September 15, 2006

So, exactly how much is Iran's War Machine spending today?

Reading the newspapers, I get the impression that Iran has embarked on a massive military build-up unprecedented since Hitler's in the 1930s. But there don't seem to be any actual numbers about how much Iran is spending in all the verbiage.

Each year, the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies publishes a new edition of The Military Balance, which reports on military budgets around the world. Unfortunately, they want 95 pounds for the book, which I can't afford. So, I've been Googling around looking for articles in the news media that will reveal the secret of Iran's latest military budget. I've found a lot of articles in the English-language press inspired by the May 24th publication of the 2006 edition of the book, but none of them seem much interested in the Iranian figures for 2005 that it contains.

So, here's the only article I've found. This June 1, 2006 piece is stored on the IISS website:

Iran's defense budget remains a fraction of the expenditure of its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf in per capita terms, according to the latest edition of Military Balance.

The spending by Iran is also the least as a percentage of the country's gross national product (GNP) in the region with the exception of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Military Balance, published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, puts Iran's defense budget for 2005 at $6.2 billion.

Iran's defense budget remains a fraction of the expenditure of its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf in per capita terms, according to the latest edition of Military Balance. The spending by Iran is also the least as a percentage of the country's gross national product (GNP) in the region with the exception of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)....

The amount is equivalent to $91 per head of the country's 68 million population, up to 25 times less than its neighbors on the other side of the Persian Gulf.

Saudi Arabia's defense budget of dlrs 25.4 billion corresponds to dlrs 962 per capita, spending by Oman of $3.02 bn equates to $1,007 per head and the UAE's $2.65 bn expenditure works out at $1,035 each for its 2.56 million inhabitants.

The ratio is even higher for Kuwait, an equivalent of dlrs 1,856 per head for its dlrs 4.27 bn defense budget in 2005. In Qatar, the cost reaches $2,538 per capita to make up its dlrs 3.02 bn expenditure.

In terms of the country's GDP, Iran's defense spending works out at only 3.5 percent, higher than only than the UAE's 2.23 percent among Persian Gulf countries. [Emphasis mine]

Expenditure in Bahrain, which is equivalent to $764 per capita, is 4.1 percent of GDP. In Qatar it is 6.19 percent, in Kuwait 6.24 percent, in Saudi Arabia 8.44 percent and in Oman 9.64 percent, the report said.

Now, this article is from the "Islam Republic News Agency," which I presume is a propaganda arm of the Tehran government. Still, the IISS hosts the article on its site, so I presume it's a factual transcription of what's in the IISS publication.

In other words, as of 2005, Iran is spending a smaller share, 3.5%, of its tiny GDP on military matters than America is spending of its vast GDP. According to an International Herald Tribune article of the same day, the IISS estimates America's military spending in 2005 as 3.7% of our gigantic GDP.

The US GDP is more than 20 times bigger than Iran's when measured in terms of purchasing power parity and more than 60 time bigger when measured by exchange rates. A reader has pointed out that the effective figure is probably about halfway in between, or 40 or so times bigger: Iran pays soldiers' wages in purchasing power parity but has to buy technology abroad at the exchange rate.

So, what is Iran up to?

The Guardian reported, based on Military Balance 2006:

Iran's leaders have responded to the threat of US military action by adopting a policy of "strategic deterrent defence", intended to complement diplomatic means, it says. "Iran is also careful not to adopt an offensive posture. Iran's strategy is to absorb a first strike, then initiate immediate retaliation with all means available - but only if such a move serves political ends and does not threaten the very existence of the Islamic regime."

The IISS said Iranian retaliation could range from instigating trouble next door in Iraq and Afghanistan to trying to block the Straits of Hormuz, a western oil supply route at the mouth of the Gulf. Iran may have practised minelaying in the straits during recent military exercises.

In other words, Iran, residing between two countries recently conquered by the U.S. and being in the same general region as the very powerful Israeli military, is scared of being attacked by the U.S. and/or Israel. So, it is investing, at a moderate pace, in deterrent weapons, while being "careful not to adopt an offensive posture."

If Iran had offensive intentions, what would it be up to? One obvious opportunity would be its northern neighbor, Azerbaijan, which is oil-endowed, horribly ruled, and populated by the Azeri ethnic group that makes up much of the core of Iran's population. For example, Ali Khameni, who is the Supreme Leader of Iran (not President Borat, as you might imagine if you trusted the newspapers), is an Azeri.

It's like if Nova Scotia was an independent country run by a kleptocrat who had inherited his job from his dad, a Soviet apparatchik. And if Nova Scotia had oil! In that case, America would have have mounted a Nova Scotian Liberation operation a long, long time ago. And yet, Iran doesn't seem to be doing much of anything about Azerbaijan.

Similarly, Iran isn't doing much of anything anywhere else. It spends $100 million per year on Hezbollah, which has been good for PR recently due to Israeli incompetence, and it has benefited from America spending hundreds of billions to hand Iraq over to Shi'ites with strong ties to Iran. But mostly it seems to be trying to deter attack by the two most dangerous countries in the region, America and Israel.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

East vs. West

One of the founding intellectuals of Muslim fundamentalism, Sayyid Qutb, became radicalized while getting a Master's degree in rural Colorado in the 1940s, which bodes ill for President Bush's initiative to import 15,000 more Saudi students. A reader in Istanbul believes that the old bachelor was indeed freaked out by American male-female relations:

Up front, you're absolutely right about the whole dynamic of importing foreign students in the hope of propagating the allegedly superior Western liberal cultural norms. It only backfires on the whole for the simple reason that no culture's males enjoy learning how backward and useless the culture they've inherited from their ancestors.

