You are on page 1of 217

HOOVER DIGEST

RESEARCH + OP I NI ON ON P UBLI C P OLI CY


SP R I N G 2 01 7 N O. 2
HOOVER DIGEST
SPRING 2017 NO. 2

HOOVER DIGEST
The Economy

American Values

Politics

The Middle East

|
Russia

SPRING 2017
Intelligence and Defense

The Environment

Natural Resources

Korea

Crime

Education

In Memoriam:
Sidney D. Drell

Interview: Thomas Sowell

History and Culture

Hoover Archives

T H E H O OV E R I N S T I T U T I O N S TA N F O R D U N I V E R S I T Y
The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace was established at Stanford University
The Hoover Institution gratefully acknowledges the support of
in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, a member of Stanfords pioneer graduating class of 1895 and the
its benefactors in establishing the communications and information
thirty-first president of the United States. Created as a library and repository of documents,
the Institution approaches its centennial with a dual identity: an active public policy research
dissemination program.
center and an internationally recognized library and archives.
Significant gifts for the support of the Hoover Digest
The Institutions overarching goals are to:
are acknowledged from
Understand the causes and consequences of economic, political, and social change
Analyze the effects of government actions and public policies
Bertha and John Garabedian Charitable Foundation
Use reasoned argument and intellectual rigor to generate ideas that nurture the
formation of public policy and benefit society The Jordan Vineyard and Winery

Herbert Hoovers 1959 statement to the Board of Trustees of Stanford University continues to
Joan and David Traitel
guide and define the Institutions mission in the twenty-first century: u u u

This Institution supports the Constitution of the United States, its Bill of Rights, The Hoover Institution gratefully acknowledges generous support
and its method of representative government. Both our social and economic sys- from the Founders of the Program on
tems are based on private enterprise, from which springs initiative and ingenuity. American Institutions and Economic Performance
. . . Ours is a system where the Federal Government should undertake no govern-
mental, social, or economic action, except where local government, or the people, Tad and Dianne Taube
cannot undertake it for themselves. . . . The overall mission of this Institution is,
from its records, to recall the voice of experience against the making of war, and Taube Family Foundation
by the study of these records and their publication to recall mans endeavors to
Koret Foundation
make and preserve peace, and to sustain for America the safeguards of the
American way of life. This Institution is not, and must not be, a mere library. and a Cornerstone Gift from
But with these purposes as its goal, the Institution itself must constantly and
dynamically point the road to peace, to personal freedom, and to the safeguards
Sarah Scaife Foundation
of the American system. u u u
Professional journalists are invited to visit the Hoover Institution to share
By collecting knowledge and generating ideas, the Hoover Institution seeks to improve the hu-
man condition with ideas that promote opportunity and prosperity, limit government intrusion their perspectives and engage in a dialogue with the Hoover community.
into the lives of individuals, and secure and safeguard peace for all. Leadership and significant gift support to reinvigorate and sustain the
William and Barbara Edwards Media Fellows Program
are acknowledged from

The Hoover Institution is supported by donations from individuals, foundations, corporations, and William K. Bowes Jr.
partnerships. If you are interested in supporting the research programs of the Hoover Institution or
the Hoover Library and Archives, please contact the Office of Development, telephone 650.725.6715 or William C. Edwards
fax 650.723.1952. Gifts to the Hoover Institution are tax deductible under applicable rules. The Hoover
Charles B. Johnson
Institution is part of Stanford Universitys tax-exempt status as a Section 501(c)(3) public charity.
Confirming documentation is available upon request. Tad and Cici Williamson
HOOVER DIGEST
RE S E A R C H + OP IN ION ON P U BL I C PO L I CY
Sp r in g 2 017 HOOV ER D IG E ST.O RG

THE HOOVER INSTITUTION

S TA N F O R D U N I V E R S I T Y
HOOVER DIGEST
R ESE ARC H + O P IN ION ON P U B LIC P OLICY
S prin g 2017 HOOV ER D IGEST.ORG

The Hoover Digest explores politics, economics, and history, guided by the
HOOVER
scholars and researchers of the Hoover Institution, the public policy research DIGEST
center at Stanford University.
PETER ROBINSON
The opinions expressed in the Hoover Digest are those of the authors and
Editor
do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hoover Institution, Stanford
University, or their supporters. As a journal for the work of the scholars and CHARLES LINDSEY
researchers affiliated with the Hoover Institution, the Hoover Digest does not Managing Editor
accept unsolicited manuscripts.
BARBARA ARELLANO
The Hoover Digest (ISSN 1088-5161) is published quarterly by the Hoover Senior Publications Manager,
Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford University, Stanford CA Hoover Institution Press
94305-6003. Periodicals Postage Paid at Palo Alto CA and additional mailing
offices.
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the Hoover Digest, Hoover Press, HOOVER
Stanford University, Stanford CA 94305-6003. INSTITUTION
2017 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University
JOEL C. PETERSON
Chair, Board of Overseers
CONTACT INFORMATION SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION
PAUL LEWIS LEW DAVIES III
Comments and suggestions: $30 a year to US and Canada MARY MYERS KAUPPILA
digesteditor@stanford.edu (international rates higher). Vice Chairs, Board of Overseers
(650) 723-1471 http://hvr.co/subscribe THOMAS W. GILLIGAN
Reprints: Phone: (877) 705-1878 Tad and Dianne Taube Director
hooverpress@stanford.edu (toll free in US, Canada) ERIC WAKIN
(650) 498-7880 or (773) 753-3347 (international) Deputy Director,
Write: Hoover Digest, Robert H. Malott Director
Subscription Fulfillment, of Library & Archives
PO Box 37005, Chicago, IL 60637 STEPHEN LANGLOIS
Senior Associate Director
ON THE COVER
ASSOCIATE
Liberty Calling is the message of a poster
DIRECTORS
that urges young Americans to enlist during
World War I. The Great War saw the develop- CHRISTOPHER S. DAUER
ment of many new weapons, but among the COLIN STEWART
most potent was the poster. Colorful, vivid ERYN WITCHER TILLMAN
graphic images encouraged, enticed, and (Bechtel Director of Public Affairs)
even shamed young Americans to join the
conflict over there. Meanwhile, on the home ASSISTANT
DIRECTORS
front, posters recruited millions of women
into unaccustomed roles, lectured Americans DENISE ELSON
on the virtues of thrift and industry, and sold MARY GINGELL
war bonds. See story, page 199. JEFFREY M. JONES

MICHAEL FRANC
Director of Washington, DC,
Programs
VISIT HOOVER INSTITUTION ONLINE | www.hoover.org

FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA DOWNLOAD OUR APP

TWITTER @HooverInst Stay up to date on the latest


FACEBOOK www.facebook.com/HooverInstStanford analysis, commentary, and news
YOUTUBE www.youtube.com/HooverInstitution from the Hoover Institution.
ITUNES itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/hoover-institution Find daily articles, op-eds, blogs,
INSTAGRAM https://instagram.com/hooverinstitution audio, and video in one app.
Spring 2017
HOOVER D IG EST

T HE ECONOM Y
9 Steady and Rising
The American economy, going from strength to strength. By
Edward Paul Lazear

13 The Human Side of Trade


In a dynamic economy, short-term pain is real. But over
the longer term? Free trade leads to better, richer lives. By
Russell Roberts

A M E R ICA N VA LUE S
23 Friedman on Freedom
A society that puts equality ahead of freedom will end up with
neither equality nor freedom. Wisdom from the late, great
Milton Friedman.

32 Make America Exceptional Again


The rule of law, the centerpiece of American exceptionalism,
is under assault. How to halt the predations of the regulatory
state. By John H. Cochrane

42 Rugged Individualism
Two of the gravest threats to this distinctively American
value: nanny states and helicopter parents. By David
Davenport and Gordon Lloyd

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 3
P O L IT IC S
54 The Soft Bigotry of Political Correctness
President Trump has never bowed to the culture of victimization.
His lack of deference could be liberating. By Shelby Steele

58 Winning Women
Woodrow Wilson at first found himself scandalized by
protesting women, but soon he championed their cause. How
President Trump and feminists might likewise make common
cause. By Elizabeth Cobbs

T HE M ID DL E E AST
62 Ten Ways to Rescue Mideast Policy
In the Middle East the previous administration established
neither democracy nor securityand now Russia is on the
scene. By Russell A. Berman and Charles Hill

70 Before Push Comes to Shove


What the president needs to learnfast. By Peter Berkowitz

R USS IA
76 The Russia Question
American relations with Moscow have become a geopolitical
messa mess, very largely, of our own making. By Niall
Ferguson

4 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


86 Break Up the Bromance
Just getting along with Russia isnt going to be good enough. If
the new administration wants a reset of its own, it will need
to demonstrate clarity and strength. By Michael A. McFaul

97 Its Best Not to Mess with Us


The nuclear poker game with Moscow has already begunor,
rather, resumed. By Paul R. Gregory

101 Chicken Soup for the Russian Soul


A strongman with a messianic streak, Vladimir Putin might
almost have stepped from the pages of Russian history. By
Ralph Peters

108 Red Dawn


A hundred years ago, Russias last czar pondered revolution, the
modern world, and the end of the Romanovs. Historian Robert
Service explores the mind of Nicholas II. By Ellie Cawthorne

IN T E LLIGE N C E A ND DE FENSE
117 Trump Versus the Spies
All presidents clash with their intelligence experts, but the
hostility the new administration has displayed is unusualand
risky. By Amy B. Zegart

T HE E N VIR ONME NT
121 Energy Efficiency: Still Low-hanging Fruit
There are still plenty of ways we can use energy more
efficiently. Simple changes would produce large effects. By
James L. Sweeney

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 5
127 Time to Count the CostsAnd Adapt
Environmental activists must quit playing politics and begin to
practice one of the fundamental disciplines of good governance:
weighing benefits against costs. By Gary D. Libecap

133 Inconvenient Math?


On climate change, the uncertainties multiplyliterally. By
Michael S. Bernstam

N AT U RAL R E SOUR C E S
136 Freedom for Indian Country
The federal government has long been proven unworthy of
Indians trust. How the new administration can do better. By
Terry L. Anderson

KOR E A
139 Diplomacy, Not Doomsday
When dealing with North Korea, diplomat and Hoover fellow
William J. Perry advises, set aside the big stickand the Kim
regime might actually listen

C R IM E
143 License to Hate
The label of hate crime is used to score political points,
not to end violence. It should be eliminated. By Victor Davis
Hanson

6 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


E DUCAT ION
146 The Core of a Just Society
Hoover fellow Condoleezza Rice calls for the transformation
of our schools. By Carolyn Phenicie

152 A Chance for Choice


By appointing Betsy DeVos education secretary, President
Trump shows hes listening to parents. By Paul E. Peterson

155 Use Your WordsAnd Your Ideas


Arguments over education have divided America. Heres how
reformers can swap acrimony for action. By Michael J. Petrilli

IN MEMORIAM: SIDNEY D. DRELL, 19262016


160 Farewell to a Citizen-Scientist
Hoover fellow Sidney D. Drell worked with sciences deepest
and most dangerous nuclear secrets, and generations
of American leaders benefited from his guidance. An
appreciation of a physicist, a scholar, and a patriot. By David
E. Hoffman

IN T E RVIE W
166 Wealth, Poverty, and Politics
Theres never been a level playing field, insists economist and
Hoover fellow Thomas Sowell, and we should never have
expected one. By Peter Robinson

HISTORY A ND C ULT URE


176 The Many Lives of Babi Yar
One of the blackest chapters of World War II: the German
massacre of Kyivs Jews. The horror of Babi Yar, suppressed
in the Soviet era, may be finding its proper place in European
memory at last. By Norman M. Naimark

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 7
HOOV E R A R C HIVE S
187 Hoover and the Great Outdoors
A lifelong outdoorsman, Herbert Hoover praised nature as a
font of inspiration, relaxation, and American values. Naturally,
Hoover played an energetic role in developing Americas
national parks. By Jean McElwee Cannon

199 Weapon on the Wall


As World War I raged, posters encouraged, enticed, and even
shamed young Americans into joining the great conflict. By
Jean McElwee Cannon

8 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


T H E ECON OM Y

TH E ECONOMY

Steady and
Rising
The American economy, going from strength to
strength.

By Edward Paul Lazear

A
lexis de Tocqueville, the French philosopher who visited Amer-
ica in the early nineteenth century and published books on his
observations, was the first to refer to Americas economy as
exceptional. This state of things is without a parallel in the his-
tory of the world, he wrote. In America everyone finds facilities unknown
elsewhere for making or increasing his fortune.
Around the time when Tocqueville was writing, Englands per-capita gross
domestic product was 50 percent higher than that of America, according to
a 2014 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Develop-
ment (OECD). But by the early twentieth century the United States had
caught up. Since World War II, the United States has maintained about a 30
percent advantage over the United Kingdom. There is no other G-7 country
that comes close to the United States. Most are about 70 percent as rich on a
per-capita basis.
A sign of economic progress is that most Americans generally do better
than the previous generation, despite some earnings declines over the recent

Edward Paul Lazear is the Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow at
the Hoover Institution, co-chair of Hoovers Conte Initiative on Immigration Re-
form, and the Jack Steele Parker Professor of Human Resources Management and
Economics at Stanford Universitys Graduate School of Business.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 9
past. A 2012 Pew report based on data from the Panel Study of Income
Dynamics reveals that 84 percent of the respondents earn more than their
parents. Admittedly, there is room for improvement, especially by address-
ing those in poverty whose children do not escape that condition. But most
Americans have managed to earn higher incomes than their parents earned.
The same report also documents high income mobility, meaning that those
who are born poor do not necessarily remain poor and those who are rich
come predominantly from
less-wealthy families.
The American worker is both indus- Three-fifths of Americans
trious and mobile. who are now among the
top 20 percent of earn-
ers grew up in families that werent in the top 20 percent. The same is true
for the bottom 20 percent of earners, where almost three-fifths come from
families that were not in the bottom 20 percent.
Another indicator of opportunity is the number of people who would like to
move to the United States. From 2009 through 2014, about one million people a
year succeeded in obtaining immigration status (green cards), but entry quotas
typically left more than four million people waiting to get in each year, accord-
ing to State Department data. In 2010 a survey conducted by the European
Commission asked residents of the European Union in which other countries
they would like to work. Despite the distance from Europe, the winner was the
United States, with 21 percent saying they would like to work here.
What makes the US economy perform well over time and be so attractive
to others? First, Americans are industrious. OECD data compiled between
1991 and 2014 reveal that hours worked per working-age person is highest in
America among the G-7 countries. Hours are about 45 percent higher in the
United States than in France, the lowest of the G-7 countries, but Americans
exceed all other G-7 countries in work effort.
The United States
is a mobile country,
Compared with other G-7 members, the which benefits the
United States is still a low-tax country. economy because resi-
dents move to oppor-
tunity. A 2008 European Commission survey showed that at the beginning of
the twenty-first century Americans were more mobile than residents of all
major EU countries. Americans were more than twice as likely to move as
those in the European Union and five times as likely as Italians, who were the
least mobile population.

10 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]

The American economy also reaps the benefits of a fluid labor market. Last
falls Bureau of Labor Statistics report on job openings and labor turnover
(JOLTS) revealed that in the twelve months ending in October 2016 there
were 62.6 million hires and 60.1 million separations, resulting in net job gain
of just over 2.5 million. The workforce consists of about 150 million workers,
so these statistics imply that on average about two-fifths of the employment
positions experience turnover each year. This remarkable amount of labor
mobility moves workers to the jobs in which they are most productive
Even with increased taxes under the Obama administration, the United
States remains a low-tax country compared with other G-7 countries. The

H O O V E R D IG E S T S p ring 2017 11
OECD reports that the ratio of total taxes to GDP is just over 25 percent in
the United States. Next lowest is Japan with 30 percent. Italy and France
each have tax receipts that equal about 45 percent of GDP.
The United States is a welcoming society, which also contributes to its suc-
cess. One measure of integration is the proportion of immigrants employed
relative to the native-born population. Immigrants have higher unemploy-
ment rates than native-born people in all G-7 countries except the United
States, according to the OECD. For example, Germany has the most extreme
unemployment ratio, with an immigrant unemployment rate of almost 8
percent, 75 percent higher than that of native Germans. In the United States,
the immigrant unemployment rate is about 10 percent lower than the rate of
those born here.
Americans should take pride in a successful past, but more important,
our strong traditions, institutions, and work ethic provide the foundation
for future achievement. For that, even members of the dismal science have
reason to celebrate.

Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2017 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Rules for


International Monetary Stability: Past, Present,
and Future, edited by Michael D. Bordo and John B.
Taylor. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

12 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


T H E ECON OM Y

TH E ECONOMY

The Human Side


of Trade
In a dynamic economy, short-term pain is real. But
over the longer term? Free trade leads to better,
richer lives.

By Russell Roberts

F
ree trade is on the run. The president of the United States calls
the free market the dumb market. He wants to renegotiate trade
deals. The death spiral of manufacturing jobs makes people won-
der if trade with China was really such a good idea. Some econo-
mists claim to have found evidence that increased trade with China causes an
increase in suicide. It is tempting to argue, then, that free trade, while good
for the economy, is not so good for human beings.
Trade has undeniable human costsdislocated and unemployed workers,
some of whom struggle to find dignified ways to support themselves and who
may be left with dreary lives without meaning. What are the benefits? One
benefit is obviousless-expensive clothes, toys, and gadgets. But if thats the
end of the story, its a pretty bad deal.
But its good for the economy! Its efficient! Thats the free market
way! These are inadequate and irrelevant justifications. What we care
about is how trade affects our daily lives as workers and consumers.
If trade is about getting cheap stuff at the price of wrecking millions

Russell Roberts is the John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow at the Hoover
Institution.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 13
of lives, then the American people and their leaders would be right to
reject it.
This standard calculuscheap toys versus lost jobs in manufacturing and
elsewhereis woefully incomplete. It leaves out the most important and
positive impact on our lives that trade provides. To understand the full story,
we have to understand the fundamental connection between trade, produc-
tivity, innovation, and economic growth. Without that understanding you
cannot understand whats going on when we buy toys from China instead of
making them ourselves within our borders.

A PARABLE OF A PILL
So lets start with a seemingly unrelated example that will help us see the
unseen. Suppose a scientist invents a pill that, once you take it, lets you live
until one hundred and twenty with no health issues whatsoever. Once you
turn one hundred and twenty, you die a peaceful death on your birthday. Sup-
pose the scientist, in a gesture of good will, charges $10 for the pill.
Should we let the scientist sell the pill? Is it good for the country? Its good
for almost everyone. But its going to be very hard on a very large group of
people immediately: doctors. Nurses. Health care administrators. People
who build hospitals. People in medical school. People who teach in medical
schools. People in health insurance companies. Pharmaceutical companies.
Researchers. You get the idea: its millions of people. This is a very disruptive
technology.
Whats going to happen to all those people? Mass unemployment. All the
skills of all those people are no longer valued. The past investments made in
those skills are now wasted. Incomes of those workers will plummet over-
night. True, they
also get to live to a
If trade meant getting cheap stuff at the hundred and twenty,
price of wrecking millions of lives, then but their incomes
people and their leaders would be right to are very low and may
stay low for a while.
reject it. But that view is wrong.
They will have to
find new things to do. What will they do? They face a very depressing future.
Theres not much else they can do with the skills they have acquired, so they
will do their best to acquire new ones. The older those workers, the smaller
the chance they will find a meaningful way to spend their remaining time.
Government policy to soften the blow financially would definitely be on the
table, but money is only one part of the challenge facing these unemployed

14 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


workers. Their sense of being important, of mattering . . . their sense of pride
has been destroyed.
Most people would argue that the millions of health care workers have
no right to stop people from living until one hundred and twenty. And on
the surface, thats the whole storylong life and a very tough transition for
millions of people from
lives of financial well-being
and deep satisfaction to a Trade is just another form of creative
much bleaker future. destruction.
But thats not the whole
story. Were missing a huge part of it.
The other important part of the story is that everyone is suddenly a lot
wealthier. All the money we once poured into health care will now be avail-
able to be spent on other things. What are those other things?
We cant know. No one can. But a whole bunch of areas are going to expand
and some of those are going to soak up the time, talents, and energy of former
doctors, health care administrators, and so on. It will take a while for this pro-
cess to work itself out. To the extent health care workers cant do the things
that are newly in demand, their struggle to adjust will be harder. But entre-
preneurs will explicitly look for ways to hire the newly unemployed, knowing
that their talent will be much less expensive to employ. And of course those
unemployed health care workers will be eagerly looking for things to do.
And young people who planned to go to medical school or become chemists
in the pharmaceutical industry or nurses or data analysts in the insurance
business will now turn elsewhere. What will they do instead? They will try to
find skills to invest in that lead to financially and psychologically rewarding
lives. But their opportunities will now be much wider than just something
other than health care. The areas outside health care are now broader
because the increased wealth we all have can now go into new fields and
opportunities.
The economy may be smaller in the short run as these adjustments take
place. GDP may actually fall. But in the long run we are much wealthier as a
nation because we dont have to devote as many resources as we once did to
health care. Your standard of living and mine is going to go up a lot, and that
doesnt even consider the gains from living longer and with better health.
We are not going to just live longer. We are going to get a bunch of addi-
tional things to enjoy in our lives because we dont have to spend as much
on health as we used to. And it wont just be more steak and less hamburger,
though that will happen too. Well have new products and services to enjoy.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 15
Those additional things might include more leisurewe may decide not to
work as hard or as long.
These are the things that happen when there is growth and higher produc-
tivity. But that doesnt change the challenge facing health care workers.
To summarize the effects of the magic pill that lets you live to be a hundred
and twenty:
All people get some benefit from this incredible discovery.
For most people, the gains are enormous and there is no offsetting loss.
For some people, the gains are still enormous, but there is a big loss also.
Theyve lost their jobs and may struggle to find new ones.
Some new products and services are now going to exist because
were wealthier as a nation.
This process is what Schumpeter called creative destruction.
It is the essence of economic change driven by innovation,
which is what Schumpeter was interested in. But trade
is just another form of creative destruction.

LIVING CHANGE
Look again at our magic health pill.
Would any of our conclusions change
if the person who discovered it was
from Mexico or China and we
imported really fantastic
health care through the
magic pill? Most of us

16 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


would still be immensely better off. It would still be
very hard on US health care workers.
You still get to live to one hundred and
twenty.
You still have a huge amount
of money to spend on
something else.

[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]

H O O V E R D IG E S T S p ring 2017 17
Your standard of living goes way up. Lots of other industries expand with
your newfound money thats now available, given that you dont have to pay
for health care.
There are still a whole bunch of new opportunities as Americans spend
more on other things. Whoever makes those things and has the skill to pro-
vide those things or services will benefit.
First lesson: trade and innovation are very similartheyre about find-
ing ways to do more with less. That is the only way to create prosperity for
everyone. But find-
ing more productive
We fear that people with only gen- ways of acquiring good
eral skillsare going to struggle to find health or automobiles
appealing and lucrative kinds of work. may be hard on individ-
uals in transition. The
shorter the transition, the harder it is to adjust. The magic pill dramatizes
the magnitude of the gains the abruptness of economic transition.
Lets take a real example nowthe transformation of agriculture in the
United States in the twentieth century, driven by innovation. Because of that
innovation, farm productivity is way up. Output per acre is way up. Output
per worker is way up.
That has meant cheap food rather than just a lot of rich farmers. Competi-
tion among farmers forced them to share the gains widely with the entire
country and the world. (I know its not all rosythere are complications
from the fact that weve subsidized food production artificially through
government policy with lots of unintended consequences. Lets stick with the
productivity side here.)
The productivity revolution was very tough for some farmers, especially
those who wanted their kids to inherit the farm and work the land as they
did. The low prices made it hard for thousands of small farmers to survive.
Some couldnt make their mortgage payments and lost their farms. Some
just absorbed a lower standard of living and their children, seeing that,
decided it would be better to do something else. They headed to the cities
to find a path toward a meaningful life different from the one their parents
chose.
And the choices available to the next generation and the ones that came
after werent the same. They were a lot better because people no longer had
to spend as much on food.
In 1900, about 40 percent of the American workforce was in agriculture.
Now its about 2 percent. If you went back in time and told the 1900 farmer

18 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


that employment change was coming, that farmer would weep in sorrow at
the thought of the riots in the streets and mass starvation and lack of work
opportunities for their children and grandchildren. But if you could bring
that farmer to the present to see the full story, everything would be different.
Is there a farmer from 1900 who would be sad today to see his descendants
leading longer, more interesting lives, doing things that didnt exist in 1900
and that are able to exist because we dont have to put 40 percent of the
workforce on the farm? Having only 2 percent on the farm is a feature, not
a bug. Its a good thing. Its a glorious thing. It allowed the creation of all the
glorious things that would amaze the farmer brought into the presentthe
smartphones and the artificial knees and the YouTube videos, and cross-
country travel and cars and the longer life expectancy and everything else we
didnt have in 1900 that makes life more pleasant and even more meaningful
for the children and grandchildren of the farmers of 1900.
Bring those farmers into the present and theyd weep again, but this time
for joy at the ease and wealth and safety of their descendants lives that they
couldnt dream of when they were living through the tough times.
In 1920 or 1940, Im sure many farmers mourned the loss of their farms and
the hardships along the way, but they couldnt see the whole story. It turned
out pretty well.
Would that story be
any different if it had Protectionism is a form of forced
been cheap imports of charity. And it cuts off innova-
food instead of technol-
tions and products we havent even
ogy that made food
cheaper? Not really. Both
thought of yet.
make most of us a lot
better off. Both challenge farmers to get by. Both mean fewer Americans can
make a living as farmers. Both mean the children and grandchildren of farm-
ers are much better off because theres a wider array of alternatives. Those
new jobs and innovations are possible only because we dont have to have 40
percent of the population producing food. Importing cheap food would do the
same thing. Just like cheap imported televisions, or all the other products
that now use fewer American workers to make them.

LEARNING FOR LIFE


Trade and innovation are ways to get more from less. Ways to be more
productive. Ways to increase our standard of living overall, though not every
single person will benefit. But when we find ways to get more from less, that

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 19
means more resources available to expand opportunities elsewhere in the
economy. That expansion is unseen; you have to think through the logic to
see that part of the impact on our lives. But its hugely important.
The magic pill was overnight. The agriculture revolution took decades. The
transition of that real example, while still painful, was made easier because
it took a while for it to happen. And that brings us to the latest revolution in
the American economy, the transition out of manufacturing employment. In
America we make a lot more stuff than we did fifty years ago, or even twenty
years ago. But because the machinery and computers we use in manufactur-
ing are so much better, we dont need as many people in manufacturing, just
like farming.
At the same time, factories have moved overseas. Both trade and innova-
tion have led to fewer manufacturing jobs in America. And the pace is some-
thing between overnight and the slow transition out of agricultural employ-
ment. In the past fifteen years, America has lost five million manufacturing
jobs. But overall, the United States has added twelve million jobs since 2000.
The worry is that not
enough of the manu-
Trade and innovation are the same facturing workers have
thing: ways to get more from less. found good alternatives.
The worry is that they
are more like doctors than the children of farmers in my previous examples.
They are struggling to find uses for their skills. Its not as simple as the chil-
dren of farmers, who headed into the cities when they realized that farming
was going to be a lot tougher than before.
I dont think we know just how easy or how hard it has been for out-of-
work manufacturing workers to find new jobs. What I do know is that the
question of whether trade with China or the increased use of technology in
manufacturing has been good for America isnt just about those lost jobs ver-
sus cheap toys. What we must remember is that spending less on toys (and
clothes and cars and smartphones) creates a lot of opportunity elsewhere.
Thats why trade and innovation and growth matter. That has allowed the
American workforce to expand by twelve million jobs since 2000 even in the
face of a horrific recession in 2008.
But I understand that its not easy being an out-of-work manufacturing
worker who is competing not just with Chinese workers but with robots. And
the long run may be even harder. Is this a short-term problema mediocre
recovery from the recession of 2008? Or is this a longer-term problem that
might not get better for a long time?

20 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


The fear is that people with very general skillsthe ability to show up
on time and do physical laborare going to struggle to find appealing and
lucrative kinds of work.
I once debated the North American Free Trade Agreement on the south
side of St. Louis, surrounded by autoworkers who were threatened by open
trade with Mexico. A machinist told me he had already been out of work for
years. What are you going to do for me? he asked.
I didnt tell him to find comfort in the fact that his children were going
to lead better lives. I wasnt sure what to tell him. So I asked him what he
wanted. Did he want a check?
He said, I want my job back.
I think he really wanted back his pride and dignity. What makes us happy,
what makes our lives feel meaningful, isnt money.
Heres the problem: the only way to get him his job back was to keep
people from buying cars they preferred to buy elsewhere and force up the
prices of those cars and have him share in that. Its a form of charity; you just
dont see it. Thats the problem with protectionism as a way of helping those
out-of-work workers. Not only is it charity, but it destroys the expansion of
opportunities that trade and innovation create.
That last point has been lost in the recent euphoria in some quarters over
saved manufacturing jobs. Its obvious how this creates incentives for business-
es to cozy up to the president instead of trying to improve their products and
please their customers. But invisible in this discussion are the jobs that will not
get created if we deliberately give an artificial advantage to more-expensive
products on made in America grounds. Protectionism and special subsidies
save certain kinds of jobs while keeping other jobs from coming into being.
The easy alternative is to put workers whose skills are obsolete on some
kind of welfare. This is presumably what people mean when they say we
have to spread the gains from trade more evenly. But if people really are
more likely to kill themselves when they find themselves in competition with
foreign workers, I dont think a welfare check is much of a solution.
If we care about human dignity and human flourishing, we need to give
people something other than just money. We need to give them the oppor-
tunity to be part of the economy that is coming in this century, an economy
where robots and computers may end up doing a lot of things people used
to do.
That opportunity requires education.
Easy to say. What does that mean? I dont know the answer to that ques-
tion with any precision. It does appear that people without a college degree

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 21
seem to have fewer choices than they once did, and those choices dont seem
very fulfillingnot just financially, but emotionally.
I think we must be open to a radical reimagining of education that goes
way beyond fighting over the Common Core, for example. An education that
prepares people to participate in an economy with limited opportunities for
people who know how to do only repetitive tasks. Those tasks are going to
the robots.
To summarize: lately weve been hearing that globalization is some kind
of scam to enrich corporations and international banks. I think thats false.
Trade makes most of us better off and that in turn allows for growth and
innovation that benefits almost all of us, especially our children and grand-
children. But its a bumpy road and I think we need to be aware that for some
people, especially the least educated, trade and technology are creating a
world that is a lot less satisfying for them to live in.
Letting those people flourish is not going to be solved by sending them a
check, and I doubt its going to be solved by trade barriers. Technology is
going to make their lives challenging anyway; dont think thats going to be
banned or stopped.
That leaves education, which we ought to fix anyway. Its time to stop
treating our high schools as places to prepare people to take the SAT or ACT
exams. We need more technical schools, more schools that teach people how
to code, more choices for people to figure out what they like or love to do with
their time and with their lives that other people value so they can prosper
both financially and psychologically. Ultimately, human flourishing is all that
matters.

Special to the Hoover Digest. Read more from Russell Roberts on


Medium.com (https:medium.com/@russroberts).

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is


Inequality and Economic Policy: Essays in Memory of
Gary Becker, edited by Tom Church, Chris Miller, and
John B. Taylor. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit
www.hooverpress.org.

22 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


A M E R I CA N VA LUE S

AMERI CAN VALUE S

Friedman on
Freedom
A society that puts equality ahead of freedom
will end up with neither equality nor freedom.
Wisdom from the late, great Milton Friedman.

By Milton Friedman

Milton Friedman delivered this talk, titled Say No to Intolerance, at the Future
of Freedom Conference of the International Society for Individual Liberty in San
Francisco on August 14, 1990.

T
hank you very much. Im embarrassed by that introduction and
by your welcoming of me, because Im afraid that you might
not be quite so enthusiastic at the end of the talk. The virtue
of being among people with whom you agree fundamentally
is that you can talk about some of the harder issues, which you dont want
to talk about in other circles. I want tonight to talk about basic libertar-
ian beliefs and values. (I refer to myself as a liberal in the true meaning of
that term: a believer in freedom. Unfortunately, weve had to use the word

Milton Friedman, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize for economic sci-
ence, was a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution from 1977 to 2006.
He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of
Science in 1988. Robert Leeson was a W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-
Campbell National Fellow for 20067 at the Hoover Institution. Charles G. Palm
is the deputy director emeritus of the Hoover Institution. Leeson and Palm are the
co-editors of Milton Friedman on Freedom (Hoover Institution Press, 2017),
from which this essay is derived.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 23
libertarian because, as Schumpeter said, As a supreme if unintended
compliment, the enemies of the system of private enterprise have thought
it wise to appropriate its label.) As a long-time liberal-libertarian, I am
puzzled by a paradox. On the one hand, I regard the basic human value that
underlies my own beliefs as tolerance, based on humility. I have no right
to coerce someone else, because I cannot be sure that I am right and he is
wrong. On the other handand this is the paradoxsome of our heroes,
people who have done the most to promote libertarian ideas, have been
highly intolerant as human beings, and have justified their views (with
which I largely agree) in ways that I regard as promoting intolerance.
Equally important, as I have observed the libertarian movement, theres a
related strand of utopianism in the libertarian movement that I believe is
also productive of intolerance and is fundamentally inconsistent with the
basic values that I believe we stand for.

THE VIRTUES OF TOLERANCE


Why do I regard tolerance as the foundation of my belief in freedom? How
do we justify not initiating coercion? If I asked you what is the basic philoso-
phy of a libertarian, I believe that most of you would say that a libertarian
philosophy is based on the premise that you should not initiate force, that you
may not initiate coercion. Why not?
If we see someone doing something wrong, someone starting to sin (to use
a theological term), let alone just making a simple mistake, how do we justify
not initiating coercion? Are we not sinning if we dont stop him? Only two
bases for a negative answer occur to me that make any sense. Onewhich I
regard as largely an evasionis that theres no virtue in his not sinning if hes
not free to sin. That may be true. But then, that doesnt apply to me. It may
be no virtue for him. That doesnt mean I should let him sin: am I not sinning
when I let him sin? How do I justify letting him sin? I believe that the more
persuasive answer is, can I be sure hes sinning? Can I be sure that I am right
and he is wrong? That I know what sin is?
This is a complicated and difficult problem. Let me give an extreme
example. I am on the Golden Gate Bridge and I see someone getting ready
to jump. Hes going to commit suicide. Am I entitled to use physical coercion
to stop him, assuming that I am capable of doing so? On the libertarian basis
of not initiating coercion, one would have to say no. Yet I am sure that most
of you, like me, would stop him if we could. Wed grab him. Wed justify that
temporarily by saying He doesnt really intend to do that and its irreversible
and weve got to stop him from doing something irreversible.

24 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]
We grab him. We hold on to him. And he gives a perfectly plausible reason
why he wants to commit suicide. Are you going to let him go? In principle you
should say yes. In practice, I doubt very much that many of us, assuming that
we had the power to hold him, would just let him go.
What this demonstrates, fundamentally, is that no simple principle is really
adequate. We do not have all the answers, and there is no simple formula
that will give us all the answers. Thats why humility, tolerance, is so basic,
so fundamental. Because the only way that we can get a little closer to those
fundamental principles is by being tolerant, by considering and respecting
the opinions of people who disagree with us.
And yet, as Ive already said, how can we square that with the intolerance
demonstrated by people who deservedly are heroes to libertarians? There
is no doubt in my mind that Ludwig von Mises has done more to spread the
fundamental ideas of free markets than any other individual. There is no
doubt in my mind that nobody has done more than Ayn Rand to develop a
popular following for many of these ideas. And yet there is also no doubt that
both of them were extremely intolerant.
I recall a personal episode, at the first meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society
the founding meeting in 1947 in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland. Ludwig von Mises
was one of the people who were there. I was also. The group had a series of
discussions on different topics. One afternoon, the discussion was on the distri-
bution of income, taxes, progressive taxes, and so on. The people in that room
included Friedrich von Hayek, Fritz Machlup, George Stigler, Frank Knight,
Henry Hazlitt, John Jewkes, Lionel Robbins, Leonard Readhardly a group
whom you would regard as leftists. In the middle of that discussion von Mises
got up and said, Youre all a bunch of socialists, and stomped out of the room.
You need only read Barbara Brandens The Passion of Ayn Rand, a fascinating
book, to recognize that what Ive said applies to Rand as well. Barbara Branden
tells a story that refers to both Rand and von Mises: One evening, the Hazlitts
[that was Henry Hazlitt, whom I mentioned] invited Ayn and Frank to dinner
with Dr. and Mrs. von Mises. The evening was a disaster. It was the first time
Ayn had discussed moral philosophy in depth with either of the two men. My
impression, she was to say, was that von Mises did not care to consider moral
issues, and Henry was seriously committed to altruism. . . . We argued quite
violently. At one point von Mises lost his patience and screamed at me. We did
not part enemiesexcept for von Mises at the moment; about a year later he
and I met at a conservative dinner and his wife made peace between us.
The important thing to me is less their intolerance in personal behavior
than the philosophical doctrines on which they claimed to base their views,

26 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


On freedom, belief, and humility

A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that


it does this task so well: it gives people what they want instead
of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underly-
ing most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in
freedom itself.

Freedom to advocate unpopular causes does not require that


such advocacy be without cost. On the contrary, no society could
be stable if advocacy of radical change were costless, much less
subsidized. It is entirely appropriate that men make sacrifices
to advocate causes in which they deeply believe. Indeed, it is
important to preserve freedom only for those people who are
willing to practice self-denial, for otherwise freedom degener-
ates into license and irresponsibility. What is essential is that
the cost of advocating unpopular causes be tolerable and not
prohibitive.

The enemies of a free society, the forces that are working


against it, are so strong that the major thing, in my opinion,
that prevents them from conquering is that a free society is so
productive that it tends to overwhelm those other forces if given
half a chance.

The basic virtue in a free society and the basic justification


for a free society is humility, a willingness to recognize that no
matter how strongly one may believe he is correct, he cannot
be sure. Hence he does not have the right to force his view on
someone else.
Excerpted from Milton Friedman on Freedom: Selections from The Collected
Works of Milton Friedman, compiled and edited by Robert Leeson and Charles G.
Palm. 2017 by The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.
All rights reserved.
which seem to me to be fundamentally a source of intellectual intolerance. So
far as von Mises is concerned, I refer to his methodological doctrine of prax-
eology. Thats a fancy word and it may seem highly irrelevant to my topic, but
it isnt at all. Because his fundamental idea was that we knew things about
human action (the title of his famous book) because we are human beings.
As a result, he argued, we have absolutely certain knowledge of the motiva-
tions of human action and he maintained that we can derive substantive
conclusions from that basic knowledge. Facts, statistics, or other evidence
cannot, he argued,
be used to test those
Simple slogans like the market will take conclusions, but only
care of it or noninterventionism do to illustrate a theory.
They cannot be used
not resolve the hard problems.
to contradict a theory,
because we are not generalizing from observed evidence but from innate
knowledge of human motives and behavior.
That philosophy converts an asserted body of substantive conclusions into
a religion. They do not constitute a set of scientific propositions that you can
argue about in terms of empirical evidence. Suppose two people who share
von Misess praxeological view come to contradictory conclusions about any-
thing. How can they reconcile their difference? The only way they can do so is
by a purely logical argument. One has to say to the other, You made a mistake
in reasoning. And the other has to say, No, you made a mistake in reason-
ing. Suppose neither believes he has made a mistake in reasoning. Theres
only one thing left to do: fight. Karl Popperanother Austrian, like Mises and
Hayektakes a different approach. If we disagree, we can say to one another,
You tell me what facts, if they were observed, you would regard as sufficient
to contradict your view. And vice versa. Then we can go out and see which, if
either, conclusion the evidence contradicts. The virtue of this modern scientif-
ic approach, as proposed by Popper, is that it provides a way in which, at least
in principle, we can resolve disagreements without a conflict.
So much for von Mises. Thats a very brief statement and I recognize that it
doesnt do justice to either praxeology or Popper. But thats not relevant here.
The same thing is true of Ayn Rand, as her phrase about Hazlitts supposed
commitment to altruism suggests. Rand did not regard facts as relevant,
as ways of testing her propositions. She derived everything from the basic
proposition that A=A. And from that follows everything. But if it does, again,
suppose two Objectivists, two disciples of Ayn Rand, disagree, or that a
disciple disagrees with her. Both agree that A is A. Theres no disagreement

28 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


about that. But for one reason or another they have different views on
another subject. How do they reconcile that difference? There is no way. And
thats the basic reason for the stories that Barbara Branden tells in The Pas-
sion of Ayn Rand about what happened when people disagreed in any minute
detail with Ayn Rand.

