2004 March 31 Wednesday
Oddly Clarke Is More Critical Of Bush Than Of Clinton

John Lehman, Republican member of the 9-11 Commission and former Navy Secretary under Ronald Reagan, was on the PBS NewsHour news show talking about Richard Clarke and the 9/11 Commission hearings. He said that in public Clarke focuses his criticism on Bush. But in private hearings he has been extremely critical of Clinton in ways that do not come out in public. This seems odd. Clarke has been portrayed in the press as a non-partisan professional just doing his job and some have reported that Clarke is a Republican. Yet in the 2000 election Clarke admitted to Tim Russert that he voted for Al Gore.

MR. RUSSERT: You voted for Al Gore.

MR. CLARKE: Yes, I did.

A fanatical obsessor about the danger of Al Qaeda would vote for Al Gore? What also seems odd in light of what the Clinton Administration did and did not do about terrorism is that In his book Clarke portrays Clinton very favorably.

In his book's 291 pages, Clarke comes across as impatient and sometimes angry with everyone who disagrees with him, including the CIA (except for Director George Tenet) and the FBI (particularly former director Louis Freeh). His frustration with Bush and Rice, who demoted him, permeates the book. But his respect for President Clinton is clear. Clinton, Clarke writes, had "seen earlier than anyone" that terrorism would become a major threat.

It is hard to square Clarke's view of Clinton with the objective facts of the history of Clinton Administration national security policy decision-making. Is Clarke just another in a long line of people who were charmed by Clinton into believing that Clinton shared the same beliefs and values as they did? I've come across a number of accounts of people who have met Clinton who report he made them feel as if he was giving them his undivided attention and that he agreed with them and appreciated what they were doing. So was Clarke charmed by Clinton and then did Bush, by demoting him to a lower level of the bureaucracy and by his treatment of Clarke, make Clarke feel less appreciated? That seems at least a plausible explanation for Clarke's sharper public criticism of Bush than of Clinton.

So let us look at the record of this President Bill Clinton who Clarke thinks understood the threat of terrorism. Clinton did not do much to improve funding for anti-terrorism efforts.

Clarke's tenor says it is an outrage that the Bush team approved more CIA counterterrorism spending in principle, but hadn't yet made it happen. Really? In the 1990s, more resources were supposed to go to the CIA, but "baseline spending requests, and thus core staffing, remained flat. The CIA told us that Clarke kept promising more budget support, but could never deliver."

Before 9/11 very few people in either the CIA or FBI were working on Al Qaeda.

Years of inadequate funding for counterterrorism programs left America with dangerous shortages in personnel and technology. During the 1990s, funding for the intelligence agencies remained even or dropped in some years. (21) The various intelligence agencies reported that their greatest problem in dealing with bin Laden was the combination of not enough resources, too many requirements and too many priorities. (22)

While the numbers are disputed, no more than 30 people in the FBI were assigned to work on al-Qaeda prior to 9/11. In the CIA, the number might have been as low as only three agents. (23) The intelligence community was lacking in linguists and analysts trained to understand al-Qaeda. The FBI had so many foreign language documents connected to terrorism that were untranslated, it was difficult to keep track of them all. In addition to shortages in funding, terrorism-related documents were left untranslated often upon the direct order of supervisors inside the FBI, in order to help push for bigger budgets in the future. Agent Sibel Edmonds testified directly to this problem. (24) More than 65% of the intelligence research specialists working for the FBI were not qualified for their positions. (25)

I have read no reports claiming that Bush decreased the numbers working on Al Qaeda. Therefore those are the numbers assigned to work on Al Qaeda as a left-over from when Clinton was President. So how can Clarke put such a positive spin on how Clinton saw the nature of the threat? It is not like Clinton responded to the threat by securing funding for a major ramping up of the anti-terrorist effort. Clinton was in office for 96 months and then Bush was in office for only 7 months before 9/11 happened. If we are to believe Clarke's own August 2002 off-the-record comments then in those 7 months the Bush Administration decided to increase CIA covert operations funding five fold to go after Al Qaeda. Yet Clarke reserves the bulk of his public criticisms for Bush.

What to make of this? Former FBI agent Gary Aldrich served in the Clinton White House and left in 1996 to write a very critical book on the Clinton Administration entitled Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House. Aldrich takes a very dim view of Clarke's attempt to pin the bulk of the blame for 9/11 on Bush rather than on Clinton.

When Unlimited Access came out, few in Washington cared much about national security. The Soviet Union had collapsed and the Hard-Left enjoyed the false theory that resources and attention to national security and defense could be redirected to more important matters, like gays in the military and national health care. The National Security Counsel began tracking rain forest depletion and environmental changes, as well as world-wide poverty and food supplies. These were the priorities for Mr. Clarke’s NSC. Moreover, since Clarke worked in the Clinton White House for eight long years, he knew this better than most.

Aldrich sees Clarke as having presented 3 different versions of the "truth". I can't be bothered to count versions but there are inconsistencies in his claims and it doesn't seem like Clarke is being particularly fair about his presentation of his version of events. By obsessing about Al Qaeda Richard Clarke was obsessed about the right thing. But he either has partisan motivations or his demotion by the Bush Administration caused him to have festering resentments or he's become so bent out of shape thinking about his obsession that he's lost the ability to be objective about it. The result is that he's spinning (and I suspect intentionally) for Democrats to influence the coming election by presenting a rather distorted view of US policy failures in responding to the events that led up to 9/11.

Update: Rich Lowry points out that if we leave aside what Richard Clarke says about the relative quality of the response of the Clinton and Bush Administrations to the terrorist threat he makes a number of proposals that are worth consideration. For instance, Clarke says the FBI is institionally incapable of doing an adequate job in response to the terrorist threat.

"And we'd have to explain to the American people in a very compelling way why they needed a domestic intelligence service, because I think most Americans would be fearful of a secret police in the United States. But frankly, the FBI culture, the FBI organization, the FBI personnel are not the best we could do in this country for a domestic intelligence service."

Many activists in the Democratic Party complain about John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act and try to demonize Ashcroft as a promoter of large scale invasions of privacy. Yet the Patriot Act is a smaller step in the direction that Clarke promotes. Where do these same critics of the Bush Administration stand on Clarke's proposal for a domestic security agency that would have the power to spy on people who have not committed any known crimes? As I've argued previously, since we can't read minds nothing less than ethnic and religious profiling combined with a great amount of surveillance and data mining of electronic records will be sufficiently effective to stop the bulk of terrorist attacks. On top of that we need much better immigration and border control policies aimed at making it far more difficult for Muslim terrorists to make it into the United States or to stay in the US beyond the expiration of their visas once they get here.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 31 01:11 AM  Terrorists Western Response
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2004 March 30 Tuesday
Samuel P. Huntington On Nationalism Versus Cosmopolitanism

Harvard history professor Samuel P. Huntington, author of the recent book Who Are We : The Challenges to America's National Identity and opponent of continued large scale immigration from Mexico has a short essay in the latest edition of The National Interest on the widening split between America's elites and the majority of its people.

The views of the general public on issues of national identity differ significantly from those of many elites. The public, overall, is concerned with physical security but also with societal security, which involves the sustainability—within acceptable conditions for evolution—of existing patterns of language, culture, association, religion and national identity. For many elites, these concerns are secondary to participating in the global economy, supporting international trade and migration, strengthening international institutions, promoting American values abroad, and encouraging minority identities and cultures at home. The central distinction between the public and elites is not isolationism versus internationalism, but nationalism versus cosmopolitanism.

Huntington points out that the elites, by defying the desires of the majority on issues of national identity, are causing the government to behave in an undemocratic fashion. I have previously made this argument with regard to immigration. In poll after poll clear majorities of Americans state opinions about immigration that are in opposition to what the elites want and to what the government actually does. Because this trend shows little sign of reversing it seems to me that what is needed are constitutional reforms to install mechanisms to allow more decisions to be made by direct popular referendums. As Huntington points out, multinational corporations that are nominally American have growing interests that are in conflict with those of the American people and these corporations increasingly put those interests ahead of those of the United States. At the same time many American intellectuals have little or no loyalty to historical US customs or values. Why should the public think of these groups as members of the same polity? That is not how these other groups define themselves.

The national question is not going to go away. It is only going to become bigger. On the debate of Britain's own national question see David Goodhart's response to his critics in the new UK Prospect issue:

For, as my deputy Alexander Linklater has put it, there are many answers to the question "Who are we?" but the one answer we surely cannot give is: it doesn't matter.

See my link to the original Goodhart essay that elicited the criticism that Goodhart responds to above. Also see my links to Amy Chua's work on market dominant minorities.

I am increasingly convinced that what is advocated by those who argue for "diversity" is a society in which whoever finds themselves in the majority on some issue or cultural belief today should find themselves in the minority tomorrow subjected to the will of the new majority. So then are the advocates of "diversity" motivated by loathing of themselves or loathing of the current majority?

By Randall Parker 2004 March 30 02:37 AM  Immigration Culture Clash
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2004 March 28 Sunday
Richard Clarke Off The Record In August 2002

Richard Clarke seemingly disagrees with Richard Clarke. Here is a previously off-the-record briefing that Richard Clarke gave to reports in August 2002 about Bush Administration decisions in early 2001 on what to do about Al Qaeda.

And the point is, while this big review was going on, there were still in effect, the lethal findings were still in effect. The second thing the administration decided to do is to initiate a process to look at those issues which had been on the table for a couple of years and get them decided.

So, point five, that process which was initiated in the first week in February, uh, decided in principle, uh in the spring to add to the existing Clinton strategy and to increase CIA resources, for example, for covert action, five-fold, to go after Al Qaeda.

The sixth point, the newly-appointed deputies — and you had to remember, the deputies didn't get into office until late March, early April. The deputies then tasked the development of the implementation details, uh, of these new decisions that they were endorsing, and sending out to the principals.

Over the course of the summer — last point — they developed implementation details, the principals met at the end of the summer, approved them in their first meeting, changed the strategy by authorizing the increase in funding five-fold, changing the policy on Pakistan, changing the policy on Uzbekistan, changing the policy on the Northern Alliance assistance.

And then changed the strategy from one of rollback with Al Qaeda over the course of five years, which it had been, to a new strategy that called for the rapid elimination of Al Qaeda. That is in fact the timeline.

Was Clarke being honest in the quote above? Or was he trying to put the best light on Administration policy on behalf of his then-employer President Bush? Is Clarke's big beef about the pre-9/11 Bush Administration that it took the Bush Administration 6 or 7 months from the time it took office to reach final approval for a big change in policy against Al Qaeda?

Well, I wish the Bush Administration had moved more quickly too but put it in context. Bush had 7 months in office before the 9/11 attacks. Previous to that Bill Clinton had 8 years or 96 months in office to deal with Al Qaeda. I am critical of Bush for an inadequate response to Al Qaeda and the threat of terrorism post-9/11. For instance, see my previous post for some of the immigration policy changes that could be implemented. But 7 months at the beginning of a new Presidential Administration does not strike me as a very long time to make a major foreign policy change.

The pre-9/11 portrayal of what Bush did or did not do seems to miss the point that the opening months of any new US Presidential Administration is taken up just trying to staff up and get started. The size of the policy changes needed to stop an attack like 9/11 just could not be done in 7 months given the many obstacles that Bush was faced with. It took a successful attack to, for instance, move Congress to break down some of the barriers between law enforcement and intelligence gathering. What was broken about the US pre-9/11 anti-terrorist response went deeper than any President's policies.

Much of what was broken in US intelligence and covert operations goes all the way back to the Church hearings into CIA conduct back in the 1970s and the subsequent restraints put upon CIA freedom of action. The result was that the CIA became an agency that was more reluctant and less able to run agents and conduct covert operations.

In the mid-'70s, packed hearing rooms heard of botched attempts on the life of Cuba's Castro that ranged from exploding cigars to acid in his shoes. In the wake of the just-completed Watergate hearings, the cautions stuck. At the end, assassination was no longer viewed as a legitimate tool of foreign policy, and the CIA was no longer considered a top career path for the "best and brightest."

Clarke is in the ranks of those who see the pre-9/11 CIA as having been so punished for doing covert operations that the institution as a whole was extremely reluctant to find justification for carrying out operations against enemies.

Many CIA senior managers, he said, had been "dragged up into this room and others and berated for failed covert action activities." The lesson that hit home was that "covert action is a very dangerous thing that can damage the CIA as much as it can damage the enemy," he added.

Post-9/11 standards of what is acceptable behavior for the FBI, CIA, and other US government agencies are being applied retroactively to judge pre-9/11 decisions. This retroactive move to judgement is coming from the political party that was the strongest supporter of the pre-9/11 standards that held back US intelligence and domestic law enforcement agencies from aggressive investigation of and operations against possible terrorists. There is an historical parallel between this and the treatment of high level US Army and Navy officers stationed at Pearl Harbor at the time that the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. It becomes clear just how much a double standard is at work here when we consider how many of the decisions made since 9/11 would have been impossible to take before 9/11. It seems very unlikely, for example, that the Bush Administration could have gotten Congress pre-9/11 to approve allowing intelligence agents access to evidence collected by law enforcement agents collected while investigating terrorism. Yet investigation of the first WTC attack turned up evidence that could have been used to show connections between those attackers and Al Qaeda if only the FBI, DOJ, and CIA had been legally allowed to compare notes.

Given that the Democratic Party's leaders are not making substantive policy proposals that would improve the US response to the terrorist threat it is hard to take seriously their excited reaction to Richard Clarke's book. They want better performance by intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies. But at the same time they stand in the way of proposals such as the DOD Total Information Awareness project.

