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Let Non-Refugee Visas Skip the Immigration Line, Save Lives

David Bier

As the Syrian civil war spiraled out of control, Syrian Americans across the United States tried to get their families out. Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.), a retired Army lieutenant colonel, served with one of them. His good friend tried to obtain a visa for his mother. She was eligible, so she should have been able to escape the violence, but she didn’t make it out in time. “I’m certain had he been able to get her to the United States she’d still be alive,” Russell explained last year.

His friend’s case highlights how the lack of a rapid legal means to flee violence abroad can be lethal. It also reinforces the importance of improving legal immigration, outside of the formal refugee program, to better protect persecuted people with ties to the United States. Here’s one way to do that: allow those who, like this Syrian mother, are already eligible for visas to bypass the arbitrary limits on the number of visas.

Because the U.S. government restricts the number of visas issued each year, nearly 5 million people are currently waiting in line. And while refugees admitted under the formal U.S. refugee program can skip these waits—which can last decades—those who qualify for visas sponsored by a U.S. family member or U.S. employer must wait behind everyone else.

It adds nothing to our security to force them to stay in harm’s way for a little longer.

No one knows how many people in line are refugees, but the backlogs of hopeful immigrants from countries which have produced many refugees in recent years have stretched into the thousands. More than 40,000 refugees from Iran, for example, where minority religions are oppressed, have found refuge in the United States since 2005. Yet another 53,000 Iranians await visas under non-refugee programs.

The United States has accepted a paltry 8,000 refugees from Syria, the epicenter of one of the worst humanitarian crises around the world. But another 6,400 or so with family- or employer-sponsored visas are stuck in line. Even if most of these backlogged visa applicants are not refugees, the visa limits will still clog the escape route for the unlikely few who are.

The point is simple: People fleeing violence and persecution shouldn’t have to wait in line. We cannot risk letting those most disposed to be our allies—those with proven ties to our country—believe we are unwilling to save them from certain violence, persecution, or death. It is a mistake that could have lasting consequences for America’s relations around the world.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration tried to use the refugee program to save Syrian green card applicants. But sadly, this well-meaning approach is not the answer. One big problem is that the refugee process is so slow that it is literally fast-tracking people from one line to another.

Even worse, admitting these refugees under the refugee program will take slots away from other refugees who need the program most—those without any legal way to come to the United States. This doesn’t make sense. We should keep the refugee open for people who desperately need a way out, but who have no other options. Refugees with U.S. ties should simply be fast-tracked with the visas for which they are already eligible.

Of course, opponents of refugee resettlement could offer up their oft-repeated objections—“we don’t know who they are,” “we can’t vet them,” etc. But these complaints are inapplicable in this case. We do know who they are—they are the mother of a U.S. soldier, the brother of an American entrepreneur, the employee of a U.S. businessman. Unless we reform the process, these are the people who we are condemning to persecution or death.

Besides, these are people who will be immigrating here eventually either way. It adds nothing to our security to force them to stay in harm’s way for a little longer.  They are coming—let’s make sure it’s in economy class, not in a coffin.

David Bier is an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute.

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On the Italian and Eurozone Doomsday Scenario

Steve H. Hanke

On June 23rd, the voters in the United Kingdom (UK) turned a collective thumbs-down on the European Union (EU). The Brexit advocates — the ones who had had enough of the EU’s mandates and regulations — won the day. But, this is only the first step on a long and winding exit road. To formally begin its withdrawal from the EU, the UK must trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, and the new British Prime Minister, Theresa May, won’t do that before the end of 2016. Once triggered, the UK has two years to negotiate its exit from the EU.

The Brexit vote was a surprise that temporarily rocked the markets, sent the pound to a 32 year low, and sent the chattering classes chattering. It also poured fuel on a simmering Italian fire — a fire that could result in an Italian, as well as a Eurozone, doomsday scenario.

In anticipation of poor results from the Italian banks’ stress tests (which will be reported on July 29th), Italy’s Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, has indicated that his government will unilaterally pump billions of euros into Italy’s troubled banks to recapitalize them. There is a problem with this approach: it is not allowed under new EU rules. These rules require that bank bondholders take losses (a bail-in) before government bailout money can be deployed. But, in Italy, a big chunk of bank debt (bonds) is held by retail investors. These retail investors vote in large numbers. So, the EU bail-in regulation, if invoked, will certainly put Renzi’s neck on the chopping block. And that will come sooner rather than later because the Prime Minister has called for a referendum on Italy’s constitution in October and stated that he’ll resign if the referendum is voted down.

If, following the stress tests, holders of Italian bank debt are required to bail-in banks, there will most certainly be a strong backlash that will not only kill Renzi’s referendum but also his government. That would most likely put the Five Star Movement in the saddle. The Movement is already surging, winning control of important local governments in Rome and Turin. This populist-left movement wants to exit the Eurozone. If you think Brexit was big, such a scenario would not only spell doomsday for Renzi but also probably for the euro.

Let’s take a closer look at the Italian economy and its banks. That requires a model of economic activity. The monetary approach posits that changes in the money supply, broadly determined, cause changes in nominal national income and the price level (as well as relative prices — like asset prices). Sure enough, the growth of broad money and nominal GDP are closely linked. Indeed, the data in the following chart speak loudly.


Italy’s money supply (M3) growth rate since 2010 has been well below its trend rate (6.53 percent) for most of the period (see the accompanying chart). Not surprisingly, Italy’s nominal GDP growth rate during the 2010-2015 period was only 0.4 percent per year.


As weak as the money supply growth rate has been in Italy, it has been stronger than the Eurozone’s average in recent years (see the following table). Indeed, Italy’s money supply growth has been slightly stronger than France’s or Spain’s.


If we break down the contribution to the money supply growth, only 17 percent of Italy’s M3 is accounted for by State money produced by the European Central Bank (ECB). The remaining 87 percent is Bank money produced by commercial banks through deposit creation. So, Italy’s banks are an important contributor to the money supply and, ultimately, the economy. Recently, they have been contributing significantly to Italy’s money supply growth. That said, both the money supply and growth in credit to the private sector have been growing below their trend rates. So, anything that would cause banks to contract their loan books — which would cause the money supply and credit to the private sector in Italy to slow down — would plunge Italy into a recession.

