The Daily Demarche
Illegal Immigration- feeling the effects.
Two posts in one day (see below), and I didn't write either one of them! Last weekend I posted a bit entitled Think Globally, Act Locally
regarding illegal immigration. That post generated more comments than we have seen around here in a while, with a good amount of back and forth between commenters. As a follow up to some excellent points and personal stories I invited a few of the commenters to write expanded pieces, to tell us more about what they think or how they have experienced the effects of illegal immigration first hand. So far I have received one piece in response, and hope to receive more. I have lightly edited this piece, removing city names and other specific items that might compromise the anonymity of "Babs", so if it reads in a slightly stilted manner the fault is mine. Thanks for sharing this, Babs.The following is from frequent commenter Babs:
Dear Dr. D,
I was amazed to read the "blame the victim" comment that was posted after mine regarding our family's tenure in along the border (we "did" 12 years). Unfortunately, it is not unusual to be attacked when you speak out about the real life results to a middle class family swamped by illegal immigration.
These attacks come in a couple of flavors. You either get the response that open borders are good for the economy, never mind that your schools don't work and healthcare and other public services go in the toilet; you need to suck it up. Or, I had a person on one occasion tell me that I was a "deserter" for moving away, as if my children should be sacrificed on the alter of multiculturalism. Then, the third response is that I am somehow to blame for the situation. These attacks usually start with "you want your car washed for 10 bucks and your restaurant bill to be low but you are unwilling to live with the people that make that possible. You are a racist!" But, the idea that I had it coming to me because I "chose" to travel on a particular public street and was not observant enough to see someone coming up behind me at an alarming rate of speed is really too much! BTW, I DID see the car approach and there was no where to go, I was stuck in traffic. Oh yes, I also chose to live in an urban environment (which, guess what, I did not. We moved there for a job opportunity.) All of these attacks indicate terrible ignorance.
We moved to a city not far from the border in 1985, due to a job offer that my husband received. From 1985 to 1997 I watched a concerted effort by all branches of the media to tell me that I should be ashamed of myself for resenting the flood of illegals into the region. It got so you dare not even speak of it to your close friends because even talking about the changes to the immediate society were considered racist. Once the children became school age and my oldest had a disastrous 3rd grade year, I had to go to work to pay the private school tuition. My youngest was still in nursery school.
I have a degree in Architecture and became a commercial real-property analyst. I was known as the "slum queen" of the firm because I did most of the residential income property reports. Working on portfolios for HUD, corporate lenders and various other large entities I traveled all over the border region inspecting properties and literally going into hundreds (maybe thousands) of apartments. I have been up close and personal with some of the most disgusting people on the planet. I have been in apartments in the city with feces on the floor and children living there. I traveled with a bodyguard! The bodyguard was written into the contracts. Sometimes, I also had an interpreter with me but, in other than Spanish speaking environs, it was easy to snag a school age kid to interpret for me. I would cruise neighborhoods to gather data at 5-8 AM on a Sunday morning because all the gang members were probably asleep. I thought about it many times and decided that I had no problem running someone over if I thought I was going to be car-jacked. I got a pit bull and would take her with me to enter what was supposed to be a vacant building. I have been in aparwouldn't that I wouldn't dream of letting my dog stay in for the night, let alone a child. I used to wonder why these people couldn't buy a $1 bar of soap and clean the place with an old shirt. Okay, you are poor, does that also mean you have to be filthy?
Well, the answer is no. People like to live by people that come from the same culture (contrary to what the media, the gov't and academia might tell you). I used to love to work in Korea town. These were poor people, they had almost nothing. They slept on mats in the front room and had almost no dishes in the kitchen. I used to wonder if they ate in shifts because they didn't have enough dishes. Their apartments were spotless! In fact, I remember going into one building and all the women were standing at attention outside their units waiting for me to inspect them, their shoes neatly placed next to the door. Note: always wear slip on shoes when going into Asian buildings. Well, the job requires that you inspect a "representative sample" of units in a building. As I was about to leave, the resident manager came up to me and told me that the women were upset because I didn't look in their apartments, LOL! I ended up going into every apartment just to make them happy and every single apartment was spotless.
I was contracted to value an apartment complex once. The place reminded me of a series of prison blocks. It was totally inhabited by Pacific Islanders. I asked one of the residents why she lived here, as I knew for a fact that there was a rather nice apartment complex fairly close by with a swimming pool and laundry room and covered parking that charged the same rent. She told me that she wanted to live with other Pacific Islanders so, forget it, she wasn't going to move from this hell hole. I had noticed before that various ethnicities tended to live with their own kind, but this really struck me. I had been so brainwashed to believe that it was the white man that wanted to live in isolation! BTW, the neighborhood that we lived in (comfortable suburbia) had 32 languages represented at our local elementary school. In fact, the people that lived across the street were Korean, next door were Polish, next to them Chinese and on the other side were Cubans. The Cubans held a roasted pig fest every summer that was terrific! My oldest son's cub scout den had 8 boys in it. My son and one other were the only two Caucasians in the den. So much for white exclusivity. I used to watch the Korean children across the street come home from Korean Saturday school. They would come over and show me their work books and tell me what went on that day. It was quite interesting to hear about their culture. To a kid, they all had trouble writing in Korean and would moan to me and tell me how hard it was. The moral to this story is that our neighbors were integrated into American society while still maintaining their cultural identity in their homes. The school system didn't need to do it for them, or the federal gov't. They just did it while at the same time being productive members of American society.
You might wonder why I slammed the public school in the neighborhood in the comments on The Daily Demarche while I seem to have a favorable opinion of my former neighbors. This is actually quite interesting; the school district started importing kids from neighboring towns into the school district in order to receive FEDERAL FUNDING! Yes, that's right, the Feds pay extra for non-English speaking students in addition to paying salaries for a small army of "special educators and curriculum materials". Our elementary school went from the best school in the district of ten schools to the worst over the course of a few years due to the busing in of out-of-district students. Anyone that is familiar with our southern border region will also know that the vast majority of non-English speaking residents would be Latino.
Now, I will tell you about the dark side of the job. That was going into Latino neighborhoods (this is going to make the open border people crazy). By far, the filthiest and most dangerous neighborhoods in the city were Latino. I was working on a portfolio of properties downtown and had hired an assistant. A male of about 40 years old. He was along to measure, take notes and help photograph. We got into one building whose basement was like a slave ship. There were all these Latino families living in units about the size of a small storage locker you might rent. They shared one toilet and a common kitchen. When we got upstairs it was obvious that this circa 1930's building had been chopped up into so many small units that it was like a rat's maze. My assistant literally freaked out and had to be put in the car! On the way back to the office, he quit. We watched a small child fall down a long flight of stairs and, instead of comforting the child, his father hit him. We saw syringes and drug cooking devices all over the place and no one spoke English. We went into one of the slave units and the mother was sitting on a pile of filthy clothes, which were the only thing in there, holding a grossly obese little girl who was naked. As soon as I got out of the building I called the bank that had taken it back and told them to shut the building down immediately before the medi gets wind of it and splashes it across the front page.
Now, here is the interesting thing, almost all these buildings were owned (or formerly owned) by Latinos! Yes, it is absolutely true. In fact, I had another analyst in the firm tell me that the bank should win some kind of diversity award for writing so many loans to insolvent Latinos. While I was employed in this manner a report came out that ethnic minorities were being discriminated against by the lending institutions. I guess it didn't occur to the P.C. police that these minorities might not be able to make good on a loan? Oh, that's right, it's the white man's fault! The Latino buildings I went in to were filthy and crime ridden. I can not say that about any other ethnicity that I came in contact with. I have been in units were Latino gang members were sitting in the living room in the middle of the day watching T.V. I have been in buildings that were so roach infested and fly riddled that I could hardly stand it (I used to hold my breath).
Well, what is the point of all this raving? It got so that I was having nightmares about the buildings. I couldn't stand the fact that children were living under these conditions. I really couldn't care less what an adult decides to do but, to subject a child to these filthy circumstances really got to me as I had young children at the time. I told my boss that I had to work on another property type or I would file for disability. So, I got to work on industrial buildings, which I love, while he sent a team of men out on the next residential income property portfolio. They arrived back at the office in the early afternoon, having cut short their day, because a junkie threw up on himself in front of one of the buildings in their portfolio and they were going to turn the job down. What a bunch of pussies!
Speaking of industrial buildings, man, what an interesting property type. I just loved them. Here is a little factoid for you; Did you know that the manufacture of flavor syrups is considered combustible? Anyone manufacturing flavor syrups has to comply with severe fire code standards. You might think about that the next time you buy your kids a snow cone!
