Tuesday, September 25, 2018

U.S. Foreign Policy Faces Grave Danger, Part 2

The intellectual foundations of U.S. foreign policy lie in the teaching and research of leading American universities. A root cause of recent U.S. foreign policy failures is the marked contrast between political practices and institutions in relatively homogeneous nations with common ethnic/racial identities, values and interests that seek exclusive governance, as against the United States, where the practice of  diversity and inclusion that originated in American universities has spread to encompass the media, business, non-profit organizations, government, the armed forces, and every other social institution.

This contrast is not intended to proclaim the superiority of one set of political arrangements over the other.  Rather, it reflects major demographic changes that have transformed the racial/ethnic composition of the U.S. population during the past half-century, which differs from worldwide trends towards smaller and more homogeneous nations and 150 active ethnically-based secessionist movements.

The United States has changed from an overwhelmingly Non-Hispanic White majority of 89.5% of the population in 1950, to 88.6% in 1960, 87.7% in 1970, 83.1% in 1980, 80.3% in 1990, 75.1% in 2000, 72.4% in 2010, with an estimated 59.7% in 2020, 55.5% in 2030, 51.0% in 2040, becoming a minority of 46.6% in 2050, and 42.6% in 2060.   Barring major changes in fertility and immigration, Non-Hispanic Whites will be increasingly outnumbered by Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Indians, Eskimos and Aleuts, and mixed-race persons.

Demography compels all segments of American life to adjust to this new reality.  Universities are the spearhead of diversity and inclusion.  They assert that diversity and inclusion among their students, staff, faculty, and its centrality in educational content are needed to prepare students to interact with increasingly diverse populations in their schools, towns, cities, regions, and the country at large.  Universities claim that diversity and Inclusion foster understanding, knowledge, tolerance, and respect that will better enable graduates, including those engaged in foreign policy, to better deal with foreign peoples and nations.

In many parts of the world, the inverse of e pluribus unum, (traditional motto, from many one, appearing on the Great Seal of the United States) predominates.  The message of diversity and inclusion that American university graduates carry with them clashes with a growing worldwide trend toward homogeneity and exclusion, an emphasis on borders, language and culture.  It’s easy to understand how presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, reinforced by their respective foreign policy teams, made colossal mistakes intervening in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya to first remove their leaders and then try to impose U.S. style democracy, which instead resulted in death and destruction.


No region better illustrates this harsh reality than the Balkans, which gave rise to the word “balkanized.”  Yugoslavia, created in 1918 as a new state, was composed of areas that had never experienced a common government and which for centuries had been under the domination of different foreign powers.  When the Communist Party came to power after World War II, five distinct Slav nationalities were given official recognition:  Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Macedonians, and Montenegrins.  The constituent units of Yugoslavia were Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Bosnia & Herzegovina. These diverse and regionally concentrated ethnic communities are separated by both religious and cultural practices.

Post-World War II elections were dominated by Tito’s Communist party, which was a collection of the various regional Communist parties rather than a centralized unified party.­

Upon Tito’s death in May 1980, which removed the unifying force, ethnic tensions grew in Yugoslavia.  Nationalism rose in all the republics and provinces.  Slovenia and Croatia agitated for looser ties and the Albanian majority in Kosovo sought the status of a separate republic.  Montenegro joined with Serbia in favoring Yugoslav unity.  Croatia took steps to strip Serbs of their rights in the republic.

On June 25, 1991, Slovenia and Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia.  The Yugoslav army was ordered to restore unity, but desisted, pulling out of Slovenia.  In Croatia, however, a bloody war broke out in August 1991 between ethnic Serbs in a portion of the republic they inhabited and the new Croatian army and police force.  Meanwhile, in September 1991, Macedonia declared its independence without resistance from the Yugoslav Army.  UN forces moved into the region to monitor Macedonia’s northern border with Serbia.

In Bosnia, in November 1991, Bosnian Serbs held a referendum that favored staying in a common state with Serbia.  The following January the Bosnian Serb assembly proclaimed a separate republic of the Serb people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The government of Bosnia declared the Serb referendum unconstitutional, but itself approved a referendum for Bosnian independence.  In response, the, the Bosnian Serbs declared their independence as the Republika Srpska.

