August 11, 2006
UPDATED: The logic of nuclear genocide: As I've described below, there is a (thankfully) not-fully-articulated logic to much of the more excited rhetoric we've been hearing since the beginning of the latest war in Lebanon, which points in the direction of calling for nuclear genocide of Muslims.
Most war fever commentators have, to their credit, shied away from totally explaining where their thinking is logically headed. To see this chain of thought more completely explicated, you have to look to the fever swamps of the Rapture Reverends. A reader points me to the conservative column site WorldNet Daily, from whence comes a call for killing "45 million-plus Islamic fundamentalists" by a Christian minister named Michael D. Evans, who is described thusly:
"Michael D. Evans is the author of "The American Prophecies," an Amazon and Barnes and Noble No.1 best seller, and a New York Times best seller. He is also the founder of America’s largest Christian coalition, the Jerusalem Prayer Team."
He is the author of Beyond Iraq: The Next Moves, which WND helpfully explains is:
THE BOOK THAT KNOCKED HILLARY OFF THE #2 AMAZON SPOT!
In his smash best-seller "Beyond Iraq: The next move," Michael D. Evans clearly defines the roles that America, Iraq and Israel play in the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Breaking through the cluttered, and often confusing, information overload on this topic, Dr. Evans presents the Scriptures and current events side-by-side. As he does this, he leads readers to some startling but inescapable conclusions...
"Mike Evans is a true ambassador to Jerusalem. His efforts at peace conferences and the UN have earned him great respect and admiration." -- EHUD OLMERT, prime minister of Israel
"You have consistently demonstrated the moral clarity that is necessary to defend Israel from the lies and distortions of its enemies." --BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, former prime minister of Israel
(By the way, you've got to sympathize with poor Olmert and Netanyahu for having to put up with influential Americans like the Rev. Evans. Wouldn't you like to be a fly-on-the-wall to hear what Netanyahu, who has never given the impression that he suffers fools gladly, mutters to his aides in private after he finally escorts the Rev. from his office with the warmest promises to carefully study the Rev.'s annotated updating of the Book of the Apocalypse?)
In his July 28, 2006 column, the Rev. Evans, of all people, announced that Pat Buchanan was a "nutcase:"
Buchanan Comes Out of the Closet
Pat Buchanan's anti-Semitism finally came out of the closet for all the world to see. Buchanan has been accused of anti-Semitism for years, but has played the artful dodger and managed to remain, albeit on the sidelines, in the public arena while hiding an obvious disdain for Israel and the Jewish people.
But no longer.
His outrageous remarks last week [i.e., Buchanan's column "No, this is not 'our war'"] have permanently marked Buchanan as a nutcase. This in the face of growing world opinion that it is finally time to stop talking to terror organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas and instead eliminate their ability to wage war against civilization.
What Buchanan, and most of the left-leaning world press seem ignorant of is the fact that Israeli blood is paying for American and Western freedom, right now, on the ground, in the real world.
You see, Pat, in the real world, you cannot negotiate with terrorists.
In the real world, 45 million-plus Islamic fundamentalists want to annihilate Israel and America.
In the real world, they will not stop killing us until we kill them. This is not about some short-term geographical or political agenda; this is about a world religion gone mad in the minds of 10 percent of its adherents and their apocalyptic vision for the overthrow of all governments, religions and peoples to usher in a new world of Islamic conquest.
They do not want land, freedom, political power, money or rights. What they want is simple: Your soul … or your blood.
How do you negotiate with an Islamic radical who has only one goal:
Total world domination resulting in the conversion, or destruction, of every human being on earth.
Do you offer to convert or murder half the world if they will delay their attacks?
Do you suggest that they should be happy with Eastern World domination instead of total world domination?
Do you ask them to give the Western nations a little respite from their homemade bombs while we consider the claims of Islam and see if there are reasons to consider converting?
Do you give them the opportunity to build madrasas in Western nations to preach Islamic violence and conquest, if they will just allow us to continue our present way of life for a little while longer?
Just how do you negotiate with a terrorist who wants to kill himself, and you, rather than to let you live as a non-Muslim?
How about it, Pat? I'm listening …
Since I don't hear anything but a tired anti-Semitic diatribe coming from you, let me tell you how:
You allow the most courageous nation on earth, the one that was born out of the fires of the Holocaust, the one that has survived every attack against it, everyday, since its birth in the fires of war in May of 1948 to do what lazy, fat, over-comfortable and over-prosperous, opinionated but spineless Americans like you no longer have the gumption, spiritual will or moral clarity to do.
You allow them to fight, destroy, annihilate and eliminate the threat of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria – and Iran, if necessary. You shut up while they gear up to take on the greatest threat to American and Western freedom that we have experienced since World War II.
You cheer while they mount their tanks, you cry when you see the photographs of their missing and killed, you get angry when you hear the enemies of freedom speaking evil of them, and you use your platform, whatever it may be, to promote their cause and to defend their character.
You do this because you know that modern-day Israel is doing what we in the West – for fear of disapproval (what would Barbra Streisand think?) – are too frightened to do:
Wage war against an intractable enemy until they either lay down their weapons and surrender unconditionally, or are laid down by the righteous retribution of honorable men who will not allow their criminal acts to continue.
A reader writes:
Off on a business trip, but I want to offer that I appreciate your blogging about the "War on Terror." I'm a little appalled and disturbed at what I see happening on the American Right, they are simply as emotionally overwrought and uncontrolled abroad as the Left is at home. It seems there is no "reality based choice" out there. There are many people out there who do believe this is as bad as "Nazi Germany," but the scary thing is that so many smart people refuse to disabuse them of this notion.
Anyway, keep up the good work.
