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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Cost of Immigration

That immigration helps the US economy is sometimes asserted, often assumed, and rarely questioned. I can see the cost outweighs the benefits where I live, so I'm glad to have found someone writing about the not so hidden costs of illegal immigration.

How Unskilled Immigrants Hurt Our Economy
Steven Malanga
A handful of industries get low-cost labor, and the taxpayers foot the bill.
Because so much of our legal and illegal immigrant labor is concentrated in such fringe, low-wage employment, its overall impact on our economy is extremely small. A 1997 National Academy of Sciences study estimated that immigration’s net benefit to the American economy raises the average income of the native-born by only some $10 billion a year—about $120 per household. And that meager contribution is not the result of immigrants helping to build our essential industries or making us more competitive globally but instead merely delivering our pizzas and cutting our grass. Estimates by pro-immigration forces that foreign workers contribute much more to the economy, boosting annual gross domestic product by hundreds of billions of dollars, generally just tally what immigrants earn here, while ignoring the offsetting effect they have on the wages of native-born workers.

If the benefits of the current generation of migrants are small, the costs are large and growing because of America’s vast range of social programs and the wide advocacy network that strives to hook low-earning legal and illegal immigrants into these programs. A 1998 National Academy of Sciences study found that more than 30 percent of California’s foreign-born were on Medicaid—including 37 percent of all Hispanic households—compared with 14 percent of native-born households. The foreign-born were more than twice as likely as the native-born to be on welfare, and their children were nearly five times as likely to be in means-tested government lunch programs. Native-born households pay for much of this, the study found, because they earn more and pay higher taxes—and are more likely to comply with tax laws. Recent immigrants, by contrast, have much lower levels of income and tax compliance (another study estimated that only 56 percent of illegals in California have taxes deducted from their earnings, for instance). The study’s conclusion: immigrant families cost each native-born household in California an additional $1,200 a year in taxes.

Immigration’s bottom line has shifted so sharply that in a high-immigration state like California, native-born residents are paying up to ten times more in state and local taxes than immigrants generate in economic benefits. Moreover, the cost is only likely to grow as the foreign-born population—which has already mushroomed from about 9 percent of the U.S. population when the NAS studies were done in the late 1990s to about 12 percent today—keeps growing. And citizens in more and more places will feel the bite, as immigrants move beyond their traditional settling places. From 1990 to 2005, the number of states in which immigrants make up at least 5 percent of the population nearly doubled from 17 to 29, with states like Arkansas, South Dakota, South Carolina, and Georgia seeing the most growth. This sharp turnaround since the 1970s, when immigrants were less likely to be using the social programs of the Great Society than the native-born population, says Harvard economist Borjas, suggests that welfare and other social programs are a magnet drawing certain types of immigrants—nonworking women, children, and the elderly—and keeping them here when they run into difficulty.
So much for the argument that illegals pay their taxes. They pay taxes alright. Not nearly enough.

Regarding crime and the counting game Peter Gadiel told the House Committee on the Judiciary:
In 1986, Senator Edward Kennedy, then-Representative Charles Schumer, and other sponsors of amnesty claimed that "only" one million illegal aliens would be eligible for amnesty. In fact, due to fraud in administration, and underestimation of the number of illegals in the United States, over three million illegals were actually granted amnesty.

The investment firm of Morgan Stanley recently estimated that there are over 20 million illegals in the United States. Yet, at a recent meeting with DHS officials, 9/11 FSA Vice-President Bruce DeCell and I were told that Administration statisticians had "worked the numbers" and "only seven million" illegals would apply. That is approximately one third the Morgan Stanley estimate, oddly enough, the same fraction used by sponsors of the amnesty of 1986. The track record of the promoters of the 1986 amnesty in predicting the number of illegals who would be eligible tends to confirm what appears to be common knowledge to nearly everyone in the country today: the 20 million figure is closer to the mark.

In 1986, sponsors of amnesty also assured us there would be safeguards to screen out those who were a danger to our country. Their failure to honor that promise is as clear as their inability to predict eligibility numbers.

