2003 November 30 Sunday
Child Abuse Dropped In US After 1996 Welfare Reform

Contrary to various liberal predictions to the contrary welfare reform did not cause an increase in child abuse.

PHILADELPHIA -- Despite predictions to the contrary, the incidence of child abuse did not rise with the implementation of welfare reform.

After analyzing data from a number of national sources on child abuse and neglect, Richard J. Gelles, dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania, concluded that, not only did maltreatment of children in the United States not increase after the 1996 passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, the opposite happened.

"All the doomsday scenarios predicting that families, and especially children, would be direct victims of this legislation just didn't happen," Gelles said.

Among the data sources Gelles used in his research were the National Incidence Survey of Reported and Recognized Child Maltreatment, the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, Prevent Child Abuse America Reports from the States and the State Automated Child Welfare Information System.

The rate of confirmed child maltreatment, according to the NCANDS data, increased from 1990 to 1993, decreased slightly between 1993 and 1996 and then declined steeply between 1996 and 1999 before increasing again in 2000. Reports of child abuse and neglect have stabilized at about 3 million children per year.

Could it be that forcing people to take responsibility for earning a living caused them to become more responsible toward their children as well?

By Randall Parker 2003 November 30 02:58 PM  Human Nature
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
2003 November 28 Friday
Revel On European Resentment Of America

Frenchman Jean-Francois Revel has written another essay on European anti-Americanism.

The real cause of September 11 unquestionably lies in the resentment against the United States, which grew apace after the collapse of the USSR, and America's emergence as the "sole global superpower." This resentment is particularly marked in the Islamic lands, where the existence of Israel, which is blamed on America, is an important motivator. But the resentment is also more quietly present over the entire planet. In some European capitals, the sense of grievance has been raised to the status of an idée fixe, virtually the guiding principle of foreign policy. Thus the U.S. is charged with all the evils, real or imagined, that afflict humanity, from the falling price of beef in France to AIDS in Africa and global warming everywhere. The result is a widespread refusal to accept responsibility for one's own actions.

As for the American "hyperpower" that causes Europeans so many sleepless nights, they should look to their own history and ask how far they themselves are responsible for that predominance. For it was they who made the twentieth century into the grimmest in history. It was they who brought about the two apocalypses of the World Wars and invented the two most absurd and criminal political regimes ever inflicted on the human race. If Western Europe in 1945 and Eastern Europe in 1990 were ruined, whose fault was it? American "unilateralism" is the consequence--not the cause--of the diminished power of the other nations. Yet it has become habitual to turn the situation around and constantly indict the United States. Is it surprising when such an atmosphere of accumulated hate ends in pushing fanatics to compensate for their failures by engaging in carnage?

By putting so much energy into their resentment of America many Europeans are missing the real threat:

In the two months after 9/11, the phobias and fallacies of traditional anti-Americanism massively intensified. The clumsiest of them was an attempt to justify Islamist terrorism by claiming that America has long been hostile to Islam. The United States' actions historically have been far less damaging to Muslims than those of Britain, France, or Russia. These European powers have conquered Muslim countries, occupied and indeed oppressed them over decades and even centuries. Americans have never colonized a Muslim nation. Americans evince no hostility toward Islam as such today; on the contrary, their interventions in Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo, as well as the pressure exerted on the Macedonian government, were designed to defend Muslim minorities. And the U.S.-led coalition that removed the Iraqi army from Kuwait during the first Gulf War acted to defend a small Muslim country against a secular dictator who had used chemical weapons against Muslim Shiites in the south and Muslim Kurds in the north.

Another myth strenuously maintained since 9/11 is that of a moderate and tolerant Islam. The dominant idea in the Muslims' worldview, in truth, is that all humanity must obey the rules of their religion, whereas they owe no respect to the religions of others. Indeed, showing such respect would make them apostates meriting instant execution. Anxious to show tolerance, the Pope encouraged the erection of a mosque in Rome, the city where Saint Peter is buried. No Christian church could be built in Mecca, or anywhere in Saudi Arabia, for that would profane the land of Mohammed. There is no ambiguity about al-Qaeda-style intentions: It is quite simply to convert the whole of humanity to Islam by force. Murder and mayhem is justified in the eyes of the terrorists because it strikes at the infidels who refuse to embrace Islam. We deceive ourselves if we think we can negotiate with the al-Qaeda fanatics and their ilk.

The day after 9/11, Le Parisien-Aujourd'hui published an account of the jubilant atmosphere the previous evening in the eighteenth arrondissement of Paris, home to a large Muslim community. "Bin Laden will nail all of you!" was among the more moderate remarks hurled at passersby who didn't appear to be North African. Or: "I'm going to celebrate big time tonight! Those guys were real heroes. That'll teach those American bastards--and all you French are next!" Snippets of this sort were ignored by almost all media.

Revel correctly points out that the irrationality of so much of European criticism of America causes Americans to ignore European criticism even when Europeans are making valid points. The effect of the resentment then is to decrease European influence in America and effectively to cause American policy to be more unilateralist than it otherwise would be.

See previous posts about Revel: Jean Francois Revel On Anti-Americanism and John Vinocur: Why France disdains America. See also his book now translated into English: Anti-Americanism.

Also see my previous post On Globalization And The Psychological Visibility Of America.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 28 12:10 AM  Europe and America
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 November 26 Wednesday
Medicare Drug Benefit: A Strange Sort Of Republican Victory

Tony Blankley sees passage of the Republican version of the Medicare drug entitlement bill as a sign that the center of power in Washington DC is shifting toward the Republican Party.

The passage of the Republican Party's Medicare/Prescription drug bill -- and its support by the AARP -- is by far the most convincing evidence to date that the political center of gravity in Washington is shifting definitively to the GOP for the first time since the pre-FDR era. While the mood of the country as a whole has shifted back and forth between Republican and Democratic over the decades, the effective exercise of power (particularly domestic policy power) in Washington has been tenaciously held on to by the Democrats since they acquired it in the early 1930s.

It is a strange sort of victory when the Republican Party, supposedly the party of limited government, ushers in the largest increase in entitlements program growth in decades. Blankley seems to think that implementation of entitlements expansions in ways architected by Republican legislators are victories Republican voters should celebrate. But why do most Republicans vote for the Republican Party in the first place? To get a welfare state that expands less rapidly than it would if the Democrats were in control? Perhaps that is the best we can realistically hope for. But if that is the best we can hope for then it strikes me as a reason to feel truly defeated rather than a reason to celebrate.

Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute points out that the Medicare bill increases the unfunded liability of Medicare by trillions.

The measure being pushed by the White House and congressional leadership expands the sense of entitlement among the elderly, further mortgages the future of young workers, and, if approved, will cost far, far more than the $395 billion estimated by the Congressional Budget Office.

Any legislator who takes fiscal responsibility seriously should be particularly concerned about the latter. Pegged at a ten-year cost of $395 billion, the real increase in the government's presently unfunded liability will be several trillion dollars: Estimates ranged from $6 trillion for the House bill to $12 trillion for the Senate measure, with the compromise likely falling somewhere in between. The latter number is 40 percent of Medicare's current projected future red ink.

The history of cost estimates for new entitlements programs has consistently been one where the real costs end up being multiples of the estimates.

David Gratzer of the Manhattan Institute says the Medicare drug benefit may lead to government drug price controls.

The costs associated with Medicare will grow dramatically over the coming decades as our population ages. The White House Office of Management and Budget estimates the unfunded liability of the program at $13 trillion over the next 75 years. Far from helping this unsustainable situation, a prescription drug benefit will increase this liability by more than 50 percent.

Second, this bill makes the federal government the largest funder of prescription drug purchases in the world. Medicare already has price controls for physician fees and hospital reimbursements; will it be long before Washington wants a better deal on pharmaceuticals?

Drug price controls would be more damaging for health in the long run than just about anything else that the government might do to the medical and healthcare sector of the economy. A Reduction in the profitability of new drug development will inevitably cause the drug companies to respond by developing fewer drugs.

Just what exactly is a victory depends on how one defines victory. Triumphalism by Panglossian partisans has become unhealthily common on the Right when many policies pursued by the Bush Administration are defended or when discussing larger trends in the media and culture. Providing some needed balance to this triumphalism Jonah Goldberg challenges the assertion that the Right is winning the Culture Wars in America.

But, in all of this euphoria some folks seem to be losing sight of something fairly obvious. Conservatives are still astoundingly outgunned and out manned. It's bully for us that the Right is having so much success with the tools at our disposal — cable TV, AM radio, websites, blogs, mime — but the tools at our disposal are still far, far less potent than the tools in the Left's utility belt.

Think about it: If we'd really won a culture war — with all of the aggrandizement of territory implied by such a term — wouldn't our troops be raising our flags in a few more enemy forts? Sure, we've mounted a few heads on a few pikes. But Phil Donahue did most of his damage 20 years ago. By the time he suited up for MSNBC, he was less a formidable culture warrior and more like one of those WWI veterans who sits outside the VFW talking about putting the kibosh on the Kaiser. And, sure, David Brooks now writes for the New York Times, and hooray for that. But he's still the "house goy" over there, ideologically speaking. Meanwhile, I don't see Harvard, Yale, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Hollywood, the Episcopal Church, or the Courts, getting demonstrably more conservative.

There are splits on the right between, for instance, cultural conservatives and libertarians. But on many issues where some factions on the Right agree those factions are losing. The government looks set to grow larger as the population ages and entitlements spending skyrockets. Also, on the culture front there are no clear victories. It is obvious, to take just one obvious example, that the standards for what can be put on TV get looser each year.

The economic libertarians have few victories to point to. A favorite policy of the economic libertarians and some "compassionate" conservatives and economic conservatives is educational vouchers. But the privatization of education is pretty much stalled as upper middle class people in higher income neighborhoods with schools that have high scholastic rankings (said rankings being due in no small part to the fact that the kids of upper class people are smarter on average) want no part of any kind of voucher system that would bring in kids from other school districts who would worsen the learning environment of their schools.

Goldberg's essay is in response to Brian C. Anderson's City Journal article We’re Not Losing the Culture Wars Anymore which I've previously posted on: Brian C. Anderson On The End Of The Liberal Media Monopoly. I certainly think more channels of information are becoming available and that these additional channels are allowing a larger variety of opinions to be heard. Yet Goldberg is correct in arguing that the Left still dominates in the media formats that most people still use to get their news and opinion. The most prestigious educational and media institutions are still firmly dominated by the Left.

This domination by the Left of key institutions is not the only reason the Right's prospects are not rosy. As I've previously argued in Will Republicans Follow Tories Into Marginal Status? the biggest factor running against the Republicans in the future is that demographic trends promise to make the Republicans the permanent minority party. The evidence from voting trends is extremely discouraging for the Republicans.

Steve Sailer reports that the Bush Administration's attempts to win over more non-whites to vote Republican have totally failed.

Although the White House's campaign guru Karl Rove had been talking up the GOP's outreach efforts to minorities, his party's share of the non-white vote dropped from 25 percent in 2000 to 23 percent. That mattered little, however, because its share of the white-vote segment grew from 55 percent to 59 percent. Further benefiting the Republicans, the white portion of the electorate increased from 81 percent to 82 percent, even though the total population is becoming less white each year.

Even the Asian voters are moving further away from the Republican Party

Asians continued to move to the left, with the Republican share falling from 40 percent to 34 percent.

So there is not even a non-white immigrant group that is going to support the Republican Party at the polls. Immigration is eventually going to be the death of the Republican Party.

As the white percentage of the population of the United States falls and the population ages and a larger portion of the population becomes eligible for entitlements programs the Republican Party will have to become the Rino (Republican In Name Only) Party in order to keep winning elections. This really will defeat the purpose of having the Republican Party in the first place.

Here are the latter four parts of Steve Sailer's five part UPI analysis of voting patterns in the 2002 election are part 2 entitled Analysis: GOP's Protestant appeal, part 3 entitled Analysis: The voting gender gap narrows, part 4 entitled Analysis: Young voters less conservative, and part 5 entitled Analysis: Demographic trends against GOP.

The Republican Party triumphed in the 2002 midterm elections in part because the GOP's kind of voters -- married, middle-aged, affluent, and white -- showed up at the polls in relatively large numbers. In contrast, in the 2004 elections, the normal demographic cycle is likely to be running in the Democrats' direction

By Randall Parker 2003 November 26 06:24 PM  Politics American Domestic
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
2003 November 25 Tuesday
38 Percent Of Ph.D. Scientists In United States Are Foreign-Born

A substantial portion of the brightest scientific and technical talent in America come from abroad.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Science Board (NSB) today released a report on the U.S. science and engineering (S&E) workforce following a three-year study, saying that new figures on the proportion of foreign-born workers in science and technology occupations make it crucial for the government to "act now" to meet future needs in science, engineering and technology fields.

NSB members briefing media at the National Press Club said that a sampling from 2000 census figures indicates a larger than previously known percentage of degree-holding, foreign-born professionals working in the United States in science and engineering occupations. The NSB presenters also revealed a downturn in the number of H1-B visas issued to foreign-born workers in science and technology.

According to the National Science Foundation's (NSF) figures derived from the 1990 census estimates of foreign-born workers in 1999 holding bachelor's degrees represented 11 percent of the total population in S&E-classified occupations. Foreign-born individuals with master's degrees held 19 percent of the S&E occupations held by master's recipients overall. Foreign-born Ph.D.s represented 29 percent of those positions.

The 2000 census figures, however, allowed for the first time a sampling that takes into account foreign workers holding degrees obtained in countries outside the United States. When factored in, the estimated proportions of foreign-born workers in S&E occupations in 1999 rose between six and 10 percent per category. Foreign-born workers with bachelor's degrees actually represented 17 percent of the total in S&E positions held by people with bachelor's degrees. The foreign-born proportion went up to 29 percent among those with master's degrees, and 38 percent among doctorate holders. NSF analysts point out that during the 1990s, there was a large influx of foreign-born scientists and engineers across most fields.

NSB members also reported that from 2001 to 2002, H-1B visas for foreign workers in science, engineering and technology-related fields declined sharply from about 166,000 to around 74,000.

The NSB began its review of the workforce in October 2000, even then recognizing that global competition for S&E talent was intensifying while the number of native-born graduates entering the S&E workforce was declining, a trend likely to continue, it said. The newest figures confirm the need for national-level action to ensure the nation's capacity in these critical fields in the face of an increasingly competitive global market, said members today.

"These trends provide policymakers with the unusual challenge in the coming years of producing enough talent from pools of both U.S. and foreign-educated professionals to fill the important and growing numbers of positions we expect in critical fields," said Warren M. Washington, NSB chair. Washington led the Press Club discussion on the board's new report, The Science and Engineering Workforce – Realizing America's Potential. Appearing with him were three members of the task force on national S&E workforce policies who led the study, Joseph A. Miller, an executive with Corning, Inc., George M. Langford, a research scientist, and Diana Natalicio, president of the University of Texas - El Paso. National Science Foundation director Rita R. Colwell was also on hand for the presentation.

In the longer term as living standards rise and opportunities increase for highly skilled engineers and scienists in such countries as China and India it will become more difficult for the US to recruit the best and the brightest. Eastern Europe's living standards will also likely rise and it is possible that the European Union might decide to fund a lot more science research and, by doing so, decrease the incentive for scientists in European countries to move to the United States. Also, companies that can distribute work around the world will have fewer incentives to try to bring highly skilled scientists and engineers to the United States to work. The ability of the United States to brain-drain the rest of the world looks like it may decline in coming decades.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 25 12:59 AM  Immigration Border Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
2003 November 24 Monday
Modest Proposal For Constitutional Amendment On Marriage

The gay marriage debate has reached a pretty high intensity as a result of a recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling striking down the existing definition of marriage as being only available to create legal unions between people of opposite sexes.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled Tuesday that same-sex couples are legally entitled to wed under the state constitution thereby striking down a state ban on same-sex marriages. The court said the state was violating its own state constitution by denying the "legal, financial and social benefits of marriage" to people of the same sex who wish to marry.

The whole gay marriage debate is not something I want to get into on the ParaPundit blog. I have views about the subject. But so many commentators cover the topic and I try to cover topics that do not get the attention that they deserve. However, there is one thought about this subject that I haven't heard anywhere else that I thought I'd toss it out. A recent discussion The Corner blog on National Review Online was kicking around David Brooks' recent NY Times column in favor of gay marriage. See comments by Tim Graham, Tim Robinson, and Jonah Goldberg for examples. Ramesh Ponnuru examines the debate on the right about the Federal Marriage Amendment proposal to amend the US Constitution to limit the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The constitutional amendment debate so far has been about whether and to what extent to change the constitution with an amendment to regulate marriage and other forms of unions between people. The fear on the Right among opponents of gay marriage is that if one state holds that gay marriage is legal then all other states could be compelled by a federal court ruling to respect that state's gay marriages because of a constitutional clause requiring that states respect each other's laws. An attempt to prevent this was made by Congress in 1996 and signed into law: The federal Defense of Marriage Act, passed to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, could be ruled unconstitutional based on a clause related to federalism and the relation between the states.

"One could argue the law is unconstitutional," said Les Babich, a family lawyer in Des Moines. "It's highly improbable that would be successful."

Under the U.S. Constitution, states must give "full faith and credit" to other states" laws, unless it violates public policy.

