Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Leaving the Foreign Service

My Foreign Service career was not going well in Rome.  The embassy did not want me there.  There was a civil service employee in the State Department in Washington whom they wanted for the job.  I'm not sure why, but I think maybe the Ambassador or my predecessor who was forced to leave by the State Department, had picked him out.  The Ambassador wanted him and my boss the Economic Minister wanted to please the Ambassador by getting him.  Or maybe the Economic Minister was the one who wanted him. 

When the State Department told my predecessor in Rome that he had to leave because he had served the maximum eight years as a Schedule C political appointee, I think the Embassy tried to get the civil service employee to replace him, but the Foreign Service balked, because it was a Foreign Service job which should be filled by a Foreign Service officer.  Thus, I got a call in Warsaw from the State Department personnel office, asking if I would be willing to move to Rome and take the job. 

My job was not going well in Warsaw.  I had been assigned there primarily to oversee a joint science cooperation program, named after Madam Curie, the Maria Sklodowska Curie Fund.  The US and Poland had signed an agreement to fund the program for five years, starting the year before I arrived.  The first year it was funded with $2 million from each side, and received the same amount the second year, the first year I was in Poland.  Bill Clinton was President, but after the second year, the Republicans under Newt Gingrich took over Congress and refused to fund future years, despite the agreement between the US and Polish governments.  I still remember my last meeting with the Assistant Secretary of the Polish Foreign Ministry who was responsible for the entire Western Hemisphere, and who upbraided me as the representative of the United States for dishonestly failing to fulfill formal promises that we had made.  I was ashamed of my country and myself. 

In addition, one of my policy responsibilities in the Embassy was the environment.  As part of the USAID program to assist Poland after the fall of Communism, the US undertook a number of envonmental projects to help clean up Poland.  One was to build a scrubber on an old coal-fired plant generating electricity for the Krakow area.  The pollution had been so bad under the Communists that rain was turning into sulfuric acid and eating away some of the old statues and buildings in Krakow.  USAID had a big dedication for the scrubber when it was completed; it was supposed to remove most of the sulfur from the smokestack emissions.  After a while, one of my Polish contacts came to me and said the scrubber was not working.  I didn't really want to know that, because I did not want to interfere with the AID mission's programs, but I felt like I had to look into it.  When I did, it turned out that he was right.  The scrubber design worked fine in the United States with the limestone found in the US, but it did not work with Polish limestone, which was a poorer quality.  I would only work if limestone were imported from another country, which was logistically and financially impossible.  To make matters worse, my contact had me visit another power plant with a scrubber build by the Netherlands, but using General Electric technology.  It worked well. 

I was reaching the end of the second year of my two-year tour in Poland.  The Ambassador had said that since the cooperation program had been cancelled by Congress, the embassy did not need a science counselor; so, I would not be replaced, but I could stay on for the third year.  About that time, the personnel office in Washington called and asked if I would be willing to go to Rome.  That sounded like a great job, while the one in Poland was self-destructing; so, I said yes. 

Rome wanted me to come right away, but I had one good thing going in Warsaw.  As part of the US assistance program for Poland after the fall of Communism, we (my backstop in Washington and I) got the US Treasury to agree to forgive $10 million of US debt, if the Poles would agree to use it for environmental purposes.  I worked with a Polish NGO, the Ekofundusz (Ecofund), to get this money for them to use.  I wanted to attend the first meeting of the Ecofund after they got the money to make sure that everything was in order.  The reason they wanted me in Rome so quickly was that Italy was about the assume the rotating presidency of the European Union, with meant an increase in work for the embassy in Rome, because it had to deal with Italians on all EU matters as well as on all bilateral Italian matters, more or less doubling the workload.  It worked out that the annual meeting of the Ecofund was a week or two before Italy assumed the EU presidency, which gave me the opportunity to do both things. 

The Ecofund meeting went smoothly, but it turned out that day I was planning to leave for Rome was the day Newt Gingrich shut the government down.  All of our household effects had been packed; the car was packed with two dogs and suitcases for the drive to Rome ready to leave at 5:00, when Rome called and said, "Don't come."  It meant I had no job, no place to live, no idea what to do next.  It turned out that in Rome the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM, deputy to the Ambassador) was someone I knew from a previous assignment.  He said to go ahead an leave for Rome; he would work something out. 