There is a fundamental difference between trying to find terrorists and trying to find regular criminals. In the case of conventional criminals it is considered acceptable to try to find them after they have commited a visible crime. But to discover terrorists only after they have launched an attack is widely and correctly seen as unacceptable. Yet it is difficult to identify terrorists in advance because terrorists attempt to blend in and outwardly act law-abiding. Therefore it is difficult to discover them without sifting thru a lot of data about a large number of mostly innocent people to find patterns that seem odd. But leading Democrats in Congress (and not a few libertarian minded Republicans) are opposed to this approach. Given that mind reading is not an option it is not clear to me how terrorists can be stopped without a great deal of analysis of information about mostly innocent people.

Another area that is not getting the amount of attention it deserves from either major party is energy policy. Energy policy could be used to fight terrorism in the longer term. It is possible to accelerate the rate of development of energy technologies (see bottom of post) to reduce the world's demand for Middle Eastern oil and thereby reduce the amount of money available to the Wahhabis and the terrorists. If we fail to do that the US looks set to lose influence in the Middle East as China's demand for oil grows. The Democrats are not proposing a massive research and development program to obsolesce oil. They can't get beyond ranting about SUVs or against their opposition to the development of the Alaska National Wildlfe Refuge (ANWR) development to see that we need a massive shift in our energy policy.

While I am critical of the Bush Administration's response I do not see the Democrats promoting a better alternative. The Democrats are just as opposed to ethnic profiling of terrorists as the Bush Administration is with its TSA inspectors randomly pulling little old white ladies out of line in airports for frisking. The Democrats are just as opposed to effective border control and against restrictions on Muslim immigration. Still, I'd welcome evidence to the contrary. Has anyone come across prominent Democrats putting forth proposals for fighting Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists that go beyond what the Bush Administration is doing?

By Randall Parker 2004 March 28 06:35 PM  Terrorists Western Response
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Bush Accused Of Being As Lax About Terrorism As Clinton

Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post sums up the reactions to Richard Clarke's arguments about the Clinton and Bush Administration responses to terrorism.

Clarke's 1998 and 2000 proposals were not formally adopted by the Clinton administration, but most of the ideas, except his call for continuous bombings of al Qaeda and Taliban targets, served informally to guide policy. Clarke submitted both proposals, along with a request for short-term actions, to the Bush team on Jan. 25, 2001. The suggestions formed the basis for the Bush strategy that was adopted nearly eight months later.

Many Clinton Administration officials thought Clarke was making a mountain out of a molehill.

"He was despised under Clinton," said Ivo H. Daalder, who worked under Clarke in the Clinton National Security Council on issues other than terrorism. James M. Lindsay, who also worked under Clarke, concurred that people "thought he was exaggerating the threat" and said he "always wanted to do more" than higher-ups approved.

A lot of Democrats are using the release of Richard Clarke's book (entitled Against All Enemies: Inside America's War On Terror) as an occasion to levy criticisms at Bush for what he did or didn't do in the first 7 months of his Administration before 9/11. I only wish these Democratic Party critics of Bush were willing to support obvious efforts that could be taken to make us safer from terrorists. For instance, we could make it far harder for terrorists to enter the country illegally and to stay illegally.

One proposal that might have stopped the 9/11 attacks would be to make all drivers license expiration dates for foreigners expire on the same date as visas expire. 9/11 terrorists Mohammed Atta and Hani Hanjour were visa violators who were pulled over for speeding. They could have been deported right then. So then why aren't the Bush Administration officials being grilled by Democrats on why they haven't enacted a requirement for drivers license expirations when visas expire? If the Democrats were sincere in their concern about stopping terrorist attacks wouldn't better ID systems be a great place to start? Identity fraud is a growing problem for a number of reasons and the terrorist threat is just one of them. But isn't the threat of terrorism alone reason enough to prevent identity fraud and to stop immigration law violations?

I'd love to see the Democrats become willing to demonstrate the sincerity of their criticisms of the Bush Administration's handling of the threat of terrorism within US borders. A good place to start would be with immigration policy. We should do a lot more to keep out the bad apples and to deport the ones who are already here. Another area where the Democrats could get ahead of Bush would be by showing a willingness to do ethnic and religious profiling of airline passengers. I'm not expecting the Democrats to embrace either tougher immigration policies or the effective use of profiling. But if they did they would help to protect us against terrorism.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 28 02:03 AM  Terrorists Western Response
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2004 March 26 Friday
Suharto Of Indonesia Embezzled Most Of Any Modern Leader

Transparency International's latest report includes a table of the most corrupt leaders of the modern era.

Where did the money go? - The top 10

Head of government
Estimates of funds allegedly embezzled
GDP per capita (2001)
1. Mohamed Suharto President of Indonesia, 1967-98 US$ 15 to 35 billion
US$ 695
2. Ferdinand Marcos President of the Philippines, 1972-86 US$ 5 to 10 billion
US$ 912
3. Mobutu Sese Seko President of Zaire, 1965-97 US$ 5 billion
US$ 99
4. Sani Abacha President of Nigeria, 1993-98 US$ 2 to 5 billion
US$ 319
5. Slobodan Milosevic President of Serbia/Yugoslavia, 1989-2000 US$ 1 billion
n/a
6. Jean-Claude Duvalier President of Haiti, 1971-86 US$ 300 to 800 million
US$ 460
7. Alberto Fujimori President of Peru, 1990-2000 US$ 600 million
US$ 2,051
8. Pavlo Lazarenko Prime Minister of Ukraine, 1996-97 US$ 114 to 200 million
US$ 766
9. Arnoldo Alemán President of Nicaragua, 1997-2002 US$ 100 million
US$ 490
10. Joseph Estrada President of the Philippines, 1998-2001 US$ 78 to 80 million
US$ 912

Now, you might be expecting me to join in the chorus of those who cheer the overthrow of all corrupt leaders. Surely in some cases the overthrow of corrupt leaders is a net benefit to the country in question. But resist embracing the popular myth that democracy always produces the better outcome and consider just one country from that list above and ask whether it is better off now that its wicked corrupt leader has been replaced by a democratically elected leadership.

Yale law professor Amy Chua, author of World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, has pointed out that the democratically elected government of Indonesia stole $58 billion in assets from ethnic Chinese Indonesians and then proceeded to mismanage the properties it seized.

When Indonesians ousted General Suharto in 1998, the poor majority rose up against the Chinese minority and against markets. The democratic elections that abruptly followed 30 years of autocratic rule were rife with ethnic scapegoating by indigenous politicians and calls for the confiscation of Chinese wealth. Today, the Indonesian government sits on $58bn worth of nationalised assets, almost all formerly owned by Chinese tycoons. These once productive assets lie stagnant, while unemployment and poverty deepen, making Indonesia a breeding ground for extremist movements.

Suharto's corruption is perhaps less than half the size of the massive theft perpetrated by the democratically elected government that came to power following his ouster. Suharto's corruption was spread out over decades and probably had a less disruptive impact as it still allowed the Indonesian economy to grow. Consider Suharto's corruption as compared to Indonesia's total GDP of $714.2 billion in 2002. Suharto stole about 5% of one year's GDP. It is a lot of money. But it represents a very small portion of the total economic output of Indonesia during his rule.

Indonesia's economy grew more rapidly during Suharto's last 10 years of rule than it has since.

In the mid-1980s, the government began eliminating regulatory obstacles to economic activity. The steps were aimed primarily at the external and financial sectors and were designed to stimulate employment and growth in the non-oil export sector. Annual real GDP growth averaged nearly 7% from 1987-97, and most analysts recognized Indonesia as a newly industrializing economy and emerging major market. The Asian financial crisis of 1997 altered Indonesia's political and economic landscape. Since 1997, Indonesia has had three presidents, and as of mid-2002, its economy is only just recovering to pre-1997 levels. Seven percent GDP growth is the level most economists consider necessary just to absorb new job seekers, but the Indonesian Government estimates growth in 2002 of 4% and in 2003 of less than 5%. The number of unemployed and underemployed (working less than 15 hrs/week) is currently estimated at 40 million.

Problems that developed under Suharto's rule may have been responsible for at least part of the lower growth in the post-Suharto era. Also, some of the economic problems in Indonesia can be attributed to the 1997 Asian financial crisis. But Malaysia weathered that crisis much better under its own strongman Mohamed Mahathir who has managed Malaysia in a way that has made it more like a managed partial democracy.

Chua points out that in economies which have market dominant minorities the introduction of democracy will create a situation where the vote produce politically dominant majorities which will use the power of the state against the market dominant minorities. If the market dominant minorities are far more productive and can manage assets more efficiently then government seizures of their assets will lead to lower growth rates or even stagnation and economic decline. If Chua is correct (and ParaPundit thinks she's obviously correct) then there can be circumstances where corrupt dictators are a lesser of two evils with the other evil being majority rule. Another obvious conclusion from this line of argument is that countries which currently have market dominant majorities (e.g. the United States of America) should not pursue immigration policies that demographically transform their dominant majorities into minorities. For more on this argument start at my previous post Prospect Of Democracy Breeding Ethnic Hatred In Iraq.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 26 12:15 AM  Economics Demographic
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2004 March 25 Thursday
Brain Drain From South Africa Accelerates

More professionals are fleeing South Africa.

The number of skilled professionals leaving the country went up by 62 percent last year, according to a report by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).

These professionals are equivalent to the canary in the coal mine. South Africa's decline must be accelerating. Consider that this flight is happening even while the labor market is very weak in the United States and not any better in Europe. The flight is happening across a large assortment of professions.

The report said 192 medical practitioners left in 2003, compared with 117 in 2002. It costs a minimum of R120 000 to train doctors over seven years.

Teachers have also left in droves to work in Britain and the US, with 666 leaving last year, compared with 410 in 2002; while 736 people in the accounting profession emigrated last year, up from 529 in 2002.

The more the brains flee the worse conditions will get for those who remain. So this process will accelerate as long as there is enough talent remaining to flee. In the white population the smarter ones probably have much easier time finding work abroad and so it is likely the remaining whites are not as smart on average as those who have already left. Therefore the remaining ones will find it harder to find places they can escape to.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 25 01:05 PM  Immigration Brain Drain
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2004 March 24 Wednesday
On The Medicare And Social Security Unfunded Liabilities

There are two reasons why the era of the United States as most prosperous and dominant world power is going come to an end in the first half of the 21st century. One obvious reason is the continued rapid economic growth in the far more populous China. The other reason is that the United States internally faces very unfavorable demographic trends. The two biggest unfavorable trends are in the pattern of immigration and the aging of the population. Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., and Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation provide a good overview of the grim financial outlook for Social Security and Medicare.

Title I of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 creates a new and complex universal prescription drug entitlement. According to the latest Medicare trustees report, the Medicare hospital insurance program will be exhausted in 2019, seven years earlier than the past year’s estimate.[1] But that is just the tip of the iceberg. The hospital insurance trust fund does not include the new drug entitlement, and that alone will add $8.1 trillion to the program’s long-term unfunded liabilities over the next 75 years.[2]

Medicare’s massive costs will result in huge tax increases. According to Medicare Trustee Thomas R. Saving, a professor of economics at Texas A&M University and senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, the Medicare program is now projected to consume:

  • 24 percent of all federal income taxes by 2019 and
  • 51 percent of all federal income taxes by 2042.

The true cost of the drug entitlement expansion is unknown, and the trustees could be understating the real cost. When the new Medicare law was enacted in 2003, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the 10-year cost at $395 billion. Less than three months later, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) revealed that it estimated the 10-year cost at $534 billion.[4]

As irresponsible and deceitful (see below) as the Bush Administration has been while getting the Medicare drug benefit bill enacted the Democrats wanted something that was even worse:

Ironically, the entire financial situation could be far worse. During the debate on the new drug entitlement, Democrats offered proposals that would have cost nearly $1 trillion in the first 10 years,[6] far in excess of anything proposed by the Administration or the congressional leadership. Many critics of the new drug program actually want a more expensive program.

Keep this in mind as we hear Democratic Party Congressional figures criticize the Bush Administration on Medicare. There's no good side in this fight.

The financial projections on Medicare's future have deteriorated drastically in just the last 2 years.

As recently as 2002, Medicare's projected insolvency date was 2030 and trustees said the program wouldn't need to tap its reserves until 2016. Last year, trustees advanced the dates to 2026 and 2013, respectively.

Now the bankruptcy is expected in 2019 and Medicare is already dipping into its reserves this year.

The government health care program for older and disabled Americans will have to take $7.5 billion from its reserves this year to meet its expenses, government trustees said Tuesday in their annual report.

The new Medicare drug benefit alone has a bigger unfunded liability than Social Security.

In a briefing Tuesday on Capitol Hill, NCPA Senior Fellow and Social Security and Medicare Trustee Thomas R. Saving reported that:

  • Social Security faces an unfunded liability of $10.4 trillion.
  • Medicare's unfunded liability is $61.6 trillion - six times greater than Social Security's.
  • The prescription drug benefit alone faces a funding gap of $16.6 trillion - more than 50 percent greater than Social Security's.
  • By 2020, the combined deficits in these programs will consume more than one-fourth of all federal income taxes.
  • By 2030, about the midpoint of the baby boomer retirement years, deficits in the two programs will consume more than half of all federal incomes taxes.
  • By 2050, when today's college students will reach retirement age, Social Security and Medicare will require more than three- fourths of all income taxes just to pay benefits currently promised.

