2003 December 29 Monday
Mark Steyn: Destroy The International System

Oh come on, don't hold back Mark. Tell us what you really think. Mark Steyn sums up his attitude on the international institutions which give legitimacy to people who ought to be considered illegitimate.

The one consistent feature of the post-9/11 era is the comprehensive failure of the international order. The French use their Security Council veto to protect Saddam. The EU subsidises Palestinian terrorism. The International Atomic Energy Agency provides cover for Iran's nuclear ambitions. The UN summit on racism is an orgy of racism.

All these institutions do is enable nickel'n'dime thugs to punch above their weights. The New York Times, sleepwalking through the 21st century on bromides from the Carter era, wants the UN to run Saddam's trial because one held under the auspices of the Americans would "lack legitimacy". Au contraire, it's the willingness of Kofi Annan, Mohammed el-Baradei, Chris Patten, Mary Robinson and the other grandees of the international clubrooms to give "legitimacy" to Saddam, Kim Jong-Il, Arafat, Assad and co that disqualifies them from any role in Iraq. I've come to the conclusion that the entire international system needs to be destroyed.

I share Steyn's lack of faith in and antipathy toward the United Nations and assorted associated international institutions. My own simplistic view is that organzations made up of member governments which are basically bad in all sorts of ways (illiberal, undemocratic, corrupt, etc) can't be good. But what is intriguing here is his support of their destruction. I wonder what Mark has in mind. Airborne JDAMs? Or perhaps a more controlled form of destruction where experts are brought in to plant explosives to provide a controlled collapse? Or am I being too physically literal? Should the US and allied governments instead simply label these enemy entities as terrorist-supporting institutions, freeze all their bank accounts, and then let them collapse when their employees stop getting paid and the utilities are turned off?

Speaking of matters of faith in international institutons, while he doesn't use this exact term Mark Steyn makes note of Howard Dean's attempt to be an agnostic on the question of international institutions.

There was a revealing moment on MSNBC the other night. Chris Matthews asked Dr. Dean whether Osama bin Laden should be tried in an American court or at The Hague. "I don't think it makes a lot of difference," said the governor airily. Mr. Matthews pressed once more. "It doesn't make a lot of difference to me," he said again. Some of us think what's left of Osama is already hard enough to scrape off the cave floor and put in a matchbox, never mind fly to the Netherlands. But, just for the sake of argument, his bloodiest crime was committed on American soil; American courts, unlike the international ones, would have the option of the death penalty. But Gov. Dean couldn't have been less interested. So how about Saddam? The Hague "suits me fine," he said, the very model of ennui. Saddam? Osama? Whatever, dude.

I doubt the sincerity of this agnosticism. Mark, though, does make an excellent case for Dean as a member of the "Bike Path Left" that no longer has faith in so many big ideas that they used to be enthusiastic about. So maybe Dean really has no deeply held convictions about the UN. But my fear about some on the political Left (and there are admirable notable exceptions even among those of my readers who lean leftward) is that they will support bad ideas and bad institutions just in order to avoid taking positions that agree with those on the political Right (not that Rightists are totally immune to this phenomenon). Support for the UN and like institutions seems (at least in the minds of some who don't attach much importance to the need for a serious foreign policy that protects threatened national interests) like a harmless way to enhance political brand identity. They can signal their opposition to unilateralist cowboys by praising institutions that work against US interests. So I tend to view agnostic sentiments from Leftists on the question of the legitimacy of international institutions as basically still likely to lead to support for such institutions once they are in power. Therefore nothing short of a firm renunciation of the international institution faith is enough.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 29 12:32 AM  UN, International Institutions
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2003 December 26 Friday
Five Extended Families Behind Iraqi Resistance

The practice of consanguineous marriage finds its expression in the organization of the Iraqi resistance.

TIKRIT, Iraq -- As U.S. forces tracked Saddam Hussein to his subterranean hiding place, they unearthed a trove of intelligence about five families running the Iraqi insurgency, according to U.S. military commanders, who said the information is being used to uproot remaining resistance forces.

Senior U.S. officers said they were surprised to discover -- clue by clue over six months -- that the upper and middle ranks of the resistance were filled by members of five extended families from a few villages within a 12-mile radius of the volatile city of Tikrit along the Tigris River. Top operatives drawn from these families organized the resistance network, dispatching information to individual cells and supervising financial channels, the officers said. They also protected Hussein and passed information to and from the former president while he was on the run.

Surprised at the importance of family ties and the powerful influence of cousin marriage in a Middle Eastern Arab Muslim society? Not if you are a long time ParaPundit reader. If you are a more recent reader then start here: John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq and also click back to previous posts which that post references.

The importance of family ties in the Iraqi resistance is illustrated by the "al-Douri" and "al-Tikriti" at the ends of the names of top resistance suspects that are still being sought.

Those on the top 55 list who are still at large include Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, his son Ahmed and Hani Abd al-Latif Tilfah al-Tikriti, all of whom are thought to be involved in the guerrilla war against the U.S.-led occupation, U.S. officials said.

Knowledge of family ties is now useful to let US forces to know where to focus their investigative efforts. But the five extended families which are the focus of this investigation are just a small fraction of all the extended families in Iraq. Members of all the other extended families in Iraq feel the same tugs of loyalty toward family. The role of family ties all over in Iraq will serve as a powerful corrupting influence on government workers and elected officials in the new democracy that the United States and its allies hope to establish in Iraq.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 26 04:51 PM  Mideast Iraq
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The Invasion Of Iraq And Libya's Nuclear Capitulation

Charles Krauthammer argues the timing of the Libyan abandonment of nuclear weapons development is too much a coincidence to have been an accident.

Yeah, sure. After 18 years of American sanctions, Moammar Gaddafi randomly picks Dec. 19, 2003, as the day for his surrender. By amazing coincidence, Gaddafi's first message to Britain -- principal U.S. war ally and conduit to White House war councils -- occurs just days before the invasion of Iraq. And his final capitulation to U.S.-British terms occurs just five days after Saddam Hussein is fished out of a rathole.

As Jay Leno would say, what are the odds? The nine months of negotiations with Libya perfectly frame the war on Iraq and the fall of Saddam Hussein. How is it possible to ignore the most blindingly obvious collateral benefits?

John O'Sullivan argues that the Bush doctrine of preemption and the invasion of Iraq helped secure Muammar Khadafy's capitulation on nuclear weapons development.

First, the timing. Gadhafi approached the British to open talks on this one week before the invasion of Iraq when it was plain that Saddam was about to fall over WMDs. He hurried the announcement after Saddam was captured. At the very least, this behavior makes it look as if he was afraid of suffering the same fate.

Second, there actually was military intervention against Libya -- and Gadhafi remained silent about it. A U.S.-led coalition halted Libyan ships containing WMD contraband on the high seas under the president's Proliferation Security Initiative. That told the Libyan that the United States knew a great deal about his WMD programs and was prepared to halt them by military means if necessary.

Third, Gadhafi obligingly told Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi that after the invasion of Iraq he was afraid of the United States.

This analysis rings true to me. We are still left Iran's quite a bit less than full abandonment of the ambitions of the mullahs to construct nuclear weapons. Plus, Kim Jong-il of North Korea is still attempting to build a nuclear arsenal. But if the invasion of Iraq helped secure Libya's capitulation then that alone justifies the invasion of Iraq in my mind.

Libya has revealed North Korean and Iranian scientists and engineers were working in Libya.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi took the decision to renounce all weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on Friday night, but while at first it was thought this only had implications for Libya it is now clear that his decision has scuppered a secret partnership between Libya, Iran and North Korea formed with the intention of developing an independent nuclear weapon. New documents revealed yesterday show that the three were working on the nuclear weapons programme at a top-secret underground site near the Kufra Oasis of the Sahara in southeastern Libya. The team was made up of North Korean scientists, engineers and technicians, as well as some Iranian and Libyan nuclear scientists.

There have been rumors to the effect that nuclear weapons designers from North Korea, Iran, and Libya were cooperating. But the rumors came from single sources in less prestigious publications. Turns out they were right. The nuclear weapons development cooperation between Iran, North Korea, and Libya makes the capitulation of Libya even more important.

Attention is now going to become more focused on North Korea as a result of the deal with Libya. Some Bush Administration critics claim Bush's public posture toward North Korea makes it harder to come to a similar deal with North Korea. However, Balbina Hwang, a Korea analyst for the Heritage Foundation, points out that North Korea's regime sees a high profile disagreement and intentionally provocative moves as key elements of its negotiating strategy.

"I wish the (North Korea) negotiations were more quiet and under the radar," Hwang said, but claimed that Pyongyang's negotiating strategy was based on "showmanship" and portraying the crisis as a standoff between itself and Washington.

Hwang thinks the leaders of North Korea should learn a lesson from Libya's capitulation.

"I hope they (North Korea) are learning an important lesson from this," said Balbina Hwang, a Korea analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank. "North Korea should learn what Libya has ... Ghaddafi saw what the future was, that if he did not relent and co-operate with the international community, life was going to be very difficult."

Will Kim Jong-il wise up and end his nuclear ambitions? It still seems unlikely. The reason is that North Korea faces a different set of problems and opportunities than Libya. Libya has one factor going for it that the regime in Pyongyang North Korea lacks: oil. Free of sanctions the Libyans can make a lot of money and modernize without jeopardizing the regime's control. The North Korean regime sees a continuing crisis as a necessary means to try to extract aid from other countries. Absent high tensions North Korea might be ignored and a large decline in aid would pose an existential crisis for the Pyongyang regime. The path of economic reform is seen by Kim Jong-il as a process that could easily spin out of control and result in his overthrow. So North Korea still looks like a tough nut to crack.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 26 02:33 PM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control
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2003 December 23 Tuesday
Pakistani Weapons Scientists Gave Iran Nuclear Technology

The IAEA has received information from Iran that points to Pakistani involvement in the Iranian nuclear weapons development program.

Pakistan has secretly supplied Iran with technology crucial to developing a nuclear weapons programme, international inspectors believe.

There is also evidence it has given information to North Korea and other countries.

Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency - the United Nations nuclear watchdog - have recently uncovered a huge procurement network developed by Iran in the past 17 years to access materials, tools and specialist knowledge.

Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, considered to be the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb, is among the scientists suspected of helping Iran. He is a national hero in Pakistan and is being subjected only to house arrest for his suspected involvement.

The Washington Post has a lengthy article reporting on an extensive Iranian effort that procured supplies for its nuclear weapons development program from a large list of countries.

Documents provided by Iran to U.N. nuclear inspectors since early November have exposed the outlines of a vast, secret procurement network that successfully acquired thousands of sensitive parts and tools from numerous countries over a 17-year period. While Iran has not directly identified Pakistan as a supplier, Pakistani individuals and companies are strongly implicated as sources of key blueprints, technical guidance and equipment for a pilot uranium-enrichment plant that was first exposed by Iranian dissidents 18 months ago, government officials and independent weapons experts said.

...

The disclosures offer a striking illustration of the difficulties faced by U.S. officials in trying to detect and interdict shipments of contraband useful in making weapons of mass destruction. Iran appears to have obtained the equipment by exploiting a gray zone of porous borders, middlemen, front companies and weak law enforcement where the components of such weapons are bought and sold.

It is very difficult to stop a government with sufficient financial and technical resources from pursuing a nuclear weapons development program.

The government of Pakistan claims the Pakistani scientists helped Iran before Pervez Musharraf came to power and that the scientists acted to help Iran without government approval.

In an interview, Information Minister Rashid Ahmed confirmed the thrust of a report in Sunday's Washington Post that the scientists had been detained for questioning on the basis of information provided to Pakistan by U.N. nuclear inspectors probing Iran's secret procurement network.

Rashid asserted that if there was any sharing of nuclear technology, it was done without the Pakistani government's knowledge or approval. Investigators, he said, are trying to determine whether the scientists may have offered their services as individuals.

It is noteworthy that both Iran and Libya decided to reveal their activities in the aftermath of the American-led invasion of Iraq. The overthrow of Saddam's regime has had a profound impact on the thinking of governments in the Middle East. As a result of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq the US has much more leverage than would otherwise have been the case.

At the same time, the US and its allies are far from putting a total permanent stop to nuclear weapons proliferation. Iran's mullahs are still stating that their temporary halt of at least some of their efforts to develop nuclear enrichment capability will not turn out to be permanent. Also, it is far from clear what exactly the North Korean regime is up to or what level of nuclear capability it has achieved to date.

One problem the US faces in preventing long-term nuclear proliferation is that each country that halts nuclear development efforts under US and allied pressure can easily hide extra copies of design documents and research findings to reuse at a later date to reconstitute their nuclear weapons development efforts. Also, each country that possesses valuable design information becomes another potential source of technology proliferation to still other countries.

As a side note, it is curious that while the recent revelations of Libya's advanced nuclear weapons program were viewed as a surprise by Western governments Debka was reporting well over a year ago that the Israeli government saw the Libyan nuclear program as well advanced.

In one of the first surface Indicators of this unease, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, in one of his pre-New Year interviews earlier this month, suddenly came out with a revelation – not about Iraq or even Iran, but about Egypt’s previously unheard of nuclear program. He informed an unsuspecting American and Israeli public that a Libyan program was well advanced to build the first Arab-Muslim nuclear bomb as a joint Egyptian, Iraqi enterprise funded by Saudi Arabia.

There may well still be hidden mysteries of concealed nuclear weapons development programs waiting to be revealed.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 23 05:48 PM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control
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2003 December 22 Monday
Danish High Court Upholds Job Firing For Religious Headscarf Wearing

Najla Ainouz, a 25 year old Moroccan immigrant to Denmark, was fired from her job for the Foetex supermarket for wearing a hijab headscarf in violation of an employment contract that forbids workers from displaying any religious symbols and also forbids really dramatic hair colors and nose rings. Her union sued the supermarket but Denmark's high court ruled against Ainouz and her union.

Europe's controversy over the wearing of Islamic headscarves took a new twist yesterday when Denmark's high court ruled against a supermarket cashier who was sacked for wearing a hijab.

The Danish government has avoided legislating on what companies are allowed to require in dress codes.

In Denmark, successive governments have refused to legislate on the issue, leaving companies to decide for themselves.

This decision follows on the heels of the controversy in France and Germany over government restrictions on religious headscarf wearing. The difference in the Danish case is that it involved a decision made by a private company. The Danish court decision may not be a green light for a ban of all religious headgear by all Muslim workers because if headscarf wearing became more widespread among Muslim women a company's ban on headscarfs would end up causing the company to employ much fewer Muslim women than were present in the population at large.

My own view is that private organizations should be free to enforce rules that have greater impact on particular religious or other groups because the decisions of private organizations ought to be considered protected by a right to free association. People should be free to associate preferentially with whoever they prefer and that ability to exercise those preferences should extend all the way to the power of manager to choose who to hire.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 22 12:06 AM  Civilizations Clash Of
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2003 December 21 Sunday
Libya Abandons Nuclear Program That Was More Advanced Than Expected

George W. Bush and Tony Blair have come in for a great deal of criticism for overhyping the threat of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) development programs. My own view of much of this criticism is that it misses the point that it is very difficult and probably impossible to accurately assess the state of a closed secretive society's weapons programs. In the aftermath of Gulf War I the US government was very surprised at the highly advanced state of Saddam's nuclear weapons program. Saddam was able to conceal much of what was going on. This intelligence lapse caused the Bush Administration and other governments as well to expect that Saddam still had a lot going on that was hidden. Now after Gulf War II it is still not clear what all Saddam was or was not up to. There remains the possibility that he could have had a lot of evidence destroyed or hidden.

Buttressing this argument that it is hard to know what closed secretive societies are up to are revelations of what Muammar Ghadafy was doing with his recently disclosed nuclear program. Libya has struck a deal with the United States and Great Britain to abandon its WMD development programs in exchange for a dropping of sanctions against Libya and in the process of striking this agreement Libya has revealed to US and British intelligence and weapons experts a nuclear program that was further along than US intelligence expected it to be.

Libya, which agreed to give up its weapons programs Friday, told the agents that it possesses tons of mustard gas and other chemical weapons materials, facilities that could manufacture germ weapons, Scud missiles, and a more advanced nuclear weapons program than previously known, the officials said. They briefed reporters on condition that they not be identified.

The economic pressure of sanctions and the unwillingness of the Bush Administration to let the Libyans free of the sanctions without first abandoning their WMD programs were essential in bringing the Libyans to agreement.

Congress and the Bush administration, however, said sanctions would be maintained until Libya gave up its illicit weapons programs and links to terrorist organizations. That position, American and British officials said, forced Libya -- economically crippled and desperate for the return of foreign oil companies -- to consider the new concessions.

A State Department official said Libya felt an urgency to act because of the U.S. stances on Iran and North Korea and the war in Iraq. An intelligence official said Khadafy was also concerned about the threat to his government from militant elements in the country.

The CIA sees the revelations coming out of Libya as confirming the accuracy and prowess of the CIA analysts who try to monitor WMD developments in rather closed societies.

Though the country's uranium-enrichment capabilities were further along than expected, the intelligence officials said that much of what the CIA saw confirmed its analysts' projections, which they hailed as a vindication of the agency's ability to monitor weapons programs around the world. That ability has been called into question by the failure of the U.S. hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Is the CIA just spinning? Or do the CIA folks really believe that even though Libya was further along toward developing nuclear weapons than the CIA suspected that these revelations demonstrate the CIA's prowess in monitoring weapons development programs? Perhaps they view a partial success in figuring out an enemy WMD program as an excellent performance for an intelligence agency. That might even be true. It is hard to figure out what a fairly closed society's government is up to.

My guess is that the CIA analysts who are patting themselves on the back are missing the point that this level of performance is not sufficient to allow a US President intent on a strategy of preemption to stop the spread of WMD to make correct decisions about when to intervene in other countries with military force. A President is bound to either wait too long before intervening or to intervene and then not find enough evidence to justify that rationale for intervention.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 21 10:50 PM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control
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European Governments Press North Africans To Limit Illegal Immigration

European countries bordering on the Mediterranean want North African countries to take steps to slow the flow of illegal immigrants into Europe.

The leaders of 10 west Mediterranean countries, including France, Italy, Portugal and Spain, are holding an informal and unprecedented summit in Tunisia to discuss immigration, the U.S.-led war on terror and closer economic ties.

...

"Fortress Europe wants North Africa to keep its citizens at home as well as preventing the region from becoming a transit point," a French diplomat said.

It is hard to imagine the current crop of politicians in Washington DC pressing Mexico and other Latin American countries to take steps to reduce the flow of illegal immigrants to the US.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 21 04:16 PM  Immigration Border Control
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Why Not Partition Afghanistan Along Tribal Lines?

The constitutional assembly meeting in Afghanistan to draw up a new constitution is split over the question of whether there should be a powerful central presidency. The Pashtuns, who make up approximately 47% to 50% of the total Afghan population, favor the central presidency because they expect to elect a Pashtun to occupy the office. The other ethnic groups oppose this proposal. Afghanistan is effectively split in half by the divide between Pashtuns and other ethnic and tribal groups.

"The voting was according to ethnicity," said Abdul Waqif Hakimi, a Kabul delegate and a Tajik, who lost the contest for chairman.

No one told Pashtuns to unite, insisted Muhammad Taher, a Pashtun who defeated Mr. Hakimi. "But if there is a tribe, and their culture is the same, they must be united."

On Thursday, a group of Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and Turkmen went to United Nations officials to complain about Pashtun domination.

Afghanistan is not naturally a country. The various ethnic groups within its borders speak different languages and have good reasons not to trust each other. It would be less trouble in the long run if Afghanistan was just split up with the Pashtuns getting their own country while the other groups either form a single country for a few separate countries. The other groups could even take pieces of Afghanistan and merge them with their ethnic brothers who speak the same languages and have much the same cultures in bordering northern countries.

The overall trend in the 20th century has been toward greater ethnic self-rule and the splintering of countries into smaller ethnically-based pieces. Attempts to swim against the tide of history tend to meet with failure unless backed up with a lot of resources and determination. There is no large force available to hold Afghanistan together and no overwhelming reason to want to do so. For analogous arguments applied to Iraq see my previous posts in favor of Iraq partition: Steve Sailer On The Iraq Partition Argument and Jim Hoagland: Sunnis In Iraq See Democracy As A Threat.

