Thursday, June 30, 2005

Anne Applebaum on the sociology of international pro-Americanism

Norman Geras points to an interesting article by Anne Applebaum that surveys, and speculates about, social patterns in the distribution of pro- and anti-American sentiments in various societies around the world. None of this amounts to hard evidence or firm conclusions (especially since most of the data come from public-opinion polls), but a number of these patterns are usefully thought-provoking. The apparent importance of generational factors is not surprising, but some of the class and gender patterns (for example) may be worth pondering further.

Incidentally, Geras mentions some of the more interesting tidbits from Applebaum's article, but not all. One very intriguing point that I have noticed lately, which Applebaum brings out, has to do with India. According to public-opinion polls, India has one of the most pro-American populations in the world. Interesting, if true....

--Jeff Weintraub

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Norman Geras (Normblog)
June 29, 2005

Liking America

There's an interesting article by Anne Applebaum in the latest issue of Foreign Policy, in which she looks at who the pro-Americans are around the world. It's a long piece, and these are merely a few titbits:

When people older than 60 are surveyed, 63.5 percent of Britons, 59.6 percent of Italians, 50.2 percent of Australians, and 46.8 percent of Canadians feel that the United States is a "mainly positive" influence on the world.
.....
In Britain... it is absolutely clear that the greatest support for the United States comes from people in the lowest income brackets, and those with the least amount of formal education... 57.6 percent of those whose income is very low believe the United States has a mainly positive influence. Only 37.1 percent of those whose income is very high, by contrast, believe the same.
.....
There is... one other factor that is associated almost everywhere in the world with pro–Americanism: In Europe, Asia, and South America, men are far more likely than women to have positive feelings about the United States.
Make of it what you will. (Thanks: Inna.)

Posted by Norm at 11:02 PM | Permalink


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Foreign Policy
July/August 2005

In Search of Pro-Americanism

By Anne Applebaum

There has never been a more popular time to be anti–American. From Beijing to Berlin, from Sydney to São Paulo, America’s detractors have become legion. But not everyone has chosen to get on the anti–American bandwagon. Where—and among whom—is America still admired, and why? Meet the pro–Americans.

I was in London on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001, a day when strangers in shops, hearing my American accent, offered their cell phones in case I wanted to call home. That evening, parties were cancelled. The next day, political events were called off. An American friend who lives in London received a condolence card from his neighbors, whom he’d never met—and he was not alone. Overwhelmingly, the first British reaction to the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York was deeply sympathetic, and profoundly pro–American.

But so were the reactions of many others, across Europe and around the world. Several days after September 11, I left London and returned to Poland, where I was then living. That evening I attended a concert in a provincial city. In the foyer of the symphony hall, someone had put up a large American flag and surrounded it with candles. At the start of the concert, the conductor announced that there would be a change: Instead of the planned program, the orchestra would play only Mozart’s Requiem, in honor of the 9/11 victims. These decisions were completely spontaneous and utterly apolitical: No one had reason to think that there would be even a single American in the audience. Within a few days, of course, a second reaction had set in. In London, a television studio audience attacked the former American ambassador on the air, accusing the United States of provoking international hatred and therefore bearing responsibility for the attacks. The New Statesman, an influential British left–wing magazine, ran a cover story, saying more or less the same thing. “American bond traders, you may say, are as innocent and undeserving of terror as Vietnamese or Iraqi peasants,” the editors wrote. “Well, yes and no.... If America seems a greedy and overweening power, that is partly because its people have willed it. They preferred George Bush to both Al Gore and Ralph Nader.” Elsewhere in Europe, then French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin had already urged the United States to be “reasonable in its response,” and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder took it upon himself to remind the United States that “we are not at war.”

Since then, that initial trickle of post–9/11 anti–Americanism has grown to a flood. A Pew Research Center poll released in March 2004, showed that 62 percent of French, 59 percent of Germans, and 34 percent of Britons had a “very” or “somewhat” unfavorable opinion of the United States. In January 2005, a poll published by the BBC showed that 54 percent of French, 64 percent of Germans, and 50 percent of Britons consider the United States a “negative influence” in the world. These numbers and others like them have spawned a mini–industry. Front–page news stories, television documentaries, and entire books have been devoted to the phenomenon of anti–Americanism, and there is no sign that interest is flagging. Earlier this year, Newsweek International once again put the subject on its cover, under the headline “America Leads ... But Is Anyone Following?”

Given all of the attention that has been lavished upon anti–Americanism in the past four years, however, it is surprising how little analysis has been applied to that first, spontaneous pro–American reaction to 9/11, and to pro–Americanism in general. After all, the population of some countries continues to show approval of the United States, of the American president, and of U.S. foreign policy, even now. Even the most damning evidence, such as the BBC poll quoted above, also reveals that some percentage of the population of even the most anti–American countries in Europe and Latin America remains pro–American. Some 38 percent of the French, 27 percent of Germans, 40 percent of Chinese, and 42 percent of Brazilians remain convinced that the United States exerts a “positive influence on the world.” Who are they?

America’s Best Behavior
Anecdotally, it isn’t hard to come up with examples of famous pro–Americans, even on the generally anti–American continents of Europe and Latin America. There are political reformers such as Vaclav Havel, who has spoken of how the U.S. Declaration of Independence inspired his own country’s founding fathers. There are economic reformers such as José Piñera, the man who created the Chilean pension system, who admire American economic liberty. There are thinkers, such as the Iraqi intellectual Kanan Makiya, who openly identify the United States with the spread of political freedom. At a recent event in his honor in Washington, Makiya publicly thanked the Americans who had helped his country defeat Saddam Hussein. (He received applause, which was made notably warmer by the palpable sense of relief: At least someone over there likes us.) All of these are people with very clear, liberal, democratic philosophies, people who either identify part of their ideology as somehow “American,” or who are grateful for American support at some point in their countries’ history.

There are also countries that contain not only individuals but whole groups of people with similar ideological or nostalgic attachments to the United States. I am thinking here of British Thatcherites—from whom Prime Minister Tony Blair is in some sense descended—and of former associates of the Polish Solidarity movement. Although Lady Thatcher (who was herself stridently pro–American) is no longer in office, her political heirs, and those who associate her with positive economic and political changes in Britain, are still likely to think well of the United States. Their influence is reflected in the fact that the British, on the whole, are more likely to think positively of the United States than other Europeans. Polish anticommunists, who still remember the support that President Ronald Reagan gave their movement in the 1980s, have the same impact in their country, which remains more pro–American than even the rest of Central Europe.

In some countries, even larger chunks of the population have such associations. In the Philippines, for example, the BBC poll shows that 88 percent of the population has a “mainly positive” view of the United States, an unusually high number anywhere. In India, that number is 54 percent, and in South Africa, it’s 56 percent, particularly high numbers for the developing world. In the case of the first two countries, geopolitics could be part of the explanation: India and the Philippines are both fighting Islamist terrorist insurgencies, and they see the United States as an ally in their struggles. (Perhaps for this reason, both of these countries are also among the few who perceived the reelection of U.S. President George W. Bush as “mainly positive” for the world as well.) But it is also true that all three of these countries have experienced, in the last 20 years, political or economic change that has made them richer, freer, or both. And in all three cases, it’s clear that people would have reasons to associate new prosperity and new freedom with the actions of the United States.