Effectively, such an outcome could allow a single state's Supreme Court and the federal Supreme Court to make gay marriage legal in all states and that would be rather undemocratic. By contrast, it has been argued that a constitutional amendment to restrict marriage to a union between a man and a woman would be more democratic due to the requirement of approval of a constitutional amendment by so many state legislatures and Congress. But there is another way the gay marriage debate could be handled that might have greater appeal for people who are committed federalists and who are not keen to see the courts decide such an important issue: Have a constitutional amendment that explicitly authorizes each state legislature to define the eligibility for civil unions and marriages in each state. Effectively take the "full faith and credit" justification away from the federal courts on the question and truly make marriage a state-level issue so that no single state's court combined with a federal court can determine the law of all the states.

A criticism often heard on the Right is that courts are arrogating to themselves authority to decide issues that ought to be the province of legislatures. In my view there is considerable merit to this criticism of the courts. But an amendment to the constitution that effectively bans gay marriage looks like it makes the opposite mistake: such an amendment looks too much like legislation written into the constitution. So then why not simply amend the constitution to tell the courts that they do not, by any stretch of the imagination, have the authority to play legislators on the question of who is eligible to be married? Such an amendment would not be for or against gay marriage. It would just force the issue to be resolved in a democratic fashion.

One obvious question about this proposal is whether it makes sense to empower the individual state legislatures to settle this issue in different ways. Settlement of property law issues could become quite complicated if, say, a couple could be married and joint owners of property in one state, they split up, and one of them moves to another state before a legal divorce is granted. If this is really serious problem (I know little about property law and have no idea) then another variation on an amendment would be to either authorize Congress to decide the gay marriage issue for all the states or for some sort of division of powers between the state and the federal legislatures on this issue to be made as part of the amendment.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 24 10:49 PM  Politics American Domestic
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 November 21 Friday
French Mayor, Strasbourg Muslims Disagree On Teachings

The mayor of Strasbourg France is trying to bridge an unbridgeable gap. (same article here)

Mayor Fabienne Keller informed Muslim leaders last week that the municipal subsidy also required that they preach a "French Islam", guarantee women's rights and inform City Hall about their view on whether Muslim girls should wear headscarves.

The association planning the Grand Mosque of Strasbourg rejected the demand and said it would rather forego the subsidy - amounting to 10% of the six million euro ($7.16 million) overall cost - than go along with the city's demands.

The French government is considering banning headscarves from schools. The French are headed in the direction of headscarf bans even as the Islamic party now in charge in Turkey is trying to revoke the bans against headscarf wearing in government facilities.

If Islam was compatible with Western liberal democracy then the futile argument that is playing out in Strasbourg wouldn't be necessary in the first place.

See the related previous post: Norwegian Minister Wants Muslims In Norway To Modernize.

Update:French publishing house Yves Michalon, under pressure of death threats and internal opposition, has dropped plans to publish a French translation of Robert Spencer's Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith. Translator Guy Milliere says that in France it has become fashionable to claim that anyone who criticises Islam is guilty of Islamophobia.

Soon after the book’s publication was approved in France last April, its translator, French writer Guy Milliere, began to receive death threats.

...

For his part, Spencer calls the cancellation of his book’s publication “...a symptom of the Islamic agenda in France and the silencing of non-Muslims as ‘dhimmis’.”

“What you have here is a subjugation of public opinion in France,” he said. “It’s ironic. If you don’t say Islam is a religion of peace, they will kill you. My book doesn’t advocate murdering anyone. It only investigates questions about Islam, but it is so threatening that they’ll kill to silence it.”

In light of this turn of events Mayor Keller is actually being fairly brave by French standards by standing up in some small way to fundamentalist Islam.

For more on Robert Spencer see Robert Spencer on the Nature of Islam and David Klinghoffer on Islam and Non-Believers, For more on Guy Milliere see Guy Milliere says France No Longer A Western Country and FrontPage Symposium: The Death of France?.

Also see related posts Headscarves And Islam In France And Turkey and Theodore Dalrymple on French Ghettoes.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 21 06:10 PM  Civilizations Decay
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
2003 November 20 Thursday
China Threatens War Against Taiwan For Splittist Tendencies

Wang Zaixi, vice-minister of Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, threatens war if Taiwan declares independence.

"If the Taiwan authorities collude with all splittist forces to openly engage in pro-independence activities and challenge the mainland and the one-China principle, the use of force may become unavoidable," Wang said.

The use of the term "war" is quite explicit:

The vice-president of Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, Wang Zaixi said "Taiwan's President Chen Shui-Bien's recent pro-separatist activities had crossed Beijing's 'red line' and run the risk of triggering a war with the mainland."

With the mainland growing economically the Chinese government in Beijing is growing in strength. There is a definite window here that is going to close on the Taiwanese. If they do not formally declare independence soon it may become increasingly more difficult to do so in the future.

Beijing mouthpiece China Daily editorializes that the US is goading Taiwanese President Chen to continue his drive toward declared independence.

Chen and his ilk would have never had the temerity to go farther and farther against the will of the Chinese people, including Taiwan compatriots, without support from foreign pro-Taiwan forces, especially those in the United States.

The Taiwan issue would have never become a question without US intervention.

On the one hand, the United States makes its commitment to adhere to the one-China policy and not to support Taiwan independence, but on the other hand, it gives Taiwan oral and material support, thus laying down a serious obstacle to mainland-island reunification.

Note that the Taiwan government has de facto independence and has had it for a long time. China is trying to prevent the Taiwanese from gaining international recognition as an independent country that can not be attacked by the mainland Chinese without a violation of international law.

The coming election in Taiwan and the threat of a referendum for independence in Taiwan are providing the impetus for the Beijing leaders to strike such a threatening posture.

The threat comes as campaigning heats up for Taiwan's March election. President Chen Shui-bian's re-election bid has gained traction in recent weeks with plans for a new constitution and a law that would allow citizens to call for referendums, which could lead to a direct vote on independence. This has angered Beijing, which still considers Taiwan part of China.

Shih Chihyu thinks that China is trying to get the US to use its influence to stop the Taiwanese drive for a formal declaration of independence.

"There is almost no one in Taiwan to stop Chen Shui-bian. And who's going to stop Taiwan independence then? It has to be the United States."

-- Shih Chihyu, professor at National Taiwan University

Keep in mind that these Beijing leaders who want the US to rein in Taiwan are the very same people who enable the continued development of nuclear weapons and the export of missiles and nuclear technology by North Korea. The Beijing leaders supply food and oil crucial for the Pyongyang regime's continued existince and they may also be secretly happy that the North Koreans are pursuing policies that are widening the split between Seoul and Washington DC. My advice to George W. Bush: Stand by and let the Taiwanese hold a referendum to declare independence. We should be for democracy and against totalitarianism.

The Beijing mouthpiece China Daily is unhappy with the degree of access Taiwanese officials have to the US.

Beijing's official China Daily accused the U.S. government of "breaking its decades-old practice of limiting a Taiwan leader's activities in the United States to an unofficial level," by allowing him unhindered access to the media and freedom to travel while in New York.

It also noted that, in Panama, Chen and Secretary of State Colin Powell had "exchanged pleasantries."

The China Daily is reporting all sorts of quotes of official upset.

"Chen's perverse acts have not only aroused the indignation of all Chinese people, but also prompted us to prepare well to crush the conspiracy of Taiwan separatists," said Li Weiyi, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

The Bush Administration says they can handle the situation and maintain the peace.

A top George W. Bush administration official, reacting to an apparent rise in cross-strait tensions, has said that the US is more than capable militarily to keep the peace in the Taiwan Strait if needed.

"We have full faith that the question of Taiwan will be resolved peacefully, and it is on this premise that we base our policy regarding Taiwan and the People's Republic of China," Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in Washington on Tuesday.

But if Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian wins reelection, amends the constitution to allow direct referenda, and then holds a referendum on independence that wins a majority of the vote what will the Bush Administration do at each of these steps along the way? Will it tell the Taiwanese not to proceed if they want continued US protection? What is the point of US protection if the Taiwanese are only being protected until the Chinese mainlanders can eventually become strong enough militarily to capture the island at some future date when the United States is relatively weaker than China? If you don't think that is going to happen my response is: demography is destiny. How can the US stay economically and militarily stronger than a country that has about 4 and a half times more people, has been industrializing rapidly for a couple of decades running, and that has a populace that is on average at least as bright as Americans?

The Taiwanese say that since they have a democracy they should be allowed to be independent.

"Taiwan is a democratic country. Only its 23 million people have the right to decide its future and what is best for them," a spokesman for Taiwan's cabinet, Lin Chia-lung, said in the statement.

"We can't tolerate interference with our internal affairs by any undemocratic countries," Reuters reports Lin saying.

Taiwanese President Chen refuses to embrace the "One China" policy.

Since taking power on May 20, 2000, the Taiwan leader has refused to embrace the one-China principle that states there is only one China consisting of both the mainland and Taiwan.

China Daily reports the British are sticking with the "One China" policy.

British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said Thursday that Britain would make further efforts to strengthen cooperation with China, stressing that his country would stick to the "One China" policy

Canada, like Britain and the United States, does not recognize Taiwan and mostly for economic reasons.

Canada's position in this dispute is pure realpolitik. Canada ought, in theory, to be supportive of Taiwan. Taiwan is democratic; China is not. Taiwan respects human rights; China does not in all instances. According to Transparency International, Taiwan's corruption ranking is much better than China's. In per capita terms, Canada does more trade with Taiwan than China. But the Chrétien government swoons over that huge Chinese market. Mr. Chrétien has made six trips to China as Prime Minister. On Dec. 11, the day before he hands over power to Paul Martin, Mr. Chrétien will welcome China's Premier in Ottawa.

When (as seems likely) the Taiwanese declare indepdendence the United States, Britain, and Canada are going to have to decide whether they put morality or money first. I'm betting on the desire for Chinese mainland trade to prevent an official recognition of Taiwan by any Western government. But it is likely that the US will, for the foreseeable future, be willing to defend Taiwan against a Chinese mainland attack. So the Taiwanese can probably get away with a formal declaration of independence. But as the US becomes economically and militarily weaker relative to China in the coming decades the Taiwanese are going to have to develop a nuclear weapons arsenal if they are going to succeed in maintaining their independence.

Update: Chen has been anathema to Beijing since the 2000 Taiwanese elections.

In 2000, when Mr. Chen was elected leader of Taiwan on an independence platform, in the first real democratic elections on the island - Beijing's reaction was virulent. Not until a year ago was Chen's name allowed to be published in Chinese state media.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 20 02:27 PM  China
Entry Permalink | Comments(18)
2003 November 19 Wednesday
Rumsfeld Assures Japan US Will Not Be Unilaterally Weak With North Korea

While Democrats carp at Bush for pursuing a unilateral policy toward North Korea (see again the Marmot's critique of Josh Marshall complaints of Bush Administration unilateralism in North Korea policy for a great example of this) Bill Gertz's report on a press conference with Donald Rumsfeld and Shigeru Ishiba is a useful reminder that the Japanese fear US weakness toward North Korea more than unilateral US belligerence.

Mr. Rumsfeld, appearing at a news conference with Japan Defense Agency Director Shigeru Ishiba, also said that any U.S. security guarantees provided to Pyongyang would not be made at Tokyo's expense.

Check out the text of the press conference of Shigeru Ishiba and Donald Rumsfeld.

Q: Yes sir, Bill Gertz with the Washington Times. My question is for both of you. First, it’s about the nuclear issue. It's been reported that North Korea is prepared to accept some U.S. security guarantees. Mr. Ishiba, are you concerned that any agreement with North Korea could lead to a weakening of Japan’s security, and Mr. Rumsfeld, since North Korea has violated the ’94 agreement, can North Korea be trusted with any future nuclear agreement?

ISHIBA: For the U.S. to assure in what way the security and safety for North Korea -- I understand that study is ongoing within the United States. Now, this is just, on a hypothetical question and with the guarantee of security to be given to the North Korea and the U.S. has a guarantee of implementing the obligations of the defense for Japan. These two are separate questions. One thing is being given does not mean that other will be undermined. That is not the relationship between the two. With the assurance or guarantee given to the North Korea, and if there is an unjust attack made on Japan, U.S., I am sure, will have no change in its intention to work together with Japan to defend our nation. I believe we are in total agreement between myself and Mr. Secretary.

RUMSFELD: We are indeed in total agreement and the – it is a hypothetical question because the United States government has not gotten to that point. I can say this. The United States government is not going to make any arrangements with any other country, that one or others, that would in any way undermine our security agreement with Japan. Second, with respect to trust, I have always kind of agreed with former President Reagan --trust but verify.

Ishiba appears to stumble here and yet still manages to get in the point that the US has obligated itself to defend Japan in a sentence about a deal with North Korea. The Japanese are afraid the US will be too wimpish in dealing with North Korea and the Japanese do not want to see the United States cut a bilateral deal with North Korea that is not verifiable. Think about that. While the Bush Administration gets criticised for unilateral hawkishness by the Left in the United States and Europe over in East Asia Donald Rumsfeld offers assurances that the United States will not be unilaterally wimpish with the very country that many Bush Administration critics claim the Bushies are being too belligerent toward. While the Chinese and South Koreans try to paint the US as the responsible party for dealing with North Korea to resolve a dispute that is mainly between the US and North Korea over in Japan the emphasis is on the idea that the US has an obligation to defend Japan and had better not make a deal that results in Japan becoming less secure.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 19 11:15 AM  Korea
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Iraq, Weapons Of Mass Destruction, And The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Mark Hosenball, Michael Isikoff and Evan Thomas have written an article about Cheney's influence on Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq.

One such moment came at the end of the first gulf war in 1991. Cheney was secretary of Defense, and arms inspectors visiting defeated Iraq had discovered that Saddam Hussein was much closer to building a nuclear weapon than anyone had realized. Why, Cheney wondered aloud to his aides, had a steady stream of U.S. intelligence experts beaten a path to his door before the war to say that the Iraqis were at least five to 10 years away from building a bomb? Years later, in meetings of the second President Bush's war cabinet, Cheney would return again and again to the question of how Saddam could create an entire hidden nuclear program without the CIA's knowing much, if anything, about it.

The surprising nature of this discovery has been overshadowed by the far smaller finds of WMD evidence at the end of Gulf War II. If Saddam Hussein had been pursuing a bigger nuclear weapons development effort in the late 1990s would the US government have known? Or is there simply a limitation on how much the US can know about what is going in a regime such as Hussein's short of actually invading the place?

One can always play monday morning quarterback and point to all sorts of errors after the fact. Also, before the fact there will be people lining up with so many different estimates of the activities of, say, Iraq or North Korea or some other rather closed and secretive society that someone after the fact will be able to claim that they are right. But if public statements of various European government leaders and even some former Clinton Administration officials (e.g. Kenneth Pollack) are anything to go by the Bush Administration was not alone in its assessment that Saddam's Iraq had a substantial WMD development effort in the late 90s and later.

The troubling thing about all this is that my guess pre-war was that Iraq's WMD programs were smaller than Iran's or North Korea's. Now that so much criticism has come down on the Bush Administration about their Iraq WMD predictions the Bushies find themselves in the position of being seen as the boy that cried wolf. But the story from Aesop's fable is being ignored by partisans intent on scoring points against the Bushies: the wolf eventually came.

Update: A New York Times report underscores the extent to which the CIA is becoming more skeptical in its viewing of evidence of biological and chemical weapons programs.

As an example of the danger of supposition, a second official cited Iraq, saying the absence of evidence that Iraq had destroyed its chemical and biological weapons appeared to have been interpreted by intelligence agencies as evidence that it still possessed them.

...

Even though officials said changes were not being made as a direct result of the Iraq experience, the emerging conclusions seem to reflect fresh caution by intelligence analysts, whose prewar certainty that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons has been cast in doubt by the failure of American investigators to find any evidence of Iraqi stockpiles.

When attempting to puzzle out what is happening in closed secretive societies there is always going to be a fair amount of uncertainty. The danger is that the admission of uncertainty in intelligence estimates will become a justification for inaction until the threat has become much greater.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 19 10:35 AM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 November 18 Tuesday
On Intelligence Estimates Of The Iraqi Opposition Forces

The US military estimates there are 5,000 Iraqi insurgents launching attacks against Western forces and other symbols of outside influence in Iraq.

The military estimates the number of resistance fighters at no more than 5,000, including about 200 foreign fighters.

Many attacks are carried out by criminals released from prison by Saddam before the war. "In most of the cases of direct-fire engagements that our troops have, they find very young, out-of-work young men that have been paid to attack our forces," the general said.

Some in the military think the number in the Iraqi opposition is even smaller than 5,000.

CNN anchor Bill Hemmer spoke Monday with Time magazine's Brian Bennett, who wrote an article about the Iraqi resistance.

BENNETT: [CentCom commander] Gen. [John] Abizaid said there could be as many as 5,000 insurgents. He was actually criticized for passively underestimating the number. According to my sources, I think the number could be less than that. People told me if you have a well- organized, well-led resistance force of maybe several hundred or a thousand, they could be inflicting the amount of damage and instigating the amount of chaos we've seen in the last couple of weeks.

By contrast, the CIA estimates there could be 50,000 Iraqi insurgent fighters.

A Central Intelligence Agency report leaked to U.S. newspapers Wednesday suggests as many as 50,000 fighters may be taking part in the insurgency, and that they increasingly enjoy the support of ordinary Iraqis. The report, written by the CIA's station chief in Baghdad and commissioned by director George Tenet, also raises doubts about the U.S. military's ability to crush the opposition unless serious political changes are made in the country.