Update: The Power that Hamid Karzai wants for the Afghan President is very far reaching.

Under the draft, the president would have the power to appoint one-third of the upper house of parliament and dismiss and appoint judges. The president would appear to have ample ability to initiate laws by presidential decree and would be able to take some serious actions, such as declaring war, without legislative approval.

A Pashtun President would be able to appoint Pashtuns for one third of the upper house of Parliament in addition to the elected Pashtuns and therefore the Pashtuns would effectively control the Presidency and the upper house of Parliament. Incredible as it may sound, the Bush Administration supports this proposal.

So far rocket attacks have missed the loya jirga constitutional convention site.

Three rockets slammed into Kabul early Tuesday morning, but none landed near the jirga site or caused serious damage. The U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, told The Associated Press on Saturday he expects more attacks.

Perhaps the proposed strong presidency won't really matter in the long run. The authority of the central government currently does not extend much beyond the outskirts of Kabul. So Karzai can use the new constitution to set himself up as dictator of Kabul while warlords rule the rest of Afghanistan.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 21 03:40 PM  Chaotic Regions
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Human Smugglers And Kidnappers Engage In Gunfights

The US government's unwillingness to properly police and enforce immigration laws on American borders is leading to increasing crime and a wave of murder and rape.

PHOENIX -- Moving with the cunning and cruelty of modern-day pirates, gangs of kidnappers are swooping down on Arizona highways, attacking smugglers transporting undocumented immigrants and stealing their human cargo.

The kidnappers stash the immigrants in hundreds of drop houses scattered around the city, using violence and threats to extort money from their relatives.

Now smugglers are fighting back, shooting it out with kidnappers on sidewalks and freeways in broad daylight.

...

The new wave of violence has made this the deadliest year in Phoenix history with 247 homicides, edging out the previous high of 245 in 2001. Police say 60 percent of the city's crime is related to smuggling and kidnapping. "It's impacted the whole quality of life here," said police spokesman Sgt. Randy Force.

The kidnappers rape kidnapped girls while their families listen over the phone. These kidnappers are beasts.

In the face of an obvious need to stop the inflow of illegal immigrants and to deport the illegal aliens that are already here what does the US government's Department of Homeland Security propose to do about it? Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge proposes an amnesty for illegal aliens.

In what may be a break from the status quo since Sept. 11, 2001, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said last week he favored granting legal status to millions of illegal immigrants, a move immigrant advocates welcomed and critics said would undermine the law and national security.

"The bottom line is, as a country, we have to come to grips with the presence of 8 to 12 million illegals, afford them some kind of legal status some way," Ridge said at a town hall meeting in Miami last week.

We can come to grips with the presence of illegal aliens by deporting them. It is not impossible to round up the bulk of the illegal aliens and deport them. But the politicians in Washington DC are putting business interests, ethinc group activists, and other interests ahead of those of the bulk of American citizens. If the United States government would only make a serious effort to deport illegal aliens then most illegal aliens would deport themselves in advance of being forcefully deported. Also, a fence barrier along the border with Mexico is a feasible solution for greatly reducing the flow of illegal aliens into the United States. See my previous post: One Year Of Illegal Alien Health Care Costs Would Pay For Border Barrier

Update: John Jay Ray points to a column by Michelle Malkin where Malkin reports on continued efforts by the US federal government to sabotage immigration law enforcement.

From homeland security personnel, I continue to hear open-borders horror stories. A Border Patrol agent who works along the northern border reports that federal immigration judges in his area are subverting the deportation process by refusing to issue arrest warrants for illegal alien absconders (fugitives who have been ordered deported but never showed up for their hearings). A special agent notes that San Diego supervisors continue to discourage interior immigration enforcement near the southern border. And countless rank-and-file immigration enforcement officers have written to express disgust at Washington's bipartisan talk of "amnesty" for millions of immigration law-breakers whose presence makes a mockery of homeland defense.

Why can't anything be done to put a stop to the flow of millions of illegal aliens into the United States? Is it because it is impossible to stop illegal immigration? No! Again, the problem is that the top politicians in Washington DC want the current high level of immigration, both legal and illegal.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 21 03:17 PM  Immigration Border Control
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Big Medicare Bill Has $1 Billion For Illegal Alien Medical Care

The big multi-billion dollar Medicare bill for retiree prescription drug benefits also includes a big chunk of money for illegal alien immigrant medical treatments.

A study by the U.S.-Mexico Border Counties Coalition, an American lobbying group, last year found that U.S. border hospitals provide at least $200 million a year in uncompensated emergency care to illegal immigrants, $74 million of that in Texas.

When approving the Medicare bill last month, Congress allocated $1 billion to help border hospitals cover those costs. President Bush is expected to sign the bill Monday.

Of course most illegal aliens move further into the United States and so the costs for the border hospitals is a small fraction of the total illegal alien medical costs that taxpayers have to pay for.

Federal spending for illegal alien medical care has been increased by $250 million per year.

Texas also stands to benefit from a provision that grants $1 billion – $250 million annually over four years – to reimburse hospitals for uncompensated emergency care provided to undocumented immigrants. Texas hospitals probably would receive $43 million to $50 million per year, Mr. Knaupe said.

That $1 billion could be more usefully spent building a barrier on the US-Mexican border to keep out illegal aliens. The cost of such a barrier would be much less than the yearly medical costs for illegal aliens. See my previous post: One Year Of Illegal Alien Health Care Costs Would Pay For Border Barrier.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 21 01:09 PM  Immigration Economics
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2003 December 18 Thursday
Where Iraq Purchased Weapons 1973-2002

The purpose of this post is to address one of the many mythical claims about the United States popularized by some Leftists who would have us believe that the United States is the cause of most of what is wrong with the world. The myth under examination here is the claim that the United States played an important role in arming Saddam Hussein. The data comes from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in the form of a table of the value of arms imported by Iraq from 1973 through 2002. (PDF format)

Figures are trend-indicator values expressed in US $m. at constant (1990) prices.

Note: The SIPRI data on arms transfers refer to actual deliveries of major conventional weapons. To permit comparison between the data on such deliveries of different weapons and identification of general trends, SIPRI uses a trend-indicator value. The SIPRI values are therefore only an indicator of the volume of international arms transfers and not of the actual financial values of such transfers. Thus they are not comparable to economic statistics such as gross domestic product or export/import figures.

...

Imported weapons to Iraq (IRQ) in 1973-2002

Country $MM USD 1990 % Total
USSR 25145 57.26
France 5595 12.74
China 5192 11.82
Czechoslovakia 2880 6.56
Poland 1681 3.83
Brazil 724 1.65
Egypt 568 1.29
Romania 524 1.19
Denmark 226 0.51
Libya 200 0.46
USA 200 0.46
South Africa 192 0.44
Austria 190 0.43
Switzerland 151 0.34
Yugoslavia 107 0.24
Germany (FRG) 84 0.19
Italy 84 0.19
UK 79 0.18
Hungary 30 0.07
Spain 29 0.07
East Germany (GDR) 25 0.06
Canada 7 0.02
Jordan 2 0.005
Total 43915 100.0

I made my own percentage calculations. Also, the original PDF document has the amounts by year but I extracted out only the final total column. Note that post-1990 sales listed under "USSR" probably refers to Russia or perhaps Russia plus former USSR states.

Given the US's position as largest arms merchant in the world the fact that it ties Libya for 9th place with only 0.46% of Iraq's total arms imports makes it obvious that the United States was not an important source of arms for Saddam's regime, that the US didn't even seriously try to be, and that US arms sales gave the US little or no leverage over Saddam.

In a report published in 1998 Anthony Cordesman places an even lower estimate on US arms exports to Iraq. See page 22 of this PDF which shows the US selling Iraq $5 million in arms in the late 1980s. Cordesman's report has many charts which also show just how far Iraq's economy fell during the war with Iran and afterward.

  • Iraq seemed to be on the edge of sustained economic development in 1979. It was a nation of 12.8 million people with a per capita income well in excess of $10,000 in constant $US 1994. However, its economy was dependent on oil wealth and construction and infrastructure oriented with massive distortions in the state and agricultural sector.
  • By 1986, the worst year of the Iran-Iraq War in economic terms, Iraq’s per capita income was down to $2,174, and its population was up to 16.2 million.
  • By 1991, the last year for which we have hard data on the Iraqi economy in market terms, Iraq’s per capita income was down to $705, and its population was up to 17.9 million. Iraq’s GNP in constant $1994 had dropped from $48.3 billion in 1984 to $16.3 billion.
  • Iraq’s current per capita income is probably under $1,000. The World Bank estimates that its population will climb from 21.0 million in 1995 to 24.5 million in 2000, 28.4 million in 2005, and 32.5 million in 2010.

US policy in the 1980s favored a stalemate in the Iran-Iraq war. But the US role in ensuring that outcome was very small as compared to the roles played by the USSR, France, China, and other countries in making sure Saddam's regime was not overrun. What intelligence and other assistance the US provided to prevent Iranian victory pales in comparison to the roles played by several other countries.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 18 11:33 AM  Mideast Iraq
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2003 December 17 Wednesday
US Homeland Security Dept Wants To Include Illegal Aliens In FBI Database

United State Department of Homeland Security officials want to include 140,000 deported illegal aliens in an FBI database for criminals.

Homeland security officials want to add tens of thousands of illegal immigrants and foreign students to an FBI database designed primarily to help police apprehend wanted criminals, allowing them to instantly identify foreign nationals who have been deported or have violated student visas.

The proposal -- part of a broad push by the Bush administration to more closely monitor foreign nationals since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- is raising concerns among some civil liberties advocates and law enforcement groups that fear it will bring police heavily into the business of apprehending immigration violators who have committed no serious crimes. In some cases, they said, that could violate state rules that prohibit police from enforcing federal immigration laws.

Being in the United States illegally is against the law. Immigration law is not some special category of the law that is not meant to be enforced. It is a proper function of the federal government to enforce immigration law and it is a proper function of local and state governments to enforce federal laws as well.

