he shows that the measures that the social engineers have been using to look for signs of success in government policies aimed at increasing social mobility are flawed. A family's fortunes will vary from generation to generation for reasons having to do with luck and motivation. So fluctuations between income levels for two generations of a family are just noise hiding just how incredibly slowly families move up or down relative to other families.
If you are a long time reader of evidence that the welfare state makes the lower classes less responsible then you might think that if only the welfare state was removed then the lower classes would rise. But no. The welfare state did not lower economic mobility. Economic mobility was already low and remained low when the welfare state began to grow. Absent the welfare state some of the poor folks would necessarily behave more responsibly. But their innate abilities would still leave them in the lower classes.
Is there a solution? Sure. But the solution is way outside the Overton Window. Biological approaches to make smarter babies are coming into reach. We need the will to pursue them. That requires an acceptance of the very large role that genes play in determining intelligence.
The 75th percentile is down from $302k to $260k. The 25th percentile of net worth is currently $3,200, plus or minus whatever is in the Penny Jar.
I've warned about this in many previous posts: You are either going up or going down. Do not be complacent. Middle class areas are shrinking. if you do not want to go down find a way to go up.
On the Left innate inequality of ability and inequality of effort are denied. The people who make these arguments are fooling anyone who wants to be fooled (and that includes a lot of people)./ In the New York Times no less, economist Joseph Stiglitz shows his delusion by taking a very Marxist line: Inequality Is Not Inevitable. This guy won a Nobel Prize in Economics. I guess that prize doesn't mean much.
The hey day of the US middle class was about the first 25 years after World War II. We are way past that peak. We are also past the peak of US as number one world power. Anyone reading this still think we can return to former glory? I'm not seeing it myself.
Have you altered your life path in the last 10 years due to the shrinking of the middle class? Plan to alter your path in the future?
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.
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.
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.