june & july 2011, No. 167, $6.00


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University in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, a member of Stanford’s pioneer graduating class of 1895 and the thirty-first president of the United States. Since 1919 the Institution has evolved from a library and repository of documents to an active public policy research center. Simultaneously, the Institution has evolved into an internationally recognized library and archives housing tens of millions of books and documents relating to political, economic, and social change. The Hoover Institution’s overarching purposes are: • To collect the requisite sources of knowledge pertaining to economic, political, and social changes in societies at home and abroad, as well as to understand their causes and consequences • To analyze the effects of government actions relating to public policy • To generate, publish, and disseminate ideas that encourage positive policy formation using reasoned arguments and intellectual rigor, converting conceptual insights into practical initiatives judged to be beneficial to society • To convey to the public, the media, lawmakers, and others an understanding of important public policy issues and to promote vigorous dialogue Ideas have consequences, and a free flow of competing ideas leads to an evolution of policy adoptions and associated consequences affecting the well-being of a free society. The Hoover Institution endeavors to be a prominent contributor of ideas having positive consequences. In the words of President Hoover: This Institution supports the Constitution of the United States, its Bill of Rights, and its method of representative government. Both our social and economic systems are based on private enterprise from which springs initiative and ingenuity. . . . The Federal Government should undertake no governmental, social or economic action, except where local government, or the people, cannot undertake it for themselves. . . . The overall mission of this Institution is . . . to recall the voice of experience against the making of war, and . . . to recall man’s endeavors to make and preserve peace, and to sustain for America the safeguards of the American way of life. . . . The Institution itself must constantly and dynamically point the road to peace, to personal freedom, and to the safeguards of the American system.

J UNE & J ULY 2011, No. 167

3 THE CONSTITUTION AND ITS CRITICS Taking another look at America’s fundamental document Thomas J. Main 19 AFGHANISTAN: AMERICA’S WAR OF PERCEPTION Boots but not facts on the ground Ann Marlowe 37 FEMINISM BY TREATY Why cedaw is still a bad idea Christina Hoff Sommers 51 COUNTERING BEIJING IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA Why the U.S. must not let China’s territorial ambitions go unopposed Dana R. Dillon

69 THE BUTCHERY OF HITLER AND STALIN James Kirchick on Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder 78 LIBERAL INTERNATIONALISM AND FREEDOM Peter Berkowitz on Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order by G. John Ikenberry 85 THE ROOTS OF THE 2008 ECONOMIC COLLAPSE David R. Henderson on What Caused the Financial Crisis? by Jeffrey Friedman, ed. 90 BRITISH, ZULUS, AND TWO LEGENDARY BATTLES Henrik Bering on Zulu Rising: The Epic Story of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift by Ian Knight

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The Constitution and Its Critics
By Thomas J. Main


n planning a freshman undergraduate curriculum with colleagues recently, the question arose as to what type of understanding we wanted to impart to our students about the Constitution. Should the goal be to achieve a critical understanding of the Constitution or, since most students take only a single course that covers the document, is a basic understanding all that is to be expected? Is there, then, some practical way to impart a critical understanding of the Constitution in just a very few classes? It turns out there is: Assign the students Sanford Levinson’s Our Undemocratic Constitution (2006), or Robert Dahl’s How Democratic is the American Constitution? (2001). Daniel Lazare’s The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution is Paralyzing Democracy (1996) could also serve this purpose. The alleged defects of the Constitution that these books point to are wideranging and can be classified into various categories. Some problems — such as slavery, the disenfranchisement of women and blacks, and the election of senators by state legislatures — are historical in nature. Dahl in particular spends a fair amount of time on these issues. Other defects can be deemed

Thomas J. Main is an associate professor at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs.
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trivial. For example, Levinson laments the age limitations that bar relative youngsters from being representatives, senators, and presidents. Another category contains problems that are current and well known; its main member is the Electoral College. But at the heart of these works are two other types of supposed constitutional defects. The first type are very real but not as widely appreciated as they should be, such as equal state representation in the Senate. They raise the question of whether there is any realistic chance of reform. The second type are supposed defects that turn out to be nothing less than the entire structure of separation of powers and checks and balances. Levinson and the other authors are all more or less critical of bicameralism, the presidential veto, and judicial review; the analysis of these institutions is what makes these books especially interesting though sometimes wrongheaded. Dahl and Lazare judge the Constitution harshly Dahl and for compromising in various ways with slavery. The Lazare judge three-fifths compromise in Article I, Section 2, the the Constitution provision for a fugitive slave law in Article IV, Section 2, and the moratorium on the banning of harshly for the slave trade until 1808 in Article V all come in compromising for strong criticism. In one sense, one can hardly in various ways disagree. Still, the authors’ critique of these compromises suffers somewhat from 20/20 hindsight. For with slavery. example, there is no mention in these works of the Constitution’s sedulous refusal to refer to slavery directly; the words “slave” and “slavery” never appear. It was partly on this basis that Frederick Douglas argued that the Constitution was an anti-slavery document. Also relevant to the question of the Founders’ thinking about slavery is Madison’s discussion of the threefifths clause in Federalist No. 54, in which he argues that slavery is based on law, not nature, thereby establishing the premise that slavery could, as a matter of law, be abolished when sectional compromise among the states was no longer necessary. Other topics are, today, debated more frequently. The Electoral College is one that seems to be an easy target for the Constitution’s critics. Among the perverse outcomes attributed to the Electoral College the presidential election of 2000 is only the most recent and prominent. While it is certainly regrettable to have a system in which the popular vote is not necessarily determinative, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. makes a good case in War and the American Presidency (2004) that the Electoral College does have certain virtues. It discourages the formation of minor parties, and prevents the election of candidates who lack broad support, since no party without a regional base can win electoral votes. The Electoral College also makes close and disputed elections more manageable since most likely the votes of only one or a few states would need to be recounted. The question is how to reform the Electoral College while retaining its good features, while overcoming the
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opposition of the small states. Schlesinger has an answer here: The “national bonus plan,” which would create a “national pool of 102 new electoral votes” that would be awarded to the winner of the popular vote. “This national bonus would balance the existing state bonus of two electoral votes already conferred by the Constitution regardless of population,” Schlesinger writes. “The reform would virtually guarantee that the popular vote winner would also be the electoral-vote winner.” By this scheme the most obvious flaw in the Constitution can be mended without fundamentally altering the document.

Congress and the separation of powers
qual representation of all states in the Senate seems to most trouble the critics of the Constitution. Levinson and the other authors make a convincing case that this malapportionment and its effects simply cannot be justified. Consider just how malapportioned the Senate is: The ratio of over-representation of the least populous state — Wyoming — to the most populous state — California — is 70 to 1. This is the extreme case. Levinson points out that the two-senator apportionment means that Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming all have only one representative in the House and therefore twice the number of senators that they do representatives. Together these states have about 4.8 million residents represented in the Senate with 14 senators, while the state of Minnesota, with approximately the same population, is represented by only two. Five other states — Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island — each have only two representatives. The upshot is that 25 percent of the Senate is elected by twelve states that contain five percent of the total U.S. population. Levinson especially makes a strong case — based considerably on a book entitled Sizing up the Senate: The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation by Frances E. Lee and Bruce I. Oppenheimer — that the malapportionment of the Senate has great impact on policy decisions. Levinson reports that Lee and Oppenheimer’s model “predicts that the smallest states will receive about $120 per capita [in overall federal spending] while the largest states receive only $82.” Or, put another way, the model shows that if states were represented on a “one person, one vote” basis they would receive $139 in federal expenditures, but a state as overrepresented as Wyoming would receive $209 while a state as underrepresented as California would receive only $132. Nor is unfair distribution of federal money the only way in which equal state representation in the Senate has an impact. Senators from small states represent a more homogeneous electorate than large state senators and thus the politics of small states are easier to manage. One small-state senator interviewed by Lee and Oppenheimer said: “There’s a commonality of interJune & July 2011 5


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est in a small state, you can focus on three or four main issues . . . you can run for the U.S. Congress saying you are going to represent the _____ industry totally and not do anything else.” Small-state senators spend less time on fund raising and more time on constituent service and on achieving legislative objectives than do large-state senators. Partly for that reason, small-state electorates are more satisfied with their senators than are the voters of large states, according to findings on senator job performance by Lee and Oppenheimer. Small-state Senate races are also less competitive, allowing for a wider margin of victory. Levinson’s book and the other books discussed here do a convincing job of refuting the traditional arguments in favor of equal representation in the Senate, despite its apparent unfairness. For example, the defense of equal representation based on the The case alleged need to protect small states from the tyranny against equal of larger states does not hold up to examination: The large states have never shown any tendency to representation tyrannize the small. Indeed the only time when the in the Senate states divided into interest groups based on size was during the debate over Senate representation at the is strong. Constitutional Convention. The argument that the Daniel Patrick Senate is supposed to reflect the federalist nature of Moynihan the country by representing the states themselves is correct as far as it goes but does not justify the gross thought so. malapportionment of the current Senate. According to Lee and Oppenheimer other countries with federalist systems and bicameral legislatures do not grant full equality to the federal units in either house. The U.S. Senate is by far the most malapportioned legislature in the modern, democratic world. The Senate could continue its function as a forum for the states’ interests if the states were represented proportionally. Thus the case against equal representation in the Senate is strong. No less of an authority than Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan thought so. Towards the end of his career, Lee and Oppenheimer tell us, Moynihan wrote, “Sometime in the next century the United States is going to have to address the question of apportionment in the Senate. Already we have seven states with two senators and one representative. The Senate is beginning to look like the pre-reform British House of Commons.” What can be done about it? This question applies to many of the recommendations made by Levinson and the other authors. It is enough to say now that the cause of reapportionment of the Senate looks almost lost, since equal state representation of the Senate is the only provision of the Constitution not susceptible to amendment under Article V, which prohibits changing the number of senators states may have. Separation of powers — defined as an executive who is chosen independently of the legislature — is not the main concern for Levinson and Dahl.
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Despite his own preference for a parliamentary system, Dahl acknowledges in How Democratic Is the American Constitution? that “For better or worse, we Americans are stuck with a presidential system,” and Levinson doesn’t specifically reject presidentialism per se. Lazare is explicitly hostile to separation of powers. As he writes in The Frozen Republic, he wants the House of Representatives to be the “whole show, which means that in addition to passing legislation, it would have the job of executing it.” Much of Levinson’s and Dahl’s criticism is directed, rather, at checks and balances, which James Q. Wilson and John J. DiIulio define as “a system of separate institutions that share powers.” That is, as Madison famously argued in Federalist No. 51, checks and balances are provisions of the Constitution that are designed to keep the branches of government truly separated. Aspects of the Constitution Equal state that are central to separation of powers include the representation of bicameral Congress, the presidential veto, and judicial review. To a lesser or greater extent — lesser in the Senate is the Levinson’s case, much greater in that of Lazare — only provision of these key features of checks and balances all come in the Constitution for criticism by these authors. One can concede the case against equal state rep- not susceptible to resentation in the Senate and still maintain that a amendment second branch to the legislature is essential to the constitutional scheme. Levinson admits as much under Article V. when, in calling for a new constitutional convention in Our Undemocratic Constitution, he writes “I can well imagine urging its members to retain the general structure of bicameralism even as they engage in the necessary reform of the specifics of our particular version of bicameralism.” Dahl is more skeptical of the merits of second legislative chambers. He notes that “Nebraska, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark seem to do quite nicely without them” and asks, “Exactly whom and whose interests is a second chamber supposed to represent?” Dahl rejects the argument that a second chamber should represent the interests of the federal units and quotes with approval Hamilton’s observation that “As states are a collection of individual men which ought we to respect most, the rights of people composing them or the artificial beings resulting from the composition. Nothing could be more preposterous than to sacrifice the former to the latter.” Lazare will have nothing to do with such lukewarm criticism and hopes that an “all powerful House” would “abolish the Senate or reduce it to a largely ceremonial body a la the House of Lords.” But perhaps no author directed such vituperation at bicameralism as Richard Rosenfeld who, in a Harper’s article entitled “What Democracy?: The Case for Abolishing the United States Senate,” pours scorn on the idea that the upper chamber is supposed to act as a check on the lower, asking us to consider the occasions when the House was right about a bill and the “unrepresentative” Senate was wrong. “If as a matter of experiment,” Rosenfeld writes, “we were to allow a roll of
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the dice, the chirp of a parakeet or a phase of the moon to veto the decisions of the House of Representatives, there would be times when the dice, the bird, or the moon would be right and the House of Representatives would be wrong . . . Would our response be to turn the dice, the bird, or the moon into a permanent part of the government? Can a case be made, then, for a more proportioned Senate? We have to go back to the original logic of checks and balances. The peculiar way the American Constitution maintains separation of powers as a functioning reality is to have the three branches overlap by giving each some power over the others, so making the branches as coequal in power as is possible. The famous passage from the Federalist No. 51 explains that “it is not possible to give each department an equal power of selfdefense in a republican government, the legislative A unicameral authority necessarily predominates.” The remedy is legislature would to divide the legislature into different branches, while “the weakness of the executive may require, completely on the other hand, that it should be fortified,” overwhelm the including giving the president the conditional power to veto acts of the legislature. And, of course, since executive and Marbury v. Madison judicial review has been the complete the power that fortified the judiciary. Thus bicameralpoliticization of ism, the presidential veto, and judicial review are the administration. bedrock foundation of checks and balances and hence of the Constitution. Here then is at least part of the argument for a bicameral Congress. A unicameral legislature would completely overwhelm the executive and complete the politicization of administration that already is a constant threat to good government. Compare the extensive list of powers that are granted to Congress in Article 1, Section 8, which is topped off with the open-ended “necessary and proper” clause. Next to these the powers of the president are already few. Certainly he has considerable power as commander in chief of the armed forces. Most of his other powers are sharply limited and subject to Senate approval. It is important to maintain the legislative and executive branches as close to coequal forces because at stake is control over the bureaucracy. Parliamentary systems center control of the bureaucracy in the hands of the prime minister and make lobbying the legislature to influence the bureaucracy very difficult. In their tome Do Institutions Matter? Weaver and Rockman write, “In parliamentary systems centralization of legislative power presumably decreases the alternatives open to interest groups and party discipline makes appeals to individual legislators an almost hopeless strategy in terms of changing policy outcomes.” If a citizen doesn’t like what the bureaucracy is doing, there is no sense, in a country with a parliament, in lobbying your mp. If the parliamentarian of your district is in the minority, he can not help you; if he is in the majority he most likely won’t want to
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help you because effective party discipline means he must back his party’s policies as they are implemented by the bureaucracy. In a separation-of-powers system citizens can and do successfully bring their complaints with the bureaucracy to the legislature. Under our Constitution, Congress has at least as much control over the bureaucracy as the president, if not more. In his authoritative volume, Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It, published in 1989, James Q. Wilson writes:
Virtually every political scientist who has studied the matter agrees that Congress possesses, in Herbert Kaufman’s words an “awesome arsenal” of weapons it can use against agencies: legislation, appropriations, hearings, investigations, personal interventions, and “friendly advice” that is ignored at an executive’s peril.

It is this behemoth of organizational and political capacity that critics and skeptics of bicameralism wish to fortify still more by unifying it and so doing away with its last internal constraint.

The presidency
o r i s t h at all. While the Constitution’s critics consider enhancing the powers of Congress with unicameralism, they would sharply limit those of the president in various ways. Lazare would demote the president to “semi-figurehead status.” Levinson is much more moderate but still asks, “Is the presidential veto a desirable part of our political system? It does, after all, exemplify just one more antimajoritarian feature of our Constitution that serves to make it ever harder to pass legislation departing from the status quo.” Levinson ends up allowing the president a “Constitution-based” veto, which he thinks is a necessary consequence of the president taking the oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.” But he objects to the president having a policy-based veto. Levinson writes that once a president has the power to veto a bill simply because he regards it as unwise or ineffective, and without any claim that the bill is unconstitutional, then “At that point the president in effect becomes a one-person third legislative chamber, able with the stroke of a pen to negate the views of at least a few hundred members of Congress.” But there are deeper reasons for Levinson’s desire to cut back on the president’s power. The first is the objection to what Dahl calls the “myth of the presidential mandate: that by winning a majority of the popular (and presumably electoral) votes the president has gained a ‘mandate’ to carry out whatever he had proposed during the campaign.” Levinson agrees. He points out that for various reasons many presidents — he names George W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton — simply did not receive the majority of the popular vote that is
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the most plausible basis for the claim of a mandate. The constitutional critics discussed here are in agreement that in general the aura of power and prestige that surrounds the American president needs to be dimmed a bit. Levinson is distressed by the practice of playing “Hail to the Chief” when the president makes a public appearance, finding the custom more suitable to a monarchy. He objects to what he sees as a presidency that combines the functions of chief of state and chief of government, which are separated in most other modern democracies. Dahl sees the role of president as “the equivalent of a monarch and prime minister rolled into one, and wonders “whether the presidency that has emerged is appropriate for a modern democratic country like ours.” One may wonder whether a very strong presiLevinson objects dency is appropriate for a modern democracy. But it is more certain that the current veto power is to what he sees indispensable if a strong presidency is desired. In as a presidency The Presidential Veto: Touchstone of the American Presidency (1983), Robert J. Spitzer argues that that combines “the application and rise of the presidential veto is the functions of symptomatic of the rise of the modern strong presidency.” One could go further and say that one of chief of state the features of a strong presidency of any type would be the full veto, that is, a veto that can be and chief of policy-based as well as constitutionally-based. government. Hamilton’s defense of the veto in Federalist No. 73 implies that the veto can be used on both constitutional and policy grounds. Hamilton argues that a prerequisite of an energetic presidency is “competent powers” granted to the president to defend himself and to increase the chances “in favor of the community” against the chance of “passing bad laws” either because of haste, mistake, or design. The concern about “bad laws” certainly sounds like a policy-based veto. But it is potentially misleading to think of the first use — to enable the executive to defend himself — as a constitutionally-based veto. Levinson argues for a constitutionally-based veto on the ground that “Presidents do, after all, take a solemn oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend the constitution,’ and, as a formal matter, it is hard to square the oath with a duty to sign what they believe to be unconstitutional legislation.” But Hamilton does not cite the oath as the source of the president’s veto power, but rather to enable the executive to “defend himself.” But against whom? The answer is Congress. In an apparent reference to the defense of separation of powers in Federalist No. 51, Hamilton explains the need to keep the legislature and executive close to coequal powers, making his well-known reference to the insufficiency of a parchment delineation of government branches, recognizing the need to furnish each department with “constitutional arms for its own defense.”
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The separation’s utility
n short, the constitutional critics once again turn out to be unenthusiastic about separation of powers. This is so even though these authors don’t say a great deal about separation of powers per se. The term itself comes up only in passing in Lazare, but the upshot of his analysis is that he is against it. He sees it as a system in which “a move by one element in any one direction would be almost immediately offset by a counter move by one or both” of the other branches “in the opposite direction.” The result, Lazare writes, “was a counter democratic system dedicated to the virtues of staying put in the face of rising popular pressure.” Dahl and Levinson also mention the term “separation of powers” only in passing, but as we have seen in substance they are at least skeptical of its value. Those, such as the present author, who regard separation of powers as an indispensable part of the American political order will find themselves skeptical of these criticisms. The case that Madison makes for the separation of powers, which appears in Federalist 51, is that it is “essential to the preservation of liberty.” However, Madison’s case rests on a definition of tyranny that is hard to accept in the 21st century, one that claims that the “accumulation of all powers” in one body “may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny,” as he expressed in Federalist No. 47, the first in a string of five papers on separation of powers. By this definition the modern United Kingdom, and most other parliamentary systems, would count as tyrannies. Whatever one thinks of the relative merits of parliamentary and separation-of-powers systems, few people today would argue that countries with parliamentary systems are by virtue of that fact tyrannies. One need not be nearly as convinced of the irrelevance of the Founders’ wisdom as these authors are in order to admit that that on this point at least Madison was wrong. What good, then, is separation of powers if not as a barrier to tyranny? The question of what difference separation of powers makes has been answered by economists Torsten Persson and Guido Tabellini in their theoretical work, Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy and in their empirical study The Economic Effects of Constitutions. These authors report that in theory, separation of power in “the presidential-congressional regime produces smaller government with less waste” as well as less redistribution and low spending on public goods. Voters are able to “discipline” politicians, who must compete more keenly with each other, a process that moderates the tax burden, according to Persson and Tabellini. The parliamentary system, the two authors tell us in Political Economics, leads us to larger government and more spending on public goods, more waste and taxation. In their other book, the authors make these same points in a rather
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different form, arguing that checks and balances hold abuses of power in check, unlike in parliamentary systems, where “the greater concentration of powers in parliamentary regimes, [makes] it . . . easier for politicians to collude with each other at the voters’ expense.” What do the data say about all this theory? Persson and Tabellini looked at two data sets. For cross-sectional analysis they used data on 85 democracies during the 1990s. To study changes over time they developed a panel set of data that tracks 60 countries over the period 1960-98. They found the data strongly support predictions regarding the size of government. “Presidentialism reduces the overall size of government by about 5% of gdp,” they write in The Economic Effects of Constitutions. “Compared to that in parliamentary regimes, government spending in presidential democracies is also much less persistent. . . . Unconditionally, presidential democracies do have lower spending than parliamentary democracies . . . as well as smaller deficits. The data analyses also show that the size of welfare programs is about 2 percent lower in presidential systems than in parliamentary ones. The American separation-of-powers system probably results in a smaller government and in particular a smaller welfare state than we would otherwise have. If one is in favor of a larger government, then separation of powers is a problem; otherwise, it is not. One can make a case for either preference. The important point is that the size of government is very much an issue when we are considering the consequences of forms of government, and it ought to have been dealt with directly in the books under review.

Democracy or republic?
e come down then to the matter of value judgments. We need to be clear about what the values are against which we are judging the Constitution. Dahl is admirably frank about what value he embraces: “I am going to suggest that we begin to view our American Constitution as nothing more or less than a set of basic institutions and practices designed to the best of our abilities for the purpose of attaining democratic values.” For Dahl the only relevant value is democracy. The titles of Lazare’s and Levinson’s books show that democracy is a very prominent value for them, too. Yet they do not explicitly indicate a single, overriding value as Dahl does, which is for the best. It is a mistake to identify any one value as all important. It is not at all clear that the values against which one might judge a constitution — why not liberty, justice, good government, etc.? — can all be boiled down to a single master value. So we ought to say that of course democracy is relevant, but what else is relevant? Why should not our preferences concerning size of government be relevant? Perhaps value judgments concerning size of governments don’t have quite the same elemental ring
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that democracy, justice, liberty, and some other terms do. But the issue we come to is why not trade off democracy against other values and what would those other values be? And is there any value function against which the Constitution would fare better than it does by the solely or very predominantly democratic value function that these authors bring to bear? An obvious candidate for such a counterbalancing value is republicanism. The point is that for the Founders republicanism was, if not the sole political value, at least a very prominent one. And of course it is well known that the Federalist Papers do not try to establish the democratic bona fides of the Constitution but rather seek to demonstrate “The conformity of the proposed Constitution to the true principles of republican government,” as expressed in Federalist No. 1 (italics in the original). Democracy, rarely coming up in the Federalist Papers, usually appears in the context of “pure democracy,” i.e., direct democracy without intermediate representation. Why not then judge the Constitution, at least partly, against the value it was designed to reflect, republicanism, rather than against democracy alone? Levinson and Dahl have immediate answers to this question. Levinson denies that republicanism is relevant today, pointing out that the Founders’ vision of “republican” order included slavery and the “rank subordination of women” and concludes, “That vision of politics is blessedly long behind us but the Constitution is not” (italics in the original). Dahl goes further and argues that, certain appearances to the contrary, the Founders did not understand themselves as applying republican rather than democratic values. He writes:
Some readers may argue that the Founding Fathers . . . intended to create a republic, not a democracy. From this premise, according to a not uncommon belief among Americans, it follows that the United States is not a democracy but a republic. Although this belief is sometimes supported on the authority of a principle architect of the Constitution, James Madison, it is for reasons I explain . . . mistaken.

One can understand why Dahl wants to make this argument. If the Founders were trying to create a republic, then republican, not democratic, values would seem to be the relevant measure. However his case is not convincing. Dahl himself acknowledges that in Federalist No. 10 Madison famously distinguishes, in the following passage, between republics and democracies:
The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of the country, over which the latter may be extended.

This seems like as clear a distinction as there possibly can be, but Dahl disagrees. He points out, correctly, that “during the eighteenth century the
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terms ‘democracy’ and ‘republic’ were used rather interchangeably in both common and philosophical usage.” But this doesn’t prove that the terms were interchangeable for Madison in the Federalist Papers. Thus, to prove so, Dahl quotes from Federalist No. 39 as follows:
We may define a republic to be…a government which derives its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, or for a limited period, or during good behavior.

Dahl then comments on this passage:
By defining a republic as a government which derives all its powers “directly or indirectly from the great body of the people,” Madison now seems to be contradicting the distinction he had drawn in Federalist No. 10.

Dahl seems to think that Madison’s use of the word “directly” refers to a situation in which the people themselves make the laws, and the word “indirectly” refers to governments in which there is representation. If this were so then Madison would indeed be contradicting the distinction he drew in Federalist No. 10, thus blurring the distinction between a republic and a democracy. But consider how Madison uses the words “directly” and “indirectly” just a few lines later in Federalist No. 39:
It is sufficient for such a government (i.e. a republic) that the persons administering it be appointed, either directly or indirectly by the people . . . The House of Representatives . . . is elected immediately by the great body of the people. The Senate . . . derives its appointment indirectly from the people. The President is indirectly derived from the choice of the people. Even the judges . . . will . . . be the choice, though a remote choice, of the people themselves. (Italics in the original.)

