Researchers in Canada and Australia have shown that since the drug was introduced in 1998, worldwide trade in parts of some species has fallen by more than 70 per cent.
The reason for Viagra's popularity is clear, says Frank von Hippel of the University of Alaska: "Viagra is cheaper than many animal products and its action is pronounced, immediate and effective."
Michelle Malkin, author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists Criminals & Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores explains the incentive for an illegal alien such as Lee Malvo to lie about his age:
There is a large incentive to fudge the numbers. Minors who enter the United States illegally, unlike most adult illegal aliens, qualify for exemptions from immediate deportation. They are automatically released to any family members living in the country while deportation hearings slowly move forward.
INS also allows minors to remain in the United States if they file for political asylum. The backlog of claims is huge, allowing asylum applicants young and old to disappear into the American mainstream. Even if a juvenile alien is denied asylum, he can remain in the country if relatives in his native land cannot be contacted before sending him back. Moreover, agency spokesman Art Moreno has noted in the past that "Young adults arrested by the Border Patrol often pose as juveniles in hopes they can escape from the less-secure juvenile facilities."
More on Lee Malvo and the INS here.
The French have ghettoes which make the worst parts of US cities seem civilized in comparison. There are regions where the law has withdrawn.
The state, while concerning itself with the details of their housing, their education, their medical care, and the payment of subsidies for them to do nothing, abrogates its responsibility completely in the one area in which the state’s responsibility is absolutely inalienable: law and order. In order to placate, or at least not to inflame, disaffected youth, the ministry of the interior has instructed the police to tread softly (that is to say, virtually not at all, except by occasional raiding parties when inaction is impossible) in the more than 800 zones sensibles—sensitive areas—that surround French cities and that are known collectively as la Zone.
But human society, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and so authority of a kind, with its own set of values, occupies the space where law and order should be—the authority and brutal values of psychopathic criminals and drug dealers. The absence of a real economy and of law means, in practice, an economy and an informal legal system based on theft and drug-trafficking. In Les Tarterets, for example, I observed two dealers openly distributing drugs and collecting money while driving around in their highly conspicuous BMW convertible, clearly the monarchs of all they surveyed. Both of northwest African descent, one wore a scarlet baseball cap backward, while the other had dyed blond hair, contrasting dramatically with his complexion. Their faces were as immobile as those of potentates receiving tribute from conquered tribes. They drove everywhere at maximum speed in low gear and high noise: they could hardly have drawn more attention to themselves if they tried. They didn’t fear the law: rather, the law feared them.
It was hard to choose a part to excerpt from this essay. There were many surprising revelations about just how bad law enforcement has gotten in France. Police are unwilling to make arrests or to answer calls for help - and not just in the ghettoes. French culture and society are decaying.
Less democratic and less free Malaysia, ruled by a guy who is dedicated a secular government, cracks down on Islamists to a much greater extent than does more democratic Indonesia:
Radicals have been allowed too much freedom by President Megawati Sukarnoputri, whose "weak government" and tolerance of extreme Islam, he implies, can be held responsible for the Bali attack. Dr Mahathir artfully lists a string of reasons for his action against Islamists, though interestingly there is no mention of the most obvious motivation of all - that religious parties are the biggest threat to him and his multi-racial coalition.
"These people who are giving a bad name to Islam are people who deviate from the true teachings of Islam, and people are getting a little bit fed up with it," he said.
There might be a lesson there for those who think democracy can be a cure-all for what ails countries that are Islamic.
Transparency International has brought out a new report on the obvious:
The 10 states preparing to join the European Union are run by crooked political elites who, together with unscrupulous businessmen, exploit their nations for self-enrichment, says a leading corruption watchdog.
Bringing these countries into the EU so quickly seems unwise given that the EU is already more corrupt than the United States. But the EU is intent on absorbing these corrupt members in spite of being aware of the problem:
But the fine print told a very different story, cataloguing fraud, crooked judicial systems and failure to get to grips with the 80,000 pages of EU law, the "Acquis Communautaire" across most of Eastern Europe.
Poland, with a greater population than the other nine put together, was singled out for harsh criticism. The report said "corruption remains a cause for serious concern", saying there had been little progress in nurturing "a political, administrative and business culture that can resist corruption".
I previously noticed this problem while reading TI's Global Corruption Report and mentioned it in this earlier post. I haven't yet been able to find this new report on the Transparency International site.
"Senior naval officers have warned me that they reckon that at least 50 per cent of the fleet have sinned homosexually," he said. "It is only the paucity of the Director of Naval Security's investigating resources that prevents paying off a good many ships."
So then should the Royal Navy become the butt of numerous jokes?
Almost half the Royal Navy's 36 warships will be unavailable for operations in the Gulf because of the firemen's strike, accidents, routine refits and attempts to save money.
Which half is stuck in port?
America is clearly getting some value from its more expensive and more privatized medical industry. But at least Brits can console themselves that its even worse in Australia.
The 10 per cent risk to patients, caused by blunders, superbugs, faulty equipment and drug side effects, was contained in a 250-page study of the state of the planet's health.
This is similar to figures for some other European countries, but almost three times greater than in the United States. It is well below Australia's "alarming" 16.6 per cent.
Update: Writing in The Daily Telegraph of the UK Theodore Dalrymple describes a new contract that the UK NHS is trying to get British doctors to accept:
The new proposed contract is inherently corrupt and corrupting. It gives the managers extensive power to decide what doctors' goals, targets and objectives should be. Since the managers will themselves be rewarded according to their fulfilment of goals, targets and objectives laid down by the Government, the politicisation of clinical decision-making would be an inevitable consequence.
If the Government decided that its electoral future depended upon the reduction of waiting lists, this reduction would take precedence over more clinically urgent matters. In such a system, crimes against humanity would not be inconceivable.
This article in the Far Eastern Economic Review provides a good overview of the rising ranks of the unemployed and desperate in China. The unemployed are becoming a threat to political stability.
In the early days of dismissals, it was relatively easy to find new jobs. No longer. The Development Research Centre, which is linked to the State Council, China's cabinet, puts urban unemployment at 10% and warns it could rise to 15% in the next few years. The DRC and Asian Development Bank estimate there are 37 million urban poor--12% of the urban population. World Trade Organization membership and growing competition have brought new pressures. The employment situation is "very grim," admitted Minister Zhang in an address to lawmakers, adding that with population growth the number of new entrants to the workforce in China will hit a peak sometime between now and 2005.
The result could be more frequent strikes and increasing social disorder. Workers with grievances--late wages, pension payments or redundancy--are no longer just getting mad; they are organizing.
Writing in the November/December 2002 issue of Foreign Affairs Barry Rubin (author of The Tragedy of the Middle East and Anti-American Terrorism and the Middle East) argues that Arab anti-Americanism has been created by Arab rulers in order to deflect attention away from their own domestic failures.
Although anti-Americanism is genuinely widespread among Arab governments and peoples, however, there is something seriously misleading in this account. Arab and Muslim hatred of the United States is not just, or even mainly, a response to actual U.S. policies -- policies that, if anything, have been remarkably pro-Arab and pro-Muslim over the years. Rather, such animus is largely the product of self-interested manipulation by various groups within Arab society, groups that use anti-Americanism as a foil to distract public attention from other, far more serious problems within those societies.
This distinction should have a profound impact on American policymakers. If Arab anti-Americanism turns out to be grounded in domestic maneuvering rather than American misdeeds, neither launching a public relations campaign nor changing Washington's policies will affect it. In fact, if the United States tries to prove to the Arab world that its intentions are nonthreatening, it could end up making matters even worse. New American attempts at appeasement would only show radicals in the Middle East that their anti-American strategy has succeeded and is the best way to win concessions from the world's sole superpower.
In a lengthy article Rubin proceeds to review decades of US policies toward various Arab governments and movements. While he builds a good case for his argument one still is left wondering exactly why the leaders of Arab countries were so successful in building anti-American sentiment and why they chose to encourage these sentiments in the first place. I think Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations argument is still the correct explanation. When Rubin argues:
There are, of course, legitimate Arab and Muslim grievances against the United States. But put into accurate perspective -- and compared to the legitimate anti-American complaints of people in other regions, not to mention American grievances with Arab states -- the level of violence or hatred such grievances provoke in the Middle East seems grossly disproportionate. In fact, Arabs and Muslims have suffered far less from U.S. policies than many other groups or peoples. Yet virtually none of these other peoples evinces anything like the level of anti-American sentiment that exists in the Middle East or commits acts of terrorism against the United States.
it begs the question: with failed regimes all over the world what is it about Muslim and especially Arab Muslim regimes that motivate them far more than the elites of other nations to blame America for their failures? Is there something in their culture and religion that leads them to direct their resentments and blame outward? Rubin does eventually bring up the idea of anti-Americanism as being a response to globalization and Westernization. But he doesn't expand on either of these themes. However, to his credit he does note that concessions and attempts at appeasement by the US just elicit more contempt from the Arabs. In my view their contempt is the emotion which our policies should be designed to suppress most of all.
Steyn thinks that between the Democrats at least pretending to have more right wing views and Bush's failure to push harder on more issues the result will be an election that does not advance the Republicans at all in Congress.
George W. Bush had a chance to remake the political map, to put Democrats on the defensive not just over guns and the Bible but on a broader range of values: everywhere from nukes in North Korea to energy exploration in Alaska, you see the failure of Democratic bromides about the world we live in. But, in contrast to Bill Clinton and his ‘permanent campaign’, George W. Bush seized on the war as an excuse for a permanent non-campaign. If 11 September was, as they say, ‘the day everything changed’, this 5 November, the first national election after the event, will be the day nothing changes. And, any way you slice it, that doesn’t reflect well on the President.
Bush has more of "the vision thing" than his father but still not enough to really galvanize his supporters or to force through big policy changes. Moreover, the necessity of preemption as a strategy, the one big policy that he has gotten right, runs the risk of being derailed by his willingness to seek UN approval for US military actions. After the US has conquered Iraq how well will the US be able to pressure (let alone find the will to invade) other nasty regimes that are developing weapons of mass destruction if the US can't even just go and take out Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq without UN approval? The US needs to do something about the WMD programs of the Libyan, Iranian, and North Korean regimes. It certainly needs to pressure the Saudis to stp trying to buy nuclear weapons, to clamp down on terrrorist funding, to stop exporting Wahabbism, and to change its government press and schools to stop raising extremists. Also, Syria is a lesser problem that needs to be dealt with (are the Syrians developing bioweapons?).
Lets reduce this all down to pablum: The Bush Administration doesn't trust the UN Security Council to ever recognize that the Iraqi regime is not in compliance with UN Security Council resolutions. That is because there are UN Security Council members that do not want to see the US attack Iraq under any circumstance. Therefore Bush Administration is right not to trust the Security Council. But isn't that exactly why the US never should have gone to the Security Council in the first place? By going to it the US government is effectively taking the position that the UN Security Council should have a say. But if the UN Security Council can't be trusted why take the position that its collective voice should matter?
The French of course don't see any point to having a Security Council resolution unless the Security Council is going to decide whether the war goes forward:
The question was how to decide if Iraq has failed to cooperate with new United Nations weapons inspections. France believes it should be a U.N. decision, and has proposed inserting the words "when established by the Security Council" into the operative sentence.
In the latest U.S. proposal, that sentence says "failure by Iraq to comply with, and cooperate fully with the implementation of this resolution [France would add its phrase here] shall constitute a . . . material breach" of its international obligations. The U.S. version doesn't say how the determination would be made or who would make it. France, along with Russia and China, suspects the Americans want to reserve the decision for themselves, all the better to launch a military attack.
The French government does not want the US to attack Iraq regardless of whether the Iraqi regime puts an end to its WMD development programs.
Meanwhile, the White House is digging itself an even deeper hole by pretending that inspection regimes can uncover all of Saddam Hussein's WMD development labs and weapons stores. Inspections can never work. Is Mr McCormack saying the following with a straight face?
"We want to see how we can make this work," said National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack. "We'd like nothing better than to have peaceful, effective disarmament of Iraq through an inspection regime."
Steven Pinker, language specialist and professor in the Department of Brain Cognitive Science at MIT. Pinker has written a new book, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.
Pinker takes issue with the assumption underlying so much of modern social science that we are born as tabula rasas and that our thinking is entirely shaped by our environments. He points out that rarely do social scienists use adopted and biological children in experiments to try to discover just how much about how we think and how we behave is a result of environment, genes, or a combination of the two. Here are some excepts from the Financial Times Steven Pinker interview about his booK:
He says: "In psychology and the social sciences, there is a phobia of any possibility that the mind has some degree of innate organisation. And that distorts the science, because certain hypotheses are not even mentioned, let alone tested and proven or disproven."
This is a serious problem in the social sciences. This blind spot in the minds of so many social scientists results in mounds of studies in which genetic factors are rarely controlled for. Therefore a lot of effort being expended to do social science is producing dubious results which in turn serve as the basis for harmful political decisions. Pinker argues that we shouldn't build up political beliefs on falsehoods:
Pinker suddenly grows grave. He delivers another concise paragraph in defence of his maverick claims: "Many politically conscious scholars believe that claims about human nature are dangerous, because they feel that they could legitimate discrimination and oppression, or even slavery and genocide. They argue that it's politically preferable to say that all human traits are the product of culture.
"My own view is that this politicisation of science does much more harm than good. You can never predict what tomorrow's science will find, and therefore you shouldn't rest some important moral claim - such as that discrimination and oppression are wrong - on a factual hypothesis that might be refuted tomorrow."
I agree with Pinker's point brought up in The Economist's review that some of the human mind's nature as selected by evolution is in conflict with our needs in a technological society:
Two final points in favour of “The Blank Slate” are these. Unlike many new-science popularisers, the book never underplays the mind's complexity. Nor does it revel in juvenile smugness about the human condition. In one of his best chapters, “The Many Roots of Our Suffering”, Mr Pinker suggests that conflict between the drives which evolution has landed us with and the aptitudes that would now help us prosper is probably inevitable. Scientific knowledge can at least aid us in managing this conflict, and denying science will almost certainly make it worse. In the words of Anton Chekhov, one of Mr Pinker's favourites, “Man will become better when you show him what he is like.”
I think this makes a lot of sense. Denying our instincts does not make them go away. If we can develop a better understanding of our instincts then we'll be far better equipped to deal with them. As has been recently illustrated by the news that the North Korean regime has been working on nuclear weapons development, holding illusions about the intentions and motives of other humans makes the world a more dangerous place.
Steve Sailer interviews Steven Pinker:
It's tough being a parent: you try your best and the kids grow up in spite of you, according to Steven Pinker, evolutionary psychologist and researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Time and again, he says, the most exhaustive attempts by researchers to document the role of parents has failed to find any significant influence. For example, identical twins reared together were no more similar than identical twins reared apart.
"When you think about it, that is quite a shock. People confuse that with the finding that identical twins separated at birth are similar at all," he says. "Finding number two: adopted siblings growing up together don't end up similar at all, in intelligence, personality, or in life outcomes like divorce or criminal behaviour. Those are two shocks, because they are very inclusive measures of everything that a child experiences at home, whether the parents are nice or nasty, spank you or don't, whether you have TV sets or books."
Q: What is the Naturalistic Fallacy vs. the Moralistic Fallacy?
A: The naturalistic fallacy is the idea that what is found in nature is good. It was the basis for Social Darwinism, the belief that helping the poor and sick would get in the way of evolution, which depends on the survival of the fittest. Today, biologists denounce the Naturalistic Fallacy because they want to describe the natural world honestly, without people deriving morals about how we ought to behave -- as in: If birds and beasts engage in adultery, infanticide, cannibalism, it must be OK).
The moralistic fallacy is that what is good is found in nature. It lies behind the bad science in nature-documentary voiceovers: lions are mercy-killers of the weak and sick, mice feel no pain when cats eat them, dung beetles recycle dung to benefit the ecosystem and so on. It also lies behind the romantic belief that humans cannot harbor desires to kill, rape, lie, or steal because that would be too depressing or reactionary.
Update: Kenan Malik, author of Man, Beast, and Zombie: What Science Can and Cannot Tell Us about Human Nature has written an excellent review and critique of Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate in the October 2002 issue of the UK Prospect Magazine:
But this separation of nature and values raises new problems. Human values, presumably, do not float down from the sky; how then do they originate if not through "natural selection and neurophysiology," which Pinker considers the basis of all human thoughts and behaviour? Pinker argues that some innate faculties "may endow us with greed or lust or malice, but others may endow us with sympathy, foresight, self-respect... and an ability to learn from our own experiences and those of our neighbours." Nature, in other words, has endowed us with both good and bad propensities, and particular values arise from the clash of these propensities. This suggests that values are rooted in nature. It is difficult to distinguish this argument from that which Pinker condemns as the "moralistic fallacy." The primatologist Frans de Waal suggests in his book The Ape and the Sushi Master that thinkers like Pinker "want to have it both ways: human behaviour is an evolutionary product except when it is hard to explain."
No one-not even the blankest of blank slate advocates-denies that human thoughts and behaviours are the products of brain processes. But this is not the same as explaining where those thoughts and values come from. Why, for instance, have we come to believe that slavery is wrong and the idea of equal worth good? Pinker says that everyone feels "revulsion... toward discrimination and slavery," because it is in our nature to reject such treatment: "No one likes being enslaved. No one likes being humiliated."
For most of human history, though, slavery was regarded as natural as individual freedom is today. Only in the past 200 years have we begun to view the practice with revulsion. Why? Partly because of the political ideas generated by the Enlightenment, partly because of the changing economic needs of capitalism, and partly because of the struggles of the enslaved and the oppressed. To understand human values such as the belief in equal worth, we need to explore not so much human psychology as human history, society and politics.
Update: The New Yorker review by Louis Menand.
The insistence on deprecating the efficacy of socialization leads Pinker into absurdities that he handles with a blitheness that would be charming if his self-assurance were not so overdeveloped. He argues, for example, that democracy, the rule of law, and women's reproductive freedom are all products of evolution. The Founding Fathers understood that the ideas of power sharing and individual rights are grounded in human nature. And he quotes, with approval, the claim of two evolutionary psychologists that the "evolutionary calculus" explains why women evolved "to exert control over their own sexuality, over the terms of their relationships, and over the choice of which men are to be the fathers of their children." Now, democracy, individual rights, and women's sexual autonomy are concepts almost nowhere to be found, even in the West, before the eighteenth century. Either human beings spent ten thousand years denying their own nature by slavishly obeying the whims of the rich and powerful, cheerfully burning heretics at the stake, and arranging their daughters' marriages (which would imply a pretty effective system of socialization), or modern liberal society is largely a social construction. Which hypothesis seems more plausible?
Now that is a lie. Shame on you, and you call yourself a leader of a tribe…. well if you pay $7000 in blood money, that's just because you are a foreigner and they always get inflated prices. Get someone local to bargain for you and you'll get away with by paying only $1000. $2000 max. Really. Unless you were really bad and shot someone very important in the tribe, the leader's son for example. Then you will have to pay 4 times as much as the amount you would have to pay for killing a regular joe.
Too much M99 causes respiratory paralysis. Injected naloxone (as diprenorphine or naltrexone tablets) would have saved those who were still barely live. The Russian government made some serious mistakes:
M99 is a synthetic opiate more than 500 times as powerful as morphine and more than 250 times as powerful as heroin. The great danger with M99 is that the lethal dose is only a few (normally three to six, depending on the animal) times higher than the effective incapacitating dose.
But they wold have been better off using BZ (quinuclidinyl benzilate) and it has an antidote called tacrine that works in a minute:
The safety factor for BZ is enormously higher than for M99: The lethal dose is 500 more than times higher than the effective dose. Further, the effects are reversible within three days if no antidote is given.
On the bright side, now that we have seen what can go wrong in a large scale hostage rescue situation involving hostage takers who have strapped on lots of bombs the various Western governments ought to be able (if I'm not being excessively optimistic) to learn from the Russian mistakes and to prepare better ways to rescue hostages in similar situations.
Update: The New Scientist is reporting that a drug combination may have been used:.
"There is already an inhalable opiate available - fentanyl, a short-acting, rather potent narcotic," says Alan Zelicoff, a chemical and biological warfare expert at Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico, US. "The clinical utility of this drug is that it acts very quickly.".
Fentanyl is commonly combined with halothane in order to minimise halothane's toxic side effects. And halothane may have been used to extend the effect of the agent, as the fentanyl wore off. But at high doses fentanyl alone may have been sufficiently long lasting. Both compounds must be administered as an aerosol suspension - tallying with the "grey" mist reported by some hostages.
Update II: The BBC confirms fentanyl:
Russia says the gas used in the siege of a Moscow theatre on Saturday was based on fentanyl, a potent opium-based narcotic used as an anaesthetic.
The article doesn't makt clear whether they are currently just trying to identify or to actually destroy Scud missile bases right now.
An Israeli commando force is hunting for Scud missiles in western Iraq as America shows increasing signs of losing patience with the failure of the United Nations to reach agreement over action against Saddam Hussein.
Unit 262, Israel's equivalent of the SAS, is on a mission to foil any pre-emptive attack by Iraq on Israel that would undermine US war preparations.
FrontPage Magazine is reporting that the Saudis are trying to buy nuclear weapons.
It is known that Saudi officials had approached officials of the Government of Pakistan in this regard, on the basis that Saudi possession of such weapons would act as a deterrent to any possible Israeli threat of nuclear force against Saudi Arabia. The sources indicated that Saudi Arabia was not interested in acquiring nuclear weapons manufacturing capability, or weapons-grade raw material, but only in acquiring actual weapons, preferably for missile delivery using Saudi CSS-2 medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) which had been acquired from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
It is believed that the Saudi officials had also approached one or more other states to assist in the provision of nuclear weapons, possibly including the PRC and/or the Democratic People’s Republic of [North] Korea (DPRK).
If David Warren is right (and this argument seems very plausible) the disagreement between the US and France and Russia boils down to a question of money. France and Russia want guarantees of debt repayment and future business from Iraq that are too big for the Bush Administration to accept. The Bush Administration already faces an enormous economic and especially political and cultural challenge in rebuilding Iraq and has decided it can not afford to tie Iraq down too much with obligations to France and Russia:
They want clear but not public guarantees that they will be able to recover their own national interests, including vast debts owed them by Saddam, from any new Iraqi regime; and they want the right to participate as full partners, not in any invasion of Iraq, but in the fruits of such an invasion (i.e. their shares of contracts and influence in Iraqi reconstruction).
The United States will not give such guarantees, and does not believe it wise to mortgage the future of Iraq in such ways. At root, the United States has long-term ambitions for the reconstruction of Iraq as the first truly functioning constitutional democracy in the Arab Middle East, pour encourager les autres. The Bush people will not attempt this extremely difficult task -- similar in scope to the democratization of Germany or Japan after the last World War -- with their arms tied behind someone else's back.
North Korea is the greater worry.
We have, in other words, right on the table, exactly what the Bush administration says we will be facing in Iraq, if we don't soon change the regime of Saddam Hussein. I was quite struck, in consulting my usual suspects within the Bush administration, to realize they are now more worried about Korea than Iraq; and by the tone of "trying to remain calm" emanating from Seoul and Tokyo.
Add to this what has just happened in Bali; simultaneous Al Qaeda attacks in Kuwait, Yemen, Afghanistan, and possibly even the suburbs of Washington, D.C. We further know that Al Qaeda and affiliates are doing everything in their power to trigger war between Pakistan and India in Kashmir, and between Israel and its neighbours, from Syria and Lebanon. While the formal diplomatic world may have its eyes focused on the Security Council, that is not where an event of any significance is unfolding.
David Warren says the North Korean regime is mad:
Yet even such "containment", itself ambitious, is a half-measure. The regime is mad -- not merely the smiling unfathomable dumpling who is ruler, but the whole politburo, according to officials of more than one country who have dealt with them. With a common cultural and linguistic heritage, the South Koreans I interviewed while visiting Seoul two years ago seemed just as puzzled by their Northern counterparts' behaviour as any American or European.
"They speak what sounds like the same language, and there are syntactical similarities, but every word has a different meaning," said one learned official in the Blue House (South Korea's equivalent to the White House) who had just participated in talks. "They show no emotion at all when humanity requires at least some small gesture; and then suddenly all of them will be shouting angrily, or even weeping, like members of a chorus or choir. But we have to guess what it is about." (I am paraphrasing from memory and illegible old notes.)
As for North Korea's need for the US support and subsidy to build a nuclear power plant: Its important to consider the North Korean economy's level of economic development. This is easily illustrated by a nighttime satellite photo of Asia. If you go half way down and about 80% over this image you can see the Korean peninsula in more detail. Note how most of North Korea is missing at night. It was the height of folly for Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton to negotiate the 1994 Framework Accord.
David Warren describes how the spread of a more politicised and angry Islam has changed Lahore Pakistan since he lived there as a child.
Whereas the Lahore of the last few years -- I have seen and felt this at first hand -- is a different place, especially for Christians. They feel, and are made to feel, "the pinch" as one would say in Lahori English. Pakistani Christians I spoke with were haunted by fear of mobs, by fear of terror strikes against their homes or churches, by fear of sudden arrest on trumped-up charges of "blasphemy against Islam", from some anonymous neighbour bearing a grudge. I was myself stopped in the street several times, and asked rudely intrusive questions by official-looking persons who would not, in turn, identify themselves. This was once inconceivable.
And yet in another part of the city, within the ancient city walls, I felt back in the Lahore of my childhood, a place where strangers are not interrogated, where, for instance, women may shop without male "minders" and without covering themselves from head to toe in the subtropical heat. A place where the real traditions of the city were still alive, its native "atmosphere", and one felt free and secure in this.
David Warren lays out an interesting argument about why France and the US are arguing about "material breach" in the UNSC resolution on Iraq. He also claims the UN (really the Security Council) is being tested by the Bush Administration.
The answer is, because, in addition to its threat to deploy genocidal weapons, and its role in sponsoring, sheltering and fomenting terrorism both against Israel and farther afield, the Iraqi regime presents a special case. It is already in defiance of Chapter VII resolutions, and so it uniquely presents an opportunity for remedy through the auspices of the U.N. If the U.N. is going to have any role at all in the rest of the "war against terror", it must prove its resolve and ability to act in this case.
If, alternatively, the U.N. fails to vindicate its own resolutions on Iraq, the whole organization is as dead as the League of Nations before it. In that case, President Bush will not have destroyed it, it will have destroyed itself, and the U.S. and its allies can get on with the business of walking over it.
Imagine a US Congress in which the elected members could not propose legislation. Imagine a system where they could only vote on legislation proposed by a Presidential Cabinet. This apparently is how it works in an increasingly undemocratic Europe:
This anti-democratic manipulation should come as no surprise, for the EU is an inherently undemocratic institution. The European Commission, a bureaucracy, is the only body allowed to propose legislation. Think of it for a moment — elected politicians may consider only those policies that bureaucrats put in front of them.
It is sad to see the UK going deeper into this abomination.
Amir Taheri argues that ruling elites in the Muslim countries borrow only the form of Western political ideas and manage to discredit any Western political idea that they adopt:
Of the 53 Muslim states, 50 have held some form of elections in the past 10 years. A generation ago, fewer than a dozen held any elections. On the surface, therefore, elections have become the norm in the Muslim world. But the problem is that in most cases elections are held only to confirm the status of those in power, and to offer a blank check for their policies.
In only four Muslim countries have the elections of the past decade resulted in changes of government. And even then, the changes took place within a narrow ruling elite.
Even if Makiya's preference of territorial divisions of Iraq into some federal states is implemented Iraq's territorial integrity will still depend on an army. The army might be Iraqi or it might be American. But Iraq is not a natural state that is going to stay together absent a powerful force. If a democracy is maintained then the Shia South will come to dominate the government due to greater Shia numbers. One can only guess what they will be like in power:
How should these different parts of the new Iraqi federation be defined? One approach rests on ethnicity. In some accounts this leads to an Iraq composed of two regions, one Arab, one Kurdish. The Kurds are the driving force behind this definition. But non-Kurdish Iraqis have three problems with this formulation. First, it will cause ethnicity to become the basis for making territorial claims, especially with regards to valuable resources located in one region and not another. The fight over Kirkuk is already proceeding in this direction, with Arab, Kurdish and Turkoman claims competing over this oil-rich city. Second, when a federation is defined as being about two ethnic groups, then clearly all the other ethnic groups, who do not have a share in the federation, are likely to be discriminated against. Why should an Armenian, Chaldean, or Turkoman citizen of Iraq have fewer rights as an individual than an Arab or a Kurd? Third, ethnic groups are not all territorially concentrated. There are Kurds in Baghdad, Arabs in Sulaymaniyya, and Turkomans, Armenians and Chaldeans mixed in with Arabs and Kurds in many areas. Therefore, a federation of many ethnic groups would be no improvement on a federation made up of only two large groups.
My advice is to create more federal districts than there are ethnic groups. There should be multiple federal districts in the northern Kurdish region and in the southern Shia region. This will reduce the odds that any one ethnic group will be organized into a single coherent bloc against the other ethnic groups. Also, it may be necessary to have a Senate where different districts with different sized populations each have the same number of votes.
Writing in the New York Times (free registration required) William Safire writes on the likely consequences if Putin and Chirac continue to oppose the US UNSC resolution on Iraq:
Should Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac lead the Council down the path of appeasement, Bush will undertake the liberation of the Iraqi people with an ad hoc coalition of genuine allies. And here is one pundit's assessment of the likely consequences:
After our victory in the second gulf war, Britain would replace France as the chief European dealer in Iraqi oil and equipment. Syria, the Security Council member that has been the black-market conduit for Saddam's black gold, would be frozen out. The government of New Iraq, under the tutelage and initial control of the victorious coalition, and prosperous after shedding the burden of a huge army and corrupt Baath Party, would reimburse the U.S. and Britain for much of their costs in the war and transitional government out of future oil revenues and contracts.
If Turkey's powerful army on Iraq's border significantly shortens the war, its longtime claim to royalties from the Kirkuk oil fields would at last be honored. This would recompense the Turks for the decade of economic distress caused by the gulf wars, and be an incentive for them to patch up relations with pro-democracy Iraqi Kurds fighting Saddam at their side.
Tim Hames, writing in The Times of London, points the finger of blame at Jacques Chirac for the failure of the UN negotiations on an Iraq resolution.
The United States has tolerated this risible spectacle so far because the White House is absorbed by the mid-term elections on November 5, while much of the media and public have been obsessed with the sniper saga. British diplomats, desperately looking for a form of words that will be accepted at the Security Council, have been unwitting beneficiaries of the killing spree in Maryland and Virginia. But with arrests on that front made, and the election campaign about to come to a close, the Americans will either expect an appropriate UN resolution to be embraced imminently or will decide, correctly, to deal with the situation unilaterally.
It is has been widely claimed that Mr Putin will, after the horrors of Moscow, feel compelled to co-operate with the Americans over Saddam. This is to assume that the Russians are the real problem at the United Nations. They are not. Mr Putin has legitimate commercial and strategic interests in the region and is entitled to drive a hard bargain with Washington. That is what he is doing and it is not resented. The grotesque recent grandstanding by Jacques Chirac is an entirely different matter.
There are two separate arguments to consider that frequently get made in discussions about this UN resolution on Iraq. The first argument is that if the US fails to get UN approval and then goes on and takes out Saddam's regime anyhow this will be a blow for the authority of the UN. I think that is certainly true. The argument that frequently follows from the first argument (made no doubt by UK diplomats to the Russian and French governments) is that the decrease in the luster and relevance of the UN would be a bad thing. Well, by contrast, I see that as the double bonus points benefit. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Chirac and Putin will stick to their guns in opposing a firm UN resolution with teeth. Please guys, don't let me down. We all know that an inspections regime would be a sham anyhow. I am guardedly optimistic that you will find it within your hearts to oppose US hyperpuissance. Go down fighting and put a nail into the coffin of the UN. Go France! Go Russia! Go China and even Mexico too!
Bill Quick has linked to an article in The New Republic written by Adam Garfinkle (editor of The National Interest) on what to do about North Korea's nuclear weapons development program.
The four powers around Korea--Russia, Japan, China, and the United States--should join to put a modulated end to the North Korean state by denying it all aid, except aid with tight strings attached that is aimed at gradually shifting its sovereign prerogatives into South Korean hands. For example, all food aid (which Pyongyang currently receives from Japan, South Korea, China, and the United States) and technical assistance to North Korean agriculture (currently supplied by the United Nations) could be tied to agricultural-sector reform overseen by an ad hoc four-power technical group, with nongovernmental South Korean participation.
The problem with Garfinkle's idea here is that the North Korean regime is going to resist any aid that requires it to surround any degree of internal control. Faced with a choice between impoverishing its own people or losing some control in exchange for aid the North Korean regime may opt for poverty and famine as the lesser threat to its stability. The Dear Leader does not want to suffer the fate of Ceausescu of Romania.
