2002 December 30 Monday
ParaPundit Predictions For 2003

The act of making predictions is a good way to test one's knowledge and understanding of the world. Of course, there are some causes of history that are either so accidental or so complex (or both) that on many subjects even the most informed prediction is really no more than guesswork. With that in mind I will try to guess on subjects that I think I have a better chance of being right about.

Middle East, Islamic countries, an war on terror:

  • The US-led attack on Iraq will go ahead without a second UN Security Council resolution.
  • The attack will commence in February 2003.
  • Saddam Hussein will be out of power by March 30, 2003. He will most likely be dead.
  • No Arab nation will experience a revolt in response to the attack.
  • Turkey and the United States will both have a long term troop presence in Iraq.
  • Once the US and its allies are in control of Iraq they will find evidence of smallpox and other biological weapons development programs along with nuclear and chemical weapons development programs. This will undermine belief in the efficacy of UN inspections.
  • The US and its allies will also find evidence of help for the Iraqi weapons programs from other governments such as either Pakistan or North Korea as well as help in return from Iraq to those governments. Libya will be in the list of governments that have cooperated with Iraq in WMD development. The full extent of those links will be revealed as a result of US and allied forces interviews of Iraqi weapons scientists, intelligence operatives, and high Saddam regime officials. Extensive help from Western and especially German companies will also be detailed.
  • The invasion of Iraq will unearth evidence of WMD development programs in other states. Foremost among them will be Libya. Though this may not be made public and so my prediction may not be provable.
  • Extensive Iraqi support for Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorism will also be uncovered as a result of the invasion of Iraq.
  • Turkey will benefit financially from Iraq oil production.
  • Iraq oil production will be reduced by the war but should be at the 2.5-3.0 million barrel per day level by the end of 2003.
  • A biological, chemical or nuclear terrorist attack will take place some time in 2003.
  • The House Of Saud will remain in power in Saudi Arabia.
  • Once the US has consolidated its hold on Iraq the United States government will begin to apply more diplomatic pressure to the Saudis to cut back financial flows to Al Qaeda.
  • Internal opposition by itself will not be enough to remove the mullahs from power in Iran. The mullahs have a more effective and ruthless mechanism of internal repression than the Shah of Iran did. (really hope I'm wrong about this one)
  • Democratization will make little head-way in the Middle East outside of Iraq. Iraq's experiment in democracy faces poor odds of success and the US government will not understand the depth of the societal change in Iraq that is needed in order to give democratization a real chance to produce anything resembling a liberal democracy.
  • The fall of Saddam Hussein's regime will create an opportunity for Islamic organizations to make in-roads in operating Iraqi schools and other institutions. An initially slow but pronounced trend toward Islamization will take hold in Iraq. Initially the Bush Administration will not recognize the long-term threat that it constitutes.
  • The number of children in Islamic countries undergoing fundamentalist Islamic Madrassah education will not go down in 2003.


  • The US will attempt to organize a wider range of economic sanctions against North Korea and will achieve at least partial success in lining up support. The support for doing this will become greater once the full extent of Iraqi weapons development programs and their links to development programs in other nations become understood.
  • The US will continue to find China very unwilling to cooperate to restrain North Korea and this will put a big chill on US-China relations.
  • The United States will get more cooperation from Russia than from China to block the export of nuclear weapons technology.
  • The US will not succeed in getting the UN Security Council to approve sanctions against North Korea. China will veto any resolution that authorizes sanctions.
  • North Korea's deteriorating economic condition will spur the North Korean leadership to make additional threats.
  • The US will beef up its military presence in the Western Pacific in response to North Korean regime threats. This may include the construction of B-2 bomber hangers in Guam or somewhere else in the Western Pacific.
  • The North Korean regime will not be overthrown by coup or popular revolt. It will be overthrown by a US coaltion only if it first attacks South Korea or Japan or mobilizes in preparation for an attack.
  • Australian special forces participation with the US against Iraq will win them a big push from the Bush Administration for a trade agreement and increased military cooperation.

Economic Outlook:

  • The global economic growth rate will stay below long term trend lines. There will be no robust recovery.
  • The economies of France, Italy, and the UK will all out-perform Germany.
  • The economy of the United States will outperform the European Union area.
  • Brazil's economy will follow the path of Argentina into crisis and recession.
  • The US stock market will close no higher at the end of 2003 than it was at the end 2002.
  • The European Central Bank will cut interest rates.
  • The rate of corporate bankruptcies in the US will continue at a fast pace though the total dollar value will probably be less than in 2002. Airlines, retail and energy will all see major bankruptcies.
  • The Japanese economy will contract or grow by less than 1%. Basically, no real recovery.

United States Domestic Politics:

  • Federal and state budget deficits will block many pressures for new and increased government spending programs.
  • No Social Security reform bill will be passed by Congress.
  • No bill will pass that grants illegal immigrants residency.
  • No new tax cuts will be passed. But some already passed cuts which were scheduled for out years will be brought in to earlier years. Its possible some other tax modifications that are effectively targeted cuts will be added to the bill that changes the schedule for cuts. So I guess this isn't such a strong prediction.
  • Many states will raise taxes to cover huge deficits.
  • Many states will lay off government workers of all sorts and cut social programs and capital spending (eg roads) budgets.
  • Rising ranks of medically uninsured will collide with rising costs of government health care for the poor and the state level fiscal crisis to cancel each other out and no initiatives to increase government spending for health care will pass. Tax advantaged medical spending accounts will attract some attention. They won't pass either.
  • Post-Iraq the Bush Administration may decide that it needs more domestic policy initiatives. It will not have a next dramatic international move to make that will make the public see it as proactive internationally. So it will need more of a domestic agenda.
  • The US Federal budget deficit will be larger in 2003 than it was in 2002.
By Randall Parker 2002 December 30 05:48 PM 
Entry Permalink | Comments(8)
2002 December 29 Sunday
Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World

Jim Hoagland has written a quick review of the foreign policy books of 2002 that he found most noteworthy. Particularly interesting is Margaret Olwen MacMillan's Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World.

MacMillan shows that the conventional analysis of the allegedly overly harsh treatment of Germany in defeat is wide of the mark. The partly defeated aggressors were left aggrieved but still powerful enough to seek and obtain revenge and domination. That was the great mistake of 1919, and of 1991.

"Hitler did not wage war because of the Treaty of Versailles, although he found its existence a godsend for his propaganda. Even if Germany had been left with its old borders, even if had been allowed whatever military forces it wanted" and much else besides, MacMillan writes, "he would have still wanted more," including the destruction of Poland, the Soviet Union and Jews everywhere.

The Washington Post has an excerpt from the book focusing on Woodrow Wilson.

Wilson's career was a series of triumphs, but there were darker moments, both personal and political, fits of depression and sudden and baffling illnesses. Moreover, he had left behind him a trail of enemies, many of them former friends. "An ingrate and a liar," said a Democratic boss in New Jersey in a toast. Wilson never forgave those who disagreed with him. "He is a good hater," said his press officer and devoted admirer Ray Stannard Baker. He was also stubborn. As House said, with admiration: "Whenever a question is presented he keeps an absolutely open mind and welcomes all suggestion or advice which will lead to a correct decision. But he is receptive only during the period that he is weighing the question and preparing to make his decision. Once the decision is made it is final and there is an absolute end to all advice and suggestion. There is no moving him after that." What was admirable to some was a dangerous egotism to others. The French ambassador in Washington saw "a man who, had he lived a couple of centuries ago, would have been the greatest tyrant in the world, because he does not seem to have the slightest conception that he can ever be wrong."

John Keegan has written a review.

So frequently do current events, particularly in the Balkans but also in the Middle East, take us back to the Paris Peace Conference that MacMillan's book often reads like a commentary on the daily newspaper. Does the newspaper reader wonder why Serbs and Croats are ready to fight over trivial slivers of territory, or why the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs of Iraq are happy not to be ruled by Baghdad, or why the Czechs and Slovaks, after living together in apparent amity for 80 years, have recently decided to go their separate ways? MacMillan, a professor of history at the University of Toronto, explains the reasons.

Hew Strachan has written a review in Foreign Affairs of both 1919 and of 14-18: Understanding the Great War. Of the reviews linked to in this post Strachan's is the most interesting.

Whereas 14-18 is a slim, distilled work, MacMillan's Paris 1919 is more weighty -- a sustained study of six months' hectic negotiating as the allies tried to reach consensus among themselves on the demands that they would make of the defeated Central Powers. The fact that the peace settlement could not deliver on the more utopian strains in its agenda was not itself, MacMillan argues, the cause for its ultimate failure. Nor would she agree with the authors of 14-18, who believe that the undoing of the peace conference lay in the contradiction implicit in the participants' use of World War I to justify the proceedings while endeavoring to make war impossible in the future. Rather, MacMillan is much more indulgent of the statesmen of 1919. She believes that the failure of Versailles was due less to the bickering, vengefulness, and far-flung sentiments prevalent in 1919 than to the irresolution of the negotiators' successors and their unwillingness to enforce the settlement's terms.

Writing in the LA Times William I. Hitchcock argues the book and recent history demonstrate that lasting peace is very difficult to achieve.

MacMillan's fine work reminds us just how hard it is, even for great powers, to hammer swords into plowshares. Today, at a time of unprecedented American power and global reach, our record of manufacturing peace has not been especially strong either. Those recent settlements that have worked, such as in Bosnia and Kosovo, have held together only because of the presence of large numbers of U.S. and NATO soldiers to enforce an uneasy truce. In Afghanistan, our efforts at nation building are incomplete at best. In Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, half a century of determined peacemaking efforts have gone unredeemed. Meanwhile, there are some 60 armed conflicts going on in the world today, and the United States is either powerless or unwilling to stop them.

The failure of the post-WWI settlement to prevent another war should be viewed as a lesson in humility for our own efforts to change the direction of the political development in other countries. The upcoming US invasion of Iraq will result in a much more total defeat of the Iraqi regime than the defeat that Germany suffered in WWI. The occupation of Iraq will therefore provide the United States with a much greater ability to reshape that society than the victors were able to do to Germany after the first world war. However, that does not guarantee that the United States will ultimately be successful in transforming Iraqi society and politics to the degree that some war advocates now predict will be possible. The cultural differences between Germany and the other Western powers were not as great as the differences between Iraq and the West today. Some of the differences (eg Islam and tribally oriented family structure) make the creation of liberal democracy in Iraq very problematic.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 29 01:24 AM 
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
2002 December 28 Saturday
Turkey Wants Iraq Oil Share From US

Turkey is driving a hard bargain in exchange for Turkish support in the coming US military campaign for regime change in Iraq.

The Turkish daily Sabah said yesterday that Turkey informed the US officially that it wants a share of the Iraqi oil at a rate of 10%, noting that in case that Washington approves the said request, Ankara will get a 5.5 billion dollars of the oil revenues annually.

The Turkish demand has its basis in a 1926 treaty between Turkey, Great Britain and Iraq. Turkey has never fully renounced its claim to Mosul.

On 5 June 1926, Turkey signed an agreement with Great Britain and Iraq, according to which Iraqi sovereignty on the vilayet of Mosul was acknowledged. In exchange, Turkey should receive 10% of the income produced by oil extraction in the area for 25 years. The Turkish Parliament ratified the agreement but Turkey never totally renounced to sovereignty over Mosul. President Demirel stated in 1995: 'Mosul still belongs to us, and security of Turkey requires definition of new borders with Iraq.'

Many Mosul area Kurds in the 1920s decided they'd be better off under Iraq than under Turkey due to harsh Turkish treatment of the Kurds.

Sheik Said of Piran led a major uprising in February 1925 aimed at the creation of an independent Kurdish state. The Turkish army crushed Sheik Said's rebellion by the end of April 19259 but the effects of this rebellion remained on Turkish foreign policy. At the time, there was disagreement between the Turkish government and the United Kingdom, which had Iraq under its mandate, over the town of Mosul which had oil resources. The Turkish authorities believed that the United Kingdom was inciting the Kurds of Turkey to put pressure on Turkey to give up the oil resources of Mosul. However, it would not be in the interest of the British to encourage such an uprising in Turkish Kurdistan which aimed at the formation of an independent Kurdish state. The creation of an independent Kurdish state in the north of Kurdistan would threaten the territorial integrity of Iraq which was under the British mandate and had its own Kurdish minority. The Kurds in Iraq, apart from their rich oil resources, were essential for the United Kingdom to make up the balance of power in Iraq, and to force the Iraqi government into submission.10 In fact, the defeat of the Sheik Said rebellion was in the interest of the United Kingdom.

The bloody suppression of the Kurds by the Turkish government had its effect on the status of Mosul. The harsh measures against the Kurds of Turkey compelled many Kurds of Mosul vilayet to favour joining the Iraqi state. This was a reason for the League of Nations to award Mosul to Iraq. This led to the Anglo-Turkish Treaty of June 1926, in which Mosul was annexed to Iraq. Turkey was the loser in that game but Britain and Turkey agreed that they would oppose the emergence of a Kurdish entity in Turkey while allowing it to happen in Iraq.11 The suppression of Sheik Said's rebellion and the fear of further Kurdish uprisings forced Turkey to soften its foreign policy and give up Mosul in exchange for the security of the existing borders. Sixteen of the eighteen articles of the Anglo-Turkish Treaty of June 1926 dealt with measures on border security and control of the Kurds.12 Turkey's stance with relation to the allies was not entirely antagonistic. During Sheik Said's uprising, the French permitted Turkey to use the Baghdad railway which passed through Syria to transport the Turkish troops13 This assisted Turkey's defeat of the Kurdish insurgency. Despite the defeat of Sheik Said the Kurds did not give up their hopes and further uprisings followed.

The Kurds are still a large portion of the population around the northern Iraqi oil fields in spite of Saddam's program of forcing the Kurds out of the area while bringing in Arabs to replace them. When Saddam's regime falls many of those displaced Kurds are going to want to return to the houses and apartments that they were evicted from by Saddam's regime. This will cause conflict between the Arabs and Kurds in the Mosul region. At the same time Turkey is pushing its own interests in northern Iraq both to get money and to make sure that a Kurdish state doesn't gain so much autonomy that it becomes an example that emboldens Turkish Kurds to push for more autonomy.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 28 02:28 PM 
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2002 December 26 Thursday
US To Try Many New Weapons In Next Iraq War

Rowan Scarborough reviews the weapons systems that will make the second war against Iraq (which probably will start in February 2003) qualitatively different than the first war. This estimate of just how much more effective the US military will be this time really stands out.

"When you roll it all together, I say we're 10 times more powerful," said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney. "And [Saddam] is about 30 percent what he was before. So you can see how we can achieve rapid dominance using 'effects-based' operations."

Saddam could still manage to unleash bioweapons and even manage to lob a few missiles with biological or chemical warheads at Israel or other countries. Saddam might also have sleeper terrorists in the US ready to unleash bioweapons. But as bad as all that sounds the biggest problem we face isn't what the Iraqi regime can do in response to a military attack. The biggest challenge is the reconstruction afterward. To change a nation's political culture is not a trivial matter. Islam as a political force which is hostile to liberal democracy, cultural influences of neighboring Arab countries, and tribal attitudes that are reinforced by consanguineous marriage patterns all make the political transformation of Iraq highly problematic.

Outwardly the Bush Administration has provided no indications that its top thinkers are aware of the scope of the problem that they will face once the fighting is over. My fear is that too many of them may uncritically accept claims by some pundits and intellectuals about the universal appeal of liberal democracy and as a consequence they may not appreciate the sheer scope of the political and cultural problem that the US must solve in order to successfully transform post-war Iraq.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 26 10:17 PM  Military War, Rumours Of War
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Lionel Tiger on What Humans Need

Noted anthropologist Lionel Tiger talks about basic human needs.

Using physiology as his baseline, Tiger said we have a sturdy general idea of what the body needs and how it should be cared for. The body is structure, and behavior is function. Structure and function are almost invariably related. From this interaction, he developed his portfolio of behavioral "vitamins."

The first is the opportunity to be governed by rules about maturity. "That is, 3-year-olds do not and should not have the same package of rights and responsibilities as 30-year-olds."

The second is access to fresh air and natural light as necessary for indulging in agreeable behavior.

The third is greenery. "Humans evolved in nature, and we try to import the upper Paleolithic into our high-rise apartments by buying plants whose only serious function is aesthetic," Tiger said.

We are not infinitely malleable. We have basic biological needs. All modern tabula rasa social science doctrine notwithstanding, we can not be trained to not have innate needs and desires. Among those innate needs appears to be a need to look at plants.

Researchers, such as Roger Ulrich and Russ Parsons at Texas A&M and Rachel and Stephen Kaplan at the University of Michigan, note positive changes in behavior which result directly from people being able to see plants. For example, Ulrich compared the hospital records of patients recovering from gall bladder surgery and found those with a view of a group of trees spent less time in the hospital than those looking out at a brick wall (7.96 days vs 8.70 days). Equally important, they required fewer and less-potent drugs to remain comfortable.

In a recently completed study at the Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York, women recovering from breast cancer surgery found walks in the garden helped restore their ability to concentrate and focus their attention, and reduced their depression. At the start of the study, the scores of all the women on tests of measured attention were so low they resembled brain-damaged patients. Over the next 90 days, some of the patients participated in activities selected to help restore them from the anxiety and mental fatigue related to their surgery. Walking in the garden 20 to 30 minutes three times per week proved to be a very effective activity. Those who participated in the activities recovered faster and were able to develop new interests. More of them went back to work during the study than the control group. The Kaplans report workers with a view of trees and flowers experienced less job pressure and were more satisfied with their jobs than those who had no outside view or only a view of buildings. The employees with views of plants also reported fewer headaches and illnesses. Several researchers have documented faster recovery from the stress and mental fatigue of daily life through the use of plants.

Perhaps we should set our computer desktop backgrounds to a shade of green. Articles such as the above inspired the change to a teal green blog banner. Though an image of plants and tree leaves would probably be more effective.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 26 02:11 PM  Human Nature
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
Oriana Fallaci: The Rage and The Pride

Oriana Fallaci, author of the recently released book The Rage and The Pride, discussed her book on October 22, 2002 at the American Enterprise Institute. Fallaci sees the West as lacking in passion and failing to fight the cultural war against Islam.

I call my book a sermon—addressed to the Italians, to the Europeans, the Westerners. And along with the rage, this sermon unchains the pride for their culture, my culture. That culture that in spite of its mistakes, its faults, even monstrosities, has given so much to the world. It has moved us from the tents of the deserts and the huts of the woods to the dignity of civilization. It has given us the concept of beauty, of morals, of freedom, of equality. It has made the unique conquest in the social field, in the realm of science. It has wiped out diseases. It has invented all the tools that make life easier and more intelligent, those tools that our enemy can also use, for instance, to kill us. It has brought us to the moon and to Mars, and this cannot be said of the other culture. A culture, which has produced and produces only religion, which in every sense imprisons women inside the burkah or the chador, which is never accompanied by a drop of freedom, a drop of democracy, which subjugates its people under theocratical, oppressive regimes.

Socrates and Aristotle and Heraclitus were not mullahs. Jesus Christ, neither. Leonardo da Vinci and Michaelangelo, and Galileo, and Copernicus, and Newton and Pasteur and Einstein, the same.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 26 01:21 AM  Civilizations Clash Of
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2002 December 23 Monday
Fouad Ajami on the Importance of the Next Iraq War

Fouad Ajami always has something interesting to say and his latest in the January/February 2003 issue of Foreign Affairs is no exception. He believes the coming war to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime will send the very powerful message that the US has shifted its long-term stance on the Middle East. Historically the US has restricted itself to maintaining the existing order and has intervened only to prevent or reverse a disturbance in the balance of power. This war represents a shift away from the historical pattern of US reticence about getting more deeply involved in Arab politics and is part of a larger effort to fundamentally change the trends in Arab political development. The old position has effectively been discredited by the attacks on 9/11 and the new position will be to support the Arab reformists. Ajami also examines the motives of the terrorists and sees terrorism against the US as motivated by frustrations in Arab society and politics.