GETTING FROM HERE TO THERE


I believe that theres an enormous paradox there. But dont misunderstand
me. Nothing I say lessens my admiration in any way for the role that both von
Mises and Rand played in promoting the ideas of liberty and free markets.
And yet I believe that they teach both a positive and a negative lesson. The
negative lesson is that we must beware of intolerance if were going to be
really effective in persuading people. The writings of both Rand and von
Misesand much libertarian literaturetake for granted that hard ques-
tions have easy answers, that its possible to know something about the real
world, to derive substantive conclusions, from purely a priori principles.
Let me take a real example. How many times have you heard someone
say that the answer to a problem is that you simply have to make it private
property. But is private property such an obvious notion? Does it come out
of the soul?
I have a house. It belongs to me. You fly an airplane over my house, 20,000
feet up. Are you violating my private property? You fly over at 50 feet. You
might give a different answer. Your house is next door. You have a hi-fi sys-
tem. You play your hi-fi at an enormously high decibel count. Are you violat-
ing my private property?
Those are questions
to which you cant get Jacob Hornberger wrote, What is
answers by introspec- the answer to socialism in public
tion or asking whether schools? Freedom. Correct. But how
A is A or not. They are do we get from here to there?
practical questions that
require answers based on experience. Before there were airplanes, nobody
thought of the problem of trespass through air. So simply saying private
property is a mantra, not an answer. Simply saying use the market is not
an answer.
Let me give you two recent examples that also are relevant to the same
themeutopianism. Ill touch on them very briefly: school vouchers and
negative income tax. Schooling is, next only to national defense, the largest
socialist enterprise in the United States. And it is clearly as much of a failure

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 29
as the socialist enterprises in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, or East
Germany. It shares the characteristic features of those failures. The charac-
teristic feature of socialist failure is that you have a group, the nomenklatura,
who do very well, you have masses who do very poorly, and the system as a
whole is highly
inefficient. Thats
It is of course desirable to have a vision of
exactly the case
the ideal, of Utopia. But we cant stop there. with our school
If we do, we become a cult or a religion, and system. Those of
not a living, vital force. us who happen to
live in high-income
suburbs, as well as high-paid teachers and teacher-administrators, do very
well out of the system. The poor suckers who live in the ghetto or who dont
have any money, they do very poorly out of the system. The system as a
whole takes two or three times as many resources to operate as are neces-
sary, and it doesnt do a good job when it does. So its clearly a failure.
In the Future of Freedom Foundations Freedom Daily for September
1990again, a group that is doing good work and is making an impact
Jacob Hornberger wrote, What is the answer to socialism in public schools?
Freedom. Correct. But how do we get from here to there? Is that somebody
elses problem? Is that a purely practical problem that we can dismiss? The
ultimate goal we would like to get to is a society in which people are respon-
sible for themselves and for their childrens schooling. And in which you do
not have a governmental system. But am I a statist, as I have been labeled by
a number of libertarians, because some thirty years ago I suggested the use
of educational vouchers as a way of easing the transition? Is that, and I quote
Hornberger again, simply a futile attempt to make socialism work more
efficiently? I dont believe it. I dont believe that you can simply say what the
ideal is. This is what I mean by the utopian strand in libertarianism. You can-
not simply describe the utopian solution, and leave it to somebody else how
we get from here to there. Thats not only a practical problem. Its a problem
of the responsibilities that we have.
The same issue arises with respect to welfare, Social Security, and the
rest. It may be that the ideal isand I believe that it isto have a society in
which you do not have any kind of major or substantial governmental system
of welfare. Again, nearly thirty years ago I suggested, as a way of promoting
a transition from here to there, a negative income tax as a substitute for and
alternative to the present rag bag of welfare and redistributionist measures.
Again, is that a statist solution? I believe not. We have participated in a

30 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


society in which people have become dependent on government handouts.
It is irresponsible, immoral I would say, simply to say, Oh well, somehow or
other well overnight drop the whole thing. You have to have some mecha-
nism of going from here to there. I believe that we lose a lot of plausibility for
our ideas by not facing up to that responsibility.
It is of course desirable to have a vision of the ideal, of Utopia. Far be it
from me to denigrate that. But we cant stop there. If we do, we become a cult
or a religion, and not a living, vital force. These comments apply, I believe, to
the largest socialist enterprise in the United States as well. That is, of course,
national defense. Like everyone else in this room, I am appalled by the waste
of the defense industry. I am sure that if you and I could only run it, we could
do it for half the money, and do it a lot better. But although I have tried for
many years to figure out a way in which we could run defense as a private
enterprise, and despite the hopes of some anarchist libertarians, like my son,
that we can, I have to admit that after some thirty years now, hes never been
able to persuade me that we could. I suppose that just shows how intoler-
ant I am. At any rate, simple slogans like The market will take care of it or
noninterventionism do not resolve the hard problems. We may very well
agree on the direction we want to go in, but just how were going to go there
and how far were going to go, thats a much more difficult problem.
Let me close by noting that admirers of von Mises seldom quote the fol-
lowing of his statements: Government as such is not only not an evil but the
most necessary and beneficial institution, as without it no lasting cooperation
and no civilization could be developed and preserved. Now thats an idea to
chew over.

Adapted from Milton Friedman on Freedom: Selections from The Col-


lected Works of Milton Friedman, compiled and edited by Robert Leeson
and Charles G. Palm. 2017 by The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stan-
ford Junior University. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Milton


Friedman on Freedom: Selections from The Collected
Works of Milton Friedman, edited by Robert Leeson
and Charles G. Palm. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or
visit www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 31
AMERI CAN VALUE S

AMERI CAN VALUE S

Make America
Exceptional
Again
The rule of law, the centerpiece of American
exceptionalism, is under assault. How to halt the
predations of the regulatory state.

By John H. Cochrane

T
o be a conservativeor, in my
Key points
case, an empirical, Pax Ameri-
The ideas behind Ameri-
cana, rule-of-law, constitutional- can exceptionalism have
ist conservative libertarianis led to the most dramatic
improvement in widely
pretty much by definition to believe that shared human well-being
America is exceptional, and that she is in history.

perpetually in danger of losing that precious The gains are not just ma-
terial but in health, lifespan,
characteristic. Exceptionalism is not natural
peace, and any measure of
or inborn, but must be understood, cher- human prosperity.
ished, maintained, and renewed each genera- Democracy without rule
tionand her garden is always perilously of law produces neither
prosperity nor freedom, and
unattended. is easily subverted.
Like every word describing beliefs, how- Basic rights are vanishing
ever, exceptionalism is a slippery concept. into the regulatory state.

John H. Cochrane is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

32 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Americas detractors often use the same word pejoratively and derisively.
To them, exceptionalism means a parochial and ignorant moral superiority.
We are not the first or only society to see itself as exceptional, different, or
somehow better than everyone else.
So why is America exceptional, in the good sense? Here, I think, economics
provides a crucial answer. The ideas that American exceptionalism pro-
pounds have led to the most dramatic improvement in widely shared human
well-being in history. That improvement is not just material but in health,
lifespan, peace, and any measure of human prosperity. Yes, despite the hor-
rors we read from the worlds war zones and some of our own cities, violence
remains on a steady decline.
Aesop tells of a hungry wolf who meets and admires a well-fed dog. But the
wolf sees the dogs collar, says no thanks, and walks off. Fortunately, we do not
face the wolfs conundrum. We do not have to argue for a moral superiority of
freedom while asking for material sacrifice: the wolf is both well-fed and free.
Despite the promises of monarchs, autocrats, dictators, commissars, cen-
tral planners, socialists, industrial-policy makers, progressive nudgers, and
assorted dirigistes, it is liberty and rule of law that has led to this enormous
progress. To the Chinese argument, say, that their ancient culture demands
authoritarianism, a simple reply suffices: you, $7,000 per capita GDP and
filthy air. Us: $52,000 per capita and a clean environment.
I do not think this outcome was intentional. Neither our founders nor those
who built the British institutions which the founders improved had any idea
of the material progress their invention would father, nor that the United
States would rise to lead the world to a seventy-year Pax Americana. Jeffer-
son envisioned a bucolic agrarian society. Washington warned against foreign
entanglements. A system designed only to defend individual liberty uninten-
tionally unleashed vast material and international benefits.
Of course, the foundations of this prosperity in rule of law, security of proper-
ty, and internal peace, are not ours alone. America was built on British institu-
tions, and the Industrial Revolution started there. Other countries have adopted
many of these institutions, and joined in prosperity to the extent that they do so.
Without this economic success, I doubt that anyone would call America
exceptional. Imagine that China were seven times as productive per capita
as we are, rather than the other way around. Or, imagine that great natural
experiment, North Korea versus South Korea. North Korea also claims to be
exceptional. The rest of the world regards it as an exceptional basket case.
In fact, the core of exceptionalist faith describes its own undoing. If Ameri-
can values are indeed universal, if Americas exceptional role is to bring these

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 33
ideas to the world, then when the world does adopt those ideas, America
must become somewhat less exceptional. America is already less unusual
than it was at its founding and through the eras of monarchies, of great
dictators, and of Soviet communism, when Americas detractors insisted she
would be just one more short-lived republic.
But the process is far from over. The United States remains the essen-
tial, exceptional, nation. All the great ideas for the next advances in human
well-being are being made here. Computers and the Internet, biotech,
genetics, the microbiome. Most important, the great ideas
are being implemented here: the new companies are
American.

[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]

34 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


More darkly, any hope for dispelling the worlds gathering storm clouds
resides in the United States. If we fail to revive our exceptionalism, and very
soon, the consequences will be truly terrifying: chaos in the Middle East,
more swarms of refugees. Forcible expansion by Russia and China. The use
of nuclear weapons. Pandemics of people, animals, or cropsdiseases that
often follow waves of globalization.
Its time to focus on the second item of a conservatives faith, that its all in
danger of falling apart.

THE RULE OF LAW


I locate the core source of Americas exceptional nature in our legal system
the nexus of constitutional government, artfully created with checks and bal-
ances, and rule of law that guides our affairs. And that is also where I locate
the greatest danger at the moment.
Without rule of law, any American character for innovation is quickly
squashed.
Rule of law means the rights of the accused to know charges against
them, to see evidence, to confront witnesses; the right of free speech
and especially unwelcome political speech; the separation of
prosecution and judges; grand juries to weigh evidence,
and warrants for searches; the right to property, what
that right means, and courts that will defend it; the
delicate constitutional checks and balances that keep
majorities from running amok and delay awful ideas
until enthusiasm passes; a free press, which can
expose corruption.
Even democracy lives only atop rule of law.
We are a republic, not a democracy, and for
good reasons. Democracy is fundamentally
a check on tyranny, not a good way to run
day-to-day public affairs. Democracy
without rule of law produces neither
prosperity nor freedom. Even
countries such as Venezuela
and Russia go through
the motions of elec-
tions, but in

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 35
such places you cant get a building permit without connections or speak out
against the government without losing your job. Rule of law without democ-
racy can function for a time, and tends to produce democracy. America lived
for one hundred and fifty years under rule of law while still a monarchy.
And without rule of law, democracy is soon subverted. Those in govern-
ment are always tempted
to use the governments
A system designed only to defend power to silence opposi-
individual liberty unintentionally tion and cement their
unleashed vast material and interna- hold on power, and ruin
tional benefits. the economy in the pro-
cess. Thats our danger.
If speaking out for a candidate or a policy question such as climate change,
or working on behalf of a losing party earns you the tender attentions of the
SEC, IRS, EPA, CFPB, NLRB, and increasingly the DOJ and the FBI, it does
not matter who votes.
The erosion of rule of law is all around us. I see it most strongly in the
explosion of the administrative, regulatory state. Most of the laws we face
are not, in fact, laws, written by a legislature and signed by an executive as
we are taught in school. They are regulations, promulgated by agencies.
This made sense, initially. For example, it does not make sense for Congress
to write the criteria for maintaining an airliner. But now that system has spi-
raled out of control. The Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank are poster chil-
dren. Their enabling acts go on for thousands of pages. The subsidiary regula-
tions go on for tens of thousands. The letters and statements of interpretation
and guidance, now essentially laws of their own, go on for even more.
Were these rules that one could read and follow, it wouldnt be so bad. But
rules are so vague and complex that nobody knows what they really mean.
Companies cant just read those rules. They must ask for regulator approval
ahead of time, which can take years and leads to arbitrary results.
Hence, the rules really just mean discretion for the regulators to do what
they wantor to coerce behavior they wish out of companies by the threat of
an arbitrary and adverse decision. Anyone can be found guilty at any timeif
the regulator chooses to single them out, as an Environmental Protection
Agency administrator once said, for crucifixion.
Richard Epstein calls the system government by waiver. The law and
regulations are impossible to comply with, so business after business asks
for waivers. But you would be unwise to object too loudly to the actions of the
agency or the administration it serves if you want a waiver.

36 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


On top of laws, rules, and judicial interpretations, now agencies write
guidance letters to state their interpretation of a rule, and these become
laws of their own.

PREDATORY REGULATORS
The basic rights that citizens are supposed to have in the law are also van-
ishing in the regulatory state. The agency is prosecutor, judge, jury, appeal
court, executioner, and recipient of fine money, all rolled in to one. You do not
have conventional rights to see evidence and calculations, discover informa-
tion, or challenge witnesses. Agencies change their interpretation of the law,
and come after their victims ex post facto. Retroactive decisions are com-
mon, never mind the constitutional prohibition on bills of attainder.
The expansion of the regulatory state, and disappearance of rule of law in
its operation, is already having an economic impact. The long-term growth
rate of the US economy has been cut in half, driven largely by anemic
investment.
I fear even more the political impact. The point of rule of law is to keep
government from using law for political purposes. As we lose rule of law in
the regulatory state, its politicization is inevitable.
The drive to criminalize regulatory witch hunts and go after the executives
means one thing: those executives had better make sure their organizations
stay in line. ITT Technical Institute was closed down as part of the previous
administrations war
on for-profit educa-
tion. (Laureate Inter- The rules really just mean discretion
national Universities, for the regulators to do what they want.
the for-profit college
that coincidentally paid Bill Clinton $17.6 million as honorary chancellor,
was not.) The Securities and Exchange Commission has egged on ambitious
state attorneys general to sue Exxon, under securities law, for insufficient
piety over climate change. Big settlements with banks have channeled mil-
lions of dollars to left-wing and Democratic Party political advocacy groups.
The classic analysis of regulation says it leads to capture: the industry
captures the regulator, they get cozy, and regulation ends up being used to
stifle competition in the industry. Capture is now going the other way. Health
insurers, banks, and energy companies are slowly being captured by the
politicized regulators. Yes, they still get protection, but they must do the
regulator and administrations political bidding. And a constant stream of
CEO show trials and criminal investigations keeps them in line.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 37
Campaign finance law is precisely about regulating speech, and about the
government deciding who can support whom in an election. Corporations
will be forced to disclose contributions. Unions will not.
The key attribute that makes America exceptionaland prosperousis
that you can afford to lose an election. Grumble, sit back, regroup, and try again
next time. You wont lose your job or your business. You wont suddenly have
trouble getting permits and approvals. You wont have alphabet-soup agents
at your door. You wont
see prosecutions of your
Each division of class, race, or income political associations. In
is a client usefully exploited for politi- many countries, people
cal advantage. cant afford to lose elec-
tions. Those in power do
not give it up easily. Those out of power are reduced to violence.
Perhaps I am guilty of nostalgia, but I sense that once upon a time, those
in American public life believed that their first duty was to keep alive the
beautiful structure of American government, and the policy passion of the
day came second and within that constraint.
We are suffering now a devotion to outcome, to winning the momentary bat-
tle at any cost. Legislation that passes by one vote? Fine. Regulations written
far past enabling authority? Go for it. Executive order in place of law or regula-
tion? Do it. Just write a letter of interpretation to tell them what to do. Shove
it down their throats. But when policies are adopted without at least grudging
consensus that the battle was fairly won, you cant afford to lose an election.
The idea of rule of law, the reverence for process over outcome, seems to be
disappearing. Few college seniors will have any notion of it; even basic civics
courses are pass. Many on both sides of the partisan divide ignore it. Our many
foreign policy misadventures have a common theme: forgetting that all societies
need rule-of-law foundations, not just the superficial exercise of voting.
Rule of law, then, depends on a culture that respects it, and that culture
depends on some understanding of how it works. Like medieval peasants
looking up in wonder at Roman concrete structures, having lost the recipe,
our children may wonder just how the architecture of a broken system once
worked its marvels. And the Romans lasted a thousand years. Pax Ameri-
cana seems to be running out of steam at a mere two hundred and fifty.

OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL


Our governments purpose is set forth in the Declaration of Independence:
to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, period. Government

38 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


does not exist to lead us to some grander purpose: the advancement of the
Christian faith or the restoration of the caliphate; the spread of communism
on earth; the greatness of our kultur, or the glorious American Nation. When
President Kennedy said ask not what your country can do for youask
what you can do for your country, he had it precisely wrong.
Yes, American exceptionalists wish to spread their ideas to the world,
but not to subjugate those people to some greater cause. The goal is merely
to allow those people, too, to pursue life, liberty, and happiness as they see
it. A central article of exceptionalist faith is that American institutions are
universal. We deny that they are specific to a culture orheavensto a race.
People everywhere want freedom, and can learn to use American institutions
to get it as quickly as they can learn to use an American iPhone to order
American pizza.
Most of all, government to the exceptionalist does not exist to further the
ethnic or religious identity of a people. Throughout the world, governments
parcel out the spoils of power along ethnic and religious lines. Each losing
ethnic or religious group then needs its own government to defend its simple
economic and expressive rights.
Multicultural and multiethnic empires have existed before. But by and
large they were empires of tolerance, not right, and they extracted resources
from citizens equally rather than served them equally. In the United States,
the children of Serbs and Croats, of Indians and Pakistanis, of Catholics and
Protestants and Muslims and Jews, live side by side and intermarry. None
imagine that they need a government run by one of their own ethnic group
or religion to get a business permit, for example. The idea that government
serves to foster their eth-
nic or religious identity
quickly becomes foreign. A key attribute that makes America
But how quaint this exceptionaland prosperousis that
melting pot view you can afford to lose an election.
seems now! That ideal
disappeared first from our foreign policy. For a hundred years, the United
States has stood behind ethnic or religious governments, happily playing one
against the other, and not once saying you know, we have a better idea for
managing this, one where you wont be at each others throats for another
century or so.
The exceptional ideal is now vanishing domestically as well. Our gov-
ernment requires us to fill out forms with fine racial categorizations. The
core principlethat to be treated fairly by the law you do not need to be

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 39
represented by a police officer, mayor, congressman, senator, or president of
your own particular racial, ethnic, or religious identityis not only fading,
but its opposite is enshrined in law. True, these measures stemmed from the
overturning of the even more egregious violation of American principles in
laws governing African-Americans, not only in the Jim Crow South but in the
segregated North. But we still paid lip service to the ideal.
A country that believes, and enshrines in law, the principleopposed to
everything in American exceptionalismthat you cannot be treated fairly by
a government unless the officials of that government share your exact racial,
ethnic, religious, and soon, gender identity, will soon fracture.
Similarly, exceptional America does not recognize the concept of class. Our
disavowal of aristocracy and titles set us distinctly apart from Britain in the
nineteenth century. And yet we now use that language all the timeespe-
cially middle class or working class. Economic law, regulation, and policy
increasingly treat income as a permanent class designator, as fine and per-
manent as Indian castes, and treat citizens on that basis just as monarchic
England treated peasant differently from noble.
Opportunity is a key part of the egalitarian credo. But a society divvied up
into formal categories of class, race, and income quickly loses that oppor-
tunity. As with economic regulation, though, each such division is a client
usefully exploited for political advantage. Exceptional America foreswore the
opportunistic politics of such divisions.

FIXING IT
The final article in exceptionalist faith is optimism: that despite the gather-
ing clouds, America will once again face the challenge and reform. There is
a reason that lovers of liberty tend to be Chicago Cubs fans (I am a member
of both tribes). Healing is not something to take for granted, however. There
is no automatic, self-correcting force. Every scrape with disaster is a scrape
with disaster. It can happen here. Hope is not a strategy.
The recipe is straightforward. Rather than demand less regulation ever
more loudly, we need to bring rule-of-law process and protections to the regu-
latory state and revive them in our legal procedures as well. Its time to pay
attention to the structure of government rather than its outcome.
Congress should restructure the law surrounding regulation. Stop writing
thousand-page bills. Strengthen the Administrative Procedures Act describing
how regulations are written and implemented. Require serious, and retrospec-
tive, cost/benefit analysis. Put in shot clocks, time limits for regulatory deci-
sions. Give people more avenues to challenge regulation in a timely manner.

40 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


The good news is that people on both sides of the partisan divide agree
that the regulatory state needs to be fixed. The better way plan led by
Paul Ryan contains just this kind of radical restructuring of the regulatory
process. It goes so far as to require that Congress must approve new major
regulationsa large change in the balance of power back to Congress and
away from administration and agencies.
The court system plays a crucial role. Fix the court system so youre not
bankrupt and dead by the time you win. The litmus test for new judges
should be their willingness to sustain rule-of-law restrictions on the regulato-
ry state, not to re-fight social issues. Let the litmus test be Wickard v. Filburn,
which declared a man may not grow wheat in his own yard to make his own
bread without a Federal Wheat Marketing Order, and not Roe v. Wade.
Its common to bemoan the state of American politics, but we should be
optimistic. The major parties are blowing up. We are in a once-in-a-genera-
tion major realignment and redefinition. Only a big realignment can produce
the rule-of-law and free-market coalition that I describe here. Power may
shift from the once-imperial presidency to an emboldened Congress.
Finally, ideas matter. An exceptionaland functionalAmerica must
understand how she is supposed to work. We are a democracy, and if vot-
ers dont respond with elemental understanding of their rights, and outrage
when those rights are violated, as the founders did, we cant expect miracle
politicians to save us.
As I write, Im sitting in an exceptionally American institution, a reservoir
of, as our publications say, ideas defining freedom. Sometimes that reser-
voir is an ark, keeping ideas alive in a dark age. Sometimes it is a fountain,
ready to bring those ideas to the world when its ready. But you, me, and the
institutions we formanother brilliantly exceptional American habitare
crucial to her renewal.

Special to the Hoover Digest.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Central Bank


Governance and Oversight Reform, edited by John H.
Cochrane 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 2017 41
AMERI CAN VALUE S

AMERI CAN VALUE S

Rugged
Individualism
Two of the gravest threats to this distinctively
American value: nanny states and helicopter
parents.

By David Davenport and Gordon Lloyd

R
ugged individualism and American character are inextricably
intertwined, the one essentially defining the other. Perhaps no
expression better describes the uniqueness of America and its
people than rugged individualism, a key component of Americas
DNA and a vital ingredient in what makes America exceptional. Underly-
ing all the freedoms that the pioneers and founders sought to establish in
the new country was individual liberty. It would be the individual, not the
monarchy or the social class, who would be the essential unit of analysis and
action in the New World. Herbert Hoover, who coined the phrase rugged
individualism in 1928, contrasted it with the soft despotism, paternalism,
and totalitarianism of Europe.
As we travel the road of rugged individualism from the founding to today,
we note persistent efforts to detour from that path, or even to destroy
it. Nonetheless, we look with some optimism toward new frontiers of the
twenty-first century that may nourish this American virtue. The famous

David Davenport is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Gordon Lloyd


is a professor of public policy at Pepperdine University. They are the co-authors of
the new book Rugged Individualism: Dead or Alive? (Hoover Institution Press,
2017).

42 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


philosopher Yogi Berra said, Its tough to make predictions, especially about
the future. To predict the fate of rugged individualism in America, it should
help to recount briefly what it is and is not.
Former president Obama, no great fan of rugged individualism, acknowl-
edged that nevertheless it defines America. It has been described as the
master assumption of American political and economic thought. The
combination of individual liberty in Americas founding and the frontier spirit
provided the rich soil in which it has grown and developed.
Equally, it seems important to note that American rugged individualism
is not, as Tocqueville acknowledged, the selfish, isolating self-absorption
of the French individualisme, since Americans temper their individualism
with other qualities such as pragmatism and a disposition toward forming
voluntary associations. It is not a purely economic idea, as the Progressives
and New Dealers suggested, since it is grounded in a political philosophy of
individual rights of many kinds. And as Hoover pointed out, it is not a laissez-
faire, devil-take-the-hindmost philosophy for the wealthy since, in America,
it is accompanied by equality of opportunity. It is not, as it is sometimes per-
ceived to be, some form of selfishness or greed that demands it be regulated,
presumably by government.
It is also useful to review the environments in which it has fared well and
those that have hampered and undermined it. In general, rugged individual-
ism is closely tied to frontiers, not just frontiers of the Old West but econom-
ic, social, and political frontiers. Where there are new frontiers to conquer,
Americans are more likely to launch out in a spirit of rugged individualism.
Further, those
political climates
that tend to favor Americans seem content to let the gov-
individual lib- ernment do more and more for them.
erty have been
most hospitable to rugged individualism. To put it another way, when the
American tension that Tocqueville observed between equality and liberty
tends toward liberty, rugged individualism has prospered. When the politi-
cal climate has shifted more toward equality, it has not. Indeed, one could
well argue that since the rise of Progressivism and the New Deal in the early
twentieth century, rugged individualism has been under rather steady attack
and has often fought even to maintain a seat at the public policy table.
To undertake a balanced assessment of the prospects for American rug-
ged individualism, we should consider reasons to be pessimistic as well
as reasons to be optimistic. Such an evaluation might also indicate where

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 43
supporters of rugged individualism might focus greater encouragement and
resources, and where it seems important to stand and fight.

REASONS TO BE PESSIMISTIC
The political climate in the United States provides plenty of reasons for pes-
simism about the future of rugged individualism. In last years presidential
campaign, it may have seemed encouraging that rugged individuals such as
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanderswho seem not to care much about their
party, the establishment, or the present political systemenjoyed surprising
success. But one could equally be discouraged that voters were apparently
less interested in being rugged individuals themselves than in supporting
rugged, or even somewhat ragged, individuals for the presidency. In other
words, Americans seem content to let the government do more and more for
them, yet they are intrigued by contrarian individuals such as Sanders and
Trump as their leaders.
Neither of these men demonstrated much commitment to individual rights
or moving America toward greater rugged individualism. Sanders openly
described himself as a democratic socialist interested in an expanded welfare
state. His campaign planks included greater government regulation and single-
payer health insurance, with free college and pre-K education for everyone. He
was deeply concerned about income inequality and prepared to enact signifi-
cant tax increases in order to fund his expensive programs. His agenda was
clearly more soft collectivism and less rugged individualism. Defeated Demo-
cratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who in this campaign represented a sort of
Progressivism Lite, also was all about the federal government doing and guar-
anteeing more, with individualism more of a problem than part of any solution.
President Trumps political philosophy has been more difficult to ascer-
tain. Perhaps it is best described as nationalism or nativism: make America
great again, build physical walls along the borders and tariff walls around
the economy. But it is more difficult to see how his philosophy would play out
within the borders of the United States as it pertains to collectivism versus
individualism and regulation versus individual freedom. It would seem that
Trumps nationalism and use of executive power generally are unlikely to
rally a spirit or a political and legal climate that favors rugged individualism.
The Trump nomination meant the traditional conservative wing of the
Republican Party wasnt even represented in presidential politics last year,
itself a disappointment to proponents of rugged individualism. It has been
difficult in recent years to find consistent support for rugged individual-
ism even among conservatives. The largest federal encroachment on K12

44 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]
education, the No Child Left Behind law, was enacted with bipartisan sup-
port and signed by self-proclaimed compassionate conservative president
George W. Bush. Likewise, Bush supported a major, expensive expansion of
prescription benefits for the aged. Although a few conservatives in Congress
have fought the good fight, the federal budget, executive power, and federal
regulation all seem to grow under both Republicans and Democrats.
If you sought a stirring renaissance of rugged individualism, you probably
would not look in Washington or among the leading national politicians or
political parties.
Another reason to be pessimistic about rugged individualism is that its
foundation, individual liberty, has increasingly become an abstraction in our
modern society. Young people in particular have grown up in an era of big
government and dont
entirely understand
Rugged individualism has been called or appreciate the case
the master assumption of American for less government
political and economic thought. involvement in indi-
viduals lives. People
have trouble understanding conservatives preference to have churches and
nonprofits, rather than government, take the lead in meeting peoples needs.
Occasional liberty moments, when people scratch their heads and won-
der why government is invading their personal lives, do arise. The attempt
to ban large sodas in New York was one. Many young people who expected to
keep their own private health insurance policies faced an unpleasant sur-
prise when those policies were declared illegal because they did not satisfy
ObamaCare requirements. Still, such moments are rare and do not seem to
meld into much of a liberty movement, especially among the young.
Helicopter parents, who closely track their childrens lives at all ages and
who intervene with their teachers, bosses, and other authorities, create
a climate where rugged individualism becomes a difficult path. A college
experience that now polices trigger words and microaggressions, while
adopting policies to shelter students from any discomfort, leads more toward
coddling than rugged individualism. The rising number of college graduates
who live with their parents, are older when they find full time employment,
and who marry later all contribute to a generation that will be delayed or
prevented from reaching the sort of individualism experienced by their post
World War II parents and grandparents.
Finally, narratives are gaining a hold on the young that will lead America
further away from rugged individualism. Robert Putnam argues in his recent

46 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, that income inequality is the big
problem in our democracy today, one that precludes our kids from realizing
the American dream of upward mobility. One might praise efforts to address
income inequality as enlightened commitments to help those lower on the
economic ladder; yet each step in that direction mandated by government does
necessarily reduce individualism. It places government squarely in the business
of income redistribution, something previously the province of individuals.
In fact, some polling has suggested that American young people are
now more open to socialism than before. A YouGov survey in January 2016
showed that among those under thirty, socialism rated ahead of capitalism,
43 percent to 23 percent. A Reason-Rupe survey in 2014 found 58 percent
in favor of socialism for those ages 1824. All this is tempered, however, by
evidence that young people do not even know what socialism means.

REASONS TO BE OPTIMISTIC
On the other hand, people have been proclaiming the demise of rugged indi-
vidualism for more than one hundred years, yet somehow it lives on. Planted
deep in the soil of the American founding and character, it may be diminished
but is not likely to be destroyed. The more interesting question is whether it
might enjoy some kind of renaissance in the twenty-first century.
If, as we have argued, American individualism is especially nourished in a
frontier environment, might todays young people live on some new frontiers
where individualism could be nourished? It seems so. In the information age,
young people will live on
new social and business
Young people have grown up in an age
frontiers that could very
well produce a revival of of big government. They dont entirely
individualism. grasp the case for less government
The social media world involvement in individuals lives.
in which Americans,
especially younger Americans, now live is truly a new frontier. Now, rather
than leaving the house to engage the collective culture, we are able to be
alone and yet through technology also be connected to others. We may not be
bowling alone, as Robert Putnam bemoaned, but people are communicating
alone. In fact, a new term describes this frontier: networked individualism.
Books such as Networked: The New Social Operating System and websites such
as the Pew Internet Project describe in detail how people are able to operate
with greater individualism, yet not in isolation. New and larger social net-
works are developed, new work styles are possible, new hobbies and interests

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 47
are pursuedall from the stance of an individual and a piece of technology.
As Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman wrote in Networked,

The networked operating system gives people new ways to solve


problems and meet social needs. It offers more freedom to indi-
viduals . . . because now they have more room to maneuver and
more capacity to act on their own.

It is too early to evaluate the impact of networked individualism on our


society and politics, and whether it represents a new boost of energy for
American rugged individualism. Social medias effects on social relationships
are debated: they may
extend the range of social
Starting your own business, or stitch- contacts and keep some
ing together a series of portfolio or gig aging relationships alive,
jobs, will certainly put more rugged and they may reduce the
back into the lives of young people. depth of relationships.
But there is no question
that the rise of technology has led to increases in peoples alone time and use
of social media, which certainly creates the possibility for a new generation
much more inclined toward individualism, or at least networked individual-
ism. As the authors of Networked concluded: The Internet allowed users to
be both more networked and more assertive as individuals.
Similarly, on the business front, young people seem to be gravitating away
from careers in large corporations and toward start-ups, portfolio jobs, and
the gig economy. Some of this has been driven by the economic downturn
starting in 2008, but it is a matter of preference as well. A survey of the college
graduating class of 2015 by the consulting firm Accenture revealed that only 15
percent preferred to work for a large corporation. Professor Tomas Chamorro-
Premuzic of University College London confirms this, telling Fast Company,
In the fifteen years Ive been teaching MBA students, their career plans have
changed dramatically. Until the early 2000s they aspired to work in traditional
corporate jobs. . . . In the past few years, however, a new favorite career choice
has emergedworking for themselves or launching their own business.
As millennials make up a growing percentage of the workforce, this will be
a powerful trend in the coming decades. Valuing personal freedom over mon-
ey and prestige, young peoples business lives may increasingly represent a
kind of rugged individualism along with their social lives. Starting your own
business, or stitching together a series of portfolio or gig jobs, will certainly
put more rugged back into the business lives of young people.

48 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Individualism in business leads to greater creativity and innovation, to be
sure. A 2005 study by two Cornell University professors, Jack Goncalo and
Barry Staw, considered collectivism and individualism in group settings.
They found, for example, that individualistic groups were more creative and
generated more innovative ideas. It makes sense, then, to think of companies
like Uber or Lyft, which have transformed entire fields of business and cus-
tomer service, as the new John Waynes of the rugged-individualism economy.
It is unclear how these changes in business and social life might translate
into the larger society, or how they might affect the philosophy of rugged indi-
vidualism. On one hand, young people spending more time in their business
and social lives in an individual role would point toward more individualism,
broadly speaking. On the other hand, it is not clear that younger voters see the
connection between their own increasingly individual lifestyles and support-
ing rugged individualism, as opposed to collectivism, in the political realm.
In general, the younger generation has been less interested in politics and
more engaged in volunteer or community activities. But when they do vote,
or jump onto the political bandwagon, they readily support more collectivist
and liberal causes, such as Bernie Sanderss free tuition or nationalized health
care. So far the connection between individualism in ones personal life and a
political philosophy is not apparent. Still, it seems worthwhile for proponents
of rugged individualism to educate young people along these lines.
There is also hope for rugged individualism in the lives and businesses
of immigrants who still flock to the United States. Immigrants continue to
come to America, seeking a better life and more opportunity for themselves
and their children. When you take a taxi ride in a major US city, your driver
is frequently an immigrant who, if given the chance, will tell you how he is
working hard so
that his children
will enjoy the Young people seem to be favoring social-
American dream. ism. At the same time, they dont seem to
It is immigrants
know what socialism means.
who study up on
American history and civics to pass the citizenship test, a commitment
that few born here undertake with comparable results. As Milton Friedman
pointed out, however, even the rugged individualism of immigrants is threat-
ened by the growing American welfare state and the emphasis on ethnic
identity. Friedman noted that his wife, Rose, was herself an immigrant, and
he was a child of immigrants, but warned that the pro-American spirit of
their generation would be threatened in the future as the melting pot has

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 49
increasingly been replaced by multiculturalism, and rugged individualism by
a welfare state.
Another reason to be optimistic about the future of rugged individualism
is how people drag their feet against many of the governments efforts at
collectivist planning.
In Los Angeles, for
We may choose a government or church example, drivers
or a kind of society, but those choices are have resisted the
made by Americans as individuals. additions of carpool
lanes and mass
transit because of an individual preference to hop in the car and drive. As
former Los Angeles County Transportation Commission member Wendell
Cox points out, while government planners have pressed hard for rapid
transit, the user numbers have declined, costs have gone up, and traffic has
increased, leading to the conclusion that drivers have not shifted to transit
despite billions in federal transit funding.
Other examples of public resistance to collectivist ideas at the federal level
include opposition to the Affordable Care Act and Common Core. Indeed,
Common Core and various social policies applied to schools have caused an
increase in homeschooling, which is yet another grass-roots form of individu-
alism resisting collectivism. Remarkably, homeschooling has grown over 60
percent during the past decade.
It is wise for rugged individuals to appreciate what has been settled by the
deliberate sense of the community over time and what is still open for debate,
discussion, and resistance. Some things are settled: Social Security will not
be taken away, unless it runs out of money, for example. Gun control, the role
of God in the public square, and many other issues are not settled and are
worthy of debate and resistance.
Finally, we should note continuing interest by many Americans in our nations
founding. People still flock to Mount Vernon, Monticello, the National Archives,
and Philadelphia to learn about the founders and the founding. And, quite amaz-
ingly, the hottest and most awarded musical on Broadway, Hamilton, explicitly
celebrates the story of one of Americas founders, Alexander Hamilton. Its suc-
cess suggests untapped interest in the complexities of the founding, an interest
that could be encouraged by more creative civic education.

STRENGTHENING WHAT REMAINS


A New Testament scripture, Revelation 3:2, written to a lukewarm church in
Sardis, seems apt: Wake up, strengthen what remains and is about to die.

