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FALL 2017 NO. 4

The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace was established at Stanford Univer-
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thirty-first president of the United States. Created as a library and repository of documents,
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A dragon and a white knight: familiar
mythological figures acting out the clash COLIN STEWART
between right and wrong, order and chaos. ERYN WITCHER TILLMAN
This poster, created a century ago, offers (Bechtel Director of Public Affairs)
a rearguard action in the vicious contest
that enveloped Russia: the knight in this ASSISTANT
encounter is a bogatyr, a traditional Russian DIRECTORS
figure from medieval times, poised to slay
the red dragon of Bolshevism. The slogan
atop the poster says, A unified Russia. This JEFFREY M. JONES
knight, of course, did not slay his dragon
but the bogatyr would ride again. See story, MICHAEL FRANC
page 194. Director of Washington, DC,



TWITTER @HooverInst Stay up to date on the latest

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Fall 2017

9 Time to Get Growing
Weak economic performance is not inevitable. By John F.
Cogan, R. Glenn Hubbard, John B. Taylor, and Kevin Warsh

15 Good News on Taxes

The administrations tax reform proposals may not be perfect
in every particular, but they would do what needs to be done:
spur growth. By Edward P. Lazear

18 Rates, Revenues, and Rhetoric

Dont blame deficits on tax cuts for the richthose cuts
tend to actually boost revenues. Blame runaway spending. By
Thomas Sowell

21 Tyrants Like Unity, Too
Americas founders accepted the perennial clash of interests
and passionsin fact, they welcomed it. What they feared
was unity: the unity of a people under a demagogue or a
domineering government. By Bruce S. Thornton

27 Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts
Bloated, overpowerful, inefficient: the regulatory state drags
down the economy and undermines the rule of law. By Adam
J. White

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 3
37 The Once and Future Internet
The man trying to scrap net neutralitygovernment
oversight of the Internethas a distinct vision of digital
progress. He also has angry protesters outside his house. A
profile of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai. By Tunku Varadarajan

43 Single-payer Straitjacket
Universal, state-managed coverage would be even worse than
the current systemwhich, under ObamaCare, is bad enough.
By Richard A. Epstein

49 Forget Paris
The Paris Accords on climate change were vague and
unenforceable, and carried a stratospheric price tag. Good
riddance. By Richard A. Epstein

55 Blooming Nonsense
Panic blossoms after the discovery of genetically modified
petunias; scientists wilt. By Henry I. Miller

60 New Weapons, New Shields
Emerging trends in the battle to secure our digital frontiers.
By Herbert Lin


66 Ayatollah Online
The mullahs call it sin; activists call it liberation. The battle for
Iranians hearts and minds rages in social media. By Abbas

71 Total Volunteer Force
Long advocated by Hoover fellow Milton Friedman, the
volunteer military represented a dramatic innovationforty
years ago. Now we need smarter ways to assign, train, and pay
military personnel. By Tim Kane

77 The Outlines of a Deal
What does China want? If we could figure that out, we might
find a way to secure peace on the Korean Peninsula. By
Stephen D. Krasner

81 Smarter Waiting
America should stop wishing for Kim Jong Un to go away,
warns Hoover senior fellow William J. Perry, one of our most
seasoned diplomats. This daydreaming only gets in the way of
hardheaded negotiations. By Michael Knigge

85 The Stalin Template

Kim Jong Un learned many things from the USSRs master of
repression. Kims bloody efforts to prop up the family dynasty,
however, are all his own. By Paul R. Gregory

92 Strategic Patience Wears Thin

The waiting game on the Korean Peninsula grows more
dangerous. By Thomas H. Henriksen

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 5
96 Revolutionary Century
The Russian Revolution, a vast and bloody experiment, began
a hundred years ago. Hoover fellow Norman M. Naimark
insists there are lessons we still need to take from such
forced utopias. By Svetlana Suveica and Sergiu Musteat,a

105 Rand Meets Reds

The Bolshevik Revolution triggered ideological warfare,
too, with Ayn Rand among the fiercest warriors. Her foe:
American intellectuals. By Jennifer Burns

111 Lenins Ghost
Russia and China once contested each others claims to
socialist purity. Now they vie for this distinction: who will
challenge America? By Miles Maochun Yu

116 How the West Was Wired
Californias electrical power capacity is bottled up by an
inefficient regional network. Heres a bright idea: fix that grid.
By James L. Sweeney


119 Jerry Brown and the Windmills
While Californias governor tilts against the forces of
carbonization, he pays too little heed to more pressing
programs, such as housing, taxes, and pensions. By Bill

124 Friedman to the Rescue
Milton Friedmans ideas were a beacon that guided
Americaand much of the worldtoward economic freedom.
We need to keep that light burning. By Charles G. Palm

133 Education Emancipates

Hoover fellow Peter Berkowitz ponders the pursuit of
understanding. An excerpt from his Bradley Prize speech.

136 Bully for Budget Cuts
Never mind the hysteria. The proposed federal cuts
in education funding are smart and long overdue. By
Williamson M. Evers and Vicki E. Alger

139 Three Ways Forward

The charter movement has not one mission but three:
improve teaching, spur districts to do better, andas a last
resortreboot hopeless schools. By Chester E. Finn Jr.,
Bruno V. Manno, and Brandon L. Wright

145 The Religious Animal
Faith informs war, peace, and civil society. Thats why
believers must learn to listen to each other. By Charles Hill

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 7
150 Push Back on Dawa
Hoover fellow Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author and foe of political Islam,
on doing battle with dangerous ideas. By Cynthia L. Haven

160 We Are a Moral Cause

Hoover fellow Condoleezza Rice explains how to champion
human dignity while engaging with a flawed, complex world.
By Carol E. Lee

166 Putting Aside Adolescent Things

Senator Ben Sasse wants to raise wise children worthy of
their birthright. By Peter Robinson

175 Free Speech Doesn't Need Rethinking
Persuasion is American, coercion is not. To Hoover scholar
Richard Epstein, the First Amendment is both bedrock and
shield. By Tunku Varadarajan

181 A Voice from the Camps
A literary quest brings life to the story of Latvian journalist
Arsenii Formakov, an imprisoned poet who yearned for
motherland and freedom. By Emily D. Johnson

194 On the Cover




Time to Get
Weak economic performance is not inevitable.

By John F. Cogan, R. Glenn Hubbard, John B. Taylor, and Kevin Warsh

ince the economic recov-
ery began eight years Key points
ago, the rate of economic Lower marginal tax rates on cor-
porate income, business income,
growth has averaged only 2
and earnings from work will boost
percent per year, the weakest eco- both productivity and employment.
nomic expansion since World War II. Antiquated, unnecessary rules
Participation in the labor force is near should be eliminated; a rigorous
cost-benefit analysis should steer
its lowest level since the malaise of all rule making.
the late 1970s. The country is expe- Spending, particularly entitle-
riencing the worst five-year run for ment growth, must be reined in.

John F. Cogan is the Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow at the Hoover Insti-
tution and a member of Hoovers Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy,
the Working Group on Economic Policy, and the Working Group on Health Care
Policy. R. Glenn Hubbard is the dean and the Russell L. Carson Professor of
Finance and Economics at the Graduate School of Business, Columbia University,
and a member of the Working Group on Health Care Policy. John B. Taylor is the
George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics at the Hoover Institution, the Mary
and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford University, chair of the
Working Group on Economic Policy, and a member of the Shultz-Stephenson Task
Force on Energy Policy. Kevin Warsh is the Shepard Family Distinguished Visit-
ing Fellow in Economics at the Hoover Institution and a lecturer at Stanfords
Graduate School of Business.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 9
productivity ever measured outside of a recession. And the median wage is
growing only slowly.
We do not share the view that the recent period of weak economic growth
was simply an inevitable result of the financial crisis. Economic recoveries
tend to be stronger after deep recessions, and any residual headwinds from
the crisis should have long been remedied had pro-growth policies been
adopted. Historically, some post-crisis periods are marked by lower eco-
nomic growth, but we believe that the poor conduct of economic policy bears
much of that burden.
For individuals and
households, the recent
Policy failures restrain growth expec-
economic performance
tations, undercutting consumption is insufficient to improve
and investment spending. standards of living at
a rate to which most
Americans are accustomed. And it is at odds with a society that promises
opportunity and upward mobility for the next generation. Most Americans
rely largely on wage income. The conduct of economic policy during the past
several years, however, has failed to address structural impediments to more
rapid growth in productivity and wages.
For businesses, the underlying economy lacks dynamism in output, invest-
ment, and employment. Start-up activity outside of a few regions remains
poor. Business investment in real assets, such as real and intellectual proper-
ty, plant, and equipment, is stuck at very low levels. Companies have instead
used cash flows for share buybacks and corporate consolidation.
Focused primarily on stimulus in the short-term, the conduct of eco-
nomic policy in the post-crisis years did little to reset expectations higher for
long-term growth. That policy failure restrained those expectations, adverse-
ly affecting consumption and, especially, investment spending.
What explains the slow economic growth? Economists focus on the two
proximate determinants of growth: productivity growththe increase in
production of goods and services per hour of workand total hours of work.
And, as we review each factor in turn, we are confident that US growth can
be materially higher than the reality of the post-crisis era.
Productivity increases arise from human capital (labor), technology, and
real capital investment. Productivity growth declined in the 1970s, rose
markedly through the 1980s and 1990s, and fell again sharply in recent years.
The data do not support the popular contention that the United States is in
the midst of a long-term decline in productivity growth.


Productivity in the nonfarm business sector grew at only 0.5 percent per
year in the past five years (measured from 2012 to 2016). Economists have
long emphasized capital accumulation as an important contributor to pro-
ductivity. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that a lack
of investment in new capital equipment and software lies at the heart of the
recent productivity slowdown.
Remarkably, capital per hour of worka measure of the equipment and
tools that workers use in productionwas basically flat during this period,
contributing virtually nothing to growth. In contrast, during the period from
1996 to 2005, productivity grew 3 percent per year, with the growth rate of
capital per hour of work contributing 1.2 percent per year.
An especially weak labor market is the second factor contributing to
recent years of slow economic growth. From mid-2007 to the bottom of the
Great Recession in June 2009, the labor force participation declined only
slightly, from 66 percent to 65.5 percent. It is now only 62.7 percent, far lower
than predicted in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis. And it has
failed to meaningfully recover in the most recent years.
Economic theory and historical experience indicate economic policies are
the primary cause of both the productivity slowdown and the poorly per-
forming labor market.
High marginal tax rates,
especially those on capi- A lack of investment in new capital
tal formation and busi- equipment and software lies at the
ness enterprises, costly heart of the recent slowdown.
new labor market and
other regulations, high debt-financed government spending (largely to fund
income transfer payments), and the lack of a clear monetary strategy have
discouraged real business investment and reduced both the supply ofand
the demand forlabor.
The policy changes of the kind proposed by the Congress and the admin-
istration, if enacted, would significantly improve the economys growth
The tax reform plans propose significant reductions in marginal tax rates
on corporate income (to 20 percent or lower), reductions in marginal tax
rates on business income and earnings from work at the individual level (to
33 percent or lower), and fundamental tax reforms to limit special interest
benefits and increase employment opportunities. These proposals, if enacted,
would raise both productivity and employment and provide opportunities for
broad prosperity. These needed reforms would help turn the recent upswing

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 11
in animal spirits into a significant improvement in economic activity by
resetting long-term higher economic growth expectations.
The administrations proposed regulatory reform agendaincluding the
reinvigorated presidential effort to remove unnecessary, antiquated federal
rules, a rigorous, independent benefit-cost analysis of proposed rules, and
a regulatory directive to ensure that regulations are pro-competition, not
pro-incumbentwould further enhance economic growth by boosting net
returns to investment in physical and human capital and by reducing barri-
ers to employment.
Spending restraint, especially through legislation, along the lines proposed
in the House Budget Committees 2018 Budget Resolution, that slows the
growth in entitlement
spending is essential to
The CBOs projection of 1.8 percent achieving higher econom-
growth per year is based on a continu- ic growth. In the absence
ation of status quo policies. of spending restraint,
entitlements will cause
projected annual federal spending to increase by 60 percent in ten years.
The higher spending will cause the annual federal budget deficit to increase
to $1.4 trillion. These increases will eventually crowd out private invest-
ment and thereby act as a brake on economic growth. A comprehensive set
of changes in entitlement laws that limited the growth in federal spending
to the rate of inflation plus population growth would, in contrast, free up
resources for greater private sector investments to enhance productivity.
It is important to emphasize that tax reform and spending reductions go
hand in hand. Without significant spending restraint, even with positive
effects on economic growth, the tax rate reductions would likely be limited
and temporary, limiting their economic benefits.
Enacting this comprehensive set of economic policies is a heavy lift; as dif-
ficult a challenge as confronted policy makers in the 1980s. But the rewards
measured in terms of higher economic growth, more jobs, and improved liv-
ing standards are huge. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now projects
that absent fundamental changes in economic policies, real GDP will grow at
only 1.8 percent per year. But, as we discussed, historical experience suggests
that the economic reforms can raise both productivity growth and employ-
ment growth.
Could implementation of such a comprehensive economic plan raise the
economic growth rate to 3 percent? We believe it can. We judge that such
a policy package, in part by encouraging firms to expand by bringing new


investment to production, can help raise trend labor productivity growth to
around 2.3 percent per year in the nonfarm business economy and perhaps
higher, which translates into approximately 2 percent labor productivity
growth in terms of GDP.
With the proper set of pro-growth economic policies, our productivity
growth expectation is not overly optimistic. During the postWorld War II
era up to 2012, the ten-year average annual productivity growth rate equaled
or exceeded 2.3 percent nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of the time. From 1992
to 2012, the ten-year average annual growth rate equaled or exceeded 2.3
percent 65 percent of the time. Each of these periods contains at least one
recession and includes periods, such as the 1970s, when economic policies
were decidedly growth-defeating.
According to our estimates and those of the Obama administrations CEA,
if age-specific labor force participation rates remain at their current levels,
the aging population would cause the overall US labor force participation
rate to decline on average by 0.4 percent per year over the next decade.
Therefore, to offset this decline and attain a 1 percent growth in the size of
the overall US labor
force, age-specific labor
force participation rates We reject the view that the financial
must rise by 0.4 percent crisis made feeble economic growth
per year, or 4 percent the new normal.
over ten years.
We believe that the aforementioned policy package, if implemented, would
enable this increase to occur. In 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics pre-
dicted that the US labor force participation rate would decline from 66.2 to
65.5 from 2006 to 2016 based on its assessment of demographic changes and
trends in age-specific labor force participation rates. The actual participa-
tion rate declined to 62.8 during this period. The reduction over and above
the BLS forecast is, in our judgment, largely a consequence of anti-growth
economic policies. We judge that this policy-driven decline of 4 percent can
be reversed over the next decade by the passage and implementation of the
pro-growth policies described above.
In comparing our economic growth estimate to the CBOs current projec-
tion, it is important to keep in mind that attaining 3 percent annual GDP
growth rate is based upon enacting and implementing a package contain-
ing significant tax reform, regulatory reform, budget reform, and monetary
reform. In contrast, the CBOs economic growth projection of 1.8 percent
per year is based on a continuation of status quo policies in which tax rates

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 13
remain high and the tax code remains unreformed, the large regulatory
burden persists, and the growth in federal spending and the national debt
outpace the growth in GDP.
With this distinction in mind, the accounting differences between our
economic growth estimates and CBOs are as follows: 0.7 percentage points
of the difference is due to our judgment that labor productivity will generate
a 2 percent per year increase in GDP compared to CBOs assumption of 1.3
percent per year. As recently as 2012, CBO assumed that productivity growth
under the previous nongrowth policy environment would generate a 2
percent per year growth in GDP. The remaining 0.5 percentage points of the
difference is due to our judgment that the labor force participation rate will
remain constant compared to CBOs assumption that the labor force partici-
pation rate will decline.
Taken together, these policy changes will help reset household and busi-
ness expectations toward faster growth. Failure to enact these policies would
lead to lower incomes and smaller improvements in the standard of living
and would leave the economy closer to recession than resurgence. Moreover,
it would leave our country considerably less capable of an economic upturn
when the next recession or shock hits.

Special to the Hoover Digest.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is Healthy,

Wealthy, and Wise: Five Steps to a Better Health Care
System, second edition, by John F. Cogan, R. Glenn
Hubbard, and Daniel P. Kessler. To order, call (800)
888-4741 or visit




Good News on
The administrations tax reform proposals may
not be perfect in every particular, but they would
do what needs to be done: spur growth.

By Edward P. Lazear

resident Trumps tax outline leaves many details undefined, but
there is plenty to evaluate. The administration claims its pro-
posed changes would encourage growth and make the tax system
more efficient. History suggests they will.
Less certain is the claim that the tax cuts will pay for themselves. Although
budget concerns should always be paramount when cutting taxes, revenue
neutrality does little to guarantee that thisor anyadministration will
exercise fiscal responsibility.
Most economists favor moving away from taxing capital and toward taxing
consumption through value-added taxes (VAT) or sales taxes. Taxing capital
squelches growth because capital is mobile and can cross borders in search
of the highest risk-adjusted, after-tax return. Economists in both parties have
scored the effects of eliminating capital taxation in favor of a pure consump-
tion tax. Estimates range from a 5 percent to 9 percent total increase in
gross domestic product.

Edward P. Lazear is the Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow at the
Hoover Institution, co-chair of Hoovers Conte Initiative on Immigration Reform,
and the Jack Steele Parker Professor of Human Resources Management and Eco-
nomics at Stanford Universitys Graduate School of Business.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 15
There are a number of ways to move toward a consumption tax and reduce
taxes on capital without instituting a national sales tax or VAT. One is to low-
er tax rates on corporate profits and pass through income, as the president
proposes. Another is to
permit full expensingto
Unless were willing to accept major let companies deduct the
tax increases in the futuremost entire cost of investments
likely through a value-added taxwe immediately.
need to reduce government spending Expensing creates an
incentive for corporations
because they receive the
tax benefit only when they invest in themselves. A Treasury Department
analysis done while I was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
showed that a given dollar of tax cuts through expensing is more powerful
than rate cuts in the short run by about a factor of four.
Rate cuts, on the other hand, benefit new and old capital alike and confer
tax benefits on companies that have invested in the past. This saves compa-
nies money but provides no direct incentive for new investment. In the long
run, the distinction between expensing and rate cutting disappears because
all capital is new capital and so is taxed at the lower rate.
Tax-rate cuts on pass-through income will have additional growth effects,
but the administration hasnt released enough details to score them. Separat-
ing capital income from wage income may add some complexity, but thats
not a new problem. Defining income and profit is not straightforward. Tax
accountants already struggle to determine true costs, including business
owners implicit wages.
State and local taxes might no longer be deductible under Trumps plan.
Much has been said about the cross-subsidization of high-tax states such as
New York and California by low-tax states such as Florida and Texas. Remov-
ing this deduction would mean that overall federal personal income-tax rates
can be lower and generate the same revenue. Beyond that, there is a subtle
and positive growth effect of eliminating state tax deductions.
The deductibility of state taxes provides incentives to raise overall taxes
at the state level. Californians and New Yorkers bear only part of the cost of
their tax increases; the rest is passed on to other states taxpayers through
the deduction. This leads state governments to overtax their citizens, result-
ing in economic distortions and reduced overall growth.
Tax cuts enacted through the Senates budget-reconciliation process must
sunset after ten years, although this may not be the roadblock to lasting


reform that it seems. Recall that the Bush tax cuts of 2001 had the same
sunset provisions, but most are still in effect. Congress renewed them in 2010
and againapart from those on the highest earners ratesin 2012.
The Trump administrations plan may get the economy about halfway to a
pure consumption tax. That could generate a GDP gain of between 2.5 per-
cent and 4.5 percent. In 2016, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that
corporate income-tax payments were $415 billion, or about 12 percent of federal
tax receipts. Rate cuts that spurred 4 percent growth would generate total tax
revenues of about $120 billionassuming no other tax reductionswhich is not
quite enough to offset the loss of income to the government. Cutting individual
income taxes makes the revenue-neutrality task more difficult because personal
tax-rate cuts do not generate the same growth effect as rate cuts on capital.
The net effect of the proposed corporate tax cuts would be to increase the
deficit by about 0.5 percent of GDP. This is significant, but revenue neutral-
ity should not be the standard by which a tax plan is judged. Even revenue-
neutral tax changes do not solve our budgetary problems. The CBO projects
growing deficits, exceeding 7 percent of GDP annually, in two decades.
Unless we are willing to accept major tax increases in the futuremost
likely through the introduction of a VATwe will need to reduce government
spending significantly to narrow the gap. This means re-examining entitle-
ments, particularly Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs. Even
a revenue-neutral tax reform plan would not come close to achieving fiscal
The strongest argument in favor of the Trump administrations plan is that
it moves in the right direction on capital taxation and will achieve growth.
Because there is a direct connection among GDP growth, productivity
growth, and wage growth, the Trump proposals would help raise incomes
and thereby benefit Americans overall.

Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2017 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Rules for

International Monetary Stability: Past, Present,
and Future, edited by Michael D. Bordo and John B.
Taylor. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 17


Rates, Revenues,
and Rhetoric
Dont blame deficits on tax cuts for the rich
those cuts tend to actually boost revenues. Blame
runaway spending.

By Thomas Sowell

ne of the painful realities of our times is how long a political lie
can survive, even after having been disproved years ago, even
generations ago.
A classic example is the phrase tax cuts for the rich, which
is loudly proclaimed by opponents whenever there is a proposal to reduce
tax rates. The current proposal to reduce federal tax rates has revived this
phrase, which was disproved by facts as far back as the 1920sand by now
should be called tax lies for the gullible.
How is the claim of tax cuts for the rich false? Let me count the ways.
More important, you can easily check out the facts for yourself with a simple
visit to your local public library or, for those more computer-minded, on the
One of the key arguments of those who oppose what they call tax cuts for
the rich is that the Reagan administration tax cuts led to huge federal gov-
ernment deficits, contrary to supply side economics which said that lower
tax rates would lead to higher tax revenues.

Thomas Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy
at the Hoover Institution.


This reduces the whole issue to a question about factsand the hard
facts are available in many places, including a local public library or on the
The hardest of these hard facts is that the revenues collected from federal
income taxes during every year of the Reagan administration were higher
than the revenues collected from federal income taxes during any year of any
previous administration.
How can that be? Because tax rates and tax revenues are two different
things. Tax rates and tax revenues can move in either the same direction or
in opposite directions, depending on how the economy responds.
But why should you
take my word for it
that federal income tax Theres no amount of money that
revenues were higher Congress cannot outspend.
than before during the
Reagan administration? Check it out.
Official statistics are available in many places. The easiest way to find
those statistics is to go look at a copy of the annual Economic Report of the
President. It doesnt have to be the latest report under President Trump. It
can be a report from any administration, from the Obama administration all
the way back to the administration of the elder George Bush.
Each annual Economic Report of the President has the history of federal
revenues and expenditures, going back for decades. And that is just one of
the places where you can get these data. The truth is readily available, if you
want it. But if you are satisfied with political rhetoric, so be it.
Before we turn to the question of the rich, lets first understand the impli-
cations of higher income tax revenues after income tax rates were cut during
the Reagan administration.
That should have put an end to the talk about how lower tax rates
reduce government revenues and therefore tax cuts need to be paid for
or else there will be rising deficits. There were in fact rising deficits in
the 1980s, but that was due to spending that outran even the rising tax
Congress does the spending, and there is no amount of money that Con-
gress cannot outspend. As for the rich, higher-income taxpayers paid
morerepeat, moretax revenues into the federal treasury under the lower
tax rates than they had under the previous higher tax rates.
That happened not only during the Reagan administration, but also during
the Coolidge administration and the Kennedy administration before Reagan,

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 19
and under the G. W. Bush administration after Reagan. All these administra-
tions cut tax rates and received higher tax revenues than before.
More than that, the rich not only paid higher total tax revenues after
the so-called tax cuts for the rich, they also paid a higher percentage of all
tax revenues afterwards. Data on this can be found in a number of places,
including documented sources listed in my monograph titled Trickle Down
Theory and Tax Cuts for the Rich.
As a source more congenial to some, a front-page story in the New York
Times on July 9, 2006during the Bush 43 administrationreported, An
unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is
driving down the projected budget deficit this year. Expectations, of course,
are in the eye of the beholder.

Reprinted by permission of Creators Syndicate (

2017 Creators Syndicate Inc. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is Is

Reality Optional? And Other Essays, by Thomas
Sowell. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.




Tyrants Like
Unity, Too
Americas founders accepted the perennial
clash of interests and passionsin fact, they
welcomed it. What they feared was unity: the unity
of a people under a demagogue or a domineering

By Bruce S. Thornton

hanksgiving Day will elicit the customary calls for unity and
healing. Last year, after a divisive and bitterly fought presi-
dential election, several pundits referenced Abraham Lincolns
wish to heal the wounds of the nation, which he articulated
in the speech instituting Thanksgiving Day in 1863. Donald Trump echoed
this idea last year in his Thanksgiving address, saying, Its my prayer that
on this Thanksgiving, we begin to heal our divisions and move forward
as one country, strengthened by shared purpose and very, very common
Nice sentiments all, but one hopes they are merely feel-good rhetoric
typical of the holidays. For as comforting as they are for some, these words
reflect a misunderstanding of our political order and the foundational ideas
behind the Constitution. Except in times of war or other national crisis,

Bruce S. Thornton is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a member of

Hoovers Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict,
and a professor of classics and humanities at California State University, Fresno.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 21
national unity and healing divisions frightened the founders, for unity
historically has been the precondition of tyranny.
The founders knew that the thirteen colonies were diverse in their inter-
ests, religions, regions, folkways, and cultures. Modern diversicrats have long
peddled the notion that Revolutionary-era Americans were all white males
unified and defined by the same interests and beliefs. Such superficial racial
categories were politically important mainly when the issue was race-based
slavery. But the peoples who created the United States were otherwise not so
shallow and simplistic. They realized that confessional, regional, economic,
and class divisions were significant and potentially dangerous, for they are
often zero-sum in their pursuit and practice and can lead to fragmenta-
tion and violence. The Civil War was the gruesome proof that this fear was
Moreover, the diversity of interests and passions could never be eradicat-
ed, for it reflected a flawed human nature vulnerable to ambition, greed, and
the desire for power. James Madison called the political instruments of this
diversity factions and said they were sown in the nature of man. Hence
the checks and balances and divided powers of the Constitution were the
solution to the danger of a faction becoming too powerful and inciting politi-
cal disorder and threats to freedom.
In addition to the mixed federal government, federalism, which acknowl-
edged the sovereign powers of the states that created the federal govern-
ment, would be another check on factionalism. Clashing interests and
concerns would be adjudicated by state governments, which would be more
familiar with local conditions and interests, and thus better placed to create
policies more suited to them.


Most important, the thirteen sovereign state governments would be a check
on the aggrandizement of power by any combination of factions, whether
elite or populist. Given the variety of state interests, Madison wrote, this
diversity would grant a greater security afforded by a greater variety of
parties, against the event of any party being able to outnumber and oppress
the rest. This diversity would also impose greater obstacles opposed to the
concert and accomplishment of the secret wishes of an unjust and interested
majority. Hence such attempts to acquire a critical mass of power will be
unable to spread a general conflagration through the other states because
of the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of [the nation]. Thus
liberty will be preserved, and diversity protected by creating in the states


[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]
numerous diverse alternatives for citizens who find any particular state hos-
tile to their interests or beliefs.
America thus managed factional diversity so that differences were respect-
ed and no faction could dominate the rest. No group could endanger the
freedom and rights of either individual or state.
In the late nineteenth century, the Progressives began to dismantle this
brilliant solution. Contrary to the founders, Progressives believed that
human nature was not
constant, but could be
Except in times of war or other improved by new sci-
national crisis, national unity and ences like sociology, eco-
healing divisions alarmed Ameri- nomics, and psychology.
Government technocrats
cas founders.
possessing this knowledge
could better manage the nation than the fragmented state governments and
a diverse people.
Such a national government requires a more powerful president and
proliferating executive agencies and bureaus. As Woodrow Wilson said with
his usual false Darwinian analogies, government is a living, organic thing,
and must, like every other government, work out the close synthesis of active
parts, which exists only when leadership is lodged in some one man or group
of men. The president then must be the unifying force in our complex sys-
tem, the leader both of his party and of the nation.
So much for the Constitutions separation and balance of powers founded
on a distrust of concentrated power that is vulnerable to the flaws of human


Two other developments were necessary for the Progressive dismantling of the
constitutional order. The first was to diminish the competing sovereign powers
of the states, codified in the Tenth Amendment, that could check an overween-
ing executive and its agencies. The first assault, as Justice Antonin Scalia said
in one of his last public speeches, was the Seventeenth Amendment, which
allowed voters rather than state legislatures to select senators. Given the
powers of the Senate to try impeached government officials, confirm executive
appointments, and approve international treaties, this shift was a great blow to
the power and influence of state governments over the executive branch.
Next, Progressives redefined the people. The founders confronted flesh-
and-blood peoples extremely various in their interests, mores, and religious


beliefs. They acted as a whole only when they ratified the Constitution or
constitutional amendments, or when the nation was attacked by an enemy.
Otherwise, individuals and communities worked politically through their
local and state governments, which understand local conditions and so can
create policies respecting that diversity.
The Progressives, on the other hand, created an abstract, collective peo-
ple, one homogenized and unified according to interests and aims as defined
by the new techno-political elites. In 1912 Wilson imagined future political
architects and engineers who would create a political order where men
can live as a single community, co-operative as in a perfected, coordinated
beehive. Like tyrants and kings throughout history, progressives seek to
minimize, co-opt, or eliminate mediating institutions like the states, busi-
nesses, civil society, churches, and the family, the sites of Americas diverse
interests and beliefs. They prefer to deal directly with the homogenized
masses. Thus many progressives today believe that the states, our most
powerful check on centralized power, are relics of the past and artificially
constructed geographic entities, as Lawrence Samuel recently wrote in the
Washington Post.
Of course, a unified people needs a more expansive and powerful federal
government to shepherd it. The interests of such a people, as first Progres-
sive president Theo-
dore Roosevelt put it in
1912, can be guarded Madison said factions were sown
effectively only by in the nature of man. But checks
the national govern- and balances counteract the secret
ment. The betterment
wishes of an unjust and interested
which we seek must be
accomplished, I believe,
through the national government. But in a nation of such complex diversity,
who gets to define these unified interests and to judge which policies lead
to betterment? And on what evidence are the local and state governments
or civil societycloser to the great variety of the American people, and more
accountable to them than are distant, anonymous executive bureaucrats
unable to define and manage these interests?


The founders saw Americas remarkable diversity as both a threat and a
strength. The threat was reduced by the new federal government and its
limited powers that federalism and mixed government checked and balanced.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 25
The diversity was honored by devolving decisions that most affected peoples
lives to the most local level possible. In this way the founders assuaged their
greatest fear: concentrated power, whether in a majority or a minority, that
inevitably becomes tyrannical.
Unfortunately, the progressive vision of unity has become a reflex even
among many conservatives. But we dont need to be unified or have our divi-
sions healed to solve our problems.
The peoples and regions of our nation are still various and diverse, and 325
million people are not going to share a common purpose outside of defend-
ing ourselves from an enemy. What we do need is to reduce the bloated
power of the federal gov-
ernment by renewing fed-
Woodrow Wilson dreamed of a politi- eralism, making the states
cal order designed by technocrats and again the laboratories
resembling a perfected, coordinated of democracy, returning
beehive. power to the level closest
to the people, and recom-
mitting ourselves to the Constitution, the most important unum for all of
us pluribus. Thats how we can regain the one thing we all share and should
always be most grateful forour political freedom and autonomy.

Reprinted by permission of FrontPage Magazine. 2017 All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is

Democracys Dangers and Discontents: The Tyranny
of the Majority from the Greeks to Obama, by Bruce S.
Thornton. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.




Death by a
Thousand Paper
Bloated, overpowerful, inefficient: the regulatory
state drags down the economy and undermines
the rule of law.