The Concord Coalition folks say "short-sighted fiscal policies tend to ignore ballooning long-term costs".

"The new Medicare projections underscore the extent to which short-sighted fiscal policies tend to ignore ballooning long-term costs. Arguing over whether the prescription drug benefit will cost $400 billion or $530 billion in the next 10 years diverts attention from the fact that Congress and the President have added a massive new obligation to a program that already had a serious long-term funding problem," said Bixby.

In total, Medicare and Social Security are now projected to cost nearly 15 percent of GDP by 2040. To put that number in context, if we spent 15 percent of GDP on these two programs today they would consume 95 percent of all federal revenues.

Bush is trying to get reelected by buying the support of old folks using our money.

The full report on Medicare is available on-line here as the 2004 Annual Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Hospital Insurance and Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds.

Serving as a backdrop of the new report on Medicare and Social Security financial problems is the Medicare drug benefit bill cost scandal.

Richard S. Foster, the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which produced the $551 billion estimate, told colleagues last June that he would be fired if he revealed numbers relating to the higher estimate to lawmakers.

Foster says his boss ordered him to withhold from Congress higher cost estimates for various aspects of the Medicare drug bill then over consideration.

He said Thomas A. Scully, then administrator of the HHS agency that oversees Medicare, repeatedly told him last spring and summer that Foster would be fired if he complied with requests from Republican and Democratic lawmakers to provide cost estimates of aspects of the prescription drug legislation. Although other HHS officials ultimately assured him his job was safe, Foster said, the administration's practice of withholding budget predictions continued until the legislation was enacted in November.

In classic MRD "Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?" (which is apparently an enhanced misquote) fashion Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson says the buck stops at Thomas A. Scully and not higher up at his desk or in the Oval Office.

"There seems to be a cloud over the department because of this," Thompson said. He predicted the agency would be exonerated. But he also lashed out at a recently departed top assistant, blaming the episode on Thomas A. Scully, who ran the Medicare program for three years and was a key administration negotiator on changes to the program that narrowly passed Congress in November.

Joining in with the MRD style is an off-the-record White House official who has the temerity to call Richard Foster irresponsible.

A Bush administration official suggested this week that it was irresponsible for Foster to make such assertions without proof. The official added that actuaries must support their cost estimates with a clear rationale, but maintained that Foster’s claims about the White House were based on sheer speculation.

The Bushies have no shame. Why would Scully take it upon himself to suppress Foster's numbers? What would be his motive? White House and Thompson claims about this sound very implausible.

Deroy Murdock sees the deception and attempted bribery associated with the passage of the Medicare drug bill as a sign that the United States is sliding toward higher levels of official corruption.

The Tanzanianization of America proceeds apace.

This word encapsulates Washington's steady slide from transparency, the rule of law, and first-world political norms toward an equatorial standard of public integrity. Tanzania, among Earth's most corrupt nations, foreshadows the ultimate destination of America's government.

The leaders of the United States lack a sufficient amount of virtue to face and competently deal with the biggest problems facing the republic and the US is going to decline as a result.

Also see my previous posts Social Security And Medicare Headed For Bankruptcy Sooner, Niall Ferguson: European Politics A Dance Of Death, and Collapsing European Populations: Time To Reverse Aging.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 24 03:59 PM  Economics Demographic
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John Derbyshire On The New Kinds Of Intolerance

John Derbyshire has written an excellent rant on what he sees as "a trend towards a European-style society dominated by an arrogant overclass of credentialed intellectuals".

We have not, in fact, gone "beyond tolerance" at all, we have merely invented new kinds of intolerance. We have not swept away caste-feudalism and replaced it with a shining meritocratic egalitarianism; we have just traded in one style of caste-feudalism for another style. This is not a society "in which people feel free to hold whatever private views on all human groups and behaviors." People are ashamed of their private beliefs and fearful to disclose them. They are baffled by the fact that sincere opinions held by their parents and grandparents, rooted in custom, good sense, scripture, and everyday observation, are now shouted down as "bigoted" and "intolerant." What use are private beliefs anyway, if they are excluded from the public square by a suffocating conformity, imposed by an ever-vigilant Thought Police backed by armies of predatory lawyers? Under this relentless pressure, private beliefs fade from all but the bravest hearts, to be replaced with the state-approved formulas: diversity, inclusiveness, equality, compassion, respect.

And it is not merely private beliefs that are crushed out of existence by this pressure. I wondered aloud a few paragraphs ago whether I am supposed to extend my "respect" and "regard" to groups with high crime statistics, or groups that spread disease, or groups that hate America. The answer, as we all know, is not merely: "Yes, Sir, you are." The answer is, that if I even mention such plain facts, I am a very wicked person. The orthodoxy of "tolerance" that Ms. Noonan is so pleased with seeks to stamp out not only private opinions, but also actual facts.

The full essay is excellent and I strongly recommend reading it in full. One important point he makes is that the taboos against the strong biological basis of human nature and of differences in behavior and cognitive processes between people are having the effect of slowing down research into these areas while the research is going ahead in other countries. This gives an advantage to, for example, China in developing a better understanding of intelligence and in the development of techniques for boosting intellectual abiltiies.

Our taboos and enforced political correctness cost us in all sorts of ways. For example, Steve Sailer has made the very excellent observation that the Orientalist scholars of the Arabs were basically squeezed out of academia by Edward Said and other left-leaning critics of the Orientalists. This had the effect of eliminating American academia as a significant source of experts to help formulate US govenment policy toward the Middle East. This, in turn, opened the door for rather ideological neoconservative activists who didn't understand the Arabs very well to exert much greater influence over US policy. So by preventing more reasonable and rational people from doing scholarly work on the Middle East Edward Said and his America-hating allies gave power to their ideological enemies.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 24 12:08 PM  Civilizations Decay
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2004 March 23 Tuesday
Clarke Right About Bush On Al Qaeda?

Richard Clarke, a former US National Security Council senior figure under Reagan, Bush II, Clinton, and George W. Bush, has written a new and highly controversial book entitled on Amazon Against All Enemies : Inside the White House's War on Terror--What Really Happened (and seemingly everywhere else in including in Amazon's art work for the book entitled Against All Enemies: Inside America's War On Terror). This book offer's an insider's very critical account of counterterrorism policy under a succession of US Presidents and offers an especially critical view of the current Bush Administrations handling of the threat of terrorism both before and after the 9/11 attacks by focusing on Iraq rather than on Al Qaeda.

Clarke then tells Stahl of being pressured by Mr. Bush.

"The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.

"I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.'

"He came back at me and said, "Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report."

Clarke continued, "It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'

"I have no idea, to this day, if the president saw it, because after we did it again, it came to the same conclusion. And frankly, I don't think the people around the president show him memos like that. I don't think he sees memos that he doesn't-- wouldn't like the answer."

Clarke sees Administration moves against Al Qaeda as insufficient even after 9/11.

"The president, he said, 'failed to act prior to September 11 on the threat from al Qaeda despite repeated warnings and then harvested a political windfall for taking obvious yet insufficient steps after the attacks.' The rapid shift of focus to Saddam Hussein, Clarke writes, 'launched an unnecessary and costly war in Iraq that strengthened the fundamentalist, radical Islamic terrorist movement worldwide.' "

I agree that the post-9/11 response has been insufficient. US troops were pulled out of Afghanistan to get ready for the invasion of Iraq. How can that be justified given that there were (and still are) Al Qaeda people including senior Al Qaeda leaders operating along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border? Now after the Iraq invasion the US military is gearing up for more operations in Afghanistan and the US obviously must be behind recent Pakistani attacks on Arabs and other foreign groups on the Pakistan-Afghanistan. All that could have been done sooner if Bush hadn't distracted his Administration with Iraq.

The claim that the Bush Administration was not actively seeking to make major moves against Al Qaeda pre-9/11 is especially interesting. Recall back in May 2002 there were press reports claiming that the Bush Administration had developed a National Security Presidential Directive in the summer of 2001 to overthrow the Taliban and attack Al-Qaeda worldwide which reached Condoleezza Rice's desk just a few days before the September 11, 2001 attacks.

WASHINGTON, May 16 — President Bush was expected to sign detailed plans for a worldwide war against al-Qaida two days before Sept. 11 but did not have the chance before the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, U.S. and foreign sources told NBC News.

THE DOCUMENT, a formal National Security Presidential Directive, amounted to a “game plan to remove al-Qaida from the face of the Earth,” one of the sources told NBC News’ Jim Miklaszewski.

I can't find an article that reports on when Bush decided to order a plan to overthrow the Taliban but my memory is that another report I read from around May 2002 had White House or other top sources saying that Bush ordered the development of that plan in May or June 2001. If anyone can find a URL about this from a credible source please post it in the comments.

In an interview that puts a rather different spin on that May 2002 report Richard Clarke says that plan to attack Al Qaeda and overthrow the Taliban actually began to be developed under the Clinton Administration and received very little attention from the Bush Administration.

JB: Condoleezza Rice wrote today in response to your book - that the Bush administration did have a strategy for eliminating al-Qaida and that the administration worked on it in the spring and summer of 2001? Is that true?

RC: We developed that strategy in the last several months of the Clinton administration and it was basically an update on that strategy. We briefed Condi on that strategy. The point is that it was done before they came to office and she never held a meeting on it. It was done before she asked for it.

If that plan had been in the works for so long then why didn't the plan reach Rice's desk until a few days before 9/11?

Clarke says that when he tried to talk about Al-Qaeda terrorism Paul Wolfowitz tried to talk about what he believed was Iraqi support for terrorism.

April was an initial discussion of terrorism policy writ large and at that meeting I said we had to talk about al-Qaida. And because it was terrorism policy writ large [Paul] Wolfowitz said we have to talk about Iraqi terrorism and I said that's interesting because there hasn't been any Iraqi terrorism against the United States. There hasn't been any for 8 years. And he said something derisive about how I shouldn't believe the CIA and FBI, that they've been wrong. And I said if you know more than I know tell me what it is, because I've been doing this for 8 years and I don't know about any Iraqi-sponsored terrorism against the US since 1993. When I said let's start talking about Bin Laden, he said Bin Laden couldn't possibly have attacked the World Trade Centre in '93. One little terrorist group like that couldn't possibly have staged that operation. It must have been Iraq.

Clarke can not easily be dismissed as a Democratic Party partisan.

Most acquaintances do not regard him as a partisan. Clarke was viewed as a hawk and "true believer" by many within the Clinton administration, and Clarke himself says he is an independent who is registered as a Republican.

"You can't accuse him of being passive or too liberal on foreign policy," said Vince Cannistraro, a former CIA official who worked with Clarke in the Reagan years. "He's very abrasive and aggressive and pushes his point of view very hard."

Clarke didn't mesh well with the tribal Bushies.

And in February 2003, two months after the White House blocked his selection as deputy secretary of the new Homeland Security Department, he submitted his resignation.

Bush invited Clarke to his office for a goodbye chat. Associates said senior White House officials thought he didn't fit into its low-key, consensus-oriented style. "The administration is very tribal, very-close knit, and Dick was not part of their crowd," Simon said.

Back in February 2002 Bob Woodward and Dan Balz reported that on September 17, 2001 George W. Bush was already convinced that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

As for Saddam Hussein, his father's nemesis, the president ended a debate that had gone on for six days. "I believe Iraq was involved, but I'm not going to strike them now," he said, adding, "I don't have the evidence at this point."

So then did Bush decide to push the idea of a WMD threat to justify an attack on Iraq when intelligence investigations couldn't find credible evidence of an Iraqi involvement in 9/11?

One claim of Clarke, that Bush wanted him to focus on finding a connection between 9/11 and Iraq, seems quite plausible given that Woodward shows Bush as a strong believer in the idea of Iraq involvement in the days immediately after 9/11. It is also plausible given Bush Administration rhetoric connecting the attack on Iraq with the response to terrorism.

For more on Clarke, Bush, Iraq and Al Qaeda see See Steve Sailer's right hand column blog which unfortunately doesn't include permalinks for those posts at this point. If you come to this post of mine weeks or months later then check out Steve's March 2004 monthly archive for the material I'm referring to.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 23 02:49 AM  Terrorists Western Response
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2004 March 22 Monday
Niall Ferguson: European Politics A Dance Of Death

Does a united Europe have a future as a world power? How can it? Demographics is destiny. Niall Ferguson points out that many European countries face both aging and shrinking populations.

The fundamental problem that Europe faces is senescence. By the year 2050, which is less remote than it may sound, current projections by the United Nations suggest that the median age of the current fifteen European Union countries will rise from thirty-eight to forty-nine.

Over the same period, the German population will decline--absolutely, not in relative terms--from 82 to 67 million. Falling populations will characterize the hitherto dominant societies of Western Europe. An increase in retirement ages would not suffice to alter the problems that will beset the social security systems of Western Europe. Immigration is the only way out for that continent. Europe holds an obvious source of youthful workers who aspire to nothing more than a better standard of living. All around Europe are countries whose birth rate is more than twice the European average.

I disagree with Ferguson about the inevitable need for immigation as a solution. First of all, it is not a solution. How can the importation of a hostile culture and religion solve any problems? If the Europeans could only find the will to do so they could control their borders and stop the influx of illegal aliens. While open borders advocates try to get people to accept mass immigration by arguing that it can not be stopped immigration law really could be enforced if politicians only wanted to enforce it.

Ferguson sees Europe as decadent by a few different measures.

