Monday, May 29, 2006

Christopher Hitchens on Memorial Day 2006

In the Wall Street Journal, public link, here:

Memorial Day
Reflections on those who made the ultimate sacrifice.


Monday, May 29, 2006 12:01 a.m.
The Wall Street Journal, opinion-editorial page

LONDON--In the Cotswold hills, in deep England, there is a pair of villages named Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter. In addition to its rather gruesome name, Lower Slaughter possesses a unique distinction. It is the only village in all of England that does not possess a First World War memorial. In the remainder of the country, even the smallest hamlet will have--I almost said "will boast"--a stone marker with an arresting number of names on it. In bigger towns, it wouldn't be possible to incise all the names in stone, though at the Menin Gate in the Belgian town of Ypres a whole arch is inscribed with the names of those who fell along the Somme. Every year on Nov. 11--anniversary of the 1918 "Armistice"--the rest of the English-speaking world gathers, with Flanders poppies worn in the lapel, to commemorate the dead of all wars but in particular to feel again the still-aching wounds of the "war to end all wars": the barbaric conflict that shook peoples' faith in civilization itself.

Though the carnage of that war was felt much less in the United States, it was only after the doughboys returned in 1918 that the former Confederate states dropped their boycott of America's original "Memorial Day," proclaimed by Union commander Gen. John Logan in May 1868. And here one can note the bizarre manner in which war--which is division by definition--exerts its paradoxically unifying effect. If it is "the health of the state," as was sardonically said by that great foe of "Mr. Wilson's war," Randolph Bourne, then it can also be an agent of emancipation and nation-building and even (as was proved after 1945) of democracy. But even this reflection can never abolish the insoluble problem: how to estimate the value of those whose lives were cruelly cut off before victory was in sight. It is sometimes rather lazily said that these soldiers "gave" their lives. It would be equally apt, if more blunt, to say that they had their lives taken. Humanity has been grappling with this conundrum ever since Pericles gave his funeral oration, and there would have been many Spartan and Melian widows and orphans who would have been heartily sickened by those Athenian-centered remarks.

The soil of the United States is almost spoiled for choice when it comes to commemorative sites. They range from Gettysburg itself--still one of the most staggering places of memory in the world--to the Confederate statue of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan, and extend from the Polar Bear monument in Detroit (honoring those Michiganders who helped invade Russia in 1919: a forgotten war if ever there was one) to Maya Lin's masterpiece of Vietnam understatement on the National Mall. But Memorial Day transcends the specific, and collectivizes all disparate recollections into one single reflection upon the losses inflicted by war itself. The summa of this style, and one that transcends Pericles, is of course the Gettysburg Address, in which one cannot distinguish which side's graves are actually being honored. It was always Mr. Lincoln's way to insist that he was the elected president of every state, not just the "Northern" ones, and this speech still has the power to stir us because it was the most strenuous possible test of that essential proposition.

A memorial to, and for, all is certainly an improvement on the Arc de Triomphe/Brandenburg Gate style, which was regnant until 1918 and which asserted national exclusivity. Kemal Ataturk did a noble thing when he raised a monument to all those who fell at Gallipoli, and informed the British and Australian peoples that their "Tommies and Johnnies" would lie with his "Alis and Mehmets." But there are also disadvantages to a memorial that is too "inclusive." Not even President Reagan's fine speech at the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc has erased his crass equation of the "victims" at Bitburg cemetery with their victims. Bitburg is not Gettysburg: Some wounds cannot and perhaps should not be healed. The opposite danger also exists: Our "Memorial Day" is now the occasion of a three-day holiday weekend (over the protest of the Veterans of Foreign Wars) and has become somewhat banal precisely because it seems to honor nobody in particular.

The stark concept of "The Unknown Soldier" was the best expression of awe and respect that the century of total war managed to produce. Rudyard Kipling, whose only son, John, was posted as "missing" in 1915 (and whose remains were not found until 15 years ago) was the designer of the official headstone for those soldiers who lay in mass graves and could not even be identified. No pacifist, he nonetheless wrote with scorn of the "jelly-bellied flag-flappers" who lectured schoolboys on the glories of combat. Over time, it is the bleak poetry of Wilfred Owen, and not the inspirational verse of Julian Grenfell and Rupert Brooke, that has come to express the more profound experiences of warfare. Some thoughts must always lie too deep for tears.

Since all efforts at commemoration are bound to fall short, one must be on guard against any attempt at overstatement. In particular, one must resist efforts to ventriloquize the dead. To me, Cindy Sheehan's posthumous conscription of her son is as objectionable as Billy Graham's claim, at the National Cathedral, that all the dead of Sept. 11, 2001 were now in paradise. In the first instance, we have no reason to believe that young Casey Sheehan would ever have supported, and in the second instance we cannot be expected to believe that almost 3,000 New Yorkers all died in a state of grace. Nothing is more tasteless, when set against the reality of death, than the hollow note of demagogy and false sentiment. These things are also subject to unintended consequences. When Dalton Trumbo wrote his leftist antiwar classic "Johnnie Got His Gun," he little expected that it would be used as a propaganda tool by pro-fascist isolationists in the late 1930s, and that he would be protesting in vain that this was not what he had really meant.

"Always think of it: never speak of it." That was the stoic French injunction during the time when the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine had been lost. This resolution might serve us well at the present time, when we are in midconflict with a hideous foe, and when it is too soon to be thinking of memorials to a war not yet won. This Memorial Day, one might think particularly of those of our fallen who also guarded polling-places, opened schools and clinics, and excavated mass graves. They represent the highest form of the citizen, and every man and woman among them was a volunteer. This plain statement requires no further rhetoric.

Mr. Hitchens, a columnist for Vanity Fair, is author, most recently, of "Thomas Jefferson: Author of America" (HarperCollins, 2005).

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Best wishes on Memorial Day in the midst of war - a comment watching 1984

I wound up watching the DVD of the very fine film of George Orwell's 1984. John Hurt, Suzanne Hamilton, and Richard Burton in his final screen role. Orwell's novel is of course one of the most important books of the century, yet it is not a truly great novel. Michael Radford's film is actually better than the book. I have used this film in teaching a course on the ethics of war, although it is not directly about war, and I am thinking about using it in teaching high school students next fall. There is a great deal of violence and some sex. I am interested in it from a teaching standpoint because it is the apotheosis of a society of total war, totalitarian war, totalitarianism underpinned by war.

The most touching scene in the film is when Julia has stripped away her party coveralls and put on for Winston Smith an ugly, ill-fitting dress and badly applied makeup. I recall discussing this scene with my Harvard Law School students some years ago; they found it oddly (to me at any rate) difficult to understand this display of femininity as an act of liberation and an affirmation of everything human in an inhumanly totalitarian, collectivist world. One young woman in that class couldn't understand why Julia - played by a young and preternaturally beautiful Suzanne Hamilton - would feel the need to adorn herself with makeup and a dress for her lover, why her body on its own wasn't enough. It was very hard for this particular class to see past their own bourgeois feminist instincts that makeup and dresses for a lover were a form of conformity, not, in these circumstances, an assertion of self in the deepest way. That was back in the mid-1990s; perhaps things are different now.

The only society in the world today that truly resembles Orwell's vision is North Korea, and we should give thanks on Memorial Day for the sacrifices throughout the Cold War that largely eliminated the modernist totalitarian regime, its dependence upon war and conflict, and its subjugation of individual freedom, as we also give thanks for people fighting today against new threats to liberty.

The threat today, of course, is from a syncretic pre-modern and post-modern religious ideology, Islamism, jihadism, islamofascism, whatever you want to call it. Olivier Roy is correct in identifying it as a fusion of traditional religious fanaticism enhanced for its adherents by being cast adrift in a world of modernity in which they have no moderating identity apart from a Western derived, ideologically conditioned ressentiment. And the willingness of the post liberal, multicultural democracies to placate the most radical elements of this religious ideology has had the fantastically baleful effect of empowering the radicals and undercutting the ability of moderating influences in Islam itself. The traditional sources of Muslim moderation are now held hostage by the radicals, and the forces of moderation have no confidence - why should they? - that the secular democracies will back them, rather than see to placate ressentiment which, in the end, cannot be placated but which, as with all appetites, grows with the eating.

This is the new, pre-modern/post-modern face of totalitarianism - and, as we learned from Orwell, you cannot fight it if you cannot name it. That is the disaster of multiculturalism over liberal values.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Flemming Rose on Europe's culture of victimology

Flemming Rose is culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, Denmark. Here, via RCP.

As the Dutch cowardice and viciousness over the Ayaan Hirsi Ali affair shows, however, Western Europe is decidedly not prepared to assert its liberal values. Somewhere along the way it slipped from liberal values to multicultural ones. Look, for example, at how Human Rights Watch has covered the cartoon affair, here - it finally, barely, apologetically, halfheartedly endorses free expression, as a sort of quaint holdover that it hasn't yet managed to sluff off, while starting out with a ringing "explanation" of Muslim anger over discrimination that manages to put the blame for this anywhere but on those who reacted with violence. Memo to HRW - Edward Said was not a liberal and neither, on this issue, are you.

Meanwhile, Canada's largest book seller has decided not to stock the Harper's Magazine issue with the cartoons printed with commentary by Art Spiegelman.

May 27, 2006

Europe's Politics of Victimology

By Flemming Rose
Blueprint Magazine

The worldwide furor unleashed by the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that I published last September in Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper where I work, was both a surprise and a tragedy, especially for those directly affected by it. Lives were lost, buildings were torched, and people were driven into hiding.