I was contracted to value a proposed shopping center in one of the worst gang areas in the nation. I arrived at the site and was promptly met by the developers. We walked the site and they explained what they had in mind. What they seemed most proud of was that they had designed the center to include a police sub station with a holding cell! They thought this was a great addition. I had to agree! Based on my analysis, the loan was approved and the shopping center stands today. This center was designed for a Latino population with no cars, living on food stamps. I would just like to remind you that this is taking place in the United States of America.
BTW, the L.A. riots were really interesting for me. It was kind of like a football game. I sat in my living room watching TV tracking the action. Talk about devastation. What is really weird about it is that they destroyed their own neighborhoods. Wouldn't you think that they would have gone into Beverly Hills or something to burn stuff down? I told my husband that I was pissed with the gov't so I was going to go burn down the dry cleaner's up the street! About a year after the riots people started complaining about the fact that they didn't have any grocery stores or other services in their neighborhoods. Well, hello, you destroyed them! All those Korean grocers that you hated so much, they decided to locate elsewhere. Hence, the need for the new shopping center with the holding cell. BTW, I understand that Korea town rebuilt almost instantly...
We sold our home in 1997 and moved away from the border. Part of the reason was that I had hit the wall on the culture that surrounded me and part of the reason was that I couldn't figure out where to send the children to high school, other than boarding school at $22,000 a pop. My husband quit his job; he loved that job and had to let it go for the good of the family. He now designs and manufactures the optics for the world leader in bar code technology (making the world safe for illiterates).
When we first moved , I had someone tell me that this was a "very diverse" community. I spontaneously laughed out loud! I guess this person was referring to the few professors at the local university that are Asian! So, I was able to get my kids into an excellent public school system and now my oldest is a 1st class midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. I guarantee you that he would not have qualified for the Academy had we stayed in the old public school system. My second son speaks 5 languages and is majoring in language at SUNY Binghamton. His language education is courtesy of the public school system and the local taxpayer (thank you very much).
I have stayed in touch with several of the women that I was friends with in our old neighborhood. After all, we raised our babies together. Last fall I met them for a 5 day vacation. I could not believe the animosity they hold for the illegals in their state. While I lived there, as I said, we never dared talk about it. Now these women, mothers, have children looking to get into college. They are enraged that people that are residing in their state illegally not only are afforded in state tuition but also, get preferential treatment in the application process. Even if they didn't get preferential treatment, they are still utilizing a finite resource that is being denied to their children. I don't blame them for their ire. After all, they worked, paid taxes and contributed to their communities for 20 years. What type of system rewards law breakers ahead of honest citizens? In our case, my son the language major was born in the state of CA. It turns out that U.C. Santa Barbara is an excellent language school. Also, you can't beat the weather (ever been there? It's a great place to live). If my son wanted to attend that school, he would have to pay out of state tuition, even though he was born in CA. What sense does it make to allow people that are residing in our country illegally pay a lesser tuition than someone that is a United States citizen and was born in that state?
So, that is our story. BTW, I had one hell of a time getting our pit bull to calm down and be a suburban house dog after we moved here.
Thanks again for sending this in Babs, I hope you don't mind the editing. Please give my best to your son and thank him for his dedication to duty and service to the United States of America. I can't wait to see the comments this generates.
Public Diplomacy- a reader responds.
From time to time we receive e-mails that we consider to be too good to keep to ourselves. When this occurs we always ask the sender's permission before posting. The following comes from a retired FSO, regarding Public Diplomacy as he has seen it over his career and what he thinks our future efforts should be.Begin text of e-mail to the Daily Demarche:
As a non USIS (United States Information Service) type looking at what USIS/USIA (United States Information Agency) was doing, I viewed them to be ineffectual. I personally attended a number of their cultural events and typically enjoyed them, BUT the USA taxpayers did not intend that a significant number (or all) attending USIS cultural functions be embassy Americans.
Added to this were the great difficulties getting into US Govt. buildings overseas, such that most foreigners gave up rather then suffer the humiliations at the hands of a US Marine guard and/or local contract guards while having to turn over their cellular telephone, laptop PC, etc.- maybe to be returned when they left (I assume that almost all got their property back, but for some there was likely concern).
My last two overseas posts were the Philippines and India. The impact of the USIS offices in those countries on the minds of the locals was likely less than 0.001 percent of the total impact of the various news/etc. media organizations, BBC and CNN in particular, plus Time and Newsweek. While USIS was likely effective in pushing out the USA message before satellite TV when the only other option was short wave radio, now almost everyone has access to satellite TV and the Internet. Added to this, VAST numbers of people read and understood spoken English, so that they could and still do watch English language TV, available in all countries via satellite.
In Manila, the USIS library was the best library that I knew of in that city, likely in that country. But on a typical day they had less than ten Filipino visitors and maybe five American embassy family members. They had more staff than visitors. While a USIS library was a useful way to push out a message before satellite TV and before the hyper security requirements, with the Internet and satellite TV why should someone submit to body cavity exams to get into a USIS library (or whatever it is called now)?
In the Philippines when I was there (1993-95), USIS had over 400 employees (five Americans, the rest locals) who maintained the radio transmitters for VOA (Voice of America). Then VOA was largely part of USIS, I know that has changed. I happened to chat with several of these USIS engineers often because they lived near me and rode in the same armored van to/from work. These folks had no idea if anyone in China (where their signal was directed) listened to VOA and had heard nothing from USIA Washington about results. They acknowledged that with BBC and CNN TV signals being received in the People's Republic of China (I watched them while in the PRC and Vietnam) that there was very little reason for the VOA short wave radio signal, in particular since there are estimated to be more English language speakers/readers in the PRC than in the USA and Canada. Knowing the US Govt., I assume that we still have at least 400 US Govt. employees/contractors maintaining short wave radio transmitters in the Philippines that send a signal to 17 Chinese in the PRC.
When I was in India I occasionally listened to BBC World Service radio since there was almost no radio in India (only two signals in Delhi, one AM and one FM). But I understand that there are more local signals now.
What State PD ought to be working on now is content and getting it out to opinion makers. I believe that much of this ought to be done via blogs and E-mails to specific elite intellectuals. Added to this is personal contacts with leading elite intellectuals of target countries.
What ought NOT be done are the efforts to reach out to the masses by FSOs, this is not cost effect.
In a few markets such as the Middle East we might use AM or FM radio signals to push out a local message such as radio Sawa (or something like that).
The nature of the typical PD FSO is that they are typical cultural nerds who lack people skills. What is needed are outgoing PR types who have no concerns about being propagandist and who NEVER think of themselves as cultural elitist.
The purpose of PD is to win the minds of those who hate us, not to appreciate art and music.
Also, the PD FSOs really ought to know the country, region, language, and culture of the country were they are assigned. More than anyone else in the mission they need 4-4 language skills* and they need to specialize in countries and not hop about the world from Burma to Bolivia to Botswana to Belgium to Barbados to Belize having a career specializing in countries beginning with the letter "B".
*Note from Dr. D This refers to the level of language ability a person posseses as tested on a scale of 0-5. Three is considered professionally competent, i.e. able to work in a given language (although with the "hard" languages such as Chinese and Arabic 2 is usually the goal), with 5 being a professional translator. It is interesting (to me at least) to note that at the 3 level you can address topics such as "global nuclear threat reduction" but have a hard time getting your hair cut.
I failed to ask how the author of this message wished to be identified, if he wishes he may address this in the comments section or e-mail me. For now I'll leave it unsigned.
(End of post).
Of indictments and Public Diplomacy
has done the honorable thing and stepped down while this indictment is investigated- Michelle Malkin
has covered so thoroughly there is nothing really for me to say except this: if he is guilty, he should pay. If not there had better be a long, loud apology from those who brought the charges. What are the odds of that, though (an apology, not a "not-guilty")? I imagine this will take a while- first someone will have to explain the concept of honor
to those making the accusations, it might take a while for that concept to sink in.
Now, onto new business. I recently discovered a blog about Public Diplomacy called Eccentric Star: A Public Diplomacy Weblog
. Not sure how I missed this one for such a long time, but here is an excerpt from the "about me
" page:I'm a former USIA Foreign Service Officer. I was with USIA from late 1984 until mid-1998. My posts were Rome, Amman, Algiers, Colombo, and Ulaanbaatar.I resigned from the Foreign Service in 1998, before USIA was absorbed into the State Department. I should do a post sometime on why I quit the Foreign Service. I'll stick to a short version here, which is that I loved working in public diplomacy but that my last embassy proved beyond a doubt that PD was not valued at State; and that, in any case, I was increasingly unhappy living with the cultures of embassies and expat 'bubbles.'
Check out the site when you have a chance- it shows a lot of promise.
