Africans for Wolfowitz: Third World reformers resist a coup by rich Europeans

The selective leakers are getting the full support of almost all the media. Fortunately the Wall Street Journal continues to provide critical missing perspective:

One of the most revealing subplots in the European coup attempt against World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz is who is coming to the American’s defense. The rich European donor countries want him to resign, while the Africans who are the bank’s major clients are encouraging him to stay.

You wouldn’t know this from the press coverage, which continues to report selective leaks from the bank staff and European sources who started this political putsch. The latest “news” is that the European Parliament has asked Mr. Wolfowitz to resign, thus sustaining that body’s reputation for irrelevant but politically correct gestures. If Mr. Wolfowitz leaves, no doubt some of the europols will angle for the job.

The more telling story is the support for the bank president from reform-minded Africans. At a press conference during this month’s World Bank-IMF meetings in Washington, four of the more progressive African finance ministers were asked about the Wolfowitz flap. Here’s how Antoinette Sayeh, Liberia’s finance minister, responded:

“I would say that Wolfowitz’s performance over the last several years and his leadership on African issues should certainly feature prominently in the discussions . . . . In the Liberian case and the case of many forgotten post-conflict fragile countries, he has been a visionary. He has been absolutely supportive, responsive, there for us . . . . We think that he has done a lot to bring Africa in general . . . into the limelight and has certainly championed our cause over the last two years of his leadership, and we look forward to it continuing.”

The deputy prime minister for Mauritius, Rama Krishna Sithanen, then piped in that “he has been supportive of reforms in our country . . . . We think that he has done a good job. More specifically, he has apologized for what has happened.”

Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s poorest region, and Mr. Wolfowitz has appropriately made it his top priority. On his first day on the job, he met with a large group of African ambassadors and advocates. His first trip as bank president was a swing through Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa. He also recruited two African-born women vice presidents, a rarity at the bank.

If you’re surprised by that last fact, then you don’t appreciate that the World Bank has always been a sinecure for developed-world politicians. They get handsome salaries, tax free, and their performance is measured not by how much poverty they cure but by how much money they disperse.

Mr. Wolfowitz has upset this sweetheart status quo by focusing more on results, and especially on the corruption that undermines development and squanders foreign aid. Yet many of the poor countries themselves welcome such intervention. At the same April 14 press conference, Zambian Finance Minister N’Gandu Peter Magande endorsed the anticorruption agenda:

“We should keep positive that whatever happens to the president, if, for example, he was to leave, I think whoever comes, we insist that he continues where we have been left, in particular on this issue of anticorruption. That is a cancer that has seen quite a lot of our countries lose development and has seen the poverty continuing in our countries. And therefore . . . we want to live up to what [Wolfowitz] made us believe” that “it is important for ourselves to keep to those high standards.”

The noisy leaking and staff protests are aimed at getting Mr. Wolfowitz to make their life easy by resigning. But that would only validate their campaign to oust him for giving his girlfriend a raise that the bank’s own ethics committee advised him to deliver after he had tried to recuse himself. Since our editorial reported on all of these “ethics” details two weeks ago, no one has even tried to dispute our facts. The critics have shifted to a new line that, because his “credibility” has been damaged by these selective smears, Mr. Wolfowitz must now resign “for the good of the bank.”

Let’s hope the White House doesn’t fall for this rot, and, by the way, it’s about time Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson spent some of his political capital and defended Mr. Wolfowitz. He’d be in good company among Africa’s progressive leaders.

EU positives

A useful summary on the 50th birthday of the positive aspects of the EU:

…The bloc’s economic record is mixed. This is still a Europe of wasteful farm subsidies, low growth and high unemployment, with rising protectionism and a regulatory zeal unmatched anywhere in the free world. Yet the bad ideas tend to come from bad leaders. When the Brussels bureaucracy and dreams of creating a super-state are checked by a vigilant media and national governments, the Europe construct itself can be market friendly. In the past two decades, the EU on balance has done more to open the door to greater competition than provide a back door, as Margaret Thatcher feared, for welfare policies.

Why? Most crucially, the 1957 Treaty of Rome was inspired by free-market principles. The EU is the world’s largest zone for the free movement of goods, capital and people. When individual countries have tried to blunt those freedoms, Brussels has often fought back with vigor. The euro, the world’s most successful currency union, has lowered interest rates, promoted internal trade by removing exchange-rate risks and–especially in the Latin countries–made it impossible for governments to inflate their way out of trouble.

