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HOOVER DIGEST RESEARCH AND OPINION ON PUBLIC POLICY

H OOVER DIGEST 2013 N O. 3

RESEARCH AND OPINION


O N P U B L I C P O L I C Y
2013 NO 3 SUMMER

Foreign Policy
National Security
Race
Interviews
History and Culture
Hoover Archives
2013 . NO. 3
T H E H O O V E R I N S T I T U T I O N S TA N F O R D U N I V E R S I T Y

RESEARCH AND OPINION


O N P U B L I C P O L I C Y
2013 NO.3 SUMMER

T H E H O OV E R I N S T I T U T I O N
S ta n f o r d U n i v e r s i t y

Hoover Digest

Research and Opinion on Public Policy

2013 no. 3 summer

www.hooverdigest.org

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On the Cover
A racecar streaking past the finish
line is both an iconic image of summer and a reminder of the story of
American automaking. Indianapolis
once ranked second only to Detroit
in cars produced for the growing
contingent of American drivers.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway
in this poster was a place where
early engines, suspensions, brakes,
tireseven rearview mirrorswere tested for the driving public. Even today,
car builders and innovators jostle for position on the Brickyard just as drivers
do. See story, page 196.

denise elson
jeffrey m. jones
noel s. kolak

visit the
HOOVER INSTITUTION

online at
www.hoover.org

Contents

HOOVER DIGEST 2013 NO. 3 S U M M E R

T he E conomy
9

How to Ignite Economic Growth (Its Not a Mystery)


Start with a sound budget, then challenge everything thats holding the economy back. By george p. shultz, gary s. becker,
michael j. boskin, john f. cogan, allan h. meltzer, and
john b. taylor.

15

Cloudy, with a Chance of Error


Monthly job numbers offer only the haziest economic predictions.
By edward paul lazear.

18

Skip the Short Run


We need to swear off this endless tinkering. By michael j. boskin.

23

Contrived Inequality
A lot of wealthy people deserve their success. Is it asking too much
of the government to recognize that? Maybe so. By gary s. becker.

27

We Need to Cut Spending. Heres How


The careful budget that Paul Ryan and others in the House have proposed would ease the economy into a better place. By john f. cogan
and john b. taylor.

T a x ation
32

Alternative Maximum Tax


Lets settle on a top number for everybody. By john h. cochrane.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Po l itics
36

The Missing Moderates


Plenty of moderates still existbut theyre forced to choose between a couple of political parties that rarely serve them well. By
morris p. fiorina.

50

The GOP Can Win Back Asian-Americans


An opportunity that the party of opportunity must seize. By
lanhee j. chen.

53

The Quiet Americans


A half-century-old Supreme Court ruling is costing rural voters their
voiceand control over their own destinies. By james huffman.

H ealth Care
61

Consumer ChoiceIt Works!


In the private marketplace, millions already choose just the health
insurance they want. Government-run exchange schemes, however,
will get everything all wrong. By scott w. atlas.

64

Promises, Promises
ObamaCare makes Americans certain promises. We already know
that at least four of them are false. By paul r. gregory.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

R egu lation
68

Protect Me Not
A lot of workplace protections protect workers right out of a job.
By richard a. epstein.

E ducation
74

No Bright Mind Left Behind


Research by Hoover fellow caroline m. hoxby shows how institutions of higher learning can attract the many qualified, deserving students that the admissions process now overlooks. By brooke donald.

I m m igration
79

On the Border, New Realities


Recession helped slow the river of illegal immigration. Demography
and a stronger Mexican economy may keep it from rising again. By
gary s. becker.

83

A Price on Citizenship
Clashes over immigration policy can be settled with one simple, humane reform: selling the right to citizenship. By gary s. becker and
edward paul lazear.

I ra q
87

Ten Years On
Saddam Hussein is long gone, but a peaceful, democratic Iraq remains a long way off. By fouad ajami.

91

Why We Went to War


Disappointment with how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq turned
out is no excuse for rewriting the record. By victor davis hanson.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

A fghanistan
98

A Time to Reflect, a Time to Act


In Afghanistan, an Army colonel explains what he learned during his
year at Hoover. By joseph p. mcgee.

R ussia
108

Women of the Gulag


Voices so indomitable that even Stalin failed to silence them. By
natalia reshetova.

I ndia
116

India Unchained
Whats keeping India from taking on Chinaand the world? By
timothy garton ash.

Foreign P o lic y
120

Nuclear Arms: No Time for Complacency


Nonproliferation efforts must intensify, step by careful step. By
george p. shultz, william j. perry, henry a. kissinger, and
sam nunn.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

N ationa l Security
126

Drones Sighted
The targeted-killing program gets a ray or two of sunshine. By
amy b. zegart.

131

A Proxy Air Force


Best known for precisely targeted attacks on terrorists, drones are
now being given much broader missions. By kenneth anderson.

R ace
136

Gifted Hands
With a mother who refuses to let him fail, a young black man grows
up to be a neurosurgeon. By thomas sowell.

I nterviews
140

Calming the Political Waters


Hoover fellow peter berkowitz talks about the subtle power of
constitutional conservatism. By jennifer rubin.

148

An Endless Struggle
Scholars Bernard Lewis and Norman Podhoretz ponder the
Arab spring and the chilly season to come. An interview with
peter robinson.

H istory and C ul ture


159

Margaret and Ron


The unlikely friendship that changed the world. By peter robinson.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

163

Gambling on Aggression
The cold, warlike calculations of 1914 find an echo in todays North
Korea. Tomorrow it could be China. By mark harrison.

H oover A rchives
168

The Battle of Rockefeller Center


In the Manhattan fresco he painted during the Depression,
diego rivera saw a masterpiece. His patrons, however, saw Red. By
bertrand m. patenaude.

190

On the Cover

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

T H E E CO N O M Y

How to Ignite
Economic Growth
(Its Not a Mystery)
Start with a sound budget, then challenge everything thats holding
the economy back. By George P. Shultz, Gary S. Becker, Michael J.
Boskin, John F. Cogan, Allan H. Meltzer, and John B. Taylor.

Washington has become a city of tactics, obsessed with finger pointing,


fear mongering, and political spin. These maneuversdesigned for temporary political or personal gainhave produced incoherent policies and
left the nations pressing problems unaddressed.
The country needs a long-term strategy to achieve its common goals
of personal freedom, noninflationary prosperity, broad-based economic
opportunity and mobility, and national security. With a good strategy as a
foundation, sound economic policies will follow.
A good strategy must be based on principles of the free-enterprise system
in which individuals are allowed to pursue their aspirations with governments role limited to protecting property rights, setting predictable and
transparent marketplace rules, and providing a safety net, infrastructure,
defense, and other functions if the market falls short. Many current government policies are going well beyond such limits, as shown by excessive
spending and taxes, growing debt, interventionist monetary policy, and burdensome regulations that have slowed economic growth and job creation.
The obvious place to begin applying strategic thinking is to the budgetthe primary vehicle for setting priorities. Yet, in recent years, the

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

budget process has completely broken down, replaced by disorderly management by crisis.

R e s t or i n g T he B alance
We need to go back to an old-fashioned regular budget order. The president needs to submit a budget that contains a strategic plan and brings
the budget into balance. The House and Senate then need to pass a budget resolution that sets spending in line with revenues. The congressional
committees responsible for appropriations and entitlements must then
produce legislation required to achieve the budget plan, bill by bill.
Appropriations legislation should focus on the coming fiscal year and
the next, not on ten-year, multitrillion-dollar totals that the current Congress cant control and the public cant understand. Annual appropriations
should concentrate on supporting the basic role of the federal government, leaving major support for infrastructure and education to the states.
Recent promising actions by local governments to allow more choice in
K12 education should be encouraged. The defense budget must be based
on a national-security strategy, not on across-the-board cuts, ad hoc formulas that simply target defense spending as a share of GDP, or continuing resolutions that put national security at risk.
Entitlement legislation should focus on humanely controlling the
growth of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, thereby saving them
from destruction. Currently, each of these programs is projected to grow
much faster than national income and the revenue to fund it, and their
unfunded liabilities are several times greater than the national debt.
George P. Shultz is the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution, the chairman of Hoovers Shultz-Stephenson
Task Force on Energy Policy, and a member of Hoovers Working Group on
Economic Policy. Gary S. Becker is the Rose-Marie and Jack R. Anderson
Senior Fellow at Hoover and a member of the Working Group on Economic
Policy and Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy. He is also the
University Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago.
He was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992.
Michael J. Boskin is a senior fellow at Hoover, a member of Hoovers ShultzStephenson Task Force on Energy Policy and Working Group on Economic
10

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Medicaids growing costs, as the Ravitch-Volcker task force report


recently noted, have severely impaired the ability to finance essential state
government functions. A sensible reform strategy enacted now would
therefore help the economy grow, raise living standards, improve government services, and avoid abrupt and unpredictable changes that harm
individuals and the economy.
Appropriations bills should focus on the coming fiscal year and the next,
not on ten-year totals that Congress cant control and the public cant
understand.

The key to reform is recognition that real inflation-adjusted payments


per recipient in these programs are projected to rise sharply. While life
spans are increasing and the baby-boom generation is retiring, the main
problem is this rapid growth of payments per beneficiary.
In the case of Social Security, a typical twenty-five-year-old worker
today will get a monthly benefit 50 percent higher after adjusting for inflation than the amount paid to todays typical retiree. To solve this problem,
the indexing formula originally adopted in 1977 should be modified for
future retirees so their inflation-adjusted benefits are the same as those
received by todays retirees. It is absurd to claim that slowing the growth of
benefits for those retiring in the distant future is somehow a cut.
For Medicare and Medicaid, the reform goal must be to reduce their
immense cost growth in a humane way. The explosive trends are mainly
Policy, and the T. M. Friedman Professor of Economics at Stanford University.
John F. Cogan is the Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow at Hoover and a
member of the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy, Working Group
on Health Care Policy, and Working Group on Economic Policy. Allan H.
Meltzer is a distinguished visiting fellow at Hoover and a professor of political economy at Carnegie Mellon University. John B. Taylor is the George P.
Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics at Hoover, the chairman of the Working
Group on Economic Policy and a member of the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force
on Energy Policy, and the Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics
at Stanford University.
Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

11

due to improper incentives created by poor government policies. The federal governments attempts to impose price controls on hospitals, doctors,
and other health care providers make the problem worse. Price controls
cause the supply of health care providers to shrink, as these controls have
done in every other market in which they have been imposed. The declining supply amid rising demand produces shortages and reduced access to
health care.
Its absurd to claim that slowing the growth of benefits for retirees of
the distant future amounts to a cut.

Medicare and Medicaid reforms should be part of a larger effort to


improve the private health care system. The best strategy is to allow
consumers to have more skin in the game, provide high-quality readily
accessible information, and permit competition among health plans and
insurers.
Introducing more co-payments that reflect some of the opportunity
costs of health care resources will provide the proper incentives and moderate demand. More-informed decision-making will lead to lower insurance premiums and thus more disposable income for Medicare recipients,
and higher wages for workers with employer-sponsored health plans.
Government can play an important role in making accurate information more widely available, both by funding its dissemination and by protecting health care institutions and individuals who provide it. If they are
to be wise and effective consumers of health care, people need to know
what works and what doesnt, who works best and who doesnt, and what
prices will be.
The federal government can encourage competition in a number of
ways: by making out-of-pocket health care spending tax-deductible and
thereby in line with the tax treatment of health insurance premiums; by
providing insurance subsidies through which people can shop among
alternative insurance programs; by expanding the availability of health
savings accounts; and by permitting individuals to purchase health insurance in other states. Insurance companies and health care provider groups
long ago captured state legislatures and insurance regulators, creating
12

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

anticompetitive barriers to entry and thousands of state mandates to provide insurance coverage and procedures.
The ideal strategy for Medicaid reform would allow states flexibility in
designing and administering their programs in exchange for a level of federal funding that grows in line with population plus inflation. The federal
government should take immediate steps to allow states greater discretion
to reform their programs to curtail costs and maintain coverage.

f i x i n g in c e nti v e s
Sound entitlement reform will have other beneficial effects. The work disincentives now built into our large and growing federal transfer programs
impede economic growth. These work disincentives affect all recipients:
younger workers, senior citizens, healthy workers, and those with disabilities. Social Security, for example, contains significant disincentives
for older people to work. To reduce these disincentives, the government
could introduce a paid up concept so that a person continuing to work
after his or her retirement age would not be subject to either employer or
employee payroll taxes.
If they are to be wise and effective consumers of health care, people need
to know what works.

Franklin Roosevelt rightly called welfare a subtle destroyer of the American spirit. In 2011, the latest year in which data are available, thirty-eight
million working-age households (i.e., with no member age sixty-five and
older), representing 42 percent of working-age households, received benefits
from at least one federal welfare-entitlement program. Among these thirtyeight million households, the average effective tax rate on additional earningsa rate that includes the loss of welfare benefits as earnings increase
ranges from 36 percent to over 50 percent, depending on whether the
additional income causes a family to lose Medicaid eligibility.
By discouraging work and human capital investments, these high effective tax rates on such a large segment of the American working-age population harm economic growth and reduce employment. Thus, a broad
reform strategy should include a complete overhaul of the entitlement

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

13

system, with reduced work disincentives and improved targeting on persons who are unable to help themselves.
At the end of World War II, strategic economic thinking enabled the
United States to lead the world by encouraging free enterprise and promoting a rules-based system for trade and finance. The result was an
unprecedented period of prosperity, which by the 1980s had spread across
the globe, dramatically improving living standards.
Strategic thinking today will produce policies that bolster economic
growth, employment, and American geopolitical leadership. As other
countries again emulate our economic and political system, their prosperity will be to our mutual benefit.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2013 Dow Jones & Co. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Press is Entitlement Spending: Our


Coming Fiscal Tsunami, by David Koitz. To order, call
800.935.2882 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

14

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

T H E E CO N O M Y

Cloudy, with a Chance


of Error
Monthly job numbers offer only the haziest economic predictions. By
Edward Paul Lazear.

On the first Friday of the month, when the latest employment numbers
come out amid much business-media fanfare, the numbers will be parsed
for what they tell us about the economy and where it is headed. The jobs
numbers do contain some valuable information, but they mean much less
than is often assumedbecause, as the Department of Labor cautions,
theyre estimates. They are subject to significant revision, they are volatile,
and they tell us very little about the direction of the labor market.
The jobs day information comes from two different sources of data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Household data are used to estimate
the size of the labor force and the unemployment rate, and the widely reported
job creation numbers come from data supplied by employers. It is possible,
however, to obtain job-creation numbers by analyzing the household data.
Often there is a disparity between the employer-based numbers and the
job-creation numbers that come from household data. In more than half
the months from 1996 to the present, the household and establishment jobcreation figures differed by more than 50 percent. For example, in a month
when the employer-based number is 200,000 additional jobs, it would be
typical to find the household numbers reporting only 100,000 new jobs.
Edward Paul Lazear is the Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow
at the Hoover Institution and the Jack Steele Parker Professor of Human Resources
Management and Economics at Stanford Universitys Graduate School of Business.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

15

Over longer periods, however, there is significant agreement between


the two data sources. The annual employment levels from the household
survey are very closely related to annual employment levels from the
employer-establishment survey.
It is widely accepted that the employer-based establishment data are
better for the purposes of estimating job creation than are the household
data. Unfortunately, even the establishment data are less than accurate, at
least when first announced.
The accuracy of job-creation numbers goes up considerably during more
normal times, when job growth is positive.

Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports employment and the
change in employment since the previous month. There are subsequent
revisions, one and two months after the first announcement, until the number becomes final, sometimes up to two years later. The error in any given
month tends to be very large, which means that its reliability is low.
For instance, the average number of jobs created per month during
the 19962012 period was 78,000. But in the typical month, the initial
estimate missed the final number by 73,000 in one direction or the other.
This means that the average error in the initial report is almost as large as
average job creation itself.
The quarterly numbers are somewhat better, but not by much. The
picture improves again for annual job growth, with the typical error being
about half as large as the average job change itself.
In some months, the error is enormous. For example, the initial report
released in January 2011 stated that 130,712,000 Americans were working in December 2010. Two months later, that number was revised downward to 130,260,000a difference of 452,000. When the final numbers
came in, the actual overstatement turned out to be 366,000. Thats worth
keeping in mind at a time when much excitement can be stirred up by a
monthly jobs fluctuation in the tens of thousands.
The December 2010 example is by no means the worst case. In late
2009, the difference between initial reports and revisions was well over
one million. For the entire period studied, the initial estimates of job cre16

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

ation deviated from final estimates by at least 50 percent in almost one in


every four months.
Over the very long run, the reported numbers look better. Although
there is significant error in any given month, the overstatements of job
growth in some months tend to offset understatements of job growth in
other months. The preliminary data would have yielded job growth of
about 17 million between 1996 and 2012. The actual job growth was 16
million, an error of about 6.5 percent.
Accuracy goes up considerably during more normal times when job
growth is positive (about two-thirds of the time). Then, the average error is
only about one-third as large as the average number of jobs created during
this period. This still implies that true job growth is missed by 68,000 in
one direction or the other during the typical positive-job-growth month.
Trying to deduce anything about the direction of the jobs market by
referring to such wobbly numbers is essentially guesswork. Indeed, in any
given month, about 70 percent of what happens to job growth in the
following year has nothing to do with changes that occurred in that particular month. In almost one-fourth of cases, the job growth in any given
month does not even move in the same direction as the job change in the
twelve months that follow. Using even the entire previous quarters job
growth provides no better signal of where the labor market is headed.
Employment numbers have value, especially when considered over
long periods, such as a full year. Jobs day chatter is irresistible but almost
without content. Monthly jobs numbers are imperfect portraits of the
recent past and very poor predictors of the labor markets future.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2013 Dow Jones & Co. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Press is Bankruptcy, Not Bailout: A


Special Chapter 14, edited by Kenneth E. Scott and John
B. Taylor. To order, call 800.935.2882 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

17

T HE EC ONOM Y

Skip the Short Run


We need to swear off this endless tinkering. By Michael J. Boskin.

President Obamas most recent prescription for economic growthmore


government stimulus spending, new social programs, higher taxes on
upper-income earners, subsidies for some industries and increased regulation for all of themis likely to have the same anemic results as in his first
administration.
Recall that the $825 billion stimulus program did little economic good,
at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars per job, even based on the
administrations own inflated job estimates. Cash for Clunkers cost $3
billion merely to shift car sales forward a few months. The Public-Private
Investment Program for Legacy Assets (PPIP) to buy toxic assets from the
banks to speed lending generated just 3 percent of the $1 trillion that the
program planners anticipated.
And now? Obama proposes universal preschool ($25 billion per year),
Fix It First repairs to roads and bridges, plus an infrastructure bank ($50
billion), Project Rebuild, refurbishing private properties in cities ($15
billion), endless green-energy subsidies, and a big hike in the minimum
wage. The president and Senate Democrats also demand that half the
spending cuts under sequestration be replaced with higher taxes.
These proposals are ill-considered. The evidence sadly suggests that the
initial improvement in childrens cognitive skills from Head Start quickly
Michael J. Boskin is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a member of
Hoovers Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy and Working Group on
Economic Policy, and the T. M. Friedman Professor of Economics at Stanford
University.

18

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

evaporates. Higher minimum wages increase unemployment among lowskilled workers. A dozen recent studies in peer-reviewed journals, including one by the presidents former chief economic adviser, Christina Romer,
document the negative effects of higher taxes on the economy.
As for adventures in industrial policy, former Obama economic adviser
Larry Summers wrote a memo in 2009 about the impending $527 million
loan guarantee to Solyndra and other recipients of government largess.
The government is a crappy v.c. [venture capitalist], he wrote. In 2010,
Harvard economist Edward Glaeser concluded in the New York Times that
infrastructure is poor stimulus because it is impossible to spend quickly
and wisely. Federal infrastructure spending should be dealt with in regular appropriations.
Will more spending today stimulate the economy? Standard Keynesian
models that claim a quick boost from higher government spending show
the effect quickly turns negative. So the spending needs to be repeated
over and over, like a drug, to keep this hypothetical positive effect going.
Japan tried that to little effect, starting in the 1990s. It now has the highest
debt-to-GDP ratio among the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)and that debt is a prime
cause, as well as effect, of Japans enduring stagnation.
Models that claim a quick boost from government spending show the
effect quickly turns negative. So the spending needs to be repeated over
and over, like a drug.

The United States is heading in this wrong direction. Even if the $110
billion in annual sequestration cuts were allowed to stand, the Congressional Budget Office projects that annual federal spending will increase
by $2.4 trillion to $5.9 trillion in a decade. The higher debt implied by
this spending will eventually crowd out investment, as holdings of government debt replace capital in private portfolios. Lower tangible capital
formation means lower real wages in the future.
Since World War II, OECD countries that stabilized their budgets
without recession averaged $5 to $6 of actual spending cuts per dollar of

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

19

20

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Illustration by Taylor Jones for the Hoover Digest.

tax increases. Examples include the Netherlands in the mid-1990s and


Sweden in the mid-2000s. In a paper last year for the Stanford Institute
for Economic Policy Research, Hoover senior fellows John Cogan and
John Taylor, along with Volker Wieland and Maik Wolters of Frankfurts
Goethe University, show that a reduction in federal spending over several
years amounting to 3 percent of GDPbringing noninterest spending
down to pre-financial-crisis levelswill increase short-term GDP.
Why? Because expectations of lower future taxes and debt, and therefore higher incomes, increase private spending. The United States reduced
spending as a share of GDP by 5 percent from the mid-1980s to the mid1990s. Canada reduced its spending as share of GDP by 8 percent in the
mid-1990s and 2000s. In both cases, the reductions reinforced a period
of strong growth.

An economically balanced deficit-reduction program today would


mean $5 of actual, not hypothetical, spending cuts per dollar of tax
increases. The fiscal-cliff deal reached on January 1 instead was scored at
$1 of spending cuts for every $40 of tax hikes.
Keynesian economists urge a delay on spending cuts on the grounds
that they will hurt the struggling economy. Yet at just one-quarter of 1
percent of GDP this year, $43 billion of this years sequester cuts in an
economy with a GDP of more than $16 trillion is unlikely to be a major
macroeconomic event.
Continued delay now leaves a long boom as the only time to control
spending. There was some success in doing this in the mid-1990s under

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

21

President Clinton and a Republican Congress. More commonly the opposite occurs: a boom brings a surge in tax revenues and politicians are eager
to spread the spending far and wide.
Infrastructure is poor stimulus because it is impossible to spend quickly
and wisely.

In any case, the demand by Obama and Senate Democrats that any
dollar of spending cuts in budget agreements (to fund the government for
the rest of the fiscal year and when the debt limit again approaches) be
matched by an additional dollar of tax hikes is economically unbalanced
in the extreme. Those who are attempting to gradually slow the growth of
federal spending while minimizing tax hikes have sound economics on
their side.
This essay is based on the authors testimony before the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2013 Dow Jones & Co. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Press is Pension Wise:


Confronting Employer Pension UnderfundingAnd Sparing
Taxpayers the Next Bailout, by Charles Blahous. To order,
call 800.935.2882 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

22

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

T H E E CO N O M Y

Contrived Inequality
A lot of wealthy people deserve their success. Is it asking too much
of the government to recognize that? Maybe so. By Gary S. Becker.

The media and many intellectuals criticize the widening inequality in


countries as different as the United States, China, and Brazil. Yet people
everywhere generally accept, and usually admire, differences in incomes
and wealth that they believe result from abilities and hard work, and where
the work done by the wealthy is considered socially valuable. For example,
the great wealth of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates is little criticized because of
their brilliant accomplishments that added a lot to social value. On the
other hand, people object when high incomes and wealth are considered
undeserved. The distinction between deserved and undeserved wealth is
crucial to acceptance of or hostility to inequality.
Government policies that favor some people and discriminate against
others are the biggest source of contrived inequality. For example, much
of the wealth of Russian oligarchs came from government favors when
Russia privatized industries after the collapse of communism. Later
the government consolidated ownership in natural resources and other
industries, adding to the favoritism. Similar government help propelled
the Mexican telecommunications giant Carlos Slim to become the
wealthiest person in the world.
Gary S. Becker is the Rose-Marie and Jack R. Anderson Senior Fellow at the
Hoover Institution and a member of Hoovers Working Group on Economic
Policy and Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy. He is also the University Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago. He was
awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

23

Until fairly recently, all countries simply handed telephone services, radio and television channels, and mineral and energy rights to
politically powerful companies. Economists pointed out that this was
granting enormous wealth to these companies without getting much
in return. Their writings and other pressures finally forced the United
States and many other countries (but not all) to auction off such valuable, scarce property. Protected industries also benefit from tariffs on
goods like sugar and ethanol, and subsidies to oil and other industries.
These artificially raise the incomes of capital and workers employed in
those industries.
The labor market offers other examples. Chinas sharp restrictions on
rural migrants obtaining residency in cities has contributed greatly to
Chinas rapid growth in inequality during the past two decades. Minimum-wage laws raise the incomes of low-skilled workers who can find
jobs but lower the incomes of equally productive workers who are priced
out of a job.
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates get a pass: though immensely wealthy, theyre
brilliant and their work has added a lot to social value.

I could give many other examples of government creation of undeserved


inequality, but governments are not the only source of such disparities.
Unions raise the wages of workers in unionized sectors while lowering the
wages of equally productive workers who are forced out of these sectors
and into lower-paying jobs elsewhere. At the same time, unions artificially
reduce inequality by suppressing the earnings of more-productive union
members, so that the net effect of unions on inequality is not clear. One
blatant example of unions suppressing earnings of more-productive members is the union opposition to merit pay for good teachers, even though
good teachers have large positive effects on their students.
Private monopolies and cartels tend to raise the wealth of businessmen
and workers who gain from higher prices created by monopolies. The
burden of these higher prices is borne by consumers, other businesses, and
the workers who must exit monopolized industries because of the cuts in
output that create the higher prices.
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Differences in education and other human capital are the cause of


much of the earnings inequality within rich countries such as the United
States and Japan. Higher education over the past thirty years has widened earnings inequality greatly, sharply increasing the earnings of college graduates and those with even higher skills. Most people do not
object to higher incomes for skilled workers, but they do object that
many young men and women with the talent to benefit from higher
education are prevented from doing so. These students families and
schools fail to prepare them for college or they lack the family resources
to pay for a college education.
Along with everything else, higher education also widens earnings
inequality.

The effects on children of broken families and uninterested parents are


considerable, yet much more can still be done to remedy the inequalities in college opportunity. Schools attended by poorer children can be
improved by increasing competition among schools, by paying very good
teachers much more than average teachers, and by getting rid of the bad
and indifferent teachers. Student loans might be made more effective
by making the amount to be repaid contingentup to a pointon the
incomes of those repaying the loans. This would reduce the loan burden
on those who turn out to earn relatively little.
The huge earnings and great wealth accumulation of some members
of the financial sector are often viewed with suspicion because the earnings are considered more due to luck than abilities. This suspicion is not
universal; the billionaire Warren Buffett, the second-wealthiest person in
America, is much admired even though he made his enormous fortune
from investments in companies. The vast wealth of some hedge-fund
managers, on the other hand, is often criticized. Usually overlooked is the
role of these funds and other investors in arbitraging prices and returns
in different sectors. Hostility to high earnings in the financial sector has
greatly increased during the past few years because of the role banks and
other financial institutions played (along with governments and other culprits) in the financial crisis that so damaged the world economy.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

25

Since Rousseau, many intellectuals have been opposed to inequality per


se. Most people, however, distinguish deserving from undeserving inequality. Clearly, much of the income and wealth inequality in any country
would be considered deserving because it results from greater abilities and
dedication. Governments are expected to reduce obstacles to deserving
wealth. Unfortunately, they create many of the undeserved sources of
inequality themselves.
Reprinted from the Becker-Posner Blog (www.becker-posner-blog.com).

Available from the Hoover Press is The Taylor Rule and


the Transformation of Monetary Policy, edited by Evan F.
Koenig, Robert Leeson, and George A. Kahn. To order,
call 800.935.2882 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

26

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

T H E E CO N O M Y

We Need to Cut
Spending. Heres How
The careful budget that Paul Ryan and others in the House have
proposed would ease the economy into a better place. By John F.
Cogan and John B. Taylor.

In March the House of Representatives approved its Budget Committee


plan, which would bring federal finances into balance by 2023. The plan
would do so by gradually slowing the growth in federal spending without
raising taxes. Still, the plan was denounced by naysayers who asserted that
it would harm the economic recovery and that any spending reductions
should be put off until later. This thinking is just as wrong now as it was
in the 1970s.
According to our research, the spending restraint and balanced-budget
parts of the House Budget Committee plan would boost the economy
immediately. With the Budget Committees proposed tax reform included, the immediate impact would be even larger. The entire plan would
raise gross domestic product by 1 percentage point in 2014, equivalent
John F. Cogan is the Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow at the Hoover
Institution and a member of Hoovers Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy, Working Group on Health Care Policy, and Working Group on
Economic Policy. John B. Taylor is the George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in
Economics at the Hoover Institution, the chairman of Hoovers Working Group
on Economic Policy and a member of Hoovers Shultz-Stephenson Task Force
on Energy Policy, and the Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics
at Stanford University.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

27

to about a $1,500 increase for each U.S. household. Ten years from now,
at the end of the official budget horizon, we estimate that the entire plan
would raise GDP by 3 percentage points, or more than $4,000 for each
U.S. household.
Our assessment is based on a modern macroeconomic model (developed with Volker Wieland of the University of Frankfurt and Maik
Wolters of the University of Kiel) whose features include the recognition that the resources to finance government expenditures arent
freethey withdraw resources from the private economy. The model
provides for other essential attributes of the economythat consumers, businesses, and workers respond to incentives, and they are influenced by their expectation of future economic conditions when making decisions today. None of these features is provided for in old-style
Keynesian models.
The budget plan would raise gross domestic product by 1 percentage

The House budget plan would keep total federal outlays at their
current level for two years. Thereafter, spending would rise each year,
but more slowly than if present policies continue. By 2023, federal
expenditures would decline to 19.1 percent of GDP from 22.2 percent
today.
Since the Congressional Budget Office projects that revenues will
equal 19.1 percent of GDP in 2023, the House plan would balance the
budget that year. Also by 2023, the publicly held federal debt relative
to GDP would decline to 55 percent from its current high level of 76
percent.
The House budget is hardly austere: the federal spending claim on
GDP would still be considerably higher than it was in fiscal 2000 (18.2
percent) and only slightly below its claim on GDP in 2007 (19.7 percent).
The reductions in the growth rate of spending would be achieved primarily through entitlement reforms. The Affordable Care Act would be
repealed. Medicaid and food-stamp administration would be turned over
to the states. Medicare would be fundamentally reformed. Anti-fraud mea28

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Illustration by Taylor Jones for the Hoover Digest.

point in 2014, equivalent to a $1,500 increase for each U.S. household.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

29

sures would be applied to federal disability programs. Among the major


entitlement programs, only Social Security would remain unchanged; this
is a deficiency in the plan. As for discretionary spending, the House budget plan would provide for only slight reductions from the levels that are
set by the budget sequester.
The long-run economic gains from restraining government spending
would not, despite what critics claim, harm the economy in the short run.
Instead, the economy would start to grow right away. Why?
First, the lower level of future government spending avoids the
necessity of sharply raising taxes. The expectation that tax rates wont
need to rise provides incentives for higher investment and employment today.
Second, since the expectation of lower future taxes has the effect of
raising peoples estimation of future disposable income, consumption
increases today. This change comes thanks to Milton Friedmans famous
permanent income hypothesis that the behavior of consumers reflects
what they expect to earn over a long period. According to our macroeconomic model, the higher level of consumption induced by the House
budgets effect on consumer expectations is large enough to offset the
reduced growth of government spending.
Third, the new budgets reduction in the growth of government spending is gradual. That allows private businesses to adjust efficiently without
disruptions.
The expectation that tax rates will stay put provides incentives for higher
investment and employment today.