The current frenzy has an insidious underlying logic to it that ultimately points in a direction so horrible that I've been hesitant to point it out for fear that making this chain of thought explicit will help it become popular in its full extent.
The good news is that the current shooting war in Lebanon won't last forever. (The Security Council just unanimously voted on a plan to bring it to a halt, although I have no idea if it will work.) War fever drives people nuts -- for example, in early 1942, when my grandfather was driving through Pismo Beach, California, he became convinced that a Japanese farmer on a slope overlooking the coast had grown his crops in a coded pattern to transmit (very very slowly) secret messages to the Japanese invasion fleet lurking offshore. This was not considered nutty in the post-Pearl Harbor mental climate. Indeed, rather than my grandfather being hauled off for a long stress-free rest amidst flowers and nice men in white coats, the poor farmer and all the other Japanese in California were rounded up and sent away to camps.
Here is the full foreign policy logic that is bubbling under the hysteria:
1. All Muslims everywhere are Them.
Arabs who are shooting rockets at Israel, Iranians who supply the rockets, Pakistanis who try to blow up planes, Shi'ites like Ahmadinejad, Sunnis like bin Laden, all Muslims are "Them." (Christians who live in Arab countries like Lebanon are probably Them too, but it's best not to think too hard about this.)
2. America and Israel are Us.
3.They want to kill Us.
4. Our merciful strategy of trying to democratize Them by conquering Them just makes Them perversely want to kill Us more.
5. Trying to blow up Their weapons from the air doesn't seem to work, as We have seen in Our war in Lebanon, and just makes Them want to kill Us even more.
6. Even if We did destroy all Their rockets and cyclotrons, They will still try to kill Us with Their sports drink bottles, which will only become more deadly as technology progresses.
7. Unlike sane people like Stalin and Mao, They cannot be deterred by threats of military retribution because They are religious maniacs who want to die.
8. It is either Us or Them.
9. We must run any risk to be safe.
They must die.
All of Them.
We have 10,000 nuclear warheads.
That should suffice.
And here is the domestic policy sub-logic:
A. Us doesn't include wild-eyed Us-haters like Connecticut businessman Ned Lamont or potential Hitlers who harbor secret evil thoughts against Us that only spill out after a dozen drinks like Mel Gibson.
B. These dangerous weak sisters who are not Them but neither are they Us will never accept this irrefutable logic, so these people must be dealt with so that their hatred of Us will not stand in the way of Us securing Our safety.
Of course, there are large assumptions included in this logic. One obvious problem is the couple of million or so Muslims who live in America. Here the logic runs in the opposite direction:
Profiling them when they try to get on our airplanes, preventing them from immigrating, encouraging them to leave our country -- all of these steps are immoral to the point of unthinkability. Dividing people up into "Us" and "Them" for the purpose of deciding who gets the most attention at airport security screening is too awful to contemplate. The whole concept of excluding anybody in the world from moving to America is deeply, deeply dubious, indeed it's probably anti-Semitic if you examined it closely enough. Look at 1924. If you got Mel Gibson drunk enough, he'd probably be in favor of these kind of things.
Nothing can or should be done domestically to makes us safer. Instead, We should blow Them all up over there. The only thing that anyone should be allowed to consider is a coherent, well-integrated strategy of:
Invade the world.
Invite the world.
The good news, fortunately, is threefold. First, at present, nobody is really saying all of this -- it's still too awful to express every step of the logic. Second, when you do come out and say it like I just did, it sounds not only horrific, but laughably stupid.
Third, war fever isn't permanent. This too shall pass. Once rockets aren't killing one or two Israeli civilians per day, the mania will recede.
But, it's unlikely that any UN plan will permanently solve Israel's problems, so this logical dementia will eventually return.
Hezbollah's impressive investment in digging holes in the ground in South Lebanon attests to the imminence of the threat they pose to overrunning Israel. Nothing says "offensive warfare" like tunnels. You all recall how on May 10, 1940, Nazi Germany began its infamous schmutzkrieg assault on France, burrowing 20, sometimes even 30 meters per day through French dirt, which eventuated in their capture of Paris on June 14, 1967.
The arrested suspects turn out to be exactly who you'd expect them to be:
British authorities arrested 24 people based partly on intelligence from Pakistan, where authorities detained up to three others several days earlier. More arrests were expected. British officials said the suspects are British-born Muslim men, at least some of Pakistani ancestry... A senior U.S. counterterrorism official said the suspects, whose ages ranged from 17 to the mid-30s, were looking to sneak at least some chemicals on the planes in sports-drink bottles.
With airport bombing plots back in the news, I'd like to remind readers of one of the great unmentioned questions about 9/11: Did the Bush Administration's long campaign against ethnic profiling of Muslims at airports prevent any of the four hijackings from being foiled?
Here's part of an article I wrote the evening of 9/11/01. (UPI didn't get around to publishing it for another week or so.)
by Steve Sailer
UPI, September 11, 2001
LOS ANGELES, Sep. 11 -- Ironically, in an attempt to appeal to the growing number of Arab-American and Muslim voters, exactly eleven months ago George W. Bush called for weakening airport security procedures aimed at deterring hijackers.
On Oct. 11, 2000, during the second presidential debate, the Republican candidate attacked two anti-terrorist policies that had long irritated Arab citizens of the U.S.
At present [i.e., the evening of 9/11], of course, there is no definite evidence that Arabs or Muslims were involved in today's terrorist assaults. Many incorrectly assumed after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that Middle Easterners were involved. Nor is there direct evidence that Bush's attack on airline safety procedures made the four simultaneous hijackings easier to pull off.
