PURPOSE OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

 

By Thomas DiLorenzo

Parents of college-age children are finally catching on to the cultural Marxist PC scam. Cries of “insensitivity” every time a conservative or libertarian speaker appears anywhere near a college campus; “safe rooms” equipped with play dough, soft music, and videos of frolicking puppies; the endless accusations of “racist/sexist/homophobe” aimed at all non-leftists on campus; and widely-publicized episodes of vulgar, ignorant, x-rated, “students” screaming their heads off at conservative campus speakers have exposed the real purpose of political correctness: censorship of any and all non-Marxist ideas. It’s not about fighting racism, sexism, etc.; it’s about censoring the ideas of freedom.

Today’s college students have been –and are being – trained to be intolerant, totalitarian-minded, communist thugs. All for a mere 50 grand a year at even mediocre institutions of “higher education.”

This all began after the worldwide collapse of socialism in the late 1980s. Socialists never give up on their dream of ordering their fellow human beings around, plundering them with taxes, and enriching themselves in the process. Very few of the twentieth-century socialist ideologues ever admitted that they were disastrously wrong, or apologized for providing aid and comfort to the likes of Stalin, Mao, and Castro. Instead, they and their intellectual descendants have worked tirelessly to invent a virtual socialist reality – at least in the minds of America’s youth – while censoring all dissenting opinions. Socialism’s dirty secrets must never be revealed to America’s youth, lest they revolt against the giant lying machine known as “higher education.” (There are a few exceptions, of course, but most of academe is now dominated by the totalitarian, cultural Marxist Left). 

What are socialism’s dirty secrets that must be kept from America’s youth? Let’s examine a few of them:

Socialism has always and everywhere been an economic disaster, and every honest scholar knows this. After seventy years of socialism, the Soviet economy was barely 5% of the U.S. economy, despite the false assertions of pro-socialist economists like Paul Samuelson, who wrote in the 1988 edition of his famous textbook that the Soviet economy would exceed the U.S. economy by the year 2000.
You cannot fix socialism with smarter government planners or plans. Socialism cannot work because the rational economic calculation is impossible without private property, free-market prices, the profit-and-loss market feedback mechanism, and economic freedom in general.
The ostensible goal of socialism – egalitarianism – is at war with human nature because all human beings are unique in thousands of different ways. The only kind of “equality” that socialism has ever created is equality of misery and poverty.
Socialism generates far more societal inequality than economic freedom does. In all socialist societies the politically-connected elite live lives of luxury while nearly everyone else is equally impoverished. In democratic socialist Venezuela today the economy has been ruined by socialism while the daughter of the late Hugo Chavez, the father of Venezuelan socialism, is reportedly worth $4.5 billion.
The worst kind of people – the most immoral, corrupt, cynical, uncaring, and brutal – rise to the top under socialism because socialism is all about forcing people to abandon their own plans for their own lives and complying with mandatory government plans instead. It is no accident, in other words, that socialism is associated with such violent thugs as Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Mao.
Fascism was just another variety of socialism. The word “Nazi” was an acronym for national socialism. The German socialists distinguished themselves from the Russian socialists by calling their variety of socialism “national” as opposed to “international.” 
It is a myth that Scandinavian socialism has been successful. Swedish capitalism was extremely successful in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Swedes began living off of the fruits of capitalist prosperity by adopting a version of democratic socialism in the 1950s. As a result, there was not a single net new job created there from 1955 to 1995.
Nineteenth-century socialism was “government ownership of the means of production,” but it now includes the welfare state progressive income taxation and the strangulation of capitalism with regulation and taxation. The welfare state has destroyed the work ethic of millions; destroyed millions of families; caused a 400% increase in out-of-wedlock births in America since 1960; and transformed millions into lifelong beggars and wards of the state.
Government-run healthcare systems – medical care socialism – is like all other government enterprises in that it operates with all the efficiency of the Post Office or Department of Motor Vehicles and all the compassion of the IRS. Anything as important as medical care should never be put in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats.
The worse pollution problems on the planet for the past century or more have been in the socialist countries, as documented by books with titles like Ecocide in the USSR. After the collapse of socialism the world learned that, in addition to being economic basket cases, socialist countries were also ecological cesspools.

