Friday, March 31

Krugman argues liberals should be divided by immigration reform too


For now, at least, the immigration issue is mainly hurting the Republican Party, which is divided between those who want to expel immigrants and those who want to exploit them. The only thing the two factions seem to have in common is mean-spiritedness.

But immigration remains a difficult issue for liberals. Let me say a bit more about the subject of my last column, the uncomfortable economics of immigration, then turn to what really worries me: the political implications of a large nonvoting work force.

About the economics: the crucial divide isn't between legal and illegal immigration; it's between high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants. High-skilled immigrants — say, software engineers from South Asia — are, by any criterion I can think of, good for America. But the effects of low-skilled immigration are mixed at best.

True, there are large benefits for the low-skilled migrants, who may find even a minimum-wage U.S. job a big step up. Immigration also raises the total income of native-born Americans, although reasonable estimates suggest that these gains amount to no more than a fraction of 1 percent.

But low-skilled immigration depresses the wages of less-skilled native-born Americans. And immigrants increase the demand for public services, including health care and education. Estimates indicate that low-skilled immigrants don't pay enough in taxes to cover the cost of providing these services.

All of these effects, except for the gains for the immigrants themselves, are fairly small. Some of my friends say that's the point I should stress: immigration is a wonderful thing for the immigrants, and claims that immigrants are undermining American workers and taxpayers are hugely overblown — end of story.

But it's important to be intellectually honest, even when it hurts. Moreover, what really worries me isn't the narrow economics — it's the political economy, the effects of having a disenfranchised labor force.

Imagine, for a moment, a future in which America becomes like Kuwait or Dubai, a country where a large fraction of the work force consists of illegal immigrants or foreigners on temporary visas — and neither group has the right to vote. Surely this would be a betrayal of our democratic ideals, of government of the people, by the people. Moreover, a political system in which many workers don't count is likely to ignore workers' interests: it's likely to have a weak social safety net and to spend too little on services like health care and education.

This isn't idle speculation. Countries with high immigration tend, other things equal, to have less generous welfare states than those with low immigration. U.S. cities with ethnically diverse populations — often the result of immigration — tend to have worse public services than those with more homogeneous populations.

Of course, America isn't Dubai. But we're moving in that direction. As of 2002, according to the Urban Institute, 14 percent of U.S. workers, and 20 percent of low-wage workers, were immigrants. Only a third of these immigrant workers were naturalized citizens. So we already have a large disenfranchised work force, and it's growing rapidly. The goal of immigration reform should be to reverse that trend.

So what do I think of the Senate Judiciary Committee's proposal, which is derived from a plan sponsored by John McCain and Ted Kennedy? I'm all in favor of one provision: offering those already here a possible route to permanent residency and citizenship. Since we aren't going to deport more than 10 million people, we need to integrate those people into our society.

But I'm puzzled by the plan to create a permanent guest-worker program, one that would admit 400,000 more workers a year (and you know that business interests would immediately start lobbying for an increase in that number). Isn't institutionalizing a disenfranchised work force a big step away from democracy?

For a hard-line economic conservative like Mr. McCain, the advantages to employers of a cheap work force may be more important than the violation of democratic principles. But why would someone like Mr. Kennedy go along? Is the point to help potential immigrants, or is it to buy support from business interests?

Either way, it's a dangerous route to go down. America's political system is already a lot less democratic in practice than it is on paper, and creating a permanent nonvoting working class would make things worse. The road to Dubai may be paved with good intentions.

Thursday, March 30

What Clash of Civilizations? Why religious identity isn't destiny. By Amartya Sen

What Clash of Civilizations?
Why religious identity isn't destiny.
By Amartya Sen
Posted Wednesday, March 29, 2006, at 6:02 AM ET on Slate

This essay is adapted from the new book Identity and Violence, published by Norton.
That some barbed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed could generate turmoil in so many countries tells us some rather important things about the contemporary world. Among other issues, it points up the intense sensitivity of many Muslims about representation and derision of the prophet in the Western press (and the ridiculing of Muslim religious beliefs that is taken to go with it) and the evident power of determined agitators to generate the kind of anger that leads immediately to violence. But stereotyped representations of this kind do another sort of damage as well, by making huge groups of people in the world to look peculiarly narrow and unreal.

The portrayal of the prophet with a bomb in the form of a hat is obviously a figment of imagination and cannot be judged literally, and the relevance of that representation cannot be dissociated from the way the followers of the prophet may be seen. What we ought to take very seriously is the way Islamic identity, in this sort of depiction, is assumed to drown, if only implicitly, all other affiliations, priorities, and pursuits that a Muslim person may have. A person belongs to many different groups, of which a religious affiliation is only one. To see, for example, a mathematician who happens to be a Muslim by religion mainly in terms of Islamic identity would be to hide more than it reveals. Even today, when a modern mathematician at, say, MIT or Princeton invokes an "algorithm" to solve a difficult computational problem, he or she helps to commemorate the contributions of the ninth-century Muslim mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, from whose name the term algorithm is derived (the term "algebra" comes from the title of his Arabic mathematical treatise "Al Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah"). To concentrate only on Al-Khwarizmi's Islamic identity over his identity as a mathematician would be extremely misleading, and yet he clearly was also a Muslim. Similarly, to give an automatic priority to the Islamic identity of a Muslim person in order to understand his or her role in the civil society, or in the literary world, or in creative work in arts and science, can result in profound misunderstanding.

The increasing tendency to overlook the many identities that any human being has and to try to classify individuals according to a single allegedly pre-eminent religious identity is an intellectual confusion that can animate dangerous divisiveness. An Islamist instigator of violence against infidels may want Muslims to forget that they have any identity other than being Islamic. What is surprising is that those who would like to quell that violence promote, in effect, the same intellectual disorientation by seeing Muslims primarily as members of an Islamic world. The world is made much more incendiary by the advocacy and popularity of single-dimensional categorization of human beings, which combines haziness of vision with increased scope for the exploitation of that haze by the champions of violence.

A remarkable use of imagined singularity can be found in Samuel Huntington's influential 1998 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order. The difficulty with Huntington's approach begins with his system of unique categorization, well before the issue of a clash—or not—is even raised. Indeed, the thesis of a civilizational clash is conceptually parasitic on the commanding power of a unique categorization along so-called civilizational lines, which closely follow religious divisions to which singular attention is paid. Huntington contrasts Western civilization with "Islamic civilization," "Hindu civilization," "Buddhist civilization," and so on. The alleged confrontations of religious differences are incorporated into a sharply carpentered vision of hardened divisiveness.

In fact, of course, the people of the world can be classified according to many other partitions, each of which has some—often far-reaching—relevance in our lives: nationalities, locations, classes, occupations, social status, languages, politics, and many others. While religious categories have received much airing in recent years, they cannot be presumed to obliterate other distinctions, and even less can they be seen as the only relevant system of classifying people across the globe. In partitioning the population of the world into those belonging to "the Islamic world," "the Western world," "the Hindu world," "the Buddhist world," the divisive power of classificatory priority is implicitly used to place people firmly inside a unique set of rigid boxes. Other divisions (say, between the rich and the poor, between members of different classes and occupations, between people of different politics, between distinct nationalities and residential locations, between language groups, etc.) are all submerged by this allegedly primal way of seeing the differences between people.

The difficulty with the clash of civilizations thesis begins with the presumption of the unique relevance of a singular classification. Indeed, the question "Do civilizations clash?" is founded on the presumption that humanity can be pre-eminently classified into distinct and discrete civilizations, and that the relations between different human beings can somehow be seen, without serious loss of understanding, in terms of relations between different civilizations.

This reductionist view is typically combined, I am afraid, with a rather foggy perception of world history that overlooks, first, the extent of internal diversities within these civilizational categories, and second, the reach and influence of interactions—intellectual as well as material—that go right across the regional borders of so-called civilizations. And its power to befuddle can trap not only those who would like to support the thesis of a clash (varying from Western chauvinists to Islamic fundamentalists), but also those who would like to dispute it and yet try to respond within the straitjacket of its prespecified terms of reference.

The limitations of such civilization-based thinking can prove just as treacherous for programs of "dialogue among civilizations" (much in vogue these days) as they are for theories of a clash of civilizations. The noble and elevating search for amity among people seen as amity between civilizations speedily reduces many-sided human beings to one dimension each and muzzles the variety of involvements that have provided rich and diverse grounds for cross-border interactions over many centuries, including the arts, literature, science, mathematics, games, trade, politics, and other arenas of shared human interest. Well-meaning attempts at pursuing global peace can have very counterproductive consequences when these attempts are founded on a fundamentally illusory understanding of the world of human beings.

Increasing reliance on religion-based classification of the people of the world also tends to make the Western response to global terrorism and conflict peculiarly ham-handed. Respect for "other people" is shown by praising their religious books, rather than by taking note of the many-sided involvements and achievements, in nonreligious as well as religious fields, of different people in a globally interactive world. In confronting what is called "Islamic terrorism" in the muddled vocabulary of contemporary global politics, the intellectual force of Western policy is aimed quite substantially at trying to define—or redefine—Islam.

To focus just on the grand religious classification is not only to miss other significant concerns and ideas that move people. It also has the effect of generally magnifying the voice of religious authority. The Muslim clerics, for example, are then treated as the ex officio spokesmen for the so-called Islamic world, even though a great many people who happen to be Muslim by religion have profound differences with what is proposed by one mullah or another. Despite our diverse diversities, the world is suddenly seen not as a collection of people, but as a federation of religions and civilizations. In Britain, a confounded view of what a multiethnic society must do has led to encouraging the development of state-financed Muslim schools, Hindu schools, Sikh schools, etc., to supplement pre-existing state-supported Christian schools. Under this system, young children are placed in the domain of singular affiliations well before they have the ability to reason about different systems of identification that may compete for their attention. Earlier on, state-run denominational schools in Northern Ireland had fed the political distancing of Catholics and Protestants along one line of divisive categorization assigned at infancy. Now the same predetermination of "discovered" identities is now being allowed and, in effect encouraged, to sow even more alienation among a different part of the British population.

Religious or civilizational classification can be a source of belligerent distortion as well. It can, for example, take the form of crude beliefs well exemplified by U.S. Lt. Gen. William Boykin's blaring—and by now well-known—remark describing his battle against Muslims with disarming coarseness: "I knew that my God was bigger than his," and that the Christian God "was a real God, and [the Muslim's] was an idol." The idiocy of such bigotry is easy to diagnose, so there is comparatively limited danger in the uncouth hurling of such unguided missiles. There is, in contrast, a much more serious problem in the use in Western public policy of intellectual "guided missiles" that present a superficially nobler vision to woo Muslim activists away from opposition through the apparently benign strategy of defining Islam appropriately. They try to wrench Islamic terrorists from violence by insisting that Islam is a religion of peace, and that a "true Muslim" must be a tolerant individual ("so come off it and be peaceful"). The rejection of a confrontational view of Islam is certainly appropriate and extremely important at this time, but we must ask whether it is necessary or useful, or even possible, to try to define in largely political terms what a "true Muslim" must be like.


A person's religion need not be his or her all-encompassing and exclusive identity. Islam, as a religion, does not obliterate responsible choice for Muslims in many spheres of life. Indeed, it is possible for one Muslim to take a confrontational view and another to be thoroughly tolerant of heterodoxy without either of them ceasing to be a Muslim for that reason alone.

The response to Islamic fundamentalism and to the terrorism linked with it also becomes particularly confused when there is a general failure to distinguish between Islamic history and the history of Muslim people. Muslims, like all other people in the world, have many different pursuits, and not all their priorities and values need be placed within their singular identity of being Islamic. It is, of course, not surprising at all that the champions of Islamic fundamentalism would like to suppress all other identities of Muslims in favor of being only Islamic. But it is extremely odd that those who want to overcome the tensions and conflicts linked with Islamic fundamentalism also seem unable to see Muslim people in any form other than their being just Islamic.

