Coordonator seminar: Petruta Naidut
(1) Identificati cuvintele cheie din fiecare paragraf si faceti un rezumat al paragrafului pe baza acestora.
(2) Identificati ideile principale din textele de mai jos. Faceti un rezumat al textelor pe baza ideilor
[1] Lexington. The loneliness of Barack Obama. His domestic team is dispersing. But national security is
the area where the president could use closer friends. Sep 30th 2010
BOB WOODWARD’S latest fly-on-the-wall White House potboiler, “Obama’s Wars”, is among other things an
essay in the loneliness of command. Having inherited a failing war, a fresh young president is bombarded on all
sides by conflicting advice and has in the end to set the strategy himself, pleasing nobody. It would be a
fascinating tale at any time, but it is especially poignant in present circumstances. For one reason or another,
many of the advisers who have surrounded Mr Obama since he took office at the beginning of 2009 are deserting
the listing ship. If he were not from the planet Vulcan (“birthers” take note) and therefore incapable of feeling
emotion, he would have every reason to feel lonely right now.
Two members of his economic team—Christina Romer and Peter Orszag—have already left the White House
and Larry Summers, his chief economic co-ordinator, will return to Harvard University after November’s midterm elections. Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, is expected to announce his departure at any
moment so that he can pursue his longtime ambition to become mayor of Chicago in place of Richard Daley.
David Axelrod, the president’s political adviser, he of the sad eyebrows, is meanwhile reported to dislike his
bachelor existence in the nation’s capital and to be keen to return to his life, his family and Manny’s deli in the
Windy City. The need to prepare Mr Obama’s 2012 election campaign gives him the perfect excuse.
The president has so far taken these impending departures in his stride. He will be working closely with Mr
Axelrod in the presidential election, and Mr Emanuel was never a close friend anyway. Valerie Jarrett, a senior
adviser who is indeed close, appears to be staying, as does his press secretary Robert Gibbs, one of the original
Obama team. There is, however, one departure in the works that may cause even a Vulcan some worry. The
thought provoked by Mr Woodward’s book is that the loss of Robert Gates, the defence secretary, may damage
Mr Obama most of all.
Mr Gates served as George Bush’s defence secretary but agreed to stay on to provide continuity in the Iraqi and
Afghan wars and the war on terrorism. Keeping a Republican CIA veteran at the Pentagon was an inspired
decision by a president acutely conscious of his own lack of security experience. But politics can be cruel. The
presence of Mr Gates has not prevented “ownership” of the failing Afghan war from shifting rapidly to Mr
Obama. All presidents eventually own the wars America fights on their watch, whether they started them or not.
What is special about Afghanistan is that Mr Obama rejected both of the big ideas his subordinates promoted in
the great hand-wringing review the White House conducted in the autumn of 2009. Instead, he constructed a
compromise, in which, if Mr Woodward is to be believed, only he has confidence.
The big idea that bubbled up through the chain of command was a long-haul counter-insurgency campaign. The
opposing idea from Joe Biden, the vice-president, was “counterterrorism-plus”: keep only enough force in, near
and above Afghanistan as needed to prevent al-Qaeda returning from Pakistan, which should in fact be the focus
of American policy. In the end, eager as he was to find an exit from a war his own party hated, Mr Obama
rejected the Biden plan. But nor, quite, did he accept the generals’. He sent 30,000 new troops, not the 40,000
General Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan wanted, and according to Mr Woodward insisted to his commanders
that “this is not a nationwide counter-insurgency strategy”, because the public would not accept a plan that could
cost up to $1 trillion and break the budget. He also wanted the troops to start leaving by July 2011.
Was this a brilliant compromise or a refusal to take a hard decision? The answer may not come until the
withdrawal is due to begin next summer. By then, however, Mr Gates could well have quit. He says that he might
depart in 2011, but has not said whether he will stay until the fateful deadline. He may not relish being stuck in a
new fight between the president and his generals.