When we arrived in Rome, everything was pretty much a mess, because the embassy was closed except for a skeleton staff.  I turned out that I was part of that skeleton staff, because that was the only way my travel had been approved.  Of course I knew nothing about the embassy or my new job.  To make matters worse, the Administrative Minister, the person responsible for running the day-to-day activities of the embassy, was a woman literally dying of cancer.  As she was a long time Foreign service officer, the State Department had agreed to let her stay in Rome as long as she could.  This meant, however, that she was hardly working and was very seldom in the embassy.  During the government shutdown, all of her assistants were working their little fiefdoms -- housing, personnel, finance, etc. -- but without supervision.  

The first sign, other than the government shutdown, that something was wrong, was that the embassy had no housing for my wife and me.  My predecessor had obviously lived somewhere, but the embassy would not tell me anything about it.  My impression was that because he had been a political appointee and a confidant of the Ambassador, he had had a much nicer apartment than he would have ordinarily received for his position, and they were not willing to let me have it.  There as a rumor that there was one empty apartment the day we arrived, but that it had been given to a DEA agent who had arrived a few hours earlier than we did.  I thought this was strange because the State Department runs the administration of the embassy, even for other agencies like DEA.  Thus, I thought normally State Department officers would have assigned the empty apartment to a fellow FSO and let the DEA wait for an apartment.  I was surprised to see the State Department give precedence to a DEA officer over a fellow State Department officer.  We ended up in a temporary apartment for months as the embassy said it could find nothing available for us on the Roman rental market. 

In addition, after my predecessor left, the office had been remodeled.  The embassy is an old palace where every room opens on to a central hall, but because of embassy security, some of the doors had to be locked.  As a result, there was no way to get to my assistant's office except by going through my office.  I suppose I could have switched offices with her, but it seemed silly and petty to do so.  Nevertheless, it bothered me that it looked like I was her receptionist when she had visitors. 

Just about the day I arrived, my office was being sued in New York by four environmental organizations for failing to force Italy to comply with UN resolutions regarding fishing for swordfish in the Mediterranean.  The Italians often used long driftnets which had been outlawed.  The environmental organizations won the case, with the result that a Federal District Judge in New York had ultimate responsibility for approving any actions taken by my office with regard to fisheries to assure that they complied with UN regulations.  In theory he would run every action by my office by the environmental organizations for their approval.  In practice this usually meant they would ask the Greenpeace office in Rome for its approval. 

Despite the fact that I had worked on scientific and environmental issues for years at the State Department, I had never worked on fisheries issues before.  Fisheries had its own bureaucracy, laws and regulations which were unfamiliar to me.  My assistant had worked on fisheries issues in previous jobs, and had been working on the issue since she had arrived in Rome.  I was happy to leave the issue to her, although it was a big part of the office's responsibilities. 

We had a big bilateral meeting in Rome with a delegation of 10 or 20 officers from Washington meeting in Rome with their Italian counterparts.  My assistant and her Italian counterpart worked out a plan, which was ratified by the meeting.  In a few months, however, the issue blew up again.  Most of the fishermen lived in Sicily and resented the new restrictions under which they were supposed to work.  They hired Mafia assassins who threatened to kill the Italian officials who were supposed to enforce the agreement, and they organized big protests in downtown Rome that tied up traffic for miles.  When this blew up, my assistant became very sick.  The Agriculture Minister called in the Ambassador because he was afraid some of his officials were going to be killed by the Mafia, and said we had to relax the restrictions.  My assistant could not brief the Ambassador or work on a solution, which fell to me.  The Ambassador was very unhappy about being called in by the Minister.  My main job was to tell the Ambassador that he could not agree to anything without first getting the approval of the judge in New York, which further angered him, since he felt that as the Ambassador he should have been able to speak for the US, which would have been true except for the lawsuit.  One of my last acts in Rome was to work out a compromise that was accepted, although I don't know long it lasted after I left.  I left with the Ambassador mad at me, although the fisheries problem had been going on for years before I arrived in Rome, and I had had no role in the lawsuit.  However, I had agreed to the original solution worked out at the big bilateral meeting after I arrived, which had led to the Mafia threats. 