The 9/11 Commission itself showed us that the 1986 amnesty resulted in dead and injured Americans. It noted that two of the conspirators (Mohammed Salameh and Mahmud Abouhalima, aka Mahmud the Red) in the 1993 attack on the World Trader Center were illegal aliens permitted to remain in the US because of the 1986 amnesty. A third plotter (Mohammed Abouhalima, aka Abo Halima) was permitted to stay in the US for six years until just before the attack when his application under the `86 amnesty was finally denied. Despite the denial he remained in the US to help carry out the plot he had helped plan during the period he was "legal."
Gadiel goes on to describe the actions taken by state and local governments to deal with illegal immigration, in spite of the concerted opposition of open borders advocates.
For these, the constituent members of the Open Borders Lobby, the suffering and death endured by Americans as a result of illegal immigration is just a cost of doing business. To its eternal shame, the Senate continues to do the bidding of that lobby, demanding that our borders remain wide open to illegal aliens and the criminals and terrorists among them. S.2611 exemplifies the Senate’s mindless support of that destructive policy.
Gadiel's statement is worth reading in its entirety.

So where have our ever-vigilant watchdogs in the media been? The effects of this influx have been blatant. It is not exaggerating to call it an invasion. How has it gone on so long with no debate, no controversy?

Because the conventional wisdom on immigration assumes it to be beneficial, and because the media does nothing to correct this myth. And because of this anyone who openly opposes illegal immigration is accused of possessing one or more character flaws that explain their "irrational" beliefs. That's why the most popular pro-illegal immigration arguments are: Xenophobe! Racist! Fascist!

Either we're crazy or they've got nothing better than ad hominems.

Well then, assuming the latter, I haven't forgotten that for every foul-mouthed race-fixated illegal immigration supporter there's a businessman who simply favors laissez faire immigration. Since his argument amounts to "changes will cost me" I say, too bad, because no change is costing the rest of us even more. If Mr. Wall Street's logic is valid then so is this response.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

No Compulsion in Journalism

The following was broadcast on FOXNews earlier today:
Shepard Smith: Were there demands made?

Steve Centanni: Over the days they requested many things of us. They requested written statements about what I had done in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan and Kashmir where I've never been. Why we were there and what we were doing there.
Clearly these jihadis haven't heard that to anti-war Westerners these are all completely different conflicts. The Palestinian problem has nothing to do with Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Islam. Jihad? World war? Whatever dude. We've got to prioritize. We all know the biggest threat to civilization is Wal-Mart.
We had to write and write and write and then we were forced to convert to Islam at gun point. And don't get me wrong here I have the highest respect for Islam and learned a lot of really good things about it but uh we did... wouldn't... it was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns and we were... didn't know what the hell was going on.
Have no fear. This is all a FOXNews ruse. As the anti-war Westerners have repeatedly informed us and as the jihadis must surely know by now, "There shall be no compulsion in religion." Those stories about Mohammed ransoming hostages? Just stories.

For a minute there I thought Centanni was nervous enough that he might say something negative about Islam. Phew. Now that he has instead praised it everything should be just fine. The jihadis can go back to kidnapping and blowing up civilians, and the press can go back to reporting on their "plight".

UPDATE: Now that they've converted Centanni and his cameraman should take some time to understand fundamentalist Islam's sentiments on apostasy. It might not be very healthy for them, but perhaps they'll report what they discover.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What Part of Submission Don't You Understand?

Hugh Hewitt interviewed General Abizaid, who clearly understands the enemy.
HH: What is their vision, the enemy's vision of the world?

JA: Well certainly, if you look at al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, all you have to do is go on to one of their website. But you see it is to drive out the United States from the region, overthrow the regional powers, take over the Sunni Arab world first, and then the Muslim world, and install a Sharia type of government that would look very much like the government that they installed under the Taliban, when the Taliban ran Afghanistan. And if you want to know what that looks like, it's executions in the soccer stadium, no rights for women anywhere, Sharia law strictly enforced, no music, you name it. And the people in the region really don't want that kind of a future for themselves, or for their kids.

HH: And the vision of the Iranian revolutionary regime?

