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joined 2023 February 22 13:43:12 UTC


User ID: 2208



6 followers   follows 0 users   joined 2023 February 22 13:43:12 UTC


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User ID: 2208

Thanks, I'm glad to hear they've been resonating!

Much appreciated!

It's a combination of the news and personal knowledge / connections. I'll pick a country I've been following and read as many articles across as many outlets as possible till I feel like I understand what's going on, then combine it with personal knowledge of the history of the area via books or wikipedia or whatnot. I've also lived in quite a few different countries so know some of their issues from a more personal lens; can talk to my friends about what things look like on the ground.

If there wasn't a standalone place there might have been more engagement on my posts, but I think there would have been less reason for other people to feel like they also had a dedicated place to contribute their own posts. This was borne out after the transition; submissions-other-than-mine did go up a fair amount after making the independent thread, though ofc they're still low. More to the point, I don't like how bitter the culture war thread has become and didn't want every attempt to talk foreign policy to get overwhelmed with the customary hobby horses of complaining about immigrants or the perfidious deep state.

Hey sorry, I’ve been pretty slammed the past few weeks and haven’t had time to really sit down and grind these out, they take a while.

I do have to admit my enthusiasm has been waning a little lately, here and on forum in general. I’ve never been really into the culture war side of things, but I like the userbase here and noticed a lot of people like to talk foreign policy, so this was an attempt to create a central place for that kind of discussion. The hope was for TT to develop into something more community driven / self-sustaining without me, if users were into it. But after nine months it looks likely we won’t reach that; I think last week had zero posts and today has one. Which is fine, if people’s interests just lie elsewhere, not every swing is a hit.

they sabotaged white South Africa until they gave up:

American sanctions didn’t have much impact on the Safrican economy, most of their econ indicators get slightly better after 86 even. This is likely in large part due to Reagan being opposed to them (they were passed over his veto) and slow walking their enforcement. The Treasury said they had lists of Safrican SOEs but not lists of which goods originated from them, so they were pretty limited in application. There was I believe a GAO report saying basically “sanctions didn’t hit most companies, those it did hit just rerouted trade through third party intermediaries in neutral countries”

He might mean Miami. They have some weird non partisan city gov i don’t understand, but the mayor I believe is Republican.

I didn’t remove the end of the quote, that’s how I found it. Since you’re commenting on the tail end of a long conversation of me repeatedly arguing the addendum doesn’t change anything, either semantically or when we look at the actual immigration policy the quoted speaker pursued (or his other quotes on the issue), and you aren’t bothering to try to counter, do you have any point of substance to make? If not, let’s end this.

because the claim that they don't change the meaning is not an objective, undisputed, fact, it's something you have to explicitly argue

Given that I have been explicitly arguing that, what exactly are you complaining about?

My argument is that the longer quote doesn’t change the meaning at all. You’re trying to argue the longer quote means something different, that actually Washington would have reservations about poor immigrants. The fact that he pursued the most maximalist open borders immigration policy conceivable is a hint to which interpretation is more likely correct.

Isn't the obvious objection here that during the first period, citizenship and power in institutions mostly rested with WASPs and similar demographics while in the second one, although immigration had been restricted, now a large share of the native born population consisted of (descendants of) Italians, Irish etc., i.e. ethnic groups that down to the present day have markedly different attitudes towards redistribution or even things like free speech in comparison to English- or German-Americans?

I've seen people try to track with data that various European groups have consistent attitudes on policy over time, but I feel like it's pretty hard to square with how things actually worked in practice. Those same ethnic groups that supported the New Deal democrat party also supported the Democrats when they were the extreme laissez faire, anti-interventionist party, while the WASP-dominant Republicans were much more pro-intervention. I think an easier explanation is just that immigrants probably cluster around the pro-immigration party. The bulk of Irish and German immigration happened in the mid nineteenth century, but it wasn't till the better part of a century later than they (and southern whites and many other native demographics) were sold on more statist policies, so it's hard to draw a straight line from their entry into America towards larger redistribution.

I'd wager that continually adding more people who come from countries that practice more distribution and, when asked in surveys like the GSS, explicitly say that the government should intervene more and reduce income inequality, will in fact eventually result in a society that redistributes more and values economic freedom less.