By Adam J. White

Hoover research fellow Adam J. White was invited to testify before the Senate
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on the subject of regulation.
Here are excerpts of what he said.

hank you for inviting me to testify today on an issue of such
immediate national importance: the modern administrative
states heavy burdens on the American people and American
businesses. This has been a subject of particularly intense
national debate in recent years, in a variety of forums: in Congress; in agency
proceedings; on the presidential campaign trail; and even in the Supreme
Court and other federal courts.
Indeed, President Obama diagnosed this problem candidly six years
ago in his 2011 executive order directing agencies to reduce their regula-
tory burdens. Our regulatory system must protect public health, welfare,
safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation,

Adam J. White is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 27
competitiveness, and job creation, he said. To that end, agencies must pro-
mote predictability and reduce uncertainty and must identify and use the
best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory
ends. And because some sectors and industries face a significant number
of regulatory requirements, some of which may be redundant, inconsis-
tent, or overlapping,
President Obama further
Regulatory burdens fall dispropor- recognized that greater
tionately on small businesses, the coordination across agen-
very businesses were counting on to cies could reduce these
spur a broad economic recovery. requirements, thus reduc-
ing costs and simplifying
and harmonizing rules, and so he directed the agencies to promote coordi-
nation, simplification, and harmonization and to identify, as appropriate,
means to achieve regulatory goals that are designed to promote innovation.
The failures and errors of todays administrative state are not simply
problems of public administration. More fundamentally, todays administra-
tive state is a profound failure of republican self-governance under a Consti-
tution of limited federal powers. As Chief Justice Roberts observed recently,
The administrative state wields vast power and touches almost every aspect
of daily life. . . . The framers could hardly have envisioned todays vast and
varied federal bureaucracy and the authority administrative agencies now
hold over our economic, social, and political activities. . . . The administrative
state with its reams of regulations would leave them rubbing their eyes.
But however true and important such statements from the executive and
judicial branches are, it is even more important for these matters to be dis-
cussed here in the first branchfor Congress truly is the primary source of
the modern administrative state. While the executive branch instills energy
in the myriad federal agencies, and the judicial branchs deferential habits
have for decades facilitated the agencies expansive assertions of power, the
legislative branch bears ultimate responsibility for empowering agencies and,
when necessary, reining them back in.
As the Supreme Court once observed, an agency literally has no power
to act . . . unless and until Congress confers power upon it. Congress has
conferred immense power on the agenciesand over the past century it has
often legislated such grants in words so capacious that the agencies have
found great success securing judicial deference to regulators unabashed
reach for even greater powers well beyond Congresss original intentions. By
the same token, it must fall to Congress to reform those grants of power to


reflect the modern administrative, legal, economic, social, and technological


Much of the cost of regulationsin billions or trillions of dollars, or in
thousands of pages of regulations, or in countless hours dedicated to compli-
ance with all of the regulationsis evident in myriad reports by scholars and
policy analysts studying regulatory burdens.
But before turning to some of the legal and policy reforms needed to allevi-
ate those regulatory burdens, I think it is important to stress one of the most
regrettable and regressive aspects of those burdens: they fall disproportion-
ately on small businesses, precisely the businesses on whom the nation is
counting to spur a wide-reaching economic recovery.
I came to see this firsthand in my time as a practicing lawyer. Before I
joined the Hoover Institution, my law-firm colleagues and I were hired as co-
counsel to a small community bank from Big Spring, Texas, in a federal law-
suit challenging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureaus unprecedented
(and, we argued, unconstitutional) structure. We saw the immense costs that
our client was bearing from the CFPBs aggressive regulatory agenda, but we
also saw that bigger banks found the regulatory burdens much more sus-
tainable. In fact, the biggest banks did not hesitate to boast that regulatory
burdens were the big banks competitive advantage. The CEO of JPMorgan
Chase told analysts in 2013 that new financial regulations could serve as the
moat that would make
the industry (in the
analysts words) more Todays administrative state is a pro-
expensive and tend to
found failure of republican self-gover-
make it tougher for
nance under a Constitution of limited
smaller players to enter
the market. Goldman federal powers.
Sachss CEO made the
same point two years later. More intense regulatory and technology require-
ments have raised the barriers to entry higher than at any other time in mod-
ern history, he told an investor conference. This is an expensive business
to be in, if you dont have the market share in scale. Consider the numerous
business exits that have been announced by our peers as they reassessed
their competitive positioning and relative returns.
And the facts suggest that Jamie Dimons and Lloyd Blankfeins predictions
were well founded. As the Mercatus Center, AEI, and others have reported,

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 29
the years since Dodd-Frank have witnessed significant consolidation in the
banking industry, as community banks give up and merge. While community
banks and financial regulation fall outside of this committees jurisdiction,
the lessons that that industry has learned from Dodd-Frank should inform
regulatory reform across industries.
Another example I witnessed firsthand hits closer to this committees
home. Before I joined the Hoover Institution, my law-firm colleagues and
I became counsel to parties challenging the FCCs orders establishing the
unprecedented broadcast spectrum incentive auction, in which the FCC
would conduct a reverse auction
to buy back spectrum usage
rights from licensees, then
reorganize the available
spectrum, and finally auc-
tion spectrum usage rights
back to the public for

[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]


new nontelevision uses. In the Spectrum Act, which Congress legislated to
authorize the FCC to undertake an incentive auction, Congress took care to
expressly protect the spectrum usage rights of low-power television (LPTV)
stations, which tend to broadcast for religious or ethnic communities that
would otherwise go unserved by major broadcasters. Specifically, Congress
provided in the Spectrum Act that nothing in this subsection shall be con-
strued to alter the spectrum usage rights of low-power television stations.
But the FCC radically reinterpreted that provision to presume that LPTV
stations actually have no spectrum usage rights that prevent the FCC from
unilaterally taking away their licenses without compensation, even when the
LPTV stations broadcasts have not interfered with the broadcasts of other
licensees; and the DC Circuit ultimately affirmed the FCCs interpretation of
what the court held to be ambiguous statutory language. That regrettable
outcomewhich threatens to force the shutdown of many LPTV
stations, by the FCCs own admissionhighlights another

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 31
major disadvantage that smaller companies face in the regulatory context:
when Congress legislates in broad terms, it gives regulators much more
discretion to impose their own policy preferences with the added benefit of
significant judicial deference. In that context, small companies are left to
fend for themselves in agency proceedings, where they enjoy far fewer of the
resources and tools wielded by their much larger competitors.
Thus, for all the talk today of economic inequalityof structural biases
that systematically benefit the richest instead of the poorestI would urge
you to keep in mind the modern problem of regulatory inequality: the
structural biases that systematically benefit the biggest businesses, who fare
much better before federal regulators than their smaller competitors do.
Let me now offer a few general suggestions for regulatory reform.


As I noted, one of the major challenges of modern administration is that
Congress long ago delegated regulatory power to administrative agencies
in astonishingly broad terms. And todays administrative agencies rely on
those open-ended statutory authorizations to justify regulatory programs far
beyond anything that the past Congresses could have expected.
The FCC, for example, formulated an unprecedented assertion of regulato-
ry power over broadband Internet service providersthe Orwellian-named
Open Internet Order, often called net neutralitybased on not just the
decades-old Telecommunications Act of 1996 but also the eighty-year-old
Communications Act of
1934. Using old terms of
The legislative branch bears ultimate art, such as the public
responsibility for empowering agen- interest or public conve-
cies and, when necessary, pulling nience and necessity, that
them back in. long ago came unmoored
from their originally
understood meanings and contexts, the FCC and other agencies use these
vague grants of power to impose the policies of their own choosing, and judi-
cial deference to the agencies interpretations of these ambiguous statutes
gives the agencies immense discretion to do so.
In that context, there is little or no law constraining the agencies or
anchoring the agencies to Congresss original mandatesand thus the regu-
lated public and companies must fend for themselves in the agency process.
While the agency process itself (under the antiquated Administrative
Procedure Act of 1946) desperately needs reform, the most important


reform will be for Congress to modernize and reform the statutes delegat-
ing power to the agencies in the first place. Only by updating old statutes
to more accurately reflect Congresss intent, in light of modern economic,
social, and regulatory realities, can Congress sustainably reform the costs
of regulation. The point
is not to end regulation,
but rather (as President When Congress legislates broadly, it
Obama observed in his gives regulators much more discre-
aforementioned execu- tion to impose their own policy prefer-
tive order) to protect
public health, welfare,
safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation,
competitiveness, and job creation, to promote predictability and reduce
uncertainty, and to identify and use the best, most innovative, and least
burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends.
Congress should take up President Obamas own challenge to the agen-
cies, and reform regulatory programs that are redundant, inconsistent,
or overlapping. While it may fall to other parts of Congress to take the
lead on reforming the Administrative Procedure Act and other parts of
administrative law, it falls squarely within this committees jurisdiction to
take the lead on reforming the statutes that empower federal agencies in
the first place.


I am proud to serve on the leadership council of the American Bar Asso-
ciations Administrative Law Section. Before last years presidential
election, the council drafted a report to the president-elect of the United
States that suggested many important reforms to undertake in the next
four years to improve the administrative process. We urged the next
president to require agencies to regularly conduct retrospective review
to calculate the costs imposed by old regulations, to calculate the benefits
produced by those regulations, and to compare those results to the agen-
cies original forecasts.
This was not an original or radical idea. President Obama called on his
agencies to conduct such retrospective reviews in his Executive Order
13563, and again (for independent agencies) in Executive Order 13579.
His Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) administrator,
Cass Sunstein, sent the agencies a memorandum further explaining how
the agencies should conduct such reviews. And the vaunted Administrative

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 33
Conference of the United States (ACUS) has also recommended that agen-
cies undertake retrospective reviews; indeed, ACUS has reported on the
significant benefits that agencies have reaped from reviewing their own
past work.
My fellow reformers often promote retrospective review as a tool for iden-
tifying and repealing outdated or counterproductive regulations. And while
that is a benefit of retrospective review, its not the most important benefit.
Retrospective reviews biggest benefit is actually forward-looking. That is,
by forcing agencies to look back at their previous rule makings and analyze
their costs and benefits today, the administration would force agencies and
the public to confront how accurate or inaccurate the agencies own projec-
tions were in forecasting the rules impacts in the first place.
As scholars and policy analysts often observe, agencies forecasts of costs
and benefits are woefully inaccurate. Former OIRA administrator Susan
Dudley colorfully described agencies tendency to perpetuate puffery by
exaggerating rules benefits and understating their costs. Shes not alone in
making these claims. In testimony last year before the Senate Committee on
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory
Affairs and Federal Management, I cited several other reports criticizing
agencies for haphazard analysis. And as Resources for the Futures scholars
observed a few years ago, independent agencies cost-benefit analyses are
especially questionable.
Whatever the reason for the underwhelming quality of agencies predictive
analyses, retrospective review offers a useful antidote. By forcing agencies to
go back and review their work, under the publics watchful eye, agencies may
learn from their mistakes,
identify biases and blind
By forcing agencies to review their spots, and thus become
work, under the publics watchful eye, more modest and less
agencies may learn from their mis- prejudiced in their predic-
tions and policy prefer-
takes, identify biases and blind spots,
ences. Once agencies are
and learn humility.
made to grapple seriously
with the ways in which their rules actual impacts resemble or depart from
the agencies original predictions, those agencies should demonstrate greater
epistemic modesty in making new predictions next time.
This is one of the major lessons to be found in Superforecasting, the
acclaimed 2015 book by Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner, drawn from the
authors decades of close study of forecasters. Reflecting on the experience


of the national intelligence agencies, Tetlock and Gardner urge that forecast-
ers should keep score of their predictive successes and failures and should
be held meaningfully accountableand, they say, meaningful accountability
requires more than getting upset when something goes awry. It requires
systemic tracking of accuracy.
Agencies need this advice as much as anyone. Agencies are in the predic-
tion business. The public interest depends upon the agencies becoming as
accurate as possible in making those predictions. Retrospective review
institutionalized, rigorous retrospective reviewis indispensable toward
that goal. Only once agencies are forced to confront their own predictive
successes and failures will they learn to be more modest in future regula-
tory proceedingsand only then will the regulatory process become more
transparent, more honest, more open-minded, and less dominated by the
unconscious (or conscious) biases of regulators.

Modern regulation places immense compliance burdens on American busi-
nesses. Some of those burdens are unavoidable: companies must take the
time and effort to identify whether their operations and services comply
with the law, and then they must explain themselves to federal regula-
tors. And then federal agencies must labor to review and react to all that
But much of todays compliance burdenon the regulators and regulated
alikeis utterly unnecessary. Todays technology offers significant oppor-
tunities to reform and improve federal regulatory compliance, eliminating
myriad redundancies and automating submission of compliance data. The
Data Coalition, a trade group, highlighted these opportunities in a December
2016 preview of forthcoming research paper on Standard Business Report-
ing. The Data Coalition argues that if federal agencies would reform their
regulatory compliance frameworks to rely more on standardized, freely avail-
able data (also known as open data), then companies regulatory compli-
ance costs would be reduced.
And, the Data Coalition further observed, a shift to open data would cut
the agencies own costs by allowing the agencies to review, analyze, and
share compliance data much more efficiently. This would help alleviate some
of the most significant burdens on the agencies own budgetsand, thus,
on Congresss budget, and on the taxpayers. The Data Coalition points to
the experience of Australia, which moved to embrace Standard Business
Reporting in recent years, and which claimed to have reduced compliance

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 35
burdens on both the government and the regulated public by more than $1
billion in 201516.
Of course, there are limits on the extent to which regulatory compliance
can be automated; compliance often requires nuanced judgments that cannot
be reduced to raw data. But to the extent that compliance does depend on
regulated people and companies submitting raw data, it is incumbent upon
Congress to help promote a modernized, streamlined approach to regulatory
Todays administrative agencies should use twenty-first-century technol-
ogy to administer twenty-first-century statutes, not 1990s technology to
administer 1930s statutes.

Special to the Hoover Digest.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is Central

Bank Governance and Oversight Reform, edited by
John H. Cochrane and John B. Taylor. To order, call
(800) 888-4741 or visit




The Once and

Future Internet
The man trying to scrap net neutrality
government oversight of the Internethas a
distinct vision of digital progress. He also has
angry protesters outside his house. A profile of
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai.

By Tunku Varadarajan

rotesters from the far-left group Popular Resistance have
swarmed the Arlington, Virginia, street where Ajit Pai lives,
placing pamphlets with his face on his neighbors front doors.
Have you seen this man? the flyers ask, stating that PaiAge
44 / Height 6'1" / Weight 200is trying to destroy net neutrality. Pai is
chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and the activists, not
without perverse humor, describe their picketing of his home as Ajit-ation.
They were there yesterday, Pai tells me in his office at the FCC, in uncool
Southwest Washington. I understand theyll be there today. Theyll be there
tomorrow and the day after. Its a hassle, especially for my wife and my two young
children. The activists, he adds, come up to our front windows and take photo-
graphs of the inside of the house. My kids are five and three. Its not pleasant.
Few phrases in the English language are dowdier than net neutrality.
Yet the passions the two words arouse are so intense that the earnest, nerdy

Tunku Varadarajan is the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Research Fellow at the

Hoover Institution.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 37
Paihis hair crew-cut, his smile somewhat
goofyis among the Trump administra-
tion officials most loathed by the left. That
hatred was consolidated last spring when
Pais FCC voted 2-1 to begin the process
of scrapping the Obama administra-
tions net-neutrality regulations.
Coined in 2003 by legal
scholar Tim Wu, net


neutrality has come to mean government oversight of the Internet aimed at pro-
tecting the consumer from exploitation by Internet service providers. In Febru-
ary 2015, under the incongruously named Open Internet Order, the Obama FCC
overturned nearly two decades of precedent for treating the Internet as a largely
unregulated information service. Instead the FCC reclassified it as a telecom-
munication service. Having done so, the commission asserted the authority to
regulate the internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of
1934, which was enacted, Pai never tires of saying, to deal with Ma Bell, the
telephone monopoly.
I ask Pai whether it would make sense for those who oppose net neutrality
to choose different language and push back against the phrase. He chuckles
and says, I havent tended to use it much. In an April speech at the News-
eum laying out his plans, Pai did not utter the term even once. Its certainly
one of the more seductive marketing slogans ever attached to a public policy
issue, he says. Theres no question that seeming to be against neutrality is
a very difficult default position.
So how would he explain the idea? A more accurate way to call it, I
think, is Internet regulation, he replies, because the essential question
is whether we want it to be governed by technologists and engineers and
businesspeople, as it was under the light-touch approach during the Clinton
administration, or by government lawyers and bureaucrats here in Washing-
ton. In Pais view, the choice is a free and open Internet versus Title II.


Pai was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1973 to two physicians from the Kon-
kani community of southwestern India who had had an arranged marriage
and moved to the United States. My dad was a resident urologist at a
Bombay hospital, he says, and one of his patients was my moms aunt, who
was the matchmaker. From Buffalo they moved to Canada, and thence to
Parsons, Kansas, a town of ten thousand whose county hospital had vacan-
cies for both a urologist and an anesthesiologist (his mothers specialty).
They have lived and practiced there since 1977.
I ask Pai about his school days and wondersuccumbing briefly to
stereotypeif he won any spelling bees. I did, as a matter of fact,
he says jauntily. I won a grade-school spelling bee. And

[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]

H O O V E R D IG E S T FALL 2017 39
then I was in the county bee and lost on the word discord. I was very upset,
because Id just read Norton Justers The Phantom Tollbooth, and theres a
character called Doctor Dischord. (Pai refers to Kakofonous A. Dischord, who
loves unpleasant sounds.) Having just read the book, I thought, Oh, that must
be the way its spelled in
real life, not realizing it
The infrastructure of the Internet was a play on words. Its
isnt like slow-moving utilities. Its not amusing, I observe, given
a water company. this little bit of history,
that Pai is today the source
of so much discord. He responds with a poker face. I did eventually recover,
and my career wasnt forever sullied by my failure to spell that word.
As Pai travels around the country, he is greeted with the same refrain.
The number one issue that I hear about is that people want better, faster,
cheaper Internet access, he says. They want access, period. To me, at least,
thats the question the FCC should be squarely focused on: what is the regula-
tory framework that will maximize the incentives of every company to deploy
the next generation of networks?
In his speech at the Newseum, Pai noted that Title II regulation was
weighing down investment in broadband. Among our nations twelve larg-
est Internet service providers, he told the audience, domestic broadband
capital expenditures decreased by 5.6 percent, or $3.6 billion, between 2014
and 2016. I ask him to elaborate. As Ive seen it and heard it, he says,
Title II regulations have stood in the way of investment. Just last week, for
instance, we heard from nineteen municipal broadband providers. These are
small, government-owned ISPs who told us that even though we lack a profit
motive, Title II has affected the way we do business.
The small ISPs reported that Title II was preventing them from rolling out
new services and deepening their networks. These are the kinds of companies
that we want to provide a competitive alternative in the marketplace, Pai says.
It seems to me theyre the canaries in the coal mine. If the smaller companies
are telling us that the regulatory overhang is too much, that it hangs like a black
cloud over our businessesas twenty-two separate ISPs told us three weeks
agothen it seems to me theres a problem here that needs to be solved.
This gets at the fundamental reason, in Pais view, why treating the Inter-
net as a utility is so harmful. We need massive investment in networks going
forward, he says. The infrastructure of the Internet isnt like slow-moving
utilities. Its not a water company. There are a number of ISPs, big and
small4,400 of them.


Besides, Americans werent living in a digital dystopia before the FCC
imposed net-neutrality rules. Theres a reason why, in the Clinton adminis-
tration, the Bush administration, and the first six years of the Obama admin-
istration, we had this light-touch approach, Pai says. It was thought that
was the best way to calibrate the public interest. I think they were proven
right by the digital economy that we had up to that point.
One of the fundamental misunderstandings of applying Title II regula-
tion to the Internet, he says, is the belief that theres a dichotomy between
the market and the consumer. To me, at least, markets and market-oriented
policies have delivered far more value to the consumer than pre-emptive
regulation ever has. Theres a reason why we had an Internet economy that
was the envy of the world for the better part of twenty years.
Slapping on pre-emptive Depression-era regulations creates serious
unintended consequences. Rather than treat every ISP as a presumptive
monopolist and declare the entire market anticompetitive, Pai says the gov-
ernment should let the marketplace develop, unfettered by federal and state
regulation, and take action against anticompetitive conduct as the facts and
laws warrant. Net neutrality advocates want to reverse that. The entire
predicate of government
regulation should be
that there is, or is highly Few phrases in the English language
likely to be, a fundamen- are dowdier than net neutrality. Yet
tal market failure that the passions those two words arouse
warrants pre-emptive are intense.
regulation. Thats a sine
qua non, he adds. But there was no evidence of that in 2015. The hypotheti-
cal harms that were discussed were exactly that: hypothetical.


Where does the political impulse to treat the Internet as a utility come from?
Pai pauses before responding. I think there are two different impulses at
play, he says. First, some people see a market that isnt heavily regulated
as one thats effectively the Wild West, in which consumers are at the mercy
of any company that offers services in that space. The second reason flows
from the psychology of language: People have a tendency to conflate the
importance of something in their lives with the actual word utility.
As an undergraduate at Harvard, Pai majored in social studies, immersing
himself in Durkheim, Freud, Marx, andhis favoriteTocqueville. It was
in college that he got his first taste of economics. I had the pleasure, he

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 41
says, of studying under Martin Feldstein, who taught the basic economics
course. At the same time he decided he was a Republican: Throughout high
school, I was a fairly determined Democrat. But studying economics played
a big part in my change. It seemed to me that the Republicans had the better
of the argument on economic matters.
Then it was on to law school at the University of Chicago. Pai learned a
great deal from the decidedly liberal Cass Sunstein, who taught administra-
tive law. I found him fascinating, Pai recalls, because even though he and
I disagreedand disagreeon the merits of a particular kind of regulatory
philosophy, I loved the way he teased out what the administrative process
was designed to do, and whether it makes sense to have expert agencies that
are given deference, or whether we want the courts second-guessing their
decisions. Pai stresses that the FCCs pending decision to scrap Title II
ought to receive judicial deferenceknown in the business as Chevron def-
erence, after a 1984 Supreme Court decision that held courts should defer to
regulators reasonable interpretations of ambiguous statutes.
For a period ending in August, the FCCs proposed net-neutrality reversal
was open to public comment. If recent events offer any taste of the future,
Pai can expect a great deal of turbulence. The news-comedian John Oliver
pilloried him mercilessly in a recent segment, calling on his millions of view-
ers to express their discontent on the FCCs website. The site crashed.
I ask whether another public outcry could make his job hellwith sites
crashing, social media pouring forth abuse (one tweeter demanded he go
back to Africa), and even more activists picketing him at home and work.
Can the FCC chairman live with all the hullabaloo? I suppose thats a risk,
Pai says, but its a risk Im willing to take. At the end of the day, Im not going
to be intimidated. No one is going to sway me away from the course that I
truly believe is the right one for the American people.

Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2017 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is The

Illusion of Net Neutrality: Political Alarmism,
Regulatory Creep, and the Real Threat to Internet
Freedom, by Robert Zelnick and Eva Zelnick. To order,
call (800) 888-4741 or visit




Universal, state-managed coverage would be even
worse than the current systemwhich, under
ObamaCare, is bad enough.

By Richard A. Epstein

he United States faces another crisis Key points
in organizing its health care system. The failures of
Its clear that the private exchanges the Affordable
Care Act suggest a
concocted under the Obama admin-
government take-
istration are failing at a record rate for the simple over of health care
reason that they violate all known sound principles would be an even
worse failure.
of insurance.
Those who created these programs unwisely health care
thought that universal coverage would overcome obliterates price
signals and stifles
the standard insurance problems of adverse selec-
tion and moral hazard. But that didnt happen.
Rigid ideo-
Under the ObamaCare plans, insurers are allowed logical positions
to compete only on the cost of providing a fixed interfere with true
set of government packages of mandated services.

Richard A. Epstein is the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover
Institution and a member of the steering committee for Hoovers Working Group
on Intellectual Property, Innovation, and Prosperity. He is also the Laurence A.
Tisch Professor of Law at New York University Law School and a senior lecturer
at the University of Chicago.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 43
They have no power to select their own customers or to charge those cus-
tomers rates sufficient to cover insurance expenses. People are allowed to
game the system by signing up just before they need treatment, only to leave
once treatment is received. The young dump plans that require them to pay
for the insurance of the old.
The old sign
up in

[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]


droves. And insurers are unwisely limited in what they can spend on admin-
istrative expenses, which limits their ability to recruit new customers or
monitor the behavior of their existing ones.
The failure of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was predictable before the
ink was dry on the page. But now that the results are in, too many people
think that the cure for excessive government regulation is the complete
takeover of the health care marketin the form of a single-payer system
under which the government provides the financing for all health care,
effectively ending the private provision of these services. One notable effort
to defend this position comes from the economist Robert Frank, who takes
the heroic view that single payer can provide an equal level of health care at
lower costs, making it a bargain for the public as a whole. Unfortunately, his
analysis is riddled with errors. The program has thus far proved to be a non-
starter in the states, those laboratories of democracy. Places like California,
Colorado, and Vermont have gagged at the huge prospective costs of putting
a single-payer system into place.
To Frank, this commonsense objection rests on a
fallacy: that an increase in taxes always
results in a loss

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 45
of social welfare. In his view, the benefits of taxation can more than offset
those rising taxes if those tax revenues can deliver superior levels of health
care in exchange. But that is one big if.


To Frank, one of the two obvious sources of savings is to eliminate competi-
tive advertisements, which he notes can run to 15 percent of total costs. Yet
he links to an article that sends a very different message: it praises how
advertisements can fuel needed revenue growth. Frank is also blind to the
benefits of advertising, which allows consumers to learn about the full range
of services of benefit to them. That increased demand can allow firms to
spread their fixed costs over a larger customer base, thereby reducing aver-
age costs. Legislated menus of mandated goods, by contrast, are so rigid and
standardized that firms have nothing new to sell. This reveals the weakness
of a top-heavy health care plan, which fails to develop a sensible innovation
policy because it is unable to market its fruits. This problem also leads to a
systematic reduction in long-term capital investment, which translates into
chronic shortages tomorrow.
Frank also insists that a single-payer system could reduce administrative
costs to around 2 percent of total budget, or about one-sixth the total for
private insurers, including those that operate under the current mandates of
the Affordable Care Act. Again, that figure is misleading for several reasons.
First, there is no a priori way to decide just what fraction of health care
should be spent
The defenders of single payer assume that on administra-
every technique that succeeds in ordinary tion. One of the
markets will fail with health care. many design
failures of the
ACA was its artificial limitation on these expenditures. Medicare and Medic-
aid may in fact be faulted for spending too little on administrative expenses,
hampering their ability to control fraud and making them less able to identify
the best treatment protocolsor locate new facilities, train employees,
counsel patients, or conduct any number of activities that a sensible business
undertakes to improve its market position.
The failure of single-payer health care to innovate is then complicated
by an impossible constraint: people do not have to pay for any of the health
care they get. Despite what Frank alleges, the huge uptick in the quantity
of services demanded when participants get all care at zero price threatens


to overwhelm the system. Single payer does not ration health care by price,
so care gets rationed of necessity in other ways. The Canadian system thus
relies on long waiting times to curb demand. Unfortunately, the people at the
head of the queue are not always those with the greatest need for treatment.
Even prices that cover a fraction of full costs can help tamp down the
demand. But sadly, no one in a single-payer system has any idea how these
prices should be set. Hence, governments duty to take all comers at a zero
price means it cannot reprice efficiently to respond to shifts in supply and
demand as is routinely done in airlines, hotels, and leasing in ways that elimi-
nate the queues from price controls.
Regrettably, the stan-
dard defenses of single
payer assume that every Under one purported reform, a dis-
technique that works in guised form of price control would
ordinary product mar- still prevent two plans from compet-
kets will fail with health
ing on price.
care. Indeed, this tunnel
vision led to the market breakdowns that paved the way for the 2010 adop-
tion of the ACA. Part of the reason the United States has the highest health
costs of any nation is because of the added costs of onerous government
regulation. Illinois, for example, lists eighteen pages of required benefits for
private insurance plans that cover everything from alcoholism to infertility,
all at government-mandated levels, with high compliance costs added in.
Ironically, in contrast, the Canadian single-payer system offers at most lim-
ited coverage for mental care, dental care, eye care, prescription drugs, and a
whole lot more. And no nation commits as much money for the treatment of
end state renal disease through dialysis as does the United States: $42 billion
per year, of which $34 billion is covered through Medicare.

The proper path of reform must move away from single payer and toward
market liberalization, which would lower costs by removing these mandates
and by opening up insurance markets to interstate competition. Matters
would get still better by removing the state mandates for coverage in private
employer plans, which have led many firms to terminate their employee
coverage. Any reform should also kill the 3.8 percent net investment income
tax, which has done so much to retard overall growth. Apparently the Repub-
licans who have so far flubbed health care reform are still taking a statist
approach that keeps many of the worst features of the ACA intact.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 47
Here is one illustration. Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee introduced a pro-
vision that would have allowed any insurer offering two ACA-compliant plans
to also offer other plans for sale. The market plans would not have carried
the government subsidy,
thus evading full market
Legislated menus of mandated goods liberalization. A disguised
are so rigid and standardized that form of price control
firms have nothing new to sell. would prevent two plans
from competing on price,
which means that the option was illusory and the worst features of the ACA
remain unchallenged. But the possibility that consumers might nonetheless
prefer these plans offers powerful testimony to how far off base are both the
ACA and these attempted reforms.
It seems, therefore, that the public debate has been ruptured by the con-
stant war cry that all reforms hurt poor health care recipients to benefit rich
taxpayers. Public policy now ignores growth and innovation; the debate has
become a struggle about redistribution. A one-way ratchet embeds all tax
increases forever and makes it impossible to address the many design errors
in the ACA. Reckless Democratic claims for a single-payer system are a mas-
sive distraction. Republican naivet on dismantling a flawed system has led
to the rhetoric of repeal-and-replace, which tends to bypass critical design
elements that can spell success or failure.

Reprinted from Defining Ideas (

ideas), a Hoover Institution online journal. 2017 The Board of Trustees
of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is The

Case against the Employee Free Choice Act, by
Richard A. Epstein. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or




Forget Paris
The Paris Accords on climate change were vague
and unenforceable, and carried a stratospheric
price tag. Good riddance.

By Richard A. Epstein

resident Trumps intention to with-
draw the United States unilaterally Key points
from the Paris Accords has argu- The Paris Accords
ignored the power of
ably awakened more fury in his crit- free trade as a natural
ics than any other position he has staked out. corrective to environ-
mental damage. The
His critics seem to believe he has an agenda to
drive for clean air and
poison the planet. However, for all its defects, water will continue.
Trumps position is more coherent than that of The Green Climate
his fiercest critics. Lets disentangle the pluses Fund falsely portrayed
advanced nations as
and minuses. despoilers of the world.
There are at least two principled ways to Nothing exempts
defend Trumps decision. First is the weak polluters from current
environmental laws
scientific case that links global warming and
and lawsuitsmea-
other planetary maladies to increases in sures that target forms
carbon dioxide levels. There are simply too of pollution more
harmful than carbon
many other forces that can account for shifts dioxide.
in temperature and the various environmental

Richard A. Epstein is the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover
Institution and a member of the steering committee for Hoovers Working Group
on Intellectual Property, Innovation, and Prosperity. He is also the Laurence A.
Tisch Professor of Law at New York University Law School and a senior lecturer
at the University of Chicago.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 49
calamities that befall the world. Second, the economic impulses underlying
the Paris Accords entail a massive financial commitment, including huge gov-
ernment subsidies for wind and solar energy, sources that have yet to prove
themselves viable.
The president should have stated these two points, and then challenged
his opponents to explain how the recent greening of the planet, for example,
could possibly presage the grim future of rising seas and expanded deserts
routinely foretold by climate activists. Unfortunately, Trumps silence on
these critical issues let his critics have a field day in portraying him as a man
who is prepared, in the coarse language of John Cassidy in the New Yorker, to
say screw you to the world in order to implement his maniacal, zero-sum
What is so striking about the endless criticisms of the president is that
they all start from the bogus assumption that a well-nigh universal consen-
sus has settled on the science of global warming. To refute that fundamen-
tal assumption, it is essential to look at the individual critiques raised by
prominent scientists and to respond to them point by point, so that a genuine
dialogue can begin. But by failing to state a case for his policy, the president
has disarmed his allies. Alas, his recent statement, through UN Ambassador
Nikki Haley, that climate change is real is singularly inadequate.

Instead of starting with the social case against the substantive provisions of
the Paris Accords, Trump justified his decision by invoking his highly nation-
alistic view of international arrangements. He said the United States was
once again getting ripped off by a lousy treaty that, in his words, would force
American taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages,
shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production. He then
insisted that his first duty is to the citizens of Pittsburgh, not of Parisgiving
the impression that only provincial arguments support his decision.
The president actually has a stronger case here than when he uses similar
terms to attack free trade. Free trade has a natural corrective, in that no
private firm will enter into an agreement it believes will work to its disad-
vantage. But that was decidedly not true of the Obama approach to the Paris
Accords, which give a free pass to China until 2030 even though its recent
carbon emissions had increased by 1.1 billion tons, while the United States
total has dropped by 270 million tons and will continue to do so. The Chinese
can reduce emissions a lot more rapidly than the United States. The diplo-
matic pass represents a clear double standard.


TIANJIN SKYLINE: Air quality suffers in China, whose carbon emissions
have increased in recent years even as emissions in the United States have
dropped. China remains deeply dependent on fossil fuels. [Francisco Anzola
Creative Commons]

The president was also right to cast a suspicious eye on the Green Cli-
mate Fund, established under the Paris Accords to mitigate the damage
that excess greenhouse gas production might cause to the undeveloped
world. But this moral posturing ignores the powerful point that undeveloped
countries have already benefited vastly from Western technology, including
carbon-based energy, and market institutions that, as the Cato Institutes
Johan Norberg reminds us in his book Progress, have done so much to amelio-
rate chronic starvation and poverty across the globe. Carbon dioxide has not
wrecked the atmosphere, and the political risk of the Green Climate Fund
lies in its false characterization of advanced Western nations as despoilers of
less-developed countries. Foreign aid may well be desired, but it should not
be packaged with the one-sided claims of Western wrongdoing so common in
todays climate-change politics.
Trump, moreover, does himself no favors when he relies on a handful of
controversial studies that point to dramatic declines in jobs and production
which will result in astonishing economic losses for the United Statesif
the policies embodied in the Paris Accords are fully implemented. These

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 51
numbers are simply too large to be credible, given the adaptive capacity of
American industry. Contrary to what Trump says, US production will not
see paper down 12 percent; cement down 23 percent; iron and steel down 38
percent; coal . . . down 86 percent; natural gas down 31 percent. As the Wall
Street Journal noted, the level of carbon efficiency in the United States has
improved vastly in the past decade because of innovations that predate the
Paris Accords.
That trend will continue. Traditional forms of pollution generate two forms
of loss, which are addressed by current laws. First, nothing about the Trump
decision exempts domes-
tic US polluters from
The Paris Accords were built atop a
federal and state environ-
massive financial commitment for mental laws and lawsuits
energy sources that have yet to prove that target their behavior.
themselves viable. It is precisely because
these laws are enforced
that coal, especially dirty coal, has lost ground to other energy sources. Sec-
ond, pollution is itself inefficient, for it means that the offending firms have
not effectively utilized their production inputs. They can do better, garnering
higher yields from improved production processes. These two drivers toward
cleaner air and waterone external, one internalexplain why American
technological innovation will continue unabated after Paris.
None of Trumps detractors has, to my knowledge, praised him for his
pledge that the United States will continue to be the cleanest and most envi-
ronmentally friendly country on Earth. Indeed, the plumes of dirty smoke
that issue forth regularly from German power plants and Chinese steel mills
show that the United States has done a far better job than its rivals in match-
ing high levels of industrial production with effective environmental controls.
Indeed, one tragedy of Paris is that the nations adhering to it will invest more
in controlling greenhouse gases than in controlling more harmful forms of
pollution that developed nations have inflicted on themselves.