JA: Well, the Iranian revolutionary regime has a different sort of a notion, but it's one that's primarily a world in which Iranian influence and power call the shots in the Middle East, and done so under the current Shiia revolutionary precepts that you see played out in Tehran, which again, is very, very restrictive. Not as restrictive as what Osama bin Laden brings, but certainly more restrictive than the people like. When you ask Iranians whether or not they approve of this government, they'd just as soon get onto some other kind of government that's more liberal.
He also had some advice we can only hope the public hears and heeds:
JA: I can only say that as I...when I go home and spend time where my headquarters is in Tampa, or when I spend time where I'm from on the West Coast, it's hard to really notice that there's much of a war going on, thinking that there's a World War II level of effort going on in the middle of the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Horn of Africa, is hard for most people to appreciate. I think it's important that people understand the dangers of not contesting this area. If we let the extremists get embedded, if we let the extremists gain ground, if we let the extremists have time and resources, then I believe they'll eventually insinuate their way into the mainstream. They could then gain territory, gain time, gain weapons of mass destruction. And over time, they'd move us to the war that we're all, the big war that we're all trying to avoid. So I can only tell you that what we're doing out here is very, very important for our security. We were actually fighting these people well before 9/11, and it takes a little bit of time and effort, but people need to educate themselves about why we're fighting who we're fighting, and what it means if we back away from them.
Emphasis mine.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Militant Tricks

For anyone wanting a tactical analysis of the US military's struggle with jihadis in painfully dry and wonky detail I can recommend Militant Tricks. Here follows my report of the book's most salient points and some thoughts it inspired.

Amazon's summary:
This book gauges America’s progress in Iraq and Afghanistan from a unique perspective—that of East-Asian battlefield deception. As both countries were part of the Mongol Empire for over 200 years, they are a perfect breeding ground for every sort of ancient Chinese trick—any one of the famous "36 Strategems." In combination, those stratagems have the power to make a losing adversary think he is winning. They have done so before to America.

To see past the militant Muslim’s false face, one must look for the hidden intent behind his every initiative—whether martial or otherwise. Between September 2004 and September 2005, this book does just that for both theaters of war. For some readers, it will serve as an intelligence reference manual and be read a few paragraphs at a time. For others, it will provide an in-depth solution to the enemy’s so-far-successful formula and be read cover to cover. Militant Tricks reveals enemy information that active-duty Americans seldom see—that which is contained in the regional media and literature. When properly interpretted (by a student of Eastern tactics and mindset), that information may shed enough light on ongoing events to permit the salvaging of both wars.
While focusing mainly on events taking place in Iraq H. John Poole's story weaves together lessons learned by the US military in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, as well as the Israelis in Lebanon (1982-2000). After a hundred pages detailing incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan and another hundred reviewing these events in light of the 36 Stratagems the prognosis does not appear good:
Other Parts of the Joint Strategy

By early 2004, the Iraqi militants' overall strategy had become clearly obvious: (1) curtail the flow of oil, (2) eliminate government-supplied social services, (3) isolate occupying forces, and (4) discredit/subvert local security forces. The first was done during commando raids. The second was accomplished with sabotage, assassination, and hostage taking. The third was achieved by using IEDs to limit the flow of supplies and tie occupying forces to thier vehicles or bunkers. The fourth was performed through repeatedly corruptiong or killing police and army personnel.

Something similar drove the Israelis out of Southern Lebanon and the Russians out of Afghanistan. Until someone finds a solution, this strategy will stalk the Third World.
Poole argues persuasively that Eastern-style "light infantry" are not in fact as inferior to US-style "heavy infantry" as so many Westerners in and outside the military seem to believe. The difference isn't only one of weight, mechanization, or firepower. It is the tactics of Fourth Generation Warfare:
These techniques focus not so much on the enemy's military capabilities (although these may be attacked) but directly against the will of the enemy to continue the war.
The crucial insight is that 4GW battlefields are not constrained to the time and space occupied by soldiers firing weapons. They include terrorism and sabotage. Fifth columns and mob violence. Peace demonstrations and elections. Jihadis have long recognized the value of dirty tricks. Mohammed himself ordered assassinations. Today's jihadis will continue to exploit civilization's gullible media, sleazy politics, and fragile economy as long as we let them.
"Shock and Awe" Is a Thing of the Past

In essence, the technologically deficient and financially strapped East has developed a style of warfare that requires no tanks or planes. It depends instead on surprise. That surprise is almost entirely based on the West's preoccupation with firepower. To penetrate a Western base, the Easterner creates the impression of an indirect-fire attack. To blow up something within that base, he pretends to score a lucky mortar hit. The Muslim militant has taken this analogy one step farther. With the suicide bomber, he has created a precision munition.
The Vietnamese may have been financially strapped. The oil funded jihadis are not. They can buy any technology they need. They don't use it for tanks and planes. Instead the jihadis leverage disruptive technologies - nets & jets, cell phones, TATP - to wreak destruction and chaos, to literally disrupt civilization. During and in the wake of the chaos they come to power, praising Allah's greatness, posing as heroes.

