Cato Recent Op-eds The Cato Institute seeks to broaden the parameters of public policy debate to allow consideration of the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets and peace. Toward that goal, the Institute strives to achieve greater involvement of the intelligent, concerned lay public in questions of policy and the proper role of government. en House Passes Transportation Bill for the ‘20s. the 1920s, That Is. <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Randal O&#039;Toole</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The Investing in a&nbsp;New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (<a href="" target="_blank">INVEST</a>) in America Act passed by the House of Representatives last week is a&nbsp;transportation bill for the ‘20s — the 1920s, that is. The bill, which has yet to be considered by the Senate, would&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">massively increase</a>&nbsp;spending on obsolete forms of transportation that are irrelevant to most Americans.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The bill would quintuple federal subsidies to Amtrak and intercity passenger trains to nearly $10 billion a&nbsp;year. I&nbsp;love passenger trains more than most people, but unlike some I&nbsp;don’t think other taxpayers should be forced to subsidize my hobby.</p> <p>The bill would further increase federal subsidies to urban transit by 50 percent, to $21 billion a&nbsp;year, much of which would go for rail transit. It would also increase federal spending on highways, but with a&nbsp;poison pill: states will not be allowed to expand their highway systems until they get all of their existing roads and bridges in a&nbsp;state of good repair. While that sounds sensible, no similar requirement is applied to Amtrak or urban transit even though Amtrak has a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">$52 billion maintenance backlog</a>&nbsp;in the Boston‐​to‐​Washington corridor and transit agencies have a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">$100 billion backlog</a>&nbsp;(in today’s dollars), mostly for rail transit.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>The bill would massively increase spending on obsolete forms of transportation that are irrelevant to most Americans. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The state highway backlog is actually small as most bridges and roads that need maintenance are locally‐​owned (and even that is declining). But the fix‐​it‐​first requirement would impose needless red‐​tape on the states and could prevent necessary expansions in fast‐​growing regions.</p> <p>In short, the bill represents a&nbsp;strong bias towards intercity passenger trains and rail transit. That would make perfect sense in 1920, when American usage of both intercity passenger trains and urban rail transit peaked. But ridership of both declined through the 1920s as more people bought cars and buses replaced trains.</p> <p>In 1920, buses cost less to buy but more to operate per seat‐​mile than streetcars or passenger trains. But in 1927, a&nbsp;company called Twin Coach introduced the first bus that was less expensive to operate as well as less expensive to buy than railcars. Over the next decade, hundreds of streetcar companies replaced their streetcar lines with buses.</p> <p>The president of the Great Northern Railway, Ralph Budd, realized that buses were more economical than trains in short‐​haul service. In 1925, he bought a&nbsp;small bus company called Northland Transportation and gave it millions of dollars to expand. The company soon changed its name to Greyhound. A&nbsp;few years later, when Budd was president of the Chicago, Burlington &amp;&nbsp;Quincy, he helped start Trailways.</p> <p>In 1949, Budd was made chairman of the board of the Chicago Transit Authority, which was trying to operate streetcars and elevated trains without taxpayer subsidies. Budd quickly figured out that buses were more economical than streetcars and scrapped all of CTA’s streetcar lines, and even some of its elevated lines, and replaced them with Twin Coach buses.</p> <p>In 2018, according to the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Department of Transportation</a>, urban transit carried 1.0 percent of all surface (that is, non‐​air) passenger travel in the United States, of which 0.6 percent was rail transit. Amtrak carried 0.1 percent. Even in the Boston‐​to‐​Washington corridor, Amtrak carried only about 6&nbsp;percent of intercity travel.</p> <p>Cars and light trucks, meanwhile, moved well over 90 percent of passenger travel, with the remainder divided among non‐​transit buses and motorcycles. Highways also moved close to 40 percent of freight ton‐​miles.</p> <p>Despite transit’s and Amtrak’s insignificance, the House bill would give 22 percent of federal funds to transit and 12 percent to intercity passenger trains. This is futile: since 1970, the nation’s taxpayers have spent more than $1.5 trillion propping up intercity passenger trains and urban rail transit, yet per capita ridership of both has declined by about a&nbsp;third.</p> <p>Proponents say the government should emphasize these outmoded forms of travel because they are supposedly more energy efficient and climate‐​friendly. Yet transit uses more energy, per passenger mile, than the average car in all but 4&nbsp;out of more than 400 urban areas with transit systems, and it emits more greenhouse gases than the average car in all but eight of those urban areas. Amtrak is also inefficient outside the Boston‐​to‐​Washington corridor.</p> <p>In the few places where transit and Amtrak are greener than driving, it is usually because they use electrical energy in states that rely heavily on by nuclear or hydroelectric power plants. Driving an electric car would do just as well.</p> <p>The INVEST Act was designed for a&nbsp;century ago. It’s time to let go of the past and write a&nbsp;bill for the future.</p> </div> Randal O’Toole is a&nbsp;senior fellow with the Cato Institute specializing in transportation policy and the author of&nbsp;<a href="">Romance of the Rails</a>: Why the Passenger Trains We Love Are Not the Transportation We Need. Fri, 10 Jul 2020 10:25:24 -0400 Randal O'Toole Italy’s ‘Mother of All Reforms’ Will Remain Childless <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Alberto Mingardi</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Milan — The first time I&nbsp;heard an Italian politician promise to slash red tape, I&nbsp;was 13. It was 1994 and, with great fanfare, Silvio Berlusconi had injected the Reagan‐​esque language of bureaucratic reform into Italian politics.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>It was a&nbsp;theme&nbsp;<a href="">the four‐​time prime minister</a>&nbsp;and his successors would return to over and over again. As the economist Nicola Rossi&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">recently noted,</a>&nbsp;over the last 30&nbsp;years, Italy has introduced 10 much‐​talked‐​about “simplification reforms” and “reforms of the public administration” in 1990, 1993, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2014.</p> <p>And yet, none of these resulted in an actual, substantive deregulation effort.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s ‘simplification’ effort is unlikely to kickstart economic growth. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>It’s in this context that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s “mother of all reforms” should be considered.&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Approved by the Cabinet</a>&nbsp;in the early hours of Tuesday morning, it has been presented as a “revolution” that will “cut red tape” and “get the country moving again.”</p> <p>If only.</p> <p>Italy has&nbsp;<a href="">long been considered</a>&nbsp;a&nbsp;country where the rule of law is weak and an excessively complex regulatory framework discourages investors. The Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom assigns Italy a&nbsp;score of 51.3 (out of 100) in judicial effectiveness. The World Bank’s Doing Business project periodically reminds Italy of its weakness in how people deal with construction permits (68.3/100) and in the complex procedures related to the payment of taxes (64/100).</p> <p>There are those in Italy who cheerfully dismiss these rankings as contrivances of an evil neoliberal establishment. Talk with ordinary people, then.</p> <p>Virtually any Italian who has a&nbsp;little property, let alone a&nbsp;small business, can expound on the many permits and authorizations he had to seek, even for the smallest improvement to his apartment or the simplest innovation in his production method.</p> <p>Call it the 12 tasks of Mario Rossi (the name Italians give to the everyman).</p> <p>One task might be to find permit “A-38” in a&nbsp;maze‐​like building, where the bureaucrats continuously send the citizen from office to office, seeking one document that will lead to another, and then another, along the trail of the document he actually needs. (Some readers might recognize this as&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">the plot</a>&nbsp;of an Asterix comic.)</p> <p>And yet, that’s not the problem the Conte government has decided to tackle.</p> <p>Instead of trying to make the lives of&nbsp;<em>businesses</em>&nbsp;easier, the government seems to have decided that it’s the lives of the&nbsp;<em>bureaucrats</em>&nbsp;that ought to be simplified.</p> <p>The proposed “simplification plan” is 48 articles long and deals with a&nbsp;host of issues. It contains some improvements such as an attempt to introduce digital procedures to streamline approvals for new buildings.</p> <p>But its essence pertains to public procurement and public tenders. In short, the government wants to make it easier to award contracts without a&nbsp;competitive bidding process. Competitive tenders will still be required for any investment higher than €5 million. Under that threshold, you could have a&nbsp;competition limited to five bidders (for sums of more than €150,000) or award contracts directly for smaller projects.</p> <p>This is no way to relaunch the Italian economy — unless you believe that it’s public works, and public works only, that will spur growth.</p> <p>Don’t expect real change from what is, after all, yet another long, convoluted law. For genuine deregulation, Italy will need clear, simple, certain legislation that makes life easier for business by making it clear and apparent who are their interlocutors in the public administration. Processes need to be streamlined. And the burden of proof for denying permits should be shifted off the shoulders of entrepreneurs and onto the state’s.</p> <p>But reforms like that would take real political capital and courage, as well as a&nbsp;clear vision for the future of the country — none of which Conte’s government&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">has shown</a>&nbsp;any evidence of having.</p> <p>“Simplifying” regulations is a&nbsp;euphemism for forcing some people or businesses to relinquish power. Specifically, it implies entrusting more power to individuals and businesses, and less to the government. This requires experience in drafting legislation, but it’s also a&nbsp;clear ideological choice — one that runs counter to the direction Conte is heading.</p> <p>After all, this is the government that has seized on the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to increase reliance on the state by Italian citizens, feeding ever‐​growing expectations of government support that will hopefully be financed by the European Union’s recovery fund.</p> <p>Berlusconi’s Reagan‐​esque language ended up being nothing more than words. Given the Conte government’s track record, it would be foolish to expect anything different this time around.</p> </div> Alberto Mingardi is director general of Istituto Bruno Leoni in Milan, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, an associate professor at IULM University in Milan and a&nbsp;presidential fellow at Chapman University. Thu, 09 Jul 2020 11:32:29 -0400 Alberto Mingardi Congress Plays Hardball to Keep American Troops Overseas <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Doug Bandow</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The Europeans collectively have 11 times the GDP and three times the population of Russia. Germany has the world’s fourth largest economy, alone two and a&nbsp;half times the size of Russia’s.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Yet the Europeans affect to be helpless, vulnerable to attack by a&nbsp;revived Red Army. No European government spends much more than two percent of GDP on the military, not even the Baltic States and Poland, which squeal the most frequently and loudly about evil hordes massing just over the border. At least France and Great Britain have competent forces, though not directed at Moscow. Germany devotes just 1.38 percent of its GDP to a&nbsp;military far from battle‐​ready. Italy and Spain barely bother to maintain armed forces. And then there are nations like Luxembourg.</p> <p>So why is it America’s responsibility to protect countries well able to defend themselves but not interested in doing so? Worse, why are U.S. policymakers constantly reassuring the Europeans that no matter how little they do Washington will always be there, ready to save them? Why have lawmakers, elected to represent the American people, turned NATO into a&nbsp;defense dole for what Ronald Reagan today might call foreign welfare queens?</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>The U.S. should not prop up NATO allies who are unwilling to invest in their own defense. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>To his credit, President Donald Trump has sharply criticized allies which prefer to leave the heavy lifting to Washington. Alas, his methods are dubious and have had little effect. Their small increases in military spending began before he was elected. His officials have thwarted his policies by increasing U.S. support for NATO, even expanding the alliance to such military behemoths as Montenegro and North Macedonia.</p> <p>Most bizarre is Congress’s determination to always stand with European officials, who, in sharp contrast, put their own nations first. Legislators constantly ignore the plight of American taxpayers, who are expected to keep funding prosperous, populous allies which believe they have better things to do than enlarging and improving their militaries. Like preserving largescale social welfare programs at U.S. expense.</p> <p>For instance, the president’s determination to pull 9500 U.S. personnel out of Germany caused congressmen, Republicans and Democrats alike, to go, well, completely nuts. In their view the president was inviting Vladimir Putin to invade Europe and conquer most of the known world. They imagined that a&nbsp;new Dark Ages was descending, the world was about to end, and the lion was poised to eat the lamb.</p> <p>So, naturally, leading lawmakers are scheming to block the move, in order to ensure that the Europeans need never be bothered to take care of themselves. Sen. Mitt Romney (R‐​Utah) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R‐​Tex.) have proposed barring the use of funds to remove any troops. That is, at a&nbsp;time of budget crisis they want to keep more U.S. money&nbsp;<em>flowing into Germany</em>, rewarding a&nbsp;government dedicated to focus on its economy and society while expecting Americans to do the military defending.</p> <p>Who do Romney and Thornberry believe they are representing? Why do they care more about German than American taxpayers?</p> <p>Republicans also are taking the lead in the Democratic‐​controlled House to sacrifice American interests for foreign governments. For instance, Rep. Liz Cheney (R‐​Wyoming), daughter of “I had other priorities” Dick Cheney, who avoided serving in Vietnam before plotting numerous wars for today’s young, backed a&nbsp;Democratic proposal to limit further withdrawals from Afghanistan, where Americans have been engaged in a&nbsp;nearly 20‐​year nation‐​building mission. The measure passed by a&nbsp;45 to 11 vote: members of both countries seem determined to keep Americans forever fighting in Central Asia. They care more for the corrupt, incompetent regime in Kabul than America service members and taxpayers. In contrast, the president, despite his halting, inconsistent policy, better represents this nation’s interests.</p> <p>The opposition to the president’s plan for getting out of Afghanistan was modest compared to the hysteria that consumed Washington when he ordered U.S. forces home from Syria. Unsurprisingly, though unfortunately, legislators took the lead in opposing his plan to focus on the interests of Americans.</p> <p>For instance, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R‐​Ill) complained that Trump’s refusal to keep the U.S. forever entangled in another nation’s civil war, tragic but irrelevant to American security, was “weak.” Sen. Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) pushed a&nbsp;resolution criticizing the president. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued the standard yet mindless response to every proposal to disengage from anywhere: the president should “exercise American leadership.” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, apparently (and thankfully) defeated in the recent primary by a&nbsp;young progressive, similarly complained that “At President Trump’s hands, American leadership has been laid low.” For all of them, “American leadership” apparently requires engaging in perpetual war on behalf of foreign governments and interests, irrespective of the human and financial cost to this nation.</p> <p>It is hard to imagine a&nbsp;deployment more antithetical to U.S. security. In Syria Americans are occupying a&nbsp;foreign nation, expected to oust the incumbent government, fight jihadists created by Washington’s invasion of the country next door, force out personnel from Iran and Russia invited in by the legitimate government to battle insurgents supported by the U.S., and forever protect ethnic fighters considered to be an existential threat by the neighboring state, a&nbsp;NATO ally. All this is to be done through an illegal intervention, lacking both domestic and international legal authority. Yet the congressmen so determined to block the president are unwilling to commit themselves and vote to authorize the deployment. Apparently they fear having to justify their bizarre behavior to their constituents who are paying the price of their perverted priorities. A&nbsp;cynic might think U.S. legislators to be both policy morons and political cowards.</p> <p>Congress has similarly sought to inhibit any effort by the president to withdraw troops from South Korea. Last year’s National Defense Authorization Act set a&nbsp;floor for U.S. troop deployments in the Republic of Korea. The 2020 NDAA raised the number, essentially prohibiting any reduction in current deployments. According to Congress, the Pentagon must forever provide a&nbsp;specific level of military welfare for one of the world’s most prosperous and industrialized states.</p> <p>Americans should ask when legislators will be as solicitous of American military personnel and taxpayers as of the ROK government. The South enjoys roughly 53 times the economic strength and twice the population of North Korea. If Seoul needs more troops for its defense,&nbsp;<em>why doesn’t it raise them</em>? Why are Americans expected to pay for what South Koreans should be doing?</p> <p>Of course, the president is not innocent of the temptation to do the bidding of foreign leaders instead of the American people. He appears to be in essentially full thrall of several foreign dictators and other master manipulators, including Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al‐​Sisi, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi Arabia’s Mohamed bin Salman.</p> <p>In the last case Congress has taken the unusual stance of challenging the president for his unnatural obeisance to a&nbsp;foreign ruler. The U.S. continues to arm and assist the Saudi royals in their murderous campaign of aggression against their neighbor, Yemen, in order to reinstall a&nbsp;pliant regime prepared to carry out Saudi policy. The war has resulted in a&nbsp;humanitarian catastrophe in what already was one of the world’s poorest nations. The Saudi intervention also triggered a&nbsp;sectarian war, giving Iran an excellent opportunity to bleed the ineffective Saudi military, which has proved to be competent at little more than bombing weddings and funerals, destroying apartments and markets, and slaughtering civilians. It is difficult to imagine an intervention more antithetical to American interests. Here, unusually, Congress is on the right side.</p> <p>Candidate George W. Bush advocated a “humble foreign policy,” a&nbsp;position he forgot after 9/11. Instead, he decided to try to reorder the world, determined to create a&nbsp;liberal, modern state in Central Asia and turn Iraq into the sort of de facto colony that Neoconservatives imagined a&nbsp;proper Arab nation should be. The result was little short of a&nbsp;catastrophe.</p> <p>The next president should turn genuine humility into policy. And challenge Congress to abandon its pretensions of global social engineering, ignoring differences in history, interest, geography, religion, ethnicity, culture, and more. Instead of playacting as 535 secretaries of state, legislators should focus on protecting America, its territory, population, prosperity, and liberties.</p> <p>A good starting point would be to stop treating the Defense Department as another welfare agency, only for foreign governments. America’s wealthy friends should do what serious nations have down throughout history: defend themselves.</p> </div> Doug Bandow is a&nbsp;Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A&nbsp;former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire. Thu, 09 Jul 2020 08:48:38 -0400 Doug Bandow When George W. Bush Aides Back Joe Biden, You Know the Presidential Campaign Is Getting Ugly <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Doug Bandow</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The 2020 election campaign is likely to get much uglier before November 3rd. Both parties face internal wars that will shape future U.S. foreign policy.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>In Democratic primaries younger progressive candidates continue to challenge establishment paladins. And leading members of the bipartisan War Party continue to fall. The latest Bigfoot loss appears to be Eliot Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Out will go a&nbsp;reliable hawk and Israel ally, replaced by a&nbsp;younger member critical of endless war and lawmaking for foreign interests. Engel’s loss also could result in a&nbsp;committee leader more skeptical of reflexive intervention.</p> <p>Unfortunately, no such ferment is happening within the more reliably hawkish GOP congressional caucus. Other than a&nbsp;few outliers such as Sen. Rand Paul, Republicans are not just avowed interventionists but genuine warmongers. For instance, in 2017 Sen. Lindsey Graham lightheartedly dismissed the possibility of nuclear war on the Korean peninsula as being “over there” rather than “over here.”</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Both parties face internal wars that will shape future U.S. foreign policy. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>However, insufficient enthusiasm for war might cost President Donald Trump some traditional GOP support. Although John Bolton said he is not prepared to vote for Joe Biden — apparently economic and social issues matter too much to Bolton — some Republican hawks are turning to the presumptive Democratic nominee. Indeed, a&nbsp;new SuperPAC, “43 Alumni for Biden,” is set to launch, supposedly backed by “hundreds” of George W. Bush (the 43rd president) appointees. They emphasize foreign policy.</p> <p>The former president probably won’t be involved. The<em>&nbsp;New York Times</em>&nbsp;reported that Bush won’t vote for Trump and brother Jeb is undecided. However, the former president’s aides said he hadn’t said anything on the issue. That would be consistent with his silence during the Obama years.</p> <p>However, Bush’s former appointees aren’t holding back. Jennifer Millikin, a&nbsp;Bush apparatchik at the General Services Administration, said of Trump: “The president is a&nbsp;danger.” Reuters reported: “Dozens of Republican former national security officials are set to back Biden, claiming that Trump is a&nbsp;threat to US security, people involved in the effort told Reuters.”</p> <p>President Donald Trump’s failings are obvious to all. He has yet to halt any of the “endless wars” which he criticized. He risked conflict with North Korea before changing course and nearly triggered hostilities with Iran, which would have been a&nbsp;disaster for Americans in while serving the interests of Saudi Arabia and Israel. Nevertheless, as Bush alumni climb into the electoral ring, it is worth remembering how they and their boss viewed and implemented “national security.” The result was not pretty.</p> <p>George W. Bush has been called the country’s worst president. He certainly is in the running. However, the competition, going back more than two centuries, is quite stiff. Woodrow Wilson is my candidate, for taking the US into World War I, a&nbsp;ridiculous murderfest — Europeans called it a&nbsp;sausage or meat grinder — among imperial powers that did not concern America. The conflict loosed fascism, Nazism, and communism and led to World War II. Besides helping cause the death of tens of millions of people, Wilson was a&nbsp;sanctimonious, pompous, arrogant racist who jailed critics and eviscerated civil liberties to advance his plan to reorder the entire globe.</p> <p>The impact of Bush’s crimes didn’t turn out to be quite that disastrous.</p> <p>Still, he failed at what he claimed was his most important success, keeping “America safe.” He was president during 9/11, his officials having dismissed warnings of the extraordinary terrorist attack to come. Indeed, when running in 2016 Trump unkindly pointed out this fact. That spoiled the Republican candidates’ partisan lovefest for Bush, led by brother Jeb. Trump declared that the emperor had no clothes.</p> <p>Of course, Bush could claim that most of the blame for 9/11 went to prior presidents, who bombed, invaded, and occupied other nations, supported multiple dictatorships over oppressed peoples, and underwrote decades of occupation and repression by a&nbsp;nominal democracy that imposed military rule over millions of conquered people. However, Bush doubled down on all of those policies while announcing to the world that bad guys targeted America because we were so special, both virtuous and free, innocents abused and mistreated by an unfair world. He knew nothing and learned even less.</p> <p>His campaign to protect the homeland sacrificed civil liberties and relied on torture. He treated the presidency as an elective dictatorship, with the president empowered to order the arrest and isolation of Americans in America. Abuse of foreign detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib and existence of secret prisons elsewhere embarrassed Washington and sullied the nation’s reputation around the world.</p> <p>Although much has been written of Donald Trump’s ignorance, Bush also had a&nbsp;reputation for preferring short and uncomplicated intelligence briefings. He responded to a&nbsp;negative report from the Baghdad CIA station chief by asking if the man was “a defeatist.” The 9/11 Commission reported that “the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non‐​existent.” Secretary of State Colin Powell was directed to make a&nbsp;statement before the UN Security Council that turned out to be false in almost every particular. While not limited to foreign policy, the description by James Traub of the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;magazine seemed particularly apt: “George Bush is a&nbsp;craven, lazy, hypocritical nitwit.”</p> <p>Unsurprisingly, Bush’s “Global War on Terror” spawned new and even more virulent terrorists — especially al‐​Qaeda in Iraq, which morphed into the Islamic State. The victims of this vile force were primarily Iraqis and Syrians, who first were overrun by Islamists intent on creating a&nbsp;totalitarian caliphate and next bombed by Washington as it sought to eradicate the new ISIS state that it had enabled. Bush’s GWOT bizarrely lived on through the Obama and Trump administrations, which fraudulently used Bush’s campaign to claim legal authority for wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq (again!), and Yemen going back to 9/11.