zenpundit.com » 2003 » June

Archive for June, 2003

Wednesday, June 25th, 2003


This makes the money collected by U.S. politicians look like chump change

Wednesday, June 25th, 2003


Swimming like fish in the sea of Malawi

Tuesday, June 24th, 2003


My focus here at Zenpundit is primarily foreign policy but since affirmative action is so strident an issue I have the following observation on yesterday’s ruling. The High Court demonstrated longstanding continuity, starting with Bakke by issuing another ambiguous decision that whittles down the allowable parameters of using race in public policy decisions. My sense is that the Court is trying to say ” not yet ” in regards to definitively ruling on affirmative action’s inherent logical conflict with the text of the 14th Amendment. Constitutionally, affirmative action is pretty much doomed but politically the Court seems to be wary of the possibly explosive electoral effects of an across the board sweep like the Hopwood decision in Texas prior to an election year. Affirmative action will probably continue to muddle along in this fashion for another decade or two until it is undone by the demographic changes of the electorate.

In higher education at selective schools affirmative action has been used to redress the continuing lag between the mean standardized test scores between white and black applicants ( Harvard excepted where the gap is less significant statistically). As a remedy, setting aside moral and constitutional questions, this back-end solution has not been terribly effective in terms of minority graduation rates while having the added negative of being politically and racially polarizing. What affirmative action programs in elite universities have done well however, and this is the real issue seldom discussed, is act as a networking gateway to the American power structure for promising minority students. If you want pure intellectual stimulation you go to the University of Chicago; if you aim to probe the reaches of science you head for Caltech – but if you want to run the world you fight to get into the Ivy league.

When we want to get serious as a society about closing the educational gap for minority students we will put our money, effort and political capital into longitudinal, comprehensive, programs that work from the bottom up k-12, if not earlier. There are no shortcuts.

Tuesday, June 24th, 2003


The Nation online has a lengthy essay by leftist scholar Anatol Lieven ( whose ideological sympathies may be read in his warm endorsement for the discredited ideas of Immanuel Wallerstein, who bet his academic career on the decline of America and lost) on ” empire “. As usual, Lieven gets most things wrong but aside from this article being one of his less shrill efforts he does manage to hone in on a critical truth:

” This is indeed likely to be seen by future historians as the central tragic irony of the Bush Administration’s world policy: that the United States, which of all states today should feel like a satisfied power, is instead behaving like a revolutionary one, kicking to pieces the hill of which it is king. “

The Bush foreign policy is indeed a revolutionary one – to rewrite the rules of the international world order to better comport with the advancement of liberal democracy, capitalism, and individualism and contain the threats posed by powerful technologies in unsafe hands and outlaw regimes. Most of those lining up against the Bush doctrine want a world organized around Social Democratic statism managed by transnational bodies that will contain, direct and ” legitimize ” American power for elite purposes.

Tuesday, June 24th, 2003


A paper from RAND assesses al Qaida’s parameters and potential.

Another question is – where is al Qaida ? The organization flourishes where it is indulged and feared by weak authorities or where there is no authority whatsoever. There are obvious locations where al Qaida is known to be active – Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Gaza, the frontier Pathan provinces of Pakistan and Southern Afghanistan, most likely now Iraq and in Daghestan with the Chechen rebels. However, American intelligence is probably checking less obvious locations – the outlying rim of islands in Indonesia and the Philippines, FARC countrolled regions of Colombia, northern Nigeria and the No-Man’s land borders of Central Africa.

Switch to our mobile site