A monograph recently published by the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College lays out in comprehensive detail the many obstacles that will confront coalition forces after presumed military victory in Iraq. Written by Conrad C. Crane, the director of the U.S. Army Military History Institute, and W. Andrew Terrill, the SSI's Middle East specialist, the report points out that U.S. forces will have to prevent Sunnis from fighting Shiites, secular Iraqis from fighting religious ones, returned Iraqi exiles from fighting non-exiles, Kurds from fighting Turkomans or establishing an independent state, tribes within all these groups from fighting one another, Turkey from invading from the north, Iran from invading from the east, and the defeated Iraqi army—which may be the only national institution that can keep the country from being ripped apart—from dissolving. All that (the easy part) is merely a prelude to the hard work of nation-building. Crane and Terrill also seek lessons from America's previous post-conflict occupation efforts. They explain, for example, what the de-Nazification of Germany can teach us as we attempt the de-Baathification of Iraq, and make plain the folly of analogies between the occupation of Iraq and the occupation of Japan. The report includes, as an appendix, a "mission matrix for Iraq": a list of 135 tasks that must be accomplished, including securing weapons of mass destruction, training a new Iraqi army, stabilizing the currency, training indigenous lawyers to work in new courts, and operating orphanages.
—"Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges, and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-Conflict Scenario," Strategic Studies Institute, Army War College
Iraq aside, what country poses the greatest threat to American national security? North Korea? Iran? Syria? According to a recent report by the Cato Institute, it's Pakistan, our "frontline ally" in the war on terror. Whereas no one has yet demonstrated compelling evidence of a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda, Pakistan is known to be al Qaeda's new command center. Whereas Iran has funded the terrorist group Hizbollah, Pakistan is home to al Qaeda's leadership, and a number of terrorist groups—such as Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and others—have "powerful links" to Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies. And whereas North Korea will soon have perhaps two nuclear missiles, Pakistan may already have nearly fifty, and the material necessary to build an arsenal of 100. (Pakistan is also known to have provided nuclear technology to North Korea, even after 9/11.) The Bush Administration has ignored all of this since Pakistan's leader, General Pervez Musharraf, has been cooperating in the war on terror. But Pakistani cooperation is less than complete: After 9/11 Pakistan failed to seal its border with Afghanistan, allowing many Taliban and al Qaeda leaders to escape U.S. forces. Worse, there have been reports that Pakistani officials have actively sought to mislead U.S. intelligence in order to protect al Qaeda operatives on Pakistani soil, and the government sent two Pakistani nuclear scientists to Myanmar after 9/11, evidently to avoid questioning by the CIA about nuclear information they may have given directly to Osama bin Laden. To make matters worse, Pakistan is not stable: Musharraf is seen by many Pakistanis as an American puppet, and any moment of weakness could leave him vulnerable to a coup by militant Islamic leaders. This could "instantly transfer control of Pakistan's nuclear assets to a new regime with unknown intentions."
—"Extremist, Nuclear Pakistan: An Emerging Threat?" Cato Institute
Since the second intifada began, in September of 2000, the Palestinian economy has lost $5.4 billion in gross income—the equivalent of the region's total income for all of 1999. In recent years the poverty rate among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza has increased from 25 to 60 percent, and the unemployment rate from 23 to 45 percent; employed Palestinians currently average eighteen nonworking dependents each. The Palestinian government is on the verge of financial collapse, and survives only on the strength of donations from abroad. The primary reason for these economic travails is "closure"—the Israeli policy, undertaken in response to ongoing Palestinian terrorist attacks, of restricting the movement (through border controls and curfews) of Palestinian goods and people across borders and within the West Bank and Gaza. Remarkably, according to a report from the World Bank, Palestinians have managed, by lending and sharing, to absorb "levels of unemployment that would have torn the social fabric of many other societies." But as both the World Bank report and a similar report from the United Nations make clear, if Israel and the Palestinians cannot soon reach an agreement that would lift the closures and curfews, the territories could decay beyond economic repair.
