2003 August 27 Wednesday
Nicholas Eberstadt on North Korean Nuclear Weapons Program

Here's a very important article by Nicholas Eberstadt on the extreme unlikelihood that North Korea will agree to verifiable nuclear disarmanent.

North Korea is entirely unlikely to be talked out of its nuclear weapons program. This happens to be one of those sorry international disputes in which the most desirable outcome is also the least likely. Indeed, the practical obstacles to securing an irreversible and verifiable end to Pyongyang's nuclear program through diplomatic negotiations alone are not just formidable, they are overwhelming.

Stanley Kurtz agrees with Eberstadt and offers up possibilities I fully agree with.

What are those options? We can try to pressure the Chinese to force regime change, but the Chinese will not act unless they are convinced that America will otherwise go to war with North Korea. We can interdict North Korean shipping and trade in hopes of reducing their exports of nuclear materials. But enough is bound to get through to eventually lead to a nuclear blast in some American city. And the interdiction itself, if it is reasonably effective, may lead to war. Finally, we can go to war with North Korea. I have said for some time, and still believe, that war is the likely outcome. The administration will negotiate, but the negotiations will break down when it becomes clear, as it inevitably will, that the North will not allow effective verification. Meanwhile, during the drawn out negotiations, the North Koreans will continue to develop their nuclear weapons. Once the failure of the negotiations has become obvious, we will be on a path to war, either in the short or medium term. We will intensify interdiction, pressure the Chinese to force regime change, and hope that a bomb doesn’t get through. But at some point, if China doesn’t act, and the extent of North Korea’s nuclear development becomes obvious, we will be pushed into war. The best hope to avoid war is a credible enough threat of it that China finally acts. But the odds still favor war.

The most likely outcome continues to be that we first lose an American city to a terrorist nuke attack and only then attack North Korea for having helped proliferate nukes to the point where some ended up in terrorist hands.

Also see the Marmot and Kevin at IA on Eberstadt's article.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 27 09:32 AM  Korea
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Muslim Hijab Worn To Protect Females As Property

Razib of the Gene Expression blog has written an important article that examines the real reason why Muslim women wear the hijab and the buka to veil themselves.

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, or their brothers' sons or their sisters' sons….” (Quran 24:31).”

This is closer to the spirit of how wearing hijab has been justified by Muslims in my experience. Raised within the Islamic community, I have been privy to many opinions and statements not manufactured for mainstream consumption, and American Muslims do not generally express views informed by the rights of women. Rather, rationalizations of their customs are rooted in non-Western premises. American Muslim women may assert in public that the hijab liberates them, but the practice comes from societies where women are viewed as property by male relatives.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 27 09:09 AM  Religion Secular Ideologies
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2003 August 24 Sunday
Henry Sokolski: Iran Watching Bush Handling Of North Korea

Henry Sokolski, the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, says the Iranian leaders are watching very closely how the Bush Administration handles North Korea.

Earlier this summer, I attended a meeting in Geneva that included Tehran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and several members of Iran's Expediency Council. After the formal session, they pulled me aside. The one question -- the only question -- they pressed me about was what Washington planned to do about North Korea.

The Iranians want to know whether the US is going to let the North Korean regime become a nuclear power and nuclear proliferator. If the answer is yes then that is going to be a big green light for the Iranians to do the same.

As Sokolski makes clear, if North Korea and Iran go nuclear there are other potential nuclear powers waiting in the wings.

Saudi Arabia, who helped bankroll Pakistan's bomb project and has medium-range rockets of its own, has already had officials visit Islamabad's bomb factory in Kahuta. There's even been talk about Pakistan loaning some of its nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia, keeping them under Pakistani control (like the U.S. does with its weapons in Germany). Egypt and Syria, meanwhile, are planning nuclear desalinization plants (i.e., big reactors producing material which could be used for nuclear weapons).

Algeria, which was caught in 1991 covertly developing a reactor that might make bombs, now has it on line. Finally, Turkey, a close friend to Israel, has made it clear that Iran going nuclear would force Ankara to secure new "security assurances."

Sokolski thinks the United States is still sending mixed signals to North Korea in terms of just how serious the US is about stopping North Korea's nuclear weapons program. I have to agree with that assessment. The Bush Administration has not clearly indicated just how far it is willing to go to stop North Korea's nuclear program. The Bush Administration has not only been insufficiently clear with North Korea but with North Korea's number 1 and number 2 enablers South Korea and China as well. What price do the Chinese and South Koreans have to pay, if any, for continuing to supply and to conduct trade with North Korea? Nothing so far and there are no indications that the Bush Administration is going to make them pay a real price for their enabling roles.

Until the Bush Administration changes course we are going to continue to approach the point where there will be a total breakdown of efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 24 07:56 PM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control
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Iran And North Korea Seen As Negotiating Closer Nuclear Cooperation

China eLobby draws attention to a recent report that the North Korean and Iranian regimes are negotiating a deal for more extensive cooperation on nuclear weapons development.

So many North Koreans are presently in Iran working on nuclear and ballistic missile projects, the story said, that a Caspian Sea resort has been furnished for their use.

Then, just two days ago, a story in the Japanese newspaper Sankei reported that the two countries would likely reach an agreement in mid-October to jointly develop nuclear warheads. Also, under the agreement, North Korea will export Taepodong missile components for assembly in Iran.

It isn't called Axis Of Evil for nothing.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 24 12:38 AM  Axis Of Evil
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2003 August 23 Saturday
Why The Israeli Palestinian Conflict Keeps Going And Going

Writing for Jewsweek Micha Ghertner reports on a new research paper by economist Tyler Cowen on economic theory applied to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

First, the Israelis and the Palestinians may both be engaged in a game of chicken, vying to strengthen their reputations in order to gain more power and eventually, a larger share of the pot. Whichever side backs down first will reveal a weakness and lack of commitment, thereby strengthening the resolve of the other party. The important point to note here is that each minor conflict (i.e. each intifada, each incursion, etc.) is simply a reputation builder for the overall conflict, and the final reputations of each party will determine which side has more bargaining power when an eventual deal is reached.


Both the Israelis and the Palestinians may worry that weak reputations will leave them open to future bullying from some of the surrounding Arab nations, thereby increasing the likelihood of even more conflict.


Another possible explanation, which Cowen takes from the burgeoning field of "behavioral economics," may be that both parties are unwilling to accept a compromise below what they had previously expected and below what they feel they deserve.


Finally, Cowen suggests that perhaps neither party is "meta-rational." By this he means that people tend to favor their own view of the world and have a very difficult time placing their own views in a larger context with the views of others. For example, most people believe that they are smarter, better looking, or more moral than the average person, yet this can only be true for half of us.

Here are some excerpts from Tyler Cowen's original paper published in Public Choice which is available for download: "A Road Map to Middle Eastern Peace? -- A Public Choice Perspective" (PDF format) (my bold emphasis added below)

Married parties bicker, in part, because they are concerned with their future share of the cooperative pie. For instance, assume that a husband and wife consider an agreement on some matter of dispute, but the husband would receive only an epsilon of the resulting cooperative surplus. The husband might prefer to hold out and stop the agreement, even if he otherwise gets nothing at all. If the husband agrees to only an epsilon of surplus today, he is weakening his bargaining power for the future. Why not turn down today's epsilon for some chance of a greater share in the future? The wife of course may feel the same way. Even a fifty-fifty deal may meet with resistance. After all, why take fifty percent today, when you have some chance of getting ninety-nine percent tomorrow? So the two will bicker rather than settling all of their disagreements. Here the difficulty arises precisely because there will be future transactions, and not because transactions costs are too high (in fact we might get a better outcome if trading costs eliminated the possibility of future transactions). Similarly we get a bad outcome precisely because future gains from trade are high.8


The literature on behavioral and experimental economics tries to isolate exactly which sorts of adverse changes set off destructive reactions. Workers, for instance, seem to mind small nominal pay cuts more than they mind small real wage cuts. Or a nominal wage cut offends less if it can be described as "fair," or if it is seen as part of an overall process affecting everyone's compensation. Many of these results are context-dependent rather than general, nonetheless they suggest that the degree of resistance will depend on packaging and symbolic values. It also suggests that experimental and labor market research may teach us something about the causes of war.

Note that terrorism interacts with behavioral factors. Imagine the Israelis and Palestinians moving toward some kind of peace agreement, whereby each side offers some painful concessions to the other. Just as each side is trying to accept what it must give up, some form of terrorism strikes. A Palestinian, for instance, might blow up a bus in Jerusalem. This kind of behavior makes it harder for the Israelis to accept their "wage cut" as they will feel more aggrieved than before. Terrorists, knowing this, may choose to strike at precisely at these times and aim to reopen the appropriate wounds, all to prevent peace.13


Parties to war and conflict are unlikely to be meta-rational.16 We do not know why, but non-meta-rational behavior tends to be especially prominent in certain areas. For instance, people tend to have especially stubborn and irrational opinions in the areas of religion and politics. Large numbers of people think they are the world's best judges of truth in this area, but few people have comparable opinions about their relative expertise in building bridges, or in thermodynamics.

Given this tendency, peace negotiators may expect the other party to defer to their positive view of the world. The Israelis will overrate their ability to judge what will work, and the Palestinians will do the same. The general tendency is to think that what benefits one's own interest also benefits the world at large (Klein 1994, Cowen forthcoming). The two parties will then find it hard to agree, since they do not share the same positive vision of how the world works. Note that only one party need lack metarationality for an agreement to be hard to strike.

A lot of the factors that Cowen brings up seem like plausible contributors to the continuation of the conflict. Because of the differences in perceptions over what is fair and why things are as they are it seems unlikely that the conflict can be solved as long as those differences in thinking exist. Therefore it seems reasonable to at least try to minimize the body count as the conflict continues. The barrier being constructed to separate the West Bank from Israel seems like the only prospect for reducing the body count.

As for whether there is something that could be done to cause a change in the thinking of people on one or both sides: if the past is any indication it seems unlikely. As long as there is not an all-out war in which one side is made to lose in a devastating fashion enough members on each side are going to hang onto conflicting goals that there will be no resolution.

As outsiders it is important to appreciate just how unfair humanity is. People really do tend to see things from the perspective of their own interests and do not do a very effective job of recognizing the ways they are unfair to others.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 23 11:03 PM  MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis
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Richard Epstein On Legal Actions Against Third Parties And Drug Reimportation

Responding to an earlier critique of his argument against drug reimportation by Cato President Edward H. Crane and VP for legal affairs Roger Pilon legal thinker Richard Epstein defends the legal basis for preventing reimportation by illustrating a basic technique used to get legal remedies.

Last step. Why is it so strange to see the United States getting involved? Here the law is filled with all sorts of cases where actions are allowed against third parties because the direct remedy is blocked for some reason. Here is one case: A induces B to break his contract with C. No question that C has an action against B, but there is also no question that C has an action against the inducer, A, as well, for the loss of the arrangement. And why is that so valuable? Well, B may be insolvent, or outside the jurisdiction. Or there may be many Bs who are too numerous to sue, but only one A who has orchestrated the breach, and so on. It is for this reason that we allow owners to sue not only thieves but also the people to whom these goods are sold in some secondary market. If it is possible to kill off the resales, then the original theft or violation of trust is that much less likely to occur.

Ideally, we would like to see the local governments enforce or respect their obligations, but if they choose to violate their contracts with their own sellers, then the sellers could sue the third parties to stop the resale, which is all that happens when the sales back home are enjoined. There is nothing odd about saying that third parties, Americans all, cannot receive goods that they obtain in violation of a prior contract. It happens all the time.

This seems like a pretty good rebutting of Crane and Pilon's argument.

James Pinkerton also weighs in and points out that when government regulations discourage some form of investment the loss usually goes unnoticed by most people.

But now comes the crunch -- and it's biting down, even now, on potential treatments and cures. Advocates of an NHS for America are scarce, but advocates of expanding the government's role in health care are abundant. For a long time now, both federal and state governments have been muscling down drug prices. The argument is always the same: drugs cost too much, so make them cheaper. There's no way to know how much past government action has served to restrain drug R&D; that's one of the problems of government regulation. What's never seen is what never was created.

This is an important point with regard to drug prices and drug development. If the US lets in price-controlled drug imports and the pharmaceutical industry responds by reducing spending on new drug development it is not likely that either the American or European publics will be sufficiently upset by the reduction in new drug development spending to demand that the causes be fixed.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 23 09:45 PM  Socialism, Capitalism
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Paul Cella On Chesterton, Belloc, And Islam As Dangerous Heresy

Paul J. Cella of Cella's Review has an excellent article on Tech Central Station quoting Catholic thinkers Hilaire Belloc (lived 1870-1953) and G.K. Chesterton (lived 1874-1936) on the nature of Islam. Cellas first quotes Chesterton on Islam:

A void is made in the heart of Islam which has to be filled up again and again by a mere repetition of the revolution that founded it. There are no sacraments; the only thing that can happen is a sort of apocalypse, as unique as the end of the world; so the apocalypse can only be repeated and the world end again and again. There are no priests; and this equality can only breed a multitude of lawless prophets almost as numerous as priests. The very dogma that there is only one Mohamet produces an endless procession of Mohamets.

Cella also quotes an excerpt from Belloc. After some Google digging I was able to find the full text of the chapter of a Belloc book from which Cella excerpted. Belloc's book The Great Heresies is available online. See chapter 4 The Great and Enduring Heresy of Mohammed for Belloc's view of Islam as a simplifying Catholic heresy.

Mohammedanism was a heresy: that is the essential point to grasp before going any further. It began as a heresy, not as a new religion. It was not a pagan contrast with the Church; it was not an alien enemy. It was a perversion of Christian doctrine. It vitality and endurance soon gave it the appearance of a new religion, but those who were contemporary with its rise saw it for what it was_not a denial, but an adaptation and a misuse, of the Christian thing. It differed from most (not from all) heresies in this, that it did not arise within the bounds of the Christian Church. The chief heresiarch, Mohammed himself, was not, like most heresiarchs, a man of Catholic birth and doctrine to begin with. He sprang from pagans. But that which he taught was in the main Catholic doctrine, oversimplified. It was the great Catholic world_on the frontiers of which he lived, whose influence was all around him and whose territories he had known by travel_which inspired his convictions. He came of, and mixed with, the degraded idolaters of the Arabian wilderness, the conquest of which had never seemed worth the Romans' while.

He took over very few of those old pagan ideas which might have been native to him from his descent. On the contrary, he preached and insisted upon a whole group of ideas which were peculiar to the Catholic Church and distinguished it from the paganism which it had conquered in the Greek and Roman civilization. Thus the very foundation of his teaching was that prime Catholic doctrine, the unity and omnipotence of God. The attributes of God he also took over in the main from Catholic doctrine: the personal nature, the all-goodness, the timelessness, the providence of God, His creative power as the origin of all things, and His sustenance of all things by His power alone. The world of good spirits and angels and of evil spirits in rebellion against God was a part of the teaching, with a chief evil spirit, such as Christendom had recognized. Mohammed preached with insistence that prime Catholic doctrine, on the human side_the immortality of the soul and its responsibility for actions in this life, coupled with the consequent doctrine of punishment and reward after death.

If anyone sets down those points that orthodox Catholicism has in common with Mohammedanism, and those points only, one might imagine if one went no further that there should have been no cause of quarrel. Mohammed would almost seem in this aspect to be a sort of missionary, preaching and spreading by the energy of his character the chief and fundamental doctrines of the Catholic Church among those who had hitherto been degraded pagans of the Desert. He gave to Our Lord the highest reverence, and to Our Lady also, for that matter. On the day of judgment (another Catholic idea which he taught) it was Our Lord, according to Mohammed, who would be the judge of mankind, not he, Mohammed. The Mother of Christ, Our Lady, "the Lady Miriam" was ever for him the first of womankind. His followers even got from the early fathers some vague hint of her Immaculate Conception.[1]

Here is a larger excerpt the portion of Belloc's The Great Heresies that Cella excerpted (my bold emphases added):

But can we be certain it is so decided? I doubt it very much. It has always seemed to me possible, and even probable, that there would be a resurrection of Islam and that our sons or our grandsons would see the renewal of that tremendous struggle between the Christian culture and what has been for more than a thousand years its greatest opponent.