The war in Bosnia between Serbs, Croats and Muslims followed shortly thereafter.  In March 1994, the Muslims and Croats signed an agreement, which reduced the warring parties to two.  The conflict ended in 1995 with the so-called Dayton Agreement.  Three years of ethnic strife destroyed the economy of Bosnia, caused the death of about 200,000 people, and displaced about half the population.  Bosnia was organized into two geographical units, the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosniak-Croat Federation).  The presidency of the Bosnian Republic rotates among the three members (Bosniak, Serb, and Croat).   A national legislature makes laws for the republic with two-thirds of the delegates for both the upper and lower houses selected from the Bosniak-Croat Federation and one-third from the Republika Srpska.  Separate parliaments, which exercise regional power, are elected in the Bosniak-Croat Federation and the Republika Srpska.

The unity of Serbia and Montenegro gradually weakened.  By order of the Yugoslav Federal Parliament on August 4, 2003, Yugoslavia ceased to exist.  On May 21, 2006, Montenegrins voted in favor of independence, declaring their independence on June 3, 2006.  Serbia followed suit two days later.

On February 17, 2008, the Assembly of Kosovo, in a meeting attended by 109 of the 120 members of the assembly, unanimously declared independence from Serbia.  The 11 representatives of the Serb minority boycotted the proceedings.

As of April 2018, the breakup of Yugoslavia consisted of the following political units:

Slovenia 1991- (Ljubljana)
Macedonia 1991- (Skopje)
Central Serbia 2006- (Belgrade)
Serbia 2006- Vojvodina (Novi Sad)
Kosovo 2008- (Pristina)
Montenegro 2006- (Podgorica)
Croatia 1991- (Zagreb)
Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina 1994- (Sarajevo)
Republic of Srpska 1992- (Banja Luka).

What was a once common Serbo-Croatian language has devolved into separate sociolinguistic standards for Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian languages.


As those educated in diversity and inclusion pursue their domestic and global vision, they will encounter opposite trends in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, where homogeneous and exclusive nationalities, cultures, and languages are the driving forces of political identity.

Friday, September 21, 2018

A Theory of Racial Harmony

Racial bias--explicit, implicit, conscious, or unconscious--in U.S. universities and colleges is not a new subject.  Race relations have been a heated, controversial subject of research and discussion for decades.  Since the 1960s, recommendations for improving race relations have largely been unidirectional, favoring more and larger government programs to assist the advancement of non-Whites in the broader society and to compel non-Hispanic Whites to abide by stronger norms of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.  These political and social policies have accompanied the changing demographic composition of the United States, from an 88.7% Non-Hispanic White Majority in 1970, to 72.4% in 2010, with projections to 55.5% in 2030, and Non-Hispanic Whites becoming a minority in the early 2040s

Universities have been the vanguard in defining and trying to document racial bias in America, and leading the efforts to expand government involvement in higher education and society in general to reduce and eradicate it.  Only a handful of scholars have argued that government programs often exacerbate race relations.  These scholars have been widely criticized or dismissed by the vast majority of those favoring more government laws, regulations and programs.  (Take a look at the notes and bibliographies of the recent spate of books on identity politics and try to find references to Thomas Sowell, Walter E. Williams, William Hutt, and other authors documenting state repression of Blacks and other minorities.)

I encountered this reality as early as 1972.  I was a visiting scholar at Stanford in 1971-72 as a fellow in the inaugural year of the National Fellows Program, now in its 37th year, at the Hoover Institution.  Fresh off completing Race and Politics in Urban Malaya (Hoover Press, 1974), a revision of my doctoral dissertation based on a year’s research in multi-racial Malaysia (Malays, Chinese and Indians), I next drafted a short book entitled A Theory of Racial Harmony, based on that experience and researching 20 other multi-ethnic/racial countries, resulting in publication of Politics in Plural Societies:  A Theory of Democratic Instability.  The first two books are available as free download on my website, alvinrabushka.com.

I submitted the manuscript to Stanford University Press for review and possible publication.  Ordinarily academic presses send manuscripts to experts in the field for review and comments.  In my case, the then Executive Editor took matters into his own hand and returned the manuscript with a letter dated May 18, 1972, without review.

After a paragraph of positive comments on style and clarity of exposition, he turned to the substance of the book.  Here he proffered a litany of charges against my racial harmony hypothesis that governments often exacerbate, rather than ameliorate, race relations and that racial harmony is better in conditions of free markets and limited government: “the carriage breaking down; the exposition begins to muddy up; the persuasiveness of the argument fades markedly; tough propositions are dealt with too quickly,” and several others.