And yet the unbalanced reactions to the not-so-provocative caricatures -- loud denunciations and even death threats toward us, but very little outrage toward the people who attacked two Danish Embassies -- unmasked unpleasant realities about Europe's failed experiment with multiculturalism. It's time for the Old Continent to face facts and make some profound changes in its outlook on immigration, integration, and the coming Muslim demographic surge. After decades of appeasement and political correctness, combined with growing fear of a radical minority prepared to commit serious violence, Europe's moment of truth is here.

Europe today finds itself trapped in a posture of moral relativism that is undermining its liberal values. An unholy three-cornered alliance between Middle East dictators, radical imams who live in Europe, and Europe's traditional left wing is enabling a politics of victimology. This politics drives a culture that resists integration and adaptation, perpetuates national and religious differences, and aggravates such debilitating social ills as high immigrant crime rates and entrenched unemployment.

As one who once championed the utopian state of multicultural bliss, I think I know what I'm talking about. I was raised on the ideals of the 1960s, in the midst of the Cold War. I saw life through the lens of the countercultural turmoil, adopting both the hippie pose and the political superiority complex of my generation. I and my high school peers believed that the West was imperialistic and racist. We analyzed decaying Western civilization through the texts of Marx and Engels and lionized John Lennon's beautiful but stupid tune about an ideal world without private property: "Imagine no possessions/ I wonder if you can/ No need for greed or hunger/ A brotherhood of man/ Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world."

It took me only 10 months as a young student in the Soviet Union in 1980-81 to realize what a world without private property looks like, although many years had to pass until the full implications of the central Marxist dogma became clear to me.

That experience was the beginning of a long intellectual journey that has thus far culminated in the reactions to the Mohammed cartoons. Politically, I came of age in the Soviet Union. I returned there in 1990 to spend 11 years as a foreign correspondent. Through close contact with courageous dissidents who were willing to suffer and go to prison for their belief in the ideals of Western democracy, I was cured of my wooly dreams of idealistic collectivism. I had a strong sense of the high price my friends were willing to pay for the very freedoms that we had taken for granted in high school -- but did not grasp as values inherent in our civilization: freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and movement. Justice and equality implies equal opportunity, I learned, not equal outcome.

Now, in Europe's failure to grapple realistically with its dramatically changing demographic picture, I see a new parallel to that Cold War journey. Europe's left is deceiving itself about immigration, integration, and Islamic radicalism today the same way we young hippies deceived ourselves about Marxism and communism 30 years ago. It is a narrative of confrontation and hierarchy that claims that the West exploits, abuses, and marginalizes the Islamic world. Left-wing intellectuals have insisted that the Danes were oppressing and marginalizing Muslim immigrants. This view comports precisely with the late Edward Said's model of Orientalism, which argues that experts on the Orient and the Muslim world have not depicted it as it is but as some dreaded "other," as exactly the opposite of ourselves -- and therefore to be rejected. The West, in this narrative, is democratic, the East is despotic. We are rational, they are irrational.
This kind of thinking gave birth to a distorted approach to immigration in countries like Denmark. Left-wing commentators decided that Denmark was both racist and Islamophobic. Therefore, the chief obstacle to integration was not the immigrants' unwillingness to adapt culturally to their adopted country (there are 200,000 Danish Muslims now); it was the country's inherent racism and anti-Muslim bias.

A cult of victimology arose and was happily exploited by clever radicals among Europe's Muslims, especially certain religious leaders like Imam Ahmad Abu Laban in Denmark and Mullah Krekar in Norway. Mullah Krekar -- a Kurdish founder of Ansar al Islam who this spring was facing an expulsion order from Norway -- called our publication of the cartoons "a declaration of war against our religion, our faith, and our civilization. Our way of thinking is penetrating society and is stronger than theirs. This causes hate in the Western way of thinking; as the losing side, they commit violence."

Inconvenient facts. The role of victim is very convenient because it frees the self-declared victim from any responsibility, while providing a posture of moral superiority. It also obscures certain inconvenient facts that might suggest a different explanation for the lagging integration of some immigrant groups -- such as the relatively high crime rates, the oppression of women, and a tradition of forced marriage.

Dictatorships in the Middle East and radical imams have adopted the jargon of the European left, calling the cartoons racist and Islamophobic. When Westerners criticize their lack of civil liberties and the oppression of women, they say we behave like imperialists. They have adopted the rhetoric and turned it against us.

These events are occurring against the disturbing backdrop of increasingly radicalized Muslims in Europe. Mohammed Atta, the 9/11 ringleader, became a born-again Muslim after he moved to Europe. So did the perpetrators behind the bombings in Madrid and London. The same goes for Mohammed Bouyeri, the young Muslim who slaughtered filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam. Europe, not the Middle East, may now be the main breeding ground for Islamic terrorism.

What's wrong with Europe? For one thing, Europe's approach to immigration and integration is rooted in its historic experience with relatively homogeneous cultures. In the United States one's definition of nationality is essentially political; in Europe it is historically cultural. I am a Dane because I look European, speak Danish, descend from centuries of other Scandinavians. But what about the dark, bearded new Danes who speak Arabic at home and poor Danish in the streets? We Europeans must make a profound cultural adjustment to understand that they, too, can be Danes.

Another great impediment to integration is the European welfare state. Because Europe's highly developed, but increasingly unaffordable, safety nets provide such strong unemployment insurance and not enough incentive to work, many new immigrants go straight onto the dole.
While it can be argued that the fast-growing community of about 20 million Muslim immigrants in Europe is the equivalent of America's new Hispanic immigrants, the difference in their productivity and prosperity is staggering. An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study in 1999 showed that while immigrants in the United States are almost equal to native-born workers as taxpayers and contributors to American prosperity, in Denmark there is a glaring gap of 41 percent between the contributions of the native-born and of the immigrants. In the United States, a laid-off worker gets an average of 32 percent compensation for his former wages in welfare services; in Denmark the figure is 81 percent. A culture of welfare dependency is rife among immigrants, and taken for granted.

What to do? Obviously, we can never return to the comfortable monocultures of old. A demographic revolution is changing the face, and look, of Europe. In an age of mass migration and the Internet, cheap air fares and cell phones everywhere, cultural pluralism is an irreversible fact, like it or not. A nostalgic longing for cultural purity -- racial purity, religious purity -- easily descends into ethnic cleansing.

Yet multiculturalism that has all too often become mere cultural relativism is an indefensible proposition that often justifies reactionary and oppressive practices. Giving the same weight to the illiberal values of conservative Islam as to the liberal traditions of the European Enlightenment will, in time, destroy the very things that make Europe such a desirable target for migration.

Europe must shed the straitjacket of political correctness, which makes it impossible to criticize minorities for anything -- including violations of laws, traditional mores, and values that are central to the European experience. Two experiences tell the tale for me.

Shortly after the horrific 2002 Moscow musical theater siege by Chechen terrorists that left 130 dead, I met with one of my old dissident friends, Sergei Kovalev. A hero of the human rights movement in the old Soviet Union, Kovalev had long been a defender of the Chechens and a critic of the Russian attacks on Chechnya. But after the theater massacre he refused, as always, to indulge in politically correct drivel about the Chechens' just fight for secession and decolonization. He unhesitatingly denounced the terrorists, and insisted that a nation's right to self-determination did not imply a free ticket to kill and violate basic individual rights. For me, it was a clarifying moment on the dishonesty of identity politics and the sometime tyranny of elevating group rights above those of individuals -- of justifying the killing of innocents in the name of some higher cause.

The other experience was a trip I made in the 1990s, when I was a correspondent based in the United States, to the Brighton Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. There I wrote a story about the burgeoning, bustling, altogether vibrant Russian immigrant community that had arisen there -- a perfect example of people retaining some of their old cultural identity (drinking samovars of tea, playing hours of chess, and attending church) while quickly taking advantage of America's free and open capitalism to establish an economic foothold. I marveled at America's ability to absorb newcomers. It was another clarifying moment.

An act of inclusion. Equal treatment is the democratic way to overcome traditional barriers of blood and soil for newcomers. To me, that means treating immigrants just as I would any other Danes. And that's what I felt I was doing in publishing the 12 cartoons of Mohammed last year. Those images in no way exceeded the bounds of taste, satire, and humor to which I would subject any other Dane, whether the queen, the head of the church, or the prime minister. By treating a Muslim figure the same way I would a Christian or Jewish icon, I was sending an important message: You are not strangers, you are here to stay, and we accept you as an integrated part of our life. And we will satirize you, too. It was an act of inclusion, not exclusion; an act of respect and recognition.

Alas, some Muslims did not take it that way -- though it required a highly organized campaign, several falsified (and very nasty) cartoons, and several months of overseas travel for the aggrieved imams to stir up an international reaction.

Maybe Europe needs to take a leaf -- or a whole book -- from the American experience. For a new Europe of many cultures that is somehow a single entity to emerge, as it has in the United States, will take effort from both sides -- the native-born and the newly arrived.

For the immigrants, the expectation that they not only learn the host language but also respect their new countries' political and cultural traditions is not too much to demand, and some stringent (maybe too stringent) new laws are being passed to force that. At the same time, Europeans must show a willingness to jettison entrenched notions of blood and soil and accept people from foreign countries and cultures as just what they are, the new Europeans.

Flemming Rose is culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, the largest newspaper in Denmark.

Blueprint Magazine

Mark Steyn on two templates for journalists on connecting the terrorist dots, pre and post next attack

Mark Steyn notes two scenarios for connecting the dots about terrorism and telephone calls ... here:


To connect the dots, you have to see the dots

May 14, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times


Here are two news stories from the end of last week. The first one you may have heard about. As "The Today Show's" Matt Lauer put it:

"Does the government have your number? This morning a shocking new report that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans."