The state level is a political battlefield where immigration reduction and reform advocates could make some serious headway. At the national level the politicians are a hopeless case and most are opposed to the majority's desire to see more vigorous enforcement of immigration law and a reduction of immigration. But the state ballot initiative process is available in nearly half the states. Immigration reform groups ought to come up with ballot language to change state laws to require local and state police to detain illegal aliens for deportation. A ballot initiative that combined that proposal with other legal changes (e.g. outlaw the acceptance of the matricula consular as identification and the outlawing of driver's licenses for illegal aliens) would probably pass in many states.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 17 12:19 PM  Immigration Border Control
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Mexican, Central American Immigrants Less Skilled

The Public Policy Institute of California has released a report on types of immigrants that come to California.

SAN FRANCISCO, California, November 20, 2003 — Nearly half of the immigrants who arrived in California during the 1990s were born in Mexico, a substantial increase from the previous decade, according to a study released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). Among the 2.8 million new immigrants who arrived in California within the past 10 years, Mexicans and Central Americans also have some of the poorest outcomes, with a greater percentage living in poverty and crowded housing conditions.

Using data from the 2000 Census, the study finds that 46.2 percent of all new immigrants in California were born in Mexico — more than six times the number of new immigrants from any other country and far higher than the number reported in the 1990 Census (38.2%). “This change highlights important policy challenges at both a state and national level, from language issues in California schools to negotiations with Mexico about a new guest worker program,” says PPIC research fellow Laura Hill, who coauthored the report with research associate Joseph Hayes.

Overall, recent immigrants from Mexico and Central America face greater socioeconomic challenges than their counterparts from other major sending regions, such as Southeast and East Asia. Nearly one-third live below the poverty line, compared to only 16 percent of Southeast Asians and 21 percent of East Asians. More than 70 percent have less than a high school diploma (Southeast Asians: 26%, East Asians: 14%). And nearly 80 percent live in crowded housing conditions (Southeast Asians: 57%, East Asians: 36%). However, there is reason for optimism:

A large influx of unskilled immigrants does not solve any major problems for American citizens. It actually creates many problems and costs us all in money, crowding, pollution, and in other ways with little compensatory benefit. The immigration policy of the United States government is harmful to the interests of the vast majority of American citizens. Yet our elites resist any and all attempts to scale back the influx of unskilled immigrants.

The full text of the report California's Newest Immigrants is available as a PDF download.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 17 11:37 AM  Immigration Dumbing Down
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2003 December 12 Friday
Seymour Hersh: Special Forces To Do Major Baathist Manhunt

Seymour Hersh has an interesting article worth reading in full in The New Yorker about a big change in Bush Administration policy toward handling Iraq that revolves around a bigger role for US special forces and former Iraqi intelligence officers.

Americans in the field are trying to solve that problem by developing a new source of information: they plan to assemble teams drawn from the upper ranks of the old Iraqi intelligence services and train them to penetrate the insurgency. The idea is for the infiltrators to provide information about individual insurgents for the Americans to act on. A former C.I.A. station chief described the strategy in simple terms: “U.S. shooters and Iraqi intelligence.” He added, “There are Iraqis in the intelligence business who have a better idea, and we’re tapping into them. We have to resuscitate Iraqi intelligence, holding our nose, and have Delta and agency shooters break down doors and take them”—the insurgents—“out.”

A former intelligence official said that getting inside the Baathist leadership could be compared to “fighting your way into a coconut—you bang away and bang away until you find a soft spot, and then you can clean it out.” An American who has advised the civilian authority in Baghdad said, “The only way we can win is to go unconventional. We’re going to have to play their game. Guerrilla versus guerrilla. Terrorism versus terrorism. We’ve got to scare the Iraqis into submission.”

An analogy with Vietnam is made by some of the insiders that Hersh interviews. Some fear that the hunters will use faulty intelligence engineered by Iraqis who want to manipulate the US forces to use them to settle scores between factions in Iraq competing for power. Some argue that South Vietnamese did the same thing to the CIA and US military in Vietnam and managed to get thousands of non-communists killed by US military hit squads.

Yes, the special forces and intelligence officers could botch their increased authority to do covert operations based on intelligence from Iraqis. But the people Hersh talked with aren't providing the whole story on intelligence efforts in Vietnam. Quite a few years ago (the late 1980s?) I read former US Army captain Stuart A. Herrington's book Silence Was a Weapon: The Vietnam War in the Villages. The book is an account of his time in Vietnam as an intelligence officer in Hau Nghia (sp?) province near the Cambodian border. A few memories from the book stand out. One is that he and other American intelligence officers tried very hard to prevent the South Vietnamese from just killing the Viet Cong and NVA soldiers they captured. Herrington saw that the South Vietnamese, by being so eager to kill, lost the opportunity to gather a great deal of intelligence on Viet Cong and NVA personnel. The work of Herrington and others to get captured communist fighters to switch sides led to the role-up of a terrorist network that was carrying out attacks in Saigon.

The point here is that the quality of the decision-making by the special forces and CIA folks who are being granted so much leeway in Iraq is hard to predict unless one knows the guys sent to Iraq and just how talented and wise they are. The quality of the decision-making will also depend on whether the special forces come under too much pressure to rack up a big body count and show results quickly. Even if there is a single central structure of control by Baathists (doubtful in my view) it can not be broken into quickly.

The Israelis are advising the US forces and are worried that if too many top people are killed then the lower level Iraqi insurgent shooters will just continue to operate but on their own.

There is disagreement, inevitably, on the extent of Baathist control. The former Israeli military-intelligence officer said, “Most of the firepower comes from the Baathists, and they know where the weapons are kept. But many of the shooters are ethnic and tribal. Iraq is very factionalized now, and within the Sunni community factionalism goes deep.” He added, “Unless you settle this, any effort at reconstruction in the center is hopeless.”

Reconstruction in the center may be hopeless anyhow. The only way out might be to break Iraqi up into three pieces.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 12 02:42 AM  Mideast Iraq
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2003 December 11 Thursday
North Korean Activity At Yongbyon Reactor

A US intelligence satellite has picked up signs that the North Koreans may be doing work at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor.

Seoul's JoongAng Ilbo, citing US and South Korean sources, said that a US intelligence satellite had detected "signs of vapor and fumes" from a coal-fired boiler linked to a nuclear laboratory at the plant for four days this month.

It said a truck was also spotted in the area where the nuclear research center's five-megawatt nuclear reactor is located.

The North Korean regime's nuclear weapons program is difficult to analyse from outside. Any visible activity is difficult to interpret. It could be that the North Koreans are working busily on making nukes or it could be that the regime thinks this sort of activity helps it somehow in negotiations.

The details were reported in the South Korea news paper JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo quoted Seoul officials as saying the fumes were detected on December 2, 3, 4 and 7, and that a truck was spotted traveling in and out of the premises of Yongbyon's five-megawatt nuclear reactor on December 3.

It is winter and presumably quite cold at Yongbyon. So heat from a coal-fired reactor would be easier to detect, coal burning would create fumes, and water vapor would likely be visible.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 11 04:04 PM  Korea
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Headscarf Bans In Schools Coming To France, German States

If Islam is so innocuous and Islamic immigrants are so compatible with Western European society then there would be no need to ban Islamic hijab headscarf wearing by teachers and students in European schools. Yet French President Jacques Chirac told a group of secondary school students in Tunis Tunisia that headscarfs and veils are "aggressive".

Jacques Chirac hinted strongly yesterday that France will soon introduce legislation banning Muslim girls from wearing headscarves to school, saying most French people saw "something aggressive" in the veil and that the secular state could not tolerate "ostentatious signs of religious proselytism".

Chirac says the behavior of a small minority can create problems for the rest of society.

"In our public schools, a veil has something aggressive about it which presents a problem of principle, even if only a small minority wears it."

A French government commission has just recommended banning of the headscarves without actually referring to these garments by name.

A government commission appointed by President Jacques Chirac recommended Thursday, December11 , issuing new law to ban "conspicuous" religious signs, including Hijab, in state schools.

A source in the20 -member commission, chaired by former minister Bernard Stasi, told IslamOnline.net that the50 -page made no reference to a specific religious sign to avoid antagonizing the Muslim or any other minority.

Bernard Stasi sees a threat that may destabilize the republic.

But he added: "We must be lucid -- there are in France some behaviors which cannot be tolerated. There are without any doubt forces in France which are seeking to destabilize the republic and it is time for the republic to react."

Well geez Bernard, if the threat is that big shouldn't you be doing more than just banning headscarves? How about something bolder like stopping the influx of Islamic immigrants and the deportation of illegal immigrants currently in France?

UPI Religious Affairs Editor Uwe Siemon-Netto provides some interesting insights into the headscarf debate including the fact that Muslims may choose to attend Christian schools in order to be able to wear headscarves.

France also has an extensive private school system, run mainly by the Catholic Church, where such a law would presumably not apply. This means that if it is adopted, children from strictly Islamic families might flock even more Christian schools, where veiled Muslim girls are already a frequent sight.

Clearly fearing that Christian and Jewish symbols, though usually more discreet than the "hidjab," will also be threatened, the leaders of the Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches warned against such legislation in a joint statement prior to Thursday's announcement; they were joined by grand rabbi Sitruk.

Saida Kada, co-author of a book defending hijab headscarf wearing, says headscarf wearing is a religious matter that has nothing to do with politics.

Mrs. Kada said hijab has nothing to do with politics, but is one of the rules of the Islamic faith.

She underlined that hijab was being used as a pretext to paper over some social ills inside the French society.

Here we start to get to the heart of the matter. Mrs. Kada strikes me as either naive or disingenuous. Islam is all about politics. An Islamic matter is a political matter because Islam does not separate the political sphere from religious sphere.

French philosopher Elisabeth Badinter sees headscarfs as a threat to equality for women.

"If we allow women to wear headscarves in state schools, then the republic and French democracy have made clear their religious tolerance but they have given up on any equality of the sexes in our country," says French philosopher Elisabeth Badinter

One fear is that if headscarves are allowed eventually fundamentalist male Islamists will start punishing any girls and women who do not wear them.

Many prominent French women have signed a petition for a ban on the headscarf.

DOZENS of prominent French women, including the actresses Emmanuelle Béart and Isabelle Adjani and the designer Sonia Rykiel, have issued a plea to Jacques Chirac, the president, to ban traditional Muslim veils as a "visible symbol of the submission of women".

The petition, which was signed by more than 60 of France’s most influential women and published in this week’s edition of French Elle, attacks the Islamic headscarf as "an intolerable discrimination against women" and calls for a law to reinforce the principle of a "lay" republic.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy favors appeasement.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has long opposed such a law, arguing that any ban would increase, rather than reduce, militancy among Muslims.