People see themselves—and have reason to see themselves—in many different ways. For example, a Bangladeshi Muslim is not only a Muslim but also a Bengali and a Bangladeshi, typically quite proud of the Bengali language, literature, and music, not to mention the other identities he or she may have connected with class, gender, occupation, politics, aesthetic taste, and so on. Bangladesh's separation from Pakistan was not based on religion at all, since a Muslim identity was shared by the bulk of the population in the two wings of undivided Pakistan. The separatist issues related to language, literature, and politics.

Similarly, there is no empirical reason at all why champions of the Muslim past, or for that matter of the Arab heritage, have to concentrate specifically on religious beliefs only and not also on science and mathematics, to which Arab and Muslim societies have contributed so much, and which can also be part of a Muslim or an Arab identity. Despite the importance of this heritage, crude classifications have tended to put science and mathematics in the basket of "Western science," leaving other people to mine their pride in religious depths. If the disaffected Arab activist today can take pride only in the purity of Islam, rather than in the many-sided richness of Arab history, the unique prioritization of religion, shared by warriors on both sides, plays a major part in incarcerating people within the enclosure of a singular identity.

Even the frantic Western search for "the moderate Muslim" confounds moderation in political beliefs with moderateness of religious faith. A person can have strong religious faith—Islamic or any other—along with tolerant politics. Emperor Saladin, who fought valiantly for Islam in the Crusades in the 12th century, could offer, without any contradiction, an honored place in his Egyptian royal court to Maimonides as that distinguished Jewish philosopher fled an intolerant Europe. When, at the turn of the 16th century, the heretic Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in Campo dei Fiori in Rome, the Great Mughal emperor Akbar (who was born a Muslim and died a Muslim) had just finished, in Agra, his large project of legally codifying minority rights, including religious freedom for all.

The point that needs particular attention is that while Akbar was free to pursue his liberal politics without ceasing to be a Muslim, that liberality was in no way ordained—nor of course prohibited—by Islam. Another Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, could deny minority rights and persecute non-Muslims without, for that reason, failing to be a Muslim, in exactly the same way that Akbar did not terminate being a Muslim because of his tolerantly pluralist politics.

The insistence, if only implicitly, on a choiceless singularity of human identity not only diminishes us all, it also makes the world much more flammable. The alternative to the divisiveness of one pre-eminent categorization is not any unreal claim that we are all much the same. Rather, the main hope of harmony in our troubled world lies in the plurality of our identities, which cut across each other and work against sharp divisions around one single hardened line of vehement division that allegedly cannot be resisted. Our shared humanity gets savagely challenged when our differences are narrowed into one devised system of uniquely powerful categorization.

Perhaps the worst impairment comes from the neglect—and denial—of the roles of reasoning and choice, which follow from the recognition of our plural identities. The illusion of unique identity is much more divisive than the universe of plural and diverse classifications that characterize the world in which we actually live. The descriptive weakness of choiceless singularity has the effect of momentously impoverishing the power and reach of our social and political reasoning. The illusion of destiny exacts a remarkably heavy price.

Amartya Sen is the Lamont University Professor at Harvard and the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics. Adapted from Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, by Amartya Sen. Copyright 2006 by Amartya Sen. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. This material may not be reproduced, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Wednesday, March 29

Tomorrows Educators

Facts and Folly

I was leaving for a trip the other day and scooped up some reading material off my desk for the plane ride. I found myself holding three documents: one was the Bush administration's National Security Strategy for 2006; another was a new study by the Economic Strategy Institute entitled "America's Technology Future at Risk," about how America is falling behind the world in broadband. And the third was "Teaching at Risk," a new report by the Teaching Commission, headed by the former I.B.M. chairman Louis Gerstner Jr., about the urgent need to upgrade the quality and pay of America's K-12 teachers.

The contrast was striking. The Bush strategy paper presupposes that we are a rich country and always will be, and that the only issue is how we choose to exercise our power. But what the teaching and telecom studies tell us is that key pillars of U.S. power are eroding, and unless we start tending to them in a strategic way, we aren't going to be able to project power anywhere.

Because we've long been rich, there is an abiding faith that we always will be, and those who dare question that are labeled "defeatists." I wouldn't call Lou Gerstner a defeatist. He saved I.B.M. by acknowledging its weaknesses and making dramatic changes — beginning with scrapping I.B.M.'s arrogant assumption that because it was such a great company, it could do extraordinary things with average people. Mr. Gerstner understood that an extraordinary company could stay that way only if it had a critical mass of extraordinary people. This is the message of his Teaching Commission: We cannot remain an extraordinary country without a critical mass of extraordinary teachers.

"If teaching remains a second-rate profession, America's economy will be driven by second-rate skills," Mr. Gerstner says. "We can wake up today — or we can have a rude awakening sooner than we think."

The Teaching Commission notes that "our schools are only as good as their teachers," yet this "occupation that makes all others possible is eroding at its foundations." Top students are far less likely to go into teaching today; salaries are stagnant; nearly 50 percent of new teachers leave within five years. To remedy this, the commission calls for raising teachers' base pay, finding ways to reward the best teachers, raising standards for acquiring a teaching degree and testing would-be teachers, on the basis of national standards, to be certain they have mastered the subjects they will teach (

Meanwhile, the report by the Economic Strategy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, is equally harrowing. It notes that while the U.S. led the world in broadband Internet access in 2000, it has now fallen to 16th place. In 2000, 40 percent of the world's telecom equipment was produced in America. That share is now 21 percent and falling. The U.S. ranks 42nd for the percentage of people with cellphones.

In an age when connectivity means productivity, when communications infrastructure is at the heart of any innovation ecosystem, these things matter for job creation and growth. The lack of ultra-high-speed networks in the U.S. "makes it impossible for U.S.-based companies to enter key new business sectors" — one reason venture capitalists are moving their R.&D. start-ups to Asia, E.S.I. noted.

"The wealth and long-term economic growth of the United States," it added, "have long depended upon technological advancement as a means of competing with our foreign rivals. ... America's emphasis has always been on achieving such high levels of productivity that it could be the low-cost producer while still paying high wages." The study offers a variety of regulatory and investment prescriptions (

It's not surprising that the Bush strategy paper is largely silent about these educational and technological deficits, as well as about the investment we need to make in alternative fuels to end our oil addiction. Because to acknowledge these deficits is to acknowledge that we have to spend money to fix them, and the radical Bush tax cuts make that impossible. It would be one thing if we were going into debt to solve these problems that affect our underlying national strength. But we are going into debt to buy low-interest houses and more stuff made in China.

We're like a family that is overdrawn at the bank just when the parents need to send their kid to college, buy a computer and a D.S.L. line, and replace a gas-guzzling furnace. Whatever "strategic plan" that family has for advancement, it won't get anywhere until it rebalances its books.

"Because I Say So" - The Supreme Court takes the military tribunals out for a spin.

supreme court dispatches
The Supreme Court takes the military tribunals out for a spin.
By Dahlia Lithwick
Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2006, at 6:49 PM ET

One of the most dramatic moments in today's oral argument in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld comes when an uncharacteristically agitated Justice David Souter presses Solicitor General Paul Clement about whether Congress last December effectively stripped the Supreme Court of the right to hear habeas corpus claims from any of the hundreds of detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay. Clement says it's not necessary for Congress to have "consciously thought it was suspending the Writ." Perhaps the lawmakers just "stumbled on the suspension of the Writ," which would also be fine, Clement suggests.

Souter stops him, amazed. "The suspension of the Writ," the justice sputters, is the most "stupendously significant act" Congress can undertake. "Are you really saying Congress may validly suspend it inadvertently?" he asks. It's the morning's best example of the degree to which, for Souter as well as for Justice Stephen Breyer, today's argument is an agonizing exercise in Bush administration doublespeak. Clement's arguments are frequently drawn from the well of "because the president says so," or "because the president is the president," or "because it's wartime." They start to sound like Alberto Gonzales' testimony before Congress or the president's signing statements: legal analysis by assertion and justification by double standard. This war is like every other war except to the extent that it differs from those other wars. We follow the laws of war except to the extent that they do not apply to us. These prisoners have all the rights to which they are entitled by law, except to the extent that we have changed the law to limit their rights.

In other words, there is almost no question for which the government cannot find a circular answer.

The issue before the court is the legality of President Bush's military tribunals. The two key war-on-terror cases of 2004—Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Rasul v. Bush—established that the administration could detain enemy combatants. But these combatants would nevertheless be entitled to some neutral adjudicatory process, the contours of which the justices left to be determined. The question for the court is whether the military tribunals established by the president by military order in 2001 meet the justices' standard for neutral and adjudicatory. The tribunals rely neither on the Geneva Convention nor the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They allow for the admission of unsworn testimony; may preclude a detainee from appearing at his own trial; and do away with the presumption of innocence. Punishment may include death.

Salim Ahmed Hamdan, alleged to be Osama Bin Laden's chauffeur, faces trial before such a tribunal on charges of conspiracy to help terrorists. His appeal encompasses a host of statutory and constitutional challenges to the tribunals. Hamdan won in the district court and lost in the D.C. Circuit federal court of appeals. Chief Justice John Roberts joined in the D.C. Circuit decision before his promotion and has thus recused himself today.

As if the court didn't have enough weighty matters on its collective mind, it also must grapple with the Detainee Treatment Act, which Congress passed last December to amend the federal habeas corpus statute. The idea was to prevent the Guantanamo detainees from getting a full habeas review—which often includes a chance for the accused to present evidence—in the federal courts. The government argues that the DTA strips the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to hear Hamdan's case. So, the court has to start there: Can it even reach the merits of the legality of the commissions?

The press corps begins the day with a different question: What the hell has gotten into Justice Antonin Scalia? Between his extracurricular pronouncements on the arguments in this case (and I urge you to listen to the whole speech yourself) and his extracurricular hand signals last weekend, nobody is quite sure what has come over the man. He is ever more the Bill O'Reilly of the High Court.

Neal Katyal represents Hamdan this morning in a special 90-minute session that is sufficiently important to merit audio broadcast, according to the unknowable metric used by the chief justice. Katyal launches into his argument about why the DTA doesn't apply to cases like Hamdan's that were pending in the courts when the law passed. Rookie Justice Samuel Alito—who speaks very little again today—asks why Hamdan can't just raise these claims later, after the military tribunal has issued its final decision, the way he would in an ordinary criminal proceeding.

"This is not an ordinary criminal proceeding," replies Katyal. "If it was we wouldn't be here. … This is a military commission unbounded by laws, the constitution, or treatises. It replicates the blank check this court rejected in Hamdi." Katyal says that the Framers had a "deep distrust of military tribunals" and that the only thing that assuages this distrust is that Congress is charged with setting clear rules.

Katyal then turns to the conspiracy charge Hamdan faces. He explains that the laws of war reject the charge of conspiracy as a substantive crime. "Even if this tribunal is authorized," he claims, "allowing this charge of conspiracy would open the floodgates to the president to charge whatever he wants."

Alito asks whether the conspiracy charge can't simply be amended. To which Katyal responds, with some frustration, that the "government has had four years to get their charges together against Hamdan."

Katyal argues that the Uniform Code of Military Justice sets out the bare baseline rules for military commissions. But Scalia counters that there is no point in creating military commissions if they have to adhere to the same standards as the UCMJ.

Solicitor General Paul Clement has 45 minutes to represent the Bush administration, and here is where the smoke and mirrors kick in. He cites the executive's longstanding authority to try enemies by military tribunal. When Justice John Paul Stevens asks for the source of the laws that such tribunals would enforce, Clement replies that the source is the "laws of war." When Stevens asks whether conspiracy is encompassed within the laws of war, Clement says that the president views conspiracy as within the laws of war.

Neat trick, no?

Souter takes a slightly different tack: If you accept that the military commissions apply the laws of war, don't you have to accept the Geneva Conventions? he asks. Clement responds that the commissions can "adjudicate that the Geneva Conventions don't apply."