Tying into the Public Diplomacy theme, I found an interesting report on the web last night- The Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index
. You'll have to register (it's free) to download the report- but here is how the folks at Anholt-GMI describe the report:The Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index is the first analytical ranking of the world's nation brands. Each quarter, the Index, led by nation brands expert Simon Anholt, polls consumers from the GMI worldwide five million-strong market research panel on their perceptions of the cultural, political, commercial and human assets, investment potential and tourist appeal of several countries. This adds up to a clear measurement of national brand power, and a unique barometer of global opinion.Nation brand is an important concept in today's world. Globalization means that countries compete with each other for the attention, respect and trust of investors, tourists, consumers, donors, immigrants, the governments of other nations and the media: so a powerful and positive nation brand provides a crucial competitive advantage. it is essential for countries both rich and poor to understand how they are seen by the publics around the world; how their achievements and failures, their assets and liabilities, and their people and products are reflected in their brand image.
I find the idea of a poll designed to measure the "brand power" of nations to be very interesting. Of course, like all such polls, the design of the questions can skew the results, and of course they don't reveal exactly what all of the questions are, in fact they give precious few clues about what they ask. I was able to find a few sample questions
on the web site. Would anyone be surprised to learn that the few they all go something like this:- Do you think the severity of Hurricane Katrina is a direct result of global warming?- Do you think the Bush administration should do more to acknowledge the impact of global warming?- Do you think the Bush administration should do more to help persons impacted by Hurricane Katrina?- Do you think the Bush administration should release America's strategic oil reserves to stabilize the price of gasoline and other products?
You get the idea. Other than that they do go so far as to reveal that the questions are designed to elicit opinions about the following six areas: tourism, exports, governance, investment and immigration, culture and heritage, and people.
I am sure by now you might be interested in the results of this poll, so here are the top 25 "Nation Brands" as determined by Anholt-GMI:
4. United Kingdom
8. The Netherlands
10. New Zealand
11. The United States
20. South Korea
22. South Africa
23. Czech Republic
The designers of this poll say that:
The implications of the NBI finding are genuinely significant for governments and their foreign services, tourist boards, investment promotion agencies, cultural institutes and exporters. It means that the individual successes and failures of each agency, ministry, company and organisation, and the content and quality of their actions and communications, are inextricably linked with those of all the other stakeholders and with the image of the country as a whole. This means that the nation brand should be measured and managed as a whole, and that treating the management or promotion of any one sector in isolation is likely to be less effective than a coordinated approach. (Emphasis added.)
Now, I am not certain if I agree with them that this poll is useful in a practical way, after all I am slightly skeptical about the questions they have asked. I'd like to see all of the questions and the demographics of those polled, but I doubt that is a possibility. For all I know the poll and the release of it's data is nothing more than a stroke of marketing genius on the behalf of Simon Anholdt, who is author of Brand America : The Mother of All Brands (Great Brand Stories series).
I am still digesting the report, I hope some of you will download it and read it as well- I plan to post more on this in the next day or so, especially on the data they share about "Brand America." I look forward to your comment and thoughts on this report.
The face we show the world.
I suppose it is quite obvious that I agree with the President and his administration more often than not- this is a Republican Underground blog after all- and that I tend to not have much in common with the American left. That is not for a lack of good, or even great, ideas
from the left, however, but rather because of the extreme inability of the majority of folks on the left to have a rational debate, and their dedication to presenting their ideas in the most offensive manner. I realize that the examples I am about to cite are somewhat extreme, but where is the rational voice from the left saying "Wait a minute, we have some good ideas and these moonbats are interfering with our ability to communicate effectively?"Case in point, the first: Nation of Islam chief Minister Louis Farrakhan has expanded on his theory that New Orleans' levees were blown up during Hurricane Katrina, announcing Friday that divers working on the levee break have found evidence of explosives.
"These explosives are from the government side," he said during a press conference in Memphis held to promote his upcoming Million Man Anniversary March.
Case in point, the second: Bill Maher: Laura Bush Like 'Hitler's Dog'
Case in point, the third:BitchAboutBush.com
(an eloquent excerpt follows)fuck you the fucktard, you greedy gas gouging, country destroying, ignorant, lying son of a bitch! Fuck you x infinity
Case in point, the fourth through sixth (warning- female nudity):Number Four
, Number Five
, Number Six
I could go on and on- but there is no need to. If you want more examples see this column by Dennis Prager
(thanks for the tip, Peter).
Is it any wonder that I simply can't take the left seriously? Is it any further wonder that large chunks of the world are looking at America and saying "this is what democracy has to offer us?
" (bet you didn't think was going to have a foreign relations tie in, did you?). Why is it that we can't have informed debate in this day and age, and why is that the left seems to have the larger share of loonies? Granted there were plenty of folks on the right that had it in for Clinton- but I never saw any of them take their clothes off, out an American flag on the ground after defacing it, then walk around and lie down on it. I remember a lot of speculation about Clinton lying and otherwise prevaricating, but never heard anyone blame him for all the troubles in the world.
Having said all of that, there are a number of things I take issue with when it comes to the President and the current administration. The first, and by far the largest, is the runaway spending that we have seen in recent years. I know that the present administration still plans to halve the deficit,
and I'd love to see him do it. But he does not seem to be on track
Next- the issue of the military taking the lead on natural disaster assistance. Why? Isn't the whole point of our republic that the states have all of the powers not expressly given to the federal government? When a state faces a disaster it cannot manage the leaders of that state can always call for federal help- and perhaps military personnel and equipment may be seconded to another agency to assist. I can see no reason, however, why the military should take the lead on these issues, that simply is not the purpose for which our military exists, and it smacks of the federal government imposing itself unbidden into the lives of American citizens. When we see the military of another country take the lead internally we usually start to talk about juntas, and/or a coup.
Why is it that I don't feel the urge to go berserk over these issues, and so much of the left does? Why is that the image we choose to project of ourselves to the world? Active dissent need not mean madness. Democracy is about allowing differences of opinion, it is largely about dissent, it is about the government serving the people, and the people reserving the right to change the government. I understand, and embrace the idea, that there will always be differences of opinion- that is what makes us a great country. What I don't understand is where, and when, democracy in America became defined as the right to be crude and crass, and when it became about shouting down opposing views, not debating them.
I have had many people (Americans and foreigners alike) ask me if being a diplomat under this administration is difficult, if supporting the policies of this President is somehow harder than the last, if the President is an embarrassment to me. I generally smile and tell them that I do not represent the President- I represent America and her people.
No one ever asks me if I am embarrassed by any of the people I represent.
And that is probably a good thing.
(End of post.)
Think Globally, Act Locally.
Every once in a while our friends on the left come up with a good slogan. I am very fond of the one used for today's title as it relates to foreign policy. As you all know I like to comment occasionally on domestic policy, although I try to focus on foreign policy and foreign affairs. Of course there are a couple of places where these two policies collide- primarily along the borders with Canada and Mexico. Of primary interest to me today (and in the past on this blog truth be told) is the border with Mexico. There are really two reasons for this- the first is that we are being invaded from the south, not the north, and the second is that the southern invaders are not just Mexicans- they have back up all the way down to the Antarctic, more or less.
When it comes to our southern border the men & women who have the thankless task of "closing the border" and "halting illegal immigration" speak of two categories of illegal entrants: Mexicans and OTMs- Other Than Mexicans. OTM's may be Chinese or Pilipino or any other nationality- but the vast preponderance are from South of South of the Border
:Mexican citizens accounted for the largest group of apprehensions in 2003 with 956,963 (91 percent) of the over one million apprehensions. Honduran citizens accounted for the second-largest group with 16,632 apprehensions (two percent), followed by citizens of El Salvador with 11,757 (just over one percent), and citizens of Guatemala with 10,355 (just under one percent).
About nine or ten months ago I posted a piece called "The Tortilla Curtain
" addressing the proposed non-amnesty to integrate illegals into American society. Not much has changed since then- except that the Iraq War is still on, gas prices are through the roof and two hurricanes have wrecked big stretches of the country.
So why is it that we are still talking about rewarding the illegal actions of millions of people? From the Financial Times
last week (subscription required):News that President George W. Bush is likely to press ahead with reform of US immigration laws is remarkable in several respects. In the poisonously partisan political climate his administration has done so much to create, the proposals command some cross-party support, while sharply dividing Republicans in Congress and in the country. Equally, as his leadership ratings plummet in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and flagship measures such as Social Security reform flounder, it is surprising Mr Bush is willing to expend political capital on an unpopular cause.
I think unpopular is a bit of an understatement. The GOP may be chasing the Latin vote, but at what cost? Illegal immigrants cost the U.S. $10,000,000,000 a year according to the Center for Immigration Studies
- and that is a net figure, offset by any taxes illegal immigrant families might pay. How far would that $10 billion go in helping the hurricane struck areas recover?
