Category Archives: Quick Analysis

Socialism Gains Popularity in U.S., Despite Century of Failure, Part 3

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its examination of the growing popularity of socialism in America, despite a century of failure.

While oppressive regimes aren’t restricted to those that proclaim themselves to be socialists, the ability of a regime presiding over a centrally-controlled economy to avoid the checks and balances that deter tyrannical acts is clearly enhanced. It can, by design or intentional negligence,, deny food, medical care, or other necessities to those not considered friendly.  The History Place  describes Stalin’s use of this tactic against Ukraine.

“Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, set in motion events designed to cause a famine in the Ukraine to destroy the people there seeking independence from his rule. As a result, an estimated 7,000,000 persons perished in this farming area, known as the breadbasket of Europe, with the people deprived of the food they had grown with their own hands…Stalin also imposed the Soviet system of land management known as collectivization. This resulted in the seizure of all privately owned farmlands and livestock, in a country where 80 percent of the people were traditional village farmers. Among those farmers, were a class of people called Kulaks by the Communists. They were formerly wealthy farmers that had owned 24 or more acres, or had employed farm workers. Stalin believed any future insurrection would be led by the Kulaks, thus he proclaimed a policy aimed at ‘liquidating the Kulaks as a class.’…Declared ‘enemies of the people,’ the Kulaks were left homeless and without a single possession as everything was taken from them, even their pots and pans. It was also forbidden by law for anyone to aid dispossessed Kulak families. Some researchers estimate that ten million persons were thrown out of their homes, put on railroad box cars and deported to ‘special settlements’ in the wilderness of Siberia during this era, with up to a third of them perishing amid the frigid living conditions. Men and older boys, along with childless women and unmarried girls, also became slave-workers in Soviet-run mines and big industrial projects. Back in the Ukraine, once-proud village farmers were by now reduced to the level of rural factory workers on large collective farms. Anyone refusing to participate in the compulsory collectivization system was simply denounced as a Kulak and deported.”

The Russian example is not unique. Vaclav Smil, writing for the National Institute of Health  explains:

“…between the spring of 1959 and the end of 1961 some 30 million Chinese starved to death and about the same number of births were lost or postponed. The famine had overwhelmingly ideological causes, rating alongside the two world wars as a prime example of what Richard Rhodes labelled public manmade death, perhaps the most overlooked cause of 20th century mortality…The origins of the famine can be traced to Mao Zedong’s decision, supported by the leadership of China’s communist party, to launch the Great Leap Forward. This mass mobilisation of the country’s huge population was to achieve in just a few years economic advances that took other nations many decades to accomplish. Mao, beholden to Stalinist ideology that stressed the key role of heavy industry, made steel production the centrepiece of this deluded effort. Instead of working in the fields, tens of millions of peasants were ordered to mine local deposits of iron ore and limestone, to cut trees for charcoal, to build simple clay furnaces, and to smelt metal. This frenzied enterprise did not produce steel but mostly lumps of brittle cast iron unfit for even simple tools. Peasants were forced to abandon all private food production, and newly formed agricultural communes planted less land to grain, which at that time was the source of more than 80% of China’s food energy.

“At the same time, fabricated reports of record grain harvests were issued to demonstrate the superiority of communal farming. These gross exaggerations were then used to justify the expropriation of higher shares of grain for cities and the establishment of wasteful communal mess halls serving free meals. As an essentially social catastrophe, the famine showed clear marks of omission, commission, and provision. These three attributes recur in all modern manmade famines…Taking away all means of private food production (in some places even cooking utensils), forcing peasants into mismanaged communes, and continuing food exports were the worst acts of commission. Preferential supply of food to cities and to the ruling elite was the deliberate act of selective provision…The true extent of the famine was not revealed to the world until the publication of single year age distributions from the country’s first highly reliable population census in 1982. These data made it possible to estimate the total number of excess deaths between 1959 and 1961, and the first calculations by American demographers put the toll at between 16.5 and 23 million. More detailed later studies came up with 23 to 30 million excess deaths, and unpublished Chinese materials hint at totals closer to 40 million.”

The Report Concludes Tomorrow

Socialism Gains Popularity in U.S., Despite Century of Failure, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its examination of the growing popularity of socialism in America, despite a century of failure.

Socialist governments have been established in virtually every inhabited continent and in every type of nation,  ten decades provides an adequate time frame for an accurate analysis.  Almost every variant of the philosophy has been emplaced at one time or another.

George Reisman of the Mises Institute makes a point that many university history and political science departments consider utterly taboo: the reality that one variant of socialism was Germany’s National Socialism. Few even bother noting that the full name of the Nazi Party was “der Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiters Partei — in English translation: the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.” The nightmarish actions of that regime—unfettered by checks and balances– continue to haunt humanity.