In this context, Madison’s use of the word “directly” has nothing to do with direct democracy. Government officials are chosen directly when they are elected immediately by the people themselves, as is the case in the House of Representatives. And the term “indirectly” does not refer to delegation of lawmaking to representatives of the people. Government officials are chosen indirectly when they are appointed by other officials who have been the immediate choice of the people, as is the case with senators, who are chosen by elected officials in the state legislature. The point is that in these passages Madison is consistent in making a distinction between democracy and republicanism. The broader point is that this father of the Constitution is perfectly clear that the Constitution is supposed to be a republic, not a democracy. Indeed, elsewhere in Federalist No. 39 Madison asks, “Could any further proof be required of the republican complexion of this system, the most decisive one might be found in its absolute prohibition of titles of nobility.”
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In short even the text Dahl chooses to site demonstrates that the Founders set out to create a republic, not a democracy. Is it, then, fair to judge a republic against democratic principles? Of course, Levinson argues that there must be something wrong with republican principles since they were compatible with slavery and the subjugation of women. But the fact that the Founders addressed some evils and not others doesn’t prove their principles were wrong. And in any case the point being made here is not that 18th-century republicanism, warts and all, should be the sole value against which the Constitution ought to be measured. A republicanism purged, in so far as possible, of its earlier flaws and balanced with other values, including 20th-century democracy, is what is being suggested here. Just what is republicanism and how does it vindicate the Constitution in a way that the value of democracy does not? The literature on republicanism and the Constitution is very extensive but we can make some basic points here. Michael J. Sandel in Democracy’s Discontent (1996), defines republicanism as follows:
Central to republican theory is the idea that liberty depends on sharing in self-government . . . It means deliberating with fellow citizens about the common good and helping to shape the destiny of the political community . . . It requires a knowledge of public affairs and also a sense of belonging, a concern for the whole, a moral bond with the community whose fate is at stake. To share in self-rule therefore requires that citizens possess, or come to acquire, certain qualities of character or civic virtues . . . The republican conception of freedom, unlike the liberal conception, requires a formative politics that cultivates in citizens the qualities of character self-government requires.

There is considerable debate on the question to what degree is the Constitution a republican document. I agree with those authors who argue that the Constitution is mostly a liberal document, firmly rooted in the Lockean tradition. But I agree with Sandel’s reading that the Constitution also has republican features. Analytically disentangling the liberal and republican features is difficult. Sometimes the same feature is capable of both a liberal and a republican justification. Consider, for example, representation, as opposed to direct democracy. None of the Constitution’s critics, or anyone else, will object to representation on democratic grounds. Democratic values accept, or perhaps require, representative government in all cases where direct democracy is impractical. But representation is capable of a republican defense too. Madison in Federalist No. 10 makes the “scheme of representation” the defining characteristic of a republic. As such, representation does more than simply make democracy possible in situations where it would otherwise be impractical. The effect of representation, Madison tells us in Federalist No. 10, “is . . . to refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens,”
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whose wisdom, patriotism and “love of justice” will discern the best interest of the country. Here we have a republican defense of one aspect of the Constitution, representation, which is not available to liberal thought, concerned as it is with democratic equality. Representation inculcates virtue, if not among the people at large, then at least among the political class. Representation makes self-government possible not simply by being a practical alternative to pure democracy, but by helping to check the dangers of faction. Of course representation is not a controversial feature for the constitutional critics. It can be defended on democratic grounds and so perhaps doesn’t need also a republican justification. But a republican defense of other features of the Constitution that are less defensible on democratic grounds can be made. All of the features of the Constitution that are designed to enhance self-government by introducing a space between the people’s immediate desires and government’s action, a space in which statesmanship and public spirit can flourish, can be defended on republican grounds. A republican case for the presidency, and for a strong presidency, can be made. Recall that Lazare would reduce the president to a figurehead. Levinson would weaken the office by curbing the president’s veto power and by making presidents subject to confidence votes of the Congress. Dahl writes that the presidency is “an office with no equivalent in other of the other established democracies,” with an “impossible mix of roles” that usually makes for disappointing presidencies. Are their concerns justified? Hamilton explains in Federalist No. 71 that while the “sense of the community should govern the conduct” of those entrusted with the management of their affairs, “it does not require an unqualified compliance to every sudden breeze of passion, or to every transient impulse which the people may receive from the arts of men, who flatter their prejudices to betray their interests.” How fair is it to say that that the authors under discussion here want to make the president servile? Lazare stands guilty as charged. Levinson and Dahl are less extreme. They to want to reform, but not debilitate, the presidency. The point here is that any such reform involves a tradeoff. A more democratic presidency might well be a less republican and less energetic presidency.

A reform conversation worth having
more or less weakened presidency is one part of the critics’ agenda. Another part of that agenda, as we saw, is a more or less strengthened legislature. These two proposals add up to an undermining of the checks and balances system. It is important to understand that the checks and balances system, while it is open to a democratic critique, is also capable of a republican defense. Separation of powers
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divides the government in several decision points. Different interests organize themselves in order to influence any of those points. In this way separation of powers divides society up into a multiplicity of interests or factions, a point made by Madison in Federalist No. 51, in which he writes that while all authority in the republic “will be derived from and dependent on the society, the society itself will be broken into so many parts, interests and classes of citizens, that the rights of individuals or of the minority will be in little danger from interested combinations of the majority.” Here we have a democratic defense of separation of powers: decentralizing government and society safeguards individual rights. Later in the same paper Madison gives separation of powers a republican defense, arguing that the in the “extended republic of the United States” with its many and varied groups, a “coalition of a majority of the How fair is whole society could seldom take place on any other it to say that principles than those of justice and the common good.” that the authors No doubt the Constitution’s critics would simply deny that our contemporary politics produces the under discussion public good often enough. All of them see our here want decentralized constitutional system as in fact resultto make the ing in hyper-fragmentation more conducive to demagoguery and bullying. No one can deny they have a president point. Levinson discusses the potentially over-fragservile? menting effect separation of powers can have in a section entitled “The Special Problem of Divided Government: How Separate Do We Want Our Institutions to Be?” Here he presents James L. Sundquist’s argument that “the Constitution fundamentally discourages the likelihood of creating an effective government.” This is especially the case, these authors argue, when the Congress and the presidency are in the hands of opposed parties. The possibility of such a disposition of power is small in a parliamentary system since the majority in the legislature almost always picks one of its own to be the executive. Thus separation of powers promotes, not deliberation on the public good, but gridlock. Or so goes the argument. However some recent literature has argued that “gridlock is a myth.” In The New Politics of Public Policy, edited by Landy and Levine, the contributors contend that the combination of a fragmented institutional framework, divided government, a highly competitive political environment, and the rights revolution encouraged policy entrepreneurs of various types to compete with each other to have the best claim to popular political ideas, leading to nonincremental changes in such areas as the environment, education, taxation, and immigration. The American constitutional system, both its written and informal parts, has developed processes that are capable of harnessing fragmentation to achieve significant change. Levinson acknowledges this possibility by acceptJune & July 2011 17

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ing that “One might well offer . . . evidence that the perceived necessity of change will triumph one way or another. If the Constitution is thought to be too inflexible in allowing formal change, then other, more informal methods will be developed.” Let’s take a look at the practical political effects of these criticisms. Dahl is clear-eyed on this matter: “My reflections lead me to a measured pessimism about the prospects for greater democratization of the American Constitution.” He sees the likelihood of reducing “inequality” in the Senate as “virtually zero.” Certainly the chances for the “democratic coup d’etat” by the House of Representatives fancifully envisioned by Lazare are small. Levinson is more realistic when he tries to convince the reader to vote for a new constitutional convention to consider the changes he proposes. But he is not convincing when he argues that such a convention could declare the ordinary method of amending the Constitution void and simply specify that a national referendum is all that is needed. Of course the authors are all aware that amending the Constitution is very difficult. After reading these books this defender of the Constitution wishes the chances for reform were not so small. The critics are convincing on the matter of Senate representation, and it is a weakness of our Constitution that apparently nothing can be done about the matter. And some other suggestions in these books that do not undermine the separation-of-powers system — for example the suggestions that naturalized citizens be eligible for the presidency and that Supreme Court justices serve a fixed eighteen-year term — deserve serious attention. Dahl writes of “the possibility . . . of a gradually expanding discussion that begins in scholarly circles, moves outward to the media and intellectuals more generally and after some years begins to engage a wider public.” The discussion is worth having for the greater understanding it can generate.


Policy Review

Afghanistan: America’s War of Perception
By Ann Marlowe


n the days before he was forced into retirement by scandal, General Stanley McChrystal was fond of referring to the Afghan theater he commanded as a “war of perceptions.” In February he spoke to the Washington Post:

“This is all a war of perceptions,” McChrystal said on the eve of the Marja offensive. “This is all in the minds of the participants. Part of what we’ve had to do is convince ourselves and our Afghan partners that we can do this.”

McChrystal’s phrase — which, we will see, is a superficial interpretation of counterinsurgency theory — aligns regrettably well with the zeitgeist, particularly with what I will call “perspectival culture.” Counterinsurgency theory, or coin, represents the extension to warfare of the same validation of the “eye of the beholder” that has characterized the arts and even aspects of the social sciences in the 20th century. This shift marks a departure from and constitutes a critique of an older, classical
Ann Marlowe, a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute, blogs for World Affairs. Her biography of David Galula is available as a free download at http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/.
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understanding of what it means to win or lose a battle or a war — indeed, about the nature of reality itself as externally given and immutable fact, as opposed to a social construction built of competing and shared “perceptions.” Although the critique has ample merit, as we shall see, it also poses underappreciated difficulties of its own. I will argue that perspectival culture is so dominant today that it has led to a nearly uncritical embrace of “perception” as the heart of coin theory. The essential problem of coin theory, at least in its crude form (such as General McChrystal voices it), is its nonfalsifiability, the impossibility of phrasing it in ways which can be tested and disproved. When scientists evaluate a new medicine, they want to see if it is better than a placebo at treating a disease. They test it The dominance accordingly, and the scientific community agrees that medications that don’t work aren’t brought to of perspectival market. But coin advocates insist that perception, culture has led in this case the perception of the local population in a conflict area, is ultimately determinative of the to a nearly success or failure of U.S. military operations. If bribuncritical ing the villagers and spending billions on dubious embrace of training programs fails to produce security, coin “perception” as advocates answer that we need more troops and money. They will not admit the possibility that the the heart of medicine does not work. And nonfalsifiable is a very dangerous thing for a military theory to be. COIN theory. I have argued elsewhere that our strategy in Afghanistan is far from sound, indeed far from a strategy; that we are neglecting the political factors and following a “strategy of tactics” that will inexorably lead to an unnecessary, self-inflicted defeat. I have also argued that the American civilian and military leadership has been unfortunately reluctant to test our strategy by available metrics, insisting instead that we have not had enough time, or enough troops, to make it work. The understanding of counterinsurgency in the “war of perceptions” is a far cry from the unglamorous, common-sense measures that are recommended in the classic works by David Galula, Roger Trinquier, and Sir Robert Thompson that underlie the Counterinsurgency Field Manual supervised by General David Petraeus, “fm 3–24.” Or consider this excerpt from General Eisenhower’s 1945 manual, “Combating the Guerilla”:
The most effective means of defeating guerrilla activity is to cut them off physically and morally from the local inhabitants. While stern measures, such as curfew, prohibition of assembly, limitations of movement, heavy fines, forced labor, and the taking of hostages, may be necessary in the face of a hostile population, these measure must be applied so as to induce the local inhabitants to work with the occupying forces. A means
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Afghanistan: America’s War of Perception
of bringing home to the inhabitants the desirability of cooperating with the forces of occupation against the guerrillas is the imposition of restrictions on movement and assembly and instituting search operations with the area affected.

Counterinsurgency operations, like any other military activity, should be judged on their merits. And counterinsurgency has worked in some times and places, though not under conditions acceptable to the current American population (Algeria, the Huk rebellion in the Philippines, the Sri Lankan struggle against the ltte). Even during our own Civil War and Reconstruction, federal commanders treated American citizens with harsh measures that would never have passed muster in Iraq in 2006. In 1868, an Army commander took Ku Klux Klan sympathizers hostage to prevent an assault on Augusta, Georgia. In 1863, Northern troops forcibly resettled relatives of the insurgents in Missouri who were attacking towns in Kansas. There are ways of measuring whether counterinsurgency operations are working, besides the elusive perceptions of the population. Economists look at the price of transportation, travel data, crop prices, and other variables to try to devise objective measures of effectiveness. They also look at simple measures of violence like ied attacks and assassinations. The problem is that many in the top leadership don’t seem to be interested in what these metrics tell them. The coarse “war of perceptions” gloss on contemporary coin theory encourages a lack of interest in metrics and an emphasis on rhetoric instead. The metrics of the Afghan war continue to deteriorate under the banner of coin, and yet Petraeus, who replaced McChrystal as commander in Afghanistan, has recently assured the American public that our strategy is basically sound. While Petraeus is a very capable general who understands the difficulty and subtleties of counterinsurgency as McChrystal did not, he too appears to be trapped in a conceptual dead end. Understanding the intellectual history and context of coin helps to turn it from an article of faith to the mere doctrine it is, so that it can be criticized, improved, amended, or abandoned as needed. We are, after all, in Afghanistan to win, not to serve a theory.

Where did coin come from?


here were counterinsurgencies long before there was counterinsurgency theory. There have been counterinsurgencies since the Greek city-states fought among themselves. No technology was necessary to do what Galula and Trinquier recommended — but why was counterinsurgency not isolated as a body of thought until after World War II?

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The term “counterinsurgency” is itself a post-World War II creation. The distinguished Vietnam historian Andrew Birtle thinks it dates to around 1960. He told me:
I believe the word “counterinsurgency” is an American invention — and possibly a U.S. Army invention. It seems to have first surfaced in 1960. The earliest uses of the term I have been able to identify come in two documents written at roughly the same time thousands of miles apart. The first was a study prepared by the Special Warfare Division of the Army’s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations on 1 December 1960 titled “Counter Insurgency Operations, A Handbook for the Suppression of Communist Guerrillas/Terrorist Operations.” The second was a plan developed by the U.S. Military Advisory Group in Vietnam in 1 9 6 0 and released in early 1 9 6 1 that was titled “Counterinsurgency Plan for South Viet-Nam.” The term slowly gained currency in 1961 and was fully accepted by early 1962. For example, the first use of the term in an Army Field Manual appeared in “fm 335,” Psychological Operations, written at Fort Bragg in 1961 and published in January 1962. The following month the Department of Defense added the word “counterinsurgency” to its list of officially defined terms in the 1 February 1962 edition of jcs Pub 1, “Dictionary of United States Military Terms for Joint Usage.

There is one obvious component of the answer. The 19th-century experience of colonial wars introduced the paradigm of Western soldiers fighting technologically inferior local soldiers — and having trouble winning. No one would have bothered to spend time on the techniques of colonial policing or pacification in the 15th century because those problems didn’t exist. Secondly, the procedures of coin require a certain kind of army that didn’t exist until the late-19th or early-20th century in Western Europe: a relatively educated army. It is not enough that general officers understand a doctrine like counterinsurgency; enlisted men and women must understand it too, since they are the ones who have daily contact with the population. General literacy among enlisted men was necessary. Theodore Ropp noted that the American Civil War was the first “in which really large numbers of literate men fought as common soldiers.” In England, widespread literacy came a little later. Edward Spiers wrote that “The illiteracy rate within the army declined from 90 percent in 1871 to almost zero by the 1890s, though fewer than 40 percent of soldiers achieved (or perhaps troubled to achieve) more than the lowest standard of education required.” French soldiers were likely literate earlier, though handicapped by the persistence of regional dialects well into the 19th century. Thus, counterinsurgency theory had to wait until Europe emerged from Third World conditions, and until it found itself bogged down in “small wars” in its colonies. In the last decades of the 19th century, it was French commanders who first developed a counterinsurgency strategy, which they
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used in French campaigns in Africa and Asia. This stream of thought remained nearly unknown in the Anglosphere, however, and English and American military thinkers did not begin to theorize consciously about counterinsurgency until they encountered the revolutionary warfare theory of Mao. coin as a conscious discipline came into being as military thinkers like Galula aimed to counter Mao, who wrote and lectured on guerrilla warfare even as his armies fought Japanese invaders in the late 1930s. And the first flourishing of coin in the late 1950s and early 1960s was a response to the then-feared communist threat, whether in Vietnam, Malaya, Greece, the Philippines, or Algeria. Mao in the 1930s and 1940s wrote very originally on war: “There are those who say ‘I am a farmer’ or ‘I am a student’ . . . . This is incorrect. There is no profound difference between the farmer and the soldier . . . . When you take your arms in hand, you become soldiers.” Mao rethought almost every conventional notion in warfare, including what a battlefield victory looks like. The Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld writes in The Transformation of War:
From the Austrians at Ulm in 1805, all the way down to the Egyptian Third Army at Suez in 1972, the story of modern strategy is always the same. Large armed formations are regarded as having been defeated — and, equally important, regard themselves as having been defeated — as soon as they are surrounded and their lines of communication are severed.

Yet when Chiang Kai-shek’s armies surrounded Mao’s forces in 1934, Mao didn’t surrender — he retreated on the epochal “Long March” of 5,965 miles. And he went on to philosophize about his dilemma. In On Protracted War, a very influential series of lectures Mao delivered in the spring of 1938 in which he strategized resistance against the Japanese occupation of China, he considers the ideas of “inside” and “outside,” of what it means to be surrounded, and the relativity of the concept: From one perspective, the revolutionary forces are “strategically encircled by the enemy,” in another, “if one considers all the guerrilla base areas together,” the revolutionaries “surround a great many enemy forces.” For Mao, even victory is a matter of having the right point of view — the right perception — and his views were heard deep within the American foreign policy establishment in Vietnam. Edward L. Katzenbach, at the time an American deputy assistant secretary of defense, wrote in 1 9 6 2 that “Although Mao never states it quite this way . . . his fundamental belief is that only those who will admit defeat can be defeated . . . . Or, conversely, when the populace admits defeat, the forces in the field might just as well surrender or withdraw.” Similarly, Marine Lieutenant General Victor Krulak, who ran one of the few successful counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam with his Combined Action Platoons, echoed Mao in saying of the war, “It has no front lines. The battlefield is in the minds of sixteen or seventeen million people.”
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The positioning of counterinsurgency as a “war of perceptions” gained currency after World War II. As early as 1950, the New York Times Magazine published an article on the French counterinsurgency in Vietnam titled, “A War not for Land, but for People.” This reflected the beginnings of French coin theory, which itself had roots in the extensive literature of French colonial warfare. Even political leaders in Vietnam began to use the language of perceptions. In 1953, Arnaud de Borchrave wrote in Newsweek of Diem’s predecessor as premier, Premier Tam, who ruled under the Emperor: “The important thing, says Premier Tam . . . is to convince the village populations that we and not the Vietminh are fighting for their independence.” In retrospect, it’s clear that the important thing was to change the situation of the village population, not their minds. Yet President Diem sounded the same note as Tam Widespread in a statement from 1958: “Democracy is not a group of texts and laws to be read and applied. It is American popularization of essentially a state of mind, a way of living with the utmost respect toward every human being, ourselves COIN theory as well as our neighbors.” Reading this, it’s easier to understand how a brilbegan in 1 9 5 8 liant and well-intentioned man ended up hated by with a novel by his people and condemned by his allies. If you think democracy is “a state of mind,” it’s easier to believe two former you can win by a sort of advertising campaign, military men. ignoring the realities of corruption and the abrogation of the rule of law. Widespread American popularization of coin theory began in 1958 with a best-selling novel by two former military men, The Ugly American, which sold over five million copies (the U.S. population was 179 million at the time). Coauthors William Lederer and Eugene Burdick — respectively a Navy Captain and a Lieutenant Commander who had consulted at the Naval War College — have a character, Major “Tex” Wolcheck, reflect on how to stop the series of defeats he sees being inflicted on the French Legionnaires around Hanoi in 1954: “When I was in Korea, I picked up a book by Mao Tse-tung. I hate what he stands for, but he does have a kind of genius.” In the epilogue, Lederer and Burdick point out that the essentials of Mao’s doctrine were available in English in 1934, and that “The battles which led to Dien Bien Phu were classic examples of the Mao pattern. And yet our military missions advised, and the French went down to defeat, without having studied Mao’s writings.” The Ugly American was still on the best-seller lists during the 1960 presidential campaign, and its most influential fan was John F. Kennedy. While a senator, Kennedy and five other opinion leaders bought an advertisement in the New York Times saying that they had sent copies of The Ugly American to every senator. Kennedy’s advocacy of coin had been formed by visits to Indochina dur24 Policy Review

Afghanistan: America’s War of Perception
ing the Viet Minh struggle against the French. On January 18, 1961, two days before taking office, Kennedy set up the new Special Group, Counterinsurgency (sgci), headed by General Maxwell Taylor, designed as a way to jumpstart the military transformation to counterinsurgency. Unfortunately, it contained no real coin experts. The contrast with Kennedy’s predecessor could not be greater. In his State of the Union address on January 7, 1954, President Eisenhower had stated, “I saw no sense in wasting manpower in costly small wars.” According to Rusk’s right-hand man for Vietnam, Roger Hilsman, Kennedy was reading the special issue of the Marine Corps Gazette on guerrilla warfare the day before his State of the Union address, January 10, 1962. This included Griffith’s 1941 translation of Mao. Six days later, Kennedy sent a letter to the ediKennedy’s tors recommending the volume to “every Marine”; advocacy of it was later bound with the book. studying Hilsman — a West Point graduate who had fought in Burma and worked for the oss in the counterinsurgency Second World War — was the author of a paper in had a huge this special issue. He conducted a study for the president on how to respond to the Viet Cong outside influence on the the maneuver war. Hilsman notes in his memoir that spread of the circa 1961–62, Kennedy’s national security advisor, Walt Rostow, and others were trying to figure out doctrine. how to win guerrilla wars. “Other pioneering work was going on in the Pentagon, in cia, in the Agency for International Development, and particularly at Fort Bragg,” Hilsman wrote. Kennedy’s advocacy of studying counterinsurgency had a huge influence on the spread of the doctrine. In his brilliant 1982 Duke master’s thesis, then-Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Bowman has documented the near-frenzy of coin activity in the Kennedy administration. Bowman, who died in 2009, a retired colonel, would later teach at West Point and head the military history department at the Army War College. Bowman notes that Kennedy made it clear that promotions to general officer would depend on counterinsurgency expertise. So it is no surprise that Secretary of the Army Elvis Stahr Jr. wrote on February 8, 1962, that “guerrilla warfare is actually being fought in many parts of the world today, and the ultimate fate of freedom could well rest in the hands of the so-called irregular troops involved.” Kennedy tried hard to remold the American military. He doubled the size of the Special Forces from 2,000 to nearly 5,000. The “Howze Board Report” of January 28, 1962, advocated the “creation of an experimental unit to develop tactical doctrine for counterinsurgency.” The Board also predicted that special warfare might become typical of future conflicts. Helicopters were added to conventional Army brigades for the mobility demanded by the new type of warfare. As Andrew Birtle chronicles, the Army began a six-week counterinsurgency course at Fort Bragg on January
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26, 1961, which was aimed at the groups the Army thought would use it most, foreign armies and their American advisors. The first Special Warfare Staff Officer Course trained 527 officers in 1961, its first year, and 1,212 in 1962. A “Counterinsurgency Course” for colonels and generals was offered in May 1962. The Army Infantry School offered a voluntary 40hour course on Vietnam by 1963. And the United States Military Academy was not far behind, with Mao, Vo Nguyen Giap, and Truong Chinh required reading for cadets starting in 1962. Predictably, a pile of publications by ambitious officers followed these signposts. Bowman tallies them:
The Army published a book, Readings in Counter-Guerilla Operations (Special Warfare School, April, 1961) while Army devoted its March 1962 issue to coin. A year later, the Special Operations Research Office, under contract to the Army, published “A Counterinsurgency Bibliography” which contained 965 different sources concerned with counterinsurgency.

Even after Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, coin retained momentum. In October 1964, Army Chief of Staff Harold K. Johnson viewed coin as “the major mission in the foreseeable future.” Robert Taber’s Castro-sympathizing 1965 analysis of Mao, The War of the Flea, was so interesting to the American military that they bought up the whole first printing. And by 1965, the Army Infantry School “was operating two mock South Vietnamese villages” to train troops. But the top-down imposition of coin on the American Army during Kennedy’s administration was not sufficient to make a lasting impact. Ever since the Vietnam war ended, impressive scholars have tried to make sense of the American defeat, arguing that we did not use enough counterinsurgency theory, or that we used too much, or that the role of coin had ultimately little influence on the outcome of the war. Without trying to adjudicate these learned disputes, I would simply add that the cultural context of coin must also be factored into the eventual explanation. Its cultural moment had not quite come. Today, it clearly has.