This was the OP's wager as well and it's not unreasonable. But I don't think it's a claim we see much demonstrated in our own long history of mass immigration. Also worth remembering that immigrants are not perfectly representative of their own countries. The kind of person who crosses an ocean or a desert to start life all over is gonna be a little unique.

Maybe I'm misinterpreting you or you meant spending coming back down from the highs of WWII, this claim doesn't seem true, whether for overall spending or social spending in particular, both of which have a strong upward trend starting in the early 20th century.

You're right, I overstated his actual claim, which was that the rate of growth of spending as a percent of GDP slowed.

The federal government radically restricted immigration from 1922 to 1967, when federal expenditures grew from 4.5 percent to 18.3 percent - a four-fold increase...In the 45 years after the modest immigration liberalization of the late 1960s, federal expenditures climbed to 20.6 percent, a mere 8.7 percent increase...The New Deal, World War II, the Cold War, the Great Society, and other large expansions of government all happened when the border was closed.

From the Civil War till WW1, the heyday of mass immigration, federal expenditures as a percent of GDP stay barely above 0% and even fell over time.

I mean, he could have made immigration law take morality into account but didn't, suggesting it wasn't really that important to him as a matter of policy. Is the claim "not everybody in the world is equally awesome" really relevant to anyone but Bryan Caplan? Few people genuinely imagine the entire earth should move into their country.

You want to take the chance on the Guatemalan plumber? The tree of liberty is watered by the blood of patriots?


Guatemalan tradesman are pretty normal in America. As far as I know there is no constituency of people demanding government retribution for Mayan house-flooding practices.

It absolutely does

I mean no, not really, for the reason I described. If someone said "I want oppressed and persecuted people to immigrate here," which is a more natural interpretation?

  1. "I want oppressed and persecuted people to immigrate here, and I want them to be moral people"

  2. "I want oppressed and persecuted people to immigrate here, and I hope they're really bad"

No, it placed no restrictions on immigration

Yes, that is what this conversation is about.

just restrictions on citizenship, restrictions which I would like to see revived and reimplemented.

Sure I didn't ask.

  • -10

But to claim that Germans and Italians just wanted to be American is historically ignorant, because they maintained ethnic enclaves up until they were forced to stop, and didn’t use English as a first language until they were forced to.

At least from the surveys I've looked at it sounds like hispanic immigrants want to learn English, and they make their kids learn even when they themselves don't. This is from 2015 but:

Fully 89% of U.S.-born Latinos spoke English proficiently in 2013, up from 72% in 1980. This gain is due in part to the growing share of U.S.-born Latinos who live in households where only English is spoken. In 2013, 40% of U.S.-born Latinos, or 12 million people, lived in these households, up from 32% who did so in 1980...

for Hispanics overall, 95% say it is important that future generations of Hispanics living in the U.S. be able to speak Spanish (Taylor et al., 2012). Nearly as many, 87%, say that Hispanic immigrants need to learn English to succeed in the U.S.

I'm not sure how many other Europeans were really all that forced to integrate either. Even for Germans, while prejudice and discrimination against them was definitely very real in the WW1 era, iirc the laws against German language schools were struck down pretty quickly, and I'm not aware of similar rules on Italians, Poles, etc.

Why cut off the end of the quote?

That's the form I got the quote in. It doesn't change it though, this is the standard pro-immigration stance - ever hear people argue that we should prioritize indecent people known for their bad conduct?

Yes, the infamous Free White Men of Good Character. That's who he was addressing

Significantly, the 1790 Act placed no restrictions on immigration whatsoever, from white or nonwhite nations, which feels like the opportune chance to have done so if they wanted. Either way this is not a particular contrast with our late 19th century poet. A mostly white crowd is who Lazarus was addressing as well, writing during the era of mass European immigration. It is well known that Washington was himself a racial supremacist and I think it's good we've moved past his bad ideas (he himself felt that the slavery he profited from was immoral and hoped that it would be done away with). My point is that being welcoming to poor immigrants isn't some commie Jewish revisionism, it's been an attitude present in political tradition from the very start - many of our other founders expressed similar sentiments.