Our macroeconomic model probably underestimates the positive


impact of the House budget plan. The model doesnt account for the
greater economic certainty that results from preventing the national debt
from soaring to dangerously high levels and from stabilizing the federal
tax burden. Nor does the model account for beneficial changes in monetary policy that could accompany enactment of the budget plan. Lower
deficits and national debt would reduce pressure on the Federal Reserve to
continue buying long-term Treasury bonds.
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

The U.S. economy has been experiencing its slowest recovery from a
deep recession in modern history. Tragically, fewer people are working
as a percentage of the working-age population than when the recovery
beganand economic growth was only 1.6 percent last year. The large
federal budget deficitsby increasing uncertainty and delaying private
spendingare an important cause of this lackluster economic performance.
For too long, policy makers have been misguided by models that lend
support to bigger government or to the politically convenient objective of
delaying any reduction in spending. It is better to recognize the flaws in
this approach and get on with the sensible budget reforms the country so
sorely needs.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2013 Dow Jones & Co. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Press is Government Policies


and the Delayed Economic Recovery, edited by Lee E.
Ohanian, John B. Taylor, and Ian J. Wright. To order, call
800.935.2882 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

31

T AXAT ION

Alternative
Maximum Tax
Lets settle on a top number for everybody. By John H. Cochrane.

They keep coming back, like the villains in a good zombie movie, chanting more taxes, more taxes. Long ago, Congress passed the alternative
minimum tax, or AMTa simple flat rate to ensure that in an insanely
complex tax code, no one escapes paying something. Now we need an
alternative maximum tax as a simple, rough-and-ready way to limit the tax
zombies economic damage. Call it the AMaxT.
Lets start a national conversation: how much is the most anyone should
have to pay? When do taxes indisputably start to harm the economy and
produce less revenuewhen government takes 50 percent of peoples
income? 60 percent? 70 percent?
I like half, but the principle matters more than the number. Once the
country settles on a number, each of us gets to add up everything we pay
to government at every level: federal income taxes, yes, but also payroll
(Social Security, Medicare, etc.) taxes; state, city, and county taxes; estate
taxes; property taxes; sales taxes; payroll taxes and unemployment insurance for nannies, household workers, or other employees; excise taxes;
real-estate transfer taxes; and so on and on, right down to your vehicle
stickers and those annoying extra taxes on your airline tickets.

John H. Cochrane is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the AQR
Capital Management Distinguished Service Professor ofFinance at the University
of Chicagos Booth School of Business.

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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

On April 15, once this total hits the alternative maximum tax, youve
done your bit and federal income taxes can take no more.
The zombies howl that the top federal tax bracket is still only 40
percent. Surely the rich can contribute a bit more? They forget that the
economic damage of taxes comes from the total tax bite, not just the federal income tax.
When do taxes indisputably start to harm the economy and produce less
revenuewhen government takes 50% of peoples income? 60%? 70%?

Marginal taxes are a purer measure of economic damage. If you


earn one more dollar, how much do you get to keep? Marginal rates
are higher than average rates in a progressive system: if the government takes 100 percent of income above $100,000, then somebody
earning $150,000 pays a 33 percent average tax rate but has no incentive to work at all after he reaches $100,000. Ideally, we would limit
marginal rates, but this is not practical in a simple backstop like the
AMaxT.
American governments also like to hide taxing and spending by passing
mandates and regulations, forcing people and businesses to spend on their
behalf. Ideally, we would limit this economic damage as well, but this is
also not practical in an alternative maximum tax.
However, both considerations mean that the true economic damage
will be higher than the AMaxT rate, so we should leave some headroom
in setting that rate.
Every cent of corporate taxes comes out of some persons pocket, in
higher prices, lower wages, or lower returns to investors. For example,
even the tax zombies dont dream that we stick it to the big oil companies by charging gas taxes. To limit this damage, every single cent of tax
that government assesses, at all levels, should be assigned to somebody
and count against that persons alternative maximum tax. It is easiest to
assign all corporate taxes to shareholders. When corporations send you the
annual 1099 dividend form, they also report all taxes paid by your shares,
which count against your AMaxT. Some taxes could similarly be assigned
to workers and reported on W-2 forms.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

33

Yes, there are details to work out. People get big tax bills in some years,
such as when they pay estate taxes. Incomes fluctuate. Smart tax lawyers
could game the system.
This isnt hard to fix. For example, we could use an average of several
years income or, better yet, scale the AMaxT limit to consumption rather
than income.
Liberals might object to a maximum tax. In setting the maximum level
of taxation, shouldnt we consider the nice roads, free schooling, police,
national defense, thoughtful regulation, and other benefits and services?
This is a valid consideration if one argues about whats fair. But I
propose the AMaxT entirely to limit the economic damage of taxation, a
goal you must consider even if you think its fair to take every cent of a
rich persons income.
To limit economic damage, benefits are irrelevant. Suppose that the
government levies a 100 percent income tax, but it is so good at providing
services that each of us gets back twice the value of what we put in. Good
deal? Yes. Functioning economy? No. Each person gets services whether
they do or dont pay taxes. But with a 100 percent income tax, nobody
works, nobody pays any taxes, and nobody actually gets any services.
How many people are really being taxed at outrageous rates? I dont
know. The U.S. tax system is so complex, with so many layers of taxing
authority, that nobody really knows. Still, an alternative maximum tax is
a win-win bet.
The disincentive effects of heavy taxation settle in gradually.

If there really are few people who pay an extraordinarily high percentage of their income, then liberals shouldnt object. They wont lose any
revenue and will enjoy snickering I told you so. If it turns out that there
are lots of people being so taxed, then we will sharply reduce the unintended, multiplicative effect of taxation, and we will measure that fact. A
canary in the coal mine is as valuable chirping as choking.
The disincentive effects of heavy taxation settle in gradually. For the
first year or two, all people can do is hire smarter lawyers and work a little
less hard. It takes years for businesses to retrench, close, never get started,
34

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

or fail to expand; for people and companies to move abroad; for students
to give up investing in an expensive MBA or medical school or engineering degree; for people to stay put rather than follow lucrative opportunities; or to retire early. All this shows up slowly and gradually drags down
an economy and its tax revenues.
So the AMaxT is most important for the backstop promise it makes to
young people and entrepreneurs. Yes, start a company, go to school, work
hard, invest, hire people. We guarantee you that no matter what happens,
no matter how loud the zombies chant, no matter what clever revenue
enhancers they come up with, you will get to keep some reasonable fraction of what you earn. Go for it.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2013 Dow Jones & Co. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Press is The Flat Tax,


updated and revised edition, by Robert E. Hall and Alvin
Rabushka. To order, call 800.935.2882 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

35

P O LIT IC S

The Missing Moderates


Plenty of moderates still existbut theyre forced to choose between
a couple of political parties that rarely serve them well. By Morris P.
Fiorina.

In 2000 the Republicans won the electoral Triple Crown, capturing the
presidency (despite losing the popular vote), the House of Representatives, and the Senate (with Vice President Dick Cheney as tie-breaker)
for the first time since the election of Dwight Eisenhower forty-eight
years earlier. In 2002 they increased their congressional majorities,
an unusual feat in an off-year election, and in 2004 voters re-elected
President George W. Bush and added slightly to Republican congressional majorities. The six years of unified party control produced by
these three elections was the longest period of unified government the
United States had experienced since the Kennedy-Johnson administrations in the 1960s.
Political scientists refer to U.S. electoral history in the second half of
the twentieth century as the era of divided government. Between the
1952 and 2000 elections Republicans held the presidency for twentyeight years, but Democrats organized the Senate for thirty-six years and
Democratic majorities ran the House for forty-two years. The result was a
long period when divided party control generally prevailed. In only eight
years (195254, 197680, 199294) did one party control the presidency
and both chambers of Congress. (Divided control also characterized elections in the states during this period.)
Morris P. Fiorina is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Wendt
Family Professor of Political Science at Stanford University.

36

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

The apparent break with previous history in the early 2000s was the
stuff of Republican dreams and Democratic nightmares. Had Karl Rove
succeeded in his announced goal of creating a long-term Republican
majority? For Rove the real prize, as Nicholas Lemann wrote in the New
Yorker in 2003, would be a Republican majority that would be as solid as,
say, the Democratic coalition that Franklin Roosevelt createda majority
that would last for a generation.
Such ambition soon faded, as the presidents approval ratings plunged
in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the misbegotten nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, the Dubai ports debacle, Social Security private accounts, and the war in Iraq. In 2006, the new Republican
majority suffered a thumpin, in President Bushs words, losing thirty
seats in the House and six in the Senate, ceding control of both chambers of Congress to the Democrats. Divided government returned.
In 2008 the Republicans experienced another thumpin: Barack
Obama won a decisive victory over John McCain, and the Democrats
enlarged their congressional majorities. For a short period afterward
speculation that 2008 was a transformative election ran rampant. In
early 2009 James Carville published a book titled 40 More Years: How the
Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation. But in 2010 the Democrats suffered a shellacking, as President Obama put it, losing sixty-three seats in
the House (the largest midterm loss since 1938), six Senate seats, six state
houses, and nearly seven hundred state legislative seats. (Carvilles book,
incidentally, was discounted by 60 percent on Amazon.com.)
Clearly, generations are not what they used to be. Since that brief period of unified Republican government in the early 2000s the country has
entered a period of almost unprecedented electoral instability.
How common or unusual is this period? It turns out that the country
had seen nothing like it since the nineteenth century, when the five elections of the 188694 period produced five distinct patterns of institutional control. Had the Republicans captured the Senate in 2012, or had
control of the two chambers of Congress flipped, or had Mitt Romney
been elected with Republicans in control of either chamber, the elections
of 200612 would have tied the historical record for majority instability.
As it stands, the current period holds second place in American history.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

37

It is important to recognize that this pattern of unstable institutional


control stands in contrast to the macro-stability of the American electorate. That is, control of our institutions is not vacillating between the parties because voters are manic, dramatically changing their party preferences from one election to the next. Nor are they flighty and uncommitted,
voting on a whim now for Democrats then for Republicans. Despite some
gradual demographic shifts, the characteristics of the American electorate
have changed little in the past generation; the way the parties represent
them, on the other hand, has changed a great deal.

TH E A M ER I C A N V O TE R , TH E N AND NO W
For some sixty years political scientists have been asking Americans, Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an
independent, or what? The Democrats lost their national majority during the tumult of the 1960s, and at the same time more came to identify
as independents. But since the Reagan years, partisanship has been generally stable, with 3540 percent of the population adopting the independent label, a slightly lower proportion the Democratic label, and about
a quarter of the electorate the Republican label. Three decades of data
undermine pundits claims that the country is half Republican red and
half Democratic blue.
Voters arent manically changing their party preferences from one
election to the next.

Sociologists have been querying Americans about ideology for almost as


long, asking people to classify themselves on a scale ranging from extremely liberal to extremely conservative. There have been no dramatic shifts for
more than a generation. The liberal label traditionally carries less popular
support than the conservative one; only about a quarter of the electorate
adopts it. Moderate is usually the plurality choice, with conservative trailing by a bit. There is no indication in the data that the middle is waning
and the extremes waxing. The picture is one of stability.
Pundits often combine conservatives and moderates and pronounce
the United States to be a center-right nation. Its probably an accurate
38

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

characterization relative to other advanced democracies, but there are two


problems with this interpretation.
First, there is no logical reason why moderates should always coalesce
with conservatives to form a three-fourths majority. If conservatives move
far enough to the right, moderates could find themselves closer to liberals
and coalesce with them to form a two-thirds center-left majority.
Second, as an empirical matter, ordinary Americans do not use these
abstract terms in the same way partisan intellectuals do. Self-classified liberals tend to have liberal views on specific policy issues, but self-classified conservatives are much more heterogeneous; many, even majorities,
express liberal views on specific issues, such as abortion rights, gun control, and drug-law reform.
Perhaps, then, voters have changed on a few touchstone issues that
make all the difference for todays elections. Here the data are more fragmentaryspecific-issues questions come and go on surveys. But the Pew
Research Center has conducted surveys on forty-two attitude, value, and
policy subjects since the late Reagan years. Its 2012 report concludes:
The way that the public thinks about poverty, opportunity, business,
unions, religion, civic duty, foreign affairs, and many other subjects is,
to a large extent, the same today as in 1987. The values that unified
Americans twenty-five years ago remain areas of consensus today, while
the values that evenly divide the nation remain split. On most of the
questions asked in both 1987 and 2012, the number agreeing is within 5
percentage points of the number who agreed twenty-five years ago. And
on almost none has the basic balance of opinion tipped from agree to
disagree or vice versa.

In sum, an examination of popular attitudes toward particular subjects


yields the same conclusion as an examination of partisanship and general
ideology. In the aggregate the American electorate has changed little in the
past generation.
Political independents and ideological moderates in the American electorate have not declined in numbers, let alone disappeared. Indeed, their
numbers continue to exceed those of partisans and ideologues on either
side. How then, do we explain the indisputable fact that politics in Wash-

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

39

40

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Illustration by Taylor Jones for the Hoover Digest.

ington and in many state capitols is more bitter, contentious, and polarized than a generation ago?
A large part of the answer is that those most active in politicsthe
political class, including convention delegates, donors, and campaign activistshave indeed become more polarized since the 1970s. And the partisan
media and many of the myriad groups devoted to a single cause did not even
exist a generation ago. As a general observation, the higher up the scale of
political activity one goes, the more common extreme views become and the
more intensely they are held; there are few raging moderates or knee-jerk
independents at the higher levels of politics. Although relatively few, those

in the political class structure politics. Ordinary voters can only react to the
alternatives they are offered, and often they must choose between two polarized alternatives even if they prefer a more moderate choice. Or, of course,
they can choose simply not to vote. The much-discussed decline in electoral
turnout between 1960 and 1996 was concentrated among independents
and moderates. Strong partisans did not drop off, suggesting they found the
choices more palatable than did those in the middle.
A second major explanation for todays polarization lies at the root of
a great deal of mistaken commentary about American politics: while the
middle of the American electorate remains as large as ever, it no longer has
a home in either party. As we have seen, the distributions of partisanship
and ideology have not changed shape for a generation, but the relationship between the distributions has changed since the 1980s.
Political scientists refer to this development as a process of party sorting. To
explain, consider a hypothetical electorate in which Democrats are a left-of-center party

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

41

with a right wing, while Republicans are a right-of-center party with a left
wing. Assume that over time demographic changes and electoral strategies
move the parties toward their respective poles. The numbers of Democrats,
independents, and Republicans have not changed. Nor have the numbers of
liberals, moderates, and conservatives. But the parties have sorted: liberals
and conservatives are increasingly aligned with the correct party.
Something like this has also happened in the American electorate. Since
the mid-twentieth century, demographic changes such as the migration of
African-Americans to the north, the rise of the Sunbelt, and immigration,
coupled with electoral strategies described in books with titles like The Emerging Republican (Democratic) Majority, have produced political parties that are
more homogeneous than they were a generation ago. And the most active and
involved members come from the most extreme reaches of each party.
In consequence, the dynamics of American politics are increasingly driven
by small and highly unrepresentative slices of the population. Consider the
Republican presidential primary contest in 2012. On February 7 the media
declared Rick Santorum a legitimate contender for the nomination on the
basis of three victories: the Minnesota caucuses, in which one of every one
hundred eligible voters participated, the Colorado caucus, in which two of
every one hundred eligible participated, and the Missouri beauty contest
primary in which seven of every one hundred eligible participated.
American voters have changed little in the past generation. But the way
the parties represent them has changed a great deal.

Of course, primary electorates have always been small and unrepresentative, but primaries were not as common a generation ago, and the
participants were unrepresentative in different waysthe Democratic primary electorate in Massachusetts was very different from that in Mississippi. Today primary electorates are more homogeneous across the country. Democrats appeal to public employees, environmentalists, and liberal
cause groups, while Republicans rely on business and taxpayer groups
along with conservative cause groups.
Thus, while the electorate at large has changed little during the course
of the past generation, there is a closer connection between partisanship
42

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

on the one hand and issues and ideology on the other, resulting in the
kind of partisan warfare common today. Still, it is important to recognize
that the process of party sorting weakens rapidly as one moves beyond the
political class to the larger electorate. There is still considerable common
ground in the electoratebut it is difficult in todays political configuration for anyone in either major party to appeal to it. To take a striking
example, consider abortion.
While the middle of the electorate remains as large as ever, it no longer
has a home in either party.

The activists who attended the Republican presidential nominating


convention in 2012 adopted an abortion plank in the party platform that
essentially said no abortions, no exceptions. Their counterparts at the
Democratic convention adopted a platform that essentially said abortion
at any time, no restrictions, regardless of ability to pay. Now compare those
extreme positions with those held not just by partisans in the electorate, but
by those who characterize their partisanship as strong (strong Democrats
are about a fifth of the population, strong Republicans about a seventh).
For thirty years the American National Election Studies project has
included an item that offers citizens multiple positions on abortion, not
just the simplistic pro-choice/pro-life choices offered by some polls. The
2012 data are not yet available, but there has been little variation over time
in the response patterns. In 2008, 11 percent of the strong Democrats
queried said abortion should never be permitted, and 26 percent that it
should be permitted only in case of rape, incest, or a threat to the womans
life. So, more than a third of strong Democrats were closer to Mitt Romneys position on abortion than to that of their own party. Perhaps even
more surprising, 22 percent of strong Republicans said abortion should
always be available as a matter of personal choice, and an additional 16
percent in case of a clear need. So, more than a third of strong Republicans
were closer to the Democratic position than to that of their own party.
Turning to those partisans who label themselves not so strong, we find
that more than 40 percent of Democrats and more than half of Republicans are at odds with their partys platform. Similar results hold for other

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

43

so-called hot button issues, like gun control. Setting aside independents,
even partisans in the electorate are out of step with many of the positions
held by their purported leaders.

ON TO 2012
Barack Obama won a handsome victory in 2008. Historically speaking,
Americans do not replace presidential parties in landslidesFDR in 1932
is the exception, not the rule. Obamas 7.2-percentage-point margin in the
popular vote was the fifth largest in fourteen elections in American history in
which one party turned out the otherjust after Ronald Reagans 9.7-point
margin in 1980. In addition, the Democrats scrambled the red-blue map, flipping nine states, three each in the Southwest, Midwest, and South Atlantic. In
the aftermath of the election many Democrats believed they had a mandate to
move the country sharply in what they term a progressive direction.
The American people do not give mandates. They hire parties provisionally and grant them a probationary period to prove their worth.
A major electoral victory by the out party generally says no more than
for heavens sake, do something different! Such was the case in 2008.
From their post-9/11 heights President Bushs approval ratings steadily
declined to dismal Truman and Nixon levels. Americans first registered
their displeasure with the administration in 2006 and emphatically made
the point in 2008. Obamamania was icing on the Democratic cake.
In the aftermath of the election the Democrats overreached: the Obama
administration governed in a way that caused the defection of marginal
members of its majority. Loosely speaking, Democrats build their coalitions from the left, Republicans from the right. Each must add to their
base enough of the center to win. After winning, however, activists pressure their leaders to govern from the left or right, possibly reinforcing
what the leaders would like to do anyway, which risks alienating those at
the center. After a narrow victory in 2004 George W. Bush proclaimed
that he had earned political capital and intended to spend it. Many voters,
however, were unaware that they had voted for a Freedom Agenda or
for Social Security private accounts. In his 2010 memoir Bush expressed
sober second thoughts: On Social Security, I may have misread the electoral mandate. Such misreading contributed to the 2006 thumpin.
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Similarly, according to Gallup data, when Obama was elected about 45


percent of the country thought they had elected a moderate and similar
numbers a liberal (nearly 10 percent thought they had elected a conservative). Nine months later, 55 percent felt they had elected a liberal and only
35 percent a moderate, and voters remorse began to set in. Obamas approval ratings among independents were underwater by late summer 2009, presaging the massive swing against the Democrats more than a year later.
The American people dont give mandates. They hire parties provisionally
and grant them a probationary period to prove their worth.

The subject of independents engenders much confusion among political commentators. Some advocates of a more centrist politics treat independents as an undifferentiated mass of centrist voters. They are not.
Independents are a heterogeneous lot. While some are moderates, others
are largely uninformed about the issues. Many independents are crosspressured, attracted to one party on some issue or set of issues and to the
other on different issues. Still others dislike both parties. The label subsumes many different types of voters.
At the same time some political scientists have asserted that the lions
share of independents are nothing of the sort; they are rather closet partisans who like the independent label but are actually no different from
the not so strong partisans. There is remarkably little evidence for this
contention. The entire subject cries out for more detailed examination in
an era when as many as 40 percent of Americans take the independent
option when queried in national surveys. Whatever they are, independents have provided much of the volatility present in recent elections,
swinging 18 points against the Republicans in 2006 (compared to 2002)
and 17 points against the Democrats in 2010 (compared to 2006).
Health care reform was a large part of the explanation for the Democratic slide between 2008 and 2010. To this day the law has never achieved
majority support in the polls, and Democrats singular focus on passing
it at a time when voters considered the economy and jobs much higher
priorities contributed to the perception that the administration was driven
by its own ideological commitments rather than the problems facing the

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

45

citizenry. The result was the great shellacking of 2010. While the recession
played a major role, Democratic losses were much larger than predicted by
economic forecasting models. Several colleagues and I calculated that the
Democrats might have barely held their House majority were it not for
the vote on the health care bill. In particular, it was the difference between
victory and defeat for Democratic representatives whose districts voted for
McCain or only narrowly for Obama in 2008.
After the 2010 elections Republican expectations for 2012 skyrocketed.
The House majority looked safe, Democrats were defending two-thirds
of the Senate seats to be filled in 2012, and by all indications Obama was
highly vulnerable. But the comedic Republican nominating process illustrated the problem with a political process driven by party fringes. The
Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney was never comfortable playing the
role of a severe conservative; poor nominees threw away almost certain
Senate pickups in Missouri and Indiana (after arguably doing the same in
Colorado, Delaware, and Nevada in 2010), and the election results basically reaffirmed the status quo, a great relief for the Democrats and a bitter
disappointment for the Republicans.

MI S R E A DI N G T H E R E SU LTS
Various interpretations of what it all meant are piling up. The immediate post-election narrative held that an old, white Republican Party
had been overwhelmed by an electorate newly dominated by minorities,
young people, single women, and well-educated professionals of a decidedly more liberal bent. There is an element of truth to this interpretation, but it lets the Republicans off too easily. The facts paint a more
complicated picture.
Obama won about 51.9 percent of the two-party vote in 2012, a bit
better than George W. Bushs 51.2 percent in 2004, but down more than 3
percent from his 2008 margin. Republicans assumed that the excitement
surrounding the Obama candidacy in 2008 had produced an electorate
unusually young, non-white, and liberal, and that with Obamamania only
a distant memory the 2012 electorate would look more like the 2004
electorate. But the Obama campaigns efficient turnout operation made
the 2012 electorate look like the 2008 electorate; indeed, even more so.
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Young people participated at about the same rate in 2012 as in 2008, and
minorities increased their participation. Although Romney won a higher
proportion of the white vote than any Republican since 1988, rather than
the 75 percent white electorate of 2004, the electorate in 2012 was only
72 percent white. But the conclusion that Republicans were only victims
of a changing electorate weakens when we look at the 2012 electorate in
terms of numbers of voters rather than their percentages.
Three decades of data undermine pundits claims that the country is half
Republican red and half Democratic blue.

According to the exit polls, African-Americans marginally increased their


participation in 2012by about 300,000, as did Asians and other small
groups by about 400,000, and Latinos registered a big increase, about 1.7
million. These increases clearly contributed to the Obama victory. But preliminary analyses suggest that Obama would have won comfortably even
without any increase in the Hispanic vote or the large majorities Democrats
ran up in this demographic. Despite an increase of about 6 million in the
eligible voter population, almost 2.5 million fewer votes were cast in 2012
compared to 2008. Given that minorities cast nearly 2.5 million more votes,
the implication is that almost 5 million fewer whites voted in 2012. (Turnout figures are from data compilations by Michael McDonald, the United
States Elections Project, George Mason University.)
We do not yet know in detail where and why white turnout declined.
Some of it is no doubt due to non-political factors, such as the disruptions
caused by Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, but it seems likely that the
Republicans underperformed even among their targeted demographic. So
while a re-examination of the partys position on immigration (or at least
the rhetoric that accompanies it) is certainly advisable, it should not distract from the larger problem suggested by the partys weaker performance
in the larger white electorate.
Again, definitive studies remain to be conducted, but a number of
possibilities merit investigation. My impression is that the Republican embrace of social conservatism has become counterproductive at
the national level. It enabled the party to win control of Congress in

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

47

the 1990s after forty years in the minority, but the views espoused by
Republican candidates chosen in unrepresentative primaries dominated
by social conservatives are toxic to many in the younger generation, as
well as to moderate middle-class Americans who reside in cities and suburbs outside the South. Even if they believe that entitlements must be
restructured, regulatory hurdles lowered, and the tax system reformed,
they are reluctant to vote for a party whose candidates make statements
about rape and evolution that strike them as outrageous. I live among
thousands of affluent, educated professionals who regularly vote for
Democrats who will raise their taxes. I doubt that altruism is the explanation. Rather, their alternative is to vote for candidates of a party they
see as more interested in outlawing abortion, stigmatizing homosexuals,
and logging the redwoods.
Whether the Republicans can or will reposition themselves on issues
like immigration, abortion, and gay rights remains to be seen. But
whether they do or not, the status quo affirmed by the 2012 elections
seems likely to persist for four more years. Given a Democratic president, the Republican House majority looks safe in the 2014 midterm
elections (barring some incredible new manifestation of political malpractice). And once again, the Democrats will be defending the large
majority of Senate seats up in 2014, giving Republicans still another
chance to make Senate gains. Events in the real world may force changes
that will surprise us, but there is little in the internal dynamics of the
current political situation to make the next four years much different
from the past four.

A S EC O N D ER A O F I ND E CI SI O N
I wrote above that the elections of 200410 had produced a period of
almost unprecedented electoral instability. The reason for the modifier
almost was the even more unstable period of 188694, a period embedded in what political historians refer to as the era of indecision, which
extended from the 1874 election that ended the Civil War Republican
majority, to the 1896 election, when the McKinley Republicans ended the
long standoff and began an extended period of Republican control that
lasted until 1912.
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

The nineteenth-century era of indecision has also been called the Gilded Age. It was a time when robber barons built great fortunes, legitimate
and otherwise. Great disparities in wealth opened up between the owners
and investors in the new industrial economy and those who labored in
their enterprises. Today, economic inequality is back atop the political
agenda for the first time since the New Deal.
Independents are a heterogeneous lot.

Social and economic changes in such times create new social and economic problems. They disrupt old coalitions and suggest new possibilities
to ambitious political entrepreneurs. When changes are major, rapid, and
cumulative, as they were before and now are again, their effects are all
the more pronounced. Very likely, the electoral instability of the current
era reflects the new issues and problems created by the socioeconomic
changes of the past generation. When it will end cannot be foreseen.
The concern is that these are arguably more dangerous times. Then
Britannia still ruled the waves, so that the United States could to some
considerable extent free-ride in international affairs. And while terrorism
was not uncommon, weapons of mass destruction did not exist. In economics, deflation characterized the era of indecision, and how to dispose
of the federal budget surplus was a major political issue. Today, debt
threatens our future and the specter of rampant inflation looms. The
United States could afford twenty years of political chaos in the late nineteenth century before a new majority emerged. It remains to be seen
whether we can do the same today.
Reprinted by permission of the American Interest. 2013 The American Interest LLC. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Press is The Unbearable


Heaviness of Governing: The Obama Administration in
Historical Perspective, by Morton Keller. To order, call
800.935.2882 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

49

P O LIT IC S

The GOP Can Win


Back Asian-Americans
An opportunity that the party of opportunity must seize. By Lanhee
J. Chen.

I am the son of Taiwanese immigrants who came to the United States in


the 1970s seeking opportunity for themselves and the chance for their
children to grow up in a more prosperous society. My story is not unusual among Asian-Americans. Its also a profile that is tailor-made for the
Republican Party, which stands for enhancing opportunity. Yet AsianAmericans from my generation and others are finding less and less appeal
in the Republican Party.
In 1992, a total of 31 percent of Asian-Americans voted for Bill Clinton for president. In 2000, Asian-Americans were roughly split between
George W. Bush and Al Gore. Sixty-two percent voted for Barack Obama
in 2008; and, according to exit polling, last year 73 percent of AsianAmericans voted to re-elect him. (Obama won a higher percentage of
Asian-American voters than of Latino voters.) Thats a near-total inversion over two decades.
Whats remarkable is not just this turn in Republicans electoral fortunes
with Asian-Americans, who are the fastest-growing minority group in the
United States. It is also the partys apparent inability to gain traction with
Asian-Americans on any dimension of its platform. Among those AsianAmericans who told pollsters that jobs and the economy were very imporLanhee J. Chen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and teaches public
policy at Stanford University.

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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

tant to their voting decision, Obama had a 34-percentage-point advantage.


This finding stands in stark contrast to exit polls showing that among those
who believed the economy was the most important issue facing the country,
Mitt Romney held a 4-percentage-point advantage. More broadly, AsianAmericans preferred Obama regardless of the issues driving their vote choice.
Thirty-one percent of Asian-Americans backed Bill Clinton in 1992;
73% voted to re-elect Barack Obama last year. Thats a near-total inversion.