The United States has been caught in the crossfire between the regimes in the saddle and the Islamic insurgents. These insurgents could not win in Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, or Syria, or on the Arabian Peninsula. So they took to the road and targeted the United States, and they were brutally candid about their motives. They did not strike at America because it was a patron of Israel; rather, they drew a distinction between the "near enemy" (their own rulers) and the "far enemy," the United States.

Those entrenched regimes could not be beaten at home. Their power, as well as their people's resigned acceptance that their rulers' sins would be dwarfed by the terrors that Islamists would unleash were they to prevail, had settled the fight in favor of the rulers. The targeting of America came out of this terrible political culture of Arab lands. If the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the physician Ayman al-Zawahiri, could not avenge himself against the military regime of Hosni Mubarak for the torture he endured at the hands of his country's security services, why not target Mubarak's U.S. patrons?

A similar motivation propelled the Saudi members of al Qaeda. These men could not sack the House of Saud. The dynasty's wealth, its political primacy, and the conservative religious establishment gave the rulers a decided edge in their struggle with the Islamists; the war against America was the next best thing. The great power was an easier target: it was more open, more trusting, and its liberties more easily subverted by a band of jihadists. The jihadists and their leader, bin Laden, aimed at the dynasty's carefully nurtured self-image. The children of Arabia who had boarded those planes on September 11 and the countless young men held at the Guantanamo Bay military base could not be disowned. Bin Laden got the crisis in Saudi-American relations he aimed for.

Ajami is by no means confident that after the military victory an American attempt to politically reconstruction Iraq will be successful.

Iraq may offer a contrast, a base in the Arab world free of the poison of anti-Americanism. The country is not hemmed in by the kind of religious prohibitions that stalk the U.S. presence in the Saudi realm. It may have a greater readiness for democracy than Egypt, if only because it is wealthier and is free of the weight of Egypt's demographic pressures and the steady menace of an Islamist movement.

Iraq should not be burdened, however, with the weight of great expectations. This is the Arab world, after all, and Americans do not know it with such intimacy. Iraq could disappoint its American liberators. There has been heartbreak in Iraq, and vengeance and retribution could sour Americans on this latest sphere of influence in the Muslim world.

Will America be willing to try to remold Iraq on the scale that is required to even have a chance of success? As Ajami points out, the United States no longer has the degree of cultural confidence that it had in 1945 when it set out to reshape the political culture and institutions of Japan. Iraq is in some ways a tougher challenge than Japan because Iraq's culture is linked to a religion and a larger regional culture that provide competing external influences that the United States didn't have to contend with when reshaping a culturally far more insular Japan. At the same time, the Middle East's political development is also held back by consanguineous marriage patterns. The United States therefore faces a tougher task with Iraqi reconstruction and less confidence with which to carry it out.

Ajami writes with far more insight and understanding of Middle Eastern politics and history than the vast bulk of pontificating commentators. A lot of Western commentators try to explain Arab motives by imagining what would drive a Westerner to do what they do. Attempts to categorize Arab movements and factions using Western political ideologies and Western culture war categories leads to an awful lot foolish nattering. Compounding this problem are Arabs who are knowledgeable enough in Western political thinking to try to cast their factions and movements in terms that will appeal to the sympathies of ignorant Westerners and so the misconceptions are reinforced. Ajami manages to stick to the basic motives of the groups, their histories, and their perceptions of each other. He cuts thru a lot of rhetoric to make the Middle East much more comprehensible. If you want to read an analysis of the Middle East that isn't some standard boilerplate stereotype such of breast-beating hawkery, Arab apologist blame-it-on-US/Israel, or idealistic kumbaya dreamer then Ajami's latest is worth your time.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 23 11:16 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
Ethanol Fuel Subsidy Even Worse Than It Looks

Yes of course the corn ethanol fuel subsidy in the United States is a waste of money handed out to farmers and agribusiness. But its worse than that. Corn-derived ethanol uses more energy than it produces and therefore increases our dependence on foreign oil. The tax breaks for it reduce the money available for the National Highway Trust Fund and hence reduces maintenance and construction of roads and bridges. It causes more pollution. It increases fuel costs. If the billions spent on it per year were just handed as cash to the farmers and if no ethanol was produced we'd be better off.

The chief reason for imposing an ethanol program on motorists is to enrich farmers and food processors under the guise of environmental enhancement.

Ethanol is not environmentally safe. Oxygenates such as ethanol may reduce emissions of carbon monoxide (CO) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), but can also result in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), a main precursor of smog pollution; and ethanol-blended gasoline can lead to increased emissions of acetaldehyde, a toxic pollutant.

A study by Cornell University scientist David Pimentel shows that producing ethanol from corn actually requires more energy than the fuel produces, making the United States more fossil-fuel-dependent, not less.

The ethanol mandate amounts to blatant "corporate welfare." Only a handful of large agribusinesses would gain from this ethanol mandate.

There is a strong argument to be made that we need to develop alternative energy sources in order to defund the Saudis and other regimes that fund the spread of both a hostile Islam and of terrorism. Instead, we spend tax money and raise fuel prices in order to make our foreign energy dependence even greater.

Because of the ethanol fuel subsidy we pay more in taxes, our roads are in worse shape, our fuel costs more, and we are more dependent on foreign energy. More money flows to Saudi Arabia because of the ethanol fuel subsidy. That a policy this dumb and harmful and costing billions can survive and even expand from one year to the next demonstrates that the old republic may eventually be brought down by the accumulation of parasites that feed off of it.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 23 01:49 PM  Civilizations Decay
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2002 December 22 Sunday
Jim Hoagland on International Law, Preemption

Even some European thinkers see that international law in its current form is becoming obsolesced by the technological advances which are putting increasingly dangerous weapons into the hands of failed states and terrorists.

"A new set of rules governing the use of force" that "takes into account phenomena such as failed states" and the easy availability of highly destructive weapons must be devised, says Tomas Valasek, director of the Brussels office of the Center for Defense Information. The same basic thought was expressed the other day by a senior administration official in explaining the administration's recent, embarrassing climb-down on a shipment of North Korean Scud missiles to Yemen.

Hoagland goes on to briefly review just little help the US gets from Pakistan or Yemen in fighting Al Qaeda within their borders.

It also shows that the administration is vastly overpaying -- diplomatically, financially and politically -- for the limited cooperation it receives in fighting al Qaeda in Yemen and Pakistan. An inordinate fear that those two countries and others will swing over to supporting the extremists openly (instead of doing so covertly or through omission) drives the overcompensation as much as the practical necessities of the war on terror do. This is a misguided policy emphasis that is likely to be ineffective.

Both countries do have areas beyond the control of their central governments where Al Qaeda operatives can live and work. But it isn't clear here what Hoagland is suggesting. Is he saying we pay less to Yemen and Pakistan? If so then he's really just asserting that we are wasting our money. But if he's saying we should try to get more help from their governments I have to question whether that is possible. Musharraf can give us what help he provides in part because he's a dictator who can overrule the elected members of his government. The problem is that the public at large is really not keen on helping the US fight Al Qaeda and part of the public is actively supporting Al Qaeda (especially in the Northwest Frontier region). Democratically elected Islamic fundamentalists play a big role in the national government and Northwest Frontier regional government. So how can we expect to get much more help from Pakistan? The situation is so bad there that the FBI is hiring former Pakistani military officers to function as a parallel investigative effort against terrorists because the government's own intelligence and police agencies are dominated by Islamists and Al Qaeda supporters.

Yemen's national government similarly doesn't control all of its country and my impression of its regime is that it is more primitive as compared to Pakistan's government and controls a smaller fraction of its territory than the Pakistani central government controls in Pakistan. It also has a population that is not exactly enamored with the idea of helping the United States fight Al Qaeda. So what alternative option exists? Threaten military reprisals against Pakistan or Yemen if their central governments do not crack down harder on terrorists? Threaten an aid cut-off if more help isn't forthcoming? Would such tactics work?

One has to hope that there are better ways to bring the fight to the sanctuaries from which the terrorists now operate. Perhaps Mr. Hoagland will spell out in some future columns how the US can get more help from the governments of Pakistan and Yemen in the war against the terrorists. However it is hard to be optimistic on that score.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 22 02:59 AM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Iraq War in February 2003?

The US wants British involvement in an attack on Iraq. Therefore indicators of movement of British forces may be a good way to tell when the war will start. By that line of reasoning February looks more likely than January.

Britain's 3 Commando Brigade, the elite force that made up the main British contribution to fighting in Afghanistan last year, would send about 3,000 men to the amphibious operation to join a much larger contingent of Americans.

A large British naval task force is due to sail from Britain at the end of January, and would presumably include the amphibious units.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 22 01:02 AM  Military War, Rumours Of War
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2002 December 21 Saturday
US Getting No Help From China On North Korea

After the North Koreans put an end to IAEA monitoring of a nuclear reactor the US government is calling on the North Korean regime to stop its nuclear weapons development programs.

"We urge the DTRK not to restart its frozen nuclear facilities including the five-megawatt reactor," U.S. State Department spokesman Lou Fintor said Saturday, adding that to do so would "fly in the face of international consensus."


"We call on the DTRK to respond to repeated requests by the IAEA to consult on arrangements for safeguarding the frozen nuclear facilities at Nyongbyong and allow the IAEA to replace or restore the seals and cameras that the North damaged," Fintor said.

The US State Department is just going thru the motions of establishing that it has demanded that North Korea stop and desist. This will have no effect at all on what the North Korea regime does but this sort of rhetoric is necessary for reasons of diplomacy.

Bill Gertz reports on Chinese shipments to North Korea of a chemical used in nuclear weapons production.

U.S. intelligence officials told The Times that North Korea earlier this month received a shipment of 20 tons of a specialty chemical known as tributyl phosphate, or TBP, from China.

The chemical has both commercial and military applications and U.S. intelligence officials believe the TBP will be used to extract material for nuclear bombs from North Korea's stockpile of spent nuclear-reactor fuel.

Bill Gertz reports that China is demonstrating its unwillingness to pressure North Korea to stop its weapons of mass destruction development.

The transfer itself is an indication that China's government, contrary to some public statements, is unwilling to support U.S. efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear problem, said administration security officials.


However, senior administration officials said China continues to export nuclear, chemical and biological weapons material and missile goods, despite claims of curbing exports by Chinese companies to rogue states or unstable regions.

China is not only unwilling to join in pressuring North Korea to stop WMD development but is also continuing to help North Korea pursue its ambitions. The US is faced with the choice of either trying to apply pressure to China to get it to change its position or to pursue other ways to make life more difficult for the North Korean regime.

It is possible that the US government will signal to the Chinese government that the US will launch airstrikes against North Korean nuclear facilities unless China agrees to stop selling supplies that North Korea needs for its WMD programs. The Chinese leaders might be swayed by this threat. However, even if China agreed to cut off the supplies it could still cheat. The fact that the Chinese regime does not see an interest in cracking down on North Korean behavior is paramount here. They have clearly demonstrated their intentions and to attempt to pursue a real change in the position of the Chinese regime is not only futile but would waste time.

The US is left with the choice of either tolerating continued North Korean development of WMD and sales of WMD technology or some form of military action against the North Korean regime. One possibility short of the removal the North Korean regime is to launch B-2 airstrikes against North Korean WMD facilities. B-2 bomber crews train for missions against North Korea. The US military has been working on developing the ability to more rapidly plan and execute bomber missions against North Korea.

Since 1994, the military has continued to improve its adaptive planning capabilities for nuclear forces. Other documents released under FOIA illustrate just how rapid the planners envision nuclear targeting to be in regional scenarios. When the first B-2 bombers replaced the B-1 in the SIOP-98 war plan in October 1997, it took planners “well over” 24 hours to complete the planning and processing of a single SIOP sortie. One year later, in November 1998, Stratcom ordered an update of the B-2 planning documents to reflect shorter timelines for planning new nuclear strike missions, calling for:

• Deliberate planned missions with a timeline of no more than 24 hours, including executable war plans, prepared in advance, for anticipated contingencies. (An example of this is OPLAN 5027, mentioned at the beginning of this article.)

• Adaptive planned missions (directed planning options or theater nuclear options) with a timeline of no more than eight hours.

Under these guidelines, planning for new limited strikes in smaller regional scenarios involving only one or a few nuclear weapons could be carried out in less time than it takes for a B-2 to fly from home base at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to North Korea. On the way, the crew would be able to reconfigure existing sorties or build entirely new strike options with the bombs in their payload, revolutionizing the flexibility of nuclear-bomber strike planning.

This planning ability could equally well be used for a conventional weapons strike against North Korean nuclear facilities. The biggest question mark over the idea of conducting such a strike is whether the US knows where North Korea stores any existing nuclear weapons it might have in its arsenal and whether the US could destroy those weapons with a conventional strike using highly accurate guided weapons. Its a fair guess that the information needed to answer that question is highly classified.

The United States needs a workable and effective plan for how to deal with the North Korean regime. So far it does not have one and it is hard to imagine just what a workable plan would look like. Of all the regimes on the Axis Of Evil list how to deal with North Korea is surely the most problematic.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 21 11:56 PM  Axis Of Evil
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
US and Japan Cooperating on Missile Defense Tech

See the following excerpts of the joint statement of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee released December 16, 2002. The bullet point on North Korea is followed immediately by an affirmation of continued cooperation in the development of ballistic missile defense technologies.

1. United States Secretary of State Colin Powell and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz hosted Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi and Minister of State for Defense and Director-General of the Defense Agency Shigeru Ishiba in a meeting of the Security Consultative Committee (SCC) in Washington, DC, on December 16, 2002. They addressed security and alliance issues facing the U.S. and Japan in the new security environment after the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on September 11, 2001, as well as other aspects of the relationship.


6. The Ministers expressed grave concern about the threat North Korea continues to pose to regional security and stability. The Ministers expressed great regret over North Korea's recent letter to the IAEA and public statement that it plans to resume the operation and construction of nuclear facilities, and agreed the North Korean decision flagrantly disregards the international consensus that the North Korean regime must fulfill all its commitments and, in particular, dismantle its nuclear weapons program. The Ministers also agreed that North Korea's pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability violates the Agreed Framework, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, its IAEA Safeguards Agreement, and the South-North Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The Ministers stressed that the international community has made it clear that North Korea’s relations with the outside world will hinge on its willingness to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. The Ministers urged North Korea to give up any nuclear weapons program in a prompt and verifiable fashion in order to be in compliance with all of its international obligations. They also expressed serious concern over North Korea's ballistic missile programs and urged North Korea to cease all ballistic missile-related activities, including the development, testing, exportation, and deployment of ballistic missiles and related technology and know-how. The Ministers also urged North Korea's full compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention and adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Ministers stressed that North Korean use of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, would have the gravest consequences.

Reaffirming their commitments under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, they reiterated their strong interest in a peaceful resolution of security issues associated with North Korea. The U.S. side reaffirmed that the U. S. has always been open to dialogue in principle. The Ministers also reaffirmed that the Japan-North Korea normalization talks and the Japan-North Korea security talks, based on the Pyongyang Declaration between Japan and North Korea, serve as important channels to resolve security issues and the abduction issue. The Ministers called for the expeditious resolution of such issues.

7. Based on the shared recognition of the growing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles, the two sides emphasized the need for a comprehensive strategy to address such proliferation, including both defense systems and diplomatic initiatives.

The Japanese side reaffirmed that a ballistic missile defense system is an important consideration in Japan’s defense policy, which is exclusively defense-oriented. The Japanese side noted that a ballistic missile defense system would be an inherently defensive capability to which there would be no alternative, with the purpose of protecting lives and property in Japan. The Japanese side also expressed its intention to address this subject on its own initiative during review of its defense posture, based on the rapidly evolving state of technological developments relating to all elements of the ballistic missile defense program.

The Ministers acknowledged the need to continue current U.S.-Japan cooperative research on ballistic missile defense technologies and to intensify consultation and cooperation on missile defense.

There are on-going developments and cooperation between nations that do not get much attention in the press but which speak volumes about the consensus of the leaders of various nations. The Japanese leaders do not want to be vulnerable to a nuclear ballistic missile attack by North Korea. In light of recent developments in North Korea it seems reasonable to expect Japan to increase its funding for ballistic missile defense research and development.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 21 09:37 PM  Politics Grand Strategy
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2002 December 20 Friday
David Klinghoffer on Islam and Non-Believers

David Klinghoffer has a different take on the meaning of the Koran's "the People of the Book" phrase. He argues that it is not meant as a friendly reference to religions that are close to Islam.

Referring to Christians as well as Jews, that famous phrase, "the People of the Book," comes up whenever someone is trying to paint a friendly face on Islam. The truth is that Muhammad typically means it not in praise but as an expression of bitter irony, as if to say: These people have Scripture, yet they reject me!

The Koran does not encourage a benevolent view of non-Muslims even if they are Christians or Jews.

God is quoted by prophet as saying, "The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the pagans shall burn forever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all creatures." "…those that disbelieve Our revelations and deny them are the heirs of Hell." Of the Jews in particular: "God has cursed them in their unbelief."

You can check out this contention for yourself by trying the USC Koran search engine. What is nice about the USC engine is that it has 3 translations (Pickthal, Yusufali, and Shakir) and returns each verse in all 3 translations. It even searches all 3 translations. So, for instance, "disbelieve" will be used in the Pickthal translation in some locations but "deny Allah" or some other phrasing in the other two. Or Shakir will use "disbelieve" where Yusufali uses "reject". So it is easier to find the relevant verses when all the translations are searched.

Here is an example verse I turned by by searching on "unbelievers". There are a lot of verses in the Koran about warfare against unbelievers.

YUSUFALI: Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.
PICKTHAL: Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain.
SHAKIR: So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates. That (shall be so); and if Allah had pleased He would certainly have exacted what is due from them, but that He may try some of you by means of others; and (as for) those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will by no means allow their deeds to perish.

Here s an example of the Koranic view of Pagans, Christians and Jews. This is a tolerant religion?

YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque. And if ye fear poverty, soon will Allah enrich you, if He wills, out of His bounty, for Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.
PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! The idolaters only are unclean. So let them not come near the Inviolable Place of Worship after this their year. If ye fear poverty (from the loss of their merchandise) Allah shall preserve you of His bounty if He will. Lo! Allah is Knower, Wise.
SHAKIR: O you who believe! the idolaters are nothing but unclean, so they shall not approach the Sacred Mosque after this year; and if you fear poverty then Allah will enrich you out of His grace if He please; surely Allah is Knowing Wise.

YUSUFALI: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
PICKTHAL: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
SHAKIR: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

YUSUFALI: The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!
PICKTHAL: And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they!
SHAKIR: And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!

YUSUFALI: They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One Allah: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).
PICKTHAL: They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One Allah. There is no Allah save Him. Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)!
SHAKIR: They have taken their doctors of law and their monks for lords besides Allah, and (also) the Messiah son of Marium and they were enjoined that they should serve one Allah only, there is no god but He; far from His glory be what they set up (with Him).

YUSUFALI: Fain would they extinguish Allah's light with their mouths, but Allah will not allow but that His light should be perfected, even though the Unbelievers may detest (it).
PICKTHAL: Fain would they put out the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah disdaineth (aught) save that He shall perfect His light, however much the disbelievers are averse.
SHAKIR: They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, and Allah will not consent save to perfect His light, though the unbelievers are averse.

According to this excerpt the Muslims are supposed to fight the Jews and Christians until the latter two groups submit to Muslim rule and agree to pay special higher taxes aimed at them. This is explicitly specified in the Koran.

