The Day That Shook America – Introduction

J. Samuel Walker’s The Day That Shook America: A Concise History of 9/11, offers a long perspective and draws on recently opened records to provide an in-depth analysis of the approaches taken by the Clinton and Bush administrations toward terrorism in general and Al-Qaeda in particular. The book is a passion project for Sam and we are honored to offer the Introduction below.

INTRODUCTION

When Charles Falkenberg, his wife Leslie Whittington, and their daughters Zoe, age eight, and Dana, age three, boarded United Airlines Flight 77 on the morning of September 11, 2001, they were embarking on what promised to be a once-in-a-lifetime family adventure. Their flight from Dulles International Airport, which served Washington, DC, to Los Angeles was the first leg of a trip to Australia, where Whittington had been awarded a two-month fellowship at the Australian National University in Canberra. She was a professor and associate dean at Georgetown University in Washington and had played a key role in building the school’s public policy program. She was an economist whose research interests centered on the impact of tax policies on families. Leslie was a “fun person” with an easy laugh who was exceptionally warm and outgoing. She was a highly regarded teacher who, a former student recalled, “could find humor in economics—which can be rare.”

Charlie Falkenberg was a software engineer who designed programs for analyzing scientific data, especially on environmental issues. One of his projects was collaborating on a study of the long-term effects of the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill that occurred in Alaska in 1989. While in Alaska, he had developed a taste for sockeye salmon, which he enjoyed cooking for friends and neighbors at the family home in University Park, Maryland. Charlie was as outgoing as his wife and was well-known as an organizer of community events, including work parties that periodically cleaned up the creek that ran through the town.

Charlie and Leslie were devoted parents. Zoe’s third-grade teacher, Michele Rowland, remembered her as a “delightful child.” She was an excellent student who loved ballet and participating in school plays. She was highly competitive in the sense that she always wanted to do well. On one occasion, she fell from her scooter and broke her elbow. She had an important standardized test coming up, and as she was being wheeled into surgery, she yelled at her mother, “What am I going to do about taking [the test]?” Dana was a curly haired charmer who customarily wore a smile that filled her face. She liked to dress up in outfits that ranged from a tutu to a feather boa with large sunglasses. She especially enjoyed riding on her father’s shoulders to the nearby elementary school to meet Zoe at the end of the day. Charlie and Leslie stood out among parents as strong supporters of the school. They were active in the PTA, and Leslie often provided crayons, pencils, and other supplies for all the children in Zoe’s class. The entire family was eagerly looking forward to exploring Australia, and the girls were excited about the prospect of seeing kangaroos and koala bears.

Also boarding Flight 77 on the morning of September 11 were five Saudi nationals who were embarking on an adventure of their own that was emphatically sinister. They were operatives of the terrorist network called Al-Qaeda, led by an exiled Saudi living in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden. They intended to hijack the plane and smash it into the Pentagon building, just outside of Washington, as a way of expressing their hatred of the United States. Between 8:51 and 8:54 a.m., about a half hour after the plane took off, the men moved to carry out their plan. Brandishing knives and box cutters, they herded the flight attendants and passengers to the rear of the plane. They seized the cockpit and disabled—or, more likely—murdered the two pilots. One of the terrorists, Hani Hanjour, was a trained pilot, and he took over the controls. He turned the plane around from its westward course and headed east toward Washington. As he neared the Pentagon, he gunned the engines. At 9:38, the plane hit the ground floor of the west side of the building at a speed of about five hundred and thirty miles per hour. The impact of the crash killed everyone on board instantly and one hundred and twenty-five Pentagon workers.

In the wake of the disaster, a close friend of the Whittington-Falkenberg family, Patrice Pascual, lamented: “They were the kind of people who had no prejudices. That’s part of what makes this so horrible, because they spent their last minutes with people controlled by hatred.” Years later, Judy Feder, a colleague of Whittington at Georgetown, reflected on the fears that must have prevailed on Flight 77 and especially for Zoe and Dana Falkenberg. “I think from time to time—and then try not to think—what it must have been like to be on that plane,” she told a reporter. “I think about those intelligent and inquisitive little girls asking questions and how horrifying it must have been.” Recovery workers at the Pentagon never found Dana’s remains in a condition that could be “individually identified.” They recovered remains that were almost certainly those of Zoe, along with pajamas and a Barbie doll.