  • -10

We had surprisingly robust state welfare in his time, and he lived through a period of far more extreme restrictions on the first amendment via the Sedition Act. I imagine things nowadays would be pretty unrecognizable for him, but I like to think he'd be proud that we built the richest and freest nation in the world.

Because Anglos have tended to establish the world’s wealthier major states, mass immigration to them if open borders should exist is inevitable. These other peoples are unlikely to have a particularly great fondness for libertarianism, and so will slowly dismantle it as soon as they get the vote (just as happened, to some extent, in the US from the 19th century onwards).

One of Alex Nowrasteh's hobby horses is that we don't have a ton of evidence this is true, partially because it doesn't just matter how immigrants vote; it matters how the native population changes their own votes in response to immigration. America's government stayed unrecognizably small during our largest period of mass immigration in the 19th century. The period of 1921 to 1968 when America had its most restrictive immigration laws (and was 90%+ white and building a common national identity) also had the largest expansions of the government and the welfare state: the Great Society and the New Deal. After we reopened our borders government spending and union participation went back down, whether because xenophobic people don't like welfare going to foreigners, or language barriers make unionization harder, or maybe they're not related at all - point is more government doesn't necessarily follow from more immigrants.

Pretty much just paraphrasing our founder:

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges”

-George Washington

OG approved.

Thanks for catching!


You’ve all likely heard of the attacks in Jordan this weekend.

Three U.S. service members were killed in Jordan on Sunday and at least 34 others were injured in what the Biden administration said was a drone attack from an Iran-backed militia, the first known American military fatalities from hostile fire in the turmoil spilling over from Israel’s war with Hamas.

The attack happened at a remote logistics outpost in northeast Jordan called Tower 22 where the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan converge. The one-way attack drone hit near the outpost’s living quarters, causing injuries that ranged from minor cuts to brain trauma, a U.S. military official said.

This seeming escalation of proxy conflicts across the Middle East happens in conjunction with temporary ceasefire talks in Paris, assisted by Egypt and Qatar, progressing forward (supposedly).

President Biden has vowed retaliation and there's a lot of pressure on him from both parties to make it severe, though it remains to be seen what exact form it will take.

Edit: Update from BBC

The US has approved plans for a series of strikes on Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq, officials have told the BBC's US partner CBS News.

The strikes will take place over a number of days, officials said, and weather conditions will likely dictate when they are launched.

It comes after a drone attack killed three US soldiers in Jordan, close to the Syrian border, on Sunday.


I’ve covered in previous months the negotiations between the United States and Venezuela to lift American sanctions in exchange for the Maduro Administration allowing free and fair elections. Key to this agreement was lifting the ban on opposition leader Maria Machado from running for President (she would be Maduro’s opponent in a general election). Well, Venezuela’s Supreme Court has officially ruled that not only can she not run in this election, she can’t run anytime in the next fifteen years either.

The Maduro Admin may or may not have been serious about the deal initially, but they likely believe they can’t permit her to run or she could actually unseat the Socialist Party. Maduro’s popularity ratings are bad enough that even he’s talking about stepping aside (for a hand picked successor candidate). Either way, this was definitely an end you can see coming. Venezuela was supposed to lift their ban two months ago and hadn’t budged, and they’ve been extra frisky with anti-opposition stuff lately:

The pressure has increased in recent days. Ms. Machado said that her campaign headquarters had been vandalized and that three of her campaign officials had been arrested.

The United States on Tuesday said it was “deeply concerned” by arrest orders and detentions against at least 33 Venezuelans, including opposition members, journalists and former members of the military, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia.

The Biden Administration has threatened that oil and gas sanctions will be fully restored if course is not reversed, and has already restored sanctions on the state owned mining company.


Pakistan will supposedly have elections next Thursday, though there have been some murmurs of delaying it again. The Pakistani Taliban (TPP) has promised not to attack any election rallies, which is polite of them.