The thinning ranks
If Mr Gates does go, Mr Obama will miss him. Nobody else can provide the same support and cover. Hillary
Clinton is still a potential rival. Jim Jones has outlasted serial rumours of impending defenestration, but Mr
Woodward’s book suggests that the national security adviser’s relations with Mr Obama are at best proper,
verging on awkward: the towering former marine is no consigliere. Nor will Mr Obama have a trusted ally on the
ground: General McChrystal has been replaced by General David Petraeus, a registered Republican who remains
a stubborn believer in the counter-insurgency strategy he invented for Iraq and which Mr Obama says America


Gary Jacobson of the University of California in San Diego says the wielders of campaign funds have become expert at spotting competitive candidates and giving them the money they need to make a fight of it. complained in September about “an audacious stealth campaign” by “powerful corporate special interests” using front groups to pour millions into misleading. it is generally subject to the law of diminishing returns. Michael Bloomberg’s three terms as mayor of New York and Jon Corzine’s victory in the New Jersey governor’s race of 2005 suggest the opposite. it might not be forthcoming: British prime ministers have now learnt the perils of poodledom. Add to this the message from the White House that vengeful. the impact of Citizens United is in danger of being vastly exaggerated. A bill languishing in Congress. the cries of “foul” have multiplied. Had the vice-president been able to exercise the same influence over Mr Obama as Dick Cheney did over Mr Bush. Just as well. the Fair Elections Now Act. David Axelrod. An investigation by the Washington Post concludes that special interests have increased their spending fivefold compared with the 2006 mid-terms. This leads some to argue that instead of seeking to cap campaign contributions and spending. Wall Street banks. or that Americans for Prosperity is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers in order (says Mr Axelrod) to “support their right-wing agenda and corporate interests”. of course. These are raising lavish sums for pro-Republican political advertising. Americans for Job Security and Americans for Prosperity. Oct 7th 2010 IT IS fair to say that the Supreme Court of Chief Justice John Roberts is not extravagantly admired by Democrats. and yet the latest polls have her trailing her Democratic rival. That said. health-insurance companies and other powerful interests “to drown out the voices of everyday Americans”. there is still the loyal Mr Biden. negative campaign ads that could “tip the scales” in the coming election. Barack Obama was furious. The moral of such stories. Consider. The New York Timesbemoaned “the most secretive election cycle since the Watergate years”. But this is a president who does his deciding alone. unions and other groups from paying directly for political advertisements during election campaigns was unconstitutional. Jerry Brown. deeppocketed businesses and shadowy special interests are poised to buy the November elections. Even if he sought such a friendship. were connected to Karl Rove (George Bush’s former strategy guru). perhaps. This is just not true. revisited How valid are these complaints? This cycle has indeed seen the emergence of an exotic bestiary of organisations bearing innocuous labels such as Crossroads GPS. His prolixity is a legend. say. Of all its conservative rulings. more familiar than his master with Afghanistan and Pakistan and more willing to challenge the military’s most basic assumptions. American Crossroads. previous legislation that barred companies. would offer public matching funds. reformers should aim to help candidates across the magic threshold. and the conclusion of a mountain of research. As the mid-terms have neared. The former chief executive of eBay has by now spent about $120m of her own money on her campaign to become governor of California. and you might well conclude that money is destroying American democracy. This was a “green light” to a stampede of special-interest money that would enable “Big Oil”. and that the disclosed proportion has declined from more than 90% to less than half. This is not to say that possession of a personal fortune is a fatal handicap in politics. who says he has spent $11m. you still cannot buy the results of elections. A study by Americans for Campaign Reform in 2008 put that minimum at $700. Voters would plainly see such advertising differently if they knew. This held that since the first amendment tells Congress to make no law abridging the freedom of speech. or that Americans for Job Security was formed by the insurance industry. yet he emerges as an original thinker and iconoclast. The president is intimate with no foreign ally in the way that Mr Bush was with Tony Blair. whether real or perceived. one of Mr Obama’s advisers. The best Congress money can buy? For all the money sloshing around in American politics. Vast right-wing conspiracy. The vice-president is one of the surprises of Mr Woodward’s narrative. no matter how widely he consults. Once a candidate has spent enough to become known. Inside the White House. America might already be winding down its war. Yet even that may be unnecessary. 2 . that Crossroads GPS and its partner. the value of each extra dollar falls. [2] Lexington. the one they find most enraging as November’s mid-term elections approach is undoubtedly its 5-4 decision in January in the case of Citizens United. But Mr Corzine failed to buy his way to re-election last year. is that although money can sway the odd race here and there. The bipartisan Centre for Public Integrity reports that in recent weeks organisations with Republican affiliations have spent five times more than their Democratic counterparts. such as the one that maintains that America’s vital interests are still at stake in a country from which Osama bin Laden has long since fled. Mr Obama faces the prospect of a lonely summer in 2011. but the ads do not disclose the source of their funding. these two words: Meg Whitman.cannot afford in Afghanistan. for a start.000 for a crack at a seat in the House of Representatives.