But suppose a denial of aid could bring the North Korean regime to cave in and hand over its nuclear weapons for dismantling. To get to that point would require convincing the Chinese regime to go along with an embargo against North Korea. As I previously posted the Chinese may not be willing to do that. The other big problem we have in going down the sanctions road is South Korea. The South Korean people are not going to be happy with the prospect of a sanctions regime and aid cut-off that caused fellow Koreans to starve.
The Turkish government is still deeply reluctant for the US to launch an attack on the Iraqi regime. But so far it appears the Turkish military will make sure the civilian politicians go along with it in exchange for US aid:
But many experts say there is a greater worry about a new war: money. Turkey remains in a deep economic crisis, eased only recently and with pain through a new program with the International Monetary Fund. Many Turks see their real interest not in war with Iraq, but in talks to join the European Union, which this month spurned Turkey once again by not setting a firm date for talks on joining the organization.
If the United States wants Turkey's support, many here say, it must be sure Turkey does not lose again, and reportedly a financial package worth roughly $5 billion is being discussed.
Will this convince Bush to stop trying to get a special Mexican immigration amnesty through Congress? This has got to burn: (NY Times free registration required)
CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico, Oct. 27 — President Bush left a summit conference here today without a pledge from Mexico to support the American resolution in the United Nations Security Council to disarm Iraq.
Mexican officials made it clear that Mexico is siding with France in the debate at the United Nations.
Writing in the November 2002 issue of The Atlantic Monthly Charles A. Kupchan sees the US and Europe splitting in a way analogous to the split between the Eastern and Western Roman Empire:
As Byzantium did with Rome when it separated from its former overseer, the EU is making a run at the United States. And just as the Byzantines and the Romans parted ways over values and interests, so have the Europeans and the Americans. The two sides of the Atlantic follow different social models. Despite recent deregulation across Europe, America's laissez-faire capitalism still contrasts sharply with Europe's more centralized approach. Whereas Americans decry the constraints on growth that stem from the European model, Europeans look askance at America's income inequalities, its consumerism, and its readiness to sacrifice social capital for material gain.
The two have also parted company on matters of statecraft. Americans still live by the rules of realpolitik, viewing military threat, coercion, and war as essential tools of diplomacy. In contrast, Europeans by and large have spent the past fifty years trying to tame international politics, setting aside guns in favor of the rule of law.
As long as the USA is out in the Hobbesian world playing Realpolitik hardball and the EU is trying to play in a fantasy world where it imagines the rest of the governments can be persuaded play by the EU's interpretations of the rules of international law the EU is not going to rival the US in power and influence. Also, longer term demographic trends (lower birth rates and a shrinking and aging population) do not favor the EU's bid to become a power that rivals the US. Plus, they want to support their welfare state and that puts a crimp on their military spending. Nonetheless, there is still a real problem developing here. The EU can play a foil to the US and become less supportive of US efforts and thereby decrease US power marginally. Most worringly, as the EU's power becomes more centralized it will eventually take the UK away from the US as an ally.
Update: An earlier essay in April 2002 issue of The Atlantic by Walter Russell Mead (he the author of Special Providence: American Foreign and How It Changed the World) catches the view of those in America who don't think the EU is going to become a serious rival to the USA:
Europe hopes for a world role more or less equal to that of the United States. Jacksonians roll their eyes. Jacksonians think that Europe—with a declining and aging population and an economy likely to grow more slowly than most of the economies of the developing world, to say nothing of the United States'—is likely to continue to lose influence.
Bad news from The Economist:
As the Chinese see it, the real threat emanating from North Korea is a political collapse that could damage stability in the region and prompt American forces to move close to China's border to fill the vacuum. Should Mr Bush call for economic pressure on North Korea, he is unlikely to find China receptive.
If China will not apply economic sanctions to North Korea then the prospects for getting the North Korean regime to drop its nuclear and ICBM development programs and WMD technology sales become fairly poor. The only other option then becomes an invasion. Bush then has a card he might play: tell the Chinese regime they have a choice to either pressure the North Korean regime or the US will carry out air strikes against North Korean facilities and even a strike to decapitate the leadership. But can the US do that without provoking a North Korean response that kills a lot of South Koreans?
Hoagland reviews a number of dealings happening between the US and European nations. The whole article is worth a read. In particular, the Germans are looking for ways to get back in American good graces:
With Germany, the results of a more Ameri-centric focus have been mostly for the worse. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder harshly slammed Bush's approach to Iraq during the German election campaign. But Berlin is now putting forward olive branches in the all-important security area.
After initial resistance from U.S. officials who were not ready to overlook the campaign demagoguery of others, Washington has agreed to a German-Dutch command taking charge of the small international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan at the end of the year. This step will save American taxpayers millions of dollars in U.S. subsidies that had enabled Turkey to hold the command temporarily.
In his Anglosphere column James C. Bennett takes up the subject of what to do about the prospect of a more integrated EU which might restrict its members cooperation with America. The prospect of a UK which in the future would be unable to cooperate with the US by, for instance, allowing the US to share use of Diego Garcia ought to be deeply troubling and requires a US response:
One less-ambitious option might be to cut a deal between NAFTA and its European analogue, EFTA. Once a strong rival to the EU, EFTA is today a small organization. But by making it clear that the U.S. would regard it, or some similar new organization, as somebody to do business with, other Eastern European nations might decide it would be a preferred alternative to accepting the crushing body of EU regulation. Of course, a TAFTA -- a Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Area deal, including NAFTA, EU states, and other Europeans outside the EU -- would make even more sense, if it could be obtained.
Similarly, the United States should consider a bold move to signal the transition of NATO from a North American-Western European club to a broader alliance. Perhaps the United States should consider proposing the relocation of NATO headquarters from Brussels to Warsaw or Budapest. It'd be cheaper in the long run, would provide a welcome stimulus to the local economy, would give American personnel a friendlier duty post, and would make a very tangible statement to a number of different parties.
Norwary is still a member of the rather smaller European trade club that is not in the EU. The US could make trading conditions for that small club so favorable that if a country decided to leave the EU (especially if that country is the UK) it could gain a large replacement market.
I am less upset by their use of a neve gas than by the fact that they didn't have a plan to rush in and give antidote to the civilians while they were still in the theater:
But he said most military gases have antidotes and it may have been a flaw in Russian planning that they launched their attack without making sure they had enough antidote on hand to treat all the hostages for poisoning.
He was backed up by Lev Fyodorov, president of a Russian chemicals security pressure group, who said troops failed to give an antidote to those affected by gas when they were still in the theatre, or once they had dragged them out onto the street, or even when they got them to hospital.
Moscow's top anaesthetist, Yevgeny Yevdokimov, made clear that doctors had been hampered by the fact that they did not know what gas they were dealing with.
The gas may have been BZ:
He said advances in understanding the brain had made it easier to study the effects of BZ, but that it was impossible to administer exactly the required dosage, which may have led to a disastrous miscalcution by Russian authorities.
A US study in 1963 concluded: "If BZ were to be used in a military context, it is highly likely that, if an effective dose of BZ is delivered to the majority of a mixed population, a number of individuals will be exposed to high concentrations. As a result of this, there would be some fatalities. The number of fatalities would rise where individuals had other medical conditions, if the area was cold, if these individuals were dehydrated or starved, or if they had been injured in some sort of accident."
They should have had a couple of hundred medical workers in chemical protective gear ready to rush in with antidotes as soon as the terrorists were subdued. They also should have had an equal number of stretchers to get the people out rapidly into fresh air, oxygen tanks and masks enough for every person, and some big fans to use to clear out the gas rapidly.
This report from the NY Times requires free registration to access. The tests in question are urine tests in order to qualify for public assistance:
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which decided the Michigan case, broke new ground in saying that having children, at least when receiving public assistance, is a "substantial public safety concern." The court added that aid recipients could always decline to take the tests, though they would also have to give up the benefits.
Why is there is such a large overlap between those people who think governments should prevent their citizens from having guns and those people who think the US should not go around taking weapons of mass destruction (WMD) away from dangerous regimes?
American state governments that allow their citizens to have guns at least do background checks and deny gun ownership and gun carry permits to those with criminal records. Very few lawful gun owners use their guns in unlawful ways and many more use their guns (when they use them at all) to prevent criminals from carrying out criminal acts.
By contrast, most of the governments that are trying to develop nuclear weapons (eg North Korea, Iraq, Libya) are clearly criminal by Western standards. Take North Korea for example. Among the North Korean regime's transgressions are that it allows no freedom of speech, runs its economy in ways that sometimes cause mass starvation, it has assassinated South Korean diplomats abroad and it recently admitted to kidnapping Japanese nationals and holding them for decades (and still hasn't let them go free permanently). Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq also has a record of human rights violations and other transgressions against civilized norms of behavior. Saddam Hussein runs a Stalinist police state of enormous brutality replete with torture chambers and killing of anyone who shows the slightest opposition to his rule, he has used chemical weapons against his own people, and has invaded neighboring countries. The people who run the regimes which are pursuing WMD development are vicious brutes. The vast bulk of people who want to possess guns in Western countries are highly civilized by comparison.
It is argued by many gun control proponents that some individuals are too dangerous to be allowed to have guns. But the worst killing and treatment of people is being carried out by dictators who control states. The most dangerous people in the world are not individuals living in free societies. The most dangerous people in the world are the killers who run the most brutal regimes. Why then should we seek to take handguns and rifles from the most civilized while we stand by and let the brutes develop and possess WMD?
There are Australian and other Western Leftists who are arguing that the Bali bombing was to punish Australia for supporting the US in Afghanistan. There's a small problem with that theory. Bin Laden already decided that because of Australia's role in winning East Timor independence from Indonesia Muslims should attack Australia:
Osama bin Laden warned last year that Australia was on al-Qaeda's terrorism hit list because of its role in helping East Timor win independence from Indonesia.
A taped message from bin Laden last November was believed to be a coded signal to extremists in the region to begin preparing retaliatory attacks against Australians for the East Timor operation.
"The crusader Australian forces were on Indonesian shores ... and they landed on East Timor which is part of the Islamic world," bin Laden said in the video recording, broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Its pretty simple in Bin Laden's eyes: Indonesia is majority Muslim. Non-Muslim minorities to not have a right to break free of Muslim rule because God (aka Allah) throught his prophet stated that the natural order of life is for Muslims to rule non-Muslims. When will the appeasers wake up and notice that the Muslim fundamentalists can not be appeased?
Andrew Gowers, editor of the Financial Times, has written an essay in the magazine Foreign Policy on just what is the international community:
It's one of those phrases that trips lightly off the editorial writer's keyboard: "The international community should consider…." "The international community should act…." But the phrase more often obscures than illuminates. It allows bien-pensants everywhere to propose optimal imaginary courses of action for the betterment of humankind to hypothetical enlightened actors. And the phrase makes it easy to avoid hard thinking about who might act, out of what motive, and to what effect. Its use, incidentally, is banned from the editorial columns of the Financial Times.
The rule that bans the use of those phrases in the Financial Times editorical columns demonstrates a wisdom that made me want to read the rest of the essay. Its worth a read. However, when he talks about the international community needing values and leadership its not clear what one should make of that. What countries should run the international organizations when most of the world's countries are members? Governance is always going to be bad as long most governments are bad.
Sounding very Old Labour:
New Labour does not believe in capitalism, Environment Minister Michael Meacher says.
"We do not believe in capitalism. Capitalism is something that threatens inequality across the whole of society," Mr Meacher says.
One of the reasons Britain's Left is opposed to US war plans against Iraq is precisely because they see the US as a very capitalistic country. In their eyes whatever the capitalists want to do must be wrong.
Where was the money coming from?
Although Muhammad spent time at the homeless shelter, he sometimes flashed a wallet thick with currency, and showed off expensive-looking watches and gold bracelets, Parks said.
At the mission, Archer said, Muhammad would stay for a few days and then leave, saying he was traveling to Denver and New Orleans, among other places. The odd part was that Muhammad was traveling by airplane. Archer learned that when an airline ticket agent called the mission asking for Muhammad.
"At the mission, not many airline agents call and ask for residents," Archer said.
Muhammad's frequent flier status seemed odd to other people. One of them was Greg Grant, a real estate agent in Bellingham who owns and manages an apartment complex about two miles south of Sumas on Highway 9. Last year, Grant said, he would often drive residents of Lighthouse Mission - including Muhammad on several occasions - to the apartments to do yard work and other chores, then back to the mission once the work was done.
Once, Muhammad told Grant that he had to travel a long distance, possibly to Jamaica or the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, to sign some papers on a land sale, Grant said. Grant said he wondered why Muhammad would fly to do that when the job could be handled by mail.
What's different about North Korea and Iraq that warrants an invasion of Iraq? Well, one big difference is that an invasion of North Korea would cost far more lives - especially if North Korea already has nukes. What I want to know is when will the debate shift to the topic of what to do about Libya?
Saddam Hussein is a recent, serial aggressor, while totalitarian North Korea has not launched an invasion in the past half-century. Moreover, the potentially high human cost of wiping out the Korean threat should be an unforgettable lesson to every nation: The world must not allow Iraq to gain the level of destructive power that appeasement and misplaced trust permitted North Korea to achieve.
Our failure to demand intrusive, relentless inspection of North Korea in the past decade has made everyone more vulnerable to the spread of terror weaponry. (Libya's secret nuclear work relies on Korean know-how.)
But other Indonesian officials, like parliamentary speaker Amien Rais and Vice President Hamzah Haz, say it is still too early to blame the blast on either Al-Qaeda or any radical Indonesian group.
Haz has been telling Indonesians he thinks outside powers were involved. And his deputies have suggested publicly that U.S. intelligence agents had both the ability and the motive to carry out such an attack.
I don't think the Republika was referring to foreign intelligence operatives of Islamic nations:
The Muslim-oriented Republika daily cautioned against hastily pointing the finger at Muslim militants.
"Possibility is not foreclosed that the explosion was a part of the work of foreign intelligence operatives who want to provide proof to justify their accusations" that Indonesia is a haven for terrorists, it said.
Is this the kind of talk one woule expect to hear coming from a model ally?
Islamic militant organizations enjoy the sympathy of powerful army generals, who would have to be brought into line for a counterterrorism policy to work. One former military intelligence chief, A.C. Manullang, caused a stir by telling reporters on Oct. 14 that the U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies were responsible for both the attack on the World Trade Center and the Bali bombing (he could not be reached for comment). Rivalry between military factions in Indonesia is intense, with some favoring cooperation with the U.S. and others opposed. "There are so many armies now in Indonesia," says Amin Rianom, a senior Indonesian security official, referring to the divisions.
Dave Trowbridge takes exception to the reaction that many bloggers are having to the news that the older DC sniper, John Allen Muhammad, was a convert to Islam. Trowbridge especially has a problem with what he calls the "(militant) Islam delenda est" crowd. Trowbridge quotes Max Sawicky:
...even fundamentalist Islam provides no basis for driving around the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, shooting people at random. It has to require a special mental process to transition from a religious faith to spree killing. Otherwise we would see much more of the latter. This fact points to the salience of factors in the killers' makeup that are prior to their religious views. The latter merely provide a way to organize an underlying psychosis. [emphasis added by Dave]
Is this meant as a reason to dismiss the idea that something core to Islam is the cause of Islamic terrorism? If Islam provides a way to organize an underlying psychosis which other religions don't seem to provide - or at least not anywhere nearly as well - then isn't that a very powerful criticism of Islam? After all, any large population has some psychotics in it. Aren't their psychoses best left politically unorganized?
I think of each religion as having something akin to a Bell Curve of effects upon people. Each religion has its own unique center of effect on belief and behavior in how the minds of largest number of its adherents are affected by it. Then there is a tapering off with smaller fractions of believers on various axes in terms of types of behavior and attitudes that the religion fosters. The curve might not be a Bell. It could be some other distribution shape. In fact, any religion has many affects on belief and behavior. There are a number of separate variables (eg motivations about whether to be honest in different situations, motives about obeying government laws, motives about how to treat spouses and children, and so on) and each variable has its own distribution for the believer population for a given religion.
The point is that the Islamic extremists do not exist separate from the rest of the believers. They are on a continuum with them but further out on the continuum in some effect that Islam has upon believers. Furthermore, extremists draw support from less extremist members of Islam. There are fewer people who are willing to die for Islam than are willing to kill for it. There are fewer who are willing to directly kill for it than are willing to train or provide logistical support (eg fake passports, safe houses or bomb manufacture or gun smuggling) for those who do. And there are fewer who are willing to provide direct support with their physical presence than are willing to send money or to look the other way or cheer on the killers in a street demonstration.
Attempts to define away the problem of Islamic extremists as being something entirely separate from the core require that one ignore a continuum of behaviors and attitudes in the larger Islamic population that help support the most active terrorist cell members. These attempts also require that one ignore the unique distribution of effects caused by each religion. Plus, they miss the fundamental importance of this idea that for some people religious belief systems can provide a structure and purpose for how to interpret and respond to their own existing feelings of hostility and anger.
The politically correct New York Times calls Washington DC sniper suspect Lee Malvo an undocumented alien:
The task force, which included an array of local, state and federal agencies, ran the Alabama print through the F.B.I. database, finding a match with Mr. Malvo's prints, which were on file with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, officials said. Immigration investigators quickly found Mr. Malvo had been fingerprinted as an undocumented alien after a minor family fight on Dec. 19 in Washington State.
That is the politically correct term for illegal alien. Of course, the INS did create documents about Malvo and even recorded his fingerprints. So he was documented, just not legal. If the INS had not fingerprinted Malvo then this case might not have been cracked as soon as it was. Michelle Malkin says that if the INS had followed the letter of the law the INS would have deported Malvo back in December of 2001:
According to INS records I obtained, Malvo was arrested by Border Patrol agents in Bellingham, Wash., on Dec. 19, 2001. Local police called the Border Patrol during an incident involving "some sort of custody dispute" between Malvo's mother, Uma Sceon James, and stepfather, John Mohammed (the ex-Army soldier with black radical Muslim ties now at the center of the sniper investigation). James admitted that six months earlier, "she and her son were passengers on a cargo ship that was filled with 'illegal asians (sic).' They were all off loaded in the Miami, FL area where she immediately located work at the Red Lobster in Ft. Myers, FL."
From there, Malvo and James traveled to Tacoma, Wash., and ended up in Bellingham. At the time of their arrest, INS records indicate, neither Malvo nor his mother had any documents proving their identities or allowing them "to be or remain in the United States legally." The Border Patrol agents concluded that because she had "no roots or close family ties in the United States, James was likely to abscond." The arresting officer noted that the mother-and-son illegal aliens, Malvo and James, would be "detained at the Seattle Detention facility in Seattle, Washington pending deportation charges."
That's not what happened. About a month after their arrest, Malvo and his mother were set free by the Seattle district INS — contrary to what the arresting Border Patrol officers had determined should be done. And in clear violation of federal law regarding the removal of illegal alien stowaways.
Michelle Malkin is the author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists Criminals & Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores
It gets worse: This article claims John Allen Muhummad had his Caprice co-registered with another Jamaican illegal alien named Nathaniel Osbourne. Note the comment by the FBI spokeswoman that if Osbourne would turn himself in the FBI might help him get a visa in exchange for helping them!
Perhaps the key to the Camden connection lies with a man named Nathaniel Osbourne, who sources say apparently is an illegal alien from Jamaica.
The FBI were searching for Osbourne yesterday, and they seem to have some pretty good reasons.
Muhammad registered his Chevy Caprice - a former Bordentown Township police cruiser sold as surplus - in Camden this past Sept. 11.
And it was co-registered to Osbourne, whose address was 1400 Sheridan St., the site of the bar and restaurant. And for the car registration, Muhammad listed that address as well.
Also, an accomplice of Muhammad may have called in a bomb threat to the New Jersey DMV office to speed up the registration process when Muhammad went to register the Caprice.
Pakistan helped North Korea with its WMD programs and may have helped Iran as well. Jim Hoagland thinks the Bush Administration is wrong to place so much importance on Musharraf's help with access to Afghanistan. Pakistan is a big problem as a source of technologies for weapons proliferation and there is always the threat that a more radical Muslim might get control of the country. But what I'd like to hear is a more detailed set of proposals on what Hoagland proposes to do about it. Yes, Jim, Pakistan is dangerous:
This response pushes toward a disaster that Bush officials -- and a Congress that has been negligent to cowardly in exercising oversight on Pakistan -- will one day protest that they could not have seen coming. The truth will be that they ignored warnings that were in plain sight, as the first Bush administration did on Iraq's Saddam Hussein.
The second Bush administration sees the dangers that "axis of evil" members Iraq and North Korea pose. It is fashioning considered, realistic responses to those dangers. But it seems paralyzed by the perceived need to secure Musharraf's help in fighting al Qaeda and stabilizing Afghanistan. Official Washington will not even tell the truth to or about Musharraf, much less hold him accountable for his lies and subterfuge.
I'd also like to know what Hoagland (or anyone else for that matter) thinks we should do to remove the developing threat that Libya, North Korea, and Iran pose. Is the Iraqi regime the only regime we should remove by invasion? Is there something we can do short of invasion to cause a large regime change in those other countries that will result in their dismantling their WMD programs?
The Bush Administration is now lobbying the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council. Will Russia, France and China abstain or vote for the US resolution on Iraq?
The administration's decision to broaden the negotiations comes as senior U.S. officials have voiced increasing confidence that France, Russia and China will not veto a U.S. resolution. Publicly, at least, France and Russia continued to offer stiff resistance.
Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Sergey Lavrov, denied that Moscow had provided the United States with assurances that it will not block a vote in the council. Lavrov told reporters outside the council that Russia, France and China had two fundamental objections to the U.S. text. The first involves the inclusion of language that Moscow believes would constitute a "trigger" -- or "automaticity" in the words of French and Russian officials -- for military action.
The big remaining sticking point is the language over the inspection regime. The US wants the power to be able to recommend sites to inspect. Then if UNMOVIC doesn't inspect or Iraq refuses the right to inspect the US will have cause to claim the inspection regime has failed. The Russians and French are trying to avoid that event. The center of focus is about to move to Iraq and the inspection teams.
Jim Hoagland also describes the real meaning of the UN negotiations with Russia and France:
The Pentagon is now within eight weeks of being ready to launch a sustained military campaign to overthrow Iraq's Saddam Hussein and destroy his weapons of horror. The time has arrived for President Bush and his aides to cast in iron the war aims that will guide and justify this campaign and to state them clearly to the nation and the world.
David Frum has written a five part series in the Daily Telegraph attempting to explain American views of the world and American foreign and domestic policy to British readers.
So it was a very pleasant surprise to spend a week here in person and discover just how faint and marginal true anti-Americanism is. It exists, of course, but even when it does, it often seems motivated by envy rather than hatred. "You have to understand," one Left-wing journalist told me over a boozy lunch, "that everybody in our business here wonders whether he didn't make the mistake of a lifetime by not moving to the United States when he was 22."
But here is where the no-war-for-oil crowd make their mistake. Those Americans who worry most about oil tend to oppose action against Saddam, because they worry about the effects an Iraq war would have on Saudi Arabia.
Washington is full of people such as Leon Feurth, Al Gore's former chief adviser on security issues, who have rotated out of government with their heads full of secrets - but who no longer draw a government salary; or Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post, a journalist so connected to the intelligence services that reading him is like listening to the CIA talking to itself; or Richard Perle, the former Reagan defence aide who trained an entire generation of Republican national security operatives who still look to him for ideas and advice.
These people talk to one another and argue and attend conferences together and read each other's newspaper columns - and out of it all, ideas get hammered out and party positions are formed. And not just party positions, but true national consensus. The definitive case for war with Iraq has just been published, not by some still-bitter alumnus of the Gulf war, but by Kenneth Pollack, who analysed Iraq on President Clinton's National Security Council.
But who is the real threat to the international rule of law: America, for acting on the ancient and universal sovereign right not to adopt a treaty that does not serve its interests? Or those European countries that claim that the agreement on the international criminal court binds America, whether America adopts the treaty or not?
International law is an idea with a powerful hold on the European mind; maybe too powerful, since Europeans often pronounce things "unlawful" when they merely mean that they disapprove of them.
America does not want to destabilise the Middle East. But Islamic extremism, anti-American incitement, and willing and unwilling support for terrorist organisations have fastened themselves deep into the societies and cultures of the Middle East. Osama bin Laden's terrorism is not the work only of a few sociopathic killers: it is the product of a wide and deep complicity throughout the Arab world. Finding, uprooting, discrediting and destroying terror will have equally wide and deep - and unpredictable - consequences.
And that is why so many Europeans with an interest in the Arab world and its oil have urged America to learn to live with terror: to be realistic, to adjust, to accommodate - as they have had to do. And it is America's refusal to be realistic in this way that, more than anything else, has puzzled, vexed and even enraged so many in Europe and in Britain.
I think the best point Frum makes here is with Myth II. The 9/11 attacks have forced the traditional American interests groups that have involvement in the Middle East to give way to the demands of the US populace as a whole that something be done about the Middle East. There is a widespread view that something has to be done to make the Middle East's peoples less of a threat to the American people. The cozy relationships between business interests, diplomats and regimes of the region have been overwhelmed by larger concerns. The populace as a whole feels threatened. That, more than anything, is providing the driving energy of US foreign policy. Therefore national security trumps all else.
(I originally discovered the fourth article of the series on Vinod's blog)
In an interview with Morgan Stanley economist Stephen Roach the economics Nobel Prize winner Franco Modigliani discusses consumer debt, deflation, life-cycle theory, and his expectations that consumers will have to reduce their spending levels:
A negative wealth effect tells me it can’t go on forever. And that’s when I revert to the life-cycle theory. Sadly, the large cohort of aging baby boomers is not adequately prepared for old age. The personal saving rate is too low. It has been depleted by individuals betting on asset markets. Life-cycle theory suggests that the saving rate should have gone up by now. Obviously, it hasn’t -- at least, not yet. While that puzzles me, it doesn’t dissuade me from the basic view that the balance between consumption and saving will have to adjust. It’s just a matter of when. That leads me to conclude that that the American consumer is the most dangerous portion of the picture.
Check out this poster that Perry de Havilland of Samizdata.net found in London. Does anyone know whether the Metropolitan Police of London decided that a caricature of an Orwellian poster would be a good idea? In other words, is this authentic propaganda of the UK government or someone's idea of political protest?
Always watching over you
CCTV is now fitted on all new buses. CCTV not only protects drivers and conductors, but also plays a major role in keeping passengers secure. It provides evidence in the event of an incident and acts as a deterrent to likely offenders.
In addition to all the new buses, in 2002/2003 we will be fitting CCTV to 1000 existing buses and the entire fleet will have CCTV fitted within 3 years.
Here is another street view of the "Secure beneath The Watchful Eyes" poster.
Here's a rather milder Croydon Looking after you sign.
Also, Perry de Havilland of Samizdata has an follow-up.
Morgan Stanley economist Stanley Roach compares the US and Japanese bubbles in an excellent analysis that is worth clicking thru to read in full:
That’s not to say there aren’t some important similarities between the US and Japan that bear careful noting. Two, in particular, come to mind -- the asset bubbles and the impact of those bubbles on the real economy. On the first count, I hear repeatedly that Japan’s bubble was much bigger than America’s. After all, it wasn’t just the Nikkei; it was also an outsize property bubble. It was the interplay between these two asset bubbles that wreaked such havoc on Japan in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The truly astonishing thing is that America can’t look in the mirror and see precisely the same pattern. The Nikkei reached its peak of 38,915 on December 29, 1989. Over the ensuing 21 months it would go on to lose 38.5% of its value while Japanese land prices, as measured by the Japanese Real Estate Institute, would continue to rise by approximately 15% before peaking in September 1991. Fast forward to America. Between December 31, 1999 and September 30, 2002, the S&P 500 lost 45% of its value -- actually worse than the initial decline in Japan. Over the same 33-month period, nationwide US home prices as measured by the Fannie Mae (OFHEO) index rose around 15%. If that’s not Japanese-like, I don’t what is. Property bubbles typically outlast those in the stock market. It was true of Japan in the early 1990s and it appears to be true of America today.
The Fed is still in denial about the threat of inflation. See, for instance, this article where Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Roger Ferguson rates the risk of deflation as fairly low. Also, Glenn Hubbard, chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, thinks the chance of deflation is "really remote".
Morgan Stanley economist Stephen Roach basically recaps his previous statements about the real estate bubble and the unsustainable levels of consumer spending and imports:
Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Asia-Pacific Summit in Singapore, Stephen Roach said, "America is in trouble. We are in the midst of a post-bubble business cycle. Many of the imbalances built during the last bubble are still with us."
Roach says Bush will feel pressure to use devaluation of the dollar as a tool to reduce deflationary pressures. A US current accounts deficit which is headed for 6 percent is just not sustainable:
The dollar could fall more than 15-20 percent in the next two years against the euro and the yen, Morgan Stanley's chief economist Stephen Roach said on Tuesday.
Will the Chinese be able to maintain their peg of the dollar against the renminbi? If the dollar drops and the renminbi remains pegged to it then the renminbi effectively drops with it. If the head of the Bank of Canada gets his way the US dollar will drop against the Canadian dollar. That would affect a large chunk of US imports.
See this ZDNet article for details:
"To avoid legal liability, we remove sites from Google.de search results pages that may conflict with German law," said Google spokesman Nate Tyler. He indicated that each site that was delisted came after a specific complaint from a foreign government.
The fact that they even filter a site that opposes abortion seems more than a little odd:
The study found that among the banned sites are a "white pride" site, Stormfront.org, and a fundamentalist Christian site opposing abortion, Jesus-is-lord.com.
Testing revealed that 65 sites removed from German google.de were also removed from French google.fr results with an additional 48 sites removed only from google.fr results.
But on closer inspection there are so many interesting things bing said on the Jesus-is-lord.com site that it might have been put on the filter list for all sorts of reasons. Here are a couple of excerpts from their main page:
"ROMAN" Catholicism is the MOTHER of harlots and abominations (She's not a daughter, the Bible says she's a MOTHER--the one CONCEIVING, GESTATING, BIRTHING, DELIVERING, AND REARING HARLOTS, WHORES, SODOMITES AND OTHER ABOMINATIONS)
Some Sudanese Christians really are enslaved but perhaps stating the obvious in that case is considered to be prejudicial against Muslims. Or perhaps the site's rather anti-Catholic tone caused offense? Look at what mischief ensues when governments put themselves in the business of judging and regulating hate speech. Of course now that the Harvard Law folks have drawn attention to this list many of these sites are going to experience big bursts in traffic.
You can read the original report by Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman and published by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School by going here. Check out the bottom of the page where you can use the form they provide to compare the google.de and google.fr results with google.com to look for more filtered sites:
Second, anyone interested can use the Real-Time Testing System, below, to test google.fr and google.de filtering of a specified site. Note that uses of this system are logged for future study, analysis, and publication.
There is just no way Saddam's weapons scientists are going to be truthful as long as they are in Iraq. They do not want to be tortured or killed by Saddam or have their families tortured or killed. But one of the matters for debate in the UN Security Council over Iraq inspections is the question of removing Iraqi weapons scientists from Iraq with their families to be interviewed:
One person who encouraged the U.S. approach was Charles Duelfer, deputy executive director of the previous U.N. inspection team who, in the late 1990s, said he had suggested to the Clinton administration that "if I had 100 green cards to distribute," referring to permanent residency permits, "I could get to the bottom of Iraq's weapons program."
Duelfer said his view now is that the U.N. inspectors should "interview the few hundred key scientists, engineers and technicians who were involved in the previous weapons of mass destruction efforts and have them account for their activities since December 1998." He said that Iraqi government observers should not be present and "the U.N. should offer sanctuary or safe haven to those who find it a condition for speaking the truth."
The US has the problem that it needs to start its war against Iraq by March of 2003 before it becomes too hot. The amount of time discussed for the inspection process might not allow the US to declare the Iraqis in violation of the inspections rules for over 3 months. That puts the start of the war into March. The US would be better off sticking with a strongly worded UN Security Council Resolution so that it would be vetoed by the French or Russians. That way the war could start much sooner:
The resolution's current timetable would require that Iraq formally agree to the terms of inspections within seven days of the resolution's adoption and file a "full and complete" declaration on the status of its weapons program within the following 23 days. The inspectors would then have an additional 15 days to resume their inspections in Iraq.
The chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix, would then have as many as 60 more days before he would be required to report to the council. But he would not be prohibited from reporting Iraqi violations before the 60-day deadline.
I suspect the Bush team may not mind the delay caused by the current diplomatic negotiations because it gives them more time to get ready. But the problem is that if the negotiations result in a UN resolution that can pass with the language the Bush team wants about force then this could work against the US as too much time is built into the resolution.
Speaking at a national memorial service for those slain in Bali Australian Prime Minister John Howard had this to say:
"We will not be deterred from living our lives ... We will not forsake the values of this nation."
It also reminded Australians of their sense of defiance.
We will not be deterred from travelling," Howard said. "We will continue to live the kind of lives we regard to be our birthright."