Update: Robert Spencer, author of Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith by Robert Spencer, also examines the PBS documentary Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet which was the occasion for David Klinghoffer's article on the nature of Islam. Spencer asks if Islam does not support terrorism then why have terrorist organizations found it so easy to recruit members from Muslim societies around the world?

But here the producers of Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet had a real opportunity. Instead of flatly stating that terrorism cannot be justified by Islam, they could have explained why misunderstanding jihad isn't a faux pas restricted to the benighted Falwells and Robertsons of the world. They could have informed viewers why millions of Muslims endorse the violent jihad preached by Islamic organizations spanning the globe — from Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Jemaah Islamiah in Southeast Asia, Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya in Egypt, the Armed Islamic Group in Algeria, Al-Ummah in India, the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines, and so many others.

The documentary reports the views of Mohamed Zakariya, who is described by another Muslim as being among "the mildest people in our community." Zakariya states that "revenge, suicide bombing, things of that kind, they have no place in Islam." This is simply stated as fact. The producers pass up the opportunity to clarify opposing views held by quite prominent figures in the Islamic world, such as Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, the prestigious and respected Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University in Cairo. Tantawi was quoted by President Bush last Fall at the United Nations as saying that "terrorism is a disease, and that Islam prohibits killing innocent civilians." But according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), last spring the same sheikh declared that suicide bombing was "the highest form of Jihad operations," and that "every martyrdom operation against any Israeli, including children, women, and teenagers, is a legitimate act according to [Islamic] religious law, and an Islamic commandment."

By Randall Parker 2002 December 20 01:53 PM  Religion Secular Ideologies
Entry Permalink | Comments(5)
2002 December 19 Thursday
Collin May on Root Causes of Terrorism

Reflecting on the latest Lord of the Rights movie Two Towers Collin May finds problems with root causes explanation for terrorism.

For my part, this speaks to an issue that has become increasingly prevalent in the face of terrorist attacks around the world today. It is often said that we have to look at the root causes of terror to determine why people turn to such desperate measures as blowing themselves apart in a crowded bus. Inevitably, the root cause in question is poverty caused by the greedy western world, and just as inevitably, you can be sure that wherever someone is talking about the mighty root cause, you’ll find an expert with a Ph.D. nodding smugly in agreement.

Unfortunately for our scholarly friends, there is a problem with root causes. Root causes assume something that is rarely mentioned. Root causes assume that humans can escape their moral obligations by standing outside the normal world. It assumes humans can abstract themselves from reality and go romping through history looking for the all-powerful distant cause that will explain each and every aspect of our current situation. Then, having discerned the historical secret, the wily scholar can, with a gentle wave of his hand, dismiss all those silly concerns about morality, responsibility and honor, while providing the road map for solving all our social ills. That this approach, which is really none other than the methodology of the social sciences, is simplistic in the extreme, reducing human decisions to little more than unthinking reactions to a single dominant stimulus, means little to its proponents. They accept all this because the root cause provides an immediate and simplistic explanation to impress the gullible and justify the foolish.

Regardless of what has happened in our historical past we are each still responsible for making moral decisions. There is no "get out of moral obligations for free" card which is handed out to those who can weave together the most tragic-sounding story of historical wrongs done to our ancestors.

The root cause explanation doesn't make sense for other reasons, not least of which is that the terrorists are coming from the more affluent Muslim nations and from the middle and upper classes of those nations. These people have not experienced the real poverty of places such as Bangladesh. Their claims of victimhood are not credible. The modernizing Islamic countries are the ones that are experiencing the greatest increase in radical Islamist sentiment in part because modernization causes changes and bring influences that threaten Islam's central role in society. Historical grievances and current poverty are not the main causes of the rise of anti-Western radical Islam.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 19 12:38 PM  Cultural Wars Western
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Turkish Critic Of Islamic Groups Gunned Down

Necip Hablemitoglu, a historian, was shot and killed near his home in Ankara.

He was the author of a book which accused Turkey-based German foundations of working to undermine Turkish interests. The representatives of the foundations are scheduled to stand trial later this month on charges of conspiring against Turkey.

Here is why an Islamic Reformation into a more tolerant and peaceful belief system will be a long time coming if it happens at all: Critics are silenced.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 19 09:25 AM  Civilizations Clash Of
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2002 December 18 Wednesday
Jordan and Maternal Passing of Citizenship

In Jordan Jews are not allowed to be citizens. Its written into the constitution. What is perhaps less well known is that Jordanian women can't give citizenship to their children. Only Jordanian fathers can. Queen Rania, King Abdullah's wife and a Palestinian herself, announced a decree giving Jordanian women the ability to give their children Jordanian citizenship.

The uproar erup-ted after tribesmen objected that Rania's decree would hand citizenship to hundreds of thousands of stateless Palestinians born to Jordanian-Palestinian mothers. The Palestinian-born queen, they argued, had a hidden agenda: to tilt the fragile demographic balance in this country of six million toward a Palestinian majority. "I don't think Queen Rania intended to create a problem," says Oraib Rantawi, a prominent Palestinian-Jordanian academic recently recruited to advise King Abdullah. "But we have many extreme nationalists who don't want Palestinians to be Jordanians."

The Bedouin complaints were severe enough that the Jordanian government has already backpedalled and said that the granting of citizenship via matrilineal descent will still be examined and approved or disapproved on a case-by-case basis. The Bedouin response was predictable and I have to wonder whether the people who are saying they were surprised by the response are being sincere. More likely it was decided to make the announcement and then watch carefully to see if they could enact this change without encountering too much opposition.

From a demographic perspective the position of the Jews in Israel parallels that of the Bedouins in Jordan. Both are afraid of becoming minorities in their respective countries as Palestinians increase in numbers.

In another example of the role of cousin marriage (see my previous post on consanguineous mating in the Middle East) this article mentions in passing how it is that Palestinian-Jordanian women are marrying non-Jordanians and hence creating this issue in the first place.

But with or without Rania's decree, members of the committee entrusted to implement Jordan First concede, Palestinian girls with Jordanian passports will continue to marry their cousins in the West Bank to rescue them from the misery of Israeli military rule.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 18 07:24 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
What To Do About North Korea?

Diplomacy will fail. An attack against North Korea is too risky because the North Korean regime could probably attack South Korea with biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. At the same time, the North Korean leadership is so paranoid and isolated that its not inconceivable that Kim Jong-il could launch an attack on his own.

If you match up the dates, North Korea's secret project to produce enriched uranium must have started at the time of Kim Dae-jung's "groundbreaking" visit, while the more accommodating President Clinton was still in the White House.

Aidan Foster-Carter, a North Korea expert at Leeds University, is near despair: "The North Koreans are prisoners of their own world view. They missed their best chance when they had Clinton and Kim Dae-jung in office. And yet it seems they must have begun uranium enrichment around the time Kim Dae-jung was visiting. How is trust possible now?"

The mystery is just what will Bush come up with? Will China play along on economic sanctions? Will the US be willing to create a naval blockade? The North Korean regime could respond by shelling Seoul.

My own modest proposal to try to make a small difference: provide the North Korean people with the means to find out what is going on in the rest of the world. Right now they are incredibly isolated. This widespread ignorance helps to prop up the regime. They need to be able to listen to radios. The US could get together with South Korean electronics firms to build radios that are small and powered by mechanical springs or photovoltaic panels (necessitated by a lack of access to electricity). Put large numbers of them into floating plastic containers and release them near North Korean coastlines. Submarines could release the radios while staying submerged. Some of the radios would be found and destroyed by the military. But even just getting the radios into the hands of regular soldiers could make a difference. Some would hide them and listen to them when alone or pass them along to their families.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 18 04:36 PM  Axis Of Evil
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
UK Imports Nurses Simply To Get Cheaper Labour

There is no shortage of nurses in the UK. There is just a shortage of people who are willing to work for the low salaries that the British National Health Service is willing to pay.

In fact, as Anthony Browne demonstrates in Do We Need Mass Immigration? (Civitas), Britain is not suffering from any of these. David Miles, Professor of Finance at Imperial College, is even more emphatic. Immigration, he writes on the pensions crises for Prospect magazine, is no solution. "One of the things we are not short of in Britain is people." To keep the population growing "is simply mad".

Take nurses for example. We are informed that the NHS is desperately short of them. There are, however, more trained nurses in Britain not working than there are still in the profession. Instead of making a return to work attractive with better pay, flexible hours (many are women with children) and better conditions, the NHS recruits nurses from Third World countries.

One argument made by pro-immigration advocates is that there is a labor shortage in the US or UK or other Western nations. No, there is never a labor shortage. There is just the market price at which people are willing to work. If an employer can't offer enough (or doesn't want to offer enough) to get someone to do a job then the job isn't deemed important enough by the employer to justify the salary that prospective employees will accept.

Note: The David Miles article which Harriet Sergeant refers to is only available on-line to subscribers. But Prospect Magazine makes its previous issue articles available to all after the next issue comes out. So check back in January 2003 if you want to read it for free.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 18 04:08 PM  Immigration Border Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Theodore Dalrymple on Prisons and Mental Hospitals

Dalrymple is writing about the UK but it is my impression that what he says equally well applies to the United States.

The prisons fill up with people who once would have been looked after in our mental asylums; and there is a steady stream of people through our hospitals who desire admission, and want never to go home, because the self-directed life that has been forced upon them is beyond their intellectual capacities. Time after time, with a heavy heart, and because their hospital bed is needed for someone else, we have to return them whence they came and whence they fled, because there is nowhere else to send them. The heartlessness of it all, while extravagant aid is given to those who deserve none and whom such aid will actually harm, is sickening.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 18 12:15 AM  Civilizations Decay
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2002 December 17 Tuesday
Mark T. Clark says Collective Security Does Not Work

Collective security can work for a single nation because it has a process to reach a decision about when to defend its own interests. As Mark T. Clark (any relation to General Mark Clark of WWII fame?) argues, it took the US to make a unilateral decision to do something about Bosnia before the killing stopped. That was right in Europe, it is a small place, and still the Europeans couldn't bring themselves to decide to do something about it. Any group of nations sufficiently large in number is not going to come to consensus until a security threat has reached disastrous proportions.

But collective security has never worked in history, neither under the League of Nations, nor since the creation of the United Nations. It has not worked, nor can it work, because it ignores fundamental political realities.

The first reality is that nations pursue their own interests. During the peak of the Bosnia crisis, Germany supported Croatia, Russia supported Serbia, and the Muslim world supported Bosnia proper. Most members of the U.N. stayed out of the conflict because it didn't concern them, despite the theory of collective responsibility. And because there has never been any universal agreement on the culpability and punishment of those who breach the peace, there never has been any uniform response. That is the second political reality. The third is a bit more complicated.

Implied in the theory of collective security is the notion of unanimity or consensus. That is, because in theory every member of the collective pre-commits to maintaining peace, the organization should act in concert. However, because of conflicting national interests and disagreements about aggression, a strong dose of unilateral leadership is required to get the collective to act. This unilateralism necessary to kick start collective action is the bane of the collectivists. Just ask Jimmy Carter.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 17 07:56 PM  UN, International Institutions
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
Does Al Qaeda have Nuclear Weapons?

If Al Qaeda had nuclear weapons then wouldn't they have used them by now?

President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have been warned Osama bin Laden has 20 suitcase nuclear weapons obtained for cash from former KGB agents, the London Sunday Express reports.

Would delivery be such a large problem that they couldn't manage to get them into the United States It seems logical that if Al Qaeda ever gets nuclear weapons they will want to blow them up in American cities first and foremost. Why would they get them and then wait to use them?

By Randall Parker 2002 December 17 05:04 PM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
Elite Populace Gap On Immigration Issues

The Center for Immigration Studies has released a new report demonstrating the gap between elite and popular opinion on immigration.

While it has long been suspected that public and elite opinion differ on the issue of immigration, a new poll provides the most compelling evidence yet that there is an enormous gap between the American people and "opinion leaders" on the issue. The survey also suggests that the gap between the public and elites has actually widened since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

This Backgrounder is based on the findings of a recent national poll conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations in May through July of this year. The Council is a non-profit policy organization that sponsors polls and events on a host of foreign policy issues. The Council has a long tradition of polling to find differences between the public and opinion leaders.

The polling of the public was based on 2,800 telephone interviews from across the nation. The council also surveyed nearly 400 opinion leaders, including members of Congress, the administration, and leaders of church groups, business executives, union leaders, journalists, academics, and leaders of major interest groups. (The full results of the survey can be found at http://www.worldviews.org/detailreports/usreport/html/ch5s5.html) This Backgrounder is the first detailed examination of the poll’s results on the issue of immigration.

  • The results of the survey indicate that the gap between the opinions of the American people on immigration and those of their leaders is enormous. The poll found that 60 percent of the public regards the present level of immigration to be a "critical threat to the vital interests of the United States," compared to only 14 percent of the nation’s leadership – a 46 percentage point gap.
  • The current gap is even wider than that found in 1998, when 55 percent of the public viewed immigration as a "critical threat," compared to 18 percent of opinion leaders – a 37 percentage point gap.
  • The poll results indicate that there is no other foreign policy-related issue on which the American people and their leaders disagreed more profoundly than immigration. Even on such divisive issues as globalization or strengthening the United Nations, the public and the elite are much closer together than they are on immigration.
  • When asked a specific question about whether legal immigration should be reduced, kept the same, or increased, 55 percent of the public said it should be reduced, and 27 percent said it should remain the same. In contrast, only 18 percent of opinion leaders said it should be reduced and 60 percent said it should remain the same. There was no other issue-specific question on which the public and elites differed more widely.
  • The enormous difference between elite and public opinion can also be seen on the issue of illegal immigration. The survey found that 70 percent of the public said that reducing illegal immigration should be a "very important" foreign-policy goal of the United States, compared to only 22 percent of elites.

  • Also with respect to illegal immigration, when the public was asked to rank the biggest foreign policy problems, the public ranked illegal immigration sixth, while elites ranked it 26th.
  • The very large difference between elite and public opinion explains the current political stalemate on immigration. For example, supporters of an amnesty for illegal immigrants have broad elite support ranging from religious to business and union leaders. Normally elite support of this kind would lead to policy changes, but on this issue public opposition is so strong that it creates a political stalemate.
  • Continued deep public dissatisfaction with current immigration policy indicates that candidates or political parties that advocate a reduction in immigration might reap a significant political benefit. This is especially true because it could be marketed as "anti-elite" and more in sync with the American people, a message that has traditionally been well received by voters.
  • President Bush’s efforts to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants appear to be hurting him politically. While 53 percent of the public said his handling of foreign policy overall was excellent or good, on immigration only 27 percent said his handling of immigration was good or excellent; moreover, 70 percent rated Bush as poor or fair on immigration. the lowest rating he received on any foreign policy-related issue.

For many years the Chicago Council has polled to find differences between the public and "opinion leaders." Harris Interactive conducted the poll for the Council. The polling of the public included 2,862 telephone interviews from a scientific sampling of the nation in June. In addition, 397 telephone interviews were conducted with opinion leaders between May and July of this year. Included in the survey of leaders were: top executives of the Fortune 1000 corporations; presidents of the largest labor unions; TV and radio news directors, network newscasters, newspaper editors and columnists; leaders of all religious faiths, chosen proportionate to the number of Americans who worship in each; presidents of large special interest groups and think tanks with an emphasis on foreign policy matters; presidents and faculty of universities; members of the U.S. House and Senate; and assistant secretaries and other senior staff in the Administration. In this Backgrounder, the terms "elite" and "leaders" are used synonymously with "opinion leaders."

It is a well established fact in public opinion polling that most Americans for nearly all of the last quarter century have desired reductions in legal and illegal immigration. However, in general, federal lawmakers have moved in the opposite direction of their constituents’ desires, continually raising the numerical level of legal immigration and failing to take steps to reduce illegal migration.

Business interests and an incredibly naive hope of winning the Hispanic vote push the Republican Party leaders toward favoring more immigration. Ethnic groups elites who want to make their groups a larger portion of the US population plus the rather more accurate expectation that the Democrats can get most of the votes of immigrants push the Democrats to favor immigration. What is curious about the position of the Democratic Party is that it is taking a position that is against the economic interests of its members. Lower income Democrats are most severely impacted by competition from unskilled and low-skilled immigrant labor. Blacks are the most solidly Democratic of any ethnic group in America and their lower average incomes puts them most directly in competition with immigrants. Yet the Democratic Party betrays their interests on this issue.

Will a political stalemate allow the continuing rise of both legal and illegal immigration? The populists have a few ways forward. One battleground would be the initiative process on state ballots. There are a number of state ballot initiative ideas that could make a difference:

  • Initiatives in California and other border states with Mexico to build a large barrier along the entire length of the border.
  • Initiatives to command state and local police to arrest and hold illegal immigrants for deportation.
  • Initiatives to require proof of legal residence for bank accounts, driver's licenses, and other services, permits, and licenses.
  • Initiatives which required all state and local government employees to report illegal aliens that they come into contact with.
  • Initiatives to create state agencies to process illegal aliens into federal custody for deportation. Add an additional element to such initiatives where private citizens would be given a reward for turning in illegal aliens.
  • Initiatives that add citizenship requirements for many state and local jobs that may not now require them (could have exceptions for a small number highly skilled occupations).
  • Initiatives to outlaw in-state tuition for non-citizens.

Basically, the states could do many of the functions that the federal government is failing to do. If the initiative process met with success then some politicians would choose to run on immigration positions that align more closely with the wishes of the majority of US citizens.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 17 12:02 PM  Immigration Elites Versus Masses
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2002 December 16 Monday
North Korea and Iran Busy Developing Nukes

North Korea is already pursuing the production of weapons grade uranium. Yongbyon will provide them with weapons grade plutonium as well.

Although Yongbyon has been effectively mothballed since an October 1994 agreement with Washington, U.S. intelligence sources believe its small, Soviet-designed, five-megawatt reactor might be operable within two months. It would be capable of producing enough plutonium for one or two nuclear weapons a year.

Iran is similarly pursuing weapons grade plutonium and uranium production.

Russia's atomic energy minister, Aleksandr Rumyantsev, was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency today as contending that Iran had violated no international rules in building the two nuclear sites that were disclosed last week through commercial satellite photographs. The United States said it was "deeply concerned" about the two sites, which have been known to American intelligence agencies for more than a year. One of the photographs appears to show a heavy water plant, critical for the production of a plutonium bomb. Another shows a separate facility for producing highly enriched uranium, another path to producing a nuclear weapon. Like North Korea, which just announced it would restart its plutonium program, Iran appears to be pursuing both approaches simultaneously.

Some people claim that North Korea can be deterred from using its nuclear weapons. But just as it has demonstrated a willingness to sell missiles and nuclear weapons development technology to other states it seems reasonable to expect it will be similiarly willing to sell weapons grade plutonium or uranium once it has enough for its own needs. Its not inconceivable that it would even be willing to sell complete nuclear weapons.

The Iranian regime is in some ways worse than the North Korean regime because it has an ideological motivation to pass technology for weapons of mass destruction on to terrorist groups. It also has many more ties with terrorists and provides haven and support for them.

The Bush Administration is going to do a big push against only one Axis Of Evil WMD proliferating regime at a time. So the question becomes which regime will be next once the Iraqi regime is ousted, North Korea or Iran? Iran seems like a convenient next target because the US military will be well installed next door in Iraq and in the Persian Gulf once the war against Saddam is completed. Also, Iran is involved in supporting terrorists. But its nuclear weapons development program is not as far along as the North Korean program. Plus, if the US holds off from direct military action or sanctions against Iran there is probably some hope that Iranian student protests will expand into a general uprising that will overthrow the regime. However, the Mullahs probably run a more effectively repressive regime than did the Shan and the Mullahs may be much harder to overthrow. Keep in mind that the success of the popular revolt against the Shah was actually an exception for the region. Still, Persian culture is probably more favorable for revolt than is the culture of any Arab country.