There are a few potential explanations for the Republican Partys poor
performance among Asian-American voters. One is that Republicans have
failed to properly communicate their message. Another is that there was a
policy area, or areas, not addressed by the party or the polls that drove AsianAmerican votes. A third possibility is that policy wasnt actually the deciding
issue for Asian-Americans, but rather a more intangible one: the image the
party projected, for example, or the tone displayed by its candidates.
Regardless of the explanation, there are concrete steps that Republicans
can take to turn the tide among Asian-American voters.
First, Republicans need to be better at communicating a policy agenda
that fosters opportunity, facilitates upward mobility, and puts economic
success in reach for more Americans of any race or heritage. As my background shows, many Asian immigrants and their children want America
to be a place where they can achieve these goals.
Republican leaders already have the components of this agenda, such
as specific ideas to improve our public schools, make college more affordable, and expand access to high-quality, affordable health coverage. More
frequently, however, the focus is on other policies, such as reforming the
tax code, cutting spending, expanding domestic energy production, and
opening markets abroad.
There is no question that these are important elements of a robust plan
for economic growth. Republicans should continue to advocate for them.
But party leaders must also begin to argue more forcefully for an agenda
that promotes opportunity and helps those who have been less fortunate.
I believe this will go a long way toward bringing Asian-American voters,
as well as others, back into the Republican fold.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

51

Second, the Republican Party must better engage and involve AsianAmerican communities. Republicans havent done enough to meaningfully connect with Asian-American organizations, churches, and community
leaders. The party has also been largely unable to recruit candidates that
Asian-Americans can relate to. The diagnoses and recommendations contained in the partys recent Growth and Opportunity Project report are
an excellent start, but, as the report notes, lasting relationships in AsianAmerican communities will require greater time and effort.
Republicans also must recognize that the Asian-American electorate
isnt monolithic, whether in terms of ethnicity, religion, age, or socioeconomic status. The community organizations and specific concerns of
third-generation Chinese-Americans in San Francisco are very different
from those of recent Hmong immigrants in MinneapolisSt. Paul. To
repair the partys broken image with Asian-American voters, Republicans
will have to cultivate future party leaders, surrogates, and activists from
within these communities.
Republicans clearly have a lot of work to do if they are ever to recover
the ground that has been lost with Asian-American voters over the past
twenty years. Progress will come only with a real commitment from the
highest levels of the partyincluding those considering a presidential run
in 2016.
Aprils gathering of the Republican National Committee in Los Angeles,
at which we discussed the ways the party can broaden its appeal to minority
communities, was encouraging. If we invest the necessary time, energy, and
resources, some of the very voters who helped re-elect President Obama
could help return a Republican to the White House in three years.
Reprinted by permission of Bloomberg. 2013 Bloomberg LP. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Press is Healthy, Wealthy, and


Wise: Five Steps to a Better Health Care System, second
edition, by John F. Cogan, R. Glenn Hubbard, and Daniel
P. Kessler. To order, call 800.935.2882 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

52

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

PO L I T I CS

The Quiet Americans


A half-century-old Supreme Court ruling is costing rural voters their
voiceand control over their own destinies. By James Huffman.

Anyone who pays even passing attention to American politics is familiar with the map showing blue states, in which a majority of voters
favored President Obama, and red states, where Republican candidate
Mitt Romney garnered the most votes. Such maps convey three dominant messages: first, that states can be meaningfully described as either
red or blue; second, that the West Coast, the upper Midwest, and the
Northeast are solidly blue and the rest of the country mostly red; and
third, that, geographically speaking, more of the country is red than
blue.
Those who wonder how Romney lost in what appears to be a mostly
red country should examine maps in which the states are distorted to
reflect their populations. More-populous states have more votes in the
Electoral College than sparsely populated states, making blue much more
pronounced.
But a third kind of map tells a different story. Coloring the nations
3,035 counties red or blue reveals that portraying states this way obscures
much of what we might want to know about the states and the voters
who live there. County maps show that most of the blue states are in fact
mostly red. The sight of vast expanses of red in some of the bluest of states
should concern us if we truly care about self-governance.
James Huffman is a member of the Hoover Institutions John and Jean De
Nault Task Force on Property Rights, Freedom, and Prosperity. He is the Erskine
Wood Sr. Professor of Law (Emeritus) at Lewis & Clark.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

53

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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Detroit News/ Dale G. Young

W I N N E R DO E S NT TAKE ALL
With each passing election, rural and small-town Americans have ever less
influence on their state and national governments and ever declining control
over the governance of their own communities. Their lives are increasingly
controlled from distant state capitals and from the even-more-distant Washington, D.C., by politicians with little incentive to pay attention to their
country cousins. To some extent, their disenfranchisement is the inevitable
result of a century of urbanization and economic centralization. But the
erosion of self-governance in rural America is also the result of a generally
well-intentioned but simplistic understanding of democracy and the associated elimination of institutional protections of local democratic governance.
Two ideas have been central to this effective disenfranchisement of
rural America. First, that one person/one vote is an inviolable principle
of democratic government under the United States Constitution. Second,
that the winners of elections owe allegiance only to those who voted for
them, no matter how close the margin of victory.
Consider what supporters of President Obamas call for higher taxes on
the wealthy say to those wishing to preserve all the tax rates enacted under
President Bush. The people have spoken. We won the election. You lost.
Case closed. Had Romney won the election, Republicans would have said
much the same to opponents of spending cuts and entitlement reform.
For some, this glib argument is like spiking the ball in the end zone:
an ill-mannered, in-your-face celebration of points scored in an ongoing contest. Notwithstanding the sometimes wildly fluctuating views of
the electorate, as evidenced by pre- and post-election polls, elections have
increasingly come to justify claims of total victory for the winner. The
winner sees no need for compromise, making it the losers role to obstruct
such triumphalism in every way possible, and hope to prevail in the next
election. Little wonder that bipartisan solutions have become elusive, and
that those willing to compromise are condemned by their partisan peers
as unprincipled and unworthy of public office.
Of course, anyone with even a cursory understanding of American
politics understands that elections seldom if ever settle matters. What we
learn when the people speak at the ballot box is that the electorate is often

Voters line up before the day begins at the Greenbush Township Hall,
Clinton County, Michigan, in the summer of 2009. With each passing
election, rural and small-town Americans have ever less influence on their
state and national governmentsand even over their own communities.
Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

55

narrowly divided on the candidates and issues. Obamas 51.4 percent of


the popular vote is considered a convincing victory. But 48.6 percent of
the voters (59,134,475 individuals) preferred someone else.
Politics has been distorted by the notion that the winners owe allegiance
only to those who voted for them.

In the democratic selection of public officials, there is no practical alternative to election by simple majority, or even by plurality. Someone must
fill each office, and that cannot be accomplished reliably with supermajority requirements. Representative bodies can, and occasionally do, require
a supermajority to enact legislation. But, as a general rule, little is accomplished if more than a simple majority is required. (Witness the United
States Senate, where the filibuster, as now employed, effectively requires a
three-fifths supermajority and little is accomplished.)

TH E F ED E R A L S Y STE M AND I TS SAFE G UARDS


As political scientist Martin Diamond once observed, democracy is the
least worst form of government yet designed. The designers of Americas
democratic republic well understood the shortcomings of direct democracy, notably the risk of majoritarian tyranny. Among their constitutional
protections against the tyranny of the majority was the creation of a federal system that recognized multiple majorities as legitimate law makers,
majorities that would also moderate the selection of the president and the
enactment of laws by Congress.
In the enactment of national laws, the moderating influence of different majorities in each of the fifty states is most apparent and effective in
the Senate, where each state has equal representation without regard to
population. It is possible for the Senate to approve (or effectively veto)
legislation with the votes of senators representing barely 17 percent of
the national population (or less than 11 percent under current filibuster
rules). Of course, it is rare that all fifty senators from the twenty-five leastpopulous states would agree, but it is not unusual that senators representing less than half the population determine the outcome of legislative
proposals.
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Although most Americans seem to accept the significant deviation


from majority rule represented by the Senate, many are less tolerant of
the far-less-countermajoritarian system for electing the president. With
each presidential election comes handwringing over the possibility that
the candidate who loses the popular vote might prevail in the Electoral
College and become president anyway. For Americans imbued in the one
person/one vote principle on which the Supreme Court based its mandates for state legislative reapportionment a half century ago, the prospect
of this outcome is unacceptable. It is long past time, they argue, to abandon the antiquated Electoral College in favor of direct election.
Defenders of the Electoral College then point out that the system
designed by the framers is the product of a compromise among large
and small, agricultural and commercial, northern and southern states as
diverse in their regional and local communities as in the individuals making up those communities. It is, after all, a federal government for which
we are electing a president. As with the Senate, the Electoral College relies
on majority rule, but of a kind suited to a diverse nation. In the words
of George Will, the framers designed a system suited to moderate, consensual governance of a heterogeneous, continental nation with myriad
regional and other diversities.
Obamas 51.4 percent of the popular vote is considered a convincing
victory. But 59,134,475 individuals preferred someone else.

This quadrennial debate over the Electoral College no doubt will continue as long as the Constitution and its system for electing a president
survive, but there is a related, though long moribund, debate that should
be revived if the interests of a significant minority of American citizens are
to have ongoing influence in our democratic republic. That debate relates
to the political standing of rural communities in virtually every state of
the union.

R U R A L VO I CE S G O U NH E AR D
Rural communities have experienced a declining influence on state governance ever since the 1960s, when reapportionment was first mandated.
Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

57

Many will say that this is as it should be. Rural and small-town voters
constitute minorities in every state, and minorities are supposed to lose
in a democracy. But that is the same argument made against the Electoral
College, given the possibility that a candidate who wins the popular vote
might lose in the Electoral College, and it is an argument that also would
condemn the much greater countermajoritarian nature of the U.S. Senate.
Different and diverse majorities in each state are combined in the
U.S. Senate to pursue national policies that are truly national and not
just what will serve the interests of the nine states where the majority of
the nations population resides. There is no similar safeguard at the state
level for different and diverse majorities in small-town and rural communities that happen to constitute the red regions of the blue states
though there once was.
Before the 1964 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Reynolds v. Sims, most
state legislatures included one house apportioned on the basis of population and a second apportioned on the basis of counties or other geographical regions. Many of the former had not been reapportioned for decades,
leaving growing urban areas with less representation per capita than rural
regions. Relying on the principle of one person/one vote, the court found
that the failure of most states to regularly reapportion their lower houses
put them in violation of the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment.
The electoral system designed by the framers is the product of a
compromise among large and small, agricultural and commercial,
northern and southern.

While one person/one vote was widely accepted as the appropriate


standard for lower state legislative chambers, most states defended their
geographically apportioned upper houses by drawing a parallel to the
U.S. Congress, where the Senate is apportioned on the basis of states
rather than population. The Supreme Court rejected their argument,
concluding that counties and other local entities are merely subdivisions of unitary state governments lacking any claim comparable to state
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

sovereignty. Legislators, said the court, represent people, not trees or


acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic
interests
On the technical question of what constitutes a sovereign entity, the
court was right. But history has shown that the court was wrong in its
understanding of the function served by geographically apportioned state
senates. While state senators elected from geographic regions rather than
on the basis of population certainly did not represent trees or acres, they
did represent communities.
Reapportionment effectively left rural people at the mercy of urbanites
desires and expectations.

Of course, reapportionment of the upper houses of state legislatures


on the basis of population did not eliminate county and town governments, but as state legislatures became increasingly homogenous and
urban-centric, states gradually intervened in more and more matters that
were once of purely local concern. Inexorably, the values and ambitions
of urban America have been imposed on small-town and rural communities. Despite the often-broad agreement among their citizens, the rural
communities of red-county America have gradually lost control of their
own destinies at the hands of statewide majorities marching to a different
drummer. In many states, rural areas have become playgrounds, dumps,
and planning laboratories for urbanites at the expense of viable and prosperous local communities.
The point is not that the different drummer is blue and the rural communities are red. That is just the reality of twenty-first-century American
politics. The point is that because of their minority status in statewide population terms and their lack of representation as communities, rural Americans are denied full self-governance. They have become the objects of what
might be called the soft tyranny of others desires and expectations.
A county-by-county map of the 2012 presidential election clearly portrays the irony and unfairness of a nation of predominantly red communities governed by a blue, urban, national majority. Obama won 52 percent
of the states and 51.4 percent of the popular vote, but only 20 percent of

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

59

the counties. Yet every person in every one of those counties is subject to
the will of distant majorities lacking any understanding of or stake in the
local communities they control.
It wasnt supposed to be that way, and should not be that way, in our
extended national republic.
Democratic government at its best must be about more than the arithmetic of nose counting. Communities require representation if they are
to survive in an ever-more-centralized world. Not the political interest
groups we now call communities, but the real communities in which people raise their children, pursue their livelihoods, and nourish their friendships. These are the communities people call home, and they are slowly
decaying with the loss of control over their own destinies.
As appealing and self-evident as it seemed at the time, one person/one
vote was too simple to be right for a vast and diverse republic. The U.S. Senate will survive unless we are persuaded to abandon the Constitution. Sooner or later the Electoral College will probably give way to a national popular
vote for president. But rural America was set on a path of inexorable decline
a half century ago when the Supreme Court rejected the pleas of rural communities for representation as communities in our extended republic. Those
communities are the red counties of blue America.
Reprinted from Defining Ideas (www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas). 2013 by the Board of
Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Press is Two-Fer: Electing


a President and a Supreme Court, by Clint Bolick. To
order, call 800.935.2882 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

60

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

H E AL T H CAR E

Consumer Choice
It Works!
In the private marketplace, millions already choose just the health
insurance they want. Government-run exchange schemes, however,
will get everything all wrong. By Scott W. Atlas.

A number of large employers have been offering their employees a sum of


moneya defined contributionfor health benefits, instead of offering
the health insurance itself. From that set sum of money, employees shop
for health insurance of their choice from an online marketplace. Each
worker chooses what he or she wants, whether expensive insurance with
extensive benefits, low co-pays, and low deductibles, or cheaper insurance
with higher deductibles and higher out-of-pocket expenses.
This consumer-centric, private health insurance exchange, which gives
individuals the autonomy to decide how to spend their money, was put
into place in fall 2012, and the initial results are now in. The new marketplaces seem to be working.
According to the consulting firm Aon Hewitt, a large percentage of
workers, when given the opportunity and responsibility to consciously
spend their own money, elect cheaper coverage associated with the risk of
greater out-of-pocket payments. For this first year, 39 percent of workers chose high-deductible plans. The previous year, only 12 percent had
opted for those plans when the workers had no cash health benefit and no
chance of picking coverage from an exchange. Overall, a striking 42 perScott W. Atlas, MD, is the David and Joan Traitel Senior Fellow at the Hoover
Institution and a member of Hoovers Working Group on Health Care Policy.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

61

cent of employees picked less costly policies with less extensive coverage
while 26 percent chose more expensive coverage.
Predictably, when people have more choices and are consciously spending
their own money, they make value-based decisions and costs come down.
Moreover, according to Darden Restaurants (DRI), the parent company owning national chains such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster, the
number of workers opting to buy insurance grew under the new benefits
arrangement, meeting the most commonly stated goal of ObamaCare:
increasing the insured population. Numerous employers from widely
diverse industries ranging from retail to restaurants to consulting have
now announced that they, too, will offer defined health insurance benefits
and the choice of coverage via these private marketplaces. Once again, the
private sector has responded with creative solutions that work.
Supporters of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) insist that the health
reform law also relies on insurance marketplaces and that its exchanges represent a significant compromise toward those who favor private markets for
insurance coverage. After all, the governments insurance exchanges, now
renamed the Health Insurance Marketplace, are designed to give you more
choice and control over your health insurance options (as explicitly stated
on the governments website), an idea held up as originating directly from
conservative policy experts and stemming from conservative principles.
But the reality of the ObamaCare exchanges is quite different. Government regulations delineated in the ACA will distort market forces so severely
that these exchanges are destined to fail. The government exchanges force sellers to price their insurance products using arbitrary, wholly artificial criteria.
There is price fixing by government regulation that dictates profit and cost
percentages (minimum loss ratios) rather than a determination of price by
the marketplace. Coverage is bloated by an extensive and naively considered
list of coverages (ironically named minimum essential benefits) that directly
causes higher prices for all consumers, many of whom we now know would
choose cheaper, less extensive coverage. And sellers are forced to disregard the
projected risks that are fundamental to pricing all insurance premiums.
By disallowing different premiums for those with voluntary behaviors
that portend worse health and more care, and by guaranteeing coverage
while virtually eliminating any personal responsibility, the ACA will force
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

insurance companies either to go broke or to shift massive costs onto


healthier insured Americans. Insurance companies under the government
exchanges will most likely fail to withstand the hyperregulation of price
and the disallowance of risk consideration. Premiums will increase rapidly,
subsidies will be insufficient, and the exchanges will ultimately implode.
What could our government leaders learn from the success of the new
private insurance exchanges? Clearly, exchanges can offer access to a wide
array of insurance choices at competitive prices, but the devil is in the
details. Insurance exchanges overridden by anticompetitive regulations
and price-escalating edicts will inevitably fail.
Many people, given the chance to spend their own money, opt for cheaper
coverage and higher out-of-pocket payments.

But just as important, the impact and value of defined cash benefits to
individuals should be acknowledged. American consumers want freedom
of choice, and from the empowerment derived from defined-contribution
benefits arises better value for individuals and ultimately lower prices.
As stated by Ken Sperling, Aon Hewitts national health exchange strategy leader, Employees who want richer coverage are free to purchase it
and they do. Health care is personal, and people have different needs. This
model lets employees decide which plan and which insurance company is
best for them, and they are free to modify that choice.
In principle, insurance exchanges can benefit Americans seeking both
value and better access to health coverage. But free-market exchanges that
empower consumers, not overregulated government schemes, are the better path to success.
Reprinted by permission of Yahoo! Inc. 2013 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
Available from the Hoover Press is In Excellent Health:
Setting the Record Straight on Americas Health Care, by
Scott W. Atlas. To order, call 800.935.2882 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

63

H EALT H C ARE

Promises, Promises
ObamaCare makes Americans certain promises. We already know
that at least four of them are false. By Paul R. Gregory.

President Obama sold the Affordable Care Act to the American people
by making four promises. To gain public support for his landmark new
entitlement, which lacked bipartisan support and whose content was
unknown, the president made these pledges:
1. If you like your current insurance, you can keep it.
2. If you like your doctor, you can keep him or her.
3. The ten-year cost of ObamaCare will be less than $1 trillion.
4. ObamaCare will not add a dime to the deficit.
All four promises have been broken, according to the administrations
own experts. A fifth promiseuniversal health care coveragehas long
been forgotten. Government studies find that there will be thirty million
uninsured after a decade of ObamaCare.
1. Keep your insurance. ObamaCare officials project that employers will
pay $135 billion in fines to opt out of health insurance for their employees. You cannot keep your current insurance if your employer no longer
offers it. In addition, 12 percent of insured employees will be forced into
inferior plans by new taxes on their high-benefit coverage. Most people
Paul R. Gregory is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the Cullen
Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Houston and a research
professor at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin.

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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

covered by Medicare Advantage will lose it.


Conclusion: If you like your current insurance you are not assured you
can keep it under ObamaCare.
2. Keep your doctor. The second pledge: the Obama administration calculates that 15 percent of Medicare Part A providers will become unprofitable under ObamaCare. As administration health planners delicately
put it: low reimbursement rates might end (provider) participation and
possibly jeopardize access to care by beneficiaries. In other words, your
doctor might drop you like a hot potato. Private surveys reveal that a high
percentage of physicians intend to retire early under ObamaCare. Few currently accept Medicaid patients even now. As your doctor retires or will no
longer accept you, you cannot keep your doctor.
Conclusion: If you like your current doctor, there is no assurance that
you can keep him or her.
3. Less than $1 trillion. The $1.9 trillion estimated gross cost of Obama
Care from 2014 to 2023 is supposed to be offset by $624 billion in new
penalties and excise taxes, leaving a net cost of $1.3 trillion. $1.3 trillion
is not less than $1 trillion. The array of technical, behavioral, and economic factors, some of which involve programs and institutions that do
not yet exist, make the $1.3 trillion price tag a source of great uncertainty, admit ObamaCare planners. The costs of Medicare and Medicaid
were originally underestimated by factors of seven and nine, respectively.
If ObamaCare is underestimated by only a third as much, its price tag will
be $4 trillion. Experience suggests the price tag for ObamaCare will be
well above $1.3 trillion.
Conclusion: ObamaCare is projected to cost $1.9 trillion in its first ten
years, or $1.3 trillion after deducting its new taxes and penalties. The $1.3
trillion figure is likely to be an underestimate. The less than $1 trillion
promise is an empty one.
4. No effect on deficit. ObamaCares architects plan to offset its $1.3 trillion net cost by reducing payments to Medicare, Medicaid, and the Childrens Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by at least that amount to make
the program deficit-neutral. Although the federal health care program

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

65

expects minor savings from new technologies and productivity advances,


it reduces Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP costs principally by paying less
to physicians, nurses, hospitals, and home care providers and scrapping
subsidies to Medicare Advantage.
Conclusion: In order for ObamaCare not to add to the deficit, it must
reduce payments to Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP by some $1.3 trillion,
at a minimum. Such reductions will not happen because they are politically unacceptable. If ObamaCare achieves half of the planned Medicare,
Medicaid, and CHIP savings, the deficit will increase by $633 billion. If
ObamaCare makes no reduction in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP costs,
the deficit will increase by $1.3 trillion.
Although the administration pays lip service to the goal of not increasing
the deficit, its own studies note that Congress has overridden reductions in
payments to Medicare physicians for seven years straight, that the CLASS
program for high-risk patients will succumb to the insurance death spiral,
and that reductions in payment updates to health care providers, based on
economy-wide productivity gains, are unlikely to be sustainable.
To get a frame of reference for the $1.3 trillion in cuts: between 2014
and 2018, an average of $80 billion in annual cost savings must be found
for Medicare alone. That is double the current sequestered civilian
discretionary spending that closed airport control towers, halted White
House tours, and suspended meat inspections.
Imagine the politics of approving $80 billion in cuts for striking physicians and nurses who are demanding a living wage or for hospitals that
are threatening to close their doors. Medical-device companies have already
obtained a bipartisan Senate resolution to repeal the tax levied on them
under ObamaCare. The list of exemptions will grow exponentially, and only
those without lobbying clout will actually pay up. With each exemption
from cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP, the deficit will grow.

We have two choices: repeal ObamaCare before it is too late, or continue down the road to an entitlement that threatens to ruin our health
care system while running up an unimaginable deficit.
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

ObamaCare became law in a time of uncertainty and confusion, after


no real debate in Congress. In such times, we must be sure we can take the
president at his word. Other presidents would already have expended their
political capital after failing to uphold their solemn pledges. What will
happen the next time President Obama really needs the trust of the American people?
Reprinted by permission of Forbes Media LLC 2013. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Press is Death Grip:


Loosening the Laws Stranglehold over Economic
Liberty, by Clint Bolick. To order, call 800.935.2882 or
visit www.hooverpress.org.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

67

R EGULAT ION

Protect Me Not
A lot of workplace protections protect workers right out of a job.
By Richard A. Epstein.

The prospect of dismal growth is too often met with desperate measures
that only make matters worse. There are endless claims about the failure of
austerity to spur growth, and impassioned attacks on the unbridled spending that will drown the nation in debt. What a choice!
The debate over the proper level of government spending and taxation is
itself a powerful cause of our economic malaise. The uncertainty over the use
of these key policy levers leads to further uncertainty about the possibility
of a rise in interest rates that will send the economy into a tailspin. Unstable
currency injects a gratuitous element of uncertainty into every private transaction denominated in dollarsan uncertainty that is a cost to both parties
in any routine business transaction. Constant uncertainty about regulations
is another deal-killing transaction cost that produces no collateral benefits.
So long as macroeconomic policy remains fixated on moving all the
levers at once in different directions, it will act as a drag on the marketplace. Stable expectations are key to a strong macroeconomic market.

M IC R O E C O N OMI C MAD NE SS
The same mistakes are also at work in labor markets, where they help
increase the high level of unemployment. This mistaken view is perfectly
Richard A. Epstein is the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover
Institution and a member of Hoovers John and Jean De Nault Task Force on Property Rights, Freedom, and Prosperity. He is also the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law
at New York University Law School and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago.

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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

captured in a letter by Risa Kaufman, the director of the Columbia Law


School Human Rights Institute, who claims that the United States failure to enact meaningful protections enabling workers to accommodate
the demands of work and family is not only out of step with countries
around the world, but it is also counter to international human rights
standards.
This failure is also a huge relief. Bad as our own national employment
situation is, it would be far worse if the United States acted in line with
those misguided countries that now endure high unemployment rates
in the case of Spain, 25 percentprecisely because they seek to secure this
phalanx of workplace protections as a matter of public law.
To be sure, innovative employers may adopt some worker protections
to keep able employees in the workforce, whether in the form of child-care
benefits, flex time, or split positions. But it is one thing for a particular
employer to adopt these policies and quite another for a heavy-handed
political entity to impose them on employers who think these purported
benefits are not in line with their best business interests.
An employers unwillingness to offer such protections is well-nigh conclusive evidence that the cost of the disputed benefits package exceeds the
gains for his or her employee. If the situation were otherwise, the benefit
would be included, as are the multitude of perks certain employers offer
to all or some employees. What else but market demand could explain
why so many employers offer benefits packages that go far beyond international minimums or local law?
When such benefits packages are required by law, the situation changes.
Firms then divide themselves into two categories.
Those that would have provided the benefit anyway will continue to
do so. But they will do so less efficiently than before, as they will lose the
power of self-correction and must incur often-heavy compliance costs to
satisfy the prying eyes of government regulators. Wages will fall as compliance costs rise. The two sides will be left with the unhappy task of dividing
a shrunken pie to implement what Kaufman calls these widely accepted
human rights norms.
The other scenario is worse, for now the net size of the mandated loss
exceeds the joint gains that the employer and employee hoped to accrue in

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

69

the labor market. So now the transaction is squelched, and one more person
is added to the ranks of the unemployed. All because of the supposedly moral
judgment that having no job, albeit with the promise of rich benefits if a job
were available, is superior to having a job with a thinner benefits package.
What theory of human rights finds a moral imperative in killing jobs to
satisfy some abstract ideal?

NOB L Y UN EM P L O Y E D
One of the key causes taken up by human rights advocates is paid maternal and family leave. Writing in the New York Times, Professor Stephanie
Coontz asks with evident disdain why, fifty years after the publication of
Betty Friedans The Feminine Mystique, the United States is alone among
the developed nations in denying paid maternity leave to mothers.
Similarly, the movement for mandatory paid sick leave, as reported by
Melanie Trottman in the Wall Street Journal, has gathered support after
recent flu outbreaks at the city, state, and national level. About 40 percent
of private workers do not get paid sick leave.
An employers unwillingness to offer benefits is evidence that their cost

These pushes for change ignore all of the interfirm differences that
make certain policies unwise for some companies even when they make
good sense to others. Yet when the objection is raised that such laws
weigh on businesses and ultimately hurt workers, the point is treated as
odd. Recent evidence from Connecticut indicates that when firms with
more than fifty employees are required to let workers accrue sick leave
one hour for each forty hours worked, up to five days a yearjobs are lost.
But none of these concerns gets much of a hearing. After all, it is always
possible to shrug and proclaim that employers are going to have to reevaluate their financial situationwhich they may well do by lowering
wages or refusing to expand their labor force.
The frustration with persistent unemployment has spawned yet another legislative crusade: prohibiting employers from discriminating against
applicants who are currently unemployed. Such laws are already on the
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

ZUMA/Shen Hong

exceeds the gains.

A man passes the jobs center at the New York Public Library. Many
worker-protection statutes do nothing to address the underlying problem:
high unemployment.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

71

books in New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. The charge relies on
the strength of anecdotes about people who have had a hard time getting
jobs in a down economy. Of course, many of these anecdotes are true;
being unemployed is at best an imperfect proxy for whether a worker has
out-of-date skills or a bad attitude.
For each aggrieved employee, there is an aggrieved employer who has
been forced to close or shrink his business because of these regulations.

Yet statutes of this sort, including the versions circulating in Congress,


can do nothing to address the underlying problem of high unemployment rates. So long as the number of jobs remains constant, the best that
can happen is that one unemployed person gets a particular job only by
displacing another worker. It is likely that the new round of legal protections for the unemployed will only reduce the number of jobs available, as
employers pull back to avoid a new source of potential liability.
The defenders of the new approach may respond that the New Jersey
statute was limited in its scope by Governor Chris Christie. The statute
seems to apply only to explicit statements by employers that applicants
who are currently unemployed will not be hired, except in cases where the
employer advertises for internal promotions. The law still is far worse than
the status quo ex ante. Take the New Jersey legislation as it stands: every
employer now has to review its external advertisements for legal compliance and be prepared to answer to government investigators about general
practices and particular charges.
Neither Congress nor the states can repeal the law of unintended
consequences.

When the statutes fail to produce improvements, their defenders will


call for stronger sanctions. Indeed, just that step has been taken in the District of Columbia, where the law extends the coverage so that no employer or employment agency shall: (1) fail or refuse to consider for employment, or fail or refuse to hire, an individual as an employee because of the
individuals status as unemployed.
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

The scope of the investigation is thus broadened. Virtually any unemployed person turned down for a job could claim discrimination, as long
as the employer knows of his jobless status. The prospect of multiple violations levied against the employer from a single filing cannot be ignored
and all this when the unemployment rate in Washington, D.C., stays at
8.6 percent, notwithstanding the huge influx of government jobs.
At this point, it is important to address the grand disconnect that
defenders of so-called human rights law have between their own dubious sense of equity and the overall issue of growth. For each aggrieved
employee, there is an aggrieved employer who has been forced to close or
contract his business because of these regulations.
To understand why equity does not lead to growth, its important to
look at the bigger picture. Intrusive labor laws increase the ranks of the
unemployed, which puts greater pressure on the public systems of support.
Anxious lawmakers and advocates will then push for greater job protections that only exacerbate the very conditions they are trying to eliminate.
What policy makers and activists must take into account is that no
amount of cheerleading can change the simple fact that private business
actors respond to incentives in rational and predictable ways. Neither
Congress nor the states can repeal the law of unintended consequences.
And so long as political actors continue to tempt fate, the economic
downward cycle will continue apace as new legal rules stifle economic
growth. Until deregulation, in labor markets and beyond, becomes our
national policy, stagnation and drift will dominate the economic landscape.
Reprinted from Defining Ideas (www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas). 2013 by the Board of
Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Press is The Case against the


Employee Free Choice Act, by Richard A. Epstein. To
order, call 800.935.2882 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

73

EDUC AT ION

No Bright Mind Left


Behind
Research by Hoover fellow Caroline M. Hoxby shows how institutions
of higher learning can attract the many qualified, deserving students
that the admissions process now overlooks. By Brooke Donald.

The smartest low-income teens rarely enroll in the countrys top colleges, and the reason is more obvious than youd think: they dont
apply.
Stanford economics professor and Hoover senior fellow Caroline Hoxby says cost isnt the reasonhigh-achieving, low-income students actually pay less to attend a very selective college than the nonselective ones
they usually attend.
It also isnt the fees associated with applying. Low-income students are
eligible for application fee waivers if they file the right paperwork.
And it isnt that colleges are ignoring them: the countrys most selective
colleges try to recruit low-income students by visiting hundreds of high
schools, inviting students to campus, and working with numerous college
mentoring organizations.
Whats more, in a recent study Hoxby and Professor Christopher Avery
of Harvard demonstrated that high-achieving, low-income students who
Caroline M. Hoxby is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a member
of Hoovers Koret Task Force on K12 Education. She is the Scott and Donya
Bommer Professor of Economics at Stanford University and directs the Economics
of Education Program for the National Bureau of Economic Research. Brooke
Donald reports on the social sciences for the Stanford Report.

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do apply to very selective colleges are admitted and graduate at the same
rates as their high-income peers with similar achievement.
So what is the reason these students dont apply? Experts speculate that
students are either poorly informed about their college choices or just did
not want to attend selective colleges. For example, students might believe
top colleges cost much more when they really cost less. Stanfords financial aid program, for example, covers tuition for undergraduates from
households with incomes of $100,000 or less. Those with incomes below
$60,000 pay no tuition, room, or board.
Low-income students who do apply to very selective colleges are admitted
and graduate at the same rates as comparable high-income peers.