The Third Reich was indeed a socialist government. Reisman points out that “private ownership of the means of production existed in name only under the Nazis and that the actual substance of ownership of the means of production resided in the German government. For it was the German government and not the nominal private owners that exercised all of the substantive powers of ownership: it, not the nominal private owners, decided what was to be produced, in what quantity, by what methods, and to whom it was to be distributed, as well as what prices would be charged and what wages would be paid, and what dividends or other income the nominal private owners would be permitted to receive. The position of the alleged private owners, Mises showed, was reduced essentially to that of government pensioners. De facto government ownership of the means of production, as Mises termed it, was logically implied by such fundamental collectivist principles embraced by the Nazis as that the common good comes before the private good and the individual exists as a means to the ends of the State. If the individual is a means to the ends of the State, so too, of course, is his property. Just as he is owned by the State, his property is also owned by the State.”

In its most innocent and idealistic concept, socialism places the key sectors of a nations’ economy and essential services under the control of a central government, theoretically for the benefit of all. The question that innocent-sounding concept raises are profound. Who can be trusted with that much power? Even if they could be trusted, can knowledge of the vast range of economic and essential service activity ever be mastered by a limited number of bureaucrats? Who determines what is in “the greater good?”  (that concept alone has resulted in millions of deaths.) What checks and balances can be successfully developed that decisions will be fair, or even reasonable? History shows that whenever great power is amassed by a few, abuses surely follow. Can centralized control ever be flexible enough to change course when a mistake has been made, even with the best of intentions, or a better idea has arisen? Can human nature be adopted, despite extraordinary evidence to the contrary, to work as diligently, intelligently, or enthusiastically for a group rather than individual gain?

Evidence across the globe and over a century clearly indicates that the answer to these questions has not been favorable to the proponents of socialism.

Socialist nations as diverse as Russia, Cambodia, and Venezuela have endured exceptional damage to the well-being of their citizenry and the health of their economies. Some had hoped that China’s experiment in promoting consumerism within a socialist state would produce more salutary results.  However, as President Xi consolidates and enhances his power and steers his government back to the more repressive environment of Maoist days, that hope has been dashed. Even at its best, China’s government was always a harsh oppressor of human rights. It should also not be forgotten that China’s economic progress depends heavily on selling goods made by cheap labor to more capitalist-governed nations.

The Report Continues Tomorrow

Socialism Gains Popularity in U.S., Despite Century of Failure

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government examines the growing popularity of socialism in America, despite a century of failure.

The popularity of Senator Bernie Sanders’ economic policies, and the rise of anti-capitalist organizations such as Antifa, indicate the growing popularity of socialism in the U.S.

A Bloomberg review noted that according to Asher Kaplan, who organized a well-attended event debating the merits and problems of capitalism, “These days, among young people, socialism is “both a political identity and a culture…Young Americans have soured on capitalism. In a Harvard University poll conducted last year, 51 percent of 18-to-29 year-olds in the U.S. said they opposed capitalism; only 42 percent expressed support. Among Americans of all ages, by contrast, a Gallup survey last year found that 60 percent held positive views of capitalism. A poll released last month found American millennials closely split on the question of what type of society they would prefer to live in: 44 percent picked a socialist country, 42 percent a capitalist one. The poll, conducted by YouGov and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, found that [only] 59 percent of Americans across all age groups preferred to live under capitalism.”

A similar result was published in The Week: “Things are looking up for the Democratic Socialists of America. With a membership of 25,000, it is now the largest socialist group in America since the Second World War… Membership has more than tripled in a year, gaining a large boost from the candidacy of Bernie Sanders…”

The increasing support comes also from cultural figures. Despite the dictatorial and despotic depredations of Venezuela’s late Hugo Chavez, who played the key role in destroying his nation’s economy, well-known U.S. citizens praised him. Throughout Chavez’s life Penn was an outspoken supporter of the dictator, and at his candlelight vigil in Bolivia Penn showed up wearing a Venezuelan flag jacket and told a group of mourners: He’s one of the most important forces we’ve had on this planet, and I’ll wish him nothing but that great strength he has shown over and over again. I do it in love, and I do it in gratitude. He was joined by Oliver Stone, who established a solid friendship with the Venezuelan strongman. Award-winning actor Danny Glover, in an interview with La Nacion stated: Glover told La Nación: “He was not only my friend, he was my brother… It’s difficult for a leader like him to exist in these times. His vision for humanity and the world can only be compared to that of leaders like Nelson Mandela. He was a great man and I cried when he died.”

The rise of support comes in a year marking the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, which heralded the start of socialism’s rise.  Some have observed that the aftermath of that event has been forgotten or intentionally ignored.  National Reviews’ Douglas Murray writes that the results are “barely remembered at all.  And where it is, it is not remembered in a negative light…what are the consequences of societies with so little memory of 20 million deaths in the USSR? Or the 65 million deaths caused by efforts to instill Communism in China?…the 2 million deaths in Cambodia? The million in Eastern Europe?…The 2 million (and counting in North Korea? The nearly 2 million across Africa? The 1.5 million in Afghanistan? The 150,000 in Latin America? Not to mention the thousands of murders committed by Communist movements not in power…Who could survey this wreckage…and not recoil? Who could stand on top of these 100 million tragedies and think, ‘Once more, comrades, though this time with subtly different emphases?…and so we see revealed the persistence not just of this ideological worldview but of the edifice  its modern adherents have been hoping to reconstruct all these decades.  Not [just] in Venezuela, or in Cuba, but in developed modern Western democracy.”

