Last Build Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2006 05:09:08 -0600Copyright: Copyright 2007
Wed, 05 Jul 2006 05:09:08 -0600
In other words, while the Bush administration's rhetoric on North Korea has been outstanding, its actual policy has not been effective. And time was running out on the administration. It was looking more and more like North Korea would wait out the remainder of the "lame duck" administration and shop for a more amenable negotiating partner, perhaps hoping that it could repeat the Clintonian bargain struck in 1994 (known as the Agreed Framework).
But like Hollywood's dangerous, but incompetent villains, North Korea has offered the United States an unwitting gift. Despite the admonition from all the regional powers, including China and South Korea, not to test-fire its Taepodong 2 missile, it went ahead to do so yesterday and fired off several shorter range missiles for a good measure. Better still, its main intercontinental ballistic missile test went awry, as did its earlier Taepodong 1 test of 1998.
This was the best of all outcomes. The test likely provided a wealth of intelligence data for the U.S. The failure of the test was also a great blow to the prestige of the North Korean regime and its leader, Kim Jong-il in particular. Furthermore, Pyongyang's aggressive provocation threw eggs on the faces of Beijing and Seoul that have propped up the North Korean regime.
The stage is now set for a decisive action from the United States. Clearly, any military strike against North Korea is out of question, and would, in any case, abdicate the now accrued diplomatic advantages. Instead, the U.S. should press for an immediate quarantine of North Korea to prevent the outflow of ballistic missile and nuclear technology and the inflow of energy and food that sustain the regime. And, for a change, Pyongyang will have to give up something to end the quarantine.
Japan, already angered by past North Korean provocations, will join the U.S. immediately. Given a sufficient demonstration of willpower from Washington, Seoul will, in the end, not object to this policy (in any case, if it were to do so, the present South Korean administration will implode finally, leaving the way for a conservative administration next year). A tougher bargain will be required to bring Moscow to the fold, but given its relatively low level of leverage and interest in North Korea, it will not be impossible.
That leaves, as always, Beijing. To say that China is embarrassed by North Korea's latest provocation is an understatement. Thus it is now the time to press Beijing hard, for once. North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear threat would not be where it is today were it not for Beijing, and the U.S. should finally make China take responsibility -- by agreeing to the quarantine. And the United States should make the continued Sino-American economic relationship contingent on China acting like a mature great power by exercising this responsibility.
Ultimately, China's economic relationship with the U.S. is far more important for China's economic growth and political stability than continuing to protect North Korea's arsenal. The choice ought to be, thus, very clear for China's leaders -- provided, of course, that Washington presents Beijing with the choice.
Will the Bush administration, at last, exercise this potent lever to contain North Korea's nuclear and proliferation threat? Or will the pro-China business lobby again trump national security and constrain the administration into rhetorically magnificent, but utterly ineffectual, symbolic gestures?