On the morning of September 11, I was on a research trip and, at least for a time, oblivious to the tragedies that were taking place at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York City. I was driving from Davidson, North Carolina, to Atlanta, Georgia, by way of Aiken, South Carolina. I planned to have lunch in Aiken with friends and talk about the subject of my research, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. As I drove through lightly populated areas of South Carolina, I found to my annoyance that there was nothing on the radio I liked. I turned it off and cruised in silence toward my destination. When I got bored enough, I decided to try the radio again in hopes of finding something interesting.

As soon as I turned on the radio, I knew from the tone of the announcer’s voice that something dreadful had happened. She was saying that President George W. Bush had been informed and had left the school he was visiting in Florida. Informed of what, I wondered? I soon found out when the station switched to reporters in New York who were describing the attacks on the World Trade Center. Information was sparse at that point, but it seemed clear that planes had deliberately smashed into the twin towers. As I tried to assimilate this story, the station switched to the news of the strike on the Pentagon. Within a short time, I listened with horror to the live account of the sudden collapse of the south tower. Beset with anxiety and incredulity, I tried to call my wife, who worked in downtown Washington, from a pay phone at a gas station (I had no cell phone). But phone lines were jammed and I could not get through.

There I was in the middle of nowhere, worried and helpless, with nothing to do but drive on. When I reached the home of my friends in Aiken, I was able to reach my wife. She had made it home safely, though her eight-mile trip had taken a very long time. She had talked with our children and other members of my family, and she could assure me that everyone was fine.

After lunch, I drove to Atlanta. I spent the evening watching news reports of the sorrowful events of September 11. The following day, I conducted research at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and then retreated to my hotel to catch up on the news. The television networks ran streamers that listed the names and hometowns of the victims of the terrorist attacks, and I was unpleasantly jolted to see that the list included a family from my hometown. I live in University Park, Maryland, and although I did not know Charlie Falkenberg, Leslie Whittington, or their girls personally, it was shocking and saddening to see their names. University Park is a small and close-knit community, and the deaths of neighbors who lived just two blocks away added a personal dimension to the melancholy story of 9/11.

At the time and in later years, I have been troubled by a number of questions about the disaster that occurred on “The Day That Shook America” (as the cover of People magazine labeled it). What were the purposes of the attacks? Why did US intelligence agencies and the Defense Department, with annual budgets in the hundreds of billions of dollars, fail to protect the country from a small band of terrorists who managed to hijack four airliners and take the lives of thousands of American citizens? What did responsible government agencies and officials know about Al-Qaeda and why did they not do more to head off the threat it posed? What were US policies toward terrorism, especially under Presidents Bill Clinton and Bush, and why did they fall so far short of defending against a series of attacks? Was the tragedy of 9/11 preventable? And what was the long-term impact of the strike against America on that terrible day? Those are the most important questions that this book tries to answer.

J. Samuel Walker is a professional historian and the author of, among other titles, Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective; Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs against Japan; Most of 14th Street Is Gone: The Washington, DC Riots of 1968; and The Road to Yucca Mountain: The Development of Radioactive Waste Policy in the United States. He lives in the Washington, DC, area.

In a New York Minute: The Rise of Kathy Hochul, the First Female Governor of New York

by Kaitlin Sidorsky, author of All Roads Lead to Power: The Appointed and Elected Paths to Public Office for US Women

Governor Kathy Hochul was sworn in as the fifty-seventh governor of New York State, following in the footsteps of Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Nelson Rockefeller. In fact, Governor Hochul follows an unbroken line of men: she is the first female governor in New York State’s history, joining thirty other states who have had a woman in the governor’s mansion. California, Florida, and Pennsylvania are among the nineteen states who have never elected a woman as governor, over one hundred years after women were given the right to vote. Like many female politicians, Governor Hochul has an impressive political résumé. Hochul began her political career on the Hamburg Town Board, then rose from the county clerkship of Erie County to become a member of the US House of Representatives, and, most recent, lieutenant governor of New York.

