You are browsing the archive for 2019 April 03.

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The Outdated Alliance?

April 3, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

WWhen NATO was formed seven decades ago, the world was very
different: The Soviet Union had advanced into Central Europe, and
Western European nations were still recovering from World War II.
NATO would help them, Secretary of State Dean Acheson warned, but
it would not do so forever. When asked if the United States would
need “to send substantial numbers of troops over there as a
more or less permanent contribution,” he assured Congress
that it wouldn’t. Even Dwight Eisenhower, NATO’s first
commander and a future U.S. president, presciently warned that such
an American garrison could “discourage the development of the
necessary military strength Western European countries should
provide themselves.”

The Europeans eventually did recover but, as predicted, lagged
in defense. The United States has for decades demanded that
European countries spend more on defense—and they agree, only
to inevitably fall short. The process endlessly repeats, teaching
each generation of European leaders that no matter how little they
do, Washington will defend the continent.

On NATO’s 70th
anniversary, it is time for burden shedding-not burden
sharing.

The dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the collapse of the
Soviet Union in 1991 put NATO’s survival in doubt. To give
the organization a new raison d’être, officials suggested a
plethora of improbable new duties. For
instance, Robert Zoellick, then-counselor to Secretary of State
James Baker, argued that it was necessary to “transform
established institutions, such as NATO, to serve new missions that
will fit the new era.” David Abshire, who had been the U.S.
ambassador to NATO under President Ronald Reagan, suggested that
the alliance “could coordinate the transfer of
environmental-control technology to the East.”

Curious work for a military alliance.

NATO decided to stay relevant in two ways. First, it opted to
expand its membership to countries formerly in the Soviet orbit.
Second, it opted to undertake activities in nonmember nations. The
former violated assurances that NATO had given Moscow in 1990 and
1991, fomenting Russian hostility. The latter transformed NATO into
an offensive force, most notably during its mission in Serbia in
1999. Nevertheless, as U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar argued at the time, the choice was simple. The
alliance would “go out of area or out of business.”

This process continues. Alliance solidarity led Europe into a
protracted war in Afghanistan and the United States into a
conflagration in Libya, even though neither conflict served the
other allies’ interests. Expansion grows ever more far-fetched,
with the alliance most recently adding Montenegro and North
Macedonia, small states that face no obvious threat and can make no
serious contribution to Europe’s defense. Against significant
European opposition, moreover, the United States even …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Why Ancient Rome Needed Immigrants to Become Powerful

April 3, 2019 in History

By Barry Strauss

How “Roman” was the Roman Empire? Well, by some measures: not very.

As the Roman emperors sought to expand and strengthen their empire, they recognized that immigration was a means for both. Although the Roman elites sneered at immigrants, the emperors welcomed them into the labor force and military, keenly understanding that for the empire to grow and thrive it had to have new blood. Not only was the populace changing but the emperors themselves came from diverse backgrounds, from Spain to Syria.

Their legions contained ever fewer Italians, let alone Romans. Rome became a melting pot, in many ways as much a Greek city as a Latin one, and with African, Celtic, Egyptian, German and Jewish populations as well. But not everyone was pleased with the emperors’ approach to immigration.

READ MORE: Julius Caesar’s Forgotten Assassin

Writing in the late first century AD, for example, the poet Juvenal invents a character who can’t bear how Greek the city of Rome had become, what with its Greek-speaking population and their customs. He complains in frustration, “For a long time now the Syrian River Orontes has flowed down into the Tiber.” For that matter, some Greeks were equally xenophobic, like the Greek satirist Lucian (second century AD), who scorned coarse Roman patrons. But snobbery could not stem the tide of change.

An ancient Roman military parade. Immigrants comprised much of the Roman army.

Between roughly 300 BC and AD 200, millions of immigrants came to Italy. Most arrived in chains, as slaves, the victims of Rome’s wars of expansion or of piracy. But others came of their own free will, either to seek their fortune or to lose themselves in the anonymity of a big city; with a population of about a million, Rome was the largest city in Europe or the Mediterranean. In this cosmopolitan place, people of various backgrounds and skill sets saw opportunities abounding.

The emperors embraced the newcomers, less out of idealism than out of self-interest. Rome had conquered most of its empire under the Republic (509-31 BC). In those days, a narrow elite drawn from a few noble families in the city of Rome governed the empire and considered most of its millions of inhabitants as subjects to be exploited. That was not sustainable, and the Caesars knew it. They came to power with the support of people from outside the old elite, primarily …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Human Progress Saved My Baby, and Will Save Many More

April 3, 2019 in Economics

By Chelsea Follett

Chelsea Follett

“Her heart rate is decelerating with each
contraction,” explained the doctor to my husband and me, a
grave expression on her face, “and we just saw a major
deceleration.” We were rushed into the surgery room for an
emergency cesarean section, and just minutes later, we met our
first child.