MSNBC has something on their site called Weblog Central by Will Femia. Femia created a "Best Of Blogs" list that included Little Green Footballs which is written by Charles Johnson(a web site developer who I think is in the S.F. Bay Area - which means he's a few hundred miles north of me - I'm in Santa Barbara California if you've ever wondered). I really like LGF and think Charles does the world a great service by searching out and combining so much information about the wonderful (sarcasm alert) activities of Islamic theocrats everywhere.
Well, rather predictably, Femia got lots of complaints about having Footballs on his best-of-the-web list. This resulted in his posting this post and this post. However, as summarized by James Taranto, many good men and women of the Blogosphere (and for the n milliionth time Bill Quick invented the term) rushed to Charles' defense.
Femia responded as follows and still has Footballs on his Best Of Blogs list.
Meanwhile, you can read what Charles and his readers said about this in many posts on Footballs. Read, for example, this post with the Mark Steyn letter defending LGF and this post. Note that not only does Mark Steyn offer a defense of LGF but also the fact that he reads LGF. That is just so cool.
I find something curious about this whole affair: attempts to shut down discussion on an issue by unfairly labelling one side of it (typically the less left-wing side) as hateful and racist have become less effective as a debating strategy when the side being so labelled decides that the stakes in the debate have gotten too damned high. It has become painfully clear that when discussing Muslims and the Middle East we are dealing with issues with a direction connection to our physical safety and our liberty. A frank and no-holds-barred discussion is a necessity. Intimidation and name-calling as a way to stifle debate just isn't going to work. In the Blogosphere we are discussing and linking to information about the nature of Arab and Islamic societies. Charles Johnson has done this more and better than anyone that I'm aware of. We discuss the utterances of the leaders and clerics of those societies and of Muslims living in the West. We discuss their actions and motives. We look at the histories of these societies and form our own opinions about the significance of these histories. We can't afford to be polite and nonjudgmental. The stakes are really too high for that.
On a personal note: Could someone on a really high traffic site please label my low traffic ParaPundit web log as a hate-filled, intolerant, extreme right-wing web site? Oh, and do this every day. Why am I asking for this? Publicity. I could use the boost in traffic this would bring. So bring on the insults. Just include a link to the hateful site when you dump on it. Are you thinking about doing this but can't find enough hard evidence to justify the label? Or are you just too busy or lazy to look in my archives? Okay, I can understand that. So let me make it easy for you: I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! Good enough? No? Okay, then how about: I HATE YOUR FRIENDS! I HATE YOUR ENEMIES! I HATE PEOPLE YOU DO NOT EVEN KNOW! Now that covers a lot more people. What? Not inciteful enough? Okay, one last try: HATE OTHER PEOPLE! HATE PEOPLE YOU KNOW! HATE PEOPLE IN OTHER COUNTRIES! HATE YOUR NEIGHBORS! HATE YOUR BOSS! HATE YOUR SUBORDINATES! PRACTICE ACTS OF RANDOM HATEFULNESS! Now I think I've made my case. I'm sure you all agree.
The claim here is that an invasion of North Korea would result in many dead South Koreans:
It's not hard to see why the North Korea script is so different from the standoff with Iraq: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld confirmed Thursday that the U.S. believes North Korea already has two bombs built from plutonium produced before the 1994 agreement took its reactors offline. It may also have as much as 500 tons of chemical and biological agents. But even without unconventional weapons, North Korea's artillery and medium-range missiles give it the capability to flatten most of Seoul in a matter of minutes. Analysts suggest that an all-out war along the Korean frontier could cost a million lives on both sides. And those in the frontline — the South Koreans and Japanese — have stressed they have no desire for confrontation with Pyongyang.
Will James Baker's suggestion of UN sanctions work to compel North Korea to give up its nukes? Or is it at least possible to use sanctions to force North Korea to stop exporting weapons technology to the Middle East? Will China work to undermine US attempts to stop that trade?
The equipment needed to create such high quality anthrax powder would have cost in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars:
The notion that a single, renegade scientist secretly could have created the weapon has been shot down by Dr. Richard O. Spertzel, the former head of the biology section of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq. On Sept. 18, in London's Financial Times, Dr. Spertzel argued, "I've heard nothing that has changed my mind." Spertzel is persuaded the anthrax attack involved active state support: "You could not possibly make that quality of product in a clandestine fashion. It's not the sort of thing you can do in your garage or in your basement."
The world will be a much more dangerous place when the cost of the needed equipment inevitably drops by orders of magnitude.
In a Washington Post opinion piece former Bush Sr Secretary of State James A. Baker III calls the 1994 Framework Agreement between the US and North Korea one of accommodation, compromise and appeasement:
How "natural and foreseeable" was it that the Framework Agreement would produce a nuclear-armed North Korea, not "an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula"? Consider this: Subject only to editing to change tenses and time references, omit extraneous material and provide logical transitions, the preceding four paragraphs are word-for-word from my diplomatic memoir, "The Politics of Diplomacy," written in 1994, immediately after the Framework Agreement was signed, and published in 1995.
This may seem terribly old fashioned but I think we should look for advice from people who have a track record of accurate predictions. The folks who got it wrong the last time (eg the editorial board of the New York Times) will in all likelihood get it wrong the next time. Baker (and, to be fair, quite a few others mostly on the political Right) saw in advance how the accord with North Korea would turn out. Those who saw the bad outcome ought to be at the top of the list of people we listen to for advice about how to proceed from here.
Dogs are more relaxed and well-behaved when listening to classical music, rather than pop or heavy metal, according to a new behavioural study. The researchers say the results could help dog pounds work out the best play list for calming their canines.
There is something wrong with this picture:
Even after the Gulf War, many Iraqi students continued to attend US universities to study nuclear physics and engineering. Dr. Kay, the former weapons inspector, discovered this during a 1993 visit to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In his lecture to a roomful of nuclear-engineering graduate students, he was surprised to find nearly a dozen young Iraqis.
"This was after the Gulf War – and they were here quite legally," he says. "I was talking about what we had learned about Iraq. They asked very good questions. Most of them intended to go back home."
Spertzel raises a nightmare scenario. Should the US attack Iraq without first stockpiling much larger quantities of smallpox vaccine?
"The problem with Iraq is not anthrax, it's not plague, it's not botox. It's smallpox," said smallpox expert Dr. Alan Zelicoff, a senior scientist at Sandia National Laboratories' Center for National Security and Arms Control in Albuquerque, N.M.
"I think it's very likely that's his ace in the hole. And if he were to be attacked, my personal fear is he would release smallpox by any of several methods and that would change everything. If that is what he does, he wins, there is no way out. Even if the United States had 300 million doses of vaccine, what about Europe and Asia? There's nothing there," he said.
But the United Nations' former chief bioweapons inspector in Iraq is certain that Saddam both has smallpox and has managed to weaponize it.
"My gut says they were beginning to work on smallpox and by 2002, they have it," said Richard Spertzel, a microbiologist who worked in the U.S. bioweapons program in the 1950s, then switched to biodefense. He is a veteran of more than three dozen trips to Iraq, from 1994 until inspectors pulled out in 1998.
If you want to know more about what the former UNSCOM inspectors think about Saddam's past and current capabilities then go to this post and click thru to all the other URLs
The Washington Post comes down in favor of moving for a vote in the UN Security Council rather than further weaken the resolution that the US is putting forth:
The Franco-Russian obstructionism cannot be understood as a response to the Bush administration's hawkishness on Iraq, its doctrine of preemption or its drift toward unilateralism. Paris and Moscow have been championing the cause of Saddam Hussein in the Security Council since long before the election of George W. Bush. The two governments now portray themselves as advocates of Iraqi disarmament and U.N. inspections; but for much of the 1990s, their explicit aim was to weaken or abolish U.N. inspections and remove all U.N. sanctions on Iraq -- positions that helped their businessmen to win lucrative new contracts and their governments to harvest popular acclaim in the Arab world, at the expense of the United States.
Presidents Jacques Chirac of France and Vladimir Putin of Russia are still playing the same cynical game, only now they would strike a pose as the only restraint on the aggressiveness of the hegemonistic United States, and as champions of the rule of international law. Never mind that both countries have never hesitated to dispatch their forces for foreign interventions where their interests were threatened, with or without U.N. approval.
The part that troubles me about the UN negotiations is pretty simple: Why do we take the UN seriously in the first place?
Sebastian Mallaby argues that since MacArthur's rule of Japan was too much like colonialism it will not be seen as acceptable to have an American General ruling Iraq for several years. However, I fail to see how his preferred alternative, a new international institution whose purpose is to rule conquered nations, will avoid any of the same accusations that will be hurdled at a pure US administration for Iraq. As long as the ruling Administration of Iraq is following American guidance it will be labelled a tool of American imperialism:
A really bold administration would not accept these weaknesses. It would think up a new international institution that could match MacArthur's vigor while avoiding an anti-imperialist backlash. This new institution -- call it the International Reconstruction Fund -- should be governed like the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund: It should have an American-led board rather than a system of squad vetoes like the U.N. Security Council. It should assemble the expertise and resources needed to put countries back together, including experts in constitutions and truth commissions, as well as a roster of peacekeepers and police officers from different countries who have been trained to work together. The reconstruction fund should amount to a pre-assembled, non-American MacArthur -- and thereby serve American interests far better than the American version.
The US will be damned no matter what it does. It is better for the US to do what will be most effective. At least that way we will derive some benefit in spite of the condemnations from all the usual suspects.
Update: For all posts on the problem of reconstruction and reformation of conquered countries see the Parapundit Reconstruction and Reformation archives.
Some people believe that Saddam can in some sense be trusted to have weapons of mass destruction without using them against the United States. If Saddam is left in power some day one of the sons may rule Iraq. So we need to ask ourselves. what exactly are the effects of youthful trips with dad to torture chambers?
If Saddam is Don Corleone, then Uday is Sonny, the reckless, violent, oversexed heir apparent. And Qusay is Michael, the younger brother who is calmer, colder and ultimately more dangerous. A cornered Uday would not hesitate to lash out with chemical and biological weapons. But Qusay is the greater risk to actually control the weapons and find a way to use them against U.S. forces or the American people.
In his Anglosphere column James C. Bennett examines Australiai's options in light of the Bali attack and the unstable political conditions in Indonesia. He says appeasement is not a realistic option:
In its current situation, Australia has fewer choices than its intellectuals believe. Their preferred choice, appeasement of the radical Islamists, will be not only ineffective but counterproductive: it will teach the lesson that killing Australians is the way to control Australia.
There is in fact little Australia can do to please or accommodate the radical Islamists of Indonesia, since their goals are primarily aimed at turning Indonesia into a Taliban-like Islamist state. Terror against non-Muslim Indonesians and foreign travelers in Indonesia is part of their campaign, and there is nothing that will stop them short of rendering them ineffective.
France and Russia object to the wording of the latest US draft of a resolution for the UN Security Council on Iraq. Sounds like George W. Bush is ready to move against Iraq without UN support:
"If the United Nations can't make its mind up, if Saddam Hussein won't disarm, we will lead a coalition to disarm him for the sake of peace," President George Bush repeated during a mid-term election campaign stop. His spokesman, Ari Fleischer, was more explicit: "It's coming down to the end ... the United Nations does not have forever."
Is it better for the US for there to be a formal vote and rejection of the US text before the US attacks Iraq? Or is it better to just drop the effort to get UN support now and move on?
Check out the table at the bottom of this National Post article by William Watson for tax levels of the OECD nations in the years 1965 and 2000:
Canada's tax ratio is currently 35.8% of GDP, just a little under the OECD average (38.8%). In terms of rankings, we've actually fallen a bit, to 14th. The United States is second last, eight spots behind us, with only Japan behind it. Ten countries are above 40%, and five (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Belgium and France) are above 45%.
Since I do not personally watch TV news I am not in a position to judge Mark Steyn's claim that the US media is paying too little attention to the Bali bombing. But he's not the only person who is making this claim and I"m inclined to believe it. This is very unfortunate. It is of course a great injustice and a tragic loss of life. In the bigger picture the Bali bombing is incredibly important because it ought to make clear to anyone who doesn't yet believe it that the Islamists hate all of Western Civilization:
No problem. They are all infidels. That's the meaning of the Bali bomb: It doesn't matter whether you're a Wall Street trader or a Scandinavian stoner, they hate you all. But the American media seem to operate on a similar principle: They're all foreigners, so who cares? Australia is one of this country's few real friends in the world. We're not just fellow infidels, but brothers on a field of battle that stretches from Manhattan to Bali. If the American media don't understand that, then the American president needs to remind them.
Someone might be sitting in Norway or Portugal or Quebec thinking "but they have no reason to hate me". Wrong. You aren't a Muslim. You are not ruled by Muslims. You are part of Western Civilization. Western Civilization (and not just its most powerful country) in its entirety is an obstacle to the goals of the Islamists. Its success is an insult to what they see as God's rightful order for the world (Dar Al Islam). They despise and hate you and most importantly they feel contempt for you. They can not be appeased. They are not interested in your own personal benevolent views of your fellow humans. They hate you.
Update: On the importance of contempt as a defining emotion of Islamist attitudes toward the West see this previous post about Jeffrey Goldberg's experiences in Muslim countries. Be sure to click thru and read his Jihad U essay if you haven't already read it.
Mark Steyn examines the TV talking heads experts and the large quantity of nonsense that TV experts dish out:
That's the trouble with this approach. Everything that seems to point in one direction could also point in the opposite direction. The tarot card left at one murder scene would appear to suggest the sniper isn't an Islamic terrorist. On the other hand, "Dear policeman, I am God" doesn't sound like someone whose first language is American English. "Policeman" is not a word in common currency in suburban Maryland. Perhaps the killer's British. Perhaps he's a Gilbert and Sullivan fan. Perhaps he's a troubled loner trying to sound like an Islamic terrorist. Or perhaps he's an Islamic terrorist trying to sound like a troubled loner.
My advice: Don't watch TV news. Don't watch TV news analysis talk shows. Don't follow this story unless you are in the Washington DC area and want to know what sorts of locations the killer chooses to shoot at victims. If the killer(s) keep carrying out shootings the police will catch who is doing it eventually.
The Moscow-based alternative newspaper eXile examines the question of whether Europeans are in a position to preach to Americans:
Should America, and the rest of the world, listen? What is Europe’s lesson to humanity? What example have they set for the rest of us?
To answer this question, we at the eXile have decided to let ze Europeans speak for themselves. A sort of “Europe on Europe” primer. Nothing could better test the European sense of profound inter-ethnic understanding than studying how Europeans view their very own European neighbors.
And when you do that, you find something incredible: Bigotry and hatred are the bread and water of European life. This isn’t a vague, impersonal hatred; rather, it’s a profoundly evolved, carefully tailored hatred, a SMART Hatred if you will, tailored as tightly as a Swiss banker’s shirt towards the village over the hill, where your bosom enemies live.
Through hard and thorough research (ie., by pouring beer into the throats of selected Europeans and letting them rant), the eXile has managed to isolate and map the 18 fundamental hatred genomes that Europeans carry towards their neighbors—the RNA strand of Euro-hatred, if you like.
For the results see the charts on this page.
Christopher Hitchens has written another excellent essay about the values and beliefs of the anti-war Left. Be sure to read the whole thing:
Instead of internationalism, we find among the Left now a sort of affectless, neutralist, smirking isolationism. In this moral universe, the views of the corrupt and conservative Jacques Chirac -- who built Saddam Hussein a nuclear reactor, knowing what he wanted it for -- carry more weight than those of persecuted Iraqi democrats. In this moral universe, the figure of Jimmy Carter -- who incited Saddam to attack Iran in 1980, without any U.N. or congressional consultation that I can remember -- is considered axiomatically more statesmanlike than Bush.
The US isn't even bothering to approach the Saudis with this information. Instead, Treasury undersecretary Jimmy Gurule is travelling to Europe to ask the Europeans to sieze the assets of these Saudis:
The official said most of the alleged financiers are wealthy Saudi bankers and businessmen. Because the Saudi government has previously proven uncooperative in confronting its prominent citizens about links to terror, the United States has not yet sought its help in the new effort, officials said.
Instead, the government hopes to freeze their assets in Europe, where the Saudi financial and business empires have much of their money, and put together the broadest possible consensus to demand that the Saudi government crack down on the alleged terror financiers, they said.
This speaks volumes about the Bush Administration's view of the Saudis. A lot of people fault the Bushies for not criticising the Saudis more. I'm not convinced that the reasons most often cited for the lack of criticisim (Bush family oil ties to Saudi Arabia, Bush Administration naivete about the threat posed by the Saudis, influential Americans who are paid to lobby for the Saudis) are the reason why the Bush Administration is quiet on this. It seems a more reasonable explanation is that the US military needs to operate in the Persian Gulf region in order to invade Iraq and that the Bush Administration needs to avoid saying anything that would make either the Saudi or Iranian regime believe that they are next. Once the US military is firmly established in Iraq then I expect that either the Saudis or the Iranians are going to feel the heat turned up on them.
I sincerely hope that Bush will do exactly what Charles Krauthammer suggests: Call France's Bluff:
No more dithering. Put the question to France. We are going to present our resolution to the Security Council. Will you veto it?
This would not be an easy choice for France. It certainly understands that if it vetoes the resolution, and if the United States goes ahead regardless (as it certainly will), and if the war is a success, this will mean the end of the Security Council as a serious institution.
The General Assembly, where every country has equal weight, is already an absurdity. No one takes anything that happens there seriously. But people still ascribe some importance to the Security Council, despite the fact that it is a relic of World War II. If, however, on the major issue of the day -- war and peace in the Persian Gulf -- France tests the authority of the council by casting a veto that is summarily brushed aside, then the emperor's clothes will be gone. The United Nations' irrelevance will have been irrefutably demonstrated.
I also hope that France will ultimately exercise its veto over whatever resolution the US puts forward.
Max Boot, author of The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, has written an essay about how the secular modern faith in peace processes can not be shaken by mere facts:
You might think that these events would tend to discredit the Clinton presidency. But it's too late for that. Two years after the Marc Rich pardon, one year after September 11, the Clinton administration cannot be discredited any further. The real question is whether these events will discredit the idea that peace comes from a "process." I rather think not, for like all true faiths it is impervious to empirical refutation....
...Professional peace processors are not likely to be put off by a minor inconvenience like North Korea's brandishing of nuclear weapons. They will just see it as one more reason to redouble efforts at "engagement" (a nicer word than "appeasement").
Update: Max Boot has also recently written an essay for the Washington Post on an aspect of the Bush National Security Strategy document that has occasioned surprisingly little discussion:
Now the Big Enchilada doctrine is back. The new Bush strategy proclaims: "Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military buildup in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States." This is even stronger language than that used a decade ago. But now the reaction is . . . pretty much, zip. Why?
The obvious answer is Sept. 11, which showed us what a dangerous place the world can be. But the National Security Strategy doesn't call for a temporary, wartime buildup to fight terrorism. It calls for a permanent policy of maintaining U.S. military hegemony.
You can find links to the Bush National Security Strategy document here.
North Korea, which probably acquired nuclear technology from Pakistan, is already selling missile technology to Iraq, Syria, and Iran:
An abundance of nuclear technology in North Korea, long known for its ballistic missile sales, anticipates a nightmare domino effect, experts say. That argument is underscored by the likelihood that recent club member Pakistan, despite its denials, helped the reclusive east Asian dictatorship to the door.
''The concern is North Korea becoming a nuclear Kmart, complete with blue-light specials,'' said Jon Wolfsthal, a nuclear proliferation expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Of course the day will come where somewhere in the world there will be that bright flashing white ligh special. If North Korea is a nuclear KMart does this make Pakistan a nuclear Target?
Despite more than four decades of experience with advanced weapons and nuclear engineering, North Korea lacks the specialized manufacturing capability and know-how to build a gas-centrifuge facility on its own, weapons experts agreed. Many analysts pointed to Pakistan as a possible source of supplies and expertise.
This of course begs the question of just where else Pakistan has sold its nuclear technology. Iran and North Korea are helping each other in nuclear weapons development:
The American discovery that North Korea has successfully developed a nuclear munitions device, despite its international commitments to non-proliferation, has a Middle Eastern aspect. Part of the country's efforts to produce enriched uranium, as well as tests on its long-range missile engines, are being conducted in Iran, in exchange for Pyongyang aid to Tehran in these two areas as well as the concealment of such efforts from the United States' and North Korea's neighbors.
It seems odd that so much fuss is being about about North Korea's admission to having a nuclear weapons development program since the US government already believes that North Korea has nuclear weapons:
According to the Central Intelligence Agency and others, it is believed Pyongyang already has one, and possibly two, nuclear bombs.
U.S. diplomats have said North Korea made no indication why they were disclosing their illicit program. There is some speculation it did so to elicit more aid from abroad.
Why is it that there are people won't believe the obvious until the bad guys admit it right out of their own mouths? Similarly, there are people who will not believe that Saddam is developing WMD until the Iraqi WMD development labs are opened up by invading US troops. Why is that?Andrew Sullivan has been posting on statements that the media and leaders made about the US-North Korea deal in 1994 on nuclear non-proliferation. Start here and then read here. Sullivan also includes Helen Thomas on Jimmy Carter's involvement in trying to negotiate the 1994 deal with North Korea. Finally, see what Andrew Sullivan just posted Monday morning.
Check out this Google News search on North Korea Iran nuclear if you can stomach more depressing news about WMD proliferation.
Jonah argues that the Europeans, Japanese and South Koreans tend to see the problems of the world as solvable using diplomacy because that is what they are able to use:
"Irresponsibility, resentment, and self-hatred are the inevitable consequences of excessive dependence on others," wrote Melvyn Krauss in How NATO Weakens the West. Krauss was writing in the late 1980s, when our European allies and Japan were typically spending about half as much as we were on defense (in terms of GNP) and only about a quarter of what the Soviets were spending — despite the fact that our allies were on the front lines of the Cold War. Krauss's argument was simple: By over-relying on our military welfare, our allies were developing bloated social-welfare programs. Moreover, because they didn't take defense seriously, they also began to believe that talk — then called "détente" — would be a more effective solution to the Soviet threat.
Well, the Cold War may be gone, but the "irresponsibility, resentment, and self-hatred" Krauss chronicled has a momentum that's still going strong. France's position in the U.N. Security Council, like that of the antiwar Democrats here in the U.S., amounts to wanting the results a threat of war might yield — disarmament, regime change, etc. — without even the possibility of actually threatening war, under any circumstances.
In the October 2002 issue of Policy Review Ronald D. Asmus and Kenneth M. Pollack have written an essay entitled The New Transatlantic Project arguing for a new Atlantic Alliance of the Western powers to reshape the Greater Middle East region that stretches from North Africa to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Asmus and Pollack argue for a sustained common strategy to politically transform that entire region:
What would a common transatlantic strategy to address this threat look like in practice? The starting point would be the recognition that the greatest threats to both sides of the Atlantic today no longer come from within the continent but beyond it and in particular from the Greater Middle East. Those threats are not second-tier risks but very real and potentially existential dangers because they involve the growing likelihood of the use of weapons of mass destruction against our homelands.
We also need to stop looking at the problems and crises in the Greater Middle East as separate or distinct problems that can be addressed in isolation. A common set of driving forces across the region from Northern Africa to Pakistan is contributing to the toxic combination of radical anti-Western ideologies, terrorism, rogue states, failed states, and the drive to acquire weapons of mass destruction. The problems we face in Afghanistan, the Israeli-Arab conflict, Iraq, and Iran are all parts of the same interwoven tapestry and a larger strategic problem. Indeed, to some extent, their impact can be felt in the problems of the Caucasus and Central Asia as well.
Most of the people of the region suffer from underlying problems of economic stagnation, political alienation, maleducation, and an inability to come to terms with modernity. We need to encourage them to address these problems themselves, while we provide them with assistance — both resources and expertise. Too often in the past, we have allowed democratization and economic liberalization to slip to the bottom of our list of concerns with our allies in the region. This must stop. The need for transformation must move to the top of both American and European priorities, which must also recognize that this will not be easy for the states of the region.
In Asmus and Pollack's favor is the fact that the security threats the Middle East creates for the West require that we think in grand terms. But I have to ask this question: What exactly could the West do that would transform the Greater Middle East in a way that would increase Western security? One can trot out all sorts of ideas that would cause all sorts of changes. But which changes would be a net benefit to Western Civilization?
To put it another way: Can we transform the failed Middle Eastern states into no-longer-failed states? If so, how? Do we have to invade and overthrow each regime we would transform? It seems extremely likely at this point that we will invade Iraq and I have no doubt that we are going to try something to change Iraq somehow. But will that something change the Iraqi culture in a way that will cause the people to behave in ways that are more supportive of a secular democratic government that is open, respecting of individual rights, and not corrupt? If we can even do that much will the Iraqi people become any less hostile to us as a result?
Can a political transformation of the Middle East be accomplished without transforming Muslims mating practices and family structure? Suppose we try to introduction of democracy into the region. Will intervention make the Middle Eastern regimes worse or better? What I find lacking in most writing about the need to politicaly transform the Middle East is any sign of understanding of why the Middle East is so politically backward in the first place.
Meanwhile, the UK and US are arguing over whether the post-war Iraqi administration should be a UN administration or a US military administration. I'd care more about this if I had a clearer idea of exactly what each administration would do to change Iraq. My guess is that the US military would make more sensible changes than the UN would (sensible not being a word that naturally goes with the UN).
Irwin Stelzer puts his finger on how the US economy could go into recession: a dollar decline would have many negative follow-on consequences:
It is that sustained spending that is a two-edged sword. It has kept the economy moving forward in spite of a massive slowdown in business investment. But American’s appetite for imported cars, television sets, trainers, and T-shirts has created a current account deficit that is now approaching 5 percent of GDP. Most economists think that an imbalance of that magnitude between imports and exports inevitably leads to a run on the currency of the importing—some would say profligate—nation.
So far, the United States has avoided more than a minor decline in the dollar by attracting sufficient inward investment to offset the massive outflow of dollars. Europeans’ withdrawal of funds has been matched by increased inflows from Asia. But if share prices continue to fall, foreigners may tire of holding dollar assets. If they do so suddenly and in a major way, the dollar may fall so far and so fast as to force the Federal Reserve Board to jack up interest rates to increase returns on dollar assets. That would, of course, abort the halting economic recovery now underway.
Consumer spending creates another problem—record borrowing. Haskel points out in a memorandum to me that the cost of servicing private debt is now running at about 14 percent of disposable income, the top end of the historic range. Should interest rates rise, the cost of carrying that massive pile of debt—now equal to more than 100 percent of disposable income, compared with about 75 percent in 1990—will soar, forcing consumers to rein in spending.
The debt load and the trade deficit have both got cause a day of reckoning for the economy sooner or later. Americans can't continue to live beyond their means indefinitely.
Mark Steyn says we can easily understand the Islamists if we just take them at their word:
The French were supportive for about ten minutes after 11 September, but for most of the last year have been famously and publicly non-supportive: throughout the spring, their foreign minister, M. Védrine, was deploring American ‘simplisme’ on a daily basis. The French veto is still Saddam’s best shot at torpedoing any meaningful UN action on Iraq. If you were to pick only one Western nation not to blow up the oil tankers of, the French would be it.
But they got blown up anyway. And afterwards a spokesman for the Islamic Army of Aden said, ‘We would have preferred to hit a US frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels.’
No problem. They are all infidels.
Unlike Mr Fisk, I don’t have decades of expertise in the finer points of Islamic culture, so when people make certain statements and their acts conform to those statements I tend to take them at their word. As Hussein Massawi, former leader of Hezbollah, neatly put it, ‘We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.’ The first choice of Islamists is to kill Americans and Jews, or best of all an American Jew — like Daniel Pearl, the late Wall Street Journal reporter. Failing that, they’re happy to kill Australians, Britons, Canadians, Swedes, Germans, as they did in Bali. We are all infidels.
There are Leftist apologists in the West who insist upon believing that the Islamists do not really mean what they say. The apologists argue that Islamists are angry over legitimate grievances and that if we would just try harder to redress their grievances then the appeal of radical Islam would recede and we would have peace with the Muslim countries. This interpretation is in a sense condescending to the Muslims because it stuffs them into a Western Leftist intellectual category that ignores their own professed beliefs and motives. Western standards of fairness and justice (albeit of a Leftist variety) are applied to the Muslims to try to puzzle out exactly why they might be mad. The Leftists impress their own reasons for anger at their own societies onto their image of Muslims. The Leftists advance these arguments so much that some of the more secular Muslims latch on and parrot them back again. But our hardest core enemies among the Muslims describe their anger and contempt using very different language. It is language we need to listen to even as we reject their values.
We can understand the radical Islamists but only if we are willing to take a less rosy view of humanity and of politics. Are the Islamists simply reacting to poverty and oppression in anger and frustration? That's a nice explanation in many ways. Just lift them out of poverty, support democracy in their countries, and our fight with them would be over. The description of the problem suggests a solution and the solution is one that can be solved by lots of money and legions of workers willing to help in political and economic development. In this view all people would be really nice and tolerant if only they were not themselves oppressed. This dangerously naive belief is a myth whose delusive influence on our thinking we can no longer afford. We can not effectively fight our enemies unless we are willing to admit that we differ with them on questions of basic values.
Why don't more people admit there is a clash of values between civilizations ala Samuel P. Huntington? Because that admissions requires one to accept a more bleak and pessimistic view of human nature. The acceptance of a pessimistic view results in one seeing the world as a much more dangerous place and the world's problems as much less tractable. It means giving up on dreams of utopia in this life. It is therefore not surprising that many resist believing the reasons why our enemies oppose us.
The acceptance a more pessimistic outlook is not our only need if we are to understand the nature of our enemies. Humility is also needed. We need to accept that we can't always reason with those who oppose us in order to find common ground and a mutually acceptable solution. We need to accept that we can't solve the problems of the world and can't make everyone happy and peaceful. We need to accept that we haven't created a civilization with universal appeal.
Just because our values are not universally held is not a reason to think any less of them. Also, a more realistic view does not require that we walk around feeling perpetual gloom. If we can accept the depth of the differences that divide us from our enemies we will be more intellectually equipped to reduce the size of the threat that our enemies pose to us. If an increasing number of Westerners develop a more realistic view of the nature of our enemies that would be reason for optimism for our ability to meet the threats we face.
What are the prospects for a more realistic view of our enemies? With each new terrorist attack launched at different locations around the globe and with more Westerners lying dead and injured all the Western peoples are receiving painful and tragic reminders of how much they share in common and how much sets them apart from their enemies. One of the consequences of terrorist attacks directed at all Westerners is going to be an increased awareness by Westerners that they share a common civilization. The recognition the Islamists have of the West as a distinct culture is one which the Islamists are, perversely, teaching to the West. It is possible (though, unfortunately, by no means certain) that the Islamists may end up triggering a revival in the minds of Westerners of an appreciation of the unique and valuable elements of Western culture. If this happens then the Western peoples will finally become willing to think clearly about their enemies and to take the steps necessary to defend Western Civilization from them. I am sufficiently optimistic about this to predict that future historians will come to see the Bali attack as a turning point in Western Civilization.
On why Islamic contempt can not be appeased see my previous post on Jeffrey Golderg's experiences in the Middle East.
Recently in my access logs I noticed a lot of referrals from a blogger (Vinod) I hadn't heard of before and went to look at his blog. Lucky that, because Vinod has recently posted about a very interesting Stanley Kurtz article The Future Of History comparing the historical interpretations of Francis Fukuyama and Samuel P. Huntington. The Kurtz article came out in the June 2002 issue of Policy Review. Francis Fukuyama wrote a rather famous and much debated book published in 1992 called The End of History and the Last Man. Samuel P. Huntington wrote The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order published in 1996. Kurtz's essay compares and contrasts the Fukuyama and Huntington interpretations and adds some views of his own.
From the Kurtz article The Future Of History:
In the end, the most fundamental issue separating Fukuyama and Huntington receives only very passing treatment from either thinker. Ultimately, it is impossible to adjudicate the Fukuyama-Huntington debate without a well-grounded theory of modernization. In the absence of a clear conception of how, why, and when modernization blends, or fails to blend, with particular social forms, there is simply no basis for making decisions about the relative long-term prescience of either man. And while both Huntington and Fukuyama touch on these underlying social-structural questions, neither explores them in anything like systematic fashion.
As noted, Huntington does put forward a very nice account of the social roots of Islamic fundamentalism. Yet that account only begs the question of the long-term effects of modernization. Huntington rightly notes that the tendency of modernization to break traditional social bonds has actually stimulated an identity-preserving return to Islam. Yet if the forces of modernization continue to disrupt the older social solidarities, a long-term cultural shift toward individualism is entirely conceivable, and that is a possibility Huntington does not entertain. In an effort to distinguish between modernization and Westernization, Huntington rightly points out that the West’s cultural individualism predates modernity and cannot be treated as entirely synonymous with it. Yet that does not preclude the possibility that the long-term effect of technological and economic modernization might be to dissolve traditional social forms and thereby generate exactly the sort of cultural individualism long familiar to us in the West.