In other words: a pretty fair fight. But if the Democrats are hammered in November. it will not be because of the judicial activism of a conservative Supreme Court. Politics in the United States is contaminated by money in many ways. mainly from small donors. Mr Jacobson expects the mid-terms to see many races between well-financed Democrats and Republican candidates with less money of their own but more help from outside organisations. and too many they do not like. The Democratic National Committee raised more than $16m in September. That contest was determined by the fundamental politics (rejection of the Bush legacy. To that extent at least. the charm of Mr Obama). also at Brookings. American democracy remains in rude health. disappointment with Mr Obama). as November’s will be (the jobless “recovery”. And though outspent so far in the advertising war. whose mismanagement under the lackadaisical Michael Steele is one reason why Republicans are turning to outside organisations. Bill Galston. One of the guiding principles of the tea-party movement is based on a myth.Besides. and has tended to do better at this than the Republican National Committee. trade unions (no less liberated than companies by the Citizens United ruling) have been working hard on the get-out-the-vote “ground war” at which they excel. Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution says that the Citizens United decision will no more determine the mid-terms than Mr Obama’s outspending of John McCain in 2008 swung the presidential race. goes so far as to wonder whether the fuss about it might be a pre-emptive attempt to explain away a defeat. Sep 23rd 2010 3 . [3] Lexington. It will be because they have done too few things that voters admire. The perils of constitution-worship. the Democrats are hardly penniless.

Indeed. But many of the tea-partiers have invented a strangely ahistorical version of it. more or less. Many of their decisions. all the more miraculous for having been written when the rest of the world’s peoples were still under the boot of kings and emperors (with the magnificent exception of Britain’s constitutional monarchy. who can tell? To ask that question after the passage of two centuries. If you are scared of the tea-party movement.WOULDN’T it be splendid if the solutions to America’s problems could be written down in a slim book no bigger than a passport that you could slip into your breast pocket? That. the constitution is for all Americans and does not belong to her party alone. Accept for argument’s sake that those who argue this way have identified the right problem. America. in fact. let alone slaves. . is to pose an impossible thought experiment. creatures of their time fearful of what they considered the excessive democracy taking hold in the states in the 1780s. in which today’s Congress excels and which is now so much out of favour with the tea-partiers. such as giving every state two senators regardless of population. and to those who would spread falsehoods and rumours about the tea-party movement. of course). He calls it “constitutional idolatry”. Mr Klarman argues that the framers would not even recognise America’s modern government. More to the point is that the constitution provides few answers to the hard questions thrown up by modern politics. The Heritage Foundation is running a “first principles” project “to save America by reclaiming its truths and its promises and conserving its liberating principles for ourselves and our posterity”. Rahm Emanuel). truth is the victim. The words of men. The framers were giants. But they were also aristocrats. the grassroots mutiny against big government that has mounted an internal takeover of the Republican Party and changed the face of American politics. Lyndon Johnson and now Mr Obama continued the bad work. The constitution is a thing of wonder. there is something infantile in the belief of the constitutionworshippers that the complex political arguments of today can be settled by simple fidelity to a document written in the 18th century. as she addressed the conservative Value Voters’ Summit in Washington. for a prodigal America to redeem itself by returning to its “founding principles”. Nor did Jefferson write a mission statement for the tea. they say that the framers’ aim was to check the central government and protect the rights of the states. and. by the way. DC. asking the actors who play George Washington and his fellow founders for advice on how to cast off a tyrannical government. let me be very clear to them. with its mighty administrative branch and imperial executive. Franklin Roosevelt. Conservative think-tanks have the same dream of return to a prelapsarian innocence. took a wrong turn when Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt fell under the spell of progressive ideas and expanded the scope of government beyond both the founders’ imaginings and the competence of any state. you are afraid of Thomas Jefferson who penned our mission statement. a congresswoman from Minnesota and tea-party heroine. They are going to have to write one for themselves. were the product not of Olympian sagacity but of grubby power-struggles