These associations are not just vague, general sentiments either. New polling data from the international polling firm GlobeScan and the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland break down pro– and anti–American sentiments by age, income, and gender. Looking closely at notably pro–American countries, it emerges that this pro–Americanism can sometimes be extraordinarily concrete. It turns out, for example, that in Poland, which is generally pro–American, people between the ages of 30 and 44 years old are even more likely to support America than their compatriots. In that age group, 58.5 percent say they feel the United States has a “mainly positive” influence in the world. But perhaps that is not surprising: This is the group whose lives would have been most directly affected by the experience of the Solidarity movement and martial law—events that occurred when they were in their teens and 20s—and they would have the clearest memories of American support for the Polish underground movement.

Younger Poles, by contrast, show significantly less support: In the 15–29–year–old group, only 45.3 percent say they feel the United States has a “mainly positive” influence in the world—a drop of more than 13 percent. But perhaps that is not surprising either. This generation has only narrow memories of communism, and no recollection of Reagan’s support for Solidarity. The United States, to them, is best known as a country for which it is difficult to get visas—and younger Poles have a very high refusal rate. Now that Poland is a member of the European Union, by contrast, they have greater opportunities to travel and study in Europe, where they no longer need visas at all. In their growing skepticism of the United States, young Poles may also be starting to follow the more general European pattern.

Looking at age patterns in other generally anti–American countries can be equally revealing. In Canada, Britain, Italy, and Australia, for example, all countries with generally high or very high anti–American sentiments, people older than 60 have relatively much more positive feelings about the United States than their children and grandchildren. When people older than 60 are surveyed, 63.5 percent of Britons, 59.6 percent of Italians, 50.2 percent of Australians, and 46.8 percent of Canadians feel that the United States is a “mainly positive” influence on the world. For those between the ages of 15 and 29, the numbers are far lower: 31.9 percent (Britain), 37.4 percent (Italy), 27 percent (Australia), and 19.9 percent (Canada). Again, that isn’t surprising: All of these countries had positive experiences of American cooperation during or after the Second World War. The British of that generation have direct memories, or share their parents’ memories, of Winston Churchill’s meetings with Franklin Roosevelt; the Canadians and Australians fought alongside American G.I.s; and many Italians remember that those same G.I.s evicted the Nazis from their country, too.

These differences in age groups are significant, not only in themselves, but because they carry a basic but easily forgotten lesson for American foreign policymakers: At least some of the time, U.S. foreign policy has a direct impact on foreigners’ perceptions of the United States. That may sound like a rather obvious principle, but in recent years it has frequently been questioned. Because anti–Americanism is so often described as if it were mere fashion, or some sort of unavoidable, contagious virus, some commentators have made it seem as if the phenomenon bore no relationship whatsoever to the United States’ actions abroad. But America’s behavior overseas, whether support for anticommunist movements or visa policy, does matter. Here, looking at the problem from the opposite perspective is proof: People feel more positive about the United States when their personal experience leads them to feel more positive.

An Inspiration—to Some
Direct political experience is not, however, the only factor that shapes foreigners’ perceptions of the United States. Around the world, there are millions of people who associate the United States not merely with a concrete political ideal, or even a particular economic theory, but with more general notions of upward mobility, of economic progress, and of a classless society (not all of which exist in the United States anymore, but that’s another matter). Advertising executives understand very well the phenomenon of ordinary women who read magazines filled with photographs of clothes they could not possibly afford. They call such women “aspirational.” Looking around the world, there are classes of people who are “aspirational” as well. And these aspirational classes, filled with people who are upwardly mobile or would like to be, tend to be pro–American as well.

Looking again at some relatively anti–American countries is instructional. In Britain, for example, it is absolutely clear that the greatest support for the United States comes from people in the lowest income brackets, and those with the least amount of formal education. In Britain, 57.6 percent of those whose income is very low believe the United States has a mainly positive influence. Only 37.1 percent of those whose income is very high, by contrast, believe the same. Asking the same question, but breaking down the answers by education, the same pattern holds in South Korea, where 69.2 percent of those with a low education think the United States is a positive influence, and only 45.8 percent of those with a high education agree. That trend repeats itself in many developed countries: those on their way up are pro–American, and those who have arrived are much less so.

In developing countries, by contrast, the pattern is sometimes reversed. It turns out, for example, that Indians are much more likely to be pro–American if they are not only younger but wealthier and better educated. And that too makes sense: Younger Indians have had the experience of working with American companies and American investors, whereas their parents did not. Only in recent decades have Indians been full members of the international economy, and only in recent years was India fully open to foreign investment. The poor in India are still untouched by globalization, but the middle and upper–middle classes—those who see for themselves a role in the English speaking, America–dominated international economy—are aspirational, and therefore pro–American. In fact, some 69 percent of Indians with very high incomes think the United States is a mainly positive influence; 43.2 percent of those with average incomes feel that way; and only 29.6 percent of those with very low incomes are likely to think of American influence as positive.

Taking a slightly different tack, it is possible to identify countries in which the country as a whole could be described as aspirational, rather than one particular class. Here it is worth looking at Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Again, none of these countries can be described as overwhelmingly pro–American as can, for example, the Philippines. Spain in particular has registered very high opposition to the American war in Iraq and even overturned a government on those grounds. But these countries are slightly different from others in Europe, not only because, unlike France and Germany, they follow the Canadian and British pattern—the less educated and the least wealthy are relatively pro–American—but also because all three have, at some point in the past several years, elected notably pro–American leaders. Former Prime Ministers José María Aznar in Spain and Pedro Santana Lopes in Portugal as well as current Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Italy made close relations with the United States a central part of their foreign policies, and all three sent troops to fight in Iraq.

True, their support for the United States following 9/11 is more directly explained by European politics: Like Britain and Denmark, the three southern European countries dislike the increasing Franco–German dominance of Europe, and see the American presence in Europe as an important counterweight. But it is also the case that Italy, Spain, and Portugal are Europe’s nouveau riche: All have grown wealthier in the past generation, and all still have large numbers of “upwardly mobile” citizens. That too might help explain their politicians’ fondness for the United States, a country that is, by older European standards, a true arriviste. This same phenomenon might also account for the persistence of a surprising degree of popular pro–Americanism in such places as Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil, and, again, the Philippines: They’re getting richer—like Americans—but aren’t yet so rich as to feel directly competitive.

Portrait of a Pro–American Man
There is, finally, one other factor that is associated almost everywhere in the world with pro–Americanism: In Europe, Asia, and South America, men are far more likely than women to have positive feelings about the United States. In some cases, the numbers are quite striking. Asking men and women how they feel about the United States produces an 11 percent gender gap in India, a 17 percent gender gap in Poland, and even a 6 percent gap in the Philippines. This pattern probably requires more psychological analysis than I can muster, but it’s possible to guess at some explanations. Perhaps the United States is associated with armies and invasions, which historically appeal more to men. Perhaps it is because the United States is also associated with muscular foreign policy, and fewer women around the world are involved in, or interested in, foreign policy at all. Perhaps it’s because men are more attracted to the idea of power, entrepreneurship, or capitalism. Or it may just be that the United States appeals to men in greater numbers for the same intuitive reasons that President George W. Bush appeals to men in greater numbers, whatever those are.

Although not as surprising as some of the other numbers, this gender gap does help us come up with a clearer picture of who the typical pro–American might be. We all know the stereotypes of the anti–Americans: The angry Arab radical, demonstrating in the mythical Arab street; or the left–wing newspaper editor, fulminating at Berlin dinner parties; or the French farmer, railing against McDonald’s. Now, perhaps, we should add new stereotypes: The British small businessman, son of a coal miner, who once admired Thatcher and has been to Florida on holiday. Or the Polish anticommunist intellectual, who argued about Reagan with his Parisian friends in the 1980s, and disagrees with them about the Iraqi war now. Or the Indian stockbroker, the South Korean investment banker, and the Philippine manufacturer, all of whom have excellent relations with their American clients, all of whom support a U.S. military presence in their parts of the world, and all of whom probably harbor a fondness for President Bush that they wouldn’t confess to their wives. These stock figures should be as firmly a part of the columnists’ and commentators’ repertoire as their opponents have become.