"You can't have it both ways, " Souter retorts. The government can't say the president is operating under the laws of war, as recognized by Congress, and then for purposes of defining those laws, say the Geneva Conventions don't apply.

Sure it can. Clement replies that if a detainee has such a claim, he should bring it before the military courts. Even Kennedy seems alarmed now. He confesses that he's troubled by the notion of bringing challenges about the structure of the tribunal to the tribunal itself. "If a group is going to try some people, do you first have the trial and then challenge the legitimacy of the tribunal?" he asks incredulously.

Clement objects to his word choice. "This isn't just some group of people," he says. This is the president invoking his authority to try terrorists.

Breyer goes back to the DTA and whether it stripped the court of jurisdiction to rule on Hamdan's claims. He asks how the court can avoid "the most terribly difficult question of whether Congress can constitutionally deprive this court of jurisdiction in habeas cases."

And Stevens serves up another can't-have-it-both-ways query: When Congress takes away the courts' habeas corpus jurisdiction, "Do you say it's a permissible suspension of the writ or that it's not a suspension of the writ?" he asks.

"Both," replies Clement.

"You can't say both," chides Stevens. So this is where Clement claims that Congress could have accidentally suspended the writ, the way you might accidentally drop your eyeglasses into a punchbowl. "Wait a minute," replies Souter, and I think he's angrier than I have ever seen him. "The writ is the writ. … You're saying the writ was suspended by inadvertence!"

Later Breyer will add: "You want to say that these are war crimes. But this is not a war. These are not war crimes. And this is not a war crimes tribunal. If the president can do this, he can set up a commission and go to Toledo and arrest an immigrant and try him." To which Clement's answer is the fail-safe: "This is a war."

And even as it starts to be clear that he is losing Kennedy—who asks whether Hamdan isn't "uniquely vulnerable" and thus entitled to the theoretical protection of the Geneva Conventions—Clement stands firm in his claim that the Guantanamo detainees are different from regular POWs because, well, they are.

At some point, it must begin to insult the collective intelligence of the court, these tautological arguments that end where they begin: The existing laws do not apply because this is a different kind of war. It's a different kind of war because the president says so. The president gets to say so because he is president.

For today at least, it appeared that the Bush administration would not readily marshal five votes for its core legal proposition: that if you just refuse to offer answers, the questions will go away.

Dahlia Lithwick is a Slate senior editor.

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Tuesday, March 28

How Pink Slips Hurt More Than Workers

How Pink Slips Hurt More Than Workers

Is the layoff the great American wound? In Louis Uchitelle's account, it seems a wound in triplicate. It hollows out companies so they can't compete. It hollows out the country by removing middle-class jobs. It hollows out the middle-class employees who are laid off and then too often drop permanently to a demeaning, low-wage way of life. To Mr. Uchitelle, who reports on economics for The New York Times, corporate America's addiction to the layoff has gone past the point of economic rationality. In this fascinating book he tries to tell the history of the United States in our time as the unchecked rise of layoffs.

"The Disposable American" is a history in which odd characters like Pat Buchanan, the former chief executives Jack Welch and Albert J. Dunlap (known as Chainsaw Al), the economist Alfred Kahn and others loom large — but so do Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Robert E. Rubin, former secretary of the treasury. But Mr. Uchitelle is just as interested in ordinary people and in the way that layoffs keep tormenting those who have been let go. As he writes, "I did not think in the early stages of the reporting for this book that I would be drawn so persistently into the psychiatric aspect of layoffs."

The layoff, Mr. Uchitelle argues, has transformed the nation. At least 30 million full-time American employees have gotten pink slips since the Labor Department belatedly started to count them in 1984. But add in the early retirees, the "quits" who saw the layoffs coming, and the number is much higher — a whole ghost nation trekking into what for most will be lower-wage work. This is the Dust Bowl in our Golden Bowl, and to Mr. Uchitelle, layoffs in one way are worse than the unemployment of the 1930's. At least then, most of the jobless came back to better-paid, more secure jobs. Those laid off in our time almost never will.

Mr. Uchitelle effectively wrecks the claim that all this downsizing makes the country more productive, more competitive, more flexible. He is willing to admit that downsizing can be necessary. "The global economy is not to be denied," he writes. But to lay off is now like a business school tic, whether it makes any sense or not. With fewer employees, many companies begin to crumble. Innovation also suffers. "Rather than try to outstrip foreign competitors in innovation, a costly and risky process, we gave up in product after product," Mr. Uchitelle writes. As he points out, many of the business stars now are companies, like Southwest Airlines, that have refused to downsize at all. A growing number of economists argue that layoffs cause more problems than they solve.

The heart of Mr. Uchitelle's book is his detailed, wide-ranging reporting. He is present, taking notes, while airline mechanics are being counseled into job training that will take them into lower-wage work. If they were not so painful, these moments would have a certain droll comedy. One mechanic ends up running a water taxi for tourists. Another goes into maintenance. Others find jobs "throwing boxes" at Federal Express. As one of the ex-mechanics tells Mr. Uchitelle years later: "It is hard to look in your son's eyes and explain to him that you are making $12 an hour and know his high school friends are making that much on the side."

In one of his shrewder moves, Mr. Uchitelle goes right into the enemy camp, as it were, and looks in on a reunion of Harvard graduates, the class of '68. But even Harvard grads are among the wounded now — some have received pink slips. Mr. Uchitelle makes a strong case that the whole middle class is at risk. During the Clinton era, the claim was that the United States was expanding high-wage, high-skilled jobs, and that the laid off could simply jump into jobs as good or better. But Mr. Uchitelle takes apart this argument. After all, he writes, as of 2004, more than 45 percent of American workers were earning $13.25 an hour or less. The jobs that the country has been "growing" the fastest include those like janitor, hospital orderly and cashier.

It nettles Mr. Uchitelle that even the center-left politicians have said so little about this trend — or have done so little to stop layoffs. In fact, layoffs rose faster in the first half of the 1990's than they did in the first half of the 80's. Mr. Uchitelle particularly blames Mr. Clinton. One of his chapters is titled "A Green Light From Clinton." Mr. Uchitelle writes: "As much as anyone, he disconnected the Democratic party from its past, specifically its New Deal concern for job security and full employment." Indeed, it is Mr. Uchitelle's point that it took government action to bring about the reign of layoffs.

He is also clear that this began long before the Clinton presidency. Mr. Uchitelle puts special emphasis on the deregulation of many industries, the dilution of the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act of 1978 and what he regards as other political wrong turns. Still, in a brief concluding chapter, it is unclear whether Mr. Uchitelle sees any good solutions now — including a solution that he attributes to this reviewer.

In this retelling of American history, Mr. Uchitelle is baffled by the collapse of any serious resistance to these mass layoffs. Even the protestors who began to sound off in the 90's generally believed that companies did have to downsize or die. It bothers Mr. Uchitelle that the mechanics and others he covers in this book and gets to know personally often blame themselves. "Whenever I insisted that layoffs were a phenomenon in America beyond their control, they agreed perfunctorily and then went right back to describing ... why it was somehow their fault or their particular bad luck."

Many readers know Mr. Uchitelle as a business journalist with an acute analytic bent. That is in this book, but there is a surprising passion as well. He urges — demands — that Americans speak up: not to give empty speeches about how more of us should go to college, or "skill up," but to stop the layoffs from ravaging us all.

Thomas Geoghegan is a labor lawyer and author.

Monday, March 27

Secret Memo by Top British Adviser Evidence that Bush, Blair Acknowledged Lack of WMDs, Set to Pursue Iraq Invasion Regardless

March 27, 2006

LONDON — In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."

The timetable came at an important diplomatic moment. Five days after the Bush-Blair meeting, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was scheduled to appear before the United Nations to present the American evidence that Iraq posed a threat to world security by hiding unconventional weapons.

Although the United States and Britain aggressively sought a second United Nations resolution against Iraq — which they failed to obtain — the president said repeatedly that he did not believe he needed it for an invasion.

Stamped "extremely sensitive," the five-page memorandum, which was circulated among a handful of Mr. Blair's most senior aides, had not been made public. Several highlights were first published in January in the book "Lawless World," which was written by a British lawyer and international law professor, Philippe Sands. In early February, Channel 4 in London first broadcast several excerpts from the memo.

Since then, The New York Times has reviewed the five-page memo in its entirety. While the president's sentiments about invading Iraq were known at the time, the previously unreported material offers an unfiltered view of two leaders on the brink of war, yet supremely confident.

The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.

The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.

Those proposals were first reported last month in the British press, but the memo does not make clear whether they reflected Mr. Bush's extemporaneous suggestions, or were elements of the government's plan.

Consistent Remarks

Two senior British officials confirmed the authenticity of the memo, but declined to talk further about it, citing Britain's Official Secrets Act, which made it illegal to divulge classified information. But one of them said, "In all of this discussion during the run-up to the Iraq war, it is obvious that viewing a snapshot at a certain point in time gives only a partial view of the decision-making process."

On Sunday, Frederick Jones, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said the president's public comments were consistent with his private remarks made to Mr. Blair. "While the use of force was a last option, we recognized that it might be necessary and were planning accordingly," Mr. Jones said.

"The public record at the time, including numerous statements by the President, makes clear that the administration was continuing to pursue a diplomatic solution into 2003," he said. "Saddam Hussein was given every opportunity to comply, but he chose continued defiance, even after being given one final opportunity to comply or face serious consequences. Our public and private comments are fully consistent."

The January 2003 memo is the latest in a series of secret memos produced by top aides to Mr. Blair that summarize private discussions between the president and the prime minister. Another group of British memos, including the so-called Downing Street memo written in July 2002, showed that some senior British officials had been concerned that the United States was determined to invade Iraq, and that the "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" by the Bush administration to fit its desire to go to war.

The latest memo is striking in its characterization of frank, almost casual, conversation by Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair about the most serious subjects. At one point, the leaders swapped ideas for a postwar Iraqi government. "As for the future government of Iraq, people would find it very odd if we handed it over to another dictator," the prime minister is quoted as saying.

"Bush agreed," Mr. Manning wrote. This exchange, like most of the quotations in this article, have not been previously reported.

Mr. Bush was accompanied at the meeting by Condoleezza Rice, who was then the national security adviser; Dan Fried, a senior aide to Ms. Rice; and Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff. Along with Mr. Manning, Mr. Blair was joined by two other senior aides: Jonathan Powell, his chief of staff, and Matthew Rycroft, a foreign policy aide and the author of the Downing Street memo.

By late January 2003, United Nations inspectors had spent six weeks in Iraq hunting for weapons under the auspices of Security Council Resolution 1441, which authorized "serious consequences" if Iraq voluntarily failed to disarm. Led by Hans Blix, the inspectors had reported little cooperation from Mr. Hussein, and no success finding any unconventional weapons.

At their meeting, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair candidly expressed their doubts that chemical, biological or nuclear weapons would be found in Iraq in the coming weeks, the memo said. The president spoke as if an invasion was unavoidable. The two leaders discussed a timetable for the war, details of the military campaign and plans for the aftermath of the war.

Discussing Provocation

Without much elaboration, the memo also says the president raised three possible ways of provoking a confrontation. Since they were first reported last month, neither the White House nor the British government has discussed them.

"The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours," the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

It also described the president as saying, "The U.S. might be able to bring out a defector who could give a public presentation about Saddam's W.M.D," referring to weapons of mass destruction.

A brief clause in the memo refers to a third possibility, mentioned by Mr. Bush, a proposal to assassinate Saddam Hussein. The memo does not indicate how Mr. Blair responded to the idea.

Mr. Sands first reported the proposals in his book, although he did not use any direct quotations from the memo. He is a professor of international law at University College of London and the founding member of the Matrix law office in London, where the prime minister's wife, Cherie Blair, is a partner.

Mr. Jones, the National Security Council spokesman, declined to discuss the proposals, saying, "We are not going to get into discussing private discussions of the two leaders."

At several points during the meeting between Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair, there was palpable tension over finding a legitimate legal trigger for going to war that would be acceptable to other nations, the memo said. The prime minister was quoted as saying it was essential for both countries to lobby for a second United Nations resolution against Iraq, because it would serve as "an insurance policy against the unexpected."

