2004 May 31 Monday
Lack Of Native Language Skills In US Soldiers In Afghanistan

I hate to bore regular readers with tirades about signs of incompetency in the US war against terrorists or in the Iraq civil war. So I'll just post some questions. Does the use of a local as an interepreter in Afghanistan by a platoon of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment sound like it is working out very well? (UK Spectator free registration required)

‘Bill’ was the platoon’s brand-new Afghan ‘terp’ — interpreter — a skinny 21-year-old student from Kabul. He wore big dark glasses, a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes, a tracksuit and flip-flops. This was his first mission, and he gulped a lot from nervousness. He also barely spoke English, but he was trying hard. ‘Um, exactly he is saying that he does not know anything, sir,’ was Bill’s usual translation of long monologues by the prisoners. Undoubtedly, the men sitting on the ground had some explaining to do. Item — when the US patrol arrived in the village, a young girl was seen to run from the compound into the fields, carrying a large FM antenna in an apparent attempt to hide it. Item — during the subsequent search of an outhouse, deep in a chest full of old shoes, clothes and assorted rubbish, soldiers found a plastic bag full of brass blasting caps, a length of black cord, presumed to be detonation cord, a rusty steel grenade case, an old Soviet manual on mines, one Afghan and two Pakistani passports, all with the same photo but different names. In the thatch of the main house they discovered a dozen quick-loading clips of AK-47 ammo. The incriminating evidence had been neatly laid out in the centre of the courtyard. After three hours of systematic interrogation of the men of the house, through the inept medium of Bill the terp, confusion reigned.

We had just heard over the radio that Malik Khan — the prisoner whose face appeared in the passport photos — was the namesake of a ‘mid-level Taleban commander’ wanted by the authorities. Then the story changed — not a namesake, but a relative of a dangerous man named Khan. ‘Khan’ is a common Afghan honorific. ‘Malik’ means ‘landowner’.

Should soldiers who are going to have to go around from village to village interrogating locals have full local language skills? Are things going swimmingly when a US platoon has to use an interpreter who doesn't speak English well, who is young and seemingly untrained in interrogation, and whose loyalties lie who knows where? I'm not going to answer these questions. I'll let you decide. Also, should the soldiers perhaps be trained as detectives and have considerable training on in the local customs and ways of living and of what is or is not normal for poor Afghanis to possess? Read the whole article and you will see why I'm asking these questions.

I would like you to picture this sort of scene playing out in Iraq as US soldiers all over the country try to decide daily which Iraqis to send to, say, Abu Ghraib. Is a high level of local language skill important in a place like Iraq or Afghanistan? What's your opinion? Is the US military prepared to occupy a place like Iraq?

While I'm asking questions, I'll assume you all have read or seen news stories about how US Army military policemen who did not have local language skills or much if any interrogation training were 'assisting' the supposedly skilled interrogators in Abu Ghraib. This assistance was done after the supposedly skilled interrogators had left for the evening. The MPs were supposed to soften up the interrogatees for the next day. Now, I'm not an expert on interrogation. But I have read neat articles published in The Atlantic which is linked from my post Mark Bowden On Coercive Interrogation And Torture. If you bother to click through note what Bowden (of Black Hawk Down writing fame) has to say about the use of pain and other aspects of interrogation. Then ask yourself whether the interrogators and MPs in Abu Ghraib were following the sorts of best practice interrogation techniques that Bowden describes. (hint: the answer is "no").

I've previously reported on the Arabic language deficit among US forces in Iraq in June 2003 and in January 2004 and in February 2004. If soldiers didn't know how to fire their rifles or operate their tanks it would be a front page story. But the lack of ability to operate as detectives and to commuinicate with and interrogate the locals is a worse problem which attracts little attention.

Update: If you click through and read the full article on the soldiers in Afghanistan note that in the end it looks like the villagers being questioned are probably not launching attacks against Americans and yet they are taken into custody for further interrogation anyway. Will those villagers become more anti-American as a result? Are there people in Iraq and in Afghanistan who are now attacking US forces because of how US forces treated them or their families in custody and under interrogation? Do US forces need to have enormous amounts of cultural, linguistic, and investigational skills in order to avoid making more enemies than they already have? Do US forces have sufficient number of those needed skills? If not, are US forces making conditions worse for themselves in some areas?

Update II: Picture, if you will, US MPs in Abu Ghraib torturing some prisoners after the interrogators have gone home for the evening. The prisoners couldn't offer up information in order to get the torture to stop if the MPs couldn't even speak English and if the MPs were in no position to even understand the significance of the information being offered. Does this make you question the competence of the whole management of the interrogation process?

By Randall Parker 2004 May 31 01:28 AM  Military Warrior Training
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
2004 May 29 Saturday
Threats To Saudi Oil Fields Argue For Better Energy Policy

The Economist has a good article on the lack of spare oil production capacity, the concentration of spare capacity in Saudi Arabia, and the terrorist threat to Saudi oil facilities.

Amy Jaffe of the Baker Institute, at America's Rice University in Texas, observes that in 1985 OPEC maintained about 15m bpd of spare capacity—about one-quarter of world demand at that time. In 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, OPEC still had about 5.5m bpd of spare capacity (about 8% of world demand). That, argues Ms Jaffe, meant that the cartel could easily and quickly expand output to absorb several disruptions at once.

That is simply no longer true. Today's fast-shrinking spare capacity of about 2m bpd is less than 3% of demand—and it is entirely in Saudi hands.

Where has all that spare production capacity gone? General global growth in energy demand, but especially from China. Andy Xie of Morgan Stanley says demand in China is growing by leaps and bounds.

Surging oil demand for oil from China is the primary cause for the high oil price. Chinese demand is currently increasing three times as fast as the trend in 1990s. Global demand was rising by about one million barrels per day every year in the 1990s. Chinese demand is now rising at that speed by itself.

This rising Chinese demand for energy is causing the Chinese to make energy deals the world over. This creates both economic and security problems for the United States which US policymakers continue to steadfastly ignore.

Xie sees a decline in the rate of growth in Chinese demand as part of coming cooling off of China's economic growth. But in the longer term Chinese demand looks set to grow much higher than it is today. US energy policy and national security policy do not show signs that this trend has been internalized into policy calculations.

The Economist article reports on the possibility that Saudi Arabian oil production could be suddenly reduced by a well planned terrorist attack against Saudi Arabian oil facilities.

An even scarier possibility raised by Mr Baer is the crashing of a hijacked aeroplane into Abqaiq, the world's largest oil-processing complex. If done with the help of insiders, he speculates that the facility's throughput (nearly 7m bpd, on his estimate) would be choked off to as little as 1m bpd for two months—and might remain as low as 3m bpd for seven months.

Mr Woolsey adds that an attack using weapons of mass destruction (especially “dirty bombs”) would be even more devastating than one that used mere aeroplanes. All told, the pessimists reckon that well-co-ordinated attacks could take as much as 6m-7m bpd of Saudi output off the market for weeks, and perhaps longer.

The Mr. Baer mentioned in the excerpt above is the same Robert Baer who argues in a recent book that American policy makers have become conditioned to look too uncritically upon the risks of US dependence on Saudi oil.

The Saudis are currently producing about 8.6 million barrels per day (though estimates range as high as 10 million and they are supposedly increasing production rapidly) which is over 10% of the approximately 80 million barrels per day current worldwide daily oil production. Eric Chaney and Richard Berner of Morgan Stanley predict that if a terrorist attack on Saudi oil facilities reduced world production by 5% or 4 million barrels per day then oil prices would double until an economic slowdown and adjustments reduced demand.

A genuine supply disruption could spike energy quotes; as Eric Chaney and I recently noted, a loss of 5% of global crude output could double prices to $80 (see “Oil Price Update: Still Higher and More Uncertain,” Global Economic Forum, May 7, 2004).

In their "Oil Price Update" mentioned above Chaney and Berner say the spike in prices would not last because consumers would lose buying power and demand for energy would decline.

In one — our worst case scenario — serious political troubles in Saudi Arabia trigger a supply disruption. If the Kingdom is not able to play its marginal supplier-of-last-resort role in today’s taut market conditions, we might well re-visit price levels not seen since the second oil shock (USD 80 /bbl in 2004 dollars) before the transfer of income from oil consumers to producers chokes off global demand sufficiently to clear the market. At the other end of the spectrum, a second scenario involves an easing of political tensions in the Middle East, combined with a sharp slowdown in China that would send prices plummeting to the low twenties; we assume in this alternative that OPEC discipline would weaken if its members had to cope with a sudden loss of revenue and income.

But will such a successful attack against a major Saudi oil facility take place? The recent history of attacks in Saudi Arabia shows the terrorists are now shifting toward targetting foreign oil workers.

The latest attack on The Oasis housing complex in Khobar was again aimed at foreign oil industry workers.

The latest strike at another oil company compound, following a similar attack on May 1 on the western Saudi town of Yanbu, seemed clearly intended as a new attempt to start an exodus of the thousands of workers on whom Saudi Arabia depends to keep its oil industry running.

The attack on Saturday hit at the core of the relationship between the West and the Saudi kingdom. Most of the oil production and the American and other Western technicians who keep it flowing are based in and around the urban centers of Khobar, Dammam and Dhahran, clustered together near the shores of the Persian Gulf, just across from Bahrain.


About 15,000 Americans and 10,000 Britons are believed to be residents in the Eastern Province, the largest concentration of foreigners in the country. The United States Embassy warned all Americans in April to leave the country.

Note that a lot of those people are the families of the oil workers. If the families move out the workers themselves could still stay and present a smaller and more easily defended set of targets. Some of the families might opt to move to Bahrain so that the workers could see them periodically without travelling too far.

Al Qaeda is taking credit or responsibility (depending on your point of view) for the latest attacks against foreign workers in Khobar.

"The heroic mujahedeen in the Jerusalem Squad were able, by the grace of God, to raid the locations of American companies ... specializing in oil and exploration activities and which are plundering the Muslims' resources, on Saturday morning," said the statement signed by "the Al-Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula."

"They have so far managed to kill or wound a number of crusaders, God's enemies. We will give details later, naming the heroes of our blessed squad," it said.

Local Saudi Al Qaeda leader Abdulaziz al-Muqrin has called for a war against Western oil company workers and the Saudi royal family. How successful will this terrorist guerrilla war be in reducing Saudi oil production? It is hard to predict this sort of thing. First of all, the attacks so far have been aimed at foreign workers rather than oil facilities. Why is that? Are the workers easier to target? Or do the attackers not want to damage their own country's oil fields? Do they simply want to deny to Westerners? Or is their real goal to cut revenue to the Saudi government in order to bring it down in a revolution?

The Saudis could reduce the size of the risks posed to the foreign workers by allowing the workers to work longer shifts and stay overnight in production facilities. This would reduce transit risks and risks from attacks in living quarters. Also, they could reduce the number of housing complexes that house foreigners and concentrate those complexes with more security around them. The workers could even have housing built for them right next to oil facilities and well away from populated areas. Siimilarly, office space for the oil industry could be built away from the cities and near the oil production facilities in more easily defended locations. Then access to the workers could be more easily controlled. The larger point here is that the Saudis can afford to greatly increase the security of the workers using a number of methods. Then to cut production Al Qaeda would need to shift to direct attacks on oil facilities.

As for whether Al Qaeda can actually bring down the House of Saud: There are obvious analogous situations in recent Arab history where radical Islamists tried to bring down a regime. It is worth noting that none have succeeded. For example, the Egyptian government successfully put down an Islamist insurgency in the 1990s. Though the violent phase in Egypt lasted for several years.

Political violence in Egypt reached a climax from 1992 to 1997 and then decreased steeply.25 During the period of clashes, government forces dislodged militant Islamists from their hiding places or confronted them while they were preaching in mosques. Thousands were arrested, wounded, or killed. Political assassinations became common. The government assassination of Ala’ Muhiel-Din, spokesman for al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya, in 1989 brought militant response in kind. Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya claimed responsibility for a 1989 attempt to assassinate Interior Minister Zaki Badr, the 1990 assassination of Speaker of the People’s Assembly Ref’at Al-Mahjoub,26 the 1992 assassination of the secularist writer Farag Fouda, a 1993 attempt on the life of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, a 1995 attempt on the life of President Mubarak, and multiple attacks on Copts and foreign tourists, culminating in a massacre of some sixty tourists at the Hatshepsut Temple in Deir Al-Bahari near Luxor on November 17, 1997. The Jihad Organization was involved in multiple armed attacks, including three failed assassination attempts aimed at Information Minister Safwat Al-Sherif (April 1993), former interior minister Hassan Al-Alfy (August 1993), and former prime minister Atef Sidqi (December 1993). 27

Of course the big difference with Saudi Arabia is the world's dependence on its huge oil reserves. The rest of the world (excepting Western tourists in Egypt) was not much affected by internal Egyptian insurgency and counter-insurgency. But if political violence in Saudi Arabia lasts for several years it is quite possible that at some point during that time Al Qaeda will succeed in blowing up some Saudi oil facilities. If we are lucky the first damaging attack will be enough to wake us out of our slumber about energy policy but not big enough to bring on a deep recession and years of stagflation.

Oddly enough, the current on-going experience with insurgents in Iraq may be a reason for optimism about continued Saudi oil production. Iraq is far more chaotic and lawless than Saudi Arabia and yet Iraq is still managing to produce at approximately pre-war levels in spite of on-going attacks on oil facilities and pipelines.

Any expectation that the US occupation could quickly turn around the Iraqi oil industry, enabling it to influence or challenge Opec policy, has vanished. Output is currently at 2.8m barrels a day. The end of year target is 3m. By the end of 2005, the CPA is talking about 4m barrels a day, but no leading analysts takes this view seriously. One Seymour Pierce analyst said: “You can’t conjure a million barrels a day from nowhere.”

However, in the face of the violence and security risks oil production can't rise in Iraq until a much higher level of security is achieved.

In the Kirkuk field, oil output has been constrained by sabotage, reservoir damage, the theft of spare parts and repeated attacks against the 1.1-mil b/d capacity pipeline to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

Since May 2003, there have been more than 100 attacks against the country's 4,350-mile-long pipeline system and 11,000-mile-long power grid. In early April, insurgents hit the oil pipeline from Kirkuk to the 110,000 b/d Daura refinery on the outskirts of Baghdad.

The biggest problem with Iraq is that the investment is not being made to scale production to much higher levels.

Given that both Saudi and Iraqi oil fields may be subject to terrorist attacks for years to come what should the United States do about it? The US should have an energy policy shaped much more strongly by national security considerations. A national security policy for energy should include an additional $10 billion or more per year spent on energy research as part of a recognition that the world's increasing dependence on Middle Eastern oil creates national risks for the United States.

One way that the higher security needed for oil field development might be achieved in at least some parts of Iraq would be to partition Iraq either formally or informally with a loosely coupled confederation. Let them self-govern and choose their own governments for each region. If we lower our sights for what is possible to achieve in Iraq we increase our chances of succeeding at what we actually try to do. Regional autonomy would increase the chances of success in each region. There are many obstacles to the achievement of democracy in an Iraq based on a highly centralized organization of government. Some (though not all) of those obstacles are avoided under a partition plan.

Regardless of whether partition brings better odds of success at democracy it may improve the odds of oil fields development. One region's government (perhaps the Shias or perhaps the Kurds) would be faster at establishing security and then in that region oil exploration will be able to take place most rapidly. The government of the Sunni region would have the most incentive to rapidly explore its region under a partition scheme since it would have the least amount of existing oil production capacity. If, given self-rule, the Sunni government opts to have nothing to do with American or British oil companies and decides to bring back Russian or French oil companies to explore for oil in their Western Desert then that will be their choice to make. The Kurds will be able to export oil by the pipeline that passes through Turkey while the Sunnis will be able to export using the pipeline that passes through Syria and the Shias will be able to export via their Persian Gulf oil terminals.

As this map of Iraq oil fields shows, with the exception of the East Baghdad oil field most Iraqi oil fields now in production are in the Kurdish north and the Shia south east. See also this map for a more detailed view of some of the fields but note that second map does not show the exact location of the East Baghdad field. Mismanagement of Iraq's oil fields in part due to UN sanctions probably will limit how much can be extracted from existing production fields. The poor extraction techniques which are damaging the fields have not yet stopped either.

While the maps above show that most oil fields in Iraq currently in production are located in Kurdish and Shia Arab regions there are some oil fields in the Sunni Arab region and there may be a lot of oil in the Sunni Arab Western Desert.

According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Iraq contains 115 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, the third largest in the world (behind Saudi Arabia and Canada). Estimates of Iraq's oil reserves and resources vary widely, however, given that only 10% or so of the country has been explored. Some analysts (the Baker Institute, Center for Global Energy Studies, the Federation of American Scientists, etc.) believe, for instance, that deep oil-bearing formations located mainly in the vast Western Desert region, for instance, could yield large additional oil resources (possibly another 100 billion barrels or more), but have not been explored. Other analysts, such as the US Geological Survey, are not as optimistic, with median estimates for additional oil reserves closer to 45 billion barrels.

Given that the Saudi oil fields look to be entering an extended period of risk of damage by Al Qaeda attackers the West and the world as a whole have an increasing need to get Iraq's oil fields on line as quickly as possible. Also, the United States needs to make a much larger effort to develop technologies that will obsolesce fossil fuel oil as an energy source. But in spite of rapidly growing oil demand, high oil prices, the continued terrorist threat, and worsening crisis in Iraq and Saudi Arabia neither major political party in the United States has embraced the need to make a big push to develop new energy technologies. Tell your friends, coworkers, Congresscritters, and even other bloggers: The United States needs a better energy policy.

Update: The Saudis stormed the Khobar residential compound where hostages were being held by the Muslim gunmen and the death toll is now around 22 people.

Saudi Arabia says 22 people, most of them foreigners, were killed in the day-long terrorist siege of a foreign housing complex in the Persian Gulf oil city of Khobar.


Saudi officials say the dead include eight Indians, three Philippine nationals and three Saudis. An American, three Britons, an Italian, a Swede, a South African and an Egyptian also were reported killed.

A death toll of 22 mostly non-Muslims will be seen by Al Qaeda as a victory since that is a large enough number to scare many non-Muslims into leaving.

It might seem obvious and practical to allow the foreigners to have guns inside their residential compounds. But my guess is that the Saudis will refuse to allow that because it would be an acknowledgement of limits to Saudi ability to prevent attacks and also could be portrayed by the Jihadists as the government allowing an armed "5th column" of non-Muslims inside the kingdom.

The attackers shot non-Muslims and let Muslims go.

Abdul Salam al-Hakawati, a 38-year-old Lebanese corporate financial officer, said gunmen rummaging around his family residence said, "This is a Muslim house'' - apparently seeing framed Quranic verses on the walls.

He said a man in his early 20s, carrying a machine gun and wearing an ammunition belt, told him: "We only want to hurt Westerners and Americans. Can you tell us where we can find them here?''

Using attacks on personnel Al Qaeda probably will have better luck at reducing the rate of progress of new oil drilling projects than at slowing production of existing projects. But if Al Qaeda starts carrying out attacks on facilities and does so with sufficient expertise then it might manage to do damage that reduces current production.

Update II: Remember that the money the whole world spends to buy Saudi oil funds the spread of Wahhabism in the US and around the world. While the Bush Administration pretends (believes?) that all religions are inherently good the use of this myth to formulate policy is damaging to long term US national interests.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 29 10:56 PM  Politics Grand Strategy
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
2004 May 28 Friday
Looting For Export Continues In Iraq

Thought the looting in Iraq must have stopped by now? Writing for the New York Times James Glanz reports on continued looting of valuable equipment from Iraq. (same article here)

Recent examinations of Jordanian scrapyards, including by a reporter for The New York Times, have turned up an astounding quantity of scrap metal and new components from Iraq's civil infrastructure, including piles of valuable copper and aluminum ingots and bars, large stacks of steel rods and water pipe and giant flanges for oil equipment — all in nearly mint condition — as well as chopped-up railroad boxcars, huge numbers of shattered Iraqi tanks and even beer kegs marked with the words "Iraqi Brewery."

"There is a gigantic salvage operation, stripping anything of perceived value out of the country," said John Hamre, president and chief executive of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan Washington research institute, which sent a team to Iraq and issued a report on reconstruction efforts at the request of the Pentagon last July.

A Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman is quoted as saying that the 100+ trucks hauling scrap metal into Jordan each day are not carrying anything of high value. But one Jordanian engineer sees obvious evidence that this is not the case.

But Muhammad al-Dajah, an engineer who is technical director Jordanian free-trade zones like the Sahab scrapyard, pointed with chagrin to piles of other items that hardly looked as if they belonged in a shipment of scrap metal. There were new 15-foot-long bars of carbon steel, water pipes a foot in diameter stacked in triangular piles 10 feet high, and the large flanges he identified as oil-well equipment.

"It's still new," Mr. Dajah said, "and worth a lot."

"Why are they here?" he asked rhetorically, and then said, referring to the devastation in Iraq. "They need it there."

What Iraq obviously needs is a better internal black market so that the stolen goods can stay in the country to be used for local purposes. But the fact that the equipment is being exported suggests there is not enough enough internal demand for construction materials.

Well, look at it on the bright side: The US has been very slow in spending money in Iraq to rebuild. This has prevented lots of US taxpayer dollars from buying equipment that would have been stolen and exported.

How to create an efficient internal market for security? If government-owned industries were more rapidly privatized would that create more incentives to protect valuable assets?

There is a continuing need in Iraq for replacement oil equipment as existing equipment gets stolen or blown up. The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) provides a useful resource for tracking attacks on oil facilities in Iraq with its Iraq Pipeline Watch.

