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Has NPR's Adam Davidson Betrayed His Listeners? Serious Conflict of Interest Issues Exposed

Editor's Note: The following article from Yasha Levine and Mark Ames' SHAME Project has caught the attention of the New York Observer's Foster Kamer, who suggests that the authors have made a "compelling case" that the NPR programming Adam Davidson is associated with is "inherently conflicted."  What are the charges? Kamer summarizes:

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The Problem with Best Films of All-Time Lists -- Even Great Directors Screw Them Up

I can’t do Best Film lists. Somebody recently asked me to—a former student—it was sweet of him and all—but I can’t. They’re so embarrassing.  You no sooner put down a title than you feel like an idiot—really, this is the BEST film ever made, of all films from all nations, in all genres, for all time, the very BESTEST??

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Why Did the Zetas Ambush Two US Agents on a Lonely Mexican Desert Road?

MONTERREY, NUEVO LEÓN–While meeting Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon at the White House on March 3, Barack Obama discussed the idea of letting armed US agents operate on Mexican territory. You know, to help us deal with our deadly drug violence. Boy oh boy do we Mexicans feel safe now!

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10 Ways the American Economy Is Built on Fraud

Here are 10 ways the American economy is built on fraud:

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Harry Potter and the Blah-Di-Blah-Blah

So Harry Potter, the latest one. Making a lot of money. Yep. How many more to go? Ten? Oh, only two? Well, good, that means they'll finish up before the kids turn 30.

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How Did We Ever Let This Guy Get Away with Being a War President?

What George W. Bush loved best about his job was being a war president. Playing war, that is, as opposed to making war like a grown-up. Remember him strutting onto that carrier in his little flight jacket? You never saw Eisenhower, a real general, playing out his martial fantasies this way. You can take the drink out of the drunk, but you can't take the swagger out of a fool.

Compare Bush's eight years to Clinton's, and you see how much he loved to play the soldier. No one expected that from a Republican: Reagan and Bush senior were cautious about betting America's chips. Liberals used to make fun of Reagan for picking on tiny helpless nations that couldn't fight back. Now they are remembering with pure nostalgia Reagan's invasion of Grenada, air raids on Libya, and even our 1984 withdrawal from Beirut.

We'll never know how far W. would have gone to find himself a war because he had all he needed delivered by air on Sept. 11, 2001. Remember how people felt in those days? A friend of mine said, "It was like the aliens had invaded."

We needed our president to be a hero and made him into one, even though it was obvious he wasn't up to the job. He didn't take the first plane to Manhattan, stand there and say, "We're coming for you bastards!" Instead he sat in a roomful of children, reading My Pet Goat, then dropped off the radar for hours before his handlers got him ready.

Maybe there's a lesson here: if the president doesn't cut it in a crisis, we're better off admitting that to ourselves and telling him so instead of pretending he's a great leader. When you make a weakling into a hero, you give him a lot of power. If we'd kept our eyes open and faced the fact that Bush reacted badly to 9/11, we might have been able to ask for a little more detail about his big plans.

Those came courtesy of Cheney and his neocon punks. What a crew these guys were! Like their boss, they were also woofers, boasters -- but of a different variety. Dubya was your standard frat boy loudmouth, but Cheney, with his talk about "working the dark side," was more like the ultimate Dungeons and Dragons nerd. And you couldn't ask Hollywood to serve up a goofier selection of dorks than his neocon staffers, who drifted from the universities to D.C. the way has-been pop singers switch to country and western to leech off a new bunch of suckers.

On the one hand, they were scared to death of Arabs and hated all Muslims. On the other, they were convinced that every Muslim on the planet really wanted, deep in his heart, to be magically turned into an Ohio Republican. That was their theory: take an anti-American Arab country, add an invading army, and voila! a nice fluffy democracy souffle.

So we poured American blood and treasure into the Iraqi dust to prove the half-baked theories of a bunch of tenth-rate professors. The most expensive experiment in the history of the world, all to learn something any 10-year-old could have told them: people don't take to foreign troops on their streets, and not everybody wants to be like us. You know those Ig-Nobel awards they hand out to the dumbest science projects of the year? The Iraq invasion is the all-time winner. Retire the trophy with the names of the winning team: Bush, Cheney, Kristol, Wolfowitz, Feith.