Bush said during the nationally televised debate, "Arab-Americans are racially profiled in what's called secret evidence. People are stopped, and we got to do something about that." Then-Governor Bush went on, "My friend, Sen. Spence Abraham [the Arab-American Republic Senator from Michigan], is pushing a law to make sure that, you know, Arab-Americans are treated with respect. So racial profiling isn't just an issue at the local police forces. It's an issue throughout our society. And as we become a diverse society, we're going to have to deal with it more and more."
Bush's plug for Senator Abraham was intended to help Abraham in close re-election battle, which he ultimately lost. (Abraham is now the Bush Administration's Secretary of Energy.) More important personally to Bush was the swing state of Michigan's 18 electoral votes, which Al Gore eventually won narrowly. Arab-Americans, centered in Dearborn and Flint, make up about four percent of the population of Michigan, the most of any state.
In the debate, Bush conflated two separate policies that Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans felt discriminate against them: the heightened suspicions faced by Middle Eastern-looking travelers at airport security checkpoints and the government's use of "secret evidence" in immigration hearings of suspected terrorists. Yet, despite Bush's confusion, Arab-Americans appreciated his gesture. Four days after the debate, the Arab-American Political Action Committee endorsed Bush.
The day after Bush's remarks, 17 American sailors died in a terrorist attack in the Arab nation of Yemen. The bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, however, did not stop Vice President Al Gore from echoing Bush's calls to end these two anti-terrorist techniques in a meeting with Arab-American leaders on October 14, 2000.
According to a spokesperson for a leading Arab-American organization, people of Arab descent are stopped and searched at airports more often than many other ethnic groups. Some refer to this as Flying While Arab or Flying While Muslim. These terms are intended as plays on the popular phrase "Driving While Black," which is widely used to criticize police departments for stopping more black than white motorists.
This year, both Bush and his Attorney General John Ashcroft have called for an end to racial profiling.
The Federal Aviation Administration provides airline and airport personnel with the Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening system to help them identify suspicious travelers. It relies on a secret profile of the characteristics of typical hijackers and terrorists.
Bush's Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has said that "the security procedures are not based on the race, ethnicity, religion or gender of passengers" Yet, the system is widely believed to use other information - such as whether the traveler is going to or coming from the Middle East - that tends to "disparately impact" Arab and Muslims.
None of the ethnic rights groups, however, has offered any data to dispute the widespread assumption that in the three decades since the Palestine Liberation Organization invented skyjacking, a disproportionate number of hijackers and plane bombers have had Middle Eastern ties.
Nonetheless, the Bush Administration publicly agrees with the civil rights organizations that even a nonracial airport profiling system that had merely a disparate impact on Arabs and Muslims would be objectionable. Secretary Mineta said, "We also want to assure that in practice, the system does not disproportionately select members of any particular minority group." Of course, if Arabs and Muslims are disproportionately more likely to hijack airliners, and the profiling system does not end up disproportionately targeting them, then system wouldn't work very well at preventing hijackings.
To ensure that no disparate impact is occurring, the Bush Administration carried out in June a three-week study, first planned by the Clinton Administration, of whether or not profiling at the Detroit airport disparately impacts Arabs.
The results of the study have not been released. Nor is it known whether the secret profiles have been relaxed - they are kept secret in order to keep hijackers guessing.
However, on June 6th Attorney General Ashcroft told Congress, "We want the right training, we want the right kind of discipline, we want the right kind of detection measures and the right kind of remediation measures, because racial profiling doesn't belong in the federal government's operational arsenal." [More]
Why hasn't anybody else ever been interested in this question of whether Bush made possible 9/11 over the last half decade?
As for what else could be done about Muslims in Europe, my suggestion from last year looks better and better: pay them to leave.
August 10, 2006
A number of authors such as Malcolm Gladwell and Thomas Friedman are perennials on the bestseller lists because readers believe they will tell them how to get rich via breakthrough concepts like the World Is Flat and the Tipping Point. And Tom Friedman is indeed enormously rich, much richer even than Malcolm Gladwell. Tom and Ann Friedman live in:
"a palatial 11,400-square-foot house, now valued at $9.3 million, on a 7½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club," according to the July 2006 issue of the Washingtonian magazine.
So, what cutting-edge business concept did Friedman use to get so ungodly rich? Sure, his bestsellers and his personal appearances would have made him wealthy, but not zillionaire rich like this. So, what was his 21st Century Globalized Flat World secret?
Well, he got rich a very old fashioned way: he married well. His wife, whom he married in 1978, is the daughter of billionaire shopping mall developer Matthew Bucksbaum. The Bucksbaum family wealth is estimated at $2.7 billion.
An obsessive neocon trope for the last five years has been that this very moment is the autumn of 1938 all over again, when it's our last possible chance to stop the New Hitler (whose precise identity seems to be hazy -- it used to be Osama bin Laden, but then we lost interest in catching him and the New Hitler became Saddam Hussein, and then that Zarqawi maniac, and now, apparently, it's that guy in Iran who looks like Yakov Smirnoff or Borat, or maybe this Nasrallah fellow in Lebanon).
Now, former Clinton Administration foreign policy honcho Richard Holbrooke explains in the Washington Post in "The Guns of August" that it's really the summer of 1914 or maybe the fall of 1962 all over again.
A reader writes:
The author (Richard Holbrooke) begins with this:
"Two full-blown crises, in Lebanon and Iraq, are merging into a single emergency. A chain reaction could spread quickly almost anywhere between Cairo and Bombay. Turkey is talking openly of invading northern Iraq to deal with Kurdish terrorists based there. Syria could easily get pulled into the war in southern Lebanon. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are under pressure from jihadists to support Hezbollah, even though the governments in Cairo and Riyadh hate that organization. Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of giving shelter to al-Qaeda and the Taliban; there is constant fighting on both sides of that border. NATO's own war in Afghanistan is not going well. India talks of taking punitive action against Pakistan for allegedly being behind the Bombay bombings. Uzbekistan is a repressive dictatorship with a growing Islamic resistance."