General John Abizaid, Commander, CENTCOM (and a man who, parenthetically, is very fluent in Arabic and who has a strong grasp of Arab culture and history) sees the military estimate of a 5,000 man opposition force as very dangerous in spite of its small size.

The clear and most dangerous enemy to us at the present time are the former regime loyalists, the Ba'athist cells that operate in the areas primarily of Baghdad, Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul, Kirkuk, and conduct operations against us primarily through the use of improvised explosive devices, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and, very infrequently, but sometimes also small arms fire. I would say that this group of Ba'athists by far represents the greatest threat to peace and stability and it is very important for us to close with that enemy, to discover their cellular structure, to unravel it and to remove that threat from moderation emerging in the Iraqi government.

The extremists are those that can fill a large number of different groupings. They represent religious extremists, they represent national extremists that may or may not have been associated with the Ba'athists, yet nevertheless desire to fight the coalition, and to ensure that no moderate Iraqi government emerges.

There are a large number of criminals that are hired by the Ba'athists and the extremists to do their dirty work. As a matter of fact, in most of the cases of direct-fire engagements that our troops have, they find very young, out-of-work young men that have been paid to attack our forces, and it is very important that as we progress militarily, we also progress politically and economically so as to get these young men, these angry young men, off the streets.

There are a small, yet important and well-organized, group of foreign fighters, some of whom have been operating in Iraq for a long time, many of whom are infiltrating across various borders. I would point out to you that the border areas of Iraq are as long as the U.S.-Mexican border areas. And they are difficult to secure, yet on the other hand, we have had good success recently in interdicting many of these foreign fighters. And although we have had very good cooperation from the Shi'a community in the south, it is also true that there are some anti- coalition Shi'a movements that also aim to destabilize any moderate government that would form in Baghdad.

So in all, I would say that the force of people actively armed and operating against us does not exceed 5,000. Now, people will say, well, that's a very small number. But when you understand that they're organized in cellular structure, that they have a brutal and determined cadre, that they know how to operate covertly, they have access to a lot of money and a lot of ammunition, you'll understand how dangerous they are.

What is most noteworthy about the 5,000 guerilla insurgent fighter figure of the US military and the 50,000 figure of the CIA is that we are given little insight into how each organization arrived at their estimates. This brings to mind the most historically significant previous disagreement between the US military and the CIA about an enemy order of battle which occurred during the Vietnam War. A then-secret bureaucratic fight pitted a lower military estimate of the Viet Cong and NVA order of battle (OOB) against a much higher estimate by lone CIA analyst Sam Adams. Adams' higher estimate was kept from being the official OOB for the enemy and yet Adams turned out to be right. Shortly before Adams died he wrote an excellent insider's account of the internal bureaucratic battles he fought to try to bring the military to a more realistic appraisal of their enemy: War of Numbers: An Intelligence Memoir.

Is history repeating itself? Is the more pessimistic CIA estimate of Iraqi opposition accurate? It depends in part on how the opposition is defined. This was one of the issues between Adams and the US military back in the 1960s. The communists had various levels of fighters who were progressively less formal, less trained, and less consistently involved in the war. It has been too many years since I've read War of Numbers to recall the exact categories of fighters in Vietnam but Adams included estimates of different types of village-level militias and part-time fighters that the military tried to ignore. As a consequence of this difference over definitions of the enemy Adams came up with much larger counts of enemy forces. The military was opposed to estimates that would make the enemy seem much higher in number and hence more formidable. The higher estimates were seen as potential fodder that could be used as arguments against the US fighting in Vietnam in the first place. Also, once mistaken lower number estimates of enemy forces were made public the Johnson White House and military saw that an upward revision in the estimates would be seen as evidence that the communist opposition was actually growing in strength. The US military's lower unrealistic estimates eventually helped undermine public trust in the US prosecution of the war even as US forces really did significantly degrade the size of enemy forces and as they did most notably during the Tet Offensive.

Abizaid's comments about the nature of the Iraqi opposition bring up somewhat analogous questions about military OOB estimates about the Iraqi opposition. Note that Abizaid refers to criminals hired to do the work of the Baathists. Are those criminals included in the 5,000 number? Probably not. There are likely many criminals who could be hired who haven't even been approached yet. How many would respond to monetary inducements and how much money do the Baathists have available to offer would-be attackers?

In Iraq a likely bigger source of differences of estimates for the opposition probably comes as a result of the tribal nature of much of Iraqi society. An account from Time illustrates how a single fighter can count on an extended family support network.

The Saddam aide says the attack in Nasiriyah was planned and executed by a cell from a town between Fallujah and Ramadi. He adds that a member of the cell told him that the coalition troops in the south, where Nasiriyah lies, were much more accessible, with fewer fortifications, than those in the Sunni triangle near Baghdad, making them an easier target. To further increase their chances of eluding capture and to protect their families, the members of a cell based west of Fallujah, says the aide, never sleep at home. Instead they stay with relatives who live in other towns in the area. And they never keep their weapons in these or their own houses, but hide them in farmers' fields and orchards.

Are the family members who help house a fighter part of the enemy order of battle? Are the family members who look the other way and ignore and do not report weapons caches or who provide money or who stay silent part of the enemy order of battle? It would be misleading to include them in a simple total number of all enemy fighters. But it would also be misleading to ignore their role. Also, will a Baathist loyalist or Saddam Fedayeen member who is killed fighting coalition forces be replaced by a brother who cousin who seeks vengeance?

One factor that the US has working in its favor in Iraq is that the majority Shias and the Kurds fear the return to power of the Sunni Baathists.

For many Iraqis, the foremost worry is that the oppressive Hussein regime and its security forces could return if public ire over poor conditions continues to grow, some religious leaders say. But as attacks against Coalition forces and civilians have increased, such as last week's devastating bombing of an Italian military compound in Nasiriyah, a broad range of Iraqis also speak more fervently of rejecting "Wahabis," or foreign religious extremists they believe are sent by Osama bin Laden. At the same time, many Muslims, especially among the Shiite majority, say they do not envisage an Islamic regime for the country.

While the insurgent attackers are learning and their attacks are growing in sophistication at the same time some of the Shia clergy who were until quite recently preaching a fairly hostile line about the US troop presence are suddenly striking a more conciliatory tone. The Shia are rightly more worried about the Baathists and the Wahhabis than they are about the US forces which the Shias must realize by now will eventually be greatly scaled back as more power is transferred to Iraqi hands. The Shias want to be on the inside when Iraqis assume positions of power and the Shias definitely do not want to see the Baathists or Sunni Wahhabists come to power. That the majority of the population is hostile toward the Baathists and toward Sunni Arab rule is a large factor weighing in favor of US and coalition forces.

Even if the Baathsts continue to refine and improve the efficacy of their tactics and increase the amount of damage they cause in the short run they still face the very real threat that US and coalition intelligence work could break into some of their rings and gradually cut down their numbers. Also, a more deft US handling of the Iraqi Sunni populace could somewhat reduce the level of support they enjoy in their base. The US forces will continue to find and destroy arms caches and the Baathists no longer have the power of sovereign control to use to replenish their cash supplies. So time may not be on their side. Still, at this remove it is hard to judge the accuracy of the US military or CIA estimates or to understand the depth of the support that the Baathists and other insurgent factions enjoy in the Sunni heartland of Iraq.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 18 05:35 PM  Mideast Iraq Insurgency
Entry Permalink | Comments(5)
2003 November 17 Monday
The Marmot And David Scofield On North Korea

Robert "The Marmot" Koehler, an American citizen living deep inside enemy territory, Kwangju South Korea, takes on Talking Points Memo blogger Josh Marshall's partisan foolish analysis of the Clinton and Bush Administration policies toward North Korea.

The defining encounter came in March 2001 when then-President Kim Dae Jung visited the White House only to be told by the president that we were withdrawing support for his policy. As Jessica Matthews, head of the Carnegie Endowment put it, President Bush took "the architect of the North-South reconciliation and ... publicly humiliate[d] him."

The Marmot takes Marshall to Task.

Look, President Bush simply voiced his skepticism concerning North Korea, skepticism that turned out to be well-founded. Allies do not have to agree on everything, and both Kim and current President and Sunshine fan Noh Mu-hyeon made it a point to say that they reserve the right to disagree with Washington, and that right is surely reciprocal. If Kim Dae-jung was "humiliated" because Bush (who did publically back North-South reapproachment, BTW) refused to publically declare the Sunshine Policy the greatest thing since sliced bread, then Kim should have had thicker skin. And to be frank, it would have been a mistake for Bush to back a policy which, as readers of this blog no doubt have gathered, is based on some rather imaginative premises. It should also be noted that much of the "humilation" that Kim suffered was the result of poor translation work on the part of the Korean press, but that's a whole other story...

Would Josh Marshall have preferred that Bush embrace Kim Dae-jung's foolish policy of bribery of the North Koreans just so that Bush could avoid disagreeing with ("humiliating" in Marshall's parlance) the president of South Korea?

The Clinton Administration did not view the 1994 Framework Accord as a permanent solution because they expected the Pyongyang regiume to collapse. The seemingly craziest part of the deal, Bill Clinton's agreement to make the US one of the funders of the construction of two "peaceful" nuclear reactors for North Korea, only seemed to make sense because the Clinton Administration figured the North would collapse by the time the construction was finished. Construction of those reactors was recently halted by a KEDO members vote because construction was getting too far along and the regime has not passed into the dustbin of history.

There is an obvious conclusion that can be drawn from the reactor construction deal: the Clinton Administration was not pursuing a sustainable policy of containment of North Korean nuclear ambitions. The Bush Administration had to abandon the policy because the North Korean regime has lasted longer than the Clinton Administration policy could have reasonably been expected to work.

Of course, the Clinton Administration policy was already failing while Clinton was still in office with the North Koreans continuing to pursue the acquisition and development of technology for making nuclear weapons through missile-nuclear trade with Pakistan, covert purchase of technology in other countries, and work by their own scientists and engineers.

In response to Marshall's claims that the Bushies are acting all aggressive toward North Korea the Marmot points out some of the rather aggressive moves that the Clinton Administration made toward North Korea including the leak in 1998 of a plan to attack North Korea as a way to send a message to Kim Jong-il and his partners in brutality. The Marmot goes down the timeline and points out how the history of US policy toward North Korea is at odds with Marshall's memory.

While Bush Administration policy changes were a necessary corrective for failing Clinton Administration policies my own view is that Bush policy changes have not been enough to yield a policy that will ultimately be successful.

The real tragedy of the 1994 Framework Accord (a.k.a. Geneva Agreed Framework) that Clinton and Carter are responsible for is that it sent South Korea's internal politics hurdling down a degenerate path. The net result is that the 1994 Accord has turned South Korea into North Korea's bitch.

South Korea's desire to play intermediary between North Korea and the US has manifest into that of an advocate, rather than arbiter. When the North announced in October last year that it had secretly, and in direct contravention of its 1994 agreements, developed a highly enriched uranium program and was planning to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (it was the initial threat of the same by Pyongyang in 1992 that led to the Geneva agreement), South Korea quickly declared that the US must have misunderstood. When North Korea announced in September that it had finished reprocessing plutonium for the manufacture of additional nuclear weapons, it was South Korea that declared that this was false. Contrary to North Korean declarations that it has working nuclear devices and is busily making more, the South proclaimed again, not true.

The South Korean administration maintains the principle of a non-nuclear peninsula, but polls continue to show that few fear the Northern nuclear threat, with many taking quiet pride that the North is a nuclear power. The South, after much persuasion by the US, abandoned its nuclear weapons program in the mid-1970s. An oft-heard phrase in South Korea these days is Korean pride: loosely translated as an embrace of Korean nationalism and independence. A "Korean bomb" would be a boon to many in the South who believe the peninsula has been under the yoke of foreign powers for far too long.

The US no longer has an ally on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea serves North Korea. That is a big loss for US national interests and that loss began as a result of Clinton Administration policy. Kim Dae-jung came to power in 1997 in significant part as a result of the 1994 deal and he pursued policies that were made possible by that deal.

David Scofield, also author of the previous piece and writing from Seoul South Korea, argues the current regime in North Korea can not be expected to adhere to any agreement that might be negotiated.

The success of any agreement rests on all parties involved believing that they will be better served by following the terms - compliance offering something that cheating does not - or conversely, the costs of cheating being higher than the potential reward. Unfortunately, neither is true in the case of North Korea.

The present leadership cannot adhere to its promises, and we should not expect it to. It cannot accept change and retain control at the same time, its power and position being predicated on its ability to extort concessions and yield nothing; cheating is a necessity, not a choice. We should accept this reality and devote all available resources to the principle of leadership change, finding new people to negotiate with, people in whose best interests it is to abide by the principles of a new regional agreement.

Scofield comes to the same conclusion as regular readers of this blog have heard here: regime change is the only way to create a government in North Korea that will be willing to adhere to an arms control agreement. The most disappointing aspect of Bush Administration policy toward North Korea is that, at leaste as far as can be ascertained from public sources, the Bushies are not trying all that hard to make regime change happen. They are working to reduce some forms of revenue flowing to the North. But the South is upping trade and aid and it is not clear that the North is suffering a net decrease in support. The Bushies at the very least ought to be trying to break the North Korean regime's information monopoly over the people in the North. A lot could be done. A billion or two a year could be spent to get radios and books into North Korea, to broadcast more into North Korea, to smuggle North Korean refugees out of China, and to otherwise pursue policies that would have the effects of weakening the North Korean regime. Plus, the Bushies ought to make it clear to Beijing and to the South Koreans that the US views their support for North Korea as acts that threaten US national security and that the US places a higher priority on protecting US national security than on maintaining amicable relations with either Beijing or Seoul.

The Marmot's post and both of Scofield's Asia Times articles are excellent reads and I recommend reading them in full.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 17 11:53 PM  Korea
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Group Poisonings Popular In China

In America one recurring image of group killers is some lone psycho who goes up in a tower and starts blasting away at strangers or randomly chooses to blast the customers of a McDonalds. Plus there is the lone white guy in his 20s or 30s who, like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer who kills mostly strangers in secrecy for the pleasure of killing and operates for months or years before being caught. Then there are the disaffected teens who hate their fellow students and hate their teachers. Plus, there is the proverbial mad postal clerk or other peon employee who hates the authorities and co-workers who surround them. But these are very American profiles. in In China, by contrast, they have teachers killing their students and restaurant owners killing the customers of competitors and they use rat poison to do it.

One Chinese Web site, Sina.com, has already reported a possible copycat poisoning in which funeral guests were sickened but not killed. The authorities also reported a poisoning on Oct. 23 in Shaanxi Province in which 16 people were hospitalized, they said, after a jealous barbecue-stand operator poisoned the food at a barbecue stand that was outselling him.

Several times a year, the Chinese news is filled with tales of restaurant owners poisoning the food in rival restaurants, or of teachers poisoning students, or, as happened a few years ago, of a zookeeper poisoning animals to spite his boss. The worst case happened last year when 49 people, many of them children, were killed in an intentional poisoning.

They use the poison in part because guns are hard to come by. But poisoning has advantages as well by allowing the killer to not be around when their victims are around. But that is not what is interesting here. It is the kinds of people doing the killings, their motives, and their victims that are curious.

This shows how much cultures differ. Teachers killing students? There is just not an American ethos to support that sort of thing. Also, poisoning of the customers of competitors seems foreign to the American ethos as well. It may have happened at some point. But it is rare. Is that at least in part because of an American ethos where we are supposed to be good losers and accept when others out-compete us and are more successful? Also, are customers more seen as king in America than in China?

The article quotes experts who argue there is a lack of access to court systems in China for resolving conflicts and therefore people feel so frustrated that they seek their own form of justice. So then one explanation for the difference between American and Chinese killng patterns is that the different systems create outcomes that leave different kinds of people feeling very aggrieved. But that can only be part of the explanation. When people kill for reasons other than the joy of being the predator there must be cultural influences that lead them to see killing as an acceptable course of action in their own minds. In the United States movies that glorify narcissistic killers must push some people into a direction that makes some see the act of killing in a more positive light. But in China what cultural influences cause, say, a teacher to see killing his students an acceptable course of action?

By Randall Parker 2003 November 17 07:51 PM  Culture Compared
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
Does Subsidized Food Dumping Hurt The Third World?

It has become popular to argue that First World subsidized food dumping harms Third World countries. Is this argument correct? Let me present a contrarian view. I'm not sure I believe it but it is presented for your consideration:

Urban workers (and some of them are self-employed) who can pay less for food can buy more food and that is a real benefit to them. If they have enough money after that they can buy other stuff as well and accumulate capital to start their own businesses. Accumulation of capital in non-farming economic activity is essential for the development of the poorest countries.

Agricultural workers: Some are subsistence farmers who eat everything they grow. Lower import prices do not hurt them if they are not even able to sell surplus food. Others are hurt if the imports drive down the price of local food. But they are only hurt for that portion of the food they grow that they sell.

Imagine responding to this argument by driving up world food prices to some high level. Think that thru. Why not, in the name of helping Third World farmers, triple the price of internationally traded food? What do you think the effect of doing that would be? My guess is that the total amount of hunger and poverty would rise. Third World countries would have to pay more to import food and therefore would have less money (or no money) to spend to import other things. Granted, local production might rise as a result. But the money available even to invest in local agriculture would be less.

Take the other extreme: imagine that the price of food dropped to zero. Well, everyone would have enough to eat and they'd have more time to engage in economic activity that produces other kinds of goods and services.