Qutb probably felt that sexual difference between the East and the West very acutely, regardless of how much textual real-estate he allocated to it in his books. I am completely sure of that.

But why is that?

Call me reductionistic, but probably the answer lies - just like with nationalism - with the marital patterns. In other words, close kin marriages.

It is no coincidence that the so-called "romantic" norm has evolved among the European Caucasian demography because of the specific workings of the incest taboo. For the Eastern male, the female is not someone endowed with the legal status of having "sexual desire," or being the subject of desire. That is because in his social reality, females are assigned, by familial authority and fiat, their partners, period. Only in a social environment where the daughter is to be married to non-family (a stranger) can the question of she having a say on with whom she's coupled gain prominence. And that quite naturally, through the dynamic of parenthood. If you, as a parent, are simply wedding your daughter to your brother's son, there's no "emotions" to discuss: he's family. If, however, it is Mr. X, then you'll ponder, "Heck, is he worthy of our daughter?" And "Does our beloved girl consent?"

And it is only in such an environment that romance, and with it the intra-gender rivalry, can come to the fore.

In the East, the male doesn't know anything like having to "earn" a girl: sooner or later he's assigned one. In the West, he has to *get* the girl - attract her attention, be able to flirt with her, seduce her, etc.

This drives the Eastern male crazy.

The whole high-falutin' rhetoric of "morals" is just a blanket over this arrogance. Women who both dress so immodestly (since they, too, have to compete for the attention of desirable males) who then show the insolence of having a say in whom they are paired with. Unthinkable and unacceptable for the Eastern male...

Think of the frustration that comes with being excluded from this game from the start by definition (due to race).

I could relate numerous personal incidents involving this, but when I was witnessing those incidents I didn't have a clear picture of the why. Now I do: it's the bloody "marital patterns."

The Middle East, far from being the haven of inclusiveness that leftie morons imagine it to be, is probably the most xenophobic part of the earth, and most probably because of this.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 14, 2006

Who are the real killers?

Who have been the real killers? I'm rereading John Keegan's 1993 book A History of Warfare, which I didn't quite grasp my first time through a decade ago. A difficult book, it's Keegan's attempt to refute Clausewitz's On War, to show that following out "the logic of war" to its conclusion leads not to rationality but to madness and self-destruction. Keegan promotes the more diffident approaches to warmaking traditionally popular outside the West.

It's starting to make more sense to me today, as war fever is promoted in America again. For example, Charles Krauthammer, who will probably next be worrying about the mineshaft gap, proclaims in the Washington Post today that Iran, a nation with a 2,500 year history of military mediocrity going back to the Battle of Marathon and a current military budget a tiny fraction of America's, is far more dangerous than the Soviet Union ever was:

The mullahs are infinitely more likely to use these weapons than anyone in the history of the nuclear age. Every city in the civilized world will live under the specter of instant annihilation delivered either by missile or by terrorist. ... Against millenarian fanaticism glorying in a cult of death, deterrence is a mere wish.

Krauthammer claims he wants an air strike, but, as we saw with Israel blasting Lebanon from the air with limited effect on their dug-in enemies, that's likely to fail. So, having poked the hornets nest, we would then be advocated into a ground invasion of Iran to finish the war. Getting to Tehran from Baghdad by tank is kind of like getting to Denver from Salt Lake City -- lots of mountains -- but it can be done. But then what? Iran will be like Iraq but three times bigger. Down that road lies horrifying possibilities, such as an Army revolt and the end of Constitutional government in Washington, or nuclear genocide.

In his "Conclusion" chapter, Keegan contrasts three civilizations' approaches to war over the vast sweep of history:

"Oriental warmaking [i.e., Chinese and Islamic], if we may so identify and denominate it as something different and apart from European warfare, is characterised by traits peculiar to itself. Foremost among these are evasion, delay, and indirectness...

"The Confucian ideal of rationality, continuity and maintenance of institutions led them to seek means of subordinating the warrior impulse to the constraints of law and custom ... the most persistent feature of Chinese military life was moderation, designed to preserve cultural forms rather than serve imperatives of foreign conquest or internal revolution.

"Restraint in warmaking was also a feature of the other dominant civilization of Asia, that of Islam. The perception is contrary. Islam is widely seen as a religion of conquest and one of if its most widely known tenets is that of the obligation to wage holy war against the unbeliever. The history of Islamic conquest and the exact nature of the doctrine of holy warmaking are both misunderstood outside the Muslim community. The era of conquest was comparatively short-lived and came to an end not simply because Islam's opponents learnt how to mobilize opposition to it but also because Islam itself became divided over the morality of warmaking.

Riven by internal disputes which set Muslim against Muslim, in defiance of the doctrine that they should not fight against each, its supreme authority chose the solution of devolving the warmaking role on to a specialist and subordinate class of warriors recruited for the purpose [i.e.., slave soldiers, such as the Mamelukes of Egypt], thus freeing the majority from military obligations and allowing the pious to emphasize in their personal lives the 'greater' rather than the 'lesser' aspect of the injunction to wage holy war, 'the war against self.'

As the specialists chosen by Islam to wage war in its name were chiefly recruited from steppe horsemen [e.g., Turks] who refused to adapt their military culture to changed circumstances even when their monopoly of arms brought them to power [slave soldiers often took over the state, but typically maintained their own slave status, bizarrely], Islamic warmaking eventually became almost as circumscribed as within Chinese civilization. Within the culture the effects were widely beneficial.