These are but a few of the well-documented truths about socialism that are rarely, if ever, mentioned on college campuses. They are among the main reasons why the cultural Marxists have erected so many instruments of ironclad censorship on college campuses. They are why libertarian institutions are so reviled by them, for they provide their students – and anyone else – with a source of alternative economic education, an education based on sound economics and based in reality. Mises wrote in Human Action of how the socialists of his day were at war with economics, for economic common sense threatened their totalitarian plans. Today’s socialists hope to never even have to respond to sound economic arguments and facts at all by simply censoring them out of existence.

GLOBAL PASSPORTS

By Jeff Thomas

The bottom line is that anyone can be ISIS. We therefore need an approach to securing civilized societies that doesn’t allow individuals to hide behind the cloak of Western passports… The time has come for a “global passport,” a parallel digital certification of a person’s identity, background, criminal record, travel history, and other details. The digital record would be regularly updated based on databases from airlines, customs agencies, banks and other sources, and could be managed by an independent international authority.”

The quotation above comes from CNN, an American news network that has done such an exemplary job in recent years in serving as a mouthpiece for the US Government.

The argument for global passports is a familiar one: “You are in danger of being killed by terrorists. We will save you by removing yet another of your freedoms.” Or, as Hermann Goering said,

The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

Over one billion people presently cross borders each year. In addition, there are over 250 million people who are expatriates — living outside their home country. These numbers are higher than ever before in history and growing. As The Great Unravelling progresses, we will witness a dramatic increase in both statistics. Along the way, we can expect the more restrictive governments, particularly those of the EU and US, to institute limitations on travel for their citizens, in order to keep them captive at home.

So, we can therefore anticipate changes in the issuance of passports. There are two concepts afoot with regard to the future of passports, and they’re direct opposites to each other. The first is for a Global Passport, that all countries would issue and all would share computer information on all passport holders. The other is a proliferation of passports created by an easing of citizenship requirements in small countries, resulting in each individual having the ability to possess several passports, thus diminishing his “ownership” by his home country.

These two concepts are both almost certain to develop considerably in the coming years and for the same reason. As stated, the more restrictive countries are likely to push for a global passport – an Orwellian document that says, “No matter where you are, you travel on our document. We have all your information and we own you.” The more this trend increases in prominence, the more the second trend will increase, in direct reaction. More and more countries will offer citizenship to non-nationals, as the demand for freedom increases amongst oppressed people.

Most of the countries that presently offer “Citizenship by Investment” are small countries – Malta and Cyprus in the Mediterranean, plus five island nations in the Caribbean – Grenada, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts & Nevis, Dominica and, recently, St. Lucia.

A visit to any of the small Caribbean countries will reveal that, since the decline of the sugar industry, they have had few choices with regard to future prosperity. Quaint small towns and villages and nice beaches attract a certain amount of tourism, but something greater is needed to support an entire population. Decades ago, St. Kitts & Nevis decided to try Citizenship by Investment. At first, the takers were few, but, in recent years, with much of the world imploding, the program has attracted greater interest.

The way it works is that an applicant can either buy citizenship (approval takes only a month or two) for $250,000, or he can buy into a real estate project for $400,000 or more. Due to recent success, other island nations have jumped on board, offering their own programmes… and here’s where it gets interesting.

As soon as eight or ten island nations are offering similar programs, it will become a citizenship norm for the Caribbean. And, of course, that will mean competition will develop. With many countries to choose from, prices will need to drop. At some point, national leaders will seek to increase gross sales by lowering the sale price. Although $400,000 is out of reach to most who dream of buying an alternate passport, there will be far more takers at $200,000 or even $100,000, but I believe the magic price-point to be $50,000. At that price, hundreds of thousands of second-passport seekers will jump on board. Indeed, many will purchase passports from several islands. (If one backup-passport is good, multiple backup-passports are better.)

But, why are “bargain” passports not already available? From my own experience, as a West Indian, this is due to the fact that our political leaders often fear a dramatic influx of new voters. They feel safer appealing to natives than outsiders and worry that the electorate balance may be upset and cost them their seats in future elections.