But his foremost charge was that my “thesis begins to look like an argument for keeping them [he presumes we all know who “them” are] down on the farm,” and that my empirical examples were “anomalies and anachronisms.”  “You’re writing economics, but you’re also writing about highly visible problems we all worry about, and I’m afraid we remain confidently unconvinced.”

The manuscript, he stated, needed more real-world analysis, but that would, he guessed, result in my thesis coming unglued.  But this was his assertion, not that of experts in the field.

I subsequently found a publisher willing to proceed with my book, the University of South Carolina Press on behalf of the Institute of International Studies at the University of South Carolina.  Read it free online and judge for yourself.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

U.S. Foreign Policy Faces Grave Danger, Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts explaining why.

Before laying out the argument, let’s backtrack to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.  How many politicians, generals, diplomats, and prominent experts in universities and think tanks, some serving in the Bush and Obama administrations, would claim in late 2018 that these military operations were successful? 

That they justified 4,423 deaths (3,490 killed in action) and 31,958 wounded in action U.S. casualties in Iraq? 

That they justified 2,351 deaths (1,846 KIA) and 20,094 WIA U.S. casualties in Afghanistan? 

That they justified some 200,000 civilian deaths in Iraq and thousands more in Afghanistan and Syria?

That U.S. involvement in Syria and overthrowing Colonel Muammar Gadaffi, who had abandoned his nuclear program in Libya, justified the displacement of several million civilians?

That these wars justified $4.8 trillion spent in direct military operations and subsequent hundreds of billions that will be spent on lifetime medical care for severely disabled and traumatized veterans?

How many would say that the Middle East and North Africa are more peaceful, stable and better off than in 2000?

Proponents and supporters of military operations can explain why things went wrong.  We, the U.S., did not spend enough stabilizing the post-Saddam government of Iraq.  We pulled out of Iraq too soon. We did not invest enough in economic development in Afghanistan and Iraq.  President Obama failed to follow through on his red line warning to Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad?  And so on.  Even the late Senator John McCain said the war in Iraq was a mistake.

Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and their military, diplomatic and political advisers viewed the Middle East and North Africa through the same prism, that the Middle East and North Africa were ripe for democratic change.

On November 6, 2003, not quite eight months after the invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush laid out his vision for democracy in the Middle East at an event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy.  Here are some excerpts from his speech.

“The United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East….”   “The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country.”  In the absence of freedom, the Middle East “will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export.”

Liberty, Bush said, depends on the willingness to sacrifice, pointing to U.S.  sacrifice for liberty made in World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam.  “Freedom is worth fighting for, dying for, and standing for…”

Bush highlighted the postwar establishment of democracy in Germany and Japan and the compatibility of democracy with Islam in Turkey, Indonesia, Senegal, Albania, Niger, and Sierra Leone.  He pointed to sprouts of democracy in Morocco, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Yemen, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the yearnings of Iranians, Palestinians and Egyptians for democracy.  Fifteen years later, many of these sprouts have withered.

Bush praised the leadership of President Karzai to build a modern, peaceful democratic government in Afghanistan and the efforts of the Iraqi Governing Council, in cooperation with the Coalition Provisional Authority, to build democracy in Iraq.  “Iraqi democracy will succeed--and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran—that freedom can be the future of every nation.  The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global revolution.”

Bluntly put, President Bush’s forward strategy of freedom and democracy in the Middle East, exemplified by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, was a new kind of just war of national liberation to free oppressed peoples.  From his new democracies of Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush envisaged that liberty and democracy would spread throughout the Middle East, ending the likelihood that terrorist regimes could export weapons of mass destruction to threaten Americans.

How did President Bush come to this point of view?  Given the emphasis on democracy in the academy that dominates American political culture, he could hardly adopt any other way of thinking.  World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam were American responses to German, Japanese and North Korean aggression.  U.S. involvement in Vietnam was deemed necessary to halt the global expansion of Soviet and Chinese communism.  Bush turned from a history of U.S. wars in defense of liberty and democracy to invasions in the cause of liberty and democracy.

President Obama followed suit, participating with France and the U.K in the overthrow of Colonel Gadaffi in Libya and expanding involvement in Syria with the goal of regime change to replace Bashar al-Assad.

Presidents Bush and Obama, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations, and the State Department all had and have high-level personnel and programs to advance democracy around the globe.  Most of their office holders came from democracy programs in U.S. universities and think tanks.

The commitment to democracy, especially in countries with marked racial/ethnic divisions, rests on a more fundamental change that has gripped the United States.  That change is the focus of the next few posts.