50 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Certainly America needs to wake up to the value and importance of rugged
individualism properly understood. The sheer passage of time from the found-
ing and the pioneering frontier days allows Americans to fall asleep and forget
some of their core values. Some think of rugged individualism as an anachro-
nism and have a hard time carrying it forward to an age when, arguably, the
country has evolved to become less independent and more interdependent.
We also must acknowledge that rugged individualism has real enemies who
have sought to undo it and replace it. The progressives, in particular, have fought
rugged individualism on at least two grounds. Either they have sought to attach
it to the Old West and open frontiers, rendering it irrelevant when the country
was settled and people began to live together in cities, or they have shrunk it
down to a set of selfish economic motives of the robber barons of yesterday, or
the top 1 percent today, and have sought to attack it as unworthy of America.
Americans must awake to rugged individualism as more than a John
Wayne or a robber baron. It is foremost a starting point of analysis for our
unique society. America did not begin with the church or the state or the
king as the center of things, but with the individual. The individual is the unit
of analysis in America and everything else proceeds, as a series of choices,
from that starting point. We may choose a government or church or a par-
ticular kind of society, but those choices are made by Americans as individu-
als. We must not fall asleep on that core dimension of rugged individualism.
We must also be reawakened to the centrality of individual liberty, or indi-
vidual rights, at the core of rugged individualism. The Declaration of Indepen-
dence declares those individual rights and the Constitution, especially the Bill
of Rights, protects them. Such rights are not anachronisms but are active and
vital. As Herbert Hoover warned when he returned to the United States from
war-torn Europe, we must never give up our unique freedoms to the various
forms of totalitarianism. We must be ever alert to the danger that government
stands ready to limit our individual freedoms in favor of some other goodbe it
government takeovers of education or health care, or diminution of our freedoms
of religion or speech, or allowing individual liberty to become a mere abstraction.
We must be reawakened to these cornerstones of rugged individualism in
each generation. As Jefferson said, the world belongs to the living, and each
generation must work out its own understanding of things. We should neither
have a blind veneration for the past (Federalist No. 14) nor deprive the past of
its due veneration, without which government could not maintain its stability
(Federalist No. 49).
Then, in the words of the scripture, we must strengthen and protect
what remains. The Founders thought that the checks and balances and

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 51
separations of power in the Constitution were important to protect indi-
vidual rights, especially against the passions of the moment and the power
of government. So rugged individualism, even today, relies on that very
constitutional system for protection. Calls to break down the federalism
structurewhether by strengthening executive power, turning to some
kind of parliamentary system, or allowing the courts to take over our social
and economic decisionsare a kind of declaration of war against individual
rights. They are packaged more seductively, of course. But now, as then, we
need our federalist structure to protect American individualism. On every
issue we should continue to ask: is this something government should do? If
so, which branch, and at which level: federal, state, or local?
Moreover, when we ask the first question, we should restore individual
action as the default answer. Instead, government often assumes that it must
do something, even if the action is not likely to solve, and sometimes wont
even address, the problem at hand. We must deny this notion that govern-
ment is responsible for everything and must, in every case, do something.
Putting the public back into public policy would mean exploring what
individuals, nonprofits, communities, businesses, and other nongovernmental
entities might do, as well as government action. Schools of public policy have
institutionalized the mistaken approach of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roo-
sevelt, and other progressives: if only we had the right national experts or
enlightened administrators able to run the federal system, government could
always do things better than individuals left to their own devices.
Improving civic education in America would also strengthen the spirit of
rugged individualism. Polls consistently show that young people cannot name
one of their home state US senators, nor do they understand basic elements
of the Constitution. Without an understanding of the American systemor
worse, with a kind of distaste for American history from misguided high
school textbooksyoung Americans will be hard pressed to champion
constitutional governance or protect individual rights. Civic engagement has
become a battle cry in education, which is finebut it needs to be preceded
by civic education. Ronald Reagan, in his farewell address, called attention to
the need for an informed patriotism in which we teach our children what
America is and what she represents in the long history of the world. Making
certain that people are able to provide informed consent as citizens: this is
very much a part of strengthening rugged individualism.
Finally, we need to be open to new formulations and partnerships for rug-
ged individualism. As Tocqueville pointed out, American individualism was
never a purely selfish, inwardly focused phenomenon. Americans combined

52 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


their individualism with a volunteer spirit, a tendency toward forming
associations, and other practical qualities. Hoover said that in America it
was always combined with equality of opportunity. Even former president
Obama, a critic of rugged individualism, acknowledges its place in the Ameri-
can character, joined with a sense that we are in this together. Americans
begin with individualism and then consent to various associations, beginning
with the family and reaching out into the larger world.
For young people especially, rugged individualism combined with a strong
sense of community may seem attractive. Their experience of networked
individualism through technology is one example of this. Their commitment
to community service and civic engagement reinforces this modern combina-
tion. This notion of rugged individualism combined with community could
increasingly become what American individualism looks like.
And what of the word rugged? Should it continue to be part of the formula?
Dictionaries use words like toughness, determination, durability, and strength
to define rugged. Are Americans still rugged today? Do we need to be?
It could be that rugged needs a bit of updating. Might resourceful carry a
similar sense with a more modern outlook? Young people indeed will need
to be resourceful to build the kind of future they want. In a rapidly changing
world, with difficult economic and national security challenges, resourceful-
ness, even ruggedness, will be essential to survive and prosper. The new
frontiers of the twenty-first century call us to rekindle the rugged individual-
ism of Americas founding, frontiers, and Constitution.

Special to the Hoover Digest. Adapted from Rugged Individualism: Dead


or Alive? by David Davenport and Gordon Lloyd (Hoover Institution
Press, 2017). 2017 The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior
University. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Rugged


Individualism: Dead or Alive? by David Davenport
and Gordon Lloyd. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or
visit www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 53
P O L I TI CS

P O L I TI CS

The Soft Bigotry


of Political
Correctness
President Trump has never bowed to the culture
of victimization. His lack of deference could be
liberating.

By Shelby Steele

T
he recent presidential campaign revealed something tragic
in the way modern conservatism sits in American life. As an
ideologyand certainly as a political identityconservatism is
less popular than the principles and values it stands for. There
is a presumption in the culture that heartlessness and bigotry are somehow
endemic to conservatism, that the rigors of freedom and capitalism literally
require exploitation and inequalitythis even though so many liberal policies
since the 1960s have only worsened the inequalities they sought to overcome.
In the broader American culturethe mainstream media, the world
of the arts and entertainment, the high-tech world, and the entire enter-
prise of public and private educationconservatism suffers a decided ill
repute. Why?

Shelby Steele is the Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at the Hoover
Institution and a member of Hoovers Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on
Islamism and the International Order. He is the author of Shame: How Ameri-
cas Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country (Basic Books, 2015).

54 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


The answer begins in a certain fact of American life. As the late writer Wil-
liam Styron once put it, slavery was the great transforming circumstance
of American history. Slavery, and also the diminishment of women and all
minorities, was especially tragic because America was otherwise the most
enlightened nation in the world. Here, in this instance of profound hypocrisy,
began the idea of America as a victimizing nation. And then came the inevi-
table corollary: the nations moral indebtedness to its former victims, blacks
especially but all other put-upon peoples as well.
This indebtedness became a cultural imperative, what Styron might call a
transforming circumstance. Today America must honor this indebtedness
or lose much of its moral authority and legitimacy as a democracy. America
must show itself redeemed of its oppressive past.
How to do this? In a word: deference. Since the 1960s, when America
finally became fully accountable for its past, deference toward all groups with
any claim to past or present victimization became mandatory. The Great
Society and the War on Poverty were some of the first truly deferential poli-
cies. Since then deference has become an almost universal marker of simple
human decency that asserts ones innocence of the American past. Deference
is, above all else, an apology.
One thing this means is that deference toward victimization has evolved
into a means to power. As deference acknowledges Americas indebtedness,
it seems to redeem the nation and validate its exceptional status in the world.
This brings real powerthe kind of power that puts people into office and
that gives a special shine to commercial ventures it attaches to.

THE POWER OF THE STIGMA


Since the 1960s the Democratic Party, and liberalism generally, have thrived
on the power of deference. When Hillary Clinton spoke of a basket of deplo-
rables, she followed with a basket of -isms and phobiasracism, sexism,
homophobia, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. Each -ism and phobia was an
opportunity for her to show deference toward a victimized group and to cast
herself as Americas redeemer. By implication, conservatism is bereft of def-
erence. Donald Trumps supporters were cast as small, grudging people, as
haters who blindly love America and long for its exclusionary past. Against
this Clinton was the very archetype of American redemption. The term pro-
gressive is code for redemption from a hate-driven America.
So deference is a power to reckon with. And it works by stigmatization, by
threatening to label people as regressive bigots. Hillary Clinton, Democrats,
and liberals generally practice combat by stigma. And they have been fairly

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 55
successful in this so that many conservatives are at least a little embarrassed
to come out, as it were. Conservatism is an insurgent point of view, while
liberalism is mainstream. And this is oppressive for conservatives because
it puts them in the
position of being a
Since the 1960s, deference toward any bit embarrassed by
group with a claim to past or present who they really are
victimization became mandatory. That and what they really
deference became a path to power. believe.
Deference has
been codified in American life as political correctness. And political correct-
ness functions like a despotic regime. It is an oppressiveness that spreads
its edicts further and further into the crevices of everyday life. We resent it,
yet for the most part we at least tolerate its demands. But it means that we
live in a society that is ever willing to cast judgment on us, to shame us in the
name of a politics we dont really believe in. It means our decency requires a
degree of self-betrayal.
And into all this stepped now-president Trump, a fundamentally limited
man but a man with overwhelming charisma, a man impossible to ignore.
The moment he entered the presidential contest, Americas long-simmering
culture war rose to full boil. Trump was a nondeferential candidate. He
seemed at odds with every code of decency. He invoked every possible
stigma, and screechingly argued against them all. He did much of the dirty
work that millions of Americans wanted to do but lacked the platform to do.
Thus Trumps extraordinary charisma was built far more upon what he
represented than what he might actually do as president. He stands to alter
the culture of deference itself.

WHAT RESPONSIBILITY MEANS


After all, the problem with deference is that it is never more than superficial.
We are polite. We dont offend. But we dont ever transform people, either.
Out of deference, we
refuse to ask those we
Progressive is code for redemption seek to help to be primar-
from a hate-driven America. ily responsible for their
own advancement. Yet
only this level of responsibility transforms people, no matter past or even
present injustice. Some three thousand shootings in Chicago last year alone

56 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


is the result of deference camouflaging a lapse of personal responsibility with
empty claims of systemic racism.
As a society, we are so captive to our historical shame that we thoughtless-
ly rush to deference simply to relieve the pressure. And yet every deferential
gesturethe War on Poverty, affirmative action, ObamaCare, every kind of
diversity schemeonly weakens those who still suffer the legacy of our
shameful history. Deference is now the great enemy of those toward whom it
gushes compassion.
Societies, like individuals, have intuitions. Trump is an intuition. At least
on the level of symbol, maybe he will push back against the hegemony of
deferenceif not as a
liberator then possibly
as a reformer. Possibly As a candidate, Donald Trump did
he could lift the word much of the dirty work that millions
responsibility out of its of Americans wanted to do but lacked
somnambulant stigma- the platform to do.
tization as a judgmental
and bigoted request to make of people. This, added to a fundamental respect
for the capacity of people to lift themselves up, could go a long way toward a
fairer and better America.

Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2017 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

Available 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.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 57
P O L I TI CS

P O L I TI CS

Winning Women
Woodrow Wilson at first found himself
scandalized by protesting women, but soon he
championed their cause. How President Trump
and feminists might likewise make common
cause.

By Elizabeth Cobbs

W
hen Woodrow Wilson pulled into Washingtons Union Sta-
tion the day before his inauguration 104 years ago, the mas-
sive hall echoed emptily, as did streets outside the ornate
railway stop.
Where are all the people? the dismayed president-elect asked.
Watching the suffrage parade, the police replied.
Half a mile away, thousands of spectators mobbed sidewalks to witness the
first peaceful civil rights demonstration in American history. Approximately
eight thousand women, dressed mostly in white, paraded from the Capitol to
the Treasury Department to put Wilson on notice that they expected him to
change.
A progressive supporter of labor and banking reform, Wilson nonetheless
opposed womens suffrage. Women who spoke in public gave him a chilled,
scandalized feeling, Wilson informed his fiancee. In the 1912 presidential
campaign, the Democrat told his staff that he was definitely and irreconcil-
ably opposed to woman suffrage, that a womans place was in the home,

Elizabeth Cobbs is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Melbern
Glasscock Chair of American History at Texas A&M University. Her documentary,
American Umpire, aired on public television last fall.

58 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


and the type of woman who took an active part in the suffrage agitation was
totally abhorrent to him.
Feminists despised him in return. They supported Teddy Roosevelts Bull
Moose Party, the first to formally endorse womens right to vote. When World
War I erupted, suffragists picketed the White House with placards compar-
ing Wilson to the hated German kaiser. The president initially tipped his hat
to the protesters he found ridiculous, but eventually had them arrested and
jailed.
Wilsons re-education began with the womens suffrage march that pre-
ceded his inauguration. The 1913 parade featured nine bands, four mounted
brigades, twenty floats, phalanxes of marchers carrying roses, a dozen for-
eign delegations, and a climactic street performance.
For the next five years, suffrage leaders tirelessly petitioned the presi-
dent, hewing strictly to a single bold demand to keep their otherwise diverse
coalition intact: the vote. As president, Wilson found himself forced to meet
routinely with both men and women whose views on gender equality opposed
his. Feminist activism gradually changed Wilsons thinking. In 1915, he cast
his vote in New Jersey to give women the vote there, though he continued to
resist a federal amendmentpartly for fear of alienating Southern Demo-
crats who did not wish to augment the pool of black voters.
World War I provided the final push. Suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt
organized women to support the American war effort, for which Wilson was
profoundly grateful. The Navy and Marines broke with tradition and enlisted
more than thirteen thousand women, whose domestic military service freed
men to go abroad. Thousands more volunteered with the Salvation Army,
Red Cross, and YWCA. In addition to nurses, the Army recruited 223 women
who sailed to France with the US Signal Corps and braved bombardment to
handle telecommunications.
Wilson did an about-face. In October 1918, he asked the US Senate to honor
those who had served upon the very skirts and edges of the battle itself by
ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment. The most overtly anti-feminist presi-
dent became the foremost proponent of universal suffrage.
Much as it was a century ago, the United States is at a flex point in rela-
tions between the sexes. The first woman nominated by a major party for the
nations highest office was defeated by a man notorious for disparaging and
even assaulting women.
During his campaign, Trump called female reporters pigs and dogs,
downplayed sexual harassment in the workplace, suggested women be
jailed for abortions, and mocked the only woman to run in the Republican

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 59
[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]

60 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


primaries, Carly Fiorina. Look at that face! the former beauty pageant
owner exclaimed. Would anyone vote for that? Trumps attitude is crasser
than Wilsons, but so is our era. Likewise, the Womens March on Washington
that followed Trumps inauguration was a less decorous affair than the 1913
parade.
Can Trump redeem himself? That depends on his pressuring members of
his own party to support measures aimed at gender equality, as Wilson did.
Can feminists help the new president? That depends on their willingness to
minimize other differences and articulate a specific demand, as their prede-
cessors didsomething foundational for all women, as women, that estab-
lishes a moral and legal principle against which other laws may be measured.
As it happens, theres unifying legislation available for the taking: the
Equal Rights Amendment, first introduced in 1923, to guarantee that equali-
ty of rights under the law shall not be abridged on the basis of sex. Congress
passed the ERA in 1972, but it was never ratified by the states. Perhaps this
is the time to revisit it. Earlier feminists fought seventy-one years to obtain
the vote. The wait proved worthwhile.
Trump says his administration will be great for women. Let him find a
suitably audacious way to show it.

Reprinted by permission of the Los Angeles Times. 2017 Los Angeles


Times. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Learning


from Experience, by George P. Shultz. To order, call
(800) 888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 61
T H E MI DDL E E AST

T H E MI DDL E E AST

Ten Ways to
Rescue Mideast
Policy
In the Middle East the previous administration
established neither democracy nor securityand
now Russia is on the scene.

By Russell A. Berman and Charles Hill

T
he Trump administration inherits a Middle East foreign policy in
tatters. The aspirations of then-president Barack Obamas Cairo
speech of 2009 were never met. Instead, failed states prolifer-
ate, nonstate actors amplify disorder, and the stable rulers who
remain rely on shaky legitimacy. The paradigm of a system of nation-states
may be disappearing before our eyes.
The contradictions of American foreign policy are most salient about Syria
and Iran. While Washington has given reconciliation with Iran a high prior-
ity, Tehran continues on a path of unmodified belligerence toward the United
States. Meanwhile, Bashar al-Assad, Irans puppet in Syria, remains comfort-
ably in power, despite Obamas insistence that he depart.

Russell A. Berman is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a member of Hoovers


Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order,
and the Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University. Charles
Hill is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and co-chair of the Herbert and
Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order.

62 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]

The United States has succeeded neither in realizing its values of democra-
tization and human rights in the region nor in pursuing its security interests:
on the contrary, the relations with our traditional alliesEgypt, Israel, Saudi
Arabia, and Turkeyhave all suffered. ISIS remains a threat throughout
the region and beyond, while a revisionist Russia has taken advantage of the
contraction of American power by laying claim to an ever larger role. In the
wake of American inaction, a human catastrophe has unfolded.
Recently the Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and
the International Order of the Hoover Institution convened a group of
distinguished experts to discuss the challenges to American foreign policy
in the Middle East. The following proposals synthesize key aspects of that
discussion.
As a region, the broad Middle East remains vital to US national inter-
est. Because of its importance, the United States cannot disengage from it. It
is not an irrelevant space that can be abandoned to our adversaries or to the
chaos of state failure. The region is on the edge of nuclear weapons prolif-
eration. It is a major incubator of international terrorism and a source of

H O O V E R D IG E S T S p ring 2017 63
instability for our European allies, particularly through mass emigration. In
addition, the Middle East includes trade routes crucial to international trade,
and it is the site of key oil and gas resources that will remain central to the
global economy for decades at least, no matter how energy and environmen-
tal policies develop. The United States must reaffirm its commitment to the
region and our role in it.
The United States needs to develop and articulate a strategic vision
that defines its desired political outcomes in the region. During the Obama
administration, the United States knowingly carried out a strategy of reduc-
ing its role and influence in the Middle East. Our reliability and credibility
have declined, as we have stayed engaged but never sufficiently or steadily
to the point of being successful on any significant issue, let alone in reaching
ultimate strategic goals. Because of the lack of a clear strategyother than
that of withdrawalpolitical decisions in recent years have been inconsis-
tent, and a focus on tactical and operational issues has obscured the determi-
nation of long-term goals and their achievement. Yet contrary to some recent
claims, the American public favors a strong US role in the world. To succeed,
American policy must articulate our political ends and distinguish between
them and the means deployed to attain them.
US strategy must be defined above all in terms of US national inter-
ests. Recognition of global challenges and the parameters of international
organizations can play into the understanding and pursuit of those interests,
but a clear prioritization of national interest over other concerns is indis-
pensable. A subordination of national interest to alternative concerns, global-
ist or otherwise, is politically unsustainable and, by definition, inconsistent
with vital US goals. The definition of national interest must take into account
our security, our economy, and our values.
Iran and Russia, powers adversarial to the United States, perceive an
interest in cooperating strategically with each other militarily, politi-
cally, and economically. China has begun to probe the region for opportuni-
ties serving its interests. The IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) has
de facto become an Iranian expeditionary force for invading strategic Arab
spaces, countering many decades of US support for Arab states. The central
regional conflict is Shia Iran versus Sunni Saudi Arabia, with Iran far ahead
in both strategic and tactical categories. Iran and Russia are pursuing strate-
gies to diminish and eliminate US influence in the Middle East. Because
of vital interests in the region, US strategy must be designed to roll back
Iranian and Russian ambitions in the region. This implies the imperative of
opposing Iranian client ambitions in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

64 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Iran is a de facto caliphate without declaring itself to be such. It is
both a recognized legitimate state in the established international state
system and a dedicated religious-ideological enemy of the established world
order; it continues to play successfully on one side or the other as best
suits its interests on any given issue. The US government does not appear
to be aware of this double game, or simply accepts it. Iran is not a polity of
moderates and hard-liners; it is a revolutionary theocracy that controls and
makes use of governmental and diplomatic functions to appear to a deceived
outside world as a legitimate regime. The JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive
Plan of Action) is the linchpin of US policy. It emerged as a one-sided deal
under which the United States has provided legitimacy and substantial
support for the regime, while leaving the regime free to take steps that
exacerbate the Arab worlds instability and to employ a variety of anti-US

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 65
acts and statements which are seen around the region as humiliations to the
Americans. The result of the JCPOA as it proceeds is to foster Irans rise to
regional hegemon. While the JCPOA has suspended a part of Irans nuclear
weapons program for a few years, it is seen from within the Iranian hierar-
chy as providing it with needed time to advance its centrifuge capability and
to provide the United States with a face-saving timeframe during which to
extricate itself from the region. Yet US interests require ongoing presence
in the region. A purported aim of the JCPOAto find and bolster so-called
moderates in Tehranis an illusion.
Relations with Iran should henceforth be based on a clear recognition
of the consistently hostile character of the regime. The unraveling of the
JCPOA, already under way in the last months of the Obama administra-
tion, requires, secondarily, that US diplomacy make clear to the Europeans,

66 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


partners in the JCPOA, that international security interests outweigh the
prospects of commercial opportunities in the Iranian market.
Russia has used military power to replace the United States as the
most employable potent and credible outside force in the region. Current
US trends toward cooperating with Russia and Assads military operations
(nominally) against the Islamic State, while declaring American opposition
to Vladimir Putins international actions and ambitionsand simultaneously
enabling Irans rise to hegemonyamount to a web of contradictions. If the
United States attempts to recover some of the influence it has lost over the
past several years, it is likely to find itself nearly checkmated from several
directions. Russia can become a significant structural obstacle to the pursuit
of US interests and could develop substantial relations with traditional US
allies Egypt and Turkey, reducing or possibly displacing US influence.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 67
US strategy should limit Russian power by preventing the stabilization of
the Assad regime as a Russian client state. The Syrian state should, however,
be enabled to survive within its formal borders. This requires negotiated
understandings on the need for autonomous regions, so that the several
distinctive communities within Syria may be able to coexist in semi-indepen-
dence. It is necessary to avoid the perpetual chaos and warfare that would
follow any evaporation of Syrian statehood. Ultimately, Assad will have to
hand over power to a newly designed constitutional polity. Rather than stand
by the side, the United States must play a defining role in this process.
Islam is not the enemy. The enemy is jihadi Islamism. The United States
has to clarify this distinction in order not to be misperceived as an enemy of
Islam. Clarity on this point is a precondition for a reaffirmation of traditional
US support for Arab regimes. Furthermore, the JCPOA, understood in the
region as proof of an American tilt toward Shia Iran, has left the impression
that the United States is hostile to Sunni Islam. A correction is required, in
particular by repairing and strengthening relations with the Sunni powers
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Similarly, relations with Israel need to be
reaffirmed and strengthened. Israel is the only strong partner for the United
States in the region, a fact that should be recognized and appreciated by
Washington. A crucial result of the regional upheavals of the past few years
has been the development of productive working relationships between parts
of the Sunni Arab world and Israel. The United States should encourage
this emerging cooperation and not, by its own actions regarding the issues
of Jerusalem or settlements, in effect force the Arab states to turn against
Israel and return to rigid rejectionist positions.
ISIS is a threat to regional stability. Its continued existence, whether
in its territorial caliphate in Syria or in its worldwide terrorist activities,
has been used by Iran to draw Shia Islam under its sway. Yet the perception
of a primary American focus on combatting ISIS has obscured the greater
threat of Iran. US strategy, especially in Syria and Iraq, needs to rebalance
these concerns. The US campaign against ISIS should not be pursued in
ways that effectively strengthen the Assad regime to the benefit of its Iranian
and Russian supporters. The perception of an American pro-Shia bias has
fueled Sunni radicalization. A visible American response to Iranian aggres-
sion, most likely in the gulf, is needed to reduce the attraction of ISIS by
undermining its claim that the United States favors Iran.
US strength depends on military force, but also on the credibility
of our values through promotion of democratic institutions. The United
States should encourage democratic reforms and support elements of civil

68 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


society that pursue them. At the same time the United States should recog-
nize that it must not impose its values in ways that undermine the stability
of friendly regimes. Support for the development of democratic institutions
needs to be balanced by the pragmatic concerns for alliances in a diverse
world.
Terrorism is a scourge of contemporary society, in the Middle East, in
the West, and in the rest of the world. Of particular concern is the poten-
tial for large-scale attacks, another 9/11 or worse, that would lead to public
calls for dramatic political consequences, such as severe restrictions on civil
liberties. To forestall such events, expansive counterterrorism intelligence
is necessary. In fact, US counterterrorism efforts have been impressively
successful. They have been justified as necessary for the defense of the
American homeland. But their success has also been misused as grounds for
the United States to reduce its traditional leadership role in the maintenance
of international peace and security, along with the counterinsurgency and
nation building efforts that the latter requires. Thus, one essential part of
US grand strategy, counterterrorism, has been used to justify abandoning
another essential part of grand strategy, which is the indispensability of an
American commitment to world order. In the context of a renewed emphasis
on the responsibilities of allied powers, a clear reaffirmation of the primacy
of the United States in preserving international order is needed.

Reprinted from Defining Ideas (www.hoover.org/publications/defining-


ideas), a Hoover Institution online journal. 2017 The Board of Trustees
of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Israel Facing


a New Middle East: In Search of a National Security
Strategy, by Itamar Rabinovich and Itai Brun. To order,
call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 69
T H E MI DDL E E AST

T H E MI DDL E E AST

Before Push
Comes to Shove
What the president needs to learnfast.

By Peter Berkowitz

A
s in nearly every domain and for most every issue, President
Trump has offered blunt assessments and unequivocal opinions
about Middle East politics.
Containing the spread of radical Islam must be a major
foreign policy goal of the United States, he declared. Military force may be
necessary, but its also a philosophical struggle, like our long struggle in the
Cold War.
Trump has vowed to scrap the Iran deal, which he described as horrible
and laughable, and re-impose economic sanctions. Otherwise, he said, the
Obama administrations prized foreign policy achievement will continue to
enable Iran to pursue hegemonic ambitions in the region, fuel nuclear pro-
liferation throughout the region, and allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons
and deliver them on ballistic missiles within the decade.
He promised to team up with Russia to employ decisive military action
to defeat and destroy ISIS, which he condemns for undermining Iraq and
stealing its oil, ruining Syria, and carrying out a genocide against Chris-
tians in the Middle East. He would compel Saudi Arabia (and other wealthy

Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Insti-
tution and a member of Hoovers Working Group on the Role of Military History in
Contemporary Conflict.

70 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


countries), whose security the United States guarantees, to contribute more
to its own defense.
He regards Israel as a strategic ally and a cultural brother bound to
the United States by unbreakable friendship. Since the United Nations is
not a friend of democracy, he rejects a UN-imposed resolution to the conflict
between Israel and the Palestinians. But because of his success in making
business deals, he believes that he is just the man to broker what he charac-
terized as the ultimate deal.
Trumps cocksure pronouncements show an instinctive appreciation for
the importance in foreign affairs of standing by your friends and keeping
your adversaries in check. That itself involves a welcome sea change from
former president Obamas approach to the Middle East, which indulged
Americas adversaries and constrained Americas friends.

HONEST BROKER COMES TO GRIEF


In Ikes Gamble: Americas Rise to Dominance in the Middle East, Michael Doran
provides a potent reminder that the United States has a long history of con-
fusion about friends and adversaries in the region and about the policies that
will best serve Americas national interests. A Hudson Institute senior fellow
and former Middle East
adviser in the George
W. Bush White House, The problem wasnt what the West
Doran sure-handedly did to the Arabs, but what Arabs were
reveals the errors of unable to do for themselves.
the honest broker
paradigm that in the 1950s initially guided Dwight Eisenhowers two-term
presidency. With a sharp eye for the complex realities of Middle East politics,
Doran endorses Ikes eventual shift to the view that the United States must
manage inter-Arab conflict.
The honest-broker paradigm grew out of the dominant view at the State
Department, initially shared by Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Fos-
ter Dulles, that Arab resentment over Western imperialism and bitterness
over American solicitousness toward Israel necessitated a distancing from
the Jewish state and a balancing tilt toward Arab states. Eisenhower and
Dulles also believed that Egyptian strongman Gamal Abdel Nasserwho led
the 1952 overthrow of the Egyptian monarchywas honest, forthright, and
deeply desirous of an alliance with the West.
Accordingly, Eisenhower bet on Egypt, the largest and most influential
Arab country, at the expense of British and French regional interests, of

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 71
Israeli security, and, at least in the short term, of other Arab states political
ambitions. Ike wagered that the charismatic young military officer would
lead not only Egypt but Arabs throughout the Middle East into an alliance
with the United States in the Cold War.
So Eisenhower acquiesced to Nassers ouster of Britains troops from the
Suez Canal Zone and offered to finance the construction of Nassers Aswan
High Dam project (Dulles eventually revoked the offer). After Egypts July
1956 nationalization of the canal, followed by the seizure three months later
of the Sinai Peninsula by Israel in coordination with France and Britain,
Eisenhower sided with the Soviet Union; in a manner that was relentless,
ruthless, and uncompromising, he compelled the three democracies to
withdraw.
By 1959, however, Nasser was championing a belligerent pan-Arabism and
had ushered Egypt as well as Syria and Iraq into the Soviet bloc.

72 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


QUESTION THE ASSUMPTIONS
The consensus among historians is that American Middle East policy went
astray in the 1950s because of a failure to truly appreciate, as most officials at
the time believed, that Nasser was the foremost representative of deep and
inexorable historical forces in the
Arab world. Many experts today
persist in thinking that America
continues to botch Middle

[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]

H O O V E R D IG E S T S p ring 2017 73
East policy because it refuses to take seriously the depth of Arab and Muslim
anger over Western imperialism and support for Israel.
Based on meticulous sifting of speeches, notes of official meetings, letters,
diaries, and more, Doran refutes this conventional view and writes a history
more in line with the facts. The problem was not what the West did to the
Arabs but what Arabs
were unable to do for
American policy can exacerbate or themselves. Eisenhower,
ameliorate the major conflicts of the Doran shows, was among
Middle East. It can rarely solve them. the first to recognize that
his Middle East policy
collapsed because his administration had not understood the bitter and deep
divisions and strong antidemocratic tendencies that destabilized the Arab
world and had not recognized Israels stabilizing role in the region.
Doran draws five large lessons from Eisenhowers diplomacy.
First, instead of coddling enemies and demeaning friends, US leaders and
policy makersin accordance with ancient wisdom and common sense
should support friends and rein in enemies.
Second, they should reject the constantly disproved assumptiondis-
credited before Eisenhower left office and refuted for all eyes to see by the
bloodletting sparked by the uprisings of 2011, formerly known as the Arab
Springthat the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the Arab worlds central stra-
tegic challenge.
Third, they should concentrate on inter-Arab politics and the Muslim
dimensions of the fighting raging across the Middle East.
Fourth, they should adopt a tragic perspective: because of the ethnic,
nationalist, and religious convulsions shaking the Arab and Muslim world,
American policy can
exacerbate or ameliorate
The presidents advisers should reject the major conflicts in the
region but it can rarely
one constantly disproved assump-
solve them.
tion: that the Israeli-Palestinian
Finally, American
conflict is the Arab worlds central leaders and policy mak-
strategic challenge. ers must remain ever
mindful of sociologist
Max Webers observation that while nations pursue their interests, leaders
interpret those interests and devise policies for advancing them based on
often-unarticulated assumptions and overarching ideas about human nature,

74 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


morality, and politics. The successful conduct of foreign policy depends on
grasping these assumptions and ideas and understanding their impact.
A culminating lesson follows from these five, one that President Trump,
who has relied so heavily on his instincts, should take to heart. He should
appoint advisers and experts steeped in the language, culture, history, and
religions of the Middle East to refine his understanding of Americas friends
and adversaries there. And he will need advisers and experts of another sort
as well: ones who strengthen his awareness of the unexamined and debatable
notions that generate his blunt assessments and unequivocal opinions.

Reprinted by permission of Real Clear Politics. 2016 RealClearPolitics.


All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is Israel


and the Struggle over the International Laws of War,
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 2017 75
R U SS I A

R U SS I A

The Russia
Question
American relations with Moscow have become a
geopolitical messa mess, very largely, of our own
making.

By Niall Ferguson

F
rom the mid-nineteenth century until the mid-twentieth, the Ger-
man question was the biggest and hardest question of geopolitics.
The German question, to put it simply, was whether or not a unifica-
tion of German speakers under one rule would create a dangerously
powerful state at the center of Europe. The answer was decided in the end, as
Otto von Bismarck had foreseen, by blood and iron. Two vast, catastrophic wars
brought violence and destruction to the whole of Europe and finally left Ger-
many defeated and divided. By the time of its reunification in 1990, demographic
decline and cultural change had defanged Berlin sufficiently that the threat of
a united Germany has receded. Germany still predominates over the European
Union because of its size and economic strength. But it is no menace.
The same cannot be said of Russia, which has become more aggressive
even as its economic significance has diminished. The biggest and hardest
question of twenty-first-century geopolitics may prove to be: what do we do
about Moscow?

Niall Ferguson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a member of Hoovers


Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict, and a
co-director of the Harvard Kennedy Schools Applied History Project.

76 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Like the German question, the new Russian question is a function of the
countrys Mittellage (central situation). Germanys location was central in
European terms. At its height, the German Reich extended from Koblenz to
Knigsberg, from the banks of the Rhine to the beaches of the Baltic. Russia
today is central in global terms. It was the only one of the great European
empires that extended into Asia over land rather than sea. The Soviet Union
died an astoundingly peaceful death twenty-five years ago. Yet the Russian
Federation still extends from Kaliningradas Knigsberg has been known
since its annexation by Russia in 1945all the way to Vladivostok, 4,500
miles and ten time zones away.
In the nineteenth
century, the tension
between Russias Henry Kissinger contrasts four evolving
westward-looking and incompatible conceptions of inter-
metropolises and its national order: American, European,
vast Asian hinterland Chinese, and Islamic. Russias place in
furnished novelists this framework is ambiguous.
and playwrights
with wonderfully rich material. Ivan Turgenev and Fyodor Dostoevsky could
debate which direction Russia should take, but no one doubted the existence
of the West-East dilemma. Nor was it a purely geographical phenomenon.
The institution of serfdom meant that until the 1860sand in practice long
after thata Russian gentleman only had to take a ride through his estates
to leave Europe far behind.
But Russias West-East dilemma today is fast becoming the central prob-
lem of international politics, not literature. On one side lies a China that long
ago surpassed Russia in economic as well as demographic terms and increas-
ingly aspires to military pre-eminence in Asia. On the other side of Russia
lies a Europe that, for all its prosperity, has become politically introverted
and excessively reliant on the United States for its defense.
In his most recent book, World Order, Henry Kissinger contrasted four
evolving and incompatible conceptions of international order: American,
European, Chinese, and Islamic. Russias place in this scheme of things is
ambiguous. From Peter the Great to Vladimir Putin, circumstances have
changed, but the rhythm has remained extraordinarily consistent, Kiss-
inger wrote. Russia is a uniquely Eurasian power, sprawling across two
continents but never entirely at home in either. It has learned its geopolitics
from the hard school of the steppe, where an array of nomadic hordes con-
tended for resources on an open terrain with few fixed borders.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 77
Russia, it might be inferred, is the power least interested in world order.
President Vladimir Putin would no doubt deny that. He would argue that the
best basis for order would be for the great powers mutually to respect their
spheres of influence and domestic political differences. On the other hand,
Russia is clearly the power most ready to exploit the new tools of cyberwar-
fare that Kissinger warned presciently about in 2014:

The pervasiveness of networked communications in the social,


financial, industrial, and military sectors has . . . revolutionized
vulnerabilities. Outpacing most rules and regulations (and indeed
the technical comprehension of many regulators), it has, in some
respects, created the state of nature about which philosophers
have speculated and the escape from which, according to [Thomas]
Hobbes, provided the motivating force for creating a political
order. . . . [A]symmetry and a kind of congenital world disorder are
built into relations between cyber powers both in diplomacy and
in strategy. . . . Absent articulation of some rules of international
conduct, a crisis will arise from the inner dynamics of the system.

The question we need to ask now is why the Russian government was so
eager to use its cyber prowess to influence the recent election in Donald
Trumps favor. The answer is not as obvious as might be thought. It is that
Russia urgentlyone might even say desperatelyneeded a friendlier presi-
dent than Hillary Clinton would have been. Moscows meddling in American
politics reflects not its strength, nor its strategic sophistication, but its weak-
ness and dependence on Cold War tactics such as psy-ops.

A NEW ERA, BUT WHAT ERA?


It did not have to be this way. Twenty-five years ago, the dissolution of the
Soviet Union marked not only the end of the Cold War but also the beginning
of what should have been a golden era of friendly relations between Russia
and the West. With enthusiasm, it seemed, Russians embraced both capital-
ism and democracy. To an extent that was startling, Russian cities became
Westernized. Empty shelves and po-faced propaganda gave way to abun-
dance and dazzling advertisements.
Contrary to the fears of some, there was a new world order after 1991. The
world became a markedly more peaceful place as the flows of money and
arms that had turned so many regional disputes into proxy wars dried up.
American economists rushed to advise Russian politicians. American multi-
nationals hurried to invest.

78 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]
Go back a quarter century to 1991 and imagine three more or less equally
plausible futures. First, imagine that the coup by hard-liners in August of
that year had been more competently executed and that the Soviet Union
had been preserved. Second, imagine a much more violent dissolution of the
Soviet system in which ethnic and regional tensions escalated much further,
producing the kind of super-Yugoslavia Kissinger has occasionally warned
about. Finally, imagine a happily-ever-after history, in which Russias economy
thrived on the basis of capitalism and globalization, growing at Asian rates.
Russia could have been deep-frozen. It could have disintegrated. It could
have boomed. No one in 1991 knew which of these futures we would get. In
fact, we got none of them. Russia has retained the democratic institutions
that were established after 1991, but the rule of law has not taken root, and,
under Vladimir Putin, an authoritarian nationalist form of government has
established itself that is notably ruthless in its suppression of opposition and
criticism. Despite centrifugal forces, most obviously in the Caucasus, the
Russian Federation has held together. However, the economy has performed
much less well than might have been hoped. Between 1992 and 2016, the real
compound annual growth rate of Russian per capita GDP has been 1.5 per-
cent. Compare that with equivalent figures for India (5.1 percent) and China
(8.9 percent).
Today, the Russian economy accounts for just over 3 percent of global
output, according to the International Monetary Funds estimates based on
purchasing power parity. The US share is 16 percent. The Chinese share is
18 percent. Calculated on a current dollar basis, Russias GDP is less than 7
percent of Americas. The British economy is twice the size of Russias.
Moreover, the reliance of the Russian economy on exported fossil fuelsas
well as other primary productsis shocking. Nearly two-thirds of Russian
exports are petroleum (63 percent), according to the Observatory of Eco-
nomic Complexity. Russias relative economic weakness has been compound-
ed by the steep decline in oil, gas, and other commodity prices since 2014 and
by US and EU sanctions imposed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and
annexation of Crimea that same year.