According to Holbrooke, the following are either happening or might happen: 1. Turkey is "talking" about invading northern Iraq. 2. Syria "gets pulled" (passive voice) into the war in Lebanon. 3. Egypt and Saudi Arabia "are under pressure" to support Hezbollah by disfavored domestic elements that those governments routinely ignore and/or repress. 4. "Afghanistan" (I think he means the mostly ineffective national government of that country) accuses Pakistan of something everyone knows they do - providing cover to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Etc. etc. etc.
The author then adds these seemingly typical Middle Eastern problems up and concludes that "This combination of combustible elements poses the greatest threat to global stability since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, history's only nuclear superpower confrontation."
Wow. I find that an amazing conclusion. The ongoing border skirmishes and ethnic/religious battles in the Middle East, which we're all pretty used to (and tired of) are suddenly, seemingly through the addition of the single element of Israeli involvement, transformed into "the greatest threat to global stability since" the Soviet Union and the United States nearly blew up the world.
Clearly, the Iraq Attaq has had a destabilizing effect on the Middle East and, contrary to the neocon theory that America causing more disorder over there would be (through some magical alchemy) constructive, it's more common in that part of the world for perturbations to cause things to go from bad to worse than from bad to good. The Second Law of Thermodynamics tends to work more strongly over there than in some other regions.
Still, it's just a bunch of Middle Eastern countries we're talking about. If some of them didn't have oil, they'd rank up there with Burma in global importance. And they all have big incentives to keep pumping oil into the world market. Obviously, various people in America have emotional, family, religious, and ethnocentric ties to various countries over there, but, in the final analysis of American national interest, so what?
So, please, keep in mind that if the Great Powers had paused in the summer of 1914 and said, "Jeez, it's just somebody shooting somebody in Bosnia-Herzegovina, for heaven's sake," the next 75 years of unpleasantness up through 1989 could have been avoided.
Especially because today there aren't any Great Powers around for each other to worry about. There's just the Hyperpower -- us -- with 47% of the whole world's military spending. And there's a motley cast of a supporting actors: a future Great Power in China, a staggering ex-Superpower in Russia, a few Medium Powers like Britain and France, two potential Medium Powers in Japan and Germany, a far future potential Great Power in Indian, a Regional Micro-Superpower in Israel, and so forth. According to the CIA World Factbook, Iran comes in 25th in military spending (as of 2003), wedged among such imposing military colossi as Singapore, Argentina, Norway, and Belgium.
The other subtext among the chattering class is fear and loathing of the supposed emergence of an American Left that is not very Jewish, which you can see in all the Jewish pundits who have ranted about how dare Connecticut voters throw out Lieberman after only 18 years. (Harold Meyerson has been an honorable exception.) This is basically an elite obsession. Among the public, Lamont won 39% of the Jewish vote (compared to 58% of the Protestant vote), so actual Jewish voters weren't as ethnocentric as the Jewish pundits. Still, it's odd for the more leftwing candidate to do much better among Protestants than among Jews, so some voters were thinking like the pundits.
This trend toward a less-Jewish left has been slowly growing for a long time, and was visible in the Arab-American Ralph Nader's fairly good showing in 2000, when he took 2.7% nationally but supposedly only 2 percent of the Jewish vote according to the exit poll. Compare that to 1948 when Henry Wallace, with Communist backing for his Progressive ticket, got skunked most places except his native northern Plains and New York, where he took 9%, much of it, I presume, Jewish. Henry Wallace's share of the Jewish vote is estimated at 15%.
I think this new new left is not particularly anti-Semitic. I'm sure Lamont supporters would have liked their man to get 58% of the Jewish vote as well. But a not-unimportant fraction of Jews have turned much more militaristic in recent years, which has led to growing alienation between Jews and the left.
As I mentioned yesterday, the U.S. has over 80% of the world's aircraft carrier capacity, as measured in naval warplanes.
So, why isn't the rest of the world terribly interested in aircraft carriers? (Various countries have plans underway to build one or two aircraft carriers, but there doesn't appear to be any intention anywhere to challenge U.S. global supremacy in aircraft carriers, and that includes China, which owns an aircraft carrier it bought from Russia, but doesn't have it out at sea.)
Some readers have cited the vulnerability of aircraft carriers to atomic weapons, but they've been vulnerable since 1949. That hasn't fazed the US Navy. The last of the Nimitz-class supercarriers, the George H. W. Bush is under construction. And, construction is scheduled to begin on the first of the new CVN-21 generation of supercarriers next year, for delivery in 2015, at a cost of $8 billion, plus $5 billion in R&D, with two more currently planned after that. And aircraft carriers require many support ships such as Aegis-equipped guided missile cruisers. So, each U.S. aircraft carrier plus its support ships costs somewhere around $20 billion.
I think the bigger reason, along with the huge U.S. lead in this colossally expensive form of warfare is this: The aircraft carrier is the penultimate weapon of global force projection, trailing only the nuclear ICBM. And intercontinental force projection is simply something that not many countries feel that much of a need for anymore.
The ancient roiling of the world that went into high gear with the outward explosion of the European race after 1492 has been slowing down. Europeans succeeded in conquering some continents permanently (unless they continue their feckless refusal to patrol their borders) and have been expelled from other continents.