The second story comes from the United Kingdom and what with Lauer's hyperventilating you may have missed it. It was the official report into the July 7 bus and Tube bombings. As The Times of London summarized the conclusions:

"Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the bomb cell, had come to the attention of MI5 [Britain's domestic intelligence agency] on five occasions but had never been pursued as a serious suspect . . .

"A lack of communication between police Special Branch units, MI5 and other agencies had hampered the intelligence-gathering operation;

"There was a lack of co-operation with foreign intelligence services and inadequate intelligence coverage in . . ."

Etc., etc., ad nauseam.

So there are now two basic templates in terrorism media coverage:

Template A (note to editors: to be used after every terrorist atrocity): "Angry family members, experts and opposition politicians demand to know why complacent government didn't connect the dots."

Template B (note to editors: to be used in the run-up to the next terrorist atrocity): "Shocking new report leaked to New York Times for Pulitzer Prize Leak Of The Year Award nomination reveals that paranoid government officials are trying to connect the dots! See pages 3,4,6,7,8, 13-37."

How do you connect the dots? To take one example of what we're up against, two days before 9/11, a very brave man, the anti-Taliban resistance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, was assassinated in Afghanistan by killers posing as journalists. His murderers were Algerians traveling on Belgian passports who'd arrived in that part of the world on visas issued by the Pakistani High Commission in the United Kingdom. That's three more countries than many Americans have visited. The jihadists are not "primitives". They're part of a sophisticated network: They travel the world, see interesting places, meet interesting people -- and kill them. They're as globalized as McDonald's -- but, on the whole, they fill in less paperwork. They're very good at compartmentalizing operations: They don't leave footprints, just a toeprint in Country A in Time Zone B and another toe in Country E in Time Zone K. You have to sift through millions of dots to discern two that might be worth connecting.

I'm a strong believer in privacy rights. I don't see why Americans are obligated to give the government their bank account details and the holdings therein. Other revenue agencies in other free societies don't require that level of disclosure. But, given that the people of the United States are apparently entirely cool with that, it's hard to see why lists of phone numbers (i.e., your monthly statement) with no identifying information attached to them is of such a vastly different order of magnitude. By definition, "connecting the dots" involves getting to see the dots in the first place.

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) feels differently. "Look at this headline," huffed the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The secret collection of phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. Now, are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al-Qaida?"

No. But next time he's flying from D.C. to Burlington, Vt., on a Friday afternoon he might look at the security line: Tens of millions of Americans are having to take their coats and shoes off! Are you telling me that tens of millions of ordinary shoe-wearing Americans are involved with al-Qaida?

Of course not. Fifteen out of 19 of the 9/11 killers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. So let's scrap the tens of millions of law-abiding phone records, and say we only want to examine the long-distance phone bills of, say, young men of Saudi origin living in the United States. Can you imagine what Leahy and Lauer would say to that? Oh, no! Racial profiling! The government's snooping on people whose only crime is "dialing while Arab." In a country whose Transportation Security Administration personnel recently pulled Daniel Brown off the plane as a security threat because he had traces of gunpowder on his boots -- he was a uniformed U.S. Marine on his way home from Iraq -- in such a culture any security measure will involve "tens of millions of Americans": again by definition, if one can't profile on the basis of religion or national origin or any other identifying mark with identity-group grievance potential, every program will have to be at least nominally universal.

Last week, apropos the Moussaoui case, I remarked on the absurdity of victims of the London Blitz demanding the German perpetrators be brought before a British court. Melanie Phillips, a columnist with the Daily Mail in London and author of the alarming new book Londonistan, responded dryly, "Ah, but if we were fighting World War Two now, we'd lose."

She may be right. It's certainly hard to imagine Pat Leahy as FDR or Harry Truman or any other warmongering Democrat of yore. To be sure, most of Pat's Vermont voters would say there is no war; it's just a lot of fearmongering got up by Bush and Cheney to distract from the chads they stole in Florida or whatever. And they're right -- if, by "war," you mean tank battles in the North African desert and air forces bombing English cities night after night. But today no country in the world can fight that kind of war with America. If that's all "war" is, then (once more by definition) there can be no war. If you seek to weaken, demoralize and bleed to death the United States and its allies, you can only do it asymmetrically -- by killing thousands of people and then demanding a criminal trial, by liaising with terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan and then demanding the government cease inspecting your phone records.

I yield to no one in my antipathy to government, but not everyone who's on the federal payroll is a boob, a time-server, a politically motivated malcontent or principal leak supplier to the New York Times. Suppose you're a savvy mid-level guy in Washington, you've just noticed a pattern, you think there might be something in it. But it requires enormous will to talk your bosses into agreeing to investigate further, and everyone up the chain is thinking, gee, if this gets out, will Pat Leahy haul me before the Senate and kill my promotion prospects? There was a lot of that before 9/11, and thousands died.

And five years on?

A note to power parents of private school children

A mother called to complain today to my wife, a teacher at a prominent DC private school, about her fifth grade son's C grade. The mother repeatedly asked my wife, in all seriousness, "How will I explain to my son that he didn't get an A?"

She explain to her son? Well, I don't know. Possibly she might consider that maybe it's her son who ought to be explaining to her why he wasn't paying attention in class and not studying.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Democratic legitimacy, what non-Americans think about American policy, and the war on terror (excerpt from a paper in progress)

The following is an excerpt from a new essay I am currently drafting, on institutionalizing the war on terror through Congressional legislation. This particular section is concerned with the extent to which the war on terror should be framed with "how others abroad see us" as the driving issue. I argue that the legitimacy that matters is legitimacy internal to the American democratic process, and that for several reasons, it is folly - folly unfortunately indulged extensively by the Bush administration and not merely the the anti-war American left - to frame American policy around trying to make nice to the rest of the world (note that this is all still first draft stuff):

The American people will not engage with the struggle against a transnational terrorist threat over the long run unless it is consonant with deep American values. Americans have not historically been very willing to support in blood and treasure – and, today, attention span – long running wars or foreign policy agendas that do not seem to them both necessary to the national survival and broadly just. The Cold War, by comparison, was understood by a broad range of the public, including its elites, as both necessary and just, even when particular wars within it – Korea and Vietnam, for example – sorely tested those presumptions. “We fight well,” wrote Rene Char in his Resistance journal, “only for causes of our own molding, and are fired up only when we identify ourselves in them.”[1] Values are an expression of the legitimacy of the struggle against jihadist terrorism and a long term requirement of the national will. And long term legitimacy can only come through the time-honored mechanisms of public ratification through democratic processes.

Legitimacy is also crucial in another way, however. Not only does the nature of the struggle require the use of force, and hence the defense of its legitimacy – in addition, it is a struggle of ideas, ideals, and ideology. The struggle over ideals requires the clear, unapologetic advocacy of liberal, Enlightenment values – the legitimate foundation of our constitutional order – as against the religious obscurantism of an enemy who seeks both to hide among and to persuade global Muslim masses to adopt its syncretic religion of Islamic fundamentalism and Western ideologies of ressentiment against the liberal West. That advocacy – what amounts to the defense of America and the world’s liberal societies – can scarcely be undertaken without the clear understanding that the struggle of an open, democratic society against inflamed, violent religious fundamentalism and regimes exploiting that fanaticism is buttressed by the legitimacy conveyed by its own democratic process. Yet once again, I do not mean this in the way it is usually deployed in the national debate. Typically, the observation that the war on terror requires not only the use of force but the use of ideals and ideology is prelude to a disquisition on the global spread of anti-Americanism, and a long list of reasons why America must give up the use of force, pursuit of national interest, disdain of global governance, etc., in favor of a policy of seeking to be loved by the rest of the world. When we are loved, we will then be safe.


Alas, no. The question of legitimacy is first a question of legitimacy within the constitutional political community that defines the United States, and only secondarily – very secondarily – how it plays with the rest of the world. The effort to design American policy in the war on terror by its appeal to foreigners is disastrous. It has backfired upon us. It will always backfire. It is a form of foreign policy that the Bush administration has followed with extraordinary foolishness since 9-11 – what possessed the administration in the Iraq invasion, for example, to announce that success in the war would be measured by whether Iraqis threw flowers and danced in the streets? If it happens, great – but announcing that your definition of victory depends upon other people making known their happiness grants them a power over you that they will almost certainly exercise by failing to dance or throw flowers.

This has never been the measure of victory for an invader, even a benevolent one. Better, rather, to follow your own policies, your own goals, as the measure of victory. If it includes liberation for Iraq’s population, measured on objective, not psychological, grounds, well and good. Remember that measuring victory by waiting for them to dance in the streets amounts, psychologically, to the humiliation of them putting on a dance for you so that you feel good about what you did. Given a choice, people prefer not to humiliate themselves, and if refusing to do so is also an exercise of power, then they will refuse and simultaneously heighten their threshold of resentment and offended sensitivity. Far better to be objective, not psychological, about the definition of victory – Saddam is gone, and how anyone feels about it is not an issue; force them, therefore, to share with us an objective definition of victory and to understand, with the same sense of relief that we feel, that in war it is good enough for all concerned, not that things did not go off perfectly, but that things did not go worse than they did. As a matter of individual or mass psychology, if you tell people that your policy is subject to their veto if they do not love you, do not like you, or resent you – subjected in effect to a veto on the basis of how they feel – rest assured that they will exercise that power by failing to love you, by not liking you, and resenting you. And they will then raise the bar for your behavior at each opportunity by making their sensitivities ever more exquisitely offendable as they exercise the (only) levers of power you have given them. Give people a button to push that consists of their own resentments, and they will push it, discovering new and ever more sensitized sources of resentment.