Keep in mind also that the figure cited above is not counting the remittances that are sent from the United States to the various home countries. In 2001- the last year I could find solid data on- over $28,000,000,000 in remittances were sent out of the U.S. (BEGIN RANT: That same year we donated $10,884,000,000 in official "foreign" aid -not to mention the $15,600,000,000 that was donated privately by the people of America, money we NEVER get credit for on the international scene by the way- as GlobalIssues.org puts it: "the generosity of the American people is far more impressive than their government" - one again completely missing the point that the PEOPLE are the United States- not the government. END RANT)
What is my point, you might ask? Good question.
The United States of America has long been a "safety valve" for the poor of Latin America and their corrupt, insipid governments- and even the American Left is willing to admit it. That is a fine and noble idea- but why should we continue to absorb the results of the failed policies of our neighbors- at a cost to our own people? When your neighbor loses his job because his boss was incompetent and the business failed do you take on all of the cost of maintaining him and his family? Of course not. So why do we think it is good policy to do so for entire nations? We have been absorbing the failures of Latin America for far to long- at too great a cost. To add insult to injury many of the people and leaders of the nations we provide the most assistance to are virulently anti-American.
Within Latin America as a whole, resurgent anti-Americanism is having similar effects. It is strengthening the opponents of economic reform, fiscal responsibility, free trade and economic competitiveness. These opponents lose no opportunity to point out that the United States favors all these policies. It is giving new life to anti-democratic leaders who use anti-Americanism to generate political support or deflect public opinion from their policy failures, as in Venezuela. It is making it more difficult to take collective action against murderous guerrillas determined to overthrow the democratic government of Colombia. It is helping to undermine the political consensus in favor of fighting drugs, as in Bolivia. And at a time when most of Latin America’s presidents, including the new president of Brazil, must govern with fragmented legislatures, resurgent anti-Americanism is seriously undermining their ability to pass labor, pension, judicial and many other needed reforms.
We need to take a long hard look at our policies, both foreign and domestic, and our neighbors in the region. Illegal immigration is costing us billions of dollars, wrecking property along the border and potentially a threat to our national security. In light of the President's resurgent interest in an amnesty (call it whatever you want) and the current push for fiscal reform, I once again I propose the following "Five Step Plan" for immigration reform:
1. Establish a more secure employment document- the Social Security card does not work.
2. Punish American firms that hire illegal workers- this is the most important step.
3. Revise and expand the H2 visa category- not just for Mexicans, but for all, and require that issuance only occur in the country of origin of the alien.
4. Require legal workers to pay into Medicaid, and deny public benefits to illegal aliens found in America.
5. Reduce the amount of foreign aid granted to any country by a set or variable amount based on the costs associated with each illegal immigrant detained/treated/deported.
The question is; are we, the American people, ready to demand a change that makes sense, or is it time to take a lesson from the EU and follow in Spain's footsteps?
The Perfect Storm
In the movie by the same name as today's post a confluence of storms created a deadly moment for the ill fated crew of a deep sea fishing boat. In today's political environment in the United States an odd blend of weather, rhetoric, domestic policy and foreign policy have combined to create what could well be a seminal moment in American history, and our relationship with the world. We, all Americans, have an opportunity to come together right now, to show the world what it means to be free and in control of our government.
Hurricane Katrina (and now Hurricane Rita) focused global attention on the structure and depth (or lack thereof) of American society. Our national dirty laundry was aired in a very public manner- we have poor (relatively speaking
) in America. We have cowards
in America. We have opportunistic criminals
in America, and opportunistic pundits
. (Of course, as we have always known, we produce the polar opposites of all these things as well
.) The question, now, is what are we going to do about our problems? The world is watching. It is time to lead by example.
We, America and her diplomatic representatives, talk a great game about building democracy, and the rule of law. We are quick to advocate for personal freedom, and responsibility. We rail against governments that deprive their citizens of basic freedoms and (some of us) criticize those that encourage dependency on the state for well being and advancement. So how do we respond to the devastation wrought, and likely to be wrought, by these storms? Is more government the answer?
This is our chance to show the world what democracy can do, what people who are empowered and encouraged to be in charge of their own government can accomplish. There will be a price to pay, of course. I have seen estimates in the hundreds of billions of dollars to repair the damage done by Katrina. Some of this is rightly the responsibility of the federal government (and some is not, but that is fodder for another piece)- so where will the money come from?
How about if $37,000,000,000 comes from "restraining foreign aid?"
The Republican Study Committee yesterday proposed just such a savings yesterday in their report "Operation Offset
" (note: the total amount saved over 10 years projected by this report is nearly $950 billion, but this blog deals with international issues mainly). How can we save so much, you might ask, and still maintain our place in the world? Turns out it is not so hard. Here is a slightly modified (only the 10 year savings are shown here) table from the report:Savings from Baseline
Eliminate US Subscriptions to the European Bank $386,000,000
Reduce Economic Assistance to Egypt $1,200,000,000
Eliminate Millennium Challenge Accounts $24,352,000,000
Level Funding for Peacekeeping Operations $1,294,000,000
Eliminate International Fund for Ireland $195,000,000
Level Funding for Global AIDS Initiative $7,598,000,000
Level Funding for Inter-American Foundation $28,000,000
Level Funding for the African Development Foundation $28,000,000
Level Funding for the Peace Corps $111,000,000
Level Funding for Andean Counter-Drug Initiative $125,000,000
Reduce USAID Operating Expenses $793,000,000
Level Funding for the International Development Assoc. $1,489,000,000
Level Funding for Asian Development Bank $223,000,000SUBTOTAL: Restraining Foreign Aid $37,822,000,000
We mean well with much of the money we spend in the hope of making a better world. But most of it is simply wasted- in this case the road to fiscal ruin is paved with good intentions, and I have the distinct feeling that these items listed above are merely the tip of the iceberg. We have been throwing good money away after bad for far too long. The time has come for us to reign in our tendency to spend indiscriminately. It is time to wean the world from the mothers milk of freely given dollars. If we want the world to embrace the American ideal of democracy it is time to demonstrate just how, and why, it can work.
The place for that demonstration is at home. Please take a look at the report referenced in this piece, and a companion piece at Taxpayers for Common Sense
, then let your elected officials know what you think- after you check out what they have pledged to do to offset the costs of recovery at the Porkbusters page at the Truth Laid Bear
.Men make history, and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.
- Harry Truman
(End of post)
Paging Karen Hughes...
Friends- no original content today, sorry. I made a rookie diplo-mistake earlier and ate something that was both uncooked and not prepared by someone I know- and I am paying the price for it. Welcome to the Third World- the food looks good, it smells good, everyone else is eating it, so why not?
Oh, right. Now I remember.
In place of my spending a rather uncomfortable time in front of the computer I offer the following from the Washington Times
. I'll be back tomorrow- I hope. Gotta run.Diplomatic strength signals
By Robert H. Spiro Jr.
Published September 18, 2005
"Peace through Strength" is a phrase that has served as a rallying cry for presidents over the last half-century and is not lost on today's "war on terrorism."
Thankfully, in the years since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, most lawmakers have understood the importance of military strength. In fact, the United States has increased its defense budget more than $200 billion since 2000, and last year only 14 representatives voted against the defense appropriations bill.
American's armed forces are maintaining freedom in both Afghanistan and Iraq. And the message from Capitol Hill is that these brave men and women must be the world's best trained, best equipped and best led. Transforming to a lighter and more mobile military is far from complete, but there have been significant steps.
The United States is now militarily strong but lacks strength in diplomacy. The American cause is misunderstood in many parts of the world, and we have not appealed to global hearts and minds. Our communication failure is ironic, because America invented both Hollywood and Madison Avenue.
Nevertheless, America has clearly failed to promote acceptance of its mission and goals overseas. Both President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged this when they announced the appointment of Karen Hughes as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. They also vowed a vigorous response to foreign governments and news outlets accusing the U.S. of being an evil force.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved Mrs. Hughes July 26 and she was sworn in Sept. 9. She will try to convince the world of America's "goodness and decency."
Developing public opinion obviously involves many factors. But in retrospect it now appears the Clinton administration made a mistake in 1999 when it terminated our major public arm, the United States Information Agency (USIA). USIA was merged with the State Department that year, and the post of undersecretary of state for public diplomacy was created.
Karen Hughes now confronts an extremely daunting task. Her two predecessors, Margaret Tutwiler and Charlotte Beers, lasted six and 17 months respectively, and both spoke of constant frustrations in coping with the Foreign Service bureaucracy. This is one reason the office was vacant for 25 months of the Bush administration.
According to the Heritage Foundation, "Hughes will take over a bureaucracy that is in disarray, in a department that doesn't want it. ... In 1999, State devoured and scattered USIA's personnel and bureaus. Next, senior managers created the undersecretariat as an advisory position with no significant budget and no authority over public diplomacy personnel."