While I was in Rome, the Italians flew a joint mission on the Space Shuttle to test a tethered satellite which was released on a wire from the Shuttle while it was in orbit and then was supposed to be reeled back in so that it could be used again.  While the satellite was deployed, the wire broke, and the satellite drifted off into space.  I had worked with NASA on space issues in other jobs before, and was much more familiar with these issues than fisheries.  In general NASA was a great selling point for the US.  Everybody loved NASA and the Shuttle and wanted to work with us.  Thus, this mission was unusual because it appeared to have failed, although part of the reason for it was to experiment with the method.  The Shuttle crew came to Rome to brief Italians scientists on the mission, but unlike most NASA visits, this one was sort of an apology tour.  It was awkward for me, the Shuttle crew, and my Italian contacts. 

In a different space matter, the US had agreed to launch a communications satellite for the Italians.  They had a big cocktail party timed to coincide with the launch.  At the party, one of the Italian telecommunications officials came up to me and said something like, "Your government must really hate me."  I was taken aback and asked him why he thought that.  He said that he had wanted to give his daughter a trip to Disney World, but that the US had denied her a visa to travel to the US.  I said I would look into it.  When I did, I found that the Italian communications ministry has some connection with the Cuban telecommunications ministry and because of that the Helms-Burton Act prohibited that official or any members of his family from traveling to the US. 

Sometime in the past, I had read Herman Wouk's "Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance."  In that story, the Jewish heroine who was living in Rome during World War II wanted to travel to Israel, but the Nazis in Rome would not give her child an exit visa, which effectively prevented her from leaving. I found the parallels uncomfortable and disturbing, but it was illegal to give the daughter a visa. 

As the science officer in Rome, I handled nuclear non-proliferation matters.  Thus, I was the responsible officer when the US was unable to meet its obligations to North Korea under the 1995 Agreed Framework that set up the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) to oversee North Korea's agreement to end its nuclear weapons program in return for two light water nuclear power reactors that would not produce bomb grade nuclear materials.  While I was in Rome, the Republican Congress refused to fund the US payments for its part of the agreement.  As a result, I had to go hat in hand to ask Italy, as the Presidency of the European Union, if it would fund the money the the US Congress refused to provide.  This was too much like my experience in Poland when the US Congress refused to fund the Maria Sklodowska Curie Fund despite a formal agreement to do so.  In addition , the failure to fund KEDO would give North Korea an excuse not to abide by the agreement and to revert to its production of nuclear weapons.  I was unhappy to once again be part of an American failure to meet its international commitments. 

I had joined the Foreign Service to see how the government worked.  After college, I had been drafted and sent to Vietnam, where I served in an artillery battery in the A Sau Valley, on the Laotian border, and on the DMZ.  I came home to be classified as a baby-killing war criminal, simply because I had not tried to get out of the draft.  I wanted to see what had plucked me out of my comfortable life and sent me into combat in Vietnam.  Once in the Foreign Service I wanted to do good -- be part of the solution and not part of the problem.  My last two assignments, in Warsaw and Rome, had not made me feel part of the solution.  So, I decided to retire, since I was eligible to do so. 

When I decided to retire and the embassy had to replace me, it became obvious that they did not want me to be replaced by a Foreign Service officer. The embassy had identified a Civil Service officer at the State Department whom it wanted in my job.  Apparently, the embassy had tried to get him to replace my predecessor, but the State Department had tried to keep the Foreign Service position filled by a Foreign Service officer.  That was why I had gotten that unexpected call in Warsaw asking if I would be willing to go to Rome.  The State Department was trying to force Rome to fill the position with a Foreign Service officer.  Apparently that was why Rome did not welcome me and resisted providing me with an apartment and in general making my assignment there difficult. 

The odd thing was that the person they wanted in my position worked in the State Department office that was supposed to support and backstop science officers in the field.  In my Washington assignment before Warsaw, I had worked on environmental issues in an office across the hall from his office.  It appeared that the office that was supposed to have my back had actually stabbed me in the back.  Because I was retiring outside of the normal summer assignment cycle the embassy was able to manipulate the system to get the man they wanted.  I was so disgusted with the whole system that I did not protest.  On the day before I was actually set to leave Rome and return home, the State Department retirement office informed me that they had miscalculated my retirement pension and that I would receive less than they had promised when I was negotiating my retirement.  That was like a last insult from an organization that for some reason seemed to have turned against me. 

