The Daily Demarche
The old one, two combo.
I feel pretty safe in saying that Americans in general tend be fairly isolationist in their thinking, that is, we just don't think about the rest of the world on a regular basis. Part of that is physical isolation- America is a huge country, and for most residents of the U.S. another country is pretty darned far away. A second reason is largely emotional- our experiences with the world have been less than ideal, as a nation. The first time massive numbers of Americans went out into the world was World War I, the second was World War II. Perhaps for a while after the second World War we thought we had made some friends out there, you know the countries we had bled and died for twice in less than thirty years, but I guess we learned the hard way not to count on those "friends in need, friends indeed
For all that we don't get out much, however, we (as individuals) are pretty much always ready to welcome the rest of the world to visit- every bad teenage movie has a "foreign exchange student", and the idea of someone visiting from a faraway place and then taking a positive image of America home with them is an enduring one. The Fulbright Program
, sponsored by the Department of State, is one of the most successful of these exchange programs:The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is now the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students, and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide. The U.S. Student Program currently awards approximately 1,100 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.
The foreign students who participate in the Fulbright program get an up-close and personal look at the U.S., they experience first hand the everyday "cultural diplomacy
" that is only possible by complete immersion. Then they go home, and some of them apply what they have learned in America- namely, don't be shy and tell us what you really think. For an excellent example, see the group of Fulbright alum over at Atlantic Review
, one of my favorite blogs from Old Europe:...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.
Recently Joerg and Sitzpinkeln and Warmduscher (I am not sure which two they are) have been haunting the comment section on this blog, and today Sitzpinkeln threw down the gauntlet
, both in the comments and in the trackbacks. He certainly knows his target audience- in one post he tracked back to he leads with this quote
:There's no serious disagreement that two major crises of our time are terrorism and global warming. And there's no disputing that America's oil consumption fosters both. Oil profits that flow to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries finance both terrorist acts and the spread of dangerously fanatical forms of Islam. The burning of fossil fuels creates greenhouse emissions that provoke climate change. All the while, oil dependency increases the likelihood of further military entanglements, and threatens the economy with inflation, high interest rates and risky foreign indebtedness.
Umm, I am pretty certain there is a lot
of serious disagreement on those two issues, and I would think anyone reading this page would interpret "America's oil consumption fosters both
" as "so there, you had it coming." Oh, that quote, by the way, if from the NY Times owned International Herald Tribune.
While the above passage seems fine tuned in order to drive folks who think like me nuts, the second trackback finds common ground- the threat posed by Saudi funded Wahhabism. He even goes so far as to drag our friend Marc Schulman over at American Future into it:
dozens of mosques in major cities across America are distributing documents, bearing the seal of the government of Saudi Arabia, that incite Muslims to acts of violence and promote hatred of Jews and Christians.
This post on Atlantic Review is one of the best I have read when it comes to policy issues, oil dependence and terrorism, linking to a wide array of greatly varied sources.
Now Sitzpinkeln wants some feedback from the readers of The Daily Demarche. If I know anything about the frequent commenters here, it is this: no one ever backs down from a great debate, even when it gets a little heated. So go ahead and give them your best shot, after the one-two they delivered here today, I hope some of you will take them up on the challenge. If you do please paste your comments in here too, so that we can all keep up on what is happening.
Chained to a fence? Consider this:
I'd like to start today's post with a promise- after today you will never read the name Cindy Sheehan on this blog again- I may be forced to allude to her from time to time, especially if she does something really asinine, but it won't be by name. In fact, I'd welcome your suggestions for a good nom- de guerre
for her. In the meantime I'll just use her initials CS, which if I am not mistaken, are also the initials for a type of tear gas
After reading the site linked to in the last sentence I have come to think that both versions of CS have a lot in common:Tear gas that you hear about on the news, in the form of CN or CS, is often used by law enforcement when they are faced with a combative crowd. The tear gas is launched in the form of grenades or aerosol cans so that the liquid becomes an aerosol. Both CN and CS are irritants -- they irritate mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, mouth and lungs, and cause tearing, sneezing, coughing, etc.
Try it like this:Cindy Sheehan, that you hear about on the news, in the form of CNN or CBS, is often used by the left wing when they are faced with a combative crowd. Cindy Sheehan is launched in the form of sound bites or video clips so that the message becomes airborne. Both CNN and CBS are irritants -- they irritate mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, mouth and lungs, and cause tearing, sneezing, coughing, etc.
Apparently one should deal with our pal CS in much the same one would deal with tear gas
:If possible stand upwind...The best treatments are air, cold water and time.
Okay, I think I have carried that as far as it can go. In all honesty we on the right owe CS a round of applause today, as she has already started doing what the left had proven to do so well in recent years: attacking it's own candidates
:"I believe that any candidate who supports the war should not receive our support," Sheehan said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It doesn't matter if they're Senator Clinton or whoever."
[snip]"I believe Mrs. Clinton is a brilliant woman who has a lot on the ball, but to characterize her as one of the leading liberals in Congress is absolutely false," Sheehan said. "With her position as a senator she's become more `let's see which way the wind blows, and what's going to get me re-elected or elected, or how am I going to benefit from this,' instead of truly voting from her integrity."
I can't believe that she was able to say that any Clinton has become
the type that is governed by "which way the wind blows"- where the hell was she the eight years Hillary was President? As for voting from her integrity- well, I won't even bother to touch that gem. Too easy.
So, thanks for that at least CS. And thanks too, I suppose for your service as the front for the anti-Bush left. William Arkin in today's WaPO
, put it perfectly: Cindy Sheehan. Could there be a more ineffective anti-war voice?
My problem with Mrs. Sheehan is that as a political voice, she is disempowering, and she has no solutions. In condemning the Bush administration, Sheehan seems utterly uninterested in either their thinking or the possibility that there were genuine and unpremeditated missteps that led us to where we are today. In short, she insists on characterizing the political battle over the Iraq war as merely a battle of good (her and her anti-war forces) versus evil (Bush).
It is the same shallow approach that George Bush uses when it comes to terrorism.
I can only wish I had been a fly on the wall when CS and rabble that are shamelessly using her first heard the likening of their icon to George W. Bush. It must have been classic.
A challenge, then to CS and friends- prove to us that you are not shallow, and that you do have answers and not just slogans- answer, if you can, this question:
The question, left unasked, and unconsidered by editorial pages is whether it would have been better to wait a few years, until Iraq really did have WMD, or to actually enforce the myriad of U.N. Resolutions and carry out a previously established U.S. Policy.
I won't hold my breath waiting for your answer, though.
Go ahead and chain yourself to the fence of the White House, CS, enjoy the freedom you have to express your displeasure, and the liberty to oppose the government. While you are chained up, in the few moments you have between interviews, think about this:
All the prisoners were chained to a pipe that ran the length of the courtyard wall. One prisoner, Amer al-Tikriti, was called out. They said if he didn't tell them everything they wanted to know, they would show him torture like he had never seen. He merely told them he would show them patience like they had never seen."
"This is when they brought out his wife, who was five months pregnant. One of the guards said that if he refused to talk he would get 12 guards to rape his wife until she lost the baby. Amer said nothing. So they did. We were forced to watch. Whenever one of us cast down his eyes, they would beat us."
"Amer's wife didn't lose the baby. So the guard took a knife, cut her belly open and took the baby out with his hands. The woman and child died minutes later. Then the guard used the same knife to cut Amer's throat."
US-led investigators have located nine trenches in Hatra containing hundreds of bodies believed to be Kurds killed during the repression of the 1980s.
The skeletons of unborn babies and toddlers clutching toys are being unearthed, the investigators said.