It’s no surprise that Renzi has his eye on banks. It’s also easy to see why he is worried and ready to pull the trigger on a state-sponsored bank bailout. The accompanying chart on non-performing loans should be cause for concern.


To put the non-performing loans into perspective, there is nothing better than the Texas Ratio (TR). The TR is the book value of all non-performing assets divided by equity capital plus loan loss reserves. Only tangible equity capital is included in the denominator. Intangible capital — like goodwill — is excluded.

So, the denominator is the defense against bad loans wiping the bank out, forcing it into insolvency. A TR over 100 percent means that a bank is skating on thin ice. Indeed, if the non-performing loans were written off, a bank with a TR in excess of 100 percent would be wiped out. All of the five big Italian banks in the accompanying table — including the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS), the world’s oldest bank — fall into this ignominious category.


They need to be recapitalized. This could be done by issuing new shares on the market. But, all these banks’ shares are trading well below their book values. BMPS’ price is only about 10 percent of its book value, and Intesa Sanpaolo (the best of the lot) is only about 66 percent. In consequence, any new shares issued on the market would dilute existing shareholders and be unattractive. This is why an Italian state rescue is the most attractive source for the recapitalization.

Renzi holds the right cards. If the EU continues to refuse to let Renzi play them, the Italian banks will be bailed-in by the bondholders, who will receive a close haircut. Renzi’s constitutional changes will probably go down in flames, and with them Renzi’s government. With that, the Five Star Movement will form a government and Italy will exit the Eurozone. So, if the EU does not bend and allow one of the loopholes in its rules to be used, the Boys in Brussels could set a doomsday machine into motion.

Steve H. Hanke is a professor of Applied Economics at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.

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The Democrats’ Three-Way Split on Foreign Policy

A. Trevor Thrall

The Democrats in Philadelphia aren’t doing any better than the Republicans at promoting an image of unity. So far no one can make it through a speech without interruption from the Sanders supporters. The clash between Clinton and Sanders has for the most part been framed as disagreements over economic and welfare policy. But one overlooked division stems from a rising dissatisfaction with the foreign-policy vision of Clinton and other Democratic elites.

These divisions matter in the short run in Clinton’s campaign against Trump but also in the longer run for the course of a potential Clinton White House and the Democratic Party. Those vying for influence within Democratic ranks are essentially split three ways over the direction of foreign policy.

The first group is called the liberal internationalists. Their motivating ethos is that the United States is, in former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’swords, the “indispensable nation.” This group believes that the United States must play a decisive leadership role on all fronts—military, economic and diplomatic—with the rest of the world.

Those vying for influence within Democratic ranks are essentially split three ways over the direction of foreign policy.

Hillary Clinton, of course, is the current torchbearer for this group, which is composed primarily of well-educated and well-to-do Democrats and includes most Democratic elites and party leaders. Like Clinton, this group of Democrats supports the vigorous use of military force both to confront terrorism and to defend and promote human rights. As evidenced by Clinton’s strong defense of NATO in response to Trump’s recent comments questioning the U.S. role in Europe, liberal internationalists believe American security is closely linked to the security of its allies around the world and that the global alliance system is central to the pursuit of a wide range of American foreign policy goals.

As Clinton told the Veterans of Foreign Wars this week, “I believe in standing with our allies because they are part of what makes us exceptional.” This group is also supportive of American leadership and international cooperation in other arenas such as climate change and global health. On the economic front, these Democrats strongly favor free trade and view globalization in a generally positive light.

In contrast, restrained internationalists support the cooperative and economic aspects of American foreign policy but hold a much stronger preference for the use of diplomacy over the use of force. Some in this camp are supportive of limited military efforts to prevent humanitarian disasters, but this group includes the sizeable number of dovish Democrats who have opposed most major military actions since Vietnam. Though like other Democrats they view terrorism as a threat, restrained internationalists worry about going too far in the fight against terrorism and getting entangled in endless wars abroad while eroding civil liberties at home.

Finally, the Sanders campaign has provided a huge boost to the isolationist-protectionists, who believe that the United States needs to focus its energies inward. Rejecting claims that the United States is the indispensable nation, this group believes that the United States does too much to help other countries solve their problems at the expense of critical domestic priorities.

Unlike the liberal internationalists, isolationist-protectionists tend to have less education and lower incomes. They are the people most affected by the death of American manufacturing and the restructuring of the economy. Given this, isolationist-protectionists view globalization and the global economy with great suspicion and overwhelmingly oppose free trade deals. In an op-ed condemning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Sanders argued, “One of the major reasons why the middle class has been in a forty-year decline: poverty has been increasing and the gap between the very rich and everyone else has been growing wider and wider due to our disastrous trade policies.”

Finally, thanks to this laser focus on domestic issues, isolationist-protectionists tend to be the least supportive of the use of force whether the issue is terrorism, defending allies, or protecting human rights.

Despite general agreement with Clinton on the need for U.S. leadership on global issues like climate change and for working with allies, Bernie Sanders is not a liberal internationalist and his surprisingly successful campaign revealed two fault lines at work dividing the Democratic Party on foreign policy. The first fault line was the question of military intervention. Where Clinton has supported every major American military action since the 1990s, Bernie Sanders—and many Democrats—opposed them. The second fault line was international trade. Like her husband before her, Clinton was a champion of free trade while serving as Secretary of State. Sanders, of course, along with many Democrats, fiercely opposed the Obama administration’s trade deals.

In highlighting these fault lines the Sanders campaign energized the two insurgent camps within the Democratic base, uniting them under a banner bearing eerie similarities to the one promoted by Donald Trump, a vision combining economic protectionism and an emphasis on domestic issues over foreign affairs. The appeal of populist and nationalist rhetoric made it difficult for Clinton to beat Sanders, continues to make it hard for her to consolidate her base, and has blunted what was expected to be her significant advantage over Trump on foreign affairs.