This is fundamental; an uncompromisable condition in legislating the war on terror. The ideological and ideal aspects of the war on terror must be conceived within the framework of legitimacy of the American people, and not by some mythical appeal to how other people in the world will see us. Forget the endless surveys from the Pew Charitable Trusts of anti-Americanism in the world, trumpeted relentlessly by the media. Trust, rather, that the general ideals of America’s liberal inheritance will sufficiently inform American policy and will work for the interests of a sufficient number of people in the world outside the United States that there is no reason to consider granting whole populations a stick with which to beat upon US policy in the form of resentment – resentment increasingly, and thanks in no small part to foolish American encouragement, not merely against the United States and its allies, but against Western liberal values as such.

None of this displaces the need for detailed policy negotiations and diplomatic arrangements that must take place at the level of states in creating coalitions against terror with our allies including, sometimes, our allies of convenience. But it does remove the misguided temptation to establish policy in the fight against transnational terror by appeal to the world as the cosmopolitan “street.”[2] That effort - psychological rather than political - will backfire politically and strategically. Legislating US policy on the basis of long term American interests and ideals is enough to satisfy the people in the world we want to satisfy, without attempting to appease those who, in the final analysis, will not be appeased anyway. It provides predictability for American behavior to the policymakers of other states, in no small part because others in the world can see that it represents not merely whim and fashion in American politics, but the comprehensible, rational expression of interest. And it removes a foolish invitation to those who sit in the middle - Muslim masses in the world, principally - to (further) radicalize and inflame their sensitivities and capacities for offense as a means of exercising power.


[1] Char was both a great French poet and a maquisard who actually fought in the Resistance and did not merely write clandestine essays. Leaves of Hypnos 63 (Feuillets d’Hypnos, Paris: Gallimard 1946).

[2] The latest expression of this administration folly – sending Karen Hughes, Soccer Mom to the world, abroad as though the world were merely the suburbs of Texas – is more than mere silliness. It is seen as insult because it is. A nation – the US - which believes that, even though powerful, it must treat seriously with the rest of the world sends representatives who are unapologetic representatives of power and do not dissemble that power is not at issue and only values – and a single “value,” “niceness,” at that – are under discussion. It sends Condoleezza Rice – the embodiment of power conjoined with values – not Karen Hughes. It does not send representatives to make nice as though “niceness” were a foreign policy even while the United States is engaged in several wars at once. It is a form of patronizing contempt, and is fully understood that way by the rest of the world – which responds with still greater resentment and heightened sensitivity to offense. The damage is considerable. This model of ressentiment and offense restates the ideology of multiculturalism, and the way in which multiculturalism has systematically deformed, overtaken, and replaced the Enlightenment ideology of liberalism. That shift – and its many pernicious consequences – is unfortunately beyond the scope of this essay.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Is this form of caffeine so very wrong?

I don't like the taste of coffee or the effects of caffeine, and so have coffee only once or twice a year to stay awake driving and coke pretty much never - on the other hand, I haven't had any sleep for a couple of nights and need something in order to continue work on my piece for Policy Review on legislating the war on terror. Is this concoction a sin?:

Can of starbuck's doubleshot expresso
Hot chocolate - much, much high quality French chocolate and whole milk and sugar
Vanilla paste, to feel like the Aztecs
Toad Sweat chocolate dessert hot sauce, enough to give it kick
One teaspoon peanut butter

Served hot.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

David Ignatius in the WaPo on need for congressional legislation on war on terror

The Washington Post's David Ignatius argues, here, on the experience of the NSA controversy, that whether you think the programs were legal or not (I think they were), we stand in urgent need of legislation to institutionalize the war on terror. I couldn't agree more, and am busy writing this up for Policy Review on the basis of a conference at my law school, a second at AEI in February, and an even earlier one, where I was on the panel next to Mr. Ignatius himself, at the American Society of International Law.

Here's my problem - and it has proven to be a problem in framing my argument for the Policy Review article. I hate writing articles that ardently call for pie in the sky legislation or political action or what have you. I especially hate writing articles that "bravely" call for bi partisan agreement, or national consensus, or what have you, that is only too obviously not going to be forthcoming. I rarely can get myself to read articles in that vein when others write them, because the counter-factual assumptions make the analysis convincing - on, perhaps, the planet Mars.

The Bush administration seems utterly exhausted with this (and pretty much every other) issue. Its current attitude seems to be, "wake me up when we get there." And all this "value" stuff - tradeoffs between security and liberties, how to treat alleged terrorists, all the stuff we went through with the McCain Amendment - appears to be the last thing the administration wants to deal with.

Likwise the House and Senate. I had a fascinating, really compelling conversation with two senior Federalist Society members drafting a white paper on executive power. They both agreed with me that, their expansive views on executive power notwithstanding, they thought it would be a good idea if Congress were to legislate the values and tradeoffs between liberty and security in the war on terror - in the (admittedly blunt and clumsy) context, say, of an appropriations bill in which Congress's authority to legislate was unquestionable. "Let them raise their hands and vote," I was told - and I entirely agree - "let them tell the country in a democratic way what they think the tradeoffs should be. Stand up and be counted." But having said that, my friends added, "of course, there's not a chance in hell Congress would want to do that - it wants to stay off the record, let the Bush administration have to make all the tough calls, and then pout, second guess, snipe, and kibbutz from the sidelines."

Combine that with the fact that Democrats have little reason to act now, before the midterm elections, and those with presidential aspirations have little to gain by committing themselves to anything very specific - specific enough to constitute instructions to intelligence agents, that is - and there is not a lot of momentum there.

And yet, the rancor and anger and sense of bad faith on all sides convinces me more with each passing day that we have to put our priorities in a legislatively enacted framework. It is, after all, a democracy, and at some point our beloved elected representatives have to make clear where they stand. Which is why I will finish the Policy Review piece after all.

Spy Tools In Need Of a Law

By David Ignatius
Wednesday, May 17, 2006; A23
Washington Post

Let's take a hypothetical problem: An al-Qaeda operative decides to switch cellphones to prevent the National Security Agency from monitoring his calls. How does the NSA identify his new cellphone number? How does it winnow down a haystack with several hundred million pieces of straw so that it can find the deadly needle?

The problem may seem hopelessly complex, but if you use common sense, you can see how the NSA has tried to solve it. Suppose you lost your own cellphone and bought a new one, and people really needed to find out that new number. If they could search all calling records, they would soon find a number with the same pattern of traffic as your old one -- calls to your spouse, your kids, your office, your golf buddies. They wouldn't have to listen to the calls themselves to know it was your phone. Simple pattern analysis would be adequate -- so long as they had access to all the records.

This, in simple terms, is what I suspect the NSA has done in tracking potential sleeper cells in the United States. The agency can sift through the haystack, if (and probably only if) it can search all the phone and e-mail records for links to numbers on a terrorist watch list. The computers do the work: They can examine hundreds of millions of calls to find the few red-hot links -- which can then be investigated under existing legal procedures.

There's one overwhelming problem with this pattern-analysis approach: It may be illegal.
When the Bush administration ordered the NSA after Sept. 11, 2001, to use aggressive techniques to find al-Qaeda operatives, this sort of data mining was one obvious response. President Bush's lawyers argued that he had inherent authority as commander in chief to order such surveillance to protect the country. The NSA accepted the administration's position, but the potential privacy problems worried NSA lawyers enough that they also ordered extensive internal controls, including audit trails, restricted access to databases and other oversight. NSA officials feared there might eventually be a problem, and now there is a big one -- after a USA Today story last week disclosed the program.

Gen. Michael Hayden, who ran the NSA when the program began, will be questioned about it tomorrow when the Senate holds a hearing on his nomination to be CIA director. Hayden may not say much in public, but within the intelligence community he has long been an advocate of data mining and link analysis, calling it "the future of SIGINT," as signals intelligence is known. To explain the basic concept of pattern analysis, Hayden has told audiences that if you could monitor, say, the timing and pattern of calls on Super Bowl Sunday, you would know which teams were playing, how the game progressed and perhaps even who won.

The NSA program poses the most difficult questions about privacy, intelligence and the law. The first essential task is to strip away some of the legal misinformation, starting with constitutional issues. The Supreme Court for decades has accorded a lesser privacy right to calling-record data -- which the NSA likes to call "meta-data" -- than to the underlying content. The court held in a 1979 case, Smith v. Maryland , that "it is too much to believe" that telephone users expect the numbers they dial will be secret, when those numbers appear in bills, phone logs and other business records.

Though Congress in the 1980s legislated greater privacy rights for calling data than the court had found in the Constitution, it narrowed those rights in amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allowed FISA warrants for searching call records if the information was "relevant to an ongoing investigation" of terrorism. Details about the numbers being examined had to be provided only "if known."

The breadth for surveillance power that already exists under FISA has led Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and others to argue that FISA itself can accommodate the NSA program without further amendments. She introduced legislation last week that would provide additional resources for the administration so that it can comply with FISA. There's also an argument that the administration could submit a general blanket request for data-mining authority, which House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi described in January as "the mother of all FISAs."

These would be easy fixes, but they would duck the basic issue: Is it legal for the NSA to obtain and keep the nation's phone records to identify who is getting calls from terrorists? Do Americans support that trade-off of privacy for security? It should be obvious now, as the temporary anti-terrorist structure created after Sept. 11 begins to crumble, that the only stable framework going forward will be one that brings these programs clearly and firmly under the rule of law.