Hochul’s progression to governor following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation is significant because her highly visible position in New York State government provides opportunities for a different governing style and a focus on new issues; she also becomes a more noticeable role model to inspire young girls and women, who may now consider politics a viable career. Governor Hochul has already signaled that she plans on governing differently than her predecessor, particularly by making sure that women feel safe in her administration. In fact, Hochul’s formal ceremony welcoming her as the new governor was full of symbolism accentuating the historic moment of her ascension to the highest office in the state. As the New York Times reported, “In honor of the women’s suffrage movement, Ms. Hochul wore an all-white dress, as did her daughter, Katie, and her daughter-in-law. Judge DiFiore donned robes worn by the first woman to serve as a judge on the state Court of Appeals, Judith Kaye, Ms. Hochul noted. And the governor called on female reporters to ask the first three questions at the news conference.”

Hochul enters the governor’s office under challenging circumstances. A global pandemic rages, polarization runs rampant, and she is the head of a challenging, even combative, state government apparatus. This workplace friction is the antithesis of what we know of female officeholders, many of whom are more cooperative and compassionate than their male counterparts. Currently, all three of the top elected positions of New York State government are held by women (Hochul as governor, Andrea Stewart Cousins as acting lieutenant governor, and Tish James as attorney general), an incredibly rare circumstance in American government. Below I outline what we might expect from female leadership in the executive branch at the state level.

Although research is limited on the effect of gender vis-à-vis governing styles, we do know of a few differences between male and female legislators that may be relevant for female governors and state executives. Female legislators are typically more liberal than their male counterparts and focus more on “female” issues like education, welfare, and health care (Barrett 1995; Burrell 1997; Diamond 1977; Reingold 2000). One study (Heidbreder and Scheurer 2013) had similar conclusions for female governors between 2006 and 2008. In some ways this may be unavoidable for Hochul as she addresses the pandemic and its effects on the education system and welfare programs. The question becomes whether Hochul and her female counterparts respond differently than male governors to similar challenges across the fifty states.

When it comes to how gender may influence governors, we know that female governors are more likely to appoint women than male governors, which is important to understanding how women serve beyond elected office (Riccucci and Saidel 2001; Sidorsky 2019). In my 2019 book with Kansas, All Roads Lead to Power, I demonstrate the incredibly important role state-level appointees play in state government. This understudied population provides a wealth of services to a state, with more than a third of appointees having held some kind of public office prior to their current position. Hochul has already committed to appointing more women to high-profile positions, which may be key to helping her change the culture of New York State government.

One of the most positive effects of Hochul’s presence will be to promote politics as a career path for women. A few studies have been conducted asking whether a woman in political office becomes a role model for young girls and women. In one of the first studies on the role-model effect, David Campbell and Christina Wolbrecht found that visible and viable female candidates for high-level office result in more young girls wanting to be politically active (2006). Research from 2018 also showed that the presence of a woman as governor increases the numbers of women who run for the state legislature (Ladam, Harden, and Windett 2018), although this may only be true for the Democratic Party (Manento and Schenk 2021). In All Roads Lead to Power I find a deep-seated distaste for elected office among female appointees across all twenty states surveyed. The presence of a highly visible and successful woman in elected office may be needed to prove to women that government is a place where they can be successful.

New York State could definitely use more women in public office. Ranked sixteenth in the nation for women’s representation in the state legislature, the state is far from gender parity, with only 34.3 percent of legislators being women (Center for American Women and Politics 2021). Representation is even worse at the local level: women hold 28.6 percent of municipal positions in New York. Governor Hochul’s presence will not automatically fix the gender parity issue in New York, nor will it provide the changes needed in the government’s culture. However, her rise to governor is an important step in the fight for gender parity. Only future research on her tenure as governor can tell us whether her gender identity influenced her leadership style and legacy as the first female governor of New York State.