Europe’s diversity and growing size are also strengths. For each dysfunctional Italy, there’s a booming Britain or Estonia or Denmark showing how market-friendly policies pay dividends. In a wider Europe, good ideas squeeze out the bad. The Eastern Europeans have popularized low and flat taxes. Boom-town London is home to hundreds of thousands of Poles and Frenchmen, whose departure is an electoral issue in their native countries, where politicians are realizing they must compete to keep their brightest at home.

On the edges of the Continent, a half-circle running from Spain to Ireland to Finland and down to Eastern Europe is a zone of strong economic growth. In the middle, the big powers of France, Italy and Germany cry out for deeper overhauls. As long as those economies are weak, voters will be anxious about global competition and, in turn, skeptical about opening Europe further. This explains the current unease about further EU enlargement, particularly to Turkey, and the backlash against freeing trade in services and cross-border takeovers.

Poll: European pessimism

The Financial Times reports a new poll showing that EU citizens are almost exactly the inverse of their Iraqi counterparts. As I posted yesterday:

by a majority of two to one, Iraqis prefer the current leadership to Saddam Hussein’s regime, regardless of the security crisis and a lack of public services.

Today the FT reports that by almost a majority of two to one, Europeans think life is worse now than before joining the EU:

The malaise gripping the European Union as it approaches its 50th birthday this week is highlighted in a new poll which shows that 44 per cent of citizens think life has got worse since their country joined the club.

The poll suggests the bloc’s 27 leaders have their work cut out to revive enthusiasm for Europe’s project of “ever closer union” when they meet for official anniversary celebrations in Berlin next Sunday.

The FT/Harris poll, conducted in the EU’s five biggest countries and the US, found that only 25 per cent of the Europeans questioned felt life in their country had improved since it joined the EU.

The poll details are here.

Whither Holland's multiculturalism?

Author Ian Buruma examines Holland’s short history of multiculturalism – whose genesis was the free-sex, free-dope sixties: how Holland moved from a lily-white society of distinctions by class and Christian sect to today’s tense standoff marked by the murder of Theo van Gogh.

If you’ve not seen Submission, scripted by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, you really should — one copy is on YouTube. iFilm has a three minute excerpt together with a recap of the murder of Van Gogh. Then ask yourself why a Muslim youth would murder because of a gentle film portraying the truth of how Muslim women are treated as property.

…The views of most Moroccan villagers and Turkish men who settled with their families in the shabbier parts of Amsterdam or central Rotterdam had little in common with those of the newly secularised and sexually liberated Dutch. But the progressive multicultural view was that this did not matter. Each to his own. We may not like the way Muslim men treat their wives and daughters, but who are we to say that our ways are better? High crime rates and unemployment in immigrant areas were rarely discussed and those who tried to were frequently dismissed as racists.

To point out that the welfare state often had the effect of trapping young immigrants in a state of dependency on government handouts, increasing anti-immigrant resentment, also flew in the face of progressive orthodoxy. A flexible and accommodating labour market is often the quickest way for immigrants to find their place in a new society, however humble the work. In Holland, as in France, too many rules and regulations, as well as a deep strain of racial discrimination, make it difficult for newcomers to find work. In such a situation young people are bound to find their way to petty crime and violent causes, no matter how much we preach the virtues of multiculturalism.

The reaction to the multicultural ideal in the 1990s came from two sides. The fatwa against Salman Rushdie mobilised metropolitan progressives, most of whom had been multiculturalists before, against Islamic intolerance. Further down the social scale people began to feel they had been betrayed by the elites who had, especially in Holland, put European idealism above national pride and taken no notice when people no longer felt at home in the streets they grew up in.

…Immigrants, especially Muslim immigrants, became the main focus of a discontent that was rooted in deeper anxieties. A combination of global capitalism, European bureaucracy and excessive individualism made many people feel dislocated and powerless. Resentment of Muslim immigrants and the rejection, in Holland and France, of the European constitution were aspects of the same attack on multiculturalists, Eurocrats and the bien pensants metropolitans who ignored the common man.

Baruma proposes the way out is along the lines of America’s hyphenated citizens. While I agree with that aspect, no policy is going to work until the EU economies are liberalized to allow companies to take a chance on hiring young workers. Isolated enclaves of young unemployed Muslim males are unlikely to hyphenate.