Why this conviction should have arisen in the minds of certain observers and travellers, such as myself, I will now consider. It is indeed a vital question, "May not Islam arise again?"

In a sense the question is already answered because Islam has never departed. It still commands the fixed loyalty and unquestioning adhesion of all the millions between the Atlantic and the Indus and further afield throughout scattered communities of further Asia. But I ask the question in the sense "Will not perhaps the temporal power of Islam return and with it the menace of an armed Mohammedan world which will shake off the domination of Europeans_still nominally Christian_and reappear again as the prime enemy of our civilization?" The future always comes as a surprise but political wisdom consists in attempting at least some partial judgment of what that surprise may be. And for my part I cannot but believe that a main unexpected thing of the future is the return of Islam. Since religion is at the root of all political movements and changes and since we have here a very great religion physically paralysed but morally intensely alive, we are in the presence of an unstable equilibrium which cannot remain permanently unstable. Let us then examine the position.

I have said throughout these pages that the particular quality of Mohammedanism, regarded as a heresy, was its vitality. Alone of all the great heresies Mohammedanism struck permanent roots, developing a life of its own, and became at last something like a new religion. So true is this that today very few men, even among those who are highly instructed in history, recall the truth that Mohammedanism was essentially in its origins not a new religion, but a heresy.

Like all heresies, Mohammedanism lived by the Catholic truths which it had retained. Its insistence on personal immortality, on the Unity and Infinite Majesty of God, on His Justice and Mercy, its insistence on the equality of human souls in the sight of their Creator_these are its strength.

Cella concludes about Chesterton, Belloc and Islam:

It is foolish to overlook them, as it was foolish to overlook it. They provide a window into a mind that still grasped what it means to men to be alive to a religious orthodoxy, to a tradition of moral obedience and ritual. This liveliness of faith is obscured from our view in large part because of the modern rejection of its power. It is obscured by a deliberate narrowing of the intellect. And it is precisely that huge and terrible portion of the intellect which we need most to heed right now, for it is that, in other men, which threatens us.

He's saying it takes men who believe in one faith to appreciate the intensely powerful effects that belief in another faith has on a different group of people. He's arguing that secular people lack the understanding and experience needed to appreciate the danger that Islam poses. This may well be the case. However, it is worth noting that not a few rather foolish religious Catholics and other Christians are willing to play the roles of apologists to Islam in order to defend faith in general and their own faith in particular.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 23 06:17 PM  Religion Secular Ideologies
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Charles Murray On Europe's Run As Dominant Culture

Charles Murray argues that, contrary to all claims by postmodern scholars that other parts of the world have made as many contributions to science, art, and literature, Europe was overwhelmingly the biggest source of intellectual accomplishment from the end of the Middle Ages thru 1950.

The third caution is to remember that many civilizations arose independently of Europe, and rose to similar technological levels-developing tools and techniques that enabled them to build large structures and road networks, develop complex agricultural practices and distribution mechanisms, conduct commerce, and build thriving cities. Evidence scattered from Angkor Wat to Machu Picchu attests to the ability of human beings throughout the world to achieve amazing technological feats.

And yet the underlying reality is that Europe since 1400 has overwhelmingly dominated accomplishment in both the arts and sciences. The estimates of the European contribution are robust. I write at a time when Europe's run appears to be over. Bleaker yet, there is reason to wonder whether European culture as we have known it will even exist by the end of this century. Perhaps this is an especially appropriate time to stand back in admiration. What the human species can claim to its credit in the arts and sciences is owed in astonishing degree to what was accomplished in just a half-dozen centuries by the peoples of one small portion of the northwestern Eurasian land mass.

Murray explains why he came to those conclusions in the text of the article.

The article is an overview of the topics covered by his new book Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 23 01:43 PM  Cultural Wars Western
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Al-Muhajiroun Celebrate "Magnificent 19" For 9/11 Attack

Godless Capitalist draws attention to this web page by the Al-Muhajiroun Muslim organization celebrating the September 11, 2001 attack.

Two years on then, it seems that during their customary 1 minutes silence in NewYork and elsewhere on September the 11th 2003, Muslims worldwide will again be watching replays of the collapse of the Twin Towers, praying to Allah (SWT) to grant those magnificent 19, Paradise. They will also be praying for the reverberations to continue until the eradication of all man-made law and the implementation of divine law in the form of the Khilafah - carrying the message of Islam to the world and striving for Izhar ud-Deen i.e. the total domination of the world by Islam.

Al-Muhajiroun advocates that Muslims in the West should be a fifth column fighting for the overthrow and subjugation of non-Muslims by Muslims.

4. The preparation of themselves to be the front line of the coming Khilafah i.e. to become strong and united in order to become the fifth column which is able to put pressure on the enemies of Islam and to be able to support the Muslim Ummah world-wide.

Godless calls for the British to deport the Al-Muhajiroun members living in Britain. Given that the leader of Al-Muhajiroun clearly rejects the legitimacy ofsecular legal authority it is clear that this is an organization that rejects the legitimacy of any state that is not a Muslim state.

As I've stated previously, as long as Westerners refuse to examine religious ideologies as critically as they look at secular ideologies the West is going to fail to adequately defend itself. Contrary to the claims of Islam's Western apologists belief systems that claim supernatural origins are not automatically, because of their claims of supernatural origins, benign and beneficial for the maintenance of a free society.

For more on the dangers of secular and religious ideologies see the Religious and Secular Ideologies archive.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 23 11:56 AM  Civilizations Clash Of
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Irving Kristol Is An Ideologue

Irving Kristol has written an essay recently that has attracted a fair amount of attention entitled The Neoconservative Persuasion (or see here) (my bold emphasis added below)

Finally, for a great power, the "national interest" is not a geographical term, except for fairly prosaic matters like trade and environmental regulation. A smaller nation might appropriately feel that its national interest begins and ends at its borders, so that its foreign policy is almost always in a defensive mode. A larger nation has more extensive interests. And large nations, whose identity is ideological, like the Soviet Union of yesteryear and the United States of today, inevitably have ideological interests in addition to more material concerns. Barring extraordinary events, the United States will always feel obliged to defend, if possible, a democratic nation under attack from nondemocratic forces, external or internal. That is why it was in our national interest to come to the defense of France and Britain in World War II. That is why we feel it necessary to defend Israel today, when its survival is threatened. No complicated geopolitical calculations of national interest are necessary.

Note his defense of the ideological. Kristol doesn't oppose communism because it is an ideology. He opposes it because he thinks it is the wrong ideology. While he travelled from the Left to the Right and rejected communism his continued love of abstract systems of political belief causes him to miss an incredibly important point: all ideologies are wrong. Ideologies can be thought of as abstract philosophies translated into systems of political mythology to provide guidance for political decision making. An ideology is constructed from a set of simplifying assumptions about humans as political, social, and economic actors. Simplifying assumptions are frequently necessary to make because we can't know enough to model the world in our minds as it really is. But we must constantly remind ourselves that simplifying assumptions are not Truths. We have to be alert to situations where our simplifying assumptions just will not work and we shouldn't try to hang on them in the face of empirical evidence that contradicts them.

The problem with ideologies is that no ideological system of belief even begins to approach the complexity needed to provide correct answers for all political decision making. For the same reason that central planning is impossible (the models can never be complex enough or have enough of the relevant information to be sufficiently predictive) any ideology is going to be wrong too much of the time and should not be followed dogmatically.

People who embrace neoconservatism or libertarianism or liberalism as an ideology are all making the same kind of mental mistake as communists make but they are doing it with a different set of wrong simplifying assumptions. Each ideological belief system, built from its own unique set of simplifying assumptions, will lead to wrong decisions under a variety of circumstances.

How often or how badly any given ideological system will fail and lead to wrong political choices depends on how often reality deviates from its assumptions. An analogy can be seen in clasical mechanics vs relativistic mechanics in physics. If one travels at very high speeds the simplifying assumptions underlying classical mechanics will cause greater problems than if one travels at much slower speeds. The same sort of thing happens with humans. The sorts of political decisions that work in a homogeneous society can start failing to work if a society becomes racially or culturally or in some other way more varied. Or a given set of decisions about law and order flowing from some assumptions about how the level of natural propensity to be law-abiding can work in a society which has strong marriages and other institutions but those same prescriptions can become inadequate or even counterproductive when those institutions deteriorate.

Because the world is so complex we must allow ourselves to constantly be guided by empirical results. As Steve Sailer pointed out in his essay "The Unexpected Uselessness of Philosophy" it was the anti-abstract British tradition that produced the incredibly valuable empirical political philosophers of the Scottish and English Enlightenment period.

Fortunately, one school of philosophy has actually taught us some valuable lessons over the centuries: the anti-abstract British tradition of Roger Bacon, Francis Bacon and David Hume, with its emphasis on realism, common sense and the scientific method.

When Thomas Jefferson was sending books back from Paris to James Madison about the great republics in history to help Madison formulate ideas on how to construct a republic in the American colonies Jefferson and Madison were largely motivated by this belief that political ideas must be founded on empirical experience and that one's political beliefs must be open to correction by empirical results. This willingness to embrace empirical results led to some great decisions on the part of Jefferson and Madison. But since they had empirical minds so mindful of local conditions (e.g. Jefferson thought democracy could work much better in an agricultural society of landowners) they likely wouldn't view those decisions as universally workable in as many societies and cultures as many of their modern neoconservative fans hold them to be.

Many neocons hold a triumphalist belief in the inevitable spread of freedom, democracies, and free markets. By contrast, a rather more empircally minded Arnold Kling, in his own response to Kristol's essay, warns that events could develop in ways that cause a blacklash against freedom and markets.

The assumption that people will appreciate the benefits of economic growth is a risky one to make. Economic growth requires change. Old jobs must be destroyed in order for new ones to be created. Incumbents will be threatened. And, as Ronald Bailey points out, "opponents of technological progress often want decisions about new technologies to be made in political arenas. Opponents of a given new technology believe that they will have more luck by lobbying their local congressperson or member of parliament to vote to prohibit its development."

One can argue that the disruption unleashed by rapid economic growth helped produce fascism and Communism. Brink Lindsey argues persuasively that the dead hand of collectivist ideology still influences policy in our country today. The political appeal of denunciations of outsourcing indicates that the support for free markets is fragile and tenuous.

Kling cites the example of many European countries where the welfare state has gotten too large and yet it is not politically possible to roll it back. In my view mass immigration (which many ideological libertarians support uncritically) may lead to that same outcome in the United States as a growing number of poor immigrants demand ever more government help. Humans compare themselves to those around them and feel it is unfair if they do not do as well. Poor immigrants and their advocates provide powerful support for the extension of the welfare state.

Rather than simply arguing for less goverment or more freedom a more nuanced and empirical view asks whether there are policies that nomimally seem to increase freedom but may lead to more state involvement in private lives and less freedom. In Kling's article he brings up the possibility that foreign involvements may cause Americans to become so weary of the world that more of them will support world government. In Kling's blog post others in the comments section discuss whether recreational drug legalizaton will create support for a larger welfare state to take care of drug addicts. These kinds of questions are motivated by a non-ideological and empirical attitude toward governance.

Update: While I can't agree with Lawrence Auster's conclusion about the exact goals of the neocons Auster's analysis also recognizes the importance of Kristol's embrace of ideology.

Notice once again the dichotomy Kristol has set up: either a country is ideological (i.e. believing in world-wide democracy), which is good, or else it is small-minded and parochial, which is bad. It’s as though our only choices were either the neocons’ global democratic empire or some angry, self-absorbed, little America, with no other alternatives in between. Thus Kristol suggests that only an ideological country would come to the aid of other, mortally threatened countries, because the only basis for friendship between nations is ideological similarity, not cultural or civilizational or religious similarity or simply cooperation against a common enemy.

Paul Cella also likes Michael Tennant's critique of Kristol. But I found Auster's analysis to hit closer to the core of the underlying flaw in neoconservative thinking.

Update II: Josh Cherniss provides yet another analysis of Kristol's essay and of neoconservatism as a whole.

Ok, now first of all, note the comparison -- nay, the analogy, even the equivalence -- between the USSR and the US. And this from a critic of Cold War moral equivalence! This sort of talk tends to confirm the critical suspicion that many neo-cons are as ideological as their former Soviet antagonists. Of course, their ideology is much better -- I think only a loon of the Chomskyian persuasion would deny it (and I won't bother to engage with such a view at present). But even if they're essentially right in the values that their ideology embraces -- I think we can for the moment take it for granted that liberal democracy is a good thing -- there's something worrying about their willingness to define the US and US foreign policy in such ideological terms, without also addressing the limits and dangers of ideological thinking. As Benjamin Constant said, more or less, it isn't that the hand bearing the sword is evil, it's that some swords are too heavy for the human hand: while foreign policy should be informed by morality, too ardent a commitment to the furtherance of an ideological mission or blueprint is blinding, and leads to abuses of power and disastrous over-stepping. And an abundance of power brings with a responsibility to be self-restrained -- a responsibility many neo-cons seem to under-appreciate.

The problem is that those who really are convinced by their ideology have the kind of certainty that characterises some forms of religious faith. However, while Christianity counsels its believers to have humility this sort of counsel is typically absent from the belief structures that make up most secular ideologies.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 23 01:28 AM  Religion Secular Ideologies
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Popular Reaction Leads To Reversal On Border Patrol Orders

Border Patrol agents can once again arrest illegals who are not near the border.

An order by the chief Border Patrol agent in San Diego for his agents not to arrest illegal immigrants on city streets or question them except along the border has been overturned by Robert C. Bonner, commissioner of the new Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.

This order comes down thru the chain of command of the new Department of Homeland Security.

To the extent that Chief Veal interpreted the previous INS policy to preclude Border Patrol from apprehending any place other than at the border itself or at checkpoints, that's incorrect and I've rescinded it," Bonner said. "The policy of the Border Patrol is not set by Chief Veal or any other sector chief. It's set on a national basis."

The original memo was fairly restrictive on what Border Patrol agents could do.

Veal's memo said agents cannot arrest or questioning suspects in cities, workplaces, residential areas or even while traveling between assignments.

Border Patrol Agent Joe Dassaro, president of Local 1613 of the National Border Patrol Council, says popular anger was key in getting the policy changed.

Dassaro credited pressure both from his union and angry residents, as well as media exposure, for getting the directive killed.

"The average citizen out there is outraged by this policy," he said.

The policy amounted to a de facto amnesty for illegal immigrants, he said.

De facto amnesty is exactly what the Bush Administration is pushing for.

This change in policy happened within a couple of weeks after the original decision to restrict the Border Patrol agents. Apparently, if enough Americans get angry they still have enough pull with their own government to get their government to put their demands ahead of the demands of the Mexican government.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 23 12:18 AM  Immigration Law Enforcement
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2003 August 22 Friday
Robert Baer On Iraq Bombings And Lebanon Parallel

Robert Baer, author of Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude and See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, examines the parallels between early 1980s Lebanon and Iraq today.

So why was the U.N. headquarters hit rather than an American target? After all, the group behind the U.N. bombing could have easily run the same truck into an American patrol, killing dozens of soldiers. Again, I go back to Lebanon, 1983. The objective of the terrorists then was to create a sense of complete hopelessness in Washington. The terrorists wanted to show the Americans that no amount of military might, money or international assistance would help -- that U.S. deaths would be in vain and that the only logical response was to pull out.