This is precisely Fukuyama’s claim, yet he does not substantiate it so much as assume it. Fukuyama does show how urbanization and bureaucratization served to undercut traditional social ties in the West, thereby leading to an individualist world of capitalism and democracy. Unfortunately, he simply presumes that this pattern will hold for the non-Western world. That is too simple.
The important question that needs to be answered with some precision is this: What exactly is meant by "traditional social bonds"? The answer at least in part is extended family bonds of loyalty and obligation that are built via marriage between already related families. The various regions of the world differ enormously in the rate at which people marry close relatives (eg marrying cousins) and, in Kurtz's view, the high amount of consanguinity in most Muslim countries goes a long way to explain their failure to modernize and their hostility toward the West. If you haven't already done so go to this post and read the Stanley Kurtz articles and other links on consanguinity. If Kurtz's argument is correct (and I believe it is) then attempts to change a defeated and militarily occupied Iraq or other Middle Eastern countries into something resembling secular Western liberal democracies are bound to take decades at best. The challenge is not just to convert the political culture. It will not be possible to develop effective civil institutions that would exist independent both governmental and religious institutions as long as extended families play such central roles in the lives of Muslims.
The greatest question perhaps may be whether modernization must inevitably cause a culture to place greater emphasis on individualism and individual rights. A popular interpretation of Western history is that industrialization created the conditions that led the rise of individualism. This may be a false reading of history. The concept of individual human rights predates industrialization and modernization in Western Civilization by many centuries. Today while Muslim societies possess far more technology than Americans of two centuries ago those Muslim societies of today place less emphasis on human rights than American culture then. In his article on the Crusades John Derbyshire argues that the Western concept of individual rights was already beginning to show up in the Middle Ages:
Above and beyond this, if we are to take sides on the Crusades after all these centuries, we should acknowledge that, for all their many crimes, the Crusaders were our spiritual kin. I do not mean only in religion, though that of course is not a negligible connection: I mean in their understanding of society, and of the individual’s place in it. Time and again, when you read the histories of this period, you are struck by sentences like these, which I have taken more or less at random from Sir Steven Runciman’s History of the Crusades: “[Queen Melisande’s] action was regarded as perfectly constitutional and was endorsed by the council.” “Trial by peers was an essential feature of Frankish custom.” “The King ranked with his tenant-in-chief as primus inter pares, their president but not their master.”
If we look behind the cruelty, treachery, and folly, and try to divine what the Crusaders actually said and thought, we see, dimly but unmistakably, the early flickering light of the modern West, with its ideals of liberty, justice, and individual worth.
If the development of a rights-based society and individualism started tat far back then the development unfolded very slowly. We in the West are now in conflict with another civilization which, while it has been in contact with Western Civilization for many centuries, has failed to go through this development. Are we to believe that it can race thru stages of development that Western Civilization spent centuries going thru?
Chapter 12 of the Huntington Clash of Civilizations book can be found here. The most discussed and disputed Huntington argument is about conflicts between civilizations. However, another argument Huntington makes is about the possibility of decline and decay within Western Civilization:
A more immediate and dangerous challenge exists in the United States. Historically American national identity has been defined culturally by the heritage of Western civilization and politically by the principles of the American Creed on which Americans overwhelmingly agree: liberty, democracy, individualism, equality before the law, constitutionalism, private property. In the late twentieth century both components of American identity have come under concentrated and sustained onslaught from a small but influential number of intellectuals and publicists. In the name of multiculturalism they have attacked the identification of the United States with Western civilization, denied the existence of a common American culture, and promoted racial, ethnic, and other subnational cultural identities and groupings. They have denounced, in the words of one of their reports, the "systematic bias toward European culture and its derivatives" in education and "the dominance of the European-American monocultural perspective." The multiculturalists are, as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., said, "very often ethnocentric separatists who see little in the Western heritage other than Western crimes." Their "mood is one of divesting Americans of the sinful European inheritance and seeking redemptive infusions from non-Western cultures."7
The multicultural trend was also manifested in a variety of legislation that followed the civil rights acts of the 1960s, and in the 1990s the Clinton administration made the encouragement of diversity one of its major goals. The contrast with the past is striking. The Founding Fathers saw diversity as a reality and as a problem: hence the national motto, e pluribus unum, chosen by a committee of the Continental Congress consisting of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. Later political leaders who also were fearful of the dangers of racial, sectional, ethnic, economic, and cultural diversity (which, indeed, produced the largest war of the century between 1815 and 1914), responded to the call of "bring us together," and made the promotion of national unity their central responsibility. "The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing as a nation at all," warned Theodore Roosevelt, "would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities."8 In the 1990s, however, the leaders of the United States have not only permitted that but assiduously promoted the diversity rather than the unity of the people they govern.
Stanley Kurtz, Martin Kramer, and Adam Garfinkle all share my pessimism about the prospects for democracy in Arab and other Muslim countries. We start with Stanley Kurtz on the threat of greater radicalization in Muslim countries:
Clearly, the (necessary) attack on Saddam has the potential to set off a serious reaction in the Muslim world. Yet the real lesson of the Bali blast and the Pakistani election may be what they say about the aftermath of victory in Iraq. Proponents of democratization in the Muslim world may be right (within limits) to say that a bit of de-stabilization may be just what we need right now in the Muslim world. It's true that the status quo in the Middle East is unproductive and due for a change. But it may simply be wishful thinking to believe that, after all the Middle East's cards have been thrown into the air, they will fall down to earth in good democratic order.
If even Indonesia, home of the largest and most moderate democracy movement in the Islamic world, can be radicalized and thrown into economic chaos by the war (and by its own internal divisions), what will happen in a conquered Iraq? And the Pakistani's remind us that voters can use the ballot box to kill democracy by installing an Islamist dictatorship. Most disturbing, even wealth and middle-class status are no guarantee of immunity against Islamism's appeal.
Stanley Kurtz, in turn, advises a trip to Martin Kramer's blog:
Frankly, my eyes glaze over when I hear Condoleezza Rice, James Woolsey, and Tom Friedman wax eloquent on the coming "march of democracy" in the Arab world. (Woolsey to James Fallows in the current issue of The Atlantic: "This could be a golden opportunity to begin to change the face of the Arab world. Just as what we did in Germany changed the face of Central and Eastern Europe, here we have got a golden chance.") As a survivor of the Middle East peace process, which, we were told, would transform Israel, "Palestine," and Jordan into a Benelux, I smell snake oil. Of all the rationales for war, this one is the least substantial and the most ideological, and those who make it cast doubt on whether they fully understand the regional context in which an Iraq war might be fought.
Aside: Perhaps I overestimate Rice's ability but I am guessing she must realize that the odds of successfully installing a government in Iraq that will sustain an even modestly liberal democracy in the long term are slim. Whether or not Rice believes her rhetoric there certainly are within the ranks of the war camp many people who sound sincere when they claim that the US can transform the Middle Eastern regimes into secular democracies that respect the rights of individuals and that allow full freedom of speech and press. I think some of these people are naive ideologues.
Kramer has other excellent posts on his blog that are germane to the whole Islam and democracy debate. Click thru to his blog if you want to read more.
Martin Kramer links to a speech he gave at the 2002 Weinberg Founders Conference where he argues that Arab society does not embrace the beliefs that are necessary prerequisites for a successful liberal democracy:
The most basic building blocks are not elections, or political parties, or a free press. You can have elections in countries that are not free—the Arab world has them all the time. These countries have voting; they just don't have counting. Or let's just say they have selective counting, which produces those famous 99-percent votes in favor of the ruler. As for political parties, the Arab world also has them—mostly in the form of ruling parties. There are lots of those. And thanks to the proliferation of technologies, the press has never been freer in the Arab world—freer to disseminate hatred, lies, and incitement. These are not the building blocks of democracy.
The basic building blocks are attitudes—above all, a tolerance of political differences, indeed even a celebration of political differences, debated openly and decided freely.
Arab society lacks that tolerance. It is very sharing of many things—but not of political power. That power is like the honor of one's women: it cannot be compromised without being lost. And in the Arab world, historically, the loss of power has meant the loss of everything: honor, possessions. home, life itself. I do not claim here that the Arab world is imprisoned by Islam, as some might argue. I do claim that it is burdened by its history—history transmuted into memory, and preserved as a mindset. And I would summarize the mindset in a simple axiom: rule or die.
Hence, the dearth of what is called civil society. Civil society is that panoply of associations that are greater than individual, family, clan, and tribe. These associations organize people around shared ideas and interests; democratic societies are replete with thousands upon thousands of such associations, from the PTA to the Pac.
Martin Kramer, in turn, links to an excerpt of an article written by Adam Garfinkle in the Fall 2002 issue of the National Interest on the lack of liberal democratic beliefs in Arabic countries:
Not only are liberal democratic attitudes toward pluralism, majority rule and equality before the law mostly absent from the Arab world, that world counterposes entrenched attitudes that are their antitheses: concepts of monadic political authority, consensus forms of decision-making and natural social hierarchy. We know that attitudes acquired and reinforced over centuries maintain a grip on the patterns of any group’s social relations, for better or for worse, even long after the conditions that spawned them have disappeared; so it seems indeed a reach too far to expect Arab societies to become liberal democracies anytime soon--certainly not soon enough to supply us with help for the problem of apocalyptic terrorism. And though we certainly wish them well, there is little that even the best efforts of the National Endowment for Democracy, of the new White House Office of Global Communications, of Charlotte Beers marketing Uncle Sam as a brand name from the State Department, and of U.S. government-sponsored Radio Sawa, pumping out news in Arabic along with Jennifer Lopez and Lionel Ritchie music, can do about it.
These efforts, after all, are unlikely to change the contemporary Arab view of liberal democracy as an alien Western idea at a time when Arab societies are struggling to cope with Western-wrought modernity. They cannot erase the fact that most Arab societies tried but failed during the late 19th and 20th centuries to adopt Western ways to achieve wealth, power and respect, or erase the legacy of simultaneous envy and resentment created by that failure (explaining why many Arab youths who in the morning declare their enmity for the West in the afternoon express a desire to emigrate there).
For information about how consanguineous unions in marriage are a major obstacle to the development of secular liberal democracy in Arab and other Muslim countries see the links here to essays by Stanley Kurtz and the per country consanguinity data.
I think proposals for a post-war federalized democracy in Iraq have to be considered in light of a very basic fact: Even an ethnically homogeneous Sunni Arab subset of Iraq would be unlikely to sustain support for an even semi-liberal democracy. Add to that the strains of mistrust that would be inherent in a federal system based on 3 main ethnic regions (or even more) and the odds of long term success for building a better post-war Iraq drop considerably from an already low starting point. But breaking up Iraq brings with it a totally different set of problems. I don't pretend to have answers. I just think people should be aware of the magnitude of the problem we will face when trying to politically transform Iraq.
Update: See two Stanley Kurtz articles from February 2002 that expand on his views about the difficulty of creating stable liberal democracies in the Middle East. Kinship networks have survived urbanisation in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries.
But unlike the urban masses of Europe, the rural migrants powering the Middle East's urban population explosion have brought their traditional kinship networks with them. Those networks offer support to the common man where weak Middle Eastern governments cannot — while also making it impossible for a modern political and economic system to take root. Family connections get you food when neither government nor the economy can provide it. But the corruption fueled by the family ethos sabotages the government's distribution plans, undercuts the government's legitimacy, and blocks the path to societal liberalization.
Will we see model governments installed in Muslim lands, the growth of civil society, and eventual American withdrawal after the establishment of democratic bastions in the Middle East? Or will we, like the Israelis, be forced to deal with a series of anti-American "intifadahs?" Somewhere between those two scenarios is where the era of reluctant imperialism will play out.
Condoleezza Rice has written an opinion piece for the Daily Telegraph of London and one should always take time to read what is in the mind of this director of the US National Security Council:
There is an old argument between the so-called "realistic" school of foreign affairs and the "idealistic" school. To oversimplify, realists play down the importance of values while emphasising the balance of power as the key to stability and peace. Idealists emphasise the primacy of values and the character of societies as crucial to a state's behaviour toward other nations.
While this may make for interesting academic debate, in real life, power and values are inextricably linked. Great powers can influence millions of lives and change history. And the values of great powers matter. If the Soviet Union had won the Cold War, the world would be a very different place today.
All of our decisions are affected by our values. The more powerful one becomes the more important it becomes to make sure that one is choosing and pursuing one's values wisely.
UPI Analyst Martin Sieff interprets the motive of the North Korean admission that it has an active nuclear weapons program as being to deter an eventual US attack on the North Korean regime. In this interpretation the hope of the North Koreans is that the US will conclude that North Korea may already have nukes and hence the US will decide it is too risky to attack North Korea:
The North Koreans have taken a page out of Israel's deterrence playbook. And like Israel, they did so because they were scared.
North Korean officials have made the bombshell admission to U.S. diplomats that their country for years has continued a nuclear development program in secret, even though this was in clear contravention of its 1994 commitments to the United States, U.S. and South Korean officials told UPI early Thursday.
There are problems with this theory. The first is that as Donald Rumsfeld already stated the US government already thinks North Korea has nukes. The next problem with this theory is that the North Koreans did not admit to their continued active development of nuclear weapons until the US presented them with (still classified for the rest of us) proof that the North Korean regime was in fact doing so. The bottom line here is that North Korea's continued development of nuclear weapons is not a reaction to the Bush Administration's pronouncements against the North Korean regime. The North Korean effort predates Bush's presidency.
Keep in mind that the US sees North Korea as a problem for more reasons than just what North Korea might do with missiles and nuclear weapons itself. North Korea's eagerness to make money as a secondary proliferator is at least as great a problem as North Korea's own possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and delivery vehicles for WMD.
(Martin Sieff link from Steve Sailer's site)
Eugene Volokh has written an excellent post on why a combination of a US strategy of mandatory multilateralism (ie allowing some other countries veto over our actions) and a strategy to avoid discontent and hatred on the part of countries which hold veto power over the US (most obviously UN Security Council permanent members or on the part of any countries who we effectively allow to veto our use of military force) would inevitably lead to disaster. Any country that holds veto power over US actions which also wants to avoid hatred directed at it for its own actions would have a strong incentive to veto any US action because otherwise to okay the action would bring hatred down upon it from US enemies. I strongly urge you all to read the full argument on the Volokh Conspiracy blog. As Eugene points out, there are already arguments being made (eg most recently by Australian Leftists in response to the Bali bombing; but countless others have made similar arguments since 9/11) that supporting US actions brings retaliation upon any country that does so.
High level Bush Administration diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad answered questions about the Bush Administration's plans for post-war Iraq. From his answers it seems clear that the Bush Administration does not plan to partition Iraq:
With regard to future challenges, specifically we believe that three sets of challenges would lie ahead. First, there will be the political reconstruction of Iraq. This will involve thorough reform of the government, de-Baathizing Iraq, removing those elements used by Saddam to enforce his tyranny on the Iraqi people. Officials found guilty of crimes against humanity will be prosecuted.
The larger issue of transitional justice will be settled by the Iraqi people.
With regard to economic reconstruction, the economy, too, will need to be reformed to put Iraq on the path to prosperity. The U.S. is committed to ensuring the Iraqi people's oil patrimony will be used to meet the economic and reconstruction needs of the Iraqi people.
With regard to security reconstruction, Iraq's international borders will be protected and respected. Security inside Iraq will be critical. The violence inflicted by Saddam on Iraq's people have left serious scars. These problems need to be resolved by a reformed Iraqi judicial system, not by gun. Iraq after Saddam will have the rule of law, not the rule of gun.
Fukuyama describes the causes of the differences between the US and Europe with regard to the role of international institutions:
Between these two views of the sources of legitimacy, the Europeans are theoretically right but wrong in practice. It is impossible to assert as a matter of principle that legitimately constituted liberal democracies can't make grave mistakes or indeed commit crimes against humanity. But the European idea that legitimacy is handed downward from a disembodied international community rather than handed upward from existing democratic institutions reflecting the public will on a nation-state level invites abuse on the part of elites, who are then free to interpret the will of the international community to suit their own preferences. This is the problem with the International Criminal Court. Instead of strengthening democracy on an international level, it tends to undermine democracy where it concretely lives, in nation-states.
The Council on Foreign Relations has released an important report on efforts needed to reduce terrorist funding:
October 17, 2002 - After an initially robust attempt to curtail financing for international terrorism, the Bush administration's current efforts are strategically inadequate to assure the sustained results needed to protect U.S. security. This is the core finding of a bipartisan commission chaired by Maurice R. Greenberg, Chairman and CEO of AIG, and directed by two former National Security Council (NSC) officials who are experts in the field.
To regain momentum and give this issue the priority it requires, the Task Force urges the administration to take two key structural steps:
- Designate a Special Assistant to the President with the specific mandate and prestige to compel the various diplomatic, law enforcement, intelligence, regulatory and policy agencies to work together to assure a sustained and effective U.S. response.
- Drive other countries-whose efforts are woefully inadequate-to greater effectiveness and cooperation. To accomplish this, the U.S. should lead an initiative to create a new international organization dedicated solely to curbing terrorist financing.
In the aftermath of 9/11, President Bush said, "We will starve the terrorists of funding." The purpose of the report is to evaluate how the United States is doing in carrying out that mission. The Task Force, directed by former NSC officials William Wechsler and Lee Wolosky, commends the progress that the Bush administration and Congress have made in disrupting Al-Qaeda's financial network, both at home and abroad. It warns, however, that "as long as Al-Qaeda retains access to a viable financial network, it remains a lethal threat to the United States."
The Task Force describes the complex nature of the financial network sustaining Al-Qaeda and the obstacles to dismantling it, and it acknowledges that the only realistic goal is to curb rather than completely cut off terrorist funding. It finds that U.S. efforts to curtail terrorist financing are impeded not only by a lack of institutional capacity abroad, but, critically, by a lack of political will among U.S. allies. The Task Force notes, for example: "For years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for Al-Qaeda. And for years, Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to this problem."
Confronted with this lack of political will, the Task Force finds that the Bush administration appears to have made a policy decision not to use the full power of U.S. influence and laws now on the books to pressure other governments to more effectively combat terrorist financing. It urges the Bush administration to reconsider the recently announced "second phase" of its policy to curb terrorist financing, which will rely more on foreign leadership and less on blocking orders-which the Task Force calls "among the most powerful tools the U.S. possesses in the war on terrorist finances."
The Council thinks the Bush Administration should be more frank about the lack of cooperation and effort other countries are providing:
Put issues regarding terrorist financing front and center in every bilateral diplomatic discussion with every "front-line" state in the fight against terrorism-at every level of the bilateral relationship, including the highest. Where sufficient progress is not forthcoming, speak out bluntly, forcefully, and openly about the specific shortfalls in other countries' efforts to combat terrorist financing. The Task Force appreciates the necessary delicacies of diplomacy and notes that previous administrations also used phrases that obfuscated more than they illuminated when making public statements on this subject. Nevertheless, when U.S. spokespersons are only willing to say that "Saudi Arabia is being cooperative" when they know very well all the ways in which it is not, both our allies and adversaries can be forgiven for believing that the United States does not place a high priority on this issue.
The report draws attention to the importance of Saudi Arabia as a source of terrorist funding:
However, it is worth stating clearly and unambiguously what official U.S. government spokespersons have not: For years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for al-Qaeda; and for years, Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to this problem.
This is hardly surprising since Saudi Arabia possesses the greatest concentration of wealth in the region; Saudi nationals and charities were previously the most important sources of funds for the mujahideen; Saudi nationals have always constituted a disproportionate percentage of al-Qaeda's own membership; and al-Qaeda's political message has long focused on issues of particular interest to Saudi nationals, especially those who are disenchanted with their own government.
Significant funds have also come from other pockets of wealth in the Arab world, such as the gulf states, Egypt, and elsewhere. Other moneys have been raised in South Asia, Europe, the Americas (including the United States), Africa, and Asia. Recent reports suggest that al-Qaeda may now be devoting increased resources to its fundraising activities in Southeast Asia, which would be a cause of significant concern. Additionally, in Asia and elsewhere, al-Qaeda has focused efforts in recent years on expanding its system of affiliates and surrogate organizations, such as Laskhar Jihad and Jemaah Islamiyah, many of which have independent financial support networks.
The report makes many other recommendations. You can download the PDF of the full report here.
This is understandable. The Kingdom obviously must realize that helping us would be inconsistent with its efforts to fund radical Islamic schools and mosques throughout the world:
RIYADH, 15 October — Saudi Arabia will not provide any assistance for the planned US military offensive against Iraq, Prince Sultan, second deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, announced yesterday.
“Saudi Arabia will not provide any assistance in any strikes against Iraq,” Prince Sultan said in comments published in the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.
“The Kingdom has a special status in the Arab and Muslim worlds, as it is home to the two holy mosques. It will not sacrifice this status for the sake of anyone,” the prince said.
Of course Saudi Arabia has another special status: it gave birth to 15 out of the 19 9/11 hijackers.
Conservatves became even more ostracised in Britain than in the US. Roger Scruton discusses his founding of the conservative Salisbury Review 20 years ago in the UK, his experiences editing it, and the price paid by him and contributors:
One of our earliest contributors was Ray Honeyford, the Bradford headmaster who argued for a policy of integration in our schools as the only way of averting ethnic conflict. Ray Honeyford was branded as a racist, horribly pilloried (by some of my academic colleagues in the University of Bradford, among others) and eventually sacked for saying what everyone now admits to be true. My attempts to defend him led to extensive libels of me and the Review. Other contributors were persecuted (and also sometimes sacked) for coming to Ray’s defence. This episode was our first great success, and led to the 600 subscriptions that we needed.
Corporations are issuing less debt and are focused on cost cutting in response to deflationary pressures:
Prices on consumer commodities excluding food and energy fell by 1.3 percent year over year in July, the biggest drop since the Labor Department began keeping those records in 1958, Lonski said. Consumer commodities are traded goods that compete with imports and are separate from the more widely watched core consumer price index, a gauge of prices paid by U.S. consumers.
There are a number of wire service reports about growing Bush Administration impatience with UN Security Council negotiations over an Iraq inspections and war resolution. This first report says that Colin Powell is going to get tough with the French:
The United States is losing patience with slow progress on a United Nations resolution demanding Iraqi disarmament, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
This second report details concessions the US has offered which have not convinced any of the opposing 3 permanent Security Council members:
In a concession to France, the new U.S. draft will give more credence to reports from U.N. arms inspectors searching for weapons of mass destruction. But the United States still insists on one resolution and hopes its new language is vague enough for most countries to support, the diplomats said.
The Bush administration also has shown willingness to drop provisions in its draft that would allow key council members to join U.N. inspections and have troops open any routes that may be barred to the arms experts.
My personal preference for an outcome would be for the US to put forth a strong resolution, have one or more of France, China, or Russia veto it, and then for the US to just go ahead and invade Iraq. That way the UN gets relegated to a deserved irrelevance and the US is in no way constrained by the wording of a compromise resolution or by ineffectual inspection teams. The only problem with that scenario is that it will put Tony Blair in a difficult situation. Whether the UK would participate in a US attack on Iraq without a UN Security Council resolution is not at all clear.
Update: Once again, it is all about the Benjamins. This NY Times (free reigistration required) article has Russia and French wanting to be assured that they will continue to have business deals for the development of Iraqi oil fields after the war is over:
Many experts say France's potential economic interests in a future Iraq are a factor in its wanting eventually to be on the side of Washington if Mr. Hussein is overthrown. Russia also has strong oil interests in Iraq.
Some former Clinton Administration officials have cited North Korea as an example for how engagement with a hostile regime can lead to deals that prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Well, the showcase of their approach for controlling WMD proliferation is developing nuclear weapons:
North Korea has broken pledges made to the Clinton administration to give up its nuclear weapons program and has signaled it no longer will abide by the 1994 anti-nuclear accord, the Bush administration said last night.
And from another report:
At first the North Koreans balked but eventually "they acknowledged they had a secret nuclear weapons programme involving enriched uranium", one official said. "By acknowledging that, the agreed framework was essentially nullified," he said.
It should have been obvious to anyone who doesn't live in fantasy land that the North Korean regime was never going to honor its agreement to not develop nuclear weapons. The two big questions are:
Update: Jonah Goldberg provides the text of the original NY Times editorial praising the Clinton Administration's deal with North Korea to prevent the nuclear proliferation that is happening anyhow. See here and here for the editorial in two parts. Clinton Administration officials who thought this was a great agreement are now claiming that a war against Saddam Hussein's regime is unnecessary. I say we should discount the judgement of people who have track records of folly.
Vinocur describes two recent books on French views of America written by Jean-Francois Revel and Philippe Roger. The French resentment goes back a long way:
Scholars of the French Enlightenment considered American plant and animal life degenerate, inferior to that in Europe. Children born in the New World were incapable of prolonged thought. Venereal disease had its home there. At the same time as the creation of the United States, and while a part of fashionable Paris was titillated by the Yankee insurgents, Roger writes, by 1778 in France a "a globally negative image of America was anchored in the literate public."
That French disdain for the US translates into real world consequences - at least if you consider events in the UN Security Council as consequential:
UNITED NATIONS, New York The impasse between the United States and France over military action in Iraq has deepened in recent days after an effort to reach a compromise stalled, with the French insisting that the Americans must come back to the UN Security Council before they can use force, according to diplomats.
Update: Also see the Walter Russell Mead review of the same two books L'obsession anti-americaine: Son fonctionnement, ses causes, ses inconsequences by Jean-Francois Revel. and L'ennemi americain: Genealogie de l'antiamericanisme francais by Philippe Roger in his Foreign Affairs March/April 2003 article Why Do They Hate Us?: Two Books Take Aim at French Anti-Americanism.
On the one hand, anti-Americanism is, as both Revel and Roger convincingly argue, a self-referential Franco-French phenomenon largely untroubled by larger questions of fact. On the other hand, the rise and persistence of this discourse reflects actual historical trends. Anti-Americanism developed and persisted in France because the United States thwarted, threatened, and diminished that country. Anti-Gallicism in the United States has had a fitful and shadowy life because France has only rarely risen to more than a nuisance in American eyes. In the realms of power politics, economics, and culture, French anti-Americanism is the psychological footprint of a conflict -- a conflict all the more irksome to the loser simply because the winner never seems to have paid it much attention.
Unfortunately the books are not available in English. But the Mead review in particular gives a good sense of their arguments. Unfortunately, those arguments make it clear that the US can't really do much at all about the anti-American sentiments of the French. They want to be bigger players in world affairs. By being so much more powerful than them we effectively limit their potential to be world players. What they object to are things about us that we are not going to want to change.
Clive James argues that the fundamentalists are not motivated by an accurate knowledge of the history of conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims but rather by the goals of their own faith:
But surely the reverse is true: they are students of the opposite of history, which is theocratic fanaticism. Especially, they are dedicated to knowing as little as possible about the history of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. A typical terrorist expert on the subject believes that Hitler had the right idea, that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a true story, and that the obliteration of the state of Israel is a religious requirement. In furthering that end, the sufferings of the Palestinians are instrumental, and thus better exacerbated than diminished. To the extent that they are concerned with the matter at all, the terrorists epitomise the extremist pressure that had been so sadly effective in ensuring the continued efforts of the Arab states to persuade the Palestinians against accepting any settlement, no matter how good, that recognises Israel's right to exist. But one is free to doubt by now - forced to doubt by now - that Palestine is the main concern.
Nathan Lewis, an economist at Polyconomics, has written an article in the Financial Times of London arguing that the root problem in the Japanese economy is deflation:
There is no solution to the bad-debt problem without a solution to Japan's basic economic problems: monetary deflation, economic contraction and falling asset values. Monetary deflation is caused wholly by the Bank of Japan, which has allowed the yen to rise steadily in value since 1985. The bank should increase the monetary base with the stated goal of lowering the yen's value to a point where it is neither deflationary nor inflationary. A 10 per cent fall in the yen's value would be an appropriate start. If the BoJ depressed the yen excessively, it would create inflation, which could be avoided by contracting the money supply. In spite of arguments to the contrary, the BoJ has complete control over the money supply and, by extension, the value of the yen.
This argument makes sense for a reason previously discussed here: Even the foreign banks in Japan that are not encumbered by debt are decreasing their lending in Japan. If the problem was the inability of financially strapped banks to provide more credit then one would expect the foreign banks to expand their operations to fill in part of the void. Instead, the deflation causes more and more companies to get into financial trouble and no matter how many bad debts the banks clear from their books other existing debts turn bad as more companies can't handle falling prices.
I think it is very sad that the UK is getting swallowed up by a rather less free European Union. The latest evidence on the threat to freedom posed by the EU can be found on Iain Murray's blog where he discusses how proposed changes in the EU law and constitution will lead to the end of Habeas Corpus in the UK.
Its pretty simple as I see it: If the US goes along with the French proposal for two resolutions where only the second resolution authorizes force then the French, Chinese or Russians will veto the second resolution:
The problem, a diplomat said, is one of trust. The French do not believe assurances that the Americans will not jump the gun with an invasion if attack authorization is included in the same resolution as new inspections. The Americans, this official and others said, believe the French are simply looking for a way to slow down, and even stop, the logical result of Iraqi noncooperation.
If the US goes along with the proposal that the head of the UNMOVIC inspection team gets to decide when Iraq is not complying with the inspection terms then Hans Blix will probably find reasons to keep delaying the point of making that decision.
Sebastian Mallaby, in a Washington Post essay entitled "War, Then It Gets Hard" discusses a new report from The Washington Institute For Near Eastern Policy about the difficulties post-war Iraq political reconstruction:
Moreover, the destruction of civil society under Hussein has left few viable institutions other than the army. That doesn't augur well for the democracy that Bush promises.
A future Iraqi government, what's more, is likely to be dangerous as well as military-autocratic. It is likely to be anti-American, because American-backed sanctions are blamed (albeit unfairly) for reducing a once prosperous society to misery, and because Iraq's leaders traditionally have sought to quell ethnic tensions at home by espousing radical Arab nationalism. A future Iraqi government is almost bound to want nuclear weapons, because Iran is building them.
The report is entitled How To Build A New Iraq After Saddam edited by Patrick Clawson. This report argues that the US should fight the war in a way that creates better conditions for political reconstruction. You can read the whole introduction that I've excerpted here:
Although achieving battlefield success against the Iraqi military would not be easy, ensuring a stable and friendly post-Saddam Iraq would pose even greater challenges. Therefore, this more difficult task should guide the formation of military strategy. A strategy that ensured victory over the Iraqi military would be of little value if it prevented the United States and its allies from achieving their larger goal-stability and responsible leadership for Iraq. Military planners should therefore devote special attention to the potential influence that their operations could have on a post-Saddam Iraq.
As discussed in the previous section, a strategy that targeted the RG and SRG while bypassing the regular army could prove to be of enormous value, despite its risks. An even more ambitious strategy, however, would be to give Iraqis themselves as much credit as possible for the defeat of Saddam's forces, allowing them to feel greatly responsible for his overthrow-in other words, a strategy of liberation rather than occupation. The more pride that Iraqis felt about removing Saddam, the more likely they would be to identify with the government that replaced him. Such a government would have much stronger nationalist credentials than a government imposed by outsiders. For example, consider the role played by French Resistance forces during the Nazi occupation of their country. Although they had little military impact on the eventual liberation of France, their postwar sociopolitical impact was considerable.
A liberation strategy would in part be a matter of presentation, that is, of assigning credit to whatever Iraqi forces participated in the fight against Saddam, even if their role were actually marginal. Such a strategy suggests that the U.S. military role on the ground should be kept as small and discreet as possible, with significant attention devoted to encouraging the defection of Iraqi army units.
Update: For all posts on the problem of reconstruction and reformation of conquered countries see the Parapundit Reconstruction and Reformation archives.
Even if military cost of the war went as high as $100 billion that is still less than 1 percent of GDP. Compared to US historical standards for military spending that is not much. The greatest threat would appear to come from either political upset in other countries (eg say revolution in Saudi Arabia) or if Saddam could somehow manage to damage oil fields in Saudi Arabia and other gulf oil producers before he goes down. Iraq's own oil production is already so low that its temporary loss would make little difference:
If Iraq's oil exports "are lost, it wouldn't be a big factor," says John Lichtblau of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation. Iraq is now exporting about 700,000 barrels a day out of total world demand of almost 77 million barrels daily. The Saudis could offset any shortfall, he says. Moreover, the U.S. economy has become less energy-intensive and is less sensitive to higher prices.
As for the prospects of revolution in Iraq's neighbors: Can someone name the last successful popular revolution in an Arab country? Iran is not an Arab country and so you have look further back. Domestic uprisings leading to revolution in Arab countries are unlikely. The Arab regimes are very effective at controlling dissent. Terrorist attacks against oil fields seem a more plausible threat. But it isn't clear that a US attack on Iraq would increase the probability of that happening.
In an essay about French-American military cooperation in West Africa James Hoagland makes the case for the constructive uses of war:
It is not surprising that this moral monster does not want to be done unto as he has done to others. He knows the consequences of violence firsthand. But it is surprising that he has found diplomats, politicians, moralists and others in the West to make the case for him that the use of force can only bring greater disaster and suffering to Iraq and the world. They seem to reject out of hand the possibility that the intelligent use of military force to stop a mass murderer can create positive gains for the world.