This focus on the Third World farmers and the prices they get for their crops seems misplaced. The way forward for the Third Worlders is for them to get work that is off the farm. The benefits of lower tariffs for textiles and other low tech manufacturing products are far more certain than the supposed benefits of having developed countries raise the prices of their agricultural exports. Low food prices help some while hurting others. But the ones that are helped are the very ones who are doing the kinds of work that will lift the Third World out of subsistence farming. Lower food prices will probably accelerate their accumulation of capital. If Third Worlders to spend less on food they will have more more money on other things such as, say, a sewing machine or a hand tool or a cart for transportation.

Plus, even low prices for some types of food are beneficial for some forms of agriculture. Consider that cattle and chicken farmers use grains to feed their cattle. Lower the price of corn and their costs go down.

In a nutshell: Human living standards rise because humans find ways to spend less time doing what they used to do so that they can spend more time creating new kinds of goods and services. The fact that so many people in less developed countries spend so much time working on farms is not an argument for protecting the farm economies of the Third World. It is an argument for reducing the need for Third Worlders to work on the farm so that they can spend more time creating other kinds of goods and services. The real problem is not that farmers can not get enough money for their crops. The problem is that people in poor countries have to spend so much time farming and hence do not have enough time to do other work.

Anything that frees the world's poor from having to farm should cause living standards to rise if the local economies allow those people to move into other work. If there is a problem in the Third World with the move off the farm then the problem must come in the form of obstacles to developing other kinds of work activities.

Update: A couple of arguments against the proposition above could be advanced.

First, a rapid collapse in food prices could be too disruptive to a society. Societies are made up of webs of relationships and if too many relationships are disrupted at once then the resulting chaos will unleash wars, crime waves, and other disruptions that cause net harm and destruction.

Another argument is that people in poor countries know how to farm. They don't know how to do other things. But think about that. They may plow fields but they also make their own clothing and implements for working the fields. They do have other skills. They also can be taught other skills by those who are already working in other industries. Plus, a lot of low-tech manufacturing is incredibly low skill work. One big barrier to engaging in other kinds of work is that so much time has to be spent farming. Free people up from having to farm and they will have more time to do other work.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 17 10:34 AM  Economics Political
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
2003 November 14 Friday
Iran, IAEA, US, Europe, And Nuclear Weapons Proliferation

Iran is developing nuclear reactors that can generate electricity for civilian purposes. Iran also has large reserves of oil and natural gas and can generate electricity far more cheaply using fossil fuels. Iran has also admitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it has pursued a number of efforts to develop nuclear weapons over the last 18 years and has revealed to the IAEA a number of details about those efforts. The IAEA concludes that Iran is not currently trying to make nuclear weapons but that Iran has concealed a lot of activities that violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report this week that Iran had been involved in numerous cases of covert nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment and the production of small amounts of plutonium that effectively put the nation in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

But it also praised Iran for cooperation and openness and said it had found no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

The IAEA has effectively given the Europeans the diplomatic space they need to be able to pretend that the threat posed by nuclear weapons development in Iran is a problem that has been solved by an Iranian agreement with the IAEA to allow instant inspections of various Iranian nuclear facilities..

The British government reaction fits with the general European reaction.

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said Britain’s analysis of a United Nations report into the country’s nuclear programme differed from that of the US.

The US government reaction is not so favorable.

"I must say that the report's assertion is simply impossible to believe," Undersecretary of State for Non-proliferation and Arms Control John Bolton said.

Bolton points to the scale and length of the various deceptions the Iranians have conducted.

``It attempts to cover its tracks by repeatedly and over many years neglecting to report its activities and in many instances providing false declarations to the IAEA,'' Bolton said in a speech at a dinner of The American Spectator magazine.

A number of experts outside of government share the US government's concern.

Weapons experts described the report as deeply troubling, mostly because of the disclosures about how Iran hid its activities from nuclear inspectors.

"It's quite clear now that Iran was engaged in willful and systematic deception," said Michael Levi, a science fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The Iranians were working toward becoming fully proficient in all stages of processing nuclear materials.

The 29-page IAEA report, obtained by The Independent, concludes that "while most of the breaches identified to date have involved limited quantities of nuclear material, they have dealt with the most sensitive aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, including enrichment and reprocessing".

The New York Times, in an article that also highlights a CIA report on increased North Korean weapons production, points to the bottom line: Iran lags North Korea but has made a lot of progress and seeks to retain the ability to resume making progress.

But the essence of the Central Intelligence Agency report about North Korea is that that country is speeding up its weapons production. And Iran's decision to allow the international agency into facilities that were previously closed to inspectors may, diplomats said, blunt Mr. Bush's effort to seek some kind of sanctions in the United Nations, leaving Iran with an advanced nuclear infrastructure that could be restarted at a moment's notice.

Taken together, the reports show that Iran and North Korea have each dabbled in separating plutonium — one path to a bomb — and have each set up centrifuges to enrich uranium.

It is questionable whether a fully empowered IAEA inspection team can even entirely halt Iranian progress at its current stage - especially if the result is the continued construction and eventual operation of a nuclear reactor which the Iranians say is solely for making power for civilian purposes. An operational reactor will put the Iranians in a position of being able to throw out the inspectors at some later point so that Iran can take materials from the "civilian" reactor and use them for nuclear weapons making.

Because the small amounts of WMD-related materials found in Iraq the Bush Administration is now in the position of the girl who cried wolf. Iran's nuclear program has been a greater threat than Iraq's since Gulf War I led to the seizure of some of the nuclear weapons related equipment that Saddam had. North Korea is even further along in nuclear weapons development. But Iran and North Korea are harder nuts to crack and the public and international reaction to the US occupation of Iraq leaves the Bush Administration already fighting politically just to win support for its Iraq policies. The Bush Administration has a limited supply of political capital to expend to win support for its policies and doesn't have enough to win support for brinksmanship with Iran. The approach of the 2004 election is even more problematic for anti-nuclear proliferation efforts because the Democrats are inclined to criticize any initiatives the Bush Administration might make against countries that are developing nuclear weapons and the Democrats simply don't support hardline foreign policies.

Amir Taheri, an Iranian living in Paris, has written an excellent article on the topic of Iran's nuclear program. Taheri says that the problem is that Iran is trying to get very close to being able to make nuclear weapons fairly quickly.

The real issue is not the bomb," he says. "Regardless of who rules in Tehran, Iran is sure to have nuclear weapons whenever its leaders decide to have them. The real issue is who will be in control of those weapons and who will be their target."

The view is echoed by Gary Samore, the nuclear expert in the Institute for International Strategic Studies in London.

"There is no doubt that Iran has a nuclear weapons programme," he says. "No amount of diplomatic manoeuvring and political pressure is likely to persuade Iran to drop what has become a top national priority."

Taheri says that Iran can maneuver itself to being within 18 months of being able to produce a nuclear bomb even while under an IAEA inspections regime.

The revelation of a laser uranium enrichment program as part of the IAEA report is more important than the small amount of enriched uranium it produced because laser uranium enrichment demonstrates considerable technical skill. (same article here)

"People were saying, 'So Iran's pursuing laser enrichment? Ha-ha-ha, Let's let them do it,'" recalled David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector and enrichment expert.

No one's laughing this week. In a confidential report Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran's atomic executives have acknowledged that they fired up a pilot laser-enrichment plant late last year and enriched tiny amounts of uranium to low levels.

The Israelis have an even more pessimistic take on the Iranian nuclear program.

Iran will have nuclear capability in one year, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Wednesday.

My guess is that Iran will either manage to make nuclear weapons while under an IAEA inspections regime or will continue to develop nuclear technologies while under IAEA supervision and then eventually throw out the IAEA and then make a quick sprint for nuclear power status while it attempts to delay a response from the United States. The Bush Administration at this point probably doesn't have enough political support to maintain a harder line toward Iran in order to force the Iranians to surrender or destroy some of their nuclear equipment. So the Iranians just have to play for time and wait for some future point where the US has an even more distracted and less confrontational leadership. At that point the Iranians will be able to throw out the IAEA and sprint for the nuclear finish line.

Update: Look at the broader context of the IAEA report on Iraq: The Bush Administration has not sought to increase the size of the US military to make it big enough to properly run a counter-insurgency campaign in Iraq. One reason it hasn't done so is because some of its more Panglossian neoconservative hawks think the US military can prevail with small numbers equipped with modern technology. But another reason for the reticence is that it would be very hard to win an increase in defense spending of the size required and it would take years to build up the force. The US ground forces are already overstretched in Iraq. That alone puts Iran's leaders in a stronger position to continue to pursue nuclear ambitions. But even if the US troops were not on the ground in Iraq the US would be hard pressed to stop Iran. A ground invasion would be much harder than was the case in Iraq and the building of political support for an attack on Iran would be much harder than was the case with the war against Saddam.

Limitations in US intelligence abilities, an overstretched Army, a US federal budget deficit already at a half trillion dollars, and a public that does not appreciate the size of the threat combine to place severe limits on US efforts to stop nuclear weapons proliferation. Throw in a European elite opinion that has a greater desire to challenge the US than it does to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and the outlook for nuclear anti-proliferation efforts seems bleak.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 14 02:30 PM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
Working With The Opposite Sex Wrecks Marriages

The effects of temptation are very real.

The seven-year study of 37,000 employees at 1,500 workplaces provides empirical evidence that working with people of the opposite sex is hazardous to your marriage. Working with co-workers who are all of the opposite sex increases the divorce rate by a startling 70 percent, compared with an office filled with co-workers of the same sex. Whether the co-workers were single or married had no impact, says author Yvonne Aberg, now a research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford University, England

Does this mean that the marriage of Kirsten and Sandy Cohen on The OC is doomed now that that lawyer temptress woman is going after Sandy at the office?

This is an argument for bringing back politically incorrect single-sex schools. Kids are distracted by those of the opposite sex. Homosexuals are a more complicated case though. One could not send homosexual males to a female school because if more than one homosexual male was sent to the same school they'd be attracted to each other. It is a lot easier to separate sexually distractable heterosexuals than to do the same with homosexuals.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 14 10:31 AM  Human Nature
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
2003 November 13 Thursday
Closer German-French Union Proposed To Counter United States

France and Germany may merge to meet the imagined common threat.

France is threatening to unite with Germany to maintain their influence in an enlarged European Union and strengthen their common front against the United States, according to reported remarks by the Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin.

The minister was quoted by Le Monde speaking about "Franco-German union" and calling the deepening of ties "the one historic challenge we cannot lose".

The newspaper gave most of its first three pages to reports on the proposed union, noting it was an idea whose time may have come.

Pascal Lamy, a French EU commissioner, was enthusiastic, telling Le Monde that closer ties could begin with the unification of diplomatic services and the sharing of France's permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

To counter the United States over what exactly? The French and Germans are starting to get downright batty in their anti-Americanism. Why not go further and merge the French and German languages in order to create a linguistic counterweight to English?

The obsession with America as the enemy causes Europe to miss its biggest enemy: Demographic trends that threaten to shrink Europe in population, vigor, economic size and in living standards while Europe becomes more Islamic and less European.

Update: D.J. McGuire of China e-Lobby in the latest issue of his newsletter points to a report about the desire of France and Germany to sell more advanced weapons to China.

The removal of sanctions against Beijing is likely to result in major weapons purchases from both France and Germany. The Chinese army would very much like to purchase French Mirage or Rafale jets and the Tiger attack helicopter. The Chinese have a major shortfall in helicopters and lack a modern attack helicopter.

In addition, the Chinese navy would like to collaborate with France on the purchase of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and nuclear-powered submarines. The Chinese navy also would like to purchase French- or German-made air cushion landing craft for a possible invasion of Taiwan.

If Germany and France start selling their best weapons to China and engage in weapons technology transfer deals with China then at that point the Western Alliance will be dead.

Update II: Victor Davis Hanson argues that Europe may eventually rearm.

Behind the pretense that a dash of multinationalism and pacifist platitudes have suddenly transformed Europe into some new Fukuyama-type End-of-History society, it is still mostly the continent of old, torn by envy and pride, conjuring up utopian fantasies of pan-European rule at the same time as nationalist resentments fester. That’s what makes the question of European rearmament so crucial. Should Europe rearm—and I think it will, either collectively or nation by nation, as America reduces its military presence—it has the population, economic power, and (most important) the know-how to field forces as good as our own. If Germany invested 4 to 5 percent of its GNP in defense, its new Luftwaffe would not resemble Syria’s air force. Two or three French aircraft carriers—snickers about the petite Charles de Gaulle aside—could destroy the combined navies of the Middle East. We may laugh today at the unionized Belgian military of potbellied cooks and barbers, or scoff at German pacifism, but this is still Europe, which gave birth to the Western military tradition—the most lethal the world has ever known.

Hanson argues that the US should continue troop withdrawals from Europe because an elimination of US troop presence from more countries in Europe will reduce their feelings of resentment and impotence. He suggests keeping forces only in European rim countries such as Britain, Spain, and Italy in order to be able to use bases for transfer of forces to the Middle East when necessary.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 13 03:27 PM  Europe and America
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
2003 November 12 Wednesday
Radek Sikorski Sees US Failing To Build Ties With Central Europe

Troops from Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine are serving in Iraq. Sikorski points out that costs for supporting those forces in Iraq take money away from military modernization.

Central Europeans had also hoped that the United States would help them modernize their militaries. Because it's so much cheaper to send foreigners to Iraq than Americans, this seemed a good time to help these armies come closer to NATO standards, which would make them more easily deployable alongside U.S. forces. Instead, these countries' investments in defense are being postponed to finance operations in Iraq.

Does the US foot any of the bill for the costs? Those countries are not well developed and have much lower per capita GDPs than the United States. That is why the salaries of their soldiers are low enough to make their deployment to Iraq much cheaper than is the case with US troops.

As Central Europe becomes increasingly integrated with the rest of the European Union US influence looks set to decline regardless of what the US does.

As of next year, Western Europe's pull in Central Europe will multiply. Millions of motorists will see signs marking EU-financed infrastructure projects; millions of farmers will get EU agricultural subsidy checks in the mail; and tens of thousands of journalists, scientists and academics will become eligible for EU grants. If the United States wants to remain a player, it better get into the game.

It is simply not worth it for the United States to try to compete with the level of aid the EU is going to lavish upon the former Warsaw Pact countries. But the US could get smarter and use small amounts of money to at least symbolically reward the countries that are providing troops in Iraq. For instance, a few small contracts to Polish companies (Poland provides the biggest troop contingent from Central Europe) to help in the rebuilding would go a long way. Also, some sort of US equivalent of Rhodes scholarships for Europeans would help to build ties.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 12 11:22 AM  Europe and America
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
Ancient Chinese And Greek Thinking Compared

Jonathan Barnes has written an interesting review of The Way and the Word: Science and Medicine in Early China and Greece by Geoffrey Lloyd and Nathan Sivin about why Chinese science and philosophy were so different.

But second, "the very adversariality of Greek modes of inquiry seems to affect also the content of theories." Just as in the particular case of Plato, "the form of his writing affects its philosophical content,' so in general the manner of Greek philosophising determines its matter. After all, "the great variety of Greek cosmological accounts is to be expected, in view of the systematic competitiveness of Greek philosophy and science."

The cosmologist must sell his wares in the intellectual marketplace; and if he is to outsell his rivals, he had better put a few novelties in his window. Not only that, he must talk up his own goods and talk down those of his rivals. Hence, on the one hand, the facts of Greek intellectual life "favoured systematically exploring the arguments on both sides of fundamental questions" (in order to prove your adversaries wrong), something which "may well have contributed to a readiness not merely to air but to maintain the contradictory of what might pass as a commonsensical view".

By contrast, the writers argue, China didn't have as much of an intellectual marketplace.

In China there was no raucous marketplace. The Chinese were generally writing for the emperor. Hence they "did not feel a need for incontrovertibility, the driving force in... Greek investigations". Rather, "what corresponds in China to the Greek authority of demonstration was the authority of sagely origin", so that "scientific pursuits in China... did not aim at stepwise approximations to an objective reality but at recovery of what the archaic sages already knew".

Moreover, writing for the emperor's eyes "encouraged precision in moral, social and political categories, but it did not motivate an equal fastidiousness with regard to the foundations of knowledge"; and at the same time, in China, "overt, reciprocal polemic of a kind that might have pushed epistemological problems to the fore was rare".

As Barnes points out, and apparently even the authors acknowledge, when it comes to complex series of human events stretching over centuries history is rarely so simple that a single explanation will explain a difference in outcomes. There was competition in China by scholars to get funding by noble men. Chinese scholars did have incentives to argue. But perhaps not just bureaucreacy but culture as well may have discouraged in-your-face argument. Or did bureaucracy of the imperial Chinese sort create the culture that discouraged public debate in the first place?

Other factors could have been at work as well. Picture a clever useful idea appearing by chance in one culture and not another and assume that considerable barriers existed to the transmission of ideas between the cultures. That idea could have stimulated the development of still more ideas from it. The two cultures would then diverge because of a single germinating idea that occurred in only one of them. This is analogous to how a mutation in one isolated population of a species can cause that population to gradually take a different path in pursuing environmental niches and therefore to experience selective pressures in an entirely different way and therefore to develop in a different direction.