The incoherence of the many Trump critics goes even deeper. First is the
constant refrain that the United States did not have to withdraw from a
nonbinding treaty. But if that is so, how can the withdrawal be the travesty
and calamity that Trump detractors claim it is? After all, Trump is not
blocking private companies from investing and innovating in wind and solar


One constant refrain of both large American corporations and environmen-
tal groups is that by withdrawing from the Paris Accords, the United States
will suffer a huge missed opportunity to work on the cutting-edge technolo-
gies of wind and solar energy. But why? At this point, solar and wind energy,
as the indefatigable Matt Ridley points out, amount to at most a trivial
portion of the global energy supply, less than 1 percent in total. Indeed, most
of that production comes from state-subsidized ventures that could never
survive on their own. And while firms race to collect government subsidies to
develop so-called cleaner
energy, none of their
research is likely to solve Undeveloped countries have benefit-
the intractable problem ed vastly from Western technology,
of how to store wind or including carbon-based energy, as
solar energy efficiently. well as market institutions that ease
Further, to label wind chronic starvation and poverty.
and solar as green
energy simply ignores the substantial environmental costs associated with
their life cycle of development, fabrication, installation, and maintenance.
Covering the ground with huge solar panels is a form of thermal pollution;
wind turbines emit a low hum injurious to people and are notorious for killing
birds; and mining the materials required for the manufacture of each form of
energy results in more environmental harm.
Weirdly, the New York Times laments that the United States will miss out
on golden technological opportunities to participate in what it claims will be
a $6 trillion alternative energy market by 2030. It further cites major well-
established private investors and businesses who urge the nonresponsive
Trump to remain true to Paris.
Yet one of the advantages of getting out of Paris is that it removes any sys-
tematic pressure for American firms to hop on the wind and solar bandwag-
ons. Those firms that urged Trump to subsidize this market are free to enter
it themselves, without dragooning skeptical firms and investors into the fold.
Withdrawal also cuts down on the risk that clever environmental lawyers
turn the Paris Accords into a source of domestic obligations even though the
pact supposedly creates no international obligations.
If wind and solar were worth their salt, private capital would flow into
their research and development, just as it does for fossil fuels. The accords
supporters have the basic economics exactly backwards, for there is no rea-
son to think that superior American technology will be spurned by countries
that can use it to increase energy yields while reducing pollution.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 53
My best guess is that withdrawal from the treaty will do nothing to hurt
the environment, and may do something to help it. With or without the hys-
teria, Earth has been through far more violent shocks than any promised by
changes in carbon dioxide
levels. It is important to
American technological innovation keep priorities straight
will continue unabated, with or with- when the United States
out Paris. and other nations around
the world face major chal-
lenges on matters of economic prosperity and international security. With-
drawing from Paris allows the United States to focus its attention on more
pressing matters, like global security and economic prosperity.

Reprinted from Defining Ideas (

ideas), a Hoover Institution online journal. 2017 The Board of Trustees
of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Keeping

the Lights on at Americas Nuclear Power Plants, by
Jeremy Carl and David Fedor. To order, call (800) 888-
4741 or visit




Panic blossoms after the discovery of genetically
modified petunias; scientists wilt.

By Henry I. Miller

overnment regulators, like the rest of us, sometimes make mistakes
of judgment or poor execution. But occasionally they do things that
are in a class of their own, via decisions that are colossally, gratu-
itously stupid, and for those they should be held accountable.
US Department of Agriculture regulators recently demanded the destruc-
tion of vast numbers of at least fifty varieties of strikingly beautiful, vivid-
hued petuniasnot because they pose any sort of danger to health or the
natural environment but because theyre technically in violation of unscien-
tific, misguided, thirty-year-old government regulations. The flowers, you
see, were crafted with modern genetic engineering techniques.
Mind you, these petunias, which were developed about three decades ago,
have been sold unnoticed and uneventfully for years, and their pedigree was
only serendipitously discovered by a Finnish plant scientist who noticed
them in a planter at a train station in Helsinki and became curious about
their unusual color. (He picked one and confirmed in his own laboratory that
they were, indeed, genetically engineered, and tipped off Finnish regulators,
who then spread the word internationally.)

Henry I. Miller, MD, is the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and
Public Policy at the Hoover Institution.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 55
A primer on regulation is necessary to understand this absurd situation. The
Department of Agricultures Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
had for decades regulated the importation and interstate movement of organ-
isms (plants, bacteria, fungi, viruses, and others) that are plant pests, which were
defined by means of an inclusive listessentially a thumbs up or down approach.
A plant that an investigator wished to introduce into the field was either on the
prohibited list of plant pests, and therefore required a permit, or it was exempt.
This straightforward approach is risk-based, in that the organisms
required to undergo case-by-case governmental review are an enhanced-risk
group (organisms that can injure or damage plants), as opposed to organ-
isms not considered to be plant pests. But for thirty years, in addition to its
basic risk-based regulation, APHIS has applied a parallel regime that focuses
exclusively on plants altered or produced with the most precise genetic
engineering techniques. APHIS reworked the original concept of a plant pest
(something known to be harmful) and crafted a new categorya regulated
articledefined in a way that captures almost every recombinant DNA-
modified (gene spliced) plant for case-by-case review, regardless of its
potential risk, because it might be a plant pest.
Under this paradigm, which only an empire-building regulator could love,
the genetically engineered petunia varieties, with names like Trilogy Mango,
Trilogy Deep Purple, and African Sunset, became regulated articles because
they contain a noninfectious, tiny snippet of DNA from cauliflower mosaic
virus, an organism officially classified as a plant pest.
To perform a field trial with a regulated article, a researcher must apply to
APHIS and submit extensive paperwork before, during, and after the field trial.
After conducting field trials for a number of years at many sites, the researcher
must then submit a vast amount of data to APHIS and request deregulation,
which is equivalent to approval for unconditional release and sale.
These requirements make genetically engineered plants extraordinarily expen-
sive to develop and test: the cost of discovery, development, and regulatory autho-
rization of a new trait introduced between 2008 and 2012 averaged $136 million,
according to Wendelyn Jones of DuPont Pioneer, a major corporation involved in
crop genetics. At around $5 for five thousand seeds, there is no way to recover
the regulatory costs, which is presumably why the developers of the genetically
engineered petunias never commercialized them . . . legally.


APHISs approach to recombinant DNA-modified plants is hard to jus-
tify. Plants have long been selected by nature, as well as bred or otherwise


[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]
manipulated by humans, for enhanced resistance or tolerance to external
threats to their survival and productivity, such as insects, disease organ-
isms, weeds, herbicides, and environmental stresses. Breeders routinely
use radiation or chemical mutagens on seeds to scramble a plants DNA to
generate new traits, and more than a half century of wide cross hybridiza-
tions, which involve the movement of genes from one species or one genus to
another, have given rise to plants that do not exist in nature. These include
the varieties of corn, oats, pumpkin, wheat, rice, tomatoes, and potatoes we
buy routinely.
Like the contraband petuniaswhich developed new hues of orange, red,
and purplemany of these plants have also been modified for qualities
attractive to consumers, such as seedless watermelons and grapes, and the
tangelo, a tangerine-grapefruit hybrid.
Along the way, plant breeders have learned from experience about the
need for risk analysis, assessment, and management. New varieties of plants
used for food (whichever techniques are used to craft them) that normally
harbor relatively high levels of various toxins are analyzed carefully to make
sure that levels of those substances remain in the safe range. Celery, squash,
and potatoes are among the crops in need of such attention. (To state the
obvious, petunias are not a food crop.)
Two basic tenets of government regulation are that similar things
should be regulated similarly, and that the degree of oversight should be
proportionate to the risk of the product or activity. For new varieties of
plants, risk is a function of certain characteristics of the parental plant
(such as weediness, toxicity, and ability to outcross with other plants)
and of the introduced gene or genes. In other words, it is not the source
or the method used to introduce a gene but its function that determines
how it contributes to risk. For example, the only new gene in the orange
petunias is from corn, and it expresses a pigment that imparts the unique
Under the USDA/APHIS approach, however, only plants made with the
newest, most precise techniques have been subjected to more extensive and
burdensome regulation, independent of the risk of the product.
Because its illegal to sell the genetically engineered petunias without
a permit, regulators have told growers and sellers to destroy themfor
example, by double-bagging and incinerating them. I have better suggestions:
donate them to the cancer wards at pediatric hospitals; or invoke enforce-
ment discretion, which essentially means no harm, no foul, so we dont feel
its necessary to take any enforcement action.


The regulators wont take my suggestions, of course. But theres now con-
gressional recourse for such profound malfeasance: the Holman rule.
The rule is an exception to the prohibition against provisions in appropriations
legislation that change existing law. Before the rules reinstatement in 2017, cuts
could be made to agencies broadly but not to specific programs or employees.
Examples of the rules use include the elimination of twenty-nine customs posi-
tions in 1932 and eight more in 1939, a provision reducing the number of naval
officers in 1938, and a 1952 amendment disallowing the filling of vacancies in
independent agencies until the agencys workforce had been reduced 10 percent.
The petunia fiasco is a potent argument for using the Holman rule. First, at
the very least, the bureaucrats who are ultimately responsible for the petunia
carnage should be penalized, with a reduction in salary or elimination of their
jobs. Federal officials must be made aware that abuse of taxpayers trust is a
serious offense. As a prelude to congressional action under the Holman rule,
this situation is arguably something that should be investigated by the House
Oversight and Government Reform Committee, now chaired by the inimi-
table Trey Gowdy.
But the more definitive solution would be the elimination of the USDAs
Biotechnology Regulatory Services. As discussed above, their technique-based
regulatory net makes no sense, and in any case, the plant products that need to
be reviewed are regulated elsewhere in USDA/APHIS under the long-standing
jurisdiction of the Plant Protection Act and Noxious Weed Act. In other words,
regulated article is a red herring that should be gutted and discarded.
This Frankenflower fiasco argues for overarching reform that makes regu-
lation more rational and less burdensome. Regulators must learn what needs
to be regulated and what doesnt. Theres a difference between petunias and

Special to the Hoover Digest.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is To

Americas Health: A Proposal to Reform the Food and
Drug Administration, by Henry I. Miller. To order, call
(800) 888-4741 or visit

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 59


New Weapons,
New Shields
Emerging trends in the battle to secure our digital

By Herbert Lin

Hoover research fellow Herbert Lin was invited to submit his views on The Promises
and Perils of Emerging Technologies for Cybersecurity before the Senate Committee
on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Here are highlights of what he wrote.

he Senate committee hearing made explicit reference to how
several emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence,
the Internet of things, blockchain, and quantum computing, will
affect the future of cybersecurity.
Artificial intelligence (AI). AI may be valuable to recognizing patterns
of system behavior and activity that could indicate imminent or ongoing hos-
tile cyberactivity. Many hostile activities are discovered long after the initial
penetrations, and earlier detection could reduce the damage they do. It may
also be possible to apply AI techniques across multiple systems to detect
hostile cyberactivities on a large scale, for example, a coordinated cyberat-
tack on the nation as a whole; this is a substantially harder problem than that
of detecting a cyberattack on a single system.

Herbert Lin is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a senior research
scholar for cyber policy and security at Stanford Universitys Center for Interna-
tional Security and Cooperation (CISAC).


A new kind of AI is known as explainable AI. Today, most AI-based systems
cant explain to their human users why they reach the conclusions they reach
or why they behave the way they do. At least at first, users must simply trust
that the system is behaving properly; over time, their trust grows if the sys-
tem repeatedly behaves properly. But an AI-based system that can explain
its reasoning is more easily trusted by its human users. Thus an AI-based
system could explain to its users why it is behaving in a manner inconsistent
with its expected behavior, and such an explanation might well point to an
adversarys hostile activities as the cause. The Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA) is carrying out research into explainable AI.
AI may also be of substantial value in improving the productivity of cyber-
security workers and thereby mitigating the anticipated shortages of such
workers. Although AI-based systems are unlikely to replace cybersecurity
workers entirely, they will surely be able to handle much of the relatively
routine work cybersecurity workers must do todayfreeing human workers
to do what the AI-based systems cannot do. In his testimony to the Senate
Commerce Committee, Caleb Barlow referred to AI helpers for cybersecurity
workers as cognitive security assistance.
The Internet of things (IOT). IOT refers to putting computational capa-
bilities into physical devices and connecting these devices to the Internet.
When IOT is not a marketing ploy (as it often is), it embodies the idea that
IOT devices will operate more efficiently and effectively if they can obtain
and react to information gleaned from their physical environment.
The number of IOT devices is expected to reach fifty billion within a decade,
compared to a few billion today. And many, if not most, of these devices are
likely to be much less secure than todays computers, which are themselves
hardly exemplars of good security. Reduced security is likely to arise from both
technical and market factors. Technically and in the interests of cost reduction,
such devices may well be equipped with only enough computational capability
to do their job of increasing efficiencyand not enough to tend to security as
well. First movers tend to profit more than latecomers, and attention to secu-
rity is counterproductive from the standpoint of reducing time-to-market.
What are the security consequences of an additional forty-five billion
computational nodes on the Internet, many and perhaps most of them eas-
ily compromised? Today, powerful botnet-driven denial-of-service attacks
involve hundreds of thousands of machines, and such attacks can prevent
even well-protected institutions from serving their users. But botnet attacks
of the future may involve millions or even tens of millions of compromised
machines. This does not bode well.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 61
TARGETED: Former president Barack Obama and other officials tour the Nation-
al Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a unit of the Depart-
ment of Homeland Security that is a nerve center for detecting and responding to
cyberattacks. The display at left describes telephony denial of service attacks,
attempts to disable a system by overwhelming it. [Pete SouzaWhite House]

Furthermore, many IOT devices effect changes in their environments.

They may raise the temperature in a device, activate a motor, or turn on an
electrical current. If a malicious party manipulates a device, a piece of bread
in an IOT toaster could catch fire, an IOT car could go out of control, or an
IOT-connected electrical motor could burn out.
Blockchain. This is essentially a decentralized database that keeps
digital records of transactions accessible to any authorized user of the data-
base. A record added to the blockchain is cryptographically tied to previous
records, and thus a dishonest authorized user who tries to change a record
must also change all previous records in the blockchain. As more records
are added, the difficulty of making such changes increases. And because the
records are distributed among many systems and viewable by any autho-
rized user, the kind of hacking that compromises intermediaries that cen-
trally manage database records can be eliminated.
But blockchain technology does not eliminate the possibility of database
fraud against users. A simple example is that newer blockchains (that is,


those with fewer records) are more vulnerable to hacking than older ones
(those with many records). Thus, one kind of fraud could be to trick naive
users into using new blockchains, taking advantage of the reputation of
blockchain as a highly secure technology.
Quantum computing. The primary security issue associated with
quantum computing is that the most commonly used algorithm to ensure the
security of transactions over the Internet (that is, between two parties that
have not previously communicated with each other) would be rendered inef-
fective for most practical purposes with the widespread availability of quan-
tum computing. Algorithms that can resist quantum computing are known
but are more costly to implement. Furthermore, it takes time to replace the
current quantum-vulnerable infrastructure with one that is quantum-resis-
tant, a point suggesting the danger of waiting too long to take action before
quantum computing becomes known to be feasible.

Going beyond the technologies explicitly mentioned in the hearing introduc-
tion, let us consider other technologies that may have significant impact.
Some notable technologies are here, but these are by no means the only
emerging technologies that belong in this category.
Formal verification of programs. This is a process through which a
mathematical proof can be generated that a program does what its speci-
fications say it should do, and does not do anything not contained in the
specifications. Although program specifications can be wrong, ensuring that
programs conform to specifications would be a major step toward eliminat-
ing many cybersecurity vulnerabilities. DARPA has supported some remark-
able work in this area under the auspices of its program for High-Assurance
Cyber Military Systems, though of course there is no reason that the meth-
odologies developed in this program are necessarily applicable only to mili-
tary systems. Today, it is possible to formally verify programs of some tens of
thousands of lines of coderemarkable in light of the fact that several years
ago, formal verification was possible only for programs less than one-tenth
that size. On the other hand, programs today run into the millions and tens of
millions of lines of code, which suggests that formal verification alone will not
solve many real-world problems.
New computer architectures. Most of todays computing infrastructure
is based on a computer architecture proposed by John von Neumann in 1945.
Although this architecture has demonstrated incredible practical utility, it
comes with inherent security flaws. One of the most significant is that the

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 63
LISTEN IN: Soldiers on a training exercise at the Yakima Training Center in
Washington state set up communications equipment. Both technologies and
vulnerabilities have proliferated during the information age, affecting every-
thing from kitchen appliances to critical national security architecture.[Staff
Sgt. Christopher McCulloughUS Army]

memory of a Von Neumann machine contains both the instructions that

direct the computations of the machine and the data on which these instruc-
tions operate. As a result, data can be executed as though it were part of a
program. And since data are introduced into the computer by a user, the
userwho may be hostilemay have some ability to alter the program run-
ning on the computer. Some new computer architectures effectively separate
data and instructions to eliminate this kind of problem.
Disposable computing. Disposable computing is based on the idea that
if an adversary compromises a computing environment that the user can
throw away without ill effect, the compromise has no practical impact on the
user. Todays processors are powerful enough to run a disposable environ-
ment and a safe environment simultaneously. The major problem with such
an approach is that passing data from the disposable computing environment
to the safe environment provides a potential path through which compro-
mises of the safe environment can occur. Relatively safe and controlled meth-
ods of data exchange can be used to pass data, thus reducing the likelihood of
compromise but also making data passage less convenient. Some commercial
products that do this are available, but they have not been deployed widely.


Last, some urgent needs for improved cybersecurity are less obvious and
poorly understood. Better cybersecurity is more than a technological prob-
lem. It calls for an array of innovative ideas grounded in disciplines such as
economics, psychology, organizational theory, and law and policy.
Less expensive ways of writing secure software. Today, the cost of writing
highly secure software is one or two orders of magnitude higher than writing
ordinary code. It is natural that writing highly secure software would entail
additional expense, but when the additional expenses are so much higher, the dis-
incentives for secure software development are virtually impossible to overcome.
Usable security. Today, security measures often call for the end user to
make decisions about security. Security measures always get in the way of
usersno one enters passwords into a computer system for the sheer joy
of doing it. Thus, users usually make decisions that are convenient for them
(such as choosing easy-to-remember passwords) but that also compromise
security (easy-to-remember passwords are more easily guessed by an adver-
sary). Security architectures that reduce such decisions are more likely to be
successful than those that do not. The downside is that they may be less flex-
ible under many circumstances, and its hard to find the appropriate balance
between allowing and not allowing users to make personal security decisions.
Business models for monetizing information exchange. Despite the
best efforts of government and private entities, the problem of exchanging
information related to cybersecurity remains unsolved. Everyone wants
to receive information but no one wants to disclose itand the upside of
receiving information is outweighed by the risks associated with disclosure.
Developing business models for monetizing information exchangepaying
parties to disclose informationmay well increase the benefits of disclosure
and promote additional and much needed information exchange.

Reprinted by permission of the Lawfare Institute.2017 The Lawfare

Institute. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is The

Best Defense? Legitimacy and Preventive Force, by
Abraham D. Sofaer. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 65


Ayatollah Online
The mullahs call it sin; activists call it liberation.
The battle for Iranians hearts and minds rages in
social media.

By Abbas Milani

trench war, fought in our labyrinthine digital world, has been
raging in the Islamic Republic of Iran for more than two
decades. On one side is a youthful, Internet-savvy society
adept at the gender-neutral, hierarchy-averse pluralism of plat-
forms and networksa society craving to join the twenty-first century. On
the other side is a clerical despotic regime with a claim to divine legitimacy, a
parallel male-dominated septuagenarian elite enamored of gender apartheid
and of ideas more than a millennium olda power structure that is retro-
grade, pass, and stale, compared to the vibrancy of Iranian society at large.
Of Irans more than 80 million people, 56.4 million have a cell phone and
57.4 percent have access to the Internet. At least 14 million people (with some
estimates going as high as 40) use Telegram, and 12 million to 14 million sub-
scribe to Instagram. While Facebook is banned and Twitter filtered, millions
of Iranians use them both, for everything from e-commerce and romance to
politics and public relations.
More ironically still, virtually all government officials, including Ali
Khamenei, the supreme leader and the most fervent advocate of the need to

Abbas Milani is co-director of the Hoover Institutions Iran Democracy Project,

a member of Hoovers Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and
the International Order, and a Hoover research fellow. He is also the Hamid and
Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University, where he
is a visiting professor of political science.


fight the evils of the digital age, feverishly use their Twitter and Facebook
accounts to take their message to the public.

The regime, now acknowledged around the world as one of the most adept at
hacking, has tried to use social media and the possibilities of the digital age to
contain, co-opt, control, even suppress the opposition. Government mem-
bers eclectic and elected affinities with the digital age, while averse to its
liberation possibilities, display a goal very close to what nineteenth-century
utilitarianism called the pan-optic vision: the ability to monitor every node
of a social organism from a unitary position. Orwell in his inimitable style
called this same kind of vision Big Brother. What makes the achievement
of this goal unlikely is that
alongside the efforts of the
regime and its ideological and Stealth satire is a favorite pastime.
security apparatus, Iranians
from all walks of life, especially Irans embryonic civil society, and the vast
nonviolent opposition to the regime, inside and outside the country, have also
tried to use the same media to organize and mobilize their activities and fight
regime policies and propaganda.
In a sense, then, Iran is the smithy wherein the paradigmatic problem of
our age is hammered out each day: are social media a tool of utopian libera-
tion or a means of Orwellian control? The verdict, at least in Iran, is yet to be
In this trench war, as expected, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
(IRGC), the main muscle of clerical despotism, plays the critical role.
Through some of its myriad front companies, it controls the majority share of
corporations that own and operate virtually the entire digital infrastructure,
as well as smartphone services in the country. The IRGC uses that power to
slow down access to the Internet, deny services in times of crisis, and filter
sites or platforms seen as most dangerous. It has purchased more than $500
million worth of sophisticated software that allows the corps to track and
monitor every account and message in the country. Only a few platforms, like
Telegram, are still deemed to be beyond its reach. More than once the regime
has toyed with the idea of emulating China and establishing a safe national
Where software interdiction and overtly threatening gestures of censor-
ship do not suffice, the regime and the IRGC use a vast army of paid minions
and ideological myrmidonsor in their own parlance, cyberjihadiststo

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 67
[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]
both control and shape the social media, and also to track and if needed
arrest civil society activists. In this effort, they enter chat rooms, study what
they call the semiotics of the digital age, and try to reframe discussions in
these rooms; they follow activists not only to offer arguments amenable to
official dogma but to help undermine narratives incongruent with prevail-
ing regime ideology. The militia-cum-gang Basij, with its throng of a million
men and womensome believers, others social opportunists who join (the
way opportunists joined
the Young Communist
League) to enjoy the Iran is a laboratory of sorts for a ques-
perks of membership tion of our age: are social media a tool
have been the foot sol- of utopian liberation or a means of
diers of this cyberjihad. Orwellian control?
So important is this
jihad in the regimes often militaristic narrative of the world that more than
once Irans ideologues have referred to the Internet as a tool or incarnation
of the devil. Social media, they say, are the favorite weapon of America in its
culture war with Islamic Iranthe most potent tool in what Khamenei calls
Americas Cultural NATO against Iran. Fighting its negative impact is
thus central to government strategy. Every city and region has its own com-
mander of oversight for social media.
In a lengthy article in an official website, Iran outlines these negative
aspects. The list includes such sins as the ability of social groups to learn
from experiences of places like Yugoslavia about how to disrupt national
unity and change consumption patterns, to intensify cultural cleavage,
and to spread fake news. Foremost amongst the dangers of the digital
age, according to the regime, is the effort to undermine peoples piety and
religious identity and replace it with secular or hybrid identities. The article
even refers to a verse from the Quran as proof positive that social media are
sinfully subversive. The verse says, Those who love that indecency should
be spread abroad concerning them that believethere awaits them a painful
chastisement in the present world and the world to come; and God knows
and you know not (Quran, 24:19; Arberry translation).

And yet, in spite of these regime efforts to filter and control, limit, and
structure the digital landscape, the people continue to use it cleverly to learn
about the world, counter regime claims, and organize everything from raves
to underground theater performances.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 69
A movement to have women publish online images of themselves without a
veil was surprisingly successful, while stealth satire, through recording and
sharing small comically dubbed clips, has been a favorite pastime.
During the May 19 presidential elections, a remarkably vast social network
was active, using every platform, working on fact checking candidates
claims, getting out the vote, and even guiding voters to polling stations with
shorter lines. The
reformist candidate,
More than once the regime has toyed Hassan Rouhani, won;
with the idea of emulating China and the conservative can-
establishing a safe national Internet. didate, Ebrahim Raisi,
generally assumed
to be the conservatives main candidate to succeed Khamenei as supreme
leader, lost badly. Regime shenanigans in trying to engineer the final tallies
to make the loss less embarrassing were duly exposed in the social media.
Conservative threats to strike back remain a constant digital reminder that a
battle might have been won by the people, but the trench war rages on.

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(800) 888-4741 or visit




Total Volunteer
Long advocated by Hoover fellow Milton Friedman,
the volunteer military represented a dramatic
innovationforty years ago. Now we need smarter
ways to assign, train, and pay military personnel.

By Tim Kane

e miss something vital when our
minds turn to visions of advanced Key points
weapons, technologies, and scien- Performance
evaluations must
tific breakthroughs whenever we
be improved.
consider the twenty-first-century military. As impor-
Matching of
tant as those elements are, they are not the key to jobs with the
greatness. The key is people and nothing else. best-qualified
service members
Think about the super-teams in the NBA or NFL, must be decen-
loaded with the most expensive weapons money can tralized.
buy. Those organizations often lose to well-coached Military pay
must be re-
teams that play seamlessly as one.
vamped to
Similarly, people are the key to a successful twenty- reward skills in-
first-century military. Thats why there must be progress stead of seniority.

in evolving the volunteer force, especially with millennials

Tim Kane is the JP Conte Fellow in Immigration Studies at the Hoover Institu-
tion and co-chairman of Hoovers Conte Initiative on Immigration Reform. His
new book is Total Volunteer Force: Lessons from the US Military on Lead-
ership Culture and Talent Management (Hoover Institution Press, 2017).

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 71
joining the services. Managing the new generation of millennials will offer unique
challenges, but thats a secondary concern if the core principles are right.
If the task is merely to resist the growth of a suffocating bureaucracy, we
have already lost. As two recent defense secretaries, Ash Carter and Robert
Gates, made clear, the existing personnel bureaucracy is arguably the top
threat to readiness facing our armed forces.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, I was a butterbara newly com-
missioned second lieutenantheading to the Pacific for my first active-duty
assignment. One mentor joked that communist central planning was dead all
around the world except for three
last holdouts: Havana, Har-
vard, and the Pentagons
personnel commands.
Amid the imple-
of the

[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]


all-volunteer force in 1973, control of promotions and assignments became
more centralized. In 1980, Congress passed legislation that required each
service to follow the same promotion timetables with little regard for merit.
All service members are required to rotate to new jobs, usually at a differ-
ent base far away, every eighteen to twenty-four months. Up or out is the
mantra. Matching troops to billets is driven by elaborate manpower require-
ments, and establishing those requirements is a nightmare of central plan-
ning, impossible to do well in a world of constant change.
Todays problem is not that millennials are different, but that warfare is
different. Faster. The Pentagon is different, too. Slower. Although millennials
volunteering for service are extraordinarily talented and agile, the military
personnel bureaucracies remain rigid. That Achilles heel will lose wars
cyberwars, for sure, but counterinsurgencies too.
Cyberthreats were not even mentioned in strategy discussions of a decade
ago. There were no cyberbillets, projections for billets, or plans to grow
the right talent. But now, according to the 2015 National Security Strategy,
cyberthreats are among the top national security challenges.
Rigid personnel policies werent always a feature of the US
military. During World War II, the Army and Navy had different
force structures and unique personnel systems, a flexibility thats
impossible under the current structure.
Ive spoken with flag officers in charge of personnel for the
Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, as well as hundreds of
combat veterans. They all say reform of some kind is needed. Fortu-
nately, many top admirals and generals are putting new procedures in
place. But laws keep many needed reforms off limits.


My new book, Total Volunteer Force, offers specific recommendations that fall
into three general areas. First, performance evaluations must be improved.
Second, job-matching must be decentralized. Third, compensation must be
reformed to reward skills instead of seniority.
Lets look at how the performance evaluations of the Special Operations Com-
mand, arguably the most elite warriors of all time, are carried out. The Defense
Department has 660 Special Operational Force teams, three Army Ranger bat-
talions, and a total of 66,000 personnel assigned to Special Operations Command.
Traditional military units are managed using a strict hierarchy, known as
the chain of command. This structure, and the top-down nature of military
performance evaluations, has a predictable effect on behavioral incentives.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 73
Many officers advance their careers by focusing excessively on making a good
impression on their rating commander while being otherwise toxic toward
subordinates and peers. Unfortunately, rapid job rotations every two years
make it hard to identify toxic leaders before they have already moved on.
In contrast, the US Army Ranger School uses peer evaluations as an inte-
gral part of the training. Individuals are routinely removed if rated poorly by
a wide group of peers in the same class. Students offerand receivepeer
evaluations three times during the course.
The simple process involves rank-ordering fellow students and answering two
basic questions: Would you go to war with this person? and Would you share a
foxhole with this person? If a student is peered out with a majority of negative
ratings, that individual is recycled to a different platoon and given a second chance.
The consequences of Ranger peering are a central shaping event in the lives
of elite Army soldiers. They are widely cited as a key in promoting excellence. By
contrast, peering plays no role in standard Army performance management.
Not just the Army but also the Navy, and especially the Air Force, are
plagued by highly inflated, uninformative, top-down evaluation systems.
Former defense secretary
Bob Gates spends four
A decade ago, cyberthreats were bare- pages of his new book,
ly on the horizon. Now theyre a top A Passion for Leadership,
national security concern. describing how deeply
flawed these are, with
the chilling observation that the mentally disturbed officer who killed thir-
teen people on a rampage at Fort Hood had received sterling performance
The Marine Corps stands apart from the other services with its world-class
fitness reports. Not only are the quantitative assessments useful in identifying
individual talents, the comment blocks offer valuable feedback. Yet even the
Marines neglect peer and subordinate feedback. This is a missed opportunity.
To improve talent management, the services should immediately imple-
ment a better evaluation system that identifies unique skills and includes
Ranger-like peer evaluations. Along with serving as the building block for
improved promotions and assignments, these would provide the kind of per-
sonal attention that millennials reportedly thrive on.

Two surprising facts about the US force posture in recent years stand out.
First, the percentage of the population serving on active duty is lower today


than at any time in the modern era. That figure is 0.43 percent. Second,
fewer deployed US troops are based overseas relative to the world popula-
tion than at any time since 1950. These two facts establish an unmistakable
long-term trend: the strategic withdrawal of US forces from the world.
The upside of this smaller force is that the services can be very selective.
Contrary to many false
perceptions, todays
young veterans are more Todays military can afford to be selec-
educated and more tal- tive. But recruits, too, can be choosy.
ented than their civilian
peers. Indeed, combat veterans who leave the service have a far lower unem-
ployment rate than comparable civilians and earn higher average paychecks
than nonveterans.
Millennials have been raised from birth in the Internet era. Many of this
years enlistees were born in 1998, the same year Google was born. This gen-
eration grew up connected, and the implication for personnel policy is that
they are far more aware of alternative work opportunities out of uniform. No
longer can the armed forces treat young troops as indentured servants with
few alternatives.
Indeed, one of the top frustrations that arise when service members are
separated from their spouses is a sense that they have so little control over
their military careers. Amazingly, commanders in todays military also have
little control. For example, you might be the captain of a Navy destroyer with
hundreds of sailors under your command, but you have no command author-
ity over who serves on your ship.
This situation led Senator John McCain to ponder at a 2015 Senate hear-
ing: We should ask whether we should give commanders greater discretion
to build a staff with the specialists and experts they need in the right posi-
tions. Commanders are likely better able to assess their needs than bureau-
crats in the personnel system.
I believe the problem of sexual assault in the military is, in fact, directly
linked to the lack of authority commanders have over hiring. The formal-
ized process run through faceless bureaucracies has no idea if a soldier is
untrustworthy, sexist, or mentally unstable. Any person who meets minimum
standards and has committed no crime meets the very low bar for assign-
ment. Our troops deserve better.
Anyone in the military with a midlevel commander rank (lieutenant colonel
in the Army, Marines, and Air Force or commander in the Navy) and above
should get final authority on who serves in his or her unit. Personnel centers,

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 75
rather than selecting one person per billet, should provide a slate of no fewer
than three candidates for the unit commander to interview.


Today, seniority is more ingrained in the military compensation structure
than ever before. Despite a new blended retirement system for service
members who will join the ranks in 2018, a defined benefit that vests at exact-
ly twenty years of service remains in place. Leave before year twenty and get
nothing; leave any day after twenty and you immediately get a monthly pay-
ment worth much of your base pay. Under the new system, that payment is
40 percent of base pay, not 50, but the cliff remains. This twenty-year cliff
vesting, research shows, creates a bubble of personnel that immediately
deflates at the twenty-first year of service.
The military remains saddled with a legacy of rigid base-pay tables, cal-
culated on two dimensions since at least 1949: rank and cumulative time in
service. Sadly, tenure pays more than rank.
The use of tenure-based pay is an anachronism, dating from a time when per-
sonalized algorithms that factor in occupation, location, and skill were technologi-
cally impossible. Those days are over, and skill-based pay should make a comeback.
The good news is these reforms make sense to congressional leaders of
both parties, such as Democratic senator Jack Reed and GOP representative
Mac Thornberry. They make sense to the heads of personnel policy in each of
the services, too. Theres only one enemy in this battle: bureaucratic momen-
tum. And I predict it will lose.

Reprinted by permission of The Catalyst, a publication of the George W.

Bush Institute. 2017 George W. Bush Presidential Center.

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The Outlines of a
What does China want? If we could figure that out,
we might find a way to secure peace on the Korean

By Stephen D. Krasner

orth Korean leader Kim Jong Uns quest for nuclear weapons
and intercontinental missiles is rational. The ability to strike
American allies South Korea and Japan and even the United
States itself with nuclear weapons is the most obvious deter-
rent against any effort to end his regime. If the threat posed by North Koreas
nuclear weapons were easy to solve, the problem would have been solved
long ago. The United States must confront two very difficult challenges.
First, the United States cannot act unilaterally without risking a devastat-
ing strike against South Korea. Hundreds of thousands of people or more
could be killed in Seoul, which is within the range of conventional weapons
in North Korea. If South Korea suffered such a large loss of life because of a
basically unilateral American strike, it would be the end not only of the South
KoreanUS alliance but of NATO as well. No countries would tie themselves
to the United States if Washington, through its own actions, could take mea-
sures that result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of their citizens.