Former PM Imran Khan of course still banned from running, but his presence looms large over the election - only Monday the police arrested dozens of people at a rally in his favor. His party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has had all its proposed candidates banned, which leaves the election dominated by Pakistan’s historical establishment parties, he Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N). The PPP will be led by former Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of former PM Benazir Bhutto and grandson of former PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, both of whom were killed in office (so you see why a terrorist group promising not to commit political violence is actually a bit of a big deal). The PML-N is slated to perform well and will be led by Nawaz Sharif, who has been Prime Minister on three separate occasions, which cumulatively put together make him the longest serving PM. So basically two extremely establishment, dynastic candidates from parties that voters overwhelmingly rejected in favor of PTI.

Separately, the Diplomat has a good writeup on Pakistan and America’s evolving security cooperation. Collaboration has somewhat reduced since the American withdrawal from Afghanistan nearly nearly three years ago, but Pakistani intelligence has aided in American operations against Al Qaeda (including the assassination of their leader al-Zawahiri) and the US continues to be Pakistan’s main ally against the TPP, long considered their own most serious security threat. Still, things have shifted - the US used to dronestrike the TPP, now we mostly sanction them.

Pakistan has been trying its best to restore the previous relationship and coax out more military aid. They’ve been somewhat successful - Trump cut them off from aid for not doing enough to combat anti-American militants; they’ve stepped up activities there and Biden has restored aid. The relationship is still not what it once was, but the countries continue to share some common goals and common enemies - potentially moreso if relations between Pakistan and Iran deteriorate.

Though for now it looks like escalation between Pakistan and Iran has been successfully avoided and smoothed over. Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian (say that five times fast) has now visited Pakistan in hopes of smoothing things over after the previous week of lobbing missiles at each other. They both said they got a little too excited there for a minute and reiterated their unity over their common hatred of terrorists and secessionists. Peace in our time.

Separately, Pakistan has accused India of extrajudicially killing two Pakistani citizens and claims to have proof.


The coalition of separatist groups, the Three Brotherhood Alliance, continues to steadily push back

thousands more military personnel – including entire battalions – are reported to have surrendered. In some cases, soldiers say they defected for moral objections or political reasons. In many others, they surrendered after being overwhelmed by their opponents.

By early January, anti-junta fighters captured the key town of Laukkai near the Chinese border. Ye Myo Hein, an analyst at the Wilson Center, a Washington-based thinktank, described it as “the largest surrender in the history of Myanmar’s military”, saying he understood that 2,389 military personnel, including six brigadier generals, had surrendered.

It was reported that some of the six generals had been sentenced to either death or life imprisonment by the junta for surrendering. The junta has since denied this.

Since Operation 1027, more than 4,000 soldiers are estimated to have defected or surrendered, according to Dr Sasa, minister of international cooperation for Myanmar’s national unity government, which was formed to oppose the junta.

This is in addition to 14,000 military personnel who defected since the 2021 coup through programmes set up by activists to persuade soldiers to join the resistance, he says.

Russia has been the junta’s primary backer militarily since they rose to power (from 2022 onward, in exchange for Tatmadaw stymying any attempt by ASEAN to deal with Ukraine). For now they seem to be continuing to stand by them:

After the 2021 coup, Moscow decided to support the junta and bet on its survival… what has followed is an intensive bilateral cooperation spanning transfers of arms and counterintelligence know-how, joint army and naval exercises, and diplomatic cover, with Russia vetoing United Nations Security Council resolutions against the Sit-Tat.

Russia provided a third of all international arms transfers to Myanmar’s military when counting from 1992, so the Tatmadaw has additional stocks compatible with Russia’s systems. In November 2023, Russia’s navy carried out separate joint exercises with Bangladesh, India, and Myanmar, projecting power and compensating for the loss of training space in the Black Sea…

However, China has steadily soured on the junta. They weren’t really on board with the coup at first in general as they had maintained good relations with the democratic government, but they made their peace with the situation. However, the junta’s consistent inability or unwillingness to crack down on illicit organizations on the border, and to make sure bombs from the conflict don’t land on Chinese soil, have rapidly reduced China;s enthusiasm for the Tatmadaw.

China is Myanmar’s largest trade partner and has made sizable investments in Myanmar as part of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, a subset of the Belt and Road Initiative. On the other hand, China has been building leverage in the country through patronage of and arms sales to ethnic insurgent groups, notably the United State Wa Army and the members of the Three Brotherhood Alliance…

During a May 2023 visit, Foreign Minister Qin Gang expressed China’s disappointment at the junta’s inability to control the border area between the two countries. What apparently tipped the balance for Beijing was the proliferation of online scammers and human-trafficking operations in the northeast of Myanmar.