Wed, 10 May 2006 15:24:16 -0600If the Democratic whispers -- that Republicans are racists who oppose non-white immigration -- are demagoguery, neither does the claim of some Republican apologists that the party is "against illegal immigration, but for legal immigration" accurately represent the whole party. There are at least four identifiable factions within the GOP. They are, in the order of permissiveness to immigration: 1. Limousine (Liberal) Republicans These barely-Republicans want to open the borders. They care little for sovereignty or popular culture, but believe in the triumph of economic efficiency, and thus advocate completely free mobility of both capital and labor. Socially liberal, internationalist in outlook, they are a vestige of the pre-Goldwater party elites. A dying breed, they are marginalized among party activists, but somehow have managed to hang on longer among the elites. For them, amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the country is just a start. 2. Dick Morris Republicans (Pragmatists) Simply put, these party loyalists want to forge a permanent Republican majority at almost any cost. They subscribe to Dick Morris-style "triangulation." They recognize that the party's current Southern white male base may not be sufficient to win national elections in the future. Thus, they see the key to that permanent majority in Hispanics, who account for most of the illegal immigrants today. Led by President Bush and the business-wing of the party, they claim to oppose amnesty, but support it by other names (e.g. "earned citizenship" and "guest worker program"), and are willing to sign on for border security in return for the "compassionate" legalization of illegals. Their rallying cry is "Look at what Pete Wilson did to the GOP in California." 3. "Dirty Harry" (Law and Order) Republicans Republicans who make up this group are primarily motivated by the allegiance to the rule of law as the wellspring of all that is good in America. They see the massive illegal immigration creating a parallel shadow society, undermining the rule of law. Many are not opposed to immigration per se. Some are even willing to expand legal immigration while cracking down hard on illegal immigrants and their complicit American employers. These Republicans are horrified by any amnesty proposal, because it would unfairly reward illicit behavior and discourage abiding the laws of the country. Many legal immigrants-turned-citizens actually subscribe to this view. Their motto is "Remember the 1986 'just this once' amnesty?" 4. "Anglo-Saxon" Culture Warriors This bloc is often called the "hard right" by the media. They see and battle "multiculturalism" everywhere. Two of their most articulate spokesmen on immigration are Mark Krikorian, himself a scion of Armenian immigrants, and Bill Lind of the Fourth Generation Warfare fame. Krikorian, no simple-minded nativist, acknowledges that the United States has had periodic highs of foreign-born population. But he believes that the entrenched multiculturalism of our own society today makes it nearly impossible to assimilate newcomers as in the past. His argument is essentially: "We have met the enemy, and he is us" -- and until we fix ourselves, we can't let in anymore, legally or illegally. Lind, a pioneering figure in the military reform movement, sees the massive Hispanic immigration as a kind of latter-day Völkerwanderung, the Germanic invasions into the Roman Empire. He thinks the migrations will overwhelm and then replace the existing Anglo-Saxon traditions, transforming the country into something else. For these cultural conservatives, the issue isn't about race or skin color, but that of language and culture. Not only do they oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants, they also seek to curtail legal immigration, except perhaps from those societies considered more culturally compatible. These internal fault lines within the GOP stem from core beliefs -- gut instincts -- of the groups that make up the party, and will not be reconciled easily. Combined with other contentious iss[...]
Thu, 20 Apr 2006 00:35:06 -0600
About half of us in the room who got this joke-of-sorts erupted in cheers. The other half, perhaps not getting the sarcasm, perhaps still fearful and paranoid that this might be some sort of a trick, perhaps simply not finding this funny at all, just held their breaths and then sighed. They eventually all smiled and cried, but only after their Certificates of Naturalization were safely and finally in their hands.
As any non-native, legal resident of this country knows, the process of staying in the United States legally, let alone becoming a citizen, is complex, onerous and extremely bureaucratic. As an educated professional who married an American citizen, my path to citizenship was far smoother than that for most legal immigrants.
But even I went through hours of waiting in lines, waiting months and years for documents and stamps and occasional Kafkaesque situations ("Sorry, we lost your original document. You must re-submit a replacement. And, oh, make sure it is an original"). Exasperated with the persistent delays in the process, I had to seek help from a congressman at one point. It is telling, indeed, that so many congressmen tout "help with the immigration office" as a major constituent service.
My think tank colleague Yuri Mamchur, who works legally in the U.S., has spent some $20,000 in visa and application costs so far. His case is not unique. If anything, others expend even more in fees and legal costs, not to mention countless months and years spent in dealing with the bureaucracy.
I always found it odd that the American immigration system imposes such complicated and costly requirements on legal immigrants who dutifully do their best to follow the arcane immigration regulations while those who have absolutely no respect for our rule of law can simply walk across the border, go to a "laborer center" in any major city (built with tax money) and can start working without paying taxes, aided by businesses that routinely ignore immigration laws.
Of course, I am not suggesting that an illegal alien's life in the underground economy is an easy one. But the current system, in a way, punishes those who follow the law while rewarding those who do not. It is clearly counterproductive to encouraging legal immigration and assimilation, and promotes illegal migration that breeds an underground society resistant to assimilation.