North Korea as a next candidate for US efforts toward regime change makes sense because North Korea is further along in WMD development, its a source of weapons and weapons technology for other regimes, and its causing terrible poverty, suffering, and death from famine. Plus, the regime is so poor that it might be possible to cause its collapse by cutting off all outside supplies. But the US isn't going to directly attack North Korea and it is not clear that the other major relevant powers will go along with sanctions that are severe enough to cause the collapse of the regime.

So what will the Bush Administration do next after Iraq? Hard to say. Keep in mind that it is very unlikely that the Iranian and North Korean regimes will abandon their WMD developments and other activities that cause us problems. The only certain way to eliminate the threats that they pose is to cause, one way or another, regime change. If George W. Bush is really dedicated to the strategy of preemption then another regime will be targeted after Iraq. A lot of diplomatic-speak will be made claiming that the US is not determined to force regime change in the next major focus of US attention. But when that talk starts just remember that in December 2002 Colin Powell is still claiming that the removal of the Iraqi regime is not inevitable.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 16 10:19 PM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Project USA Says Guest Worker Program To Be Debated

Project USA examines the coming debate on guest workers in a missive entitled Guest Worker Program Looming.

When Congress convenes in January it is almost certain that legislators will finally have to address America's fiercely criticized immigration policies.

Clearly, the status quo is untenable. More than 11 million foreign nationals now reside with impunity illegally in the United States. Hundreds of foreigners die on our southern border every year attempting an illegal crossing. Armed citizen militia movements are forming to enforce immigration law. And, waiting in the wings, the nearly 5 billion who live in countries poorer than Mexico present an enormous political and security challenge. Across the political spectrum, consensus demands something be done.

It is very likely that the Congressional response to the political demand will be a guest worker program. Many policy-makers (and opinion leaders) believe that a guest worker program is the best way to balance political realities with the economic interests of those who profit by cheap foreign labor.

Business leaders will oppose any aspect of a guest-worker program that might drive up labor costs, but will ultimately support the idea, taking comfort in the fact that once a market-driven immigration policy has been institutionalized, it will thereafter be relatively easy to increase periodically the size of the guest worker program in order to meet future business "needs."

However, ethnic-identity pressure groups see a guest worker program as a backdoor way to import more of "their people," and will push very hard to make sure any guest worker program includes eventual permanent residence for the workers.

Permanent status must be resisted at all costs. The U.S. population is already set to double within the lifetimes of today's children thanks to our profligate immigration policies. We certainly don't need to be importing permanent workers on top of the already staggering numbers. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration and many in Congress -- primarily Democrats -- will be tempted to back a permanent status component in a guest worker program for ethnically calculated political reasons.

It would be good, of course, if there were no guest worker program at all; in a perfect world, the United States would simply enforce existing immigration law, reduce legal immigration to sustainable levels, and reassess immigration policy in light of the long-term consequences for all, rather than the short-term economic benefits for a few.

However, these policies are still some way off, and immigration moderates should recognize that, unless there is another 9/11, a guest worker program is going to be introduced in the next Congress (at least 2 are already being written). Furthermore, some kind of program will very likely pass. So, the question for immigration realists is not whether to support guest worker programs, the question is how to ensure that the new program is an improvement over the status quo, rather than a deterioration of it.

In July 2001, ProjectUSA published a list of conditions that any guest worker plan must include if it is to be fair, humane, workable, politically feasible, and an improvement over the status quo. It included:

=> Management. A new tamper-proof identification card must be devised that includes a biometric identifier, and an easily accessible national databank must be created through which employers could check the legal status of potential employees.

=> Enforcement. To ensure the integrity of the program, local law enforcement must be given the training and resources necessary to assist an overwhelmed INS (or its successor).

=> Time limits. Temporary foreign workers must be limited to a six-month stint, and then they must return to their homes and families for a period of at least six months in order to give someone else a chance to use the program.

=> Required savings. Twenty percent of the workers' salaries while they work in the United States must be set aside in a special account collectible only upon return to their country of citizenship.

=> Health care. U.S. employers who use temporary foreign workers must provide them with health insurance.

=> Anchor babies. The misinterpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, which grants automatic citizenship to babies born in the United States to temporary workers, illegal aliens, and tourists, must not apply to guest workers (as it likewise does not apply to the children of foreign diplomats).

=> Proper sequence. In order to avoid encouraging and rewarding illegal immigration, the temporary foreign worker program must contain a start-up phase that would limit use of the program only to those illegal immigrants already in the country.

These reasonable conditions would enjoy widespread political support. Additional provisions could mandate that employers provide transportation to and from the home country, and that workers be unaccompanied by family members. Strict oversight could ensure workers were not being exploited or abused. And, in order to prevent the undercutting of American workers, wages could be tied to prevailing wages in other industries not using foreign labor.

As we wrote in the summer of 2001, "We can expect the ethnic identity and cheap labor special interest lobbies to fight this sensible, fair, and politically palatable solution. But if they do, they will only expose their motives as unrelated to humane solutions or the well-being of the American people."

One reason I like the set of conditions outlined above is because these conditions reduce the economic burden that foreign workers impose on American taxpayers. Illegal aliens end up using hospital emergency rooms and other taxpayer funded medical services for poor people. The requirement that guest workers have health insurance eliminates one very expensive burden that illegals currently impose on the American taxpayer. One big problem with illegal aliens is that employers use them in order to get cheaper labor for the employers. But then the rest of the legal taxpaying population has to pay for medical care, schooling, higher crime rates, more police and prisons, and in other ways. The employers who use illegals are sticking the rest of the population for these added costs. This is analogous to the external costs caused by pollution when the price of a product doesn't reflect the costs of the pollution generated when making it.

In order to make the guest worker program effective as a way to reduce the costs of foreign workers it would have to be combined with a much bigger effort to prevent illegals from entering the USA and to deport those who do make it in. I have previously suggested a way to round up most of the illegals who are already here. Combine that with a border barrier on the border with Mexico and better checking of those who enter thru legal border checkpoints and the number of illegals and the cost of foreign workers could be greatly reduced.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 16 01:00 PM  Immigration Border Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(7)
Mark Krikorian reviews Michelle Malkin's Invasion

Mark Krikorian reviews Michelle Malkin's book Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists Criminals & Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores in this article entitled Welcoming the Enemy.

Malkin's new book, Invasion: How American Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores, counters these anecdotes with compelling stories of the fallout from our failure to enforce the immigration law. She tells us not only about the individual terrorists, criminals, and other foreign menaces, but also about their victims. She devotes an entire chapter to the case of Angel Resendiz, the illegal-alien Railway Killer, including capsule profiles of the people he murdered -- people like Noemi Dominguez, a 26-year-old former school teacher in Texas, who was raped and beaten to death by Resendiz in 1999. Malkin also tells the stories of police officers murdered by aliens who should not have been out on the street--such as the murder of Sgt. Ricky Timbrook of Winchester, Va., who was shot in the head by Edward Nathaniel Bell, an immigrant from Jamaica scheduled to be deported for earlier crimes.

Malkin’s chapter on human-rights violators from abroad taking up residence in America includes the tale of Kelbessa Negewo, a sadistic secret policeman from Ethiopia who was granted political asylum in 1988 and U.S. citizenship seven years later. In a chapter sporting the unofficial motto of immigration lawyers -- "It Ain't Over Til the Alien Wins" -- she includes brief descriptions of various immigrant lowlifes who have gamed the system to avoid deportation. One such is German immigrant Stephanie Short, who was convicted of encouraging her three-year-old daughter to submit to sexual assault at the hands of her stepfather--but was not deported because she supposedly had not committed a "crime of moral turpitude"!

Malkin's use of anecdotes differs from that in much of the previous debate over immigrant’s vices and virtues, in that it focuses not on immigration policy as a whole but simply on enforcement of the law. Rather than generalizing from individual stories -- some immigrants are criminals, so end all immigration or, conversely, some immigrants are geniuses, so end all border controls -- Malkin's emphasis is on profiling bad guys who should not have been able to do what they did had the existing law been applied. But the book is not simply a collection of anecdotes. Unlike most journalists writing about immigrants, Malkin, Philadelphia-born daughter of Filipino immigrants, actually learned something about our immigration system and uses the profiles of individual immigrants to flesh out her picture.

And it’s a grim picture indeed. She starts, naturally, with the 9/11 hijackers, and examines how they got here. She describes the myriad ways terrorists have penetrated our nation: lax border security; fraudulent marriages to U.S. citizens; bogus asylum claims; illegal-alien amnesties; lax standards in issuing visas for workers, students, clergymen, and wealthy investors; the visa lottery; and the Visa Waiver Program.

In explaining this, she does, of course, excoriate the INS for its many scandals -- crooked or incompetent employees, Clintonian bureaucrats lying to Congress, unbelievable technological snafus. But rather than leave it at that, as too many observers do, she digs deeper, to find out why we have such a ridiculous system in the first place. In two chapters -- "Pandering While Osama Plots" and "The Profiteers" (another virtue of this book is that you couldn't flip through it at Borders and claim not to know the author's point of view) -- she lays out the rogues' gallery of groups responsible for our inept immigration system: politicians pandering to Hispanic voters by promoting illegal-alien amnesties; ethnic pressure-groups trying to get drivers licenses for illegal aliens; local governments declaring themselves sanctuaries for illegals; universities seeking ever more foreign students, even if they're in the country illegally, and resisting any measures to track such students; the American Immigration Lawyers Association, "a powerful lobbying network against all major immigration reforms during the past four decades"; and, perhaps worst of all, the corporate rope sellers, like the travel and tourism industries (which seek to speed foreigners into the U.S. at any cost), or banks eagerly seeking the deposits of illegal aliens, or employers of cheap immigrant labor, or border-town chambers of commerce.

More in immigration and border control in the category archive Immgration and Border Control.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 16 12:01 PM  Immigration Border Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2002 December 15 Sunday
Jim Hoagland Expects UN Approval For Iraq Attack

Jim Hoagland thinks Iraq's weapons report is so bad that the Bush Administration may be able to get UN approval for military action.

Having to defend that mess of a report should embarrass even the Russians and the French.

The sighs of relief that U.S. officials exhaled when they got a first glance at the report tell me the administration will alter its strategy and pursue a second resolution actively. This would give Colin Powell a major diplomatic triumph that would be denied him should Washington go it alone.

Would the French, Russian, and Chinese leaders vote for a second resolution to authorize force? That still seems unlikely to me. The other factor weighing against a UN Security Council authorization is time. The US military is going to be ready to invade Iraq in January. If the US goes for UNSC approval that approval could take weeks or months to hammer down. That could delay the invasion till the point where weather becomes less than optimal. Plus, the US really shouldn't waste too much time before attacking Iraq precisely because there are other regimes that need to come under pressure next.

In a similar vein, Tom Holsinger believes that after the US has replaced Saddam's regime it may be possible to get UN approval for sanctions and blockade of North Korea.

Assume the U.S. government seeks a UN Security Council resolution requiring North Korea to deliver all its WMD and production equipment to appropriate international agencies for removal from the country, and to permit effective inspections by UN teams to verify compliance. Such a resolution would probably pass in the climate expected after publication of the incriminating archives of American-occupied Iraq.

Enforcing this hypothetical (for now) resolution if North Korea refuses to comply would be a quite different matter. Economic sanctions aka blockade, perhaps backed by limited military force, would be the most we could possibly obtain, but fuel &food sanctions could be very effective given geography.

Are Hoagland and Holsinger being realistic here? Once the US has control of Iraq the revelations about Saddam's WMD programs will sway a lot of people that preemption really was necessary in the case of Iraq. This will certainly help in an attempt to go after North Korea. But will China go along with such a move? If China doesn't go along then the best the US will be able to do is a cut off of all South Korean, Japanese, and US aid. The US might be able to conduct a naval blockade of North Korean ports and to get Russia to close its border with North Korea. But China might step in to try to prop up the North Korean regime precisely because the United States would be trying to make it fall.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 15 05:45 PM  Axis Of Evil
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2002 December 14 Saturday
Jim Hoagland on Trying To Control The Proliferators

The US government faces so many different weapons of mass destruction proliferation problems that it can't try to solve them all at once. Attempts to get China to pressure North Korea have met with no success.

"We have to deal with one urgent problem at a time right now," said a U.S. official. The implication was that Pakistan's past proliferation has to be overlooked while Washington pursues the war on global terrorism, disarming Iraq and shutting down any new nuclear leaks to North Korea. "What Pakistan does right now on those fronts is getting our intense attention."

China is another country of concern for the administration on North Korea. I am told that Bush delivered a private but crystal clear warning to President Jiang Zemin in October that China's willingness -- or lack thereof -- to help contain North Korea's nuclear ambitions would now affect U.S.-China relations. But the Chinese have not applied pressure on Kim Jong Il since then. Their private inaction during a time of leadership transition matches their public statements that they can do nothing about North Korea, says one knowledgeable and therefore worried American.

The US government has to worry about state sponsorship of terrorism, state tolerance of terrorists, states that serve as suppliers of WMD technologies, and states that are attempting to develop WMD technologies. Once the Iraqi regime is overthrown the US will need to move on to what to do about Libya, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and North Korea. It remains to be seen whether the Bush Administration will be willing and able to prevent all those states from doing WMD development and buying more WMD supplies from each other. Some of those regimes must fall in order for all state sponsorship and toleration of terrorism to be stopped. Some of those regimes will need to be invaded in order to put an end to their WMD programs.

So does the Bush Administration have what it takes to do all that needs to be done? Michael Ledeed says that the Bush Administration's caving on the Scud shipment shows they are not serious.

My understanding is that it took weeks to plan and coordinate with the Spaniards. Then the operation is launched, everything goes according to plan (or even better than planned), and we've got them, we've shown the ghastly North Koreans who's boss, we've exposed yet another pipeline to the terrorists — and then the Yemenis (the Yemenis!) have a failure of nerve (they must have taken a lot of heat and listened to a lot of threats), and they caved, and we caved right along with them.

I don't know what all the factors were that played into that decision. But its not encouraging.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 14 04:19 PM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
US Military Women Showing Hooters To Placate Locals

Jan McGirk reporting from Peshawar says the Afghanis and Pakistanis of the Northwest Frontier provinces were offended because they believed men in the US military were doing body searches on the local women. The locals were unwilling to believe that the US soldiers shown in pictures doing the searches were really women. So what's the US military's response to this problem? The Amazon women of the US military are showing what they got.

Some etiquette is evolving. Now American female soldiers start gun raids in Afghanistan by bounding out of helicopters and stripping down to their sports bras. Only then do they take village women aside to be searched. It is a quick way to prove their femininity to Afghan elders unaccustomed to seeing women in trousers. I reckon it must leave quite a few of the old boys slack-jawed and goggle-eyed.

Thanks to Cracker Barrel Philosopher for finding this.

Update: If you go to page 2 of this PDF file (requires Acrobat Reader or similar software) you can see the picture of Sgt Nicola Hall doing a search that so outraged the locals who thought it was a male soldier doing the searches.

Here's a US military Central Command story on the use of female military police to do searches on women in Afghanistan.

by Sgt. Reeba Critser KHOWST, Afghanistan (Army News Service, Oct. 30, 2002) - To this day, the U.S. military has its doors closed to women performing combat arms duties like infantry and cavalry. Nevertheless, three female soldiers in southeastern Afghanistan are breaking barriers as military police. Sgt. Nicola Hall, Cpl. Jill Osowski and Sgt. Stephanie Blazo have all recently accompanied infantrymen to complete MP missions. Hall is the first woman to accompany the infantry in combat operations in theatre. "Taking females out on missions was new to the infantrymen," said Hall, 21st Military Police Company, Fort Bragg, N.C. The female MPs assist infantrymen when Afghan women are searched. "It's tough work, what they do," said Osowski, 972nd Military Police Company, Massachusetts National Guard, Melrose, Mass. "It's a privilege to do it with them." The three travel with the men on almost every mission and have gained a new perspective on an infantryman's work.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 14 02:56 PM  Off Beat And Odd
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Should Turkey Join The European Union?

Writing in The Guardian Martin Woollacott asks Is it in Turkey's interests to join this Christian club?

Skilfully combining these positions with a continuing Islamist message and with not unjustified charges of corruption and economic mismanagement against the secular parties, gave the AKP a stunning victory. But that takes us to the heart of the Turkish problem now for Europe, which is that the Islamists have used Europe to take power for what we must still assume are Islamist purposes. The secular parties, meanwhile, and much of the Turkish middle class, see in that same Europe an antidote to Islamism, as well as to the military authoritarianism of the past. Turkish liberals are sure that democratisation in Turkey would be far less advanced had there not been the spur of Europe's requirements for entry.

Perhaps the Islamists have really changed. The party and the movement certainly include various currents of opinion, and both Gul and Erdogan are from its moderate wing. Yet it seems probable that two very different projects are still under way in Turkey, the one to make the country more Islamic, and the other to make it less so, and that both have now seized on Europe as a means to their ends.

Woollacott mentions the growth of the imam hatip schools in Turkey as a means that the Islamists have used to expand their ranks. They apparently seek to teach a new generation of Turks to be fundamentalist Muslims. This brings up an important question: Is there a higher percentage of Turkish school children attending Islamist schools than was the case 10 or 20 years ago? Is that percentage rising or falling? Will the AKP government increase funding for Islamist schools? Will the desire to achieve EU membership cause the military to hold back from blocking this move?

There is a very basic question that should be asked: Is the Islamist influence in Turkey growing or declining? A follow-up question: If Turkey joins the EU will the Islamist influence be more likely to grow or decline? Many in the pro-membership camp assume that EU membership will increase the power of the secular faction in Turkey. But it is by no means obvious that Turkey's membership in the EU will help ensure the secularization of Turkish government and society. If EU demands for greater religious freedom translate into greater latitude for the Islamists to get control of cultural and education institutions it is quite possible that EU membership will have the opposite effect. A Turkey outside of the EU is a Turkey whose military will be free to stomp down on the Islamists when Islamist influence begins to grow too strong. A Turkey inside the EU will be one whose historical protector of its secular character - the Turkish military - will no longer be able to perform that function.

Jonny Dymond finds young Turks in Istanbul cafes who doubt Turkey's suitability for EU membership.

It is not the grand clash of civilisations that disturbs, said Verda, it is that being Muslim means you embrace change more slowly, that you are culturally different. 'Muslims have a lot of traditions; they are not leaving their traditions, they are keeping them. A lot of my Muslim friends, despite being highly educated, think that they are not suitable for the EU.

'The reason is that they are Muslim, they have their own culture, their own lifestyle, and it is too hard to change it.'

Istanbul, said Verda, is different - not really Turkey at all, the cosmopolitan city has a history of European civilisation and intermingling of cultures. All the same, she says, it is not Europe either. 'It's like the combination of East and West together - one day you feel you are very European, very modern, the next you wake up and find out that you are from the Middle East.'

The EU is demanding greater civilian control over the Turkish military.

The EU has so far refused to start membership talks with Turkey until the government meets minimum requirements on human rights and democracy. But Mr Erdogan argued that tougher standards were being applied to Ankara than to other nations vying to join the EU. Although Turkey has passed laws banning the death penalty and granting more rights to its Kurdish minority, the EU has noted shortcomings in human rights, including restrictions on freedom of expression, the torture of prisoners and insufficient civilian control over its military.

Is that wise? The one institution that is most loved and respected by the Turkish people is their military. The Turkish military has protected the secular state and Turkey would be nowhere near ready to join the EU in the first place if the Turkish military hadn't played its role of constitutional protector for about 80 years. If Islamism grows as a force in Turkey and Turkey is admitted to the EU then what will the EU be able to do to stop the growth of a religious state within its borders?

German opposition leader Edmund Stoiber predicts EU membership for Turkey will destroy the political union.

“Membership for Turkey would spell the end of political union in Europe. We do not have that kind of integrative strength,” Herr Stoiber, the Christian Democratic opposition leader, said. “We want a proper political union, not just a free trade zone, yet that is what we would end up with if we let in Turkey.”