Poole recommends that the US military train its own light infantry. Further, that this training should instill a more flexible doctrine of tactics, offensive and defensive, relying on stealth, deception, and surprise. Also that command should be more decentralized to enable smaller units to function more autonomously.

I'm afraid this won't be enough. Until the ideology and history of jihad becomes better known amongst infidels the danger will go on, incompletely recognized and only partially countered.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

See No Evil

Two more pieces from Heimchen. The first he describes like so:
The attached piece, while not particularly well written, nonetheless shows more evidence of growing concern re the Islamic threat. Curiously, it addresses this threat in England - not a word about Germany or the universality of the threat. Nor is there a hint of what to do about it. Which, of course speaks of the fear of a real confrontation. The sentiment was expressed by X a couple of years ago in a discussion I had with him in Berlin. I broached the subject of possible help for America by Germany in the war on terror. His statement was, we (the Germans) try to lay low in hopes that we can keep from getting involved.

I feel that Europe will eventually have to join us. Sadly, however, this will only occur when Muslim audacity and terrorism will reach a level where there is no longer a choice and public outcry will force their governments' hand. This may take a while as the attitude of appeasement and the denial that comes from fear of confrontation will be in the way of action for some time to come.
The original is here. His translation:
The following is a piece gleaned from the Berlin daily "DER TAGESSPIEGEL" from 8/11/06.

Terror in London
Return of the Evil People

By Moritz Schuller

In the USA the first Hollywood film about the 9/11 has just hit the theaters. In London the police, by their own account, has thwarted a "mass murder of unimaginable dimensions". There is no time for cultural reconciliation; the terror continues. It is reality. It is not even clear yet whether this latest suicide attempt has been prevented or merely delayed.

That is was aimed at England is hardly a surprise. Only a few months ago Muslims marched through London, carrying posters that proclaimed "Europe is a cancerous ulcer and Islam is the cure", and "To hell with Freedom". A veiled woman predicted "The real Holocaust" for Europe. It is a good bet that the 24 suspects caught in Birmingham and London had enthusiastically taken part in that demonstration.

The British minister of the interior, somewhat awkwardly, talks about "very evil people", while at the same time not daring to mention their ethnic-religious identity. As successful as the police work in this case may have been, should the perpetrators - like the ones from of the subway bombings of a year ago - come from the middle class, there would be important reasons to questions the British politics appeasement towards its militant Islamic Minority. After all, how much more clearly can its goals be stated than at the demonstrations last February.

Because whoever believes that such radical demonstrators may be placated by the construction of a splendid mosque in Kiez, or as is now shockingly open debated, by the abolition of the state of Israel, is simply naive. Their political goal is nothing less than an Islamic Europe. The historical hurt for them is not Israel. It is Al Andalus, the Spanish region from which the Muslims had been ejected many centuries ago.

In the five years between New York and London, the Islamic threat has been dealt with in ways that differ much in London and New York. But the threat has gone away neither through war nor reconciliation and not even through the fight against the core of Al Qaeda. In fact, Jihad has - which may be clearly observed in England - developed into a sort of fashion phenomenon amongst Islamic youths. Thus the conflict does not go away but rather it is escalating, despite the many attempts at a solution.

Even if the violent attempts may be prevented it cannot be denied that they affect our freedom. If the perpetrators really intended to use liquid explosives, the threat would have taken on an entirely new dimension. The massive effects on air travel - already a reality - would have to become permanent: No carry-on baggage, no fluids into the aircraft. A snowstorm or a pilot strike might have caused similar chaos at the London Airport. And the humiliation - to use a term from the culture wars - that comes with eating the baby formula at the security gate to prove that it is not dangerous - is something we will have to live with. It will, however, be a life in which the threat can only be checked but never totally removed. The model for such a way of life - not surprisingly - may be observed in Israel.
Next comes an essay of his own:
August 15, 2006