America's most troublesome security problems are in predominantly Muslim countries. The United States is certainly not against the Islamic faith, and since 1990 has fought in six wars to protect Muslims. The United States liberated Kuwait, as well as 25 million people in Afghanistan and another 25 million in Iraq. America saved 250,000 people in Somalia and it stopped the "ethnic cleansing" and massive human-rights violations in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Unfortunately, this message has not been relayed to many parts of the Middle East. America does not dictate to any nation, but is keenly interested in promoting democracy, good governance, the rule of law, an independent media, religious freedom, the rights of women and strengthened institutions of civil society.
America's message is not getting across largely because there is little coordination of overall strategy. I hope Mrs. Hughes will not confine herself to the State Department corridors but act as a public diplomacy czar in coordinating many divergent programs. At present, there is too much overlap and many vital outreach efforts are ignored.
Since governor of Texas, President Bush has had great confidence in Karen Hughes. The president has now assigned her to one of his administration's most difficult tasks, and he must provide her the tools she needs. Her task is so important I believe she should be a member of the National Security Council. In addition, Clinton administration personnel decisions should be reversed.
The undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs must ensure our government always proclaims the universal values America espouses -- democracy, free markets, human rights and equal justice under law. They represent the strongest weapons in America's arsenal and are the ultimate guarantors of our freedom and national security.
She said the "way to prevail in this struggle is through the power of our ideas. I recognize that the job ahead will be difficult; perceptions do not change quickly or easily. We don't expect instant results." It is clear the president and the Senate have full confidence in her abilities to do the job.Robert H. Spiro Jr. holds a doctorate in European history and is a former university professor, dean and president. A combat veteran of naval warfare in the Pacific in WWII, he is a rear admiral in the Naval Reserve and former undersecretary of the Army for President Carter. He is chairman of the American Security Council Foundation.
(End of post)
You can bet that the title of today's piece has been uttered a great many times in Germany over the last 24 hours. Germans went to the polls yesterday (some of them anyway) with the results still uncertain. I love this headline from Deutsche Welle online:Americans Confused by German Elections
I think the headline they were actually going for was "Americans Have No Idea and Could Not Care Less That Germany is Having Elections", but we can let that go for the moment. Here is a bit from that article:For the meantime, it's still unclear to whom President George W. Bush will send the traditional congratulations message. Once the official White House statements are on their way, Americans will have a better idea of how they should interpret the German election.
This is one of the things that drives the rest of the world mad- but it is a simple fact- most Americans don't live their lives in a constant state of preoccupation with the internal politics of other countries. I am not saying it is a good thing, or a bad thing. But does anyone on main street USA care who will lead the next inefective government in Germany? I doubt it.
Anyone who is
watching the elections in Germany (at least most readers of this site) must be chortling with delight as Dresden becomes the Florida of this election. It is too close to call and results won't be in from Dresden until October 2nd, and even then the odd coalition building that occurs in the German federal government may produce odd (to say the least) results. As Der Speigel puts it
:The greatest fear of many conservative Southern German politicians may now be a reality: the outcome of German elections may be decided in the East. Specifically, by one district in the city of Dresden. Here, 219,000 voters have yet to vote and could very well bring Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrats (SPD) into a dead heat with the opposition. In Sunday's election, the SPD chalked up a mere three parliamentary seats less than their main rivals, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU). But so far all coalition possibilities have hit snags and it remains up in the air if Schröder or his challenger Angela Merkel will end up sitting in the chancellery.
Just imagine if during the next election cycle we allowed a major voting block, say, oh I don't know- Florida, to wait a few weeks after the election to cast their votes. Imagine the chaos and gleeful trumpeting of the international press at how screwed up our election system is.
I suppose we have to be bigger than that, of course. As the premier power in the world today we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard. In that light, if you are interested in the German elections and want to know more I highly recommend the excellent blog David's Medienkritik
, especially this post: Davids Final Word: Pre-Election Facts, Notes and Impressions
Whatever the eventual outcome of this electoral mess in Germany I am certain of a few things. Unemployment will still be high. The Turkish issue will not be resolved. The same nation that we had to twice go to war with in the last century and which we tried to teach democracy, and then protected from the USSR for over four decades will still continue to trade America bashing for actual policy. And not many people in America will know, or care, who heads the German government. The American people will only ask one thing, as we always have- if we need you, will you be there to stand with us? Care to guess my predicted answer to that question?
(End of Post)
Talk amongst yourselves.
The federal fiscal year end is rapidly approaching, and government bureaucrats, both in the U.S. and abroad, are frantically trying to spend any money they might have left, so as to not have their budgets cut next year. FY 2005 ends on September 30th, and if we are extremely lucky we will have a new budget by the end of the calendar year- but I would not hold your breath. As "A Brief Introduction to the Federal Budget Process
" (from 1996- a more up to date piece may be found here
) so plainly puts it:
The federal budget process is widely regarded as a complex, time-consuming, and arcane set of activities often suffused with controversy, frustration, and delay. These characteristics of the process are attributable to various factors, including the vast scope and complexity of federal activities and the numerous types of financial transactions needed to fund them, the profusion of participants in the budget process and the wide dispersal of budgetary power, and the far-reaching economic and political consequences of budgetary decision-making.
Once we have a budget though, at least in the State Department, we go into hoard mode. We try to husband the money in case we really need it, so most funding requests are weighed, judged and grudgingly approved. Maybe. The net result is that around August there is a call to blow the wad that is left. Most of the time the things that are purchased are actually needed- but not always. Some funds have been earmarked for specific purposes and cannot be used for anything else- like travel money. This gets me to my point (finally)- for the next few days I'll be out on a "familiarization tour" with some other new arrivals. This is a good use of taxpayer money, trust me. Okay, so maybe there is a small element of boondoggle, but I'll be out there showing the flag and spreading the word.
While I am gone I'd love to have you all leave your suggestions (in the comment section please)as to what we should focus our foreign policy budget on for the next year. Iraq? Democracy in general? Iran and Lebanon? Latin America? Cut the whole thing in half and give it to New Orleans?
What do you say?
I'll be back over the weekend. Looking forward to your ideas- don't hold back.
(end of post)
Slate.com today ran a piece by Richard Haass entitled Storm Warning: How the Flood Compromises U.S. Foreign Policy.
Haass is an excellent source for just such a piece- he is the President of the Council on Foreign Relations
and former Director of Policy Planning for the Department of State. He can be presumed to know what he is talking about.
It is unfortunate, then, to see a piece from him that is clearly produced to garner media attention, and to reinforce the ideas it pretends to debunk. This line alone smacks of hypocrisy:The dominant overseas reaction has been sympathy mixed with shock and horror at what was seen by many as evidence of racism and a reminder of the extreme poverty in which many Americans live.
The reaction has indeed been mixed shock and horror- at what the world has been shown by many
. There has certainly been evidence of poverty; there can be no doubt of that. But there has been no evidence if racism- that charge is as hollow as the opposite sentiment which holds that all blacks are looters. Further, poverty is an extremely relative concept. While the people living in the housing projects in New Orleans are poor by American and certain Western European standards, they are far, far, from poor on global standards, and Haass knows that. As Moises Naim recently wrote in Foreign Policy
:You are not normal. If you are reading these pages, you probably belong to the minority of the world’s population that has a steady job, adequate access to social security, and enjoys substantial political freedoms. Moreover, you live on more than $2 a day, and, unlike 860 million others, you can read. The percentage of humanity that combines all of these attributes is minuscule.According to the World Bank, about half of humanity lives on less than $2 a day, while the International Labour Organization reckons that a third of the available labor force is unemployed or underemployed, and half of the world’s population has no access to any kind of social security. Freedom House, an organization that studies countries’ political systems, categorizes 103 of the world’s 192 nations as either “not free” or “partially free,” meaning that the civil liberties and basic political rights of their citizens are limited or severely curtailed. More than 3.6 billion people, or 56 percent of the world, live in such countries.Statistically, a “normal” human being in today’s world is poor, lives in oppressive physical, social, and political conditions, and is ruled by unresponsive and corrupt government. But normalcy is not only defined by statistics. Normal implies something that is “usual, typical, or expected.” Therefore, normal is not only what is statistically most frequent but also what others assume it to be. In this sense, the expectations of a tiny minority trump the realities of the vast majority. There is an enormous gap between what average citizens in advanced Western democracies—and the richer elites everywhere—assume is or should be normal, and the daily realities faced by the overwhelming majority of people.
Does Haass read FP? I don't know- but he has been out and about in the world. He should know better than to say things like:In an era of 24-hour satellite television and the Internet, public diplomacy is about who Americans are and what they do, not just what they say.
Public diplomacy has always been about who we are and what we do- how
what we do is presented to the world, and the spin placed on who we are by the 24 hour media and the internet pundits is what helps shape world opinion today, though. Many of the poor (again by local standards) in New Orleans are indeed black. Are all of them black? I doubt it. Are they poor because of racism? I doubt that too. But repeat it enough times to people who are looking for the worst in us, and it becomes the (relative) truth.
