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London became the world terrorist hub partly because the country had a long tradition of shielding dissenters of all stripes; because it had a very unintrusive state compared to its European neighbours (no ID cards); and because of Britain’s historic links with many Arab countries. But there was another reason, and this is central to the reason why Europe has an Islamist problem and the United States doesn’t – the welfare state. Welfare is intimately linked to the failure of western European countries to integrate their Muslim populations, and explains why Britain has such a problem with Islamism. […]

In place of the American Dream, Britain has the European Nightmare, a welfare system that disincentives assimilation and breeds resentment. Welfare states were designed for fairy ancient, largely homogenous European countries in the retirement stage of civilisation; but combined with open borders, as Milton Friedman predicted, welfare is unsustainable, socially divisive and potentially dangerous. The Americans have every right to despair at the strange, self-destructive behaviour of their ally. [bron]

Will the Afghan army ever stand up and fight?

Whether they fight for the DRA, for the mujaheddin, for warlords against one another’s tribes, for the ANA or for the Taliban, many Afghans fight if they believe they are on the winning side. Some join the Taliban because they remember that the Taliban recently ruled Afghanistan and they believe it will rule again. Some Talibs fight because they believe, wrongly, that the ISAF is a coalition of conquering Christian armies occupying their country and battling their religion and culture. And many Talibs fight because they are very poor and disenfranchised and have nothing to lose.

Our men and women in uniform have performed heroically in Afghanistan, but it is now time for the ANA to be battle-tested on a large scale and to take the lead in fighting this war. Without major victories on the battlefield, and without seizing and holding battle space, the ANA will never attain the confidence and reliability it needs to be a viable force, and it will become more fearful of the al-Qaeda-assisted Taliban, less motivated to fight or even apathetic. [bron]

America going down?

The puzzle is why America’s less-skilled men have been hit harder of late. One possibility is that American capitalism is especially competitive, spurring faster innovation than in other countries and more ruthless cost-cutting in hard times. Thus in the past 15 years low-productivity jobs have been swept away more quickly in America than elsewhere and the recent recession had a far greater impact on employment in America than in Europe.

A second explanation is that American men have let their schooling slide. Those aged between 25 and 34 are less likely to have a degree than 45- to 54-year-olds. As David Autor of MIT points out, they are also less likely to have completed college than their contemporaries in Britain, Denmark, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain. In recent years America’s university graduation rates have slipped from near the top of the world league to the middle. Men are far likelier than women to drop out. Their record at school is bad too. This educational decline has a racial edge. Black and Hispanic boys are far less likely to graduate from high school than white or Asian youths. A smaller fraction starts college and a larger fraction drops out.

Poor educational performance also interacts perniciously with America’s habit of imprisoning large numbers of young black men. Harry Holzer, an economist at the Urban Institute, a think-tank, points out that one black man in three spends some time in prison; for those without a high-school diploma, the rate is two in three. As Mr Bradley’s tale illustrates, once you have been in jail, finding a job becomes far harder. [bron]

Het lijkt een neerwaartse spiraal waaruit ontsnapping voor onrendabelen, zeker zij die opgroeien in een cultuur van werkeloosheid en criminaliteit, bijzonder moeilijk is. Is dit ons voorland?