She was alive, beautiful, and screaming her lungs out.

After the C-section, we learned the reason for the heartrate
decelerations: her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, like
a noose, four times. We were told the hospital’s record was
five. The technical term for her condition was “quadruple
nuchal cord.” Were it not for the emergency C-section, she
almost certainly would have asphyxiated during delivery and been
stillborn.

No mother, anywhere in
the world, should ever have to lose a child — and thanks to
the global decline of poverty and spread of medical technology,
fewer do.

The specifics of my daughter’s situation may have been
unusual, but her survival is an example of a broader trend. Thanks
to medical advances, the global rate of stillbirth per 1,000 births
has fallen from 24 in the year 2000 to 18 in 2015,
with decreases seen in all regions of the world. In my
daughter’s case, for example, those advances included
external monitoring of the fetal heart rate during labor and a
cesarean delivery.

Not only has there been progress in reducing stillbirths, but
more and more children survive to see their first birthday. The
global infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births fell from 65 in
1990 to less than 30 in 2017, according the World Bank.

Access to stillbirth-preventing technology, as well as
improvements in nutrition and sanitation that decrease infant
mortality, are made easier by the spread of economic development
around the world. The greatest improvements in infant health have
taken place in developing countries as poverty declines and
standards of living rise.

To understand just how important prosperity is, consider the
difference between falling stillbirth rates, which depend on the
latest and thus very expensive technology, and falling infant death
rates, which are connected to overall economic improvements in
developing countries. 

Poor countries suffer far more stillbirths than rich countries,
both in absolute terms and adjusted for population, although the
rate is decreasing in both. Using data spanning 1990 to 2010,
researchers have estimated that more than
40 percent of global stillbirths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, the
world’s poorest region. In fact, 98 percent of the
world’s stillbirths occur in low-income and middle-income
countries. Less than 2 percent occur in developed regions.

In contrast, when it comes to infant mortality rates,
sub-Saharan Africa and other poor areas of the world …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Moscow Snuffs out Religious Liberty in Eastern Ukraine

April 3, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

No surprise, the Soviet Union was one of the great religious
persecutors. There is nothing more fearsome to totalitarian
dictatorships than being challenged by those claiming loyalty to a
transcendent realm that lies well beyond the political one.

The collapse of the Bolshevik state freed the Russian people to
worship as they felt led by God. Russia, the largest successor
state, suffered a huge spiritual and moral vacuum and drew in
once-banned evangelizing faiths. Alas, that set up a clash with the
Orthodox Church, which acted for many — including, it seems,
Russian president Vladimir Putin — in claiming to embody
Mother Russia.

That has led to an increasingly repressive campaign against
smaller, more-vulnerable sects, which grow through proselytizing.
Russia has effectively banned Jehovah’s Witnesses —
arresting, imprisoning, and torturing scores of believers and
confiscating hundreds of millions of dollars in church property.
Mormons as well have recently been arrested (though deported rather
than imprisoned).

Although religious
liberty cannot drive American foreign policy, U.S. officials should
promote fundamental human freedoms when practical. Now is such a
time.

However, persecution merged with politics even more brutally in
eastern Ukraine, where Moscow backed local separatists. The U.S.
Commission on International Religious Freedom rated Russia a tier-1
persecutor, warranting treatment as a “country of particular
concern.” Reported the USCIRF: “Russia represents a
unique case,” being “the sole state to have not only
continually intensified its repression of religious freedom since
the USCIRF commenced monitoring it, but also to have expanded its
repressive policies to the territory of a neighboring state, by
means of military invasion and occupation. Those policies, ranging
from administrative harassment to arbitrary imprisonment to
extrajudicial killing, are implemented in a fashion that is
systematic, ongoing, and egregious.”

Many have suffered, in Russia generally, in Chechnya and
Dagestan, and in Crimea. The USCIRF explained that “the
Russian government views independent religious activity as a major
threat to social and political stability, an approach inherited
from the Soviet period.” Groups must register; the government
can regulate their activities; at the instigation of the Orthodox
Church, the state treats blasphemy as a crime; evangelism and
worship by disfavored groups are treated as extremism and
terrorism; and “religious groups not affiliated with
state-controlled organizations are treated with suspicion.”
The government, now nationalist rather than Communist, treats the
Orthodox Church as a de facto state church.

Moreover, the USCIRF noted, “in Russian-occupied
para-states of eastern Ukraine, religious freedom is at the whim of
armed militias not beholden to any legal authority.” As war
zones, the “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and
Luhansk “remain heavily militarized war zones policed by
parallel ‘Ministries of State Security.’”
Unsurprisingly, “basic human rights, including freedom of
religious belief, are under …read more

Source: OP-EDS