Unfortunately, my service in the Army in Vietnam and my twenty-five years in the Foreign Service left a bad taste in my mouth about the integrity and decency of the United States government.  I felt that I had served my country patriotically but had been abused because of it.  I guess I think (to paraphrase Churchill) that the US is the worst of countries, except for all other countries.  I try to love it, but I look at it with a jaundiced eye. 

Separating Immigrant Mothers from Children

Letter sent to Congressman and Senators:

I am writing to alert you to an even bigger problem than the children of illegal immigrants who are being held in immigration child care facilities along the Mexican border.  This is the existence of a huge private child care industry spread across the entire United States, much like the narcotic drug industry. 

Every day, millions of mothers and fathers are separated from their children who are placed in day care facilities so that the parents can go to work instead of caring for their own children.  I have it on good authority that every day some of the children in these day care facilities cry and ask for their mommies and daddies.  Sadly, in many cases the children do not cry for their parents because they spend so little time with them that they don’t miss them. 

I hope that Congress will act to end this blight on American civilization.  You should make separating mothers from children at day care facilities a federal crime and station federal officers at the doors of these facilities to arrest the parents who attempt to drop off their children and thus separate them from their natural familial bonds.

Please let me know when you will introduce legislation to stop this horrendous crime that is being committed daily across this country. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Mexican Immigration and a Dominica Visa

All the hoorah about immigration on the Mexican border reminds me of an immigrant visa case I had as vice consul in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  A woman who was boon on the island of Dominca and who lived in Brazil was applying for an immigrant visa to join her mother who lived in the United States.  At this time, the 1970s, the US quota for immigrant visas for people born in Dominica was quite small, about 200, I think. 

This woman was on the list when she first applied; there were still available visa numbers.  However, she was slow in getting her visa application together, which involved taking a medical exam, proving that she could support herself in the US, so that she would not be a public charge, getting a labor certification proving that she would displace an American worker, and so on. 

When she finally got her application together, all the visa numbers for the Dominica quota had been used up, and she was no longer eligible for an immigrant visa.  She went into hysterics in my office.  She was crying, screaming, and trashing around.  I thought I was going to have to call the police to take her away.  After an hour or so of trying to calm her down, she finally left. 

Today, if she lived in Mexico or Central America, rather than Brazil, she could just walk into the United States, join her mother and go to work.  Whether she would receive welfare, take an American's job, or even go into the drug business, is irrelevant.  Public opinion just wants her to be happy.  So, the favored immigration policy seems to be "Don't worry, be happy!"  America is an open country.  Anybody who wants to can come.  If it turns out you are a murderer or a drug dealer, we can worry about that later. 

I don't buy it.  I think the US should and can choose who it wants to move to this country permanently.  We don't have to take everybody.  We can set limits and standards and enforce them.  I feel badly for the immigration officers who are charged with enforcing the existing laws.  The public portrays them as heartless villains for doing their jobs.  It reminds me of when I came home from the war in Vietnam and the general depiction of Vietnam veterans was as baby killers.  This is a country that vilifies public servants for doing their job. 

I support the enforcement of immigration laws, but I appear to be in the  minority.  If we want no immigration laws, repeal them all and abolish the Department of Homeland Security.  I have never like the name "Homeland" anyway; to me it has a Nazi connotation because of its similarity to "heimat" which Wikipedia says is equivalent to "Vaterland," the homeland of the German nation, people or tribe.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Trump's Foreign Policy

David Brooks NYT column, "Donald Trump Is Not Playing by Your Rules," is interesting, but gives Trump too much credit for thinking, or at least for having a basic idea that he is implementing.  It contrasts with Jeffrey Goldberg's article in the Atlantic, "A Senior White House Official Defines the Trump Doctrine: 'We're America, Bitch,'"  which says there is no underlying Trump foreign policy: America does whatever it wants.  Both analyses lead to the same conclusion: Trump doesn't care what the world thinks. 

I am disappointed that these are both Jews who are criticizing Trump for breaking with generations of foreign policy ideals, but I agree with them.  There is no excuse for Trump's attack on Justin Trudeau.  What Trudeau said after the G-7 summit ware not the "false statements" that Trump said it was.  Trudeau's saying that Canada will not be pushed around is not "dishonest and weak."  It's a simple statement of fact. 