It turned out that while it was enormously profitable to colonize an entire mostly empty continent like North America or Australia, it was much less profitable to imperialize an already highly-inhabited continent. Lots of the world, including most of Africa without mineral motherlodes, couldn't generate enough wealth to be worth the costs. Some areas, like India could turn a profit, but once the Indians started to develop their own sense of nationalism, they couldn't be held in thrall profitably without resorting to mass slaughter, which Western Europeans had less of a stomach for as time progressed. Today, even if we were stealing every penny of the oil being pumped out of Iraq, the $50 billion per year wouldn't pay our occupation costs -- and that's at record high oil prices. Probably Kuwait is the only country worth conquering these days.
As the most educated members of the ruled races came to historical consciousness, typically in schools provided by their European overlords, they began to find rule by another race to be an intolerable insult. Political control of the world is now much more homogenous at the continental level than a century ago, when Europeans ruled most countries on other continents. (I'm defining "continental" not in the technical geographic definition, but more in the Huntingtonian civilizational manner, where, for example, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa or East Asia and South Asia are separate continents.)
European settler enclaves on non-European continents, such as French Algeria, Rhodesia, and South Africa have been ground down, in the first two cases utterly, and South Africa is probably just a matter of time. Russia has lost control of Central Asia. (Latin America is a quasi-exception -- it has settled into an intermittent low-intensity twilight struggle among partly blended races.)
Today, almost all countries on earth are now ruled by elements relatively indigenous to their continent. Granted, there are many local divergences such as the minority Alawites running Sunni Syria, and a few medium-scale ones, such as the Chinese running Singapore, and occasionally, the descendents of Indian migratory laborers run far-flung small states like Fiji. (Madagascar, which is run by Southeast Asians who landed off the coast of Africa a couple of thousand years ago, is sui generis.)
But the most famous exception to this historical pattern of European settlers either taking over an entire continent politically and demographically, such as Australia or North America, or losing political and demographic control of every country in an entire continent is Israel.
This helps explain the inordinate excitement and loathing Israel arouses among its neighbors. It's a reminder of the European superiority that they were once personally subjected to. It also suggests the perilous uphill task America took on in Iraq.
And that helps explain why not many countries are all that interested in using aircraft carriers to project power across oceans anymore. They don't have the heart to do what it takes to rule a people on the other side of the ocean.
In the 1990s (a.k.a., the Good Old Days), they were pleased to delegate to America the task of policing the sea lanes and leading the occasional coalition to punish international rule-breakers like Saddam or the Taliban. But since we've gotten bogged down in occupying Iraq long term, our role becomes more questionable to the rest of the world.
August 9, 2006
As part of my daylong obsession with providing some perspective on war in the modern world, in contrast to the fevered discussions you'll find elsewhere, I took a look at military spending as a percent of the economy.
n 1944, the U.S. spent 38% of its GDP on the military. The U.S. defense budget ran around 9% of GDP in the 1950s after the Korean War, and was fairly similar in the 1960s. In the 1980s, it approached 6%. Today, even while fighting in Iraq, we're down around 4%.
And yet, despite this decline, we spend 47% of all the money on the military in the world, by one estimate. According to the CIA World Factbook, the world only spends about 2% of the global gross product on the military today.
Lots of other countries that you might think of as big spenders, aren't. According to the Factbook:
Iran, which everybody knows intends to blow up the world, is spending all of 3.3% of its GDP on the military.
China which is widely said to be hellbent for leather to displace us is spending 4.3% of their GDP on their military - a bit more than us relative to the size of their economy, but hardly comparing to the Soviet Union's devotion to arms back in the bad old days. (I saw one estimate of 15-17% in 1988, but I bet it might have been even higher.) Taiwan, which is supposed to be so threatened by China, is spending all of 2.4%.
South Korea, which has crazy North Korea across the border, spends only 2.6%. Then there are Pakistan 3.9% and India 2.5%. Others include Australia 2.7%, Canada 1.1%, Libya 3.9%, Syria 5.9%, Egypt 3.4%, Turkey 5.3%, Kuwait 4.2%, Vietnam 2.5%, Indonesia 3.0%, Rwanda 2.9%, Cuba 1.8%, Venezuela 1.2%, Colombia 3.4%, France 2.6%, United Kingdom 2.4%, Germany 1.5%, Brazil 1.3%, Japan 1.0%, Kazakhstan 0.9%, and Mexico 0.8%. The two countries that claim zero spending on the military are Iceland and the Dominican Republic.
So, who are the big spenders? Israel 7.7% (a lot, but less than the U.S. spent in the 1960s), Angola 8.8%, Saudi Arabia 10%, Oman 10.0%, Qatar 11.4%, and Jordan 11.4%.
Nobody knows much about North Korea, but the Factbook suggests 12.5% as a guess.
So, who had the highest military share of all those I looked at?
It's the War Nerd's favorite foreign country, Eritrea at 17.7%.
In summary, the human race just isn't trying very hard anymore to blow each other up.
On December 7, 1941 a Japanese fleet built around six aircraft carriers with 423 warplanes carriers struck Pearl Harbor. And Japan had four more (mostly smaller) aircraft carriers on other duties at the time.
Sixty-four years later, how many aircraft carriers do all the Islamic countries in the world have in total?
According to Wikipedia:
Nine countries maintain aircraft carriers: United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, Italy, India, Spain, Brazil, and Thailand. In addition the People's Republic of China's People's Liberation Army Navy possesses the former Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag, but most naval analysts believe that they have no intention to operate it, but instead are using Varyag to learn about carrier operations for future Chinese aircraft carriers. Canada, the People's Republic of China, Japan, Pakistan, Australia, Chile and Singapore also operate helicopter-carrying vessels....
In the early 21st century, worldwide aircraft carriers were capable of carrying about 1250 aircraft. US carriers accounted for over 1000 of these; the second leading country, the United Kingdom fielded over 50 aircraft. The United Kingdom and France are both undergoing a major expansion in carrier capability (with a common ship class), but the United States will still maintain a very large lead.