Longer term this year’s campaign suggests that liberal internationalism’s days as the Democrats’ undisputed foreign policy platform are numbered. The battle between Clinton and Trump may temporarily paper over the Democrats’ internal struggles, but in fact Donald Trump’s success only reinforces the danger of assuming Americans have the stomach for ambitious foreign policies. As a recent survey from the Pew Research Center found, 57 percent of Americans think the United States should deal with its own problems and let other nations manage on their own, more think that involvement in the global economy is mostly bad than mostly good, and 70 percent of Americans want the next president to focus on domestic policy, not foreign policy.

Like it or not, Clinton and other liberal internationalists will need to do more to persuade Democrats that the United States can and should continue to engage the world as deeply as it has for the past generation.

A. Trevor Thrall is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and an associate professor at George Mason University in the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs.

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Why Send More Troops to Iraq?

A. Trevor Thrall

Through careful incrementalism and downplaying his actions, President Barack Obama has shrewdly avoided scrutiny of repeated military interventions and robbed the American people of robust debate about the where, when, and why of American warfare.

Close on the heels of Obama’s decision to keep 8,400 troops in Afghanistan indefinitely, the administration recently announced that it would send another 560 troops to Iraq to help retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State (ISIS). This move will bring the total number of American troops in Iraq to somewhere around 5,000. In the scheme of things, 5,000 does not sound like a remarkable figure. The U.S. sent over 150,000 troops to fight the 2003 Iraq War and deployed over 500,000 troops to the Middle East for the first Gulf War.

In place of a clearly defined mission Obama has substituted an amorphous commitment to the security and stability of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria with no clear national security rationale and no clear endpoint in sight.

And in many ways the decision to help Iraqi forces retake the city of Mosul also seems unremarkable. ISIS is a global menace, after all, sparking terrorism around the world and threatening the stability of the Middle East. Moreover, Obama has promised that the American forces will not engage in direct combat but will instead provide support for Iraqi troops. On the surface, sending a few additional troops to help Iraq take care of ISIS simply looks like a smart strategy.

Unfortunately, this approach to American strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq has produced a long and drawn out failure over the past 15 years. National security concerns provide scant justification for direct involvement in the Middle East. ISIS is an imminent threat to Iraq and its neighbors but represents a distant threat to Americans. And, in fact, the best way to reduce the threat of terrorism against Americans is to disengage from internecine warfare in the region, not to stir hatred and enmity through continued air strikes, drone strikes, and an ongoing military presence.

Beyond this, the danger of Obama’s decision is that it signals an unhealthy evolution in the American way of war. In the wake of Vietnam political leaders like Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and General Colin Powell helped articulate a new approach to military intervention. Instead of getting bogged down in endless wars with little prospect for success, the Weinberger and Powell doctrines encouraged presidents to identify limited missions clearly, to use overwhelming military force in pursuit of quick victory, and to use military force only when vital national interests were at stake and with the full backing of the American people. The result of this post-Vietnam strategic evolution was seen in the high-tech, low-casualty warfare that proved so successful during the Gulf War in 1991.

President Obama, meanwhile, has abandoned the strategy that worked so well then. In place of a clearly defined mission Obama has substituted an amorphous commitment to the security and stability of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria with no clear national security rationale and no clear endpoint in sight. In place of overwhelming military force is the “light footprint,” which serves to keep American casualties low while sacrificing the ability to achieve any kind of military victory in a reasonable amount of time.

And finally, Obama has obscured the true shape of his Middle East strategy through his own version of “salami tactics.” By focusing the news media’s attention on discrete efforts like the retaking of Mosul or the killing of a specific terrorist leader, and by adding just a few troops here and a few troops there, he avoids debate about his overall strategy. Meanwhile the United States gets ever more deeply enmeshed in the Middle Eastern morass.

The implications of this approach to war are chilling. Without a clear national security rationale, military intervention stops being a tool of foreign policy and risks becoming either folly or tragedy. Failure to put limits on the mission or to define a clear strategy for victory puts lives at risk, invites political infighting, and raises the costs of intervention. Finally, it robs the American people of the opportunity to participate in a free-ranging debate and make their will known.

A. Trevor Thrall is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute

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What Democrats Can Learn from Philadelphia’s Navy Yard

Christopher A. Preble

As Democrats descend on the City of Brotherly Love for their national convention this week, they might be tempted to visit the home of some of the city’s famous businesses, such as the Tasty Baking Company, maker of delicious Tastykakes; clothier Urban Outfitters; or pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, a DNC sponsor.

Today, they are able to visit all of these places, located near the far south end of Broad Street, where that iconic Philadelphia boulevard meets the Delaware River.

But a generation ago, most people couldn’t go there. The Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and the adjacent Philadelphia Naval Station were closed to the public. Today, The Navy Yard is home to more than 150 businesses, employing more than twelve thousand people. It has restaurants and retail shops. And last year it hosted one hundred events that drew more than one hundred thousand visitors. One of the bigger events of the year is the Blue Cross Broad Street Run, a ten-mile race which starts at Broad and W. Fisher, and ends a quarter of a mile inside of the Navy Yard’s gate. The opening of the former military property made this all possible.

That isn’t the story you typically hear. When a military base is slated for closure, elected officials and community leaders rally to stop it. They form “save our base” committees and implore the Pentagon to look elsewhere. They argue that their base is essential to the nation’s defense, and that its closure would have a devastating impact on the community, and the wider regional economy. They envision that the military will leave behind empty buildings and vacant lots, a permanent blight on the landscape.

Philadelphia has a lot of things going for it, but I hope city officials make a point of bragging to visitors from the nation’s capital this week about what has happened to their former military base.