Still chained to that fence? Here is some more food for thought:
Official Iraqi documents recovered after the fall of Saddam regime suggest a staggering 5 million executions were made during Bath era alone. Over 10 million were also imprisoned. They were all Shias save a small percentage of Kurds. It is also very interesting to note that after the 1991 Shia uprising over 300,000 were killed or captured never to be seen again, but there were no injured. This is very odd considering the logical fact that wars result in many more injuries than deaths. Under Saddam, however, people were either killed instantly or killed in mass executions soon after. With slogans such as 'After today no more Shias' the army had advanced into the city of Karbala. The killed were killed, the captured were killed, and the injured were killed as well. No one was spared.
Finally, CS- if you still have not had your addiction "fixed" for the day and here is a little quiz you can give to your friends while you celebrate the death of another American hero. (thanks to Cold Fury for the tip.) A sample question:
Who says that corporations are “terrorists” and has said “I don’t own a single share of stock” but secretly owns shares in Pentagon contractors like Boeing, pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, and even Halliburton?
a. Barney Frank
b. Gloria Steinem
c. Michael Moore
Answer: C. Michael Moore. According to IRS records, Moore owns at least several hundred
thousands of dollars in stock and has a broker, even though he has repeatedly claimed he doesn’t “own a single share of stock.”
That has to sting too. For what it is worth, I am srry that your son was killed Cindy, and I am sorry that 1,999 other sons were killed as well, just as I am sorry that countless tens of thousands were killed under Saddam. I am not sorry, though, that we are putting an end to it.
Good bye, Cindy Sheehan, God bless.
For Cindy and Michael.
Staff Sgt. George Alexander
died recently of wounds suffered in Iraq, becoming the 2,000th U.S. service member to die in that conflict. To his family, friends and comrades in arms we offer our prayers and deepest sympathies.
May our friends, the loyal opposition on the American left, allow his family time to mourn before they begin to attempt to capitalize on his sacrifice. Cindy, Michael- I am talking to you.
(End of post.)
"Imagine You're a Woman"
Late last month Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes waded into the thick America's struggle for hearts and minds by taking a whirlwind tour of the Middle East. Not many people judged her effort to be a success- she took a pretty sound beating in the press for everything from the groups she met with to the topics she addressed. One of the most controversial (at least in the American press) topics she chose to use to illustrate the second-class citizen status of many females in the Muslim world is the ban on women driving in the Kingdom of the House of Saud. Her audience of hundreds of Saudi women, and a few men, reacted coolly, and Hughes was accused at home and abroad of not knowing what she was talking about, and not knowing to whom she was talking.
Never mind that the women who met with Hughes were most likely not chosen at random, or representative of the general population, or that there were men in the room (even the San Francisco Gate
notes how odd that it). Anyone want to bet that the men who attended were not
charter members of the Saudi Men for Women's Rights
No, forget all of that. Because today MEMRI brings us the words
of Badriyya Al-Bishr. Al-Bishr is "a lecturer in social sciences at King Saud University" who "recently published an article titled "Imagine You're a Woman" in the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" (excerpts by MEMRI):"Imagine you're a woman. When your brother is born, people say: 'It's a boy, how wonderful,' and when you are born they say: 'How wonderful, it's a little girl' , using the diminutive form. Your arrival is welcome if [you are] the first or second girl, but it's best if there are no more than two, so that nothing undesirable happens to the mother. On the other hand, your brothers' arrivals are welcomed, the more the merrier."Imagine you're a woman. You always need your guardian's approval, not only regarding your first marriage, as maintained by the Islamic legal scholars, but regarding each and every matter. You cannot study without your guardian's approval, even if you reach a doctorate level. You cannot get a job and earn a living without your guardian's approval. Moreover, there are people who are not ashamed to say that a woman must have permission to work even in the private sector.
"Imagine you're a woman, and the guardian who must accompany you wherever [you go] is your 15-year-old son or your brother, who scratches his chin before giving his approval, saying: 'What do you think, guys, should I give her my permission?' Sometimes he asks for... a bribe [in return], heaven forbid! [But] your brother avoids taking such a bribe in 'cash' because his self-respect prevents him from touching a woman's money. So he prefers the bribe to be a car, a fridge, or an assurance of money that you will pay in installments [for him], until Allah gets him out of his financial straits...
"Imagine you're a woman, and you are subject to assault, beatings, or murder. When the press publishes your photo [together with] the photo of the criminals and [descriptions] of their brutality, there are people who ask: 'Was the victim covered [by a veil] or not?' If she was covered up, [the question arises:] 'Who let her go out of the house at such an hour?' In the event that your husband is the one who broke your ribs, [people will say] that no doubt there was good reason for it.
"Imagine you're a woman whose husband breaks her nose, arm, or leg, and you go to the Qadi to lodge a complaint. When the Qadi asks you about your complaint, and you say, 'He beat me,' he responds reproachfully 'That's all?!' In other words, [for the Qadi], beating is a technical situation that exists among all couples and lovers, [as the saying goes]: 'Beating the beloved is like eating raisins.'
"Imagine you're a woman, and in order to manage your affairs you must ride in a 'limousine' with an Indian or Sri Lankan driver... or that you [must] wait for a younger brother to take you to work, or that you [must] bring a man who will learn to drive in your car, and will practice at your expense... because you yourself are not permitted to drive.
"Imagine you're a woman in the 21st century, and you see fatwas [issued] by some contemporary experts in Islamic law dealing with the rules regarding taking the women of the enemy prisoner and having sexual intercourse with them. Moreover, you find someone issuing a fatwa about the rules of taking the women of the enemy prisoner even in times of peace, and you don't know to which enemy women it refers.
"Imagine you're a woman who writes in a newspaper, and every time you write about your [women's] concerns, problems, poverty, unemployment, and legal status, they say about you: 'Never mind her, it's all women's talk.'"
Not surprisingly this item has not been picked up in the mainstream press. A Google News search returned only the MEMRI article, and a Google Web Search turns up only one other article by this author- on OurJerusalem.com, also via MEMRI, of course. This earlier piece discusses the terrorist need for "family" and the mistreatment of women and children within these "families."
The reason these pieces exist on the fringes of the Internet is that the MSM and the anti-Bush left have absolutely no interest in covering these stories- they much prefer to think that women in Saudi Arabia would rather not drive, since that is what the elite who have drivers have told them, and they prefer to stick their heads in the sand over issues of abuse, unequal treatment under the law and the systematic starvation of women and children. Why would they prefer to do this? Because they really don't care about the freedom, liberty, equality and safety of the millions of who are oppresseded under Islam. They care about making George W. Bush look bad, period.
So the next time someone denounces the idea that Muslims, especially Muslim women, want to be free, or want to be treated equally, or might want to shed the burqa, and that all of the President's talk is simply warmongering, just say to them "Imagine you're a woman..."
Clear, Hold and Build- UPDATED!
The original content of this post begins below. Several kind readers managed to find the article which inspired this piece (I promptly mis-filed it after reading it the first time) and so I can now call this post complete. Thank you to those who posted or sent me the link. The article is entitled America-haters turn a blind eye to the killers in Iraq- you'll find another updated reference to it below. Note this post has been cross-blogged at The Intelligence Summit and is included in the Open Posts: Weekend Edition at The California Conservative
Secretary of State Rice once again today reinforced my belief that she is the right person, in the right place, at the right tome, for the job. Questioned by the Senate today on an "exit strategy" for Iraq, Dr. Rice put forth the idea that the goal of our strategy in Iraq is to “Clear areas from insurgent control, to hold them securely, and to build durable, national Iraqi institutions." She then stood her ground, and gave excellent answers to ridiculous questions. Case in point
:"I'm not looking for a date to get out of Iraq," Senator Joseph Biden, the top Democrat on the panel, said. "But at what point, assuming the strategy works, do you think we'll be able to see some sign of bringing some American forces home?"