Germany and France agreed a “conditional rendezvous clause”, allowing the start of entry talks with Turkey in July 2005, providing Ankara satisfied the EU that it had met standards on minority rights, judicial and prison reform, institutional democracy and market economics. “If you set 2005 as a possible date for talks, as Chancellor Schröder has done, then you will not be able to hold up the process,” Herr Stoiber said yesterday.

When he talks about a political union versus a free trade zone he's making an important point: In order to achieve a political union one needs a lot of common values. The EU already faces enormous obstacles brought about lack of a common language, differences in historical experiences and differences in cultures between the existing EU members. There are large differences in living standards, levels of corruption, and the strength of civil society among the EU members. The addition of Turkey as a member would make the differences even greater and the number of issues on which a consensus can be formed would be reduced.

Dr. John Casey, a fellow of Gonville & Caius, Cambridge, believes that there are cultural differences that make Turkey incompatible with the EU.

The Turkish question is a much more acute version of a problem that could in the long run bring to nought the dreams of those who seek "ever closer union" in Europe itself. How can there be a European "state" - how can there be a common sense of allegiance among citizens of the EU - where there is no common language, where there is such cultural diversity, and where the political and legal traditions of at least one important European country - the United Kingdom - differ so radically from those of many of the others? Yet the European idealists can point to two great facts to oppose the sceptics. Almost all of Europe has a Christian inheritance, which means that the great majority of us, whether believers or not, are profoundly shaped by up to two millennia of Christian culture. You can only think this does not matter profoundly if you fail to see how culture overwhelmingly makes us what we are, and does help give us a sense of European identity despite the manifold differences.

John O'Farrell says the Europeans really need to figure out what they want to accomplish.

Turkish Muslims want the same things as European Christians: to get together in one happy internationalist family so we can all slag off the Americans. But try asking our leaders if we really want what was once a small common market to be expanded into a huge European superstate stretching from the Atlantic to Asia. Most politicians will say it is high time we had a full and frank debate about the whole issue. Which is their way of saying they haven't the faintest bloody idea.

He's wrong about what the Turkish Muslims want. They want to be as affluent as the most advanced European countries. Part of the motivation for creating the EU was to make a state that is as powerful as America. That is not going to happen for decades if ever. The newer applicants are driven by a desire for a better living standard. But as the EU has enlarged, lowered internal barriers, and adopted a common currency across most of its members the growth rate of the EU as a whole has not caught up with that of America let alone surpassed it. The EU's leaders and intellectual supporters should realize that the hopes and expectations for what the EU can accomplish have gotten so far ahead of what is realistically possible that a backlash against the EU may form.

Update: The economic disparity between the existing and new EU members is already taxing the limits of the generosity of the taxpayers of the richer EU states. Martin Walker reports that the new EU members together produce less than the 16 million people in the Netherlands.

The 10 new members have a combined population of 75 million, but a combined GDP of just $338 billion -- less than that of Holland. The EU is increasing its population by almost a quarter, but increasing its wealth by just 4 percent.

The EU's GDP per head last week was around $25,000, close to that of the United States. The new, enlarged EU's GDP per head next week will be just $20,000 -- uncomfortably close to that of South Korea.

According to the chart at the bottom of this article Turkey has a per capita GDP that is lower than that of all the 10 new EU members. While Turkey is ahead of Bulgaria and Romania they weren't let into the EU in the latest round either. Therefore money is a big obstacle to the acceptance of Turkey as an EU member. When West Germany merged with East Germany it was in a far better position to fund the reconstruction of East Germany than the EU is to fund the new Eastern European EU members, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. Yet, as Martin Walker points out, in spite of the large amount of money spent on East Germany East Germany still lags West Germany by a large margin and there is a brain drain and youth brain of the brighter and more capable East Germans toward West Germany. Imagine what would happen with a much larger income gradient between Turkey and Western Europe if Turkey was allowed into the EU with full labor mobility.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 14 01:20 PM  Europe and America
Entry Permalink | Comments(61)
2002 December 13 Friday
Barbara Lerner On Turkish Attitudes Toward America

While only 30% of Turks have a favorable attitude toward the United States (and that is down from 52% of a couple of years ago) Barbara Lerner tries to put these numbers into context.

To understand Turkish attitudes towards us, it helps to ask a question the Pew researchers failed to ask: "Compared to what?" A survey of Turkish opinion released in March did just that. This one was conducted by the Bosporus University European Studies Center, using a sample three times the size of Pew's. Instead of focusing only on the Turks' attitudes toward the U.S., they explored their attitudes to other nations generally by asking: "Which country is Turkey's friend?" Here are the results: 34 percent said Turkey has no friends; 27 percent said the United States; 9 percent said other Muslim countries; 7 percent said the European Union.

Lerner argues that Turkish attitudes toward the USA and Turkish opposition to a war against Iraq is in large part due to the expectation of its people that they will pay a large economic price for that war just as they did for Gulf War I. She doesn't think there is much in the way of cultural or religious hostility toward the US on the part of the Turkish people. She also believes Turkey deserves a lot more economic aid to cushion the blow that the Turkish economy will suffer from a war. It is worth noting in this regard that Egypt gets $3 billion dollars of US aid per year. That is almost as much as the Bush Administration has been reported as offering Turkey (reports range as high as $5 billion for US aid to Turkey). But the Turkish aid is a one-off and the Egpytian aid is yearly.

Is that aid to Egypt buying any friendly feelings toward the US among Egyptians? No, as the Pew Global Values Survey shows, only 6% of the Egyptian people have a favorable view of the United States. (it would be interesting to see how much of that support is from Egyptian Coptic Christians and how much of it is from Egyptian Muslims). The US aid is mostly paying for Egyptian acceptance of a sort of faux peace with Israel. While only 30% of Turks have a favorable view of the US the dramatic drop from 52% favorable of a couple of years previously probably reflects a response to US pressure on Turkey to support a US attack on Iraq. It will be interesting to see what happens to Turkish attitudes once Saddam Hussein's regime has been ousted. If this next war is not long and does not disrupt the Turkish economy as much it is quite possible those numbers will turn around pretty quickly.

Are the recent results in Turkish elections a sign of growing political Islam in Turkey? Well, here the Pew Global Values Survey again provides some useful insight. On page 49 of their main report Turkey is listed as one of the 4 bottom countries with least favorable views of clergy. Only 32% of the Turks think that their clergy are a good influence on the nation while 54% think their clergy are a bad influence. Clergy are ranked worse only in the Czech Republic and Japan. That is most emphatically not a sign that the Mullahs are becoming a powerful political force in Turkey. From the Pew report:

In Europe, roughly six-in-ten Germans and Czechs and nearly half of Italians (47%) say religious leaders have at least a moderately negative influence on society. Since 1991, the reputation of religious institutions has improved in the Slovak Republic and Poland, but it has fallen dramatically in the former East Germany, Bulgaria, Ukraine and the Czech Republic.

Among countries with substantial Muslim populations, attitudes toward religious leaders vary widely. Clerics are judged quite favorably in Indonesia (89%), Senegal (89%), Mali (75%) and Uzbekistan (69%). But just half of the Lebanese and Pakistanis agree. In general, the military is held in higher regard than religious leaders in most heavily Islamic nations. This is especially evident in Turkey.

More than twice as many respondents in Turkey give the military a good rating as view religious leaders in positive terms (79% vs. 32%).

Barbara Lerner's previous article The Secret of Turkish Democracy met with a very warm welcome from many Turks. The Assembly of Turkish American Associations publishes an interesting biweekly The Turkish Times. In a recent issue Mahmut Esat Ozan has praise for Barbara Lerner.

Barbara's words are not only to be regarded as encouraging pronouncements for all Turks who read her column, but they are also regarded as a bit of fresh air, amid the stagnated hypocritical pabulum generating from the member states of the said European Union. The courage of Ms. Lerner is obvious. She has what the French call that "je ne sais quoi" quality in her convictions that Turkey is equipped to meet European 'allegedly' high moral and political standards.

Its beginning to look more likely that Turkey will eventually join the EU. Turkey has has now been given a tentative date to begin EU accession talks.

Turkey will be invited to begin European Union membership talks "as soon as possible" after December 2004 if Ankara meets the bloc's stringent human rights rules, EU leaders decided early Friday at a landmark summit in Denmark.

Turkey may well be able to work out as an EU member. Still, even if there is not a political problem with Islam Turkey still poses two problems for the EU which much of Eastern Europe also poses: low living standards and political corruption. Plus, the extension of the EU's many rules into the less developed Eastern European countries poses and even bigger burden for their economies than those same rules pose for the more developed European countries. A big part of the motive for the Eastern European drive to join the EU seems to be a desire to be in an elite wealthy club. But the aid that the EU is providing to help the Eastern European economies to develop should be weighed off against the costs of EU rules. It is not clear that EU membership will be the economic bonanza that so many Eastern Europeans hope it will be.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 13 03:54 PM  Europe and America
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2002 December 12 Thursday
China Role In Pakistan-North Korea Tech Swap

Writing in the Washington Times Edward Timperlake and William C. Triplett, II say China has played the role of enabling principal for weapons technology swaps between North Korea and Pakistan.

Looking at the origins and development of the North Korean long-range missile program, we can say that without critical help from Chinese Peoples' Liberation Army scientists, there probably would not be such a program today. In 1994, the Wall Street Journal published a discovery by the American Defense Intelligence Agency that one stage of the new North Korean missile was a copy of the Chinese CSS-2 missile. Quoting the DIA, the Journal wrote, "Presumably, the only way they [North Korean engineers] would know how to build something the size of the CSS-2 is either by physical transfer of such a beast, or of engineers familiar with the program."

The regime in China has an interest in making Pakistan a greater military threat to India but China also wants deniability for its role. North Korea serves a useful role since China can just blame Pakistan's increased military capabilities on that rogue North Korean regime.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 12 07:52 PM  Axis Of Evil
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Gerecht: An Iraq War Won't Destabilize the Mideast

Former CIA and State Department Middle Eastern specialist Reuel Marc Gerecht, in an essay in which he argues that a second Persian Gulf War will not destabilize any regimes, argues that the only possible destabilising act that the US could commit would be to install a democracy in Iraq.

The one truly unsettling thing a second Persian Gulf war might unleash is Iraqi democracy. President Bush's rhetoric about Muslims' right to freedom has been unprecedented. Yet the administration has been vague about its aspirations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein. There may be good reasons for this vagueness, but it may also indicate that while promotion of democracy is high on the administration's list of ideals, it is low on the list of priorities. Practical American support for liberal ideas in the Arab world has been virtually nil. The administration recently faced its first really hard test: Mr. Mubarak's imprisonment of the democracy advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American. The administration failed to put any serious pressure on Egypt. This is the kind of corrupt stability in the Middle East that does us no honor and ultimately harms our interests. Bin Ladenism's appeal is unlikely to end in a Muslim world dominated by such unchanging despotism.

I think it is imperative that the US install a democratic system in Iraq in order to remove the argument that the US doesn't really value democracy. Install a democracy in a mostly Arab country and let the Arabs see for themselves whether they really do believe the set of values that are required in order to make a real democracy function.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 12 05:30 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
Europe's Scientists Call For Money To Stop Brain Drain

Yet another sign that the expansion of the EU hasn't made Europe a more dynamic happening place.

The United States spent 2.7 percent of its 2000 budget on research and development and Japan 3.0 percent, while EU nations have lagged behind since the mid-1990s, according to OECD data.

The U.S. government also plans to increase spending by more than 20 percent over the 2001-03 period, and Japan's budget has also been expanded, the letter said, adding, "No corresponding dynamism is visible generally throughout Europe, although there are exceptions like the United Kingdom."

If the EU could bring itself to abandon its Common Agricultural Policy it could use the CAP money to put Europe into the top ranks in research funding. Abandoning CAP would also allow European food prices to fall 20%. Yes, that is right. Eastern Europe's food prices are going to go up 20% when those countries join the EU. This is progress? Seems retarded to me.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 12 04:26 PM  Europe and America
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Eastern European Views Of EU Membership

Czech journalist examines the increasingly ambiguous feelings that many Eastern Europeans have toward European Union membership.

The leader perhaps most haunted by this possibility may well be Arnold Ruutel, the president of Estonia. His country is, along with Latvia, the only one where opposition to the EU already outstrips support - in Estonia by 42% to 32%. We might expect Estonia, having suffered so much from the Soviet Union over many decades, to be among the keenest countries to embrace Europe. Yet the Soviet legacy is more complex: the large Russian community brought in by Stalin to break up Estonia's national identity still makes up one-third of the population. And many more Estonians are unsure if Europe does offer the best route to break the legacy of outside control: "We are a very sceptical nation by nature and no doubt became even more so during the Soviet era, when bitter irony often helped people to survive the absurd conditions we had to live in," says Kertu Ruus, the editor of Foorum, Estonia's biggest political monthly magazine: "There are critics among the businesses who fear we will lose the privilege of our liberal economy should the EU force its own rules upon us. But there are also people whose arguments are more emotional - the outcry "Do we want another Moscow?" and the simple fact that EU passport is of the same red color as the old Soviet passport can also drive some people up the wall," she added.

This Christian Science Monitor article also reviews the deal that the Eastern European states are being offered and their reaction to it.

In terms of roads and infrastructure investment, current beneficiaries such as Greece and Portugal will receive twice as much EU funding per capita as the new member states. Under the current EU enlargement proposal, farmers in new countries will get just a quarter of the subsidies doled out in the old states. Moreover, the accession countries will be denied the EU's most basic right, the freedom of movement across internal borders, for up to seven years.

The European Commission argues that poorer states don't have the organizational ability to correctly fill out the complicated paperwork and utilize massive EU funding. Analysts within the EU also point out that, if new members demand the same rights as existing states, the whole enlargement project could be derailed. The last thing EU taxpayers want is some poor eastern cousin asking for extra helpings.

Its unfortunate that the already relatively poor Eastern European states (see the chart at the bottom of the Christian Science Monitor article) are being forced to enact so much legislation and regulation. Their economies are ill-equipped to handle the extra expense that all this regulation will cause.

The relative poverty of the Eastern European states and Turkey is also illustrated by the chart. Turkey has a surprisingly low level of car ownership. In spite of not having spent almost 5 decades in the Soviet Bloc Turkey is not that much better off than Romania or Bulgaria.

On a related note, Martin Walker reviews Ronald D. Asmus's book Opening NATO's Door about the politics behind the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe.

Asmus is equally good on the tough confrontations with the established NATO allies, and France's unhelpful role in pushing the cause of Romania (then palpably unready for NATO membership), largely because Paris through that the Romanians were Latins who would be susceptible to French influence.

The French suspected that most Eastern European countries would be instinctively pro-American voices in NATO, with little time for grandiose French hopes of a separate Europe-based security system, led from Paris. The fear was that if the French got their way, that could have been NATO's first and last enlargement -- leaving out the thoroughly deserving causes of the Baltic States.

Update: Writing in the Times of London Roger Boyes sees EU rules holding back Eastern Europe's economic development.

For sure, we should celebrate the growing together of East and West. But this long-winded negotiation, staggering this week into its final days, was conducted like a hostile takeover bid. Next year Central Europeans will hold referendums to approve the Copenhagen offer; not surprisingly it looks likely to be a close-run vote in several countries. The EU has behaved disgracefully: the historic fusion of the continent has become a petty exercise, a veritable flea circus.

Competition is being quietly, systematically squashed. Eastern regions with special investment incentives will have to be phased out — the Czech Republic cannot, after all, be allowed to lure investment away from eastern Germany. Just to make certain that Polish milk can never compete with imported German milk, the European Commission has declared that only 38 dairies meet EU standards. “We like our milk this way,” a Polish official recently told a visitor from Planet Brussels. For the commission, this is a very weak argument indeed.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 12 03:26 PM  Europe and America
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
US Navy Announces New Cheap Cruise Missile Design

The US Navy's Office Of Naval Research has announced the development of a cruise missile that costs only $40,000 to build.

A small turbojet engine, basically a modified automotive supercharger, gives the Affordable Weapon a range of several hundred miles, said John Petrik, an ONR spokesman. Commercial GPS sets generate the guidance information, with onboard processors available to accept retargeting or loitering commands from a remote observer via satellite or direct radio links.

Note the use of widely available commercial technology. This article quotes an analyst who dismisses the idea that this cheap design approach could easily be reproduced by rogue states or terrorist groups. But once some group has shown that a particular approach is possible it allows other groups to know where to focus their efforts. As cheap technology becomes increasingly more advanced the difficulty of developing weapons of mass destruction and delivery vehicles for WMD becomes increasingly easier. This trend looks set to run indefinitely into the future. The world going forward is going to become a more dangerous place as more potent weapons spread into the hands of smaller nations and non-governmental groups.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 12 02:22 PM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Steve Sailer On Demographic Future Of America

In an article chock full of interesting insights about demographic trends and patterns in America and the larger world it was hard to choose one to excerpt. However, there was a surprising demographic consequence of the 1986 illegal alien amnesty.

One little-known aspect of the large-scale 1986 amnesty, which might be relevant to the current controversy, is that it seems to have set off a significant baby boom among the Hispanic immigrants who were its prime beneficiaries.

According to data assembled by demographer Hans P. Johnson of the Public Policy Institute of California, in the mid-80s in California, foreign-born Hispanics women were having babies at a pace that would average out to a lifetime total of 3.25 babies per woman. As the amnesty took effect, this total fertility rate shot up to 4.44 babies per immigrant Hispanic woman by 1991. It then declined back to 3.25 babies apiece by 1998, the last year for which Johnson had data. This baby boom is now squeezing through California's intensely crowded school system.

Apparently, by allowing previously illegal immigrants to confidently put down roots in America, it encouraged them to have large families here.

The highest level US Census projection for the US population in 2100 is the absolutely mind-boggling number of 1.182 billion. Keep in mind that there are much lower level projections as well, But the US population is growing faster than the Census Bureau expected it to be when those projections were made. So a figure that high is not implausible.

The biggest factor that will determine how high the US population will rise is immigration. If Americans do not want to see the population of their country double or triple they are going to have to demand of their politicians that immigration be stopped.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 12 12:03 AM  Immigration Demographics
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2002 December 10 Tuesday
Victor Davis Hanson News Parody

Victor Davis Hanson flips the roles around.

In other related news, Indonesia issued a strong protest to Washington that the recent explosion at Disneyland that killed 200 Muslim tourists was "no accident" and that it expected stern measures to find the perpetrators of this "foul" deed. In response, press secretary Ari Fleischer denied rumors that a member of the White House staff, in an unauthorized interview, had suggested that "Indonesia should first look inward to discover why so many Westerners spontaneously wish to act out against Islamic visitors."

Adel al-Jubeir, policy adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah, expressed similar concern about growing intolerance toward Saudi citizens in America and predicted, "Just imagine: If America continues with this bias, pretty soon it will be illegal for a Muslim to set up a mosque or proselytize in America. And then, in effect, you will have created a monotheistic state, run by fundamentalists and the religious laws of the Old Testament. A monotheistic state no less!"

By Randall Parker 2002 December 10 12:00 PM 
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
David Warren On The Nature Of Islam, Rise Of Islamism

David Warren has written a long and multifaceted essay on the differences between the West and the Islamic societies. Warren argues (and I think correctly) that Islams's emphasis is different than that of Christianity.

The moral order of Islam, while it overlaps with Judaism, Christianity, and all of the world's "great religions" in many crucial respects, is nevertheless unique in its emphases. Building upon such essentially tribal values as trust, honour, manliness, loyalty, the duty of hospitality, it builds a moral order in which, I will dare to say, justice is the pre-eminent value. And it is justice, beyond all other values, that is demanded in the confrontation between the Muslim and the world, between the insiders of the Islamic family and the outsiders -- the people who still live beyond the Islamic "realm of peace".