and compromises—exactly the sort of backroom dealmaking. visionaries and polymaths. or any women.] So what are these revolutionary ideas that make up and undergird the tea-party movement? Well. is the big idea of the teaparty movement. on its own. They did not believe that poor men. Michael Klarman of the Harvard Law School has a label for this urge to seek revealed truth in the sacred texts. said Barack Obama’s chief of staff. not government [applause]—with certain inalienable rights… The Declaration of Independence and the constitution have been venerated for two centuries. last week: To those who would spread lies. not just by consulting a text put on paper in a bygone age. says Pietro Nivola of the Brookings Institution. In fact the constitution of 1787 set out to do the opposite: to bolster the centre and weaken the power the states had briefly enjoyed under the new republic’s Articles of Confederation of 1777. We are endowed by our creator—that’s God. The constitution. Thus has mankind’s greatest experiment in self-government been crushed by a monstrous Leviathan. with trembling voice. not of gods When history is turned into scripture and men into deities. people all over the country congregated to read every word together aloud. Should gays marry? No answer there.partiers. Listen to Michele Bachmann. should have the vote. Under the cover of war and recession (never let a crisis go to waste. does not provide the solution. None of this is to say that the modern state is not bloated or over-mighty. A Heritage book and video (“We Still Hold These Truths”) promotes the old verities as a panacea for present ills. [Cheers. Pace Ms Bachmann. But thanks to the tea-party movement they are enjoying a dramatic revival. The Washington Post reports that Colonial Williamsburg has been crowded with tea-partiers. There is assuredly a case to be made for reducing its size and ambitions and giving greater responsibilities to individuals. applause. it’s called the Declaration of Independence. The day after this September’s constitution-day anniversary. But this is a case that needs to be made and remade from first principles in every political generation. As to what they would have made of the modern welfare state. At almost any tea-party meeting you can expect to see some patriot brandishing a copy of the hallowed texts and calling. it’s this: All men and all women are created equal. such conservatives say. a “profoundly moving exercise that will take less than one hour”. For example. according to the gatherings’ organisers. you may have heard of it.

think that he is a Muslim himself. The reason is not hard to fathom. the supposed mastermind of 9/11. the would-be “shoe-bomber”. At his inauguration. Mr Bush faced no such criticism when doing exactly the same thing. Ever-lonelier in the middle Lately. What may instead be true is that. To Muslim eyes. but so did Mr Bush—and it is still in operation. failed to set off his bomb properly on a Detroit-bound passenger jet. In November Major Nidal Malik Hasan. a naturalised American. the former vice-president. Mr Obama’s Republican foes were quick to accuse the vacationing president of flaccidity in face of danger. 9/11 plus nine. it is hard to be upbeat. That may be because nobody could accuse Mr Bush of being a less than diligent warrior. Fascinatingly. Muslim countries have been waiting for Mr Obama to match his words with deeds. but sent more to Afghanistan and used drones to kill far more suspected terrorists in Pakistan. Texas. doing the things American presidents do to defend America’s interests. for example. Like Americans waiting for economic recovery. Mr Obama promised to close Guantánamo. Barack Obama’s expected advantages are turning into handicaps in the war on terrorism. He said in Cairo that the plight of the Palestinians was intolerable. In the meantime. As a previous column argued. Mr Obama is somehow becoming more exotic to Americans. Sep 9th 2010 EVERY September 11th America mourns the people al-Qaeda murdered in the atrocities of 2001. and the reasons for the public doubt are perplexing. in a federal court instead of a military tribunal have likewise been greeted as evidence that the president is soft on terrorism. In 2003 Richard Reid. Dick Cheney. As the trauma of 9/11 recedes. That is not the case. When Mr Abdulmutallab failed to detonate his bomb last Christmas. his chief of staff. Moreover. Under Mr Obama America no longer waterboards detainees. many hoped that the advent of a kinder. so have the inhibitions that politicians once showed about exploiting the war against al-Qaeda for partisan advantage. Whatever expectations the Cairo speech aroused in the Muslim world have yet to be fulfilled. Mr Obama himself seemed to think that this might be possible. but the Palestinians are still stateless. however. and a third of conservative Republicans. Republicans were especially furious that the bomber was read his rights and not simply incarcerated as an enemy combatant. both the number who think he is a Muslim and the number who do not think he is a Christian have risen sharply since March 2009. the failure of Barack Obama to engineer the transformation some