THE BLAME
Who is to blame for the recent steep deterioration in relations between Rus-
sia and the United States? When, in fact, did it begin? Four years ago, then-
president Barack Obama ridiculed Mitt Romney for characterizing Russia as
Americas number one geopolitical foe. To this day, Obamas view remains
that Russia is weak, not strong. As he told Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic in

80 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


March 2016, [Putin is] constantly interested in being seen as our peer and
as working with us, because hes not completely stupid. He understands that
Russias overall position in the world is significantly diminished. And the fact
that he invades Crimea or is trying to prop up [Bashar al-] Assad doesnt
suddenly make him a player. He went even further in his end-of-year press
conference, calling Russia a smaller country . . . a weaker country that does
not produce anything that anybody wants to buy.
Yet this was a very different tone from the one the Obama administration
took in March 2009, when thensecretary of state Hillary Clinton and her
Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, symbolically pressed a reset button.
(Appropriately, as it turned out, the Russian translation on the button was
misspelled by the State Department so that it read overcharged.) Nor
was the reset a complete failure. A year later, the United States and Russia
reached an agreement to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons (the so-
called New START deal).
One answer to the question of what went wrong is simply Putin himself.
Having made my own contribution to the blame Putin literature, I am not
about to exonerate the Russian president. I vividly remember the tone he
adopted in a speech I heard at the 2007 Munich Security Conference, where
he gave (as I wrote at the time) a striking impersonation of Michael Cor-
leone in The Godfatherthe embodiment of implicit menace.
Nevertheless, it is important to remember what exactly Putin said on that
occasion. In remarks that seemed mainly directed at the Europeans in the room,
he warned that a unipolar worldmeaning one dominated by the United
Stateswould prove
pernicious not only
for all those within No country has had its character more con-
this system but also ditioned by its history than Russia.
for the sovereign
itself. Americas hyper use of force, Putin said, was plunging the world into an
abyss of permanent conflicts. Speaking at a time when neither Iraq nor Afghani-
stan seemed especially good advertisements for US military intervention, those
words had a certain force, especially in German ears.
Ten years later, even Putins most splenetic critics would be well-advised to
reflect for a moment on the Wests part in the deterioration of relations between
Washington and Moscow. The Russian view that the fault lies partly with West-
ern overreach deserves to be taken more seriously than it generally is.
If I look back on what I thought and wrote during the administration of
George W. Bush, I would say that I underestimated the extent to which the

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 81
expansion of both NATO and the European Union was antagonizing the
Russians.
Certain decisions still seem to me defensible. Given their experiences in
the middle of the twentieth century, the Poles and the Czechs deserved both
the security afforded by NATO membership (from 1999, when they joined
along with Hungary) and the economic opportunities offered by EU member-
ship (from 2004). Yet the US decision in March 2007 to build an antibal-
listic missile defense site
in Poland along with a
China needs stability in oil produc- radar station in the Czech
tion and low oil prices as much as Republic seems, with
Russia needs the opposite. hindsight, more question-
able, as does the subse-
quent decision to deploy ten two-stage missile interceptors and a battery of
Patriot missiles in Poland. Though notionally intended to detect and counter
Iranian missiles, these installations were bound to be regarded by the Rus-
sians as directed at them. The subsequent deployment of Iskander short-
range missiles to Kaliningrad was a predictable retaliation.
A similar act of retaliation followed in 2008 when, with encouragement
from some EU states, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from
Serbia. In response, Russia recognized rebels in South Ossetia and Abkhazia
and invaded those parts of Georgia. From a Russian perspective, this was no
different from what the West had done in Kosovo.
The biggest miscalculation, however, was the willingness of the Bush
administration to consider Ukraine for NATO membership and the later
backing by the Obama administration of EU efforts to offer Ukraine an
association agreement. I well remember the giddy mood at a pro-Euro-
pean conference in Yalta in September 2013, when Western representa-
tives almost unanimously exhorted Ukraine to follow the Polish path. Not
nearly enough consideration was given to the very different way Russia
regards Ukraine nor to the obvious West-East divisions within Ukraine
itself. This was despite an explicit warning from Putins aide Sergei
Glazyev, who attended the conference, that signing the EU association
agreement would lead to political and social unrest, a dramatic decline
in living standards, and chaos.
This is not in any way to legitimize the Russian actions of 2014, which were
in clear violation of international law and agreements. It is to criticize suc-
cessive administrations for paying too little heed to Russias sensitivities and
likely reactions.

82 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


AMNESIA HAS CONSEQUENCES
I dont really even need George Kennan right now, then-president Obama
told interviewer David Remnick in early 2014. The very opposite was true. He
and his predecessor badly needed advisers who understood Russia as well
as Kennan did. As Kissinger has often remarked, history is to nations what
character is to people. In recent years, American policy makers have tended
to forget that and then to wax indignant when other states act in ways that a
knowledge of history might have enabled them to anticipate.
No country, it might be said, has had its character more conditioned by its
history than Russia. It was foolish to expect Russians to view with equa-
nimity the departure into the Western sphere of influence of the heartland
of medieval Russia, the breadbasket of the czarist empire, the setting for
Mikhail Bulgakovs The White Guard, the crime scene of Josef Stalins man-
made famine, and the main target of Adolf Hitlers Operation Barbarossa.
One might have thought the events of 2014 would have taught US policy
makers a lesson. It was arguably a mistake to leave Germany and France
to handle the Ukraine crisis, when more direct US involvement might have
made the Minsk agreements effective. It was certainly a disastrous blunder
to give Putin an admission ticket into the Syrian conflict by leaving to him
the (partial) removal of Bashar al-Assads chemical weapons. One of Kiss-
ingers lasting achievements in the early 1970s was to squeeze the Soviets
out of the Middle East. The Obama administration undid that, with dire
consequences.
Yet I remain to be convinced that the correct response to these errors of
American policy is to swing from underestimating Russia to overestimating
it. Such an approach has the potential to be just another variation on the
theme of misunderstanding.
It is not difficult to infer what Putin would like to get in any great deal
between himself and President Trump. Item number one would be a lifting of
sanctions. Item number two would be an end to the war in Syria on Russias
termswhich would include the preservation of Assad in power for at least
some decent interval. Item number three would be a de facto recognition
of Russias annexation of Crimea and some constitutional change designed
to render the government in Kyiv impotent by giving the countrys eastern
Donbass region a permanent pro-Russian veto power.
What is hard to understand is why the United States would want to give
Russia even a fraction of all this. What exactly would Russia be giving the
United States in return for such concessions? That is the question that
Trumps national security team needs to ask itself.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 83
NO MORE WEAK HANDS
There is no question the war in Syria needs to end, just as the frozen conflict
in eastern Ukraine needs resolution. But the terms of peace can and must be
very different from those that Putin has in mind. Any deal that pacified Syria
by sacrificing Ukraine would be a grave mistake.
Former president Obama was right in saying that Russia is a much weaker
power than the United States; his failure was not to exploit that American
advantage. Far from doing so, he allowed his Russian counterpart to play a
weak hand with great tactical skill and ruthlessness. President Trump prides
himself as a deal maker. He should be able to do much better. Here is what he
should say to Putin.
You cannot expect relief from sanctions until you withdraw all your
armed forces and proxies from eastern Ukraine.
The political future of Ukraine is for the Ukrainians to decide, not for
outside powers.
We are prepared to contemplate another plebiscite in Crimea, given the
somewhat questionable nature of its cession to Ukraine in the Nikita Khrush-
chev era, though credible foreign representatives must monitor the vote.
We are also prepared to discuss a new treaty confirming the neutral,
nonaligned status of Ukraine, similar in its design to the status of Finland in
the Cold War. Ukraine would renounce future membership in either NATO
or the EU, as well as membership in any analogous Russian-led entity such as
the Eurasian Customs Union. However, such a treaty would need to include
guarantees of Ukraines sovereignty and security, comparable with the inter-
national treaty governing the status of Belgium in 1839. And this treaty would
be upheld in a way that Obama failed to uphold the Budapest Memorandum
of 1994by force if necessary.
In return for these concessions, the United States expects Russia to
participate cooperatively in a special conference of the permanent members
of the UN Security Council to establish a new and peaceful order in North
Africa and the Middle East. The scope of this conference should not be con-
fined to Syria but should extend to other countries in the region afflicted by
civil war and terrorism, notably Iraq and Libya. It should consider questions
that have lain dormant for a century, since the Sykes-Picot agreement drew
the borders of the modern Middle East, such as the possibility of an indepen-
dent Kurdish state.
With a bold proposal such as this, the Trump administration would regain
the initiative not only in US-Russian relations but also in international
relations more generally. Crucially, it would parry Putins aspiration for a

84 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


bilateral relationship, as between the superpowers of olda relationship to
which Russia, for all its oil and weaponry, is no longer entitled. And it would
bring to bear on the problem of Middle Eastern stability the two European
powers that have a historic interest in the region and an Asian powerChi-
nathat has a growing reliance on Middle Eastern energy.
The Russian question itself can be settled another day. But by reframing
the international order on the basis of cooperation rather than deadlock in
the Security Council, the United States at least poses the question in a new
way. Will Russia learn to cooperate with the other great powers? Or will it
continue to be the opponent of international order? Perhaps it will choose the
latter option. After all, an economic system that prefers an oil price closer to
$100 a barrel than $50 benefits more than most from escalating conflict in
the Middle East and North Africapreferably conflict that spills over into
the oilfields of the Persian Gulf.
However, if that is the goal of Russias strategy, then it is hard to see
for how much longer Beijing and Moscow will be able to cooperate in the
Security Council. China needs stability in oil production and low oil prices
as much as Russia needs the opposite. Because of recent tensions with the
United States, Russia has been acquiescent as the One Belt, One Road pro-
gram extends Chinas economic influence into Central Asia, once a Russian
domain. There is potential conflict of interest there, too.
In the end, it is not for the United States to solve the Russian question.
That is Russias challenge. But by re-establishing the Kissingerian rulethat
the United States should be closer to each of Russia and China than they are
to one anotherthe Trump administration could take an important first step
toward cleaning up the geopolitical mess bequeathed it by Barack Obama.

Reprinted by permission of Foreign Policy (www.foreignpolicy.com).


2017 Foreign Policy Group LLC. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is One Day


We Will Live Without Fear: Everyday Lives under the
Soviet Police State, by Mark Harrison. To order, call
(800) 888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 85
R U SS I A

R U SS I A

Break Up the
Bromance
Just getting along with Russia isnt going to be
good enough. If the new administration wants
a reset of its own, it will need to demonstrate
clarity and strength.

By Michael A. McFaul

D
uring the 2016 presidential
campaign, Donald Trump Key points
was a whirlwind of vagaries Reassuring our NATO allies
should come first.
and contradictions when it
President Trump must out-
came to foreign policy, making it difficult line his conditions for lifting
to predict how his new administration Russia sanctions.
would approach dozens of international We should offer smarter
economic, political, and tech-
issues. On Russia, however, he was clear
nical help to Ukraine.
and consistent. He praised President
The president must define
Vladimir Putin often, defended many his own objectives in the Syr-
of Putins policies, and declared with ian civil war.

enthusiasm, Wouldnt it be nice if we Small wins in US-Russia


relations would build mo-
actually got along with Russia? Since mentum for bigger deals.
his election, Trump has persisted in

Michael A. McFaul is the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover In-
stitution, a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
at Stanford University, and a professor of political science at Stanford. He recently
served as US ambassador to Russia.

86 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


defending Putin, questioning in multiple tweets and comments the intel-
ligence communitys assessment regarding Russias interference in our elec-
toral process last year. In choosing Rex Tillerson for his secretary of state,
Trump picked the perfect emissary for improving relations with the Kremlin.
Along with Henry Kissinger and Steven Seagal, Tillerson is one of the very
few Americans to have enjoyed direct and sustained access to Putin in recent
years. The conditions seem set for another reset with Russia.
But to what ends? While being clear about his desire to befriend Putin,
Trump has been very unclear about what foreign-policy objectives he seeks
to achieve in US-Russia relations. Better relations should never be the
goal of US foreign policy toward Russia or any country. Diplomacy is not a
popularity contest. Rather, better relations must always be understood as a
means to advance American security and prosperity. Sometimes, coercive
diplomacy is a means that helps us best pursue our foreign-policy objec-
tives. Other times, disengagement or isolation is the best way to advance our
national security interests. Clarifying ends versus meansthe basic task
when developing any foreign policymust be the first order of business for
the new Trump national security team before it prematurely gives away
American leverage or undermines US security goals for the sake of a smiling
photo-op in the Kremlin. Learning from the successes and failures of the last
dtente with Russiaformer president Obamas reset, which I helped to
craftwould be a good first start.

DEALS TO REMEMBER
As the Obama White House developed our reset policy during the 2008 tran-
sition and the first months of the administration in 2009, the president never
defined improved relations with Russia as a goal. We didnt seek friend-
ships in Moscow. Instead, we outlined a comprehensive list of foreign policy
goals and then explored ways in which the Russian government might help us
achieve our goals. Regarding some issues on our listfor instance, withdraw-
al of US military forces from Iraqwe saw no role for Russia. But on many
issuesdealing with Iran and North Korea, reducing nuclear weapons in the
world, increasing trade and investment, combating terrorismwe believed
that Russia and the United States shared mutual objectives.
Our strategy for realizing these win-win outcomes was engagement with
Moscow, both at the presidential level, but also horizontally throughout the
rest of our government. We invented the Bilateral Presidential Commission,
which created working groups on issues ranging from counterterrorism to
innovation, to compel more interaction between our two bureaucracies.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 87
We also promoted deeper ties between our business communities and civil
societies. Presidents Obama and Dmitry Medvedev helped round-table dis-
cussions with business leaders at both the 2009 summit in Moscow and 2010
summit in Washington. Obama met with Russian civil-society leaders during
his first visit to Moscow in July 2009, and his administration encouraged
peer-to-peer engagement between Russian and American nongovernmental
leaders. But while seeking to deepen contact with the Russian government
and citizens, we made explicit that we were not prepared to downgrade bilat-
eral relations with other countries in Russias neighborhood in the pursuit of
more engagement with the Kremlin. Learning from the Reagan administra-
tion, we rejected linkage. We were not prepared to weaken ties with Geor-
gia to get an arms control deal or stop talking about human rights to obtain
Moscows cooperation on Iran.
In the language of our new president, the reset produced some really big
deals. Obama and Medvedev signed and ratified the New START agree-
ment, which reduced by 30 percent the number of nuclear weapons allowed
in US and Russian arsenals, while maintaining a rigorous inspections regime
to implement the treaty. The United States and Russia cooperated in writing,
adopting, and then implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1929, the
most comprehensive sanctions against Iran ever. These UN sanctions were
instrumental in pressuring the Iranian government to give up its nuclear
weapons program, which culminated in the 2015 signing of the Joint Compre-
hensive Plan of Action.
We dramatically expanded the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), a
complicated transportation route through Russia and other countries used to
supply US and NATO soldiers in Afghanistan. NDN reduced our dependence
on supply routes through Pakistan, and thereby made possible the opera-
tion to kill Osama bin Laden, which violated Pakistani sovereignty. After
two decades of negotiations, we helped Russia obtain membership into the
World Trade Organization, an element of our larger strategy of increasing
trade and investment between our two countries. From 2009 to 2012, Boeing,
Cisco, ExxonMobil, and many other American companies also did some real
big deals in Russia, as trade and investment between our two countries

ALL SMILES: At a meeting in Leningrad in 2006, President George W. Bush


and Russian leader Vladimir Putin try to mend fences. Putins suspicions that
America foments instabilityingrained long ago as a KGB officerwere only
strengthened by events during the Arab Spring and on the streets of Moscow.
[Eric DraperWhite House]

88 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


increased dramatically. We also negotiated a new visa agreement, which
allowed businesspeople to obtain three-year multiple-entry visas, helping to
foster economic ties.
We also defused issues that earlier had caused deep frictions in the bilat-
eral relationship. Instead of fighting over missile defense, we negotiated how
to cooperate, discussing
in detail plans for shar-
Better relations should never be the ing data about ballistic
goal of foreign policy toward Russia or missile launches. NATO
any other country. Better relations are expansion also faded as
just a means to advance US security. an irritant. At the 2010
NATO summit, Medvedev
went out of his way to signal a new era of cooperation between Russia and
the alliance, saying: The declaration approved at the end of our talks states
that we seek to develop a strategic partnership. This is not a chance choice
of words, but signals that we have succeeded in putting the difficult period
in our relations behind us now. In private, he was even more effusive. And
when regime change occurred in Kyrgyzstan in 2010, leaving dozens dead
and prompting hundreds of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks to flee the country,
which looked to be on the verge of civil war, the United States and Russia
worked together to defuse the crisis.
During his final meeting with Obama in his capacity as president in March
2012 in Seoul, Medvedev was still very optimistic about the reset, saying
on the record, [W]e probably enjoyed the best level of relations between
the United States and Russia during those three years than ever during the
previous decades.
Meanwhile, in America, citizens noticed and reacted favorably to all these
deals getting done. In the summer of 2010, more than 60 percent of Ameri-
cans expressed a positive feeling about Russia and a similar percentage of
Russians held a positive view of the United States.

RESPECT IS OVERRATED
According to Trumps views, expressed on the campaign trail, the reset
ended because Putin didnt respect Obama. Therefore the pathway back to
improved relations with Moscow seemed simple: gain Putins admiration.
Trumps theory is flawed. He is looking at the symptoms of the resets
end, not the causes. Without question, the respect between Obama
and Putin dwindled; the feeling was mutual. But why? Just a few years
earlier, US and Russian officialsincluding Presidents Obama and

90 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Medvedevenjoyed high levels of respect and trust as they cooperated on
everything from Iran to visa reform. What caused such a dramatic change
in such a short time?
Irritants were a factor. Medvedev was disappointed that we were not
making fast enough progress on missile-defense cooperation. The Obama
administration grew frustrated by Moscows foot-dragging regarding the
commencement of new negotiations about deeper cuts in our nuclear arse-
nals. The Magnitsky Act, which sanctioned Russian human rights abusers,
ruffled Kremlin feathers. But all these issues could have been managed. The
real drama in our relations came not from officials in the White House or the
Kremlin but from common people demonstrating in the streets to demand
greater freedoms and democratic rule in 2011: in Egypt, Syria, Libya, and
then at the end of the year, Russia. Two years later, demonstrators again, this
time in Ukraine, triggered further tensions in US-Russia relations. Putins
response to those events, first the annexation of Crimea and then interven-
tion in support of insurgents in eastern Ukraine, ended for good our ability to
cooperate and compelled Obama to revert to more coercive instruments to
deal with Russia.
Throughout this period of popular uprising in the Arab world, then in Rus-
sia, and later Ukraine, Obama and the administration tried to convince our
Russian interlocutors
that the United States
was not fomenting revo- Sometimes, coercive diplomacy is
lution, but responding to the best approach.
the actions of individuals
in these countries over which we had no control. Initially, Obama persuaded
Medvedev, and in so doing obtained Russian acquiescence to abstain from
the vote on UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorized the use of
military force in Libya. Putin, however, had a different view, both of our inter-
vention in Libya and our neutrality regarding these popular demonstrations.
He publicly criticized Medvedev for supporting the intervention in Libya,
declaring that the UN resolution resembles medieval calls for crusades.
Putin also berated the United States for supporting regime change in other
countries in the Middle East.
After I became US ambassador to the Russian Federation in January 2012,
Putin blamed me personally for supporting the revolutionaries against his
regime. During my time as ambassador, Russian state-controlled media con-
stantly spun a wild conspiracy theory about American financial support for
Russian opposition leaders and their organizations.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 91
We tried to convince Putin and his government otherwise. We explained
that the CIA was not financing demonstrators in Cairo, Moscow, or Ukraine;
that it was not in the US national interest to provoke such instability. But
Putins theory of American poweringrained long ago as a KGB officer (and
confirmed, it must be admitted, by previous American actions in Iran, Latin
America, Serbia, and Iraq)was only reconfirmed by events during the Arab
Spring and espe-
cially on the streets
During my time as ambassador, Russian
of Moscow in the
state-controlled media constantly spun a winter of 2011 and
wild conspiracy theory about US support spring of 2012. In his
for opposition leaders. view, people dont
rise up indepen-
dently and spontaneously to demand greater freedom. They must be guided,
and the Obama administration was the hidden hand. On that, we profoundly
disagreed; our bilateral relations never recovered.
Putin is not alone in advancing this theory about the Obama administra-
tion and US foreign policy more generally. At times, candidate Trump argued
the same, promising to end (phantom) Obama policies of regime change.
Some Trump advisers echoed Putins false claims, blaming Obamas so-called
regime-change policies for renewed tensions in US-Russia relations. (There
was a time, not long ago, when Republicans criticized Obama for not doing
enough to promote freedom in the world, but that era seems over.) Trump
also made clear that he worried little about defending human rights or
advancing democracy abroad. When challenged on MSNBCs Morning Joe by
host Joe Scarborough for defending Putins violent ways, Trump responded:
I think our country does plenty of killing, also, Joe, so, you know. Theres a
lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, Joe. Putin loves this kind of
moral equivalency.

A BRIEF WINDOW
Obviously, the change from Obama to Trump creates the first condition for
a possible dtente with Russia. But a second condition also exists: the end of
popular mobilization against autocracies. In Russia, Putin has crushed and
contained the opposition. In Ukraine, the new government is struggling to
advance democratic and economic reforms while still fighting Russian-sup-
ported insurgents in eastern Ukraine. In Syria and Egypt, autocrats are reas-
serting their control, at least for now. In short, the main cause of increased
tensions in US-Russian relations in 2012 is now absent.

92 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


President Trump must use this moment wisely. Above all else, he must
reject Putins formulation of ends and means for a new reset. Putin seeks
several very concrete objectives from the new American president: lift
economic sanctions; endorse his way of warfare in Syria; acknowledge a
Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union; suspend missile
defense deployments in Europe; and, in his dream of dreams, recognize
Russian-Crimean unification. In return for these concrete outcomes,
Putin would give Trump his ephemeral, empty goal of better relations
with Russia. Obtaining these concessions from the president of the
United States also would help nurture Putins image as a powerful global
leader, which in turn might embolden him to pursue even more aggressive
policies in the former Soviet Union and eventually regarding European
institutions. With Trump on his side, Putins brand of conservative nation-
alism could begin to rival liberal democracy as a competing ideology with
global appeal.
Thats a bad deal for America. Instead, Trump first needs to develop his
own list of foreign-policy objectives, and then try to use this new opportunity
to engage Putin to achieve some of these outcomes in which Russia can be a
cooperative partner. But Trump must also be ready to ignore Russias desires
and even contain Russian behavior when such policies serve American
national interests.
The first move of his administrations policy toward Russia should be
the reassurance of our NATO allies. Endorsing recent NATO decisions to
enhance deterrence against Russian threats would signal needed continuity
with more than a half century of American foreign policy. In doing so, Trump
will incentivize our allies to spend more on defense without even uttering a
word about burden-sharing.
During the honeymoon phase, Putin is less likely to threaten a NATO ally.
Obtaining sanctions relief or recognition of his policies in Syria and Ukraine
are much more immediate priorities; Putin understands that these goals
will be less likely
achieved if, for
instance, Russia In Putins KGB-developed view, people
increases ten- dont rise up independently and spontane-
sions with the ously to demand greater freedom.
Baltic states. The
unfolding tensions within the European Union and, to a lesser extent, NATO
are unfolding very nicely from Putins perspective. Why rock the boat now? A
Trump declaration of support of NATO will not hinder his Putin courtship.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 93
Second, Trump must outline his conditions for lifting sanctions. To do so
unilaterally, without consultation with our European allies and partners,
and without getting anything in return from Russia, would be complete
capitulationa really bad deal. Such a decision would effectively condone
annexation and intervention, and thus have negative consequences for the
stability of the entire international order. German chancellor Angela Merkel
and Obama successfully worked together to impose sanctions against Rus-
sian individuals and
companies in response
Failure of Ukraines economic and to Russian military
political reforms would hand Moscow intervention in Ukraine.
a giant victory. While the response to
the annexation of Crimea
was slow, subsequent sanctions in reaction to Russian support for separatist
movements in eastern Ukraine were extensive and costly for individual Rus-
sian officials and companies. So far, Putin has not changed his position at all
regarding annexation and intervention in Ukraine.
Consequently, one obvious strategy would be to maintain the status quo
sanctions will be lifted when Russia implements its commitments in the
Minsk Agreement, including first and foremost restoring control of the state
border between Ukraine and Russia to the Ukrainian government. If, how-
ever, the Trump administration concludes that Minsk will never be imple-
mented, it must engage with Moscow, Kyiv, Berlin, and Paris to replace this
agreement with something else. Simply walking away while lifting sanctions
would equal total victory for Putin and validate the notion that the strong
can invade the weak without penalty.
Third, the Trump administration must provide smarter economic aid,
political assistance, and technical help for Ukraine to succeed both as a
market economy and democracy. Putin supports the continuation of low-level
conflict in eastern Ukraine as a means to undermine Kyivs legitimacy and
slow reforms. The Trump administration must do more to seek the opposite
outcome, including using a change in administration to put additional pres-
sure on Kyiv to reform. If Ukraines economic and political reforms failed
again, it would hand Moscow a giant victory. Conversely, democratic consoli-
dation and economic growth in Ukraine would constitute a major setback for
Putins hegemonic agenda in the region.
Fourth, Trump must not simply endorse Putins military intervention in
Syria but define his own objectives regarding this tragic civil war. Trump
wants to join forces with Russia to fight the Islamic State, but Putin seems

94 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


perfectly content to watch the United States and our allies do the major
fighting against this terrorist organization in Syria and Iraq. In another
departure from Obamas policy, Trump has called for the creation of safe
zones in Syria. Maybe he could use his powers of persuasion with Putin to
persuade him not to violate the borders of these no-fly zones, or, even better,
to contribute relief aid to those living in these safe areas.
Fifth, the Trump administration must develop a more effective cyber-secu-
rity policy, which would include deterring Russia but also other countries.
Trumps first move toward this end must be to recognize the problem: its
time to stop doubting the overwhelming evidence marshaled by our intelli-
gence community that Russian actors stole information from the Democratic
Party and party leaders and then released this information with the intent
to influence our democratic process. We will never be safe until the Trump
administration acknowledges this violation of our sovereignty and then takes
action to prevent such attacks. In parallel, the new administration must
increase our cyber-
defenses and resilience
to protect the homeland Putin supports continuing low-
from Russia, as well level conflict in eastern Ukraine as a
as other countries and means to undermine Kyivs legitima-
domestic actors. Down
cy and slow reforms.
the road, Trump should
consider engaging Putin to agree to some basic norms about cyberwarfare.
Sixth, Trump should consider pursuing some smaller, quick wins to
demonstrate the virtues of his rapprochement with Putin, and thereby build
momentum for doing bigger deals. For instance, Trump could ask Putin to
lift the ban on American parents adopting Russian orphans, a policy that
only punishes innocent children. Given that both Trump and Putin seem
uninterested in deeper nuclear weapons cutsin fact Trump has argued for
expanding our nuclear arsenalthe two presidents could instead endorse an
extension of the New START agreement to keep the treatys limits in place
and, equally important, maintain the rigorous inspections regime codified in
this agreement. Or, now that the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in
Europe has lapsed, the two presidents could agree to provide greater trans-
parency to each other about military training exercises and deployments in
Europe.
Seventh, Trump has to begin to disentangle some of the contradictions in
his policy statements during the campaign and transition. His pledge to rip
up the Iran nuclear deal will not win favor with Putin. The Russian president

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 95
will never agree to impose new sanctions on Iran because Russia is seeking
to expand economic ties and military sales to the Islamic Republic and has
allied with Tehran in the Syrian war.
In addition, Trumps embrace of Russia creates more tension in our
bilateral relations with China. Trumps promise to look into recognition of
Crimea as part of Russia completely contradicts his vow to review Americas
one-China policy. Trumps most recent pledge to strengthen and expand
our nuclear weapons arsenal eventually will complicate his pursuit of other
cooperative policies with Moscow. And Russian military officials are waiting
anxiously for greater clarity on Trumps approach to missile defense. If his
campaign promise to increase military spending also means new enhance-
ments for our missile defense systems in Europe and Asia, the honeymoon
with Russia could be a short one.

Reprinted by permission of Foreign Policy (www.foreignpolicy.com).


2017 Foreign Policy Group LLC. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Warriors and


Citizens: American Views of Our Military, edited by
Kori N. Schake and Jim Mattis. To order, call (800)
888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

96 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


R USSI A

RUSS I A

Its Best Not to


Mess with Us
The nuclear poker game with Moscow has already
begunor, rather, resumed.

By Paul R. Gregory

P
resident Trumps tweet last December that the United States
must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until
such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes
ignited a meltdown among his critics. The media outrage mul-
tiplied when he later declared: Let it be an arms race. The United States,
he wrote, will outmatch them [our nuclear adversaries] at every pass and
outlast them all.
Although the Trump tweet is in the spirit of Barack Obamas trillion-dollar
nuclear modernization program, Trumps critics accused him of threatening
peace and stability, encouraging nuclear proliferation, violating nonprolifera-
tion treaties, backtracking on Ronald Reagans nuclear policy, and having a
very scary misunderstanding of nuclear warfare.
The tweet came shortly after Vladimir Putin spoke about strengthening
Russias nuclear triadthe strategy of relying on nuclear weapons based on
land, in submarines, and on long-range bombersin his traditional year-end
press conference. Such words are not new. In August 2014, Putin reminded

Paul R. Gregory is a visiting 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.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 97
one and all that Russia is one of the largest nuclear powers. This is a reality,
not just words. He added: Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleash-
ing a large-scale conflict with Russia. At a meeting in Germany of retired US
and Russian generals, the Russian participants warned that any attempt to
retake Crimea, or any military clash in the Baltic republics, which have siz-
able Russian minorities, could be met with nuclear force.
We could perhaps dismiss the Kremlins nuclear saber rattling as just
words were pre-emptive nuclear strikes not part of the official Russian
Revised Military Doctrine of 2014 as analyzed by the Swedish Defense
Research Institute in its triannual Russian Military Capability in a Ten-Year
Perspective. Paragraph 27 states: The Russian Federation reserves the right
to utilize nuclear weapons in response to the utilization of nuclear and other
types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, and also in
the event of aggression against the Russian Federation involving the use of
conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is under threat.
The decision to utilize nuclear weapons is made by the president of the Rus-
sian Federation.
That a nuclear Russia invokes its right to retaliate against a nuclear strike
is standard operating procedure, but that official Russian military doctrine
allows for a nuclear first strike if an opponent, using only conventional weap-
ons, threatens the existence of the state should evoke considerable alarm.
The risk of a nuclear conflict may be higher today than at any time since
the 1980s, warns a Russia expert at Washingtons Georgetown University.
Unfortunately, societies and political establishments . . . seem in large part
unaware that this truly existential threat has returned.
Russias 2014 Revised Military Doctrine designates two threats that the
Russian state faces. One is the internal threat of a color revolutionby
domestic opponentsthat
overthrows the Rus-
The Kremlin could decide that any sian state. The other is
number of threats rise to the level of the external threat from
nuclear deterrence. foreign forces. According
to the Revised Military
Doctrine, the domestic threat is to be dealt with by internal repression, pro-
paganda, and a pervasive police state. The external threat is to be countered
by conventional and nuclear weapons. The external and internal threats are
closely linked: a Russian color revolution, like Ukraines Maidan, must be the
result of planning, support, and execution by hostile powers, according to
Russian doctrine.

98 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Note that, according to Russian military doctrine, conventional weapons
and nukes are there to protect the Russian state, a.k.a. the Putin regime,
not the Russian people. It is therefore up to the Russian state to decide what
external and internal threats constitute a threat to the Russian state. The
outer aggression and the inner repression reinforce each other. The Swed-
ish Defense Research
Institutes Ten-Year
Perspective concludes Official Russian military doctrine
that there is a political allows for a nuclear first strike if an
determination of the opponent, using only conventional
Russian leadership to
weapons, threatens the existence of
use nuclear weapons as a
the state.
primary tool for foreign
policy coercion.
By combining domestic and external threats, the Kremlin could decide that
any number of threats rise to the level of nuclear deterrence. At the height of
the crisis over Crimea in 2014, Vladimir Putin ominously declared, Its best
not to mess with us. . . . I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading
nuclear powers. Putins public representatives regularly engage in nuclear
saber rattling, such as his propagandist-in-chiefs warning that impu-
dent behaviorsuch as NATO troops in the Balticmight have nuclear
consequences.
Meanwhile, Russian media are preparing the population for nuclear war. In
one Moscow district, local authorities asked residents to contribute to build-
ing bomb shelters because of the growing international tensions, particular-
ly the expected nuclear aggression against Russia by unfriendly countries.
To reinforce the seriousness of intent, Russian nuclear bombers are regularly
sent to challenge NATO and US air space.
Insofar as Russias launching a tactical nuclear attack will likely lead to
nuclear retaliation, Russia must make its threat sufficiently credible to
persuade its external opponent to cease and desist on its hostile action.
Russia will therefore use its primary instrument of foreign policy coercion
its nuclear threatto frighten off NATO countries, including the United
States. According to Russias new National Security Strategy, the threat of
nuclear weapons can be used to prevent a local war from escalating into a
regional war.
Although Russia has doubled its military spending since 2008 (largely on
equipment and technology), today it spends the equivalent of 15 percent of
the US military budget and 40 percent of NATOs. If Russia invaded a Baltic

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 99
state, it could occupy the country within a short time. But it would suffer
severe losses and probably have to retreat if there were a concerted NATO
counterattack. Any invasion decision would therefore have to depend upon
the success of strategic deterrence. Could it frighten away NATO with the
threat of nuclear strikes?
Vladimir Putin has demonstrated that he can run roughshod over the
NATO countries and over a US president. Now he faces a new president in a
game of the highest-stakes poker possible. We can only wait to see how this
will work out.

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.

100 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


R USSI A

RUSS I A

Chicken Soup for


the Russian Soul
A strongman with a messianic streak, Vladimir
Putin might almost have stepped from the pages
of Russian history.

By Ralph Peters

A
skilled miner is useless without a seam of ore. President Vladi-
mir Putin, Russias czar in all but name, has a genius for mining
the ore of Russian nationalism but the crucial factor is that the
ore was there, waiting to be exploited. A ruler perfectly fitted
to Russian tradition, Putin is the right man at the right time to dig up Rus-
sias baleful obsessions, messianic delusions, and aggressive impulses.
The short answer to the question Why is Putin so aggressive? is because
aggression works. The twenty-first century is revisionist: after the collapse of
European empires in the twentieth century, old imperial and crusading (a.k.a.
jihadi) forces have reawakened in Orthodox Russia, in post-Ottoman Turkey, in
Shia Persia, and among Sunni Muslims entranced by romanticized caliphates.
History didnt end. It just rolled over. The human chronicle reverted to forms
dating back millennia (the geographic aspirations of todays rulers in Iran match
those of Cyrus the Great). Racial and religious hatred are back in vogue, and
brutalities we view as transgressive are merely a return to form for humankind.
Putins Russia is a perfect fit.

Ralph Peters is a member of the Hoover Institutions Working Group on the Role
of Military History in Contemporary Conflict.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 101


THE RUSSIAN DNA
As for why Russians respond so well to Putins smirking belligerence, naked
corruption, and growing tyranny, the short answer is Because theyre Rus-
sians! Assigning national characteristics may be politically incorrect, but
its strategically essential if we hope to understand the depths of emotion, the
ingrained responses, and the social DNA that have allowed Putin to become
the most successful leader in Moscow since Josef Stalin (a figure currently
undergoing rehabilitation in Russias media).
Putins invocation of strong leaders reaches back beyond Stalin, however,
through the early eighteenth centurys Peter the Great to the late sixteenth
centurys Ivan the Terrible, both ferocious empire-builders and Russian to
the core. Catherine the Great, whose military conquests outshone those of
Ivan and Peter, remains absent from Putins gallery of heroes, though: Cath-
erine was born a German princess, and only Russians need apply to Putins
pantheonwith the Georgian Stalin the sole and alarming exception.
Western observerseven many familiar with Russian affairsrefuse to
recognize either Putins brilliance or the innate predilections of Russians. As
to the first, Putin didnt go to the right prep school and, literally, lacks table
manners. So Western elites long dismissed him and still attempt to explain
his success away. Even now, in the wake of Putins unchallenged interfer-
ence in a US presidential election, Washington insiders decline to credit
his genius. Regarding the second point, the Russian predilections, a chaotic
burst of freedom after the Soviet Unions collapse didnt convert Russians to
our liberal values; rather, it terrified them. Meanwhile, our disregard of the
profoundly different historical experiences that molded the Russian mental-
ity amounts to self-congratulatory and self-deluding folly.
So what are the key historical ingredients that combine to give us Putin
and a Russia once again militant? What political qualities make Russians
Russian? What has allowed a state composed of eleven time zones of desola-
tion, poverty, and disease to reclaim its status as a superpower?
Dread of chaos. If Germans revere order (and they do), Russians crave
it. The threat of smutnoye vremya, a time of troubles of political and social
breakdown, is more unnerving to Russians than plague or fire (both of which
often accompanied troubled times in the filthy, wooden Moscow of the czars).
Deadly upheavalsgenerally the result of a power vacuumhave unleashed
anarchic demons time and again, permanently scarring the Russian soul,
the Russkaya dusha, so deeply that even the two greatest Russian operas,
Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina, both deal with such periods of disorder,
while the Soviet-era novels most revered in the West, Doctor Zhivago and

102 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Quiet Flows the Don, both emerged from another time of troubles. And then
there was Akhmatova, the poet of fracture and loss, who lived through hor-
rors beyond Hieronymus Bosch or H. P. Lovecraft.
While every extant nation has had crises, in just the past hundred years
Russia has suffered military defeat, revolution, civil war, repeated famines,
multiple insurgencies, the most devastating invasion of modern times, mass
repression and vast concentration camps, the loss of empire and economic
chaos, and a swift col-
lapse from superpower
status to shame and Brutalities we see as transgressive are
lawlessness. In one merely a return to form for humankind.
century, from 1917 to
2017, at least fifty million and perhaps twice that many Russians and subject
peoples died violently, or of starvation, or of epidemic disease, a loss propor-
tionate to the Black Death of the fourteenth century, the last time Europe
suffered so great a demographic catastrophe.
Given the tales still told by Russian grandmothers, the average Russian will
choose Putin over liberty.
And one must note: Putin had a powerful insight that eluded the past cen-
turys totalitarians: it doesnt matter if people complain around the kitchen
table or in the bedroom, as long as they hold their tongues when they step
outside. Previous dictators, from Stalin and Mao through Orwells fictional
Big Brother, tried to control every thoughtan impossible task, given human
fractiousness. Human beings need a realm in which they can revile the
government clerk or even the czarin Putins Russia, thats your apartment
or dacha, once the door is shut. Go on, get drunk, pity yourself, blame the
bureaucrats, and beat your wifePutin only requires that you toe the line in
public (hungover or not). Given Russias history, its a bargain.
The strong czar. For all the reasons above (and there are far more
historical justifications), Russians admire and support leaders who guaran-
tee security. On the sunniest day, Russians expect it to rain. And the czar is
their umbrella. To a greater extent than in Western Europe, Russian rulers
were viewed, however incorrectly, as the peoples champion and a check on
the voracious, capricious nobility, the boyari. The clichd sigh of the Russian
peasant, If only the czar knew! in the face of the aristocracys depredations
was psychologically essential: the czar as future savior and redeemer. If only
he knew. . . .
A sense of divine mission. Just as beautifully educated Western chat-
mongers dismiss Islam as a source of Islamist terrorism, so they write off

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 103


Putins embrace of the Orthodox Church as politically expedient. That reads
the man, his people, and the church utterly wrong. Even if Putin doesnt fit
our conception of a believer (although William James wisely pointed out that
belief takes many forms), he is imbued with a mythic sense of mission. The
idea of Moscow as the Third Rome is the Russian version of our city on a
hill, only stronger in tone and far more aggressive in practice.
Possessed by our kiddie-car version of realpolitik, we dismiss religions role
in strategic affairs. But faiths burrow deep into the consciousness of men and
nations. Stalin is gone, but the Orthodox Church he sought to crush remains.
Czars consistently viewed themselves as defenders of their faith against not
only their immutable enemy, the Turk, but against the Catholic Pole, the Bal-
tic or Swedish Lutheran and, of course, the Jew. In the nineteenth century,
Russias militant foreign policy was driven by the goal of liberating and pro-
tecting Orthodox nations and by pan-Slavismeven at the cost of strategic
self-interest. In the end, Russia found itself paralyzed by its embrace of this
destiny, first because fellow Slavs (not least the Poles) had their own quar-
rels and would not unite under Moscows tutelage, but also because the key
Orthodox states, Serbia, Bulgaria, and (non-Slav) Greece, no sooner gained
full independence than they engaged in a round of wars with each other that
drew Russia deeper into Balkan affairs and, consequently, into the Great War.
Time and again, imperial Russia leapt before it lookeda literal leap of
faith. The same pattern
is alive and well today,
Go on, get drunk, pity yourself, blame with Putins vision of a
the bureaucrats, and beat your wife restored empire of the
Putin only requires that you toe the czars and hegemony over
line in public. all lands possessed of a
Slavic heritage or that
embrace the Orthodox faith. Do not seek logic here: humanity is governed by
emotion.
As a relevant note on the Orthodox faith: its utterly unlike the rational
organizations that most Western Protestant churches and, increasingly,
papal Catholicism have become. The Orthodox faith is mystical and millenar-
ian, far closer to the pre-Christian mystery religions of the Near East than
to, say, Episcopalianism. The iconostasis is the gateway to Asia.
Insularity. After just over a decade of relative freedom of the press,
Putin began to put an end to media criticism of his government. And the
only Russians who have objected are pallid members of the intelligentsia,
which has ever been out of touch with the common people. The result is that

104 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


despite the vaunted power of the Internet, Russians today are astonishingly
insularas they always have been. And Putin knows how to serve up delecta-
ble propaganda that bolsters the national ego and, even better, blames others
for all of Russias mistakes and misfortunes.
Because our Rus-
sia experts generally
meet only well-educated Analysts write off Putins embrace
counterparts, they have of the Orthodox Church as politically
no sense of the weight of expedient. That reads him, his peo-
centuries of ignorance on ple, and the church utterly wrong.
Russian minds. Suspect
books were banned under czars and Soviet leaders alike (the brief czarist
liberalization of the press after the 1905 revolution proved catastrophic).
Propaganda has always been effectiveand often exported (Protocols of the
Elders of Zion, anyone?). Prince Potemkin didnt invent the false facade, he
was merely its first true master.
In the nineteenth century, even Russian nobles needed government per-
mission to travel abroad. Russias vastness, too, its stunning remoteness,
hindered factual awareness of all that was not Russianand of much that
was. On the positive side of Russias isolation, Russians didnt suffer the wide-
spread devastation of the syphilis epidemic that ravaged Europe for over four
centuriesRussias few, awful roads and trackless expanses held the spiro-
chete at bay until the railroad came; today, of course, Russia is AIDS-ridden,
thanks to the advantages of modernity.
Egalitarianism. Karl Marx did not think Russia would lead the com-
munist revolution because he didnt know Russia. A bourgeois German
panhandler living in London, he had no idea of the traditional communalism
among Russian peasants or of the proto-communist egalitarianism preached
by the Orthodox Church (along with respect for authority, of course), espe-
cially among the Old Believers and other offshoot cults. Again, clichs exist
because they capture truths. Russians can stomach a great deal of misery, as
long as the misery is shared equally by all (ruling classes get a pass, until the
next peasant uprising). The daily degradations of the Soviet era remained
acceptable long after other nations would have rebelled because life was
more or less equally wretched for everyone.
Then came the uproar of the 1990s. Some Russians got rich quick (and
some of the best-known oligarchs were Jews, reinforcing Russian anti-
Semitism). The compact was broken. Suddenly, haves and have-nots were
neighbors, and friends left friends behind in their gilded wake. Guaranteed

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 105


jobs disappeared. Savings became worthless as foreign products tantalized.
Warned for seventy years that capitalists were gangsters, Russians abruptly
were told to become
capitalistsand became
Despite the power of the Internet, gangsters. The nuclear
Russians today are astonishingly superpower lay humili-
insularas they always have been. ated. And Big Macs were
insufficient consolations
for the sense of failure, betrayal, and shame.
Putin understood. Perhaps his greatest gift is his ability to read presidents
and populations. Former president George W. Bush believed that he had seen
into Putins soul, but Bush saw only his own reflection. Putin saw deep into
Bush, though, as he later saw through President Obama, and as he grasped
the weakness of a European political order in its dotage, and as he felt the
wounds of his own people.
He began by giving Russians back their pride. Now he is giving them the
gift that Russian culture values above all else: revenge.