I know. I was there, in graduate school at Temple University in the mid-1990s. The shipyard’s demise had been a long time coming. In April 1991, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney included the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, and the associated properties collectively known as the Philadelphia Naval Complex, in a list of bases to be closed. The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission concurred. The community’s political leaders fought hard against the decision. Senator Arlen Specter even took the case to the Supreme Court. But, in the end, the BRAC Commission’s decision stood. Philly’s base and shipyard closed officially in 1995.

The mood was grim. Early attempts to find a major commercial shipbuilder to replace the Navy sputtered. It seemed impossible to believe, in those early months, that the South Broad Street community could recover. The city wasn’t doing much better. An estimated 482,000 people—one quarter of its population—had moved out during the previous quarter century. A poll taken in September 1995 found that 43 percent of Philadelphia’s residents wanted to join them someplace else.

But the C in BRAC is misleading. Bases aren’t closed. Properly managed, and with a little bit of luck, most former military facilities are repurposed for other chiefly nonmilitary pursuits. And some make the transition quite quickly.

Of the fifteen instances of defense conversion that I’ve studied so far, Philadelphia’s Navy Yard is one of the most impressive. (I write about it here.)

A private-public partnership with the city of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, and Liberty Property Trust is responsible for managing the area’s rapid redevelopment. The sheer range of businesses there demonstrates the benefits of a diversified economic base, located on 1200 acres near some of Philadelphia’s most famous landmarks. Indeed, its location was always a key selling point. For example, the city’s sports teams play on Broad Street, within walking distance. The Comcast Center, home to the Sixers and Flyers, also hosts performances and shows. Unsurprisingly, the Courtyard Marriott hotel, which opened in 2014, is at capacity for Eagles football games and major concerts. Plenty of open space, a number of historic buildings, and pleasing views of the river, make for a great walking tour. Regular shuttles carry visitors and workers to and from Center City.

The secret of the revival of one of Philadelphia’s great landmarks isn’t a very well-kept one. Politico has some great pics here. The Navy Yard is doing so well that there are rumblings of future expansion to include 1.5 million square feet of rental housing, which would transform the Yard into “a live-work, 24/7 microcosm of edgy, urban living,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Philadelphia has a lot of things going for it, but I hope city officials make a point of bragging to visitors from the nation’s capital this week about what has happened to their former military base. They might even give them a tour. If they do, it could weaken opposition in Congress to another round of base closures, which is so desperately needed. Indeed, the opponents might come around to the view that the opening of a nearby base is precisely the boost that a flagging local economy needs.

Christopher A. Preble is vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.

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How Obama Abandoned the American Ethos of Justice

Nat Hentoff and Nick Hentoff

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” — Preamble, U.S. Constitution

When speaking about the war on terror, President Obama frequently invokes a biblical sense of justice that flows from the execution of a judgment through brute force rather than the rule of law.

“Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget and that our reach is long and that justice will be served,” Obama said in 2014 after ISIS murdered American Steven Sotloff.

It is the sense of justice described in The Battle Hymn of the Republic as a “righteous sentence” meted out with a “terrible swift sword.” Which may be acceptable rhetoric when used to rally public support in wartime, but is dangerous to democracy when used to govern a civil society.

The American ethos of justice embodied in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) definitions of justice, such as “the quality of being fair and reasonable,” or “a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people.”

The Constitution lists the establishment of justice as the primary goal of America’s founding document. All of the desired outcomes flowing from “a more perfect union” — domestic tranquility, the common defense, the general welfare and the blessings of liberty — depend for their success on the Constitution’s promise to “establish justice.”

As Obama’s second term comes to a close, he leaves office with a record that will be defined by the abandonment of the principles of due process and the rule of law that are the foundation of the American ethos of justice.

The Guantanamo Bay prison, a due-process-free black hole of injustice, is still open and damaging America’s reputation and credibility abroad. In 2011, Obama expanded Guantanamo-like indefinite detention by signing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012, which authorized the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens.

Jonathan Turley, writing in 2012 for The Guardian, called Obama’s position on indefinite detention of U.S. citizens a “historic assault on American liberty.” The American Civil Liberties Union said that Obama “will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law.”

Fifteen years after the Patriot Act was first passed, and nearly eight years after Obama became president, the indefinite detention of Americans is still authorized under U.S. law.

Congress deserves blame for the failure to close Guantanamo and to end authorization for the indefinite detention of Americans. But Obama’s culpability cannot be ignored in apportioning blame.

He bears all of the blame for the civil liberties outrages that were entirely within his control and which enjoyed his vigorous support. These include adopting regulations and procedures that broadly authorize the remote extrajudicial killings by drones not only of foreign combatants, but also innocent civilians and even American citizens living abroad. Obama also sanctioned the CIA’s illegal torture program after the fact by refusing to prosecute those responsible for blatant violations of U.S. and international law.

Such a ubiquitous disregard for the rule of law threatens to cripple our ability to protect and preserve our civil liberties. The lasting legacy of Obama’s war on terror may just be the institutionalized abandonment of the American ethos of justice. And that is a tragedy of historic proportions.

Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights. He is a member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Cato Institute, where he is a senior fellow. Nick Hentoff is a criminal defense and civil liberties attorney in New York.

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The NATO Alliance Is Terminally Ill

Ted Galen Carpenter

The attempted military coup in Turkey sent shock waves through NATO. No matter how the coup turned out, it would have bad news for the alliance. If the attempt had succeeded, NATO would have faced the embarrassment of having a member governed by a military dictatorship. Although that type of situation was tolerated during the Cold War (with respect to founding member Portugal, several military regimes in Turkey, and the brutal Greek junta from 1967 to 1974), matters are much different in the current environment. Since NATO portrays itself as an alliance of enlightened democracies, tolerating a dictatorial member now would be so politically toxic as to be nearly impossible.

That is likely a significant reason why the United States and other key NATO powers opposed the coup and quickly expressed support for the President Erdogan’s government. But Erdogan’s victory over an extraordinarily inept coup plot did not signal a victory for a truly democratic Turkey. Instead, his government has used the incident to purge not only the military, but the judiciary and the educational system of thousands of opponents. The extent and speed of the purge confirms that Erdogan simply used the attempted coup as a pretext for a plan long in place. NATO still confronts the problem of a member state that is now a dictatorship in all but name. That is likely to be unpalatable to several fellow members and cause serious tensions and divisions in the alliance.