The Iraq Surge narrative and ‘fm 3–24’
he counterinsurgency field manual prepared in 2006 under the supervision of General Petraeus begins by presenting counterinsurgency as a painfully complex combination of concrete tasks, a difficult slog which, it is careful to note, may be properly executed and still fail. It recommends common-sense measures long used by counterinsurgents, such as taking a census of the local population and issuing id cards — which have still not been done in Afghanistan. The emphasis is on concrete, modest measures that are unglamorous but necessary.
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The word “perceptions,” beloved of McChrystal, occurs just three times in the 30 pages of Chapter 1. But there is much discussion of the need to get the population to accept their government as legitimate. In words that speak directly to today’s dilemmas in Afghanistan, the authors warn against what some (including me) have charged we have done in Afghanistan, following a “strategy of tactics” while allowing the Afghan government to alienate the population: “Tactical actions thus must be linked not only to strategic and operational military objectives but also to the host nation’s essential political goals. Without those connections, lives and resources may be wasted for no real gain.” Re-reading the manual in the light of deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan, one cannot help being struck by the contrast between the sober, even dour tone of Pro-Surge Chapter 1, with its emphasis on the host nation govbecame ernment’s legitimacy, and the buoyantly optimistic assimilated to tone of many official military statements about the Afghan war. We have all but completely failed to pro-COIN and identify, control, or police the population of Afghanistan, never mind controlling the 3,436 to pro-Republican miles of border that allow insurgents refuge in or pro-Bush or neighboring countries. Changing “perceptions” pro-neocon seems beside the point in the face of such basic failures. Conrad Crane — who was the lead author of ideology. “fm 3–24” and the main author of Chapter 1 (“though gen Petraeus had a lot of input,” as Crane told me in an e-mail) is a serious scholar, as well as a jaundiced observer of counterinsurgencies and a retired colonel. But Crane’s ideas have been coarsened in popularization, and hardened into a dogma. The political polarization surrounding the Iraq war is partially to blame. Pro-Surge became assimilated to pro-coin and to pro-Republican or proBush or pro-neocon ideology, though in fact one could reasonably be antiSurge yet pro-neocon or pro-Surge and anti-Republican, and either take coin or leave it. But at its bare bones, relatively unpartisan form, the conventional narrative behind the current adulation of coin takes the Iraq war as its lodestone. This narrative assumes that the Surge of American troops in 2006–07 brought security to most of Iraq and enabled Sunnis to turn against al Qaeda in Iraq and back the Shia-led government instead. There were enough troops, living in close enough proximity to the people, to settle things down. And we spent enough money — $3 billion by June 30, 2009, according to the inspector general for Iraqi reconstruction — on “armed social work” to give unemployed men an alternative to planting ieds. This is a hotly contested narrative in military intellectual circles. Another colonel, Craig A. Collier, a former squadron commander in Iraq, recently wrote that “the amount of money spent on economic development is a
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seductive and misleading statistic. It has become to Iraq what the body count was to Vietnam.” He continued:
Our economic development programs did not play as significant a role as credited in the success that we witnessed in Iraq in 2008. Lethal operations were primarily responsible for the real economic development we observed. The Iraqis were usually capable of finding their own financing for business development once security was established.

Colonel Collier goes on to argue that there was little interest in the military establishment in measuring exactly what we accomplished in Iraq with our vast expenditures. Still another colonel who served in Iraq, Gian Gentile, argues that the situation there turned around because we bribed the sheiks, because Iraqis in Baghdad had more or less created sectarian apartheid for themselves, and because they tired of waking up to see bodies with drill wounds in them every morning. Another American colonel, Joseph Felter, has coauthored some nber papers which suggest that unemployment has little to do with terrorism. Finally, while violence levels in Iraq are much improved from 2005–07, they are still such as would raise alarm almost anywhere else in the world, with bombings regularly killing tens of civilians at a time and the government paralyzed and dysfunctional for long periods following elections. There are still big problems with providing basic services like electricity and water in Iraq. It is not a “success” that many governments would be proud of. It is worth noting that “fm 3–24” places much less emphasis on spending money on development projects than our execution in the field has. Perhaps because the money was easy to obtain, it was spent. But relatively little has been done in terms of strengthening local governance in Afghanistan, a subject that “fm 3–24” suggests is much more important.

Ignoring the metrics of the Afghan war
spent only a few weeks in Iraq, and those in 2003. But I’ve spent a lot of time in Afghanistan regularly since 2002, and I have witnessed an extraordinarily impressive effort by our military in southern and eastern Afghanistan in building roads, schools, irrigation facilities, and the like. During the same period, of course, security has deteriorated in the very provinces where we have been — if you take a cynical view — bribing the locals most assiduously. And also during the same period, we have added more and more troops to “provide security” to the Afghan people. Unfortunately, we appear to be winning neither the McChrystalian “war of perceptions” nor any other kind. In 2010, Afghan insurgents planted 14,661 ieds, a 62 percent increase over 2009’s 7,228, which in turn represented a 120 percent increase over 2008’s figure. In many respects this is
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a fairer measure of insurgent activity than the more commonly used numbers of foreign troops’ deaths from ieds, because that needs to be adjusted for the vastly increased number of foreign troops in Afghanistan. Most of these victims are exactly those high-capacity, courageous Afghans who are providing an example of good local governance. Our exit timing depends on the Afghan National Security Forces stepping up to the plate, yet they are universally viewed as unready. The problem is not lack of funding. The $11.6 billion appropriated for training the ana and anp next year is not far off Israel’s 2008 defense budget. Put another way, for $11.6 billion, we could hire 116,000 men at $100,000 apiece, a number which would surely attract some well-trained American soldiers. Looking at a developing country case, Sri Lanka built an army of 350,000 that decisively routed the Perhaps we ltte (Tamil Tigers) at a cost of $1.74 billion. should just hire Perhaps we should just hire the Sri Lankan army to fight the Afghan insurgency and be done with it. the Sri Lankan Even judged by the metrics that partisans themarmy to fight selves choose to measure progress, the situation in the Afghan Afghanistan has been steadily deteriorating. A recent report from the mainstream think tank csis shows insurgency and statistically that the Afghan population has grown be done with it. less and less willing to cooperate with counterinsurgents — even as we have supposedly refined our coin tactics and increased the number of troops. The report tracks the percentage of undetonated ieds reported to Coalition forces by locals from January 2004 to the present. Since May 2008 the percentage has hovered just under 5 percent whereas in 2005–06 — when the official story now has it that we were not doing effective coin — it was often over more than 10 percent. In May of last year, it was reduced to 1 to 2 percent. It’s the coin advocates themselves who consider the percentage of ieds turned in a useful measure. The Center for a New American Security, the think tank at the epicenter of coin, issued a report in June 2009 written by Andrew M. Exum, Nathaniel C. Fick, Ahmed A. Humayun, and David J. Kilcullen, which stated that
a rise in the proportion of ieds being found and defused (especially when discovered thanks to tips from the local population) indicates that locals have a good working relationship with local military units — a sign of progress. Conversely, a drop in the proportion of ieds found and cleared indicates the population is not passing on information to security forces, and is standing by while they are attacked — a sign of deteriorating security.

Such metrics have to be looked at carefully. In some areas, Afghans have first planted and then reported the planting of ieds in order to pocket reward money or give the appearance of cooperation. Yet in practice, it
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seems that more troops doing more coin are correlated with less local cooperation and less security. coin is like a medicine that shows declining effectiveness the longer you take it and the higher doses you take it in. There are some very smart people in the Pentagon, and in the field, whose response to the continued deterioration in a key metric of coin effectiveness has been to claim that they do not yet have enough troops in the field. Such irrationality suggests our leadership are wearing blinders, and one of the reasons is that they are, along with the rest of us, influenced by a hundred years of perspectival culture.

The emergence of perspectival culture
ounterinsurgency theory could not have been formulated — or accepted — before a sort of Copernican inversion in looking at warfare was possible, and this in turn depended on a wider cultural openness to the idea that reality is determined by the beholder. There is nothing so unlikely as the adoption by the world’s best military forces of a doctrine, counterinsurgency, based on a quintessentially unmilitary principle: that each man must judge reality for himself. This flies in the face of the foundational ideas of a chain of command and the obeying of orders. To validate the individual’s viewpoint takes the military to a slippery slope. Yet powerful forces in our society have pushed it in this direction. Following Nietzsche, its most famous and eloquent exponent, I will call this cultural faith “perspectivism” or “perspectival culture.” Perspectival culture takes reality to lie mainly in the eye of the beholder rather than being fixed, immutable, and objectively given. As articulated by Nietzsche in the 1870s and 1880s, truth is perspectival; the truth of Christianity — to pick one of Nietzsche’s favorite themes — is suited to what he called the guilt-ridden “bad conscience.” Ontology serves cultural, indeed political purposes. Science is not value-neutral: as Nietzsche wrote, “The human intellect cannot avoid seeing itself in its own perspectives, and only in these.” The seeds of these ideas go back to the Renaissance — along with the re-discovery of perspective in drawing and of the rotation of the earth around the sun. In philosophy, Montaigne was probably the first major exponent of valuing the individual’s unique standpoint.1 Perspectival ideas were at the heart of Renaissance thought, culture and — most decisively — science. The 17th century mathematician and philosopher Leibniz, inventor of formal logic and co-inventor of calculus, argued that everyone except God knows reality only from his own particular viewpoint. He believed, as Babette Babich and Robert Sonne Cohen wrote in
1. By “perspectivalism” I don’t mean “relativism.” Philosophers generally agree that Nietzsche was not a relativist; he clearly thought certain perspectives and moralities — plural intentional — were better than others. He thought some moralities are more useful, some nobler, some more productive of high culture.



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“Nietzsche and the Sciences,” that “The world is not known as it is in itself, it is known in terms of how it presents itself to a knower in a certain position.” Perspectivist ideas were only possible in the West when the stranglehold of the church on thought was loosened. Thus it is tempting to evoke the rise of Protestantism with its view of “each man a priest” and its emphasis on the individual’s perspective determining truth. But I would not push that link much further, for Montaigne, a Catholic, was as much a perspectivalist as Nietzsche or his legatee, Emerson. The ideas were in the air throughout the 16th century and after. The historian Peter Burke has noted that linguistic hybridization grew in 16th- and 17th-century Europe with increased migration, the decline of Latin, and the rise of large international mercenary armies. Exposure to new languages and new words There is nothing would reinforce perspectivist ideas in those so so unlikely as the inclined, even if it was not likely enough to trigger adoption by the them. The adaptation of military innovations from one part of Europe to another would also weaken world’s best fixed ideas. Perspectival thought grew in the military of a Enlightenment, as the philosophes looked to nature rather than religion for answers and the divine right doctrine based of kings disappeared with Louis XVIII’s head. In 1798, just a couple of years before Clausewitz on an unmilitary entered the Prussian Military Academy, a new spirit principle. rang out loud and clear from the then-famous joint satirical verse collection of Goethe and Schiller, Xenien: “In the end the created truth is the only truth we can see.” Social and economic changes in early-19th-century Europe accelerated the transition to perspectivalism. The replacement of the traditional patronage system in music and literature by the sale of works to the bourgeois public led to an increase in the creator’s autonomy. Classical music shifted from “occasional” works composed for courts or churches to works composed for the concert hall — with a concomitant increase in personal expressivity and the emergence of the musician-composer as celebrity. As music emerged from craftsmanship to art, it became natural for composers to take greater risks in their personal vision and for an avant-garde public to follow them. Having a distinctive personal vision became key to artistic achievement. Early-to-mid-19th-century European Romantic artists in many fields pushed at the boundaries of acceptable content and form — the grim realism of Courbet’s “A Burial at Ornans” in the 1850 Salon, and Turner’s preImpressionist dissolution of form in light come to mind. Ralph Waldo Emerson was the great popularizer of the perspectivalism that would later saturate 20th-century culture and prepare the way for the triumph of counterinsurgency theory. He was both the legatee of Montaigne and an influence on Nietzsche. Writing in Representative Men in 1850, Emerson said of Montaigne’s Essays, “It seemed to me as if I had myself written the book, in
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some former life . . . ” Emerson articulated a distinctly American perspectivalism — homely and unpretentious — in his 1 8 4 1 “Essay on SelfReliance,” exhorting readers, “Trust thyself.” “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind,” he wrote, advising, “Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it.” We know that Nietzsche was reading “Self-Reliance” in the summer of 1881. And the original edition of The Gay Science in 1882 begins with a quotation from Emerson, who died that year. The spread of Nietzsche’s influence is a barometer of the spread of perspectival thinking. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Nietzsche became a pop-cultural figure by the early 20th century, though as much for his perceived antiChristian and elitist ideas as for his subtler perspecNietzsche was tivism. Here too, cause and effect are hard to sepaso influential rate. Even modern dance was influenced by Nietzscheanism, with a proto-commune at Ascona that he was espousing the philosopher’s ideas, and Isadora blamed by some Duncan waxing ecstatic on her first reading of British writers Nietzsche in 1902 Berlin. More ominously, Rudolf Laban staged a dance with a text from Thus Spoke for inspiring Zarathustra at the Berlin Olympics. World War I. Nietzsche was so influential that he was blamed by some British writers for inspiring World War I with his predictions of an apocalyptic and purifying war. Though this ignores Nietzsche’s complexities, it is true that the man who killed the Archduke Ferdinand, Gavrilo Princip, was given to reading Nietzsche’s poem “Ecce Homo” aloud. And when war came, German soldiers were issued 150,000 pocket editions of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Of course, the enthusiastic reception Nietzsche’s ideas received almost at once shows a society already attuned to a “revaluation of all values,” as much as it shows the force of his thought. In 1898, Tolstoy wrote a thunderously conservative essay titled “What is Art?” (condemning even the anodyne pleasures of the ballet), but to ask the question is to acknowledge the frightening probability that it was just what you wanted it to be. In the last decades of the 19th century and first of the 20th, artists abandoned representation in their paintings, and composers like Wagner, Bartok, Stravinsky, and Schoenberg pushed at the boundaries of tonality in organizing their works. But one artist, Marcel Duchamp, took perspectivism a step beyond Nietzsche. Duchamp created a great scandal by exhibiting the Cubist painting “Nude Descending a Staircase” in the 1913 Armory Show in New York — at a time when German soldiers were presumably lapping up Zarathustra. But when Duchamp exhibited a urinal as a work of art in 1917, he brought
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the audience into the party. As he wrote 40 years later, “The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.” Duchamp and his notion of the audience’s creation of or complicity in the work of art would be a perennial influence on the Western avant-garde, gaining a new generation of admirers after World War II. In 1963, the first Marcel Duchamp retrospective opened at the Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon Museum). Many artists attended, including some, like Andy Warhol, Edward Ruscha, and Robert Irwin, who were revolutionizing the art of the day. Once a significant number of people agreed that reality lay in the eye of the beholder, indeed in their own eyes, the later developments of conceptual art and Abstract Expressionism and happenings and performance art made sense. Some of these works announced little besides their provisionality, that they were art only if we agreed that they were. Perhaps the most conceptually elegant was John Cage’s 1962 piano piece “4’33”,” which consists solely of silence. At the same time, scientists were making discoveries that supported the perspectivist schema, at least in the way the general public understood them. Einstein’s work on relativity opened up vertiginous vistas of “God playing dice with the world” in popular culture. Physicists discovered that matter was made up of invisible particles whirling around other invisible particles! The world as seen by the naked eye was, truly, the illusion. And like art, 20th-century science was turning its gaze on its own foundations. In 1962, just as coin enjoyed its first American vogue, Thomas Kuhn published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. He argued that not all ideas are thinkable at all times and that scientists operating in one “paradigm” will evaluate experimental results differently than they would operating in another. “Paradigm shifts,” according to Kuhn, occur when a new theory explains anomalies better than the old one. While Kuhn wasn’t a relativist, his insistence on the cultural context of science shares an emphasis on the eye of the beholder with population-centric counterinsurgency theory. It also suggests an obvious way to evaluate coin: Does it explain the data?

Putting the genie back in the bottle?


r i t i n g a b o u t du c h a m p in a recent issue of the New Yorker, critic Peter Schjeldahl summarizes the trouble with perspectivalism: “The traffic of the ready-made is one-way; a urinal that becomes art — Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ (1917), . . . can’t escape to be a urinal again.” That is, it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle. With perspectival culture a powerful force in today’s military, the “war of perceptions” is easy to

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understand. Once you start looking at a war as a matter of swaying the attitudes of the local population or capturing the so-called “human terrain” — a term only the military could have invented — it’s difficult to stop. It’s harder to understand that you might have the population behind you and still lose, because they’re more intimidated by the insurgents. The cure may lie partly in a re-immersion in the actual classics of coin (as opposed to potted summaries). Reading carefully in Galula or Trinquier, or even “fm 3–24,” it is hard to get the impression that coin is a matter of changing perceptions, like running an ad campaign. Books like Trinquier’s Modern Warfare and Galula’s Counterinsurgency Warfare and Pacification in Algeria discuss minute and tiresome details, from building latrines to triangulating the location of insurgents to tactics for night ambushes. They all insist on the difficulty of Success in counterinsurgency operations, and the dim outlook Afghanistan and for counterinsurgents. If we are to succeed in Afghanistan and future future “small “small wars,” we must move past the glossy “war of perceptions” to focus on the mundane tasks recwars” means moving past the ommended by the classic theorists and almost systematically ignored by us in Afghanistan: closing the glossy “war of borders, counting and identifying the people, and controlling the movements of the population in hosperceptions.” tile areas. Another part of moving beyond perspectivalism is returning to the cold, dry realities of success and failure — those dreaded metrics that many in our military are now so reluctant to credit. While a wholly quantitative approach is as bad as a wholly subjective one, it may be better to err on the quantitative, analytic side in correcting for our recent giddy embrace of the subjective. Here too, past contributions offer fresh guidance. One work that never received its due at the time is a book from 1970, Rebellion and Authority, by Charles Wolf, Jr. and the late Nathan Leites. The authors say that counterinsurgents ought to focus on reducing the supply of insurgency — which they prefer to call “rebellion” — rather than the demand. (Wolf is an economist by training; Leites was a Soviet expert.) In other words, cut the inputs that allow rebels to act, rather than focusing on changing the preferences of the population. The authors point out, correctly, that often rebellions can take hold even if the rebel cause is unpopular. The population makes a calculation of the costs and benefits of supporting one side or another and decides accordingly. Making the government lovable will not necessarily impact that calculus. But reducing the supply of insurgents may, because the less effective the insurgents are at enforcing their threats, the less the population will obey them. It’s worth quoting one of Wolf’s earlier publications, Insurgency and
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Counterinsurgency: Old Myths and New Realities, for its bracing common sense and disdain for mystification:
The primary consideration should be whether the proposed measure is likely to increase the cost and difficulties of insurgent operations and help to disrupt the insurgent organization rather than whether it wins popular loyalty and support, or whether it contributes to a more productive, efficient or equitable use of resources . . . Insurgency may be recognized not as an inscrutable and unmanageable force grounded in the mystique of a popular mass movement, but as a coherent operating system that needs to be understood structurally and functionally if it is to be effectively countered.

Given the need for two successive administrations, and the Pentagon, to sell the Afghan war to the American people, it is perhaps inevitable that the drudge work would be lost sight of, and the need for careful planning subsumed by buoyant rhetoric. But the unwillingness of both the Bush and Obama administrations to rigorously assess and critique coin tactics cannot be explained away so easily. Our future wars are likely to be either asymmetric or stupid, in the words of Crane. If we treat war as a question of perspective, like art, we will end up doing to ourselves what no army in the world can do: inflicting defeat.

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The The most serious danger the United States now faces, says serious danger United States now faces, says William William Damon, is not that of a foreign enemy but t t our t that for foreign enemy tha that country’s future may e country’s future may end up in the hands of a citize y citizenry enr incapable of sustaining the liberty that has been America’s ncapable sustainin ng liberty that Am ica’s mer precious legacy. In Failing Liberty most precious legacy. In Failing Liberty 101, he argues that we argues that we are to prepare today’s young to re esponsible are failing to prepare today’s young people to be responsible Ameri ican citizens—to the detriment of their life prospects and iti t detriment f th i life pro ospect ts d American citizens—to th d t i liberty e United States those of liberty in the United States of the future. He identi es future. He identi problems—the de eclines a the problems—the declines in civic purpose and patriotism, purpose patriotism, crises cynicism self-absorption, ignorance, m, erence crises of faith, cynicism, self-absorption, ignorance, indi erence to common good d—and shows that to the common good—and shows that our disregard of civic disregard moral virtue n educational priority having tangible g and moral virtue as an educational priority is having a tangible attitudes, understanding, behavio or large e ect on the attitudes, understanding, and behavior of large ect portions youth portions of the youth in our country today. country today. Damon explains why, unless we begin to pay attent explains why, tion we begin to pay attention and as stewards priceless herita , age meet our challenge as stewards of a priceless heritage, our nation future prospects w nation and the future prospects of all individuals dwelling dwelling here years to come e er m here in years to come will su er, moving away from liberty er, moving away from liberty toward despotism—and this movement will be both m—and e and toward despotism movement inevitable and astonishingly quick. astonis shingly quick.

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Feminism by Treaty
By Christina Hoff Sommers