They also matter, or should matter, to the United States. These people, and their equivalents in other countries, are America’s natural constituents. They may not be a majority, either in the world or in their own countries. But neither are they insignificant. After all, pro–Americans will vote for pro–American politicians, who sometimes win, even in Europe. They can exert pressure on their governments to support U.S. foreign policy. They will also purchase American products, make deals with American companies, vacation in the United States, and watch American movies.

They are worth cultivating, in other words, because their numbers can rise or fall, depending on U.S. policies. Their opinions will change, according to how American ambassadors conduct business in their countries, according to how often the U.S. secretary of state visits their cities, and according to how their media report on American affairs. Before the United States brushes away Europe as hopelessly anti–American, Americans should therefore remember that not all Europeans dislike them. Before Americans brush off the opinion of “foreigners” as unworthy of cultivation either, they should remember that whole chunks of the world have a natural affinity for them and, if they are diligent, always will.


Anne Applebaum is a columnist and member of the editorial board of the Washington Post.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Howard Dean on Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories

(by Jeff Weintraub)

(Guest-posted on the weblog of Norman Geras - Normblog)

A statement issued last week by Howard Dean, former presidential candidate and current Chairman of the National Democratic Committee, is especially useful and pertinent right now. It is an unambiguous declaration that attempts to blame the Iraq war on the Jews - whether in crudely direct ways or in more indirect and convoluted versions - are anti-semitic garbage and ought to be condemned as such:
Yesterday members of the Judiciary Committee held an important hearing on the so-called Downing Street Memo and its implications. Unfortunately, some members of the audience took it upon themselves to distribute anti-Semitic literature at the Wasserman Conference room where an overflow crowd observed the proceedings on television. We disavow the anti-Semitic literature, and the Democratic National Committee stands in absolute disagreement with and condemns the allegations.

As Americans we believe in the right to free speech, and as Democrats we open our doors to a variety of opinions and perspectives from our fellow Americans... But anti-Semitism and bigotry are unacceptable and un-American, and they have no place in civil political discourse. As for any inferences that the United States went to war so Israel could 'dominate' the Middle East or that Israel was in any way behind the horrific September 11th attacks on America, let me say unequivocally that such statements are nothing but vile, anti-Semitic rhetoric. The inferences are destructive and counter productive, and have taken away from the true purpose of the Judiciary Committee Members' meeting.

(See also here.) All this might seem almost too obvious to be worth emphasizing - except that these kinds of Jewish-conspiracy theories about the Iraq war, in multiple versions that range from crude to convoluted, are not restricted to lunatic-fringe sectarians. The unfortunate reality is that they are not uncommon in mainstream discourse in some west European circles. And, of course, they are widely propounded and believed (or at least taken seriously) in much of the rest of the world.

We are living through an era of resurgent anti-semitism (sometimes disguised as, or shading off into, hysterical 'anti-Zionism') in much of the world. If only for this reason, people who opposed the Iraq war (and especially those who oppose continued US involvement in Iraq now) have a special responsibility to repudiate and condemn these Jewish-conspiracy theories about it - just as supporters of the anti-Taliban war in Afghanistan, for example, had a special responsibility to repudiate any efforts to link it to anti-Muslim bigotry. Let Howard Dean serve as an example. (Jeff Weintraub)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bogus "Non-Taxpayers" Figures

Dear Andrew Sullivan,

Nathan Newman's point here is correct. Any statistic about "income taxes" that excludes payroll taxes is inherently bogus.

(Didn't we go through all this already, at the time of the ludicrous Wall Street Journal complaints about low-income "lucky duckies" who didn't pay federal income tax? You're smarter than that.)

Yes, there is a technical distinction between federal "income taxes" and "payroll taxes"--a distinction which Republicans exploit for class-war purposes, since rich people pay relatively more of the first and relatively less of the second. But this is a propaganda sleight-of-hand. "Payroll taxes" are federal taxes levied on income, which is what most people mean by "income taxes" in everyday speech. These are really two kinds of income tax.

(Ever since 2000, the well-known left-wing radical John McCain has suggested that federal tax cuts should include payroll tax cuts, and should focus less exclusively on the kinds of taxes that are predominantly paid by the wealthy. Oddly enough, his suggestions have been ignored--not argued against or refuted, but ignored. If one had a cynical cast of mind, one might suspect there is a pattern here.)

If we include payroll taxes, the main shrinkage in tax liability has been up at the higher end of the income distribution.

Yours for reality-based discourse,
Jeff Weintraub

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NathanNewman.org
June 20, 2005

Bogus "Non-Taxpayers" Figures

A number of conservative bloggers are upset with numbers from the Tax Foundation which shows upwards to 40% of Americans are in families not paying income tax. It's ironic they are upset about this, since some of the increase is due to the only decent part of Bush's tax cuts, namely the tax credits for children.

But what is deceptive about the numbers is that many of these "non-taxpayers" are paying quite hefty payroll taxes. A few of the very poorest working families have Earned Income Tax Credits that cancel out their income tax obligations, but that is a far smaller number than the Tax Foundation's worries about those "outside the income tax system."

It's funny-- where is their report about those living off of capital gains and dividends who are scarily "outside the payroll tax" system?

But their political point should worry conservatives, if not the general population:

Are any future tax cuts, or even tax reforms, possible when the lion’s share of the tax burden is increasingly borne by a shrinking pool of taxpayers who – at least on paper – appear to be "upper-income"? And will the expanding pool of non-payers demand even higher income taxes? These are questions lawmakers must begin to debate.
As they say, that's a feature of the Bush tax cuts, not a bug.

Posted by Nathan at June 20, 2005 05:12 PM

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Weber on social action, rationality, & political ethics

PoliSci 298-910 / Soc 230-910
Social & Political Theory
Summer Session I, 2005
Jeff Weintraub & Joseph Soares

HANDOUT #15: Reading Weber - "Types of Social Action"

Here Weber presents a classification of four ideal-typical orientations toward social action. Even though he disclaims any intention of formulating "an exhaustive classification of types," this scheme nonetheless does have the appearance of analytical exhaustiveness. Remember that this is a set of pure types--more coherent and internally consistent than one is likely to find in reality--which Weber thinks can be used to organize and clarify the analysis of social action. Although actual human action will always involve some mixture of these orienta­tions, Weber's point is that social action can be analytically broken down into four distinct models, and that these models or "ideal types" can be used to characterize the basic thrust of any particular social action. In other words, these are not simple descriptions of acts or patterns of action; one might say that they identify four poles toward which action can tend, more or less.

"Traditional and "affectual" (emotional) social action are important but perhaps conceptually less problematic than the other two. A more difficult, but essential, distinction in Weber's typology is the distinction between instrumental rationality (Zweckrationalität) and value-rationality (Wertrational­ität). If you can grasp what Weber is getting at in this distinction, many of his writings on bureaucracy, authority, politics, and meaning will become clearer.