Once that culture encountered the full force of another, which recognized none of the constraints the Oriental [Asian] tradition had imposed upon itself, it succumbed to a ruthlessness it was not prepared or able to mobilize even in self-defence.

That culture was Western.

Why have we Westerners been, on the whole, the most ruthless and efficient killers in human history? Keegan continues:

It comprised three elements: ... moral, intellectual, and technological...

- The moral element is owed to the Greeks of the classical age. It was they who, in the fifth century BC, cut loose from the constraints of the primitive style ... and adopted the practice of face-to-face battle to the death.

As the War Nerd says, the human default is "war without battles" -- lots of ambushes and massacres of civilians and the occasional exchange of arrows or rocks at a distance close enough to show off one's manliness but not so close as to get many warriors actually killed -- but battle in the Greek style, with edged metal weapons hacking the flesh of opposing warriors at arms-length, was too terrifying for most cultures.

This departure, confined initially to warfare among the Greeks themselves, was deeply shocking to those outside the Greek world who were first exposed to it. The story of Alexander the Great's encounter with Persia, an empire whose style of warmaking contained elements both of primitive ritual and of the horse warrior's evasiveness is ... a paradigm of cultural difference. The Emperor Darius is a genuinely tragic figure, for the civilisation that he represented was quite unprepared to contend with enemies who could not be bought or talked off after they had won an advantage, who sought always to bring the issue to the test of battle and who fought in battle as if its immediate outcome took precedence over all other considerations, including that of personal survival...

- [The Crusades] resolved the inherent Christian dilemma over the morality of warmaking by transmitting to the West the ethic of holy war, which was thereafter to invest Western military culture with an ideological and intellectual dimension it had thitherto lacked.

- The combination of the face-to-face style -- in which the ethic of personal honour was embedded -- with that ideological dimension then only awaited the addition of the technological element [e.g., gunpoweder] to produce the final Western manner of warmaking... The Western world, by forsaking arms control [in contrast to, for example, the Japanese banning guns after 1601 to preserve the trained samurai swordsman's monopoly on violence and power], embarked on a different course, which resulted in the form of warfare that Clausewitz said was war itself...

The Western way of warfare was to carry all before it in the years after Clausewitz died [1832-1913]...

The triumph of the Western way of warfare was, however, delusive. Directed against other military cultures it had proved irresistible. Turned in on itself it brought disaster and threatened catastrophe.

The First World War, fought almost exclusively between European states, terminated European dominance of the world and, through the suffering it inflicted on the participant populations, corrupted what was best in their civilisation -- its liberalism and hopefulness -- and conferred on militarists and totalitarians the role of proclaiming the future. The future they wanted brought about the Second World War which completed the ruin initiated by the First. It also brought about the development of nuclear weapons, the logical culmination of the technological trend in the Western way of warfare, and the ultimate denial of the proposition that war was, or might be, a continuation of politics by other means.

Politics must continue; war cannot.

Countries can change fairly rapidly -- Japan went from a land armed with swords in 1853 to having (briefly) the world's most dangerous aircraft carrier fleet. The Chinese fought like Europeans during the Warring States period, before Empire blunted their competitive streak.

Still, I don't see any evidence at all of Iran becoming a dynamic predator. It's kind of like Mexico, only more ramshackle. Its overall GDP is about half of Mexico's.

So, why do we hear about Iran all the time lately? Obviously, one big reason is because the GOP can't think what else to run on in November. They could run and win on restricting immigration, but there's the little problem that President Bush desperately wants to open the borders up.

Another reason is that there aren't too many other candidates left for us to play the Great Game of Nations with.

It's fun to maneuver for supposed national advantage, even if most of the time the ploys are either essentially pointless (readers of a certain age will remember the apparent crisis when the Soviet Union abandoned its ally Somalia to take up with "strategically-located" Ethiopia, thus causing a devastating setback to essential American interests, such as they were, in the highlands of Abyssinia) or simply for the benefit of narrow domestic special interests (practically nobody in America other than the United Fruit Co. cared about the banana republics that poor Gen. Smedley Butler and his Marines kept getting sent to).

Three years ago the big threat to America was supposed to be Saddam Hussein, but he turned out to be an old man pursuing his literary interests (when he was captured in his hole in the ground, he was reading Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment) by writing romance novels. So this year, the most dangerous man in the world is supposed to be Iran's newly elected President Borat, who is said to be re-assembling the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great, mostly, it seems, by running his mouth off nonstop.

Finally, there is the obvious but largely unmentionable fact that much of the media elite, such as Krauthammer, are obsessed with Israel for personal ethnocentric reasons rather than anything remotely related to the (American) national interest. Israel is what gives their aging lives meaning.

America actually does have a long term strategic rival that is worth worrying about. It's a country with about 18 times the population of Iran and about a standard deviation higher average IQ. But competing with China in an effective fashion would involve doing the hard, unpleasant work of preserving some of America's industrial base, rather than letting Wal-Mart outsource it all to China. So, forget that. Instead, let's talk about the latest horrible thing President Borat said.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Political correctness saved Mohammed Atta (and doomed thousands)

It was not until 2005 that Michael Tuohey surfaced. He was the veteran U.S. Air ticket agent in Portland, ME who checked in Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 19 9/11 terrorists, and a companion on the first leg of their trip that ended in the World Trade Center. Tuohey was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey:

Michael Tuohey was going to work like he had for 37 years, but little did he know that this day would change his life forever. On September 11, 2001, Tuohey, a ticket agent for U.S. Airways, checked in terrorist Mohammed Atta for a flight that started a chain of events that would change history.