History says otherwise, from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy to Taliban Afghanistan. Capitalism is frequently described as creative destruction. Peace could equally be said to be a set of values and a condition of security that emerge from measured and just wars. Stability is won at least as often by such campaigns as by diplomatic compromise and evasion.
Robert Kagan argues that the distance between the major two camps in the US debate about whether to seek UN support is not as wide as it is often believed to be. Even the supposed multilateralists in the US foreign policy establishment don't really want the US to treat the UN as an institution that holds a veto on US actions. The debate is more about style:
In fact, despite what many believe, there really isn't a debate between multilateralists and unilateralists in the United States today. Just as there are few principled multilateralists, there are few genuine unilateralists. Few inside or outside the Bush administration truly consider it preferable for the United States to go it alone in the world. Most would rather have allies. They just don't want the United States prevented from acting alone if the allies refuse to come along.
So the real debate in the United States is about style and tactics. Some of the administration's critics, such as Holbrooke and Joseph Nye, say the United States should build goodwill by working hard for Security Council support. When that fails, the United States can go ahead and do what it wants, but the good-faith effort to accommodate allied concerns will have won the United States Brownie points. Some Bush administration strategists believe, on the contrary, that the best way to bring the allies along is by making clear that the United States will go it alone if necessary. They figure that key allies such as Britain and France won't want to be left behind, looking helpless and irrelevant.
I would add that among those claiming an abolute need for UN approval many are really doing so as a cover or their general opposition to a war against Iraq. They don't believe their own rhetoric. They are just reaching for any debating point that sounds like it might be useful.
When I first saw mention that the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) of a patent granted for swinging on a swing sideways I figured the people writing about it must be exaggerating and that the USPTO couldn't be that bad. Well, it really is that bad:
The standard method of swinging on a swing is defined by oscillatory motion of the swing and the user along an axis that is substantially perpendicular to the axis of the tree branch from which the swing is suspended. This "forward and back" movement has been known for generations, and is illustrated in FIG. 1. In contrast to the conventional method of swinging, the present inventor has discovered that much greater satisfaction can be obtained by alternately pulling on one chain to move the swing and the user toward that side, and then pulling on the other chain to move the swing and the user toward that side. This side-to-side oscillatory motion of the swing and the user is thus along an axis that is substantially parallel to the axis of the tree branch from which the swing is suspended, and is illustrated in FIG. 2. This side to side swinging method has the added benefit that it can be continued for long periods of time simply by alternately pulling on one chain and then the other. The importance of sufficient clearance between the swing and any obstructions or threats to the user's safety is apparent.
On the bright side, USPTO chief James Rogan says the USPTO has drastically cut back on the acceptance rate of business process patent applications:
"We were granting 65 or 70 percent of these things," patent office chief James Rogan said at an event at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "Now the rejection rate is around 65 or 70 percent."
Rogan, who took the job last December, said he's trying to revamp a massive bureaucracy of about 3,400 examiners who review 350,000 to 375,000 patent applications each year and have a backlog of about 430,000 patents. "We want to move away from the status quo," he said. "It is hurting technology. It is hurting our economy."
The number of patents and examiners works out to over 100 patents per examiner per year. That works out to about one patent every two days (not sure how many real work days an examiner works after subtracting sick days, vacation days, training days, administrative meetings, and other factors). Some patents properly require days, weeks, or even months of research on prior art and also can require extensive research on the processes involved to be able to judge their obviousness and uniqueness. One can hardly expect such a system to work well.
You may be relieved to learn that IBM has relinquished rights to a patent for making reservations for airplane restrooms:
The present invention is an apparatus, system, and method for providing reservations for restroom use. In one embodiment, a passenger on an airplane may submit a reservation request to the system for restroom use. The reservation system determines when the request can be accommodated and notifies the passenger when a restroom becomes available. The system improves airline safety by minimizing the time passengers spent standing while an airplane is in flight.
This next article, after reporting that IBM has relinquished its restroom reservation patent, describes an improvement made in the USPTO patent examination process:
The office now generally publishes patent applications 18 months after they are filed. By publishing applications before they are granted patents, the office has opened up the process, allowing people to submit documentation that challenges claims made by a patent applicant.
I think opening up pending applications to outside review is an absolutely necessary and wise step. There is just no way the small USPTO staff has time to spend enough time examining each patent. With a more open process the engineers and scientists employed by competitors, academic researchers, and interested members of the public can look at patent applications and provide valuable feedback.
The absolutely staggering thing about the five Japanese who were abducted by the North Korean government is that they are not allowed to stay in Japan now that they have been allowed to return. Their kids are being used as hostages. If they don't return will their kids be tortured or starved or killed outright? Will the Japanese government force them to return if they don't want to? When will all the usual suspects on the Left speak out about the monstrousness of the North Korean regime's continued behavior in this matter?
The five -- who were not allowed to bring their children with them and who are expected to return to North Korea in about 10 days -- all wore North Korean flag pins in their lapels and spoke only a few carefully chosen words.
I recall the outrage from the Left in America and from assorted condescending European intellectuals when George W. Bush labelled North Korea as part of an Axis of Evil. His statement was supposedly simplistic. Well, sometimes the true is really simple. Sometimes the truth stares us in the face. North Korea has been holding kidnapped foreign nationals for decades, has finally admitted to it (though its probably lying about how many were kidnapped and perhaps about how many are stiill alove) and yet the North Korean regime still isn't just letting the poor victims go. These victims are still diplomatic pawns being used to try to extort aid from Japan. The fact that the North Korean regime is holding the children of these Japanese kidnap victims to force them to return back into the hellhole that is North Korea is all the proof I need that North Korea's regime is evil. How about you?
Former CIA agent Reuel Marc Gerecht argues that an invasion of Iraq will actually increase cooperation from Middle Eastern intelligence services:
A war against Iraq will reinforce, not weaken, whatever collective spirit has developed among intelligence and security agencies working against Islamic radicals. Indeed, without the war to remove Saddam, it is likely that the counterterrorist efforts of "allied" intelligence and security services in the Muslim world will diminish, if not end entirely. And it shouldn't be that hard to understand why. Self-interest and fear of American power, not feelings of fraternity and common purpose, are what will glue together any lasting international effort against terrorism.
An invasion of Iraq will not lessen efforts by European intelligence services to reign in terrorists:
An Anglo-American invasion of Iraq would in no way diminish the self-defensive reflex that propelled all of the Continental Europeans to monitor their Muslim populations more closely and seek maximum cooperation from American intelligence and security agencies. European public opinion may fear the war in Iraq, European elites may loathe the moralizing, over-muscled, "unilateral" American approach to foreign policy, but European statesmen and policemen, first and foremost, want to protect their own. They know there is no neutral option in this war against terrorism; they can't make a behind-the-scenes deal with holy warriors, as some Europeans made pacts in the past with more secular Middle Eastern terrorists.
This article is full of insights into the real (as opposed to publically professed) motives of European and Middle Eastern regimes and their intelligence services.
Ron Rosenbaum has written an essay in The New York Observer entitled Goodbye, All That: How Left Idiocies Drove Me to Flee:
Here’s the analogy: Heidegger’s peculiar neutrality-slash-denial about Nazism and the Holocaust after the facts had come out, and the contemporary Left’s curious neutrality-slash-denial after the facts had come out about Marxist genocides—in Russia, in China, in Cambodia, after 20 million, 50 million, who knows how many millions had been slaughtered. Not all of the Left; many were honorable opponents. But for many others, it just hasn’t registered, it just hasn’t been incorporated into their "analysis" of history and human nature; it just hasn’t been factored in. America is still the one and only evil empire. The silence of the Left, or the exclusive focus of the Left, on America’s alleged crimes over the past half-century, the disdainful sneering at America’s deplorable "Cold War mentality"—none of this has to be reassessed in light of the evidence of genocides that surpassed Hitler’s, all in the name of a Marxist ideology. An ideology that doesn’t need to be reassessed. As if it was maybe just an accident that Marxist-Leninist regimes turned totalitarian and genocidal. No connection there. The judgment that McCarthyism was the chief crime of the Cold War era doesn’t need a bit of a rethink, even when put up against the mass murder of dissidents by Marxist states.
Most of the modern left has turned away from empirical evidence and from reason because when faced with a choice between giving up their wrong beliefs or turning away from the evidence they decided that the rejection of relevant evidence was less emotionally painful. Its too humbling and humiliating to admit that one spent much of one's life fighting for the wrong side. Few people can do that once they get into middle age because they have too much invested in their beliefs.
See the whole article for details of how Al Qaeda view American troops in Afghanistan:
Al Qaeda who had fought the Russians also discovered that shooting officers first doesn't stop American troops. Russian units are very dependent on their officers for combat leadership, as Russia has not had decent NCOs for nearly a century. Al Qaeda now tend to regard all American combat troops as they did the Russian Spetsnaz commandos.
Glenn Reynolds has linked to a story in The Economist reporting on an IBM study on high and low trust societies and internet adoption:
The degree of trust in a society, as measured by the percentage of respondents who answered “yes” to the first part of the question above, explains almost two-thirds of national differences in the percentage of households that have Internet access. Even when controlled for other variables, such as the number of computers, trust remains an important factor.
I went digging back through the IBM site (with some help from Google) and found what appears to be the original paper, Authored by Claudia Keser, Jonathan Leland, and Jason Shachat of IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center and Hai Huang of Duke University, it examines whether trust increases the speed of internet adoption and therefore whether the internet increases even further the opportunity costs of having a low cost society. The short answer is Yes:
Almost all transactions involve some opportunities for misrepresentation, non-compliance, or outright fraud. Detailed contracts, extensive monitoring of performance, and litigation are means of discouraging such behaviors, but they are all costly to implement. Mutual trust is an efficient substitute for these enforcement mechanisms, and empirically it appears to serve this purpose. Knack and Keefer (1997), for example, found that a very simple measure of how trusting inhabitants of different countries are is a significant explanatory variable in regressions of average annual growth rates in per capita income from 1980 to 1992. Moreover, the impact is large – a 10% increase in the measure of trust translates into a .8% increase in economic growth – a sizable increment given world average growth rates of 1% to 3% in the latter half of the 20th century.
Taken together these observations have a potentially troubling implication for low trust countries, the majority of which tend to be of low and middle income; namely, that in the coming years they will take a double-hit in terms of economic growth – penalized for low trust first in terms of higher transactions costs and then again through lower adoption of growth enhancing technology. Knack and Keefer’s (1998) findings suggest the first hit will surely come to pass. Whether the second does as well depends upon whether trust impacts Internet adoption. Our first objective in this paper is to test whether the proposition that trust is an important determinant of Internet adoption is, in fact, true. To presage our findings, it is.
In the Sunday Telegraph (requires free registration) Mark Steyn sets great historical British politicians to task of trying help the current Tories. Some of its kinda obscure if you don't follow UK politics closely. But its still weird whether you understand it or not:
There was a huge snort from across the room and Sir Winston hurled his cigar at Harold. "What d'you think of this? 'I have nothing to offer but smack, crack, E and selected solvents, available at our souvenir stand, open throughout the conference.' Best I can do at short notice, I'm afraid."
Theresa stuck her head around the door. "Who ordered a G&T?"
"I did," roared Winston. "About bloody time, too." He seemed a little startled as the Gay & Transgendered research assistant came in, told him to put out the cigar and began crossing out large chunks of the speech.
My Canadian friend Dave Ings has alerted me to a couple of Globe And Mail articles about the reasons the Canadian economy is lagging the American one. The first is by Anne Golden, president and chief executive officer of the Conference Board of Canada.
This per capita income gap between our country and the United States -- due largely to our lower productivity -- is on its way to doubling within this decade. And this means not only that individual Canadian incomes will suffer in comparison to American incomes -- but also that our ability to finance existing programs and launch new ones will suffer, too. Expanding public education and health care, addressing the pressing infrastructure needs in our cities, reversing environmental deterioration, or adding national elder care or day care or pharmacare are simply beyond our current financial capacity without significant increases in income per capita.
Note the emphasis here on government spending. If the economy doesn't grow the government can't get a bigger slice to spend. While this is certainly true it demonstrates the sort of emphasis on government as purveyor of so many goods and services and guarantees that caused the Canadian economy to lag in the first place. Later in the article Ms. Golden states something that has now become a widely accepted myth:
We will face labour shortages, especially for skilled workers. At present, about 94 per cent of all jobs in Canada require at least a high-school diploma.
Wrong. Can a high school drop-out drive a truck? Sure. Dig ditches, put roofs on houses, sewer work, or paint houses? Yes, of course. In construction, structure repair, and delivery work there is already more than 6% of an industrial economy's jobs. Then throw in low tech service work: washing dishes or working as a cook or waiting tables in a restaurant, delivering pizza, janitorial work, trash collection, and assorted other ways to clean up and wait on people. At that point we are well beyond the 6% figure for non-high school diploma work.
Why do experts associated with big bureaucracies trot out such inflated figures for the demands that economies have for training for credentials? Simple answer: credential requirements inflation. Bureaucratic organizations that do not want to make personal judgemets about individuals choose instead to up the credentials requirements for many kinds of jobs. This makes it easier to choose people. At the same time those who have credentials who support the rise in credential requirements do so in order to increase the market's demand for themselves and to make their own jobs more secure. Plus, the people who do the training and teaching for credentials (eg see any university's faculty for examples) like the fact that credentials requirements also increase the demand for them as trainers. Plus, there are plenty of occupations which are not in government where governments have created unnecessary credential requirements (eg for cutting hair) partly because they imagine that they are protecting the public and partly in response to organized pressures to restrict supply in order to drive up wages.
The next Globe And Mail article up for consideration by Jeffrey Simpson hits closer to the mark:
A complete consensus obviously did not emerge, but no one bettered the alternative to productivity improvement offered by CAE president Derek Burney: Canada as "North America's cottage country, a place whose physical beauty masks a slowly declining standard of living and quality of life among the locals."
The raw facts, as outlined by Andrew Sharpe of the Centre for the Study of Living Standards? Canada's per capita GDP is 84.7 per cent of the U.S. level. Personal income is 78.6 per cent. Personal disposable income (that is, after taxes) is 70.4 per cent. All of these gaps widened from 1980 until the last year or so.
What is curious here is that not only is a larger percentage of Canadian personal income paid in taxes but for some reason (anyone know why?) a smaller percentage of Canadian per capita GDP is paid out as personal income. But taxes are only part of the story. Canadian rules for hiring and firing and unemployment and welfare benefits make for a less efficient market for labor. So regulatory and welfare systems account for part of Canada's lag.
Dave, being an optimistic sort of guy, sees these articles as promising signs that the issue of productivity has finally arrived on the Canadian political scene as a serious issue. Canadian blogger Colby Cosh tells me in private email that he doesn't share this optimism:
I'm not optimistic that economic productivity is going to suddenly become an issue here after 20, 25 years. What's the reason for hope? If voters east of the Lakehead cared about the economy they'd already have sent Canadian Alliance MPs to Ottawa. If your friend feels optimistic, great. But a lot of us felt optimistic before the 2000 election, before the 1997 election, and before the 1993 election...
Another Canadian friend of mine Bob Badour thinks Canadians are too complacent about the conditions of their lives and he is similarly not optimistic.
Aside: Note in the Jeffrey Simpson article the use of EI as an acronym. That's Employment Insurance which is roughly equivalent to American unemployment insurance. Dave Ings tells me that Orwellian renaming resulted in its change from UI (Unemployment Insurance) to EI (Employment Insurance). Of course, by the original logic of calling it UI it makes more sense to say Death Insurance than Life Insurance. This also reminds me of the use of the term Death Tax as a term with more negative connotations to describe Inheritance Tax. There is also the highly visible fight over the pro-abortion/pro-choice vs anti-abortion/pro-life factions where terminology games are played in Orwellian fashion.
Richard Spertzel formerly was head of the UNSCOM bioweapons inspection team in Iraq. Spertzel believes the Iraqis are not only developing bioweapons but have also developed the ability to make their own equipment and growth media. So Iraqi regime can do a lot of development work on biological WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) without leaving a trail of international equipment purchases that provide evidence for their activities. Spertzel does not believe that inspections can succeed as long as Iraq continues to pursue WMD development:
Last week, Dr. Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector for UNMOVIC (the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission), met in Vienna with officials responsible for Iraq's chemical, biological, and missile programs. Allegedly coming from this meeting was an agreement for unfettered access to all sites except Saddam's palaces. Barely had the meeting ended when Iraq's foreign minister added, "Iraq, of course, has a right to its sovereignty and dignity" — a statement with which most might agree. It's also, however, the statement that in the past has most often been heard when a United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) team wanted to conduct an inspection to which Iraq was not amenable. To better understand this nuance, one needs to examine Iraq's attitude in recent years — an attitude that has changed for the worse.
For those who haven't read my previous posts on the subject of inspections:
Spertzel has previously stated that the UN Security Council undermined the previous inspection regime. Spertzel believes UNMOVIC doesn't have a chance. You can read Spertzel's rather more lengthy Congressional testimony about inspections and Iraqi WMD programs.
You can also read the UNSCOM inspector Charles Duelfer how dedicated the Iraqi leadership is to possession of WMD and on the Iraqi regime's pursuit of biological WMD that can be used without leaving evidence that can be traced back to Iraq.
Former UNSCOM inspector David Kay describes how the Iraqi regime treated the UNSCOM inspectors.
Brink Lindsey believes inspections regimes are doomed to fail.
The US Department of Defense has described how the Iraqi regime hides its weapons, how it resists inspections, and how much it lies about what it does.
Saddam's regime is buying WMD technology from Belarus and Ukraine.
As compared to previous generations Gen X came out of college with more debts and they are not accumulating assets as rapidly:
Gen X "has done worse than their parents have done according to a number of dimensions, like net worth and home ownership," says Edward Wolff, a New York University economist who studies trends in income and wealth. In a recent paper Wolff notes that young households lay claim to a smaller percentage of total U.S. wealth than they did in 1989.
Additionally, the inflation-adjusted median net worth of a Gen X household ($9,000) is lower than that of a comparable household in 1989, according to the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances.
This article was originally in the Moscow Times in June 2002. It lays in some detail just how much the Russian government's position on war against Saddam Hussein's regime is dependent on what is in it for Russia. As I've already posted here and here, oil prices, oil field development contracts, and Iraqi debts to Russia are major Russian concerns. My guess is that Bush will offer the Russians many of the things they want in exchange for Russia's dropping all opposition to an attack on Saddam's regime:
Chief among Russia's needs, he said, are U.S. assistance in isolating Chechen rebels in the international arena and the lifting of an informal ban on sales of Russian weapons to NATO member states.
Other analysts named debt relief and entry into the World Trade Organization as priorities.
For the Kremlin to get what it wants, its best bet is to provide passive support for the U.S.-led coalition to counter terrorism, said Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of the Politika think tank.
In response to a previous post I made on the subject of Canadian living standards versus the USA the Canadian blogger Colby Cosh has chipped in with his thoughts. This is obviously a subject he has thought a lot about and he has a previous article from August 2002 which is a pretty vigorous rant on the subject. That article links to an excellent graph that provides a good summary at a glance of how Canada's per capita income is doing versus America's. The short answer: the USA-Canada living standard gap is not closing and may even continue to widen. Well bummer Canadian dudes.
Colby comes across as fairly pessimistic (and not a little bit frustrated) about the prospects of Canada's political and opinion-making elites becoming willing to admit to the causes of this poor economic performance let alone deciding to make the necessary policy changes (ie the standard reductions in regulatory, economic engineering, social engineering, and tax burdens that all good capitalists advocate). Well, since I'm not a Clintonite I'm not going to say "I feel your pain". But I sympathize with your plight. Canada's economy ought to be able to grow more rapidly and Canada's living standard ought to be able to rise to a level that is closer to that of the USA. But a lot of watered down socialism is holding it back. The root of this problem exists in the minds of a Canadian populace to whom Al Gore would seem like a right-wing candidate. The solution has to begin with better publicity about the causes of the differences and the extent of the differences. Canadian bloggers need to rise to the challenge and publish a continuous stream of links to relevant information with cutting commentary.
Taheri, an Iranian writer based in Paris, is as always full of insights. Saddam's treatment of the Kurds is part of a larger pattern in which he has been trying to Arabize the entire Iraqi population to make it more capable of supporting his ambition to rule the entire Arab world:
Saddam, however, does not tolerate hyphenated identities. Under him no one can be Kurdish-Iraqi or Izadi-Iraqi. You have to be Arab, period. His problem was how to “Arabize” Iraq. In 1970, Saddam opened the Ottoman archives in which Iraqis were classified as either “Ottoman” or “Persian” subjects. He prepared a policy of mass expulsion against the “Persians” regardless of the fact that many prominent Iraqis, including Rashid Ali-Gilani, the father of Iraqi nationalism, and Al-Jawaheri, the greatest Arabic poet of the 20th century, had been classified as “Persian subjects” during the Ottoman rule.
The mass expulsion of the “Persians” was implemented from 1972. By 1980 nearly a million had been driven out. Needless to say, the overwhelming majority of those expelled had been born and raised in Iraq, regarded themselves as Iraqis, and spoke Arabic as mother tongue. To replace them, Saddam decided to “import” a million “authentic Arabs”, especially from Egypt. Very soon, however, he decided that the imported Egyptians, far from being ideal Arabs, were “lazy layabouts” who cared little about his dreams of empire and conquest.
British intelligence has tracked numerous purchases (and attempted purchases) of equipment needed for a centrifugal uranium enrichment system. Based on the number of items purchased, the Iraqi program far exceeds the Manhattan project and is trying to build the capability to produce a number of nuclear weapons in a short time. Such purchases include vacuum pumps, magnets of special types, quantities of fluorine gas, and very specialized machines for winding and balancing electrical filaments.
The Economist joins the chorus of concern over the risk of inflation:
As measured by the GDP deflator, the best economy-wide gauge, America's inflation rate has fallen to 1.1%, its lowest for 40 years. Its consumer-price index has risen by 1.8% over the past 12 months, but prices have fallen in half of its 16 main product categories—the biggest proportion since the current series started.
Note that this article cites Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley on the declining rate of inflation in services. My guess is that The Economist writer is referring to the Stephen Roach article I link to here.
David Pryce-Jones has an essay in The New Criterion entitled Albert Speer: the good Nazi? in which he writes about his own meeting with Speer in 1974 as well as the writings of various authors on Speer. He brings up a fairly new book by Joachim Fest Speer: The Final Verdict (note: I think Amazon has left off the "The Final Verdict" part of the title). Here is an excerpt of Pryce-Jones on the Fest book:
Joachim Fest is the author of one of the most authoritative biographies of Hitler, and in this judicious, comprehensive, and well-written (and well translated) new book he now has the last word on Speer. He gives credit to the idea that Hitler and Speer saw in one another the fulfillment of their most profound aspirations. “I’ll sign anything that comes from you,” Hitler said to Speer, which, as Fest observes, was a carte blanche he gave to nobody else. They were two of a kind in their lack of ordinary human responses. So distant was Speer that his wife could bitterly remark that she intended to telephone him announcing that Frau Speer wished to speak to Herr Speer. He could not break through emotionally to his children. In Fest’s words, he was a man of many abilities, but no qualities.
This is no normal business cycle, but the bursting of the biggest bubble in America's history. Never before have shares become so overvalued (see chart 1). Never before have so many people owned shares. And never before has every part of the economy invested (indeed, overinvested) in a new technology with such gusto. All this makes it likely that the hangover from the binge will last longer and be more widespread than is generally expected.
Can the economy recover from such a large capital overspending and asset price bubble with just a mild to moderate recession? Seems to me that consumers need to enter an extended period of spending less. They can't drive their debt up to higher levels. When they fully internalize the prospects for slower stock market rises and the consequent need to save more for retirement they are going to want to spend less, save more, and reduce debt. Just as the consumer debt run-up helped fuel the boom the consumer debt run down will lengthen the bust.
Yes, stock market prices have fallen far. But when we look at prices in terms of yields and price/earnings ration then no, they haven't fallen all that far as compared to previous historic lows:
And valuations were much more depressed at the bottom of the 1974 market than they are today. Back then, the Dow yielded 6.1 per cent and traded on a price-earnings ratio of 6.2; now the Dow yields just 2.4 per cent and the S&P 500 trades on an historic p/e of 31, according to Datastream.
This strikes me as an indication of just how loony the prices were at their peak.
Of course some people are upset by this:
The federal government is broadcasting Britney Spears and foul-mouthed rapper Eminem to ultratraditional Arab countries. Critics believe this is giving the U.S. a black eye in a part of the world that already believes Western culture is degenerate.
"We are becoming a caricature of ourselves,” says veteran Reagan administration official Faith Whittlesey.
This is an unhealthy development:
But on the very first day of his mandate, Supachai announced that the WTO would work more closely with agencies like the UN Development Program (UNDP), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and especially the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
With respect to reaching a "real understanding" of the issues of interest to developing nations in various trade-related areas, Supachai said that it was UNCTAD that could fill the gap that the WTO would not be able to fill in the short term.
Obviously, Russia is keen to safeguard its economic interests. Russia is Iraq's largest supplier in the UN oil-for-food program. Of the $18.3 billion in oil-for-food contracts approved by the Security Council since the program began in late 1996, some $4.2 billion has gone to Russia.
Iraq possesses the world’s second-largest proven oil reserves, currently estimated at 112.5 billion barrels, or 11 percent of the world's total. It is seen as the ultimate bounty by Russia's oil firms. Baghdad offered Russian oil companies billions of dollars in concessions during the 1990s as it sought to build support in the United Nations.
Its all about the Benjamins. The other news in this article is that France will not veto the US-UK Security Council resolution:
The price of oil, currently at $29 a barrel, is widely expected to fall if Washington launches a successful war on Iraq. Mr Yastrzhembsky said Russia could cope with a fall in price to $18 a barrel but not any lower.
Moscow said it will also be looking for guarantees that Russian companies would be able to keep valuable oilfields in western Iraq if Saddam is deposed.
(found on Instapundit)
But this link suggests the US is backing down from the single resolution position:
In a telephone conversation last weekend, Colin Powell, US secretary of state, told Dominique de Villepin, French foreign minister, Washington would consider dropping its demand for automatic UN authorisation for the use of military force if Iraq did not comply with the newest demands.
However, it wanted to maintain strong language that made clear Iraq faced consequences if it did not comply with the UN.
German Marxist journalist and human rights activist Thomas von der Osten-Sacken is interviewed about the Middle East. Note that he has done social work in Iraq and has first hand experience with Saddam's regime:
"The most regressive and dangerous elements in the Arab and Islamic world depend on Saddam Hussein. Really toppling Saddam Hussein means uprooting the Ba'ath regime, with the help of the Iraqi people. This would give the final blow to pan-Arabism in the Middle East. Syria and a lot of very radical factions in Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and the Gulf states would be affected. These factions look up to Saddam Hussein as a pan-Arabist, anti-imperialist hero - although he is anti-imperialist in the tradition of the Nazis, not the left. Also, Saddam is financing organizations like the Arab Liberation Front in Palestine, which is a Ba'ath organization. He is paying the families of suicide attackers. He is directly and indirectly responsible for a lot of terrorism in the Middle East."
This article in the Far Eastern Economic Review gives the impression that China's huge pool of untapped cheap labor will allow exports to just keep rising:
Inside the squat white-panelled factories of Chint Group, women in blue smocks fasten wires to plastic switches moving along an assembly line. Their work is fast and cheap, with each employee earning just $150 a month on average. Last year the company's exports rose 28% to $35.8 million. Chint executives hope to maintain this export clip by targeting new markets, such as the U.S. and Europe.
Beijing gave Chint and others a boost recently by allowing them to bypass state-designated middlemen, driving down their export costs. Another WTO bonus is falling import tariffs, which mean these companies can now buy foreign manufacturing equipment at much reduced prices, making the final product they export even cheaper. These simple changes have had a profound impact: private Chinese companies raised exports by nearly 50% in the first half of this year.
I think its pretty pathetic that a country's chattering class would actually take a UN report about child spanking seriously:
There was a revealing little glimpse of the country's ever-feebler attachment to democracy when the United Nations issued a report criticizing England and Wales for permitting parents to physically chastise their children. (In Scotland, which has a different legal system, spanking is already illegal.) Instead of telling the U.N. busybody to go have relations with a flying Lifesaver, as the spokesman of a confident and psychologically healthy nation would, the British minister charged with responding to this sinister little impertinence merely whimpered that the government was doing its best, that more certainly needed to be done, that progress was being made... It is easy, and pleasant, to imagine how Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher would have reacted. But there are no Churchills or Thatchers in Britain today, and any such person who showed up would never be permitted to rise in any current political party.
Miss America 2003, Erika Harold, announced in Illinois yesterday that she has won her battle with pageant officials over the right to talk about teen sexual chastity.
Was Julius Robert Oppenheimer a Soviet spy? A forthcoming book by Jerrold Schecter and Leona Schecter, Sacred Secrets: How Soviet Intelligence Operations Changed America provides newly discovered documents that suggest this is the case. Here is a discussion of the existing evidence what this new book adds as evidence:
It is in this atmosphere of denunciation and counteraccusation that the Schecters have turned up another smoking gun, and reproduced it in Sacred Secrets: How Soviet Intelligence Operations Changed American History. This time it is a five-paragraph memo from Merkulov to Lavrenti Beria, dated Oct. 2, 1944, on "the state of work on the problem of uranium and its development abroad using the contacts of Comrade Zarubin and Kheiffets." It confirmed that in 1942 Oppenheimer, as an unlisted member of the Communist Party, "informed us about the beginning of work" on a U.S. atomic bomb and then "he provided cooperation in access to research for several of our tested sources, including a relative of Comrade Browder."
The memo concluded with the advice that "it is expedient to immediately sever contacts of leaders and activists of the American Communist Party with scientists and specialists engaged in work on uranium," giving three reasons: the dissolution of the Comintern, operational difficulties in the United States and the "explanations of Comrade Zarubin and Kheiffets on the Vasili Mironov affair."
The author of this article is also author of The Crown Jewels: The British Secrets at the Heart of the KGB Archives. Other related books include Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America and also The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America- -The Stalin Era.
The Washington Times headline is "Miss America told to zip it on chastity talk". Zip it? Okay, I don't get it. Does a chastity belt have a zipper? I always thought they came with some strong metal locking mechanism. Am I wrong to think that these pageant officials are making themselves look like fools?
Miss America 2003, Erika Harold, yesterday said pageant officials have ordered her not to talk publicly about sexual abstinence, a cause she has advocated to teenage girls in Illinois.
"Quite frankly, and I'm not going to be specific, there are pressures from some sides to not promote [abstinence]," the 22-year-old woman from Urbana, Ill., told The Washington Times.
Next up: Tell her she can't discourage single teen pregnancy, drug use, dropping out of high school, cigarette smoking, or prostitution (its a lifestyle choice after all). But why stop there? I say she should not advocate daily prayers, honesty, junk food avoidance, or brushing your teeth after every meal. After all, these are all value-laden choices and who is Miss America to be getting off telling anyone else about what values are important? Its not like she'e supposed to set any kind of example or try to encourage people to live better lives. She's just a tool of white male patriarchal oppression. But who manipulates the tool? The pageant officials? Okay, I'm confused now. If they are telling her what to do then are they the oppressors?
It is really very unfortunate for the Brits that they do not have the equivalent of the American 1st Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. My non-lawyer's guess is that the UK law against religious hatred would be unconstitutional under the US constitution.
Alistair Scott, a British engineer, was so enraged by the comments of his Muslim neighbor that he reacted as follows:
He said Scott was first spotted making rude gestures. "He shouted an abusive remark and said, 'Don't you speak English, don't you understand English. You are Muslims, what are you doing here?'.
"There was a conversation which became heated and he said, 'I hate you and I want you out of my country. I hate you especially after September 11.' "
The next day Scott followed Mr Hudaid. He told him he hated Arabs and Muslims before speaking about how much the United States had spent on security. He also made remarks about the witness's daughter and mother."
As Natalie Solent has pointed out what Alistair Scott was reacting to was some rather more hate-filled language from his Muslim opposite in these exchanges:
However, Mr Hudaib, a postgraduate student at Exeter University, acknowledged under cross-examination that he "could have said Osama Bin Laden was a great man and that all Americans deserved to die and are stupid".
Sean Brunton, defending, said: "However wrong Scott was and whatever he said or did, it pales by comparison to what Mr Hudaib said in his cross-examination.
"This defendant is not a racist. His crime is to have strong convictions and to have taken people to task in an inappropriate way at a very sensitive time."
Now of course there is a glaring double standard being applied here. That on its own is quite wrong. But it also points up one good reason why free speech protection should be so incredibly strong. There is a huge temptation for an unprincipled multicultie government to try to sacrifice speech rights in the cause of trying to placate a domestic constituency (in this case UK Muslims). Government prosecutors (and Canadian customs officials) can not be trusted with the power granted to them by hate speech laws. There is really no need for such laws in the first place.