The Report Continues Tomorrow

California Crazy: Politics vs. Public Safety

Over the past several years, Americans received a glimpse of the outcome of “Progressive” economic policies by observing the devastation in Venezuela.

An experiment in leftist policies is taking place in California, where some of the extremism currently in vogue among leftist circles and on college campuses has become official state policy.  While the issues involved are varied, they are interconnected both in terms of their philosophy of placing pressure group interests over the public good,  and how these new laws and regulations ultimately harm the majority and the innocent.

These topics highlight the ascension of radical ideology over the good of the state’s citizenry.

  1. Bagging Common Sense

A Hepatitis A outbreak, originating in San Diego, is reaching epidemic proportions. The cause can be traced to two Progressive actions: a failure to screen illegal aliens for contagious diseases, and an an extremist environmental measure banning the use of plastic bags.

According to a Breitbart report,  “California health officials have reported that at least 569 people have been infected with the hepatitis A liver disease and 17 have died since a San Diego County outbreak was first identified in November. Cases have migrated north to homeless populations in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Sacramento over the last 11 months.”

It is not surprising that diseases, some of which had long been near totally eradicated within the United States, are an inherent danger of unchecked illegal immigration. What has surprised the environmental extremists is the unexpected result of banning plastic bags in San Diego.  Homeless individuals had used those bags as an alternative means of bodily waste disposal when bathrooms were unavailable.  In their absence, the increased presence of those wastes has had greater exposure, resulting in a spreading hepatitis outbreak.

A minimal amount of research, and an application of common sense, would have at least brought the issue to the table for discussion.  But in the passionate views of environmental extremists, any application of actual human considerations is inappropriate.

  1. Political Correctness vs. Health

Prioritization of political correctness over public health can also be seen in a new law which reduces penalties for knowingly exposing sex partners to HIV, and from knowingly donating HIV-positive blood to a blood bank.

According to the new law, SB 239,  Existing law makes it a felony punishable by imprisonment for 3, 5, or 8 years in the state prison to expose another person to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) by engaging in unprotected sexual activity when the infected person knows at the time of the unprotected sex that he or she is infected with HIV, has not disclosed his or her HIV-positive status, and acts with the specific intent to infect the other person with HIV. Existing law makes it a felony punishable by imprisonment for 2, 4, or 6 years for any person to donate blood, tissue, or, under specified circumstances, semen or breast milk, if the person knows that he or she has acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), or that he or she has tested reactive to HIV. Existing law provides that a person who is afflicted with a contagious, infectious, or communicable disease who willfully exposes himself or herself to another person, or any person who willfully exposes another person afflicted with the disease to someone else, is guilty of a misdemeanor. This bill would repeal those provisions. The bill would instead make the intentional transmission of an infectious or communicable disease, as defined, a misdemeanor…”

There should be no constituency for minimizing the penalties for knowingly spreading any contagious disease, especially when it can be avoided.  What are the priorities of those who voted for and approved this measure?

  1. Choosing Illegal Immigrants Over Public Safety

California’s SB 54  notes that that “Existing law provides that when there is reason to believe that a person arrested for a violation of specified controlled substance provisions may not be a citizen of the United States, the arresting agency shall notify the appropriate agency of the United States having charge of deportation matters. This bill would repeal those provisions.”

The salient question in analyzing SB 54, which has been condemned by the U.S. Justice Department and some California law enforcement leaders, is why are steps being taken to protect criminals?  The bill is not geared towards illegals who are otherwise law abiding—its sole purpose is to protect criminals.

U.S.A. Provides Welfare to World

According to the U.S. State Department  “[T]he U.S. Government leads the international community in responding to the needs of refugees, internally displaced persons, victims of conflict and disasters, and vulnerable migrants…The U.S. Government directly supports more than one-quarter of the cost of humanitarian activities undertaken by the UN and Red Cross organizations, and provides strong support to other NGOs.[non-governmental organizations]  The United States is also a leader in the promotion of legal, orderly, and humane migration, building on our history and values as a country of immigration.

Foreign Assistance.gov  notes that “the U.S. manages foreign assistance programs in more than 100 countries around the world through the efforts of over 20 different U.S. government agencies.”