Larry Kudlow made the argument that Trump needed to look strong before going into his meeting with Kim Jong Un, but as it turned out, he did not look strong when he met Kim, and didn't really get anything significant from the meeting with him.  The Iran deal Trump denigrates had much more substance and did much more to limit Iran's nuclear program than Trump's deal with Kim. 

I have tried to defend Trump, mainly because he represents white men who are increasingly being displaced by almost everyone else, blacks, women, Hispanics, but especially by Jews.  Brooks and Goldberg are representative of the Jewish intellectual establishment, Zuckerberg, Ellison, Bloomberg, and Adelson represent the Jewish financial and wealth establishment.  Schumer, Feinstein, Blumenthal, Schiff, and Polis represent the Jewish political establishment at the national level.  While there are still white men at the top of some of these lists -- Buffet and Bill Gates, McConnell and Ryan, they are getting older. 

Increasingly, though, I am displeased to have Trump as a leading example of white men in power.  I have looked the other way at many of the boorish things he has done, but I am getting tired of it -- his personal peccadillos and his professional faux pas.  His tweets are terrible, often mean and nasty with poor grammar.  The good side of his character is that he has the tough hide to take the criticism from the left.  I support him on immigration, for example, but so far he has done almost nothing on that issue.  He has tried, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as won most of the showdowns on immigration. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

NYT Article Inadvertently Confirms Trump's Claims

In the article "With 'Spygate,' Trump Shows How He Uses Conspiracy Thories to Erode Trust," the NYT actually strengthens Trump's claims and undermines its own credibility.  The article seems to emphasize the difference between a "spy" and an "informant."  To most people, including me, this is not an important distinction.  In fact most descriptions of Halper's activities by the liberal press (NYT), claim that he was investigating Russia's activities (spying on a foreign power), not the Trump campaign (informing on political activities).  Thus, from the liberal viewpoint there is more justification for calling him a spy that from the conservative viewpoint. 

So far, press reports have not made clear what Halper was doing.  There was a big meeting between the administration and Congressional representatives to discuss what he was doing.  The Democrats objected to Trump's lawyer's presence.  This objection seems inappropriate to me.  The Democrats seem to be arguing that Trump as a defendant against possible charges of treason has no right to hear the charges against him.  They seem to believe the prosecution process should be some kind of star chamber persecution process which blocks the participation of Trump's lawyers.  To me, this makes the liberal Democrats look more authoritarian than Trump.  They give credence to Trump's claim of a "witch hunt," just as the NYT article justifies his claims of a "spygate." 

If the liberals was to accuse Trump of bad conduct, they have to behave themselves better than he does.  Labeling this article "news analysis" does not prevent it from being pure tabloid mud-slinging that plays loose with the facts.  

Is Electing More Veterans the Solution?

This NYT op-ed by Allison Jaslow muddles the issue of veterans in politics.  After World War II being a veteran was a necessary, but not sufficient condition to being a politician.  You almost could not be a politician at any level -- local, state or national -- unless you were a veteran.  You just couldn't get elected.  But the fact that you were a veteran did not mean that you were a good politician or that you would get elected.  There were so many veterans after that war that there were many to choose from.  The percentage of veterans in Congress grew as veterans from Korea and Vietnam became politicians.  In the 1970s about 73% of the Congress were veterans.  In 1970 veterans made up almost 14% of the population.  Today veterans make up 20% of Congress and about 7% of the population. 

In addition, because of the draft, World War II veterans were a genuine cross section of America -- rich, poor, educated, uneducated.  Today, the rich and educated make up a very small proportion of the military.  Thus, there are fewer well qualified veterans to serve in political office.  Thus, if you simply increase the number of veterans in political office, you are likely to get more bad politicians.  Education and wealth are not necessary to be a good politician, but they help.  

Being a veteran should be a plus on a politician's resume, but there are other factors that may be more important, intelligence and character, for example.  Electing a stupid veteran over a wise non-veteran would be a poor choice. 

So, in essence I agree with the op-ed, but I think it grates on me as a Vietnam veteran. Vietnam veterans returned to such hatred and contempt from the population that did not serve, that I find it odd that now simply serving is somehow a wonderful thing that makes you a leader in the community.  Her column implies that today the populace belives that simply being a veteran is a sufficient condition to serve in high office.  It is not.  Today being a veteran is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition to serve in office, and it should not be. 