Said Dr. Rice "When the job is done, and the Iraqi people have a land cleared of terrorists, held free, and with strongly built Iraqi institutions."
OK, she didn't say that- what she said was "I don't want to hazard what I think would be a guess, even if it were an assessment, of when that might be possible."
Why would she give an answer like that? Because it is the truth, she can not see into the future any more than Biden or anyone else can.
In something approaching the court room scene in A Few Good Men
Senator Barbara Boxer tossed out this gem
:"Our country is sick at heart at the spin and false expectations," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told Rice. "They want the truth and they deserve it."
Dr. Rice then gave them the truth:Rice said Iraq's police and Army forces are becoming better able to handle the country's security without U.S. help, and she repeated President Bush's warning that setting a timetable for withdrawal plays into terrorists' hands."The terrorists want us to get discouraged and quit," Rice said. "They believe we do not have the will to see this through."
The question is: can they handle it? Even Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind) got into the act
:"We should recognize that most Americans are focused on an exit strategy in Iraq," said Lugar, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman. "Even if withdrawal timelines are deemed unwise because they might provide a strategic advantage to the insurgency, the American people need to more fully understand the basis upon which our troops are likely to come home."
I never thought I would hear a United Sates Senator say something as asinine as this- we should set timelines EVEN IF THEY MIGHT PROVIDE A STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE TO OUR ENEMY
? For shame, Sen. Lugar.
I understand that people, not the American people, or the Iraqi people, but just people
want peace. I also understand that politicians want to be re-elected. It is what they live for. So here is my compromise: when the politicians want to ask stupid questions and make ridiculous remarks, Madam Secretary, let them. Help them, even- provide them with the facts and the truth, and even the opinions of a Nobel Peace Prize winner- namely Jose Ramos-Horta
:...I oppose wars as a matter of personal conviction. But because of my own experience, I also say that sometimes the use of force is necessary to put an end to tyranny and genocide. Can anyone condemn the U.S. for having intervened during World War II, to save the Jews from total annihilation? Can we condemn the NATO countries for intervening against Milosevic in 1998? For saving the Kosovars from annihilation? And moving to Afghanistan, it is often far too simplistic for blaming the U.S. But people forget that the U.S. gave an ultimatum to the Taliban regime to turn over Osama bin Laden. Pakistani diplomats traveled to Kabul twice, to persuade the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden. Here you have a state, Afghanistan, ruled by a regime that hosted a network and boasted about it, and defied the rest of the world about it. So, what should you do? The pacifists say "bring them to justice." Sure. Tell me how to bring them to justice without using force. From 2002
:...Iraq has waged two wars of aggression against its neighbours, first against Iran causing the death of more than 8 million people, then a war of aggression against Kuwait, causing the destruction the death of tens of thousands of people and hundreds of millions of dollars in destruction. Sadaam Hussein was the very first leader in the modern world to have launched an environmental war in blowing up the oilfields when he was defeated over Kuwait. The first environmental war in humanity's history. He was also the first leader to use chemical and biological weapons in the 1980s against Iranian soldiers. Again in the 1990s, biological chemical weapons were used against civilian Kurdish. 20,000 people perished under biological chemical weapons. In the 21st century, are we going to accept that there is a leader like that? Are we going to debate whether he has chemical weapons or not? Whether he has nuclear capability or not, the question we should focus on is should such an individual with such a record in this day and age be in office at all? From 2003
:Ramos-Horta knows from terrible experience that the trouble with tyrants is that you can't vote them out. Like the leaders of the Iraqi opposition today, the East Timorese 'begged a foreign power to free us from oppression, by force if necessary,' he wrote in the New York Times last week. 'Saddam Hussein has dragged his people into at least two wars. He has used chemical weapons on them. He has killed hundreds of thousands of people and tortured and oppressed countless others. So why, in all of these demonstrations, did I not see one single banner or hear one speech calling for the end of human rights abuses in Iraq, the removal of the dictator and freedom for the Iraqis and the Kurdish people?'From 2004
:In almost 30 years of political life, I have supported the use of force on several occasions and sometimes wonder whether I am a worthy recipient of the Nobel Peace prize. Certainly I am not in the same category as Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu or Nelson Mandela. But Mr. Mandela, too, recognized the need to resort to violence in the struggle against white oppression. The consequences of doing nothing in the face of evil were demonstrated when the world did not stop the Rwandan genocide that killed almost a million people in 1994. Where were the peace protesters then? They were just as silent as they are today in the face of the barbaric behavior of religious fanatics. Some may accuse me of being more of a warmonger than a Nobel laureate, but I stand ready to face my critics. It is always easier to say no to war, even at the price of appeasement. But being politically correct means leaving the innocent to suffer the world over, from Phnom Penh to Baghdad. And that is what those who would cut and run from Iraq risk doing. (BEGIN UPDATE)From 2005
-...those who hate the US seem to believe that every wrong committed by an American serviceman must not only be loudly condemned but portrayed as a deliberate act by the US Government, while the systematic and daily barbarities perpetrated predominantly by Sunni Muslims upon their fellow Muslims pass without comment. Such hypocrisy and unwarranted attacks increase the pressure on the US to cut and run from Iraq... For all the present violence, in a few years Iraq could easily evolve into a peaceful and democratic country. Whether that transpires ultimately rests in the hands of the millions of Iraqis. But they cannot succeed if they are abandoned. And the brave, young American soldiers whom we today see cruising the treacherous streets of Iraq, sometimes battling the terrorists, sometimes conversing with ordinary Iraqis, will be remembered as the heroes who made this possible.
Ramos-Horta has is exactly right. It is up to the Iraqi's, but they need a little help from their friends. And right now the best friend they ahve is the American soldier (meaning all our forces). And those soldiers and their Iraqi friends and their mission need our support, for America's young men and women in Iraq represent all of us. Many too be sure are from the lower or middle class. Few are members of the "American Aristocracy"- it has been a long time since a Kennedy went to war, and is likely to be longer yet. Some went to "State" universities and some went to West Point or the other service academies- elite educational institutions of the highest caliber. They are America- they are us. But they are something more than us- they are us distilled. Ramos-Horta closes with the following:For all the present violence, in a few years Iraq could easily evolve into a peaceful and democratic country. Whether that transpires ultimately rests in the hands of the millions of Iraqis. But they cannot succeed if they are abandoned. And the brave, young American soldiers whom we today see cruising the treacherous streets of Iraq, sometimes battling the terrorists, sometimes conversing with ordinary Iraqis, will be remembered as the heroes who made this possible. (END UPDATE)
And so we will continue to clear, hold and build. Because just like our Nobel Prize winning friend, we too understand that there are worse things than war. Iraqis want to be free, and they want peace. Our troops want to come home, and we want them to come home, alive and well. But the people of Iraq and indeed the world, depend on their mission being accomplished. The people of Iraq also want justice- perhaps justice more than anything else- and here I'll repeat Ramos-Horta's challenge to the anti-war left: tell me how to bring those who are need of being brought to justice to that justice without using force. We'd all love to see it happen.
(End of post.)
Return of "the perfect dictatorship"?