Stephen D. Krasner is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the co-chair
of Hoovers Working Group on Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy. He is also the
Graham H. Stuart Professor of International Relations at Stanford University and
a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 77
Second, China is the only country that mightand the key word is
mightbe able to engineer a leadership change in North Korea and an end
to Pyongyangs nuclear and missile program. If China were confident that it
could alter the leadership in North Korea and introduce Chinese-like poli-
cies for economic development, it probably would have done so long ago. A
greater role for China, which the Trump administration has embraced, is not
a guarantee of success but it is the only possible path to success.
Since the United States cannot act unilaterally and since China is the only
country that might be able to change North Korean policies, the question is
this: what would persuade the Chinese to adopt a more risk-acceptant stance
and pressure the North to abandon its nuclear ambitions, recognizing that
the outcome of any such effort would remain uncertain?

The United States, South Korea, and China do not have the same priorities.
The first best option for all the most relevant parties is a soft landing for
North Korea in which the regime endures but minus Kim, the North gives
up its nuclear weapons and missiles, and Pyongyang introduces economic
reforms that mirror those Deng Xiaoping brought to China. The next best
option for the United States, however, is the denuclearization of North Korea
and the end of its missile program even if this means a messy implosion of
the regime. For South Korea and China, the implosion of the North Korean
regime would present huge and probably unmanageable challenges.
The population of North
Korea is about twenty-five
Why would the North Koreans believe million, half that of South
us? Why would we believe them? Korea, and its per capita
income in nominal terms
is less than 3 percent of the Souths. The North Korean people have lived
under a repressive dictatorship with limited access to outside information for
several generations. If their regime collapsed, would China and South Korea
shoot people at the Yalu River or the DMZ? For both countries, the prospect
of political chaos is a nightmare.
The most obvious option, direct US negotiations with North Korea, is a
nonstarter. The North has demanded for years that the United States sign a
peace treaty that recognizes the regime and guarantees its security. Succes-
sive US administrations have resisted, and not just because there would be
a political cost for a picture of an American president shaking hands with a
Kim. Regardless of the political fallout in the United States, it is hard to see


UP, UP, AND AWAY: Video footage shows North Koreans celebrating as a
monitor displays an image of a rocket launch in late July. Pyongyangs missile
technology is advancing steadily, with the latest rockets apparently able to hit
targets on the US mainland, though their re-entry stability has been ques-
tioned. [Yonhap]

how the United States could make a credible commitment to the Norththat
is, a commitment the North would believeor how North Korea could make
a credible commitment to the United States to give up its nuclear and missile
program. Why would they believe us? Why would we believe them? Direct
negotiations are a dead end.
A more appealing, at least possible, option is the replacement of Kim Jong
Un with a leader in the North who might support different policies. China is
the only country that could achieve such an outcome. If, however, leadership
change in the North were easy, China would have done it long ago. Pressuring
the North would be risky for China.
What might make the Chinese more likely to act? China above all does not
want a stronger American position in East Asia and the western Pacific. A
unified Korea allied with the United States would be unacceptable to China,
a clear signal that Chinese power had peaked. But a Korean Peninsula still
divided, with a North Korea bound closely to China and Kim Jong Un gone
and with a South Korea free of American troops, would be an attractive
option for China.
Withdrawing all US troops from South Korea even if the USSouth Korean
alliance endures would be a costly move for the United States. The Trump

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 79
administration, however, has called into question the commitment of the
United States to its allies, and those allies will be searching for security
alternativesnot just in Asia but in Europe as well. This evokes the question
the French asked in the 1950s, when deciding to develop their own nuclear
capacity: would the United States give up New York for Paris? The question
never had an unambiguous answer.

So there exists a deal the United States could credibly offer to China: leader-
ship change in North Korea and the end to nuclear and missile programs
there, in exchange for the withdrawal of American troops from the peninsula.
A North Korean commitment to end its nuclear program made by a leader
dependent on China would be more credible than any commitment made by
This strikes me as the most plausible prospective deal. Direct negotiations
between the United States and North Korea will not work, because the United
States cannot credibly commit to not attacking the North and because a North
Korean regime led by Kim cannot credibly promise to end its nuclear and mis-
sile programs. If a troop withdrawal and regime change deal were successful,
China would gain a subservient ally and a demonstration of its ability to change
American behavior in East Asia. South Korea would get a reduced threat from
the North, but at the cost of removing the American tripwire. The United
States would get an end to the threat of a North Korean nuclear attack, but at
the cost of altering its alliance. Of course, the Chinese might fail.
In that case, the only option for the United States would be the one that we
have implicitly relied on, which is deterrence: attack us and you will be dead,
literally dead.

Reprinted by permission of the Lawfare Institute.2017 The Lawfare

Institute. All rights reserved.

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Lee. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.




Smarter Waiting
America should stop wishing for Kim Jong Un to
go away, warns Hoover senior fellow William J.
Perry, one of our most seasoned diplomats. This
daydreaming only gets in the way of hardheaded

By Michael Knigge

oover senior fellow William J. Perry served as US secretary
of defense under President Clinton from 1994 to 1997. After
his tenure at the Pentagon, he observed Korean affairs up
close while serving as Clintons special envoy to North Korea.
Perry is also the founder of the Perry Project, which aims to educate the
public about the danger of nuclear weapons in the twenty-first century.
Days after the death of an American student who had been detained by
North Korea under the guise of having committed crimes against the state,
Deutsche Welle asked Perry for his take on the dangers posed by Kim Jong
Uns unpredictable regime, the current diplomatic stalemate, and whether
there were any prospects for dtente or even a unified Korea.

Michael Knigge, Deutsche Welle: Before the death of American student

Otto Warmbier after his return from North Korea, you said that you saw
an opening for diplomacy with North Korea. Has Otto Warmbiers death
changed your thinking?

William J. Perry is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Freeman
Spogli Institute for International Studies. He is the Michael and Barbara Berbe-
rian Professor at Stanford University and co-director of the Nuclear Risk Reduc-
tion initiative and the Preventive Defense Project. Michael Knigge is the US
correspondent for Deutsche Welle.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 81
William J. Perry: It has not, because Id already believed that this regime
was ruthless and the actions they had taken with this hostage were very
similar to the actions they have taken with the other hostages and to assas-
sination attempts they made in South Korea. So if we are going into negotia-
tion with North Korea, we have to do it with our eyes wide open. This is a
ruthless, ruthless regime and we should understand that from the beginning.
Its a ruthless regime that has nuclear weapons and we have to find a way of
dealing with those nuclear weapons. My contention is that the only reason-
able way to deal with them today is through diplomacy, and I do think we
have an opportunity to succeed in diplomacy.

Knigge: According to media reports, North Koreas ambassador to India

said the country is willing to talk to the United States about a nuclear test-
ing freeze, and Chinas foreign minister and South Koreas new president
have also been pushing for new negotiations with North Korea in talks with
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis.
President Trump recently seemed to close the door on trying to work with
China on the North Korean issue while his secretary of state appeared to try
to hold that door open. Do you think the Trump administration is speaking
with one voice on North Korea and has a coherent strategy for dealing with
the country?

Perry: President Trump has said contradictory things about negotiating with
North Korea, so I dont take that as a guideline. I think the important thing
is what the security team is saying. In this case, I think Tillerson and Mattis
and possibly [national security adviser H. R.] McMaster are all interested in
looking at the possibility of negotiations. So its possible that they will come
up with a negotiating approach and present it to the president.

Knigge: Trump has said that all options are on the table. Do you see a pre-
emptive strike, a military option, being a viable path forward?

Perry: I have myselfboth when I was secretary of defense and, later, when
I was advising the governmentseriously considered pre-emptive strikes as
a military option. But whether or not this was a good idea in those days, I am
persuaded, I am convinced its not a good idea today. A military strike would
lead surely to a military response against the South and would do much dam-
age to the South even with conventional weapons. It would likely involve the
United States because weve got almost thirty thousand troops over there,
and it could all too easily escalate into a nuclear conflict. So I would not rec-
ommend a pre-emptive military strike at this time.


REACH OUT: Former defense secretary William J. Perry, left, arrives at the
Pentagon last June to meet with Defense Secretary James Mattis. Perry says of
past US policy makers, I think theyve never seriously considered the goals of
the other side. [Sgt. Amber I. SmithUS Army]

Knigge: You have said that the United States, under both the Bush and
Obama administrations, never really had a negotiating strategy that made
sense and could be successful. Why is that and what would a successful US
negotiating strategy look like?

Perry: First, I think theyve never seriously considered the goals of the other
side. North Koreas goal is to achieve the security for their regime, sustaining
the Kim regime. And economic incentives, which we offered them, theyd like
to have, but they would not do it at the expense of their regime. Their entire
goal is to sustain the regime.
The Bush administration quite clearly was hoping for and pushing for a
collapse of the regime. So that was not to be. The Obama administration had
something they called strategic patience. I guess one interpretation of that is
just, be patient and wait until the regime collapses. So to me that did not have
a serious diplomatic approach which dealt with North Koreas goals, which were

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 83
to sustain their regime, sustain the Kim dynasty. If we cannot do that, we might
as well not waste time trying to negotiate.

Knigge: What would a reasonable, realistic goal in possible negotiations be

for the United States now, since North Korea has these nuclear weapons that
the six-party talks actually tried to prevent?

Perry: My goal, when I negotiated with them many years ago, was complete
elimination of the nuclear programs and long-range missiles. And we had a shot at
achieving that goal in those days. Today the bar is much higher, because now they
already have a nuclear arsenal and they are not likely to give it up easily. So today
I think that although we still want to retain the goal of eliminating the nuclear
weapons on the Korean Peninsula, we have to do it in two stages. First stage
would be to get a freeze on
the nuclear weapons and
If we are going into negotiation with their long-range missiles,
North Korea, we have to do it with our and we can do that verifi-
ably by controlling the test-
eyes wide open.
ing. And the second goal,
once we have achieved that, would be to start rolling back the nuclear weapons.
So its a complicated and slow process, but thats how we would have to approach
it today.

Knigge: Do you see that Europe, or even Germany, has a role to play in this

Perry: I think that at this stage, if the six parties are involved, it is sufficient.
But when it gets to the stage where the nuclear problem is solved, and the
question becomes one of unification, I think Germanys background and
experience could be very useful in the discussion.

Reprinted by permission of Deutsche Welle ( 2017

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The Stalin
Kim Jong Un learned many things from the USSRs
master of repression. Kims bloody efforts to prop
up the family dynasty, however, are all his own.

By Paul R. Gregory

orth Korea is known for its eccentricity, nuclear and missile
programs, desperate poverty, and, increasingly, the execution
of its elite. The most sensational recent case was the brazen
poisoning of Kim Jong Nam, half-brother of Outstanding
Leader Kim Jong Un, in a Malaysian airport.
We cannot penetrate the veil of secrecy that shrouds North Korea, but
we can use the well-documented history of Josef Stalins repression to draw
parallelsand note the differencesbetween the Soviet Union of the 1930s
and the North Korea of the present day.
Both Stalin and Kim Jong Un used extreme terror to remain in power. Both
were prolific murderers of their inner circle. Stalin had almost 70 percent
of the 139 central committee members elected in 1934 executed. In his short
rule since 2011, Kim has executed 341 people, 130 of them government offi-
cials. Although we cannot calculate an exact percentage, Kim, like Stalin, has
executed a significant portion of his 303-member central committee.

Paul R. Gregory is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the Cullen

Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Houston and a research
professor at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 85
[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]


Stalin pulled off a remarkable feat which Kim probably hopes to match.
Despite killing off a substantial portion of his inner circle, many of them
military officers and secret police with access to arms, Stalin died of natural
causes. He perished after a stroke. Moreover, there were no known assas-
sination attempts on Stalins life. So far, there have been no credible reports
of attempts on the North Korean leaders life, only fanciful rumors. He would
certainly prefer to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both
of whom also died of natural causes.
Avoiding assassination while killing off your inner circle is not easy. As the
number of executions grows and their seemingly arbitrary nature becomes
apparent, members of the inner circle grow
tempted to plot against the leader, not
from thirst for power but for per-
sonal survival. The leader under-
stands this danger and must
take measures to thwart these
threats. He must impose
an extreme cost on those
plotting or even think-
ing of moving against
him. Potential plotters
must be made fearful
of recruiting others
willing to challenge
the leader and must
believe that their
chances of suc-
cess are small.
Stalin was a
master of coup

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 87
His methods included a low threshold for possible guilt; making informal
meetings of members of his inner circle a crime; arresting (and in some cases
executing) wives as a loyalty test; requiring signed confessions, through
torture if necessary; playing one deputy off against another; dividing and
conquering by repressing one group while expressing confidence in oth-
ers; not sparing his own relatives and childhood friends; and carving out no
exceptions for women. Stalin also observed the principle of contagion, that
is, that those in contact with traitors (such as relatives and friends) could
infect the rest of the population. As such, they had to be removed as well,
if not through execution then through a long sentence in gulag camps built
especially for relatives of traitors.
Stalin executed most of his victims under the infamous Article 58 of the
Soviet criminal code. This article covered the political crimes of espionage,
counterrevolutionary sabotage, and aiding foreign powers, among others.
The foreign threat was the most prominent justification of Stalins political
purges. Article 58 prosecutions diverted blame for policy failures to sinister
foreign powers who were being aided, the story went, by domestic agents try-
ing to overthrow the worker-state as represented by Stalin.
Though its unclear how Kim operates, there are instances where he has
followed Stalins playbook. His reasons for denouncing someone as guilty are
often arbitrary, including
disrespect, a failure to
As executions increase, members of follow orders, suspicious
a leaders inner circle grow tempted to connections, a bad atti-
plot against himnot from thirst for tude, a wife protesting
her husbands execution,
power but for personal survival.
or even the watching of
South Korean soap operas. In one case, he executed the manager of a turtle
farm after he attempted to explain why turtles were dying. Like Stalin, Kim
insists on the appearance of a proper legal proceeding, the most important
ingredient being a public confession. His uncle confessed before a military
tribunal to being a traitor of all ages, human scum, and plotting Kims
overthrow. And Kim clearly believes in contagion: five direct relatives were
executed alongside the uncle. His aunt was later poisoned.
Kim has followed Stalin and carried on the Kim family legacy by convicting
his victims of working for foreign enemies and engaging in counterrevolu-
tion. As one South Korean expert writes: All regimes under the Kim dynasty
tried to evade crises by shifting responsibilities onto political rivals to purge
them. . . . Most victims of purges in North Korea had been purged on charges


OPEN WIDE: Donated flash drives are plugged into images of North Korean
leader Kim Jong Un at the Human Rights Foundations Flash Drives for Free-
dom wall at last Julys Def Con hacker gathering in Las Vegas. The foundation
uses the donated thumb drives to smuggle informationfilms, books, TV
shows, and Internet contentinto North Korea. [Steve MarcusReuters]

of being a spy or as an anti-party, anti-revolutionary criminal . . . what North

Korean people [are supposed to] consider the greatest crime.
Kim and Stalin, however, follow different approaches to the execution
of enemies of the people. When Stalin wished to make an example of his
victim, he used public show trials that mimicked a legal proceeding, the cli-
maxes of which were confession and sentencing. He perfected this technique
to such a degree that, in 1938, he conducted long show-trial extravaganzas in
Moscow with multiple defendants. The most illustrious old Bolsheviks duti-
fully confessed and accepted their death sentences with bowed heads. Stalin
was so confident of his orchestration that he invited the foreign press. Execu-
tions under Stalin were carried out in secret by a bullet to the back of the
head, in prison basements or before open pits in killing fields. Stalin wished
to hide the enormous magnitude of his purges.
The North Korean regime, to the contrary, performs public executions
before assembled crowds, often using barbaric techniques such as burning

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 89
alive by blowtorch or obliteration by mortar fire. Execution by firing squad
appears to be reserved for ordinary enemies of the people, almost an act of
mercy, as was beheading (versus quartering) in Europes Middle Ages. Unlike
Stalin, Kim wants public executions to intimidate potential opponents.
Perhaps one day researchers will have access to the official records of North
Korea as we do for Stalins regime. Most of Stalins victims were ordinary
workers, peasants, or technicians. The limited data for North Korea focus
more on executions of the elite. Both Stalin and the Kim dynasty used gulags to
isolate their enemies and to extract forced labor from the inmates, but that
is another story. When the
North Korean records are
In the end, are we dealing with a mad-
open, we shall understand
man or a calculating opponent who the extent to which Kim
may wish to give the impression of used the same methods as
madness? Stalin to avoid being over-
thrown by his own inner
circle. We will know whether he, like Stalin, made unauthorized meetings of
associates criminal conspiracies. Did he target one group while assuring others
that he was their best friend? Did he arrest the wives of his deputies? Was he
willing to execute childhood friends or favorite mistresses?
Kim Jong Un is third in the succession of the Kim hereditary dynasty, in
which the leaders torch is passed, at death, to the son. Stalin had no interest
in creating a dynasty. In fact, he considered both of his sons unworthy and
did little to promote their careers. He refused to exchange his captured elder
son for a high-ranking German general during World War II. If anything,
Stalin made sure that his offspring had no political ambitions. After Stalins
death, the wary survivors of his inner circle decided on a collective rule with
the party general secretary as the first among equals. Stalins cult of person-
ality was rejected and reviled. After the execution of would-be Stalin succes-
sor Lavrentiy Beria, elite executions ceased under the post-Stalin collective
rule. Each general secretary served until death, and his successor was then
chosen from the inner circle. Although factions lobbied for their favorite
candidate, the power struggle proceeded without blood. The Soviet system
had settled down into a political equilibrium of sorts.
With hereditary dynasties, succession has involved power struggles, purg-
es, and the creation of new cults of personality. The North Korean dynastys
founder, Kim Il Sung, had to eliminate a diverse opposition, which included
a pro-Soviet faction. The succession struggle he fought was reminiscent of


Stalins battle with Leon Trotsky and Nikolai Bukharin. We lack solid figures
on the number of people Kim Il Sung had killed, but one estimate places the
figure above one million. His son and successor, Kim Jong Il, went through
a long apprenticeship, preparing the Hermit Kingdom for his succession.
Rumors suggest behind-the-scenes power struggles and assassination
attempts within Kim Il Sungs family as wives, sons, uncles, and daughters
jockeyed for succession. Kim Jong Ils second son, Kim Jong Un, took the
reins of power rather unexpectedly with the premature death of his father
and considerable doubt as to his leadership capacities. His purges may even-
tually match those of his grandfather.
A careful study of postwar dictatorships shows that dictators are most
often removed by members of their immediate circle. Military dictators are
replaced by their generals, civilian dictators by fellow civilians. For mon-
archs, removal by family members is the second most frequent source of
coups. Kim Jong Un murdering his relatives is not the action of a paranoid
and eccentric ruler. Rather, it follows a long traditiondating back to Rome
and ancient Koreaof hereditary dictators murdering kin and relatives. It
should come as no surprise that the young leader of the worlds only commu-
nist hereditary dictatorship is killing off his kin.
The fact that two brutal dictators, separated by sixty years, pursue similar
repressive policies raises the question of rational behavior. What appears to
outsiders as irrational paranoia is actually the rational pursuit of objectives
through unconventional methods. As the United States determines its policy
toward North Korea, we must understand whether we are dealing with a
madman or a calculating opponent who may wish to give the impression of
madness and unpredictability. So far, it seems as if were working with the

Reprinted from Defining Ideas (

ideas), a Hoover Institution online journal. 2017 The Board of Trustees
of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

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H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 91


Patience Wears
The waiting game on the Korean Peninsula grows
more dangerous.

By Thomas H. Henriksen

orth Koreas decades-long quest for nuclear warheads capable
of hitting the American homeland has been compared by
some to a slow-moving Cuban missile crisis. The analogy, like
many analogies, is wanting. The famous 1962 nuclear stand-
off between the United States and the Soviet Union witnessed two mature
superpowers calculating their vital interests over Moscows gambit for a
forward missile base in Cuba. During the tense month of October that year,
the White House and the Kremlin took the measure of each other and wisely
concluded the nuclear game was not worth planetary annihilation. Sober
minds produced a sober outcome. Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea,
evinces no such sobriety.
The atomic threat stemming from unstable and secretive North Korea
has less in common with the confrontation fifty-five years ago than with an
unpredictable summer storm. Then, the world stood on the brink of the
unthinkable when both global giants had their fingers on the nuclear trigger.

Thomas H. Henriksen is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.


Neither thundered the ominous and warlike intentions repeatedly uttered by
the North Korean tyrant. Yet, the two crises bear similarities to past follies
that led to wars. Kims brutal dictatorship evokes the mindset of previous
war-prone dictators, whofrom Napoleon to Hitler to Saddam Hussein
misjudged the ultimate militancy of democracies when facing threats.
As Kim races toward missile and nuclear capacity to deliver bombs beyond
East Asia to American shores, he could cross the threshold from saber-rat-
tling to nuclear war through overconfidence, panic, or, most likely, miscalcu-
lation. Ultimately the trigger for war would make little difference to those on
the receiving end of an atomic strike.


War on the Korean Peninsula to pre-empt Kims nuclear missile tests is not
lightly considered. North Koreas military possesses massive artillery and
multiple-rocket launchers that could rain down death on millions of people in
the Souths nearby capital. The North Korean army has tucked these conven-
tional weapons in mountainous hideouts just north of the Demilitarized Zone
(DMZ)a four-kilometer strip established between North Korea and South
Korea at the end of the 195053 Korean War. On each side of the DMZ resides
the most fortified border in the world, where the antagonists stand on hair-
trigger alert for war. Should war come, the Norths forceswith their under-
ground tunnelsare expected to crash through the Souths DMZ defenses.
South Korea and the United States have the ultimate capability to repel
and crush the North
Korean armed forces,
but the cost to prevail All US administrations have adhered
would be immensenot to the wisdom of not cornering North
just in lives but in the Korea, no matter how many sword-
expense of an expensive waving antics its desperate regime
occupation and rebuild-
ing of the North as well
as the South. Besides, China would almost undoubtedly intervene, as it did
during the Korean War with waves of infantry. Even when won, a second
Korean War would present the ultimate Pyrrhic victory.
War on the Korean Peninsula would unsettle all of Asia, as the promontory
extending from China is a global crossroads for all the major world powers
Russia, China, America, South Korea, and Japan. These geostrategic fac-
tors have made the neighboring states favor the status quo for the past half
century. A major conflict would transform North and South Korea as well as

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 93
the geopolitical configuration of the region in unpredictable ways. There is a
distinct possibility that a peninsula war would develop into a Sino-American
conflict, as occurred in the Korean War. Russia and Japan might also be
drawn into what could escalate into World War III. It is little wonder that all
US presidential administrations since the fall of the Berlin Wall have been so
circumspect in their dealings with Pyongyang. All have adhered to the wis-
dom of not cornering North Korea, no matter how many sword-waving antics
its desperate regime performs. Instead, they have resorted to medium-level
deterrence, bribes, agreements, and near-endless talks to reconcile the recal-
citrant dynastic dictatorship.
Ruling out war (unless
forced upon the United
We must drive home the message to States), Washington must
Pyongyang that launching nuclear confront the growing
arms would amount to little more menace of a belligerent
than suicide. and erratic Kim, soon to
possess nuclear-tipped
intercontinental missiles, with a powerful US deterrent. In short, we need a
ring of steel around North Korea. The point of an overwhelming nuclear and
conventional posture is to drive home the message to Pyongyang that launch-
ing nuclear arms would amount to little more than courting suicide. The United
States sent this message to the Soviet Union for decades, with great success.
So far the Pentagon has partially installed one Terminal High Altitude
Area Defense (THAAD) missile battery in South Korea to shoot down the
Norths short- and intermediate-range rockets. The US Navy has deployed
destroyers and cruisers with Aegis antimissile systems to Korean waters. No
doubt American nuclear submarines lurk beneath the surface not far away.
These positive initial steps need augmenting with additional missile defense
installations in the South and beyond.
It behooves Washington to buttress its defensive platforms with more
THAADs and the Aegis Ashore ground-to-air interceptors (like those being
stood up in Romania) on South Korean soil, the US base on Guam, Hawaii,
and perhaps some of Japans islands to contain the threat. Facilities beyond
South Korea have become more of a necessity as the new government of
Moon Jae In has halted the full deployment of the first THAAD system in
deference to Beijings opposition. Indeed, Tokyo is considering obtaining the
Aegis Ashore system.
Finally, the Pentagon could consider frequent, routine flights of US nuclear-
capable bombers in the friendly skies near North Korea. These defensive


measures would reassure regional allies and enhance our deterrent capacity.
During the Cold War, the United States amassed a huge nuclear deterrent
against the Soviet Union, which never contemplated denuclearizing complete-
lyjust as North Korea will never abandon its fearsome weapons. But American
policy could prevent the use of those weapons, as it did with the Soviet Union.


These measures will also gain leverage with China, the major patron of North
Korea, which vociferously protested the first THAAD installation. By placing
additional defensive arms in the region, the United States will give China an
incentive to rethink its ill-advised posture toward North Korea. Beijing did
its best to marginalize the United States from East Asia during the Obama
presidency. At minimum, a prudent military buildup responds to Beijings
expansive island reclamation and fortification in the South China Sea since
2014. This approach would also reinforce the Obama administrations half-
hearted Asian pivot policy. Only the presence of US hard power would reas-
sure allies and warn peer competitors of American interests.
The Trump administration hopes to drive a wedge between Beijing and
Pyongyang to further isolate the rogue regime. Cutting Chinas economic
and political lifelines to Pyongyang is the only practical means to tighten the
international sanctions already placed on the Kim dictatorship to compel it
to cap its missile and nuclear ambitions. So far, China has been spared any
real costs for its unremitting sponsorship of the worlds most dangerous
nation. Sanctions on Chinese citizens and businesses will further increase
the wages of Chinas backing.
Cautious defensive actions afford the only realistic option at this time to
contain the North Korean threat.

Reprinted from Defining Ideas (

ideas), a Hoover Institution online journal. 2017 The Board of Trustees
of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Eyes,

Ears, and Daggers: Special Operations Forces
and the Central Intelligence Agency in Americas
Evolving Struggle against Terrorism, by Thomas H.
Henriksen. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 95


The Russian Revolution, a vast and bloody
experiment, began a hundred years ago. Hoover
fellow Norman M. Naimark insists there are
lessons we still need to take from such forced

By Svetlana Suveica and Sergiu Musteata

Svetlana Suveica and Sergiu Musteaa, PLURAL magazine: Professor

Naimark, you were one of the first American historians to research and
publish about the roots of the Russian revolutionary movement and the
emergence of Marxism in the Russian empire. There were waves in historical
writing about 1917, starting with the traditional view that stressed the inevi-
table course of revolution and the crucial role of the party elite to the first
critical reactions of Russian migrs. After the Cold War era, we witnessed
revised approaches that filled in the 1917 puzzle with new pieces. Is there still
room for research? Is there still a necessity to write, or rewrite, about the
revolutionaries and the crucial events of 1917?

Norman M. Naimark is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Free-
man Spogli Institute for International Studies. He is also the Robert and Florence
McDonnell Professor of East European Studies at Stanford University, where he is
the Fisher Family Director of the Global Studies Division. Svetlana Suveica is a
researcher at the Institute of History, University of Regensburg, and an associate
professor at Moldova State University in Chis,inau. Sergiu Musteata is a profes-

sor in the history and geography department of Ion Creanga Pedagogical State
University in Chis,inau.


Norman M. Naimark: There is always room for more research, not just
because every generation writes and rewrites history in its own way, asking
questions relevant to the interests of new generations. Now there tends to
be an emphasis on not looking at the 1917 revolution as a hiatus in Russian
history but rather seeing the period from the turn of the twentieth century to
the mid-1920sfrom Pyotr Stolypin to Nikolai Bukharin, if you willas one
of continuity, of the state trying to solve the problems of Russian backward-
ness through economic and political reform. There is also a general tendency
to be more sympathetic to the czarist regime, given the failure of the Soviet.
So there is more work on the political, social, and cultural life of late imperial
Russia. As for the Russian revolutionaries of the nineteenth century, they
are back in vogue, as they were in the 1960s and 1970s, when scholars were
interested in radical movements in Europe and the United States. With our
own fascination with Islamist terrorism, scholars are looking at the Russian
terrorists for clues to how one can understand bomb throwing as a political
act. There were even Russian suicide bombers at the turn of the century.
The other important aspect of this question that I wrote about in an article
called Terrorism and the Fall of Imperial Russia is how a state reacts to
terrorism. I arguedand still believethat the Russian autocracy overre-
acted to the terrorist threat and therewith undermined its own legitimacy,
helping in that way to bring down the government. The US and European
governments have to be very careful not to overreact to terrorism; they
should not break their own laws or engage in illegal activities that would call
their democracies into question.

PLURAL: The 1917 revolution is considered one of the main turning points of
the twentieth century. We historians know that each event is unique, due to
the circumstances that led to its evolution, the actors, each playing its role,
and immediate and long-lasting outcomes. Nevertheless, are the 1917 events
comparable with other historical periods, and if so, to which extent? Is here a
comparative historical exercise useful?

Naimark: Comparative history is always useful for gaining insights about

what is the same about certain events and what is different. Since the days
of Crane Brintons The Anatomy of Revolution, the exercise of trying to
understand revolution in its comparative perspective can be very produc-
tive. The French Revolution is obviously the granddaddy of all revolu-
tions, and the patterns established in that revolution repeat themselves, as
Leon Trotsky and others have pointed out. The Chinese and Cuban revo-
lutions also go through similar phases. One learns a lot about revolution

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 97
IN THE STREETS: The Bolshevik, a 1920 painting by Boris Kustodiev
(18781927), offers a typically heroic view of the Russian Revolution. Kus-
todiev also produced images of Vladimir Lenin intended for mass reproduc-
tion. Revolutionary experiments usually entail utopian visions, which, when
faced with the harsh realities of human behavior and societal vicissitudes,
cannot be fulfilled, says Hoover fellow Norman M. Naimark. [Tretyakov Gallery]

by counterposing how they happen, how events accelerate, and how the
revolution is betrayed in various ways.

PLURAL: The 1917 revolution was considered a seminal event in the history
of the Soviet Union. Today it is no more a myth of a lone-genius Vladimir
Lenin; it has also lost the status of the cornerstone event that legitimized the
Soviet regime. If not a myth, what is revolution today, after a hundred years?
A shadow that follows the Russians? A burden that one wants to get rid of
but cannot?

Naimark: I think of the 1917 revolution, more than anything, as a great

watershed in the history of Russia. There are other ways to think about it,
as we just discussed. Above all, it belongs to Russia and ends a long period
of autocratic rule, one could argue since Ivan of Muscovy, but at least since


Peter the Great in the beginning of the eighteenth century. The Russian
autocracy was a powerful combination of political, religious, national, and
bureaucratic institutions that intersected at the pinnacle with the Russian
czar. That in 1917 the Russian czar was overthrown, liberal attempts to
reconstruct power in the Provisional Government failed, and the Bolsheviks
took over were events of worldwide importance.
The Cold War, usually dated from the 194547 period, could also be seen
as beginning in 1917. The prominent role of communism in the twentieth
century is really about the victory of the Bolshevik Revolution. Without Mos-
cows influence on the world after 1917, the shape of international politics
not to mention Russian politicswould have been much, much different. It is
a huge event in shaping even our contemporary world. After all, the phe-
nomenon of Vladimir Putin can be interpreted as an unusual mix of Russian
autocratic traditions and the Bolshevik Chekist culture. Putin = Nicholas I
+ Dzerzhinsky. Even US policy today is shaped by 1917; we still experience
Russia through the lenses of the Cold War and cannot separate the Moscow
of then from the new Moscow.

PLURAL: The twentieth century was a time when millions of people lived
with the belief that revolution is a simple, effective tool to change the politi-
cal order, and that revolution belonged to everyone. This is mainly due to the
successful Soviet propaganda that lasted many decades. Was this, all in all, a
negative belief, or did something positive also come out of it?

Naimark: Negative and positive are evaluations that historians try to avoid.
Our job is to understand what happened and why, and describe those events
clearly and accurately, without judging. With that said, my own view is that
the Russian Revolution and the Soviet experimentand the Chinese,
Cuban, Southeast Asian, and East European variants that derived from it
created enormous harm without the commensurate good that would have
perhaps justified it.
Revolutionary experiments usually entail utopian visions, which, when
faced with the harsh realities of human behavior and societal vicissitudes,
cannot be fulfilled. The frustration of revolutionaries in this context frequent-
ly leads to attempts to violently implement their policies, causing immense
social and individual harm. Think about the Great Leap Forward (195859),
which cost anywhere from thirty million to forty-five million Chinese lives,
all to fulfill Maos utopian ideas about the transformation of the countryside.
The costs of Soviet modernization were similarly extremely high, tak-
ing tens of millions of lives in the end and creating by force an economic

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 99
structure that hurt more than it aided the welfare of its citizens. The horrors
of the rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia derive from similar forced uto-
pias that, in the end, created hell on earth rather than heaven. In my view
such revolutionary acts of transformation landed Russia and Russians in an
economic dead end, and they are still trying to find their way out.

PLURAL: The bureau-

cratic and authoritar-
The frustration of revolutionaries fre- ian nature of the Soviet
quently leads to attempts to violently regime is considered one
implement their policies, causing of the main causes of the
immense social and individual harm. collapse of Soviet colos-
sus in 1991. Was this an
outlived Bolshevik legacy? Should one interpret the collapse of the Soviet
empire as the end of the Bolshevik era?

Naimark: Certainly, one should think of the Soviet period as lasting from
1917 to 1991. Some would suggest Bolshevism was over with Gorbachev and
perestroika. I dont think so. Mikhail Sergeyevich tried to revive, as we know,
the original spirit of Bolshevism through his reforms, but this just did not
work. My view is that one of the major problems for the Soviet Union was
economic. This supposed great power simply could not perform well enough
to keep up with the pretensions of empire and the needs of the Russian
people and others in the Soviet Union. Another problem was that the ideol-
ogy no longer motivated
anyone, either in govern-
Vladimir Putin can be interpreted as ment (where this created
an unusual mix of Russian autocratic enormous corruption) or
traditions and the Bolshevik Chekist in society, where cynicism
and duplicity prevailed.
The experiment failed and
came to an end, almost miraculously to an almost completely peaceful end,
especially when one thinks of all the blood that was shed to keep it going.

