Friday, January 26, 2007

The Hitchens Plan

Christopher Hitchens at City Journal reviews and builds upon the fine work of Mark Steyn in his book America Alone and concludes his column by offering an eight point plan of his own for dealing with Islamo-fascism. His eight points are these:

1. An end to one-way multiculturalism and to the cultural masochism that goes with it. The Koran does not mandate the wearing of veils or genital mutilation, and until recently only those who apostasized from Islam faced the threat of punishment by death. Now, though, all manner of antisocial practices find themselves validated in the name of religion, and mullahs have begun to issue threats even against non-Muslims for criticism of Islam. This creeping Islamism must cease at once, and those responsible must feel the full weight of the law. Meanwhile, we should insist on reciprocity at all times. We should not allow a single Saudi dollar to pay for propaganda within the U.S., for example, until Saudi Arabia also permits Jewish and Christian and secular practices. No Wahhabi-printed Korans anywhere in our prison system. No Salafist imams in our armed forces.

2. A strong, open alliance with India on all fronts, from the military to the political and economic, backed by an extensive cultural exchange program, to demonstrate solidarity with the other great multiethnic democracy under attack from Muslim fascism. A hugely enlarged quota for qualified Indian immigrants and a reduction in quotas from Pakistan and other nations where fundamentalism dominates.

3. A similarly forward approach to Nigeria, S�o Tom� and Pr�ncipe, and the other countries of Western Africa that are under attack by jihadists and are also the location of vast potential oil reserves, whose proper development could help emancipate the local populations from poverty and ourselves from dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

4. A declaration at the UN of our solidarity with the right of the Kurdish people of Iraq and elsewhere to self-determination as well as a further declaration by Congress that in no circumstance will Muslim forces who have fought on our side, from the Kurds to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, find themselves friendless, unarmed, or abandoned. Partition in Iraq would be defeat under another name (and as with past partitions, would lead to yet further partitions and micro-wars over these very subdivisions). But if it has to come, we cannot even consider abandoning the one part of the country that did seize the opportunity of modernization, development, and democracy.

5. Energetic support for all the opposition forces in Iran and in the Iranian diaspora. A public offer from the United States, disseminated widely in the Persian language, of help for a reformed Iran on all matters, including peaceful nuclear energy, and of assistance in protecting Iran from the catastrophic earthquake that seismologists predict in its immediate future. Millions of lives might be lost in a few moments, and we would also have to worry about the fate of secret underground nuclear facilities. When a quake leveled the Iranian city of Bam three years ago, the performance of American rescue teams was so impressive that their popularity embarrassed the regime. Iran's neighbors would need to pay attention, too: a crisis in Iran's nuclear underground facilities-an Iranian Chernobyl-would not be an internal affair. These concerns might help shift the currently ossified terms of the argument and put us again on the side of an internal reform movement within Iran and its large and talented diaspora.

6. Unconditional solidarity, backed with force and the relevant UN resolutions, with an independent and multi-confessional Lebanon.

7. A commitment to buy Afghanistan's opium crop and to keep the profits out of the hands of the warlords and Talibanists, until such time as the country's agriculture- especially its once-famous vines-has been replanted and restored. We can use the product in the interim for the manufacture of much-needed analgesics for our own market and apply the profits to the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

8. We should, of course, be scrupulous on principle about stirring up interethnic tensions. But we should remind those states that are less scrupulous-Iran, Pakistan, and Syria swiftly come to mind-that we know that they, too, have restless minorities and that they should not make trouble in Afghanistan, Lebanon, or Iraq without bearing this in mind. Some years ago, the Pakistani government announced that it would break the international embargo on the unrecognized and illegal Turkish separatist state in Cyprus and would appoint an ambassador to it, out of "Islamic solidarity." Cyprus is a small democracy with no armed forces to speak of, but its then-foreign minister told me the following story. He sought a meeting with the Pakistani authorities and told them privately that if they recognized the breakaway Turkish colony, his government would immediately supply funds and arms to one of the secessionist movements-such as the Baluchis-within Pakistan itself. Pakistan never appointed an ambassador to Turkish Cyprus.

Good ideas all. Let's hope that people in the White House and State Department have also thought of them or are at least reading Hitchens and Steyn.


Harris vs. Sullivan

Anti-theist Sam Harris, whose Ten Myths About Atheism we have been weighing in the balance here at Viewpoint, and Andrew Sullivan, have been having a debate about religion at BeliefNet. I wish Harris were debating someone a little less hostile to traditional forms of Christianity than Sullivan, but their exchange is interesting nonetheless.


The Cost of an Education

Parents and their student children know that college isn't getting any cheaper, but at many private schools the tuition alone is more than many parents' annual income. Here are some highlights from an article at which discusses the reasons for the high costs:

Experts cite strong competition for faculty, student demand for state-of-the-art classrooms and facilities, and a decline in federal support for research facilities as the big cost drivers. Basically, classrooms are nicer, registration no longer means standing in line and professors make more money. But there's no real evidence that students are learning more, even as their parents fork over more money.

George Washington University leads the nation with tuition costs of $37,820. This is 82% of the entire median annual family income of $46,326. And that's just tuition.

Nationwide, the median tuition at a four-year school was $7,490 for the 2006-07 academic year, a 2.3% increase over a year ago, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. But that includes many state-run universities, where in-state residents are charged a pittance. The median tuition at private schools was more than twice that amount, weighing in at $15,900, up 3.4% over a year ago. And that figure doesn't come close to the nation's most expensive colleges--121 of them charged more than $30,000 this past year. Add room and board and other assorted fees, and the bill climbs beyond $40,000.

The most expensive public school for in-state residents is Miami University in Ohio, which charged local residents $22,997 apiece this past year. The heftiest bill for out-of-staters comes from the University of Michigan, which hits up non-Wolverines for $29,131 to come to Ann Arbor.

The cheapest four-year school in America? That distinction goes to Northern New Mexico College, which charges only $1,030 a year to in-state residents (outsiders pay $2,206). Still, even that rate is up from $771 at the beginning of the decade, a 34% increase.

See here for a listing of the ten most expensive schools.