UPDATE: Natalie Solent says the London Times is innocent of leaving out the information about what Mr Hudaib said. She says the Daily News Digest published a slanted version of the Times story.
Fascinating study out of Portugal finds a link between sexual activity and testosterone levels that is especially pronounced in men who are trying to make their mates pregnant:
All the men had different patterns of testosterone peaks and troughs over the period. But in men trying for a baby, peaks in testosterone levels coincided far more often with periods of intense sexual activity. Hirschenhauser says the finding shows men can subconsciously influence their hormone levels. "Males can be responsive to their partners, but only if they want to be," she says.
So which head is giving the orders to raise testosterone?
They say peaks in testosterone coincide more often with periods of intense sexual activity in would-be fathers.
Co-ordinating sex with peaks in testosterone levels makes sense for men wanting to be fathers, as it triggers sperm production, making conception more likely.
Its possible this is indicative of a male response to the scent or fluid secretion of hormones given off by a fertile female. Or the rise in hormones could be due to a subconscious cue that results in a signal being sent down into the endocrine system.
Morgan Stanley chief economist Stephen Roach believes services are now vulnerable to deflationary pressures:
Although deflationary pressures are building in a US-centric global economy, there is still a sense that the aggregate price level will stop short of outright contraction. Central to that belief is the long-standing dichotomy between goods and services. Unlike the tradable-goods sector, which is increasingly exposed to the tough competitive pressures of cross-border trade, the so-called non-tradable services sector has long been shielded from such pressures. That was then. The globalization of services changes all that, and points to the possibility of a new leg of deflation in the United States and the world at large.
This is such a tough call. Saudi Arabia has no freedom of religion. So should the US government list it as a country of particular concern? A few thousand dead people would probably say yes:
The United States is debating whether to include Saudi Arabia on a blacklist of "countries of particular concern" that restrict religious freedoms, and a decision may be affected by U.S. plans for military action against Iraq, U.S. officials tell United Press International.
"Freedom of religion does not exist in Saudi Arabia," said the 2002 Report on International Religious Freedom released Monday by the U.S. State Department.
Okay, I couldn't find the report on Google. But the URL for the 2001 report had 2001 in it and changing that to 2002 and loading that URL produced the 2002 report page on the US State Dept web site - giving me a happy satisfied techie moment. So do go click thru to the report. You can find this in the executive summary:
Saudi Arabia. Freedom of religion does not exist in Saudi Arabia. The Government requires all citizens to be Muslim and prohibits all public manifestations of non-Muslim religions. Islamic practice generally is limited to that of a school of the Sunni branch of Islam as interpreted by Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab, an 18th-century Arab religious reformer, and practices contrary to this interpretation are suppressed. Members of the Shi’a minority continued to face institutionalized political and economic discrimination, including restrictions on the practice of their faith, and many Shi’a sheikhs remained in detention.
The Government has stated publicly that it recognizes the right of non-Muslims to worship in private; however, the distinction between public and private worship is not defined clearly, in effect forcing most non-Muslims to worship in a manner such as to avoid discovery. Several Christians were detained for non-Muslim worship and almost always deported after sometimes lengthy periods of arrest, during which some received lashings. The Government refused to permit clergy members to enter the country to conduct non-Muslim religious services, placing groups such as Catholics and Orthodox Christians who must have a priest on a regular basis to practice their faith at a particular disadvantage. Customs officials confiscated or censored materials considered offensive, including Bibles and religious videotapes. In certain areas, both the Mutawwa’in (religious police) and religious vigilantes harassed, assaulted, and detained citizens and foreigners.
They have a Bribe Payers Index which measures the willingness of business representatives from various countries to pay bribes in less developed countries. Read the summary with a link to the full report. The 2002 summary has 15 countries ranked from best (Australia) to worst (Russia).
To measure domestic corruption within countries Transparency International has developed a Corruption Perceptions Index. A perfect 10 indicates enormous purity and virtue. A fallen 0 indicates you've sold your soul to the devil. You can read the 2002 summary with 102 countries ranked in a table here. Finland (9.7) has the least amount of corruption by their measure. It is followed by Denmark (9.5), New Zealand (9.5), Iceland (9.4), Singapore (9.3), and Sweden (9.3). Down at the bottom we find Indonesia (1.9), Kenya (1.9), Angola (1.7), Madagascar (1.7), Paraguay (1.7), Nigeria (1.6), and Bangladesh (1.2) is the worst.
Other countries of interest include UK (8.7), USA (7.7), Germany (7.3), Israel (7.3), Japan (7.1), France (6.3), Taiwan (5.6), Italy (5.2), Brazil (4.0), Turkey (4.0), China (3.5), and Russia (2.7). Looking at this chart it becomes clear that one problem the EU faces is that its expansion south and east is causing it to take in new members that are more corrupt than the EU average. It already appears from this table that the EU as a whole must have a lower index score than the USA. So corruption is a serious EU problem.
There are people saying that the Bush Administration hasn't made its case against Iraq. If you go read the full text of this briefing you'll see references to UNSCOM reports, articles, and books that describe what Saddam's regime has been up to. These are publically available documents whose release happened before the current President came to power. The case against Saddam already exists in the public record. One just has to be willing to read it. Here's part of the US DOD briefing:
Iraq's D&D strategy has three key objectives. The first objective, quite simply, is to blur the truth about Iraqi compliance with the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, the U.N. resolutions and this all in order to undermine the credibility of UNSCOM findings and the recommendations to the Security Council and erode support for continued inspections.
I can't emphasize sufficiently the importance of this first goal. Although some of their efforts seem crude to us, their D&D measures have prevented UNSCOM and Western intelligence from producing the kinds of smoking guns and smoking-gun photographs, for example, and other forms of juridical evidence demanded by those who are skeptical of Iraqi violations of U.N. resolutions and continued existence of illicit WMD programs.
Their second objective -- their second objective is to ensure that UNSCOM could not uncover the true full scope of Iraqis' (sic) WMD and missile programs, including number of personnel, facilities, equipment, documentation and weaponization efforts.
Finally and most importantly, the Iraqis have sought to prevent UNSCOM from achieving the complete disarmament of Iraq's chemical, biological nuclear and missile programs in accordance with the U.N. resolutions. As of 1998, when the inspectors left Iraq, the Iraqis had succeeded in achieving these three goals. This strategy -- their strategy still remains effective. The CIA report released on Friday reaffirmed that Baghdad is still hiding large portions of their WMD efforts. It also states that their vigorous concealment efforts have meant that specific information on many aspects of Iraqi's WMD programs is yet to be uncovered.
I'm going to walk you through these activities as we have categorized them one by one since Desert Storm. Many of these activities were directed specifically against the U.N. and the UNSCOM inspection regime, and some were and are directed against U.S. and Western intelligence; some, quite simply, are aimed at influencing world opinion. What I'm going to do is give you some historical examples and some very current examples for each of these categories.
Let's begin with a relatively simple D&D technique, that of concealment. This is an example of a suspected Iraqi biological warfare facility. Take a good look at the picture. One of the interesting features of this facility is its location. It's in a residential area. It's concealed inside a residential area. The buildings are nondescript in nature. The installation is nondescript in nature. Placing these kind of WMD facilities in residential areas is a practice method of concealment. There's a famous aphorism by the late Ameron Capps (sp), a specialist in arms control verification. He once said, quote, "We have never found anything that our enemies have successfully concealed," unquote. The issue for us today is how many undetected BW facilities of this type exist. As Tim Trevan, the former British UNSCOM inspector, noted, if there are undeclared and undetected and concealed WMD sites, by definition they can't be inspected or monitored. And the inspection regime cannot provide any level of assurance that a country is not conducting illicit activities.
Next slide, please.
A technique related to concealment is sanitization. And this is a very famous case. Sanitization is a system for hiding proscribed WMD material and sanitizing facilities beforehand. It relies on high mobility, good command and control. In many cases it employs trucks to move items at short notice, and most of the hide sites appear to be located near good road and telecommunications links. We know on several occasions UNSCOM and International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors detected Iraqi officials removing documents and material from buildings, and even burning documents to prevent them from being evaluated. Inspectors have routinely found high interest facilities cleaned out after their entry was delayed for several hours. In this 1991 incident, the Iraqis removed Calitrons (sp) from the reception area at Falujah as UCOM inspectors were arriving at the front of the facility. One inspector photographed these vehicles scurrying out the back gate while the inspectors were being delayed in the front.
Next slide, please.
Pretty blatant technique here: Fraudulent declarations to the U.N. U.N. Security Council resolution 687 and related resolutions 707, 715 and 1051 stipulate that Iraq must provide full, final and complete disclosure of all aspects of its nuclear, chemical, biological and long-range-missile weapons programs. Prior to 1998, Iraq made seven so-called full and final disclosures to the U.N. Iraq modified each full and final disclosure to the U.N. several times to accommodate data uncovered by inspectors, and then they provided new information and explanations only when confronted with direct evidence.
For example, Baghdad revised its nuclear declaration to the International Atomic Energy Agency four times within 14 months of its initial submission, in April 1991. Iraq formally submitted six different biological-warfare declarations, each of which UNSCOM rejected. Baghdad provided no hard evidence to support claims that it destroyed all of its biological-weapon agents and munitions in 1991. Richard Butler, the then-UNSCOM chairman, stated that Iraq's September 1997 BW declaration, quote, "failed to give a remotely credible account of Iraq's biological weapons programs." Fraudulent declarations.
Here's another classic case of how the Iraqis respond when their attempts at deception are exposed. This is called sacrificing certain elements of WMD programs. Baghdad has tried to generate a public impression of cooperation while working hard to conceal essential information on the scope and capabilities of its WMD programs.
One technique for achieving this objective is the sacrifice of compromised or obsolete WMD or missile program elements. For example, Iraq dramatically disclosed nearly 700,000 pages of WMD-related documents at a chicken farm following the 1995 defection of Hussein Kamil Hassan al-Majid. The president referred to this person last night. He headed the ministry of industry and military industrialization until 1990. Kamil was a key player in Iraq's effort to produce WMD.
Some sparse but significant information was often buried within a massive volume of extraneous data, all of which was intended, again, to create the appearance of candor and to overwhelm UNSCOM's analytical resources. Here's a good example. Iraq released detailed records of how many ball-point pens it ordered in the late 1980s, but at the same time, it did not provide records of how it procured biological precursors or supported claims that it destroyed its missile warheads capable of delivering BW and CW agents.
Next slide, please.
Cover stories. Cover stories. We've seen these quite frequently. These are two images of a BW facility at Abu Ghurayb (sp) bombed during Desert Storm. You're probably familiar with this story. Let me draw your attention to some of the unique features of this baby-milk plant. First of all, it's secured by a double chain-link fence, and there are guard posts covering the road access.
Please note the two dates on the images. First, September 1990; and then January 1991. Again, what's different about the two images? The baby-milk plant has been camouflaged. It's been given military camouflage covering. After the coalition struck this facility, Iraq claimed that it was an infant-formula factory; that is, a non-military target.
A Canadian friend (not sure if he wants to be mentioned by name) sent me a link about relative Canadian and US economic performance. I am curious to know whether Canada's economy is showing any signs of starting to close the gap in per capita GDP and productivity versus the US. One would expect NAFTA to allow Canada to achieve higher economies of scale and lower costs. This article paints a bleak picture:
In the financial services industry, for example, Mr. Nixon said the regulatory cost of $1,000 of service output is $10.83 in Canada, which is 154% more than in Britain and 58% more than in Australia. "From environmental approvals to securities regulation, Canadian business is subject to costly and lengthy regulatory processes that are seriously undermining our competitiveness," he said.
One cause of Canada's trailing economy is too many financial regulators:
Canada's securities industry is governed by a patchwork of 13 provincial and territorial securities commissions, all jealously guarding their turf. Because of that, it may be impossible to get agreement on a single regulator for the industry. Instead, Ottawa will settle for an agreement among the commissions to make their rules and regulations equal and to cut down on red tape.
The Western Canadians are not keen on major changes:
The federal government's plan to stick its big fat nose into securities and stock market regulation -- a provincial matter -- could be as damaging to western Canadian business interests as the Liberals' efforts to make us conform to the fatally flawed Kyoto climate change protocol.
Can Canadians use discount online brokers?
Canadian industry sees worsening Canadian federal government economic and regulatory policies:
More companies see a worsening in Canada's federal policy environment than improvements in public policy. Top areas of concern include user fees (46%), environmental regulations (39%), customs regulations (37%), a lack of sensitivity to business interests (30%), health and safety regulations (29%), overall fiscal management (29%) and payroll taxes (28%). There is slightly more confidence in the provincial policy environment, especially with respect to tax reform, but there, too, many more companies see policy conditions worsening than improving. Frequently cited concerns are in areas such as user fees, where 43% expect conditions to worsen, labour regulations (36%), environmental regulations (35%), health and safety regulations (32%) and overall fiscal management (25%), transportation and infrastructure (24%) and sensitivity to business interests (23%).
The event that prompted the first story in this post is the TD Forum on Canada's Standard of Living which happened today in Ottawa. I can't find any conference documents on the web for it (not saying they aren't there somewhere; just can't find them if they are) but here's another National Post article which lists various recommendations made at this conference:
"Several authors noted the current employment insurance system does much to perpetuate reliance on low-skilled, seasonal work, while acting as an employment tax on more dynamic sectors of the economy," it states.
Robin Neill, an economics professor at the University of Prince Edward Island, said regional development policies -- such as the $700-million Atlantic Innovation Fund -- encourage firms to devote energy to creating programs that qualify for government money rather than profitable ideas.
UPDATE: You can find the full text for each of the presentations at the TD Forum on Canada's Standard of Living here.
Jerry Seper has an another interesting article on the immigration issues:
Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said the INS is not able to identify and process deportable inmates and that several illegal immigrants improperly released have gone on to commit additional crimes. He said INS interviews of foreign-born inmates to determine their deportability were "minimal to nonexistent," particularly at the county level.
"We found that many potentially deportable foreign-born inmates passed through county jails virtually undetected," he said.
Chronic vacancies involving INS immigration agents have hampered agency efforts to identify criminal inmates, the audit said, noting that INS employees assigned to the removal program are often reassigned at the district management's discretion to any one of several competing priorities, such as employer sanctions, anti-smuggling and fraud.
Once someone has permanent residency in the US can the permanent residency status be revoked as a result of criminal behavior? Are these deportations only done to illegals?
Hans Blix doesn't want to offend the Iraqis by taking them by surprise:
"One must remember always that Iraq is not a country under occupation," he told the media. "You cannot go on forever to take the authorities by surprise. Inspectors are not an army, not a commando troop that can leap in and shoot their way to the target."
Okay, if the lack of a military occupation of Iraq prevents the use of surprise inspections to do a thorough job of weapons inspection then one obvious solution presents itself: Invade.
The complacency of UN bureaucrats argues strongly against the odds of an effective inspections regime:
Pouring scorn on the dossier released last week by the British Government that detailed the latest intelligence assessment of Iraq's weapons procurement programme, the UN officials accompanying Mr Blix declared that they had no evidence that Iraq was conducting a covert nuclear arms programme and said that they were confident that by 1998 - when the last UN inspection teams were driven out of Baghdad by Saddam - they had "neutralised" Iraq's nuclear effort. Another case, no doubt, of looking at "the wrong floors".
UNMOVIC chief Hans Blix does not want to have Iraqi scientists taken out of Iraq to be interviewed.
In addition, Blix as well as France questioned proposals that inspectors be given authority to take Iraqi government officials and scientists, as well as their families, out of the country for interviews.
Well, sorry Hans, as long as the scientists fear for their lives at the hands of Saddam they are not going to reveal anything. An inspections regime that does not have powerful investigative and discovery tools is not going to find the secret weapons labs and storage sites. Of course the French do not want the inspections regime to succeed. But what about Blix?
Former UNSCOM Iraq weapons inspector chief Richard Spertzel says there isn't enough support in UN Security Council to make inspections work:
"They've got to have the unconditional and unanimous support of all members of the security council, and I don't see it's there," said former UNSCOM chief bioweapons inspector Richard Spertzel, now retired as deputy commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
According to Spertzel, UNSCOM's replacement -- the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission, or UNMOVIC -- "doesn't have a chance."
The problem in a nutshell is this: There are UN Security Council members which did not want the 1990s inspections regime to succeed and their efforts to undermine it contributed to its failure. Those members (notably China, Russia, and France) are still there and their attitudes have changed little.
UPDATE: If you click thru to the full article you will find a lot about technologies developed to detect bioweapons and hand-held gadgets that will be useful if weapons inspectors are sent back into Iraq..
In US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's Oct. 7, 2002 briefing he reflected on the one year anniversary of the start of the air war in Afghanistan. Unilateral America operating outside of the UN's auspices has worked with about 90 nations in pursuing terrorists:
It was a year ago today that the global war on terrorism began, when U.S. and coalition forces commenced military operations in and over Afghanistan. Our coalition now comprises some 90 nations -- nearly half of the world's countries. I'm told it's the largest military coalition ever assembled in human history.
Rummy provided a US combat casualty total so far:
But sadly, success on the global war on terror has not been without cost. Fifty-three Americans have died in the war thus far. Their names appear on the screen. And many others have been injured. Our coalition partners have also suffered casualties as well. We remember them with gratitude. We remember also the many Afghans who were -- fought for the liberation of their country and were wounded or died in battle.
The sacrifice of all of those who died is a reminder that we are engaged in a difficult and dangerous undertaking, but it is an effort that is vital to the security of our people.
I believe the names that are listed are all military except for the CIA, Mr. Spann.
Rummy on the UN resolution process so far:
Last, the answer to your question is yes. There's no question but that Saddam Hussein has in the past and is now attempting to manage that whole process, and he's very good at it. He leans forward when he has to, and he leans back when he can get away with it. And it is -- he's very skillful at disinformation and not telling the truth. He is very skillful at timing things in a way that causes the interaction at the United Nations to do things that favor him. How it will all come out, I don't know. It seems to me one would -- at least one would think that after 11 years of doing it, pretty soon people would wake up and say, "A-ha! That's what he's doing." And we'll see.
Rummy on Bin Laden:
Rumsfeld: If you go back to what was read about a year ago today, what I said, I said what I believed then and I believe today. This is not about him. It is a problem that's much bigger than one individual. It was that day. I said so. I tried to dissuade people from personalizing this global war on terrorism into the face or name of a single individual; that that would be unwise and misguided, misdirected. I did my best. I failed. There's a fixation on him, and I suppose we'll just all have to work our way through it.
People who have been trained can fool the lie detectors and those are the people (ie spies) the government most wants to catch:
After interviewing polygraph experts at the CIA, FBI and other agencies, the panel of the National Academy of Sciences determined that it is possible to fool a lie detector, especially if the subject is being screened for general criminal or spy activity and not for some specific act.
This description of life in the capital of Iran is full of elements not expect to find in an Islamic theocratic state. Writer Tim Judah investigates the Tehran underground:
Drug addiction is rife. While rich kids from the wealthier northern suburbs of Tehran pop ecstasy tabs and smoke dope, heroin and opium addiction are claiming an awful toll in the poorer south of the city. Drugs are freely available (as is strictly illegal alcohol), and the number of addicts is now believed to be between 1.2 million and two million people. Many believe that part of the problem is that corrupt policemen are in league with the dealers in exchange for a share of the profit.
Surprisingly, for a state that trumpets its moral values, prostitution is also now widespread - and, as anywhere else, prostitution and drug addiction are often intertwined. As dawn breaks, it is easy to find chador-clad and probably heroin-addicted working girls sleeping rough in Tehran's parks. (Unsurprisingly, HIV and Aids are now very much on the public health agenda of the Islamic Republic.) Many of these girls are runaways. They have often fled abusive, violent or drug-addicted parents, according to the women's rights activist, Mabobeh Abbasglizadeh, or they might be simple country girls who've seen the bright lights of the city on television and balk at the prospect of an early, joyless marriage to a much older man.
I've posted references to articles that are a reaction to an essay by Robert Kagan about America and Europe. It seems appropriate to post a link to the Kagan article so that any interested readers can read it. Kagans's article from the June 2002 Policy Review, entitled "Power and Weakness", is quite a good essay. Its rather long but very rewarding and highly recommended. Here's an excerpt that encapsulates a central argument of this article:
The current situation abounds in ironies. Europe’s rejection of power politics, its devaluing of military force as a tool of international relations, have depended on the presence of American military forces on European soil. Europe’s new Kantian order could flourish only under the umbrella of American power exercised according to the rules of the old Hobbesian order. American power made it possible for Europeans to believe that power was no longer important. And now, in the final irony, the fact that United States military power has solved the European problem, especially the “German problem,” allows Europeans today to believe that American military power, and the “strategic culture” that has created and sustained it, are outmoded and dangerous.
Most Europeans do not see the great paradox: that their passage into post-history has depended on the United States not making the same passage. Because Europe has neither the will nor the ability to guard its own paradise and keep it from being overrun, spiritually as well as physically, by a world that has yet to accept the rule of “moral consciousness,” it has become dependent on America’s willingness to use its military might to deter or defeat those around the world who still believe in power politics.
The biggest cause of the frictions between Europe and America is that many European intellectuals are unwilling to accept that the bulk of the rest of the world is a Hobbesian jungle that can't be tamed by international institutions and treaties. The Hobbesian jungle is in no way ready to engage in anything resembling the supranational institution building and the constraints on national entities that are characteristic of the EU. The EU is not a model for how to solve the political problems of the world. The conditions that made the EU possible (including, among others, a grinding defeat of Germany, lengthy partition, and a continued US military presence) are absent in the rest of world.
Saddam Hussein's Iraq or the North Korean regime can not be neutered by voluntary international institutions - even more so since those institutions are dominated by the very types of regimes that are most in need of not just containment but replacement. But even if the international bodies were dominated by liberal democracies they still couldn't bring such regime's as Iraq's to heel any more than defenseless civilians could stop an armed band of thugs. Many nations are not even proper nation-states in the Western sense. They are just tyrannies ruled by an individual or a small ruling class and the governments exist quite apart from the people they govern. With technological advances generated by the Western nations making it easier for brutal regimes to develop WMD the Western nations can ill afford to engage in the kinds of political fantasies that are the basis for the European complaints about the United States.
James C. Bennett joins the ranks of those who think the UN is a hopeless case:
More and more commentators are suggesting that the United Nations, like the League of Nations, is fundamentally flawed, and may need replacing. A new organization may fix some of the flaws in the United Nations' structure, as it itself was an improvement over the League of Nations. However, it may be the fundamental idea of an international organization that is both universal, in admitting any sovereign state, and effective, in that it may authorize specific actions by majority votes of various bodies, may be attempting to square the circle.
It may be that any attempt to reform or replace the United Nations will fail so long as it continues to mix members of very dissimilar characters. Roger Scruton has recently discussed a distinction between states with a "personal character" -- those that genuinely reflect a national community, and thus can represent at least from time to time a consensus of national opinion -- and those that are little more than structures for rule of an area by a particular dictator or ruling clique. (I have written about such a distinction in terms of strong, weak, or nonexistent civil societies.)
This NY Times article makes the argument that self esteem is not a curative for anti-social behavior:
In an extensive review of studies, for example, Dr. Nicholas Emler, a social psychologist at the London School of Economics, found no clear link between low self-esteem and delinquency, violence against others, teenage smoking, drug use or racism, though a poor self-image was one of several factors contributing to self-destructive behaviors like suicide, eating disorders and teenage pregnancy.
High self-esteem, on the other hand, was positively correlated with racist attitudes, drunken driving and other risky behaviors, Dr. Emler found in his 2001 review. Though academic success or failure had some effect on self-esteem, students with high self-esteem were likely to explain away their failures with excuses, while those with low self-esteem discounted their successes as flukes.
One has to define what one means by self esteem and different people use different definitions. For instance, the Nathaniel Branden definition is likely to differ in significant ways from the sorts of definitions used by some of the researchers whose results are cited in this article. However, the article does make a number of good points and self esteem's importance is overrated. Self esteem is a perception that one has about one's efficacy and that perception can simply be wrong. Also, a person can have a high opinion of one's ability to deal with reality and be lacking in internalised norms of civil and ethical behavior. The article cites narcissism as an even greater cause of violence and other anti-social behaviors.
Andrew Sullivan explores the many facets of the relationship of Tony Blair and George W. Bush:
For Bush in turn, Blair is a very useful - perhaps even indispensable domestic tool. Without Blair, it would be far easier for the Democrats to portray the president as a reckless provocateur in world affairs. But where Blair really comes in handy is persuading wobbly American elites - especially liberal ones - that the case for war is not necessarily a conservative one. Blair reminds American liberals of their own principles. When he describes the way Saddam has gassed his own citizens, invaded his neighbors, fomented terrorism around the globe and now aims to develop potent chemical, biological and nuclear arms, American liberals get to hear a strong voice speaking their own language in the pursuit of security. This matters. As an assessment of Blair in Slate magazine recently put it: "Since Sept. 11 of last year, Tony Blair has roamed the globe in support of the U.S.-led war on terror. He's traveled to India, to Pakistan, to Israel, Syria, Egypt, and elsewhere and served as an intermediary between President Bush and European leaders. But overlooked in all this diplomacy has been the boost the British prime minister's backing gives Bush within the United States, by virtue of his appeal to American liberal elites and intellectuals. Blair isn't just Bush's ambassador to the world - he's Bush's ambassador to America."
The most knowledgeable participant in the Slate debate is Jeffrey Goldberg. To get a sense of his knowledge of the region (and for a very enlightening read) read his excellent essay Inside Jihad U. : The Education of a Holy Warrior originally published in the NY Times Magazine on June 25, 2000. You can also find it here on the Indian Embassy web site. Goldberg's account of his visit to Egypt is educational as well (note: PDF format).
Goldberg's judgement below about the nature of Muslim anger and contempt toward America is one I fully share. From Jeffrey Goldberg's Oct 7, 2002 post:
I left Pakistan and Afghanistan believing that America had done nothing to alienate the Taliban or these madrasah boys: Their hate was independent of American action. In fact, these fundamentalists owed the United States their thanks: It was the United States that supported them during the fight against the Soviets; the food many of them ate came to them courtesy of USAID, and many of the men I met who spoke English learned their English from American teachers, funded by American taxpayers. Their hatred of America, I realized, was rooted in their culture, in the theology of Islamic supremacy, in their jealousy and rage at American success.
I also noticed another emotion present in these men: contempt. They were contemptuous of America and Americans; they found us weak and unmanly, they found our culture corrupt and perverted, and I don't have to tell you what they thought of American women.
It was after a couple of months in Pakistan and Afghanistan that I began to realize that these forces of Islamic fundamentalism had already declared war on us; that there was nothing left for us to do but fight them; and that by not fighting them, we were convincing them we were without virtue, strength, or courage.
Robert Wright took a different message away from my reporting: The best thing to do would be to leave these people alone and hope they go away. But what he failed to understand is that we provoked them by not provoking them.
Of course I recognize that an invasion of Iraq will cause some people to hate us more than they already do, but I also recognize that their hatred of America will not dissipate—and that their contempt may intensify—if we do not take strong action against Iraq.
Update: In an interview that Goldberg made about his trip to Egypt he remarked on Egyptian newspaper Holocaust denial:
JEFFREY GOLDBERG: I'm entirely comfortable saying that if Hosni Mubarak did not want Holocaust denial to run in government newspapers or any newspapers in Egypt, he could make sure that Holocaust denial wouldn't run in the newspapers! So then you have to ask the question: why is it being allowed to run? They do it to keep their attention away from failing education system and a failing infrastructure. If the people are angry at Israel, they'll have less time to be angry about the conditions of their own lives.
Update: Also see my other posts on Jeffrey Goldberg's writings: Jeffrey Goldberg on Hezbollah, Jeffrey Goldberg on the Palestinians And Israeli Settlers, and Jeffrey Goldberg On Terrorism and Intelligence Work.
The origin of this law is the British colonial administration:
3) Turning a blind eye to article 15, Great Britain also decided that no Jews could reside or buy land in the newly created Emirate. This policy was ratified — after the emirate became a kingdom — by Jordan's law no. 6, sect. 3, on April 3, 1954, and reactivated in law no. 7, sect. 2, on April 1, 1963. It states that any person may become a citizen of Jordan unless he is a Jew. King Hussein made peace with Israel in 1994, but the Judenrein legislation remains valid today.
What, you mean that there comes a point where appearances are not enough and that real actual support for national security is necessary? Say it isn't so Congressman Frost:
Democratic Caucus Chairman Martin Frost (D-Texas) said a strong vote for going to war with Iraq may help his party shed, once and for all, its image as the anti-war, anti-military national political organization.
"There's an awareness that if we are going to be back in the majority, the party needs to be seen as -- and not just seen as, but actually -- standing up for a secure America," Frost said.
Try this inflation calculator.
David Warren offers reasons why some people like the UN:
The other reason, for this strange infatuation with the United Nations, is more complexly ideological. It is what remains of "socialist internationalism", which never did make very fine moral distinctions. The belief is that the larger governmental unit is, by definition and always, more legitimate than the smaller -- and more "democratic", since it contains more people. Thus provinces are preferred to municipalities, the federal government to provinces, and "world government" to federal, for whatever purpose -- usually some social engineering scheme. And once again, the idea goes without thinking; for the implications of it are horrendous.
The first thing to know is that none of the five governments are in any doubt that the U.S. intends to change the regime of Saddam Hussein. And neither Paris, nor Moscow, nor Beijing is in a position to stop it, through the U.N. or otherwise. The question from each is, "At what price will we allow the Americans to escape from the appearance of unilateralism?"
Commerzbank effectively can no longer borrow on the public market:
Details of Merrill's e-mail quickly filtered into the London and Frankfurt markets and Commerzbank's share price fell 6 per cent to €6.02. Credit default swaps on the bank traded above 200 basis points - a level that prices the German bank out of the market.
Guido Versondert, credit analyst at Barclays Capital, said: "Everyone is so on edge that they're prepared to believe the worst and . . . this is affecting equity and credit markets."
Commerzbank also can't forecast its earnings:
Last week, Klaus-Peter Müller, Commerzbank's chief executive, said he could no longer give a forecast for full-year profit, earlier at €700m-€800m ($688m-$785m), and said he expected 2002 risk provisions of about €1.3bn, up from €1.1bn earlier.
More talk of parallels with the 1930s:
'There are strong parallels to the Thirties after an unsustainable "new era" boom,' says Avinash Persaud managing director for economics and research at State Street Bank. 'Then, the stock market decline was not just steep, it was long, taking three years to reach the bottom.'
'Commerzbank being affected is a sign of the severity. But in today's crisis risks have been offloaded from the banks to the markets and ultimately our pensioners, which makes the problem more difficult to deal with,' he says.
German insurers may be in trouble too:
Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Agency has also said that it is monitoring the health of the country’s insurers: it fears that many of them will be nursing massive unrealised losses.
Persaud's point about the pensioners is an important one. How can people save for long years of retirement when the stock markets are declining so rapidly? Of course lots of corporate and public pension funds are invested at least partially in the stock market. So their unfunded liabilities rise as the stock markets decline. Plus, declining interest rates make the size of the unfunded liabilities larger as well. People can't expect to live longer while at the same time work fewer years than previous generations. The math doesn't add up. The deflationary forces at work in the markets are going to make the retirement funding issue one that can no longer be put off.
The Economist has an article about underfunded corporate pension funds. The problem is particularly acute among German corporations:
Of 47 companies with outstanding bonds examined by Dresdner, only six had pension funds with assets that exceeded liabilities: General Electric of the US; Unilever; Philips; Corus; FKI; and Dow Chemical. Worryingly, the rest all had shortfalls. Those with the worst deficits were German companies, but for good reason: German firms are not required to set aside money to cover their pension-fund liabilities but do have to carry the cost on their balance sheets. For well-heeled firms like Aventis, a pharmaceuticals and agribusiness group, this poses little problem even though in 2001 the company’s pension liability was half as much again as its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. But for others, such as E.On, an international energy and engineering group, any increase in its liabilities may well affect its credit rating and so the interest rate it has to pay when issuing new bonds.
The article goes on to point out that as interest rates continue to drop the bond yields in the pension fund portfolios decline and the size of the unfunded liabilities rises. This is a far more serious problem on the European continent than in either the UK or the US. Europe's declining birth rates, slower, economic growth, and higher unemployment rates all make the pension fund liabilities greater. European countries are going to have to raise their retirement ages and make their labor markets more flexible.
Over on Daniel Drezner's blog he and his readers are discussing "why commentators tend to treat public figures and thinkers associated with communism with more respect than those associated with fascism." Assorted reasons are offered. I agree with the explanation that he attributes to Tony Judt: that intellectuals are drawn to power. However, this does not explain why they are still going easy on communism when communism is pretty much in the dustbin of history. There is, after all, no more power left to be drawn to.