Europeans inhabit a post-Christian society that is economically, demographically, and culturally decadent. Europe can-not resist forever the migration that must inevitably occur from the south and from the east. Indeed, they try even now to resist the migration that really ought legally to be permissible from the new member states to the old member states after ten more countries join the European Union on May 1.

Increasingly, European politics is dominated by a kind of dance of death as politicians and voters try desperately and vainly to prop up the moribund welfare states of the post-Second World War era, but above all to prop up what little remains of their traditional cultures.

This is no reason for Americans to crow about their relative good fortune. The US also has very serious demographic and cultural problems of its own. The average skilll level of Americans will probably decline as a result. Plus, the US is facing huge unfunded pension liabilities. In spite of the rancor that has come to characterize relations between the United States and Europe these two poles of Western civilization need each other and both are in trouble.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 22 02:57 PM  Economics Demographic
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2004 March 20 Saturday
Clans, Mullahs, Corruption Are British Problems With Basra Police

Peter Almond of UPI reports on various challenges faced by British occupation forces in southern Iraq as they try to train and deploy a new Iraqi police force.

British and Coalition Provisional Authority officials say the mullahs intimidate the police, and when troops catch religious representatives watching the police at vehicle checkpoints -- ostensibly to identify leading members of the Baath Party -- they chase them away.

Those mullahs are going to keep trying to increase their influence. But they have two big competitors: corruption and clan loyalties. Note that they face little competition from civically minded individuals and groups of the sort that try to keep government honest in many Western countries.

On the bright side the British think they've convinced the new police force to not assault suspects.

Their British trainers say the Iraqis are struggling with Western concepts of civil rights, but appear to understand they can no longer assault suspects and throw them into prison without charge.

Any bets on whether the Basra police will continue to restrain themselves once the British are gone?

Clan loyalties, the result of webs of obligation that result from the practice of cousin marriage, make the police resist obeying orders coming down official chains of command.

Admitting that there has been a problem with soldiers ignoring their immediate officers in favor of lower-ranking individuals who are higher in the clan tree, he said he has insisted on following the chain of command and that 20 soldiers had been fired for corruption in the last two months.

All of this was predictable in advance and there were commentators who did predict it. Iraq may be able to remain a nominal democracy once US forces are drawn down. But the possibility of civil war is very real and failing that expect at the very least rampant corruption and cronyism combined with growing clerical influence which will translate into much greater suppression of women than occurred during Saddam's rule. Christians and other non-Muslims will also be worse off.

For a good starting point on why consanguineous marriage is an obstacle in the way of attempts to build a democratic and non-corrupt government in Iraq see my post John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq and follow the links from there to previous posts on the topic. Also see the post Pessimists on Muslim Democracy.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 20 08:10 PM  Mideast Iraq Human Nature
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2004 March 19 Friday
John Kerry Favors Illegal Alien Amnesty

But since most voters are opposed to amnesty for illegals Kerrys says he is for "earned legalization".

Despite amnesty's nettlesome connotation as being synonymous with "rewarding persons who have engaged in illegal activity," Kerry told the world at the Albuquerque, N.M., Democratic Primary debate:

"I supported and was prepared to vote for amnesty from 1986. And it is essential to have immigration reform. Anyone who has been in this country for five or six years, who's paid their taxes, who has stayed out of trouble, ought to be able to translate into an American citizenship immediately, not waiting."

After a period of time, however, the dreaded "amnesty" word worked its way out of the Kerry lexicon on the subject. In its place: the more refined and neater "earned legalization":

There is no good Presidential choice for those who think current US immigration policy is a disaster. George W. Bush of course favors amnesty while calling it something else as well. Bush's half-baked foreign worker permit program will most likely increase the influx of illegal aliens rather than decrease it. The elite-populace gap on immigration issues is huge. With so many elected officials taking oppositions that oppose the popular will on immigration it is time to take the immigration battle to the state-level ballot initiatives in those states which support state-level initiatives.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 19 12:14 AM  Immigration Policy
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2004 March 18 Thursday
Social Security And Medicare Headed For Bankruptcy Sooner

Medicare is the bigger problem.

A new government report to be released to Congress next week will show that the long-term outlook for Medicare is extremely bleak and that the program is heading for insolvency earlier than previously forecast.

...

Last year, the trustees estimated the Medicare trust fund would go bankrupt in 2026. This year, the insolvency date will be moved up by a couple of years. The estimate has little to do with the new drug benefit, which is not financed out of the trust fund.

The official estimate of unfunded liabilities is going to grow by a few tens of trillions of dollars.

The annual reports on Social Security and Medicare will include new estimates showing that the total gap between the cost of promised benefits and the revenues to pay for them is close to $50 trillion, the experts said. By contrast, the Bush administration estimated last year that the long-term gap was $18 trillion over the next 75 years.

These revision in the estimates of unfunded liabilities by Social Security and Medicare trustees amounts to a catching up with another bleak estimate made by Jagadeesh Gokhale of the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank and Kent Smetters who began working on the estimate with Gokhale when Smetters was still with the US Treasury under former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. You can see more from Alex Tabarrok on the Gokhale-Smetters estimate here and here.

The only way to avoid this looming financial disaster is to develop rejuvenation therapies that will reverse aging and allow people to live and work decades longer.

Another way to reduce the size of the coming financial train wreck is to change our immigration policy in ways aimed to reduce the number of low income and therefore low taxes paid immigrants.

In 1999, 74 percent of households headed by natives had to pay at least some federal income tax, compared to only 59 percent of Mexican immigrant households. Even if one confines the analysis to legal Mexican immigrants, the gap between their tax contributions and those of natives remains large. Using the same method as before to distinguish legal and illegal Mexican immigrant households, the estimated federal income liability of households headed by legal Mexican immigrants in 1999 was $2,538. Thus, the very low tax contribution of Mexican immigrants is not simply or even mostly a function of legal status, but rather reflects their much lower incomes and larger average family size.

Immigration policy could be changed to slow the financially unfavorable demographic changes caused the influx of low skilled workers who are another part of the growing Recipient Class of people who get more in benefits from the government than they pay in taxes. It is possible to gradually deport all the low-skilled illegal immigrants and immigration eligibility could be changed to require all immigrants to have high levels of skills and intellectual ability. We could also Accelerate Education To Increase Tax Revenue, Reduce Costs.

If we stopped allowing in immigrants who have less than a college education and if we accelerated education of our own youth we'd be in a much better financial position than we will be otherwise. However, those two changes by themselves are still not sufficient to solve the problem caused by the increasing average age of the population. It would make sense to start raising retirement ages right now. But do not expect this to happen. Most people and most politicians do not want to think about this problem. It is unlikely any President or Congress will try to seriously tackle the problem before they have to. Once it is no longer possible to delay then at that point dealing with the problem will be more expensive and painful for those still alive.

Demographic trends matter. America is far weaker than it looks because demographic trends are so unfavorable. Generations of neglect of slowly developing demographic problems has allowed those problems to develop to a point where they look set to gradually rob the American economy of a considerable amount of its future potential for growth in per capita income.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 18 11:56 PM  Economics Demographic
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Iran Has Highest Rate Of Emigration Brain Drain

In the United States supporters of high levels of immigration attempt to obscure the difference between immigrants with less ability and less skill versus immigrants with high higher levels of ability and of training and skills. Yet when one looks at the concerns of analysts in other countries that experience a net outward migration inevitably the biggest topic of concern of countries experiencing out net losses of population due to migrations are concerned about the "brain drain".

Iran has the highest rate of "brain drain" in the world. That's the conclusion of the International Monetary Fund, which recently surveyed some 61 countries. The IMF says every year more than 150,000 educated Iranians leave their home country in the hope of finding a better life abroad.

...

Amanollah Gharayi Moghadam, a professor of sociology in Tehran, agrees. He says many young people are forced to leave because society cannot absorb them and respond to their needs. "Based on our research, the most important cause for brain drain from Iran is unsuitable social conditions for the youth. There are several factors contributing to this unsuitable atmosphere."

The costs of the brain drain are high. Local sources put the economic loss at some $50 billion a year or higher. "For each inventor or scientist who leaves the country, it is as if 10 oil wells had been destroyed," Moghadam says.

Afshin Molavi is a journalist and author of "Persian Pilgrimages: Journeys Across Iran." Molavi cites economic conditions as a main reason young people choose to leave. The unemployment rate is around 20 percent -- and higher for young people. Hidden in the statistics is massive underemployment, with students forced to take jobs below their qualifications.

I've been watching "Brain Drain" stories in the world press daily for months now using Google News (just click on the previous link to get a sense of it) and there is on big recurring theme: fear of the loss of the most talented members of a society. A typical editorial from Nairobi Kenya is entitled How to Stop Brain Drain. An article from Nigeria has Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar blaming Brain Drain on something called the Structural Adjustment Programme. An editorial from Nigeria is entitled Stemming the brain-drain tide. A report released in South Africa claims the brain drain in South Africa is 4 times larger than government estimates.

The Brain Drain fears are not limited to Africa and Iran. Even Kiwis in New Zealand worry about brain drain while the French worry about the brain drain of their top scientific talent and so do the Germans. There are even fears of brain wars in Europe as richer countries buy up the talent of poorer countries and raise the specter that the gap between the countries in living standards could become permanent. A United Nations agency even seeks to provide money to poorer states to allow them to retain their top agricultural scientists and technicians.

There is one big sign in the Brain Drain stories that suggests Americans ought to be worried about our current immigation policies. A search of Google News on "Brain Drain Mexico" never seems to turn up any stories that indicates the elites of Mexico are worried that they are losing many talented people in spite of the millions of Mexicans who have headed north into the United States. Unfortunately, that lack of concern is fairly rational. First of all, Mexican immigrants to the US have an average of 8th grade educations. Even fourth generation descendants of the Mexican immigrants as a group do very poorly in American schools (see the last line of table at the end of that post). Barely half of all Hispanics in the United States graduate from high school. The result is that immigration is increasing the supply of less skilled workers several times more rapidly than it is increasing the supply more highly skilled workers. With two thirds of Mexican immigrants high school and grade school drop-outs Mexico is clearly not being brain drained. Therefore the Mexican opinion makers are correct not to be worried about the loss of so many people from their country as those people leave every day to go to the United States.

We will know that US immigration policy has been fixed when Mexican and other Latin American opinion-makers start complaining about the brain-drain of their most talented people to the United States.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 18 09:45 PM  Immigration Brain Drain
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2004 March 17 Wednesday
China To Sell Pakistan Another Nuclear Reactor

Henry Sokolski, director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, reports on attempts by the US, Japan, and France to sell nuclear reactors to China even as China is going to sell another reactor to Pakistan.

Westinghouse in the U.S., Japan's Mitsubishi, and the French firm Areva are so eager to sell China nuclear-power plants that they and their governments are turning a blind eye to an even more troubling nuclear export — a Chinese deal to sell Islamabad a large reactor. This sale, revealed in the press last week, defies the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines — rules China says it wants to adhere to and that President Bush is anxious to bolster.

Is this a case of the Bush Administration being more interested in helping to generate sales for Westinghouse? Or does it represent an admisison that if the US doesn't sell reactors to China that our non-ally France will instead? If the US government is going to stop the spread of nuclear weapons it is going to have a play a harder game of diplomatic and economic hardball than it so far has been willing to play. The invasion of Iraq looks to me increasingly like a distraction from the goal of stopping nuclear proliferation while the Bush Administration fails to pursue that important goal with policies sufficient to achieving it.

Here are some details on the China-Pakistan nuclear reactor deal.

The reported conclusion of Pakistan's 'technical negotiations' with China for the proposed sale of a new nuclear reactor, has brought the two countries close to finalising a deal.

The proposed reactor to be known as 'Chashma-2' marks only the second time that Pakistan has bought a nuclear reactor from China following the purchase of the 'Chashma -1' reactor.

Here is a Federation of American Scientists report on Pakistan's nuclear weapons program and the role that China played in it.

In the 1990s, China designed and supplied the heavy water Khusab reactor, which plays a key role in Pakistan's production of plutonium. A subsidiary of the China National Nuclear Corporation also contributed to Pakistan's efforts to expand its uranium enrichment capabilities by providing 5,000 custom made ring magnets, which are a key component of the bearings that facilitate the high-speed rotation of centrifuges.

According to Anthony Cordesman [ParaPundit note: PDF file] of CSIS, China is also reported to have provided Pakistan with the design of one of its warheads, which is relatively sophisticated in design and lighter than U.S. and Soviet designed first generation warheads.

China also provided technical and material support in the completion of the Chasma nuclear power reactor and plutonium reprocessing facility, which was built in the mid 1990s. The project had been initiated as a cooperative program with France, but Pakistan's failure to sign the NPT and unwillingness to accept IAEA safeguards on its entire nuclear program caused France to terminate assistance.

Note that Pakistan's nuclear blackmarketeers sold a Chinese nuclear warhead design on to Libya and may also have sold it to Iran.

The warhead designs were the first hard evidence that the secret network provided its customers with far more than just the technology to turn uranium into bomb fuel. Libyan officials have told investigators that they bought the blueprints from dealers who are part of that network, apparently for more than $50 million. Those blueprints, along with the capability to make enriched uranium, could have given the Libyans all the elements they needed to make a nuclear bomb. What the Libyans purchased, in the words of an American weapons expert who has reviewed the program in detail, was both the kitchen equipment "and the recipes."

Experts familiar with the contents of the box say the designs closely resemble the warheads that China tested in the late 1960's and passed on to Pakistan decades ago.