The memo said Mr. Blair told Mr. Bush, "If anything went wrong with the military campaign, or if Saddam increased the stakes by burning the oil wells, killing children or fomenting internal divisions within Iraq, a second resolution would give us international cover, especially with the Arabs."

Running Out of Time

Mr. Bush agreed that the two countries should attempt to get a second resolution, but he added that time was running out. "The U.S. would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would twist arms and even threaten," Mr. Bush was paraphrased in the memo as saying.

The document added, "But he had to say that if we ultimately failed, military action would follow anyway."

The leaders agreed that three weeks remained to obtain a second United Nations Security Council resolution before military commanders would need to begin preparing for an invasion.

Summarizing statements by the president, the memo says: "The air campaign would probably last four days, during which some 1,500 targets would be hit. Great care would be taken to avoid hitting innocent civilians. Bush thought the impact of the air onslaught would ensure the early collapse of Saddam's regime. Given this military timetable, we needed to go for a second resolution as soon as possible. This probably meant after Blix's next report to the Security Council in mid-February."

Mr. Blair was described as responding that both countries would make clear that a second resolution amounted to "Saddam's final opportunity." The memo described Mr. Blair as saying: "We had been very patient. Now we should be saying that the crisis must be resolved in weeks, not months."

It reported: "Bush agreed. He commented that he was not itching to go to war, but we could not allow Saddam to go on playing with us. At some point, probably when we had passed the second resolutions — assuming we did — we should warn Saddam that he had a week to leave. We should notify the media too. We would then have a clear field if Saddam refused to go."

Mr. Bush devoted much of the meeting to outlining the military strategy. The president, the memo says, said the planned air campaign "would destroy Saddam's command and control quickly." It also said that he expected Iraq's army to "fold very quickly." He also is reported as telling the prime minister that the Republican Guard would be "decimated by the bombing."

Despite his optimism, Mr. Bush said he was aware that "there were uncertainties and risks," the memo says, and it goes on, "As far as destroying the oil wells were concerned, the U.S. was well equipped to repair them quickly, although this would be easier in the south of Iraq than in the north."

The two men briefly discussed plans for a post-Hussein Iraqi government. "The prime minister asked about aftermath planning," the memo says. "Condi Rice said that a great deal of work was now in hand.

Referring to the Defense Department, it said: "A planning cell in D.O.D. was looking at all aspects and would deploy to Iraq to direct operations as soon as the military action was over. Bush said that a great deal of detailed planning had been done on supplying the Iraqi people with food and medicine."

Planning for After the War

The leaders then looked beyond the war, imagining the transition from Mr. Hussein's rule to a new government. Immediately after the war, a military occupation would be put in place for an unknown period of time, the president was described as saying. He spoke of the "dilemma of managing the transition to the civil administration," the memo says.

The document concludes with Mr. Manning still holding out a last-minute hope of inspectors finding weapons in Iraq, or even Mr. Hussein voluntarily leaving Iraq. But Mr. Manning wrote that he was concerned this could not be accomplished by Mr. Bush's timeline for war.

"This makes the timing very tight," he wrote. "We therefore need to stay closely alongside Blix, do all we can to help the inspectors make a significant find, and work hard on the other members of the Security Council to accept the noncooperation case so that we can secure the minimum nine votes when we need them, probably the end of February."

At a White House news conference following the closed-door session, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair said "the crisis" had to be resolved in a timely manner. "Saddam Hussein is not disarming," the president told reporters. "He is a danger to the world. He must disarm. And that's why I have constantly said — and the prime minister has constantly said — this issue will come to a head in a matter of weeks, not months."

Despite intense lobbying by the United States and Britain, a second United Nations resolution was not obtained. The American-led military coalition invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003, nine days after the target date set by the president on that late January day at the White House.

Sunday, March 26

Black Culture to Blame? "A Poverty of the Mind"

Op-Ed Contributor, NYT
A Poverty of the Mind

professor of sociology at Harvard

SEVERAL recent studies have garnered wide attention for reconfirming the tragic disconnection of millions of black youths from the American mainstream. But they also highlighted another crisis: the failure of social scientists to adequately explain the problem, and their inability to come up with any effective strategy to deal with it.

The main cause for this shortcoming is a deep-seated dogma that has prevailed in social science and policy circles since the mid-1960's: the rejection of any explanation that invokes a group's cultural attributes — its distinctive attitudes, values and predispositions, and the resulting behavior of its members — and the relentless preference for relying on structural factors like low incomes, joblessness, poor schools and bad housing.

Harry Holzer, an economist at Georgetown University and a co-author of one of the recent studies, typifies this attitude. Joblessness, he feels, is due to largely weak schooling, a lack of reading and math skills at a time when such skills are increasingly required even for blue-collar jobs, and the poverty of black neighborhoods. Unable to find jobs, he claims, black males turn to illegal activities, especially the drug trade and chronic drug use, and often end up in prison. He also criticizes the practice of withholding child-support payments from the wages of absentee fathers who do find jobs, telling The Times that to these men, such levies "amount to a tax on earnings."

His conclusions are shared by scholars like Ronald B. Mincy of Columbia, the author of a study called "Black Males Left Behind," and Gary Orfield of Harvard, who asserts that America is "pumping out boys with no honest alternative."

This is all standard explanatory fare. And, as usual, it fails to answer the important questions. Why are young black men doing so poorly in school that they lack basic literacy and math skills? These scholars must know that countless studies by educational experts, going all the way back to the landmark report by James Coleman of Johns Hopkins University in 1966, have found that poor schools, per se, do not explain why after 10 years of education a young man remains illiterate.

Nor have studies explained why, if someone cannot get a job, he turns to crime and drug abuse. One does not imply the other. Joblessness is rampant in Latin America and India, but the mass of the populations does not turn to crime.

And why do so many young unemployed black men have children — several of them — which they have no resources or intention to support? And why, finally, do they murder each other at nine times the rate of white youths?

What's most interesting about the recent spate of studies is that analysts seem at last to be recognizing what has long been obvious to anyone who takes culture seriously: socioeconomic factors are of limited explanatory power. Thus it's doubly depressing that the conclusions they draw and the prescriptions they recommend remain mired in traditional socioeconomic thinking.

What has happened, I think, is that the economic boom years of the 90's and one of the most successful policy initiatives in memory — welfare reform — have made it impossible to ignore the effects of culture. The Clinton administration achieved exactly what policy analysts had long said would pull black men out of their torpor: the economy grew at a rapid pace, providing millions of new jobs at all levels. Yet the jobless black youths simply did not turn up to take them. Instead, the opportunity was seized in large part by immigrants — including many blacks — mainly from Latin America and the Caribbean.

One oft-repeated excuse for the failure of black Americans to take these jobs — that they did not offer a living wage — turned out to be irrelevant. The sociologist Roger Waldinger of the University of California at Los Angeles, for example, has shown that in New York such jobs offered an opportunity to the chronically unemployed to join the market and to acquire basic work skills that they later transferred to better jobs, but that the takers were predominantly immigrants.

Why have academics been so allergic to cultural explanations? Until the recent rise of behavioral economics, most economists have simply not taken non-market forces seriously. But what about the sociologists and other social scientists who ought to have known better? Three gross misconceptions about culture explain the neglect.

First is the pervasive idea that cultural explanations inherently blame the victim; that they focus on internal behavioral factors and, as such, hold people responsible for their poverty, rather than putting the onus on their deprived environment. (It hasn't helped that many conservatives do actually put forth this view.)

But this argument is utterly bogus. To hold someone responsible for his behavior is not to exclude any recognition of the environmental factors that may have induced the problematic behavior in the first place. Many victims of child abuse end up behaving in self-destructive ways; to point out the link between their behavior and the destructive acts is in no way to deny the causal role of their earlier victimization and the need to address it.

Likewise, a cultural explanation of black male self-destructiveness addresses not simply the immediate connection between their attitudes and behavior and the undesired outcomes, but explores the origins and changing nature of these attitudes, perhaps over generations, in their brutalized past. It is impossible to understand the predatory sexuality and irresponsible fathering behavior of young black men without going back deep into their collective past.

Second, it is often assumed that cultural explanations are wholly deterministic, leaving no room for human agency. This, too, is nonsense. Modern students of culture have long shown that while it partly determines behavior, it also enables people to change behavior. People use their culture as a frame for understanding their world, and as a resource to do much of what they want. The same cultural patterns can frame different kinds of behavior, and by failing to explore culture at any depth, analysts miss a great opportunity to re-frame attitudes in a way that encourages desirable behavior and outcomes.

Third, it is often assumed that cultural patterns cannot change — the old "cake of custom" saw. This too is nonsense. Indeed, cultural patterns are often easier to change than the economic factors favored by policy analysts, and American history offers numerous examples.

My favorite is Jim Crow, that deeply entrenched set of cultural and institutional practices built up over four centuries of racist domination and exclusion of blacks by whites in the South. Nothing could have been more cultural than that. And yet America was able to dismantle the entire system within a single generation, so much so that today blacks are now making a historic migratory shift back to the South, which they find more congenial than the North. (At the same time, economic inequality, which the policy analysts love to discuss, has hardened in the South, like the rest of America.)

So what are some of the cultural factors that explain the sorry state of young black men? They aren't always obvious. Sociological investigation has found, in fact, that one popular explanation — that black children who do well are derided by fellow blacks for "acting white" — turns out to be largely false, except for those attending a minority of mixed-race schools.

An anecdote helps explain why: Several years ago, one of my students went back to her high school to find out why it was that almost all the black girls graduated and went to college whereas nearly all the black boys either failed to graduate or did not go on to college. Distressingly, she found that all the black boys knew the consequences of not graduating and going on to college ("We're not stupid!" they told her indignantly).

SO why were they flunking out? Their candid answer was that what sociologists call the "cool-pose culture" of young black men was simply too gratifying to give up. For these young men, it was almost like a drug, hanging out on the street after school, shopping and dressing sharply, sexual conquests, party drugs, hip-hop music and culture, the fact that almost all the superstar athletes and a great many of the nation's best entertainers were black.

Not only was living this subculture immensely fulfilling, the boys said, it also brought them a great deal of respect from white youths. This also explains the otherwise puzzling finding by social psychologists that young black men and women tend to have the highest levels of self-esteem of all ethnic groups, and that their self-image is independent of how badly they were doing in school.

I call this the Dionysian trap for young black men. The important thing to note about the subculture that ensnares them is that it is not disconnected from the mainstream culture. To the contrary, it has powerful support from some of America's largest corporations. Hip-hop, professional basketball and homeboy fashions are as American as cherry pie. Young white Americans are very much into these things, but selectively; they know when it is time to turn off Fifty Cent and get out the SAT prep book.

For young black men, however, that culture is all there is — or so they think. Sadly, their complete engagement in this part of the American cultural mainstream, which they created and which feeds their pride and self-respect, is a major factor in their disconnection from the socioeconomic mainstream.

Of course, such attitudes explain only a part of the problem. In academia, we need a new, multidisciplinary approach toward understanding what makes young black men behave so self-destructively. Collecting transcripts of their views and rationalizations is a useful first step, but won't help nearly as much as the recent rash of scholars with tape-recorders seem to think. Getting the facts straight is important, but for decades we have been overwhelmed with statistics on black youths, and running more statistical regressions is beginning to approach the point of diminishing returns to knowledge.

The tragedy unfolding in our inner cities is a time-slice of a deep historical process that runs far back through the cataracts and deluge of our racist past. Most black Americans have by now, miraculously, escaped its consequences. The disconnected fifth languishing in the ghettos is the remains. Too much is at stake for us to fail to understand the plight of these young men. For them, and for the rest of us.

Orlando Patterson, a professor of sociology at Harvard, is the author of "Rituals of Blood: Consequences of Slavery in Two American Centuries."