It would be interesting to know how many Greek versus Chinese thinkers were self-supporting. In Greece was there a bigger class that was not part of a formal bureaucracy and yet which did not need to work? Was that class more likely to be city dwellers where its members could interact with each other more than would have been the case with affluent farmers? Also, even when the support in Greece came from politically powerful people did the Greek city-state system create less uniformity of thought than the top-down centralized Chinese bureaucracy? After all, one of the arguments made in the debates to explain the rise of the West is that the split of Europe into many competing states led to more competition between states and greater likelihood that any invention or development would find support in at least one state. So maybe competing political autonomous units explain part of the Greek advantage.

Also, how far back did the Chinese imperial system of testing for entrance into the bureaucracy extend? To the extent that learning and mastering an existing standardardized body of knowledge (and I shudder at the thought of the trend toward a standardized US national curriculum) is the route to advancement this would tend to pull people away from engaging in original thought. New ideas do not help one pass tests and advance up the test-based ladder.

Another possible explanation for a difference in Greek and Chinese thought pattern is the nature of the language. See my FuturePundit post Mandarin Language Uses More Of The Brain Than English. If language uses part of the brain that would otherwise be available for other purposes it must have the effect of draining off brain power from those other uses. Though that might have led to natural selection to increase brain capacity to support the demands of the language. Still, if, compared to another language some language uses a different part of the brain it might cause people to conceptualize the world in a different manner.

Update Also see BrainySmurf Adam Morris on this topic. I have doubts about the idea that more unified periods of Greek history produced more ideas. The unity of the Athenian Empire led into the war with Sparta. There do not strike me as having been distinct periods of strife and unity in ancient Greek history. Also, the other city-states that had to align with Athens probably internally did not force their intellectuals to toe the Athenian line in public discourse. But I'm just guessing on that one.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 12 09:32 AM  History Of Knowledge
Entry Permalink | Comments(12)
2003 November 11 Tuesday
CIA: North Korea Has Validated Working Nuclear Weapons

The CIA says North Korea has working nukes. The CIA presented this assessment as a response to questions raised at a hearing of Congress on 2003 February 11. The assessment is part of a document entitled "Questions for the Record from the Worldwide Threat Hearing" and was provided in an unclassified response in August 2003 to the US Senate Intelligence Committee. The relevant section is in a document now on the Federation of American Scientists website and is found on page 19 of this PDF file.

We assess that North Korea has produced one or two simple fission-type nuclear weapons and has validated the designs without conducting yield-producing nuclear tests. Press reports indicate North Korea has been conducting nuclear-weapons related high explosive tests since the 1980s in order to validate its weapons design(s). With such tests, we assess North Korea would not require nuclear tests to validate simple fission weapons.

There is no information to suggest that North Korea has conducted a successful nuclear test to date.

The North's admission to US officials last year that it is pursuing an uranium enrichment program and public statements asserting the right to have nuclear weapons suggest the Kim Chong-il regime is prepared to further escalate tensions and heighten regional fears in a bid to press Washington to negotiate with Pyongyang on its terms. If North Korea decided to escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula, conducting a nuclear test would be one option. A test would demonstrate to the world the North's status as a nuclear-capable state and signal Kim's perception that building a nuclear stockpile will strengthen his regime's international standing and security posture.

...

A North Korean decision to conduct a nuclear test would entail risks for Pyongyang of precipitating an international backlash and further isolation. Pyongyang at this point appears to view ambiguity regarding its nuclear capabilities as providing a tactical advantage.

The FAS provides some background on where this assessment comes from.

That CIA assessment, which slightly amplifies past public statements, appears in a new set of intelligence agency replies to "questions for the record" (QFRs) submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee following this year's annual hearing on the "worldwide threat."

Such QFRs are often overlooked because they are provided to Congress months after the hearing that prompted them, and they are made public months after that. But given the relative sparsity of unclassified intelligence threat assessments, they are usually worth reading.

North Korea may have the ability to deliver these nuclear weapons.

David Albright, a physicist who is president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said the CIA statement suggested a belief the North had already "weaponized" a nuclear device that could be dropped from a plane or delivered by missile.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and CIA do not expect North Korea to collapse from within.

In their political analyses, the American intelligence agencies said the government of Kim Jong Il appears unlikely to crumble from within, although they differed on who would succeed Kim if he died.

Well, given that South Korea and China are propping it up and the United States is not trying all that hard to reach the North Korean people with information about the outside world this seems a reasonable assessment. Why the Bush Administration doesn't try much harder to reach the North Koreans with information about the outside world is beyond me. Also, I would be very curious to know by what political calculations the Bushies have reached the conclusion that it is not worth trying to lean on the South Koreans and Chinese to cut off aid to North Korea.

The United States does not now have a strategy for dealing with the developing threat from North Korea that has a good chance of succeeding. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is rapidly becoming a dead letter. China and South Korea are protecting the North Korean regime.

South Korea seems intent upon continuing with its appeasement strategy come what may. The biggest unknown in how the events with North Korea will play out is the thinking of China's top leaders. Are the Chinese changing their minds about their support for North Korea?

Writing for Japan Today Devon Rowcliffe sees North Korean-Chinese ties as being in jeopardy.

In January of this year, when Pyongyang withdrew from the non-proliferation treaty, Beijing sent a senior official to the North to scorn the country, and briefly stopped oil shipments in February. Energy shipments were again suspended in March in an effort to push North Korea into multilateral talks with the U.S.

By contrast, writing for Asian Times Jaewoo Choo sees North Korea-China ties as firm.

However, what we should not overlook is the true purpose of Wu's visit to North Korea. There were many other agendas at the meeting. This can be inferred from the composition of Wu's delegation, and from the statement he made at the conclusion of his meeting with Kim. The delegation comprised no fewer than seven vice-ministerial officials ranging from political and foreign affairs to economic and defense ministers.

My guess is that it is wishful thinking to believe that China will firmly intervene to either take away North Korea's nuclear weapons or to bring down the regime. If the Chinese leaders do decide based on their own internal deliberations to intervene then it is possible they will eliminate the threat posed by North Korea. But it seems unreasonable to expect this and US policy can not count on it.

Since North-South trade on the Korean peninsula is rapidly rising the economic pressure on North Korea may be getting no more intense and may actually be lifting. If the US was to organize a complete embargo on trade and aid to North Korea from all countries other than China and South Korea then the US might be able to apply enough pressure to bring down the Pyongyang regime. But as South Korea trade with the North increases the potential impact of an embargo by other countries will gradually decline. Bush Administration policy makers will find the policy tools at their disposal will become weaker with time. The Bushies look set to fail in their policy toward North Korea and may already have passed beyond the point where success is possible. North Korea seems likely to continue to be a source of nuclear weapons technology for Middle Eastern governments and could potentially become a source nuclear weapons materials and perhaps even complete working bombs.

Update: For a good latest collection of links to recent goings-on related to North Korea see Robert "Marmot" Koehler's Winds of Change Eyes On Korea post. Robert also has his own blog Marmot's Hole which he writes from deep within enemy territory of Kwangju South Korea.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 11 11:40 AM  Korea
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2003 November 10 Monday
US, Pakistani Officials Meet Over Madrassah Schools Issue

Pakistan's Federal Education Minister Zubaida Jalal has just made a visit to Washington DC to meet with many top Bush Administration officials including Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice along with members of Congress. The Washington Times has the best coverage of her visit.

Mrs. Jalal said that only 2 percent to 3 percent of the madrassas pose political problems, not so much for their Islamic-centered programs but because they are used as recruiting centers for the fundamentalist groups that finance them.

The education minister estimated that there were some 15,000 to 20,000 madrassas across the country — only about half of which are even registered with the Islamic educational foundations. The total number of students is about 1.5 million.

The Pakistanis don't have enough money to move all the kids out of religious schools. Plus, the government doesn't want to anger all the religious leaders by doing so. Therefore expect a slow rate of change.

In a measure of the seriousness with which the Bush Administration takes the Madrassah schools as recruiting grounds for terrorists when Mrs. Jalal arrived at the Pentagon she got an honor guard and escort by Paul Wolfowitz. Mrs. Jalal expects changes to Pakistani education to come only very slowly.

"I briefed them about the committed measures being made by Pakistan to extend quality education, with stress on self-generating income and element of jobs." Pakistan Ambassador, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi was also present. Of the targets, she said "no miracle of instant changes could be claimed, while the objective is to make a positive dent in our educational system to make it skill and job-oriented, modern and moderate."

"In any case, the target is the next 10 to 15 years, if we are talking of mindset and change of attitude, it could be visible after as many years, and not within two to three years. Basically, it is the next generation we are talking about." "The target child is one who enters school or madressah today."

The article is not clear on the time-table but it sounds like the Bush Administration has promised $600 million in US aid for changing education in Pakistan.

Jalal also lobbied for more student visas to America for Pakistani students.

...during her recent meetings with senior US officials she apprised them of the difficulties Pakistani nationals, particularly those between 18 and 45 years, were facing with respect to their visa applications. The education minister said the US officials assured her that they were working on proposals to allow more flexibility to Pakistani nationals.

Sounds like the US officials are going to increase the number of student visas from Pakistan in order to give something to the Pakistanis in exchange for schools reform.

Half of all Pakistani students do not go beyond primary school.

The Prime Minister appreciated the vision of Education Sector Reforms (ESR) 2001-05 and called for its implementation in true letter and spirit. The Minister for Education Zubaida Jalal in her presentation said that the ESR envisages increase in literacy level from 40% to 60%, gross primary enrolment from 84% to 100%, net primary enrolment from 66% to 76%, middle enrolment from 47.5% to 55%, secondary enrolment from 29.5% to 40% and higher education from 2.6% to 5%.

If secondary enrollment is the equivalent of American high schools and middle enrollment is like junior high then it sounds like in Pakistan most kids do not even attend junior high schools for 7th or 8th grade. Pakistan's education system sounds like it is as backward as Mexico's.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 10 04:21 PM  Reconstruction and Reformation
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2003 November 09 Sunday
Jim Hoagland: Sunnis In Iraq See Democracy As A Threat

Jim Hoagland argues that fear of eventual Shiite majority rule drives Sunni Arabs to oppose US forces in Iraq.

But for the Sunni areas that seem to have willingly become the sea in which the insurgent fish swim, democracy is a code word for domination by the country's Shiite majority. The Sunnis fear that democratic elections would enable the Shiites to do unto them as they did unto the Shiites under their co-religionist, the dictator Saddam Hussein.

The United States has failed thus far to develop a strategy that convinces them otherwise and splits the Sunni population from the killers based among them

Hoagland says that the Sunnis look at the prospects for democracy under majority Shiite (approximately 60% of the population of Iraq is Shia Arab by some estimates) rule and ask a very simple basic question: What is in it for us? Well, to be fair to the Sunnis: Not much! Does anyone really expect the twenty percent of Iraq's population who are Sunnis to have much say in a democratically elected government? It is hard to see how that can be accomplished without creating some contorted decision-making process that gives veto power to the Sunnis and the Kurds.

Modest proposal: Split Iraq. Admit that Humpty Dumpty can't be put back on the wall unless a brutal strongman rules Iraq and that a brutal strongman is not in US interests or in Iraqi interests.

A split would leave the oil in the hands of the two new nations ruled by the Kurds and the Shias. Sunni Islamic fundamentalists would lack the money needed to create the kinds of problems the Wahhabi Sunnis cause with their control of Saudi Arabian oil fields (which mostly lie in a province which is, btw, probably majority Shia). The long-suffering Kurds would get a country of their own and there'd be considerable justice in righting the wrongs of their historical experience.

One big complication would come from any proposal to split Iraq: What to do with Baghdad? Whether it gets placed on the Sunni or the Shia side of the border a large fraction of its population would be placed under rule of a majority of the other sect of Islam.

Update: One other point about Iraq: If Donald Sensing is correct then the US occupation authorities are doing a terrible job in using radio and TV broadcasts to reach the Iraqi people with their version of why they are there and what they are doing. Given the number of ways that the Bush Administration has been lame in its handling of the Iraq situation the information that Sensing relays seems at least plausible.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 09 05:54 PM  Mideast Iraq Democracy Failure
Entry Permalink | Comments(5)
Mexican Immigrants To US Have 8th Grade Educations

The PBS Think Tank show hosted by Ben Wattenberg recently had Harvard labor economist George Borjas and libertarian Daniel Griswold as guests to discuss immigration policy.

George Borjas, Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and author of Heaven's Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy.

And...

Dan Griswold, associate director of the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies and author of the study Willing Workers: Fixing the Problem of Illegal Mexican Migration to the United States.

The Mexicans who are still in Mexico are even less educated than the ones who immigrate to the United States!

GRISWOLD: You know, I just - first on Mexico just to clear something up. It's not like we're getting the - the dredges of Mexicans...the average Mexican who comes here is better educated than the Mexicans who stay home. The average Mexican has about five years of education. The average Mexican immigrant - legal and illegal - has about eight. So we are getting the betted educated Mexicans.

Griswold sees all the money that Mexicans send home to Mexico in a positive light.

But you're right, the remittances. Mexico remittances are now their number three foreign exchange earner behind oil and tourism. And it's the best kinda foreign aid. It goes directly to families and to community projects. This is something - a very important component of immigration that we shouldn't overlook.

But money sent to Mexico is money not spent here on goods and services that give Americans jobs. If you are libertarian with little nationalistic loyalties this may not matter. But if you care more about your own fellow citizens and place a much higher value on the health of your own economy then it should matter and it should matter a great deal.

George Borjas explodes the myth that immigrants to jobs that Americans do not want to do.

BORJAS: This is an argument that you often hear, especially that economists make about how these people don't wanna take these kinds of jobs. The way it usually takes place is the following. Immigrants do jobs natives don't wanna do. I think the correct statement is immigrants do jobs natives don't wanna at the going wage. Let me give you a little anecdote. I used to live in California. Every person mows lawns in Southern California's Mexican. Totally legal. Low skill and clearly leads to a lot of cheap labor for people who wanna hire, you know, people who - who - who mow lawns. And the lawns are very nice in southern California. I moved to Boston. Very few Mexicans in Boston. Nevertheless the lawns are still green. If people want - if people want those kinds of services they will pay for it. So it's true. It is certainly true that immigrants do particular kinds of jobs but is at the expense of somebody else in some sense. Somebody's paying for the fact that we now have an increased supply of low-wage labor and it happens to be low-wage workers.

In the face of widespread denial by immigration advocates that immigration exacts any costs in the job market from native Americans Borjas has published economic research papers showing that increased supply really does lower prices in the labor market. It demonstrates the extent of the ideological nature of the arguments for mass low skilled immigration that Borjas even has to take the trouble to demonstrate the obvious. Labor markets are not immune to the law of supply and demand. Increase supply and prices will drop while the quantity used will increase. But the value created by each individual unit of used labor will decline - especially for the least skilled labor.

There's another factor here that Borjas doesn't bring up: Necessity is the mother of invention. Stop letting in large amounts of unskilled workers from Latin America and employers will react to the rising wages for less skilled work by purchasing capital equipment, developing processes, and developing technologies that reduce the need for labor. Cheap labor makes business managers lazier and less innovative. They spend more time managing workers and less time improving how they do things. Libertarians who are advocates of innovation and technological advance ought to take note that by favoring large scale low skilled immigration they are supporting policies that provide disincentives for industrial advance.

Griswold goes on to argue that the number of low skilled jobs is going to grow by millions in the coming decade and he sees immigration as necessary to fill those jobs. But those jobs do not have to be created and those jobs will pay low wages if they are created. Why would we import millions of people to do these low wages who will use more in social services, medical care, crime (and crime has victims who suffer in ways that don't show up in economic models), police, courts, prisons, pollution, and other costs than they pay in taxes? Also, since when did big "L" Libertarians come to see an economy with huge numbers of low-skilled and low wage jobs as a good thing? There was a time when Americans were very proud of the high wages of their lower skilled factory workers and other manual laborers. Now big "L" Libertarians have become enthusiastic cheerleaders for an ever growing lower class.

Griswold defends amnesty combined with a worker permit system.

GRISWOLD: Yes. I think the alternative's unacceptable. Are we gonna round up eight million people and deport them at tremendous human cost, tremendous economic cost, large sectors of the - important sectors of the U.S. economy would be devastated if we did this. Are we gonna continue to limp along with the status quo of eight million people living in a legal twilight zone? No, we have to come up with some mechanism to recognize reality, give these people documents. I don't believe in giving them green-cards, but give them some kind of legal paper. The mistake we made in the '80s was well, we granted this amnesty we didn't create any legal channel for people to come here illegally and the bathtub just started filling up again with the illegals. I'm for creating that legal channel.

Griswold is greatly exaggerating the costs of putting an end to the presence of millions of illegal aliens. First of all, the deportation of illegals could be done gradually in order to minimize the impact on the economy. Second, one way to reduce the number of illegals would be to make it harder to enter the country illegally. Given what illegals cost us the cost of a barrier on the border with Mexico would be more than offset by the reduction in costs to government for services.

A fact that deserves to be more widely known is that the pro-immigration lobby and pro-immigration politicans have effectively sabotaged all low cost effective means of cutting down on the number of illegal immigrants and immigration law violations. Any policy innovation that turns out to work well gets undermined. This has happened repeatedly. Cheap ways to cut back on illegal immigration are available and more could be developed - but only if the political elites want this to happen.

Griswold argues repeatedly that there are jobs that Americans won't do and that therefore low skilled immigrants are needed to do them.