Not many political parties stay in power for over seven decades- even the Soviets didn't last that long- and even fewer remain in power for so long in a "democracy." One party, however, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional
(PRI) (The Institutional Revolutionary Party- I love that name) managed to do just that . And they did it within spitting distance of the United States. Mexico spent more than seventy years of the last decade under a corrupt, repressive regime- and it appears that they may just be poised to vote that same party back into power this summer. I find it somewhat ironic that on the eve of yet another historic vote
in Iraq to move towards democracy one of our nearest neighbor's is about to backpedal.
In 2000, when Vicente Fox's coalition party (Partido Accion Nacional- PAN- the National Action Party) defeated the PRI many saw it as the end to that party in Mexico. President Bush broke with long standing tradition and visited Mexico on his first trip outside of the U.S., and not Canada (pissed the Canucks off, too). During that visit in February of 2001 President made the following remarks
:We also talked about what we can do together to extend the benefits of freedom and prosperity throughout the entire hemisphere. I told President Fox that building a hemisphere of freedom will be a fundamental commitment of my administration. We both look forward to discussing these ideas with other hemispheric leaders in Quebec in April at the Summit of the Americas.
President Fox, his government and all of Latin America were looking forward to an era of hemispheric development the likes of which had never been seen. The severely dysfunctional immigration policy of the United States seemed destined for overhaul. Democracy was indeed on the march, and prosperity for many more people a real possibility. However, reading the full text of the remarks of that day again now, I am struck by the apparent foreshadowing of a question by one of the reporters present:What is the message that you want to send right now, what does the United States want to send to the world as a message with the new bombing of Iraq? And, above all, why, Mr. Bush, at this point, when you are establishing a dialogue with the President of Mexico? Why? Is this a beginning of a new war?
Now, I do not think that at that moment the message was that we were at the "beginning of a new war." But eight months later we were
at the beginning of a new war, a war that is ongoing, and expanding. The effects of 9-11 were, and continue to be, long reaching. Our relationship with President Fox's fragile new government was one of the first foreign policy casualties of the attacks.
Suddenly Mexico's porous border became much more than a nuisance for those living along that same border, and the image of illegal aliens took a dark turn. I, for one, have taken a hard line stand when it comes to closing the border as tightly as humanly possible, if for no other reason than this- if a dirt farmer from Chiapas can slip past the border patrol how hard would it be for a team of even semi-trained terrorists to do the same?
This change in attitude towards Mexico and policies of immigration reform played a significant part in the failure of President Fox's coalition to make real change in Mexico (the remaining PRI politicians in office helped- they once even denied Fox permission to leave Mexico
to visit the United Sates). Fox had been seen by many in Mexico, and indeed throughout Latin America and even the United States, as having the ear of the American President. Immigration accords between the two conservative businessmen appeared to be certain. After 9-11, Fox found himself facing a six year term with no possibility for re-election (not allowed under Mexican election law), and without the possibility of an immigration accord with the U.S. He immediately became a lame-duck president. In the last two years the PRI have made major comebacks in Mexico, particularly along the border where they now control the entire region apart form Baja California.
Why should we care, you might ask? How about this, from The World Fact Book:
Mexico has a free market economy that recently entered the trillion dollar class. It contains a mixture of modern and outmoded industry and agriculture, increasingly dominated by the private sector. Recent administrations have expanded competition in seaports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity generation, natural gas distribution, and airports. Per capita income is one-fourth that of the US; income distribution remains highly unequal. Trade with the US and Canada has tripled since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994. Mexico has 12 free trade agreements with over 40 countries including, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, the European Free Trade Area, and Japan, putting more than 90% of trade under free trade agreements. The government is cognizant of the need to upgrade infrastructure, modernize the tax system and labor laws, and provide incentives to invest in the energy sector, but progress is slow.
Progress, my friends, is slow. And as slow as it has been it may soon come to halt. Soon after the elections which toppled the PRI The Economist ran a piece entitled "Revolution ends, change begins" , in which they described the PRI as:
...not so much a strict father as a rich, if whimsical, uncle. It co-opted trade unions and their block votes by lavishing money and power on their leaders. It bought the peasants eternal gratitude by breaking up huge plantations and handing out millions of small tracts of land. Instead of censoring the press, it kept newspapers afloat- and loyal- with cheap newsprint, floods of government advertising, and generous gifts to journalists. It was the greatest patron of the arts. Sometimes it even funded opposition political parties, both to give its critics a little space to vent their feelings, and to make sure they stayed divided. Its rule was based on collaboration, not coercion...
Mexico thus became what Mario Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian novelist, in 1990 called a "perfect dictatorship." It looked like a democracy, headed by a president who could not be re-elected, and equipped with all the institutional bells and whistles usually found in democracies.
The very sad fact may just be that the Fox and his coalition were a flash in the pan (no pun intended) and that the revolution really has been institutionalized in Mexico. Should the PRI regain control of our neighbor to the south I have little doubt that there will soon be a return to the corrupt practices of the past. This will mean several things to the United States:
- A probable increase in illegal immigration from Mexico: the PRI had seventy years to modernize Mexico and failed. Having thwarted Fox and the PAN, what real incentive do they have to make progress now?
- An increased threat along our southern border from those who mean to do us harm: any increase in illegal aliens looking to pick fruit means stretching the border patrol ever thinner. Mix into that corrupt officials willing to look the other way as cargo moves through their region, or to offer legitimate documents in false names, and the issue become apparent.
- Democracy in our hemisphere will have suffered a blow- sure, the PRI might be legitimately voted back into power. It happens in Egypt all the time, right?
I do not blame what has happened on Mexico over the last six years solely on September 11th and our resulting shift of focus in our foreign policy; but those events certainly had something to do with the current political situation to o ur immediate south. As Mexico gears up for the July 2006 elections it will behoove us to pay attention. Regardless of the outcome, we will have to live with a few facts- we share a huge border with the Third World where we meet Mexico, millions of Mexicans live in the U.S. both legally and illegally, and when we make promises or discuss our ideology Mexicans on both sides of the border pay attention. We need to do the same.
I have fallen behind in my blogging this week while working on the technical side of the site. I don't know why I have not learned to let well enough alone. Here are a few things I wanted to address and have not:
-First- hat tip to Geerwynn for pointing me in the direction of One Cosmos
- a fascinating blog described in it's masthead as:Exploring the Intersection of Parapolitics, Biocosmology, Developmental Psychoanalysis, Transdimensional Anthropology, World Historical Evolution, Advanced Leisure Studies, Post-Primate Theology, Overmental Mysticism, Cognitive Onanism, and the Bo Diddley Beat
With posts titled Good Girls Gone Wild: Leftists and Their Devout Amorality
how can this blog go wrong? Here is a brief taste:Morality in and of itself is neither moral nor immmoral. Sometimes--perhaps more often than not--a moral system can actually be a source of great evil. One of the things that sets human beings apart from animals is that we cannot avoid making moral distinctions. There seems to be a built in need to distinguish between right and wrong. What is more, there are very few people, no matter how evil, who actually believe they are doing wrong. Even Hitler, after all, believed he was doing a great good by ridding the world of "Jewish blood."
I'll be spending a good bit of time on this blog, I think.
-Next, Al Gore gave a pretty good speech
the other day at We Media (thanks, Peter, for the tip)- he actually voiced many of the same concerns I have- he is concerned about the state of public discourse (so am I!), he is concerned about the influence non-stop media coverage of certain events has on our collective psyche (so am I!), he is concerned about the political literacy of youth today (so am I!), he is concerned no no-one will watch his new TV channel (so am ...?). Ok- It was a a pretty good speech until it became an infomercial. Oh well, it is Al Gore. What can you expect? Good luck Al, keep plugging away- something is bound to work out for you, but you are right, probably better to forget the whole being elected President thing
-There has been much ado about U/S Karen Hughes and her tour of the Middle East. It was, it seems, a baptism by fire of sorts. One line in the reporting by the Opinion Journal
really jumped out at me:In Ankara, the U.S. embassy negligently arranged a meeting with a left-wing women's group; they blasted her with familiar blather about the supposed impossibility of exporting democracy through war and references to Cindy Sheehan.