How radically different from the Christian worldview, itself deriving from the Jewish, in which, from its own Gospel beginnings, the worldly virtues are presented as written into the natural order, accessible to all whether Christian or not, so that it is quite possible for a non-Christian to be a good and worthy man. Or, turning this over, in its full universal implications, Christ proclaims that there can be no justice in this world -- only in heaven. Every single one of Christ's parables hinges not on justice but on truth, and at the center of the Christian revelation is this uncanny statement, "That you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free."

Notice the juxtaposition of these two Christian keywords: "liberty" and "truth". Compare the word "Islam" itself, which means "submission" -- in the deepest sense of submission to the will of Allah, but necessarily including Allah's detailed instructions for everyday life, delivered not through the life-example but through the actual Book "transcribed" by Muhammad. Whereas St. Paul made a point of overthrowing all the old Jewish dietary customs

Warren also argues that Islam supports the idea of an extended tribe emcompassing all believers against all non-believers. Is this a result the tribal origins of Islam? I think Stanley Kurtz's contention that cousin marriage is at the root of the political problems of the Middle East is an essential component in any explanation to explain Muslim hostility toward the US and the West. Then an obvious question to ask is whether Islam effectively encourages (either directly or indirectly) cousin marriage.

Another one of David Warren's arguments is that the literary form of the personal narrative invented during the European Enlightenment encouraged the development of sympathy for others that are unlike oneself. He argues that this influence hasn't spread as far into Muslim societies. This may be so. But don't people in the Middle East read novels, diaries, and biographies? Do they read them but only about people in their own cultures? If the latter is the case then why? Do they have such hostility or lack of interest toward people who are outside of their culture that they don't want to read about them? If so, is this hostility or lack of interest caused by Islam?

By Randall Parker 2002 December 10 01:43 AM  Religion Secular Ideologies
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2002 December 09 Monday
Capitol Hill Politicians Reading Winston Churchill

There is an interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor about what the politicians and their staffers in the US Congress are reading. They are thinking Churchillian thoughts.

Winston Churchill is big on Capitol Hill, among both Democrats and Republicans. So is Kenneth Pollack's new book, "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq," whose title is derived from Churchill's "The Gathering Storm."

Not on the must-read list are books like Mark Bowden's "Black Hawk Down," a harrowing account of just how grim urban street fights can get, even for today's most elite forces. Nor, judging by interviews and the buzz on Capitol Hill, is there a surge of interest in "hearts and minds" books on Arab history or the culture of radical Islam.

The upshot: The ideas shaping thought in Congress about war appear to be clustered around a few simple, Churchillian themes: that there is a grave threat to national and global security that would be folly to ignore. That professional military advice is sometimes just "the sum of their fears." That there's no point in trying to understand "barbarism."

I think Churchill is highly appropriate inspiration for the current circumstances. His speech to Parliament on October 5, 1938 on the Munich Agreement is chilling.

Do not suppose this is the end. This is only the beginning. It is only the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to you year by year unless by a supreme recovery of martial vigour we rise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden times.

Churchill understands the nature of war:

"Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on that strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The Statesman who yields to war fever must realise that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events. Antiquated War Offices, weak, incompetent or arrogant Commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant Fortune, ugly surprises, awful miscalculations all take their seat at the Council Board on the morrow of a declaration of war. Always remember, however sure you are that you can easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance." - Winston Churchill, "My Early Life," 1930.

If you haven't yet read it then please go read Stephen Hayward's speech to the Capitol Hill Club of October 2, 2001 entitled A Churchillian Perspective on September 11.

In addition to his reflections on the nature of the military challenge at hand, he also had a lot to say about the clash of civilizations that played out in this episode, and which are playing out again right now.

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property—either as a child, a wife, or a concubine—must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science—the science against which it had vainly struggled—the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome."

Well, now. This is the kind of statement which modern multiculturalists would use against Churchill as proof of Western chauvinism or racism or worse. Though I am not sure very many people would dissent from this description of the Taliban, or any other contemporary form of radical Islam.

Hayward makes many excellent points. Go read him.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 09 05:26 PM  Politics Anglosphere
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Voice of America's Farsi TV Shows

The New York Times has an interesting article about the efforts of the US government to aim television programs at Iran's youth.

Another segment showed Iranian students at the University of Maryland enjoying Mehregan, a traditional Persian fall festival, without mentioning directly what viewers in Iran already know: that this secular holiday's celebration is discouraged by the country's religious leaders.

A regular feature called "A Day in the Life" uses a reality television approach to showcase ordinary Iranian 20-somethings living in the United States. As the jumpy camera followed Anahita Sami, a 20-year-old student, and her friends around the campus of George Washington University, she chatted about dorm life, exams, being away from home for the first time, nothing particularly exciting. But the point is made: Yeah, she can wear those clothes, say those things and do that stuff.

The separate VOA youth oriented Radio Sawa, budgeted at $35 million per year, is aimed at the youth in Arab countries. Considering how many tens or hundreds of billions (the exact amount is debateable depending on how much of the US military budget can be seen as due to the Middle East) the US is spending in the war on terrorism, domestic security, and related subjects the $35 million for Radio Sawa and the $8 million for the Farsi Radio (the NY Times doesn't appear to have a total cost for all programming aimed at Iran) seems like chump change. A larger effort is called for.

The US seems to have an interesting blindspot when it comes to "soft" efforts. Whether its radio and TV programming or its spies on the ground there is a tendency to not try hard enough with efforts that are less tangible in nature and more aimed at reaching and influencing minds. Physical objects used by real men warriors that are designed for doing direct battle with the enemy such as reconnaissance satellites, aircraft carriers, and fighter jets get tens and hundreds of billions of dollars spent on them per year. But the idea of cultural war isn't seen as credible for some reason. Its probably because most people can't see how the cultural wars play out. One can't easily observe what goes on in the minds of people in distant cultures living in oppressive and less accessible societies.

Update: Radio Sawa is quite popular in Jordan.

Meantime, new research from Amman, Jordan shows the credibility of Radio Sawa’s news is growing steadily.

When a scientific sample representing Radio Sawa’s target audience of 17-28 year old radio listeners was asked in a November 7, 2002 survey, "What station do you listen to most for news," 41 percent answered Radio Sawa, which made the station #1 in the Jordanian capital. That compares with 21 percent for the Jordanian Government’s Amman FM; 16 percent for MBC-FM; 10 percent for for BBC-FM and 6 percent for Radio Monte Carlo and Amman AM, also owned by the Jordanian Government.

Asked: "What station has the most accurate and trustworthy news?" Radio Sawa again was #1 with 39 percent. Amman FM garnered 21 percent; MBC-FM, 13 percent; BBC-FM, 11 percent; Radio Monte Carlo and Amman AM, 5 percent.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 09 01:00 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
Charles Krauthammer on Violence and Islam

Charles Krauthammer argues that what believers decide a religion means in any era is more important than its core texts.

Religions are interpreted by the people of their time and thus change over time. Scripture can be invoked to support almost any position. Islam has its periods of violence and its periods of tolerance. The Ottomans gave refuge to the Jews expelled from Catholic Spain in 1492. Today the Arab world is the purveyor of the most vicious anti-Semitic propaganda since Nazi Germany. (Egyptian state television is currently showing a 41-part television series based on the notorious czarist forgery "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.")

Which stands for the real Islam? The question is not just unanswerable, it is irrelevant. The real issue is not the essence of an abstraction -- who can say what is the real Christianity or the real Judaism? -- but the actions of actual Muslims in the world today.

This has become a fashionable argument to make. But is it correct? I don't think so. Do the various major religions differ from each other in substantial ways because they have different core texts? The answer seems like an obvious "Yes!" and hence the core texts must matter. Think of the core texts is rather like anchors that hold bouys into place. Each anchor is in a different place. There is some slack in the lines and so as the winds blow the bouys can move in different directions. But there is a limit to how far each religion can go. There are differences between them in their core texts that are inevitably going to cause political differences in the behavior of their different groups of believers.

The argument that the core texts doesn't matter is the more optimistic viewpoint. After all, if the core texts are all equally interpretable to support, say, liberal secular tolerant democratic political systems with a sharp separation between government and religion then any culture embracing any religion is equally capable of developing a political culture that is similar to the political cultures of the Western democracies. It also suggests a course of action where Westerners could call on Muslims to change their religious teachings in ways that do not conflict with Islam but which make Islamic societies more able to live side-by-side in peace with the other societies in this world.

By contrast, if the core texts really matter and if the conflicts between the Islamic societies and the rest of the world flow at least in part from core text differences then the prospects for a peaceful resolution of Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations become much dimmer. The war becomes a war against Islam itself and the war's duration becomes much longer and larger in scale and shares more characteristics of the Cold War where incompatible ideologies were in conflict.

Jim Hoagland brings up the question of whether values are universal as he examines an argument made by Paul Wolfowitz that a moderate branch of Islam will arise that will be compatible with a world value system

Islamic culture invites submission or revolt and largely ignores the political space between those two alternatives. Submission is best obtained by army and police rule. The system of choice inherent in democracy is anathema to fundamentalist Islam, which has increasingly turned to revolt against the secularized local regimes and the West.

This is the problem with the thesis Wolfowitz subtly argues in his London speech: He holds out the prospect that a reformed and moderate branch of Islam will emerge as a branch of a universal value system built on democracy. There can be no clash of civilizations if values are universal.

To Wolfowitz I say: How can you know that you are correct? The average nature of Islam has varied considerably over the period of its existence. But while there were periods of history when Islam was relatively more successful vis a vis the rest of the world when has Islam ever not required the submission of non-believers to Islamic rule?

Turkey is cited as an example of successful moderate Islam. It would be more correct to say that Turkey is an example of atheist and agnostic generals who spent decades forcing Islam out of public life while allowing a democracy to function. Why is this cause for optimism?

By Randall Parker 2002 December 09 01:22 AM  Civilizations Clash Of
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2002 December 08 Sunday
Millions Enter US With Fake Documents Every Year

Dr. Palmer Morrel-Samuels conducted a study for the INS that about 1% of the people coming thru controlled border crossings are carrying fake documentation that is allowing them to enter the country illegally.

Commissioned by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, the study concluded that between 2.95 million and 5.45 million illegal aliens cross undetected every year into the country through guarded ports of entry — with about one in every nine illegal aliens being detained.

The total does not include an estimated 3 million to 5 million illegal aliens who annually cross into the United States through unguarded areas along the border.

Morrel-Samuels calculates based on the percentage of illegals his team was able to detect in longer interviews of people who were already approved for entry. It is by no means certain that his team was able to detect all such illegals in the longer interviews. So he may well be underestimating the number of illegals who are being approved for entry by INS workers.

An INS manager claims the Morrel-Samuels study is not an indication that large numbers of terrorists are entering the country illegally. Michael Cronin would have us believe that the INS is much better at detecting terrorists than at detecting other illegals.

But Michael D. Cronin, INS assistant commissioner for inspections, said since the September 11 attacks the agency has "designed and calibrated" a border inspection system at the 300 guarded ports of entry that is designed to identify "persons of highest interest to us," including terrorists and other major criminals.

"Our highest focus are high-risk individuals, and that program is working," Mr. Cronin said. "I'm not going to suggest that illegal aliens are not getting through, but we are focused on counterterrorism and the identification of major criminals. And these folks are going to be caught."

I find the INS defense of their performance to be implausible. They are probably doing ethnic profiling to reduce the number of people that they look at closely in their search for potential terrorists. The ethnic profiling is certainly going to drastically cut down on number of people that they will look at closely. But even if we assume that all terrorists fit the INS profile it seems unlikely that the INS inspectors are taking enough time or even have enough tools in terms of computer systems to discover all the fake documentation.

Terrorists could still sneak in the country illegally without going thru controlled border points. Plus, terrorists could also get legal documentation by inventing a plausible reason for why they want to visit. Morrel-Samuels says half a billion people enter the US per year to visit. The INS would have to have an incredibly low error rate in order to be able to keep out all terrorists.

Morrel-Samuels was interviewed by Bill O'Reilly. Most of the interview is not too enlightening because, of course, O'Reilly isn't keen on letting his guests articulate very many complete thoughts. But Morrel-Samuels does manage to complete some sentences.

DR. PALMER MORREL-SAMUELS, CONDUCTED STUDY FOR THE INS: It is that as the study shows, a far greater number of people are slipping into the country through the ports of entry than we had previously suspected.

O'REILLY: So we previously suspected 13 million illegal aliens are here. You mean there's more than that?

MORREL-SAMUELS: Well, every year, the study suggests, about 4 million new travelers come into the country through the ports of entry, not by wading across a river in the middle of the night with a backpack, but by simply presenting documents to an inspector at a port of entry.

O'REILLY: That are bogus.

MORREL-SAMUELS: Well, in some cases they are. Actually we sampled about 5,000 travelers who had already been approved for entry into the country, and we tapped them on the shoulder before they left the inspection area, and we asked them if they'd be willing to cooperate -- and they all were willing to cooperate -- and go through a brief reinspection.

And, during that reinspection, which lasted about 20 minutes, we found that about 1 percent -- slightly less than 1 percent -- 1 percent of the people who had been approved for entry actually should not have been given approval, and...

You might be wondering whether prospective illegal aliens and prospective terrorists will hear about this latest report and decide that their chances of getting into the US are higher than they thought. Well, The Hindu of India and in The Daily Times of Pakistan are reporting this story.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 08 08:02 PM  Immigration Border Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
2002 December 07 Saturday
Debate On American Right About Nature Of Islam

In a December 2, 2002 press conference Ari Fleischer defended Mr. Bush's official view of Islam as a benevolent peaceful religion:

Q The Washington post quotes Paul Weyrich as writing, "Islam is at war against us. The Bush administration's promotion of Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance, just like Judaism or Christianity, it is neither." And Ken Adelman said, calling Islam a peaceful religion is an increasingly hard argument to make. Does the President believe that Weyrich and Adelman and others are wicked or ignorant or what?

MR. FLEISCHER: Lester, the President is proud to stand up for America's longstanding traditions of tolerance and openness and to welcome people who practice the religion of Islam in the United States and around the world. The President knows that Islam is a religion of peace. And like many religions, and like many beliefs, there can be individuals within a certain religion who distort its meaning and divert from the peaceful intentions of a religion, having nothing to do with the religion. They themselves are the ones who violate and twist a religion, and Islam is a religion of peace.

A few days later on Dec 5, 2002 President Bush visited the Islamic Center in Washington DC to join the celebration of the end of the month of Ramadan and repeated his publically stated view of Islam as a great benefit for humanity.

"Islam affirms God's justice and insists on man's moral responsibility," said the president, flanked by a half-dozen imams. "Islam gave birth to a rich civilization of learning that has benefited mankind."

Here is the full text of Bush's Eid al-Fitr message to Muslims:

*EUR407 12/05/2002

Text: Bush Praises Islam for Inspiring Honesty, Integrity, and Morality
(Issues message to U.S. and world Muslim community on Eid al-Fitr) (240)

Following is the text of President Bush's message to Muslims on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr:

(begin text)


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 5, 2002

December 2002

I send greetings to Muslims in the United States and around the world as you celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the Festival of Breaking the Fast.

At the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, worship, and reflection, Eid celebrates the renewal of faith, hope, and compassion. During this time of great rejoicing, Muslims give thanks for the blessings they have been granted, and demonstrate their commitment to the Qur'an's teachings by helping those in need. These acts of kindness and generosity strengthen communities worldwide, and as we observe this holiday season, I encourage Americans of all faiths to join in building a culture of service that demonstrates the true character of our Nation.

America treasures the relationship we have with our many Muslim friends, and we respect the vibrant faith of Islam, which inspires countless individuals to lead lives of honesty, integrity, and morality. This year, may Eid also be a time in which we recognize the values of progress, pluralism, and acceptance that bind us together as a Nation and a global community. By working together to advance mutual understanding, we point the way to a brighter future for all.

Laura joins me in sending our best wishes for a joyous Eid, and for health, happiness, and prosperity in the coming year.

Here are the comments by Bush on November 7 2002 at the White House Iftaar Dinner.

President Bush Speaks at White House Iftaar Dinner

Says Muslim values shared by other faiths in U.S.

State Dining Room

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Thank you all for coming. I'm honored to welcome such a distinguished group of ambassadors and American citizens to the White House to help usher in the holy month of Ramadan.

Islam is a religion that brings hope and comfort to more than a billion people around the world. It has made brothers and sisters of every race. It has given birth to a rich culture of learning and literature and science. Tonight we honor the traditions of a great faith by hosting this Iftaar at the White House.

I'm honored that our great Secretary of State is with us today. Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here. I appreciate Your Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, for coming. I want to thank members of my administration who are here -- in particular, Dr. Elias Zerhouni, who's the Director of the National Institute of Health. I want to thank all the ambassadors who are here -- it's good to see you all again. And the other representatives from the Organization of Islamic Conference. I appreciate so very much my fellow Americans here, many from the Muslim community.

Ramadan is a special time of prayer and fasting, contemplation of God's greatness, and service to those in need. According to Muslim teachings, this season commemorates the revelation of God's word in the holy Koran to the prophet Muhammad. Today this word inspires faithful Muslims to lead lives of honesty and integrity and compassion.

In hosting tonight's Iftaar, I send a message to all the nations represented by their ambassadors here tonight: America treasures your friendship. America honors your faith.

We see in Islam a religion that traces its origins back to God's call on Abraham. We share your belief in God's justice, and your insistence on man's moral responsibility. We thank the many Muslim nations who stand with us against terror. Nations that are often victims of terror, themselves.

Tonight's Iftaar also sends a message to all Americans: our nation is waging a war on a radical network of terrorists, not on a religion and not on a civilization. If we wage this war to defend our principles, we must live up to those principles, ourselves. And one of the deepest commitments of America is tolerance. No one should be treated unkindly because of the color of their skin or the content of their creed. No one should be unfairly judged by appearance or ethnic background, or religious faith. We must uphold these values of progress and pluralism and tolerance.

George Washington said that America gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance. This was our policy at our nation's founding; this is our policy today. America rejects all forms of religious intolerance. America grieves with all the victims of religious bigotry. And America opposes all who commit evil in God's name.

Ramadan and the upcoming holiday seasons are a good time to remember the ties of friendship and respect that bind us together. Learning from each other we can build bridges of mutual trust and understanding. Working together we can create a better future for people of all faiths.

I thank you for coming to the White House this evening. I wish you all a blessed Ramadan. God bless.

I'm going out on a limb here but I bet that no Muslim potentate invites Western diplomats to his place for a Christmas Dinner where he celebrates the virtues of Christianity. My guess is that doesn't happen in the Middle East.

By contrast, Conservative Paul Weyrich thinks Islam is so bad that the US Post Office shouldn't honor it with a stamp.

The story is this: We are not at war with a gang of terrorists. Al Qaeda is not the Jesse James gang with Arabic surnames. It is not even that we are at war with Islam. Rather, Islam is at war against us.

The sooner Americans recognize this fact then the safer we will be as a nation.

I have had much good to say about President Bush in recent months. But one thing that concerned me before September 11th and concerns me even more now is his administration's constant promotion of Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance just like Judaism or Christianity.

It is neither. That is why my colleague, Bill Lind, and I decided to urge the leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives to have the stamp be withdrawn from circulation, overprinted with the image of the World Trade Towers, and then reissued. The effort went nowhere, but the case for doing so remains clear in my mind because symbols matter.

Joseph Farah of World Net Daily believes we are at war with Islam.

People are dying – lots of them. In fact, more Christians are being persecuted today than ever before in the history of the world – even under the Romans. Most of those attacks come from Islam.

What we need to understand is that these attacks are connected. They are coordinated. Islam is on the march, again. The only question is whether we see it, acknowledge the reality of it and figure out an adequate response before it's too late.