</p> <p>The war in Iraq, which Trump also criticized, but then‐​Sen. Joe Biden voted for, is widely recognized as the most serious geopolitical mistake that America made in decades, at least going back to the Vietnam War, and probably before. The latter had horrific humanitarian effects, but only limited geopolitical impacts. The falling dominoes stopped at Cambodia and Laos. Shortly afterwards Mao died and China retreated from decades of radical madness. Within a&nbsp;few years Hanoi was battling China and urging Americans to return. A&nbsp;few more years and the Soviet Union dissolved. The Vietnam War was awful, misguided, and wrong but seems to have receded into history.</p> <p>In Iraq, in contrast, the mass killings, sectarian conflict, and bloody ethnic/​religious cleansing remain fresh. Violent radicalism was loosed from a&nbsp;geopolitical Pandora’s Box, and since has been transformed, not eradicated. Tehran’s influence dramatically increased, with Iraq caught in between America and Iran. The rise of ISIS and other Islamic radicals spread to Syria and beyond. While it is impossible to know what Iraq would look like today had America not invaded 17&nbsp;years ago, Hussein likely would have been out of power without the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, displacement of millions of people, mass destruction across much of the country, and destabilization throughout the region. Tragically, the war is Bush’s malign gift that keeps on giving.</p> <p>Afghanistan was Bush’s other great failure. If he really was focused on al‐​Qaeda, he could have launched a&nbsp;limited punitive operation targeting Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, followed by a&nbsp;swift withdrawal. Instead, he turned to nation building — really nation creating — attempting to establish a&nbsp;centralized liberal democracy in Central Asia. Nearly two decades, endless destruction, and thousands of civilian lives later American troops are still on station, tasked with protecting a&nbsp;dysfunctional regime and faux democracy undermined by pervasive corruption and endemic incompetence. When I&nbsp;visited a&nbsp;decade ago even Kabul was still dangerous. Yet everyone drove to the airport. Today the US embassy views the capital as too menacing for street travel and sends its employees via helicopter. So much for winning the war.</p> <p>No where did Bush‐​the‐​younger challenge the usual failed conventional wisdom. Filled with hubris from his presumed Iraq victory he rejected Tehran’s offer to discuss all issues. So Iran expanded and accelerated its nuclear energy program, which caused hysteria in Washington. Even though the Neoconservative hawks with whom Bush filled his administration campaigned for war, the Iraq disaster precluded that option. But he put another round of sanctions on Iran, which helped lead to the crisis today.</p> <p>Like his predecessors, Bush subordinated US Mideast policy to the demands of Saudi Arabia and Israel. Indeed, he was particularly solicitous of the Saudi royal family, covering up the kingdom’s connections with al‐​Qaeda and allowing Riyadh to fly Saudis home while Americans were grounded in the aftermath of 9/11. After catering to the regime’s whims he claimed as an achievement encouraging “valued partners like Saudi Arabia to move toward freedom.”</p> <p>He finished the Clinton administration’s illegal war against Serbia and amputation of the territory of Kosovo by recognizing the latter’s independence, which offered Russia a&nbsp;useful precedent for aiding the secession of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia. Bush continued NATO’s reckless expansion and pushed to include both Georgia and Ukraine, redlines for Moscow. With John McCain pushing for confrontation during the Russo‐​Georgia war, the Bush administration considered bombing advancing Russian troops, before good sense prevailed.</p> <p>Bush campaigned for a “humble” foreign policy. But his response to 9/11 was unbridled hubris and a&nbsp;campaign of social engineering that ignored culture, ethnicity, geography, history, politics, religion, and more. His failure seems inevitable. But the spectacular magnitude of the fiasco was his fault alone.</p> <p>Of course, the mere fact that many of the architects and apparatchiks of this policy back Biden doesn’t guarantee that the Democrat will follow in Bush’s footsteps. However, Biden always has been an enthusiastic international meddler. And despite his effort to attract Bernie Sanders’ voters, the presumptive Democratic nominee has done little to moderate his interventionist tendencies.</p> <p>Instead, Biden has criticized Trump from the right on China, North Korea, and Russia. The ongoing migration of Bush hawks makes Biden even more likely to attack Trump for being insufficiently warlike.</p> <p>Generational change may eventually break the War Party’s near‐​death grip on American politics. But Biden should accelerate that process by updating his worldview for reality — and listening to the new generation of Democratic progressives, who are increasingly likely to carry their party with them in future years.</p> </div> Doug Bandow is a&nbsp;Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A&nbsp;former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire. Wed, 08 Jul 2020 11:41:20 -0400 Doug Bandow The High Risk of Learning the Wrong China Lessons <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Scott Lincicome</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Everywhere you look in Washington these days, you’ll find a&nbsp;China hawk. Many, however, look upon China’s recent and obvious economic, foreign policy, human rights, and public health offenses and point fingers not at Beijing but inward at U.S. policymakers from decades ago. In particular, a&nbsp;bipartisan chorus of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">politicians</a>,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">think tankers</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">presidential advisers</a>&nbsp;decry the 2000 U.S. law that granted China “permanent normal trade relations” (PNTR) and China’s 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), and blame it for both the country’s rise and the now‐​famous “China Shock”—the period between 1999 and 2011 during which a&nbsp;sizeable increase in Chinese imports supposedly destroyed approximately 2.4 million U.S. jobs. They’ve in turn used this “mistake,” to justify grand rethinks of current U.S. foreign and economic policy—including&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">withdrawal</a>&nbsp;from the WTO itself. Since we got China so wrong, critics argue, we clearly must abandon traditional U.S. positions on not only China but also trade agreements, industrial policy, labor policy, and international engagement more broadly.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>The trendy view of U.S.–China economic engagement lends itself to policy “fixes” that could make things worse, not better, for both the United States and the world. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The trendy view of U.S.–China economic engagement&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">errs repeatedly</a>, and in doing so risks new U.S. policies that “fix” a “problem” of limited actual import and which could make things worse, not better, for both the United States and the world.</p> <p>For starters, a&nbsp;comprehensive economic and historical accounting of China’s WTO accession and the China Shock collapses the hawkish caricature of a&nbsp;naïve U.S. government fueling the destruction of the American workforce in the idealistic hope of Chinese democratization.&nbsp;<a href="">Numerous</a>&nbsp;<a href="">studies</a>&nbsp;<a href="">completed</a>&nbsp;<a href="">since</a>&nbsp;<a href="">the original</a>&nbsp;<a href="">China</a>&nbsp;<a href="">Shock</a>&nbsp;research&nbsp;reveal fewer American jobs lost; significant consumer benefits in terms of lower prices and increased variety; substantial employment gains in services and export‐​oriented industries; and net economic benefits for the U.S. manufacturing sector and the country as a&nbsp;whole. Even if one were to treat the China Shock as economic gospel and pin most job‐​losses on PNTR, moreover, perspective on this damage is sorely needed: the 2&nbsp;million American jobs destroyed over a&nbsp;12‐​year period are less than the average&nbsp;<em>weekly</em>&nbsp;unemployment filings in April through June of this year, and even in normal times, the 1&nbsp;million manufacturing jobs attributable to the China Shock would constitute less than 20 percent of all such losses (and less than 5&nbsp;percent of all job losses) over the same period. Does&nbsp;<em>that</em>&nbsp;demand radical policy changes?</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Recent</a>&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">analyses</a>&nbsp;also show that U.S. low‐​skill manufacturing employment and “late stage” industries with routine, standardized processes likely would have suffered the same fate in the last two decades,&nbsp;<em>regardless of the China Shock</em>, due to non‐​trade issues like automation and competition from other developing countries. In fact, the data show that manufacturing jobs as a&nbsp;share of the U.S. workforce experienced only a&nbsp;modest change in their downward trend before and after China entered the WTO, and that Chinese imports replaced&nbsp;<em>other imports</em>&nbsp;(particularly those from Asia),&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;domestic production, between 1990 and 2017.</p> <p>These numbers answer a&nbsp;counterfactual question that economic nationalists and other PNTR critics rarely ask:&nbsp;<em>what would have happened without the China Shock</em>? The data indicate that Chinese import restrictions would not have saved most of the U.S. manufacturing jobs destroyed between 1999 and 2011—they would have simply changed the destroyer to other things, including non‐​China imports. This is precisely what officials in the George W. Bush administration saw in their data at the time, and exactly what happened when the Obama administration blocked Chinese tire imports under the special “safeguard” mechanism agreed as part of China’s WTO accession: instead of China tariffs boosting domestic production, imports simply shifted to non‐​China sources (while prices, of course, increased). This “trade diversion” also resulted from the hundreds of “trade remedy” duties that the U.S. imposed on Chinese imports since 2001.</p> <p>Other facets of China’s WTO accession also defy conventional wisdom. For starters, PNTR did not actually open the United States to Chinese imports: in every year since 1980, China faced no greater trade barriers than other (“most favored”) U.S. trading partners; Chinese imports were already increasing substantially before PNTR; and economic, historical, and anecdotal evidence show the probability of congressional revocation of China’s trade status to have evaporated by the late 1990s. At most, PNTR merely accelerated a&nbsp;bilateral economic integration that was already well underway. (By contrast, China’s WTO accession&nbsp;<em>did</em>&nbsp;open China: average tariffs dropped from around 40 percent in the early ‘90s to less than 9&nbsp;percent in 2006.)</p> <p>It is also a&nbsp;myth that the United States rubber‐​stamped Chinese WTO accession due to its dreams of Chinese democratization. Yes, as Dan Drezner&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">recently noted</a>&nbsp;on these pages, American policymakers did hope that China’s very real economic liberalization would produce political liberalization as well, but this hope was&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;the primary motivation for U.S. policy,&nbsp;<em>nor</em>&nbsp;did it cause Washington to go easy on Beijing.&nbsp;Instead, China’s WTO accession took more than 15&nbsp;years and required dozens of intergovernmental meetings, negotiating texts, and Chinese economic reforms (not just the aforementioned tariff reductions)—reforms shown to have been so significant as to have fueled China’s post‐​WTO export competitiveness. The United States, meanwhile, was the final holdout among large industrialized nations to approve China’s WTO accession via bilateral negotiations, demanding ever more concessions from the Chinese government—including the right to impose special duties on Chinese imports—over a&nbsp;contentious 13‐​year negotiation. Key Clinton administration speeches and policy documents also demonstrate that U.S.–Chinese engagement was primarily a&nbsp;pragmatic decision to achieve commercial and foreign policy objectives, not “democratization.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Indeed, based on the facts at the time, Washington policymakers had little choice when deciding whether to pass PNTR. Every other WTO member had done so years earlier; China was a&nbsp;growing, billion‐​person nuclear power reforming economically; annual NTR approvals would have almost certainly continued; and, even with higher U.S. tariffs, globalization (plus U.S. customs law) would have still allowed Chinese goods to enter the United States as parts of “non‐​Chinese” products. Rejecting PNTR would therefore have punished U.S. companies, heightened diplomatic tensions, and denied the U.S. government a&nbsp;new venue to press for reforms—all while failing to prevent China’s rise. Thus, the&nbsp;<em>actual alternatives to PNTR</em>—another counterfactual that critics don’t consider—would have been economically and geopolitically inferior.&nbsp;</p> <p>The current obsession with China’s WTO entry also ignores myriad U.S. policy failures that actually&nbsp;<em>did</em>&nbsp;enable China or harm American companies and workers. Most notably, successive U.S. administrations pursued far too few WTO disputes in response to real Chinese trade infractions, despite the fact that global trade rules discipline key irritants like industrial subsidies and intellectual property, and that aggressive litigation has proven effective in curbing Chinese abuses. Other U.S. policy failures include the United States’ withdrawal from the Trans‐​Pacific Partnership, a&nbsp;treaty that was designed in part to counterbalance China’s economic and geopolitical ambitions; its failure to reform tax, trade, and immigration policies that inhibit American companies’ global competitiveness; its failure to modernize adjustment assistance and worker retraining programs intended to mitigate trade, technological, or cultural disruptions; or its continued imposition of tax, education, occupational licensing, criminal justice, zoning, and other policies that leave American workers unprepared to compete in a&nbsp;global economy or discourage adjustment and recovery when disruptions occur.&nbsp;</p> <p>All of these policies are indeed worthy of criticism and debate, but they have nothing to do with the decisions to pass PNTR, allow China to join the WTO, or otherwise “normalize” trade with China. And blaming China for these policies’ failures relieves them—and their political shepherds—of needed attention and reform, while also risking the wrong answers to complex cultural, economic and geopolitical issues.</p> <p>Such increasingly common “answers” are precisely why it is critical to have an accurate account of long‐​past events (experts uniformly agree that the China Shock ended years ago). China’s rise and the bilateral relationship arguably present this generation’s most pressing geopolitical issue, and the Communist Party’s human rights abuses, territorial expansionism, global health transgressions, and economic reversals deserve American scorn and response. Just as real and important are the seismic labor market and cultural disruptions that have upended many American families and communities. The proposed solutions to these problems, however, should stand on their own merit, not by pretending that they are an essential correction of the “mistakes” of PNTR and economic engagement with China more broadly. Doing so relieves such plans of the scrutiny they deserve, and could lead to truly bad governance: increasing U.S. protectionism and nativism, fomenting armed conflict, ignoring past policy mistakes, and thwarting a&nbsp;political consensus for real policy solutions to very real challenges—including and especially China.</p> </div> Scott Lincicome is a&nbsp;senior fellow in economic studies at the Cato Institute and a&nbsp;Senior Visiting Lecturer at Duke University Law School. Wed, 08 Jul 2020 11:17:26 -0400 Scott Lincicome WTO Signals National Security No Longer Trump Card in Trade Disputes <p><a href="" hreflang="und">James Bacchus</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Eastern states has added further refutation of the view of the Trump Administration that the WTO cannot second‐​guess sovereign states when they restrict trade for what they claim are reasons of national security.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>In a&nbsp;case brought by Qatar against Saudi Arabia, a&nbsp;WTO panel has ruled that the Saudis cannot use national security as an excuse for failing to protect the intellectual property of Qatari rights holders from rampant piracy of their broadcast rights for sports, movies, and television programming. The ruling is one more example of the extensive reach of WTO obligations beyond such traditional trade topics as tariffs. And it is evidence anew of the limited reach of the exceptions to those obligations for professed purposes of national security.</p> <p>In June 2017, Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Qatar because of Qatar’s alleged support and harboring of terrorists. Two months later, a&nbsp;shadowy company called “beoutQ,”&nbsp;<a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">described</a>&nbsp;in the WTO panel report as the “NETFLIX of piracy,” began to engage in the wholesale theft of copyrights held by a&nbsp;Qatari company named “beIN” by illegally broadcasting everything from soccer matches to soap operas in Saudi Arabia. Exiled from the Saudi market, beIN and its numerous corporate allies in third countries were unable to assert their IP rights domestically in Saudi Arabia.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>A&nbsp;new ruling by the World Trade Organization in a&nbsp;dispute between two Middle Eastern states has added further refutation of the view of the Trump Administration that the WTO cannot second‐​guess sovereign states when they restrict trade for what they claim are reasons of national security. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Qatar went to the WTO, where it accused Saudi Arabia of not fulfilling its treaty obligation to stop this commercial‐​scale copyright piracy.The WTO panel found no connection between upholding the asserted Saudi national security interest and the failure by the Saudis to apply criminal procedures and penalties to the pirate company, beoutQ. On this basis, the panel ruled in favor of Qatar. Given this ruling, Saudi Arabia should now shut down the pirates.</p> <p>The ruling in this dispute follows and builds on a&nbsp;similar ruling by another WTO panel a&nbsp;year ago in a&nbsp;dispute between Russia and Ukraine over multiple restrictions imposed by Russia on the transit of Ukrainian goods through Russia. There, too, the United States, as a&nbsp;third party, maintained that, national security having been invoked, the WTO panel could not hear the case. In this instance, the Trump view is a&nbsp;longstanding U.S. view. The United States has long contended that the national security exception in WTO rules is self‐​judging and, when invoked, can neither be reviewed nor refused by WTO jurists.</p> <p>The jurists in the Russian dispute disagreed. So too did those in the Saudi dispute. In sum, their reasoning goes: If the national security exception is self‐​judging, if it cannot be reviewed like any other obligation in the WTO treaty, then why do the national security exceptions in the WTO rules on trade in goods and services and on trade‐​related aspects of IP rights set out specific limited circumstances in which these exceptions can apply?</p> <p>Notably, the panel in the Russian transit case– as mandated by the WTO treaty – drew on the “customary rules of interpretation of public international law” in noting that treaties must be upheld in “good faith” by those that are parties to them. On this basis, the panel in that case concluded that governmental actions for which a&nbsp;national security exception is claimed must “meet a&nbsp;minimum requirement of plausibility in relation to the proffered essential security interests.” So much then for President Trump’s implausible claims that imports of Canadian steel and European cars, among other imports, pose national security risks for the United States.</p> <p>Now, the panel in the Saudi IP case has taken the reasoning of the Russian transit panel further in spelling out that a&nbsp;connection must exist between the challenged governmental actions and the essential national security interests giving rise to the claim of an exception. The shelter of the national security exception does not cover all imaginable governmental actions. Sports broadcasts do not threaten national security.</p> <p>Under international law, technically, these two panel rulings apply only to the parties to these disputes and to the measures addressed in them. Practically, though, in the WTO, rulings are generally followed to fulfill the mutual desire expressed by the United States and 163 other countries in the WTO treaty for “security and predictability” in world trade.</p> <p>One reason why President Trump and his trade enforcers have undermined the functioning of the WTO Appellate Body—the WTO court of final appeal—is their fear that the appellate judges would uphold panel rulings such as these. The Appellate Body is unable to hear new appeals because it has been reduced to just one of its full complement of seven judges by the refusal of the United States to join in a&nbsp;consensus to fill vacancies on the court. At least three judges are needed to hear an appeal.</p> <p>Even so, the sound reasoning of these two panels makes it likely that when the national security defense is raised in other trade disputes, other WTO panels will follow these two rulings, just as the panel in the Saudi IP case did in following the panel in the Russian transit case. Making this still more likely is the fact that the chairs of the two panels are two of the most respected international jurists in the world – Georges Abi‐​Saab of Egypt, a&nbsp;former member of the Appellate Body, in the Russian case, and Donald McRae of Canada and New Zealand, in the Saudi case.</p> <p>WTO rulings in disputes in which none of the disputing countries are from the West are often ignored in the politics and in the media of the West. These two rulings, though, are deserving of much global attention. They remove the foundations for the U.S. argument that it can do whatever it wishes in trade if it does so in the name of national security. And they foreshadow more such rulings to come.</p> </div> James Bacchus is a&nbsp;founding member and former Chairman of the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization. He is Distinguished University Professor of Global Affairs at the University of Central Florida and an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute. Tue, 07 Jul 2020 09:23:10 -0400 James Bacchus Kill Two Birds with One Stone: Repeal Collective Bargaining <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Chris Edwards</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Congress is debating legislation meant to address police misconduct along with a&nbsp;further aid package for state and local governments struggling with budget deficits. Whether those bills pass or not, the states can address both issues themselves with one reform: repealing collective bargaining for public workers. That alone would increase public worker accountability and ease budget pressures by reducing labor costs.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>State and local workforces are heavily unionized, with&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">39%</a>&nbsp;of workers covered by collective bargaining agreements, compared to just 7% in the private sector. Critically, large majorities of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">public school teachers</a>&nbsp;and police in&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">big‐​city departments</a>&nbsp;are covered by collective bargaining.</p> <p>The public sector union share does&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">vary widely</a>, from 73% in New York to 10% in North Carolina based on differing state collective bargaining rules. Many states, such as New York, mandate collective bargaining for most workers. At the other end of the spectrum, North Carolina and Virginia completely ban collective bargaining in government.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Public workers should be free to join voluntary associations of teachers, police officers, and other professional groups, as they do in North Carolina and Virginia. But collective bargaining creates rigid monopoly structures that are unneeded because public workers already enjoy strong civil service protections. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Union rules like these have consequences. The killing of George Floyd by a&nbsp;Minneapolis police officer with a&nbsp;history of misconduct highlights the lack of accountability in some police departments. Collective bargaining plays a&nbsp;role because those agreements create barriers to disciplining and firing bad officers. In the wake of Floyd’s death, the mayor of Minneapolis&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">said</a>&nbsp;that the “elephant in the room” on police reform is “the police union, the contract associated with that union, and then the arbitration that ultimately is necessary.”</p> <p>Even when bad officers are fired, a&nbsp;<em>Wall Street Journal</em>&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">analysis</a>&nbsp;found that it is common under collective bargaining for arbitrators to reinstate them. In Minnesota, “officers who are fired for misconduct or charged with criminal behavior often end up back on the force,” the analysis found.</p> <p>Further, both&nbsp;<a href="">Walter Olson</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Rachel Greszler</a>&nbsp;each summarize research showing that collective bargaining is associated with higher rates of police misconduct and bureaucratic rules that undermine accountability. Greszler notes that labor contracts “often include provisions that obstruct discipline, erase discipline records, and insert elevated standards of review that shield rogue police officers from justice.”</p> <p>Similar problems are common in other public sector jobs. Poorly performing public school teachers, for example, are notoriously difficult to fire in union‐​dominated states. Nationwide, the layoff and firing rate of state and local workers is only&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">one‐​third</a>&nbsp;the rate in the private sector.</p> <p>Labor unions also impact state and local budgets. Half of total state‐​local spending of $3 trillion a&nbsp;year is for public worker compensation, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis data. So even modest wage and benefit cuts would be a&nbsp;big help for states tackling budget deficits, but union contracts often stand in the way.</p> <p>Academic studies also find that unionization pushes up public sector compensation. For example, Bahman Bahrami and colleagues&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">found</a>&nbsp;that unionization increases local government wage rates by 15% and state government wage rates by 11%. Sarah Anzia and Terry Moe&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">found</a>&nbsp;that unionization increases wage rates for fire department employees by 9% and benefits by 25%, and it increases police wage rates by 10% and benefits by 21%.</p> <p>Collective bargaining creates powerful lobby groups that push for higher overall spending. In a&nbsp;statistical analysis, the Heritage Foundation&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">found</a>&nbsp;that states with public sector collective bargaining spent at least $600 more per capita than states without it. Thus, if New York adopted Virginia’s ban on collective bargaining, it could save about $12 billion a&nbsp;year, which is 15% of the state’s general fund budget.</p> <p>The&nbsp;<em>Washington Post’s</em>&nbsp;Charles Lane&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">noted</a>&nbsp;that while collective bargaining may help public workers, “it has also made state and local government bigger, costlier and more complex — and more beholden, politically, to its own workforce.”</p> <p>Public workers should be free to join voluntary associations of teachers, police officers, and other professional groups, as they do in North Carolina and Virginia. But collective bargaining creates rigid monopoly structures that are unneeded because public workers already enjoy strong civil service protections.</p> <p>The nation’s first elected black governor, Doug Wilder, signed into law Virginia’s public sector ban on collective bargaining in 1993. Wilder was also a&nbsp;conservative on budget matters. Virginia is going to need some new statues to replace the ones taken down — how about Wilder?