There is, of course a type of assistance to the world community not generally considered as foreign aid, but which certainly has a dramatic impact on global needs. Steven Camarota and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)   have researched the abundant assistance given to both legal and illegal immigrants to the United States. Among the findings:

  • In 2012, 51 percent of households headed by an immigrant (legal or illegal) reported that they used at least one welfare program during the year, compared to 30 percent of native households. Welfare in this study includes Medicaid and cash, food, and housing programs.
  • Welfare use is high for both new arrivals and well-established immigrants. Of households headed by immigrants who have been in the country for more than two decades, 48 percent access welfare.
  • No single program explains immigrants’ higher overall welfare use. For example, not counting subsidized school lunch, welfare use is still 46 percent for immigrants and 28 percent for natives. Not counting Medicaid, welfare use is 44 percent for immigrants and 26 percent for natives.
  • Immigrant households have much higher use of food programs (40 percent vs. 22 percent for natives) and Medicaid (42 percent vs. 23 percent). Immigrant use of cash programs is somewhat higher than natives (12 percent vs. 10 percent) and use of housing programs is similar to natives.
  • Welfare use varies among immigrant groups. Households headed by immigrants from Central America and Mexico (73 percent), the Caribbean (51 percent), and Africa (48 percent) have the highest overall welfare use. Those from East Asia (32 percent), Europe (26 percent), and South Asia (17 percent) have the lowest.
  • Many immigrants struggle to support their children, and a large share of welfare is received on behalf of U.S.-born children. However, even immigrant households without children have significantly higher welfare use than native households without children — 30 percent vs. 20 percent.
  • The welfare system is designed to help low-income workers, especially those with children, and this describes many immigrant households. In 2012, 51 percent of immigrant households with one or more workers accessed one or more welfare programs, as did 28 percent of working native households.
  • The large share of immigrants with low levels of education and resulting low incomes partly explains their high use rates. In 2012, 76 percent of households headed by an immigrant who had not graduated high school used one or more welfare programs, as did 63 percent of households headed by an immigrant with only a high school education.
  • The high rates of immigrant welfare use are not entirely explained by their lower education levels. Households headed by college-educated immigrants have significantly higher welfare use than households headed by college-educated natives — 26 percent vs. 13 percent.
  • In the four top immigrant-receiving states, use of welfare by immigrant households is significantly higher than that of native households: California (55 percent vs. 30 percent), New York (59 percent vs. 33 percent), Texas (57 percent vs. 34 percent), and Florida (42 percent vs. 28 percent).
  • Illegal immigrants are included in the SIPP. In a forthcoming report, we will estimate welfare use for immigrants by legal status. However, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of immigrant households using welfare are headed by legal immigrants.
  • Most new legal immigrants are barred from welfare programs when they first arrive, and illegal immigrants are barred as well. But the ban applies to only some programs; most legal immigrants have been in the country long enough to qualify for at least some programs and the bar often does not apply to children; states often provide welfare to new immigrants on their own; naturalizing makes immigrants eligible for all programs; and, most important, immigrants (including illegal immigrants) can receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children who are awarded U.S. citizenship at birth.
  • The heavy use of welfare by less-educated immigrants has three important policy implications: 1) prior research indicates that illegal immigrants are overwhelmingly less-educated, so allowing them to stay in the country creates significant welfare costs; 2) by admitting large numbers of less-educated immigrants to join their relatives, the legal immigration system brings in many immigrants who are likely to access the welfare system; and 3) proposals to allow in more less-educated immigrants to fill low-wage jobs would create significant welfare costs.

John Binder, writing in Breitbart   reports that “Decades of mass immigration to the United States, with more than 1.5 million legal immigrants entering the country every year, is the world’s ‘largest anti-poverty program’ at the expense of blue-collar American workers and the middle class, says Harvard University economist…George Borjas…Since 1965, we have admitted a lot of low-skilled immigrants, and one way to view that policy is that we were running basically the largest anti-poverty program in the world… someone is going to have to pay the cost for that.” The impact is seen in low wages. “When it comes to how much Americans have suffered because of mass immigration, Borjas says his ‘rule of thumb is that if immigration increases the number of workers by 10 percent, the wage of workers probably drops by about 3 percent.’ Borjas said that Americans are not only negatively impacted by immigration in the workforce but also in how much they must pay in social services for new arrivals. ‘The other big loss that we need to think about in terms of low-skill immigration is the increased cost of government services that we provide to them,’Borjas said. ”

Partisanship over Patriotism

The U.S. economy is beginning to rebound, following the replacement of a “big government” approach with a more traditional jobs and growth strategy. The concept of excess federal regulation was a key factor in the 2007 “Great Recession,” brought on by mandates requiring lending institutions to provide loans to those without the means to provide repayment.

However, surveys, particularly among the young, indicate that socialism remains popular.  A survey by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation  found that “…as of this year, more Millennials would prefer to live in a socialist country (44%) than in a capitalist one (42%). Some even said they would prefer to live in a communist country (7%). The percentage of Millennials who would prefer socialism to capitalism is a full ten points higher than that of the general population.It seems that the majority of America’s largest generation would prefer to live in a socialist or communism society than in a free enterprise system that respects the rule of law, private property, and limited government. This is even more disconcerting when coupled with the fact that, despite Millennials’ enthusiasm for socialism and communism, they do not, in fact, know what those terms mean.”