But Turkey’s descent into authoritarianism is hardly the only sign of illness in the alliance. There are noticeable uncertainties about the most pressing security issue: how to deal with Russia. Most of the East European members embrace a confrontational stance toward Moscow, believing that any sign of weakness will only encourage the Kremlin to become even more abrasive and belligerent. NATO’s political and military leadership clearly favors a similar approach. So far, the hawkish strategy has largely prevailed. NATO has conducted air, naval and ground force maneuvers in the Baltic region, the Black Sea, Poland and Ukraine. The decision to deploy three battalions to the Baltic republics (along with one to Poland), ratified at the recent Warsaw summit as a symbol of NATO’s determination to defend even those highly vulnerable members, reflects a similar mentality.

A Trump presidency might well be the last nail in NATO’s coffin.

The hostile stance toward Russia is not without its dissenters, however. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier startled his alliance colleagues with extremely negative comments about NATO’s large-scale military exercises in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Such measures, Steinmeier stated, were “counterproductive,” and he admonished NATO leaders to avoid “saber-rattling and warmongering.” We are “well advised not to create pretexts to renew an old confrontation.”

It is not coincidental that Germany was one of the major NATO countries most adamant about not extending membership invitations to Ukraine and Georgia, despite a vigorous lobbying effort by the United States, Britain, and most East European members. Berlin has also been, at best, a reluctant supporter of the Western economic sanctions imposed on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and its support of secessionists in eastern Ukraine. But Germany is not the only NATO member to exhibit doubts about the increasingly hardline policy toward Russia. Both Hungary and the Czech Republic have shown some reluctance. Turkey’s recent, very public, reconciliation with Moscow may lead to a further erosion of any NATO consensus in favor of an aggressive policy.

Potentially the darkest cloud on the horizon for NATO, though, is the U.S. presidential election. Although Hillary Clinton is reliably committed to the status quo regarding NATO (as she is on nearly every other major foreign-policy topic), Donald Trump is not. He has raised the burden-sharing issue in rather blunt and caustic terms. But Trump has sometimes gone beyond that question to express doubts about the wisdom of America’s alliance commitments generally, especially NATO. On more than one occasion, he has scorned NATO as “obsolete.” He has also expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin and indicatedthat he wants a far less confrontational policy toward Moscow.

And in his new interview with the New York Times, he casts doubt on his commitment to Article 5, the very heart of the North Atlantic Treaty. Article 5 proclaims that an attack on one member is an attack on all and obligates the United States to assist fellow members that are victims of aggression. However, Trump stated that he would decide to render aid only if the nations in question have “fulfilled their obligations to us.” Presumably, that meant keeping their promises about defense expenditures and other alliance pledges. He added ominously, “If we decide we have to defend the United States, we can always deploy” from American soil. “and it will be a lot less expensive.”

A Trump presidency might well be the last nail in NATO’s coffin. His administration would be almost certain to demand major reforms, and it is not out of the realm of possibility that he would even seek a U.S. withdrawal. It is the most serious potential fissure in the alliance, but it’s not the only one. NATO is an alliance showing multiple signs of a terminal condition, however much its partisans may want to deny that reality.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at The National Interest, is the author or contributing editor of twenty books on international affairs, including five books on NATO.

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Post-Brexit UK Trade Policy: A Chance to Break Free

Simon Lester

People have been worrying about the difficulties the UK will face in developing its own trade policy after the Brexit vote, and clearly the UK government was not well prepared for this task. However, rather than the disaster that some may fear, the chance to develop a new trade policy could also be taken as a great opportunity. If Brexit goes forward, the UK will construct a trade policy from scratch, without the burden of decades of entrenched thinking and interest group influence. If done right, this could lead to significant improvements and innovations in the existing trade agreement model, and freer trade.

The new UK trade policy will be guided by the views of the political leadership. From what we have heard so far, there is general support for free trade among this group. Prime Minister Theresa May has expressed concerns about UK companies being bought by foreigners, but she has also talked of “embracing the opportunities to strike free trade deals with our partners across the globe.” Boris Johnson, the new foreign secretary, has been a strong TTIP proponent (“There is absolutely nothing not to like about the TTIP.”) Secretary for international trade Liam Fox says he is “scoping out” a dozen potential trade deals. Prior to the vote, David Davis called for the UK to step up the negotiation of free trade agreements after Brexit (“The greatest improvements will come if we grasp the opportunities for free trade with both hands.”); and after the vote, the new Brexit minister said, “we can do deals with our trading partners, and we can do them quickly.” And business secretary Sajid Javid has already begun traveling the world seeking trade deals for the UK.

Of course, actual implementation will be carried out by trade specialists, and it is these people who are most important to the future of UK trade policy. The political leadership might be vaguely for free trade and trade deals, but it is the trade experts who understand the nuances. A wide range of issues might be included in a trade agreement, and free trade can be promoted in a variety of ways. It is the experts who will be in the best position to shape the content of the UK’s trade agreements.

As of now, these trade experts are not in place. It has been widely reported that the UK has very few government officials (some have given the figure as 20) capable of conducting a trade negotiation, and will have to hire hundreds of people for this task. This is certainly true, but the difficulty should not be exaggerated. Perhaps the EU really does have 600 trade experts on staff, and maybe Canada has 300, but it is easy to imagine that not all of these people are absolutely necessary. In part, the number needed depends on what the UK plans to be negotiating in a trade agreement. Arguably, as discussed further below, some current trade agreement issues do not need to be in there. Thus, while there has been talk of the UK government’s business department hiring 300 trade specialists, the UK could, conceivably, make do within significantly less than this.