Pat Robertson says "But at the same time, at the core of this religion ... is jihad"

ROBERTSON: It's been what you call the religion. If you look at the Koran, which is the foundational doctrine, if you consider that Mohammed is the prophet of Allah, you look at what he said, what he instructed his followers to do and then what they did for 1,400 years of unrelenting warfare against Europe and the Christian world, then you begin to say, "Well, this is the way they are." It's not a question of interpretation. Look at history.

Pat Robertson further holds that its not Mr. Bush's place to say what is the nature of Islam.

"He is not elected as chief theologian," Mr. Robertson said.

The persecution or elimination of non-Muslims has been a cornerstone of Islamic conquests and rule for centuries. The Koran provides ample evidence that Islam encourages violence in order to win converts and to reach the ultimate goal of an Islamic world. Conversions from Islam to any other faith are often punishable by death.

One example is the treatment of non-Muslims by the Islamic government of Sudan. In the past year, our hospital in southern Sudan was bombed seven times by the Islamic regime in Khartoum. These bombings pale in comparison with the two million Christians and animists killed, and thousands more enslaved, by the regime in recent years.

In most countries where Islamic law dominates there is practically no freedom of religion (not to mention freedom of speech or the press). In most Islamic countries, including so-called moderate Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, it is a crime to build a Christian church, Jewish synagogue, Hindu temple or any other non-Muslim house of worship. In contrast, there are about 3,000 mosques in the U.S., with new ones being built every week.

Muslims are free to worship Allah in the U.S., but Christians are not free to worship Jesus in most Muslim countries. There has not been a single church in Afghanistan since the exiled king, Mohammed Zahir Shah,

Franklin Graham thinks Saudi money is buying a lot of influence in the US.

"Our country is slowly being, very quietly, being Islamized by huge contributions from Saudi Arabia to our universities to pay for Islamic studies, to support Islamic causes in this country," Graham told the paper's editors. "I don't have a problem with that, but I can't go to Saudi Arabia and take even a Bible. I can't go to Saudi Arabia with a Bible. They will confiscate it."

A Temple University professor of Islamic studies and comparative religion expressed concern about the thrust of the comments.

"It's really the tone of Mr. Graham's remarks and his general kind of sweeping statements that are most disturbing," Professor Mahmoud Ayoub said Thursday.

I wonder whehther Professor Ayoub believes Christians should be able to go into Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries and work as missionaries for Christianity. My guess is that he doesn't.

Franklin Graham also thinks there is no religious freedom in Muslim countries.

From 40 years of traveling to the Middle East, and I have traveled to countries (including), Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan. I have seen when Muslims are in majority. There is no religious freedom. You cannot name one nation that has an Islamic majority where there is religious freedom.

I have seen the persecution. I have witnessed the persecution of people of different faiths by Islams. It is taught by them, it is in their Koran. They can't deny it.

I'd like to see Prince Bandar and Adel Al-Jubair explain on a US TV political talk show why the US should allow Saudi Muslim clerics come to the US to spread Wahhabi while US Christian clerics are not allowed entrance to Saudi Arabia to preach Christianity.

Dana Milbank has written a piece for the Washington Post that describes the debate on the Right about the nature of Islam:

Calling Islam a peaceful religion "is an increasingly hard argument to make," said Kenneth Adelman, a former Reagan official who serves on the Bush Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. "The more you examine the religion, the more militaristic it seems. After all, its founder, Mohammed, was a warrior, not a peace advocate like Jesus."

Another member of the Pentagon advisory board, Eliot Cohen of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, wrote an article on the Wall Street Journal editorial page arguing that the enemy of the United States enemy is not terrorism "but militant Islam." "The enemy has an ideology, and an hour spent surfing the Web will give the average citizen at least the kind of insights that he or she might have found during World Wars II and III by reading 'Mein Kampf' or the writings of Lenin, Stalin or Mao."

Cal Thomas argues we should demand that Muslims stand up to their own extremists because whether or not they respond by doing so we will learn their real intentions.

Pressuring "responsible" Muslim leaders to police their own house will help in two ways. If they do it, it will demonstrate there are true moderates who believe in pluralism and tolerance. If they don't, it will expose their real motives. Either way, Americans will benefit.

After saying "I guess I'm closer to the Islam-is-a-violent-religion party" Jonah Goldberg demands that Muslims stand up to fellow Muslims who are terrorists.

I will have a lot more sympathy for the complaints of Muslim activists once they put even a fraction of the energy they dedicate to portraying themselves as victims of bigoted America — or Europe — toward policing and condemning their own co-religionists. If they're afraid for their personal safety or even their lives — not an unreasonable fear — that's no excuse. Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and the rest may constitute hijackers in the cockpit of a peaceful religion, but they will define Islam if the folks in the main cabin don't fight the hijackers. That's what happened with Nazis in Germany, and that's what will happen with militant Islam if non-militant Islam continues to insist that its biggest enemies are the open and tolerant nations of the West that gave them the opportunity to live decent lives in freedom. If they persist in that complaint, nobody will be able to justly blame average Americans for scoffing at the suggestion that Islam means peace.

I think more commentators on the US political right should call on Muslims to denounce terrorism and to denounce the illiberal aspects of Muslim societies (e.g. lack of political and religious freedom and lack of tolerance for those of other beliefs). It seems unlikely that most Muslims really object to the illiberal aspects of Muslim culture and the demands will likely be met with hostility. However, if we make those demands the big benefit for the West will be that the Muslims will interpret our demands as a sign of our confidence that Western Civilization is worth defending.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 07 01:49 AM  Civilizations Clash Of
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
2002 December 05 Thursday
Hopes For EU As Military Power Considered Unrealistic

Writing in the Financial Times of London Anand Menon argues that the idea of a serious EU military force is a fantasy.

In a world of amorphous and unpredictable security challenges, military operations will increasingly be carried out by "coalitions of the willing" assembled on an ad hoc basis. The EU, however, lacks the necessary flexibility. After years of theological wrangling, it has conspicuously failed to come up with an effective mechanism to enable a small group of member states to act without the others. Moreover, the EU has never been good at involving non-members in its work. The exclusion of Russia and Turkey does not bode well when the most likely area of instability, and hence western intervention, is the Middle East and adjoining regions.

Even if the EU had enough hardware and personnel its member states could never agree to use it for anything.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 05 12:25 PM  Europe and America
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Charles Krauthammer On Deterrence Versus Preemption

In an excellent essay Charles Krauthammer argues that preemption is a safer form of deterrence because preemption will deter regimes from trying to get weapons of mass destruction in the first place.

DETERRENCE NOSTALGICS also conveniently forget its debilitating psychological effects. For fifty years, the peace of the world hinged on a balance of terror. As Churchill memorably characterized the central paradox, "Safety will be the sturdy child of terror, and survival the twin brother of annihilation." Terror and paradox are not easy to live with. To rest strategic stability on terror and paradox is to ask a lot of a democratic society.

Sometimes too much. During the now warmly remembered Cold War, ban-the-bomb and disarmament movements erupted with dismaying regularity. They reached their apogee during the nuclear hysteria that swept Western Europe and the United States in the early 1980s. This widespread collapse of the consensus in favor of deterrence saw the largest political demonstration in American history, an anti-nuclear rally that brought over 700,000 protesters to New York City in June 1982. Opinion leaders, academics, physicians' groups, major media, and the Democratic party were so seized by fear of nuclear war that they frantically sought escape by either a ridiculous solution--a nuclear freeze (it passed the House of Representatives 278-149)--or a disastrous one: unilateral disarmament. Indeed, the book that sparked the frenzy, Jonathan Schell's "The Fate of the Earth," perhaps the most celebrated book of the time, was an indictment of deterrence and a manifesto for disarmament.

The question whether to pursue a policy of preemption is the most important foreign policy question of the current era. See my collection of posts on Preemption, Deterrence and Containment for more arguments on this question.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 05 12:11 PM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Aging Populations To Cause Massive Financial Problems

Richard Jackson, adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has written a report for Citigroup Asset Management enitled "The Global Retirement Crisis".

He painted a picture of a world within just 20 years in which European economies had not grown for a decade and Japan, the world's largest debtor, has to ask the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout -- and is turned down by, yes, China.

"Global ageing threatens to bankrupt the developed countries, destabilise the global economy, and even overturn the geopolitical order," he told a seminar in Singapore.

"Within the next five to 10 years, the demographics will shift -- and the window of opportunity will close," he wrote. "Leaders need to act before it's too late."

The costs in public pensions and health care for the growing ranks of retirees will be immense.

According to his calculations, overall spending on public pensions is on track to practically double to 16 per cent of gross domestic product in the developed world by 2050.

The burden will be felt most in Japan, Italy, Germany and France. The rise there will begin as early as 2010 and climb rapidly for two to three decades.

Throw in health benefits for the elderly and the figure rises to an even more astonishing 23.4 per cent.

He sees trouble for the European Monetary Union.

“Global ageing may also usher in an era of greater instability for world financial markets”, Jackson indicated.

“As retiring baby boomers begin cashing out assets, some economists predict that the markets will experience a great depreciation.

“At the same time, government borrowings to finance retirement benefits could wreak financial havoc, widening pension deficits could shatter regional economic and monetary unions like the EMU [European Monetary Union]”.

Technological progress in biotech could change this picture as a result of the development of rejuvenation therapies that could allow people to work many more years at high levels of productivity.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 05 01:19 AM  Economics Demographic
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2002 December 04 Wednesday
Pew Global Attitudes Survey For 2002 Released

The Pew Research Center has released its Global Attitudes Survey:

urkish respondents differ from Europeans about the danger posed by Iraq. They are divided on whether the regime in Baghdad is a threat to the stability of the region, and just a narrow 44% plurality thinks Saddam Hussein should be removed from power.

Fully 83% of Turks oppose allowing U.S. forces to use bases in their country, a NATO ally, to wage war on Iraq. Further, a 53% majority of Turkish respondents believe the U.S. wants to get rid of Saddam as part of a war against unfriendly Muslim countries, rather than because the Iraqi leader is a threat to peace.

While Europeans view Saddam as a threat, they also are suspicious of U.S. intentions in Iraq. Large percentages in each country polled think that the U.S. desire to control Iraqi oil is the principal reason that Washington is considering a war against Iraq. In Russia 76% subscribe to a war-for-oil view; so too do 75% of the French, 54% of Germans, and 44% of the British. In sharp contrast, just 22% of Americans see U.S. policy toward Iraq driven by oil interests. Two-thirds think the United States is motivated by a concern about the security threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

In addition, respondents in the five nations surveyed (aside from the U.S.) express a high degree of concern that war with Iraq will increase the risk of terrorism in Europe. Two-thirds of those in Turkey say this, as do majorities in Russia, France, Great Britain and Germany. By comparison, 45% of Americans are worried that war will raise the risk of terrorist attacks in the U.S.

Suspicions about U.S. motives in Iraq are consistent with criticisms of America apparent throughout the Global Attitudes survey. The most serious problem facing the U.S. abroad is its very poor public image in the Muslim world, especially in the Middle East/Conflict Area. Favorable ratings are down sharply in two of America’s most important allies in this region, Turkey and Pakistan. The number of people giving the United States a positive rating has dropped by 22 points in Turkey and 13 points in Pakistan in the last three years. And in Egypt, a country for which no comparative data is available, just 6% of the public holds a favorable view of the U.S.

The war on terrorism is opposed by majorities in nearly every predominantly Muslim country surveyed. This includes countries outside the Middle East/Conflict Area, such as Indonesia and Senegal. The principal exception is the overwhelming support for America’s anti-terrorist campaign found in Uzbekistan, where the United States currently has 1,500 troops stationed.

Sizable percentages of Muslims in many countries with significant Muslim populations also believe that suicide bombings can be justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. While majorities see suicide bombing as justified in only two nations polled, more than a quarter of Muslims in another nine nations subscribe to this view.


The populace of Germany is surprisingly supportive of the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power. The difference between the UK and German governments on Iraq is not reflected in a difference in popular opinion. In both the UK and Germany 75% believe that Saddam Hussein must be removed and even 63% of the French agree. The lesson here is that we should not form judgements of a nation's people from its leaders.

Uzbekistan and Pakistan are both Muslim countries and yet 85% of Uzbeks have a favorable image of the US while only 10% of Pakistanis do. Uzbekistan is probably much more secular than Pakistan as a result of the Soviet legacy. Still, its surprising to see that the US is more popular in Uzbekistan even than in any European country listed.

While only 7% of Uzbeks and 13% of Turks think that suicide bombing in defense of Islam is justifiable 73% of Lebanese, 43% of Jordan, 33% of Pakistanis and 27% of Indonesians do. Even the lower percentages of Uzbekistan and Turkey are worrisome since it takes only a small number of suicide bombers to cause enormous harm.

The complete report is available as a 280k PDF.

Also, their Top Line PDF document is interesting. Canadians and Americans at 67% and 64% outscore any other surveyed country (see page 1) in terms of whether people believe they are living the best possible life for themselves. See page 5 for optimism about the future. Americans at 61% edge out Canadians at 54% but a surprising distribution is found among other countries. People in some African countries appear to be extremely optimistic about the future. The highest are Senegal at 91% and Ivory Coast at 92%. Maybe things are so bad now people think things can only get better. Or maybe they just have naturally optimistic cultures. On page 7 while 67% of Americans are very satisfied about their family life only 14% of Italians are. Though 68% of Italians are somewhat satisfied. See page 9 for a satisfaction summary table that combines "very satisfied" with "somewhat satisfied" for job, income, and family life. Note that Jordanians hate their jobs the most.

On page 10 of the Top Line document there is an interesting question about how people feel about how things are going in their country. In very few countries do more than half the population feel satisfied things are going well in their country. Uzbekistan and Vietnam both is 69%, Canada is 56%, and next comes Pakistan (what?) at 49% and China at 48% and then the US at 41. Pakistan is the fourth ranked country for how things are going in their country? That's weird. Then on page 11 Vietnam is the only country (51%) where more than half the country is satisfied with how things are going in the world. 33 of the 43 countries listed have less than 20% of their populations satisfied about the world at large. The US is at 17%, Canada at 18% and yet those happy Uzbeks are at 47%. I think we should start referring to the Uzbeks as "those happy Uzbeks" for now on.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 04 05:06 PM 
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
Mark Steyn On Sadomasochistic UNMOVIC Inspector

Harvey John "Jack" McGeorge, an UNMOVIC weapons inspector, was reported by the Washington Post to be "a co-founder of Black Rose, a Washington-area S&M club, and a former officer in the Leather Leadership Conference Inc". Mark Steyn has responded with a column entitled "The UN's foray into Saddamasochism":

That's what gives this story its piquancy. The term "Saddamasochist" applies not just to Mr. McGeorge but to the entire mindset which persists in the bizarre belief that a tyrant can be regulated. Officially, the UN's the S and Saddam's the M, but in practice we all know who's dominant and who's submissive. Indeed, in their kinky UNphilia and Kofi Annanism, the West's liberal elites have come up with the weirdest masochistic fetish of all, demanding that the role of global dominatrix be given to an organization that can't wait to prostrate itself. On Saturday, Mr. Blix's team admitted that the Iraqis had in fact been given advance warning of what are supposed to be "surprise" site inspections. One should never underestimate the UN's capacity to abase and degrade itself before the strongman's even had a chance to get his bullwhip out.

Perhaps Mr. McGeorge could help the UNMOVIC team by doing in-country training on how to strike masochistic poses at Iraqi officials.

The Washington Post article that originally reported this story also repeated doubts about the qualifications and experience of the UNMOVIC inspections team.

Past weapons inspectors have criticized the selection of inspectors, saying experienced candidates, including former missile inspector Timothy V. McCarthy, were passed over. The critics say the new team needs seasoning if it is to find minute evidence of weapons-making in a country the size of Texas.

"We just knew too much," said Richard Spertzel, former head of the biological weapons inspection team for the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq. "They couldn't pull the wool over our eyes."

The two renowned experts retained, Igor Mitrokhin and Nikita Smidovich, will not be conducting field inspections.

A later Washington Post article that reports that Hans Blix rejected McGeorge's resignation again raises doubts about the experience level of the UNMOVIC inspectors:

McGeorge was a Secret Service munitions specialist and a Marine ordnance-disposal technician in the 1970s. He has an associate's degree in security management from Northern Virginia Community College. His company offers courses in biological and chemical weapons.

Former weapons inspector Richard Spertzel said there is little substitute for experience, and that the U.N. training program doesn't fill the gap. "The training that UNMOVIC provides doesn't train them to be a good inspector," he said. "It gives them basic knowledge, and that's where it ends."

By Randall Parker 2002 December 04 02:58 PM  Inspections and Sanctions
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Hezbollah Wants To Conduct Terrorist Attacks Worldwide

Shiite Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah wants to go world wide in its terrorist operations.

The leader of the Lebanese Muslim group Hezbollah is urging a global suicide bombing campaign, increasing the prospect that the regional conflict between Arabs and Israelis will expand to mimic or even merge with al Qaeda's war against the West.

The Canadian government has not outlawed Hezbollah because its also provides social services:

The newspaper also reported that Bill Graham, the minister of foreign affairs, had decided not to outlaw Hezbollah in its entirety because the group is also involved in social and political work in Lebanon.

Not only is this policy foolish because it allows terrorist groups to move money around and to solicit money for terrorism thru their charity subsidiaries. The policy of allowing groups such as Hezbollah to operate also is naive because it fails to recognize the effects that Islamist charity organizations have upon the societies in which they operate. Walid Phares argues that Islamist charities intentionally seek to desecularize societies:

As evidence that Islamism is directed against traditional Islam and can “accommodate Western norms,” Messrs. Fukuyama and Samin cite the examples of women voting in Iran and the Islamist charities of Egypt, which, they write, “might yet help lay the groundwork of a true civil society.” It is dangerous, however, to view the evolution of Islamism through this liberal lens. Yes, the Shiite fundamentalists granted voting power to Iranian women—but in exchange for withdrawing their social rights. As for Egypt’s Islamist charities, far from being a Muslim version of the Lions Club or the PTA, they are tools for de-secularizing society and making it an extension of the Islamic state to come.

Canada's policy does suggest a way forward for Al Qaeda: open up a charity subsidiary in Canada and start doing public fund-raising aimed at appealing to Muslims there.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 04 02:19 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2002 December 03 Tuesday
Immigration Control And Asymmetrical Warfare

Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies discusses the national security needs for immigration control: in this essay "Asymmetrical Warfare and Immigration". (my emphasis added in bold)

Furthermore, the border security bill mentioned above is quite modest in scope. Hailed as a great advance, the law in fact merely lifted some of the more ridiculous limitations on the INS's ability to do its job and mandated reforms that won't bear fruit for years, if ever. And even the revival of long-ignored immigration-control tools, such as alien registration and change-of-address requirements, often come at the expense of efforts that would deliver more bang for the buck — but which are politically problematic. One such measure would be to roll out the experimental system already developed by the INS that allows employers to verify a new hire's work eligibility. Though less comprehensive than attempting to track all changes of address, such a system would give the INS much more reliable information as to the daytime whereabouts of the large majority of aliens. Of course, it would also significantly limit illegal immigration, and thus is unacceptable to interest groups that benefit from the status quo.

Because of this ambivalence about immigration controls, we remain vulnerable to attack. The vast majority of visa applicants are still never interviewed by U.S. consular officers; there is no significant enforcement of immigration laws within the country; efforts to use the military in a support role to supplement the Border Patrol have been rebuffed; and worst of all, government at all levels is blurring the distinction between legal and illegal residents by providing illegal aliens with driver's licenses, offering them in-state college tuition discounts, and encouraging financial institutions to open bank accounts for them using identifications issued by foreign governments.