Tuohey was working the U.S. Airways first-class check-in desk when two men, Atta and his companion Abdul Azziz-Alomari, approached his counter. From all outward appearances, the men seemed to be normal businessmen, but Tuohey felt something was wrong.

"I got an instant chill when I looked at [Atta]. I got this grip in my stomach and then, of course, I gave myself a political correct slap...I thought, 'My God, Michael, these are just a couple of Arab businessmen.'"

Tuohey also told David Hench of the Portland Press Herald:

Then his eyes locked on Atta.

"It just sent chills through you. You see his picture in the paper (now). You see more life in that picture than there is in flesh and blood," Tuohey said.

Then Tuohey went through an internal debate that still haunts him.

"I said to myself, 'If this guy doesn't look like an Arab terrorist, then nothing does.' Then I gave myself a mental slap, because in this day and age, it's not nice to say things like this," he said. "You've checked in hundreds of Arabs and Hindus and Sikhs, and you've never done that. I felt kind of embarrassed."

It wasn't just Atta's demeanor that caught Tuohey's attention.

"When I looked at their tickets, they had first-class, one-way tickets - $2,500 tickets. Very unusual," he said. "I guess they're not coming back. Maybe this is the end of their trip."

The massive issue that has remained almost unexplored over the last five years is whether the Bush Administration's campaign against racial profiling of Arab airline passengers, first announced by George W. Bush in his second debate with Al Gore on 10/11/00, contributed, directly or indirectly, to the various airport personnel refusing to act on their natural suspicions of the 19 Arab terrorists. As I wrote during the evening of 9/11/01 in my UPI article "Bush Had Called for Laxer Airport Security:"

This year [2001], 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."

But nobody seems very interested in pursuing this question.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Unbearable Innocence of Economists

I always had a tendency toward hero worship, in the sense that I assumed that if somebody is very good at one thing, then he must be an all-around great guy. If O.J. Simpson rushes for 2003 yards, then he's just got to be nice to everyone around him. If Michael Milken is making bundles of money, then he must be doing it in the most ethical manner imaginable.

One advantage of now being an old coot is that this boyish faith in the inevitable moral goodness of the accomplished has been beaten down over the decades by experience.

You might think that economists would be inoculated against hero worship by the skepticism that ought to be inculcated by their studies. After all, Adam Smith observed (in the words of Leo Rosten):

Smith knew perfectly well that businessmen are prone to possess "a mean rapacity [and] monopolizing spirit." "People of the same trade seldom meet together," he wrote, without concocting "a conspiracy against the public." In a typically dry, wry, memorable passage, he observed:

"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves not to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages."

And yet, economists are often suckers for the rich. Bryan Caplan, a libertarian professor of economics at George Mason U., offers this astonishingly naive post on his EconLog blog:

Demographics of the Oligarchs
Bryan Caplan

You've heard about the Russian "oligarchs," right? They're the richest men in Russia. The insinuation is almost invariably that they owe their riches not to entrepreneurial ability, but to political connections. It's not "what you know," but "who you know," right?

If this theory were true, you would expect the oligarchs to have unusual demographics for business leaders. In particular, they should be:

#1 Unusually likely to have been important members of the Communist Party before they went into business.

#2 Unusually unlikely to come from groups - like Jews and Armenians - known around the world for their entrepreneurial talent.

Both predictions are wrong.

Most of the oligarchs are too young to have been Communist Party bigwigs...

Even more striking: The oligarchs are disproportionately Jewish. 90% of Russian Jews have left the country over the last 30 years, but 6 out of the 7 leading oligarchs have Jewish ancestry. This would be hard to explain if their success were primarily due to political connections - but expected if their success largely reflected entrepreneurial ability.

Of course, in a corrupt and chaotic environment like post-Communist Russia, no successful businessman is going to have a perfectly clean record. You've got to compromise with the system to get by, and cut corners to get ahead. The real question is: "How much of the oligarchs' success stems from entrepreneurial ability, and how much from political connections?" Demographic information alone can't resolve the question, but it does tilt the scales in the direction of ability.

It's just so unfair the way the media despises entrepreneurs who make us all better off. Look how they called Rockefeller and Carnegie "robber barons," yet as they got rich, America got richer too. Same with Russia under Yeltsin. As these so-called "oligarchs" got unimaginably rich, the average Russian also got ... well, uh, he got ... okay, maybe in crude money terms he didn't do so well, but his life expectancy .. oh ... Look, let me get back to you on this...

Bryan, Yeltsin overthrew Communist Party rule when he came to power. His runoff opponent in 1996 was Gennady Zyuganov, a Communist. Of course, the crooks Yeltsin turned to to finance his re-election campaign in return for his handing them much of the newly privatized national industries of Russia (through the loans-for-shares rigged auctions) tended to be newer men. They had frequently been clever fixers and black marketeers whose machinations had been tolerated under the Communists. But they hadn't wormed their way into the heart of political favor until Yeltsin's anti-Communist regime.

But being Yeltsin's bankroller was lucrative indeed. Khodorkovsky, for example, bought about 1% of the world's oil reserves for $159 million in an auction that he himself ran for the Russian government! (He's currently serving 9 years in prison for tax evasion.) Similarly, Roman Abramovich bought the giant Sibneft oil company for $100 million. The Russian government recently bought 73% of it back from Abramovich for $13 billion.