Since both these types of rational action involve value choices, what is the basis for the distinction between them? Part of the answer is captured in a comment by Talcott Parsons, the theorist who almost single-handedly introduced American sociologists to Weber. Parsons offers the following in­ter­preta­tion of the fundamental distinction between instrumentally rational and value-rational action:
One type or level of rationality concerns maximizing results at minimum cost-this is what Weber meant by Zweckrationalität.... The other type of rationality, concerning the expression in action of types of ultimate meaning, is what Weber meant by Wertrationalität....
(in Parsons, ed., Theories of Society, p. 970)
In other words, the distinction rests on two different kinds of ends toward which rational action can be oriented. The former type of rationality is instrumental, i.e., concerned merely with practical results. The latter type of rationality is expressive, i.e., concerned with the real­ization of symbolic meaning in the activity itself.

This distinction often seems to be combined with, or to shade off into, a different one. Weber often seems to conceive the Wert vs. Zweck distinction as involving a dis­tinction between action oriented toward a single end vs. action oriented toward multiple ends. With pure value-rational action, the ultimate end or expressive meaning guiding the activity is absolutely fixed. There can be no compromises or cost-accounting, no rational weighing of one end against another. But in
... the case of Zweckrationalität ... Weber conceives action as motivated by a plurality of relatively independent ends, none of which is absolute. Hence, rationality involves on the one hand the weighing of the relative importance of their realization, on the other hand, consider­ation of whether undesirable consequences would outweigh the benefits to be derived from the projected course of action.
(Parsons on p. 115 of The Theory of Social and Economic Organiza­tion, his translation of the first part of Weber's Economy and Society)
You might ask yourself why Weber would want to slide these two distinctions together and combine them into one, i.e.:

Wertrationalität
· ends of action defined in terms of the values inherent in the action itself, or adherence to a code of conduct
· action oriented toward a single absolute end (or a small number of such ends)

Zweckrationalität
· ends of action defined in terms of practical results
· action oriented toward a multiplicity of ends, which have to be weighed against each other (including consideration of unintended consequences)

By implication, there is another important element involved in the distinction between Wertrationalität and Zweckrationalität. Both types of action are rational, and conse­quent­ly involve the "conscious, continuous, systematic effort to adjust action to explicit ends" (Weintraub). Nonetheless, the relationship between means and ends is not precisely the same for Zweckrationalität and Wertrationalität. Instrumental rationality does not intrinsically require or prohibit any particular means, while value-rational action, on the contrary, tends to prescribe (and prohibit) specific means or modes of conduct. With pure instrumentally rational action, there is a specific goal (or goals), and any means whatever that produce the desired result are allowed; it is only a question of which means are most practically effective. But with value-rational­ity, the means are intrinsically and normatively tied to the ends of action. The distinction between means and ends in value-rationality can collapse, since using the correct means (or performing correct conduct) is an end in itself. But with instrument­ally rational action the separation of means from ends is fundamental and sharply maintained.

=> This distinction is also connected, as you will discover reading the "Voca­tion" essays, to the line Weber draws between the "ethic of conviction" (translated somewhat mislead­ingly by Gerth & Mills as "ethic of ultimate ends") and the "ethic of responsibil­ity". The "ethic of conviction" (Gesinnungsethik) seems to be a form of Wertrational­ität, while the "ethic of responsibility" (Verantwortungsethik) appears to be a version of Zweck­rationalität. As you will see, Weber's own value choice is not a simple one, because he implies a preference for combining an ethic of responsibility with an irreducible value-rational element.

When we discuss the "Vocation" essays, I will also suggest:
(a) that Weber's central distinction between the "ethic of conviction" and the "ethic of responsibility" embodies some damaging and misleading analytical confusions, since he tends to conflate his "ethic of conviction" with a somewhat different ethical orientation that can more accurately be described as an "ethic of absolute responsibility" (epitomized, for example, by a Leninist revolutionary ethic); and
(b) that these analytical confusions can be traced in part to some crucial problems in the underlying treatment of rationality on which it is based.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Does European anti-Americanism exist ? (Normblog)

Several friends and acquaintances of mine, including intelligent and well-educated people with PhDs, have repeatedly admonished me over the past 5 years that there is no anti-American feeling in western Europe (or barely any). There are simply some disagreements with specific policies of the US government.

(Popular Francophobia in the US--which upsets many of these same people--is of course another matter entirely. That genuinely exists, and has no reasonable connection to anything that the French government or the French public have ever done.)

I must confess that my first reaction when I hear this is to suspect that these people are either unwilling to face reality, semi-delusional, or pulling my leg. But I suppose that this response on my part is mistaken and unsophisticated. Norman Geras (at normblog) just drew attention to a typical piece in the Guardian that might appear, at a superficial first glance, to be a banal expression of the kind of taken-for-granted anti-Americanism that pervades much allegedly "progressive" public opinion in western Europe. Closer inspection, however, reveals that it is actually an example of rigorous and penetrating policy analysis. For example:

American sentimentality may once have seemed endearing, but now we know it's just another instrument of evil. Every aspect of American culture has begun to stink of the grave. The pizzas and hamburgers: this is how world tyrants fuel themselves. The cars, the drugs, the music, the TV: this is how they distract themselves from their crimes. But how can they still think they're right about anything? Their children are deep-fried, drug-soaked numbskulls, the adults hapless lemmings in their SUVs, heading straight into the back-end of the American dream. Where is the guilt - and where the apology?

You won't get one from Francine Prose. Reading her is like going on an anthropological excursion into the heart of that darkness. The horror of it is not just that she seems to go along with the suburban-commuter lifestyle she depicts, but that she concludes, from her tale of neo-Nazi woe, that everyone is basically good, or at least redeemable. It's Panglossian! Her faith in America and the essential innocence of its inhabitants turns what could have been a challenging read into a witless fable for our times. What's more, it all has to happen in the present tense: Americans have no past.

[....] So, we're all basically okay, and everything will be all right? Tell that to the 6m Jews who died, tell it to the Iraqis. Aw, tell it to the marines.

(Kim Jong Il, Robert Mugabe, and the high officials in the Sudanese government "fuel themselves" on pizzas and hamburgers? I didn't know that, but that's interesting information, if true, since it suggests that an embargo on pizzas and hamburgers might be a useful humanitarian measure. But wasn't Hitler a vegetarian non-smoker? Maybe I'm missing something here. At all events, I'd certainly support any plan to round up SUVs and convert them to scrap metal.)

Norman Geras especially agrees with the concluding sentence of this piece::

As EE Cummings said: "There is some shit I will not eat."

Amen.

Cheers,
Jeff Weintraub

P.S. By the way, to forestall one obvious response .... If someone wants to argue that, OK, European anti-Americanism does exist, but it's justified (and even illuminating) ... then that's a different argument. It may be right or wrong, or maybe even a little of both ... but at least it starts out from some contact with reality.

Update, February 2007: See Andy Markovits - "Western Europe's America Problem".

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The Guardian
June 11, 2005
Nuts all round

Lucy Ellmann recoils from Francine Prose's A Changed Man, a novel smothered in optimism
Saturday June 11, 2005
The Guardian


Changed Man by Francine Prose (421pp, Allison & Busby £10.99)

American sentimentality may once have seemed endearing, but now we know it's just another instrument of evil. Every aspect of American culture has begun to stink of the grave. The pizzas and hamburgers: this is how world tyrants fuel themselves. The cars, the drugs, the music, the TV: this is how they distract themselves from their crimes. But how can they still think they're right about anything? Their children are deep-fried, drug-soaked numbskulls, the adults hapless lemmings in their SUVs, heading straight into the back-end of the American dream. Where is the guilt - and where the apology?