n november 18, 2010, a surprisingly large and boisterous crowd gathered in a U.S. Senate chamber to witness new hearings on a decades-old United Nations treaty. Guards had to caution the excited attendees to keep their voices down. Senator Richard Durbin, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, requested that another room be opened to accommodate the large gathering of feminist leaders, human-rights activists, lawyers, lobbyists, and journalists. “Women have been waiting for 30 years,” said Durbin in his opening statement. “The United States should ratify this treaty without further delay.” The treaty in question — the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (cedaw) — commits signatory nations not only to eliminating discrimination but also to ensuring women’s “full development and advancement” in all areas of public and private life. The
Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Her books include Who Stole Feminism and The War Against Boys. She is coauthor of One Nation Under Therapy and editor of The Science on Women and Science. An early version of this paper appeared in the book New Threats to Freedom.
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document was adopted by the General Assembly and submitted to un member states in 1979. Since then, nearly every nation has ratified what many now call the “Women’s Bill of Rights” or the “Women’s Magna Carta.” The only holdouts are three Islamic countries (Iran, Sudan, and Somalia), a few Pacific islands — and the United States. “Look at the company we are keeping in refusing to ratify this treaty,” said a dismayed Senator Durbin. “We can do better.” In fact, America’s failure to ratify the Women’s Treaty has not been for lack of powerful support. President Jimmy Carter submitted it to the Senate for ratification in 1980, and many influential legislators of both parties have favored it over the years. In 1993, 68 senators, including Republicans Orrin Hatch, John McCain, and Strom Thurmond, urged President Bill Clinton to secure ratification. Some ascribe Nine years later, President George W. Bush’s State the U.S. failure Department told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that it was “generally desirable” and to ratify the “should be ratified.” Its supporters have included treaty to one not only political leaders and women’s groups but also broad-based organizations such as the aarp, man: the late afl-cio, American Bar Association, and League of Senator Jesse Women Voters. Even the Audubon Society has Helms of North endorsed the Women’s Treaty. Some ascribe the U.S. failure to ratify the treaty Carolina. to one man: the late Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina. To Helms, cedaw was a terrible treaty “negotiated by radical feminists with the intent of enshrining their radical anti-family agenda into international law.” As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1995 to 2001, Helms refused even to hold hearings on the matter. In 1999, ten women from the House of Representatives marched into his committee room, disrupted a hearing, and demanded that he schedule cedaw hearings. Pounding his gavel, Chairman Helms reprimanded the placard-carrying women for their breach of decorum. “Please be a lady,” he said to the leader, Representative Lynn Woolsey from California. He then instructed the guards to eject the group from the room. (Among the shaken protesters was future Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.) Representative Woolsey would later tell the press that Helms “held cedaw hostage so that women across the globe continued to be victimized and brutalized.” But Senator Helms never wavered. At a 2002 Senate hearing, he described the treaty as harmful to women as well as a direct threat to American sovereignty. “It will never see the light of day on my watch.” Helms’s watch is now long over, and treaty supporters can see daylight. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are strong supporters. So are key Senators John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Barbara Boxer, chairwoman of the subcommittee with
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jurisdiction over it. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is an enthusiast, as is Harold Koh, former dean of the Yale Law School and now the State Department’s chief legal adviser. An influential advocate of “transnational jurisprudence,” Koh invokes the sad irony that “more than half a century after Eleanor Roosevelt pioneered the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, her country still has not ratified . . . cedaw.” The Obama State Department has notified the Senate that ratification of cedaw is its top priority among the many human-rights treaties the United States is considering. The prospects remained good even after the November 2010 elections. It is the Democratic Senate, not the newly Republican House, which provides advice and consent to treaties. In any event, the treaty has enjoyed Republican support in the past and will again. U.S. ratification So U.S. ratification of the treaty, followed by an of the treaty, inspirational address by President Obama in some followed by a international forum, may seem inevitable. Except that it is not. For many years, Senator Helms’s speech from the adamant opposition to it made support an easy gespresident, may ture for many senators who may have shared his qualms but not his temerity. Now that ratification seem inevitable. has become a live prospect, there will be a real Except that debate. The senators are going to have to confront the treaty itself — what it says and what signing it it is not. would mean. It is a complicated and problematic document, and there are many good reasons why the Senate has resisted ratification for more than 30 years. The question the Senate has to consider is not, as Chairman Durbin suggested at the November hearing, “Should the United States stand with oppressed women of the world?” Of course we should, and we do. No nation on earth gives more to foreign aid or has more philanthropies and religious groups dedicated to women’s causes. Voters across the political divide welcome innovative programs to help women struggling with repressive governments and barbaric traditions such as child marriage, dowry burnings, genital cutting, and honor killings. What the senators have to answer are two more basic questions. One, is cedaw a necessary and worthy addition to an already vibrant national effort to help the world’s women? Two, for better or worse, how will ratification affect American life? Supporters such as Durbin, Biden, Boxer, and Koh are emphatic about how the Women’s Treaty would affect American rights and liberties — not at all. “cedaw wouldn’t change U.S. law in any way,” said Durbin at the hearing. In a 2002 op-ed, Biden and Boxer reminded readers of the horrors of honor killings in Pakistan, bride burnings in India, and female genital mutilation in sub-Saharan Africa. By signing the treaty, they said, the United States would demonstrate its commitment to helping women secure basic rights and increase its leverage with oppressive nations. And, contrary to
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critics’ fears, “ratification . . . would not impose a single new requirement in our laws — because our Constitution and gender discrimination laws already comply with the treaty requirements.” On this view, cedaw is a foreign-policy initiative — in Senator Boxer’s words, “a diplomatic tool for human rights.” cedaw opponents see the treaty’s consequences in exactly opposite terms. They say American ratification would do little to help women in oppressive societies. Signatories like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and North Korea have done almost nothing to reform their laws, policies, and practices, even when admonished by the un’s cedaw-monitoring committee. By contrast, the United States takes its international treaty obligations seriously: If we ratified cedaw, we would consider ourselves morally committed to abide by its rules. But many of those rules are antithetical to American values, and any goodThe American faith effort to incorporate them into American law Bar Association would conflict with our traditions of individual freedom. and Amnesty A case in point is the central cedaw provision International that requires “all appropriate measures to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct” of citiinsist that it is zens in order to eliminate all practices based on wrong to suggest “stereotyped roles for men and women.” Under that CEDAW c e daw , private behavior such as how couples would supersede divide household and childcare chores is subject to government regulation under the tutelage of the un American law. oversight committee. In written testimony for the November 2010 hearing, John Fonte, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, described how cedaw could subvert our democracy “by taking political issues out of the hands of elected officials and transforming them into ‘universal human rights’ to be determined by judges on the basis of ‘evolving norms of international law.’” The pro-treaty side has heard complaints like this many times and has drawn up detailed refutations. The American Bar Association and Amnesty International, for example, insist that critics are wrong to suggest that cedaw would supersede American law or traditions. On the contrary, they say the United States could ratify it subject to caveats. If some provision in the treaty conflicts with our laws, we can simply exempt ourselves from it. Furthermore, the treaty would not be “self-executing” — once ratified, it would not become the law of the land until our legislators took action to make it law. The aba and Amnesty International are correct that a nation can ratify a treaty with caveats called reservations, understandings, and declarations, or ruds. The Clinton administration proposed nine such ruds, including one that the United States “does not accept any obligation under the Convention to regulate private conduct except as mandated by the Constitution and U.S. law” and another that we do not accept an obligation “to put women in all
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combat positions.” To protect American autonomy still further, the administration added, “No new laws would be created as a result of cedaw.” As the Amnesty International fact sheet says, “Such language upholds U.S. sovereignty and grants no enforcement authority to the United Nations.” So, it seems, the critics are wrong: With the help of ruds, we can show our support for women’s rights abroad while protecting American sovereignty and liberties at home. But here is the problem. Legal experts disagree about the power of ruds to insulate a nation from provisions of a treaty it has committed itself to honor. The legitimacy and role of reservations to international human-rights treaties is one of the most contested areas of international law. cedaw itself states, “A reservation incompatible with the object and purpose of the present Convention shall not be Legal experts permitted.” disagree about It is not even clear that the aba, Amnesty, and the power of other pro-treaty activists believe that ruds offer genuine protection — at least not when they are RUDs to insulate talking among themselves. When the National a nation from Organization for Women met with several humanrights groups in 2009 to plan the current campaign provisions of a to get the treaty passed, it expressed concern that ruds would make it difficult to enforce treaty pro- treaty to which it visions in the United States. But as now somewhat has committed. indiscreetly reported on its website on August 31, 2009, “Representatives from groups who have advocated for ratification over the years suggest that ruds have little meaning and could potentially be removed from the treaty at some point.” Even more telling, the un Division on the Advancement of Women, the agency that monitors the treaty’s implementation, is emphatic that the document is obligatory, not hortatory: “Countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention are legally bound to put its provisions into practice.” Moreover, many American legislators — and judges — will sincerely feel we are obligated to bring our laws in line with a treaty we have agreed to honor. But, according to the aba and Amnesty, as well as Durbin, Biden, Boxer, and Koh, these arcane questions of international law are irrelevant. Because American laws are already in full or near-full compliance with the treaty, it will have few if any domestic consequences. This argument brings us to the most striking feature of the discussion: the treaty’s most engaged and knowledgeable proponents — activist women’s groups — disagree with the forexport-only argument emphasized by public officials and human-rights groups like Amnesty. now, the Feminist Majority Foundation, and their sister organizations actually agree with conservative critics that cedaw would have a dramatic impact on American laws and practices. “U.S. women have endured denials of their basic human rights long enough — please do not make them wait any longer,” wrote now President
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Terry O’Neil in a March 11, 2010, letter to President Obama urging immediate ratification. Feminist activists see the treaty as an opportunity for American women to secure rights the Constitution has not delivered. The Feminist Majority Foundation has released a video explaining how American women can use cedaw to bring about a “sea change” in our laws. It shows Congress debating the 2009 “stimulus bill” and explains how cedaw can lead to “gender-fair budgets.” State-mandated quotas, the narrator explains, have led to gender-balanced legislatures in South Africa, Iraq, and Rwanda. Images of beaming women in the Rwandan parliament are juxtaposed with the sorry picture of the U.S. Senate, with only 16 women members out of 100. The video also juxtaposes images of young Afghan women hideously disfigured from acid attacks with those of corpses of American women Current brutally murdered by intimate partners. “Clearly we American law need cedaw,” says the narrator. Janet Benshoof, president of the Global Justice Center, speaks for promises equality many in the feminist establishment when she says, of opportunity — “If cedaw were fully implemented in the United but not equality States it would revolutionize our rights . . . American women need legal tools to fight patriof outcome. archy.” CEDAW could The most detailed assessment of its potential effects on American law appears in a 50-page bookchange that. let, Human Rights for All: CEDAW, first published in 2001 by a consortium of more than 100 legal and philanthropic associations who support it. The publication includes seventeen pages that spell out how the treaty would transform the American legal system. For example, current American law promises equality of opportunity — but not equality of outcome. “How cedaw would help?” ask the authors of Human Rights for All. Their answer is in bold, capitalized, red letters: “cedaw Calls Upon State Parties to Adopt Temporary Special Measures Aimed at Accelerating De Facto Equality Between Men and Women.” Without using the words “quotas” or “comparable worth,” the authors make it clear that cedaw could give new life to these policies. “U.S. laws,” they explain, “do not create rights for women that are specific to their day-today reality.” The new treaty would correct that. If this guide is to be trusted, treaty ratification will mean that women’s groups can litigate all areas of American life that fail to evince statistical parity between the sexes. What is certain is that, after 67 consensus-seeking senators vote to ratify the treaty and turn to other legislative business, the feminist groups and lawyers who have forthrightly declared their ambitions would be in possession of a powerful new tool. “cedaw . . . sea change” is the refrain in a pro-ratification rap song put out by the Feminist Majority Foundation. To understand just what this sea change might entail, let us turn to the treaty’s little-known intellectual provenance.
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Back to the future
he circumstances of cedaw’s creation are submerged in the current ratification debates but essential to making sense of those debates. The Women’s Treaty is a product of a unique and unsettled moment in the American women’s movement — a moment when a radical version of feminism was briefly ascendant but was soon to be eclipsed by its very success. In the early 1 9 7 0 s, the u n General Assembly declared 1 9 7 5 “International Women’s Year” and authorized the first World Conference on Women. Thousands converged in Mexico City for both the official un conference and a parallel conference, called the Tribune, held a few miles away. The un conference was formal, orderly, and decorous. The Tribune, by contrast, was a raucous affair, attracting some 4,000 feminist activists, writers, and intellectuals. The 1,500 American participants included such feminist luminaries of that era as Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Jane Fonda, and Bella Abzug. Foreign Affairs gave a detailed account of some of the many quarrels that broke out between Western feminists and women’s activists from the developing world.1 The Westerners believed that “all women are subject to colonization” and spoke of themselves as members of an inferior “caste.” The Third World women were taken aback by facile comparisons between the sometimes-uncomfortable circumstances of privileged middle-class Americans and those of the impoverished, often essentially enslaved women in their own countries. And they were alarmed by the bitter gender politics. When members of the official U.S. delegation from the un conference came across town to visit the Tribune, the male delegates were harangued, shouted down, and driven out. One hapless fellow who identified himself as a population expert was unable to complete his remarks because the American feminists demanded to know whether he had had a vasectomy. When he said, “Yes,” there was thunderous applause. At a later Tribune event, all men were banished from the room so the women could engage in an impromptu “consciousness-raising” session. “The Third World women were outraged,” said Foreign Affairs. “Female chauvinism is the last thing we want,” complained an Indian journalist. The women from the developing countries also accused the Westerners of “denigrating woman’s maternal role” and weakening marriage. Soon women from the Soviet Union joined the fray and made it clear that they did not share the Western feminist goal of eliminating gender roles. In fact, they sought the “liberation of their femininity.” Most of them had been forced into the workplace by the
1. Jennifer Whitaker, “Women of the World: Report from Mexico City,” Foreign Affairs 54:1 (October 1975).


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Communist system — yet they continued to do all the work at home. “They now want pleasure and beauty; they want to dress up and be courted, perhaps to emphasize motherhood and domestic life.” The disputes over femininity, family, and motherhood that erupted at the 1975 conferences were nothing new to the women’s movement. Since the movement’s beginning in the early 18th century, reformers have held radically different views on gender roles. “Egalitarian feminists” stressed the essential sameness of the sexes and sought to liberate women from conventional social roles. By contrast, “social feminists” were not opposed to gender distinctions. Indeed, they embraced them, looking for ways to give wives and mothers greater power, respect, and influence in the public sphere, as well as more protection from abuse and exploitation in their domestic roles. Social feminism Social feminism has always enjoyed a distinct has always advantage over its more egalitarian sister: great majorities of women like it. It clearly had a strong enjoyed a following among some of the non-Western and distinct Soviet women at the Mexico conference in 1975. Indeed, an updated version of it informs the lives of advantage most American women today. They want the same over its more rights and opportunities as men — but few make the egalitarian sister: same choices as men. To give one example, according to a 2009 Pew survey, “A strong majority of all great majorities working mothers (62%) say they would prefer to of women work part time . . . An overwhelming majority [of working fathers] (79%) say they prefer full-time like it. work. Only one-in-five say they would choose parttime work.” The rowdy egalitarian feminists at the 1975 Tribune included the leaders of the then-raging feminist revolution in the United States — the “Second Wave of Feminism” as it is now called, which had begun in 1963 with the publication of Betty Friedan’s canonical The Feminine Mystique. Feminists like Friedan and Gloria Steinem urged American women to live “not at the mercy of the world, but as builder and designer of that world.” Women listened, and by the 1980s, they were entering the workplace in record numbers; filling the colleges, law schools, and medical schools; starting businesses; joining sports teams; and generally enjoying freedoms and opportunities far beyond those of any women in history. But then the women’s movement suffered a serious setback. After scoring a series of landmark legal victories in the 1960s and early 1970s, they failed to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. In 1975 the era seemed to be on a fast track to ratification. But as the political scientist Jane Mansbridge explains in her meticulous study, Why We Lost the ERA, Americans became disenchanted when they began to understand the worldview of its feminist sponsors: radical sexual egalitarianism.
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The egalitarian feminists who dreamed of a fully androgynous society are found today in university women’s studies programs, law schools, and not least in a network of activist organizations that sprang into being in those heady days. They are relatively small in number, but they wield disproportionate influence. But without question, the defeat of the era was a serious setback from which they never really recovered. What these activists now see in cedaw is a second chance in another venue. It is not for nothing that the Women’s Treaty is sometimes called a “global era.” So, then, what does the treaty actually say? It requires signatory countries to remove all barriers that prevent women from achieving full equality with men in all spheres of life — law, politics, education, employment, marriage, and “family planning.” It defines discrimination against women to be “any distinction, exclusion or It is clear that restriction made on the basis of sex.” Some of its more specific provisions are highly laudable, such as CEDAW’s its requirement that signatories “suppress all forms drafters are of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution.” Others are, from an American standpoint, determined to use unexceptional, such as the requirement that signatoits provisions to ries “accord to women equality with men before the law.” But its central provision, Article 5(a), is pure eradicate gender 1970s egalitarian feminism, and is the key to understereotypes. standing what the Women’s Treaty envisages. It reads, in part: “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures . . . [t]o modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women” (emphasis added). The philosophy of Article 5(a) pervades the entire document. Throughout it, the drafters are determined to use its provisions to eradicate gender stereotypes, especially those that associate women with caregiving and motherhood. The treaty instructs signatories “to ensure that family education includes a proper understanding of maternity as a social function and the recognition of the common responsibility of men and women in the upbringing and development of their children.” It also calls for the “elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women at all levels and in all forms of education . . . in particular, by the revision of textbooks and school programmes.” States are advised to provide paid maternity leave as well as “the necessary supporting social services to enable parents to combine family obligations with work responsibilities . . . in particular through promoting the establishment and development of a network of child-care facilities.” And the battle against stereotypes requires special efforts to guarantee equal results in the workplace and in government. “Temporary special meaJune & July 2011 45

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sures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women,” reads Article 4, “shall not be considered discrimination.” The un’s cedaw Committee interprets this as mandating “positive action, preferential treatment or quota systems to advance women’s integration into education, the economy, politics and employment.” Signatory governments are also required to “take all appropriate measures” to ensure women’s “right to equal remuneration . . . in respect of work of equal value.” This means “comparable worth” policies, according to the cedaw Committee, which effectively require the establishment of government agencies to determine the proper level of salary for differing kinds of work. “Comparable worth” was a concept much bandied-about in United States in the 1980s until its backers found it impossible to deny they were advocating a radical governmental intrusion into the workings of the private marketplace of an unprecedented kind. The treaty brings it back. And it would not just be American intermediaries that would be charged with figuring out how the U.S. is handling these matters.

The Committee
ndeed, if the United States were to ratify cedaw, we would immediately be subject to an evaluation of how well we comply with the treaty’s provisions. Such an evaluation is to be carried out by the cedaw Committee — 23 experts of “high moral standing and competence in the field covered by the Convention.” They are elected by signatory nations including Cuba, Burma, and Nigeria. Countries under review submit detailed reports outlining their progress toward fulfilling the treaty’s requirements. Their representatives then meet with the Committee every three years, when they are questioned, challenged, sometimes rebuked, and provided with official recommendations for improvement. Today any country, no matter how free and democratic, is out of compliance with the treaty as long as significant gender roles are still discernible in its customs or institutions — both public and private. If, for example, more women than men routinely take care of children, the Committee recommends ways to turn things around, usually with government-imposed quotas and “awareness raising” campaigns. The un publishes detailed accounts of exchanges between the Committee and countries under review. It is hard to read them and not conclude that the United States would be in for a rough time. Consider what happened during Iceland’s formal cedaw review in July 2008. Iceland has one of the most extensive gender-equity bureaucracies in the world; there are equity ministers, equity councils, equity advisors, and a Complaints Committee on Gender Equality whose rulings are binding. More than 80 percent of Icelandic women are in the labor force, and parents enjoy paid maternity and paternity leave, including one month of pre46 Policy Review


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birth leave. Iceland is ranked first in the World Economic Forum’s 2009 Global Gender Gap Report. It would appear to be a paradigm of egalitarianism. Yet it falls short of the cedaw Committee standards. The Committee praised Iceland for its “strides” toward gender parity, but several members found it remiss in its efforts to stamp out sexism. Hanna Beate Schopp-Schilling, an expert from Germany, was concerned that for all the government’s gender and equity committees, the Parliament itself had not formed a committee on gender equity. The expert from Algeria wanted to know why so few women were full professors at the University of Iceland. Magalys Arocha Dominguez, a gender authority from Cuba, was unhappy to find that many Icelandic women held parttime jobs and spent much more time than men taking care of children. She was also displeased by surToday any vey findings that Iceland’s women were allowing family commitments to shape their career choices. country is out of She demanded to know, “What government mea- compliance with sures have been put in place to change these patthe treaty as long terns of behavior?” as significant Treaty proponents such as Senator Durbin, Vice President Biden, Senator Boxer, and Harold Koh gender roles are praise its work with women in the developing still discernible. world. But in practice the c e daw Committee devotes disproportionate energies to monitoring democracies and urging them to realize egalitarian ideals in all spheres of life. It recently advised Spain to organize a national awareness-raising campaign against gender roles in the family. Finland was urged “to promote equal sharing of domestic and family tasks between women and men.” Slovakia was instructed to “fully sensitize men to their equal participation in family tasks and responsibilities.” Liechtenstein was closely questioned about a “Father’s Day project” and reminded of the need to “dismantle gender stereotypes.” The Committee sounds far more reasonable when reviewing countries where women are truly oppressed, like Nigeria, Niger, Mauritania, or Yemen. Such nations often send delegates who present their homelands as models of gender equity. “Mauritanian women and men were equal before the law in all spheres,” reported one. The Yemeni delegation spoke of legal reforms, new programs, and strategies for women’s empowerment. To its credit, the Committee respectfully but firmly pressed these delegates on matters such as child marriage, polygamy, legal wife beating, stoning, female genital mutilation, and high maternal mortality rates. Members often give the delegations concrete ideas on how to improve women’s lives. In its 2007 review, Niger was advised to offer families micro-credits for each daughter enrolled in school and to try to limit female genital mutilation by finding alternative employment for the older women who perform the procedure for a living. The same Committee that sounded so absurd when it rebuked
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Liechtenstein for recognizing Father’s Day was impressive in its exchanges with Yemen about how to address female illiteracy. The efficacy of these reviews of repressive countries is a matter of dispute. Most experts believe they do some good. They point out that these countries are getting a strong sense of where they stand in relation to a set of universal standards. Furthermore, the Committee issues a final report after each review, which it believes helps local women’s advocacy groups foment change. But critics note that many of the world’s most repressive nations show little or no intention of abiding by the treaty. Yemen ratified cedaw in 1984 without reservations. It has undergone six Committee reviews. Yet in 2010, for the fifth year in a row, it came in last in the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap Report. Fifty-seven percent of females are illiterate, compared to 21 percent of males. Girls as young as eight years old can be legally married, and its penal code specifies that any man who kills a female relative suspected of adultery should not be prosecuted for murder. In the 2008 review, exasperated Committee members repeatedly asked the Yemeni delegation if its government understood the treaty or took any of its provisions seriously. Is the treaty likely to improve the circumstances of women in places like Yemen (and for that matter Cuba)? Would U.S. ratification make it more effective? Are there better ways for America to advance women’s rights than through a un treaty? There is lots of room for argument on these points, and there are many disagreements among feminists and human-rights advocates. As for its effects on American life, however, there is no doubt: They would be momentous.

f the united states ratifies cedaw there will be a three-ring circus each time we come up for review. American laws, customs, and private behavior will be evaluated by 23 un gender ministers to see whether they comply with a feminist ideal that is 30 years out of date. The Committee will pounce on all facets of American life that fail to achieve full gender integration. That many American mothers stay home with children or work part-time will be at the top of their list of “discriminatory practices.” Committee members like Cuba’s Magalys Arocha Dominguez will want to know what our government has done to change our patterns of behavior. The American delegation will then enter a “consultative dialogue” with the Committee to develop appropriate remedies. They will get plenty of help from organizations like now, the Feminist Majority, and the American Association of University Women. Groups of which Americans know little or nothing will take cedaw as a legal mandate to implement their worldview. If ratified, the treaty would give these organizations a license to sue, reeducate, and resocialize their fellow citizens.
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Gender quotas, comparable-worth pay policies, state-subsidized daycare, and other initiatives that have failed again and again to win democratic support would instantly be transformed into universal human rights. And the women’s groups would have new allies: un officials and international ngos would join them in cultivating American pastures under the legal and moral authority of the Women’s Treaty. At the November 2010 Senate hearing, one pro-cedaw expert witness openly praised the Treaty for its impact at home. According to Marcia Greenberger, copresident of the National Women’s Law Center, “No one would disagree that there is still progress to be made in the Unites States. . . . We like every other country in the world have our own challenges to confront.” She is right, of course, but what she needs to explain is why an international treaty and a body of If the United foreign experts is better at meeting the moral chalStates ratifies lenges of equity than our own democratic institutions. CEDAW there For groups like now, the Feminist Majority, and will be a threethe National Women’s Law Center, life under cedaw would be exhilarating and gratifying. For ring circus each the majority of Americans who do not share their time we come up egalitarian agenda, it could be oppressive. for review. But let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that the Obama administration and the U.S. Senate do ratify the Women’s Treaty subject to various “understandings” that effectively protect our institutions from the ministrations of the Committee and deny the feminist network its “tool” to dismantle the American patriarchy. Should the United States be lending its authority to a human-rights instrument that treats the conventions of femininity as demeaning to women? Few women anywhere want to see gender roles obliterated. The late Elizabeth Warnock Fernea was an expert on feminist movements in the contemporary Muslim world. In her travels through Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Turkey, and Iraq, she met great numbers of advocates working to improve the status of women — and who were proud of their roles as mother, wife, and caregiver. Fernea called it “family feminism,” but it was classic social feminism — the style of women’s liberation that hard-line egalitarians disdain but that great majorities of women find ennobling and empowering. The women of America are no exception. Harold Koh suggests that by abjuring “the Women’s Rights Treaty” Americans are betraying the legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt — the leader of the group that created the celebrated Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. But Koh is confused about Roosevelt’s legacy. She was a lifelong, dyed-in-the-wool social feminist, energetically committed to women’s rights as well as to the protection of their social roles and callings. She saw men and women as equal, but decidedly different. No woman, she said, should feel “humiliated” if she gives priority to home and family. “This was our
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first field of activity,” she said, “and it will always remain our most important one.” Gender experts at now or the nwlc will say that Roosevelt was captive to the prejudices of her time. Maybe so. But it is more likely that this deeply humane and large-souled woman, whose vision helped create the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, also had a clear vision of where women’s emancipation might lead. Social feminism appears to be the universal feminism of women. By endorsing the treaty, the United States Senate would be canonizing a school of egalitarian feminism most women reject, one that is as likely to impede as to advance women’s progress in societies where their current circumstances are most degraded. cedaw contains many worthy and indeed noble declarations, but its key provisions are 1970s feminism preserved in diplomatic amber. Releasing those aged provisions in 21st-century America would be strange at best, and at worst they could seriously compromise the privacy, well-being, and basic freedoms of Americans. At the November hearing, Senator Durbin called on his colleagues to “ratify this treaty without further delay.” For the past 31 years, our legislators have wisely delayed ratification. Today’s Senate should continue to follow that example.


Policy Review

Countering Beijing in the South China Sea
By Dana R. Dillon

he most dangerous source of instability in Asia is a rising China seeking to reassert itself, and the place China is most likely to risk a military conflict is the South China Sea. In the second decade of the 21st century, the seldom-calm waters of the South China Sea are frothing from a combination of competing naval exercises and superheated rhetoric. Many pundits, politicians, and admirals see the South China Sea as a place of future competition between powers. Speculation about impending frictions started at the July 2010 asean Regional Forum (arf) when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered an overdue statement on American interests in the South China Sea. Clinton averred that the United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation in the South China Sea; that the U.S. supported a collaborative
Dana R. Dillon is the author of The China Challenge (2007) and a frequent commentator on Asian and national security issues.
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process in resolving the territorial disputes there; and that the U.S. supports the 2002 asean-China declaration on the conduct of parties in the South China Sea. Despite Clinton’s statement of support for China’s own agreements with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China’s Foreign Ministry responded negatively, claiming that the secretary’s statement was “virtually an attack on China.” China’s military stated that it was opposed to “internationalization” of the six-country dispute and commenced a new and unusually large naval exercise in South China Sea the very next week. This gathering maritime confrontation is instigated by China’s assertions of sovereignty over the entire South China Sea and its stated intention to enforce that sovereignty. But the source of China’s Consistent with hubris is its view of its historic mandate to rule all under heaven. Extending China’s borders a thouits Sinocentric sand miles across the South China Sea is only one ideology, Beijing policy manifestation of this vision of a new Chinese world order. Consistent with its Sinocentric ideolobelieves its gy, Beijing believes its authority over its smaller authority over its neighbors should include determining their foreign smaller neighbors policy. After Clinton challenged China’s claim to the entire South China Sea, China’s foreign minister should include reportedly glared at a Singaporean diplomat and determining their pronounced, “China is a big country and other countries are small countries, and that’s just a foreign policy. fact.”1 More telling of China’s opinion of its position among nations, the following Monday China’s Foreign Ministry posted a statement that “China’s view represented the interests of ‘fellow Asians.’” The competing territorial claims in the South China Sea are decades old, but today the Chinese government is full of a sense of accomplishment and the People’s Liberation Army is flush with the fastest growing military budget in the world. Clinton’s statement may have been inspired by earlier statements by Clinton’s Chinese counterpart, the state councilor responsible for foreign affairs, Dai Bingguo, directly to Clinton herself and repeated to several U.S. aides that the enforcement of China’s sovereignty over the South China Sea was a “core interest” on par with Taiwan and Tibet. While Dai Bingguo reportedly has desisted from using the term “core interest” to describe China’s maritime sovereignty, personalities in China’s military still do. In January 2011 the web site of the People’s Daily, the official organ of the Chinese Communist party, surveyed readers about whether the South China Sea is China’s “core interest”; 97 percent of nearly 4,300 respondents said yes.2
1. John Pomfret, “U.S. takes a tougher tone with China,” Washington Post (July 30, 2010). .