As someone who has been through the lengthy, arduous process of becoming an American citizen, my proposal for reforming this broken system is simply that of a "carrot and stick" approach. The carrot is that we ought to make the legal immigration process far less onerous and make the immigration bureaucracy more "customer friendly." We should also significantly expand the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country each year, especially for those with education or technical skills our economy needs.
The stick is that we ought to enforce the immigration laws strictly, deport those who come here illegally and vigorously penalize businesses that knowingly hire illegal migrants. And under no circumstances should illegal migrants be granted amnesty or be allowed to "jump the line" ahead of those who are following the rules. To grant such an amnesty under any guise is not only grossly unfair to those who are already Americans, but also to those who have abided by all our laws and requirements to come to this country legally or are still waiting outside patiently.
Unless the immigration system is reformed thusly, legal immigrants who seek to assimilate into our society will continue to suffer exasperating delays, frustrations and high costs while illegal aliens will continue to pour through our borders, undermining our American sense of fair play and, ultimately, our rule of law.
Fri, 27 Jan 2006 11:44:56 -0600In a speech at Georgetown University on January 18th, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice threw down the gauntlet at the State Department bureaucracy by expounding "transformational diplomacy" to shift the priority and direction of the department in the post-modern, post-Cold War era. Noting that the State Department has almost as many employees in Germany, with a population of 82 million, as those in India, with a population of 1 billion, Secretary Rice announced that as much as a third of Foreign Service positions could be relocated from cushy and coveted European capitals and Washington to China, India and other, presumably less desirable, hot spots of the 21st Century. The speech was not simply an announcement for a superficial makeover plan for a department long considered archaic. After all, what determines an organization's priorities is not so much its purported objectives statement, but its promotion criteria. Secretary Rice, indicating her seriousness, declared that only those with regional expertise, fluency in at least two languages (especially "exotic" ones like Chinese, Urdu and Arabic) and willingness to accept dangerous postings would be promoted into senior ranks. In a classic diplomatic understatement, this transformation is said to be causing "some distress" among the department careerists. Conservatives have long viewed the State Department as a hostile territory where disloyalty to Republican administrations is routine. They are responding favorably to this declaration of war on "old diplomacy" and bureaucratic intransigence, still mired in the traditions of an era when Europe was the mistress of the world and the lingua franca of diplomacy was, well, still French. Indeed the department's European Bureau has long considered itself first among equals, and also second and third. The institutional culture of the State Department is frequently contrasted unfavorably with that of the Defense Department. Whereas the dominant ethos of the latter, being of a military outlook, is said to be "action," especially in danger zones around the world, that of the State is contemptuously said to be "talk," mostly in posh European capitals. One observer who worked with both departments relays a common, but telling stereotype: "Defense takes in ordinary people and achieves the extraordinary; State takes in extraordinary people and achieves the ordinary." While the Department of Defense has been hardly free of bureaucracy and conventional thinking, it has had a fair share of prescient thinkers who have looked beyond the Cold War paradigm. It was, after all, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who advocated prior to the 9/11 attacks -- despite much unpopularity at the time -- military "transformation" and "net-centric" warfare, an organizationally and doctrinally agile military that could respond flexibly to new trouble spots of the post-Cold War world. Considering that the Cold War ended over ten years ago, the proposed transformational diplomacy is not just timely -- it is tardy. Nevertheless, this is a classic case of "better late than never." The State Department ought to move many of its personnel from heavily fortified, but isolated embassy compounds in capitals to smaller cities and foster closer, more immediate interactions with indigenous populations. Enabling this kind of "net-centric" diplomacy will require a structural change in the department's overall personnel policy. However, the Department of State is not solely responsible for its outmoded personnel policy. It has long been recognized that, while some of the best ambassadors and senior officers were political appointees, so were some of the worst ones. There has been a strong resentment in the Foreign Service against appointees based mainly on political patronage, especially campaign contributions. In struggles with the State Department over ambassadorial appointments, both Republican and Democratic administrations in the White House offered the rationale that t[...]