But first came Afghanistan -- "the graveyard of empires." Every military-history wannabe was conjuring the ghosts of that Victorian British army slaughtered by the Afghans, along with all the propaganda we'd been pushing about the invincible mujahedeen who'd driven out the Soviets. Looking back, what they had routed was a dying Soviet state, and they didn't even manage to do that until we took the risk of giving them Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. But all the pundits' knees were shaking about going into the Afghan haunted house.

We started slow, the way American armies tend to do, taking a while to limber up. There were weeks of bombing the Shomali Plain to no visible effect and a Special Forces raid on Mullah Omar's compound that was more "Naked Gun" than "Top Gun." Then Mazar-i-Sharif in the north fell suddenly, and it turned into the kind of war that Northern Alliance fighters and fighter-bomber pilots both love: hunting down a fleeing enemy.

The campaign went so well, so fast, that it taught Bush and Cheney the wrong lessons. They started exporting democracy to Afghanistan, even hiring a local Pashtun girl to read the Kabul evening news. When you tell a big, backwards tribe like the Pashtun that you're going to turn their whole world upside down for them, you shouldn't expect them to be grateful. But we did, setting ourselves up for a whole lot of trouble later on.

Worse yet, Bush's people figured that since Afghanistan, the tough nut, cracked so easily, their pet project, a second Iraq invasion, would be a cakewalk. This time they would do it right, occupying the Iraqi cities instead of just crushing Saddam's army and withdrawing like Bush senior did.

Nobody wants to recall what Americans believed back then. That's OK: I'll remember it. People thought that Saddam was "connected to" 9/11, and his agents were going to poison our water, nuke our cities, and gas our subways. At least they claimed to believe all that unlikely James Bond stuff. I don't think they really did. There was just so much revenge momentum after 9/11 that it had to burst out somewhere. Everybody wanted payback. It's natural. But most of the time, in your average democracy, cooler heads are in charge. Not this time. Bush and his team were foaming at the mouth far more than the average citizen. It was like a crazed sheriff trying to talk a lukewarm mob into a lynching frenzy. With the help of people who should have known better -- I'm looking at you, Colin Powell -- he got his way.

That, in the short version, is why George W. Bush is about to leave office the most unpopular American president in history. You can spin Iraq a hundred different ways, but it still comes up bad news because once the dust settles, the Iranians are in control of the whole region, and they didn't have to fire a shot. We destroyed their old rival for them.

It's a simple story: we crushed Saddam's army, occupied the cities, and then acted like the whole country would turn itself into a neocon fantasyland. Paul Bremer's cult kids were talking tax reform while the Iraqi army they had sent home unemployed was busy digging up the weapons they had buried in their yards. Bush's counterinsurgency policy was pretending there was no insurgency then pretending it was just Saddam's "deadenders." When Saddam's capture at the end of 2003 didn't slow the insurgency, Bush's defenders stopped acting like they knew what was going on and just settled for blaming the Iranians -- as if it was a nasty surprise that Iran, the country that openly hates America most in the whole world, might get involved in anti-American operations when we occupied Iraq right next door.

People ask what our counterinsurgency strategy was before the surge. Easy: we had none. We were doing nothing but offering the insurgents moving targets. A standard operation for the occupation force in those dark days was patrolling through an alien Sunni neighborhood, waiting for an IED to go off under the lead vehicle or for an RPG or small-arms ambush. When that happens, conventional forces have a grim choice: do nothing, withdrawing while the locals snicker at your dead and wounded, or open fire on everyone in sight. Either way, the insurgents win. If you withdraw, they've hit you with impunity and gained respect in the neighborhood. If you open fire on the slums, you kill civilians and make enemies.

Effective counterinsurgency means not relying on massive firepower the way conventional forces are trained to do. The idea is not to fire until you know exactly who you're up against. It's the opposite of shock and awe. It's discipline and patience. Gen. David Petraeus implemented a set of reforms usually called the surge, though they were about tactics more than reinforcements. All he really did was initiate overdue standard counterinsurgency doctrine. He integrated U.S. units with Iraqi forces then sent them out into the neighborhoods. You can't run any kind of counterinsurgency plan without good street-level intelligence, but Bush's people wouldn't admit that there was an insurgency, so they wouldn't commit to learning about it. Their style was to ignore it and hope it would go away.

That's why Afghanistan went well in the early stages: we didn't go in trying to turn the Afghans into democrats, but trying to crush the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In Iraq, Bush was dreaming from the start, so the whole effort was doomed.