Yet, many West Indian countries already have laws that limit the rights of new citizens (with particular regard to the right to run for public office). To date, none of these countries has figured out that citizenship without the right to vote is an easy solution. Once they twig onto this new category of citizenship, we may see a major drop in citizenship cost and a dramatic increase in the number of applicants.

At present, the passport schemes have attracted Russians, Canadians, Middle-Easterners, Chinese and, increasingly, Americans. At present, the US is the foremost objector to Citizenship by Investment, describing its purpose to be “to provide cover for financial crimes.” However, over one hundred other countries, including most of Europe accept the passports and the US is very much in the minority here.

This is an issue to be watched closely. Historically, whenever governments have put the squeeze on their citizens’ freedoms, citizens have reacted by trying to wriggle out. The squeeze in many countries is presently at its zenith and many, many people are voting with their feet. There will always be takers in the world when this occurs and, in the Caribbean, opportunities for increased freedom are very much on the increase.

THINK TANKS AND FAKE NEWS

 

By Christopher A. Preble

Jennifer Rubin has a solution for the fake news epidemic: better collaboration among think tanks. “In an era of ‘fake news,’ with a president-elect who regularly lies and partisan hacks who dispute that there are such things as ‘facts,’ think tanks seem more important than ever,” Rubin wrote.

Among her specific recommendations for improving the quality and salience of think tanks’s ouput, Rubin would like to see more efforts to dispel false rumors, and confirm the accurate ones. For example, “a joint project confirming Russian attempts to interfere with our and our allies’ elections.”

She also suggests that “reducing think tank partisanship and involving those outside the Beltway might go a long way toward finding legislative consensus and stimulating civil debate.”

But one of her other suggestions particularly caught my eye: civil debate and respectful disagreement.

Think tanks like to put on programs featuring a parade of essentially like-minded experts. There is much more to be gained by, say, the Cato Institute inviting professional colleagues from, say, the Council on Foreign Relations to discuss American support for democratic values in the world. If nothing else, inculcating an atmosphere of convivial debate may spread to pundits, lawmakers, activists and voters themselves.

As it happens, we did host a colleague from the Council on Foreign Relations just a few weeks ago, to discuss a recent paper on North Korea. And I think that we generally do a pretty good job of assembling panels of speakers who are not all singing from the same playbook, but who instead disagree with one another, from time to time, and usually in a civil and respectful way. In short, we already collaborate quite a bit.

But I decided to test my assumptions. With the help of my able assistant James Knupp, I compiled a list of the 16 public events hosted and organized by the defense and foreign policy department in 2016. All but one included participants from institutions other than ours, a total of 42 speakers. Of these, nearly 60 percent (25) are not primarily affiliated with a think tank, but rather work as full-time professors at a major research university. This is consistent with Rubin’s suggestion that DC think tanks reach beyond the Beltway, and it reflects our ongoing commitment to expand outreach between academia and the policy community. 

Of the 17 speakers from think tanks, many major institutions were represented, including Brookings (3 times); and CNAS, CSIS, and New America (2 times, each); as well as the Atlantic Council, the German Marshall Fund, Hoover, RAND, and USIP.

And, as it happens, we’re continuing this tradition into the new year. Our first foreign policy event of 2017, on January 17th, features, among others, Kathleen Hicks from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and will be moderated by the Post’s own Karen DeYoung. I will be thrilled if Rubin attends. If she does, she will see that we value a frank discussion of ideas, ones that do not fit within neatly partisan labels.

The open question arising from Rubin’s suggestion for greater collaboration among think tanks is whether that will actually cause people to change their minds, especially about facts that challenge preconceived notions, or that are uncomfortable. But, despite what I’ve read about cognitive shortcuts (e.g. confirmation bias), and of experts’ collective inability to influence major events (the 2016 presidential election being merely the latest case in point), I’m willing to give it a try. So I look forward to speaking at many think tanks around town in 2017, just as I’m sure we’ll continue to welcome their experts here.