So Sarkozy is worried about Islamic militancy and opts for appeasement as the preferred response. Sorry Mr. Sarkozy, appeasement is not a solution that works in the long run.

Two German states are moving to ban Islamic headscarfs in schools.

Bavaria, after Baden-Wuerttemberg, is the second state to propose a ban.

Bavarian Education Minister Monika Hohlmeier said the headscarf was increasingly used as a political symbol.

"With this law, we are defending pupils against a potential fundamentalist influence and are respecting the wishes of the majority of parents," she said.

Christian and Jewish symbols are not included in the ban.

The Germans are not trying to pretend for the sake of an appearance of even-handed fairness, that Christian or Jewish religious symbols pose a similar threat.

Meanwhile, the battle over headscarfs continues in Turkey.

To Mazlumder, an Islamic human rights group that campaigns on behalf of women like Yilmaz, such figures are misleading. Worse, the military and police are putting pressure on women not to cover themselves, said Gulden Sonmez, the vice president of the group's Istanbul office.

Clashes between covered women and Turkish authorities have propelled the issue into the public eye. The Turkish president refused to invite the head scarf-wearing wives of Turkey's ruling party to a reception Oct. 29 commemorating modern Turkey's 80th anniversary. Most of the party's members stayed away in protest.

On Nov. 6, a female lawyer who appeared as a defendant before the Turkish Court of Appeals was ordered to leave the courtroom while her case was being heard because she refused to remove her scarf.

If Turkey is accepted as a member of the European Union my guess is that eventually a future Turkish government will relax and eventually do away with headscarf bans.

Update: For those who do not understand why the head scarf debate should even be a political issue decided by governments see some of my previous posts: John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq, Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development, and Muslim Hijab Worn To Protect Females As Property.

Update II: Stasi special commission secretary Remy Schwartz says Muslim girls are pressured into wearing the veil by fundamentalist Muslims.

Schwartz said Muslim girls said they were pressured into wearing veils by family and "outside groups" - a reference to activists officials say are promoting strict religious practices among French Muslims, who are of mostly North African origin.

Schwartz also says that Jewish children have had to leave some French public schools out of fear of their safety.

French chief rabbi Joseph Sitruk advises young French Jewish men to not wear yarmulkes in public in order to avoid being attacked.

"I ask them to replace the yarmulke with the baseball cap," he told Radio Shalom on Monday.

The official spin on the anti-Jewish attacks in France is absurd.

At five million and 650,000 respectively, France has the largest Muslim and Jewish communities in Europe, and government officials and most Jewish leaders argue that the rising inter-community tensions are almost invariably the consequence of political, rather than religious or racial, differences.

Police and court records show that almost all the perpetrators of the latest anti-semitic attacks are young Muslims.

How can the differences be only political and not racial or religious? Would these young Muslims be attacking Jews if the Muslims were not Muslims? Are there Christian immigrants to France who are attacking Jews? In Islam the political is religious.

Update III: The wearing of veils and chadors in France is not voluntary for many Muslim women.

The commission reported that many public schools have become cultural hot spots where Muslim students and families question the authority of women educators, forbid girls to play sports, assault Jewish students and disrupt classes about historical issues such as the Holocaust.

Personnel in public hospitals told the commission about Muslim men demanding that only women doctors treat their wives and daughters, and about other patients, whose ethnicity was not identified in the report, refusing to be treated by doctors "because of their perceived religion," according to the report.

The report described an alarming rise in sexist abuse of girls in schools and housing projects where young men, threatening ostracism and violence, intimidate girls into wearing veils and other religious garb. Islamic extremism — Chirac referred Wednesday to "fanaticism gaining ground"— contributes to a vicious cycle of discrimination and alienation of jobless youths of Muslim descent, who retreat into the refuge of hard-core Islam, according to the report.

...

"They say that if the youth weren't so aggressive, it wouldn't have come to this," the intelligence official said. "You have more and more girls wearing veils or chadors. And it's not their parents, it's their brothers who are demanding that they put it on."

People who think the headscarf/veil issue is just a matter of individual choice versus state power are missing the oppression of Muslim females by Muslim males.

The US State Department is predictably clueless about the problem the French are wrestling with.

Where people "are peacefully practising their faith, is it really necessary to be outlawing their manifestation of their own faith?" John Hanford, the US ambassador at large for international religious freedom, asked.

Does Hanford think that Muslim males should be free to practice their heartfelt belief that they must force females to veil themselves?

"Where people are wearing these with no provocation simply as a manifestation of their own heartfelt beliefs, we don't see where this causes divisions among peoples," he said.

Writing for the New York Times Christopher Caldwell sees the headscarf debate as a consequence of a larger set of problems with Muslims in France.

Last year, the sociologist Emmanuel Brenner assembled a 200-page book, "The Lost Territories of the Republic,'' recounting dozens of incidents in which students directed ethnic slurs at their teachers and ridiculed lectures on the Holocaust. The book reportedly made a deep impression on Mr. Chirac. A half-dozen Jewish institutions have been burned to the ground, most recently in November, when an Orthodox primary school was torched in Gagny, a Paris suburb.

Jews are eventually going to have to leave France if the Muslim population in France continues to increase.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 11 02:24 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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UCLA Chicano Studies Academic Calls For Voting Rights For Non-Citizens

Consider this as nature's way of trying to tell American citizens that illegal aliens ought to be deported en masse.

A new study by UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center recommends increasing public debate about whether noncitizens in California should vote and developing a consensus for a constitutional amendment that would permit noncitizens to vote in local elections.

According to study author and UCLA law lecturer Joaquin Avila, a de facto political apartheid will exist in California if steps are not taken to include more than 4.6 million non‑citizen adults in the voting process.

"The new census data shows that many communities in California have significant Latino non-citizen populations who do not have the right to vote," said Avila, a voting rights expert and former president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. "The continued political exclusion of this non-citizen population will have negative repercussions on community grass-roots efforts to promote a more inclusive and cohesive society."

In California, noncitizens make up nearly 19 percent of the adult population, or more than 4.6 million adults, according to the study. Three million of these noncitizens are Latinos.

In 12 cities, noncitizens make up the majority of adults. These cities include Santa Ana, Bell Gardens and San Joaquin in Fresno County. In Los Angeles, which is the largest city in the state, non-citizen adults comprise about one-third of the population.

All pronouncements that illegal immigration is unstoppable are false. A wall could be built along the entire stretch of the US-Mexico border to stop the influx of illegal aliens. Local police could be ordered to arrest and hold for deportation all illegal aliens that they encounter. Numerous other policies could be adopted to make it difficult for illegal aliens to reach and stay in the United States. The alternative is a less cohesive, higher tax, higher crime, and higher poverty society that crowds out citizens who can no longer afford to live in California.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 11 11:20 AM  Immigration Border Control
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2003 December 10 Wednesday
Bullies Are Popular And Have High Self Esteems

Here's another nail in the coffin of the foolish myth that a utopian therapeutic society can make everyone behave better by making them feel better about themselves.

More than one in five 12-year-olds are repeatedly either bullies, victims or both, and bullies are often popular and viewed by classmates as the "coolest" in their classes, according to new UCLA research from the most comprehensive study on young adolescent bullying in an ethnically diverse, large urban setting.

Bullies, seven percent of the students, are psychologically strong.

"Bullies are popular and respected: they are considered the 'cool' kids," said Jaana Juvonen, UCLA professor of psychology, and lead author of "Bullying Among Young Adolescents: The Strong, the Weak and the Troubled," published in the December issue of the journal Pediatrics. "They don't show signs of depression or social anxiety and they don't feel lonely.

"We hope that these findings help us dispel the myth that bullies suffer from low self-esteem," Juvonen said. "Our data indicate that bullies do not need ego boosters. Unfortunately, this myth is still guiding many programs conducted in schools. Instead, we should be concerned about the popularity of bullies and how to change the peer culture that encourages bullying."

Depression, social anxiety and loneliness are common among victims of bullies, who are nine percent of the students in the UCLA study.

"Young teens who are victims of bullying are often emotionally distressed and socially marginalized," said Juvonen, who also works as a consultant to Los Angeles elementary schools on developing anti-bullying programs. "Many of the victims are disengaged in school.

"Victims are reluctant to talk about their plight," she said. They suffer is silence and often blame themselves. This is one of our challenges for intervention: We need to provide students with educational settings in which they feel comfortable talking about their plight. But we also need to give kids tools to effectively deal with bullying. One method of doing so involves engaging students to talk about strategies that might help them stop bullying and tactics that make them feel better after being bullied. Teachers can facilitate the generalization of these skills if they help students mediate incidents between students."

The victims have even worse lives than those shown in Hollywood coming-of-age teen movies.

Students who witness bullying often encourage bullies by watching someone getting pushed around or called names or helping a classmate spread rumors about another student, Juvonen said. Bystanders rarely intervene with bullying. Juvonen regards this as one of the biggest challenges for effective anti-bullying intervention.

"Bully-victims," the six percent of students who both bully and get bullied, are the most disturbed group of all, Juvonen and her colleagues found. They are by far the most unpopular students, least engaged in school, most disruptive in class and they also reported somewhat elevated levels of depression and loneliness, Juvonen said. Teachers ranked these "bully-victims" as having by far the most conduct problems.

Kids are much closer to the Hobbesian state of nature and lessons from studies such as this one are useful for understanding international relations between states unrestrained by any higher authority. Also, the bullies bear some resemblance to dictators who can be surprisingly popular and defended as they beat on their own people and neighboring countries.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 10 06:13 PM  Human Nature
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2003 December 08 Monday
On Automation, Job Losses, And Immigration

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame has a column up on Tech Central Station which explores the question of whether robots will lead to mass unemployment (my guess: YES!). Along the way he points out that the rise of unemployment due to robotic automation may lead to an increase in anti-immigration sentiment.

First, lots of low-skill jobs are disappearing forever. Second, that trend is likely to accelerate. Third, even if (as I suspect) the economy generates new jobs to replace the old ones, the new jobs may not be as low-skill, and they won't magically appear in synchrony with the disappearance of the jobs they replace. The upshot is that there are likely to be both economic and political repercussions from technological change, and the technological change that drives them is likely to occur at an accelerating pace. That will produce both short-term and long-term consequences.