</p> </div> Chris Edwards is editor of Down​siz​ing​Gov​ern​ment​.org at the Cato Institute. Tue, 07 Jul 2020 09:14:40 -0400 Chris Edwards South Sudan: Another U.S.-Sponsored, Nation‐​Building Fiasco <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Ted Galen Carpenter</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>U.S. foreign‐​policy bureaucrats have become inordinately fond of both regime‐​change wars and nation‐​building missions since the end of the Cold War. Almost all of those crusades have turned out badly—in some cases, spectacularly so.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The latest example is South Sudan, which became independent after seceding from Sudan in 2011 with strong U.S. encouragement and support. A&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Council on Foreign Relations study</a> conceded that “the United States was a&nbsp;lead facilitator of South Sudanese independence … providing diplomatic support and humanitarian aid. Prior to the outbreak of the civil war in 2013, the United States supported and advocated for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which became the new country’s government.”</p> <p>Washington’s goal was to see a&nbsp;new, democratic country that no longer had to endure the repressive rule of a&nbsp;pro‐​Islamist government in Khartoum—and would be a&nbsp;reliable supplier of oil to the world market. Instead, U.S. policy appears to have helped create <a href="" target="_blank">another Libya, afflicted by bloody chaos</a>. Barely 30 months after South Sudan’s July 2011 independence referendum, full‐​scale civil war erupted. The feuding factions supposedly reached a&nbsp;settlement in February 2020, but new, more decentralized fighting has now broken out.</p> <p>In addition to the widespread ineptitude of Washington’s would‐​be nation builders in conducting their various crusades, there is a&nbsp;stunning degree of inconsistency, if not hypocrisy. That is especially true regarding the issue of secession. Washington’s long‐​standing default option was one of opposition, believing that the fracturing of existing states injects dangerous instability into the international system. Such an assumption was dominant throughout the Cold War. The administrations of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon refused to support Biafra’s bid to create a&nbsp;new country in Nigeria’s southeast, even though there were important religious, ethnic, and economic factors distinguishing the region from the rest of Nigeria. The United States strongly opposed the Kurdish separatist movement in southeastern Turkey. American officials dismissed secessionist guerrillas in Spain’s northern Basque region <a href="" target="_blank">as little more than terrorists</a>.</p> <p>With the end of the Cold War, the consistency in U.S. policy evaporated. U.S. leaders greeted the dissolution of the Soviet Union with satisfaction and looked on with benevolent indifference as the Czech and Slovak regions of Czechoslovakia executed their “velvet divorce.” When Yugoslavia slowly unraveled, Washington’s policy was one of <a href="" target="_blank">brazen hypocrisy</a>. U.S. officials were supportive as Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia all exited the Yugoslav federation, but were adamant that the discontented Serb minority in Bosnia could not secede from that newly minted country. The Clinton administration’s opposition was so intense that it led to NATO airstrikes on Bosnian Serb military positions to create the conditions for a&nbsp;dictated peace settlement that preserved Bosnia’s nominal (albeit dysfunctional) unity.</p> <p>A few years later, though, the administration had no problem blessing Montenegro’s independence from what was left of Yugoslavia and launched a&nbsp;major air war to compel Serbia to relinquish one of its provinces: Kosovo. George W. Bush’s administration even helped orchestrate international recognition of Kosovo’s formal independence in 2008. As Cato Institute senior fellow Doug Bandow recently observed, the only consistent feature of U.S. policy on secession in the Balkans appeared to be “that the <a href="" target="_blank">Serbs were supposed to lose</a>” in all scenarios.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Washington’s continued pattern of regime change has crafted an amorphous foreign policy that needlessly sheds blood.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The consistency of U.S. policy on secession has not been much better in Africa. Washington has continuously <a href="" target="_blank">refused to recognize Somaliland’s independence</a> from Somalia, even though Mogadishu’s writ over the region has been nonexistent for more than two decades. Conversely, the Obama administration was eager to support South Sudan’s bid for independence. The results of the latter decision, though, have been appalling. South Sudan’s six‐​year civil war left 380,000 dead and millions displaced. President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar finally reached a&nbsp;deal to form a&nbsp;unity government in February, with Machar becoming the new vice president.</p> <p>But the (relative) peace did not last long. As in Syria and Libya, other places where the United States has meddled in complex, murky quarrels, South Sudan’s chaos is not just the product of a&nbsp;power struggle between two factions. The latest round of violence confirms that the causes of instability are far more amorphous. Recent fighting in one interior state, Jonglei, <a href="" target="_blank">gives a&nbsp;hint of the complexity</a>. Armed conflict erupted between traditional rivals, the Murle and Lou Nuer communities. But local sources stated that, for reasons not entirely clear, members of a&nbsp;third group, the Dinka Bor community, then teamed up with the Lou Nuer for an attack on the Murle.</p> <p><em>Anti​war​.com</em> writer Jason Ditz <a href="" target="_blank">provides a&nbsp;succinct verdict</a> on Washington’s South Sudan policy. “US‐​backed independence was supposed to mean a&nbsp;stable, oil‐​rich nation and instead has produced a&nbsp;nation of constant war and a&nbsp;government that’s mostly been at war with itself from its founding.”</p> <p>Such a&nbsp;tragic outcome echoes the results of U.S. interference in places such as the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. U.S. officials need to abandon their arrogant assumption that Washington has the blueprint for peace, freedom, and stability in alien societies that they do not begin to comprehend. Even if those officials operate with the best of intentions, the outcomes too often have been calamitous. South Sudan is the latest example, and it needs to be the last.</p> </div> <p>Ted Galen Carpenter, a&nbsp;senior fellow in security studies at the Cato Institute.</p> Mon, 06 Jul 2020 09:51:26 -0400 Ted Galen Carpenter Dancing with Dictators: Trump’s Human Rights Policy <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Doug Bandow</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried out a&nbsp;new joke at a&nbsp;DC comedy club’s open mike night. Said Pompeo: “Whether it’s freedom for the people of Hong Kong, human rights for the Rohingya, all across the world, @realDonaldTrump has understood that it’s important for America to be a&nbsp;true beacon for freedom and liberty and human rights around the globe.”</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Unfortunately, Jamal Khashoggi wasn’t in the audience and available to comment. But the joke did generate uproarious laughter in the U.S. capital and around the world. Even the president, who only a&nbsp;few days before acknowledged that he refused to sanction Chinese officials over brutal repression of the Uyghurs in order to protect his trade deal, had a&nbsp;good laugh.</p> <p>Pompeo is an obnoxious partisan and foolish uber‐​hawk, but is not normally known for purveying fantasy. Yet having played a&nbsp;major role in implementing U.S. foreign policy—for instance, his lips, no less than President Donald Trump’s, have been firmly attached to the Saudi crown prince’s derriere—he is well aware that the president is not just uninterested in foreign repression but actually prefers the company of brutes, thugs, dictators, killers, and aggressors.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Pompeo’s recent claims about caring could only generate laughter, since they were widely recognized as false. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Consider just a&nbsp;few of the officials the president has waxed eloquent in describing as friends: Mohammed bin Salman, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong‐​un, Vladimir Putin, Rodrigo Duterte, Abdel Fattah al‐​Sisi, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. One suspects that it would take only one summit for the president to be spouting effusive praise of Raoul Castro, Nicolas Maduro, and Ali Khamenei, despite their past foreign policy differences. Indeed, Trump might even have gotten along with Muammar Gaddafi and Osama bin Laden had they not prematurely journeyed across the river Styx.</p> <p>Human rights never was going to fare well in an administration dominated by a&nbsp;transactional view of foreign policy. After all, tyrants, not victims, typically have favors to trade. There isn’t much those jailed in Saudi Arabia, China, North Korea, Russia, Philippines, Egypt, Turkey, and elsewhere have to offer.</p> <p>But the issue is difficult even for presidents who actually are concerned about the well‐​being of others. President Jimmy Carter elevated the issue, yet he went to Tehran where he toasted the Shah’s dedication to democracy, a&nbsp;major laugh‐​line for the many critics arrested and tortured by Savak, the Iranian dictator’s secret police. President Ronald Reagan gave wonderful speeches promoting liberty but supported decidedly illiberal insurgents in Afghanistan, Africa, and Central America. He also did not hesitate working with dictators, such as South Korea’s Chun Doo‐​hwan.</p> <p>Nevertheless, human rights matters. Saving lives and expanding freedom should be of concern to anyone of good will. It is possible for Americans to do good in the world. They should do so in government when possible—and consistent with their fundamental duty to protect America and advance its interests.<br> The core of foreign policy, its vital end, is to serve the American people, who create, sustain, and rely upon the national government. Uncle Sam is their agent, not a&nbsp;global crusader entitled to squander lives and wealth in a&nbsp;global game of Risk.</p> <p>Nevertheless, not every means is appropriate for advancing perceived American interests. War, conquest, and oppression are inherently suspect tools. So is support for countries engaging in war, conquest, and oppression. There sometimes are hard choices, but they usually are rare and temporary, last resorts necessary to achieve essential objectives.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the end of the Cold War has resulted in not just hubris but moral blindness. Military intervention has become just another policy option, often the default for a&nbsp;government which has lost the ability to negotiate and persuade. It is difficult to imagine what objective could justify the Iraq debacle, with thousands of American dead, tens of thousands of American wounded, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead, millions of Iraqis displaced, destruction of indigenous religious minorities, and creation of al‐​Qaeda in Iraq and its successor, the Islamic State. Similarly, what possibly could warrant supporting one of the world’s most oppressive states, Saudi Arabia, in its aggressive war against Yemen for selfish geopolitical purposes, which caused a&nbsp;humanitarian catastrophe? Yet successive presidents have made Americans complicit with murder and mayhem.</p> <p>Another offense against morality and decency is supporting tyrants. The Trump administration seems almost enthusiastic when given the opportunity to empower and promote vile oppressors. For instance, it appears that no crime by the Saudis would lessen administration support; rather, harming the domestic shale oil industry finally drew a&nbsp;presidential rebuke. Only when Turkey imprisoned an evangelical American pastor championed by Trump’s domestic political allies did the administration utter the words human rights to Erdogan.</p> <p>Slaughtering drug users and sellers was no concern in dealing with Manila.</p> <p>Of course, tolerating an ally’s flaws sometimes might be necessary when American security is threatened and there really is a&nbsp;lesser of two evils, such as military‐​dominated South Korea facing off against the totalitarian Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The greatest, and perhaps toughest, instance was allying with the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany. Both regimes were evil but the latter was more aggressive and dangerous. However, involvement in such cases should require an overriding justification. Thankfully, these trade‐​offs are much diminished without a&nbsp;Cold War.</p> <p>For instance, tensions with Russia, a&nbsp;minimal threat compared to the Soviet Union, cannot justify arming Turkey and tolerating the behavior of its wannabe dictator. There is no Middle Eastern danger that warrants overlooking Israel’s oppressive colonial occupation policy toward the Palestinians. Even easier: there is no cause to arm the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as it brutalizes its citizens, threatens its neighbors, and destabilizes its region. On almost every measure Riyadh is worse than Iran, the usual bugaboo used to justify every intervention and compromise with oppression made by Washington in the Mideast.</p> <p>Tougher is deciding how the U.S. should try to promote human rights. Americans first should get their own house in order. Claiming to be “a city on a&nbsp;hill” while failing in major ways—think of pre‐​Civil Rights America, with African‐​Americans segregated, abused, and oppressed. Hypocrisy also is destructive. The Trump administration explicitly decided to use human rights as a&nbsp;weapon against opponents while saying nothing about friends. Such cynicism—for instance, waxing eloquent about Iranian violations of human life and dignity while dancing with the Saudi royals—exposed the policy as pure cynicism.</p> <p>Prudence also is a&nbsp;limiting factor. The Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China were the most murderous states in modern human history, resulting in tens of millions of deaths (though Nazi Germany represented a&nbsp;unique evil, bent on genocide of the Jewish people). However, the only way to end their brutal oppression would have been world war and nuclear conflict, which would have caused far more death, destruction, and chaos. Imagine trying to defeat, conquer, occupy, and rebuild those two nations.</p> <p>Economic sanctions have become the solution du jour, especially for Congress, filled with 535 wannabe secretaries of state. However, truly effective penalties—like those imposed on Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela, do more to impoverish, starve, and kill average folks than regime elites. It has always been so. Saddam Hussein still lived in luxury despite sanctions against Iraq. Cuban dissidents complained to me when I&nbsp;visited that the U.S. embargo was a&nbsp;convenient excuse for regime failures. I&nbsp;met opposition activists in Yugoslavia who told me that allied sanctions left their supporters penniless while enabling the government to profit from smuggling.</p> <p>Most important, governments are reluctant to fold under pressure on issues viewed as vital, such as regime preservation. It is notable that in no case so far has the Trump administration succeeded in changing any nation’s policy as a&nbsp;result of sanctions. Not one, even after constantly toughening “maximum pressure” regimes. The policy has been a&nbsp;complete bust.</p> <p>Yet lesser measures are almost frivolous, mostly designed to make legislators appear concerned. For instance, the latest legislation targeting China over both the imprisonment of Uyghurs and crackdown in Hong Kong directs the president to sanction Chinese officials, such as Xinjiang’s provincial chief, for their role. Does anyone imagine Beijing changing its policy because America denies a&nbsp;tourist visa to a&nbsp;high‐​ranking apparatchik? Seriously? While there is nothing wrong with singling out individual offenders, no one should believe that doing so will change anything.</p> <p>Which leaves the unsatisfactory reality that there usually isn’t a&nbsp;lot the U.S. can do. The president can and should use his or her bully pulpit to promote liberty, life, and dignity. Washington should engage other governments over their abuses and crimes and push for the release and rehabilitation of victims. So should activists—publicize and shame the horrors that are so common around the world. Creating even imperfect international mechanisms, such as the UN Human Rights Council and Cold War era Helsinki Declaration, can be helpful. Washington cannot base foreign policy on human rights but should follow a&nbsp;consistent and energetic strategy to use whatever opportunities develop to do good internationally.</p> <p>As part of such an effort the potential impact of naming and shaming should never be underestimated.</p> <p>Pompeo’s recent claim could only generate laughter since it was widely recognized as false, even ridiculous. In contrast, Ronald Reagan’s challenge to the Evil Empire and call on Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall were recognized as reflecting a&nbsp;deeply held if imperfect commitment to human life, liberty and dignity.</p> <p>Obviously, such rhetoric did not end the Cold War. But it helped give hope to oppressed peoples and encourage a&nbsp;Soviet leader who had a&nbsp;humane core, Mikhail Gorbachev. Then Gorbachev led the way in dismantling the mammoth system of state oppression, perhaps the greatest single act of liberation in human history. Future presidents should take a&nbsp;similar approach.</p> </div> Doug Bandow is a&nbsp;Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A&nbsp;former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire. Fri, 03 Jul 2020 09:33:23 -0400 Doug Bandow There’s More to Educational Freedom Than the Espinoza Ruling <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Neal McCluskey</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>School choice advocates are in pretty good moods right now. The Supreme Court&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">ruled</a>&nbsp;that if a&nbsp;state has a&nbsp;school choice program, it cannot exclude options simply because they are religious. It is a&nbsp;major win, but at least two more big legal steps must be taken to achieve full equality under the law.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The first step is ending the false distinction, which loomed over the&nbsp;<em>Espinoza</em>&nbsp;decision, between religious “status” and religious “use.” Basically, government cannot keep otherwise available aid from someone because they&nbsp;<em>are</em>&nbsp;religious but can do so if they intend to&nbsp;<em>use</em> the aid to advance religion.</p> <p>Supreme Court precedent here is tricky in large part because of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>Locke v. Davey</em></a>, a&nbsp;2004 decision that determined Washington state could withhold college scholarship funding from someone who would use it for training to become a&nbsp;minister. The court found that withholding the money was constitutional because of how it would be&nbsp;<em>used</em>: to train someone to promote religion.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p> <em>Espinoza</em> is an important step toward full educational freedom and equality under the law. But we are still not where we need to be. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>At this point,<em>&nbsp;Locke</em>&nbsp;is clearly inconsistent with the core rationale that the Supreme Court has otherwise been following when it comes to state aid programs and religion: Government must be neutral, neither favoring nor disfavoring religion.</p> <p>In&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>Zelman v. Simmons‐​Harris</em></a> (2002), the Supreme Court ruled that a&nbsp;state‐​funded voucher program through which families could choose schools, including religious ones, did not violate the U.S. Constitution because the choice was freely made by parents, not the state. In&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>Trinity Lutheran v. Comer</em></a>&nbsp;(2017), the Supreme Court ruled that religious entities could not be excluded from a&nbsp;state playground‐​improvement program only because they are religious. And now, the Supreme Court has said choice programs cannot be struck down because some people may freely choose religious schools.</p> <p><em>Locke</em>&nbsp;does not fit the basic and just neutrality rationale. It is not neutral to allow aid to go to people if they choose any profession&nbsp;<em>but</em> one that advances religion. Neutrality is allowing aid to go to people for whatever education they choose,&nbsp;<em>including</em>&nbsp;those that advance religion.</p> <p>Justice Neil Gorsuch attacked the dangerous distinction between “status” and “use” in his concurrence. Quite simply, he argued, there cannot be a&nbsp;constitutional distinction:</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>“The First Amendment protects religious uses and actions for good reason. What point is it to tell a&nbsp;person that he is free to be Muslim but he may be subject to discrimination for doing what his religion commands, attending Friday prayers, living his daily life in harmony with the teaching of his faith, and educating his children in its ways? What does it mean to tell an Orthodox Jew that she may have her religion but may be targeted for observing her religious calendar?”</p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>To fix this, the Supreme Court needs to rule in a&nbsp;future case that government can draw no line between religious “status” and “use.” Religious “status” without “use” is dead, and discrimination is discrimination.</p> <p>The second step the court needs to take to achieve true religious equality in education is to acknowledge what Justice Stephen Breyer, in his dissent, recognized, though he sees it as a&nbsp;bad thing: “If making scholarships available to only secular nonpublic schools exerts ‘coercive’ pressure on parents whose faith impels them to enroll their children in religious schools, then how is a&nbsp;State’s decision to fund only secular public schools any less coercive?”</p> <p>Breyer’s logic is sound. As Corey DeAngelis and I&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">wrote in 2018</a>, it is indeed discriminatory to force religious people to fund secular public schools. Of course, we need public schools to be secular — government must not choose what religious beliefs are “right” or “true” — but that means public schooling must inherently treat religious people unequally to nonreligious.</p> <p>How do we solve this conundrum? Simple: Enable religious families to take public education funding for their children to religious schools of their choosing.</p> <p>Of course, choice should not just be available to religious families. There are myriad reasons people might want something other than their assigned public school — pursuit of higher test scores, arts‐​based education, escaping bullying, etc. But only devotional religious instruction is outright prohibited, constitutionally, in government schools.</p> <p><em>Espinoza</em>&nbsp;is an important step toward full educational freedom and equality under the law. But we are still not where we need to be.</p> </div> Neal McCluskey is director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom. Thu, 02 Jul 2020 10:35:01 -0400 Neal McCluskey Washington’s Hong Kong Humiliation Produces Tougher Stance on Taiwan <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Ted Galen Carpenter</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>China’s decision to introduce a&nbsp;national security law in Hong Kong in late May caused considerable consternation in Washington, with both the Trump administration and Congress expressing their strong disapproval of Beijing’s alleged dilution of Hong Kong’s political autonomy. Immediately, the administration rescinded the territory’s special trade status, and congressional leaders made a&nbsp;bipartisan push for economic sanctions targeted against the PRC’s top leadership.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Although even the most hawkish elements in Congress and the administration accepted the <a href="">foreign policy community’s consensus</a> that it was impossible for the United States to confront Beijing in a&nbsp;decisive fashion over Hong Kong without incurring excessive risks, they wanted to cause some discomfort and international embarrassment for the communist regime. The centerpiece of Washington’s strategy was to enlist its allies in both Europe and East Asia to forge a&nbsp;common front in condemning the PRC’s erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy, and to impose at least modest economic sanctions.</p> <p>There is little question that the Trump administration was deeply disappointed by the response. Only Britain, Canada, and Australia signed on to Washington’s proposal; most allies balked at the administration’s request for a&nbsp;joint statement condemning the PRC’s action. The German government’s reaction was typical of the response from other governments. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas contended that the best way for the European Union nations to influence China on the Hong Kong dispute was to maintain a&nbsp;dialogue with Beijing. France was even less willing to join Washington in pressuring Beijing. The South China Morning Post reported that in a&nbsp;telephone call to China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Emmanuel Bonne, diplomatic counsellor to French President Emmanuel Macron, stressed that France respected China’s national sovereignty and had no intention of interfering in its internal affairs regarding Hong Kong.</p> <p>The EU itself adopted a&nbsp;tepid response to the PRC’s imposition of the national security law. EU foreign ministers on May 29 adopted Germany’s stance and <a href="">emphasized the need for dialogue</a> about Hong Kong. After a&nbsp;videoconference with the bloc’s 27 foreign ministers, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell emphasized that only one country had even raised the subject of sanctions, and that he didn’t believe China’s actions would adversely affect the EU’s diplomatic and economic engagement with the PRC.</p> <p>The reaction of key Asian allies to Beijing’s new restrictions on Hong Kong was not measurably better from Washington’s standpoint. Japan’s response was especially disappointing. After more than a&nbsp;week of internal debate, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government declined to join the United States, Britain, Australia, and Canada in issuing a&nbsp;statement condemning the PRC’s actions. Press reports indicated that the decision <a href="">“dismayed”</a> U.S. leaders. South Korea seemed even more determined than Japan to <a href="">avoid taking sides</a> in the dispute between the United States and China.</p> <p>In short, the Trump administration’s effort failed badly, causing the United States to suffer a&nbsp;major diplomatic humiliation. That outcome will impact Washington’s overall policy in East Asia. One likely manifestation is to reinforce a&nbsp;trend that has been underway throughout the Trump years—growing support for Taiwan’s de facto independence. U.S. leaders have every incentive to resist suffering another display of policy impotence on the heels of the Hong Kong episode. Moreover, Taiwan has much greater geostrategic significance, and Washington may feel that it cannot afford to concede another (even larger) victory to the PRC.</p> <p>Already, evidence is emerging that U.S. support for Taiwan will intensify following the disappointing outcome of Washington’s diplomatic effort regarding Hong Kong. The latest measures primarily entail symbolic gestures, but at least some of them also have military significance. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he will address a&nbsp;multilateral forum, the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, later in June. Also in attendance at that gathering will be Taiwan’s leader, Tsai Ing‐​wen. Pompeo’s decision irritates the PRC government as readily as did President‐​elect Trump’s <a href="">infamous telephone conversation</a> with Tsai in December 2016. In both episodes, the U.S. government was implicitly treating the Taiwanese leader as the president of an independent country</p> <p>Other U.S. moves in the wake of its failures over Hong Kong may be even more provocative. On June 11, a&nbsp;U.S. military aircraft used Taiwan’s airspace, with Taipei’s explicit authorization, to fly from Okinawa to a&nbsp;destination in Southeast Asia. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office <a href="">charged</a> that the U.S. plane had “harmed our sovereignty, security and development rights, and contravened international law and the basic norms of international relations,” terming it “a seriously provocative incident.” A&nbsp;week earlier, a&nbsp;guided‐​missile destroyer, the USS Russell, <a href="">ostentatiously sailed through the Taiwan Strait</a> despite Beijing’s objections. It was the second American warship to transit the Strait in less than three weeks.</p> <p>Such actions taken after China’s imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong came on the heels of other measures confirming that Washington is more firmly in Taiwan’s camp than at any time since the United States shifted its diplomatic recognition to the PRC in 1979. Just weeks before the Hong Kong crackdown, President Trump <a href="">signed into law</a> the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act, requiring the U.S. State Department to report to Congress on steps taken to strengthen Taiwan’s diplomatic relations. It also requires the executive branch to “alter” engagement with nations that undermine Taiwan’s security or prosperity. On May 21, the Trump administration informed Congress that it planned to approve a&nbsp;new arms deal for Taiwan, agreeing to sell Taipei 18 <a href="">advanced technology torpedoes</a>.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>The chances of a&nbsp;disastrous U.S.-PRC collision are growing.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Those measures deepen a&nbsp;trend toward more robust support for Taiwan that has been building since President Trump took office. An especially important step occurred in 2018 with the passage of the <a href="">Taiwan Travel Act</a>. That law not only authorized, but actively encouraged high‐​level U.S. national security officials to interact with their Taiwanese counterparts, reversing a&nbsp;four‐​decades‐​old policy. The following year, U.S. National Security Advisor <a href="">John Bolton met with David Lee</a>, Secretary General of Taiwan’s National Security Council.</p> <p>Just as the U.S. position regarding Taiwan is hardening, so too is Beijing’s stance. In a&nbsp;speech on May 21, Premier Li Keqiang noticeably <a href="">left out the word “peaceful”</a> in referring to Beijing’s intention to “reunify” with Taiwan. That omission signals an ominous policy shift, even as Beijing’s ties with Taipei already were on a&nbsp;downward spiral. Relations between Taiwan and the mainland have been increasingly tense ever since the landslide victory of Tsai Ing‐​wen and her pro‐​independence Democratic Progressive Party in the island’s 2016 elections. Tsai’s even stronger mandate in the January 2020 elections increased Beijing’s frustration and anger.</p> <p>PRC military exercises in and near the Taiwan Strait have become larger and more frequent over the past four years—with Taiwan reporting <a href="">an additional spike</a> in 2020, including <a href="">intrusions into Taiwanese air space</a>. Such developments suggest that Beijing’s patience on the reunification issue is coming to an end, just as its patience with disruptive pro‐​democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong eventually ended.</p> <p>But Chinese leaders may be making a&nbsp;deadly mistake if they assume that the United States will back away from a&nbsp;confrontation over Taiwan. Granted, the stunning lack of allied support in response to Beijing’s actions in Hong Kong must make U.S. policymakers wonder if there would be much support even from America’s key East Asian allies in the event of a&nbsp;U.S.-PRC showdown over Taiwan. But keeping Taiwan out of Beijing’s orbit has far more importance to U.S. leaders than adopting a&nbsp;firm stance on Hong Kong. The loss of Taiwan would fatally undermine Washington’s longstanding policy of strategic primacy in East Asia. The United States would be implicitly conceding that the PRC was now the dominant power in that region.</p> <p>U.S. leaders are unlikely to conduct such a&nbsp;retreat, even if the United States had to wage an armed struggle alone against China. Indeed, Washington’s humiliation regarding Hong Kong makes a&nbsp;determination to adopt an uncompromising stance about Taiwan, and thereby refurbish America’s credentials as East Asia’s dominant power even more probable. As an increasingly beleaguered hegemon, the United States is under mounting pressure to repel China’s challenge to that status. Given its economic, symbolic, and strategic importance, Taiwan is likely to be the place that Washington adamantly refuses to retreat. The chances of a&nbsp;disastrous U.S.-PRC collision are growing.</p> </div> <p>Ted Galen Carpenter, a&nbsp;senior fellow in security studies at the Cato Institute, is the author of 12 books and more than 800 articles on international affairs.</p> Thu, 02 Jul 2020 09:47:10 -0400 Ted Galen Carpenter Korea’s Endless State of War: How Does It End? <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Ted Galen Carpenter</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p><strong>Editor’s Note:</strong> As the world commemorates the 70<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the Center for the National Interest’s Korean Studies team decided to ask dozens of the world’s top experts a&nbsp;simple question: Do you believe that the Korean War will finally come to an end before its next major anniversary in 2025? The below piece is an answer to that question. Please click <a href="">here</a> to see even more perspectives on this important topic.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>We have just marked the 70<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the onset of the Korean War, and the belligerents have yet to replace the 1953 Armistice with a&nbsp;formal peace treaty. Given the current tensions between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), we’re likely to mark the 75<sup>th</sup> anniversary of an ongoing state of war in 2025—and possibly the subsequent 80<sup>th</sup> and 85<sup>th</sup> anniversaries will continue to see the war in that same state. Washington’s policy toward North Korea is a&nbsp;monument to U.S. foreign policy rigidity and failure.</p> <p>For a&nbsp;brief period following the June 2018 summit meeting between President Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong‐​un in Singapore, it appeared that a&nbsp;budding rapprochement was taking place and that it would soon produce a&nbsp;peace treaty. But that process stagnated over the next two years, and it has now turned to ashes. Kim’s government <a href="" rel=" noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">recently stated</a> that the bilateral dialogue had failed to produce meaningful results and that Pyongyang no longer had an interest in conducting further negotiations with the Trump administration. Instead, the DPRK apparently will focus on expanding its small <a href="">nuclear</a> arsenal. Even more worrisome than the collapse of U.S.-DPRK negotiations is the breakdown of relations between Pyongyang and Seoul. The outreach that South Korean President Moon Jae‐​in initiated three years ago is on the verge of collapse. Indeed, Pyongyang <a href="" rel=" noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">severed all communications lines</a> with the South.</p> <p>Both actions may be simply Kim’s clumsy attempt to put all matters on hold until after the November U.S. presidential election. Until that event takes place, he has no way of knowing who will occupy the White House come January 2021. Kim could be facing four more years of dealing with Donald Trump, or he could have to consider negotiating options with a&nbsp;new interlocutor in Joe Biden. However, if Kim believes that a&nbsp;Biden administration might be more accommodating and flexible toward Pyongyang, he likely is making a&nbsp;miscalculation. Not only have Biden’s views on North Korea been thoroughly conventional over the decades, but many leading congressional Democrats have been <a href="" rel=" noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">shrill opponents</a> even of Trump’s modest attempts to reach out to Pyongyang. U.S. policy toward North Korea might turn more hawkish, not less, during a&nbsp;Biden presidency.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Unless U.S. leaders relinquish their quixotic quest for a&nbsp;nonnuclear North Korea and settle on more achievable objectives, there is almost no hope to overcome the ongoing impasse in negotiations.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Whoever is President for the next four years, there will be little progress toward ending the state of war and developing a&nbsp;normal relationship with Pyongyang. There is a&nbsp;bipartisan consensus in Washington supporting the longstanding U.S. demand that the DPRK commit to a&nbsp;complete, verifiable, and irreversible end to its nuclear weapons program. It is highly improbable that North Korean leaders will ever agree to take that step. They have seen how the United States has <a href="">treated nonnuclear adversaries</a> such as Serbia, Iraq, and Libya. Despite Trump’s rhetoric that Washington is no longer in the regime‐​change, nation‐​building business, the administration’s actions toward Syria, Yemen, and Venezuela suggest that forcible regime change remains a&nbsp;favorite U.S. strategy. Kim and his associates see a&nbsp;nuclear arsenal as the one reliable deterrent against such U.S. ambitions regarding the DPRK.</p> <p>Unless U.S. leaders relinquish their quixotic quest for a&nbsp;nonnuclear North Korea and settle on more achievable objectives—such as limits on the size of a&nbsp;DPRK nuclear arsenal and on the number and range of ballistic missiles—there is almost no hope to overcome the ongoing impasse in negotiations. If that obstacle can be cleared away though, prospects become much better for resolving other important issues. The outcome could and should include the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Washington and Pyongyang and the signing of a&nbsp;peace treaty bringing the Korean War officially to an end. Without a&nbsp;fundamental change in Washington’s objectives, however, the U.S.-DPRK cold war will continue, and a&nbsp;hot war remains a&nbsp;serious danger. Under these circumstances, we will be condemned five years from now to mark the 75<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the continuing Korean War.</p> </div> <p>Ted Galen Carpenter, a&nbsp;senior fellow in security studies at the Cato Institute and a&nbsp;contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of 12 books and more than 850 articles on International affairs.</p> Thu, 02 Jul 2020 09:38:17 -0400 Ted Galen Carpenter Congress Is about to Kick Small Businesses While They’re Down <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Diego Zuluaga</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Most members of Congress, regardless of party, agree that small businesses are crucial to American prosperity. This rare consensus was behind the decision to authorize $659 billion worth of forgivable loans through Small Business Administration’s&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Paycheck Protection Program</a>&nbsp;in a&nbsp;bid to limit business failures and layoffs as a&nbsp;result of the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>So far, the PPP seems to have achieved its short‐​term goal of keeping small businesses alive. Almost 75 percent of small businesses with employees&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">got a&nbsp;loan</a>&nbsp;by early June and were thus able to keep their workers on the payroll. But the crisis is not yet over, with many businesses still far from healthy. And now Congress seems poised to sneak an amendment that has nothing to do with COVID-19 into legislation on which it will vote this week. By imposing a&nbsp;new burden that could cost each small business thousands of dollars to comply with, Congress may push many over the brink just as they’re starting over.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>By imposing a&nbsp;new burden that could cost each small business thousands of dollars to comply with, Congress may push many over the brink just as they’re starting over. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The amendment in question would require most small businesses with fewer than 20 employees and less than $5 million in annual sales — <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">about 12 million firms</a> — to file information about their owners with the federal government. It is the product of heavy lobbying by bankers, who since 2018 have had to&nbsp;<a href=",when%20those%20companies%20open%20accounts." target="_blank">collect this information</a>&nbsp;on behalf of their business customers and include it in their reports to FinCEN, the Treasury’s financial crimes watchdog. But extending banks’ reporting burden to other businesses is unlikely to benefit the public. Instead, by subjecting these businesses to extra costs they can ill‐​afford, the amendment is likely to do far more harm than good.</p> <p>Bankers calling for the change argue that extending the obligation to small businesses would improve the accuracy of reporting and reduce total compliance costs. It’s true that bank regulations ostensibly aimed at uncovering financial crime are extremely costly, accounting for&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">more than 25 percent</a>&nbsp;of community bank compliance expenses. But the amendment wouldn’t reduce the reporting burden on banks. Instead it states that it will help “confirm beneficial ownership information … to facilitate [banks’] compliance” with existing requirements. The bankers evidently hope that this will make their own lives easier. But they offer no proof that it will.</p> <p>History suggests that the burden of financial crime reporting on the private sector, instead of ever declining, tends to increase and encompass a&nbsp;wider array of firms over time. Normally, one might expect small‐​business advocates in Congress to worry about the impact of such a&nbsp;large body of regulations on U.S. economic vibrancy. Yet because their goal is to fend off genuine threats to national security, such as terrorism and money‐​laundering, questioning the usefulness of any government efforts against these threats can make one look weak on crime. But good intentions are no guarantee of efficacy: while reports of suspicious financial activity have&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">grown 42 percent</a>&nbsp;in six years, the annual number of prosecutions has&nbsp;<a href=",involvement%2C%20surveillance%2C%20and%20control." target="_blank">stayed the same or declined</a>, and assessments of how valuable such reports are to law enforcement are hard to come by.</p> <p>At any rate, Congress can increase the information available to FinCEN in a&nbsp;less burdensome way by requiring the IRS to share beneficial ownership information it regularly collects. Nor would this set a&nbsp;precedent, since the tax code already mandates&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">information‐​sharing</a>&nbsp;for other government programs such as federal student loans. Creating yet another reporting obligation on hard‐​pressed small businesses amounts to an unjustifiable overreach. If FinCEN’s&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">estimate</a>&nbsp;of the compliance burden on banks from current reporting rules is anything to go by, this new obligation could cost the average small business anywhere between $125 and more than $1,000. And that’s without the $500‐​per‐​day fine for non‐​compliance, however unwitting.</p> <p>Then there’s the privacy risk. Although the amendment says that FinCEN’s beneficial ownership database would only be accessible to law enforcement, it also offers the European regime as a&nbsp;model. Yet European authorities now&nbsp;<a href=";doc_id=48935" target="_blank">require</a>beneficial ownership databases to be public. The United Kingdom, for example, has had a&nbsp;public database since 2016, but&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">experts</a>&nbsp;regard the information it contains as largely useless,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">riddled with inaccuracies</a>, and ineffective. Law‐​abiding businesses go through the pains of reporting, while those with criminal intent have little incentive to do so. The database’s accessibility also means third parties can use the information for illicit ends, such as extortion and smear campaigns. Does Congress really want to expose small businesses to such abuse?</p> <p>The fight against financial crime by increasingly sophisticated international actors is no doubt a&nbsp;duty of government most of us can agree on. But rushing through legislation of questionable value during a&nbsp;recession, with many businesses struggling to survive, is the wrong way to pursue this fight. Let’s put economic recovery first so America can confront&nbsp;future national security threats from a&nbsp;position of strength.</p> </div> Diego Zuluaga is associate director of financial regulation studies at Cato Institue’s Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives. Wed, 01 Jul 2020 09:26:40 -0400 Diego Zuluaga Thomas Sowell at 90 Is More Relevant Than Ever <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Steve H. Hanke</a> and <span class="text-semibold">Richard M. Ebeling</span></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Yesterday, Thomas Sowell turned 90. And he is more relevant than ever. Sowell, a&nbsp;frequent&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">contributor to&nbsp;National Review</a>&nbsp;and prodigious scholar, has delivered yet another insightful and accessible book,&nbsp;<em><a href="" target="_blank">Charter Schools and Their Enemies</a>.</em>&nbsp;It was released on his birthday — a&nbsp;gift from Sowell to the rest of us.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>In his new book, Sowell puts primary sources and facts under the powerful microscope of his analysis. His findings are, as is often the case, inconvenient, not to say explosive, truths. Indeed,&nbsp;<em>Charter Schools and Their Enemies&nbsp;</em>documents how non‐​white students thrive in charter schools and close the performance gap with their white peers. It’s no surprise, then, that there are long waiting lists to enter charter schools. So why aren’t there more of them? Well, public schools and their teachers’ unions don’t like the competition. This, of course, traps non‐​white students in inferior public schools.</p> <p>Just who is Thomas Sowell and why is he a&nbsp;larger‐​than‐​life figure in today’s world? Sowell was born on June 30, 1930, in North Carolina. He grew up in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood and served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. He earned three economics degrees, one from Harvard (1958), one from Columbia (1959), and a&nbsp;Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (1968). After holding down faculty positions at prestigious universities, Sowell settled at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, where he has been for the past 40&nbsp;years.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>An indispensable voice over the decades speaks to our present moment. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>As Sowell recounts in his autobiography,&nbsp;<em>A&nbsp;Personal Odyssey</em>&nbsp;(2000), he considered himself a&nbsp;Marxist during most of his student years. Chicago put an end to that infatuation. But Sowell’s study of classical economists included the works of Marx, and in 1985 he published&nbsp;<em>Marxism: Philosophy and Economics</em>. As anyone steeped in Marx knows, all symbols of the capitalist, exploitive past must be uprooted and destroyed before a&nbsp;workers’ paradise can be constructed. It turns out that Marxism is of the moment: Yes, the removal of statues and the changing of street and building names is straight out of Marx’s playbook.</p> <p>But for those who find Marxism too general and abstract to be relevant for the events of today, we direct you to a&nbsp;treasure trove of books in which Sowell has focused his attention on the problems surrounding race and discrimination both in the United States and around the world. To name just a&nbsp;few of his many works specifically on this theme:&nbsp;<em>Race and Economics&nbsp;</em>(1975),&nbsp;<em>Markets and Minorities&nbsp;</em>(1981),<em>&nbsp;Ethnic America: A&nbsp;History</em>&nbsp;(1981),<em>&nbsp;The Economics and Politics of Race</em>&nbsp;(1983),<em>&nbsp;Preferential Policies</em>&nbsp;(1990),<em>&nbsp;Race and Culture&nbsp;</em>(1995),<em>&nbsp;Migrations and Cultures</em>&nbsp;(1996),<em>&nbsp;Conquests and Cultures</em>&nbsp;(1998),&nbsp;<em>Affirmative Action Around the World</em>&nbsp;(2004),<em>&nbsp;Black Rednecks and White Liberals</em>&nbsp;(2005),<em>&nbsp;Intellectuals and Race</em>&nbsp;(2013),<em>&nbsp;Wealth, Poverty and Politics</em>&nbsp;(2016), and<em>&nbsp;Discrimination and Disparities</em>&nbsp;(2018; rev. ed., 2019).</p> <p>When analyzing race and discrimination, Sowell relishes going after one of his favorite targets: the intellectual elites, or as he refers to them, “the anointed.” The heart of his message is that men are not born with equal abilities. Contrary to the assertions of the anointed, Sowell argues that “empirically observable skills have always been grossly unequal.” Sowell also argues that not all cultures are equal contributors to world civilization. Indeed, he observes that “differences among racial, national and other groups range from the momentous to the mundane, whether in the United States or in other countries around the world and down through the centuries.” Sowell concludes that the world is culturally complex and filled with variety. We still have little understanding of the causes and consequences of that complexity. But markets tend to harmonize the interests of, or at least minimize the friction between, various peoples and cultures, while politics creates conflict, with advantages for some at the expense of others.</p> <p>Much of what Sowell has to say about race is contained in his undeniably controversial&nbsp;<em>Black Rednecks and White Liberals</em>, a&nbsp;collection of essays<em>.</em>&nbsp;In the course of a&nbsp;lengthy examination of identity, culture, and its socioeconomic effects, he looks, among other issues, at what he refers to as “black ghetto culture” (something, he stresses more than once, of which “most black Americans” are not a&nbsp;part) and its particular language, customs, behavioral characteristics, and attitudes toward work and leisure. Sowell argues that it has been heavily influenced by earlier white southern “redneck” culture, although, as he is careful to note, this is not a&nbsp;matter of “simple linear extrapolation.” And indeed it is not.</p> <p>Sowell traces this culture to several generations of Americans mostly descended from immigrants from “the northern borderlands of England … as well as from the Scottish highlands and Ulster” who arrived in the southern American colonies in the 18th century. The outstanding features of this redneck or “cracker” culture — as it was called in Great Britain before and during the emigration years — included, Sowell writes, “an aversion to work, proneness to violence, neglect of education, sexual promiscuity, improvidence, drunkenness, lack of entrepreneurship, reckless searches for excitement, lively music and dance, and a&nbsp;style of religious oratory marked by rhetoric, unbridled emotions, and flamboyant imagery.” It also included “touchy pride, vanity, and boastful self‐​dramatization.” The point to be drawn, he writes, “is that cultural differences led to striking socioeconomic differences among blacks, as they did among whites. In both races, those who lived within the redneck culture lagged far behind those who did not.”</p> <p>Most of the commercial industriousness and innovation in the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Sowell demonstrates, were introduced by businessmen, merchants, and educators who moved there from the North, and especially New England. The culture of work, savings, personal responsibility, and forethought that flourished in the North left the southern United States lagging far behind — a&nbsp;contrast often remarked on by 19th‐​century European visitors.</p> <p>Sowell’s tracing of these past differences brings us back to today. On June 5, the American Economic Association (AEA), the premier professional association for economists since its founding in 1885, issued a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">statement</a>&nbsp;saying that it was time for officers and governance committees within the association to look into racism and racist practices and presumptions within the profession. To that end, the AEA compiled a&nbsp;recommended&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">reading list</a>&nbsp;on race and discrimination. Sowell is nowhere to be found on it. Neither is the late Gary Becker, former president of the AEA, who won a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Nobel prize</a>&nbsp;in 1992 for, among other achievements, his pathbreaking work on the economics of discrimination. This is the blinkered world we live in today.</p> </div> Steve H. Hanke is a professor of applied economics at the Johns Hopkins University and a senior fellow and director of the Troubled Currencies Project at the Cato Institute. Richard M. Ebeling is the BB&amp;T Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership at The Citadel. Wed, 01 Jul 2020 08:52:10 -0400 Steve H. Hanke, Richard M. Ebeling Where the Powerful Can Kill the Weak, as Long as They Pay <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Mustafa Akyol</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>In October 2018, the world was shocked by news of the gruesome murder of a&nbsp;prominent Saudi journalist: Jamal Khashoggi, a&nbsp;critic of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Mr. Khashoggi had been in exile, fearing for his safety, but he was lured to his country’s consulate in Istanbul with hopes of getting documents for his planned marriage. Instead, he was slain and dismembered.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>This appalling murder sent shock waves through the West, which only set off a&nbsp;<a href="" title>Saudi effort</a>&nbsp;at a&nbsp;cover‐​up. The kingdom’s authorities first&nbsp;<a href="" title>denied</a>&nbsp;that Mr. Khashoggi had disappeared in the consulate. Then they had to admit that he was killed by a&nbsp;special squad, but said it was without the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">knowledge</a>&nbsp;of the crown prince.</p> <p>Last month, Salah Khashoggi, the victim’s eldest son, who still lives in Saudi Arabia, announced that he had “<a href="" target="_blank">pardoned</a>” his father’s murderers, an act that may be enough to close the case under Saudi law. In April, The Times had published reports that Salah Khashoggi and his siblings had received&nbsp;<a href="" title>tens of thousands of dollars and real estate worth millions of dollars</a>&nbsp;from the rulers of the kingdom as compensation for the murder of their father.</p> <p>How can a&nbsp;murder case be closed through a&nbsp;mere “pardon” by a&nbsp;family member? And how is it acceptable, legally and culturally, that the family member gets handsomely paid for it?</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>The Quran introduced blood money as a&nbsp;path to “mercy” and to end tribal conflicts — not as impunity for the rich. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The answer is in the notion of “diya,” or “blood money,” which has been used in Saudi Arabia for decades to cover up grave crimes.</p> <p>Diya is built on the idea that murder is not always a&nbsp;crime to be prosecuted; instead, it can be treated as a&nbsp;tort to be privately compensated. In other words, if I&nbsp;kill your daughter, I&nbsp;owe you something. You can ask for my execution or accept a&nbsp;negotiated amount of blood money from me. If I&nbsp;pay the agreed price, we are even, and I&nbsp;walk away.</p> <p>While defenders of this practice with ancient roots say it provides a&nbsp;form of justice, it allows an affront that no modern code of justice would dare to codify: The powerful can easily kill the weak if they pay to do so.</p> <p>In 2013, Saudi society saw a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">horrendous example</a>: Fayhan al‐​Ghamdi, a&nbsp;preacher, tortured and killed his own 5‐​year‐​old daughter, Lama, then walked free by paying blood money to her mother. Only after a&nbsp;public outcry, raised under the Twitter hashtag&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">#AnaLama</a>, was the killer&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">sentenced</a>&nbsp;to eight years in jail and 800 lashes.