Economic freedom will no doubt come in the future when standards of living have declined sufficiently — which assures another couple of decades of increasing tension in the Muslim enclaves.

…The attempts now being made in Holland, as well as in Britain, to enforce conformity to a rather fuzzy idea of Britishness or Dutchness by banning burqas and other face veils, or making it mandatory to speak only Dutch in public places, or fretting about Bradford-born lads who cheer for the Pakistani cricket team, miss the point too. Bouyeri spoke little but Dutch and the London suicide bombers in July 2005 were already far more British in habit and taste than their fathers, who never caused any trouble.

…It would surely be better to rethink multiculturalism by saving the best bits of it and rejecting the cant. The United States has many flaws but one thing that works is the idea of the hyphenated citizen: the Chinese-American, the Iraqi-American. Being a devout Muslim does not stand in the way of being a patriotic American. This works because citizenship is not a matter of culture but of loyalty to institutions, the law, the constitution, the political system. This to me is the best legacy of the enlightenment.

Europeans, even those living in the most liberal societies, still find this difficult to accept. But Islam is now part of the European landscape. It is no betrayal of “our values” to be flexible towards habits and beliefs that not everyone shares.

Let people wear headscarves if they wish. Islam as such is not incompatible with citizenship of a liberal democracy. The violent imposition of a revolutionary faith is, but it will only be contained only if mainstream Muslims feel accepted as fellow citizens. The single demand we should make on immigrants and their offspring is respect for the law, including laws that guarantee the right to free speech. This is not a surrender to the Islamist revolution. On the contrary, it is the only way to combat it.

More analysis by Richard Fernandez – recommended.

…The problem of course with Ian Buruma’s prescription is that it amounts to recommending something out of character to Europe and perhaps alien to it’s history. America began as a melting pot; fought a civil war over the principle that All Men are Created Equal and took in the Jew at the same time the Europeans were busy deporting them. Recent efforts to co-opt Islamic institutions by providing them with State funding are characteristic of the way Europe does things. Perhaps all that can be hoped for is that a European solution exists for these problems, remembering always how ambiguous the term “solution” on the Continent has historically been.

"Music is not banned in Islam, but to get enjoyment from music is banned"

The captioned imamic quote closes Mark Steyn’s little essay on quirky vignettes gleaned from John Robson’s new Top Five Book “A year’s worth of strange stories”.

The broader point, one feels, is that in a certain sense the foot-of-page-37 item is the real story. What gives you a better grasp of the realities of Europe today? The front-page reports on the G8 and the U.S.-EU summit? The in-depth profile of Jacques Chirac or Dominique de Villepin? Or the small space-filler about a French police lieutenant promoted to captain despite spending 12 of the last 18 years on “paternity leave,” in the course of which he wrote three books about the Beatles.

As a summation of contemporary Europe that could hardly be improved, not least in the way the generosity of Continental “paternity” leave seems to be inversely proportional to their barren societies’ actual paternity rate.

Robson’s book is self-published and can be ordered direct from the author for $7.95 via Paypal.

[ht: Tim Blair]

What can we learn from the EU?

Ken Nesmith wrote this Nov, 2004 opinion piece for The Tech, the MIT student newspaper. There is, in fact, a lot to learn from observing the EU:

Sometimes we can learn a lot about our own lives by examining the experiences of other cultures and peoples. Today, we Americans can look to Europe for insight about how to face the challenges our own society faces. The way social issues and events there are playing out might inform our approach to 21st century challenges.

To what phenomena do I refer? Not to automobile usage. SUV ownership is skyrocketing throughout Western Europe. Commentators say SUV drivers there want to flaunt wealth and power. In a society ostensibly more mindful of global needs, attuned to higher values than rapacious consumerism, the trend is mildly amusing. No lessons for America there. Nor can we learn about global policing and imperialism for the 21st century; France is currently tied down in the Cote d’Ivoire, mismanaging a miniature occupation in the face of an uprising that looks ever more like a civil war.