ONCE AND FUTURE TERRITORIES


For all that, hes one czar in a long line. He longs for empire, to regain eastern
and central Ukraine (the western sliver was part of Austria-Hungary and
can wait), territory that was brought under czarist rule only in the mid-
eighteenth century and remained subject to popular revolts, some of them,
such as the Pugachev uprising, hugely destructive. Catherine the Greats
generals conquered Crimea only in the 1770s (she annexed it in 1783, and
Premier Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine in 1954, but thats another story).
Much of the Caucasus wasnt subdued until the mid-nineteenth century,
and Central Asias khanates, imperial Russias wild east, fell in the same
decades that saw the United States subdue its Western plains.
The territories of the Baltic states, which Putin longs to recapture, have
been subject to dispute
between various powers
Now Putin is giving his people the gift since the Middle Ages,
that Russian culture values above all long before the current
else: revenge. states existed. As Russia
gobbled up the ground
previously ruled by a German nobility (peasant ethnicities didnt matter to
anyone), its Baltic possessions became of special importance.

106 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Add to these age-old conquests and reawakened ambitions Russias
renewed pan-Slavic, neo-Orthodox mantle and the persistent longing for
warm-water ports and access to the worlds seas, and you have only to substi-
tute the United States for the German-speaking empires of yesteryear to see
a formula for the Great War Redux.
The salient difference? In 1914, Russia had a weak czar. Today, Russia has a
strong czar accustomed to winning.

Subscribe to the online Hoover Institution journal Strategika (www.


hoover.org/publications/strategika) for analysis of issues of national secu-
rity in light of conflicts of the past. 2017 The Board of Trustees of the
Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Zhivagos


Secret Journey: From Typescript to Book, by Paolo
Mancosu. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 107


R U SS I A

R U SS I A

Red Dawn
A hundred years ago, Russias last czar pondered
revolution, the modern world, and the end of the
Romanovs. Historian Robert Service explores the
mind of Nicholas II.

By Ellie Cawthorne

Ellie Cawthorne, BBC History: Your new book looks at the final months of
Russias last czar, Nicholas II. Nicholas was a very controversial figure. What
made you want to re-evaluate or re-examine him?

Robert Service: Well, the real reason, the honest reason, is that I accidentally
came across some new material. I had just finished a book on the end of the
Cold War and I wanted to do something different, and I find that if you yo-yo
between one end of Russian history and the other, its refreshing. Suddenly I
came across these amazing files that were the original inquiry into the death
of Nicholas II, plus a lot of correspondence, which I dont think anyone has
looked at properly before, relating to the judicial discussions that went on in
Siberia about the inquiry itself. And as a jobbing historian, I thought this is
a gold mine, this is not a chance to be missed. I looked at the period after his
fall from power and you might ask, what is interesting about that, apart from
the personal tragedy and the family tragedy? Because Nicholas was shot,
along with his immediate family, in July 1918.
I thought that if I look at his diary and if I look at the conversations he had
with the people of his entourage and his jailers at a time when hes out of

Robert Service is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of The
Last of the Tsars: Nicholas II and the Russian Revolution (Macmillan,
2017). Ellie Cawthorne is a web editor at BBC History.

108 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


power and hes not trying to impress anyone, when hes not having to pretend
any more, when he doesnt have to deceive ministers or policemen who are
acting on his behalf or advisers on the agrarian question or whatever, Ill
get somewhere nearer to what he really did think about life and politics in
Russia.
So that was the real incentive for writing the book. It was a political incen-
tive as well as a psychological and personal incentive. Its not just about the
way that Nicholas lived for the last sixteen months of his life, its about what
Nicholas thought about Russia, about Europe, about foreigners, about the
war, about revolution, and its all there.

Cawthorne: Can you just run us through what happened in those last
months? How did we get from Nicholass abdication to his execution?

Service: Nicholas II was based at the eastern front by choice from 1915
onwards, and he was at the front or near the front when political demonstra-
tions took place in the Russian capital, Petrograd, hundreds of miles away.
And the parliament, the Duma, had a leadership that made it very clear that
if there was to be tranquility behind the front lines for Russia to pursue the
war effort, then he had to step down. Now, politicians had often said that he
should step down before. Liberals and a lot of conservatives wanted to see
the back of him, but this time the high command agreed. And Nicholas had a
very deep affection for his military, and this broke his spirit. When he found
that politicians whom he
totally despised wanted
to see the back of him, he He was exhausted as a wartime
ignored them, but when leader. . . . He felt that by stepping
his best generals said the down he would remove himself as
same thingthey didnt an obstacle to national unity among
put it in an impertinent Russians. And he was a Russian
way, but they did say that
national patriot above all else.
there wouldnt be peace
in the country until he abdicatedthen he suddenly abdicated.
He stepped down from the throne, amazing everyone around him, and he
became a private citizen. He became Nicholas Romanov, and he was taken
into custody in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo outside Petrograd,
where he lived in pretty comfortable circumstances until August 1917, when
for reasons of political security, the provisional government thought it best to
transfer him to somewhere more distant. So they sent him to Western Sibe-
ria. Then the Bolsheviks took power in the October Revolution, and it was

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 109


no longer a matter of indifference to the new government as to how Nicholas
and his family were confined. They decided, partly to make sure that nothing
untoward happened to him but mainly because they wanted to have more
control over the conditions of his confinement, to move him to Yekaterinburg
in the Urals, and he went on a helter-skelter train ride. There was, for a day
or two, a suspicion that the people escorting him were going to try to enable
him to escape across the Far East. So there was a real harum-scarum day
or two when the train went east and then it went west again before it finally
arrived in Yekaterinburg.
There they stayed until July 1918, when the order was given to shoot
themand not just shoot the Romanovs but shoot the retainers, even shoot
some of the pet dogs, and they were thrown down a mine shaft after being
burnt on a funeral pyre out in the countryside away from the gaze of peas-
ants. There their remains existed until the end of the last century.

Cawthorne: Your book draws on some new material from Nicholas himself
and the things that he was reading. What insights do you get from this mate-
rial about how Nicholas took this momentous decision?

Service: What these documents tell us is that he was exhausted as a wartime


leader, that he was committed to the army, that he felt that by stepping down
he would remove himself as an obstacle to national unity among Russians,
and that he was a Russian national patriot above all else. Although he was an
emperor who ruled Ukrainians and Uzbeks and Georgians, he identified him-
self above all with the Russiansvery strongly with the sort of Russia that
had existed before Peter the Great had Europeanized it. So he introduced the
court, forming a ceremonial that he thought had existed before the year 1700.
So he was a bit of a nostalgic. He was really, literally, a reactionary, and he
felt very deeply that his dynasty or at least he couldnt rule the country in a
way appropriate to this way of thinking about Mother Russia.

Cawthorne: We are of course coming up to the centenary of the Russian Rev-


olution. To what extent was Nicholas to blame for everything that unfolded?

Service: Nicholas II was a very reluctant reformer who had allowed a parlia-
ment to exist in Russia because of the revolutionary disturbances of the year
1905, but he never reconciled himself to thatand he annoyed those moder-
ate conservatives who got elected to the state Duma who might have worked
cooperatively with the Duma. So Nicholas II didnt have very much chance of
avoiding a future with much more drastic reforms in it than he had already

110 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


INGLORIOUS MASTER: This formal portrait shows Nicholas II as the ruler
he wanted to be: steady, assured, regal. After he abdicated, the czar lived as a
private citizen until the Bolsheviks, concerned about keeping control over the
former royal family, ordered the Romanovs executed. [Hoover Institution Archives
Historic Poster Collection]
conceded. But he stood next to no chance of surviving when this rather rick-
ety political system was put under the pressure of total war.
Nicholas had been intransigent. He compromised as little as he possibly
could. He brought a certain amount of scandal on the dynasty by his liaison
with Grigori Rasputin. There were rumors that Nicholass wife was having
an affair with Rasputin. It wasnt true, but it was an indication of the general
annoyance with Nicholas that a scandal like that could take off so readily.
This would have been difficult enough a storm to weather if the war hadnt
occurred and if the war hadnt gone on so long, and it put everything under
strain: administration, transport, food supplies, housing. Russia was in a
mess behind the lines, and in an angry mess. His failure to confront the ques-
tions of daily life that affected ordinary workers, ordinary peasants, these
people were not having an easy life in wartimehis preoccupation with the
army, while understandable, was disastrous.
So he did bring this revolution upon his own head. I think he was also an
exhausted man. You almost get the feeling from his diary and from his entou-
rage that he was relieved to lay down the burdens of office. You dont get the
feeling that he regretted losing power; you get the feeling that he regretted
the way that he lost power and the consequences for the politics of the coun-
try. But there doesnt seem to have been any personal regret.

Cawthorne: So, as you say, he was somewhat blind to a lot of the problems
that his people were facing. Was he aware of all the issues and ignoring them,
or was he just ignorant of them?

Service: I dont think Nicholas II had the slightest idea about how a peas-
ant lived in Russia before the First World War. The peasants that he saw
were devout Christians on pilgrimages, people who were going to be defer-
ential and not say anything rambunctious to him. He didnt really know the
peasants.
Actually, theres a very interesting thing about the period after he fell from
power. One of his jailers was an ex-convict who had been imprisoned for
shooting a policeman in a political incident in the 1890s. A man called Pan-
kratov. They just loved talking to each other about Siberia, about peasants,

TWILIGHT: In his final years, the last czar tried earnestly to learn about the
people and the land he once ruled. He spent hours talking to a jailer about the
realities of Russia and read books that his own government had censored.
Eventually he came to brood about the power of the Jews, who he decided had
destroyed his empire. [Library of Congress]

112 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


about reindeer, about the climate. Now, Nicholas had been through Siberia
as the heir to the throne in the 1890s, and of course he only saw crowds of
people who loved the
Romanovs. Pankratov
Its about what Nicholas really told him about the other
thought about Russia, about Europe, Siberiathe physical,
about foreigners, about the war, about political, social, and
economicand to do him
revolution. Its all there.
justice, Nicholas wanted
to learn this from this remarkable old man, and so they had endless conver-
sations. They used to lock themselves in a room and talk about Siberia, and
if you look at the books that Nicholas read in Tsarskoye Selo, then Tobolsk,
then Yekaterinburg, a lot of them are about sections of the population with
whom he had very little contact.

Cawthorne: Does that suggest that after he had been forced to abdicate, he
recognized that he didnt fully understand Russia?

Service: He was a very proud, self-confident man, but he knew there were
gaps in his knowledge. I know that sounds contradictory, but I dont think
he ever went around dolefully saying to anyone, I really messed it up. He
never said that to anyone, even though he had. Most of the country thought
he was a ruler who had messed up the economy and politics and all the rest
of it. He did know that there were things about Russia that he didnt know
enough aboutthat he hadnt had enough time to know about. So he read,
for example, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Again, theres an irony here:
Tolstoy was regarded by
the Orthodox Church as
Russia was in a mess behind the a heretic. His works were
lines, and in an angry mess. subject to censorship
before the 1905 revolu-
tion, and whose government was running the censorship? Nicholas II. He was
plugging the gaps in his own education and in the education that hed given
his children.

Cawthorne: Perhaps to give Nicholas his due, what redeeming qualities did
he have as a leader? Do you think theres any way he could have pulled it back
from the brink?

Service: I cant think of any serious redeeming qualities, because Nicholas


was a very poor leader. It would have taken an amazingly talented leader to

114 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


rule Russia, keep the peace, and reform Russia without disintegrating Rus-
sia. It was going to take a political genius, and he certainly wasnt a genius.
He was a limited man. He didnt recognize this in himself though because
he was surrounded by toadies, people who just said the right thing to him
(and if people didnt say the right thing to him they didnt get invited back
to court).
Nicholas II had lots of time to think about the consequences of his abdica-
tion and who was to blame for the travails that affected the country in the
rest of 1917 and then
into 1918, and there he
revealed himself defini- You dont get the feeling that he
tively as having an idea
regretted losing power; you get the
about politics that was
feeling that he regretted the way that
very close to what later
became known as fas- he lost power and the consequences
cism. He really believed for the politics of the country.
that the Jews were an
alien, dark force dedicated to the breakup of the Russian empire and to the
ending of what he saw as Russian, Christian civilization. His idea was that
Russia was steadily falling into the hands of Jews, and he thought the proof of
this was what happened in the October Revolution when the Bolsheviks took
power. He wrote in his diary a list of the Bolshevik leaders, some of whose
names he got wrong, and then he put alongside them their original names,
because all of them had revolutionary pseudonyms, and he was convinced
that all the Bolsheviks were Jewish.

Cawthorne: How did it go from Nicholas being in exile to Nicholas being


executed?

Service: Ultimately they hoped to put on a show trial. They hoped to


bring him back and hold a trial that would arraign him for all the political,
economic, and military difficulties that the country had fallen into. Why
didnt they do that? The conventional reason given for this is that the Yeka-
terinburg Bolsheviks, in partial consultation with Lenin back in Moscow,
took the initiative and pressed the Moscow leadership to accept the need to
execute the Romanovs before they fell into the hands of the anti-Bolsheviks.
But Ive come to conclude that it wasnt just the military situation in Yeka
terinburg; it was also the military situation in Moscow that played a part.
This explains why Lenin was so ready to approve a decision to shoot them
all at that moment. The Bolsheviks were nothing if not ruthless. If you had

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 115


people who might be put at the head of a counterrevolutionary force, then
you liquidated them.
Nicholas II has become a useful historical object in the hands of those
in Russia who would like to have seen a restoration of the monarchy. Well,
thats obvious, but hes
also being treated as a
It would have taken an amazingly martyr: hes been can-
talented leader to rule Russia, keep onized by the Russian
Orthodox Church. Even
the peace, and reform Russia without
Vladimir Putin has shown
disintegrating Russia. It was going to
elaborate respect toward
take a political genius, and he certain- the memory of Nicholas
ly wasnt a genius. II. And Nicholas II has
started to be roman-
ticized even by many Russians who dont politically share his ideas about
public affairs. What Ive tried to do in my book is bring back the historical
Nicholas II. A man who was a decent family man, a complacent ruler, and
a far-right political thinker, a more complex man than the rather romantic
figure that appears in Russian publications and appears widely in Western
books to this day.

Reprinted by permission from History Extra (www.historyextra.com), in


association with BBC History magazine. 2017 Immediate Media Com-
pany Ltd.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is A


Memoir of the Missile Age: One Mans Journey, by
Vitaly Leonidovich Katayev. To order, call (800) 888-
4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

116 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


INT E LLIGEN C E A N D DE F E N SE

I NTEL L I GENCE AND DE F E N SE

Trump Versus the


Spies
All presidents clash with their intelligence
experts, but the hostility the new administration
has displayed is unusualand risky.

By Amy B. Zegart

A
few months back, something stunning happened on Capitol Hill:
Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Armed
Services Committee practically stood shoulder to shoulder
with senior officials from the US intelligence community as
they declared that Americas spies were right after all: the Russian govern-
ment had sought to interfere in the US presidential election by hacking into
election-related e-mail and leaking information. It was a striking bipartisan
rebuke to the president-elect, who had consistently cast skepticism on allega-
tions of Russian involvement and seemed to disparage the intelligence com-
munity. Perhaps in anticipation of that committee hearing, Donald Trump
was already backpedaling on Twitter before it started, declaring, The media
lies to make it look like I am against Intelligence when in fact I am a big fan!
This never mind tweet is unlikely to repair the dangerous breach between
the president and the intelligence agencies that serve him. Presidents often

Amy B. Zegart is a Davies Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, co-
chair of Hoovers Working Group on Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy, and
a member of the Hoover task forces focusing on Arctic security and intellectual
property and innovation. She is also the co-director of the Center for International
Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 117


throw intelligence agencies under the bus when they fail. Never before had a
president-elect thrown them under the bus for succeeding. But thats exactly
what Trump had been doing for weeks. He called the CIAs assessment of the
Russian governments role in election hacking ridiculous and insisted repeat-
edly that the culprit could be anyone, including somebody sitting in a bed some
place. His transition team disparaged and discredited the CIA as the same
people who thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destructioneven
though they arent the same people, Russian cyber hacking isnt the same intel-
ligence target as Iraqi WMD, the Iraq failure was fourteen years ago, and intel-
ligence agencies have radically overhauled their analytic process since then.
The president also said before taking office that he wouldnt bother getting
daily intelligence briefingsmaking him the first president since 9/11 to skip
thembecause hes smart. And just a day before Trump declared himself an
intelligence fan, the Wall Street Journal reported that his team was cooking
up a Nixonesque scheme to purge the CIA and the Office of the Director of
National Intelligence of suspected politicization in the ranks by trimming and
reorganizing both agencies. (The Trump team denied this report, which was
based on the accounts of sources familiar with the planning, including at
least one close to the transition.)
With fans like this, who needs enemies?

SILENT WARRIORS
Some skepticism toward intelligence is healthy. And tension between
presidents and their intelligence agencies is nothing new. Bill Clinton met so
infrequently with his CIA Director, Jim Woolsey, that when a plane crashed
on the White House lawn, aides joked that it was Woolsey trying to get a
meeting. (Woolsey, incidentally, had been advising the Trump transition team
until resigning in early January, reportedly because of growing tensions
over Trumps vision for intelligence agencies.) Nearly all presidents leave
office disappointed and disgruntled with their intelligence apparatus, for two
reasons: because presidents want crystal balls and even the CIAs smartest
people dont have them; and because presidents resort to covert operations
for the toughest of problems, when all else failswhich is why covert opera-
tions usually fail, too. But no president until now has entered office with such
a profound, publicly vented distrust of his own intelligence establishment.
Trumps doubts are both understandable and alarming. Understandable
because we live in an era where threats are moving faster than bureaucrats,
and where hacks, tweets, leaks, and Internet news (both real and fake) make
information available everywhere, all the time, instantly. In this digital age, it is

118 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


reasonable to ask just what Americas intelligence community still brings to the
table.
The answer is a lot. US intelligence agencies have one overriding mission:
giving the president decision-making advantage in a dangerous and deceptive
world. Intelligence officials risk their lives to recruit foreign assets; they intercept
foreign e-mail and cell-phone communications; they build and deploy spy satel-
lites; they track obscure foreign government reports and trends for vital clues
about the stability of a regime or the health of a foreign economy. Sure, you can
find a Wikipedia page on just
about anything these days.
Where intelligence agencies Nearly all presidents leave office dis-
add value is by integrating appointed and disgruntled with their
the best open-source informa- intelligence apparatus.
tion with the secret nuggets
they gather. All intelligence is information. But not all information is intelligence.
Agencies like the CIA or NSA sort through a crushing daily stream of informa-
tion and marry it with secrets to yield insights that keep Americans safe and
advance the countrys national interests.
Do they get it wrong sometimes? Of course. In 1962, just weeks before an
American U-2 spy plane discovered unmistakable evidence of Soviet nuclear
missile installations in Cuba, the intelligence community completed an
assessment that concluded the Soviets would not dare place missiles in Cuba.
Today Americans remember the U-2 photos but forget the intelligence failure
that preceded them and led the United States to the nuclear brink. The intel-
ligence failures of 9/11 and Iraqi WMD are still fresh and searing.
But castigating intelligence officials because they dont succeed every time
is like saying Stephen Curry is a terrible NBA basketball player because he
doesnt make every three-point shot. Intelligence agencies are paid to pierce
the fog of the future as best they can. They tackle the toughest targetstry-
ing to divine the capabilities and intentions of adversaries who hide in caves,
send children to be suicide bombers, enrich uranium in secret underground
facilities, seek space weapons that could destroy GPS and every digital
system people use, and would detonate a nuclear bomb in a New York minute
to take out New York City. As one former senior intelligence official told me,
if the intelligence community is getting it right 100 percent of the time, then
they should be fired because they arent asking hard enough questions.
This is serious business, and intelligence agencies take it deadly seriously. They
are the silent warriors of America. Theres no holiday in their honor. Theres no
big public memorial on the National Mall. There are no Air Force flyovers or

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 119


standing ovations at football games for them. There are only unmarked stars on
the walls at Langley and Fort Meade honoring those at CIA and NSA who died in
silent service to their country. President Trump should try to feel their sacrifice.
Better yet, he should honor Americas intelligence professionals by listening to
what they have to saystarting with the daily intelligence briefing.

DONT DELEGATE THIS


The president cannot afford to delegate intelligence briefings to underlings in
todays threat environment, for three reasons that Trump should know well
from his experience in the business world.
First, nothing generates knowledge and results like face-to-face meetings.
Thats why CEOs fly around the world to meet in person instead of Skyping.
Whether in the boardroom or the Oval Office, good briefings are two-way
interactions that build trust and insight. Theyre golden moments for a senior
intelligence official to converse with the nations leader, to better understand
whats on his mind, what he wants to know, what he finds unconvincing, and
how the vast assets of the intelligence community can better serve him.
Second, good briefings informthey arm the commander in chief with a
view of what matters right now and what could matter tomorrow, so that he
isnt surprised. In foreign policy, surprises are never the good kind.
Third and finally, the daily briefing boosts morale. It says to the men and
women of the intelligence community, you matter. Nothing signals impor-
tance like minutes of the presidents schedule. Given the dangers America
confronts, the nation needs the intelligence community now more than ever.
The forty-fifth president needs to show that he thinks so, too.

Reprinted by permission of the Atlantic. 2017 Atlantic Monthly Group.


All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Eyes,


Ears, and Daggers: Special Operations Forces
and the Central Intelligence Agency in Americas
Evolving Struggle against Terrorism, by Thomas H.
Henriksen. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

120 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


T H E E N VI R ON M E N T

TH E ENVI RON ME NT

Energy Efficiency:
Still Low-hanging
Fruit
There are still plenty of ways we can use energy
more efficiently. Simple changes would produce
large effects.

By James L. Sweeney

E
nergy efficiency, though Key points
not the most exciting Smarter use of energy reduces
topic, has been and will oil imports, frees domestic coal
and gas for export, and reduces
continue to be fundamen- vulnerability to international politi-
tal to three things President Trump cal pressure.
has promised to improveeconomic The administration should
embrace and enhance energy
growth, trade deficits, and national
efficiency programs.
securityand one thing about which
Research and development
he promised to keep an open mind: should be encouraged.
climate change. Clear price signals will enhance
competition and boost innovation.

James L. Sweeney is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he is a mem-


ber of the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy and the Arctic Security
Initiative. He is a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford
University, the director of Stanfords Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, and a se-
nior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 121


Energy efficiency is about making or consuming more goods and services
with less energy, not sacrificing quality of life. No need for the latter. The
United States has made big gains in economically reducing energy use, and
plenty more opportunities remain.
How does that improve the US economy, trade deficits, and national secu-
rity? Smarter use of energy reduces oil imports, frees domestic coal and nat-
ural gas for export, and reduces vulnerability to international energy trade as
a political weapon. Reducing energy in manufacturing cuts costs, making our
products more competi-
tive in international mar-
Energy efficiency boosts firms prof- kets. Reducing household
its and cuts consumers costs. energy costs frees money
for buying other goods or
reducing debt. Energy efficiency in the military allows aircraft to fly farther,
ships to remain on battle station longer, and ground forces to reduce the
enormous vulnerability of fuel convoys. Reductions in energy use lessen US
emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, good for both the global
environment and the air we breathe.
Energy efficiency has another advantage: it has been a nonpartisan issue
ever since energy rose to national prominence in 1973also a time of height-
ened partisanshipand politicians of both parties have supported energy
efficiency ever since. A Democratic Partycontrolled Congress and Republi-
can president Richard Nixon, just two weeks before he resigned, created the
US Federal Energy Administration (FEA) to address the 1970s oil crisis, in
which OPEC embargoed exports to the United States and other supporters
of Israel.
President Gerald Ford directed the FEA to develop broad measures to
improve energy efficiency and increase domestic energy production. The
resulting Project Independence Report emphasized that we needed both energy
efficiency and increases in domestic energy production to achieve energy
self-sufficiency. As a member of the team that developed that framework,
I thought that energy efficiency and domestic production enhancements
would have roughly equal impacts. I never expected what actually happened:
energy efficiency would have far greater impact.

IT ALL PAYS OFF


Later, as an FEA office director, I worked with Democratic Party staff of the
House and Senate committees who were drafting the first-ever US automo-
bile fuel efficiency standards. We examined countless proposals to boost car

122 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


THE GREAT GREEN FLEET: Lieutenant (j.g.) K. Smith explains energy effi-
ciency systems on the guided-missile destroyer Chafee to thensecretary of
the Navy Ray Mabus in 2012. Energy efficiency in the military allows aircraft
to fly farther, ships to remain on battle station longer, and ground forces to
reduce the vulnerability of fuel convoys. [Chief Mass. Comm. Specialist Sam Shav-
ersUS Navy]

and truck fuel economy, which then was a lowly 12.5 miles per gallon on aver-
age for new automobiles. We did so based on facts and analysis, united by a
common goal that was clearly in the national interest.
The effort was completely bipartisan. Even in the FEA office I directed, as
a Republican I was probably outnumbered by Democrats. Party affiliations
were irrelevant for analysis of policy options. In the end, the Republican
president, Gerald Ford, and the Democratic-controlled House and Senate
enacted the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, the federal govern-
ments first comprehensive approach to energy policy.
Since then, volatile energy prices, improved understanding of issues
and new public policies led businesses and families to pay attention to
energy consumption. This trend has been global, though particularly
strong in the United States. Before 1973, total US energy use grew almost

H O O V E R D IG E S T S p ring 2017 123


BRIGHTER IDEA: A giant LED fixture casts its beam from atop East Brother
Light Station, a working lighthouse and bed-and-breakfast inn in San Fran-
cisco Bay. A century ago, the lamp burned fuel oil. [Frank SchulenburgCreative
Commons]
in line with general economic growth, trailing GDP by just 0.5 percent.
Since then, energy efficient processes and technologies have permeated
the economy, and energy use has grown on average 2 percent less than
real GDP.
The difference between 0.5 percent and 2 percent annually may seem
small, but over time it has been massive. Had pre-embargo growth patterns
continued, we would now consume 85 percent more energy than we actually
do. In addition, had there been no increases in domestic energy production,
our net energy imports would be ten times as high as they are. Oil prices
would be drastically higher than we have ever seen. The US trade deficit
would have ballooned to frightening levels. The United States would still be
vulnerable to oil imports used as an international political weapon. Increased
domestic oil, gas, nuclear, and hydropower production helped reduce energy
imports since the oil embargo, but the contribution from wiser energy use
has been about four times that of all domestic energy production increases
taken together.
Almost all energy efficiency gains have been profitable for firms and
have reduced consumer costs. New lighting technologies, better HVAC
systems, new contractual forms for commercial office space, and better
information systems have reduced energy costs for commercial buildings.
Airlines burn one-fourth as much fuel to fly a passenger one mile as they
did in 1973, resulting in lower airfares. US industrial production has more
than doubled since 1973, but the industrial sector uses less energy in 2015
than in 1973.
From Ford through Barack Obama, every president except Bill Clinton
has signed legislation advancing energy efficiency. These laws have included
mileage requirements for cars, appliance standards, tax credits, Energy Star
certifications, and labeling.

FINE-TUNING THE CLEAN MACHINE


So, what can the Trump administration do? Plenty. The National Academies
estimated in 2009 that cost-effective technologies could reduce US energy
consumption 30 to 35 percent by 2030. This estimate did not include over-
coming nontechnical barriers to efficiency such as limited information, insti-
tutional inertia, and market imperfections. Addressing these issues could
provide additional savings.
There is a general framework the new administration could use
as it hones energy policies. First, it will be well served by embracing
energy efficiency programs (managed by the departments of energy

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 125


and transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Fed-
eral Trade Commission) as crucial for improving the economy, foreign
trade, national security, and the environment. These programs should be
enhanced, keeping oversight to ensure that they continue to meet cost-
benefit criteria.
Second, research
Energy efficiency has been a nonpartisan and development
issue ever since the oil shocks of 1973. enabled many of the
energy efficiency
gains. The federal government paid for some R&D, though the private sector,
primarily manufacturers, made most of the investments, often linked to fed-
eral R&D. But federal energy research has decreased since the early 1980s.
Reversing those reductions and encouraging energy efficiency R&D in the
private sector will deliver new benefits.
Third, price signals are crucial to continuing private sector energy efficien-
cy innovation. A revenue-neutral carbon tax could include the real external
costs the unaided free market does not capture. Although the carbon tax is
opposed by many people, economic conservatives should reconsider it. For
every dollar raised, other taxes would be cut. A price on all carbon-dioxide
emissions could replace the labyrinth of tax credits and subsidies across
all sources of energy, creating a level playing field for competition based on
merit and consumer choice.
Regardless of political persuasion, we can all agree that smarter use of
energy is the cheapest, cleanest, most abundant energy resource we have,
and we should be able to support policies consistent with that agreement.

Reprinted by permission of The Hill (www.thehill.com). 2017 Capitol


Hill Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Energy


Efficiency: Building a Clean, Secure Economy, by
James L. Sweeney. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or
visit www.hooverpress.org.

126 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


T H E E N VI R ON M E N T

TH E ENVI RON ME NT

Time to Count
the CostsAnd
Adapt
Environmental activists must quit playing politics
and begin to practice one of the fundamental
disciplines of good governance: weighing benefits
against costs.

By Gary D. Libecap

T
he regulatory stateadvocated by elites, but paid for by general
citizenswas repudiated in the recent presidential election.
Environmental regulations are typical of the governmental
overreach to which so many voters objected. Such regulations
are doomed to fail unless their costs come into line with their benefits. Two
major environmental emphases illustrate the problems with regulation and
the opportunities for reform.
The first is the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, which places the costs
of species protection and recovery on landowners, local workers, and rural com-
munities without commensurate compensation. The legislation does not require
a cost-benefit analysis. When advocates and government officials do not bear
costs, there are few brakes on adding species to the endangered list.

Gary D. Libecap is the Sherm and Marge Telleen Research Fellow at the Hoover
Institution and the Donald Bren Distinguished Professor of Corporate Environ-
mental Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 127


Listing requires that habitat be preserved from development. Once a spe-
cies is listed, it is very difficult to remove it. This makes enemies of the peo-
ple who live and work near those species and who could best take action to
protect them. To avoid losing their land and livelihoods to protected habitat
with little or no productive or commercial use, locals are given an incentive
to undermine the law with the notorious shoot, shovel, and shut up strat-
egy. Thus, except in a few cases, the law has not successfully saved species.
Indeed, without revision, the ESA perversely will accelerate extinctions.
Its urgent that we reform policy to more equitably distribute the costs
away from rural property owners and workers to urban populations and
advocacy groups that call for regulation. Shifting costs and requiring cost-
benefit analyses also will generate a more sensible approach to preservation,
which now is wildly out of balance. Some species may be too costly to save,
whereas others could benefit from more coordinated and local efforts.
The second example of regulations run amok is the climate change
agenda. The cost of successfully countering the buildup of greenhouse gases
(GHG) in the atmosphere is hugefar larger than described in the media
and by advocates. It would require the rapid, total phase-out of fossil fuels
(the leave them in the ground strategy), increases in energy prices, and
fundamentally changed production and consumption patterns, which would
reduce living standards worldwide. The poor would be disproportionately
harmed, both within the United States and everywhere. The costs of revers-
ing GHG emissions could be 1 percent of global GDP annuallyor about
$800 billion each year, which is approximately the size of the economy of the
Netherlands. Specific industries would be particularly affectedincluding
manufacturing, energy production, mining, transportation, and some types
of agriculture.
Generally, wealthy elites would not bear many of these costs; they would
fall squarely on middle-class citizens. A candid weighing of (very uncertain)
benefits and costs and their distribution among populations is essential for
any effective, durable action to address possible climate change.
Any reduction in global greenhouse-gas emissions and a decline in the
amount of such gases already in the atmosphere would require coordinated,
major cutbacks in fossil fuels worldwide. Greenhouse gases circulate the
globe, so some countries would receive the benefits of costly mitigation
undertaken by others. Under these circumstances, the incentives to free ride
would be irresistible. Internal pressures to free ride would be particularly
great in those countries that face the greatest mitigation costs, that have the
weakest government institutions and most limited rule of law, and that are

128 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


big enough to chart their own course regardless of international shaming
Russia, China, India, Brazil, and even the United States.
Successful international mitigation would require more than the small
feel good adjustments currently offered by advocates, agency officials, and
politicians. But high costs would make durable international cooperation
unlikelyat least until benefits were much clearer than they are now. We
must consider more fruitful aims.

ROOM TO IMPROVE
Lets turn now to the reform opportunities for each of these two US environ-
mental efforts.
The Trump administration should redraft the Endangered Species Act to
require both cost-benefit analysis and adequate compensation for all parties
affected by habitat regulation. The law has failed because the low cost to
advocates and agency officials of adding species encourages excessive regula-
tory expansion and because locals have incentives to undermine the conser-
vation objectives. As of 2016, 2,266 species had been listed as threatened or
endangered under the ESA. A mere sixty-three have been delisted since the
act was passed, some for recovery, notably the gray wolf and the bald eagle,
and some because of species reclassification.
But these achievements mask the economic havoc inflicted by the law.
Under the ESA, a landowner whose property has critical habitat loses the
ability for productive use and workers lose associated jobs. Neither receive
proportionate compensation. Federal or state lands with habitat, particu-
larly important in the West, are placed off limits for development. Economic
activity and property
values in affected regions
necessarily collapse. The Environmental listings make ene-
impact is clear to anyone mies of the people who live and work
who has driven through near those species.
the devastated small
lumbering towns of the Pacific Northwest since the listing of the spotted
owl as endangered in 1990. Without access to the timberlands, lumber mills
closed; workers became unemployed and migrated elsewhere; and property
values plummeted. Even so, the spotted owl has not recovered, and likely will
not.
Moreover, to avoid protected-habitat declaration, landowners undermine
the law. A recent study found that private timberland owners in North
Carolina speeded their timber harvests to avoid effective confiscation of their

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 129


properties by the government to protect the red cockaded woodpecker. Not
only did landowners lose from too-rapid harvest, but the woodpecker also
lost critical old-growth timber habitat. Had the costs been borne by advo-
cates or government agencies, the species might not have been listed. Had
compensation been available, landowners may have joined in protecting the bird.
As for climate change,
the new administra-
Greenhouse gases circulate the globe, tion should halt the rush
so some countries would receive the toward international GHG
controls; repeal the EPAs
benefits of costly mitigation under-
Clean Power Plan; and
taken by others.
turn to adaptation strate-
gies. Cutbacks by the United States alone will have no effective impact on the
concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere or on any possible climate
change. The greenhouse-gas amounts are already so large that global warm-
ing will occur, no matter what the United States does now. Moreover, despite
repeated claims that US leadership is essential, no evidence suggests others
will follow. The incentive to free ride is too great; the current costs of mitigation
are too high; and the likelihood of sustained collaboration is too low among the
major countries that must join in a collective international effort.
US and foreign policy elites, of course, would like America to bear the
costs of providing any global benefits that all would receive. Nevertheless,
this does not make for sound policy for the country or the world.
Leaders of sovereign states would have to agree on international green-
house-gas regulations and adhere to them for fifty years or longerlong
after those leaders have left the scene. Those who advocate global action
worry that nations would later defect from international agreements, and
suggest that every countrys energy and carbon-emissions policies be subject
to an international body. Such delegation would effectively transfer national
economic policies to a global, unelected bureaucracy. Recent elections
around the world have decisively rejected such rule by elites.
Free riding will occur because the benefits and costs of GHG emission
controls and the timing of their effects are so uncertainagain, despite
assurances from advocates to the contrary. Climate change may or may not
transpire as advocates warn. Moreover, not every region or country will
experience harm. Indeed, assessments from the UN Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveal that some areasthose in higher
latitudescould be better off, whereas others in lower latitudes could be
harmed. Timing is an issue as well. Will climate change move equally swiftly

130 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


across the planet? Do we have twenty-five, fifty, or a hundred years before
temperatures radically rise? These are critical questions because they deter-
mine whether the leaders of any country will join in global central planning.