If the people behind the U.N. bombing are the same ones who are responsible for last week's sabotage of Baghdad's water main and the oil pipeline to Turkey, this may very well be their plan. By attacking the U.N. and other indirect targets, they are probably attempting to drive away any potential international investment. They want the Bush administration to feel isolated. As for the common Iraqi who has been taking the brunt of their campaign, the terrorists believe it is worth it. They think in the long term.

Baer believes things are going to get worse in Iraq. He also believes that with so much at stake the US can not afford to pull out.

A greater amount of American resolve aside, there other important differences between Lebanon of 1983 and Iraq in 2003. One of the most important differences is the sheer size of the American involvement. The US Marine presence in Beirut was literally more than two orders of magnitude smaller and Lebanon was a place the US could afford to let remain in chaos (it is worth recalling that Lebanon was in chaos before the US showed up). With a far larger number of personnel to devote to the task, and with access to all parts of the country, and with basic sovereign ruling authority over Iraq the US is in a much stronger position in Iraq to collect the intelligence and gradually Iraq does not have to be as totally lawless as Lebanon was. The US can - if it devotes enough resources to the task - greatly reduce the level of lawlessness in Baghdad and the Sunni areas.

Another important difference is that at the highest level Lebanon was split in more ways than Iraq is split today. Lebanon had significant Shia, Sunni, Christian, Palestinian, and other factions. While Iraq has tribal divisions it has only 3 major top level groupings and two of those (Kurds and Shias) make up about 80% of the population, have little anomisity toward each other (anyone know to the contrary?), and both view the Sunnis as their former oppressors. This creates much more favorable conditions for US attempts to form alliances and a governing consensus.

Still, if US military and civilian intelligence workers in Iraq can not penetrate the organization or organizations carrying out the bombing attacks and the oil pipeline attacks the situation in Iraq could deteriorate. The pipeline attacks are especially important because a successful restoration of Iraqi oil production could provide financing to greatly accelerate the more general rebuilding of Iraq and provide funds that could be spent in a variety of ways to improve security.

Therefore, my conclusion about Iraq is that the US needs to do two main things really well:

  • Very quickly get the oil pumping and flowing in large quantities reliably. Protect the oil. Make sure it can get to market. The resulting revenues are essential because they can be used to extend security and improve conditions throughout the rest of Iraq.
  • Train large numbers of high quality intelligence officers in Arabic and ship them to Iraq to track down and take apart the groups that are conducting the bombings and ambushes.

Update: The top US Army general overseeing the Iraq occupation rule says Iraq is a magnet for terrorists.

The remarks by Army Gen. John Abizaid, the head of the Central Command, added to a growing chorus by senior Bush administration officials who have begun to depict postwar Iraq as a magnet for terrorists bent on attacking the United States. "I think Iraq is at the center of the global war on terrorism," Abizaid said at a Pentagon news conference.

However, keep in mind that much of the Shia area in Southern Iraq is still very peaceful.

I know because I'm one of those Marines. My reserve unit was activated before the war, and in April my team arrived in this small city roughly 60 miles south of Baghdad. The negative media portrait of the situation in Iraq doesn't correspond with what I've seen. Indeed, we were treated as liberating heroes when we arrived four months ago, and we continue to enjoy amicable relations with the local populace.

Will terrorists attackers find a way to build bases of operations in southern Iraq? That's something to watch for.

Update: Wretchard of the Belmont Club has a few posts on the bombing of the UN building in Baghdad and on the movement of Islamists into Iraq to attack American forces that make for good additional reading. See here and here and here. As for whether the choice of the UN facility as a softer target for a terrorist attack indicates we are winning: the question that needs to be asked is whether the terrorist attacks can achieve their objectives if only softer targets are attacked. Well, what sort of place will Baghdad be like if there is a constant stream of attacks killing dozens or hundreds of people each time? What effect will that have on investment and on the willingness of Iraqis to work for the American occupation forces? Seems the effects will be pretty bad.

Also, another important indicator is whether terrorists can prevent a substantial production and export of oil from Iraqi fields. If they can wage a successful campaign of sabotage to the oil industry then they could put a big crimp in reconstruction efforts.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 22 02:54 PM  Mideast Iraq
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2003 August 21 Thursday
Ballot Candidate Name Order Influences Voter Choices

Not exactly a confidence-inspiring revelation about the electorate.

In the 2000 presidential race, George W. Bush received 9 percent more votes among Californians when he was listed first on the ballot than when he was listed later, a new study found.

“Even in high profile elections such as the presidential race and upcoming recall contest, name order on the ballot can make a big difference,” said Jon Krosnick, co-author of the study and professor of psychology and political science at Ohio State.


In this new study, Krosnick and two colleagues examined how ballot position affected votes cast for the presidential candidates in three states: California, North Dakota and Ohio. All three states rotate candidate names on ballots within the state. And in all three states, Bush received more votes when he was listed first on the ballots. Other presidential candidates also tended to do better when listed first, but the results were not statistically significant, Krosnick said.

One advantage that Arnold Schwarzenegger has in running for Governor of California is that people actually know who he is. Plus, his name is longer and so it sticks out in a list of names. A person scanning down the list is more likely to notice it.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 21 02:41 PM  Human Nature
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Assorted Naval Exercises, WMD Proliferation, And North Korea

The New York Times reports that as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative (see here and here for background on the Proliferation Security Initiative) US, Australian, and other allied navies will be carrying out interdiction exercises in the Coral Sea near Australia to train for intercepting North Korean shipping. (or see here)

Administration officials and Asian diplomats said that the exercise would be carried out in the Coral Sea off northeastern Australia in September and that it was officially described as directed at no one country. A principal intention, however, was to send a sharp signal to North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, they said.

There is still no diplomatic agreement on the conditions under which it will be acceptable to intercept North Korean shipping. But the Times gives the impression that diplomatic efforts are under way to come up with an agreement between a number of countries on rules for doing so.

The Times also reports on the DPRK Illicit Activities Initiative:

Under a separate program, known as the D.P.R.K. Illicit Activities Initiative, referring to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name, there has been a quiet crackdown by many nations against the North's narcotics trade, counterfeiting, money laundering and other efforts to earn hard currency.

It would be very interesting to know just how successful this crackdown has been.

In spite of the supposed split between the United States and Europe note that aside from the US, Japan, and Australia, all the rest of the Proliferation Security Initiative nations are European.

Air and ground interdiction exercises are planned as well, involving the 11 countries that have signed on to the plan, called the Proliferation Security Initiative. They are Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United States.

China is sending mixed but slightly encouraging signals about how it will respond to the Proliferation Security Initiative.

China has given its first assurance it will not allow North Korea to evade any international sanctions on exports of weapons of mass destruction by using Chinese territory for transit.

But it also warned yesterday that a naval screen being assembled by Australia and 10 other nations against such exports could have consequences for regional stability and interfere with ongoing diplomatic efforts.

The US Navy is also planning a submarine hunting exercise off the coast of Japan.

The Navy plans to begin testing a new method for hunting hostile submarines this fall off the coast of Japan, and the test will include looking for the real thing: diesel-electric North Korean and Chinese subs prowling in the Sea of Japan.

The US Navy will be testing the Littoral Airborne Sensor Hyperspectral (LASH) system for identifying underwater objects by small changes in color visible from the surface during the day.

A third naval exercise which has already started involves ships of Russia, Japan and South Korea in exercises near North Korea.

Russia, traditionally an ally of North Korea, embarked Monday on a 10-day maritime exercise, partly in waters near North Korea, that will involve two traditional enemies of the North, Japan and South Korea. The exercise is the first time that warships from those three countries have conducted joint maneuvers.

That is an interesting grouping. The presence of South Korea in the group is especially interesting. Why are the South Koreans doing this? To engage in security exercises separate from the United States? To send North Korea a message to back down?

The most curious and telling move by the Russians, though, is a land exercise near the North Korean border to train for handling a large refugee influx should the North Korean regime begin to teeter on the brink of collapse.

...border troops and civil defense officials are to conduct drills based on the premise that huge North Korean refugee flows could start as a result of a new war on the Korean peninsula or by the collapse of the government of Kim Jong Il.

Are the Russians doing that to send a message to the North Koreans? Or are they doing it because they think there is a substantial chance that such preparations may be useful in the foreseeable future?

Russia is also engaging in naval exercises with the US.

Russia said its naval vessels would link up with U.S. coastal forces in exercises in the Bering Straits...

North Korea is of course denouncing these exercises.

Slate's Fred Kaplan, seemingly forever excited by signs of various imagined imminent breakthroughs in negotiations with North Korea, is excited about Russia seeming to turn its back on North Korea. I think the importance of Russia in all this is exaggerated. South Korea and China are the countries that are doing the most to provide the Pyongyang regime with economic aid, trade, and diplomatic support to protect it against the United States. The facts on the ground for North Korea can substantially change only if either South Korea or China reduce aid and trade with North Korea or if the US and its allies start running real naval operations (not just practice exercises) to intercept North Korean shipments.

Naval interdiction against North Korea could potentially be very important if (really big if) it actually is put into practice. Illustrating this, the Washington Post has an excellent article about how the 1999 discovery by customs agents in Kandla India of missile parts and production equipment in a North Korean ship headed most likely to Libya demonstrates the kind of weapons and weapons technology trade engaged in by North Korea.

When the ship's doors were finally reopened at gunpoint, the reason for the extreme secrecy became clear. Hidden inside wooden crates marked "water refinement equipment" was an assembly line for ballistic missiles: tips of nose cones, sheet metal for rocket frames, machine tools, guidance systems and, in smaller crates, ream upon ream of engineers' drawings labeled "Scud B" and "Scud C." The intended recipient of the cargo, according to U.S. intelligence officials, was Libya.

While the previous article provides an insight into North Korean weapons sales a second excellent Washington Post article outlines the many efforts that North Korea has been making to purchase and import components needed for nuclear weapons development.

On April 12, in a dramatic but little-noticed intervention, French and German authorities tracked the ship to the eastern Mediterranean and seized the pipes. German police arrested the owner of a small export company and uncovered a broader scheme to acquire as many as 2,000 such pipes. That much aluminum in North Korean hands, investigators concluded, could have yielded as many as 3,500 gas centrifuges for enriching uranium.

"The intentions were clearly nuclear," said a Western diplomat familiar with the investigation. "The result could have been several bombs' worth of weapons-grade uranium in a year."

As the second Washington Post article linked to above demonstrates, North Korea's ability to send diplomats to other countries and to trade with many countries provides it with opportunities to earn hard currency and to skirt around export restrictions to buy the equipment it needs for its nuclear weapons development program. If governments that currently allow North Korean visitors and that allow North Korean diplomatic missions and business fronts to operate on their territories were to restrict the number of North Koreans they allow on their soil that would reduce the effectiveness of North Korean smuggling operations. If countries were to break off diplomatic relations with North Korea that would even further reduce the regime's ability to acquire desired equipment. As it stands now the North Koreans have so many agents working abroad that it is just a matter of time before they succeed in acquiring anything that they attempt to purchase.

When commentators speak of increasing the pressure on North Korea one has to ask in each case what exactly that means. The North Korean leaders don't mind being pariahs. They don't mind having few friends. What matters to them is what they need, what they want, and what they can get away with. They may change their position if they sense that trends are moving in a direction not favorable to them. But unless trends are moving in a direction that threatens the survival of the regime or which will totally frustrate their ambitions they are not going to cave in and give up nuclear weapons development. So the various initiatives and exercises either on-going or planned only matter to the extent that they lead to events that substantially reduce the Pyongyang regime's ability to do things that it would otherwise be able to do.

The big problem that the United States continues to face in dealing with North Korea is that China and South Korea are still aid-and-trade partners for North Korea and there is still no official sanctions regime in place that would provide the US with the diplomatic legitimacy it needs to entirely stop North Korean trade by sea.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 21 01:19 AM  Korea
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2003 August 20 Wednesday
South Korea Still Busy Appeasing North Korea

Rallies against a vicious tyranny are a thing to apologize for in South Korea.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA--In a part of the world where diplomacy usually means never saying you're sorry, South Korea's president publicly apologized to North Korea on Tuesday for a rally at which anti-communists burned a North Korean flag and an effigy of leader Kim Jong Il.

The nationally televised statement by Roh Moo Hyun paved the way for North Korea to participate in the Universiade, an 11-day student athletic tournament taking place in the South Korean city of Taegu.

Protest organizer Seo Si Joo reasonably asks "Why should President Roh apologize for the democratic right of citizens to freely express their opinion?". Well, that's a really good question Seo Si Joo. It would be very interesting to hear how South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun answers that question. Signs on that score are not hopeful. President Roh Moo-hyun, leader of a fairly free and quite prosperous nation, apparently doesn't pine for the day when joyous crowds of North Koreans burn North Korean flags in celebration of the regime's overthrow.

"It is improper to burn North Korea's national flag and the portrait of leader Kim Jong-il. I feel regretful over this," the spokeswoman quoted him as saying.

"I hope this will not happen again," he said.

Gosh, I hope it will happen again and on a much bigger scale involving tens of millions of people.

Meanwhile, with trade between South and North Korea over $600 million last year the South Korean government is moving to implement a financial and trade agreement with North Korea in order to make that trade go even higher.

The agreements, signed in December 2000, call for the two sides to protect each others' investments, avoid double taxation, open a direct route for financial transactions and establish a panel to settle trade disputes.

While South Korea is preoccupied with appeasing North Korea and building up inter-Korean trade Georgetown University professor Victor Cha thinks South Korea should look beyond its own preoccupations and join in efforts to intercept North Korean shipping to end the North Korean missile and WMD trade.

This autumn, countries that are members of the Proliferation Security Initiative, or PSI, will likely begin exercises in the Pacific Ocean and Mediterranean Sea to practice search and seizure operations against the transfer of materials for weapons of mass destruction, or WMD.

These activities could represent the beginning of a new global norm, but they will bypass South Korea -- despite its national aspirations to become a player on the world stage -- because Seoul cannot look past its own preoccupations.

With appeasement demanding so much of President Roh's time I can't see how he could find the time to help prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. He's a busy man after all. Perhaps Roh could steal a page from North Korea's playbook and mercilessly suppress even the smallest signs of dissent from his policies. Then he wouldn't have to spend time apologizing for the crazy antics of freedom-loving protestors. Why not do this? After all, if Roh doesn't think people should protest against the behavior of the Pyongyang regime then he must not think there is any problem with the actions that Kim Jong-il takes.

Update: Marmot's Hole and Incestuous Amplification have extensive coverage of the flag-burning apology episode. First, Marmot Robert Koehler weighs in:

This is not the first time Widaehan Suryong Roh Mu-hyeon Dongji has reacted strongly to the burning of the North Korean flag. Back in June, Korean riot police forcibly stopped anti-North Korean demonstrators from setting the Nork flag ablaze. The previous year, then President Kim Dae-jung stopped protestors from burning North Korean flags and portraits of Da' Fat Man during the Asian Games in Pusan. The irony, of course, rests not only with the hands-off approach the government takes with the burning of the American flag - in point of fact, the North Korean flag is one of the few foreign flags that can be legally burned in South Korea, given that Seoul does not actually recognize North Korea as a nation.

Double standards about US and North Korean flags with the North Koreans getting more respect in South Korean? Who would have expected it? Okay, leave aside those who pay attention to what happens in South Korea. Who else would have expected it? Oh, alright, leave aside those who expect long-time American allies [Ed. former allies me: yeah, okay, former allies] to routinely dis on America for protecting their asses, who else would have expected it? Look at dogs. They are very loyal. Would they have expected it? No, of course not. Of course, dogs in Korea get eaten as delicacies. So maybe Robert Koehler doesn't expect Korean dogs to display loyalty. But isn't that the point? If a country isn't loyal to its dogs then why should we expect it to be loyal it its allies? [Ed. former allies me: yeah, okay, former allies] So what is going on in South Korea is a logical outcome of their use of dogs as human food.