If in the future, we find the United States' continued existence threatened by war, then military service may again be a necessary condition.  Decent men should all rise to defend the country.  Today, however, the US does not face an existential military threat; so, service in not a necessary qualification for political leadership. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Card from the Bushes

The funeral for Barbara Bush reminded me of my one personal experience with the politeness and decency of the George H.W. Bushes.  I was deputy director of the State Department office dealing with "green" environmental issues -- animals, plants, and health -- while George H.W. Bush was President.  Somehow, I got word that President Bush wanted to encourage tree planting; one of Bush's personal secretaries in the White House asked me to take care of it. 

The difference between dealing with Bush's personal staff and the National Security Council was like night and day.  In my previous job working on missile proliferation, I had frequently dealt with the NSC, and I always had trouble with them.  They would never take my calls, would never keep me informed about where decisions stood, etc.  President Bush's personal secretary could not have been nicer. 

At their request, I drafted a cable to all the embassies in the world, asking them to do a public tree planting with an official of the host government, at the request of President Bush.  As usual, some embassies ignored it, but some took it to heart and the ambassador planted a tree with a high official of the host government, the foreign minister or the president.  President Bush was apparently pleased with the result, and I ended up getting a White House Christmas card, probably the lowest, most impersonal type, but still the only one I ever got. 

It was my personal experience with the decency and kindness of the Bush family.  I wish them the best.  I was particularly impressed with Barbara Bush's funeral service because of its upbeat tone, and lack of feeling sorry for themselves.  It was an example of the old British "stiff upper lip" that saw them through the Blitz and World War II.  The American news media today love weepy, sorrowful victims feeling sorry for themselves and sobbing on TV.  Cowardness sells ads, and then the anchors call it heroism, because they have no idea what true heroism is.  The Bushes know. Barbara taught them.  

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Foreign Affairs on the Death of Democracy

The new issue of Foreign Affairs magazine asks, "Is democracy dying?"  Editor Gideon Rose's introduction says,"As a Latin American friend put it ruefully, 'We’ve seen this movie before, just never in English.'”  What Rose fails to note is that English is less and less the language of political discourse in the United States, as Spanish displaces English throughout the country.  America is becoming a Latin American country (where authoritarian government is more common), rather than a Western European country founded by British colonists who rebelled against the authoritarianism of the British king. 

Analyzing whether the US is becoming more authoritarian is a legitimate topic, but it is clearly aimed at being critical of President Trump.  I haven't read all the articles, but I guess it is going to have a strong anti-Trump bias, perhaps deserved, perhaps not.  One of Trump's main issues has been immigration, but surprisingly much of the Mexican immigration is due to Republican President Reagan.  However, much of the recent immigration has been due to Democratic appeals to Latinos, such as DACA, more lenient enforcement of immigrtation laws, etc.

The bipartisan Latinization of the United States didn't really begin until the middle of the 20th century.  The most important impetus was Ronald Reagan's grant of amnesty to illegal aliens in 1986 to deal with a vastly increased immigration flow that had begun about 20 years earlier.  This law triggered a subsequent more massive influx of aliens hoping to benefit from the next amnesty. 

The following graph from the Migration Policy Institute show the dramatic increase in Mexican immigrants following Reagan's 1986 amnesty. 

According to that group:

In 2016, Mexicans accounted for approximately 26 percent of immigrants in the United States, making them by far the largest foreign-born group in the country….  The predominance of Latin American and Asian immigration in the late 20th and early 21st centuries starkly contrasts with the trend in the mid-1900s, when immigrants were largely European. In the 1960s no single country accounted for more than 15 percent of the total immigrant population. 

It's not clear how these statistics differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants.  There are a number of legal Mexican immigrants, and the number of illegals is difficult to measure because most of them are in hiding of some kind.  So, estimates of illegals are untrustworthy, but from looking through some internet data, it looks to me like there are more or less equal numbers of legal and illegal Mexican immigrants. 

I believe that the Foreign Affairs thesis about the death of democracy is largely the product of massive immigration that the changed the cultural climate of the United States.  This is no longer a Western or Northern European nation with a tradition of democratic institutions.  It has developed a culture that favors a caurdillo over a popularly elected president responsible to Congress and the people. 

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