Some of the most interesting phenomena in Europe right now are economic. Western Europe faces aging populations and progressive entitlement programs that make the government pay for things like old age, health care, and not having a job. Since it’s expensive to pay for these things, governments in these nations levy high taxes on their businesses, the creators of the redistributed wealth. But the playing field has recently changed. The European Union recently expanded to include many poorer Eastern European countries, who have adopted flat tax structures that strongly encourage economic growth. Besides a navigable tax code, these countries feature younger, poorer populations who are willing to work for less money than Western European workers. The Western European nations knew this would be a problem when they were expanding the EU, so they made it illegal for the Easterners to work in Western European countries, at least for several years. This way, jobs could be broadly apportioned by nationality, and kept in French and German hands…

…The fact that Europeans work less reflects not just a preference for leisure, but the regulatory impossibility of gaining employment.

Governmental interference isn’t the only folly. In Germany, Volkswagen kept a factory in Western Germany after laborers there, the highest paid in the world, agreed to wage freezes. Had they not, production would have moved to Eastern Europe, where workers would like to perform the same jobs, but for less money. When unions demand an artificially high wage rate, they keep a greater number of workers unemployed. (Germany’s unemployment rate is about twice that of the United States.) In this case, demands for artificially high wages nearly drove their employer out of existence, something we’ve seen happen in the U.S. with perennially bankrupt airlines and resistant unions. Artificially high wage rates demand something for nothing; they ask that the world bend to labor’s wish for their services to be more valuable.

The European social welfare model that is the perpetual envy of the American left is crashing and burning. Competition from the growing nations of Eastern Europe is accelerating that change, despite resistant populations and political stopgaps designed to slow the transition. The marginal nature of the changes can be humorous: in France, Bosch, an auto parts manufacturer, demanded that workers accept another hour of work per week, raising the workload to a strenuous 36 hours, or else production would move to the Czech Republic.

In the U.S., although the regulatory burden is generally lower than in Europe, excessive government entitlements in health care and social security comprise a serious threat to national economic health. Resolving them is the most important policy challenge facing us — it’s remarkable that in the recent presidential race, myopic (and futile) endorsements from The New York Times and The Economist made no mention whatsoever of these problems.

As we shape national economic policy, we would do well to learn from the experience of Europe. To compete with intense competition, white and blue collar alike, from India, China, and the rest of the world, we need to leave individuals free to work and trade as best they are able, without regulatory hindrance. Moving beyond a narrow view of the world and thinking globally, conscious of the interconnections that bind us all, we can build a just and sustainable future.

[ht: Mark Bahner, in a comment on Pielke’s Straight Talk on Climate Policy]

Appeasement at Utrecht University

Professor Pieter van der Horst discovers appeasement in the Netherlands:

Earlier this month, after 37 years of teaching, I retired from the chair of Early Christian and Early Jewish Studies at Utrecht University. In my valedictory speech, “The Myth of Jewish Cannibalism,” I intended to trace the accusation that Jews eat human flesh from its Greco-Roman origins through the Christian Middle Ages and the Nazi period to the present-day Muslim world. Much of the Islamic vilification of Jews has its roots in German fascism. Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” has been on the best-seller lists in many Middle Eastern countries. The sympathy for Nazism goes back to the Führer’s days. Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, even closely cooperated with Hitler. He spent the war years in Berlin and visited Auschwitz, a trip that inspired his plans to build a concentration camp in Palestine.

In the Middle East of today, the demonization of Jews has reached unprecedented levels. Jews are accused of every evil under the sun, from cannibalism to the attacks on the Twin Towers, to causing the tsunami, the bird flu, AIDS and so on. At the end of my lecture I wanted to point out that it is our shared duty to combat this kind of anti-Jewish propaganda in the Muslim world. Nothing too controversial for a speech at a European university — or so I thought.

Much to my surprise, though, the dean of the faculty asked me to delete the passage on Islamic Jew hatred. When I refused, she referred the matter to the highest university administrator, the rector magnificus, who summoned me to his office to appear before a committee of four professors (including the rector himself). The committee presented three reasons for removing the Muslim passages.

They claimed it was too dangerous to give the complete lecture because it might trigger violent reactions from “well-organized Muslim student groups” for which the rector could not take any responsibility. The committee also said it feared my speech would thwart efforts at bridge-building between Muslims and non-Muslims at the university. Finally, they claimed my lecture was far below the university’s scholarly standards, especially because of some sarcastic remarks about Dutch public figures (whom I criticize for their anti-Jewish position). “We feel we have to protect you from yourself,” I was told. The rector said I had 24 hours to drop the controversial section. If not, he would have to assume his “rectorial responsibility.” I wasn’t sure what this meant, but it sounded very threatening.