Kevin at IA includes in his analysis of the flag burning-apology episode the important point that sports events do not build world peace.

The Korea Times:

Tension exists on the peninsula due to the North’s ambition to build weapons of mass destruction. We sincerely hope the North Koreans’ participation at the Daegu Universiade will contribute to ease tensions, promote peace and mend sour ties.

You know what I'm fucking sick of?  Listening to any asshole with a mouth blabber on about how every athletic competition, concert, and dance festival that includes both North and South Korea is "promoting peace" or "easing tensions" on the Korean peninsula.  Guess what fucksticks?  Archery competitions and concerts aren't promoting anything but archery and shitty pop music.  Why is it that every damn South Korean delegation has to make the argument that South Korea deserves an Olympics or a World Cup or a frog-fucking festival based on said event's potential for promoting peace, reconciliation, or reunification with North Korea?  Is there a single shred of evidence to support that theory?  Is it a pathetic play for pity?  Did the 2002 Asian Games in Busan -- in which North and South Korea marched together under one flag -- convince North Korea to cease their production of nukes?  Did it stop them from murdering 6 South Korean sailors last summer?  Did it prevent them from firing at South Korean soldiers in the DMZ last month?

Please, shut the fuck up about promoting peace.  It's a broken record and I'm tired of it, particularly in light of the fact that you bastards take every opportunity to piss on American soldiers, who are the real reason there's been 50 years of peace on the peninsula.  That's right, North Korean flute concertos don't contribute one iota to the protection of South Korean lives.  The GIs that you spit on, kidnap, harrass, disrespect, call murderers, and generally despise...do.

What is it about people who most loudly promote peace? If you think "peace activist" do you immediately think "fool"? Or do you immediately think "idiot" and then only as an afterthought "fool"?

Update II: For anyone hoping that the opposition party in South Korea would take a hard line against the apology is going to be disappointing.

The opposition Grand National Party released a statement arguing that President Roh's decision to offer an apology is "understandable but premature."

Premature? What, South Korea should have waited a whole day or maybe even two days before apologizing?

Then there is the treatment of the North Korean athletes. They are not allowed to defect.

To protect the North Koreans and prevent possible defections or other incidents, the delegation at Busan last October was tightly guarded and sealed off from outsiders. Taegu organizers have vowed similar tight security this month.

The South Koreans are badly in need of a moral compass. They must have lost theirs.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 20 04:02 PM  Korea
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Bridgeton New Jersey Has Many Hit And Run Accidents Due To Illegals

Business interests that lobby to block the deportation of illegal immigration bear some of the responsibility for the problems in Bridgeton New Jersey.

Since Jan. 1, the city has seen 235 traffic accidents, 139 of them hit-and-runs. That rate is more than three times that of Newark, the state's largest city. Nearly all the hit-and-runs, police say, appear to involve Mexican migrants who flee largely out of fear they will be arrested or deported.


With an official population of 22,771 and an undocumented population estimated at 6,000 to 10,000, this sleepy city struggles with many of the social problems associated with illegal immigration, such as overcrowded housing and hospitals trying to care for uninsured patients.

George W. Bush doesn't care because he wants to appeal to Hispanics in order to get reelected.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 20 12:07 PM  Immigration Border Control
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Bush Favors Kolbe-McCain-Flake Immigant Worker Visa Bill

As part of their continuing campaign to get around the opposition to a general illegal immigrant amnesty George W. Bush and his allies are shifting toward supporting legalization of illegals via a temporary worker visa program.

"The president was enthusiastic about the bill," said Kolbe. "He is supportive and told us to take the legislation up with his staff."

The controversial guest-worker proposal would allow millions of foreigners — including illegal immigrants already in the United States — to live and work here with temporary visas.

This is a steath amnesty program. Illegals will be able to be legals and therefore eligible for more benefits and more due process legal rights. They will be able to have children here who are automatically citizens at birth. They will be able to start down the road to more permanent residency rights from a position of being legals rather than illegals.

Another consequence is that more illegals will come in. When someone can work here legally that person then has a larger choice in jobs with employers who will not hire illegals. Those employers who will hire illegals will then go looking for replacements for the now legal workers who move on to more desireable jobs. Therefore a new wave of illegals will find job openings available to them that were opened up by legalized workers who move on to other jobs.

Update: I get seriously annoyed when I read statements based on fallacies about economics:

The proposal recognizes that 6 million to 10 million undocumented workers in this country are, in Kolbe's words, "performing invaluable services to all of us."

How about a reality check?

  • People who are paid low wages are doing something that the market considers to be of low economic value. Invaluable? If a good or service has a high economic value and it is difficult to get it done then its price will rise until someone will do it.
  • Prices do not always embody total costs. For instance, production of a good or service can result in harmful pollution whose cost does not show up as part of the price of the good. Such external costs are present with immigrant labor when, for instance, the immigrants get government-funded health care, welfare payments, or education for their kids that far exceeds what they pay in taxes.
  • Before the massive wave of illegal immigrants basic services got done. The trash was collected. Houses were built. There were restaurants and laundromats. Some of the prices for those services were higher. But the prices more accurately represented total costs.
  • Immigrants are political actors as well as economic actors. As a group that does more poorly economically grows as a percentage of the total population it is inevitable that that group will vote for more goods and services for itself. Immigrants are already much bigger users of welfare than natives.
  • Higher prices for labor are an incentive for companies to develop and buy capital equipment to automate processes. Therefore, cheap low-skilled immigrant labor is a disincentive for innovation and modernization of physical plant.

Our political leaders short-sighted and pursuing their own re-election interests at the expense of the longer term interests of the commonwealth.

Update II: Here's an example of external costs that do not show up in the price of illegal alien labor:

Emergency medical care for the undocumented cost nearly $1 billion last year by one federal estimate. They received 30 percent of Medicaid payments and 31 percent of welfare payments, often because their children were born here, and are therefore American citizens.

Note the Owellian newsspeak by the reporter above with her use of the term "undocumented" workers rather than illegal aliens.

Update III: Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies outlines the some of the economic costs of immigration to Californians.

Camarota's data showed that the average taxes paid by Mexican immigrants in California amount to about $1,535 per year, while native-born Californians pay $5,600 in taxes.

While Mexican immigrants pay one-third the taxes of native Californians on average, they also consume roughly three times more welfare, Camarota said.

Employers benefit. But the rest of society pays.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 20 11:55 AM  Immigration Border Control
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Middle Easterners Smuggled Into US Thru Mexico

In a wide ranging interview about immigration US House Representative Tom Tancredo (R CO) says it costs $30,000 for Middle Easterners to get smuggled into the US thru Mexico.

Q: The U.S.-Mexican border remains a danger point as far as international terrorism is concerned, does it not?

A: That's undeniably true. There are terror cells in Mexico. We have identified terrorists who have come into the United States through Mexico.

In Arizona, there's a road just north of the city of Douglas called the "Arab road." They charge $30,000 to smuggle Arabs or Middle Easterners into the United States and $1,150 to $1,500 for a Mexican peasant.

Q: What is the government doing to stop this problem?

A: Little that I am aware of. We certainly are not doing everything possible to protect us. As long as the president and the Democrats stay silent on this issue, who's going to bring it up?

We can tell by watching the prices that smugglers charge whether the US government will ever start trying harder to stop the entry of illegal immigrants. Given the willingness of the national Republican Party to try to appeal to the Hispanic voters by allowing in more illegals and making it easier for illegals to function in the US the best hope for a substantial change in US immigration policy probably comes from the state level. Those states that have state level ballot referendums could have their policies toward illegals changed by citizen ballot initiatives. The matricula consular could be outlawed. Also, state and local police forces could be authorized and ordered to round up illegals for deportation. As the two border states that have referendum processes Arizona and California could have referendums for state funding of the construction of a wall on the Mexican border.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 20 10:32 AM  Immigration Border Control
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2003 August 19 Tuesday
The Growing Economic Disincentives For Having Large Families

James Surowiecki has a very interesting article in The New Yorker about a forthcoming book entitled The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke that argues it is becoming more expensive for couples to raise children.

You might, then, expect American families to be luxuriating in good fortune. But, compared with people who don’t have children, people who do are in worse economic shape than they’ve ever been in. The Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren and her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi demonstrate, in their forthcoming book “The Two-Income Trap,” that having a child is now the best indicator of whether someone will end up in “financial collapse.” Married couples with children are twice as likely as childless couples to file for bankruptcy. They’re seventy-five per cent more likely to be late paying their bills. And they’re also far more likely to face foreclosure on their homes. Most of these people are not, by the usual standards, poor. They’re middle-class couples who are in deep financial trouble in large part because they have kids.

Warren and Tyagi argue for a public school voucher system to help deal with this problem. But housing prices are one reason why much of the middle class is opposed to school vouchers. People who paid high housing prices to buy a house in a neighborhood with an excellent school do not want to see vouchers used to bring in students from other areas who will compete with their kids for slots in the highly rated school that is near their house. As the need for more education has increased the competition for ensuring quality education for offspring has intensified. Therefore worries about the ability to send potential offspring to quality schools become an additional disincentive for having children.

One perverse consequence of these disincentives is that they are felt less strongly by those who are less educated and less bright themselves. Those who are not well educated tend, on average, to not be as bright as those who are well educated. So one effect of these disincentives is to select against intelligent offspring. Note if you click thru on that link and follow thru to the original articles on the Australian Twins Registry study that there are two separate selective effects measured: years of education (which is a decent rough proxy for intelligence - not that the researchers will say that) and types of religious belief - with Catholics standing out as having measurably different reproductive rates than other Australians. The religious influence should not be too surprising. What people believe affects what they do.

The writers also point out that the gradual growth of the expectation in the post-World War II era that all middle class kids should go to college has effectively become an additional disincentive for having more children. Each child a middle class couple gives birth to translates into an even larger expense per year when the kid goes off to college. As college tuition has risen more rapidly than overall inflation this disincentive has continued to grow.

The need for two incomes has an interesting consequence that I rarely see mentioned: if one member of the couple becomes unemployed and can not find a job locally then the couple have a reason to move to another part of the country. But then both have to find a new job at a new location. When only the husband worked the decisions about when to move and where to work were much easier to make. Ups and downs in particular industries were easier to adjust for. Having two members of a household working becomes an incentive to move to near a major metropolitan area to increase the odds that both members of a married couple will be able to find work in their area of expertise.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 19 01:28 PM  Civilizations Decay
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2003 August 18 Monday
Will Terrorists Going To Fight In Iraq Help Or Hurt US War Against Terrorism?

The New York Times reports that terrorists are passing over the border into Iraq daily to fight US occupying forces.

"Iraq is the nexus where many issues are coming together — Islam versus democracy, the West versus the axis of evil, Arab nationalism versus some different types of political culture," said Barham Saleh, the prime minister of this Kurdish-controlled part of northern Iraq. "If the Americans succeed here, this will be a monumental blow to everything the terrorists stand for."

Recent intelligence suggests the militants are well organized. One returning group of fighters from the militant Ansar al-Islam organization captured in the Kurdish region two weeks ago consisted of five Iraqis, a Palestinian and a Tunisian.

This brings to mind a recent column by Arnold Kling comparing the World War II Battle Of The Atlantic with the war against terorists entitled Sink The Terrorists.

American navy leaders resisted the convoy system. They preferred a "search and destroy" approach, which would enable the navy to act independently of merchant ships. However, this proved inefficient, because submarines were difficult to find.

With convoys, on the other hand, the U-Boats would reveal their presence when they attacked. At that point, destroyers and other escorts could swing into action.

President Bush's reaction to terrorist attacks in Iraq ("Bring 'em on") is reminiscent of the convoy theory. We would prefer the terrorists to be active where we have the properly-armed, well-trained forces to fight them.

Well, can the US fight terrorists in Iraq any more effectively than if, say, those same terrorists are moving around in other Arab countries running operations to attack sites that have many Westerners? If the terrorists currently travelling to Iraq to be Jihadists fighting against US forces were not faced with the prospect of US soldiers in Iraq to ambush would those same people take the battle to some other place or would they just stay home dreaming of attacking the US?

The answers to these and similar questions are far from clear. But it seems reasonable to think that it is a lot easier for, say, a Jordanian or Egyptian extremist hot head to get himself to Iraq than to get himself to, say New York City or Washington DC. Once in Iraq it is also a lot easier for such an extremist to hook up with sympathizers for the simple reason that there are far more co-religionists around who are more likely to agree with him that America is evil and needs to be fought. The areas where the radicals will attack US forces in Iraq are not battlefields. Iraq is not the mid-Atlantic with nothing but ships and submarines battling it out with all present clearly on one side or the other. So the Battle of the Atlantic is not a tight fit in terms of historical analogy for what is going on in Iraq. Still, Kling's argument has some merit. But lets look first at some of the points against his argument. Here's a summary list of reasons why the presence of US forces in Iraq will increase the amount of opportunities the Islamists have to attack US forces:

  • Iraq is close to other countries that have many Islamic radicals in their populaces.
  • Sunni Muslims are a substantial portion of the population in Iraq. Some of them are radicals.
  • Iraq is fairly disorderly and no longer has an effective internal intelligence operation.
  • Saddam's loyalists will gladly use the Muslim radicals as tools against the US forces.
  • US forces are in Iraq and out in public in densely populated areas.
  • US forces are reluctant to aggressively respond to attacks in densely populated areas.
  • Since the populated areas have regular civilian populaces routinely out in large numbers US forces can not lay down defensive perimeters where the opposition might want to set booby traps. The US forces can't just watch for a rare occasional human movement and monitor it for suspicious activity. The density of the civilian populace is a form of camouflage for the movement of hostile forces dressed as civilians.

All of these factors argue against a net benefit for the US of US forces fighting Islamists in Iraq. Another problem is that the US press is likely to go negative (much of it already has) about the prospects of US occupation forces getting the upper hand against the groups currently conducting attacks against the occupation. Whereas in WWII the US and Britain were clearly resolved that they had no choice but to fight on no matter how grim things got by contrast substantial portions of the US elites and populace doubt the necessity of a prolonged fight in Iraq.

However, there is a potential upside for the US should the insurgency campaign in Iraq last for years:

  • If the US is able to gradually get the upper hand, infiltrate resistance groups, and kill a lot of Islamists it will shake the faith of at least some of the Islamists that they are gaining ground.
  • The organized resistance, to the extent that the Baathist leaders can keep on feeding in foreign fighters, will leave trails of evidence that leads back to the leaders. There are many Baathists who the US would not have arrested and jailed or killed if those Baathists just gave up when Saddam's regime fell. Many of them could cause problems by corrupting and blackmailing Iraqi members of the new government. But by supporting continued fighting those Baathists put themselves at risk of considerable jail time or death. So the US might be able to better reduce Baathist influence if the insurgency continues for a longer period of time.
  • The presence of foreign Sunni fighters operating from the Sunni areas of Iraq may strengthen the feeling of common cause with the US in the minds of many Iraqi Shiites. Keep in mind that the Shiites are the majority and their views are therefore incredibly important.
  • Iraq is serving as a useful laboratory for the US military to try out new tactics and equipment for fighting terrorism and urban insurgencies. The US military's learning curve and development of equipment may be greatly accelerated by what is going on in Iraq. The development of superior systems for information collection (e.g. automated surveillance cameras) and analysis could make a big difference.

It is not clear which side will benefit from continued fighting in Iraq. If you see any factors I've left out that weigh on one side or the other then add them to the comments.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 18 05:37 PM  Terrorists Western Response
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Ankle Bracelets To Reduce Cost Of Holding Illegal Aliens

The most amazing thing about this article about a plant to use ankle bracelets to track illegal aliens awaiting deportation is the current cost of holding illegal aliens in prison runs into the billions per year.

On average, 190,000 illegal immigrants are held in detention every day. The cost to jail each one is more than $53,000 a year. The cost of the bracelet — not including the undetermined amount of monitoring fees — is $3.18. The comparative annual cost would be a minimum of $570,000 for the bracelets, or more than $10 billion for detention.