Now I know that I have been critical of our PD efforts over the last year, but arranging a meeting with the very people
we most need to show the light does not strike me as negligent. A world tour of the echo chamber would have been a waste of the tax-payers dollar. I am glad that Hughes met with those who are friendly or inclined to be friendly to us, we need to pay attention to them. But more than anything else we need to bridge the gap between the type of folks she met with in Turkey and ourselves. Cindy Sheehan is a grieving mother who is most likely being used by the extreme left- but she is also a symbol of the freedom all Americans have. Maybe is it is just me, but I don't recall any news stories about Muslim women openly challenging any Muslim leader- ever.
Was that meeting tough? Sure it was. Welcome to the big leagues, Ms. Hughes.
-Do I even want to touch the "Bush hears God tell him to wage war" drivel that is out there? Not really. Mark Steyn has done it better than I could
-Finally, and I hope you are still with me here, Heavy Handed Politics ran a piece the other day entitled EU's KISSIN' COUSIN
about the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America Prosperity Agenda
. I hope you will take the time to read his post and the document I (and Heavy Handed) have linked to on the White House web site, as well as some of the others he links to. I will be following up on this single issue with a post of it's own shortly. Mexico is headed into an election season
, and you can bet that Mexicans in the U.S.
are paying attention. The rest of us should be too.
-Finally, today's sign the end times are near- while watching images of the destruction and chaos in Pakistan on CNN during lunch today an ultra-liberal colleague turned to the group and said "No matter how bad it was in New Orleans at least those poor folks were in America. These people (points to TV) are still going to be in Pakistan if they can relocate." I am sure he did not mean that the way I heard it, but still, maybe he gets it, after all.
(End of linkfest.)
Comments for the below post.
I have made some changes behind the scenes to the template of the blog- said changes wiped out the comments left in the past. I am pasting in below the most recent comments- luckily I had that comment window open at the time. My sincere apologies to all who have left such wonderful comments previously. If it is any small consolation, when using the free Haloscan software they are not permanently archived.
Begin comments left:I don't think there is a way to compare the fight we are in now with any that we have been in before. This is something new and the way we have to fight it is new.It is going to take a terrible resolve to win this thing, and I'm afraid that we're going to have to make most of the major wins in the next three years, because President Bush leaves the WH then and who knows who will take his place.I'm not the least bit worried about the resolve of the American people, the great majority of them have more than what it takes, I'm worried about the weak kneed politicians and the petty bureaucrats who are already spending most of their time bitting at the ankles of the man in the fight.
Tina 10.10.05 - 10:43 pmDid liberals ever wholeheartedly 'join the fight' against Japan? They certainly started carping against the decision to drop the bomb after the fact, a campaign which continues to this day, but what about at the time?
ZF 10.11.05 - 2:04 amWith no disrespect intended, I don't know how useful it is to seek historical analogies for our present conflict unless that can give us some insight into formulating a stategy for eliminating the forces of radical Islam. To the extent that such analogies might be useful, we might consider the example of the Thugee cult in India. The British solved the problem by a policy of "identify and exterminate." To some extent we are following such a course of action, but there are a lot of people who openly praise and support the goals and tactics of radical Islam who remain untouched. Perhaps we should reconsider our aversion to covert assasinations and put that game plan into action.
tcobb 10.11.05 - 10:16 amDr D, the ultimate extension of your analogy is Kaaba:Islamofascism::Home Islands:Shintofascism. And 60 years later, we do not need to island-hop to get to the other side's center of gravity. Are you really implying that we need to make the Haram ash-Sharif into a glass parking lot in order to win this thing?
JMjohn mosby 10.11.05 - 2:07 pmI see JM didn't fool around and got right to the chase. I think 2 big reasons why the administration is avoiding a comparision between Islamic fascism and Nipponese fascism is first the obvious point that the WoT is taking much longer. Applying that timeline to this war (WoT), it is Janurary '46 and we havn't won yet. In a war that is MUCH smaller in both geography and resources.Second is that the US Japan conflict was ended by atomic bombs. The Left has attempted to rewrite history by claiming the bombs were not needed. So far a lot of claims, but all the evidence shows Japan would NOT have surrendered without the use of atomic bombs. So back to our timeline where without the Atomic bombs, the US Army would have spent Janurary of '46 fighting and dying on the kyoto plains. The butchers bill on both sides would have been in the millions. So naturally, comparing the Pacific campaign to the Battle of Iran and WW2 to the WoT leads one to the logical conclusion that Nuclear weapons are neccessary for a sucessful conclusion to the WoT.Nobody wants to go there. Especially this administration. Iran may not give us a choice. If Hitler, Stalin or Tojo had an atomic bomb in '45, the USA would NOT have won WW2.BTW, latly I have started to agree with the POV that WW1, WW2 and the 'Cold war' are all part of the same conflict. Socialism vs Capitalism. From about 1914 to 1989. Just different areas were fought over at different times. Sort of like the 30 years war. Sir Charles Omen said that is is impossible to draw distinct lines in history, that one poeriod blends into another. I don't think that is 100% accurate, but it is more right then wrong.
Stehpinkeln 10.11.05 - 5:14 pmZF, yes, they did. It was the conservatives of that day who were anti-war. The USA was a socialist as it every was or ever will be. The Conservatives wanted to just let the 'furreners' kill each other.It was the blend of 'Internationalism' of the Socialists and 'isolantionism' of the Capitalists that led to Dulles's theory of containment. Remember the guys who help set up the UN considered it a first step to a World State, which would have been Socialist. Remember they were all new dealers recoiling from a horrible recession created by unrestrained capitalism. So the Cold war was born out of a desire by the American left to spread the joys of Democratic Socialism combined with the American right's unwilliness for more foreign adventures. http://www.aei.org/publications/pubID.19912,filter.all/pub_detail.aspA lengthy but excellent article by Charles Krauthammer. He touches on the roots of the cold war in it.Remember the Cold war was a result of Turmans reluctance to use the Atomic bomb while ONLY the USA had them. From 1946 thru 1947 there was nothing to prevent Truman from nuking Moscow and putting an end to Communism right then and there. He would also have save a few million lives by doing so, but the left has never let bloodshed come between them and their domga.
Stehpinkeln 10.11.05 - 5:29 pm
With all due respect.
Being a conservative, and a member of the Republican Underground in the State Department, I frequently find myself at odds with my colleagues when it comes to the President and the policies of his two administrations. I am not, however, beholden to every idea that the President has. Now, I am nowhere near the President when it comes to my chain of command, but I would hope that he would agree with Samuel Goldwyn who once famously said "I don't want any yes-men around me. I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their job." I seriously doubt that this post would cost me my job- but I am about to disagree with President Bush.
Last week the President gave an extremely well received speech at the National Endowment for Democracy
in which he repeatedly compared the current struggle against Islamofascism to that against communism, presumably in the Cold War, although he never used that phrase. While I was heartened to hear the words "Islamic radicalism... militant Jihadism... Islamo-fascism" from the President, and also the idea that the struggle against these enemies may last a long time, I think the implied comparison to the Cold War is flawed. My preferred historical comparison is the battle against Imperial Japan.