No one really knows what will happen next so the coming months may prove to be very interesting and very dynamic.


In the past few years the West African countries of Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali have all experienced military coups and are now ruled by juntas. There has been significant tension between them and the remaining democracies of West Africa, who really, really don’t want to incentivize military coups in their own countries, leading them to sanction the upstarts. As of this week all three of the juntas have now withdrawn from ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, or a regional trading zone that also allows for free movement of West Africans between countries and occasionally deploys peace keeping force.

The withdrawal is effective immediately; technically you’re supposed to give a one year notice before you exit the organization, but it’s not like anyone can really hold them to that. The also formed the Alliance of Sahel States, which so far just has these three juntas, all three of which, it should be remembered, are very poor and despite being ruled by the military, have very small militaries. All three countries have increasingly close relations with Russia; Mali has been hosting the Wagner group for a while, Russian soldiers arrived in Burkina Faso and will probably be in Niger soon. This is interesting in the sense of the ongoing dynamic of West Africa (and its many resources) shifting away from France and the United States and towards Russia, but the fact that you probably haven’t heard of the Alliance of Sahel States is a good indicator of its relative importance.

Hungary and Friends

A follow up to last week’s post about Turkey finally approving Sweden’s NATO membership (in theory in exchange for American shipments of F-16s, which have not been approved for delivery by Congress yet). Hungary is the only remaining holdout keeping Sweden from NATO membership and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has now agreed to meet with Viktor Orban. Hungary has responded in a characteristically confusing manner:

In a post on X on the same day, Orban wrote that his country supports Sweden’s membership and said he would urge lawmakers to approve its accession quickly.

But on Thursday, Hungary’s parliamentary speaker, Laszlo Kover, said there was no urgency in backing Sweden’s NATO membership bid.

“I do not feel any particular urgency. Moreover, I do not think there is an extraordinary situation,” Kover said.

The US Ambassador to Hungary sounds increasingly exasperated with their ostensible ally.

Hungary is also holding up a $54 billion European Union aid package for Ukraine, so basically everyone in Europe loves Hungary right now. Ostensibly the conflict is over the minority rights of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine, but given Orban’s relative friendliness with Putin there are a lot of accusations thrown about the move being pro-Russian (functionally or intentionally). The Foreign Ministers of Hungary and Ukraine met to try to hash things out but apparently still no luck.

Monday’s meeting was Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto’s first visit to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, and the only official bilateral meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, in the last two years.

Szijjarto said that modifications Ukraine made late last year to its education and language laws had “doubtlessly stopped a negative spiral” that had restricted the rights of ethnic Hungarians in the western Ukrainian region of Zakarpattia to study in their native language.

But, he said, those changes were not enough to resolve the dispute over the language rights of the Hungarian minority that has dominated the two countries’ poor relations for years.

The EU has been blocking funds for Hungary in response to democratic backsliding in Hungary; probably what it would really take to get them on board is to reverse this and effectively pay them off. Supposedly it’s possible that a meeting will happen directly between Orban and Zelensky but it remains to be seen.

Edit: Update: @Ioper flagged that today there was actually a breakthrough on the Ukraine funding:

After weeks of standoff, European Union leaders brought Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary on board and agreed on Thursday to create a 50-billion-euro fund for Ukraine, providing a critical lifeline to a country at risk of financial meltdown in the midst of war with Russia...

Before Thursday’s meeting, Mr. Orban had been demanding an annual chance to veto the disbursement of money to Ukraine, which is to be dispensed in the form of loans and grants over the next four years. But that demand was rejected. Instead, leaders agreed to a regular review of the way the money was being spent to assuage concerns about diversion or corruption, E.U. officials said.

Under the agreement reached on Thursday, the European Commission, the E.U. executive arm, will draft an annual report on how the Ukraine fund is being used. European leaders will have a chance to debate its performance and raise any concerns about it...

It appeared that Mr. Orban did not receive anything material in exchange for giving up his veto for the fund, valued at about $54 billion.