PLURAL: Today, nostalgia for Soviet times is not uncommon for the older
generation. One of the arguments is the experience of equality, the lack
of the drive for wealth, which gave people the feeling that all have the
same chance for success and a bright future. Nevertheless, one would
notice that gaining the elite social status required, most important, years
of dedication to the Communist Party. This led to bureaucratic expansion


and corruption that outlasted the system itself. It was the elite world,
on the one side, and the world of the others, the simple citizens, on the
other side. The latter must have sensed it; nevertheless, many of them
express nostalgia for these times. How can one explain this nostalgia to
the younger generation?

Naimark: There is almost always nostalgia for earlier and simpler times.
Change is hard on everyone, whether established and well off or not doing
as well as one would wish. Im nostalgic for the old Stanford and the old Bay
Area, when things were inexpensive, there was no traffic, and one didnt have
to bother with constantly mastering new technologies. I dislike the world of
iPhones and Twitter. And my ninety-six-year-old mother doesnt like comput-
ers at all. My students would think this was all silly.
I can understand the nostalgia of those older folks in your region who lived
under communism and remember the social benefits, the lack of worry about
pensions, and the good times they had even when there were shortages and
nothing in the stores to
buy. There was a kind of
security and comfort in We still experience Russia through
not having any power at the lenses of the Cold War and cannot
all, not having any seri- separate the Moscow of then from the
ous consumer choices, new Moscow.
not knowing very much
about the outside world, and simply living day to day, doing ones jobwheth-
er it was a real one or notand enjoying family and friends. It is hard to be
shoved into a new hurly-burly world of competition and inequality, though, as
you noted, of course there was inequality in the communist system, as well,
in some ways even worse. But it wasnt so noticeable.
Its important to point out that nostalgia, like most forms of memory, is
also frequently subject to distortion. People tend to forget the bad parts of
the communist past and remember the good ones, and even misrepresent
to themselves the relationship between the two. Nostalgia produces an
unreal sense of the past. But some people need that as a way to face the
uncertain present and future. The problem is, of course, that this produces
some nasty political results, and not just in your part of the world: in the
United States as well, where Mr. Trump appeals to an idea of America
that first of all never really existed, and second, is unattainable in a rap-
idly changing global environment. There is no going backbut again,
the back that he and others imagine was not really what they think

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 101

was there. I think its the same for the most part for those nostalgic for

PLURAL: On January 21, April 22, and November 7, the former communists
and their sympathizers bring flowers to Lenins monument in Chiinu. Some
argue that tearing down the monument will break down the memory of a
glorious revolution. What would be left?

Naimark: I think it is a good thing to have a monument of Lenin around, as

a way to remember a part of your history that should not be forgotten and
needs to be integrated in a longer view of the Moldovan past and future. Of
course, I wouldnt neces-
sarily bring flowers to the
Nostalgia produces an unreal sense monument in honor of the
of the past. But some people need revolution. As I stated,
that as a way to face the uncertain I think the revolution
present and future. The problem is, of brought enormous harm
course, that this produces some nasty to the people of the Soviet
Union, including the
political results.
Moldovan Republic, and
destroyed the economy and society in ways that still affect peoples lives. The
revolution of 1917 happened for good reasonsbut it was also a tragedy from
which societies in that region are still recovering.
I think pretty much the same about the Great Patriotic War. Here, the bal-
ance may be different. After all, the Soviets defeated the Nazis, a huge accom-
plishment. But its also true that the war brought tragedies along with it. Did
all those people who diedtwenty-seven million, according to the most recent
studiesreally have to die? Did Stalin throw lives away in his sometimes-
irrational military decisions? What about the effects of the Nazi-Soviet pact on
countries like the Baltic states, Ukraine, and Moldova? If one lost ones rela-
tives in the war and wants to honor those soldiers who fell, it would make sense
to remember Victory Day. But I dont think one should place too much empha-
sis on victory simply for the purposes of national identity. A lot went wrong in
that war. One could and should write a well-documented critical history of it.

PLURAL: In the post-Soviet space we are concerned with finding out the
ultimate truth: about the revolution, about the Soviet past and its legacy.
You were a member of the commissions for historical truth in Lithuania,
Latvia, and Estonia. How did the work of the commissions affect politics and
society in these countries?


Naimark: The peoples of the region need to understand that there is not a
zero-sum game involved in the question of victimhood. In other words, Esto-
nians, Latvians, and Lithuanians (and Moldovans) were surely victims of the
Nazis and victims of the Soviet occupation. They now have the opportunity
to use archives, published papers, and books, and to argue with one another
about what happened to their peoples at the hands of these two occupiers
during the period of the Nazi-Soviet pact, the period of Nazi occupation, and
the period of Soviet liberation and occupation.
But it is also true that the Baltic peoples, Ukrainians, Moldovans, and oth-
ers were perpetrators, meaning they sometimes murdered Jews, collaborated
with the Nazis (as well as resisted), and collaborated with the Soviets (as well
as resisted.) Those local nationals who worked in the Communist parties and
spent their time going back and forth from Moscow had as much to do with
the crimes of communism as did the Russians, sometimes even more so.
All of this requires of scholars (and of society) that they try to look at the
past with empathy for both perpetrators and victims, trying to understand
why people did things in their own terms, but also allow the past its own
integrity. One needs to try to separate ones identity, passions, likes, and
dislikes from the past,
and allow that timeIm
speaking now of the war, The revolution of 1917 happened for
193945to speak for good reasonsbut it was also a trage-
itself as honestly as one dy from which societies in that region
can let it speak. Thats are still recovering.
not easy, but historians
have done a decent job trying to allow that to happen, and subsequently are
making some progress in helping their respective societies come to terms
with the past. Sometimes, the publications of our colleagues are abstruse and
excessively detailed, but they do trickle down to society, through informed
debates, public activities, appearances on television and radio, and teaching
in universities and secondary schools.

PLURAL: Please share your thoughts about your new book, as well as your
future publication plans.

Naimark: As you know, I just published a book titled Genocide: A World His-
tory. This is really my attempt to wrap up a trajectory of my work on ethnic
cleansing and genocide that began with the war in Bosnia in the mid-1990s.
In this new book, I simply wanted to demonstrate how ubiquitous genocide
has been throughout human history and in all kinds of societies throughout

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 103

the world, and how episodes of genocide are linked with one another, while
being embedded in the human experience. At present, I am at work on a
book that I have tentatively titled The Fight for Sovereignty: Europe and Sta-
lin, 19441949. The idea is
to demonstrate through
Scholars are looking at the Rus- a number of case studies
sian terrorists for clues to how one from various countries in
can understand bomb throwing as a Europe (not just Eastern
political act. Europe) that political
struggle went on during
the immediate postwar period between forces that advocated a Soviet-
style solution to political problems and those who opposed them. I use
seven case studies, sometimes idiosyncratic ones, to point out that the Iron
Curtain did not descend on Europe until the end of the 1940s and beginning
of the 1950s, and that until it did, there was a lot of room for politics and
alternative solutions.

Reprinted by permission of PLURAL (, the jour-

nal of the history and geography department at Ion Creanga Pedagogi-
cal State University in Chis,inau, Moldova. 2017 PLURAL. All rights

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Russia and

Its Islamic World: From the Mongol Conquest to the
Syrian Military Intervention, by Robert Service. To
order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.




Rand Meets Reds

The Bolshevik Revolution triggered ideological
warfare, too, with Ayn Rand among the fiercest
warriors. Her foe: American intellectuals.

By Jennifer Burns

he crowds jostling below, the soldiers marching down icy boule-
vards, the roar of a people possessed: all this a young Ayn Rand
witnessed from her familys apartment, perched high above the
madness near Nevsky Prospekt, a central thoroughfare of Petro-
grad, the Russian city formerly known as St. Petersburg.
These February days were the first turn of a revolutionary cycle that
would end in November and split world history into before and after,
pitting soldier against citizen, republican against Bolshevik, Russian
against Russian. But it wasnt until Rand became a New Yorker, some
seventeen years later, that she realized the revolution had cleaved not
only Russian society, but also intellectual life in her adopted homeland of
the United States.
We usually think of the 1950s as the decade of anti-communism, defined
by Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Hollywood blacklist, and the purging of
suspected communists from unions, schools, and universities. The prelude
to all of that was the 1930s, when the nations intellectuals first grappled with
the meaning and significance of Russias revolution. And it was in this decade
that Ayn Rand came to political consciousness, reworking her opposition

Jennifer Burns is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and an associate

professor of history at Stanford University. She is the author of Goddess of the
Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (Oxford University Press, 2011).

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 105

to Soviet communism into a powerful defense of the individual that would
inspire generations of American conservatives.
Rand is best known as the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged,
but before these came We the Living, the novel perhaps closest to her heart. It
was certainly the novel closest to her life: the protagonist, a gifted engineer-
ing student named Kira Argounova, lived the life that might well have been
Rands, had she stayed in the USSR. But whereas Kira died a dramatic death
trying to escape over the snowy border into Latvia, Rand succeeded in emi-
grating in 1926 and soon made it to Hollywood, the American movie city she
had written about as a Russian film student, which became her first home in
the United States.

By the mid-1930s, after setting about a successful writing career and becom-
ing an American citizen, Rand was ready to explain the country she left
behind. We the Living depicted the quotidian gray of life after the drama of
the October Revolution had faded. What was left were the cynical machina-
tions of party insiders and the struggle to maintain a facade of gentilityone
hostess served potato-skin cookies to guests, who kept their arms pressed
to their sides to hide the holes in their armpits; elbows motionless on their
kneesto hide rubbed patches; feet deep under chairsto hide worn felt
At the novels heart was the quiet despair of hopes crushed by new lines of
class and caste, as students like Kira, punished for her familys former pros-
perity, had their futures stripped away. For Rand, We the Living was more
than a novel, it was a mission.
No one has ever come out of Soviet Russia to tell it to the world, she told
her literary agent. That was my job.
Only, in 1930s America, few wanted to hear what she had to say. When the
novel was published in 1936, capitalism itself was in crisis. The Great Depres-
sion had cast its dark shadow over the American Dream. Bread lines snaked
through the cities; Midwestern farms blew away in clouds of dust. Desper-
ate men drifted across the country and filled up squatters camps of the

AMERICAN ARENA: An advertisement (facing page) at the Ayn Rand Insti-

tute in Irvine offers books by the famous Soviet emigre. Rand waged an enthu-
siastic war of ideas in her new American homeland. No one has ever come
out of Soviet Russia to tell it to the world, she told her literary agent. That
was my job. [Brian CahnZUMA Press]


homeless and workless on the outskirts of small towns, terrifying those who
still had something to lose.
In this moment, Soviet Russia stood out to the nations thinking class as
a sign of hope. Communism, it was believed, had helped Russia avoid the
worst ravages of the Crash. Tides of educated opinion began running strong
to the left.
These were the first quotas of the great drift from Columbia, Harvard,
and elsewhere, the American writerand former Soviet spyWhittaker
Chambers wrote in his 1952 book Witness. A small intellectual army passed
over to the Communist Party with scarcely any effort on its part.
This intellectual army had little interest in a melodramatic novel about the
sufferings of the bourgeoisie. Worse, views of the book reflected an ideologi-
cal divide that Rand had not known existed. Rand had taken for granted
there would be pinks in America, but she hadnt known they would matter,
certainly not in New York City, one of the literary capitals of the world.
But the champions
she found were outsid-
We the Living depicted the quotid- ers of that milieu, like
ian gray of life after the drama of the the newspaper columnist
October Revolution had faded. Its H. L. Mencken. Even
heroine sees her future stripped away. reviewers who enjoyed
her writing, though,
generally assumed Rands rendition of Soviet Russia in We the Living was
exaggerated or no longer true, now that communism had matured.
Rand had thus stumbled, unwittingly, into a drama that would shape Amer-
ican thought and politics for the rest of the century: a bitter love triangle
between communists, ex-communists, and anti-communists.
First came the communists, often literary men like Chambers, John Reed
(of Ten Days That Shook the World fame), or Will Herberg. A handful of the
most prominent Bolshevik enthusiasts were women, including the dancer
Isadora Duncan and Gerda Lerner, a later pioneer of womens history.
Next were the ex-communists. For many, 1939 was the fateful year, when
Soviet Russia signed a nonaggression pact with Nazi Germany, previously
its mortal enemy. The reversal was too much for all but the most hardened
American leftistsafter all, it was the fight against fascism that had drawn
many to the cause in the first place. (In an interesting twist, Italian filmmak-
ers produced a pirated film adaptation of We the Living as an anti-fascist
statement, a film later banned by Benito Mussolinis government.) The great
drift into the Communist Party USA became the great drift out of it.


Still, to be an ex-communist was not necessarily to be an anti-communist,
at least not immediately. Rand was one of the first, and not because she had
lost her faith, but because she was an migr who had witnessed the Russian
Revolution from the inside.
Finally, in the 1950s, anti-communism became a full-fledged intellectual
and political movement. Chambers made the most spectacular move, from
communist to ex-commu-
nist to anti-communist,
revealing his participa- In the 1930s, American intellectuals
tion in an espionage ring first grappled with the meaning and
and implicating several significance of Russias revolution.
high-ranking govern-
ment employees, including Alger Hiss, the former State Department official
who was accused of being a Soviet agent.
Chamberss revelations helped touch off McCarthys crusade against sus-
pected communists in government. Rand herself got in on the action, testify-
ing before the House Un-American Activities Committee about communist
infiltration of Hollywood.

And here unfolded the last act of the drama: the eventual emergence of
anti-anti-communism. It was one thing to reject a political movement gone
horribly wrong. It was
something different to
turn on ones former Whittaker Chambers watched as a
friends and associates, small intellectual army passed over
in the process giving to the Communist Party with scarcely
aid and comfort to Cold any effort on its part.
Warriors, as the writer
and historian Tony Judt wrote. And so even as communism fell out of favor,
among intellectuals anti-communism became as unfashionable as it had been
in the 1930s.
Once again, Rand was a talismanic presence. By the 1950s, her anti-commu-
nism had evolved into a full-throated celebration of capitalism, buttressed by
her original credibility as a survivor of Soviet collectivism. She had traded in the
elegiac historical fiction of We the Living for another Soviet inheritance: agitprop
novels, dedicated to showcasing heroic individualists and entrepreneurs. By
1957, she had fully realized the form in Atlas Shrugged, an epic that weighed in at
Tolstoyan proportions.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 109

Rand had found her voiceand her audience. Atlas Shrugged became a
best seller, despite poor reviewsRand would never get the critical respect
she craved. The gap between Rand and her fellow novelists and writers, first
evident in the 1930s, would never close.
While originally manifest in the dynamics between communism, ex-
communism, and anti-communism, this gap touched upon something more
fundamental in American life. The Russian Revolution and its aftermath had
exposed a jagged fissure between the plain men and women of the nation,
as Chambers put it, and those who affected to act, think, and speak for
One hundred years later, that fissure is with us still.

Reprinted by permission of the New York Times. 2017 The New York
Times Co. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Zhivagos

Secret Journey: From Typescript to Book, by Paolo
Mancosu. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.




Lenins Ghost
Russia and China once contested each others
claims to socialist purity. Now they vie for this
distinction: who will challenge America?

By Miles Maochun Yu

he cadres of the global commentariat often discuss the intricate
relationships among the worlds most meaningful triumvirate:
the United States, Russia, and China. Less often analyzed,
however, are the very potent and peculiar interactions between
Moscow and Beijing. Those interactions manifest the ghost of Leninthe
decades-long competition between Russia and China to be the leading rival of
the United States.
Since Josef Stalins death in 1953, China has considered Russia unworthy to
be the leader in the international proletariats epic battle against the Ameri-
can-led capitalist world. During the era of Nikita Khrushchev, China viewed
the Soviet leader as a wholesale revisionist of Marxism-Leninism, someone
who was treasonably soft toward the United States.
To display his faith in Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy, Mao Zedong broke off
with Moscow in a quixotic and murderous pursuit of confrontation and prov-
ocation against the United States and its allies, including the 1958 shelling of
the Quemoy-Matsu islands held by the US-backed Nationalist government
in Taiwan. Mao also determined to build up Chinas own nuclear arsenal to
independently challenge US nuclear dominance in Asia.

Miles Maochun Yu is a member of the Hoover Institutions Working Group on the

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict. He is a professor of East Asia
and military and naval history at the United States Naval Academy.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 111

[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]


In the 1960s and 1970s, Mao continued his intoxication with Marxist-Lenin-
ist orthodoxy in the context of an intense, worldwide competition with the
Soviet Union for the leadership of the communist movement. From Khrush-
chev to Leonid Brezhnev, China never stopped its crusade against Moscows
ideological infidelity and socialist imperialism. Within China, Mao mani-
fested this crusade with the decadelong politically paranoid purge of the
Khrushchevs inside the Chinese revolution, including his heir-apparent, Liu
Shaoqi, and Lius successor, Lin Biao, who was killed in a plane crash in an
apparently failed attempt to defect to Moscow in 1971. Millions perished as a
result of Maos crusade. Maos death in 1976 did not end Chinas infatuation
with Marxism-Leninism; it only moderated its intensity to a certain degree.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Beijings communist autocrats and ideologues flouted
Moscow with renewed verve and intensified contempt. The reason was
Mikhail Gorbachevs glasnost and perestroika, approaches that China viewed
with abhorrence and animosity, particularly when Gorbachevs historic state
visit to Beijing in May 1989 helped inspire Chinese pro-democracy activists
in Tiananmen Square to demand Gorbachev-style reforms inside Chinas
repressive system. Moments after Gorbachev finished his visit to China,
Chinas communist leaders perpetrated the Tiananmen massacre, killing any
hope of political reforms. Today, China officially
labels Gorbachev the ultimate traitor

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 113

to the socialist cause, singlehandedly responsible for the demise of the
worlds first socialist state.
Since the collapse of the USSR, the Chinese Communist Party, as evi-
denced in numerous policy announcements, considers itself to be the only
hope for a global socialist triumph. With an economy more than five times
as large as Russias and a steadily growing military, China now views itself
as the only worthy rival of the United States. Much to Chinas delight, in the
past decade world leaders have developed a habit of discussing global affairs
in terms of a US-China bipolar context.
But the former communist Vladimir Putin has catapulted post-Soviet
Russia into the international spotlight in recent years. To Chinas chagrin,
the newly risen star of Russias status as Americas leading enemy has been
much enhanced by Americas paranoiac, Russia-fearing, political election
process and by a US national security establishment still staffed with Soviet
experts and Cold Warriors.
Even worse, in 2014, after Russias Ukraine and Crimea gambit, Putin
brashly put forth his own Asia pivot by extending Moscows influence in
Southeast, East, and Northeast Asia, long regarded as Chinas spheres of
influence, or at least points of contention with the United States.
In Southeast Asia, Putin is strengthening Russias alliance with its tradi-
tional ally Vietnam, selling Hanoi big-ticket items such as Kilo-class sub-
marines, whose primary purpose is to defend against Chinese aggression in
the South China Sea. In May 2016, Putin hosted a historic ASEAN-Russia
summit in Sochi, Russia, vowing to protect freedom of navigation and inter-
national maritime lawa thinly veiled warning to China.
Putin is also wooing Pyongyangs Kim Jong Un, whom the Chinese lever-
age as one of their major bargaining chips in their dealings with the United
States. In addition, Putin built an extension of the trans-Siberian railway into
North Korea, actively lobbying Kim to allow Russia to extend the line all the
way to South Korea, thereby connecting by land one of Asias most robust
economic regions with Europe in a manner that could potentially make ship-
ping one-third as expensive as the current ocean routes through the Suez
On various security-related issues, China is trying to obviate Russian initia-
tives and replace them with Beijings own. For years, Russia has routinely
flown provocative military flights near Japan, causing the Japan Self-Defense
Forces to scramble to intercept. Not willing to be outdone, China in the past
four years has intentionally increased its own provocative military flights to
challenge and threaten Japans air defense. Now China causes more JSDF


scrambles than Russia in a dubious contest for numerical superiority of bad
behavior, a contest thoroughly reported and much savored by Chinas state-
controlled media on a regular basis.

We may also recall that it was Russia that first objected to Americas deploy-
ment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile-defense
system in South Korea. But China doesnt want to be outdone by Russia in
this regard, either. Beijing has made THAAD a key point of contention with
the United States. As a result, the THAAD red herring is now primarily a
Chinese issue, not a Russian one, and Beijing is once again the primary objec-
tor to things American.
In June 1949, on the eve of the triumph of communism in China, Mao
Zedong poignantly wrote in his famous essay, On the Peoples Democratic
Dictatorship, that the salvoes of the Red October Revolution brought us
Marxism-Leninism. Even at the partys moment of euphoria and celebration,
the Chinese communist leader would credit the root of his historic victory to
the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
But in Chinas view, Moscow as the incubator of Chinas communist
revolution has long lost its legitimacy as the leader of the global socialist
movement. China sees a continuous, pitiful downward spiral from Khrush-
chevs Marxist-Leninist revisionism to Brezhnevs socialist imperialism to
Gorbachevs betrayal of socialism, and now to Putins Russian economic and
geopolitical nationalism intended to regain Moscows prominence as the
number one enemy of the US-led capitalist empire. This is the ultimate
albeit dubioushonor that Beijing wishes for itself.

Read Military History in the News, the weekly column from the Hoover
Institution that connects historical insights to contemporary conflicts
( 2017 The Board
of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is America

and the Future of War: The Past as Prologue, by
Williamson Murray. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 115



How the West

Was Wired
Californias electrical power capacity is bottled up
by an inefficient regional network. Heres a bright
idea: fix that grid.

By James L. Sweeney

alifornia has built up an excess of elec-
tricity-generation capacity in the years Key points
since the crisis of 20002001, the Los Integrating the West-
ern power grid would
Angeles Times recently reported. Some
reduce greenhouse
have sought to justify this capacity as insurance gases and energy costs
against more shortages and blackouts. while increasing reli-
As the author of The California Electricity Crisis
This integration
(Hoover Institution Press, 2002), I understand the would let solar and
need to prevent a repeat of service failures. But, as wind plants operate at
full capacity, lead-
the Times article correctly points out, excess gen-
ing to cheaper clean
eration capacity is a costly and unneeded remedy. electricity.
Far more cost-effective would be to fix the Fragmentation of the
inefficiencies of our fragmented Western electric energy grid spawns ex-
pensive and inefficient
grid. This also could put an end to Californias excess capacity.
increasing need to throw away inexpensive

James L. Sweeney is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he is a mem-

ber of the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy and the Arctic Security
Initiative. He is a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford
University, the director of Stanfords Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, and a se-
nior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.


TOWERS OF POWER: Famed photographer Ansel Adams took this photo-
graph of power pylons in the Mojave Desert as part of a series in 1941. The
lines carry electricity from Hoover Dam, whose turbines had come on line five
years before. California is part of a fragmented power system with thirty-eight
separate operators dispatching electricity across Western states and parts of
Canada and Mexico. [Ansel AdamsDepartment of the Interior]

emissions-free energy and to rely excessively on polluting, fossil-fueled power

By integrating our Western power gridincluding the Pacific Northwest, the
Southwest, and California as well as western Canada and Mexicowe could reduce
greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs for consumers while increasing reliabil-
ity. This integration would allow in-state wind and solar plantswhich often lack
timely access to customers elsewhere in the Westto operate at full capacity. In
turn, clean electricity would become less expensive, allowing for more development
of wind and solar power plants, rather than those relying on fossil fuels.
The full pricing transparency and operating efficiencies of an integrated grid
would help safeguard against another crisis in an affordable, sustainable way.
System operators would be able to dispatch electricity quickly and dependably
to wherever it is needed throughout the West. Such an integrated grid would
still allow every participating stateincluding Californiato control its own
electricity policies while cooperating with neighboring states and provinces and
lowering utility bills within them.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 117

Decades of bipartisan clean energy leadership in California has led to dramatic
progress, including energy efficiency, wind power, geothermal power, and solar
energy. Elected officials of both parties have worked together to make it happen, as
have nongovernmental organizations, private companies, and individuals. But to make
further progress while minimizing costs and ensuring reliable service in the presence
of highly variable generation, we must integrate our Western power grid.
One might ask what is wrong with the current system. High-voltage transmis-
sion lines connect the region, and electricity moves across state lines and national
borders. California already has a highly professional California Independent Sys-
tem Operator to dispatch power within most of our state.
Unfortunately, California is part of a fragmented power system with thirty-eight
separate operators dispatching electricity across Western states and parts of
Canada and Mexico. The existence of so many separate operators leads to severe
challenges in coordinating real-time operation and scheduling.
This fragmentation is the result of haphazard evolution over many decades,
rather than rational choice. Western grid fragmentation raises costs, degrades
reliability, and increasingly impedes the spread of inexpensive renewable energy
resources. In addition, fragmentation encourages California to build costly excess-
generation capacity to protect against times during which the sun does not shine,
the wind does not blow, and electricity use is peaking.
With a fully integrated Western power system, cheaper emissions-free electricity
could be efficiently dispatched from another state where the sun is shining, the wind
is blowing, or hydropower resources are available. Some progress has occurred: an
electricity imbalance market has been established, which helps reduce the cost
of handling shifts in participants short-term generation needs. This is a step in the
right direction, but its a far cry from complete integration.
Its time for the California legislature to approve our participation in an integrated
Western grid that will provide cleaner, more reliable electricity to Californians, while
reducing use of costly fossil-fueled electricity generating plants.

Reprinted by permission of the Sacramento Bee. 2017 Sacramento Bee. All

rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Energy Efficiency:

Building a Clean, Secure Economy, by James L. Sweeney.
To order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit




Jerry Brown and

the Windmills
While Californias governor tilts against the
forces of carbonization, he pays too little heed to
more pressing programs, such as housing, taxes,
and pensions.

By Bill Whalen

overnor Jerry Brown plans a global climate action conference
for next year in San Francisco.
No need for German leader Angela Merkel to check in
with Lufthansa or Emmanuel Macron to book a flight on Air
Francethis wont be a meeting of the worlds great leaders. What Brown
envisions instead: entrepreneurs, singers, musicians, mathematicians, pro-
fessors, and others who, in the governors worldview, constitute the whole
Lets skip the obvious ironythat a serious load of carbon will be dumped
into the atmosphere as these international swells jet their way to the Bay
Area to fight what Brown calls the forces of carbonization. Brown is clearly
enamored of the fact that if the nation-state of California were to go it alone,
it would have its own seat at the G-20 table. And as he preaches about the
world condition, he points to what he practices in California.
Last summer, Brown successfully negotiated a ten-year extension of the
states controversial cap-and-trade program past its previous 2020 deadline.

Bill Whalen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 119

Signed into law over a decade ago by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the
program places a lid on carbon emissions and requires polluters to buy allow-
ances. The goal: by 2030, to reduce state carbon emissions 40 percent from
1990 levels.
It wasnt an easy sell. Majority Democrats were a house divided, with
those who lean middle to right-of-center on tax and business matters fear-
ing another run on the states gasoline tax, and those on the left contending
Brown was much too cozy with the fossil fuel industry. Ultimately, Brown
cut a supermajority deal with the legislature, winning the support of seven
Republicans in the Assembly and one in the state senate.
But cap-and-trade is not the only thorny issue facing California. In fact, I
can think of least three other topics worthy of summitsissues that Brown
could fairly be accused of leaving to his successor if they remain neglected.

[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]


H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 121
Housing. A proposal to spend $400 million to finance low-income hous-
ing development didnt find its way into Californias recently enacted 201718
state budget, but lawmakers will put other deals in play. Complicating life for
the governor: Democrats want to tie more money for affordable housing to
higher real estate transaction fees and eliminating the states mortgage inter-
est deduction for second homes.
The bottom line: California isnt building enough homes to keep up with
demand. Over the past decade, California has built about eighty thousand
homes annuallyabout a hundred thousand a year short of whats needed.
Any fix will require a governor shepherding the process through a minefield
of NIMBYism, smart planning, and an onerous California Environmental
Quality Act that stifles development.

Pensions. One person Jerry Brown might not invite to a summit: David
Crane. The former Schwarzenegger aide and Stanford lecturer is a guberna-
torial pain-in-the-neck when it comes to California government and pension
The aforementioned California budget deal includes a provision that allows
the state to borrow $6 billion from a short-term investment fund to pay down
some of Californias pension obligation. Think Bernie Madoff handling state
finances by robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Crane contends that California is on a path little different from the one
used by mortgage lenders to entice borrowers before the past decades finan-
cial crisis: a teaser low-interest, floating-rate loan the proceeds of which
are invested in assets (i.e., houses) expected to grow at a higher rate and thus
generate healthy profits for borrowers.
Out of crisis comes opportunity. Perhaps Brown should shift his sights
from Europe to Illinois, a state staggering under its pension loadand figure
out a way for California to avoid a similar fiscal train wreck driven in great
part by pension liabilities.

Tax reform. A lot has happened since 1997. Your iPhone was still a
decade away. Its also the last time California waded into serious tax reform.
In 1950, 10 percent of the Golden States fiscal haul came from income tax.
Today, its closer to two-thirds, nearly double what it was a quarter century
ago. Almost half of Californias income taxes come from the states top 1
percent of earners (compared to 41 percent in Connecticut and 40 percent in
New Jersey).
Two years ago, California State Controller Betty Yee announced a nine-
member expert panel to analyze tax-reform proposals from varied


perspectives. In September 2009 a report published by Governor Schwar-
zeneggers Commission on the Twenty-first Century Economy listed numer-
ous ways to modernize, stabilize, and simplify what it deemed to be an
outdated tax system.
Given that Californias economic recovery is in its third year of overtime,
the sensible thing would be for Brown to take one last crack at tax reform
before he leaves office and his successor inherits both a recession and a rev-
enue system that cant account for dry spells.
So there you have it: three summits on housing, pensions, and taxes. If
Governor Brown wanted to make summitting a more frequent habit, he could
broaden the conversation to K12 education (75 percent of California black
boys dont meet state reading standards), higher ed (are California grads
really prepared for the twenty-first century?), and public safety (theres a
serious need to further define what constitutes a violent crime).
None of these topics would enable Brown to speak in defiant tones and
launch broadsides at Donald Trump, an approach climate change affords.
Theyre just necessary steps for making California more just, more prosper-
ous, and more knowledgeable.
Then again, isnt that what a governor is supposed to do?

Special to the Hoover Digest.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is The

California Electricity Crisis, by James L. Sweeney. To
order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 123



Friedman to the
Milton Friedmans ideas were a beacon that
guided Americaand much of the worldtoward
economic freedom. We need to keep that light

By Charles G. Palm

ilton Friedman warned us that freedom is very far from
being the natural state of mankind . . . the natural state of
mankind in most periods in history has been tyranny and
misery. We may be seeing the first signs of a new state of
tyranny. The Internal Revenue Service deliberately tried to silence some four
hundred conservative organizations during the 2010 and 2012 elections; a
Milwaukee prosecutor conducted predawn raids of private homes in a false
criminal campaign finance investigation of some thirty conservative groups;
seventeen state attorneys general threatened Exxon with racketeering charg-
es for its support of research on climate change; in an act of intimidation,
opponents of Californias Proposition 8 ballot initiative published the names
and addresses of the initiatives supporters on a searchable map; and in an
attack on free speech Middlebury College students injured a faculty member
who tried to protect a conservative speaker from harm.

Charles G. Palm is Deputy Director Emeritus at the Hoover Institution. He and

Robert Leeson are the editors of Milton Friedman on Freedom: Selections from
The Collected Works of Milton Friedman (Hoover Institution Press, 2017).


Acts against freedom such as these are occurring with increasing fre-
quency and being perpetrated by all sorts of actorsfederal and state
government agencies, political action groups, and private individuals. It is
as if America has forgotten all it knew about liberty. The remedy has several
parts, but one of them surely is a return to first principles.
In Milton Friedman on Freedom, Robert Leeson and I have assembled a
collection of writings on the first principles of freedom. Over five decades,
Milton Friedman was one of the nations most energetic and thoughtful
exponents of freedom. With characteristic logic and clarity, he reminded us
what it means to be free and what we must do to remain free. His works can
continue to be a powerful tool in elucidating and promoting freedom.


When Americans think of the first principles of freedom, they recall the
words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence: all men
are . . . endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that
among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Drawing on the
works of the English philosopher John Locke, Jefferson argued that the
rights of man were prescribed in laws of nature. Other liberals of the day,
including Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations (1776), also found justifica-
tion for liberty in the laws of nature, which in Smiths description worked
as an invisible hand producing wealth from economic freedom. Accord-
ing to these seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thinkers, governments
that suppressed political and economic freedom were abominations of
While most Americans still honor the sentiments expressed in the Declara-
tion of Independence, the theory of natural law lost much of its punch by the
middle of the nineteenth century. Charles Darwin, among others, demolished
the consensus. In his view, humans occupied an indifferent, even a hostile
universe, where only organisms that could adapt survived. In such a uni-
verse, the inalienable rights of man decreed by laws of nature disappeared. A
new foundation for liberty was needed.
To the rescue came another set of liberal thinkersphilosophers who in
the nineteenth century expanded on the liberalism of John Locke and Adam
Smith and who inspired a rebirth of freedom. Among them were John Stuart
Mill and his fellow liberals in Britain. They offered a new, broader foundation
for liberty, one based not on natural law but on utility. Liberty, as Mill argued
in his famous work On Liberty (1859), could be sustained only if it benefited
society. Otherwise, given its inherent costs, it would not survive. Mill and

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 125

others made the case that freedom did indeed benefit society. They called
their philosophy utilitarianism, and in a remarkable turn in public opinion it
won the day. The coercive policies of mercantilism and its state-sanctioned
monopolies gave way to free enterprise and free trade. As a result, economic
freedom in the form of laissez-faire capitalism produced nearly a century of
prosperity in both Britain and the United States.
The liberalism that
blossomed in the seven-
Political decision making often
teenth and eighteenth
results in enforced conformity and centuries and matured in
frustration. Free economic choice the nineteenth sets the
results in satisfaction and harmony. starting point for Milton
Friedmans discussion of
freedom. As Mill did, Friedman focused his arguments on its utility. It is true
that Friedman did not consider himself to be a utilitarian. Like Jefferson, he
supported freedom because it followed logically from his belief in the inher-
ent dignity of the individual; its utilitarian benefits were secondary. But in
public debate his arguments clearly were utilitarian: freedom works, and the
alternativegovernment coerciondoes not.