Khodorkovsky and Abramovich didn't discover the oil or pump it out of the ground as Caplan imagines - they just bought proven reserves in rigged auctions. I'm sure they are talented wheeler-dealers, but they aren't exactly Henry Ford or Thomas Alva Edison when it comes to increasing national productivity.

What happened in Russia in the 1990s was one of the great economic crimes in all history. And it happened largely with the approval of the American economists who were employed in large numbers, typically at American taxpayer expense, to advise the Yeltsin regime. Indeed, one of America's top economists, Harvard's Andrei Shleifer (Larry Summers' best friend), was in on the corruption himself. Yet, the economics profession has done nothing to chastise Shleifer for his crookedness that ended up being penalized $28 million by a U.S. federal judge. David Warsh reported:

Meanwhile, the elders of the economics profession have expressed solidarity with the embattled professor by appointing Shleifer editor of the "Journal of Economic Perspectives." Since the quarterly is intended by the American Economic Association to represent technical economics to the general public, the job is a position of enormous influence. The fact that former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz doesn't mention the government's case against Harvard in his otherwise incendiary Globalization and Its Discontents suggests just how far professional courtesy extends. For that matter, the Shleifer story doesn't come up in [Paul G. Hoffman's] The Oligarchs, either.

Let me make a prediction: That interested parties like Shleifer and Summers will not take up Caplan's "demographic" argument to defend their involvement in what happened to Russia in the 1990s. You will not start reading widely Caplan's observation that:

"The oligarchs are disproportionately Jewish. 90% of Russian Jews have left the country over the last 30 years, but 6 out of the 7 leading oligarchs have Jewish ancestry."

Call me crazy, but for some vague reason, I'm guessing that Caplan's logic just isn't going to prove that popular with his fellow defenders of the Yeltsin era.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 13, 2006


Not being terribly interested in the inner thoughts of teenage girls, I hadn't been following the Lonelygirl15 webcam phenomenon, which was exposed this week as an elaborate performance created by an actress who was a lot older than 15 and a few guys who want to get into Hollywood movie-making. What caught my eye was the end of the NYT article:

Part of the appeal of the series was that the serious-minded, literate Bree offered an unbeatable fantasy: a beautiful girl who techy guys had something in common with.

On learning that Ms. Rose was an actress whose interests, unlike the scientific and religious issues that fascinated Bree, ran to parties and posing, one fan wrote, “Very cute, but she’s really not into Feynmann [sic] and Jared Diamond! (I’m heart-broken ...But a wonderful actress, had me fooled into thinking she was a geek like me.)”

In other words, this was another mass nerd crush fiasco, like the Libertarian Girl blog, which turned out to be some guy who wasn't making it as just another libertarian guy blogger, so he picked out a picture from a Ukrainian mail order bride catalog and briefly became a blogging sensation.

I'm reminded once again of how little effort young men and young women in modern America put into connecting with each other mentally. There's a gigantic number of high IQ lonely guys out there desperate to meet a girl who wants to talk about the things they like to talk about.

Feminism has exacerbated the chasm between the sexes by telling women to go ahead and assume what they've always wanted to assume:

When a man acts like he is more interested in logical, impersonal subjects rather than in the emotional, personal subjects that interest me, when he appears more impressed by Richard Feynman than by Oprah, he's just doing it to piss me off. The sexes are absolutely identical, as every educated person knows, and since I know how I feel, then he must be just covering up his inner feelings because ... well, because men are evil. Hey, there's some of your logic for you! Now how do you like logic?

One of the big advantages that Asian women have in the American marriage market is they don't seem to think like this as much. They see some guy at a party that none of the white girls will talk to because he seems like a nerd, so they start talking to him, and, sure enough, he wants to talk about physics. And they think roughly to themselves:

Physics is hard. Not many people have a logical enough brain to understand it. Logical talent is always in short supply, so it's paid well. Men who are paid well make better boyfriends and husbands than men who aren't paid well. Okay, maybe physics doesn't pay well, but he looks like the kind of guy I could talk into going into a more practical career without him ever really noticing it wasn't his idea. Sure, he's shy and nerdy and my girlfriends won't be impressed by how sexy he is, and it will be hard to get him to tell me the things I want to hear, but that also means he won't be out in bars telling other girls what they want to hear all the time. Every Friday night he'll come home to me (and, eventually, the kids) with his paycheck.

So, I'll pretend to be interested in physics. I always kind of wanted to be an actress, so it will be fun! It will be like playing the beautiful lady scientist in one of those science fiction movies he's probably crazy about. He'll be so astonished a pretty girl likes physics that he'll be eating out of my hand. And, he is kind of cute. He has a very masculine mind, which makes him rather interesting.

Am I being manipulative? Of course, but it's for his own good. If some smart woman doesn't manipulate him, he'll waste his life going to
Firefly conventions by himself.

And, having a 49 point advantage (half a standard deviation) on the Math SAT over the average white girl gives the average Asian girl more ability to fake being excited about nerdy topics. And maybe this stronger logical ability helps her think more logically about her own self-interest?

Meanwhile, the lack of effort millions of males put in to finding females is similarly striking. Guys, have you ever gone to an art gallery opening? Tried reading a novel that girls like? (Okay, granted, The Da Vinci Code will rot your brain and make you want to become a monk on Mt. Athos to get away from the kind of thinking that appeals to the largely female audience for TDVC, but Pride and Prejudice is better than any sci-fi novel you ever read.)