You won't get one from Francine Prose. Reading her is like going on an anthropological excursion into the heart of that darkness. The horror of it is not just that she seems to go along with the suburban-commuter lifestyle she depicts, but that she concludes, from her tale of neo-Nazi woe, that everyone is basically good, or at least redeemable. It's Panglossian! Her faith in America and the essential innocence of its inhabitants turns what could have been a challenging read into a witless fable for our times. What's more, it all has to happen in the present tense: Americans have no past.

Vincent, a neo-Nazi with SS tattoos and a nut allergy, has had an awakening brought on by taking ecstasy. He has decided to love everyone. So he steals his Nazi cousin's money, drugs and truck and drives straight to the Manhattan headquarters of World Brotherhood Watch, a human rights organisation, where he offers his services as informant and publicity coup. Is he for real, or a saboteur? The people at WBW (whose ideals have been spelled out for them by the founder, a Holocaust survivor, in several books that don't sell very well) seem surprisingly trusting of this shaven-headed stranger. He's given an office, two hundred bucks a week and sent home to live with Bonnie, the tremulous development director, and her two jittery teenage sons.

Vincent's rehabilitation proceeds apace; he soon loses any cynicism and falls in love with Bonnie. Within weeks he is able to prove his sincerity by determinedly finishing his speech at the Human Rights Gala dinner, despite having a severe allergic reaction to nuts in the salad, an incident that is referred to later as heroic (an evaluation that strikes even me, a fellow nut-allergy sufferer, as absurd).

Never mind Vincent's ambivalence, where exactly does Prose stand? Not only is her complacency troubling, her subject matter's tricky: romance and the Holocaust were never easy bedfellows, and require a delicacy of touch to which Prose does not aspire. Instead, she continually subverts her own writing by underestimating the reader's attention span, compensating for our supposed failings by relentlessly repeating herself, back-tracking, and telegraphing events 50 pages before they happen.

Prose's flair is for quiet moments, and she can be funny. There's a touching scene in which the head of the organisation arranges himself seductively for his wife, clutching a snifter of brandy and a copy of IBM and the Jews. Prose is nicely scathing about Bonnie's ex-husband with his Lincoln Navigator, new woman and new apartment in a "mammoth penile column rising forty stories over the East River, a whole building full of middle-aged doctors starting second families". When considering the efforts of an animal rights group keen to ensure that Timothy McVeigh's last meal was vegetarian (enough blood had been shed already), Vincent muses: "By those rules - kill someone, and you're looking at tofu."

So why does she insist on lurching the plot forward with a bunch of crowd scenes? No novel needs two dinner parties, a gala charity do, a TV talk-show reunion and a high school graduation. And in the middle of it all, there's an ad for Planeta wines: "It's as if they're drinking sunlight!" Perhaps she's got Spielberg in mind for the movie - everything's been pre-smothered for him in primness and optimism. So, we're all basically okay, and everything will be all right? Tell that to the 6m Jews who died, tell it to the Iraqis. Aw, tell it to the marines. As EE Cummings said: "There is some shit I will not eat."

· Lucy Ellmann's Dot in the Universe is published by Bloomsbury.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Deborah Scroggins - "The Dutch-Muslim Culture War" (The Nation)

I've already sent some of you this recent piece on the Somali-born ex-Muslim Dutch feminist activist, member of Parliament, and ("controversial") film-maker Ayaan Hirsi Ali. (The film "Submission," for which she wrote the screenplay and for which her collaborator, the Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh, was murdered by an Islamist fanatic, can be seen HERE and also on her website HERE.)

This discussion is unusual in the extent to which it managages to do (some) justice to both sides of the debate over Ayaan Hirsi Ali ... and, more generally, it makes some useful points (not often reported in the US) about increasing tensions between some tendencies in western European feminism--especially those connected to women from Muslim communities--and many of their traditional allies among 'progressive' or 'left' parties. In part, this reflects the current confusion, uncertainty, and occasional derangement of the so-called 'left' on many of the issues at stake .. but that's a subject for longer discussion....

=> Incidentally, back during the debate in France concerning the ban on Muslim female headgear in schools--technically, a ban on all 'ostentatious' religious insignia, but everyone knew what it was about--I don't know whether the rest of you noticed something that struck me as sociologically intriguing. When French Muslims were polled about the ban, more Muslim women than men supported the ban ... even though, from a sociologically naive point of view, it was intended to restrict the 'freedom' of Muslim women and had no direct effect on Muslim men.

--Jeff Weintraub

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The Nation
posted June 9, 2005 (June 27, 2005 issue)

The Dutch-Muslim Culture War

Deborah Scroggins

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is supposed to be on the run, but, as one last spring snowstorm turned Amsterdam's lacy bridges and gabled canal houses into a confectioner's delight, she seemed to be everywhere. On television the slim, pantsuit-clad, Somali-born legislator demanded that the Dutch intelligence service investigate the honor killings of Muslim girls. In the pages of newspapers she harangued the health authorities to examine schoolgirls for evidence of genital mutilation. At prize ceremonies she warned European governments that women in their Muslim communities remain under threat.

Seven months ago, Hirsi Ali's implacable campaign against what she views as Islam's oppression of women prompted a Muslim fanatic to ritually slaughter Theo van Gogh, her Dutch collaborator on the film Submission. The murderer used his knife to affix a five-page letter to the corpse promising the same treatment for Hirsi Ali and another Dutch politician who has criticized Islam. The murder sent Dutch society into paroxysms of rage and fear, sparking dozens of attacks on mosques and schools. But it didn't seem to faze Hirsi Ali. In a series of defiant interviews, the former refugee refused to be intimidated. When a group of Muslims tried to block her from making a sequel to Submission, she fought back in court and won. Like a dark avenging angel, she seemed to loom over Holland's wintry Dutch, her ubiquitous media presence a virtual guarantee of further conflict.

In the United States, where few people have had the chance to read or see her critiques of Islam, the 35-year-old Hirsi Ali has been almost exclusively portrayed as a champion of free speech and women's rights. In the Netherlands, however, she remains the subject of intense controversy. Well before van Gogh's murder, she had become a major hate figure among Dutch Muslims, who accuse her of stirring up Islamophobia on behalf of a cabal of right-wing politicians and columnists. Since the murder, a surprising number of native-born Dutch intellectuals have come around to the Muslim point of view.

In a series of "Letters to Hirsi Ali" published this spring in the newspaper De Volkskrant, several well-known, mostly male writers charged her with poisoning the political atmosphere with her strident attacks on Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. They argued that by pandering to Dutch prejudices and putting Muslims on the defensive, she contributes to the very Islamic radicalization she claims to want to stop. In a book rushed into print in February, the popular historian Geert Mak went so far as to compare Submission to Joseph Goebbels's infamous Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew. He warned that the Netherlands could be on the road to civil war. "When the time comes for us to tell our grandchildren, how will we tell the story of the last months of 2004?" Mak asked breathlessly. "The tone, the new tone that suddenly had taken hold? Where did it all begin?"

The backlash against Hirsi Ali has astonished and disappointed many Dutch feminists, who continue to count themselves among her biggest fans. Margreet Fogteloo, editor of the weekly De Groene Amsterdammer, said flatly that Mak is crazy. "People like him feel guilty because they were closing their eyes for such a long time to what was going on," she said. In what appears to be a Europe-wide pattern, some feminists are aligning themselves with the anti-immigrant right against their former multiculturalist allies on the left. Joining them in this exodus to the right are gay activists, who blame Muslim immigrants for the rising number of attacks on gay couples.