In his writings, Friedman discussed both political and economic freedom, but
he championed economic freedom. He defined economic freedom as the right
to enter the marketplace by engaging in voluntary exchanges free of coer-
cion. Human activity can be organized in one of two ways: through voluntary
exchanges or through government coercion. In making his case for economic
freedom, Friedman set forth the utilitarian benefits of a society based on
voluntary exchanges and the high cost of one based on government coercion.
Friedman identified six main benefits of economic freedom.

Economic freedom is a necessary and pervasive presence in our daily

lives. It allows us to buy what we want, produce and sell what we want, work
at the jobs we want, change jobs when we want, travel where we want, and
contribute money to political or other causes we support. We exercise eco-
nomic freedom virtually every day of the year and can hardly get by without

Economic freedom supports and encourages political freedom.

Indeed, said Friedman, it is a necessary condition for political freedom.
Every important nation that has achieved a significant measure of political


freedomGreece in the fifth century BC, the United States from the end of
the eighteenth century, and Britain from the mid-nineteenth centuryhas
also had a free economy. Of course, as Friedman pointed out, economic free-
dom by itself does not
guarantee political free-
dom. Germany at various America seems to be forgetting every-
times, Japan before thing it knew about liberty.
World War I and II, and
czarist Russia in the decades before World War I, for example, permitted free
enterprise but lacked basic political freedoms. In these cases, economic free-
dom by itself was not a sufficient condition for political freedom to take hold.
But in societies in which political freedom was achieved, economic freedom
was also present.
Why is economic freedom essential for political freedom? In societies that
have free enterprise economies, as Friedman explained, wealth is distributed
widely, and many individuals and organizations have the resources to exer-
cise their political rights effectively. Where economic power is concentrated,
on the other hand, political freedom is threatened. Those in charge, whether
government officials in socialist states or oligarchs in control of monopo-
lies, do not permit economic resources to be used against them. Even if the
political opposition had resources, how could they be effectively used? What
state-operated news outlet would give an opposition party uncensored access
for its message? Where
would such a party place
its advertisements? According to seventeenth- and
Where would they hold eighteenth-century thinkers, govern-
public meetings? Politi-
ments that suppressed political and
cal freedom cannot sur-
economic freedom were abomina-
vive without economic
freedom, and politicians tions of nature.
in democratic societies
who casually bargain away economic freedom put political freedom at risk.

Economic freedom has the capacity to produce prosperity. Competi-

tive capitalism has created more economic wealth and opportunity than any
other system in history, and continues to expand freedom for an ever-greater
number of people. Moreover, it has produced more economic mobility than
any other system. People are free to start a business, change jobs, bargain
for better pay, expand their skills, or otherwise compete freely to improve

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 127

their lives. It is through economic freedom that a society and its citizens have
their best chance to realize their full potential. If competitive capitalism were
not so obviously productiveand Friedman claimed it is four to five times
more productive than the alternativesit would have had no chance in its
seemingly endless struggle against the seductive attractions of socialism and
other forms of collectivism.

Economic freedom provides a unique benefit to those who have suf-

fered most severely from social discrimination. What matters in a com-
petitive market are price and quality, not religious, racial, or other social
distinctions. When a flour mill owner, for example, buys grain on the open
market, he does not care or even know who has produced it. Throughout
history religious and racial minorities have repeatedly found refuge in the
economic marketplace, and usually in its most competitive sector where
entry is unrestricted. In the anonymity of free markets, there is safety and
opportunity for all.

A free economy benefits society by creating an environment that

gives rise to individual genius. Uniquely talented individuals have largely
been responsible for the great advances in industry, science, and most other
human endeavors. Risk-averse economiesthose constrained by govern-
ment regulation and regimentationgive little room for entrepreneurs who
otherwise would be willing to take chances on the ideas of eccentric geniuses.
Competitive capitalism, free of these restraints, puts a very high value on
such persons. As the demand for them increases, so does the supply, and
society reaps the benefit.

A society founded on economic freedom operates with less friction

and more harmony than one dominated by government control. Competi-
tive capitalism is based on voluntary exchanges, not coercion. In voluntary
exchanges, each party
generally gets what it
In public debates, Friedman argued has bargained for. In
that freedom works and the alterna- exchanges with govern-
tivegovernment coerciondoes not. ment, however, you get
only what it decides to
give you. Moreover, in a marketplace of voluntary exchanges, the diversity
of choice is nearly limitless. If you want a red tie, you can buy a red tie. But
in politics and government choices are limited, often arbitrarily so. You are
offered only what is on the ballot, you get only what the majority wants, and


sometimes you dont get even that. As a consequence, the result of political
decision making is often enforced conformity and frustration. The result of
free economic choice is satisfaction and harmony. Thus, the more often that
issues are decided by free voluntary exchanges rather than by government
coercion, the less strain we put on the bonds that hold us together.
Friedman acknowledged that a properly functioning free society cannot
be organized solely on the basis of voluntary exchanges. Government and
its powers of coercion have a necessary role to play. Friedman defined the
role of government nar-
rowly. It includes estab-
lishing rules, adjudicat- Friedman defined the role of govern-
ing cases involving the ment narrowly, including the making
interpretation of rules, and adjudication of rules, enforcing
enforcing contracts, contracts, and keeping markets free.
preventing coercion,
breaking up monopolies and otherwise keeping markets free, maintaining
a stable monetary system, resolving third-party effects of business opera-
tions, and providing public goods such as highways and national defense.
Government undermines and endangers liberty when it goes beyond these


Friedman identified three ways in which we have mistakenly allowed govern-
ment to exceed its proper role: when we have used government coercion to
repair the minor negative effects of business operations; when we have put
economic security ahead of freedom; and when we have used force to impose
equal outcomes. In these three ways, while seeking solutions in government,
we have undermined liberty.
We rightly make every effort to protect political freedom. Freedom of
the press, for example, is nearly absolute. The negative effects of a com-
pletely free pressthe damage to reputations caused by false reporting or
the effects on national security caused by publication of national security
informationare tolerated. On the other hand, negative effects of economic
freedom, even minor ones, are not. The Environmental Protection Agency
regulates mud puddles on private property to prevent even the most remote
possibility of their contaminating public waterways. Plaintiffs attorneys
routinely win staggering awards against businesses in cases involving trivial
injury to their clients. When government restricts economic freedom to

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 129

correct minor problems, it diminishes the benefits of a free economy and in
the process, said Friedman, causes a great deal more damage than it repairs.
Friedmans critics have argued that the economic security provided by
government, rather than threatening freedom, enables it. Individuals who
are vulnerable to the forces of capitalism, they say, are unable to exercise
their political and economic freedom. To cite an extreme case, a voluntary
exchange between a worker who is starving and an employer who is not is
hardly free.
Friedmans answer to this problem is threefold. First, he agreed that
exchanges are voluntary only when both sides have viable alternative choic-
es. Accordingly, like most Americans, he supported a government-sponsored
safety net (in Friedmans
version, a negative income
Clinging to economic security leads tax) that, in addition to
many people to bargain away their meeting basic humani-
tarian needs, would give
economic freedom.
workers a measure of
independence in their negotiations with employers. Second, he strongly
favored governments role in maintaining competition in the marketplace.
Competitive capitalism, not government welfare, is the workers most reli-
able source of protection for both economic security and economic freedom.
Third, he pointed out that the kind of government welfare programs that
his critics generally have favored have not in fact promoted freedom. They
have instead produced dependencythe opposite of freedom. In Britain and
the United States, more and more families in successive generations have
become completely dependent on the state. By putting economic security
first, we bargain away our freedom.
Proponents of stronger government have seen it as a solution to a third
problem, one that is inherent in capitalismnamely, inequality. Americans
have generally supported government programs that expand opportunity for
all. Indeed, equality of opportunity is an essential component of liberty and
a free economy. However, critics of capitalism increasingly have demanded
equality of outcome. The only way to produce such equality, as Friedman
explained, is to use force. By using its taxing power, government takes from
some and gives to others. Government may thus reduce inequality, but in the
process it destroys a large measure of freedom and makes itself the focus of
grievances and jealousies.
If genuine equality could actually be achieved by government, Friedmans
critics might be more persuasive. But, as Friedman has noted, history has


proven that government coercion always produces its own inequalities. No
group benefits more from it than the bureaucratic elitesthe armies of
government officials, social workers, and academic researcherswho make
handsome salaries using government coercion against their fellow citizens.
Government elites are especially dangerous because membership in them
is static and concentrated, and therefore more entrenched. Membership in
capitalist elites, on the other hand, changes frequently, and the wide distribu-
tion of wealth in a competitive capitalist economy keeps individual capitalists
from having too much influence.


Milton Friedman was a fierce defender of his views, but he was not doc-
trinaire. Indeed, one of his strongest arguments in favor of freedom was
that it facilitates the search for truth. The freedom to challenge accepted
wisdom prunes away false theories and gives space to new ideas that get
us closer to truth. Supporting this argument is its corollary that no truth
is absolute. As Friedman and others have pointed out, the assumption that
all truths are tentative, not absolute, is the foundation for free scientific
inquiry and a proper
standard for public
debate. One of the great A great danger to a free society is the
dangers to a free society tempting belief that certain ideas are
is the tempting belief proved beyond doubt and exempt
that certain ideas are from criticism. Totalitarian states are
proved beyond doubt
founded upon this error.
and therefore exempt
from criticism. The totalitarian states of the twentieth century were built
upon this mistaken belief. If we are to avoid such mistakes, tolerance for
the views of others and the freedom to express ones own views must
always be bound together.
The final essay in our bookan essay written by both Milton Friedman
and his wife, Rose Friedmandiscusses the history of freedom from the
seventeenth to the end of the twentieth century. They speculate that certain
laws govern the ebb and flow of freedom. The tides in human affairs change
initially when skeptical intellectuals challenge the status quo. Their ideas
are picked up by popular writers and then absorbed by the general public as
existing government policies begin to fail, often under conditions of crisis. As
this occurs, the tide changes and a new and different set of policies is put in

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 131

At the time they wrote this essaythe late 1980sthe Friedmans suggest-
ed that the era of freedom ushered in by the resurgence of the free market
principles of the Thatcher and Reagan governments would continue for some
time to come. They were proved right, astonishingly so, when the Berlin Wall
fell and the Soviet Union collapsed. At the same time, they sounded an alarm.
While the tides of history keep going for a long time in the same direc-
tion . . . their very success tends to create conditions that may ultimately
reverse them.
Unfortunately, serious reverses in the tide of freedom may now be upon us.
In human society, liberty is never secure, and every generation must learn its
lessons anew. In the present struggle between freedom and its enemies, ideas
matter, but only if they are learned and used. Milton Friedman has left the
current generation with many winning ideas. It is up to it to learn them and
to use them.

Special to the Hoover Digest.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Milton

Friedman on Freedom: Selections from The Collected
Works of Milton Friedman, edited by Robert Leeson
and Charles G. Palm. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or




Hoover fellow Peter Berkowitz ponders the pursuit
of understanding. An excerpt from his Bradley
Prize speech.

Last spring, Hoover senior fellow Peter Berkowitz was awarded the 2017 Bradley
Prize. Here are excerpts from his remarks accepting the prize.

am grateful to the Bradley Foundation for this high honor. It is hum-
bling to join the ranks of outstanding individuals honored in years past
and this year. It is doubly humbling to contemplate the outstanding
figures to be honored in years to come.
Without quite intending, I have come to be regarded as a public intellec-
tual. Sometimes even family and friends call me a public intellectualto my
face, no less!
A whiff of disapproval hovers about the title. As if a public intellectual per-
forms acts in publicintellectualizesthat a decent person would do only in
private. And then only under the severest compulsion.
Public intellectual is not a recognized profession, though it somehow seems
to combine scholarship and journalism. To become a professor, you obtain
an advanced degree. Schools of journalism have proliferated. But where can
you acquire credentials that confirm competence in the science of publicly

Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Insti-
tution and a member of Hoovers Working Group on the Role of Military History in
Contemporary Conflict.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 133

Scholars and journalists, moreover, have dicey reputations. Nietzsche once
defined a scholar as one who thinks the thoughts of anotherand turns them
into dust. Thomas Jefferson remarked, The man who never looks into a
newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who
knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods
and errors.
The merging of scholar and journalist is liable to produce a monster. Imag-
ine the scholars pomposity, pedantry, and obscurantism intertwined with the
journalists flippancy, brazenness, and sensationalism.
A proper public intellectual minimizes the vices of each by cultivating the
virtues of both.
Like a master scholarwhose mission Nietzsche cherisheda public
intellectual ought to go to school with the accumulated wisdom of the ages,
drawing on serious study of the whole range of human affairs.
And like the best journalistwhose role Jefferson thought was indispens-
able to libertya public intellectual should distill from complex matters suc-
cinct and vivid formula-
tions that command fellow
Liberal education, well understood, citizens attention.
educates for freedom. It is the public intel-
lectuals privilege, amid
democratic hustle and bustle and free market churn, to illuminate the public
The ambition to influence must not be allowed to corrupt the pursuit
of understanding. The public intellectual ought to influence by enhancing
I have sought to do this in three broad areas: American constitutional gov-
ernment, Israel and Middle East politics, and liberal education.
What, if anything, unites these apparently disparate topics?
One answer is that theyand the stances I have takencould not be
better calculated to offend our dogmatic, politicized, and easily offended aca-
demic establishment. That has not been my purpose. At least, not mainly.
My chief preoccupations, I believe, are closely connected to the task of
conserving freedom.
American constitutional government is the most diverse, prosperous, and
powerful experiment in freedom and democracy the world has ever seen.
Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland,
is the most diverse, prosperous, and powerful experiment in freedom and
democracy the Middle East has ever seen.


Liberal education sustains freedom and democracy wherever the experi-
ment is run.
Undergraduate study ought to provide a capstone to liberal education.
Instead, in the United States, college increasingly operates as the final stage
of indoctrination.
Liberal education, well understood, educates for freedom. It transcends
the distinction between left and right. It furnishes the mind with humanities
and sciences. It refines
the mind, teaching it to
question boldly, explore It is the public intellectuals privilege
patiently the variety to illuminate the public interest.
of answers, and strike
reasonable balances.
Liberal education emancipatesfrom ignorance, prejudice, and smugness.
It makes a second nature of John Stuart Mills dictum: He who knows only
his own side of the case, knows little of that. And of Seymour Martin Lipsets
wise corollary: A person who knows only one country knows no countries.
Liberal education neither seeks nor yields unanimity. Rooted in freedom, it
authorizes dissent.
And yet, the restoration of liberal education would enable many more
Americans to grasp Americas exceptional achievements; appreciate the
justice of Israels struggles on freedoms front lines; and recognize freedoms
dependence on education for freedom.
Two thousand years ago, the Mishnaic-era sage Rabbi Tarfon taught this
You are not obliged to finish the task, and you are not free to desist from it.
I thank the Bradley Foundation for this celebration of past accomplish-
ments. I thank the Bradley Foundation still more for this encouragement to
persist in the task.

Special to the Hoover Digest.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is Never

a Matter of Indifference: Sustaining Virtue in a Free
Republic, edited by Peter Berkowitz. To order, call
(800) 888-4741 or visit

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 135



Bully for Budget

Never mind the hysteria. The proposed federal
cuts in education funding are smart and long

By Williamson M. Evers and Vicki E. Alger

ts the end of the world as we know itat least thats what some people
would have us believe about President Trumps education budget.
Its a devastating blow to the countrys public education system,
according to National School Boards Association CEO Thomas
Gentzel. More like a wrecking ball, says Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president
of the National Education Association teachers union. No, its a veritable
assault on the American Dream, insists John B. King Jr., former Obama
administration secretary of education.
Such hyperbole is reminiscent of the early 1980s, when President Reagans
opponents battled his administrations education cuts, and its about as inac-
curate today as it was back then.
Trump wants to reduce the US Department of Educations discretionary
budget by $9.2 billion, from $68.3 billion to $59.1 billion. Close to two-thirds
of that reduction (63 percent) comes from eliminating programs that are
duplicative or just dont work.

Williamson M. Evers is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Vicki E.

Alger is a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute and the Independent Womens
Forum and a research fellow at the Independent Institute.


The administration is proposing a 10 percent cut in TRIO programs and
a cut of almost a third in GEAR UP programs. GEAR UP and TRIO (which
despite the name consists of nine programs) are supposed to help at-risk
students who hope to go to college but who might not make it.
At the behest of the Education Department, Mathematica Policy Research
studied a TRIO program and found weaknesses, which it first reported
in 2004. The final report found no detectable effects on college-related
outcomes, including enrollment and completion of bachelors or associates
degrees. In a striking acknowledgement that these programs dont hold up
under scrutiny, lobbyists for the programs got Congress to ban the Educa-
tion Department from setting up control-group evaluations of TRIO and
Another sign of dysfunction is thatdespite a demonstrable lack of
successgrants to run TRIO and GEAR UP programs almost always get
renewed. For example, in California, 82 percent of those who had grants in
2006 to manage this no detectable effects TRIO program still had those
grants a decade later.
The K12 programs proposed for elimination in the Trump budget are
similarly ineffective.
In 1994, the Clinton administration started the Twenty-first Century
Community Learning Centers program, which promised to provide disad-
vantaged children with after-school enrichment to improve their academic
performance. Nearly $18 billion spent over two decades later, theres scant
evidence of success.
Its a $1.2 billion after-school program that doesnt work, according to
Mark Dynarski of the Brookings Institution. He should know. Dynarski
worked at the US Department of Education during the Clinton admin-
istration and directed the Twenty-first Century Community Learning
Centers national evaluation while he was a researcher at Mathematica
Policy Research. The three evaluations published between 2003 and 2005
concluded that the achievement of participating students was virtually
the same, but their behavior was worse, compared with their peers who
werent in the program.
Another program deservedly put on the chopping block is the School
Improvement Grant (SIG) program. Enacted in 2001 as part of President
George W. Bushs No Child Left Behind Act, this program gave poorly per-
forming schools fistfuls of cash to turn themselves around and raise student
achievement. Turned out the SIG program was more buck than banglots

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 137

Total SIG program funding under the Bush administration was less than
$126 million. Regular annual appropriations skyrocketed during Obamas
presidency, starting at $526 million. They remained near or north of a half
billion dollars throughout his administration, totaling more than $7 billion to
dateincluding a one-time infusion of $3 billion in American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act funding.
The Obama administration publicly revealed the SIG programs colossal
failure on January 18, 2017, just hours before President Obamas appointees
departed. According to
the final evaluation by the
Almost two-thirds of the proposed American Institutes for
cuts accrue from axing programs that Research and Mathemati-
are duplicative or just dont work. ca Policy Research for the
Education Department,
SIG had no significant impacts on math achievement, reading achievement,
high school graduation, or college enrollment across school and student
Commenting on the evaluation, Andrew R. Smarick, a former US deputy
assistant secretary of education, called SIG the greatest failure in the his-
tory of the US Department of Education. Seven billion dollars in taxpayer
money was spent, and the results were the same, as Smarick put it, as if this
program had never existed.
Cutting costly, ineffective government programs isnt the end of the world.
Its part of [our] moral duty . . . to make our government leaner and more
accountable, as Trump stated during a budget meeting in February. His
budgetary effort to cut waste includes the Education Department for good

Reprinted by permission of the Los Angeles Times. 2017 Los Angeles

Times. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is School

Accountability, edited by Williamson M. Evers and
Herbert J. Walberg. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or




Three Ways
The charter movement has not one mission but
three: improve teaching, spur districts to do better,
andas a last resortreboot hopeless schools.

By Chester E. Finn Jr., Bruno V. Manno, and Brandon L. Wright

ity Academy High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, celebrated a
milestone in September: twenty-five years as the nations first
charter school. During that quarter century, charter school
growth has been remarkable. Today, forty-four states and Wash-
ington, DC, contain some seven thousand of these independently operated
public schools, serving nearly three million students. Remarkably, charters
account for the entire growth in US K12 public school enrollments since
Confusion abounds among educators and the broader public about the
purpose of charter schools and how these independent public schools relate
to school district improvement efforts. A mainline view sees them as the
research and development arm of K12 public education, crediting Albert
Shanker, former leader of the American Federation of Teachers, with most
fully envisioning this perspective. Yes, Shanker endorsed this approach, but

Chester E. Finn Jr. is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, former chair
of Hoovers Koret Task Force on K12 Education, and president emeritus of the
Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Bruno V. Manno is a trustee emeritus of the
Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. Brandon
L. Wright is the managing editor and a policy associate at the Fordham Institute.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 139

that hardly exhausts what heand othersthought about chartering more
than twenty-five years ago when chartering was hatched.
Our analysis argues there are three ways that chartering is, in the
1996 words of Ted Kolderie, perhaps its foremost theorist, about system
reform . . . a way for the state to cause the district system to improve. In
short, charters are research and development laboratories for districts; com-
petitors to districts; and replacements for districts.


Chartering can advance district improvement efforts through research and
development: that is, be a laboratory for testing different approaches and


ideas that are replicated in district schools. This could involve approaches
to assessment and curriculum or organizational innovations like giving more
site-based freedom over budgets and personnel to other district schools,
based on successful charter experiments. Shanker described this idea in a
1988 address to the National Press Club, followed by a New York Times col-
umn titled A Charter for Change.
A prime example of a district employing chartering as R&D is Denver
Public Schools, shaping its system into a portfolio district. It preserves the
elected school board but outsources some school operations, including fifty-
four largely independent charters and thirty-six less autonomous innovation
The seven-member board can hire and fire the superintendentbut also
authorizes charters. Denver is a story of innovative superintendents and
boards incorporating charters into a comprehensive system, learning from
them, and giving families more
quality choices.

[Taylor Jonesfor the Hoover Digest]

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 141

Yet Denver has only just begun. Ninety-five schools still operate the
traditional way, and some charters barely participate in the portfolio. We
are reminded that chartering, undertaken by a traditional district, must
still navigate the clash between ingrained district culture and the dynamics
associated with innovation.
Its not yet clear how those two approaches to public education are fully
reconciled. But Denvers journey has shown real if modest results. Over the
past decade, students scoring at the proficient level or better rose 15 percent,
with achievement slightly superior in the citys charter schools.

A less collegial approach has charters competing with the traditional system,
drawing students and funding from district schools to charters. The assump-
tion is that districts will respond by improving their offerings and enhancing
school quality.
But a negative response is also possible. States and districts find ways to limit
competition. For example, a charter law may restrict the number of students
who attend charters or the number of new schools allowed or require a state to
reimburse districts for the money it loses when a student leaves the district.
Reform-via-competition has origins on the political right and left. This
approach in modern times is linked with the economist and late Hoover
fellow Milton Friedman. In 1962 (years before the first charter law), he
described how competitive market forces would strengthen educational qual-
ity, efficiency, and productivity.
On the left, Shankers 1998 New York Times piece describes a quasi-mar-
ketplace where parents could choose which charter school to send their
children to, thus fostering competition. So Shanker too thought of charter-
ing as about choice, not
just R&D.
Charters are research and develop- Washington, DC, is a
ment laboratories for districts; com- prime example of a char-
petitors to districts; and replacements ter sector large enough to
compete with the tradi-
for districts.
tional district, enrolling
nearly 47 percent of public school pupils, creating a mixed market of charter
and district choices for families. Mayor Muriel Bowser presides over this
dual system, where the traditional DC Public Schools are run by a chancellor
and the parallel sector of independently operated charter schools is answer-
able to DCs Public Charter School Board.


By 2015 to 2016, enrollment in district public schools had risen to 87,443,
with 112 charters and 111 district schools. Test results have improved in both
sectors, with charter gains surpassing those of district schools.
David Osborne, senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, completed an
analysis of the District of Columbias two sectors, documenting how competition
led the noncharter sector
to emulate charters in
many ways, including Decades ago, Milton Friedman fore-
more diverse curriculum saw how competitive market forces
offerings; new choices of would strengthen educational qual-
different school mod- ity, efficiency, and productivity.
els; and reconstituting
schools to operate with building-level autonomy, especially giving principals
freedom to hire all or mostly new staff. This competition pushed both sectors
to improve and led to a surprising amount of collaboration between the two
sectors, Osborne wrote. A highlight of this cooperation is My School DC, a pro-
gram making it easier for district and charter parents to choose from the many
DC school options available through a common lottery application system.


The replacement approach makes charters the primary vehicle for deliver-
ing public education in a community. In 1990, one year before Minnesota
passed the nations first charter law, Ted Kolderie dubbed this approach
divestiture. It envisions a school improvement strategy overseen by a new
state-created governance structure. It not so much improves the district
as replaces it, making the procedure more akin to a heart transplant than a
repair of part of the heart.
In short, where districts cant reboot their schools, the district is stripped
of its exclusive authority to create and operate schools and replaced with a
governance scheme based on chartering. There is an overseers board setting
policy; defining results expected from schools; contracting with organizations
to run schools; and monitoring performance, closing and opening schools as
necessary. New Orleans is the most evolved example of this approach.
Even before Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana lawmakers created a Recovery
School District to revive the states worst schools, mostly in New Orleans.
By August 2005, the school district had converted five failing schools into
charters. Then came the hurricane, after which lawmakers widened the
districts responsibilities, making it the instrument for overhauling public
education in New Orleans.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 143

By 2014, the Recovery School District in New Orleans was entirely charter,
overseeing fifty-seven campuses with more than 29,000 pupils, some 92 per-
cent of the citys public school population. The remaining 8 percent attend
schools run by a vestige of the Orleans Parish School Board.
Originally devised to serve youngsters stuck in weak schools, the Recovery
School District became the citys main provider of public education, with
charters as its delivery vehicle. Recent legislation returns charters to the
Orleans Parish School Board, with charters keeping their operating autono-
my and the remaining traditional schools converting to charters.
Student results are impressive. Pupils scoring at or above grade level on
state tests doubled from 31 percent in 2004 to 62 percent in 2014. Students
attending schools in the bottom tenth percentile statewide shrank dramati-
cally from 60 to 13 percent. The on-time four-year graduation rate rose from
54 percent to 73 percent.


In none of these cities is every school a source of quality learning. But in all
three, chartering magnified the capacity of a challenged district delivery sys-
tem to do things better, while furthering structural innovation within public
Today, more schools in each city are doing right by their students. Many
kids are better served by todays restructured system than when there was
no alternative to the traditional arrangement.
One major lesson can be drawn from this discussion: no matter how hard
some search for a single founding myth for charter schooling, there was
never a unique story line. Chartering has not been a single experiment or the
product of a single vision, theory, or doctrine.

Reprinted by permission of US News & World Report. 2017 US News &

World Report LP. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is What

Lies Ahead for Americas Children and Their Schools,
edited by Chester E. Finn Jr. and Richard Sousa. To
order, call (800) 888-4741 or visit www.hooverpress.




The Religious
Faith informs war, peace, and civil society. Thats
why believers must learn to listen to each other.

By Charles Hill

he modern worldor the era we blithely have been calling mod-
ernhas defined itself against religion. The Treaty of Westphalia,
which inaugurated todays international state system, pushed reli-
gion to diplomacys margins to avoid, it was hoped, further wars
of religion, such as the Thirty Years War from 161848. Gibbons 1776 Decline
and Fall of the Roman Empire struck by far the heaviest blow which [Christi-
anity] had yet received from any single hand, in the words of the Victorian
critic Sir Leslie Stephen. In his epoch-defining brief essay, What is Enlighten-
ment? (1784), Immanuel Kant declared that it is Mans leaving his self-caused
immaturity. Immaturity is the incapacity to use ones intelligence without the
guidance of another. . . . If I have a book which provides meaning for me (i.e., a
Bible), a pastor who has conscience for me . . . I do not have any need to think.
The Enlightenment would later be labeled the rise of modern pagan-
ism. Nietzsches masterwork, On the Genealogy of Morality, put forth a logic
chain: religion invented morality as the weapon by which the weak produced
civilization to suppress all that is strong and noble in mankind. Modernity, as

Charles Hill is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and co-chair of

Hoovers Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the Interna-
tional Order.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 145

civilizations epitome, is repulsive and must be overturned in order to deny
religion its wrongful victory. Along the way, Marx would declare religion to
be the opiate of the masses, a solace for those alienated from themselves
by bourgeois oppression. Max Weber, accepting modernity as humanitys
proud achievement, concluded that people everywhere, as they progressively
entered the modern world, would inexorably cast aside their religious faith.
Thus, to be modern, one must turn away from religion.
Similar observations proliferated. In poetry, Matthew Arnolds Dover
Beach described the sea of faiths melancholy, long, withdrawing roar. A
century later, John Updikes most profound novel, In the Beauty of the Lilies,
depicts an American preachers loss of faith as a poignant farewell to the
American soul itself, a death blow to the national character later chronicled
in painful detail by Joseph Bottum in an essay for First Things titled The
Death of Protestant Americaa collapse as sudden and irresistible as that
of New England Puritanism described in the nineteenth century by Oliver
Wendell Holmess The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay.
But religion, supposedly relegated to inconsequence by the Treaty of West-
phalia, never went away.


Louis XIV, recognizing that the new modern state was a highly effective mech-
anism for raising revenue and mobilizing manpower, made the service of the
Mass the social center of his court so that France remained the eldest daughter
of the church. Then came
the French Revolution,
A revised look at the modern cen- which would not succeed,
turies reveals an age assumed to be it was said, until the last
secular but suffused with religious aristocrat was strangled
politics and aggressions. with the entrails of the last
cardinal. But Napoleon,
declaring I am the revolution, crowned himself emperor in a sacred ceremony
in the Cathedral of Reims in the presence of Pope Pius VII. And, after Napoleons
defeats, the Congress of Vienna (1814) sought to restore legitimacy for the nine-
teenth century by restoring divine-rightauthorized royal-imperial households
to power in Westphalian-style states, a system Bismarck would deconstruct by
unifying a Prussian-dominated Germany through complex manipulations of
Europes Catholic-Protestant rivalries.
The First World War has been reinterpreted persuasively as the great and
holy war and even a religious crusade by the historian Philip Jenkins. And


a sweeping narrative of religion in American war and diplomacy, Sword of the
Spirit, Shield of Faith, by the historian Andrew Preston, has cast new light on
religions effect on the US role in the world since the founding of the republic.
But in a triumph of theory over fact, diplomats, mesmerized by the West-
phalian decision that claims of religion should not be heard in the corridors
of power, cited the absence of major religious wars across the modern period
as evidence that moder-
nity was historys first
faith-free, fully secular A vast civil war is under way within
age. The reality that
Islam over whether it will be a mem-
religion-driven move-
ber of the established international
ments were under way in
every part of the world system or an enemy of it.
Shinto in Japan, Bud-
dhism in Vietnam, Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, Protestant-Catholic clashes
in Northern Ireland, Pentecostalism and liberation theology in Latin Ameri-
camade little or no impact on the Department of State. When occasionally
a briefing or an action memorandum might swim up the stream of command
from a junior desk officer calling attention to a religiously motivated factor in
foreign relations, it quickly would expire for want of required clearances up
the line.
This blinkered view of the world meant that diplomatic analysts could not
accurately interpret the emergence, rise, and growth, in fervor and extent, of
a radical Islamist movement determined to restore Muslim political, ideo-
logical, and theological power that had collapsed in 1924 with the end of the
Ottoman empire and caliphate.
The sudden violent shift by many supporters of the Palestine Libera-
tion Organizations goal of a democratic socialist secular state toward an
extreme Islamist outcome was misinterpreted as no more than further evi-
dence of actions carried out for strictly political purposes by people who had
no other avenues of expression. When the Ayatollah Khomeinis 1979 revolu-
tion overthrew the shah to establish the first Islamist rule over a recognized
state in the Westphalian international system, Foreign Service specialists on
Iran hurried with assurances that nothing of serious religious significance had
occurred and that the United States could do business with what would be
just another pragmatic Middle Eastern regime. And when Egypts President
Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981, the political cone of the US Foreign
Service (including this writer) considered it a purely political act carried out
in support of the Palestinians. Not until after the 1993 Islamist bombing of the

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 147

World Trade Center did a review of the old videotapes of the Sadat assassina-
tion enable diplomats to see for the first time that the imprisoned perpetra-
tors were openly declaring the religious inspiration behind their actions.
A revised interpretation of the modern centuries reveals an age assumed to
be secular but actually suffused with religious politics and aggressions world-
widewith America as the leader of the free world acting on an unacknowl-
edged spiritual basis. A quarter century ago, Harold Bloom predicted that
if we were intended to be a spirit among the nations of the world, then the
twenty-first century will mark a full-scale return to the wars of religion.
Modern diplomacys dismissal of religion as a factor in world affairs thus
was a monumental mistake.
Religion is a constant element in the human condition. To Aristotle, man
is the political animal; to Adam Smith, man is the trading animal. Here we
posit man as the religious animal.
If religion is always with us, it is at the same time true that religions are
always evolving. Core beliefs and practices may not change, but peripheral
concerns may evolve in new directions and departures as religions learn
over time. Karl Jaspers discerned that some form of global-scale spiritual
development happened during the eighth to second centuries BC in China,
India, Persia, and the Eastern Mediterranean, a move from magical polythe-
ism to religion more as we think of it today. And the tectonic shift in the early
modern matrix of Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment prioritized
man ahead of God, and science above all. The chaotic years of this new
twenty-first century might summon another such seismic shift.
Some points to consider might include:
Almost all the great religions prescribe peace, harmony, and a universal-
ist inclusiveness.
At the same time, almost all religions contain exhortations that can
incite and provide internal legitimacy to violence against others.
Modern experience offers evidence that the post-Westphalian conclu-
sion that all religions are causes of quarrel was mistaken and indeed has
been misappropriated by some seemingly secular states to support their own
international security decisions for war.


If the time for a general reappraisal has come, the task would fall on both state-
to-state diplomacy and interfaith relations among religionsand on each with
the other. Current international concerns involving freedom of religion would
need to be supplemented by transformative movements within religions.