Soon after the speech several readers wrote in to express their opinions, and I replied along the lines of the above paragraph. One of these e-mail exchanges developed into a rather long string of back and forth as we wrestled with the idea of the appropriate historical metaphor. The reader/author of these e-mails has kindly agreed to allow me use them in this post, but has asked to be left un-named, in the following exchanges I will denote hime simply as "Reader"
(some of the exchanges are truncated to include the most relevant points):Dr. D:
What did you think of the multiple comparisons of the fight against Islamofascists to the Cold War? I am not so sure I agree with this one. I liken it more to Imperial Japan, I don't really think we can go decades trying to deter OBL, Inc.
Reader: The 1933-45 war between Imperial Japan and China, USSR (1940 and 1945), France (French Indochina), the Netherlands (Dutch East Indies), UK, Australia, New Zealand, and USA was a war based on the belief of racial superiority of the Japanese over all others. In their belief, their racial superiority permitted them to dominate all others and their Shinto religion (a religion specific to the racially pure Japanese). The war begin with the 1933 invasion of China.
W.W.II in Asia was a racial war or a war of nationalism not a war of ideology. It was much like the wars of the 18th to early 20th centuries.The war against Islamofacists is a WAR OF IDEOLOGY and that ideology happens to be called a religion. Most people do not call Marxism a religion, but it is best understood as a religion because it serves the same functions and has the same impact on the true believers in Marxism.
The key areas of comparison between the Cold War (Marxism attempting to conquer the world) and the War against Islamofacists are:
1. The GREAT importance of the ideology to those waging the war against us.
2. The ideology is MUCH more important in determining which side one is on that race, color, citizenship, and such. Please remember the white fellow from Marin County (we once lived there) just north of San Francisco, CA who was one of the al Qaeda warriors of Osama bin Ladden. Remember the shoe bomber on the airliner. Remember the first British citizens to die fighting in Afghanistan were fighting AGAINST our side. Remember that there are several thousand British citizens/subjects and European citizens who have been through al Qaeda training. Remember the very mixed racial/nationality mix of the terrorists who killed lots of children in the Russian high school. Remember the Filipino Muslims who just two blocks from my office in the American Embassy in Manila who were hard at work preparing to blow us up to advance their religious beliefs in the service of al Qaeda, but who by accident set fire to their apartment and were caught. Remember all of those reports of black Muslims fighting for al Qaeda far from their homelands in the Sudan/etc.
The religious wars of the 15th to the 17th centuries were also wars of ideology and one's religion determined which side they were on, not where they were born or their skin color. The wars of the 18th, 19th and early 20th century were largely wars of nationalism, of nations that viewed themselves as entitled to someone else's land or capable of ruling it better (the case for most of the UK's expansion to end slavery in Africa and the Middle East during the second half of the 19th century).
To defeat al Qaeda we must do four things:
1. We must NOT give up and go home, as almost all of the Democrat leaders want.
2. We must kill most of the leadership of al Qaeda and a large percent of their warriors.
3. We must defeat them militarily where we fight them: currently in Afghanistan and Iraq, a loss by ourside would MASSIVELY enhance their standing and power in the Muslim world.
4. We must defeat their ideology and remove or minimize the appeal of their version of Islam on the minds of young Muslim males and on the minds of rich older Muslim males, in particular rich Saudi Muslim males who provided much of the funding.
Dr. D: You don't find the Japanese racism and belief in the superiority of Shintoism to be an ideology? There is of course the rather large difference between the Islamofascists and the Japanese in that our submission to Islam will equal victory for our current enemies, whereas one could not submit and "convert" to being Japanese- but this is not what I was referring to. I meant that our current battle more resembles that of the Asian theater in WWII than the Cold War in that we have been attacked, and that containment is not an option. Your four steps to defeat Islamofascism are exactly what we did against the Japanese- and not at all what we did against the Soviets (of course we tried to fight their "ideology" in Korea and Vietnam, but never took the battle to the USSR).
Reader: To the first question, is not racism and Shintoism an ideology?, not in my view of ideologies. Rather I would call it nationalism and an extreme sense of racial superiority. To me an ideology is an idea (or system of ideas) that are not specific to one people, rather international. The Japanese expected us to submit to their rule, as the French did in Indo-China in 1940 and as the Thais did in 1941. The Chinese did this in Mancuho in the late 1930s.
As for the War against Islamofacism vs. W.W.II in the Pacific & Asia, we (UK, Australia, the Netherlands, and USA) experienced major defeats and we all concluded that the war against Japan was very secondary to the war against Germany. However, we concluded that all of the Axis countries had to be defeated before there could be peace, and the most important country to be defeated was Germany. W.W.II was not a war by sleight of hand, rather clear and obvious to all. Plus, we were fighting on the side of the USSR, we were fighting in effect to save Communism from the Nazis and that pleased the American and British Left such that after the invasion of the USSR in June 1941 orders went out from Moscow to all Communist Parties of the world to demand an IMMEDIATE second front by the "evil capitalist" countries, the UK/Canada/Australia/New Zealand/South Africa. Soon after June 1941 the British began to run convoys to the USSR to provide them with assistance. Even in the USA before 12/7/1941 (before we entered WWII), the American Communists were demanding that the USA help the USSR.
The USSR learned the lesson in W.W. II to not fight a direct war with the USA and its allies, rather to attack by remote, via various "national movements." The PRC learned the same lesion in the Korean War, do not fight directly with the USA. So all future conflicts were very confused as to the roles of the USSR and PRC so as to confuse the elite intellectuals of the UK/USA/Europe etc into thinking that the real issue was not an effort of world domination by USSR/PRC/Marixism, rather that it was just a people's liberation movement to fix long term wrongs (and other BS).
Added to this, the USSR acquired nuclear weapons in the early 1950s (thanks to some of the elite intellectuals of the USA's Manhattan Project who believed that it was "only fair" for the USSR to have nuclear weapons). The MASSIVE fear about al Qaeda is that they will get operational nuclear weapons and that would greatly impact how we deal with them.
I believe that the best comparison of what we are trying to accomplish against al Qaeda were the efforts of the Allies to defeat Communism in 1918-21. We had USA, Canadian, and Japanese troops a couple thousand miles into Russia (coming from the east) and we had troops in the north. We finally gave up and soon after the Red Army defeated the White Army (the anti Communists) and the liqudations began and continued until about 90,000,000 people had been put down and about 1/3rd of the world was under Communist rule. It took from 1921 until 1990 for the end of Communism in the USSR and for Communism to massively change in the PRC.
This reader makes several good points, and it may well be that ideologically we can compare OBL, Inc and Communism- both ideologies are driven by a system of beliefs that are not racially motivated. One may elect to join these ideologies in a way one could not "join" the Japanese. I maintain, however, that the actual battle, the struggle for ultimate victory, resembles that if the war with Japan more than the Cold War.
We suffered a stunning surprise attack at the hands of the Japanese in 1941, just as we have from al Qaeda. The Japanese believed that their religion (a divine Emperor) would provide the ultimate victory, and their kamikaze bombers destroyed themselves in attacking us in their emperor's name. Sound familiar? When we finally mobilized we took the war directly to the enemy. No surrogates, no waiting them out. We had to island hop to get to them, to be sure-there was no immediate direct frontal assault on the homeland- much as we have been forced to hunt down al Qaeda leadership and rank and file away from their "home" of Mecca. Military leaders and strategists predicted massive bloodshed when finally our troops would reach Japan- just as such predictions are made now if we declare all of Islam to be the enemy, or invade Mecca. Only the decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan spared the horror of an invasion of the home islands. Will anything spare the world the horror of taking the war against Islamofacsim to it's nest- or worse, the horror of not doing so in favor of a "wait them out" Cold War mentality?