51. May 8 - attack on oil pipeline taking crude northwards from the country’s southern oilfields at point 25 miles (40 km) south of Baghdad, oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said on Saturday, noting it would take several days to start pumping oil again.
52. May 9 - blast near a strategic oil pipeline network linking north and south Iraq, by the town of Musayyib, about 56 miles (90 km) south of Baghdad. Unclear what caused the explosion or whether the pipeline itself was damaged.
53. May 13 - rocket landed in a gas plant at the Daura oil refinery in Baghdad, injured a worker and caused a fire.
54. May 24 - explosion badly damaged the Northern pipeline at around 7pm local time on a section between the Kirkuk oilfields and the Dibis pumping installations. A security official of Iraq's Northern Oil Company, Juma Ahmad, said pumping had to be stopped to fight the fire. Another security official for Northern Oil, Issam Muhammad, said while the fire had been put out it would take 12 days to repair the damage.

Imagine what the effect would be on the world's economy if Saudi Arabia decayed to this level of instability.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 28 02:47 PM  Mideast Iraq
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2004 May 27 Thursday
Poll Finds Majority Opposition To Immigration In Most Western Countries

With Canada as the notable exception in almost all Western countries the majority sees immigration in a negative light.

In the United States and in the European countries polled - Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain - people were more likely to say they had negative views of the influence of immigrants, according to AP-Ipsos polls. That comes at a time of high concern over unemployment and worries about terrorism.

When asked "What influence do you think immigrants have on the way thing are going in your country" the combined percentage for very good/somewhat good versus very bad/somewhat bad broke down for the United States as as 42% positive/47% negative, for Canada 73% positive/20% negative, for Japan 44% positive/44% negative, and for Europe as a whole 37% positive/54% negative.

The more important question from a policy standpoint is what level of immigration is best? An earlier 2000 poll showed that in spite of a overall positive view of immigration about half of Canadians think current immigration is too high.

They are also split about the number of immigrants coming to Canada (45% "too high", 45% "about right"), and whether Canadians as a whole should be encouraged "to try to accept minority groups and their customs and languages" (46%) versus 50 percent who say that Canada should “encourage minority groups to change to be more like Canadians".

The latest poll does not ask whether current immigration levels are too high. But the section of the poll on whether immigration is a good or bad influence is probably a proxy that underestimates the percentage of the respondents that would support a decrease in immigration levels. For polls on American attitudes toward levels of immigration see my previous posts Elite Populace Gap On Immigration Issues and Most Americans Want Halt To Illegal Immigration.

Given the message we hear in favor of more immigation from Hispanic activists in the United States and from the Mexican government it is quite ironic that the latest poll shows 24% of Mexicans see immigration as a very bad influence, 29% see it as somewhat bad, only 28% see it as somewhat good, and a mere 8% see it as very good. Also, when Mexicans were asked whether it was important for all people to share the same culture and traditions 42% strongly agreed and 29% somewhat agreed. So 71% of Mexicans think multiculturalism is a bad idea.

The full survey results can be downloaded in PDF format.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 27 07:46 PM  Immigration Border Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
2004 May 26 Wednesday
Illegitimacy Trend Worsened By Hispanic Immigration

Roger Clegg reports on the worsening news about illegitimacy.

According to the latest National Vital Statistics Reports of the federal government, 34 percent of all births in the United States now are to unmarried mothers. Of course, it will surprise no one that nearly all births to girls below 15, and 80 percent of those to girls between 15 and 19, are out-of-wedlock. But even among women between 20 and 24, 52 percent of births are now illegitimate.

Those figures are for all races and ethnicities. As the federal report notes, however, in a decided understatement: “Birth rates for unmarried women vary widely by race and Hispanic origin.” Among African Americans, 68.2 percent of births are illegitimate, versus 23.0 percent for non-Hispanic whites. For American Indians, 59.7 percent of births are illegitimate; for Asians and Pacific Islanders, 14.9 percent; and for Hispanics of all races, 43.5 percent.

Of course, “Asians and Pacific Islanders” and “Hispanics” are artificial categories, and this is reflected in the wide range of illegitimacy rates among their respective subgroups. Thus, only 9.0 and 10.3 percent of Chinese and Japanese births, respectively, are out-of-wedlock, versus 20.0 percent for Filipinos and 50.4 percent for Hawaiians; and the percentage of illegitimate births for Puerto Ricans (59.1) is double that of Cubans (29.8), with Mexicans (42.1) and Central and South Americans (44.8) falling in between.

I will not belabor the obvious point: To indulge in an understatement of my own, those groups with higher illegitimacy rates aren’t doing as well as those with lower illegitimacy rates.

Of course Hispanics are America's most rapidly growing ethnic group. While some of the more Panglossian conservatives try to argue that Hispanics have such strong family values that it is inevitable that the Hispanics will become model Republicans some day (and why is it that Democrats have a bigger reputation for hallucinogen drug use?) the raw social science data argues strongly to the contrary.

While demograph trends in America are bad news for the Rino (Republican In Name Only) Party what is much worse is that the demographic trends in America are bad news for America.

Jack Dunphy (a pseudonym), an LAPD cop, witing about a recent murder of an 11 year old boy who was living with his grandparents on account of his parents being drug addicts, gives the bad news on the trend toward grandparents acting as parents.

As we debate whether a child can have two fathers or two mothers, can we at least agree that a child is harmed when he has no mother and no father? A May 1999 Census Bureau report, Coresident Grandparents and Grandchildren, tells of the sharp rise in the number of children being raised by their grandparents. In 1970 there were 2.2 million children living in homes maintained by grandparents. By 1980 the figure had risen modestly to 2.3 million, or about 3 percent of all children under age 18. In 1997 there were 3.9 million such children, or 5.5 percent of all minors in the country. The report attributes this increase to "the growth in drug use among parents, teen pregnancy, divorce, the rapid rise of single-parent households, mental and physical illness, AIDS, crime, child abuse and neglect, and incarceration of parents." Most police officers, especially those working in the grittier areas of large cities, are well aware of the consequences of these numbers. Even the healthiest grandparent is no match for the typical American teenager

What Dunphy doesn't bring up is that the next generation is going to be even worse. I know of cases where the grandparents have raised their grandkids where the grandkids then went on to have children they were too irresponsible to raise. Well, this is a stop-gap measure. Once the last responsible generation is dead who is going to raise the later generations of messed up kids?

Taxpayers are of course going to pay increasing costs for all of this and society will function less well.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 26 02:36 PM  Immigration Societal Decay
Entry Permalink | Comments(9)
2004 May 25 Tuesday
The Problem Of Just-In-Time Nuclear Proliferation

Writing for the New York Times William J. Broad reports on the growing problem of states that are developing nuclear power industries which can use those industries as a starting point for nuclear weapons development.

Experts now talk frankly about a subject that was once taboo: "virtual" weapon states - Japan, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Taiwan and a dozen other countries that have mastered the basics of nuclear power and could, if they wanted, quickly cross the line to make nuclear arms, probably in a matter or months. Experts call it breakout.


"If you look at every nation that's recently gone nuclear," said Mr. Leventhal of the Nuclear Control Institute, "they've done it through the civilian nuclear fuel cycle: Iraq, North Korea, India, Pakistan, South Africa. And now we're worried about Iran."

The moral, he added, is that atoms for peace can be "a shortcut to atoms for war."

Canada and Belgium are of course unlikely to build nuclear weapons. But at least one "virtual" weapons state has a strong and growing incentive to develop nuclear weapons: Taiwan. Faced with a Beijing government and nationalistic sentiment on the mainland determined to force Taiwan to submit to mainland control and with China's continued economic growth translating into steadily increasing military capabiities Taiwan's only realistic possibility for continued independence may be the nuclear option.

Broad mentions work on efforts to develop more proliferation-resistant nuclear fuel cycles. But it seems unlikely that Iran will accept getting its nuclear fuel from abroad or sending its waste to another country. Even if it did it could cheat on such an agreement.

Mitchell Reiss, the State Department’s director of policy planning, says the problem is that many non-nuclear states could embark on a project to build nuclear weapons and succeed before inspections programs could detect the effort.

Drawing an analogy to manufacturing and distribution techniques that were pioneered commercially by Japanese manufacturers and are now used worldwide, Reiss said he is concerned that nuclear proliferators could soon follow suit. Such “just-in-time” proliferation he said, would mean that materials for nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons materials would no longer be stockpiled but only brought together when they need to be used.

“The concept works beautifully in the private sector, and there’s no reason why it can’t work for the bad guys,” Reiss said. “But this will create enormous challenges for the [International Atomic Energy Agency], for the Nuclear Suppliers Group [an export control clearinghouse for most of the major countries with civilian nuclear industries], for all the countries of the world, in order to prevent continued nuclear proliferation.”

In particular, Reiss said this strategy might pose particular problems for on-site inspections—a key tool of international nonproliferation regimes.

“I think on-site inspections certainly are important—essential in some cases,” Reiss said. ”Still, there is a concern that you can inspect a place one day and there will be nothing there, and you come back the next week and everything will be there.”

If you are interested in more policy proposals for controlling nuclear proliferation see a recent presentation by Henry Sokolski of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center in which he makes seven proposals to make nuclear proliferation more difficult (PDF format). Keep in mind when reading it that these are seven proposals on top of many other he and others have made in the past. Also see my previous post Henry Sokolski: Taking Proliferation Seriously.

I am still betting on Iran successfully building nuclear weapons within a few years. Iran would need to be offered much bigger carrots and sticks before it would halt and reverse its drive to build nuclear weapons.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 25 11:12 AM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
Popularity Of Muqtada al-Sadr Growing In Iraq

Voice Of America reports on a poll taken in late April in 7 Iraqi provinces which shows strong support for cleric and insurgent militia leader Al-Sadr.

In the survey, conducted by the year-old Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies, 32 percent of the respondents said they strongly support the fiercely anti-coalition Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr. Another 36 percent said they somewhat support the cleric, even though he is being sought by the coalition for his alleged involvement in the murder of a Shiite rival, who was killed last year.

The poll numbers place the radical cleric among the three most admired figures in the country, behind the top religious authority for the majority Shiites, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and the political head of one of the largest Shiite parties, Ibrahim Al-Jaafari.

There is no peace-loving "silent majority" in Iraq. The majority support a rebel cleric. Sistani is more popular but Sistani doesn't have a militia for angry frustrated youth to join to get status.

Time reports that young and unemployed Shiites who join the Mahdi Army see Sadr as a defender of Islam against America.

U.S. officials say the Mahdi Army has perhaps 5,000 fighters nationwide, but last Friday there were almost that many in Kufa and nearby Najaf, 6 miles away.


Most are ready to die for al-Sadr because they say he is the only one who dares to stand up for Islam against the Americans.


Since the U.S. came, says Ali, the people have had "no services, no electricity, no water, no work."

Iraq has a fairly young population. Young single unemployed men brought up to see all relationships as high stakes struggles over dominance and submission are going to jump at the opportunity to become dominant males.

If the Bush Administration had been far more aggressive about trying to rebuild and to pull large numbers of Iraqis into paying jobs then at least some of the current violent opposition would not have happened. But an occupation of Iraq was always going to be a very difficult undertaking. There are many reasons why liberal democracy hasn't taken hold in any Arab country. We ignore those reasons at our peril.

Update: In this popularity poll in Iraq notice one person whose name is notably missing from the top 3: Ahmad Chalabi.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 25 12:09 AM  MidEast Iraq Opinion Polls
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
2004 May 23 Sunday
Libya's Uranium May Have Come From North Korea

Two tons of uranium which Libya turned over to the United States and the IAEA may have been sold by North Korea's regime.

Evidence gathered by the UN atomic agency suggests North Korea was the source of nearly two tons of uranium to Libya as part of attempts by Colonel Gaddafi to build nuclear warheads, diplomats said today.

The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, cautioned that the investigation was not yet complete and other sources still could not be ruled out.

The uranium in question was not enriched. Libya had centrifuges it had bought from A. Q. Khan's nuclear black market ring for purifying the uranium into weapons grade.

Abdul Qadeer Khan is billed as the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb. But he's not a physics genius in the league of Oppenheimer, Feynman, and other great physicists who worked on the US nuclear weapons program during World War II. Khan's achievement was really as a coordinator of manufacturing and services outsourcing and s stealer and purchaser of needed technologies. Khan's abilities are far more common than those of the best physicsts and best engineers. Various pieces of the needed expertise and component manufacturing capabilities can be found in many countries.

A lot of intelligence services are trying to figure out what other countries might have purchased uranium from North Korea.

The classified evidence — many details of which are still sketchy — has touched off a race among the world's intelligence services to explore whether North Korea has made similar clandestine sales to other nations or perhaps even to terror groups seeking atomic weapons.

If North Korea really did supply uranium to Libya then this, on top of other North Korean weapons and weapons technologies increases the likelihood that North Korea would sell complete bombs.

Mohamed ElBaradei of the IAEA is most worried about North Korea.

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons "sends the worst signal to the would-be proliferators" that if they accelerate their weapons programs, powerful countries will negotiate with them.

"We need to make sure that that is not the lesson that people would learn from North Korea," he said. "I think it's the No. 1 international security concern. The way we deal with it, the way the international community responds to North Korea, is very important for the future precedent-setting."

The problem with North Korea is that if the United States threatens North Korea the regime will see that as a reason to develop nukes. But if the US does not threaten then the regime will pursue nuclear development anyhow. Nuclear weapons are seen by the regie as a way to become more powerful to fend off potential future threats and also probably as a tool to use as leverage to extort badly needed foreign aid to prop up a terrible economy.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 23 10:43 PM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
More Accusations About Chalabi Deceptions

Foreign confirmations of US intelligence estimates of Iraqi WMD development may have been produced by false information that the Iraqi National Congress fed to intelligence agencies in other countries. (LA Times, free registration required)

It is not clear whether Iran had any role in the alleged use of the INC to provide disinformation to the West. U.S. officials say the INC may have been acting on its own when it sent out a steady stream of defectors from 1998 to 2003 with apparently coordinated claims about Baghdad's purported weapons of mass destruction.

Because even friendly spy services rarely share the identities of their informants or let outsiders meet or debrief their sources, it has only in recent months become clear that Chalabi's group sent defectors with inaccurate or misleading information to Denmark, England, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden, as well as to the United States, the officials said.

Expect the Bush Administration to spln this by arguing that if so many countries could be fooled then there is not special negligence on the part of the Bushies. That argument will sound plausible to some people. But if this report about INC deception of intelligence agencies of many countries is true it points to a serious deficiency in the hiring practices of intelligence agencies in Western countries. They need the level of talent (particularly in science and technology but also in cultural knowledge and economics training) that would allow them to see through deceptions which they currently are easily fooled by.

It might be that the Iraqi National Congress (INC) deceptions on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) development in Iraq were really initiated run by Chalabi. But even if Iran's government wasn't in charge of the deception project it seems very possible that Chalabi used the Iranians for technical assistance to produce materials that would fool Western governments into thinking that documents and drawings really came from within Saddam's regime.

So many governments may have been conned by Chalabi. I have to admire his skill at deceit. The guy has a bachelor's from MIT and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in math and by all reports I've read he has a very fast mind. Well, he's apparently smart enough to fool many different governments. If the accusations now being made about him are confirmed he may turn out to be one of the most clever spies in history.

Andrew Cockburn reports that Chalabi is trying to become a major Shia factional leader and aims to overthrow the appointed government that will shortly be granted partial sovereignty.

Lashing out against his exclusion from power, he has in effect been laying the groundwork for a coup, assembling a Shia political coalition with the express aim of destabilising the "Brahimi" government even before it takes office. "He has been mobilising forces to make sure the UN initiative fails," one well connected Iraqi political observer, who knows Chalabi well, told me today. "Hehas been tellling these people that Brahimi is part of a Sunni conspiracy against the Shia."

This scheme is by no means wholly outlandish. Chalabi has recruited significant Shia support, including Ayatollah Mohammed Bahr al Uloom, a leading member of the Governing Council and two other lesser known Council members. Significantly, his support also includes a faction of the Dawa Party that has been excluded from the political process by the occupation authority and which also supports rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Other recently recruited allies include Iraqi Hezbollah. All are joined in a Chalabi dominated Supreme Shia Council, similar to a sectarian Lebanese model. "Sooner rather than later," the Iraqi observer, a close student of Shia politics, points out, "Moqtada al Sadr is going to be killed. That willl leave tens, hundreds of thousands of his supporters looking for a new leader. If Ahmed plays the role of victim, he can take on that role. His dream has always been to be a sectarian Shia leader."

Chalabi's ability to get control of so many files of the old Saddam Hussein regime does not reflect well on the Bush Administration.

His prescient seizure of Saddam's intelligence files a year ago has equipped him with a useful tool to intimidate opponents

I first became aware of this while reading about the investigation of the UN oil for food program from the Saddam days. The reports relayed claims that Chalabi is holding back the files that are the basis of his claim of large scale corruption in the UN administration of the program. The immediate question comes up: Why didn't the US military and the CIA grab all these files when they first entered Baghdad? Why wouldn't the US want all the regime files for intelligence purposes? Did Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith all sign off on Chalabi's INC getting control of these files? I'd ask whether they are that foolish but there is already ample evidence to answer that question in the affirmative. Chalabi appears to be more clever and worldly wise than his neocon supporters.

The raids on the INC and Chalabi's residence may have been motivated in part to get the UN oil-for-food documents that he was believed to possess.

Many of the documents alleging bribes in the program were believed to be under Ahmed Chalabi's control.

Even as Chalabi has been trumpeting the perfidy of UN officials involved in the oil-for-food-program Chalabi may have been holding back information about them from the public domain in order to blackmail those UN officials.

A U.S. defense official in Washington told The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity that the raid resulted from suspicions that Mr. Chalabi was blackmailing people involved in the disbanded U.N. oil-for-food program, the subject of several graft investigations.

"The investigation centers on suspicions that Chalabi was extorting money from Iraqis who have been implicated" in the scandal, the official said.

But the New York Post argues that the US State Department wants to block the oil-for-food investigation.

Of course, it's no secret that powerful elements in the State Department have actively opposed efforts to investigate the U.N. Oil for Food scandal.

And it may be that the Bush administration itself wants to go easy on the U.N., and Secretary General Kofi Annan, now that it is seeking to have the U.N. help shape a new Iraqi government.

Robin Gedye of the Daily Telegraph says the US raids to get the documents may have been motivated by a desire to save friendly foreign governments from embarrassment.

Ahmad Chalabi is in possession of "miles" of documents with the potential to expose politicians, corporations and the United Nations as having connived in a system of kickbacks and false pricing worth billions of pounds.

That may have been enough to provoke yesterday's American raid. So explosive are the contents of the files that their publication would cause serious problems for US allies and friendly states around the globe.

It may well be the case that Chalabi is using UN food-for-oil files to blackmail people and the US government is trying to save some governments from embarrassing disclosures. There are certainly non-democratic but friendly governments (hint: what is located East of the West Bank?) that the US would try very hard to protect from revelations that could be destabilising.

If Chalabi is smart he has taken some documents that are highly damanging to US allies and he's set it up so that the documents only get released if Chalabi is killed or held for some brutal interrogations. Chalabi needs that kind of insurance at this point because he has a really long and growing list of powerful enemies including one especially powerful one: George W. Bush.

Update: On this topic Laura Rozen has a lot of great information at her War And Peace blog. Read about "Curveball" the INC agent who fed false information to German intelligence about Iraqi WMD efforts. Also read about the fight to control the US-funded INC intelligence agency called the Information Collection Program. Props to Steve Sailer for pointing out Rozen's blog.

Everything about Chalabi's past activities, WMD misinformation, the Iran connection, and the battle between the neocons and other factions in the US is the biggest story happening right now. Read all about it. It is incredibly important.

Update II: Evan Thomas and Mark Hosenball report for Newsweek that the White House bypassed the Pentagon in allowing the raids against Chalabi.

May 31 issue - For the hard-liners at the Defense Department, the raid came as a surprise. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his senior deputies, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, got the news from the media. When Iraqi police, guarded by American GIs, burst into the home and offices of Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, looking for evidence of kidnapping, embezzlement, torture and theft, the men who run the Pentagon were left asking some uncomfortable questions. "Who signed off on this raid?" wondered one very high-ranking official. "What were U.S. soldiers doing there?" asked another, according to a source who was present in the room.


Though Bremer was picked for his Baghdad job by Rumsfeld, he has fallen out with the Pentagon and now speaks more regularly to Rice and her staff at the White House. The uniformed military is in almost open revolt against its civilian masters in the offices of Wolfowitz and Feith. The troops resent the Bush administration hard-liners as dangerously ideological.

Are the neocons way far out of the loop? Could Dubya be feeling some serious anger at them for leading him down the Chalabi Iraq path? There has to be a point where Dubya figures out he's been very poorly served by some of his advisers. Though he's also been very poorly served by himself he still wants to get reelected and he certainly does have good reason to be mad at the neoconservatives in his Administration.

Update III: Time reports signs that the break with Chalabi represents a much larger shift in American policy.

It may still take months for the U.S. to sort out just how much damage its flirtation with Chalabi has wrought. Bush Administration officials argue that their willingness to cut Chalabi loose shows that the U.S. is learning from the faulty assumptions that have plagued the occupation for more than a year. That's a point that Bush plans to stress in a series of speeches he will begin to deliver this week in an effort to prepare the country for June 30.

A willingness to accept that there are a lot of mistakes to learn from would represent a step in the right direction. Bush may feel a need to publically shift away from policies originally advocated by the neocons because the neocon policies are now so widely criticised and because the public at large has very serious doubts about the wisdom of the whole Iraq project. If an abandonment of neocon policies comes to be seen as a political necessity for Bush's reelection campaign then a lot of alternative policies and approaches which heretofore were beyond the pale may now be within the realm of the possible.