It would appear that the clear-cut disastrous consequences of a government-controlled economy in nations as diverse as the Soviet Union, North Korea, and Venezuela have no impact on the points of view of many.

In a similar vein, the effects of the past eight year’s reduction of investment in U.S. national security, combined with an international policy of appeasing opponents, has placed global affairs in a hazardous condition.  Nonetheless, numerous politicians and media pundits continue to oppose a return to an adequately financed military and a more results-oriented foreign affairs strategy.

While all this is going on, the now obvious foul play of the Clintons—particularly their uranium-related and email-related crimes were responded to with shrugs and excuses by many, although many now are beginning to approach that issue differently, but only because the latest revelations indicate that Bernie Sanders was among their victims.

There will, and should always be, different political, economic, and foreign policy strategies and philosophies.  But when the clear results of one approach have failed so spectacularly, it is appropriate to examine the logic of those who cling to a blatantly discredited perspective. But the gap between those adhering to viable policies and those that cling to obviously flawed concepts has grown to an unprecedented proportion, and it is appropriate to examine the reasons.

If young students returned home from school proclaiming that they had been taught that the Earth was flat, or that magic was real and science was a myth, parental outrage would be substantial.  Newspapers and other informational outlets that endorsed those concepts would be shunned.

Something quite similar is taking place in the fields of foreign affairs, history, economics, and civics, both in academia and the media. Reality is suppressed, and clear-cut examples are ignored in those areas.  This is not the result of ignorance; it is being done in the pursuit of ideological goals, at a fevered pitch that resembles war.  And, as in all wars, truth is the first casualty.

The warping of school curriculum, from first grade through graduate schools, in the pursuit of left-wing ideological goals has not produced the protest it truly warrants.

Partisanship has grown to epidemic proportions, and far too many Americans see fellow citizens of a different political persuasion as more of an “enemy” than those real threats from abroad.  During a 2016 presidential primary debate, Hillary Clinton, when asked to identify who she thought of as an “enemy” replied, Republicans!

That mindset explains much. For example, Bill Clinton, during his presidency, allowed the sale of supercomputers (which were used to modernize Beijing’s military) to China, during a period when that nation sought to assist his campaign efforts. Hillary Clinton, while secretary of state, sold the basic ingredient of nuclear weapons to the Russians. Neither elicited much outrage in the media, university campuses, or in the bulk of the media. The reason: the possibility of giving a public relations boost to the opposition party was seen as a greater problem than the weakening of America’s national security.

A powerful combination of ignorance, brought about by education overly influenced by progressive ideology and a media dominated by hard-core leftists, has endangered America and created an atmosphere in which loyalty to a political party or ideology has supplanted honest discourse and the good of the nation.

 

 

Kurdistan Independence, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its examination of  the case for an independent Kurdistan.

Secretary of State Tillerson,following a meeting with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani in Dohar on October 22, made it clear that the U.S. “did not support the Kurdish independence referendum. We did not believe it was time given that the battle to defeat ISIS is still underway. And while there have been significant victories and significant progress in Iraq, that task is not yet complete. And clearly, what we were concerned about is the referendum would lead to a distraction from the fight to defeat ISIS or Daesh…[Iraqi] Prime Minister Abadi has, I think, made it clear his commitment to follow through on those constitutional obligations, and we hope the Kurds will engage with Baghdad in a very productive way to see that the constitution is fully implemented. I think many of the Kurds’ concerns will be addressed through that process.”

Iraqi opposition to the potential independence of its Kurdish region has much to do with oil. The Kurdish Project  notes that “With a whopping 45 billion gallons of Kurdistan oil reserves, the Iraqi-Kurds hold almost a third of all of Iraq’s 150 billion gallons of untapped black gold. If the KRG autonomous region were a nation-state, it would rank 10th in the world for largest petrol reserves, coming in just after Libya. This makes Kurdish land a hot commodity in an already politically fiery region. The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Northern Iraq has more autonomy over their own oil politics and economics than other Kurdish regions. This independence can be attributed to the weakness of the post-war Iraqi government. Many argue that the KRG holds a more functional economic climate than its host.”

Within Iraq, however, one non-Kurdish group does appear to be a source of support for independence.  Many Iraqi Christians believe they could benefit from the move.  An interview with  the Secretary-General of Iraq’s small  Assyrian Bet al-Nahrain Democratic Party, Romeo Hakkari and  the Kurdish news source Kurdistan24, was described by Mewan Dolmari: “Hakkari…stated that Christians are with an independent Kurdistan Region that protects the right of all ethnic and religious groups in the Region, a democratic Kurdistan that defends minorities before Kurds…Hakkari …acknowledged the vital role of the President of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani in promoting harmony and coexistence in the Kurdistan Region. Importantly, he stated that Christians have always supported Kurdish independence, and Christians believe that they can attain more rights if and when the Kurdistan Region becomes an independent state, ‘When our Kurdish brothers achieve more rights [independence], the rights of other ethnic and religious groups will also increase…Christians are spread throughout the Kurdistan Region, mostly live in Ankawa area located in Erbil province. Assyrians and Chaldean Christians have five reserved seats in the Kurdistan Region Parliament. Christians are able to practice their religious beliefs without hindrance. During an official Christmas Day celebration broadcast on TV, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani stated, ‘Christians are not treated as minority in the region, and they are an indigenous people of the Kurdistan Region.’”