Once the UK trade team is in place, it can begin to formulate a specific vision and model for UK trade policy and agreements. In doing so, trade policy officials should look for input from stakeholders; obviously, it is important to understand what your constituents think. But the key here is not to be unduly influenced by narrow and parochial demands. For example, the Economist noted the following: “[UK] officials will have to survey British industries to discover what protection motorcycle manufacturers and salmon fisheries might require from foreign competition … .” However, while the government should be aware of which domestic industries are demanding protectionism, it does not have to accede to these demands. Rather, it should stand up to interest groups wherever possible. UK motorcycle manufacturers and salmon fisheries might benefit from import protection, but the larger public does not. Lobbying for special protections and favors will no doubt be a part of UK trade policy-making, as it is everywhere, but a good government will not give in to everything demanded of it. Instead, it should carefully consider the impact of a policy on society as a whole.

Brexit, if it goes ahead, is a chance to start fresh on trade policy, without the encumbrances of decades of interest group influence that most governments have to deal with. UK politicians and policy-makers have a chance to set up a sensible trade policy from the outset. They will face resistance, of course, but nevertheless it is an opportunity to think about trade policy without all of the baggage that most governments are saddled with.

Brexit, if it goes ahead, is a chance to start fresh on trade policy, without the encumbrances of decades of interest group influence that most governments have to deal with.

If the UK government believes in free trade, as it should, it can focus on promoting certain core aspects of trade liberalization: Elimination or reduction of tariffs and quotas on imports of goods, including so-called “trade remedies” (anti-dumping, countervailing duties, and safeguards); and the principle of non-discrimination, pursuant to which governments agree not to treat foreign goods and services less favorably than their own, including for government procurement. With an emphasis on these issues, the UK can achieve the greatest economic benefits from its trade agreements.

Unfortunately, trade policy has been a bit distracted from these issues in recent years. In practice, with many trade agreements, tariff reductions sometimes take place over a long period, and do not cover all products. And trade remedy abuses are rarely touched in trade agreements these days. Services liberalization is patchy at best, and much of government procurement is excluded from coverage. Often these omissions reflect the demands of industry groups who wish to avoid competition with foreign producers.

At the same time, many new issues have been added to trade agreements, despite the lack of evidence of any substantial economic benefits, and no connection to trade liberalization. For better or worse, trade agreements are shaped by the views of corporations, labor unions, and NGOs, as shown by the inclusion in these agreements of rules on intellectual property, labor rights, and environmental issues such as shark finning.

Generally speaking, governments’ trade policies have been developed over a period of many years, and the influence of particular interest groups has become fairly entrenched. As a result, it is not easy to argue against the existing trade agreement model, because any change would upset the group who demanded a particular rule, and trade agreements are a delicate balance of the views of a wide range of interest groups. While interest group influence cannot be shut out completely, Brexit has given the UK a chance to formulate a trade policy that brings the focus back to liberalization that benefits society more generally, rather than particular interest groups. Let’s hope the UK political leaders and soon-to-be-hired trade officials embrace this opportunity.

Simon Lester is a arade policy analyst for the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at Cato Institute

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Reducing Immigration Will Not Satisfy Trump Voters, and It’s a Bad Idea Anyway

Alex Nowrasteh

Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam’s recent New York Times article laying out a policy response to Trumpism argues, in part, that their preferred immigration policy will help the GOP avoid the likes of a demagogic megalomaniac such as Donald Trump. Unfortunately their policy ideas address neither the symptoms nor the causes, real or imagined, of Trump’s rise.

Wider public opinion does not justify the GOP adopting an anti-immigrant platform or candidate. Gallup has been tracking Americans’ immigration opinions for decades. Currently, 25 percent of Americans want increased immigration, a four-fold increase from the nativist high-water mark in 1993. Those who are happy with the present level of immigration since 1993 are now up 13 percent to 40, or about equal with the percent of people saying this in 1965 when Gallup started tracking. Meanwhile, the percentage of people who want less immigration, Trump’s position, dropped from 65 percent to 34 since 1993.

That 34 percent is increasingly concentrated within the Republican Party, according to Pew polls. Consistent with that partisan divide, a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 56 of American voters agree immigration helps more than it hurts, but only 35 percent of Republicans agree with that statement. A June FiveThirtyEight and SurveyMonkey poll found that agreement with the statement the “number of immigrants who come to the United States each year” should “decrease” is one of the best ways to identify a Republican voter.

An anti-immigration position may help a candidate win a GOP primary, but it is a hindrance once he faces the rest of the electorate.

An anti-immigration position may help a candidate win a GOP primary, but it is a hindrance once he faces the rest of the electorate. Public support for immigration hasn’t surged due to rapid wage growth or an improving economic environment. Shockingly, economic concerns do not drive nativism or even much affect it.

It’s Not About Personal Pocketbooks, But the Economy

Douthat and Salam assumed economic concerns are driving Trump’s popularity. They incorrectly interpreted a recent review of academic work on what drives opinions about immigration, writing that “immigration skepticism seems to be rooted as much in concerns about how quickly immigrants assimilate, whether they rely on welfare programs and whether they compete for American jobs as it is in racial or cultural anxiety.”

This is what the literature review they reference actually says about economic and labor market anxiety driving nativism: “Conclusion 1. As an explanation of mass attitudes toward immigration, the labor market competition hypothesis has repeatedly failed to find empirical support, making it something of a zombie theory.”

Elsewhere in the survey the authors write, “[t]he accumulated evidence weighs strongly against the idea that self-interested concerns about labor market competition are a powerful driver of mass attitudes toward immigration … the significant majority of prior work finds that labor market competition does not shape attitudes of the mass public.” We can shed the myth that Trump’s nativism is popular among GOP voters because they are worried about immigrants taking their jobs.

However, people’s perceptions of how immigrants affect the economy of the nation as a whole influence their opinion of immigration, not concerns over how immigrants will affect their own pocketbooks. People thus prefer admitting high-skilled immigrants over lower-skilled ones because the former will be more positive than the latter, on the margin. Consistent with that, Douthat and Salam wisely endorse liberalized high-skilled immigration but unfortunately combine it with a decrease in lower-skilled immigration.