expected from him in the wider world has been no less dispiriting. The Pew Research Centre reported in June that the percentage of Muslims expressing confidence in him had declined in a year from 42% to 33% in Egypt and from 13% to 8% in Pakistan. was brought before a federal court. but that stopped on Mr Bush’s watch. to the dismay of liberals. Where the Muslim world sees just another president. a funny thing is happening on the home front. where plans for the misnamed “ground-zero mosque” are being portrayed as a deliberate attempt by radical Muslims to demonstrate “triumphalism” at the site of the atrocity. the formerly exotic Mr Obama has metamorphosed in office into just another American president. and have so far been disappointed. told the New York Times earlier this year that Mr Obama counted his Cairo speech to the Muslim world of June 2009 as one of the three most important things he had done to combat terrorism. Mr Obama has withdrawn combat troops from Iraq. a Nigerian. And in May Faisal Shahzad. Mr Obama is in fact a Christian. an American. In August a Pew survey found that nearly one in five. Rahm Emanuel. Only about a third of all Americans say he is a Christian and 43% say they do not know what religion he practises. Mr Obama cannot fail to see that he of all presidents would face severe punishment at the slightest sign of weakness. as evidenced by his own decision to keep some especially dangerous suspected terrorists imprisoned indefinitely without trial. said that Mr Obama was too busy trying to “transform America” to admit that it was at war. The administration’s stymied plans to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. And every year the anniversary compels an assessment of how the “war on terror” is faring. left a car bomb in Times Square in New York. If the emergence of home-grown Muslim terrorism has been bad enough. gentler president whose middle name was Hussein would help America to draw the poison. this is a ludicrous misreading of a well-intentioned initiative. And yet Mr Obama’s programme of Muslim outreach is already faltering. a new front has opened in the war on terrorism—not Yemen or Somalia but back in lower Manhattan. the growing belief that Mr Obama is a Muslim will compel him to be ever more risk-averse when choosing between safety and civil liberty. After the toxic impact of George Bush on Muslim opinion. but the outcry against it has fed a stream of anti-Muslim . Mr Obama said the choice between safety and ideals was “false”. On Christmas Day Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. After a year that saw a successful terrorist attack and two near-misses on American soil. But it is not hard to guess what the consequences might be. or suspect him of praying to other than the Christian God.[4] Lexington. killed 13 comrades in Fort Hood.

since the ADL hints at vague concerns about their ideology and finances) genuinely have chosen it in order to send a positive message about Islam. Part is presumably push: a feeling that he no longer belongs to the place where he lives. or the opportunities to rise—still seems to make it an easier place than Europe for Muslims to feel accepted and at home. not an apostle of religious war like Osama bin Laden. Why would any responsible American politician want to erase that vital distinction? Good question. or are tainted by. the leader of the band that killed more than 50 people in London in July. not at war with Islam. The campaign against the proposed Cordoba centre in New York is unjust and dangerous. including plans by the pastor of a small church in Florida to mark the anniversary of 9/11 by burning copies of the Koran. To the contrary. perhaps.” This is hardly rocket science. The Pew Research Centre reported three years ago that most Muslim Americans were “largely assimilated. a proposed community centre and mosque. Every single argument put forward for blocking this project leans in some way on the misconceived notion that all Muslims. [5] Lexington. or the separation of church and state. Ask Sarah Palin. Barack Obama has followed suit: the White House national security strategy published in May says that one way to guard against radicalisation at home is to stress that “diversity is part of our strength—not a source of division or insecurity. 2005. a legal immigrant. It was in part to preserve this feeling that George Bush repeated like a scratched gramophone record that Americans were at war with the terrorists who had attacked them on 9/11. To his credit. share the responsibility for. Either way. by the way. without impugning the motives of those who want to build it. what about the feelings. In the war on terror. Ms Palin called on “peaceful Muslims” to “refudiate” the “ground-zero mosque” because it would “stab” American hearts. the results can be lethal. tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square. and for that matter the rights. born in America and an army major. To the dismay of many liberal Jews. But something about America—the fact that it is a nation of immigrants. But at least it concedes that they have every right to build at this site—and that they might (only might. and Islam itself. The site was selected in part precisely so that it might heal some of the wounds opened by the felling of the twin towers and all that followed. Faisal Shahzad. killed 13 of his comrades in a shooting spree at Fort Hood. not one fabricated for the purposes of political correctness—between Islam. as in much else. and may become the ultimate tragedy. the ADL has also urged the centre’s backers to seek another site in order to spare the feelings of families of the 9/11 victims. He is modelling his project on New York’s 92nd Street Y. a religion with a billion adherents. happy with their lives… and decidedly American in their outlook. Mr Obama affirmed last month that in America Muslims had the same right to practise their religion as anyone else. Nidal Malik Hassan. Besides. America is plainly safer if its Muslims feel part of “us” and not. and al-Qaeda. some relatives of 9/11 victims are hurt by the idea of a mosque going up near the site. of America’s Muslims—some of whom also perished in the atrocity? Ms Palin’s argument does at least have one mitigating virtue: it concentrates on the impact the centre might have. a Jewish community centre that reaches out to other religions. this president’s pragmatic search for the middle way is in danger of satisfying nobody. was the homely Yorkshire accent in which he told his countrymen that “your” government is at war with “my people”. or its greater religiosity.sentiment. The Saudi non-sequitur . or the many others who have lately clambered aboard the offensive campaign to stop Cordoba House. True. a venerable Jewish organisation created to fight anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. tempered a day later by an insistence that he was taking no position on the wisdom of the Manhattan mosque. of his presidency. it is the brainchild of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. values and attitudes. a well-meaning American cleric who has spent years trying to promote interfaith understanding. Build that mosque. For a while America seemed less vulnerable than Europe to home-grown jihadism. It is turning into the recurring pattern. like Mohammad Sidique Khan. the atrocities of 9/11.” Since then it has become clear that American Muslims can be converted to terrorism too. or Newt Gingrich. part of “them”. And that means reminding Americans of the difference—a real one. Aug 5th 2010 WHAT makes a Muslim in Britain or America wake up and decide that he is no longer a Briton or American but an Islamic “soldier” fighting a holy war against the infidel? Part of it must be pull: the lure of jihadism. But it was a muted statement. But why should it? Cordoba House is not being built by alQaeda. In a tweet last month from Alaska. But that feeling of hurt makes sense only if they too buy the false idea that Muslims in general were perpetrators of the crime. A chilling feature of the suicide video left by Mohammad Sidique Khan. from being built in New York two blocks from the site of the twin towers. a terrorist outfit that claims to speak in Islam’s name but has absolutely no right or mandate to do so. The same half-defence can be made of the AntiDefamation League.

and was backed by. cheap communication. an American Muslim is a Muslim first and an American second. Quantros. reasoning that an inventor called Wang was probably of Chinese origin. So why not make it easier? Apr 22nd 2010 | From The Economist print edition IMMIGRANTS benefit America because they study and work hard. Trust matters. since native-born Americans seldom emigrate permanently. So although he and Mr Vargas Esquivel natter to each other in Spanish. He should rejoin the modern world. Yet although anyone can place a longdistance call. If they are a means of excluding outsiders. [6] Lexington. He developed an interest in software that helps to prevent medical errors. Vish Mishra. The benefits are hard to measure. Texan by choice”. Imam Feisal says he chose “Cordoba” in recollection of a time when the rest of Europe had sunk into the Dark Ages but Muslims.300 American hospitals. Network effects In Silicon Valley more than half of Chinese and Indian immigrant scientists and engineers report sharing information about technology or business opportunities with people in their home countries. according to . Perhaps 100. He moved to America when he was 19. After studying engineering. That is the standard argument in favour of immigration. Mr Ruzo wants the firm. so he turned to a network of ethnic Indian entrepreneurs called Tie. Ethnic networks have drawbacks. a reminder of a period when Muslim conquerors ruled Spain. it takes get-up-and-go to get up and go. an Indian doctor. Dr Kumar needed cash and business advice to commercialise his ideas. they can be stultifying. But there is another. culture and science. Ethnic networks can address this problem. Come again? Why hold the rights of Americans who happen to be Muslim hostage to the policy of a foreign country that happens also to be Muslim? To Mr Gingrich. which is why immigrants are abnormally entrepreneurial. He looked at the names on patent records. Most assimilate quickly. He met. Their firm now operates in ten countries and generates tens of millions of dollars in annual sales. Diasporas speed the flow of information: an ethnic Chinese trader in Indonesia who spots a commercial opportunity will quickly alert his cousin who runs a factory in Guangdong. while some called Martinez was probably Hispanic. immigrants help America plug into a vast web of global networks. He needed a partner. For example. This is not a small problem. Jews and Christians created an oasis of art. Like Mr bin Laden. an entrepreneur who describes himself as “Peruvian by birth. Vladimir Vargas Esquivel.000 Americans die each year because of preventable medical mistakes. before he does real harm. he founded a telecoms firm near Dallas. but he certainly has intellectual ones. That makes it impossible to excuse the mean spirit and scrambled logic of his assertion that “there should be no mosque near ground zero so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia”. Mr Gingrich sees only a “deliberate insult”. And it is starting to expand into India. it seems. His firm.No such plea of mitigation can be entered on behalf of Mr Gingrich. or whom to trust. Because they maintain links with the places they came from. America is linked to the world in a different way. The hub nation. including significant numbers from just about every country on earth. Indian-American employees help American consulting firms scout for talent in Bangalore. having linked up with a software firm there which is run by an old school chum of one of Dr Kumar’s Indian-American executives. Sanjaya Kumar. It does not have much of a diaspora. And ties of kin. He found that foreign researchers cite American-based researchers of their own ethnicity 30-50% more often than you would expect if ethnic ties made no difference. now sells its services to 2. according to the Institute of Medicine. But it has by far the world’s largest stock of immigrants. who was based in Costa Rica and looking to expand northward. It prospered. an Indian-American venture capitalist. It was a perfect fit. Many people have observed how the networks of overseas Chinese and Indians benefit their respective motherlands. But they accelerate the flow of information. A Chinese boffin in America may alert his old classmate in Beijing to cool research being done at the lab across the road. they insist that the firm’s official language must be English. Mr Gingrich also objects to the centre’s name. not everyone knows whom to call. and it is correct. Leaving your homeland is a big deal. but few sever all ties with their former homelands. clan or dialect ensure a high level of trust. The former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives may or may not have presidential pretensions. It is not just that a Chinese boffin in Beijing reads papers written by Chinese boffins in America. Immigration places America at the centre of a web of global networks. Nicaraguan-Americans put buyers in Miami in touch with sellers in Managua. He stumbled on one through a priest. which is called ITS Infocom. Al-Qaeda would doubtless concur. Mr Gingrich is apparently still relitigating the victories and defeats of religious wars fought in Europe and the Middle East centuries ago. By definition. Consider Andres Ruzo. This allows decisions to be made swiftly: multimillion-dollar deals can sometimes be sealed with a single phone call. arrived in America in 1992. And because of the way they were introduced—by a priest they both respected—they felt they could trust each other. Modern technology allows instant. to go global. but William Kerr of the Harvard Business School has found some suggestive evidence. and before long he was looking to expand into Latin America. less obvious benefit of immigration. who introduced him to another devout IT entrepreneur.

Berkeley. In other words. are more likely to invest in China and more likely to do so through a wholly owned subsidiary. few politicians are brave enough to be seen encouraging foreigners to compete for American jobs. Barack Obama has done little to fulfil his campaign pledge to do so. local knowledge reduces the cost of doing business. Immigrants can also help their American employers do business in their homelands. recruiters and boosters. rather than seeking the crutch of a joint venture.AnnaLee Saxenian of the University of California. they are also a conduit for spreading American ideas and ideals back to their homelands. Some Americans fret that China and India are using American know-how to out-compete America. Alas. But knowledge flows both ways. All of which makes the task of fixing America’s cumbersome immigration rules rather urgent. With unemployment still at nearly 10%. Immigration provides America with legions of unofficial ambassadors. for example. Firms that employ many ethnic Chinese scientists. thus increasing their adoptive country’s soft power. finds Mr Kerr. deal-brokers. As people in emerging markets innovate—which they are already doing at a prodigious clip—America will find it ever more useful to have so many citizens who can tap into the latest brainwaves from Mumbai and Shanghai. Immigrants not only bring the best ideas from around the world to American shores. .