My guess is that Bush is going to try to engineer a rapprochement between the Shias and Sunnis so that Baathist intelligence and military figures can be used to run down the insurgents. Whether prominent Shia figures such as Sistani will sign off on such a deal remains to be seen. But the establishment Shia clerics have got to seriously fear the young Shia hotheads as well as some of the Sunni groups who try to kill them. Perhaps a deal can be made if it includes US guarantees that the US will keep the Sunnis from staging a coup and taking over entirely.

Update IV: On the whole subject of what is going on in George W. Bush's mind at this point Steve Sailer comments:

As you may have noticed, I'm not the biggest fan of Mr. Bush's leadership. But, he's finally waking up to how he got snookered. And I sure as hell trust my President in this dispute more than I trust the convicted Iraqi conman who is known throughout the bazaars of the Fertile Crescent as "Ahmed-the-Thief." I am astonished at the number of neocons who have, in the crisis, decided to turn against their President and side with Ahmed Chalabi.

Steve is responding in part to this quote of what Bush is reported to have told King Abdullah of Jordan:

"To King Abdullah of Jordan, Mr Bush remarked: 'You can piss on Chalabi.'"

Are the neocons going to continue to side with Bush? Some will. But some may not. See what Laurie Mylorie has to say about the raid on Chalabi. Or check out Michael Rubin on Chalabi. As the permanence and depth of the split between the Bush Administration and the INC sinks in some of the neocons who had placed huge hopes in Chalabi are going to find themselves unable to abandon their belief in the rightness of their judgement. So I expect many of those who decide to hold firmly to their faith in Chalabi will become more critical of Bush. The only thing that would shake that faith would be publically presented evidence of Chalabi's passing of vital secrets to Iran. But much of that investigation will probably be kept pretty secret unless and until prosecutions are filed against American citizens over what is found.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 23 03:17 AM  Mideast Iraq
Entry Permalink | Comments(5)
2004 May 22 Saturday
Did Iran Trick The Bush Administration About Iraq's WMD?

Knut Royce of Newsday reports that the Defense Intelligence Agency believes the Iraqi National Congress (INC) headed Ahmed Chalabi has been used as a tool to fool US intelligence about Iraq and to collect information about US activities. (same article here)

"Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Program information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein," said an intelligence source Friday who was briefed on the Defense Intelligence Agency's conclusions, which were based on a review of thousands of internal documents.


Patrick Lang, former director of the intelligence agency's Middle East branch, said he had been told by colleagues in the intelligence community that Chalabi's U.S.-funded program to provide information about weapons of mass destruction and insurgents was effectively an Iranian intelligence operation. "They [the Iranians] knew exactly what we were up to," he said.

He described it as "one of the most sophisticated and successful intelligence operations in history."

"I'm a spook. I appreciate good work. This was good work," he said.

Kurdish INC officlal Aras Karim (aka Aras Habib) is suspected of being a spy for Iran.

The inquiries are focusing on allegations of corruption, kidnapping and robbery, and on a U.S. suspicion that one of Chalabi's closest advisers is a paid agent of the Iranian intelligence service, according to U.S., INC and Iraqi police officials. The adviser, Aras Habib, has a long working relationship with the Defense Intelligence Agency and is now a fugitive.

Karim/Habib is (perhaps about to become "was") Chalabi's chief of security.

Two U.S. officials said that evidence suggests that Arras Habib, Chalabi's security chief, is a longtime agent of Iran's intelligence service, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, or MOIS.

A group of INC officials are alleged to have been going around Baghdad kidnapping people.

Andrew Cockburn reports that as early as 1995 the International Atomic Energy Agency found a document that appeared to be an Iranian forgery to make it look like the Iraqis were developing a nuclear bomb.

The document was almost faultless, but not quite. The scientists noticed that some of the technical descriptions used terms that would only be used by an Iranian. "Most notable," says one scientist, "was the use of the term 'dome'--'Qubba' in Iranian, instead of 'hemisphere'--'Nisuf Kura' in Arabic." In other words, the document had to have been originally written in Farsi by an Iranian scientist and then translated into Arabic.

Tom Killeen, of the Iraq Nuclear Verification Office at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, confirms this account of the incident. "After a thorough investigation the documents were determined not to be authentic and the matter was closed."

Asked how the IAEA obtained the document in the first place, Killeen replied "Khidir Hamza." Hamza was the former member of the Iraqi weapons team who briefly headed the bomb design group before being relegated to a sinecure posting (his effectiveness as a nuclear engineer was limited by his pathological fear of radioactivity and consequent refusal to enter any building where experiments were underway.) In 1994 he made his way to Ahmed Chalabi's headquarters in Iraqi Kurdistan, and eventually arrived in Washington. where he carved out a career based on an imaginative claim to have been "Saddam's Bombmaker."

As late as the summer of 2002 Hamza was being escorted by Chalabi's Washington representative Francis Brooke to the Pentagon to brief Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz on details of Saddam's allegedly burgeoning nuclear weapons program.

The secrets that Iran learned were known by very few in Washington DC.

U.S. intelligence officials on Friday said Ahmed Chalabi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council with ties to senior Pentagon officials, gave intelligence secrets to Iran so closely held in the U.S. government that only "a handful" of senior officials know them.

Did the US official that gave Chalabi the information that he gave to the Iranians break national security laws by providing that information? Should, say, Wolfowitz or Feith be prosecuted for this?

The New York Post is reporting that King Abdullah of Jordan recently provided key information that Chalabi was extorting money Baathists to allow them to avoid arrest or to be eligible for jobs that were supposed to be off-limits to Baathists.

King Abdullah's dossier provided critical confirmation of U.S intelligence gathered elsewhere that the INC was playing a double game with Ba'athists and that Chalabi and his security chief were passing sensitive information to Iran.

It looks like the United States was played by Iran to go after Saddam Hussein's regime. The Bush Administration's professed main reason for invading Iraq was Iraq's programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. But the most dangerous WMDs at this point in time are nuclear weapons and it seemed obvious before the war that Iran had (and still has) a bigger effort to develop nuclear weapons. After all, Iran had very visible nuclear facilities under construction and more money and a larger population to support a nuclear program.

At this point the Bush Administration is rather like the boy who cried wolf. Who is going to believe the Bushies about Iran as a threat? The Bush Administration underestimated and didn't prepare for post-war occupation of Iraq, was incredibly naive about the obstacles in the way of building a democracy, and all the WMD news and the post-war events in Iraq have seriously undermined the US government's ability to stop Iran's or North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. The US has spent more than $100 billion on Iraq and the amount is still rising with estimates of total cost running between $300 billion and $450 billion.

If these reports about Iran fooling the United States come to be widely believed what is the political fall-out?

Even as the revelations about Chalabi and other INC officlals continue to pile up we can still find an assortment of neoconservatives defending Chalabi. See, for example, recent Chalabi defenses (and implicitly defenses of themselves for their long term support of Chalabi) by Kenneth Timmerman and Michael Rubin, Michael Ledeen, Frank Gaffney, and David Frum. For a excellent critical analysis of another recent Frum article defending Chalabi see Noah Millman's dissection of Frum on Chalabi. In retrospect I really didn't pay enough attention either to Chalabi or to the top neocons such as Feith and Perle. I naively thought the US government foreign policy couldn't be under control of a bunch of ideologues and expected that Bush would have appointed people to the Defense Department who were more empirical and practical.

At this point the neocons are arguing that their critics are making too much of the leaks and speculation about INC links to Iran. But the major neocons active in Washington policy circles now suffer from serious credibility problems. The neocon judgements about Chalabi and the INC deserve the skeptical treatment they are receiving because so many other decisions made by neocon policy makers on Iraq both before and after the war were big mistakes. Many of the mistakes that might have been corrected were responded to with a recurring pattern of too little too late. These guys don't just make mistakes. They resist learning from their mistakes when the lessons would require them to abandon their incorrect models of the world. These guys are hopeless. The Bush Administration needs a housecleaning of its foreign policy apparatus. Most of Bush's major foreign policy figures should be replaced.

After pointing that confirmation of this report will be extremely humiliating to the US in the eyes of the world Steve Sailer asks two questions about these revelations:

First question: If the spin doesn't work, legally speaking, how does the Republican Party dump Bush? The primaries are all over and he won almost all the delegates. Can the delegates legally rebel at the GOP Convention or are they bound by law to vote for the Chump-in-Chief?

Second question: Who should replace Bush on the GOP ticket? The Cabinet is discredited, even Powell. For instant name recognition, the obvious choice would be Ah-nold, but he ain't eligible.

There's an added twist here: We can tell the Europeans and Arabs that they should be more mad at Iran than at the United States for the invasion of Iraq. We can't help we are a bunch of country hick rubes.

On the subject of who is to blame for what has gone wrong in Iraq: If Iran tricked the United States then why didn't the French intelligence agency figure it out in advance? The French or Russians could have stopped the war by digging up the intelligence in Iran that would show that was really happening. This whole affair demonstrates the need for absolutely great intelligence. The CIA didn't catch this one either. It is finally time for George Tenet to resign too?

Update: There are more twists and turns to this story than we can hope to get our minds around. Knut Royce says a Guantanamo prisoner provided information implicating Aras Karim Habib as an Iranian agent.

A U.S. intelligence source said that information about Karim's activities came in part from a detainee at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters are being held.

But of course those people at Guantanamo are Taliban and Ql Qaeda. So what does that say about the connections between those groups and Iran as well?

A November 24, 2003 profile of Chalabi by Sally Quinn in the Washington Post shows the depth of the divisions in Washington DC over Chalabi. It is worth reading in full.

"He's a patriot who has the best interests of his country at heart," says Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

"He's a fake, one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated on the American people," says Pat Lang, the man who headed counterterrorism in the Middle East and South Asia for eight years at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

"He's a class act," says former CIA director Jim Woolsey.

"He is exasperating, frustrating and not a team player," says Whitley Bruner, a former CIA agent who worked with Chalabi in London.

"Unlike so many Iraqi oppositionists, he actually does what he says he's going to do," says Ken Pollack, research director at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

"If we pulled out he wouldn't last two hours," says former CIA agent Bob Baer. "He's like Rockefeller. He couldn't be president. He's a rich boy."

A July 23 2000 piece by Andrew Cockburn (see my previous link to another Cockburn piece above) about James Woolsey shows Woolsey was defending Aras Karim's brother Ali Karim and found out in a court case then that Aras Karim was already suspected by the CIA in the 1990s of being an Iranian agent.

There was one more surprise in store. For two years, Woolsey had been eloquent in denouncing the "blithering incompetence" of the I.N.S., which behaved "as if it were plucked from Pinochet's Chile." Now, in cross-examination by Woolsey and his fellow counsel, it emerged that all along, in the background, the C.I.A. had been pulling the strings. F.B.I. agents testified that Ali had been targeted because his cousin, Aras, the resistance commander in northern Iraq, was deemed by the C.I.A. to be on the Iranian payroll. Former colleagues of Aras's, including his leader, Ahmad Chalabi, and Warren Marik, a former agency case officer who had worked closely with him, testified eloquently and convincingly that the charges were groundless. So what was really going on here?

Woolsey had his suspicions. Operating in northern Iraq, Aras was known to have seriously irritated a senior C.I.A. official who resented Aras's and Chalabi's disinclination to follow orders. It was indeed possible, Woolsey speculated, that Ali had simply been the victim of a private C.I.A. "jihad" against his cousin and ended up spending three years in jail. "Jim has always operated at the top level," says Bill Butler, a fellow Washington lawyer and Woolsey's close friend and next-door neighbor. "It's educational for someone like him to see what happens at the bottom."

The use of the term "Jihad" is spin that ignores the possibility of a more Machiavellian motive on the part of the CIA. Sounds like the CIA might have been trying to use the threat of extradition of Ali Karim as a tool for leverage against Aras Karim.

Josh Marshall reports that already in 1998 Aras Karim Habib was suspected by the FBI to be an Iranian spy.

We've been discussing for some time that Chalabi's connections to the Iranians and his flow of money from the Iranians has been known about among Chalabi's Washington supporters for years. But suspicions that Aras Karim was an Iranian agent are not new either.

Take this October 13th, 1998 New York Times article, which says that "An F.B.I. report said Mr. Karim's cousin Aras Habib Muhamad Al-Ufayli, who had been the intelligence chief for the Iraqi National Congress, had a 'well-documented connection to Iranian intelligence.'"

Chalabi may benefit by being seen as an enemy of the United States.

By the time of the raid, Chalabi was already engaged in open political warfare with the Bush administration.

On Thursday he took that war a step further, declaring that now that the United States had liberated Iraq, it was time to get out of the way.

"My message . . . is let my people go, let my people be free,'' he said, clearly angry that his bedroom had been invaded, his computers and papers confiscated. "We are grateful to President Bush for liberating Iraq, but it is time for the Iraqi people to run their affairs,'' he said.

In order to remain a player in Iraq Chalabi had to distance himself from the United States anyhow. So this turning on the United States was predictable. Expect similar attempts by other major Iraqi figures to put distance between themselves and the United States as they all try to pose as ardent nationalsts (or ardent defenders of their sects).

Chalabi advisor Francis Brooke says the INC knew about the raid in advance and says it has helped the INC in Iraq.

One of Chalabi's advisers said Friday that INC officials received advance notice of U.S. plans to search the INC intelligence building and removed their computers weeks ago. The adviser, Francis Brooke, said "nothing of any intelligence value" was recovered in the raids.


But Brooke said the fallout has had political benefits, particularly in galvanizing council support for Chalabi.

Of course Chalabi wants to distance himself from the United States. He wants to portray himself as an Iraqi nationalist. It still seems unlikely he will succeed, what with INC members apparently running a kidnapping ring for profit and corruption charges being levelled at INC leaders he's not exactly as popular among Iraqis as he is among neoconservatives.

Leaders of Jewish political groups have apparently been arguing with each other for years over whether Chalabi could deliver friendlier Iraqi relations with Israel.

Some also worry that Chalabi's good words won't translate into a pro- Israel foreign policy. Pressure to garner support from inside Iraq and the rest of the Arab world could force the INC to abandon its pro-Israel position.

In addition, the Bush administration's appointment of a military leader and encouragement of a dissident group with ties to Israel has played into conspiracy theories in the Arab world that the United States went to war in Iraq for Israel's benefit — perhaps constraining the next Iraqi government's latitude to approach Israel.

"It's far too early to even speculate where any of them will be and what their positions will be," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "It never works out the way people think it is going to work out."

Neoconsevative hopes that a regime change in Iraq would produce a government friendly to Israel were always naive and never had a chance of succeeding. Any new government in Iraq is going to need to prove itself to the populace as a nationalistic government which is not a puppet of the United States or Israel. Therefore such a government will not be able to afford to take a foreign policy position that is out of sync with general Arab sentiments against Israel. Chalabi conned the neocons. Iran, Chalabi, and the neocons conned the American people. That's a bitter pill to swallow. But we can begin to limit the extent of the damage if we accept what happened.

Update II: The neocons who believed Chalabi as leader of Iraq would want to make peace with Israel are naive not just because of the sentiments of the masses in Iraq but also because of the likely motives of Chalabi himself. Why would Chalabi personally want to make peace with Israel? What would have been in it for him to even attach much importance to that as a goal? The neocon expectations about him seem ridiculous on so many levels. Why would any ardent Iraqi nationalist who rises to power in Iraq see any reason to make peace with Israel? Also, why would an extremely ambitious Iraqi living in exile desperate for backing from powerful Americans be expected to be honest in his pursuit of that influence? The neocons are so parochial with their interest in Israel that they have a real problem understanding people who have radically different sets of priorities.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 22 03:20 AM  Mideast Iraq
Entry Permalink | Comments(8)
2004 May 21 Friday
AgJobs Immigration Amnesty Threat Grows

Criticism of the AgJobs immigration amnesty legislation is coming from what is (at least to me) an unexpected quarter. The distinctly neoconservative Center For Security Policy whose President is Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., has a very criticial piece up on their site in strong opposition to the Agricultural Job, Opportunity, Benefits and Security Act (AgJOBS) immigration amnesty bill.

Unfortunately for Mr. Bush, one of his most loyal friends in the U.S. Senate, GOP conservative Larry Craig of Idaho, is poised to saddle the President’s reelection bid with just such a divisive initiative: S.1645, the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act of 2003 (better known as the AgJobs bill).

AgJobs is, in some ways, even worse than the President’s plan for temporary workers. While most experts disagree, at least Mr. Bush insists that his initiative will not amount to amnesty for illegal aliens.

No such demurral is possible about S.1645. By the legislation’s own terms, an illegal alien will be turned into "an alien lawfully admitted for temporary residence," provided they had managed to work unlawfully in an agricultural job in the United States for a minimum of 100 hours - in other words, for just two-and-a-half work weeks - during the 18 months prior to August 31, 2003.

Once so transformed, they can stay in the U.S. indefinitely while applying for permanent resident status. From there, it is a matter of time before they can become citizens, so long as they work in the agricultural sector for 675 hours over the next six years.

While the article above is unsigned a very similar article by Gaffney followed in the Washington Times. It is unusual to see a major neoconservative figure taking a position against immigration amnesty. When Bush announced his own immigration amnesty plan one could see the split running through the Republican Party where most neoconservatives defended it while at the same time most conventional conservatives attacked it.

While Gaffney is obviously (and rightly) concerned that support for AgJobs coming from Republican Senators could alienate the Republican voters from the whole Republican ticket (and why shouldn't the traitors to America's best interest all lose as a necessary punishment for these idiots?) he also even thinks that Bush's own proposal is a bad idea. So is Gaffney really against a loose immigration policy? Or is he just concerned tha the Republican Party is going to split on this issue? Has anyone come across any previous writings by Gaffney that suggest this is the case?

Almost half the Republicans in the US Senate are public supporters of AgJobs.

Backers of the bill believe that they may soon gain more co-sponsors to join the 35 Democratic and 25 Republican backers.

“There are a lot of people who have told us, ‘I’m not a co-sponsor, but you do have my vote,’” said Craig Regelbrugge, co-chairman of the Agriculture Coalition on Immigration Reform, a group of trade associations representing farmers and other agriculture employers. Agriculture employers are stepping up their efforts with senators from the Midwest, said a Senate aide.

Craig and Kennedy are eager to move the bill and have held discussions with Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) about how best to proceed. Hatch is a co-sponsor of the bill.

The mind boggles. The Republicans in the US Senate are obviously oblivious to the desires of the majority of the American public on immigration. Even after the hostile reception for Bush's unpopular idiotic amnesty (really, my rhetoric is not excessive when Bush' proposal is analyzed rationally) the Senators are doing what they can to defy the wishes of the public.

The AgJobs requirements for amnesty are incredibly low.

The AgJOBS bill they push would create a two-step amnesty for some 1.7 million illegal immigrants who do farm work part-year, their spouses and children. Aliens would do as little as 75 days a year of farm work, as little as one hour per day, on a temporary visa good for up to six years.

Formerly illegal aliens and family members would then receive a green card and then possibly citizenship. You can bet legalized aliens will leave farms as soon as possible. That guarantees a continuing flow of illegal aliens to depress agricultural wages.

From ProjectUSA's list of points about AgJobs:

Administrative responsibilities for "establishing" work history given to transnational racial-identity origanizations and those who profit from the system

Restrictions on economic migration waived.

Impact on American wages no ground for removing aliens

The bill would prohibit the prosecution of illegal aliens committing Social Security fraud

There is a ray of hope about AgJobs and it is coming from Utah. One of the sponsors for the House version of AgJobs is Republican Congressman Chris Cannon of Utah. ProjectUSA paid $2000 for billboard ads in Idaho stating Congressman Chris Cannon wants amnesty for illegal aliens which so helped challenger Matt Throckmorton that Cannon now has to face Throckmorton in a primary run-off.

On Saturday, May 8, at the Utah Republican Party convention, Matt Throckmorton forced a primary run-off against four-term incumbent U.S. Congressman Chris Cannon.

The June 22 showdown may mark the end for Cannon—one of the most notorious open borders advocates in post-1965 American immigration politics.

Cannon, needing 60% of the delegates for automatic re-nomination, was stopped cold by an aggressive Throckmorton, who forced immigration into the forefront. And no matter how he tried, Cannon could not dodge the issue.

Craig Nelsen of ProjectUSA says the Throckmorton primary challenge with immigration as a key issue has already been heard in Washington DC as he discovered when talking to a Hill staffer.

While discussing the obstacles on Capitol Hill facing good legislation, the staffer said that many members of Congress feel the political downside they face for supporting bad legislation isn't severe enough yet to counter the influence of the special interest lobbyists.

Then she added, to my surprise, "Except for that whole thing with Cannon out in Utah. (I should point out that this staffer was unaware of the connection between me, ProjectUSA, and our work in Utah).

At face value, her comment means that the severe setback that hopeless underdog Matt Throckmorton handed invulnerable incumbent Chris Cannon by forcing him into a primary on $11,000 has been noticed where it counts. And noticed, too, is the fact that Cannon's awful immigration voting record was the cause of his embarrassing failure.

If Throckmorton defeats Cannon in a primary challenge then Congress Critters will begin to worry more about what their own constituents think about immigration. Nothing less than a rising anger on the part of the American public will shift positions of politicians on immigration.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 21 05:32 PM  Immigration Policy
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2004 May 20 Thursday
Will Female Shortage In China Bring Down North Korean Regime?

Chinese men are buying North Korean women as wives.