References and Recommendations for Further Reading

Barrett, Edith J. 1995. “The Policy Priorities of African American Women in State Legislatures.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 20, no. 2 (May): 223–247.

Burrell, Barbara 1997. “The Political Leadership of Women and Public Policymaking.” Policy Studies Journal 25 (4): 565–568.

Campbell, David E., and Christina Wolbrecht. 2006. “See Jane Run: Women Politicians as Role Models for Adolescents.” Journal of Politics 68, no. 2 (May): 233–247.

Diamond, Irene. 1977. Sex Roles in the State House. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Dickes, Lori A., and Elizabeth Crouch. 2015. “Policy Effectiveness of U.S. Governors: The Role of Gender and Changing Institutional Powers.” Women’s Studies International Forum 53 (November–December): 90–98.

Heidbreder, Brianne, and Katherine F. Scheurer. 2013. “Gender and the Gubernatorial Agenda.” State and Local Government Review 45, no. 1 (March): 3–13.

Ladam, Christina, Jeffrey J. Harden, and Jason H. Windett. 2018. “Prominent Role Models: High‐Profile Female Politicians and the Emergence of Women as Candidates for Public Office.” American Journal of Political Science 62, no. 2 (April): 369–381.

Manento, Cory, and Marie Schenk. 2021. “Role Models or Partisan Models? The Effect of Prominent Women Officeholders.” State Politics & Policy Quarterly 21, no. 3 (September): 221–242.

Reingold, Beth. 2000. Representing Women: Sex, Gender, and Legislative Behavior in Arizona and California. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Riccucci, Norma M., Judith R. Saidel. 2001. “The Demographics of Gubernatorial Appointees:

Toward an Explanation of Variation.” Policy Studies Journal 29 (1): 11–22.

Sidorsky, Kaitlin, 2019. All Roads Lead to Power: The Appointed and Elected Paths to Public Office for US Women. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

Kaitlin Sidorsky is assistant professor of politics at Coastal Carolina University, Conway, South Carolina. Her work has appeared in Political Research Quarterly.

George W. Bush: Public Defender

John Robert Greene, author of The Presidency of George W. Bush.

Until recently there has been an unwritten arrangement among the members of “The Club”—that exclusive group of, to this point, men who have served as president of the United States. That agreement, based on a fundamental understanding of the weight and responsibilities of the job, has kept a former president from criticizing any of his predecessors too openly or too sharply. Having walked a mile in his predecessor’s shoes, a former president agreed to be rarely seen—except when replenishing his coffers on the speaking circuit—and even more rarely heard in public. The Club’s tacit gag order does not extend to the rough and tumble of a presidential campaign—in the modern period, Harry Truman openly campaigned against Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956; Gerald R. Ford against Jimmy Carter in 1980; and George H. W. Bush against Bill Clinton in 1996 and Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012. Rather, it extends to that period when a predecessor was actually in office and affecting decision-making. The vast majority of our former presidents have honored that compact, allowing their successors to govern without having to endure much sniping from those who had done the job before. There were exceptions, of course, the most glaring being Herbert Hoover, who began his public criticism of the New Deal within days of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s March 1933 inauguration and continued without letup to criticize FDR and his policies for the entirety of his administration. The second exception was George W. Bush, the subject of my new book for the University Press of Kansas, to be released in the fall of this year.

Initially, Bush did not deviate from the expectations of postpresidential decorum. With but a few exceptions, Bush kept his distance from the Obama administration, choosing not to criticize his successor or his administration in public. Instead, Bush took a more solitary road. He moved to a $3 million home in a Dallas suburb and worked on the building of the George W. Bush Presidential Center (which opened to researchers on May 1, 2013). He also stretched his wings as a writer, penning a second volume of memoirs, Decision Points, in 2010 as well as a biography of his father in 2014. Bush then combined his interest in writing with a newfound retirement hobby—portrait painting—and in 2017 he released Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors, a collection of portraits of veterans of the War on Terror. Bush was also ubiquitous on the speaking circuit—between January 2009 and June 2015, he made at least 200 paid speeches, earning between $100,000 and $175,000 per appearance. But most of these speeches were delivered in private—conventions, meetings of businesses and organizations, and the like. One would be hard-pressed to find a public statement of opposition to Obama administration made during his presidency. Indeed, the two men became unexpectedly close, with Bush going out of his way to applaud Obama in the White House on May 31, 2012, when he and his wife, Laura, unveiled their official portraits; for his part, Obama used that occasion to be effusive in his praise of both his predecessor and his wife.