That is why we see the Taiwan News Online picking up columns from the Philadelphia Inquirer. What self respecting America-basher could resist a piece in which an American author in a leading daily says that the reaction of the government to the hurricane will lead the youth of the world to embrace totalitarianism?
If people abroad see our leaders failing to help poor blacks or unable to cope with domestic crises, our model of government becomes less appealing. It no longer stands as a global example for emulation. Nationalism or fundamentalism, or even Chinese authoritarianism become more attractive alternatives to the world's younger generation.
Haass does not go that far- but he sneaks up the edge and peers over with this statement:
It will be more difficult to make the case for free markets and more open societies if the results of such reforms come to be associated with the disorder seen in New Orleans.
Now, it is clear that he is not a free market kind of guy. He demonstrates this by attempting to personally prove the point in the Philadelphia Inquirer article- the one stating that the federal reaction to Katrina will lead some to embrace totalitarian socialism. He tells us:
"U.S. energy policy or, to be coldly honest, the lack of one, is another reality that Katrina exposes. "
His fix for our lack of an energy policy? He recommends that we interfere with the market and drastically increase fuel economy standards. Again, Haass has been around the block and he should know that gas in the U.S. has always been cheap compared to the rest of the First World (in many parts of Western Europe gas has long been near the $5 per gallon mark). When gas prices were low people were willing to pay the penalty for driving large, gas guzzling SUVs. In the old country, where it is far from cheap to tank up the market has produced the Smart Car, and affordable public transport is the norm. Haass and other fear mongers need not worry- the government of the United States of America need not cut fuel consumption because the real power of the nation, the people, will do it themselves.
One of the most valid points he makes is that the destruction of NOLA and the surrounding areas may cause many Americans to rethink our aid policy. He focuses solely on Iraq, of course, but as the debate over UN dues continues (note the almost subliminal use of the word "crises" in the url of that article) and South Koreans (among others) continue to protest our protecting them (see photo), we may indeed see a change in how the American people view our foreign policy- Iraq will be a part of it for some, but by no means will it be the single issue. We might just see a few billion less heading out the door in the next few years as we take care of our own (heaven forbid we see an end to budget pork within the country).
The level of destruction in New Orleans was the result of a force of nature- what happened just before and after that was a failure of leadership at the local, state and federal levels, to be sure- and in that order. Mistakes were made, and lives were lost that should not have been. The cries of racism and accusations that President neglected the people of devastated areas did absolutely nothing to aid the situation, and I can only hope that lessons will be learned from this- lessons in rapid response, the need for better organized evacuation plans and what, specifically, not to do should such a disaster occur again.
We will rebuild. This is the "who we are and what we do" that Haass alluded to. We are not the media; we are not the doomsday policy pundits. Our government will not fall over this; (as much as some would like to see it do) no one will be stood against a wall and shot. Last month NOLA was a first world city with some poor people who are relatively wealthy on the global scale. In a few years it will be much the same. When Bangledesh floods it will, at best, be rebuilt into the same Bangledesh it was before- and that, my friends is both a real shame and not our fault.
Such devastation at home can not but affect our foreign policy- but it is not the end of the world. Our immediate response to Katrina left much to be desired. Our long term response will not. Our emenies and "friends" may bask in this moment of our need, if only because such opportunities are few and far between. Our foreign policy has not been compromised- it may, however, have temporarily been pushed to the rear, and rightly so. We have been dealt a painful blow, and must look to our own for the time being. Oddly Russian President Putin seems to be one of the few men in the world who is seeing the this disaster clearly:
"I look at this and cannot believe my eyes," Russian President Vladimir Putin said when I asked him Monday evening about Katrina's damage. "It tells us however strong and powerful we think we are, we are nothing in the eyes of nature and of God Almighty. . . . We are all vulnerable and must cooperate to help each other."
Schadenfreude is a dangerous thing when it is expressed publicly. We know who are friends are, and they know that we will recover and that they can continue to count on us. Our enemies know we will recover too, and so they do what cowards always do, and kick at us while we are down. That is to be expected. Collaboration for political gain within the country, however, is a truly heartbreaking thing.
POST SCRIPT: As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around. Thanks to an e-mail suggestion (and per the Watcher's instructions) I am submitting this post for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.
Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.
D-Day + 1,460
Four years after the world watched the second jet slam into the World Trade Center on live TV, four years after seeing people just like us jumping to their deaths from hundreds of feet up in the twin towers to avoid the flames, four years after hundreds of ordinary men and women displayed extraordinary courage by rushing into those towers to battle the same flames- never to emerge, and four years after the "Arab street" danced and sang in praise of the attackers- what, exactly, has changed?
Not enough, I fear. Time heals all wounds, but it also provides a convenient hole in the sand for those who wish one. Headlines across the nation on September 12th, 2005, will repeat something akin to the following:US marks 9/11 anniversary with march, silence
Why silence? Has the terror and rage of that day already faded from our consciousness? Are we mute with pent up hostility, unable to find the words to express our continued anguish over those lost that day? Or are we afraid to speak up, worried that we might in some way offend some special interest group? SecDef Rumsfeld said it best today:"I wish we could say ... That this is a time for peaceful remembrance, that we were gathering today to commemorate a danger that had long since past," Rumsfeld said. "... But we cannot. The enemy, though seriously weakened and continuously under pressure, continues to plot attacks and the danger they pose to the free world is real and present."
So why silence? We have been told repeatedly that Islam is not the enemy- it is only that the enemy is Islamic. Fine. And of course the German's living outside the camps six decades ago had no idea what that awful smell was, either. We, the Allies, heaped generations of shame on the Germans- with the result that it is highly unlikely that the fringe anti-Semitic German political groups will ever gain power again. Today, however, we tiptoe around the idea that all Muslims share the responsibility to put an end to the ideals of hatred that lead to terrorist attacks. Muslims in New York, Washington, Madrid, London, Bali and on and on- are quick to assure us that none of them have any idea where that horrible smell is coming from today, and they do not seem too intersted in finding out. Why aren't we asking them-especially today of all days, to look a little harder?
Meanwhile, in our public schools our teachers struggle with how to address the September 11, 2001 attacks. As a result we have text books that say things such as:
"Bin Laden's experience in Afghanistan convinced him that super-powers could be beaten. He also believed that Western ideas had contaminated Muslim society. He was outraged when Saudi Arabia allowed American troops on Saudi soil after Iraq invaded Kuwait."
"High levels of poverty ignored by undemocratic and corrupt governments provided bin Laden a pool of disaffected young Muslims who saw the United States as the evil source of their misery and the supporter of Israel's oppression of Palestinian Muslims."
Folks- the "war" ain't over yet, not by a long shot. It's not history- it is an act in progress. Why are our teachers addressing this with our children? Why are parents not addressing this at home? If you want to tell Bobby or Jane that their puppy is off on a big farm now, go ahead. But if your kids are 10 or older they know about September 11th, they know about OBL- they know about Jihad. Do you?
Sounds like one of those public service announcements against drugs, or teen sex, doesn't it? So why are there no PSAs against jihad or radical Islam? Maybe I missed them, but in the few months I was home in America over the summer, I didn't see any. Why? Because we are avoiding pointing the finger, being sensitive to group identities and trying desperately not to offend. To offend is one of the greatest crimes America can commit- and we have already offended the world.
Since not too long after the attacks it has become cliche to say that the President has "squandered the good will of the world":
"Most serious of all is the goodwill that has been spent so callously by the White House. In the words of that famous French newspaper headline four years ago 'We are all Americans' ... It is difficult to imagine that sentiment being expressed today."
Saudi Arabia's Al-Watan slammed the United States for tarring all Arabs and Muslims with the terrorist brush "without differentiating between the Al-Qaeda organization - which includes Americans, Europeans and Asians within its ranks - and the Arab countries, chiefly Saudi Arabia, to which some Al-Qaeda elements belong."
It wrote: "Washington justifies this generalization by the fact that most of those who carried out the attacks held Saudi citizenship, overlooking the role Saudi Arabia played in uprooting Al-Qaeda ... from Saudi society."
Read that last line again- uprooting al Qaeda from Saudi society. Not destroying al Qaeda, not bringing its leaders to justice- just tossing it out of Saudi Arabia. Great job on that, by the way. And it is not just the Saudis:
Egyptian Researcher Zaynab Abd Al-'Aziz, Iqra TV, May 26, 2005
Abd Al-Aziz: "Yes. And how could the U.S. win legitimacy for this without anyone saying that they are perpetrating massacres and waging a Crusader war? It fabricated the 9/11 show. I call it a fabrication because much has been written on this. We are also to blame. Why do we accept a single perspective? Countless books were written, some of which were even translated into Arabic, like Thierry Meyssan's 9/11- The Big Lie and Pentagate. 'Pentagate' like Watergate. He brings documents to prove that the method used in destroying the three [sic] towers was "controlled demolition." This is an architectural engineering theory, which was invented by the Americans. They teach it in their universities. They make movies and documentaries about it. They incorporated it in movie scenarios and then carried it out in real life. Why do we accept this?"
