Friday, April 8, 2005

Nowhere to Run to

Al Qaida evidently blundered when it initiated terror operations in Saudi Arabia. It must have thought that the high density of Islamists and other sympathizers in the Saudi population would be moved by their boldness to rise up with them in revolt against the Royal family. That didn't happen. Instead it seems that many Saudi's, although sympathetic with al Qaida's aims of getting the United States out of Dar al Islam, resent al Qaida's means for accomplishing that goal.

Now al Qaida finds itself with fewer and fewer safe havens as this Strategy Page account of recent developments in Saudi Arabia makes clear. The Saudi's drew up a list of twenty six most wanted terrorists a couple of years ago. Only three remain at large.

Equilibrium Of A Global Economy

A global economy is a dream come true for multi-national corporations. It means they can acquire services and manufacturing from countries that offer the absolute lowest labor costs on the planet. The human rights and environmental issues that prevail in said countries never enter the picture.

There is, however, one significant implication of a global economy that everyone needs to be aware of. The standard of living among all participating countries will eventually and inevitably reach a point of equilibrium. That will happen simply because competition will force the income of those in the richer countries (the US in particular) to decline while the income of those in the emerging countries will rise.

Consider that if someone in the US earns $20 per hour to provide a service or manufacture a product and someone in China, India, or Mexico performs the same service or manufactures the same product for $1.00 per hour, the laws of economics indicate that the US worker will have to take a pay cut to deter the exportation of their job. At the same time, an increase in demand will cause the pay rate in the competing countries to increase. Eventually, all pay rates will stabilize a some point in between the two original rates. For instance the pay rate of the US worker may be $10.00 per hour and that of the worker in the competing country will end up at $10.00 per hour as well.

At that time, there would be little economic incentive to export more jobs to foreign countries but the damage will have already been done and there will be few decent jobs left in the US. The worker in the US that refuses to work for such compensation will find themselves unemployed while the worker in the foreign country will be more than happy to find such an opportunity.

Personally, I suspect I'll survive this impending disaster but the next generation that is coming into the job market will surely be totally decimated.

Mugged by la Rèalitè

The Weekly Standard has a riveting account by Olivier Guitta of a recent celebration of cultural diversity in Paris. It is the sort of celebration Europe is likely to see much more of in the years ahead:

FREDERIC ENCEL, PROFESSOR OF international relations at the prestigious Ecole Nationale d'Administration in Paris and a man not known for crying wolf, recently stated that France is becoming a new Lebanon. The implication, far-fetched though it may seem, was that civil upheaval might be no more than a few years off, sparked by growing ethnic and religious polarization. In recent weeks, a series of events has underlined this ominous trend.

On March 8, tens of thousands of high school students marched through central Paris to protest education reforms announced by the government. Repeatedly, peaceful demonstrators were attacked by bands of black and Arab youths--about 1,000 in all, according to police estimates. The eyewitness accounts of victims, teachers, and most interestingly the attackers themselves gathered by the left-wing daily Le Monde confirm the motivation: racism.

Some of the attackers openly expressed their hatred of "little French people." One 18-year-old named Heikel, a dual citizen of France and Tunisia, was proud of his actions. He explained that he had joined in just to "beat people up," especially "little Frenchmen who look like victims." He added with a satisfied smile that he had "a pleasant memory" of repeatedly kicking a student, already defenseless on the ground.

Another attacker explained the violence by saying that "little whites" don't know how to fight and "are afraid because they are cowards." Rachid, an Arab attacker, added that even an Arab can be considered a "little white" if he "has a French mindset." The general sentiment was a desire to take revenge on whites."

Sometimes petty theft appeared to be the initial motivation. One or two bullies would approach a student and ask for money or a cell phone. Even if the victim complied right away, they would start beating him or her. A striking account was provided by Luc Colpart, a history and geography teacher and member of the far-left union SUD. Colpart said the scenes of violence were so disturbing that he could not sleep for days. He saw students being beaten or pulled by the hair. He stressed that assailants who stole cell phones smashed them in front of their victims: "It was a game. Hatred and fun."

Colpart, who is active in anti-racist causes, confirmed that "these were racial assaults," and the attackers used "far-right slurs, violent and racist." One black student he saw come to the defense of a fellow student under attack by three blacks was called "a white sellout" by the assailants. Some scores of victims were taken to hospitals. Those who were interviewed confirmed that they had been caught up in an "anti-white" rampage and that the cops did nothing to protect them.

By coincidence, last week the French government's human rights commission delivered to Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin its 2004 report on racism and anti-Semitism in France. The report underscores a worrisome pattern of retreat into separate ethnic communities. And the evidence of hostility is sobering: The number of violent acts and threats nearly doubled, from 833 in 2003 to a record 1,565 in 2004. Of these, 62 percent were directed against Jews, who make up just 1 percent of France's population.

There's much more about this ugly episode and related matters at the link.

Such incidents as this are the consequence of pretending that we can all get along, despite our differences, if we're just sufficiently tolerant of the things which divide us. We delude ourselves into thinking that we can avoid Balkanization of Western societies if we just don't offend those who are different by chauvinistically celebrating the things that should unite us.

Unfortunately, a nation with too little confidence in the rightness of its values to insist that those who would dwell within its borders adopt those values will ultimately find itself unable to hold its disparate ethnic and religious factions together. It will eventually become an object of contempt in the eyes of those who see themselves as having no stake in that nation's history, traditions, or principles.

There's a profound lesson here for the United States.