Yesterday, on the occasion of the Mid-eastern cease fire, President Bush went public claiming victory for Israel, while similarly, Mullah Nasrallah claimed the same for Hesbollah. Sadly, the mullah was right. While Israel probably killed more terrorists than Hesbollah killed Israelis, we need to consider the fact that this does not count as a tragedy to Islamo-fascists because they love death as their leaders have convinced them that dying for Islam in the fight against the hated infidel transports them straight to heaven. More importantly, anything but total victory and disarmament of Hesbollah cannot count as a victory for Israel. All it will serve is the prolongation of the bloody fight that this small country has had to wage against terrorism since its inception in 1949. The UN sponsored cease-fire, endorsed by western powers including the US, will only prolong the agony. To top it all off, UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has been appointed overseer of the cease fire and has not wasted any time before firing off a letter of warning to Jerusalem, saying that Israel better not respond with any force to provocations from Hesbollah. The later, as if to thumb its nose at Israel, has already launched a few rockets at Israelis, albeit without much effect.

The circumspect observer, watching terrorism and the march of radical Islam virtually across the globe, as well as the outright proclamations and threats against western civilization in countries, particularly in Europe, finds himself appalled at the continuing attitude of appeasement that pervades politics and the media in the western world. What is it those folks do not see? Or do they not want to see it? How many Terror attacks have to happen, how many have to be thwarted at the last minute before the awful truth sinks in? How many Muslims have to march through the streets of western capitals, calling for the conquest of the western world by Islam before the it wakes up to the clear and present danger we face?

One does not have to be an accredited historian to see the eerie parallels between the present time and 1936, when Nazi Germany was getting ready to conquer the world. Then too, the forces of appeasement were pretending that everything was fine and there was no cause for concern. The result of allowing Hitler to continue on his path of rearming Germany and preparing for war was the death of 6 million Jews and 9 million civilians in Russia alone.

WW-2 raged for 6 years and caused untold casualties and destruction. But the threat of Islamic dominance is vastly more serious. The enemy is not a nation or group of nations but a fanatical religious faction that pervades most of the world, operates surreptitiously from a shadow world and places as little value on the life of its fighters as it does the enemy. Iran is emerging as the string puller behind Jihad. Ahmandinejad, its nut-case leader is openly promising destruction of Israel. Are we going to wait till they get their hands on THE BOMB?
Only a handful of people I know recognize the threat. The rest frown and change the subject when Islam comes up. It's not only that they don't know what's going on. They don't want to know.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Vicarious War

Another transmission from das Heimchen, who writes:
Note that the author lives in Washington. Though it is not clear from his name whether he is American, it is possible that the original text was in English. This would mean that you are looking at a translation of a translation and would explain the somewhat disjointed narrative.
Heimchen didn't provide a URL for the original, but I think this is it.
The following appeared in the online edition of the German DIE WELT on August 9.


A Cease-Fire Will Bring No Peace.

By Walter Laqueur

At some time there will be a cease-fire and the war between Hesbollah and Israel will come to an end. But one must not forget that this is a vicarious war. In interviews by Arabic newspapers, Iranian officers have explained how important their role was in preparations of the assault, not only as suppliers of weapons but also as trainers and advisors in almost every aspect.

Tehran was under pressure to quit enrichment of Uranium by the end of August. The distraction from their own aims by the Lebanon war was therefore most welcome.

Today hardly anyone doubts that Tehran will continue with its enrichment program. To stall for time, there will be more negotiations. But already, the Iranian government leaves no doubt as to where the preparations will lead: Iran wants to be the leading power in the Middle East. The Arabian countries will be those chiefly affected by this because Tehran does not only want to control its own oil fields but also those of it’s neighbors. Neither Egypt nor Turkey produce significant amounts of oil but they are not going to enjoy taking orders from Shiite fanatics. Most likely they will aim at obtaining their own nuclear devices.

There are no territorial– or other conflicts between Israel and Iran, besides the odium theologicum of the Iranian rulers. However, Tehran reiterates, time and again, that Israel must be rubbed out.

What this would mean, should Iran succeed in building a nuclear weapon, one can only imagine. On the other hand one has to assume that Israel also has nuclear capabilities and the means for a counter strike. In such a scenario, what would be left of Iranian Cities and oil fields? Possibly, the Iranian leadership would again be implementing a vicarious war, in hopes that this would blur the evidence of it’s own culpability. But the Israelis would hardly be fooled by such a maneuver.