There will be no easy, quick and clean victory over the Islamofascists. We have to face up to that. Our fathers and grandfathers knew that there would be no easy defeat of the Japanese. As our Reader says- we cannot give up. We have to hunt down their leaders and warriors in military defeat when possible. We have to remove the appeal of their ideology. All of this we did in the Pacific sixty years ago. In facing al Qaeda there can be no mutually assured destruction, because that is fine with them. There can be no spending them into the ground, they are already in, or below the ground. Containment is not a possibility- as our Reader notes, the enemy is already everywhere. We cannot afford to wait fifty years for them simply collapse under the weight of their ideology- because they wont.
I am not a warmonger, or a Chairborne Ranger- I am a realist. This is not an enemy that will simply collapse. Islamofascism is an ideology that demands our attention- and are response. Not long after America's second day of infamy President Bush said:
"When I take action," he said, "I'm not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to be decisive."
Last week he said:
Our enemy is utterly committed. As Zarqawi has vowed, "We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life." And the civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously -- and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.
It is good to remind the American people that the struggle we face will be long, difficult and fraught with peril and pain- but let us be careful of the metaphors we choose, and let us speak directly of the path ahead. Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto, who planned and commanded the attack on Pearl Harbor is said to have remarked "I'm afraid we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled it with terrible resolve." OBL actively sought to re-awaken the sleeping giant- let us, and them, not forget the terrible resolve with which are once again filled.
This morning, while surfing the web for global news I came across a very interesting website, Bitter Lemons International.org
As the editors explain it, this site was founded to break out of the echo-chamber mindset:Bitterlemons-international.org is an internet forum for an array of world perspectives on the Middle East and its specific concerns. It aspires to engender greater understanding about the Middle East region and open a new common space for world thinkers and political leaders to present their viewpoints and initiatives on the region. Its audience is the interested public and policymakers.
Bitterlemons-international.org is edited by Ghassan Khatib and Yossi Alpher. Each week, bitterlemons-international editors decide on a topic and invite four writers or interviewees to discuss that subject on our pages. Bitterlemons-international is committed to presenting a range of views on the Middle East from a breadth of national interests and social concerns. No intelligent and articulate views are considered taboo.
I have not spent much time reading the articles on this site yet, but it shows promise. One article that I have perused, in particular, inspired me to share this site with you: Democracy in the Arab world: an assessment
. In this piece the author proposits that we may be seeing "the beginning of the Arab world's slow transition out of the legacy of political autocracy and dominant state security rule that has defined it for the past half a century or so." He provides four main points to back up his thesis, the first two of which I have pasted in below:First, all other mass ideologies or governance systems (including socialism, Arab nationalism, Islamism, Baathism, monarchism, and narrow state-centered chauvinism) attempted in that period have not responded to the full material and political rights of the Arab people or their basic security and development. Second, foreign pressures and inducements for political and economic reforms, especially since 9/11, have started to converge with indigenous Arab democracy activists who had long been marginalized or co-opted by their states.
This coincides with a piece I recently read on the Common Ground News Middle East pages, in which the author (who is clearly not a George Bush supporter) wonders if the President's perpetual push for global freedom and democracy is not having an effect:The Strategic Interest: Downloading Democracy in the Middle East (With Some Help from America)...I wonder, too, whether the American campaign for democratic reform in the Arab world also has had a positive effect on the degree of civil courage that people of good will in the Middle East are now able to muster.When an Al Arabiya producer makes the decision to send a reporter into an Israeli settlement, or puts an Israeli on an electronic panel, is he or she that much more emboldened to take this step because Washington is so insistently preaching "freedom"? When a Lebanese professor accosts me at an informal meeting in Europe and tells me he no longer will turn down my requests that he write, is the American and French demand that Syria cease occupying his country giving him a positive sense that powerful forces are now behind him?I'm no fan of George W. Bush, and I'm critical of many aspects of his Middle East policy. His adventure in Iraq is a disaster, and his commitment to a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians appears thus far to be largely cosmetic. But I can't help noticing that his campaign for democratic reform does have the admirable effect of empowering people in the region.
We have long seen in politics that if you tell a big enough lie enough times, it becomes the (perceived) truth. Are we finally seeing an instance in which speaking to the truth and doing the right thing- leading from the front- actually demonstrates the power of our ideals? It may be too early to tell, but articles and websites such as these give me hope.
Pass the lemonade.
(End of post)
The last few days have seen some very intense discussion in the comments section here at The Demarche, and I want to thank you all for taking the time to write in, either in the comments or to e-mail us. Consul-At-Arms
, a brother FSO blogger, and other commenters, have kindly provided a segue to continue the discussion. Regardless of what you think about illegal immigrants, their kids who are born in the states are another matter. Unless you are the child of a foreign diplomat, if you are born in the United States you are a citizen. Period. It matters not one bit if your parents broke the law in order to be in the U.S. at the time of your birth. Now I understand that is a right set forth by the Constitution- just as the right to keep my guns is guaranteed. Plenty of people want to change both those rights.
There is of course, one major difference. My guns don't get together and produce offspring that will someday be able to petition for their gun relatives to come to the U.S. The offspring of illegal aliens often do- in fact their mother's, in many cases, struggle to reach the Unites States prior to giving birth- the kids born in America are called "anchor babies
", these are the kids that will eventually file immigrant visa petitions for their families. There are a great many children born into this "status" in America every year. The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates that:there are currently between 287,000 and 363,000 children born to illegal aliens each year. This figure is based on the crude birth rate of the total foreign-born population (33 births per 1000) and the size of the illegal alien population (between 8.7 and 11 million).
and they do not come cheaply
:...Flor was born premature, spent three months in the neonatal incubator and cost the San Joaquin Hospital more than $300,000. Meanwhile, oldest daughter Lourdes married an illegal alien gave birth to a daughter, too. Her name is Esmeralda. And Felipa had yet another child, Cristian. The two Silverio anchor babies generate $1,000 per month in public welfare funding for the family. Flor gets $600 a month for asthma. Healthy Cristian gets $400. While the Silverios earned $18,000 last year picking fruit, they picked up another $12,000 for their two "anchor babies."
These kids often grow up immersed in the culture that their parents abandoned. Their allegiance lies first with their families (and rightly so) and then more often than not with the country that failed their parents. Their parents retain some sort of romantic allegiance and pass it on to the children. It is only the patriotic thing to do. Every American Embassy in the world has a "Voting Assistance Officer" charged with helping Americans abroad exercise their franchise- we expect our expats to retain their patriotism- why shouldn't the economic flotsam of the world do the same?
I do not begrudge anyone who wants to be an American, or to live in America, to have a chance at a better life. As an American I take it as a compliment. I would hope that my rich neighbor does not begrudge me ogling his Ferrari when it goes by, and that he takes is a compliment too (note: none of my neighbors has Ferraris, I am taking license here). I do imagine he would begrudge me climbing his fence, breaking into the garage and stealing it, though. If I want a Ferrari I have to obtain it by legal means, period. Is it hubris for me to say that for many people America is the Ferrari next door?
As the President and Congress prepare to take on the immigration issue (maybe) it is imperative that we the 14th Amendment be included in the discussions. Perhaps we do need all of the illegal aliens who support our economy as has been noted by guest bloggers here and by many others. I would certainly rather see them legalized than continue to see them living and working in the shadows. If this is an issue that you feel deeply about- and I think many of you do- please exercise your rights as voter and let your representatives know.
No more immigration stuff for a while, I promise. Sometimes I just follow the blog where it takes me.
Illegal Immigration- is inaction the best course?