</p> <p>The more usual scene in Saudi Arabia is that a&nbsp;wealthy killer saves himself by offering the victim’s family big sums of blood money while raising the money from relatives as an act of “charity” and creating a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">lucrative business</a>&nbsp;for middlemen. The overall result is a&nbsp;culture that “mitigates the atrocious behavior of killers and criminals,” as a&nbsp;Saudi journalist, Hani Alhadri,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">described</a>&nbsp;last year.</p> <p>In 1990, the problem was exported to Pakistan, with its Qisas and Diyat Ordinance, a&nbsp;law that made blood money a&nbsp;legal option to close cases of murder. It soon proved to be a&nbsp;perfect&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">cover for so‐​called honor killings</a>: Once a&nbsp;family decided to kill their daughter for their twisted notion of “honor,” the brother could do the job, and the father could simply “pardon” him.</p> <p>In 2012, Pakistan was shocked by the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">story of Shahzeb Khan</a>, a&nbsp;young university student who protected his sisters from drunken thugs, only to be killed by them. But the thugs’ powerful family threatened Mr. Khan’s poor family that they would kill the Khan daughters as well unless the Khans accepted blood money to close the case.</p> <p>Cases like those have led a&nbsp;Pakistani scholar, Hassan Javid, to&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">call for ending</a>&nbsp;all blood money laws, which are in effect in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iran, because they “provide the rich and powerful with the means by which to evade responsibility for any crimes that they might commit.”</p> <p>However, there is a&nbsp;major obstacle to such legal reform: the notion of blood money comes from the Quran, and for some Muslims, that ends any discussion. But those Muslims are missing something important: The Quran, a&nbsp;scripture with a&nbsp;human context of the seventh century, appealed to a&nbsp;very different society, in which blood money served a&nbsp;very different purpose.</p> <p>We can understand this context through The Great Exegesisbythe 12th‐ century Sunni scholar Fakhr al‐​Din al‐​Razi: Before Islam, Arabia was a&nbsp;war zone of tribes, lacking any central authority, police force or court system. Murder among these tribes was punished with “qisas,” the principle of “life for a&nbsp;life, eye for an eye.” However, tribes had different claims to “honor,” and the haughtier ones demanded two or more lives for one of their fallen. This led to disputes and blood feuds that went on for generations.</p> <p>That is why, as the Islamic history expert Montgomery Watt, alluding to a&nbsp;custom among early Anglo‐​Saxons, noted: “The wiser and more progressive men of the time seem to have recognized the advantages of substituting a&nbsp;blood‐​wit for the actual taking of a&nbsp;life.” Which is exactly what the Quran did. It authorized the law of retaliation, but also added:</p> <p>“But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him with handsome gratitude, this is a&nbsp;concession and a&nbsp;mercy from your Lord.” (2:178)</p> <p>In other words, the Quran introduced blood money as “mercy” and a&nbsp;way to end tribal conflicts — not to give immunity to rich thugs, families who kill their own daughters or rulers who kill their critics.</p> <p>Yet a&nbsp;literalist application of scripture can lead to horrific outcomes, as we are seeing now.</p> <p>So what must be done? First, understand that Quranic commandments are not ends in themselves but means for a&nbsp;higher end: achieving justice. And different contexts may require different means for achieving justice.</p> <p>This was realized by the Ottoman Empire, the last seat of the Caliphate, which introduced modern laws and secular courts in the 19th century. A&nbsp;big step was a&nbsp;new penal code in 1858 that said even if a&nbsp;murder is settled with blood money, secular courts can still punish the killer. Two decades later, under the pious Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the empire also introduced the office of public prosecutor to indict for crimes regardless of any bargain or cover‐​up.</p> <p>Today, Saudi Arabia represents the deep troubles of an archaic Islamic tradition that bypassed many of these modern reforms. Its crown prince may try to close the gap cosmetically, by allowing women to drive or dance, which is fine. But real reform for the kingdom will be accepting the rule of law and freedom of speech. That would include not murdering critical journalists and not covering up their murders by paying blood money.</p> </div> Mustafa Akyol, a&nbsp;contributing Opinion writer, is a&nbsp;senior fellow on Islam and modernity at the Cato Institute and the author of the forthcoming book “<a href="" target="_blank">Reopening Muslim Minds:</a>&nbsp;A&nbsp;Return to Reason, Freedom, and Tolerance.” Tue, 30 Jun 2020 13:47:30 -0400 Mustafa Akyol Why Redistricting Reform Goes off the Rails <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Walter Olson</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Are you against gerrymandering? Of course you are! You’ve laughed at the shapes of districts with nicknames like the Praying Mantis, the Steam Shovel, and Goofy Kicking Donald Duck. Like almost everyone who follows politics, you agree that it’s wrong to fiddle with legislative maps to help a&nbsp;favored party or candidate.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Or do you? To test your commitment, here’s a&nbsp;composite example from a&nbsp;fictional 51st state of the union we’ll call the State of Madison.</p> <p>Public opinion in Madison is strongly opposed to extreme partisan gerrymandering, the sort where the more powerful of two major parties redraws the map to hurt the other. The leadership of the state legislature has taken this to heart and entrusted the task of drawing the next set of district lines to a&nbsp;bipartisan commission. It’s split half and half between the two major parties; the tiebreaker is a&nbsp;genial retired lawmaker who gets along with everyone. True, there are no Libertarians or Greens on the panel, nor even any registered independents. But that’s understandable—isn’t it?—since voters have not chosen to elect anyone from those groups to the legislature.</p> <p>And there’s more good news. Some were worried that the majority party, which got about 54 percent of the vote and 56 percent of the seats last time around, would engineer matters so as to grab many more safe seats. Not so. When seasoned political analysts look at the lines that were drawn, they can predict exactly which party is going to win nearly every seat next time, and they say hardly any will change hands. There had been some grumbling about how only three seats were competitive in the last general election; the commission must have been listening, because this time there will be four competitive seats instead of three—not enough to tip any balance, but at least enough to provide some interest come November.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>“Buddymandering” is the widespread map‐​related misconduct that’s wrecking our elections. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>One curious thing about those four competitive‐​in‐​November seats: They’re all open seats where an incumbent is retiring. That’s because none of the incumbents who planned to run again volunteered&nbsp;<em>their</em>&nbsp;districts to be made into the competitive ones. In fact, when you look more closely, many incumbents got their districts snipped here and expanded there so as to make them safer, not just in the general election but also—this will be less obvious, except to the well-informed—in the primaries. Sometimes the voters in a&nbsp;town never really warm up to you, in which case the best course is to pass that town on to the next lawmaker over.</p> <p>Once you look more closely, you see that many of the districts have shapes that are a&nbsp;little more stretchy and boundary lines that are a&nbsp;little more jiggly than they would strictly need to be. Also, they crisscross county and city borders more than they have to. In two or three instances, you notice a&nbsp;thin peninsula of land that juts out from the main body of a&nbsp;district to capture a&nbsp;remote neighborhood. You ask an insider, who explains that those fingers are meant to connect the home residence of some lawmaker with the district he or she wishes to represent. In fact, the starting point for most of the districts had simply been to ask incumbent members of both parties how they wanted their districts to look. To paraphrase a&nbsp;famous line: Officials had succeeded in picking their voters, rather than letting voters pick their officials.</p> <p>In one case (and only one), the new map throws two incumbents from the same party into a&nbsp;single district. Your insider friend explains that that was to get rid of a&nbsp;member of the majority party who just caused trouble all the time—making noise about supposed scandals, never cooperating with more senior colleagues. No one likes him, really. Or at least no one in the leadership does. Without this disruptive personality, the next legislature will be more collegial and less polarized. And that’s to the good, right? Also, seeing what happened to this troublemaker, none of the members are going to think about crossing the leadership next term.</p> <p><strong>Everyone Wants Reform—But What Kind?</strong></p> <p>I call this kind of arrangement a “buddymander.”&nbsp;Many people who hate partisan gerrymandering hate it too, but others are willing to let it slide or even are fine with it. The animating logic is:&nbsp;<em>We’ll protect our guys and you can protect yours.</em>&nbsp;It’s outwardly different from extreme partisan gerrymandering, since the main goal is not to take away seats from the opposition. But the two spring from the same underlying temptation: When the system gives insiders wide discretion over line drawing, they are apt to use it to advance their own interests.</p> <p>The main task of redistricting reform is to confine that discretion. To appreciate the difficulty of that task, let’s switch for the moment to a&nbsp;seemingly remote question: Why allow any discretion in drawing legislative maps at all?</p> <p>When you serve on a&nbsp;redistricting commission, as I&nbsp;have now done in Maryland twice, that’s one of the most common questions you get:&nbsp;<em>Why can’t we turn the whole thing over to a&nbsp;computer algorithm?</em>&nbsp;At its simplest, this can take the form of proposing that the state simply be divided into districts of equal population (as the courts require) by some brute method. Thus a&nbsp;state might be divided among the proper number of congressional districts by drawing vertical lines dividing it into strips of varying widths.</p> <p>To spend a&nbsp;few minutes with such a&nbsp;map is to grasp its flaws. Even in a&nbsp;conveniently rectangular state like Colorado, districts would end up comprising unrelated communities separated from each other by mountains and long distances. Coherent communities would be split, perhaps multiple ways, to no good purpose. Before long, you will have rediscovered some of the basic keys to good districting, namely:&nbsp;<em>compactness</em>, with districts looking more like turtles than snakes or octopuses;&nbsp;<em>practical contiguity</em>, meaning that all sections of a&nbsp;district are accessible by road connections without having to leave the district; and&nbsp;<em>congruence</em>&nbsp;with the boundaries of other political subdivisions, such as counties and cities.</p> <p>Happily, each of these three desirable features can be translated into formulas in algorithm‐​friendly ways. While experts have devised many mathematical formulas to score compactness, picking any one of them will help curtail the worst gerrymanders. Likewise, a&nbsp;formula can keep track of the number of county splits (lower is better). Further prescriptions can install a&nbsp;decision mechanism such as splitting more populous counties before those that are less populous.</p> <p>Unfortunately, algorithms are far less adept at incorporating formulas for a&nbsp;fourth aspect of good districting, one that has been called&nbsp;<em>intelligibility</em>. People want at least a&nbsp;fighting chance to describe their district in words, and to guess correctly whether someone lives in it based on knowing where his or her residence is. Curved and diagonal lines usually don’t register as intelligible, while “east of the River” or “south of I-70” may work fine. And while some neighborhoods may need to be split to make the numbers come out evenly, intelligibility is lost if a&nbsp;district line heedlessly splits every neighborhood it hits rather than finding the boundaries between them.</p> <p>Because few of us are willing to jettison intelligibility entirely, fully algorithmic districting is unlikely to arrive anytime soon. But the impulse at least deserves respect, since it stands for the right goal: to confine the role of discretion. And it points the way to what is probably the most promising use of mathematics in districting, which is to pair quantifiable formulas with a&nbsp;band of discretion within which mapmakers are asked to pursue intelligibility. For example, it might be proposed that a&nbsp;lawful map must attain a&nbsp;compactness score no more than 20 percent worse than the most compact map taken under consideration, or that it must inflict no more than two more than the minimum attainable number of county splits.</p> <p>It’s unsurprising and true: States that have enacted clear, objective rules to guide mapmakers on topics like compactness and congruence tend to have far less of a&nbsp;gerrymandering problem than those that have not. The same kinds of rules also provide a&nbsp;firm basis for judicial review. While it is troublesome to give judges themselves massive discretion in line drawing—for one thing, it risks magnifying the role of politics in judicial selection, already a&nbsp;problem in many states—it is much less dangerous to assign them the quintessentially judicial task of holding others to clear and specific marching orders.</p> <p>For an example of a&nbsp;redistricting criterion that is anything but clear and objective, consider the notion that district lines should follow so‐​called communities of interest. No one can pin down what this means to general satisfaction. Should a&nbsp;town that is suburban, industrial, and coastal be grouped with other areas that are suburban? Industrial? Coastal? It’s a&nbsp;recipe for arbitrariness, disagreement, and manipulability. The same is true if a&nbsp;court is instructed to apply that same vague standard later on.</p> <p>The toughest question—on which it is hard to offer more than speculation—is that of who, if not political insiders, should draw the lines. The currently popular plan, adopted in such places as Arizona and California, is that of the independent citizen volunteer commission. Experience with this innovation has been mixed so far, with much depending on the details of how a&nbsp;given law is drawn. Over time, interest groups will probably attempt to influence, or even infiltrate, the citizen commission. At the same time, the new blueprints for citizen redistricting include powerful measures to shake up the old way of doing things, such as rules forbidding commissions to take into account the residence of any incumbent or the voter registration or voting history of any community.</p> <p>Public submission of maps, enabled by open databases and the availability of free or cheap software, holds great promise as well. For one thing, courts are more likely to provide effective judicial review if multiple maps are made available for comparison.</p> <p>Yet another reform blueprint is to turn over the task to a&nbsp;legislative services bureau bound by strong impartiality norms. The results have been applauded in Iowa, a&nbsp;state known for relatively clean politics in which the two main political parties are approximately equally matched. But legislative service bureaus in other states might prove less robust in resisting political influence.</p> <p>In the background are widening differences over what the goal of good districting should be in the first place. Those of us on the classical liberal side are likely to be inspired by the ideals of neutrality, impartiality, and objectivity. But some of the academics and commentators drawn to the controversy want a&nbsp;rough match between seat strength and voter strength—implicitly, a&nbsp;criterion of proportional representation, so that if a&nbsp;state is 40 percent Republican, say, somewhere around 40 percent of its seats will go to Republicans. A&nbsp;second group of thinkers takes the view that the chief evils to be fought are those of polarization and the alienation that arises from feeling one’s vote doesn’t matter; they thus advocate conscious efforts to create more competitive districts, especially ones that are competitive in general elections. (As Charles Blahous of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and others have shown, the trend has been for more districts to become competitive in party primaries, even as fewer remain competitive in the general.)</p> <p>These two latter schools of thought—proportional representation and a&nbsp;preference for the creation of more competitive districts—are in practical terms at odds with each other. When many districts are drawn to be competitive, relatively modest swings in voter sentiment can lead to large swings in seat control.</p> <p>The polarization issue is also more complicated than it may look. It is true that party positions in the U.S. House and many state legislatures have grown more polarized in recent decades, with a&nbsp;winnowing out of conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans. But the same dynamic can be seen in the U.S. Senate, and no one now alive plays any role in drawing&nbsp;<em>that</em>&nbsp;body’s boundaries. The best guess is that several forces are contributing to polarization, with gerrymandering one part of the mix.</p> <p>Proponents of proportional outcomes sometimes seem to be fighting a&nbsp;losing war against the inherent nature of America’s “first‐​past‐​the‐​post” electoral system, which has always tended to generate major gaps between voter strength and seat strength. (This faction might be better advised to throw its support behind a&nbsp;ranked‐​choice, Australian‐​ballot, or European‐​style system, each of which is meant to avoid this outcome.) At any rate, the result‐​minded thinkers in both schools have something important in common, which is that both are obliged to resort to line drawing that is intensely conscious of voters’ political leanings. It’s hard for either to get on board with the California idea of blinding mapmakers to political data about registration, voting history, and politicians’ residences.</p> <p>Indeed, once you accept a&nbsp;goal of corralling voters into patterns judged to yield good electoral outcomes, you may even grow cool (as some contemporary academics are) toward traditional neutral‐​impartial‐​objective criteria such as compactness and avoiding county splits. They just get in the way of reaching the right results.</p> <p><strong>Redistricting Reform Returns From the Dead</strong></p> <p>After many years of back‐​burner status, interest in partisan gerrymandering began mounting rapidly around 2015 for two reasons. First, constitutional litigators had a&nbsp;case they hoped to win. Second, the issue got pulled into the ceaseless noise machine of Red Team/​Blue Team warfare, because (as had not been the case over long historical stretches) one party was now doing significantly better from gerrymandering than the other.</p> <div align="center" id="anchor_subsequent6"></div> <p>For years, the only hope of getting the Supreme Court to recognize a&nbsp;constitutional remedy for gerrymandering turned on the cooperation of Justice Anthony Kennedy. With Kennedy’s tenure on the bench nearing what was to prove to be its end in 2018, a&nbsp;search went out for a&nbsp;case that might tempt him. That search failed. The “efficiency gap” test proffered in a&nbsp;case out of Wisconsin failed to persuade him. Kennedy then retired, after which the necessary votes weren’t there. In 2019, the Court used two cases—<em>Rucho v. Common Cause</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>Lamone v. Benisek</em>—to rule, 5–4, that there was no constitutional remedy to be had in federal court over partisan gerrymandering.&nbsp;But in the meantime, the usual publicity apparatus deployed for big Supreme Court cases had done its thing, and the issue had risen in public awareness.</p> <p>A brighter‐​than‐​usual spotlight on this issue also followed the 2010 wave election, in which Republicans ousted Democrats from 680 state legislative seats in the biggest such partisan pickup in history, flipping no fewer than 20 state legislative chambers. In what became an oft‐​told tale, the GOP carefully deployed its new power using a&nbsp;program called REDMAP, which helped in devising exquisitely detailed gerrymanders that enabled the party to push its advantage further against Democrats in state after state. It helped that database and geographic information system technologies were improving constantly so as to allow super‐​fine‐​grained assemblage of districts on the fly. Legislators were able to sort local voters by political preference down to individual blocks, buildings, and households—a far cry from the old days, when pulling off a&nbsp;gerrymander might require weeks amid maps and awkward printouts of voter data.</p> <p>Republicans enjoyed one other systemic advantage as well: Their objectives often meshed nicely with those of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA). That law sanctions and even encourages—though the courts have had trouble sorting out exactly to what extent—the creation and maintenance of race‐​conscious districts in which minority voters hold a&nbsp;majority big enough to elect a&nbsp;candidate of their choice. It’s an open secret that maps that result in significant black representation are often also maps where Republicans do well, since VRA districts funnel one of the most loyal Democratic voting groups off from the rest of the map.&nbsp;A&nbsp;Republican strategist could simply approach black legislators and ask them to draw their “perfect district.” Wildly noncompact districting was accepted as legitimate in many VRA situations; indeed, it’s not uncommon for districts that show up on lists of the worst partisan gerrymanders to have been created by legislators (or even suggested by judges) under a&nbsp;VRA rationale.</p> <p>Notwithstanding what happened in 2010, there has been little over the longer term to mark out gerrymandering as a&nbsp;distinctively Republican practice. In 1986, for example, officials of both major parties took positions more or less the opposite of their 2019 ones. In&nbsp;<em>Davis v. Bandemer</em>, a&nbsp;high‐​profile Supreme Court case from that year, the Republican National Committee filed an amicus brief in favor of strong Court intervention to correct partisan gerrymanders (a stance requiring it to argue against its own Indiana state party, which had engaged in the practice in the case at hand). As one of the brief’s co‐​authors explained the following year, Democrats had just pulled off a&nbsp;massive and successful gerrymander in the state of California, and Republican leaders foresaw the same thing happening in many other states, “since Democrats control considerably more state legislative houses than do Republicans.”</p> <p>Meanwhile, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee disparaged the idea that the federal courts should be in any hurry to jump in, saying that Republicans, having failed “to win control of more legislatures,” were now seeking “a quick fix” to make up their losses.</p> <p>In the longer run, unease at California gerrymanders did help touch off what became the most notable development in redistricting reform: the rise of independent citizen commissions, typically propelled by the ballot initiative process. Arizona went first with Proposition 106&nbsp;in 2000, followed by California with Proposition 11&nbsp;in 2008 and Proposition 20&nbsp;in 2010. (Prominent California Democrats, including once‐​and‐​future Speaker Nancy Pelosi, quietly worked to sabotage the latter effort and keep the electeds in control.)</p> <p>Map‐​related misconduct was indeed a&nbsp;bipartisan affair. A&nbsp;2006 report from Azavea, a&nbsp;geographical software applications firm, listed the 10 most gerrymandered states. At the time the maps were drawn, four were controlled by Democratic legislatures, five were controlled by Republican legislatures, and one was split. Of the 10 most gerrymandered districts, four were in states that had Democratic legislatures at the time of drawing, three were in states controlled by Republicans, and three were split. Illinois Democrats in 2016 managed to kill a&nbsp;referendum backed by 500,000 petition signers, just as Michigan Republicans have lately fought a&nbsp;pitched legal battle to foil a&nbsp;voter‐​backed plan for an independent commission. Maryland Democrats behave much like Texas Republicans, and so on.</p> <p><strong>What Comes Next?</strong></p> <p>Some of today’s momentum will continue, come what may. While the federal courts may have bolted their doors against gerrymander challenges, their state counterparts are still capable of surprises, especially when they draw on the language of state constitutions, as Pennsylvania’s high court did in striking down that state’s congressional map in 2018.</p> <p>A deeper problem for reformers is that they are beginning to run out of states with strong ballot‐​initiative and referendum provisions. Only 18 states allow voters to initiate laws or constitutional amendments directly, and the practical number is a&nbsp;few less than that, since several of the states make the process quite hard to use. Most districting reform successes in recent years have come in states where advocates either ran a&nbsp;ballot initiative or credibly threatened to do so, starting with Western states and more recently extending to Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri.</p> <p>With Democratic fortunes beginning to revive in the 2018 midterms, the party will soon face decisions about whether to pursue gerrymanders in Virginia and other newly consolidated states at the cost of giving up some of the moral high ground the party has briefly occupied on the issue. Meanwhile, Republicans, who have ceded so much of that same ground in the scramble for the imagined cartographic Ring of Power, will have to decide whether it’s worth trying to reclaim any. Barack Obama, who since his presidency ended has sometimes spoken out against gerrymandering, has now thrown in with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), an official Democratic activist organization, which may limit his maneuvering room to act in ways the party perceives as adverse to its interests.</p> <p>Wouldn’t it be neat, though, if there were a&nbsp;neutral reform that would do a&nbsp;powerful lot of good on a&nbsp;national basis, was plainly consistent with the U.S. Constitution, promised to work as intended with few or no unintended effects, and was easy to explain to boot? One that could slay buddymanders as well as gerrymanders of the extremely partisan kind?</p> <p>Good news: There is! What’s more, it’s been hiding in plain sight all the while. Charles Blahous describes it in a&nbsp;valuable 2019 paper for the Mercatus Center.</p> <p>It begins with the Elections Clause—Article I, Section 4—in which the Constitution grants Congress an express role in overseeing the elections states hold for the House of Representatives. The wording makes clear that it is allocating power so as to give state legislatures the lead but not the final word: “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations.”</p> <p>Congress has used its enumerated powers in this area for well over 150&nbsp;years. For example, it has at various points (including the present) required that states elect House members from single‐ rather than multi‐​member districts. It also began requiring states to divide population equally among House districts long before the Supreme Court began interpreting the Constitution to require as much.</p> <p>Less well known is that for about 30&nbsp;years a&nbsp;century ago, Congress extended its oversight to include other good districting practices. The Apportionment Act of 1901, whose relevant terms remained in effect until 1929, stated that districts must be made up of “contiguous and compact territory and containing as nearly as practicable an equal number of inhabitants.” There is no reason why such rules could not be re‐​enacted today, updated (as Blahous persuasively argues) to specify a&nbsp;quantitative test of the sort that political scientists regularly employ. In measuring compactness across states, it makes sense to disregard elements of noncompactness that derive from the irregularity of states’ external outlines, since Florida cannot help being more elongated than South Carolina, for example. A&nbsp;fairer comparison can be obtained by focusing on the length of district lines that are interior to the silhouette.