How would a man react who is threatened with death by a neighbor? If he could, he might move or he would weigh the possibility that his neighbor is nothing but a posturing bigmouth. But when the evidence mounts that the danger is getting closer and more serious, he may decide on preemptory action. He might conclude that he owes such action to his family, especially if, already, a large part of his family has recently been killed. His defense might start in the form of negotiations involving third persons or with counter threats but if this doesn’t help he will resort to force. Of course, the latter might be a dangerous step because a historical world court might decide that there was no certainty that the danger was clear and present enough to warrant emergency measures. But, in any case, the survival of the threatened party would, for the time being, be secured.

These thoughts are no more than horror scenarios. But they are by no means absurd. They illustrate that, even after a cease fire, the clouds of conflict will not disappear from the Middle Eastern sky.

The author is known as the father of terrorism research. He resides in Washington, DC.
The ceasefire will be a hopeless failure. Mainly because Hizballah can't keep themselves from lobbing missles and digging tunnels, and the hapless UN peace-delayers sure won't stop them.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Infidel, Educate Thyself

If you enjoyed Dean Barnett at SOXBLOG then you'll welcome his move to Hugh Hewitt's blog. For days now he's been on fire.

Take this post for instance:
SO HOW WILL THE WAR END? With lots of dead Jihadists. Just like World War II ended with lots of dead Nazis and imperialist troops of Japan. There were so many dead, the rest lost their will to fight on. Only when they realize their destruction is imminent (and accomplished to a great degree) will there be peace.

Until the Jihadists realize they can’t win, they will continue to fight. Every instance of Western weakness succors them. Every U.N. resolution, European cry for diplomacy and academic case for moral equivalency feeds their notion that their victory is inevitable.

Getting to victory will be an ugly thing. Our weapons will kill innocents, just as they did in Nagasaki and Dresden. And we will suffer our own losses. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that America will have to suffer a grievous loss before unshackling its own might. And our first grievous loss will not be our last. Like any global conflagration, this one will be full of horrors, horrors that most refuse to contemplate.

SO WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE? Graham Allison, Joe Nye and other Kennedy School types will tell you that we can talk Radical Islamists out of this whole crazy Jihad thing with just some judicious use of our “soft power.” We can win hearts and minds, they argue, if we just try a little tenderness.

Their argument, however, betrays a spectacular ignorance regarding Jihad philosophy . There’s nothing new going on here, nothing that’s not 14 centuries old. The only difference is that a trillion dollars in petro-dollars has given the forces of Jihad power and reach that even the Prophet never imagined. To think we can jawbone our way out of this is dangerously wishful thinking.
Emphasis mine.

If I had a dollar for every person I've met who expressed a strong opinion on geopolitics but admitted to not knowing very much about Islam ("but I'm sure they're just like us") I'd have a hundred bucks by now. But that's not the point. The point is I have yet to meet a pacifist who does know much about Islam. Leftists just aren't interested. For them it's all a big neocon hoax. Other people barely have time to track the news. Only those who have some understanding of Islam see clearly the imperative to resist it. They may disagree concerning timing or methods, but they don't question the threat.

The problem is Westerners who know something of Islam are in the minority. Western politics wouldn't be nearly so divisive if every infidel (or at least those who like to argue geopolitics) took some time to educate themselves. What are Islam's values? What are its goals? What are its methods for achieving those goals? What is its history? I'm confident that most anyone who digs for honest objective answers to these questions will arrive at conclusions similar to Dean Barnett's, and my own.

Some will instead come to see it Islam's way. The infidels are pigs and monkeys. They are unclean and unworthy of compassion or respect. Their lands and riches will belong to the umma soon enough. That some will feel this way we cannot help. There will always be misfits, and among them are the idealists and nihilists who can and have become traitors.

Most of the prominent voices questioning Islam, like Barnett, choose to use the qualifier "radical". As in "radical Islam". Is this really justified? If the intent is to imply that our enemy is a minority of Muslims I'm afraid it is in error. Jihad and sharia law are incompatible with civilization. Yet they are also fundamental tenets of Islam. Without them Islam is not Islam. In other words the very foundation of Islam is rotten, and the "radicals" who adhere to it are in the majority.