Pakistan sold nuclear tech designs to Libya even after 9/11.

The timing of the transfer of the centrifuge design from Pakistan calls into question General Musharraf's ability to make good on his vow to President Bush that he would rein in Pakistani scientists selling their nuclear expertise around the globe. The general made that pledge shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States. Yet the main aid to Libya appears to have come since those attacks, suggesting that Pakistani scientists may have continued their trade even after the explicit warning.

While the Pakistanis deny this it is likely that Abdul Qadeer Khan, considered to be the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, probably sold designs and parts with the knowledge of rulers of Pakistan. Also note that Khan's great achievements appear to be the stealing and buying of weapons technology from elsewhere. His biggest accomplishments are not from his own scientific work but rather the acquiring of nuclear technology elsewhere.

The US nuclear reactor that Sokolski mentions as being offered to China is the new Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design which was designed with the help of a half billion dollars of US taxpayer money. (same story here)

Economic concerns may outweigh worries about China's role in the spread of nuclear weapons.

Westinghouse developed the AP1000, which can generate 1,100 megawatts, with half a billion dollars of support from the federal government, and the government would collect tens of millions of dollars in royalties from any such plant in China, a senior United States energy official said. Credit support from the Import-Export Bank may also be used to finance the plants, he said, and Chinese officials had sought assurances that China would receive an export license for the plant.

The passive safety approach to the design of the AP1000 makes it much safer.

As in AP600, the AP1000 design uses passive safety systems to enhance the safety of the plant and to satisfy the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) safety criteria. These systems use only natural forces, such as gravity, natural circulation, and compressed gas. No pumps, fans, diesels, chillers, or other rotating machinery are used in the passive safety sub-systems.

The passive safety systems include passive safety injection, passive residual heat removal, and passive containment cooling. All these passive systems have been designed to meet the NRC single-failure criteria and its recent criteria, including TMI (Three Mile Island) lessons-learned and unresolved/generic safety issues. Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) tools have also been used to quantify the safety of the design.

So the AP1000 is a wonder of American engineering which may be sold to China saving them the expense of developing the same technology. This may happen even as China continues to assist Pakistan's building of a larger nuclear program and even as Pakistan provides little cooperation to allow the US to discover what Pakistan sold to Iran and perhaps to other countries as well. Is this a sign of just how weak the United States is and just how little influence the United States has in the world?

Meanwhile, highly purified weapons-grade uranium traces have been discovered by IAEA inspectors in Iran.

United Nations nuclear inspectors have found traces of extremely highly enriched uranium in Iran, of a purity reserved for use in a nuclear bomb, European and American diplomats said Wednesday.

Among traces that inspectors detected last year are some refined to 90 percent of the rare 235 isotope, the diplomats said. While the International Atomic Energy Agency has previously reported finding "weapons grade" traces, it has not revealed that some reached such a high degree of enrichment.

Also, Libya is now thought to have spent at least $100 million to acquire weapons technology and equipment from Abdul Qadeer Khan's nuclear black market.

``The Khan network's finances were deliberately complex, and we do not have a complete picture,'' said Jim Wilkinson, a spokesman for the Bush administration's National Security Council. ``The developing picture, however, indicates that the Khan network received at least $100 million for supplying technology, equipment and know-how.''

Iraq was the least WMD-capable of the dangerous governments. Libya was second least capable. At this point the worst threats are still working on nuclear weapons. Iran and North Korea have not yet been stopped. Pakistan has many nuclear weapons and only military rule is barely preventing Islamists from seizing power. Even in Pakistan the Islamists are found in the government.

Update: China's role as a nuclear proliferation is very long standing.

Declassified papers reviewed by the National Security Archive, an institute at George Washington University, show U.S. unease over secret China-Pakistan security and military cooperation dating to the late 1960s, and examples of Chinese assistance to Pakistan's nuclear weapons-related projects in the late 1970s, the researchers said.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 17 02:38 PM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control
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2004 March 16 Tuesday
Mark Krikorian On How To Gradually Reduce Illegal Alien Presence

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, argues that there is a practical way to enforce laws to gradually reduce the illegal alien presence in the United States.

Fortunately for America there is a third way, between the politically impossible and disruptive approach of mass roundups on one hand, and the surrender of our sovereignty by the open-borders Left and its libertarian fellow-travelers on the other. This third way is attrition, squeezing the illegal population through consistent, across-the-board law enforcement to bring about an annual reduction in the illegal population rather than the annual increases we have seen for more than a decade. Over a few years, the number of illegal aliens would drop significantly, shrinking the problem from a crisis to a manageable nuisance.

Krikorian argues that a substantial reduction of the millions of illegal aliens in the US is a practical goal.

This isn’t just a wonkish daydream. There is significant churn in the illegal population, which we can use to our advantage. According to a 2003 INS report, thousands of people stop being illegal aliens each year. From 1995 to 1999, an average of 165,000 a year went back home; the same number got some kind of legal status, about 50,000 were deported, and 25,000 died, for a total of more than 400,000 people each year subtracted from the resident illegal population. The problem is that the average inflow of new illegal aliens was nearly 800,000, swamping the outflow and creating an average annual increase of close to 400,000.

The solution, then, is to increase the number of people leaving the illegal population and to reduce the number of new illegal settlers, so that there is an annual decline in the total number. This is a measured, Burkean approach to the problem. It doesn’t aspire to an immediate, magical solution to a long-brewing crisis, but rather helps us back out of an untenable situation that we helped create through our inattention to the law.

After reviewing the history of unenforced and undermined immigrant laws Krikorian outlines some ideas for what serious enforcement would look like. First Krikorian cites examples of sucessful enforcement and the effects these examples have had.

As I’ve written in these pages before, when we stepped up immigration enforcement against Middle Easterners (and only Middle Easterners) in the wake of 9/11, the largest group of illegals from that part of the world, Pakistanis, fled the country in droves to avoid being caught up in the dragnet.

And in an inadvertent enforcement initiative, the Social Security Administration in 2002 sent out almost a million “no-match” letters to employers who filed W-2s with information that was inconsistent with SSA’s records. The intention was to clear up misspellings, name changes, and other mistakes that had caused a large amount of money paid into the system to go uncredited. But, of course, most of the problem was caused by illegal aliens lying to their employers, and thousands of illegals quit or were fired when they were found out. The effort was so successful at denying work to illegals that business and immigrant-rights groups organized to stop it and won a 90 percent reduction in the number of letters to be sent out.

The reported self-deportation of illegal Pakistanis through the end of 2002 represents about 25% of all illegal Pakistanis in country before the vigorous enforcement against them began. Many more Pakistanis have probably left since then. A vigorous effort to enforce immigration law against all illegals would result in literally millions of self-deportations.

Krikorian outlines what a serious effort at immigration law enforcement would look like.

We know that when we actually enforce the law, eroding the illegal-immigration population is possible. So, what would a policy of attrition look like? It would have two key components. The first would include more conventional enforcement – arrests, prosecutions, deportations, asset seizures, etc. The second would require verification of legal status at a variety of important choke points, to make it as difficult and unpleasant as possible to live here illegally.

As to the first, the authorities need to start taking immigration violations seriously. To use only one example, people who repeatedly sneak across the border are supposed to be prosecuted and jailed, and the Border Patrol unveiled a new digital fingerprint system in the mid ‘90s to make tracking of repeat crossers possible. The problem is that short-staffed U.S. attorneys’ offices kept increasing the number of apprehensions needed before they would prosecute, to avoid actually having to prosecute at all.

It would be hard to exaggerate the demoralizing effect that such disregard for the law has on the Homeland Security Department’s staff. Conversely, the morale of immigration workers would soar in the wake of a real commitment to law enforcement. We’ve already seen a real-world example of this, too. I met with deportation officers in a newly formed “fugitive operations team” in Southern California who, unlike other immigration personnel I have spoken with, were actually excited about their jobs. They still have gripes, but the clear political commitment to locating and deporting fugitive aliens communicates to them that their work is genuinely valued by their superiors all the way up to the White House.

Other measures that would facilitate enforcement include hiring more U.S. Attorneys and judges in border areas, to allow for more prosecutions; passage of the CLEAR Act, which would enhance cooperation between federal immigration authorities and state and local police; and seizing the assets, however modest, of apprehended illegal aliens.

Krikorian argues the way gradually reduce the number of illegals is to create "virtual checkpoints". These checkpoints will catch illegals for deportation, encourage illegals to self-deport, and discourage would-be illegals from entering the United States.

The solution is to create “virtual chokepoints” – events that are necessary for life in a modern society but are infrequent enough not to bog down the business of society.

This is the thinking behind the law banning the employment of illegal aliens – people have to work, so requiring proof of legal status upon starting a job would serve as such a virtual choke point. As discussed above, in the absence of a verification mechanism, such a system couldn’t succeed. But the president signed into law at the end of last year a measure to re-authorize and expand the verification pilot programs that immigration authorities have been experimenting with since the mid 1990s.

Building on this fledgling system, we need to find other instances in which legal status can be verified, such as getting a driver’s license, registering an automobile, opening a bank account, applying for a car loan or a mortgage, enrolling children in public schools, and getting a business or occupational license.

An effective strategy of immigration law enforcement requires no booby traps, no tanks, no tattoos on arms – none of the cartoonish images invoked in the objections raised routinely by the loose-borders side. The consistent application of ordinary law-enforcement tools is all we need.

For more on the question of how and whether immigration law can be enforced see my previous post Can Immigration Law Be Enforced? For more proposals on immigration law enforcement see Eighteen Illegal Alien solutions that are better than any Amnesty.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 16 06:59 PM  Immigration Law Enforcement
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42 Percent Of Jordanian Women Physically Abused

It is not fun to be a woman in Jordan.

The UN study found that 42% of Jordanian women suffer from physical violence and even higher numbers suffer from sexual and verbal abuse in the home.

If anyone can find this report on the web (I tried and failed) then please post a link in the comments.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 16 01:06 PM  Culture Compared
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2004 March 15 Monday
Spengler Sees Demographic Decline Underlying Spain Election Result

The pseudonymous Spengler explains the Spanish election result and Spain's withdrawal of its from Iraq in demographic terms.

Spain's death-knell sounded long before the train bombings in Madrid, however. No country in the world is more determined to disappear. The country's fertility rate of 1.12 live births per female is the lowest in the world. As recently as 1975, at the death of strongman Francisco Franco, the fertility rate stood at 3 births per female in 1976. By 2050 Spain will have lost a quarter of its population. Germany and Italy, whose fertility rates fell earlier than Spain's, will lose a third, according to economist Anthony Scholefield.

Spengler argues that the defeat of Jose Maria Aznar's conservatives in Spain is a consequence of a popular intuitive understanding that the Spanish people, demographically speaking, have no future.

Socialist voters may not have worked out the arithmetic; Jose Zapatero's supporter in the street simply does not want to be burdened with America's distant wars, especially if they draw fire at home. It all amounts to the same thing. Countries too lazy to produce their next generation will not fight. Who will lay down his life for future generations when the future generations simply will not be there?

In an earlier essay Spengler argued that the Europeans see no point to life and therefore are failing to reproduce in adequate numbers.

Have the Europeans taken to heart existentialism's complaint that man is alone in a chaotic universe in which life has no ultimate meeting, and that man responds to the anxiety about death by embracing death?

Detest as I might the whole existentialist tribe, there is a grain of truth here, and it bears on a parallel development, that is, the death of European Christianity. Fifty-three percent of Americans say that religion is very important in their lives, compared with 16 percent, 14 percent and 13 percent respectively of the British, French and Germans, according to a 1997 University of Michigan survey.

This is a great analysis and unfortunately is likely at least part of the explanation for Europe's prevailing attitudes. In that latter essay Spengler explains Europe's resentment of the United States and Israel as fitting into this analysis as well.

Europe has produced so many ideas that have undermined its place in the world and caused it such massive disasters. The wars have been only the most dramatic manifestations of bad European ideas. Current European immgration policy is another slowly building disaster as is the birth dearth. While these latter disasters are, at least superficially, less dramatic and immediate they promise to be far more permanently damaging to European civilization.

Check out more great Spengler essays.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 15 01:38 PM  Civilizations Decay
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2004 March 13 Saturday
Luft And Korin On China's Rising Demand For Oil And Saudi Arabia

Writing in Commentary Magazine Gal Luft and Anne Korin (both of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS)) have written an article exploring China's relationship with Saudi Arabia and China's growing need for oil entitled The Sino-Saudi Connection

According to a conservative estimate by the U.S. Department of Energy, China’s oil imports over the next two decades will grow by 960 percent. The International Energy Agency predicts that, by 2030, those imports, now at 1.9 million barrels a day, will rise to at least 10 million barrels a day, the current import level of the United States.

If the Saudis opted to acquire their own bomb, they would likely become the first nuclear power to have bought one off the shelf. Were this to happen, it would represent the culmination of a Sino-Saudi-Pakistani nuclear project that began in May 1974 when, following India’s ascension to the nuclear club, China sent scientists to assist Pakistan in developing that country’s own nuclear program. By the early 1980’s, China had supplied the Pakistanis with enough enriched uranium to build a few weapons. In 2001, the CIA reported that China was continuing to lend "extensive support" to Pakistan’s program. Today, Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of between 35 and 60 nuclear weapons.

How did Pakistan, with its grinding poverty, pay for this expensive project? Some of the costs were undoubtedly carried by the Chinese in pursuit of their own interests, including their rivalry with India. But considerable evidence suggests that Saudi Arabia played a part as well.