The woman who has stirred so many emotions is slight and doe-eyed, with a soft voice and small hands. Her life is itself a testament to the fluidity of Muslim politics: Today's radical feminist was once a teenage Islamist. Born in 1969, she's the daughter of a Somali opposition politician who attended Columbia University in the 1960s, becoming a staunch anti-Communist. But exposure to the West failed to change his traditional attitudes about the proper place of women, and he justified those attitudes by invoking Islam. Back in Somalia, he eventually took four wives. As is customary in Somalia, Hirsi Ali's mother and grandmother forced her to undergo what she calls "the cruel ritual" of female genital mutilation at the age of 6. "I remember the lesson I learned more than the pain," Hirsi Ali told one interviewer. "That to be a Muslim woman is to be born for the pleasure of men." A year later, after the Somali dictator Mohammed Siad Barre imprisoned her father, the family was forced to flee the country. In Saudi Arabia she and her sister were veiled and kept indoors, forced to endure what she now calls "gender apartheid."

Under the influence of an Iranian teacher, Hirsi Ali spent her high school years fully veiled. She has said that when the Ayatollah Khomeini issued his 1989 fatwa against Salman Rushdie, her first thought was, "Oh, he should be killed." Later Hirsi Ali began trying to find a way out of what she would eventually call "the virgin's cage," the obsession with sexual morality that she now argues has crippled the Muslim world. At the age of 22, she saw her chance. "As a Muslim girl, I was given in marriage to a nephew, after which I was expected to live out my days in isolation, as a housewife and mother," she has written. The nephew lived in Canada. In Germany on the way to join him, she fled from relatives, hopped a train to Amsterdam and asked the Netherlands for asylum. Perhaps because she had already placed herself outside the social pale of the local Muslim community, she took another unusual step. Rather than turning to other immigrants for help, as most newcomers do, she found herself a Dutch foster mother. Her foster mother helped her learn the language. She took jobs as a cleaner and at a factory. Eventually she managed to earn a degree in politics at Leiden University.

Hirsi Ali began translating for the Dutch social services in shelters and hospitals while she was still in the asylum center. Over the years, she met women who had been locked inside their homes for years; she interviewed others who had been raped and beaten. She heard about girls who had been killed for holding hands with non-Muslim boys. Armed with her new understanding of women's rights under Dutch law, she was outraged to learn that the authorities seldom interfered in such cases, writing them off as "family conflicts." She had read and strongly agreed with the late American feminist Susan Moller Okin's argument that multiculturalist policies aimed at protecting "culture" often end up contributing to the repression of women and children. She took particular exception to the Dutch policy of subsidizing more than 700 Islamic mosques, schools and clubs. She said conservative Muslim men use them to perpetuate their ideas about gender and sexuality and to prevent Dutch Muslim women from exercising their legal rights.

There was always a latent conflict in the idea of Europe's most sexually wide-open country funding institutions aimed at promoting traditional Muslim values. Pim Fortuyn, an openly gay sociology professor, seized on that conflict after a number of assaults on gay couples by Muslim youth. He ran for office in Rotterdam in 2001 and won handily on a platform calling for a halt to Muslim immigration. Labeling Islam a "backward" religion, he questioned whether Muslim attitudes toward women and homosexuality were compatible with Dutch ideas of individual rights. Fortuyn's anti-Muslim rants coincided with a series of attacks on mosques. Nevertheless, the popularity of his ideas soon had every Dutch party moving to the right on immigration.

In this climate of rising social tensions, Hirsi Ali landed a job at the Labor Party's think tank, the Wiardi Beckman Institute. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks she was invited to discuss Islam and gender on television. Asked to comment on Fortuyn's descriptions of Islam, she said, "By some criteria, Islam could be considered a backward religion." The reaction that followed shocked everyone, except possibly Hirsi Ali herself. There were written death threats, and when she walked in the street, groups of Muslim boys called her a whore and shouted that they wanted to kill her. She had to leave the country briefly. Pim Fortuyn's shocking assassination in May 2002, Holland's first political murder in 300 years, hardened Hirsi Ali's determination to press forward. That fall she wrote an article calling upon Muslim women to abandon the "outdated religious opinions" that prevented them from claiming their rights under Dutch law. A circle of older Dutch writers and politicians began to gather around her. Some, like the University of Utrecht philosopher Herman Phillipse, warned that Holland's Muslim community was rapidly becoming indigestible. Others, such as the writer Paul Scheffer, favored using the government to promote integration. The politician Geert Wilders was perhaps the most inflammatory. "Why are we afraid to tell Muslims to adapt to us, simply because our values and norms represent a higher level of civilization--better, more pleasant and more humane. No more integration, but assimilation!" Wilders wrote.

Meanwhile, Hirsi Ali focused her broadsides more and more plainly on Islam itself. She wrote that the Prophet Mohammed was a "despicable" individual who had married "the 9-year-old daughter of his best friend." "Mohammed is, by our Western standards, a perverse man," she wrote. "A tyrant. He is against free speech. If you do not do what he says, then you will have an unhappy ending. It makes me think of all those megalomaniac rulers in the Middle East: bin Laden, Khomeini, Saddam." By this point, Hirsi Ali had gravitated further to the right; she left the Labor Party for the center-right Liberal VVD Party and won a parliamentary seat in 2003.

Hirsi Ali's many critics contend that far from being a revolutionary, she brings a message that the West is all too willing to hear. They say that in calling for European governments to protect Muslim women from Muslim men, she and her admirers recycle the same Orientalist tropes that the West has used since colonial times as an excuse to control and subjugate Muslims. "White men saving black women from black men--it's a very old fantasy that is always popular," Annelies Moors, a University of Amsterdam anthropologist who writes about Islamic gender relations, said dryly. "But I don't think male violence against women, a phenomenon known to every society in history, can be explained by a few Koranic verses."

Moors and others don't dispute the existence of the social problems Hirsi Ali identifies. Many Dutch Muslim women do live in segregated "parallel cities" where Islamic social codes are enforced. Muslims make up only 5.5 percent of the Dutch population, but they account for more than half the women in battered women's shelters and more than half of those seeking abortions. Muslim girls have far higher suicide rates than non-Muslim girls. Some Muslim girls, mostly African, are genitally mutilated. But in putting all the blame on Islam, they say, Hirsi Ali ignores the influence of patriarchal custom as well as the work of a generation of Muslim feminists. They point to thinkers like Fatima Mernissi and Amina Wadud, who have shown that Islam's sacred texts can be interpreted in a more female-friendly way. And they say Hirsi Ali avoids mention of the role the West has played and continues to play in assisting the rise of the Islamist movements. "The rightist forces and the radical Islamists feed on each other, and she contributes to that," Moors said.

Karima Belhaj is the director of the largest women's shelter in Amsterdam. She's also one of the organizers of the "Stop the Witchhunt!" campaign against what she sees as anti-Muslim hysteria. On the day we talked, she was despondent. Arsonists had set fire for the second time to an Islamic school in the town of Uden. A few days later a regional police unit warned that the rise of right-wing Dutch youth gangs potentially presents a more dangerous threat to the country than Islamist terrorism. "The rise of Islamism is not the problem," Belhaj said. "The problem is that hatred against Arabs and Muslims is shown in this country without any shame." With her message that Muslim women must give up their faith and their families if they want to be liberated, Hirsi Ali is actually driving women into the arms of the fundamentalists, said Belhaj: "She attacks their values, so they are wearing more and more veils. It frightens me. I'm losing my country. I'm losing my people."