In the short-term, we're likely to see a swing toward protectionism and perhaps even a growth of anti-immigrant sentiment; the former is already beginning to show up in the 2004 election dialogue, and the latter may still appear before things are over. In the longer term the consequences are likely to be more significant than Brain thinks, though it's hard to say exactly how.

The part where he says "the new jobs may not be as low-skill" is the most important for setting immigration policy in the short and medium term. If automation is going to lead to unemployment among lower skilled workers first then it certainly makes sense to adjust immigration policy to keep out the lower skilled immigrants. The selective growth of the skilled part of the workforce would help delay the day when automation leads to the problem of mass unemployment.

Does it make sense to translate this growing sentiment against immigration into changes in public policy? Do technological trends provide a compelling argument for changing immigration policy? Reynolds points out that people have been predicting mass unemployment due to automation for decades and yet this has not yet come to pass. However, a very worrying trend in the United States and other Western nations has been the relative and absolute decline in wages of the lower skilled and unskilled workers. One of the causes of this trend is the large influx of low skilled immigrants.

In Britain the real wages of the bottom 10 percentage have stagnated for two decades.

UK workers in the bottom 10% of the income distribution have seen almost zero real growth in their wages over the last 20 years. In contrast, workers in the top 10% of the income distribution have had real wage increases of around 50%. Two potential causes have been cited for this widening wage gap: international trade and technical change.

An article from The Economist published in 2000 reports real wages for the least educated have been declining for at least 20 years.

As the demand for brains has risen relative to the demand for brawn, so wage differentials have widened in favour of the better-educated. Since 1979, average weekly earnings of college graduates in America have risen by more than 30% relative to those of high-school graduates (see chart 12), increasing the wage gap to its widest for at least 60 years. The wage gap between college graduates and high-school drop-outs has grown by twice as much. Since average real wages rose relatively slowly for much of this period, the real pay of the least educated has actually fallen over the past 20 years.

Technological advances are causing a widening gap between skilled and unskilled workers.

This paper confronts a CGE model to observed evolutions in France, between 1970 and 1992, through a structural decomposition analysis. The choice of the model and the assumption of constant elasticities over time enable the structural change of the economy between two equilibria to be summarised through a set of four types of state variables, reflecting the effect of technical change, changes in factor supplies, shifts in consumption patterns, and international trade. Simulations then allow the contribution of each of these shocks to be assessed. We find that technical change had a strong positive impact on the relative wage of skilled to unskilled workers, while the impact of changes in factor supplies is strongly negative. The effect of international trade is far less important. However, if we take into account a trade-induced effect on productivity, then we find that trade substantially increased wage inequalities.

Declining demand for unskilled labor has driven down wages rates for the least skilled in the US while it has caused persistent high unemployment in continental European countries.

In the United States, for example, wages of less-skilled workers have fallen steeply since the late 1970s relative to those of the more skilled. Between 1979 and 1988 the average wage of a college graduate relative to the average wage of a high school graduate rose by 20 percent and the average weekly earnings of males in their forties to average weekly earnings of males in their twenties rose by 25 percent. This growing inequality reverses a trend of previous decades (by some estimates going back as far as the 1910s) toward greater income equality between the more skilled and the less skilled. At the same time, the average real wage in the United States (that is, the average wage adjusted for inflation) has grown only slowly since the early 1970s and the real wage for unskilled workers has actually fallen. It has been estimated that male high school dropouts have suffered a 20 percent decline in real wages since the early 1970s.

In other countries, the impact of the demand shift has been on employment rather than on income. Except in the United Kingdom, the changes in wage differentials have generally been much less marked than in the United States. Countries with smaller increases in wage inequality suffered instead from higher rates of unemployment for less-skilled workers.

Technological advances in combination with a continuing large influx of low skilled immigrants will eventually combine to make the supply of unskilled labor so great in the United States that even the US minimum wage will be too high to prevent mass unemployment. In Europe the more regulated labor market is causing this effect already. Unemployment rates in many European countries are several points higher than US rates and this has been true since at least some time in the 1980s (see the graphs here where the unemployment gap between the US and Europe opens around 1984). America's labor market in the future will have many similarities to the current labor markets in Europe with high unemployment and high welfare payments to support the unemployed. A drastic reduction in unskilled immigration could delay the day when mass unemployment becomes common in the United States.

Update: Georges Vernez, then director (not sure if he still is) of Rand Corporation's Center for Research on Immigration Policy, testified to Congress on April 21, 1998 about the lack of job growth for unskilled jobs in California and the resulting flight of native born along with a decline of labor market participation among the least skilled.

On the cost side, however, the employment prospects and wages of less-educated workers have dropped steadily because a greater number of workers--both native-born and foreign-born--are competing for a fixed number of jobs. Of the 7 million new jobs created in California from 1960 to 1990, 85 percent were filled by workers with one or more years of college and 15 percent were filled by workers with only a high school degree. Since there has been no job growth in the unskilled sector, less-educated newcomers are now taking jobs vacated by retirees or by workers moving out of the state.

These immigrants are also taking jobs from native-born high school dropouts. The employment rate among these workers fell from 67 percent in 1970 to 47 percent in 1990. Although the main reasons for this decline are increased world-wide competition, technological advances, and the availability of cheap labor in developing countries, immigration to the state has also been a factor. We estimate that immigration has caused 15 to 25 percent of this decline. Employment among high school graduates has also declined, although not as sharply.

Overall, between 1960 and 1990, we estimate that between 130,000 to 190,000 native-born people were not working as a result of immigration. This figure represents about 3 to 5 percent of all those unemployed or out of the labor force.

Immigration has also had a downward effect on the wages of unskilled workers. Between 1970 and 1990, the real wages of native-born high school dropouts declined by 24 percent in California, with about one-tenth of this decline attributable to immigration. Foreign-born workers have also suffered wage erosion.

Labor market participation among the least educated and least skilled has declined quite dramatically. People are leaving California because their wages have declined due in part to immigration. The vast bulk of job growth is happening for the more highly educated. The future of declining availability of work for the less skilled is already here. It is already happening.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 08 04:20 PM  Immigration Economics
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2003 December 05 Friday
US Steel Industry Restructured, Cut Costs During Tariff Period

In a BusinessWeek article Paul Magnusson reports that while partially protected by tariffs from foreign competition the US steel industry moved vigorously to merge and restructure in order to cut costs.

Even steel executives acknowledge that the temporary tariffs helped the industry get back on its feet. Thomas Usher, chairman and CEO of United States Steel (SXX ), says the tariffs stabilized prices, allowed the U.S. industry to consolidate, stopped the flood of bankruptcies and layoffs, and encouraged a wave of productivity-enhancing investment.

More than half of steel-production capacity today is owned by companies that have merged or restructured, Bush Administration figures show. Usher's company can now produce a ton of steel with just two man-hours, down from two-and-a-half before the tariffs were imposed, he says. And the company's stock, at $27.65 as of Dec. 4, is within spitting distance of its 52-week high.

Contrary to the impression you might get from listening to the many critics of Bush Administration steel tariffs, Magnusson points out that the other steel-producing nations are far from highly principled free marketeers when it comes to the steel industry:

There's no free market in steel because most nations -- other than the U.S. -- either massively subsidize or own outright their nation's steel plants, totally distorting the market.

Ron Scherer and Adam Parker of The Christian Science Monitor report that major changes have recently happened on the shop floor of US steel plants.

Yet probably the biggest change is on the shop floor. In an industry that has a history of difficult union-management relations, much of the animosity in the hot and noisy mills is dissipating. For example, here at Sparrows Point, ISG eliminated 200 overseers, reducing seven layers of management to three. "There are less people looking over their shoulders," says Joe Rosel, a United Steelworkers contract coordinator who helped negotiate the new contract.

Now, the workers are basically running the plant, making many of the day-to-day operating decisions. "We were 50 years coming to this point," says Jim Huber, a union trainer.

The workers are quick to point out that they are working harder too: Sometimes one hard hat is doing the work that used to be done by two or more. Some 165 different job descriptions - with all the union ramifications - have been trimmed to five. "It's been hard to get used to in the last six months," says Mr. Huber, "but a lot of growing pains have eased."

So the tariffs did not cause the steel industry to become incredibly complacent.

My own reaction to the steel tariffs brouhaha is that it has been a tempest in a teacup. The United States has such low barriers to imports that it is running a half trillion dollar trade deficit of about 5% of GDP. In the face of this massive deficit assorted economists and free market advocates have found far more time to castigate the Bush Administration for tariffs than they have to discuss what is doing far more harm to the long term health of the US economy: the gradual build-up of huge debts owed to other nations and the loss of sales by US businesses to foreign competitors. Some argue that the deficit is there because the US government is running a large budget deficit and therefore is sucking in foreign money to buy bonds. There are two facts that, at the very least, have to be reconciled with that explanation:

  • The large US trade deficit continued even in the latter Clinton years when the US government budget swung into a large surplus.
  • The decline of US interest rates and the US stock market have not worked to shrink the size of the deficit as foreign money has continued to flow in faster than US goods have flowed out.

There is an aspect of the focus of economists on things like tariffs where they have a model that predicts that a certain policy is bad and they are sort of like someone in possession of a hammer who wants to knock away at nails. Meanwhile there are all sorts of nuts and bolts that need attending to (e.g. the overvalued dollar and the huge trade deficit) and most economists do not have nearly as much to say about these other very real economic problems.

To his credit in a recent Tech Central Station essay Arnold Kling took a stab at explaining the US trade deficit problem and argues that the US might be able to shrink the trade deficit by shifting taxes from income to consumption.

The best idea from supply-side economics is to use tax policy to encourage work and thrift rather than as a tool to redistribute income. We should change the mix of taxes to favor saving rather than consumption. That would increase private saving.

In another Tech Central Station essay Kling argues that the overvalued dollar is caused by a desire of people around the world to invest in a safe haven.

Why do foreign investors invest so heavily in dollar-denominated assets and bear the risk of a decline in the dollar? Personally, I think it is because they are stupid. But that is not an appropriate answer for an economist to give.