A reader replies:

Woah, woah, let's not go off the deep end. Cut us some slack. There's a comic book store on St. Mark's Place in NYC that is, I swear, exclusively staffed by cute girls. Sure, it's probably some sort of elaborate scheme by the owner, and sure it's a catch-22 because the store doesn't have very many of the indie comics that it's safe to buy in front of girls, only embarassing superhero stuff, but nonetheless the whole setup whispers: "don't change your ways...this is how the world can's girls's fault for being so girly..." Logic-- logic I tell you--says there's no need yet to do anything drastic like make an effort to compromise in the feminine direction. Logic.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 12, 2006

Bush's deal with the King of Saudi Arabia

to bring 15,000 young Saudi males to study at American colleges, exactly five years after 15 young Saudi males in the U.S. helped kill 3,000 Americans, continues to amaze. The notion that the American college experience will uniformly turn these 15,000 into America-loving Seinfeld fans is dangerously naive. As I explained in in 2003:

The U.S. college experience can set off ugly reactions in foreigners. Perhaps the most disastrous example: the Egyptian fundamentalist ideologue Sayyid Qutb, the "Philosopher of Islamic Terror" who became "the intellectual hero of every one of the groups that eventually went into Al Qaeda," according to Paul Berman. In the New York Times March 23, 2003, Berman writes:

"[Sayyid Qutb] even traveled to the United States in the late 1940's, enrolled at the Colorado State College of Education and earned a master's degree. In some of the accounts of Qutb's life, this trip to America is pictured as a ghastly trauma, mostly because of America's sexual freedoms, which sent him reeling back to Egypt in a mood of hatred and fear."

It’s hard to predict what will outrage visitors from other cultures. Qutb's conversion from modernizing to jihad is sometimes said to be a reaction to the lasciviousness of a church dance he attended in Greeley, Colorado!

Perhaps the most detailed account of this alienation process at work in a foreign intellectual is John Updike's 1978 novel The Coup. Written when Updike was at the height of his powers, it might be his most spectacular (if hyperbolic) effort. The Coup consists of the extraordinarily articulate memoirs of the revolutionary dictator of an impoverished African country.

Colonel-President Hakim Ellellou is a fervent Muslim, Marxist, and black racist. He's perfectly aware that his three faiths are contradictory. But, since they each give him additional reasons to indulge his consuming hatred of America ("that fountainhead of obscenity and glut"), he luxuriates in them all.

Ellellou traces his obsession with America to the four seemingly-pleasant years he spent at a liberal arts college in small-town Wisconsin in the 1950s, where he made blonde Candace the second of his Prophet-sanctioned four wives.

How can America's openness backfire so badly? Well, American universities specialize in leftist indoctrination. Maybe their foreign students, well, study.

And foreigners living in America are constantly confronted with America’s superiority over their homelands. It would be wonderful if every visitor to the U.S. reacted as objectively as Alexis de Tocqueville. But don't count on it.

For instance, years later Updike’s Ellellou is still driven into a rage by the thought of how well stocked a Wisconsin drugstore was compared to the shops at home:

"Hakim's instinct was to smash, to disarray this multifaceted machine, this drugstore, so unlike the chaste and arcane pharmacies of Caillieville, where the sallow Frenchman in his lime-green smock guarded his goods behind a chest-high counter showing only a few phials of colored water."

I sympathize. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley and went to Rice University in Houston. On any kind of rational scale, the difference between living in suburban California and suburban Texas is minimal. But so what? I was young. I missed my home. The testosterone was flowing. So I just decided I was going to hate Houston. I spent four years, objectively as enjoyable as Ellellou's, searching out reasons to despise Texas.

If I could succumb to pointless anti-Texanism, how much more understandable is the anti-Americanism of many immigrant students?


A graduate of the U. of Oregon in 1900 was Yosuke Matsuoka, who was the fanatically anti-American Foreign Minister of Japan in 1941. He died in 1946 before his war crimes trial could be completed, but he is listed as one of the 14 Class A War Criminals.

Even one of the success stories of foreign college students turned out to be a disaster in the complicated long run. The U.S. magnanimously converted its share of the indemnity paid by the Chinese government for the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 into scholarships for Chinese students at American colleges.

According to reporter Theodore White, when he arrived at Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Chinese capital of Chunking in 1940, the Chinese government was apparently run by American college graduates. Like the rest of the American press, especially his Chinese-born employer Henry Luce of Time-Life, the son of a top missionary, White imagined that the Chinese government was completely Americanized. The American media was wild about Chiang.

Only gradually did he realize the English-speakers were just window dressing. Despite his American-educated wife (who died just three years ago in NYC at age 106!), Chiang was utterly Chinese in his thought patterns. A sense of wounded racial pride was dominant in his character. He didn't like America very much at all, and did as little as he possibly could to help us win WWII. Even though Japan occupied coastal China, Chiang felt that was a temporary trifle. Eventually, he reasoned, America would beat Japan, so Japan would go home. The Americans would go home next. Then the truly important struggle would ensue between he and Mao to see who would be Emperor of China. So, Chiang spent most of WWII maneuvering not to beat Japan but to put himself into position to beat Mao afterwards, driving poor General Stillwell round the bend with frustration.

But the pro-Chiang China Lobby in the U.S., snookered by the thin veneer of American college graduates in his government, didn't understand any of this. Not surprisingly, the winning Communists were vehemently anti-American, with disastrous consequences for both countries over the next two decades.