The $53,000 per year times 190,000 illegals being held at any one time does multiply out to $10.07 billion. That is an astounding figure. We could build a wall along the border of Mexico for far less money than we spend per year on illegal alien detention. As fewer illegals made it into the United States the resulting gradual reduction in the number of illegal aliens being held for detention would by itself pay for the cost of the wall. Of course, reductions in spending on medical care, welfare benefits, and other costs due to illegal aliens would be in addition to the savings from detention costs. Plus, there would be additional savings from reductions in the legal costs of lawyers, judges, and court workers incurred from holding court deportation proceedings.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 18 11:03 AM  Immigration Law Enforcement
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2003 August 16 Saturday
Misregulation Of Electric Power Industry Limits Transmission Capacity

The Washington Post has a pretty good article on the problems with the US electricity transmission grid. (my bold emphasis added)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that oversees transmission, has been trying for years to prod power companies into forming new, multi-state regional grids with authority over planning and system reliability measures. But utilities in the Southeast and Northwest fear that a more wide-open system would allow their cheaper power to be siphoned away from their customers. They have made war on FERC's plans and some members of Congress are trying to block the commission's transmission initiative from going forward until 2005 or 2007.


As deregulation flourished, investment dwindled in transmission lines, whose profits are limited by regulation.

As California learned with its own energy crisis, if parts of a system are deregulated and there is still lack of a market mechanism in other parts the result can be disastrous. There is not enough economic incentive for building transmission lines. As a result there are not enough transmission lines. Worse yet, deregulation of other parts of the electrical energy industry has actually increased the incentive for sending electricity longer distances from suppliers to buyers and hence the demand for transmission lines has been further increased by deregulation in other parts of the electric power industry.

Update: The political gridlock about whether and how to change the regulation of transmission lines has made investors reluctant to invest in transmission grid upgrades.

Christine Tezak, an electricity-energy analyst with Charles Schwab & Co., said that a lack of a political consensus on how to upgrade the transmission system has dampened the willingness of investors to put up the tens of millions of dollars necessary to improve the system.

Update II: Selective deregulation combined with regulatory obstacles for building new power lines has created a shortage of transmission line capacity.

Under deregulation, the plants have been sold to other companies that often sell their power to utilities hundreds of miles away, increasing traffic on the grid. To meet rising demand for power, new plants have been built, in some cases further straining the transmission system. Meanwhile, obtaining environmental permits to build power lines has gotten harder.

The blame game on this fiasco will become pretty intense. Don't expect the politicians to be willing to blame themselves even though they are at least partially to blame for what happened.

Update III: Lynne Kiesling, who runs the Knowledge Problem blog, is an energy policy analyst and her entire archives for August 2003 has more than you ever wanted to know about electrical energy policy and how it contributed to the biggest power outage in US history. (and perhaps in world history for that matter?) She has many posts and many links to relevant articles and web sites with great information. If you want to follow electrical power as a political and economic issue then her blog is a must read.

Lynne Kiesling also has a nice summary article on Tech Central Station about how partial deregulation has caused a shortage of electricity transmission capacity.

The numbers offered this weekend suggest that electricity volume has increased 30 percent while transmission carrying capacity has increased only 15 percent. This fact illustrates the mismatch between the dynamic markets for wholesale power and the rigid, maladaptive set of state-level regulations and incentives that govern transmission investment decisions.

Markets adapt to changing conditions. The existing electricity regulations do not, and because of that, the transmission infrastructure has not adapted to the increased demand on it from the increasing vibrancy of wholesale electricity markets.

Lynne points out that NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) an obstacle to both new electrical generator construction near heavily populated areas and to construction of new electric transmission towers. She argues more dynamic changes in retail electricity prices in response to limits of transmission and generation capacity could allow large customers to cut back on electricity usage during peak periods. I'd be curious to know whether dynamic pricing of transmission capacity allocation could also be done.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 16 04:32 PM  Economics Energy
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2003 August 15 Friday
Border Patrol Told Not To Stop Illegal Aliens In City Of San Diego

San Diego area Border Patrol agents are not to stop illegals once the illegals have made it further into the city.

A directive barring Border Patrol agents from stopping suspected illegal immigrants on city streets is throwing the 1,600 San Diego-area agents into turmoil.

The directive, contained in an internal memo last week from William T. Veal, Border Patrol chief in San Diego, said "agents are not authorized to conduct any interior enforcement or city patrol operations in or near residential areas or places of employment."

The directive resulted from a series of recent, highly publicized incidents, the best-known of which occurred Aug. 2, when a Mexican family of five on their way to the Mexican Consulate was stopped by Border Patrol agents within a block of their destination.

The Border Patrol is being told they can only patrol right on the border. Even if they see a criminal on a San Diego city street who they know has been deported before they are powerless to stop that person.

Be clear on this: the Bush Administration supports this policy. If you disagree with George W. Bush on this then send the President an email.

Update: The US federal government doesn't just want to prevent the Border Patrol from stopping illegal aliens away from the Border. The Bush Administration also wants to stop private groups from stopping illegal aliens from entering the United States.

Chris Simcox, editor of the Tombstone Tumbleweed and leader of Civil Homeland Defense, or CHD, told WorldNetDaily local Border Patrol supervisors and agents say their orders to contact the Cochise County Sheriff's Department whenever his volunteers hand over illegal aliens came straight from Washington, D.C.

The Bush Administration is responding to pressure from Hispanic groups that lobby for illegal immigration and for the extension of more rights of citizenship to illegals.

Update: As for whether the illegal immigration can be stopped, the short answer is Yes! A barrier fence on our border with Mexico would cost much less than one year's cost to the US taxpayer for medical treatments given to illegal aliens. To appreciate just how much the US government has sabotaged and undermined its own enforcement of immigration laws and put a stop to the use of effective policies to get control of illegal immigration see the post Can Immigration Law Be Enforced? for infuriating examples of how federal policy makers have sabotaged enforcement mechanisms.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 15 03:27 PM  Immigration Law Enforcement
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Lowry: Schwarzenegger Should Run On Immigration Control

Rich Lowry argues that Arnold should fight on the issue of immigration in his campaign for governor of California.

The state's health-care crisis is largely driven by immigrants. There are roughly 7 million people in California without health insurance. About 4 million of them are immigrants or the young children of immigrants.

Half of all welfare usage in the state is from immigrant households, and 32 percent of all illegal-immigrant households receive benefits from at least one welfare program. The average welfare payment -- just counting the four major welfare programs -- to illegal-immigrant households is $1,400 a year.

Half of all kids in the public-school system are from immigrant families, a dramatic increase in the number of kids in schools without a corresponding increase in the tax base. About half of immigrants are too poor to pay any income taxes.

While Proposition 187 to cut off state government spending on illegal aliens passed with over 60% of the vote Governor Gray Davis successfully colluded with Hispanic leaders to gut its implementation. Lowry and others are arguing that Ah-nold should run on a platform to implement it and to employ state police and other law enforcement officials to apply US immigration law to cut back on illegal immigrants. Deporting large numbers of illegal immigrants and keeping more from coming to California would go a long way toward reducing the state budget crisis.

This call from Rich Lowry comes at a time of increasing support on the Right for a dramatic reduction in current levels of immigration. In a Hudson Institute review of Victor Davis Hanson's Mexifornia: A State of Becoming John Fonte discusses the larger trends in the debate on immigration on the US political Right.

One reason for this enthusiasm is that the book has arrived at just the right time. Conservatives are having "second thoughts" on immigration and assimilation policies. During the 1970s and 1980s, when there was broad support for relatively open immigration among conservatives, it was assumed that assimilation into the American mainstream would take care itself. With the publication of a seminal article ("Time to Rethink Immigration") in National Review in June 1992, by a free-market journalist and Forbes contributor named Peter Brimelow, opposition to mass immigration started to build on the right. Under the editorship of John O’Sullivan, National Review was at the center of this first-wave debate that faded in the late ’90s.

During the same period, however, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, it was becoming increasingly clear to many thoughtful conservatives that traditional assimilation was not working. Slowly and almost imperceptibly, leading conservative intellectuals and activists began having "second thoughts" about our de facto mass immigration policy. The events of 9/11 further strengthened the rethinking.

Today, this "second thoughts" group would include, in varying degrees, Californians such as Ward Connerly, Thomas Sowell, and former leftists David Horowitz and Peter Collier (Collier urged Hanson to write this manuscript in the first place for Encounter Books, his publishing house; City Journal writers such as Myron Magnet and Heather MacDonald; First Things editor Fr. Richard John Neuhaus; American Enterprise editor Karl Zinsmeister; Hudson Institute President Herb London; Nixon Center President Dimitri Simes and center scholar Robert Leiken; academics including Walter McDougall, James Kurth, Fred Lynch, and Samuel Huntington; National Association of Scholars stalwarts such as Carol Iannone, Glynn Custred, Thomas Wood, Gilbert T. Sewall, and Eugene Genovese; journalist Michele Malkin (whose new book on immigration and national security, Invasion, is a best seller); the National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru; Claremont Institute scholars Ken Masugi and Tom West; neoconservative professor Fred Siegal; and, since 9/11, the prominent scholar of Islam and presidential appointee, Daniel Pipes. Even the venerable libertarian thinker Milton Friedman has noted that mass immigration and the welfare state don’t mix.

For more on Hanson's book see my previous post Victor Davis Hanson Against Massive Immigration From Mexico

Update: But if it turns out that Arnie says things that make it sound like he will wimp out on immigration remember that Joe Guzzardi is running.

Update II: The editors of Human Events say Proposition 187 to cut welfare spending to illegal aliens should be resurrected.

With the removal of Davis, Prop 187 should be resurrected. The proposition is not only right, it is also indispensable to saving California from financial ruin. In April, for example, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) determined that its un-reimbursed cost for providing non-emergency health care to illegal aliens is now running $340 million per year. That means it will account for more than the aggregate $993 million deficit the DHS is expected to run over the next three years. In 1999, the Rand Corporation calculated that native-born California taxpayers pay an additional $1,200 in state and local taxes each year to subsidize services for immigrants.

As a bonus, Prop 187 is still popular. Despite the demagogic race-baiting campaign to thwart it, evidence suggests that support for Prop 187 has grown. In June 1999, the Los Angeles Times conducted a massive poll of 1,179 registered California voters. Sixty percent said they supported Prop 187, only 35% said they opposed it.

Even more effective would be to build a wall on the entire border of Mexico and then authorize local and state police to arrest and deport illegal aliens. If the illegal aliens were not in the US they would not be able to demand medical treatment and other social welfare benefits.

Update III: David Horowitz makes the case for illegal immigrants as large contributors to California's budget crisis.

The second event is the impending bankruptcy of the state's finances. Illegal immigration is a significant component of this problem, which liberals don’t like to discuss. As a result of the judicial scuttling of Prop 187, big-ticket items like education, health-care and welfare are still available to anyone crossing the border, whether he crosses legally or not. The costs of this generosity to aliens who are here illegally amounts to billions of dollars every year in addition to unpaid taxes which are estimated at $7 billion dollars annually, i.e., almost 20 percent of the budget deficit.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 15 03:12 PM  Immigration Border Control
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Israel Threatens To Strike Iranian Nuclear Facilities

Writing for the Washington Post Jim Hoagland says Israel is threatening to launch a preemptive strike against the Iranian nuclear weapons development facilities.

A grim warning from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to President Bush that Iran is much closer to producing nuclear weapons than U.S. intelligence believes has triggered concern here that Israel is seriously considering a preemptive strike against Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor.


Sharon's description of the unacceptable risks of Iran's being able to launch "a nuclear holocaust" comes just as the Bush administration is making headway in constructing a diplomatic containment strategy for the nuclear weapons programs of Iran and North Korea.

A diplomatic containment strategy against Iran and North Korea? The Foggy Bottom diplomats in the US State Department are dreaming. Do they think their diplomatic strategy can stop Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons? How exactly? The US is trying to get the European Union to cut trade with Iran and to get the Russians to refuse to sell the uranium needed to make the Bushehr reactor operational. But the Iranians are operating their own uranium mines.

The prospects of stopping North Korea's nuclear weapons program diplomatically are even worse than those for stopping Iran's. As long as China and South Korea support North Korea the US is going to be hard pressed to stop North Korea's nuclear program. The Bush Administration's embrace of a diplomatic strategy is either a sign that they know their hand is weak and that they don't have the support and resources to pursue a more hardball strategy or maybe they think they see some advantage of going down a diplomatic route to demonstrate to other countries that it is a path that will not work. I'm inclined to the more pessimistic view that their hand is too weak and that they can not or will not stop either Iran or North Korea from going nuclear.

Writing for Haaretz Nathan Guttman reports on the Israeli view about a preemptive strike on Iran.

But attacking Iran's nuclear facilities would be far more complicated than the 1982 strike outside Baghdad. First, Iran's nuclear program is dispersed at several sites, some of which are protected from conventional weapons; the distance to fly is much greater; and perhaps most importantly, the Iranians could respond in a painful manner.

What exactly is "a painful manner"? How could the Iranians strike back at Israel? Anyone know? Chemical laden missiles perhaps?

If the threat of an Israeli strike forces the Bush Administration to take more forceful steps to stop Iran's nuclear weapons development program then the Israelis are doing the world a valuable service. Unfortunately, North Korea's nuclear weapons program is further along and the Israelis can not credibly threaten to launch a preemptive strike against it.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 15 11:48 AM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control
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Will Increasing National Security Threats Restore Status Of Masculinity?

An interesting Frontpage Magazine-American Enterprise symposium conducted by Jamie Glazov with anthropologist Lionel Tiger, Michael Ledeen, and David Gutmann is on the topic The Return of Manhood

Interlocutor: Why do you think that the male professions in question fell out of favor with American elites during the dark 1970s?

Bowman: They actually fell out of favor much earlier than that. Almost all the worst features of the 1960s and 1970s were anticipated in the 1920s, and the disfavor into which masculine honor fell then was owing to the slaughter of the First World War and the simultaneous rise of feminism and psychotherapy. The discredit these developments brought to masculine honor was offset by the need for it during the Second World War, though it was very different then from what it had been 25 years earlier. But the brief swing back towards tradition of the 1950s was undone by the same culprits in a new guise: the dirtiness of counter-insurgency warfare, second-wave feminism and the romance of victimhood, especially with post-traumatic stress disorder, a new and poetical illness that, seemingly, everyone who had been to Vietnam (and a great many who had not) wanted to claim for themselves.

Tiger: Elites are surely principally interested in what interests them - other elites, their money, their jobs, their housing, their associations. Beat cops and corporals have rarely been the foci of interest and admiration of elites, especially females, because they promise little in the way of resources, status, fun, and opportunities for children. As well, the training and disposition of those in the lower echelons of the male professions were relatively thin and, yes, macho.

Now, however, soldiers and policeman are more sophisticated, operate more and costlier equipment, and are clearly more than trench-diggers or bouncers. So there's been an upgrade of occupational tone of especially indigenous working males while the muckwork of the world is increasingly performed by immigrants who don't figure in any of this palaver for at least 20 years of their American residence. Traditional concepts of sex were changed into skeltonless notions of "gender" and a vast and successful tsunami of bad science about the social construction of sex as well as everything else - to say nothing of the bizarre separation of the social from the natural sciences - squashed any empirical naturalism on the subject. It has been Lysenko at his most effective.

Eventually the evidence of average biological differences in cognitive processes of males and females will become so large that the radical egalitarian feminist idelogues will have to retreat from some of their ridiculous positions. Though their retreat will probably be to a position that basicaly claims that, yes, men and women are different but in ways that reflect poorly on men. We can see where that line of thinking will lead from a comment by Tiger:

The school system tries to remould males and doesn't do so well. Hence only 43% of college students are male, 9 times as many males as females are victims of Ritalin which is an effort to turn them behaviorally into females.