GRISWOLD: I would bring our immigration law more into conformity with the realities of American life. Uh, yes I would open up some more opportunities for high-skilled workers to come in in the technology sector and elsewhere but I would create a legal channel for low- skilled workers to come into this country...most of them want to come in temporarily, but that's why we have this illegal immigration problem. There's a fundamental mismatch between our - our immigration laws are colliding with reality and reality is winning and I would make the immigration laws more reflect reality that there's a continuing demand for low-skilled workers. The pool of Americans happy with taking those jobs continues to shrink immeasurably.

Mr. Griswold, I have a question for you: in the parts of the country where there are still few illegal immigrants how does the trash get collected or how do restaurants find people to work as dishwashers? The answer is simple: the jobs pay more. The jobs do not pay so much more that the trash goes uncollected and the roads and houses do not fall into disrepair. Businesses get cleaned. Cars are repaired. The market adjusts. Also, in many of those parts of the country the natives are not fleeing the way they are fleeing California by the millions.

When it comes to arguing with libertarians about immigration one has to continually state that the labor markets really are markets. There is no absolute need for labor. There are supply curves and demand curves and prices at which the market matches up supply and demand. Also, market prices do not embody all costs. This is demonstrated most visibly with pollution. If an industry business pollutes and does not pay for the costs caused by its pollution then the supply curve of that industry does not accurately represent the real costs of providing the goods it produces. Such is the case with immigration. There are costs that do not show up in the price of labor. We are paying those costs when we pay taxes or deal with the consequences of crime comitted against us or against people we care about or when we fear to go some place that previously was considered safe. The native Californians who move out of state (and there are now more US citizens leaving Californian than entering it) because of the housing price pressures and taxes caused by immigration are paying a cost that does not show up in the market price for labor.

Update: The economic strategy of the US ought to be to make its entire economy an high value added operation with the amount of value added by all categories of workers rising continuously. Jobs that are worth only $6 or $7 per hour are not creating a lot of added value. We should not feed the economy with large numbers of low skilled immigrants because we shouldn't be trying to encourage the growth of low valued added industries. Our immigration policy should be oriented toward making the United States the leader in as many high value added industries as possible.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 09 11:33 AM  Immigration Dumbing Down
Entry Permalink | Comments(81)
2003 November 07 Friday
Foreign Employment Rises In US As Native Employment Declines

The Center for Immigration Studies has an astouding new study out about how the number of foreigners employed in the US rose even as native employment declined and percentage of foreigners unemployed rose.

  • Since 2000, 2.3 million new immigrant workers (legal and illegal) have arrived in the United States — almost exactly the same as the 2.2 million who arrived during the three years prior to 2000, despite dramatic change in economic conditions.
  • At the state level, there seems to be no clear relationship between economic conditions and trends in immigration. Immigration levels have matched or exceeded the pace of the late 1990s in Texas, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, Arizona, Washington, North Carolina, Georgia, and New York — even as all these states experienced a significant increase in unemployment.
  • Nationally, about half (1.2 million) of those who arrived in each three-year time period (1997-2000 and 2000-2003) are estimated to be illegal aliens. These figures are only for those in the workforce who were captured in Census Bureau data.
  • Looking only at the net increase in employment, the number of foreign-born adults (legal and illegal) holding a job has grown 1.7 million since 2000, while among natives the number working fell by 800,000.
  • Although the number of foreign-born adults holding a job has increased since 2000, the number unemployed also increased, by 600,000, and unemployment rose among the foreign born from 4.9 to 7.4 percent.
  • It is the very rapid growth in the foreign-born population that makes it possible for the number of immigrants holding jobs and the number unemployed to increase at the same time.

As the CIS folks point out, this makes the argument that the US economy needs these foreign workers into something of a joke.

The current economic slowdown represents a real-world test of the often-made argument that immigration is primarily driven by economic need in the United States. The fact that immigration has not slowed significantly since 2000, even though unemployment has increased significantly, indicates that immigration levels do not simply reflect demand for labor in this country. Rather, immigration is a complex process driven by a variety of factors, many of which have little to do with prevailing economic conditions in the United States. The idea that record levels of immigration in the 1990s were caused by a strong economy is a gross oversimplification and perhaps not even very helpful in understanding immigration.

Poor foreigners come here because they make less in their home countries, are willing to work for less than the native born Americans, and because they want the better welfare and medical benefits they can get here that the rest of us pay for. Businesses want the cheaper labor. Democratic Party politicians want them because when the immigrants (especially the less skiled ones) become citizens the vast majority will vote Democrat. Ideological big "L" Libertarians want them because the big "L" Libertarians are running a really defective model in their minds of human nature and think everyone else would think like they do if only they could be made to understand. Never mind the empirical evidence that massive amounts of unskilled immigration lead to bigger government. Ideology trumps evidence when one is a firm believer. Still others are sold on the beautiful myth that immigration of all kinds helped make America great and would just as soon not take off their rose-colored glasses and look closely at the ugly details.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 07 03:48 PM  Immigration Economics
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Munich Jewish Leader Confused About Religion And Totalitarianism

Charlotte Knobloch is very confused.

In Germany, the number of Jewish immigrants, mainly from Eastern Europe, has tripled in the last 10 years, corresponding to a backlash against anti-Semitism, Charlotte Knobloch, leader of Munich's Jewish community, told the gathering.

Referring to the debate over Europe's new constitution, Knobloch called reference to God ``essential to avoid the rebirth of totalitarian regimes.''

Ms. Knobloch is looking backward toward the 20th century when totalitarian regimes were almost all atheistic and hostile toward religions. The totalitarian impulse of today flows mostly from religious fundamentalists who see God as their source of legitimacy to justify harsh totalitarian rule. Did reference to God inspire the Taliban to make Afghanistan a tolerant free place? No, of course not. The opposite is the case.

Secular ideologies have no monopoly on causing repressive political systems.

Ms. Knobloch would do better to pay attention to Mark Steyn and worry less about constitutions and more about demographics.

Given the rate of Islamic immigration to Europe, those anti-Israeli numbers are heading in only one direction. At present demographic rates, by 2020 the majority of children in Holland — i.e., the population under 18 — will be Muslim. What do you figure that 74 per cent will be up to by then? Eighty-five per cent? Ninety-six per cent? If Americans think it’s difficult getting the Continentals on side now, wait another decade. In that sense, the Israelis are the canaries in the coalmine.

Oh come on Mark, tell us what you really think:

Europe is dying. As I’ve pointed out here before, it can’t square rising welfare costs, a collapsed birthrate and a manpower dependent on the world’s least skilled, least assimilable immigrants.

Suggestion to Dutch Jews: Time to move.

Suggestion to Mark Steyn and to all Americans: Start paying attention to our own dismal demographics of massive unskilled immigration and plunging reproduction of the most sharp and educated. Austin Minnesota is our future.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 07 03:07 PM  Religion Secular Ideologies
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Will North Korea Collapse Or Be Propped Up By Weapons Deal?

Lots of financial analysts think the collapse of the Norht Korean regime is inevitable.

John Chambers, managing director of sovereign ratings at Standard & Poor's, said the inevitable economic collapse could cost South Korea up to 300 percent of its annual gross domestic product.

...

Chambers told CNN Tuesday the North's collapse was "ineluctable". On timing, he said it could be soon or in the medium time. Either way, it would cost the South "dearly".

The question is whether enough aid and trade to prop up the regime is still getting thru.

"The North is still on the receiving end of donated food from China, Japan, the USA and South Korea," said Mr Morris.

"A sharp reduction in the assistance it is getting either from the West or from China... could push them over the edge," Mr Chambers predicted.

Standard & Poor's director for South Korea agrees with his boss.

"North Korea's economy cannot be sustained in its current state and we think it is highly likely to collapse," said Choi Jung-Tai, the agency's director for South Korea, adding: "When is uncertain."

In a sign of how the money men are looking at Korea they have even moved on from talking about the inevitability of the Pyongyang regime's collapse to bickering about the financially important question of how expensive the aftermath will turn out to be for South Korea. Barclays Capital says the Standard & Poor's cost estimate for reunification is too high.

``The 300 percent of South Korea�s GDP needed for reunification claimed by S&P would represent 75 times the North�s GDP. There is no example in the history of economic development of a country absorbing the equivalent of several hundred times of its GDP in external aid,� Barclays said in a report.

This depends on how one defines "cost". When South Korean corporations invest in factories in the post-collapse north will that be considered a cost or an investment? Also, the size of the cost depends on how the South Koreans handle it. They could rapidly build gold-plated infrastructure for North Korea or they could take a more parsimonious approach and let the growth of the post-collapse North Korean economy to provide a lot of the revenue for upgrading housing, medical faciltiies, roads, bridges, and so on.

So is the collapse of the North Korean regime inevitable? Kim Jong Il has two rays of hope. The first is that South Korea and China continue to send him aid and engage in trade. If Kevin of Incestuous Amplification is correct then the second ray of hope may turn out to be that the Bush Administration may wuss out and make a deal with North Korea for a pretty much unverifiable arms control agreement.

So here's the sequence. US presents evidence of a uranium-enrichment program to North Korea. North Korea admits having such a program. US stops oil shipments based on that program's existence breaking the terms of the 94 Agreed Framework. North Korea declares the Framework dead, kicks out inspectors, breaks the seals on their plutonium, and begins processing some or all of that plutonium. US government tries for a year to put economic pressure on North Korea, repeatedly citing the danger of their out-in-the-open plutonium program and their hidden uranium program as the basis for stopping this growing threat.

Now, via the State Department and intelligence official quoted in the USA today article, we're hearing that the CIA is not certain that a uranium enrichment plant even exists, and that North Korean ineptitude has slowed the overall program to a point of it not being as dangerous as the intel previously pointed to.

Click thru and read all the evidence that Kevin points to as signs of a climb-down on the part of the Bush Administration. He thinks the Bushies are preparing to sign a lame deal with Kim Jong Il. This would give the regime more years of life because such a deal would likely come with big piles of cash to help prop up Kim Jong Il's evil regime.

The uncertainty expressed by the CIA about the state of the North Korean nuclear weapons program has to be considered in light of previous inaccurate assessments. The advanced state of Saddam's nuclear program in the aftermath of Gulf War I was quite a surprise to US intelligence agencies. At the same time, Saddam acted like his weapons programs were further along in advance of Gulf War II than any evidence so far has shown to be the case. Also, the rate of advance of Pakistan's nuclear program surprised at least some analysts when Pakistan demonstrated the ability to explode a nuclear bomb in 1998. Since Gulf War II's aftermath is the less-than-expected amount of evidence for Iraqi weapons programs and the resulting criticism of US intelligence agencies performance causing the CIA to now act in a mode of being more afraid to overestimate than to underestimate the state of a secretive nuclear weapons development program? Also, just how much data do they have to base any estimate upon?

Keep in mind the nature of the North Korean regime.

Pregnant North Korean refugees repatriated after being rounded up in China have their babies forcibly aborted or killed after birth, according to a report that adds more horror to what is known of the Stalinist state's gulags.

An unverifiable US deal with North Korea would leave the regime firmly in control of its suffering people with the United States and other countries serving basically as enablers of that suffering. As it stands now both South Korea and China are firmly in the category of countries willing to serve as enablers of a horrible totalitarian regime. Will the United States join them?

Still, there are hopeful signs that a lame deal won't be signed any time soon. The organization tasked with building a $4.6 billion dollar nuclear reactor project for North Korea as part of the 1994 Frameworld Accord, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), has decided to suspend work on the project.

- The United States won support from key allies Wednesday to halt construction of two nuclear power plants in North Korea for at least a year because of the communist state's atomic weapons program.

North Korea is threatening to seize the uncompleted project and not to allow construction equipment to be removed.

North Korea threatened yesterday to seize the property of an international consortium that has been developing two light-water nuclear reactors on the country's east coast in reaction to an announcement that the project would be suspended for one year.

North Korea is even threatening to retaliate by refusing to participate in 6 party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program and other issues in dispute. Well, we can surely hope they will show the determination to follow thru on all these threats.

To be fair to Mr. Bush, the biggest problem the United States faces is that, as Kevin points out, South Korea and China keep propping up North Korea. The rapidly rising trade between South Korea and North Korea is especially infuriating. The United States ought to pull its troops out of South Korea and stop pretending that South Korea is an ally. If we fail to stop North Korea it will be because of South Korea and China. But we at least should not join those countries in propping up a regime that is both a threat and that is so terrible to its own people.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 07 03:02 PM  Korea
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
Noah Millman To Pollyannas: Take Rebuilding Of Iraq Seriously

Noah Millman of Gideon's Blog refers back to a post he made on October 18, 2002 on the difficulties of governing post-war Iraq in a post he has just made on October 29, 2003 expressing his frustration with Pollyanna war enthusiasts who are not taking the scale of the problems in Iraq seriously.

Now, I don't begrudge the pollyannas their optimism. This country was built on optimism. What drives me nuts, though, is stuff like this piece by Bernard Lewis and James Woolsey saying that maybe we should bring back the Hashemites to establish a more legitimate order in Iraq.

I don't remember precisely where Lewis stood before the war, though I know he was supportive generally. But I'm quite sure that Woolsey was one of the pollyannas, a big booster of Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, the whole nine yards. Now he's boosting the idea of a Hashemite restoration. But if I recall correctly, one of the main *opponents* of bringing in a Hashemite was the Ahmad Chalabi. I believe he articulated the view that to restore the Hashemites would be a betrayal that would justly result in Iraqi resistance to the American occupation.

I'm not asking Woolsey to say, "sorry, I was wrong." I don't even know if his new angle is right; I can think of a few problems with the idea of bringing back the monarchy. I am, however, asking him - and Richard Perle, and the rest of the gung-ho crowd - to start taking this job seriously and stop acting like rebuilding Iraq is something we can make up as we go along. If we thought the way to go was to restore the Hashemite monarchy, we needed to lay the groundwork a long while ago. We needed to make that clear before we went in, before we made anyone any promises, before we threw our lot in with the INC and before we rebuffed Abdullah of Jordan's uncle (the likely candidate for the job of King of Iraq). We can't just pull a switcheroo like this. We're not founding an internet company here that can rebrand every six months with no one left the wiser. We are in no danger of losing Iraq due to excessive casualties. If we are in danger of losing Iraq, it's because sometimes we seem to be going about this like a bunch of amateurs.

Noah is right. To take this latest proposal as an example, there is something frivolous to the notion of restoring the Hashemite throne in Iraq. Lewis and Woolsey can find nothing more important to propose? How about teaching most of the US soldiers in Iraq or preparing to deploy to Iraq how to speak Arabic so that they can better collect information and develop better relations with the locals? And why wasn't that done before the invasion? How about scaling up the size of the intelligence effort investigating the resistance? How about developing a secular school system and finding ways to subtlely discourage cousin marriage? Other ideas could be proposed and you can find more in my pre-war post-war archives. But I despair of ever seeing them adopted.

For the record, Noah was not the only one who saw in advance that reconstruction of Iraq would be very difficult. See, for instance, my post of October 16, 2002: Hardest Part Of Iraq War Is Reconstruction and my October 18, 2002 post Pessimists on Muslim Democracy. Also see from January 15, 2003: Stanley Kurtz: After the War . I still do not see clear signs that the believers in the universal appeal of liberal democracy have yet figured out the size of the gap between their dreams and reality.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 07 12:52 PM  Mideast Iraq
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Illegal Immigration Comes To Austin Minnesota

George Dahl and Frosty Wooldridge of Austin, Minnesota, population 22,000, describe what a large wave of illegal immigration is doing to a small town in Minnesota.

But ten years ago, something happened in Austin. The meat packing plants began transporting illegal aliens from Texas to work in the plants around Austin. Why? To increase profits. At first, it didn’t mean much because the illegal aliens worked at odd jobs. They didn’t complain because they feared being deported. Their numbers were so small that the regular workers didn’t take notice.

That changed as the years passed. As ten illegals turned into 100 and then into 1000, and now over 3,000, Austin, Minnesota suffers accelerating problems. Once Austin kids skipped to school to learn their ABC’s. Today, they experience several foreign languages they can’t understand. At first, the teachers had the top kids in the class try to teach the ‘new’ kids how to speak English. But as the food processing plants kept importing more workers and more kids, the teachers suffered the onslaught. Today, classroom teachers must deal with languages, head lice, hepatitis and the threat of tuberculosis because illegal aliens and their children bypass health screening at the border. Last year, eight police officers in Austin tested positive for tuberculosis.

George W. Bush doesn't care. The United States Senate so much does not care it is working on a plan to allow illegal aliens pay in-state college tuition and for a half million illegal alien agricultural workers to to be given legal residency. The US Congress' idea of immigration reform is another large scale amnesty.

Speed citizenship for immigrants in the armed forces.

Give work permits to illegal immigrants who pay taxes and study English.

Legalize tens of thousands of high school students, some of whom discover only when applying for college financial aid that their parents brought them here illegally.

Replete with an Orwellian title, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2003 is a nightmare for the larger public. But it is seen by sponsor Orrin Hatch and other Senate Republicans as a way to bid for the Hispanic vote while simultaneously catering to business constituencies that want ever cheaper labor without the inconvenience of having to relocate to India. That the act does not serve the interests of the public is really irrelevant in the minds of many Senators as the Republican politicians expect their voters to stick with them given that the other choice is the Democrats who are even more pro-unskilled immigration. The Democrats correctly understand that the less skilled and lower wage Hispanic voters are going to reliably continue to vote overwhelmingly for the Donkey for many decades to come. The Republicans are deluding themselves while shafting a substantial portion of their base and the larger public.