The American approach, traceable to the founding documents of the United
States, may offer a way forward internationally. Freedom of religion in the
United States is not based on a recognition of substantive value in religious
belief, but on the impera-
tive to prevent any one
religion from predomi- Despite the secular tide, religion
nating throughout the never really went away.
land. This is a proce-
dural, not substantive, approach; its corollaries are pluralism, diversity, and
the dualities of church and state, public and private, individual and commu-
nity. Somehow, improbable as it may seem, all major world religions in their
American formsChristianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism
(even if not exactly a religion), Islam, and othershave enabled themselves to
adapt and thrive in this New World environment, able to adjust to sharing the
public space in mutual respect.
Islam in its own originating realm of Dar al-Islam most prominently now
faces this challenge. A vast civil war is now under way within Islam over
whether it will be a member of the established international system or will
define itself as adversarial to it, as when Samuel Huntington pointed out
some twenty-five years ago, Islam has bloody borders. All across Islams
fourteen centuries are examples of grand and gracious Muslim polities, and
todays American Muslim population has provided demonstrations that the
faith can be both uniate and multifarious.
Religions are languages, which when learned produce further knowledge.
Religions need to learn each others languages in contributing both to the
rectification of diplomacys modern mistake and to yet another advance in
the shared consciousness of all peoples.

Reprinted from Defining Ideas (

ideas), a Hoover Institution online journal. 2017 The Board of Trustees
of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is The

Weavers Lost Art, by Charles Hill. To order, call (800)
888-4741 or visit

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 149



Push Back on
Hoover fellow Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author and foe of
political Islam, on doing battle with dangerous ideas.

By Cynthia L. Haven

yaan Hirsi Ali champions the fight against jihadi terrorism and
the struggle for womens freedom in the Islamic world. The late
Christopher Hitchens called her the most important public
intellectual probably ever to come out of Africaand he
accused the left of abandoning her.
She is the author of bestselling books, including Nomad, Infidel, Heretic, and
The Caged Virgin. This year, she published The Challenge of Dawa: Political
Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Counter It with the Hoover Institu-
tion Press. She has founded the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Foundation in New York to
further her work, which continues to find new directions.
In June, she and Asra Nomani, a friend and colleague of Daniel Pearl, testi-
fied before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental
Affairs. During the hearing, the Democratic women on the panel declined to
ask the two women any questions. In a column co-written for the New York

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and founder of the
AHA Foundation. She is the author of The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam
as Ideology and Movement and How to Counter It (Hoover Institution Press,
2017). Cynthia L. Haven was a Voegelin Fellow at the Hoover Institution and
writes a literary blog, The Book Haven (


Times, the duo wrote, When it comes to the pay gap, abortion access and
workplace discrimination, progressives have much to say. But were still
waiting for a march against honor killings, child marriages, polygamy, sex
slavery, or female genital mutilation.

Cynthia L. Haven: In 2004, the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was mur-
dered. A death threat targeting you was pinned to his chest with a knife.
What is life like under a fatwa?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Im surrounded by men who carry guns and who tell me
where I may and may not go, and what I may and may not do. So Im not
entirely free. Thats all I can say, for security reasons.

Haven: Your choices have been very different from Salman Rushdie and the
Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris.

Hirsi Ali: Molly Norris went into hiding. I was offered that option and said
no. I fully understand why Salman Rushdie opted for the risk of living free.

Haven: Youve changed. While you earlier thought that Islamic violence was
inextricable from Islam itself, now you are calling for religious reform and
have joined forces with like-minded Muslims.

Hirsi Ali: Well, first of all, I have grown up. But lets make some distinctions.
Islam is treated just like any other religion in the United States. In reality, Islam
is part religious and part political. And the argument I make is this: lets protect
the religious aspects
of Islam. Lets fight the
When we talk about the threats
political aspects of Islam
emanating from radical Muslims,
that are subversive, using
economic, diplomatic, and people deflect by talking about white
political means. supremacists. I dont see hordes and
hordes of people joining them.
Haven: When you
appeared before Congress in June, you were ignored by the four women
Democratic senators on the panel. How do you account for their silence?

Hirsi Ali: We were invisible to the Democratic women in the Senatejust

as we are invisible to the mullahs at the mosque. These issues shouldnt be
squeezed into a left-right divide, but they often are. As Asra Nomani and I
wrote in the New York Times, what happened that day was emblematic of
a deeply troubling trend among progressives when it comes to confronting

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 151

the brutal reality of Islamist extremism and what it means for women in
many Muslim communities here at home and around the world. It doesnt
help the real suffering of girls and women in these countries.

Haven: Of course, many Americans would answer that Muslim violence is no

different from Christian terrorism or white supremacy movements.

Hirsi Ali: In our country, we have people on the right who mistrust those
who look different and who dont share the same beliefs. Yes, we have white
supremacists who are anti-Semitic and dont like immigrants. I take comfort
in the fact that our law
enforcement and intelli-
Lets protect the religious aspects of gence communities know
Islam. Lets fight the political aspects who these people are
of Islam that are subversive. and where to find them.
Theyve been thoroughly
infiltrated, and at this moment, they dont pose a threat. Certainly I dont
feel threatened by themwhereas I actually live with armed guards against
radical Muslims.
When we talk about the threats emanating from radical Muslims, people
deflect by talking about white supremacists. I dont see hordes and hordes of
people joining them. I dont see international communities forming. Where is
the Saudi Arabia of white supremacy? Where is the ISIS of white supremacy?
Or the Al-Qaeda of white supremacy? Where is the Muslim Brotherhood of
white supremacists? Where is the money? There are billions of dollars that flow
out of these Gulf countries to enhance the agenda of radical Islam. Lets get real.

Haven: Tell us about your new book, The Challenge of Dawa.

Hirsi Ali: Dawa is the infrastructure used to indoctrinate and radicalize.

These dawa groups have taken root in America and become influential within
ethnic communities. Dearborn, Michigan, used to be home to an assimilated
American Muslim community. Nowadays, you see things that will look famil-
iar to a European. A woman walking behind her husband. Rows and rows of
houses where women just dont come out. Parents trying to shut their kids
out of American life, either homeschooling them or sending them to Muslim
schools and centers. Youre seeing exactly the same cocooning as in Europe.

Haven: Are we in any sense winning the war on terrorism?

Hirsi Ali: No, because were not fighting it. We dont even recognize were
fighting an ideological war. Partly it is the arrogance. We think of radical


Islam more as a nuisance. Oh, its Al-Qaeda. OK, well send some guys, then,
and some drones. Whatever.

Haven: One chapter in Heretic suggests addressing jihadi terrorism with

an information campaign such as the West deployed during the Cold War.
Eminent intellectuals, including Bertrand Russell, Karl Jaspers, and Jacques
Maritain, supported the dissemination in Eastern Europe of more than ten
million books and magazines.

Hirsi Ali: And we never said our system was a moral equivalent with the
Soviet system. Nor did we pretend that capitalism was a sort of salvation, a
counter-utopia. It wasnt. By the way, Bertrand Russell had been attracted to
the idea of communism until he saw it in practice.

Haven: As you pointed out, that effort operated at a fraction of the trillions
weve spent on foreign wars.

Hirsi Ali: One MOAB the mother of all bombs what did it cost? If they
would give that to those of us who want to fight this war of the minds, it
would be way more effective. And its more humane. Its moral. Youre not
killing people. The goal is to change peoples minds.
To take the Cold War analogy all the way, you have to discuss the philo-
sophical legacy of Muhammad. Like Marxism, it includes a political theory.
When Marxism was applied in the Soviet Union, Cambodia, China, parts of
Africa, it was manifest for all to see. However eloquent Mr. Marx was in his
idea of justice and equality on the ground, it led to gulags.
When Islamic law is applied as a blueprint for society, what is the outcome?
You couldnt wish for a better demonstration of that blueprint than ISIS. It
applied the very letter of the law. When you use the state as a tool to make
this from top down, to create this ideal utopia, its anything but utopian.

Haven: You say that we celebrated Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Andrei Sakha-

rov, and Vclav Havel and so we should celebrate Islamic reformers. Can
you tell us about one or two of them? Who are the Voltaires of Islam?

Hirsi Ali: Theres one here in the United States. His name is Faisal Al Mutar,
and hes from Iraq. Ive listened to him on American campuses. Hes compel-
ling, logically consistent, persuasive, and very funny. His organization, Ideas
Beyond Borders, reaches out to change minds. I dont know what the future
holds for him, but hey, if youre looking for compelling people who reach
thousands, maybe millions, hes determined to do that. I pick him because he
speaks Arabic and hes working from the United States of America.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 153

Theres another name we shouldnt forget: Raif Badawi, a young Saudi
national. He blogged about the injustices in Saudi Arabia: the abuse of power,
the concentration of power in the hands of the clergy. He argued for more
secularization. He was sentenced to a thousand lashes. Fifty have been
administered. He is being tortured, and he is diabetic and in frail health.
Publicity is keeping him alive. If theres one thing I could ask Donald Trump,
it would be to free that young man.

Haven: People on the fringe right have used your name to justify Islamopho-
bia and inflame an anti-Islam movement in America. What would you say to

Hirsi Ali: I would say there is no Islamophobia. Its a strategically concocted

term, designed to give Westerners the same reaction as when you condemn
homophobia or racism. Islam is a religion. Its a set of ideas. So if youre criti-
cal of this set of ideas, youre not phobic: you have an opinion.

Haven: Many people find what you say offensive.

Hirsi Ali: I think what used to be called provocative is now called offen-
sive. Were in the grip of identity politics and political correctness. Radical
elements benefit from that and exploit it.
People dont see that sharia has spread from its heartland all the way to
the West. Female genital mutilation is happening in the United States. Child
marriages, forced marriages, and honor killings are happening in the United
States and Europe. They dont get publicized because the term Islamopho-
bia is thrown at everyone. News outlets feel too scared to handle this.
So back to your earlier question. Yes, I have changed. It used to be hard for
me to have conversations with Muslim reformists because I would get stuck
in a place of logical inconsistency. On the one hand, you want to reform Islam,
but you dont want to question the legacy of Muhammad or the morality of
the Quran. So how can you reform?
Ive come to realize that, first of all, things take time. Sincere people are
working on it Asra Nomani, Zuhdi Jasser, and others. Im also working with
ex-Muslims who want to raise critical questions. I want to create a wider
platform of people inside Muslim communities in the United States, particu-
larly on campuses, where the minds of the future leaders are shaped.

Haven: How realistic is your hope for reform? Are you being naive?

Hirsi Ali: We forget the Islamic Republic of Iran. A whole population in Iran
has lived under sharia from 1979 to now and are very much opposed to it.


A COUNTER-IDEA: Hoover fellow Ayaan Hirsi Ali, shown five years ago
at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, says that Islamic doctrine has
not changed but maybe, potentially, theres a large enough constituency that
could change it, could modify it. Many are trying, and paying with their lives.
[International Students Committee]

May I say that the people that Ive met who are the most hostile to religion in
general and Islam in particular are Iranians?

Haven: How did the Arab Spring affect the thirst for reform?

Hirsi Ali: In the aftermath of the Arab Spring and the rise of ISIS, Muslims
who had avoided dealing with Islam as a political system couldnt duck it
anymore. They were put in a position where they had to decide. Now theyve
coalesced into a more visible group of people I call modifiers. They note
that something about Islam its tradition, its religion, its scripture needs
to be seen historically and not carried into the twenty-first century.
I give examples in my book Heretic. For instance, a clergyman who rhetori-
cally asks, Why should we hate Jews, when we take advantage of all these
discoveries that the Jews made? Questions like that may seem commonsensi-
cal here, but its revolutionary in parts of the Middle East where the general
population is indoctrinated for years and years to hate every Jew, good or bad.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 155

Haven: And what changes did you see for women?

Hirsi Ali: Women are organizing in Saudi Arabia, in the UAE, in Iran. In
Saudi Arabia, they are saying they do not want the male guardian. Theyre
being confronted with the accusation that they are demanding an anti-sharia
change, but they continue to demand it anyway. They continue to demand the
right to drive. They continue to demand the right to work. All of these things
are anti-sharia.

Haven: And yet, the electoral process hasnt necessarily supported your
hopes, has it?

Hirsi Ali: The Arab Spring was eye-opening, and I was very optimistic about
what was happening in Tunisia and in Egypt. In both countries, the Muslim
Brotherhood entered the picture. They were very well organized and running
for elections. In Egypt, they won, and in Tunisia, they won twice.
For me, that was predictable. What was heartening was the opposition,
the people who didnt want sharia law and said so as clearly as possible: We
oppose the Muslim Brotherhood because they want to establish sharia and
we dont want sharia.
You ask what changed
my mind. It is this empiri-
I would say there is no Islamopho- cal mass of evidence, right
bia. Its a strategically concocted in our faces. Not only did
term, designed to give Westerners the I change my mind, but I
same reaction as when you condemn began to see this opportu-
nity that our governments
homophobia or racism.
are not taking advantage of.
So Islamic doctrine has not changed but maybe, potentially, theres a large
enough constituency that could change it, could modify it. Many are trying,
and paying with their lives.

Haven: The bloggers in Bangladesh, for example.

Hirsi Ali: The bloggers who championed secularization and political reform
have been hacked to death: Ahmed Rajib Haider, Ananta Bijoy Das, Oyasiqur
Rhaman, Dr. Avijit Roy, a naturalized US citizen. Others continue to fight

Haven: You said that the intolerant brand of Islam is spreading in places like
Turkey and Indonesia. Why? Whats powering it?


Hirsi Ali: Money and leadership. In Turkey, its being powered by Erdoan
and his party, and this man has made leaps and bounds. Hes neutralized the
military and the judiciary and hes declared himself pretty much a supreme
leader. Things are going downhill for Turkey.
The president of Turkey uses the term Islamophobia a lot and he has
campaigned to outlaw it in many places. He sent his minions to go to the
European Council to get Islamophobia outlawed. The term is being mar-
keted and now its accepted. Everybodys talking about Islamophobia as if its
something thats actually there.
If you want to talk about the fringe right, look at the president of Turkey
and what he has done to journalists, and anybody else who disagrees with
him. Theyre thrown in jail, kicked out of their jobs, exiled, or killed. Hes
bombing the Kurds. And yet hes going on and on about Islamophobia.
In Indonesia, a moderate democracy, Saudi money has tipped the scales.
Some places accept
sharia law. Indonesia
has floggings and the May I say that the people that Ive
persecution of Christians met who are the most hostile to reli-
and other non-Islamic gion in general and Islam in particular
minorities. Its coming are Iranians?
directly from the Middle
East: money from the Middle East and people who are trained in the Middle
East. And when I say trained, theyve been trained in the contents of radi-
cal Islam. For whatever reason, the Indonesians havent stopped it. In fact,
theyre at a place where they have to kowtow to the radical elements now.

Haven: And, as you have pointed out, fighting the ideological war costs a lot
less than fighting a military one. Controlling information can be far more
manageable than controlling the outcome of a battle.

Hirsi Ali: Especially because of the Internet. We have the opportunity to

make use of the Internet as much as ISIS does.
I think we defeated the ideas of Marxism and communism because we
were able to use all the tools of communication to convince people. I think
about leading fighters, and leading storytellers, and leading academics. And
so in that sense, we were able to change peoples minds. They showed people
that Marxism was a bankrupt idea. We can do the same with radical Islam.

Haven: Your analogy to the Cold War brought to mind Nobel poet Czesaw
Mioszs The Captive Mind, a study of how the mind adapts to totalitarianism,

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 157

from the point of view of a man who had served the Stalinist government of
Poland. The 1953 book was dropped by balloons into communist Polandnot
very effective, but it shows the commitment, and the extremes people in
the West were willing to take, to get another point of view behind the Iron

Hirsi Ali: We have to do it. We have to take these extremes. I think the
assumption that this major religion is going to change peacefully without
casualties is in itself utopian. People are going to resist.
Think about the clergymen in Saudi Arabia. You think theyre going to
stand aside and say, Okay, lets modernize? Theyre going to put up a fight.
Theyre going to tell the people in the University of Al-Azhar in Egypt, the
University of Madinah in Saudi Arabiaall of these clergymen are going
to tell their followers, Go, and kill, and ambush, and destroy, and stop this
movement. Stop this change. We know this because thats what they say
already when they dont
like something. Its not
I want to create a wider platform of going to be bloodless.

people inside Muslim communities Haven: In a sense, tradi-

in the United States, particularly on tional Islamic culture con-
campuses, where the minds of the tains its own antidote to
the present. I want to read
future leaders are shaped.
the blind eleventh-century
Syrian thinker and poet you mention in Heretic: Abu l-Ala al-Maarri, author
of The Epistle of Forgiveness, who described journeys to heaven and hell that
may have inspired Dante. Yet he was branded a heretic for being a vegetarian,
and jihadis have posthumously beheaded his statue in his hometown.

Hirsi Ali: A great mind. These Arab-Islamic poet philosophers are celebrat-
ed here, and its great that hes celebrated outside of Islam. But his poems
should be read in Muslim schools, and they arent. They should be discussed
and appreciated. That would be part of this reformation, too.

Haven: What would you like to say to America, in a nutshell?

Hirsi Ali: I would say push back on dawa. We need to educate ourselves on
what dawa is its both the ideology of political Islam and the organizational
infrastructure that Islamists use to inspire, indoctrinate, recruit, finance, and
mobilize the Muslims they hope to win over to the extremist cause.


When I was preparing for university in the Netherlands, I had history and
civics classes, where we were taught about National Socialism, and how that
idea came about. We learned how it infected peoples minds, how it spread,
and how the Jews were cleansed out of the Netherlands. The bad idea of
today is radical Islam, political Islam. We should use history to educate chil-
dren from kindergarten to college. Sharia is not an alternative. We have bet-
ter ways than sharia, jihad, and the crazy idea that all knowledge and moral-
ity come from one man and one book. For every idea theres a counter-idea.

Haven: I hear you are developing ways to work with these ideas at the uni-
versity level.

Hirsi Ali: My foundation is starting a program to change minds on cam-

puses. Were teaming with Faisal Al Mutars Ideas Beyond Borders to find
university leaders who will help start a conversation on their campuses about
human rights. We want them to find ways to help protect important free-
doms that are being undermined in the United States and around the world.
We are now accepting applications for our inaugural class of fellows. Weve
already received applications from about ten different campuses. Well bring
them together with some of the people that I talk about, like Asra Nomani.
We hope to empower them to organize events on each site through existing
campus organizations. Its still in gestation. This is a pilot year.

Special to the Hoover Digest.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is The

Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and
Movement and How to Counter It, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
To download a copy, visit

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 159



We Are a Moral
Hoover fellow Condoleezza Rice explains how to
champion human dignity while engaging with a
flawed, complex world.

By Carol E. Lee

oover senior fellow and former secretary of state Condoleezza
Rice has released a new book, Democracy: Stories from the
Long Road to Freedom (Twelve, 2017). In an interview with the
Wall Street Journal, Rice touched on the role of Russia in US
elections, the recent tensions with North Korea, and American foreign policy
under President Trump.

Carol E. Lee, Wall Street Journal: Your book comes out as Americans are
grappling with alleged Russian interference in last years presidential election.
How much of a threat do you think Russia is to the United States in this respect?

Condoleezza Rice: I think [Russian President] Vladimir Putin is an eye-for-

an-eye sort of person. And we called his elections fraudulent in 2012, which
they were, and I think he is in a sense getting back at us.

Condoleezza Rice is the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on

Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, a member of Hoovers Shultz-Stephenson
Task Force on Energy Policy, a professor of political economy at Stanford Univer-
sitys Graduate School of Business, and a professor of political science at Stanford.
Carol E. Lee is a White House correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.


But I do not believe that theres any evidence that he changed the course
of this election or that balloting was somehow interfered with. And so while
Im furious with the Russians for what theyve done and I think we need to
get to the bottom of it and we need to try to protect ourselves in the future,
I would have liked to have heard somebody say, But we are confident in the
American electoral system and its outcomes. Because to do anything else is
satisfying for him in doing what I think he was trying to do.

Lee: The White House says it wants to work with Russia on areas of common
interestdo you think the United States has any common interests with a
country that purportedly tried to interfere in its election?

Rice: Yes, there is the issue of the election. Theres also the issue of threat-
ening our allies in Eastern Europe and the kind of low-intensity conflict in
Ukraine that they are waging. But I think there are some areas that we can
work together. I cant believe that the Russians are pleased to see a reck-
less North Korean leader with intercontinental ballistic missile rangein
the sense that if it can reach Alaska, it can reach Vladivostok. I think we are
ultimately going to have to work together in Syria.
But you have to lay the ground rules first, and I think the ground rules
have to say, among other things: Stop threatening our allies. Stop messing
around in Ukraine. And
yes, we know you were
trying to affect our elec- We stand for the rights and liberties
tions. We know it and of those who cant stand for those
well respond at a time of
rights and liberties themselves.
our choosing.

Lee: What do you make of President Trumps policy toward North Korea?

Rice: I think no American president can sit by and let the North Koreans
get intercontinental ballistic range and a nuclear weapon that can be mar-
ried to it. And I think theyre trying to do what probably any administration
would be trying to do, which is to change the Chinese calculus . . . because if
you dont change what theyre doing, then were going to have to take actions
ourselves. That message, to me, seems to have gotten through to the Chinese.
The way I can tell it got through is the North Koreans are now really critical of
the Chinese for the things theyre doing and saying. So thats a good step forward.

Lee: You said in an earlier interview about your book that the president is
the most important voice for American foreign policy, values, and interests.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 161

President Trump has praised President Sisi of Egypt and President Xi of
China, invited President Duterte of the Philippines to the White House, con-
gratulated President Erdogan on a referendum many believe moves Turkey
away from democracy, and has called North Koreas Kim Jong Un a smart
cookie whom hed be honored to meet. What message does this send to the

Rice: The words do matter, but lets also see what he does. When it comes
to Sisi and Erdogan, those are long-standing allies. Of course youre going
to meet with them. But recognizing that in the long run they are sitting on
powder kegs if they dont reform their countries is also very important.
I write about it in the book: what if [former Egyptian President] Mubarak
had actually carried out
the reforms he started
in 2005? There wouldnt I think Americans understand in a
have been a revolution gut-level way that we have respon-
in Egypt. And we should sibilities that we didnt wish upon
want our allies to reform,
not give way to revolu-
tions. But youre going to deal with allies who dont necessarily share your
values. The important thing though is to always remember that in the long
run our values and our interests are linked.

Lee: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a speech in which he said freedom
and human dignity are American values, not policies. Isnt that a striking
departure from the agenda you had championed?

Rice: Well, I thought it was a more nuanced point than that. Look, freedom
and democracy and liberty are American values. Sometimes it is true that
policy means you have to deal with people who are not upholding those [val-
ues]. I remember after I gave the Cairo speech [about democracy in 2005]
everybody said, How could you go and meet with Mubarak? Well, of course
you were going to go and meet with Mubarak. So sometimes people do get
confused about that.

A LESSON: Hoover senior fellow Condoleezza Rice works with students at

Stanfords Graduate School of Business in a class co-taught with former Brit-
ish Labour official David Miliband. Rices latest book, Democracy: Stories
from the Long Road to Freedom, explores the challenges and the promises of
pursuing democratic reform around the world. [Stanford University]

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 163

But I would hope that over timeagain, its early daysthat the message
would be that we also stand for the rights and liberties of those who cant
stand for those rights and liberties themselves, because we are an idea, and
we are a moral cause as well as a great power.

Lee: What do you think of Secretary Tillersons efforts to reform or reorga-

nize the State Department? Have you talked about it with him?

Rice: Sure. Look, I was

Stanfords provost. I had
I want Americans to think about to make budget cuts. I had
democracy promotion as not the use to try to make an orga-
of force to bring democracy but rather nization more efficient. I
to help people who are trying to find think thats what hes hop-
that pathway with American help. ing to do. I dont think the
cuts will look like the ones
the administration proposed. Remember, its an iterative process. Theyll
propose; Congress will appropriate. But I think there are a lot of inefficien-
cies you could find in the State Department.

Lee: You write about the importance for the United States to do everything it
can to encourage and insist upon change, arguing theres a moral and practi-
cal case for that. Do you think Americans want their government to promote
democracy? And do you think this president wants to promote democracy?

Rice: I think that Americans are of two minds. I think sometimes theyre
tired of the burdens of leadership and they say, Why cant other people do it
But then when we withdraw even the slightest, they dont like what they
see. They see people being
beheaded on television.
What if Mubarak had actually car- They see girls being
ried out the reforms he started in stolen away in Nigeria.
2005? There wouldnt have been a They see babies being hit
with chemical weapons in
revolution in Egypt.
You know, its in our DNA to find that offensive and to want to do some-
thing about it. I see in the president somebody who said a lot of things in the
campaign, but when he was sitting in that chair and watched Syrian babies
choking on chemical gas, said, I cant let that stand.


And so I think Americans understand in a gut-level way that we have
responsibilities that we didnt wish upon ourselves.
I think its one of the reasons Americans are reluctant: Iraq and Afghani-
stan were not democracy promotion. Iraq and Afghanistan were security
problems that we had to solve by military force. And then afterwards, we had
to have a view of what came after. And we wanted to give them a chance at
But most of democracy promotion is what we did in helping the Colombi-
ans defeat the FARC [guerrilla group] through democratic security and get
back control of their country. Helping Kenya get through difficult elections
and, now, a more stable Kenya. . . . Democracy promotion is what we did in
Liberia to help them recover from twenty-five years of civil war and to have
the only woman president on the African continent.
So I want Americans to think about democracy promotion as not the use
of force to bring democracy but rather to help people who are trying to find
that pathway with American help. . . . Its supporting civil society, supporting
elections, supporting entrepreneurship in young people. Its doable.

Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2017 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

New from the Hoover Institution Press is Rugged

Individualism: Dead or Alive? by David Davenport
and Gordon Lloyd. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 165



Putting Aside
Adolescent Things
Senator Ben Sasse wants to raise wise children
worthy of their birthright.

By Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson,Uncommon Knowledge: Have we gone from the greatest

generation to the softest? With us today, a member of the US Senate who
knows how to turn millennials into adults, Ben Sasse of Nebraska. A fifth-
generation Nebraskan and the son of a football coach, Sasse attended public
schools in Fremont, Nebraska, spending his summers working in cornfields.
He holds degrees from Harvard, Oxford, and Yale, and he spent five years as
president of Midland University. Sasse was elected to the US Senate in 2014.
Unlike most members of the Senate who leave their families behind in their
home states, Sasse takes his family back and forth with him from Nebraska
to Washington, helping his wife homeschool their three children. Sasse is the
author earlier this year of The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age
CrisisAnd How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance. Senator Sasse, welcome
back to Uncommon Knowledge.

Ben Sasse: Good to be here.

Robinson: Tell us the story of the Midland University Christmas tree.

Ben Sasse is a US senator from Nebraska. Peter Robinson is the editor of the
Hoover Digest, the host of Uncommon Knowledge, and a research fellow at the
Hoover Institution.


Sasse: I was thirty-seven when I became a college president. Im a business
turnaround guy and I live in this town where this special 130-year-old college
is in danger of going bankrupt. Nobody thinks theyre hiring me to run this
college because I know anything about student affairs or student culture. Yet
thats the thing thats keeping me up at night my first months at this school.
I knew we were going to get the debt restructured and raise new money,
and we were going to try to buy another college. We were going to be able to
solve the business problems, but I was worried about what was happening in
student life.
One event crystallized it more than anything else. We had a big athletic
arena, and there was a twenty-foot Christmas tree to be erected the day
before or after Thanks-
giving. We had a bunch
of students who were
employed by the ath-
letic department or the
advancement and devel-
opment office. These
are the best of the best
students. Theyre being
paid, and its desirable to work in the development office or work in the ath-
letic department. These are hardy and healthy, vital young people. The tree
was there and all the decorations were there, and they decorated the bottom
eight feet of the tree with twice as many decorations as you would probably
need because they spent all their decorations in the bottom eight feet, and
then theyre packing up to leave. The tree is naked from foot eight to twenty.
The vice president for development happens by and shes like, Hey, what are
you guys doing? They said, Yeah, we used all the decorations. Were done.
She said, What about the top half of the tree? They said, We didnt know
how to get up there. She said, Did maintenance refuse to bring you a lad-
der? It turned out that nobody had really thought to ask. There was no real
problem solving in the group. It was: weve been given a task and were going
to leave when the task is done.

Robinson: Able kids but passive.

Sasse: Passive is the right adjective.

Robinson: This book lays out the figures. Millennials and those coming up
behind themdo they have a name yet? Lets call them millennials. Kids.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 167

They marry later, they live with their parents longer, they know less about
American history, they demonstrate less initiative and more passivity, they
participate less in religious organizations. Theyre softer not just psycho-
logically but physically. You note that whereas in the 1960s only one teen in
twenty was obese, today one teen in five is obese. Soft. Passive. This despite
having grown up during a period of peace and by and large economic expan-
sion in the richest and most powerful nation in human history. What has
gone wrong?

Sasse: You said in spite of. Maybe its because of. I want to be clear. This book
is a constructive book. Its mostly a program for how to think about habit
formation for thirteen- to seventeen-year-olds. Its not a blame-laying book;
its not a beat-up-on-millennials book. Its a wow, what is this category of
perpetual adolescence? book. Thats a new thing in human history. Adoles-
cence is a pretty special concept. Its only about two millennia old. We came
up with this idea that you go from the dependent state of childhood to the
independent state of adulthood and you dont have to, boom, transition from
one to the other instantaneously when you become physically an adult. Two
millennia ago people came up with this concept that when you biologically
transition from childhood to adulthood at puberty that doesnt mean you
have to immediately be fully independent: financially, emotionally, morally,
in terms of school-leaving or household structure. We have this idea that for
eighteen months to four years you can have a greenhouse phase of intention-
al transition from one to the other. Thats great, as long as we remember that
adolescence is meant to be a means to an end. It is not the destination.
Peter Pan is a dystopian hell; it is not a utopia, as Disney has tried to
remake it. Peter Pan is a character who becomes physically an adult and yet
he has no historical awareness. He has no moral awareness. He kills people
and he doesnt even remember their names. Thats a bad thing. We dont
want to be man babies. We want our kids to go from a stage of necessary
dependence to more and more independence, when they can.

Robinson: The argument here is that if children grow up in conditions of

peace and prosperity, parents, the society, cannot simply leave it to reality
to slap them around and shape them up. Parents have to help them grow up
more intentionally.

Sasse: Right. I think that though theres no blame laying in this book, if there
were, it would be at ourthe parents and grandparentsfeet to not have
thought through what it means that our kids are growing up at the richest


GROWING UP: Nebraska senator Ben Sasse, author of The Vanishing Ameri-
can Adult: Our Coming-of-Age CrisisAnd How to Rebuild a Culture of
Self-Reliance, ponders young peoples rocky road to independence. [Hoover

time and place in human history. Theres a lot about that that is obviously
great: to be protected from levels of violence that most people have known
throughout human history; to be protected from abject poverty. But were
going to need to figure out how to celebrate scar tissue with these kids,
because scar tissue is the foundation of future character. We need to cel-
ebrate it.


Robinson: This is a book written by a fifth-generation Nebraskan, which

contains a number of stories about your grandparents, your own upbring-
ing, your kids detassling corn. You have to persuade me that this isnt in
some way a lament for a lost agrarian way of life that characterized America
through almost all of its history and that youin your generation and where
you grew up in Nebraskayou saw the last glimmerings of this way of life,
and that you, young man though you may be, are filled with nostalgia.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 169

Sasse: Secretly a fuddy-duddy.

Robinson: Well, you and Thomas Jefferson: Oh, no. Were not all farmers
anymore. The country cant work. Address that critique, that thought in the
back of a readers mind.

Sasse: This is not agrarian romanticism. It is an awareness that if you sepa-

rate work from the household, as weve done, our kids come of age with lots
of material surplus and very little exposure to production. Youre going to
have to create something thats going to feel a little bit artificial but that is a
structured way of habit-forming, that builds a work ethic, even when neces-
sity didnt mandate it.

Robinson: OK. Tell me then. Weve got changed economic circumstances were
going through. The country has been through something like this once before.
Were going through a
huge something again.
Its not a blame-laying book; its not a Thomas Jefferson would
beat-up-on-millennials book. recognize what youre
talking about in this book,
although he believed in an agrarian America. Weve been in an industrial
America. Now were entering some third kind. Why do you argue in particular
that there are certain virtues that Americans need to learn to make this repub-
lic work? Explain that line of thought, which runs through the whole book.

Sasse: America is prefaced on a few ideas. One is universal human dignity.

We believe that people are created with dignity and that those natural rights
are things that government exists to secure. Government is not the author
or the source of those rights. We believe government is limited because we
think rights are prior to government. We believe a whole bunch of pre-politi-
cal things. We believe that happiness is something that people have the right
to pursue and frankly that cant be secured by compulsion. We believe that
production is . . .

Robinson: That people have the right to pursue happiness and that is the
only way to achieve it: by pursuing it on your own?

Sasse: Here, Ill blend a little bit of American ideas stuff with some modern
sociology. Lets just take sociology for a minute. I am solidly Aristotelian.
One argument in this book is some slight anti-Platonism. I dont want to
scare people away with no philosophical interests. I think social science is
now bearing out a lot of what Aristotle understood about the sort of way


that nouns and verbs get wrapped up together in habit formation. You cant
decide who you want to be in the long term and your time is often occupied in
the short term. You make decisions about the medium term, and the medium
term decisions you make about what to pursue end up creating short-term
tasks and duties and time expenditures in your life. Those things end up
becoming habits and those habits define your long-term character.
I think modern social science shows us that production makes people hap-
py, and consumption doesnt. Right now our kids are not being raised with
an instinctive, in-the-belly exposure to a distinction between production and
consumption. Were occupying our kids time with schooling and progression
through grades as if thats their work, and when theyre not in school its just
different types of consumption. We dont burden them with having to under-
stand the distinction between needs and wants. Well, burdening them with
that is a real serious love. If you help your kids understand that one of the
things that defines whether or not youre happy in life is earned success, its
a numerator of needs met over a denominator of perceived needs. One way
to be happy in life is to get more stuff into the numerator, but its not a very
fruitful path. Its not very
reliable. A much more
reliable way to be happy Adolescence is meant to be a means
in life is to guard against to an end. It is not the destination.
expanding the denomi-
nator of your perceived needs very far. It turns out that healthy people tend
to know the difference between the word need and the word want. Were
raising a lot of kids right now with appetites that feel fairly limitless because
were teaching them that more and more consumption might fulfill them, but
its not true. It doesnt bear out in wise lives of older people or in any of the
literature we have.