Pathological multilateralism

Don’t miss David Adesnik’s essay on naive multilateralism, derived in part from David’s function as “grenade-tossing upstart” at a Washington gathering of foreign policy luminaries. No doubt you are already aware of “the signature diplomatic achievement of the Clinton administration”:

Bloggers have a weakness for attacking enemies who don’t exist. In our minds, we slowly invent mythical debate partners who passionately believe everything that we know to be objectively wrong. Often, instead of dismantling the argument of an actual opponent, we score clever points at the expense of our imaginary counterpart.

Thus, it came as great relief to me yesterday morning when I encountered a true-to-life advocate of pathological multilateralism. And it wasn’t just some random schmuck. It was the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, whom I once served as a lowly peon.

Even a glance at Dr. Mathews’ biography is enough to know that she has a powerful intellect and tremendous record of accomplishment. I happened to run across Dr. Mathews yesterday morning, when she delivered some opening remarks at a conference for young professionals in the field of foreign affairs.

Just as Bernard Lewis turned to the past to explain what went wrong in the modern Middle East, Mathews turned to the past to explain what wrong with American foreign policy. Her answer is that it fell prey to pathological unilateralism.

As she recounted, the great tragedy of the 1990s entailed America’s failure to sign a great host of important international treaties, such as the Kyoto protocol, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the anti-landmine accord and the charter of the International Criminal Court. As Mathews candidly observed, it was the Clinton administration that set the United States on a dangerously unilateral course.

I have a different candidate for the great tragedy of the 1990s: Rwanda. Followed by Bosnia, Somalia and Haiti. In my mind, there was a total disconnect between Mathews hopeful commitment to multilateral instruments and the brutal reality of the real challenges to democracy and human rights in the post-Cold War era.

According to Mathews, the wisest end to which the United States can direct its great power is the forging of an international order based on cooperation and law. Not surprisingly, Mathews had very little to say about the profound flaws of institutions such as the United Nations that nominally exist to promote cooperation and law.

According to Robert Kagan, also an employee of Dr. Mathews (as well as my old boss at Carnegie), Europeans tend to be “principled multilateralists” in the sense that they see the United Nations as the legitimate arbiter of international affairs. In contrast, even most Democrats in the United States are “instrumental multilateralists” who prefer to have UN support but ultimately believe that acting in accordance with American values is more important than UN approval. On this subject, Mathews sides with the Europeans.

When listening to advocates of this sort of multilateralism, critics such as myself tend to watch for indications of the advocate’s naivete, since we quietly suspect that such intelligent individuals could only maintain their faith in the UN and international law by closing their eyes to its flaws. As it turned out, Mathews delivered.

In her introduction of keynote speaker Robert Gallucci, Mathews described the United States’ 1994 nuclear accord with North Korea as “the signature diplomatic achievement of the Clinton administration“. Yes, that accord. Yes, that North Korea. The one that did so much to vindicate the hawkish article of faith that you simply can’t trust extremist dictatorships to abide by their commitments.

Although currently the dean of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, Gallucci is also the former State Department official who negotiated the 1994 accord with the North Koreans. He is not a naive man. In his keynote address, he spoke very frankly about the tremendous threat presented by a nuclear North Korea and a soon-to-be nuclear Iran.

But when it came time for Q&A, I was in a feisty mood. This was supposed to be a non-partisan conference for young professionals, not a chance for Dr. Mathews to preach the gospel of multilateralism. So I decided to throw an elbow in the speakers’ ribs.

During my turn at the microphone, I began by observing that Dr. Mathews’ praise of the 1994 accord as the previous administration’s signature diplomatic achievements may have struck some of us in the audience as “an effort to damn the Clinton administration with very faint praise.”…


With Friends Like These

Today’s surprise: a French academic presents a well-considered critique of Old Europe’s flabby response to the Islamist threat. Highly recommended:

The old Continent is wilting in the global war against terror, just as it did when faced off against fascism and then communism. When at today’s summit with U.S. President George W. Bush the European Union will once again take its ally to task over Guantanamo, it will expose its own, not America’s, most serious moral crisis of the post-Cold War era. A philosopher — a French one no less — can try to set the facts straight and offer some Cartesian good sense.