Advances in the biological science of human nature may well intensify the ideological battle in American society as factions battle over which kinds of behavioral tendencies should be undermined with pharmacology and genetic engineering.

As for whether the masculine qualities will come to have a higher status: it depends on how the war against terrorism goes. If there are a few more big terrorist attacks in the United States that will do more to change the popular view of men than any reasoned debate could accomplish. Academia is rotten and, since existing professors make tenure decisions about new professors, it is likely to stay that way. Quite simply, academia lacks mechanisms for self-correction.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 15 12:44 AM  Human Nature
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2003 August 13 Wednesday
Australian Prime Minister Howard Opposes Low Skill Immigration

Conservative Australian Prime Minister John Howard opposes large scale immigration of unskilled immigrants.

Howard has never shown enthusiasm for the more radical notion of building a new Australian culture based on diversity. Thus his concern expressed at various times over the rapid change in the country's ethnic mix that resulted from an immigration policy based around family reunion. His Government's immigration policy, while increasing numbers over recent years, has dramatically shifted the emphasis away from family reunion to a more controllable skill-needs basis.

George Bush has a very different approach on these issues. Like many in the Republican party, Bush is an aggressive exponent of ethnic diversity and high and continuing immigration levels. (The US takes in more than one million legal migrants a year, with no requirement to read, write or speak English.)

A neo-conservative, Bush is regarded in US immigration circles as a "radical" on the subject - certainly for a president.

It is hard to detect any difference between George W. Bush and liberal Democrats on immigration. The liberal attitude toward immigration can be seen most clearly in their attitude toward illegals. Some liberal publications now routinely refer to illegal immigrants as "undocumented workers" rather than as illegal aliens. In their Orwellian-speak these people are not here illegally and they are not from another country. A recent Washington Post story has a title "Schwarzenegger Opposed Immigrant Services" which neatly illustrates this liberal bias. The text of the article reveals that what Arnie was opposed to was government social spending in illegal aliens. But the article title makes no distinction. Now the Democrats are clamoring to make make a campaign issue about the audacity of anyone who would dare oppose forcing the taxpayer to pay for medical care and other services for illegal aliens. The illegals who try to get government services ought to be deported. They are breaking the law by being here. They cost more to the government than they pay in taxes. They drive down the wages of citizens. They therefore actually cause the poorest citizens to have less money and to therefore be in more need of government services themselves.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 13 04:27 PM  Immigration Border Control
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China And South Korea Enable North Korean Nuclear Program

Peter Huessy says China has the power to stop North Korean nuclear weapons development.

For example, Joe Cirincione at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace charged that the combination of U.S. missile defenses and nuclear forces—“first the shield, then the sword”-- was undermining China’s deterrent, though it remains unclear what it is China was deterring the U.S. from doing. More likely, the PRC is concerned the U.S. is more likely to come to the defense of its allies in the region if we maintain both a missile defense and a nuclear deterrent, rather than a nuclear deterrent alone. Failing to deter potential Chinese aggression would be an open invitation to further military adventures, certainly not a sensible U.S. policy to follow.

The Bush Administration is thus pushing the PRC to make a choice between continuing its proliferation policies and finally shaping up. In my view, the Chinese communists in Beijing have all the power they need to stop not only the missile deployments and sales of the Kim Jong-Il government, but its nuclear programs as well. The key is what future the Chinese government officials now with the upper hand in Beijing decide: to pursue a China that fully integrates with the development of the Pacific region, its investment, trade and growth, or a China that seeks hegemonic control over the Pacific and its future.

There is debate about the extent of China's influence over North Korea. But China's aid to North Korea in the form of fuel and food is essential for the survival of the Pyongyang regime. Therefore, North Korea's continued development of nuclear weapons is possible because China allows it to happen. The Chinese clearly place a higher priority on the survival of the Pyongyang regime than they do on stopping its nuclear weapons development effort.

There are only about 3 possible ways to stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons:

  • The US invades and overthrows the regime.
  • The US smuggles in large numbers of radios and books and reaches the North Korean people with a great deal of information about the rest of the world and this inspires the North Korean people to rise up and overthrow their government.
  • China cuts off aid to North Korea and joins with the US and its allies to enforce sanctions. The Pyongyang regime falls.

The Bush Administration doesn't appear to be willing to do a military build-up for a war. The US military is rather overstretched at this point anyhow and Congress would have to fund a military build up to make an attack practical. This seems unlikely.

An internal revolt seems unlikely unless some part of the military carries out a coup. Internal revolts against highly tyrannical regimes which still have effective and vigorous mechanisms of repression are rare. The state of mind of the officers in the North Korean military is the biggest wildcard in this scenario. Possibly a US covert operation could reach them with enough information and offers of substantial bribes to sway some loyalties. But I think this unlikely.

China is obviously unwilling to cut off aid. The Bush Administration seems unwilling to criticise the Chinese for failing to do so.

It is possible that the next round of negotiations will build up support among US allies for further cuts in aid and trade with North Korea. Even if US allies came to totally agree with the US on this point that would still leave non-allies South Korea and China supporting North Korea. As Incestuous Amplifier Kevin points out, China and South Korea are going to stick with North Korea come what may.

I support a hard negotiating line in order to flesh out a failure earlier rather than later, but I think the hawks in the Pentagon are equally wild-eyed optimists if they believe they'll ever succeed in rallying support from other countries for further pressure. Once negotiations begin, the North Koreans have to be smart enough to know that as long as they even remain at the table -- regardless of what they're saying or how much they're cooperating -- South Korea, China, and Russia will claim that the process is working. Germany, France, and Russia did the same thing with inspections in Iraq, and Iraq bought itself an extra year by playing the G/F/R against the US and Britain. North Korea could easily buy itself 3-4 years considering the fact that the potential costs of a war are exponentially higher.

You can follow the news from the Korean peninsula from day to day but keep in mind that no matter how much seems to be happening diplomatically at any point and no matter how hopeful various talking heads are of reaching a peaceful solution major changes would have to happen in the positions of both the Chinese and South Koreans for North Korea's nuclear program to be stopped at some point short of war. I think that unlikely and I'm betting on North Korea becoming a substantial nuclear power.

Update: Also see Marmot Robert Kohler's critique of a Korea Times op-ed by Tom Plate:

And Tom, you seem to have made a couple of slight typos there - concerning China, you wrote that its "cooperation with South Korea and the United States on the Korean issue has become dramatically helpful," when you should have written, "cooperation with South Korea against the United States on the Korean issue has become dramatically unhelpful." If either the Chinese or the South Koreans had wanted to nip this problem in the bud, they could have done so. But the Chinese would rather see their influence in the region grow while at the same time forcing the United States (its greatest competitor) to unilaterally shoulder the diplomatic and financial costs of a "negotiated solution," and the last two South Korean presidential administrations have been much more concerned with "inter-Korean detente" and arranging corrupt business deals in the North than with the possibility of a North Korean nuclear device going off in LA or New York. To the extent that Beijing and Seoul have cooperated at all, they have done so out of fear that the US might do something "drastic"; once we take that "drastic" option off the table - as preferred by Seoul, Beijing, and Tom Plate - the Chinese and South Koreans will no longer have any interest at all to work with Washington, and they'll go back to simply trying to bend the Americans over..

It is, at best, naive to refer to either South Korea or China as a friend or ally.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 13 03:17 PM  Korea
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Canton Mississippi Sheriff To Round Up All Illegal Aliens

One Mississippi sheriff is going to make modern American history when he systematically rounds up all the illegal aliens in his jurisdiction.

Sheriff Toby Trowbridge said he requested help about six months ago from the Jackson office of what was then the Immigration and Naturalization Service, now a part of the Department of Homeland Security.


Details of the proposed sweep have not been worked out, Trowbridge said. "You've got to work smart to get it done ... so they won't come back across the border the next day ... and I'm fixing to get it started," Trowbridge said.

This is an approach that could work throughout the United States if only the political will existed to do it.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 13 02:19 PM  Immigration Law Enforcement
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2003 August 11 Monday
Radio Smuggling Campaign: Give the Ear to a North Korean

A group is going to start smuggling radios into the most isolated country in the world: North Korea.

The North Korean government's monopoly on news inside the Stalinist state is being challenged by South Korean activists, who plan to float radios across the border carried by helium baloons.

The initial shipments will be done by balloons.

They plan to fly more than 20 balloons, each six metres tall and carrying about 30 small radios, into North Korea within the next two weeks from either China or South Korea, organizers told a news conference in Seoul, without elaborating.

They are starting out with a small budget.

Organisers estimate the cost of sending the radios at $7,000.

This is a worthwhile cause.

The Free North Korea site has posted a message from a leader of this effort, Korean-American human rights activist Rev. Douglas Shin:

--How are we planning to smuggle these radios?
Over the land (i.e. hand-carried), by sea (eg. in a bottle or by unmanned boat), and by air (eg. by balloon or by UAV—unmanned aerial vehicle or ’drone’). The details are available upon request by relevant parties.

--How can you help?
Each package will include one solar-powered radio, one sheet of waterproof paper containing whatever printed message the donor wants to send (eg. Christian tract, freedom notice, introduction to the donor), and a 500-won North Korean note to buy a few kilos of rice with. The radios cost about $20 right now and the price is going down.

The donor can contribute with money, their radios (must be light, compact, and solar-powered), logistical support, manpower (eg. participation with the smuggling by all means), and/or even broadcast contents. In addition to two South Korean and two American radio stations that broadcast daily to North Korea, it costs about $180 for an hour of airtime for North Korea at a commercial transmission service such as VT Merlin.

--Where can you send help?
You can send your support to Korean Peninsula Peace Project, a California non-profit corporation in Los Angeles:

11901 E. 176th Street #144
Artesia, CA 90701

+1-562-458-5744 (mobile)

Website (soon to open): www.freenorthkorea.org

The idea of using an unmanned boat is pretty clever. If the North Koreans come across the boat they won't be able to kill anyone. A boat could be preprogrammed to follow a course and guide itself using GPS. They'd just need some sort of device that could trigger at a desired location to release the sealed radios into the water near a coastline and then the boat could return toward South Korea.

(thanks to Tom Holsinger for the heads-up on this)

By Randall Parker 2003 August 11 08:13 PM  Korea
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WMD Proliferation Control Becoming More Difficult

The New York Times, in a story about the suicide of late Hyundai Asan chief Chung Mong Hun, mentions that South Korean trade with North Korea is growing rapidly.

Conservatives saw the project as a cash cow that funneled Pyongyang money that could be used for nuclear weapons. More to the liking of all South Koreans is straightforward inter-Korean trade, which jumped 25 percent in the first half of this year, to $269 million.

"I was in Kaesong a week ago, there were a lot of South Koreans there, still talking about details," said Tony Michell, president of Euro-Asian Business Consultancy, a British company that does business in North Korea. "They are checking the soils and surveying. Work is continuing on the road and railroad."

This makes it harder to apply economic pressure to North Korea.

South Korea is not the only country that is taking steps that make it harder to stop WMD proliferation of course. David Lampton of the Nixon Center says that the US is turning a blind eye on China's export of WMD technology to the Middle East in order to try to win Chinese cooperation on North Korea.

"Iran is a very worrisome problem and they're moving along on their nuclear program, but they're not as far as North Korea and I think we're just saying, 'Let's deal with this problem and then we'll take the next one.' There is no effective policy with respect to North Korea unless China cooperates," Lampton said.

This is a sign of the weakness of the hand the US leaders think they have to play with China on both North Korea and the Middle East.

In the face of a growing likelihood that North Korea will have nuclear weapons that can reach Japan the development of a nuclear arsenal is no longer taboo in Japan.

This month, The Shokun, a major right-leaning magazine, gathered essays from more than 40 prominent writers to debate the issue.

Even journalists with dovish reputations said the option was a valid card to play for political leverage, not only against North Korea but the United States and other nations. Some questioned whether Japan was ready for the responsibility; others preferred Japan to get a missile defense system.

Nuclear North Korea and Iran could set off regional arms races.

For instance, North Korea's testing of a nuclear device might persuade Japan to quickly go nuclear itself, arms-control experts suggest. A nuclear Japan, in turn, might force China to increase its arsenal. That could put pressure on Taiwan to seek such weapons.

A nuclear Iran, meanwhile, could make it harder to establish pro-American governments in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan.

The US is approaching a point where its attempts to stop WMD proliferation may become a complete failure. Technological and world economic development trends increase the number of countries that can supply relevant technology and the technology becomes steadily cheaper to acquire. Containment strategies based on trade controls and diplomatic agreements are simply inadequate. But so far the Bush Administration has been unwilling to use either trade sanctions to compel more countries (most notably China) to cooperate and the will does not exist to pursue a military option to remove regimes that are pursuing WMD development.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 11 03:12 PM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control
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Canadian Government Weak In Fighting Terrorism

Toronto journalist Stephen Brown says the RCMP and CSIS are at odds with the Liberal Party over how hard to try to root out terrorists.

One American official partially answered the question when he said Canadian anti-terrorism forces working in the trenches don't believe the higher-ups in government take the terrorist threat in Canada serious enough. Chretien proved that himself when, immediately after 9/11, he announced there were no terrorist cells in Canada. Again, a Canadian security agency, this time the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, had to go behind his back to the media to set the record straight. It informed the country 50 different terrorist groups were operating within Canada's borders, a fact it had already imparted several times to the prime minister. A vindictive Chretien responded by slashing CSIS's budget for contradicting and embarrassing him in front of the nation.

The other part to the answer is that the Liberals are Canada's party of multiculturalism. They fear losing the ethnic votes they need to stay in power, if certain groups become too offended by the War on Terror's security measures.

The reluctance to offend specific ethnic and religious groups hobbles the US response to terrorism as well. The Hispanic lobby fights against close tracking and hunting down of illegal aliens because so many Hispanics are illegals. This makes it easier for Islamic terrorists to enter and live in the US. At the same time, attempts to cater to Muslims as a voting bloc lead to both weaker immigration policies and obstacles in the way of FBI attempts to infiltrate mosques and Islamic groups.

As long as some group (whether it be ethnic, national, or religious in identification) is going to demand kid glove treatment once their members come here I see that as an argument to keep them out in the first place.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 11 02:09 PM  Terrorists Western Response
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Description Of Israel West Bank Barrier

More than simply a fence or a wall, the barrier being constructed to keep the Palestinians out of Israel

Every few miles, there will be gates to allow farmers access to their lands. If a farmer like Ramsi couldn't get through his gate and decided to cross illegally, he would face a formidable challenge.

He would have to scale a 6-foot-high pyramid of coiled razor wire; clamber through an 8-foot ditch; cross an army patrol path, then climb a 10-foot-high fence, avoiding its intrusion-detection sensors. Around Qalqilya, concrete walls stand 26-feet high.

Once on the other side, he would land in a sea of sand meant to capture his footprints. Then, the remaining hurdles: a patrol road wide enough for a tank, another sand trap, another razor-wire pyramid, surveillance cameras, and, every few miles, a manned sniper tower.

The construction of this sophisticated deep barrier zone is costing about $4 million per mile. To put that in perspective, to build something this elaborate on the 2,000 mile long US-Mexico border would cost about $8 billion. The money would be paid back many times over just from the reduction in the costs to the public purse for providing medical treatment to illegal aliens at hospital emergency wards.

As for US State Department threats to cut off loans programs to Israel if the barrier construction takes too much land from the Palestinians on their side of the Green line: The Israelis are going to build the whole barrier. What is being bargained about effectively is what amount of aid the US will deny the Israelis if they make the fence take in large numbers of settlements and in the process take more land from the Palestinians. How high a price can the Bush Administration inflict? Can the Bushies convince Sharon to pull the barrier back from some of the settlements it is currently planned to encompass? Or will the US Congress prevent the Bush Administration from playing economic hardball? Or will the Israelis decide the loss of aid is a price worth paying? Don't know the answer to that one kids. But we will find out soon enough if we just stay tuned for another tedious repetitive episode of "As The Middle East Turns".