Or perhaps low-income, high-achieving students want to attend the


same postsecondary institutions that other students from their high
schools often pick, even if these institutions have low graduation rates and
slender instructional resources.
Its one thing if students dont apply because they know about their college-going opportunities and dont want to attend, Hoxby said. Its quite
another if they are underinformed.
If a child has managed, despite coming from a low-income family, to
become extremely well prepared for college, it is a huge waste if she fails
to get a great college education simply because she doesnt know that she
could, Hoxby said.
To figure out whether low-income, high-achieving students would
choose different colleges if they were better informed, Hoxby and Professor Sarah Turner of the University of Virginia devised and tested new
recruiting tools to inform students about their college-going opportunities. The Expanding College Opportunities program was tested on about
forty thousand students using a randomized controlled trial.
The Expanding College Opportunities tools are very different from
traditional recruiting methods in three ways, Hoxby said. First, they
are so inexpensiveabout $6 per studentthat they could be used with
every high-achieving student in the U.S. Second, they intensively use
big data so that every student sees customized information. Third, they

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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Illustration by Taylor Jones for the Hoover Digest.

do not promote any particular college. Rather, they try to help students
understand their local options in the context of all their options.
Students targeted by the project received the same sort of information
and reminders that they might receive if an expert counselor were guiding
them through the college application process. But in this case, the information came not in person but through the mail and online.
We showed students how to find colleges for which they were best
prepared academically. We had them compare colleges graduation rates
and instructional resources. In other words, we tried to help them make
wise decisions for themselves, Hoxby said.
Students were also offered information about the differences between
colleges sticker price and the actual net costs they could expect to pay.
We could not tell students exactly what they would pay for any given
college, said Hoxby, but we tried to give them a wake-up call. Hey! As
sticker prices go up, net costs go down for low-income, high-achieving
students. If you want to go to a college, apply. Dont rule yourself out.
Students received application fee waivers, with no paperwork, that allowed
them to apply to eight of about two hundred selective colleges for free.
Low-income students are already eligible for fee waivers, said Hoxby,
so what we did was eliminate the modest paperwork. Related research
shows that apparently small paperwork barriers deter some applicants.
Hoxby and Turner found that the Expanding College Opportunities
intervention caused low-income, high-achieving students to apply and be
admitted to a wider array of colleges, and caused them to enroll in colleges
with higher graduation rates and greater instructional resources.
Students who received the intervention submitted 48 percent more
applications than those who did not, and they were 56 percent more likely
to apply to a peer institution where other students also have high grades
and instruction is geared toward people like them, the study found.
The students were 78 percent more likely to be admitted by a peer
institution and 46 percent more likely to enroll in a peer institution. The
intervention caused students to enroll in colleges with 26 percent greater
instructional resources.
The researchers said the program could yield a substantial payoff for
students. For each $10 spent on the program, the interventions caused

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

77

students to have college experiences that are likely to translate into an


extra $222,990 to $567,821 in higher lifetime earnings.
Hoxby emphasized that enabling low-income, high-achieving students
to realize their full range of college opportunities is not just about earnings.
These students can become leaders who spread the word to low-income
communities that education can be transformative. They can transcend
their initial circumstances and inspire others to do it too, she said.
As sticker prices go up, net costs go down for low-income, high-achieving
students. If you want to go to a college, apply. Dont rule yourself out.

Why hasnt this type of intervention been used already since it appears
it could transform the college application landscape?
First, the researchers say, the data on students havent previously been
available to enable this type of intervention.
We were the first to figure out how to combine enormous amounts of
data in order to identify low-income, high-achieving students and tailor
the information to their circumstances, Hoxby said.
And second, it would not make sense for a single institution to undertake such a project every year. This is a task for collective action, the paper
says. A natural host for such a project would be a pan-collegiate organization or other organization with social goals.
The paper, Expanding College Opportunities for High-Achieving, LowIncome Students, is online at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy
Research (http://siepr.stanford.edu/publicationsprofile/2555) and also will
be published as a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper.
Reprinted by permission of the Stanford Report. 2013 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford
Junior University. All rights reserved.
New from the Hoover Press is The Best Teachers in the
World: Why We Dont Have Them and How We Could,
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

I M M I G R AT I O N

On the Border, New


Realities
Recession helped slow the river of illegal immigration. Demography
and a stronger Mexican economy may keep it from rising again. By
Gary S. Becker.

Net illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States has been
essentially zero, and perhaps even negative, for the past few years. Is this
entirely due to depressed labor markets in the United States and tougher
border policing, or have longer-run forces also been at work? Fundamental changes in Mexico indeed have contributed to the immigration slowdown, and these changes will continue into the future. As a result, the
highly controversial American political issue of what to do about illegal
immigration should become much less important.
Immigration theory divides the factors determining immigration
into push and pull forces. Push forces refer to conditions in the countries where immigrants come from: low incomes, high levels of unemployment, restricted opportunities for children, and religious, racial, and
other forms of discrimination that make living there unattractive. Pull
forces refer to opportunities in receiving countries, such as good earnings,
jobs, and opportunities for children. Individuals migrate when the comGary S. Becker is the Rose-Marie and Jack R. Anderson Senior Fellow at the
Hoover Institution and a member of Hoovers Working Group on Economic
Policy and Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy. He is also the University Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago. He was
awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992.

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79

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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Illustration by Taylor Jones for the Hoover Digest.

bination of push and pull forces makes the expected gains from moving
large enough to overcome the substantial difficulties of moving, including
separation from parents, siblings, and even spouses for prolonged periods.
In all major immigration episodes, younger adults do most of the moving since they are less tied down by family responsibilities and are more
willing to take on the risks of moving to another country. For many years,
the net gain from moving to the United States has been very high to young
Mexicans with modest skills and education. The main reasons have been
much lower incomes in Mexico, for those who are employed, and greater
availability of jobs in the United States because Mexico has had highly
restricted labor markets. These forces encouraged millions of younger
Mexicans to endure the uncertainties and costs of crossing the
border illegally.

The Great Recession put a temporary end to easy availability of jobs in


the United States, since at the height of the recession the unemployment
rate of low-skilled workers ballooned to about 16 percent. The difficulties
of finding good jobs even encouraged some illegal immigrants to return
to Mexico. That, along with tighter border controls, greatly reduced the
number of illegal crossings.
Once the American economy resumes its long-term growth path with
full employment (it has not been on this path for the past four years),
the economic pull from the United States should return to where it was
before. However, the push from Mexico has been decreasing and should
continue weakening for the foreseeable future.
One important cause is the sharp decline in Mexican birth rates during the past couple of decades. Not long ago, Mexico had
high birth rates and produced many
young adults who

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

81

had trouble finding work. Now, the Mexican total fertility rate (TFR)
the number of children born to a typical woman over her lifetimehas
plummeted to about 2.25. This is only a little above the population
replacement rate of 2.1. Unlike in the past, the number of young people
in Mexico will no longer grow rapidly, so that fewer people will be looking
for work in the Mexican labor market.
The push from Mexico also has diminished because its economy has
been growing at a good clip over the past nine years. Excluding the large
drop in 2009, the growth rate in real GDP has been over 4 percent per
year. Mexicos growth rate after 2009 considerably exceeds the U.S. rate of
under 2 percent, which is remarkable because about 80 percent of Mexican exports go to the depressed American economy. One consequence:
the gap between earnings in Mexico and the United States is narrowing. This clearly reduces the demand to immigrate to America, especially
under the difficult circumstances illegal immigrants face.
The United States must find a way to offer a path to citizenship for the
millions of illegal immigrants in the country. I suggest in the following
essay that the best approach is to sell the right to immigrate. Since illegal,
as well as legal, immigrants could buy this right, such an approach would
help solve the problem of illegal immigration.
But even if no new policies were adopted to reduce the flow of illegal
immigrants, the number of new immigrants from Mexico will not return
to pre-recession levels because economic opportunities are rising in Mexico, and there will be fewer young Mexicans who need to find jobs.
Reprinted from the Becker-Posner Blog (www.becker-posner-blog.com).

Available from the Hoover Press is Failing Liberty 101:


How We Are Leaving Young Americans Unprepared
for Citizenship in a Free Society, by William Damon. To
order, call 800.935.2882 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

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I M M I G R AT I O N

A Price on Citizenship
Clashes over immigration policy can be settled with one simple,
humane reform: selling the right to citizenship. By Gary S. Becker
and Edward Paul Lazear.

Since the formal end of the recession in June 2009, the American economy
has been growing at a rate of 2 percent, about 1 percentage point below its
long-term average. To improve this performance, the United States needs
more people with skills, vision, and a drive to improve themselvesqualities that lead to innovation, business creation, increased employment, and
higher wages. One quick way to get such people is through immigration.
A market approach would do this.
We propose that instead of the current maze of rules and formulas,
the United States should sell the right to become a citizen. Setting a price
of perhaps $50,000 would attract those who place the highest value on
citizenship.
Today, about 70 percent of immigrants who enter the country legally
come in through a system that gives strong weight to people with relatives
currently living here. Family preference isnt without meritbut the U.S.
Gary S. Becker is the Rose-Marie and Jack R. Anderson Senior Fellow at the
Hoover Institution and a member of Hoovers Working Group on Economic
Policy and Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy. He is also the University Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago. He was
awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992. Edward
Paul Lazear is the Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow at Hoover
and the Jack Steele Parker Professor of Human Resources Management and Economics at Stanford Universitys Graduate School of Business.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

83

system currently gives much lower preference to workers with skills than
do countries like Germany.
To ensure that not only the wealthy could gain citizenship, the sale
of immigration slots could be coupled with a loan program that allows
people to borrow the fee and to pay it back out of their earnings over an
extended period. To minimize default, the loan payments would be automatically withheld from their paychecks, just as income and payroll taxes
are today.

W H Y IT W OU L D WO R K
There are several benefits to a market-based immigration system. First, it
would attract skilled, productive, entrepreneurial people, disproportionately young, who are more likely to contribute to the economy. Bringing
in more skilled workers would be a force toward reducing inequality.
Consider a software engineer from India who moves to Silicon Valley.
He can increase his earnings substantially, and even with the higher cost
of living in the United States, it would not take him too long to cover the
$50,000 fee. Especially in the high-tech industry, foreign-born men and
women have launched many businesses or invented products or processes
that employ other U.S. workers, increase productivity in the economy,
and raise Americans standard of living.
Second, current citizens could provide loans or pay the fees of immigrant relatives who matter the most to them. This would encourage the
best kind of family reunification.
About one million immigrants arrive legally each year. That is $50 billion
in revenue under the system we propose.

Third, because the current system for legal immigration favors relatives
of those already here, immigrants tend to come from relatively few countries. Opening immigration up to the rest of the world is fairer and would
be of greater benefit to the United States.
Finally, selling the citizenship right would bring in much-needed revenue for the government. About one million immigrants arrive legally
each year. That represents $50 billion under the system we propose.
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People who are now here illegally could become legal by paying the
fee. This isnt amnestyyet for most of the illegal immigrants here, the
deal would be a good one. They would no longer have to worry about
being detected and sent home. Removing this cloud of uncertainty would
encourage them and their children to undertake the kinds of investments
in human capital that make sense to other citizens.
Of course, some illegal immigrants might choose to stay underground
to avoid paying the fee. For that reason, the sale of slots must be coupled with strong enforcement of the laws. Employers should be fined for
employing illegals but given safe harbor if they run a simple Social Security number check before they hire anyone.
Immigration slots could be coupled with a loan program so that
non-wealthy people could become citizens, too.

In addition to raising revenue, selling slots has advantages over a point


system immigration reform that some propose. A point system requires
that the government choose the number of points to award to skills, family ties, age, time living in the United States, and other factors that are
extraneous to economic growth. This means politics will influence the
points awarded.
Yes, the price of a slot may also be subject to politics. If it is high, the
United States will have fewer and more skilled immigrants. This probably
means Republicans would favor a higher price and Democrats a lower
priceeach wanting immigrants they believe would vote for them. Still,
selling slots would not create major misallocations among those who come
in, once the price is determined.

N O J UM P ING TH E Q U E U E
One concern about the system we propose is that there are already many
who have been in the green-card queue for a number of years. They could
be allowed to stay in that queue, with the purchase of immediate citizenship merely offering another option.
Another issue is that some people want to come only temporarily
or may want to try things out before committing to paying the fee to
Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

85

enter permanently. One solution would be to allow people to pay an


annual fee, renewable for up to three years, at the end of which time
they would leave the United States or commit to pay the citizenship
fee. A guest-worker program could fit into the temporary migrant category.
This proposal may seem radical at first glance, but it would enhance the
countrys stock of human capital, spur economic growth, help with federal budget problems, and be fairer and more open than the system we
have now.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2013 Dow Jones & Co. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Press is The Debate in the


United States over Immigration, edited by Peter J.
Duignan and Lewis H. Gann. To order, call 800.935.2882
or visit www.hooverpress.org.

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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

I R AQ

Ten Years On
Saddam Hussein is long gone, but a peaceful, democratic Iraq
remains a long way off. By Fouad Ajami.

Nowadays, few people step forth to speak well of the Iraq War, to own up
to the support they gave that American campaign in the Arab world. Yet
Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched ten years ago, was once a popular war.
We had struck into Afghanistan in 2001 to rout Al-Qaeda and the terrorists
Taliban hostsbut the 9/11 killers who brought ruin onto American soil
were not Afghan. They were young Arabs, forged in the crucible of Arab
society, in the dictators prisons and torture chambers. Arab financiers and
preachers gave them the means and the warrant for their horrific deeds.
Americas previous venture into Iraq, a dozen years earlier, had been
a lightning strike: the Iraqi dictator was evicted from Kuwait and then
spared. Saddam Husseins military machine was all rust and decay by
2003, but he swaggered and let the world believe that he had in his possession a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The Arab redeemer,
as he had styled himself, lacked the guile that might have saved him. A
great military expedition was being readied against him in London and
Washington, but he gambled to the bitter end that George W. Bush would
not pull the trigger.
On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedomthe first bombs fell March
19well over 70 percent of the American public supported upending the

Fouad Ajami is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and co-chairman of


Hoovers Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order.

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USAF/Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall

Saddam regime. The temptation to depict the war as George W. Bushs


and Dick Cheneys is convenient but utterly false. This was a war waged
with congressional authorization, with the endorsement of popular acceptance, and with the sanction of more than a dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for Iraqs disarmament.
Those unburdened by knowledge of the ways of that region would
come to insist that there had been no operational links between the Iraqi
despot and Al-Qaeda. These newborn critics would insist on a distinction
between secular terrorism and religious terrorism, but it was a distinction
without a difference.
The rationale for the war sustained a devastating blow in the autumn of
2004 when Charles Duelfer, the chief U.S. arms inspector for Iraq, issued
a definitive report confirming that Saddam had possessed no stockpiles of
weapons of mass destruction. The war now stood on its ownand many
of its former supporters claimed that this wasnt what they had signed
up for. Yet the architects of the war could not pull the plug on it. They
soldiered on, offering a new aim: the reform and freedom of Iraq, and the
example of a decent Iraq in the heart of the Arab world.
There were very few takers for the new rationale. In the oddest of
twists, American liberalism now mocked the very idea that liberty could
put down roots in an Arab-Muslim setting.
Nor were there takers, among those watching from lands around Iraq,
for the idea of freedom midwifed by American power. To Iraqs east lay the
Iranian despotism, eager to thwart and frustrate the American project. To
the west in Syria there was the Baath dictatorship of the house of Assad.
And beyond there was the Sunni Arab order of power, where America was
despised for giving power to Shiites. For a millennium, the Shiite Arabs
had not governed, and yet now they ruled in Baghdad, a city that had
been the seat of the Islamic caliphate.
A stoical George W. Bush held the line amid American disaffection and
amid the resistance of a region invested in the failure of the Iraq campaign.
He doubled down with the troop surge and remained true to the proposition that liberty could grow in Arab soil.
There is no way of writing a convincing alternative history of the region
without this war. That kind of effort is inherently speculative, subject to

An Iraqi army soldier takes a break during an operation in New Baqubah to root out bombmakers. The last U.S. combat troops left Iraq at the end of 2011, leaving Iraqi forces to go
it alone.

whim and preference. Perhaps we could have let Saddam be, could have
tolerated the misery he inflicted on his people, convinced ourselves that
the sanctions imposed on his regime were sufficient to keep him quarantined. But a different history played out. It delivered the Iraqis from a
tyranny that they would never have been able to overthrow on their own.
The American disappointment with Iraq helped propel Barack Obama
to power. There were strategic gains that the war had secured in Iraq, but
Obama had no interest in them. Iraq was the war of choice that had to
be brought to a responsible close, he said. The focus instead would be
on that war of necessity in Afghanistan.
A skilled politician, Obama made the Iraqi government an offer meant
to be turned downa residual American force that could hardly defend
itself, let alone provide meaningful protection for the fledgling new order
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in Baghdad. Predictably, Iraqs rulers decided to go it alone as 2011 drew to


a close. They had been navigating a difficult course between Iran and the
United States. The choice was made easy for them: the Iranian supreme
leader was next door, the liberal superpower was in retreat.
The American disappointment with Iraq helped propel Barack Obama
to power.

Heading for the exits, Obama praised Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri alMaliki as the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic
Iraq. The praise came even as Maliki was beginning to erect a dictatorship bent on marginalizing the countrys Kurds and Sunni Arabs and even
those among the Shiites who questioned his writ.
A few months ago, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for
Iraq reconstruction, issued his final report, called Learning from Iraq. The
report was methodical and detailed, interspersed with the testimonies of
American and Iraqi officials. One testimony, by an Iraqi technocrat, the acting minister of interior, Adnan al-Asadi, offered a compelling image: With
all the money the U.S. has spent, you can go into any city in Iraq and you
cant find one building or project built by the U.S. government. You can fly
in a helicopter around Baghdad or other cities, but you cant point a finger
at a single project that was built and completed by the United States.
It was no fault of the soldiers who fought this war, or of the leaders who
launched it, that their successors lacked the patience to stick around in
Iraq and keep safe what had been gained at an incalculable cost in blood
and treasure.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2013 Dow Jones & Co. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Press is The Syrian Rebellion, by


Fouad Ajami. To order, call 800.935.2882 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

I R AQ

Why We Went to War


Disappointment with how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq turned
out is no excuse for rewriting the record. By Victor Davis Hanson.

The back-and-forth recriminations about the invasion of Iraq continue,


but in all the not me defenses we have forgotten the climate of 2003 and
why we invaded in the first place. Six suppositions led to the war.
September 11 and the Gulf War. The Bush administration made the
argument that in the post-9/11 climate there should be a belated reckoning with Saddam Hussein. He had continued to sponsor terrorism, had
over the years invaded or attacked four of his neighbors, and had killed
tens of thousands of his own people. He was surely more a threat to the
region and his own people than either Bashar Assad or Muammar Gadhafi
would be eight years later.
In this context, the end of the 1991 Gulf War loomed large: its denouement had led not to the removal of a defeated Saddam, but to mass slaughter of Kurds and Shiites. Twelve years of no-fly zones had seen periods of
conflict and the enforcement of those zones no longer enjoyed much, if
any, international supportsuggesting that Saddam would soon be able
to reclaim his regional stature. Many of the architects or key players in the
1991 war were once again in power in Washington, and many of them
had in the ensuing decade become remorseful about how the prior conflict
ended. The sense that a mistake needed to be corrected became all the
more potent after 9/11.
Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the
Hoover Institution.

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Most Americans have forgotten that by 2003 most of the books published on the 1991 war were critical, faulting the unnecessary, overkill
deployment; the inclusion of too many allies, which hampered U.S.
choices; the shakedown of allies to help defray the cost; the realistic yet
inhumane end to the conflict; the ongoing persecution of Shiites, marsh
Arabs, and Kurds; and the continuation of Saddam Hussein in power.
Because there was no direct connection between Osama bin Laden
and Saddam, George W. Bush probably would not have taken the risk
of invading Iraq absent the security apprehensions that followed 9/11.
By the same token, had the 1991 Gulf War ended differently, or had the
United Nations and the NATO allies continued to participate fully in the
no-fly zones and the containment of Iraq, there likewise would not have
been a 2003 invasion. The Iraq War was predicated, rightly or wrongly, on
the notion that the past war with Saddam had failed and that containment
would fail, and that after 9/11 it was the proper time to stop a sponsor
of global terrorism that should have been stopped in 1991a decision,
incidentally, that would save Kurdistan and allow it to turn into one of the
most successful and pro-American regions in the Middle East.
Afghanistan. A second reason for the Iraq invasion was the rapid
victory in the war in Afghanistan immediately after 9/11. Scholars and
pundits had warned of disaster on the eve of the October 2001 invasion
of Afghanistan. Even if the war were to succeed in destroying the rule
of the Taliban, any chance of postwar stability was declared impossible,
given the graveyard of empires reputation of that part of the world.
But the unforeseen eight-week war that easily removed the Taliban, and
the nonviolent manner in which the pro-Western leader Hamid Karzai
later assumed power, misled the administration and the United States into
thinking Iraq would be a far less challenging prospectespecially given
Iraqs humiliating defeat in 1991, which had contrasted sharply with the
Soviet failure in Afghanistan.
After all, in contrast to Afghanistan, Iraq had accessible ports, good weather, flat terrain, a far more literate populace, and oilfacts that in the ensuing
decade, ironically, would help to explain why David Petraeus finally achieved
success there in a manner not true of his later efforts in Afghanistan.

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Since the United States had seemingly succeeded in two months where
the Soviets had abjectly failed in a decade, and given that we had already
trounced Saddam once, it seemed likely that Iraq would follow the success
of Afghanistan. History is replete with examples of such misreadings of the
past: the French in 1940 believed that they could hold off the Germans as
they had for four years in the First World War; the Germans believed the
Russians would be as weak at home in 1941 as they had seemed sluggish
abroad in Poland and Finland in 193940. Had Afghanistan proved as
difficult at the very beginning of the war as it did at the end, the United
States probably would not have invaded Iraq.
Overwhelming support. Third was the broad bipartisan support in
Congress, in the media, and among the public, for reasons well beyond
concern over weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In October 2002,
both houses of Congress passed twenty-three writs justifying the removal
of Saddam, an update of Bill Clintons 1998 Iraq Liberation Act. Senators
Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Harry Reid were among those who not
only enthusiastically called for Saddams removal but also warned of intelligence estimates of Saddams WMD arsenals. Pundits on both sides, from
Thomas Friedman to George Will, likewise supported the invasion, which
on the eve of the war enjoyed over 70 percent approval from the American people. Bush, in that regard, had achieved what Clinton had not on
the eve of the Serbian War: he had obtained a joint resolution of support
from Congress before attacking and had spent nearly a year in concerted
(though failed) attempts to win U.N. approval for Saddams removal. Had
Bush not gone to Congress, had he made no attempt to go to the United
Nations, had he mustered no public support, or had he been opposed by
the liberal press, he probably would not have invaded Iraq.
Weapons of mass destruction. A fourth reason for going into Iraq
was the specter of WMD. While the Bush administration might easily
have cited the persuasive writs of the bipartisan resolutionsgenocide against the Kurds, Shiites, and marsh Arabs; bounties for suicide
bombers; sanctuary for terrorists; attempts to kill a former U.S. president; violations of U.N. sanctions and resolutions; and so oninstead
it fixated on supposedly unimpeachable intelligence about WMD, a

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Nation building. Fifth was the notion of reformulating the country:


instead of being the problem in the region it would become a solution.
The 1991 war had not ended well, owing to a failure to finish off the
regime and stay on. In Afghanistan, aid to anti-Soviet insurgents had been
followed by U.S. neglect and in time the rise of the Taliban; in reaction, this time Washington was determined to stay. We forget now the
liberal consensus that the rise of the Taliban and the survival of Saddam

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Illustration by Taylor Jones for the Hoover Digest.

slam dunk, according to CIA thendirector George Tenet, a judgment with which most Middle Eastern governments and European
intelligence agencies agreed. This focus on WMD would prove a critical political mistake.
Note in passing that the public furor over missing WMD stockpiles
(although there is solid evidence that Saddam was perilously close to
WMD deployment) did not surface right away. It developed fully not
after the initial knowledge of that intelligence failure but only when violence began to mount after a seemingly brilliant victory over Saddam.
The missing vast stockpiles of WMD then became the source of the
convenient slogan Bush lied, thousands died. Yet had the reconstruction
gone well we would surely not have heard anything like Bush lied, and
so there was no need, after all, to depose Saddam and foster consensual
government in Iraq.
The Bush administration apparently believed that without the worry
over WMD, the other writs would not generate enough public urgency
for pre-emption. Note that when President Obama talks of red lines
and game changers in Syria that might justify U.S. pre-emptive action,
he is not referring to seventy thousand dead, the horrific human rights
record of Bashar Assad, Syrias past effort to become nuclear, or even the
plight of millions of Syrian refugees. No, the stated red line is Syrias use
of chemical or biological weaponsa crime Saddam often committed
against his own people. (We will probably not know the full story of
WMD in the region until the Assad regime is gone from Syria, although
we are starting to hear the same worries about such Syrian weapons from
the Obama administration as we did of Iraqi weapons during the Bush
presidency.)

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were supposed reflections of past U.S. callousnesssomething not to be


repeated in Iraq.
America finally would do the right thing and create a consensual government that might ensure the end of Saddams atrocities and also, by its
very constitutional existence, pressure the gulf monarchies to liberalize
and cease supporting terrorism of the sort that had killed three thousand
Americans. While some may have believed that democracy in Iraq would
lead to a true Arab spring of U.S.-fostered democracy sweeping the Middle East, most Bush administration policy makers believed that democracy was not their first choice for postwar reconstruction but their last,
given that everything else had been tried after past conflicts and had just
as often failed. Administration officials were hoping for something akin to
post-Milosevic Serbia or post-Noriega Panama, as opposed to Somalia or
post-Soviet Afghanistan.
Note well: had President Bush simply announced in advance that he
would be leaving Iraq as soon as he had deposed Saddam, or that he
planned to install a less-violent relative of Saddams to keep order as we
departed, Congress probably would not have authorized an invasion of
Iraq in the first place.
Oil! Sixth and last was the issue of oil. Had Iraq been Rwanda, the
Bush administration would not have invaded. The key here, however, is
to remember the war was not a matter of blood for oil, given that the
Bush administration had no intention of taking Iraqi oila fact proven
by the transparent postwar development of the Iraqi oil and gas fields
by non-Americans. Instead, oil was an issue because Iraqs oil revenues
meant that Saddam would always have the resources to foment trouble, would always be difficult to remove through internal opposition,
and would always use petrodollar influence to undermine U.N. resolutions, seek to spike world oil prices, or distort Western solidarity, as
the French collusion with Saddam attested. Imagine North Korea with
Iraqs gas and oil reserves: the problem it poses for its neighbors would
be greatly amplified and far more likely addressed. Had Iraq simply been
a resource-poor Yemen or Jordan, or landlocked without key access to
the Persian Gulf, the United States probably would not have invaded.

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The invasion of Iraq was a perfect storm predicated on all these suppositionsthe absence of any one of which might well have postponed
or precluded it.
Our forgetting or ignoring most of these suppositions stems not just
from the subsequent terrible cost of the war. Instead our amnesia is selfinduced, and derives from the fact that 70 percent of the American people
and most of the liberal media commentators supported the invasion, came
to reverse that support, and remain hurt or furious at someone other than
themselves for their own change of hearta rethinking predicated not
on the original conditions but on the later unexpected costs in blood and
treasure that might have been avoided.
The subsequent acrimony centered on whether it was better to give up
and depart after 2004, or to stay and stabilize the country. Ultimately the
president decided that the only thing worse than fighting a bad war was
losing one.
Reprinted by permission of National Review Online. 2013 National Review, Inc. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Press is State of Disrepair:


Fixing the Culture and Practices of the State Department,
by Kori N. Schake. To order, call 800.935.2882 or visit
www.hooverpress.org.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

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AF GHANIS T AN

A Time to Reflect, a
Time to Act
In Afghanistan, an Army colonel explains what he learned during his
year at Hoover. By Joseph P. McGee.

In early July of 2011, after I had spent the previous academic year as the
Armys national security affairs fellow at the Hoover Institution, my time
there came to an end and I left Stanford. Several weeks later I assumed
command of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, a force of some 4,300 soldiers who had just returned from a yearlong
combat tour in eastern Afghanistan. In February 2013 I left the United
States with my brigade to conduct combat operations in the same region
of Afghanistana region that includes the historic Khyber Pass that links
Afghanistan and Pakistan. The purpose of this article is to describe some
of the challenges involved in preparing a brigade of soldiers for combat,
and to share the ways in which my experiences at Hoover have helped me
in this task.

A C H A N C E T O T H I NK
Generally speaking, Army leaders are action-oriented. We want them to
be decisive and to make things happen, and we encourage them to be that
way. As a result, leaders at all levels find themselves in a continual cycle of
Colonel Joseph JP McGee (U.S. Army) was a national security affairs
fellow at the Hoover Institution for 201011. He commands the 1st Brigade
Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, which is currently deployed in
eastern Afghanistan.

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thinking about a problem or situation, identifying a solution or a course


of action, then implementing it. Once weve settled the issueor at least
determined a plan of actionwe repeat the cycle. While we generally do
analyze and think through our issues and problemsand we have developed processes to ensure thisits always in the context of having to get
things done. We execute the plan, then repeat the cycle.
During my year at Hoover, for one of the few times in my twenty-two
years in the Army, I had the opportunity to think without my thoughts
being coupled to action. I was given the time to delve deeply into issues,
guided by some of the finest minds in America, men and women who are
brilliant in their fields and in the habit of thinking deeply about an issue
without feeling pressured to find and implement a solution. This environment was quite a contrast with what I was used to, so much so that at the
start I was impatient with the lengthy discussions and constant back-andforth between assumptions and questions.
If we truly understand our environment, well be much closer to
determining how to accomplish our mission.

But over time I became impressed with the level of scrutiny, the depth of
thought, the intensity of questioning, and the rigor of the discussions. To
my surprise, I found that I was receiving an advanced education in how to
think; I was learning how to apply intellectual rigor to complex issues, and
I developed a greater appreciation of the importance of fully understanding
an issue before determining the appropriate course of action. From studying the issues of energy security with Secretary George Shultz, to listening
to experts from around the world address issues in Pakistan, to attending
a course on the history of Afghanistanin which Stanford students asked
some of the most interesting and probing questionsI saw the value of
this intellectual process. The fact that this process wasnt linked directly to
an immediate and executable course of action was liberating in many ways.
Perhaps most important, it allowed far more innovation and creativity, and
the possibility of exploring bold options and new possibilities.
I also saw that a thorough understanding of a problem and the issues
surrounding it are fundamental to solving it. Aided by one of Hoovers

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overseers, the military fellows were able to meet with many of the key
business leaders in Silicon Valley, an area renowned for innovation. In
a meeting with an individual who has hundreds of patents to his name,
we had a fascinating discussion about the nature of finding the right
approach and answer to a problem. He said that in his experience, the
key mistake that many innovators make is failing to fully understand the
problem theyre trying to solve. Instead, they examine it in only a cursory way and end up developing a solution that addresses the problems
symptoms but not its root causes. In this mans experience, time devoted
to thoroughly understanding the nature and context of a problem was
always time well spent. And although this method didnt always lead to
the quickest solution, it was more likely to lead to the right approach
for a complex issue, instead of squandering time and other resources on
only the symptoms.
At Hoover, I had the opportunity to think without my thoughts being
coupled to action.