Faced with dark forces that want to destroy our civilization, we might recall that the U.S. is not only Europe’s ally but the flagship of all free nations. If America can sometimes make errors, the sort of anti-Americanism that drives the hysteria over Guantanamo is always in the wrong. Guantanamo, though, is not an error. It is a necessity.

Demagogues, and European parliamentarians are among the shrillest, claim that it’s inconceivable to keep prisoners locked up without trying them in courts of law. With this simple statement they annul — or, better, ignore — customary law and legal tradition as well as basic human-survival instincts. Whether they are legal or illegal fighters, those men in Guantanamo had weapons; they used them; and they will likely use them again if released before the end of the conflict. This is the meaning of their imprisonment: to prevent enemy combatants from returning to the battlefield, the only humane alternative to the summary execution of enemy prisoners practiced by less enlightened armies. Which French general would have released German prisoners in 1914, before the end of that great war, at the risk of seeing these soldiers mobilized again? Which American general would have organized the trial of 10 million German soldiers, captured during World War II, before Berlin’s unconditional surrender?

The release “without charges” of, so far, a third of Guantanamo prisoners doesn’t mean that those still imprisoned are innocent, as some claim. Similarly, the release of Waffen SS members “without charges” was no admission that they should have never been imprisoned in the first place — or that their comrades who were still locked up were victims of undue process. Only those Nazis who committed crimes against humanity or war crimes, and whose crimes could be proven in a court of law, were tried at Nuremberg.

The demagogues further complain about Guantanamo’s isolation and the secrecy around it. Isolation? When Hitler attacked Britain, was Winston Churchill wrong in sending captured German soldiers to isolated camps in Canada from which they would be released only five years later, after the end of the war? He forbade the exchange of information between the prisoners to make it impossible for them to direct networks of Nazi sympathizers and spies inside and outside the prison. This was a rather sensible measure and one that is also necessary to combat Islamist terrorists, who plan their attacks in loosely connected networks and have demonstrated their capacities to expand these networks in French and British prisons.

Secrecy? This is a common practice in warfare, designed to obtain information without letting the enemy know who has been caught or when. It lets us try to infiltrate and confuse terrorist groups. It saves thousands of lives without harming the prisoners.

As for the wild accusations of torture, the European Commission and Parliament would be well advised to investigate with caution. Terrorists have been trained to claim, in case of capture, that they’re being tortured to win sympathy from free societies. Abuses happen. Republics make mistakes. But they forever differentiate themselves from tyrannies in that violations of the rights of man tend to be punished. In abusing prisoners, a Western soldier breaks the law and undermines the moral foundations of his country. American military courts made no such mistake when meting out stiff penalties to the disgraced soldiers of Abu Ghraib.

But where is the evidence of torture in Guantanamo? The famous incriminating report of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, whose members include communist China, Castro’s Cuba and Wahhabi Saudi Arabia among others, was based purely on the testimony of released Islamists. Not one member of the commission even visited the camp, under the pretext that they couldn’t question prisoners in private.


The real strength of republics must be measured by the courage to fight for them. On this side of the Atlantic, this strength, once again, is lacking.

National security: time for real debate on strategy and geopolitics

Richard Fernandez takes Foreign Policy’s article The Six Most Important U.S. Military Bases as a point of departure to argue for substituting much overdue debate for partisan sniping and ad hominem attacks.

…This assessment of relative importance is debatable. It can be argued that Western Europe is in fact the most important theater in the War on Terror. Once the press stops talking about the Bush strategy in such simplistic and misleading terms as the mere outcome of ignorance, stupidity and neoconservative optimism or the result of such cartoonish notions as a search for markets for Halliburton it will be possible to focus on whether or not these new deployments, together with the strategy that it represents, is rational or not. This constant “talking down to the stupid” has really sabotaged intelligent debate, in part because one party is presumed to be without any intelligence whatsoever.


I’ve really been struck, nearly five years after September 11, by the nondebate over strategy and geopolitics, as exemplified by the Democratic Party’s Real Security platform. Whether one agrees with them or not, it is a fact that there are many intelligent people in the Democratic Party, and it is hardly possible to believe the Real Security platform is anything but the political equivalent of a bye, written for the express purpose of saying absolutely nothing, at least as far as official positions goes. In the meantime people are left to speculate how it may take the form of views expressed by those “associated” with Democratic political figures. Let’s put it this way: what would the Six Most Important US Bases be under a Democratic administration? Maybe exactly the same ones. If so, that’s too risky to admit.