This lack of seriousness about the security imperative of immigration control is particularly troubling because it applies not only in this war but also in any future war the United States is likely to fight. In a sense, immigration control is to asymmetrical warfare what missile defense is to strategic warfare. There are other weapons we must use against an enemy employing asymmetrical means — more effective international coordination, improved intelligence gathering and distribution, special military operations — but in the end, ineffective immigration control leaves us naked in the face of the enemy.

It is a characteristic of modern technology that it allows very small numbers of people to inflict enormous damage and death on large numbers of people. This characteristic will become much more amplified the more that technology advances. Immigrant populations that contain even 1% of very angry elements motivated and organized by a hostile religious ideology or other ideology are an enormous national security risk.

More from the Center of Immigration Studies on terrorism and immigration here.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 03 11:37 AM  Immigration Border Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Jewish Groups Begin To Shift On Immigration Policy

Jewish groups in America are beginning to debate whether a continued high level of immigration poses problems that are too great.

Although no Jewish agency has formally switched sides, the professional head of one major national organization, who requested anonymity, told the Forward: "It seems that Jewish opinions are changing and trending toward more concern about security issues than in the past."

The AJCommittee's 2001 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion showed a stark drop in support for maintaining current immigration numbers. In 2001, 49% of those polled wanted immigration numbers decreased, compared to 27% the year before.

Among the advocates of immigration restrictions who have been seeking inroads in the Jewish community are Stephen Steinlight, editor of South Asia in Review and a onetime AJCommittee director of national affairs; Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform in Washington, and Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.

Speaking of the Center for Immigration Studies, they have a new report out entitled "Immigration Numbers Continue to Climb". Here are some items from the summary of the report.

  • There is no evidence that the economic slowdown that began in 2000 or the terrorist attacks in 2001 has significantly slowed the rate of immigration. More than 3.3 million legal and illegal immigrants entered the country between January 2000 and March 2002.
  • An immigrant population of 33.1 million is historically unprecedented. It is more than twice the number (13.5 million) reached in 1910 during the previous great wave of immigration.
  • Immigration has become the determinate factor in U.S. population growth. The arrival of over 3 million legal and illegal immigrants, coupled with 1.5 million births to immigrant women over the last two years, accounts for nearly 90 percent of U.S. population growth since the 2000 census.
  • While immigration has a dramatic effect on the overall size of the U.S. population, it has had a relatively modest effect on the age structure. The nearly 16 million immigrants who arrived in the United States since 1990 have lowered the average age in the United States by only four months.
  • The percentage of immigrants without a high school diploma is 30 percent, more than three-and-a-half times the rate for natives. Since 1990 immigration has increased the number of high school dropouts in the labor force by 21 percent while increasing the supply of all other workers by 5 percent.
  • The poverty rate for immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) is two-thirds higher than that of natives and their children, 17.6 percent versus 10.6 percent for natives.
  • The proportion of immigrant headed households using at least one major welfare program is 24.5 percent compared 16.3 percent for native households.
  • One-third of immigrants do not have health insurance — two-and-one-half times the rate for natives, and new immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 95 percent of the increase in the uninsured population since 1989.

Read the full text of the report.

Since they make less money, pay less taxes, demand more government services, and are not lowering the average age of the country by much they are not going to be a solution to the demographic problem of an increasing ratio of retired people to working people. In fact, as an additional group that needs more government help they will make the long term fiscal problems of supporting old people even worse.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 03 11:12 AM  Immigration Border Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
Vernon Smith: Pricing For Handling Terrorist Attacks

Brendan Miniter says new Noble Prize winner in economics, Vernon Smith, proposes the development of a pricing system to deal with the effects of electric shortages caused by a terrorist attack against nuclear power generation facilities:

It doesn't have to be this way. Instead, authorities could develop a pricing system that would help them determine which are the more important and essential uses of power in the event of an emergency. Price can quickly allocate power to where it is needed, helping the city ride out a major disruption while keeping the power on for hospitals and--by charging a little more--allow homeowners to run some of their more essential appliances. In short, even terrorists can't beat the laws of economics.

I think the really big problem that needs to be worked out ahead of time is how to quickly reduce exposure of people to other people in response to the terrorist release of some bioweapon that can be transmitted from person to person. Some essential services would need to be carried out. But the amount to which people would come into face-to-face contact would need to be radically reduced (and everyone would need to wear the equivalent of surgical masks and other stuff to reduce transmission of pathogens). Could an economic system be developed ahead of time to help deal with such a scenario?

By Randall Parker 2002 December 03 10:41 AM 
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Fukuyama's Critics On Modernizing Islam

In the Commentary Magazine there are responses to an earlier article by Francis Fukuyama and Nadav Samin entitled “Can Any Good Come of Radical Islam?”. You can find the original article republished on the WSJ site and also at this URL as well.

Here are a couple of excerpts of responses published in the Commentary December 2002 issue:

Martin Kramer:

In “Can Any Good Come of Radical Islam?” [September], Mr. Fukuyama and his co-author Nadav Samin concur that Islamism is a destructive force that warrants comparison with Communism and fascism. But, they write, it might also be a modernizing one—it might, despite itself, strip away the traditional constraints that have prevented Muslims from modernizing. And if Islamism, in turn, can be stripped of its ideology, then perhaps it might turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

If. And if only. In Francis Fukuyama, Hegel springs eternal, and it was Hegel who passed this judgment early in the 19th century: “Islam has long vanished from the stage of history, and has retreated into oriental ease and repose.” The persistent refusal of Islam to do just that remains one of the principal flaws of “endism,” from Hegel to this day—that is, for as long as the modern West has rubbed shoulders with Islam.

After some two centuries, the evidence is compelling. Islam has been an inexhaustible power cell for scores of movements that have defied the values of modern liberalism. From Mahdism to bin Ladenism, from the Muslim Brotherhood to the Taliban, Islam continues to generate new and potent antidotes to the infection of the West. All of which suggests that the power of radical Islam (like Islam itself) is its ability to mutate—to adapt itself to ever-changing circumstances. Today it ingeniously exploits the very modernism that it seeks to thwart. Just when you think it is outmoded—as many analysts thought 30 years ago—it suddenly reappears in some completely new (and often more virulent) form.

The only mechanism by which Islamism could strip away the old order in the Middle East would involve revolutions, decades of repressive Islamic regimes ala Iran, and likely a war (or series of wars) of such proportion that millions or even tens or hundreds of millions would die. Even if revolution followed by Islamist rule could be gauranteed to eventually produce a liberal secular backlash we can not afford to wait that long. If more Islamist governments came to power the likely result would be more regimes working to develop WMD while supporting terrorist attacks on Western targets. The threat of growing WMD proliferation should be an argument against the idea of allowing Islamists to take over more countries. We can not afford to allow Islamists to play out some big Hegelian learning experience to cause Muslim people to see that repressive Islamic rule is a bad idea.

Stanley Kurtz:

This seeming resignation about the prospects for Islamic societies also points to a problem with Mr. Fukuyama’s famous thesis, in “The End of History?” (1989), that the world is moving inexorably toward liberal democracy. By conceding that modernization among Muslims is far in the future, Mr. Fukuyama implies a measure of agreement with one of his key critics, Samuel Huntington, who argued—presciently, many believe—that the end of the cold war would bring about a “clash of civilizations” based on religion and culture. Huntington has advised restraint in America’s efforts to spread democracy.

Huntington was right about the sources of our current conflict, but he failed to take account of technological advance, especially with respect to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This has made it much more difficult for America to tolerate undemocratic regimes based on non- or anti-Western cultural assumptions. Mr. Fukuyama, for his part, did not foresee this particular turn of the wheel, but he has long argued that the “mechanism of modern natural science” would bring about global democracy.

The question we face today, and which neither thinker has fully addressed, is what will happen when the irresistible force of Western conquest and democratization bangs up against the immovable object of Islamic social and cultural tradition.

The problem is that technological advance steadily increases the amount of damage that smaller countries and groups can do to the rest of the world.

As part of their rebuttal Fukuyama and Samin say:

No one knows whether this will in fact happen, but there is some reason to expect that the political wheel will turn again. While Islamism may be a highly effective tool of political mobilization, it has been a disaster as a governing ideology in the three countries where it has come to power: Iran, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia. None of our respondents save Larry Diamond has acknowledged the real prospects for liberalization present in a country like Iran that has had to endure Islamist theocracy—the backlash to the backlash, so to speak.

Their inclusion of Saudi Arabia in their list of countries that have been governed by Islamic ideology ought to show them an error in their argument. Unlike the case of Iran we do not see large street demonstrations and growing calls for secular government in Saudi Arabia. The people in Saudi Arabia have lived under a strict religious system of government for decades longer than the case of Iran and yet there is little in the way of a secular backlash in Saudi Arabia and in fact quite a few Saudi Arabians are radicalized and willing to join terrorist groups.

Where are the signs of an Islamic Reformation that would parallel Protestant Reformation? Moderate Muslim voices are frightened into silence. Even in the US they are threatened.

See my previous post on Fukuyama, Samuel P. Huntington, and Stanley Kurtz.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 03 12:52 AM  Religion Secular Ideologies
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2002 December 02 Monday
Steve Sailer: GOP vote orthodoxy shy on facts

Steve Sailer argues that the neo-conservatives are misrepresenting the reasons for the Republican Party's electoral victory in 2002.

When Bush lost the popular vote in 2000, less than 10 percent of his votes came from minorities. So, it's easy to see why many commentators assumed that the GOP would have to win more votes from minorities to win in the future.

In 2002, however, in all likelihood the GOP drew an even smaller share of its support from minorities. Yet, the Republicans triumphed at the polls, winning about 53 percent of the two-party vote.

No single poll result should be trusted, especially this year when the collapse of the VNS national exit poll made analysts' jobs even harder.

Still, a wide variety of results from both state and small-scale national polls suggest that the non-Hispanic white share of the total vote was up in 2002 over 2000 and thus the minority share was down. Further, Republican candidates may have won a larger share of the white vote than in 2000.

More on the voting patterns by ethnic groups here.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 02 03:56 PM  Immigration Border Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2002 December 01 Sunday
The Problem Of Saudi Money And Wahhabism

Jim Hoagland argues that the Saudis have got to stop the practice of paying what is essentially protection money to the most extremist Islamist factions:

America's war on terrorism and the disappearance of abundant petrodollar surpluses bring the Saudi rulers to a traumatic moment of choice. To survive in the 21st century, they must actively help put the extortionists and terrorists out of business rather than fund and shield them.

The biggest change must come at home: The House of Saud must end the Faustian bargain it originally made with the country's extremist Wahhabist sect, which was given significant sway over the kingdom's social, economic and political life in return for supporting the monarchy. Wahhabi clerics have used Islamic charity as a cover to promote terrorism and hatred in the Middle East and Central Asia. The Saudi monarchy must disown and de-legitimize the extremists or remain mired in a disappearing world.

Claude Salhani points to the increasing pressure on the Saudis to cut off the financial flows that are helping terrorists and to spread Wahhabi Islam.

Amid the continuing anti-Saudi frenzy gripping those inside the Washington Beltway, the Princess Haifa affair is certainly blown out of all proportions -- after all, it is quite obvious she would never finance the Sept. 11 hijackers -- this is simply not in her lifestyle. Still, Saudi Arabia must come to grips with reality and conduct a deeper audit of its finances and eradicate certain money trails or face the consequences.

A National Security Council task force is recommending an action plan to the president designed to force Saudi Arabia to crack down on terrorist financiers within 90 days or face unilateral U.S. action.

Jeff Gerth and Judith Miller make the argument that I think explains the Bush Administration's position: Administration can't afford to offend a nation it needs in case of war. Then they go on to report just how much a problem Saudi money is for the US:

Outside experts have been more critical. A report sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations last month said Saudi Arabia was the largest source of financing for al-Qaida, and blamed both the U.S. and Saudi governments for not being tough enough.

Matthew Levitt, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former terrorism analyst for the FBI, said Saudi officials and state-paid religious leaders sat on the boards of charities the American government suspected of supporting terrorism.

Once the US military removes Saddam's regime from power the Bush Administration will be in a much stronger position from which to pressure the Saudis. That is an argument for deposing Saddam sooner rather than later.

Still, people who believe that if we would just pressure the Saudis to stop funding terrorism that the size of the threat would be greatly diminished are not appreciating all the dimensions of the problem. For the US and the West the problem is not just that the Saudi regime is paying money directly to terrorists to buy protection for themselves. If intelligence reports are to be believed there are wealthy private Saudi citizens who are willingly and eagerly supporting terrorists. But even if both sources of support could be cut off the Saudis would still be generating threats for us in part because the Saudis are raising their own children to believe things that make them feel hostility toward us. But that is not the worst of it. They are also financing the spread of their version of Islam and in the process helping to radicalize Muslims all around the world. Our biggest problem is that people are being taught to believe the sorts of ideas that make them want to become terrorists in the first place.

Saudi money funds Islam in America:

Saudi Arabian donations have helped finance more than 1,700 mosques, Islamic centers and schools around the world. The kingdom has fully or partially financed Islamic centers in Los Angeles; San Francisco; Fresno; Chicago; New York; Washington; Tucson; Raleigh, N.C.; and Toledo, Ohio.

Even if all the Saudi money that flows into terrorism and into Islamic evangelism was cut off (and that is very unlikely to happen) we'd still be faced with the continued spread of the more fundamentalist varieties of Islam. Saudi Arabia is not the only source of funding for that spread. Also, money is not the only reason for its spread. Technology is lowering the cost of transportation and communications and thereby allowing the Islam of the Middle East to more easily spread into other areas. At the same time, the threat of Westernism and modernization is causing similar reactions in many Moslem countries.

Our problem is that we are not just fighting terrorists and their financial supporters. We are also fighting a religious ideology. There are few signs of a political willingness to do battle with that.

You can read more about the CFR report on Saudi terror funding here.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 01 08:49 PM  Axis Of Evil
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
Exxon and Mobil As Pillars Of Democracy In Iraq

This story by Kim Sengupta in the UK Independent is an argument for taking out Saddam's regime sooner rather than later. Best not to let the Iraqi economy get too bad. The US needs the good will of the Iraqi people. The run-up to the war is causing a collapse in the Iraqi economy:

"They are welcome to come here any time. We have been here 35 years, and we have always welcomed foreign visitors." He becomes serious. "We used to have 20 workers, now it is down to 12. It is very, very tough now. People are not buying. Why should they paint a house which might get bombed? It is not as if we can sell our goods abroad. That ended a long time ago."

Foreign traders who had been working with the regime as brokers, especially in the oil business, see the vast sums they made disappearing if America does come and introduce such pillars of democracy as Exxon and Mobil.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 01 04:40 PM 
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
UN IAEA Tipped Iraqis Twice On Inspection Sites

The argument that the UN people needed Iraqi help to remove the air filter seems ridiculous. If the UNMOVIC people want to examine the old air filter for evidence then this defeats the purpose. The Iraqis could have replaced the air filter the night before

BAGHDAD -- Serious doubts surfaced over the surprise nature of new arms inspections in Iraq when a United Nations spokesman admitted the head of a suspected weapons site had been given advance warning of the visit by the UN experts to his facility on Saturday.

'He was informed the day before, on Friday, that the team was coming to remove an air sampler and install a new one,' UN spokesman Hiro Ueki told AFP by phone shortly after denying at a press briefing that the UN had tipped off the Iraqis.

What will happen to the Iraqi Hussein Hammudeh who told reporters about the tip-off? That might be unhealthy for him. After all, Saddam doesn't want anything to come out that makes the UN inspections look ineffective.

By Randall Parker 2002 December 01 04:09 PM  Inspections and Sanctions
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Jim Hoagland On Inspections And Triggers For War

Jim Hoagland argues that effective inspections may not be needed in order to trigger war against Iraq.

The political and diplomatic costs of going to war dominate public discussion. But imagine the costs involved in the opposite situation of an American president failing to deal with a serious threat to world peace because he has been boxed in by U.N. inspections that are seen to be ineffective or rigged. That result would shatter Bush's presidency, beginning with his national security team, which argued bitterly over the inspections last summer. It would erase significant U.S. support for the United Nations for a decade and more. America's influence in the Middle East and its protective shield for Israel would be shredded.

The ridiculous premise behind the inspections is that inspections are capable of finding the secret weapons development equipment and the weapons. But as the Times of London has reported Saddam is hiding the equipment in private houses. (or see the same article reprinted on the Fox News site).

SADDAM HUSSEIN has ordered hundreds of his officials to conceal weapons of mass destruction components in their homes to evade the prying eyes of the United Nations inspectors.

According to a stream of intelligence now emerging from inside Iraq, the full extent of the Iraqi leader’s deception operation is now becoming apparent. As the UN inspectors knock on the doors of the major military sites in Iraq, suspected of housing chemical and biological weapons and banned missiles, the bulk of the evidence is being secreted away in people’s homes.

Iraq has millions of private dwellings. Will UNMOVIC be willing to try to search some of them? If it does will it get lucky and choose one that has something hidden in it? Also, how will UNMOVIC find weapons that are buried under mosques and other buildings?

In the face of the Iraqi regime's ability to conceal its equipment and weapons Thomas Friedman argues that the best hope for discovering where the weapons and WMD development equipment is hidden is for an Iraqi to decide to tell the UN some useful information:

But this leads to the second issue, which is a deeper moral question. Is there an Iraqi Andrei Sakharov? Is there just one Iraqi scientist or official who wants to see the freedom of his country so badly that he is ready to cooperate with the U.N. by submitting to an interview and exposing the regime's hidden weapons?

It takes just one person in Iraq who wants these inspections to be real, who wants Saddam to be exposed, and the whole house of cards comes down.

There may be no Iraqi who is willing to run the risk of trying to cooperate with UNMOVIC. The Iraqi would have to signal somehow that he wants to cooperate and then hope that he or his family members do not end up dead before Blix might get the scientist and his family taken out of the country. Blix may not even be willing to try to remove an Iraqi scientist and his family outside of Iraq to be questioned. Is any Iraqi scientist willing to gamble their life and the lives of their family members on that? George W. Bush and Tony Blair may not get hard simple proof from the inspections and will still end up being faced with the decision of whether to attack Iraq without the that kind of evidence.

UNMOVIC is at a huge disadvantage to the Iraqi regime. For instance, UNMOVIC's personnel may not even be able to hold conversations among its members in Iraq without being heard by Iraqi intelligence agents. The UNMOVIC team is trying to prevent Iraqi electronic eavesdropping devices from overhearing their conversations:

The Iraqis systematically bug buildings in Baghdad and there are fears that no counter-surveillance technology can prevent them bugging the hotel the UN team is using as a base. Reports suggest that during briefings at the hotel this week inspectors refrained from naming sites they planned to visit and instead pointed in silence to their location on maps.

The Bush Administration is sending envoys to Europe to attempt to build support for military action against Iraq:

Correspondents say the officials will be following up American requests to governments for military contributions, and seeking to build a more solid political coalition against Iraq.

An unnamed French diplomat is reported to have produced his own proposed resolution on Iraq:

Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions, in particular resolution 661 (1990), 678 (1990), 686 (1991), 687 (1991), 688 (1991), 707 (1991), 715 (1991), 986 (1995), 1284 (1999), 1382 (2001) and the just-adopted 1441 (2002), as well as the relevant statements of its President, Security Council members and Larry King thereon,

Deploring the fact that Iraq has repeatedly obstructed immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to sites designated by the United Nations and CNN,

Remaining slack-jawed that previous U.N. weapons inspectors were foiled by locked doors and clever explanations such as "Those are my wife's medical records,"

Marveling at the successful game of three-card monte that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has played for nearly a decade,

Confessing that the United States will likely do whatever it wants regardless of this august body and that it is in the paramount interests of the United Nations to appear to be relevant as long as possible,

By Randall Parker 2002 December 01 01:20 AM  Inspections and Sanctions
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Advertise here. Contact randall dot parker at ymail dot com
Web parapundit.com
Site Traffic Info