Neo No More - After "The End of History"

'America at the Crossroads,' by Francis Fukuyama


In February 2004, Francis Fukuyama attended a neoconservative think-tank dinner in Washington and listened aghast as the featured speaker, the columnist Charles Krauthammer, attributed "a virtually unqualified success" to America's efforts in Iraq, and the audience enthusiastically applauded. Fukuyama was aghast partly for the obvious reason, but partly for another reason, too, which, as he explains in the opening pages of his new book, "America at the Crossroads," was entirely personal. In years gone by, Fukuyama would have felt cozily at home among those applauding neoconservatives. He and Krauthammer used to share many a political instinct. It was Krauthammer who wrote the ecstatic topmost blurb ("bold, lucid, scandalously brilliant") for the back jacket of Fukuyama's masterpiece from 1992, "The End of History and the Last Man."

But that was then.

Today Fukuyama has decided to resign from the neoconservative movement — though for reasons that, as he expounds them, may seem a tad ambiguous. In his estimation, neoconservative principles in their pristine version remain valid even now. But his ex-fellow-thinkers have lately given those old ideas a regrettable twist, and dreadful errors have followed. Under these circumstances, Fukuyama figures he has no alternative but to go away and publish his complaint. And he has founded a new political journal to assert his post-neoconservative independence — though he has given this journal a name, The American Interest, that slyly invokes the legendary neoconservative journals of past (The Public Interest) and present (The National Interest), just to keep readers guessing about his ultimate relation to neoconservative tradition.

His resignation seems to me, in any case, a fairly notable event, as these things go, and that is because, among the neoconservative intellectuals, Fukuyama has surely been the most imaginative, the most playful in his thinking and the most ambitious. Then again, something about his departure may express a larger mood among the political intellectuals just now, not only on the right. For in the zones of liberalism and the left, as well, any number of people have likewise stood up in these post-9/11 times to accuse their oldest comrades of letting down the cause, and doors have slammed, and The Nation magazine has renamed itself The Weekly Purge. Nowadays, if you are any kind of political thinker at all, and you haven't issued a sweeping denunciation of your dearest friends, or haven't been hanged by them from a lamppost — why, the spirit of the age has somehow passed you by.

Fukuyama offers a thumbnail sketch of neoconservatism and its origins, back to the anti-Communist left at City College in the 1930's and 40's and to the conservative philosophers (Leo Strauss, Allan Bloom, Albert Wohlstetter) at the University of Chicago in later years. From these disparate origins, the neoconservatives eventually generated "a set of coherent principles," which, taken together, ended up defining their impulse in foreign affairs during the last quarter-century. They upheld a belief that democratic states are by nature friendly and unthreatening, and therefore America ought to go around the world promoting democracy and human rights wherever possible. They believed that American power can serve moral purposes. They doubted the usefulness of international law and institutions. And they were skeptical about what is called "social engineering" — about big government and its ability to generate positive social changes.

Such is Fukuyama's summary. It seems to me too kind. For how did the neoconservatives propose to reconcile their ambitious desire to combat despotism around the world with their cautious aversion to social engineering? Fukuyama notes that during the 1990's the neoconservatives veered in militarist directions, which strikes him as a mistake. A less sympathetic observer might recall that neoconservative foreign policy thinking has all along indulged a romance of the ruthless — an expectation that small numbers of people might be able to play a decisive role in world events, if only their ferocity could be unleashed. It was a romance of the ruthless that led some of the early generation of neoconservatives in the 1970's to champion the grisliest of anti-Communist guerrillas in Angola; and, during the next decade, led the neoconservatives to champion some not very attractive anti-Communist guerrillas in Central America, too; and led the Reagan administration's neoconservatives into the swamps of the Iran-contra scandal in order to go on championing their guerrillas. Doesn't this same impulse shed a light on the baffling question of how the Bush administration of our own time could have managed to yoke together a stirring democratic oratory with a series of grotesque scandals involving American torture — this very weird and self-defeating combination of idealism and brass knuckles? But Fukuyama must not agree.

The criticisms he does propose are pretty scathing. In 2002, Fukuyama came to the conclusion that invading Iraq was going to be a gamble with unacceptably long odds. Then he watched with dismay as the administration adopted one strange policy after another that was bound to make the odds still longer. The White House decided to ignore any useful lessons the Clinton administration might have learned in Bosnia and Kosovo, on the grounds that whatever Bill Clinton did — for example, conduct a successful intervention — George W. Bush wanted to do the opposite. There was the diplomatic folly of announcing an intention to dominate the globe, and so forth — all of which leads Fukuyama, scratching his head, to propose a psychological explanation.

The neoconservatives, he suggests, are people who, having witnessed the collapse of Communism long ago, ought to look back on those gigantic events as a one-in-a-zillion lucky break, like winning the lottery. Instead, the neoconservatives, victims of their own success, came to believe that Communism's implosion reflected the deepest laws of history, which were operating in their own and America's favor — a formula for hubris. This is a shrewd observation, and might seem peculiar only because Fukuyama's own "End of History" articulated the world's most eloquent argument for detecting within the collapse of Communism the deepest laws of history. He insists in his new book that "The End of History" ought never to have led anyone to adopt such a view, but this makes me think only that Fukuyama is an utterly unreliable interpreter of his own writings.

He wonders why Bush never proposed a more convincing justification for invading Iraq — based not just on a fear of Saddam Hussein's weapons (which could have been expressed in a non-alarmist fashion), nor just on the argument for human rights and humanitarianism, which Bush did raise, after a while. A genuinely cogent argument, as Fukuyama sees it, would have drawn attention to the problems that arose from America's prewar standoff with Hussein. The American-led sanctions against Iraq were the only factor that kept him from building his weapons. The sanctions were crumbling, though. Meanwhile, they were arousing anti-American furies across the Middle East on the grounds (entirely correct, I might add) that America was helping to inflict horrible damage on the Iraqi people. American troops took up positions in the region to help contain Hussein — and the presence of those troops succeeded in infuriating Osama bin Laden. In short, the prewar standoff with Hussein was untenable morally and even politically. But there was no way to end the standoff apart from ending Hussein's dictatorship.

Now, I notice that in stressing this strategic argument, together with the humanitarian and human rights issue, and in pointing out lessons from the Balkans, Fukuyama has willy-nilly outlined some main elements of the liberal interventionist position of three years ago, at least in one of its versions. In the Iraq war, liberal interventionism was the road not taken, to be sure. Nor was liberal interventionism his own position. However, I have to say that, having read his book, I'm not entirely sure what position he did adopt, apart from wisely admonishing everyone to tread carefully. He does make plain that, having launched wars hither and yon, the United States had better ensure that, in Afghanistan and Iraq alike, stable antiterrorist governments finally emerge.

He proposes a post-Bush foreign policy, which he styles "realistic Wilsonianism" — his new motto in place of neoconservatism. He worries that because of Bush's blunders, Americans on the right and the left are going to retreat into a Kissinger-style reluctance to promote democratic values in other parts of the world. Fukuyama does want to promote democratic values — "what is in the end a revolutionary American foreign policy agenda" — though he would like to be cautious about it, and even multilateral about it. The United Nations seems to him largely unsalvageable, given the role of nondemocratic countries there. But he thinks that a variety of other institutions, consisting strictly of democracies, might be able to establish and sometimes even enforce a new and superior version of international legitimacy. He wants to encourage economic development in poor countries, too — if only a method can be found that avoids the dreadful phrase "social engineering."

Fukuyama offers firm recommendations about the struggle against terrorism. He says, "The rhetoric about World War IV and the global war on terrorism should cease." Rhetoric of this sort, in his view, overstates our present problem, and dangerously so, by "suggesting that we are taking on a large part of the Arab and Muslim worlds." He may be right, too, depending on who is using the rhetoric. Then again, I worry that Fukuyama's preferred language may shrink our predicament into something smaller than it ever was. He pictures the present struggle as a "counterinsurgency" campaign — a struggle in which, before the Iraq war, "no more than a few thousand people around the world" threatened the United States. I suppose he has in mind an elite among the 10,000 to 20,000 people who are said to have trained at bin Laden's Afghan camps, plus other people who may never have gotten out of the immigrant districts of Western Europe. But the slaughters contemplated by this elite have always outrivaled anything contemplated by more conventional insurgencies — as Fukuyama does recognize in some passages. And there is the pesky problem that, as we have learned, the elite few thousand appear to have the ability endlessly to renew themselves.

HERE is where a rhetoric pointing to something larger than a typical counterinsurgency campaign may have a virtue, after all. A more grandiose rhetoric draws our attention, at least, to the danger of gigantic massacres. And a more grandiose rhetoric might lead us to think about ideological questions. Why are so many people eager to join the jihadi elite? They are eager for ideological reasons, exactly as in the case of fascists and other totalitarians of the past. These people will be defeated only when their ideologies begin to seem exhausted, which means that any struggle against them has to be, above all, a battle of ideas — a campaign to persuade entire mass movements around the world to abandon their present doctrines in favor of more liberal ones. Or so it seems to me. Fukuyama acknowledges that the terrorist ideology of today, as he describes it, "owes a great deal to Western ideas in addition to Islam" and appeals to the same kind of people who, in earlier times, might have been drawn to Communism or fascism. Even so, for all the marvelous fecundity of his political imagination, he has very little to say about this ideology and the war of ideas. I wonder why.

I think maybe it is because, when Fukuyama wrote "The End of History," he was a Hegelian, and he remains one even now. Hegel's doctrine is a philosophy of history in which every new phase of human development is thought to be more or less an improvement over whatever had come before. In "America at the Crossroads," Fukuyama describes the Hegelianism of "The End of History" as a version of "modernization" theory, bringing his optimistic vision of progress into the world of modern social science. But the problem with modernization theory was always a tendency to concentrate most of its attention on the steadily progressing phases of history, as determined by the predictable workings of sociology or economics or psychology — and to relegate the free play of unpredictable ideas and ideologies to the margins of world events.

And yet, what dominated the 20th century, what drowned the century in oceans of blood, was precisely the free play of ideas and ideologies, which could never be relegated entirely to the workings of sociology, economics, psychology or any of the other categories of social science. In my view, we are seeing the continuing strength of 20th-century-style ideologies right now — the ideologies that have motivated Baathists and the more radical Islamists to slaughter millions of their fellow Muslims in the last 25 years, together with a few thousand people who were not Muslims. Fukuyama is always worth reading, and his new book contains ideas that I hope the non-neoconservatives of America will adopt. But neither his old arguments nor his new ones offer much insight into this, the most important problem of all — the problem of murderous ideologies and how to combat them.

Paul Berman is a writer in residence at New York University and the author, most recently, of "Power and the Idealists: Or, The Passion of Joschka Fischer and Its Aftermath."

The ever-widening wealth divide

In 2004 median inheritances — half were bigger and half were smaller — amounted to about $29,000 in today's money, according to a Federal Reserve analysis of the Survey of Consumer Finances. That is enough for the heirs to buy a new Pontiac Coupe. But for almost all, it is hardly life-changing money.

Nor are inheritances likely to increase. According to the analysis of the Fed data by Mark Zandi of Moody's, 30 years ago the median inheritance was about $10,000 more, adjusted for inflation.

These meager bequests would seem to fly in the face of the huge transfer of wealth making its way down the generations.

Yes, big money is being passed down. According to the Fed data, the overall pie of inheritances has grown to nearly $200 billion annually — more than three times the amount that was passed down in the mid-1970's, after accounting for inflation. Paul Schervish and John Havens of Boston College's Center for Wealth and Philanthropy predict that by midcentury, $25 trillion will be passed from the old to their offspring.

But the typical American is seeing little of this wealth. Mr. Schervish and Mr. Havens found that most money would go to a few lucky heirs: 7 percent of the estates would account for half the aggregate bequests.

Those heirs are fueling brisk growth in the wealth-management industry, a niche enterprise catering mostly to the rich.

"We are seeing bigger-sized estates," said Myra Salzer, president of the Wealth Conservancy in Boulder, Colo., which helps heirs manage their inherited wealth.