—"Two Years of Intifada, Closures and Palestinian Economic Crisis: An Assessment," World Bank —"The Impact of Closure and other Mobility Restrictions on Palestinian Productive Activities: A Summary," United Nations
In 2002 the U.S. armed forces discharged an average of three lesbian, gay, or bisexual service members every day—a number that will come as a surprise to many, and yet the lowest number of such discharges since 1996. According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network's ninth annual report on the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, a primary reason for the decline may be that the armed forces simply can't afford to shed valuable personnel during times of military conflict. (The Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the first Persian Gulf War all coincided with declines in discharges of homosexual personnel.) The report notes, however, that the ongoing war on terror and a looming war with Iraq did not stop the Army last year from discharging seven Arab linguists (although the General Accounting Office has deemed the military to be desperately short of such specialists) when they were discovered to be gay. And until last year, according to the report, the Air Force Reserves were still using a recruiting form that asked applicants, "Are you homosexual or bisexual?" and "Do you intend to engage in homosexual acts?"—clear violations of the don't-ask provision. The report also documents occasions on which military chaplains—whom the military designates (along with defense attorneys) as people homosexual service members can tell confidentially about their sexual orientation, and to whom they can report incidents of harassment—have "outed" service members nevertheless.
—"Conduct Unbecoming: The 9th Annual Report on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
On February 17, 2002, the federal Transportation Security Administration took charge of security at all 429 commercial airports in the country. Over the next thirteen months, according to a recent TSA report, airport screeners confiscated more than 4.8 million dangerous items at security checkpoints. A partial breakdown: 1.4 million knives, 2.4 million other sharp objects (such as scissors), 125,273 incendiary objects (such as butane lighters), 15,666 blunt objects (such as billy clubs, golf clubs, and hammers), and—astonishingly—39,842 box cutters (the type of weapon used by the 9/11 terrorists) and 1,101 guns. Some additional items confiscated by the TSA through February of this year: a fifteen-piece cutlery set; a machete; a trailer hitch; a kitchen sink pipe; a circular saw; and (numerous times, according to a TSA spokesman, Brian Turmail) sharp-edged metal wall hangings depicting Apollo, the Greek god of light, that could become hurled projectiles.
—"Air Travelers' Security Enhanced as TSA Intercepts Over 4.8 Million Prohibited Items," Transportation Security Administration
The NCAA men's basketball tournament reaches beyond sports fandom and deep into the American workplace through ubiquitous "March Madness" office pools, in which contestants try to predict which team will win each of the sixty-three games. According to a study conducted by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement company, if all 36.6 million Americans with a bachelor's degree (workers who have attended college being deemed more likely to follow college basketball) spend ten minutes each day talking about the pool during the fifteen-day tournament, the U.S. economy loses $1.4 billion. Meanwhile, the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, at the University of Central Florida, has released a report revealing the dismal graduation rates among students on the tournament basketball teams. For five of the 2003 tournament's final sixteen teams the rates were lower by 32 to 49 percent than the overall student-athlete graduation rates at their respective schools. Seven of the sixteen schools graduated fewer than 30 percent of their African-American basketball players. And thirteen schools among the original sixty-four in the tournament have not graduated a single African-American basketball player in six years. (The only school in the tournament with a 100 percent graduation rate among its basketball-playing students over the past six years is Stanford, although Butler University, in Indianapolis, has graduated 100 percent of its African-American players, and 86 percent of all its players, in that time.)
—"At Work, March Madness May Cost $1.4 Billion!" Challenger, Gray & Christmas
—"Keeping Score When It Counts: Graduation Rates for 2003 NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Championship," Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport
According to a survey of student attitudes by the Higher Education Research Institute, based at the University of California at Los Angeles, only 33 percent of college freshmen—a smaller share than ever before—report having done six or more hours of homework a week during their senior year in high school. And the percentage who said they studied less than one hour a week as seniors has doubled since the question was first asked, in 1987, to 16 percent. Yet the grades they bring to college have improved, evidently as a result of grade inflation. Whereas in 1968 only 17.6 percent of college freshmen reported having earned A averages in high school, today 44.1 percent do. The survey director, Linda Sax, a professor of education at UCLA, says that the decline in study time, at least, may be attributable to the hours students spend using the Internet. Time spent recreationally surfing the Web is clearly displacing time spent studying—but Sax says the Internet may also be helping students to do their homework more efficiently.
—"The American Freshman: National Norms for Fall 2002," Higher Education Research Institute