The Christian Science Monitor article says that by effectively defining the border the barrier "could derail the shaky Israeli-Palestinian peace plan now under discussion." To speak of a peace plan or peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians or between the Israelis and Arabs is Orwellian at this point. Yet diplomats and reporters do it all the time. Go figure.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 11 01:32 PM  MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis
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2003 August 08 Friday
Mickey Kaus Comes Out For Reduction In Immigration

First, Kaus points out that the Republican Party has entirely caved on immigration.

3) Republicans, after a temprorary post-9/11 retreat, are once again proposing measures that would, among other things, retroactively legalize yet another wave of illegal immigrants, providing an obvious incentive for the next wave. ... As 3) suggests, the Republican party, eager to win Hispanic votes, is no longer reliably speaking up for those who are worried about the immigrant influx.

Kaus says that Elton Gallegly could run for governor on a platform to build a wall to cut off illegal immigration from Mexico. Then Kaus seems to come out for a reduction in the current rate of illegal immigration:

[Do you agree with the border control cause?-ed. We have to have some limits 1) to help raise wages of low-skilled U.S. citizens; 2) to help prevent California from becoming a Quebec (with France next door); 3) to support social equality, which seems hard to achieve in an open-borders world of educated, well-paid elites and slums of dirt-poor unskilled laborers.]

I think the anti-immigration forces need to give up on the Republican Party. The Republican politicians are in full pander mode for Hispanic votes and do not care what the majority of the US public thinks about immigration. It is time to start using state-level voter initiatives. State initiatives on building a wall between the US and Mexico could be done for all the border states that have an initiative mechanism in their state constitutions. California and Arizona both have provisions for state-level ballot initiatives. Therefore an intiative to build a wall on the California and Arizona borders with Mexico could be done at the state level. Also, state-level initiatives could be used to legalize and order the use of state and local police to round up illegal aliens.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 08 05:18 PM  Immigration Border Control
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Immigration Expands US Welfare State

The battle over the use of matricula consular cards is a battle over backdoor amnesty of illegal aliens and social welfare state services for illegal aliens.

Once an illegal alien is in possession of a driver's license, the door is open for unobstructed travel and a variety of social services — such as emergency medical care, city services and marriage licenses, none of which require a Social Security card — and other government benefits. Indeed, the possession of a valid driver's license will even make fraudulent voting by illegal aliens much easier.

The Bush administration has also made a significant contribution to the campaign for the acceptance of the matricula. The Treasury Department has recently written regulations allowing banks and other financial institutions to accept the matricula as valid identification.

The costs are mounting.

Los Angeles County is facing the closure of 16 hospitals and health care facilities because of looming insolvency. The problem is not that the facilities are underused. They are used too much, and because health care workers are not instructed -- some would say not permitted -- to inquire as to the immigration status of people seeking care, the facilities are saddled with millions in costs that are not reimbursable under the Medicaid program. Medicaid reimburses medical facilities only for emergency treatment of illegal aliens. Because no inquiry as to immigration status or even residency is ever made, medical services that are not reimbursable under Medicaid are regularly rendered. As a result, Los Angeles County incurred a $360 million healthcare deficit in fiscal 2002 alone.

Hispanics lack medical insurance at two and a half times the rate of whites. Their higher rates of poverty and lower educational attainment make them logical supporters of Robin Hood government. (or see here)

They were twice as likely to call themselves Democrats as Republicans, viewed the Democratic Party more favorably than the Republican Party and, by a margin of 49 percent to 21 percent, said the Democratic Party was more likely to care about the needs of Hispanics.

A majority said they supported a bigger government providing more services, backed affirmative action and questioned whether the war in Iraq was worth the cost.

The country as a whole should look at California if it wants to see the future. Heavy Democratic majorities, expanded state spending for social programs, and higher rates of poverty are in the America's future.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 08 01:28 AM  Immigration Welfare State
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Europe To Become "Massive, Harmonized Welfare State"

William Niskanen, chairman of the Cato Institute, compares the US and proposed Euopean Union constitutions and concludes that the EU constitution will lead to an expanded welfare state.

These claims on the state represent the most important potential tension in the Union. On the one hand, the proposed EU constitution states that the "Free movement of persons, goods, services and capital, and freedom of establishment shall be guaranteed within and by the Union ... [and] any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited."

Fine. On the other hand, any citizen of the Union seems to have a claim on a wide range of social services wherever that person chooses to live. This will lead to either a massive movement of people to states with a higher level of social services or the harmonization of these services among the member states.

This is why the Leftists in Britain have switched sides on the issue of closer British integration with the EU. British Leftists see the EU as a tool with which to further expand the power and size of the welfare state.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 08 12:29 AM  Europe and America
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2003 August 06 Wednesday
Negotiations With North Korea Unlikely To Help

Does it matter whether the US negotiates with North Korea and under what format the negotiations take place? Yes, though the main reason is not because of what the negotiations will or will not produce. For reasons amplified on below it seems unlikely that the US will be able to negotiate a deal with North Korea for a verifiable end to North Korea's nuclear prorgam. But nature of the terms the US agrees to for holding the negotiations sends a signal to North Korea as to whether the US feels it is negotiating with a weak hand. Kevin at Incestuous Amplifications lays out reasons why the chattering classes are making too big a deal over the agreement to hold a meeting to conduct multilateral/bilateral negotiations.

There's going to be an assumption by all parties that the typical belligerent North Korea will come to the table, so any behavior even slightly above that expectation will be seen as "progress" from the other 4 parties at the table and likely lead to consensus for further talks, more delays, and more time for North Korea to travel further down the road of nuclear development.

As an example of how the strategy can work, I would point to the Iraqi behavior in the months leading up to the war. They started becoming more cooperative, more open, offering up documents and revelations that they hadn't for the previous 12 years. Of course it wasn't enough, but it led France, Germany, China, and others to point to that behavior as proof of cooperation. Of course compared to the deception and stonewalling of the past, it seemed like progress, but relative to what was necessary for real progress to be made, it was nothing of the sort.

The bar has been set so low with North Korea, that even small steps get magnified and blown out of proportion. This story is actually a perfect example. The sole fact that North Korea is even willing to sit down at the table is being cited as significant progress.

Some people think the US is basically marching toward inevitable victory over North Korea. See, for instance, Steve Den Beste's analysis. By contrast, and partly in response to Den Beste, Kevin argues a more pessimistic interpretation.

The only problem I have is with Den Beste's conclusion. He believes that North Korea agreeing to the talks themselves is a major diplomatic victory for the Bush administration. I don't. The fact that NK plays hard to get doesn't turn a simple sit-down into a victory. If you're facing a hostage situation and the terrorists refuse to even answer the phone for a week, and during that week they kill a hostage per day, when they finally do pick up on day 8 is that a victory for the cops placing the call? In terms of the overall situation, no. And by all measure, since the last talks in April, North Korea has been killing a hostage per day, or as we like to call it, processing plutonium.

Getting them to sit down at the table is not a victory. We've had far too many sitdowns and far too many failures to consider it such, and I believe these talks are doomed to failure from the start anyway. The only relevance of the North Korean concession on the talks is that it will allow them to fail more quickly, allow that failure to be seen by our allies, and allow us to strengthen our position for further economic pressure.

Kevin makes a great point about how a failure of the talks will help build support among our allies for a greater reduction of trade with and aid to North Korea. That is important.

Most of the debate about whether either the multilateral portion or US-North Korea bilateral portion of the talks will be most important is based on an assumption that I think is fallacious: that the talks will be important as negotiations with North Korea. North Korea is playing for time while it develops nukes. It is determined to make nukes unless stopped by either China with a total aide cut-off or by the US with an invasion. The negotiations that matter the most are the negotiations between China and the United States because such negotiations might cause a change in China's approach toward North Korea. After that, the negotiations between the US and its allies matter mostly for the reason Kevin cited: to build up support for more informal sanctions and aid reduction. An expansion of the informal sanctions will cost North Korea. Though it is far from obvious that such sanctions can tip the North Korean regime into collapse or into agreeing to verifiable nuclear disarmament

The main purpose for the US to agree to hold talks with North Korea is to have talks that are multilateral in order to try to get the interests of other parties such as Japan and South Korea granted more legitimacy among the international talking heads. It is valuable for the Bush Administration is to shift the terms of the debate over North Korea's nuclear weapons program so that the conflict is not portrayed as simply a spat between the United States and North Korea. This makes it easier for the US to ask other parties to end trade with North Korea and to cut off aid. That the Chinese were willing to pressure the North Koreans to meet in the multilateral setting in exchange for a bilateral session as well represents a small victory for the Bushies. It might signal a willingness of the Chinese to apply more pressure on North Korea going forward. But even if it doesn't (and it seems presumptuous to assume that it does) at least it helps the Bushies show that the US is not the only country with a strong interest in stopping North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The big question to ask about North Korea is this: Why is the North Korean government developing nuclear weapons? Let us look at potential factors in the thinking about nuclear weapons development in the minds of the elite of the Pyongyang regime in North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-il.

  • The Pyongyang regime may simply be trying to extort larger dollops of aid from the US and other countries in exchange for stopping its nuclear weapons program.
  • The problem with the previous point is that the Pyongyang regime may instead want to become a nuclear power in order to be in a stronger position to extort even greater amounts of aid once it becomes recognized as a nuclear power. Their involvement in negotiations may just be a move to buy time and placate China.
  • The possession of functioning nuclear weapons and technology for making nukes may be seen by the Pyongyang regime as useful for increasing revenue from weapons sales. How much do they think they can sell individual nuclear weapons for?
  • The Pyongyang regime may want a credible deterrent to prevent a US-South Korean land attack. This seems hard to credit given that they already have the ability to kill hundreds of thousands and perhaps even millions of South Koreans in event of a war. Also, the North Koreans have pursued nuclear weapons development for many years even while the US was in a very accommodating posture toward North Korea. But if they are already determined to get that deterrent why should they change their minds at a negotiation session?
  • The Pyongyang regime may believe they can survive reductions of other forms of aid as long as the Chinese continue to supply aid and they may believe that the Chinese will continue to supply aid. Therefore they may believe that they have sufficient economic resources to keep their regime in power and to follow thru on their nuclear weapons development efforts.
  • The Pyongyang regime may believe that they have enough of their nuclear weapons program spread out to sites that the US does not know about that they can weather an air strike against their nuclear weapons development sites and still be able to continue to make progress toward building a substantial number of nuclear weapons.

Some commentators believe (against considerable evidence to the contrary in my view) that North Korea's nuclear weapons development program is just a bargaining chip to give up in order to get more aid. In this view, the increase in the level of aid that North Korea was getting from the US, South Korea, and other countries in the late 1990s was not enough for the regime and the regime decided to make a bid for a big increase in aid. If this assumption is incorrect then the negotiations can not result in a deal to stop the North Korean program in exchange for large bribes labelled as aid.

People who cheer negotiations, whether bilateral or multilateral, do so based on the assumption that negotiations can cause a substantial change in the positions of the participants. What reason is there for such optimism when applied to North Korea?

In some respects the US negotiating position is weakening. Memories of September 11, 2001 are fading and being replaced by daily reports of problems in Iraq. The fading of those memories also decreases a recently strong American public desire to see the world changed to make it less of a threat to the United States. The war against terrorism has provided a sense of urgency that has given the Bush Administration the support it needed to attack Iraq. Yet that sense of urgency is fading and is being replaced a more partisan national debate in the run-up to the 2004 election in which the reasons for the war in Iraq and the aftermath play a large role. The level of objection raised about Iraq does not bode well for the ability of the Bush Administration to make credible threats to North Korea or Iran let alone to launch an attack on either. Iraq was far easier to invade than Iran would be and Iran would be far easier to invade than North Korea. Even worse, about half of all US deployable combat divisions are already deployed in Iraq. Even if a moderate amount of political will existed to do a military build-up near North Korea the US would lack the ground troops needed to do so.

As the British military news publication Jane's points out in "On imperial overstretch: can the USA afford to send its troops here, there and everywhere?" US ground troops are already overcommitted.

Twenty-one of the US Army's 33 regular combat brigades are already on active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea and the Balkans, amounting to roughly 250,000 fighting men and women. And this does not include a substantial number of US troops regularly stationed in Germany, Britain, Italy and Japan, or smaller contingents now scattered around the world. A traditional calculation assumes that for every soldier deployed on an active mission, two more are required to be kept in reserve, either in order to rotate those in action or to prepare for that rotation. Under this assumption, the USA has already reached its limit today. But, to the frustration of the Pentagon, neither US diplomatic priorities nor the sheer pace of international developments appears to take this into account.

The constraints of a small military weaken US bargaining power with both China and North Korea. Absent a credible US military threat to North Korea and as long as the Chinese are willing to keep the regime supplied with food and fuel why should the North Koreans stop developing nuclear weapons? They may believe they can get more aid by extortion if they make a lot of nuclear weapons and then demand the aid. A few percent of South Korea's economy shipped north per year under a nuclear threat may be an appealing prospect to the North Koreans.

Since the prospects of the US being able to directly bring enough pressure to bear on North Korea are by no means certain we need to look next at China's role. There are a number of possible reasons why the Chinese could decide to cut off aid to North Korea and basically discipline or even overthrow their client:

  • The Chinese leaders could fear that a nuclear North Korea could cause South Korea and Japan to go nuclear.
  • The Chinese leaders could fear that Taiwan might respond to nuclear proliferation in the region to justify their own nuclearization. This probably matters much more to the Chinese leadership than what South Korea or Japan might do since the Chinese want to get total control of Taiwan.
  • The Chinese might want to keep North Korea from getting nuclear weapons simply in order to keep North Korea more easily manipulable by China.
  • The Chinese leaders might decide that if North Korea makes nuclear weapons, sells them abroad, and then some are used that China may be held at least partially responsible. Then again, they might not be too worried about that. It would be valuable to the US to signal publically to the Chinese that the US would hold China responsible if that happened.
  • The Chinese might decide that if they do not stop North Korea's nuclear weapons program then the US will do so with military force and will do so in a way less favorable to long term Chinese interests. But the Chinese have to believe that the threat of US use of force is credible for them to come to that conclusion.

But keep one thing in mind: China has not yet halted aid shipments to North Korea. China's aid is essential for the Pyongyang regime and China also facilitates North Korea's arms trade with overflight rights. If the Chinese saw North Korea's nuclear weapons development program as an urgent high priority problem they would have played the aid card already. Yes, they did cut off an oil pipeline for a few days. But they resumed it and we have no idea what that was about. It could have been a spat over something unrelated to North Korea's nuclear weapons development program. China might decide to stop North Korea's nuclear weapons development program. Or it might just continue along on the current path and do nothing about it except host diplomatic negotiations between North Korea, the United States, and other interested countries.

Until either the US commits to a major arms build-up in preparation for an attack on North Korea or China becomes willing to play the aid card against North Korea my guess is that North Korea's nuclear weapons development program will continue. Therefore the net position of the US in its attempt to stop North Korea will continue to deteriorate.

There is one big wild card in all this: events. A big terrorist attack in the US would reawaken American public anger at terrorists and shift attention toward future threats. A successful attack by Al Qaeda would have the curious effect of giving the Bush Administration more leverage over both China and North Korea because the American public would be angry and in the mood for hardball confrontations.