COSTLY AND POINTLESS


And what about the costs of a forced shift from abundant fossil fuels to
unproven solar and wind? As fossil fuels are mandated out of use, they
remain in the ground and are much cheaper, motivating cash-strapped coun-
tries and companies to defect from any international agreement. Today, 70
percent of Indias energy comes from coal. That figure is 55 percent or more
in China. Despite the highly publicized agreement between then-president
Obama and Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping to reduce each countrys
greenhouse-gas emissions, China has some two hundred gigawatts of coal-
fired energy generation under constructionmore than the entire Canadian
energy sectorand is expanding coal mining. This is not evidence of a rapid,
coordinated move away from fossil fuels.
Accordingly, unilateral cutbacks in the United States do not make sense.
Greenhouse-gas regulations will particularly harm the industrial belt in
states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. According
to projections, controls could cumulatively reduce US GDP by $7 trillion
by 2029. But these costs surely do not include the losses in welfare to the
hundreds of thousands of mineral estate owners who would lose the value of
their rights in oil, gas, and coal, not only in Texas and Oklahoma, but also in
some of the poorest parts of the countrysuch as Native American reserva-
tions in Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Arizona, and New Mexico. The
costs also do not include the losses in property values in mineral-producing
and refining regionslike West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Louisi-
anaor the losses for workers who have acquired specialized skills in mining
and petroleum refining and distribution.
The EPA has estimated that the phase-out of coal between 2015 and 2038
could result in the loss of six hundred thousand jobs. At the same time,
advocates argue that the United States should contribute heavily to an
international fund of $100 billion annually for distribution to less-developed
countries for green technologies.
The Clean Power Plan, central to the unilateral actions of the former
Obama administration, seeks to reduce power plant emissions 32 percent
below the 2005 level by 2030. Under the plan, the Environmental Protec-
tion Agency will determine the energy mix in each state through closing
coal-fired generators, initially replacing coal with natural gas, and ultimately

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 131


adopting wind and solar energy. Twenty-eight states have sued to halt this
major extension of executive branch authority. Even if implemented with
all the associated costs to the US economy, the plan will accomplish little to
lower global GHG discharges and temperature change.

LEARNING TO ADAPT
Until we learn more about the costs and benefits of climate change mitiga-
tion and the associated problems of global collective action, adaptation strat-
egies make far more sense. Adaptation is essential, given that warming may
occur no matter what we do. The United States can invest in ways to make
fossil fuels less polluting. Given that they are so ubiquitous, this would be
more effective than trying to police them out of use. The United States can
also invest more in other adaptation strategies, such as new drought-tolerant
crops; new production technologies; new groundwater recharge techniques;
and new surface water storage. All of this will make the country more resil-
ient. And whatever technologies and products created by adaptation can be
exported, which is yet another benefit to offset the costs.
Its time for a new approach to environmental policy. Rather than regula-
tory overreach at the behest of advocates and bureaucrats that achieves little
but high social cost, a new standard should be adopted for all environmental
regulation. It must pass a cost-benefit test and the distribution of costs must
be proportionate to benefits received. Regulatory agencies, advocacy groups,
and high-income urban voters, who are the primary sponsors, must pay for
the policies they propose. Costs should be covered by agency budgets, direct
payments from advocacy groups, and income tax surcharges on those par-
ties, rather than shifted to land and other property owners and low-income
consumers.

Reprinted from Defining Ideas (www.hoover.org/publications/defining-


ideas), a Hoover Institution online journal. 2017 The Board of Trustees
of the Leland Stanford Junior University. 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.

132 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


T H E E N VI R ON M E N T

TH E ENVI RON ME NT

Inconvenient
Math?
On climate change, the uncertainties multiply
literally.

By Michael S. Bernstam

C
limate change faces a neglected actuarial problem. Too many
conditions must be met to warrant a policy action on climate
change. The following four stipulations must each be highly
probable:

1. Global warming will accumulate at 0.12 degrees Celsius or higher per


decade.
2. It is anthropogenic, due largely to carbon dioxide emissions.
3. The net effect is harmful to human well-being in the long run.
4. Preventive measures are efficient, that is, feasible at the costs not exceed-
ing the benefits.

But even if the probability of each of these stipulations is as high as 85


percent, their compound probability is as low as 50 percent. This makes a
decision to act or not to act on climate change equivalent to flipping a coin.
It is much simpler with pandemics, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, fires,
terrorism, and other natural and anthropogenic catastrophes. The probability
there is only of the event itself, which is usually 100 percent in the long run in
certain locations or globally, and of the efficiency of proposed measures. If the

Michael S. Bernstam is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 133


latter are efficient (for example, vaccines against pandemics, building rein-
forcement against earthquakes, dikes and levees against floods, surveillance
and epicenter destruction against terrorism), the compound probability is suf-
ficiently high, perhaps over 90 percent, and the preventive action is warranted.
In the case of climate change, the conditions are four. They are not ran-
dom, nor are they arbitrary. To see this, one can run a thought experiment
and drop or ignore any of the above foursome. At once, the entire call for
action on climate change becomes pointless. If global warming is not ongoing,
there is no need to stop it. If it is not anthropogenic, there is no need to curb
carbon dioxide emissions. If it is not harmful, there is no need to worry. If
preventive measures are inefficient, they would not help and there is no use
applying them. It follows that all four conditions are necessary. If just one of
them does not hold, action is unnecessary or useless.
This means they do not overlap or substitute for one another. In technical
terms, they are independent events. The probability of each of them occur-
ring does not affect the probability of any other occurring. Therefore, to
decide whether or not a policy action is warranted, we have to evaluate their
compound probability. The probabilities of all four events have to be multi-
plied together. This defines the calculus of choosing action or inaction.
Alas, at the current state of scientific knowledge and global policy coordi-
nation it is hard, indeed impossible, to obtain the compound probability of
the four conditions higher than 50 percent. The Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, a UN affiliate, expressed at various times about 9095 per-
cent confidence in the continuity, anthropogenic causes, and harm of climate
change. If the broad scientific community shared this level of certainty, there
would have been no controversy over climate change. The only remaining dis-
pute would have been over the most efficient policy measures and their global
coordination. This is not the case. Some scientists doubt that global warming
will constitute a long-term trend. Others question its anthropogenic origin. Yet
others maintain that the net effect may not be harmful for living conditions.
The continual fight for action on climate change is itself a proof that the
scientific problems are not resolved. People do not argue whether or not to
combat epidemics or terrorism, only how to do it efficiently.
To act or not to act ultimately depends on whether the estimates on the
first three conditions exceed the highest bound of 85 percent and the fourth,
the policy efficiency probability, is not much lower. That is, whether the
compound probability is greater than 0.85 0.85 0.85 0.82 = 0.50. No one
knows for sure whether the 85 percent bound of scientific consensus has
been reached on the first three conditions. As for policy, it is hard to expect

134 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


global coordination on the high-cost measures. It is not credible that nations
and their leaders would choose sacrifice, not free riding, when there is no
enforcement. If the compound probability is 50 percent, the rationale for
action is no different from that obtained by flipping a coin.
Until science and policy coordination provide a higher certainty, a more
modest program may suffice.
First, continue rigorous research and policy evaluation to enable a scien-
tific consensus to settle the issue.
Second, let technological and market forces take their course in reduc-
ing carbon dioxide emissions. The shale revolution makes natural gas more
efficient than coal as the fuel for electricity generation. Liquefied natural gas
is exportable around the world at low cost. Electric cars with batteries pow-
ered by natural gas will substitute for gasoline-fueled vehicles.
Third, let economic development take its course. China, India, and other
developing countries with energy-intensive manufacturing will gradually join
advanced Western countries with higher technologies, more services, and
greater energy efficiency.
The objection to such
a modest program is
that it will be too late Until science and policy coordina-
to act when climate sci- tion provide a higher certainty, a more
ence finally convinces modest program may suffice.
everyone. But this begs
the question back to the four conditions above and their compound prob-
ability. Whether or not it will be too late to act tomorrow we cannot say today
with certainty higher than 50 percent. One thing is certain. To sacrifice the
economic progress of billions of people to a result on par with that obtained
by flipping a coin is not a defensible proposition. In policy as in medicine the
fundamental principle is: first, do no harm.

Special to the Hoover Digest.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is Puzzles,


Paradoxes, Controversies, and the Global Economy,
by Charles Wolf Jr. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or
visit www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 135


N ATURAL RESO UR CE S

N ATURAL RESO UR CE S

Freedom for
Indian Country
The federal government has long been proven
unworthy of Indians trust. How the new
administration can do better.

By Terry L. Anderson

L
ast November, Blackfeet tribal leader Elouise Cobell was among
twenty-one recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The
White House announcement cited Cobells efforts to found the Native
American Bank and her inspiration to Native American women as the
reasons for the award, but her most notable legacy is the case of Cobell v. Salazar.
As an astute banker and financial leader, Cobell filed suit in 1996 against
thensecretary of the interior Bruce Babbitt. The suit alleged that the federal
government, as the trustee for Indian lands, had withheld and even lost more
than $150 billion received for oil, timber, mineral, and other leases of Indian
lands. Ultimately the suit grew into a class-action claim with as many as a
half-million plaintiffs claiming a federal liability of $176 billion. Though Cobell
died in 2011, she lived long enough to see the case settled in 2009 for $3.4 bil-
lion, a pittance compared to the amounts allegedly lost.
In addition to the Cobell settlement, a 2015 report from the Government
Accountability Office documented how poorly the government had lived up to

Terry L. Anderson is the John and Jean De Nault Senior Fellow at the Hoover
Institution and executive director of the Property and Environment Research Cen-
ter (PERC) in Bozeman, Montana.

136 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


its trust responsibility. It found that poor management by the Bureau of Indian
Affairs had hindered Indian energy development and resulted in missed
development opportunities, lost revenue, and jeopardized viability of projects.
It is fitting that Elouise Cobell be honored with the Presidential Medal of
Freedom, but it would be better yet if the federal government would grant all
Indians the freedom suggested by the awards title. Since Chief Justice John
Marshall declared in 1832 that the Cherokees were a domestic dependent
nation and characterized the relationship of tribes to the United States as
that of a ward to his guardian, Native Americans have been held in bureau-
cratic bondage. That bondage includes federal trusteeship over the resources
at issue in Cobell v. Salazar.
President Trump is well positioned to grant more freedom to Native
Americans. Just before the presidential election, the newly formed Native
American Coalition made up of members of tribal organizations from fifteen
states endorsed candidate Trump. That endorsement opens the door for
a new relationship between tribes and the federal government.
The chairman of the Native American Coalition, Congressman
Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma and a member of the Cherokee
Nation), captured the nature of federal control over Indian coun-
try and the path to reducing that control: The daily flood of
new federal regulations keep[s] Indian country from becoming

[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]

H O O V E R D IG E S T S p ring 2017 137


self-sufficient. Local tribal decisions, not federal bureaucrats, are the best
way to improve our communities. . . . I will stand with Donald Trump in sup-
porting tribal sovereignty and reining in federal overregulation.
Considering that tribes have an estimated $1.5 trillion in energy resources,
Trump should start by promoting more tribal authority over those resourc-
es. Congress tried to help with legislation in 2005 giving tribes authority to
lease energy resources without approval from the Department of the Inte-
rior, but tribes did not take advantage of the legislation, calling the process
too complicated and confusing. More recently, both houses have passed bills
(S 209 and HR 538) trying to simplify the permitting process.
Such legislation is helping tribes like the coal-rich Crow. In 2013 the Crow
signed an option with Cloud Peak Energy to lease 1.4 billion tons of reserva-
tion coal. For the option, Cloud Peak paid the tribe $3.75 million, and pay-
ments could increase to $10 million by 2018 if mining commences.
These kinds of deals give Indians some reason for hope. New Mexico state
representative Sharon Clahchischilliage believes that the Native American
Coalition and the Trump administration can block the bureaucrats holding
Native American business back and bring new jobs to Indian country. In
the same vein, Fleming Begaye Sr., a revered Navajo Code Talker, voted for
Trump, saying, Native Americans need a federal government that gets out
of the way of small business.
The Trump administration should make it a priority to further honor Elou-
ise Cobells memory by freeing Native Americans from their bureaucratic
bonds. This would give them what Nez Perce Chief Joseph asked for in 1879:
Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade
where I choose, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think,
and act for myself. Its time for that freedom to be realized.

Special to the Hoover Digest. Listen as Hoover fellow Russell Roberts


interviews Terry L. Anderson about Native American economics at www.
econtalk.org/archives/2016/12/terry_anderson_1.html.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is Property


Rights: A Practical Guide to Freedom and Prosperity,
by Terry L. Anderson and Laura E. Huggins. To order,
call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

138 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


KOR E A

KOREA

Diplomacy, Not
Doomsday
When dealing with North Korea, diplomat and
Hoover fellow William J. Perry advises, set aside
the big stickand the Kim regime might actually
listen.

By William J. Perry

I
n 1994, when I was secretary of defense, we
Key points
came perilously close to a second Korean
North Koreas three
War because of North Koreas nuclear goals, in descending
program. Today we are again approaching a order, are preserv-
ing the Kim dynasty,
crisis with North Korea, and again the cause is its gaining international
nuclear program. A war in 1994 would have been respect, and improv-
ing the economy.
terrible, but we were able to avoid it with diploma-
The missile pro-
cy (the Agreed Framework, from which the United
gram might em-
States and North Korea withdrew in 2002). Today bolden Pyongyang
a war would be no less than catastrophic, possibly to overplay its weak
hand.
destroying the societies of both Koreas as well as
We should deal
causing large casualties in the US military. It is with North Korea as
imperative that we employ creative diplomacy to it is, not as we wish
it to be.
avert such a catastrophe.

William J. Perry, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, is the Michael and
Barbara Berberian Professor at Stanford University, with a joint appointment at the
Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the School of Engineering.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 139


The pressure increased in January when North Korean leader Kim Jong
Un announced plans to test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that
could deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental United States. In reply,
President Trump tweeted, It wont happen, seemingly suggesting he might
take military action against North Koreas missile program.
The threat is real enough. North Korea has built more than a dozen nucle-
ar bombs and conducted five nuclear tests, several at about the destructive
power of the Hiroshima bomb. Pyongyang also has a robust ballistic missile
programit has fielded a large number of medium-range missiles and is test-
ing long-range missiles.
So the question is not whether Pyongyang will have a nuclear-armed
ICBM, but when. Its ICBM program is not yet operational, and it must take
many difficult steps to make it so. But this is evidently a high-priority pro-
gram moving at a fast pace. There is no reason to doubt that it will reach an
operational capability, perhaps in the next few years.
Certainly this is dangerous, but we should try to understand the nature of
the danger. During my discussions and negotiations with members of the North
Korean government, I have found that they are not irrational, nor do they want
to achieve martyrdom. Their goals, in order of priority, are: preserving the Kim
dynasty, gaining international respect, and improving their economy.
The regime has demonstratedover and over againthat it is willing to
sacrifice its economy to ensure that the dynasty is preserved. During nego-
tiations in 1999 and 2000, we found a way to achieve all three of their goals
without nuclear weapons. I believe that the North Korean government was
ready to accept our proposal (it is easier for leaders to forgo weapons they
do not yet have), but we can never be certain of thatnor that Pyongyang in
fact would have complied with an agreementbecause the George W. Bush
administration cut off the talks in 2001.
I believe that the danger of a North Korean ICBM program is not that
North Koreas leaders would launch an unprovoked attack on the United
States; they are not suicidal. But they have been playing a weak hand for
decades, and they have demonstrated a willingness to take risks in playing
it. The real danger of their ICBM program is that it might embolden them
to take even greater risksthat is, overplay their hand in a way that could
(inadvertently) lead to a military conflict with South Korea. The South Kore-
an military, backed by US air and naval power (and a small ground force), is
more than a match for the large but poorly equipped North Korean military.
So if North Korea were to begin losing a conventional conflict, it might in
desperation turn to its nuclear weapons.

140 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


REASSURANCE: Defense Secretary James Mattis, right, and his South
Korean counterpart, Han Min-koo, inspect an honor guard during a welcoming
ceremony in Seoul in February. Mattis defended the deployment of a missile-
defense system in South Korea, a key ally. [Kim Hee-ChulEPA]

What can we do to mitigate that danger? During the time I was defense
secretary, I considered a pre-emptive conventional strike on the Yongbyon
nuclear facility. We rejected that option in favor of diplomacy. Such a strike
could still destroy the facilities at Yongbyon but probably would not destroy
the nuclear weapons, likely not located there. In 2006, Ashton B. Carter (who
would become President Obamas last secretary of defense) and I recom-
mended that the United States consider striking North Koreas ICBM launch
facility. I would not recommend either of those strikes today because of the
great risk for South Korea; at the very least, any such plan would have to be

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 141


agreed to by South Koreas leadership, since their country would bear the
brunt of any retaliatory action.
I believe it is time to try diplomacy that would actually have a chance to
succeed. We lost the opportunity to negotiate with a non-nuclear North Korea
when we cut off negotiations in 2001, before it had a nuclear arsenal. The
most we can reasonably expect today is an agreement that lowers the dan-
gers of that arsenal. The goals would be an agreement with Pyongyang to not
export nuclear technol-
ogy, to conduct no further
I have found that North Korean lead- nuclear testing, and to
ers are not irrational, nor do they want conduct no further ICBM
testing. These goals are
to achieve martyrdom.
worth achieving and, if
we succeed, could be the basis for a later discussion of a non-nuclear Korean
Peninsula. These objectives are far less than we would desire but are based on
my belief that we should deal with North Korea as it is, not as we wish it to be.
If this attempt at diplomacy fails, then we could consider much more pun-
ishing sanctions, which would require Chinas significant participation. That
would be more likely if North Korea rejected a serious diplomatic approach.
We could also pursue nondiplomatic approaches such as disrupting their
ICBM tests, not at their launch sites but over international waters. Indeed,
our diplomacy would have a better chance of working if the North Korean
government realized that we were serious about nondiplomatic alternatives.
Time is of the essence. If we dont find a waysoonto freeze North
Koreas quest for a nuclear ICBM, this crisis could all too easily spin out of
control, leading to a second Korean War, far more devastating than the first.

Reprinted by permission of the Washington Post. 2017 Washington Post


Co. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is America


and the Future of War: The Past as Prologue, by
Williamson Murray. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or
visit www.hooverpress.org.

142 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


CRIME

CRI ME

License to Hate
The label of hate crime is used to score
political points, not to end violence. It should be
eliminated.

By Victor Davis Hanson

A
few months ago in Chicago, a white special-needs teenager
was held captive by four black youths. The victim was bound,
gagged, tortured, forced to drink toilet water, partially scalped,
and subjected to racially and politically motivated verbal abuse.
The perpetrators streamed portions of their violent savagery on Facebook.
After the victim escaped from his assailants and was found on the streets
by a police officer, a Chicago police commander initially said he was unsure
whether the attack constituted a hate crimeas if that distinction might cali-
brate the crimes viciousness.
Then-president Barack Obama was likewise initially hesitant to label this
cruelty as a racially motivated hate crimewhich was odd, given his prior
readiness to jump into and editorialize about racially charged cases such as
those of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and Trayvon Martin. Yet it is
hard to imagine what additional outrages the Chicago youths might have had
to commit to warrant hate-crime status.
After public outcry, Chicago prosecutorsalong with Obamaconfirmed
that the attack did indeed, in their opinion, qualify as a hate crime. Many in
the media still sought to downplay that classification. I dont think its evil,

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the
Hoover Institution and the chair of Hoovers Working Group on the Role of Mili-
tary History in Contemporary Conflict.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 143


editorialized CNN anchor Don Lemon, who instead attributed the violence to
the offenders problematic upbringing.
What are the lessons from all the verbal gymnastics concerning hate
crimes? Sadly, we are learning that the labeling of hate crimes has become
so politicized and ill-defined that the entire concept is unworkable.

A FORCE MULTIPLIER
The idea of identifying hate crimes gained currency in the 1980s, when
reformers wanted lighter penalties for most criminal offenses but also
wished to increase punishment for criminal acts that were deemed rac-
ist, sexist, or homophobic. So hate crimes emerged as new enhancements
to criminal punishment, as a way to tack on stiffer penalties for affronts to
liberal society at large. The rationale for designating hate crimes relied on
force multipliers in criminal sentencingsuch as premeditation that can
make murder a first-degree offense. But after years of confusion, how do
we consistently and fairly define perceptions of bias or hate as a catalyst for
criminal violence?
After all, crimes such as murder and rape are already savage and brutal by
nature. Is the killer who shouts bigoted epithets more dangerous to society
than the quiet sadist who first tortures his murder victim without comment?
It can be dangerous to redefine a single criminal act as a hate crime
against society, given the incentives for manipulation and political distortion.
Recently there arose
a spate of reported
Progressives originally envisioned hate- fake hate crimes in
crime legislation as focusing mostly on a which supposed vic-
white majority, which presumably had a tims complained that
monopoly on prejudice. their race or religion
earned them violent
responses from bigots, suggesting a post-election epidemic of intolerance.
Authorities often found that the victims had concocted their stories, either
to enhance their political agendas and their own sense of victimization or
simply to win attention and perhaps compensation.
Again, who or what defines a hate crime? When fanatical Army major
Nidal Hasan in 2009 slaughtered non-Muslim soldiers at Fort Hoodshout-
ing Allahu Akbar! (God is great) as he mowed down his victimswas that
a religiously driven hate crime? The politically correct Pentagon thought not.
Instead, it labeled Hasans murderous rampage workplace violence.

144 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


HATE IS ALL AROUND
Progressives originally envisioned hate-crime legislation as focusing mostly
on a white majority, which presumably had a monopoly on prejudice. But FBI
hate-crime statistics show that African-Americans commit a disproportion-
ately large share of hate crimes. The media usually associate religious hate
crimes with offenses against Muslims, and warn against endemic Islamo-
phobia. Yet statistically, Jews, not Muslims, are the far more frequent
victims of religious hate crimes.
Americans can now reasonably wonder whether a reported hate crime
might have been staged.
Last November, for
example, a black church How do we consistently and fairly
in Mississippi was define perceptions of hate as a cata-
spray-painted with Vote lyst for criminal violence?
Trump graffiti and set
afire. Nearly two months later, authorities charged a disgruntled African-
American parishioner, not a supposed white supremacist, with the arson.
Sometimes hate-crime status is added to a crime not on the basis of evi-
dent prejudice but because of the race of the offender and victimthus the
political spin that follows the crime seeks to make larger indictments against
society.
In our hypersensitive and litigious society, too many agendas have warped
the once-noble idea of hate-crime legislation. It has become a fossilized relic
of the 1980s that was well-intended, became incoherent and politicizedand
now should be scrapped.

Reprinted by permission of National Review. 2017 National Review Inc.


All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is


American Contempt for Liberty, by Walter E.
Williams. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.
hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 145


ED U CATI ON

ED U CATI ON

The Core of a
Just Society
Hoover fellow Condoleezza Rice calls for the
transformation of our schools.

By Carolyn Phenicie

C
ondoleezza Rice, political scientist and former Stanford provost,
has long focused on how to improve learning. She advocates for
strong standards, school choice, and building a culture of high
expectations for both students and teachersall essential, she
believes, to ensuring that Americans can rise from impoverished beginnings
through hard work and a good education.
Erosion of that belief was evident in last years election, she told The 74. That
sense that we can do anything has been what holds us together. I think what
may be breaking us apart is lack of confidence about whether that narrative
is actually any longer available to most people, she said. At the core of that is
education. If I can look at your ZIP code and I can tell whether youre going to
get a good education, I really cant say it doesnt matter where you came from.
Rice served as chair of the Foundation for Excellence in Educations board
of directors from January 2015 through May 2016. She spoke with The 74 at
the foundations annual conference in Washington late last year.

Condoleezza Rice is the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on


Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, a member of Hoovers Shultz-Stephenson
Task Force on Energy Policy, a professor of political economy at Stanford Univer-
sitys Graduate School of Business, and a professor of political science at Stanford.
Carolyn Phenicie is a reporter for The 74.

146 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Carolyn Phenicie, The 74: Jeb Bush spoke earlier today about what hed like
to see happen at the federal level under unified Republican control. What
would you like to see?

Condoleezza Rice: I think that all education reformersand there are


people on both sides of the aisle who are education reformersits really, I
think, a chance for a bipartisan response, even a nonpartisan response, to a
moment when perhaps some of the more transformative elements that weve
not been able to get out in a major way, maybe weve got that chance now.
For instance, parental choice. I think nothing would transform the educa-
tional system more than for every child to have the funding, the opportunity,
to go to a school and in circumstances that are best going to educate them.
So I would hope there would be support for thatnot just on the Republican
side of the aisle, but some Democrats I know are education reformers, too.

Phenicie: In 2012, you and former New York City chancellor Joel Klein wrote
a report discussing education as a national security issue. One part of that
report discussed education as a way of maintaining the national fabric, and
its importance to national security. In light of the divisive presidential elec-
tion, what do you think about that issue today?

Rice: I think the important thing to remember about the United States is,
were not held together by ethnicity, blood, nationality, or religion, so our abil-
ity to hold ourselves together is somewhat fragile. What has held us together
is this aspiration, this belief that you can come from humble circumstances,
you can do great things. And its been true. We have so many stories, and we
all know the stories, and in our own families there are these narratives of
people who started with nothing and ended up at the very top.
That sense that we can do anything has been what holds us together. I
think what may be breaking us apart is lack of confidence about whether that
narrative is actually any longer available to most people. At the core of that is
education. If I can look at your ZIP code and I can tell whether youre going
to get a good education, I really cant say it doesnt matter where you came
from.
The reason Joel and I did that report is we see education at the core of
national unity, at the core of the fabric of America. There are lots of reasons
that its important to national security. You want to have competitiveness
internationally, and if you dont train people for the jobs of the technologically
sophisticated future, youre not going to compete. You want to be able to have
educated people in the military and serving in government. Today, when so

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 147


many people cant even pass the basic skills test to get into the military, thats
a real red flag. But I think the most important thing is that our social fabric is
really held together by this aspiration, and education is so much at the core
of that.

Phenicie: Today, four years after the report, do you think people see educa-
tion as a national security issue?

Rice: If you talk to most Americans . . . they might not use the term national
security, but they will see it as a high priority for a society thats just. Ive
also called it the great civil rights issue of our time because it is for me at the
core of a just society, that youre not born into circumstances and you have
to stay there because you cant get a high-quality education. Yes, I think its
a national security priority, but I think most people also see it as an issue of
justice.

Phenicie: You, among other prominent Republicans, criticized Donald


Trump over the course of the campaign. Now that hes president, what are
you looking for him to say on education or other issues to try to heal the divi-
sions that emerged during the election?

Rice: Hes president of the United States. Hes my president. I want him to
have the most successful, transformative presidency of my memory. Im com-
mitted to trying to help in any way that I can to see that happen.
I think on this issue, education, hes long been an advocate of education
reform, an advocate of school choice. Mike Pence, the vice president, is not
just an advocate of school choice, but in Indiana he and Mitch Daniels before
him were two of
the most successful
Nothing would transform the educa- governors in terms of
using the statehouse
tional system more than for every child
to promote parental
to have the funding, the opportunity, to
choice and to promote
go to a school and in circumstances that educational reform,
are best going to educate them. and so Im excited
about that.
I also think that the president really tapped into something in the country
that we need to pay attention to. There are too many people who have been
left behind, who dont feel that they have prospects in this globalizing, fast-
changing, technologically sophisticated world. [Refocus] on human potential
development, job skills training, making sure that when somebody gets a

148 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


high school degree [and] theyre not going to go on to college, that its a high
school degree that can land them in a job. If they are going to go on to college,
maybe its two years with
a community college that
will both educate and Our social fabric is held together by
credential. We have to this aspiration, and education is so
do something about the
much at the core of that.
job-skills mismatch that
we have in the country.
I think theres a huge agenda here for what Ill just call a development of
human potential. I think this is an administration that has really exposed the
problem and has a finger on the pulse of some of the possible solutions.

Phenicie: One part of that preparation for college and career is standards.
You supported the Common Core, but its facing increasing opposition
nationally and in particular with Republicans. What should be done to fix
thata rebranding, a total do-over?

Rice: The basic idea is, children in Alabama, Texas, California, and New
Hampshire ought to have essentially the same level of knowledge and skill
at a similar grade level. Given the mobility of the labor force in the United
States, that makes perfectly good sense. But somehow . . . as it started
to be implemented, I think it ran afoul of the sense of local control of
education.
I never really believe in rebranding, because that means, well, you just
didnt understand us the first time. What I believe in is, lets look at what the
basic idea was: how do you make sure everybody across the nation has the
same level of knowledge, skills, at a comparable period of time; that all third-
graders can do the same math, that all ninth-graders can read at the same
level? That all makes sense.
I also believe in local control. Im really a federalist personally. I very
much believe in particular in state-based control. Lets figure out delivery
mechanisms for that principle that everybody ought to have the same level
of knowledge and the same level of skillshow do we have the right delivery
vehicle for it?

Phenicie: Do you have any proposals for what that delivery vehicle would be?

Rice: No. Im an educational reformer because Ive watched too many kids,
in places where I live in California, right across the railroad track, not gradu-
ate. I find that highly unacceptable.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 149


My bailiwick is higher ed. Im a professor, I was the provost of Stanford,
and I know that I want to be able still to look out at my classes at Stanford
and say, theres a first-generation kid who is the first in their family to go to
college, and next to them is a fourth-generation Stanford legatee. When they
leave, all thats going to matter is they have that college degree.
Whats at stake for higher education is that increasingly that pool of
people for that first-generation seat at Stanford or Harvard or Virginia or
wherever isnt going to be filled because the K12 system is going to fail those
kids when theyre in third grade and theyre not going to read, and then they
have no chance of making it into that first-generation seat. Thats how I see
the link between what we need to do in K12 and getting kids to their highest
levels of achievement.
I think the one thing that Ive learned in large part by my relationship to
this organization, Excellence in Education, is that the states are tremendous
both [as] laboratories and ultimately delivery vehicles for education reform.
Because as much as I want the kid in Alabama and Texas and California
and New Hampshire to know the same things, those circumstances are very
different in those places, and the state legislature, the state governor, the
local communities are closer to how to think about achieving that goal than
Washington.

Phenicie: State and local leaders will have much greater control over educa-
tion decisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act. What advice would
you give governors or other local leaders?

Rice: First, believe that every child can learn and have high standards for
all of them. One of the first times I heard President Bush speak and became
really devoted to him
didnt have to do with
I think this is an administration that foreign policy. I heard him
has really exposed the problem and talk about the soft bigot-
has a finger on the pulse of some of ry of low expectations. If
the possible solutions. you have low expectations
for kids, even my kids at
Stanford, they will live down to them. So first of all, have high expectations.
Second, have high expectations for your teachers. My mom was a teacher.
I have great respect for teachers, but we cant afford to have subpar teach-
ers. Reward teachers who are good teachers and help with the training of
your teachers, but demand excellence in teaching.

150 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Finally, give parents a choice. Right now, if I am of means and I have a kid,
I will move to a school district where the schools are good. That will be Palo
Alto or Fairfax County or Hoover, Alabama, near where my relatives live,
and the public schools
will be really good. If Im
really wealthy, maybe Ill Ive watched too many kids, in
send my kids to private places where I live in California, right
school. So whos stuck across the railroad track, not graduate.
in failing neighborhood I find that highly unacceptable.
schools? Poor kids.
Thats the height of inequality. Give the parent of that child the same ability,
whether its a charter school or interdistrict mobility or a voucher, to put that
child in a place where he or she is going to succeed.
Oh, and by the way, give them the chance to do something in the arts. Im
all for STEM educationits really important, science and technology and
mathbut the arts sometimes open up childrens minds and their horizons
and their confidence in a way that nothing else does.

Reprinted by permission from The 74. 2017 The 74 Media, Inc. All rights
reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is The Best


Teachers in the World: Why We Dont Have Them and
How We Could, by John E. Chubb. To order, call (800)
888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 151


ED U CATI ON

ED U CATI ON

A Chance for
Choice
By appointing Betsy DeVos education secretary,
President Trump shows hes listening to parents.

By Paul E. Peterson

W
hen President Trump selected an advocate for school
choice, Betsy DeVos, to be secretary of education, he was
acknowledging what many parents have noticed for some
time: district-run public schools arent educating students
well.
Late last year the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Develop-
ment (OECD) revealed that the performance of US fifteen-year-olds on
its Program for International Student Assessment in math fell 18 points
between 2009 and 2015. As the Obama administration was carrying out its
main education initiative, Race to the Top, the United States was sliding
further downward, falling from a tie for twenty-sixth place to a tie for thirty-
first among the OECDs thirty-five nations, coming out ahead of only Greece,
Chile, Turkey, and Mexico.
The news does not come as a surprise to American parents. My colleagues
and I at Harvard University have uncovered a major discrepancy between
the satisfaction levels of parents with children at public schools and those

Paul E. Peterson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the editor in
chief of Education Next. He is also the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Govern-
ment and the director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at
Harvard University.

152 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


with children at private and charter schools as part of the 2016 Education
Next survey, which is administered annually to a nationally representative
sample of Americans.
Three-fourths or more of all parents with children in charter, public, or
private schools say they are either satisfied or very satisfied with the
schools. But the percentages of parents who say they are very satisfied dif-
fer markedly across the three sectors.
According to our survey, 46 percent of private school parents say they
are very satisfied with the quality of their childs teachers, and 32 percent
of charter school parents are equally enthusiastic, but only 23 percent of
parents with students in public schools report that they are as satisfied. On
the topic of schools instructing students in character or values, 59 percent
of private school parents report high satisfaction, as do 38 percent of charter
parents, but only 21 percent of those sending their children to public schools
do. Regarding school discipline, 46 percent of private school parents are
highly satisfied compared to 34 percent of charter school parents and 17 per-
cent in public schools. Questions about safety and expectations for students
yield similar results.
Using an online survey, we were able to look at a representative cross-sec-
tion of parents in the United States consisting of 774 individual parents with
children in public schools, 426 in private schools, and 317 in charter schools.
We found that parents with children in private schools are more likely to be
homeowners, have high-
er incomes, and have col-
lege degrees. But charter Saying they are very satisfied with
parents, as compared the quality of their childs teachers are
with parents of students
46 percent of private school parents,
in public schools, have
lower incomes and less
32 percent of charter school parents,
education, and are less and only 23 percent of public school
likely to be homeowners. parents.
Twenty-one percent of
charter parents are black and 36 percent are Hispanic, as compared with 10
percent black and 25 percent Hispanic in the public schools.
Public school parents are more satisfied with the schools locationprob-
ably because the school is typically a neighborhood institution. Also, they
express greater satisfaction with extracurricular activities at the school.
However, they are more likely to report as serious such problems as students
destroying property, missing classes, fighting, and using drugs.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 153


As we were completing our analysis, we unearthed a US Education
Department survey from 2012 that posed similar questions to a nationally
representative sample of parents, and we found that the Obama administra-
tion had never reported the charter school results from this survey, although
the raw data are publicly available for others to analyze.
Digging into this data, we discovered that this survey, too, reveals both
private school parents and charter parents to be more satisfied with their
schools than parents with children assigned to public schools. They are also
more satisfied with
teachers, academic
Twenty-one percent of charter parents standards, discipline,
are black and 36 percent Hispanic. In and the way the
the public schools, the figures are 10 school staff interacts
percent black and 25 percent Hispanic. with parents.
Among the 9 percent
of parents who choose for their children to attend schools such as public mag-
net schools and other schools that require students to pass admissions exams
or show evidence of academic excellence, satisfaction levels are comparable
to those at charters. But magnet and exam schools have greater resources
and run more specialty programs in math, science, and the performing arts.
Meanwhile, most charters have more limited resources and accept all appli-
cants unless too many people subscribe, in which case they hold a lottery.
Given the higher satisfaction levels at private and charter schools, and the
hundreds of thousands of parents on waiting lists for charter schools, public
schools are under pressure. By appointing Betsy DeVos, President Trump
is listening to parents and acknowledging that its time to begin thinking
outside the public school box.

Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2017 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is The


Future of School Choice, edited by Paul E. Peterson. To
order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.
org.

154 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


E DUCAT I ON

EDU CATI O N

Use Your Words


And Your Ideas
Arguments over education have divided America.
Heres how reformers can swap acrimony for
action.

By Michael J. Petrilli

O
n virtually every issue, Americans are sharply divided. We
wont magically find new middle ground in contentious areas
like abortion, health care, taxes, climate change, or much else.
Within education reforms big tent, disagreement also is here to
stay. We will continue to vigorously debate one another on matters big and
smallabout the appropriate role of standards and testing; the pros and cons
of various approaches to accountability; how much deference to show parents
versus oversight agencies when it comes to judging school quality; and so on.
So the sort of coming together I envision here is not about glossing over
real disagreements or rolling over when faced with a bully. Its about using
democracy to resolve our differences the best we can, while building bridges
between the two Americas that have come into sharp reliefa liberal,
urbanized, mostly coastal, and generally more affluent one, and a conserva-
tive, rural and exurban, generally poorer, heartland one. Let me suggest
three principles we should all try to adhere toand what they could mean
for education reform in the months ahead.

Michael J. Petrilli is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, executive editor


of Education Next, and president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 155


The first is compassion. Much of 2016s acrimony came from people of
all backgrounds and walks of life who felt disrespected, ignored, left out, or
unseen. Theres a whole lot of pain out there, and at least a bit of it could be
soothed by acknowledging it in one another. Take the emotional debate over
policing in our cities. My analytical brain tells me that shootings by police
are extremely rare and only seem more common because of the ubiquity
of smartphone videos and the attention drawn by the Black Lives Matter
movement. But that misses an important point. When my African-American
friends tell me that they feel afraid to walk on the street for fear of getting
shot by cops, thats a reality that deserves understanding and compas-
sion. Likewise, our police officers (and their families) deserve some serious
understanding and respect for putting their lives on the line every night, in
a job far scarier and more stressful than our own, in situations where good
judgment is easily tested.
Feeling peoples pain, Bill Clinton style, wont solve our problems, but its
an essential first step to seeing each others humanity, so we can move on to
tackling the policy issues at hand.
Those of us in education reform can do better at this. Lets seek to under-
stand the powerlessness that teachers experience when reform mandates
trickle down from on high. Lets truly see the African-American communities
that may lose their low-performing yet cherished neighborhood schoolsnot
to mention some needed grown-up jobsbecause of harsh accountability
policies or competition from charters. Lets appreciate the view of tea party
parents, too, families who
feel besieged by a popu-
Its time to build bridges between the lar culture thats alien to
two Americas. their values and who want
some measure of control
over what is taught in their childrens schools. Lets listen to the ambivalence
of working-class parents when we preach that college is the only path to
status and success in America today.
The second principlea cousin of compassionis humility. Rick Hess said
it well recently when he wrote that reformers, officials, and pundits need
to take care not to get too impressed with ourselves. Blathering on panels,
testifying to legislatures, writing op-eds, advising governors, and appearing
on radio or TV can give one an inflated regard for ones import or knowl-
edge. Teaching kids who live in poverty, running a highly effective school,
and turning around a failing district are incredibly tough jobs. Blathering on
panelsnot so much.