(Even though he lost to Mao, Chiang's fundamental insight -- foreigners always go home in the end, so the real question is which one of us will ultimately rule the homeland -- was largely correct. We should keep it in mind in understanding why the Iraqis do the frustrating things they do: they know we will leave sooner or later, so they are positioning themselves for the fight to become the Owner of the Oil.)

Similarly, lots of members of the Shah of Iran's affluent supporters sent their children to America to get college degrees. And America and Iran have been friends ever since. And it could never possibly happen that the Saudi royal will be overthrown...

This is not to say that we shouldn't allow in foreign students, but for the President of the United States to work out a deal to bring in 15,000 of Osama bin-Laden's countrymen speaks volumes about Mr. Bush's judgment.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

I spoke too soon

I often criticize the competence of government today in contrast to what it could accomplish in the mid-20th Century when it set its mind to building an A-bomb or going to the moon.

So, I was looking for a counter-example of something the federal government is currently handling well, and I came up with the on-going effort to counterfeit-proof paper money. Back in the late 1980s, the Treasury became worried that future advances in computer scanners and color printers would make counterfeiting on your desktop easy and fun. So, they began in the 1990s to frequently change the designs, commissioning handsome larger portraits, moving them off-center, and adding lots of small changes such as watermarks and security threads that make counterfeiting harder. (You can look at the lowly one dollar bill to see the old insecure design.)

And yet, the government had also been doing a good job of preserving the traditional look and dignity of paper money. As Dave Barry says, the U.S. is practically the only country in the world whose currency doesn't look like it was designed by schoolchildren. The key is that the greenback has stayed green. Sure, being all green makes it harder to tell the denominations apart, but that's the price of tradition.

Until now.

The new ten dollar bill is ... yellow. It looks like the paper money in an extremely deluxe Monopoly game.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 11, 2006

What if they held "a decisive battle" and nobody came?

In the Washington Post:

Reinforce Baghdad
By William Kristol and Rich Lowry

There is no mystery as to what can make the crucial difference in the battle of Baghdad: American troops...

The bottom line is this: More U.S. troops in Iraq would improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment.

Who exactly would be so stupid as to emerge to fight "a decisive battle at a decisive moment" with the U.S. military, much less an augmented U.S. military? Especially in a multi-faction war of all against all?

The smart strategy if the U.S. was adding men to fight "a decisive battle" in Baghdad would be to temporarily move to another part of the country, such as the crucial oil regions. That's what happened in Fallujah in late 2004 -- the bigshots headed north and just left the local neighborhood hooligans to die at the hands of the Marines.

Better yet, let your rivals get whomped by the Americans in the decisive battle. Then, when they're dead and the Americans are tired, you filter back in and take over.

Of course, all your rivals will have the same thought, so only disorganized teenage hotheads are likely to take up the American challenge.

Indeed, the violence perpetrated by the Shiite militias is directly related to politics. It is part of a power play by the likes of Moqtada al-Sadr to marginalize moderate figures such as Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Sistani's recent statement of disgust with Iraqi politics suggests that Sadr's gambit may be working. Sending more American troops at this juncture would not be a simple-minded and clumsy substitution of military force for political finesse. It would be an attempt to influence Iraq's political situation in our favor.

As a way to win friends and influence people, spraying the neighborhood down with .50 caliber machinegun fire and dropping smart bombs on apartments builidngs is a surefire winner.

The administration's military strategy has long been based on getting the Iraqis to do the "holding" in the counterinsurgency strategy of "clear, hold and build." That would obviously be ideal. But the experience of the past three years is that the Iraqis aren't yet up to it, at least not in hotly contested areas such as Baghdad. The administration deserves credit for the strides it has made in training the Iraqi army. But for now we have to do much of the holding ourselves for it to be effective. That simply requires more manpower.

If American troops hand neighborhoods over to Iraqis, they are likely to soon deteriorate again -- in the same dynamic we have repeatedly seen of trouble spots being brought under control by American troops only to slide back again when the Americans leave.

Uh, yeah, that is what would eventually happen under your plan. Oh, wait, I forgot, we're going to first fight "a decisive battle" with somebody or other, so that won't be a problem. It will all, by definition, be decided.

It's time to watch "Red Dawn" again. Fast forward to the part where one of the rebels in the Rockies asks their leader Patrick Swayze how he can justify committing the same atrocities as the Communist invaders, like shooting prisoners.

"Because ... we ... live here!"

And that's the essential problem: the Iraqis live in Iraq. Absurd as it seems, they like the place. Sure, it's a godforsaken hole in the ground not fit for man or goat, but, to them, it's home.

And we've got our own home, wonderfully far away from Iraq, and we like our home too. Sooner or later, we're going to go home.

And then the Iraqis will continue shooting each other until the question of who owns the oil is resolved. But then, they'll start pumping it again, driving down the price on the world market.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Caucasoid Phenotypic Variation"

is a great photographic post at the Racial Realities blog, following up on a technique developed by Dienekes. It shows composite averaged pictures of World Cup soccer players from 13 different European national teams and 3 Middle Eastern ones (immigrants and hired mercenaries are excluded). Yes, the Dutch look slightly different from the Brits and Iranians quite a bit different from Saudis, all in predictable ways..

Here are the original pictures of the individual footballers. Averaging does a lot to improve their looks! For such healthy young men, soccer players seem like a pretty motley crew. (Wayne Rooney, this means you.) Perhaps getting kicked in the face with soccer balls all the time doesn't do much for your facial symmetry?