So, Pakistan has some helicopter-carrying ships. That's it for all the countries in the world with Islamic majorities.
More aircraft carrier facts: The U.S. had 31 aircraft carriers fight in WWII, 22 of them full-sized fleet carriers. The U.S. currently has 12 aircraft carriers in service, ten of them nuclear powered, all of them larger than any other country's largest carrier. The nine Nimitz class flattops are 104,000 tons. The biggest foreign is the Russian Admiral Kutzenov at 43,000 tons.
August 8, 2006
In the Connecticut Democratic primary, the anti-war challenger Lamont has a a 51.9 to 48.1 lead with about 5% of the votes left to count. Lieberman has been closing the gap all evening, but I'm guessing he'll come up just short. Click here for the latest.
Update: It's over. Lamont leads by 10,000 with only about 5,000 votes left to count.
Oh, the horrible lèse majesté of it all! A very important person has been fired from his very important job over a little thing like a war. How dare the Democrats of Connecticut be so impertinent. As Steven Colbert tried to explain to them: "You had your choice in 1988." But they wouldn't listen...
So, which GOP Senator who voted for the Senate immigration cave-in gets Liebermaned in the 2008 primary? Here's a link to how they voted on Hagel-Martinez.
A reader writes:
In past pieces you have expressed the opinion that the best route in dealing with Iran would be a Cold War-style containment strategy. [In a new Wall Street Journal op-ed, Ottoman historian] Bernard Lewis seems to have grave doubts that such a strategy will work.
Well, let's look at the relative sizes of the relevant factors. The blue USA bars are set to 100 for each measure, with Iran in green:
So, what do we see?
- Iran has 23% of our population.
- At the official exchange rate, its GDP is 1.5% of ours.
- But at the probably more reasonable Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) rate, its overall GDP is 4.5% of ours.
- Iran's per capita GDP PPP is one fifth of ours.
- In 2003, these death-loving conquer-the-world fanatics were spending 3.3% of their GDP on their military, compared to 4.06% for peace-loving America.
- So, their military budget in nominal terms was less than 1% of ours.
- But in purchasing power terms, Iran's military budget was more like 3% of ours.
In contrast, the Soviet Union had a larger population than America. It's GDP was greatly inflated by CIA estimates, but its % of GDP devoted to the military was several times greater than America's. The Soviet Union was an all-around vastly larger threat.
Okay, well, maybe, as Bernard Lewis argues, they really want to blow up the world to bring about the Apocalypse, unlike the US where Apocalyptic thinking plays zero role in the political arena. Oh, wait, scratch that ...
Hezbollah's strategy of building tunnels to protect its troops, which worked well for the Viet Cong, and firing lots of small rockets remotely from disposable launchers has so far stood up well against Israel's advanced counterfire suppression capabilities. Civilian deaths in Israel have been running about 1 to 2 a day on average for the last four weeks (with a significant fraction being Arab Israelis). Hezbollah's goal is presumably to demoralize Israelis into slowly leaving Israel, and to discourage capital investment in Israel. Historically, bombing campaigns have had a very poor record of breaking the morale of a civilian population (see the London Blitz for one of many examples). Like invasions, they tend to just make people madder. On the other hand, rocket threats could more plausibly discourage, say, Intel from building an expensive facility in Israel.
A technical fix allowing Israel to defend itself from these rockets would be most welcome. As you'll recall, about four years ago, Palestinian suicide bombers blowing themselves up in Tel Aviv pizza parlors was widely seen in the more excitable regions of the American press as the ultimate strategic weapon, requiring Israel to conquer the whole Middle East merely to survive. Instead, simply building a fence largely shut down suicide bombing.
A practical ABM system would be similarly valuable. Most American ABM development has gone into developing ways to destroy nuclear missiles, which means that the cost of each interceptor is less important. But Israel is facing attacks from swarms of cheap missiles, so using extremely expensive strategic interceptors isn't cost effective. coolbert cites a couple of potentially cheaper systems.
One potential system, "Dumb Pebbles," was the brainchild of that ultimate gun nut, Canadian cannon-designer Gerald Bull, who was assassinated by Mossad in 1990 when his inability to get the U.S. military to fund to completion his various giant gun designs led him to work for Saddam Hussein.
The idea for this giant shotgun is that you take a 16 inch gun from a WWII battleship (there are, I believe, one to three dozen such cannons still in mothballs), and load it with a rocket-boosted projectile. The payload is merely ball-bearings, the equivalent of the lead shot in a shot-gun cartridge. When radar picks up a rocket headed from Lebanon to Israel, you fire away like a skeet shooter. (To prevent killing civilians in Lebanon, or even in Turkey, with the ball-bearings falling out of the sky, the guns could be positioned in eastern Israel and aimed northwest out to sea). I have no idea if this would work (would they have the rate of fire to avoid being overwhelmed by cleverly timed barrages?), but it's fun to indulge one's inner gun nut by thinking about it.
There's also the Tactical High Energy Laser project that the U.S. and Israel have been jointly working on.
And then there's the "rail gun" -- an electromagnetic catapult that propels nonexplosive projectiles much faster than chemical explosives ever could. Like so many sci-fi sounding weapons, it was first worked on by the Nazis during WWII (Hitler put much more stock in innovating wonder weapons that would somehow win the war than in churning out huge numbers of good enough weapons, which is what actually won the war for the Allies), and still isn't ready for prime time. The U.S. Navy plans to deploy rail guns with 250 mile ranges beginning in 2011, but, we shall see if that comes to fruition.
So, at present, there doesn't seem to be any quick fix that would obviate the need for Israel to go punch out on the ground anybody who launches a lot of rockets at them, but there is hope for the future.