Turkey opposes the move as well. Writing for World Affairs, Michael Totten notes that “Turkey fears and loathes Kurdish independence anywhere in the world more than it fears and loathes anything else. Kurdish independence in Syria, from Ankara’s point of view, could at a minimum escalate a three-decades-long conflict and at worst threaten Turkey’s territorial integrity. Kurds make up between 15 and 25 percent of Turkey’s population, but no one knows for sure because the government outlaws ethnic classification. Most live in the southeast near the Syrian and Iraqi borders. Many would like to secede and form an independent state of their own.”

Syria also opposes Kurdish independence. Like Turkey, it fears Kurds within its own borders would follow suit, particularly since the nightmare regime of Bashar al-Assad, now strengthened thanks to Russian and Iranian assistance, is certainly an inducement to secession for any group that could muster the capability to do so.

Michael Rubin, writing for the American Enterprise Institute outlines the Iranian position: “The Iranian government has long opposed any Kurdish independence in Iraq, largely because they fear how the precedent might impact the Kurdish population in Iran. While no Middle Eastern country besides Israel has allowed true censuses in decades because of the sensitivity of the data for their own internal security, most geographers and anthropologists estimate that perhaps eight percent of Iranians speak Kurdish as their first language. Iran has a Kordestan province, but it encompasses only about half of the areas inside Iran in which Kurds predominate. Therefore, the idea that the Iraqi Kurdish referendum will include not only the Iraqi Kurdistan Region itself but neighboring provinces worries Tehran even more.”

Kurdish independence does have one regional friend—Israel. Jonah Mandel, in a Times of Israel article  explains that “ Israel has become the only country to openly support an independent Kurdish state, a result of good ties between Kurds and Jews and expectations that it would be a front against Iran and extremism, experts say… Israel became the first, and so far only, country to openly voice support for ‘the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own,’ as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said… To Gideon Sa’ar, a former Israeli minister for the Likud Party, who recently returned to politics after taking time out, the Kurds are a minority group in the Middle East that, unlike the Jews, have yet to achieve statehood. ‘The Kurds have been and will continue to be reliable and long-term allies of Israel since they are, like us, a minority group in the region,” he said.’”

Despite U.S. reluctance to support independence, a free Kurdish state would be beneficial to Washington’s goals. A New York Post article by Jonathon Tobin notes: “Kurdish independence could create a state that would act as a firewall against Iran’s quest for regional hegemony… A policy switch that encourages the Kurds could throw a monkey wrench into Iran’s plans to use its clients in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Hamas state in Gaza to create a sphere of influence that endangers America’s Arab allies and threatens Israel with a three-front war at any time of Iran’s choosing.”

Kurdistan Independence

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government examines the case for an independent Kurdistan.

Recently, Iraqi Kurdistan held a referendum on independence. According to Hndren Muhammad, the head of the Kurdistan Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission, the pro-independence side won an overwhelming victory.  There were 4,581,255 eligible voters, of which 3,305,925  cast ballots,  a turnout of 72.16 percent. 2,861,471 people voted Yes, (92.73 percent)  of the voters, against  224,468 No votes, (or  7.27 percent of the voters.)

Although it has gained significantly less attention than Spain’s Catalonia independence movement, the quest of the Kurdish people to form an independent nation, seceding from Iraq, is a far more compelling story.  As noted by several analysts, in contrast to the Palestinians, who have received far broader international support, the Kurds have a language and culture distinct from their Arab neighbors.

There is little in recent history to suggest that the Kurds have any affinity, or any possibility of any reconciliation, with an Iraqi state. The Kurdistan Regional Government  lists a few of the more salient incidents:
1971-1980: The Iraqi government expels more than 200,000 Faili (Shia) Kurds from Iraq.
1983: The Iraqi government disappears 8,000 boys and men from the Barzani clan. In 2005, 500 of them are found in mass graves near Iraq’s border with Saudi Arabia, hundreds of kilometres from the Kurdistan Region.
1987-1989: The Iraqi government carries out the genocidal Anfal campaign against Kurdistan’s civilians, of mass summary executions and disappearances, widespread use of chemical weapons, destruction of some 2,000 villages and of the rural economy and infrastructure. An estimated 180,000 are killed in the campaign.
1988: On 16 and 17 March 1988, Iraqi government airplanes drop chemical weapons on the town of Halabja. Between 4,000 and 5,000 people, almost all civilians, are killed.