The perception that high-skilled immigrants have a positive impact on the economy is correct. But lower-skilled immigrants also have a positive effect, despite what the public thinks. Cutting off or removing lower-skilled immigrants would hurt the labor market and economy as a whole. It’s more important to have public policy consistent with the evidence rather than with the perceptions of a minority of voters.

Lower-Skill Immigrants Are Beneficial, Too

Immigrants of all skill levels have both a supply and demand effect on the economy as a whole and on the labor market specifically. On the supply side, immigration increases the number of workers. In a very simple model this would decrease wages, but immigrants and natives tend to work in very different occupations, meaning there isn’t much competition between the two groups. In other words, an increase in the supply of farm workers will not lower the wages for accountants.

The estimated negative wage impacts of lower-skilled immigrants are very small when they are even discovered. George Borjas’ famous work discovered small relative wage declines from immigration that are concentrated among lower-skilled Americans. According to a recent update of that paper which copies his methods but adds another ten years of analysis, the negative effect statistically disappears. At worst, the roughly 10 percent of Americans with only less than a high school degree actually compete against immigrants, but there are reasons to doubt that finding.

Other research finds complementary effects whereby lower-skilled Americans actually experience wage increases due to immigration. In such cases, more immigrant workers create job opportunities for lower-skilled Americans, pushing them up the wage ladder. Crucial here is noticing that occupations can face falling wages as a result of immigration but American workers change their behavior and shift into higher-paying occupations as a result.

The most interesting effect here is that newer immigrants compete with the immigrants who preceded them, not much with native-born Americans who are similarly skilled. Even then, research by David Card and Ethan Lewis looked at how new Mexican immigrants displaced older Mexican immigrants and found small effects. Only in Los Angeles and El Paso did new Mexican immigrants push out older ones. The U.S. economy is good at attracting lower-skilled immigrants, providing incentives for them to settle in areas where they are most demanded, and responding in ways that increase net production and employment for native-born Americans.

Americans shifting into different occupations have produced a division of labor whereby lower-skilled immigrants compete for manual labor occupations while similarly skilled natives concentrate on the one area of low-skilled jobs where they have an advantage: communicating with customers and managers in English. Communications jobs pay more than those focused on manual labor.

There are also very few instances where immigrants displace natives from the labor market. The most common estimate in the academic literature is that for every 10 percent increase in the foreigner share of the population of a country, native employment rates fall by a minuscule 0.2 to 0.7 percent. Countries with relatively liberal labor markets, like the United States, face the smallest effects. In fact, an increase in lower-skilled migration can induce skilled natives to reenter the workforce. If immigration restrictionism improves wage growth, Japan certainly missed the memo.

None of These Concerns Hold Water

On the demand side, immigrants of every skill level buy goods and services. According to a recent working paper, each additional immigrant creates 1.2 local jobs mostly for native workers. Remarkably, 62 percent of these new local jobs are in non-tradable services, thus raising the wages for lower-skilled natives. That is why lower-skilled natives and lower-skilled immigrants frequently move to the same booming cities. By increasing both the supply and demand sides of the economy, immigration is a big win for Americans.

If younger lower-skilled American men are more interested in playing video games in their parent’s home than in working, kicking out a few hard-working immigrants, stopping their future flow, and possibly raising wages by a few percent won’t make a difference. All we’d be doing is replacing good, willing workers with nobody.

Worse than skirting the economic evidence in favor of liberalized immigration, Douthat and Salam’s support for skilled immigration will fall on deaf ears. Trump has read his supporters well and crafted his white paper and public statements to oppose skilled immigration, proposing reforms that would kill the H-1B program and opposing the type of reform Douthat and Salam might support with this statement: “Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.”

Perhaps Douthat and Salam are concerned about the problems with the H-1B program—and there are many—so they defend Trump’s opposition to H-1B expansion. Trump also supports “a pause” in handing out green cards to foreign workers. Virtually all employment-based green cards that go to workers go to the high-skilled workers that they want to see liberalized.

Douthat and Salam will argue their specific immigration proposals would have prevented these people from flocking to support Trump. However, the anti-immigration views increasingly common among the GOP provide little salve for their faith. Candidates have touted views similar to Douthat and Salam’s, and they got outvoted by Trump’s more extreme anti-immigrant position.

As Salam recently wrote in the Dallas Morning News, “I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but one of the biggest reasons Trump won the GOP presidential nomination is that he pledged to strengthen America’s borders, oppose amnesty and reduce immigration levels.” A nuanced position in favor of expanding some legal immigration but restricting other types might appeal to moderate voters, but they did not turn the GOP into a nativist fever-swamp of economic ignorance.

Guys, You’re Condescending Again

That brings us back to the original problem: How to have a GOP immigration policy that appeals to an increasingly nativist base and an increasingly pro-immigration public, and is economically coherent. Douthat and Salam chose a policy that is none of those. I’m not convinced that anybody really understands populism or the Trump phenomenon, but they seem particularly off.

Trump represents, in part, a rebellion against political elites like Salam, Douthat, and myself who use every political change to state loudly and confidently that this confirms their long-held opinions. The first part of preventing populist-inspired rebellions is to actually listen to voters instead of pretending your preferred policies are really what they wanted all along despite all of the evidence. Little is more condescending than that. Trump’s supporters will not be assuaged by the immigration position Douthat and Salam proposed, any more than they’d be convinced by mine.

Douthat and Salam also assume Trump’s candidacy is an entirely demand-driven phenomenon, that there is some uprising of support from a long-ignored constituency craving nationalism and protectionist economic policies who are attracted to Trump and fueled his rise. That ignores the other plausible supply-side theory for Trump: that he is a brilliant political entrepreneur who largely created the market in which he is competing. Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, and Mike Huckabee all had similar anti-immigration policy positions, yet they made it nowhere. Trump had one advantage: he acts like a demagogue, while those others didn’t, and populists love a demagogue.