Luft and Korin make an argument familiar to regular ParaPundit readers: Growing Chinese demand for oil is going to result in a decreasing influence of the United States over Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern oil producers.

Even if Saudi Arabia does not pursue nuclear status, however, it has abundant reasons for looking east to China both for markets and for military assistance, just as China has abundant reasons for looking west to Saudi Arabia for continued access to Middle Eastern oil. And aside from these mutual interests, an alliance with China would hold other attraction for the Saudis. Unlike the U.S., the Chinese do not aspire to change the Arab way of life, or impose freedom and democracy on regimes that view such ideas with skepticism and fear. Indeed, Chinese attitudes toward the open societies of the West are markedly similar to those of the Arab despotisms themselves.

The Chinese also have at their disposal immense reserves of manpower, which they can deploy to protect the oil resources of any new allies they acquire. Thousands of Chinese soldiers disguised as oil workers, for example, are used today to guard petroleum facilities in Sudan. With 11 million men reaching military age annually, China could easily replicate this elsewhere. Finally, while the U.S. is continually castigated by the Arabs for its closeness to Israel, China’s ties with Jerusalem have never risen above the level of indifference.

The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) turns out to be an organization dedicated to promoting views which which I'm in incredibly strong agreement:

The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to setting America free from the oil dependence that threatens its security. We believe that a shift from oil is the best guarantor of global security, prosperity, and freedom for generations to come. Through technology we can win the war on terror and shake the yoke of our energy dependence without compromising our way of life.

The IAGS website has additional articles which develop their line of argument.

What makes penetration and control of money transactions in the Arab world especially difficult is the Hawala system--the unofficial method of transferring money and one of the key elements in the financing of global terrorism. The system has been going for generations and is deeply embedded in the Arab culture. Hawala transactions are based on trust; they are carried out verbally leaving no paper trail.

The Saudi regime has been complicit in its people's actions and has turned a blind eye to the phenomenon of wealthy citizens sending money to charities that in turn route it to terror organizations. Furthermore, Saudi government money funneled into madrassas where radical anti-Americanism is propagated has been instrumental in creating an ideological climate which generates terrorism.

Reducing demand for oil would decrease the money available to spread hostile Islam and to support terrorism.

There are many strategies proposed by counter-terrorism experts to obstruct terrorist financing. Many of them are effective and, indeed, some of the steps that have been taken since September 11, such as freezing bank accounts and improving the scrutiny over international monetary transfers, contributed to a reduction in Al-Qaeda's financial maneuverability. But the only way to deal with the problem strategically is to reduce the disposable income and wealth generation capacity of terrorist supporters.

Hence, America's best weapon against terrorism is to decrease its dependency on foreign oil by increasing its fuel efficiency and introducing next-generation fuels. If the U.S. bought less oil, the global oil market would shrink and price per-barrel would decline. This would invalidate the social contract between the leaders and their people and stem the flow of resources to the religious establishment. It will likely increase popular pressure for political participation, modernity and reformed political and social institutions.

Reducing demand for Middle East oil would force the petroleum-rich regimes to invest their funds domestically, seek ways to diversify their economies and rethink their support for America's enemies. Only then financial support for terrorism could radically diminish.

It is very gratifying to read policy analysts whose analysis of the problems posed by US and world dependence on Middle Eastern oil agrees so very closely with my own. My most recent post on the topic is Demand For Oil Increasing From Rapidly Developing Nations. Also see my post on the problem posed by rapidly growing Chinese energy consumption: China Energy Consumption Growth Complicates Anti-Terrorist Efforts. See the bottom half of the post Intervention In Liberia Linked To Oil Dependency for Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley's appeal for a massive research and development effort to develop alternative energy technologies. For more on the threat of Saudi Arabia buying nuclear weapons see the post Without US As Ally Saudi Arabia Could Go Nuclear. My argument for why an energy policy aimed at obsolescing oil as an energyh source is found in the post Energy Policy, Islamic Terrorism, And Grand Strategy.

In my view it is not enough to reduce or even to eliminate US dependence on Middle Eastern oil. The main problem is not that the US is vulnerable to supply cut-offs. The biggest problem is that the whole world's demand for Middle Eastern oil is funding the spread of Wahhabi Islam, terrorism, and nuclear proliferation. While technologies that allow oil to be used more efficiently will be of some benefit the only way to reduce world demand for Middle Eastern oil is to develop technologies for producing energy that are cheaper to use than oil.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 13 02:08 AM  Politics Grand Strategy
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2004 March 12 Friday
British Entry Into Euro Currency Becoming Less Likely

UK government Treasury Chancellor Gordon Brown is going to argue that Britain is becoming even less of a fit into the euro currency because the Euro zone economies and Britain are diverging economically.

The gap between British and euro zone interest rates, which was 1.75 per cent last June, is now 2 per cent. The British unemployment rate is now 4.9 per cent compared to 8.8 per cent in the euro area, compared with 5.1 per cent and 8.7 per cent a year ago. And economic growth in the UK is forging ahead at 2.8 per cent compared to a sluggish 0.6 per cent in the euro zone.

...

Now even the most ardent pro-euro MPs concede it has been relegated to a long-term goal that could take more than a decade to realise. "The whole pro-European movement needs to be rebuilt," said one.

The use of a common currency was supposed to speed up growth in European economies. Where is the evidence to support this? The euro zone is sluggish. Britain continues to outperform it. The biggest problem with the euro is that it extends a common currency over an area which has so many different spoken languages which reduce labor mobility and laws that cause rigid labor markets. The various economies can not all grow at the same rate and they can not shift labor around to adjust for the different growth rates.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 12 03:24 PM  Europe and America
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2004 March 11 Thursday
Criminals Turned Policemen Kill US Officials In Iraq

Coalition Provisional Authority staffer, attorney, and women's rights advocate Fern Holland, another CPA staffer, and their translator were killed on a road near Hillah Iraq by police from Karbala.

At the Hilla jail, where the men were held until Polish troops took them into custody, the jailers insisted that the men were actual Iraqi policemen and not impersonators.

"We knew some of them," one man said. "Their commander (in Karbala) had been a criminal before Saddam left, so we knew his gang. They had been in jail here before. But then they got jobs as policemen in Karbala -- we knew this before this happened. We couldn't believe that the Americans gave police jobs to criminals like these."

Possible explanations are advanced for their behavior.

The shooting Tuesday night raised two possibilities: that guerrillas had adopted a new tactic of posing as police to carry out attacks, or that some members of the security forces being trained by U.S. troops are turning to violence.

One possibility is that the criminals-turned-policemen were simply cut-throat robbers. If they were not just killing to rob then do they just hate Americans and want to kill them for fun or did they do this to pursue larger political goals? They might have been out to kill Holland becauise she was investigating human rights violations against iraqi women.

The more important question is just what background checks are used by US forces when selecting candidates to train as police? Even with the most careful process of selection the odds are against getting non-corrupt police that are eager to fairly and evenly uphold the laws in Iraq.

Update: The Friday March 12, 2004 Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing from Iraq by Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt confirms the involvement of active duty Iraqi police in the slaying of Fern Holland, Robert J. Zangas and an Iraqi woman who served as their translator.

Q: Hi. Mark Stone, ABC. Could you confirm whether anyone was detained as a result of the shootings and also -- of the CPA shooting, and also whether they were indeed policemen or people dressed as policemen? And if they were policemen, this calls into question the -- how the policemen that are recruited are checked.

(Off-mike conferral between briefers.)

Kimmitt: There were eight persons detained as part of the incident. We understand that -- correction: six persons were detained as part of the incident. Four of those persons were carrying current and, we believe, valid Iraqi police service identification. The fifth was a former policeman under the Hussein regime, and the sixth person was a civilian. Those persons are all under coalition custody being interrogated at this time.

On a related note, current and former Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers have been caught cooperating with insurgents.

On Monday, U.S. troops arrested one current and two former ICDC soldiers for selling weapons to insurgents and carrying out bomb attacks on the homes of Iraqis cooperating with American forces in Tikrit, Saddam's hometown north of Baghdad.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 11 02:50 PM  MidEast Iraq New Regime Failures
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An American Army Officer In Mongolia

Robert Kaplan has an enlightening and entertaining essay in the March 2004 issue of The Atlantic about Colonel Tom Wilhelm, US defense attache in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. Kaplan followed Wilhelm around as Wilhelm politicked around Mongolia visiting remote outposts and drinking blood and vodka with the locals. The Mongolians are afraid of the Chinese.

Despite seven decades of virtual Soviet occupation, Mongolians are less afraid of the Russians than of the Chinese. Russia's empire is disintegrating; China's is rising. The Chinese are migrating in large numbers into adjacent Russian Siberia. We could see the Chinese border post from our hotel: a brightly lit, well-engineered arc, symbolizing the Sino-industrial encroachment on Zamyn-Uud's sprawl of felt tents and scrap-iron huts.

"In my blood I don't like the Chinese," a high-ranking Mongolian official declared in an interview I conducted in Ulan Bator. "China is not interested in developing Mongolia's economy, but in exploiting our natural resources. The Russians dominated our politics for seven decades but did not incorporate us into the Soviet Union. The Chinese have the possibility to utterly absorb us."

Wilhelm claims the rising belief in evangelical Christianity is what made possible the transformation of the US Army into an internally cohesive organization in which the lower ranks can be trusted with a great deal of power and authority.

The full flowering of the middle ranks had its roots in the social transformation of the American military, which, according to Wilhelm (a liberal who voted for Al Gore in 2000), had taken place a decade earlier, when the rise of Christian evangelicalism had helped stop the indiscipline of the Vietnam-era Army. "This zeal reformed behavior, empowered junior leaders, and demanded better recruits," he said. "For one thing, drinking stopped, and that killed off the officers' clubs, which, in turn, broke down more barriers between officers and noncoms, giving the noncoms the confidence to do what majors and colonels in other armies do. The Christian fundamentalism was the hidden hand that changed the military for the better. Though you try to get someone to admit it! We never could have pulled off Macedonia or Bosnia with the old Vietnam Army."

The whole article is worth reading in full.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 11 02:47 AM  Military Warrior Culture
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2004 March 10 Wednesday
Iran May Be Activating Secret Uranium Enrichment Plants

Iran has secret uranium enrichment plants which can produce enriched uranium to use in nuclear bombs.

An exile who has previously released key nuclear information about Iran said on Tuesday Iranian leaders decided at a recent meeting to seek an atom bomb "at all costs" and begin enriching uranium at secret plants,

Alireza Jafarzadeh, who disclosed in August 2002 that Iran had a hidden uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and a heavy-water plant at Arak, told Reuters his new information came from the same "well-informed sources inside Iran."

Iran's foreign minister has made it clear that Iran is going to resume uranium enrichment.

"It's our legitimate right to enrich uranium," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told reporters after a Cabinet meeting in Tehran. "We suspended uranium enrichment voluntarily and temporarily. Later, when our relations with the IAEA returns to normal, we will definitely resume (uranium) enrichment," Kharrazi said.

If reports that Iran has the ability to make its own uranium enrichment centrifuges are correct then Iran doesn't have to try to purchase parts on the international black market to the most important step in nuclear weapons development.

So far the Bush Administration has been unwilling to carry out attacks on Iran in order to stop Iran's nuclear program. But it increasingly seems that nothing short of a military attack is enough to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 10 02:41 AM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control
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2004 March 09 Tuesday
White Slavery By Muslims Was More Common Than Previously Believed

OSU history professor Robert Davis has a new book Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters : White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800 about European Christian slavery at the hands of Muslims in North Africa.

A new study suggests that a million or more European Christians were enslaved by Muslims in North Africa between 1530 and 1780 - a far greater number than had ever been estimated before.

In a new book, Robert Davis, professor of history at Ohio State University, developed a unique methodology to calculate the number of white Christians who were enslaved along Africa's Barbary Coast, arriving at much higher slave population estimates than any previous studies had found.

Most other accounts of slavery along the Barbary coast didn't try to estimate the number of slaves, or only looked at the number of slaves in particular cities, Davis said. Most previously estimated slave counts have thus tended to be in the thousands, or at most in the tens of thousands. Davis, by contrast, has calculated that between 1 million and 1.25 million European Christians were captured and forced to work in North Africa from the 16th to 18th centuries.

The slaves suffered a very high mortality rate.

Putting together such sources of attrition as deaths, escapes, ransomings, and conversions, Davis calculated that about one-fourth of slaves had to be replaced each year to keep the slave population stable, as it apparently was between 1580 and 1680. That meant about 8,500 new slaves had to be captured each year. Overall, this suggests nearly a million slaves would have been taken captive during this period. Using the same methodology, Davis has estimated as many as 475,000 additional slaves were taken in the previous and following centuries.

Christians and other non-Muslims have long been second or third class citizens in Muslim lands paying higher taxes, denied legal protections, and oppressed in other ways. It is therefore not surprising that over a period of centuries after the Muslim conquest of formerly Christian lands the Christian populations, less able to feed themselves and less protected, dwindled and even disappeared entirely in some Muslim countries.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 09 01:14 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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US Military European Command Expanding In Africa

The United States held off on bombing a possible terrorist training camp in Mali because the intelligence on the camp wasn't strong enough to confirm its purpose.

The U.S. military has considered air strikes against targets in a suspected terrorist safe haven in the desert wastelands of West Africa.

The border area between Algeria and Mali is remote and official comment on anti-terrorist activities there is rare.