Journal of Philosophy of International Law

Thanks to Adil Haque, guest blogging at Opinio Juris, for pointing me in the direction of the new journal edited by Anthony Carty of University of Aberdeen, the Journal of Philosophy of International Law. This is a topic I am increasingly interested in - methodology in the study of international law, including many philosophical issues raised thereby. Professor Carty is also a fine choice of editor of this new journal.

My question, though, is whether I would ever consider submitting an article on this topic to a journal which is closed source and takes full and exclusive copyright in the article. On a topic like this, with a handful of specialists throughout the world, and no material stakes involved, wouldn't I prefer to post to SSRN and then see it published in an open source law journal, even if student edited, and then flagged for attention by, for example, Larry Solum's Legal Theory Blog? It seems to me that the closed source model for this kind of a topic is outdated and not likely to attract an author like me. I am curious for reaction by others - what is the competitive advantage of having a fee paid journal for this kind of topic when there are so many alternative open source venues that would almost certainly reach a wider audience?

Condi Rice's playlist

Thanks to Chris Borgen, Opinio Juris, via Wonkette and the special Bono edited edition of the Independent, here is Condi Rice's favorite playlist. You have to understand - as a very, very poor but passionate amateur cellist, I have a special interest in Ms. Rice's music. I avidly read all the reviews of her performance of Brahms with Yo Yo Ma a couple of years ago - put the photo from the Washington Post of the two of them up on my office door (where it was rudely defaced and ripped up by some student, I'm afraid, presumably thinking he/she was making some brave political statement). I read twice the article in the New York Times of Condi Rice and her chamber playing in DC - have to say, though, her companions may not technically be professionals, but they, like Ms. Rice, may as well be - by all accounts, they are quite extraordinary musicians.

Like Chris, I was struck by the amount of pop on her list. But then, although I listen mostly to classical music, if I were stuck on a desert island, I would definitely take along a fair amount of pop. I was actually more intrigued to see that the list did not include anything older than Mozart - and no Bach!

(From an amateur playing standpoint - bad amateur playing - we low level players tend to prefer generic baroque, because it's much, much easier than the late Romantics. Brahms? From a playing, rather than listening, standpoint, forget it - I couldn't manage to make even the Brahms' Lullaby-and-Goodnight sound decent even if I practiced it for the rest of my life. Mindful of my limitations, I stick as a cello player to Baroque oompah bass parts. Brahms is clearly Ms. Rice's metier - but still, no Bach?)

Condi's Playlist

by Chris Borgen
Opinio Juris

The Independent has a special edition today edited by Bono. It includes Condi Rice’s list of ten favorite pieces of music. See the full list with explanations and comments here.

I’ll note that there was more pop than I expected, but I’m still waiting for the first Secretary of State who will put the Clash’s London Calling at Number 1. Or the Sex Pistols anywhere on the list. I wonder what Warren Christopher’s list looks like…

Condi's List

1. MozartPiano Concerto in D minor
2. Cream'Sunshine of Your Love'
3. Aretha Franklin'Respect'
4. Kool and the Gang 'Celebration'
5. BrahmsPiano Concerto No 2
6. BrahmsPiano Quintet in F minor
7. U2Anything.
8. Elton John'Rocket Man'
9. BeethovenSymphony No 7
10. MussorgskyBoris Godunov

Hat tip: Wonkette

Robert Samuelson on the intersection between immigration and the increasing number of elderly

Robert Samuelson, here, in Newsweek (via RCP) on the intersection of issues driving both the aging population and immigration. He argues against law wage, low skills immigration in favor of high skills immigration.

May 17, 2006

Dodging Immigration's Truths

By Robert Samuelson

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's immigration speech mostly missed the true nature of the problem. We face two interconnected population issues. One is aging; the other is immigration. We aren't dealing sensibly with either, and as a result, we face a future of unnecessarily heightened political and economic conflict. On the one side will be older baby boomers demanding all their federal retirement benefits. On the other will be an expanding population of younger and poorer Hispanics -- immigrants, their children and grandchildren -- increasingly resentful of their rising taxes that subsidize often-wealthier and unrelated baby boomers.
Does this look like a harmonious future?

But you couldn't glean the danger from Bush's Monday night speech. Nor will you hear of it from most Democrats and (to be fair) the mainstream media. There is much muddle to our immigration debate. The central problem is not illegal immigration. It is undesirably high levels of poor and low-skilled immigrants, whether legal or illegal, most of whom are Hispanic. Immigrants are not all the same. An engineer making $75,000 annually contributes more to the American economy and society than a $20,000 laborer. On average, the engineer will assimilate more easily.

Testifying recently before Congress, University of Illinois economist Barry Chiswick -- a respected immigration scholar -- said this of low-skilled immigrants:

``Their presence in the labor market increases competition for low-skilled jobs, reducing the earnings of low-skilled native-born workers. ... Because of their low earnings, low-skilled immigrants also tend to pay less in taxes than they receive in public benefits, such as income transfers (e.g., the earned income tax credit, food stamps), public schooling for their children, and publicly provided medical services. Thus while the presence of low-skilled immigrant workers may raise the profits of their employers, they tend to have a negative effect ... on the native economy as a whole.''

Hardly anyone is discussing these issues candidly. It is politically inexpedient to do so. We can be a lawful society and a welcoming society simultaneously, to use the president's phrase, but we cannot be a welcoming society for limitless numbers of Latin America's poor without seriously compromising our own future -- and indeed, the future of many of the Latinos already here. Yet, that is precisely what the president and many senators (Democratic and Republican) support by endorsing large ``guest worker'' programs and expansion of today's system of legal visas. In practice, these proposals would result in substantial increases of low-skilled immigrants.
How fast can they assimilate? We cannot know, but we can consult history. It is sobering. In 1972, Hispanics were 5 percent of the U.S. population, and their median household income was 74 percent of that of non-Hispanic white households. In 2004, Hispanics were 14 percent of the population, and their median household income was 70 percent of the level of non-Hispanic whites. These numbers suggest that rapid immigration of low-skilled workers and rapid assimilation are at odds.

The difficulties are obvious. Competition among them depresses wages. Social services are stretched thin. In 2000, children of immigrants already represented a quarter of all low-income students in U.S. schools, reports an Urban Institute study. The figure is probably higher today. The study also reports that immigrant children are rapidly spreading beyond the six states where they had traditionally concentrated (California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, New York and New Jersey). This may explain why immigration has suddenly become such an explosive issue. '
There are striking parallels between how we've treated immigration and aging. In both cases, the facts are hiding in plain view. But we've chosen to ignore them, because candor seems insensitive and politically awkward. Who wants to offend the elderly or Latinos? The result is to make our choices worse by postponing them. A sensible society would long ago have begun adapting to longer life expectancies, better health and greater wealth by making careful cuts in Social Security and Medicare. We've done little.

Unfortunately, the two problems intersect. The tax increases required to pay for existing federal commitments to the elderly are on the order of 30 percent to 40 percent. People who don't think there will be conflicts between older beneficiaries and younger taxpayers -- Hispanic or not -- are deluding themselves. People who imagine there won't be more conflicts between growing numbers of poor Latinos and poor African-Americans for jobs are also deluding themselves.

As the president says, we need a ``comprehensive'' immigration policy. He's right on some elements: controlling the border; providing reliable identification cards for legal immigrants; penalizing employers that hire illegal immigrants; providing some legal status for today's illegals. But he's wrong in wanting to expand low-skilled immigrants. In his testimony, economist Chiswick rightly argued that we should do the opposite -- give preferences to skilled immigrants. We should be smart about the future; right now, we're not.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Comment on George Weigel's views on moral relativism in Europe, and the 'iron cage of relativism'

My last post linked to George Weigel's new Commentary article on moral relativism in Europe. It is an exceptionally interesting article - superbly written as with all George writes. However, my own view of moral relativism is somewhat different. This is to say merely, perhaps, that I am not a Catholic - I don't just mean not literally a baptized Catholic, but that my moral perceptions on this are significantly different from the Catholic thought that underlies George's article.

Moral relativism has gotten a bad rap for the last couple of decades, from three quite different sources. One is, of course, conservative moralists - Catholics most prominently, but many others besides. I don't just mean pulpit teaching or popular moralizing, but the genuine intellectuals - of which George Weigel is a world class leader. For this group, moral relativism presents, at bottom, the temptation to genuine moral nihilism, the consequence of a world without any objective standards of right and wrong, on any topic.

The second is left-wing progressive universalism - the leftwing secular religion of human rights. It, too, is deeply unhappy with genuine moral relativism, since by definition it deprives rights claims of their status as universals. The human rights movement has responded in various ways - some purely legal-positivist, saying, whatever the ultimate moral status of rights, they are the law. Or contractualist - these rights are essentially agreed to by the political community as a matter of law. Mostly, to judge by recent literature from the intellectuals of the human rights movement, it has simply agreed that the conversation on the ultimate justification for universal rights can be declared over - by fiat, unfortunately - and that it is a bit of a bore and boorish for anyone to raise it seriously.

The collective decision of the intellectuals of the human rights movement to turn off the discussion of the justification of rights as, fundamentally, boringly unfashionable has had the very bad effect, however, of depriving the human rights movement of sound grounds on which to resist its own gradual evolution from a movement about liberal rights to a movement of multiculturalism itself. The growing distaste, for example, of the human rights movement to have to defend free expression - well, okay, okay, if really, really pressed, we suppose we'll have to say that censorship is bad, but only after extensive lectures on why self-censorship is good - is strong evidence. The human rights movement is absolutist in many of its pronouncements but - because it has eschewed liberal foundations in favor of legally narrow ones - it turns out to be a sort of serial absolutist - absolutely absolute about whatever it says today, but just as absolute when it says something different tomorrow. Which is how the robust, liberal, unabashed defense of free expression by such groups as Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International somehow fell out of fashion. Liberalism was yesterday's absolutism; cultural sensitivity and multiculturalism are today's. But "depend upon it, sir," as Dr. Johnson would say, the commitment to multiculturalism as a matter of absolute rights is, well, absolute.