Comparing the two sets of pictures is a good way to see how much diversity in looks there is within nationalities and how yet there still exist stereotypical differences between nationalities. This illustrates how Lewontin's 85-15 Paradox doesn't say what the old Marxist-Leninist wants it to way -- yes, there is much diversity within racial groups, yet differences between groups on average (even between national groups within the same continental-scale race) are still meaningful.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Kwame Anthony Appiah, professor of philosophy at Princeton and formerly a member of Henry Louis Gates' Department of Afro-American Studies at Harvard, is a prominent black intellectual. He has recently switched from calling himself "Anthony" to calling himself "Kwame" so you won't forget he's black.

Something I hadn't known until now, however, is that Dr. Appiah is the grandson of Sir Stafford Cripps, the famous British Chancellor of the Exchequer during the late 1940s. His mother Peggy Cripps married Ghanian aristocrat Joe Appiah. Their marriage was said to be the inspiration for the movie 1967 movie "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Learned Stupidity

A reader writes:

John Derbyshire is right, most Americans are innumerate. Unfortunately, I would have to number myself among them. I couldn't rigorously define a standard deviation at gunpoint. But that doesn't mean that I don't have a rudimentary grasp of statistical concepts. Talk to any sports fan or gambler and I bet they have a good rudimentary grasp as well (baseball batting averages, lottery odds, etc.). The point is that statistical ignorance is usually reserved for political and cultural issues, and this is by design of the current educational establishment.

I've encountered this annoying ignorance many times myself. But rather than being an issue of innumeracy, I consider it to be symptomatic of postmodern degeneracy. Averages are suspect because of their close connection with the cultural taboo of stereotypes. Epistemologically, one of postmodernism's most cherished notions is that facts and truth are either nonexistent or are culturally specific. Truth can only be found in the most marginalized exceptions. The postmodernists are correct; statistics are indeed the very essence of valid stereotypes.

I have found a viable solution to this problem, however. When I'm engaged in conversation and somebody pulls out the, "but not all...", or "that's not always true" inanities, I just look at them and say words to the effect of, "Sorry, but I assumed you understand the difference between all, some, and none." And indeed, the relationships between all, some, and none comprise the very essence of statistics.

This woeful ignorance is new. It is also self-inflicted. These are the bitter fruits of postmodernism, which favors right attitudes at the expense of knowledge and skills.

Yes, it's remarkable how the concept of "the average" is now morally suspect across the political spectrum.

Modern statistical analysis was largely invented by three eugenicists: Sir Francis Galton, Karl Pearson, and Sir Ronald A. Fisher. I'm alive today because the cancer treatments that saved my life in 1997 were researched using the techniques outlined for how to do scientific experiments in two books written by Fisher between the Wars. Fisher was one of the true giants of 20th Century science, making important contributions to statistics, genetics, and evolution. His track record of building his own mathematical tools to solve crucial problems in science is reminiscent of Newton's.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Idiocracy" marketing

Joel Stein at time clearly hasn't seen the movie, so he's just passing on spin from somebody at Fox.

Dude, Where's My Film?

This man gave the world King of the Hill and Office Space. So why is Fox squashing his new movie?

The biggest sin a director can commit isn't making a bad movie, it's making one that doesn't make a good ad.

That helps explain the strange fate of Idiocracy, a sci-fi comedy starring Luke Wilson and directed and co-written by Mike Judge, the guy whose spotless track record includes Beavis and Butt-head, King of the Hill and Office Space. Idiocracy may not be a bad movie, but every ad and trailer the studio put together for it tested atrociously. After sitting around finished for almost a year, the movie opened two weeks ago--sort of. Fox released it in a few theaters in seven cities (not including New York City), with no trailers, no ads, no official poster and no screenings for critics.

The problem is, Idiocracy is so aesthetically displeasing--its vision of the future so purposely, gaudily, corporately ugly--that even showing a second of it made people refuse to see it. Judge's unslick look might work for hand-drawn cartoons of hicks or a movie that takes place in poorly lit cubicles, but it's not so great for a sci-fi action comedy. It just doesn't look or feel like Talladega Nights or Dodgeball. Even though Fox probably made a million dollars' worth of trailers and ads, they empirically knew from testing that every dollar they spent on ad time for Idiocracy would be wasted.

Comedies have to look slick? C'mon ... "Office Space" ended up highly profitable and it looked amateurish.

I predict that when the DVD finally comes out, amateur fans will post on YouTube their own versions of a trailer for "Idiocracy" with the best jokes highlighted that will crack people up big time.

And if you supposedly can't make an advertisement out of it but it's a pretty good movie, why release it in 130 theatres in seven cities, but not in a single theatre in New York City where the critics can see it?

No, the best explanation is that Fox wanted to kill "Idiocracy," probably because they feared a controversy over eugenics, which is why they've kept it away from NYC, DC, Boston and SF.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Sure, why not?

I can't imagine any reason anyone would object to President Bush's latest effort. The AP reports:

Thousands of students from Saudi Arabia are enrolling on college campuses across the United States this semester under a new educational exchange program brokered by President Bush and Saudi King Abdullah.

The program will quintuple the number of Saudi students and scholars in the United States by the academic year's end. And big, public universities from Florida to Oregon are in a fierce competition for their tuition dollars.

The kingdom's royal family -- which is paying full scholarships for most of the 15,000 students -- says the program will help stem unrest at home by schooling the country's brightest in the American tradition.

Of course the U.S. should help Saudi Arabia with its traditional practice of pawning its hotheads off on the rest of the world. What could possibly go wrong?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer