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RESEARCH + OPINION ON PUBLIC POLICY
SPRING 2015

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The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace was established at Stanford University
in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, a member of Stanford’s pioneer graduating class of 1895 and the
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ON THE COVER
The flotilla on the cover of this issue was
one of a series of muscular military images
turned into posters for the British home
front during World War II, which ended
seventy years ago. The posters were meant
to encourage citizens to save money, work
hard, obey the rules, and keep their chin
up. The battleships firing their big guns in
this poster were classical symbols of military might, especially for a sea power such
as Britain, but their days were numbered.
The future would belong to the air. See
story, page 200.

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Spring 2015
HOOVER D IG EST

T E R R OR ISM
9

Political Islam: Will It Bury Us?
Said to have “no place in the modern world,” Islamist
extremists may bury that modern world. By Charles Hill.

18

Defend the Offender
A healthy society strikes this deal: to be tolerated yourself, you
must tolerate what offends you. By Richard A. Epstein.

23

Aux Armes!
The French are now on the front lines of the struggle against
radical Islam. Can they hold it back? By Reuel Marc Gerecht.

27

The Sea the Sharks Swim In
Islamist extremists prey on their own people even as they
draw strength from them. By Victor Davis Hanson.

34

Know Thy Enemy
Identifying the ideological foundations of hostile Islamism may
enable us to defeat it. By Joseph Felter.

37

The American Way of Satire
Why don’t US publications skewer religion the way Charlie
Hebdo does? For one thing, most Americans don’t think of
religion as a menace. By Joseph Joffe.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

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T HE ECO N OMY
41

Room to Soar
We can get this sluggish recovery off the ground. By John B.
Taylor

44

Keynesians in Retreat
They’ve been too wrong for far too long. By John H. Cochrane.

49

Know the Score
The House’s new “dynamic scoring” rule puts some badly
needed economic sense into lawmaking. By Edward Paul
Lazear.

52

Adam Smith, Life Coach
The great economist pondered not just markets but the people
who use them—and how honorable, happy citizens represent
the true wealth of nations. Hoover fellow Russell Roberts
explains. By Nick Gillespie.

IN EQUA LIT Y
62

Dishonest Demands
The “inequality warriors” don’t really care about enhancing
the nation’s prosperity. What they really want is power. By
John H. Cochrane.

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HE A LT H CA R E
66

Medicare Disadvantage
For an older population, relying on government-run health
care is a very bad idea. By Scott W. Atlas.

70

Three Fixes for ObamaCare
Target specific problems, enable the program to be fiscally
sound, and create bipartisan support. By Charles Blahous.

CA L IFORNIA
75

Brown Should Go All-In
He’s popular and California is (temporarily) solvent. This is
the moment for Jerry Brown to put California into the black.
By Michael J. Boskin.

79

California, There She Goes
When Senator Boxer leaves office—the first of California’s
“big three” to retire—expect havoc and mayhem. By Bill
Whalen.

84

Going with the Market Flow
Even when the drought ends, California and the West will
continue to thirst for water. Only a market can direct the
flow where it needs to go. By Gary D. Libecap and Robert
Glennon.

F OR E IGN P OL ICY
89

The War that Must Never Be Fought
To eliminate nuclear weapons, we must first eliminate
outmoded thinking. By James E. Goodby.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

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96

“Good Enough” Governance
In both wars and nation building, America has sacrificed the
good to pursue the perfect. We need to temper our ambitions.
By Stephen D. Krasner.

E N E R GY
100 Saved by the Drill
“Drill, baby, drill” was derided as a political punch line—until
it worked. By Victor Davis Hanson.

IM M IGRAT ION
104

Immigration that Works
How to mend a broken system. By Edward Paul Lazear.

T HE M IL ITA RY
108

Don’t Retreat on the Draft
The Pentagon may need reforms, but a return to conscription?
That would be double marching in the wrong direction. By
Timothy Kane.

115

An Army of None?
Why the United States still needs a versatile, cost-effective
Army. By Michael J. Arnold.

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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

T HE M IDDL E E AST
121

Irreconcilable Differences—Perhaps
A two-state solution could give Israel and the Palestinians
the “fair divorce” they want. But it would require two willing
partners, not just one. By Richard A. Epstein.

R USS I A
127

Army of Trolls
It sounds like something from Middle Earth: mindless trolls
carrying out their leader’s malevolent will. But the leader is
Vladimir Putin, and the battles are taking place in cyberspace.
By Paul R. Gregory.

IN T E RVIE W
135

“I Owe the President My Best Military Advice”
General Jim Mattis on what US fighting forces need most: a
clear mission and clear goals. By Peter Robinson.

IN M EMORIA M : MA R T IN ANDERSO N
148

Policy Powerhouse
Both a scholar and a skillful practitioner of the art of practical
politics, the late Hoover fellow Martin Anderson took
transformative ideas and made them real.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

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T HE GR E AT WA R C E N T E N NI AL
160

Remembering the Lusitania
The sinking of the famed liner, torpedoed within sight of
land, helped draw the United States into the war. It remains
a source of fascination—and speculation. By Bertrand M.
Patenaude.

HISTORY A ND C ULT URE
180

Stalin’s Monstrous Will
The first book of Hoover fellow Stephen Kotkin’s new history
of the Soviet Union presents a portrait of absolute power. By
Norman M. Naimark.

HOOV E R A R C HIVE S
188

Women and the Great War
During World War I, women stepped forward to volunteer,
protest, make weapons—even fight.

200 On the Cover

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T E R R OR I SM

Political Islam:
Will It Bury Us?
Said to have “no place in the modern world,”
Islamist extremists may bury that modern world.

By Charles Hill

A

trick question often contains the answer to itself, and the best
trick questions start a cascade of other consequential questions and their answers. The question imposing itself on us
today is this: “How and why is it that political Islam appears to

have failed wherever it has been tried in the modern world? Is there a basic
incompatibility with modernity?”
Something like that question was asked during the course of the Cold
War about Marxist communism; often the answer was, “Because it hasn’t
been tried yet.” That same answer might also apply to “political Islam” or
Islamism, but then produces the further question: what is political Islam?
The answer to this would certainly be that the “Islamic State” (a.k.a. the
Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham—ISIS, or, ISIL when al-Sham is translated
as “the Levant”), which appeared in mid-2014, is political Islam. Secretary
of State John Kerry pronounced on that: “There is literally no place for their
barbarity in the modern world.” And that cycles us around to the question:
“What is modernity?”

Charles Hill is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and chairman of
Hoover’s Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order.
H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

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All of which leads us to the most dramatic question of all: political Islam
may well be incompatible with modernity, but what if it is modernity that is
failing in the world today, while political Islam is succeeding?
All this is not a medieval-like matter of “angels dancing on the head of a
pin” as it may first appear. The answer to the primary question about political Islam’s compatibility with modernity is that political Islam’s purpose is
not only to be incompatible with modernity but also to oppose it, demolish it,
and replace it in every regard.
A RADICAL REJECTION
The modern world, despite all its various attributes, may be summarized
as a series of intellectual movements, institutional achievements,
and generally accepted ideas that across the span of the
past three or four centuries have slowly shaped
a basically workable and common international order: the Renaissance

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concept of humanism with the individual person as “the proper study
Political Islam is not just
of mankind”; the Reformation, which
incompatible with moderopened a vast arena for public activnity. It seeks to oppose it,
ity beyond religious control; the 1648
demolish it, and replace it
Treaty of Westphalia, which designed a
in every regard.
procedural international state system
available to all states regardless of their
particular political form of governance; the United Nations as “the world
organization of its member states” and a network of international institutions
and associations; and the idea of democracy or democratization—initiated
by the philosopher Kant in the eighteenth century—which in the post­–Cold
War period entered the international state system as a “procedural” addition
supported in UN Security Council resolutions.
Merely to list these characteristics of the modern international
system is to explain why

[Taylor Jones—For the Hoover Digest]

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political Islam considers it incompatible. Three main factors repeatedly have
been cited in its statements:
»» The concept of the state is itself at odds with Islamist views. As one ISIS
fighter said, when asked what his army’s purpose was, “We are opposed to
countries.”
»» Democracy can be interpreted in Islamist terms as an abomination
to the faith in that it requires legislation on behalf of a sovereign people,
whereas Islamists must adhere to sharia law alone.

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»» The premise of all modernity’s dimensions is multifariousness, diversity as desirable, while Islam is doctrinally uniate, requiring oneness in all
things.
And to these incompatibilities may be added the findings in 2002 of the
United Nations’ Arab Human Development Report, which described Arab societies as failing to meet modern standards for human rights, the acquisition
and exchange of knowledge, and freedoms for women. So, taken all together,
political Islam stands in stark opposition to the established modern world
order.
Two phenomena of recent decades have weakened the condition of the
international system. Every Arab-Islamic regime has governed its territory as a state and has been accepted as legitimate in its statehood by the
United Nations and international diplomacy. Yet all the while, the regimes
ruling these states—as hereditary monarchies, military juntas, or one-party
autocrats—have failed to respond to their people’s needs and aspirations, a
reality that produced the 2011 Arab Spring, which was quickly crushed by
the old regimes or replaced by ideologically radical Islamist forces, all leading to the Hobbesian “war of all against all” now ravaging the region. So the
modern international state system is barely surviving across this large swath
of the world.
And as the Middle East has come to a turning point whether it will shore
itself up within the modern state system or fall out of the established

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world order and become adversarial to it, the system itself has deteriorated drastically across the past several decades. The Cold War did
substantial damage to it, damage that was not repaired because uniquely
in the history of major modern warfare, no postwar settlement was
attempted by the surviving side. Then the 1990s became a time of belief
in “the peace dividend,” implying that international order could stand a
time of “deferred maintenance” and pretty much coast forward on its own
strength. And anyway, the intelligentsia of the West began to declare that
the building blocks of the system—the state, sovereignty, defense, and so
on—were outmoded concepts.
The European Union redefined itself as a benign form of anti-international
system, taking sovereign powers away from the states and giving them to
something that never became clear; the European Union today is neither a
state nor an empire and has deprived itself of much of its international influence. And the recent American message to the world that the United States
will be comfortable stepping back from world leadership in order to do
“nation-building at home”—one of President Barack Obama’s favorite phrases—has left the international system not only leaderless but also rudderless.
In the rhetoric of the corridors of the Kremlin and the pages of strategic
journals in Beijing, the line has emerged that the international state system
that may be traced back to 1648, and has been coextensive with the modern
era itself, is coming to an end. Russia
and China have been moving, sometimes brutally, sometimes step by step,
Political Islam may only
to prepare for the new world order to
now be approaching the
come, which will be a world of big powmoment in history, at least
ers without the constraints of universalsince the seventh century,
ity that the modern system assumed.
when it can experience
The United States has shown itself
compatibility with the age
to be politically unable to deal with
it inhabits.
the challenge posed by political Islam
and what needs to be done to meet it.
The states of the international state system, including those of the Middle
East, are vertical entities whose greatest threat across modern history has
come from horizontal ideologies capable of mobilizing masses of people in a
fighting cause that transcends state loyalties; communism was that, and so
is Islamism. Each is a fully comprehensive doctrine that rejects the nationstate as the fundamental entity of world affairs and aims to replace it with
a one-size-fits-all, top-down form of global governance.

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American strategies since September 11 have failed to grasp this reality. “Counterterrorism,” or the “war on terror,” could try to confront only
a tactic, not an ideology; “counterinsurgency” conceivably could start
to shore up troubled states but was
In the corridors of power in
soon abandoned by the United States
Moscow and Beijing, the
on the grounds that “we don’t do
view has emerged that the
nation-building.”
international state system
The emergence of ISIS was the
is coming to an end.
“horizontal” movement’s breakthrough—an army that could take and
hold territory. The United States does not have an Authorization for the Use
of Military Force that comprehends this reality. Thus when Obama called for
American military action to degrade and destroy ISIS, he could only use the
word “terrorism” to describe the challenge faced. Here is a case where strategists from Confucius to Thucydides to Machiavelli understood that actions
cannot be successful when “words lose their meaning” and their connection
to what needs to be done.
At the same time, in the assemblies, cafés, and faculty lounges of the West
the intelligentsia of the post–Cold War period declared the state to be outmoded and sovereignty irrelevant. We were to welcome a new era of nongovernmental activism, of diplomacy without need of strength, of global issues
that would transcend small-minded national interests. The European Union
epitomized these yearnings as it proceeded to dismast national ships of state
and amass bureaucratic powers in a supranational entity whose nature was
and remains undelineated. The very word “modern” seemed unserious, giving way for a while to “post-modern,” which then, in turn, went out of fashion,
leaving the age we inhabit with nothing but “contemporary” to describe our
time and its meaning.
INDIFFERENT TO DEMOCRACY
Much of the current situation can be summed up by the recent US decision
to recognize Castro’s Cuba, autocratic government and all. The international state system, beginning with the Treaty of Westphalia, set out a small
number of procedural requirements that a state would have to endorse to be
a member in good standing of the system. What political form the state chose
for its internal governance didn’t matter to the stewards of the system. The
United States and the course of the major wars of the twentieth century, following the thinking of Kant and Tocqueville, increasingly made the case that

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democracy was not just one of the many political forms of governance around
the world but was itself a necessary “procedure.”
In subsequent years, however, the political propensities of the intelligentsia
and the variety of troubles encountered by the democratizing states and the
American-fought wars of the early twenty-first century caused a reappraisal.
Francis Fukuyama, the political philosopher who at the end of the Cold War
had declared “the end of history”—meaning that democracy had finally been
recognized as the best form of governance—later recanted his position. China, which always had been grudging about the Westphalian system, stepped
into the new century with its “China Model”—in other words, an open
economy and a closed political system. Other autocratic or dictatorial states
followed in that direction. All this has given the Cuban Communist Party,
otherwise on the ropes, new life and confidence. The Cuban regime sees itself
following the China Model, having long since perfected all the mechanisms
needed to gather in for itself every dollar coming into Cuba while pretending
to pay the Cuban people with pesos.
The United States thus had a choice of scenarios: either the ever-popular
rosy scenario in which a change in American policy would sweep away the
old Fidelistas as a thriving
capitalist-tourist economy
modernized the island, or
Islamism, like communism, is a
watch the Cuban Communist
fully comprehensive doctrine that
Party use the change in US
aims to replace the nation-state
policy to keep doing what it
with a one-size-fits-all, top-down
has been doing, only now with
form of global governance.
ever more US dollars to vacuum up for party commissars
and cadres. So Obama changed the policy—and here’s the kicker—declaring
with satisfaction that it would enable Cuba to follow the China Model, something he suggested would be a victory for US policy.
But, as we have seen, China and Russia and their one-party state blocs
increasingly are opposed to the idea of democracy as the best “procedure” for
the international system and have begun to position themselves for the next
world order, which will not be procedural and internationally legal but hierarchical and power-dominated, very likely no longer a “Free World” at all.
So the modern age, and modernity itself, may be coming to be seen as
just one more in the historic sequence of time periods measured by the rise
and fall of cultural themes, systemic structures, and leading intellectual and
moral actors. Put in terms of Thomas Kuhn’s theory about the structure

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of scientific revolutions, the modern
“paradigm” may be close to the point
History is not predeterof jumping to a quite different way of
mined to proceed always in
viewing and understanding the world.
a progressive, ever-better
If so, political Islam, or Islamism, may
direction.
only now be approaching the moment
in history, at least since the seventh century, when it can experience compatibility with the age it inhabits: the greater Middle East, as it was called at the
opening of this new twenty-first century, would become a radical sphere of
influence unto itself, dedicated to the downfall of non-Muslim structures of
governance.
As the stewards of the modern age stand back, abdicate, or just lose interest, newly energized forces push outward. Russia and China each see, and
speak fairly openly of, the paradigm to come, which is taking the shape of
the premodern “sphere of influence” world, defined by forms of suzerainty in
which Asia will be Beijing’s domain and Eastern Europe and South Central
Asia under the sway of Moscow. Modernity’s linchpin, the “equality of state”
doctrine, would be cast aside.
Kerry’s statement about ISIS having “no place in the modern world” was
oblivious to the possibility that the modern world itself may be coming to an
end. History is not predetermined to proceed always in a progressive, everbetter direction. If the current course of events and ideas is not reversed, the
coming age will have abandoned its assumptions of open trade, open expression, and the ideal of government by consent of the governed. Political Islam
will be comfortable with itself at last.
Reprinted by permission of Politico (www.politico.com). © 2014 Politico
LLC. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is The
Weaver’s Lost Art, by Charles Hill. To order, call (800)
888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

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T ERRORI S M

Defend the
Offender
A healthy society strikes this deal: to be tolerated
yourself, you must tolerate what offends you.

By Richard A. Epstein

T

he senseless slaughters at Charlie Hebdo had the welcome
consequence of uniting in massive public demonstrations those
who are all too often locked in conflict. But signs of solidarity,
like those in Paris, will not achieve their intended purpose unless

they spur everyone to re-examine the fundamental principles of social cooperation needed to combat an ever-widening cycle of death and destruction.
We must come to terms with today’s deep tension between skepticism and
fundamentalism. A small group of Muslim terrorists insists that there is only
one right answer to any question of practice or faith—their own. Armed with
that false confidence, they leap to the conclusion that any use of force in the
defense of their faith is legitimate. To Muslim fundamentalists, infidels in
the West have to be treated like outlaws. Open critics of their position, from
Salman Rushdie to the staff of Charlie Hebdo, are singled out for a cruel fate
and must be killed on sight. It is impossible to reason with these fundamentalists. Anyone raising doubts about the truth or soundness of the position
Richard A. Epstein is the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover
Institution and a member of the steering committee for Hoover’s Working Group
on Intellectual Property, Innovation, 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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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

only supplies conclusive evidence of their wanton disregard of the truth, and
must perish for their sins.
No one should claim that Muslims are unique in their intolerance. Historically, such adamant certitude has also been part of the Western religious
tradition. But over time, and only after much painful experience, Western
extremisn was tempered by moral skepticism. The skeptics began with the
simple proposition that not all inconsistent
religious and social belief systems can be
You disarm, we disarm;
true. The only certainty in life, therefore, is
but if you fight, we fight
that one’s own religious and social beliefs
harder.
could prove wrong in light of further reflection and experience. So chastened, the
consistent skeptic must find a way out of his bind. How can he defend his
bedrock beliefs when he has just announced in advance that no worldview is
immune from criticism?
Answering this question requires an appeal to an abstract philosophical
adherence to parity between rival fundamentalist camps. That parity in turn
could be of two sorts. The first allows each side to kill each other as a matter
of right so that the Hobbesian war of all against all becomes a war to the
death among religious and political factions. Talk about social arrangements
that make life “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”! No one comes out a
winner within the confines of this worldview.
Evidently, therefore, for the good of all humankind, the pendulum of equality has to swing sharply to the opposite pole. Each group has to tolerate the
offense that they experience when other groups practice alien beliefs. No
religious or political group is allowed to use force, or the threat of force, to
subjugate or destroy those who do not bend to their will. Moral skepticism
leads to an embrace of a global nonaggression pact. All sides are far better
off with the mutual renunciation of force than they are with the unabated
warfare that the Muslim extremists practice, seemingly at every opportunity.
One theoretical challenge to this position is whether, and if so how, this
principle is reconcilable with John Stuart Mill’s great pronouncement from
On Liberty: “That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent
harm to others.” This clarion call to liberty unfortunately carries with it a
potentially fatal internal ambiguity. As stated, the harm principle places no
extrinsic limits on what counts as “harm” to others. With only a little ingenuity, the exception can swallow the rule, authorizing the creation of a large
state and, in a pinch, the use of private violence.

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One tempting definition of “harm to others” that has a utilitarian patina is
that actions by one person count as harm to others when those other parties
find themselves worse off by that conduct. In resisting that easy transition,
the lawyers have been ahead of the philosophers. From ancient times, they
have adhered, as much by instinct
as by theory, to the proposition
Over time, and only after
that important classes of harms
much painful experience,
are properly described as damnum
historical Western extremabsque injuria, or “harm without legal
ism was tempered by moral
injury.” Pinpointing these classes of
non-actionable or non-cognizable
skepticism.
harms is critical for maintaining a
sound social order. The key insight is that harm is limited to the application
of force, threat of force, and the use of traps and other devices.
Under this definition three classes of harms receive strong social protection. The first of these is competitive harm, that is, the loss of customers
and profits one individual suffers at the hands of a rival merchant who
offers better products at lower prices. The second comes into play when
an individual builds on his or her property in ways that block the views of
a neighbor who has already built. The third concerns a person who makes
statements that others find deeply offensive to their moral and religious
beliefs.
The logic behind this principle is as follows. Every interaction between two
people has profound effects, both positive and negative, on third persons.
The private harms should only be cognizable in a court of law when the suit
advances the overall systematic welfare. Stopping force has huge positive
benefits. Stopping competition has huge detriments. Socially, a dollar’s loss
by theft thus counts more than millions of dollars in competitive losses. So,
too, the ability of all individuals to build on their land is far better than a rule
that keeps all land in its natural state lest construction interfere with the
views of a neighbor.
But for our purposes, the key category is the last: offense at the views
taken by others, however deep and genuine, is never a reason to stop or
punish, either by private or public force, the speech or action that causes
those responses. People can criticize these barbs, and can respond in kind.
But so long as these general statements of opinion involve neither the use
nor threat of force or fraud, they are absolutely protected. That principle has
been adopted in key American decisions, most notably, the 1989 flag burning case of Texas v. Johnson, where the court held that the offense that other

20

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

individuals took at the burning of the flag did not justify criminal prosecution
of that conduct, no matter how vulgar and disrespectful the conduct.
The libertarian rule treats simple offense as harm that receives no legal
redress. In these cases, the only thing the indignant person gets is a stomach ulcer. He cannot parlay that indignation into a new set of rights. As the
rate of return from anger is reduced, the willingness to work one’s self into a
frenzy will necessarily be reduced as well. The key move is never to fan the
fires of discontent by using them as reasons to use force against others.
Of course, individuals can seek to persuade others to align with them, but
they will know that those on the other side of the issue can seek to mobilize
public opinion against them too, as in Paris. Some fine points arise when
individuals engage in defamation—that is, false statements about the plaintiff
that the defendant makes to third parties. But these cases are not an exception, because defamation violates the libertarian prohibition against fraud
and thus has been long regarded as actionable like other forms of deception.
The hard question, then, is what to do with those who refuse to accept the
universal truce not to use violence against those who dare to utter statements they regard as blasphemous.
Here again the libertarian theory offers the first step. By their refusal,
these violent actors become outlaws. Those who are prepared to use force
should be subject to the full range of criminal and civil sanctions. Individuals and the
All sides are far better
state may use force to resist force, they may
work hard to ferret out threats of the use
off with the mutual
of force before they materialize, and they
renunciation of force.
may root out conspiracies of individuals for
particular acts of violence. Similar hostility is the order of the day against the
nations and groups that practice the use of unlawful force or harbor those
that do. Once again, it is critical to note that the libertarian vision seeks to
preserve a large domain for protest and dispute, but it is relentless against
those do not play the game in accordance with those rules.
Its basic principle is: you disarm, we disarm; but if you fight, we fight
harder.
At this point, the practical program should be clear. It is no longer defensible to try to soft-pedal the enormity of the difficulty by announcing some
supposed parity between murderers and the people they murder. Supposed
social grievances against those who ridicule and deal in satire must fall on
deaf ears. Moral equivocation worsens our ability to maintain an ordered
liberty. Force must be met with force. France, the United States, and other

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

21

nations must conduct massive manhunts against those who commit terrorist actions, properly labeled as such. They must go further and deprive these
individuals of the sanctuaries from which these attacks can be brought,
which means troops on the ground as well as planes in the air.
It cannot do for a weak, indecisive President Obama to allow a force like
ISIS, with thirty thousand men under arms, to hold territory indefinitely
until local troops hopefully become strong enough to root them out. We need,
as I have said before, a return to the Pax Americana. If the nations of the
West and the rest of the free world do not insist on the universal adherence
to the principles by which they bind themselves, an angry public through the
political process should displace them with new leaders who are prepared to
wage war against those who wage war against us.
Reprinted from Defining Ideas (www.hoover.org/publications/definingideas), a Hoover Institution journal. © 2015 by the Board of Trustees of
the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is
Democracy’s Dangers and Discontents: The Tyranny
of the Majority from the Greeks to Obama, by Bruce S.
Thornton. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

22

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

T E R R OR I SM

Aux Armes!
The French are now on the front lines of the struggle
against radical Islam. Can they hold it back?

By Reuel Marc Gerecht

T

he terrorist attack in Paris was a long time coming.
After the 9/11 attacks on the United States, Western coun-

terterrorist experts probably feared European radical Muslims
more than they did Islamist militants in the Middle East. Since

the early 1990s, when Algeria’s savage war between the military junta and
Islamists began to spill over into France, the French internal-security service, now known as the Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur, or
DCRI, began to ramp up its capacity to monitor Muslim militants.
On November 27, 2001, France’s premier counterterrorist magistrate, JeanLouis Bruguière, was pessimistic about “autonomous” jihadist cells in Europe
and North America that “don’t need to receive orders to pass into action.” The
Iraq War added to this widespread anxiety. Many believed that the Anglo-American invasion would provoke a maelstrom of holy warriors against the West.
It didn’t happen then. But it may be happening now.
The lethal attack in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo—which
has made a specialty of mocking both sides of the too-much-Islam-in-Europe
debate, and in 2012 famously published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad—probably isn’t a lone-wolf affair. But it may represent what Bruguière
feared: native jihadist cells that can act independently of foreign terrorist

Reuel Marc Gerecht is a contributor to the Hoover Institution’s Herbert and Jane
Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

23

organizations, like Al-Qaeda or Islamic State, but may act in concert, and
certainly in sympathy, with these groups.
The DCRI, easily the most effective domestic-intelligence organization in
Western Europe, has been sounding the alarm for over a year, warning that
the Syrian insurrection against the Bashar al-Assad regime was becoming
too bloody and too irresistibly magnetic for French Sunni Muslims. Several
hundred of them have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight under the banner of
Islamic State and other radical groups. Hundreds of other European Muslims appear to have joined them. The French bastion against domestic terror
appears to be cracking.
This isn’t good news, because America’s dependence on the French service
and Great Britain’s domestic-intelligence outfit, MI5, cannot be overstated.
They are part of America’s front line in the war against Islamic holy warriors. Take away communications intercepts, an American forte, and Washington has effectively no unilateral capacity to monitor Islamic militants on
European soil. Other Western European services are quick to confess that
the British and French are their models and have been indispensable in their
own efforts to understand and check Islamic radicalism in a continent that is
now effectively without borders.
If the French, who have more police and security officers per capita than
any other Western country, cannot monitor and check Muslim extremists at
home, Islamic radicals in Europe and elsewhere will surely take note.
The ability of Western European citizens to travel without visas offers
enormous opportunities for jihadists whose dream target remains the United
States. There are now so many European Muslims it is impossible for American officials to identify suspect radicals without European assistance. Even
random, targeted selections and entry denials, based on best guesses, could
cause serious diplomatic problems with America’s European allies, who must
protect the travel rights of their citizens. The Europeans carry the heavy
load of American security in addition to their own.
The rise of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq—the first time jihadism has
successfully conquered and occupied any large territory—has introduced a
historically evocative charisma into Islamic fundamentalism. Islamic charismatics are always bad news for Westerners, even if their primary targets are
Shiites, Kurds, and Yazidis. The spillover is unavoidable, given the anti-Western core of modern Islamic militancy.
Part of the problem for Europe is undeniably homebrewed. The alarming, so far unchecked rise of anti-Semitism and violence against European
Jews that is practiced by both Muslim and non-Muslim Europeans isn’t

24

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

[Taylor Jones—For the Hoover Digest]

coincidental to the increase of Islamic terrorism in Europe. Contrary to the
bizarre contention of US Secretary of State John Kerry, Israel and the travails of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process had nothing to do with the rise
of Islamic State and the birth of a new jihadism that is far more appealing
than the less territorially successful jihadism of Al-Qaeda. Anti-Semitism has
become inseparable from the gospel of a charged Islamic identity. (Western
anti-Semitism, traditional Islamic suspicion of Jews, and anti-Zionism have
congealed.) Anti-Semitism goes up in Europe as the appeal of a European
identity to Muslims goes down.
Anti-Semitism nourishes the radical Islamic vision of a humbled Europe,
once the motherland of imperialism. It encourages the idea that Muslims
can dictate the terms of European expression about Islam. Not that long ago,
Muslims couldn’t have cared less what Europeans thought about them or their
prophet. Christians and Jews were infidels, after all, benighted souls not worth
bothering with. That has changed as Europe’s Muslim population has grown
and radicalized, and as traditional Islamic injunctions from the homelands
were imported into an ultra-tolerant, increasingly politically correct Europe.
The French identity, more open than most European identities, has
appealed to millions of Muslim immigrants. Thoughtful French intellectuals just a decade ago hoped that “French Islam” might work. A decade of
troubles, including large riots in predominantly Muslim suburbs, increasingly
lethal anti-Semitism, and now terrorism, has stirred serious doubts even
among the most optimistic.
Americans ought to hope that the French can get all of this right. If they can,
then this horrible moment, too, shall pass. If they can’t—and it isn’t clear that
the French can solve their worst counterterrorist problems unless Islamic
State is demagnetized (pre-eminently an American military problem)—then
the grim analysis in 2001 by Judge Bruguière may prove prescient.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. © 2015 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is The
Wave: Man, God, and the Ballot Box in the Middle East,
by Reuel Marc Gerecht. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or
visit www.hooverpress.org.

26

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

T E R R OR I SM

The Sea the
Sharks Swim In
Islamist extremists prey on their own people even
as they draw strength from them.

By Victor Davis Hanson

T

he terrorism in Paris is yet another chapter in an ongoing
Western debate over a seeming paradox. Almost all recent global
terrorism is attributable to Islamic-inspired violence—much
of it directed against Muslims. And yet the vast majority of the

world’s 1.5 billion Muslims do not directly aid and abet the spate of Islamic
extremism.
How then to focus on the Islamic terrorists without polluting the surrounding sea in which these sharks swim?
Do history’s radical movements assume initial or even ongoing popular
majorities to ensure their viability? Obviously, the vast majority of Germans,
Japanese, Italians, and Russians did not support the extremists who came to
power with Hitler, Tojo, Mussolini, and Lenin. Indeed, besides carrying out
the Holocaust against the Jews, Hitler killed thousands of his own Germans,
an array of homosexuals, communists, domestic critics, and the physically
handicapped. Stalin caused more deaths among his fellow Soviet citizens in
the Twenties and Thirties than the Wehrmacht later did.

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the
Hoover Institution and the chair of Hoover’s Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict.
H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

27

The point is that extremist movements, even when they become strong
enough to reach power, are not always particularly kind to their own or well
liked among them. That Muslim radicals kill Muslims in their midst does not
necessarily mean that they do not prefer to kill non-Muslims.
The continued influence of radical Muslims who engage in terrorism
hinges on whether they bring power, prestige, and resources to the people
they otherwise usually oppress. Islamic theocrats control governments

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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

only in the Gulf, Iran, and Gaza, and are trying to cobble together a
caliphate largely in Syria and Iraq. Turkey likewise is moving toward
theocracy. But Islamists are active, both above and below the radar,
in almost every Muslim-majority nation—and they can manage this
even where they enjoy very little popular support.
MILLIONS LOOK THE OTHER WAY
A great deal of attention has been given to radically changing
views toward Islamist terrorism in the
Middle East, after the disintegration of Syria and the rise of

[Taylor Jones—For the Hoover Digest]

H O O V E R D IG E S T • S P RING 2015

29

the Islamic State, along with the bloody rampage of Boko Haram in central
Africa.
But what is even more striking is the large minorities who still either are
willing to state their support for terrorists or say they are unconcerned
about their activity. According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, Muslim
support for suicide bombing has dropped in recent years. Yet even so, in 2014
in major Islamic lands—the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Egypt, and
Jordan—somewhere between 18 and 46 percent of the population expressed
approval for the proposition that
suicide bombing against civilian
Islamists are active, both
targets can “often/sometimes be
above and below the radar, in
justified in order to defend Islam
almost every Muslim-majority
from its enemies.”
The vast majority of Musnation—even when they enjoy
lims no longer express support
little popular support.
for the late Osama bin Laden,
but sizable minorities in some countries still do: 15 percent in Egypt, 23
percent in Bangladesh, and 25 percent in Palestine. The polls suggest
two disturbing possibilities. In a world of 1.5 billion Muslims, perhaps 150
million Muslims worldwide—10 percent—still admire bin Laden, are not
concerned about Islamist violence, and support suicide bombing against
the perceived enemies of Islam. While Muslim majorities are beginning
to react negatively to the escalating violence in their midst, millions of
Muslims still do not.
In a historical sense, under political and religious systems that tolerate
no dissent—it is still a capital crime in most Muslim countries to slander
the Prophet Muhammad or to become an apostate from Islam—it is hard to
assess what percentage of the population at any given time supports radical
leadership. Hitler was extremely popular with the German people after the
fall of France in June 1940, but he was generally disliked by mid-1944, the
time of the heavy bombing of German cities, the invasion of Normandy, and
the collapsing German front in the east.
Yet throughout those years, the Allies nonetheless used the inexact rubric
“Germans” without concern for the fact that over the duration of the war
sometimes many, sometimes very few Germans supported what was done by
the Third Reich in the name of Germany. Just as foreigners more recently
talked inclusively of “Americans” without regard for Republicans or Democrats, who had far different views by 2006 on the Iraq War, and as people
speak of “Christians” to mean everyone from Southern Baptists to Brazilian

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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

Catholics, so it is just as legitimate or illegitimate to generalize about
“Muslims.”
In 2003, substantial numbers of people in many Muslim countries expressed
“confidence” in Osama bin Laden—46 percent in Pakistan, 56 percent in Jordan, 59 percent in Indonesia, 72 percent in Palestine (all these recipients of US
aid). Those favorability ratings declined significantly after the terrorist hijackings of the so-called Arab Spring, the internecine wars in Lebanon, the collapse
of Syria, the crimes of Boko Haram, and the rise of the Islamic State. Was it
politically correct to say that “Muslims” supported terrorism in 2003 because
a clear majority in places like moderate Jordan so polled?
RADICALIZED BUT PASSIVE
Clearly polls are not the only evidence of the level of support for Islamicinspired radicalism. More important can be the degree of passivity of the
population. Egyptian leader Abdul Fattah al-Sisi recently argued that the
Muslim clerical establishment bore a great deal of responsibility for global
Islamic terrorism, not because these clerics necessarily voiced support for
it but because they were unwilling or unable to mobilize Muslims against it.
I can recall meeting with a group of Libyan exiles living in the United States
in 2006, all of whom were highly educated, Americanized professionals.
They voiced optimism that their former tormentor Muammar Gadhafi was
liberalizing their country and offering hope of re-creating a civil society even
for secularized dissidents
like themselves. But when I
mentioned the then-current
We should not be surprised if
case of the Islamic attacks
sizable Muslim minorities voice
against those associated with
support for the Charlie Hebdo
the caricatures of Muhammassacre.
mad in the Danish newspaper
Jyllands-Posten, all four Libyans voiced unanimous approval of the violence
against such blasphemers. And when I asked them about the then-recent
suicide bombings in Israel, they again voiced support for such activities.
So far, international polling organizations have not conducted surveys in
Muslim countries to ascertain popular attitudes about the attack on Charlie
Hebdo. However, we should not be surprised if sizable minorities voice their
support. I would assume that a certain number of Muslims worldwide—perhaps the 150 million posited above—would admire the so-called martyrs
whose terrorist acts were thought to be in service to the reputation of the
prophet.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

31

While there is great talk in the West that only a small minority of Muslims
support Islamic terrorism, and that the remedy for such terrorism must be
found within the world of Islam, there is not much logical or historical evidence that such truisms matter much. Ten percent is a tiny minority of any
population. But if 10 percent of Muslims worldwide support ongoing terrorist
movements, that is still 150 million Muslims, who comprise a large enough
pool to aid and abet terrorism, either by giving moral and financial support
or by acting as pressure groups within mostly autocratic political systems.
If just 10 percent of the French population is Muslim, and perhaps just
10 percent of that subset supports Islamic violence, there remains a pool
nevertheless of perhaps six hundred thousand radicalized French residents
of Middle Eastern descent that offers the sort of environment in the French
suburban ghettos that spawns the current terrorist violence.
Moreover, theoretical support or rejection of terrorism as evidenced by
polls does not necessarily translate into real-life consequences, especially in
non-democratic societies—as we know from supposed German disenchantment with Hitler during the last year of World War II. Were we wrong in
January 1945 to keep bombing “the Germans,” given that most by then both
did not like the Nazi government and yet did not dare to actively oppose it?
The truth is that to the degree that radical Muslim terrorists kill other
Muslims inside Islamic countries and make collective progress impossible,
or, by their actions, do tangible damage to the reputation of these Islamic
countries overseas, they will become unpopular and eventually find too little
support to continue their violence.
However, if Islamic-inspired violence abroad does not directly and negatively
affect the Middle East, or if it creates a fear of radical Islam among Westerners
that does not translate into hardship for the Muslim world—or that perhaps
even succeeds in winning a sort of warped prestige—then there is no reason to
expect the Islamic community to take the necessary measures to curb it.
ANGRY AND INSECURE
The sense of perceived persecution in the Middle East is real—analogous
to Germany’s lamentations over the Treaty of Versailles. The retreat into
Islamic-inspired terror reflects a larger, complex stew of anger at the reach
of Western globalization into traditional and conservative Muslim societies
and of envy of the wealth and influence of the Western world, combined with
an inability to offer self-critical analyses about the role of tribalism, statism,
gender apartheid, religious fundamentalism, intolerance, autocracy, and antiSemitism in institutionalizing poverty and instability.

32

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

For a sizable minority of Muslim immigrants to the West, a sense of inferiority is sometimes enhanced rather than diminished by contact with Western
liberal society. The longer and further immigrants are away from the mess
of the Middle East that caused them to flee or at least stay away, the more
they are able under the aegis of Western freedom, prosperity, and security to
romanticize what provides them with
the sense of self they have not earned
When Islamic-inspired
in their adopted countries.
violence can conjure up
In the Middle East, when modern
a sort of warped prestige,
societies reach such a point, they
there is no reason to expect
prefer to blame Jews or “the decadent
the Muslim community to
West” rather than their own pathologies for a perceived descent from
curb it.
the glories of a past—and religiously
pure—age. Liberal internal reform would be the only lasting cure of their
maladies, but, tragically, such an impetus is usually thrust upon them by
forces from the outside, even if only a small but influential and activist minority is responsible for acting out such self-destructive agendas.
When the nihilism of radical Islam manifests itself not just in the bombings
in Paris or Boston but right at home with the rise of the murderous Islamic
State, or when the Arab Spring is hijacked by Islamists who typically leave
Somalias in their wake, or when Middle Eastern Muslims find it hard to emigrate to and reside in Western countries or to freely import Western goods,
or when states that behead and stone are shunned by the West, then support
for the terrorists and what produced them will begin slowly to fade.
Reprinted by permission of National Review Online. © 2015 National
Review, Inc. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is In this
Arab Time: The Pursuit of Deliverance, by Fouad
Ajami. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

33

T ERRORI S M

Know Thy Enemy
Identifying the ideological foundations of hostile
Islamism may enable us to defeat it.

By Joseph Felter

Y

ou cannot kill, capture, or incarcerate an idea, and it is the
radicalizing ideas undergirding militant Islam that inspire misguided young men from around the world to attack the United
States and its interests. The hostile Islamic extremist ideol-

ogy is at the root of the most serious threats we face in the Middle East and
defines the war in which we have embarked.
Early in what would be a protracted war against ideologically motivated
extremists, an American president admonished the nation that “we face
a hostile ideology global in scope . . . ruthless in purpose, and insidious in
method. Unhappily, the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration.”
While eerily similar to the political discourse in the early years of the war
on terror, this warning was made by President Eisenhower in his farewell
address to the nation on January 17, 1961. Eisenhower continued with a warning that “to meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional
and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry
forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged
and complex struggle with liberty the stake.”
The United States and our NATO allies mobilized all instruments of
national power in what indeed became a steady approach to the prolonged,
complex struggle that eventually defeated Soviet communism, effectively
Joseph Felter is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a senior research scholar
at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.
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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

winning the Cold War almost three decades later. Notably, the multifaceted
effort to defeat communism included concerted efforts to know the enemy:
not just Soviet military forces and those the USSR supported in places such
as Cuba, Vietnam, and satellite states, but the ruthless and insidious communist ideology itself.
In the course of the US and Western victory over Soviet communism, great
efforts were made to understand the underpinnings and complexities of this
hostile ideology. Our finest academic institutions and other centers created
entire disciplines to study communism, its thought leaders, and its ideological
roots. These efforts exposed communism’s internal inconsistencies, ideological fractures, and other weaknesses. Scholars and analysts learned to identify
debates over strategy, and internal disagreements over timing and tactics,
among communist leaders and ideologues. Eventually the fault lines and failures of communism were exposed, contributing to its end.
The implosion of Soviet communism is relevant to America’s attempts to
reboot its policies in the Middle East and gain a deeper understanding of the
most pernicious threats there to US national security. We have failed to heed
an important, hard-earned lesson from our Cold War victory: a key part of
a comprehensive strategy to defeat an ideologically motivated enemy is to
exploit opportunities to discredit and delegitimize that ideology in the eyes of
its misguided adherents.
Most Americans—even those who came of age long after the defeat of Soviet
communism—recognize the names and even images of influential communist
ideologues and leaders like Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Guevara,
and Castro. Almost fourteen years since nineteen ideologically motivated terrorists of Middle Eastern descent—fifteen of them from Saudi Arabia—attacked
the United States, and amid a resurgent Islamist threat in Iraq and Syria, the
average US citizen and a majority of our policy makers are far less likely to be
familiar with the thought leaders inspiring the adherents of radical Islam.
The most important thought leaders dead or living in Al-Qaeda, for
example, are not Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, or other well-known
operational leaders. A rigorous analysis by the Combating Terrorism Center
(CTC) at West Point, led by William McCants, found otherwise. Instead,
efforts at identifying influence in the jihadi Salafist network led to Middle
Easterners unknown to most Americans and Westerners: people like Abu
Muhammad al Maqdisi, Abu Basir al-Tartusi, Abd al-Qadir ibn Abd al-Aziz,
and Abu Qatada al-Filistini.
There is clear evidence that the grand ideas developed by these scholars and other ideologues little known in the West inform the radicalization

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

35

efforts carried out by extremist recruiters—in mosques, madrassas, and
online—and inspire terrorist attacks in the Middle East and around the
world. To be clear, these radicalizing ideas are not sanctioned within mainstream Islam or maintained by the vast majority of Muslims. In fact, the
most powerful weapons that can be wielded against these radicalizing ideas
are the counterarguments by respected Salafist clerics who may share many
of the extreme views of these radicals—such as establishing and governing
Islamic states—but differ on critical interpretations of how to achieve these
ends, namely, whether it is permissible to kill innocents in pursuit of their
aims.
The United States and the West have only a limited ability to overtly
challenge the arguments Al-Qaeda and ISIS use to inspire and justify their
violent and radical behavior. Identifying and amplifying the arguments of
Salafist scholars, clerics, and other critics of extremist strategies and tactics
is more likely to resonate with these groups and have an effect.
Prevailing in the region calls for a more informed appreciation of the
enemy and recognition of the real nature of the conflicts. Thus far we have
largely failed on both counts. Clausewitz acknowledges that “the aim of war
should be to defeat the enemy” but also that “the conquest of his whole territory is not always necessary, and total occupation of his territory may not
be enough.” Denying extremists safe havens and the ability to seize territory
are important. The key terrain in this ideological struggle, however, may be
between the ears of these extremists, their supporters, and their would-be
recruits, who conspire to do us harm.
Subscribe to the Hoover Institution’s online journal Strategika (www.
hoover.org/publications/strategika), where this essay first appeared. ©
2014 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is The
Consequences of Syria, by Lee Smith. To order, call
(800) 888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

36

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

T E R R OR I SM

The American
Way of Satire
Why don’t US publications skewer religion the
way Charlie Hebdo does? For one thing, most
Americans don’t think of religion as a menace.

By Josef Joffe

T

he massacre at Charlie Hebdo ranks among the most heinous
crimes of our time. One-and-a-half million Frenchmen thronging Paris and proclaiming “Je suis Charlie” was a message heard
in every Islamist terror hideout: we, all of Europe, will stand

together against this act of war on our most sacred of freedoms. Charlie
Hebdo may well be Europe’s 9/11.
The reaction in the United States was sympathetic but subdued. Americans will never forget 9/11, nor will they forget the thousands who have fallen
in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the slaughter of twelve in “revenge” for cartooning is beyond the American imagination.
Could something like the Charlie Hebdo massacre happen in the United
States? In the twisted world of Islamist terror, anything is possible. But there
is no Charlie Hebdo in America, though the magazine was named after the
Peanuts character Charlie Brown. Chalk one up to the American exception.
Josef Joffe is the Marc and Anita Abramowitz Fellow in International Relations
at the Hoover Institution, a member of Hoover’s Working Group on the Role of
Military History in Contemporary Conflict, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and publisher-editor of
the German weekly Die Zeit.
H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

37

What is the difference? The killers of 9/11 attacked the twin towers as a
symbol of American might. The United States harbors some of the world’s
greatest newspapers and magazines. But there is no American publication
of weight that deals in equal-opportunity religion-bashing, whether directed
against Christians, Jews, or Muslims. The absence of blasphemy laws in
“God’s own country” makes this restraint even more astounding.
There is almost nothing to keep an American paper from replicating the
audacity of Charlie Hebdo, which depicted such scenes as a priest advising
a bishop on how to beat a pedophilia charge, or a masked terrorist beheading the Prophet Muhammad. There is no federal law criminalizing ridicule
or contempt. There is just the holiest of holies, the First Amendment, which
enshrines freedom of religion, speech, and the press.
Some states still have antiblasphemy laws that reach back to the Founding or before, like a 1697 Massachusetts Bay statute threatening with prison
“whoever willfully blasphemes the holy name of God.” The last person so
jailed was the radical evangelist Abner Kneeland in 1838. Thirty years later,
the Fourteenth Amendment decreed that the Bill of Rights constrains not
only the federal government but also the states.
No Western nation gives so much latitude to free speech as the United
States. So why no Charlie Hebdo? The answer comes in three parts.
»» Culture. No other Western nation has flung itself full-speed into modernity
and yet retained its religiosity. Pollsters regularly ask: is it necessary to believe in
God? More than half of US respondents say yes. In Germany, the number falls to
33 percent, in Britain to 20 percent, and in France 15 percent. Church attendance
reveals a similar divide. Sixty percent of Americans go to church at least once a
month. In Southern Europe, only 36 percent do so; in the North, 27 percent.
So there’s a “God gap” across the Atlantic. America keeps on praying while
Europe is de-Christianizing. Such figures suggest an almost tautological
conclusion: the more religious a nation, the more it will respect religion, be it
yours or mine. Hence neither derision nor denigration.
»» A free market for religion. Since Congress may make no law “respecting an establishment of religion,” the United States has none, let alone a
state religion. It has only Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation.” It is a free
market for religion, and America is owned by many gods. The consequences
have been entirely salutary. No mighty church, no mighty enemy, no target
for contempt masking as satire.
So why fight the clergy? In the United States, it is much easier to start
a new creed, to build another church or synagogue. Let’s pray to the same
God, but do it in a hundred different ways, as reflected in as many Protestant

38

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

[Taylor Jones—For the Hoover Digest]

denominations. To indulge in faith-based self-helpism is a lot more practical,
and safer, than facing the Inquisition or the government.
»» History. If you don’t have to worry about ecclesiastical power, you can
hang back and look for other targets. In Europe, though, the tight alliance
between throne and altar turned the Church into an enemy of freedom. “In
France,” reported Tocqueville, “I had almost always seen the spirit of religion
and the spirit of freedom
marching in opposite direcThe slaughter of twelve in
tions. But in America, they
were intimately united and
“revenge” for cartooning is beyond
they reigned in common
the American imagination.
over the same country.” The
American Revolution invoked God and natural law against George III. The
French version slaughtered priests along with royals.
Five republics later, French official secularism still marks a sharp-edged
cleavage in the French body politic. The common denominator of the civil
creeds arising in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—liberalism, socialism, communism—was anticlericalism. In France, to be progressive is to be anti-Church. Hence Charlie Hebdo.
None of this is to suggest that Charlie Hebdo bears even one iota of responsibility. Nor does Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist of Denmark’s JyllandsPosten, who almost ten years since the Danish cartoon affair still lives in a
house-turned-fortress because he dared caricature Muhammad. Those 1.5
million Parisians did what their counterparts in Madrid and London should
have done when Islamist terror claimed the lives of scores in 2004 and 2005.
Europe should see Charlie Hebdo as a wake-up call. There are lots of good
reasons to beef up police and intelligence and to bomb violent Islamists. But,
as in the United States, let’s leave God out of it.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. © 2015 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is To
Make and Keep Peace among Ourselves and with All
Nations, by Angelo M. Codevilla. To order, call (800)
888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

40

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

T H E ECON OM Y

Room to Soar
We can get this sluggish recovery off the ground.
By John B. Taylor

H

ope flickered last year when the economy grew at more than
a 4 percent clip in the second and third quarters. But then
came February’s news that fourth-quarter growth slowed to
2.2 percent, a gloomy revelation that the rebound was tempo-

rary. Economic growth for 2014 clocked in at about 2.3 percent—the same
disappointing pace since the recession officially ended in 2009. What is the
problem?
For years I and many others have argued that a return to the principles
of economic freedom would convert this not-so-great recovery into a great
one. But Washington has not seriously considered pro-growth policy—no tax
reform to lower tax rates and spur hiring, no regulatory reform to scale back
costly regulations, no new free-trade agreements, no entitlement reform to
stop the debt explosion, and at best only a hint at monetary normalization to
reduce uncertainty.
One reason: there is growing skepticism that these tried-and-true policies will boost growth rates. It is too late now, pessimists say. The economy
missed the 6 percent or 7 percent 1980s-style growth at the start of the
recovery, and it is impossible to make it up. Or even more pessimistically, an
incurable “secular stagnation” plagues the economy with permanently diminished rates of return on investment and ever-increasing income inequality.
Why bother with difficult reforms if they won’t make much difference? At
least we’re doing better than Europe.

John B. Taylor is the George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics at the Hoover
Institution, the chair of Hoover’s Working Group on Economic Policy and a member of Hoover’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy, and the Mary and
Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford University.
H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

41

But a sharp acceleration in growth is a real possibility in the United States
if policy makers take the necessary steps. Rapid growth after a recession
usually occurs as people return to the labor force and productivity accelerates, boosted by higher investment. Labor-force participation—the percentage of the population that is looking for work or employed—is now lower
than at the end of the recession.
There is a lot of room to grow.
Washington hasn’t seriously
And the growth of productivity—
considered pro-growth policy:
the amount of goods and services
tax reform, regulatory reform,
produced per worker-hour—has
hovered around 1 percent for the
free-trade agreements,
past five years, less than half the
entitlement reform.
nearly 2.5 percent average of the
previous twenty years. There is room for acceleration there, too.
As a matter of arithmetic, the growth of the economy equals employment
growth plus productivity growth. Simply reversing the decline in the laborforce participation rate—it fell every year of the so-called recovery, to 62.9
percent in 2014 from 66 percent in 2008—would cause a 5 percent increase
in employment, or 1 percent growth for five years. Adding about 1 percent for
population growth from census projections equals employment growth of 2
percent a year. The percentage of the working-age population that is working
would thereby finally exceed 2009 levels, and the United States would begin
seeing promising changes.
Some argue that the recent decline in labor-force participation is simply due to the baby-boom generation retiring, but the decline is larger for
teenagers and young adults and
has even increased for those
The economy is ready to take
sixty-five years of age and older.
off if released from the captivity
Were it not for the unusual drop
in the labor force, the unemployof bad government policy.
ment rate would be 3 percentage
points higher, according to work by economists Chris Erceg of the Federal
Reserve Board and Andrew Levin of the International Monetary Fund. They
found in an October study that the slow recovery accounts for the “bulk of
the recent decline in the labor-force participation rate.” Faster growth, they
argue, would reverse the decline.
The same rebound possibilities pertain to productivity growth, which
history suggests could return to 2.5 percent. The IT revolution, which
Harvard economist Dale Jorgenson and his colleagues show has been key to

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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

productivity growth in the past, is not over—as is clear to anyone observing
the innovation coming out of Silicon Valley and elsewhere.
With 2.5 percent productivity growth added to 2 percent employment
growth, economic growth would be 4.5 percent. That is far above the forecasts of most economists who have written off the pro-growth policies suggested here. This growth rate could be sustained for several catch-up years
before leveling out to a 3 percent longer run growth path.
The US economy is not a turtle, but a caged eagle ready to soar if released
from the captivity of bad government policy. By putting the right policies
in place—particularly personal and business tax reform with marginal rate
cuts—the United States can turn the economy around quickly.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. © 2015 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution 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) 888-4741 or visit
www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

43

T H E ECONOMY

Keynesians in
Retreat
They’ve been too wrong for far too long.

By John H. Cochrane

L

ast year the tide changed in the economy. Growth seems finally to
be returning. The tide also changed in economic ideas. The brief
resurgence of traditional Keynesian ideas is washing away from
the world of economic policy.

No government is remotely likely to spend trillions of dollars or euros in

the name of “stimulus,” financed by blowout borrowing. The euro is intact:
even the Greeks and Italians, after six years of advice that their problems
can be solved with one more devaluation and inflation, are sticking with
the euro and addressing—however slowly—structural “supply” problems
instead.
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne wrote in December that
Keynesians wanting more spending and more borrowing “were wrong in the
recovery, and they are wrong now.” The land of John Maynard Keynes and
Adam Smith is going with Smith.
Why? In part, because even in economics, you can’t be wrong too many
times in a row.

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

44

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

Keynesians told us that once interest rates got stuck at or near zero, economies would fall into a deflationary spiral. Deflation would lower demand,
causing more deflation, and so on.
It never happened. Zero interest rates and low inflation turn out to be
quite a stable state, even in Japan. Yes, Japan is growing more slowly than
one might wish, but with 3.5 percent unemployment and no deflationary
spiral, it’s hard to blame slow growth on lack of “demand.”
Our first big stimulus fell flat, leaving Keynesians to argue that the recession would have been worse otherwise. George Washington’s doctors probably argued that if they hadn’t bled him, he would have died faster.
With the 2013 sequester, Keynesians warned that reduced spending and
the end of ninety-nine-week unemployment benefits would drive the economy
back to recession. Instead, unemployment came down faster than expected
and growth returned, albeit modestly. The story is similar in the United
Kingdom.
These are only the latest failures. Keynesians forecast depression with
the end of World War II spending. The United States got a boom. The Phillips curve failed to understand inflation in the 1970s and its quick end in
the 1980s, and disappeared in our recession as unemployment soared with
steady inflation.
Still, facts and experience are seldom decisive in economics. Maybe Washington’s doctors are right. There are always confounding influences. Logic
matters too. And illogic hurts. Keynesian ideas are also ebbing from policy
as sensible people understand how much topsy-turvy magical thinking they
require.
Hurricanes are good, rising oil prices are good, and ATMs are bad, we
were advised: destroying capital, lower productivity, and costly oil will raise
inflation and occasion government spending, which will stimulate output.
Though Japan’s tsunami and oil shock gave it neither inflation nor stimulus,
worriers are warning that the current oil price decline, a boon in the past,
will kick off the dreaded deflationary spiral this time.
I suspect policy makers heard this and said to themselves, “That’s how you
think the world works? Really?” And stopped listening to such policy advice.
Keynesians tell us not to worry about huge debts, or to default or inflate
them away (but please, call it “restructuring” or “repairing balance sheets”).
Even the Obama administration has ignored that advice, promising longrun solutions to the debt problem from day one. Europeans have centuries
of memories of what happens to governments that don’t pay debts, or that

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

45

need to borrow for a new emergency but have stiffed their creditors once too
often. More debt? Nein danke!
In Keynesian models, government spending stimulates even if totally
wasted. Pay people to dig ditches and
fill them up again. By Keynesian
logic, fraud is good; thieves
have notoriously high
marginal propensities
to consume. That’s
a hard sell, so
stimulus is routinely dressed
in “infrastructure”
clothes.

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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

Clever. How can anyone who hit a pothole complain about infrastructure
spending?
But people feel they’ve been had when they discover that the economics
is about wasted spending, and infrastructure was a veneer to get the bill
passed. And they smell a rat when they hear economic arguments shaded for
partisan politics.
Stimulus advocates: can you bring yourselves to say that the Keystone
XL pipeline, LNG export terminals, nuclear power plants, and dams are
infrastructure? Can you bring yourselves to mention that the Environmental
Protection Agency makes it nearly impossible to build anything in the United
States? How can you assure us that infrastructure does not mean “crony
boondoggle” or high-speed trains to nowhere?
Now you like roads and bridges. Where were you during decades of opposition to every new road on grounds that they only encouraged suburban
“sprawl”? If you repeat in your textbooks how defense spending saved the
economy in World War II, why do you support defense cutbacks today? Why

[Taylor Jones—For the Hoover Digest]

H O O V E R D IG E S T • S P RING 2015

47

is “infrastructure” spending abstract or anecdotal, not a plan for actual, valuable, concrete projects that someone might object to?
Keynesians tell us that “sticky wages” are the big underlying economic
problem. But why do they just repeat this story to justify inflation and stimulus? Why do they not advocate policies to undo minimum wages, labor laws,
occupational licenses, and other regulations that make wages stickier?
Inequality is fashionable. But no government in the foreseeable future is
going to enact punitive wealth taxes. Europe’s first stab at “austerity” tried
big taxes on the wealthy,
meaning on those likely to
Keynesians told us that once interinvest, start businesses, or
est rates got stuck at or near zero,
hire people. Burned once,
Europe is moving in the
economies would fall into a deflaopposite direction. Magical
tionary spiral. It never happened.
thinking—that, contrary to
centuries of experience, massive taxation and government control of incomes
will lead to growth, prosperity, and social peace—is moving back to the
salons.
Yes, there is plenty wrong and plenty to worry about. Growth is too slow
and not enough people are working. Even supporters acknowledge that
Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare are a mess. Too many people on the bottom are
stuck in terrible education, jobless poverty, and a dysfunctional criminal justice system. But the policy world has abandoned the notion that we can solve
our problems with blowout borrowing, wasted spending, inflation, default,
and high taxes. The policy world is facing the tough tradeoffs that centuries
of experience have taught us, not wishing them away.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. © 2015 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is Game
Changers: Energy on the Move, edited by George P.
Shultz and Robert C. Armstrong. To order, call (800)
888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

48

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

T H E ECON OM Y

Know the Score
The House’s new “dynamic scoring” rule puts some
badly needed economic sense into lawmaking.

By Edward Paul Lazear

T

he House of Representatives has adopted a rule that will change
Washington and lawmaking for the better. Under the new rule, the
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will be required to take macroeconomic effects into account when estimating the cost of legislation.

When legislation is proposed, the CBO has the job of estimating its fiscal

consequences. In most cases, the CBO assumes there is no effect on economic growth, positive or negative. This old approach, which ignored effects on
economic growth, has been defended as “neutral,” a way to prevent political
pressure from affecting nonpartisan CBO calculations.
The White House has opposed the change, based on the supposed neutrality of the old approach, and argued that the new rule will introduce bias. But
the House, not the White House, has it right. Ignoring the macroeconomic
impacts of legislation is far from neutral.
COUNTING THE COSTS
Every piece of legislation has economic consequences. Most are small but
some are significant. When the CBO ignores them, it disregards the detrimental effects on economic growth of bad legislation as well as the positive
effects on growth of good legislation.
Edward Paul Lazear is the Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow at
the Hoover Institution, co-chair of Hoover’s Conte Initiative on Immigration Reform, and the Jack Steele Parker Professor of Human Resources Management and
Economics at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

49

For example, when the CBO initially estimated the impact of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, it ignored any effects the law might have on gross
domestic product, including job losses due to the law’s employer mandate.
But these effects, detailed by Casey Mulligan last September, are a direct
cost to the economy that should have been recognized at the time the estimates were made. In February 2014, the CBO released an appendix to its
original estimate acknowledging that there would be some adverse consequences for employment.
Additionally, the CBO routinely fails to acknowledge that reduced GDP
growth has an adverse effect on tax revenues because less tax revenue is
collected in a smaller economy. Conversely, a tax cut that enhances economic
growth is penalized when the effect on growth is assumed to be zero.
Failing to take into account the positive effects of tax cuts on GDP and in
turn on tax revenues biases the record against them. Because the loss in revenue from a tax cut is overstated, more spending cuts or increases in other
taxes are required to make the legislation revenue-neutral, which also works
against passage of tax cuts.
Taking macroeconomic effects into account is not a radical change. The
CBO currently uses models to estimate economic growth every time it puts
out an economic forecast or annual projection of the budget situation. The
CBO also estimates the effects of stimulus packages on economic growth.
In 2009, for example, it estimated the GDP effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and updated its estimates periodically after that
date. To do that, the CBO employed models capable of assessing the effects
of spending on economic activity.
The CBO’s estimates are plagued by another consideration that has
nothing to do with macroeconomic impacts of legislation. Justifiably,
the CBO must take the bill as written, not as the CBO believes it will be
implemented. When the Affordable Care Act was proposed, the increased
spending was assumed in the legislation to be covered in part through
higher taxes and in part through cuts in Medicare. Even though it seemed
highly unlikely that Medicare cuts would be realized, the CBO was
required to assume they were real, again underestimating the likely effect
on the deficit.
The same is true of the alternative minimum tax. Each year, Congress
“patches” the AMT legislation so that AMT affects many fewer taxpayers
than would be affected were the bill to remain as originally written. Consequently, budget projections, which ignore annual patches in the AMT, are
too optimistic because they assume more tax revenue than will actually be

50

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

collected. Although understandable, the inability to base calculations on
likely reality adds another source of error.
Three additional stipulations should complement the move to take macroeconomic consequences into account.
First, to prevent manipulation, the CBO should be required to use the same
macroeconomic model for all pieces of legislation. This will limit the influence of politics on the estimates. The models can be updated periodically, but
not case by case.
Second, the CBO should be required to make its models and approaches
public so that the economics community can comment on the validity of the
estimates and legislators can attach their own weights to the estimates.
Third, the CBO should be required to use the best science available to
model the economy. Although what is best will always be subject to debate,
this stipulation, coupled with the requirement that the models be made
public, will force the CBO to defend its assumptions, just as nongovernment
economists do in their published work.
FACTS OVER RHETORIC
Calculating the macroeconomic impact of a bill does not guarantee that
previously failed legislation will succeed in the future. Legislators are free
to vote their minds and can take or ignore the CBO estimates as they see fit.
But the move to more accurately assess the economic and fiscal effects of
legislation should improve the political rhetoric.
Disregarding macroeconomic impacts of legislation is not neutral and the
change by the House is a change for the better. Because revenue-raising bills
must originate in the House, the rule will affect new legislation before it ever
lands on the Senate floor, where the rule change might have faced stiffer
opposition. The new Congress is already looking promising.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. © 2015 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Across the
Great Divide: New Perspectives on the Financial
Crisis, edited by Martin Neil Baily and John B. Taylor. To
order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.
org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

51

T H E ECONOMY

Adam Smith,
Life Coach
The great economist pondered not just markets
but the people who use them—and how honorable,
happy citizens represent the true wealth of
nations. Hoover fellow Russell Roberts explains.

By Nick Gillespie

Nick Gillespie, ReasonTV: Russell Roberts is known as the host of EconTalk,
which is one of the most interesting and most followed economics podcasts.
A regular guest on NPR, you blog at Café Hayek. You were educated at the
University of North Carolina and then got a PhD at the University of Chicago
under Nobel Prize–winner Gary Becker. You’ve taught at George Mason,
Washington University, Stanford, and elsewhere, and you’re now a research
fellow at the Hoover Institution. Russ, let’s get right to it. Your book, How
Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, seeks to recapture the energy, power, and
influence of Smith’s first great work. What brought you to talking about The
Theory of Moral Sentiments?
Russell Roberts: I started reading The Theory of Moral Sentiments really for
the first time only a few years ago, and I was totally captivated by many
different factors that made the book interesting. One is that Smith is a great
Russell Roberts is the John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow at the Hoover
Institution. His latest book is How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An
Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness (Portfolio, 2014). Nick
Gillespie is editor in chief of ReasonTV and Reason.com.
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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

writer. He’s fun to read, he’s charming, he’s the Jane Austen of economics—
which is maybe damning with faint praise, but I think not. He can really write
a beautiful sentence and he had some deep insights into human nature and
what we’re here for, what we’re able to achieve, and happiness. I thought that
was worth trying to convey to a general audience.
Gillespie: He revised Moral Sentiments over the course of his life, but actually
he wrote that before The Wealth of Nations.
Roberts: I like to think of Moral Sentiments as the book that was ever with
him. It was the book he started with and the book he ended with. It really
bookends The Wealth of Nations and it’s about a very different set of issues.
Gillespie: Talk about that. Moral Sentiments is not about commerce. In a way
it’s about public life but not mercantile life.
Roberts: Correct. It’s about dealing with the people around you—both in
your business dealings and your personal dealings. The Wealth of Nations is
about the wealth of nations: why some nations are rich or poor, is free trade
good or bad, etc. But Moral Sentiments is about: why do we do nice things
given that we’re self-interested? How much can we feel for other people?
What motivates us to do good things for other people? Then the related question is: what makes us happy and brings us satisfaction?
It’s kind of shocking to realize that Adam Smith, the person most people
would call “the father of economics,” didn’t think the pursuit of wealth was
a very good idea. He thought it was corrosive. He thought ambition was bad
for you and the pursuit of fame would destroy your character, happiness,
and tranquillity. Some people have suggested there’s a paradox here. Here’s
this guy who writes a book about self-interest and how it makes the world
go round. But here’s this other book—which you could say he wrote when
he was young, but actually he wrote it when he was young and when he was
old—that says, actually self-interest isn’t the only thing that matters to us
because we care a lot about other people.
LOVE AND DEREK JETER
Gillespie: You kind of sum up the main message of Moral Sentiments in the
phrase “we should seek or strive to love and be lovely.” What does that mean?
Roberts: That’s my favorite sentence in the book. He says man naturally
desires not only to be loved but to be lovely. Most of us concede, when we’re
pushed, that we like to be loved. By “loved” Smith didn’t mean romantic love.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

53

He included that, but he really meant what we would call “respected,” “honored,” “admired,” “paid attention to.” That’s a huge source of our contentment: that we have friends, a reputation, etc. Then he takes it a step further.
He says we don’t just desire to be loved, we desire to be lovely. That is, we
desire to earn the respect, honor, and admiration of our friends and fellows
by being truly worthy. That’s what he means by lovely. He doesn’t mean a
nice shirt or a pretty painting.
Gillespie: Smith seems to put a pretty high premium on following customs
and etiquette and not rocking the boat in a lot of situations. What’s going on
there?
Roberts: Smith says there are different ways to be loved. You can be famous
or rich, and people will pay attention to what you say and do. If you are
powerful, similarly people are going to pay attention to you and want your
love. Derek Jeter is loved.
So that’s one way: fame,
“He’s fun to read, he’s charming,
celebrity, money, power.
he’s the Jane Austen of economics.”
But Smith says that’s the
wrong way to be loved. The
right way to be loved is
to be lovely, and the way to be lovely is to be proper and virtuous. Proper is
the minimum standard—what we would call propriety—but you really have
to get to virtue if you want to be truly lovely. Then you’ll be loved, not in the
way that Derek Jeter is loved, but you’ll be respected by a smaller circle of
friends. I think he had in mind someone like David Hume, who was his best
friend and whom he respected tremendously.
So let’s talk about propriety now. In our day, propriety sort of means stiff
and staying within tradition and custom. I would give a slightly larger range
for that idea. I think it’s really about meeting the expectations of the people
you interact with: not surprising them, not going off the rails and shocking
them in a way that makes it hard for them to interact with you in a normal
way. If you have a great success or a great tragedy, you share that differently
with people you’re close to than with people you’re not so close to. A great
success, for example, you might share with your spouse but you’re not going
to share it with a stranger who’s maybe a little bit envious of you or who’s
having a tough time. That would be improper. Similarly, people pour out their
hearts sometimes to people who can’t empathize with them. Smith talks a
lot about the degrees to which we can empathize with tragedy or success. So
propriety is about meeting those standards.

54

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

BALANCE: Celebrated as the author of The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith
had his doubts about wealth. “He thought ambition was bad for you and the
pursuit of fame would destroy your character, happiness, and tranquility,”
says Hoover fellow Russell Roberts. “Some people have suggested there’s a
paradox here.” [John Kay (1742–1826) / Library of Congress]

How we interact with the people around us is really the stuff of life. It’s
what we do all day. We don’t think about it much, and I think one of the virtues of Smith’s book is that it forces you to think about these kinds of interactions in a way you normally don’t—and it’s a beautiful thing.
VIRTUE AND THE APPLE WATCH
Gillespie: Propriety is a kind of way station to virtue. How is he defining
virtue?
Roberts: Smith has a lot of different virtues. The big three for him are
prudence, justice, and benevolence. These are words that are a little bit
old-fashioned. Here’s the way I simplify it to capture what he’s talking about.
With prudence, if you want to be lovely you have to take care of yourself.
Don’t become an alcoholic or a drug addict. Don’t be a spendthrift. Spend
your money carefully, your time wisely. Don’t spend all your time playing
video games or on your smartphone.
Gillespie: I was reading your book as the iPhone 6 came out, when ten million iPhones were sold over the first weekend. People waited for a day and
a half in line, and Smith actually anticipated this. Talk a little about that
incredibly prescient passage, which was first written in 1759.
Roberts: It’s kind of stunning. He says, basically, that we fall in love with little
conveniences. He calls them “frivolous trinkets of utility,” which is really what
our gadgets are all about. In particular, he picks on the watch, which is ironic
given that the Apple Watch has just come out. He makes fun of the person
who pays a premium for a watch that’s a little more accurate, just because it’s
kind of amazing. But it doesn’t make the person any more punctual; they’re
not more accurate, they just know how inaccurate they are. So, he makes fun
of the fact that we love these gadgets. And what kind of gadgets were there
in 1759? The things he talks about, they’re not so attractive: an ear-picker, a
machine for cutting the nails—nail clippers.
Gillespie: You point out that on a certain level there was probably a much
better utility to that than taking a dull knife to your fingertips.
Roberts: Correct, just like my iPhone brings me a lot of legitimate pleasure.
I’m going to confess right here that I have some iPhone 6 envy, even though
I can make a perfectly good phone call with my iPhone 5. I mean, what am
I really getting that’s better? But we have a craving—which he understood
back in 1759—for the latest thing, for the coolest thing.

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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

Gillespie: But then you can go overboard, if you’re mortgaging everything or
you’re not saving for retirement or for that operation you need, because you
need the next—
Roberts: Right, that would be imprudent. Prudence is a virtue. Justice is a
virtue. He uses the word in many different ways, but one of the ways he uses
it—I think it’s the most important here—is don’t hurt people. That’s pretty
straightforward, we understand that. Don’t be a bad person. The next one,
though, is the challenge because that’s beneficence, or being a good person.
And that means not just, I’m not going to hurt you—but I’m actually going to
help you. And that’s harder to do.
THE KNOW LEDGE PROBLEM OF ECONOMICS
Gillespie: Let’s talk about economics broadly and the knowledge problem. You
have consistently throughout a lot of your work brought to bear the fact that if
we take seriously the idea that Hayek articulated as the knowledge problem—
that we really don’t know as much as we know and we certainly don’t have
independent verification in the realm of economic science—we allow ourselves
to be duped by confirmation bias about how lovely we are. You have a great
quote from Nassim Taleb, who’s
using an old Venetian proverb
“Adam Smith, the person most
that said “the sea gets deeper
people would call the father of
as you go further into it.” What
economics, didn’t think the puris the root of the hubris of many
economists—whether they’re
suit of wealth was a very good
right wing or left wing, whether
idea. He thought it was corrosive.”
they’re market-based or interventionist—that economics is now a full-fledged science and they’ve got good
levers and can spin dials and make everything all right?
Roberts: Man naturally desires to be loved, and that is very powerful. If you
want to be loved as an economist, if you want people to pay attention to you,
if you want to be invited to the circles of power, you have to be confident.
There’s a terrible tendency in our field to pretend that we know the answers
because that’s how you get on not just the talk shows, but it’s how you get
invited to the places where you have control over other people. It’s a very
tempting human characteristic.
Gillespie: Hayek in The Counter-Revolution of Science talked a lot about how
there was a certain scientistic dimension to the Enlightenment, which he

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identified—and I think there are reasons to question this—as a particularly continental sensibility. In contemporary times, when people like Bruce
Caldwell, the intellectual biographer of Hayek, said the substitution of formulas and the appropriation of techniques from the physical sciences to social
sciences, particularly economics, gives this false sense of certitude. What are
the ways to push back on that? Because economics now occupies the place of
pride in the social sciences or arguably in the academy. It seems that economists are rock stars now. They’re being called into political situations to fix
things. Janet Yellen, the highly respected academic economist, goes into
running the Federal Reserve. Greenspan was the Oracle of Delphi: whenever
he picked his nose, markets would plunge. How do we get out of this mindset
that economists really are running the show?
Roberts: I think a number of people know the emperor doesn’t have so much
clothing on. Economists are highly respected, that’s true. We do have a lot
of power, that’s true. But I think a lot of people are kind of skeptical of us
and rightfully so. I think it’s important for economists within the profession
to admit that sometimes the emperor has no clothes. We don’t know what’s
going to happen when this tax cut passes or this spending program passes or
this law is changed in this particular way. Every time we fail to predict those
accurately, I think smart people start to think, hey, this isn’t science.
I’d like to see us be more like historians, which is what I think is our level of
credibility. Nobody pretends to measure the impact of, say, one of the treaties
before World War I on causing the war. We say, well, the treaty had something to do with it, these alliances sprang into motion, but they were there for
a while and they didn’t cause war, so why then? Well, there were these forces
of nationalism, the Serbian
thing, the Russian desire for
“We have a craving—which he
expansion into a port, and all
understood back in 1759—for the
these things worked together.
latest thing, for the coolest thing.”
Well, which one was 27 percent? How much was this a
factor? Well, I don’t know, it’s history. People disagree about what happened.
They don’t pretend to know what happened. I think we should have that
same level of honesty.
I invite my fellow economists to join me, and every once in a while one of
them does concede that this is true. I recently interviewed Lars Hansen,
Nobel laureate in economics, and he said, yeah, models about systemic risk
are very flawed. I said, maybe that’s inherent in the process. His view is that

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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

we just need to do a little bit better, we need a better one. I’m hoping someday people will come to the view—which is the Hayekian view—that you don’t
need more data points. The problem is inherently unsolvable, as Hayek said
in his 1974 Nobel address, “The Pretense of Knowledge.” You have the pretense of knowledge, not the real thing. You have scientism, not real science.
LIBERTY AND OPPORTUNITY
Gillespie: Why is liberty so important to you? Why is it so important that the
government not do this, that, or the other thing?
Roberts: That’s a tough question. One thing I have learned is that I don’t have
those views because of what I like to think is the answer, which is: well, I looked
out into the world and I saw the
evidence and weighed it and then
“When I interviewed Milton
I came to this view that liberty
Friedman in 2006 right before he
is good. I don’t think that’s really
died, he was very sad. . . . He kept
why I think liberty is good. It has
saying the glass is half empty,
to do partly with where I chose
to go to school and the jobs I
there’s so little we’ve achieved.”
took. Some of us like being like
other people. Some of us like pushing back against other people. I know a lot of
people in the liberty movement who are not such attractive human beings and
are not the best spokespeople for our cause because they like being antagonistic. There are people on the left like that also.
Gillespie: To bring it back to Smith: he was one of the people at a particular stage in Western development or in world development who were of a
privileged class, he was a professor, he was a man, he was a world-renowned
author, and one of the most radical things he said was that everybody should
have more room to make choices in their life. That’s the classical liberal
project, really, to say that even the lowest among us might be able to buy
whatever they want, dress how they want, or vote how they want—
Roberts: Think how they want.
Gillespie: Are we still moving forward on that project or do you feel like
things are starting to either plateau or go backwards?
Roberts: The most pessimistic thing is that in what you could argue is the
world’s freest country—the United States—government just seems to inexorably get larger and larger. This strange view that somehow the ’80s, the

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Thatcher-Reagan revolution, the Milton Friedman revolution, the Hayekian
revolution, was this dark moment in the leftist worldview. The claim is that
we had all this liberty, this deregulation, when the truth is it was very small.
In fact, when I interviewed
Milton Friedman in 2006 right
“I think it’s important for econobefore he died, he was very sad.
mists within the profession to
It was very poignant because
I was talking about how many
admit that sometimes the emperof his ideas had become mainor has no clothes.”
stream and had come to pass—
volunteer Army, the idea that maybe we could privatize Social Security, the
idea of flexible exchange rates, school choice—all these things that we were
making progress on. But he kept saying the glass is half empty, there’s so
little we’ve achieved.
So, on the one hand it’s pessimistic. We’ve achieved very little. Government
gets bigger. On the other hand, life’s pretty good. I wish more people had
access to the good life in the United States. I wish more people had access
to decent schooling. I think that’s the biggest barrier. Somehow despite the
size of government—it’s like a boulder, it gets bigger and bigger and there is a
threat that one day it will dam the river—most of the time we just run over it.
Gillespie: You talk about in the book—and I think you attribute this to Smith
as well—you tease into a modern parlance that the best thing we can do for
freedom or progress or moving towards a better world is to generate more
economic growth. What are the large goals of that? Again, you cannot say
exactly what policies will do that, but what are the general things we’re not
listening to?
Roberts: I’m not sure I said we need to generate more growth. I think what
we need to generate is more opportunity. That’s related to growth. I think
it’s clear that there is a large segment of the population that’s not part of
the incredible economy that’s out here. It’s an incredible economy with terrible flaws right now. We’re not at a great time in the aftermath of the Great
Recession. But despite that, if you have a college education and you studied
something somewhat valuable, you have a pretty good life in America. The
number of people enjoying that is growing, but more people need the opportunity. I’d like there to be a chance for more people to be able to express
themselves and to flourish. I want to get the government out of the school
system because I think it has done a terrible job. Anybody who disagrees
with that, if you ask them whether we should spend more money on schools,

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they’d all say yes. Where is the evidence that’s a good idea? We have a lot of
evidence that’s a bad idea. So, please join me in trying something different.
I’d get the government totally out of it and rely on private charity to help
poor people. The system has poor people suffering horribly and not getting
a decent education; our system is not working. Some say, well, we just have
to do it better. That’s a nice idea, but you have to tell me how you’re going to
make it happen rather than just desire it. That’s not enough.
On the optimism side, I know that you’re old enough to remember when
our views were like kooky ideas. There was nobody joining us, nobody understood it, and nobody read about it. It’s ironic that we live in this time when
people complain about how people don’t read anymore and they’re stuck
in front of screens. I hope they’re stuck in front of your screen watching
ReasonTV because it’s extraordinary how many people are interested in liberty and the ideas of Hayek, Friedman, and others. It’s a glorious time in that
way and I’m always optimistic. I always think we can make some progress.
Excerpted by permission of ReasonTV (www.reason.com/reasontv).
© 2014 Reason Foundation. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is The
Crusade Years, 1933–1955: Herbert Hoover’s Lost
Memoir of the New Deal Era and Its Aftermath, edited
by George H. Nash. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit
www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

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I N EQUAL I TY

Dishonest
Demands
The “inequality warriors” don’t really care about
enhancing the nation’s prosperity. What they
really want is power.

By John H. Cochrane

P

rogressives decry inequality as the world’s most pressing
economic problem. In its name, they urge much greater income
and wealth taxation, especially of the reviled top 1 percent of
earners, along with more government spending and controls—

higher minimum wages, “living” wages, comparable-worth directives, CEO
pay caps, and so on.
Inequality may be a symptom of economic problems. But why is inequality itself an economic problem? If some get rich and others get richer, who
cares? If we all become poor equally, is that not a problem? Why not fix policies and problems that make it harder to earn more?
Yes, the reported taxable income and wealth earned by the top 1
percent may have grown faster than for the rest. This could be good
inequality—entrepreneurs start companies, develop new products and
services, and get rich from a tiny fraction of the social benefit. Or it could
be bad inequality—crony capitalists who get rich by exploiting favors
from government. Most US billionaires are entrepreneurs from modest

John H. Cochrane is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the AQR Capital Management Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of
Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

backgrounds, operating in competitive new industries, suggesting the
former.
But there are many other kinds and sources of inequality. The returns to
skill have increased. People who can use or program computers, do math, or
run organizations have enjoyed relative wage increases. But why don’t others
observe these returns, get skills, and compete away the skill premium? A big
reason: awful public schools dominated by teachers’ unions, which leave kids
unprepared even to enter college. Limits on high-skill immigration also raise
the skill premium.
Americans stuck in a cycle of terrible early-child experiences, substance
abuse, broken families, unemployment, and criminality represent a different
source of inequality. Their problems have proven immune to floods of government money. And government programs and drug laws are arguably part of
the problem.
These problems, and many like them, have nothing to do with a rise in top 1
percent incomes and wealth.
Recognizing, I think, this logic, inequality warriors go on to argue that
inequality is a problem because it causes other social or economic ills. A
recent Standard & Poor’s report sums up
some of these assertions: “As income inequality increased before the [2008 financial] crisis, Arguments against a
less-affluent households took on more and
vague “inequality” are
more debt to keep up—or, in this case, catch
made up to justify an
up—with the Joneses.” In a 2011 Vanity Fair
existing answer.
article, Columbia University economist Joseph
Stiglitz wrote that inequality causes a “lifestyle effect. . . . People outside the
top 1 percent increasingly live beyond their means.’’ He called it “trickledown behaviorism.”
I see. A fry cook in Fresno hears that more hedge-fund managers are flying
in private jets. So he buys a pickup he can’t afford. They are saying that we
must tax away wealth to encourage thrift in the lower classes.
Here’s another claim: inequality is a problem because rich people save too
much. So, by transferring money from rich to poor, we can increase overall
consumption and escape “secular stagnation.”
I see. Now we need to forcibly transfer wealth to solve our deep problem of
national thriftiness.
You can see in these examples that the arguments are made up to justify
an existing answer. If these were really the problems to be solved, each has
much more natural solutions.

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Is eliminating the rich, to eliminate envy of their lifestyle, really the best
way to stimulate savings? Might not, say, fixing the large taxation of savings
in means-tested social programs make some sense? If lifestyle envy really
is the mechanism, would it not be more effective to ban Keeping Up with the
Kardashians?
If we redistribute because lack of
Keynesian “spending” causes “secular
If abuse of government
stagnation”—a big if—then we should
power is the problem,
transfer money from all the thrifty, even
increasing government
poor, to all the big spenders, especially
power is a most unlikely
the McMansion owners with new Teslas
and maxed-out credit cards. Is that an
solution.
offensive policy? Yes. Well, maybe this
wasn’t about “spending” after all.
There is a lot of fashionable talk about “redistribution” that’s not really the
agenda. Even sky-high income and wealth taxes would not raise much revenue for very long, and any revenue is likely to fund government programs,
not checks to the needy. Most inequality warriors, including President
Obama, forthrightly advocate taxation to level incomes in the name of “fairness,” even if those taxes raise little or no revenue.
When you get past this kind of balderdash, most inequality warriors get
down to the real problem they see: money and politics. They think money
is corrupting politics, and they want to take away the money to purify the
politics. As Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez wrote for his 2013 Arrow
Lecture at Stanford University: “top income shares matter” because the
“surge in top incomes gives top earners more ability to influence [the] political process.”
A critique of rent-seeking and political cronyism is well taken, and echoes
from the left to libertarians. But if abuse of government power is the problem, increasing government power is a most unlikely solution.
If we increase the top federal income-tax rate to 90 percent, will that not
just dramatically increase the demand for lawyers, lobbyists, loopholes, connections, favors, and special deals? Inequality warriors think not. Stiglitz,
for example, writes that “wealth is a main determinant of power.” If the state
grabs the wealth, even if fairly earned, then the state can benevolently exercise its power on behalf of the common person.
No. Cronyism results when power determines wealth. Government power
inevitably invites the trade of regulatory favors for political support. We limit
rent-seeking by limiting the government’s ability to hand out goodies.

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So when all is said and done, the inequality warriors want the government
to confiscate wealth and control incomes so that wealthy individuals cannot
influence politics in directions
they don’t like. Koch brothers,
no. Public-employee unions,
Even sky-high income and
yes. This goal, at least, makes
wealth taxes wouldn’t raise
perfect logical sense. And it is
much revenue for very long, and
truly scary.
any revenue is likely to fund govProsperity should be our goal.
ernment programs, not checks
And the secrets of prosperity
to the needy.
are simple and old-fashioned:
property rights, rule of law,
economic and political freedom. A limited government providing competent
institutions. Confiscatory taxation and extensive government control of
incomes are not on the list.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. © 2014 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is What Lies
Ahead for America’s Children and Their Schools, edited
by Chester E. Finn Jr. and Richard Sousa. To order, call
(800) 888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

65

H EALTH CARE

Medicare
Disadvantage
For an older population, relying on governmentrun health care is a very bad idea.

By Scott W. Atlas

A

merica is facing the greatest health care challenges in its history. Unprecedented demand is a certainty. According to the
Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on
Aging and US Census Bureau statistics, the number of Ameri-

cans sixty-five and older has exploded by a full 6 million in the past decade
to over 13 percent of the overall population. The population of “oldest old”—
those eighty-five and older—has increased by a factor of ten from the 1950s,
to today’s 6 million.
Older people harbor the most disabling diseases, including heart disease,
cancer, stroke, and dementia—the diseases that depend most on specialist
care and complex technology for diagnosis, management, and treatment.
Yet the Obama administration has wrongheadedly focused on shifting
Americans to government insurance. Of the 8.5 million individuals newly
insured under ObamaCare at the end of the first half of 2014, more than 6
million were enrolled into Medicaid, based on analysis by Edmund Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowski of the Heritage Foundation using Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) data.
Scott W. Atlas, MD, is the David and Joan Traitel Senior Fellow at the Hoover
Institution.
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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

After the law’s Medicaid expansion and with the population aging into
Medicare eligibility, the 107 million under Medicaid or Medicare in 2013
rapidly increases to 135 million just five years later, according to CMS projections. By the end of the decade, a full 140 million Americans will have their
health care access directly controlled by the US government, a growth rate
far higher than private insurance.
The problem is that government insurance does not correspond to
access to medical care, nor does it imply good health outcomes. Medicaid
is already refused by more than half of doctors across America, according to 2013 data from a 2014 Merritt Hawkins survey. Likewise, more
than 20 percent of primary-care doctors already accept no new Medicare
patients, five times the percentage who refuse new privately insured
patients.
In 2012 alone, CMS reported that almost ten thousand doctors opted
out of Medicare, tripling from 2009. And, counter to the administration’s
demonization of
private insurers,
it is Medicare that
Eighty percent of Americans say being
consistently ranks
able to get the most advanced tests,
at the top of the
drugs, and medical procedures is “very
charts for the highimportant” or “absolutely essential.”
est rates of claim
refusals, more than
nearly all the comparison private insurers every year, according to the AMA’s
2013 National Health Insurer Report Cards.
Here is another important reality to consider. Virtually all patients with
serious diseases today are managed by specialists and with advanced technology. For seniors, visits to specialists have increased from 37 percent of
visits two decades ago to 55 percent today. And that’s appropriate, because
those are the doctors who have necessary training and expertise to use the
complex diagnostic tests and devices, state-of-the-art procedures, and novel
drugs of modern medicine.
Fittingly, Americans unambiguously prioritize the latest medical
technology. Surveys by Harris/Wall Street Journal Online demonstrate
that 80 percent of Americans say being able to get the most advanced
tests, drugs, and medical procedures and equipment is “very important”
or “absolutely essential”; 67 percent say technologies like digital imaging and advances in health information will improve patient care and/
or reduce medical costs, while only 10 percent think these advances cost

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67

more than they are worth. In a Health Affairs study, Americans showed
a 50 percent higher interest in new medical discoveries than citizens of
Western European nations.
We often hear of the Association of American Medical CollegGovernment insurance doesn’t
es’ projected shortage of primary
care doctors, but little attention is
correspond to access to medipaid to the fact that almost twocal care, nor does it imply good
thirds of the 2025 doctor shortage
health outcomes.
of 124,000 will be in specialists,
not in primary care. Yet this administration has been naively prioritizing
generalist care at the expense of specialists.
The government’s Medicare Payment Advisory Commission already
recommended substantial cuts to specialists: 16.7 percent over three years
and then frozen, equivalent to a 50 percent decrease after the decade, considering inflation. It is counterproductive to restrict the autonomy and cut
salaries of those whom we need the most, thereby reducing the job’s attractiveness to the best and brightest who already have a wide range of career
choices.
More directly, ObamaCare is eliminating access to many of the best
specialists and best hospitals for middle-income Americans. To meet the
law’s requirements, major insurers all across the country are declining to
participate in the exchanges or only offering plans that exclude many of
America’s best doctors and hospitals. McKinsey reported that 68 percent of
ObamaCare insurance options only cover narrow or very narrow provider
networks, double that of one year ago.
For cancer care, the overwhelming majority of America’s best hospitals in
the National Comprehensive Cancer Network—including MD Anderson Cancer Center, New York’s Memorial
Sloan Kettering, Barnes-Jewish
More than 20 % of primaryHospital in St. Louis, and the
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance—
care doctors accept no new
are not covered in most of their
Medicare patients.
states’ exchange plans.
The “narrow network” strategy is about to hit even more Americans in
2015, as ObamaCare exchanges from California to New Hampshire further
restrict access to top doctors and hospitals in an attempt to quell insurance
premium increases caused by the law itself.

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The fact is that ObamaCare transforms American health care toward
an antiquated, generalist system and significantly reduces health care
choices that Americans hold dear. While the president and his Democratic allies claim that there has been no alternative offered, more than half
a dozen Republican health care proposals increase choices for families
and increase access to the best doctors via competition and individual
empowerment.
Voters who prioritize freedom of choice and quality in health care should
look to the Republicans to reset the course of America’s health care system
to one that holds true to American values while advancing access to specialist care and advanced technology.
Reprinted from Defining Ideas (www.hoover.org/publications/definingideas), a Hoover Institution journal. © 2015 by the Board of Trustees of
the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is In
Excellent Health: Setting the Record Straight on
America’s Health Care, by Scott W. Atlas. To order, call
(800) 888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

69

H EALTH CARE

Three Fixes for
ObamaCare
Target specific problems, enable the program to be
fiscally sound, and create bipartisan support.

By Charles Blahous

T

he Affordable Care Act (ACA) presents
Congress with substantive and political challenges. On one hand, its widely
acknowledged problems warrant repair

and the electorate has made its displeasure loud
and clear. On the other, the whole ACA will not be
repealed while power is shared between a Republican-dominated Congress and a Democratic administration. Consequently, this Congress will need to be
very clear-sighted about what it can and cannot fix.
I do not pretend to have all the answers to questions
that are as much tactical as they are substantive. However, I suggest that three foundational principles guide
the new Congress’s approach to the ACA.

Key points
»» Fix the Affordable Care Act by
addressing clear,
substantive problems.
»» Any fix should
improve the law’s
finances or at
least not worsen
them.
»» Reformers
should begin with
repairs that can
attract bipartisan
support.

Begin with fixes that address clear, substantive
problems. There is no shortage of these, evidenced
by the fact that the law’s sponsors have repeatedly
Charles Blahous is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a senior research
fellow at the Mercatus Center, and one of two public trustees for the Social Security and Medicare programs.
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concluded that the law cannot be safely implemented as originally written.
With so many substantive problems in need of repair, Congress need not
waste energy debating symbolic or ineffectual measures.
Moreover, fixes should improve the law’s finances or at least not worsen
them. This is important. The ACA encompasses a vast expansion of federal
health spending obligations, financed by a number of controversial savings
measures and new taxes. It would be tempting but irresponsible to worsen
fiscal problems by selectively attacking its controversial financing measures
while leaving its spending provisions intact. This does not mean that various
savings and tax provisions should not be repealed, but that such actions are
best accompanied by cost reductions.
Also, reformers should begin with fixes capable of attracting bipartisan
support. Again, there is no shortage of these; many ACA provisions are
opposed on both sides of the aisle. This is simple realism, given that the
president supports the ACA and will not sign its repeal. The ACA’s supporters committed a huge tactical blunder in 2010 by pushing the law through
in a manner guaranteed to unite the opposition party against it. Those who
want to fix problems with the ACA should avoid repeating this mistake in
reverse when bipartisan options are available.
What follows is an incomplete list of the law’s major provisions, as well as
some analysis about how they fit into the recommendations above. Other
experts may disagree with my reads on them.
»» Health exchange subsidies. The structure and expense of these subsidies are probably the biggest substantive problems with the ACA. They
represent an unaffordable addition to federal health spending obligations, are
highly susceptible to costing more than projected, and are driving workers
out of the workforce. Unfortunately, there is not yet a bipartisan consensus
on fixing this. In the near term, the best Congress may be able to do is build
understanding of why at least some targeted fixes are necessary to avoid
further driving down labor-force participation.
»» Medicaid expansion match rate. The ACA’s other huge, unaffordable
cost increase is its Medicaid expansion. Cost is not the only problem with
it; the expansion match rate is creating severe inequities. For example, the
ACA offers much more generous federal matching support (90 percent of
costs over the long run) for a childless adult with income at 130 percent of
the poverty line than to a pregnant woman at 65 percent of the poverty line
(57 percent of costs on average). The expansion is likely to further constrain
access to Medicaid services for those in greatest need. At this time, there

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[Taylor Jones—For the Hoover Digest]

is no bipartisan consensus to roll back the expansion match rates creating
these inequities, but sooner or later federal and state lawmakers must confront them.
»» Medicare spending growth cuts. The ACA’s Medicare spending growth
cuts are large and hugely controversial. That said, lawmakers must remember that the problem lies not with the cost containment itself—necessary in
any event—but with the ACA’s spending the proceeds on a new entitlement.
Whether the ACA represents the best approach to controlling Medicare
costs is debatable; still, if these provisions are repealed, to keep Medicare
viable Congress will need to pass an alternative that saves every bit as much,
if not more. Repeal of these provisions would also increase the risk that this
portion of the Medicare financing shortfall will eventually be filled with tax
increases.
»» The employer mandate. The ACA requires that certain employers
offer “affordable” coverage to certain employees or face a penalty. This is a
problematic policy and has drawn increasing opposition from left-leaning
advocates as well as those on the right. While repeal might attract some
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bipartisan support, it must be remembered that the ACA’s finances depend
on revenue from these penalties—$106 billion through 2022. These penalties
would best be replaced by cost reductions of an equal or greater amount.
»» The individual mandate. The ACA also requires that individuals carry
health insurance coverage or pay a penalty. The ACA’s supporters are more
wedded to this provision than to the employer mandate, so repeal would
probably attract less bipartisan support. The same fiscal principles apply;
repeal would best involve replacement with an equal or greater amount of
spending reductions.
Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget points
out that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has actually scored repeal of
the individual mandate as reducing the deficit. That’s important to know as
Congress contemplates next steps, and it also provides interesting food for
thought. The CBO expects that repealing the individual mandate would save
money because repeal would cause fewer people to sign up for the health
exchanges and Medicaid, thereby reducing the cost of the ACA’s coverage
expansion considerably. Essentially, the CBO has concluded that the mandate is powerful enough to induce many Americans to sign up for subsidized
insurance but not big enough to generate substantial revenue. Or, in other
words, the ACA’s individual-coverage mandate is itself creating a substantial
new cost for the federal government.
»» The medical-devices tax. This provision is deeply unpopular and has
been the subject of strong bipartisan votes for repeal. Unlike with other controversial ACA tax increases, the rationale for this tax has never been clear.
It is true that much health-cost inflation derives from the adoption of new
technology, so taxing such technology to slow its adoption might possibly
reduce cost growth; nevertheless, it seems a strange policy choice to contain
costs by inhibiting Americans’ access to technological advancement. Again,
the same fiscal principles apply: this tax is a natural target but it is best
replaced by cost savings of equal or greater magnitude.
»» The Independent Payment Advisory Board. This is an obvious early
target for repeal. The unelected IPAB is unpopular on both sides of the aisle
and as of this writing there is little indication it would ever become operative
anyway. Given that it is highly unlikely ever to produce a penny of savings, it
can be repealed without probable fiscal damage.
»» Risk corridors. The ACA contains a controversial provision to provide
federal financing support for health exchange plan sponsors whose plans lose

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

73

money because of causes such as adverse selection. The CBO has scored this
provision as having no costs (even slight savings), but I am skeptical; the estimate is based on prior experience with Medicare’s Part D prescription drug
benefit, which involved a different risk pool. Congress could take a number of
approaches to modifying these risk corridors, including tighter certifications
of budget neutrality, requiring timely repayments from recipient companies,
imposing TARP-style restrictions on recipients, and outright repeal. Though
the politics of these options are unclear, this is an issue with bipartisan
potential, as it allows legislators to prioritize the interests of taxpayers over
those of health insurance companies.
»» The “Cadillac plan” tax. The Cadillac plan tax will only become more
controversial as we near its 2018 effective date. It is bad policy, though it
has the upside of undercutting the historical tax preference for employerprovided insurance. If repealed, it should be replaced by a better policy such
as lessening or eliminating that tax preference.
»» Unearned Income Medicare Contribution. One of the biggest problems
with this new tax on high-income Americans is that the income threshold is
not indexed; thus over time more and more Americans (80 percent within
seventy-five years) would be subjected to it. At the very least this indexation
issue will need to be addressed at some point, though again any revenue
forgone is best replaced with spending growth reductions.
The ACA contains myriad problems; these and other provisions will come
under increased scrutiny going forward. As lawmakers approach repairs,
they will need to bear in mind what is politically achievable as well as what is
fiscally responsible.
Reprinted by permission of e21. © 2014 Economic Policies for the 21st Century. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is Pension
Wise: Confronting Employer Pension Underfunding—
And Sparing Taxpayers the Next Bailout, by Charles
Blahous. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

74

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

CA LI F OR N I A

Brown Should Go
All-In
He’s popular and California is (temporarily)
solvent. This is the moment for Jerry Brown to put
California into the black.

By Michael J. Boskin

J

erry Brown—now in the last of his second pair of terms as governor of California—should command broad national attention
and not only as a possible presidential candidate if Hillary Clinton
falters.

Brown’s policies are more complex and nuanced than those of a typical

big-spending liberal in a blue state. He plans, at great cost to consumers, to
mandate that 50 percent of the electricity generated in the state be from
renewables such as solar and wind by 2030. But he won’t ban fracking, as
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo did recently. Instead Brown prefers
heavy regulation.
Buoyed by a prospective budget surplus, his party’s large legislative
majority once again is demanding even more social spending. Brown instead
proposes using a bit of the state’s recent revenue surge to pay down debt and
add to a rainy-day fund.

Michael J. Boskin is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a member of
Hoover’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy and Working Group
on Economic Policy, and the T. M. Friedman Professor of Economics at Stanford
University.
H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

75

He is California’s most popular politician—for now. The question he no
doubt asks himself is how he will go down in the history books.
Brown’s biggest achievement is presiding over a budget that has moved
from an $18 billion deficit in 2011 to a projected $2 billion cash surplus in
fiscal 2015–16. The main engine was a 28 percent surge in revenue from the
economic recovery and stock-market boom—and a seven-year “temporary”
(and retroactive) tax hike in 2012 that raised the state’s top personal incometax rate to the nation’s highest, 13.3 percent.
Unfortunately, the governor missed an opportunity to stabilize the state’s
revenue system. Income-tax collections—which rely heavily on exercised
technology-stock options and capital gains taxed as ordinary income—have
jumped to two-thirds from just over half of revenue on his watch. At the peak
of an economic cycle, for example in 2000 and 2006, 1 percent of the population paid half of the taxes.
Brown may ride out the economic recovery and revenue rebound. His
successor, California taxpayers, and residents dependent on public services will be stuck with a disaster in the next economic downturn. When
revenues plummeted 18 percent in fiscal 2008–9, the state cut spending for
education and social services, issued IOUs for accounts payable, and raised
the sales tax.
So far Brown has not proposed using the budgetary breathing room to
push for a more growth-oriented tax system with a broader base, lower
rates, and less reliance on the state’s volatile progressive income tax. Various
models for tax reform—including one I helped develop on a bipartisan state
commission in 2009—are readily available.
Another opportunity for reform so far unrealized is the state’s unfunded
pension and health liabilities. A Stanford University study estimates these
liabilities to be between $300 billion and $500 billion, and they are increasing
by $17 billion a year. This means
that the state’s small cash surplus
Brown’s pension reforms, though
is really a whopping deficit.
sensible, solve only a small part
In 2011 Brown spoke about
the glaring mismatch between
of the problem and will have little
California’s pension funding and
impact for decades.
liabilities. “It’s not even a matter of higher math,” he said. “It’s fifth-grade arithmetic.” So far his pension
reforms, though sensible, solve only a small part of the problem and are being
challenged in court by public unions. Almost all affect only new state employees and will have little impact for decades.

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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

ONE MORE TIME: California Governor Jerry Brown points to his relatives in
the gallery during his fourth inauguration in the state Capitol last January.
Brown has presided over a budget that moved from an $18 billion deficit in
2011 to a projected $2 billion cash surplus in fiscal 2015–16. But many hope he
also will leverage his popularity to put the state on a more stable fiscal footing.
[Reuters / Max Whittaker]

To deal with the deficit in funding teacher pensions, Brown last year
shifted most of the cost to local school districts. This will crowd out teacher
hiring, school construction, and equipment.
Brown proposes a dialogue with the public unions about health costs. But
his nibbling around the edges of pension reform, where costs are accruing
far more rapidly than his modest savings, suggests similarly small health
reforms.
Although he inherited them, Brown is presiding over the most rapid
expansion of unfunded liabilities in state history. Such cost pressures in a
private business at a minimum would lead to enhanced efficiency. Opportunities are plentiful—the state spends more per incarcerated inmate
than the take-home pay of the median family. But no serious consideration
of welfare or Medi-Cal (the state’s Medicaid program) reform is under
discussion.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

77

Brown spent the first half of January on a triumphal tour of the state,
including a ceremonial groundbreaking for his signature initiative, a highspeed rail system to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco. The project
was originally billed as a $9 billion
state bond expense out of a total projected cost of $33 billion—the balance
The governor missed a shot
from federal and private funds. The
at stabilizing the state’s
projected cost is now $68 billion and
revenue system.
will use more existing rail, slowing the
speed considerably. No private funding
is in sight, nor is any more federal money likely beyond the $2 billion from
President Obama’s 2009 stimulus.
California is a leader in technology, home to the most innovative companies
and a remarkable array of talent and great universities, and the harbinger of
demographic and cultural trends. But it is also home to some of the nation’s
most difficult problems: between 2004 and 2013, the population grew 2.25
million, while the number on assistance programs grew by 2.9 million. Even
before ObamaCare, the state had more Medicaid recipients than taxpayers.
No one expects Jerry Brown to govern like Chris Christie or Scott
Walker. Still, his election to a third and fourth term has raised expectations
that he would leverage his popularity to put the state on a more stable fiscal footing. Getting there would require reforms that are politically challenging. But overcoming these challenges is the essence of leadership and
will define his legacy.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. © 2015 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is
Distributed Power in the United States: Prospects
and Policies, edited by Jeremy Carl. To order, call (800)
888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

78

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

CA LI F OR N I A

California, There
She Goes
When Senator Boxer leaves office—the first of
California’s “big three” to retire—expect havoc and
mayhem.

By Bill Whalen

W

hen California Senator Barbara Boxer announced that she
wouldn’t seek a fifth term next year, she did more than
create a job opening in Washington.
For openers, Boxer brought the Golden State out of

a state of suspended animation. The last time California held an open-seat
contest for the US Senate was all the way back in 1992—before there was
a Clinton presidency, Viagra (not that the two are related), iPods, iPads, or
Google Glass.
Second, in a state dominated by Democrats and their coastal-blue progressive sensibilities, Boxer potentially set in motion a rift within her party in
2016, with battle lines drawn by race, gender, and geography.
About California’s Senate primary: at present, it shapes up as a downsized version of the Democrats’ presidential selection process. One announced candidate
on the Democratic side—state Attorney General Kamala Harris—dominates.
Harris’s candidacy could have all the airs of a coronation (among Harris’s first
endorsers: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, maybe the one person
standing between Hillary Clinton and the prize that eluded her in 2008).

Bill Whalen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.
H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

79

[Taylor Jones—For the Hoover Digest]

However, that changes if former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
enters the contest. If so, then the Senate primary tugs at the heart of the
Democratic existence in California.
And Republicans? As the minority party hoping for a top-two finish in
the June open primary and thus a spot on the November ballot, the GOP
rests its hopes on “the more, the merrier”: two or more Democrats diluting the left’s share of the vote, with a small number of Republican hopefuls
splitting their share.
That, and a couple of heavyweights who could turn the open primary into a
wide-open brawl.
In Harris, Democrats would have a candidate who’s not only a woman
but one of mixed racial identity (African-American father, Asian-American
mother) who comes from the same San Francisco Bay Area power teat
as Boxer, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Governor Jerry Brown, and
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and is on cozy terms
with the Obama White House (the president once calling
her “the best-looking attorney general in the country”).
In the other corner, Villaraigosa: male, Latino, from
dollar- and vote-rich Los Angeles.
And not on great terms with
the White House. After
chairing the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Villaraigosa lobbied
like crazy to become
the nation’s transportation secretary, only
to take himself out of
the running—not long
after Charlie Sheen had
bragged about partying
with the mayor in Cabo
San Lucas.
A word of caution
about a Villaraigosa
candidacy. Yes, it’s a
compelling narrative
should he attempt to
become the state’s

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

81

first Latino senator (at present, only one Latino holds statewide office in
California: Democratic Secretary of State Alex Padilla). And, yes, the Latino
vote—representing nearly one in five likely California voters, nearly triple
the number of black voters—is a sleeping giant.
Unfortunately for Villaraigosa, that same sleeping giant tends to catch
forty winks come election time, with the Latino turnout underperforming in
most California votes. Moreover, in California primaries, Latinos tend to turn
out stronger in such pockets as the Central Valley and Silicon Valley’s Santa
Clara Valley, which are well beyond Villaraigosa’s Los Angeles base.
One other challenge facing Villaraigosa, who left office in 2013 because
of term limits: being a Los Angeles mayor is the kiss of death for statewide
aspirations. Tom Bradley ran for governor twice in the 1980s and failed, as did
fellow Democrat Sam Yorty in 1966, 1970, and 1974 (Yorty also sought the presidency in 1972). Richard Riordan, a Republican, gave it a go in 2002 and couldn’t
survive the partisan primary. The closest thing to a happy ending in Hollywood
is William Stephens, who served for a week as Los Angeles’s acting mayor in
March 1909 before going on to become California’s governor eight years later.
That leaves the nation’s largest state with the distinct likelihood of Harris as
its next senator (no Republican has won a Senate race since Pete Wilson in 1988,
which is also the last time California went with the GOP in a presidential election).

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But what Californians would actually get is anyone’s guess.
Judging by the vague and cliched announcement on her campaign’s website,
Harris sounds a lot like Hillary Clinton six months from now (“a fighter for
middle-class families who are feeling the pinch of stagnant wages and diminishing opportunities”). By using a variation of
“fight” no fewer than seven times in that
Kamala Harris’s candidasix-paragraph statement, she’s channeling
cy could have all the airs
the notoriously pugnacious Boxer.
of a coronation.
What Harris is, in fact, is a California
equivalent of President Obama: little in
the way of a record in her political career as attorney general and Bay Area
prosecutor, but riding a tailwind that’s more conceptual than it is concrete.
The Los Angeles Times said it best in an editorial endorsing her re-election
last fall, describing Harris as “a work in progress, with much potential yet
unfilled.”
Such would seem California’s political destiny for the near future. With two
more plum jobs opening up in 2018—governor and another Senate seat—the
potential exists for two more primaries in which Democrats will clash. Two
things we know about the next class: they will be younger (Brown is America’s oldest governor, Feinstein the Senate’s oldest member). And they will be
more progressive and idealistic than the aforementioned incumbents, who
have built reputations of pragmatism and moderation.
Done in an orderly fashion, California Democrats can sort out their business. But the more crowded the primary, the greater the potential to divide
the coalition.
And Kamala Harris? Consider this one last Obama parallel: an easy Senate victory and, should her party lose the presidency, a spot on the national
ticket after only four years in Washington.
Reprinted by permission of The Hill (www.thehill.com). © 2015 Capitol
Hill Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is The New
Deal and Modern American Conservatism: A Defining
Rivalry, by Gordon Lloyd and David Davenport. To order,
call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

83

CA LI FORNI A

Going with the
Market Flow
Even when the drought ends, California and
the West will continue to thirst for water. Only a
market can direct the flow where it needs to go.

By Gary D. Libecap and Robert Glennon

T

he drought in the Western United States
from California to Texas has generated
gloomy editorials and op-eds predicting
dire consequences and even water wars.

But the West is not running out of water, nor are prolonged fights over water inevitable. Modest changes
in water use could have big results: a reduction of just
4 percent in agricultural consumption would increase
the water available for residential, commercial, and
industrial uses by roughly 50 percent, according to
our analysis of US Geological Survey data.
Yet even after the current drought ends, the West
will continue to suffer water shortages thanks to
population growth, economic development, and the

Key points
»» Traditional solutions—diversions,
new reservoirs, or
wells—will no longer substantially
increase the water
supply.
»» States should
create short-term
fixes based on
market incentives.
»» Water should
go toward the
highest-value and
most-efficient
uses.

Gary D. Libecap is the Sherm and Marge Telleen Research Fellow at the Hoover
Institution, co-chairman of Hoover’s John and Jean De Nault Task Force on Property Rights, Freedom, and Prosperity, and the Donald Bren Distinguished Professor of Corporate Environmental Management at the University of California,
Santa Barbara. Robert Glennon is a law professor at the University of Arizona.
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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

effects of climate change. When engineers designed the water infrastructure
in arid states in the West, they assumed that future droughts and floods
would follow historical patterns. But precipitation patterns have changed.
Traditional solutions—diverting more water from rivers, building new
reservoirs, or drilling additional groundwater wells—are no longer ways to
substantially increase the water supply. In a new report for the Hamilton
Project at the Brookings
Institution, we, along with
If there were ways to trade water,
coauthor Peter W. Culp,
some farmers could stop growing
propose that states use
market tools to promote
water-intensive, lower-value crops
water trading. That is,
and lease or sell the conserved
farmers or other users who water to desperate fruit and nut
reduce their consumption
growers or thirsty cities.
should be allowed to lease
or sell the conserved water.
A major overhaul of Western water law is overdue, but implementing such
reform would take years. In the near term, states should authorize shortterm leases of water, build basic market institutions, deploy risk-mitigation
tools such as dry-year options, and implement basic controls such as regulating how much water can be pumped. The current absence of viable market
opportunities and incentives is producing perverse results.
Last year, the worst drought in memory caused California farmers to
fallow almost a half-million acres of land, including some that produced
high-value fruit and nut crops. Meanwhile, Western growers of alfalfa—a
low-value and high-water-use crop—are on pace to export two million tons
of alfalfa to China, South
Korea, and Japan—produced
with enough water to supply
The United States has a national
several million US families
interest in encouraging better use
for a year or to irrigate hunof water everywhere.
dreds of thousands of acres
of high-value almond trees. If there were ways to trade water, some farmers
could cut back on the production of more water-intensive, lower-value crops
and lease or sell the conserved water to desperate fruit and nut growers or
thirsty cities.
Most farmers don’t have that option. Even though federal and state policy
fosters the export of agricultural commodities, Western water law generally
inhibits trade in the water used to grow the commodities. States should open

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

85

up the market by eliminating or streamlining legal barriers that effectively
block transfers of water.
A market in water would encourage efficiency by stimulating innovation,
promoting specialization, and allowing water to move from lower-value to
higher-value uses. Farmers who have a chance to trade a portion of their
water have an incentive to take measures, such as installing more efficient
irrigation systems, to free up water for trade. It would also create opportunities to deploy market-based tools, such as dry-year options, to help mitigate
water risks to farms and cities.
For example, under a dry-year option, a water user with a low tolerance for water shortages—such as an almond farmer whose trees would
quickly die without water—can contract with a seasonal agricultural user,
such as a broccoli grower. In dry years, the almond
producer would have

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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

the right to use the broccoli grower’s water. The almond producer pays
a yearly premium to guard against times when water shortages would
result in the loss of his orchard. The proceeds from the option give the
broccoli grower a guaranteed revenue stream and thereby provide a
hedge against a drought that might destroy his annual crop—mitigating
risk for both parties.
The United States has a national interest in encouraging more efficient use
of water everywhere. While Americans used to fret about running out of oil,
water also fuels the American economy. A 2013 survey of the world’s largest companies by Deloitte Consulting found that 70 percent of respondents
identified water as a substantial business risk,
either in direct

[Taylor Jones—For the Hoover Digest]

H O O V E R D IG E S T • S P RING 2015

87

operations or supply chains. Companies with water challenges include obvious ones, such as Coca-Cola, and surprising ones, such as Intel, which needs
large quantities of water to produce its processors.
The Western water crisis is basically an imbalance between supply and
demand. Opening water resources to trade has the potential to reduce
the imbalance by rewarding water conservation, ensuring that water goes
toward the highest-value and most-efficient uses, and providing the financial
tools to mitigate fluctuations in water availability.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. © 2015 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is Issues
on My Mind: Strategies for the Future, by George P.
Shultz. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

88

H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

F OR E I G N POLI CY

The War that
Must Never Be
Fought
To eliminate nuclear weapons, we must first
eliminate outmoded thinking.

By James E. Goodby

P

lenty of changes have appeared in the nuclear arena in the past
seven decades. Numbers of nuclear weapons have risen sharply
and have just as sharply declined. The perceived utility of nuclear
weapons, once thought to be ideal for the conduct of coercive

diplomacy, has shrunk to the point where deterrence against their use is
almost their sole purpose. The technology of the nuclear components of the
weapons advanced spectacularly for many years but has now leveled off. The
types of weapons perceived to be needed for deterrence have changed from
“city busting” multi-megaton weapons to lower-yield weapons.
There have been constants, too, in the nuclear arena, primarily on the
political-psychological side. One of them is that progress toward ending reliance on nuclear weapons for defense purposes has depended on factors other
than a cost-benefit analysis of the weapons themselves. These factors include
national leadership attitudes and the state of the relationships between
James E. Goodby is an Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover
Institution and a member of Hoover’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy
Policy and Arctic Security Initiative.
H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

89

nuclear-armed nations. One of the basic nuclear constants has been public
confidence in the ability of nuclear weapons to preserve peace and protect
the safety of the homeland. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s
dictum of 1955 is still broadly accepted: “Safety will be the sturdy child of
terror, and survival the twin brother of annihilation.” Churchill described the
practice of nuclear deterrence as a “sublime irony.” So it must have seemed.
But Churchill envisaged an end to reliance on nuclear deterrence, that it
would someday “reap its final reward,” enabling “tormented generations to
march forth serene and triumphant from the hideous epoch in which we have
to dwell.”
The dilemma that “tormented generations” face now is how to judge that
nuclear deterrence has reaped its final reward, how to decide that whatever
utility it had as an immediately usable instrument of unprecedented destruction to the planet has ended. Some of the assumptions made about nuclear
deterrence need serious reconsideration. We ought to understand why.
Nuclear deterrence, in the form of an assured ability to inflict massive
damage on an enemy’s homeland even after absorbing an initial nuclear
attack by that enemy, has been a constant in American strategic doctrine
almost since the beginning of the US-Soviet nuclear competition. Nuclear
deterrence has been assumed to “work” under different levels of nuclear
forces and very different doctrines for employment of nuclear weapons.
What the threat of a nuclear strike actually deterred was always a matter
of conjecture and had to remain so. Nuclear weapons have not been used
since 1945 and never at all in a two-sided nuclear war. All the certitudes
about the effectiveness of nuclear deterrence are based on theory, not on
practice.
Another onetime constant—the upward trajectory in the numbers of
nuclear weapons held by the United States and the Soviet Union—endured
for about a quarter of a century. That trajectory then made a sharp transition downward. Today the world’s nuclear arsenals contain only about onethird of the numbers they held in 1986. Why did this happen?
WHAT WILL BRING CHANGE?
In their foreword for a 1997 publication of Stanford University, George Shultz
and William Perry wrote:
History has shown that Reykjavik was a true turning point. Three
major treaties between the United States and the Soviet Union
were negotiated by the end of 1992; they resulted in substantially

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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

reduced levels of nuclear weapons. That happened as the Cold
War was ending and, as the Russians say, it was no coincidence. A
dramatic change in the relationship between the Soviet Union and
the United States made it possible. A readiness, both in Washington and in Moscow, to open a new chapter in their relationship
prepared the way.
So the answer as to why the nuclear trajectory reversed course, quite
simply, is that eliminating nuclear weapons is not achievable through a
process that focuses exclusively on nuclear weapons, whether that process
be a pragmatic step-by-step approach or a comprehensive blueprint. “Creating the conditions for a world without
nuclear weapons,” as the UN Security
Winston Churchill described
Council has put it, is clearly the right
way to think about it.
the practice of nuclear deterEfforts to reduce dependence on
rence as a “sublime irony”
nuclear deterrence cannot move
and hoped for an end to “this
beyond the overall state of relations
hideous epoch.”
between adversaries. How can one
get off the tiger’s back? It appears that only a broad-based effort to improve
the basic state of relations between two nuclear-armed rivals will allow the
nuclear competition to safely end.
A false corollary of this conclusion is the familiar gibe that “arms control
becomes possible only when it is not needed.” It is false because a basic
improvement in the relationship is not likely to be achieved while two nations
remain nuclear-armed strategic rivals. This situation has contributed to the
stalemate in which the United States and Russia now find themselves. The
two processes have to proceed hand in hand, as President Reagan and his
secretary of state, George Shultz, demonstrated in their negotiations with
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Just as Reagan was right to use nuclear reductions to effect basic change
in the US-Soviet relationship and to end the Cold War structure of the international system, so would the contemporary American leadership be right
to set a goal of creating a new global security commons, with a core element
being a commitment to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear
weapons. Challenging the global status quo is essential to dramatic reductions in nuclear arsenals, just as reductions in nuclear arsenals are necessary
to lubricate the gears of the international system as it makes the transition to
a very different set of relationships.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

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POISED: A decommissioned Titan II missile sits in its underground silo at the
Titan Missile Museum in Sahuarita, Arizona. Nuclear deterrence, the assured
ability to inflict massive damage on an enemy’s homeland even after absorbing an initial nuclear attack by that enemy, has been a constant in American
strategic doctrine throughout the nuclear age. But the certitudes of deterrence all rest on theory. [Jurvetson (flickr) / Creative Commons]

NUCLEAR DETERRENCE AS A CRUTCH
Last September, the New York Times reported in some detail about what it
called “a nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for
a new generation of weapon carriers. A recent federal study put the collective price tag, over the next three decades, at up to a trillion dollars.”
The article cited a view among disappointed advisers to the administration that “the modernization of nuclear capabilities has become an end
unto itself.”
A major factor inhibiting change is that “nuclear deterrence” has become
an intellectual crutch, often making it harder to deal with the real problems
in the world today. “Deterrence” has become so associated with nuclear
weapons that deterrence by other means is hardly thought of as the same

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concept. But deterrence in any form is not necessarily the best intellectual
construct for addressing twenty-first-century problems.
A new form of medievalism threatens all responsible governments and
the international order itself. The availability of deadly force on a large
scale is no longer the monopoly of governments. An order based on the
preservation of nation-states is no longer the goal of some extremist
groups. This threat is not one that can be deterred by the threat of crushing retaliation with nuclear weapons. It may not be influenced by any form
of deterrence.
Insurrections and civil wars rage in Africa and the Middle East. Deterrence in any form lacks the credibility to stop them. Russia has used force
in Georgia and Ukraine to protect its perceived interests. Russia was
not deterred by the opinion of other nations and military retaliation was
never considered by other nations. Today’s threats require the integration of all elements of national power to serve US national interests. The
point is not to take force off the table but to elevate other factors to more
prominence in the US approach to international relations.
Deterrence as a tool of statecraft is here to stay. Nuclear deterrence,
especially as practiced during the Cold War, is not. Moral arguments
have been part of the conversation about nuclear weapons since the
1940s. They have not swayed national leaders, with very few exceptions—Ronald Reagan being one. But
arguments about nuclear deterrence
and nuclear weapons reductions based “Nuclear deterrence” only
makes it harder to deal with
on the disutility of nuclear weapons
have gradually been having an effect
the real problems in the
on how nuclear weapons are viewed
world today.
by political leaders and military planners, at least in the United States.
In a documentary called Nuclear Tipping Point, General Colin Powell said,
“And the one thing I convinced myself of, after all these years of exposure
to the use of nuclear weapons, is that they were useless. They could not
be used.” This experience and new realities of the last decade should have
changed public attitudes about nuclear deterrence. But that has not happened. Perceptions derived from the Cold War still dominate most of the
public debate.
Technology has been one of the major drivers of evolving theories of
deterrence. Future concepts of deterrence are likely to be shaped by
technologies only now emerging as potential game-changers in warfare.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

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These include cyberwarfare, space attacks, synthetic biology, and
drones.
A FUTURE OF CONDITIONAL PEACE
Britain, France, and the United States have long since entered into a relationship that can be described as a stable peace: that is, for them war is
not a conceivable policy option. But it is fair to say that peace is still conditional as between the United States, Russia, and China. The use of force
in their mutual relationship is a very remote possibility but is not entirely
excluded. Unfortunately, military force, whether nuclear or conventional,
still figures in calculations about the relationships, whether measured in
numbers of nuclear weapons or in deployments of naval, air, and ground
forces.
In the future, situations that are not demonstrably bilateral may become
the norm. Even now, but especially in the event global nonproliferation
efforts fail to meet current challenges, the nuclear deterrence calculations of
the United States and other states armed with nuclear weapons will have to
be based on a much more complex set of global and regional dynamics.
The agenda for successful strategic stability talks in a multipolar nuclear
universe cannot be a laundry list of things each nation wants to do, in its own
way, and with little regard for how others see such actions. Strategic stability
has everything to do with the broad context in which the nations are operating and little to do with first and second strikes as between, say, the United
States and North Korea or between India and China.
During the Cold War, the practice of nuclear deterrence carried
What a threatened nuclear
with it the vast risk of annihilation
strike actually deterred was
on a global scale. But Moscow and
always a matter of conjecture
Washington each believed that
its side would ultimately prevail,
and had to remain so.
largely through peaceful means,
and that preventive war was unnecessary. Moreover, the United States and
the Soviet Union had no territorial claims against the other. They were
insulated by thousands of miles from the daily frictions that arise when
adversaries live side by side. Given these circumstances, the Soviet Union
and the United States had the luxury of time to develop rules, tacit and otherwise, to tilt the scales against the use of nuclear weapons. These circumstances do not exist in the Middle East, Northeast Asia, or South Asia. To

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assume that nuclear deterrence will always and forever work successfully,
even in very different conditions, is an exercise in wishful thinking.
The goal of seeking a world without nuclear weapons as a core element of a
new global security commons would deal with the most devastating weapon
humanity has ever devised. Creating the conditions to achieve this goal will
highlight issues that need to be resolved if nuclear weapons are ever to be
eliminated.
Excerpted and adapted from The War that Must Never Be Fought: Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterrence, edited by George P. Shultz and James E.
Goodby (Hoover Institution Press, 2015). © 2015 by the Board of Trustees
of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

Forthcoming from the Hoover Institution Press is The
War that Must Never Be Fought: Dilemmas of Nuclear
Deterrence, edited by George P. Shultz and James E.
Goodby. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

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F O R EI GN POLICY

“Good Enough”
Governance
In both wars and nation building, America has
sacrificed the good to pursue the perfect. We need
to temper our ambitions.

By Stephen D. Krasner

T

he United States has the most potent
military in terms of firepower and operational capacity in history. Our military
overthrew Saddam Hussein and crushed

the Taliban in a matter of weeks. Our forces can direct
a rocket from Nevada through a window in Kandahar,
Afghanistan, and nimbly set up nearly twenty Ebola
treatment centers in Liberia.
Yet this same military, as writer James Fallows
recently pointed out in the Atlantic, has not won its
wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya or anywhere else
in the past twenty years—if winning means creating
a stable, capable, and ideally democratic governing

Key points
»» Modern liberal
democracy will
not automatically
spring into being.
»» In most of the
world, rulers
act in their own
self-interest and
in defiance of US
desires.
»» Wilsonian
aspirations are
unreachable and
counterproductive.

structure that is able and willing to police its own
territory. After the United States poured billions of
Stephen D. Krasner is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, the Graham H.
Stuart Professor of International Relations at Stanford University, and Stanford’s
senior associate dean for the social sciences at the School of Humanities and Sciences. He is also a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute.
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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

dollars into the Iraqi army, it fell apart in the face of a few thousand initially
lightly armed Islamic State fighters.
Conditions in Afghanistan are in some ways far better than they were
before 9/11: life expectancy has jumped by more than five years, and many
more children, girls as well as boys, attend school. But the Taliban remains
an active threat. Kabul is haunted by the fear of terrorist attacks. Foreigners
have fled. Opium production is up. Corruption is rampant. In Iraq, the likelihood that the country will become a well-governed, unified state is nil even if
Islamic State is degraded over time. Libya is descending into chaos.
We have not lost because the military and its leaders failed to adapt or
because military resources were misdirected. We have lost because we—our
civilian leaders, our country—have accepted objectives that are not attainable. Our goal has been to put countries on the road to modernity, to move
them toward well-governed, prosperous, democratic states that respect
human rights, have an active civil society, treat women and men as equals,
have a free press, extend the rule of law to all
members of society, and encourage marketWhat our military canoriented economic activity.
not do—what no one
Our military knows how to fight effectively
against an enemy as unconventional as the Tal- can do—is transform
iban, Al-Qaeda, or Islamic State, but also how
domestic political and
to train their Iraqi and Afghan counterparts to
economic institutions
pull off complicated military maneuvers.
in unstable countries.
But what our military cannot do—what no
one can do—is transform domestic political and economic institutions in
these countries. We, our leaders and our people, are guilty of assuming that
the United States is not only a “city on a hill” but also the natural model for
how human beings should organize political authority. We think that modern
liberal democracy is what many countries should aspire to and that, absent
obstacles, it will spring into existence. This is a chimera.
For most of human history in most of the world, rulers who wield power
have invariably acted in their own self-interest. Controlling the state is the
path to personal wealth and power. Corruption is not an aberration; it is the
lubricant that makes their governing possible. Modern election outcomes in
these places are often perverted or produce leaders who have no interest in
sustaining accountable governance, even though the United States has spent
hundreds of millions of dollars to provide technical election assistance, support political parties and civil society organizations, and establish election
monitors.

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[Taylor Jones—For the Hoover Digest]

It does not matter how well our military is trained, how wisely we deploy
our defense dollars, or how conscientious our politicians might be. Our
military intervention cannot put these countries on the path to modernity.
We must change our goals if we are to enhance our own national security and
provide a better life for the citizens of the countries where we send our men
and women to fight.
Our objective should be “good enough” governance, which means ensuring
that a state is capable of keeping order within its own boundaries—at least
enough order to contain transnational terrorists. The provision of this order
may sometimes be arbitrary and brutal. Maintaining order in some countries
might require an American military whose primary mission would be to
degrade transnational terrorist entities and perhaps intervene to maintain a
balance of power among local strongmen.
Where ethnic conflicts have eroded trust, we should encourage decentralization. Ideally, “good enough” governance would include providing some
public services such as health care and primary education that would not
threaten the local elite’s ability to extract resources and stay in power. Some
degree of economic growth might be possible provided we recognize that
these rulers always require their cut of the profits.
Unless we accept that our Wilsonian aspirations are unreachable and
counterproductive, the United States will not be able to align its assets—military and civilian—with policies that have a chance of keeping us safer. Such
a development just might leave some countries better off than they were
before we intervened.
Reprinted by permission of the Los Angeles Times. © 2015 Los Angeles
Times. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is Nuclear
Security: The Problems and the Road Ahead, by
George P. Shultz, Sidney D. Drell, Henry A. Kissinger,
and Sam Nunn. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit
www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

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EN ERGY

Saved by the Drill
“Drill, baby, drill” was derided as a political punch
line—until it worked.

By Victor Davis Hanson

E

ven with renewed demand from a global economy, low energy
prices continue. The United States has suddenly become the
world’s largest combined producer of oil and natural gas.
That fact—along with a desire to weaken hostile Iran and Rus-

sia—has prompted the oil-rich Persian Gulf sheikdoms to keep pumping oil
even as the price falls. In their game of petro-chicken, the desperate sheiks
hope that either their poorer enemies will run out of cash, or that fracking in
the United States will become unprofitable and cease.
Everyone seems to have forgotten about peak oil—the catchphrase of the
new millennium.
The world in general, and the United States in particular, supposedly had
already burned more oil than was left under the earth. Under President
Barack Obama, gasoline prices had soared. When he entered office in January 2009, gas prices averaged around $1.60 per gallon. Four years later, by
spring of 2013, gas prices had climbed beyond $3.50 a gallon.
The Obama administration never worried much about high energy costs.
During the 2008 campaign, Obama promised that “under my plan . . . electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Shutting down coal plants and using
higher-priced but cleaner natural gas would pave the way for even pricier
mandated wind and solar generation.

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the
Hoover Institution and the chair of Hoover’s Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict.
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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

STEADY WORK: Oil rig worker Ray Gerrish works on a drilling site near Watford City, North Dakota, in January. US oil exploration vastly increased the
supply of what was supposedly a permanently declining resource, thereby
helping to drag down prices. [ZUMA Press / Newscom / Jim Gehrz]

In the vice presidential debates of 2008, Joe Biden mocked Sarah Palin
for the supposedly mindless campaign mantra of “drill, baby, drill.” Biden
intoned, “It will take ten years for one drop of oil to come out of any of the
wells that are going to be drilled.”
The energy secretary-designate, the professorial Steven Chu, in 2008 had
unwisely voiced a widely held but wisely unspoken progressive belief that
“somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the
levels in Europe”—or about $9 a gallon.
Just two years ago, when up for re-election, Obama reminded Americans,
“We can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.”

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Obama ridiculed the Republican idea of lowering gas to $2 a gallon through
new oil-recovery techniques. “They’re already dusting off their three-point
plans for $2 gas,” Obama mocked. “I’ll save you the suspense: step one is drill,
step two is drill, and step three is keep drilling.”
Such easy rhetoric was backed by action—or lack of it. The Keystone
XL pipeline was put on hold. New fracking leases on federal lands were
postponed. Huge areas of oil- and gas-rich federal lands were put off limits.
Some blue states stopped fracking.
Money poured into solar schemes
In 2008, President Obama
like Solyndra.
promised that “under my
Decreased use of expensive
plan . . . electricity rates
energy was deemed desirable.
would necessarily skyrocket.”
Cash-strapped commuters would
be forced to drive less, thereby
advancing the noble cause of curbing supposed manmade global warming.
Federal subsidies flowed for high-speed rail. Wind, solar, and other alternative energies could at last become competitive. Cap-and-trade legislation
looked as if it might sail through Congress.
Unfortunately for the Obama administration, the new age of sky-high oil
prices proved an economic disaster. The natural cycle of recovery never
quite followed the end of the recession in mid-2009, as US budget and trade
deficits soared.
Abroad, all the wrong countries were empowered as never before.
The late Hugo Chávez used his oil windfall in Venezuela to subsidize subversion throughout Latin America. Petrodollar-rich Russian leader Vladimir
Putin charted a confident anti-American foreign policy.
Iran used its growing riches to step up progress toward producing a
nuclear bomb while upping subsidies to terrorist organizations such as
Hezbollah.
Then, finally, oil and gas prices plunged thanks to the “drill, baby, drill,”
can-do attitude of the private sector. Americans should thank the US oilman—from the drillers in the
field to the engineers behind the
scenes—who did the impossible.
Abroad, high oil prices empowThey vastly increased the supply
ered all the wrong countries.
of what was supposedly a permanently declining resource, and thereby helped to crash prices.
Oilmen, not the government, returned hundreds of billions of dollars
to American consumers. They, not Ivy League experts and Wall Street

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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

grandees, kick-started the economy where federal subsidies had failed to.
They, not the policies of the Obama administration or the rhetoric of Secretary of State John Kerry, weakened our enemies.
Almost everything Obama tried for six years in an effort to rev the
economy failed. Yet the US economy is slowly recovering with cheap energy.
Consumers have more money. Industries are returning to US soil.
Abroad, spendthrift oil producers such as hostile Iran, Russia, and Venezuela are nearly broke. Friendly rivals such as Japan and the European Union
can’t compete with the US energy edge.
What Obama once ridiculed is now saving him from himself—after he had
championed policies that nearly destroyed him.
The Greeks had a word for it: irony.
Reprinted by permission of National Review. © 2014 National Review, Inc.
All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is NAFTA
at 20: The North American Free Trade Agreement’s
Achievements and Challenges, edited by Michael J.
Boskin. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

103

I MMI GRATI ON

Immigration that
Works
How to mend a broken system.

By Edward Paul Lazear

P

resident Obama’s unilateral action on immigration angered many in
Congress and among the public. Here is a more measured and constructive approach—one that would move the country forward and
address the concerns voters expressed in the most recent election.

To fix a system the president admits is broken, Congress can pass legisla-

tion to deal with three issues:
»» Use market indicators to award green cards that favor immigrants in
needed occupations and industries.
»» Create a new class of visa that carries an annual fee, available to some
of the undocumented, and provide for a guest-worker program.
»» Use employer-based incentives to deal with illegal immigration, past
and future.
Most immigrants come to the United States now on the basis of family ties,
not on the basis of their skills. Family reunification considerations are important, but they should not trump all others. Typically, fewer than one-sixth of
immigrants each year obtain green cards based on their skills, according to
the Department of Homeland Security.
Edward Paul Lazear is the Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow at
the Hoover Institution, co-chair of Hoover’s Conte Initiative on Immigration Reform, and the Jack Steele Parker Professor of Human Resources Managment and
Economics at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
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More slots should be allocated on the basis of occupational needs. The
easiest way to determine which industries and occupations are experiencing labor shortages is to identify those with rapid wage growth. When labor
demand rises relative to supply, wages go up. According to Bureau of Labor
Statistics data,
information services,
As an alternative to deportation, one
management, and
reasonable approach would fine certain
pipeline transportaundocumented immigrants but let them
tion saw the most
rapid wage growth
stay and work.
from 2006 to 2014.
Data on industry and occupation vacancy and unemployment rates can also
be used to determine labor-market demand.
Congress could allocate perhaps half the annual number of green cards
issued on a statistics-determined skill basis, where priority is given to
skills for which demand is growing most rapidly relative to supply. Greencard entry criteria could be adjusted periodically to reflect labor-market
conditions.
This reform would help the economy but several studies over the years
show that it would not significantly depress domestic wages. One study by
Zvi Eckstein and Yoram Weiss on the massive Soviet migration to Israel
(Journal of the European Economic Association, 2004) revealed that immigration had at most small effects on the wages of the native-born. Robert
LaLonde and Robert H. Topel (American Economic Review, 1991) and Giovanni
Peri (Institute for the Study of Labor, 2014) provide evidence that immigrants
have negligible effects on those already in a country—wage pressure, if any, is
primarily on immigrants who came earlier. Using labor-market data to determine labor-market tightness will mitigate any adverse impact on wages.
In addition, perhaps 250,000 temporary worker visas can be issued annually to enhance existing H-1 and H-2 foreign-worker visa programs. The new
visa would allow workers to stay for up to two years and be concentrated in
industries with shortages.
Most Americans accept that those who have entered illegally or overstayed
their visas have committed a crime. Complete amnesty seems inappropriate
and would encourage illegal entry in the future. As an alternative to deportation, however, one reasonable approach is to fine undocumented immigrants
rather than deport them.
Congress could create a “Z” visa, to be issued to undocumented immigrants who can demonstrate that they have been in the United States

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

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REFORM: People march in an immigration demonstration in Minneapolis. A
better approach to the immigration system would make room for immigrants
with certain skills, clear away the underground system of illegal immigration,
and hold employers to account. [Chris Isett / Creative Commons]

for five years or more and have no criminal record. The visa would allow
them, their spouses, and their children to stay, provided that they pay an
annual visa fee of, say, a few hundred dollars. Anyone with a Z visa could
apply for a green card but would go to the end of the queue, continuing
to have Z status during the waiting period, as long as the annual visa fee
was paid.
Holders of the Z visa would be able to work while they wait for their green
cards. A useful and equitable extension of the Z-visa system would be to
allow a limited number of those who are not already in the country, but have

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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

been waiting patiently, to obtain Z visas and pay the visa fee while they await
regular green-card status.
Finally, Congress should create appropriate incentives to apply for legal
status. Employer
enforcement is
Give priority to skills for which demand is
essential to ensure
most outpacing supply.
that the undocumented do not choose to stay in the shadows rather than pay the fee for a Z
visa. Programs like E-Verify are necessary and should be enhanced. Firms
should be fined heavily for hiring those here illegally, but given safe harbor as
long as they check the status of new employees.
A system that penalizes employing those without legal status in the United
States is also the best way to keep new illegal immigrants out. Border
enforcement is necessary, but immigrants who cannot work cannot afford to
live in the United States. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, nearly half
of all illegal immigrants in the United States entered the country legally and
overstayed their visas. The only way to close that avenue is to eliminate their
employment possibilities.
Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. © 2014 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is
Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, SelfGovernment, and Political Moderation, by Peter
Berkowitz. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

107

T H E MI L I TARY

Don’t Retreat on
the Draft
The Pentagon may need reforms, but a return to
conscription? That would be double marching in
the wrong direction.

By Timothy Kane

T

he godfather of the all-volunteer
military, Martin Anderson, died a

Key points

few months ago at the age of seventy-

»» The Pentagon needs
shaking up, but a return to the draft would
make things worse.

eight. Anderson was a colleague

of mine at the Hoover Institution, but he was
working to end the draft before most of us were
born. In 1967 he urged presidential candidate
Richard Nixon to support the all-volunteer Army
in the form of a twenty-seven-page technical
memo and relentlessly nudged Nixon to make
the issue central to the 1968 election. As another
Hoover colleague, David Henderson, documented,
“Anderson wrote the antidraft speech that Nixon
gave on CBS radio during the 1968 election.”
After the election, Anderson was the key White

»» An Army of draftees
would be less competent, making the
nation less secure.
»» The quality and reliability of our volunteer troops remain far
superior to those of
previous eras.
»» A draft is a burden.
Voluntary military
service is a privilege.

House adviser who overrode Pentagon resistance,
Timothy Kane is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and co-chair of
Hoover’s Conte Initiative on Immigration Reform.
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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

organized the famous Gates Commission, and coordinated the legislation
ending conscription once and for all in January 1973.
Martin Anderson is a role model for policy wonks—both a brilliant scholar
and a successful practitioner who made America a more perfect union. And
yet a staunch few critics still
doubt the wisdom of volunNo human alive doubts that Ameritary military service. In the
last month of Anderson’s
ca’s enemies are in grave danger, nor
life, two major magazines
that attacks on our soil will be doubly
published cover stories
answered. That’s credibility.
questioning the change. The
modern Pentagon personnel system has some alarming flaws, to be sure, but
the question is whether we go back to a coercive, conscripted “citizen” army
or go further forward to a total volunteer force that gives even more agency
to soldiers.
THE “BEST SOLDIERS IN THE WORLD”
James Fallows is concerned about the cultural chasm widening between
Americans who choose to serve in the military and the citizens who don’t
or can’t. His cover story for the Atlantic showed a toy soldier, of the monochrome green plastic type, dropping his rifle, limbs splayed in agony under
fire, backlit on black space, overlaid with a promise to explain inside why the
“Best Soldiers in the World Keep Losing.”
As a veteran, I can say that Fallows has our attention. If for no other reason, we’re curious, what does he think we lost? Bosnia? South Korea?
The essay is in places brilliant, poignant, insightful, and informative. One
line to savor: “Of Americans born since 1980, the millennials, about one in
three is closely related to anyone with military experience.” In contrast,
three-quarters of baby boomers were. This fact is central to the important
and ongoing national conversation about the civilian-military gap.
Unfortunately, Fallows makes some large leaps of logic trying to connect that fact to his thesis, which is that America has become a chickenhawk nation, in his words. Chickenhawk is a derogatory term applied to
politicians who support war but who avoided military service or took care
that their children should avoid it. There’s a whole chickenhawk subplot
to the never-ending debate among baby boomers, some of whom avoided
the draft (for example, Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, and Fallows, who wrote
about his shame famously in 1975) and some who didn’t (John McCain,
Colin Powell, John Kerry). But let’s set that aside. What is unfortunate is

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

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a logical overstretch: chickenhawk nation is ridiculous and tautological
all at once.
The tautology is that Fallows thinks the all-volunteer force (AVF) is a
failure because it makes war too easy to start and then too easy to ignore.
So if you support violence but don’t practice it, you’re a chickenhawk hypocrite. By extension, you cannot support police unless you personally hunt
criminals.
Fallows claims the voluntary nature of military service fosters a public far
too safe and cozy and therefore careless about military spending and unwinnable wars. He further asserts that Iraq and Afghanistan are being lost,
blaming that result on a disengaged democracy. This is where the argument
is open to ridicule.
First, the American public was hardly indifferent to the plight of their military in 2004 or 2008, elections centering largely on the Iraq War. In fact, a
sign of the piece’s inherent inconsistency is when Fallows himself writes that
“Hillary Clinton paid a price for her vote to authorize the Iraq War, since that
is what gave the barely known Barack Obama an opening to run against her
in 2008.” Central premise, self-refuted.
Second, Vietnam was a far less winnable war in the 1960s and ’70s when
the draft was in place. Iraq, in contrast, was largely won because the AVF
generation of generals (James Mattis, David Petraeus, and many more)
pushed the White House to change strategies after 2006. Indeed, Iraq was
lost only after 2012, for reasons that have nothing to do with the composition
of the force. It has everything to do with who was commander in chief, his
withdrawal of all US forces from the country, and his impatience with longterm engagement.
I respect the judgment of those who question the strategic value of America’s troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though I disagree. But let’s
at least consider some partial successes. No repeat of 9/11-like attacks, albeit
for now, is victory. More important, no human alive doubts that America’s
enemies are in grave danger, nor that attacks on our soil will be doubly
answered. That’s credibility.
A deeper kind of success is that the American strategy of patient, forward
deployment, even and especially when it is not self-interested, has benefitted our allies and the world. America’s engagement in Asia and Europe
since 1945 created a security umbrella fostering peace and unprecedented
prosperity. If this model were applied to the Middle East—supporting allies
rather than hunting monsters—it would reshape the Middle East’s future,
and on this Fallows might agree.

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RIGID AND RISK-AVERSE
The best part of his reporting is how the Pentagon personnel bureaucracy
has become risk-averse and careerist, a transformation invisible to the
admiring public. This arguably feeds into a military-industrial complex far
harder to crack than President Eisenhower could have imagined. But ask
yourself this: would weapons acquisitions be more efficient and transparent in a conscripted military? Not likely. The real answer, I believe, is that
acquisitions officers should be given
more autonomy and flexibility, exactly
My favorite example of the
the kind of expertise that could develop
current Pentagon rigidity
in a total volunteer force.
Fallows reports some good news for
is that George Washington,
reform: a new, bipartisan crop of federal
a farmer, would never be
legislators after the 2014 elections will
allowed to serve as a gendouble the number of veterans in Coneral in today’s Army.
gress. There is a raging debate inside
the ranks about how to fix the Pentagon personnel system. Most everyone
favors a talent management evolution to fix what former secretary of defense
Robert Gates called the “institutional concrete,” and these new legislators
will be the key to breaking it up. Freshman Congresswoman Martha McSally
of Arizona, a retired Air Force officer and one of America’s first female
combat fighter pilots, spoke in favor of the total volunteer force concept at a
Hudson Institute forum in early 2013 and could be the legislative champion
that active-duty troops have been hoping for.
The Atlantic cover story rightly challenges Americans to think carefully
about the civilian-military gap. My own mind is not made up about the
gap—neither about how to fix it nor even how serious it is. But I have a
sense that fixing the gap and fixing the personnel system are opposite sides
of the same coin.
One thing I am confident about is that Fallows’s preference for a return to
the pre-1973 practice of conscription is the wrong direction. More than 90
percent of active-duty troops and recent veterans are of the same mind: we
do not want to serve alongside conscripts. A draft Army is less competent,
making the nation less secure as it makes service more deadly because it
relies on constantly turning over two-year enlistees instead of twenty-year
professionals. Draft proponents want the public to grow more hostile to
foreign wars by threatening its children with coercive service, at the price of
making Army life more lethal to all soldiers because of draftee incompetence.
Is that a moral tradeoff?
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111

ARE WE INDIFFERENT TO THE MILITARY?
It is worth deconstructing the Fallows essay, which opens with the author
watching a televised speech by President Obama while waiting for a flight at
Chicago’s O’Hare airport. The speech concerned Syria’s civil war, a flashpoint
of debate nationally and within the White House about whether and how to
engage with American ground troops. It is an explosive issue. Fallows was
riveted. So were the 1.4 million men and women on active duty. In contrast,
his fellow air travelers barely cared; they “went back to their smartphones
and their laptops and their Cinnabons as the president droned on.”
The entire essay hinges on this moment. Fallows equates the other travelers’
lack of interest in the president’s speech to indifference toward the military.
More likely, most Americans had tuned out what an omnipresent, unpopular
president was saying during the 2014 campaign. He suggests that Americans’
deep admiration for the troops is counterintuitive proof of their indifference.
In this narrative, civilians admire too much. Where’s the evidence? He cites a
handful of distinguished veterans who agree that civilians are fawning, therefore uncritical, therefore (here’s the error) indifferent. That’s a bridge too far.
What Fallows offers next is a comparison of movies and TV shows during
the boomer era versus the modern era. We’re told that 1970s films MASH and
The Deer Hunter show a balance of respect and skeptical insight whereas this
decade’s Lone Survivor and Restrepo show an imbalance of admiration and
ignorance. Really?
I’m torn here. I find myself agreeing, as many veterans do, that the public is not
critical enough of the Pentagon. I think there’s a valid point that public admiration
greases wasteful spending. One irony is that overspending on hardware means
underspending on people in uniform, with very serious long-term consequences
for military manpower. That said, I just don’t buy the argument that the public
is out of touch with the military. Deconstructing Hollywood is glib and subjective
at best. But even using Hollywood as a barometer, Black Hawk Down and more
recent films strike me as telling the same story as the 1970s classics: good men
and women bonding together through the adversity of war and the incompetence
of the larger bureaucracy, sometimes triumphantly, other times tragically.
The argument that a smaller, professional military also fuels indifference
does not wash. Professional athletes are exceedingly rare. So are astronauts
and Olympic athletes. Are we indifferent to them?
There is a gap between civilians and the military that should worry us, but
it’s the opposite of what worries Fallows. The military’s AVF shift toward
multi-decade service careers means that senior officers have become selfsegregated, not from society but definitely from modern workplaces. They
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have adopted the worst of modern bureaucracy but none of the nimbleness of
contemporary entrepreneurial culture.
My favorite example of the current Pentagon rigidity is that George
Washington would never be allowed to serve as a general in today’s Army.
He was a farmer for over a decade before rejoining the ranks and leading
the Continental Army. Today, anyone who leaves the ranks is not allowed
back in, with rare exceptions. Eisenhower, Lee, Nimitz—none would make
flag officer today. This is where we should focus our attention on closing
the gap.
If the military were open to rehiring veterans, even those out of uniform
for a decade, it would create what people in the Pentagon are calling a “continuum of service” that could quickly and flexibly supply critical skills—think
cyber, database management, cryptography, and biowarfare. It would also
break down the wall between civilian and military experiences.
THE “BURDEN” OF CONDESCENSION
Another sophisticated critique of the all-volunteer force comes from James
Kitfield:
For their part, members of Congress have not exercised their
constitutional prerogative to declare war since World War II.
They increasingly seem inclined to cede decisions on the use of
military force to the executive branch, preferring to criticize and
score political points from the sidelines. For the generations of
Americans who have come of age in the all-volunteer era, war has
become an abstraction, something best left to the professionals.
Kitfield’s lengthy cover story in National Journal was titled “The Great Draft
Dodge,” and it also worried about invisible troops, echoing his essay’s protagonist, retired Army three-star General Karl Eikenberry.
The desire to reinstate conscription is based entirely on a vision of a fairer
sharing of the burden of military service. Kitfield describes “the accumulating burdens of a decade of conflict.” Fallows talks about the “burdens placed
upon” the American military tribe.
In theory, a draft would randomly select young men and women, treating everyone from every community fairly. Advocates ignore the reality
of conscription, which, in all countries and eras, exploits poorer and lesseducated citizens by granting numerous exemptions to others. That was
the Vietnam experience. I challenge anyone to read Fallows’s powerful 1975
story about escaping the draft and wish its return. “They walked through the

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examination lines like so many cattle off to slaughter. . . . While perhaps four
out of five of my friends from Harvard were being deferred, just the opposite
was happening to the Chelsea boys.”
Critics warned that the volunteer force would be even worse. A young
James Fallows, among others, called attention to the skyrocketing percentages of poorer, less-educated enlistees throughout the 1970s. He wrote
in 1980 that America needed to return to the draft. The fairness critique
evaporated, however, when the newly elected Reagan administration gave
volunteer soldiers significant pay raises. By the time Reagan left the White
House, the quality and reliability of our volunteer troops were far superior to
those of previous eras, and have stayed high ever since, a point Obama makes
all the time. Instead of the low-quality recruits Fallows and other AVF critics
warned about—a valid point in 1979 when half of enlistees had no high school
diploma—modern enlistees have more education than the typical civilian.
So the critique has changed, if not the critic. Now we are given little
sermons about the “burden.” Always the burden. What if the troops who
volunteer don’t think of their service as a burden, but rather think of it as an
honor? To wear the Marine uniform is not imposed on any American today.
Quite the contrary. Most Americans cannot qualify for the Marines, let alone
attempt to earn the stripes they wear.
The simple truth is that a draft is a burden, but voluntary military service
is a privilege. Certainly for the past decade, the millions of Americans who
enlisted did so by choice. They chose to fight these wars. I think we who discuss military service should keep that in mind and speak a bit more respectfully about it. To be sure, serving in uniform is hard work, but it’s not a yoke
to be shared in the way that so many writers assert.
America is a free country. Freer by definition when military service is voluntary. Any other kind of service isn’t service, after all. It’s servitude.
Reprinted by permission of Commentary (www.commentarymagazine.
com). © 2015 Commentary Magazine. All rights reserved.

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T H E M I LI TA RY

An Army of None?
Why the United States still needs a versatile, costeffective Army.

By Michael J. Arnold

W

ith public discourse about the US military focused on
rising personnel costs, efforts to reduce defense spending,
and the desire to “refocus our investments and grow our
economy,” the US Army struggles, compared to its sister

services, to articulate what it provides and why our nation still needs it.
This challenge is especially problematic when considering the public’s war
weariness after thirteen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Compounding
this problem for the Army is the escalating usefulness of various technologies that many perceive as a replacement for “boots on the ground.” Senior
policy makers, pundits, and academics increasingly question the role of
ground forces for specific combat missions and wonder whether the cost of
maintaining an active-component force structure of 450,000 is simply too
high. The Army finds itself in a conundrum of trying to explain what the
United States gets for its money and how much readiness actually costs.
This strategy paper provides a summary of the Army’s core mission statements and, combined with its recently released document, US Army Operating Concept: Win in a Complex World, explores recommendations for the Army
to reframe its strategic message. It also explains the relevance, in light of
growing skepticism, for ground forces. Finally, it illustrates why a smaller,

Colonel Michael J. Arnold (US Army) is a national security affairs fellow at the
Hoover Institution. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and
do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government.
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less-combat-ready Army may significantly jeopardize the nation’s ability to
be “prepared for the strategic challenges and opportunities we may face in
the years ahead.”
FOUR PRIMARY MISSIONS
The Army fulfills a definitive role in US national security strategy. According
to the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the Army has four primary
missions as a part of any overall joint military operation. The US Army Operating Concept outlines that “the Army must remain prepared to protect the
homeland, foster security globally, project power, and win decisively.” Therefore, in simple terms, the core missions of the US Army are the following:
»» “Deter and defeat any attack on the homeland” or respond in crisis or
for a natural disaster.
»» Use our force structure to align with coalition and allied forces to
foster security.
»» Deploy globally, as one part of the joint force.
»» Maintain personnel and equipment readiness for “prompt and sustained combat on land.”
The 2014 QDR characterizes the future security environment as “dynamic
and unpredictable,” and encompasses the need to “innovate and adapt to
meet future challenges.” The current environment also has unprecedented
importance for when, how, and under what conditions the United States
would be willing to commit land power to contingency operations. Although
the American people and their elected representatives seem increasingly
reluctant to deploy ground troops, even as part of multilateral operations,
the land component of our
joint force is required to
Ground forces indicate longer-term
sustain readiness to maincommitments and signify that the
tain credible deterrence.
Although current
nation is willing to pay the cost.
events in Iraq, Syria,
Ukraine, and the Pacific have reinvigorated the belief in the deterrent
value of the US Army, the service itself continues to struggle to explain
simply and clearly how it serves national interests with its four primary
missions. If the right message does not go out to policy makers and various academics and think tanks, the Army risks not only becoming the
“bill payer for the modernization efforts of the other military services,” as
Michael O’Hanlon wrote in the National Interest, but also finding itself less
ready to act if deterrence fails.

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IN COUNTRY: U.S. Army Spec. Kevin Welsh provides security before boarding a CH-47 Chinook helicopter after a mission in Chak Valley, Afghanistan,
in 2010. “Boots on the ground” are the most visible, tangible symbol of the
United States’ commitment to a particular crisis. [US Army / Sgt. Russell Gilchrest]

AN UNMISTAKABLE SYMBOL
The first tenet of a new strategic narrative must clearly articulate that
ground forces are the most visible, tangible symbol of the United States’
commitment to a particular crisis. Deployment of ground forces, or the
deterrent value of military preparedness to occupy territory, conveys an
unmistakable message of American resolve to aggressors, allies, and friends.
Admittedly, using ground forces for prolonged deployments and nationbuilding has proven to be a chaotic endeavor. However, “an early deployment of a sizable professional American land force can control a situation
before it spirals out of control, preserve our interests, and allow others to
take over long-term constabulary roles,” as Conrad Crane noted in Parameters, the US Army War College quarterly. Therefore, keeping sufficient
force structure in the total Army falls squarely in line with President
Obama’s stated policy objectives of mobilizing “allies and partners to take
collective action.”

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Although air and naval forces, including unmanned aerial platforms,
can provide immediate positive effects in supporting our national interests, they do not signal the same level of enduring resolve as ground
forces and will not solely help the United States achieve acceptable end
states. The fact that naval and air forces can withdraw quickly from a
crisis region creates questions among allies of US commitment, whereas
ground forces indicate longer-term commitments and signify that the
nation is willing to pay the high cost of blood “in taking direct action to
uphold standards that reflect our values,” in the president’s words. Therefore, maintaining a trained and ready force structure in the US Army
makes sense not only for the application of its core missions and for a
possible worst-case scenario, but also for the deterrent value of avoiding
conflict in the first place.
THREE WAYS OF COUNTING THE COSTS
The second tenet of the narrative should state that the US Army is
extremely cost-effective for the various services it renders to the nation.
Although the Army should be able to easily articulate costs based on
dollar figures from a total percentage of the overall federal budget,
“cost” should also be used in the broader context of what James Fearon
described as “three related but distinct components: blood, treasure, and
political will.”
The potential of placing human lives on the line, when necessary for its
national interests, is an extremely high cost, not to be taken lightly. It clearly
demonstrates the determination of US leaders
The cost of the active Army repreto achieve foreign policy
objectives. Naturally,
sents less than 3 % of the total
leaders will be cautious of
federal budget.
committing ground forces
since adversaries can attempt to impose high casualties to erode the will of
the US people. But factoring out the use of ground forces only takes away a
valuable set of tools for achieving American foreign policy objectives.
Spending tax money on a trained, ready active-component force of about
450,000 is potentially the most critiqued cost in political circles and the most
vexing for senior Army leaders. The active Army is funded at about $120
billion for fiscal year 2015. Although some entitlement programs and medical
costs for veterans have grown significantly and must be re-examined, this
cost, compared to the overall federal budget of $4 trillion, represents less

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than 3 percent of the total federal budget. Nonetheless, the Army struggles to
articulate the payoff in national readiness: what America gets for its money,
or what the Army does, its output or corporate product. The best way to
address this is by specifying that the Army is the most versatile branch of the
military to provide strategic options for an uncertain, unpredictable security
environment.
Better funding for readiness will require that the Army’s leadership work
with Congress to take a hard look at base realignments and closings and
eliminate some congressionally mandated defense
The bottom line: the Army is a team
programs. The results will
of trusted professionals.
create more flexible, costeffective response options
when national interests are at stake. In this context, the US Army can mitigate the notion that its force structure costs too much and is too expensive to
maintain.
The third aspect, the cost of maintaining political support, as addressed in
the US Army Operating Concept, stresses that the Army will now operate by
using regionally aligned forces to help “build capacity, assure allies, and deter
adversaries.” This is not to say that the Army or even a military response
has a role in every circumstance. However, if US foreign policy now stresses
the importance of “mobilizing partners and allies to take collective action”
in dynamic and unpredictable environments, as the president said last year,
the Army plays a highly versatile role in providing “logistics support, ballistic
missile defense, engineering support, and a communications architecture”
for joint and combined forces in austere environments. Building these types
of partnerships will underscore the cost-sharing nature of conducting contingency operations.
AN ARMY OF EVERYONE
The third tenet of the narrative should stress that the Army is part of the
fabric of our society and touches every community in America. At a time
when the civil-military divide is tenuous, it is important to use the Total
Army—the active, reserve, and National Guard forces—to connect with citizens. The US Army will continue to demonstrate through action that it is not
a disconnected caste system of warriors. The Army is not a faceless organization that dispatches “boots on the ground” to conflict abroad. Rather, it is
the neighbor right here in America helping with disaster relief, such as after
Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina. It is protecting the homeland as part of a

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trained and ready team and is willing to sacrifice for the good of our nation.
In essence, in the words of the chief of staff of the Army, General Raymond
Odierno, the US Army is a team of “trusted professionals.”
Rather than being overwhelmed by political stalemate and letting misinformation pull investment away from the Army, the Army must continue to
stress these tenets, shaping an accurate understanding of its versatile nature
that will resonate with the American people and elected officials. Providing
“a wide range of decisive capabilities at a reasonable cost,” as Steven Metz
put it, in a security environment that is plagued by uncertainty and unpredictability—this may be the identity it needs to inspire and attract support
and prove that America does, in fact, still need an Army.
Special to the Hoover Digest.

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T H E M I DDLE E AST

Irreconcilable
Differences—
Perhaps
A two-state solution could give Israel and the
Palestinians the “fair divorce” they want. But it
would require two willing partners, not just one.

By Richard A. Epstein

W

hen I first started teaching law at the University of Southern
California in 1968, I received a wise piece of advice from a
notable trust and estate lawyer, Hermione K. Brown, who
said pithily: “You can always tell a good deal because it leaves

both sides happy. And you can always tell a good settlement because it leaves
both sides unhappy.” Those words came back to haunt me on my recent trip to
Israel, where I had a chance to inquire about the difficult dynamics of the IsraeliPalestinian negotiations, which have soured even further since I returned home.
In principle, I share the common belief that a “two state” solution offers
the only way out of the impasse. Indeed, one of the more disturbing signs
in Israel were the maps used by tour guides that showed a unified greater

Richard A. Epstein is the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover
Institution and a member of the steering committee for Hoover’s Working Group
on Intellectual Property, Innovation, 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.
H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

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Israel, including Samaria and Judea, without any recognition of the strong
Palestinian claims to those portions of what they term the occupied territories, a.k.a. the West Bank. I can think of no more reckless course for the
Israelis to take than a formal annexation of these territories, which would
make the Palestinians second-class citizens in a state that they have grown to
abhor. Israel would come to regret a decision that could lead to its ruination.
By the same token, a one-state solution with a joint Israeli-Palestinian
government is a prelude to political strife and
social calamity. The divided control would
The fairness problem
lead to one manufactured crisis after another,
is especially thorny in
which would be quickly followed by a coup or
political negotiations.
invasion that would once again leave the Israelis helpless against an implacable foe. Just
contrast two events: Lebanon’s 1943 national pact between the Muslims and
the Maronite Christians, which resulted in civil war by 1958, and the painful
separation of India and Pakistan in 1947­–48, which has produced an enduring,
if uneasy, peace.
A two-state solution seems the only way forward. The question, then,
is on what terms. In a recent column in the New York Times, Roger Cohen,
who writes frequently about the Arab-Israeli conflict, spoke with the distinguished Israeli novelist and essayist Amos Oz. Cohen echoed Oz’s demand
for a “fair divorce” between the two sides. The op-ed’s provocative title, “A
Time for Traitors,” reminded me of Hermione K. Brown’s general dictum: the
only leaders who can work some kind of permanent peace are those who are
prepared to make concessions their own supporters will resent.
That’s the good news. The bad news about the Oz-Cohen position is that it
does not offer decisive insight on the two questions that really matter: what
the “fair divorce” should look like, and how it could be reached in negotiations. Both are formidable issues.
IS IT FAIR?
The term “fair,” as in “fair divorce,” conceals the enormous difficulty in
obtaining that lofty result through voluntary negotiations. Fairness has
a storied career in all areas of legal theory and practice. In a competitive
market with multiple buyers and sellers, the idea plays only a limited role in
policing bargaining practices. A fair deal is one that is reached by parties of
full capacity where neither uses force or fraud against the other. So long as
those procedural prerequisites are satisfied, no government official or private observer has any reason to develop an independent substantive theory

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of fairness to set an apartment’s rent, a worker’s wage, or a new computer’s
price. The job of the law is to enforce private agreements, not to revise them
in accordance with some higher normative vision.
Political negotiations, alas, never take place under competitive circumstances. Oz’s reference to fairness in divorce is all too apt because in these settlements, each spouse has only one person with whom to negotiate: his or her
opposite number. In the event of impasse, most divorces in the United States
are resolved by litigation, in which the state breaks the holdout advantage of
both sides.
A similar difficulty arises in connection with modern American labor law,
where it is considered an “unfair labor practice” for either an employer or a
union to refuse to bargain in good faith with the opposite side. But here too,
there is no independent definition of fairness, only a set of rules that require
parties to bargain with an open mind, without forcing them to make concessions to the other side, so that strikes and lockouts, often with harmful
consequences to innocent third parties (whether suppliers or consumers),
are the order of the day.
This fairness problem is exceedingly acute in these political negotiations,
and it is troubling that Cohen does not refer to any specific deal that he thinks
can do the job. Nor does he suggest a path
by which those results could be achieved,
What would a fair divorce
especially now that, politically, Hamas is
between Israel and the
very much in the picture.
It is tempting to say that the definition
Palestinians look like?
of a fair settlement is one that splits the
difference between the two sides. The intuitive attractiveness of this position
is, however, belied by the difficulty of figuring out where that elusive midpoint
lies. In this game, the great risk is that either side, or both sides, will move the
goal posts in order to shift the midpoint in their direction. Unfortunately, in
open political negotiations there is no way to stop both parties from engaging
in this behavior. Thus the Israelis can get tough with respect to the settlements
they place in the West Bank, raising fierce Palestinian objections that each new
settlement amounts to a de facto annexation of territory.
Yet the risks in the opposite direction seem greater. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, forcibly removing the Jewish settlers in that region.
My view is that this move was on balance a sensible, if difficult, strategic
retreat even in light of the horrific consequences that followed. First, it reduced
the likelihood that the Israelis would become an occupying power over a class
of second-class citizens. Second, it reduced the heavy costs of having to police

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[Taylor Jones—For the Hoover Digest]

an alien population. Third, it helped improve (at least for a short time) Israeli
standing in the hostile capitals of Europe. Fourth, it left the Israeli government
with the unhappy but important opportunity to reply with force in the event
that Gaza became a staging ground for direct attacks on Israel. Recall that an
unrepentant Hamas has used both rockets and tunnels to undermine Israeli
security and has provoked three wars—Operation Cast Lead in 2008, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, and Operation Protective Edge in 2014—in the
past ten years. And, last, the withdrawal offered a test case of what might happen if the Israelis were to remove themselves from the West Bank. As events
have turned out, this is now even less likely.
During my stay in Israel, several academics I spoke to thought that it was
a worthwhile gamble to organize a staged withdrawal from the West Bank
in an effort to phase in the control of that area by the Palestinian Authority
(PA), which has formally broken with Hamas. I am uneasy with this situation
because of the serious risk that the Fatah government could lose, or even
fitfully cede, control to Hamas, at which point the entire peace of the region
would be at stake. A revived and legitimated Hamas government would be
able to launch direct attacks on Jerusalem and invite in other nations, for
instance Iran, to help in the fight against Israel.
But many writers thought that a slower staged withdrawal could guard against
that risk by encouraging economic cooperation and allowing for a shared authority until the new Palestinian state had gained its footing. Gaza need not be used
as a crutch for refusing to make concessions on the West Bank.
Now, alas, it may well be that the political risks are too great. The efforts
for on-the-ground reconciliation seem to have foundered. Indeed, the danger
now is that the Fatah group that heads the PA will form an active if uncertain
alliance with Hamas in an effort to achieve a political or military outcome
that puts Israel at mortal risk.
AN END RUN AROUND NEGOTIATIONS
The effort to force the United Nations to extend membership to the Palestinian Authority represents a recurring threat because it bypasses the entire
process of voluntary negotiations between the two sides. The PA decision to
apply for membership in the International Criminal Court to charge Israel
with war crimes for activities in Gaza marks a true low point—it has already
provoked the Israelis to freeze payments of tax revenues to the PA and could
lead even the ever-reluctant Obama administration to cut its aid to the PA.
This immediate Israeli response has been to forgo the carrot and to rely
heavily, if not exclusively, on the stick. It may well be that this choice is

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correct in light of the present alternatives, but it carries huge risks. It is
uncertain whether this maneuver will help repair or further strain USIsraeli relations, given the long-standing public distaste that Barack Obama
and Benjamin Netanyahu have for each other. It is also possible that by this
maneuver the Israelis will lose what little support they have in the United
Nations, in the European Union, and among the (if they still exist) moderate
Arab groups that are willing to live with a two-state solution. It is therefore
easy to conclude that short-term gains will guarantee long-term losses.
And yet, what is the alternative for Israel? From the end of the British mandate in 1947 to the present day, Israel has lurched from one crisis and one war
to another, gaining population, economic growth, and military strength along
the way. Right now, as the political temperature rises, the military situation on
the ground is perhaps better than it was before the last Gaza encounter. The
blockade of Hamas is more effective now with Egyptian cooperation, and there
is little prospect of direct engagement from Lebanon, Syria, or Jordan.
The real risk to Israel is political, and on this point I continue to be amazed
that Hamas’s vile and criminal acts against both Israel and its own people have
been glossed over by the very people who do not accept Israel’s right to use
force in self-defense when lesser means will not succeed. I have long argued
in connection with Gaza that the notion of proportionality has no application
when faced with deadly force by a determined ally. The Israelis, I fear, have
to take first things first, which is to hang tough militarily in the short run and
hope that the PA will back off its flirtation with Hamas and abandon efforts
to circumvent direct negotiations by pursuing war-crimes charges against its
only negotiating partner. No one likes the extensive Israeli presence on the
West Bank, but the recent actions of the PA make it likely that the chances of a
permanent two-state solution are more remote now than ever.
Reprinted from Defining Ideas (www.hoover.org/publications/definingideas), a Hoover Institution journal. © 2015 by the Board of Trustees of
the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

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R USSI A

Army of Trolls
It sounds like something from Middle Earth:
mindless trolls carrying out their leader’s
malevolent will. But the leader is Vladimir Putin,
and the battles are taking place in cyberspace.

By Paul R. Gregory

G

ermany’s Angela Merkel described Russian President Vladimir
Putin, after a phone conversation, as “living in another world.”
Like Merkel, those of us who write about Russia’s war against
Ukraine have all had our rude introduction to Putin’s “other

world.” In his parallel universe, the aggressor is the victim, strangers appoint
themselves premiers of nonexistent republics, hundreds of soldiers mysteriously perish in border exercises or “on vacation,” a certified nationally
elected government is a “neo-Nazi junta,” and hundreds of tanks and heavy
weapons crossing borders are optical illusions.
Putin’s version of Alice in Wonderland can be wacky, mind-boggling, irritating,
disgusting, cynical, and incorrigible, but underlying it is a sinister narrative cleverly designed to promote Putin’s goals and head off effective Western action.
Putin has used a troll army throughout his presidency that went largely
unnoticed before the Crimean invasion. The Kremlin indeed requires an
“army” to construct a new universe parallel to the “real universe” in which
we live. Google counts 1.5 million media entries under “Putin attacks
Ukraine.” The trolls must convince their audience that the Google title
should read instead “Ukraine attacks Russia.” Quite a job!
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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According to a Buzzfeed account, each troll is expected to post fifty news
articles daily and maintain six Facebook and ten Twitter accounts, with fifty
tweets per day. At these rates, a small army of one thousand trolls will post
a hundred thousand news articles and tweets per day. The Kremlin does not
spare the cash. In a time of austerity, the budget for “participation in the international information space” is scheduled to rise to some $250 million in the next
few years.
But remember: in Putin’s parallel universe, there is no troll army. It is a fantasy of Western paranoia. Somehow, however, these “nonexistent” trolls manage to overwhelm comments sections online to render meaningful dialogue
impossible. The editor of the Guardian reported forty thousand comments a
day by an “orchestrated pro-Kremlin campaign” of trolling on Ukraine stories.
Harassed by the flood, some publications have decided to close their comments sections. As the Moscow Times informed its readers:
Due to the increasing number of users engaging in personal
attacks, spam, trolling, and abusive comments, we are no longer
able to host our forum as a site for constructive and intelligent
debate. It is with regret, therefore, that we have found ourselves
forced to suspend the commenting function on our articles.
A TROLL NAMED JEFF
My articles on Forbes attract more than their share of trolls. They assume
Anglo-Saxon (Jeff, RussM, Dave, John), exotic (Sadr Ewr, Er Ren), or computer-generated (Hweits, aij) monikers. When challenged, those with Anglo-Saxon names assert they are Americans, even former Marines, who disagree with
their country’s Russian policies. Others claim to be Russians or Ukrainians
disgusted with the bloodthirsty Ukrainian extremists. Although they appear
to spend most of their time writing comments, the trolls claim to do so out of
conviction, not for pay.
My trolls differ by language skills and level of sophistication. Before I
started to attract larger audiences, my trolls wrote bad and sometimes incomprehensible English. My favorite is from “Andrey” who wrote two consecutive
comments in February 2014, which I quote:
Dear PAUL, request your opinion on the Ukraine and Russia keep.
And please don’t interfere in our political and economic life. With
Respect, Andrey.
And then:

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Dear PAUL, can we badly know English language, but only one
thing I want to say, YOU understand—Fack You. [Russians have
trouble pronouncing “u.”]
The “Andreys” have been replaced by ace trolls, such as “Jeff” and
“RussM,” with an occasional guest rant by “aij” against “filthy Jewish bankers.” My most prolific troll, “Jeff,” usually posts multiple comments—at times
almost fifty per column. My trolls do not limit themselves to the written
word. One appeared in person to pester me at a panel discussion.
Elsewhere in the trolls’ parallel universe, there is doubt as to whether I
even exist. One troll volunteered that my bio is pure fiction. There is no Paul
Gregory of the Hoover Institution. Putin assumes his enemies do what he
does. Why should someone claiming to be me not be someone else?
Most comments are generic boilerplate that trolls cut and paste into multiple comment sections. The most common comment is the ad hominem smear.
According to my trolls, I am a “stupid, pig-faced, fascist, Neocon, Russian and
Jew hating hohol” (derogatory slang for Ukrainian), who works as a Kiev-based
agent of the Ukrainian fascists.
Aside from the ad hominem
The trolls must convince their
attack, trolls rely heavily on
moral equivalence. Did the United audience that the headlines
States not attack Iraq and did its
should read “Ukraine attacks
police not gun down black teenRussia.” Quite a job!
agers in Missouri? Yes, Russia
may be aiding the rebels, but are not American troops, CIA, and Blackwater
operatives swarming all over Ukraine? Yes, the shooting down of Malaysia
Airlines Flight 17 was a tragedy, but did not the United States down an Iranian passenger jet a while back?
Trolls never concede even when their back is to the wall. When I published
video clips showing the same Russian actor playing the triple role of heroic
surgeon, neofascist financier, and innocent bystander on Russian television,
one troll “saw no contradictions,” while another (pretending to be from the
BBC) claimed that his team staged fake photos of crying people and dead
bodies during the Georgian conflict.
Trolls dismissed my disclosure that a Facebook portrait of a “physician” anguished by “neo-Nazi” atrocities was lifted from a North Caucasus dental-clinic brochure. When Russia’s Channel One showed crude
faked photos of a Ukrainian jet shooting down the Malaysian airliner, the
trolls countered that Russian television is not in the business of certifying

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SHADOW LANDS: Russian leader Vladimir Putin appears on a computer
monitor as he speaks at a conference in Moscow. Putin commands an unacknowledged online army that floods news and commentary sites with comments, sometimes bizarre and abusive, in defense of Russia’s incursion into
Ukraine. [ITAR-TASS / Grigory Sysoyev]

video—after, of course, Russian viewers had been assured that a Ukrainian
jet was the cause of the crash.
Trolls do not hesitate to deny the obvious. My reports that Russian weapons are crossing freely into east Ukraine drew the response
(unedited):
wow is this guy full of it, everything he says at the beginning is nothing BUT LIES! russia did not give the east
ANYTHING.
My trolls also lie about verifiable facts. One “Stanley Ford,” identifying himself as a graduate student in economics at Stanford, expressed his
dismay about my “shallow” Stanford seminar. I checked. There is no such
graduate student in the Stanford economics department, and I have no idea
what “seminar” Stanley was referring to.

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INTERLOCKING LIES
The seeming chaos, chutzpah, and outrageous lies of “trollism” have a logical structure. The trolls follow common scripts and talking points from
Kremlin “information technologists.” As the Guardian explains, “trolling on
Ukraine-related issues (is) organized, as the trolls ‘are given talking points’
and certain phrases were used again and again.” In the same vein, Buzzfeed
concludes that “the campaign (is) directly orchestrated” by a Putin insider.
The trolls therefore open an unintended window on the hopes and fears of
Putin and his inner circle. If scholars applied social science to the millions
of troll comments, they could gain invaluable insights into the mind of Putin.
Let’s hope that someone is conducting such research.
The Kremlin’s Ukraine narrative consists of a series of interrelated stories.
If one is not accepted, the whole narrative falls apart.
»» “Ukraine is an illegitimate and criminal state unworthy of the West’s
assistance and trust.”
The Putin Ukraine narrative: neo-Nazi extremists unseated a democratically
elected president in the Maidan “coup d’état” of February 2014. Russia, aware
that the new Ukrainian “junta” was planning genocide in the east, had no
choice but to protect ethnic Russian “separatists,” spontaneously mounting a
counter-Maidan revolt. Crimea, with its large Russian population, was most at
risk, so Russian forces had to enter, and accept the popular will of the Crimean
people to be annexed. Nor could Russia prevent patriotic volunteers and
military-intelligence officers crossing the Russia-Ukraine border (with their
heavy military equipment) to aid their “Russian World” brethren in their “civil
war” against Ukrainian extremists. Throughout, Russia has been an innocent
bystander rooting for peace, with little control over separatist allies.
The successful Ukrainian presidential election last May and parliamentary
election of October threatened the troll narrative of an out-of-control and
genocidal neo-Nazi state. Putin (under threat of sanctions) was forced to
admit that he “respected” (not “recognized”) the election results. No bother.
The trolls turned their attention to the “neo-Nazi militias fighting against the
separatists and to the CIA’s purported control of its Kiev puppets. The trolls
preached to Europe that Ukraine is not worth the trouble with its corrupt
officials and collapsing economy. The deceitful Ukrainians, they warned, will
siphon gas meant for Europe, if Europe does not read them the riot act.
The narrative of an illegitimate, criminal, and problematic Ukraine is
a cornerstone of Putin’s other world in which the separatists constitute
a legitimate force battling an illegitimate regime. Russia cannot prevent

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“volunteers” from joining the good fight. Although the “new” Ukraine wants
to join Europe, Europe is better off without it. The only path to peace is negotiation between the legitimate representatives of southeastern Ukraine (the
separatists) and the semi-legitimate Kiev government. No need to bother
Russia, which is not involved.
»» “The United States will trigger World War III by supplying weapons
to Ukraine.”
Whereas the illegitimate-Ukraine narrative is multilayered, the troll message on US-supplied weapons is blunt: US arms to Ukraine will set off World
War III. Is America ready to die for Ukraine?
My essay “Five Compelling Reasons for Military Assistance to Ukraine” elicited 167 comments, including a record 46 from “Jeff.” Aside from Jeff’s critique
that “the article is full of dog poo,”
the trolls focused on the threat of
Pro-Kremlin trolls overwhelm
a US-triggered conflict. In such
comments sections and render
a conflict, they said, the resolute
Putin would not hesitate to use
meaningful dialogue impossible.
nuclear weapons (the weak West
would not), and the West would lose. Note the trolls’ rather dramatic escalation:
twenty-five antitank weapons would lead to the end of the world as we know it.
The trolls ask their American audience why the United States should
risk nuclear destruction for the sake of bloodthirsty Ukrainian Nazis, who
(according to the first narrative) delight in murdering women and children
and who came to power by illegal means. Troll “aij” adds that Americans
should know that the “US and EU (are) puppets of the wicked Jews (who)
started the mess in the Ukraine.”
Besides, everyone knows that the United States is already covertly funneling huge amounts of military assistance to Ukraine, so all this talk is about
nothing, the trolls say. (If this assertion is true, I wonder why we are not
already in World War III.)
The “US weapons equal World War III” campaign is an orchestrated pas de
deux between Putin and the trolls. As Putin’s aircraft penetrate NATO and
North American airspace and he brags about Russian nuclear capabilities and
defense experts debate whether Russia could beat NATO with tactical nuclear
weapons, the troll army provides backup. The trolls claim that the hardened
Russian army, under Czar Vladimir, can beat the softies of NATO.
The troll rhetoric is boiling over for good reason. With a Republican majority in the Senate, bills to supply arms to Ukraine stand a good chance of

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passage with strong bipartisan majorities. It is no wonder that the trolls are
pulling out all the stops with their babble about nuclear war.
Although both the European Union and the United States do not believe
a military solution is possible in Ukraine, the Kremlin understands that a
modernized Ukrainian army, backed by a mobilized Ukrainian state, can beat
mercenary separatist forces. Putin’s Novorossiya campaign can therefore
only be pursued by inserting more regular troops into southeast Ukraine at
the cost of substantial Russian casualties.
»» “There are no Russian casualties.”
In Putin’s alternate universe, there are no Russian troops in southeast
Ukraine. There may be “volunteers” or a few paratroopers who lost their
way, but there are absolutely no regular troops. None!
Russian casualties in Ukraine are among the tightest of Kremlin secrets.
The refrigerated trucks marked with a red cross carrying slain Russian
soldiers back to Russia do not exist in the troll narrative. They ignore the
fact that wives and parents cannot extract information about fallen soldiers.
Burials take place in the early hours and survivors are threatened to keep
their mouths shut. Civic groups, such as Societies of Soldiers’ Mothers and
Gruz200, face legal action. Local representatives who speak out are beaten
within an inch of their lives.
Putin promised the Russian people that the heavy lifting was being done
by dedicated pro-Russian separatists, fighting for their homes, language, and
culture. It is a civil war of Ukrainian against Ukrainian. Russia, the innocent
bystander, need not risk Russian lives. The troll army must back this narrative and smear any talk of Russian casualties.
Rising troop casualties, especially in one-child Russian families, will inevitably turn Russian public opinion against Putin’s Novorossiya and “Russian
World” ventures. The trolls cannot let this happen. A recent survey by the
Levada Center finds that 68 percent of
Russians polled “do not want their sons
One troll reassured readers
to fight” on the side of pro-Moscow militants. Only 13 percent accept the official
that I don’t really exist.
claim of no Russians fighting in Ukraine.
My Forbes essay “Will Sanctions or Casualties Deter Russia?” struck a
nerve, eliciting 95 troll comments, composed largely by ace Jeff with “RussM”
brought in as reinforcement. The trolls were particularly infuriated by my
citing the estimate of fifteen thousand to twenty thousand Russians killed or
wounded, put forward by a Russian civic organization. The trolls accused me

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of “surpassing the National Inquirer,” “yellow journalism,” writing “rubbish,”
and engaging in “sensationalism.” RussM and Jeff dismiss the figure of four
thousand Russian combat deaths—the approximate toll for the Ukrainian side.
Russian forces are better trained and equipped, they aver, so their casualties
would be less. (And I thought there were no Russian troops in Ukraine?) I also
learned from RussM that, like the trolls, I am paid per comment.
TROLLING IS FOR LOSERS
Putin and his trolls are fighting a losing battle with respect to suppressing
information on the mounting casualties. According to intercepted documents
(which the trolls dismiss) published by the Ukrainian army, 198 regular Russian troops were killed and 116 wounded November 30 in the battle for Donetsk
airport. A similar number were
killed and wounded December 2.
The trolls follow common scripts
The bodies had to be returned to
home bases in Rostov, Kostroma,
and talking points from Kremlin
and other locations, their next
“information technologists.”
of kin notified, and burials
arranged. It will not prove possible to hide these facts as families mourn their
losses. A Ukrainian report describes an angry demonstration in Rostov of
mothers of soldiers, protesting the catastrophic two-day losses at the battle for
Donetsk airport in which Russian special forces were used as cannon fodder.
Last December, the House of Representatives passed a resolution, by
a vote of 411–10, condemning Putin’s policy of aggression in Ukraine and
neighboring countries. Bills to arm Ukraine will reach the president’s desk.
Europe’s most powerful politician, Germany’s Merkel, has lost patience with
Putin. Ukraine has formed a new pro-reform government that includes
experienced foreigners in top cabinet positions. The sanctions and low price
of oil are pushing the Russian economy into recession. As word of mounting
Russian casualties spreads, Putin’s popularity ratings will collapse.
Special to the Hoover Digest.
Available from the Hoover Institution Press is Women
of the Gulag: Portraits of Five Remarkable Lives, by
Paul R. Gregory. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit
www.hooverpress.org.

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I N T E RVI E W

“I Owe the
President My
Best Military
Advice”
General Jim Mattis on what US fighting forces
need most: a clear mission and clear goals.

By Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson, Uncommon Knowledge: A native of Washington state,
James Mattis enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1969, the year
after he graduated from high school and served in ROTC while he attended
Central Washington State University. By the time General Mattis retired
from the Marine Corps as a full general in 2013, he had commanded forces in
combat in Iraq during the Persian Gulf War, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq once
again during the Iraq War. He had also served as the NATO supreme allied
commander for transformation, as the commander of the United States Joint
Forces Command, and as commander of the United States Central Command—also known as CENTCOM—where General Mattis was responsible
General Jim Mattis (USMC, retired) is an Annenberg Distinguished Visiting
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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for the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. General Mattis is now a
fellow at the Hoover Institution. Jim Mattis, welcome.
Jim Mattis: Thank you.
Robinson: I should state that you insist that I call you Jim and not General.
Mattis: Thank you.
Robinson: Is it true that you always kept with you a copy of the Meditations
of Marcus Aurelius?
Mattis: It is, Peter. That one and quite a few other books, actually.
Robinson: So, a Roman
emperor who died
eighteen centuries ago
remained relevant to you
as a commander in the
United States Marine
Corps. In what way?
Mattis: It was good for me to be reminded that I faced nothing new under
the sun. Technology throws a few odd wrinkles in. But the bottom line is, the
fundamental impulses, the fundamental challenges, and the solutions are
pretty timeless in my line of work.
Robinson: Let me quote to you from something you wrote as you were
preparing to deploy to Iraq back in the early 2000s: “For all the intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of war has fundamentally changed, I must respectfully say not really. Alexander the Great
would not be in the least perplexed by the enemy we face right now.” What
would Alexander the Great have seen in radical Islam that he would have
recognized?
Mattis: When he was fighting in the same region several thousand years ago,
he confronted basically what looked like an implacable foe, someone with a
very different worldview. He was unconcerned in some ways about his own
tactics. He had confidence that he knew how his forces could act and their
behavior on the battlefield; what he was concerned with was how to understand this enemy. So he sought to understand it. And as he understood it, he
understood how he would go after it.
Robinson: So, before committing to combat, understand the enemy.
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Mattis: Absolutely.
Robinson: Jim, you testified in January before the Senate Armed Services
Committee, under the new chairman, fellow military man John McCain. And
instead of sitting there and telling the senators what you thought
“The fundamental impulses,
they ought to do, you sat there and
the fundamental challenges,
told them the questions that you
and the solutions are pretty
thought they ought to ask. I’d like
to take a few of the questions you
timeless in my line of work.”
proposed to John McCain and his
colleagues and ask them of Jim Mattis. Here’s the first: “When the decision
is made to employ our forces in combat, the committee should ask, are the
political objectives clearly defined and achievable?” Explain that.
Mattis: Since World War II, we’ve entered probably five major conflicts;
four of those did not turn out well. We went into them enthusiastically—into
Korea and into Vietnam. Desert Storm was an outlier. And then, we did
Afghanistan and Iraq.
Robinson: Desert Storm is the one that went well.
Mattis: Yes, Desert Storm went well because it had a very clearly defined
political end state. The president emeritus of Dartmouth College, Jim
Wright, wrote an article in the Atlantic in July 2013. He asked, what did we
learn from the Korean War? Basically what I drew from that was if you have
murky or changing political end states, then you don’t know how to end that
war. And if you don’t know how to end the war, the war will go on and on,
the enemy will mutate, and the American people will understandably lose an
appreciation for what it is they’re fighting for. So if you don’t get the political
end state right up front, you’re going to be engaged in a war you don’t know
how to end on favorable terms.
Robinson: Jim, does that mean President George H. W. Bush in the Gulf War
was correct? He came in for criticism for years afterwards, to some extent
even today, for not continuing all the way to Baghdad and toppling Saddam
Hussein. He had said that the aim of the campaign was to drive Iraq out of
Kuwait, and once he had done that, he stopped. Was that the right thing to
do?
Mattis: Absolutely, it was. He clarified the political objective, he drew
together a worldwide coalition to support it, we went in, and we did it. And

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then he did not allow mission creep; he did not do what would have broken
the political coalition the military was simply the most forward part of. So,
yes, he was absolutely on target and that’s why we were able to end that war
in a very few number of days once the fighting started.
Robinson: So, Iraq War. We invaded in 2003 and for three weeks everything
goes beautifully. We advanced north, opposition melting away, and at the end
of three weeks Saddam Hussein and his regime were gone. And then, roughly
four years later President George W. Bush instituted the surge—we changed
tactics, we added troops. But, there’s a period between those first four weeks
and the surge when things just go sideways. How does the military man
understand, how do you think about what went wrong?
Mattis: First, the attack did go very well for the first three weeks on conventional terms, although I assure you it wasn’t that swimmingly smooth for the
lads on the front line. It’s just something to remember. But, what happened
at that point is it’s revealed that we don’t have a clearly stated political end
state. And now we start wandering. We’re in search of a political end state,
so strategies, which are where you connect those means to achieving the
political end state, now have got to start accommodating uncertainty. Uncertainty is sufficient on a battlefield to cause any strategy headaches, but it’s
absolutely impossible if you haven’t figured out on your own part what you
intend to do. So, if you haven’t got that part figured out, you have no constant
objective that you’re aiming towards. And now you start wandering on the
battlefield, you start wandering intellectually.
Robinson: In the American system, good military men take it as a kind of a
sacred matter that they defer ultimately to the civilian authority. But you’ve
just said in four engagements out of five major engagements since the Second World War—these are my words, you would never put it this way—but
one of the things you’re saying is the civilians screwed up, they did not give
the professionals clearly defined objectives. When the professionals find the
civilians failing to provide clear objectives, what is the professional’s duty?
Mattis: Well, the duty for generals, for admirals, is to press to try and get
clearly stated political objectives. In our form of government, the military
is subordinate to the civilian leadership. The commander in chief is elected
by the American people. I was never elected by the American people. I was
promoted with the consent of the US Senate; that’s not the same as being
elected. So, I believe the role of senior military officers is to be heard. They
should insist on being heard. They must never insist on being obeyed in our

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CORDIAL: General Jim Mattis laughs with former defense secretary Chuck
Hagel at the 2013 ceremony where Mattis turned over command of US Central Command (CENTCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. Speaking of
commanders’ relationships with civilian leaders, Mattis said, “You just have
to keep working at it, and try to walk a mile in their shoes as you try to close the
gap between the appreciation the military has for the situation and the way
it’s seen by the political leadership.” [Department of Defense / Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo]

form of government. But, as they insist on being heard, they have to try to do
this, carry out this national dialogue without creating adversarial relationships with the political leadership. Try to avoid that. And what you want to
do . . .
Robinson: That is hard.
Mattis: Well, it is hard. But, what I learned over many years is something
that Secretary Bob Gates made very clear in some of his writing, that is, at
the highest levels it all depends on personal relationships. And so, you’ve

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got to try to maintain your best military advice without creating any kind of
animosity at that level. It is hard, you just have to keep working at it, and try
to walk a mile in their shoes as you try to close the gap between the appreciation the military has for the situation and the way it’s seen by the political
leadership. And this is not unique
to our times. We had the same
“If you have murky or changchallenges between FDR and
ing political end states, then
General Marshall in World War
you don’t know how to end
II. And certainly, Abe Lincoln had
that war. And if you don’t know
challenges with his generals. So
how to end the war, the enemy
this is just part of maintaining a
government of the people by the
will mutate, and the American
people and for the people that
people will understandably
needs military defenders, but at
lose an appreciation for what it
the same time it does not exist for
is they’re fighting for.”
a military purpose.
Robinson: Two quotations on Afghanistan. Here’s one. President Obama on
December 28 last year: “For more than thirteen years, our nation has been
at war with Afghanistan. Now our combat mission is ending and the longest
war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.” Quotation
two. This is Jim Mattis testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee
in January: “Gains achieved at great cost against our enemy in Afghanistan
are reversible. We may not want this fight, but the barbarity of an enemy that
kills women and children and has refused to break with Al-Qaeda needs to be
fought.” In your view, we’re not done in Afghanistan. Is that right?
Mattis: Peter, in my line of work, the enemy gets a vote. It’s the way we put
it. You may want a war over, you may declare it over, the enemy may not
agree and you have to deal with that reality. We have irreconcilable differences with the Taliban. Secretary Clinton, when she was secretary of state,
gave three conditions for the Taliban to be brought back inside the body
politic of Afghanistan. One, break with Al-Qaeda; two, quit killing people,
stop using violence; and three, obey the Afghan constitution. They have
refused that very low bar that would have allowed them to step over and
come over to bring in their political ideas to see if the Afghan people would
buy into them. The reason they don’t do it, the reason they use bombs
instead of going to the ballot box, is they know the Afghan people will not
buy into it. So, they will continue to support Al-Qaeda, they will continue
to do this kind of terrorism that they conduct over there every day. And

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as they do that, for us to declare arbitrarily that the war is over may not
match the reality on the ground.
Robinson: All right. When you’re in uniform, you insist on being heard, not
you personally, but a leader, military professionals, insist on being heard but
never insist on being obeyed. Now that you’re out of uniform, you spoke very
eloquently and very carefully but you didn’t say a word against President
Obama.
You testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee and again you were
very careful not to attack the president directly. How do you see your duty?
You know a lot, you love your country, you understand the military, and you
draw different conclusions from the administration, but you’re being careful
about what you say.
Mattis: Well, I’m not too careful. I’ve gotten into some trouble over the years.
But I’m basically saying the same thing that I said in private meetings and
even in public meetings back when I was on active duty. The bottom line I
think is that I owe my best military advice. And at times it’s uncomfortable
for a democracy that believes in
freedom and it believes in peace
“I believe the role of senior
and prosperity—the idea that this
level of evil can exist is incompatmilitary officers is to be heard.
ible with our view of what we would They should insist on being
like to see as we turn over this
heard. They must never insist
world to our children. But I’m also
on being obeyed in our form of
convinced, having dealt with this
government.”
enemy since 1979, which is the first
time I sailed into those waters on
US Navy ships, that we’re up against an enemy that means what they say and
we should not patronize them. When they say girls don’t go to school, you’re
not going to talk them out of it by simply having a picnic in the backyard
and resolving your differences. Their views of the role of women, their views
of modernity, their views of tolerance for people who think differently, are
fundamentally different from ours.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. made very clear that between two irreconcilable
world views, it’s probably going to turn into a fight. And that’s what we’re in
right now, whether we want it to be over or not.
In regards to the president and loyalty, I was forty-odd years an officer,
and loyalty, I learned, only counts when there’s a hundred reasons not to
be. I would just tell you that the president’s had a tough enough year and

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he doesn’t need generals coming out now and characterizing him in negative terms. We owe the country, we owe the president, our best advice. But,
I don’t choose to take part in going beyond that and characterizing people’s
motives or their performances as unsatisfactory. We’re all trying to make
sense of this world.
Robinson: Got it. Another of your questions to the Senate, which I’m now
going to put to you: “As President Eisenhower noted, the foundation of our
military strength is economic strength. No nation in history has maintained
its military power if it failed to keep its fiscal house in order.” How do you halt
the damage caused by sequestration? This is when Republicans and Democrats in Congress could not agree on what needed to be cut, so they set up a
few automatic cuts. The idea was that the cuts were so draconian they would
force both sides to get together. They never did get together, and the cuts
took place. President Obama is now projecting that he’s going to propose
defense spending at about 6 percent over sequester. Is that enough?
Mattis: Well, I don’t know if it’s enough, but I know one thing for certain. If
you want to cut the defense budget, you should do it wisely, and reducing
your strategic end, your political aims, make certain that you
“We’re up against an enemy
don’t have a policy that requires
a military that’s larger than what
that means what they say and
you’re willing to fund. The way
we should not patronize them.
we’re doing it right now is we’re
When they say girls don’t go to
doing it with arithmetic. Let’s put
school, you’re not going to talk
it in terms of family budget. If a
them out of it by simply having
cut comes to your income and
a picnic in the backyard and
you have to take a 10 percent cut
resolving your differences.”
in your family’s budget, you don’t
cut vacations 10 percent, food 10
percent, life insurance 10 percent, rent 10 percent. You may cut out all your
vacation or your restaurant meals and you wisely take that into account.
What we’re doing right now is these salami cuts of everything. And the
result is you have a mindless application of our money, in many cases going
to priorities that no one agrees should be funded. This is just silly. The engine
for our national security has always been our economy. And whether you look
back at the Roman empire or you look at the Spanish empire or the British
empire, the Soviet Union, no country has maintained its military strength
if it did not maintain its fiscal house in good order. And right now we are

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spending so irresponsibly, we’re going to turn over to younger generations
an injurious taxation and most of the money that we will be spending—which
is, by the way, more within a couple years to service our debt than we spend
on the Department of Defense—will be going to Riyadh, Moscow, Beijing, and
Tokyo. Not all those countries are friends.
Robinson: We’re borrowing
money from them.

“For us to declare arbitrarily that
the war is over may not match the
reality on the ground.”

Mattis: We’re borrowing, they
are holding our paper. And the
young people who are growing
up today, well, you and I grew up before. If we had a good idea, we could always
find someone to fund us. We’re sitting here in Silicon Valley as we speak. In the
future, that money may not be available because of the irresponsibility of the
current government. We’ve got to look at ourselves, that we’re allowing this
irresponsible spending that’s going to burn the younger generation.

Robinson: How can an ordinary American, who can’t begin to go through all
the detail, know the Pentagon budget is right? Dwight Eisenhower said our
military strength rests on our economic strength. But in his farewell address,
he also warned about the military-industrial complex, those contractors who
are going to lobby congressmen for contracts. How do you know it’s being
done right?
Mattis: Well, it’s hard. And we can always find in a budget these large things
that are waste or in all likelihood we don’t need. The challenge is how to set
up processes to audit it, to govern it, to allocate those resources in a responsible manner. And what I found over many years in many different organizations is if you take good people and good ideas and you match them with bad
processes, the bad processes will win nine out of ten times. We’ve got to work
this in a manner that creates processes that return managerial integrity to
the system. We know what to do with corruption and we put people in jail for
that sort of thing.
Robinson: Another of your questions for the Senate Armed Services Committee that I’m turning on you: is the US military being developed to fight across
the full spectrum of combat? Let me just take you around the world. Do you
believe we now have the proper spectrum of forces to deal with a rising China?
Mattis: In light of China’s bullying in the South China Sea, I don’t think we’re
building enough ships. I think we are going to be forced to pull home more of

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our forces from the Cold War days, and that’s appropriate. But we’re going to
be forced into a more naval strategy. We may have to give the Navy a bigger slice of the budget to carry out the kind of operations that reassure our
friends and temper our adversaries’ designs. It’s all well and good that we’re
trying to get along with China,
and I completely endorse that. I
“If they want to fight, they
don’t think China sees any value
should pay a heck of a price for
in going to war with the United
what they’ve done to innocent
States. But at the same time,
people out there.”
there are a lot of nations out in
that region that would like to see
more US Navy port calls in their harbors, from Vietnam to the Philippines,
from Malaysia to Taiwan and Japan. If you don’t have enough ships, then
you’re going to have a hard time doing that. Sometimes the best ambassador
you can have is a man-of-war. So we’re going to have to look at this to make
certain we’re making the military fit for its time.
Robinson: Do we have the spectrum in place to deal with Iran?
Mattis: Yes. Obviously, it would take more forces if we had to go with the
military option for Iran, which the president is not taking off the table. But,
yes, we can handle Iran.
Robinson: You’re comfortable with that one.
Mattis: I have no doubt.
Robinson: All right. Thank you, because I will sleep better tonight at least
with regard to Iran.
Mattis: Well, remember now, Peter, war is fundamentally an unpredictable
phenomenon. So I’m not saying that it would be carefree, I’m not saying we
can be careless. It would be bloody awful; it would be a catastrophe if we
have to have another war in the Middle East like that. But could we handle it
from a military point of view? Absolutely.
Robinson: ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Do we have the
proper spectrum of forces in place to deal with ISIL?
Mattis: We have the forces available; they’re not in place, but that reflects
the political decision. The question is, do we have the political will to deal
with ISIL in an intelligent and effective manner? They’re a little bit like Lebanese Hezbollah in terms of trying to create social services. They’re a lot like

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Al-Qaeda philosophically, but operationally, they’re like Al-Qaeda on steroids.
And when you put that together, they’re a uniquely capable organization.
But the fact is they couldn’t last two minutes in a fight with our troops. So it
comes down to a political situation in Baghdad that draws Sunnis and Kurds
and Shia together. I think the new prime minister has done some things in
the right direction on that.
But it also comes down to making certain that we know not only what we
fight for in this world, but what we will not tolerate. And the assassinations,
the mass killings, the mass rapes that are going on there—this is a group that
deserves no support from anyone and we should try to shut down its recruiting, shut down its finances, and then work to fight battles of annihilation—
not attrition—but annihilation
against them. So the first
time they meet the forces that
“Sometimes the best ambassador
we put against them, there
you can have is a man-of-war.”
should basically be no survivors. They should learn that we can be even tougher than them. Except for
the ones who surrender—obviously, we don’t kill prisoners. But, if they want
to fight, they should pay a heck of a price for what they’ve done to innocent
people out there.
Robinson: A couple of final questions. The movie American Sniper reopened
a debate about the cost of war, especially of course on those who volunteer
and do the actual fighting. You spoke at a veterans group not too long ago and
said, “I would just say there is one misperception of our veterans, and that
is they are somehow damaged goods. I don’t buy it. There is also something
called post-traumatic growth.” Explain what you mean.
Mattis: Going to war is one thing. You can deploy to a dangerous wartime
situation without being in combat. But for those who close in on the enemy,
who kill the enemy, it is a very atavistic, primitive environment and there is
post-traumatic stress for anyone who’s been through it. There is stress, no
doubt about it.
It’s not an insignificant moment, Peter, the first time you draw down and
you shoot your fellow man. That’s all there is to it. Or you see your buddy
hit next to you. So the bottom line, there’s going to be stress. But it does
not have to be post-traumatic disorder, you don’t have to come at it from
a position of illness. You can come at it from a position of wellness, from a
position of growth as a human being. I’ve seen people come out of this sort
of thing better: better men, better husbands, better fathers, more in touch

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with their God or whatever their source of spiritual strength is, kinder, more
compassionate.
There was a Civil War general named Chamberlin who rose to be the president of Bowdoin College in Maine, and he said combat makes good men better and bad men worse. So there is the reality that not everyone reacts the
same way. But I don’t buy that somehow if you came home from Iwo Jima, or
Gettysburg, or Iraq, or Afghanistan that somehow you’re limited in what you
can do. The greatest generation
came home from World War II,
the worst war in world history.
“We have an obligation to turn
And they created good communithis free country over to young
ties, they rose to be college presimen and women with the same
dents, started industries that crefreedoms that we got when we
ated wealth for the working men.
grew up in it.”
I just don’t buy that somehow we
are handicapped because we’ve
been in those circumstances. I recognize the grim realities. I don’t recognize
the limited potential of the human being when they come out of that.
Robinson: You joined the Marine Corps as a kid. You were eighteen years
old. What would you say to an eighteen-year-old today? When you joined up
the United States was self-confident enough to be engaged in and ultimately
win a forty-five-year conflict, the Cold War. There are questions about how
self-confident the country is today. We face this complicated new enemy. At
the same time, the private economy has produced opportunities for eighteenand nineteen-year-old kids that they didn’t face when you were a kid in the
farm country up in Washington state. What would you say to a kid about why
a career in the armed forces of the United States would still be a worthwhile
way to spend twenty or more years of your life?
Mattis: Well, I think what you want to explain is that there comes a point
in your life when you want to know that you served a purpose in this world.
There’s a gravestone in Cypress Hills Cemetery in New York where the guy
we all loved when we were kids—we all wanted to be Jackie Robinson . . .
Robinson: Sure.
Mattis: . . . and if you go to that grave today, it says a life is not important
except in the impact it has on other lives. He wrote his own epitaph, by
the way. I think that when you look at this experiment we call America, we
should not look at the people who founded it as if they had an easy time of

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it and they are now just faces on dollar bills. We should not look at this as
something that is just automatically our inheritance. We’re going to have to
work for it. And at times, we’re going to have to fight for it. Because we might
have been born here, most of us, by complete accident, good fortune. We live
here by choice. But we have an obligation to turn this free country over to
young men and women with the same freedoms that we got when we grew
up in it. And if you want to be part of something that keeps you from sitting
in a psychiatrist’s chair when you’re forty-five and wondering what to do with
your life, you can’t go wrong in joining the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the
Coast Guard, the Marine Corps, and spending four years. And if you like it,
you stick around for longer.
Robinson: General James Mattis, United States Marine Corps, thank you.

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I N M EMORI AM : MAR T IN ANDE R SON

Policy Powerhouse
Both a scholar and a skillful practitioner of the art
of practical politics, the late Hoover fellow Martin
Anderson took transformative ideas and made
them real.

M

artin Anderson, the Keith and Jan Hurlbut Fellow at the
Hoover Institution, passed away on January 3. An engineer
by training and an esteemed academic, Anderson performed
early work on urban renewal, welfare reform, and the military

draft. His work on the draft included promoting an all-volunteer force as director of research for Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign; he is often credited as a significant factor in ending conscription in the United States. After
receiving his PhD in industrial management from the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology in 1962, he became a professor of finance at the Graduate School
of Business at Columbia University, one of the youngest professors to receive
tenure there. After joining the Hoover Institution in 1971, Anderson continued
to intersperse his academic career with public service and political campaign
advising, serving presidents and candidates Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Pete Wilson, and Robert Dole.
Anderson’s later work, coauthored with his wife, Annelise Anderson, was
largely dedicated to the life and legacy of President Reagan. Together they
became nationally renowned Reagan scholars, with academics and policy
makers visiting the Hoover Institution to draw on their knowledge.
“The Hoover Institution lost a colleague and dear friend in Martin Anderson on January 3,” Hoover Institution Director John Raisian wrote in his
statement announcing Anderson’s death. “Throughout the span of his four
decades at the Hoover Institution, he left an indelible mark.”

Martin Anderson was the Keith and Jan Hurlbut Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
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LASTING IMPRINT: Martin Anderson, the Keith and Jan Hurlbut Fellow at
the Hoover Institution, made his mark in policy development, academia, and
history. He devoted his last years to drawing out insights on the life of Ronald
Reagan, his last boss at the White House. [Mike Evans]

Former first lady Nancy Reagan also released a statement, saying, “I am
deeply saddened by the news of Martin Anderson’s death. He was a dear
friend, and an integral part of my husband’s campaigns and White House
senior staff. . . . Loyal men like Martin Anderson come along very rarely in
one’s life, and I will miss him terribly.”
Here are some of the tributes to Martin Anderson from friends, colleagues,
and others who knew him.
MICHAEL J. BOSKIN (SENIOR FELLOW, HOOVER
INSTITUTION)
Marty’s remarkable influence and accomplishments are legion. He leaves a
lasting imprint on national economic policy, on the Hoover Institution, and on
his many friends and colleagues.
Marty started by bulldozing the myth that federal urban-renewal programs work and then moved on to be a major influence on President Nixon’s
decision to end military conscription, an idea long championed by his
Marty turned his attention
Hoover colleague, the late Milton
to helping candidate, then
Friedman. The nation saw the results
president, Reagan develop
of the move to an all-volunteer Army
his policies. That is where his
in the remarkable success of Operation Desert Storm, which Colin Powell very bright star shined the
and Dick Cheney told me in the White brightest.
House would have been much more
difficult with a conscripted military.
That already was a career’s worth of accomplishment, but Marty turned
his attention to helping candidate, then president, Reagan develop his policies. That is where his very bright star shined the brightest. And it was in
these capacities that I started to get to know Marty well.
I, like many Hoover colleagues, became a volunteer—actually recruited by
Marty and George Shultz—in what Marty called “The Reagan Campaign’s
Policy Task Forces,” but what I think is more appropriately called “Marty’s
Army.” No one had ever seen anything like it. Marty gathered together an
astounding assemblage of over four hundred policy advisers organized into
two dozen task forces that developed, evaluated, and suggested policy proposals in virtually every important area: economic, domestic, and national
security. It was an all-volunteer, all-star assembly, unmatched since. And for
those of you who don’t know academics and think-tankers very well, “herding cats” does not do it justice. It was sort of an intellectual D-Day, requiring

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outstanding managerial skills on the one hand and a remarkably broad, curious intellect on the other, qualities rarely combined in one person.
I’ll be forever grateful to Marty for including me on the campaign’s Tax
Policy Task Force. We proposed lowering tax rates à la Kemp-Roth, indexing
the brackets, accelerating appreciation, and introducing IRAs and allowing
401(k)s. Remarkably, it became law with only minor alterations. The progrowth tax reforms, combined with disinflation, helped launch a quarter-century of growth. From a parochial perspective, it was beyond wonderful for a
young scholar to see policies his research supported actually enacted.
Marty and Annelise were a truly remarkable team for a half-century,
culminating in a historically important series of books on President Reagan,
authored after their return to Hoover following public service. They forever
corrected the terrible mal-description—deliberately fostered by the media
and his political opponents, in my opinion—of Ronald Reagan as simply an
actor reading his lines, unable to think for himself.
I’ll always remember that special twinkle in his eye and smile on his face when
Marty felt he was onto something big, something really important. For example:
a few years ago, he and Annelise, after a laborious process, finally got permission
to examine confidential documents under seal, such as National Security Council
meeting notes. Of course he had to be careful what he told me, but his enthusiasm was contagious. That delighted look will always be my home page for Marty.
JOHN B. TAYLOR (SENIOR FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION)
Perhaps the most important interface between economics and economic policy is the work of economists in political campaigns. That is where the policy
decisions get made. No one was better at this than Martin Anderson. He cut
his teeth going to work for the 1968 Nixon campaign. People in the campaign
had read and heard about Martin and asked him to help out, and he was soon
running the policy shop. He and Annelise had been planning a sabbatical
year in Europe. He later said: “We were going to have a wonderful time, and
instead we signed up for the campaign and I was the issues director.”
One of his campaign ideas was to put one economist on the plane with the
candidate and to make sure that economist is in constant touch with headquarters. That is what he did with Nixon when he developed an amazing network
of people. He was usually on the campaign plane and would get on the phone
with Alan Greenspan back in headquarters; or he would call Arthur Burns
and Milton Friedman. He recommended that approach to me. And in the 2008
campaign I flew around the country with John McCain, and I kept in touch
with others back in Arlington. It did not work as well in 2008 as in 1968.

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He knew a lot about crafting an economic plan in a campaign. Keep it
simple. If you want to cut taxes, just do it across the board—such as 15 percent across the board. And make sure that upper-income people got no more
in percentage terms than
those with lower incomes.
Marty always stood up for what he
He always wanted to edubelieved and that was most often
cate people about basics.
the principle of economic freedom.
He insisted on asking
reporters how much GDP
was. If he were here today, he would ask you. Think about it for a second.
(The answer is $18 trillion.)
Marty always stood up for what he believed and that was most often the
principle of economic freedom. He also defended the people who worked so
hard to bring those principles into reality.
That, in my view, is the legacy of Martin Anderson.
LOU CANNON (REAL CLEAR POLITICS)
During the 1980 presidential campaign, which I covered for the Washington Post,
Martin Anderson played a constructive role. Ronald Reagan had loads of economic advice in this campaign, but it went off in different directions. Alan Greenspan
and Anderson helped Reagan formulate a coherent policy from conflicting advice
given by traditional and supply-side economists. Reagan shortened it into a
punchy narration: “Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is
when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.”
I had many dealings with
Anderson during the camIn my view the White House never
paign, when he was in the
did find an adequate replacement for White House, and when I was
Anderson as domestic policy chief.
writing my biographies of
Reagan, and much respected
him for his insights and honesty. When he had complaints about something I had
written, he typically registered them with courtly good humor. More than once,
he helped me understand an economic issue with which I was struggling.
Overall, Anderson was more adept at policy advice than political infighting.
After internal disputes in 1982, he left the Reagan administration, where he
had been a success as policy development director, and returned to Hoover,
where in 1998 he was named the Keith and Jan Hurlbut Fellow. In my view
the White House never did find an adequate replacement for Anderson as
domestic policy chief.

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A GIFT: Martin Anderson, center, presents President Reagan and his Cabinet with
a historic poster from the Hoover Institution. After joining Hoover in 1971, Anderson interspersed his academic career with public service and political campaign
advising, serving presidents and candidates Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald
Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Pete Wilson, and Robert Dole. [Hoover Institution]

DOUG BANDOW (SENIOR FELLOW, CATO INSTITUTE)
When I was growing up, the draft was an ugly rite of passage for young men.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, a low lottery number could mean death in
Vietnam. Nothing seemed likely to change in the midst of the Cold War.
But when I turned eighteen in 1975, no “Uncle Sam wants you” notice
arrived in the mail. The United States was defending itself as a democratic
republic should defend itself: through the voluntary efforts of a free people.
America had created the all-volunteer force (AVF)—which, despite a rocky
start, quickly became the finest military on the planet.
I hadn’t followed the political battle leading to the AVF, since I had been
attending a small high school on a US base in Great Britain. When I returned
to America I didn’t know whom to thank for the freedom to choose my
future, though I was indeed thankful. But I met the man responsible three
years later while attending Stanford Law School.
Martin Anderson had many interests, but one overriding philosophy: he
believed in individual liberty.

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He was a draftee who declined to support conscription as a form of national
hazing—that if he had to do it, everyone should. Instead, he turned his intellect
and energy to ending the draft as Uncle Sam was drafting tens of thousands of
young men every year to serve in the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War.
Most striking about his efforts is how he seamlessly joined policy research
and political maneuvers. He wrote articles, produced books, ran conferences,
and cooperated with others on the issue. But unlike
His commitment was to liberty,
most policy intellectuals,
including yours truly, he
not personality, and certainly not
created a political stratto power.
egy to bring his abstract
intellectual preferences into legal reality. He sold Nixon on the virtues of a
volunteer military, suggested what became known as the Gates Commission
to study the issue, and ensured the presence of the right members, such as
Milton Friedman.
Anderson left the Nixon administration before its ugly implosion, but
returned to government with Ronald Reagan to address the AVF’s deficiencies, an effort in which I was involved as his assistant. The results were
dramatic: a military of much better quality than with conscription.
Although Anderson operated at the pinnacle of the American political system, he was an ideas man uncomfortable with the infighting at that level. After
leaving the administration he concentrated on offering advice as an outsider.
His commitment was to liberty, not personality, and certainly not to power.
And what is personally important to me: Anderson gave an extraordinary
opportunity to an unknown student activist who never had thought about
the possibility of going to Washington to try to put his passionate beliefs into
political practice.
EDWIN J. FEULNER (FOUNDER, HERITAGE
FOUNDATION)
When I heard that my friend Martin Anderson had died, I gave thanks for his
extraordinarily inquisitive mind and the critical role that an institution can
play in advancing the cause of a free society. Martin was an economist and
political scientist. The Hoover Institution, where he was a senior fellow for
more than forty years, gave him the freedom to explore big policy ideas, and
later to discover the hidden depths of a remarkable president—Ronald Reagan.
The phrase “outside the box” could have been invented to describe Martin.
A quick review of his books Conscription, Welfare, Impostors in the Temple, and

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his history of the Reagan era, Revolution, provides a glimpse at his seminal
thinking on a host of policy issues that continue to challenge us today.
He spoke of welfare dependency and the bureaucracies of universities
long before these were popular subjects. He urged President Nixon to cut
marginal tax rates, rein in federal spending, and decrease federal regulation.
Alas, these policies were not implemented—not until Martin’s next tour in
the White House under Ronald Reagan.
It was Martin Anderson the presidential historian who uncovered the
hidden depths of his last real boss. In the 1990s he expressed his concerns
to friends, including me, of how misunderstood and underrated President
Reagan had been. A tireless researcher, Martin pored over manuscripts of
Reagan’s radio broadcasts and his newspaper columns. He also examined the
drafts of Reagan’s speeches and read thousands of his personal letters.
This led to a new phase in Martin’s career: uncovering the real Ronald
Reagan and reintroducing him to the world. This wasn’t Reagan the docile,
cue-card-reading ex-actor, as political opponents and media pundits had
unjustly labeled him. But Reagan the careful thinker, principled analyst, and
realistic assessor of the prospects for American renewal.
With the bestselling 2001 book,
Reagan, In His Own Hand, Martin,
It was Martin Anderson the
together with his wife, Annelise,
presidential historian who
and Hoover fellow Kiron K. Skinuncovered the hidden depths of
ner, reminded Americans of the
true depth of Reagan’s underhis last real boss.
standing and the substance of
Reagan as the author of his own ideas. This was followed by Reagan: A Life in
Letters (also co-written with Annelise Anderson and Kiron Skinner), an equally
revealing portrait of the man.
As longtime Reagan aide and confidant Ed Meese has said of him, Martin
was a loyal and energetic Reaganaut. For all of this, and for so much more,
we owe him a tremendous debt.
DARRELL TRENT (RETIRED SENIOR RESEARCH
FELLOW, H OOVER INSTITUTION)
In 1962, I was a graduate student at Columbia University School of Business. I
had signed up for a finance course and was seated when a young man walked
down the aisle, up behind the desk, and to the front of the room. No one was
paying much attention because he looked younger than most of the students.
When he asked the class to come to attention, everyone was surprised.

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That was my introduction to Professor Martin Anderson. I was twentyfour and he was twenty-six. I did not know at the time, but it was the beginning of one of the most meaningful and rewarding friendships of my life.
Marty had just joined the Columbia faculty and was in his second semester
teaching at Columbia. At twenty-eight, he would become one of the youngest
tenured professors in the country. He had finished his PhD at MIT, focusing
on the federal Urban Renewal Program.
The program professed to benefit the less-privileged by eliminating
blighted areas within the inner cities and replacing them with better
environments.
In 1964, Marty published his doctoral thesis in a widely acclaimed book
called The Federal Bulldozer. He found that the Urban Renewal Program was
sadly lacking in its professed objectives. His study
At twenty-eight, he became one
showed that the effect of
of the youngest tenured profesurban renewal, clearing distressed areas, was that the
sors in the country.
less fortunate were moved
out and became displaced people. Those who lost their homes were not given
better places to live.
The book had a major impact. More than five decades later, a scholar
working for the Chinese government has requested permission to translate
Marty’s book into Chinese for publication in China, where similar problems
are being faced.
And so Marty’s legacy lives on!
Special to the Hoover Digest.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Ronald
Reagan: Decisions of Greatness, by Martin and
Annelise Anderson. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or
visit www.hooverpress.org.

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T H E GREAT WAR CE N T E N N IAL

Remembering the
Lusitania
The sinking of the famed liner, torpedoed within
sight of land, helped draw the United States into
the war. It remains a source of fascination—and
speculation.

By Bertrand M. Patenaude

O

n the afternoon of May 7, 1915, RMS Lusitania was steaming off
the southern coast of Ireland, expected to arrive in Liverpool
early the following morning. The weather was beautiful, with
unusually good visibility, making it easier to detect the German

submarines reportedly lurking in these waters. One pair of eyes scanning the
horizon from the starboard bow belonged to eighteen-year-old Leslie Morton.
Morton, an extra lookout assigned to the 2:00 to 4:00 watch, had been on
duty for about ten minutes when he caught sight of what he later described
as “a big burst of foam about five hundred yards away,” and then “a thin
streak of foam making for the ship at a rapid speed,” followed by a second,
parallel streak. Immediately grasping what it meant, he picked up a megaphone and yelled to the bridge, “Torpedoes coming on the starboard side!”
At that moment, the crew of the Lusitania had about one minute to avert
disaster. The helmsman would have had to steer the ship hard to starboard
in order to avoid the path of the deadly missile. As it happened, however,
no one had heard young Morton’s cry of alarm. About thirty seconds later,
Bertrand M. Patenaude is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.
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a second alarm call from another lookout alerted the captain and the crew
to the threat, but by then it was too late. The torpedo struck on the starboard side near the middle of the ship. The impact delivered “a great shock,”
Morton later testified. “It shook me off my feet.” A second explosion, which
Morton took to be the result of a second torpedo strike, rocked the ship and
it rapidly began listing heavily to starboard. The Lusitania sank by the bow
in only eighteen minutes. Nearly 1,200 of the total 1,959 men, women, and
children on board perished that afternoon, 128 of them Americans.
When word of the disaster reached London, Edward House, President
Woodrow Wilson’s closest confidant, was attending a dinner sponsored by the
American ambassador to Great Britain, Walter Page. The United States had
remained neutral since the outbreak of the European war the previous August,
and House was in London to assess the prospects of a US mediation of peace
between the belligerents. House had sailed to England on the Lusitania only
weeks before, and perhaps that disconcerting connection, as well as the forceful
opinions expressed by his dinner companions (Ambassador Page was ardently
pro-Allies), influenced the intensity of his reaction to the incredible news.
“America has come to the parting of the ways, when she must determine
whether she stands for civilized or uncivilized warfare,” House cabled President
Wilson. “We can no longer remain neutral spectators. Our action in this crisis
will determine the part we will play when peace is made, and how far we may
influence a settlement for the lasting good of humanity. We are being weighed in
the balance, and our position among nations is being assessed by mankind.”
British military historian B. H. Liddell Hart, looking back on the Lusitania
disaster in 1930, called it “a spectacular brutality which shocked the conscience of the world.” And yet, he went on to observe, US military intervention in the war against Germany would come “later than seemed likely on
the morrow of the tragedy.” Today, a hundred years on, Americans learning
about the fate of the Lusitania and the furious reaction it triggered will likely
be surprised to discover that the United States somehow managed to maintain its neutrality for two more years. Yet in retrospect it seems apparent
that the incident ignited a long, coiling fuse that would lead, in April 1917, to
the entry of the United States into the First World War.
DUELING BLOCKADES
When the Lusitania sailed from New York on May 1 on its final voyage, the
liner faced dangers that the British government and the ship’s British owner,
Cunard, fully understood. After the war broke out, the British established
a naval-and-mine economic blockade of Germany in an attempt to starve it

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OUTRAGE: This 1915 poster distributed in Ireland shows the Lusitania plunging beneath the waves, the water full of survivors. The attack had special
resonance for the Irish, having taken place just 11 miles off shore. [Poster Collection—Hoover Institution Archives]

into submission. Unable to challenge Britain on the sea, Germany had to rely
on neutral ships for its imports. The British then sought to tighten the noose
by inspecting and diverting neutral ships in order to prevent Germany from
receiving any goods that might benefit its war effort. This British interference met with loud objections on the part of neutral
“America has come to the parting of
countries, none louder
the ways, when she must determine
than those of the United
whether she stands for civilized or
States. President Wilson,
although sympathetic to the
uncivilized warfare.”
Allied cause, was a staunch
defender of US interests, and his protests strained US relations with Britain
to the point where a break in those relations began to appear unavoidable.
By early 1915, as trench warfare on the Western Front settled into a stalemate, the German government, growing desperate to end the stranglehold of
the British blockade, turned to the submarine. Germany’s naval staff, like the
general public, saw the U-boat as a super weapon, the undersea counterpart to
that other German technical wonder, the high-flying zeppelin. On February 4,
1915, Berlin declared the seas around the British Isles to be a war zone (Kriegs­
schauplatz) and that beginning February 18, Allied ships entering the zone
would be sunk on sight. This German escalation prompted Wilson to deliver a
stern warning that he would hold Berlin to a “strict accountability” for any loss
of American ships or citizens that might result from a submarine attack.
The laws governing the conduct of war at sea, codified before the invention
of the submarine, required the submarine to observe the same rules as a conventional warship: it must warn a merchant ship before attacking it and take
steps to ensure the safe evacuation of its passengers and crew. But in order
for that to happen, a submarine would have to surface, which meant losing the
advantage of surprise and leaving the relatively small, fragile, and slow vessel
vulnerable to attack. Moreover, as German intelligence had learned, the British
naval authorities were advising merchant ships to steer directly at any U-boat
that surfaced, unless the ship could safely flee. By obeying the letter of the law,
in other words, a stealthy submarine could become a sitting duck.
The Lusitania, whose maiden voyage took place in 1907, was designed to
be convertible into a heavily armed merchant ship in wartime. At the war’s
onset, the British Admiralty designated the liner as an armed merchant
cruiser, meaning it was subject to call-up if its services were required.
Although the Lusitania was never outfitted with the twelve six-inch guns it
had been equipped to carry, the ship was transporting contraband on its final

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[Library of Congress]

voyage, mostly in the form of small-arms ammunition. The most valuable
such cargo consisted of 4,200 boxes of Remington rifle cartridges, packed
1,000 to a box, and 1,250 boxes of empty shell casings. This ammunition was
nonexplosive en masse, but after the sinking, its presence aboard the ship
was regarded as political dynamite and kept secret from the British public.
“HUMAN SHIELDS”
Despite the Lusitania’s wartime designation as an armed merchant cruiser and
the likelihood that it was carrying munitions among her cargo, the German navy
could not legally sink her without first issuing the conventional warning and
allowing time for the passengers and crew to be safely loaded onto lifeboats on a
calm sea not far from shore. Yet under the circumstances, the German government felt justified, morally if not legally, in sanctioning the sinking of Allied
merchant ships without warning. An inhibiting factor in the case of the Lusitania was the fact that it carried Americans among its passengers. The Germans
bitterly complained that these Americans were allowing themselves to be used
as “human shields” or “guardian angels.” As the Lusitania prepared to depart
from New York harbor’s Pier 54 on the morning of May 1, the American newspapers that day carried an advertisement paid for by the German embassy in
Washington warning prospective passengers of the risks involved:

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Notice!
Travellers intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are
reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her allies
and Great Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the
waters adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with formal
notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the
flag of Great Britain, or any of her allies, are liable to destruction in
those waters and that travellers sailing in the war zone on the ships
of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk.
The publication of this warning, which appeared directly alongside a Cunard
advertisement for the Lusitania’s May 1 return voyage to Liverpool, would later
fuel suspicions that the destruction of the liner had somehow been prearranged, that German officials had prior knowledge of the enormity they were
about to perpetrate. On the other hand, those inclined to see British culpability
in the disaster question why the Admiralty failed to send a destroyer escort
to meet the liner as it sailed into the German-declared war zone. Was this
evidence that the cunning first lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, had
facilitated the sinking in the hope of drawing the United States into the war?
When disaster struck on the afternoon of May 7, the Lusitania had dropped
its speed from twenty-one to eighteen knots and was about eleven miles
off the Old Head of Kinsale on the Irish coast when it was spotted by the
German submarine U-20. Commanding officer Walther Schwieger ordered

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VENGEANCE: Although 128 Americans died aboard the Lusitania, popular
outrage in the United States was not immediately converted into military
action. President Wilson issued stern diplomatic notes to the German government, demanding that it apologize, compensate the American victims, and
pledge to prevent a recurrence. Tensions between Washington and Berlin
actually eased later in 1915. Meanwhile, though, Wilson took steps to prepare
America for war. [Poster Collection—Hoover Institution Archives]

his ship to submerge. From a distance of about seven hundred meters,
Schwieger gave the command to fire one torpedo, and about a minute later
the missile hit its target. Moments later, as Schwieger watched through his
periscope, a second, powerful explosion erupted near to where the torpedo
had struck, sending a cloud of smoke, steam, and debris mushrooming above
the ship, which quickly began to founder and list.
Today it is believed that the cause of the second blast was the bursting of
one or more of the ship’s boilers as a result of the torpedo’s impact. But in the
wake of the catastrophe it was widely assumed, based on eyewitness testimony such as that given by lookout Leslie Morton, that U-20 had fired a second
deadly torpedo. Yet Schwieger,
observing the chaotic evacuation
Old laws governing war at sea
of the ship through his periscope,
required a sub to observe the
understood that expending a secsame rules as a conventional
ond torpedo would not be necessary. The Germans would maintain warship: warn a merchant vesthat the second explosion had been sel before attacking and take
caused by explosives, perhaps gun- steps to ensure evacuation of
powder, hidden in the Lusitania’s
its passengers and crew.
cargo hold—a suspicion that still
smolders a century later.
The sinking of the Lusitania spawned entire schools of red herrings, and these
have at times tended to obscure the legitimate questions that still surround the
tragedy. From the start there appeared to be something fishy about the behavior of the Lusitania’s commander, Captain William Turner, one of the survivors.
Turner’s failure to take prudent evasive action as his ship approached the
British Isles led to speculation that this was the result of something other than
simple negligence or incompetence. Turner was either ignorant of or chose to
ignore instructions to maintain maximum speed, to zigzag the ship, and to steer
a midchannel course, staying clear of headlands and harbor mouths. Official
British inquiries and a liability trial in New York for damages against Cunard
ended up clearing Turner’s name, although not in the history books.
Turner and his crew have also been scrutinized for their alleged failure
to take the proper precautions regarding the securing of portholes and the
readying of lifeboats as the Lusitania entered the sub-menaced waters, derelictions that would have hastened the descent of the ship and hampered its
evacuation. As it happened, the vessel’s severe list to starboard impeded the
lifeboat evacuation: on the starboard side because the boats swung out too
far over the water for safe boarding, and on the port side because the boats

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had swung inward against the ship and could be lowered only with great
difficulty. The ship’s distress calls reached Queenstown (today called Cobh),
whence a motley assortment of rescue vessels raced to the scene. Of the total
1,959 passengers and crew on board, 764 were rescued that afternoon, three
of whom later died from their injuries. In the end, only six of the Lusitania’s
forty-eight lifeboats were successfully launched and retrieved.
TOO PROUD TO FIGHT?
Most of the victims of the Lusitania disaster were British or Canadian
citizens, yet the percentage of American fatalities was high: 128 out of 139
passengers. That fact no doubt intensified the storm of indignation the sinking aroused in the United States, where the headlines screamed and editorials raged. “Germany surely must have gone mad,” declared the Richmond
Times-Dispatch on May 8, the
day after the disaster. Two
The Germans bitterly complained
days later, President Wilthat American passengers on the
son was in Philadelphia to
Lusitania allowed themselves
address an audience of some
to be used as “human shields” or
four thousand newly naturalized American citizens.
“guardian angels.”
The question hovering over
the proceedings that day was whether the president would also choose to
address the elephant in the room. Wilson decided not to mention the Lusitania directly, but his indirect reference was impossible to miss. “The example
of America must be a special example,” he declared, in a passage stamped
with his characteristic idealism:
The example of America must be the example not merely of peace
because it will not fight, but of peace because peace is the healing
and elevating influence of the world and strife is not. There is such
a thing as a man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as
a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by
force that it is right.
This peculiar riff on the theme of American exceptionalism was promptly
perceived as a political blunder, especially as its headline phrase, “too proud
to fight,” was taken out of context. Wilson was quick to recognize his error,
and at a press conference the following day he tried to distance himself from
his remarks, claiming they were not a statement of American policy but
merely “a personal attitude, that was all.”

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LAWS OF WAR: The text of this 1917 German poster reads: “This is how your
money helps you fight! Turned into U-boats, it keeps enemy shells away.
That’s why you should subscribe to war bonds!” German intelligence had
learned that British naval authorities were advising merchant ships to steer
directly at any U-boat that surfaced, putting the sub at risk. Hence Germany
felt justified, morally if not legally, in sanctioning the sinking of Allied merchant ships without warning—especially ones thought to be carrying military
matériel. [Poster Collection—Hoover Institution Archives]

THE INNOCENTS: This shocking image, by the artist Fred Spear, shows a
drowned woman and baby drifting to the bottom of the sea. The torpedoed
Lusitania is not shown but the meaning is unavoidable. The figures’ resemblance to a Madonna and Child heightens the effect of sacrilege. [Poster Collection—Hoover Institution Archives]

Wilson may have chosen his words poorly that day, yet his statements and
actions in the days and weeks after the Lusitania disaster were in tune with the
general mood of the American public. There was plenty of popular outrage, but
not, it seems, a desire to see Uncle Sam roll up his sleeves and venture forth into
the European conflict. Wilson issued a series of stern diplomatic notes to the
German government, demanding that it apologize for the sinking, compensate
the American victims, and pledge to prevent a recurrence. The president’s tough
stance nearly led to a break in US relations with Germany, and it provoked his
pacifist secretary of state, William Jennings Bryan, to resign in protest.
Negotiations ultimately defused
the diplomatic crisis, and the
The sinking of the Lusitania
German ambassador in Washspawned entire schools of red
ington assured the new secretary
of state, Robert Lansing, that
herrings, and these have at
Germany would no longer target
times tended to obscure the
large passenger ships like the
legitimate questions that still
Lusitania. U-boat attacks dropped
surround the tragedy.
off sharply, and by the fall of 1915
so did the tensions between Washington and Berlin. Wilson would run for reelection the following year on the levelheaded slogan “He kept us out of war.” But
Wilson was at the same time taking steps to prepare the country for war, securing passage, in May 1916, of the National Defense Act, which doubled the size of
the regular Army and expanded the National Guard, and, in June, of the Naval
Appropriations Act, which set a goal of making the US Navy equal to the largest
in the world within a decade. These and other initiatives introduced in the name
of “limited preparedness” were not nearly enough to mollify the president’s most
hawkish critics, such as former president Theodore Roosevelt, but Wilson was
certainly not idling the ship of state in neutral.
In Germany, meanwhile, the government’s decision to prohibit U-boat captains from attacking large Allied passenger ships was extremely unpopular
with the admirals. The sinking by torpedo of the White Star liner SS Arabic
on August 19, 1915, resulting in the deaths of forty-four passengers, three of
them Americans, raised another international outcry. This time the German government disavowed the act and pledged to refrain in the future from
attacking any passenger ship, no matter its size and origin. But Germany’s
self-restraint came at a high cost. “The British merchant fleet continued to
lose between fifty and a hundred ships a month to submarine attack during
1915, but could maintain supply to the home country nonetheless,” explains
historian John Keegan. “Meanwhile, the Grand Fleet and its subordinate

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FACING PAGE: Munich metalworker Karl Goetz struck a small number of commemorative medallions of the Lusitania sinking. The medals, which showed
Death issuing tickets for the doomed liner, mocked both Cunard and Britain.
The privately produced medal proved a publicity windfall for the British government, which portrayed it as both predicting the Lusitania attack and gloating over it. The Hoover Institution has two replicas and this original produced
by Goetz showing the correct date of the sinking, May 7. ABOVE: This US
poster, printed after the United States decided to enter the war, combines both
the drowned-innocents image and the Goetz medal in an appeal to Americans
to buy bonds. [Medal Collection; Poster Collection—Hoover Institution Archives]

squadrons and flotillas of cruisers, destroyers, and submarines sustained a
blockade of Germany that denied it all trade with the world beyond Europe.”
As Germany faced deepening economic hardship, the country’s military leaders began to lose confidence that popular support for the war effort could be
sustained for more than another year.
The German navy, in the meantime, was rapidly building up its U-boat
fleet, to the point where, by the beginning of 1917, the naval staff felt confident
that if it were allowed unrestricted use of the U-boat, it could bring Britain to
its knees within six months. At a meeting in January with Kaiser Wilhelm II,
the army and navy high command pressed its case for unleashing the U-boat,
assuring the emperor that there was no need for concern about the intervention of the United States, that “disorganized and undisciplined” country
“presided over by a professional crank.” The generals and admirals managed
to prevail upon a skeptical Wilhelm to approve the launching of unrestricted
submarine warfare. Beginning February 1, U-boats would attack without
warning all merchant ships, Allied or neutral, bound for Britain or France.
Berlin’s announcement prompted President Wilson to sever US diplomatic
relations with Germany. As German submarines began to sink American
ships—and after the exposure of the German foreign minister’s maneuvering to lure Mexico into an alliance with Germany in the event that the United
States entered the war—Wilson’s hand was forced. On April 6, the US Congress endorsed the president’s formal request to declare war on Germany.
At their fateful meeting with the Kaiser three months earlier, Germany’s
military authorities had insisted that they could achieve victory on the
battlefield well before the United States, distant and unprepared, could effectively intervene in the conflict. The chief of the naval staff boldly pledged to
Wilhelm, “I give Your Majesty my word as an officer that not one American
will land on the continent.” As it turned out, by Armistice Day, November 11,
1918, not one, but two million US soldiers had landed in France. America’s
time on the battlefield would turn out to be relatively brief (four months) and
its casualties relatively few (some fifty thousand battlefield deaths). Yet the
arrival of America’s doughboys at the front, after the sides had fought themselves to exhaustion, quickly made the difference.
REMEMBER THE LUSITANIA !
The sinking of the Lusitania was a propaganda nightmare for Germany. In
Britain, exhortations to “Remember the Lusitania” became a regular feature of
recruitment drives. Poster artists and political cartoonists employed dramatic
imagery inspired by the tragedy, typically depicting the encounter of the

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GONE, NOT FORGOTTEN: Sheet music for a 1917 tune, “Remember the
Lusitania”, shows how the ship also sank into the popular imagination. The
lyrics urge Americans to strive “to free the entire world from grasping Prussian
autocrats,” personified as a “wild war lord, who violates all treaties, ev’ry rule
of war, and respects not international law.” Less recalled today is that the outrage against the “wild war lord” failed to stir America from its neutrality until
two years after the ship was torpedoed. [Library of Congress]

Lusitania and U-20 as a confrontation between “Civilization” and “Barbarity,”
the latter often rendered as Kultur, a German equivalent for “civilization” that
was used ironically to the point where it became an Allied punch line. Lusitania
outrage served to bolster the credibility of the horror stories going around
about the German “rape of Belgium.” As it happened, five days
In 1915 there was plenty of popafter the Lusitania went down,
the British government released
ular outrage, but not, it seems, a
the results of its official investigadesire to see Uncle Sam roll up
tion into the matter of German
his sleeves and venture forth
“atrocities” in Belgium. Visions of
into the European conflict.
drowning women and children off
the coast of Ireland made it easier to believe the report’s sensational accounts
of German soldiers violating women and bayoneting babies.
In Germany, news of the Lusitania sinking sparked feelings of pride in
what many Germans seemed to regard as an emphatic illustration of the
nation’s technological ingenuity and military prowess. Berlin defended the
torpedoing as a necessary response to the British “hunger blockade,” but
the German Foreign Office realized at once the devastating blow it had
delivered to the country’s good name, especially among the populations of
neutral countries. London and Paris made sure to exaggerate, or manufacture, German manifestations of enthusiasm for U-20’s deadly attack,
useful reminders that the Germans were living up to their reputation as the
“barbarous Hun.”
The Lusitania propaganda campaign received an enormous boost from the
infamous “Goetz medal,” a medallion cast of iron and bronze in Munich by a satirically minded metalworker named Karl Goetz. Three months after the Lusitania
went down, Goetz struck a medallion that took aim at Cunard for recklessly
putting its business interests ahead of the safety of its customers, and mocked the
British government for using a passenger ship as a military cargo vessel.
The front side of Goetz’s medallion features the image of the stricken
liner, shown sinking by the stern. It was a common mistake, although here it
served Goetz’s purpose by enabling him to depict the ship’s bow, seen rising
above the water, as a fearsome weapon designed for ramming. The deck
of Goetz’s Lusitania is crowded with armaments, including cannon and an
airplane. The text along the upper edge—“KEINE BANN WARE!”—translates as “No Contraband!” The text beneath the image of the sinking steamer
translates as “The liner Lusitania sunk by a German submarine 5 May
1915”—although in fact the sinking had occurred on May 7.

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On the reverse side of the medallion, Death, in the form of a human skeleton, stands behind the counter of the Cunard ticket office in New York serving a crush of customers. A small drama plays out to the left of the queue,
where a man, his jaw agape, reads a newspaper with the front-page headline
“U BOOT GEFAHR”—meaning “U-Boat Danger,” presumably a reference to
the German embassy’s warning to anyone thinking about booking passage on
the Lusitania. Standing close by, a bearded figure in a top hat, possibly meant
to represent a German diplomat, raises a warning finger. The text along the
upper edge reads “GESCHÄFT ÜBER ALLES,” or “Business Above All Else.”
Goetz’s initials, K.G., are visible along the very bottom.
Goetz’s use of the incorrect date for the disaster was framed as evidence
that he had been tipped off to a German plot to sink the Lusitania, and that
unforeseen circumstances had delayed the massacre by two days. The satirist’s innocent error thus became a propaganda windfall for the Allies. The
British made the most of the opportunity, portraying Goetz’s privately struck
medallion as an official commemorative medal, a macabre form of German
patriotic gloating. From there the myth took hold that the medal had been
awarded to each member of the valiant crew of U-20.
The “Lusitania medal” was little known in Germany, where Goetz had struck
only a few hundred pieces, and then later a few dozen more with the corrected
date of the sinking. In Britain, however, Goetz’s coin was the propaganda gift that
kept on giving. British officials enlisted department store magnate Harry Gordon
Selfridge to produce and sell a replica of the medal. Packaged in an attractive case
and priced at a shilling each, more than 250,000 of these replicas were sold, with
the proceeds donated to war-related charities. These reproductions served to
keep fresh the memory of the catastrophe, helping to ensure that when the United
States finally did enter the war, American doughboys making their way to France
would be encouraged to avenge the Lusitania.
Special to the Hoover Digest.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is War,
Revolution, and Peace in Russia: The Passages of
Frank Golder, 1914–1927, edited by Terence Emmons
and Bertrand M. Patenaude. To order, call (800) 8884741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

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T

he Titanic may belong to history, but the Lusitania belongs to
Gregg Bemis.
Bemis, a Stanford graduate with an MBA from Harvard, bought
a stake in the legendary wreck in 1968. A former partner of his in a
diving business had won the sunken ship in an auction held by the Liverpool &
London War Risk Association Ltd., which paid out claims on the disaster.
Bemis bought out his partners, thinking the shipwreck had commercial
potential. They were working on an advanced diving system that could send
divers into deeper waters—the Lusitania lies about three hundred feet below
the surface—to salvage deep wrecks.
“We were way ahead of our time,” he says. “And of course, we just ran out
of money.”
The Lusitania, “it’s safe to say, commercially it’s a lost cause, but historically it certainly is not.”
By that he means that the object shown here—one of a number of artifacts
brought up from the ship by divers, including Bemis himself—only hints at
the full story the Lusitania could yet tell.
In 1995 the Irish government, in whose waters the ship was torpedoed,
imposed strict protections on the wreck, designating it a site of significance
under the National Monuments Acts. Bemis is challenging the restrictions.
Ireland issues very few diving licenses to visit the ship, despite intense interest by so-called tech divers. It has, however, allowed Bemis to collect some
artifacts that might shed light on the sinking or the people aboard.
“It’s considered the Mount Everest of tech diving,” says Bemis. “But the
Irish government, the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, has
decided they’re not going to let people touch it. Even dive on it, without a
license in every case.”
Bemis wants to do more than collect objects such as this. He wants to
carry out a sustained forensic investigation into century-long allegations that
the Lusitania carried a secret cargo of munitions, destined for the British
fight against Germany.
“We want to get inside so we can find out about the second explosion,”
he says. “The second explosion sank the thing in eighteen minutes. No one
knows what caused it.”
Irish resistance to exploration of the wreck hasn’t lessened Bemis’s desire
to probe the munitions theory—a charge that was literally explosive in 1915,
in that the United States was neutral at the time the Lusitania was torpedoed
by a German U-boat, and American outrage over the “unprovoked” attack
figured into America’s eventual entry into the war. Historians agree that the

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RESURRECTED: A bronze porthole, brought up from the wreck of the
Lusitania, shows evidence of the ship’s violent end—or perhaps, as owner
Gregg Bemis suspects, signs of depth charges dropped in later years. The
vessel lies in 305 feet of water. [Courtesy of Gregg Bemis]

Lusitania had undergone some modifications to allow it to sail as an armed
merchant cruiser. Bemis also finds it suspicious that British ships depthcharged the Lusitania in the 1950s, as if to destroy evidence.
Can Britain still be keeping such a secret, even after a hundred years?
“When my former partner initially bid to buy the ship, it was a blind auction,” Bemis says. “There were two bids. One was from my partner and the
other was from British intelligence.”
The Hoover Institution will sponsor an unprecedented public showing of
Bemis’s artifacts from the Lusitania in May. The porthole photographed here,
along with many other relics, has never before been publicly exhibited in the
United States. They will be on display in the Rotunda of the Hoover Tower on
May 20–25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
—Charles Lindsey

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H I STORY AND CULT UR E

Stalin’s
Monstrous Will
The first book of Hoover fellow Stephen Kotkin’s
new history of the Soviet Union presents a portrait
of absolute power.

By Norman M. Naimark

W

e all think we know Stalin. He was the brutal and vengeful
dictator of the Soviet Union from the late 1920s until 1953,
when, mercifully, he died before he could do any more damage. He was the instigator of forced industrialization and

collectivization, taking his country down a dead-end path to modernity from
which its heirs are still trying to recover. As the valued ally of Great Britain
and the United States during World War II, he was responsible for his country’s great victory over Nazism, which cost, sometimes senselessly, the lives of
twenty-seven million Soviet citizens. He was the primary author of the Cold
War, instigating such crises as the Berlin Blockade and the Korean conflict.
Stalin killed millions of people—party rivals, army officers, “kulaks” (supposedly rich peasants), ex-czarist bureaucrats and nobles, nationalities, “asocials”

Norman M. Naimark is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. He is also the Robert and Florence
McDonnell Professor of East European Studies at Stanford University, where he
is the Fisher Family Director of the Global Studies Division. Stephen Kotkin is a
research fellow at the Hoover Institution and the John P. Birkelund '52 Professor
in History and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and History
Department of Princeton University.
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(alleged prostitutes, petty thieves, gamblers, the chronically homeless and
unemployed), and innumerable “counterrevolutionaries.” He used the famine
of the early 1930s to commit genocide against the Ukrainians. He deported and
murdered hundreds of thousands of Soviet Poles, Germans, Koreans, Chechens-Ingush, Crimean Tatars, Kalmyks—the list goes on and on.
Yet given Stalin’s enormous importance to the history of the twentieth
century, it is remarkable how little we understand about his personality and
motives. He left no memoirs and kept no diaries. His letters to his comrades,
such as the telegraphic communications he sent to Moscow from his summer headquarters in Sochi, rarely have There’s little in Stalin’s background to foreshadow the
the color or tone of intimate notes.
Those around him maintained no
mind-boggling violence and
records of his conversations or rumina- treacherous political backtions. Memoirs of close comrades and
stabbing to come.
acolytes, such as Viacheslav Molotov or
Anastas Mikoyan, were not published
until long after Stalin’s death. The same goes for the scattered reminiscences
of a variety of family members, chauffeurs, cooks, and security guards.
He was an inveterate editor, so we do have his frequent markings on political articles and essays and notations on manuscripts and books. We hear
him “speak” in lengthy and detailed official protocols of the Central Committee or Politburo meetings that were made available to researchers after the
fall of the Soviet Union. But these reveal more about his signature political
repartee—hard hitting, to the point, caustic, self-deprecating—than about his
inner world. Historians also face the same problem that his contemporaries
did in trying to understand him: Stalin was a consummate dissembler. He
frequently assumed poses, played roles, and concealed his real thoughts. He
plotted and schemed and had a supremely tactical mind.
In Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928, the first installment of a
projected three-volume biography of Stalin, Princeton historian and Hoover
research fellow Stephen Kotkin has done a superb job of getting us close
to the dictator. This book traces Stalin’s story from birth to 1928, when he
inflicted the momentous First Five Year Plan and forced collectivization on
the Soviet Union. Kotkin has mastered the vast historical literature, read
reams of formal protocols of party and state meetings, made full use of document collections, and chased down rare and little-known memoirs and reminiscences about his subject. This first volume is, in some ways, the hardest to
research, since there is a great deal that is not known about Stalin’s boyhood,

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life as a seminary student, and career as a radical activist in Georgia. It
becomes easier to trace Stalin’s astonishing rise to power once he assumed
his crucial role in the development of the Communist Party after the October
Revolution.
ONCE A CHOIRBOY
Stalin—Iosef Djugashvili—was born in the uplands Georgian town of Gori
(“hill”) in December 1878. His father was a cobbler who drank heavily and
separated from his handsome mother in 1883, when young Iosef, nicknamed
Soso, was just five. Many biographers search for the origins of Stalin’s
incredible brutality and indifference to the pain of others in his youth, claiming that his alcoholic father beat both him and his mother and that he grew
up in a violent milieu. Kotkin emphasizes instead that Stalin’s childhood was
not unusual for young urban Georgian plebeians of that time and that the stories of beatings are much overdone.
Young Soso’s mother coddled and nurtured him, making sure—with the
help of friends, relatives, and interested churchmen—that he had a good
education and was able to enter the seminary. The adolescent Stalin was not
particularly a young tough; he was a sensitive and ambitious student, reading
and writing poetry, influenced especially by Georgian nationalist epics and
romantic verses. Soso also apparently had quite a beautiful voice and sang in
seminary choruses. In short, there is not much in his background to foreshadow the mind-boggling violence and treacherous political backstabbing
that came later.
Similarly, Stalin’s interest in revolutionary activity did not derive, as many
biographers would have it, from a particularly strong proclivity toward the
violence and banditry that are endemic to the mountains of the Caucasus and
a common characteristic of Georgian folk heroes. Stalin, like so many young
non-Russian students in various parts of the empire—whether in Riga, Warsaw, Kharkov, Minsk, or Tiflis—set off on the path to radical thinking at the
end of the nineteenth century by reading socialist literature and experiencing some bitter moments of personal humiliation in an empire increasingly
dedicated to the Russification of its population. He was deeply attracted to
ideology and its relevance to political questions, something that stayed with
him the rest of his life. Ideology was the lens through which he saw the world
around him and interpreted both its opportunities and its dangers.
Still, Koba, as Stalin was known in Georgian radical circles, was not averse
to revolutionary bloodshed. Certainly, he was involved in the planning of the
major Tiflis bank robbery of 1907 during which more than thirty people died.

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MURDER-MINDED: Josef Stalin unwinds in Georgia. Stalin left no memoirs
and kept no diaries, leaving his personality and motives largely a mystery.
Moreover, he was a consummate dissembler, frequently assuming poses,
playing roles, and concealing his real thoughts. This photo is from a personal
scrapbook kept by Nestor A. Lakoba, an old comrade of Stalin’s who would
send him crates of tangerines from the sunny south and host him for holidays.
Lavrentiy Beria, at the left of the photo, nursed a bitter rivalry with Lakoba,
and Stalin egged him on. In 1936, Beria invited Lakoba to dinner and poisoned
him. [Hoover Institution Archives—Nestor Lakoba Papers]

In his activities among workers in the oil industry in Baku, he was known
to be aloof, conspiratorial, and sharp-tongued. The Baku radical milieu was
famous for its hostage taking, ransoms, and piracy. Crucial, too, was Stalin’s attraction to a particularly extreme socialist ideology, Vladimir Lenin’s
Bolshevism. But none of this, Kotkin reminds us, can be seen as presaging his
extraordinary rise to the pinnacle of political power in Soviet Russia.
WAS HE LENIN’S CHOSEN ONE?
It was Leon Trotsky who began a long tradition of deprecating Stalin’s talents as a political leader when he called the Georgian nothing but an “errand

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boy” for Lenin in the revolution of 1917. As Stalin’s rival from the get-go—the
two seemed to have a visceral hatred of one another—Trotsky (and after
him, a number of biographers) portrayed Stalin as a mediocre and ignorant
bureaucrat, representing the self-serving interests of a class of incompetent
and petty bourgeois functionaries who would take Russia down the path
toward a Thermidorian Reaction. Kotkin emphatically and convincingly
refutes this take, suggesting instead that Stalin, after Lenin, was one of the
most important figures in the Bolshevik seizure of power and the civil war
that followed.
As general secretary of the Communist Party, Stalin essentially built the
party and the Soviet state, always attentive to Lenin’s wishes and ideas,
ready to proffer his own conceptions, but also willing to comproIdeology was the lens through
mise and learn, especially when it
which Stalin saw the world
came to the admonitions of “Il’ich”
(Lenin). Stalin was able, hardworkand interpreted both opportuing, and focused, as well as connivnities and dangers.
ing and manipulative. When Lenin
suffered a series of strokes in 1923 and died in January 1924, Stalin was in
many ways Lenin’s most natural successor. Trotsky, of course, did not see
it this way, nor did a number of other contenders for power. Moreover, the
Georgian was little known outside of narrow party and government circles.
Still, Stalin had served as Lenin’s chief deputy, was a diligent student of the
Bolshevik master’s thought, and had already amassed a considerable following among the middle level of the party.
The struggle for succession began before Lenin’s death. The stricken leader
was eventually confined to an estate outside of Moscow, only episodically able
to come to the Kremlin for consultations. Though he desperately tried to influence the course of Bolshevik policy and thus the succession, he was increasingly incapable of expressing himself either on paper or in speech. Lenin’s “testament,” released in late May 1923, called into question the capabilities of all
the major contenders for party leadership. About Stalin, he wrote: “Comrade
Stalin, having become general secretary, has concentrated boundless power in
his hands; and I am not sure that he will always be able to use that power with
sufficient caution.” This wise (if rather hypocritical) observation was followed
by an addendum, released in June 1923, that emphasized: “Stalin is too rude
and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in relations among us
communists, becomes intolerable in a general secretary. That is why I suggest
the comrades think about a way of removing Stalin.”

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Kotkin lines up with some recent scholarship that suggests these documents may have been faked—that Lenin’s wife and secretaries, who saw to
the infirm leader’s daily care, may well have published the testament and
addendum without any dictation from Lenin. They did this, the argument
goes, not so much to keep Stalin from leadership as to maintain a balance
between Stalin and the other contestants for power. Kotkin shrewdly argues
that the testament proved to be a Damocles sword hanging over Stalin,
constantly threatening him with the humiliating revelation that Lenin had
rejected him. This was not just a threat to his political ambitions but also a
blow to his sense of self as Lenin’s most loyal lieutenant.
Kotkin suggests that Stalin’s later vindictive murderousness derived in
part from the resentment, self-pity, and sense of victimhood he inherited
from a long struggle with the testament and its meaning. In short, the
testament, fake or not, had a crucial effect on the development of Stalin and
Stalinism.
Once Lenin died on January 21, 1924, Stalin moved to assume the formal
mantle of leadership by swearing fealty to Lenin and Leninism in a liturgically structured oration—befitting the seminary student he had been—at
the dictator’s funeral. (Conveniently for Stalin, Trotsky was on his way to a
cure in the south and did not consider it necessary to rush back to Moscow
for the ceremony.) In order to present
his ideological credentials for leadership,
Leon Trotsky began a long
Stalin also published The Foundations
tradition of deprecating
of Leninism, which, Kotkin tells us, was
plagiarized from a minor comrade’s work. Stalin’s talents as a politiBut succession in the Soviet system was
cal leader. He called the
never assured, and Stalin was faced with
Georgian nothing but an
struggles from the “left,” meaning not
“errand boy.”
just Trotsky but Grigori Zinoviev and
Lev Kamenev, and from the “right,” meaning Nikolai Bukharin, Alexei Rykov,
and Mikhail Tomsky. Kotkin adds the intriguing finance expert, Grigori
Sokolnikov, who called for Stalin’s removal from the Politburo in 1925, to the
cast of characters involved in the mix of policy prescriptions and political
alignments.
The political struggle was sharp, intense, and dangerous for Stalin; there
were moments when he might well have been removed. During the 1920s,
writes Kotkin, Stalin developed an “increasing hyper-suspiciousness bordering on paranoia” that was “fundamentally political—and it closely mirrored
the Bolshevik Revolution’s inbuilt structural paranoia, the predicament of

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a communist regime in an overwhelmingly capitalist world, surrounded by,
penetrated by enemies.” Added to this structural paranoia was the mounting
perceived threat of foreign intervention during the late 1920s. War scares
were frequent and disabling, and the Soviet leadership understood that the
country’s army was in pathetic condition.
HUMILIATING HIS ENEMIES
The fears that derived from this situation intensified with reports from the
countryside, where peasants withheld grain from the market and production figures plummeted. In 1928, Stalin went to Siberia to outline his radical
plan for the full-scale collectivization of agriculture. His announcement sent
shock waves through the party. It was essentially an abandonment of the
New Economic Policy, which since 1921 had allowed peasants the right to sell
their grain on the market. Collectivization also seemed impossible at a time
when few party members and state structures penetrated the Soviet villages.
Stalin launched his brutal attack on the countryside in conjunction with the
beginnings of a “drawn-out, painstakingly sadistic humiliation” of Nikolai
Bukharin, a strong supporter of the New Economic Policy, who eventually
was denounced, tried as a counterrevolutionary, and executed.
Stalin’s economic policies in this
period were thoroughly intertwined
Kotkin suggests that Stanot just with his Marxist-Leninist
ideology but with his drive to domilin’s vindictive murderousnate his political opponents. Comness derived in part from
bined with the threat to the state
the resentment, self-pity,
from record low grain procurements,
and sense of victimhood he
Stalin’s exaggerated fears of foreign
inherited from a long struginvasion, exacerbated by the ideogle over Lenin’s last wishes.
logical prediction that imperialism
would try to destroy the successful
socialist revolution, set off a chain of bloody events from 1928 to 1938 that
would rock the Soviet Union and the world.
Kotkin insists that this is not just a story about Lenin, Stalin, and the delusions of Bolshevism, though it is certainly that. Late imperial Russia faced
a similar problem: both regimes wanted to modernize a peasant society to
withstand the pressure of enemies abroad and at home. The Russian village
stood in the way, both for Stalin and for Piotr Stolypin, the prime minister
and minister of internal affairs under Czar Nicholas II from 1906 until his
assassination in 1911. But while Stolypin tried to consolidate peasant holdings

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in an attempt to create productive yeoman farmers who would support the
czarist regime, Stalin was intent on destroying individual family farming,
collectivizing agriculture, and smashing the political independence of the
peasantry, which he saw as threatening Bolshevik power.
Kotkin’s study is a big book, with more than six hundred pages of text and
over three hundred pages of bibliography and detailed endnotes. Kotkin goes
to great pains to embed Stalin’s life within
the larger Russian, European, and even
Stalin’s economic policies
world history of modernization and state
were intertwined not just
building. Fortunately, Kotkin is an accomwith his Marxist-Leninist
plished stylist as well as an amazingly
diligent scholar. So the narrative, despite
ideology but also with
telling an intricate story that alternates
his drive to dominate his
between context and the details of Stalin’s political opponents. 
life and career, is frequently exciting and
fast-paced. The bad news on completing it is that the reader wants to keep
going; the good news is that two more volumes are to come.
Reprinted by permission of Reason (www.reason.com). © 2014 Reason
Magazine. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is Behind
the Façade of Stalin’s Command Economy, by Paul R.
Gregory. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

187

H O OVER ARCHIVE S

Women and the
Great War
During World War I, women stepped forward to
volunteer, protest, make weapons—even fight.

T

he centenary of the First World War allows us to reflect on how
that conflict influenced the lives of millions of women. In occupied territories, women were, like all civilians, victimized by the
destruction of towns and villages and by privation, looting, rape,

and indiscriminate killing. They were exempted neither from execution nor
from deportation or forced labor. For the duration of the war, women played
an especially important role in political propaganda used to demonize the
enemy, sell war bonds, and beguile young men to join the colors.
Women were called on to serve their nations, and they often responded
with energy and enthusiasm. Some went to the front as nurses and ambulance drivers, others as soldiers, notably in the east. They contributed on the
home front, replacing men in fields and factories and filling new jobs. They
volunteered; they knitted and sewed clothing for soldiers, sent letters to the
front, and campaigned to conserve food and clothing. Ultimately, countless
women lost loved ones on the battlefields.
Their voices survive in letters and memoirs that convey their feelings of
expectation and tragedy. These images represent some highlights of the
Hoover Institution’s collections that illuminate the events, and the people, of
the Great War.
Research and presentation: Samira Bozorgi, assistant archivist for exhibits at the Hoover Institution. Bertrand M. Patenaude, research fellow at the
Hoover Institution. Katherine Jolluck, senior lecturer in East European history
at Stanford University.
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“RAPE OF BELGIUM”: This 1917 US Army enlistment poster is one of the most
famous propaganda images of the Great War. The monstrous ape—complete
with the German helmet of “Militarism” and a bloody club labeled “Kultur”—
steps onto American shores with a captive woman. The “rape of Belgium”
became shorthand for Germany’s atrocities, real or imagined, and its violation
of nations. The artist was San Francisco–born Harry Ryle Hopps (1869–1937),
who later had a career as an art director in Hollywood. Many people find this
poster suggestive of King Kong. [Poster Collection—Hoover Institution Archives]

PERSUADER: Posters appealed to citizens’ patriotism and sense of duty or
played on their sense of guilt. They commonly used female images to beckon,
seduce, shame, and otherwise help recruit men into military service (an
especially urgent cause in Britain, which still relied on volunteers) or promote
the sale of war bonds. In this poster distributed in Ireland, it is the woman who
holds the rifle and confronts the civilian with the need to rescue Belgium—“for
the glory of Ireland.” [Poster Collection—Hoover Institution Archives]

GIVER: In one of the more unusual images calling for women’s help, this
poster encourages the women of Magdeburg, Germany, to sacrifice something
personal: their hair. Raw materials became increasingly scarce in blockaded
Germany, and human hair could be used in place of hemp and leather to make
machinery belts and insulation. [Poster Collection—Hoover Institution Archives]

HEALER: The Great War did much to propagate a sanitized view of wartime
nursing, yet caring for the wounded was demanding, gritty work. Nurses near
the front lines were called on to treat terrible wounds (often resulting in amputations), infections, mustard gas burns, and shell shock. They risked their
lives in field hospitals close to the front lines, aboard hospital ships vulnerable
to submarine attacks, and at base hospitals subject to long-range shelling.
The American Red Cross (above) had twenty thousand nurses in uniform by
Armistice Day. Some were decorated for outstanding service, including three
awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. In Germany (right), with its strong
Red Cross traditions, some ninety-two thousand women served as nurses
during the war. Soldiers and citizens in all countries recognized nurses’ courage and resilience. Even so, the novels, songs, and propaganda posters of the
period mostly portrayed nurses as romantic foils to the male warriors. [Poster
Collection; World War I Pictorial Collection—Hoover Institution Archives]

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LABORER: Women everywhere took unaccustomed jobs in offices and factories as men marched off to fight. In Britain, thousands worked in munitions
factories, a critical occupation. These “munitionettes” worked long hours
under hazardous conditions, risking their health from prolonged exposure to
harmful chemicals and toxic fumes and earning less than half a man’s pay.
The rosy cheeks of this munitions worker contrast with the sallow complexion of real munitions workers, who were dubbed “canary girls.” [Poster Collection—Hoover Institution Archives]

SOLDIER: Maria Bochkareva, a Russian peasant who fled an abusive family life to join the Imperial Russian Army in 1914, was the war’s most famous
female soldier. She was not alone: an estimated 400 to 1,000 women and
girls enlisted in the czar’s army. Bochkareva faced ridicule and sexual harassment, as did other female soldiers, but she proved herself in battle. After the
Romanovs fell in March 1917, the Provisional Government allowed her to form
the Women’s Battalion of Death, whose heroic example, she hoped, would
shame demoralized Russian men into resuming the fight against Germany
and Austria. After the Bolshevik Revolution, she traveled to America, where
she dictated her memoirs and met President Wilson. Returning to her homeland in 1918, she tried to oppose the Bolsheviks but was captured. She was
executed by firing squad in 1920. [Hoover Institution Library]

HERO: The death in Brussels of British nurse Edith Cavell—shot by a firing squad as a spy at dawn on October 12, 1915, by the German occupation
authorities—shocked the world. Cavell, matron of a Belgian nursing school,
was accused of concealing British and French soldiers who had been caught
behind the lines of the rapidly advancing German troops. Her actions involved
great personal risk, which she is said to have undertaken readily. Cavell’s execution became an international cause célèbre, held up as damning evidence
of German barbarity, and her image and story became ubiquitous in wartime
propaganda. Today she is memorialized across the Commonwealth, with a
statue in downtown London and her name attached to streets, monuments,
and parks. [Poster Collection—Hoover Institution Archives]

COMFORTER: Soon after America entered the war in 1917, the Salvation
Army sent female volunteers to “huts” behind the front lines where soldiers
could rest and socialize, write letters, and get their clothes mended. The huts
were also cherished for offering doughnuts, which were originally cooked in
soldiers’ helmets. The women running the huts were affectionately known as
“doughnut lassies.” [Joseph Newton Hillhouse Photograph Collection—Hoover Institution
Archives]

MOURNER: When the Great War ended, there were millions of new widows
along with women who had lost sons and brothers. Many soldiers’ bodies
were never found, sharpening the grief in societies unable to perform traditional burial rites. Historian Jay M. Winter has said that the massive losses
forced women to learn how “to configure a void, how to configure a family
when the father isn’t there.” [Joseph Newton Hillhouse Photograph Collection—Hoover
Institution Archives]

PEACEMAKER: In January 1915, as trench warfare brought a stalemate to the
conflict on the Western Front, the social worker and feminist Jane Addams
rose to leadership of the newly formed Woman’s Peace Party. She led an
unsuccessful effort to organize a conference of neutral nations to mediate
a truce among the belligerents. Hungarian-born feminist and peace activist
Rosika Schwimmer persuaded Henry Ford to finance and headline a neutral peace conference that came to be called the Ford Peace Expedition. On
December 4, 1915, Ford and more than one hundred delegates sailed from
Hoboken aboard the steamship Oscar II bound for Oslo, Norway. Alice Park,
who donated these delegate buttons, along with her papers, to the Hoover
Institution, was among the passengers. Norway was to be the first stop in a
planned series of peace meetings in neutral Europe, ending up at The Hague,
where the conference of neutrals would be organized. Ford, however, abandoned the group after its arrival in Norway, and the ensuing international
conference was barely noticed. By the time the United States entered the war
in April 1917, most feminist leaders supported President Wilson’s decision
to intervene. But a small group of prominent women, Addams among them,
persisted in their pacifism, although their countrymen accused them of being
naive and unpatriotic. A believer in women’s special mission to preserve
peace, Addams would receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. [Alice Park Papers—
Hoover Institution Archives]

On the Cover

T

he mighty flotilla on the cover of this issue was one of a series of
muscular military images—tanks, artillery, bombers, and fighter
planes—turned into posters for the British home front during
World War II. This poster also appeared with the slogan “Back
Them Up.” Countless posters, produced in every country involved in the war,
encouraged citizens to think of themselves as reinforcements for the soldiers,
sailors, and aviators doing the actual fighting. Backing up the troops could
mean buying war bonds, saving scrap metal, working in a factory, obeying
safety rules, avoiding work gossip (lest the enemy hear), and keeping your
chin up.
This poster, and its companions in the series, was exceptionally beautiful. It was commissioned by the British Ministry of Information, an agency
set up in 1939 to issue propaganda and news. (George Orwell’s wife, Eileen,
worked in the ministry’s Censorship Department from 1939 to 1942, and
Orwell used its towering London headquarters as the model for the sinister Ministry of Truth in 1984.) The artwork is signed “F. A. A.”—an artist
who painted at least one other battleship scene during the war and whose
identity is not apparent.
Battleships, with their power and grace, seemed irresistible as symbols of
military power, but as World War II came to a close seventy years ago, they
were thoroughly obsolete. It wasn’t “loose lips” that would sink these ships. It
was aircraft. The seaplanes flying overhead pointed to where the naval future
lay: carrier-based air power.
“FAA” was also the initials of the Fleet Air Arm, Britain’s force to project
naval air power. As early as 1940 there was no longer any doubt that aircraft
would control the seas. The celebrated Battle of Taranto ended in the sinking of one Italian battleship and heavy damage to two others and a heavy
cruiser—all thanks to fragile-looking Swordfish torpedo craft resembling the
planes in this poster. The next year they had a hand in sending the Bismarck
to the bottom, too.
Britain’s HMS Vanguard was the last battleship ever built, entering service
in 1946, too late for the war it was designed for. One of its final duties was to
serve as a filming backdrop for the 1960 movie Sink the Bismarck!—an earlier

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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

battlewagon that could have shown the graceful Vanguard what was in store.
Then the Vanguard was towed away and scrapped. The world’s surviving
battleships are tourist attractions.
— Charles Lindsey

H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

201

HOOVER INSTITUTION ON WAR, REVOLUTION AND PEACE

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202

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H O O VER DI GEST • SPR I N G 201 5

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H O O V E R D IG E ST • S P RING 2015

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203

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In Memoriam: Martin Anderson
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