The surge worked about as well as any good counterinsurgency effort could. We know a little about the enemy now, and there's less violence because all the neighborhoods had already been ethnically cleansed. Baghdad is now a Shi'ite city. There are a few Sunni enclaves, but the Shia rule the city and the country, with the Kurds fortifying themselves up north and wishing they could saw their territory off and relocate it somewhere in mid-ocean.

That's what Bush's trillion-dollar investment in Iraq has bought. Meanwhile, if you look at the rest of the world map, you get a real shock. Regions like Latin America and Central Asia that eight years ago were American protectorates in all but name have turned against us while we were distracted with Iraq. Many times, the real winners are countries that manage to stay out of a war, the way England benefited by not getting sucked into the Thirty Years' War. Iran is much stronger now, and so is Russia. The Russians, who seemed to be in their "throes" when Clinton left office, just slapped down Georgia, one of our few remaining allies among the old Soviet states, and there wasn't a thing we could do but grumble.

It's no puzzle: we pretended a goon was a hero, let him play out his foolish fantasies about remaking the Middle East, and wasted our strength on a losing effort while the rest of the world drifted out of our power. Our leader was a laughingstock around globe, and he made America the butt of the world's contempt. But Bush got his wish -- he was a war president and then some. The rest of us were the casualties.


Is CNN Getting Kicked Out of Russia?

You probably didn't know that CNN censored Putin for being just too darn sensible. Yep, it's true. About two weeks ago, Putin gave the network an exclusive 30-minute interview. And you know what happened? Nothing. It was never allowed to air. CNN doesn't know it yet, but that decision might have cost them their Russian broadcasting rights.

On August 29, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with senior political correspondent Matthew Chance for a CNN exclusive interview. "This was unprecedented access to Russia's powerful prime minister, the former KGB spy now increasingly at odds with Washington," an overly dramatic voice-over introduced the segment as Chance and Putin enjoyed pre-game banter and a walk through the courtyard of Putin's palatial Sochi residence. Once seated, Chance didn't waste any time with his provocative questions:

Matthew Chance: But it's been no secret either that for years you've been urging the West to take more seriously Russia's concerns about international issues. For instance, about NATO's expansion, about deployment of missile defense systems in eastern Europe. Wasn't this conflict a way of demonstrating that in this region, it's Russia that's the power, not NATO and certainly not the United States?

Vladimir Putin: Of course not. What is more, we did not seek such conflicts and do not want them in the future.

That this conflict has taken place -- that it broke out nevertheless -- is only due to the fact that no one had heeded our concerns.

I think both you and your -- our -- viewers today will be interested to learn a little more about the history of relations between the peoples and ethnic groups in this regions of the world. Because people know little or nothing about it.

If you think that this is unimportant, you may cut it from the program. Don't hesitate, I wouldn't mind.

It was a prescient comment. Not only did CNN delete Putin's historical roundup of relations between Russia, Georgia and South Ossetia going back to the 18th century that followed, the network cut out almost everything else as well. Despite the "unprecedented access" hook, for its U.S. feed, CNN reduced the 30-minute interview into a series of sound bites that seized and ridiculed Putin's crackpot theory that the Republican party started the war to boost McCain's ratings. CNN's international audience, enjoying the news from hotel rooms all round the world, got to see a little more of the the footage. But most of it had to do with Russia's ridiculous "non political" decision to ban some American poultry importers from doing business with Russia because of their poor quality control standards. CNN's intentions were clear: Putin must come off looking like a fool. And it seemed Putin gave them the perfect material. Embargoes on dead chickens and global neocon conspiracies? Gosh, what serious self-respecting world leader would start talking this kind of gibberish? Even Ahmadinejad doesn't sink that low. Well, the chicken meat embargo might have been a little weak, but the neocon conspiracy I'm not so sure about. But more on that later.  (You can see the heavily edited interview clips on CNN website, but the network never made the full version available. But you can expand=1] see it on Russian TV.)

Not surprisingly, this didn't go down none too good with the Prime Minister. See, as it turns out, when Putin told CNN he wouldn't mind if they cut some of his comments, he wasn't exactly being honest. Not only did he mind, but he was sovereignly pissed off to find the entire interview censored. After all, he is the one that usually does the censoring. And it's not like he gives out TV interviews every month, or even every year. If I'm not mistaken, the last interview Putin gave to American TV was waaaay back in 2000, when he was on Larry King Live making crude comments about the sinking of the Kursk submarine.