A reader who has lived in Japan for a couple of decades comments:
Japanese are shier than Caucasians or Africans. "Dating" was not, until recently, a part of Japanese culture. Even now, judging by what I see on TV, it is still somewhat ritualized and difficult.
It seems to involve first a "confession" of love by the male -- or sometimes the female -- to the other before either has even exchanged words beyond simple greetings. Then that is followed by a request that they "go together" with, of course, an eye towards marriage. The female can refuse this request, and often will, since the confession usually comes as bolt from the blue from a socially awkward male.
Among young trendy people relationships may be more casual, but in general Japanese dislike the unpredictability of informality and feel more comfortable with formality and ritual.
----- The extent to which Japanese life is ritualized would astonish most outsiders. Everyday human exchanges follow a set script. Eating, meeting, and calling on the phone are like that. When New Year's rolls around you must greet *everyone* with a a Happy New Year's and a request that they treat you "righteously" in the coming year. The office ladies, on the first day of work for the year, all line up and bow together to me (their boss) and beg to be treated righteously. When first graders enter school there is a ritual whereby the new kids are welcomed into the school by the older kids and the new kids are introduced to the social expectations of "group life." This is just the beginning of a life of ritualized ceremonies.
Almost every week on TV, we are treated to the scene of the senior executives of some institution (company, school, government agency) standing in a line behind a table and bowing deeply and apologizing. The words they use are almost always exactly the same (with small variations). "I/we would like to humbly apologize for the enormous trouble I/we have caused. I/we will try to make sure that it never happens again." These scenes are so frequent and so ritualized that Japanese are profoundly confused when some foreign company "causes trouble" in Japan and the executives don't immediately toe the line. They can't imagine a country where such things don't occur.
George Orwell described in "Shooting an Elephant" the frustrations of empire, based on his experience as a policeman in colonial Burma:
As soon as I saw the elephant I knew with perfect certainty that I ought not to shoot him. It is a serious matter to shoot a working elephant--it is comparable to destroying a huge and costly piece of machinery--and obviously one ought not to do it if it can possibly be avoided. And at that distance, peacefully eating, the elephant looked no more dangerous than a cow. I thought then and I think now that his attack of "must" was already passing off; in which case he would merely wander harmlessly about until the mahout came back and caught him. Moreover, I did not in the least want to shoot him. I decided that I would watch him for a little while to make sure that he did not turn savage again, and then go home.
But at that moment I glanced round at the crowd that had followed me. It was an immense crowd, two thousand at the least and growing every minute. It blocked the road for a long distance on either side. I looked at the sea of yellow faces above the garish clothes-faces all happy and excited over this bit of fun, all certain that the elephant was going to be shot. They were watching me as they would watch a conjurer about to perform a trick. They did not like me, but with the magical rifle in my hands I was momentarily worth watching. And suddenly I realized that I should have to shoot the elephant after all. The people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly. And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man's dominion in the East. Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd--seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind. I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys. He becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib. For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life in trying to impress the "natives," and so in every crisis he has got to do what the "natives" expect of him.
Of course, the Iraqi Shi'ites whom we put into power and who identify with their fellow Shi'ites in Hezbollah in their struggle with Israel, number a lot of more than 2,000, aren't unarmed, and while excited, definitely aren't happy about American support for Israel.
Back in 2001, I pointed out that if the U.S. started a land empire in the Middle East by, for example, occupying Iraq, we would come under increasing pressure over the years to placate our new subjects by acceding to their furious prejudice against Israel. In September 2001, I emailed:
The neo-conservatives need to wake up to realize that if America really takes up the Imperial Burden in the Middle East like the Wolfowitz Wing is demanding, then America's special relationship with Israel is history. Support for Israel is purely a matter of domestic idealism. The American institution that thinks in the broad picture - the State Department - has always found Israel to be a nuisance.
The more the U.S. becomes responsible for running the whole Mid East, the more of an inconvenience Israel becomes. Republics can indulge warm and idealistic commitments precisely because their foreign entanglements are limited in number; empires must be cold and calculating because their burdens are so manifold.
So far, the neocons have staunchly refused to notice this contradiction between building up a (fanatically anti-Israel) democracy in Iraq and traditional American support for Israel that they have brought upon themselves. If put to the question, I imagine the neocons would much prefer America to lose in Iraq than for American support to Israel to be compromised. But nobody seems to be asking them the question.
As I reported in VDARE.com in August 2005, there is some evidence that the black-white IQ gap is finally narrowing:
One of the most newsworthy aspects of "The Inequality Taboo" is [Charles] Murray's view that the white-black IQ gap may have narrowed slightly in recent years. According to Murray's article, the three most recent re-normings of major IQ tests came up with a mean white-black gap of 0.92 standard deviations, or 14 points.
That doesn't sound like much of a change from the one standard deviation (15 points) racial gap that IQ realists have been talking about for decades. But, in reality, they've been intentionally understating the traditional size of the difference. A 2001 meta-analysis of eight decades of data suggested a 1.1 standard deviation gap (16.5) points. So, if this new 14 point gap found in the three recent re-normings holds up as more data comes in, we may have seen some significant progress on this massive social problem.
Currently, though, the evidence remains far from clear. Murray writes in a footnote:
"Forced to make a bet, I would guess that the black-white difference in IQ has dropped by somewhere in the range of .10–.20 standard deviations over the last few decades. I must admit, however, that I am influenced by a gut-level conviction that the radical improvement in the political, legal, and economic environment for blacks in the last half of the 20th century must have had an effect on IQ."