As I listened, I thought of how the military has struggled to find the


right approach to the challenges we face in Afghanistan and Iraq. The
threat of roadside bombsimprovised explosive devices, or IEDs in military parlanceis an example. This deadly weapon vexed us for many
years, and in retrospect, our early responses to the problemincluding our
focus on killing IED emplacers and eliminating insurgent cellswere the
result of an incomplete understanding of the multilayered issues involved
in the use of IEDs. Instead of taking the time to thoroughly examine
the complexity of the issue, including the financial, societal, and cultural
aspects, we had focused on eliminating the enemy networks responsible
for emplacing these bombs. While this was necessary to at least partially
counter the enemys efforts, we were unable to significantly reduce the
IED threat until we understood and responded to the root causes behind
their use, including financial gain, cultural issues, and enemy propaganda.
Only then were we able to make real progress.
I believe that our failure to fully understand the nature of the threat
along with our strong desire to act, to do somethingalmost guaranteed
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the inadequacy of our initial approach. Im confident that our Silicon


Valley innovator would see all too well the fact that we had failed to fully
understand the problem before executing a solution. My year at Hoover
allowed me to truly internalize the importance of this critical aspect of
problem solving.
When I assumed command I made certain that I put these lessons into
practice, and Ive since worked to instill a climate in which discussion
and debate are considered essential. When we need to make decisions
and execute plans, we do. But until then, leaders in our brigade enjoy a
healthy back-and-forth where opinions can be voiced by any rank. We
can question premises and approaches, examine assumptions, and energetically debate the pros and cons of those things. That said, our brigade
isnt a debate society; we continue to stay focused on actions and results,
which means that once weve made a decision we vigorously implement
it. I believe that my understanding of this process, a direct benefit from
my time at Hoover, has improved our brigade as well as every key decision
that Ive made while in command.
My appreciation of this deeper level of understanding has carried forward into combat as well. As we entered operations in Afghanistan, I
wrote my commanders intent, an Army document in which a commander defines the brigades overall purpose, its key tasks, and how that
commander visualizes the operation. Doing so helps focus subordinates
initiative, and it gives them an overarching framework that can help guide
their decisions while at the same time giving them as much leeway as possible to execute and display initiative. As I defined the important tasks for
us to achieve in Afghanistanfrom working with our Afghan partners to
operating along the Pakistan borderI emphasized that the priority for
all members of our team was to understand the environment. I continue
to believe that if we truly have a thorough understanding of our environment, well be much closer to determining the actions necessary to accomplish our mission.

A N EW M I SSI O N
This approach paid huge dividends when the Army made a dramatic
shift in our mission in Afghanistan. For almost ten months, our brigade
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U.S. Army/Sgt. Kani Ronningen

had trained to conduct operations as we had on previous deployments:


by assuming the role of battle-space owner. As such, the U.S. unit is
responsible for all that occurs within its boundaries and it exerts primacy
in command of all forces within that area. In June 2012, our brigade
was designated one of the first Security Force Assistance Brigades. This
new designation changed almost everything. We would no longer be battle-space owners; instead we would be battle-space integrators, which
meant that our primary mission shifted to the training, development, and
enabling of Afghan Security Forces.
This new mission changed our focus from conducting independent
U.S. operations to supporting the Afghans in developing their own capabilities. To support it, we established nineteen advisory teams of about
sixteen soldiers each, generally more experienced officers and noncommissioned officers who would focus on developing the ability of the Afghan
units to operate independently. We would also support Afghan operations
with technological enablers that the Afghans didnt haveprimarily surveillance support, intelligence support, and support of air-delivered munitions from airplanes and helicopters.
Another change was the size of our forces deploying, which was significantly smaller; fewer than two thousand soldiers out of the brigade would
deploy. In a Stanford business school course I took during my fellowship, I
had learned that organizations can change in multiple areasfrom architecture to routine to culture, in ascending order of difficulty. To adapt to
this new mission, our brigade would need to change all three, and in a
very short time. And we did: we changed our basic structure, made sure
that we placed leaders in the right positions, and developed a training
plan to validate many of our key assumptions about how we would operate. This process of change and adaptation will continue throughout our
deployment, and the lessons we learn will inform the rest of the Army,
which will deploy future brigades to Afghanistan with the same mission.
As we deploy in this new configuration, also serving as the Armys test
bed for how to operate in this new manner, I am confident that we have a
solid solution, and that we will continue to adapt and change during our
mission. And I know that my year at Hoover assisted me greatly in this
process of redesign and innovation.

General Ray Odierno, left, thenU.S. commander in Iraq, walks through Samarra in 2008
with Army officer Joseph McGee. Thinking now of Afghanistan, McGee reflects that a
thorough understanding of a problem and the issues surrounding it are fundamental to
solving it.

During the past eleven years of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, Army
leaders have learned that fighting the enemy is only part of the struggle
to establish lasting stability in these troubled lands. True stability can
be achieved only by eliminating, or at least minimizing, the underlying
causes of instability. These have their roots in political, economic, societal,
and cultural issues.
At Hoover I had an opportunity to explore and learn about these critical areas in much greater depth than I ever had. Over coffee and in the
classroom, I met with experts on development and on Afghanistan, and I

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CH A L L E N GE F OR A G E NE R ATI O N
My time at Hoover also gave me a new perspective on my previous tours
in combat zones. Past generations of our military leaders faced other types
of warfare. For example, the World War II generation was called upon to
destroy the Axis forces in Europe, Africa, and Asia in an industrial-based
form of warfare that required huge armies and that was necessary to secure
America from the threats of that day. While relatively short in duration,
this war was horrific in the loss of life and overall destruction.
The military fellows were able to meet with many business leaders in
Silicon Valley, an area renowned for innovation.

Todays generation of Army leaders faces a different challenge. To keep


the United States secure, these leaders must be skilled in operating in
broken and unstable societies, and in countries whose governments are
weak, whose militaries are struggling, and whose social fabric has been
ripped apart by decades of war or ruthless dictatorships. Our challenge is
to establish stability in these areas and then hand them over to responsible
governments that can secure their own countries, and to prevent the establishment of ungoverned safe havens where our enemies can plan attacks
against us. This is a different kind of war from the one fought in World
War II, one that requires the right approach with the right leaders creating the right conditions with our host nation allies. While different, this
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/Department of Defense

learned about how other elements of our government, notably the State
Department, view these challenges.
As our brigade trained for operations in Afghanistan, we emphasized
the importance of understanding how to synchronize our efforts with
those of other U.S. government elements, and how to enable the Afghan
government to take on these responsibilities and provide their people
with essential services such as water, electricity, education, health care,
and rule of law. Although doing so is not our militarys primary mission, we have to understand the relationship of these different elements
to long-term stabilityand to forge an interagency team that works
toward these common goals.

Colonel J.P. McGee (center) accompanies Lieutenant General James Terry (left) and
Command Sergeant Major Thomas Eppler (far right) in March as Defense Secretary Chuck
Hagel carries out his first visit to Afghanistan in his new role.

type of warfare is the challenge of this generation of military leaders. Our


success or failure in how we respond to this challenge will help determine
whether our nation is more secure, or less, during our time of service.
Being at Hoover and away from the daily responsibilities that come
with serving as a leader in the Army allowed me to place the challenges
of these conflicts in the right context. And when the year came to an
end, it allowed me to return to those challenges with fresh insights and
renewed intensity.

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105

R E C O N N E C T I N G TO TH E AME R I CAN PE O PLE


Finally, my year at Hoover helped me see the growing divide between
the American people and their militarysomething I believe we must
change.
Throughout the year, students, faculty, fellows, and members of the
community were unfailingly respectful of my military service. But the
lack of knowledge about what the Army is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan was appalling. With less than 1 percent of the U.S. population in
the military, this divide is predictable, but I had never seen it in such
stark relief. Again and again I met with people who were smart, welleducated, and successful in their careers, but who didnt know a single
person currently serving in our military. Many said that they had family
members who had fought in World War II or Vietnamand they used
this as an entre for our conversationbut most had never had a substantive conversation with anyone in todays military, a military shaped
by eleven long years of combat. I came to feel that for many people, their
connection to the military was similar to their connection to their local
professional sports team. They knew the military represented them and
they wished us well, but they had no real connection to those of us who
were struggling on their behalf.
To adapt to this new mission, our brigade would need to change its
architecture, its routines, and its culture, and in a very short time.

This is where the final benefit of the Hoover fellowship became apparent. Whether talking with Stanford students or faculty members or speaking to a chamber of commerce or at a Hoover seminar, the military fellows
could represent the military to a segment of America that previously had
had little or no interaction with us. And while these interactions might
not be enough to really bridge the gap between the military and the American people, they are an important step, with an important and influential
group of Americans.
During my time at Hoover, it was heartening to watch the decision
among Stanford leaders to allow the Reserve Officer Training Corps
(ROTC) program to return to Stanford. This decision, rich in symbolic
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

value, is an important sign of progress in reconnecting the academic elites


of the United States with its military.
At Hoover, the military fellows can represent the military to part of
America that previously has had little or no interaction with us.

During my command, we put together an outreach program for various communities in Tennessee and Kentucky in which my leaders speak
at community gatherings, participate in local events, and connect in other
ways to the local population, all in the interest of eliciting a stronger connection between our military and the American people. Once again, my
time at Hoover showed me the importance of this.
I remain tremendously grateful for the opportunity to spend a year at
Hoover learning from some of Americas best minds. I was given the
opportunity to think and reflect and the time to frame these current conflicts in the right context, and I was mentored on how to solve complex
problems. I know that I command differently as a result of the experience,
and that it will assist me in combat as much as it has in training.
Special to the Hoover Digest.

Available from the Hoover Press is Jihad in the Arabian


Sea, by Camille Pecastaing. To order, call 800.935.2882
or visit www.hooverpress.org.

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R US S IA

Women of the Gulag


Voices so indomitable that even Stalin failed to silence them. By
Natalia Reshetova.

Hoover research fellow Paul Gregorys forthcoming book Women of the


Gulag tells the stories of five remarkable women, victims of Stalins Great
Terror of 193738. These stories give the sights, sounds, and feel of this
horrific era. The chances of any of these woman being alive in 2013
seemed remote at first, as they would be in their upper eighties or nineties. Nevertheless, Paul and I embarked on what at the time appeared to
be a quixotic search to find them. Our detective work yielded two of the
heroines themselves and the children of the others, including the adopted daughter of Stalins most notorious executioner. Our search stretched
from St. Petersburg to a Urals village, to Siberia, Sukhumi, and remote
Magadan, and to Israel.
We decided to capture these last survivors in a documentary to accompany the electronic version of the book. The noted Russian-American
filmmaker Marianna Yarovskaya directed the filming of Women of the
Gulag: The Last Survivors, which is in production now.
Here is the story of our search for Fekla Andreeva, who is featured in the
book as a courageous and determined girl imprisoned with her parents and
three sisters in a special settlement in the tiny Urals village of Martyush.
Natalia Reshetova works in the Hoover Institution Archives. Her research
focuses on the Great Famine in Soviet Russia and American aid in the 1920s.
Paul R. Gregory is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the Cullen
Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Houston and a research
professor at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin.

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Paul especially wanted to find Fekla. He had read her memoirs of the
special settlement on the website of the Andrei Sakharov museum and
center. He once asked me, What kind of name is Fekla? According to
Russian Orthodox tradition she was named in honor of a saint: the Holy
Martyr, Equal to the Apostles, Thekla. When I read the book I understood that Fekla resembled her patron saint in a number of ways: she possessed not only a natural beauty but also a strong, goal-oriented character,
blended with compassion and love.
We decided to capture these last survivors in a documentary film.

She found herself in the fall of 1931, just short of five years old, in a
cold earthen dugout that was part of the vast Gulag system. She would survive, but only after experiencing with her family hunger, cold, and heavy
physical labor, and the loss of many loved ones. Against great odds she
would grow up to become a scholar and a teacher. All her life she would
support her family and fellow survivors of the Martyush settlement. As a
fatherless oldest daughter she helped raise her three younger sisters; for
many years she also cared for her mother, Miropia, who survived the camp
as an invalid but lived to be 100 years old. Their apartment in Kamensk
became for several years the headquarters for the work of rehabilitating
the Martyush survivors: bringing social and political restoration to these
Gulag victims in the post-Stalin era. Fekla never married or had children.
Without a doubt, I was eager to find Fekla too. At the beginning of the
search I assumed two things: that it was likely she was living in KamenskUralsky (of which Martyush is a suburb), where in 2004 her memoirs had
been published; and that she was probably well-known there. From her
book, I knew that she was an active participant in the communal life of
the city and was a founding member of the society Memorial, as well as
a member of the board of directors of the citys association of victims of
political repression and a member of the city commission on the restoration of the civil rights of the rehabilitated victims. Based on these assumptions, I decided to look for any mention of her in local news, and therefore
turned to the archive of the web portal Virtual Kamensk. I immediately
found a three-year-old article mentioning her. The headline said The

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109

A page from Fekla Andreevas scrapbook shows the Gulag survivor at


various times in her life. A child held in one of Stalins special settlements along with her family, Andreeva grew up, survived the camps,
and became a staunch advocate of historical truth and political rehabilitation of others like her.

museum archive has recently been enriched by some priceless documents


and the article contained the following information:
The very longstanding friend of the museum, Fekla Trofimovna Andreeva, donated irreplaceable newspaper clippings from past decades. The
subject matter is highly varied and includes articles on the darkest themes
in the history of our country, region, and city, as well as articles dedicated
to leading cultural figures and to education....But the most valuable
contributions are folders pertaining to the past activity of the association of victims of political repression and folders with material about the
victims of repression of the Martyush settlement. Once more we want to

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express to Fekla Trofimovna our gratitude for the donated materials and
to wish her good health.
Acting director of the museum Partina Yu. G.

I immediately sent e-mail via the links on the site. The first traces of
Fekla then came:
Good afternoon. You are exceptionally lucky, I know Fekla Trofimovna
personally. Will try to find her. Well, at least a photograph. Truthfully it
has been a long time since we met. God grant that she be living!

Photo courtesy of Fekla Andreeva

Respectfully, director of the portal Virtual KamenskAleksei Kuzmin

I had also e-mailed the director of the local museum, and it was the
museum that sent me a photograph, the first I had seen of Fekla. In my
hands was a picture of a pretty face in glasses, wearing a 1970s beehive
hairstyle, and looking very much like a teacher. Kuzmin contacted Fekla
on my behalf and she gave me permission to call her at home. Kuzmin
also wrote that Fekla is entertaining to speak with and has a good sense of
humor. The next day, Virtual Kamensk told its readers about the Americans who had come calling:
A resident of Kamensk, Fekla, will appear as one of the heroines in a book
by...Paul Gregory about the Stalinist repressions. Professor Gregory
became interested when he read two monographs by one of our countrywomen titled Special Settlement Martyush and Roots and Crowns.
Here is how Fekla Andreeva herself characterized the project of Professor
Gregory: In all I wrote six books dedicated to victims of repression. It
makes me happy that these books were also able to elicit historians interest abroad. If my health permits, I am ready to work with them.

Inspired by this response, Paul and I tried to reach her. Despite Kuzmins
assurance that Fekla was available and willing to take a calland while we
negotiated a thirteen-hour time differencewe were unable to reach her for
almost three weeks. Finally, our efforts paid off. Paul wrote to me:
I got Fekla by phone. She was a month in the hospital and is in very bad
health....She is ready for you to telephone and seemed to be saying we

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111

had better hurry because of her health. She had trouble containing her
emotions, speaking of the early death of her youngest sister forced to
work in the hazardous conditions of the local aluminum factory. She kept

From that moment we always dialed her number with trepidation. My


own first conversation with her was very emotional. At the very beginning
she said she would soon be eighty-five years old but that a day never went
by that she did not remember her last meeting with her father and his final
request. She could barely restrain her tears.
She last saw her father the day after his arrest on March 29, 1938. He was
in the cellar of a secret-police building among tens of other prisonersall
standing because there was no room to sit. The NKVD guards pretended
not to notice the children who crawled to the window to talk to the prisoners. Fekla remembers how the others told her father, Andreev, your eldest
daughter is here. He struggled to get to the window and managed to speak
only a few words to Fekla, addressing her as an adult even though she was
just eleven and a half. Now you are in charge of the family, he said. Educate your sisters. It is harder to oppress an educated person. Get an education too, and do not abandon your mother and grandpa.
I followed his will, Fekla concluded.
Fekla not only became an educated person who taught for many years,
first at a local school and then at the university level, but also completed
her dissertation on the celebrated author Alexander Pushkin. Later she also
became a historian of the Martyush settlement. She collected hundreds of
documents and traveled extensively through areas where the camps and
settlements of the Gulag had once stood. She published several books and
helped many people achieve rehabilitation: 419, by her count. All three
of her sisters also received a good education: one became a teacher, one a
public accountant in a government pension office, and one a government
insurance agent.
Today Fekla rarely leaves home, but she is far from inactive. She regrets
that she can no longer go to church but is glad that she can listen to
church services over the radio on major feast days or watch them on television. She is still the steward of many documents and photos about the
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From Women of the Gulag: The Last Survivors

repeating: what misfortune! What a tragedy!

Fekla Andreeva keeps alive the memory of her family and the many others caught up in the
years of terror. If we dont preserve the historical memory, she says, we shall continue
to make the same mistakes.

history of the Martyush settlement. Nor is her writing career over: she
hopes to publish a manuscript about Soviet schools titled The Golgotha of
a Teacher. As in years past, she receives so much mail that an extra-large
mailbox has been attached just outside her apartment door.
It was this contact with living history that inspired Paul and Marianna
to make the documentary Women of the Gulag. Fekla agreed to participate.
Paul had many questions for her, and thus I spoke to her many times
to ascertain important facts about her life and family. We were happy to
learn that one of her sisters, Katya, also lived in Kamensk and another, the
youngest, Klavdia, in Yekaterinburg; both of these women later participated in the documentary too.
Her third sister, Nina, was born shortly after the family was exiled to
the Martyush settlement camp. When Nina was born, Fekla related, her
mother wept bitterly, as there was nothing in which to wrap the freezing

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113

newborn. A doctor, hearing of this, sent over some scraps of material from
the hospital. Almost all babies born in the settlement between 1931 and
1933 died shortly after birth, Fekla told us. Nina survived the Gulag but
was in poor health ever after, and died early.
Small children in the Martyush settlement stayed in earthen pits, dug
in the birch forest, from fall until spring. They played in those dark, cold
dwelling placesdigging little rivulets in the dirt walls and watching the
soil run down. Feklas grandmother gave her grandchildren almost all of
her daily allotment of bread; she died of hunger and illness in April 1932,
not having survived a year. The children of the settlement rarely saw their
parents, who were peasants used to working the land but were now forced
to toil as industrial workers from morning to nightFeklas father at an
aluminum factory and her mother in the mines. After her fathers arrest, the
only man left in the family was her grandfather. He worked as a guard, and
until his death in 1944 he helped his daughter-in-law and grandchildren as
best he could.
Will try to find her. Well, at least a photograph. Truthfully it has been
a long time since we met. God grant that she be living!

All children between the ages of ten and twelve were forced to work
full adult hours. Fekla commented to me many times that after the settlement closed and the survivors returned to civilian life, the former inmates
invariably were very hard workers who achieved senior levels in their jobs.
Feklas father never returned, and the family did not receive any news
of him. Only many years later, after Stalins death, did Fekla begin to
search for information about his fate. Ultimately she learned that he had
been condemned to death by firing squad on September 29, 1938, and
executed on October 4, 1938. As one of the innocent victims of the Great
Terror, he was among 725,000 people who were unjustly shot.
It was a real genocide, Fekla said in the film. Why did they wipe out
five generations of our family?
Not long before the arrival of the crew for the documentary film, the
web portal Virtual Kamensk announced that Fekla would be one of the
heroines of this American film:
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We hope that Fekla Trofimovnas health will allow her to fulfill her role
and complete her interview with our visiting filmmakers, since she will be
one of the principal figures of this documentary. These filmmakers will
also visit Martyush, where the special settlement was located during the
years of the repression.

In the past few years the names of many more of the people who suffered repression under Stalin have become known to us. Only thanks to
Fekla have we learned about her own family and hundreds of other victims
of the Martyush special settlement, whose members were freed in 1947.
Fekla discovered in 1993 that she had technically been freed in 1942,
as a student. She, her grandparents, her parents, and her three sisters won
rehabilitation in 1992.
I dedicated more than half a century searching for my dead countrymen, Fekla says on camera. We were forgotten. For our broken lives. For
our executed fathers. No one apologized. If we dont preserve the historical
memory, we shall continue to make the same mistakes.
It was an honor to have communicated with her, and I felt this piece of
history become a part of me in all its great tragedy.
Special to the Hoover Digest. Paul R. Gregory and Marianna Yarovskaya have funded the documentary
Women of the Gulag with the help of a grant from the Hoover Institution and successful crowdfunding
campaigns. To watch part of the film and learn about the campaign to complete production, visit www.
womenofthegulag.com.

Published by the Yale-Hoover Series on Stalin, Stalinism,


and the Cold War is Guns and Rubles: The Defense
Industry in the Stalinist State, edited by Mark Harrison.
To order, call 800.405.1619 or visit http://yalepress.yale.
edu/yupbooks/order.asp.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

115

I NDIA

India Unchained
Why is the worlds largest democracy apparently doing worse than the worlds
largest dictatorship? There is precious little comfort in all the comparative
indicators on the current performances of India and China, and anyone who
cares for freedom must want this free country, India, to do better.
On growth, inflation, output per capita, unemployment, budget deficit, corruptionalmost every indicator believed in by Davos ManIndia
is doing worse than China. The great catch-up predicted a few years ago
has just not happened. On per capita GDP, for instance, India limps along
at $3,851 against Chinas $9,146. According to official figures for 2011,
Indias unemployment was more than double Chinas. Transparency Internationals index measuring the perception of corruption ranks China a
poor (joint) eightieth in the world, but India comes in (joint) ninetyfourth. And it goes on.
Yes, China probably cooks its books more than India does, so discount a
bit for lies, damned lies, and statistics. But almost everyone I have talked to
in more than two weeks traveling around India, be they journalist, businesswoman, scholar, or outside observer, basically accepts the verdict. In fact,
they add to it. The rural poor, they say, are hardly better off than they were
two or three decades ago. A former supreme court justicea craggy, towerTimothy Garton Ash is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the
Professor of European Studies, director of the European Studies Center, and Gerd
Bucerius Senior Research Fellow in Contemporary History, all at St. Antonys
College, Oxford University.

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Illustration by Taylor Jones for the Hoover Digest.

Whats keeping India from taking on Chinaand the world? By


Timothy Garton Ash.

ing survivor of the old, progressive Nehruvian Indiatells me with passionate indignation that more than 40 percent of Indian children are probably malnourished. Worse than in Africa! he criesand a detailed 2005
World Bank report supports that view. Some seventeen thousand Indian
farmers took their own lives in 2010, when their crops failed. Even the most
superficial, privileged traveler cannot avoid seeing the shocking proximity
of wealth and want, whether in the garbage-piled slums of Mumbai or the
medieval-looking peasant farms visible just off a brand-new expressway.

D I V E R S I T Y B E Y O ND ME ASU R E
Why? Here are a few suggested explanations. Unlike China, but like Europe,
India expends a vast amount of its energy simply coping with its incredible
diversity. The French president Charles de Gaulle once exclaimed: how can
you possibly govern a country that has 246 varieties of cheese? Well, how
about a country with 330 million gods? And when we say a country: a
nineteenth-century English observer once noted that Scotland is more like

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117

Spain than Bengal is like Punjab. A poetic exaggeration, no doubt, but


this country is a continent, a commonwealth, an empire in itself. And like
Europe, it is trying to manage this diversity in freedom. China has diversity
too, in vast if sparsely populated areas of mainly Tibetan and mainly Muslim population, but it copes with it mainly by repression.
To make freedom in diversity work, you need a powerful uniting
narrative. India, like Europe, has lost the plot.

To make freedom in diversity work, you need a powerful uniting narrative. The United States has that, as we saw again in the inauguration of
President Obama. (Yes, its a myth, but national myths move mountains.)
Europe had such a narrative after 1945, but has lost it, and India too had
it in the first decades after independencebut, like Europe, has now lost
the plot. Instead there are multiple competing stories in a political and
media free-for-all. Unfortunately, if unsurprisingly, many of these are sectarian, regional, petty-chauvinist narratives, dividing rather than uniting.
Then there is what has been called the License Raj. Administrative
structures inherited from the British empire, and amazingly unchanged
in many respects, have hypertrophied into nightmarish bureaucracy. Captains of industry such as Lakshmi Mittal and the recently retired Ratan
Tata like to invest elsewhere because it takes up to eight years to get all the
permissions in India.
If the bureaucracy of a postcolonial state is the problem, more deregulation and economic liberalization should be the answer; and so, in some
respects, it is. That is, for instance, the only way that we will get to an
EU-India free-trade agreement, which could bring great benefits to both
sides. But the free-market liberalization that was let rip in the 1990s is also
part of the problem. Take the media. Indias media now boast a commercial, sensationalist, race-to-the-bottom culture. A few quality papers, such
as the Hindu, are exceptions that prove the rule. Elsewhere, paid news
(corporations paying for favorable news coverage) is the order of the day.
Then there is politics. Everyone, but everyone, tells me that business
and politics in Delhi are carnally intertwined like tantric gods and goddesses. Besides the shrill name-calling, regional and religious identity poli118

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

tics, and dynastic principle (witness the irresistible rise of Rahul Gandhi
in the Congress party), there is the monstrous condescension to the two
out of every three Indians who are still dirt poor.
While some corporate and philanthropic initiatives do offer them the
essential means for self-help, politicians mainly just throw at them subsidies for basic foodstuffs, a few other cheap goodies, guaranteed low-wage
employment for a number of days a yearand then buy their votes every
election time. As in the ancient Roman formula, the plebs are offered
bread and circuses. The circuses in this case are cricket (an Indian game
that the British just happen to have invented) and the celebrity razzmatazz
of Bollywood.

C H I N A S R E CKO NI NG TO CO ME
So is China bound to go on winning? No, and again no. No, because
while the Indian system is a daily soap opera of small crises, the big crisis
of Chinas self-contradictory system of Leninist capitalism is yet to come.
And no, again, because India is a free country, with the most amazing
diversity of human talent, originality, personality, and spirituality. Surely
that free expression of human individuality must tell out in the end.
So I say, come on, India! So far as Im concerned, you can beat England
at cricket in every single Test match for the next ten years, but on one
condition: that you also start beating China at politics. And by politics I
mean not the petty competition for power and privilege, but realizing the
full potential of your people.
Reprinted by permission. 2013 Guardian News and Media Ltd. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Press is Trial of a Thousand


Years: World Order and Islamism, by Charles Hill. To
order, call 800.935.2882 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

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F OREIGN P OLIC Y

Nuclear Arms: No
Time for Complacency
Nonproliferation efforts must intensify, step by careful step. By
George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn.

Every American president since the end of World War II has sought to
come to grips with the unique security risks and challenges associated with
nuclear weapons. The specter of a nuclear war, accident, proliferation,
or terrorism has led to serious and sustained efforts to control, reduce,
and eliminate nuclear risks. Over the decades, progress has been made in
reducing nuclear weapons and bringing about international agreements
on nonproliferation.
Recently, the four of us have supported two major policy initiatives:
the 2010 New START Treaty with Russia, which verifiably reduced bilateral nuclear stockpiles; and the Nuclear Security Summits of 2010 and
2012, which have energized global efforts to secure nuclear weapons and
materials. Both initiatives are significant and hopeful steps that add to a
solid foundation of bipartisan accomplishment over many decades. Most
George P. Shultz is the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow
at the Hoover Institution, the chairman of Hoovers Shultz-Stephenson Task Force
on Energy Policy, and a member of Hoovers Working Group on Economic Policy.
William J. Perry, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, is the Michael and
Barbara Berberian Professor at Stanford University, with a joint appointment at
the Institute for International Studies and the School of Engineering. Henry A.
Kissinger is chairman of Kissinger Associates. Sam Nunn is former chairman of
the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

notably, the number of nuclear weapons in the world today is less than
one-third of the total in 1986 at the time of the Reagan-Gorbachev Reykjavik summit.
Working toward a nuclear-free world will involve many nations, not just
those that now hold nuclear weapons.

Despite these considerable efforts, nuclear dangers remain all too real.
Technological progress and the proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional states are compounded by dangerous complacency. Bilateral relations between the two largest nuclear powers, the United States and Russia, are frayed, and there are continuing difficulties in effectively addressing
emerging nuclear threats in North Korea and Iran, punctuated recently by
a test explosion in North Korea and nuclear threats by Pyongyang. Combined with the dangers of suicidal terrorist groups, the growing number
of nations with nuclear arms and differing motives, aims, and ambitions
poses very high and unpredictable risks.
It is far from certain that todays world can successfully replicate the
Cold War Soviet-American deterrence via the concept of mutually assured
destruction: the threat of imposing unacceptable damage on the adversary.
That was based essentially on a bipolar world. But when a large and growing number of nuclear adversaries confront multiple perceived threats, the
relative restraint of the Cold War will be difficult to sustain. The risk that
deterrence will fail and nuclear weapons will be used increases dramatically.
The number of nuclear weapons in the world today is less than one-third of
the total in 1986 at the time of the Reagan-Gorbachev Reykjavik summit.

Global leaders owe it to their publics to reduce, and eventually to eliminate, these risks. Even during the Cold War, the leaders of the two superpowers sought to reduce the risk of nuclear war. What was possible among
declared enemies is imperative in a world of increasing nuclear stockpiles
in some nations, multiple nuclear military powers, and growing diffusion
of nuclear energy. A global effort is needed to reduce reliance on nuclear
weapons, prevent their spread, and ultimately end them as a threat to the

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SIPA/Kristoffer Tripplaar

world. It will take leadership, creative approaches, and thoughtful understanding of the perils of inaction. Near-term results would lay the foundation for transforming global security policies over the medium and long
term. We suggest four areas requiring urgent consideration:
1. Securing nuclear materials to prevent catastrophic nuclear terrorism. Materials necessary for building a nuclear bomb today are stored at
hundreds of sites in twenty-eight countriesdown from over forty countries just ten years ago. But many of these sites arent well secured, leaving
the materials vulnerable to theft or sale on the black market. Important
commitments were undertaken to secure nuclear materials and improve
cooperation during the 2010 and 2012 Nuclear Security Summits. These
could improve security for generations to come. Yet no global system is in
place for tracking, accounting for, managing, and securing all weaponsusable nuclear materials.
At the next Nuclear Security Summit, planned for 2014 in the Netherlands, world leaders should commit to develop a comprehensive global
materials security systemincluding procedures for international assurancesto ensure that all weapons-usable nuclear materials are secure
from unauthorized access and theft.
2. Changes in the deployment patterns of the two largest nuclear
powers to increase decision time for leaders. In the 2008 campaign,
then-senator Barack Obama said: Keeping nuclear weapons ready to
launch on a moments notice is a dangerous relic of the Cold War. Such
policies increase the risk of catastrophic accidents or miscalculation. I will
work with Russia to end such outdated Cold War policies in a mutual
and verifiable way. The United States should work with nuclear-armed
nations worldwide to remove all nuclear weapons from the promptlaunch status in which nuclear-armed ballistic missiles are deployed to
be launched in minutes. To jump-start this initiative, the United States
and Russia should agree to take a percentage of their nuclear warheads
off prompt-launch statusremembering Ronald Reagans admonition to
trust but verify.
3. Actions following New START. The progress in the strategic field
has been considerable. Washington should carefully examine going below
New Start levels of warheads and launchers, including the possibility of

Former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger, left, and George P. Shultz join former senator
Sam Nunn and former defense secretary William Perry outside the White House in 2009. The
four had spoken with the president about how to contain, and eventually eliminate, nuclear
weapons.

coordinated mutual actions. Such a course has the following prerequisites:


strict reciprocity; demonstrable verification; and providing adequate and
stable funding for the long-term investments required to maintain high
confidence in our nuclear arsenal.
Consolidating and reducing U.S. and Russian tactical nuclear weapons not covered under New START should also be a high priority. It
must be recognized that as some other nuclear-armed states are building
up their inventories, or if new nuclear powers emerge, U.S. and Russian nuclear reductions face an inherent limit. The nuclear programs of
North Korea and Iran undermine the Non-Proliferation Treaty and pose
a direct threat to regional and global stability. Unless these two states
are brought into compliance with their international obligations, their
continued nuclear programs will erode support for nonproliferation and
further nuclear reductions.