But it's easy for Chinese, including smugglers and human traffickers, to cross illegally into North Korea, they say, and this props up a thriving black-market border trade that helps keep the barren North Korean economy afloat.

Dandong natives such as laid-off factory worker Lao Zhou, whose picturesque home town draws tourists eager to spy on North Korea with telescopes, shake their heads when they talk about refugees.

"North Korean women make good wives. They are beautiful and hard-working," he said, echoing an oft-repeated view. "It doesn't cost much to buy a North Korean girl for a wife and just a few thousand kwai (hundreds of dollars) to get them a residency permit."

There is also a slave trade in prostitutes. The demand for prostitutes will likely rise right along with the demand for wives.

Consider the larger context for this report about wife buying and female sex trade. On my FuturePundit blog I've reported on the sex ratio imbalance in China caused by the selective abortion of females.

Li said the normal newborn sex proportion is 100:104-107, and if China's disproportionate figure is allowed to continue unchecked, there would be 30 to 40 million marriage-age men who would be single all their lives by 2020.

"Such serious gender disproportion poses a major threat to the healthy, harmonious and sustainable growth of the nation's population and would trigger such crimes and social problems as mercenary marriage, abduction of women and prostitution," Li said.

Some believe this sex ratio imbalance will make China militarily aggressive and they may be right.

In a new book, Bare Branches: Security Implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population (MIT Press), Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea M. den Boer warn that the spread of sex selection is giving rise to a generation of restless young men who will not find mates. History, biology, and sociology all suggest that these "surplus males" will generate high levels of crime and social disorder, the authors say. Even worse, they continue, is the possibility that the governments of India and China will build up huge armies in order to provide a safety valve for the young men's aggressive energies.

But consider a different possibility: Chinese men may buy so many North Korean wives that North Korea will either become militarily aggressive or collapse from within. This is not implausible. Those 30 to 40 million single men in China in the year 2020 mean there wil be 3 to 4 times more single men in China than there are women in North Korea. The Chinese will be more affluent than the North Koreans unless radical changes happen to North Korea's economy. North Korea is the place where Chinese men will have the best competitive advantage in angling for wives. The other East Asian countries are not nearly as poor as North Korea and North Korea shares a long 1,416 km land border with China.

China's economy is growing rapidly. Buying power of Chinese men is rising. Even poor Chinese farmers can afford to buy North Korean women.

Lee, the former clerk, said she was fooled into believing she would have a good life in China. "One day, a man from my home town came to see me. He was looking for good-looking women from North Korea to go to China. The prettier the better. I decided on the spot to go.

"Of course, he fooled me. He said he would introduce me to a good man, a university graduate, who was looking for a wife. Then I realized North Korean women were being sold at a cheap price to rural farmers in China."

The fact that even a rural farmer in China can afford to buy a North Korean wife means that there are far more people in China with the buying power to acquire a North Korean wife than there are North Korean women.

Expect the hostility of North Korean men toward China to increase.

Ryu remembers a woman six months pregnant arriving at the camp. The baby's father was Chinese. Four guards grabbed the woman's limbs and threw her toward the ceiling over and over until the woman aborted the fetus. Ryu helped clean up the blood afterwards. "The guards said they hated Chinese babies," says Ryu. "The North Koreans hate the Chinese now, because they are rich and betrayed socialism."

China has been cracking down on North Koreans trying to cross the border into China. But official corruption in China is sufficiently widespread that black market forces will probably prevail over official policy as a consequence of the rising buying power of single men desperate for wives.

Ms Kim was picked up a year after getting married and giving birth to a daughter. Her new family pleaded for her release, arguing that the baby needed her mother because she was still breastfeeding. Ms Kim says they paid a 10,000RMB bribe for her freedom. Three years later she is well established and has a residence permit.

Chinese men will pressure the Chinese government to allow North Korean women to pass into China. The Chinese government will see these women as a source of women to reduce the frustrations of single men who can not find Chinese wives. Chinese leaders are going to have to weigh the foreign policy and domestic policy consequences of their border policy with North Korea. If they continue to clamp down this may just encourage more corruption.

Chinese money is also going to flow to North Korean border guards and officials and corrupt them as well. This is already happening. So the North Korean guards are not all immune to the enticements of cash in exchange for looking the other way. As living standards rise in China and the female shortage worsens the amount of money available for smuggling women out of North Korea will rise.

The shortage of women in China may end up posing an existential threat to the Pyongyang regime more powerful than anything US policy makers are likely to do. North Korean leaders might react to this threat by engaging in market liberalization reforms aimed at raising North Korean living standards enough to reduce the level of desperation of North Korean women.

The regime in North Korea faces a more general economic threat from China because of rising wages in China. The higher the wages go the greater the incentive for Northeast China factory managers and other businesses to turn to the black market to supply cheap North Korean labor. This will pull both men and women out of North Korea. Will that destabilize the regime more or less than the selective removal of women from North Korea?

By Randall Parker 2004 May 20 12:15 PM  Korea
Entry Permalink | Comments(30)
2004 May 19 Wednesday
Assassination Underscores Security As Top Problem In Iraq

The slaying of Basra Shiite Governing Council member Izzedin Salim is yet another setback.

BAGHDAD, May 17 -- The president of the Iraqi Governing Council was killed in a suicide car bombing Monday as his motorcade waited to enter the headquarters of the U.S. occupation authority.

And is part of a larger pattern...

From Mosul in the north to Basra, insurgents have been systematically killing Iraqi translators, municipal politicians, tribal sheiks and political leaders working with the occupation authority. The effect has been to isolate the authority from most Iraqis and the intelligence they could provide against the rising insurgency.

But some Iraqis in a town west of Baghdad are very happy that Salim was killed.

RAMADI, Iraq, May 18 (IPS) - Motorists honked in celebration in this western Iraqi town as news spread of the assassination of the president of the Iraqi Governing Council Ezzidin Salim Monday.

Many people clapped, and raised their fists. "The GC is nothing," one man shouted. "They are not the Governing Council. They are the Prostitution Council."

Sfook, a storeowner in the city said: "They are not Iraqi! They weren't here suffering during Saddam's time like we were. They are only puppets of the Americans!"

Members of Iraq's Governing Council are afraid they will be next to die.

"If something is not done about this security situation, there will be no transfer of power," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the council.

Othman, who is generally pro-American, described the assassination as only the most extreme example of the lawlessness that has grown in the year since President Saddam Hussein was driven from power. "Never in Iraq has it been like this -- never, even under Saddam," he said. "People are killed, kidnapped and assaulted; children are taken away; women are raped. Nobody is afraid of any punishment."

Rajaa Habib Khuzai, a Shiite Muslim physician on the council, said, "The assassins gave a warning signal to every member of the Governing Council: We could be next."

Othman says that the US soldiers do not have the skills to do policing and that they are grabbing innocent people at random and sticking them in Abu Ghraib prison. Given that the US soldiers lack the Arabic language skills to even communicate with the populace they are trying to police (a problem I've previously described in June 2003 and in January 2004 and in February 2004 - see any signs of improvement? I don't) Othman's statement is not surprising. It was incredibly naive of the Bush Administration to think that the US Army wasn't going to require even more training to handle occupation than it received for invasion. Imagine (assuming you are not Finnish) your local police came from another country and all spoke Finnish and that most on patrol didn't even have a translator along with them. Imagine that some of your neighbors shot at the police. How good a job do you think your police would do?

Can the Iraqis build up police and intelligence forces that are going to be effective at tracking down the bombers and the assassins? If, as seems likely, the US military isn't going to be able to break into and take down the many groups that are launching attacks, then we are many months away from reaching the point where security can be established in Iraq. A British general says it will take a year to build up the Iraqi police.

British Major General Freddie Viggers, who served in Iraq as a deputy commander to US General Ricardo Sanchez, spoke to members of the House Armed Services Committee along with Major General Simon Willis, the head of the Australian Defence Staff, and Lieutenant General Mieczyslaw Cieniuch of Poland about their countries' operations in Iraq.


"I think we're off to a good start" in organising an Iraqi police, he said. "How much longer have we got to go ... I think there's another year's - probably year's worth of work."

Paul Wolfowitz acknowledges the gap between plan and reality.

"We had a plan that anticipated, I think, that we could proceed with an occupation regime for much longer than it turned out the Iraqis would have patience for. We had a plan that assumed we'd have basically more stable security conditions than we've encountered," Wolfowitz told the senators.

Some military officers fear the Bush Administraton's response to reality has involved too much embrace of expediency.

Some military officers are also concerned that Washington is now cutting back on its original goal of eliminating major flash points in Iraq before June 30. They say the United States has basically retreated in Fallujah, handing over control of the Sunni city to a former Iraqi general who is now commanding some of the very insurgents U.S. forces were fighting -- again, in the name of expediency.

One of the great hopes of the neoconservatives in the Bush Administration for acceptable post-war Iraq rule was Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress. Amidst allegations that the INC provided no useful intelligence and that much of what it provided was fabricated and false combined with Chalabi's obvious unpopularity in Iraq the Bush Administration has given up on its dream of Chalabi as the future ruler of Iraq.

The Iraqi National Congress was informed Friday that the $335,000 payment it has received monthly from the Defense Intelligence Agency would stop in June, they said.

The funding cutoff represents a major setback to some in the administration, who had hoped to position INC leader Ahmed Chalabi as head of a democratic Iraqi government that would sign a peace treaty with Israel, allow the United States to build permanent military bases in Iraq, and serve as a model for the rest of the Middle East.

We are more than a year past the initial invasion and reality is biting. The extremists are going to keep trying to kill anyone who cooperates with American forces. Potential leaders suitable to the US are going to be reluctant to step forward and become targets. The US can't develop a new Iraqi Army and police force fast enough and US forces aren't trained with the Arabic language and intelligence skills needed to fight an Arab insurgency. The Bush Administration needs to get ahead of the curve and admit to the severity of the problems with its position. If the Bushies would lower their expectations of what is achievable then they'd be more willing to consider options which become more appealing only once the big goals are admitted to be unattainable.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 19 02:46 PM  Mideast Iraq
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
2004 May 18 Tuesday
Illegal Alien Border Crossing Surge Seen As Terrorism Threat

Writing for the Los Angeles Times Scott Gold has written an excellent report on Border Patrol reports on the large surge of illegal immigrants from Mexico who are trying to reach the United States on the belief that Bush will push through an illegal alien amnesty. (free registration required)

Top Border Patrol officials point out that illegal immigration was increasing before Bush's announcement. Detentions rose 6.4% from January 2003 to January 2004. But as word of Bush's proposal and rumors of amnesty spread, apprehensions jumped rapidly — by 14.2% in February, 57.5% in March and 79.6% in April.

The Border Patrol concedes that it only captures a portion of those trying to enter the country illegally. That is particularly worrisome, agents wrote, when Islamic extremists are believed to be establishing a foothold in Latin America. Agents said they were so busy chasing down people who were trying to enter the United States in search of jobs that they could miss those trying to enter with sinister plans.

"Possible terrorist cell groups may exploit this high influx phenomenon," one agent wrote. "[O]ur immigration system may in fact become over burdened to the point that many individuals may fall through the cracks allowing subjects that may be affiliated with terrorist groups to enter the country without being identified, or stopped."

Let us leave aside the fact that Bush's immigration plan will not make the borders any less chaotic or any more lawful. The fact is that there is a huge surge happening across our southern border with Mexico and the United States government's response is totally inadequate. Surely Al Qaeda must have noticed by now that the US border with Mexico is poorly policed and that many Middle Easterners could sneak across it without even getting spotted by any Border Patrol agents.

Mark Krikorian has written an excellent essay for In The National Interest about the need for a more effective 3 layered approach to immigration control as a way to keep out terrorists. We need a tougher process for visa granting, more effective border control, and more effective interior enforcement of immigration law as he points out in his article Keeping Terror Out: Immigration Policy and Asymmetric Warfare.

There were also failures between the ports of entry. Abdelghani Meskini and Abdel Hakim Tizegha, both part of the Millennium Plot that included Ahmed Ressam, first entered the country as stowaways on ships that docked at U.S. ports. Tizegha later moved to Canada and then returned to the United States by sneaking across the land border. And of course, Abu Mezer, though successfully apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol, was later released.


But despite these and other improvements in the mechanics of border management, the same underlying problem exists here as in the visa process: lack of political seriousness about the security importance of immigration control. The Coast Guard, for instance, still considers the interdiction of illegal aliens a “nonsecurity” mission. More importantly, pressure to expedite entry at the expense of security persists; a dhs memo leaked in January outlined how the US-VISIT system would be suspended if lines at airports grew too long. And, to avoid complaints from businesses in Detroit, Buffalo, and elsewhere, most Canadian visitors have been exempted from the requirements of the US-VISIT system.

Also, there is continued resistance to using the military to back up the Border Patrol—resistance that predates the concern for overstretch caused by the occupation of Iraq. But controlling the Mexican border, apart from the other benefits it would produce, is an important security objective; at least two major rings have been uncovered which smuggled Middle Easterners into the United States via Mexico, with help from corrupt Mexican government employees. At least one terrorist has entered this way: Mahmoud Kourani, brother of Hizbollah’s chief of military security in southern Lebanon, described in a federal indictment as “a member, fighter, recruiter and fund-raiser for Hizballah.”


Inadequacies in the first element of interior enforcement have clearly helped terrorists in the past. Because there is no way of determining which visitors have overstayed their visas, much less a mechanism for apprehending them, this has been a common means of remaining in the United States—of the 12 (out of 48) Al-Qaeda operatives who were illegal aliens when they took part in terrorism, seven were visa overstayers.

Among terrorists who were actually detained for one reason or another, several were released to go about their business inside America because of inadequate detention space. This lack of space means that most aliens in deportation proceedings are not detained, so that when ordered deported, they receive what is commonly known as a “run letter” instructing them to appear for deportation—and 94 percent of aliens from terrorist-sponsoring states disappear instead.

Lack of coordination between state and local police and federal immigration authorities is another major shortcoming. In the normal course of their work, police frequently encounter aliens. For instance, Mohammed Atta was ticketed in Broward County, Florida, in the spring of 2001 for driving without a license. But the officer had no mechanism to inform him that Atta had overstayed his visa during his prior trip to the United States. Although not an overstayer, another hijacker, Ziad Samir Jarrah, was issued a speeding ticket in Maryland just two days before 9/11, proving that even the most effective terrorists have run afoul of the law before launching their attacks.

Robert S. Leiken of the Nixon Center has also just weighed in on the issue of immigration and terrorism with his report Bearers of Global Jihad? Immigration and National Security after 9/11 (PDF format).

Immigration and terrorism are linked; not because all immigrants are terrorists but because all, or nearly all, terrorists in the West have been immigrants (we define immigration in its broad usage as signifying visitors and sojourners as well as settlers- see chapter I). In Western countries jihadism has taken root mainly thanks to Muslim immigration. As Rohan Gunaratna, a leading international authority on al Qaeda, told us: “All major terrorist attacks conducted in the last decade in North America and Western Europe, with the exception of Oklahoma City, have utilized migrants” (see chapter I).

The events of September 11 served notice how obsolete the Cold War delimitation of a zone of stability (North America and Western Europe) and an “arc of conflict” (from North Africa to South Asia) had become. The conflicts of the Third World have come home to roost in a way unparalleled in previous periods of colonialism and cold war, of nationalism and communism. Western governments now must take into account the export of violence via migration. Al Qaeda and its affiliates depend on immigration to gain entry to the West in order to carry out terrorist plots. The transnational and asymmetric character of these new conflicts demands coordination of national and homeland security with immigration and foreign policies. Al Qaeda’s immigration strategy

Whereas the West tends to view immigration from an economic standpoint, al Qaeda inc. sees it from a strategic perspective. By al Qaeda inc. we mean groups affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda (see chapter III). Our survey of 212 suspected and convicted terrorists implicated in North America and Western Europe since the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 through December 2003 found that 86% were Muslim immigrants, the remainder being mainly converts (8%) and African American Muslims. Analysis of that survey shows that al Qaeda inc. utilizes every immigration category to infiltrate Western countries and the U.S. in particular. Visitor's visas, asylum claims, family reunification, and green cards head our list of 212 suspected or convicted terrorists. Those entering with fraudulent documents are next in line. Terrorists stealing across the Mexican border come last, virtually nil. The Canadian border is more expedient for jihadis thanks to Islamic support networks fostered by indulgent Canadian asylum policies. And terrorists like the shoe bomber Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui came from “visa waiver” countries (countries which do not require a visa for travel to the U.S., such as the E.U. countries). Moreover, especially in Western Europe but also in Lackawanna, N.Y. terrorists were citizens, immigrants of the second generation.

Note that since 9/11 the United States has made visas harder to get and legal immigration methods have become harder for terrorists to use.It seems reasonable to expect terrorists to respond by pursuing illegal border crossings as some have already done. If terrorists are denied visas then sneaking in illegally is the obvious next option available to pursue. Whether illegal entry is done by crossing the border from Mexico or Canada, by jumping off of ships in ports, or via some other method will depend on opportunities that may present themselves. My own prediction is that regardless of how the illegal entries are made we will see a growing portion of future terrorists entering the country surreptitiously.

Leiken argues that immigration control must be used as a defense against terrorists because intelligence and other operations abroad are not sufficient to eliminate the threat.

Intelligence is the nerve system of an effective counterterrorist immigration policy. However, procuring timely, usable intelligence on al Qaeda inc. has proved exceedingly difficult. This human intelligence gap may take years to fill, especially if al Qaeda inc. remains an array of networks. Meanwhile there is a pressing need to continue to detain terrorists abroad (as well as here) for they have proved our best source of information, for liaison with foreign intelligence agencies (encouraging their efficiency and commitment to anti-terrorism), to train our own Arabists and other linguists, to modernize human intelligence and to inculcate relations with our own domestic Muslim communities.

But if intelligence is not a silver bullet and if the “needle” resists discovery, would we be better off trying to trim the “haystack?” The reputation of the INS as the archetypal, blundering, antiquated bureaucracy was well deserved. Now that it has been folded into the embryonic, inchoate DHS and charged with new tasks, we can be forgiven for doubting whether its administrative capacity has improved. Indeed, institutional capacity represents a serious deficiency from intelligence right through immigration (CIA, FBI, DHS). If we choose to maintain our current immigration levels, we shall have to increase administrative resources. The kind of scrutiny that national security now demands of immigration cannot be accomplished with the current correlation of officials and immigrants. Either more government or fewer immigrants.

Improvements in immigration policy to address the terrorist threat have been stymied by all the interest groups in favor of large scale immigration. Our inadequate response to this threat is going to come back to bite us in the form of additional terrorist attacks launched on American soil. While many advocates of mass immigration argue to the contrary immigration law really could be enforced if only the political will existed to do so. Immigration policy is national security policy. It is time that our elites woke up to that fact.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 18 01:12 PM  Immigration Terrorism
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
2004 May 17 Monday
Bush Administrations Wants Immigrants To Send More Money Home

Immigrants are sending a lot of money home.

In tiny ethnic groceries and check-cashing shops, immigrants in the Washington area line up every day to send $200 or $300 to families back home. Now, a detailed study has concluded those payments add up to more than a billion dollars a year that goes to Latin America from workers in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

The massive flows are part of an estimated $30 billion annually that Latin American immigrants in the United States convey to their home countries, according to the study, to be released today by the Inter-American Development Bank.

California is the biggest source of remittances.

California ($9.6 billion), New York ($3.6 billion), Texas ($3.2 billion) and Florida ($2.5 billion) lead the ranking, but Georgia ($947 million), North Carolina ($833 million) and Virginia ($586 million) are among the top 10 states.

During the past decade, industries such as poultry processing, meatpacking, hotels, restaurants and construction attracted Latin American migrants to these non-border states and others in the Midwest. As a result, remittances from the Mid-Atlantic region (Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia) are over $1 billion a year, largely to countries in Central America and Mexico.

On average, Latin American immigrants send money home once a month, typically in amounts ranging from $150 to $250. Unlike previous surveys among remittance senders, this one found a great number of people who make money transfers more than once a month, probably a reflection of the fact that services have become cheaper over the past few years.

This $30 billion estimate does not include money sent home by immigrants from Haiti, English speaking Caribbean countries, or immigrants from other parts of the world.

Nearly eight in 10 remittances senders use money transfer companies. Others use informal couriers known viajeros, banks and credit union or mail. Only half the Latin American immigrants have bank accounts.

According to the responses, 24 percent of the interviewed were U.S. citizens, 39 percent were legal residents and 32 percent are undocumented. The survey was based on 3,802 interviews conducted between January and April. The states and the district covered in this survey represent more than 99 percent of the population of Latin American-born adults in the United States. It did not include Haitians and immigrants from the English-speaking Caribbean.

Poor immigrants cost middle and upper class taxpayers more than the immigrants pay in taxes. Therefore Americans who pay a lot of taxes are subsidizing the transfer of money abroad. This money transfer makes the already large US trade deficit even worse. The money these legal and illegal immigrants send abroad is money that is not used to buy goods and services locally. The immigrants also drive down the wages of Americans and therefore also decrease the taxes paid and increase the demand for social services by the native poor. Immigration is causing a shrinking of the size of the middle class in states which are receiving the most number of immigrants. This could all be avoided since immigration law really could be enforced if only our elites were not so opposed to the will of the majority on immigration.

Of course we can not expect the United States government to be bothered about money flowing out of the country in a way that involves an appreciation of American interests. Deputy Treasury Secretary Samuel Bodman wants to make it easier for leagl and illegal immigrants in America to send money back home.