If I were forced to pick an economic theory to explain the dollar bubble, it would be the theory of the safe haven. In a world of political and economic turmoil, America's securities represent a stable store of value. Are you a Saudi worried about the viability of the regime? Buy U.S. securities. Are you a citizen of a former Soviet republic trying to keep the criminals and kleptocrats away from your savings? Buy U.S. securities. Are you a European who is pessimistic about the prospects for the welfare state? You get the idea.

That flow of money to buy US securities, by driving up the value of the dollar, effectively reduces the demand for actual real American products and services. So one way to explain the US trade deficit is that the rest of the world has enough fear about the stability of their own societies that they want too much in the way of US financial assets. Is this argument correct? There are reasons to be skeptical. For instance, private Japanese investors have ceased to be net purchasers of US securities and yet the Japanese government is buying US treasuries in order to prop up the dollar against the Yen in order to increase Japanese exports to the US while simultaneously decreasing US exports to Japan (and probably do to the same for Japanese trade for other countries since, for instance, China's currency is fixed against the dollar).

Suppose Arnold Kling's argument is correct. This means that foreign people in massive numbers make decisions that cause the US market to become highly distorted. Is it wrong for the US government to try to pursue policies that compensate for this distortion? Or are such policies anti-free market and therefore automatically wrong? The latter position strikes me as ideological. Economists who argue that it is wrong for governments to attempt to compensate for the madness of the crowd are clinging to an incorrect model in the face of enormous evidence that humans do not behave like highly rational homo economicus. Attempts to make policy prescriptions based on false assumptions about human nature have got to lead to bad policy choices.

In the real world foreign investors went through a period of irrational exuberance about the US economy and then when that irrational exuberance finally started to wane other governments stepped in to keep the currency market thoroughly distorted. For example, when Japanese investors lost their enthusiasm for US securities the Japanese government stepped in to replace them.

Foreign investors are growing wary. According to Dr. Rob Van de Wijngaert, a strategist at ABN AMRO in Amsterdam, U.S. Treasury numbers show that "apparently there is not a single institutional fund in Japan which is willing to buy U.S. Treasuries and instead the Bank of Japan purchased no less that $150bn this year" According to Van de Wijngaert, the latest numbers show that foreign "demand for U.S. Treasuries, bonds and stocks is plummeting."

Japanese government purchases of US Treasuries are only part of a larger Japanese government intervention to prop up the dollar against the Yen.

For example, the Bank of Japan has already spent 18 trillion yen (S$283 billion) slowing US dollar losses against the yen this year, and the strongest signals on our charts are for further euro, Sterling pound and Australian dollar gains versus the yen.

In descending order Japan, Britain, and China are the three biggest holders of U.S. Treasuries. It would be very interesting to know in each case what percentage of those Treasures are held by central banks and by private entities.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 05 06:54 PM  Economics Political
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2003 December 04 Thursday
Wind-Up Radios For North Korea Would Cost Only $20 Each

StrategyPage.com has a post up about cheap wind-up radios that US forces are distributing in Afghanistan.

The 200,000 radios the U.S. is buying will probably cost less than four million dollars. But it appears to be a good investment, as the Taliban and warlords in Afghanistan have gained power, and stayed in power, by taking advantage of the relative ignorance of most Afghans. The radios will provide a lot of information (and music, soap operas, religious programming and much more), and will definitely change the information landscape.

Trent Telenko comments "Now if they would only do this with North Korea.". No kidding Trent. To make enough wind-up radios for the approximately 22.5 million people in North Korea would cost about $45 million dollars. Delivering them might cost more than making them. Some could be put into floatation containers and delivered out of US attack submarines all along the North Korean coastline. Others could be attached to helium or hydrogen balloons (the hydrogen could be generated cheaply from electricity and water) and launched upwind from whereever the winds were blowing into North Korea. This could be done from South Korea (unless our enemies the South Koreans prevented us from doing so) or off the North Korean coastline outside of territorial waters. Still others could be placed in obscure locations in North Korean ships docked in foreign ports.

The Bush Administration's strategy for North Korea is inadequate to deal with the threat North Korea poses. South Korea and China are playing enablers propping up the regime while North Korea's nuclear and missile programs continue under development. The US needs to use more tactics against the North Korean regime. One way the US could weaken the North Korean regime is by breaking the information monopoly that the regime holds over its own people. Many of the radios floated on the water or the air toward North Korea would not make it into the hands of regular North Korean people. But given the low cost associated with making and delivering the radios for the cost of what that the US spends in Iraq in a single week the US could easily afford to send ten times as many radios into North Korea as there are North Koreans to hear them.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 04 06:45 PM  Korea
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US Has More Troops In Afghanistan Than NATO Partners

The United States has over twice as many soldiers in Afghanistan as the rest of its NATO partners combined.

Since August, NATO has had more than 5,000 peacekeeping troops in the capital, Kabul, while some 11,000 American troops mop up remnants of the Taliban and search for Al Qaeda leaders. The US needs its forces in Iraq and wants Europe to create a larger military presence in Afghanistan, especially as Taliban forces appear to be sabotaging aid and election work.

Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture? NATO has extended the reach of the national government of Afghanistan all the way to the outskirts of Kabul. What about the rest of the country?

Canada's cited reason for not sending troops to Iraq was that Canada was committed to a role in Afghanistan and had no troops to spare. But Canada says it is tapped out just supplying 2000 troops for one whole year.

The Canadian military is committed to two six-month rotations of 2,000 troops in the capital of Kabul as a stabilization force.

The Canadian government is trying to find another NATO country to take its place.

Defence minister John McCallum challenged his NATO counterparts yesterday to find a replacement force for Canada’s troops in Afghanistan when their mission ends in August after noticing little movement among other members of the alliance to take over.

The Canadian soldiers have to get back home before their military collapses.

The report by the influential School of Policy Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, said Canada's armed forces will face "massive obsolescence" within two years.

Canada has a very small military.

According to the university, the Canadian armed forces needs an additional 4000 soldiers, a little less than 10 percent of its current manpower, in order to be fully functional.

The US ought to pull its forces out of the Balkans and force the European countries to deal with it. If the Europeans are going to take so little of a role outside of Europe then the US ought to at least force them to deal with problems in their own backyards.

Update: Out-going NATO Secretary-General George Robertson thinks NATO ought to be able to deploy more troops abroad.

To Robertson, it is unacceptable that an organization with 1.4 million men and women in uniform and more than 1 million reservists feels overstretched with only 55,000 troops currently deployed around the globe.

But where are these troops deployed? With 5,000 in Afghanistan that leaves another 50,000 still to count. Some of them are probably the British, Polish, Spanish, and Italian troops in Iraq. But that still comes nowhere close to adding up to 50,000. Probably there are more in the Balkans than Iraq. Are there any NATO troops anywhere else? Perhaps European naval deployments around the Horn of Africa are counted in the total.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 04 04:11 PM  Chaotic Regions
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2003 December 03 Wednesday
Husain Haqqani Says Madrassah Schools Resistant To Change

Pakistani columnist Husain Haqqani has an excellent article in the November/December 2003 issue of Foreign Policy about the history and more recent changes in the development of Islamic Madrassah (also spelled Madrasa or Madrassa) religious schools.

The remarkable transformation and global spread of Madrasas during the 1980s and 1990s owes much to geopolitics, sectarian struggles, and technology, but the schools’ influence and staying power derive from deep-rooted socioeconomic conditions that have so far proved resistant to change. Now, with the prospect of Madrasas churning out tens of thousands of would-be militant graduates each year, calls for reform are growing. But anyone who hopes for change in the schools’ curriculum, approach, or mind-set is likely to be disappointed. In some ways, Madrasas are at the center of a civil war of ideas in the Islamic world. Westernized and usually affluent Muslims lack an interest in religious matters, but religious scholars, marginalized by modernization, seek to assert their own relevance by insisting on orthodoxy. A regular education costs money and is often inaccessible to the poor, but Madrasas are generally free. Poor students attending Madrasas find it easy to believe that the West, loyal to uncaring and aloof leaders, is responsible for their misery and that Islam as practiced in its earliest form can deliver them.

Saudi Arabia responded to the attempt of the Iranians to use Madrassah schools against Arab leaders and instead tried to redirect Sunni religious fervor to be against both Shiism and the West.

The Iranian Revolution and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, both in 1979, inspired a profound shift in the Muslim world—and in the Madrasas. Iran’s mullahs had managed to overthrow the shah and take power, undermining the idea that religious education was useless in worldly matters. Although Iranians belong to the minority Shiite sect of Islam, and their Madrasas have always had a more political character than Sunni seminaries, the image of men in turbans and robes running a country provided a powerful demonstration effect and politicized Madrasas everywhere.

Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolutionary regime promised to export its revolutionary Shiite ideas to other Muslim states. Khomeini invited teachers and students from Madrasas in other countries to Tehran for conferences and parades, and he offered money and military training to radical Islamic movements. Iranians argued that the corrupt Arab monarchies must be overthrown just as Iranians had overthrown the shah. Iran’s Arab rivals decided to fight revolutionary Shiite fundamentalism with their own version of Sunni fundamentalism. Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries began to pour money into Sunni Madrasas that rejected the Shiite theology of Iran, fund ulema who declared the Shiite Iranian model unacceptable to Sunnis, and call for a fight against Western decadence rather than Muslim rulers.

One reason why I argue in favor of many strategies for reducing the threat of Islamic terrorism that are rarely mentioned in the mainstream debate is that in my view the causes of the terrorism are deep-seated and very resistant to change. We can't just up and order a major religion to go through a huge intellectual change just because the adherents of that religion are reacting to modernity in ways that create growing threats to us. Nor can we end the threat simply by carrying out a series of military conquests.

We need to be inspired by Sun Tzu's The Art Of War and pursue more strategies of indirection such as funding scholars to do critical research on the origins of Islam, funding basic researchers to look for breakthroughs that will enable the development of technologies that obsolesce Middle Eastern oil, and the adoption of aggressive immigration and border control policies that drastically reduce the number of Muslims that can travel to the West. Because of our rather limited ability to change the development of Muslim societies in a positive fashion we face a situation analogous to a Cold War with a need for long term containment. There are no quick solutions.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 03 12:55 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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2003 December 02 Tuesday
Steve Sailer On The Iraq Partition Argument

Steve Sailer has written an essay that reviews the arguments for partitioning Iraq. Steve points out that Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, has come out in favor of partition (same article here).