I try to avoid triumphalist conclusions in my analyses. The world's biggest problems look to me to be hard to solve and, in some cases, unlikely to be solved until some terrible events transpire (e.g. in this case explosion of a terrorist nuclear bomb in a US or other Western city). This coming round of negotiations with North Korea strikes me as nothing to cheer about. The US is now going to sit down at a table with North Korea and 4 other countries. This changes no facts on the ground in North Korea. If I was placing a bet I'd still bet on North Korea's eventually exploding a nuclear bomb and making a bunch of them. My odds for Iran doing the same are lower but still more likely than not.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 06 02:55 PM  Korea
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2003 August 05 Tuesday
Students From China Caught Stealing Military Technology

Another valuable piece of military technology falls into Chinese hands.

Two Chinese students studying in the United States supplied China's military with American defense technology that allowed Beijing to produce a special metal used in sensors and weapons, according to a Pentagon report.

"This is a classic example of how the Chinese collect dual-use military technology," an FBI official said. "Students come here; they get jobs; they form companies."

The quote from the FBI official sounds a bit misleading. The text of the article gives the impression that the student studying at Iowa State University stole the data from a computer on campus that was in a laboratory run by the US Department of Energy.

While only a small portion of the 50,000 students from China studying in the US are spies that small number can cause enormous damage to US national security. Is it wise to let students from China to study in the US? Should there at least be restrictions on which majors they can study or which univerisities they can attend?

By Randall Parker 2003 August 05 02:51 PM  Politics Grand Strategy
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Iraq Oil Production Rising

Pre-war production was 2.5-3.0 million per day.

He now has to rely on the estimate of Philip J. Carroll, America's adviser to the Iraqi oil ministry, who guesses--hopes--that the Iraqis can export enough oil during the balance of this year to cover salaries, pensions, and other everyday costs associated with reconstituting the Iraqi bureaucracy.

But even if Carroll's goal is met, Iraqi production will not generate sufficient funds to cover the cost of reconstructing the country's infrastructure.

Iraqi production is now over 1 million barrels per day and rising.

"Crude oil production is rising very fast now. We are up to well over a million barrels a day," a coalition spokesman told reporters here. "Yesterday's production was significantly above that figure," he added. His remarks echoed comments by a senior Pentagon official who testified Tuesday before a Senate panel, reported Platts.

In my opinion the US government should have made much more preparations in advance of the war to rapidly increase Iraqi oil field production once the war was completed.

The rate at which Iraqi oil production rises matters for several reasons:

  • Many costs now being paid by US taxpayers could be paid by oil production when Iraq produces more oil.
  • A rapid rise in oil production will fund a more rapid reconstruction and reduce the level of dissatisfaction of Iraqis and hence reduce support for Baathists and other fighters who attack US forces.
  • Higher Iraqi oil production will reduce world oil prices. This will save the US money in import costs and also make the US and larger world economy grow faster.
  • The US will have more leverage over Saudi Arabia to get the Saudis to crack down on terrorists and to be less supportive of Wahhabi Islamic ideology.
  • Lower world oil prices will reduce the amount of money the Saudis have to spread Wahhabism.

Therefore the US can gain both security and economic benefits from high levels of Iraqi oil production.

For greater longer term security the US ought to pursue a very ambitious research and development effort to develop forms of energy that can gradually replace fossil fuels as energy sources.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 05 02:27 PM  Mideast Iraq Economics
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One Reason Why Some Big Corporations Lobby For Welfare State

Some extensions of the welfare state are supported by big business lobbyists because government spending on old folks saves many corporations money.

But these days self-interest trumps ideology. Many large employers would love to dump the burden of buying drugs for their retirees onto the federal government. (A study by the Congressional Budget Office determined that about one-third of Medicare recipients who now receive drug benefits from former employers would lose them if the plan were to pass.)

The article reports that GM and Ford would respectively save $150 million and $50 million per year if the Medicare drug benefit is enacted.

Companies in old industries that go bankrupt also pass pension benefit liabilities onto the taxpayers.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 05 01:47 PM  Socialism, Capitalism
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Anthony Browne On The Immigration Debate In Britain

The immigration debate is growing more intense in Britain.

Labour, in its self-righteous arrogance, performed this remarkable U-turn confident that no one would break the taboo. When I started writing in the Times about the economic and demographic consequences of mass immigration, Blunkett denounced me by name in Parliament as ‘bordering on fascism’. I was contacted by Sir Andrew Green, the former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, who had just set up a lobby-group, Migration Watch UK, to curb immigration, and wrote a profile of his new group. Ever since, Blunkett has been denouncing it as ‘right-wing’ and ‘tin-pot’, despite the fact that its advisory council consists of former ambassadors, former heads of the government’s immigration service, several professors, a Sri Lankan law lecturer and a Sudanese businessman.

The trouble for the government is that while promoting mass immigration might make people feel cosmopolitan and modern, and calling critics racist may make people feel virtuous, few of the consequences of mass immigration have been thought through. The long immigration silence has meant that all negative consequences of migration have been suppressed, and only the positive aspects talked about. If you blind yourself to all negative consequences of a complex policy, you are bound to conclude that it is a thoroughly good thing and want as much of it as possible. Civil servants sat with ministers discussing all the good things about immigration without anyone daring to think any of the bad things, and they concluded that the borders should be pushed wide open.

Britain's debate on immigration is similar to the debate in the US in some respects. Opponents of high rates of immigration are labelled racist, extreme, heartless, and so on. Negative consequences are denied or minimized. The government institutes policies that lead to increased levels of immigration while most of the populace are unenthusiastic or opposed.

Browne discusses a number of fallacies and negative consequences of large scale immigration.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 05 11:47 AM  Immigration Border Control
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2003 August 04 Monday
China Feels Forced To Apply Pressure To North Korea

North Korea has agreed to multilateral talks.

SEOUL, South Korea –– North Korea said Friday that it has agreed to multilateral talks on its suspected development of nuclear weapons but will push for one-on-one talks with the United States during the proposed negotiations.

Stephen Blank says China is leaning on North Korea.

On repeated occasions Chinese spokesmen have publicly and clearly warned their US interlocutors that under no circumstances would the United States be allowed unilaterally to decide the fate of the Korean Peninsula. China will not be passive or quiet and thus will act, quite strongly if necessary, to safeguard its interests and equities in Korea. That warning could easily signify a willingness to use force either against the Americans or, as some China specialists have warned, against North Korea's territory to prevent Washington from fashioning a unilateral solution that would place its troops on or close to China's border. Since this war could easily become a nuclear one and the Korean War itself was a sufficiently horrible experience for all concerned, these are hardly easily acceptable options. Yet if North Korea is metaphorically tied to China, its decision to go over the cliff inevitably drags China along with it, something Beijing is naturally reluctant to accept. Therefore Beijing is exerting every effort to persuade Pyongyang to enter into genuine negotiations with Washington before its nuclearization becomes an issue to be settled exclusively by the deployment of troops.

But as CNN Senior China Analyst Willy Wo-Lap Lam points out, China has maintained all along that it could not pressure North Korea as long as the US was improving its military capability in the neighborhood.

A commentary in the official China News Service on Tuesday said Washington's recent deployment of high-tech, rapid-response units in South Korea was an effort to "put more military pressure on North Korea." The Chinese leadership has all along indicated it can only exert pressure on North Korea if the U.S. were to de-escalate military preparations against the Kim regime.

The Chinese were posturing. The determination of the Bush Administration to maintain a hardline stance against North Korea - the very position that the Chinese maintained was counterproductive - forced the Chinese to decide they had to start leaning on North Korea. The US and its allies can not put enough pressure on North Korea to force the Pyongyang regime to cry uncle as long as China continues to support North Korea. The game is really between the US and China. Can the Bush Administration convince the Chinese that the US will take really radical steps if the Chinese do not intervene? That is what this game is about at this point.

Update: In my view, the only effective way to pressure the Chinese to cut off aid to North Korea would be to make full scale preparations for war against North Korea. A big air power build-up, carrier deployments, and deployments of Army and Marine divisions would make it clear to the Chinese that either they deal with the problem or we deal with the problem.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 04 12:15 AM  Korea
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United States To Take In Large Numbers Of North Koreans

The US government is going to try to organize methods to get North Koreans out of China to the United States. US Senator Sam Brownback says South Korean can't do it.

"There is an exodus of massive proportions taking place out of North Korea," said Senator Brownback, who put the figure at about 300,000 people.

"South Korea really cannot be expected to take all of these refugees fleeing [via] China."

Is Brownback serious? South Korea has a population of over 48 million. If all 300,000 North Koreans who might now be living in China could be gotten out of China that would amount to less than 1 percent of the current population of South Korea. South Korea would easily handle this. The problem here is that the South Korean government and probably most South Korean people don't want to deal with the North Korean refugees. This is an issue that some gutsy American politicians ought to take up with some really loud and repeated complaints about South Korea's lack of compassion for their fellow ethnic Koreans living in China under difficult conditions.

Aside: If Marmot Robert Koehler and Kevin of Incestuous Amplification know of any polls done on South Koreans about North Korean refugees I'd be very curious to hear what the polls show.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 04 12:09 AM  Korea
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2003 August 02 Saturday
Foreign Workers Increasingly Brought In To Replace American Workers

The Mercedes plant in Vance Alabama is using imported Polish workers working on B1 visas as a cheaper source of labor to install painting equipment.

Eisenmann has done work for Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp., but used local labor. The difference this time: The company says new technology requires specialized workers from Transsystem and Gregorec, which helped develop the process for assembling the paint system.

The Polish men themselves and union leaders like Donaldson and Karczynski, who have seen their work, say it is not specialized and could be done by Americans.

"I paint, I cut," a Polish worker said. "I do everything an assembler has to do."

An industry insider also said installing paint shops is not complicated.

The employers of Nantucket Massachusetts use H2B visas to bring workers up from the Caribbean to do work that formerly provided jobs for college students.

The face of Nantucket's summer workforce gradually shifted starting in the late 1980s. No more do Ivy League college students bus tables or check in guests at the downtown inns. Middle-aged immigrants, imported from Jamaica and El Salvador, have stepped into those jobs - their complexions highlighting the disparity between the island's haves and have-nots.

The employers offer the standard argument that American workers just don't have the work ethic and how the foreigners work harder. But it is all about cost. Foreign workers from poor countries will work for less. There are now also 200 year-around workers in Nantucket from El Salvador.

L1 visas are also being used to replace American workers with cheaper foreign workers.

Whereas H1-B visas allow US companies to hire foreign workers specifically for job openings, L-1 visas are meant for intra-company transfers and are valid for a maximum of seven years.

Although there are legitimate reasons behind a company transferring a foreign employee to the US, critics say the programme is being abused as a cheap way to replace American workers.

A company sets up shop in the US and in another country such as India, hires a bunch of programmers in India, and then ships them to the US on H1B visas. Then it contracts out the programmers to US companies at lower hourly rates than American citizens can earn.

Being born an American citizen to American citizen parents means less and less.

Update: US House Representative Tom Tancredo (R CO) says the US has a cheap labor policy.

Insight: The U.S. economy is in a slump and Americans by the millions are out of work, yet the wholesale replacement of our workers by immigrants is under way. What gives?

Rep. Thomas Tancredo: We have a cheap-labor policy. This government has determined that part of its economic policy is to undermine the value of American jobs. We have record-high unemployment rates. We have a stagnating economy. Yet this administration refuses to take any action to reduce the number of immigrants who are coming into the country [illegally], removing Americans from their jobs and replacing them with cheap labor.

Perhaps it should be codified. Any area of the country that has its poverty level drop below some legislated level should have its employers become eligible for a large allotment of low skilled immigrant worker permits. The number of permits should be increased until the poverty rate is raised up at least to the legislated level.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 02 02:48 PM  Immigration Border Control
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India Extending Its Fence On Border With Pakistan

Rama Lakshmi reports for the Washington Post on India's extension of its fence to keep Pakistani Islamic guerillas out of Jammu and Kashmir.

Construction of the fences began in the late 1980s in the state of Punjab, when India faced an armed Sikh separatist uprising and weapons were being smuggled from Pakistan. The fences now cover almost half the border, at a cost so far of $300 million. India is pushing ahead with work in Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, to stop Islamic guerrillas from entering from Pakistan. India accuses Pakistan of training and arming militants who are fighting to end India's rule in Kashmir. The two nations have fought two of their three wars over the region.

Lakshmi says the fence illustrates "the deep suspicion, hostility and paranoia that have bedeviled relations between the nuclear neighbors for more than half a century". What is it with reporters who write like this? The fence is being built because it will reduce the number of people who get killed by Islamic fighters who come across the Line Of Control from Pakistan to India. The fence "illustrates" the desire of the Indian government to reduce the number of people who live in fear and get wounded and killed.

Is the main problem between India and Pakistan "deep suspicion, hostility and paranoia"? Or is the main problem quite simply that Pakistan's leaders and people have convinced themselves (as Muslims have done in many other regions of the world) that the only natural order of things is for Muslims to rule Muslms and Muslims to rule non-Muslims and that it is never right for non-Muslims to rule Muslims?

A Pakistani general is quoted in the article claiming that since the Jammu and Kashmir border is not officially settled India's construction of a fence thru it is an attempt to alter the status of the disputed region and therefore is a violate international commitments. But isn't Pakistani support for fighters who kill people in the disputed region and in the rest of India an attempt to alter the status of the area and therefore doesn't it also constitute a violation of international commitments? I'm skeptical of lofty-sounding legal rhetoric trotted out to justify a position in a conflict between nations.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 02 01:16 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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Most Zimbabwean Women Think Wife Beating Is Justified

People in different cultures have different values.

More than 50 percent of women in Zimbabwe believe domestic violence is justifiable in certain situations, according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. When presented with five situations -- arguing with her spouse, neglecting the children, refusing to have sex, burning food or leaving the home without telling her husband -- the study participants agreed that a husband is justified beating his wife. The study, "Understanding women's attitudes towards wife beating in Zimbabwe," appears in the July 2003, issue of Bulletin, the newsletter of the World Health Organization.

Michelle J. Hindin, PhD, author of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Population and Family Health Sciences at the School of Public Health, said, "While further research is needed to explicitly make the link between women's attitudes towards wife beating and their experiences of abuse, women's attitudes serve as a marker for social acceptability and reflect pervasive gender norms and the unequal status of women in Zimbabwean society."

Women aged 15-24 were over two and half times more likely to believe that wife beating was justified when compared to women aged 45-49. Although fewer older women said they found violence against women acceptable, over 50 percent of the women in this age group justified beatings. The researchers said that the results are evidence that wife beating is standard behavior in Zimbabwean society.

Younger women living in rural areas, with low household wealth, less than a secondary education and lower occupational status more frequently justified violence at the hands of their spouse. Women who share the responsibility of making household decisions with their husbands, live in an urban environment, came from wealthy households or had secondary education or higher were less likely to rationalize wife beating. In addition, women who share the same level of education with their spouses were less likely to justify violence.

Large influxes of people from one culture into another culture will change the average values held in the receiving culture. Cultural differences do matter.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 02 10:28 AM  Human Nature
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2003 August 01 Friday
James Woods On Playing Golf, Politics, George Bush, Northfork

James Wood, talking to Salon.com's Amy Reiter about his new film Northfork, offers a number of political opinions including the fact that hugs and love can't melt the hearts of evil people.

And you're pretty happy with the kind of decisions Bush's been making so far? You're unfazed by recent controversies, like the ...

Uranium in Africa?


It's like playing golf. Even Tiger Woods gets a triple bogey but still goes on to win the U.S. Open. Clearly, everyone's going to have their moments, but by and large do I think -- to me the more relevant question -- and you probably won't print this -- but the more relevant question is when millions of people are suffering and millions are being murdered, do we as a nation have a moral obligation?

A lot of my friends in Hollywood have actually said things like "Let's melt their hearts with hugs and love." It honestly doesn't work. So I respect people's sweetness for believing that you can melt the heart of Osama bin Laden with a hug, but you can't. The only solution to Osama bin Laden is a fucking 88-millimeter shell through his forehead.

The whole interview is pretty interesting.

By Randall Parker 2003 August 01 11:02 AM  Cultural Wars Western
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