Robinson: Id like to stay with the nature of the American republic for just
a moment longer. The Vanishing American Adult: Material abundance can
make us freer and less dependent, but simultaneously more lonely and isolat-
ed. Here is one of the most striking sentences in the book: It is very difficult
for a rich republic to remain virtuous. Youre almost setting up a tragic view
of American history here where the greatest generation, your grandparents,
they endure the Depression, your grandfather goes off to the Second World
War, and through the sacrifices that they made, their grandchildren and
great-grandchildren get just the kind of life they wanted for them. You and
your children get a period of peace and prosperity, and it ruins them. When

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 171

America gets what it doesnt wantwar, depressionAmericans are great
people; we produce the greatest generation. When we get what we want,
were unimpressive as citizens. Talk me out of it.

Sasse: Well, if you look at inherited wealth around the world, people who
figure out how to manage that inherited wealth without growing their kids
appetites, turning it into actual investments, it can work out well. If you
become consumers in
the next generation,
Were going to need to figure out how theres danger in that. Its
to celebrate scar tissue with these natural that there should
be a cycle of production,
kids, because scar tissue is the foun-
wealth creation, and then
dation of future character.
recreation or leisure. By
the way, theres an important historical debate about why the word recreation
is more virtuous than the word leisure because its cyclically driving you back
to productivity again. I want to be revivified but to get back to work, to live a
life of gratitude by serving my neighbor again. Its natural that inside any fam-
ily or any individual of maybe any generation that production leads to wealth
leads to recreation. But if it slides across generations and people in the second
or third generation are just living off inherited wealth from past production,
theres something lacking in their lives that is unsatisfying for them.
There are tons of data that show that one of the highest correlates to hap-
piness in life is whether or not you do work that you think anybody needs.
Not at the end of the day: Do my knees hurt, or my ankles or my back? Do
I think I made enough money? Was there some annoying jackwagon three
cubicles over who talks loudly? But, do I think somebody needs me? If Mon-
day morning, or whatever day of the week you go and start your work, theres
a place that you need to go because someone needs your work, you have
worth and dignity and self-esteem. Just consuming more cant replace that. I
do think there is a danger in becoming so wealthy that we forget to inculcate
those habits of productivity that lead to happiness.


Robinson: One final quotation from The Vanishing American Adult: I am an

optimist and I believe that Americas best days lie ahead. All right, senator.
From the greatest generation to these soft millennials, from Ronald Reagan
to Donald Trump, from the LincolnDouglas debates to whatever it was that


we watched during the presidential race last year. Youre an optimist, but you
named one of your children Augustine. Augustine is sitting there in northern
Africa and watching Rome fall. He leads a great life, he becomes a saint, he
produces an enormous volume of important literatureits possible to lead a
good life in the end of time, so to speak. Do you consider yourself more in the
position of Augustine, or do you really believe that this countrys best days lie
ahead? How can you be an optimist?

Sasse: Right now we have to do a whole bunch of theology and political

theory and parse the two kingdoms and do two cities and two loves and a city
that has foundations. It seems too big for a parting question. Ill say Im defi-
nitely optimistic about the net productivity, about what the global economy
will produce in the next decade or two.

Robinson: More stuff.

Sasse: Not just stuff. More services that are quite interesting. I got here with
a Waze app. I was in San Francisco this morning and coming down to Palo
Alto. There are opportunities to not sit in traffic, which are not life changing,
but that was a nice little gift to know that taking this exit could avoid that car
wreck and that half-hour delay.
I think that what comes next in the digital revolution is going to be fasci-
nating. Were going to have a layering of information and data on top of the
physical world thats going to be fascinating. What Im not sure about is that
the benefits of that are
going to redound to the
median worker and the If you separate work from the house-
median family right hold, as weve done, our kids come of
now. Im scared about age with lots of material surplus and
that because I dont very little exposure to production.
think were thinking at
all about the disruption and the nature of work. Larry Summers talks about
how of 7.2 billion people on Earth maybe youve got 4.5 billion workers today.
Were going to go to 9 billion people on this planet by the year 2050, and we
might only need 3 billion to 4 billion workers to more than meet the needs for
all 9 billion people.
Guess what? Work isnt just about how you put bread on the table. Work
is a fundamental anchor of human identity and service. Were meant to live
a life of gratitude by doing something meaningful. Were meant to get to the
evening and get some of that leisure or recreation or fun, food, and wine, and

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 173

fellowship with friends looking back at the fence you built that day or the
field you farmed or the factory you labored in or the app that you designed.
Youre meant to look back at that and say, I produced something today, and
right now I dont think were thinking nearly enough about the challenges
to the nature of work going forward. The potential is huge. But our political
conversations and our civic conversations are impoverished right now.

Robinson: The book actually ends on an up note. You just sounded more
like Augustine than I was expecting you to right there. The notion is what?
The notion is you need to teach your children these virtues so that they can
become good Americans,
so they can continue
Were meant to live a life of gratitude to change, so to speak.
by doing something meaningful. Youre very conscious
of American history. As
youve demonstrated a couple of times here, youre happy to go back to Aris-
totle at the slightest provocation. Also, because something big and actually a
little bit alarming is coming at these kids. Is that right?

Sasse: Yeah, there is a real difference between actually climbing to the top
of the mountain and going there on your friends Instagram. Right now
were doing a disservice to our kids by pretending that a more sedentary,
passive life might fulfill them. Its not true. We need our crazy uncle Teddy
Roosevelt in our life, and I want kids to become intoxicated with all that they
can travel to through literature, across space, into other cultures, by learning
to produce. Theres a lot of opportunity for our kids, but we need a different
conversation about how to raise them, and passively allowing them to be
peer-segregated into a more sedentary posture is not going to be satisfying
for them or for the republic.

Robinson: Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Americas crazy uncle in the

twenty-first century and the author of The Vanishing American Adult: Our
Coming-of-Age CrisisAnd How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance. Thank you.

Sasse: Thank you.




Free Speech
Doesnt Need
Persuasion is American, coercion is not. To Hoover
scholar Richard Epstein, the First Amendment is
both bedrock and shield.

By Tunku Varadarajan

nfazed by a stream of hustling residents, chatty doormen,
leashed dogs, and well-born children, Richard Epstein holds
forth in the lobby of the building where he lives, just off Man-
hattans Central Park. I worry about the background hubbub
spoiling the recording of our conversation, but Mrs. Epsteinwith good
reasonhas ruled their apartment out of bounds. She is packing and fussing
for their sons wedding, to take place four days later, and doesnt want us
The theme of our conversation is freedom of expression under the First
Amendment, and theres relish in discussing the subject with a man who

Richard A. Epstein is the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover
Institution and a member of the steering committee for Hoovers Working Group on
Intellectual Property, Innovation, and Prosperity. He is also the Laurence A. Tisch
Professor of Law at New York University Law School and a senior lecturer at the
University of Chicago. Tunku Varadarajan is the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Re-
search Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 175

talks in long, long sentences uttered without pause for breath, as if expres-
sion were a form of physical exercise. Richard Epstein, a professor at the
University of Chicago and New York University, is among the Anglo-Amer-
ican worlds foremost legal academics. Although often lauded as Americas
leading intellectual libertar-
ian, he prefers to describe
There are certain harms that are himself as a classical liberal.
nonactionable, and offense is one With the violence in Char-
of them. lottesville, Virginia, still
fresh in the mind, Epstein is
concerned that the debate on free speech has taken an unwelcome turn. The
American left, he says, is pushing hard for curbs on offensive speech, and
no good will ever come of that.
Epstein cites with evident distaste a recent New York Times op-ed by
K-Sue Park, a fellow in critical race studies at the UCLA School of Law. Park
lamented that the American Civil Liberties Union had defended the right of
the white-supremacy group behind the Charlottesville protest to organize
its march. The ACLU, Park argued, needs to rethink free speech and stop
standing up for people with offensive views.
Perhaps you see the problems here. There are certain harms that are
nonactionable, Epstein says, and offense is one of them. If I say something
that you find duly offensive, you may protest, you may speakbut what you
may not do is to sue me in order to silence me, or to get compensation from
me. Counterspeech is the appropriate remedy under these circumstances;
suppressing speech is not.
Epstein imagines a society in which offensive speech is curbed: Every-
body offends everybody a large fraction of the time. So, if I am insulting to
you because youre a progressive and youre insulting to me because Im a
conservative, and if we allow both people to sue, then neither can talk. Those
who advocate controlling speech, he says, tend to want only their sense of
whats offensive to count, and nobody elses. Yet the fundamental tenet of
classical free-speech law is that the rules ought to be viewpoint neutral.
Nobody can use force against anybody, regardless of his viewpoint; but any-
body can express his opinion, irrespective of how offensive everybody else
will want to regard it.
Even more complicating, controversial speech often isnt conducted
between two people alone but is shouted from a soapbox. How much offense
is required before government pulls the plug? The moment people start to
speak publicly, Epstein says, there are twenty different views that you can


take. Some will be deeply offended, some indifferent, others will be strongly
pro. And the last thing you want to let the government do is to decide which
of the two, the three, or the ten interest groups is the one that ought to be
able to dominate and to control the particular discourse.
Some on the left, purporting to be mindful of the First Amendment, insist
that what matters is severe offense. Epstein points to the weird incentive
effects this creates. People now have every motivation to ratchet up their
level of indignation in order to say, Look, you really hurt me, he says. As
a result, you make racial, ethnic, religious, and social sensibilities an art
form. One recent technique of doing this is calling out the microaggres-
sion, by which he says people mean: You may think that its small, but it
goes to the very core of my particular being, and so its wrong and shouldnt
be allowed.
Microaggressions make Epstein despair. Once you allow them, he asks,
are you going to allow them against everybody? At which point nobody
can talk. So, you have to have preferences. He fears what will come next:
You drop the micro,
keep the aggression,
and announce that If I say something that you find duly
since youve aggressed offensive, you may protest, you may
against me, I can now
speakbut what you may not do is to
use force against you
sue me in order to silence me, or to get
in self-defense. This is
part of the modern left- compensation from me.
wing First Amendment
law, he says, which holds that anything you say that offends me is a form of
violence, to which I can respond by the use of force. The American left, he
adds, has become very solipsistic, and so all of their particular harms are
enormous. And for those who are on the other side of this arrangement, they
dont care at all.
In Epsteins view, the best response to this push is to continue to underline
what free speech truly means in America. We need to go back and look at
what Justice Robert Jackson said about free speech in Barnette in 1943. That
was the case in which the Supreme Court held that public schools could not
compel Jehovahs Witnesses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
It was a reversal of precedent, Epstein explains. In a 1940 decision, Min-
ersville School District v. Gobitis, Justice Felix Frankfurter, the son of immi-
grants, very much a kind of American loyalist, said that it was a libertarian
fantasy to assume that Jehovahs Witnesses could simply refuse to speak

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 177

under the grounds of conscience. It showed, Epstein says, a genuinely
authoritarian streak in our friend Frankfurter.
Justice Jackson had a more subtle mind, and he believed that if youre
a Jehovahs Witness, and you thought that saluting the flag was a form of
idolatry, you could stand aside. As Epstein sums up the principle: It doesnt
matter whether our views are high or low, this way or thatits not the job of
the government to tell us what they ought to be.
He contrasts Barnette
with the temper of the
It doesnt matter whether our views present time. Justice
are high or low, this way or that Jacksons wasnt the mod-
it's not the job of the government ern position, which says,
Since one person dissents
to tell us what they ought to be.
from it, nobody can say
the Pledge of Allegiance in class. The older accommodation was that you
were given a painless pass, but you had to suffer the offense of watching
other people do things that you did not want to do. Now, we basically shut
everybody else down if you take offense.
Justice Jacksons view of free speech is pretty well secure in the judi-
ciary today, Epstein says. Judges are careful to distinguish between
persuasion and communication on the one hand, and threats of violence on
the other. But, Epstein says, theres a very large and angry left-wing group
which is not willing to accept that view, at least on its own home turfthe
academy. He cites the conservative writers Heather Mac Donald and Jason
Riley, who had invitations to speak on campus rescinded under pressure,
as well as the social scientist Charles Murray, whose March appearance
at Middlebury College was disrupted and the professor who moderated it
physically battered.
He also mentions the provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who was run out of
Berkeley in February by intolerant leftists. Although Epstein says he consid-
ers Yiannopoulos a dreadful human being, he also doesnt think a peaceful
speaker should face rioterswho, in this case, caused an estimated $100,000
in damage.
The real question, Epstein says, is not what we believe, its what were
prepared to put on the line. The moment you start yielding to this sort of
thing, its just an encouragement for the other side to shut you down. Berke-
ley should have said: Well call in reinforcements, well bring out the National
Guard if necessary, but were not going to allow any group to intimidate and
change the way in which campuses work.


Still an active teacher at seventy-four, Epstein tells me a joke he sometimes
uses in class. It comes from a 1950s comic strip. I go to the top when it
comes to sources and material, he says slyly.
Jughead, a known mooch, comes to Archies house and asks: Archie, do
you believe in free speech? Archie says sure. Jughead replies: So you dont
mind if I use your phone to make a long-distance call?
Why is this funny? Epstein asks. Because freedom of speech means that
you have the right to use your own resources to advance your own causes.
But it doesnt give you, in the name of free speech, the right to take some-
bodys telephone, somebodys house, or somebodys anything in order to use
it for your own purposes.
In effect, Epstein says, the notion of freedom of expression is embedded
in a much larger and comprehensive system of property rights. Does the
Supreme Court believe that? In the case of individual speech, the answer is
yes, he replies. But theres another dimension to speech, which is the ques-
tion of campaign finance and related topics. Theres a very deep cleavage of
opinion, with progressives thinking that big business in speech is every bit
as bad as big business everywhere else, so youll have to put limits on their
ability to spend.
This progressive model typically assumes all big companies and rich
people act the same way. But one of the things we know, Epstein says, is
that theres absolutely no uniformity among the rich as to how they view
and spend their money.
There are New York
liberals and Texas Its not what we believe, its what
conservativesand of were prepared to put on the line.
course the American
business community is undergoing a tectonic shift. The leadership of all the
big tech companies is essentially of the left. He cites Bill Gates and Mark
Zuckerberg, as well as Googles CEO, Sundar Pichai, whom Epstein calls an
economic illiterate.
Epstein reserves special ire for Google. He cites the case of James Damore,
the engineer fired from the company for suggesting in a memo that biologi-
cal factors might contribute to the lack of women in the tech industry. Pichai
was saved from greater embarrassment by Charlottesville, Epstein says.
People stopped talking about Google because they had more important
things to talk about.
He thinks the Google firing illustrates that the notion of inadmissible
offensive speech now permeates both the public and the private spheres.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 179

Google is basically massively intolerant, he says. Here was a guy, the data
analyst, who was not against diversity. He said he wasnt. So many Ameri-
cans who are offended by the kind of diversity inclusion methods you have
at Google are not against diversity, nor against inclusion.
Theyre against people telling them how to be diverse, and exercising a
moral superiority over them which forces them to grovel.

Reprinted by permission of the Wall Street Journal. 2017 Dow Jones &
Co. All rights reserved.

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is In

Retreat: Americas Withdrawal from the Middle East,
by Russell A. Berman. To order, call (800) 888-4741 or




A Voice from the

A literary quest brings life to the story of Latvian
journalist Arsenii Formakov, an imprisoned poet
who yearned for motherland and freedom.

By Emily D. Johnson

arrived in Riga, Latvia, in April 2014 with one clear objective: I
needed to locate the surviving relatives of the Russo-Latvian poet
and journalist Arsenii Formakov (19001983) and secure permission
to translate and publish the letters Formakov had mailed home from
Soviet labor camps between 1944 and 1955. These remarkable documents
tell the story of Formakovs 1940 arrest, his internment in Stalins gulag, and
desperate efforts to survive hard labor and return to his family in Latvia. The
Hoover Institution acquired them in 2002 but, as is common in the case of
private funds, publication rights remained with the donor. Unless I secured
permission from Formakovs heir, I could cite them in research but not pub-
lish them.
The letters, I felt, told Formakovs story better than any scholarly article
ever could. A moving illustration of the kinds of horrors that Latvian citizens
faced as their country was first forcibly annexed to the Soviet Union in 1940,
then overrun by the Nazis a year later, and finally reconquered by the Soviet

Emily D. Johnson is an associate professor of Russian at the University of Okla-

homa. She is the editor and translator of Gulag Letters by Arsenii Formakov
(Yale University Press, Hoover Institution, 2017).

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 181

Union in 1944, the letters deserved to reach a broad readership. Yale Univer-
sity Press was interested in publishing them if I could secure permission.
And so I found myself in Riga with only one clue: the last known address of
Arsenii Formakovs daughter, Evgenia, who had passed away a year before,
leaving no direct descendants. (Formakovs teenage son, Dmitrii, drowned
in 1951, a fact withheld from his imprisoned father for more than a year so
as not to break his spirit.) I spent several days visiting the apartment in the
hopes of catching someone at home, knocking on the doors of neighbors, and
fruitlessly petitioning the local registry office for information on the disposi-
tion of the apartment after the death of Formakovs daughter. Then I got
lucky: I found a neighbor who had been on friendly terms with Formakovs
daughter and had the phone number of her cousin and heir, Ausma Polonska.
Ausma was seventy-one and childless. She was, as she told me when we
met two days later in her apartment on the outskirts of Riga, Formakovs last
known descendant. I am so glad, she noted, that someone is interested in my
uncle and our story. I thought that it would die with me. Over tea, we chatted
about her memories of her uncle and his family and looked at old photographs:
pictures of Formakovs brother Mikhail, who was shot by the Bolsheviks in
1919 at the age of fourteen for his supposed participation in an anti-Bolshevik
organization; snapshots of an apartment building in Dvinsk that the Formakov
family had owned until it was nationalized after the 1940 Soviet invasion; for-
mally posed portraits of the staff of The Voice of Dvinsk, the Russian-language
newspaper that Formakov
had co-owned and edited
I am so glad that someone is inter- during the interwar peri-
ested in my uncle and our story. I od; pictures of Formakov
thought that it would die with me. with his wife and children
dressed prosperously and
enjoying family holidays; booking photos from his 1940 arrest; overexposed
portraits taken while he was in the camps and mailed home in letters; and
finally pictures of the much older, tired-looking man who returned to Riga in
1955, after his release from his second term at hard labor.
Finally Ausma pulled out two fragile, hand-decorated notebooks filled with
poetry: About the Motherland and Family (O rodine i seme) and All about You
(Vse o tebe). They were, I realized, books of poems that Formakov had labori-
ously assembled in the Krasnoiarsk labor camp in 1945 and mailed home to
his wife and children as special gifts. Formakov had described them in the
letters that I had read at the Hoover Institution, but I had not had much hope
of ever finding them or of seeing the poetry they contained.


WARMEST WISHES: Formakov sent this handmade Christmas card to his
family in 1945. In a letter that month to his family he wrote: I wish you a hap-
py New Year and merry Christmas! I give everyone big hugs and kisses. I pray
that the fates have mercy on us sinners, but who can say if they will listen?
[Arsenii Ivanovich Formakov PapersHoover Institution Library & Archives]
I was particularly eager to see About the Motherland and Family: in a letter
that he had sent home to his wife on July 7, 1945, Formakov had included a
lengthy explanatory note about the collection, in which he indicated that
out of tactical considerations, he did not order the poems chronologically
and alluded to the inclusion of verses on politically dangerous topics. How
much, I had wondered as I read the letter, had Formakov managed to hide
behind the bland title About the Motherland and Family, which seemed calcu-
lated to harmonize with wartime Soviet propaganda? During World War II,
Soviet information sources teemed with references to the motherland and
images that depicted the nation as a stern and determined maternal figure,
Mat-rodina, literally the mother-motherland but most commonly trans-
lated as Mother Russia. Moreover, which motherland had Formakov really
referenced in his title: the Soviet Union, Russia, or Latvia?

The first pages of About the Motherland and Family, which I read through for
the first time at Ausmas kitchen table, suggested to me that Formakov had
tried to strike a careful
balance in the collection.
How much had Formakov managed He opened the book with
to hide behind the bland title About a quatrain dedicating
the Motherland and Family? Which his work to his muses, a
land did he consider his motherland? singular, informal you,
presumably his wife, Anna
Ivanova, and also Russia itself. Early poems in the collection focused on safe
patriotic themes, extolling well-publicized feats of military heroism (The
Ballad of Twenty-eight Soviet Heroes) or the bravery and honor of Soviet
military forces in general (The Russian Soldier, The Russian Sailor, The
Russian Pilot). However, the title page that Formakov had made for his book
of poems hinted at much more personal concerns and a Latvian as opposed
to Russian or Soviet meaning for the word motherland. Formakov framed

FOR ZHENIA: In a playful name day poem (opposite page) for his four-
year-old daughter, Evgenia (nicknamed Zhenia or, more intimately, Zhenich-
ka), Formakov describes a parade of animals carrying best wishes and a
bouquet to the little girl. A clumsy crow eventually ruins the flowers, the story
goes, leaving only the single blossom at the upper left of the card. In a letter to
his wife that same month, Formakov quotes a poem by Konstantin Simonov:
Those who would not wait for me, / Let them wonder later at my luck.
[Arsenii Ivanovich Formakov PapersHoover Institution Library & Archives]


PARTED: Latvian journalist and poet Arsenii Formakov and his wife, Anna
Ivanovna Zakaznova, married in 1932. Forced to fend for herself and two
young children after her husbands arrest in 1940, Anna Ivanova endured vari-
ous hardships until he returned to her in 1947. But he was re-arrested in 1949,
reportedly framed by a jealous co-worker. Threatened with loss of her teach-
ing job, Anna Ivanova reluctantly agreed to a divorce. After he was finally freed
in 1957, Formakov remarried his wife in the presence of their surviving child,
Evgenia. [Arsenii Ivanovich Formakov PapersHoover Institution Library & Archives]

the words About the Motherland and Family with neat drawings, in pencil,
of Riga church spires and the banks of the Daugava River rather than with
Soviet symbols or Russian landscapes.
Moreover, if one read About the Motherland and Family alongside the
explanatory note that Formakov mailed home on July 7, 1945, some of the
later poems in the collection emerged as mournful reflections on Latvian
identity in the wake of both Soviet and Nazi invasions. For example, in For-
makovs poem Parting Words for a Sailor (Naputstvie moriaku), an old man
held captive for many years far from home asks a young sailor to convey his
greetings to his wife and to try to ease her mind of worry, if he should ever


reach their homeland: Tell her that for the maharajas captive / Life is easy
and luxurious. In his July 7, 1945, letter, Formakov explained that the poem
was inspired by rumors that younger prisoners were being called up to serve
in Latvian units and the hope that they might one day be allowed to return
Classical Iambs (Klassicheckie iamby), a poem Formakov composed in
his head in 1940, while in a transit prison in Eniseisk, represents an even
more striking example. In his July 7, 1945, letter, Formakov notes that this
poem describes what took place in 1940that is, the Soviet invasion of
Latviabut now it is always perceived as about the barbaric invasion by
the Germans of our great and free country. Formakov regularly recited
verse at the camp club as part of variety show performances and may well
have included this poem in a selection of war poetry on some occasions. How
ironic to think that verses describing the destruction of Latvia by Soviet
forces could have been read to Soviet labor camp inmates as anti-German

Classical Iambs

Like the barbarians on Romes boulevards

(Historys lessons are harsh!),
They descended, unstoppable,
Bringing a wave of natural disasters.

Like the barbarians, they gazed greedily

At temples, baths, and homes,
And a Roman woman, smiling strangely,
Taught them lessons in passion.

They tore off purple fabric,

Seized gold and people,
Bathed their shaggy horses from the steppes
In bathtubs carved from porphyry.

Here and there children clambered

On military chariots
And their drivers raced merrily
Along the streets and squares.

Merriment seethed violently;

A song rang out alien and wild.

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 187

In a room as cramped as a crevice
They found a money-lender covered in blood.

But a decade of barbarism cannot

Wipe away culture that has lasted centuries,
And for a long time the newcomers stood
By the river lost in thought,

Their deceived minds tormented by

Envious memory,
As their consciousness came to perceive
The ceaseless hum of Rome differently,

Not foreign, deceitful, and alien,

Not doomed to ash and smoke,
But fascinating and enchanting,
And amazingly their own,

Like a rocking cradle,

Like a grandfathers song,
Like a mothers smile,
Or a fathers light touch.

But the leader did not rescind the order,

And Rome was destroyed. The horde left
But carried the air of Rome,
Back to its camps like contagion.

The description of the slaughtered money-lender in Classical Iambs

references Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russias most illus-
trious anti-socialist writer. This passage equates the destruction wrought
by the marauding invaders and the murders perpetrated by Dostoevskys
protagonist Raskolnikov and, in the process, perhaps hints that disdain for
traditional values and ethical boundaries played a role in instigating the

GARDEN OF VERSES: A poem to Formakovs daughter, titled Zhenichka

in the Garden (opposite page), says, What do you need most of all / To
make your garden grow? / Earth, sunshine, and water / That is really
all. In 1946, when this poem was written, Formakovs family was
struggling with postwar food shortages and relying heavily on their garden
plot to survive. Formakov encourages his daughter to help the family and
keep her spirits up. [Arsenii Ivanovich Formakov PapersHoover Institution Library &


FARTHER SHORES: Arsenii Ivanovich Formakov and Anna Ivanovna Zakaz-
nova relax on the water. Thoughts of his wife inspired many of Formakovs
verses from the camps: Please understand, dearest, and forgive me for every-
thing! / Be like that tiny star that peeps in the window, not lamenting. / Racing
from the moon on high, beams turn silver / And, like a path, stretch into the
distance, to the river Dvina, to you. [Arsenii Ivanovich Formakov PapersHoover Insti-
tution Library & Archives]

violence here just as it does in Dostoevskys novel. Rome, which often symbol-
izes the oppressive state in works of twentieth-century Russian literature
(for instance, see Mikhail Bulgakovs The Master and Margarita), in Classical
Iambs instead plays the role of victim.


Formakovs poetic persona seems to grieve for old-world culture, repre-
sented by the pillaged city, in a way that recalls the work of Osip Mandels-
tam, the poet whose autobiographical essay The Noise of Time is perhaps
obliquely referenced in the line about the ceaseless hum (literally: noise/
shum) of Rome. (Mandelstam once defined acmeism, the poetic school to
which he belonged, as nostalgia for world culture.) And yet the last lines
of Classical Iambs promise Rome a kind of afterlife. The air of Rome
infects the barbarian horde, and they carry the citys culture back to their
camps. This ending reworks and inverts motifs from a nightmare from the
epilogue to Dostoevskys Crime and Punishment: a feverish, imprisoned Ras-
kolnikov dreams that a contagious virus, symbolizing the nihilist ideas that
led him to commit murder, is spreading through the population, reducing
civilization to a Hobbesian state of nature.
In the original Russian, Formakovs poem is in strict iambic tetrameter and
rhymed, which underscores his larger message about the continued rel-
evance and resilience of traditional values and aesthetics.


As much as it is about Latvia, Formakovs poem also speaks to broader
historical contexts. Rome, of course, was the center of the Christian church
as well as of a secular empire, so a description of its fall conveys potential
religious significance. Moreover, Classical Iambs also evokes the revolu-
tion of 1917 and the Bolshevik seizure of power in St. Petersburg, Russias
most imperial and, in many respects, most Roman city. Notably, the works by
Mandelstam and Dostoevsky that Formakov references in the poem contain
famous descriptions of the city of St. Petersburg.
Regardless of how we choose to read the images of the fallen city and the
pillaging barbarians, Classical Iambs seems to suggest that no revolution
or invasion, no mat-
ter how sweeping the
destruction, can fully The poem seems to suggest that no
obliterate the cultural revolution or invasion, no matter how
legacy of the past. destructive, can obliterate the cultural
Formakov organized legacy of the past.
About the Motherland and
Family so that the subject matter of poems like Classical Iambs would be
less apparent to postal censors. It would be a mistake, however, to dismiss
the Soviet patriotic poems and Russian nationalist sentiments that appear in
the first pages of the collection as entirely insincere. Formakovs letters make

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 191

it clear that he rejoiced at Soviet victories and held no illusions about the
intentions and actions of the Germans: he consistently labels the fascist inva-
sion of Latvia a catastrophe. Moreover, he had personal reasons to welcome
the Soviet reconquest of Latvia. Formakov had had no news whatsoever from
home during the German
occupation (194144); for
Formakov was both a patriotic Lat- him the Soviet advance
vian and an ethnic Russian proud of brought the possibility
of news and letters, and
his native culture.
victory in Europe meant a
potential amnesty and the possibility that he might someday return home.
Formakov was also, though a Latvian citizen, ethnically Russian. His fam-
ily belonged to a community of Russian religious schismatics (Old Believ-
ers) that had migrated to what is now Latvia to escape persecution in the
seventeenth century. Formakov took obvious pride in Russias rich cultural
and literary history. The letters he sent home include long narratives for his
son, Dmitrii, on the many great men named Dmitrii in Russian history and
overtly nationalist passages that extol the achievements of Russian culture.
Similarly, About the Motherland and Family includes a number of poems that
focus on illustrious figures from Russian culture (The Death of Pushkin,
It would be fairest to say that About the Motherland and Family reflects
Formakovs dual identity as both a patriotic Latvian citizen who mourned the
destruction of the Latvian Republic in 1940 and an ethnic Russian who loved
his native culture and longed to see the Nazis driven from Eastern Europe.
Like Formakovs life as a whole, this slim, handmade book of poems reminds
us that the interwar Republic of Latvia was a complex multiethnic state and
that ethnic Russian Latvian citizens suffered in the purges that followed
the 1940 Soviet invasion
alongside their fellow
Victory in Europe meant a potential countrymen.
amnesty and the possibility that the
prisoner might someday return home. RESCUING A
What will happen to all of this when I die? Ausma asked as we finished
looking through About the Motherland and Family and the rest of the docu-
ments and photographs she had saved from her cousins apartment. It
will all just be tossed out if it stays here. Before I left Riga that spring, she
arranged for additional photographs and manuscripts to be transferred to


the Hoover Institution Archives Formakov Fund, including the two precious
handmade books of poems, with the aim of ensuring that Formakovs story
and his literary work would be remembered after her death.
Gulag Letters, the volume of labor camp correspondence that I translated
for Yale University Press, tells the story of one victim of the year of ter-
ror, the wave of arrests that took place after Soviet forces invaded Latvia in
June 1940. Many other stories connected with this period in Latvian history
remain to be told. Collections such as the Hoover Institutions Formakov
Fund will help scholars tell them.

Special to the Hoover Digest. The author thanks Carol Ueland for her
feedback on the translations and her suggestions for improving this

Available from the Hoover Institution Press is One Day

We Will Live Without Fear: Everyday Lives under the
Soviet Police State, by Mark Harrison. To order, call
(800) 888-4741 or visit

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 193

On the Cover

dragon and a white knight: familiar mythological figures act-
ing out the clash between right and wrong, order and chaos.
This poster, created a century ago, offers a rearguard action
in the vicious contest that enveloped Russia: the knight in this
encounter is a bogatyr, a traditional Russian figure from medieval times,
poised to slay the red dragon of Bolshevism. The slogan atop the poster says,
A unified Russia. This knight, of course, did not slay his dragonbut the
bogatyr would ride again.
After the February and October 1917 revolutions in Russia, Bolshevik
forces rose up against the Provisional Government and the Russian Civil
War began. From 1917 to roughly 1922 Red forces, fighting for hard socialism,
fought against the loosely allied Volunteer Army or White guard, the anti-
Bolshevik forces. Both sides also fought a war beyond the battlefield, a war of
This image, found in the poster collection at the Hoover Institution, was
commissioned by the Whites to argue their case. It depicts a celestial bogatyr,
the Russian knight common in East Slavic legends (byliny), raising his sword
against the Bolshevist menace as the dragon tries to ensnare the heart of
Russia: the Kremlin in Moscow.
Russians were thoroughly acquainted with these legendary combatants.
In modern Russian bogatyr means hero. Joseph L. Wieczynski writes in
The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History that the bogatyri were
devoted to protecting the land, and their legends promoted unity against
foreign enemies. The bogatyr in this poster, though nameless, evokes tales of
a popular epic hero, Dobrynya Nikitich, who in surviving paintings is shown
wielding a sword, and who had been known to slay dragons.
Of course, the Bolsheviks were not going to yield the propaganda field to
their foes. They, too, invoked the bogatyri, but in the service of heroic com-
munism. Bolshevik poet Vladimir Mayakovsky wrote a 1,087-line eulogy,
Vladimir Ilich Lenin, intended to lionize Lenin in the style of the old byliny to
appeal to the uneducated masses. And in the Reds visual interpretations,


their treacherous
enemy might become
a czar-headed snake.
Dragons make for a
durable enemy. Dur-
ing Russias participa-
tion in World War I, a
triple-headed snake
on a poster would
bear the heads of Kai-
ser Wilhelm, Emper-
or Franz Joseph, and
the sultan of Turkey.
A few decades later,
the mighty bogatyr
would be shown rid-
ing down Hitler and
his fascist hordes.
The ancient godfa-
ther of the serpentine
imagery was Saint
George, who in the
legend slew his satan-
ic beast, saving the
children (and sheep)
of the land from its
insatiable appetite
and bringing Christi-
anity to all. He lives on in modern Russias highest military honor, the Order
of Saint George, which is bestowed on high-ranking officers who vanquish an
external enemy in defense of the homeland. (As evidence of the heros many
faces, the honor was given first by czars, then by anti-communist Whites,
and today by post-communist Russian leaders.) Saint George also rides again
in the city of Moscows coat of arms. Like the combatants in revolutionary
Russia, his colors are white and blood red.
Zev Roberts

H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 195


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Distinguished Overseers
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Roderick W. Shepard
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H O O V E R D IG E ST FALL 2017 197

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