Pan-European Civil War? Probably Not

November 15, 2005

Mark Steyn opines that nations with two cultures have civil wars, and that’s where Europe is heading. I think he’s wrong to write off the whole of Europe – the problem is the Franco-Germans.

Take Fiji – not a comparison France would be flattered by, though until 1987 the Fijians enjoyed a century of peaceful stable constitutional evolution the French were never able to muster. At any rate, Fiji comprises native Fijians and ethnic Indians brought in as indentured workers by the British. If memory serves, 46.2 per cent are Fijians and 48.6 per cent are Indo-Fijians; 50-50, give or take, with no intermarrying. In 1987, the first Indian-majority government came to power. A month later, Col Sitiveni Rabuka staged the first of his two coups, resulting in the Queen’s removal as head of state and Fiji being expelled from the Commonwealth.

His key point is the lack of intermarriage. He argues that low levels integration combined with high immigrant and low native birth rates will create Fiji-type situations in most European countries in a few decades.

American immigrants have huge incentives to integrate – once they look and sound America, they are treated as 100% American. Brits do it differently, but, with the exception of some Muslim communities, equally effectively. So although both the US and UK have high immigrant rates, high immigrant birth rates and low native birth rates, it doesn’t matter – the babies are American or British.

The US solved the problem of immigrant assimilation because it was central to their idea of nationhood. The Brits because, as a tiny nation living by trade, they had no choice but to co-opt from other nations. (Gibbon says that in 1776 there were just 5 million Anglo-Welsh compared with 20 million French and 20 million Germans).

The Dutch have a similar history to the Brits, and so I think they too will build a single identity out of their diversity – after a poor start they’re getting real.

France and Germany are the problem. Their native cultures are racially homogeneous, and historically they haven’t had to develop models for cultural assimilation – hence the French ghettos. Declaring immigrants to be French and then walling them off was never going to work.

Germany has a smaller problem numerically, but big cultural issues – try talking to a German about Turkey!

Italy has a fast declining birth rate, a very distinctive culture and a boatload (pun intended) of immigrants. But it’s a highly civilized society that’s been assimilating immigrants for 2,000 years, so I’m hoping they will make it.

So civil wars are possible in France and Germany but the rest of Europe should pull through.

The US, John Bolton And The UN

November 15, 2005

The UN suffers from the disease of consortia – it’s been captured by its secretariat. John Bolton, the US ambassador, proposes the classic cures:
a) change the staff,
b) get the members back in the driving seat,
c) put it under competitive pressure.

Since the US only has 1 vote out 191, options a) and b) won’t happen. But c) can, and the president will probably ask Bolton to focus on building up alternatives to the UN.

Consortia fall under the control of their staffers because of focus – the consortium is the entire world to the staffers, but only a small part of the world of its members. So the staffers work 24*7 to build their empires, and the members invest whatever time and people they can spare.

Talking to the Washington Times:

U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton said repeatedly that the Bush administration requires nothing less than “a revolution of reform” at the world body, encompassing everything from U.N. Security Council engagement to management changes to a focus on administrative skills in choosing the next secretary-general.

The ambassador said he would like to see change within the “P5,” the powerful conclave of five permanent U.N. Security Council nations. Russia, China, France, Britain and the United States must work more closely to craft powerful resolutions and make sure they are enforced, he said.

Mr. Bolton also wants to see the 15-member council to address the underlying causes that have spawned 17 active peacekeeping missions, including a half-dozen that are decades old. “The biggest change that we should try and make is to have the Security Council play a larger role in solving these problems, rather than turning them over to the Secretariat and special envoys,” he said.

Mr. Bolton said…that the United States pays 22 percent of the regular U.N. budget, yet has only one vote out of 191 cast. “We have one-half of 1 percent of the total [votes], meaning we pay 44 times more than our voting power,” he said. “My priority is to give the United States the kind of influence it should have. Everybody pursues their national interests. The only one who gets blamed for it is the United States.”

Obviously, change has to start with replacing Annan. But he’s pretending the Volcker report never happened, and since the US and UK are the only nations making waves, he’s and his acolytes are likely to stay. Plus, the chance of the US engaging Russia, China and France is nil.

So that leaves competition. I suspect the president is setting this up so that he can admit defeat and ask Bolton to leave the UN and work on building up competitive agencies. Long term, that may actually force UN reform, and if it doesn’t, so what?

Bigger Bullets And The Internet

November 15, 2005

Many readers will have been troubled by Michael Yon’s description of an infantry engagement in which an enemy combatant kept fighting after taking multiple M4 rounds – these are 5.56mm, (22 caliber). Now, serving soldiers are using the Internet to lobby for something closer to the 303 caliber our fathers used, and procurement is listening.

Yon’s report:

Prosser shot the man at least four times with his M4 rifle. But the American M4 rifles are weak – after Prosser landed three nearly point blank shots in the man’s abdomen, splattering a testicle with a fourth, the man just staggered back, regrouped and tried to shoot Prosser.

I was surprised by this – US instructors recommend a heavy caliber for personal protection – one shot stops your assailant.

Turns out the infantry want bigger bullets too:

While the 5.56mm bullet was OK when used in an automatic weapon, it is much less useful when you have so many troops who know how to shoot, and can hit targets just as easily with single shots. In addition to better shooting skills, the troops also have much better sights, both for day and night use. It’s much more effective to fire less often, if you have troops who can do that and hit what they are shooting at with the first shot. Most American troops can.

Moreover, the 5.56mm round is less effective in urban fighting, where you often want to shoot through doors and walls. The 5.56mm round is not as effective at doing this as is the heavier 7.62mm bullet. And the troops have plenty of 7.62mm weapons available…(lots) of 1960s era 7.62mm M14 rifles have also been taken out of storage and distributed.

…the heavier 7.62mm round does a better job of shooting through cinder block walls, and taking down bad guys with one shot. Too often, enemy troops require several 5.56mm bullets to put them out of action.

A decision on the army’s new assault rifle will probably come sooner, rather than later, because the troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are making a lot of Internet noise over the issue.

All of which is another example of the way the Internet improves upward communication in hierarchies.