2. Edward Wong, “China Hedges Over Whether South China Sea is a ‘Core Interest’ Worth War,” New York Times (March 30, 2011).


Policy Review

Countering Beijing in the South China Sea
Short of a shooting war, protecting freedom of navigation in one of the globe’s busiest sea lanes requires an amicable resolution of the competing territorial claims. Starting a process to resolve or neutralize the problem will require American leadership and resolve. Firm diplomacy backed by convincing naval power and patient leadership can strike a balance in the region that protects freedom of navigation, the integrity of international law, and the independence and sovereignty of Southeast Asia’s nations. The worst solution to the South China Sea dispute from the U.S. point of view would be for China’s asean neighbors simply to acquiesce to Beijing’s position and for the entire South China Sea to become the sovereign territory of the People’s Republic of China (prc). The Beijing position is also the worst solution for the asean and every other trading nation on the planet. But an almost as bad solution is for the U.S. to become involved in a bilateral confrontation with China without the firm endorsement and commitment to American actions by the other littoral claimants and by America’s AsiaPacific allies. Without the support of regional alliances, the U.S. would be entangled in a campaign at the far end of its logistical tail but deep inside the reach of a large and rising power. The ideal solution would be for the asean countries to stand up to China and insist on a multilateral resolution to the disputes based on the provisions of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea and the code of conduct specified by the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, which China signed in 2002. This solution is not possible unless asean develops the political, economic and military resources to challenge China’s influence. In the short term, backing from the United States and other regional powers including Japan, India, and Australia could be an incubator while asean develops an indigenous deterrent capability. In the long term, it must stand up for itself. asean will be reluctant to accept American assistance if it is presented as a part of a great power, anti-China geopolitical policy. China is not only a neighbor to Southeast Asia, but also its most important trading partner, investor, and occasional political ally. Asserting a Chinese menace and asking the asean countries to participate in an anti-Chinese coalition is a recipe for policy failure. Instead, the United States must articulate a vision for the nations of Asia that contrasts with the re-imposition of ancient Chinese hegemony. That vision should include the traditional Western principles of open commerce, political independence, and territorial sovereignty.

The South China Sea problem


ix countries claim the islands of the South China Sea: the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei. The prc and Taiwan (as rival governments of “China”) claim the South China Sea by

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virtue of cultural artifacts, ambiguous literary allusions, and outright occupation. Vietnam also claims all of the islands in the South China Sea based largely on historical documents, Japan’s postwar abandonment of title to the South Sea islets, and the legacy of French colonial deeds to several key South China Sea islets. The Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei claim all or parts of the Sea’s southern swath of Spratly Islands based largely on their respective Exclusive Economic Zones (eezs) and continental shelf. According to unclos, an eez extends 200 nautical miles from the low-water line on a country’s coast. China’s published map of the South China Sea shows a dotted line extending all the way to the eez of Indonesia’s Natuna Island, potentially enlarging the number of conflicting claimants to seven. This problem is not an arcane legal issue, but a Disputes over the near and dangerous threat to the global economy and to the regional ecology. The sea lines of comSouth China Sea munications through the South China Sea connect Europe and Asia, making the sea one of the busiest are not arcane waterways in the world. Almost half of world shiplegal issues but ping passes across it, and from the Middle East a dangerous threats significant portion of northeast Asia’s oil. The South China Sea is also rich in hydrocarbons in varto the global ious forms, and the full exploitation of these economy and to resources is hampered by unresolved boundaries and blatant military intimidation. Lastly, because of the regional overfishing, there is a marked decline in the overall ecology. fish catch, inspiring fisherman to use more aggressive techniques. With no multilateral agreement to regulate fishing in the South China Sea the fishing industry and sea ecology are rapidly approaching disaster. China’s claim. All the claimant countries justify their respective territorial claims using highly interpretive definitions of unclos articles. Only China, however, exhibits the combination of broad territorial claims; economic, political, and military strength; an uncompromising diplomatic stance; and demonstrated aggressiveness in pursuing its objectives. This unique combination of traits makes Beijing at once the most important player in resolving the territorial disputes and the biggest obstacle to doing so. When discussion turns to diplomacy and a negotiated resolution to the dispute, Beijing persists in reminding all other claimant countries that the South China Sea is Chinese sovereign territory and refuses to negotiate unless the parties accept China’s indisputable sovereignty. To date, China’s tactic is to engage in talks only bilaterally and avoid objective adjudication through unclos procedures or any outside parties. Additionally, China has made declarations and provided highly interpretive definitions that exceedingly complicate the resolution process and put China on a collision course with the rest of the seagoing world. Continental shelves and the impracticality of drawing coastal boundaries
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for countries with complex and deeply indented coastlines, like Norway, or for archipelagic states, such as the Philippines or Indonesia, were recognized in such unclos provisions as Article 7 (“Straight baselines”), Article 47 (“Archipelagic baselines”), and Articles 76 and 77 (“Continental Shelf”). These articles permit countries to draw straight boundary lines across complex or closely spaced coastal features and islands as long as they do not interfere with customary freedom of navigation. Beijing, however, extends the definitions of these articles by applying them to its claimed islands and coastal features.3 The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress adopted the “Law on the Territorial Waters and Their Contiguous Areas” (Territorial Sea Law) on February 25, 1992. This law does not specify China’s exact territorial claim, but it does assert sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands. Moreover, China has published a map showing the entire South China Sea from Hainan Island up to Indonesia’s Natuna Island in an enclosed loop as territorial waters. In 1993, China’s foreign minister verbally reassured his Indonesian counterpart that the densely populated and economically important Natuna Island was not claimed by China, but Beijing has since failed to formally confirm that informal statement. According to unclos and international custom, “territorial waters” extend twelve nautical miles from the low-water line along a country’s coast. When Beijing signed unclos, however, it included declarations that postulated definitions of territorial waters and rights of coastal states different from those written in unclos. Among other things, China declared that:
1 . In accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the People’s Republic of China shall enjoy sovereign rights and jurisdiction over an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles and the continental shelf. 2. The People’s Republic of China will effect, through consultations, the delimitation of boundary of maritime jurisdiction with the states with coasts opposite or adjacent to China, respectively, on the basis of international law and in accordance with the equitable principle. 3. The People’s Republic of China reaffirms the sovereignty over all its archipelagoes and islands as listed in Article 2 of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, which was promulgated on February 25, 1992.

4 . The People’s Republic of China reaffirms that the provisions of the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea concerning innocent passage through the territorial sea shall not prejudice the right of

3. Max Herriman, “China’s Territorial Sea Law and International Law of the Sea,” Maritime Studies 15 (1997). See also the discussion of China’s claim by Xavier Furtado in “International Law and the Dispute over the Spratly Islands: Whither unclos?” Contemporary Southeast Asia 21:3 (December 1, 1999).

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a coastal state to request, in accordance with its laws and regulations, a foreign state to obtain advance approval from or give prior notification to the coastal state for the passage of its warships through the territorial sea of the coastal state.

These declarations substantially change the meaning of unclos articles and are in marked contrast to traditional sea laws. China claims its eez is not just an economic boundary but sovereign territory, thus extending its maritime border 200 nautical miles. Beijing is also claiming that the uninhabited islands and reefs of the South China Sea are Chinese territory and, thus, also have eez extending an additional 200 nautical miles from each of them, and that its continental shelf extends as far as Beijing is also Beijing chooses to draw it. Finally, the declarations greatly broaden China’s prerogatives as a coastal claiming that state by insisting that warships making innocent the uninhabited passage must first obtain Chinese permission, again islands and reefs a violation of both unclos and the traditional laws of the sea. of the South The position of the Chinese government has direct implications for regional economies, the freeChina Sea are Chinese territory dom of navigation of global air and surface fleets, and America’s naval and air forces. If China were and, thus, also entitled to enforce its sovereignty over the South China Sea, then merchant ships traversing that Sea, have EEZ. no matter their flag, would be subject to China’s law and regulations and any fees, duties or other restrictions China may choose to impose. Additionally, China would have exclusive fishing and mineral rights over a Sea that the other littoral countries depend on for a significant portion of their natural resource income. Lastly, China’s insistence that any warship traversing the South China Sea must first gain permission nullifies the rights of foreign warships to conduct innocent passage. Furthermore, warships that do traverse territorial waters have severe restrictions applied to their operations. These restrictions, if applied to the entire South China Sea, would severely restrict the operations of the United Sates Navy and hinder its ability to protect both American and international shipping. Furthermore, in light of China’s position, the dispute between China and the United States over the activities of the ep-3 reconnaissance airplane near Hainan Island in April 2001; the multiple harassing actions against the American ships USNS Impeccable and Victorious in the Spring of 2009; the collision between a Chinese submarine and the USNS John McCain’s sonar array in June 2009, and the recent show of force through naval exercises in the Yellow Sea are not isolated incidents, but rather the latest chapters of China’s campaign to assert its sovereignty over the South China Sea and could well be the first rounds in an escalating shoving match between China and the United States.
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How strong is China’s claim? In the 9th century, an Arab trading dhow sank off Belitung Island, in what are now Indonesian waters, at the southern reaches of the South China Sea. The ship was laden with 60,000 artifacts of gold, silver, and exquisite porcelain apparently from China’s southern port metropolis of Guangzhou and bound for markets in Southeast Asia. The dhow was discovered in 1998 by Indonesian fishermen and is now considered one of the most important finds in maritime archeology. The Belitung wreck was not a Chinese merchant vessel (Tang Dynasty China did not have a functioning seafaring culture), but it is emblematic of China’s new Sinocentric ideology of preeminence in East Asia. The Chinese government’s claim to the South China Sea is based in part on ancient relics, coins, pottery shards, and the like that litter South China Sea islets. The fact that these artifacts most China also likely were not left by Chinese sailors does not justifies its claims appear to influence Beijing’s outlandish claims. to the South Neither can Beijing demonstrate that Chinese ever permanently inhabited the Spratly or Paracel China Sea with Islands, because they are uninhabitable. Many are various vague wholly or intermittently submerged. The ones that are mostly dry lack sources of fresh water, and these writings dating low features are seasonally exposed to the monback more than soons. Today, the only human populations of these islands and reefs are military garrisons maintained at 2,000 years. immense expense to their respective governments and at great personal risk to their members. They can by no means be said to have “an economic life of their own” and consequently are not able to generate their own eez under Article 121 of unclos. China also cites various vague, questionable, and off-point historical writings dating back more than 2,000 years in its attempt to document its claimed sovereignty over the South China Sea.4 Without doubt, Chinese explorers and fisherman sailed the South China Sea for two thousand years, and some recorded their exploits, but it is equally clear that the Chinese traditionally have viewed Hainan Island as the southernmost outpost of their civilization, certainly until the end of the 19th century.5 Ancient Chinese records do not disprove the claims of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, or Indonesia. There is substantial archeology showing that today’s Southeast Asians lived on those archipelagos long before written Chinese history. Several waves of settlers arrived in the Indonesian and Philippine archipelagos as far back as 250,000 years. These early peoples sailed or paddled the South China Sea to arrive where their descendents are living today. Although the Spratly and Paracel Islands were
4. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, “Jurisprudential Evidence to Support China’s Sovereignty over the Nansha Islands” (2000). 5. See the introduction to Edward H. Schafer, Shore of Pearls (University of California Press, 1970).

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too small for permanent habitation, peoples of all the littoral countries fished and economically exploited them before China existed. For countries that are littoral to the South China Sea, China’s claims are analogous to one of your neighbors claiming that the entire street in front of your home is his personal property. Furthermore, he claims that your sidewalk, driveway, and front yard clear up to the doorstep also belong to him. His armed guards park their cars in your driveway and he picks flowers out of your garden. If you or your neighbors protest he denies the validity of your title and refuses to settle in court. If someone insists on his property rights then the guards beat him.

Competing visions
he international community, led by the United States, is already pursuing a vision of Southeast Asia’s future and the resolution of the South China Sea disputes that competes with China’s world view. The world’s vision of nation states is of the Westphalian model of independent countries with sovereign territories. The United Nations Charter and the un Convention on the Law of the Sea are manifestations of that model. China’s vision, on the other hand, is a Chinese world order, a new face to China’s ancient tributary system where China is the central power and Beijing is the global political pole. The countries of Southeast Asia have already adopted the Westphalian model as their own and formed asean as an explicit defense of member countries’ sovereignty and independence. Nevertheless, the tributary system is a familiar part of Southeast Asia’s history and at the cost of independence it was tolerable, especially as an alternative to confrontation with Chinese military power. The Chinese world order. The mechanics of the tributary system are often described as relatively benign. Countries paid a tribute, the kings or their ambassadors performed a kowtow ceremony to the Chinese emperor acknowledging his sovereignty, and in exchange they were given expensive gifts and granted lucrative trade concessions. According to the historians that espouse this view of the tributary system the Chinese emperors rarely intervened in the internal affairs of a country and were not territorially acquisitive. The reality is that the Chinese emperors viewed their vassal kingdoms in the same terms as the European monarchs viewed their colonies: The emperor did not hesitate to use military force in order to protect his property. For example, in the 15th century, a tribute-paying king on the Indonesian island of Java killed some Chinese imperial envoys who had been sent to recognize the investiture of the self-proclaimed “king” of the Chinese colony at Palembang, a colony that had been subordinate to Java. In response the emperor sent a large naval fleet to deliver a note that said, “You should
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immediately send 60,000 ounces of gold to redeem your crime, so that you may preserve your land and people. Otherwise we cannot stop our armies from going to punish you.”6 When the Chinese Communist party usurped the emperor’s throne in 1947 it sought to regain control over all the empire’s former realms. The venerable China scholar John K. Fairbanks described China’s world view in concentric circles with a an inner “Sinic Zone” of nearby countries that were culturally similar, the “Inner Asia Zone” of tributary states on the fringe of Chinese territory, and the “Outer Zone” of barbarians. The Kingdom of Kashgar was once a tributary state in the Outer Zone, as opposed to Korea, which was in the inner Sinic Zone. Today the former Kingdom of Kashgar is part of the Chinese province renamed Xinjiang. Although the same colony twice declared indepenThe Chinese dence as the East Turkistan Republic (in 1933 and emperors viewed 1944) the People’s Liberation Army “peacefully libtheir vassal erated” the independent state from itself in 1949. The People’s Republic of China lacked the kingdoms the strength to extend its influence to all the empire’s same as the former vassals. Korea escaped Kashgar’s fate because of the rise of the Japanese Empire. Korea European became a battleground between the Chinese and Japanese Empires, and was won by the Japanese monarchs viewed Emperor in 1895. Despite the painful memories of their colonies. Japanese occupation, the silver lining for today’s Koreans is that Japanese colonization and the aftermath of World War II prevented China from annexing Korea as it did East Turkistan and Tibet. The proposition that Korea could share the fate of other former Chinese vassal states is not mere speculation but the considered opinion of the Chinese Academy of Social Science. In 2002, the Chinese government launched a research effort called the Northeast Project. In 2004 project researchers from the Chinese Academy of Social Science declared that the ancient Korean Kingdom of Koguryo was not an independent kingdom, but a Chinese province. The same year, China’s Foreign Ministry removed all references to Koguryo as a period of Korean history from its website. The Chinese government hosted similar research efforts called the Northwest Project and Southwest Project for Xinjiang and Tibet respectively. It is perhaps only a matter of time before the Chinese Academy of Science launches fresh research projects on China’s former vassals in Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia also owes its contemporary independence to foreign occupation. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, European powers extended their empires to many of China’s tributary states across southern Asia and Southeast Asia, including Vietnam and several kingdoms that ruled in
6. Giovanni Andornino, “The Nature and Linkages of China’s Tributary System under the Ming and Qing Dynasties,” Global Economic History Network working paper 21 (2006).

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regions of the modern-day Philippines and Indonesia. The Japanese and Europeans plucked these states from the weak Chinese emperor in what modern China derides as the “unequal treaties,” and they turned China’s colonies into European colonies. After the Japanese empire was destroyed in World War II and the European empires retreated from Asia, the most important legacy of their occupation was the residual concept of independent and sovereign states. China was too weak to reassert control over its former tributary states against European and American opposition, and new countries were built on the boundary templates of the former colonies freed, at least temporarily, from Chinese influence. In pursuit of Beijing’s ambitions, China disregards the “unequal treaties” negotiated with Japan and the European powers China disregards and bases its current territorial claims on the precolonial tributary relationships. For example, treaties and between 1992 and 2000 China and Vietnam negotiated their Gulf of Tonkin maritime boundaries. bases its The basis for Vietnam’s claim in the Gulf was an current 1887 treaty between France and China that established Vietnam’s modern borders. China, however, territorial would not recognize the validity of the treaty or claims on the Vietnam’s historic claims.7 A treaty was eventually pre-colonial agreed to, but it was evidently so inequitable to Vietnam that Hanoi kept the terms secret for years. tributary Eventually some of the terms leaked out, inflaming relationships. nationalist passions and threatening the stability of the Vietnamese government. Since every country in Southeast Asia derives its present-day borders from colonial era treaties and agreements (including even Thailand, which was never a European colony, but did sign border treaties with European empires), Vietnam’s experience should serve as warning to any of the asean countries trying to bilaterally negotiate with China. Nevertheless, shortly after Vietnam concluded its border treaties President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines struck an agreement with China, in 2004, for oil exploration. Like Vietnam she also tried unsuccessfully to keep the terms secret. The formerly secret Annex “a” showed that the delineated boundaries included huge areas of the Philippines’ eez. Of the total of almost 150,000 square kilometers covered in the agreement, around 24,000 square kilometers included maritime territory previously claimed only by the Philippines. When the terms of the secret treaty were finally exposed, nationalist passions were once again inflamed. Amado Macasaet, publisher of the popular and respectable Philippine magazine Malaya, went so far as to say that President Arroyo should be charged with treason for signing the agree7. Zou Keyuan, “The Sino-Vietnamese Agreement on Maritime Boundary Delimitation in the Gulf of Tonkin,” Ocean Development & International Law 36 (2005).


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Countering Beijing in the South China Sea
ments he claimed were made in exchange for loans “attended by bribery and corruption.” Afterward even the overthrown former President Marcos was more popular than Arroyo. For China’s former colonies, there is little reason to believe that appeasing China in the South China Sea will satisfy its appetite for territory or hegemony. In the Chinese world order China is not one country in a community but the oldest civilized country among upstarts. Any country’s sovereignty is ultimately owed to China and the degree of independence depends on its appreciation of Beijing’s “core interests.” In asserting its “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea, Beijing is laying down its markers as if to say, “We can solve this problem the easy way, or the hard way, but it will be China’s way.”

Perceptions in Southeast Asia
ggressive american diplomacy that seeks to pull together a “balancing alliance” against China can only confirm China’s suspicions of an American strategy to contain China while, at the same time, American actions are alienating Southeast Asian governments. asean capitals are more concerned about China than Washington, but they are also far more vulnerable to Beijing’s economic and military pressures and thus reluctant to provoke Chinese retribution. Ideally, asean would have the United States Navy steam in force into the South China Sea to maintain the peace, while asean then clucks disapprovingly from the sidelines and reassures the Chinese that it had nothing to do with it. Intellectually, of course, asean knows that it has to do better than that. Understanding the views of the asean countries is the first step in developing a balanced and appropriate policy. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand formed asean in 1967 with the stated goal of fostering peace and stability, but the most important goal was to gain every member’s acceptance of the Westphalian-like principle of “mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations.” During the Cold War, asean continued to evolve as a diplomatic tool to fence out superpower competition in the region. After the Cold War, asean recruited Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, and focused on economic development. In the 21st century, security issues are again taking precedence on the asean agenda. First it was international terrorism and maritime piracy that inspired inter-asean security cooperation, and now the rise of China increasingly tops the agenda of security discussion. Citing the recent steep rise in military spending in Southeast Asia, some analysts speculate that these countries are already preparing for military competition with China. For example, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has reported that arms imports to Indonesia, Singapore,
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and Malaysia rose by 84 percent, 146 percent, and 722 percent, respectively, in the last five years. In the same timeframe Thailand’s defense budget has doubled. Some analysts argue that this huge increase in defense spending is an indicator of Southeast Asia’s concern over the Chinese threat. Unfortunately, like many government-led activities in Southeast Asia, there is much less substance than the raw data suggest. In Malaysia, for example, the often-cited billion-dollar purchase of French submarines and many other expensive weapon systems perhaps has more to do with extravagant corruption than with strategic defense planning.8 In fact, the history of arms purchases in Malaysia appears burdened with corruption — a way of bejeweling its armed forces with expensive, low-density weapons that complicate logistics without adding combat value. In the In Thailand, the current military buildup began Philippines, only after the Royal Thai Army’s 2 0 0 6 coup vulnerable to installed an Army-dependent government. Furthermore, although the generals espouse a prothe Chinese American defense policy to visiting U.S. officials, juggernaut, their equipment purchases are from an unusual mix national security of non-U.S. companies. From a logistics point of view a menagerie of military equipment is difficult is sacrificed to and expensive to maintain; on the other hand, using domestic politics. smaller, non-U.S. arms suppliers may give Thai officers easier access to kickbacks. In the Philippines, the Southeast Asian country that is second only to Vietnam in its vulnerability to the Chinese juggernaut, national security is sacrificed to domestic politics. Since September 11 the United States has engaged in a sustained effort to improve the capabilities of the Philippine Armed Forces. Total U.S. assistance tripled from roughly $38 million in 2001 to almost $120 million in 2010. Additionally, not counted in those assistance dollars are the millions spent on an ongoing series of robust U.S.-Philippine military exercises designed to improve the capabilities of the Philippine Armed Forces. Unfortunately, despite the sincere efforts of the U.S. Pacific Command, there have been only marginal improvements in the paf. This lack of improvement relates to the declining Philippine defense budget. As U.S. assistance grew, the Philippine Congress cut the defense budget. Besides the China threat the Philippines is also beleaguered by multiple internal insurgencies, yet most of the paf’s equipment is Vietnam War vintage and the defense budget is now only about one percent of gdp, or about $1.16 billion in 2009. Despite, or perhaps because of America’s unstinting assistance, many Philippine politicians, including the newly elected President
8. Asian Sentinel has published an excellent series of articles exposing the submarine scandal in Malaysia, but John Berthelsen’s individual piece provides a good synopsis: John Berthelsen, “Malaysia’s Submarine Scandal Surfaces in France,” Asian Sentinel (April 16, 2010).


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Benigno Aquino III, feel that they are entitled to more. Ignoring their own complicity in underfunding Philippine security forces, these politicians are calling for a review of the Visiting Forces Agreement (the agreement that permits the American military presence to help train the paf). Their objection is that the U.S. is not doing enough to modernize the Philippine Armed Forces, and they imagine the Visiting Forces Agreement as a tool to leverage ever greater American military subsidies. Fortunately, the security picture in Southeast Asia is not all venality and indolence. Both Vietnam and Indonesia are making significant arms purchases focused on strengthening their national security. Additionally, after decades of wise investment, Singapore’s armed forces are world-class and by far the most powerful in asean. On paper, asean’s total air and naval forces are ASEAN’s total air imposing. asean boasts a fleet of 680 fixed-wing combat aircraft, 412 surface combat vessels, and and naval forces eight submarines in the combined navies.9 These are imposing, but numbers are not enough to defeat the powerful they are not People’s Liberation Army, with its 2,300 combat aircraft, 65 submarines, and 256 surface combat enough to defeat vessels, but they are sufficient to act as a deterrent the powerful were there any sense of common defense. Chinese Army. Unfortunately, asean is not nato: No country in Southeast Asia is treaty-bound to assist another in case of an attack, and there are few solely indigenous efforts to coordinate military activities. Indonesia is the largest country in Southeast Asia, making up 40 percent of the region’s population; it has the largest economy and is a developing democracy. Indonesia’s views on China’s activities reflect Jakarta’s vision of itself as an informal leader of asean. Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said, “For members of asean, what is more worrying is the possibility that the South China Sea could be a central theater for possible rivalry.” Indonesia’s goal, and by extension asean’s as well, is to balance the United States against the Chinese in order to protect their territorial integrity and independence. The government of Vietnam perceives China as nothing less than an existential threat; an anxiety validated by historical experience. Vietnam’s recorded history dates back 2,700 years. China occupied the country for more than a thousand of those years and Hanoi was subject to a burdensome tributary status for most of the rest of its history. Despite many long and difficult wars with China, Hanoi enjoyed genuine independence for only brief periods.
9. These numbers are based primarily on material published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in “The Military Balance in Asia: 1990–2010.”