156 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


I cringe a bit when recalling a younger self, declaring that we know what
we need to do, we just need the political will to do it, thumping my chest
about the moral imperative of leaving no child behind. We know some of
what to do, sure, but by no means everything. Our schools cant do it allnot
when too many parents struggle to do their part. We wont close the wide
gaps in our societynot overnight, not even in a generation.
Thats not an argument for despair, inaction, or slipping into the comfort-
able, fatalistic view that the K12 system cant really do any good until some
sort of large societal revolution takes place. But it does argue for realistic
expectations. Individual schools can achieve breakthrough results. Yet at
scale in a big
country like
ours, progress Lets seek to understand the powerlessness
is inherently that teachers experience when reform man-
incremental. dates trickle down from on high.
Thats much
better than no progress at all, a thought worth bearing in mind in coming
months when states publish their draft ESSA accountability plans, which
must include multiple targets on achievement, graduation, and much else.
Reformers should resist the urge to attack objectives that are less than
utopianwhile rejecting those who would settle for the status quo. We might
look to states that have made big gains in recent yearsTennessee and Loui-
siana come to mindto see whats achievable. Small steps forward, moving
toward but not expecting transformation any time soon, thats what we
should seek.
The final principle is subsidiarity. A Roman Catholic precept, much
beloved by Burkean conservatives, it posits that authority should be devolved
whenever possible to the lowest levelto those closest to the action. In
education, it could be read as an argument for local controlbut with the
important caveat that parents, teachers, and principals, not elected school
boards, are closest to the action that matters. They dont have nearly enough
authority today in most places.
This principle is important because it aligns with human nature. People
are more willing to buy into a project when they have real say about it.
Thats much of the genius behind charter schools, which, when state laws
get it right, allow school leaders true autonomy and allow teachers to choose
schools that align with their personal philosophies. And its the genius behind
school choice, which gives parents agency as choosers, consumers, and de
facto owners of their childrens schools.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 157


Thats not to say building-level control and parental choice are the only
strategies reformers should embrace. Even most adherents of subsidiar-
ity will acknowledge that there are some benefits to scale and to externally
monitored, results-based accountability. Help and assistanceespecially
from the state levelwill continue to be useful, especially if it is truly a volun-
tary offering. But mandates about who should do what and how they must go
about it should be kept to an absolute minimum.
Many progressives in the education-reform world will balk at subsidiar-
ity as common ground, since they tend to view reform through the prism
of civil rights. And civil rights, so goes the thinking, must be aggressive-
ly enforced via federal power on grounds that some states and districts
cant be trusted to take rights seriously. Thus their disappointment with
the Every Student Succeeds Acts devolution of power to the state and
local levels.
This mindset, in my view, for all its past accomplishments, now points
down a dangerous road. For it rests on an assumption of guilt on the part of
educators, local officials, and state leaders, as well as overconfidence in the
reformers own technocratic ability to interpret patterns in data and identify
solutions. In other words, it dispenses with both compassion and humility.
Thus, for example, disparities in suspension rates by race are seen as prima
facie evidence of discrimination rather than symptoms of social ills that
strike some groups in America harder than others.
Being guided by subsidiarity doesnt imply a surrender of civil rights
enforcement. Much to the contrary. It would recognize the need for checks
and balances, and would take seriously complaints of actual discrimination
of children penalized
more harshly, barred from
In a big country like ours, progress is gifted-and-talented pro-
inherently incremental. Thats much grams, or steered away
better than no progress at all. from Advanced Place-
ment coursesbecause
of their race, gender, and so on. But it would examine each case based on
its own facts, rather than using the fig leaf of civil rights as an excuse
for Washington to micromanage Americas one hundred thousand public
schools.
Conservatives should remember, however, that subsidiarity isnt about
devolving power just out of Washington, but out of state capitals, too.
Lawmakers wearing red need to be willing to hand authority over to blue
mayors, city councils, even school boards, if were serious about empowering

158 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


communities. And if those communities wantfor exampleto take
action to curb suspensions and expulsions in their own cities, they deserve
deference.
Compassion, humility, and subsidiarity: it doesnt exactly have the makings
of a stirring slogan, like TFAs One day all children . . . or even No Child
Left Behind. But its a decent formulation for the year. Or if you want to keep
it to a phrase youve already internalized, KIPPs motto will do the job, too:
Work Hard. Be Nice.
Lets get to it.

Reprinted by permission of The Thomas B. Fordham Institute. 2017. All


rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is What


Lies Ahead for Americas 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 2017 159


I N M EMORI AM : SIDN E Y D. DR E LL , 1 92 6 2 01 6

I N M EMORI AM : SIDN E Y D. DR E LL , 1 92 6 2 01 6

Farewell to a
Citizen-Scientist
Hoover fellow Sidney D. Drell worked with
sciences deepest and most dangerous nuclear
secrets, and generations of American leaders
benefited from his guidance. An appreciation of a
physicist, a scholar, and a patriot.

By David E. Hoffman

W
hen Sidney Drell got his doctorate in physics at the Univer-
sity of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1949, four years after
the atomic bomb had been dropped on Japan, the field of
physics was crackling with intensity. The atom had been
smashed and turned into the absolute weapon, as theorist Bernard Brodie
called it, but many mysteries of nuclear physics still beckoned. At Illinois,
Drell shared a basketball-floor dormitory with one hundred and fifty double-
decker beds for fifteen months, and found his calling in theoretical physics.
Drell was younger than the Manhattan Project generation, but he knew
of the groups great debates about the bomb, war, and peace. As the Cold
War picked up steam in the 1950s, he could see that scientists were play-
ing a larger role in national security. The arms race was a technology race,
dramatized by the launch of Sputnik and uncertainty over a feared Soviet

Sidney D. Drell (19262016) was a senior fellow emeritus at the Hoover Institu-
tion and a member of Hoovers Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy.
David E. Hoffman is a contributing editor at the Washington Post.

160 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


THE BEST DEFENSE: Physicist Sidney D. Drell, right, and Hoover colleague
George P. Shultz talk to the audience after a 2010 lecture at Stanford titled
Working Toward a World Without Nuclear Weapons. The continuing effort
also involves statesmen Henry Kissinger, William Perry, and Sam Nunn. [Linda
A. CiceroStanford News Service]

missile gap that later turned out not to exist. After graduate school, Drell
taught at Stanford, then MITand in 1956, he went back to Stanford to teach
and research physics, focusing on subatomic particles and the interaction
between light and matter.
It was in 1960 that Drell was first drawn into the world of government and
national security. One evening that January, he got a phone call from physicist
Charles Townes, then vice president for research at the Institute for Defense
Analyses in Washington, a nonprofit that advised the US government. Townes
invited Drell to come to a briefing in Washington. He was creating a group of
young, prominent scientists to work on problems of national importance. Drell
was flattered but uncertain. He was so busy, he simply had no time for outside
work. He went to seek advice from Wolfgang Pief Panofsky, a physicist and
his mentor at Stanford, who was often flying to Washington to advise the gov-
ernment. Drell decided to do the same. He told Townes he would come.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 161


With this, Drell began a half century as a citizen-scientist, providing unvar-
nished advice to the government in an age of danger and rapid change, and
striving to contribute his experience and knowledge toward braking the Cold
War nuclear arms race. Through it all, he gladly worked for Democratic and
Republican administrations alike.
In the summer of 1960, Drell was a founding participant in JASON, a
secret group, then made up of physicists, that had been called together
by Townes to solve difficult problems for the Defense Department. The
group met in Berkeley that summer, and Drell worked on a difficult ques-
tion involving the early warning of Soviet missile launches. The United
States was deploying a satellite system, known as MiDAS, that could detect
missile launches by the rocket
plume. The satellites would
radio back a crude signal,
providing precious minutes of
early warning. Drell examined
whether the Soviets might be
able to blind the American
satellites with a separate, high-
altitude nuclear explosion. He
concluded that they probably
could not do it, and the US
satellites were put into orbit.
This research opened Drells
eyes to how space could be
used to gather intelligence and
verify Soviet activity on the
ground, information that was
desperately needed in Wash-
ington to help avert catastro-
phe and misunderstanding. I
quickly began to realize the
WISE MEN: Sidney D. Drell was a found-
potential of learning things
ing participant in JASON, a group created
from space so you didnt claim to solve difficult problems for the Penta-
the other side was ten feet tall, gon. In later years he was deputy director
and make things like the false of the SLAC National Accelerator Labo-
ratory and co-founder of the Center for
missile gap, he later recalled. International Security and Cooperation
I understood that technical (CISAC). [SLAC]
intelligence from space was

162 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


going to be extremely important if we were going to maintain a stable peace
in the world.
In the following years, Drell became deeply involved in helping the US
government overcome science and technology hurdles, many in classified
defense programs.
He led a CIA effort
in the 1960s to fix a For half a century, Sid Drell provided
problem of streak- unvarnished advice to the government in
ing on Corona an age of danger and rapid change.
reconnaissance
satellite photographs. Drell then served on a high-powered panel of scientists
advising the CIA and headed by Edwin Land, the founder of Polaroid, that
helped steer a next-generation spy satellite program, Hexagon, according
to Philip Taubmans 2012 book, The Partnership: Five Cold Warriors and their
Quest to Ban the Bomb.
Drell sometimes faced stiff questioning and protests during the Vietnam
War over his service for the government, but he was unshaken in the convic-
tion that it was better to provide scientific advice inside the system than to
march outside. At one point in 1972, when JASON members were revealed to
be carrying out studies for the Vietnam War effort, Drell was confronted by
another physicist after a lecture in Berkeley. Drell replied, We need to have
critics not just on the outside but on the inside, too.
According to Taubman, Drell opposed the bombing of North Vietnam, did
not consider himself a war supporter, and was distressed by the estrange-
ment of many young Americans from their government. Yet he remained an
insider. He was a member of the presidents Science Advisory Committee, or
a member of its technical panels, in the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon years,
often dealing with Vietnam War issues. A 1966 JASON study, on building
an electronic barrier or battlefield across the Ho Chi Minh Trail, became a
target of antiwar criticism when disclosed in the Pentagon Papers. Drell was
quoted by Taubman as saying that some of those who had worked on the
project had the best of motives and had seen their technical contributions
used in ways they were unhappy about. But thats inevitable, Drell said.
The laws of physics are fixed. The laws of politics change.
For Drell, the central challenge of the age was restraining the nuclear arms
race. Nuclear deterrence rested on the cocked-pistols standoff known as
mutual assured destruction. The United States needed to credibly threaten
retaliation against the Soviet Union to deter attack. Drell believed a nuclear
deterrent was necessary, but he and many others could see the arms race

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 163


was becoming more dangerous and more costly. How to change the dynamic?
As a scientist, Drell helped political leaders think through and master the
technical challenges of the new age. His advice was indispensable to US-
Soviet treaty agreements to limit strategic arms and antiballistic-missile
systems, including SALT I in 1972, and to the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty in the 1990s.
When President Reagan proposed a missile defense system known as the
Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983, he said it might someday make nuclear
weapons impotent and
obsolete. Drell was skep-
The laws of physics are fixed, Drell tical of such simplistic
said. The laws of politics change. answers. He had worked
on missile defense issues
for two decades and had confronted the immense complexity of hitting a bul-
let with a bullet in outer space. The only way out of the excesses of the arms
race, he believed, was a hell of a lot of disarmament. Thats what he hoped
for, what he worked for, and ultimately what began to unfold in the years of
Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Aside from serving as deputy director of the Stanford Linear Accelera-
tor Center, Drell taught arms control to a generation of graduate students
and co-founded the Center for International Security and Arms Control at
Stanford, now the Center for International Security and Cooperation. He
became a tireless advocate for Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet nuclear physicist
and dissident sent into internal exile at Gorky. Drell led an important study of
safety problems in the US nuclear arsenal in 1990. During the Clinton years,
he was instrumental in providing the intellectual foundation for a compre-
hensive test ban, and the science-based stockpile stewardship program
to preserve the nuclear arsenal without explosive testing. Drell worked
closely from the start
with former secretaries of
The only way out of the excesses of state George P. Shultz and
the arms race, Drell believed, was a Henry Kissinger, former
hell of a lot of disarmament. defense secretary William
Perry, and former Senate
Armed Services Committee chairman Sam Nunn in a campaign for a world
free of nuclear weapons. After the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, he led
a renewed effort to study the risks of catastrophe in civilian nuclear energy
and nuclear weapons. Among his many awards was the National Medal of
Science in 2011.

164 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Yet Drell always had time for another student, another discussion. He
was an early and important source of support and advice when I set out to
research the book that became The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold
War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy. I recall meeting for coffee one day
at Stanford. I told him of the surprising discoveries I had made in the Hoover
Library and Archives. We got to talking about nuclear weapons. What I
remember most was his eloquent description of the long-term stability of the
crystal structure of plutonium, meaning that the core of nuclear warheads
could sit for fifty years without the weapons losing their effectiveness, and
thus the United States could rely on the arsenal without resuming nuclear
explosive testing.
Just another coffee break with one of great minds who navigated us safely
through the shoals of the Cold War arms race without a disaster.

Reprinted by permission of Politico (www.politico.com). 2017 Politico


LLC. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is Andrei


Sakharov: The Conscience of Humanity, edited by
Sidney D. Drell and George P. Shultz. To order, call
(800) 888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.org.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 165


I N TERVI EW

I N TERVI EW

Wealth, Poverty,
and Politics
Theres never been a level playing field, insists
economist and Hoover fellow Thomas Sowell, and
we should never have expected one.

By Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson, Uncommon Knowledge: After growing up in North Carolina


and Harlem, Dr. Thomas Sowell worked in a machine shop, served as a delivery
man for Western Union, tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and served during
the Korean War in the United States Marine Corps. After his discharge, Dr.
Sowell received his undergraduate degree from Harvard, his masters from
Columbia, and his doctorate from the University of Chicago. Dr. Sowell has
taught economics at institutions such as Cornell, UCLA, and Amherst. The
author of more than a dozen books, Dr. Sowell has served since 1980 as a fellow
at the Hoover Institution. Dr. Sowells latest publication is a new edition of his
classic work, Wealth, Poverty, and Politics. Dr. Thomas Sowell, welcome.

Thomas Sowell: Thank you.

Robinson: There are a handful of big themes that run all the way through
Wealth, Poverty, and Politics. One of the themes, and Im quoting from the
book now: It is not the origins of poverty which need to be explained. What

Peter Robinson is the editor of the Hoover Digest, the host of Uncommon
Knowledge, and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Thomas Sowell
is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover
Institution.

166 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


requires explaining are the things that created and sustained higher stan-
dards of living. What do you mean by that?

Sowell: Well, there are actually books with titles and subtitles about the ori-
gins of poverty. The entire human species began in poverty. So I dont know
how we determine the originperhaps in the Garden of Eden or someplace?
But more than that. Youre trying to explain why some countries are poor,
rather than trying to explain why other countries are more prosperous.
Theres no explanation needed for poverty. The species began in poverty. So
what you really need to know is what are the things that enable some coun-
triesand some groups within countriesto become prosperous?

Robinson: Continuing
that point, Im quoting
again from Wealth, Pov-
erty, and Politics: One of
the key implicit assump-
tions of our time is that
many economic and
social outcomes would
tend to be either even or random, if left to the natural course of events, so
that the strikingly uneven and nonrandom outcomes so often observed in the
real world imply some adverse human intervention. Why has that become
an implicit assumption, so common that you need to bat it down again and
again in this book?

Sowell: If youre asking if it has any validity, the easy answer is no. If you
start just with geographic things, geography is not even. The rivers of the
world are not equally usable by human beings. To take one example, the
Zaire River, which starts in Central Africa and goes great distances to the
ocean, has more water than the Mississippi. But its not as valuable as the
Mississippi because it has all sorts of waterfalls, cascades, and so on. So
theres only a certain distance you can go on the Zaire River. Its a more
picturesque river, but to an economist, its awful because it means youve
isolated great numbers of people. Those are different rivers, but everything
is different. The ground is different, the air is different, everything.

Robinson: Again, Im quoting: The implicit assumption of evenness or


randomness of outcomes in the absence of human interventions has been
enough to turn a search for causation into a search for blame. Where do you
find that?

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 167


Sowell: Well, the thinking seems to be that if all the background conditions
are such as would lead to equality of outcomes and you find great inequali-
ties, then somebody must have messed with it. But as economic historian
David Landes said, The world has never been a level playing field. Its not a
level playing field geographically, culturally, politically. You name it, its not.

FACTS AND RHETORIC

Robinson: Im hoping to apply the lessons of Wealth, Poverty, and Politics to the
current American scene. Heres a quotation from Bernie Sanders, the Vermont
senator who nearly won the Democratic presidential nomination: While there
are some great corporations, trying to do the right thing, in my viewand I say
this very seriouslythe greed of the billionaire class, the greed of Wall Street
is destroying the lives of millions of Americans. What do we make of that?

Sowell: It is astonishing, but I think even more astonishing is how many peo-
ple voted for Bernie Sanders at a time when in socialist Venezuela, people are
starving. Theyre breaking into stores in their desperation to get some food.
Theyre crossing the borders into other countries to stave off starvation, in
a country that has one of the worlds largest supplies of oil. They managed to
do that with that country, and people are so utterly insulated from facts. The
fact that Bernie Sanders paints a very beautiful picture is all that matters.

Robinson: Now heres Donald Trump: Were going to build the wall, and
were going to stop illegal immigration. Its going to end. Now, a couple of
issues are tangled up there. One is building the wall. Is that, in and of itself,
something of which we should be suspiciousthat he wants to wall off the
United States, that he wants us to become more isolated?

Sowell: No. If were in touch with 99 percent of the human race, the fact that
were not in touch with a handful of people relative to the worlds population
who are trying to come across the Southern border doesnt make us isolated.

Robinson: One more Trump quotation: Take China as an example. I have


many friends, great manufacturers, they want to go into China. They cant.
China wont let them. China dumps everything that they have over here. We
cant get into China. We talk about free trade. Its not free trade. Its stupid
trade. What do we make of that?

Sowell: Well, this is an argument thats been made for a number of centuries
and refuted long ago. If other people will not be fair in their trade with you,
the question is: what is your best line of defense? The best line is to pay no

168 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


FAIR COMMENT: Theres no explanation needed for poverty. The species
began in poverty. So what you really need to know is what are the things that
enable some countriesand some groups within countriesto become pros-
perous? [Hoover Institution]
attention to them and engage in free trade. Youll come out better than if you
start a world trade war. A world trade war was started back in 1930 because
people said, Look, we have unemployment, well get it cured because well
make the stuff here and thatll create jobs. People dont seem to think beyond
the first stage. Yes, you set off a trade war in which international trade con-
tracted all around the world. Throughout the Great Depression of the 1930s,
we had a trade surplus. That shows what a trade surplus will do for you.

INEQUALITY AND HUMAN CAPITAL

Robinson: From Wealth, Poverty, and Politics: Once we put production at


the center of our attention, our surprise at extremes of income and wealth
might suggest the question whether there are comparable extremes in the
production of wealth, and whether these two extremes may have something
to do with each other. Setting the possession of wealth aside to focus on the
production of wealththat is intellectually more fruitful if you really want to
know why some people are poor and some people are rich?

Sowell: Oh, absolutely. I came from an earlier era when we were taught that
the reason we have electric light is because of Thomas Edison. The reason
people can now afford cars, whereas a hundred years ago 1 percent of Ameri-
can families had a car, is because Henry Ford figured out how to make cars a
lot cheaper. And there
are other things we
Economic development has never been understood then that
equal; its been grossly unequal. And if you never hear these
you happen to be in the wrong place at days; all you hear is
the wrong time, youre in big trouble. that somebody is rich
somehow. Like they
dropped out of the sky or something. Its true that Bill Gates has more money
than some countries. But of course, he created more than some countries.
That question is kept off the table in most discussions now. They act as if
somehow this guy has all this money, and its almost as if youre implicitly
assuming a fixed amount of wealth in the world. And if he has more, some-
body else must have less.

Robinson: Youre being quite dispassionate at the moment. But that actually
makes you angry, because all kinds of people, including students at pretty fancy
institutions, but also poor people in this country and elsewhere, are being told
that rich people must in some way be to blame. For goodness sake, over half of

170 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


eighteen- to twenty-five-year-olds said they supported Bernie Sanders. A major-
ity of the youngest voting cohort in this country supported a man who calls him-
self a socialist. And your view is, at a minimum, thats going to cost them time.
Theyre wasting time. What they need to understand are the habits that lead to
production. Correct?

Sowell: Yes. The question is why there is wealth in the first place, before we
get into the question of how its distributed. Because if theres no wealth,
theres nothing to distribute.

Robinson: OK. And now a quote from Hillary Clinton: Economists have
documented how the share of income and wealth going to those at the very
top has risen sharply
over the last genera-
tion. Some are calling Its true that Bill Gates has more money
it a throwback to the than some countries. But of course, he
Gilded Age of the created more than some countries.
robber barons. As
secretary of state, I saw the way extreme inequality has corrupted other soci-
eties, hobbled growth, and left entire generations alienated and unmoored.
Thats what happens when your only policy prescription is to cut taxes for the
wealthy. Purely as a matter of analysis, is that correct? Do we have evidence
that inequality, in and of itself, dampens economic growth?

Sowell: No. Id be very interested if she has any. I saw her make the same kind
of statement, using the 1920s as an example, that it was another Gilded Age.
The 1920s was among the most prosperous high-growth decades in the his-
tory of the United States. I was thinking on the way over here about someone
criticizing President Reagan, and they were saying that when the stock market
crashed in 1987, Reagan did absolutely nothing. And they were saying he should
be like Franklin D. Roosevelt and seize control and so forth, and instead he
acted like Calvin Coolidge. And I thought: under Calvin Coolidge, unemploy-
ment ranged from a high of 4.2 percent to a low of 1.8 percent. Under Franklin
D. Roosevelt, it was over 20 percent for a dozen years consecutively. We live in
an age where rhetoric prevails, and no one cares about the facts.

Robinson: All right. Get ready for this one. Economist Paul Krugman:
Income inequality is bad for democracy. The ugliness of our politics is
closely tied to the inequality of income. The people who have the most influ-
ence are not interested in having good public services, because they dont use
them. You just get a bad society. You dont buy any of that. You dont buy this

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 171


notion that the elite in this countrythe top 1 percent, the ones who have
somehow disconnecteddont live like ordinary people, therefore they just
dont care about whether the government is effective for ordinary people.

Sowell: Oh, my goodness, its hard even to know where to start. These per-
centages are so tragic. I recently did a column based on Mark Twains state-
ment that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics. If you
get into the statistics, you discover that 53 percent of American households
are going to be in the top 10 percent at some point or other in their lives. We
talk about these percentages as if these are ongoingthe same set of people
in this bracket or that bracket. But most Americans do not stay in the same
20 percent bracket for more than one decade, much less for life.

Robinson: So its largely a life cycle. Youre poor when youre young, and
youre doing fine when youre older.

Sowell: Yes, and theres nothing mysterious about that. Probably most people
in this country, when they started out at entry-level jobs, were not making
what theyre making when theyre forty years old. Heaven knows I was being
paid $2 a day to deliver groceries and depended on tips for the rest.

Robinson: Staying with inequality for just a moment, because it was such a
big theme in the recent electoral cycle. Once again, from Wealth, Poverty, and
Politics: The welfare state reduces the incentives to develop human capital.
And receiving the products of other peoples human capital is by no means as
fundamental as developing ones own human capital. What is human capital,
and why does the welfare state suppress the incentives to develop it?

Sowell: Well, human capital is the ability to create the material things that
constitute wealth. People have been puzzled by the factfor a long time
that after a major war with huge destruction, once peace is restored, the
economy gets restored often in a very few years. Think of Western Europe
after World War II: everything there was bombed. And they wonder, How
can that be? John Stuart Mill explained this back in the middle of the
nineteenth century: material things are going to be used up and wear out
whether theres a war or not. So its really the ability to operate those things,
and maintain them, and then reproduce them when necessarythats the
real wealth. So when you destroy the physical wealth, you really havent done
as much as if you destroy the human capital.
A classic example: in the 1970s Uganda decided that the Gujaratis from
India were just too wealthy and controlled too much of the economy, so

172 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Uganda set them out and wouldnt let them take their wealth with them. And
so the Gujaratis arrived mostly in England, destitute, and the Ugandan gov-
ernment is taking over all this material stuff. Over a period of a relatively few
years, the Gujaratis were prosperous in England, and the Ugandan economy
collapsed. Because they didnt have people who could redo what the Guja-
ratis were doing, so they no longer had the same production. Its also one of
the problems with trying to finance things by confiscating the wealth of the
wealthy. All you can confiscate is the material wealth; you cannot confiscate
the human capital.

Robinson: So the true wealth, the enduring wealth, the wealth that leads to
wealth in the material world is between peoples ears?

Sowell: Absolutely.

Robinson: And why does the welfare state suppress incentives for poor
people to develop their human capital?

Sowell: Because you can live off what other people have produced. Its not
just the welfare state, its true among nations. Spain, for example, during
its heyday in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, received gold and
silver literally by the tons from the Western Hemisphere colonies. They
get something like two hundred tons of gold and eighteen hundred tons
of silver. So Spain didnt have to develop its human capital, and it didnt.
It bought whatever it wanted, because it had all this. But when all of that
money was spent and the colonies broke free and so on, then Spain had
nothing. And so, today, Spain is one of the poorest countries in Western
Europe.

Robinson: Thats just what the Saudis are afraid of right now.

Sowell: And thats already happening in Saudi Arabia. Our nation has given
to Saudi Arabia all this wealth. Great. The elite dont have to work. They
live in fabulous wealth. The ordinary Saudi doesnt have to do very much
because the government subsidizes housing and all kinds of things. Over half
the people in Saudi Arabia are foreigners in the Saudi workforce. And so
they dont have to develop any human capital. If you go back some centuries
earlier, when the Middle East was really one of the most advanced parts of
the world, they hadnt yet discovered uses for petroleum. And so they had to
work for everything, and they got

Robinson: And thats the period where we got the great scholarship.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 173


Sowell: Thats right.

THE LONG VIEW

Robinson: OK. Wealth, Poverty, and Politics once again: The mundane
progress driven by ordinary economic and social processes in a free society
becomes dramatic only when its track record is viewed in retrospect over a
span of years. So we look back over the twentieth century and we conclude
what?

Sowell: Well, for example, at the beginning of the twentieth century, I think
only 10 percent of American homes had flush toilets and only 3 percent had
electric lights. And that was improved not as a result of a lot of noise, dem-
onstrations in the streets, or great pronouncements from eloquent speakers,
but by the ordinary market processes that had gone on for years.

Robinson: And what do we make of government attempts to boost economic


growth, get people out of poverty, or promote educationif you look at the
whole sweep of the twentieth century?

Sowell: Good heavens. Well, let me give you just one example: the Federal
Reserve System, which was brought in to prevent severe deflation that could
lead to downturns in the economy. For the first one hundred and fifty years of
this country, the federal government did absolutely nothing when there was
a downturn in the economy. The last time that happened was 1921, where the
unemployment rate was 12 percent. The Harding administration did noth-
ing except cut back on government spending, because there wasnt enough
money coming in to cover it.

Robinson: Imagine that.

Sowell: The next year, unemployment was down to about 6 percent. And the
year after that, it was down another 2 or 3 percent, and nobody did anything.
Reagan in 1987 would be another one. The one-day record for the drop in the
stock market that was set in 1929 was broken in 1987. The reason we dont
remember it is that Reagan did nothing, and the economy recovered.

Robinson: Fast, as I recall.

Sowell: Yes. People talk about how the government had to intervene because
you had 25 percent unemployment during the Great Depression, and what
they dont understand is that it was not 25 percent unemployment until after
the government intervened. The stock market crash occurred in October

174 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


1929. Unemployment peaked at 9 percent two months later, then started
drifting downward, and by June 1930, it was down to 6.3 percent. Thats when
the first major federal intervention in the economy occurred, to get us out
of that situation. And that was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, very much along
the lines of what Donald Trump has been talking about. Within six months,
that downward drift of unemployment reversed. It was into double digits six
months later for the first time, and it stayed in double digits for the entire
decade of the 1930severy single month. So if you look at the facts, they
show a very different picture than what you get from the rhetoric.

Robinson: You never quite put it this way in Wealth, Poverty, and Politics, but
it seems to me that theres an implicit argument in the book that if you pay
enough attention to the facts, that if you develop enough historical awareness
of economic development as it actually unfolds, then you end up recogniz-
ing all that we received from those who have gone before. It almost seems to
me that, in some implicit way, this is a book about character, and about the
importance of humility and gratitude. Is that fair?

Sowell: Yes, I mean 90 percent of what we have is because of other people


who went before us, and thats why isolation is so deadly. If youre isolated
in places where you dont get that benefit, youre lost. Angelo Codevilla, who
used to be a fellow here at Hoover, once said you can draw a line in Europe
starting at the Baltic and going all the way down to the Adriatic. He said,
A baby born on this side of that line would have a very different life from a
baby born on the other side of that line. And thats not due to merit or evil
or whatever, its due to the fact that economic development has never been
equal, its been grossly unequal. And if you happen to be in the wrong place at
the wrong time, youre in big trouble.

Robinson: Dr. Thomas Sowell, author of Wealth, Poverty, and Politics. Thank
you.

Sowell: Thank you.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 175


H I STORY AND CULT UR E

H I STORY AND CULT UR E

The Many Lives


of Babi Yar
One of the blackest chapters of World War II: the
German massacre of Kyivs Jews. The horror of
Babi Yar, suppressed in the Soviet era, may be
finding its proper place in European memory at
last.

By Norman M. Naimark

T
he Wehrmacht seized control of Kyiv on September 19, 1941.
Intent on eliminating the citys Jews, the army and SS issued
an order on September 28 for all the Jews to report the follow-
ing day at eight oclock in the morning to an assembly point
near the Lukianivka freight station close to the ravine called Babi Yar
(Babyn Yar in Ukrainian). Those who did not report would be executed.
The Germans used the pretense, if they needed any, of retaliation for a
series of explosions and subsequent fires set by Soviet sappers on the
Khreshchatyk, the main boulevard of the city, before they evacuated. The
rumor spread among the Jews that they would be transported out of the
city to labor camps.
On September 29 and 30, with their meager belongings, tens of thousands
of Jews headed towards the assembly point in long lines of mostly women,

Norman M. Naimark is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Robert
and Florence McDonnell Professor of East European Studies, Department of His-
tory, at Stanford University.

176 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


children, and the elderly. Many of the men had either joined the Red Army or
been evacuated with the factories that had been moved by the Soviet govern-
ment to the east. As they reached the assembly point, German policemen
beat the Jews and pushed them into a staging area where they were forced
to hand over their documents and bags, and to disrobe. German policemen
sorted the Jews possessions, while Ukrainian auxiliary policemen helped
keep order among the increasingly panicked prisoners. The terrified Jews
were screaming and crying, as the Germans marched them to the edge of
the deep ravine where they were executed, one group after another, by Ger-
man policemen aided by the Wehrmacht, and fell and were pushed into the
bloody abyss. The killing was systematic and unremitting. Within two days,
34,000 people were killed and buried in mass graves. There were a few lucky
survivorsthe most famous of them a young woman named Dina Proniche-
vawho managed to survive the shooting and climb out of the ravine at night
and make their way to safety. The stories they told later were essential to our
understanding of the events.
Babi Yar was a crucial event in the history of the Holocaust. It was one of
the firstand it was the largestmassacre of Jews in the Nazi campaign of
mass killing. Already in mid-August 1941, the Germans had begun to murder
indiscriminately men, women, and children. There had been other massacres
during the late summer and early fallnotably, the killing of 23,600 Jews in
Kamianets-Podilskyi on August 26 and 27but nothing like the genocidal
fury of Babi Yar. The victims in Kamianets-Podilskyi were primarily Hungar-
ian Jews who had been driven out of newly acquired Hungarian territory and
therefore were a problem for the Nazis, unlike the Jews of Kyiv, who had
lived there for decades, if not centuries, and did not present a logistical issue
for them.
Over the course of the next few years, another 30,000 or so Jews, mostly
from elsewhere in Ukraine, were killed at Babi Yar, along with an additional
30,000 or so Ukrainians, including members of the Organization of Ukrai-
nian Nationalists, Roma and Sinti, handicapped children, and Soviet POWs
of various nationalities, sometimes also Ukrainian. In all, approximately
100,000 people were murdered and buried at Babi Yar. The exact number
is hard to know.
Few who encounter the history of Babi Yar can forget the final act of the
destruction. Hitler and the Nazis were determined to eliminate the evidence
of mass murder. In late August and September 1943, teams of prisoners from
the Syrets concentration camp, predominantly Soviet POWs and surviving
Jews, were forced by SS Special Commando 1005 to exhume the bodies at

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 177


CROSS CURRENTS: Cadets carry a Ukrainian flag during a ceremony last fall
for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Babi Yar mass shootings. The 1976
monument, erected in the Soviet era, focused on victims of the German fas-
cist invaders and did not mention Jews. In 1991, on the fiftieth anniversary of
the massacre, a bronze menorah was dedicated to the murdered Jews of Kyiv.
[Pyotr SivkovTASS]

Babi Yar and place them on huge pyres that were built from ransacked rail
ties and tombstones from the nearby Jewish cemetery. This was gruesome
work, as many of the bodies were melded together; children were hard to pry
loose from their mothers arms. The prisoners then poured incendiaries on
towering stacks of corpses and set them on fire. The chained participants
in these ghastly details finished the job by sifting through the ashes, sepa-
rating out pieces of skeleton to be crushed, and scattering the ashes in the
ravine. The idea was to destroy the evidence before the Soviet armies broke
through to the city in early November 1943. The prisoners, who realized that
they were building the last pyre for themselves, made a desperate attempt
to escape. Only 18 out of 327 succeeded. But those who managed to survive
recounted the horrors they had witnessed and in which they were forced to
participate.

178 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


THE STALINIST BABI YAR
From the time Kyiv was liberated by the Red Army in November 1943 almost
to the end of the Soviet Union, there was an unremitting attempt by the
communist authorities to obscure the special fate of the Jews at Babi Yar.
Initially, a series of commissions in the city did note the destruction of the
local Jews in their internal documents, but the Soviet governments final
published report (About the Destruction and Atrocities Perpetrated by the
German Fascist Invaders in the City of Kyiv, February 1944), while discuss-
ing the tragedy of Babi Yar, stated only that the Hitlerite bandits herded
thousands of innocent Soviet citizens to their deaths. Stalinist propaganda
and Soviet nationality policy in general were unwilling to recognize the par-
ticular travails of the Jews during the war and concealed the basic facts of
the Holocaust from the Soviet people.
There was much attention paid to the victims of the Nazis, but they were
always identified simply as peaceful Soviet citizens. The reasons for this
blind spot towards the Holocaust were many: Stalin did not want the Jews
singled out among the other peoples of the Soviet Union; only the Russians
could be privileged in the hierarchy of victims. The Ukrainians themselves
had spent the war under an anti-Semitic Nazi occupation regime that only
sharpened the edges of their own anti-Semitism. From Moscows point of
view, special recognition
of the Jews would only
alienate the Ukraini- Babi Yar was one of the firstand it
ans and make it all the was the largestmassacre of Jews in
harder to win them back the Nazi campaign of mass killing.
to the Soviet fold. Under
the influence of the coming Cold War, Stalins attitudes towards the Jews
in general in the immediate postwar period grew increasingly hostile, as he
suspected them of secret sympathies with Israel and the West. The fear of
Jewish loyalty to Israel was exacerbated by Golda Meirs arrival in Moscow
as Israels first ambassador on October 4, 1948, when tens of thousands of
Jews gathered and feted her presence. The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee,
which during the war was used by the Soviets to raise support and funding
in the West for their war effort, was shut down in 1948; its leader, the famous
Yiddish actor Solomon Mikhoels, was brutally murdered by Stalins agents.
The secret police also confiscated and destroyed the page proofs of The Com-
plete Black Book of Soviet Jewry, the committees attempt, led by the renowned
writers Vasily Grossman and Ilya Ehrenburg, to document the tragedy of the
Jews at Babi Yar and throughout the Soviet Union.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 179


Despite official indifference to Babi Yar, Kyivan Jews who survived the war
and returned to their homes tried to commemorate the loss of their friends
and relatives. But any public manifestation by the Jewish community or even
by small groups of Jews was suppressed by the local Ukrainian authorities
as Jewish chauvinism and fanning anti-Semitism. Because other peoples
had died thereUkrainians and Russians especiallythere was a lack of
empathy for the Jews who attempted to recognize Babi Yar as a special place
of their peoples destruction. Ukrainians were generally ill-disposed to the
Jews; some even engaged in violent acts against Jews in the months follow-
ing the liberation and the end of the war. Even the postwar trials in 1947 and
1948 of some of the perpetrators of the Babi Yar killings did not mention the
Jews. Anti-Semitism was rife in Kyiv, so much so that the Ukrainian political
leadership, headed by Nikita Khrushchev, discussed the possibility of moving
all of them to Birobidzhan, the Jewish Autonomous Republic set up by the
Soviets in 1928 in the far east.

AFTER STALIN
The period of de-Stalinization after the dictators death in March 1953
encouraged some Jewish activists and government figures to initiate a
discussion of building a monument to the victims of Babi Yar. But Soviet
anti-Semitism continued to hover over the memorialization of the tragedy.
Then, in March 1961, a different kind of tragedy befell Babi Yar when a huge
mudslide struck Kurenivka, where housing had been built on landfill that had
been dumped into the ravine. Part of the plan to construct new transporta-
tion routes and housing projects was the building of a dam where liquid pulp
accumulated. During the
Kurenivka mudslide, a
Prisoners who realized that they were thick wall of pulp four
building the last pyre for themselves meters high and twenty
made a desperate attempt to escape. meters wide went hur-
tling down the ravine,
Only eighteen succeeded.
destroying everything in
its path. Officially 145 people were killed in the Kurenivka mudslide; maybe
as many as 1,500 perished. Not surprisingly, rumors were widespread that
the tragedy was the revenge of the dead, who did not wish their final resting
place obliterated by the authorities.
In August 1961, the young Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, a product of
the literary thaw of the 1950s, visited the site of the massacre with another
young writer, Anatoly Kuznetsov. Wrote Yevtushenko,

180 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


ALL ACCORDING TO PLAN: Erich Koch, in gray uniform, was the Reichskom-
missar for occupied Ukraine. He was quoted as saying, If I meet a Ukrainian
worthy of being seated at my table, I must have him shot. After Germanys
defeat, Koch tried to escape to South America but was captured, tried for war
crimescommitted in Poland, but not Ukraineand sentenced to death. The
sentence was later commuted to life because of ill health, but Koch lived to be
ninety, dying in 1986 in a Polish prison. [German Federal Archives]

I had expected to see some kind of commemorative marker or some


kind of tended spot. And suddenly I saw a very ordinary landfill that
had been turned into a sandwich of garbage with a bad smell. . . .
Before our eyes, trucks were arriving and dumping more and more
piles of garbage into the place where these victims were lying.