Now, James Flynn (of Flynn Effect fame) and William Dickens have published "Black Americans reduce the racial IQ gap: Evidence from standardized samples" in Psychological Science. Looking at pretty much the same tests as Murray did, such as the military's AFQT, the Wechsler, and the Stanford-Binet, they argue for a 4 to 7 point decline in the gap between 1972 and 2002. (By the way, this would be substantially bigger than increases in interracial marriage, or in mixed race people changing their designation from white to blacks, could account for.)
The results they find are rather curious, however. They come up with strikingly different black IQs (on a scale where non-Hispanic white IQ is 100 and the standard deviation is 15) at different ages:
"95.4 at age 4, 90.5 at age 12, 87.0 at age 18"
In a counter-rebuttal to Arthur Jensen and J.P. Rushton's rebuttal, Flynn and Dickens mention something else pretty interesting:
"Our data give a current IQ for blacks age 24 of 83.4 or exactly 1.1 SDs below whites."
These data could be explained by two contrary models. Blacks could be getting smarter down through history, or blacks could be getting less smart as they age. (Or a combination of the two.) I haven't read the papers closely enough to see how strong the evidence is for one or the other explanation.
A few years ago, Flynn and Dickens put forward a theory that small differences in genetics get magnified by the environment because smart people choose more mentally challenging environments for themselves as they age. Steve Johnson writes:
Imagine "somebody who starts out with a tiny little physiological advantage: He's just a bit taller than his friends," Dickens says. "That person is going to be just a bit better at basketball." Thanks to this minor height advantage, he tends to enjoy pickup basketball games. He goes on to play in high school, where he gets excellent coaching and accumulates more experience and skill. "And that sets up a cycle that could, say, take him all the way to the NBA," Dickens says.
Hopefully, I've managed to convince my friend Flynn to stop using that particular analogy because NBA basketball players don't have a "tiny little physiological advantage" but instead have a huge one -- about 9 to 10 inches in height on average compared to the normal American man. Golf would make a more plausible analogy since the physiological advantages of star golfers aren't readily apparent until they swing. Phil Mickelson, for example, looks more like a guy sitting on his couch watching sports on TV than a TV sports hero.
Similarly, by the Flynn-Dickens logic, it could be that blacks are making themselves dimmer as they get older by listening to gangsta rap and the other anti-intelligent cultural tendencies they've developed.
So, if Flynn and Dickens are serious about altering the environments of blacks enough to put a sizable dent in the white-black IQ gap in adulthood, they would call for a police state that bans all manifestations of hip-hop, that executes Jay-Z and Dr. Dre as bad examples, that puts minor rappers and black celebrities in concentration camps, etc. I doubt if that would work, but it's at least a semiserious proposal for grappling with a problem of this magnitude. But they don't seem to be all that serious about actually doing anything about it.
August 7, 2006
A reader points me toward this CNN article from May:
Indianapolis was the leader among all major U.S. cities for housing affordability during the first quarter of 2006, according to the latest figures from the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo.
More than 90 percent of homes in the Indiana capital were affordable to families earning the median income for the area of about $65,100.
In Los Angeles, the least affordable big metro area, only 1.9 percent of the homes sold were within the reach of families earning a median income for the city of $56,200.
My reader goes on to cite definitive proof that expensive housing was not the case in LA before immigration cranked up. From 1971:
L.A.'s fine, the sun shines most the time
And the feeling is 'lay back'
Palm trees grow, and rents are low
But you know I keep thinkin' about
Making my way back
Good point, although I'm not sure if the famous chorus adds much to Neil Diamond's economic argument:
"I am," I said
To no one there
An no one heard at all
Not even the chair
As Dave Barry pointed out:
I realize that many of you are huge Neil Diamond fans, so let me stress that in matters of musical taste, everybody is entitled to an opinion, and yours is wrong, Consider the song "I Am, I Said," wherein Neil, with great emotion, sings:
I am, I said To no one there And no one heard at all Not even the chair.
What kind of line is that? Is Neil telling us that he's surprised that the chair didn't hear him? Maybe he expected the chair to say, "Whoa, I heard THAT." My guess is that Neil was really desperate to come up with something to rhyme with "there," and he had already rejected "So I ate a pear," "Like Smokey the Bear," and "There were nits in my hair."
In the Washington Post in "History's Against Him," Francis Fukuyama tries to stick some fingers in the leaking dyke of his End of History theory by explaining that the popularity of Hugo Chavez is a product of high oil prices. Good point, although that's something I noted last February:
Why are anti-American populists Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the news so much?
High oil prices. Populism is a winning political strategy when you have lots of windfall oil profits to spend on publicity stunts.
But what makes his long essay classic Fukuyama is that he tries to explain the upsurge of Latin American leftist populism without ever mentioning ... race. It's obvious just by looking at pictures of representatives of the the different sides in Latin America that the essential root of the conflict is that white people more or less own Latin America and dark people aren't happy about that fact. But Fukuyama is resolved to remain oblivious to the obvious.
As I wrote in VDARE in 2003 in my review of Amy Chua's World on Fire:
Francis Fukuyama famously announced at the end of the Cold War that humanity had reached "the end of history." Unfortunately, he forgot to tell history not to bother coming to work anymore.
Easy as it is to make fun of Fukuyama, where exactly did he go wrong?
Fukuyama's conception was formed by his expensive miseducation in the works of Hegel and other 19th Century German philosophers. History consists of the struggle to determine the proper ideology. Now there are no plausible alternatives to capitalist democracy. History, therefore, must be finished.
Lenin held a more realistic theory of what history is about: not ideology, but "Who? Whom?” (You can insert your own transitive verb between the two words.) History continues because the struggle to determine who will be the who rather than the whom will never end.
Fukuyama may be the only major nonwhite American intellectual who does not write primarily about race. This is admirable in many ways, but it's a fatal shortcoming in a thinker of such expansive ambitions. Race remains enormously relevant in this world.