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Hanoi’s experience with post-empire China is the latter’s enduring disregard of Vietnam’s sovereignty and independence. In 1979, in order to chastise Hanoi for policies Beijing did not like, China attacked Vietnam and briefly occupied parts of the country. Additionally, China’s pla Navy has on multiple occasions attacked and sunk Vietnamese naval vessels operating just off southern Vietnam and hundreds of miles from China’s coast; Chinese soldiers garrison tiny islands and atolls inside Vietnam’s eez; pla Navy vessels frequently harass or arrest Vietnamese fishermen; and Beijing interferes with Hanoi’s efforts to exploit natural gas resources well inside Vietnam’s eez. Nevertheless, Hanoi is careful not to provoke China and continues to seek good relations with Beijing. Although Singapore is not party to the South China Sea maritime territorial dispute, and 75 perHanoi’s cent of its population is of Chinese descent, experience with Singapore’s views on rising China prove the rule that asean is suspicious of China’s intentions. Singapore post-empire is an ethnically diverse country, but the bulk of its China is the population is descended from Chinese immigrants, latter’s enduring mostly laborers brought in during British rule. Because of its immigrant population and economic disregard of success some countries in the region resent Vietnam’s Singapore and often voice suspicions of its loyalties. Although Singapore has for decades built strong independence. economic links with China, it waited until 1990 to open formal relations with the People’s Republic — the last country in asean to do so. Singapore continues that strong economic link, but China’s recent belligerence has forced Singapore to declare its side. In order to assure its neighbors (and notify China) that Singapore is not a Chinese province, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, at the August 2 0 1 0 National Day celebration, made a point of describing Singapore’s unique cultural identity, including the adoption of English as the national language and the distinctive Singaporean cuisine. To emphasize that message, in a September 6, 2010, editorial the Straits Times, Singapore’s national newspaper and government mouthpiece, emphasized that the people of Singapore were not overseas Chinese, saying, “the term ‘Overseas Chinese’ should rankle Singaporeans of all races because it implies that the Chinese in Singapore are somehow ‘overseas,’ separated from the ‘mainland.’ It also implies a desire to perhaps ‘return’ some day. In fact, most Singaporeans here are not ‘overseas.’ They are rooted here.” In another editorial last summer the Straits Times guardedly approved Washington’s new approach to the South China Sea and warned Beijing that its “actions will be closely watched for what it says about the growing power’s ‘peaceful rise.’” Singapore’s biggest concern about the new U.S. policy is not fear of provoking China but the fickleness of American foreign policy, a point of view
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that reflects the broader asean position. From asean’s point of view, despite decades of strident Chinese declarations and demonstrative military actions, the U.S. has been “standoffish” about the dispute; seemingly unaware or unconcerned of Beijing’s acquisitiveness in the South China Sea and the implications for the region and the globe. For example, when the Philippines, an American treaty ally, discovered a Chinese naval installation on Mischief Reef, Washington did not share Manila’s outrage and took no position on the dispute, even as the Chinese continued to expand and enlarge their presence. But asean countries are ambivalent about both America and China. They ask for consistent American support and presence to balance China. At the same time, many asean countries are reluctant to grant the U.S. too much access for fear of compromising their sovereignty. asean countries fear China’s military power and political intentions, but they welcome Chinese investment and trading opportunities in the vast Chinese market. Finally, asean countries are far from unified in their view of China as a threat. Four of asean’s ten countries, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, are not party to the South China Sea territorial dispute. Burma’s junta, an international pariah regime, ranks the People’s Republic of China among the few governments friendly to it and would be reluctant to defend its asean partners against its patron’s encroachment. Thailand is in the midst of deep political schism and unlikely to participate in a common defense. Furthermore, Thailand’s elite are proud of Thailand’s flexible “bamboo” foreign policy and see no reason not to bend with the wind from China. The royal families in both Thailand and Cambodia are on friendly terms with the Chinese government. Lastly, asean’s consensus decision process means that Beijing needs only one dissenting vote to avoid asean censure.

Moving forward
he countries of Southeast Asia use asean to create a diplomatic fence around the region. As recent events have shown, however, a rising China is pushing against that boundary and asean is now wishing for increased United States presence to balance the Chinese encroachment. The harsh reality is that even ironclad security treaties and the presence of American warships are not enough to protect Southeast Asian countries if they are not willing to defend themselves. The asean countries must act individually and collectively to create a substantive deterrent to Chinese encroachment. To quote the poet Robert Frost, “Good fences make good neighbors,” and asean lacks the institutional strength, cohesion, and unity of purpose to build a good fence. China poses a substantial and present military threat, but starting U.S. assistance with a buildup of asean militaries is analogous to building a
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house by starting with the roof. The first priority must be for the individual countries to build a foundation for that house by cleaning up their legal systems and reducing corruption. With the exception of Singapore, every country in asean is afflicted with deeply corrupt legal systems. Judicial corruption is extremely unpopular, known in Indonesia as the “judicial mafia,” and U.S. assistance in fighting it would be welcome. The U.S. has a number of programs, particularly in the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, that can assist indigenous judicial-reform efforts and should be the first priority for assistance to the region. The second priority for building asean’s house is the economic walls and posts that will hold up the roof. asean has made progress in loosening inter-asean trade restrictions, but it must continue to expand those efforts, and the countries must Substantial reform their internal economies to permit economic improvement in growth. Again, the U.S. has many departments and agencies that can and should aid economic developASEAN’s legal ment in Southeast Asia. In particular, the U.S. Trade systems and Representative could negotiate an enhanced trade agreement between the U.S. and asean, perhaps growth in its modeled on the U.S.-Vietnam trade agreement that economies must did so much to assist Vietnam’s economic reforms. come before In Southeast Asia the U.S. can for a time provide increased military a security shield for the asean countries, but that commitment must not become a bottomless obligastrength. tion. Security subsidies, like welfare, trade, or industrial subsidies, can become expensive entitlements and eventually prompt behavior that runs counter to the original intent of the subsidy. If there is substantial improvement in the legal systems and growth in the economies, then increased military strength will follow naturally. Relieved of the burden of purchasing weapons systems whose only practical use is enriching politicians or generals will significantly increase military capability without costing an additional penny. Furthermore, with larger and more robust national economies, the regional militaries will gain more resources for modernization without increasing their burden on taxpayers. The Pentagon already has robust military assistance programs in the region, and improved national militaries will be more able to take advantage of American assistance. Diplomatically, asean should begin inter-asean negotiations on internal borders. Beginning the process may force China to ask to participate in the multilateral process, allowing asean to set the terms of the negotiations. Even if Beijing will not participate, an asean border agreement would complicate China’s diplomacy and spoil its bilateral intimidation. Militarily, asean should begin the process of improving its ability to conduct collective military defense. Building on the small steps already begun —
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fighting transnational terrorism, suppressing maritime piracy, and providing disaster relief — the asean militaries should begin to look for opportunities to improve their ability to perform coalition operations. asean’s stated diplomatic and political goals are to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the member nations. Building a collective military deterrent to defend those goals against all possible adversaries is not an anti-China activity. Lastly, it is not the purpose of this article to argue that Beijing will necessarily enforce its ancient prerogatives, but rather that the Sinocentric ideology is the historical base from which Chinese leaders will view the world. Beijing must be convinced to become a devoted adherent to the Westphalian model. Former Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick often opined that China needed to be more of a “stakeholder” in the international system and that that goal needs to remain a long-term U.S. policy objective. During the latter half of the 20th century, China greatly benefited from the inherent protections of the Westphalian model of a nation-state and the broader international system. Now that China is big enough to influence the world order, it must not be permitted to establish a tiered structure with China demanding greater rights than other countries. Washington policymakers must remember that China is not currently a threat to any country. Although there is considerable potential for a U.S.China clash, good diplomacy in Washington and growing political maturity in Beijing may obviate any such confrontation. The best way to achieve this goal is to embed China in rules-based organizations and then insist that Beijing abide by those rules. The most important global maritime treaty is unclos, but the United States has not yet ratified the treaty and thus has less power to influence the treaty implementation than does China. The only way for the U.S. to get a seat at the unclos table is to ratify unclos and participate in the various commissions guiding its implementation. American interests in maintaining the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and other contested waters should be defended with diplomacy backed by military strength. The U.S. must not flinch or compromise, because any temporary concession to China’s demonstrably unreasonable demands will not earn gratitude, but instead will become a precedent for China’s future demands. Diplomatically and militarily, Washington must continue to deploy sufficient force to deter China’s unjustifiable territorial ambitions.

June & July 2011


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Who Pays? Wh Bene Who Pays? Who Bene ts? ho
By Ken G. Glozer Ken Gloze er
In the rst decade of the twenty- rst century, both the Bush In the rst decade of the twenty- rst centur y, both the Bush and Obama administrations, along with Congress, have been and Obama administrations, along with Congress, have been enamored of an energy policy that relies on federal mandates enamored of an energy policy that relies on federal mandates e and impor t tari to promote domestic ethanol use as cureand import tari s to promote domestic ethanol use as a cure all for host of problems. Yet the rationale for those policies all for a host of problems. Yet the rationale for those policies o does not rest on any objective empirical evidence that they does not rest on any objective empirical evidence that they work or are more ective than policy of simply relying on work or are more e ective than a policy of simply relying on competitive markets to realize our goals of energy security, competitive markets to realize our goals of energy security, economic security, and environmental quality. In this book, economic security, and environmental quality. In this book, Ken Glozer provides factual evaluation of the major claims Ken Glozer provides a factual evaluation of the major claims made by those who have advocated an ethanol policy for the o made by those who have advocated an ethanol policy for the past thir ty years and answers number of important questions: past thirty years and answers a number of impor tant questions: When did the policy star t? How did it evolve? Are petroleum When did the policy start? How did it evolve? Are petroleum e impor ts and budget costs reduced? Who pays and who imports and budget costs reduced? Who pays and who bene ts? bene ts? After detailed review of the history of the policy since 1977, After a detailed review of the histor y of the policy since 1977, the author presents the results of an evaluation of the claims the author presents the results of an evaluation of the claims made by the architects of the Renewal Fuels Standard (a made by the architects of the Renewal Fuels Standard (a mandate that requires an increasing percentage of ethanol e mandate that requires an increasing percentage of ethanol to be blended in all gasoline sold in the United States). He to be blended in all gasoline sold in the United States). He compares the current interventionist policy to competitive compares the current inter ventionist policy to a competitive market policy using Energy Information Administration o market policy using Energy Information Administration projections for each. His surprising ndings—that federal o e projections for each. His surprising ndings—that federal ethanol policy has little to do with energy and everything to e ethanol policy has little to do with energy and ever ything to do with wealth transfers from consumers and taxpayers to corn fe do with wealth transfers from consumers and taxpayers to corn and ethanol producers—is particularly compelling because, and ethanol producers—is par ticularly compelling because, after three decades of federal subsidies, ethanol remains after three decades of federal subsidies, ethanol remains e e uneconomical even with the subsidies, trade protection, uneconomical even with the subsidies, trade protection, and blending mandate. Glozer ’s sobering conclusion is that and blending mandate. Glozer’s sobering conclusion is that taxpayers and consumers are the victims of the current policy. taxpayers and consumers are the victims of the current policy. They have no choice but to pay and pay and receiv no bene ts They have no choice but to pay and pay and receive no bene ts ve in return. in return. Ken G. Glozer is currently president of OMB Professionals, a Ken Glozer curre tly president en Profe sionals, ess Washington, DC– based energy consulting rm. He was a senior Washington, based energy consulting rm. was executive service career professional with the White House O ce executive service care profe eer essional White ce of Management and Budget in the energy, environment, and Management B energy, environm t, y men agriculture areas for twenty-six years. agriculture areas for twenty-six years. o six

April April 2011, 256 pages p ISBN: 978-0-8179-4961-7 $19.95, cloth 978-0-8179 9-4961-7

To order, call 800.621.2736 To order, call 800.621.2736
Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-6010 Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-6010 www.hooverpress.org w www.hooverpress.org

Books The Butchery of Hitler and Stalin
By James Kirchick
Ti m o t h y S n y d e r . Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. Basic Books. 544 Pages. $29.95.

here were moments reading this book when I was forced to shut it closed, an experience utterly alien to me. Like any reasonably historically-aware individual, I considered myself familiar with the carnage that overtook Europe in the earlier half of the 20th century: the gas chambers and the gulags, the mass shootings and show trials, the wanton disregard for human life and the heinous ideas which compelled people to, actively or passively, play a part in the deaths of tens of millions of fellow human beings. Reading about this period, there comes a point when the sheer scale and horror of the events which took place — the instant incineration James Kirchick is writer at large with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty based in Prague and a contributing editor of the New Republic.
June & July 2011 69


of tens of thousands of civilians, for instance — desensitizes one from appreciating the sheer terror and physical pain that individuals endured. Even with the knowledge of these attrocities, there is still little than can prepare a reader for the grisly accounts of the Ukrainian Famine that Timothy Snyder details in Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. Of course, I knew something about the widespread starvation that afflicted Ukrainians in 1 9 3 2 and 1 9 3 3 . This mass culling was directly caused by Josef Stalin’s collectivization policies, which were comprised of seizing private farms and exporting whatever food was grown to the rest of the Soviet Union and beyond. Those who have studied the event in-depth will not find anything new in Snyder’s account. But most readers, I imagine, will reevaluate their conception of the depths of human depravity when they read, in particular, about the widespread cannibalism that became rampant in what Robert Conquest has referred to as “one vast Belsen.” These are tales that one imagined lay only in the realm of zombie films: parents cooking and eating their own children, children in a nursery eating each other, a starving toddler literally eating himself. The lack of popular knowledge about the Ukrainian Famine, or Holodomor, is largely attributable to two factors. The first is that, unlike the Nazi Holocaust, the question of whether the famine constitutes a premeditated act of genocide on the part of Joseph Stalin (as opposed to, at worst, a symptom of callous neglect, or, at best, a tragedy brought upon by environmental factors) remains a topic of a highly politicized historical debate.
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In modern-day Ukraine, a nation still struggling to find an identity for the post-Soviet age, this question is a contentious issue, to say the least (the first act of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich, after his inauguration last year, was to remove a section on the presidential website dedicated to the Holodomor). Memory of the famine has also not been served well by the various apologists for communism, from Walter Duranty (who, as the New York Times’s man in Moscow at the time, not only denied that it was happening but won a Pulitzer Prize for doing so) to the celebrated Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, who, when asked in a television interview, “had the radiant tomorrow actually been created, the loss of fifteen, twenty million people might have been justified?” simply answered, “Yes.” Secondly, the Holocaust of European Jewry in the subsequent decade has overshadowed the Ukrainian tragedy, in both scale and intent. Today, denial of the Nazi Holocaust is a crime in many European countries. While some former Soviet states have passed similar laws regarding the crimes of communism, minimizing or rationalizing said crimes as the result of poor leadership as opposed to the inevitable results of an inherently unjust doctrine remains, in some Western intellectual circles, a mark of erudition. That the Ukrainian genocide (or, indeed, any of the Soviet Union’s masskilling campaigns) is not popularly remembered as such is also partly due to the machinations of that regime in crafting the internationally agreedupon legal definition of the term. Raphael Lemkin, the Polish Jewish lawyer who devised the term “geno70

cide,” intended that it include crimes against members of a “social collectivity.” Early drafts of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide included members of “political” groups in the definition, yet due to hard lobbying by the Soviet Union, this was written out. The Soviets cynically argued that defining “social” or “political” groups was a nebulous task at best; given Stalin’s wanton killings of enemies, real or perceived, this elision was obviously convenient. As opposed to the strict racial classifications of Nazi Germany, which left no room for ambiguity as to what constituted an inferior class of human beings, the mutability of the groups which the Soviet leadership invariably deemed “reactionary” or “counter-revolutionary” rendered Stalin’s terror all the more arbitrary. With its ferocious attention to detailing the crimes of both the Nazi and Soviet regimes, Bloodlands has inevitably become a new entrant into the long-running debate about the comparative evil of Nazism and Stalinism, though Snyder, a scrupulous historian who shies away from polemic (an exemplar of this increasingly rare breed), does not consider himself a partisan in this particular battle. Contrary to some of his critics, Snyder has not minimized the horror or unique evil of the Holocaust by writing a book that studies it alongside the array of atrocities carried out by Stalin in the years leading up to, during, and after the Second World War. Rather, Snyder’s aim is to place the Holocaust within the context of this era of mass killing. He does so by focusing on the region he terms the “bloodlands,” the territories that fell under both German and
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Soviet occupation between 1933 and 1945 and were the main theaters of those regimes’ policies of non-combatrelated mass murder. The era of the bloodlands commences with the Ukrainian famine, is followed by Stalin’s Great Terror of 1937–1938, continues with the combined German and Soviet mass murder of Poles during the short-lived period of the MolotovRibbentrop Pact and the German starvation of Soviet citizens across presentday Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, and ends with the German “reprisal” killings of Belarusians and Poles. All told, some fourteen million people are estimated to have died as a result of these atrocities; to put this number into context, it is two million more than the total number of German and Soviet soldiers killed in battle and over thirteen million more than American losses in all of its foreign wars combined. Without diminishing the enormity of the Holocaust, Snyder dissents from those writers who argue that it is its very enormity that renders it inexplicable. “To dismiss the Nazis or the Soviets as beyond human concern or historical understanding is to fall into their moral trap,” he writes. Considering the fact that genocides have occurred with depressing regularity over the seven decades since the mass-murder of Ukrainian “kulaks,” Roma, gays, the Polish intelligentsia, and the attempted extinction of European Jewry itself, this is a sensible, and morally responsible course to take. The Holocaust was a unique historical event, the causes of which were distinctive. But it’s precisely because it occurred alongside other wide-scale horrors that Snyder is right to “test the proposition that deliberate and direct
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mass murder by these two regimes in the bloodlands is a distinct phenomenon worthy of separate treatment.” hat these territories would one day earn the moniker of “bloodlands” became inevitable before Adolf Hitler ever came to power. In 1 9 2 8 , Stalin announced the first in what would become a series of Five Year Plans, mandating the forced collectivization of agricultural land in the Soviet Union. Two years later, the ogpu, or Soviet Secret Police, promulgated a policy calling for the “liquidation of the kulaks as a class.” There was no particular rhyme or reason involved in determining what constituted a “kulak”; Snyder recounts one local party leader stating, “We create kulaks as we see fit.” Basically, any peasant who owned land was considered a kulak, and this relatively privileged position meant that they had to be eliminated in order to allow “history” to proceed apace. In a murderous adaptation of the local traffic cop’s speeding ticket quota, local communist party officials were given victim targets; “the numbers came down from the center,” Snyder writes, “but the corpses were made locally.” Camps were established in the far reaches of the Soviet Union, in Siberia and Kazakhstan, where, eventually, some 1.7 million kulaks, (among them 300,000 Ukrainians), were deported. By the summer of 1932, over one million people had starved to death. Did the murder of the kulaks — and the starvation of Ukrainians more broadly — constitute “genocide?” The language that Stalin and his henchmen used to describe these victims was similar to the sort employed by Nazis to


depict Jews and other undesirables. “We will make soap of kulaks” and “Our class enemy must be wiped off the face of the earth” were two such slogans. There can really be no doubt about the eliminationist intent of Stalin here, even if the killings were not as mechanized or methodically carried out as was the mass murder of nearly six million Europeans Jews by the Nazis and their allies. Kulaks were essentially endowed with ethnic traits; the children of Kulaks were forever cast as such by the Stalin regime. In terms of mass murder, Stalin had a major head start on Hitler. By 1938, only 267 people had been sentenced to death in Nazi Germany (compared to the nearly 400,000 death sentences meted out in the anti-kulak operation by this time). Both ideologically and practically, Stalinism gave rise to Hitler. This was thanks to Soviet communism’s absolutist and totalitarian nature, which gave Hitler all the evidence he needed that nothing less than the full militarization of society was required to confront the eastern menace. Similarly, Stalin’s paranoid worldview directly contributed to policies which only emboldened Hitler. Stalin instructed German communists to treat their Social Democratic countrymen as “social fascists,” leading to fractures on the German left that ultimately gave way for Hitler’s ascent. This hothouse geopolitical environment created, as Hobsbawm would later put it, an “Age of Extremes.” Despite its mantra of international brotherhood and cross-cultural fraternity, the Soviet Union’s killing campaigns were very much targeted at particular ethnic groups, even if they were publicly presented as class-motivated.

In this sense, too, can the various antinational killing sprees of the Soviet Union be classified as “genocides,” even if Stalin did not frame them in such an explicitly racialist or ethnic manner. The anti-kulak campaigns, for all their class-laden rhetoric, were directed mostly at Ukrainians. And “the most persecuted European national minority in the second half of the 1930s,” Snyder writes, “was not the four hundred thousand or so German Jews (the number declining because of emigration) but the six hundred thousand or so Soviet Poles (the number declining because of executions).” Concocting a conspiracy by which a “Polish Military Organization” caused the Ukrainian famine by sabotaging collectivization schemes, Stalin had some 85,000 Soviet Poles executed in 1937 and 1938 as part of his larger Great Terror campaign, in which nearly 700,000 were killed across the Soviet Union. At the time, Poles represented less than 0.4 percent of the Soviet population. The motivation for these murder campaigns — genocides — belied the basic Marxist principle of internationalism, predicated as they were on the very racial and nationalist fears that capitalists supposedly provoked to undermine international worker solidarity. “If the diaspora ethnicities of the Soviet Union were disloyal, as the case against them went, it was not because they were bound to a previous economic order,” Snyder writes, “but because they were supposedly linked to a foreign state by their ethnicity.” The perverse irony of both Stalin’s and Hitler’s desire to conquer the bloodlands was that by expanding their empires they diversified them. Suddenly, they had a whole lot of foreigners living
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under their domain, who would need to be pacified. And so the solution to this problem would have to be the liquidation of massive numbers of people. It was in Poland where these murderous impulses first converged. Both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union could agree on the decapitation of the Polish intelligentsia, “an attack on the very concept of modernity,” Snyder writes, “a policy of de-Enlightenment.” It was this mutual interest — fear of Poland — that brought the erstwhile antagonistic powers to sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939. Over the two-year period in which the Pact held firm, both sides murdered about 200,000 Poles and deported a million more. But it was in Belarus where the conflagration between Nazis and Soviets, and between collaborationists and partisans, was greatest. By the end of the war, Snyder writes, a full half of the country’s population had either been killed or deported. Minsk had the greatest concentration of Jews in Europe, and it was here where Nazi anti-Semitism confronted Stalin with a challenge. “If the Soviet Union was nothing more than a Jewish empire,” as Hitler claimed (a belief that was somehow able to coexist with the equally maniacal belief that Jews controlled the levers of international finance), “then surely (went the Nazi argument) the vast majority of Soviet citizens had no reason to defend it.” Stalin deflected this propaganda by ignoring the vast crimes committed against Soviet Jews, qua Jews, characterizing Hitler’s victims as “Soviet citizens,” the greatest portion of whom were, he emphasized, ethnic Russians. The baleful effects of this double denial of the anti-Semitic nature of the Holocaust remains with
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us today. Throughout the existence of the Soviet Union, the special suffering of the Jews was never acknowledged, as it presented a “threat to postwar Soviet mythmaking.” To this day, the populations of the former Soviet Bloc, and some elements of their intelligentsia, have yet to come to terms with their historical complicity in the