</p> <p>Depending on how much pressure it wishes to apply against gerrymandering, Congress would be free to make an overall compactness standard easier or tougher. For example, of the 18 states that already have a&nbsp;legal compactness requirement for House districts on their books, none currently has any districts with a “G score” (a metric that adjusts for exterior state boundaries) above 150. If Congress set the threshold at that level, it would render just 5&nbsp;percent of current districts illegal, but those would include most if not all of what are known as the most egregious gerrymanders. If it proceeded to a&nbsp;somewhat tougher standard of 125, it would make 8&nbsp;percent of current districts illegal.</p> <p>Either way, we’d finally be rid of those oddly shaped, colorfully nicknamed monsters whose habitat is our electoral maps—districts like the Duck, the Snake by the Lake, the Broken‐​Winged Pterodactyl. And we wouldn’t miss them.</p> </div> Walter Olson is senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of several books on law. Tue, 30 Jun 2020 09:25:07 -0400 Walter Olson The Supreme Court Delivers a Huge Win for Kids — and Against Bigotry <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Corey A. DeAngelis</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling in <em>Espinoza v. Montana</em>&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">was a&nbsp;huge win for American families</a>&nbsp;and supporters of school choice. The decision paves the way for granting students the freedom to attend religious schools using a&nbsp;state’s tax‐​credit scholarship funding.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Back in 2018, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the state’s only private‐​school choice program was unconstitutional, because families could use tax‐​credit scholarship dollars to send their children to religious schools. The Supremes reversed that decision in a&nbsp;5–4 ruling.</p> <p>The Montana ruling, they held, unconstitutionally prevented families from using program funding to choose religious schools for their kids — a&nbsp;violation of the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment. Excluding families from using program funding at religious schools, the majority argued, is discrimination by the government on the basis of religion.</p> <p>The ruling built on precedent. In a&nbsp;2002 case, the Supremes had held that voucher programs can be legally used to pay for religious schools. That’s because the funding goes to families, which can then choose to send their kids to religious or nonreligious private schools. It’s the same reason why publicly funded Pell Grants can be used at private universities with religious affiliations without violating the Establishment Clause.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>The US Supreme Court’s decision in the Montana case marks another step toward erasing the stain of anti‐​Catholic hatred written into the laws of many states. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Then, too, Montana’s private‐​school choice program is privately funded: Tax‐​credit scholarship funding never ends up in the tax collector’s hands — which means the money headed to religious organizations never crossed the government’s palm in the first place.</p> <p>So much for the (sound) reasoning. Today’s decision means that private‐​school choice programs are forbidden from discriminating against religious families by <a href="" target="_blank">excluding religious schools from participation</a>. This has a&nbsp;few important implications.</p> <p>First, Montana’s tax‐​credit scholarship program will resume operation. This also means that states like Maine and New Hampshire — which have private‐​school choice programs that prohibit families from using funding at religious institutions — will now have to allow participating families the choice of sending their children to religious private schools.</p> <p>This decision also strikes a&nbsp;blow to the discriminatory “Blaine Amendments” found in 37 state constitutions. These amendments, which have often blocked families from using school‐​choice program funding to send their children to private schools, are rooted in the anti‐​immigrant and specifically anti‐​Catholic bigotry of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.</p> <p>As education scholar Matthew Ladner recently pointed out, “public schools in those days were pervasively religious, but ‘non‐​sectarian,’ meaning vaguely Protestant.” The Blaine Amendments were therefore used to favor the majority religious group, Protestants, over religious minorities such as Catholics (and Jews), by barring funding to their “sectarian” schools.</p> <p>Some of American history’s most odious groups, including the Know‐​Nothings and the Ku Klux Klan, warned of a “Catholic Menace” and even fought to outlaw private schooling altogether in states like Oregon. The Klan, says Ladner, “approved of the curriculum in the public schools and wanted to make sure those Catholic kids became ‘real Americans,’ or in any case, what early 20th‐​century Klansmen viewed as ‘real Americans.’ ”</p> <p>Although these groups succeeded in banning private schooling in 1922&nbsp;in Oregon, the US Supreme Court thankfully struck down that discriminatory law in Pierce v. Society of Sisters in 1925, when Associate Justice James McReynolds famously stated that “the child is not the mere creature of the state.”</p> <p>The US Supreme Court’s decision in the Montana case marks another step toward erasing the stain of anti‐​Catholic hatred written into the laws of many states. Religious liberty, parental rights and educational freedom all won at the court.</p> <p>But the real winners are America’s children.</p> </div> Corey A. DeAngelis is director of school choice at the Reason Foundation and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. Twitter: @DeAngelisCorey Tue, 30 Jun 2020 08:25:51 -0400 Corey A. DeAngelis Back to the Future: U.S. Negotiates With War Advocates and Criminals of Old <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Doug Bandow</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The last couple of weeks brought momentous news from the Balkans. The Serb politician who began his career as chief propagandist to Yugoslavia’s authoritarian leader throughout the Balkan wars enjoyed a&nbsp;big election victory. The Kosovo politician who served as one of the top insurgent commanders who helped win that nation’s independence was indicted for war crimes. The Trump administration’s effort to bring them together to resolve their nations’ differences collapsed.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>At the president’s behest, his jack‐​of‐​all‐​trades aide Richard Grenell had hoped to clinch a&nbsp;stunning peace deal by inviting Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar President Hashim Thaci to meet at the White House last Saturday. But Grenell was embarrassed and frustrated. In contrast, the Europeans could barely suppress their glee after Grenell left them on the sidelines.</p> <p>Kosovo is one of many international issues dominated by ethnically based interest groups. In 1998 and 1999 Albanian‐​Americans organized to push Washington to support the burgeoning insurgency in Kosovo, an autonomous territory within Serbia. The U.S. had no reason to get involved, since the bloody consequences were limited though tragic and had no meaningful security consequences for America.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>But at least the Trump administration is not treating Serbia in the ugly way its predecessors (and NATO) went out of their way to do. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Even the moral equities were complex. Kosovo’s history recorded abuse by both ethnic groups, since Albanians predominated locally and Serbs nationally. In the late 1990s, the Yugoslav military was playing rough, but insurgencies rarely are pleasant affairs. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) killed ethnic Serbs and Albanians with equal enthusiasm, especially the latter when accused of collaboration. U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard observed that the KLA was “without any questions, a&nbsp;terrorist group.”</p> <p>The lack of security relevance, however, made the Balkans of interest to the Clinton administration,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">going back to the initial violent breakup of Yugoslavia</a>, which was far more complicated than the morality play often assumed, with brutality, murder, and mayhem all around. It seemed the less strategically important, the greater the administration’s desire to act. Led by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who had expressed her belief that there was no reason for America to possess such a “superb military” unless it was used, and used promiscuously, Washington’s determined social engineers decamped for the French town of Rambouillet. There they tried to force the fast‐​diminishing country of Yugoslavia, which already had lost Bosnia, Croatia, and Slovenia, to accept NATO administration of Kosovo and effective occupation of the rest of the country, with freedom of movement and from prosecution guaranteed for allied personnel. When Belgrade refused, off to war went the Clintonistas.</p> <p>The first consequence was to trigger a&nbsp;Serb plan to drive hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians from their homes. It was a&nbsp;terrible crime, yet it was actually a&nbsp;response to NATO’s unprovoked attack on Yugoslavia. Belgrade badly miscalculated: other atrocity stories generated by the KLA and circulated by NATO were quickly disproved. But the mass ethnic cleansing retrospectively seemed to justify the very intervention that sparked the crime.</p> <p>Even then the Clinton administration was unwilling to risk public displeasure by introducing ground troops, so it just bombed and bombed and bombed — for 78&nbsp;days — until Belgrade finally agreed to the occupation of Kosovo, though not the rest of the country. American commander Wesley Clarke was barely prevented from starting World War III by his British deputy, who refused to block Russian forces racing to Kosovo to secure a&nbsp;place in the occupation.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Events only went downhill from there</a>. Ethnic Albanians kicked out a&nbsp;quarter of a&nbsp;million ethnic Serbs, Roma, and other ethnic and religious minorities. The Kosovo government gained a&nbsp;reputation for corruption, criminality, and violence. The U.S. and Europe promoted faux negotiations, with the outcome preset as Kosovo’s independence. Pristina eventually dropped all pretense and claimed nationhood, but Serbia, Russia, several members of the European Union, and others refused to recognize the new state, which remains barred from both the United Nations and EU.</p> <p>Kosovo’s politics has been dominated by former leaders of the KLA. Hashim Thaci, whose KLA&nbsp;<em>nom de guerre</em>&nbsp;was “the Snake,” became the first prime minister of the new nation in 2008. As coalitions changed he later held positions as foreign minister and deputy premier. In 2016, he was elected Kosovo’s president. Many KLA fighters, including Thaci, were accused of criminal behavior during the war. Nevertheless, the U.S. and Europe, though not Serbia, largely ignored the charges, working with those who dominated Pristina’s politics.</p> <p>Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who oversaw the campaign against the KLA, was subsequently defeated for reelection and then extradited to the Hague for trial for crimes against humanity (he died of a&nbsp;heart attack during the proceedings). Serbian politics remained on the nationalist side, as successive governments rejected Kosovo’s independence and remained close to Russia. Nevertheless, hope for economic gain and eventual entry into the European Union led to intermittent negotiations and occasional agreements as well as unsurprising spats with Kosovo.</p> <p>The dominant political figure in Serbia today is the surprising Vucic. He served as Minister of Information under Milosevic, went into opposition as a&nbsp;hardline nationalist after the latter’s ouster, but in 2008 shifted parties and ideologies, becoming a&nbsp;moderate, populist conservative, pro‐​EU and economic reform. He entered government in 2012 as minister of defense and deputy prime minister. Two years later, he was premier. In 2017, he was elected president.</p> <p>He has come under sharp criticism for trending close to the authoritarian line, especially with press restrictions. He has remained close to Moscow and recently embraced China for its coronavirus aid. Yet he proclaimed his commitment to the EU and is widely viewed as an opportunist willing to make any deal that he believes to be politically advantageous.</p> <p>While Thaci and Vucic came to dominate their respective countries, the EU devoted much time and effort to browbeating Serbia to accept the loss of what was viewed as the cradle of Serbian history. But EU bureaucrats who thought everything could be compromised for money underestimated the power of nationalist passion and cultural identification. Although no Serb could seriously imagine a&nbsp;return of Kosovo to Serbian rule, resistance to abandoning the claim, as well as the thousands of ethnic Serbs who remained in Kosovo but desired to stay with Serbia, remained strong. Vucic insisted that “In reply to a&nbsp;possible offer to recognize Kosovo and that Kosovo enters the UN, and we receive nothing in return, except EU membership, our answer would be ‘no.’ ”</p> <p>Enter Richard Grenell, the just‐​retired ambassador to Germany. Although an atypical and controversial diplomat, President Donald Trump made him special envoy to the Balkans last fall. Grenell cheerfully jumped into Pristina’s unique political snakepit, in April orchestrating the downfall of the prime minister, who refused to end Kosovar trade sanctions against Belgrade. The deposed Albin Kurti called the maneuver “a parliamentary coup d’état” and claimed that “It is the first time now that we have an American envoy, he has the same identical stance with Serbia.”</p> <p>The Europeans naturally were livid at Grenell’s involvement, even though they had had no meaningful success in resolving the impasse. The typical Brussels Eurocrat is happy to negotiate everything and compromise anything, but not when Serbia was concerned. EU diplomats hosted meetings and encouraged talks, but proved powerless to get Serbs to abandon an emotional if hopeless claim to historic territory.</p> <p>Yet all was not lost. Thaci and Vucic began talking about possible territorial swaps. Residents of the largely Serb enclave of Mitrovica in Kosovo’s north desired to remain in Serbia. Those living in the largely Albanian Presevo Valley in Serbia’s south would prefer to be in Kosovo. A&nbsp;trade, euphemistically called “border correction,” could satisfy both sides. The State Department shifted position to endorse the idea in 2018.</p> <p>The idea horrified the European establishment, which decried opening up border changes. Eurocrats who run the EU are the ultimate social engineers and complained since they favor federal, multi‐​ethnic states, irrespective of residents’ wishes. Paddy Ashdown, who played dictatorial colonial governor in Bosnia after the 1995 Dayton Accord forced the warring parties to stay together, asserted, “Sustainable peace can only come when we learn to live in multi‐​ethnic communities, rather than re‐​drawing borders to create mono‐​ethnic ones.” That’s beautiful in theory but long experience demonstrates that it is foolish — and sometimes deadly — to allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.</p> <p>Also frantic were leaders of nations facing their own separatist movements, such as Spain (think Basques and Catalans). Nevertheless, the American and European governments had opened up the boundary issue when they dismembered Serbia, which required multiple and monumental territorial shifts. Allowing everyone but Serbian ethnic minorities to change their governments reflected obvious bias.</p> <p>Kurti accused Grenell of favoring the move. The latter claimed not to have talked about the issue, which seemed unlikely if he was serious about forging a&nbsp;compromise. To advance an agreement he had scheduled a&nbsp;meeting at the White House between Thaci and Vucic for Saturday June 27. Grenell said only economic issues would be on the agenda, to build trust. Of course, side discussions could easily occur even if the topic was not formally on the agenda. Moreover, he said broader peace talks were planned for later in the year. To be successful any negotiations would have to reach the fundamental issues of identity and nationhood.</p> <p>Buoyed by his big election victory a&nbsp;couple weeks ago, Vucic could withstand any popular antagonism toward trading away the Serbian claim to Kosovo. Especially if he gained the return of Mitrovica, which would be an obvious nationalist achievement.</p> <p>Thaci also looked like someone who could deliver. He was one of the people without whom Kosovo would not be independent. He enjoyed popular support and combat credibility, which could deflect complaints for compromising with Serbia. Having gotten his hands dirty in the past, he probably could help muscle any agreement through parliament.</p> <p>But a&nbsp;funny thing happened on the way to the White House show. Last week Thaci and nine other Kosovars were indicted by a&nbsp;special prosecutor in the Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was charged with involvement in upwards of 100 murders. (So was a&nbsp;former parliamentary speaker.) Despite Thaci’s vociferous denials, his responsibility would surprise no one. After the announcement he headed back to Kosovo. The new prime minister, Avdullah Hoti, was expected to act as substitute, but he would have been at sea in the negotiations and without the political clout necessary to defend the result. He also decided against attending.</p> <p>So Grenell canceled the gathering. He hasn’t given up. And he has a&nbsp;potentially powerful selling point: if Trump loses, the Biden administration is likely to start afresh. Moreover, the usual foreign service officers who would reemerge in a&nbsp;Biden administration would be more likely to defer to the EU, as in the past. In which case chances of a&nbsp;deal would diminish.</p> <p>But the way forward is unclear. Kosovar politics could become chaotic. Thaci is likely to be preoccupied and reluctant to take a&nbsp;potentially controversial position when he needs solid support at home. If he is extradited, Kosovars might focus their ire on outside actors, including Serbia and the EU, and be less willing to consider compromise.</p> <p>The path for Vucic would seem to be clearer, with the recent renewal of his popular mandate. But the magnitude of his victory — his party won three‐​quarters of the seats in parliament — reflects an opposition boycott to protest his anti‐​democratic practices. Moreover, it might not be as easy for him to sell a&nbsp;deal with an accused war criminal. The charges are not new but have been officially validated.</p> <p>Further roiling the waters, Vucic recently added to his sometime tilt toward Moscow a&nbsp;kowtow to Beijing. He might prefer to keep his options open and maintain his leverage, since he has few fans in the EU other than Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. Making a&nbsp;deal and fully committing to the EU might not be his best move at the moment.</p> <p>In fact, Brussels and Washington will be very interested to see in what direction he decides to move. Vucic is no dictator, but as a&nbsp;strongman in a&nbsp;recent democracy with weak civil institutions he has undermined the liberal political order. Which left the group Freedom House to make an almost schizophrenic assessment:</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>The Republic of Serbia is a&nbsp;parliamentary democracy with competitive multiparty elections, but in recent years the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) has steadily eroded political rights and civil liberties, putting pressure on independent media, the political opposition, and civil society organizations. Despite these trends, the country has continued to move toward membership in the European Union.</p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Concern over possible abuse of his authority for political advantage, though legitimate, isn’t likely to have great effect. Although it is theoretically easier for the EU to punish a&nbsp;non‐​member, simply cutting aid and blocking entry, the organization has less reason to prioritize a&nbsp;state which cannot directly influence the organization. And with other Balkan states entering the EU, leaving out Serbia might create even more regional trouble.</p> <p>Moreover, the Trump administration, at least, cares naught about human rights when friendly states are involved. The EU treats such concerns more seriously but has achieved little in the more important cases of Hungary and Poland. Vucic’s machinations appear modest in comparison: He is no poster boy for tyranny. An organization made up of sovereign governments cannot easily discipline sovereign governments, especially when the perceived abuses are moderate and indirect.</p> <p>Also at issue is Russian and Chinese influence in Belgrade. Indeed, the International and Security Affairs Centre figured that Serbia’s agreement with EU foreign policy positions has dropped sharply since 2012. Yet several nations, including Greece and Italy, differ sharply with Brussels over important questions such as policy toward Moscow. Even Germany dissents from the U.S. line, which Congress attempted to enforce by sanctioning the Nordstream 2&nbsp;natural gas pipeline with Russia, raising Berlin’s ire.</p> <p>Attempting to redirect Belgrade’s perspective won’t be easy — and probably isn’t worth the effort. Moscow’s role is historic: It was the Russian Empire that backed Serbia when Austro‐​Hungary issued its famous ultimatum in July 1914. Moscow backed Serbia in the early 1990s&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">when the U.S. and Europe largely ignored attacks</a>&nbsp;on ethnic Serbs during Yugoslavia’s breakup. The allies continued their bias after occupying Kosovo,&nbsp;<a href="">doing little to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Serb minority</a>.</p> <p>Since then Russia has defended Serbia and blocked Kosovo from international forums. More recently the Putin government sent COVID-19 aid, including biological war specialists to help disinfect hospitals. To emphasize the continuing bilateral relationship Vucic traveled to Moscow in June to attend the pandemic‐​delayed World War II victory parade. After meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Vucic said that any deal would require Russia’s consent.</p> <p>Indeed, for years successive Serbian governments found a&nbsp;dramatic way to ensure that memories of the West’s perfidy when Serbia was attacked by NATO would not disappear. The Serbian government placed the bombed‐​out Ministry of Defense building, which I&nbsp;jogged by years ago when visiting Belgrade, on its list of protected cultural monuments. The reconstruction process began only in 2015, 16&nbsp;years after it was wrecked, and proposals to either repair or replace the damaged structure remained controversial. The Association of Serbian Architects advocated the ruined building’s preservation as a “monument of suffering and brutality of NATO force.” Even today, after the country’s shift westward, not all Serbs believe President George W. Bush’s claim, made as Kosovo prepared to declare independence, that “the Serbian people can know they have a&nbsp;friend in America.” (At the time demonstrators responded negatively by attacking the U.S. embassy and setting it afire.)</p> <p>Nevertheless, Belgrade still has far greater economic dealings with the rest of Europe and military relations with NATO than either with Russia. Moreover, Jelena Milic of the Center for Euro‐​Atlantic Studies&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">contended</a>&nbsp;that even the growing relationship with the PRC “is less about China and more about counterbalancing Russia, which is force‐​feeding Serbia weapons sales and various other forms of military cooperation.”</p> <p>The attraction to Beijing is more recent but more intense, given the toll taken by COVID-19. The People’s Republic of China backed Yugoslavia during the war and shared in Serbians’ suffering when the U.S. inadvertently bombed the Chinese embassy. The PRC, highly sensitive to separatism and “splittism” of any sort, also opposed Kosovo’s independence. Indeed, argued Milic earlier this year:</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>The cooperative relationship between Serbia and China in recent years is at least partially an outgrowth of the Kosovo dispute. Belgrade appreciates and seeks to expand relations with virtually all countries that have not recognized Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence.</p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Unsurprisingly, China is Serbia’s most important economic partner from Asia; imports from China lag behind only those from Germany and Italy. The Pupin Bridge over the Danube, financed and built by Beijing, and that nation’s first large infrastructure project in Europe, is informally known as the “Chinese bridge.” Prime Minister Li Keqiang attended the opening ceremony. In 2016, China purchased a&nbsp;failing steel plant, preserving jobs otherwise destined to disappear. The same year the two countries announced a&nbsp;strategic partnership and in 2017 made travel visa free.</p> <p>This year the PRC provided assistance — a&nbsp;medical team and test kits — to fight the coronavirus. With Europe originally less helpful, Vucic dismissed “European solidarity” as a “nonexistent … fairy tale on paper” while lauding the Chinese as “the only ones who can help us in this difficult situation.” On the Chinese personnel’s arrival in Belgrade, Vucic kissed a&nbsp;Chinese flag and exclaimed, “Thank you very much to my brother, President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people.” Assistance did ultimately come from the EU and other European nations but received far less attention. A&nbsp;military exercise is planned with Chinese forces later this year.</p> <p>Yet Belgrade is not alone in playing with others. Italy welcomed Chinese investment and workers, which is one reason COVID-19 hit its industrial north so hard, and Chinese medical assistance. Early sentiment trended sharply against the EU, though that may ebb as the health crisis continues to ease and the EU approves relief spending. Moreover, continental hostility toward the PRC has risen, especially after the delivery of defective medical equipment and pressure to toe Beijing’s line.</p> <p>Nevertheless, Serbia’s economic ties with the continent remain far stronger, and EU membership would link Belgrade more tightly to its neighbors and the rest of Europe. Vucic said he does not plan on choosing among competing powers, explaining that “As far as we are concerned, we are on the European path. We are not giving up on that.” Indeed, last week while expressing his appreciation for “the efforts of Richard Grenell to find economic solutions between us and Pristina,” Vucic emphasized that “we are completely committed to the EU‐​led political dialogue.”</p> <p>The best way to enhance Western influence would be to resolve the Kosovo standoff with a&nbsp;meaningful concession to Serbia. Vucic noted that we “unequivocally get that support for the integrity of Serbia from China and Russia and, on the other hand, we have very good economic cooperation and cooperation in all other areas.” Remove Kosovo and much of the East’s appeal would fade. Argued Milic:</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>The solution to Kosovo lies in Europe and the United States. Belgrade understands this well. Serbia is not seeking to replace the West as its principal partner and, despite the current rhetoric and public expressions of gratitude, no amount of Chinese aid to fight coronavirus is going to change that.</p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The Balkans long has spread instability throughout Europe. The Clinton administration should have stayed out of the geopolitical mess created by Yugoslavia’s implosion, insisting that European nations again act like the serious actors they once were and address the problem. The Bush administration should not have pushed to dismantle Serbia while pretending to be Belgrade’s friend. The Obama administration should not have joined with the EU to demand that Serbia surrender what it always defended, its territorial integrity. Yet Brussels and Washington treated Belgrade’s, but not Pristina’s, refusal to surrender as “intransigence.”