The third is much more under the surface even of intellectual culture, much more narrowly philosophical in tone, but with powerful implications. After all, during the 1950s and 60s, conventional Anglo-American moral philosophy accepted largely without dissent that value judgments had to be relative to something - a person, a culture, something. It was largely the efforts of the great moral philosopher Philippa Foot who raised serious, serious problems with the relativist accounts - problems that reached beyond simply an appeal to religious belief or even to natural law as such. It was this largely unheralded work that undermined the unquestioned doctrine of relativism and put it on the defensive - it did not necessarily establish natural law or neo-Aristotleanism or anything else as the necessary answer, but it certainly undermined the foundations of secular relativism. I am always surprised that Christian theologians do not more often acknowledge this debt.

(It also bears noting that relativism, as a philosophical doctrine, rather than merely a cultural trope, is far from being without powerful arguments on its behalf. The backlash against it has tended to ignore and not engage with the genuinely powerful philosophical arguments that can be made for it. I am not a relativist, but I think it is a philosophical position more caricatured these days than argued for. To be sure, much of the attack upon it is really directed at it in less logically rigorous disciplines - anthropology, sociology, etc., and in the popular culture. But it is a mistake to argue against moral relativism in its vulgar forms and assume that one has vanquished much more sophisticated and morally attractive versions of it. It also should be said that as an attack upon natural law and other doctrines favored by Catholic thinkers in particular, relativism forces an important debate over the limits of what can be said to be objectively right and wrong - the natural law position, that is, has its own problems.)

But the problem of Europe is only partly a problem of relativism. Yes, relativism is a problem if it genuinely means that one believes in nothing - nothing is worth defending or fighting for - a fact that matters if one's enemies are themselves true and fanatic believers. This is sometimes presented as a problem of nihilism - that is how Camus treats it in The Rebel - but in contemporary Western societies, it is not so much nihilism as decadence. Nihilism is a matter of infinite permission - nothing is prohibited, everything is permitted - but it is an active permission, it requires some action to prove it. Whereas decadence is a matter of infinite indulgence. Nihilism is really a very tough ethic, a surprisingly action-demanding ethic - whereas decadence is a pose, for poseurs, and it is fundamentally passive and narcissistic, in the precise sense that Jackson Lears once remarked, in an obituary essay upon the late Christopher Lasch - nacrcissism, Lears said (I paraphrase from memory, from an essay in the New Republic, I believe), is not self-love, it is rather the inability to distinguish self from everything else in the hall of mirrors that makes up our image saturated society.

The real problem with relativism - the real problem in Europe and, alas, increasingly in the US as well - is when it migrates into multiculturalism. The migration is as follows. It is not that society breaks down into a bunch of rampant libertines. This is what Catholic prelates and intellectuals tend to think - including, I think, the current Pope - but this is not the genuine risk. The risk, rather, is that if moral action is essentially arbitrary - relative to a culture and a society - then it creates an open invitation to those who have power to impose their morality. Why not, after all? If one is as good as another it may as well be my morality, if I have the political will and power to do so. Islam on the march - a syncretic religion of traditional piety and Western multiculturalism fueled by resentiment - has noticed; hence the one-way political ratchet noted by Fred Siegel. I always demand the 'right' to do as I will, then use demands for sensitivity and the exploitation of 'rights' to make sure that you can no longer do what you will. That is a deeply Western exploitation of relativism in the service not of libertinism, but religious authoritarianism. Multiculturalism is the expression of the move from all are equally valid to "we're going to do it our way."

In a Times Literary Supplement essay on this subject (reviewing, however strange it may seem, a Star Trek movie featuring the dreaded Borg - but recall, Star Trek championed, however ambiguously, the Prime Directive, no interference in native cultures, all are equally valid, relativism, in a word), I called this the "iron cage of relativism." That is the real risk of moral relvativism - its invitation to moral and political arbitrariness.

George Weigel on two cultures in Europe

George Weigel writing in Commentary on the two cultures in Europe - moral relativism meets religious absolutism.

My take? Guess who wins? Victory goes to the most fanatic, because, if nothing else, they have the courage of their convictions. Demography helps - if you have no children of your own, and the children of immigrants are not sufficiently assimilated either in your mind or theirs to count as yours within your political community, then all you are really looking for is a quiet life until your generation dies out. After that, who cares? So go ahead and hound Ayaan Hirsi Ali from your midst as a disturbance to your peace and undercut the genuinely moderate Muslims whose numbers diminish as they realize that your 'neutral' rule of law will not protect them from communal violence whose terms are defined by the group identities of multicultalism rather than the individual identities of liberalism. God, the Dutch turn out to be such cowards! Go on, tell yourself that all your multicultural surrenders aren't really surrenders, they are just expressions of your higher multi-culti morality and compassionate respect for all religions - well, not Catholicism, of course, or Christianity, but religions whose adherents have a nasty tendency to express themselves by riot and violence when they don't like something, calling to behead those whose views they disagree with while intoning that theirs is a religion of peace. Peace? On what evidence, pray tell? Don't worry, dear Europe, it's surely not a form of submission. No, it must be an expression of your higher moral character. Well, enjoy your dhimmitude. Last elderly nude sunbather on the beaches of southern Spain as the burkas blossom, be sure to turn out the lights. Allah Akbar? As Christopher Hitchens puts it, no, God is not great.

(Here is the play for contemporary Western Europe - Max Frisch, Biedermann und die Brandstifter.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Internet access in law classrooms questioned

USA Today story discussing backlash against universal internet access in college and law school classrooms. Count me as part of the backlash. My school was an early adopter of universal classroom access, and the decline in class attention and the toll on informed student participation was obvious from the start.

Some of my colleagues argue that a good teacher will command attention if he or she has something interesting to say. I disagree. Maybe that's true if you teach one of the "cocktail party conversation" type classes (and I sometimes do) - cool current events issues that everyone has an opinion on even if he or she hasn't actually done the class reading - but if you are teaching something that is technical by nature, then why would you torture students by presenting them the perfect temptation - email, instant messaging, web surfing, video, and television all at your desk when the alternative is to try and understand some technical code provision? I think it's actually quite unfair to students to present them with overwhelming temptation and then say it's either the teacher's fault for not being fascinating enough or the student's fault for falling for temptation. I don't see television screens in the zazen room of the Zen monastary, and I bet there's a reason.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Richard Posner's new book on security bureaucracy reform

I attended a book reception last night for Judge Richard A. Posner - his second book on intelligence reform, Uncertain Shield: The US intelligence system in the throes of reform, is just out now from Rowman and Littlefield, a book in the quite exciting Hoover Institution politics series edited by Tod Lindberg and Peter Berkowitz. That series also includes Juliet Eilperin's Fight Club Politics, Shuel Bar's Warrant for Terror: Fatwas of Radical Islam and the Duty to Jihad, and Judge Posner's first book on intelligence and security, Preventing Surprise Attacks. It should also soon include a book by Jack Goldsmith on the laws of war and terrorism, and a book by me on global governance, the international system, and UN reform.

But Judge Posner spoke on the topic of the book, and was quite soberingly pessimistic on the (lack of) progress made in reforming the US intelligence system. He viewed the Department of Homeland Security as a disaster, and the creation of the Director of National Intelligence - Negroponte's position - as the imposition of another rapidly morphing (1500 direct employees and counting) layer of bureaucracy between intelligence gathering and analysis and policymakers.

I am just starting to read the book, but it is not at all encouraging.

(Update, May 16. The book is relentlessly rational, utterly damning in even-keeled, un-emoting prose. Just evidence, argumentation, and conclusions. It deserves a wide, wide reading in policy, journalistic, and governmental circles. Here is a link to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Judge Posner that captures some of the discussion.)

Term paper time

This is one of two times of the year when visits to this blog spike dramatically, as undergraduates working on term papers start searching around on topics like "just war theory" and "realism and idealism in international relations." I'm struck, however, looking at the site statistics, how many of the google searches are seemingly not for information, but for ... pre-written term papers.

Jonah Goldberg on Condi Rice at Boston College and the never-ending quest to suppress free speech on campus

Here, at National Review online:

May 10, 2006, 6:17 a.m.
National Review Online

Big Sham on Campus
Catholicism and academic freedom.

By Jonah Goldberg

How is academic freedom like Catholicism? Well, if you are a left-wing academic, the answer is obvious: both can be used like a club on people you don’t like.

Consider the current contretemps over Boston College’s invitation to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to be this year’s commencement speaker and receive an honorary degree. Rice, the first black woman to be secretary of state, was a distinguished professor of political science at Stanford University, where she received the top awards for teaching. Later, she was Stanford’s provost. Her CV is precisely the sort of thing that makes her a no-brainer to receive an honorary degree and be a commencement speaker. Certainly she is more deserving than such past Boston College honorary-degree recipients as Barbara Bush and Queen Noor of Jordan.

Don’t tell that to the faculty at B.C. In a letter distributed by the heads of the Catholic school’s theology department and signed by about 200 faculty members, we are informed that, “On the levels of both moral principle and practical moral judgment, Secretary Rice’s approach to international affairs is in fundamental conflict with Boston College’s commitment to the values of the Catholic and Jesuit traditions and is inconsistent with the humanistic values that inspire the university’s work.” The letter, titled “Condoleezza Rice Does Not Deserve a Boston College Honorary Degree,” cherry-picks quotes from Pope John Paul II to argue that Rice’s policies should disqualify her as a commencement speaker.