It was in Belarus where the conflagration between Nazis and Soviets, and between collaborationists and partisans, was greatest. By the end of the war, a full half of the country’s population had either been killed or deported.
Holocaust, painting their ancestors as victims, which indeed many of them no doubt were, while ignoring the fact that many were erstwhile collaborators. In Lithuania, for instance, where over 95 percent of the country’s Jewish population died in the Holocaust with widespread Lithuanian complicity, the government has actually attempted to bring legal charges against Holocaust survivors who participated in the antiNazi underground because they happened to collaborate with communists. The problem of forgetting is treated brilliantly in Snyder’s study of postwar Stalinist revisionism, and the role that Western policies played in eliding the significance of the Holocaust. Allied leaders did not want to portray the war as one to save European Jewry, not because they were “reticent” to buy

into “Hitler’s racist understanding of the world” (which Snyder allows would have been a “more enlightened form” of interpreting their motives), but because they knew that a war which explicitly cited the rescue of European Jews as a principal aim would not gain popular support among their domestic constituencies. In this way, the motive of their downplaying of Nazi anti-Semitism was similar to Stalin’s. And while Holocaust education and memorializing is prevalent in the United States (far more so than in Europe — with the notable exception of Germany — which is shameful considering the geographical location of the events), this was not always the case. Despite the images of walking skeletons that greeted American liberators at Buchenwald, the full enormity of the Holocaust was not fully appreciated, even in the Western world, until relatively recently, for the simple reason that “the Americans and the British liberated no part of Europe that had a very significant Jewish population before the war, and saw none of the German death facilities.” Those facilities, and the fields in which the Germans exterminated the vast majority of their Jewish victims, lay in the bloodlands, which were conquered by the Soviets. The concentration camp and the gas chamber loom large in our understanding of this era, and for good reason: The locus of mechanized and efficient killing, they were the horrific fruits of 20th-century technological expertise put to use in service of a barbaric ideology. Snyder stresses, however, that these impersonal houses of slaughter were not the places where most victims of the bloodlands died. Indeed, “the

vast majority of Jews killed in the Holocaust never saw a concentration camp.” Their murders were personal affairs in that they involved soldiers firing bullets into their bodies; death did not take place within a closed chamber and the murderers saw the faces of their victims. Most of the killing took place in the fields and forests of Eastern Europe. Again and again, we see how the policies of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union complimented each other in killing off the people who lay between them. As the Red Army advanced on Warsaw in late 1944 and the Polish Home Army rose in resistance to the Germans, Snyder writes that “it made perfect Stalinist sense to encourage an uprising, and then not to assist one.” The logic behind this was that the deaths of both Germans and Polish partisans would be beneficial to Soviet aims, as the latter would be expected to resist communist control of their country once they had repelled the Nazis. When the war was over and the Soviet Union took control of Poland, Stalin executed those noncommunists (and many communists) who took part in the anti-Nazi resistance in the belief that “armed action not controlled by the communists undermined the communists” (Stalin carried out a similar policy during the Spanish Civil War, encouraging his proxies to turn on the other anti-fascist forces, thereby ensuring a victory for Franco). As one Polish Home Army soldier put this horrible predicament in a poem quoted by Snyder, “We await you, red plague / To deliver us from black death.”
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Snyder’s conclusion that it was Stalin who “won Hitler’s war” will be controversial with many historians and contemporary anti-communist political figures who argue that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were equally to blame for the outbreak of World War II. By renouncing the MolotovRibbentrop Pact and declaring war on the Soviet Union, Hitler plunged his erstwhile ally into the most devastating conflict that the world had seen, in which over twenty million Soviet citizens perished. This was a war that Hitler ultimately wanted — and started — but from which Stalin ended up being the biggest beneficiary. As his pre-war policies made clear, Stalin was not in the least worried by the deaths of his own people — even in their millions. By the time he had defeated the Nazis, Stalin found himself in control (with the connivance of his Western allies) over whole swaths of Eastern Europe that he had long coveted. Postwar Soviet population transfers fit hand-in-glove with the very Nazi racial policies that the West had tried to defeat; by removing ethnic minorities from Poland and killing the country’s nationalists, “communists had taken up the program of their enemies.” But world domination was not the motivating goal of the Soviet Union, even under Stalin, as it was for Nazi Germany. Snyder leaves us with the frightening thought of what fate might have befallen Soviet Jewry if Stalin hadn’t died in March, 1953. In 1951, with Stalin’s goading, Czech communists launched the notorious Slansky show trial against alleged traitors within their ranks; eleven of the fourteen defendants were of Jewish origin. This was
June & July 2011 75

followed the next year by “The Doctor’s Plot,” when the Soviet central committee accused “Jewish nationals” of attempting to kill Stalin and overthrow his regime. “Every Jew is a nationalist and an agent of American intelligence,” Stalin declared in December 1952; the implications of this statement, given everything we know about his treatment of those he deemed “nationalists” or “agents” of foreign powers, is chilling. Fortunately, he died just a few months later. Had Stalin lived longer, Snyder writes, it would not have been too much to expect that “the Jewish people as such would have been subject to forced removal or even mass shootings,” or even, one presumes, a second Holocaust. ow is it that Stalin, and communism more generally, gets a better hearing than Hitler and Nazism, universally regarded as the epitome of evil? Snyder reports that the Nazis deliberately killed upwards of eleven million; for the Soviets during the Stalin period the figure was between six and nine million. On the Soviet side, these numbers are far less than what had originally been believed, due to the opening of Eastern European and Soviet archives in the twenty years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Numbers alone, however, cannot be the only measure of these regimes’ evil, especially when they are so ghastly high on both sides. As Snyder has written elsewhere, “Discussion of numbers can blunt our sense of the horrific personal character of each killing and the irreducible tragedy of each death.” What has allowed the Soviet Union to escape the


same sort of historical reproach as Nazi Germany is that its killing was carried out in the furtherance of various causes — absolute economic equality, the preservation of a dictatorship, the collectivization of agriculture — that are not commonly considered to exist on the same moral plane as a theory of racial superiority. “In Stalinism mass of European history, which, unlike the more nuanced take of Snyder (who, while placing the Stalinist and Nazi regimes alongside each other as subjects of historical inquiry, does not equate them in terms of moral depravity), is explicitly political. In 2008, a group of political figures from the European Soviet successor states issued “The Prague Declaration,” which calls upon Europe to accept Nazism and Communism as its “common legacy.” Lithuania’s Museum of Genocide Victims is emblematic of this worrying trend. The “genocide” it refers to is the accumulated crimes of the Soviet occupation, which, over the course of nearly five decades, resulted in the deaths of 74,500. There is no mention of the word “Holocaust,” and hardly any mention of the more than 200,000 Jews who were murdered by the Nazis or their Lithuanian collaborators from 1941 to 1944. The Nazi plan to eliminate the Jewish race — a plan which it executed often with the gleeful participation of local collaborators who needed no prompting in rounding up and murdering their Jewish neighbors — is today being downplayed so that Soviet crimes loom larger. If this were being done merely to recover a part of history that was suppressed until 1989, and whose enormity continues to be downplayed by Western leftists, it would perhaps be defensible. But there are ulterior motives. This historical airbrushing amounts to “Holocaust obfuscation,” in the words of the academic Dovid Katz, which, he writes, “tries to reduce all evil to equal evil, in effect to confuse the issue in order to write the inconvenient genocide that is the Holocaust out of history as a distinct category.”
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Nearly 70 years since the end of the Second World War, this book has been released in the midst of a contentious debate in Central and Eastern Europe about the relative nature of the Nazi and Soviet regimes.
murder could never be anything more than a successful defense of socialism, or an element in a story of progress toward socialism; it was never the political victory itself,” Snyder explains. That of course doesn’t excuse the crimes of Stalinism or render them, on an individual scale, less tragic or evil than those committed by Nazis. But the question won’t go away. Nearly 70 years since the end of the Second World War, this book has been released in the midst of a contentious debate in Central and Eastern Europe about the relative nature of the Nazi and Soviet regimes. Academics, journalists and political leaders in this region, particularly in the Baltic states, have put forward a “double genocide” approach to understanding this period

Last year, for instance, the Lithuanian government passed a law making it illegal to deny that the actions of the Soviet Union in Lithuania constitute “genocide,” as it is illegal to deny the Holocaust. Another suggestion of those pushing the “double genocide” analysis is the commemoration of August 23, the date the Molotov-Ribbentrop Soviet-Nazi Non-Aggression Pact was signed, as a single memorial day for the victims of both totalitarian regimes, thus reducing the importance of Holocaust remembrance. In campaigning for EU recognition of this new standard, the Lithuanian foreign minister has said that the body’s understanding of genocide should be broadened to include crimes against groups targeted for their “social status or political convictions,” in other words, Lemkin’s original formulation. That’s a proposal with which Snyder would no doubt agree. But his acknowledgement that the period of 1933 to 1945 was marked by several genocides, rather than a single one, does not lead him to promote the “double genocide” theory. Snyder has written elsewhere that “The mass murder of the Jews was, indeed, unprecedented in its horror; no other campaign involved such rapid, targeted and deliberate killing, or was so tightly bound to the idea that a whole people ought to be exterminated.” It is morally specious to compare the Jewish Holocaust to the Soviet “genocide” of Balts or Poles or Ukrainians, awful as the experiences of these peoples were, because of the inherently different nature of the methods the Soviet and Nazi regimes used against their subject populations. The Soviet Union had many local collaborators throughout its occupied and satelJune & July 2011 77

lite territories. And while the Nazis also had collaborators during their occupation of the Baltic States, there was never any room for a Jewish collaborator in the Nazi project. A Jew’s fate under Nazism was inescapable and could not be mitigated by membership in the Nazi party, as, say, a Lithuanian’s or Pole’s or Ukrainian’s fate under Soviet occupation could be affected by his membership in the local Communist party. Though Stalin’s murder campaigns were, in many cases, predicated on ethnic antagonism, the difference is that the Soviets did not exterminate for extermination’s own sake. Once Stalin’s discrete policies had been achieved (the collectivization of Ukrainian farms, for instance), the mass murder stopped, and the Soviet Union eventually wound down its widescale deportations and mass killings in the mid-1950s. Had Hitler’s regime, with its animalistic understanding of human nature, lasted beyond 1 9 4 5 , its mass murder and terror would not have decreased. For these tactics were not just means but ends; they were the very lifeblood, the weltanschauung, of nazism itself. Following the extermination of European Jewry, the Nazis would have moved onto the wholesale elimination of other ethnic and national groups. As the historian David Satter has written, “Their plans for the racial purification of Europe envisaged an open ended process.” The crucial factor one must consider in evaluating these two strains of totalitarianism is their competing long-term visions, and the policies that were required to execute them. Classifying Stalin’s various murder campaigns (alongside Nazi policies towards Roma, gays, educated Poles

and Soviet citizens in Belarus and Ukraine) as “genocides,” which Snyder does, while also singling out the Holocaust as the worst of them all, is not mutually exclusive. To recognize the uniqueness of the Holocaust is not to be “soft” on the crimes of communism. Surveying a time and subject that has been studied, dramatized, and argued about perhaps more thoroughly than any other in history, Bloodlands is an incredibly original work. It seeks to redirect our understanding of the Holocaust as primarily an eastern phenomenon, and one which took place among a spate of mass killing policies. When popular interest in the Holocaust and an “international collective memory” of it began to form in the 1970s and 1980s, it focused almost exclusively on the experience of German and West European Jews, the wealthiest and most assimilated on the continent, who died in far smaller numbers than did the Jews of Poland, Belarus, and the Baltic States, who were nearly eradicated. “Deprived of its Jewish distinctiveness in the East, and stripped of its geography in the West, the Holocaust never quite became part of European history,” Snyder writes. Similarly, “By introducing a new kind of antiSemitism into the world,” Snyder writes, “Stalin made of the Holocaust something less than it was” by minimizing the distinct hatred that the Nazis reserved for the Jewish people. (Ironically, by their promotion of the “double genocide” rubric, today’s nationalistic eastern European anticommunists are furthering Stalin’s own pernicious historical whitewash of the Holocaust’s distinctly anti-Jewish nature). Snyder has corrected these his78

toriographic oversights. With this magisterial book, he has rendered the Holocaust, and the horrors that preceded and accompanied it, their rightful place.

Liberal Internationalism and Freedom
By Peter Berkowitz
G . J o h n I k e n b e r ry . Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order. P r i n c e t o n U n i v e r s i t y Press. 372 Pages. $35.


onfronting a war-weary nation, candidate Obama ran in 2008 as the anti-Bush, particularly in regard to foreign policy and national security. Obama promised no more reckless military adventures based on poor intelligence and ill-conceived goals. On his watch, he insisted, the shredding of the Constitution in the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of enemy combatants would cease; to that end he promised to promptly close the detention facility at

Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, where he chairs the KoretTaube Task Force on National Security and Law. His writings are posted at www.PeterBerkowitz.com.
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Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and to bring enemy combatants, such as self-confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, to trial in federal court. He made clear that when he was at the helm, America would refrain from imposing its way of life on other countries and cultures, and so would abandon the Bush administration policy of seeking to advance democracy and freedom abroad. His administration, he declared, would engage hostile powers and cultivate multilateral relations. And the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the struggle against al Qaeda would be conducted consistent with our values and in accordance with our obligations under international law. President Obama has discovered that the conduct of foreign policy and national security is not so simple. Flying the flag of humanitarian intervention while confusingly demanding that Qaddafi must go but by means of diplomacy and not force, the president ordered limited military action in Libya in the face of considerable, and continuing, uncertainty about the character and intentions of the rebels to whose aid the United States came. On Obama’s watch, Gitmo will remain open indefinitely — and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will be tried there by military commission (a decision formally announced by Attorney General Eric Holder on the same day in early April that the president launched his reelection bid). The Arab spring has further altered the presidential script. It was set in motion in mid-December 2010 when a humiliated vegetable vendor immolated himself in front of the governor’s office in Sid Bouzid, Tunisia, and reached a culmination of sorts with Egyptian President Hosni
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Mubarak’s ouster in mid-February. This prompted President Obama — as he refused to do in June 2009 when Iranian military forces wielded lethal force against citizens protesting the corrupt presidential election that preserved Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hold on power — to affirm America’s interest in advancing democracy and liberty abroad. Meanwhile, engagement with Iran and Syria proved a total failure, and relations between the U.S. and vital allies Britain, France, and Germany cannot be said to be on a better footing than they were under President Bush. And finally, President Obama gave the orders to Navy seal Team Six, an elite unit formerly denounced as “Cheney’s death squad,” that resulted in the long-awaited killing of Osama bin Laden. The successful raid on bin Laden’s compound in early May was unilateral, based, in part, on intelligence obtained through the much-decried coercive interrogations authorized by the Bush administration, and flew in the face of the European and generally progressive view that bin Laden was a criminal who needed to be brought to trial. To record the deviation of President Obama’s foreign and national security policy from candidate Obama’s promises is not to underestimate the difficulty of translating intentions into practice. Nor is it to deny the difference of strategic sensibility that separates Obama policy from Bush policy. Nor is it to minimize what is at stake in the different approaches to international relations and national security that generally distinguish progressives and conservatives. It is to suggest, though, that clarifying the issues presents complex challenges.

In the quest for clarity about America’s foreign policy, consulting the great theoretical alternatives propounded by academic political scientists will provide limited assistance. Some international relations theorists are realists; they tend to believe that, operating in an essentially anarchic system, states seek to advance their national interests However, common sense — to say nothing of the spirit of adjustment, balance, and calibration that John Stuart Mill, no less than Edmund Burke, saw as essential to grasping the requirements of a free society — counsels a more subtle approach. It suggests the utility of the insight at the core of each of the major theoretical alternatives in contemporary international relations theory — the importance of power, principles, and perspectives; the inadequacy of each by itself; and the need to combine them in proper measure to make sense of world politics. G. John Ikenberry, the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, brings a welcome common sense to his application of international relations theory to the problems of world order and the analysis of the opportunities and dangers that America confronts. A leading member of the liberal internationalist bloc, Ikenberry believes that the liberal world order — “that is, order that is relatively open, rule-based, and progressive” — that America has led since the end of World War II is undergoing a crisis, but is capable of being renovated by America to its and the world’s advantage. In making his case, Ikenberry provides an unusually accessible and instructive synthesis of the last several decades of liberal internationalist theory. He is very much of the tell-themwhat-you-are-going-to-tell-them, tellthem, and then tell-them-what-youtold-them school of presentation. In his scholarly commitment to clarity, precision, and comprehensiveness he goes overboard in restating points with at best minute variations from at most slightly different angles. But the repeti80 Policy Review

Ikenberry succeeds in bringing into focus the large stake America has in refurbishing and extending the liberal international order over whose construction and expansion it has, for more than half a century, presided.
by achieving a balance of power that maximizes their room to maneuver while minimizing that of other states. Others are idealists or liberal internationalists; following in the footsteps of Woodrow Wilson, they argue that the primary goal of foreign affairs should be the formation of an international order devoted to democracy and human rights. And still others are constructivists; they contend that states’ national identities and vital interests, along with core moral and political concepts, are socially constructed — that is, historically contingent artifacts determined by shared values and fundamental assumptions. In the rarefied world of political science, each of these theories purports to explain the whole of international relations.

tion serves a good cause. Ikenberry succeeds in bringing into focus the large stake America has in refurbishing and extending the liberal international order over whose construction and expansion it has, for more than half a century, presided. In the least compelling parts of his book, Ikenberry blames the crisis of liberal international order, or its dramatic exacerbation, on the George W. Bush administration. Through “its controversial ‘war on terror,’ invasion of Iraq, and skepticism about unilateral rules and agreements,” the Bush administration not only “triggered a global outpouring of criticism” and intensified anti-Americanism around the world, but also gave rise, contends Ikenberry, to the justified fear that the U.S. sought to mold a unipolar globe in which it placed itself above international law and at the head of an imperial and illiberal order. The main argument of his book, however, has to do with the pressures for change produced by the internal dynamics and abiding logic of liberal international order itself:
the crisis of the old order transcends controversies generated by recent American foreign policy or even the ongoing economic crisis. It is a crisis of authority within the old hegemonic organization of liberal order, not a crisis in the deep principles of the order itself. It is a crisis of governance.

its wake.” What is needed is “a new bargain, not a new system.”


Shifts in its “underlying foundations” have called into question “how aspects of liberal order — sovereignty, institutions, participation, roles, and responsibilities — are to be allocated, but all within the order rather than in
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k e n b e r ry a dva n c e s four major claims about the rise and prospects of liberal international order. First, after World War II, America led the way in constructing a world order whose hierarchical roots and liberal principles were in tension. On the one hand, as the most powerful and dominant nation the world had ever seen, the U.S. established itself as a hegemon, providing collective security, distributing economic aid, and maintaining open markets. On the other hand, the U.S. built an international order grounded in multilateral rules, reciprocal political processes, and international law and international institutions in which it voluntarily yielded some of its freedom of action to induce other states to do the same. This order promised, and to a remarkable extent delivered, stability and predictability which in turn allowed for the achievement of extended peace and prosperity. It fused American preeminence with respect for the sovereignty of all nations and deference to universal principles and general rules. It created a liberal hegemonic order with the U.S. at its top. Second, the crisis of authority that both America and the international system face stems from several factors quite independent of which party holds the White House. One destabilizing factor has to do with American unipolarity in the international system. In a bipolar world, with two major powers, or a multipolar world, with several major powers, coalitions form to achieve a balance. A unipolar world, however — in which one state, by

virtue of its military might and economic clout, dominates — is inherently threatening to weaker states, even when that dominant state is a liberal democracy. Another destabilizing factor has to do with the rise of new major powers including China, India, and Brazil. Also a factor is that norms of state sovereignty — the principle that states have the last word on what takes place within their borders, on which international order has been based since the mid-17th century — have eroded. Particularly in the last few decades, international institutions and organizations, led by progressive Western intellectuals, have labored to establish the principle that nations and international bodies have a responsibility to protect endangered peoples, including from crimes committed by their governments. Furthermore, all states, progressive Western intellectuals argue, including the United States, have on obligation to bring their domestic practices in line with evolving international understandings of human rights. A final factor is the rise of new security threats — in particular, though Ikenberry avoids precisely naming it, the transnational terrorism practiced by Islamic jihadists seeking weapons of mass destruction. The new threats have impelled America, given its special responsibilities, to reexamine the requirements of international law and the strategic bargains by which it has been bound. Third, the American-led liberal international order is characterized by distinctive forms of power, law, and legitimacy. Throughout history, the common form of order, imperial order, has been based on force. In it, “rules are imposed and compliance is ulti82

mately enforced through coercive uses of power.” In contrast, the liberal order whose leadership the U.S. inherited from Britain after World War II “is based on bargained and rule-based relations.” In it, “weaker and secondary states have voice opportunities, and their agreement to operate within the order is based on the willingness of the dominant state to restrain and commit its power and lead in the provision of public goods.” In the liberal order, no state, even the hegemon, is above the law. Ideally, the participation of all states in the system is based on the logic of consent. Fourth, preserving and extending liberal international order should become the centerpiece of American grand strategy. Renovating the “architecture of global governance and frameworks of cooperation” is necessary to deal with a great variety of challenges such as global pandemics and international health concerns, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, and failed states. In addition, the U.S. should refurbish its security alliances so that America remains first among equals even as other nations rise to challenge its preeminence; this will involve partners taking on more responsibilities in exchange for the U.S. relinquishing some autonomy. Also, America should band with the other capitalist democracies to further promote the incorporation of China into the liberal international order. And finally, American elites must recover the “public philosophy” of liberal internationalism. That public philosophy is devoted to developing international rules and institutions that strengthen the capacity of national governments to provide security and proPolicy Review

mote prosperity; it emphasizes America’s provision of public goods to other states in exchange for their cooperation with the international system; it values close consultation and cooperation with fellow liberal democracies; and it counsels humility concerning the capacity of the United States to promote the expansion of liberal order by direct intervention in the affairs of other states. By cooperating with other states “to rebuild and renew the institutional foundations of the liberal international order,” America can, Ikenberry concludes, “reestablish its own authority as a global leader.” Although his state-of-the-art elaboration of liberal internationalism gracefully incorporates realist insights and responds to realist challenges, Ikenberry’s analysis suffers from weaknesses characteristic of his theoretical outlook and larger discipline. First, Ikenberry’s account is marred by partisan progressive bias, if relatively restrained, typical of the political science professoriate. Notwithstanding a few of President Bush’s more pithy and pungent public statements, Ikenberry wrongly presents Bush administration foreign policy as a deliberately sharp break with the principles of liberal internationalism. To be sure, the Bush administration pushed back against progressive interpretations of what international law and cooperation with the international community required — in regard to the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of enemy combatants; the role of the UN in authorizing the use of military force; and the value of particular international institutions such as the International Criminal Court and particular international
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agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol. At the same time, the Bush administration went to considerable lengths to establish that it was complying with its obligations under international law; aggressively collaborated with European allies in the war on terror; and, contrary to Ikenberry’s suggestion that it proceeded unilaterally, assem-

In the liberal order, no state, even the hegemon, is above the law. Ideally, the participation of all states in the system is based on the logic of consent.
bled a large coalition for Operation Iraqi Freedom comprising 40 nations, with crucial logistical support coming from, among other Arab Gulf monarchies, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain. The determination to view the Bush administration as seeking to exit or upend the liberal international order reflects the progressive habit, on exhibit every now and again in President Obama’s rhetoric, of suggesting that conservative opinions are contrary to American principles. Second, Ikenberry displays a tendency to blame America for disagreements that arise between the U.S. and Europe and the ensuing instabilities in the international system. To take one telling example, following the progressive and French line of analysis, he faults President Bush for taking the United States to war with Iraq without formal Security Council approval. But, even

beyond the formal coalition the U.S. assembled and the extensive cooperation of Arab Gulf states, there is more to consider. Ikenberry does not note that the Bush administration argued that its decision to invade Iraq drew support from no fewer than seventeen Security Council Resolutions over the course of more than a decade requiring Saddam to abandon his weapons of mass destruction and wmd programs; that in November 2 0 0 2 the Bush administration won unanimous passage of Security Council Resolution 1441, which found Iraq “in ‘material breach’ of its obligations under previous resolutions” and promised “serious consequences” if Saddam failed to promptly comply with his obligations under international law; that the French, among others, had large commercial interests with Iraq that disinclined them to enforce the international law that Saddam was flouting; that failure to enforce international law against Iraq threatened to turn that law and the Security Council into toothless tigers; and that Saddam’s stealing of revenues from the un-sponsored Oil-for-Food program was producing a humanitarian crisis in Iraq among children and the ill. In other words, in the case of Iraq the Bush administration sought to respect international law and institutions and respond to a humanitarian crisis, and had a respectable argument that by removing Saddam it was doing just that. At the same time, some European criticism of the U.S. can be traced to the very envy and resentment that, as Ikenberry notes elsewhere, great powers inevitably engender among weaker and secondary states. Third, and most importantly and surprisingly, Ikenberry neglects the

importance of individual freedom to the theory and practice of liberal internationalism. The words “freedom” and “liberty” are almost entirely absent from his book; they don’t appear as terms in the index. Certainly, Ikenberry does not include dedication to the principle of individual freedom as a hallmark of liberal international order. It’s true that the central features he does discuss — openness, the rule of law, consent, reciprocity, progress — are bound up with the belief in the natural freedom and equality of all. But his account obscures the connection. This is in stark contrast to Hobbes, who made clear that the interest individuals have in exiting the state of nature and creating a commonwealth or leviathan is to protect, through mutual limitation, the natural and inalienable rights that each shares equally with all. Surely the liberal leviathan that Ikenberry celebrates is not less dedicated to, and does not draw less legitimacy from, the idea of the equal freedom of all individuals than Hobbes’s leviathan. The neglect of freedom’s centrality to liberal internationalism has consequences. It contributes, among other things, to the difficulty that Ikenberry and his fellow liberal internationalists have in understanding the conservative critique of liberal internationalism. In many cases — certainly in that of the Bush administration — the conservative critique is grounded in a commitment to individual freedom that it shares with liberal internationalism. The debate between more-progressive and more-conservative analysts of American foreign policy, in fact, tends to revolve around the practices and policies that best advance America’s interest in making freedom more secure
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at home by advancing it abroad. More attention to freedom’s centrality to liberal internationalism would not only clarify puzzles in political science. It would also contribute to the moderation and refinement of a great deal of progressive foreign policy analysis and rhetoric, including that of the president. one judge which alleged causes are most likely, and which less so. As an economist I have followed this issue closely over the past two and a half years, and yet I still found this book illuminating. The bottom line for me: The case is fairly strong that government regulation was one of the major sources of the financial crisis. The most important chapter is the first. This 66-page segment is editor Jeff Friedman’s overview of subsequent chapters, along with his own contributions to the debate. It is by far the densest part of the book, not in the sense of being hard to understand, but in the sense that if you miss even one paragraph, you may miss a lot. Friedman carefully sifts through the other authors’ arguments and evidence. His work would be impressive if done by a Ph.D. economist with twenty years of experience in the profession. What makes it more impressive is that Jeffrey Friedman is not an economist at all but a political scientist (he is a visiting scholar in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin). One point that almost all informed observers agree on is that the financial crisis started in the housing market and that the crash in housing prices caused a more-general banking and financial crisis. Therefore, to understand the cause of the financial crisis, one needs to understand two things: First, why the housing crisis happened and, second, how the housing crisis caused the larger financial crisis.