"Wealth is just exploding," said Daniel FitzPatrick, chief executive of Citigroup Trust, whose clients typically have hundreds of millions of dollars.

Another study, based on the University of Michigan's Health and Retirement Study, also shows the disparities. Michael D. Hurd and James P. Smith of the RAND Corporation estimated that half of the children of parents born from 1931 to 1947 — that is, parents who are about 60 to 75 years old — would inherit less than $19,000, while the top 5 percent would receive at least $237,000.

Thursday, March 23

Constructionist Supreme Court To Revisit Women's Suffrage

The Onlon. March 17, 2006 | Issue 42•12

WASHINGTON, DC—The Supreme Court, demonstrating its new constructionist leaning since the appointment of Justice Samuel Alito, will re-examine arguments behind the 19th Amendment this week. "There was no constitutional precedent for amending the law of the land so dramatically," the Heritage Foundation's Trent England said Monday. "A case could be made on social grounds, but what the Court will determine is exactly what the framers of the Constitution wanted." While it's difficult to predict an outcome, observers believe Ruth Bader Ginsburg will use her three-fifths of a vote to oppose.

George Bush's Trillion-Dollar War


Call it the trillion-dollar war.

George W. Bush's war in Iraq was never supposed to be particularly expensive. Administration types tossed out numbers like $50 billion and $60 billion. When Lawrence Lindsey, the president's chief economic adviser, said the war was likely to cost $100 billion to $200 billion, he was fired.

Some in the White House tried to spread the fantasy that Iraqi oil revenues would pay for the war. Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy defense secretary and a fanatical hawk, told Congress that Iraq was "a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."

The president and his hot-for-war associates were as wrong about the money as they were about the weapons of mass destruction.

Now comes a study by Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Columbia University, and a colleague, Linda Bilmes of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, that estimates the "true costs" of the war at more than $1 trillion, and possibly more than $2 trillion.

"Even taking a conservative approach and assuming all U.S. troops return by 2010, we believe the true costs exceed a trillion dollars," the authors say.

The study was released earlier this year but has not gotten much publicity. The analysis by Professors Stiglitz and Bilmes goes beyond the immediate costs of combat operations to include other direct and indirect costs of the war that, in some cases, the government will have to shoulder for many years.

These costs, the study says, "include disability payments to veterans over the course of their lifetimes, the cost of replacing military equipment and munitions, which are being consumed at a faster-than-normal rate, the cost of medical treatment for returning Iraqi war veterans, particularly the more than 7,000 [service members] with brain, spinal, amputation and other serious injuries, and the cost of transporting returning troops back to their home bases."

The study also notes that Defense Department expenditures that were not directly appropriated for Iraq have grown by more than 5 percent since the war began. But a portion of that increase has been spent "on support for the war in Iraq, including significantly higher recruitment costs, such as nearly doubling the number of recruiters, paying recruitment bonuses of up to $40,000 for new enlistees and paying special bonuses and other benefits, up to $150,000 for current Special Forces troops that re-enlist."

"Another cost to the government," the study says, "is the interest on the money that it has borrowed to finance the war."

Among the things taken into account by the study are some of the difficult-to-quantify but very real costs inflicted by the war on the American economy and society, such as the effect of the war on oil prices, and the economic loss that results from the many thousands of Americans wounded and killed in the war.

The study does not address the substantial costs of the war borne by Iraq or by any other countries besides the United States.

In an interview, Mr. Stiglitz said that about $560 billion, which is a little more than half of the study's conservative estimate of the cost of the war, would have been enough to "fix" Social Security for the next 75 years. If one were thinking in terms of promoting democracy in the Middle East, he said, the money being spent on the war would have been enough to finance a "mega-mega-mega-Marshall Plan," which would have been "so much more" effective than the invasion of Iraq.

It's not easy to explain just how much money $1 trillion really is. Imagine a stack of bills worth $1 million that is roughly six inches high. (Think big denominations — a mix of $100 bills and $1,000 bills, mostly $1,000's.) If the six-inch stack were enlarged to the point where it was worth $1 billion, it would be as tall as the Washington Monument, about 500 feet. If it were worth $1 trillion, the stack would be 95 miles high.

Ms. Bilmes said that the $1 trillion we're spending on Iraq amounts to about $10,000 for every household in the U.S.

At his press conference on Tuesday, President Bush made it clear that whatever the cost, American forces would not be leaving Iraq soon. When asked whether a day would come when there were no U.S. forces in Iraq, he said that decision would be made by future presidents and future governments of Iraq.

The meter's running. We're at a trillion dollars, and counting.

Wednesday, March 22

“U.S. Energy Security – A New Realism” - Speech by Senator Lugar (R-Indiana) for the Brookings Institution's 90th Anniversary Leadership Forum Series

A New Grip on 'Reality'

One of the most important laws of political debate is this: To name something is to own it. If you can name something, get that name to stick and therefore define how people think about an issue, your opponents don't stand a chance. One of the most pernicious things that Vice President Dick Cheney and Big Oil have done for years is to define "realism" when it comes to U.S. energy policy — and therefore they have owned the debate.

If you listen to them, they always offer this patronizing, pat-you-on-the-head view about alternative energy — hybrids, wind, solar, ethanol — which goes like this: "Yes, yes, those are all very cute and virtuous, but not realistic. Real men know that oil and fossil fuels are going to dominate our energy usage for a long time, so get used to it."

Well, here's what's encouraging today. There is a split emerging among conservatives on this issue. Not all conservatives are in the pocket of Big Oil. Many evangelicals, led by people like Gary Bauer, are going green — both because they believe that we need to be better stewards of God's green earth and because they don't like being dependent for energy on countries that nurse a deep hostility toward the United States.

One of the best speeches I've ever read about the necessity of breaking America's oil addiction now, and redefining "realism," was delivered by Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at the Brookings Institution on March 13. Drop what you are doing and read it at

Mr. Lugar states: "Vice President Cheney, who oversaw Bush administration energy policy, stated on April 30, 2001, ... 'Years down the road, alternative fuels may become a great deal more plentiful than they are today. But we are not yet in any position to stake our economy and our way of life on that possibility. For now, we must take the facts as they are. Whatever our hopes for developing alternative sources and for conserving energy — and that's part of our plan — the reality is that fossil fuels provide virtually 100 percent of our transportation needs and an overwhelming share of our electricity requirements. For years down the road, this will continue to be true.' "

Mr. Lugar then says: "For decades, the energy debate in this country has pitted so-called pro-oil realists against idealistic advocates of alternative energy. The pro-oil commentators have attempted to discredit alternatives by saying they make up a tiny share of energy consumed and that dependence on oil is a choice of the marketplace.

"They assert that our government can and should do little to change this. They have implied that those who have bemoaned oil dependency do not understand that every energy alternative comes with its own problems and limitations."

While acknowledging that the oil alternatives still require a huge amount of work in order to achieve the necessary scale, Mr. Lugar insists that with a big strategic push we can, and must, get there: "My message is that the balance of realism has passed from those who argue on behalf of oil and a laissez-faire energy policy that relies on market evolution, to those who recognize that in the absence of a major reorientation in the way we get our energy, life in America is going to be much more difficult in the coming decades. ... No one who is honestly assessing the decline of American leverage around the world due to our energy dependence can fail to see that energy is the albatross of U.S. national security.

"We have entered a different energy era that requires a much different response than in past decades. What is needed is an urgent national campaign led by a succession of presidents and Congresses who will ensure that American ingenuity and resources are fully committed to this problem."

Dick Cheney regularly dismisses liberals for having a "pre-9/11" mind-set, as opposed to tough guys like him, who have a "post-9/11" mind-set. Hogwash! When it comes to energy, there is no one more pre-9/11, no one more stuck in keeping America addicted to foreign oil, than Dick Cheney.

A deep pessimist, Mr. Cheney has an utterly impoverished view of what American technologists can do when asked to do the impossible and an utterly impoverished view of what the American people would do — post-9/11 — if summoned to the great national cause of energy independence.

While I would push for even tougher steps than Mr. Lugar, I draw great hope from seeing that smart conservatives like him are no longer willing to let Dick Cheney and Big Oil tell them what is "realistic" when it comes to America's energy future.

“U.S. Energy Security – A New Realism” - Speech by Senator Lugar (R-Indiana) for the Brookings Institution's 90th Anniversary Leadership Forum Series

It is a privilege to deliver the inaugural speech for the Brookings Institution's 90th Anniversary Leadership Forum series. I have had the opportunity to come here to share my thoughts on a number of national security issues over the years, and your reception has always been generous. I appreciate very much receiving the invitation to speak from my good friend, Strobe Talbott, who has been a source of sound counsel for many years and who continues to provide outstanding national and international leadership.
Last August, I represented President Bush on a diplomatic mission to North Africa. The President asked me to go to Algeria and Morocco to facilitate the release of the longest-held prisoners of war in the world – 404 Moroccan soldiers, some of whom had been held since the 1970s by the Polisario Front operating out of Algeria. American diplomats had discussed their potential release, and General Jim Jones, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, had offered to transport the POWS home
to their families in Morocco. After this humanitarian mission had been fulfilled, I had the opportunity, with the Administration’s blessing, to continue on to Libya for meetings with Libyan officials, including Muammar Qaddafi.
While staying overnight in the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, overlooking the Mediterranean, I came face to face with a microcosm of the new reality of global economic life. It was impossible to walk around the hotel without meeting someone who was hoping to tap into Libya’s oil reserves. The hotel was populated with representatives from China, India, and Western oil companies who were in Libya to stake out drilling or refining options for every pool of oil that the government might make
available. The world had come to the Corinthia Hotel to compete for the energy opportunities that were expected to develop with Libya’s hopeful return to the international mainstream.
I relate this anecdote to underscore how rapidly the world is changing due to the expansion of energy demand. These conclaves of modern day oil prospectors can be found wherever there are proven energy supplies and a government willing to bargain. Indeed, my delegation also saw evidence of this in natural gas-rich Algeria. The Chinese and Indians, with one third of the world’s people between them, know that their economic future is directly tied to finding sufficient energy
resources to sustain their rapid economic growth. They are negotiating with anyone willing to
sell them an energy lifeline.

The Shifting Balance of Realism

The gasoline price spikes following the Katrina and Rita hurricanes underscored for Americans the tenuousness of short-term energy supplies. But, as yet, there is not a full appreciation of our economic vulnerability or the competition that is already occurring throughout the world.
In a remarkable moment during the State of the Union Address, President Bush caught the attention of the nation with five words: “America is addicted to oil.” Those five words probably generated more media commentary than all the rest of his remarks from that evening combined. I had an opportunity soon after the speech to talk to the President about energy, and he admitted that he had not anticipated the impact of that statement or that some commentators would find it incongruous. I
believe he is genuine in wanting to devote more focus to pursuing alternative energy sources. But his Texas roots, his administration’s high-profile advocacy of opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, and other associations with the oil industry have created long-standing public impressions that the President is an oil-man who believes in the oil economy. Though not hostile to alternative energy sources, the Bush administration clearly downplayed their significance during the early part of his presidency. Vice President Cheney, who oversaw Bush Administration energy policy, stated on April 30, 2001, “Years down the road, alternative fuels may become a great deal more plentiful than they are today. But we are not yet in any position to stake our economy and our way of life on that possibility. For now, we must take the facts as they are. Whatever our hopes for developing alternative sources and for conserving energy - and that's part of our plan - the reality is that fossil fuels provide virtually 100 percent of our transportation needs and an overwhelming share of our electricity requirements. For years down the road, this will continue to be true.”