While there is always a latent nativism, protectionism, and nationalism lurking in the populist corners of the American electorate, it needed a demagogue to activate it, and Trump was the right candidate. Without those notions lurking, Trump would not have succeeded; but without Trump or a character like him (someone like Ross Perot or George Wallace) those ideas wouldn’t be talked about, either.

Elite condescension is another reason Trump rose so fast among Republican primary voters. The piece by Douthat and Salam is a prime example of that condescending attitude. Condescension reeks most when elites argue that every political development supports their long-held preferred policy positions. Cherry-picked data that ignore the vast majority of economic evidence, patriotic correctness, and the same case for Salam’s preferred immigration policies that he’s promoted for years don’t make the GOP Trump-proof—they provide an example of why Trump succeeded.

Douthat and Salam misstate the degree of public enthusiasm for their own immigration reform ideas and are too willing to concede the factual “high ground” to people who believe lower-skilled immigrants are a net economic drain. Worse, their policy proposals will not appeal to the nativist wing of the GOP, will be ignored by the small sliver of establishment types who were able to keep their 2016 platform less extreme than it could have been, and will thus do nothing to prevent a future Trump.

Alex Nowrasteh is the immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

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The War on Drugs Has Made Policing More Violent

Jonathan Blanks

Bfore a police shooting makes headlines, before the shooting ever happens, there is the moment of contact between the police officer and the eventual victim. Sometimes the officer is responding to a dangerous situation, like a report of a man with a gun. Other times, the contact is initiated by the officer because of excessive speeding or reckless driving that poses a risk to other drivers. And sometimes the reason for the contact is an officer’s legally baseless hunch and a minor violation of a traffic law—like a burned out taillight—that escalates into an unnecessary tragedy. This last type of contact is what led to the shooting death of Philando Castile in a Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb.

American policing today has become increasingly aggressive and, at times, even predatory. Policies and tactics have evolved to make police contact more confrontational. In so doing, they have increased the chances of violence and fatal uses of force. This has been particularly true of efforts aimed at fighting the Drug War. Police are incentivized to initiate unnecessary contact with pedestrians and motorists, and they do so most often against ethnic and racial minorities. Such over-policing engenders resentment among minority communities and jeopardizes public safety.

The laws and tactics employed to fight the Drug War have transformed police officers from those who protect and serve to a force that, too often, actively searches the innocent and seizes for profit.

Some of the Drug War’s most disturbing images involve police officers in SWAT gear, kicking down doors, ransacking homes and endangering the lives of everyone inside during pre-dawn raids. Officers rummaging through a car for drug contraband while the driver sits helplessly on the sidewalk as onlookers drive by may be less violent, but is just as invasive and degrading. This experience can be humiliating under any circumstance, and any perception of race as playing a role in the stop piles resentment on top of humiliation.

The “pretextual” or “investigatory” stop is a common police tactic to investigate potential criminal activity—particularly drug possession and trafficking—in situations where there is no legal reason to suspect a crime is occurring. There is not a large amount of data on how often these stops produce contraband seizures, but what data there is suggests that the overwhelming majority of people who are stopped are guilty of no crime. Much like the pedestrian stops during the heyday of New York City’s “Stop and Frisk” program, most of the motorists stopped for investigatory purposes are black or Hispanic. Those who are stopped are often pressured to give consent to a search the officer has no legal right to demand.

There is evidence that some police departments, particularly state police and drug task forces in the American interior, target motorists with out-of-state plates in the hopes of finding drug proceeds and other unexplained cash.Cash-driven interdiction is the result of asset forfeiture laws that allow police departments to keep the proceeds of assets seized in connection with suspected crimes. This “policing for profit” puts budgetary concerns above public safety.

Officers are also trained to prepare for the possibility of violence in every encounter. Anti-police attacks such as the recent tragedies in Dallas and Baton Rouge heighten the fear and trepidation some officers feel in the field. While fewer police officers are feloniously killed in the line of duty per year than at almost any time in American history, officers who find themselves in stressful situations may be more likely to resort to the use of force, including deadly force, in order to maintain their sense of control during such encounters.

In short, the laws and tactics employed to fight the Drug War have transformed police officers from those who protect and serve to a force that, too often, actively searches the innocent and seizes for profit. Aggressive and antagonistic policing also increases the likelihood of disagreement, thereby increasing the possibility of escalation and the use of force that could lead to the injury or death of an innocent person. But the effects of aggressive policing extend beyond the outcome of any given police stop.

Although a majority of Americans express a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the police, the same is not true across all racial and ethnic lines.Less than one-third of black respondents to a Gallup poll expressed a large amount of confidence in the police. And while a majority of Hispanics still have a lot of confidence in the police, just over 40 percent of other nonwhites do.Research by Charles Epp and others at the University of Kansas shows that support for police declines when individuals and the people they know have negative police experiences, particularly through investigatory stops.

This lack of confidence in the police can endanger communities. As Jill Leovy documented in her book Ghettoside, the poor relationships officers have with black Los Angelenos hinders homicide clearance rates and prosecutions. At the same time, the “broken windows” policing strategy that focuses on heavy enforcement of petty crimes has been shown to have no effect on the felony crime rate, the premise on which the strategy is based. Together, these create a tragic contradiction in which black communities are over-policed for drugs and petty crimes, but under-policed for homicides and other violent crimes.

Criminologists Cynthia Lum and Daniel Nagin argue that, as a foundational principle, policymakers should reorient policing toward crime prevention rather than arrest maximization. One way to do that would be to curb the use of pretextual stops, which could reduce community-police tension and, therefore, reduce the opportunities for unnecessary tragedies that claim the lives of people like Philando Castile. Another option is to end the policing for profit motive by decoupling asset forfeiture proceeds from law enforcement agency coffers. And finally, law enforcement resources should be pulled away from fighting the unwinnable Drug War and redirected toward general public safety.

Until we fundamentally change how America’s police operate, we will continue to suffer from police violence, and all the problems that it creates and represents.

Jonathan Blanks is a research associate at the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice and managing editor of