By 1992, Kurds were essentially autonomous. Laurie Mylroie, writing for the Atlantic,  noted that in that year, “Iraq’s Kurds [were] effectively running their own affairs, administering a population of 3.5 million in a territory almost twice the size of Israel. They are doing so with considerable success, having managed the transition from authoritarian rule better than many others, including Afghans, Somalis, and the various peoples of the former Soviet Union…In Sulaimaniya, the largest and southernmost city under Kurdish control, I started to understand the remarkable social cohesion underlying the success of the Iraqi Kurds’ administration. Sulaimaniya’s police chief explained that there was, in fact, less crime now in northern Iraq than there had been under the Ba’ath. Thus policemen’s jobs had become easier. ‘Before, people didn’t trust the police and avoided them. Now they cooperate with us.’”

While Saddam is long gone, tensions between Kurds and the Iraqi government continue, and now that the common foe of ISIS has been largely defeated, those tensions have risen to the surface.

Alan Dershowitz also described the “Case for Kurdish Independence” in a Gatestone analysis: The independence referendum is an important step toward remedying a historic injustice inflicted on the Kurdish population in the aftermath of the First World War… the Iraqi Kurds have their own identity, practices, language and culture. They are a coherent nation with profound historical ties to their territory. They have their own national institutions that separate them from their neighbors, their own army (the Peshmerga) and their own oil and energy strategy. International law stipulated in Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, lays the foundation for the recognition of state sovereignty. The edict states: ‘the state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.’ The KRG meets these criteria…Moreover, the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq — the closest it has come to having its own state — has thrived and maintained relative peace and order against the backdrop of a weak, ineffectual Iraqi government and a brutal civil war. As such, it represents a semblance of stability in a region comprised of bloody violence, destruction and failed states.”

Predictably, Baghdad is not pleased with the results of the ballot, and the Iraqi government has made it clear that it will not recognize the legitimacy of it. Unlike the significant support by the international community for a Palestinian state, there is no widespread support for the arguably more appropriate Kurdish aspiration, Despite the potential viability and cohesiveness of an independent Kurdish state.

The Report concludes tomorrow.

The Left’s War on Science Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its review of  the policies and beliefs of the progressive left that clash with scientific reality, and the harm those policies have caused.

City Journal’s John Tierny, notes that Left-wing physicist John Holdren, who served for eight years as an advisor to President Obama, called for a “planetary regime” to control population and natural resources around the world.

Tierny worries that “Environmental science has become so politicized that its myths endure even after they’ve been disproved. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring set off decades of chemophobia with its scary anecdotes and bad science, like her baseless claim that DDT was causing cancer in humans and her vision of a mass avian die-off (the bird population was actually increasing as she wrote). Yet Silent Spring is taught in high school and college courses as a model of science writing, with no mention of the increased death tolls from malaria in countries that restricted DDT, or of other problems—like the spread of dengue and the Zika virus—exacerbated by needless fears of insecticides. Similarly, the Left’s zeal to find new reasons to regulate has led to pseudoscientific scaremongering about “Frankenfoods,” transfats, BPA in plastic, mobile phones, electronic cigarettes, power lines, fracking, and nuclear energy. The health establishment spent decades advocating a low-salt diet for everyone (and pressuring the food industry to reduce salt) without any proof that it prolonged lives. When researchers finally got around to doing small clinical trials, they found that the low-salt diet did not prolong lives. If anything, it was associated with higher mortality.”

Jenny Splitter, in a Science 2.0 article, also not someone who is biased towards conservative views (she noted that she supported much of Bernie Sanders platform) is concerned about the left’s scientific blindspots. She states that  Sanders views on agricultural and climate change policies, and alternative medicine, “aren’t really informed by science as much as they are by Sanders’ Vermont hippie vision for America…Sanders’s anti-nuclear stance isn’t particularly surprising when you consider what’s driving Sanders’ policies. The Sanders campaign isn’t about science advocacy; it’s a throwback to 1960s counter-culture. And just like 1960s counterculture, Sanders’ policies include hard-hitting political activism as well as dreamy hippie idealism…The idea that small farms and school vegetable gardens should serve as the backbone for a serious national agricultural policy is a regressive and anti-science way of thinking that pro-science progressives really should confront…..When it comes to the safety of biotechnology and transgenic crops, Sanders rejects scientific consensus completely…progressives and Sanders supporters need to confront regressive anti-science thinking in the progressive movement. Anti-GMO and anti-nuclear policies aren’t forward thinking, evidence-based policy solutions. They’re anti-science, rooted in fear and a derailment from the fight to advance meaningful progressive change in this country.”

MARGARET WENTE, in a 2014 Globe and Mail  article, described a whooping cough epidemic in California. “Not long ago, this ancient scourge had been banished by modern medicine. But now it’s back, thanks to people who believe modern medicine is dangerous…the progressive’s war on science…actually kills people. As Hank Campbell, co-author of the book Science Left Behindwrites, ‘Denying food, medicine and energy science, like progressives do, is costing lives.’”