For decades, the energy debate in this country has pitted so-called pro-oil realists against idealistic advocates of alternative energy. The pro-oil commentators have attempted to discredit alternatives by saying they make up a tiny share of energy consumed and that dependence on oil is a choice of the marketplace. They assert that our government can and should do little to change this. They have implied that those who have bemoaned oil dependency do not understand that every energy
alternative comes with its own problems and limitations. Lee Raymond, the former CEO of Exxon offered an example of this line of reasoning in 2005: “There are many alternative forms of energy that people talk about that may be interesting. But they are not consequential on the scale that will be needed, and they may never have a significant impact on the energy balance. To the extent that people focus too much on that — for example, on solar or wind…— what they are doing is diverting attention from the real issues. And 25 years from now, even with double-digit growth rates, they will still be
less than 1 percent of the energy supplied to meet worldwide demand. I am more interested in staying focused on the 99 percent than the 1 percent.” Indeed, advocates of alternative energy must resist the rhetorical temptations to suggest that
energy problems are easily solved. They are not. Relieving our dependence on oil in any meaningful way is going to take much greater investments of time, money, and political will. There is no silver bullet solution. But the difficulty of solving the problem does not make it any less necessary. The President’s State of the Union address indicates that he understands this.
Whether or not one classifies America’s oil dependence as an addiction, the bottom line is that with less than 5 percent of the world's population, the United States consumes 25 percent of its oil. If oil prices remain at $60 a barrel through 2006, we will spend about $320 billion on oil imports this year. Most of the world’s oil is concentrated in places that are either hostile to American interests or vulnerable to political upheaval and terrorism. And demand for oil will increase far more rapidly than
we expected just a few years ago. Within 25 years, the world will need 50 percent more energy than it does now.
With these basics in mind, my message is that the balance of realism has passed from those who argue on behalf of oil and a laissez faire energy policy that relies on market evolution, to those who recognize that in the absence of a major reorientation in the way we get our energy, life in America is going to be much more difficult in the coming decades. No one who cares about U.S. foreign policy, national security, and long-term economic growth can afford to ignore what is happening in Iran, Russia, Venezuela, or in the lobby of the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli. No one who is honestly assessing the decline of American leverage around the world due to our energy dependence can fail to see that energy is the albatross of U.S. national security. We have entered a different energy era that requires a much different response than in past decades. What is needed is an urgent national campaign led by a succession of Presidents and Congresses who will ensure that American ingenuity and resources are fully committed to this problem.

We could take our time if this were merely a matter of accomplishing an industrial conversion to more cost effective technologies. Unfortunately, U.S. dependence on fossil fuels and their growing scarcity worldwide have already created conditions that are threatening our security and prosperity and undermining international stability. In the absence of revolutionary changes in energy policy, we are risking multiple disasters for our country that will constrain living standards, undermine our foreign policy goals, and leave us highly vulnerable to the machinations of rogue states. The majority of oil and natural gas in the world is not controlled by those who respect market forces. Geology and politics have created petro-superpowers that nearly monopolize the world’s oil supply. According to PFC Energy, foreign governments control up to 77 percent of the world’s oil reserves through their national oil companies. These governments set prices through their investment and production decisions, and they have wide latitude to shut off the taps for political reasons. I am not suggesting that markets won’t eventually come into play to move America away from its oil dependence. Eventually, because of scarcity, terrorist attacks, market shocks, and foreign manipulation, the high price of oil will lead to enormous investment in and political support for alternatives. Given enough time, overcoming oil dependence and imbalances is well within the scope of human, and indeed American, ingenuity. The problem is that such investment cannot happen overnight, and even if it did, it will take years or even decades to build supporting infrastructure and change behavior. In other words, by the time a sustained energy crisis fully motivates the market, we are likely to be well past the point where we can save ourselves. Our motivation will come too late and the resulting investment will come too slowly to prevent the severe economic and security
consequences of our oil dependence. This is the very essence of a problem requiring government action.

The first step is to admit how grave the problem is. Hopefully, we will look back on President Bush’s declaration that America is “addicted to oil” as a seminal moment in American history, when a U.S president said something contrary to expectations and thereby stimulated change. Like President Nixon using his anti-communist credentials to open up China or President Johnson using his Southern roots to help pave the way for the Civil Rights Act, President Bush’s standing as an oil man would lend special power to his advocacy, if he chose to initiate an all-out campaign for renewable energy sources.

Six Threats
As a national security problem, energy is unique in that the risks we face from this single condition are diverse and are intensifying simultaneously. In fact, our energy dependence creates at least six different threats that could directly or indirectly undermine American security and prosperity. Each of these threats could be the subject of its own speech, but today, I will provide an abbreviated review. First, as we have seen, oil supplies are vulnerable to natural disasters, wars, and terrorist attacks that can disrupt the lifeblood of the international economy. The entire nation felt the spike in prices caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year. But these shocks, which helped send the price of oil to $70 a barrel, were minor compared to what would occur if major oil processing facilities in Saudi Arabia were sabotaged. In late February, terrorists attempted such an attack. They penetrated the outer defenses of Saudi Arabia’s largest oil processing facility with car bombs before being repulsed. A successful terrorist attack – either through conventional ground assaults, suicide attacks
with hijacked aircraft, terrorist inspired internal sabotage, or other means – would be devastating to the world economy. Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have openly declared their intent to attack oil facilities to inflict pain on Western economies. Recently, we have also seen the shutdown of a fifth of Nigeria’s production by militants, and Iraq’s continuing struggle to expand its oil production capacity amidst terrorist attacks. The vulnerability of oil supplies is not a new concern. But the lack of spare oil production capacity is new. As recently as four years ago, spare production capacity exceeded world oil consumption by about ten percent. As world demand for oil has rapidly increased in the last few years, spare capacity has declined to less than two percent. Thus, any major disruption of oil creates scarcity that will drive prices up.
These circumstances require massive expenditures to preserve our oil lifeline. One conservative estimate puts U.S. oil-dedicated military expenditures in the Middle East at $50 billion year.

Second, over time, even if oil and natural gas supplies are not disrupted in dramatic ways that produce local or global economic shocks, worldwide reserves are nevertheless diminishing. This is occurring within the context of explosive economic growth in China, India, Brazil, and many other nations. The demand for energy from these industrializing giants is creating unprecedented competition for oil and natural gas. Americans paid 17 percent more for energy in 2005 than in the previous year. That increase accounted for 40 percent of the rise in the consumer price index. Last November, we spent more than $24 billion on oil imports, accounting for more than a third of our trade deficit. To meet world oil demand, the International Energy Agency estimates a need for $17 trillion in investment, with the bulk going to the Middle East. But political and economic conditions may not let this investment happen. Even if some investment does occur and reserves prove to be much larger than anticipated, there is no guarantee that hostile governments will either choose to develop
new capacity or make any new oil available to the United States. In the decades to come, price will not be the only issue. We will face the prospect that the world's supply of oil may not be abundant and accessible enough to support continued economic growth in both the industrialized West and in large rapidly growing economies. As we approach the point where the world's oil-hungry economies are competing for insufficient supplies of energy, oil will become an even stronger magnet for conflict and threats of military action, than it already is.

Third, the use of energy as an overt weapon by producing nations is not a theoretical threat of the future; it is happening now. Oil and natural gas are the currency through which energy-rich countries leverage their interests against import dependent nations such as ours. Iran has repeatedly threatened to cut off oil exports to selected nations if economic sanctions are imposed against it. Similarly Hugo Chavez in Venezuela has issued threats of an oil export embargo against the United States. In January, Ukrainians were confronted by a Russian threat to cut off natural gas exports in mid-winter if Ukraine did not submit to a four-fold price increase. Russia took action to deny some natural gas to Ukraine. The dispute led to sharp drops in gas supplies reaching European countries that depend on natural gas moving through Ukrainian pipelines from Russia. Russia charged that Ukraine was diverting gas intended for Austria, Italy, France, Hungary and other European nations. Eventually, the confrontation was resolved with a near doubling of the price of natural gas sold by Russia to Ukraine. In contrast, Russia did not inflict such a price increase on Belarus, considered by Moscow to be a good partner, compared to the pro-Western Ukrainian government. The episode underscored the vulnerability of consumer nations to their energy suppliers. We are used to thinking in terms of conventional warfare between nations, but energy is becoming the weapon of choice for those who possess it. It may seem to be a less lethal weapon than military forces, but a natural gas shutdown to Ukraine in the middle of winter could cause death and economic loss on the scale of a military attack. Moreover, in such circumstances, nations would become desperate, increasing the chances of armed conflict and terrorism. The use of energy as a weapon might require NATO to review what alliance obligations would be in such cases.

Fourth, even when energy is not used overtly as a weapon, energy imbalances are allowing regimes in countries that are rich in oil and natural gas to avoid democratic reforms and insulate themselves from international pressure and the aspirations of their own people. We are seeing Iran and Venezuela cultivate energy relationships with important nations that are in a position to block economic sanctions. For decades, we have watched Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states use oil wealth to create domestic conditions that prevent movement toward democracy. In Russia and Nigeria, energy assets have offered opportunities for corruption. In many oil rich nations, oil wealth has done little for the people, while ensuring less reform, less democracy, fewer free market activities, and more enrichment of elites. Beyond the internal costs to these nations, we should recognize that we are transferring hundreds of billions of dollars each year to some of the least accountable regimes in the world. Some are using this money to invest abroad in terrorism, instability, or demagogic appeals to populism. At a time when the international community is attempting to persuade Iran to live up to its non-proliferation obligations, our economic leverage on that country has declined due to its burgeoning oil revenues. If one tracks the arc of Iran’s behavior over the last decade, its suppression of dissent, its support for terrorists, and its conflict with the West have increased in
conjunction with its oil revenues, which soared by 30 percent in 2005. Sometimes observers comfort themselves with the thought that most U.S. imports come from friendly nations such as Canada and Mexico, rather than from Iran or other problematic countries. But oil is a globally priced commodity. Even if our dollars are not going directly to Iran, this does not
mean that our staggering consumption of oil is not contributing to the price paid to Iran by other consumers.

Fifth, the threat of climate change has been made worse by inefficient and unclean use of nonrenewable energy. In the long run this could bring drought, famine, disease, and mass migration, all of which could lead to conflict and instability. There are no unilateral solutions to climate change. I have urged the Bush Administration and my colleagues in Congress to return to a leadership role on the issue of climate change. I have advocated that the United States must be open to multi-lateral forums that attempt to achieve global solutions to the problem of greenhouse gases. Our scientific understanding of climate change has advanced significantly. We have better computer models, more measurements and more evidence -- from the shrinking polar caps to expanding tropical disease zones for plants and humans -- that the problem is real and is caused by
man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.

Sixth, our efforts to stem terrorist recruitment and prevent terrorist cells and training grounds in the developing world are being undercut by the high costs of energy. The economic impact of high oil prices is far more burdensome in developing countries than in the developed world. Generally, developing countries are more dependent on imported oil, their industries are more energy intensive, and they use energy less efficiently. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimates that non-OPEC developing nations spend 3.5 percent of their GDP or more on imported oil -- roughly twice the
percentage paid in the main OECD countries. World Bank research shows that a sustained oil-price increase of $10 per barrel will reduce GDP by an average of 1.47 percent in countries with a per-capita income of less than $300. Some of these countries would lose as much as 4 percent of GDP. This compares to an average loss of less than one half of one percent of GDP in OECD countries. Some nations, such as Nepal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, would experience GDP losses from a sustained $10 increase in the price of a barrel of oil that are twice the amount of foreign assistance that they receive from the United States. Even a nation like Ethiopia, which receives the substantial sum of $134 million in U.S. assistance because it is a focus country of the President’s AIDs initiative, would see almost all of this offset by a $10 oil price increase. Last week I chaired a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nomination of Randy Tobias to be the new Administrator for USAID. In this capacity he would oversee a large share of our foreign assistance budget, which now exceeds $20 billion per year. This budget is intended to meet our humanitarian goals, but its success is also directly linked to national security.But all of this effort and money, in essence, can be wiped out merely by an increase in the price of
energy. Without a diversification of energy supplies that emphasizes environmentally friendly energy sources that are abundant in most developing countries, the national incomes of energy poor nations will remain depressed, with negative consequences for stability, development, disease eradication, and terrorism.