And then there's the issue of Saakashvili's CNN time. Just in the past month, Saakashvili has appeared a dozen times on the network giving interviews averaging 5 to 10 minutes each. As CNN correctly pointed out, Putin is a former KGB spy, so he knows all the details, down to the nearest second. And that's exactly why he's taken it as a personal insult from CNN's headquarters (and probably more proof of an international media/government conspiracy against him). But he just might have the last word.

The word on the street here is Putin is out for blood. It's payback time. According to a source with high-level government connections, the Russians are planning punitive actions against CNN. At this point, it is just a rumor, but they are preparing to kick out about half of the half-dozen Western journalists working at CNN's Moscow bureau. Sooner or later they're going to have to apply for a visa renewal and that's when it's gonna go down. They'll be denied, clean and quiet like. We can only pray that the tool Matthew Chance is up for a new visa soon.

So why did CNN decide to cut the interview? The thing is, Putin came off pretty darn well. Sure, the chicken embargo was embarrassing, but the McCain/neocon conspiracy theory wasn't as crazy as some would want you to believe. Gary Brecher has been saying all along that this little war had the mark of a half-baked neocon plan for world domination. As Gary says, Georgia's move makes no sense at all from a Georgian perspective. Somebody must have told those idiots they'd be safe to retake South Ossetia. And who better than Cheney?

In general, Putin was able to strike an unusually sympathetic chord during the interview. It sure wasn't anything like the grotesque interview he gave eight years ago, where he made that cruel "it sank" Kursk expand=1] joke. This time around, he was level headed, reasonable and, most importantly, very convincing and believable -- not what you'd expect from the evil Stalin/Hitler hybrid personality being pushed on the American public. And that worried the hell out of CNN editorial staff, enough to make them crudely censor the entire thing and hope no one noticed.

So, what parts of Putin did CNN leave on the cutting room floor?

Putin the anti-Stalinist:

Therefore, those who insist that those territories must continue to belong to Georgia are Stalinists: They defend the decision of Josef Vissarionovich Stalin. [It was Stalin who first split up Ossetia and gave the southern half to Georgia.]

Putin the caring:

For us, it is a special tragedy, because during the many years that we were living together the Georgian culture -- the Georgian people being a nation of ancient culture -- became, without a doubt, a part of the multinational culture of Russia.[C]onsidering the fact that almost a million, even more than a million Georgians have moved here, we have special spiritual links with that country and its people. For us, this is a special tragedy.

Putin the peaceful:

You and I are sitting here now, having a quiet conversation in the city of Sochi. Within a few hundred kilometers from here, U.S. Navy ships have approached, carrying missiles whose range is precisely several hundred kilometers. It is not our ships that have approached your shores; it's your ships that have approached ours. So what's our choice?

We don't want any complications; we don't want to quarrel with anyone; we don't want to fight anyone. We want normal cooperation and a respectful attitude toward us and our interests. Is that too much?

Putin the conscientious business man:

Construction of the first gas pipeline system was started during the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, and for all those years, from the 1960s until this day, Russia has been fulfilling its contract obligations in a very consistent and reliable way, regardless of the political situation.

We never politicize economic relations, and we are quite astonished at the position of some U.S. administration officials who travel to European capitals trying to persuade the Europeans not to buy our products, natural gas for example, in a truly amazing effort to politicize the economic sphere. In fact, it's quite pernicious.

It's true that the Europeans depend on our supplies but we too depend on whoever buys our gas. That's interdependence; that's precisely the guarantee of stability.

How Birthrate Is Turning Modern Conventional Warfare on Its Head

What was the most important battle of the late 20th century? You could argue it was the one that took place on the southern border of Morocco on November 6, 1975. Of course, we’re not talking about another Stalingrad here. In fact, what happened that day isn’t usually called a battle at all. Its official name is “The Green March.” On one side were 350,000 unarmed Moroccan civilians carrying green (Islamic) flags, and on the other -- miles inside the border, because they were hoping not to have to confront any of the marchers -- was a shaky, demoralized token force of Spanish troops pretending to defend a former Spanish colony, the Spanish Sahara.

The Spanish Sahara hangs below Morocco where the Sahara meets the Atlantic like a crumbling brick wall. It was about the least desirable chunk of coastal Africa around, with no water to speak of and a tiny population, which is why the Spanish got it. By the time the European powers were ready to divide up Africa in the late nineteenth century, Spain had long since lost its glory and tended to get the scraps and leftovers.