It’s more than just food and vaccines. “The [progressive] war on fracking is also entirely ideological. Any new technology will have challenges, but the National Academy of Sciences, MIT, and other bodies with no axes to grind say that fracking is safe. Environmentalists should love it, because natural gas emits far less carbon than oil. Instead, they want to ban it. They’ve persuaded Nova Scotia and New Brunswick that it’s evil. Without fracking and without a pipeline to the east, Eastern Canada will keep importing foreign oil. Does that make sense? Only to progressives.”

Toby Young, in a Spectator analysis,  asks, “How much longer can the liberal left survive in the face of growing scientific evidence that many of its core beliefs are false?”

 

The Left’s War on Science

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government reviews the policies and beliefs of the progressive left that clash with scientific reality, and the harm those policies have caused.

America has generally been an optimistic nation, eager to employ scientific advances to move rapidly ahead. That inherent characteristic is now being challenged.

Campus Reform’s Toni Airaksinen reports that  Sara Giordano, a “ feminist professor at the University of California-Davis has vowed to ‘challenge the authority of Science’ by ‘rewriting knowledge’ through a feminist lens. Ms. Giordano “left the field of neuroscience to become a Women’s Studies professor. She believes ‘We need to disrupt the epistemic authority of Science…[and] the assumption that science = truth.”  She equates science with colonization, racism, and  slavery, and is currently being used to “perpetuate racism and colonial practices.”

Her views, were they restricted to just a few, would not be worrisome, but they are part of a larger trend, encompassing a wide swath of those on the extreme left.

Scientific American’s Michael Schermer maintains that there is a left-wing “ war on science.” Schermer, who is not a  conservative, points to a number of specific examples.

Leftists led an all-out assault against evolutionary psychology via such Orwellian-named far-left groups as Science for the People, he notes. “On energy issues, for example, progressive liberals tend to be antinuclear because of the waste-disposal problem, anti–fossil fuels because of global warming, antihydroelectric because dams disrupt river ecosystems, and anti–wind power because of avian fatalities…Try having a conversation with a liberal progressive about GMOs—genetically modified organisms—in which the words “Monsanto” and “profit” are not dropped like syllogistic bombs…The fact is that we’ve been genetically modifying organisms for 10,000 years through breeding and selection. It’s the only way to feed billions of people.”

Heather Heying, a former biology teacher,  recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal amusingly asks, “Who would have guessed that when America cleaved, the left would get the National Football League and the right would get uncontested custody of science?…What may not be obvious from outside academia is that this revolution is an attack on Enlightenment values: reason, inquiry and dissent. Extremists on the left are going after science. Why? Because science seeks truth, and truth isn’t always convenient…what is going on at institutions across the country is—yes—a culture war between science and postmodernism. The extreme left has embraced a facile fiction.In a meeting with administrators at Evergreen last May, protesters called, on camera, for college president George Bridges to target STEM faculty in particular for “antibias” training, on the theory that scientists are particularly prone to racism. ..unhooked from any expectation that they be put to the test of evidence.”

City Journal’s John Tierny, reports that “the Left has repeatedly skewed science over the past half-century. In 1965, when Daniel Patrick Moynihan published a paper presciently warning of the dangers for black children growing up in single-parent homes, it was greeted with such hostility…that the topic became off-limits among liberals, stymying public discussion and research for decades into one of the most pressing problems facing minority children. Similarly, liberal advocates have worked to suppress reporting on the problems of children raised by gay parents or on any drawbacks of putting young children in day care. In 1991, a leading family psychologist, Louise Silverstein, published an article in the American Psychologist urging her colleagues to ‘refuse to undertake any more research that looks for the negative consequences of other-than-mother-care.’..

Despite the dangerous, inhumane and deadly results of  placing leftist dogma over science, the practice continues. Tierney provides examples: “The work of left-wing population alarmists inspired China’s monstrous one-child policy, which included forced abortions and infanticide…”

But the horrid consequences of the left’s anti-science animus pre-dates Mao. The Eugenics movement, so beloved by progressive heroine Margaret Sanger, led to the the involuntary sterilization or castration of more than 35,000 Americans. “Even after Hitler,  [A National Socialist] used eugenics to justify killing millions, the Left didn’t lose its interest in controlling human breeding…Eugenicist thinking was revived by scientists convinced that the human species had exceeded the ‘carrying capacity’ of its ecosystem. The most prominent was Paul Ehrlich, whose scientific specialty was the study of butterflies. Undeterred by his ignorance of agriculture and economics, he published confident predictions of imminent global famine in The Population Bomb (1968). Agricultural economists dismissed his ideas, but the press reverently quoted Ehrlich and other academics who claimed to have scientifically determined that the Earth was ‘overpopulated.’”

 

The Report concludes tomorrow.