Host: "My God, Doctor. This is unbelievable! You're saying that this destruction..."
Abd Al-Aziz: "...was a controlled demolition. The building collapsed in its place, without hitting a single building to its left or right. The three towers fell in place."
Host: "In the same method they use in movies and plays?"
Abd Al-Aziz: "Yes, Exactly like that. That is how the U.S. won international legitimacy. You could sense the [9/11] operation was pre-planned because many things were revealed in the days that followed. For example, 4,000 Jews caught influenza on that exact day. They set a timer, and all 4,000..."
Egyptian General (Ret.) Dr. Mahmoud Khalaf, Egyptian Channel 1, May 5, 2005
"It was announced that [Vice] President Dick Cheney- this was published in The Washington Post- Cheney had called the secret phone of the American president, and told him it was an 'inside job, that there were traitors within the White House. The president slammed the phone down and told his aides, 'Air Force 1 is next,' and he gave the order to land.
"They, not us, published these things, and in The Washington Post no less! On September 12 and 13 the press reported this, and the questions were asked.
"But all the questions stopped, and nothing was said about this once the American President accused [bin Laden].
"Another thing disappeared at the same time. We all know that there were anthrax letters. At the same time they accomplished the rest of the goals.
Ahmad Yousuf, Editor-in-Chief of the Washington-based Middle East Magazine, Al-Manar TV, December 30, 2004
Yousuf: "These events [9/11] were preceded by very detailed planning, conducted by strategists who wove the strands of this plot. Some people were probably recruited, and, as has been pointed out by a certain Western intellectual, Israel excels at espionage within the U.S., and is capable of disguising many operations as Islamic. In other words, Israel is capable of penetrating certain Islamic circles, of directing and running them behind the scenes, so that they will conduct operations from which Israel benefits. Anyone who considers the events of 9/11 cannot say that the Muslims gained anything. There's another dimension, which some people may have noticed. No one could have captured the pictures [of the attacks] so perfectly except for the cameras in the hands of several Mossad agents, who were near the scene of events and succeeded in filming the scene so that it will always serve Zionism to remind the world of the Arabs' and Muslims' crimes against America. These pictures were filmed very expertly, so that they would be a constant reminder to America and the Western world that Islamic terrorism is a threat to their culture, their ideals, and their values."
Note the multiple citings of Thierry Meyssan, the French conspiracy not to blame lends credence to the "poor us" mentality- and you can be sure they love the moonbats in America who believe the government of the United States was behind the events of Sept. 11th.
And so, four years after the enemy stormed our shores we remember in silence. If we wish to honor the men, women and children we lost that day we should not be silenced. We should not be afraid to call an entire religion to account for the cancer that grows within it- to be sure we cannot blame September 11th and the subsequent attacks on every Muslim- but we can blame their complacency on them. We can and should demand that the "moderate mass" of Islam inquire as to the smell they have so long ignored. We can and should make them a central part of ensuring that there are no more September 11ths. Silence is not going to accomplish that.
More Katrina- the view from a local.
My apologies for no original content today- I've been working inside of Blogger on the guts of this site- something I try to do as rarely as possible as I am not really a techie. I enjoy technology, but am not terribly interested in how it works.
In lieu of any drivel I might be able to produce today I reccomend feasting your eyes on this photo essay of New Orleans
. All of the photos were taken and captioned (and there are almost 200 of them) by a resident of the Big Easy with a good eye. These pictures and comments are an excellent counterpoint to the media frenzy, I have been reccomending this montage to my diplomatic colleagues all day.
And if you have not alreay done so, please take a look at "Tribes
" at Eject! Eject! Eject!, sure to become a blogosphere classic.
More original content soon.
(End of post)
Recommended Reading from Germany.
We received a good number of e-mails while we were on hiatus, with lots of good links and stories to cover. Most of them rapidly became "OBE" or "overcome by events" in the quaint jargon of the Foreign Service (maybe other organizations use that term too, but I never heard it before arriving at State) meaning others covered them while we were off the air. One e-mail in particular, though, caught my attention.
Three German bloggers contacted us in regards to their blog- The Atlantic Review
. Now, there are many, many blogs out there, more than I could ever hope to find and read. This one stands out because it is not only well done, but because it is the product of three German Fulbright Scholars. The Department of State
describes the Fulbright program in short as:The flagship international educational program sponsored by the United States Government, the Fulbright Program is designed to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries..." With this goal, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 250,000 participants- chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential- with the opportunity to study and teach in each other's countries, exchange ideas, and develop joint solutions to address shared concerns.The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by former Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. Since its inception more than fifty years ago 255,000 "Fulbrighters," 96,400 from the United States and 158,600 from other countries, have participated in the Program. The Fulbright Program awards approximately 4,500 new grants annually.
I don't want to belittle the work done by American Fulbrighters who have ventured off into the world, but for my money the most bang for the buck comes from the folks who spend time in America. Many times I have had folks say to me, while I have been posted abroad, "You are not a typical American, you
we like, but America
, well let me tell you what is wrong with America..." These are usually well educated and traveled folks. Many have been to America- to Disney, to Vegas, to the Big Apple, you know- AMERICA. The Fulbright Scholars, on the other hand, have had the chance to live, study and work in America. In some cases they may have simply reinforced stereotypes they already had about us- after all most stereotypes have at least a tiny kernel of truth to them. But many of the alumni of the program have also ghad the chance to look behind the curtain, and to see us as people, not simply an amorphous ideology railed against on the local news.
That is where the trio at the Review comes in- here is a bit about them in their own words, greatly excerpted:
The Atlantic Review recommends commentaries, analyses and reports on the United States and transatlantic relations and is edited by three German Fulbright Alumni: Jörg Wolf (Berlin), Sonja Bonin (Seattle) and Jörg Geier (Hamburg). We founded this private, independent, non-commercial project with Scott Brunstetter (Washington DC) in July 2003 out of a concern for the deterioration of the US-German relationship. We have sent this digest to a German and an international Fulbright mailing list twice a month ever since.
We hope to contribute to mutual understanding by summarizing in a nonpartisan way interesting press articles from respected sources and different points of view published on both sides of the Atlantic and freely available on the internet.
...we believe that our website contributes to mutual understanding by informing our German readers of ongoing debates in the US that are not sufficiently covered in the German media and vice versa. The information in the Atlantic Review can help our readers not only to stay well informed about German, EU- and US foreign policies and transatlantic relations, but also to confront anti-American sentiments in Germany as well as Anti-German/Anti-European sentiments in the US. The Atlantic Review lays the ground for deeper understanding and insightful discussion.
As former Fulbright grantees, who have had the privilege to participate in and appreciate the culture and way of life on the respective other side of the Atlantic, and in accordance with the Fulbright spirit, we believe it is our joyful responsibility to continue our work as cultural ambassadors and to help improve our mutual, transatlantic friendship.
In my e-mail contacts with Jörg we have both agreed that disagreeing is key to growth and understanding- so be forewarned, I do not promise an echo-chamber at the Review. I hope that you will be challenged by what you read there, and that you will challenge back. When we stop learning from each other we are in real trouble, and this blog offers a great learning opportunity.
With German news leader Der Spiegel running stories like "How Emergency Management Failed New Orleans", "Was Katrina Colorblind?", "Katrina Reveals the Ugly Truth of a Divided City" and "The Downfall of New Orleans" all on the front page of their international web page it is more important than ever that we make use of every resource and every opportunity to seek common ground and understanding- neither side may convince the other, and indeed the writers at the Review are not seeking to convince anyone, they are simply presenting the information and a forum to discuss is.
I hope you take the time to check it out, and add it your regular reads. I don't think you will be disappointed.
Meteorologists disagree about the cause and the extent of …[the] trend… but they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.
Newsweek- April 28 1975The threat…must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind.
International Wildlife- July 1975[It] has already killed hundreds of thousands of people in poor nations…If it continues and no strong measures are taken [it] will cause world famine, world chaos and probably world war, and this could all come by the year 2000.
Lowell Ponte, 1976The continued rapid [change] …since WWII is also in accord with increased global air pollution associated with industrialization, mechanization, urbanization and an exploding population
. Global Ecology: Readings toward a Rational Strategy for Man 1971At this point the world’s climatologists are agreed… how carefully we monitor our atmospheric pollution will have a direct affect on the arrival and nature of this weather crisis. The sooner man confronts these facts… the safer he will be
. Science Digest 1973
I’ve been waiting for this- Katrina is still killing people and wreaking havoc, and of course it is all because we did not sign onto the Kyoto Accords. I knew I would not have to wait long to hear this, and today I did, at a reception chock full of diplomats from around the world, and that scourge of diplomacy, Honorary Consuls (these are generally folks with some tenuous tie to a nation too poor or disinterested to have an Embassy of their own in a given place, and so they bestow these titles, which seem to have the sole benefit of allowing the holder of the title to attend diplomatic functions and to beg for U.S. visas).