That would all change with Donald Trump, beginning with the 2016 primaries. In an effort to establish himself as the scion of the isolationists, Trump used Bush and his administration as a punching bag, blaming Bush for the attacks of September 11, 2001 (during a February debate: “The World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush. He kept us safe? That’s not safe.”) That, combined with many personal attacks on Jeb Bush, the former president’s brother and Trump’s opponent in the primaries (calling him “Low Energy Jeb”) earned for Trump the contempt of the forty-third president. Bush appeared with his brother in South Carolina in an attempt to save his campaign, but to no avail. In the fall campaign, as Trump was buffeted with charges of personal malfeasance, Bush chose to sit it out, perhaps assuming as he had in 2008 that Hillary Clinton would, as virtually every pollster predicted, emerge victorious. When she did not (according to one biographer, the senior Bush voted for Clinton, and the younger Bush voted for “None of the Above”), Bush dutifully attended Trump’s 2021 inauguration. But when Trump’s inflammatory inaugural address was concluded, Bush turned to the Clintons and said in a stage whisper, “That was some weird shit.”

It took Bush about a year and a half to publicly speak out against President Trump. But when he did, he became not only the first former president in almost twenty years to publicly criticize both his predecessor and his policies (making him the first president in modern memory to break the rules of “The Club”) but also the first former president in our history to speak out against a successor of his own party. There can be no doubt that this was personal. On October 19, 2017, Bush spoke at a conference sponsored jointly by the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Freedom House. Without mentioning Trump by name, Bush denounced the “casual cruelty” of modern political dialogue and spared few words in showing his contempt for his predecessor: “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry and compromises the moral education of children.” But Bush’s criticism was also highly political, as he once again showed the pains that he went throughout his entire career to navigate the ever-widening gap between the moderate wing of his party (as evidenced by the policies of his father) and the GOP’s conservative wing. This led him to single out a Trump administration policy that troubled both moderates and conservatives alike—the administration’s intolerant xenophobia. Also at the above-mentioned conference: “We’ve seen sensationalism distorted with nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade, forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism. We’ve seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places.” For his part, Trump gave as good as he got. On April 13, 2018, he pardoned I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a key advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney who had been found guilty of lying to federal investigators and obstructing justice in connection with the Plame-Wilson affair. Cheney had lobbied Bush hard for a pardon of Libby, but Bush refused. As a result, Trump’s pardon of Libby was widely seen as just one more slap at Bush’s face.

But Bush was not done. In an April 28, 2020, interview for CBS News, Bush told Norah O’Donnell that “I think it’s undignified to want to see my name in print all the time” and that “to me, humility shows an understanding of self.” Less than a week later, in a recorded message, Bush called for national unity during the COVID-19 surge (“We are not partisan combatants . . . we’re human beings”). An obviously irritated Trump responded, as was his wont, with a tweet: “Oh, bye [sic] the way, I appreciated the message from former President Bush, but where was he during impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside. He was nowhere to be found ir [sic] speaking up against the greatest hoax in American history.” Bush would later tell an interviewer that in November 2020, he went to the polls and wrote in the name of Condoleezza Rice, his former national security advisor and secretary of state, as his choice for president.