One can respect honest disagreement over the Bush administration’s foreign policy. But this high-minded rhetoric is a bit hard to take considering that B.C. is fairly selective about where it will draw such lines. For example, Mary Daly was for decades a distinguished professor at Boston College, despite the fact she exceeds even the right-wing parody of a left-wing academic. She refused to teach men. Her writings include such relentlessly anti-Catholic manifestos as “The Church and the Second Sex” and “Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation.” (Although my favorite title is “Outercourse: The Be-Dazzling Voyage.”)

Daly left the school in 1999, when she was told that she could no longer discriminatorily bar men from all of her classes. Rather than teach men, she chose to quit. But until then, Daly was free to call for the abolition of the Catholic Church and other “patriarchal religions” in favor of her own “post-Christian” feminist religion. Apparently, teaching students to reject Catholicism entirely is tolerable in a Catholic school, but Catholicism is useful in a pinch when it can be used to shun villains like Rice. “This is the only time these people have cited Pope John Paul II on anything,” the Rev. Paul McNellis, an adjunct professor in the B.C. philosophy department, told the Boston Globe.

And that’s how Catholicism and academic freedom are alike. The Rice controversy is notable because of her stature, but the attitude behind it is ubiquitous. Instead of Catholicism, however, most faculties invoke the hoary doctrine of academic freedom to defend speech they like—but only speech they like. Every week there are stories of left-wing professors clamping down on free speech and inquiry when it’s from a non-leftist perspective.

Last year, a student at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., was kicked out of the school’s education program for arguing that corporal punishment—i.e. spanking and the like—could be useful in classrooms. Subsequently, a professor who supported the student's academic freedom was fired from his position as a faculty advisor to the school paper. A professor at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania was vilified for parodying The Vagina Monologues, and feminist faculty tore down his playbill parodying the left-wing gospel.

When a professor at Columbia University proclaimed that he hoped America suffer from a “million Mogadishus”—referring to the battle made famous by Black Hawk Down—and declared that “the only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military,” he was immediately defended by the left on grounds of academic freedom. When Ward Churchill, that hate-filled hack who looks like a loiterer at a bus station but is actually a professor at the University of Colorado, called victims of 9/11 “little Eichmanns” and sputtered other moral idiocies and intellectual absurdities, he overnight become a poster boy for academic freedom. But when former Harvard President Lawrence Summers suggested in a faculty-only seminar that men and women might have, at the statistical margins, cognitive differences, he was flayed alive and forced to apologize over and over again as he wrote ever-bigger checks to placate the mob denouncing him.

Whether the cudgel is racism, sexism, academic freedom or even Catholicism, the intent is the same: Voices the Left likes are privileged on America’s campuses. Voices the Left dislikes are to be smashed, with whatever tool is available.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Posting two expert declarations in the Agent Orange ATS litigation on international law and corporate liability on SSRN

In 2004-5, I submitted two expert declarations on behalf of defendant corporations in the Agent Orange ATS litigation before Judge Jack B. Weinstein. The declarations covered basic issues of determining the content of international law, customary law, opinio juris, and then laws of war issues related to the use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam war. The declarations then considered issues related to corporate liability in international law, and how it related to ATS cases in US district courts. I have received numerous requests for copies of the declarations, and Carlos Vazquez even referenced one in an article on corporate liability in international law in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, 43 CLMJTL 927 (2005). In order to make the declarations accessible, I have posted them to SSRN, here and here.

In addition to my affidavits, Michael Reisman also submitted one on behalf of the defendant corporations, and I am pleased (and slightly relieved) to report that his conclusions and indeed reasoning almost exactly matched mine although we had no contact in our research or drafting. Jordan Paust and George Fletcher wrote affidavits for the plaintiff Vietnamese individuals and associations. Judge Weinstein issued an opinion in favor of defendants, although the full holding is complicated ( and the opinion some 200 pages long) - here is the link to Westlaw if you have it.

Below is the abstract for the first declaration (the second is a reply largely to Professors Paust and Fletcher):

This 2004 expert declaration was offered on behalf of defendant corporations in Agent Orange litigation heard before Judge Jack Weinstein in 2005 as part of an Alien Tort Statute action by Vietnamese individuals and associations. I have posted it to SSRN because of the numerous requests I have had for it, and as it has been cited in scholarship.

The Declaration starts by offering a basic discussion of the sources of international and in particular customary international law and the meaning and role of opinio juris, and their relation to ATS cases following the Sosa case. It then addresses laws of war issues relevant to the use of Agent Orange in the Viet Nam War - the discussion focuses on the law in the 1960s, but frequently draws comparisons to contemporary law of war. It has a special discussion of proportionality in the law of jus in bello, both then and now. The declaration further offers a detailed discussion of the meaning of poison and poisoned weapon in the context of the Hague Regulations of 1907, the 1925 Geneva Protocol, and the Chemical Weapons Convention, among others.

The Declaration then turns and takes up the question of corporate liability in international law, taking the view that it does not exist, and that ATS cases in US courts have created from whole cloth both civil liability in international law as well as liability for corporate, rather than individual, actors. It does so by analyzing relevant portions of the Nuremberg cases, and concludes by pointing out that although several important international law treaties, including the Statute of the International Criminal Court, have affirmatively considered corporate liability, in fact it has not been created in international law, despite numerous opportunities to do so. This portion of the Declaration has been particularly of interest to scholars examining corporate liability and ATS cases.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Media Development Loan Fund socially responsible investor notes - first SRI instrument listed on major exchange and first SRI derivative instrument

(Update, May 4, 2006: I don't think I made things sufficiently clear in my post below. This MDLF security is a very big deal in the world of international development and nonprofit finance. It is, so far as we're able to tell, the very first time a socially responsible investment financial instrument has been listed for public sale and trading on a major exchange. Further, it is the first time that socially responsible investing has created a publicly traded derivative instrument - the underlying security is a swap note. The ability to market through a leading Swiss private bank directly to its wealthy customers but then to have the guarantee - from the Swiss government no less! - of a secondary market and resale before maturity, makes it a very special financial instrument. These are extraordinary innovations in the world of development finance, international development, microfinance, and the nonprofit capital markets. This is very, very, very, very, very, very cool. See this description of the security, here (reproduced at bottom of post), and an editorial from the Kenya Times, here.)

When not engaged in academic work on international law, my primary pro bono activity is as board chair of the Media Development Loan Fund. MDLF is the world’s largest media assistance organization devoted to helping independent media around the world – i.e., media that devotes a substantial amount of attention to objective news reporting, is not owned by the government, the political parties, or the local mafia – achieve financial independence.

MDLF is a nonprofit venture fund – a private equity fund investing in media in emerging markets and developing democracies with a nonprofit mission. MDLF is a cutting edge organization at the intersection of human rights, international development, and finance.

MDLF starts from the assumption that independent media means financially sustainable, profit-generating, well-run businesses in the private sector – and hence devotes itself to the business, managerial, and financial issues of the media business. It has been in business for ten years, and now has over $25 million invested, mostly in loans but increasingly in equity investments. MDLF supports B92 in Belgrade, El Periodico in Guatemala, internet news projects in Indonesia, the Mail & Guardian in South Africa, Novi List in Croatia, many regional newspapers in Russia, and many other projects around the world. We have traditionally been a very low profile organization, but are starting to raise our visibility level.

(MDLF, I should add, is the most exciting NGO project I’ve ever been involved with in my long career working with NGOs. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere in the world – ferociously devoted to its mission, but also as disciplined as any commercial private equity fund; the most geographically dispersed and genuinely transnational NGO I’ve ever dealt with, with the CEO in Singapore, offices in New York and Prague, the finance department in Warsaw, our development person in Geneva, our public affairs officer in Britain. One of the benefits for me as an academic teaching international business transactions, corporate finance, and private equity, as well as nonprofit organizations, is that it supplies me with a steady stream of financings and complicated transnational private equity transactions that I adapt for my classes – it helps a lot to have a pro bono finance practice, if you teach IBT or private equity. The fact that they are emerging market and developing democracy transactions adds a frisson of political and legal risk that is fun for students – see my last IBT final exam, here. I may as well say it publicly, on a blog mostly devoted to public international law – I like finance! And I think public international law scholarship would benefit if more scholars bridged the public-private law divide, because it seems to me hard to understand the material drivers of public international law arising from economic globalization without understanding international business. There, I’ve said out loud what I’ve been thinking for a long time.)

But here’s the long term funding problem. MDLF started out with funding from George Soros’ Open Society Institute, where once upon a time I served as General Counsel. It has expanded to very significant funding from other foundations, the European aid agencies, and so on. As it has grown, its relative efficiency has grown steadily – administrative costs as a percentage of investments have steadily gone down. The problem is, in absolute terms, we have gradually outgrown the sources of capital available to MDLF in the traditional nonprofit capital markets – i.e., philanthropic sources, even government aid agencies. It might be different if we were able to crack open the World Bank or the regional development banks, but we haven’t so far been able to do that.

MDLF has a significant advantage in having Soros as its strategic business advisor. His advice has consistently been that MDLF needs to grow itself as quickly as possible into a fund large enough to support its administrative expenses through its own revenues. Now, development finance folks will immediately understand that this is the Holy Grail of self-sustainability (I’ve written a little about it, at SSRN here). There is a large debate in the microfinance world over whether this is desirable and whether, for most organizations, it is even possible (short answer, for most organizations, no).