But one thing we’ve learned over the last century is that on this crowded, hungry planet, there’s no such thing as worthless land. Spanish Sahara has proven that: in the 30 years it’s belonged to Morocco, big money has been made from the fishing off the coast and the huge phosphate mine at Bou Craa, a hundred miles inland.

That’s why the Moroccan King Hassan II, a wily old sultan with friends in the CIA, decided it was worth his while to ship all those loyal subjects down to Morocco’s southern border, hand out little green flags for the cameras, and send them across the border toward those Spanish troops.

The Moroccans had to think outside the traditional military-conquest box, for the simple reason that Morocco’s armed forces are pathetic. They’re so bad their only contributions to military history have been in the “slapstick comedy” department. For instance, the Minister of Defense once tried to have fighters from the Moroccan Air Force kill Hassan II by shooting down his Boeing 727 as it came home from a foreign trip. They failed. Seriously: jet fighters failed to intercept and destroy a big, fat, slow civilian airliner even when they knew its exact flight path. A military like that pretty much has to resort to unarmed conquest, because its chances in a fair fight are zero.

Of course the Moroccans had the advantage of facing a weak, dispirited colonial Spain just at the moment the Spanish dictator, General Franco, finally got around to dying. If you’re old enough to recall those early SNL seasons, you probably remember Chevy Chase’s running joke, “This just in: General Franco still dead!” The reason that joke worked is that it took the old General a long time to die, and that meant that greedy up-and-coming regional powers like Morocco had plenty of time to plan ways of getting their hands on former Spanish colonies.

It may not have been very exciting for combat fans, but it was an extremely effective invasion. The Spanish troops didn’t fire a shot. The marchers walked over the border, got sand in their shoes, shouted about how this sacred patch of waterless, flat desert was now an integral part of the Kingdom of Morocco, and went back home. And since then, the Spanish Sahara has been dominated by Morocco, although the local guerrilla army, POLISARIO, gave them some serious problems for a while.

What makes this weird episode my nominee for “Most Significant Battle of the Era” is that it showed the new way of winning disputed territory. If there’s one thing that we should have learned over the past hundred years, it’s that traditional armed conquests are getting less and less effective. This is one of the most surprising twists in all military history. All through the nineteenth century, the European powers, led by the British and French, took the land they wanted on the grounds that they had better military technology, transport and organization. Locals who disputed that notion tended to disappear as casualties of inevitable progress. And that was just an updated version of what had been happening all over the world for thousands of years: bigger, stronger tribes displace and wiped out weaker tribes whenever they could. That was the norm, even in pre-contact North America, where the Navajo were displacing the Ute in the American Southwest long before the white guys showed up.

Now, even though the balance in conventional warfare is if anything tilting further toward the first world, the technologically advanced and organized countries are in retreat, and the former victims are pushing back, not just claiming their old territories but infiltrating the former colonizers’ countries. What matters now is morale, national will. The Spanish didn’t have it, and the Moroccans did. So even though the Spanish troops could have wiped out those unarmed marchers, they failed to open fire. Weapons are only weapons if you’re willing to use them. A technologically advanced army without the will to fire is no army at all.

Only us dedicated war nerds seem to realize how weird this is, how totally unprecedented in military history. Until the 20th century, the problem wasn’t usually getting militarily superior forces to open fire -- it was getting them to stop before the weaker tribe, army or country was totally wiped out. I don’t know of a single case, before the 20th century, of a militarily superior tribe or nation lacking the will to defend its territory, or for that matter, take the territory of weaker neighbors.

The 20th century was the big turning point. New powers like Germany and Japan tried to imitate the older colonial powers of the 19th century and suffered total, disastrous defeat, even though they usually prevailed on the battlefield. That’s the weird lesson of the two world wars: military superiority in the narrow sense just doesn’t cut it any more. Despite the total battlefield dominance of the Wehrmacht (and to a lesser extent the Imperial Japanese forces), Germany and Japan ended the war not just without additional territory but with their home territories in ruins, their cultures gelded, their birthrates for generations to come among the lowest in the world.

Even the older colonial powers, Britain and France, finished the century in big trouble, without the will to resist the immigrants from the colonies they’d once ruled. We’re at a very strange moment militarily: our weapons still work but our will is gone.