The liberal press coverage of the Nightmare Act is of course overwhelmingly positive as demonstrated above. It is full of sob stories of people who will be benefitted if they can become legal because then they can pay less for college (since the taxpayers will pay more), get access to government subsidies for housing (courtesy of the taxpayers), and get more access to medical care and other social services (again, guess who pays).

Racial lobbyist organization National Council of La Raza (La Raza means "The Race") president Raul Yzaguirre thinks this is not a partisan piece of legislation.

''Passage of the Dream Act is not a partisan issue and should be a priority for Congress,'' said Raul Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza, one of the many groups lobbying in support of the bill. ``It unleashes the vast potential of thousands of young students.''

Who is he kidding? Or, wait, maybe he is right. If both the Democratic and Republican Parties are willing to betray the American public then betrayal is not a partisan issue.

Providing support for US Senate efforts to shaft the American public Mexican President Vicente Fox and other officials of the Mexican government put in a lot of time lobbying in the United States.

MEXICO CITY - Mexican President Vicente Fox begins a three-day tour of U.S. border states Tuesday in a visit he said Monday he hoped would encourage discussion of immigration issues

Fox claims that his Mexican workers are incredibly valuable. If that is the case then why can't his economy find higher paying jobs for them to do? Why is he so eager to ship them up here? It saves him money. His workers send some money back to the US and they use US government services instead of Mexican government services. When someone tries really hard to tell you something is beneficial for you that ought to be a warning sign that it isn't.

Update: Here's another example of press bias on illegal immigration.

Under federal law, all public colleges and universities, including community colleges, must charge immigrants who are not legal residents the higher out-of-state tuition rate.

At Miami Dade College, that means students must pay $197.50 per credit compared to the $56.50 rate for in-state students. College officials say there are about 264 undocumented students paying the higher tuition.

Note the Orwellian terminology. Undocumented? What if we documented the fact that each illegal is not supposed to be here? Would they still be undocumented? Some of the "undocumented" illegal aliens have driver's licenses that they have obtained illegally. Of course, in California illegals can now get driver's licenses. So they have identity documents that establish who they are. Or what about illegals who have passports from their countries of origin, how are they "undocumented"? After all, they have documents that demonstrate their identity. It is just that their presence in the United States is illegal. The liberal press and politicians have shifted en masse to calling illegals undocumented.

US Republican Senators want to stick us with higher cost government.

"The National Research Council study in 1997 concluded that each native household in California was paying $1,178 a year in state and local taxes to cover services used by immigrant (legal and illegal) households," writes Fred Dickey in an exposé for the Los Angeles Times.

"Once transfer payments like welfare, education and health care are factored in, immigration becomes a net cost," confirms Ed Rubenstein, a public-policy statistician and president of ESR Research Economic Consultants. "California immigrants now receive about $9.3 billion more in state expenditures than they pay in state taxes. ...

The Republican Party's leader are willing to force the rest of us to pay more in taxes, lower wages, crime, crowding, higher housing prices, and pollution as long as they can pursue the Hispanic vote.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 07 08:58 AM  Immigration Societal Decay
Entry Permalink | Comments(16)
2003 November 06 Thursday
China Energy Consumption Growth Complicates Anti-Terrorist Efforts

China's energy consumption is growing rapidly and Chinese economic growth can be expected to raise total world demand and, therefore, world prices for oil for many years to come. This is bad news for US attempts to defend itself against Islamic terrorism and the spread of fundamentalist Islam.

Those who are skeptical about the statistics on the rate of growth of China's economy need look no further than rising Chinese energy consumption figures for a good hard measure of economic activity.

From 1989 to 1996 the installed capacity and electricity generation rose by 9.3 and 9.2 percent respectively. By the end of 2001, the installed capacity had risen from 57.12 million KWh in 1978 to 338.61 million KWh (including 2.1 million KWh nuclear power), and the electricity generation grow from 1978's 256.6 billion KWh to 1483.9 billion KWh (including 17.5 billion KWh nuclear power). Now both China's installed capacity and electricity generation have leapt to world second place.

One big mistake the Bush Administration is making in the battle against Islamic terrorists is that it has no real long term strategy that will have only long term pay-offs. The Islamic terrorist threat will not end in the next 5 or 10 years regardless of what strategies are pursued. A big advantage could be gained by the development of energy technologies to reduce the value of oil reserves in the Middle East and reduce the amount of money flowing to the Middle East. Energy technologies that would, once developed, be cheaper to use than current world market prices for oil would displace oil in uses all around the world and, as a consequence, lower world oil prices and lower the amount of money flowing to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states. This would reduce the amount of money available to spread Wahhabi Islam, to operate madrassah schools, and generally to cause threats to us.

Nobel Prize winner Richard Smalley believes the United States ought to be spending $5 billion per year to develop technologies that will obsolesce fossil fuels. See the update at the bottom of this post for links to his Congressional testimony where he states that he believes our dependence on fossil fuels is a solvable problem. Put that $5 billion dollar amount in perspective. Congress has voted to spend $87.5 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will probably spend even more than that in Iraq and Afghanistan in future years. Consider an even larger context. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, director of the Congressional Budget Office, provides a picture of expected future defense spending.

He said the defense budget, which stood at about $380 billion this year, excluding the emergency spending, could average $472 billion a year through 2009 and $533 billion a year between 2010 and 2022.

The US economy is over $10 trillion per year. The total cost of the 9/11 attack is in the ballpark of about $100 billion. Another larger attack could cost far more. Isn't it time we started to take some large steps toward developing technologies that will reduce world demand for oil as a way to reduce the amount of money available to the Islamists to make trouble for the rest of the world?

China replaced Japan as second largest oil consumer in 2002.

Brent oil prices averaged $ 25.19 a barrel in 2002, according to BP, which was up only slightly from 2001's average price of $ 24.77 a barrel. This price, however, was "well above" the post-1986 yearly average of $ 19.40 a barrel, BP reported. "Prices during 2002 ranged from a low of around $ 18 a barrel in mid-January to peak just before the end of the year at $ 32(/barrel)," the report said. Global oil demand, meanwhile, was "broadly flat," BP said, increasing 290,000 bpd to 75.7 mm bpd from 75.5 mm bpd. "All of the increase is attributable to China where oil consumption increased 5.8 % or 332,000 bpd," BP said.

...

China, meanwhile, accounted for 68.5 % of the increase in global primary energy consumption in 2002 and has become a "major energy consumer and importer," according to BP's report. "Consumption of coal, which accounts for 66 % of Chinese energy use, grew a massive 27.9 %. Oil consumption increased 5.8 %, or 332,000 bpd, accounting for all of the world's oil consumption growth in 2002," BP reported, adding, "China replaced Japan as the world's second largest oil consumer."

...

"Natural gas is the world's preferred non-transport fuel. Outside the former Soviet Union, gas consumption has grown 3.4 %/year over the past decade and its share of total energy consumption is now roughly equal to coal at 24 %," the report said.

How much money is spent buying oil? To use round numbers, 75 million barrels of oil per day times $25 per barrel is $1.875 billion dollars per day of money flowing to buy oil each day. For a whole year that is about $684 billion dollars spent buying oil. With the Middle East possessing about two thirds of the world's oil reserves and with demand and probably prices rising it seems reasonable to expect the amount of money flowing to the fundamentalist Islamic states of the Persian Gulf to rise substantially in coming years.

Keep in mind that in 2002 the economies of the United States and Europe were very weak. So the flat world oil consumption for 2002 is not representative of the long term trend which continues to be toward increasing world oil consumption.

The continued growth of the Chinese economic juggernaut promises to greatly increase the demand for oil. It is going to happen. The effect will be to increase the challenge we face from the Islamists. We need a response that will solve the problem. The Chinese dependence on oil also bodes poorly in another way with regard to our problems with Muslims: The Chinese, mindful of their own growing dependence on Middle Eastern oil, are going to become increasingly inclined to give the Arab oil states anything they want. Weapons? Weapons technology? The Chinese are going to be inclined to say yes to any requests coming from the Persian Gulf states. Our ability to convince the Chinese to refrain from proliferating dangerous technologies will consequently decline.

For a very detailed breakdown of world energy consumption and energy reserves see the BP Statistical Review of World Energy for 2002. (PDF format)

World consumption of primary energy increased by 2.6% in 2002, well ahead of the 10-year growth trend of 1.4% per annum. Reported growth in energy demand of almost 20% in China was behind much of this relative strength: energy consumption in the world, excluding China, grew by less than 1% during the year, reflecting a second year of below-trend economic growth.

Coal was the fastest-growing fuel in 2002 on the back of a huge 28% reported rise in Chinese consumption. World coal consumption increased by almost 7%, well ahead of the 10-year annual trend rate of less than 1%. Natural gas consumption recovered strongly to grow by 2.8% in 2002, while oil consumption was broadly flat for the second year running. Nuclear and hydroelectricity grew by 1.5% and 1.3% respectively.

World coal consumption increased by 6.9% in 2002. However, this was almost entirely a Chinese phenomenon: reported consumption in China rose by an extraordinary 27.9%. Excluding China, world coal consumption grew by just 0.6%, with strong growth of 3.7% in Asia (excluding China), and modest growth in North America of 1.5%, offset by declines of 1% in Europe and 7.8% in the FSU.

See the PDF on page 5 for a geographical view of the world's oil reserves. The Middle East contains about twice as much oil as the rest of the world put together. Rapid Chinese economic growth will ensure that the amount of money flowing to the Middle East to buy oil will increase substantially in future years.

US oil reserves represent less than 4 years of current US oil consumption.

According to the EIA, the United States has 21 billion barrels of proved oil reserves as of January 1, 2000. The U.S. uses about 6.6 billion barrels per year. That is only enough oil to last the U.S. about three and a half years without importing oil from other countries. 84% of the reserves are concentrated in four states. Texas has 25%, both onshore, and offshore. Alaska has 24%, California has 21%, and Louisiana has 14% onshore, and offshore. Since 1990, U.S. oil reserves have dropped about 20%. New oil discoveries made in 1999 were made almost entirely in the Gulf of Mexico, and Alaska. (321 million barrels). All other discoveries were extensions of existing oil fields, or new reservoirs discovered in old fields. (404 million barrels).

US oil reserves are not a solution for US domestic needs. Even if they were the rest of the world would still be sending lots of cash to the Middle East. The existing level and expected rise in world demand for oil is a national security problem for the United States. Energy policy should be treated as an element of national security policy and spending on energy research should be considered as just as important as spending on weapons development, troop deployments, or intelligence efforts.

Update: The situation with the world's oil market going forward is going to get even worse for another reason: world oil production will probably peak within 10 years. Natural gas production will most likely peak a few years later. Even if there are a lot of reserves remaining the problem is that there is a limit to how fast old fields can produce. The oil doesn't move fast enough underground that it can be pumped up rapidly even when a lot of oil is remaining. One big asset the United States has is a lot of great scientific minds in great research universities. It is time to play to our strengths and provide America's university researchers billions of dollars per year in basic research money to explore all manner of questions whose investigation can yield useful discoveries for developing new energy technologies. Do the basic research in the unversities and then let venture capitalists and corporations pay for the commercialization of the discoveries.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 06 10:53 AM  Politics Grand Strategy
Entry Permalink | Comments(26)
2003 November 05 Wednesday
United States Subsidizes Iraqi Gasoline Prices

While pipeline sabotage is limiting the amount of oil exported by Iraq and the amount refined and used locally the United States is paying to import gasoline into Iraq to sell it at subsidized prices.

Under Saddam Hussein, cheap energy thrummed through these pipes with metronymic regularity and became a birthright of all Iraqis. All petroleum products here cost a fraction of their market value. A gallon of gasoline is about 10 cents - cheaper than bottled water.

This expectation of cheap gas has forced the coalition to import gasoline and other products and sell them at big losses to avoid unrest. House Democrats complained earlier this week that Halliburton Inc., which has the major oil-reconstruction contract here, was charging the US $2.65 cents a gallon for gas being sold in Iraq for a fraction of its cost.

I think it was a mistake not to immediately allow gasoline prices float to a market level where demand and supply equalled. Would that anger people enough to stage protests or even to become terrorists? Maybe. But it is a necessary change.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 05 08:25 AM  Mideast Iraq
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
Japanese Leaders Want To Remove Constitution Pacifist Clause

Worries about North Korea are a major factor in the shift in thinking. (Daily Telegraph, free reg. required)

Japan's constitution should be rewritten to remove or amend pacifist safeguards imposed after the Second World War, according to a poll yesterday of candidates representing the country's governing party. The poll by the Asahi newspaper showed that constitutional revision was favoured by almost 90 per cent of candidates from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which is expected to win this week's general election comfortably.

While fears of North Korea are no doubt the biggest factor who wants to bet they haven't been thinking about China's growing economic might and growing military?

By Randall Parker 2003 November 05 08:18 AM  Military War, Rumours Of War
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 November 04 Tuesday
Richard Lamm On Harmful Immigration

Former 3 term Democratic Party governor of Colorado Richard Lamm lists some harmful effects of current American immigration policy.

4. We are told that illegal immigration is "cheap labor," but it is not "cheap labor," it is subsidized labor. The National Academy of Sciences has found that there is a significant fiscal drain on U.S. taxpayers for each adult immigrant without a high school education. Illegal immigration is something that benefits a few employers, but the rest of us subsidize that labor through the school system, the health-care system, the courts and in other ways that this form of labor imposes. With school spending of more than $7,000 per student per year, even a small family costs far more than a low-wage family pays in taxes.

5. America is increasingly becoming, day by day, a bilingual country, yet there is not a bilingual country in the world that lives in peace with itself. No nation should blindly allow itself to become a bilingual-bicultural country. If it does, it invites generations of conflict, tension and antagonism. America has historically demanded that its immigrants be self-supporting and English-speaking to join our polity. We vary from that rule that made us "one nation, indivisible" at great risk to America's future. Today, when over 40 percent of today's massive wave of immigrants is from Spanish-speaking nations, people can move to America and keep their language, their culture and their old loyalties. If the melting pot doesn't melt, immigrants become "foreigners" living in America rather than assimilated Americans.

My local cable TV service is now up to 5 Spanish language channels. A local AM channel that has been a news channel for many decades just changed to Spanish language.

If the poor scholastic achievement of the Mexican immigrants did not persist across generations the long term effects of this huge wave of immigration would not be so bad. But as Lamm points out, it does. Low scoring Mexicans are now getting almost as much in the form of racial quota preferences for jobs and university slots as blacks get. A highly developed first world economy does not need and can not afford the many costs of masses of poorly educated people. America's leaders are betraying their people by ignoring the wishes of the people that current high levels of immigration be reduced.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 04 11:19 PM  Immigration Societal Decay
Entry Permalink | Comments(34)
Norwegian Minister Wants Muslims In Norway To Modernize

Norwegian Cabinet Minister Erna Solberg, whose responsibilities include immigration, wants Muslims in Norway to adopt Norwegian values.

She's especially critical of the role that Imams play in Norway. "These religious leaders can't just be brought up from Islamic countries where Muslims are in the majority," Solberg said. "They have no understanding of what it's like to be a Muslim in a country where they're a minority. "They have to get more education, which they should get here in Europe," she continued. "It's especially important that immigrants learn what it means to live in a feminist society."

Suggestion for Ms. Solberg: If you want immigrants whose values will more closely match the values of the native people of Norway why don't you prevent people who have widely different and incompatible values from immigrating in the first place?

Muslims in Norway profess to not know what she is talking about.

The World Islamic Mission in Norway, claiming it doesn't understand Solberg's criticism, asked Solberg to explain what she means by "modernization," which she did on national radio on Tuesday.

See my previous posts Terrorism and the Assumptions of Classical Liberalism and Individual Rights The Highest Value Of All People? for explorations on the question of whether there are incompatible systems of values. My short answer: Yes, and the sun just as obviously comes up in the East. Why is the obvious so hard for some people to understand?

By Randall Parker 2003 November 04 08:20 PM  Immigration Culture Clash
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
Mugabe Hero To Upper Middle Class African Blacks

The Spectator has a chilling article entitled Mugabe is their darling: Aidan Hartley finds that the Zimbabwean president is regarded as a hero by Africa’s upper middle classes.

In Johannesburg recently I hooked up with Mojo, an old drinking chum from Dar es Salaam, where in the 1980s I was an FT stringer covering the ‘frontline states’ and he was an officer in the ANC’s armed wing, Mkhonto we Sizwe. These days I’m a settler on the land in Kenya, while Mojo has risen to become Lieutenant-General Mojo Matau, South Africa’s chief of military intelligence. At our reunion the beers flowed freely into the night as we remembered the old days. Mojo and I slapped each other on the back and held hands for a bit. Then I asked my friend, this man in the kitchen cabinet of ANC power in the new South Africa, what he thought of Robert Mugabe. At his reply my heart sank. He described Zimbabwe’s President as a hero for what he’s done to white farmers, and a leader who illuminated the path ahead for South Africa. I remonstrated, as I always do, and ended by telling Mojo that I saw myself as an African first, a white second, and that it was my ardent wish to stay on the continent. ‘Your only home,’ countered Mojo, gently taking my hand again, ‘is England.

The persecution of whites in South African will gradually increase and whites will continue to flee when they are able. Eventually the Indians will probably follow them once there are not enough white targets and the black racists turn their attention toward other non-black groups.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 04 11:37 AM  Civilizations Decay
Entry Permalink | Comments(5)
2003 November 03 Monday
Rumsfeld Sees Madrassah Schools As A Problem To Work On

Donald Rumsfeld on Tim Russert's TV show NBC Meet The Press:

Russert: Let me turn to your memo of October 16th which has been leaked and share it with our viewers and ask you to talk about it: "With respect to global terrorism, the record since September 11th seems to be: We are having mixed results with al Qaeda. Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas, the schools, and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us? It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog." Don't know if we are winning or losing?