"The goal here is two-fold: first to increase overall awareness of the range of services that are available; and secondly, to foster more competition, which in turn will result in affordable and accessible remittance services," Bodman said. He also re-stated the United States' support for the goal of cutting the average remittance cost by half in the Americas region by 2008.

The Bush Administration views remittances as a rapidly growing market and a market that they would like to see become more efficient. The Bush Administration sees a growing market in remittances and obvious thinks all growing markets are just peachy.

Washington -- In recognition of the growing importance of remittances (money transfers) sent from people in one country to recipients in another, two international conferences will be held on the subject: in Washington on May 17, and on May 31 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The scheduled keynote speaker at the Washington conference, sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), is Samuel Bodman, the U.S. Treasury Department's deputy secretary. Prior to Bodman's speech, a news conference will be held by pollster Sergio Bendixen to present the results of his survey on how much money is being transferred by immigrant workers in the United States to their home countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The conference in Brazil, also sponsored by the IDB, will focus on the theme of "Remittances as a Development Tool in Economic Development." Scheduled speakers at that event include Bendixen (president of the Miami-based polling firm Bendixen and Associates), a number of Brazilian government and banking officials, and representatives from the IDB.

The IDB says remittances are nowhere more important than in Latin America and the Caribbean, now the fastest-growing and largest remittances market in the world.

The IDB said that in 2003, the region received more than $38 billion from its expatriates around the world. About 75 percent of the money was sent from the United States.

These money transfers, said the IDB, outstripped the combined flow of all foreign direct investment and official development assistance to the region. The IDB added that remittances substantially exceed tourism income in each country of Latin America and the Caribbean, and account for at least 10 percent of the region's gross domestic product.

Immigrants should be made to pay for all the costs they create for American taxpayers (health care, education for their children, crime, and other costs) before being allowed to send money home. But don't expect our nation's traitorous elites to get behind that idea.

Update: Two more points should be noted about the remittances from a tax revenue perspective: First of all, money sent abroad is not going to generate local US sales tax revenue when it is spent. So that is a negative on the tax revenue side which means native Americans will have to pay more in taxes to compensate. Also, money sent abroad is far more easily hid from US tax collection agencies. The earners show a lower living standard in the United States because they do not spend here. Many illegals in particular tend to work under the table and hence their shipment of their earnings abroad makes it even less likely they will pay anything in taxes to compensate for the costs they generate for American taxpayers.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 17 03:43 PM  Immigration Economics
Entry Permalink | Comments(11)
2004 May 15 Saturday
Will Elected Iraqi Government Tell American Forces To Leave?

US Secretary of State Colin Powell says the US will withdraw if the Iraqi government asks US forces to leave.

"Were this interim government to say to us, we really think we can handle this on our own and it will be better if you were to leave, we will leave," said Mr Powell.


"So I'm losing absolutely no sleep thinking that they might ask us to leave during this interim period while we're building up their forces," he said.

Powell says he is trying to make clear that the new provisional government will have a great deal of authority.

Powell said he was "not ducking the hypothetical, which I usually do," to avoid confusion on the extent of the new government's authority.

But a US general Lieutenant General disagrees with Powell.

Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman had told the House International Relations Committee on Thursday that although it was unlikely, the Iraqi interim government could tell U.S. troops to leave. But Lt. Gen. Walter Sharp, who was also at the hearing, contradicted his statement, telling the panel that only an elected government could order a U.S. withdrawal.

Powell says nothing has gone wrong in spite of the fact that he acknowledges the deterioriation in the security situation.

Asked "what went wrong" in Iraq, sparking the decline for U.S. support among Iraqis, Powell insisted Thursday, "Nothing has gone wrong. A dictator is gone. Saddam Hussein is gone."

In an interview with Denmark's DR TV, Powell also said support for the occupation is down among Iraqis because "there is a sense of insecurity. And so they (Iraqis) are nervous."

He also said: "I can assure you that if security was restored and all the reconstruction money was flowing the way we want it to flow, that number would turn around in a minute."

We could also say that any number of terminal cancer patients could feel great and become really healthy if only the cancer could be cured. So can the security situation be greatly improved to the point that reconstruction could accelerate?

The US-run Coalition Provisional Authority finds deep Iraqi unhappiness with US forces in Iraq.

In the poll, 80 percent of the Iraqis questioned reported a lack of confidence in the Coalition Provisional Authority, and 82 percent said they disapprove of the U.S. and allied militaries in Iraq.

So what happens when elections are held in Iraq and a popularly elected government takes office? The government will be under heavy public pressure to tell US forces to leave. Powell does not strike a confident tone on what the Iraqi government will do once elected officials take office.

"It is really when the national assembly is formed in January of 2005, and it puts in place another government, a transitional government, replacing the interim government, at that point we would expect that that transitional government would want to discuss (such issues) with the multinational force leaders."

Think about it. US efforts to build a democracy in Iraq may come to a sudden halt when the elected government orders US forces to leave. All sorts of things become possible at that point. The Kurds, no longer protected by the presence of US forces, may rebel. Sunni Baathist officers could try to stage a military coup to restore their position as top dogs. Some charismatic religious warrior might recruit an Army (perhaps a certain Shia cleric funded by Iran) to overthrow the government and seize power.

Any newly elected government is going to lack legitimacy and Iraqi critics will be quick to label its members as American lackeys. The deficiency of legitimacy and trust will cause the government to look for ways to demonstrate its nationalistic credentials. Elected officials will be enormously tempted to find ways to stand up to the Americans. Also, popular Arab distrust of Kurds as not legitimately Iraqis and the growing view of Kurds as American pawns will serve as a powerful temptation for Iraqi Arab officials to take a hard line on Kurdish autonomy and to countenance mistreatment and killing of Kurds in Arab areas of Iraq.

Even if the Iraqis don't immediately tell the US forces to leave there are a number of ways in which we can expect the Iraqis to make life difficult on American forces. First of all, Iraqi officials will take at least some altercations between Iraqis and American forces as reason to accuse Americans of all manner of heinous crimes and to demand trials and punishment. Also, when terrorist attacks are launched against US and allied forces the Iraqi officials may drag their feet in investigations and deny US forces quick and full access to some part of some town which US forces have reason to suspect to be the base of the attackers. Look at the rhetoric by Sunnis and even some Shias about Fallujah and think about how that rhetoric translated into policy. US forces may feel pressured to leave solely because they become too hobbled in their ability to track down attackers. This could easily turn into a propaganda defeat for Americans in Arab countries as American forces are seen as ineffectual in their self defense.

What is less clear is the question of just how competent and motivated the new government will be at running down and breaking up rebel groups. If the groups aim at government targets then the government can be expected to be more aggressive. But if the groups confine their attacks to foreign military forces it is less clear how motivated the government will be to stop then since the attackers will portray themselves as fighters against foreign domination doing what a corrupt lackey government refuses to do.

The bigger question is whether the US would be better off if the newly elected government asks the US and its allies (or perhaps "ally" since only the British may still be with us by then) to stay or leave come February 2005. The advantage of departing at the request of a democratically elected government is that a request for departure delivered by a freshly elected democratic government provides the US with an exit strategy that is not a retreat under fire. Such a departure would allow the US to declare victory at least superficially having achieved its goals. The US came, liberated, allowed a democratically elected government to take offce, and then left. Arguments for the US as imperialist power would then ring hollow.

Among the risks of early 2005 US withdrawal from Iraq would be that a coup could happen or that Iraq might decline into a civil war. Many people in Iraq would blame the United States for the result. If the Kurds came out poorly in a civil war then the only ethnic in Iraq that positively likes the United States at this point would cease to do so. A dictatorship could come to power that is quite hostile to the US and all the major groups in Iraq would probably decide the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime was a waste.

If the US stays in Iraq then the US may end up having to officiate in a civil war anyhow and all sides may blame the US for what results. Also, if the US stays the insurgent groups will try to find ways to attack US forces and will use the continued presence of US troops as a call to jihad that will lead to terrorist attacks against US forces, government targets, and other targets. The resulting civilian death tolls will be blamed at least partly on the US presence and the deaths will undermine the legitimacy of the government and of democracy. Also, any corruption and misbehavior by the Iraqi government will be blamed on the United States as puppeteer.

Will the Iraqis ask US forces to leave? The US can probably use the lure of aid money as an incentive to keep US forces in Iraq. Also, fear of insurgent forces or of a Sunni coup may cause the Shia elected offiicials to favor a continued US presence. But some firefight or air strike that results in a large number of civilian deaths could bring a lot of pressure on the goverment to ask US forces to leave. This is a hard one to call.

David Hackworth, the most decorated living American soldier (Audie Murphy probably has him beat in total medals) and a man who trained South Vietnamese soldiers as part of the Vietnamization charade to enable a US withdrawal from Vietnam "with honor", says there is one thing we can be certain about: the Iraqi Army is not now ready to take over security for Iraq and will not be for a long time.

Although Uncle Deep Pockets has sunk almost $100 million into this effort, none of the units is considered combat-ready. On average, all have about 25 percent of their soldiers on leave and 20 percent AWOL at any one time.

A Vinnell trainer says: "No one wants to rate them combat-ready because this is too risky – it would mean somebody's career slides down the tubes if one of these units got whipped. However, no one wanted to rate them not combat-ready either, because that would imply that all the money, time and effort devoted to these units had been wasted."

Note that if we partition Iraq then the Kurdish soldiers will then be trained to obey Kurdish officers, the Sunnis to obey Sunni officers, and the Shias to obey Shia officers. The odds that they'd actually obey their commands would go up significantly.

Update: Writing for the Washington Post Colbert King observes that we are seeing little sign that the Iraqi leaders or soldiers are going to be willing to fight the insurgents and fight to defend a democracy.

What we see happening thus far in places such as Fallujah, Najaf and Karbala is a calculated decision by Iraqi clerics, provincial leaders, and ex-Iraqi army generals and security forces to avoid direct confrontation with insurgents who, as Bush contends, would threaten democracy in Iraq. To the extent Iraqi leaders intervene, it is only to discourage the use of American power and to protect Iraqi lives and property. Useful, perhaps, but it's a far cry from stepping into the fray to bleed and die for the advance of freedom.

What will the various factions in Iraq be willing to fight and die for once a democratically elected government comes to power?

By Randall Parker 2004 May 15 08:57 PM  Mideast Iraq
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
2004 May 13 Thursday
Hostility Growing Between Kurds And Arabs In Iraq

Kurds are fleeing Fallujah and Shias are showing increased hostility toward the Kurds.

The situation in Fallujah has reawakened a sense of Arab nationalism among Shias and Sunnis. The danger is that this will grow to highlight the ethnic difference between Kurds and Arabs," said Falakadeen Kakay, a prominent Baghdad newspaper editor and former minister in the Kurdish self-rule area in northern Iraq. "Kurds are worried about being a minority without rights in the new Iraq. They are afraid of tyrannical rule by the majority."

In Shia neighborhoods of Baghdad, anti-Kurdish sentiments are vitriolic. "The Kurds are traitors ... How can they talk about wanting to be Iraqis when they support the Americans?" said Mohammed al-Musawi, 32, banging his clenched fist on a display case in the perfume store he runs. "How can they fight against other Iraqis in Fallujah - against their Muslim brothers?"

Kurds have been living in Fallujah because they were expelled from Kurdish areas by Saddam. But insurgents in Fallujah have been firing at American forces from the rooftops of Kurdish houses in order that the return fire will wreck Kurdish and not Arab homes. (same article here)

KALAR, Iraq — Thousands of Iraqi Kurds have fled homes in Fallujah to northern Iraq after being threatened by Arab insurgents for supporting the coalition and refusing to fight against the U.S. military.

More than 2,000 people have arrived since April 9 in the Kurdish town of Kalar near the Iranian border, according to officials of the Kurdish regional government. Others are scattered in the large Kurdish cities of Irbil and Sulaymaniyah.

This reminds me of how Yassir Arafat's forces in the West Bank have intentionally fired on Israeli settlements and Israeli soldiers from Palestinian Chrstian houses in order to cause the Israelis to shoot up Christian homes. The motives in that case were more in the direction of eliciting Western sympathy for the Christians than to drive the Christians out. However, Arafat has also plotted to reduce Palestinian Christan self-rule by merging Christian towns into larger Muslims towns. Many Palestinian Christians have managed to flee to the West to escape both Muslim Palestinian mistreatment and the land seizures and other unfair treatment by the Israeli Jews.

While the Kurdish region is much more peaceful than the other parts of Iraq the Kurdish region continues to suffer from a series of bombings such as the most recent bombings in the northerh Iraqi and predominately Kurdish cities of Kirkuk and Baquba.

Kurdish leaders avoid statements in favor of the popular Kurdish support for secession from Iraq but the Kurds increasingly do not see that Iraq is going to change enough to be both tolerant of them and democratic.

No one doubts they sympathize with the popular view. The politicians say they are deeply frustrated by the lack of responsibility on the part of other Iraqi groups. What is disturbing is that many Kurds are now openly arguing it is not in their interest to sacrifice their gains by committing themselves to the almost impossible mission of transforming Iraqi society. In a recent interview the most prominent Kurdish poet, Sherko Bekas, said bluntly that Kurds were not Iraqis and he demanded a UN-sponsored referendum so that the Kurds could determine their own future.


There is also concern that Kurdish communities in Arab cities such as Baghdad and Mosul would suffer. Baghdad alone is home to an estimated 800,000 Kurds. In recent weeks many Kurds have been killed in Mosul, where Kurds from Irbil and Dohuk now avoid traveling. If this continues business will suffer too.

As hostility between Kurds and Arabs escalates expect to see continued migrations of Kurds back to the Kurdish region and Arabs out of the Kurdish region back to Shia and Sunni Arab areas. Money made available now to facilitate those migrations would help reduce bloodshed in the future.

The Arabs are obviously illiberal in their attitudes toward women. The Kurds are enormously more Western and modern than the Iraqi Arabs in their views of women's rights and the role of religion in public life.

By margins of roughly 75 to 35 percent, Arabs are more likely than Kurds to favor giving religious leaders a “direct role” in such matters as deciding school curriculum, drafting legislation and determining who should run for office. In the all-important “women’s issue” the Kurds come off as veritable suffragettes compared to their Arab brethren. When asked if women should have the same rights as men, 98 percent of Kurds said “yes,” versus 42 percent of non-Kurds. More incredibly, in answering whether women should have more freedom than before the invasion or less, 82 percent of the Kurds said “more,” while 60 percent of Arabs believed than should adopt even more stringent “traditional” roles than they had before Iraq’s liberation.

George W. Bush and Paul Wolfowitz are in fantasyland with their dreams of Arab liberal democracy. We can ill afford to have powerful American leaders dreaming in the face of a reality that is incompatible with their dreams.

If the Kurds were united into a single country they'd have a larger population than that of Iraq or Syria or Saudi Arabia.

There are 26 million Kurds spread across Iran, Iraq, and Turkey -- a large and strategically important geographical expanse. The culture contains more moderate Muslims than other Arab lands. Kurdish women for instance, are not required to veil themselves, can receive regular education and work outside their homes. A successful democracy there would be an important regional ally for America in the war on terrorism.

Syria, with a total population of 18.5 million, has about 1.5 million Kurds which have been emboldened by the overthrow of Saddam and the increase of the size of the area of Iraq now under control of Kurdish administrators. The Syrian government is currently waging a crackdown on the Kurds of Syria.

SYRIAN authorities have arrested more than 1000 Kurds as part of a continuing campaign against the Kurdish minority, a Syrian human rights group claimed today.

It was the second report in less than a week of an alleged clampdown on Kurds in Syria since last month's clashes between Syrian security forces and Kurdish rioters in which 25 were killed and more than 100 wounded.

Amnesty International reports arrests, torturing, and dismissal of Kurds from universities in Syria.

At least two men have reportedly died in custody. A number of people including children have reportedly been tortured.

In addition, at least 24 Kurdish students have been expelled from their universities and dormitories in what appears to be an increasing prosecution of Kurdish people. Syrian Kurds are reportedly being arrested or attacked because of their ethnicity or for speaking Kurdish.

The Syrians are afraid of Kurdish demands for autonomy.

A few members of Syria’s Kurdish community called for statehood during clashes between the police and rioters in March after a soccer match brawl, but all Kurdish political groupings in the Arab state deny such aspirations.

Check out some colorful maps of Kurdistan. The Nationmaster Kurdistan map provides perhaps the most useful view of what is Kurdistan. However, the number of Kurds and their distribution is hard to ferret out from web sources. The countries in the region may well be undercounting their Kurdish populations. An Israelis site claims that the Kurds are reproducing faster than the Turks, Persians, and Arabs in Syria and Iraq and it claims a Kurdish population for those states that totals 36 million for the year 2000. I have no idea as to the accuracy of those claims.

Pay close attention to the relations between the Kurds and Arabs in Iraq. The Kurds want autonomy and it seems clear given Arab attitudes toward the Kurds and the differences in Arab and Kurdish views on democracy and society that they do not belong together in the same country. They see themselves as separate groups. Large differences in values and historical grievances separate them. The hostility and mistrust between them is growing rather than shrinking.

I have previously argued that US interests would be better served by a partition of Iraq that creates a Kurdish state. I offer the news reports above as further evidence in support of that view.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 13 03:49 PM  Mideast Iraq Ethnic Cleansing
Entry Permalink | Comments(7)
Immigrants Do Not Improve Academically In Later Generations

A recent study done at UCLA is reported in a press release that purports to be relaying good news but which is actually reporting very bad news.

UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute researchers find high school graduates from immigrant families succeed in college at similar rates as American-born peers with similar economic and ethnic backgrounds. Students from immigrant families also are more likely to support their families while in school.

In addition, high school graduates from immigrant families with higher incomes and higher levels of parent education achieved the highest success in college. This finding helps to explain lower levels of success seen among Latin American children compared with East Asian children.

Oh what nonsense. Is the higher income level of the parents the cause of higher academic achievement? Where is the evidence for that? The academic success and economic success are obviously both flowing from other factors. Smart Indian and Chinese immigrant engineers are having smart kids. How can anyone seriously doubt that engineers have innately much smarter kids on average than grade school drop-outs? We are supposed to attribute the differences in educational attainment to economic factors? How loony.

Appearing in the summer edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Research on Adolescence, the study is among the first to examine the success of immigrant children in post-secondary education. The William T. Grant Foundation and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded the research.

"The United States has experienced a tremendous wave of immigration over the past 30 years. The ability of the children of immigrants to find educational success beyond high school is critical to their economic integration into American society," said Dr. Andrew J. Fuligni, the paper's co-author and senior research scientist at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute's Center for Culture and Health.

"Our overall findings are encouraging," he said.

No Dr. Fuligni, your overall findings are highly discouraging. If the first generation of an ethnic group does just as well academically as later generations but that ethnic group's first generation does poorly in school then that is bad news. There is no sign of an improving trend that will make things all work out well in the long run. Here is clear evidence that, contrary to the myth promoted by many neoconservatives and liberals, not all immigration is wonderful. Here is evidence which clearly shows a permanent problem is being created.

"But there are signs that certain segments of the immigrant population, particularly those from Latin America, need more assistance to participate fully in educational and related economic opportunities available in the United States."

Well, duh. That is politically correct way of saying that Hispanic immigrants academically do far worse on average than whites and East Asians. This is spun into a politically correct phrasing that there is a problem here that can be solved with "more assistance". Where is the empirical evidence that some form of assistance exists that would work? The empirical studies of changes in spending per student show little or no beneficial effect. So what variable would the academics recommend we we turn to in order to provide the assistance that will close the achievement gap?

The UCLA report inadvertently confirms the bad news I drew attention to in my previous post Samuel P. Huntington Comes Out Against Immigration From Mexico on Huntington's article in Foreign Policy which includes a table which shows little improvement in education attainment across generations of Mexican immigrants.

Education of Mexican Americans by Generation (1989-90)

First Second Third Fourth All Americans *
No high school degree (%) 69.9 51.5 33.0 41.0 23.5
High school degree (%) 24.7 39.2 58.5 49.4 30.4
Post high school degree (%) 5.4 9.3 8.5 9.6 45.1
* Except Mexican Americans, 1990

This bad news reminds me of the great "States with higher IQ vote Democrat" hoax. In reflecting on this hoax Steve Sailer sees evidence in the NAEP test results that California and the nation as a whole have a dumber future.

The future looks dumberer -- Looking at the NAEP scores for public school 8th graders by state (see below), it struck me that California is going to be, on average, a much dumber state in the future than it is now. I always thought of it as a pretty smart state, what with Silicon Valley, Cal Tech, and aerospace. Even Hollywood attracts a lot of smart cookies. In the past, these smarts were spread pretty broadly through the general populace in California.

But California's 2003 NAEP scores for public schools 8th graders are awful: 44th out of 50 states in Math (behind states like Tennessee and Nevada, a state where the study of probability is the only socially sanctioned intellectual pursuit) and 49th in Reading (well behind Mississippi). If California is the pacesetter state, with its 25 year head start on absorbing immigrants, then the future looks dumber for all of us.

Click through to Steve's link and look down from that post through his earlier posts where he explodes the hoax table underlying the "liberal Democrats have higher IQs" myth which suckered in so many left-liberal blog. The claim made by that table is that the states that voted for Al Gore in 2000 have higher average IQs than the states that voted for George W. Bush. Liberals who deny that IQ matters were ready to stampede to report the news when it looked like Democrats are smarter than Republicans. But since they never actually bother to read the details of the psychometric studies that they denounce their ignorance of the facts made them suckers for an obvious hoax. I mean it was glaring. It put Utah at an IQ of 87. How absurd. Utah has above average 8th grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores in spite of spending less per student than all states except North Dakota. North Dakota, which went for Bush, is top of the pops for NAEP 8th grade math scores. So money matters for educational outcomes? Ha. I got a bridge to sell to anyone who believes that. By contrast, Washington DC spends about 3 times as much as Utah and yet manages to score at the bottom of the barrel in NAEP scores.