The colonies that were established earliest are the most successful. For example, northern North America, now the U.S. and Canada, passed into permanent possession of the European settlers (or so it seemed, until recently). Two things determined this: first, they were settled in the 17th and 18th century, before conscience set in, and because most of the native population had been relatively tiny groups of hunter-gatherers (which also holds true for Australia, though it was settled much later). Everywhere else -- in Latin America, Africa, Asia -- the locals have been pushing back the colonizers without coming close to what old-style military theorists would call military superiority. That’s what we’re seeing now in South Africa, and more slowly in Europe and the southern United States. In other places, especially those colonized by the French (who were never as good at it as the Brits), huge colonial populations were totally eliminated, like the million-plus French residents of Algeria.

So there’s a shocking lesson that military buffs have been slow to face: military superiority doesn’t matter nearly as much right now as birthrate and sheer ruthless will.

Ah, birth rate -- funny how it’s become such a taboo subject for both Left and Right. The Lefties wouldn’t dream of telling third-world people to limit their baby-making, and most right wingers can’t bring themselves to endorse birth control even if it could slow the destruction of their own countries.

So birth rate is a weapon without a counter-weapon right now. So it tends to win. The Moroccans made it clear that the Green March was all about birth rate. The number of “volunteers” they sent to the border was 350,000, exactly the number of births per year in Morocco. So this was basically a ”Lebensraum” argument like the one the Germans tried earlier in the century. You might have heard about that one, a little dust-up called the Eastern Front. And you might be saying right now that if any policy ever failed decisively, it was the Nazis’ attempt to elbow themselves a little living space from Stalin. Which is totally true. But the Nazis tried it the old-fashioned way, with armed conquest.

To succeed in the post-1918 world, the world Woodrow Wilson dreamed up where “small nations” have rights even if they can’t defend them, you need to use slower, less obviously military methods, like birthrate and immigration. The classic example of this kind of slow conquest is Kosovo. The Serbs could always defeat the Albanians on the battlefield, even when outnumbered, but the Albanians had a huge advantage in the most important military production of all -- babies. According to the BBC, the birthrate of Kosovo Albanians 50 years ago was an amazing 8.5 children per woman.

The Serb/Albanian conflict offers damn near perfect lab conditions to prove my case that birth rate trumps military prowess these days, because the Serbs always beat the Albanians in battle, yet they’ve lost their homeland, Kosovo. Here again, we can blame Woodrow Wilson and his talk about “rights.” In places where tribes hate each other, a tribe that outbreeds its rival will become the majority, even if it can’t fight. So, after generations of skulking at home making babies, letting the Serbs do the fighting, the Albanians finally became the majority in Kosovo and therefore the official "good guys," being oppressed by the official "bad guys," the Serbs. At least that’s the way the nave American Wilsonian types like Clinton saw it. So when the Serbs fought back against an Albanian rebellion in Kosovo, and dared to beat the Albanians, Clinton decided to bomb the Serbs into letting go of Kosovo, the ancient heartland of a Christian nation that had spent its blood holding off the Turks for hundreds of years.

The Kosovo Albanians proved that military skill doesn’t matter, because they tried and failed to conquer Kosovo the old-fashioned way: armed rebellion by the Kosovo Liberation Army. It was a wipeout: local Serb militias, a bunch of tired middle-aged part-timers and cops, crushed the KLA. What happened next is a beautiful illustration of the way losers win these days: the Albanians took the bodies of KLA men who’d been killed in battle, stripped all weapons and ammo from them, and showed them to gullible Western reporters as victims of a Serb “massacre.” It was a massacre, all right, but only because the KLA couldn’t fight worth a damn. Alive and armed, they were a joke; dead and disarmed, they helped win Kosovo by making their side the "victims," which led directly to U.S. military intervention.

To win the way the Albanians won in Kosovo, you need to make a lot of babies. It’s that simple. And to see how it works, you have to drop the namby-pamby liberal idea that people only have babies out of “love.” In lots of places on this planet, baby-making is a form of weapons production.

In some places, it’s open policy. For example, in Palestine there’s an all-out birthrate war going on between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And one of the most frustrating things about this kind of struggle, from the Israeli perspective, is that the worse you make life for the people in the occupied zones, the more kids they have. The Gaza Strip, for instance, has one of the highest fertility rates in the world outside Africa, at 5.6 kids per woman.

The rate for Israeli overall is about 2.8 children per woman, high for a rich country. But the most amazing rates anywhere, even higher than for the Gaza Palestinians, are in the most extreme Zionist groups, the Haredi “ultra-orthodox” Jews. Until recently they averaged eight or nine children per woman. There was actually a big panic in the Israeli settler press when news hit that their rate had dropped to a mere 7.7 kids per woman.