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4. Without verification and transparency, nuclear-security agreements cannot be completed with confidence. The United States should
launch a verification initiative that involves U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories and global scientific experts in developing essential technologies
and innovations for reducing and controlling nuclear weapons and materials. The principle of enhanced transparency could also be applied to
missile defense so long as it doesnt risk capabilities. Taking the lead in
fostering greater transparency sets an important baseline for all nations
and can facilitate future verification of nuclear materials and weapons.
This strategy focused on immediate steps would give leaders greater
confidence to take measures to improve security in the near term. It would
boost prospects for support by legislatures. Close consultations with Congress are crucial.
We also need a new dialogue. In January 2007 we identified practical
steps toward the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. These steps will
involve many nations, not just those currently in possession of nuclear
weapons. Progress will require greater cooperation. The United States
must work with other key states to establish a joint enterprise with common objectives to achieve near-term results. Russia and the United States,
with the largest nuclear stockpiles, have a special responsibility in this
regard.
The Nuclear Security Summits could provide a model for leaders working together to create a joint enterprise that would generate a coalition of
willing states to establish priorities and achieve progress on specific steps.
Essential subjects should be identified in which many nations have a stake,
and to which many must make a contribution. A timetable for meetings
between heads of government would help build a diplomatic structure for
engagement within which foreign ministers, defense ministers, and others
can work together between the meetings of government leaders.
Such a joint enterprise should include and be reinforced by regional dialogues. Top political, defense, and military leaders should explore
with their counterparts a range of practical steps on core security issues.
The Euro-Atlantic regionan area that includes Europe, Russia, and the
United States; four nuclear weapon states; and over 90 percent of global

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nuclear inventorieswill need to play a central role. China and other key
states will need to be engaged both on multilateral issues and within their
own regions.
The continuing risk posed by nuclear weapons remains an overarching
strategic problem, but the pace of work doesnt now match the urgency of
the threat. The consequences of inaction are potentially catastrophic, and
we must continue to ask: how will citizens react to the chaos and suffering
of a nuclear attack? Wont they demand to know what could have been
done to prevent this? Our age has stolen fire from the gods. Can we confine this awesome power to peaceful purposes before it consumes us?
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2013 Dow Jones & Co. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Press is The Nuclear Enterprise:


High-Consequence Accidents: How to Enhance Safety
and Minimize Risks in Nuclear Weapons and Reactors,
edited by George P. Shultz and Sidney D. Drell. To order,
call 800.935.2882 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

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N A T IONAL S EC UR ITY

Drones Sighted
The targeted-killing program gets a ray or two of sunshine. By Amy
B. Zegart.

The Obama White House has deployed a new unmanned aerial vehicle:
the drone trial balloon. According to several well-placed leakers, the CIAs
not-so-secret targeted-killing program will probably be not-so-secretly
handed over to the Pentagon. The news followed the rarest of moments
in American politics: a time when congressional oversight of intelligence
seemed to work.
The governments targeted-killing program went from a hot prospect to
a hot potato with lightning speed for the policy world. Just months ago,
the Obama administration was trumpeting the effectiveness of targetedkilling operations, which have been publicly carried out by the Pentagon in some places and publicly known to be carried out by the CIA in
others, such as Pakistan and Yemen. Republican presidential candidate
Mitt Romney outdroned the president on the campaign trail, saying in
the October 22 presidential debate that he supported the drone strikes
entirely and that we should continue to use [drone technology]...to
continue to go after the people who represent a threat to this nation and
to our friends. To be sure, the ACLU has complained and filed lawsuits,
think tanks have been counting up collateral deaths, and professors have
had a field day debating just-war theory and exploring the creepiness of

Amy B. Zegart is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and an affiliated


faculty member at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.

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remote-control killing. But these criticisms did not move the policy dial
much until February 7, when John Brennan faced his Senate confirmation
hearing to be CIA director.
Brennans hearing was a crucial focal point, the first time anything
resembling a public debate about targeted killing had ever occurred. Brennan wasnt just some sideline figure caught up in someone elses policy
fight, like Chuck Hagel in the Benghazi brouhaha. Targeted killing was
Brennans baby. In his old job as Obamas White House czar for homeland
security and counterterrorism, Brennan had masterminded the program,
from creating the bureaucratic processes determining which agency did
what, right down to naming names for the kill list. In his new job, Brennan would have enormous sway over the CIAs future activities, including
lethal drone strikes.
The timeline is revealing: on February 4, just three days before Brennan was slated to appear before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, someone leaked the administrations drone white paper summarizing the legal arguments used to justify drone strikes against Americans
abroad. Suddenly, senators on the intelligence committee started getting
partial access to some of the legal documents they had been requesting for
months. This may not sound like much, but it beat what they had before:
no access at all. You could hear cracks opening in the drone stonewall all
over town.
The intelligence committees politics and Rand Pauls populist filibuster
proved strange but effective bedfellows.

At Brennans hearing, there were antidrone protesters aplenty, many


with giant posters they had somehow smuggled inside. One by one,
heckling protesters were taken from the hearing room by Capitol police.
But like one of those circus clown cars, more protesters kept appearing, seemingly from nowhere. Committee chair Dianne Feinstein had to
halt the proceedings several times and eventually clear the entire room
before Brennan could finish enough of his opening statement to thank
his ninety-one-year-old mother. It was a powerful scene, and it set the
tone. Senators ranging from Republican Susan Collins to Democrat

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Illustration by Taylor Jones for the Hoover Digest.

Ron Wyden pounded the soon-to-be CIA director on targeted-killing


policy. Brennan responded with a masterful political performance
long on assurances, short on concrete commitments. The White House
promised to release more, but not all, of the drone-related documents
that the committee wanted. That was enough for Feinsteins committee, but not for Rand Paul, the wacky rookie Republican senator from
Kentucky, who delivered a decidedly unwacky thirteen-hour filibuster
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against Brennans confirmation, demanding better answers and greater


transparency in drone policy. Pauls filibuster drew bipartisan support
and tremendous national attention.
The intelligence committees establishment politics and Pauls populist
filibuster proved strange but effective bedfellows. It took just forty-two
days from Brennans hearing to get wind that the CIA might be getting
out of the drone business. Thats warp speed under any circumstances.
Consider this: immediately after 9/11, it took longer to pass the Patriot
Act, and thats back when Republicans and Democrats were singing God
Bless America together on the Capitol steps.
However you feel about targeted killing, this moment was undoubtedly an oversight success, bringing an important policy into the public
domain, where it can be scrutinized, defended, challenged, and discussed
in a vigorous exchange between the legislative and executive branches, all
without compromising national security. Was it pretty? No. But it was
American democracy at its spirited best. And secrecy and accountability
both won.
But dont get used to it. The drone policy shift is the exception that
proves the rule: on most intelligence issues on most days, intelligence
oversight is feckless, and Congress knows it. Ive been on this committee
for more than ten years, Senator Barbara Mikulski told Brennan during
his confirmation, and with the exception of Mr. Panetta, I feel Ive been
jerked around by every CIA director. And thats just what she says in
public.
Its true that no administration lays out the CIA welcome mat for Congress. But Congress lets itself get jerked around far more than it should.
Want to guess how many members of the current Congress have ever
worked in intelligence before? Two. This means that most intelligence
committee members have to learn on the job, which takes the one thing
in shortest supply: time. If legislators want to win the next election, theyre
better off devoting time to other committees that offer pork and other
benefits to folks back home and involve policy issues that they can at least
talk about in public. From a re-election perspective, intelligence committee service is always a political loser. This is no secret. My research
has found that fewer of Congresss most powerful members serve on the

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House and Senate intelligence committees today than they did in the
1980s, even though intelligence is arguably more important and challenging. Whats more, the House still imposes term limits for representatives
serving on the House intelligence committee (almost no other committees have them), ensuring that members have to rotate off just when they
finally know what they are doing.
On most intelligence issues on most days, intelligence oversight is
feckless. Congress knows it.

The Senate, meanwhile, has been holding fewer and fewer public hearings. As Steven Aftergood notes, the committee held only one public hearing in all of 2012, the smallest number of public hearings the committee
has held in at least twenty-five years and possibly ever. To be fair, much
oversight is done in private. But if the drone debate is any guide, the public part counts. A lot.
Reprinted by permission of Foreign Policy (www.foreignpolicy.com). 2013 Foreign Policy Group LLC. All
rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Press is Eyes on Spies:


Congress and the United States Intelligence Community,
by Amy B. Zegart. To order, call 800.935.2882 or visit
www.hooverpress.org.

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N AT I O N AL SE CU R I T Y

A Proxy Air Force


Best known for precisely targeted attacks on terrorists, drones are
now being given much broader missions. By Kenneth Anderson.

Over the past four years, nearly all the attention of commentatorssupportive and critical alikeregarding U.S. counterterrorism operations
abroad has been focused on drone strikes. While drone-warfare issues are
important, it is a mistake for the public debate over U.S. counterterrorism
operations abroad to be so narrowly confined to targeted killing without
considering the broader objective: denying terrorists territory.
Increasingly, the U.S. governments counterterrorism strategy has
embraced the view that although targeted killing of identified terrorist leaders is highly successful and essential, long-term strategy must also ensure
that terrorist groups neither gain control of territory nor maintain territorial
safe havens in which to regroup, train, rebuild, and finally launch attacks
abroad. Counterterrorism thus has a territorial element separate from targeted killing.

c o v e r i n g t h e te r r i to r y
Territorial denial takes two forms. One targets terrorists who establish
safe haven in some ungoverned or lightly governed part of a weak state,
or who are allowed such by a sympathetic state. The terrorist group is able
to inhabit territory as a matter of physical geographyit gets a place to
hidebut it does not politically govern the territory or its population.
Kenneth Anderson is a member of the Hoover Institutions Koret-Taube Task
Force on National Security and Law and a professor of international law at
Washington College of Law, American University, Washington, D.C.

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Illustration by Taylor Jones for the Hoover Digest.

The other form of territorial denial focuses on terrorists attempting to


establish governing control of the areas they inhabit.
The United States might address a territorial terrorist threat by acting
directly, through its own forces, to eliminate the safe haven by striking
not just at the groups leadership but also at its training camps, bases, supply routes, and so forth. Alternatively and more likely, the United States
might address the threat through military and intelligence support to
the legitimate government of the territory. While drone strikes and
targeted killing of individuals figure importantly in denying terrorists safe haven, so too must support for
the local government, because denial
of physical territory
requires a government both
willing and
logistically
able to assert
sovereignty over
the zone.
In current U.S. strategy,
whether in Yemen or in the Horn of Africa,
this involves providing military and intelligence advisers, logistical support, and intelligence resources to bolster the legitimate
government in its conflict with the terrorist
insurgents. Targeted killing of individuals
and denial of space in which to take haven are
complementary elements.
In its territorial-denial role, however, the United
States might act as a partner in something amounting to a conventional counterinsurgency warcarried out by local government partners on the ground with American air, intelligence, and logistical support.
The United States might also go further and serve, in effect, as the air
arm of the local government in what might rise to the level of a civil war
against a terrorist group that seeks to defend its safe havens against the ter-

ritorys legitimate government, but which also has transnational terrorist


aims against the United States.
This is what the U.S. government appears to be doing in Yemen, but without being willing openly to acknowledge becoming a co-belligerent with the
Yemeni government in a civil war against a common enemy of both the U.S. and Yemeni
governments: Al-Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula. Drones
are used in Yemen
not only, or even
mostly, for
target-

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ing individual high-value leaders. More often, drones are used in so-called
signature strikes, which, instead of targeting identified individuals, target
groups of conventional fighters that present characteristics indicating they are
members of hostile forces.
Whatever else happens in Afghanistan, Washington understands that it
cant let that land again become a political territory in the hands of a
terrorist group.

If treated within the framework of targeted killing, air attacks on groups


on the basis of behavioral membership signatures appear to be a relaxation of the standards of individualized targeted killing. Critics might
assert that the U.S. government couldnt figure out who was a target and
who wasnt, so it just blew them all up as a group. However, drone strikes
against groups of fighters are more accurately understood as a type of conventional air targeting in a conventional civil war, in which it is lawful to
target those who appear to be operating as hostile forces.
The Obama administration has not so far been willing to admit that
this is happening, preferring instead to treat signature strikes as part of targeted-killing programs. Presumably it perceives political risk in attempting to explain the distinction. Whatever political difficulties it poses, however, over the long term the deliberate conflation of two distinct kinds of
targeting risks political and legal delegitimation of the crucial paradigm of
individualized targeted killing through drones.

b e yo n d a f g h ani stan
Afghanistan under the Taliban illustrated the risks of allowing a radical terrorist group to incorporate itself into, or operate parallel to, the
political structures of an entire sovereign state. Whatever else happens in
Afghanistan, the U.S. national security establishment understands that
it cannot allow Afghanistan again to become a political territory in the
hands of a terrorist group that has both governing control (of the territorys population, institutions, resources, and legitimacy, however narrow)
and ambitions to commit acts of terrorism abroad.
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

But Afghanistan is not the only place where this is a concern. Mali, for
example, presents some of the same issues of political control of territory.
The Islamist forces battling the government seek not merely physical space
but governance. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has ambitions
within Mali as well as outside. It is therefore unsurprising that the United
States is backing efforts by France and other countries to deny both aims.
And in this case, concerns of the United States and other countries about
terrorism overlap with concerns about human rights in the brutal, indeed
horrific, governance of zones AQIM already controls, as well as with traditional international concerns for re-establishing the recognized sovereign
government of Mali.
The U.S. government certainly does not want to engage in more
ground wars.
In some cases, as in Yemen, it is willing to act as the governments air arm
in a civil war. In other cases, U.S. support might go to non-state armed
groups, whether as alternatives or supplements to the national government.
Those groups might start out as human intelligence networks. But as situations evolve (in Afghanistan, for example) they might become something
much closer to proxy forces, supplied and supported by the U.S. government as a mechanism of denying political territory to terrorist groups. There
is much to recommend this strategy as a whole; it goes without saying, of
course, that it also raises a host of legal, moral, and political legitimacy questions distinct from those raised by drone warfare alone.
Reprinted from Advancing a Free Society (www.advancingafreesociety.org). 2013 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Press is Living with the U.N.:


American Responsibilities and International Order, by
Kenneth Anderson. To order, call 800.935.2882 or visit
www.hooverpress.org.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

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R AC E

Gifted Hands
A remarkable book titled Gifted Hands tells the personal story of Benjamin Carson, a black kid from the Detroit ghetto who went on to become
a renowned neurosurgeon.
At one time young Ben Carson had the lowest grades in his middle
school class and was the butt of teasing by his white classmates. Worse
yet, he himself believed that he was just not smart enough to do the work.
Fortunately for him, his mother, whose own education went no further
than the third grade, insisted that he was smart. She cut off the television
set and made him and his brother hit the booksbooks that she could
scarcely read.
As young Bens schoolwork began to catch up with that of his classmates, and then began to surpass that of his classmates, his whole view of
himself and of the wider world began to change. He began to think that
he wanted to become a doctor.
There were a lot of obstacles to overcome along the way, including the
fact that his mother had to be away from time to time for psychiatric treatment, as she tried to cope with the heavy pressures of trying to raise two
boys whose father had deserted the family that she now had to support on
a maids wages.
In many ways the obstacles facing young Ben Carson were like those
faced by so many other youngsters in the ghetto. What was different was
Thomas Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public
Policy at the Hoover Institution.

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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

With a mother who refuses to let him fail, a young black man grows
up to be a neurosurgeon. By Thomas Sowell.

Dr. Benjamin Carson, chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine,
addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in March.

that he overcame those obstacles with the help of a truly heroic mother
and the values she instilled in him.
It is an inspiring personal story, told plainly and unpretentiously, including the continuing challenges he faced later as a neurosurgeon operating
on the brains of people with life-threatening medical problems, often with
the odds against them.
To me it was a personal story in another sense, that some of his experiences as a youngster brought back experiences that I went through growing up in Harlem many years earlier.
I could understand all too well what it was like to be the lowest-performing child in a class. That was my situation in the fourth grade, after

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my family had moved up from the South, where I had been one of the
best students in the third gradebut in a grossly inferior school system.
Now I sometimes found myself in tears because it was so hard to try to
get through my homework.
Benjamin Carsons mother cut off the television and made him and his
brother hit the booksbooks that she could scarcely read.

But in one sense I was much more fortunate than Ben Carson and
other black youngsters today.
The shock of being in a school whose standards were higher than I
was able at first to meet took place in an all-black school in Harlem, so
that there were none of the additional complications that such an experience can have for a black youngster in a predominantly white school.
By the time I first entered a predominantly white school I had already
caught up, and had no trouble with the schoolwork. Decades later, in the
course of running a research project, I learned that the Harlem school
where I had had so much trouble catching up had an average IQ of 84
when I was there.
In the predominantly white school to which I later went, I was put
in a class for children with IQs of 120 and up and had no trouble competing with them. But I would have been totally wiped out if I had
gone there two years earlierand who knows what racial hang-ups that
might have led to?
Chance plays a big part in everyones life. But you dont need parents
with PhDs to make sure you make the most of your education.

Chance plays a large part in everyones life. The home in which you are
raised is often a big part of luck being on your side or against you. But
you dont need parents with PhDs to make sure that you make the most
of your education.
The kinds of things that statisticians can measure, such as family
income or parents education, are not the crucial things. The familys attitudes toward education and life can make all the difference.
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Virtually everything was against young Ben Carson except for his
mothers attitudes and values. But armed with her outlook, he was able to
fight his way through many battles, including battles to control his own
temper, as well as external obstacles.
Today, Dr. Benjamin Carson is a renowned neurosurgeon at a renowned
institution, Johns Hopkins University. But what got him there was wholly
different from what is being offered to many ghetto youths today, much
of which is not merely futile but counterproductive.
Reprinted by permission of Creators Syndicate (www.creators.com). 2013 Creators Syndicate Inc. All
rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Press is Ever Wonder Why?


And Other Controversial Essays, by Thomas Sowell. To
order, call 800.935.2882 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

139

I NT ERVIEW

Calming the Political


Waters
Hoover fellow Peter Berkowitz talks about the subtle power of
constitutional conservatism. By Jennifer Rubin.

Just as Republicans are debating what sort of party they should have and
what sort of conservatism they can practice and still win elections, along
comes an important and highly readable book by Hoover senior fellow
Peter Berkowitz, Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government,
and Political Moderation.
The books brevity is deceiving. It packs in a lota history of modern
conservatism, an erudite discussion of the tone and temperament of conservatism, and a calmly reasoned guide to the future of the conservative
movement. At a time when conservatism has gotten screechy, Berkowitz
reminds us it is a political disposition based on reasoned moderation, civil
discourse, and respect for the institutions and habits of our fellow citizens. He also takes on the notion that moderation is a four-letter word.
Instead he explains that it is not simply split-the-baby compromising but
rather an appreciation of competing interests and values and a respect for
unintended consequences and aversion to rash action.

Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover
Institution, the chairman of Hoovers Koret-Taube Task Force on National Security and Law, and co-chairman of Hoovers Boyd and Jill Smith Task Force
on Virtues of a Free Society. Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn column for
the Washington Post.

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Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post: Why this book and why now?
Peter Berkowitz: I wrote this book in response to several observations.
First, in the immediate aftermath of President Obamas victory in November 2008, prominent figures as well as rank-and-file members of the two
main camps of conservatismsocial conservatism and economic conservatism or libertarianismdenigrated the other camp and contemplated
breaking the conservative alliance. This struck me as electoral folly and it
seemed to reflect a misunderstanding or forgetting of the principles that
can and should unite conservatives of various stripes. Second, prominent
progressivesamong them the New Yorkers George Packer, the Washington Posts E. J. Dionne, and the New York Timess Sam Tanenhausproclaimed the death of conservatism, which seemed a tad premature. Third,
the emergence of the tea party as a formidable political force in the spring
of 2009 and its contribution to major success in the 2010 elections suggested that devotion to limited government and free markets continued
to enjoy strong popular support in America. Fourth, in the campaign for
the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, the tendency of GOP
leaders to stake out extreme and inflexible positions exhibited, I believed,
an erroneous view about how best to honor conservative principles.
The tendency to take one single principle, right, or policy to an extreme
is endemic to politics.

I came to the conclusion that it was necessary to restate the connection


between liberty, self-government, and political moderation. Constitutional
Conservatism represents my attempt to do so. The book contains chapters
on Edmund Burke, The Federalist, and the high points of postWorld War
II American conservatism. You could sum up the results in three propositions:
First, social conservatives and libertarians should rally around, and
rededicate themselves to conserving, the principles of liberty inscribed in
the United States Constitution.
Second, dedication to conserving these principles of liberty would yield
an alliance among conservatives that is both philosophically coherent and
politically potent.

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141

Third, both the philosophical coherence and the political potency


derive in significant measure from the lesson of moderation inscribed in
the Constitution and in modern conservatism more generally.
The defense of political moderation is always needed because the tendency to take one single principle, right, or policy to an extreme is endemic to politics, yet we are called upon, particularly in a liberal democracy,
to balance and blend competing principles, rights, and policies as times
change and as new opportunities and threats emerge and others recede.
The essence of political moderation in a free society is balancing and
blending competing and worthy principles for the sake of liberty.

The defense of political moderation is particularly needed now because


we have lost sight of the connection between liberty and tradition. This
allows some conservatives to believe that you can preserve liberty without attending very much to tradition, and it allows others to believe that
you can preserve tradition without attending very much to liberty. As I
understand it, political moderation in a liberal democracy above all means
balancing the competing claims of liberty and tradition.
Rubin: We tend to think our age is unique and battles between moderates and purists, libertarians and conservatives are new. But you make a
powerful case that it always has been so. Are these the tensions inherent in
every generation of conservatives?
Berkowitz: There are indeed tensions inherent in every generation of
conservatives, and certainly in every generation of modern conservatives. The defining goal of modern conservatism, the conservatism whose
founding father is the great eighteenth-century British statesman Edmund
Burke, is the conservation of liberty. At the same time, Burke esteemed
tradition not only for its intrinsic worth but also because of its contribution to liberty. Tradition, and the practices and institutions that embody
ittraditional morality, family, faith, and the associations of civil societycultivate the virtues on which liberty depends.
Yet liberty and tradition also conflict. Doing as you want or as you
think best is often at odds with doing as has been done in the past or as
authoritative figures think wise.
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Some conservatives naturally gravitate toward conserving the principles


of limited government and economic liberty. Others are devoted to conserving the principles of traditional morality, the family, religious faith,
and civil society. It would be highly desirable to have more conservatives
who appreciate that precisely because conserving both liberty and tradition is essential, some trade-offs will be necessary.
Rubin: Moderation, as you point out, has gotten a bad rap for mushiness
or mechanical horse-trading. You argue it is something different. Perhaps
heterogeneity or fusion (Frank S. Meyers term) would be better. Whats the
essence of conservative moderation and have you seen examples of such
(e.g., Paul Ryans Roadmap for America or George W. Bush on immigration reform) that embody that ethos? Should we replace moderation with
prudence or restraint or balance?
Berkowitz: Yes, moderation has a bad name, and in some quarters it
always has. In Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke observed that
one who seeks to defend a scheme of liberty soberly limited is likely to
be accused of lacking fidelity to his cause. Purists, he says, will denounce
moderation as the virtue of cowards and will condemn compromise as
the prudence of traitors.
Nevertheless, I prefer to stick with the term moderationor better
still, political moderationbecause heterogeneity is very abstract and fusion
(which Meyer did not care for) suggests that conservative principles can
only be held together by some ineffable cosmic force.
A government that is limited to enumerated powers but which
nevertheless performs its assigned tasks energetically reflects the
original aim of the Constitution.

The political moderation I defend has nothing to do with splitting


the difference or compromise for the sake of compromise. The essence of
political moderation in a free society is balancing and blending competing and worthy principles for the sake of liberty. And the essence of conservative political moderation is recognizing the mutual dependence and
mutual tension between liberty and tradition.

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Political moderation is bound up with an appreciation of the imperfections of human nature, respect for the limits of human knowledge, and
recognition of the significance of circumstances in coloring conduct and
shaping options. Together, these yield a generally empirical, skeptical, and
anti-utopian sensibility.
I enjoy the occasional polemical takedown and evisceration as much as
the next guy.

And yes, Paul Ryans Roadmap for America and President George W.
Bushs and now Senator Marco Rubios proposals on immigration reform
do exhibit the spirit of political moderation. Their efforts reflect a determination to honor competing and worthy principles to the extent possible
in a complex, murky, and fluid political world. I dont say that their solutions are the best or that they have struck the balance just right, but the
spirit in which they have approached the challenge is salutary.
We should not replace moderation with prudence, restraint, or balance.
Rather, we should understand that political moderation consists in the
exercise of restraint, the application of prudence, and the accomplishment
of balance.
Rubin: You look to constitutional conservatism as a legal and historic
basis for conservatism, but is there a danger that purists will use that in
ways that dont honor the reform aspect of successful conservatism and
that stress the impossible (i.e., small government)?
Berkowitz: All ideas are subject to misuse and abuse; the idea of constitutional conservatism is no exception. Purists will contend that a return to
the Constitution means a return to the most literal and mechanical reading of it. Constitutional conservatism well understood, however, recognizes that the Constitutions meaning is a function not only of constitutional
text but also of constitutional structure and constitutional history and
appreciates that the framers of the Constitution so understood the matter.
To take the example you mention, a constitutional conservative would
avoid talk of small government, which evokes delusive dreams of preindustrial America, and seek instead to restore limited but energetic government. A government that is limited to enumerated powers but which
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nevertheless performs its assigned tasks energetically reflects the original


aim of the Constitution. Given our unwieldy, inefficient, intrusiveand,
if nothing is done, soon-to-be-insolventfederal government, devotion
to limited and energetic government demands a robust reform agenda.
Rubin: Aside from the content of the policy positions, are you concerned
that the tone of conservative debate has become anything but conservativethat is, too imprudent, radical, and impatient?
Berkowitz: Yes, I am concerned about the impatience, imprudence, and
even radicalism I sometimes hear in conservative voices. At the same time,
we live in a freewheeling democracy. I dont expect radio talk show hosts to
sound like statesmen, and I dont begrudge their listeners the pleasure that
comes from occasional over-the-top invective directed at political opponents (Republicans as well as Democrats!) or hyperbolic lamentation for
the future of the country.
I enjoy the occasional polemical takedown and evisceration as much as
the next guy. And there is a role in our politics for publicists who preach to
the choir. But I do worry when candidates and elected officials sound like,
take their cues from, and pander to entertainers, polemicists, and publicists.
Rubin: Say you are a Republican congressman. You signed the anti-tax
pledge at a time when debt was manageable and either a GOP president
or reasonable Democrat was in the White House. Without necessarily
telling us what you think such a person should support, take us through
the thought process of a constitutional conservative in trying to wrangle
through multiple concerns, public opinion, changed circumstances, etc.
Berkowitz: There are certainly circumstances in which it can be reasonable to adamantly oppose tax increases. We live in a progressive era. The
federal government is incessantly expanding, and Democrats are refusing
to take seriously profligate spending, massive annual deficits, and a skyrocketing national debt. In this situation, a determination to oppose tax
increases can even be seen as an instrument of balance.
But generally speaking, politics is not a sphere in which it is wise to
make absolute and irrevocable policy decrees. Thats because you can
count on circumstances changing, unanticipated contingencies coming to
the fore, and emergencies erupting out of nowhere. In addition, it is good
to preserve the freedom to maneuver. For example, an absolute refusal to

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contemplate tax increases takes off the table a deal in which spending cuts
substantially exceed tax increases.
The conservative task today is to promote limited government, a strong
defense, a dynamic economy, a vibrant civil society, and more individual
freedom and more individual responsibility. Resisting tax increases generally serves conservative goals. But we should not forget that the policy
of opposing new taxes is an instrument to secure and expand liberty and
should not be seen as an end in itself.
Rubin: Do you see conservative politicians or thought leaders embodying
the spirit of moderation that you see? Can you give us some names?
Berkowitz: I do, especially among those who represent the future of
the GOP. For starters, there are Representative Paul Ryan, Senator Marco
Rubio, and my friend Thomas Cotton, newly elected to Congress to represent Arkansass 4th District. All show that firm devotion to conservative principles is not only consistent with accommodation, balancing, and
calibration on behalf of liberty but that accommodation, balancing, and
calibration are themselves conservative imperatives essential to translating
conservative principles into practice.
Rubin: Finally, conservatives seem to be mad at the electorate, worried that
theyve gone to seed and are virtually incapable of self-restraint and hence
self-government. What would the history of modern conservatism and constitutional conservatism teach us about that perception, real or imagined?
Berkowitz: Constitutional conservatism counsels restraint in the face of
the perception that the electorate has lost its capacity for self-restraint and
self-government.
It is instructive to recall that Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist No.
1, highlighted the numerous obstacles that proponents of the Constitution would face in winning a fair consideration on the merits for the
new charter of government. Some, he noted, would oppose the Constitution because of their interest in maintaining a perilous status quo.
Some would undermine ratification in the hopes of profiting from the
ensuing disarray. Some good men would support the Constitution for
the wrong reasons. And, as with all questions of political significance,
wise men would be found on both sides of the issue. This chastening
spectacle, Hamilton declared, would furnish a lesson of moderation to
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those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any
controversy.
The chastening spectacle, and the lesson of moderation it taught in the
eighteenth century, has much to teach us about our own time. Hamiltons
lesson of moderation did not only concern the debate over the Constitution.
In enumerating the difficulties the Constitution faced in obtaining a fair
hearing, Hamilton brought into focus the perennial clamor and cacophony
of public debate in a free society, and the nature of the human beingsvery
often contentious, narrowly self-interested, and in the grips of passion and
poorly-thought-out opinionfor whom the Constitution was designed.
In addition to keeping in mind Hamiltons lesson of moderation, common sense counsels that projecting an angry or disdainful attitude toward
the electorate is a good way to persuade voters to elect the other partys
candidates.
Liberty and tradition conflict.