The way liberals react to fake IQ data that supports their prejudices demonstrates they obviously understand that IQ matters and that it matters a lot. Inconveniently the real evidence about IQs just doesn't support either liberal or neoconservative mythology about an assortment of policy topics such as education, immigration, and nation-building. We ignore the evidence at our peril.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 13 02:01 AM  Immigration Societal Decay
Entry Permalink | Comments(9)
2004 May 12 Wednesday
US Deal Making May Lead To De Facto Iraq Partitioning

The creation of a Sunni militia commanded by Baathist officers to control Fallujah with American support has other groups in Iraq thinking they too can maneuver to get American blessings for their own local militias to control some piece of Iraq.

Muqtada al-Sadr, who led a wave of uprisings in Shia cities in the south a few weeks ago, will be encouraged too, though American forces this week began to flush his Mahdi army out of Karbala and another town in the south. Still holed up in Najaf, Mr Sadr says that he has learnt a lesson from Fallujah: “if you want to be friends with America, you must fight it.” The revival of a Sunni Arab militia has given Kurdish and Shia militia commanders good cause to reconsider their earlier promise to dissolve and join a new army.


Now Mr Hussein's former soldiers may be able to choose between a career in Mr Allawi's forces and in those run by former Baathist generals.

Defense Ali Allawi couches his spoken fears by referring to the fears of the Iraqi people about the return of Baathist officers to power.

BAGHDAD--A funny thing happened on the way toward Iraqi sovereignty. Last week, former Iraqi Army officers, led by a Republican Guard general, strode through Fallujah's streets in their old olive-green uniforms and shook hands with a U.S. Marine commander, sealing a pact to retake control of the city's armed forces. And Iraqi Minister of Defense Ali Allawi watched it all, aghast. "Iraq is too fragile . . . to overcome the legitimate fears of people that all those creeps are coming back into power," he says.

Allawi knows that his central Army will be less powerful if the US goes around and makes deals that empower local forces. But maybe the US will start supplying him with money to pay to local military leaders to rent their loyalty.

The Bush Administration appears to be as willing to make a deal with Sadr as it is with the Baathists.

General Martin Dempsey, commanding general of the 1st armoured division, said on Tuesday that he had begun negotiations with “stakeholders” including members of Mr Sadr’s militia to form two battalions of 1,840 troops in Najaf, which he said Mr Sadr's “lieutenants” could help to recruit.

How to become a "stakeholder" in Iraq? Well, one way is to have influence over people who have demonstrated an ability to kill Americans.

Shia tribal leaders are negotiating an agreement with Sadr to present to the US for approval.

Under the agreement, al-Sadr's outlawed militia would become a legitimate political organization, participants said. A criminal case against al-Sadr would be postponed until after June 30, when the U.S.-led coalition is scheduled to turn over sovereignty in Iraq to an Iraqi caretaker government. Al-Sadr is wanted in connection with the murder of a rival cleric in Najaf last year.

But Major General Martin Dempsey, Commander, 1st Armored Division, claims the US is not going to keep Sadr's militia together. The US is trying to hire away Sadr's militia into a different organization that would not have the same organizational structure.

Q General, David Lee Miller, Fox News. To what extent do you see Shiites in the south rising up Sadr? And to what extent, if any, do you think you might be able to use Iraqis to ultimately remove him from Najaf -- maybe Iraqi forces?

GEN. DEMPSEY: Well, that is -- our goal -- I wouldn't describe our goal as to have Iraqi forces remove him, except if they're Iraqi police and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) that are part of what we're trying to build as a legitimate force. And, incidentally, these young men we're getting from the political parties, the agreement is that they come into these ICDC units and they are broken apart and fused back together. So we're not building a Badr organization/company and an INC company -- we're building -- we're getting young men from those organizations and bringing them together. Yeah, I'd certainly like to get to the point where they would be the solution to the problem.

But Sadr's "lieutenants" will probably be leaders in this new structure. There will be important differences however. These guys will be on a payroll funded by the US taxpayer, will not need to go looting businesses to make the payroll, and their boss won't be telling them to shoot at American soldiers. Same guys though. Their character and outlook will not be all that different. But they will be under a different incentive structure. How long will that incentive structure remain in place and effective?

Sadr says he is ready to make a deal.

"I am ready to end everything if the occupation forces officially ask for negotiations on condition that these negotiations are just and transparent and under the stewardship of the Shiite religious authorities," Sadr said in a statement signed by him.

Will the CIA or military put Sadr on the payroll to keep him from trying to build up a replacement force some months down the line?

US military operations against al-Sadr are probably aimed at least in part at weakening Sadr's negotiating position.

Karbala, Iraq - The U.S. military attacked a mosque in this holy city late Tuesday in its largest assault yet against the forces of young rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, even as the first signs emerged of a peaceful resolution to the five-week standoff with him.

My guess is that the US military is going to continue to go around making deals with local militias in order to create a more peaceful atmosphere. The US is going to show various parties a lot of money to get them to go along. Some of the more powerful players will also be offered insider "legitimate" power and perhaps forgiveness for past sins. In spite of attempts to reform the ex-militiamen into new fighting forces which are nominally suppose to be part of a national force these deals are going to facilitate a devolution of power to the tribal and militia groups. The militia fighters have already demonstrated a willingness to fight for their factions. It is hard to believe these militia fighters are going to feel much allegiance toward the central government.

The facade of democracy will be created by elections to choose a democratically elected government. But before the elections much power will already have shifted into the hands of various military officers, clerics, and tribal leaders. The newly elected government (assuming we get that far) will be weak. It will be necessary to let the power shift to local power brokers in order to keep the peace in each area.

This development puts the Kurds in a difficult spot. The Kurds are acting a lot more restrained and civilized. This is probably costing them influence. Will they see this as a lesson that violence would pay them some political dividends? At the very least if there are going to be Sunni and Shia military forces which are effectively outside of the control of the center then the Kurds had better hang on to their weapons too. Of course, they are probably going to anyway.

The Bush Administration seems to have crossed a Rubicon of sorts as it seeks to add more carrots into the mix along with sticks of military force in order to lower the casualty rates and make Iraq outwardly more peaceful. Therefore the Iraqi insurgents have been effective in causing a change in Bush Administration policy toward Iraq. While a reasonable case can be made for the idea that the Bushies have been "played" by the Sunni officers in Fajullah in particular this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The Bushies were already "played" by Ahmad Chalabi and other Iraqi advocates of the war. Better to be in a con game with locals who have real power who can provide some benefits in resturn. But this redistribution of power came at the very high cost of a lot of lives of American boys and of innocent Iraqi civilians along with a considerable amount of ill will on the part of Iraqis and Arabs in general.

Will the Bush Administration's new found willingness to make deals with various devils in Iraq translate into a political gain for George W. Bush back in the United States? This depends in part on whether Paul Bremer and the US generals can make and manage deals with all the right people. Management of those deals will require a great deal of skill. Whether all those people can be incentivized to stick with their deals remains to be seen. Also, not every enemy in Iraq wants to make a deal. There are religious jihadis who just want to kill kill kill. Can the US hire ex-Baathists who are competent enough and motivated and well connected enough to help run down most of the jihadist car bombers? Time will tell.

Update: Writing in the Jerusalem Post Paul Rubin says if the US supports one faction in power the US will be blamed for what that faction does. Do we want that? (requires free registration)

Does the US want to become a participant in an Iraqi civil war between Islamists and nationalists, Sunnis and Shi'ites, and among ambitious would-be tyrants?

Does it want to be the sponsor of a regime that will be overthrown and thus blamed by the victors?

Does it want to be the sponsor of a regime that survives and wins that war by ruthless repression and by killing tens of thousands of people?

No matter how the US leaves Iraq, radical Shi'ite Islamists, al-Qaida terrorists, and pro-Saddam forces will claim they threw it out. The only thing that will shut them up is the victorious side wiping them out.

One advantage of partition done the US is that at least one of the partitions (Kurdistan) will not go through a huge convulsive civil war. This would be a public relations win for the Bush Administration and for the United States in general. The United States would be able to point the finger of blame at the Shias or the Sunnis if they have a huge convulsive civil war by saying "See, the Kurds showed it is possible to make a peaceful democracy".

Better to be able to strike a morally superior pose: "Sherif Ali! So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they remain a little people. A silly people! Greedy, barbarous, and cruel-as you are!"

By Randall Parker 2004 May 12 01:20 AM  MidEast Iraq Partition
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
2004 May 11 Tuesday
Judge Orders Drug Abusing Couple: Have No More Children

A judge in a New York County says 4 babies by a drug abusing couple are quite enough.

In six years, a cocaine-addicted, unwed and oftenhomeless Rochester couple has had four children and lost them all to foster care.

Enough is enough, a judge has ruled.

In a decision that could be the first of its kind in the nation, Monroe County Family Court Judge Marilyn L. O’Connor has ordered the couple to have no more children until they’re reunited with the children they already have and prove they can take care of them.

From the court ruling:

Regarding the third and fourth additional conditions, it is the intention of the court that the mother be required to not get pregnant until all of her children are being raised by a natural parent, or are no longer being cared for at the expense of the public. It is similarly the intention of the court that the father be required to not father another child until all his children are being raised by a natural parent, or are no longer being cared for at the expense of the public. It is further the intention of the court that neither parent shall conceive another child until found capable of having custody of all their current children. In other words, the respondents shall be required to act like responsible parents and for the duration of the order, to have no more children unless they can parent them themselves. Thus, the third and fourth additional ordering paragraphs shall state:

ORDERED that effective upon the date of personal service of a copy of this order upon respondent Stephanie P. and so long as this order or an extension of it is in effect, the respondent Stephanie P. shall not get pregnant again until and unless she has actually obtained custody and care of Bobbijean P. and every other child of hers who is in foster care and has not been adopted or institutionalized; and it is further

ORDERED that effective upon the date of service of a copy of this order upon respondent Rodney E. Sr. and so long as this order or an extension of it is in effect, the respondent Rodney E. Sr. shall not father any other child or children until and unless he has actually obtained custody and care of Bobbijean P. and every other child of his who is in foster care and has not been adopted or institutionalized or had custody granted to another party; . . .

Judge O'Connor's ruling about the "no-parent family" problem is tragically accurate in too many cases.

It is painfully obvious that a parent who has already lost to foster care all 4 of her children born over a 6-year period, with the last one having been taken from her even before she could leave the hospital, should not get pregnant again soon, if ever. She should not have yet another child which must be cared for at public expense before she has proven herself able to care for other children. The same is true for the father and his children. As to both parents, providing care for the children includes providing financial support. This is a practical, social, economic and moral reality. In effect, Bobbijean was born to a "no-parent family". She is for all practical purposes motherless and fatherless. This is not acceptable. All babies deserve more than to be born to parents who have proven they cannot possibly raise or parent a child. This neglected existence is an immense burden to place on a child and on society. The cycle of neglect often created by such births needs to stop. Our society has reached the breaking point with respect to raising neglected children, often born with extraordinary needs. One only need look at our schools, our jails, our Division of Human and Health Services budgets, and our Family Courts to see that a serious change of direction is necessary in the interests of children, the taxpayers, and the community as a whole.

How can you argue with that? Of course, the usual loonies are all upset.

”What the judge has done here is highly unusual,” said Anna Schissel, staff attorney for the Reproductive Rights Project of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “I don’t know of any precedent that would permit a judge to do this. And even if there were a precedent, it … violates the United States Constitution and the New York Constitution.

People like Ms. Schissel give the US Constitution a bad reputation that I do not think it deserves. Would the Founding Fathers have supported a right for drug addicts to have babies that are messed up in the womb by drugs and then abused and neglected after birth? I figure the Founding Fathers were sensible men who would understand that damaging embryos and babies and then inevitably inflicting society with the resulting costs is at minimum impractical, obviously immoral and that to support a supposed "right" to do this is even quite insane. It is time to call the nutcases what they are: nutcases. The ACLU crowd ran out of worthwhile causes and so have turned their attention toward promoting causes that are deeply harmful to the health of society. Irresponsible nuts. Shame on them.

Back in the realm of sanity the favorite charity for venture capitalist and philanthropist Jim Woodhill is the organization Project Prevention (a.k.a. C.R.A.C.K) which offers money to drug addict and alcoholic women to receive Norplant implants or sterilization (their choice) so that they stop getting pregnant while strung out. Founder Barbara Harris has adopted 4 babies that were born to the same addict mother and she decided to start providing financial incentives for addicts to take steps to become infertile for long periods of time. I think the charity is a great idea.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 11 02:16 AM  Civilizations Decay
Entry Permalink | Comments(7)
2004 May 10 Monday
US Military Officers Increasingly Critical Of US Strategy In Iraq

Writing for the Washington Post Thomas E. Ricks an important article about increasing opposition among US military officers against the way Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and the rest of the Bush team are conducting the war in Iraq.

Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, who spent much of the year in western Iraq, said he believes that at the tactical level at which fighting occurs, the U.S. military is still winning. But when asked whether he believes the United States is losing, he said, "I think strategically, we are."

Army Col. Paul Hughes, who last year was the first director of strategic planning for the U.S. occupation authority in Baghdad, said he agrees with that view and noted that a pattern of winning battles while losing a war characterized the U.S. failure in Vietnam. "Unless we ensure that we have coherency in our policy, we will lose strategically," he said in an interview Friday.

There are lots more quotes where those come from. Click through and read the whole thing.

Lots of officers interviewed by Rick refused to be quoted by name.

Like several other officers interviewed for this report, this general spoke only on the condition that his name not be used. One reason for this is that some of these officers deal frequently with the senior Pentagon civilian officials they are criticizing, and some remain dependent on top officials to approve their current efforts and future promotions. Also, some say they believe that Rumsfeld and other top civilians punish public dissent.

Think about that for a second. These officers could, for the good of their country, resign their commissions and then publically state what they see as wrong with the conduct of the war. Or they could remain in the service, publically state their views, and then lose out on promotions. But in spite of what they see as major flaws in US strategy the bulk of them are putting their own careers ahead of what they see as the best interests of the country. This is very disappointing. They could have much greater impact if they were willing to publically go on record with their views.

On the political Right there are far too many people (including many bloggers) who tend to see all criticism of Bush Administration strategy as based on Lefist political assumptions. Therefore the debate on strategy tends too much to be a partisan debate aimed at winning points. The result is that there are not enough hawkish proponents of aggressive protection of American interests offering constructive criticisms of Administration policy. This is unfortunate because substantial American interests have been harmed by a long series of Bush Administration mistakes and the Bushies continue to rack up yet more big blunders.

The insurgent forces in Iraq have begun to sense that they can scare the US into withdrawing and this is emboldening them. The United States either needs to greatly increase its forces in Iraq or hang it up.

"There are several million young men in Iraq who are now seeing us in a whole new light," says Pat Lang, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst. "We have something like 130,000 troops in Iraq.We probably do not have more than 60 thousand or 70 thousand fighters in that force. They are spread across a vast area." In Lang’s view, the United States must either shift that tipping point by bringing in more troops, or we withdraw. "To back away from the hostiles will enormously encourage our enemies. We have no choice but to fight it out and defeat the growing revolt in Iraq,” he says. "Once you drive your car off the cliff, there's not much you can do to affect the outcome."

The article reports that General Abizaid has decided to increase forces in Iraq by another division. This strkes me as too little too late. Better increase by about 3 divisions and ruthlessly and rapidly defeat the insurgency than to just up our forces while their own forces increase in number. The Bush Administration is probably unwilling to do that in part because it is unwilling to admit to the scale of its miscalculation both to itself and to the American people.

A French correspondent who has lived in Arab countries offers some insights into Arab mindsets.

Arabs follow winners. Al Quaeda is recruiting a lot by now, not because there is the war in Irak (its recruitment had been reduced as soon as Afghanistan fell), but because Arab street is persuaded, from what they can see in West Press, that the west will lose. When you live in a dictature, the most important is to be on the right side, if not you lose your life. Their survival tactic is therefore to try to guess who will win, and to be part of the winners.

Tit for Tat (T4T) and other cooperative strategies in a IDP do not exist in Arab countries, outside the tribe (extended family) : that's the main reason why these countries are so poor (despite the oil). Any cooperation is perceived as a avowal of weakness, which will be rewarded by treason. To survive in Arabic countries, you HAVE TO know that. The most surprising in Tunisia, where this is very known, is that even Tunisians criticize this behavior, and it's an important reason why they want to leave the country.

In short, IF european and american newspapers did just tell the opposite of what they write, announcing a huge success of coalition struggle, then the "Arab street" would im-me-dia-tly change its mind, and would be pro US. Do not tell me it's against the "ethic" of the profession: it wouldn't be a bigger lie than what they write now, just the opposite.

The United States has changed so much since World War II that it is unrealistic to expect the press to spin a positive message for the home front. So while this French correspondent is probably correct it is a piece of advice that is probably impossible to implement. This puts us in a difficult position. A simple total withdrawal of US forces from Iraq at this point would embolden Arabs hostile to the US and probably lead to a huge surge in recruitment of Muslims into Al Qaeda. We need an exit strategy that will not seem like a simple retreat in the face of Jihadist opposition.

A friend who was originally opposed to the US invasion of Iraq offers a rather hard-nosed Machiavellian realpolitik analysis and an excellent formula for how to handle Iraq:

I've been convinced it was losing for about 6 months. Prior to that I expected a long drawn out dismal failure but not outright military defeat in the sense of being forced to leave an actively hostile power behind. But as it became clear that the local powers have moved into the vacuum, that they are smart enough to understand this is their one opportunity, and that they have mastered the arts of rumor and terror to the point the US will never get a grip, then it dawned on me the result would be even worse.

I'm sure the military figured this out a while ago, if they are willing to talk to the press about it now.

Beyond the problems of having no way to get a grip, we don't have leverage either. This is because the occupation is styled as a liberation, and the USA is at some level genuinely too moral to annexe the place regardless of the locals. So we wander around mouthing how we are encouraging democracy while the would be despots run their local operations to blow up soldiers, aid workers, reconstruction, and any locals who seem to be helping, while simultaneously letting the populace have a story about how incompetent the US is at maintaining security. There really isn't any solution, because the guys we are up against have been raised on a culture of ruthless power and manipulate a people accustomed to keeping their heads down if they are not one of those willing to play the power game.

Of course the result for Iraq is going to be grotesque but those guys don't care, the various cliques are in a winner takes all game, which will not happen again, so now is their chance and they know it. Even the groups that might have bided their time will have realized that events are being forced and they need to choose a side, and none of those sides are "friends of USA".

And this talk of bringing the UN in to fix it is hysterically funny. Firstly, the UN will be even less effective, and they know it. Secondly, why would they want to? The US ignored the UN, this is their chance to say "we told you so" and from a safe, uninvolved distance. Help the US get out? Not a chance.

If it was me looking at this, I'd cut my losses. I'd partition the country into three areas, Kurd, Sunni, Shia. I'd draw those lines in the middle of nowhere and put my troops there so the troops would be out of the cities. I'd then take the strongest group in each area and say "its yours, but don't dare mess with our guard lines". Leave the country formally a single republic and give them each representation on a council to talk to each other about things they will have in common (assuming they do). Then tell each of them that they are personally responsible for the safety of the aid organizations and reconstruction, and expend lots of propoganda broadcast time interviewing their leader, their chief of police/militia, and their local ministers of health, education etc. on what their plans are and how they invite foreigners to work on their projects. Let them direct the projects (behind the scenes, insist on some proportion of schools, roads, etc) but not handle the budget (but pay them ample salaries and perks, so their graft is tolerable and formally legal). Any project not successfully kept safe by the militia (not a US soldier in sight) is irrevocably cancelled along with the salaries of the administration. Let them figure out how to keep the hotheads from spoiling the gravy train. Divvy up oil revenues from a national corporation proportional to population, distributed at as low a level (heck, per family checks) as possible. Form a small national army and train it with the occupying troops, out in the middle of nowhere, in desegregated regiments. Build nice barracks facilities they won't want to dismantle, and dismantle the old ones in cities. After a year or two, as projects wind up, reduce the border US forces to observer levels and invite the UN in to share the familiar peacekeeping role. Arrange national elections on a federation style constitution. Invite the neighbors to the party (who in the meantime, you have been as constructive with as possible). Let the resulting governement kick the peacekeepers out, which they will, and see what unfolds. Don't pretend you ever had a chance of controlling it anyway.

This partitioning with lines that are drawn through desert regions would get US soldiers out of the cities where they are much easier to kill. This would also give each ethnic group less a reason to fight to avoid dominance by the other groups. Plus, it would provide plenty of incentive for better behavior. Positive incentives for preferred behavior are incredibly important and are missing in current US handling of Iraq. This plan has a lot to recommend for itself. I would tend to favor pursuing a variation on this approach with the goal of keeping Iraq permanently broken up into 3 pieces. The US could play "balance the power" games of helping whichever group looks like it might be overrun by one of the other two.