That’s actually higher than the rate for Mali (7.38 per woman), which has the highest birthrate in the world.

The settlers don’t hide the fact that they’re producing as many kids as they can in order to change the demographics of “Greater Israel” in their favor -- above all to make sure the Palestinians never become the majority.

What’s interesting is that there were plenty of voices in the ultra-Orthodox community in favor of using Israel’s military superiority to settle the problem the old-fashioned way, by expelling or wiping out the Palestinians. Those people lost out; their leader, Meir Kahane, was assassinated by an Egyptian cabbie in New York, but he’d lost the debate long before he died. You just can’t get away with those methods these days, not even with every born-again Baptist Zionist in Texas backing you to the hilt.

If you want an example closer to home, just go to Northern Ireland where the Protestant majority the border was designed to maintain has been getting smaller and smaller, thanks to the higher birthrate among Catholics. As of 2001, the Catholics were about 46% of the population, up from 35% in 1961.

But as the dreaded “Catholic Majority” date approaches, a funny thing is happening up in Ulster: the Catholic birth rate is slowing down even faster than the Protestant rate. This always happens when a tribe breaks out of its slums into the middle class. This illustrates one of the real brain-twisters of contemporary demographic struggle: if you really hate the enemy tribe, the best thing you could do would be to make them rich. Rich people don’t have nearly as many kids. Of course there are exceptions like the Ultra-Orthodox Israelis, who are fairly well-off and just dedicated to making as many kids as possible, but generally, money distracts people from starting big families. So the old methods of keeping down the enemy tribe are usually counterproductive. If the Ulster hotheads like Ian Paisley had had their way and kept the Catholics down in the slums, their birthrate over the past 30 years would have been much higher and they’d be ready to stage a Kosovo-style “majority rule” coup like the Albanians did against the Serbs, complete with the USAF blowing up every television tower in Belfast like we did to the ones in Belgrade, just to teach those Serbs a lesson: “No TV till you let your little Albanian brother have Kosovo!”

Makin'em rich is the only way you’re going to settle the kind of conquest-by-immigration we’re seeing now in Europe and North America. Nobody will even say honestly how many illegal immigrants there are in the U.S. right now, but just from what I see driving to work, I’m inclined to go with the higher estimates, something up to 20 million people who snuck in from Mexico and points south looking for work.

As far as I know, nobody’s claiming the Latino immigrants decided to have a lot of kids as a way of reconquering Texas and California, the way the Israeli settlers are doing. La reconquista, if it happens, will be an unforeseen result of rising birth rates and falling death rates for countries like Mexico that are just moving up from the third world to, say, the second-and-a-halfth.

By 1970, Mexico was at that dangerous stage where there’s just enough basic medical care to keep people alive, so death rates are falling sharply, but people are still poor enough to want a lot of kids. Between 1970 and 2000, the Mexican population doubled, from 48 million to 98 million. So on one side of the Rio Grande you had a lot of young poor people, and on the other, a lot of money and companies eager for cheap labor. And a muddy little creek like the Rio Grande wasn’t nearly wide enough to keep those two groups apart.

As the population of Mexico increased and the living standard rose, the fertility rate actually went into an amazing dive, to the point that the rate for Mexican women now is only 2.39 kids per woman, just two places up from Israel’s 2.38.

And the only thing that’s brought the Latino birthrate down -- in their home countries, not among the ones who immigrated to the U.S. -- is getting enough money that peasant families start thinking of themselves as consumers, and get more excited about buying a new truck or a flat-screen TV than having little Jos.

This is all pretty slow to unfold, compared to traditional military conquest. Birth rate takes decades to have an effect; the Albanian victory in Kosovo is the result of birth rates from the mid-20th century. And in some parts of the world, like the US and Europe, immigrants have a history of being absorbed by the locals rather than sticking to the old tribal hatreds in the style of the Balkans and the Middle East. It’s a cultural deal, after all, not racial. Studies of the U.S. Hispanic population show that within a generation or two, most American Hispanics are ranting about policing the borders and keeping those damn immigrants out of the country. What’s really weird -- and I can testify to this from my own experiences growing up -- is when the local culture infiltrates the immigrants, like the fact that Mexicans in the U.S. are deserting the Catholics and becoming born-again Protestants. Go to any of the younger, feister churchers in the U.S. like the Church of the Nazarene and you’ll see lots of Mexican families with plenty of kids, singing old Scottish hymns in Tex-Mex English. In fact, I ran into a really hilarious article by a U.S. Baptist writer who worried that the Baptist birthrate is going down while the Nazarenes are having babies at a rate of three-plus per woman. So the nightmare scenario that anti-immigrant bloggers are always predicting, where the U.S. turns into one giant Mexico, might end up being true in what you might call “racial” terms -- I mean, your second-grade class photo might be two-thirds Hispanic -- but those Hispanic faces would have absorbed a whole born-again American world picture that actually comes from the Scots-Irish who settled the American south hundreds of years ago.