MDLF is different, however – in some respects it resembles microfinance, but in many critical ways, it is different. Unlike the tiny, tiny loans of microfinance, MDLF typically invests hundreds of thousands, often millions of dollars, in a transaction. The investments are in working businesses, often secured by equipment and other collateral (not that one would want to have to enforce those liens in local courts very often!). The economies of scale are simply different from microfinance. MDLF makes subsidized loans and always will. Increasingly, however, it also makes equity investments. Sometimes those equity investments are designed to protect our lending by giving us control stakes through equity. But increasingly the equity investments are designed to allow us to capture a greater amount of the upside on an investment, something that is more in line with the in fact very sizable risks taken – risks which are essentially equity risks even if the investment is a loan.

On the other hand, a feature of emerging markets where we work is that the usual exit strategy of a sale into the public equity markets does not exist, and it turns out that the only real exit strategy is to collect interest on the loans for the long term, i.e., no exit. But we are aiming at capturing sufficient upside, largely in equity investments, to get us ever closer to self-sustainability.

So where to find capital when you outstrip the traditional nonprofit capital markets? Like many other development finance organizations, including microfinance, we are seeking to tap the public capital markets. We have taken two steps in that direction. One is the issuance in the US of investment notes, with the help of the Calvert Fund, that essentially offers a below-market note to the US retail investor (see bottom of this post for links) – Calvert has thoroughly worked out this socially responsible investor product. (See this Roger Alford post on SRIs, at Opinio Juris, here.)

The second step is the subject of the Financial Times article, below. In Europe, working with a socially responsible investor group, ResponsAbility, and a leading Swiss private bank, Vontobel, MDLF has just issued the first listed NGO development finance financial instrument of its kind supporting media development. (See the Vontobel press release, here.) It is a note in which, for each dollar invested, 80 cents pays a safe money market return, and 20 cents goes to MDLF, which pays a small amount of interest on that portion. Vontobel and the Swiss government aid agency undertake to provide a secondary market.

It is essentially a socially responsible investor product, in which investors accept a below-market return. But it is a first in its financial structure, and in the fact that it is marketed in Europe, to (very) wealthy clients of a leading Swiss private bank, rather than to the retail market in the US. MDLF is extraordinarily excited by the possibilities of this note. And my personal congratulations as chair of the MDLF board to everyone at MDLF, ResponsAbility, and the Vontobel bank for all the work and creativity that went into creating this innovation in development finance.

'Social' bond will benefit emerging free press

By Joanna Chung in London
Financial Times

(Published: May 3 2006 03:00
Last updated: May 3 2006 03:00)

A new financial product aimed at promoting independent media in developing countries will be listed on a stock exchange for the first time, Vontobel, a private Swiss bank, said yesterday.

Vontobel has teamed up with social investment specialist ResponsAbility, to create a security that will give investors a fixed-interest return as wellas a "social" return.

It is due to be launched on the Zurich stock exchange on May 18 after subscription starts today. Twenty per cent of the capital raised will be channelled by the New-York based Media Development Loan Fund (MDLF) into loans to independent media outlets that will use the money to buy printing presses and broadcasting equipment.

The group hopes to raise up to SFr20m (€12.8m, $16.1m, £8.8m).

Sasa Vucinic, managing director at MDLF, said: "The listing of a financialproduct that mobilises private investment to support a free press is a truly revolutionary step, not just for media development but for all social causes. It could provide a blueprint for engaging private finance in social projects around the world."

While the offering is relatively small by bond market standards, it comes at a time when innovative financing techniques are increasingly being enlisted to address social, humanitarian and political issues. Microfinance, the business of making tiny loans to individuals in developing countries, is increasingly turning to the international capital markets for funding.

Meanwhile, six developed nations are planning to issue bonds, backed by future aid money, to fund immunisation programmes.

Roger Studer, head of financial markets at Vontobel, said: "More and more investors are asking for such products because it provides another optionin addition to regular donations they might make to such causes."

Vontobel and the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation will ensure secondary trading of the new instrument and investors can resell the bond before maturity if necessary.

"Investors end with a slightly lower yield than a normal bond but there are also social returns," said Mr Studer. Klaus Tischhauser, managing director at responsAbility, said the market for such products was growing.

MDLF was started in 1996 with seed money provided by George Soros, the billionaire financier who has sought to promote open societies in the former Communist bloc and elsewhere. It is active in 13 countries, predominantly in the former Yugoslavia and Russia, but its activities are increasing in Africa and Latin America in particular.


From the press release describing the security:

To mark World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2006, it was announced that a social cause will be listed directly on a major stock exchange for the very first time.

Media Development Loan Fund, a New York non-profit organization providing low-cost financing to independent news media in emerging democracies, has teamed up with Swiss bank Vontobel Group and Zurich-based social investment specialists responsAbility to launch a listed product to support the development of the independent press in developing countries.

"Voncert responsAbility Media Development", which is issued today, will be listed on the Zurich stock exchange. It combines an interest rate market element and an investment in MDLF, providing investors with a financial return as well as a social return. Secondary trading is ensured by Bank Vontobel AG and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) as part of an innovative partnership.

"The listing of a financial product that mobilises private investment to support a free press is a truly revolutionary step ? not just for media development but for all social causes," said Sasa Vucinic, Media Development Loan Fund Managing Director. "It could provide a blueprint for engaging private finance in social projects around the world. Vontobel, responsAbility and the Swiss financial community deserve great credit fortheir vision."

The central element of the Voncert responsAbility Media Development is a loan at 1% to MDLF. Vontobel merged this loan into a structured interest product (VT Swap Note Open End CHF, five years). The resulting product corresponds to a bond investment with a social component. In collaboration with SDC, Bank Vontobel AG ensures that the investment in MDLF is tradable at all times and that investors can resell the product before maturity if necessary. This allows investors to invest in independent media at moderate risk via a conventional investment form.

MDLF financing enables leading journalists to play a key role in developing democratic societies by helping them build self-sustaining news businesses. Loans are typically used to buy printing presses, new TV and radiotransmitters and broadcasting equipment, helping independent news outlets reach more people, generate more revenue and stay clear of government monopolies. MDLF financing is often the only way an independent media company can access the capital it needs to strengthen and grow while staying free from state control or vested interests.

Funds raised will be allocated to a revolving loan pool that recycles repayments, enabling them to be used over and over to support independent news media around the world. MDLF supports each loan with intensivefinancial monitoring, management training and technology assistance. In its 10-year history, MDLF has provided almost $50 million in affordable financing to more than 50 media companies in 17 countries, with loan losses of only 3.1 percent. It has a current portfolio of approximately US$30 million.

"The needs are immense," said Mr. Vucinic. "More than 80 percent of people live in countries without a free press. In other words, more than 5 billion people can't trust what they read in the newspaper, hear on the radio or see on TV, and do not really know what is happening in their own country."

The Voncert responsAbility Media Development follows the launch in December 2005 by MDLF of Free Press Investment Notes, the world's first investment product to support independent media in emerging democracies. Individuals and corporations in more than 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia can buy Free Press Investment Notes, which enable buyers to invest for a specific term ? of between 1 and 10 years ? and receive agreed financial returns, ranging from 1 percent to 3 percent.

Media Development Loan Fund

MDLF, founded in 1995, pioneered a new model of media support, focused ondeveloping self-sustainable independent media outlets. From 1996 to March2006, through its loan and investment program, MDLF has:

· financed over 120 projects, for 53 independent media companies, in 17countries· provided $48.5 million in low-cost financing

· collected $17.9 million in principal repayments

· collected $4.25 million in interest and dividends

· written off as losses only 3.1% of the total loaned and invested

· ended March 2006 with a $29.1 million portfolio of loans andinvestments

Vontobel Group

Founded in 1924, the Vontobel Group is an internationally-oriented Swiss private bank and is headquartered in Zurich. Vontobel specializes in asset management for sophisticated private and institutional clients, as well aspartners. It serves its clients via three business units: Private Banking, Investment Banking and Asset Management & Investment Funds. Vontobel Group is a leading player in derivative and structured products in Switzerland and has a proven history in packaging clients needs in investable securities. As at December 31, 2005, the Group reported CHF 57.6 bn of client assets and managed CHF 31.3 bn of custody assets. It employs 917 staff worldwide. Vontobel's registered shares (VONN) are listed in Switzerland on the SWX Swiss Exchange. The Vontobel family and the Vontobel Foundation hold the majority of shares and votes in the company.


responsAbility is a Zurich-based social investment services provider specializing in developing countries. The outcome of a private initiative begun in 2003, responsAbility is backed by its founding institutions and/orshareholders, including representatives of the Swiss financial market (Baumann & Cie., Credit Suisse, the Raiffeisen Group, Swiss Re and the Vontobel Group) in addition to Andromeda Fund and George Avenue, social venture capital funds.

Inquiries to:

United States: Harlan M. Mandel, MDLF Deputy Managing Director. Phone: (1)917 294 5444, (212) 807 1304. Email

Europe: Peter Whitehead, MDLF Director of Communications. Phone: (44)(0)7763 175 332. Email 37 West 20th Street, Suite 801, New York, NY 10011 Phone: (212) 8071304 Fax: (212) 807 0540

Czech Republic Na vinicnich horach 24, 160 00 Prague 6 Phone: (4202) 2431 28 32 Fax: (4202) 24 31 54 19e-mail:

[The above described notes are available only in Switzerland. US investors in many US states wanting to support MDLF's work can instead invest in MDLF's Free Press Investment Notes, issued with the assistance of the socially responsible investor group, the Calvert Fund - go to for more information.]