</p> <p>But the past will not be undone. The Trump administration deserves credit for making a&nbsp;serious attempt to stabilize at least one small part of the region, given the EU’s continuing failure. Although the latest effort just went bust, the administration shouldn’t give up. It still might succeed where the Obama administration failed dismally.</p> </div> Doug Bandow is a&nbsp;Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire. Sun, 28 Jun 2020 09:31:09 -0400 Doug Bandow Take Back Cities for People and the Automobiles They Use <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Randal O&#039;Toole</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The pandemic has reminded us that our society has to be resilient to face all sorts of unexpected events, and this is doubly true for transportation. The good news is that the United States already has the most resilient transportation system in the world. The bad news is that some people are trying to take it away from us.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Transportation needs to deal with all kinds of unexpected events, including terrorist attacks such as 9/11, natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and southern California wildfires, economic downturns such as the 2008 financial crisis, and of course pandemics such as COVID-19. The most resilient transportation in all of these cases is motor vehicles and highways.</p> <p>Terrorists seek to horrify the populace and disrupt the economy. When they choose a&nbsp;transportation target, it is almost always some form of mass transportation such as&nbsp;subways or high‐​speed trains. Even a&nbsp;crowded highway isn’t dense enough to cause much horror and, unlike rail lines, which can take weeks to repair, nearly all highways have alternative routes.</p> <p>When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005,&nbsp;123,000 people&nbsp;in New Orleans lived in households that had no automobiles. When the levy failed, those with cars got out; many of those without cars were forced to stay and more than 1,000 people died. A&nbsp;few weeks later, when Hurricane Rita hit the Texas Gulf Coast, where auto ownership rates were much higher,&nbsp;3.7 million people&nbsp;were able to evacuate in a&nbsp;couple of days.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Fifty years ago, people’s concerns about automobiles were justified. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Mass transportation systems such as Amtrak and public transit are particularly vulnerable to recessions. Because they are so labor‐​intensive, a&nbsp;decline in revenues can force&nbsp;major cutbacks in service. Highways, once built, are there when you need them; they aren’t going to go away because revenues to the agency that built them has temporarily declined.</p> <p>Before the current pandemic, research found that people who ride transit are nearly&nbsp;six times more likely&nbsp;to suffer from acute respiratory diseases than those who do not. Masks help, but — as&nbsp;the CDC recently advised — the safest way to travel during an epidemic is in your own private automobile.</p> <p>Despite the tremendous advantages of autos over mass transportation, a&nbsp;powerful anti‐​auto movement remains. A&nbsp;New York Times&nbsp;article recently urged cities to “take back streets from the automobile,” as if people in cars are less important than people who aren’t in cars.</p> <p>In the decade before the pandemic, Los Angeles Metro lost a&nbsp;third of its bus riders. Metro’s solution?&nbsp;Make traffic congestion worse. “It’s too easy to drive in this city,” said Phil Washington, Metro’s CEO, about the city that is perennially at or near the top of the list of the&nbsp;worst congested areas&nbsp;in the country. He wants to turn lanes now open to all traffic into exclusive bus lanes so that his empty buses can zip by frustrated motorists.</p> <p>Cities across the country are participating in a&nbsp;movement to make congestion worse. Sometimes called “road diets,” sometimes “complete streets,” the goal is to take lanes away from motor vehicles.</p> <p>The results can be deadly. When a&nbsp;2008 wildfire burned near Paradise, California, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the city realized it needed&nbsp;better evacuation routes. Instead, it put its only four‐​lane street on a&nbsp;road diet, removing two of the lanes. When a&nbsp;fire burned through the city in 2018, more than 80 people died,&nbsp;many in their cars&nbsp;while they were stuck in traffic.</p> <p>Fifty years ago, people’s concerns about automobiles were justified. Cars were energy hogs, spewing pollution that darkened the skies of our cities, and killing 50 people per billion vehicle miles in highway accidents.</p> <p>Those problems were&nbsp;reduced&nbsp;not by forcing people out of their cars but by making cars cleaner, safer, and more energy‐​efficient. Compared with 1970, autos use only half the energy, emit only 3&nbsp;percent as much toxic pollution, kill 78 percent fewer people per billion vehicle miles in accidents, and improve each year. Irrationally, opposition continues as if automobiles were still as bad as they were in 1970.</p> <p>In spite of anti‐​auto policies, 80 percent of passenger travel and 90 percent of urban travel is by automobile. It’s time to take back cities for people and the automobiles that have liberated them to reach more productive jobs, better homes, lower‐​cost consumer goods, and greater recreation and social opportunities. That means fighting the road dieters, congestifiers, and others who think that the primary goal of transportation policy should be to force people out of their cars.</p> </div> Randal O’Toole is a&nbsp;Cato Institute senior fellow specializing in transportation and land‐​use policy and the author of&nbsp;“<a href="">Romance of the Rails: Why the Passenger Trains We Love Are Not the Transportation We Need</a>. Sat, 27 Jun 2020 09:56:50 -0400 Randal O'Toole Now Is the Time to Shed Our Middle Eastern Burdens <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Ted Galen Carpenter</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>A key lesson from the coronavirus pandemic is that the United States needs to terminate unnecessary expenses and wasteful, unworkable policies. The cost alone entailed in dealing with the crisis—some $4 trillion and counting—makes such reforms imperative. The need to focus on core security challenges, especially Beijing’s increasingly worrisome behavior, reinforces that urgency on the international front.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>One crucial change is to insist that the European allies not only take responsibility for their own defense instead of relying on the United States—a step that is long overdue—but also assume the lead role in dealing with Middle East issues. Geographic considerations alone should be sufficient incentive for a&nbsp;major policy shift. The Middle East is adjacent to Europe but thousands of miles from the American homeland. Washington should not be in charge of efforts to preserve stability, protect the oil flow, prevent human rights abuses, and confront the multitude of other problems that bedevil that region. Middle East developments have a&nbsp;direct impact to varying degrees on the wellbeing of European countries. The wave of refugees fleeing war‐​torn Middle East nations and flowing into Europe is an example of such relevance to the Continent.</p> <p>The impact of adverse Middle East developments on the United States is far milder because of the greater distance and other factors. America’s minimal dependence on oil from that area (especially in a&nbsp;world now awash with oil supplies) gives this country more options than those available to European powers. Moreover, Washington’s track record in trying to manage Middle Eastern affairs to maintain stability is unimpressive. Even before the U.S.-created fiascos in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, America’s meddling had created more problems than it solved. The European powers, probably working through the European Union (EU), might not do a&nbsp;better job of addressing the region’s many challenges, but they could scarcely do worse.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>No more hostility towards Iran—let’s instead shift responsibility for Tehran to the Europeans. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Policy regarding Iran should be the first stage in transferring responsibility to the EU. Washington’s ultra‐​hostile stance toward Tehran has caused considerable suffering to the Iranian people, but Iran’s clerical government still shows few signs of capitulating. It’s increasingly evident that the EU and key individual European powers (especially Germany and France) are not in accord with the U.S. strategy. Dissension has become undeniable, especially over the past two years.</p> <p>Washington’s 2018 withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) constraining Tehran’s nuclear program generated noticeable push‐​back from the other signatories to the agreement. Not only Russia and China opposed the Trump administration’s move; Britain, France, and Germany did so as well.&nbsp;Even those long‐​standing U.S. allies refused to follow the United States in reimposing economic sanctions on Tehran.&nbsp;Indeed, they and other EU members endeavored to shield Iran from punitive U.S. measures.</p> <p>Allied annoyance mounted in early 2019, when the Trump administration continued to press the European signatories to rescind their adherence to the JCPOA. Germany and the other countries bluntly refused. Washington exacerbated already serious transatlantic frictions in April 2019 when it eliminated some of the boycott waivers it had previously granted to firms in EU countries. Allied governments sharply criticized that step and other moves to tighten sanctions on Iran.</p> <p>European leaders also resisted U.S. efforts to push for military measures against Iran after a&nbsp;series of mysterious attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman during May and June 2019. The Trump administration charged that Tehran was responsible for those attacks and that they posed a&nbsp;serious threat to international shipping. Administration officials, with National Security Adviser John Bolton taking the lead, sought to build a&nbsp;case for joint U.S.-NATO military retaliation against Iranian targets.</p> <p>European leaders, though, adopted a&nbsp;more nuanced, cautious stance. They noted that the captain of one of the tankers disputed Washington’s thesis that damage to his ship was the result of an Iranian attack, and that evidence in the other cases was murky and inconclusive. Instead of responding favorably to U.S. pressure for a&nbsp;military response, the major European powers opted for a&nbsp;joint deployment of their naval assets to boost patrols in the Gulf. An unsettling aspect of that decision from Washington’s standpoint was that they did so not under NATO’s auspices or as subordinate players in a&nbsp;U.S.-led effort, but as an independent, ad hoc, European initiative. Once again, European governments were taking steps to put some distance between their policies toward Iran and those Trump administration leaders wanted to pursue.</p> <p>Even the September 2019 drone attacks that severely damaged two major Saudi oil facilities did not stampede the European countries into embracing the use of military force against Iran. U.S. officials insisted that Iran was the source of the attack, although the evidence was only circumstantial. Once again, though, Washington’s allies opted for continued diplomacy with Tehran rather than risk plunging the Middle East into a&nbsp;wider war. There was growing clarity that the EU governments had their own policy agenda regarding Iran, and that agenda differed noticeably from the one Washington favored.&nbsp;</p> <p>The resistance to America’s Iran policy continues to escalate. In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, which hit Iran especially hard, the Trump administration not only refused to ease the existing punitive economic measures, but imposed fresh sanctions in an effort to compel the Iranian regime to release some detained Americans. European leaders rejected that cruel policy and spurned Washington’s warnings to maintain a&nbsp;hard line toward Tehran. Instead, the EU provided a&nbsp;20 million euro financial and medical aid package to assist Iran and continues to pressure Washington to change its overall sanctions policy.</p> <p>The EU powers also have pursued a&nbsp;more balanced policy toward the longstanding regional power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Until recently, when a&nbsp;chill developed in Washington’s relations with Riyadh, the United States invariably supported the Saudi position on an array of issues relevant to that rivalry. In addition, Washington poured billions of dollars in weaponry into the Kingdom. U.S. support escalated significantly in the autumn of 2019 when the Trump administration stationed F‐​15s and Patriot missile batteries in Saudi Arabia.</p> <p>An especially telling example of the U.S. bias regarding the Iranian‐​Saudi contest for regional preeminence was the decision to back a&nbsp;Saudi‐​led coalition’s war to prevent Iranian‐​backed Houthi rebels in Yemen from achieving victory. When that intervention began in the spring of 2015, Barack Obama’s administration not only supported the coalition diplomatically, it provided intelligence to Saudi military commanders and refueled coalition aircraft so that they could conduct bombing operations against Houthi forces. That support continued despite mounting evidence of coalition attacks on civilians and the commission of other war crimes, and the policy persisted during the Trump administration. International and domestic pressure, including passage of a&nbsp;congressional resolution opposing further U.S. involvement in the conflict, eventually caused the administration to back‐​pedal, ending the refueling assistance.</p> <p>Some European powers, notably Britain and France, went along with Washington’s pro‐​Saudi policy regarding Yemen. But other EU players became increasingly critical of the coalition’s conduct and sought ways to bring an end to the fighting. They recognized that although Iran did provide some backing to the Houthis, the rebels were far from being Tehran’s puppets (Riyadh’s justification for its intervention) and that a&nbsp;more balanced, restrained policy by outside powers was appropriate.</p> <p>Washington’s decades‐​long obsessive hostility toward Iran has produced toxic results. It’s apparent that the European allies increasingly chafe at that policy and want a&nbsp;change. Until now, the close U.S. ties with Saudi Arabia inhibited any chance of a&nbsp;meaningful policy change, despite European wishes for a&nbsp;more balanced stance toward Iran. But the Trump administration’s anger at Riyadh for its March 2020 decision to ramp up oil production—a move that devastated U.S. domestic energy companies—may create an opportunity for new policy options. Washington’s subsequent decision to withdraw its Patriot batteries from Saudi Arabia bracingly conveyed the new chill in U.S.-Saudi relations.</p> <p>That development should impel administration policymakers to seize the chance for a&nbsp;lower U.S. profile in the chronically turbulent Middle East. Washington needs to offload to the EU and its leading powers primary responsibility regarding that region, beginning with policy toward Iran. The U.S. strategy of “maximum pressure” on that country and knee‐​jerk support for its equally repressive, duplicitous Saudi rival has produced few, if any, positive results over the past four decades. One partial exception was the JCPOA, but the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the agreement places even that modest achievement in jeopardy.</p> <p>As noted previously, the European nations have far more important interests at stake in the Middle East—including managing relations with Tehran—than does the United States. It’s time to reduce U.S. involvement in the region and adopt a&nbsp;new focus on more pressing geostrategic challenges elsewhere in the world. The EU powers already have shown discontent with Washington’s Iran policy and a&nbsp;desire to take the lead in adopting a&nbsp;softer, more measured approach. It would be wise for the United States to let its allies do so.</p> </div> Ted Galen Carpenter, a&nbsp;senior fellow in security studies at the Cato Institute and a&nbsp;contributing editor at The American Conservative, is the author of 12 books and more than 850 articles on international affairs. Sat, 27 Jun 2020 09:23:22 -0400 Ted Galen Carpenter Sculpting a Way Forward on Statues <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Cathy Young</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>It’s a&nbsp;dangerous time to be a&nbsp;statue in America. The renewed push to take down Confederate monuments amid national soul‐​searching on race has turned into a&nbsp;more general war on problematic monuments. Several New York City Council members want Thomas Jefferson’s statue removed from the council’s chambers because of his slave ownership. In other cities, protesters have toppled and defaced statues of Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and Ulysses S. Grant, the man who defeated the Confederacy.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Is this surge in iconoclasm a&nbsp;healthy reevaluation of heroes and images we look up to, or a&nbsp;barbaric assault on our historic and cultural legacy?</p> <p>The answer varies from case to case. There is nothing wrong with removing monuments when there is a&nbsp;consensus that they offend our moral sense — though in a&nbsp;democracy this should be done by legal process, not mob action.</p> <p>The easiest decision is monuments honoring Confederate leaders who rebelled against the United States to preserve slavery. Most of these monuments were erected in the 20th century, as symbols of legalized white supremacy in the South. In a&nbsp;sense, they are not that different from monuments to Communist leaders in Eastern Europe: idols glorifying a&nbsp;failed regime built on human subjugation.</p> <p>One can also justify the planned removal of the Theodore Roosevelt statue from the front steps of New York City’s American Museum of Natural History. The move has been decried as Roosevelt’s “cancellation.”&nbsp;But the actual issue is the design that depicts the late president on horseback towering over an African and a&nbsp;Native American, and the museum is simultaneously renaming a&nbsp;wing after him.</p> <p>But most of the attacks on the monuments are at best misguided and at worst obscene.</p> <p>Is it deplorable that Washington and Jefferson owned other humans — like many&nbsp;people of their class — despite professing to abhor the practice? Yes, of course. Jefferson’s complicated history includes active anti‐​slavery advocacy in the first half of his career, later compromise and silence, and presiding over a&nbsp;large household that ran on slave labor.</p> <p>Yet, while slavery is a&nbsp;stain on this country’s birth, the principles of liberty and equality championed by the founders were instrumental in advancing human freedom and well‐​being — including, eventually, abolition of slavery. To honor them is to recognize that achievement, not to deny these men’s public and private flaws. To revoke those honors would be a&nbsp;symbolic statement that the American republic itself is “canceled,” like the Confederacy or the Soviet Union.</p> <p>Going after Grant, a&nbsp;man who consistently (if not always effectively) championed the civil rights of African‐​Americans, is absurd. True, at one point Grant reluctantly owned — but soon freed — a&nbsp;slave given to him by his wife’s family. But how many public figures from the past completely escape the moral pitfalls of their time? Particularly unconscionable was the attack in Madison, Wisconsin, on the nearly century‐​old sculpture of Col. Hans Christian Heg, an abolitionist who died fighting in the Civil War. The statue was toppled, decapitated and thrown into a&nbsp;lake by rioters. This is not activism; it’s nihilistic destruction.</p> <p>The mob attacks on American’s monuments must stop — or be stopped. They are wrong. They are also giving President Donald Trump culture‐​war ammunition.</p> <p>But this is also an opportunity&nbsp;for Joe Biden. He needs to unequivocally condemn the vandalism and lawlessness while recognizing legitimate concerns about some monuments. A&nbsp;strong statement on the issue would show leadership — and show that the Democratic Party still belongs to moderates and liberals, not extremists.</p> </div> Cathy Young is a&nbsp;contributing editor to Reason magazine. Fri, 26 Jun 2020 12:33:03 -0400 Cathy Young Trump’s China Trade Deal Was Designed to Fail <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Scott Lincicome</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The last few weeks have not been good for Donald Trump’s “Phase One” China trade deal.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>First, John Bolton told the world—and the president then partially confirmed—what keen trade observers had long suspected: Trump prioritized a&nbsp;superficial‐​but‐​politically‐​useful agreement over systemic Chinese economic reforms and serious human rights concerns. Then, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">lashed out</a>&nbsp;at data showing Chinese purchases of U.S. exports to be far below the deal’s negotiated targets&nbsp;<em>and</em>&nbsp;historical averages, while still acknowledging that China is well behind schedule (much to Trump’s very public chagrin). Finally, senior White House adviser Peter Navarro told Fox News that, given those same data and rising U.S.-China tensions (something the Phase One deal was supposed to temper!), the agreement and any hopes for “Phase Two” were “over”—a gaffe he immediately walked back following a&nbsp;presidential tweet to the contrary. These and other developments have elicited some surprise from the Washington commentariat and lead many to conclude that Trump’s much‐​heralded agreement, while perhaps&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">not‐​dead‐​yet</a>, sure seems to be headed that way.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>The entire deal rested on China’s willingness to fulfill its commitments, and that’s a&nbsp;problem. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Any such surprise, however, is wholly unwarranted. While it is still possible that China somehow meets its commitments and stops acting out, the Phase One deal’s eventual collapse would be anything but surprising. In fact, the agreement was designed to fail, though perhaps not intentionally.</p> <p>Before we get to that, however, some essential background: on January 15, 2020, President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed “Phase One” of an economic and trade agreement between the United States and China. The deal contains two main parts:</p> <ul> <li>In terms of substantive commitments, the Phase One agreement was very one‐​sided: China committed to purchase fixed amounts of U.S. goods and services and to abide by various rules on agriculture, currency, financial services, and intellectual property rights protection, while the United States committed to&nbsp;<em>almost nothing</em>—not even the limited reduction in the U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports that supposedly achieved the agreement. Instead, that small tariff cut occurred separately, while the vast majority of U.S. tariffs—covering hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese imports (essentially everything we import from China except the most politically sensitive stuff like iPhones)—remained in place, as did China’s retaliatory tariffs.</li> <br> <li>The Phase One deal also contains a&nbsp;novel enforcement mechanism: Each party may determine unilaterally 1) whether the other has violated the agreement’s terms and 2) what “proportionate” measures it will take in response, including suspending certain commitments or additional tariffs on the other country’s products. Because U.S. commitments in the deal are so minor, any U.S. retaliation under the dispute resolution provisions would almost certainly entail new tariffs. If China found that action to be illegitimate, the only response expressly authorized would be withdrawal from the Agreement itself. There is no other alternative.</li> </ul> <p>Trade experts’ immediate response to the Phase One deal’s substantive commitments was surprise and mostly optimistic support. Leaving aside the principled (and warranted) economic concerns regarding the deal’s managed trade purchase commitments, the general view was that China’s substantive commitments were more extensive and detailed than expected. Most, if not all, were reforms China had already promised or wanted to do anyway, and the hardest stuff—on subsidies and state‐​owned enterprises, for example—was left for Phase Two, but, still, not bad (and certainly better than the initial rumors about the deal just a&nbsp;few weeks earlier).</p> <p>One critical issue, however, was mostly overlooked at the time: Given the way the agreement was structured, the entire deal rested on China’s willingness to fulfill its commitments—and that’s always been the big problem with China. For example, there is plenty in the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements to police Chinese financial services restrictions or intellectual property rights abuses, but China would just disregard them when convenient. Indeed, it’s this history that Lighthizer has cited to justify his unilateral approach.</p> <p>The problem, however, is that the Phase One Deal does little to actually encourage Chinese compliance and might actually put the United States in a&nbsp;weaker position going forward than those agreements that China had already (supposedly) shirked.</p> <p>Because traditional trade deals like the WTO Agreement or NAFTA have no power to force participating sovereign nations to comply with their terms, they work because parties to the agreement have three important incentives to comply voluntarily. First, because these agreements are always balanced with benefits (e.g., new market access) and “concessions” (e.g., lower tariffs) for each party, a&nbsp;violator might gain politically or economically from reneging on a&nbsp;concession&nbsp;<em>but</em>&nbsp;it stands to lose an agreement benefit if/​when that violation occurs—a benefit to which noisy or politically powerful constituents have become accustomed.</p> <p>Second, and relatedly, trade agreement parties comply because they want the other parties to do the same. Trade agreement negotiations usually involve a&nbsp;lot of domestic political discomfort, eased by the promise of future benefits for various core constituencies (e.g., soybean farmers). While occasional noncompliance might be forgivable (or disciplined via the aforementioned suspension of concessions), repeated noncompliance encourages similar bad behavior from other parties to the agreement and can eventually collapse the entire deal—thus ruining those hard‐​fought gains (and incurring the inevitable domestic blowback). Third, parties comply with their trade agreements for reputational reasons—basically to be viewed by other countries as upstanding members of the global community instead of global scofflaws. This is not just about touchy‐​feely poll numbers: a&nbsp;good international reputation can provide a&nbsp;nation with important economic (e.g., new trade deals or tourism) or foreign policy benefits, and a&nbsp;bad one can do just the opposite. These reputational effects are compounded by trade agreements’ typical use of independent arbiters to adjudicate disputes among the parties—a country’s noncompliance looks even worse when an unbiased expert confirms it misbehaved.</p> <p>We see these three incentives play out in trade agreements all the time. For example, when the United States banned Mexican trucks from U.S. roads in violation of NAFTA, Mexico suspended certain NAFTA market access benefits for U.S. exporters, and this pain eventually caused the United States to relent (at least for a&nbsp;while). The risk of such retaliation often can deter violations from ever happening. It and the other (institutional and reputational) incentives, moreover, are frequently cited as reasons why the WTO system has proven so effective over the years, and why countries, even China, have a&nbsp;good record of voluntary compliance after losing a&nbsp;WTO dispute. Of course, these agreements aren’t perfect, but—in terms of compliance and dispute resolution, at least—they’ve held up pretty well over the years.</p> <p>The U.S.