This is one point where people’s anxiety over these slow, demographic conquests splits according to their real fears: do you just not want to see that kind of face when you go outside, or do you not want to import the culture of the immigrants’ home country? The whole debate right now is so censored, so totally dishonest on both sides, that nobody will come clean about which it is. I suspect for some people it’s the faces: they want the faces on their street to be the same shape and color they were when they were growing up. If that’s what you want, then no matter where you are, I can guarantee that if you’re rich enough to worry about things like this (as opposed to where your next meal’s coming from), then yup, you definitely have grounds for worry. People move around to where the food is, the money, the good grazing, the jobs. The Germanic tribes who moved in on Europe a couple millennia back took a more reasonable view; they called wars “the movements of the peoples.” The Huns push the Goths off the steppe, and boom! Next thing you know, the Goths are wiping out a Roman army at Adrianople.

The faces are going to change. We are in a new military-historical era, in which the only states with the sheer will to resist slow “conquest” by immigration were the Stalinist states. Of course they didn’t have much of a problem there anyway -- not too many immigrants trying to sneak into North Korea or the old USSR -- but even if they had faced real demographic challenge, they had the will to open fire. The Berlin Wall is a nasty case in point, where the will was used to stop people leaving.

But those Stalinist states are not exactly a growth industry these days, and no liberal democratic state has the will to shoot down unarmed people trying to get in (or out, for that matter). Even the Israelis, who are maybe the fiercest first-worlders on demographic issues, don’t shoot the poor Africans who cross to Beersheba for jobs in the cafes. They just send them back to Sudan to be shot there.

So the movement of the peoples, the slow demographic wars, are going to go on. We just don’t have a counter-move, except maybe bombarding poor people with money to stay home. Basically, no matter where you are, the complexions and the features you see on the streets are going to change. If it’s any consolation to face-fascists, Europeans got their licks in first, so to speak. Not many African-Americans around with pure African blood; not many Mexican Indians without some Spanish in them. So now the faces blend the other way.

For most people the real worry, if they were allowed to even say it out loud, is culture: if you’re French, you really don’t want Paris turning into Kinshasa, because let’s be honest, Kinshasa is a Hellhole. If you’re English, you don’t want London turning into Karachi, because Karachi is a nightmare. If you’re American, you don’t want Houston -- oh Hell, ever been to Houston? If you have half a brain, you don’t want Houston at all, the lousy sweatbox.

The thing is, most of the people who invaded from those places tend to agree with you. That’s why they moved in the first place. Nobody knows what a Hellhole the Congo is like a Congolese. I read somewhere that on the Congo riverboats, they have these slang terms for the different decks. The first-class deck they call “Europe.” The second-class deck is “China,” meaning not that great, but livable. The third-class deck is “Congo,” and nobody wants to be there, least of all the Congolese.

So to assess your situation in terms of the new conquests, you have to decide whether you’re in a Kosovo -- two tribes hating each other forever, turning out babies as weapons -- or that Congolese riverboat, where nobody wants it too “authentic” if they can help it. There’s a lot of blurring and overlap between those two models, sure. Take Northern Ireland: a lot of yelling, a lot of noisy tribal hate, but I just don’t think they have it in them to be another Kosovo. Too interested in TV and cars.

That’s what’s funny about the debate right now: the diehards in the U.S. and Europe wish we had the old ruthless will to seal the borders, but the “weakness” of the advanced countries generally works pretty well to turn the immigrants into immigrant-hating locals in a generation or two. The old model, bayonets on the border, isn’t even in the running. Time to face that fact. So the faces will change.

If you can handle these new faces, you’re likely to be surprised to see your “weak” American or European culture win out, slowly, un-gloriously but surely, and you may live long enough to see a whole new crop of pols who look like they just came from Karachi or Kinshasa until you turn the sound on and hear them ranting about how we need to get rid of all these damn immigrants.

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