A Pollyanna outlook on what is possible to achieve in Iraq and how easily goals can be achieved has so far led to an ever increasing debacle. It is time to take off the rose-colored glasses and abandon foolish illusions about how easily Iraq can be politically transformed. The price of the illusions has gotten far too high and threatens to escalate still higher. I've collected together a list of reasons why conditions in Iraq are unfavorable for the establishment of a successful federal liberal democracy not hostile to the United States. The Bush Administration's mishandling of Iraq has made conditions there even less favorable to the achievement of that goal. The longer we wait to acknowledge the deterioration our position the worse the outcome will ultimately be for our interests.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 10 01:11 AM  MidEast Iraq Military Needs
Entry Permalink | Comments(35)
2004 May 08 Saturday
Increased Chinese Demand For Oil Is A Net Loss For The USA

For reasons that make no sense to me Tyler Cowen thinks China's demand for oil is not a net cost to the United States. (correct me if I'm wrong in my interpretation Tyler)

Oil just hit $40 a barrel. Many analysts, such as Paul Krugman have noted the Chinese role in pushing up commodity and natural resource prices:

Lately we've been hearing a lot about competition from Chinese manufacturing and Indian call centers. But a different kind of competition — the scramble for oil and other resources — poses a much bigger threat to our prosperity.

I am surprised to see Krugman so qualifying his former belief in the virtues of free trade. Keep in mind that the core theory of international theory is a barter theory. "The Chinese buying oil" and "the Chinese selling bicycles" are just two sides of the same coin. If you don't think one can harm the U.S., you shouldn't, in general, think the other will harm the U.S. either. (Of course if your vision of free trade is we get the bicycles but give up nothing in return, we are worse off relative to that state of affairs!)

Here is another way to think of the logic. If the Chinese are bidding up the price of oil, they have found good uses for that resource. If they have a comparative advantage in buying oil, that benefits the rest of the world. Comparative advantage in production also will mean comparative advantage in buying certain inputs. The U.S. still has access to its previous production possibilities frontier. It must now decide whether it would rather spend its money on oil, or on something else, perhaps the outputs of the Chinese.

Tyler is surprised by Paul Krugman? Well, I'm surprised by Tyler. Or wait, no, I take that back. This is the sort of argument I expect Tyler to make. I also disagree with it.

Okay, what is wrong with Tyler's argument? The higher price for oil reduces the amount of oil the US will buy. The oil that the US will buy will cost more. The rising Chinese demand for oil makes us worse off. The Saudis and other oil producing nations will get more money for producing the same stuff and therefore can buy more stuff with the same amount of oil sold. The Saudis will not need to work harder or more efficiently. They didn't even have to do anything to get the oil in the first place. They just got lucky to have oil under their deserts. They didn't even have to develop the technology to extract, process, and ship it. Yet they make the bulk of the money from its sale.

Rising demand for natural resources as a result of the industrialization of more of the world is going to shift more wealth from manufacturers to the possessors of natural resources. The United States will have to lower the prices at which it sells goods in order to generate more sales to get the revenue to pay for the higher price for oil imports. It is hard to see how this is a gain for the USA. The same holds for other existing big buyers of natural resources. They will pay more for inputs and at the same time will have to sell a larger fraction of their outputs abroad to earn the revenue to pay for the inputs.

Tyler mentions the environmental cost to the US and other countries from the increased energy consumption of China. Yes, Chinese air pollution does cross the Pacific to reach the United States.

The contributions to Western US air pollution are sometimes substantial.

Based on air quality measurements at Cheeka Peak at the westernmost tip of Washington state and later airplane-based measurements, Jaffe's research group has shown that a steady trickle of air pollution comes across the Pacific from Asia -- at least in the spring -- punctuated by a surge of pollutants once or twice a month. 

These surges are presumably due to the wholesale movement of air from Asian urban areas across the Pacific. This prevents the pollutants from being diluted by mixing with cleaner air. During these surges, the air entering the West Coast can have pollution concentrations as high as 75 percent of federal air quality standards, Jaffe said. 

China is going to surpass the United States in carbon dioxide emissions.

China will surpass the United States in annual emissions of CO2 within a decade and, in a few decades, in total cumulative emissions of CO2 since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Chinese sulfur dioxide emissions have skyrocketed.

Between 1990 and 2000, annual releases of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere in the United States dropped from about 20 million tons to 13 million tons, but in China they have climbed to about 45 million tons.

But pollution is not the biggest cost to the rest of the world coming from increased Chinese oil purchases and increased Chinese coal burning. Nor is the biggest cost the higher price the US has to pay for oil (though, contra Tyler, that really is a net loss for the United States). The biggest cost for the United States from Chinese economic growth is in the realm of national security. The rising demand for oil from China and other industrializing countries is going to make the Middle East even more problematic.

To the extent that China becomes a military rival they will of course also cost us a lot more in increased military spending. How that plays out remains to be seen. But we certainly are faced with both higher energy prices and a more intractable Middle East as a result of China's economic growth.

Update As Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley argues, the US government ought to spend an additional $10 billion per year on energy research. Energy research is a much cheaper way to avoid with the potential costs (assuming there really are net costs) of climate warming too.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 08 09:59 PM  Economics Political
Entry Permalink | Comments(18)
Robert Samuelson On The Drifting Apart Of America And Europe

Europe's working population is going to shrink.

From 1996 to 2003, economic growth averaged 1.3 percent annually in Germany, 1.5 percent in Italy and 2.2 percent in France (the U.S. rate: 3.3 percent). Many EU countries have taxes between 40 percent and 50 percent of national income. Aging populations intensify upward pressures on benefits. From 2000 to 2020, the over-65 population in the 15 countries of the "old" EU is projected to rise 38 percent, while the number of people between 25 and 49 falls 14 percent.

While the recently enlarged European Union now has a combined economy bigger than that of the United States it is pretty obvious that it will not continue to do so. The bigger birth dearth in Europe will shrink their working population so much that the US is most likely to pass it by and leave it well behind.

Europe's problem is that only is its population aging more rapidly but its governments are already larger portions of their economies than is the case in the United States. The US can increase taxes and spending to European levels in order to pay for aging populations. But Europe is already at those higher tax levels. Tax increases in Europe may decrease economic activity so much that the amount of money collected could decline as a result of the tax increases.

Europe is going to have to reduce welfare spending for those of working age in order to make more money available for retirees. Europe is also going to have to raise retirement ages. The United States will need to take both of these steps as well, but on lesser scales in both cases.

Samuelson comments that Europeans see their interests diverging from those of America to such an extent that George W. Bush is a blessing to them since he gives them an excuse to point to for why they are going to disagree and distance themselves from America. This seems very plausible to me. French elite dissatisfaction and general European leftist intellectual dissatisfaction with the United States are of very long standing.

The bigger picture is that China is going to surpass the United States as the world's largest economy. India may eventually do so as well.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 08 07:47 PM  Europe and America
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
2004 May 07 Friday
Immigration Trends Pose Threat To American Jews

Dr. Steven M. Steinlight has an excellent and lengthy analysis of why current immigration trends are a threat to the safety and influence of American Jews. It is entitled High Noon to Midnight: Why Current Immigration Policy Dooms American Jewry

Survey research, plus mountains of anecdotal evidence, reveals a profound change in attitude among American Jews. Opinion polls in the three years following the attacks of September 11, 2001 show a plurality favoring lowered immigration, 70 percent the introduction of a secure national identity card, and 55 percent believing Muslims are the most anti-Semitic group in the United States. It may not require another domestic terrorist enormity for respondents to discern simple cause-and-effect relationships; more ambitious efforts to persuade might suffice.

My experience at the grassroots suggests Jews know little about the history of their own immigration, immigration policy, the scale of immigration, or the engines that drive it. Frequently, all that’s required to effect attitudinal change is apprising them. When I began my efforts, the Jewish media spoke of Jewish attitudes in favor of open-borders immigration as "monolithic;" now it’s commonplace to speak of "a raging debate."

Steinlight sees many changes that weaken the forces for assimilation.

Perhaps the chief distinction between today’s immigration and that of yesteryear is the absence of the tacit and overt pressures that assimilated even the most recalcitrant. These forces have been weakened by multiculturalist ideology that legitimizes and reinforces identity politics; the demise of Americanization programs; the death of civic education; the rise of bilingualism; and the elimination of obligatory national service.

Technological differences also carry gigantic consequences: the revolution in modern transportation and communications allows immigrants to maintain continuous, ongoing ties with native lands, cultures and languages — something not possible a hundred years ago. Many "immigrants" are permanent resident aliens who live in two societies simultaneously but maintain primary loyalty to the cultural and political heritage of their countries of origin.

It is highly unlikely today’s immigrants will be as rapidly or fully absorbed into the mainstream as were our parents and grandparents. The immigrants are different; the country and its social institutions are different; the economy is different; technology is different; what is deemed normative is different. To believe the outcome will be the same under a wholly distinct set of conditions and socio-political constructs is not merely willful thinking: it is absurd.

Demographic changes can happen very rapidly.

Of the manifold concerns about immigration felt by all Americans and American Jews in particular, the way it fuels Muslim immigration is most worrying. The May 14, 2003, Globe & Mail announced that Muslims outnumber Jews in Canada, noting this demographic shift "could ultimately affect [Canada’s] position toward the protracted Middle East conflict."

Muslim ascendancy in Canada is a harbinger of things to come in America, with potentially enormous impact for both American Jewry and American foreign policy. According to the 1991 Canadian Census, there were 25 percent more Jews in Canada than Muslims. Within a single decade that demographic advantage was erased. According to the 2001 census, the Muslim population of Canada exceeded the Jewish population by 75 percent.

CNN and ABC News recently reported a doubling of the Arab population in the United States in just two decades. The number of Arabs alone (not Muslims in general) is already nearly 1.3 million. For virtually its entire history, Arab immigration was primarily Christian and lopsidedly Lebanese; now it’s virtually all Muslim, with the immigrants’ lands of origin mainly Egypt, the West Bank, and Yemen.

Muslim immigration has fundamentally altered demography, culture, and the political landscape of Western Europe. Its impact on Jewish life is disastrous, and it has turned European foreign policy on the Middle East from even-handedness to one that is overtly anti-Israel, if not outright anti-Semitic. Symbolizing the transition was the EU’s failure to condemn the Nazi oration by the former Malaysian Prime Minister. Also shocking was the EU’s rejection of the report it commissioned from the German Technical University on the upsurge of anti-Semitism in Europe. It was labeled as "racist" because it identified by far the greatest numbers of perpetrators of anti-Semitic outrages as Muslim. In today’s Islamized Europe, Jews live under physical threat, something unknown since the rise of fascism.

Steinlight points out that Hispanic immigrants come from Latin American Catholic societies where anti-semitism is still widespread and socially acceptable. He worries that this will contribute to the growth of anti-semitism in the United States as Hispanic imimgrants are too numerous to assimilate to US norms and too tied to their cultures and societies of origin.

Steinlight forecasts that eventually the Muslim vote and money in the United States will cancel out the Jewish influence and the United States will cease its strong support for Israel.

It is worth examining trends in Europe to see what the future holds for Jews in America as the size of the Muslim population in America increases and eventually surpasses the size of the Jewish population. One problem is the Muslim imam preachers who are hostile to non-believers.

Overwhelmingly foreign, and sometimes speaking only Arabic, Europe's imams often have little understanding of their host countries, and their teachings run counter to modern European values and gender roles, say Muslim leaders and government officials. But there seems little chance of any change soon, they add.

Salafist Imams preach messages that sway many young Muslims toward the path of jihad and terrorism.

According to Olivier Roy, a French expert on political and radical Islam, the issue is not whether these men belong to what are widely considered to be terrorist groups - he says they do not - but the spread of extremist messages.

"There are no terrorist groups operating in mosques - neither in France nor elsewhere. Al-Qaeda does not organise itself in mosques," he told BBC News Online.

"The rationale behind the French move is that fundamentalism, or Salafism, may push some youths towards radical Islam and possibly terrorism. Radical imams are seen as providing the ideological framework for terror - so as well as a political perspective, there is an issue of security involved.

The Interior Minister of France wants to train Imams in France to replace the dangerous foreign ones.

The French interior minister, Dominique de Villepin, said yesterday that the country must urgently begin training Muslim clerics in a moderate Islam that respects human rights and the republican code.

France, Italy, and Britain have each deported a small number of radical Muslim preachers.

Britain jailed an imam from Jamaica for nine years in March 2003 for urging followers to kill Hindus, Jews and Americans. It is now trying to deport another high-profile cleric, Abu Hamza al-Masri, accusing him of advising and supporting terrorist groups,.

Locally born European Muslim radicals are joining local cells and plotting terrorist attacks against European targets.

And recruitment is paired with a compelling new strategy to bring the fight to Europe.

Members of Al Qaeda have "proven themselves to be extremely opportunistic, and they have decided to try to split the Western alliance," the official continued. "They are focusing their energies on attacking the big countries" — the United States, Britain and Spain — so as to "scare" the smaller states.

Some Muslim recruits are going to Iraq, counterterrorism officials in Europe say, but more are remaining home, possibly joining cells that could help with terror logistics or begin operations like the one that came to notice when the British police seized 1,200 pounds of ammonium nitrate, a key bomb ingredient, in late March, and arrested nine Pakistani-Britons, five of whom have been charged with trying to build a terrorist bomb.

Writing for leftist Guardian of the UK Jeremy Seabrook affects an attitude of disdain for the British National Party for opposing Muslim immigration and the threat it poses to Britain.

The tale the BNP tells today, in the rundown streets of the fearful old and the disinherited young, is about the spread of an alien creed, aided by the fifth column of an enemy within, and of hordes of migrant strangers at our border. The detail - "islands of Islam in our communities", "a race relations industry kowtowing to the apologists for terror", even "the imminent extinction of the white man" - however ghoulish, is less significant than the narrative of the nation in danger; for this resonates strongly with earlier versions of these islands in jeopardy.

But Britain really is in danger. A growing Muslim population will turn Britain into a place that the BNP supporters really do not want to live in - and with good cause. So why shouldn't the BNP and its supporters talk this way? What is illegitimate about wanting to live in one's own culture and not in a culture that is hostile to one's beliefs, values, and culture?

The Chief Rabbi in Moscow thinks the Europeans were for rapid EU enlargement as a way to dilute their growing Muslim population.

Moscow Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said that the European Union's relatively swift agreement to accept 10 new states was motivated by the need to ensure a supply of inexpensive workers to counter Muslim immigration to Europe.

He claimed this was one of the signs that the Europeans are beginning to recognize that Christians and not just Jews are threatened by the new demographic reality, in which 25% of French youth, and an even higher proportion of Belgian young, are Muslim. "We have to tell Europeans that if they're burning synagogues today, tomorrow they'll be burning churches," he said.

You can't count on the EU's elites to be honest about their motivations. To get a sense of just how mendacious the European Union political elite is willing to be about the threat that Muslims pose to Jews in Europe see my previous post EU Agency Misconstrues Sources Of Attacks On Jews. Jews in America need to ask themselves whether that is the kind of future they want for themselves, their children, and their grandchildren.

If you are at all taken in by the argument that immigration law is unenforcable and that illegal immigration can not be stopped then for a contrary view see the posts in my category archive Immigration Law Enforcement.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 07 01:26 PM  Immigration Culture Clash
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
2004 May 06 Thursday
Saudis Blaming Israel For Terrorist Attacks In Saudi Arabia

The de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia blames Jews for being behind the terrorist attacks happening in Saudi Arabia.

May 4 - Only days after the State Department praised Saudi Arabia for its “aggressive” and “unprecedented” campaign to hunt down terrorists, Crown Prince Abdullah—the country’s de facto ruler—has startled Bush administration officials by blaming “Zionists” and “followers of Satan” for recent terrorist acts in the kingdom. “We can be certain that Zionism is behind everything,” Abdullah told a gathering of leading government officials and academics in Jeddah as he talked about the weekend attack on oil workers, which killed six people, including two Americans. “I don’t say 100 percent, but 95 percent.”

Abdullah's claim is of course absurd. The attackers are the most extremist types of Wahhabis who believe that even the rulers of Saudi Arabia are not sufficiently doctrinaire.

MEMRI relays many echoes of agreement with Abdullah from public figures Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon.

Saudi Daily Blames Zionism for Terror Attacks

In its May 3 issue, the Saudi daily Okaz published an article by Abd Al-Qadr Fares of Gaza, titled "Zionism Arose Based on Conspiracies, and Lives Only Off Bloody Sights," in which it blamed Zionism for the May 1 attacks in Yunbu':

"It is Zionism that extended its hand of destruction two days ago [May 1], as the crown prince announced, on the Saudi lands, by means of killing and of sowing death, destruction and aggression against human dignity in an attempt to shake [both] the security of the kingdom and regional security, and in order to accomplish its interests. [It did this] by [sending] elements who were misguided, and dubious [elements], to carry out these operations that serve only Zionism and the forces of world imperialism and arrogance." [3]

In support of this allegation, the same day the paper published commentary on Crown Prince Abdallah's statements, under the headline "Experts and Historians Demand That the Youth Be Warned of the Plans Directed Against the Region: Zionism Leads Terror so that the World will Be Hostile to the Muslims and Arabs," in which three Arab experts stated that it is most probable that Israel was behind the attacks in the kingdom.


Dr. Fayez Rashid of Amman, Jordan, director of the Arab Center for the Study of Zionism and Israel, said: "The positions, balanced policy, and moderation of the [Saudi] kingdom have gained it great respect in the international community. This does not please Zionism, whose most important goals are weakening the Arab countries, halting their relations with the external world, disrupting their relations with the international community, and sowing civil strife. Thus, we do not wonder that Saudi Arabia is one of Zionism's most important target countries, particularly in light of the positions that Saudi Arabia still holds regarding a solution to the Arab-Israel conflict, [positions] that co

There are all sorts of rationalizations that can be offered for Crown Prince Abdullah's statement. Surely he feels threatened by his home-grown radicals and would like to discredit them in the minds of Saudis by calling them fools duped by some Zionist plot. There may be other motives for Abdullah's statement. But it seems to me there is an obvious take home lesson from all this: Saudi Arabia is a serious problem that is not going to get better in the foreseeable future. The world's growing dependence on Saudi oil is a national security problem for the United States.

The nature of the national security problem posed by the Saudis is many fold. One problem is that the Saudis are exporting their version of Islam the world over including the west African oil producing nation Nigeria.

However, despite repeated rumors, there has until this year been little evidence of organized foreign support for violence and domestic terrorism. Now such evidence is appearing. On February 3, the Nigerian government announced that an unnamed Iranian diplomat was arrested on January 23 in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, after he was found taking photographs of Churches, a presidential villa, the defense headquarters, and the Israeli, British, and American embassies.

The usually reliable news service Compass Direct reports that one of January's "Taliban" raiders, Muslim cleric Alhaji Sharu, confessed to police that he was a middleman between Nigerian extremists and the Al-Muntada Al-Islami Trust, a Saudi funded "charity" headquartered in Britain. Sharu said that the Trust's money had been used to propagate a Wahabist version of Islam in Nigeria and fund religious violence.

The United States currently has an insufficient strategy for dealing with the threat that Wahhabisms poses. One obvious option available is to embark on a massive research effort to obsolesce oil and thereby eliminate a major source of the revenue that the Saudis and other Muslim radicals have for spreading their religious doctrines and funding terrorism. We are wasting precious time every day that goes by that we are not embarked on this effort.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 06 04:46 PM  Politics Grand Strategy
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2004 May 05 Wednesday
Australia To Send Police To Lawless Papua New Guinea

Since achieving independence from Australia in 1975 Papua New Guinea (PNG) has deterioriated and now law and order has broken down as government officials and police have become corrupt and the police are too poor to even do much patrolling.

From the Highlands capital of Mount Hagen — still shocked by the recent, brutal, Sunday morning slaying of an Australian pilot — to the wild west town of Mendi, the journey reflects the extent of the crime wave and general social crisis facing PNG. Here, many areas are reverting to violent tribalism, self-styled warlords are heavily armed and rampant corruption diverts practically all funding from essential services such as education and medical care.


The only reason the police can go out on patrol today is that The Age paid for the petrol. But local criminals, such as the three men wielding bush knives who, earlier in the day, had stopped a crowded ute and raped a young woman, know there is little chance of being apprehended.

Parts of the highway have deteriorated so badly that Shell has halted deliveries, thereby causing a fuel crisis. Mount Hagen trucking operator Andrew Rice warns his rigs are fine when moving but "as soon as the truck stops they are all over you; you are a sitting duck".

Australia is negotiating terms under which Australian police will be sent to PNG to attempt to restore some minimal semblance of order. One sticking point in the negotiations is whether Australian police will be immune to local prosecution. The Australian government quite reasonably fears that corrupt local police, prosecutors, and judges could falsify charges against the Australian policemen.

Life in PNG was better when Australia ruled the place.

Many Papua New Guineans harbour an ambivalent nostalgia for Australian colonialism, when "kiaps", white officers, patrolled their villages quelling tribal fights and heading off the ugly violence so prevalent today. Locals then believed the Australian officers possessed almost mystical powers (although the heavy-handed paternalism of some could sometimes dent the locals' nationalistic pride).

Today, gangs armed with military weapons terrorise and tax traffic on the Highlands highway, the economic lifeline serving the nation's major resource projects. Gang leaders boast they will shoot any police who dare to hunt them down.

The Australians expect their police will take casualties if they are sent to PNG.

As this report from the PNG island of New Ireland demonstrates PNG citizens are resorting to vigilante justice.

Locals who heard the shot chased the thieves and used a machete to hack the leg off one of the suspects, the newspapers quoted local police as saying.

The government of PNG doesn't like having a free press.

A group of parliamentarians of the ruling National Alliance presented a bill in April 2003 that threatened the freedom of journalists to cover the activities of the government and parliament. This attempt to establish the basis for a return to censorship was indicative of the contempt that part of the political class feels for the independent press. A campaign by journalists, by national and international press freedom organisations and by bodies such as the Press council forced the government to shelve the bill.