But VOA has learned U.S. involvement in a crackdown on al-Qaida linked armed groups in the desert region has taken on new dimensions, in part out of concern terrorist leaders forced from other countries may have sought refuge there.

Defense officials say the United States has been sharing intelligence with Algeria and has deployed counter-insurgency specialists in Mali.

But note that the tone struck in the article is that the US military wouldhave done an air strike in Mali had it been possible to verify the nature of the camp.

The US military is making it clear that it wants to use US military force in Africa to stop Al Qaeda activities there.

Key among U.S. military proposals to fight back is deploying American units of about 200 soldiers to train armies throughout the continent, patrol alongside them, or hunt terrorists on short notice if necessary.

"Some people compare it to draining a swamp," Air Force Gen. Charles Wald told The Associated Press, eyeing a map of Africa in his office in Stuttgart. "We need to drain the swamp."

The US European Command is focusing southward and its top officers say they want to prevent other parts of Africa from descending into the sort of chaos that Somalia has been experiencing.

The US military is working closely with Algerian and other North African forces to help them combat the Salafist Group and other accused terrorist organizations. Military officials declined to provide details.

In addition, under a State Department-sponsored program involving training, cooperation, and equipment and called the Pan Sahel Initiative, the US military is helping the governments of Mali, Niger, Chad, and Mauritania in detecting and stopping suspected militants, terrorists, criminals, and contraband.

The military has also reached agreements to use some sites in Africa, including airports at Gao, Mali, and Entebbe, Uganda, for stopovers and refueling. The sites could later be expanded to house troops while they are training.

The US government is trying to be vague about the extent of its involvement with Algeria. The US government is officially claiming the US has no military base in Algeria.

ALGIERS, 5 March 2004 — The United States does not have any military bases in Algeria but is actively working with the north African country to fight terrorism, a statement by the US Embassy in Algiers said yesterday.

“The United States has not set up or intend to install any military bases in Algeria. Reports in the press to this end are baseless,” said the statement.

Note that this does not mean that there are no US special forces in Algeria doing training or conducting patrols.

The official US position is that the US involvement with the Algerian government is pretty minimal.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns said the Bush administration offered what he termed defensive systems to Algeria as part of expanded military aid and cooperation. Burns did not specify the weaponry.

During a weekend visit to Algiers, Burns said the United States provided Algeria with $700,000 a year for military equipment and training of security forces. That equipment is said to include night-vision and other non-lethal equipment.

Lets be real. Night vision equipment is not lethal as rifles or mortars are. But with night vision equipment soldiers can spot enemies to be able to shoot them. Such equipment obviously makes soldiers more lethal to their enemies. That is why the United States government is providing the equipment to Algeria. Non-lethal? Diplomats can be pretty funny guys.

Radars are also non-lethal unless you stand too close to them or they are used to direct fire against an enemy.

Algeria has been negotiating with such Western countries as Britain, France and the United States for a range of military systems. Officials said Algiers seeks to bolster night-vision and all-weather combat aircraft capability as well as radars and ground-based sensors to track Islamic insurgents in mountainous and wooded areas. Meanwhile Algeria has released the last of the Western tourists abducted by an Islamic insurgency group linked to Al Qaida.

Airplanes are not lethal either (unless an airplane happens to crash into the enemy). But the bombs and guns they carry will kill the enemy.

The US embassy in Algeria is engaging in yet more splitting of diplomatic hairs as the embassy acknowledges that the US is somehow battling terrorists in Algeria.

“The United States is battling terrorist activities in Algeria and the Sahel”, the US Embassy in Algiers said, adding, the country’s “noteworthy cooperation” with the US will be “extended to other sectors”, including training Algerian armed forces.

In May 2002 anti-terrorist efforts by Algerian and Malian intelligence officials prevent a bombing attack on the US embassy in Mali by the Algerian Salafist rebels.

A coalition of African anti-terror units frustrated specific plans last month by the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (known by the acronym GSPC) to attack the U.S. Embassy in Mali's capital, Bamako, the sources said.

The same Salafist version of Islam which the Algerian rebels embrace is also spreading in France and Salafists are taking over French mosques.

French officials have noted an increase in Islamic radicals taking over Paris area mosques in the last year, with 32 mosques now under the control of extremists.

According to a study by undercover police forces, the number of radical mosques has increased by 10 in the last year. Officials say there are a total of 373 mosques or prayer groups in Paris and its suburban areas.

French scholar Olivier Roy says the Salafists are the sorts of Muslims who become terrorists.

"Not all Salafists are terrorists but all terrorists are Salafists," he added.

Some might argue that the link I'm making between the French and Algerian Salafists is a cheap smear against French Muslims. But the French government is so afraid of Salafist terrorist attacks in France that it has refused to sell Algeria the kinds of "non-lethal" weapons tha the US is now selling to Algeria.

Burns did not say what kind of weapons the United States was willing to supply, but the Algerian authorities have long complained that a shortage of attack helicopters and night-vision equipment was hampering the country's efforts to end a 10-year Islamic insurgency that is estimated to have cost more than 100,000 lives.

These are precisely the kind of weapons that France has refused to sell its former colony, said Guillaume Parmentier, director of the French center on the U.S. at the French Institute for Foreign Affairs, of IFRI. He said the fear was that putting such weapons in the hands of the Algerian security forces could incite terrorist reprisals in France.

That fear is nature's way of telling the French they should deport all their illegal aliens and stop any further immigration of Muslims into France. Wake up. Save your country.

The US effectively is now intervening in ways the French fear to do. Is the French government happy to see the US government taking the risks that will anger groups that the French are afraid to anger? Or do the French leaders resent the US for intervening in their historic area of influence? Quite possibly they are feeling both those reactions at the same time.

France is in such a difficult spot with a large and growing Muslim population as a result of decades of foolish immigration policy.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 09 01:48 AM  Chaotic Regions
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2004 March 08 Monday
Will Iraq Remain Democratic And United?

The Kurds and various Shia factions look like they may be working up toward guerilla warfare in Kirkuk.

The long-simmering friction between Kurds and Turkmens here is taking a sectarian turn, with thousands of Shiite militiamen recently arriving to protect the Turkmens and Arab coreligionists against Kurdish hopes to incorporate Kirkuk into their sphere of influence in the north.

....

And concern that those tensions will spill over into violence has grown with the arrival of several Shiite militias here in recent weeks.

They include the Army of the Mahdi, the militia of the firebrand cleric Muqtada Sadr; the Badr Brigades, the military wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq; Iraqi Hizbullah; and the Dawa Party.

Marc Erikson thinks the more radical Shiites may eventually seize power.

I consider it a dangerous illusion that - after a putative electoral victory of Shi'ites under Sistani's leadership - the likes of Muqtada al-Sadr or al-Da'wa and Badr Corps leaders and their followers could be smoothly integrated into a peaceable Shi'ite political body leading a unified, democratic Iraq. Quite understandably, with thousands of their former comrades in arms buried in Saddam's mass graves, hatred for the once Ba'ath Party-led Sunni minority runs deep, as do motives of revenge and retribution. In the long run, more importantly, these radicals will not foreswear the ideas for which many of them have fought for decades. With a popular following and armed to the teeth, why should they subordinate their goals and aspirations to those of a weaker leader's? Badr Corps commander Abdul Aziz al-Hakim spelled out the strategy quite clearly: first have elections, in which Shi'ites under moderate leadership win an absolute majority; then use popular pressure and force transformation into a Khomeini-style Islamic republic. It's the old Leninist two-stage strategy by the precepts of which the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in 1917 after intermittent moderate Menshevik rule under Alexandr Kerenski.

Will the long term presence of US soldiers stationed in Iraqi bases be enough to prevent a creeping radicalization of the Iraqi government into a Shiite theocracy? Will the Shiites and Kurds gradually escalate fighting into a low grade guerilla war? In response is there anything the US could do aside from allowing a partitioning of Iraq patterned after Bosnia?

By Randall Parker 2004 March 08 02:56 AM  Mideast Iraq Democracy Failure
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2004 March 05 Friday
Mexican Government Wants US Residents To Have Dual Loyalties

Some have reacted skeptically to Samuel P. Huntington's argument that the huge Mexican immigration presence is creating dual loyalties among people of Mexican descent in the United States. Well, politicians of Mexican descent in America are turning out to be very fertile ground for the Mexican government as it attempts to increase its influence over American federal, state, and local governments.

The Mexican government is lobbying U.S. lawmakers and civic leaders for amnesty or guest-worker status for millions of illegal aliens now in the United States, working through a coalition of U.S.-based immigration rights associations, Mexican-American organizations and grass-roots Hispanic groups.

This growing political alliance, which also seeks expanded education and health care benefits for Mexican nationals in this country, along with additional programs for labor, community development and access to services, is led by the Institute for Mexicans Abroad, also known as the Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior.

...

The institute plans to bring more than 400 U.S. lawmakers and community leaders of Mexican descent to Mexico City by the end of this year.

As part of that drive for influence in the United States 6 years ago Mexico made it possible for Mexican immigrants to the US and even their US-borne children to hold dual citizenship in the United States and Mexico.

Under a new Mexican law that went into effect last month, naturalized U.S. citizens who were born in Mexico can now apply to retain Mexican nationality.

As many as 7 million naturalized Americans could take advantage of the new law, and so could their U.S.-born children, perhaps doubling the number eligible to hold dual U.S. and Mexican nationality. Never before has the United States had to face a problem of dual loyalties among its citizens of such great magnitude and proximity. Although some other countries -- such as Israel, Colombia and the Dominican Republic also allow dual nationality -- no other nation sends as many immigrants to the United States nor shares a common border. For the first time, millions of U.S. citizens could declare their allegiance to a neighboring country.

Mexican immigrants as a group have far less desire to become US citizens than most other immigrant groups.

Mexican immigrants have been less likely than other immigrants to become American citizens. They have waited an average of twenty-one years, compared to about seven years for other immigrants.

Vicente Fox wants open borders and tens of millions of Mexican citizens living in the United States.

In a television interview in 2000, Mexico's President Vincente Fox made his country's intentions clear concerning the balance of power in the Western Hemisphere:

"I'm talking about a community of North America, an integrated agreement of Canada, the United States, and Mexico in the long term, 20, 30, 40 years from now.

And this means that some of the steps we can take are, for instance, to agree that in five years we will make this convergence on economic variables. That may mean [that] in 10 years we can open up that border when we have reduced the gap in salaries and income."

In other words, his stated long-term goal is the abolition of the border between the US and Mexico.

The US Supreme Court has made it far easier for US citizens to maintain loyalties to other governments.

Anti-American combatants John Walker Lindh, the notorious "American Taliban," and Yaser Esam Hamdi, a citizen of both the United States and Saudi Arabia, were captured by U.S. troops in Afghanistan. But neither Mr. Lindh nor Mr. Hamdi will be stripped of his U.S. citizenship, because in 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that citizenship is an inalienable right that can only be lost if it's voluntarily renounced.

The number of Americans who are also citizens of other countries is soaring. And the growing prospect of U.S. citizens serving in foreign, even antagonistic, armies and governments, and foreign citizens serving in our own army and government and voting in our elections, raises disturbing questions about loyalty and national identity.

Dual citzenship is like believing in two religions at the same time.

Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, also believes Mexican dual citizenship will have a negative impact on the U.S.

"In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, dual citizenship is a 'self-evident absurdity,'" Krikorian told WND in an interview. "You can no more be a genuine citizen of two countries than you can adhere to two different religions at the same time."

Actually, some find it possible to hold contradictory beliefs on subjects that can not be proven and many religious religious beliefs certainly can not be proven. But when it comes to political loyalties contradictions end up getting resolved by specific actions that support one or the other of competing loyalties.

Mexicans are not the only group with divided or questionable loyalties. Most Muslims in the Los Angeles area have more loyalty to another country than they do to the United States.

In one of the few systematic in-depth studies of identifications of Muslim immigrants with their country of origin and the United States, GhaneaBassiri (1997), an Iranian doctoral student at Harvard, found that they are extremely ambivalent about this country. More specifically, GhaneaBassiri found "a significant number of Muslims, particularly immigrant Muslims, do not have close ties or loyalty to the United States." Indeed, his questionnaire showed that 80 percent of his sample of Muslims in Los Angeles and a third of those who had converted to the Muslim religion felt more allegiance to a foreign country than to the United States.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 05 01:59 AM  Immigration Culture Clash
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2004 March 04 Thursday
Immigration Policy Plays Big Role Making Canada Terrorist Haven

Canada's National Post has managed to get access to a recent report by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) which claims terrorists see Canada as an appealing base from which to raise funds and engage in other activities to support terrorist networks.

In a 22-page assessment of the security threats facing the nation, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said international terrorists are still using the country as a base for waging worldwide political and religious violence.

"Terrorism of foreign origin continues to be a major concern in regard to the safety of Canadians at home and abroad," says the Oct. 10, 2003, report, titled "Threats to Canada's National Security." "Canada is viewed by some terrorist groups as a place to try to seek refuge, raise funds, procure materials and/or conduct other support activities. ... Virtually all of the most notorious international terrorist organizations are known to maintain a network presence in Canada."

The report follows on the heels of the October 2003 US Library of Congress report Nations Hospitable To Organized Crime And Terrorism (PDF format) which lists Canada as a nation hospitable to terrorists.