If Belhaj was sad, another "Stop the Witchhunt!" organizer was angry. Like Belhaj, Miriyam Aouragh is a second-generation immigrant of Moroccan background. A self-described peace and women's activist, Aouragh was the first in her family to attend university. She's now studying for a PhD in anthropology. She scoffs at the idea that Hirsi Ali is a champion of oppressed Muslim women. "She's nothing but an Uncle Tom," Aouragh said. "She has never fought for the oppressed. In fact, she's done the opposite. She uses these problems as a cover to attack Islam. She insults me and she makes my life as a feminist ten times harder because she forces me to be associated with anti-Muslim attacks."

Aouragh accuses Hirsi Ali and her political allies of deliberately fostering the hostility that has led to the attacks on Islamic institutions and to police brutality against young Muslim men. "I'm surprised the Arab-Muslim community isn't more angry with her," Aouragh said. "When she talks about Muslims as violent people, and Muslim men as rapists, this is very insulting. She calls the Prophet a pedophile. Theo van Gogh called the Prophet a pimp, a goat-fucker. Well, no, we don't accept that."

Although the press has focused on the threats against critics of Islam like Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders, Aouragh says that there have been many more attacks on Dutch Muslims than on non-Muslims. She suspects that what the Dutch really fear is not Islamic fundamentalism but the prospect of having to deal with a new generation of highly educated young Muslims who demand a fair hearing for their values. "We are telling them, 'We have rights, too. You have to change your idea about freedom or face the consequences.'"

Whatever happens to Hirsi Ali, the debate she helped polarize over women and Islam is sure to spread and intensify all over Europe in the next few years. As Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris have argued in their book Rising Tide, the true clash of opinions between Islam and the West is not about democracy but sex. Successive World Values Surveys, in which social scientists polled public opinion in more than eighty countries between 1981 and 2001, have shown that people in Muslim countries share broadly the same views on political participation as people in the West. What they disagree strongly about is gender equality and sexual liberalization.

In the United States the distinction is not as sharply drawn. Conservative Muslims are not the only religious group here opposed to what they see as sexual license; it's their opposition to Israel and US foreign policy, not their sexual politics, that sets American Muslims apart from the rest of the right. But in Europe, acceptance of gender equality and homosexuality have become core values across the political spectrum, said Jocelyne Cesari, a Harvard research associate and the author of When Islam and Democracy Meet. "Here it is part of a national debate that doesn't involve immigrants only," Cesari said. "In Europe, this is seen as proof that Muslims are still outsiders whose values are in contradiction to ours."

Islamist thinkers have often argued that women are the key to culture, since they have the responsibility of raising children. An emerging coalition of European feminist and anti-immigration forces seems to be adopting the same view. In France, Belgium, Germany and Scandinavia, as in the Netherlands, the "woman question" is at the center of the debate over how to integrate the Muslim community. "I know most of my Muslim friends will disagree with me, but in my opinion the gender issue is the most important issue," says Martijn de Koning, an anthropologist at Leiden University who studies jihadi groups. "The head scarf, the Islamic schools, the policy of family reunification--every debate here more or less concerns the position of women."

Hirsi Ali is only the most prominent of a number of young Muslim women who have lately begun to criticize their own communities for their treatment of women. In Sweden, Fadime Sahindal campaigned against forced marriages before her father killed her in 2002 for having a relationship with a Swedish man. [JW: See here] In France, Fadela Amara heads the Ni Putes ni Soumises ("Neither Whores nor Submissives") movement against Islamist groups she calls "the green fascists." In Germany, where six honor killings have taken place just this year, Seyran Ates, a Berlin-based lawyer, has charged the government with allowing Islamic fundamentalism to flourish under a policy of false tolerance.

In the United States, too, some of the Islamists' most vigorous opponents have been female. Asra Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and Amina Wadud, a professor of Islamic studies, have led the fight to open Muslim prayers to women. Most of the members of the newly formed Progressive Muslim Union, which aims to provide liberal Muslims with a platform, are women, according to co-founder Ahmed Nassef.

Many conservative Muslims have been almost as hostile to these female critics as they have been to Hirsi Ali. As with Hirsi Ali, they tend to disregard the women as deviants who want to change Islamic sexual mores because of their personal failure to live up to them. Nomani, who bore a son out of wedlock, was expelled from her hometown mosque in Morgantown, West Virginia. She and Wadud received death threats and condemnation from religious authorities around the Muslim world for organizing a female-led prayer service in March in New York.

But particularly in Europe, some Islamists are beginning to see the woman question as their Achilles' heel. The influential Swiss Islamist Tariq Ramadan recently warned Muslims that they were going to have to change their attitudes. "We are going through a reassessment," he said, "and the most important subject is women. Our experience in Europe has made it clear that we must speak about equality." In Austria in April, a meeting of 160 imams called for equality between men and women.

But talk may not be enough, at this point. In Human Visas, a new book that probably points in the direction Europe is going, Norwegian journalist and human rights activist Hege Storhaug argues that strict controls on immigration are the best way to protect European values and Muslim women's rights. Storhaug, the information director of Human Rights Service, says that Europe's concept of Muslim integration used to amount to "Get the father a job and integration will follow." The new motto, she says, should be "Integrate the mother and two-thirds of the job is done, because the mother will integrate the children."

Storhaug says that to dry up radical Islam, European governments need to break up the "parallel societies" Muslims have established in cities across the continent. Older men in these communities prevent integration by controlling marriages. "The families are under tremendous pressure to bring relatives from the home country to Europe," she said. "Relatives are willing to pay a lot for those residency visas. Especially with young immigrant brides, they become completely dependent on their husbands and in-laws. Young women who are born in Norway are forced to marry cousins who can then come to this country." She says that in the ninety such forced marriages her group studied, all but three of the brides said they had been raped.

Denmark has been widely criticized for passing a law in 2002 establishing a number of tests for citizens or residents who wish to bring spouses into the country from overseas: Both partners must be at least 24 years old. They must demonstrate that the marriage is voluntary. They must have a certain income and own a residence with at least two rooms. And they must show a stronger connection to Denmark than to any other country. As a result, the number of people from outside the European Union who were allowed to join Danish spouses or other close family members fell from 10,950 in 2001 to 3,835 last year. In November the Netherlands became the first to follow Denmark's example, raising the age to 21 to qualify for family reunion.

When the Danish measure was proposed, Muslim groups opposed it vigorously. But Storhaug quotes immigrant parents who now say the law has released them from family pressures to use their children as "human visas." And she says young Muslims can continue their education without fear of being married off. "It's rubbish to say the Danish policy is racist," she said. "It's the best policy for women in Europe."

Her group, Human Rights Service, is giving Hirsi Ali its "Bellwether of Europe" prize this month. "I think she is doing a great service to democracy and the future, because Islamism is the biggest threat to democracy and to Europe," she said.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Howard Dean - Europe should act on Darfur

Howard Dean wrote the piece below almost a year ago, in August 2004, when he was a former Presidential candidate but not yet the head of the Democratic National Committee. Unfortunately, what he wrote then remains entirely on target today.

The shameful failure to do anything serious to stop the unfolding atrocity in Darfur has been a failure for the entire "world community." The US government has at least tried to focus attention on the issue (though less so recently), but it should certainly be doing much more. However, any possibility of serious measures will also require the active support of western European governments. And in this respect, the pervasive failure of western European public opinion (with rare exceptions) to become aroused about the Darfur atrocity--even to the extent of public opinion in the US--and to put pressure on European governments to take constructive steps has been absolutely devastating. Changing this situation is crucial.

Some western Europeans have even tried to use their opposition to the Iraq war as an excuse for inaction about Darfur. (Somehow, I am told, the US war in Iraq makes it impossible for European governments to do anything to help stop the ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing, mass murder, mass rape, and deliberate mass starvation in western Sudan.) As Howard Dean correctly pointed out last year, the nicest thing one can say about this rationalization is that it is dishonest and absurd.