PANIC AMONG CLIMATE ALARMISTS

 

By Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger

As the time towards Trump’s inauguration closes, panic mounts in the climate change-agenda community as evinced by their hyperventilation about what a Trump Administration might unleash on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. This includes ventilation about blocking access to climate data, data manipulation, investigating climate scientists, squashing dissent, selective science, end runs around Congressional intent, etc…sort of like a catalog of what they have been doing since climate change went prime time in 1988.

Many of these bloviations are completely unfounded—for example, a particular favorite of the press during recent weeks has been that “Scientists [are] Rac[ing] To Preserve Climate Change Data Before Trump Takes Office.” This is nonsense—despite the hand-wringing and (faux) concern raised by some folks. And while we, like everyone else should be, are opposed to deleting government datasets (paid for with our tax dollars), there is simply no evidence that such an action is in the works or even being contemplated.

Many of the other fears are overblown as well, but there are, in fact, some things that should bother climate campaigners (and no one else). These include efforts to retract the Clean Power Plan, to eliminate the use of the social cost of carbon as currently constituted in federal cost/benefit analyses, and acknowledgement the current generation of climate models has no utility with regard to policy.

Together these actions would go a long way to dismantling much of the overreaction inherent in Obama’s Climate Action Plan and also form a strong case for reversing the EPA’s “endangerment finding” for carbon dioxide. Should any/all of this come to pass, the climate campaigners will go bonkers, while the rest of us will be freed from burdensome regulations and have greater economic ability to address/adapt to what climate changes may come our way.

Here’s what’s afoot. First is well-designed dismantling of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, described in a letter sent to Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell (and copied to Myron Ebell, head of Trump’s EPA transition team), by a coalition of 24 state Attorneys General. It builds upon their belief that the Clean Power Plan goes far beyond what is allowed under the Clean Air Act and that it unlawfully commands states to “fundamentally alter electricity generation in their States by shifting from existing fossil-fueled power plants to other methods of generation preferred by EPA.”

Basically, the plan that they’d like to see President Trump put into motion starts with an immediate executive order making it clear that “it is the Administration’s view that the Rule is unlawful and that EPA lacks authority to enforce it.” From there, they’d like the Trump Administration to work closely with the States on ways to withdraw the rule and with Congress to make sure that no such rule gets promulgated in the future, i.e., that any “legislation should recognize the rights of States to develop their own energy strategies, so that energy can be generated in a cost effective and environmentally responsible manner.”

This course of action sounds a lot like the strategy that David Rivkin Jr. and Cato Adjunct Scholar Andrew Grossman laid out in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal two weeks after Trump was elected. It will be good to see their sound advice taken to heart and put into action.

Next up are signs that federal government’s love affair with the social cost of carbon is going to come to an abrupt and welcome end. The social cost of carbon, or SCC, is the Obama Administration’s determination of the monetary cost (tallied as the modelled damages resulting from climate changes that occurs between now and the year 2300) from every new ton of carbon dioxide that is emitted by human activities. Yes, not only does this sound ludicrous, but you can come up with nearly any number you want (including negative values—which indicate a net benefit from carbon dioxide emissions) based on how you treat certain parameters—like the future discount rate, the climate sensitivity, global vs. domestic impacts, the damage functions, adaptations, etc. Currently, in 2015 dollars, the Obama Administration’s SCC is about $40/ton. Alternative calculations produce numbers that range from near zero to several hundreds of dollars—basically, anybody’s guess.

But, while you may think that this huge uncertainty would pretty much render reliance on the SCC in federal rulemaking moot—you’d be wrong. In fact, just the opposite is the case—the Obama Administration requires the inclusion of its determination of the SCC in all cost/benefits analyses for federal decision-making that may result carbon dioxide emissions (which is nearly everything).

We have been strongly pushing back against this practice for several years now through all avenues available to us, and it now seems that the Trump Administration will take much of what we have written into consideration.

A recent article in Bloomberg explores many of the problems with the SCC and the avenues that the new Administration would have to defang the SCC. You ought to have a look.

And to this, we add an avenue that was not explored in the Bloomberg article, but which was discussed in a recent Vox article about the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). According to Jody Freeman, a former climate advisor to President Obama:

OIRA is the location in the White House where they oversee agency rulemaking. This office oversees the methodology that agencies use to count up costs and benefits for new rules. That can be changed with the stroke of a pen. And it sounds weedy, but it’s the kind of thing that can make it harder to issue new regulations.