-China Phase One deal, however, lacks all three of these incentives, at least in any significant capacity. First, because the agreement is so one‐​sided, China—the party making all of the concessions—has very little incentive to comply in order to maintain its agreement benefits (there are none) or encourage U.S. compliance (there’s nothing for the U.S. to comply with). Sure, the American market is valuable, and avoiding the deal’s collapse or potentially more tariff pain is an incentive, but most of the U.S. tariffs are still in place, and the ones that aren’t cover goods that the U.S. was, for economic, political and now public health reasons, desperately trying to avoid hitting in the first place.</p> <p>Meanwhile, there are little to no reputational benefits for China to maintain the deal. U.S.-China tensions are approaching all‐​time highs, so noncompliance and retaliation wouldn’t likely move the needle much at this point—especially since the other team is the one calling foul. There’s also little chance that other trading partners like the EU, Australia or Japan would care if the deal fell apart. In fact, they’d probably welcome it due to the deal’s radical rejection of international legal norms and the multilateral trading system (which most countries still vocally support), as well as its beggar‐​thy‐​neighbor terms that actually harm U.S. competitors in the Chinese market. (In fact, then‐​EU trade honcho Celia Malmstrom criticized the agreement when it was signed, and a&nbsp;new&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">economic analysis</a>&nbsp;shows that the deal “would divert [Chinese] agricultural imports away from other countries” such as Australia, Canada, and Brazil.)</p> <p>Thus, whether the Phase One Deal was worth all the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">very</a>&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">real</a>&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">damage</a>&nbsp;that Trump’s tariffs (and related uncertainty) caused the U.S. economy will come down to compliance and enforcement of China’s commitments, but the deal’s structure and terms provide China with almost no incentive to comply. The United States has only one bad option to force that compliance—more tariffs on politically sensitive products (in an election year!),&nbsp;<em>and</em>&nbsp;the Chinese purchase commitments actually make U.S. exporters—especially those Great Patriot Farmers whom Trump needs for re-election—more dependent on the Chinese market (and, therefore, the Chinese government). So, the only party who might actually&nbsp;<em>need</em>&nbsp;this deal right now—the one with stuff to lose, especially in a&nbsp;recession—is&nbsp;<em>Trump</em>, not China.</p> <p>None of this is to say that the deal&nbsp;<em>will</em>&nbsp;collapse, but trade agreements are designed the way they’re designed for a&nbsp;reason—to encourage voluntary compliance by sovereign nations with their own, often‐​countervailing domestic political interests. We shouldn’t be shocked when a&nbsp;deal specifically rejecting that design achieves the opposite result—or if Trump and his advisers, despite Chinese noncompliance, keep straining to rescue it.</p> </div> Scott Lincicome is a&nbsp;Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Cato Institute. Fri, 26 Jun 2020 09:49:24 -0400 Scott Lincicome Trump Shouldn’t Ban Migrants Who Create Jobs for Americans <p><a href="" hreflang="und">David J. Bier</a> and <a href="" hreflang="und">Alex Nowrasteh</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>President Trump&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">is planning to&nbsp;</a>stop issuing work visas to temporary migrant workers on most visa categories for at least the rest of the year and probably until the end of his administration. The president says he wants to keep migrants from taking jobs from Americans, but new workers don’t just take jobs — they create them.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Companies hire workers to produce what consumers want. The more consumers want, the more production and hiring is needed. But where does this consumer demand come from? It comes from the wages that consumers received as workers, wages based on the worker’s productivity. This means that every time a&nbsp;company employs a&nbsp;worker to increase production, it indirectly creates demand for&nbsp;<em>other</em>&nbsp;workers at&nbsp;<em>other</em>&nbsp;companies.</p> <p>This is an economic fact. As long as consumers value what workers produce, that production will lead to demand for other workers and more production elsewhere. This explains how the labor force in the United States could double since 1970 but not lead to lead to 50 percent unemployment. New workers create jobs for other workers.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>A&nbsp;sharp recovery requires that employers be able to follow through on their hires and get back to normal as soon as possible. By targeting their foreign employees, Trump is undermining, not aiding, the recovery. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>But unemployment is high right now, and it’s high precisely because many people can’t work or consume due to the pandemic. Fear of the virus and government orders to shelter in place have prevented many million Americans from working. When the pandemic subsides, consumption and work will resume. But does that mean that more workers would hurt the recovery? Just the opposite. The faster employers can fill open jobs, the faster consumer demand will increase, and the faster job growth will increase.</p> <p>New migrant workers specifically are important during an economic recovery because they quickly go to where they are most needed. Meanwhile, very few unemployed Americans are going to sell their houses and abandon their friends and families to go to a&nbsp;different city that needs workers, especially during a&nbsp;temporary downturn like this one.</p> <p>George Borjas, the most prominent economist who studies immigration,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">says</a>&nbsp;that immigrants “grease the wheels of the labor market” because they are so mobile — by definition. It’s not that Americans would never adjust, many of us have moved across the continent for opportunity. It’s that by helping employers fill jobs quickly, immigrants speed up the virtuous cycle of increasing production and consumer demand that creates jobs. Borjas estimates that immigrant “greasing” of the labor market, along with their other impacts on the economy, increases wages by about $51 billion for native‐​born American.</p> <p>Another related benefit for U.S. workers is that new workers make it easier to hire and employers respond by hiring more. Simply put, lowering the cost of hiring leads to more of it and in a&nbsp;comprehensive review of papers on the topic, the National Academy of Sciences&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">concluded</a>&nbsp;that “immigration can lower native unemployment by reducing search costs for employers.”</p> <p>And all this ignores the types of jobs that foreign workers are coming to perform, many of which have saved American jobs during the pandemic. H-1B workers overwhelmingly work in the information technology sector, and economist Adam Ozimek&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">has found</a>&nbsp;that remote work “has reduced the risk of job loss early in the crisis by 32 percent to 53 percent.” He and several other researchers have found that states with higher shares of IT&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">saved</a>&nbsp;more jobs.</p> <p>This explains why — as the National Foundation for American Policy has found — the unemployment rate in computer jobs&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">has actually</a>&nbsp;fallen during the pandemic. Yet this ban will affect them most of all, as computer jobs dominate categories like the H-1B and L-1 high skilled worker programs — both of which are on the President’s chopping block. It’s strange to ban workers that the economy is saying we need&nbsp;<em>the most</em>.</p> <p>Similar stories could be told at the lower end of the pay scale where immigrants working in the delivery and service sectors are facilitating e‐​commerce to allow consumers to order online and sanitizing services that make people feel more comfortable about going to work and to the store. Without these activities&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">disproportionately performed by immigrants</a>, consumer demand would have tanked even further and more jobs would have been lost.</p> <p>The good news is that the economy — as the president himself&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">continues to emphasize</a>&nbsp;— is already rebounding and unemployment&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">is falling</a>. But a&nbsp;sharp recovery requires that employers be able to follow through on their hires and get back to normal as soon as possible. By targeting their foreign employees, Trump is undermining, not aiding, the recovery.</p> </div> David J. Bier is an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. Alex Nowrasteh is the director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. Fri, 26 Jun 2020 08:35:06 -0400 David J. Bier, Alex Nowrasteh We Should Celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Korean War by Leaving <p><a href="" hreflang="und">Doug Bandow</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Barely five years after World War II ended, the Korean War began. On June 25, 1950, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea launched a&nbsp;full‐​scale invasion of the South, drawing in both the U.S. and China. The conflict ended essentially where it started, with an armistice. American troops still remain on station against the now nuclear North.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Until recently, U.S. involvement in a&nbsp;second Korean War would have meant horrendous conventional combat, but the damage would have been limited to forces on the Korean peninsula and nearby. Today, however, America’s homeland could be targeted by a&nbsp;nuclear attack. Nothing at stake is worth that risk. With the Republic of Korea capable of defending itself, Washington should formally end the conflict, drop its security guarantee, and bring home its forces.</p> <p>As Japan surrendered in World War II, the allies viewed Korea’s status almost as an afterthought. Moscow and Washington split the Korean peninsula into occupation zones divided by the 38th Parallel. Two separate nations quickly evolved, threatening each other with war. But only the Soviet Union armed its protégé with heavy weapons. After securing support from Moscow and Beijing, the DPRK’s Kim Il‐​sung launched an invasion of the South.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>With the Republic of Korea capable of defending itself, Washington should formally end the conflict, drop its security guarantee, and bring home its forces. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The Truman administration won United Nations support, since the Soviets were then boycotting the Security Council—to protest the continued membership of Chiang Kai-shek’s government—and rushed U.S. troops to the ROK’s rescue. However, as allied forces neared the Yalu River and North Korea’s complete defeat loomed, the People’s Republic of China intervened, creating what U.S. commander Douglas MacArthur called “an entirely new war.” The battle lines soon settled near the original border and a&nbsp;couple years of static combat ensued. An armistice was signed in July 1953.</p> <p>However, American forces remained to protect a&nbsp;devastated country ruled by the aging, irascible, unpopular, and authoritarian Syngman Rhee. He was ousted by a&nbsp;popular uprising that eventually led to a&nbsp;military takeover and Park Chung-hee’s ascension to the presidency. In the 1960s, Park oversaw the South’s economic takeoff, during which the ROK raced past the DPRK, removing an important justification for America’s continued presence on the peninsula.</p> <p>After Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, China moderated its hostility toward Washington. Democracy came to South Korea in 1987. The Cold War ended as the 1980s closed; the Soviet Union formally dissolved in 1991, after which Russia, and then China, recognized Seoul. The case for a&nbsp;continuing American military presence on the peninsula dissipated, but Washington kept its forces in the ROK to advance its status as the world’s “unipower.”</p> <p>Today America’s presence looks ever more anachronistic. South Korea enjoys more than 50 times the GDP and has twice the population of North Korea. The South has one of the world’s largest economies and is known for its technological prowess. It is internationally engaged and respected. So why can’t it defend itself from the impoverished, backward, and isolated North?</p> <p>Of course, many South Koreans want to keep their defense subsidy. Being protected by the world’s sole superpower has obvious advantages. However, there are costs as well for the South: Washington does not treat its allies as equals, only as minor partners. The U.S. often finds it difficult to take no for an answer. Still, at only a&nbsp;modest sacrifice of its sovereignty, Seoul spent less on the military and devoted more to economic development, which proved highly profitable over the years.</p> <p>America’s interest in turning the ROK into a&nbsp;defense dependent is less clear. Members of Washington’s foreign policy elite generally believe the U.S. should run the international system. Infantilizing allies enhances Washington’s dominance even while increasing the costs and risks faced by Americans, especially those serving in the military. Those who extoll the U.S.-South Korea alliance celebrate a&nbsp;system in which Washington, not Seoul, takes the lead in dealing with North Korea, decides on sending “the armada,” as President Trump called it, off the North’s coast, chooses to ban commerce with Pyongyang, and maintains operational control of the South Korean military in wartime.</p> <p>And Washington, not Seoul, decides when South Korea will go to war to support other American objectives. At least, Washington imagines that it gets to make that decision. Only here is the alliance perhaps ready to break down. Americans routinely speak of the relationship having dual uses. That is, it defends against the North and other regional threats, which in practice means containing China.</p> <p>However, South Korean officials seem unlikely to allow the U.S. to drag their nation into a&nbsp;war with China, turning it into a&nbsp;military target of a&nbsp;country with a&nbsp;very long memory, to back American objectives of little if any importance to the ROK. Which means anything other than defense of the South from a&nbsp;North Korean or Chinese attack.</p> <p>Seoul has long been wary of U.S. aggressiveness. President Kim Young‐​sam claimed to have blocked Clinton administration plans to attack the North’s nuclear facilities. Roh Moo‐​hyun publicly insisted that his government’s approval was necessary for Washington to employ facilities in the South. Even a&nbsp;future conservative South Korean administration is unlikely to allow the U.S. to use ROK bases in a&nbsp;conflict with China over Taiwan or other East Asia‐​Pacific contingencies.</p> <p>If not, then Washington is defending South Korea for nothing.</p> <p>Some Americans imagine the military cost to be negligible, since Seoul contributes toward American basing costs. That issue, of course, is currently tied up in a&nbsp;bitter dispute over the so‐​called Special Measures Agreement. However, the main expense of the Korean commitment is not deploying units in the ROK but raising additional units for use to defend the South if necessary. Every additional security guarantee requires a&nbsp;larger military. Adding permanent force structure—men and materiel—is not cheap. If Washington didn’t promise to protect much of the known world in both Asia and Europe, it could rely on a&nbsp;much smaller military to protect America.</p> <p>The U.S. is blessed with oceans east and west and pacific neighbors north and south. America’s missiles, navy, and air force ensure that no other nation can reach the U.S. without facing devastating retaliation. In fact, deterrence is relatively cheap. Power projection is far more costly. For this reason the bulk of the Pentagon’s efforts perversely are devoted to protecting other nations not essential to U.S. security, such as South Korea.</p> <p>The ROK mattered during the Cold War: America faced a&nbsp;hegemonic threat, the Soviet Union, for a&nbsp;time allied with the newly created PRC. With a&nbsp;global contest for influence, even smaller conflicts could have outsize consequences.</p> <p>That was then, however. Today the Korean peninsula has no particular security significance for America: a&nbsp;war would be disruptive and destabilizing, but of far greater concern to surrounding states. It would be a&nbsp;humanitarian tragedy, but not that much different than terrible conflicts involving the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Liberia, Syria, and Sudan in recent decades. In none of them did Washington see any reason to intervene militarily. Most important, the ROK is well able to defend itself. Whatever its importance, there is no need for Washington to protect the South.</p> <p>That was the case even before the North began developing nuclear weapons. Today Pyongyang is commonly estimated to possess 20 to 30 nuclear weapons and enough fissile material to make another 20 to 30 bombs. The DPRK almost certainly could hit American units stationed in South Korea and throughout the region, including on Guam and Okinawa. North Korea also has been developing ICBMs capable of targeting cities in the continental U.S. If it is successful, America’s defense commitment to the ROK will become prohibitively expensive. For nothing at stake in Korea is worth risking one or several U.S. cities.</p> <p>And they would be in danger even in an initially conventional conflict. In 1950 American and South Korean units pursued the broken North Korean military toward the Yalu river, the border with China. Defeat seemed imminent, at which point the PRC intervened. Today Beijing almost certainly would not save the Kim dynasty. However, if faced with defeat Pyongyang would have an incentive to threaten nuclear war unless Washington pulled back. Of course, America could respond with ruinous retaliation. But since conventional defeat also would mean the end of the regime, it would have little to lose. A&nbsp;credible threat of nuclear war could save the regime without triggering nuclear war.</p> <p>Which necessitates that the U.S. avoid involvement in any future Korean conflict. The South should develop a&nbsp;conventional deterrent capability and consider creating its own nuclear arsenal. The Park government began researching nuclear weapons in the 1960s, before abandoning the program under pressure from Washington. However, this time the U.S. should leave the decision with Seoul. Proliferation is not a&nbsp;good solution, but it still might be the best option. And it would offer another important benefit: helping to restrain China as well. Surely an independent ROK nuclear deterrent is better than having Americans promising to risk nuclear war on South Korea’s behalf.</p> <p>The Korean War was a&nbsp;tragedy but perhaps an inevitable outgrowth of the Cold War. Today the ROK has won the competition between the two Korean states. Threats remain, but ones which Seoul is able to confront.</p> <p>Washington should mark the anniversary of the Korean War by opening discussions with the South over returning defense responsibility to South Korea. America’s defense commitment is an anachronism. Equally important, the U.S. faces extraordinary challenges at home: it is time for Washington policymakers to focus attention and resources on meeting Americans’ needs.</p> </div> Doug Bandow is a&nbsp;senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A&nbsp;former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of several books, including Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a&nbsp;Changed World and co‐​author of The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea. Thu, 25 Jun 2020 09:13:35 -0400 Doug Bandow Taking a Hard Look at DHS v. Regents of the University of California <p><a href="" hreflang="und">William Yeatman</a></p> <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Last week, the Supreme Court handed down an administrative law blockbuster in&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California</em></a>&nbsp;(<em>DHS v. Regents</em>). Below, I&nbsp;add my thoughts to those already posted by&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Aaron Nielson</a>,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Chris Walker</a>,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Daniel Deacon</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Anya Bernstein</a>.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p><strong>Immediate Doctrinal Impact: The Rise of Reliance Interests&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>In Admin Law 101, every student learns the (nonexclusive)&nbsp;<a href=";q=state+farm&amp;hl=en&amp;as_sdt=20006" target="_blank"><em>State Farm</em></a>&nbsp;factors for discerning “arbitrary and capricious” agency action:</p> <ul> <li>Did the agency rely on factors which Congress has not intended it to consider?&nbsp;</li> <li>Did the agency entirely fail to consider an important aspect of the problem?</li> <li>Does the agency’s explanation for its decision run counter to its evidence?&nbsp;</li> <li>Is the agency’s decision implausible?</li> </ul> <p>But after<em>&nbsp;DHS v. Regents</em>, law school curriculums need to be updated. At the top of the&nbsp;<em>State Farm</em>&nbsp;list—in bold face font—textbooks should add a&nbsp;new criterion: “Did the agency consider reliance interests?”</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Let’s unpack this important doctrinal development, which has been years in the making during the Roberts Court. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Let’s unpack this important doctrinal development, which has been years in the making during the Roberts Court.</p> <p>It started in 2009 with&nbsp;<a href=";q=encino+motors+v.+navarro&amp;hl=en&amp;as_sdt=20003" target="_blank"><em>FCC v. Fox Studios</em></a>, when the Court indicated (in dicta) that an agency “must” provide enhanced justifications whenever “its prior policy has engendered serious reliance interests that must be taken into account.”</p> <p>Six years later, in&nbsp;<a href=";q=perez+v+MBA&amp;hl=en&amp;as_sdt=20003" target="_blank"><em>Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association</em></a>, the Court “underscored” its holding in&nbsp;<em>Fox Studios</em>&nbsp;that “the APA requires an agency to provide [a] more substantial justification” when reliance interests are involved. As with&nbsp;<em>Fox Studios</em>, the&nbsp;<em>Perez</em>&nbsp;Court addressed these matters only in dicta.</p> <p>A year after&nbsp;<em>Perez</em>, in&nbsp;<a href=";q=encino+motors+v.+navarro&amp;hl=en&amp;as_sdt=20003" target="_blank"><em>Encino Motors v. Navarro</em></a>, the Court employed this reasoning in a&nbsp;holding—but *not* to review under APA § 706. Instead, the&nbsp;<em>Encino</em>&nbsp;court grafted consideration of reliance interests onto reasonableness review at<em>Chevron</em>&nbsp;step two.&nbsp;</p> <p>Last week, in&nbsp;<em>DHS v. Regents</em>, the Court finally applied its new “reliance interests” criterion in the context of hard look review. In so doing, the Court took the opportunity to flesh out how the inquiry should proceed in practice. According to the&nbsp;<em>Regents</em>&nbsp;Court, an agency “[is]required to assess whether there were reliance interests, determine whether they were significant, and weigh any such interests against competing policy concerns.”</p> <p>The wide‐​ranging scope of the Court’s analysis is eye‐​popping (at least to this blogger). The&nbsp;<em>Regents Court</em>&nbsp;called for the agency to consider how the “consequences” of agency action would “radiate outward” from the regulated parties (immigrant youth) and thereby affect the interests of non‐​regulated parties (schools and employers). That’s broad!</p> <p>In sum, the most immediate doctrinal effect of&nbsp;<em>DHS v. Regents</em>&nbsp;is the elevation of “reliance interests” within the “hard look” framework of judicial review for agency action.</p> <p><strong>Speculative Doctrinal Fallout:&nbsp;<em>Overton Park</em>&nbsp;Redux?&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Almost fifty years ago, in&nbsp;<a href=";q=overton+park&amp;hl=en&amp;as_sdt=20003" target="_blank"><em>Citizens to Preserve</em>&nbsp;<em>Overton Park v. Volpe</em></a>, the Supreme Court established what is now known as “hard look” review</p> <p>In that famous case, the Court interpreted APA § 706(A)(2) to require “probing, in‐​depth” judicial review of an agency’s decision making. And to facilitate such review, the&nbsp;<em>Overton Park</em>&nbsp;Court required the agency to produce an administrative record—even though neither the agency’s enabling act nor the APA demanded as much.</p> <p><em>Overton Park</em>&nbsp;sounded a&nbsp;clarion call for judicial supervision of administrative policymaking. Indeed, the message resonated too well. During the 1970s, lower courts—particularly CADC—routinely required agencies to undertake extra‐​statutory procedures to build the administrative record. The Supreme Court, of course, put a&nbsp;stop to these procedural fiats in&nbsp;<a href=";q=vermont+yankee&amp;hl=en&amp;as_sdt=20006" target="_blank"><em>Vermont Yankee</em></a>&nbsp;(1978).</p> <p>Although “hard look” review survived the Court’s course‐​correction in&nbsp;<em>Vermont Yankee</em>, the doctrine gradually became less hard over the ensuing decades. By 2016, Adrian Vermeule,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">reported</a>&nbsp;that agencies won 92 percent of the time under the standard. Setting aside *why* this occurred, the important point is that “hard look” review evolved into a&nbsp;highly deferential standard. Let’s call it “not‐​so‐​hard look” review.&nbsp;</p> <p>All this background brings me to my point: Are we seeing history repeat itself?</p> <p>I suspect that the Court’s recent decisions—<em>DHS v. Regents</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>Department of Commerce v. New York</em></a>—emit an&nbsp;<em>Overton Park</em>-like signal to lower courts. In&nbsp;<em>Commerce v. New York</em>, the Court performed a&nbsp;novel analysis of agency “pretext” under APA § 706(2)(A). I&nbsp;discuss&nbsp;<em>DHS v. Regents&nbsp;</em>above. Taken together, these two cases seemingly set forth “harder look” review (to borrow&nbsp;<a href="//16B544C2-55CE-4B78-92AB-CF7AFA6F1E4A/To%20borrow%20Chris%E2%80%99s%20turn%20of%20phrase," target="_blank">Chris’s turn of phrase</a>).</p> <p>Only time will tell how these decisions play out in the lower courts. But I&nbsp;wouldn’t be surprised to see a&nbsp;significant decrease in the government’s win rate under “hard look” review, as lower courts probe for “pretext” and consideration of “reliance interests.” If the lower courts take the message too much to heart, we might even see SCOTUS eventually hand down a&nbsp;<em>Vermont Yankee</em>&nbsp;version 2.0.</p> <p><strong>Is Roberts Playing 3D Chess on Admin Law?</strong></p> <p>Chief Justice Roberts wrote the Court’s opinions in&nbsp;<em>DHS v. Regents</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>Department of Commerce v. New York</em>. If my speculation about hard look review is correct, then the Chief deserves all the credit or blame (depending on your values).</p> <p>This got me thinking: Has he fooled everyone about his intentions?</p> <p>Conventional wisdom holds that CJR cares a&nbsp;great deal about the Court’s legitimacy—so much so that he’s willing to tie himself into jurisprudential knots to maintain the Court’s high approval rating.</p> <p>I wonder if this standard account isn’t lacking. Have you ever noticed that when Roberts sides with “liberal” Justices on big cases, the opinion tends to make “conservative” administrative law?</p> <p><a href=";q=King+v+Burwell&amp;hl=en&amp;as_sdt=20006" target="_blank"><em>King v. Burwell</em></a>, for example, engendered the ‘big question” carveout for the&nbsp;<em>Chevron&nbsp;</em>doctrine.&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>Kisor v. Wilkie</em></a>&nbsp;shredded&nbsp;<em>Auer</em>&nbsp;deference while ostensibly upholding it.</p> <p>Even if it’s true that Chief Justice Roberts abides his sense of the Court’s legitimacy, I&nbsp;think there’s more to the story. Specifically, I&nbsp;think he’s also guided by his concerns about the administrative state’s current role in society (as set forth in his dissent to&nbsp;<a href=";q=arlington+v.+fcc&amp;hl=en&amp;as_sdt=20006" target="_blank"><em>City of Arlington v. FCC</em></a>).</p> </div> William Yeatman is a&nbsp;research fellow at the Cato Institute. Thu, 25 Jun 2020 08:43:39 -0400 William Yeatman