Anyhoo, there I was making my introductions and receiving the well wishes of many for the folks affected by Katrina when I caught an undercurrent of conversation. Chasing it down I found a small group, including an American or two (thus legitimizing the conversation) discussing the effects of global warming and the harm being done to the environment by the United States failure to sign Kyoto. No one came right out and said that not implementing Kyoto caused the hurricane (no diplomat takes a firm stand like that on anything) but there was plenty of innuendo that Global Warming (you can always hear the capital letters) had something to do with it, and that modern societies are to blame for the pollution that causes this warming. Further, it is all the fault of that vacation-loving scoundrel “W” that we did not sign the treaty, and that global warming continues unabated and that New Orleans is gone; never mind that Kyoto was first rejected in 1997. This was all being said in a room not two miles from workshops in which the locals burn used tires to fire thier kilns and heat their workshops. Ever smelled a burning tire, or seen the smoke those suckers throw off? Of course you haven't- you live in an industrialized society.
Being the new kid on the block I avoided the fray but took careful note of who was engaged in the conversation (not a single person was disagreeing, by the way). After all, we should have seen this coming. When foreign policy does not take into account the wrath of nature and the capricious avarice of man we are bound to reap what we have sown. The signs have been clear all along. Global warming is the current plague- prepare to bring out your dead. We have been warned by the experts for the last 30 some years.
Or have we?
Astute readers may have noticed a lot of ellipses in the quotes at the start of this piece, quotes dealing with climate change. Allow me to present those again, with the relevant items reinserted:
Meteorologists disagree about the cause and the extent of the cooling trend… but they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. Newsweek- April 28 1975
The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind. International Wildlife- July 1975
The cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people in poor nations…If it continues and no strong measures are taken to deal with it, the cooling will cause world famine, world chaos and probably world war, and this could all come by the year 2000. Lowell Ponte, 1976
The continued rapid cooling of the earth since WWII is also in accord with increased global air pollution associated with industrialization, mechanization, urbanization and an exploding population. Global Ecology: Readings toward a Rational Strategy for Man 1971
At this point the world’s climatologists are agreed that we do not have… tens of thousands of years to prepare for the next ice age and that how carefully we monitor our atmospheric pollution will have a direct affect on the arrival and nature of this weather crisis. The sooner man confronts these facts… the safer he will be. Science Digest 1973
I wish I had had these quotes at my fingertips earlier today.
Note: all quotes from All the Trouble in the World by P.J. O'Rourke.
M y rambling return to The Daily Demarche.
Let me start by offering my condolences to all those who lost so much to Hurricane Katrina, all who have suffered so much are in our thoughts and prayers. I have only visited New Orleans once, but was charmed by her unique style. May her recovery be swift and certain. As an aside, the next time Hugo Chavez offers aid to the U.S. we should take it- he is playing a political game to be sure, but we have poured a lot of money into his country, let him pay some of it back in crude oil, and let the world see that we can graciously accept assistance, no matter what the motive. That goes for the rest of the world too- many countries have offered aid, some even for altruistic reasons. It may make people feel good to help us out, as often as we have helped them, and let us not forget that many countries are represented by the citizens of the Big Easy. We should strive to be humble when we can give aid as well as when we need succor.
Now, back to today’s theme. The journey here has been an adventure in and of itself- only one flight in a day on an American carrier (the Fly America Act requires us to use an American flag carrier if available, cost and convenience be damned), but it actually feels pretty good to be back in the Third World. I know that many of you were great fans of the Diplomad, and that his Turd World piece will long stand as one of his most memorable bits, but I actually prefer this over the “more advanced” posts out there. Of course after spending a few years in North-western Europe the culture shock is pretty amazing- for one thing my dollars are actually worth something here, and for another the beer is pretty lousy. Luckily the indigenous tipple isn’t too bad!
Don’t get me wrong- in no way do I want to trade my middle-class American existence to become a denizen of one of the slums of Rio, Mexico City, Mogadishu or any other hell hole. I am referring here to the nascent middle-classes of some of the third world capitals. For one thing, almost everyone I have met in one of these cities has something good to say about the U.S.; in most cases because they have a brother or uncle there who is sending money home. For another, they still see America as the land of opportunity, as a shining beacon on a hill. I think a lot of this has to do with the aforementioned money- I doubt the uncles of the third world are telling the folks at home about the back breaking jobs they have or the disdain with which they are treated by most Americans. Nope- they send them money and tell them about the 27 inch color TV and the indoor plumbing and electricity that always works. The rest of the image that most of these folks get about America comes from the movies, or exported TV, and for those who want to believe in a better life, entertainment provides the key (of course for those who want to believe we are a decadent country that flaunts all of God’s laws, the entertainment industry proves that too). In these cities capitalism is truly alive and well- whatever you want or need someone will figure out how to get it or make it. Of course this sometimes involves illegal processes, but less often than you might think. In poor countries where there is no social welfare system everyone does what he or she can to make life better- or at least almost everyone.
I have always been impressed by the people of these struggling places, and almost never impressed by their governments. Herein lies the problem. We, that is the government of the United States, deal with governments, most of which the world over (the Third World, anyway) are dysfunctional. We pour billions of dollars into these countries, and much of it ends up in the hands and pockets of the petty tyrants that rule them. The mission statement of the State Department is a pretty good one- it is concise and direct: “Create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community.” Unfortunately I think we lose sight of the second and third pieces in a good chunk of the world.
I have stated many, many times on this blog that I do not believe that terrorism comes from poverty- but I do believe that some crime does. Illegal immigration comes to mind for starters. Reduce the poverty at home and fewer people will flee. What you might ask, is the simplest of methods to achieve this goal? I am glad you asked. Here is my very simplified answer: free trade and the reduction or elimination of subsidies at home. This is where the Libertarian in me comes out- even more so when I travel in the Third World. I understand that we can not simply fling open our markets any more so than we can simply fling open our borders- but we can and indeed should, spend our aid dollars in such a way that will allow us over time to reduce barriers and tariffs as well as lower or end subsidies at home.
Let us use the fictional country of Upper Ickystan as an example. This impoverished country has in the last decade undergone five unscheduled changes of administration, all more or less democratically (i.e. there have been legitimate elections, but for lack of resources and will each government has been unsuccessful in accomplishing anything meaningful, with civil unrest common and the resignation of each administration soon thereafter). Now, let us also assume that we have pumped a few billion dollars into the region over the last 40 years or so, and that there is very little that this country produces that we need or want. Except for hand made rugs. A good deal of micro-credit has gone into Upper Ickystan to help families buy or repair traditional looms to make these rugs, since is the major skill in the country- most of the loans have been less than $500.00, and a good many of these small businesses are cranking out rugs. So far so good. The only problem is that there is no way to get these rugs to market. There are no decent roads, no one in the country has the skills to negotiate international purchase orders and almost everyone is too poor to qualify for a visa to the U.S. to look for potential customers- even if these rugs could get past the trade barriers (note- I don’t know if there are trade barriers on rugs- you can substitute any item you want here for this example, say, sugar). USAID workers and Embassy staff from a few countries are buying these rugs like mad, but that is about it. The few producers who have foreign clients are labeled a success, their stories are told on 20/20 and everyone else goes back to growing poppies for heroin.
So what are we to do? For starters let’s get over the idea that aid money has to be spent with American firms- that is more or less welfare, and Halliburton really does not need more of that. Let’s assume that Lower Ickystan has the resources and facilities to produce cement and macadam, and that Western Stanistan, which borders both, has excellent natural harbors with under-developed ports. Using the same amount of aid dollars that we are spending in the region now we could “encourage” Upper Ickystan to buy materials from Lower Ickystan to build roads that will lead to the ports in Western Stanistan. Our aid dollars will help to rebuild the ports there, allowing the rugs and cement of the Ickystans to get to market, while generating revenues for Stanistan. These revenues can then be used to purchase the wheat and rice we are currently paying American farmers o not grow. As these economies stabilize and tax revenues are generated the governments of these regions can gradually be assisted in providing basic services- clean water and immunizations for children, basic medical care and improved infrastructure. Simplistic, I know, but let’s not forget that the United States of America was built on cotton and tobacco- not Palm Pilots or flat screen televisions.
Okay, enough rambling for now, I just had to get that out of my system. It is good to be back, and now that I have most of my things and more or less reliable internet service (major outage yesterday) I expect to post much more frequently. Thanks for waiting for us, and fort all of the encouraging e-mails and comments.