So for instance, right now the Obama administration currently uses a “global social cost of carbon” for its climate rules — that means if you have any rule that reduces greenhouse gases, the benefits counted for that rule include the [climate] benefits globally. You could imagine a Trump OIRA saying, “We don’t want to do that anymore. We’re not going to count the social cost of carbon as a benefit.” That changes the calculus for which rules are cost-beneficial.

This seems intriguing—we really ought to have more of a look!

And finally, the grand prize of all would be overturning the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases “endanger both the public health and the public welfare of current and future generations.” From this “endangerment finding” stems the EPA’s imperative to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and unleashes all manner of regulations large and small.

There are many approaches that a Trump Administration can take. They could convince Congress to act by explicitly stating that regulating carbon dioxide is not within the purview of the Clean Air Act. Alternatively, the EPA could overturn its own endangerment finding, which, according to the Supreme Court, compels the agency to regulate carbon dioxide.

The EPA has just been handed a loaded gun to accomplish just that.

It is all laid out in a forthcoming paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society that was released online in August. The paper “The art and science of climate model tuning” is written by Frederic Hourdin and 15 co-authors. It details the phenomenal amount of adjustment that has been applied to the GCMs in order to get them to simulate the 20th Century or just the present climate.

Recently, it was summarized by Paul Voosen in Science, who said the modelers have heretofore have clammed up about all of this, fearing when it became public, “skeptics” would have a field day. Specifically, he wrote this doozey:

For years, climate scientists had been mum in public about their “secret sauce”: What happened in the models stayed in the models. The taboo reflected fears that climate contrarians would use the practice of tuning to seed doubt about models—and, by extension, the reality of human driven warming.

Yes, in fact, we will. And we should, with the caveat that carbon dioxide does cause some warming, but far, far less than what is in these models.

What comes out of the paper is that each fiddling of the models—which includes adjusting everything from the earth’s reflectivity to the mixing of heat in the ocean—gives a different answer for how much the earth will warm for doubling atmospheric carbon dioxide.

This figure, known as the “equilibrium climate sensitivity” (ECS) is the bottom line when it comes to climate change. If it can be moved to any value depending upon the “tuning” of the model, then it is the modeler and not the physics that decides this critical number. Hourdin et al. put it rather artfully when they said, that it’s important when fiddling with the models to keep the ECS within an “anticipated acceptable range.”

What’s “acceptable” is therefore entirely subjective and, outside of ridiculous values that don’t comport with reality (such as one that would imply a greenhouse runaway), we are now regulating carbon dioxide by arbitrary caprice. That knowledge dooms EPA’s Endangerment Finding.

The Endangerment Finding is itself based upon a massive compendium, EPA’s “Technical Support Document,” which is a literature review of the causes and effects of global warming based, of course, on the GCMs. There is nothing to keep the EPA from modifying that document with this new (and universal) finding, and concluding that the technical support for an Endangerment Finding no longer exists.

Our greener friends will take that to court, to absolutely no avail. Courts do not intervene over the scientific determinations of agencies, a doctrine called “Chevron Deference” to their technical expertise. This was originally decided in the 1984 Supreme Court case Chevron, Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council.

Georgia Tech atmospheric scientist Judy Curry wrote this about the Hourdin paper:

“If ever in your life you are to read one paper on climate modeling, this is the paper that you should read. Besides being a very important paper, it is very well written and readable by a non-specialist audience.”

We agree completely.

HOW READY IS READY ENOUGH?


 

By Benjamin H. Friedman

The incoming Trump administration and the Congressional majority plan a push to repeal federal spending caps in order to boost military spending. A key talking point for this push claims that the Obama administration’s anemic military spending has caused a “readiness crisis,” where the U.S. military lacks the men, weapons, and funds to do its job. On the campaign trail, or Hannity, the claim became that the Obama is “gutting the military.” The president-elect typically went further, calling the U.S. military a “disaster” and in “shambles.”

In a recent presentation, I raised three problems with these claims. One is that military spending remains high. The recent drawdown cut military spending by more twenty percent in real terms, but it came after buildup of nearly fifty percent. It’s now around Cold War peaks, in real terms.