That night, deeply disturbed by what he had seen, Yevtushenko penned a


tribute to the dead of Babi Yar that began with the lines: No monument
stands over Babi Yar. A drop sheer as a crude gravestone. I am afraid.
First read at a literary evening held at the Polytechnical Museum in Mos-
cow in September 1961, Yevtushenkos recitation so enthralled his audience
of mostly young members of the intelligentsia that they burst into a frenzy
of applause and demanded an encore, listening to the second reading while
standing enraptured. The poem chronicled the history of modern anti-Semi-
tism, from the Dreyfus Affair in France and the pogroms in Imperial Rus-
sia up through the unmarked burial ground at Babi Yar, and called on real

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 181


Russiansmeaning, for Yevtushenko, the Russian intelligentsia and all who
would align with themto reject anti-Semitism and remember the sufferings
of their Jewish fellow citizens.
The poem was first published in Literaturnaya Gazeta on September 19,
1961, and made a huge impact on Russians understanding of the meaning of
Babi Yar. Although Khrushchevs de-Stalinization campaign inspired poets
and writers to challenge the orthodoxies of the past, he was none too pleased
by Yevtushenkos poem, which he called politically harmful and singing with
a foreign voice.
But this important moment in the history of the Russian intelligentsia
could not be reversed. Dmitri Shostakovich was inspired by Yevtushenko
to write his Thirteenth Symphony, the first movement of which featured
vocals based on the poem, and music redolent with the terrible fate of
Jews at Babi Yar and before. Premiering in Moscow to great acclaim on
December 18, 1962, Shostakovichs symphony was quickly denounced by the
Soviet cultural authorities and blacklisted in March 1963. Still, a recording
of the original Moscow concert made it to the West and was circulated as a
phonograph record. Like similar literary denunciations of anti-Semitism by
Soviet writers and poets, which were censored and sometimes not pub-
lished at all, the symphony could not be performed in Kyiv until the Gor-
bachev period.
Perhaps most important in bringing the tragedy of Babi Yar to the atten-
tion of the world was the serial publication in the Soviet journal Yunost
(1966) of Anatoly Kuznetsovs brilliant memoir, Babi Yar: A Document in
the Form of a Novel. It was published as a book a year later. Though large
sections of Kuznetsovs work were censored, the construction of the book,
which included long passages from several survivors testimoniesinclud-
ing those of Dina
Pronicheva, who
From the liberation of Kyiv in 1943 almost had crawled out
to the end of the USSR, communist author- of the mass grave,
ities tried to obscure the special fate of the and Volodymyr
Jews at Babi Yar. Davydov, one of
the Syrets concen-
tration camp survivors who had been forced to burn the corpsescreated
a powerful impression of the horror of the Babi Yar tragedy, along with an
effective history of its purposeful forgetting. On a trip to London in 1969,
Kuznetsov asked for political asylum and proceeded to publish the entire
novel/memoir.

182 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


REMEMBRANCE: Children play on one of Ukraines many memorials to atroc-
ity. This one, in Kyivs Syretsky Park, singles out prisoners of war and civilians
killed by the Nazis. Multiple memorials in or near the Babi Yar site honor Jews,
nationalists, Roma, children, and others. [SarapulovCreative Commons]

Thereafter, contrary to the constant attempts on the part of the Soviet


government to erase the memory of the tragedy that befell the Jews of
Kyiv in September 1941, the Babi Yar theme reverberated in intelligentsia
circles and gained international resonance. The ravine became the site of
unsanctioned meetings in Kyiv, as Ukrainian Jews themselves gained the
confidence to commemorate the brutal fate of their relatives and friends.
One of the most important of these meetings took place on the morning
of September 29, 1966, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the massacre. The
Ukrainian writer and dissident Ivan Dziuba spoke bravely of the Ukrainian
need to remember what happened at Babi Yar a quarter of a century ear-
lier: Babyn Yar is a tragedy for all mankind, but it happened on Ukrainian
soil, and therefore the Ukrainian, like the Jew, has no right to forget about

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 183


it. The meeting was broken up by the police, but from that time forward,
Babi Yar became a part both of the Ukrainian democratic intelligentsias
attempts to gain leverage for Ukrainian cultural autonomy and historical
honesty and Ukrainian Jews efforts to practice their religion openly or
leave the country.
Finally, in 1976, thirty-five years after the tragedy, the Soviet government
erected a monument to the victims of Babi Yar. Here in 19411945 more than
a hundred thousand citizens of Kyiv and prisoners of war were shot by the
German fascist invaders. This large and ungainly Soviet war memorial and
its typical inscription made no mention of the Jews. In fact, the persistence of
official and unofficial anti-Semitism prompted thousands of Kyivan Jews to
leave the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s.

INDEPENDENT UKRAINE AND BABI YAR


Only with the coming of independent Ukraine could the Kremlins denial of
the Holocaust and the murder of the Jews at Babi Yar be overcome. In Sep-
tember 1991, the fortieth anniversary of Babi Yar and the eve of the fall of
the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian authorities unveiled a large and distinctive-
ly Jewish menorah memorial at the ravine. Leonid Kravchuk, who oversaw
the transition from Soviet to independent Ukraine (on December 1, 1991,
Ukrainians voted for their independence), gave a striking speech about the
importance of remembering in particular the Jewish victims of Babi Yar,
who, he clearly noted, had been subjected to the genocidal policies of the
Germans. But attempts
over the following decade
Any public manifestation by the to mark the site as one
Jewish community was suppressed of special meaning to the
by the local Ukrainian authorities as Jews were frustrated by
Jewish chauvinism. the building of a number
of memorials at different
spots all over the area (there are some thirty at various places around the
territory now), recalling the diverse victims who were killed along with the
Jews in the ravine: gypsies, nationalist Ukrainians, Soviet POWs, members
of various churches, handicapped children, and others. Meanwhile, Babi
Yar still had playgrounds, a park, a television tower, and even some apart-
ments on its territory. This reflected the lack of focus and determination on
the part of the Ukrainian and Kyivan city authorities to find a way to make
Babi Yar more than a casual memory site of the biggest massacre of Jews
during the war.

184 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


President Petro Poroshenko changed all of this as part of his intention,
inspired in part by the Maidan demonstrations in the winter of 201415,
to integrate Ukraine into European institutions. Europe, on one level,
is a culturally and historically bound confederation that acknowledges
the Holocaust and
renounces denial.
All of the nations After a deadly 1961 mudslide, rumors
that have entered were widespread that the tragedy was
the EU since its the revenge of the dead, who did not
first expansion to wish their final resting place obliterated.
the east have been
enjoined to deal with their complicity in the Holocaust. Ukraine is no dif-
ferent; thus Poroshenkos decree of August 12, 2015, Concerning Mea-
sures in Connection with the 75th Anniversary of the Babi Yar Tragedy,
which, for the first time, acknowledged at the state level the importance of
Babi Yar as a crucial place of memory in the history of the Holocaust. The
decree also made mention of other victims at Babi Yar, including Ukrai-
nian nationalists.
Poroshenkos decree was followed by an extremely important speech in
Israels Knesset on December 23, 2015, which emphasized the importance
of Babi Yar to the Holocaust, talked about the death of 1.5 million Ukrainian
Jews, murdered simply because they were Jews, and spoke of the shared
grief of Jews and Ukrainians for those lost in the war. Poroshenko also
pointed to the Ukrainian Righteous among the Nations, who had risked
their lives to save Jews and were recognized formally by the Israeli state for
their actions. He also proved willing to talk about Ukrainian collaborators in
the Holocaust, who, he stated, unfortunately, existed practically in all Euro-
pean countries that were occupied by the Nazis, and helped those monsters
to implement the final solution to the Jewish question. At the same time, he
apologized to the children and grandchildren of Ukrainian Holocaust victims
on behalf of the Ukrainian nation.
Poroshenkos decree and speech in the Knesset led up to the commemora-
tion at Babi Yar of September 29 and 30, 2016, as well as to the academic
conferences, speeches, cultural events, youth gatherings, and Ukrainian-
Jewish presentations that accompanied it. The week-long events also
included a ceremony to mark the intention of the Kyivan city government to
build a museum in honor of Babi Yar, as well as an architectural competition
to find a way to mark the entire sitedifficult in the extreme, given the pres-
ent city parkas one of memory and mourning. The commemoration itself

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 185


was impressive in size and scope, including the presidents of Germany and
Israel, and representatives of the United States, France, and the EU. There
was no doubt that this was an event to remember the murdered Jewsthe
Hebrew prayer of
mourning, the Kad-
Babyn Yar is a tragedy for all mankind, dish, was recited by
but it happened on Ukrainian soil, and Kyivs chief rabbi at
therefore the Ukrainian, like the Jew, has the conclusionand
no right to forget about it. to include Ukraine in
the European culture
of memory. Given the fraught history of Ukrainian-Jewish relations and the
complicated history of Babi Yar, this was not easy at all. It gives one hope
that economic and political integration with Europe, even with fierce Russian
opposition and the contemporary EU travails of Brexit and refugees, will fol-
low in due course.

Special to the Hoover Digest. The data and several quotes in this essay
are taken from Babyn Yar: History and Memory, edited by Vladyslav
Hrynevych and Paul Robert Magocsi (Kyiv: Dukh i Litera, 2016).

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.

186 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


H OOVE R A R C H I VE S

H OOVER A RCHIVE S

Hoover and the


Great Outdoors
A lifelong outdoorsman, Herbert Hoover praised
nature as a font of inspiration, relaxation, and
American values. Naturally, Hoover played an
energetic role in developing Americas national parks.

By Jean McElwee Cannon

T
he National Park Service has just celebrated its hundredth anni-
versary. A bureau of the US Department of the Interior dedi-
cated to preserving Americas most beautiful parks and most
significant national monuments, the park service was estab-
lished through an act signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. It was the
culmination of a conservation movement begun by the naturalist president
Theodore Roosevelt, who, though born in New York City, spent many of his
formative years in the Westan experience that prompted him to campaign
tirelessly for the protection of areas such as Yellowstone and Yosemite from
the encroachment of lumber and mining operations. The establishment of
the National Park Service opened the door for even more geologically and
historically significant areas of the country to be protected.
In the early years of the park service, one of the bureaus biggest supporters
was another transplanted Westerner, Herbert Hoover, who moved from Iowa
to Oregon at the age of eleven and spent his childhood largely out of doors:

Jean McElwee Cannon is the assistant archivist for communications and out-
reach at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 187


hiking, horseback riding, swimming, andhis particular favoritefishing.
Hoovers love of the land inspired him to study geology as part of the first,
pioneer class at Stanford University, and his subsequent, successful career
in the mining industry gave him unique knowledge of the ecological exploita-
tion that could be wrought upon unprotected lands. Coming from a Quaker
family that frowned upon playing cards, consuming alcohol, and reading
literature that was not the Bible, Hoover had been encouraged to spend his
youthful leisure hours in the salubrious outdoors, which his family believed
to improve physical health, moral fiber, and spiritual understanding. Hoover
would carry this belief in the improving nature of outdoor recreation into his
term as president, expanding the park system and encouraging Americans to
seek spiritual renewal within the great geologic wonders of the country.
When the Depression struck in 1929, the parks also became an inexpensive
getaway for struggling families. The thrift of camping, combined with the rise
of car culture, raised the number of park visitors from 3.4 million in 1929 to 3.8
million in 1932. To meet the demand for economical recreation, Hoover cam-
paigned aggressively for establishing new parks in the East, protecting and
expanding existing parks, and including significant historical sites and monu-
ments within the park service. During his presidency national forests were
expanded by more than two million acres, and land designated for new national
parks and monuments increased 40 percent. Hoover also laid the groundwork
for Eastern parks that would be established after his term as president, includ-
ing the Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah, and Everglades parks.
The holdings at the Hoover Library and Archives reveal that in addition to
hoping that engagement with nature would help assuage some of the anxi-
ety of economic strife and sinking morale during the Depression, Hoovers
engagement with the National Park Service also stemmed from a lifelong
passion for the outdoors, a pre-presidency career in the Department of the
Interior that yielded a deep understanding of the aspirations of the park sys-
tem, personal involvement with American conservation movements, and, in
particular, a long friendship with Horace Albright, a leading environmentalist
whom Hoover would name as director of the National Park Service in 1929.

PARKS AND RECREATION: Herbert Hoover (right) and Horace Albright


were friends and fishing companions long before Albright became director
of the National Park Service in 1929. As superintendent of Yellowstone Park
between 1919 and 1929, Albright hosted Hoover on various fishing expedi-
tions and advised Hoover, then secretary of commerce, on fish hatcheries in
the parks. [Hoover Institution Archives]

188 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Long before the inexpensive holiday came to be coveted by Americans
struggling with hardship or penury, Hoover grappled with issues related to
the pragmatism of conservation movements in America, the environmental
consequences of tourism, the use of products of the parklands for national
need, and the economic role of leisure within a capitalist society.

RECREATION AND RENEWAL


As commerce secretary from 1921 to 1928, Hoover spent nearly a decade
advancing the idea that capitalist leaders in an industrial society should
encourage workers to live meaningful livesand that much of the fulfill-
ment Americans sought was captured during leisure time. In the decade of
the 1920s per capita income rose nearly 30 percent, productivity per factory
man-hour increased 75 percent, and the workweek was reduced by 4 percent.
Cars cut down commute times; newfangled gadgets such as vacuum cleaners
and dishwashers were cheap and reduced time spent on household chores.
In the postWorld War I industrial, consumer society, Americans had more
money and more time than ever before: what to do with it?
Hoovers answer was to advocate the healthy, self-improving outdoor
activities he had enjoyed as a child and which he believed warded off moral
and societal degeneration:
fishing, hiking, swimming,
Recreation grounds and natural camping, archery. Nation-
museums are as necessary to our al playgrounds being
advancing civilizations as are wheat necessary for productive
fields and factories. play, Hoover campaigned
for the expansion of the
National Park Service by arguing that if Americans could learn to use leisure
to moral and spiritual advantage, they would reaffirm the cultural values that
were threatened by the increased affluence of modern consumer society. For
Hoover, who believed individualism to be the superior principle to organizing
a high-functioning society, efficient use of leisure time was essential. Suc-
cessful use of leisure created more successful individualsa belief which, for
Hoover, married conservation to the goals of a thriving consumer society.
Unlike many of his colleagues at the Department of the Interior, there-
fore, Hoover valued the national park system more for its recreational
than extractive value. Instead of considering the parks as vaults of natural
resources that could be exploited by the country in times of crisis (an idea
popular with many leading policy makers of the period), Hoover believed that
the parks served primarily for uplifting amusement: a Coney Island built of

190 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


NATURAL WONDERS: Yellowstone was the favorite park of Hoovers friend
and colleague Horace Albright. The two men worked together to expand not
only Yellowstone but also Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, and Carlsbad, among
other parks. [Library of Congress]
rock, tree, and mountain. Hoovers dedication to exploring the great outdoors
both as a recreational and an economic asset would put him in league with
many of the leading environmentalists of the day.
One of Hoovers most successful collaborations with a conservation group
grew out of his lifelong passion: fishing. Hoover emerged as a leading figure
in the Izaak Walton League, a group of angling outdoorsmen and women
who formed a significant
voice in public debate
During Hoovers presidency, national over environmental issues
forests expanded by more than two in the 1920s. Named for
million acres, and land designated for the seventeenth-century
new national parks and monuments author of The Compleat
Angler, the Izaak Walton
increased 40 percent.
League was organized in
1922 by a Chicago fisherman and advertising agent, Will H. Dilg. Unlike older
conservation organizations such as the National Audubon Society (founded
in 1905) and the Sierra Club (1892) that peaked at a few thousand members
in the 1920s, the Izaak Walton League, driven by the enthusiasm of Dilg,
accrued a membership of 100,000 by 1925 and became the dominant extra-
governmental conservation force of the 1920s.
The Walton Leagues journal Outdoor America featured the finest nature writ-
ers of the period, and their coverage of environmental issues would often be con-
sidered in public policy debates. In addition to articles about fishing, the journal
covered such issues as water pollution, wetland draining, forest fires, reforesta-
tion, and ecologically friendly camping. Herbert Hoover, one of the leagues first
and most dedicated members, contributed a short essay about scientific conser-
vation and fisheries to the first issue of Outdoor America published in 1922.
At the time of the establishment of the Izak Walton League, Hoover, as
secretary of commerce, was campaigning tirelessly for the protection of Alaska
salmon fisheries and halting oil pollution in coastal waters; he found the leagues
members not only warm supporters of his efforts but agents for publicizing his
conservation goals to the American public. In 1926, the league offered Hoover an
honorary presidency, which he gladly accepted. Throughout the 1920s, Hoover
would frequently find time to speak to members of the league, keeping them
abreast of trends in governmental policy related to environmental issues.
In 1924, Hoover also became president of the National Parks Association
(NPA), an organization established in 1919 by a generous donation from Ste-
phen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service. The NPA worked
primarily as a lobbying group that sought to keep the parks free of commercial

192 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


developmenta goal that made many in the group wary of a president who was
also secretary of commerce. In his letter accepting the presidency of the NPA
Hoover wrote:

Recreation grounds and natural museums are as necessary to our


advancing civilizations as are wheat fields and factories. Indeed, I
should like to see the association not alone devote itself to defense
of areas that have been set aside by our Government for perpetual
use in these purposes, but to expand its activities in the promotion
of other forms of recreational areas.

Hoover soon clashed with other members of the organization who believed that
the associations purpose was to advocate for the protection of landwhich meant
deterring tourism, which brought litter, pollution, and erosion. Hoover, however,
firmly believed in the value of outdoor recreation for physical, mental, and moral
health, and persisted in promoting civilian use of the parks. At a 1924 conference
organized to promote outdoor activities, Hoover emphasized constructive recre-
ation that would fill the increasing hours of leisure available to Americans:

Now it seems that one of the byproducts of our increasing produc-


tion and standardization of living is greater leisure. Every decade
shows that through the development of science and invention, of
elimination of waste, and of improved organization of commerce and
industry, we increase our production per capita and consequently
our standards of living, and parallel with this increase every decade
shows a decrease in the average hours of work by American people.
Consequently they have a larger and increasing period of leisure. This
leisure must be provided for by increased facilities of recreation and
education. It will be of no avail to us to show increased leisure without
constructive occupation during that period, for leisure, which is
idleness, will generate a disastrous train of degeneration. So that con-
structive recreation which improves physical strength, which creates
stimulation of mind, and strengthens the moral fiber of our people, is
just as important as their efforts in labor.

Hoovers argument (idleness is the hand of the devil) shows obvious religious
influence, but also mimics the ideas put forth by the popular Boy Scout and
Girl Scout movements of the time (indeed, Hoovers wife Lou Henry Hoover
served as president of the Girl Scouts of the United States in the 1920s and
1930s). Outdoor recreation, with the benefit of building health and whole-
someness, produces good citizens. Hoover believed that an active and athletic

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 193


America was an America that functioned with common sense and optimism. In
lieu of passive pursuits such as watching movies and organized sporting events
(both of which began to soar in popularity in the 1920s), Hoover advocated
expeditions to the outdoors that would lend Americans the spirit that our
people need in times of suspicion and doubt. Many years before the stock mar-
ket crash would halt the decadence of the Roaring Twenties, Hoover propheti-
cally argued that sustaining vim and vigor would help individuals when forced
to face difficult times.
Hoover sustained his interest in the effects of material well-being on
moral well-being throughout the 1920s, and as a president-elect in 1929 he
sponsored a major study of leisure that was carried out by sociologist Jesse
Frederick Steiner. By October of 1929, however, Steiners findings would be
rendered catastrophically moot. With modern industrial America thrown
into economic depression and moral despair, excess leisure became a relic of
the decade coming to a close.

HOOVER AND HORACE ALBRIGHT


Of the many materials at the Hoover Archives that document the thirty-first
presidents love of nature and the outdoors, perhaps the most illuminating and
intimate is the transcript of an interview with Horace Albright, director of the
National Park Service during Hoovers administration. Like Hoover, Albright was
an avid angler and, lucky for the researcher, a talented storyteller. His interview,
part of the Herbert Hoover Oral History collection at the archives, is replete with
colorful tales from more than four decades of friendship with the Hoovers.
Albright first met Herbert Hoover in 1919 when, as a young man, Albright
worked under the legendary first director of the National Park Service,
Stephen Mather. Albright had been an instrumental deputy to Mather during
the latters ardent campaign to secure legislation for the NPS (achieved in
1916) and assisted Mather through a rocky start that was overshadowed by
war and the frequent loss of employees who enlisted in the Army. The most
dire of Albrights wartime concerns, howeverthe one that inspired him to
seek desperate help from Hoover, then head of the US Food Administration
was that a faction of legislators in Washington, DC, had proposed killing the
abundant elk in Yellowstone Park to feed soldiers overseas. Outraged by this
threat to the parks animals (and fearful for the precedent such an exploit-
ative practice might set), Albright implored Hoover to intervene.
Hoover emphatically agreed that slaughtering the animals in Yellowstone
was a drasticand unnecessarymeasure and issued a statement that
the demands of wartime did not yet determine that parks be mined for

194 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


CAUGHT IT: Herbert Hoovers favorite leisure activity was fishing. His friend
Albright recalled how Hoover fished in a blue-serge suit, double-breasted
and with a high collar. Even while fishing, he carried a pad and pencil to
record ideas, take notes, and make lists of tasks. [Hoover Institution Archives]
resources. Instead, Hoover suggested voluntary rationingalready at that
time jocularly called Hooverizingthat would create surplus food for fight-
ers. Relieved, Albright thanked Hoover and in exchange for his help gave him
significant tips about fishing holes in Yellowstone, Albrights favorite park.
Later that year, Albright became superintendent of Yellowstone Park, and
Hoover became one of his most frequent guests and favored fishing partners.
Saving the elk began a personal and professional relationship that would
have enormous benefits for the flourishing of the park service.
During one of his many early conversations with Albright on the topic of fish,
Hoover learned that Yellowstone was the only park in the park system that had
a federal fish hatchery, one of the oldest hatcheries in the American West. As
secretary of commerce (one who installed an aquarium in the Department of
the Interior as soon as he arrived), Hoover visited the hatchery with President
Calvin Coolidgea trip that provided for much discussion of the economic
benefits of hatcheries, as well as daily angling adventures with Albright. While
casting their lines with
Coolidge, Hoover and
A faction in Washington once pro- Albright lobbied to start
posed killing the abundant elk in Yel- a fish hatchery in Yosem-
lowstone Park to feed soldiers over- ite (the hatchery would
seas. Hoover called that plan drastic be established in 1927).
and unnecessary. Albright recalled that even
when fishing, Hoover was
on the joboften fishing in a double-breasted blue serge suit. He also always
brought a pad and pencil for recording ideas, taking notes, and making lists of
tasks to be doneor, in this case, of hatcheries promised.
As Hoover took office in early 1929, the directorship of the NPS opened
suddenly as Stephen Mather suffered a stroke that forced him to resign.
Hoover immediately courted Horace Albright to lead the NPS. Hoover was
afraid, however, that Albright would not take the directorship because he
would be forced to leave his beloved Yellowstone for Washington. Only after
much cajolingand threats: What will happen to Yellowstone if someone
incompetent directs the NPS?did Albright agree to take the directorship
and cross the country from Western geysers to Eastern city blocks.
The team of Albright and Hoover was exceedingly productive: together
they worked closely with the Bureau of Fisheries, lobbied to keep airports
out of the parks, and convinced legislators that historic sites (battlegrounds
and battleships, for example) should come under the auspices of the National
Park Service. Together Hoover and Albright established Waterton-Glacier

196 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


and Isle Royale Parks, and expanded Yellowstone, Yosemite, Bryce Canyon,
and Carlsbad, among others. They also established nearly two dozen national
monuments, including Arches, the George Washington birthplace, Sunset
Crater, Appomattox Courthouse, White Sands, and Death Valley. Hoover
also lobbied tirelessly for expanding the park system in the East, laying the
groundwork for parks in the Shenandoah Valley, the Great Smoky Moun-
tains, and the Everglades.
Hoover and Albright also showed a genius for courting support for the NPS in
the private sector and at the state level. At least in part because of his friend-
ship with Hoover, philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. made generous dona-
tions of land and money to the NPS and persuaded his wealthy colleagues to do
the same. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, for example, was established
with 50 percent donations from North Carolina and Tennessee and 50 percent
donations from Rockefeller. Rockefeller and his colleagues would also often raise
funds to buy private lands within the parks and then donate them to the NPS.
Hoover also personally expanded the park system by establishing (with
$120,000 of his own money) a rustic presidential retreat in the East. With
Albrights advice (and fishing recommendations), Hoover settled on the Rapi-
dan River area of Virginiaa site he would later donate as part of Shenandoah
National Park. Hoover used the Rapidan Campnestled a hundred miles from
Washington in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountainsfor both recreation and
diplomacy; here he pitched horseshoes with Charles Lindbergh, went horse-
back riding with Will Rogers, and planned the 1930 London Naval Conference,
one of the most important postWorld War I disarmament efforts, while sitting
on a log in the woods with British prime minister Ramsay MacDonald.
During his interview for the Herbert Hoover Oral History Project, Albright
relates a colorful anecdote that illustrates how Hoovers innate talent for
problem solving and ardent love of nature were a happy combination for
the country. Albright reports that one night while on a stroll on the White
House lawn Hoover came across an injured opossum, which he rescued and
brought inside. The following day he invested the care of the possum to a few
local children (Hoover, who had been orphaned at a young age, maintained
a sympathy for children throughout his life). In turn, the children made the
presidential possum the mascot of their high schoolwhich proceeded to
have an undefeated football season. As the story of the lucky mascot explod-
ed in the media, Hoover was flooded with requests for possums sent from
high schoolers across the country. At first baffled by the predicament of pos-
sum shortage, Hoover quickly solved the problem using the organizing skills
he had honed in his earlier humanitarian work: he hired the local children of

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 197


the rural Rapidan area to source possums to send to the high schools. At the
rate of one dollar per possumnot insignificant during the Depressionthe
president soon could satisfy the need for mascots from coast to coast.

A LIFELONG COMMITMENT
Hoover remained an active outdoorsman and proponent of the park system
long after leaving office in 1933. Photographs from the Herbert Hoover Col-
lection at the Hoover Archives show him fishing with friends in parks across
the country until his death in 1964. After his term as president he continued
speaking to conservation groups to support establishing new parks and
expanding existing ones, and was heavily involved in the twenty-year-long
movement to incorporate Jackson Hole National Monument as part of Grand
Teton National Park (which finally took place in 1950).
In his latter years, with his responsibilities as president, secretary of com-
merce, and food administrator behind him, he spoke expansively about find-
ing a sense of the sublime in nature. In a draft of a 1951 speech titled Men
Are Equal Before Fish, Hoover wrote that spending time out of doors is the
chance to wash ones soul with a pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with
the shimmer of the sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration
from the decency of nature . . . a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of
hate. And perhaps most important, a rejoicing that you dont have to decide
a darned thing until next week.
For Hoover, the national parks allowed Americans to improve themselves
as individuals while also escaping the overwhelming demands of daily life
in an industrialized society. The spiritual profit of experiencing the parks
caused him to champion the fledgling National Park Service as, in the words
of fellow Westerner and Stanford alumnus Wallace Stegner, Absolutely
American, absolutely democratic. . . . The best idea we ever had.

Special to the Hoover Digest.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is The


Crusade Years, 19331955: Herbert Hoovers 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.

198 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


H OOVE R A R C H I VE S

H OOVER A RCHIVE S

Weapon on the
Wall
As World War I raged, posters encouraged, enticed,
and even shamed young Americans into joining
the great conflict.

By Jean McElwee Cannon

O
ne hundred years ago, America entered a three-year-old war in
which vast numbers of men had already lost their lives in the
bloody trenches of Europe. For many American citizens, the so-
called Great War was a foreign concern and one in which Amer-
ica should not become entangled. Declaring war on April 6, 1917, President
Woodrow Wilsons administration faced the daunting task of mobilizing an
Army and a home front plagued by mixed public opinion about the wisdom
of entering the conflict. Wilson immediately formed the all-new Committee
on Public Information that would encourage Army enlistment, home front
rationing, fundraising, and overall support for the war effort. To do this, its
weapon of choice was one of the most iconic forms of media to emerge from
the conflict: the poster.
As America pioneered poster production during its twenty-month involve-
ment in the First World War, both poster producers and viewers alike would
learn the value of graphic images and forceful slogans in shaping the Ameri-
can political landscape. In all, more than ten million posters were printed

Jean McElwee Cannon is the assistant archivist for communications and out-
reach at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 199


by the US government. Bold, colorful, and enduringly evocative, the posters
hark back to a time when the art of persuasion was practiced not on televi-
sion, radio, and the Internet but in the streets and on walls across the nation.
At that crucial moment, governments and citizens realized that wars are
won and lost not just on the battlefield but within media outlets that promote
patriotism, fundraising, and sacrifice for the nation. Those messages per-
colated through American society, encouraging soldier and civilian alike to
commit to the war effort in spirit and deedaffirming ideas, attitudes, and
actions that would bring the Allied forces closer to victory.
Militarily, America was woefully unprepared when it entered the First
World War. The Army numbered a mere 107,641 men, making Americas
infantry power minuscule compared to most geographically smaller nations
around the world; it had not faced the challenge of large-scale operations
since the Civil War. President Wilson and members of Congress recognized
that the hasty building of a formidable Army would require not just the
enlistment of fighting men but the efforts of all Americans on the home front.
The country soon showed an extraordinary capacity for organizing military
recruitment and bolstering industrial and agricultural production.
In all, twenty-four million American men would register for service during
191718. Three million would see combat and fifty thousand would be killed.
Their presence helped break the stalemate of trench warfare in Europe and
was a decisive factor in the Allied victory.
The images that follow illustrate many of the ways in which America
assembled its military machine and kept it fed and furnished. These and
other remarkable images, drawn from the Hoover Institutions world-
renowned archive of more than 130,000 posters, are part of a new exhibit at
Hoover titled Weapon on the Wall: American Posters of World War I. The exhibit
will run from April 5 through September 2 at the Herbert Hoover Memorial
Exhibit Pavilion, located next to Hoover Tower at Stanford University. Hours
are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.

200 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


CALL TO ACTION: Artist Z. P. Nikolaki depicts Lady Liberty calling for help
specifically moneyin this 1918 poster. Americas involvement in the First
World War would cost the government more than $30 billion by wars end. The
most effectiveand highly publicizedsource of that money was the sale of
government-issued Liberty Bonds and War Savings Stamps. [Hoover Institution
ArchivesPoster Collection]

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 201


WOKE: James Montgomery Flagg, creator of the muscular, finger-pointing
Uncle Sam figure who commanded I Want You, sought to reproach Ameri-
can isolationists with this 1917 image of a slumbering Lady Liberty. Outside
her window, the battle for civilization rages. [Hoover Institution ArchivesPoster
Collection]

202 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


MAN ENOUGH? Common to many recruiting posters was an appeal to
masculine pride. Some posters were thoughtful, like this one by Laura Brey, a
young woman at the Art Institute of Chicago who won a contest for her image
of a passive civilian watching the troops march by. By Armistice Day, twenty-
four million American men would have registered for service. [Hoover Institution
ArchivesPoster Collection]

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 203


PUT EM UP: Among the more pointed recruitment pitches was this blunt
1918 poster by James Montgomery Flagg. Flagg was an ardent advocate for
military recruitment who staged outdoor publicity stunts to promote the
American war effort. For this poster, Flagg sketched the design from a live
model posing on a platform on the sidewalk outside the New York Public
Library. [Hoover Institution ArchivesPoster Collection]

204 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


HOUNDED: Dogs did serve in the military, carrying out combat rescues and
serving as messengers and mascots. [Hoover Institution ArchivesPoster Collection]

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 205


AT SEA: R. F. Babcock painted this exuberant 1917 image of a sailor riding a
torpedo. Many enlistment posters emphasized a sense of adventure. The Great
War was the first conflict in which submarines and their deadly torpedoes
would take a prominent role. [Hoover Institution ArchivesPoster Collection]

206 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


INDUSTRIALIZED WARFARE: Aviation was another field of military endeavor
that literally took off during World War I. As this 1917 poster by Louis D. Fanch-
er indicates, the US fighting forces needed not only pilots but also drivers,
carpenters, photographers, and machinists, like this uniformed man wielding
a wrench. Joining the military could not only satisfy a young mans sense of
patriotism but offer, in some cases, the chance to learn valuable vocational
skills along the way. [Hoover Institution ArchivesPoster Collection]

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 207


HER TURN: For the first time in American history, women joined a war effort
in large numbers. This 1917 poster by Edward Penfield shows a woman pre-
pared to serve in the Motor Corps, a unit that transported troops. Vast numbers
of women served as nurses, office personnel, and drivers, and on the home
front as farmers, factory workers, and a host of other jobs left vacant by men.
[Hoover Institution ArchivesPoster Collection]

208 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


HEARTFELT: Norman Rockwell produced only a handful of World War I post-
ers, including this homespun appeal to buy war bonds in 1918. But during
World War II, when Rockwell painted his celebrated Four Freedoms post-
ers, the artist would be celebrated as among the masters of patriotic imagery.
[Hoover Institution ArchivesPoster Collection]

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 209


NEW LOYALTIES: This poster evokes the thrill of American liberty to appeal
to Americas many immigrants. The message in this 1917 pitch, painted by an
unknown artist, was more nuanced than it appears. Irish Catholic immigrants
opposed being aligned with colonial Britain, Americas ally; Jews recently
escaped from pogroms objected to aligning with Russia; and many German
immigrants and German-Americans did not want to see Germany crushed.
[Hoover Institution ArchivesPoster Collection]

210 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


FOOD IS AMMUNITION: Among the most important roles at the home front
was feeding the soldiers, sailors, and airmen over there. Here, Uncle Sam
leads a cadre of stalwart women in a 1917 poster by Carter Housh. Women
also were urged to can Patriotic Preserves for their families. [Hoover Institution
ArchivesPoster Collection]

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 211


HOOVER INSTITUTION ON WAR, REVOLUTION AND PEACE

Board of Overseers
Chair Cynthia Fry Gunn
Joel C. Peterson Paul G. Haaga Jr.
Arthur E. Hall
Vice Chairs Everett J. Hauck
Paul Lewis Lew Davies III W. Kurt Hauser
Mary Myers Kauppila Warner W. Henry
Sarah P. Sally Herrick
Members Heather R. Higgins
Neil R. Anderson Allan Hoover III
Barbara Barrett Margaret Hoover
John F. Barrett Preston B. Hotchkis
Robert G. Barrett Philip Hudner
Donald R. Beall Gail A. Jaquish
Peter B. Bedford Charles B. Johnson
Peter S. Bing Franklin P. Johnson Jr.
Walter E. Blessey Jr. Mark Chapin Johnson
Joanne Whittier Blokker John Jordan
William K. Blount Steve Kahng
James J. Bochnowski Richard Kovacevich
Jerome V. Jerry Bruni Carl V. Larson Jr.
James J. Carroll III Allen J. Lauer
Robert H. Castellini Howard H. Leach
Rodney A. Cooper Walter Loewenstern Jr.
James W. Davidson Hamid Mani
Steven A. Denning* Frank B. Mapel
Herbert M. Dwight James D. Marver
Jeffrey A. Farber Craig O. McCaw
Henry A. Fernandez David McDonald
Carly Fiorina Harold Terry McGraw III
James E. Forrest Burton J. McMurtry
Stephen B. Gaddis Mary G. Meeker
Samuel L. Ginn Roger S. Mertz
Michael W. Gleba Harold M. Max Messmer Jr.

212 H O O VER DIGEST Spr i n g 201 7


Jeremiah Milbank III Marc Tessier-Lavigne*


Mitchell J. Milias Thomas J. Tierney
Charles T. Munger Jr. David T. Traitel
K. Rupert Murdoch Victor S. Trione
George E. Myers Don Tykeson
Robert G. ODonnell Paul H. Wick
Robert J. Oster Richard G. Wolford
Stan Polovets Marcia R. Wythes
Jay A. Precourt *Ex officio members of the Board
George J. Records
Christopher R. Redlich Jr. Distinguished Overseers
Kathleen Cab Rogers Martin Anderson
James N. Russell Stephen D. Bechtel Jr.
Peter O. Shea Wendy H. Borcherdt
Roderick W. Shepard Peyton M. Lake
Thomas M. Siebel Robert H. Malott
George W. Siguler Shirley Cox Matteson
Boyd C. Smith Bowen H. McCoy
James W. Smith, MD
William C. Steere Jr. Overseers Emeritus
David L. Steffy Frederick L. Allen
Thomas F. Stephenson Susanne Fitger Donnelly
Stephen K. Stuart Joseph W. Donner
W. Clarke Swanson Jr. John R. Stahr
Curtis Sloane Tamkin Robert J. Swain
Robert A. Teitsworth Dody Waugh

H O O V E R D IG E ST S p ring 2017 213


The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace was established at Stanford University
The Hoover Institution gratefully acknowledges the support of
in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, a member of Stanfords pioneer graduating class of 1895 and the
its benefactors in establishing the communications and information
thirty-first president of the United States. Created as a library and repository of documents,
the Institution approaches its centennial with a dual identity: an active public policy research
dissemination program.
center and an internationally recognized library and archives.
Significant gifts for the support of the Hoover Digest
The Institutions overarching goals are to:
are acknowledged from
Understand the causes and consequences of economic, political, and social change
Analyze the effects of government actions and public policies
Bertha and John Garabedian Charitable Foundation
Use reasoned argument and intellectual rigor to generate ideas that nurture the
formation of public policy and benefit society The Jordan Vineyard and Winery

Herbert Hoovers 1959 statement to the Board of Trustees of Stanford University continues to
Joan and David Traitel
guide and define the Institutions mission in the twenty-first century: u u u

This Institution supports the Constitution of the United States, its Bill of Rights, The Hoover Institution gratefully acknowledges generous support
and its method of representative government. Both our social and economic sys- from the Founders of the Program on
tems are based on private enterprise, from which springs initiative and ingenuity. American Institutions and Economic Performance
. . . Ours is a system where the Federal Government should undertake no govern-
mental, social, or economic action, except where local government, or the people, Tad and Dianne Taube
cannot undertake it for themselves. . . . The overall mission of this Institution is,
from its records, to recall the voice of experience against the making of war, and Taube Family Foundation
by the study of these records and their publication to recall mans endeavors to
Koret Foundation
make and preserve peace, and to sustain for America the safeguards of the
American way of life. This Institution is not, and must not be, a mere library. and a Cornerstone Gift from
But with these purposes as its goal, the Institution itself must constantly and
dynamically point the road to peace, to personal freedom, and to the safeguards
Sarah Scaife Foundation
of the American system. u u u
Professional journalists are invited to visit the Hoover Institution to share
By collecting knowledge and generating ideas, the Hoover Institution seeks to improve the hu-
man condition with ideas that promote opportunity and prosperity, limit government intrusion their perspectives and engage in a dialogue with the Hoover community.
into the lives of individuals, and secure and safeguard peace for all. Leadership and significant gift support to reinvigorate and sustain the
William and Barbara Edwards Media Fellows Program
are acknowledged from

The Hoover Institution is supported by donations from individuals, foundations, corporations, and William K. Bowes Jr.
partnerships. If you are interested in supporting the research programs of the Hoover Institution or
the Hoover Library and Archives, please contact the Office of Development, telephone 650.725.6715 or William C. Edwards
fax 650.723.1952. Gifts to the Hoover Institution are tax deductible under applicable rules. The Hoover
Charles B. Johnson
Institution is part of Stanford Universitys tax-exempt status as a Section 501(c)(3) public charity.
Confirming documentation is available upon request. Tad and Cici Williamson
HOOVER DIGEST
RESEARCH + OP I NI ON ON P UBLI C P OLI CY
SP R I N G 2 01 7 N O. 2
HOOVER DIGEST
SPRING 2017 NO. 2

HOOVER DIGEST
The Economy

American Values

Politics

The Middle East

|
Russia

SPRING 2017
Intelligence and Defense

The Environment

Natural Resources

Korea

Crime

Education

In Memoriam:
Sidney D. Drell

Interview: Thomas Sowell

History and Culture

Hoover Archives

T H E H O OV E R I N S T I T U T I O N S TA N F O R D U N I V E R S I T Y