Last weekend I posted a bit entitled Think Globally, Act Locally
regarding illegal immigration. As regular readers know 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 two pieces in response, and hope to receive more. This is the second of the two, the first may be found directly below this post. This post is unedited except for formatting to fit this blog.Begin text of guest post:
Dr Demarche asked me to write a post about why I thought the United States should do nothing about the current Illegal Immigration problem. The only problem is that I don’t think we should do nothing. I think we should have some idea about who is in our boarders, and that is why I support some sort of guest worker program with a general amnesty. However politics is the art of the possible and I do not think an amnesty program is politically possible right now. So I will try to show why I think that doing nothing is better than any of the current “I would stop Illegal Immigration by…” plans currently out there.
There seems to be 3 main complaints about about Illegal Immigrants. None of them are particularly new, and have all been used against every wave of immigrants that ever entered this continent. I can imagine the first group of Hunter-Gatherers complaining about the second group using some of the same following arguments.
1. The new immigrants will take Jobs away from those who are already here. (For our imaginary group of Hunter-gatherers they probably were talking about hunting grounds instead of Jobs, but you get the idea.)
2. The new Immigrants impose enormous financial cost on our economy. (Ok you got me here, the first hunter gatherers were probably not terribly concerned about this because they really provided a very minimal social net, and didn’t really have that much of an economy. There however are numerous other examples of Americans complaining about this after money was invented.)
3. The new Immigrants will raise the crime rate. (The previously mentioned hunter-gatherers were probably concerned with the new group attacking them, and while this was not technically illegal at the time laws having not been invented yet, you must admit that it is analogous.)
I will try to address each of these and show that the reality is the opposite of conventional wisdom, or that the best way to solve the problem is something other than get rid of the illegals. To save space and reduce my research time I will concentrate on California because from the information I have found it would appear that California has the largest illegal immigrant population. If anyone would like to talk about any other states we can cover it in the comments.Jobs
The current unemployment rate is 4.9% according to the Bureau of Labor statistics with approximately 3.5 million people unemployed because of Job loss. There were also 384000 (.4% of the legal population) discouraged workers not included in that total because they had stopped looking because they thought no jobs existed for them. The 3.5 million were apparently still optimistic, with good reason because there were 4 million of them in February.
Now a lot of the increases in employment are coming in the Construction and Hospitality industries (also Health Care, but I don’t think most of the good jobs in that field are going to illegals).
So if any of the currently unemployed want those jobs they can get them, they are out there, and they look like they will continue to grow. So why aren’t all of the unemployed legals jumping on this growth industry? Because they think that they can do better, and they are probably right. It is unlikely that we will ever get to 0% unemployment because their will always be some churn in the market. Inefficient jobs go away and new ones are created. People move from one area of the economy to another. This is an extremely good thing. 70% of the American work force was in agriculture in 1820, now 2% are. Do you think we would be as well off as we are without that change? Most of the people currently unemployed will find jobs before their benefits run out, as is shown by the relatively small number of discouraged workers so it doesn’t seem that the illegals are having a huge negative effect on the current job market. By the way the unemployment rate in the 4 southern most counties in California is 4.6%- even less than the national average.Financial cost to our 12 Trillion Dollar economy
The most important concept to get down for the next analysis is that economics is not a zero sum game. Lets assume that there is only $20 dollars in the whole world and I got it with my paycheck. So my income is $20. Now lets assume I spend my $20 to buy food at the grocery store to feed my family. Now lets assume that the Grocer takes the money and buys a new piece of furniture for his house. The furniture salesman takes the money and buys a new dog. The pet shop owner buys a new computer, which for argument sake is what I make for a living. Now there is only $20 in the world, but in my example at least 5 people got a $20 income. The example scales up to the real world, but it gets much more complicated.
In his original post the drain on the economy caused by illegal workers concerned Dr Demarche. He quoted a $10 Billion dollar a year net drain on the Federal budget caused by the approximately 7 million illegal aliens. I read the post he linked to and it admitted that the majority of those costs were incurred by the children of the illegal immigrants born in this country. Now I would like to make a quick point here before going back to my analysis and that is that these children are not illegal aliens, but US Citizens just like you or me. For purposes of argument though I will include the $10 Billion in the total. Now there is also approximately $28 Billion in remittances to the illegal immigrants families back in the home countries also according to Dr Demarche. I found a web site claiming that California had an additional $10 Billion in state and local cost associated with illegal immigrants. We will throw in another $10 Billion for the rest of the states because they generally have less generous social services, and California has most of the illegal immigrant population according the sites I have surfed. That leads to an alleged $58 Billion Dollar drain on the economy. This is a big number, but not in relation to the economy as a whole. It represents 0.48% of our $12 TRILLION economy, or roughly ½ a cent for every dollar that is spent.
Now lets look at what the economy gets for its $58 Billion. Presumably the money comes from some sort of economic activity, and they are not all finding this money lying on the street. So they are earning this money mostly from working. Now presumably they are not sending every dollar they make home and are keeping some here to pay for products and services they need. For the purpose of our analysis we will assume they save and send back 25% of what they make. This is a really high rate of savings. The Japanese who are known for saving only save 12%. The US average saving rate is currently negative. We spend on average more than we make.
So if they send home $28 Billion, at a savings rate of 25% that means they are making 4 times that amount or $112 Billion. Now I am going to make an assumption here that they have not all found some socialist workers paradise here where every dollar the company makes goes right out to worker salaries. Therefore the companies are making more off of the illegal aliens labor than they are paying out. My company likes to make 10 times what they pay a worker, but lets assume that the small firms most of the illegals work for run a leaner operation and we will give them a multiplier of 3. So for every dollar they receive they produce three dollars in income for the company. So that would bring the total amount of economic benefit the immigrants bring to the US economy to almost $350 Billion. Most of that benefit goes to the employer of the illegals, and not the illegals themselves. Most of these firms are small businessmen or women who paradoxically are law abiding. That is because it is not illegal to hire an illegal immigrant. It is illegal to hire a worker without documentation. Documentation that is easy to forge or steal.
If you get rid of this labor, most of this economic activity goes away. We live in a really tight labor market and there are simply not enough workers to replace this unskilled labor that would not be better utilized in other higher skilled jobs. Produce either rots in the fields, or becomes so expensive that it is cheaper to import it. Construction costs go up so people make do with smaller houses, or continue renting. The Hotel industry looks very different than it does now with higher cost and lower services. We Americans will probably continue spending more than we make, but we will be getting less for our money than we do now.Crime
This is the hardest to deal with because it quickly gets emotional. Every criminal act in the end represents some sort of personal tragedy. That being said I will try to address the most worrisome of the criminal activity that of the gangs.
The same thing that fueled the Mob in Chicago, Prohibition, fuels most of the criminal gang activity in California. The Prohibition in this case is of Drugs and not Alcohol. When I heard one of the posters on this site first complain about the illegal alien gangs I was wondering how she could tell they were illegal’s. California has approximately 2 legal Hispanic residents for every illegal, and a big history of gangs made up entirely from American citizens. But for the purpose of this analysis we will assume that if you could get rid of all the illegals there would be no more gangs, even though this is a ridiculous proposition.
If you came up with a perfect system by which legitimate employers would not hire any illegals then the only illegals that would still have jobs would be those involved in criminal activities. Many of your law abiding hard working immigrants would self deport, but others would take up the only kind of jobs they can get in this country, Drugs. So paradoxically you would end up losing the legitimate economic activity, and increasing the criminal activity. The underlying demand for the illegal product would still be there, and someone would fill it.
So there we have it, why I think that doing nothing is better than any of the options that have a chance of being acted on (Berlin Wall, National Identity card, or vigorous enforcement of existing law). Flame away.
Eddie(End of guest post.)