Second, the military is shrinking partly because of its heightened quality. Rising personnel costs reflect the heightened professionalization of American troops. Similarly, U.S. weapons systems have grown deadlier, more complex, and costlier to maintain. The net result is forces are fewer but substantially more capable than previously possible.

Here I’ll focus on the third problem with complaints of a readiness crisis, which is that they’re mostly complaints about other issues. Overall, U.S. military readiness is alright, better when it comes to fighting current wars. Complaints about readiness mostly accompany requests for higher military spending. What readiness shortfalls exist could be solved without increasing the existing Pentagon budget. Those that complain the loudest about readiness, like the majority of the House Armed Services Committee, could improve it through reallocation, but they prefer to hype the crisis as a way to push for a higher total budget and stave off sacrifices

In the U.S. military, readiness generally refers to “the ability of forces to perform the missions and tasks assigned to them,” as Todd Harrison puts it. That metric depends on variables like whether units are adequately manned, the quality of training, equipment condition, and overall morale. The Pentagon tracks readiness through two internal tracking systems and classified reports to Congress.

With the exception of some military leaders, those complaining of a readiness crisis rarely mention these scorecards. Pentagon insiders and outside analysts largely agree that official readiness ratings are a poor guide for actual performance of military missions, especially in combat. Various unmeasured factors, like enemy capabilities, impact how those missions go. Questions of the military balance thus invade real readiness discussions. The vagueness and variability of readiness means that, as Brad Carson and Morgan Plummer note, debates occur without a shared definition, and the sides talk past each other.

For example, last summer, in two articles, David Petraeus and the Michael O’Hanlon attacked the idea of a readiness crisis by arguing that U.S. military forces remain well-trained and equipped for the fights they face. They note that readiness is far from perfect, especially in areas like Marine Corps aviation, but that ships and planes are mostly well-operated, and in good shape, especially compared to possible enemies. The torrent of responses chose to focus on other things: complaining that spending should be higher, worrying that preparation for future wars should be better, in some instances even acknowledging the absence of a readiness crisis before discussing various shortfalls.

Likewise, the service chiefs, whose cries about the dangers of sequestration (by which they mean budgets restrained by spending caps that Congress has annually increased and augmented with alleged war funds) inflame the “gutting the military” crowd, avoid the word “crisis” when pressed. They highlight areas of future risk or capabilities they would like, note problem areas, request more money, and mostly reject politicians’ contentions that U.S. forces are broken and weak.

To the extent that there is a readiness problem, it is partly the fault of those that most lament it: the Armed Services Committees, especially in the House, which has held numerous hearings on the topic. Its chairman, Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, recently blamed the Obama administration for a helicopter crash in Hawaii that killed twelve Marines. He argued that because the administration was “playing political games” and limiting operational funds needed for flight training, it bore responsibility for the crash.

It’s true that investigators believe that low readiness in terms of training and morale helped cause the crash. But Thornberry is himself guilty of using readiness as a political game. Though his committee has less say than appropriators, it could push to shift funds into the operations and maintenance accounts that fund readiness at the expense of some acquisition spending. However, acquisition is generally of greater interest to Congressmen because the money goes to their local production facilities and creates jobs in their districts. Thornberry prefers to keep the readiness issue as a lever to push for higher military spending. Meanwhile, the administration has tended to push for operations and maintenance funding at some cost to acquisition.

A review of the debate about the readiness crisis reveals not only that there’s little real crisis, but also that’s there’s no real debate about it. The debate is actually a vehicle for other issues, like how much we ought to spend and what we ought to do to meet threats. Readiness has become a kind of synonym for a strong defense—a concept so capacious and positive that everyone uses it to mean what they want. It’s best to discard the term and recognize that military spending choices are largely about what you want to be ready for, not how ready you are for everything.

WASHINGTON STILL DOESN’T REALLY DEBATE GRAND STRATEGY

By Benjamin H. Friedman

Former colleague and flourishing restaurateur Justin Logan and I argue that defense policy analysis here is mostly in the grips of what we call an operational mindset, which accepts the existing policy goals and evaluates the means of achieving them—building a better mousetrap rather than asking whether a mousetrap is worth building. In the essay, we describe both the demand for and supply of analysis about grand strategy, which means a theory about how states create security for themselves.