The Bush-Trump feud did not end with Trump leaving office. On April 20, 2021, while promoting his new book Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants on NBC’s Today Show, Bush returned to his earlier criticism, describing the condition of his party as left by Trump as “isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent, nativist.” While he did not mention Trump by name, Bush said that the January 6, 2021, insurrection against the US Capitol “made me sick” and was a “terrible moment in our history.” When asked specifically if Trump was to blame for the riot, Bush claimed that “I’m not going to cast blame” but then went on to say that “It’s an easy issue to frighten some of the electorate. And I’m trying to have a different voice.” For some in the Republican Party, Bush’s criticism was too little, too late. His description of his party as “nativist” brought a tweeted response from Joe Walsh, a former member of the House from Illinois and frequent Trump critic: “What the f— [sic] George W. Bush? Like Boehner, you come out NOW and speak out against Trumpism? NOW? So many of us former Republicans lost everything publicly opposing Trump these past few years, yet you said and did nothing. And NOW you speak?”

But Trump is not Bush’s only presidential target. Where Bush largely gave Barack Obama a free pass, not so President Joe Biden. Indeed, Biden’s announcement that he was going to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan, a withdrawal that was set to be completed on September 11, 2021, drew Bush’s immediate ire. On July 14, 2021, in an interview with Germany’s Deutsche Welle News, Bush called the withdrawal a “mistake.” He argued that the withdrawal would endanger countless civilians, noting that “Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm” and that they and others were “just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people, and it breaks my heart.” Bush was immediately criticized by those who believed that the policies of his administration were responsible for the disasters in Afghanistan and Iraq in the first place, and that Bush should not be criticizing any decision that would end what had become America’s longest war in Afghanistan. On Al Jazeera, Andrew Mitrovica pulled no punches: “Bush is a mass murderer. He should be sharing a bunk bed with Ratko Mladić at The Hague, not giving interviews on Afghanistan in Maine.”

All this brings one of my basic conclusions in The Presidency of George W. Bush into high relief: that some twelve years after the end of the Bush presidency, we continue to live in a world made by George W. Bush. When it comes to the personality of Donald Trump, as well as the policies of both the Trump administration and the Biden administration, Bush doesn’t seem to like the politics of that world very much. Indeed, his criticism of both Trump and Biden is sharper and more public than has been the criticism dished out by any other former president (save Hoover) on any other president. Bush has become his administration’s own public defender. But in so doing, he has run afoul not only of the opposition Democrats but also another opposition party—the Trump wing of his own Republican Party. Whether Bush’s attempt to defend the policies of his administration from assaults by both these opponents will be successful remains to be seen, as the nation gears itself up for the 2024 presidential election.

 

John Robert Greene is the Paul J. Schupf Professor of History and Humanities, Cazenovia College, and the author of I Like Ike: The Presidential Election of 1952; The Presidency of George H. W. Bush, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded; Betty Ford: Candor and Courage in the White House; and The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford, all from Kansas.

 

The All-Too-Predictable Afghanistan Outcome

by Paul Darling, author of Taliban Safari; One Day in the Surkhagan Valley

The meteoric collapse of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is cause for even the most pessimistic observers of Afghanistan to reflect upon the myriad of failures of NATO, and the United States in particular, that led to the disaster unfolding largely silently today. The media, shameless in their breathless and unending coverage of the Fall of Saigon nearly fifty years ago, are unsurprisingly restrained in their coverage today. Some networks have eschewed any coverage at all. The military leadership, too, sees no reason to discuss the current happenings as they are just as culpable, if not more so, than the political leadership. Indeed, Afghanistan, while unquestionably a massive failure at every level, has been of great benefit to those responsible for its lack of success.

In the course of two decades, captains have become colonels, colonels have become generals, and generals have become pundits, political players and board members of very successful defense contractors. One would have to search most diligently, and entirely in vain, to find a single military leader held accountable for their failure to win our nation’s longest war against our least capable foe. Yet we still must listen to their musings on how they will defeat China.

As a mere tactical player in yet another chapter of the great game played in the mountains and deserts in and around the Hindu Kush, I can state unequivocally that our tactical supremacy was unquestioned. The Taliban could never stand and fight and they rarely tried. But, as Sun Tzu so cleverly observed, tactics without strategy are simply the noise before defeat. So the question must be asked: Did we lack strategy or did we have the wrong one?