According to a 2001 report by the U.S. Department of State, “Overall anti-terrorism cooperation with Canada is excellent, and stands as a model of how the United States and other nations can work together on terrorism issues.”580 Canada has assisted and cooperated with the United States on all fronts of the current war against terrorism. It has, for example, frozen the assets of suspected terrorists and is working closely with the United States to improve security along their common borders. Canadian and U.S. customs and immigration agencies, police forces, and intelligence agencies have a long history of cooperation on border security. This coordination has been strengthened in recent years through formal arrangements such as the U.S.-Canadian Bilateral Consultative Group on Counterterrorism Cooperation (BCG) and the Smart Border Action Plan.581

According to numerous intelligence and law enforcement reports, however, terrorists and international organized crime groups increasingly are using Canada as an operational base and transit country en route to the United States. A generous social-welfare system, lax immigration laws, infrequent prosecutions, light sentencing, and long borders and coastlines offer many points and methods of entry that facilitate movement to and from various countries, particularly to the United States. These factors combine to make Canada a favored destination for terrorists and international organized crime groups.

The report dwells at length on how Canadian immigration policy plays such a major role in making Canada a hospitable environment for terrorist operations.

Third, particular systemic and institutional characteristics make Canada hospitable to international terrorists and criminals. David Griffin, Executive Officer of the Canadian Police Association, explained:

Our proximity to the United States of America makes Canada extremely vulnerable, however it is our lax immigration policy, open borders, weak laws, archaic justice system, an even weaker corrections system and under enforcement that make us extremely attractive to the sophisticated criminal.584

In a 1999 Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) report entitled “Exploitation of Canada’s Immigration System: An Overview of Security Intelligence Concerns,” CSIS Director Ward Elcock is quoted as saying that “in most cases, [terrorists] appear to use Canadian residence as a safe haven, a means to raise funds, to plan or support overseas activities or as a way to obtain Canadian travel documents which make global travel easier.” According to the report, more than 50 terrorist groups are believed to be operating in Canada, including the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Tamil Tigers, Sikh extremists, the Kurdistan Workers Party, Hizballah, and extremist Irish groups.585 According to a 1999 report by Canada’s Special Senate Committee on Security and Intelligence,

Illegal migration into Canada—primarily through the refugee determination system— persists as a concern from two perspectives. First, it is a means by which terrorists may circumvent Canada’s vetting process abroad and enter in search of a temporary or permanent haven. Once in Canada, they may conduct fundraising or other activities or, in a very few cases, organize acts of violence in Canada or against other countries. Second, large volumes of illegal migrants provide the stream in which a few terrorists can ultimately gain entry to the United States by circumventing Canadian and United States border controls.586

Canada has arguably the most generous asylum system of any country in the world. Aliens have a substantially higher chance of gaining asylum in Canada than in the United States. In 1999, Canada granted asylum to 54 percent of applicants, compared with 35 percent in the United States. This condition, combined with easy entry into the United States from Canada, explains why Canada is a primary transition point for smuggled aliens.587

Perhaps until recently, there has also not been widespread concern that Canada could be the victim of a terrorist attack. Sensitivity to civil liberties combined with this low threat perception has made both the adoption and the enforcement of tougher immigration laws and strong counter terrorism measures more difficult. The fact that the 2002 bill designed to make Canada’s immigration laws less favorable to terrorists and international criminals is entitled the “Immigration and Refugee Protection Act” serves as an indication of the prevailing concern for or priority placed upon civil liberties in Canada.

Crimes committed in Canada are not considered relevant to asylum requests unless they would bring more than ten years of imprisonment. 588 This provision means that most of the criminal means by which terrorists raise funds—such as fraud, theft, and counterfeiting—would not disqualify them for asylum, even if they are found guilty. The same can be said for a portion of the illegal activities engaged in by international organized criminal groups.

Upon arriving at a Canadian port of entry, an individual claiming refugee status normally is released, with no provision for monitoring, rather than being detained pending investigation, as is the practice in Great Britain and the United States.589 As their claim is under consideration, such claimants can receive work permits, welfare payments, and housing and health care from the government.590 Deportation orders seldom are carried out for those whose refugee claims are denied.591

As of April 2003, Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board had a backlog of 53,000 asylum cases. A 2003 report by Canada’s Auditor-General said Canada has lost track of 36,000 people who have been ordered to leave the country over the past six years. The report also notes

I hope it does not take a terrorist attack on the United States launched from Canada to bring enough pressure to bear to fix the problems with lax Canadian immigration policies that make it so easy for Islamic terrorists to find their way to Canada. But my guess is that, yes, it will take an attack traceable at least in part to Canada to get the Canadian government to make a big change in their immigration policies. But even then Canada may not really attack the problem if the US government response to date is any indication of what we can expect from the Canadian government. Given the unwillingness of the US government to make large immigration enforcement changes to reduce the threat of terrorism this inadequate Canadian response to the terrorist threat should not be too surprising.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 04 02:29 AM  Terrorists Western Response
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2004 March 03 Wednesday
On Iran's Nuclear Program And The Larger Conflict

Iran claims it never managed to make working centrifuges from the more sophisticated European uranium enrichment centrifuge design it acquired from Pakistan after Pakistan stole the design from Europe.

According to Iran, after June 2003 "all of the [P-2] centrifuge equipment was moved to the Pars Trash Company in Tehran," says the IAEA's recent Iran report.

Centrifuges in the trash? Right.

The IAEA - not to mention the Bush administration - isn't buying this part of the story. They want the Iranians to talk more about what they really have in terms of P-2 equipment.

But Iran continues to insist that its nuclear program is meant only to produce electricity. Squeezing them too hard at this point might be counterproductive, say some experts. They're like someone hauled in by law enforcement for an interview who can leave at any moment, since they haven't officially been charged with a crime.

"We want them to continue cooperating with the police," says Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Agency.

The Bush Administration is not willing or able to escalate the confrontation with Iran over nuclear proliferation. The mullahs in power in Iran may be betting they can give themselves enough wiggle room to continue to develop nuclear weapons by pretending to reveal all.

As we watch the slow diplomatic dance and the continuing series of revelations about black market nuclear weapons technology it is worth reviewing how the Bush Administration is doing in dealing with the problems of Islamic terrorism, the spread of the more radical strains of Islam, and with the problem of nuclear proliferation. Here are some measures I think are worth keeping in mind when watching the Bush Administration execute its foreign policy:

  • Have the potentially most dangerous countries (notably North Korea and Iran) which are seriously trying to develop nuclear weapons being stopped from doing so? So far it doesn't look like the Bushies have stopped either Iran or North Korea from doing nuclear weapons development. Though it is possible the Bushies have slowed them down to some extent. But if the Bush Administration has a good plan to entirely stop both countries from developing nuclear weapons the outlines of that plan are not clear to me and I do not see how the current direction of US foreign policy is going to accomplish that goal.
  • Is funding for the spread of Wahhabi Islam increasing (that would be really bad if so), staying the same (still pretty bad), or decreasing? There are no obvious signs that the funding is going down. The Bushies do not seem to be even trying on this score. Importantly, they have not made any moves to reduce the long term demand for oil. Therefore the problems caused by oil money feeding the spread of a hostile religious ideology are going to get worse.
  • Is the number of kids being indoctrinated in Madrassahs going up, down, or sideways? In Pakistan at least the religious schools are totally unreformed. The number of kids attending Madrassahs is not going down and the curricula of those schools has not changed, from our perspective, for the better.
  • Are the various pieces of Al Qaeda getting whacked, chopped up, and generally made less effective? My guess is that considerable progress is being made on this front now that the US government is seriously awake to the threat post-9/11. But since Al Qaeda has historically spent years preparing major attacks only time will tell how successful the US and other nations are being in cutting into worldwide terrorist networks.
  • Is the Bush Administration implementing changes on a sufficient scale to make it harder for terrorists to enter the country either legally or illegally? The answer here is no. The Bush Administration is unwilling to make changes in border control or immigration policies on a sufficient scale to make it extremely difficult for terrorists to enter the United States. Karl Rove and George W. Bush are more interested in appealing to Hispanic immigration activists than in the security of the United States.

As you can see from the above list I do not think the United States is doing enough to deal with the Islamic threat or with the related nuclear weapons proliferation threat.

So far the Bush Administration has managed to knock out or stop the weakest nuclear proliferator wanna-bes with the invasion of Iraq and the deal with Muammar Qaddafi/Kadaffy/Khadafy/Ghadafi (can't we just rename him Gandolf or Rudolph or something?) of Libya for him to cry uncle and tell all about his nuclear efforts in exchange for being allowed back into polite society. The Libya deal was probably facilitated by the invasion of Iraq (though there are some who argue otherwise I do not find their arguments persuasive) and that deal helped to bring to light many elements of a black market in nuclear weapons technology. That is a big plus. But is the resulting intelligence bonanza going to enable the United States and its allies to create enough obstacles to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program? It is hard to tell but maybe not. Perhaps the Iranians have already acquired everything they need from the nuclear technology black market and the information from Libya is coming too late to make a difference.

More generally, the Bush Administration's general response just isn't attacking the general threat on enough different levels and layers. There should be a strategy for defunding the Wahhabis because Saudi Arabia isn't going to get better left to its own devices. The borders of the US should be actively defended to prevent hostile outsiders from getting in. While it is not politically correct to admit it not all religious ideologies are compatible with a free society. If we can't clearly identify the nature of the conflict we are not going to fight it effectively. In this respect the Cold War was an easier battle to fight because even though many on the Left argued that communism wasn't a threat most people clearly saw it as a dangerous ideology. Today that clarity of understanding is missing among most leaders in the government and among most of the talking heads.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 03 01:24 AM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control
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2004 March 02 Tuesday
International Trade Politics Makes Strange Political Bedfellows

When very left-leaning Bernie Sanders and the most consistently libertarian Republican in the House of Representatives Ron Paul co-sponsor legislation havng to do with exporting of jobs abroad we are not in Kansas any more Toto.

About 50 U.S. House members plan to introduce a bill Wednesday that would deny U.S. companies federal financing and loan guarantees if they shift U.S. jobs overseas.

The proposed Defending American Jobs Act was written by Rep. Bernard Sanders, Independent of Vermont, and will be co-sponsored by about 50 other representatives, including Republicans Ron Paul of Texas and Virgil Goode of Virginia.

Likely Ron Paul saw this as an opportunity to reduce government loan hand-outs and he'd probably be as equally willing to vote for a bill that denied government loans to companies on for any other reason that presented itself as a politically viable reason to restrict some government hand-out. Paul supports free trade so much that he favors the reimportation of price-controlled drugs from Canada (though Sanders may support this as well for different reasons). By contrast, Sanders links to an article on the decline in popular support for free trade.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 02 01:54 PM  Economics Political
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North Koreans May Suffer From Hunger Induced Brain Damage

As the Marmot has previously reported and as Barbara Demick describes in greater detail the North Koreans are about 8 inches shorter than South Koreans (same article here) due to the sustained food shortages and famine in North Korea.

South Korean anthropologists who measured North Korean refugees here in Yanji, a city 15 miles from the North Korean border, found that most of the teenage boys stood less than 5 feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds. In contrast, the average 17-year-old South Korean boy is 5-feet-8, slightly shorter than an American boy of the same age.

North Koreans are shocked when they find out that South Koreans are so much taller. Imagine what the impact would be North Koreans if they all knew just much much shorter they are than the South Koreans.

To the extent that they ever get to meet South Koreans, the North Koreans are likewise shocked. When two diminutive North Korean soldiers, ages 19 and 23, accidentally drifted into South Korea on a boat, one reportedly was overheard saying they would never be able to marry South Korean women because they were "too big for us," according to an account in the book "The Two Koreas," by Don Oberdorfer.

The United States government ought to be making a very large effort to break through the information monopoly the North Korean government has over the North Korean people by smuggling in radios, books, and other material. The chief goal of such an operation should be to cause the North Koreans to learn just how much worse off they are than South Korea, Japan, and the United States. A secular ideology is disprovable by empirical evidence. North Korea's regime is far more vulnerable to undermining by outside influences than is a regime based on a widely believed religion. Religions based on beliefs about the supernatural are as easily disproven or discredited in the eyes of their believers and so theocratic regimes in religious nations are harder to undermine.

South Koreans fear reunification with the North in part because they fear the Northerners suffer from lower IQs due to sustained hunger and malnutrition.

The issue of IQ is sufficiently sensitive that the South Korean anthropologists studying refugee children in China have almost entirely avoided mentioning it in their published work. But they say it is a major unspoken worry for South Koreans, who fear that they could inherit the burden of a seriously impaired generation if Korea is reunified.

"This is our nightmare," anthropologist Chung said. "We don't want to get into racial stereotyping or stigmatize North Koreans in any way. But we also worry about what happens if we are living together and we have this generation that was not well-fed and well-educated."

About 500 North Korean children have come to South Korea, either alone or with their parents, and they are known to have difficulty keeping up in the school system, say people who work with defectors.

The food problem in North Korea shows no signs of getting better.

BEIJING, Feb. 13 -- A severe food shortage has crippled the U.N. feeding program that sustains North Korea's most vulnerable and undernourished people, according to Masood Hyder, the U.N. humanitarian aid coordinator and World Food Program representative in Pyongyang.

He said his organization can now feed fewer than 100,000 of the 6.5 million people it normally does, many of them kindergarten-age children and pregnant women who cannot get what they need to stay healthy from the country's distribution system.

Undermining the North Korean regime ought to be a major US foreign policy goal. That the Bush Administration is not trying very hard to reach the people of North Korea is a major continuing US foreign policy mistake.

By Randall Parker 2004 March 02 02:41 AM  Korea
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