We argue that there’s little demand for such analysis in Washington because of a near consensus in the foreign policy establishment in favor of the grand strategy of primacy, which is sometimes called “liberal hegemony” or even “deep engagement.” We discuss the limits and cause of that consensus. It comes, we argue, mostly from the historical growth of U.S. wealth and military power. We reject two alternatives sources, democratic preferences and inherent intellectual superiority, by noting that neither the public nor academics are nearly as fond of primacy as foreign policy thinkers in Washington.

Turning to supply, we explain why defense analysts, including those think tanks, respond to that demand, or really its absence, by focusing on operational questions, in contrast to academics, who devote more scrutiny to strategic questions. We describe the various incentives that encourage analysts to serve power. But unlike some who see the problem similarly, we deny that the solution lies in protecting defense analysis from political interests:

A standard reaction to this notion that politics often wants science to serve rather than guide it is to propose emancipation, schemes to liberate analysis from political influence. That means keeping campuses and think tanks free of political ambition and government funds or somehow protecting “the policy process” from “self-interested individuals and groups.” But it is neither possible nor desirable to purge policy debates of self-interest. Washington’s marketplace of policy ideas is flawed—but democratic. Were it possible to purge it of self-interest, the market would be barren and silent but for the few failing merchants proudly disdainful of customers that never arrive. Think tanks totally divorced from political interests would wither or die, leaving their job to entities that respond to political demand. The solution to bad policy is better politics, meaning more productive conflict that demands new ideas, not quixotic attempts to empower Platonic guardians by quieting interested parties.

But what about Trump, you might be asking? Doesn’t he defy the foreign policy establishment in his disdain for allies, musings about nuclear proliferation, and affection or Russia, and thus generate demand for the debate we say is lacking? I plan to thoroughly answer that question in a coming essay. For now, I have two brief responses.

First, as I discussed recently in War on the Rocks, Trump will likely deviate less from establishment thinking than many expect. In fact, his appointments suggest he’ll govern like a hawkish Republican, with some tics. Time will tell, of course.

Second, we consider the possibility of a president that bucks the primacy consensus, though not as much as it should have, in retrospect. That’s one function of the wimpy modifiers throughout that dilute the strength of its claims. I even wanted to drop a “really” or “much” in front of “debate” in the title, as I’ve done here, but got overruled. More importantly, we note there that public opinion allows for the election of leaders that buck the consensus, and we observe its strength in the bipartisan attacks on Trump for his foreign policy heresies during the campaign. The incoming administration offers a strong test of the operational mindset, at least.

SUPERFLUID SHIELDING

Synopsis figure

Put an object with the same density as water in a bath, and it will become neutrally buoyant—it neither sinks nor rises. The upward force of the water on the object will counteract the gravitational force. Wolfgang Ketterle from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, and colleagues have now shown that clouds of chilled atoms known as Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) can, in some sense, be neutrally buoyant too. They found that immersing separated BECs in a superfluid bath, itself a BEC, shields them from disturbances such as external forces.

The researchers started with a BEC containing two components—each with all atoms in one of two spin states—in a common superfluid state. They then loaded this BEC into an optical lattice and applied a magnetic-field gradient to the system. This tilted the lattice and split one of the components into several BECs. In this setting, the quantum phases of the separated BECs evolve in a manner determined by the applied magnetic force, causing their interference pattern to undergo so-called Bloch oscillations. By contrast, the other component, which didn’t feel the tilt, remains a connected superfluid and acts as a bath.

By monitoring the Bloch oscillations, the authors demonstrated that the superfluid bath greatly extends the relative phase coherence of the separated BECs. It turns out that the bath shields the separated BECs from external forces and from fluctuations in their self-interaction energy that would otherwise get them out of phase. This shielding occurs because the superfluid is free to change its density distribution in a way that cancels out these disturbances. The findings are particularly relevant for atom interferometry experiments, which rely on the phase coherence between quantum systems to produce precise results.