I think the Nazi vs Communist system comparison is restricting the scope of the debate. Hence, the arguments are coming up short of a satisfying explanation. What one first ought to ask is one that the late philosopher Robert Nozick asked in a 1998 essay: Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?"
Intellectuals now expect to be the most highly valued people in a society, those with the most prestige and power, those with the greatest rewards. Intellectuals feel entitled to this. But, by and large, a capitalist society does not honor its intellectuals. Ludwig von Mises explains the special resentment of intellectuals, in contrast to workers, by saying they mix socially with successful capitalists and so have them as a salient comparison group and are humiliated by their lesser status. However, even those intellectuals who do not mix socially are similarly resentful, while merely mixing is not enough--the sports and dancing instructors who cater to the rich and have affairs with them are not noticeably anti-capitalist.
Why then do contemporary intellectuals feel entitled to the highest rewards their society has to offer and resentful when they do not receive this? Intellectuals feel they are the most valuable people, the ones with the highest merit, and that society should reward people in accordance with their value and merit. But a capitalist society does not satisfy the principle of distribution "to each according to his merit or value." Apart from the gifts, inheritances, and gambling winnings that occur in a free society, the market distributes to those who satisfy the perceived market-expressed demands of others, and how much it so distributes depends on how much is demanded and how great the alternative supply is. Unsuccessful businessmen and workers do not have the same animus against the capitalist system as do the wordsmith intellectuals. Only the sense of unrecognized superiority, of entitlement betrayed, produces that animus.
Why do wordsmith intellectuals think they are most valuable, and why do they think distribution should be in accordance with value? Note that this latter principle is not a necessary one. Other distributional patterns have been proposed, including equal distribution, distribution according to moral merit, distribution according to need. Indeed, there need not be any pattern of distribution a society is aiming to achieve, even a society concerned with justice. The justice of a distribution may reside in its arising from a just process of voluntary exchange of justly acquired property and services. Whatever outcome is produced by that process will be just, but there is no particular pattern the outcome must fit. Why, then, do wordsmiths view themselves as most valuable and accept the principle of distribution in accordance with value?
From the beginnings of recorded thought, intellectuals have told us their activity is most valuable. Plato valued the rational faculty above courage and the appetites and deemed that philosophers should rule; Aristotle held that intellectual contemplation was the highest activity. It is not surprising that surviving texts record this high evaluation of intellectual activity. The people who formulated evaluations, who wrote them down with reasons to back them up, were intellectuals, after all. They were praising themselves. Those who valued other things more than thinking things through with words, whether hunting or power or uninterrupted sensual pleasure, did not bother to leave enduring written records. Only the intellectual worked out a theory of who was best.
So here is own theory for why intellectuals were more attracted to communism: capitalism accords intellectuals even less status than fascism did. By contrast communism accorded intellectuals a higher status than fascism did. Fascism didn't have as much of a need for intellectuals because it was a more tribal and primitive ideology. One wasn't a great fascist because of one's thoughts. Fascism was a form of ethnic nationalism. One was a great German fascist because one was a prototypical German. That definition based on idealized national characteristics downplayed the role of the mind. Communism, being a more abstract and theoretical political ideology, has a greater need for intellectuals as justifiers, planners, and intellectual defenders.
Here's another post from Drezner's blog that follows up with more explanations.
Just found this on the Scientific American site. The author argues that Get Smart co-creator Mel Brooks is secretly spreading dangerous subversive ideas:
But in July I happened on an episode of Get Smart, the late-1960s sitcom about bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart. The plotline concerned a plague sweeping the nation's potato crop-- potatoes look fine on the outside but, like Lay and his cronies, are empty inside their jackets. Smart discovers that Siegfried, head of the evil enemy agency Kaos, is using a bioengineered bacterium to attack our potatoes [see "Biological Warfare against Crops," by Paul Rogers, Simon Whitby and Malcolm Dando; Scientific American, June 1999]. Siegfried explains that the bacterium enters the potato, eats the insides, burps and dies, leaving no trace. Now for the really frightening part-- Siegfried is spreading the potato-destroying bacteria using crop dusters.
Conference Board survey finds gloomier outlook:
The number of executives who say business conditions are better now than they were six months ago has plunged to 29 percent from 62 percent last quarter, according to a Conference Board survey released yesterday.
The Business Council finds similar sentiment:
The Council's CEO poll found that 94 percent expect the U.S. economy to slow. Sixty-five percent said growth next year would total between 1.5 percent and 3 percent.
In an essay in The Weekly Standard entitled "The Angry Adolescent of Europe: Irresponsibility as the German way" writer Christopher Caldwell examines the motives and effects of the anti-American sentiment expressed by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in the recent German elections. Caldwell finds German nationalism and not Europeanism at the bottom of it:
Schroeder's anti-Americanism was foredoomed to get out of control. Whatever pacifist impulses it may have drawn on, it was primarily an expression of German nationalism. Schroeder likes the position of being Europe's hard guy against the United States: On his first visit to Washington after the election of President Bush, he delivered a harsh letter from the E.U. warning the president that America could not hold itself aloof from the Kyoto Protocol on global climate change. From the United States, Schroeder's actions may appear to be a "European" thing: Jealous of American unity and decisiveness, which they cannot imitate, Europeans have sought to impose their own bickering disunity--their any-crank-has-a-veto system--on us. But that would be wrong. In fact, Schroeder is wallowing in the very worldview that Europe is being constructed to prevent. The campaign was nationalist from the start. Last winter and early spring, Schroeder sought to scapegoat foreign bureaucrats in Brussels for his economic problems. He discarded this strategy only because it didn't work.
What makes it clearest that Schroeder's position involves nationalism rather than Europeanism is that it has panicked France, and sent French politicians of all parties into a rage. For years, the Franco-German relationship--and hence the European Union--was built on an informal agreement: absolute equality in European institutions and a right to consultation on anything the other partner did. In French eyes, Germany has broken this deal three times: First (and probably unavoidably), when Helmut Kohl proposed German unity without seeking President Mitterrand's permission; second, when Schroeder cold-cocked President Jacques Chirac at the E.U.'s Nice summit in 2000, asking (by virtue of the unified Germany's larger population) for surplus representation on European bodies; and third, the present ugliness. Schroeder's use of Iraq to humble America had the side-effect of breaking up Europe's common defense policy. Germany may not be conscious of what a sacrifice George Bush made in asking the United Nations to okay an Iraq threat, but France is. Chirac even views Bush's U.N. speech as a giant diplomatic achievement for Europe, since he and Tony Blair had urged it. Viewed in this light, Schroeder's freelancing divides Europe, leaving the continent weaker, not stronger, against American influence.
Caldwell has written a very nuanced analysis of recent events in German politics and what these events portend for the future. Caldwell expects to see more attempts to blame America as a way to divert attention from continued failures in domestic economic policy. I also expect see a stiffening of French nationalism as one response and ditto for nationalism in other neighbors of Germany. If the French start to feel more competitive with Germany it is quite possible the French leaders will seek friendlier relations with the US in order to increase US pressure on Germany.
Bill Clinton just gave a speech at the UK Labour Party conference, Winter Gardens, Blackpool in which he said:
When the Prime Minister spoke I was in London still and I watched it on television, as I have most of this Conference. Let me just get off the script here, by the way, and say I love these party Conferences. I wish we had them in America because every year you get to have your say, the Tories get to have theirs, they are widely covered, and I get to know about people I would not know about otherwise doing things that I would not know.
I saw your speakers this morning expressing compassion about education and the rights of working people. I saw Gordon Brown's speech which thoroughly and for ever disabused the Conservatives of the notion that the centre left cannot be troubled or trusted to manage the economy. And when the Prime Minister spoke yesterday I thought to myself, "I hope I'll be able to give a speech like that when I grow up". It was just unbelievable.
Gary Milhollin and Kelly Motz have written an article in the October 2002 issue of Commentary entitled Iraq: The Snare of Inspection about why the UNMOVIC inspection regime will not work:
At UNMOVIC, which is split into a number of separate divisions, no inspector will be allowed to receive intelligence information on a privileged basis, and any and all information is liable to be shared. Not only does this make it more difficult to prevent information from leaking, thus undermining the confidence of governments thinking of supplying it, but no one can be sure that particular pieces of information will be acted upon. Unless and until national governments become convinced otherwise, not much of significant value is likely to be provided—an especially grave problem today when solid intelligence on Iraq has become scarcer and therefore more valuable.
Other considerations are relevant here. The American, British, and Israeli officials who in the past provided information to UNSCOM benefited from the fact that their relationship with the commission was a “loop.” Evidence uncovered by UNSCOM inspectors flowed back to those nations’ intelligence agencies for analysis, and this analysis produced new leads for UNSCOM in return. UNMOVIC, however, has announced that there will be no loop. Information will flow only in, not out.
This will be a crippling handicap. Even if, for example, an Iraqi defector should turn up and tell UNMOVIC to look in a certain building, the agency will need a means of evaluating his reliability before it decides to act. Without a loop, it cannot ask the intelligence service of a national government to vet what it has learned. It will have to rely on its own resources, and if these are insufficient to prompt action, an important opportunity may thereby be lost.
In the full article they provide additional information about the limitations on UNMOVIC intelligence handling and also describe several other reasons why the UNMOVIC inspections regime will not work. Among the reasons UNMOVIC inspection attempts will be less effective than UNSCOM: UNSCOM inspectors were on loan from national governments and chosen for their skills in the technologies needed to develop weapons whereas UNMOVIC inspectors are UN employees who have cut all ties to their national governments and some are recruited from countries that lack relevant technical skills bases. Iraq has set up mobile weapons labs. Just finding where these labs are at any given moment will be difficult if they can even be identified in the first place. UNMOVIC hasn't even committed to doing surprise inspections. The list goes on. Read the full article.
It is unrealistic to expect the UN to take on this task with sufficient competency or with a strong motivation to succeed. On top of that its a task that is impossible in the first place. The Iraqi regime controls too many elements in the equation. An effective inspection regime would require not only competence, motivation, and a willingness to carry out surprise inspections. It would also require a great deal of intelligence support and something equivalent to secret grand juries empowered to subpoena anyone in Iraq. But in order to be successful in compelling testimony the investigative body would need to be able to offer witness protection services that would include providing Iraqis with new secret identities in other countries.
A lot of people fail to understand a person like Saddam Hussein because they can not imagine just how much differently someone can think than they do. This essay by Mark Bowden from the May 2002 issue of The Atlantic Monthly shows Saddam as an absolutely brutal village chieftain who is a student of Joseph Stalin's approach to ruling:
In al-Bazzaz's view, Saddam embodies the tribal mentality. "He is the ultimate Iraqi patriarch, the village leader who has seized a nation," he explained. "Because he has come so far, he feels anointed by destiny. Everything he does is, by definition, the right thing to do. He has been chosen by Heaven to lead. Often in his life he has been saved by God, and each escape makes him more certain of his destiny. In recent years, in his speeches, he has begun using passages and phrases from the Koran, speaking the words as if they are his own. In the Koran, Allah says, 'If you thank me, I will give you more.' In the early nineties Saddam was on TV, presenting awards to military officers, and he said, 'If you thank me, I will give you more.' He no longer believes he is a normal person. Dialogue with him is impossible because of this. He can't understand why journalists should be allowed to criticize him. How can they criticize the father of the tribe? This is something unacceptable in his mind. To him, strength is everything. To allow criticism or differences of opinion, to negotiate or compromise, to accede to the rule of law or to due process—these are signs of weakness."
Jessica Matthews, President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has proposed coercive inspections in Iraq:
Under the coercive inspections plan, the Security Council would authorize the creation of an Inspections Implementation Force (IIF) to act as the enforcement arm for UNMOVIC and the IAEA task force. Under the new resolution, the inspections process is transformed from a game of cat and mouse punctuated by diversions and manufactured crises, in which conditions heavily favor Iraqi obstruction, into a last chance, "comply or else" operation.
The inspection teams would return to Iraq accompanied by a military arm strong enough to force immediate entry into any site at any time with complete security for the inspection team. No terms would be negotiated regarding the dates, duration or modalities of inspection. If Iraq chose not to accept, or established a record of noncompliance, the U.S. regime-change option or, better, a UN authorization of "use of all necessary means" would come into play.
Think about what this means in practical terms. The inspection team would need a huge military force to accompany it (actually to go in front of it) as it tried to move around in Iraq. That force would need to be capable of fighting thru any opposition thrown up by the Iraqi military. The proposal is basically to replace a general invasion of the entire country all at once with a series of narrow invasion paths to each site that the inspectors desire to inspect. This proposal strikes me as a case of a bunch of intellectuals being too clever for their (or our) own good.
Such a force still would not succeed for a simple reason: It would need to be able to exercise full police investigative powers in order to be able to get Iraqi government officials and functionaries to tell where things are hidden. The problem is that the Iraqis are more afraid of being killed by Saddam if they talk. So the investigative force would need to able to basically offer the equivalent of witness protection for all Iraqi weapons scientists and weapons program administrators. Nothing short of that would be enough to compel the Iraqis to talk.
Charles Jacobs, writing in the Boston Globe, advances a hypothesis to explain why some massive human rights violations are unimportant to the progressive Left:
''Not in my name'' is the worthy response of moral people. South African whites could not be allowed to represent ''us.'' But when we see evil done by ''others,'' we tend to shy away. Though we claim to have a single standard for all human conduct, we don't. We fear the charge of hypocrisy: We Westerners after all, had slaves. We napalmed Vietnam. We live on Native American land. Who are we to judge ''others?'' And so we don't stand for all of humanity.
In this view the moral indignation of the progressives is not exercised for the benefit of the victims. Its exercised as a sort of therapy for the self. This begins to make it seem rather narcissistic.
Seeking expiation instead of universal justice means ignoring the sufferings of these victims of non-Western aggression and making relatively more of the suffering of those caught in confrontation with people like ''us.'' If the Israelis are being ''profiled'' because they are like ''us,'' the slaves of Sudan are ignored because their masters' behavior has nothing to do with us.
Another refinement of this interpretation is available: selective moral indignation directed at people who one identifies as members of one's group (effectively one's tribe but on a larger scale) is a technique that some Western intellectuals use to bolster their claim that they are morally superior to other Westerners. Finding a way to feel superior to other people who are very like oneself is a way to place one self at a higher level of the moral pecking order of one's own civilization.
(found on Little Green Footballs)
Writing in the September/October 2002 issue of Foreign Affairs Minxin Pei sees China developing a pattern of corruption similar to that of Suharto's Indonesia:
In retrospect, the 1990s ought to be viewed as a decade of missed opportunities. The CCP leadership could have taken advantage of a booming economy to renew itself through a program of gradual political reform built on the rudimentary steps of the 1980s. But it did not, and now the cumulative costs of a decade of foot-dragging are becoming more visible. In many crucial respects, China's hybrid neo-authoritarian order eerily exhibits the pathologies of both the political stagnation of Leonid Brezhnev's Soviet Union and the crony capitalism of Suharto's Indonesia.
The anti-corruption drives of the mid 1990s were basically not sincere attempts to reduce corruption:
Even more worrying, the CCP appears unable to enforce internal discipline despite the mortal threat posed by corruption, which has surpassed unemployment as the most serious cause of social instability. Recent official actions, especially the prosecution and execution of several senior officials, create the impression that the CCP leadership is committed to combating corruption. But a comprehensive look at the data tells a different story. Most corrupt officials caught in the government's dragnet seem to have gotten off with no more than a slap on the wrist. For example, of the 670,000 party members disciplined for wrongdoing from 1992 to 1997, only 37,500, or six percent, were punished by criminal prosecution. Indeed, self-policing may be impossible for a ruling party accountable to no one. According to a top CCP official, the party has in recent years expelled only about one percent of its members.
I have long been of the opinion that the biggest long term limit to China's economic growth is corruption. To sustain economic growth to a point where China could begin to catch up in per capita GDP terms with the West will require a much stronger division between the public and private sectors and an impartial and fairly independent system of laws and courts for property rights adjudication. It seems doubtful that China can develop such a system as long as its political system is run by a single party monopoly.
Mark Steyn draws attention to the fact that "the UN" is really shorthand for 3 UN Security Council permanent members with veto power: China, Russia, and France. Yes, the UN is an accidental relic of a previous era:
So instead the plan is to diminish US hegemony by spending zippo on defence and putting all your eggs in the UN basket. Structurally, the UN is a creature of the Cold War. It formalised the stalemate of East and West: it was designed to prevent rather than enable action; it tended towards inertia, which was no bad thing given the potentially catastrophic consequences of the alternative. But we no longer have a bipolar world, and so the vetoes only work one way — to restrain the sole surviving superpower. England’s clergy have redefined the Christian concept of a just war to mean only one blessed by the Security Council, which is to say the governments of France, Russia and China: it will be left to two atheists and a lapsed Catholic to determine whether this is a war Christians can support. Even more perplexing, The Spectator feels the same way: our editorial last week declared that ‘only UN authorisation’ could provide a justification for war.
Just as a matter of interest, how many countries does George W. Bush have to have on board before America ceases to be acting ‘unilaterally’? So far, there’s Australia, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Qatar, Turkey.... Romania has offered the use of its airspace to attack Iraq. The Americo-Romanian Coalition Against Iraq has more members than most multilateral organisations. But no matter how multilateral it gets, it doesn’t count unless it’s sanctioned by the UN. If France feels the need to invade the Ivory Coast, that can be done unilaterally. But, when it’s America, you gotta get a warrant from the global magistrate.
Along the way Steyn alludes to the Battle of the Some and Europe's experience in WWI as a cause of Europe's view about American war fighting. Steyn does this in the context of dismissing European and American left-wing complaints about the unwillingness of the American leadership to put at risk large numbers of ground troops in an attack in either Afghanistan (the critics don't seem to understand the logistics limitations in that case - but never mind) or Iraq. Well, there's something curious thing about Europe's lessons from the First World War: European intellectuals were alienated from the very idea of war because of the massive casualties suffered by so many European nations. But the modern American way of war employs such accuracy and high speed mobility that the casualties are drastically reduced even in the ranks of our enemies. So while fear of massive casualties is the reason European intellectuals became so averse to war (no matter how just the cause) they have so internalized this aversion that now that the original reason for the aversion has been removed they are angry that the US is conducting its war fighting in a way that will avoid the massive casualties.
The other phenomenon at work here is the irrational belief in the efficacy of international institutions as virtual secular saviors. This belief is held in the face of abundant empirical evidence to the contrary. The belief finds its support in a poorly constructed and highly imaginary mythology of supposed accomplishments of the international institutions. The size of this mythology effectively imbues the UN and supporting institutions with a religious aura.
The assertions that international bodies and treaties have prevented WMD proliferation or prevented wars are just that: assertions. The reality of the treaties and international institutions is rather disappointing. Treaties have worked against governments that had no plans of breaking them in the first place. But no sooner was the ink dry on a treaty banning biological weapons development that the Soviet Union had secretly embarked on a massive program to develop a large assortment of biological weapons. Nuclear weapons have spread to more countries. Export controls by the US and its allies helped slow the spread of WMD for many years. But these export controls were not coordinated thru the UN. Beyond those export controls the only effective restraints on WMD spread have come from the Israeli strike against the Osirik reactor and the Gulf War to expel Saddam from Kuwait. To the extent that UNSCOM partially worked it was because Iraq was badly weakened by the Gulf War and US and British warplanes were ready to launch airstrikes. Even here UN involvement was not really helpful. US and UK inspectors working without a UN mandate would have been more effective since they wouldn't have been harmed by the lack of support the UN Security Council provided to UNSCOM (France, Russia, and China of course worked to negotiate a series of compromises with Saddam that weakened and undermined UNSCOM).
This is another first class essay from Mark Steyn. Be sure the read the whole thing if you like the except.
Third, when you're the most powerful country in the world, it's possible to think that international law is just something you pay lip service to, a moral nicety that only eggheaded philosophers care about. But, again as Robert Wright has argued, in Slate and elsewhere, there is little reason to believe, and much historical reason to doubt, that we will maintain our supremacy forever. We, too, will come to appreciate how respect for international law has made the world a safer place. We should not be the ones to destroy that respect.
Yes, we do need to worry about the possibility of terrorists acquiring unconventional weapons, but the best way to prevent that is with international weapons control, for which the Bush administration has little enthusiasm.
The advocates of war say that Saddam wouldn't ever have to carry out a nuclear attack to make his weapons useful. As Charles Krauthammer puts it, he could "use them as accessories to aggression"—to invade a neighboring country and hold on to his conquest by brandishing the nuclear sword. But if that were a plausible strategy, Stalin could have swallowed West Berlin and Mao could have taken over Hong Kong long before 1997.
There's a problem with the Stalin analogy: Saddam did take over Kuwait. Even though the US was in possession of nuclear weapons Saddam attacked anyhow. Saddam miscalculated. This illstrates problem with deterrence. Isolated tyrants surrounded sycophantic yes-men lack an accurate way to appraise the likely responses of other governments. Also, Wright ought to answer this question: if Saddam had waited a few years to finish developing nuclear weapons before attacking Kuwait would the US have intervened to expel him from Kuwait?
On the Friday part of this Slate exchange Steve Chapman says:
Nuclear weapons are highly effective for defensive purposes—deterring an attack on one's own territory. But they're useless for offensive conquest.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were offensive uses of nuclear weapons. The US was on the offensive at that stage of WWII and wanted a way to defeat Japan without invading. Well, nuclear weapons worked rather well for that purpose.
Mackubin Thomas Owens explodes a myth: no, the front line combat units are not overweighted with minorities.
The fact is that blacks disproportionately serve in Army combat-service support units, not combat units. When Ricks wrote his piece, such units had become "majority minority," with more black soldiers than white. By contrast, he observed, the infantry, which generally suffers the most casualties in wartime, had become "whiter than America." African Americans constituted nine percent of the infantry, compared to 11.8 percent of the age eligible civilian population. In 1995, 79 percent of the new troopers were white, compared with 74.3 percent of civilians. There is little evidence to suggest that these figures have changed much over the last five years.
Why is this the case? Ricks pointed out that the new demographics of the Army have to do with the dynamics of an all-volunteer force - Blacks and whites join the military for different reasons. On the one hand, white youths are frequently looking for adventure while they try to raise money for college. As a result, they tend to flock to the combat arms, especially elite units like the Rangers and airborne. On the other, young black males, "are generally seeking skills, and so gravitate toward administrative and technical jobs. Because they often find the Army a fairer and better place to live than civilian society, blacks tend to stay enlisted longer: Though only 22% of today's recruits are black, the Army itself is 30% black."
Condoleezza Rice recently delivered the Manhattan Institute's Wriston Lecture at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The lecture covered a variety of foreign policy topics but this excerpt focuses on preemption:
The National Security Strategy does not overturn five decades of doctrine and jettison either containment or deterrence. These strategic concepts can and will continue to be employed where appropriate. But some threats are so potentially catastrophic -- and can arrive with so little warning, by means that are untraceable -- that they cannot be contained. Extremists who seem to view suicide as a sacrament are unlikely to ever be deterred. And new technology requires new thinking about when a threat actually becomes "imminent." So as a matter of common sense, the United States must be prepared to take action, when necessary, before threats have fully materialized.
Preemption is not a new concept. There has never been a moral or legal requirement that a country wait to be attacked before it can address existential threats. As George Shultz recently wrote, "If there is a rattlesnake in the yard, you don't wait for it to strike before you take action in self-defense." The United States has long affirmed the right to anticipatory self-defense -- from the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula in 1994.
But this approach must be treated with great caution. The number of cases in which it might be justified will always be small. It does not give a green light -- to the United States or any other nation -- to act first without exhausting other means, including diplomacy. Preemptive action does not come at the beginning of a long chain of effort. The threat must be very grave. And the risks of waiting must far outweigh the risks of action.
To support all these means of defending the peace, the United States will build and maintain 21st century military forces that are beyond challenge.
We will seek to dissuade any potential adversary from pursuing a military build-up in the hope of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States and our allies.
Some have criticized this frankness as impolitic. But surely clarity is a virtue here. Dissuading military competition can prevent potential conflict and costly global arms races. And the United States invites -- indeed, we exhort -- our freedom loving allies, such as those in Europe, to increase their military capabilities.
The burden of maintaining a balance of power that favors freedom should be shouldered by all nations that favor freedom. What none of us should want is the emergence of a militarily powerful adversary who does not share our common values.
Thankfully, this possibility seems more remote today than at any point in our lifetimes. We have an historic opportunity to break the destructive pattern of great power rivalry that has bedeviled the world since rise of the nation state in the 17th century. Today, the world's great centers of power are united by common interests, common dangers, and -- increasingly -- common values. The United States will make this a key strategy for preserving the peace for many decades to come.
Jackson Diehl argues that Condoleezza Rice may some day be seen as comparable to George Kennan for the lasting effect of the change she is making in US foreign policy:
The Bush doctrine commits the United States to act aggressively, with others or alone, "to promote a balance of power that favors freedom." The phobias about engaging abroad that paralyzed policy in the '90s, and infuriated the internationalists, are banished. This isn't just the Jacksonian assertion of American interests, though that is surely part of it. There is also a Wilsonian promise to "bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets and free trade to every corner of the world" -- and a Kissingerian strategy of maintaining a "great power balance" that decisively favors the United States. The ambition is breathtaking: "We will work to translate this moment of influence," declares the doctrine, "into decades of peace, prosperity and liberty." It is, in short, a bold -- and mostly brilliant -- synthesis, one that conceivably could cause national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who executed it, to be remembered as the policymaker who defined a new era.
This does not sound like fun:
Kay recalls one no-notice inspection when the Iraqis barred his team from the premises, but allowed them to observe the facility from a nearby water tower. When inspectors saw the Iraqis moving equipment out the back, Kay sent a team to photograph the area. But as the tape started to roll, the Iraqis fired warning shots over their heads.
Then there was the personal harassment: Middle of the night phone calls with veiled threats to their families, 3 a.m. firing squads executing “black marketeers” near their hotel, and physical attacks by Iraqi “civilians” were only some of their intimidation tactics.
Saddam's agents are buying tech useful for making WMD:
The Iraqi deal with Belstroyimpex was not unique. As arms inspectors and independent researchers have established in the past two years, the deal was only a small part of an intensive effort by companies and organisations linked to Iraq's Ministry of Military Industrialisation to acquire forbidden technologies and materials from Belarus and more than a dozen other countries.
It is an effort, say diplomatic sources, that continued just two months ago, when Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Military Industrialisation, Abdul Tawab Mulla Howeish, was in Minsk to sign a new protocol authorising scientific and technical exchanges between the two states. Indeed, as lately as 1998 - before their forced departure from Iraq - UN inspectors discovered machine tools delivered from Belarus at the Saddam Artillery Plant, where they found Iraqi technicians installing 14 new machines for manufacturing 75-millimetre lenses with a military use. The crates were marked "Republic of Belarus, Vitebsk Machine Building Plant".
The Iraqi activity in Belarus is the most worrying evidence that Iraq is still pursuing a covert procurement program. It may not be the "smoking gun" that proves that Saddam has acquired the fissile material to build his bomb, but it is evidence that he is trying hard.
David Gelernter, in an essay called The Roots of European Appeasement, argues that with the end of the Cold War Europe's elites have reverted back to a 1920s mindset. In this analysis European impulses toward appeasement are driven by a self-hatred and a hatred of European Civilization that is a legacy of the First World War:
But suppose your attitudes were shaped, consciously or not, by the First World War and its aftermath. In that case, the lesson you'd take away would be very different: Whatever you do, never rush a war. Austria did not have to declare war against Serbia on July 28, 1914, but she was in a hurry to forestall proposed negotiations. Russia did not have to mobilize on the 30th, she was under no military threat, but she mobilized anyway. Germany did not have to go crashing into Belgium on August 4, she was in no danger of being overrun by hot-headed Flemings, but once she had mobilized (which she had to do because Russia had), her famous master-plan (to concentrate on the Western front, pivot through Belgium, and come down on France like a sledgehammer) would be exposed and rendered as useless as lightstruck film unless she hit right away.
Some Europeans know these details and some do not. But what every educated European knows is that World War I could have been prevented if only Europe hadn't been in such a demented hurry to fight. And the graveyards of World War I are a permanent feature of the European landscape. In consequence and in tribute, many Europeans are against all war on principle--defensive or offensive, just or unjust, mandatory or frivolous; and they hate Western civilization into the bargain. Can you blame them? The contempt for Western ideas, morality, religion, and traditions that is so prominent among European intellectuals is not the sheer malice it sometimes seems. Europe has earned the right to hate herself. If things go wrong, a scratch can fester. A pardonable act of (at worst) bad judgment--to whoop up a war along with throngs of your fellow citizens--can turn to scalding remorse as the death toll rises and rises. And such quiet emotions as private remorse can reshape history, when you sum up over a whole civilization.
This frantic compulsion to do nothing was countermanded by the Second World War and the Cold War--both of which centered on totalitarian tyrannies. That Iraq is more like these tyrannies than it is like Imperial Germany seems not to matter to the world's Continental Thinkers, who dominate the opinion-making elite nearly everywhere.
The US, having come much later to the First World War, and having had a very different experience with it, does not have the same historical interpretation of war influencing its culture. While quite a few American intellectuals share the European view its not widely held by the American public at large. One is hard put to find a similar American experience. America's Vietnam debacle resulted in American casualties that were a very small fraction of what Europe experienced in the First World War. To find an even roughly comparable US historical experience one needs to go all the way back to the US Civil War. But Americans did not interpret that experience in any way analogous to how Europeans interpreted the First World War in large part because the causes and outcome of the US Civil War were so different.
Condoleezza Rice wrote this article for January/February 2000 issue of Foreign Affairs in order to present the Bush position on foreign affairs for the 2000 US Presidential election campaign. Its fairly long and covers many foreign policy topics. Here's an excerpt about Iraq and North Korea that illustrates that while 9/11 may have accelerated Bush Administration foreign policy plans it has not changed their direction as much as many observers believe:
As history marches toward markets and democracy, some states have been left by the side of the road. Iraq is the prototype. Saddam Hussein's regime is isolated, his conventional military power has been severely weakened, his people live in poverty and terror, and he has no useful place in international politics. He is therefore determined to develop WMD. Nothing will change until Saddam is gone, so the United States must mobilize whatever resources it can, including support from his opposition, to remove him.
The regime of Kim Jong Il is so opaque that it is difficult to know its motivations, other than that they are malign. But North Korea also lives outside of the international system. Like East Germany, North Korea is the evil twin of a successful regime just across its border. It must fear its eventual demise from the sheer power and pull of South Korea. Pyongyang, too, has little to gain and everything to lose from engagement in the international economy. The development of WMD thus provides the destructive way out for Kim Jong Il.
President Kim Dae Jung of South Korea is attempting to find a peaceful resolution with the north through engagement. Any U.S. policy toward the north should depend heavily on coordination with Seoul and Tokyo. In that context, the 1994 framework agreement that attempted to bribe North Korea into forsaking nuclear weapons cannot easily be set aside. Still, there is a trap inherent in this approach: sooner or later Pyongyang will threaten to test a missile one too many times, and the United States will not respond with further benefits. Then what will Kim Jong Il do? The possibility for miscalculation is very high.
Walter Russell Mead (he the author of Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How it Changed the World) has written a column in the Financial Times of London on the consistency of US foreign policy in the Bush Administration. The article goes on to describe just what is Rice's policy that Bush is closely following:
In the US and abroad, the consensus view of the Bush administration's foreign policy is twofold. First, it is shaped by a conflict between the liberal multilateralism of Colin Powell, secretary of state, and the conservative unilateralism of Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defence. Second, it constitutes a radical departure from the foreign policy of past administrations.
Wrong on both counts. Despite the public disagreements between the Pentagon and the State Department, the most striking thing about this administration's foreign policy is its intellectual consistency. The ideas that Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, outlined in a Foreign Affairs article in 2000 shape the administration's foreign policy today. In particular, Ms Rice laid down an approach to multilateralism versus unilateralism to which the administration has returned at every important moment since - and that forms the basis of the new US national security strategy.
(found on Instapundit)
Victor Davis Hanson argues that the rift between Americans and Europeans is due more to differences in culture than to differences in military strength or any specific policy disagreements. He claims the Cold War basically required that rather different cultures ally in order to deter the Soviets and with the end of that threat it is natural that emphasis would shift toward highlighting the differences.
These old American prejudices may no longer be shared by the elites who make our policy, but they are not for that reason to be dismissed. As it happens, such mistrusts are themselves deeply rooted in essential faultlines between the American sense of self and the European. Those differences lie in our separate histories and national characters, our different demographies, our different cultures, our different approaches to questions of class and economic mobility, our different conceptions of the individual and society, our different visions of the good life and of democracy—and our very different attitudes toward projecting outward our versions of freedom. All these historic antitheses may better explain the current acrimony than an imbalance of power—often more an epiphenomenon than the cause of rifts among nations.