All that said, constitutional conservatism calls attention to the precarious condition of traditional morality today, the threats to the family, the
decline of religious faith, and the weakening of civil society. In doing so,
it remains keenly aware of the limited tools that the federal government
has at its disposal, and so will often seek to work with states, local governments, the private sector, and civil society to achieve reform.
In sum, much work is to be done reforming our politics the better to
conserve our liberty. Constitutional conservatism well understood, I
believe, describes the spirit in which that work is best undertaken.
Reprinted by permission of the Washington Post. 2013 Washington Post Co. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Press is Constitutional


Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government, and Political
Moderation, by Peter Berkowitz. To order, call
800.935.2882 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

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I NT ERVIEW

An Endless Struggle
Scholars Bernard Lewis and Norman Podhoretz ponder the Arab
spring and the chilly season to come. An interview with Peter
Robinson.

Peter Robinson, Uncommon Knowledge: A master of more than


half a dozen languages, the first Western scholar ever permitted into the
archives of the Ottoman empire, and by universal consent, the most influential historian of Islam and of the Middle East in the past half century:
Bernard Lewis is professor emeritus of Near Eastern studies at Princeton.
Dr. Lewiss most recent book, written with Buntzie Ellis Churchill, is
Notes on a Century: Reflections of a Middle East Historian.
Recognized from youth as a brilliant writer and critic, Norman Podhoretz studied at Columbia with Lionel Trilling and at Cambridge with F. R.
Leavis. For three and a half decades he served as editor in chief of Commentary magazine, making a public and notorious intellectual journey
from left to right. In 2004, Norman Podhoretz received the Presidential
Medal of Freedom. Bernard Lewis and Norman Podhoretz, welcome to
Uncommon Knowledge.
Norman Podhoretz: Thank you.

Norman Podhoretz was the editor of Commentary magazine from 1960 to


1995. Bernard Lewis is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near
Eastern Studies at Princeton University and author of The End of Modern History in the Middle East (Hoover Press, 2011). Peter Robinson is the editor of
the Hoover Digest, the host of Uncommon Knowledge, and a research fellow
at the Hoover Institution.

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Robinson: We want to talk about the Middle East and how to understand
the Arab world. Bernard, quoting you in an interview you recently gave to
the Jerusalem Post, Democracy is a political concept that has no history,
no record whatever in the Arab Islamic world. The Arab Islamic world
comes into being around 700 or so. Theres one little shot at democracy
in 1950 and it doesnt work. But why should this be that while Europe
is developing democracy, in the Arab world it simply does not take root?
Bernard Lewis: Well, we have to understand what we mean when we
use the word democracy. We tend to use the word to mean our kind of
democracy.
Robinson: Right.
Lewis: Regular elections, free elections, fair elections, and if the government has been defeated, it removes itself from power, hands over to the
opposition. I think
its unreasonable that
we should expect the
rest of the world to
accept our methods
and our traditions.
Our methods have
grown of our history. They have a different history. And they have,
also, a tradition of limited responsible government and it works in a
different way. The magic word in the Muslim Middle East is consultation. In the premodern Middle East, there were many institutions in
whichand this is the really important pointpower arose not from
above but from within.
Robinson: These would be Cairo, Damascus...
Lewis: ...Istanbul and so on, and all these places that had these organizations where, as I said, power came from within the group and not from
outside. Theres a fascinating letter written by the French ambassador in
Istanbul a few years before the French Revolution. He had been instructed
to carry on certain negotiations with the Ottoman government and they
were proceeding very slowly. And he received a rather sharp reprimand
from Paris saying, you know, why the hell dont you get on with it? Why
are you taking so long? And the ambassador wrote a memorable reply,

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which Ive often quoted. He said here it is not like in France, where the
king is sole master and does as he pleases. He said here the sultan has to
consult. The sultan had to consult with all sorts of different institutions
where power or authority arose from within the group.
That was certainly the case before modernization. The tragedy is that
all that was destroyed by modernization. It was the process of modernization which made the Middle East in that respect a much worse place.
Because what modernization did was to vastly increase the power of the
state, the power of supervision and control, and vastly reduce the authority of the various local institutions.
The magic word in the Muslim Middle East is consultation. In the
premodern Middle East, there were many institutions in which . . .
power arose not from above but from within.

Robinson: Norman, President Obama, in an address in Cairo on June


4, 2009, shortly after he was inaugurated the first time, said, Ive come
here to Cairo to seek a new beginning with the United States and Muslims
around the world. He went on to talk about common interests, mutual
respect. How did that work out?
Podhoretz: Well, it not only did not work out in the terms in which he
stressed it, but it worked out very much the opposite. That speech is notorious because its taken by many people, including me, to be the beginning
of the so-called apology tour in which the new president went around
explaining that the United States had much to answer for, misdeeds that
he felt he had to expiate, and thats what he meant by a new beginning.
Were going to understand that we, as the United States, are at fault, at
least as much as our former adversaries, and that we come together in
mutual respect.
Well, my own view of that speech, among the many other things Ive
found wrong and in fact, contemptible about it, was that many of the
misdeeds that he was abstractly referring to were imaginary. If you wanted
to draw up a balance sheet in our relations with the Arab-Muslim world,
you would have to take into account the fact that the United States, even
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in recent times, went to war several times in aid of Muslim populations


Serbia, Kosovoand even in our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This had the effect of liberating millions of Muslims from local tyrannies. Of course, the long-range consequences are not so promising as they
might have been.
The so-called Arab spring, which was taken by many people to be a
promising beginning of a democratization of that world, has turned out
to be much more like an Arab winter. The fact that there have been free
elections in Egypt, for example, is no great consolation. It brought to
power the Muslim Brotherhood, which in my view, is a far worse regime
and also adversary of the United States than the Mubarak regime was. And
I think that you will find that in Syria, when and if Assad falls, a similar
group will take over.
Robinson: Bernard, again in this interview in the Jerusalem Post, Im
quoting you: I dont think the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is in any
sense benign. I think it is a very dangerous, radical, Islamic movement.
If they obtain power, the consequences would be disastrous for Egypt.
They have obtained power.
Lewis: Yes.
Robinson: They control the Parliament. They elected a president. Within a few weeks the new president of the country, a member of the Muslim
Brotherhood, had removed from office the highest-ranking military officer, demonstrating his dominance within the country.
Now, the theory is that they may be bad now, anti-American, radical,
but democracy will shape them up. Theyll be forced to build some power
plants and make sure that garbage gets removed and see to all the little
pacifying duties that democratic governments must see to in order to get
reelected. Do you buy it?
Lewis: No, I dont. As has happened in other places where we impose
democracy, the government that was freely elected came into power and
then tried to make sure that it would not leave by the same route by which
it came.
Robinson: So what you would expect in Egypt is a replay of Turkey in
1950.
Lewis: Yes. I mean, the definition of democracy is a free election once.

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O N EX C E P T I O NALI SM
Robinson: Weve talked a bit about the Arab world. Lets talk about this
country, and American exceptionalism. Two quotations. First, Norman
Podhoretz speaking this past autumn at Hillsdale College: Once upon
a time, hardly anyone dissented from the idea that the United States of
America was different from other nations. President Barack Obama in
France in 2008: I believe in American exceptionalism just as I suspect
that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in
Greek exceptionalism.
Norman, how did we go from once upon a time when everybody
understood this country was different to, oh well, were no different from
the Brits or the Greeks? What happened?
Podhoretz: The corruption of the culture is what happened. And our educational system, starting practically in kindergarten, has inculcated a view
of the United States which was very different from the one that people of
our generation grew up with. American history is generally seen as a series of
oppressions of one group or another and this has led, at the very least, to what
we nowadays call a multiculturalist perspective, in which all cultures are equal
except for ours. We are exceptional in the sense of being exceptionally bad.
Robinson: Right.
The fact that there have been free elections in Egypt, for example, is no
great consolation.

Podhoretz: Now, the point I made in that talk stands, I believe. Even
today, I think most people outside the United States regard us as exceptional in the sense of different. Now the debate began with the very
founding of the country whether this exceptionalism was a good thing or
a bad thing, and there were passionate views on both sides. And as time
went on, the exceptionalism of the United States, that is, the fact that it
was distinctive, different from all other countries on the face of the earth,
became more and more manifest. But hardly anyone, until recently, would
have said the United States is no different from other countries.
Robinson: Bernard, by upbringing and temperament and deportment,
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ness of American exceptionalism? Or do people like Norman and me get


carried away?
Lewis: No, I think there is an American exceptionalism, but Im not sure
that we would define it in the same way. I vividly remember my first
impressions as a newcomersome positive, some negative. The first negative impression that I had was the pattern of discrimination by race, by
sex, by religion, by all kinds of things. So the sort of thing that in England
would have been unknown and impossible. Hotels that wouldnt accept
guests of this or that kind.
Ive become an octogenarian and if Ive acquired any wisdom at all, it
consists in taking at face value the threats of ones enemies.

The positive thing which, again, was very different from us was the
acceptance of the newcomer. In Englandand this I know personally
because I was part of the British service during the warfor any position
of trust, you had to have at least two generations of British birth. So, for
example, the career of a Henry Kissinger would have been impossible in
England. Not because he was Jewishwe have Jews rising into high positionsbut because he was a naturalized immigrant. On the other hand,
the career of a Margaret Thatcher would have been impossible in America.
A woman who became the leader of her party, led it through an election,
won that election, and formed a government.

O N I M P ER I ALI SM
Robinson: Again, two quotations. President Obama speaking in 2009
in Cairo: We meet at a time of great tension between the United States
and Muslims. Tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and
opportunities to many Muslims and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies.
Quotation number two: Bernard Lewis, in the interview with the Jerusalem Post in 2011: People who talk about American imperialism in the
Middle East either know nothing about America or know nothing about
the Middle East.
Lewis: Or both.
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Robinson: Or both. Bernard, so the president of the United States, at


some basic level, did not know what he was talking about in Cairo.
Lewis: You know, thats not unprecedented.
Robinson: What is it that he doesnt understand about the United States
and/or the Middle East to suggest that weve been imperialists there? Or
at minimum, overbearing there?
Lewis: It depends what you mean by imperialism. I think that one might
not unreasonably use the term imperialist to describe some of the processes by which the original small group of states increased to the present number. But as applied to American policyin the Middle East, it is
absurdly inappropriate. To take the two classical examples of imperialism,
when the Romans went to Britain two thousand years ago or when the
British went to India three hundred years ago, an exit strategy did not
figure prominently among their concerns.
You have a country like Iran, which of course is Muslim and which
repeatedly declares its intention to wipe Israel off the map. And many
people still say its rhetoric.

Robinson: So the American role in the Middle Eastlets say from the
end of the Second World War when FDR has his famous meeting on
shipboard with the king of Saudi Arabia right through the invasion of
Iraqwas, on balance, benign.
Lewis: Yes.
Robinson: Youd argue that?
Lewis: I would....Its sometimes mistaken but it was never malevolent.
Podhoretz: Its fascinating that you bring up that meeting. When you
look back, its astonishing to realize that Roosevelt was more worried about
British imperialism than Soviet imperialism. And this is a measure of the
American attitude toward imperialism. I mean, here was a WASP aristocrat and you would expect him to be Anglophile and passionate about
defending England. And he thought the great danger that we faced in the
postwar period was British imperialism.
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Theres an anti-imperialist streak in American political culture that


is much deeper than anything that you could legitimately describe as
imperialism. We invaded Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein. Now, if we
had been engaged in an imperialist adventure at that point, we would
have settled in permanently, we would have run the country, exploited
it. Many opponents of the invasion said we were there for the oil. Well,
not only were we not there for the oil, we helped them restore their production of oil. You could almost say the United States in its adventures
abroad was more exploited than exploiterfrom an economic point of
view, certainly.

C U R R E N T S O F MO D E R NI SM
Robinson: Now, as for what the Arabs want. Do the radicals in the world
of Islam genuinely wish to reestablish some kind of caliphate?
Lewis: Well, I dont know whether I would use the word caliphate, but
they certainly wish to establish Islamic political order and social order, yes.
Robinson: That seems clear to you, as well?
Podhoretz: Absolutely clear. I mean, they say it all the time.
Lewis: Exactly.
Robinson: And you take them seriously.
Podhoretz: Well, Ive become an octogenarian and if Ive acquired any
wisdom at all, it consists in taking at face value the threats of ones enemies. Theres a kind of pathology at work in the world that refuses to
believe. Somebody says I want to kill you, you say, well, you cant possibly mean that.
Robinson: Beginning with Mein Kampfoh, he didnt really mean it.
Podhoretz: Right. And we can do business with Herr Hitler, as Chamberlain said it. So you have a country like Iran, which of course is Muslim
and which repeatedly declares its intention to wipe Israel off the map. And
many people still say its rhetoric. I remember the late Hannah Arendt
described the rhetoric of Eichmann, who said he would go to his grave
happy at the thought of having massacred millions of Jews. And she said
this was sheer rodomontade, my fancy word that means exaggerated rhetoric, red meat for the...
Lewis: For the base.
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Podhoretz: Well, he meant it, and Hitler meant it, and Ahmadinejad
means it. And I think the Muslim Brotherhood means it.
Robinson: Bernard, why is it if the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to reestablish what they understand as the greatness of Islam, why arent they
listening to you and thinking of looking within their own political tradition to re-establish some kind of consultative, balanced, prudent, wise
political order of the kind that, at its best, did characterize the Islamic
world? Instead, theyre crazy, radical hotheads. Is that fair? They dont
seem to understand their own history and tradition, is that so?
Lewis: Yes. Unfortunately, as I said before, the process of modernization...
Robinson: When you say modernization, what do you mean? You mean
the collapse of the Ottoman empire after the end of the First World War?
Lewis: I mean the introduction of modern science, technology, business, etc., all the features of modern life, including most especially, communication.
Robinson: So when you say that they will sink back to medieval squalor,
its because they actually consider these developments antithetical to their
own civilization, to their own religion?
Lewis: Well, they would use those developments in order to restore what
they imagine to be the golden age of Islam.
We can refrain from supporting tyrants.

Podhoretz: Well, let me quote Bernard Lewis himself. Bernard once


pointed out in a passage that I have quoted at least six times in print that
the modern political Islamic radicalism owes as much to both communism and Nazism as it does to the traditions of Islam. He points out that
the Germans came into the Middle East during World War II with their
political program and organization. And when the war was over, the Communists moved in and the political forces, the Islamic political forces, also
learned a lot of lessons from the Communists in how to operate politically.
So you had these two major totalitarian forces in the twentieth century
basically invading the seventh-century culture of the Islamic world, and it
led to what I like to call Islamofascism.
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Lewis: And the important principle which I think needs to be remembered is an Arabic saying: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And since
the dominant civilization of the Western world was the Western democratic system, we were seen as the wicked imperialists who were dominating the Middle East and therefore, our enemies were their friends. During
the Nazi period they were pro-Nazi, and after that they were pro-Soviet.

N EV E R E N DI NG STR U G G LE
Robinson: Bernard Lewis writing in 1990 in the Atlantic: Islam has
brought comfort and peace of mind to countless millions of men and
women. It inspired a great civilization. But Islam has also known periods
when it inspired in some of its followers a mood of hatred and violence.
It is our misfortune that part of the Muslim world is now going through
such a period, and that much of that hatred is directed against us.
The Khomeini regime turned out to be far worse for the people living
under it and certainly, for our interests, than the shah.

And the most important questions of the day lie right in that one paragraph. Why are they going through such a period of hatred now? And why
do they direct their hatred against us?
Lewis: In Muslim perception, there is an endless struggle going on
between the true believers and the misbelievers. And this struggle will
go on until the final stage, when the true believers will triumph and the
misbelievers will be conquered and either converted or subjugated. Now,
theres a widespread belief among Muslims at the present time that that
time is the present or immediately approaching.
Robinson: We live in the end times.
Lewis: Yes, we live at the end of time. And a lot of things happening in
the world do give some support to that. We live at the end of time; this is
the final stage when we will get to our final destinations. And that means
that mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent. Its an inducement.
Robinson: Bernard, one more quotation from you. This is from your
latest book, Notes on a Century. The Arabs have gone through some bad
times, but there are elements in their society which can be nurtured to

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develop into some limited consensual government in their own cultural


tradition. What can we do, if anything, to nurture those elements?
Lewis: We can refrain from supporting tyrants.
Robinson: Refrain from supporting tyrants.
Lewis: Yes. I mean, we have a record, unfortunately, in modern times of
judging people entirely by one factor: are they with us or against us?
Robinson: So you accept part of Obamas critique of the Cold War that
we propped up Mubarak, we propped up the regime...
Lewis: Well, Mubarak wasnt so bad.
Robinson: All right.
Podhoretz: Well, you always have to ask the question compared to
what?
Lewis: Exactly.
Podhoretz: I remember the shah of Iran, who was a modernizer eager to
grant equal rights to women and who was hated by the Muslims for what
we would consider his virtues, not his vices. And we sat by and allowed
Khomeini to overthrow him and everybody said wonderful, wonderful.
The Khomeini regime turned out to be far worse for the people living
under it and certainly, for our interests, than the shah.
Lewis: But worst of all for the Iranians.
Podhoretz: And worst of all for the Iranians. And so you always have to
ask what the alternatives are. There are those who keep telling us that there
are these hidden liberals in the Arab world we should support. Ive been
hearing that for twenty years now. And where are they hiding? one asks.

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H I ST O R Y AN D CU L T U R E

Margaret and Ron


The unlikely friendship that changed the world. By Peter Robinson.

Has a friendship ever seemed more unlikely? Genial and easygoing, Ronald
Reagan grinned readily, swapped jokes, and put people at ease instinctively.
Margaret Thatcher worked incessantly, always pressing everyone around her
for more facts, details, and statistics. You would not have called her presence relaxing, says John OSullivan, who wrote speeches for Thatcher at
Number 10 Downing Street. Bracingthat would be the better word.
Reagan, the former actor, saw in world affairs a parti-colored pageant
in which good combated evil. Thatcher, the former chemist, saw complex
actions and reactions. He was intuitive. She was analytical. He told stories.
She argued policy. He exhibited the relaxed glamour of Hollywood, where
he rose to fame; she, the earnest striving of Finchley, the suburban London
constituency that elected her to Parliament.
Yet the president and the prime minister cherished each other.
Shed come steaming into the Oval Office, and there was always something upsetting her, says Judge William P. Clark, who served as Reagans
national security adviser. Instead of complaining to the president, shed turn
to me and say, Judge Clark, how could you have permitted that to happen?
The president would get that catbird grin of his and look at me as if to say,
Yeah, Bill, how in the hell could you have let that happen? He always got the
biggest kick out of her. And you could tell she enjoyed him just as much.
How could two such disparate personalities have responded to each other so warmly? One answer, of course, is simply that boy met girl. Reagan
Margaret Thatcher was an honorary fellow at the Hoover Institution. Peter
Robinson is the editor of the Hoover Digest, the host of Uncommon Knowledge, and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

always liked intelligent, ambitious women, while Thatcher admired self-confident men. When Margaret walked into the room, recalls Edwin Meese III,
who served as counselor to the president, the president lit up.
Yet there is a second answer. Reagan and Thatcher needed each other. During the 1981 Ottawa summit of the Group of Seven, for example, Thatcher
took Reagan aside to lecture him. In recent speeches, she reminded him, he had
spoken of a rising tide of neutralism in Europe. Reagan, Thatcher insisted,
should keep such observations to himself. Not that she disagreed with him. But
the more Reagan talked about a rising tide of neutralism, Thatcher insisted,
the more he offended Europeans, contributing to that very tide.
How did Reagan respond? By taking Thatchers advice.
The incident provides a neat illustration of the way Thatcher served as a
go-between. In Ottawa, she explained the Europeans to Reagan. Elsewhere
she explained Reagan to the Europeans. Working back and fortha conversation here, a speech thereThatcher made it impossible for Reagan to dismiss
the Europeans as effete or for the Europeans to dismiss Reagan as a cowboy.
For Reagan, the unity of the Western alliance proved imperativehad Europe
begun drifting away, he would have struggled to prevent America from becoming isolated, less capable of applying new pressure to the Soviet Unionand
Thatcher did more than anyone else to preserve that unity.
During the 1982 Falklands War, Reagan in turn proved indispensable to
Thatcher. Although publicly neutral, the president permitted his secretary of
defense, Caspar Weinberger, to provide the British with Sidewinder missiles
and to stock Ascension Island, which the Royal Navy used as a way station,
with fuel and materiel. This enabled Thatcher to secure the victory that transformed her from an untested prime minister into the Iron Lady.
The friendship had its complications. Reagan took longer to swing American
support behind the Falklands war than Thatcher considered reasonable. Then in
1983 the United States invaded Grenada, a member of the British Commonwealth, without consulting herthe Pentagon had put the mission together in a
matter of days, requiring secrecy. Thatcher telephoned Reagan. To judge from the
expression on the presidents faceEd Meese still recalls this incident vividlythe
prime minister used language on Reagan to which he had grown unaccustomed.
For his part Reagan could never fathom Thatchers opposition to his Strategic Defense Initiative, all but ignoring her insistence that nuclear weapons had

To President Reagan, shown with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in


1981, the unity of the Western alliance was imperativeand Thatcher did
more than anyone else to preserve that unity.

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rendered the world safer, not more dangerous. (In her memoirs, Thatcher
did something unusual, admitting she had been wrong. SDI had not undermined the West, she granted, but had instead broken the Soviet Union. She
wrote: Looking back, it is now clear to me that Ronald Reagans original
decision on SDI was the single most important of his presidency.)
Reagan was intuitive. Thatcher was analytical.

Despite their disagreements, Reagan and Thatcher always understood each


other as united in a cause: they were saving the West. They exchanged ideas and
encouragement, offering one another moral supportand political validation.
You could hardly portray Ronald Reagan as a crank on economics
when someone as obviously intelligent as Margaret Thatcher agreed with
him, John OSullivan says, and you could hardly portray Thatcher as
an isolated free-market extremist when Reagan was enacting free-market
reforms in the country with the biggest economy on the planet.
Together, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher stood up to the Soviets, to the left, to elite opinion, and to the press. Reagans predecessors in
the Oval Office, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, sought to compromise
with opponents rather than overwhelm or convert them. Not Reagan.
Thatchers predecessor as leader of the Conservative Party, Edward Heath,
performed the famous U-turn, proposing deregulation and cutbacks in
spending but then backing down. Not Thatcher. You turn if you want
to, she declared. The ladys not for turning.
Reagan and Thatcher persisted. Instead of compromising with the
world, they transformed it. Yet neither could have accomplished nearly as
much without the other.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2013 Dow Jones & Co. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Press is Perjury: The HissChambers Case, third edition, by Allen Weinstein. To
order, call 800.935.2882 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

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H I ST O R Y AN D CU L T U R E

Gambling on Aggression
The cold, warlike calculations of 1914 find an echo in todays North
Korea. Tomorrow it could be China. By Mark Harrison.

Chinas territorial claims and bellicose actions in the Western Pacific have
aroused concerns about where this process could lead. In a Financial Times
article titled The Shadow of 1914 Falls over the Pacific, Gideon Rachman asked whether we are watching a rerun of events that led to the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
Then, a rising power (Germany) was challenging the established power
(Britain) for a say in world affairs and a share in the worlds colonial territories. It was not Germanys plan to make war on Britain; German leaders
wanted only a say and a share. The economic, military, and naval power
that they built was not made to go to war, only to prevent Britain from
blocking Germanys demands. They wanted to ensure peace and command respect. The war that then came about was not meant to happen.
The war would not have happened at all if allies, agents, proxies, and third
parties beyond their control had not helped to bring it about.
Replace Britain by the United States, Germany by China, and Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Serbia by Japan, Vietnam, and North and
South Korea, and you have Rachmans story in a nutshell. Rachmans
conclusion is hopeful, however: Chinas leaders have tried to learn from
history. That, and the inhibitions added by nuclear weapons, will help
to avert war.
Mark Harrison is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a professor of
economics at the University of Warwick, and an associate of Warwicks Centre
for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy.

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What was the role of calculation in the outbreak of World War I? Rachman writes as though the war was not calculated at all:
Leaders on all sides felt helpless as they were swept towards a war that
most of them did not want.

But something is missing here. While the war was in some sense unwanted, the leaders were not helpless: they chose war. It was a calculated decision,
and it was not a miscalculation: those who favored war correctly estimated
that victory was far from certain. They had a war plan for a quick victory over France that relied on a high-speed military maneuver on a colossal scale, a decision by Britain to abstain, and a Russian mobilization that
would obligingly wait until the German army was ready to switch its focus
from West to East. They knew it was an outrageous gamble.
What does Kim Jong Un have left to lose from gambling on conflict, no

Critical to this story was something that I will call rational pessimism.
By 1912, Germany no longer felt itself the confident, rising power once
led by Bismarck. Germanys leaders had come to fear the future. Their
own attempts to secure Germanys rightful place in the sun, they feared,
were leaving Germany ever weaker.
These fears were well founded. Externally, the balance of power was
tilting away from Germany. More countries were adhering to the antiGerman alliance of Britain and France. Britain and Russia were re-arming at a pace that nullified Germanys own efforts. Given time, Germany
would only become weaker. Within Germany the balance was tilting away
from monarchism and conservatism towards parliamentary socialism.
The fiscal demands of re-armament were opening up new social divisions.
Germanys Prussian bureaucracy and aristocracy felt itself more and more
besieged.
Increasingly the calculation became: if we fight, we may lose, but at
least there is a chance that we win. If we remain at peace, we certainly lose.
From this point of view the war was a gamble, but it was not a miscalculation. It was simply the choice with the higher expected value. For this
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Illustration by Taylor Jones for the Hoover Digest.

matter how poor the odds?

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reason the leaders of the Central Powers went to war full of foreboding,
but they went to war anyway.
In July 1914 the German chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg confided in
his friend Kurt Riezler, who wrote in his diary:
Russias military power growing fast...Austria grows ever weaker...this
time things are worse than 1912, because now Austria is on the defensive
against the Serb-Russian agitation....The future belongs to Russia, which
grows and grows into an ever great weight pressing down on our chest.
The chancellor is very pessimistic about Germanys intellectual condition. Frightful decline of our political niveau. Individuals are becoming
ever smaller and more insignificant; nobody says anything great and honest. Failure of the intelligentsia and of the professors.

This pessimism was general. When Germanys Wilhelm II was informed


of the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia, he wrote:
Now or never.

In Vienna, Kaiser Franz-Josef wrote:


If we go under, we better go under decently.

(The latter quotes are from Holger Herwigs The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary, 19141918, published in 1997 by Arnold.)
Before 1914, Germans calculated thus: if we fight, we may lose, but at least
there is a chance that we win. If we remain at peace, we certainly lose.

From this perspective it becomes crystal clear why North Koreas predicament is so dangerous. Day by day, North Korea is provoking enemies
and losing friends. The tensions within the country are largely unknown
but surely increasing. What insider would predict a peaceful future for
the Pyongyang regime that is better than today? What does Kim Jong Un
have left to lose from gambling on conflict, no matter how poor the odds?
Rational pessimism is surely tilting North Koreas choices towards war.
Still, we are not there yet.
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As for China itself, the threat of war should be thought of as one for the
future. It seems unlikely that Chinas leaders would ever choose to gamble
everything on a major war as long as they expected to gain more from a
continuation of peace. Their optimism is a bulwark against war.
The risk is that optimism is fragile. China faces many problems that
could sap the confidence of its leadership. Edward Luttwak (in The Rise
of China vs. the Logic of Strategy) has written that China is pursuing an
impossible trinity of prosperity, diplomatic influence, and military power.
Chinas economic growth may falter. Even if economic growth is sustained
in China, the chances are that at some stage the West will recover its
prosperity and technological leadership. Meanwhile Chinas re-armament
and territorial claims are losing it friends in Japan, Vietnam, and India. At
home, there are protests over a range of issues that widens continually: the
rule of law, corruption, censorship, inequality, wages and working conditions, land grabs, and pollution. Chinas rulers rely on xenophobia and
stories of foreign encirclement and penetration to manage these threats to
their legitimacy.
Putting all this together, it is not hard to envisage a future in which
Chinas leaders would become rational pessimists. Would they then be
held back by knowledge of history and the possibility of nuclear war?
Maybe. Is Kim Jong Un restrained by these things today? So far, yes. If
Germanys rulers in 1914 could have seen the future, would they have
chosen differently? Perhaps. Unfortunately, we cant be sure.
Special to the Hoover Digest. Adapted from Mark Harrisons blog (https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/
markharrison).

Available from the Hoover Press is Freedom Betrayed:


Herbert Hoovers Secret History of the Second World
War and Its Aftermath, edited by George H. Nash. To
order, call 800.935.2882 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

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H OOVER ARC HIVE S

The Battle of
Rockefeller Center
In the Manhattan fresco he painted during the Depression, Diego
Rivera saw a masterpiece. His patrons, however, saw Red. By
Bertrand M. Patenaude.

In the first days of May 1933, Diego Rivera, Mexicos celebrated mural
painter, was nearing completion of his fresco mural inside the main
entrance to the RCA Building, the centerpiece of the new complex under
construction in midtown Manhattan known as Rockefeller Center. Riveratall, heavyset, unkempt, and bug-eyed, his overalls and shoes splattered with paint and plasterwas putting in long hours on the scaffold.
On May 4, the work came to a halt when a letter arrived from Nelson
Rockefeller, the man overseeing the construction of the complex, stating
his objection to a late and unwelcome addition to Riveras painting:
While I was in the No. 1 building at Rockefeller Center yesterday viewing
the progress of your thrilling mural, I noticed that in the most recent portion of the painting you had included a portrait of Lenin. That piece is
beautifully painted but it seems to me that his portrait, appearing in this
mural, might very easily seriously offend a great many people. If it were in
a private house it would be one thing, but this mural is in a public building and the situation is therefore quite different. As much as I dislike to
do so I am afraid we must ask you to substitute the face of some unknown
man where Lenins face now appears.

Bertrand M. Patenaude is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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Rivera recognized this for what it was: an ultimatum from his sponsor. He had agreed to paint the RCA mural at the behest of Abby Rockefeller, the wife of John D. Rockefeller Jr., and her son Nelson. In 1930,
the Rockefellers and other wealthy American art enthusiasts had formed
a Mexican Arts Association, whose purpose was to promote friendship
between the people of Mexico and the United States by encouraging cultural relations and the interchange of fine and applied art. At its inaugural meeting, the group selected Rivera, the most prominent painter of the
celebrated Mexican mural renaissance of the 1920s, as the artist to help
launch their enterprise, and this set in motion the planning of an exhibit
of his work at the new Museum of Modern Art, where Abby and Nelson
Rockefeller were trustees.
It seems to me that his portrait, appearing in this mural, might very
easily seriously offend a great many people.