Many may consider this an unacceptable thing to say, but the power of such honest statements should not be underestimated. When Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an evil empire Western pacifists laughed, nervously. Years later word came from behind the ruins of the Iron Curtain that Reagan's words helped bring it down. We can pretend not to notice Islam's flaws, perhaps to avoid offending the moderates, but then again only radicals are offended by honest criticism.

What's that? They're all offended? Well then, not what I had hoped, but I do rest my case.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Suicidal Double Standard

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee:
Rumsfeld elaborated on the difference between the two sides: "One side does all it can to avoid civilian casualties, while the other side uses civilians as shields, and then skillfully orchestrates a public outcry when the other side accidentally kills civilians in their midst. One side is held to exacting standards of near perfection; the other side is held to no standards and no accountability at all."
We must not blame the poor and downtrodden for exploiting whatever means to which they are forced to stoop in order to wage war against their brutal oppressors. Civilization on the other hand must tie both hands behind its back while trying to keep the surprisingly well-armed poor and downtrodden at bay.

The sooner we all recognize and reject the contradictory and ultimately suicidal logic behind this double standard the better.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Turning Around the Oil Weapon

Once again there is open war between the Israelis and Muslim Arabs, and once again there are threats to unleash the Oil Weapon.

With prices already at record highs the crazy people who live atop much of the world's most easily recoverable oil still aren't happy. They need more money. For palaces. And maybe a few rockets and nukes.

The same Wall Street kool-aid drinkers who think countries should just throw open their borders for cheap labor also hallucinate that the oil market is free. They say nobody controls the price, that the government shouldn't interfere by increasing taxes. Following this advice has produced disasterous results. Out of ignorance or greed these geniuses have helped fleece the West and enrich the enemies of civilization.

The oil market is most definitely not free. Every time an oil oligarch acts nutty the market rewards him. The formula is so obvious that by now even Hugo Chavez surely knows it: Make loud threatening noises and the price of oil will jump.

On top of that oil is subsidized by trillions of dollars in US defense spending. The concept of externality might be a bit too subtle for the Wall Street types. It's simple. Ignoring the consequences can make any action appear sensible.

The US pays to keep Mid East oil safe and ensure stable prices. What would the price of oil be if the US didn't police the Mid East? Lower? Why? Because the US is a bullying imperialist power exploiting the world's resources and those who rebel are altruistic patriots who only want peace? Puhlease. Iran would be a threat whether there were troops in Iraq or not. Without US policing the price of oil would be higher. Some strongman or another would long ago have seized a large enough chunk of the supply to extort oil consumers. Saddam tried. Iran is trying.

So why does the US fear an oil embargo? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Suppose country X threatens to alter their oil exports with the stated aim to harm the US. This is an act of aggression. Suppose the US responds by calling the bluff and deliberately crippling country X's oil infrastructure. This would have several predictable consequences:
  • The price of oil would go up worldwide.
  • Oil would stop flowing out of country X.
  • Money would stop flowing into country X.
  • Enemies and rivals of the US, including a coalition of Leftists, pacifists, and Islamists living throughout the civilized world, would condemn the US.
This is not the unmitigated economic catastrophe the fearsome Oil Weapon is supposed to produce. The economic losses shared by the oil consumers would be matched and concentrated on country X. The higher more honest prices would spur the development of alternatives. Other sources of oil, particularly in North America, become profitable above certain thresholds.

Yes this scenario requires the US to make a "preemtive" strike against country X. This action could be legitimately justified by self-defense, in response to the threat from country X's use of an Oil Weapon, and the WMDs funded by oil money. Is it not more humane to destroy pipelines and pumps then to wage war by deliberate acts of violence and destruction against people?

To those who say that preemptive strikes are beyond the pale I respond: This is how the war is already being waged against the US. Civilization's enemies are envigorated by the influx of oil money, using their profits to strengthen and broaden the pursuit of their repressive aims. They are intentionally bleeding civilization into backruptcy. It isn't unfair for the US to fight fire with fire.

The Danegeld doesn't have to be paid. It shouldn't be paid. The US produces a large fraction of the oil it consumes. It can quickly find alternatives for the excess.

Can the leaders of Iran and Venezuela stay in power and export their poison without oil income?