Volumes have been written on each of these subjects, but we can agree on the fundamental elements of American exceptionalism. The experience of the frontier encouraged a sense of self-reliance and helped to define morality in terms of action rather than rhetoric. Having no history of monarchy, fascism, or Communism, we retain our founders’ original optimism about republican government, considering it not only critical to our own singular success but a form of political organization that should be emulated by others. The absence of a common race and religion encouraged us to treasure a necessary allegiance to common ideas and values, an allegiance that has so far outlasted the attenuating doctrines of multiculturalism and “diversity.”
Hansen concludes in stating that by ending a formal military alliance the US and Europe may be able to have more friendly relations.
Below are excerpts from a presentation Duelfer delivered to US Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Threats & Capabilities Armed Services Committee on February 27, 2002. Note in the first excerpt how dedicated the Iraqi leadership is to possession of WMD:
UNSCOM had long pressed Iraq to provide information and documents describing the requirements and operational concepts for the BW, CW, Ballistic Missile and nuclear programs. Iraq refused until shortly after Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamal defected to Jordan in August 1995. Hussein Kamal was the most senior regime official with control over these weapons programs. Baghdad was concerned about what Kamal would reveal and sought to limit the damage by a burst of controlled cooperation and admissions.
On September 18, 1995, I had a long, late night meeting with several senior Iraqi ministers and other officials. The meeting was arranged to discuss the Iraqi concepts and requirements for their WMD development and production programs. Previously, Baghdad had refused to engage in such a discussion. I remember the meeting quite well, not simply because there was an unusual amount of candor, but because I suddenly realized how unlikely it was that the government would ever comply fully with the UN demand to completely give up all WMD capabilities forever. Consequently, the UNSCOM inspectors had an ultimately hopeless task under the conditions it was permitted to operate.
Iraq revealed that evening how weapons of mass destruction were viewed from the position of the Presidency. (They even provided selected presidential documents.) Partial descriptions of the origin of WMD efforts were discussed. They also discussed how these programs had been used and their importance to the regime. In essence, the possession of WMD had saved the regime on two occasions. The first was in the war with Iran in the 1980's when Iranian human wave infantry attacks were repelled with chemical munitions (UNSCOM learned that 101,000 were reported "consumed" during this period).
The second instance where WMD preserved the regime was more surprising. I had asked about the decision by the Iraqi leadership not to employ WMD in the 1991 Gulf War. In a carefully worded response, the impression was conveyed that the President thought if Iraq used chemical or biological weapons against the coalition, retaliation would end his regime and probably him personally. He was successfully deterred. However, my interlocutors went on to describe how they had loaded BW and CW agent into various missile warheads and bombs before hostilities began in 1991. Moreover they dispersed these weapons and pre-delegated the authority to use them if the United States moved on Baghdad. The Iraqis stated that these actions apparently deterred the United States from going to Baghdad.
Whether the Iraqi leadership believes this was the only reason the United States did not go to Baghdad in 1991 is unknown. However, clearly they are convinced that the possession of WMD contributed to keeping the Americans away and thus was vital to their survival.
The Iraqi WMD programs, which were begun in the mid-1970's, and consumed large material and human resources throughout the 1980's were well worth the investment from the perspective of the leadership. It was difficult then and more difficult now, to imagine circumstances under which this regime would end these programs. Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said on more than one occasion, "You are not McArthur. You did not occupy Iraq. Therefore, there are limits to what you can do."
Then we come to thee Iraqi regime's willingness to develop and use biological weapons that can not be traced back to them:
It is difficult to understand why Iraq would produce and put into aerial bombs, aflatoxin. It has the effect of causing cancer over a period of several years. Experiments Iraq conducted in mixing aflatoxin with riot control agent appear particularly insidious as they would mask the exposure of individuals to this cancer causing agent.
The experiments with wheat smut are evidently aimed at developing economic weapons.
It was clear that Iraq understood that depending on the method of dispersal, the origin of the agent could be concealed. In other words, they understood the potential for conducting an attack that would be near impossible to connect to Baghdad as the responsible actor.
We have only two real choices in dealing with the Iraqi regime:
Below are excerpts from a statement by Richard O. Spertzel, VMD, Ph.D., former head of the biology section of the UN Special Commission on Iraq before the US House Armed Services Committee on the state of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. Spertzel delivered this statement Sept, 10, 2002.
The first excerpt recalls just how long Iraq has been pursuing the development of biological weapons. Note the intent from the beginning to develop biological weapons for terrorist and covert purposes:
Iraq's Biological Weapons Program, Then and Now: Iraq asserts that its BW program began in 1985 and dismisses the earlier BW investigations that began in late 1972/early 1973 as being insignificant. From its inception in the 1970s, Iraq's BW program included both military and terrorist applications. The program included bacteria, viruses, toxins, and agents causing plant diseases. The agents included lethal and incapacitating agents for humans and economic damaging agents. The program sought enhanced virulence, environmental and antibiotic resistance, and aerosol dispersion. In other words, this was a well planned, broadly encompassing program. The covert (terrorist and assassination) feature of Iraq's program was not actively pursued by UNSCOM.
BW Program under Intelligence Service/Special Security Organization: The evidence suggests that Iraq's BW program was under the Intelligence Service/SSO. Much of this information came from senior Iraqi personnel, during the course of interviews. Hard evidence as might be expected is lacking.
Iraq's BW program (and, initially, it appears its chemical weapons (CW) program as well) was founded and funded by Iraq's Intelligence Service with some limited technical input from Iraq's Ministry of Defense. A variety of cover organizations were used to conceal the program including the Ministries of Interior, Health, and Higher Education and Scientific Research. From its inception, there were two distinct interests for the program. One dealt with the pursuit of agents that had small scale, covert application and the other would have application to larger scale strategic/military purpose.
Note the development of aflatoxin. It has no purpose on conventional battlefields because its effects are long term.
BW Program End of 1990: By any definition, in 1990/1991, Iraq's BW program was in an accelerating expansion phase. Iraq's bacterial BW capabilities were reasonably well established, including its ability for production, concentration, spray drying, and delivery to produce a readily dispersable small particle aerosol. Iraq was well underway in establishing a virus research, development, and production capability, but had not reached weaponization potential. Iraq had demonstrated an anticrop capability. It had demonstrated a mycotoxin capability. Although there was no information on an anti-animal program, such agents were well within Iraq's capability. Along with its agent production, Iraq was developing a weapons delivery capability, apparently for both short range and intermediate range delivery. The agents included lethal, incapacitating, and agricultural biological warfare agents. There is a major disparity between the amount of agent declared as produced by Iraq and that estimated by UNSCOM experts.
A serious issue concerns Iraq's interest in and weaponization of aflatoxin. It is apparent that Iraq's interest was in its long-term carcinogenic and liver toxicity effect rather than any short-term effects. One can only wonder what was the intended target population.
Was UNSCOM effectual? Well, Iraq was expanding its biological weapons program during the UNSCOM inspections era:
Iraq's BW program in 1998: Although Iraq claims that it "obliterated" the program in 1991 (without the supervision by the UN as was set out in the ceasefire resolution 687, April 1991), and in so doing it destroyed all weapons and bulk agents unilaterally without any further documentation. The evidence indicates rather that Iraq continued to expand its BW capabilities. UNSCOM monitoring, while useful in hindering Iraq's program, was not successful in preventing some degree of continuation of Iraq's BW investigations.
Expert panels concluded that it was not certain that Iraq had indeed "obliterated" its BW program. Documentation recovered by UNSCOM indicated a continued build up of Iraq's BW program capability. The organizations associated with its BW program continued to acquire and attempted to acquire equipment that would enhance its BW capability.
A new inspection regime under the old rules last in effect 1998 with the same lack of support by the UN Security Council (ie with UNSC permanent members France, China, and Russia actively colluding with Saddam to keep the powers of the inspectors weak) would be a farce:
UNSCOM was able to generate a lot of evidence that Iraqi declarations were not accurate. As regards the accuracy and completeness of Iraq's declaration and the likelihood that it was continuing its BW program, nothing has occurred to change the opinion of the experts. Nor does it appear, in spite of the lip-service that is given to getting inspectors back into Iraq, that there has been any material change in the support that an inspection regime might expect from UNSC P5 members. It appears that most of the proposals for getting inspectors back into Iraq is based on the premise that "any inspectors are better than none." To be blunt, that is pure rubbish, just an illusion of inspections. Even while UNSCOM inspectors were still operable, Iraq was constantly trying to restrict monitoring inspectors activities, curb their access, and require notification of inspections, even to monitored sites. Such limitations to monitoring would make such a regime a farce; under such circumstances, monitoring inspectors would be worse than no inspectors because it would provide an inappropriate illusion of compliance to the world community. What countries really believe and what they will espouse are most likely two entirely different views. I was told by a senior diplomat in 1998 "it would not matter if you placed a BW-laden Al Hussein warhead that you found in Iraq on the UNSC table, it would not change opinions about lifting sanctions". He added "if the CW and missile files are closed, the world will not care about biology." It appears to me that this may still be the viewpoint of several nations.
Here Spertzel makes an incredibly important point: Monitoring teams are not set up for discovery. Saddam can hide things from monitoring teams because the teams lack sufficient powers of investigation and they are working in a country where the populace is far far more afraid of Saddam than they are of the inspectors. Also, I added emphasis to the final paragraph of this excerpt for what it says about the UN Security Council. The UNSC has a history of not supporting the inspection teams and the same permanent UNSC members which worked to undermine inspections in the past by tolerating Saddam's obstruction will do so again. The UNSC is useless for the purpose of trying to stop WMD proliferation.
Monitoring: Monitoring teams, unlike popular misperception, are not set up for discovery, e.g., finding undeclared sites or completing unfinished proscribed program investigations. Rather these teams were designed to be a deterrent to reconstituting a proscribed program using dual-use equipment at declared sites. In UNSCOM terminology this meant the large-scale military relevant programs; it did not address the very low-scale required for terrorist purposes. Implementation of monitoring by UNSCOM was predicated on Iraq fully and willingly cooperating with UNSCOM; that did not happen. Iraq would only give up and can be expected to give up only what the inspectors can find and prove.
It was also predicated on Iraq providing full and complete disclosure of its proscribed BW program; that did not happen. It was also predicated on Iraq making full and accurate disclosure of all facilities containing dual use equipment and capability; that did not happen.
To be effective, the monitoring system must pose a reasonable risk to Iraq of the monitoring system detecting violations of a significant scale. Even under the best of circumstances it would be almost impossible to detect small-scale research, development, and production of BW agents by a State determined to conduct such activities. Without a sense of certainty by Iraq that there would be severe repercussions by a united UNSC, monitoring does not have a chance of true success.A fundamental requirement for monitoring to be effective depends not only on having highly qualified inspectors but equally important on full support by the UNSC. Past history indicates that Iraq can hinder and in some cases outright block inspectors with impunity and then attempt to blame the incidents on the inspectors. The UNSC does not seem able to equate failure to cooperate with failure to comply.
In this section Spertzel hammers home the point that Saddam isn't just developing bioweapons for battlefield use. At the same time, it is extremely hard to trace back bioterrorism attacks to their point of origin. An example of Saddam's intent in this regard is his development of aflatoxin. So does Saddam want to be able to able to conduct attacks for which he can deny involvement? Seems obvious:
Bioterrorism Threat: The world's press in recent weeks has cited the opposition of most nations in the Middle East and Europe to any action against Iraq. It is cited that Iraq is weakened and does not pose any immediate and significant threat. It seems to me this does not address the terrorist threat posed by Iraq's WMD programs. One would think after 9/11, a more realistic appraisal of Iraq's capability and willingness to use WMD as terrorist weapons would be forthcoming. As I cited above, Iraq's BW program from its inception included a terrorist component.
The threat that Iraq's BW program poses as a bioterrorist weapon to any of its perceived enemies is enormous. While much attention is focused on bioterrorism against people, the economic devastation that could be wreaked on the food animal or food crop industry may be far greater in the long term effect. Clearly the greater danger for the US at home and abroad that is posed by Iraq's WMD activities is the potential for its use in terrorism, whether by Iraq directly or through support to terrorist organizations. Should Iraq be involved with using its BW expertise in bioterrorist activities, it may be impossible to find a "smoking gun" that would implicate Iraq. BW agents are unlikely to have a signature that will definitively pinpoint a laboratory or a country as the origin.
Concern for BW terrorism is not limited to immediate manifestation of such uses. It is worth recalling Iraq's developing and alleged weaponization of aflatoxin. Such an agent has no military relevant application and would only have relevance where an enemy did not know it was attacked or could not fight back. Iraq has shown a willingness to use CW agents on its neighbor and its own population, might it also have used or intended to use aflatoxin on such defenseless populations? It takes ten years or more for aflatoxin to manifest its carcinogenic and liver damaging effects.2
Spertzel thinks Saddam's Bioweapons threat is greater now than in 1990 and in very dangerous ways. The added ability to do genetic engineering to pathogens is frightening:
It has had 12 years to advance its viral capability and, as I have cited elsewhere, this almost certainly includes smallpox as an agent. Even more ominous is Iraq's successful efforts to acquire the necessary equipment and reagents for adding genetic engineering to its BW repertoire. This was particularly alarming because, at the same time, key personnel in Iraq's virus and bioengineering BW program were no longer functional at their stated work locations. There is no doubt in my mind that Iraq has a much stronger BW program today than it had in 1990. Perhaps of most concern would be anthrax and tularemia bacteria and smallpox virus as well as antianimal and anticrop agents.
Here's a mental exercise: Suppose the US was not willing to attack Iraq if the UN Security Council refused to approve the attack. Well, that would give Russia, China, and France veto power over the attack. Would the leaders of those nations use the veto power? Certainly. Why? They each want to get paid the money that Saddam Hussein owes them. Plus, they want to make more arms sales to Iraq and other sales using their special relationships with Saddam. Plus, they all to varying degrees want to thwart the US and prevent any extension of US power and influence.
However, it is quite possible that the Bush Administration may succeed in striking deals with Russia, France, and Iraq to get them to withhold their UN Security Council vetoes. Why? Its very simple: The Bush Administration has made it clear that the US will invade Iraq with or without UN Security Council approval. Once the leaders of Russia, China, and France became convinced that Bush had sufficient resolve and power to carry out the attack on Iraq even without UN support these leaders realized they were faced with the question of whether it was really worth it to each of them to veto the Bush Administration's Iraq UN Security Council resolutions for largely symbolic reasons.
The alternative open to the leaders of these three nations is to shift gear and negotiate for concessions from the US in exchange for withholding their vetoes. Whether they can win any concessions from the Bush Administration depends on what the Bush Administration believes it gains from winning UN Security Council approval. In order words, what is UN approval worth to the Bush Administration? Lets look at the pluses and minuses of UN approval. Well, first of all, if Bush can achieve UN approval he makes life easier on Tony Blair for his symbolic and military support for the attack. Blair is in a tough position with a public a substantial portion of which believes all the cowboy cliches about Bush as the reckless American hawk. Much of this same public has more trust of the UN the US (a view I regard as wholly irrational but there it is). Granted, the US can go on without the UK's help. But Blair has stuck his neck out for Bush and I suspect Bush feels some loyalty toward Blair as a result. That's probably the biggest single reason to bargain with the Chinese, Russian, and French leaders.
The other advantage Bush gains from favorable UN Security Council votes is domestic. There are Americans who'd be more comfortable with a US invasion of Iraq if the UN Security Council approved it (again, this seems more like romantic delusion than an accurate rational appraisal of the nature of the UN and its most powerful Security Council members). My guess is that since Bush already can win Congressional support for the invasion the US domestic considerations are not crucial in his thinking. In fact, there is even an argument for going ahead without UN approval: doing so makes it easier to go ahead and conduct other preemptive strikes (eg against Iran or Libya) later. Plus, the precedent of acting without UN approval makes any demands and threats (public or private) he wants to make to such regimes as Iran, Libya, and North Korea far more credible. That credibility, in turn, could be very useful in convincing those regimes to give up their WMD programs.
To sum this up: It is Bush's willingness to use unilateral force that has created the conditions that will most likely lead to "multilateral" approval from the UN Security Council. If and when that approval is forthcoming then to some superficial observers it will seem that the US has bowed to the need for approval from a transnational institution before acting. But even if some come to the erroneous conclusion that the UN (really just China, Russia, and France) ultimately made the decision to attack Iraq it is clear that the motives of the UN powers have nothing to do with the best interests of the world at large or with the safety and security of the West. So an unfortunate side effect of a UN approval may be to paint the UN with a gloss of legitimacy that it does not deserve. But at the same time the UN approval will help Bush's ally Blair in domestic British politics.
My guess is that the Bush Administration will win the UN approval it seeks and in large part because it really doesn't need the approval in the first place. My further guess is that most of Bush's top advisors have ambiguous feeling about the desireability of this likely outcome.
Margaret Wente of Canada's Globe And Mail has some great comments from some former UN Iraq weapons inspectors. She starts with Charles Duelfer, former UN' deputy chief weapons inspector in Iraq. Duelfer thinks a new inspections regime would fail. He also thinks we shouldn't assume that Saddam will make nuclear use calculations that we would make:
Okay, then. So what if Saddam gets nukes? He'd never dare to use them. Or so the peace faction says.
"We make the mistake of believing that he thinks like we do," said Mr. Duelfer. "But he believes that, if he had a nuke, then no one would threaten him. He knows he got it backward in 1990. He was six months away from having an atomic weapon when he invaded Kuwait. If he goes into Kuwait again, are we going to attack Baghdad if we think he will incinerate Tel Aviv?"
She also quotes Richard Spertzel and then David Kay:
David Kay, another former UN inspector, was in charge of nuclear weapons. "Saddam's Iraq was and is a brutal, totalitarian dictatorship that can survive as long as it maintains coercive power over its citizens," he testified before Congress last month. "Once Saddam's survival became a fact, all hope of his voluntarily yielding up the very weapons that allow him to hope to dominate the region was lost." Mr. Kay figures more delays only play into Saddam's hands.
Then she quotes Kenneth Pollack. Do go read the full article.
Kenneth Pollack argues that the absence of a smoking gun on Iraq is not a reason to let Saddam Hussein off the hook. The preponderance of circumstantial evidence on Iraq's activities is compelling:
Former CIA analyst and national security aide Kenneth Pollack, who urges a U.S. invasion to overthrow Hussein, said reports throughout the last year alleging Iraqi ties to the Sept. 11 attacks, anthrax-laced letters and an al-Qaida enclave in northern Iraq weren't helpful.
"There's no smoking gun in any of the reports. Nobody has a smoking gun on Saddam," said Pollack, who is research director at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy with the Washington-based Brookings Institution. "But when you look at the evidence, it does start to paint a compelling picture. Any prosecutor will tell you most of his convictions are built on circumstantial evidence."
Dr. Robert B. Gagosian, President and Director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, has written an article about the prospects of abrupt climate change. The most probable way for this to happen would be for the large flows in the oceans to suddenly shift to a different pattern. This is believed to have happened as recently as 500 years ago in the North Atlantic. There are worrisome signs that it could happen again:
At some point, the North Atlantic will no longer absorb any more fresh water. It will begin to pile up on the surface. When that happens, the Great Ocean Conveyor will be clogged. It will back up and cease functioning.
The very recent freshening signal in the North Atlantic is arguably the biggest and most dramatic change in ocean property that has ever been measured in the global ocean. Already, surface waters in the Greenland Sea are sinking at a rate 20 percent slower than in the 1970s.
At what percent will the Ocean Conveyor stop? 25 percent? 40 percent? 60 percent? This is not like a dimmer switch, but more like a light switch. It probably goes from “on” to “off.”
We can’t yet determine the precise source or sources of this additional fresh water. Global warming may be melting glaciers, or Arctic sea ice. In recent decades, the volume of Arctic sea ice has decreased by 40 percent. And if North Atlantic sinking slows down, less salty Gulf Stream waters flow northward—which exacerbates the situation.
Dallas Fed Research Director Harvey Rosenblum believes that just as there is a lag time between monetary expansion and inflation there is a similar lag time between asset price collapses and a wider deflationary pressure. He is concerned that the anecdotal evidence and the predictions of economic models don't match:
Like McTeer on Monday, Rosenblum put heavy emphasis on the value of anecdotal information on the economy's health, particularly since long-accepted economic models are proving an unreliable policy guide.
"When they start telling me things consistently that aren't being told by the economic modelers, I've learned the hard way over the years that I need to pay attention to that,"
James C. Bennett makes the case for a formal declaration of war:
A declaration of war, in contrast, is a well-defined and well-understood action. The war powers of the presidency have been defined and tested in a long series of historical actions. Likewise, the oversight powers of Congress in wartime have been well-established by precedent. Many of the actions against domestic terror suspects, now somewhat problematic under law, would then be placed in the context of well-established precedents for dealing with such issues.
Above all, a declaration of war would signal to the American people and to the armed forces that the republic was fully in earnest, and would not stop until the job had been done. The administration may shrink from seeking a declaration from concern that, if it were to fail, it would prevent any effective action thereafter. However, seeking a declaration would elevate the issue to a level of seriousness that would in fact increase its chances of passage. Rather than seek to set conditions upon a resolution, as at present, Congress would be better occupied creating a resolution regarding war aims, which would be useful to the struggle.
It may even be possible to get a formal declaration of war out of Congress. But what exactly would that formal declaration would be declared against? I think the US needs to seriously consider toppling the Libyan and Iranian regimes before they develop nuclear weapons. But to extend the formal declaration to them would tip the Administration's hand in terms of its longer term plans and there are tactical reasons not to do that. Most notably the US and British Navies need to be able to operate in the Persian Gulf without coming under attack from the Iranians.
David Warren, a columnist for the Ottawa Citizen, argues that the negotiations about UN Security Council Resolutions on Iraq is not chiefly about whether there should be one or two resolutions or even about the authorization for the use of force on the second resolution. The real secret discussions with China, France, and Russia are about what they might gain or lose by a fall of Saddam's regime.
The French, Russians, and Chinese, each among Saddam's major trading partners, and each owed billions by the present Iraqi regime, are thus each in a position to lose heavily if Saddam falls. It is among the reasons they feel uncomfortable with a resolution that Saddam could not possibly comply with -- since they know as well as anybody else that Saddam indeed harbours weapons of mass destruction.
From this I deduce that even more effort is being put into the terms of secret buy-offs, than into the exact configuration of the resolution text. If each of the veto powers are satisfied that their interests in Iraq can be transferred to any new regime, then it will be "all aboard". If they can't be satisfied, then one or more will pull the emergency cord before the train can leave station.
Russia in particular is looking for a green light from the Bush Administration for the invasion of Georgia (the one in the Caucasus of course). This is the business as usual at the international community's favorite institution that they want to use to restrain US cowboy unilateralism. Why do so many fools have more respect the UN as a legitimate institution to exercise power internationally than they do for the duly elected government of the United States? The UN is a creature of its membership. Most of its member states are at varying degrees of unfree, corrupt, and despotic. Even out of its 140 members which are nominal democracies only 82 are in any sense liberal democracies and that is by the UN's own reckoning.
The article has some charts that are well worth a look. The chart that shows the percent annual change in aggregate lending tells a gruesome story. But Peter Tasker of Tokyo hedge fund Arcus Investment does not believe bad banks are the cause of the lack of new lending:
Mr Tasker questions the argument-common among analysts in Tokyo - that Japan's economy is suffering because banks are lending to the weakest companies and neglecting young, promising ones. He points to evidence that US and European banks operating in Japan without bad loans are also shrinking their lending base. "I don't really accept that there are high-quality options for lenders out there that are not being funded," he says. "If there was genuine demand for capital, you would have high interest rates, which you simply don't have."
This seems like a compelling argument. The alternative explanation is that a shrinking money supply and the deflation that it causes is making too many businesses unprofitable and hence not worthy to be recipients of loans.
Could the Bank Of Japan reflate the economy? Well, they can't do it by lowering interest rates. But they could more aggressively buy up public debt. They could buy all new debt issues of the Japanese government while simultaneously buying up government debt that is in other hands. The government could cut taxes and have the BoJ buy up all the increased government debt that results from the tax cuts.
Mark Steyn says the Democrats are horribly conflicted about the war and that the UK Labour Party's divisions are simple in comparison. Here are some of Mark Steyn's sort of against the war factions of the Democratic Party:
Faction B (the Paul Wellstone option) is also anti-war but trying hard not to have to say so between now and election day in November.
Faction C (the Al Gore option) was pro-war when it was Bill Clinton in charge but anti-war now there's a Republican rallying the troops.
Faction D (the Hillary Rodham option) can go either way but remains huffily insistent that to ask them to express an opinion would be to "politicize" the war.
Faction E (the John Kerry option) can't quite figure which position alienates least of their supporters and so articulates a whole all-you-can-eat salad bar of conflicting positions and then, in a weird post-modern touch, ostentatiously agonizes over the "inherent risks" in each of them.
He also provides a great take on Tom Daschle's ranting on the Senate floor as a result of the position that Al Gore's anti-war speech put him in.
A new book is out that argues the very pessimistic view of Islam that I already agree with: Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith by Robert Spencer.
Rod Dreher on National Review quotes from the book in his own fairly positive review of it:
"It would be too pessimistic to say that there are no peaceful strains of Islam, but it would be imprudent to ignore the fact that deeply imbedded in the central documents of the religion is an all-encompassing vision of a theocratic state that is fundamentally different from and opposed to the post-Enlightenment Christian values of the West."
From the Booklist review quoted on Amazon:
Besides the facts Spencer presents, his citations of the Qur'an; the hadiths, or sayings and deeds of Muhammad; and Islamic authorities across the liberal-to-fundamentalist spectrum verify attitudes and practices that secular Westerners and present-day Jews and Christians don't think of as peaceable, just, or decent. For instance, slavery and polygamy may be waning in Islamic societies, but they aren't disapproved of or banned because the Qur'an and hadiths endorse them. Islam hasn't adapted to change nearly as much as Judaism and Christianity have, and that accounts for its savage relations with the West. Spencer doesn't see either Islam moderating or the West regarding Islam realistically any time soon. Barring "some wondrous intervention from the Merciful One," he concludes, the immediate future "will be difficult." Alarmingly cogent.
From the Amazon book description:
In "Islam Unveiled," Robert Spencer dares to face the hard questions about what the Islamic religion actually teaches--and the potentially ominous implications of those teachings for the future of both the Muslim world and the West. Going beyond the shallow distinction between a "true" peaceful Islam and the "hijacked" Islam of terrorist groups, Spencer probes the Koran and Islamic traditions (as well as the history and present-day situation of the Muslim world) as part of his inquiry into why the world's fastest growing faith tends to arouse fanaticism.
"Islam Unveiled" evaluates the relationship between Islamic fundamentalism and "mainstream" Islam; the fixation with violence and jihad; the reasons for Muslims' disturbing treatment of women; and devastating effects of Muslim polygamy and Islamic divorce laws. Spencer explores other daunting questions--why the human rights record of Islamic countries is so unrelievedly grim and how the root causes of this record exist in basic Muslim beliefs; why science and high culture died out in the Muslim world--and why this is a root cause of modern Muslim resentment. He evaluates what Muslims learn from the life of Muhammad, the man that Islam hails as the supreme model of human behavior. Above all, this provocative work grapples with the question that most preoccupies us today: can Islam create successful secularized societies that will coexist peacefully with the West's multicultural mosaic?
About the Author
Robert Spencer is an adjunct fellow of the Free Congress Foundation and a Board member of the Christian-Islamic Forum. His articles on Islam and a wide variety of other topics have appeared in "Human Events," CNSNews.com, National Review Online, "Chronicles," and "Crisis." He has studied Islam for over twenty years.
Fellow Americans you are very mean people:
Although the European Union is a baroque collection of institutions, regulations and formalism designed to transform narrow national interests into collective policies, feelings still count -- and European feelings have been badly bruised in recent months. The Europeans say the administration views them as "Euro wimps" who don't pull their weight militarily, and who prefer prevarication to plain-speaking and appeasement to action. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's recent appearance at a NATO meeting in Warsaw, during which he snubbed the German defense minister because of Schroeder's strong opposition to military action against Iraq, was the latest insult.
So let me get this straight: hurling insults at American unilateral Hitleresque cowboys is fair and justified but dare to snub a German defense minister and then important feelings will be quite hurt. American leaders and commentators are obviously a bunch of meanies. Okay, everyone clear on that? The Brussels Mandarins have very sensitive feelings. We must pursue a more gingerly foreign policy or they will feel really really hurt.
While they welcomed Bush's decision to seek a new U.N. Security Council resolution on weapons inspections -- and give Britain's Blair credit for helping guide Bush in that direction -- they fear that the administration is only using the council as justification for military action, and will go ahead even without U.N. assent.
"It was wholly legitimate for President Bush to go to the United Nations and to challenge the international community to make good on what it says it believes," said Patten. "But that's just not for one day. It's got to be for real."
A reality check is in order: By the UN what is meant is the UN Security Council. Well, that really breaks down into the 5 permanent voting members: France, China, Russia, US, UK. What about those 5? Well, the first 3 spent the 1990s gutting the Iraqi weapons inspection regime in collaboration with Saddam. Those 3 currently are opposed to making a more effective weapons inspection regime while the hosannah chorus of international institution lovers sing about the evils of unilateralism. Its really hard to take this kind of hypocrisy seriously and yet the EU mandarins whose feelings are hurt speak with seeming oblivion to their hypocrisy while they ignore the fundamental fact that the UN will act contrary to the needs of US national security.
Update: Just remembered one other thing about permanent UN Security Council member China: The USAF and RAF are busy trying to destroy the fiber optics network and radars that China sold to Saddam and helped him to install. This surely just scratches the surface of what those fine permanent UN Security Council members have been doing with Saddam over the last 10 years.
By first saying that UN weapons inspectors could return with no preconditions, and then rejecting any new UN rules governing the inspectors' work, Mr. Hussein appears to be returning to the old pattern of strategic obfuscation that marked many of his actions both before and after the 1991 Gulf War.
The reason he doesn't want new inspection rules is that by playing a game of brinkmanship with the help of France, China and Russia he was gradually able to water down the old inspection regime so that the final rules of the previous regime made it easy for him to hide things from the inspectors. As long as the old rules are retained the inspectors won't be very effective.
Stanley Kurtz continues to find much to agree with in Kenneth Pollack's book The Threatening Storm. In Kurtz's latest he explains that the argument for preemption is not being made clearly and the political reasons why this is so. First, the argument for why preemption is necessary:
There are two reasons why Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons: First, because he may pass them to terrorists, or his own intelligence agents, for use against the United States. Second, because once in possession of nuclear weapons, Saddam will move to take control of the Gulf and subject America to nuclear blackmail. Some believe that Saddam's fear of nuclear retaliation will make him hold back from another move on Kuwait. But Saddam sees the matter in reverse. If he takes Kuwait before we can stop him, he will force the United States to decide between ceding him control of the region's oil supplies, and an invasion that would surely result in a nuclear strike by Saddam against either our troops, our cities, the Saudi oil fields, or all of these. Thus threatened, the United States may indeed be forced to back down and grant Saddam control of the world's oil. This is why Saddam has sacrificed all in pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
Jerry Seper in the Washington Times has written a 5 part series on border control and illegal immigration.
The day-night vision cameras are linked to command centers equipped with video monitors, which allow agents to scour the southern edges of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Thousands of sensitive electronic sensors, hidden along hundreds of miles of suspected alien trails, send signals — when triggered — to designated cameras.
Command-center personnel immediately can dispatch field agents to intercept the illegal aliens or drug smugglers.
I wonder whether UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) equipped with infrared sensors would be a more cost effective way to watch for illegals crossing at night. Seems they could look over a lot more territory than ground-based sensors. Warm human bodies would stand on an infrared sensor at night in cold deserts.
Part 2: 'We are overwhelmed'
"We are a small rural hospital funded by Congress to take care of our Native American population," said Darrell W. Rumley, director of the Sells Indian Hospital, which serves the nation's 25,500 members. "We are the only hospital between Tucson and Yuma, serving an area about the size of Connecticut.
"But we are required by law to treat those who present themselves for care, including the illegal aliens who show up on their own and those being brought here by the federal government. Over the last few years, their numbers have been going up in a big way," he said. "We're doing what we can to survive."
Mr. Rumley's situation is not unique.
Part 4: Border Wars: Helping is hurting
Mexican drug lords, backed by corrupt Mexican military officers and police officials, will move tons of marijuana, cocaine and heroin this year over rugged desert trails to accomplices in Phoenix and Tucson for shipment to willing buyers throughout the United States.
Humane Borders, based in Tucson, was established in June 2000 for what its founder, the Rev. Robin Hoover, said was to create "a just and humane border environment."
Mr. Hoover, pastor of Tucson's First Christian Church, said the group is committed to responding with humanitarian assistance to those who risk their lives crossing the border and to the creation of public policies toward a "humane, nonmilitarized border" with work opportunities for migrants in the United States.
"What the hell are we doing out here?" asked one veteran agent. "Why don't we just pack it in? Amnesty? It's just an open invitation for more illegal aliens to come into the country, stay low for a while and, eventually, get their citizenship papers.