Rumsfeld: Let me explain that. It's not that we don't know if we are winning or losing in Iraq or Afghanistan. We know what's happening there. The point I was making is this: if there are 90 nations engaged in the global war on terrorism, and if they are out arresting, capturing, killing terrorists, if they are out there putting pressure on their bank accounts, making it harder for them to raise money, making it harder for them to transfer money, making it harder for terrorists to move across borders, all of which is true, good progress is being made.

The question is that I posed -- and I don't know the answer -- is how many new terrorists are being made. How many of these schools are being led by radical clerics and are teaching people that they thing they should do with their lives is to go out and kill innocent men, women and children to stop progress, to torture people, to prevent women from being involved in their country's activities? How many schools are doing that, and how many people are being produced by that? And the question I posed was, you can't know in this battle of ideas how it is coming out unless you have some metric to judge that, and there isn't such a metric. It doesn't exist. Therefore my point was in the memo that I think we need -- the world needs to think about other things we can do to reduce the number of schools that teach terrorism, not just continue -- we certainly have to continue doing what we're doing and going after terrorists wherever they are, and capturing them and killing them. But I think we also have to think about how we the world, not just the United States -- this is something well beyond our country or the Department of Defense -- how we reduce the number of people who are becoming terrorists in the world.

We are in a fight whose progress we can not easily measure. That itself is cause for major concern. The US has a great conventional military but most of the major events in this fight do not involve conventional military fighting. All the other events are what are hard to measure. That there are debates in the United States and Europe over the best way to proceed and over how well we are doing should therefore not be too surprising.

Keep in mind that just because a metric for progress on a particular front is not available is not a reason to put little effort into that front. Most notably I see the inadequacy of US attempts to influence opinion in North Korea as a huge mistake because for one or two billion dollars a year we could get a great deal of information about the outside world into the minds of the most isolated people on the planet. Whether there would be any results in terms of helping to stop North Korea's nuclear arms development efforts is hard to say. But all the alternatives are unattractive and we ought to take a stab at it.

Note that Rumsfeld has also separately called for an agency to fight the war of ideas. Rumsfeld seems far more eager to take the fight into non-military dimensions that does the Bush Administration as a whole.

When Tim Russert pressed Rumsfeld on future projections of troop levels in Iraq here is what Rumsfeld had to say>

I made a conscious decision at the outset of these conflicts to not pretend I knew something I didn't know. And what I have said is just that. I have said it is not knowable.

Now, if you think about Bosnia, we were told by the administration back then that the American forces would be out by Christmas. That was six and a half years ago. They're not out yet. That was -- that -- the effect of that was not consciously misleading -- I'm sure they believed it. They were that wrong -- six and a half years wrong. I don't intend to be wrong six and a half years. I intend to have people understand the truth, and the truth is no one knows. But why is that question not answerable?

He is correct about the unknowable nature of the size and length of some of the commitments the United States has taken on. Consider an historical parallel. In 1945 the US military advanced across Western Europe and it is still there. The biggest reason for its remaining, the Soviet threat, did not come to an end until about 1990. Some conflicts take a long time to play out. Any conflict that is a product of a deep-seated conflict in values and beliefs which can not or should not be decided on a conventional battlefield will last for a long time.

Rumsfeld on ABC This Week:

Will: The president has been criticized, even ridiculed for saying that some of the attacks on us indicate that we're making progress and this is desperation on the part of the Ba'athist remnant. Is it a good thing to bring the terrorists in, as they're coming in, to a killing ground that might be favorable to us? It's not New York. We do have a lot of troops there. It's not a jungle. It's easier to find and fight there. Should we -- I mean, this is grim to say, but should we welcome this?

Rumsfeld: Well, of course, you never welcome war or conflict. You wish that there were ways to avoid it. It is -- the president's point was important. He said that the terrorists are targeting success and so what he meant was when they kill the woman on the Governing Council, they're trying to not have there be an Iraqi Governing Council working with the coalition. When they attack the police academy graduating Iraqis who are going to help provide for Iraqi security, that is targeting success. And I think his point is well taken.

You're right, to the extent foreign terrorists come into the country and we have forces there, and Iraqi forces, and coalition forces, and U.S. forces, and we're able to capture or kill them, that's a good thing. It's better doing it there than in Baltimore or in Boise, Idaho.

Our concern, however, is that what we need to do is to find ways to make sure we're winning the battle of ideas and that we reduce the number of terrorists that are being created in the world that are being taught to go out and murder and kill innocent men, women and children and cut off people's tongues and fingers.

Will: Is there any way to measure that, the supply?

Rumsfeld: There is no way to measure it because you don't know what's happening in each one of these radical cleric schools that are teaching people that. But we have to engage that battle of ideas, just as we have to engage terrorists where they are.

Rumsfeld is certainly arguing for applying more techniques to the battle againt fundamentalist Islam. Mind you, he's not going to say "fundamentalist Islam" and will try to define the nature of the enemy in the narrowest terms possible. The difficulty with naming and describing the nature of the enemy poses a major problem for the formulation of strategy for this conflict. The contrast with the Cold War is obvious: Communists were bad. Communism was bad. Communists were not allowed in the government or the military or to become citizens or to work in jobs that had national security implications.

This view of communists was of course a simplification but a necessary one. Some communists were no doubt pacifistic or incapable of being any kind of threat. Some were too afraid to want to fight. But the most prudent thing to do at the time was to treat them all as a threat. But there is a more nuanced way of looking at the effect of a belief system upon its believers. Think of the body of all believers as reacting in a range of ways to the same core teachings due to genetic and environmental factors that influence their ways of perceiving reality. Some may naturally be more hostile and given a religiously directed target for their hostility they will attempt to attack enemies. Others, due to innate personality differences, will learn the same beliefs but react in ways that leave them feeling less aggressive or less threatened.

In my view each religion and even each sect within a religion causes a unique distribution of beliefs and behaviors upon its believers. One religion might produce terrorists at the rate of one per billion believers. Another religion, given the same circumstances, might produce terrorists at the rate of one per thousand. In this view the terrorists are not anomalies. They are points on a continuous distribution of reactions to the same set of beliefs. But this is not a view that American or European leaders are going to embrace publically.

One interesting question about the US and Western reaction to Islamic terrorism is why was the definition of a communist enemy much more encompassing than the definition of an Islamist (and even that word has limited currency) enemy in the current conflict?

  • In part this is a reflection of the fact that the leaders of the Muslim nations are reluctant to openly challenge the United States. They do not have the cohesiveness and raw military power of the Soviet Union had at the end of WWII. In the absence of clear nation-state challengers the United States can not fight the conflict as a conventional military campaign.
  • Another reason is that it is acceptable in the United States to label a secular ideology as having no redeeming value but religious beliefs are viewed as fundamental rights and having inherent good due to their supernatural subject matter. There is, therefore, a great reluctance to label a religion as the enemy. This is in part due to a desire to avoid a repeat of the religious wars of the Protestant Reformation period of Europe.
  • Also, to legitimize the labelling of one religion as the enemy would open up the door for others to label other religions as enemies. Members of other religions would rather avoid getting into that territory.
  • To label a religion as an enemy would make the number of people who see themselves in conflict with the United States much larger. Quite reasonably, the US leaders don't want to see 1.3 or so billion Muslims become more motivated to feel hostility toward the United States.
  • Especially in Europe people from less developed countries are viewed as responding with hostility because of their role as victims of the history of Western imperialism. In a subtle form of racism they are not even granted the recognition of being able to be in conflict with the West due to a fundamental clash of values due to their embrace of a value system that is not Western.
  • A Western strain of thought in a belief in a kind of unversalism of values ("We are the world") contributes to the ability of Europeans to interpret the reaction of Muslim countries only thru the lens of the history of imperialism.

The upshot of all this is that it is difficult to formulate and sell to the public a strategy which is sufficiently effective to have a chance of succeeding. Should we keep all Muslims from immigrating to the United States in order to keep out the most threatening ones? Can't do that because we can't admit that being a Muslim makes one more likely to be a threat (even thought it is true). Should we engage in a massive research effort to obsolesce oil as an energy source in order to stop the flow of money from around the world to the Middle East where it funds Madrassahs and terrorist organizations? Makes sense to me. But the Bush Administration is at pains to avoid the inference that we are in some kind of Clash Of Civilizations.

The problem with the Bush Administration taking the position that we are fighting only a small number of terrorists is that support for the terrorists is found among large numbers of Muslims and many Muslims do believe they are in a Clash Of Civilizations. If the Bush Administration saw it necessary to maintain a large gap between public rhetoric and their substantive actions I could understand the necessity of doing so. Certainly a number of policies that would help us could be sold on grounds other than on the basis that Islam is an inherently dangerous religion to non-Muslims. But I see the Bush Administration response to date to be inadequate.

On the argument that the Bush Administration response is inadequate due inadequacies in strategy see Vladimir Dorta's post The War On Terror, A Double Mistake. My major point of disagreement with Vladimir is that I do not see how pressure on Pakistan and Saudi Arabia can help all that much and it might even backfire. I think our ability to apply pressure to cause Muslim governments to change is limited and the effect would tend toward delegitimizing those governments in the eyes of their publics. Being more an admirer of Sun Tzu than Clausewitz I favor more indirect approaches such as making it difficult for Muslims to travel to the United States, developing technologies that will reduce the world demand for Persian Gulf oil, and a much larger effort to influence Arab and other Muslim opinion in ways both direct and indirect. Vladimir and I have argued this out in email and he already agreed on the last point and agrees the other elements are worth doing.

Update: Paul Wolfowitz echoes Rumsfeld's call to deal with the madrassa school problem.

Wolfowitz picked up the same theme on Thursday in a speech at Georgetown University, where he described madrassas as "schools that teach hatred, schools that teach terrorism" while providing free, "theologically extremist" teachings to "millions" of Muslim children.

One way to counter those schools, Wolfowitz said, would be to cut off the funding that often comes from Saudis promoting Wahhabism, a particularly austere and rigid form of Islam. But he suggested that a better way would be to channel support to people who oppose the schools, though he acknowledged that "we're not very good at doing that yet."

One problem: Most Al Qaeda terrorists have come from Saudi Arabia. They fund their own schools. The whole world buys their oil to give them the money to do this. What can we do about that short of invasion? Spend billions per year on research into newer sources of energy that could be made more cheaply.

George W. Bush is trying to influence Indonesia's schools with US aid.

Washington''s concerns about the spread of radical and anti-U.S. ideas in some Islamic school systems spurred a pledge to Indonesia this week for funding to help improve the quality of the country''s education system.

During President Bush''s brief stopover Wednesday in Bali, where he held talks with President Megawati Sukarnoputri and met with religious leaders, Bush announced a new six-year, $157 million program for this purpose.

But Indonesian religious leaders have already objected to the idea of American money influencing the curricula of Indonesian schools. Will the money end up significantly reducing the number of Indonesian children who are taught Islamic fundamentalism in school?

Another report on US funding for Indonesian schools:

President Bush has also promised $157 million to help improve education in the country's schools, including Islamic boarding schools called pesantrens. The funds are needed, especially as the Saudis are pumping in money to replace Indonesia's tolerant Islam with its own Salafist version. However, Indonesia has been reluctant to clamp down on existing extremist pesantrens that have been breeding grounds for terrorists, even those run by Jamaah Islamiya. Many of these schools are still functioning, including Al-Mukmin Ngruki, the largest source of Indonesian jihadists.

Rumsfeld even mentions US prisons as a terrorist recruiting ground.

Rumsfeld: And probably will always be lacking. In other words, it's probably not knowable how many people are being recruited. Somewhere in a jail in America, in a madrasa school that's taught by a radical cleric somewhere in one of 20 other countries of the world. We can't know how many there are, but what I do know, I think, is that we need to engage in that battle of ideas. We need to be out there encouraging people not to do that. Rather, they should be learning things like language or math or things that they can provide a living from.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 03 01:14 PM  Terrorists Western Response
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 November 02 Sunday
On European Attitudes Toward Israel, Iran, And North Korea

The Europeans think Israel is the biggest threat to world peace.

"The European Union, which shows sensitivity on human rights issues, would do well to stop the rampant brainwashing against and demonizing of Israel before Europe deteriorates once again to dark sections of its past," Sharansky told Sunday's Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

El Pais reported on Friday that 59 percent of Europeans rate Israel as the most threatening country, ahead of the United States, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea.

Anti-semitism? Could that be the cause of the results of this poll?

The EU mandarins are holding back the results.

The European Commission is coming under fire for publishing the results of a number of questions - relating to Iraqi reconstruction - while failing to publish the results which revealed the extent of mistrust of Israel and the United States in Europe.

Rabbi Marvin Hier says the result defies logic.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center said it was outraged at published reports that the 59 percent of 7,500 Europeans surveyed called Israel a larger threat to world peace than North Korea or Iran. Wiesenthal Center dean Rabbi Marvin Hier said the result "defies logic and is a racist flight of fantasy that only shows that anti-Semitism is deeply embedded within European society, more than any other period since the end of World War II."

Does this result defy logic? I try so hard to understand people and yet a key element of the belief systems of others can escape my notice in large part because I could not imagine actually holding some beliefs that others see as perfectly reasonable to believe. With that in mind here are some tentative wild speculations about what the Europeans might believe that would cause them to decide that the Israelis are the biggest threat to world peace:

  • America is sufficiently angry at Europe to no longer defend it and Europe fears Israel could easily defeat the combined might of European armies. In this scenario what is driving European belief is that Israel will invade and conquer Europe in order to shut down terrorist funding that comes from Europe. Europe, being a civilization that has lost its confidence and helpless in the face of its Eurabian future feels it is stuck between a rock and hard place. Its population just wants a chance to grow old and die off in relative peace before the Muslims seize control.
  • Europe is afraid of the bull and yet the matador keeps waving the red flag. The idea here is that the Israelis, simply by asserting their right to exist, are like a matador waving a red flag at the Muslims. The Europeans, deathly afraid of the bull, want the matador to stop. The matador is making the European policy of appeasement unworkable and it is one of their favorite foreign policy tools.
  • The Europeans have such a low opinion of the Persians and the North Koreans that they can't imagine either peoples creating a great threat whereas the Europeans think the Jews are really smart and capable of making really dangerous weapons. In this analysis the European attitude is actually a compliment to the Israelis in a backhanded sort of way. Though it also betrays a provincial naivete due to the fact that the Europeans have had more direct experience with smart Jews (enough to want to kill them by the millions) than with smart Persians or smart Koreans. Having studied with smart Persians in college I find this hard to believe. But then during the Shah's era the smart Persians went to school in southern California, not in Europe and most Korean immigrants came to the US as well. So I guess the European ignorance on Iran and North Korea is somewhat understandable.
  • The Europeans really do believe the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Again, the explanation here is provincial ignorance. Yes, they live in dense-packed cities and claim to be well-educated. But they are still suckers for historical forgeries and think the Israelis are plotting to take over the whole world. This also explains why they think the United States ranks lower than Israel as a threat. They think of Americans as just a bunch of ignorant yokels that we are just manipulated puppets in the hands of the Israelis. So we join the ranks of the dummies along with the North Koreans and Persians. Cool. Hi there fellow dummies.
  • The Europeans are secretly still doubting Christians and believe that the final war will be fought on the plains of Armageddon just as prophesied in Revelations in the New Testament. In this analysis we have the lapsed agnostic Europeans still fearing the prophetic pronouncements of the old time religion that they claim to have abandoned with their embrace of John Lennon's "No hell below us. Above us only sky."
  • The Europeans figured Muslims would read the poll results and the Euros wanted to signal their sympathy and devotion to the Muslims. The idea here is that many Euros wanted to use the poll result as a form of appeasement toward Arab Muslim populations in Europe and in neighboring Arab countries.

Mind you, these are only wild-eyed speculations. As a ignorant hick sitting on the edge of the Pacific Rim I can't hope to understand the wisdom of those distant people who occupy the exalted center of Western Civilization. If you have any better informed or even less informed speculations on this question please post them in the comments.

The Dutch view Israel with particular fear. (Daily Telegraph, free reg. reg'd)

The Eurobarometer poll of 7,500 EU residents found that 59 per cent deemed Israel "a threat to peace in the world", with the figures rising to 60 per cent in Britain, 65 in Germany, 69 in Austria and 74 in Holland.

...

Asked if America posed a threat to peace, the "yes" response was 55 per cent in Britain, 52 in France and 45 in Germany.

In Greece, the figure reached 88 per cent, with 96 per cent calling the Iraq war "unjustified".

The Greeks are hysterically hostile toward the United States. Why? My guess is the US handling of the Balkans. The Greeks identify with their fellow Orthodox Serbian brothers. They were mad that the US sided with the Muslim Albanians and Bosnians and the Catholic Croats against the Serbs. From a Greek perspective the Serbs were just trying to hold on to territory that had been Serb for very long time. At the same time, the Greeks feel threatened by an Albanian influx.

By Randall Parker 2003 November 02 02:46 PM  Civilizations Decay
Entry Permalink | Comments(30)
Advertise here. Contact randall dot parker at ymail dot com
 
Web parapundit.com
Site Traffic Info