But Sir Michael Somara, the prime minister and a political heavyweight in Papua New Guinea since independence, said in November that he regretted not letting his supporters rein in the press. He accused foreign journalists and foreign-owned news media of damaging the country's image. Reporters Without Borders did not register any case of direct censorship in this country of independent print and broadcast media. But the weekly The Independent closed down for financial reasons. The Press Council tried to increase its power to sanction news media guilty of violating press ethics. And Australian journalists who came to cover the refugees which their government has installed in camps in Papua New Guinea were not made welcome.

Australia has already begun a similar operation in the Solomon Islands.

The larger powers fear that "failing" states may become havens for terrorists, people-smugglers and organised crime.

That was the motivation behind the Australian-led deployment of soldiers and police to the Solomon Islands last year, after a plea from Prime Minister Sir Allen Kemakeza.

There are places in the world that are incapable of self-rule...

By Randall Parker 2004 May 05 10:45 AM  Civilizations Decay
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2004 May 04 Tuesday
Unilaterally Withdraw From Iraq Or First Partition?

William E. Odom, retired US Army Lt. Gen., former director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan, and currently at the Hudson Institute has told the Wall Street Journal that the best the United States could do in Iraq is to withdraw rapidly. (same article here)

It was hard to disagree with Odom's description of Mr. Bush's vision of reordering the Middle East by building a democracy in Iraq as a pipedream. His prescription: Remove U.S. forces "from that shattered country as rapidly as possible." Odom says bluntly, "we have failed," and "the issue is how high a price we're going to pay - less, by getting out sooner, or more, by getting out later."

At best, Iraq will emerge from the current geopolitical earthquake as "a highly illiberal democracy, inspired by Islamic culture, extremely hostile to the West and probably quite willing to fund terrorist organizations," Odom explained. If that wasn't enough to erode support for the war, Odom added, "The ability of Islamist militants to use Iraq as a beachhead for attacks against American interests elsewhere may increase."

Odom sees Bush Administration Iraq policy as an unmitigated disaster. Strong stuff coming from someone with his record.

Democracy scholar Larry Diamond has decided not to return to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq because Diamond thinks the attempt to establish a democracy in Iraq is a lost cause.

"We just bungled this so badly," said Diamond, a 52-year-old senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. "We just weren't honest with ourselves or with the American people about what was going to be needed to secure the country."


"You can't develop democracy without security," he said. "In Iraq, it's really a security nightmare that did not have to be. If you don't get that right, nothing else is possible. Everything else is connected to that."

Noah Millman of Gideon's Blog asks what is the Bush Administration's plan and what alternatives are there to whatever it is?

Perhaps the best way of talking about Iraq is not in terms of democracy or stability but legitimacy: how can we constitute authority that will be legitimate in Iraqi eyes and congruent with American interests? Elections, even if they lead to a questionably liberal result, would certainly do more to assure legitimacy than other methods of choosing a government, as Mickey Kaus points out.

But his questions beg another question: alernative to what plan? What, precisely, is the plan that gets us to stable, democratic legitimacy in Iraq? Is there one? Does Kagan have a suggestion beyond keeping on keeping on? Would he have reduced Fallujah to rubble, damn the consequences, to teach the jihadis a lesson? Does he think we're giving al-Sadr too much rope - or just enough to hang himself with? Shouldn't he have to lay this out in the same kind of detail that he demands of the cut-and-run set, or do idealists get a pass here? If he knows better than Paul Bremmer how to do his job, oughtn't he to enlighten us?

Millman makes clear his uncertainty as to what the next US move should be. What he and other analysts need to do is to stop asking how to achieve various goals and instead ask what (very modest) goals can actually be achieved. The very first and absolutely necessary step is to develop an understanding of just why any realistic goals must be very modest. Before the war Stanley Kurtz laid out a case for why the time needed to develop conditions favorable for democracy in Iraq is on the scale of decades or longer. The American elite and people obviously do not have the patience for an imperial rule of Iraq long enough to make that happen. Since Kurtz wrote his article I've accumulated an even longer list of reasons why I think democracy isn't achievable in Iraq. See my recent post High Costs And Dismal Prospects In Iraq: How To Derive Benefit? for links to a number of reasons why liberal democracy is not going to succeed in Iraq. Here's a brief summary.

Having laid out the reasons why our goals must necessarily be modest let me repeat once again what is likely our best option: Partition Iraq. There are compelling arguments for partition. De facto partitioning is already underway as Arabs are being ethnically cleansed from Northern Iraq.

Currently the Kurds are far more favorably disposed toward the United States than the Shia Arabs and Sunni Arabs. It is unlikely we can do much to alter Shia or Sunni Arab views toward the United States for the better. But we could manage to destroy the good will that Kurds have toward the United States. How? By forcing the Kurds to join a national Iraqi government that may well end up becoming as corrupt and cruel as Saddam's regime. One of our chief goals should be to leave the Kurds in a position where they will not eventually be screwed over by the Arabs. The only reliable way to accomplish this goal is a partition of Iraq that creates a new sovereign Kurdish state.

I see less downside from helping the Kurds set up their own country than I do from trying to turn all of Iraq into a federal democracy. The Turks will be unhappy and concerned that a Kurdish state will embolden their own Kurds to try to secede. But a free Kurdistan would be friendly toward the United States and desirous of US help in maintaining its security. Will the Shias and Sunnis dislike the US any more as a result of our spinning off Kurdistan into a separate country? Perhaps. But if the Sunnis were simultaneously given their own slice of Iraq to govern as their own country they might see that as a net gain for them versus the alternative of being ruled by a Shia majority.

The American elites and populace are unwilling to brutally put down all opposition and send hundreds of thousands of troops to rule Iraq with an iron fist for decades while successive generations are educated to create a semi-liberal ruling elite. Therefore no deep cultural change will be made that is of the sort needed to cause lasting political changes that would make Iraq less dangerous to US interests. The best we can hope to do is to break Iraq up into smaller pieces that will each be less capable of being a threat and more inclined to turn to the US for help in security matters.

One question I have at this point: Will the US kill Saddam before allowing the new Iraqi government to take possession of him? If the US doesn't kill Saddam then what are the odds that Saddam might manage to make it back into power once again?

Update: Aside from my reluctance (for both moral and strategic reasons) to see the Kurds left at the mercies of the Iraqi Arabs I have one other reason for being opposed to unilateral withdrawal at this point: Osama Bin Laden saw US withdrawal from Beirut and Somalia after taking casualties as a sign of decadence and this emboldened him to attack us. We have to follow a path that will not be perceived as simple retreat. A partition of Iraq followed by withdrawal from any part whose government wants to go forward without a US presence (the Kurds will likely want us to stay to defend them) will make our withdrawal a logical conclusion to a series of deliberate steps to remake Iraq.

The other factor that partition has going for it is that it effectively greatly reduces at least one factor (distrust between Kurds, Shias, and Sunnis) that weighs against successful democracy. Fixing that one problem still leaves all the other problems. The Sunni and Shia countries may still become dictatorships after their initial rounds of elections. But the Kurds will probably manage to make a go of maintaining a democratic system.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 04 03:08 AM  MidEast Iraq Partition
Entry Permalink | Comments(6)
2004 May 03 Monday
Pakistani Provincial Governments Wrestle With Pesky Market Forces

The Punjab provincial government in Pakistan is preventing shipment of wheat out of the province and between districts in the province.

The Punjab government says it stopped traders in 18 out of 34 districts from selling wheat in a bid to prevent hoarding and ensure prices were not inflated, but the move has angered officials of Balochistan, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Sindh. The government imposed a similar ban last year but lifted it after protests from the other provinces. Punjab Food Secretary Shahid Hassan Raja explains, "The other provinces should support Punjab's decision because it is in their best interests. Otherwise, they will have to buy wheat for US $206.9 to US $241 per metric ton, but now the Punjab government will be able to provide them wheat for around $151 per metric ton."

A recent decision by Pakistan's central government to prevent the import of Australian wheat may have been motivated by a desire to make profits from the resulting price run-up.

KARACHI: The rejection of 15 lakh tonnes of Australian wheat by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (MINFAL) — a decision that skyrocketed the flour prices in Sindh to Rs 20 per kg and earned at least Rs three billion profit to wheat black marketers in late February — is now shaping into a major scandal for the Jamali government, according to interviews with related officials, informed sources and documents available with this correspondent.

The Islamic religious party that is in control of the North West Frontier Province demands that the central government supply it with wheat.

PESHAWAR, May 1: The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F) has held Punjab responsible for wheat crisis in the country and asked the Centre to meet the NWFP flour requirement on propriety basis.

Nearly half of the NWFP flour mills have stopped operating due to lack of wheat.

NWFP also grows wheat but its total produce can hardly meet even 25 percent of its requirement. It is therefore showing signs of extreme nervousness over Punjab’s policy of not allowing its wheat to be exported out of the province. One NWFP minister is so angry at this that he has threatened to stop the supply of hydel power to the Punjab if the latter does not lift the ban. Out of a total of 260 flourmills in the NWFP, 100 have closed down because of insufficient inflows of wheat. The NWFP government has tried to assure Punjab that it will not allow the smuggling or hoarding of wheat if Punjab allows it to buy wheat. Balochistan, too, is up in arms. Nawab Akbar Bugti has also threatened to cut off gas supply to the Punjab if it persists in its refusal to supply wheat to Balochistan.

Note that the Punjab government is afraid that if it allows unrestricted selling of wheat to NWFP then at least some of that wheat will be exported to Afghanistan. Of course if that happened it would generate more money for Pakistani farmers giving them an incentive to invest to increase production. Well, can't have that. At the same time the federal government is trying to block import of foreign wheat. In the minds of central planners both imports and exports can be bad at the same time.

Some commentators in Pakistan claim that the central goverment needs to tame those pesky market forces.

Analysts say that a harvest of 20 million tonnes is sufficient for the country’s requirement provided the government can plug smuggling through porous borders with Afghanistan and central Asia. It is also required to evolve a strategy aimed at countering the moves of ‘market forces’ in an effective and meaningful way.

How many other countries mess up their agricultural markets in this fashion so routinely and so drastically? It sounds like the farmers of Pakistan can grow enough wheat to satisfy their markets. But the government intervention surely must be holding back the modernization of Pakistani agriculture. The uncertainty and price fiddling caused by government intervention has to serve as a disincentive for investment in agricultural modernization.

The United States has an assortment of agricultural barriers that seem pretty mild by comparison. For instance,milk products regional markets are structured around subsidies. But it is my understanding that shortages in one region can be met by shipments from another region. There are not barriers to trade so much as barriers to production and subsidies for production. Ditto for the US and peanut growers.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 03 08:19 PM  Economics Political
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
Fallujah Backdown Seen As Sign Of Weakness

Writing for the Christian Science Monitor Scott Peterson reports on fears that the US deal to back out of Fallujah may embolden the insurgents.

But even as the Marines gamble on the promises of an untested former Republican Guard general and his fledgling unit of some 1,200 soldiers, they are weighing the costs of their solution. Among them: Concerns that widespread perception of a US defeat may fuel more unrest in Iraq; and that the Marines have ceded control of an estimated 200 foreign fighters, holed up in the city they call the "nexus of evil" of Iraq's insurgency. "Is it going to be seen as an encouraging sign for the resistance?" asks a senior US Marine officer, who requested anonymity. The guerrillas, he adds, could say: "We fought the US military machine to a draw, come join us, get on the winning team."

Charles Heyman claims it is common sense to back down on fighting all the way through Fallujah to wipe out all the foreign and Iraqi fighters in it. Yet he also claims the US decision will embolden thie resistance!

"Not going in [militarily] shows an outbreak of common sense - it was the right decision," says Mr. Heyman. Still, he says, it's likely to embolden the resistance. Many Arabs now say that "Fallujah is an Arab Alamo. "We are only 24 hours into 'Free Fallujah,' and it is already moving into myth status ... that will do a lot for insurgency in Iraq and across the Arab world."

Let us suppose for the moment that Heyman is right on both counts. Well then, how is the US supposed to defeat the Iraqi insurgency?

Niall Ferguson thinks the US has to be more willing to be ruthless in handling the Iraqi insurgency. Spengler thinks the US has to be more willing to humiliate Muslims. Well, the Bush Administration shrinks from following such advice.

Even before the Najaf and Fallujah fighting opinions in Iraq were headed toward a dimmer view of US forces and of how things are going there.

Similarly, asked whether conditions for "peace and stability" had improved or worsened over the three months before the survey, 25 percent said they had improved, while 54 percent said they had become worse. Nineteen percent said there was no change.

My guess is that the fighting in Fallujah killed enough innocents to build animosity toward US forces while not going far enough to totally dispirit the insurgents. If the US is going to get into a fight that is going produce a lot of casualties among non-combatants then the US should push the fight to a conclusion that looks like a clear victory.

Also, this General Salah, formerly of the Special Republican Guard, may have helped encourage the fighters whose opposition to US forces created the circumstances that brought him back into local power. Are the Bushies being seriously played by the Iraqis? Kinda looks that way.

Update: It is very worth noting what Salam Pax said from Iraq a month ago about Sadr's Mahdi Army.

Remember the days when every time you hear an Iraqi talk on TV you had to remember that they are talking with a Mukhabarat minder looking at them noting every word? We are back to that place.

You have to be careful about what you say about al-Sadir. Their hands reach every where and you don't want to be on their shit list. Every body, even the GC is very careful how they formulate their sentences and how they describe Sadir's Militias. They are thugs, thugs thugs. There you have it.

I was listening to a representative of al-sadir on TV saying that the officers at police stations come to offer their help and swear allegiance. Habibi, if they don't they will get killed and their police station "liberated". Have we forgotten the threat al-Sadir issued that Iraqi security forces should not attack their revolutionary brothers, or they will have to suffer the consequences.

Dear US administration,
Welcome to the next level. Please don't act surprised and what sort of timing is that: planning to go on a huge attack on the west of Iraq and provoking a group you know very well (I pray to god you knew) that they are trouble makers.

Oh and before I forget.........Help please.

Democracy? It can't work in an atmosphere in which people are mortally afraid to speak their minds. Sadr is beyond the US military's reach in Najaf.

Update II: General Jasim Mohamed Saleh has been made subordinate to a former Saddam officer Mohammad Latif who fled into exile while Saddam ruled.

Now a year later, the lack of intelligence may be why, after questioning from Washington, the United States swept aside Saleh as its designated Fallujah Brigade commander in favor Mohammed Latif, who presumably has been better checked out by the Pentagon. A former exile who fled Iraq during Saddam's rule, Latif reportedly returned to Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion. Saleh will reportedly serve under him.

Latif is from Baghdad and hence is unknown and untrusted by Fallujans. It therefore makes sense to keep Saleh in the loop since he comes from around Fallujah and the Fallujans want the new boss to be the same as the old boss.

The vast bulk of the Fallujah insurgents are locals.

In Fallujah, U.S. military leaders say around 90 percent of the 1,000 or more fighters battling the Marines are Iraqis.

I predict a Bush Administration attempt to rebrand tribal rule as a form of early stage proto-democracy. Declare ideological victory and march on.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 03 03:02 AM  Mideast Iraq
Entry Permalink | Comments(5)
Wahhabi Terrorists Biting The Saudi Hands That Fed Them

Writing in the Jerusalem Post Paris-based Iranian writer Amir Taheri describes the battles within Saudi Arabia between the government and Islamic insurgents.

According to Saudi sources, the kingdom's security forces have clashed with terrorists on no fewer than 80 occasions since last November. Some of these seem to have been fairly large-scale battles, including at least one fought on the edge of the Empty Quarter six weeks ago. There have been hundreds of casualties on both sides. More than 1,000 alleged terrorists have been captured. The security forces have also uncovered arms caches that could supply fairly large terror units. Losses by the security forces are not reported, but a recent meeting between the interior minister and families of the "heroes slain by deviants" attracted a large turnout.

Oil money has funded the educational system that has done so much to promote the radical Wahhabi Islam that has turned so many Muslims toward violence.

In 1960 the kingdom did not have enough money for a single state-sponsored school of theology. Today there are hundreds, including three universities producing tens of thousands of Islam "experts" each year.

Who paid for all those Islamic religious fundamentalist schools? We did, every time we pulled up to a gas pump to fill it up. We are still doing it.

Oil money is also flowing from Gulf oil states into Iraq to promote Wahhabism there as well.

But Mohammed Mohammed Ali, a moderate Shiite scholar propagating interfaith harmony as the only possible means to bring peace to Iraq, does not see things that way.

"In the last 10 years there have been huge transfers of funds to Iraq to make Muslims convert from their own sect to extreme Wahhabism," he said. "This happened with the support from politicians in the Gulf states and many other Arab countries."

At the risk of boring my regular readers with repetition: Energy policy is national security policy. By failing to try harder to develop technologies to obsolesce oil we are failing to address a serious national security problem.

Update: Attacks within Saudi Arabia that are killing Saudis are not dulling the enthusiasm of the Saudi citizenry for attacks against Americans elsewhere. Even as they cheer Jihadis who attack Americans most Saudis are disgusted by the Jihadis who kill Saudi Arabians.

"When people see Israeli operations in Palestine and the American cruelty in Iraq, they feel angry and frustrated," said Abdullah Bejad al-Oteibi, a former fundamentalist now working as a legal researcher. "They cannot control their anger and they admire bin Laden, so that is why many people volunteer for jihad. But when there are operations here, people feel angry and betrayed."

The Saudi problem is not going to go away. Hence the need to treat energy policy as natioanl security policy. We can accelerate the rate of advance of science and technology as a way to greatly lessen the problem that Saudi Arabia will continue to pose for many years to come.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 03 02:41 AM  Religion Secular Ideologies
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
2004 May 01 Saturday
Bret Stephens On Need For Israeli-Palestinian Separation

Writing in the Jerusalem Post Bret Stephens provides an excellent history of the thinking of elements of the Israeli Right and Left on whether to separate from the Palestinians. (requires free registration)

Perhaps the most intriguing feature of Sharon's disengagement plan is that it has alienated three constituencies that do not ordinarily find themselves on the same side.

There is the Israeli Left. In a Jerusalem Report profile this week, Oslo architect and new Yahad party leader Yossi Beilin argues that "the worst-case scenario for an agreement [that is, one the Palestinians violate] is better than the best-case scenario for unilateral withdrawal." According to Beilin, an agreed settlement would give Israel an internationally recognized border and resolve the outstanding issues of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem. Unilateral withdrawal, however, "will leave the Palestinians with an excuse for continuing the intifada and Israel with far less overseas backing for self-defense."

There is the Israeli Right. To them, disengagement will embolden the Palestinians to seek further territorial gains by carrying on with the terrorist campaign. In this respect they are in agreement with Beilin. Then too, the Right holds that disengagement constitutes a profound betrayal of everything the state had promised the settlers, everything the settlers had sacrificed so much for. At whose behest except Ariel Sharon's did they take to the hilltops in the first place? Why were they made to suffer three-plus years of unremitting terror if, at day's end, they would be made to evacuate? What purpose does the state serve if it severs its links to the very land that matters most to observant Jews? And why yield an inch to those Palestinians whose every word is a lie and whose every deed is an atrocity?

There are the Palestinians. Given that Israeli opponents of disengagement have cast the plan as a great victory for the Palestinians - a huge concession by Israel with nothing in return - it is remarkable how glum they are about it. For them, disengagement doesn't so much mean Israeli withdrawal from places like Gaza, but rather Israeli consolidation over vast swaths of the West Bank. It means going back to where they were in 1988: Frozen out of any relevant diplomacy.

Stephens splits the Israeli Right up into the security hawks, the nationalist Zionists, and the religious Zionists and explains their different motives and interpretations of events. He also explains how events have led to shifts in positions on both the Right and Left in Israel and how be came to be a supporter of construction of physical barriers and complete physical separation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

George W. Bush's failed attempt to empower a Palestinian Prime Minister to replace Arafat as the center of Palestinian power helped bring Stephens and others to the conclusion that there is not a major moderate center on the Palestinian side that can be negotiated with to make a deal that would stick. Reading his article is another reminder that people quite often have to learn the hard way. Many Leftists and Rightists had to watch the unfolding of the costly and painful results of failed attempts at other approaches before they would be willing to see that the only choice feasible was far from what they hoped to achieve.

Events in Iraq are driving an analogous and costly process of disabuse of fallacious beliefs about human nature. Panglossian neoconservatives and even many Left-Liberals are learning the hard way that their idealistic belief in the universal appeal of secular liberal democracy are quite wrong. But just Stephens describes Rightists and Leftists in Israel who are still holding on to their own beliefs so at least some neoconservatives are still hanging on to optimistic views about the prospects of democracy in Iraq.

I see events in Israel and Iraq both helping to discredit multiculturalism in the West. Terrorist attacks in the West such as the train station attack in Spain are having a similar effect. The claim that the Spain attack wouldn't have happened absent Spanish participation in the occupation of Iraq is besides the point. The more lasting lesson from the attack is that there are cultures and religious beliefs that do not mix well. This is sinking in with Europeans even more than it is with Americans. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's commitment to review immigration policy, UK Home Office Secretary David Blunkett's decision to revoke the British citizenship of radical cleric Abu Hamaz, and actions France has taken to kick out dozens of radical Muslim imam preachers since 2001 demonstrate an enormous shift in the Western intellectual terrain. Just where the discrediting of multiculturalism and "diversity" will drive Left-leaning and neoconservative intellectuals remains to be seen. But these intellectual fads of the 20th century look set to join communism in the intellectual trashcan of history.

By Randall Parker 2004 May 01 03:35 PM  MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
Advertise here. Contact randall dot parker at ymail dot com
Web parapundit.com
Site Traffic Info