The Roots of the 2008 Economic Collapse
By David R. Henderson
Jeffrey Friedman, editor. What Caused the Financial Crisis? U n i v e r s i t y o f P e n n s y lva n i a Press. 360 pages. $29.95. h i s b o o k ’ s t i t l e is appropriate. In it, various economists and financial experts address the question: What caused the financial crisis? Not surprisingly, they disagree in their answers. Why, then, read the thing? Because it narrows the range of disagreement and supplies vital information that can help


David R. Henderson is a Hoover Institution research fellow and an associate professor of economics at the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School. He blogs at www.econlog.econlib.org.
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riedman argues that both questions can be answered by looking to government regulation. As to the crisis’s cause, he points

to the U.S. government’s push, under the Community Reinvestment Act of 1995, to have banks lend money to low-income people who would, in many cases, have a slim chance of repaying the loans. Friedman draws on a chapter written by Peter Wallison, an economically literate lawyer at the American Enterprise Institute and an Of course, when the housing crisis caused huge losses for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the federal government stepped in and bailed them out. Because of this bailout, notes Friedman, the U.S. government has an even bigger debt problem. Nevertheless, the bailout did not cause the crisis of 2008. So how did the housing crisis lead to the financial crisis? Friedman’s argument is complex and detailed and can’t be justly explained here. His bottom line, though, is that banks and other investors relied too heavily on the aaa ratings given to mortgage-backed securities by the three sec-recognized ratings agencies: Standard and Poors, Moody’s, and Fitch. The problem, according to Friedman, was that “Even the most sophisticated investors seemed to have been ignorant of the fact that Moody’s, s&p, and Fitch were protected by s e c regulations.” Friedman, drawing on a chapter by Lawrence J. White, an economics professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, argues that these three ratings agencies did not have a strong incentive to give accurate ratings because of their sec-protected status. He points out that executives at giant investment firms were shocked when Moody’s “suddenly downgraded” some of its triple-A, private-label (as distinct from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), mortgage-backed securities in the second half of 2 0 0 7 . Had these investors known that Moody’s could prosper no matter how inaccurate its ratings, writes Friedman, “they surely would not have been stunned when its ratings turned out to be so inaccurate.” Nor, he writes, would they “have been so reliant on its ratings.”
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Friedman’s bottom line is that banks and other investors relied too heavily on the AAA ratings given to mortgage-backed securities by the three SEC-recognized ratings agencies: Standard and Poors, Moody’s, and Fitch.
expert on financial regulation. Wallison explains that to make banks lend these substantial funds, federal regulators held up approval of bank mergers and acquisitions. Friedman adds that in 1995, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ordered two government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to direct 42 percent of their mortgage financing to low- and moderate-income borrowers. In 1997, to help achieve that goal, Fannie Mae introduced a three-percentdown mortgage — the traditional mortgage had required a twenty-percent down payment. With only three percent down, an owner whose house value fell only a bit below the original price would be tempted to walk away from it.

Another strand of Friedman’s analysis involves deposit insurance. Instituted under Franklin Roosevelt to prevent bank runs, deposit insurance distorted banks’ incentives: They could make riskier loans than they otherwise would, knowing that a large percentage of their losses would be borne, not by the banks, but by taxpayers. This “moral hazard” inevitably led to government regulation for capital adequacy so that the banks would be unlikely to lose their depositors’ money. The capital adequacy rules were part of the Basel I rules that regulators in many countries adopted. Friedman refers to the chapter by Viral V. Acharya and Matthew Richardson, both finance professors at New York University’s Stern School of Business, to make his case. Acharya and Richardson explain that many of the banks engaged in “regulatory arbitrage.” Under Basel I, the less risky the rating of an asset, the lower the capital requirements. So, for instance, if a bank held mortgages, it had to hold capital equal to a certain percentage of the assets’ value. But if the bank sold the mortgages and used the funds to buy mortgage-backed securities that the rating agencies had rated aaa, it needed to hold a lower percentage of the value, freeing up funds to invest elsewhere. Thus the term “regulatory arbitrage.” In a later chapter, aptly titled, “A Regulated Meltdown: The Basel Rules and Banks’ Leverage,” economists Juliusz Jablecki of the National Bank of Poland and Mateusz Machaj of Wroclaw University in Poland also make the point about regulatory arbitrage, and they do it particularly well. In commenting on the Basel rules, they write: “Unfortunately, obeying a rule
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designed to minimize risk is not the same thing as minimizing risk. It is adherence to a bureaucratic requirement, nothing more.” Jablecki and Machaj are also among the few authors in the book who analyze the likely effects of the further regulations imposed in response to the crisis. They reach a scary but plausible conclusion: that the natural tendency is to pile on more rules to the point where “bureaucratic controls increasingly substitute for market mechanisms.” When that happens,
government decrees replace the knowledge-discovery process of profit (when one has discovered a useful product that consumers are willing to buy) and loss (when one merely thinks one has done so).

The result, they say, is likely to be cartelization, which “could actually aggravate the systemic risk that already pervades the financial markets.” Most people, myself included, tend to get fearful when they hear about a new, complex economic institution. And their fear often leads them to be credulous about claims based on fear. So, for example, many people got scared when they heard about credit default swaps (c d s ), a term that sounds complicated, and then heard further that the “notional value” of such swaps was in the tens of trillions of dollars. The book’s short chapter by Wallison goes far in describing credit default swaps and, in the process, reducing the fear generated by those who should know better. Wallison writes: “The best analogy for a cds is an ordinary commercial loan. The seller of a cds is taking on virtually the

same risk exposure as a lender. It is no more mysterious than that.” Credit default swaps, he points out, simply allow lenders to offload the risk of a default on a loan to someone else who, for a price, is willing to take on this risk. No new risk is created in the process. Did the sellers of these swaps underprice them because they understated the risk of default? Absolutely, says Wallison; we know that now. But, he writes, “If we wanted to prevent losses that come from faulty credit analysis, we would have to prohibit lending.” Wallison also notes that if regulators are allowed to second-guess risks we have no basis for thinking that their guesses “will be any more insightful into actual creditworthiness than the judgments of those who are making the loans.” And what about the idea of “notional value” of the amounts on which the c d s s are written? Wallison quotes financier George Soros’ 2008 statement that “The notional amount of cds contracts outstanding is roughly $45 [trillion] . . . To put it into perspective, this is about equal to half the total U.S. household wealth.” Wallison’s response? “This is not putting credit default swaps ‘into perspective.’” Wallison shows that each time a cds is traded, the “notional amount” increases, even though the amount of risk is unchanged. He shows that the “net notional amount” is “actually about 5 percent of the figure Soros used.” The problem with credit default swaps, concludes Wallison, is not their financial effects but their political effects. They can become, he writes, “political piñatas” and “divert scrutiny from the actual causes of problems.”

h i g h l i g h t o f Friedman’s introductory chapter is his rebuttal of the widely-held view that the way that highlevel employees in financial firms were paid gave them an incentive to take on inordinate risk. Friedman points out that this view was accepted early in the crisis despite a complete lack of evidence. Three studies of the issue came along after this consensus had been reached. One study found some evidence in favor of the consensus view — “Financial companies that paid large incentive bonuses tended to perform slightly worse during the crisis” — but a second study found that the higher the proportion of stock compensation for banks, the worse the banks did. Friedman indicates that had the bank executives realized that their banks were taking excessive risks, they would have cut the risk or sold their stock. By not doing so, they took heavy losses. A third study found that some executives did sell large amounts of stock in the eight years preceding the crisis. But Friedman makes the obvious point that if you get almost all your compensation in stock and want to have purchasing power, you must sell a lot of your stock. Moreover, he notes, banking executives “did not cash in the bulk of their stock compensation.” Jimmy Cayne of Bear Stearns, for example, sold $289 million in stock during the preceding eight years but held on to $1 billion in stock, which he later sold — for $61 million. One main reason so many people think more financial regulation is the answer is that they have been told over and over that the financial sector is unregulated. Unfortunately, m i t ’s
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Daron Acemoglu, in his chapter, does some of this telling. Acemoglu claims, although he presents no evidence, that policy makers in Washington “were lured by ideological notions derived from Ayn Rand novels rather than from economic theory.” Acemoglu concludes, “In reality, what we are experiencing is not a failure of capitalism or free markets per se, but the failure of unregulated markets — in particular, of an unregulated financial sector and unregulated risk management.” It takes some chutzpah for an economist to claim that one of the most regulated industries in the country is “unregulated.” In a previous chapter, Wallison argues that the financial sector is under “the most comprehensive regulatory oversight of any industry.” I’m not sure that Wallison is right — medical care and health insurance have been highly regulated for decades and are surely a close competitor for the dubious honor — but it’s clear that the financial industry does, indeed, operate under intense regulation. In the book’s afterword, the prolific Judge Richard Posner takes on some of Friedman’s arguments. One such argument is that the various bond-rating agencies’ ratings were inaccurate. Posner notes, correctly, that whether they were inaccurate “depends on how likely it seemed that the securities rated triple-a were likely to tank.” This probability, he writes, seemed small to “regulators, financial journalists, economists, and the professional investment community.” That’s true, but were they right to think the probability was low, and could the lack of incentives for the three agencies to make accurate ratings matter? Posner argues, without providing evidence, that the
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“limitations of the credit-rating agencies were well known to professional investors.” He concludes his argument by writing, “Professional investors who failed to treat their ratings of complex securities with a degree of skepticism despite knowing all this had only themselves to blame.” Maybe, but then isn’t that Posner’s way of admit-

Jimmy Cayne of Bear Stearns, for example, sold $289 million in stock during the preceding eight years but held on to $1 billion in stock, which he later sold — for $61 million.
ting that even professional investors might have been too credulous? People make mistakes. Investors made mistakes. Regulators made mistakes. Posner’s point seems petulant rather than illuminating. In discussing the high ratings of various bonds, Posner reminds us that we “must be wary of hindsight bias” — that is, seeing as obvious after the fact what was obvious to very few people before the fact. He’s right. But Posner’s own solution for preventing or reducing the probability of future financial crises is a grand example of hindsight bias. Posner recommends more regulation, buying into the Acemoglu view that the financial sector is “unregulated.” But how, exactly, given Posner’s own admission that regulators thought the probability of a collapse was small, are regulators supposed to do better in

the future? We, including regulators, never know, except after the fact, that a low-probability event will occur. So isn’t future regulation likely to be closing the barn door only after the horses’ low-probability escape? Fortunately, Friedman has much of value to say on this issue. He points out that when regulators impose rules, the people they regulate must follow them and that, therefore, the rules homogenize behavior and prevent diversity. The advantage of diversity is that not all participants will walk off the cliff. Friedman notes that Wells Fargo Bank, J.P. Morgan, and Goldman Sachs all became aware of the risks of mortgagebacked securities and took actions to reduce or hedge their risks. Had regulation been even tighter, this would have been impossible. However heterogeneous are the regulators’ opinions of a regulation, he notes, only one regulation becomes law. Diversity among market participants, by contrast, “takes the more concrete form of different enterprises structured by different theories.” For that reason, regardless of what caused the financial crisis the way to avoid a future crisis is not through more regulation. Why? Friedman says it best:
Where there are competing powers, as in a capitalist economy, there is more chance of heterogeneity than when there is a single regulator with power over all the competitors. At worst, in the limited case of a market that, through herd behavior, completely converged on an erroneous idea or practice, unregulated capitalism would likely be no worse than reg90

ulated capitalism, since an idea or practice that is homogeneously accepted by all market participants in a given time and place is likely to be accepted by the regulators of that time and place, too. But at best, competing businesses will embody different theories, with the bad ones tending to be weeded out.


British, Zulus, and Two Legendary Battles
By Henrik Bering
Ian Knight. Zulu Rising: The Epic Story of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. 600 Pages. Macmillan. ₤20.

n may 21, 1879, a cavalry brigade with infantry support led by General Frederick Marshall set out from Fort Melville in the British colony of Natal on a melancholy mission: Crossing into Zululand, it was to retrieve the wagons the army had lost four months before in the disaster at Isandlwana, where the British camp was wiped out by a Zulu army, the most humiliating defeat inflicted on


Henrik Bering is a writer and critic.
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a British army by native forces. Among the accompanying war correspondents was Archibald Forbes of the Standard, whose report is not for the faint of heart. This is what he saw:
In this ravine, dead men lay thick, mere bones, with toughened discolored skin like leather covering them, and clinging tight to them, the flesh all wasted away. Some were almost wholly dismembered, heaps of yellow clammy bones. I forbear to describe the faces, with their blackened features and beards bleached by rain and sun. Every man had been disemboweled. Some were scalped. And others had been subject to even ghastlier mutilations. The clothes had lasted better than the poor bodies they covered, and helped keep the skeletons together. All the way up the slope I traced the ghastly token of dead men, the fitful line of flight. Most of the men hereabout were infantry of the 24th. It was like a long string with knots in it, the string formed of single corpses, the knots clusters of dead, where (as it seemed) little groups might have gathered to make a hopeless, gallant stand and die.

er.” Mostly, it was a question of recognizing “a ring on a finger bone” or “a pair of socks in a few known instances.” Prior’s sketches of the remains proved too graphic for the Illustrated London News editors and had to be cleaned up. One of Prior’s originals, complete with outsized skulls, is reprinted in Ian Knight’s Zulu Rising, the authoritative study of Isandlwana and the subsequent battle at Rorke’s Drift. Knight combines panoramic descriptions of the landscape with lively testimony from the participants. The battles greatly stirred the Victorian imagination, particularly the heroism exhibited at Rorke’s Drift. They still stir imaginations today. The movie Zulu, with Stanley Baker and Michael Caine in the roles of Lieutenants Chard and Gonville, invariably shows up on British television screens at Christmas time.


According to Illustrated London News sketch artist Melton Prior, in most cases identification was hard work, “for either the hands of the enemy, or the beaks and claws of vultures tearing up the corpses, had in numberless cases so mixed up the bones of the dead that the skull of one man, or bones of a leg or arm, now lay with the parts of the skeleton of anothJune & July 2011 91

he catastrophe was set in motion when Sir Bartle Frère, the British high commissioner, decided that an independent Zululand under King Cetshwayo was an impediment to British interests in the region. Frere knew that military action ran counter to the wishes of Her Majesty’s government, which did not want new commitments at this point. But with communication between London and the colonies being slow, Frère believed that the matter could be settled before the Colonial Office could object. A series of demands that he knew the King could not meet provided Frère with the necessary pretext. Heading the invasion was Lord Chelmsford, who had previously put down the remnants of a Xhosa rebel-

lion, and who now made Cetshwayo’s capital, Ondini, his objective. His three columns consisted of 5,000 redcoats, a volunteer corps of carbineers, and a hastily trained Natal Native Contingent, with himself commanding the center column. On Jan 11, 1879, this column began crossing the Buffalo River at Rorke’s Drift, where the army’s commissariat depot had been established in the mission station. Chelmsford’s supply wagons were drawn by teams of sixteen oxen, which meant slow progress, as oxen can only work four hours a day. The nineteenyear-old Lieutenant Horace SmithDorrien, serving in the supply train, provides the soundtrack: “The driver who yielded the whip was usually an Afrikander [sic]; the oxen were named and, when the pull became very heavy, were urged forward by name and pistol like cracks of the whip. Such names as ‘Dootchman,’ ‘German,’ and ‘Englischmann’ [sic] were bestowed on them, and when a wretched animal possessed the last it seemed to me there was more emphasis in shouting it out, and more venom in the lash when applying it.” The first clash of the war had occurred when the Natal Native Contingent sent out on reconnoiter in an empty landscape finally spotted a party of Zulus. The conduct of one officer, Lieutenant Charles Harford of the 9 9 th regiment, a keen amateur biologist, is described by his superior, Commandant George Hamilton Browne:
We were in rather a hot corner and he was standing to my right rear when I heard an exclamation, and turning saw him lying on the

ground having dropped his sword and revolver. “Good God, Harford,” I said, “you are hit!” “No, Sir,” he replied, “not hit, but I have caught such a beauty.” And there the lunatic, in his first action, and under heavy fire, his qualms and nervousness all forgotten, had captured some infernal microbe or other, and was blowing its wings out, unconscious of the bullets striking the rocks all around him as if he had been in his garden at home. He was just expatiating on his victory and reeling off Latin names — they might have been Hebrew for all I cared — when I stopped him, and told him to get as quick as he could to the right flanking company and hurry them up. He looked at me with sorrow, put his prize into a tin box, and was off like a shot.

This is heady stuff, affording just the right amount of excitement, and convincing everybody that this expedition was going to be a breeze.

is column having only advanced about ten miles in ten days, on Jan 20th Chelmsford set up camp beneath the jagged rock of Isandlwana, described by one of the officers as “queer shaped, like a Sphinx lying down.” On receiving scouting reports that an enemy force of undetermined strength had been encountered in the Mangeni gorge, Chelmsford sets out on the morning of the 22nd at 3 a.m., with 2,500 men and four guns. His fear was that the Zulus would sneak past him and hit Natal. He thus comPolicy Review


mits the cardinal mistake of dividing his force. He commits a second mistake in not ordering the camp at Isandlwana laagered, i.e, protected behind a square of wagons, instead leaving the soldiers and their tents out in the open. Having brushed off prior Boer warnings about the need to laager at every halt, he had stated, “Oh, British troops are all right; we do not need to laager — we have a different formation.” Chelmsford had great faith in his firepower, supplied by the army’s breech-loading Martini-Henry rifle. “The first experience of the Martini Henrys will be such a surprise to the Zulus that they will not be formidable after the first effort.” Admittedly, his own Regulations for Field Forces in South Africa required that camps be laagered and “partially entrenched on all sides,” but according to Knight that only applied to more permanent camps. The underestimating of native forces by professional officers was not uncommon: Three years before, when going against the Lakota Sioux, Custer had omitted to bring along Gatling guns and declined the offer of four extra cavalry companies, bragging that he could “whip any Indian village on the plains.” To make matters worse, Colonel Durnford, the commander of the second column, had been ordered to Isandlwana, presumably to reinforce the camp. But when he arrived, there were no explicit orders awaiting him. Receiving confused reports including one that an enemy force was moving towards Chelmsford, Durnford decided to move out with his men to protect Chelmsford’s rear. Thus the force at Isandlwana was divided a second time.
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Meanwhile, King Cetshwayo, having rejected advice to mount a counter raid into British territory — he wanted Chelmsford to be the aggressor — instead had ordered his lieutenants to creep up on the British, taking advantage of the landscape. “Perhaps the greatest Zulu masterstroke was to move some 25,000 men undetected to

Chelmsford had faith in his army’s breechloading Martini-Henry rifle. “The first experience of the Martini Henrys will be such a surprise to the Zulus that they will not be formidable after the first effort.”
within eight kilometers of the British camp — and the greatest British shortcoming their failure, despite extensive patrolling, to intercept them,” writes Knight. Having finally been spotted, the Zulu impi moved at once on the camp, before having completed their rituals. Zulu tactics involved the impi being deployed in the ox formation, consisting of two horns that would envelop the enemy on the flanks, while the main body formed the chest. Its warriors were armed with assegai thrusting spears, man-sized cowhide shields, clubs, and throwing spears. Some carried ancient rifles and muskets; only a few had Martini-Henrys, but did not understand how to operate the rear sights. The camp commander, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pulleine, hearing shots

on his left flank, and receiving reports of Durnford’s men falling back on his right under heavy attack, ordered his men to line up on both sides of the field guns. Smith-Dorrien again provides the soundtrack, describing the attackers emitting “a curious, humming-buzzing noise”: “They were giving vent to no loud war cries, but to a low, musical murmuring noise, which gave the impression of a gigantic swarm of bees, getting nearer and nearer.” The 24th Infantry was an experienced regiment. Rather than blazing away independently, Knight notes, they were trained to fire slow and deliberate, as volleys delivered in this way had a devastating impact. A recent archaeological find of a group of bullets neatly bunched together on top of each other suggests “a calm and unhurried manner.” But the British were too few and too spread out, “pretty, but too extended,” in the words of one lieutenant. And Durnford’s men being out on the right meant that the defenders were in effect “fighting two separate battles.” While this was happening, the right horn of the impi had snuck around and fell on the camp from behind. “The Zulus came on us like ants from all sides,” notes one of the survivors. According to Knight, the men formed “receive cavalry squares,” infantry practice when in a tight spot, with the soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder with the officers in the middle. But with the tents having “collapsed like a pack of cards,” the jumble of tent poles and ropes prevented them from forming up properly. They ended up defending themselves “with just their pockets knives, or with their fists,” according to a Zulu warrior.

Having failed to react to the first report of the attack, Chelmsford’s force was too scattered to mount a quick rescue. When Chelmsford’s lookout suddenly realized that the tents had disappeared in his telescope, he knew it was all over. Only about 100 men got away, and these were all on horseback. ack at the depot at the mission station at Rorke’s Drift, Lieutenant John Chard, an engineer, was temporarily in charge of the garrison with Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead as his second in command. Both were regarded as rather dull and unambitious officers; Bromhead came from an old military family, but was indolent and half-deaf to boot. Rather than flee, which with men sick in the hospital was considered hopeless, it was decided to defend the mission station, consisting of a store, a kraal, and a hospital. Chard ordered an improvised defense barrier to be thrown up, consisting of mealie sacks, biscuit tins, and two wagons. In case the outer defense line should collapse, he also ordered that an inner perimeter be prepared to withdraw to. Amid these activities, the native troops deserted, leaving him with 152 men. Disobeying Cetshwayo’s orders, the Zulu reserve under prince Dabulamanzi, eager to get in on the kill, crossed the river and entered Natal with 4 , 0 0 0 warriors. Contrary to Isandlwana, this time their attack was noiseless and ghostlike. James Reynolds, the surgeon, described the sight: “On they came at the same slow slinging trot, their heads forward, their arms outspread, and all in a dead
Policy Review


silence. Here and there a black body doubled up, and went writhing and bouncing in the dust; but the great host came steadily on.” Here the British fire discipline and superior marksmanship asserted itself. Trooper Harry Lugg reported “some of the best shooting at 450 yards” he ever saw, while in the hand-to-hand fighting at the barricade the bayonet was put to furious use. Curiously, notes Knight, for people used to using the assegai, the Zulus seemed to fear the bayonet more than the bullets. They believed themselves immune to bullets, thanks to the ritual medicine, but the bayonet proved a man’s mortality most convincingly. After fierce fighting, the hospital, its straw roof on fire, had to be abandoned, with everybody retreating to the inner perimeter in front of the storehouse. In addition, Chard had ordered a pyramid-shaped redoubt built of mealie sacks, from the hollow top of which sharpshooters could fire over the heads of their fellow defenders. Throughout, the Reverend Smith was making himself useful by passing out ammunition, praying for salvation, and admonishing the men not to cuss: “Don’t swear, men, don’t swear, but shoot them, boys, shoot them.” This is surely what is meant by “muscular Christianity.” After numerous assaults, the attacks faltered around midnight, and around four they stopped. The Zulus reappeared briefly, but vanished, not because of recognition of the bravery of the defenders, as suggested in the movie, but because they spotted Chelmsford’s force on the horizon. When surveying the field after the battle, Bromhead told a colleague that
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he felt as if he was walking on air, as he never expected to see daylight again . . . In front of the verandah and outside the hospital and near the two blue gum trees the Zulu bodies were lying three deep. Gunny especially pointed out one young Zulu Induna with a plume head dress, telling me that he was a very gallant man, and had headed a charge three times. “But we got him the third time.”

n the battle of Isandlwana, according to official figures quoted by the author, 7 2 7 white troops and 471 black troops perished on the British side. The Zulu figure is unknown. At Rorke’s Drift, the British had fifteen killed and two mortally wounded, while the Zulus suffered an estimated 1,000 killed or wounded. In recognition of bravery, a survivor from Isandlwana, Private Samuel Wassall, was awarded a Victoria Cross for saving a fellow trooper. Lieutenants Melville and Coghill, who had tried to save the colors of the 2 4 th, later retrieved from the river, got theirs posthumously in 1 9 0 6 , after the statutes had been amended following lobbying by family members. Isandlwana, of course, also produced its cowards, among them Lieutenant Higginson, who, grabbing somebody else’s horse, in true Flashman fashion managed to leave men behind him on three occasions. (Needless to say, Flash himself was present in both battles, as briefly told in Flashman and the Tiger.) The defenders at Rorke’s Drift were awarded eleven Victoria Crosses. Chard and Bromhead became the toast


of London, though not everybody was impressed. Jealous colleagues still saw them as lackluster officers and General Sir Garnet Wolseley grumbled, “It is monstrous making heroes of those who, shut up in buildings at Rorke’s Drift, could not bolt, and fought like rats for their lives which they could not otherwise save.” In Knight’s opinion, the point about the defenders at Rorke’s Drift is that they were ordinary men, who rose in spectacular fashion to the occasion. The battles inspired Victorian artists. From the battle of Isandlwana, the Irish painter R.T Moynan has a solitary soldier killed in the “self-confident martyrdom” typical of the Victorian age, as Knight puts it. Equally popular motifs were Lieutenants Melville and Coghill’s “dash with the colors,” depicted with varying degrees of accuracy — one version has them surrounded by exotic jungle. From Rorke’s Drift, the burning hospital forms the dramatic background in the best known renderings. Among the myths Knight disposes of was the rumor the Zulus used torture at Isandlwana. There were no tortured drummer boys, as the Victorians believed, but there was mutilation galore, as Zulu custom holds that the spirit residing inside a man must be set free by ripping his belly open. In addition, a Zulu quoted admits that “some of our bad men cut away the lower jaws of those white men who had beards and decorated their heads with them.” It is practices such as these which, despite Knight’s scrupulous evenhandedness, make it hard to warm to the Zulus. All the horses were killed as well, but that at least had a military rationale, “because they were the feet of the white men.” efeats demand scapegoats. The most convenient was Colonel Durnford, since he was dead and therefore could not defend himself. As an engineer, he was blamed for an insufficient grasp of tactics. But as Knight points out, he did not interfere in Pulleine’s dispositions and had only arrived an hour before the attack. He did take his troops with him when leaving again, but the ultimate responsibility rests with Chelmsford, Knight notes, for sloppy staff work and ambiguous orders. Obviously, setbacks to British imperial power could not be tolerated: The Zulus had to be vanquished, and hence a new force was assembled. A new commander, Sir Garnet Wolseley, had also been picked, but Chelmsford managed to defeat the Zulu army in the battle of Ulundi on July 4 , 1 8 7 9 , before Wolseley could take charge. Nevertheless, the Duke of Cambridge saw to it that Chelmsford never commanded troops in battle again. As for army procedures, a revised edition of Chelmsford’s Regulations was published in February 1879, making the laagering of camps obligatory “when halting, though but for a few hours.” All too often, military wisdom comes at a high price.



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