Europeans cannot criticize the United States for waging war in Iraq if they are unwilling to exhibit the moral fiber to stop genocide by acting collectively and with decisiveness. [....] Every day that goes by without action to stop the Sudan genocide is a day that the anti-Iraq war position so widely held in the rest of the world appears to be based less on principle and more on politics. And every day that goes by is a day in which George Bush's contempt for the international community, which I have denounced every day for two years, becomes more difficult to criticize. [....] My challenge to the U.N. and Europe is simple: if you don't like American diplomacy under George Bush, then do something to show those of us in opposition here in the U.S. that you can behave in such a way that unilateralism is not necessary.

In this connection, I would repeat something I said in July 2004:

Again, to give credit where credit is due: The US government (for complex reasons of US domestic politics and long-term diplomatic involvement in Sudan) has begun to play a significant constructive role. (The mobilization of an unusual coalition linking African-American groups, Christian groups from right and left, and Jewish groups opposed to the genocidal mass murder of ethnic minorities, has had a significant impact in this respect.) It has openly condemned the campaign of ethnic cleansing and ethnic cleansing in Darfur, explicitly recognizing that it is not only a humanitarian crisis requiring massive relief aid, but also--and fundamentally--a deliberate crime requiring a political solution. The US delegation at the UN strongly protested Sudan's reappointment to the UN Human Rights Commission . The US sent the Secretary of State to Darfur, a significant gesture, and while Powell was in Sudan he said forthrightly to the Sudanese government that the Janjaweed (the government-backed Arab militias who play the main role in this atrocity) "must be broken." And the US is attempting to coordinate more international pressure on the Sudanese government (so far without many visible results). [Unfortunately, there are signs that the executive branch may be starting to give up on this, though there is still support in Congress for serious measures. --JW]

The US government should be pressed to do more, as the articles by Siegle and Moore [among others] correctly urge. But the larger situation is that, as far as I know, at this point the US government is the ONLY one that has undertaken ANY serious initiatives to stop this atrocity and to prevent a gigantic, entirely foreseeable, humanitarian catastrophe in the coming months. This is a scandal. Those of you who are citizens of European countries, in particular, should do what you can to urge your governments to do something serious (in terms of diplomacy, political pressure, and urgent humanitarian relief, at the very least) ... or, at the minimum, not to obstruct a serious response. Obviously, only a JOINT response by some significant segment of the "international community" can address this crisis in any constructive way.

In the meantime, humanitarian relief organizations like Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, and so on have played a very useful role, not only though their directly humanitarian efforts, but also because their people on the spot have been in the forefront of bringing news about this atrocity to the world. (The Sudanese government understands this, which is a major reason why they are trying to prevent people from relief and human-rights organizations from getting into Darfur.) Contributions to them would, therefore, indirectly help to promote a political solution, which is the fundamental necessity. [Of course, it is also necessary to prevent the Sudanese government from harassing, imprisoning, and killing relief workers, which has increasingly become its strategy for dealing with the problem they pose. --JW]

Cordially but urgently,
Jeff Weintraub

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Howard Dean on Darfur
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 12:56:19 -0400
From: Jeff Weintraub


I was about to write a message that said something along these lines, but Howard Dean beat me to it. Obviously, we have different judgments about the Iraq war. But that makes what he has to say here all the more powerful:

Europeans cannot criticize the United States for waging war in Iraq if they are unwilling to exhibit the moral fiber to stop genocide by acting collectively and with decisiveness. President Bush was wrong to go into Iraq unilaterally when Iraq posed no danger to the United States, but we were right to demand accountability from Saddam. We are also right to demand accountability in Sudan. Every day that goes by without meaningful sanctions and even military intervention in Sudan by African, European and if necessary U.N. forces is a day where hundreds of innocent civilians die and thousands are displaced from their land. Every day that goes by without action to stop the Sudan genocide is a day that the anti-Iraq war position so widely held in the rest of the world appears to be based less on principle and more on politics. And every day that goes by is a day in which George Bush's contempt for the international community, which I have denounced every day for two years, becomes more difficult to criticize.

Now is the time for the world community to act if they are serious about encouraging an enlightened leadership role for the United States. My challenge to the U.N. and Europe is simple: if you don't like American diplomacy under George Bush, then do something to show those of us in opposition here in the U.S. that you can behave in such a way that unilateralism is not necessary.

Yours in struggle,
Jeff Weintraub

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http://www.passionofthepresent.com/
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Gov. Howard Dean, M.D., August 16, 2004
The Forgotten Crisis

By Gov. Howard Dean M.D.

As everyone who reads this column knows, I strongly opposed the war in Iraq because I did not believe the president was being truthful with us about the potential dangers Saddam Hussein posed to our safety. I also criticized the president for not using institutions such as the United Nations in a cooperative way to help accomplish a goal most Americans shared, which was to limit the destructive role Saddam played in the region and in his own country.

However, I have also said that the U.N. bears a portion of the blame for the Iraq war. The U.N. did not understand that sometimes action is necessary and talk is not enough. There is often too much dithering in the European Union and at the U.N. when action is needed. The shameful reluctance of the European Union to intervene forcefully in Bosnia in order to stop genocide is one such instance. The ultimate failure of the entire world community, including the United States, to stop the massacres in Rwanda is another example.

The U.N. does not seem to learn very fast.

In Sudan, Africa's largest nation geographically, a terrible ethnic cleansing has been going on for more than a year in the western Darfur region where government sponsored Arabic speaking Sudanese militias have been systematically moving black Muslim Sudanese off their traditional lands. Over one million people have been displaced. Systematic rapes, burning women and children alive, and other forms of murder and intimidation are the preferred methods of the roving gangs called the Janjaweed. These gangs, supported sometimes directly by Sudanese government forces, are burning villages and sending their populations either to mass graves or, for the lucky ones, to foul refugee camps along the border with Chad.

This spring, the U.S. pushed a resolution through the U.N. Security Council threatening sanctions on Sudan for their disgraceful conduct. The already weak resolution was watered down at the request of a number of countries, including the Europeans.

Europeans cannot criticize the United States for waging war in Iraq if they are unwilling to exhibit the moral fiber to stop genocide by acting collectively and with decisiveness. President Bush was wrong to go into Iraq unilaterally when Iraq posed no danger to the United States, but we were right to demand accountability from Saddam. We are also right to demand accountability in Sudan. Every day that goes by without meaningful sanctions and even military intervention in Sudan by African, European and if necessary U.N. forces is a day where hundreds of innocent civilians die and thousands are displaced from their land. Every day that goes by without action to stop the Sudan genocide is a day that the anti-Iraq war position so widely held in the rest of the world appears to be based less on principle and more on politics. And every day that goes by is a day in which George Bush's contempt for the international community, which I have denounced every day for two years, becomes more difficult to criticize.

Now is the time for the world community to act if they are serious about encouraging an enlightened leadership role for the United States. My challenge to the U.N. and Europe is simple: if you don't like American diplomacy under George Bush, then do something to show those of us in opposition here in the U.S. that you can behave in such a way that unilateralism is not necessary.

Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, is the founder of Democracy for America, a grassroots organization that supports socially progressive and fiscally responsible political candidates. Email Howard Dean at howarddean@democracyforamerica.com Copyright 2004 Howard Dean, All Rights Reserved. Distributed exclusively by Cagle, Cartoons, Inc. www.caglecartoons.com, contact Cari Dawson Bartley 800 696 7561 cari@cagle.com for publishing or posting.