A strategy of breaking up Iraq and moving toward a three-state solution would build on these realities. The general idea is to strengthen the Kurds and Shiites and weaken the Sunnis, then wait and see whether to stop at autonomy or encourage statehood.

The first step would be to make the north and south into self-governing regions, with boundaries drawn as closely as possible along ethnic lines. Give the Kurds and Shiites the bulk of the billions of dollars voted by Congress for reconstruction. In return, require democratic elections within each region, and protections for women, minorities and the news media.

...

The only viable strategy, then, may be to correct the historical defect and move in stages toward a three-state solution: Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center and Shiites in the south.

In his own essay on partition Steve reviews many areas of the world where both peace and prosperity came as a result of partition.

Even when the great and the good are fighting for de facto secession, as in the 1999 Kosovo War, they cloak their actions in paeans to multicultural unity. The result of our interventions in the Balkans was the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Croatia, the effective partition of Bosnia, and a combination of the two in Kosovo. Yet, Bill Clinton still declared with a straight face, "[T]he principle we and our allies have been fighting for in the Balkans is the principle of multiethnic, tolerant, inclusive democracy."

Baloney. Peace and democracy didn't come to the Balkans until the various states and statelets became monoethnic, intolerant, and uninclusive. But, shhhh, you're not supposed to mention that.

Steve points out some of the problems with partitioning Iraq. Notably, who gets the oil? Also, Saddam Hussien forcibly relocated many Arabs into what used to be overwhelmingly Kurdish cities in the north. At the same time, many Shias moved north from the Shia heartland into poor neighborhoods on the outskirts of what was mostly Sunni Baghdad. Therefore the Shias and Sunnis are also far more intertwined than they used to be. But, as Steve points out, it is not like anyone has a better idea on how to make Iraq governable by anyone short of a brutal repressive dictator.

A division will leave some of each group being governed by a government dominated by one of the other groups. But the lack of a division will leave the Kurds and Sunnis being governed by the majority Shias. So how is division any worse? Division has the advantage of allowing the bulk of the Kurds and the Sunnis to be governed by their own kind. It also would take oil revenue away from the Sunnis and force the Sunnis into being a lot more responsible and a lot less able to cause trouble for others. The Sunnis, faced with the knowledge that they will soon be in charge of their own area, will also have far less incentive to continue their attacks. Plus, the US could draw down its forces in the Sunni Triangle since the Sunni Iraqi state will be the least important of the 3 new partition states.

See my own previous post of almost 4 weeks ago supportive of the partition proposal: Jim Hoagland: Sunnis In Iraq See Democracy As A Threat. Note that partition would turn many Sunnis from democracy opponents to democracy supporters. They wouldn't see dictatorship as a means to allow their faction to rule over Shias and Kurds since the vast bulk of Shias and Kurds would no longer be in their state. At the same time, democracy would be appealing to those Sunnis who would rather not have a dictator oppressing only them.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 02 01:36 PM  MidEast Iraq Partition
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Stephen Roach: White Collar Work Week Longer Than Reported

Morgan Stanley chief economist Stephen Roach, casting doubt on recent figures which show large rises in worker productivity, says financial services workers are putting in more hours than are reported.

For example, in financial services, the Labor Department tells us that the average workweek has been unchanged, at 35.5 hours, since 1988. That's patently absurd. Courtesy of a profusion of portable information appliances (laptops, cell phones, personal digital assistants, etc.), along with near ubiquitous connectivity (hard-wired and now increasingly wireless), most information workers can toil around the clock. The official data don't come close to capturing this cultural shift.

As a result, we are woefully underestimating the time actually spent on the job. It follows, therefore, that we are equally guilty of overestimating white-collar productivity. Productivity is not about working longer. It's about getting more value from each unit of work time. The official productivity numbers are, in effect, mistaking work time for leisure time.

His argument correlates with what we see happening around us. Lots of people talk on their cell phones about work-related matters while doing their driving commutes. E-mails about work matters flow at all hours of the day and night. People go on vacation and keep track of business events using cell phones. Faxes flow in to home fax machines. Though these changes do not affect all kinds of work. Still, there are plenty of people who do all their work and work-related communications while at the office. Roach's own position as a chief economist at a major brokerage firm is untypical. Some types of jobs require that by their very nature. In other cases where people interact with computers the employers do not allow access to corporate database access applications from off-premises sites.

How much has your own work bled over into your non-work life as a result of advances in communications and computing technology? How much of that change is voluntary on your part and how much is being pushed on you by your employer, customers or vendors?

By Randall Parker 2003 December 02 12:18 PM  Economics Political
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Lee Kuan Yew On The Western Response To Islamic Terrorism

Jim Miller points to a column by Fareed Zakaria where Zakaria interviews Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore on terrorism.

“The Europeans underestimate the problem of Al Qaeda-style terrorism,” he said. “They think that the United States is exaggerating the threat. They compare it to their own many experiences with terror—the IRA, the Red Brigade, the Baader-Meinhof, ETA. But they are wrong.”

HE WENT ON: “Al Qaeda-style terrorism is new and unique because it is global. An event in Morocco can excite the passions of extremist groups in Indonesia. There is a shared fanatical zealousness among these different extremists around the world. Many Europeans think they can finesse the problem, that if they don’t upset Muslim countries and treat Muslims well, the terrorists won’t target them. But look at Southeast Asia. Muslims have prospered here. But still, Muslim terrorism and militancy have infected them.”

Still, Lee sees the US response as too one-dimensional.

“The Americans, however, make the mistake of seeking largely a military solution. You must use force. But force will only deal with the tip of the problem. In killing the terrorists, you will only kill the worker bees. The queen bees are the preachers, who teach a deviant form of Islam in schools and Islamic centers, who capture and twist the minds of the young.”

But Lee recognizes that, of course, US soldiers can't burst into mosques and cart away radical preachers. There is no military strategy for dealing with fundamentalist preachers that is morally acceptable. Lee thinks the US and Europe need to present a more united bloc and he believes that German and French rhetoric critical of the US actually serves as propaganda that Islamic radicals use to recruit more terrorists.

Lee thinks the West needs to support the moderates both in rhetoric and through substantive action to provide resources to help the more moderate Muslims. But I see Lee's advice and Bush's democratization campaign to be incompatible to some extent. If, for instance, elections were held in Saudi Arabia it is quite possible that the populace of Saudi Arabia would vote in a government that was even more fundamentalist than the one they currently have. Jordan, Syria, and Egypt similarly would probably get more Islamic governments if they had truly free elections.

The US needs a strategy to deal with the Islamists that has many more dimensions to it:

  • Defund the Saudis and Iranian Mullahs. Engage in a massive program to fund basic research in a large range of energy technologies with the goal of developing energy sources that are cheaper than oil from the Middle East.
  • Change and toughen immigration policy rules and enforcement to reduce the flow of Muslims into both Europe and the United States. Make it much easier to deny permanent residency and citizenship to anyone of questionable loyalties.
  • Fund secular education in the Muslim countries. Note that the Bush Administration has begun to provide educational funding in Pakistan and Indonesia. But it is not clear how that money will be spent.
  • Fund more radio stations and satellite TV stations to present facts and ideas that counter the propaganda that regional Muslim media put out.
  • Fund new Middle Eastern studies departments in universities that do not get any funding from Middle Eastern sources and which do not have faculties that are radical and hostile to the United States. Our government needs to be able to recruit people who understand the Middle East and Islam whose primary loyalties are to the United States. That is hard to do given the way American academia works now.
  • Provide large financial incentives and training to US diplomats, intelligence agents, and soldiers to develop fluency in Arabic and other languages spoken in Muslim countries.
  • Pursue a more effective strategy of preemption against Iran and North Korea. It is necessary to prevent the eventual spread of nuclear weapons into so many hands or else terrorist use of such weapons will become much more likely.
By Randall Parker 2003 December 02 09:21 AM  Terrorists Western Response
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2003 December 01 Monday
Growing Ranks Of Officially Disabled Understates Unemployment Level

A rise in disability payments in the United States causes an understatement of the real unemployment rate.

By the end of the 1990's boom, this invisible unemployment seemed to have stabilized. With the arrival of this recession, it has exploded. From 1999 to 2003, applications for disability payments rose more than 50 percent and the number of people enrolled has grown by one million. Therefore, if you correctly accounted for all of these people, the peak unemployment rate in this recession would have probably pushed 8 percent.

...

Unfortunately, underreporting unemployment has served the interests of both political parties. Democrats were able to claim unemployment fell in the 1990's to the lowest level in 40 years, happy to ignore the invisible unemployed. Republicans have eagerly embraced the view that the recession of 2001 was the mildest on record.

Keep in mind, though, that a lot of loafers on disability payments who are not really disabled would be working if they were not able to receive the payments. So while the argument by Austan Goolsbee that disability payments cause an underestimate of official unemployment not all those who are unemployed and on disability are unemployed as a result of worsening economic conditions.

Many European countries have a suspiciously high percentage of their populations classifed as disabled.

The need for reform is clear. OECD countries spend at least twice as much on disability-related programmes as they spend on unemployment programmes. Disability benefits on average account for more than 10 percent of total social spending. In the Netherlands, Norway and Poland they reach as much as 20 percent of social expenditure.

The Netherlands has a low unemployment rate by European standards. But about one seventh of the Netherlands working age population lives on disability payments.

The absurdly generous disability scheme, the WAO, has nearly 1 million people on its rolls out of a total working-age population of 7 million.

In Sweden the misclassification of unemployed workers as disabled occurs on an even greater scale.

By October more than 800,000 people, or a fifth of the workforce, were on sick leave or had been pensioned off early, according to the National Insurance Board. The cost from January to October was 86.5 billion crowns ($11.45 billion) or 15 percent of spending.

Those rates are the worst in the EU and have doubled in two years, despite the healthy lifestyle of a people who smoke and drink less than other Europeans, do more sport and have the world's third highest standard of living in U.N. rankings.

The populations of the Western democracies are aging. The burden of supporting the swelling ranks of the elderly looks set to grow substantially. The Western countries need to push the able-bodied among their populations out into the workforce to work, produce goods and services, and pay taxes to support those who really can not work.

By Randall Parker 2003 December 01 01:39 PM  Economics Political
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