Rivera earned his fame by painting monumental frescoes depicting


Mexicos land and people, labor and festivals. He also had a reputation
for radical politics. For a time he was one of the leading figures of the
Mexican Communist Party, but his government commissions left him
open to criticism from his comrades that he was an establishment painter,
not a genuine radical. He was also maligned as a painter for millionaires because of his private commissions. Rivera had hoped to solidify his
leftist credentials with an extended visit to the Soviet Union, arriving in
time for the tenth-anniversary celebrations of the Bolshevik Revolution
in November 1927. He stayed eight months, long enough to sketch May
Day parades in Red Square in 1928, although the Soviet authorities, perhaps wary of his unabashed populism, ultimately declined to offer him a
wall on which to paint a mural. Upon his return to Mexico, Rivera found
himself reviled by fellow Communists and artists to the point where he
was drummed out of the party. These attacks intensified as he began to
paint what would become one of his most acclaimed murals, The History
of Mexico, in the National Palace, the seat of the government.
These political intrigues did no harm to Riveras reputation north
of the Rio Grande as a fashionably radical painter. His acceptance of a

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All images Hoover Archives (Bertram D. Wolfe Collection)

Mexican artist Diego Rivera earned fame by painting monumental


frescoes depicting Mexicos land and people, labor and festivals. He also
had a reputation for radical politics that at times enhanced his appeal to
potential well-heeled patrons.

mural commission in San Francisco inaugurated a three-year sojourn in


the United States, beginning in 1930. Rivera arrived in San Francisco in
November 1930, just as the Great Depression set in. There he painted
murals at the Stock Exchange Tower and the California School of Fine
Artsnow the San Francisco Art Institutein 1931. In December of
that year came the Rockefeller-orchestrated one-man show at MOMA, a
retrospective of his drawings and oils, together with movable fresco panels
he had painted especially for the exhibit. It was the second such event at
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the museum, Henri Matisse being the only other artist to have been so
honored, and Riveras show broke attendance records that winter. The following year he painted his Detroit Industry frescoes in the Garden Court of
the Detroit Institute of Arts with funds donated by Edsel Ford, president
of the Ford Motor Company and chairman of the Institutes Art Commission. These frescoes, today considered among Riveras greatest creations,
were unveiled on March 13, 1933.
One panel would show the Workers arriving at a true understanding of
their rights regarding the means of production, which has resulted in the
planning of the liquidation of Tyranny.

Riveras art inevitably stirred up political controversy throughout his


stay in the United States. At the MOMA show, a mural called Frozen
Assets, a multilayered slice of New York City with the midtown Manhattan
skyline serving as a kind of tombstone, seemed to make a grim comment
about Depression-era capitalism. Yet the meaning of the unsettling imagery was too cryptic to be viewed as propaganda, and indeed Forbes magazine, in its February 1932 issue, published a respectful article about the
mural. The focal point of the criticism in Detroit was Riveras rendering of
a mother holding a child being vaccinated by a doctor, a scene that some
observers interpreted as a caricature of the Madonna and Child implying
that science would triumph over religion.
But Riveras San Francisco and Detroit murals presented no bareknuckled critique of the capitalist system. In 1932 the unemployment
rate in the United States rose to 25 percent, yet Detroit Industry shows
no scenes of unemployment, strikes, soup kitchens, or bread lines. In
these frescoes, industry is not the scene of class struggle, but of intricately beautiful machines, affectionately rendered. The Rockefeller
family was in any case not easily spooked by radical politics mixed
in with their artespecially Abby Rockefeller, who had purchased
Riveras notebook of forty-five sketches of Red Square demonstrations
drawn on May Day, 1928. In October 1932, Nelson wrote to Rivera
asking to be informed when his Detroit murals would be finished so

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Diego Rivera and his wife, Frida Kahlo, in Detroit in 1932. Kahlo, whose
reputation as an artist today exceeds that of Rivera, was at the time
already a painter in her own right, although largely unknown. After
1929, the year she married Rivera, Kahlo painted infrequently and in the
enormous shadow of her husbands artistic reputation.

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that we can arrange to come up and see them. Everybody is terribly


anxious to see how you have interpreted the industrial life of Detroit.
By then, an agreement in principle had been reached with the artist for
the RCA project. May I take this opportunity to again tell you how
much my mother and I appreciate your spirit in doing this mural under
the existing circumstances.

M A N A T T H E CR O SSR O AD S
Shortly after his arrival in Detroit, Rivera, along with Matisse and Pablo
Picasso, had been asked to consider undertaking mural commissions for
the RCA Building. Matisse declined and Picasso ignored the offer, and
Rivera also was initially inclined to shun what seemed to him a competition, but Nelson Rockefeller, acting as diplomat and conciliator, was able
to smooth over every point of contention between the painter and the
Rockefeller Center architects, notably granting Rivera his wish to paint
a fresco in color, instead of a canvas in black, white, and gray, which had
been the original plan.
Rivera was sensitive to accusations of being a painter for millionaires.

The Rockefellers asked Rivera to produce a work under the title Man at
the Crossroads Looking with Hope and High Vision to the Choosing of a New
and Better Future. The guidelines stressed that the philosophical or spiritual quality should dominate....We want the paintings to make people
pause and think and to turn their minds inward and upward....We hope
these paintings may stimulate not only a material but above all a spiritual
awakening. The theme was to be New Frontiers, two in particular:
Mans New Relation to Matter and Mans New Relation to Man, the
latter defined as mans new and more complete understanding of the real
meaning of the Sermon on the Mount.
Undaunted by the grandiloquence of these instructions, Rivera began
his preliminary sketch for the mural during the autumn of 1932, while
still at work in Detroit. He planned a set of three fresco panels, which
he sketched and described in writing for the Rockefellers. The left-hand
panel of the mural, which he called The Liquidation of Superstition,

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would feature the image of lightning striking off the hand of Jupiter and being transformed into useful electricityin short, science
destroying the gods. The central panel was to have as dominant images
a telescope and a microscope, representing the new frontiers. This
panel would also show the Workers arriving at a true understanding of
their rights regarding the means of production, which has resulted in the
planning of the liquidation of Tyranny, personified [in the third panel,
to the right] by the crumbling statue of Caesar, whose head has fallen to
the ground. It will also show the Workers of the cities and the country
inheriting the earth.
Capitalist society was portrayed as decadent and dangerous: soldiers in
gas masks, tanks and warplanes, a bridge game, and nightclub dancing.

Riveras proposals, in other words, made no secret of the fact that he


intended his RCA mural to be an encomium to revolutionary socialism.
The painter seems to have decided to use the Rockefeller commission to
make up, in one bold stroke, the political ground he had lost through his
paintings in San Francisco and Detroit. The fact that American Communists, in the pages of the Daily Worker and New Masses, were attacking him as a tool of the Rockefellers strengthened his determination to
prove that he was a painter of the workers, not of the rich. And what
better moment to show his true colors than now, when capitalism was
undergoing an existential crisis while in Stalins USSR they were said to
be building socialism at breakneck speed under the Five-Year Plan? Yet
in the draft the Rockefellers approved, Rivera sketched the WorkerLeader joining the hands of the workers over a map of the worldsymbolism for the laboring masses inheriting the earthas an anonymous
figure wearing a cap. There was no indication, despite the artists later

Bertram D. Wolfe, who would write Riveras biography, appears at right


in a sketch for the RCA mural as a sympathetic intellectual surrounded by
admiring workers. Wolfe went on to become a pioneer of Sovietology and, in
the last phase of his life, a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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The New York World-Telegram of April 24, 1933, characterized the mural
in progress as a vast portrait of Communist activity paid for by the
Rockefellers. Riveras proposals did make no secret of the fact that he
intended it to be an encomium to revolutionary socialism. The photos on
this page show Rivera at work, seated on the scaffolding.

statements to the contrary, that this was intended as a rough sketch of


the Russian Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.

R A D I O C IT Y
In March 1933, Rivera moved into the RCA Building and began to paint
his frescoes wrapping around the three walls on the elevator bank facing the main entrance, an area of more than a thousand square feet. His
unusually high fee of $21,000 enabled him to hire an unusually large
number of assistants and speed up the work, and in any case Rivera was
a prodigious worker. He tended to start in the evening and work through
the night, as long as sixteen hours at a stretch. He painted the frescos from
top to bottom and in true fresco style: directly on wet plaster prepared and
applied by his assistants, with a window of about eighteen hours to apply
paint before the plaster turned hard as rock.
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What other Worker-Leader could Rockefeller expect me to paint? Rivera pleaded to his
friend Wolfe. Lenin is the only possible choice. The painter, in fact, proposed a compromise to his rich patron, offering to add Abraham Lincoln to the mural if Lenin were allowed
to stay. Rivera thought he had finessed the problem.

As the work proceeded, the mural was turning out to be more vividly
propagandistic than the sketches had indicated. The middle panel was
dominated by two great elongated ellipses intersecting in the center, like
giant propeller blades, one encasing the revelations of the microscope
(cells, atoms, bacteria), the other the revelations of the telescope (planets, suns, stars, comets). These formed the crossroads that the Rockefellers had suggested, and at their intersection, working the controls of

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a gigantic piece of machinery looming behind and overhead, appeared


Man, in the person of an innocuous-looking Everyman whom Rivera
had modeled on a night watchman at the construction site.
On either side of these crossroads, Rivera was painting images depicting an epic confrontation between the capitalist West and the socialist
East, the latter recognizable from rows of fervent demonstrators singing
and marching past Lenins tomb in Red Square. Capitalist society, meanwhile, was portrayed as decadent and dangerous. There the marchers were
advancing soldiers in gas masks accompanied by tanks and warplanes,
while nearby a bridge game and nightclub dancing were intended as a
counterpoint to the healthy exertions of Soviet athletes.
Riveras initial sketch gave no hint that the iconic Worker-Leader in the
mural was meant to be Vladimir Lenin.

The spectators who were issued passes to watch the artist at work often
asked him if the mural was intended as a caricature of modern society.
The genial Rivera assured them it was not. Later it was said that individuals connected to the Rockefeller family and the construction project had
been tactfully hinting to Rivera to tone down the color and the imagery,
but if so, they were keeping it a secret from Nelson Rockefeller. On April
3 the patron sent the painter a friendly note to say he had seen a feature
article about the mural in the Sunday New York Times, with an extremely
good photo of Rivera at work on the scaffold. From all reports I get you
are making very rapid progress and everybody is most enthusiastic about
the work which you are doing. As you know, the building opens the first
of May and it will be tremendously effective to have your mural there to
greet the people as they come in for the opening.

Rivera appeared at the New Workers School on May 7, 1933, to talk about
art. The muralist had recently been on a strict diet, causing him to lose
some 125 pounds, which explains his haggard appearance in the photo at
left. Two days later, matters in the RCA Building reached a crisis.

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APPEAL AMERICAN WORKERS REGARD ASSASSINATION


FRESCO...ROCKEFELLER FEARS IMAGE LENIN, reads a breathless
telegram from Rivera to Wolfe after the muralist learned his unfinished
work had been destroyed. Nine months earlier he had been told to cease
work, take his remaining fee, and quit the RCA Building.

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Daniel Okrent, in his book on the construction of Rockefeller Center, Great Fortune, calls this careless reference to May Day, the great Red
holiday, the equivalent of offering a match to an arsonist. Two weeks
later, seeing the unfinished mural for himself, Nelson seems to have had
no second thoughtsin fact, just the opposite. One of Riveras assistants
wrote in her diary for April 19: Nelson R. called on Diego, is crazy about
the frescoes!

R E D F L A GS
A few days later, it all began to unravel, thanks to a reporter for the New York
World-Telegram named Joseph Lilly, who on April 24 published an elaborate
description of the painting, by then nearly two-thirds completed, under
the provocative title: RIVERA PERPETUATES SCENES OF COMMUNIST ACTIVITY FOR R.C.A. WALLSAND JOHN D., JR., FOOTS
BILL. The front-page article promised that Riveras magnificent fresco,
which amounted to a forthright statement of the Communist viewpoint,
was likely to provoke the greatest sensation of his career.
Lillys article surveyed an array of inflammatory images from the mural,
including the sea of red banners and costumes on a festive Red Square
contrasted with a scene of iron-jawed policemen breaking up a demonstration on Wall Street, where workers carried banners with clearly legible revolutionary slogans such as Down With Imperialistic Wars Against
Soviet Russia and Workers Unite! With Riveras help, Lilly was able
to decode the imagery intended by the microscope: Starting at the top
are the microbes given life by poisonous gases used in the war, including
anthrax and tuberculosis, and proceeding toward the end are the germs of
the infectuous [sic] and hereditary social diseases, the latter so placed in
the composition as to indicate them as the results of a civilization revolving about nightclubs and bridge parties.
Lilly quoted the mild-mannered Rivera amiably boasting of his Communist and proletarian credentials, and then remarking with a gratified
smile moments later: Mrs. Rockefeller said she likes my painting very
much. Mr. Rockefeller, he likes it, too.
The fact that this article provoked no Rockefeller backlash seems to
have inspired Rivera to press his luck. In the final days of April, the painter
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transformed the sketch of the cap-bearing Worker-Leader on the socialist side of the wall into Lenins iconic stern countenance.
The May 1 deadline for the opening of the still-unfinished building
had come and gone, when, on May 4, Nelson Rockefeller delivered his
gentle but firm ultimatum telling Rivera that Lenin had to go. When
the letter arrived, by personal messenger, Rivera was speaking with Bertram Wolfe, the Brooklyn-born Communist who had been Riveras friend
and comrade for the past decade. Wolfe says Rivera asked him to read
the letter and then translate it into Spanish so he could grasp the precise
meaning of every word. Wolfes translation left no doubt that the request
to remove the head of Lenin was an order, even though it was politely
worded to the end:
You know how enthusiastic I am about the work which you have been
doing and that to date we have in no way restricted you in either subject
or treatment. I am sure you will understand our feeling in this situation
and we will greatly appreciate your making the suggested substitution.
With best wishes, I remain sincerely,
Nelson A. Rockefeller

T H E GR E A T E MANCI PATO R
What do you think? Rivera asked Wolfe. Have I not the right, as painters have always done, to paint into my mural people I know? To use any
model which seems suitable for each generalized figure that was in my
sketch? Wolfe responded that the Renaissance masters painted either
the patron or somebody related to him or friendly toward him, not an

A poster, left, summons protesters after Riveras mural was sandblasted


into oblivion. One of the artists associates would say that the addition
of Lenins image, which triggered the artistic drama, had been an afterthought. Indeed, the rest of the mural was provocative enough that a
clash was probably inevitable.

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archenemy. Well, what other Worker-Leader could Rockefeller expect


me to paint? pleaded Rivera. Lenin is the only possible choice. Maybe
so, said Wolfe, but once you had put a workingmans cap on the figure
in your sketch, he had no reason to expect a portrait of Lenin or Trotsky.
There was no arguing with this, but Rivera felt he could not back
down. What would the party say about my being a painter for millionaires? Wolfe proposed a compromise: substitute for Lenins head that of
Abraham Lincoln, the symbol of the freedom of the slaves, of the preservation of the American Union, of generosity to the freed Negroes and
the defeated Southern states, of general amnesty to all political prisoners.
Why, even Karl Marx had lauded the Great Emancipator, Wolfe instructed his comrade.
Rivera welcomed this solution, but it turned out that he had painted
himself into a corner, for when he assembled his team of assistants, all of
them radical socialists, they delivered an ultimatum of their own: If you
remove the head of Lenin, they told the boss, we will go on strike and
picket you and your painting and the RCA building. Rivera could not
afford to let that happen, and in any case an open break would be more
sensational, and he seemed to thrive on public controversy. Why not take
the battle into the streets of New York?
The building opens the first of May and it will be tremendously effective
to have your mural there.

Rivera must have perceived the danger ahead, however, because in


the response he wrote Nelson Rockefeller on May 6 he offered a compromise. Lenin had to stay, he insisted, but he could replace the bridge
party and the nightclub scene with a figure of some great American
historical leader, such as Lincoln. Here the muralist laid it on with a
trowel: I am sure that the solution I propose will entirely clarify the
historical meaning of the figure of leader as represented by Lenin and
Lincoln, and no one will be able to object to them without objecting
to the most fundamental feelings of human love and solidarity and
the constructive social force represented by such men. As Wolfe later
observed, Rivera believed he was being conciliatory, but actually Diego
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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

had tried to straddle two horses facing in different directions, and had
fallen between them.
Then came three days of nervous waiting.

T H E F A T A L NI G H T
On the morning of May 9, Riveras agent received a letter from the Rockefeller Center rental management, Todd, Robertson & Todd, signed by
Hugh Robertson, asking the muralist, one last time, to revise the painting. That evening at six oclock, Robertson, accompanied by a dozen uniformed guards, entered the RCA Building and handed Rivera an envelope
containing a check for $14,000the remainder of his feeand a letter
informing him that in view of his refusal to replace the image of Lenin,
his services would no longer be required. As Rivera retreated, more guards
arrived and within a half-hour had concealed the unfinished mural behind
a wood-framed screen of tarpaper.
A Rockefeller property agent, accompanied by armed guards, handed Rivera
a check for $14,000the remainder of his feeand told him to leave.

The management of Rockefeller Center, anticipating trouble, had


arranged for mounted police to be on hand when protesters began to
gather. Rivera, who had a special talent for myth-making and self-dramatization (and who must have seen the movie King Kong, which had
recently premiered at Radio City Music Hall), described the operation as
a military assault, in which proletarian foot soldiers were overpowered
by the capitalist cavalry, while the upper air was filled with the roar of
airplanes flying round the skyscraper menaced by the portrait of Lenin.
The mounted police charged the demonstrators with the ruthlessness of
Cossack enforcers, injuring the back of a seven-year-old girl with a brutal blow of a club. Thus was won the glorious victory of Capital against
the portrait of Lenin in the Battle of Rockefeller Center.
As the demonstrations against cultural vandalism swelled, the Rockefellers issued a public pledge that the uncompleted fresco of Diego Rivera
will not be destroyed, nor in any way mutilated, but [instead] will be covered, to remain hidden for an indefinite timeand with that, the contro-

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

185

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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

versy died down. Rivera vowed to use his remaining Rockefeller funds to
paint in any suitable building that is offered, an exact reproduction of the
buried mural. But no such wall was made available, and in fact matters
quickly got much worse for the painter. Rivera had prepared sketches for
a mural to be called Forge and Foundry, commissioned by General Motors
for its pavilion at the Chicago Worlds Fair, but now the architect sent a
cable canceling the contract. In Wolfes words: All the promised walls in
America vanished with that telegram.
Nine months after Riveras eviction from Rockefeller Center, on Saturday, February 9, 1934, at midnight, his unfinished RCA mural was
sandblasted into oblivion. Back in Mexico City, an angry Rivera was
given a wall in the Palace of Fine Arts to resurrect his buried mural,
but his re-creation retains little of the artistic or dramatic charge of the
original.
When Rivera was told he was fired and ordered to quit the RCA Building, he reportedly said to the Rockefellers emissary, How do you know
its Lenin? It doesnt say so, does it? In light of everything he had already
gotten away with, the painter may have assumed that the insertion of
Lenin, which one of his associates called an afterthought, would make
no impression on his patron. Indeed, once the storm broke, there was a
great deal of puzzlement about how on earth the Rockefellers could draw
the line at Lenins head and overlook the murals many other provocations.
What were they thinking?

Bertram D. Wolfe, left, had a special connection to Diego Rivera that


inspired him to publish three books about the painter: Portrait of
America (1934), Portrait of Mexico (1937), and Diego Rivera: His Life
and Times (1939), later revised as The Fabulous Life of Diego Rivera
(1963). With his scholarly books on communism, beginning with the
classic Three Who Made a Revolution, researched in part at the Hoover
Library and published in 1948, and other book reviews and popular
articles, Wolfe was a pioneer of Soviet studies. He and his wife, Ella,
returned to the Hoover Institution in 1965, where he worked until his
death in 1977.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

187

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Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Even had Rivera granted Nelson Rockefellers wish, a scandal seems


to have been inevitablealthough Howard Brubaker, in his widely
syndicated New Yorker column, Of All Things, invoking economic
hard times, feigned insouciance: We still think the Rockefeller people
should have let Rivera finish the hand painting on the wall, however
Bolshevik. The way rentals are these days, probably nobody would
have noticed it.
Special to the Hoover Digest.
Available from the Hoover Press is War, Revolution,
and Peace in Russia: The Passages of Frank Golder,
19141927, edited by Terence Emmons and Bertrand M.
Patenaude. To order, call 800.935.2882 or visit www.

Wolfgang Sauber/Creative Commons

hooverpress.org.

Rivera eventually resurrected his destroyed Rockefeller Center mural, on


a smaller scale, in the Palacio de Belles Artes in Mexico City. The detail at
left shows the central figure of the mural, now titled El Hombre Controlador del Universo (Man, Controller of the Universe) and completed in 1934.
In this version, Rivera added not only Lenin but also Marx, Engels, and
Trotskyand the ever-present Wolfe. View a high-resolution photo of the
full artwork at www.museopalaciodebellasartes.com.

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

189

On the Cover
A racecar streaking past the finish line is more than an iconic image
of summer. The scene depicted in this poster about the Indianapolis
Motor Speedway also evokes the history of American car making. Today
the news brings stories about the GM bailout, the struggles of the U.S.
automakers to pull ahead of their competition, and the arrival of hungry
young contenders like Tesla and Fisker. In 1909, when a quintet of Indiana businessmen staked out what would become the legendary Brickyard, the performance and future of the American auto industry were
just as important. In the senses of both sport and business, the track was
meant to settle scores.
In the earliest years of the twentieth century, the vehicles that needed
to be tested on the Indianapolis track bore names like Marmon, Cole,
National, Overland, and American Underslung, according to the raceways official history. Others, like Stutz and Duesenberg, would come
laterand be remembered longer. But they were all Indiana companies;
by 1913, Indianapolis auto industry was second in the nation.
These vehicles rolled forth on roads that were often dirt, and were
borne up on flimsy tires and dubious chassis. The investors who built the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway envisioned a testing ground for autos that
would spawn better products for newly mobile Americans. It would have
long straightaways and turns gradual enough to be handled by a car going
flat-out fast.
Ray Harroun, driving for Marmon in a car he helped design, won the
inaugural Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1911, with a sizzling race time of
74.6 mph. Harroun is credited with introducing a technological innovation in that race: a rear-view mirror. Helmets werent required at the Indy
500 until 1935.
Before long racing, not testing, was the Speedways primary emphasis. But of course the racing was, and remains, just another economic

190

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

engine for both the builders who participate and the sponsors who
emblazon the cars with logos. (Harrouns car, enshrined in the speedway museum, says nothing but 32.) To the winner goes the BorgWarner Trophy, and to the loser goes, perhaps, obscurity: the Wikipedia entry for Defunct motor vehicle manufacturers of the United
States has 684 names. Many of them appeared in the early annals of
the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Speedway celebrated its centennial from 2009 to 2011. There was
a balloon competition, like the one that opened the facility in 1909, and
Parnelli Jones took Harrouns black-and-yellow Marmon Wasp for one
more spin around the track. More than one hundred years of technological innovations had whizzed past. But the Indy 500 was still the same: fast
cars, roaring crowds, danger, a checkered flag.
Charles Lindsey

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

191

hoover institution on war, revolution and peace

Board of Overseers
Marc L. Abramowitz
Victoria Tory Agnich
Frederick L. Allen
Jack R. Anderson
Martin Anderson
Barbara Barrett
Robert G. Barrett
Frank E. Baxter
Stephen D. Bechtel Jr.
Peter B. Bedford
Peter S. Bing
Walter E. Blessey Jr.
Joanne Whittier Blokker
William K. Blount
James J. Bochnowski
Wendy H. Borcherdt
William K. Bowes
Richard W. Boyce
Scott C. Brittingham
James J. Carroll III
Robert H. Castellini
Rod Cooper
Paul L. Davies Jr.
Paul Lewis Lew Davies III
John B. De Nault
Steven A. Denning*
Dixon R. Doll
Susanne Fitger Donnelly
Joseph W. Donner
Herbert M. Dwight
William C. Edwards

192

Gerald E. Egan
Charles H. Chuck Esserman
Jeffrey A. Farber
Carly Fiorina
Clayton W. Frye Jr.
Stephen B. Gaddis
Samuel L. Ginn
Michael Gleba
Cynthia Fry Gunn
Arthur E. Hall
Everett J. Hauck
W. Kurt Hauser
John L. Hennessy*
Warner W. Henry
Sarah Page Herrick
Heather R. Higgins
Allan Hoover III
Margaret Hoover
Preston B. Hotchkis
Philip Hudner
Gail A. Jaquish
Charles B. Johnson
Franklin P. Johnson Jr.
Mark Chapin Johnson
John Jordan
Steve Kahng
Mary Myers Kauppila
David B. Kennedy
Raymond V. Knowles Jr.
Donald L. Koch
Richard Kovacevich

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Henry N. Kuechler III


Peyton M. Lake
Carl V. Larson Jr.
Allen J. Lauer
Bill Laughlin
Howard H. Leach
Walter Loewenstern Jr.
Richard A. Magnuson
Robert H. Malott
Frank B. Mapel
Shirley Cox Matteson
Richard B. Mayor
Craig O. McCaw
Bowen H. McCoy
Burton J. McMurtry
Roger S. Mertz
Jeremiah Milbank III
Charles T. Munger Jr.
Robert G. ODonnell
Robert J. Oster
Joel C. Peterson
James E. Piereson
Jay A. Precourt
George J. Records
Christopher R. Redlich Jr.
Kathleen Cab Rogers
James N. Russell
Richard M. Scaife

Hoover Digest N 2013 No. 3

Roderick W. Shepard
Thomas M. Siebel
George W. Siguler
William E. Simon Jr.
Boyd C. Smith
John R. Stahr
William C. Steere Jr.
Thomas F. Stephenson
Robert J. Swain
W. Clarke Swanson Jr.
Curtis Sloane Tamkin
Tad Taube
Robert A. Teitsworth
L. Sherman Telleen
Peter A. Thiel
Thomas J. Tierney
David T. Traitel
Victor S. Trione
Nani S. Warren
Dean A. Watkins
Dody Waugh
Jack R. Wheatley
Lynne Farwell White
Paul H. Wick
Norman Tad Williamson
Richard G. Wolford
*Ex officio members of the Board

193

The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace was established at Stanford University
in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, a member of Stanfords pioneer graduating class of 1895 and the
thirty-rst president of the United States. Since 1919 the Institution has evolved from a library
and repository of documents to an active public policy research center. Simultaneously, the
Institution has evolved into an internationally recognized library and archives housing tens of
millions of books and archival documents relating to political, economic, and social change.

The Institutions overarching goals are to

Understand the causes and consequences of economic, political, and social change

Analyze the effects of government actions relating to public policies

Generate and disseminate ideas directed at positive public policy formation


using reasoned arguments and intellectual rigor, converting conceptual insights
into practical policy initiatives judged to be benecial to society
Ideas have consequences, and a free ow of competing ideas leads to an evolution of
policy adoptions and associated consequences affecting the well-being of society. The Hoover
Institution endeavors to be a prominent contributor of ideas having positive consequences.
In the words of President Hoover,
This Institution supports the Constitution of the United States, its Bill of Rights,
and its method of representative government. Both our social and economic
systems are based on private enterprise from which springs initiative and ingenuity.
. . . The Federal Government should undertake no governmental, social, or economic action, except where local government or the people cannot undertake it for
themselves. . . . The overall mission of this Institution is . . . to recall the voice of
experience against the making of war, . . . to recall mans endeavors to make and
preserve peace, and to sustain for America the safeguards of the American way of
life. . . . The Institution itself must constantly and dynamically point the road to
peace, to personal freedom, and to the safeguards of the American system.
To achieve these goals, the Institution conducts research using its library and archival
assets under the auspices of three programs: Democracy and Free Markets, American Institutions and Economic Performance, and International Rivalries and Global Cooperation. These
programs address, respectively, political economy abroad, political economy domestically, and
political and economic relationships internationally.

The Hoover Institution is supported by donations from individuals, foundations, corporations, and partnerships. If you are interested in supporting the research programs of the Hoover Institution or the Hoover Library and Archives, please contact
the Office of Development, telephone 650.725.6715 or fax 650.723.1952. Gifts to the
Hoover Institution are tax deductible under applicable rules. The Hoover Institution is
part of Stanford Universitys tax-exempt status as a Section 501(c)(3) public charity.
Confirming documentation is available upon request.

The Hoover Institution gratefully acknowledges the support of


its benefactors in establishing the communications and information
dissemination program.
Significant gifts for the support of the Hoover Digest
are acknowledged from

Bertha and John Garabedian Charitable Foundation


The Jordan Vineyard and Winery
Joan and David Traitel

The Hoover Institution gratefully acknowledges generous support


from the Founders of the Program on
American Institutions and Economic Performance

Tad and Dianne Taube


Taube Family Foundation
Koret Foundation
and a Cornerstone Gift from

Sarah Scaife Foundation

Professional journalists are invited to visit the Hoover Institution to share their
perspectives and engage in a dialogue with the Hoover community. Leadership
and significant gift support to reinvigorate and sustain the
William and Barbara Edwards Media Fellows Program
are acknowledged from

William K. Bowes Jr.


William C. Edwards
Charles B. Johnson
Tad and Cici Williamson

The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace was established at Stanford University
in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, a member of Stanfords pioneer graduating class of 1895 and the
thirty-rst president of the United States. Since 1919 the Institution has evolved from a library
and repository of documents to an active public policy research center. Simultaneously, the
Institution has evolved into an internationally recognized library and archives housing tens of
millions of books and archival documents relating to political, economic, and social change.

The Institutions overarching goals are to

Understand the causes and consequences of economic, political, and social change

Analyze the effects of government actions relating to public policies

Generate and disseminate ideas directed at positive public policy formation


using reasoned arguments and intellectual rigor, converting conceptual insights
into practical policy initiatives judged to be benecial to society
Ideas have consequences, and a free ow of competing ideas leads to an evolution of
policy adoptions and associated consequences affecting the well-being of society. The Hoover
Institution endeavors to be a prominent contributor of ideas having positive consequences.
In the words of President Hoover,
This Institution supports the Constitution of the United States, its Bill of Rights,
and its method of representative government. Both our social and economic
systems are based on private enterprise from which springs initiative and ingenuity.
. . . The Federal Government should undertake no governmental, social, or economic action, except where local government or the people cannot undertake it for
themselves. . . . The overall mission of this Institution is . . . to recall the voice of
experience against the making of war, . . . to recall mans endeavors to make and
preserve peace, and to sustain for America the safeguards of the American way of
life. . . . The Institution itself must constantly and dynamically point the road to
peace, to personal freedom, and to the safeguards of the American system.
To achieve these goals, the Institution conducts research using its library and archival
assets under the auspices of three programs: Democracy and Free Markets, American Institutions and Economic Performance, and International Rivalries and Global Cooperation. These
programs address, respectively, political economy abroad, political economy domestically, and
political and economic relationships internationally.

The Hoover Institution is supported by donations from individuals, foundations, corporations, and partnerships. If you are interested in supporting the research programs of the Hoover Institution or the Hoover Library and Archives, please contact
the Office of Development, telephone 650.725.6715 or fax 650.723.1952. Gifts to the
Hoover Institution are tax deductible under applicable rules. The Hoover Institution is
part of Stanford Universitys tax-exempt status as a Section 501(c)(3) public charity.
Confirming documentation is available upon request.

The Hoover Institution gratefully acknowledges the support of


its benefactors in establishing the communications and information
dissemination program.
Significant gifts for the support of the Hoover Digest
are acknowledged from

Bertha and John Garabedian Charitable Foundation


The Jordan Vineyard and Winery
Joan and David Traitel

The Hoover Institution gratefully acknowledges generous support


from the Founders of the Program on
American Institutions and Economic Performance

Tad and Dianne Taube


Taube Family Foundation
Koret Foundation
and a Cornerstone Gift from

Sarah Scaife Foundation

Professional journalists are invited to visit the Hoover Institution to share their
perspectives and engage in a dialogue with the Hoover community. Leadership
and significant gift support to reinvigorate and sustain the
William and Barbara Edwards Media Fellows Program
are acknowledged from

William K. Bowes Jr.


William C. Edwards
Charles B. Johnson
Tad and Cici Williamson

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