Each of these six threats from energy dependence is becoming more acute as time passes. Any of them could be the source of catastrophe. Any realistic American foreign policy must redeploy diplomatic, military, scientific, and economic resources toward solving the energy problem. The basic dilemma for U.S. energy policy is how can our government speed up the transition to alternative renewable energy sources so that we can prevent irreparable harm to our nation or the world associated with these threats? The realist must ask: how can we shape our energy future before it shapes us in disastrous ways?

Working Toward Energy Security

American energy policy to date has suffered from two fundamental flaws. First, we have let two decades of relatively cheap oil and natural gas deepen our dependence on imports. An approach that focuses on research, while ignoring deployment of new fuels will not meet our national security challenge. The second flaw is that we have lacked a truly comprehensive energy policy with energy security as a strategic goal. American energy policy has been focused on a narrow definition of energy security that strived to ensure sufficient supplies at affordable prices. This has translated into policies promoting diversification in supplies of oil and natural gas, with little emphasis on energy alternatives. A policy that relies on a finite resource concentrated in a few countries is doomed to failure. Our long-term security and prosperity require sufficient, affordable, clean, reliable, and sustainable energy.

A first component of energy security is to ensure sufficient supplies. Our energy intensity per unit of GDP has steadily decreased, but our energy consumption is still projected to increase by more than a third over the next twenty-five years. This demand scenario is not inevitable. Public policy can do more to promote efficiency while still growing the economy. Expanded programs to enhance energy efficiency in appliances, building construction, and industry are all necessary to keep our energy intensity declining.

One third of our projected energy growth is in oil, a majority of which we have to import. I have co-sponsored a bipartisan bill with Senators Bayh and Lieberman that would require federal agencies to implement a plan to reduce U.S. oil consumption by 10 million barrels a day by 2031. The legislation contains many provisions to enhance energy conservation -- from tire efficiency to reduced school bus idling to light-weight materials research. Automakers have a central role to play in improving our oil efficiency. We are working to close the SUV CAFE standards loophole, and to get more hybrids and flex-fuel vehicles on the road. A fleet of hybrid, and future plug-in hybrids, that run on E85 could reduce our oil use by 10 million
barrels a day. The bill I have co-sponsored removes the cap on the number of tax rebates for hybrid vehicles. It also fosters demand by requiring that 30 percent of the government auto fleet be hybrids and advanced diesels. With increased demand for fuel efficient cars, new manufacturing facilities will be built that provide jobs for Americans. In partnership with the American auto industry, we should provide a set of incentives that give them the opportunity to regain their strength and save jobs through innovation. This bill offers a 35 percent tax credit for automakers to retool their factories so that they can make fuel efficient, advanced technology vehicles.

Affordability of energy supplies also remains a key goal for energy security. Crude oil still hovers around $60 a barrel, and last October’s price for natural gas was more than double what it had been in the previous year. These high energy prices increase inflation and inhibit future economic growth. Elevated oil and natural gas prices do have the benefit of making alternative fuels more competitive. With the end of twenty years of low oil and gas prices, investment in alternative fuels
has surged. As more is invested, innovation in technology and production will drive prices down further. That is why it is so important to get the first cellulosic ethanol facilities up and running. The President said in his State of the Union address that he wanted to make cellulosic ethanol “practical and competitive within six years.” In fact, one plant is ready to be built in Idaho, and many others could be built within the six-year time frame. I have asked the President to make sure that the loan guarantees that Congress authorized for cellulosic ethanol production are in place by this summer.

As alternative fuels become more competitive, oil and gas producers have strong incentive to drop prices to kill the competition. Investors need to know that alternative energy initiatives will continue to be competitive. A revenue-neutral $35 per barrel price floor on oil would provide the security investors need. At this price, alternative fuels like cellulosic ethanol,
shale and tar sands oil, and Fischer-Tropsch diesel could still compete with regular gasoline. Many analysts say that expensive oil is here to stay, but most energy investors are hesitant to take on that risk. A modest price floor for oil that we may never reach would provide a major stimulation for energy alternatives. Long-term energy security also requires the use of clean energy, a third component of energy security. As long as we continue to consume fuels that do not burn cleanly or cannot have their damaging gases sequestered, we will continue to pay environmental costs and will remain vulnerable
to a climate change induced disaster. The Congress must pass legislation establishing a cap and trade mechanism. A cap and trade system would provide regulatory certainty, reward innovation to improve energy efficiency, and provide strong market incentives for clean renewable fuels. Any such system should give credit for carbon sequestration in coal-fired plants and allow farmers and foresters to sell credits for the carbon they sequester.

I have introduced a resolution that calls for America to lead other nations to new agreements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Thanks to new technology, we can control many greenhouse gases with proactive, pro-growth solutions, not just draconian limitations on economic activity. Industry and government alike recognize that progress on climate change can go hand in hand with progress on energy security, air pollution, and technology development. Even as we strive to reduce the prevalence of fossil fuel in our energy portfolio, pragmatism
requires that we diversify to the greatest extent possible our sources of oil and natural gas. I have supported opening ANWR for exploration. While we continue to debate production there and on the outer continental shelf, we have to carefully consider both the security and economic benefits of more exploration, as well as the environmental costs.

We must also ensure that we are not wasting fossil fuel resources in end-use that could be fueled by other means. I am encouraged by DuPont’s commitment to replacing petrochemicals with bio alternatives. This wise business choice leaves DuPont less vulnerable to price spikes than competitors who still rely exclusively on oil and gas. With natural gas prices high, there is now a shift to coal-fired electrical generation. New plants should favor coal, which we have in abundance, over natural gas. I continue to vigorously support the deployment of clean coal technology with carbon sequestration.
We can also use coal to reduce our oil dependence. The Energy Bill included legislation I coauthored with Senator Obama authorizing $85 million for federal research into the production of coal-based transportation fuels. One of the technologies that will be encouraged by this program, the Fischer-Tropsch process, yields a diesel fuel that is compatible with existing vehicle technology. It is superior to oil-derived fuel with respect to performance and emissions. Another critical component of reliability is protection of the physical infrastructure and transit of our energy supplies. Terrorists have made clear their intentions to destroy refineries and pipelines worldwide. At home, in addition to power plants, ports, refineries, and platforms, we have 160,000 miles of oil pipelines. As the United States considers liquefied natural gas and nuclear facilities, we must be vigilant to the security implications.

While diversity in supplies at home and abroad is necessary for more reliable energy in the coming decades, diversification of sources for oil and gas is an outdated strategy that will never bring energy security. Reserves are too concentrated and infrastructure too vulnerable. Real diversity can only be achieved by an energy portfolio dominated by sustainable energy, the final component of energy security. As we make policies to influence the composition of our future energy portfolio, we should strive to consume fewer hydrocarbons than we can produce domestically. This means more clean coal and renewable fuels of all types. I am encouraged that some states and municipalities are taking the initiative to increase their use of renewables. With Congressman Pete Visclosky, I am advocating a bill that will do that for Indiana. Our policies should be targeted to replace hydrocarbons with carbohydrates. Obviously this is not a short-term proposition, but we can off-set a significant portion of demand for oil by giving American consumers a real choice of automotive fuel. We must end oil's near monopoly on the transportation sector, which accounts for 60 percent of American oil consumption. I believe that biofuels, combined with hybrid and other technologies, can begin to move us away from our extreme dependence on oil in the next decade. Corn-based ethanol is already providing many Midwesterners with a lower-cost fuel option. Most of this is in a 10 percent ethanol mix, which is fully compatible with nearly all vehicles. I have recently called for my home state of Indiana to
mandate that all gas stations in the state offer a 10 percent blend. Cellulosic ethanol, which is made of more abundant and less expensive biomass, is poised for commercial take-off. I am pleased the President now supports the ethanol research that began under my legislation in 2000. I have long championed a renewable fuels standard, and we finally passed a 7.5 billion gallon ethanol mandate in the 2005 energy bill. The bill I am co-sponsoring with Senators Bayh and Lieberman will increase the proportion of ethanol from cellulose that will be in that mix.

As our domestic ethanol industry strengthens and demand grows, we will have to revisit the tariff we put on ethanol imports. We do not want to trade oil import dependency for biofuel import dependency, but trade in alternative energy also creates jobs, provides new markets for our advance technology, and diversifies our own supply. In the end, I believe the United States is well positioned to produce ethanol at competitive rates. We have to make sure that consumers have access to E85 ethanol. Already there are millions of E85 capable vehicles on the road. I have introduced legislation that would require manufacturers to install flexible-fuel technology in all new cars in the next ten years. This is an easy and cheap modification, which allows vehicles to run on a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, and will make their products more attractive to consumers. Next we have to make sure that consumers can buy the E85 fuel. I’m pleased that many independent gas station owners are taking advantage of the tax credit for E85 pump installation that we passed in the energy bill. I have co-sponsored legislation that would back loans for even more E85 pumps. The next challenge is to get E85 distributed through the big gas station chains. I’ve asked the oil majors about this, and they have said that sufficient demand for E85 does not exist. But demand will not develop for something that consumers do not have an option to buy. It is time for the oil
companies to make E85 available to the consumer. If these companies do not take advantage of the incentives Congress has provided, I would be in favor of legislation mandating that they install E85 pumps in appropriate markets. There is still more work to be done to tilt our energy balance toward alternative fuels. That is why Senator Obama and I will soon introduce a new bill that will promote other means to move these fuels into additional markets and make them more widely available for consumers.

Among many provisions, the Obama-Lugar bill would create an alternative diesel standard comparable to the renewable fuels standard that I helped put into the 2005 energy bill. It would also provide new incentives for the production of flexible fuel vehicles. We believe that U.S. national security will be served by more robust coordination of all the elements that contribute
to energy security. Consequently, the bill also would establish the post of Director of Energy Security, who would answer to the President.

Energy Partnerships

As we pursue energy security at home, we must seek energy partnerships abroad. This week, I will introduce framework legislation that calls for a realignment of our diplomatic priorities to meet energy security challenges. Partnerships with foreign governments can help speed our conversion to real energy security, rebalance power in geopolitics, and open new markets for fuel technologies. The “Energy Diplomacy and Security Act” calls upon the Federal Government to expand
international cooperation on energy issues. This bill will enhance international preparedness for major disruptions in oil supplies. A particular priority is to offer a formal coordination agreement with China and India as they develop strategic petroleum reserves. This will help draw them into the international system, providing supply reassurance, and thereby reducing potential for conflict.

The bill would also stimulate regional partnerships in the Western Hemisphere. Most of our oil and virtually all of our gas imports come from this Hemisphere. The bill creates a Western Hemisphere Energy Forum modeled on the APEC energy working group. This would provide a badly-needed mechanism for hemispheric energy cooperation and consultation.
Finally, the bill calls for international partnerships with both energy producers and consumers. In addition to seeking new avenues of cooperation, the bill is intended to give focus to existing bilateral energy dialogues, which have lacked clear objectives and political backing. We must engage major oil and natural gas producers. We should advocate more transparency, improved investment climates, and greater infrastructure security. Oil exporting states wield power
for which we must account. Not working with these states will lead to unproductive political showdowns and conflict. Even in challenging relationships such as Venezuela and Russia, we must explore how to improve our energy dialogue.
Strategic energy partnerships with other major consuming countries are crucial for our national security. Energy security is a priority we hold in common with other import dependent countries, which constitute 85 percent of the world’s population. Strategic partnership for energy security with the world’s largest consumers will increase leverage in relation to petro-states. In November, I introduced S. 1950, a bill that specifically targets India for enhanced cooperation on alternative energy
sources, such as clean coal technology and biofuels.

To close, I would like to express my optimism for the future. Our current energy balance is the result of industrial and consumption choices of the past. Despite our import dependence today, the U.S. is in a strong position to choose a different path, a path toward real energy security. Success would free future generations of Americans from the energy dilemma that threatens to compromise our security and prosperity. It could also lead to opportunities in many new industries that could
reinvigorate our economy. These are problems that can be solved. We must act now. We must act together.

Thank you.