To fast forward a few thousand years, we must crawl into the depths of Clausewitz to tear apart the answer to that question. War is policy by other means. And strategy is the designs by which conflict (in this case, primarily armed conflict) enact that policy. If our policy was the defeat of the Taliban as a challenge to the Islamic Government of Afghanistan, then our strategy of building schools for girls, unquestionable support for corrupt governments in Kabul, and the forced multiculturalism in the heart of the Pashtun part of Afghanistan was the wrong strategy. It appears our concept of operations was to make Afghanistan an experimental playground for social engineers to create a model of Afghanistan based upon lofty ideals hatched in the halls of western universities rather than the dusty realities to be found in the obviously untraveled expanses outside Kabul.

We clung to Kilcullen’s myopically contrived theories with simplistic slogans like “hearts and minds,” thinking that the key to defeating the Taliban was ignoring them. Like a cargo cult, we created an Afghan army that had all the trappings of an effective fighting force save for the actual fighting. We gave them the planes, guns, helicopters, and armored vehicles that they quickly abandoned to an enemy equipped with seventy-year-old guns and one-dollar plastic shoes from China. And that is even with a 5–1 numerical advantage and supposedly fighting in the defense.

All insurgencies, inherent in their military weakness, hinge upon one inviolate requirement: a refuge. Mao spoke of the insurgent “swimming among the people like fish in the water.” For Mao, the population was his refuge. The Taliban had no need for such quaint slogans or ethereal concepts. Pakistan has stood for twenty years untouched as the requisite refuge for the Taliban. And we did nothing.

The idea that Pakistan was ever an ally or even a disinterested party is, in retrospect, an absolutely failed concept. We have fought a twenty-year war against Pakistan and paid them handsomely to do so. The inability or unwillingness of our political and senior military leaders to address this fact is a failure bordering on treason.

At this point, it should be intuitive to even the casual observer that what we are witnessing now is a Pakistan-led invasion of Afghanistan by not even proxy forces, but rather mercenary forces. Pakistan is paying the Taliban to fight. And fight they are. This is why the ANSF is crumbling across Afghanistan, and not only in Pashtun areas. The Taliban is the true multicultural army in Afghanistan; Tajiks and Pashtuns (with Uzbeks and Turkmen along for the ride) united by the understandable desire for money and future control of the various provinces.

But Pakistan was not alone in this venture to humiliate America. China has largely subsidized the substantial costs involved in defeating NATO and ISAF. Pakistan (who gave their geo-political ally a complete F-16 Fighting Falcon many years ago) and China are united in many factors. Primarily their distrust of India. Theirs is a natural partnership. The cold war dynamics of Pakistan allying with America to counter a then pro-Soviet India has been dead for thirty years. Tragically, the octogenarian “experts” who continue to opine on such subjects (Kissenger being foremost among these) live on along with their long-expired opinions masquerading as policies.

This may be but one of the whys. I believe it to be the primary one, but another lurks and must be addressed for it will be the point of our next inevitable policy failure. Pakistan is a nuclear state. While our unwillingness to address Pakistan’s aid in killing Americans may simply have been abject stupidity on the part of our diplomatic and political elites, it may well have been a fear that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal might slip into the hands of the various Islamic terrorist organizations Pakistan (and its allies across the Persian Gulf) still openly supports. This is not an insignificant fear. However, if the possession of nuclear arms gives any nation so endowed the free rein to kill Americans, the current administration’s apparent desire to bequeath this capability to Iran (much as Obama’s administration wished to do) must be viewed as absolutely insane. Even if Pakistan’s carte blanche was not hinged upon their possession of atomic weapons, Iran will most certainly assume that it was. So not only are we apparently giving Iran a nuclear weapons capability, we are also, through our humiliating failure in Afghanistan, giving Iran the apparent green light to make good on their weekly prayer of “Death to America.”

Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Our efforts in Afghanistan are moving quickly to an ignoble historical fact. Will our self-anointed “elites” learn from this oh-so-near history? I fear not.

Paul Darling, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (retired), lives in Kansas City, Missouri and is both father and son of combat veterans. His writing has been published in various venues including Defense News, Proceedings, Military Review, Armed Forces Journal, and Air and Space Power Journal.

Still Fighting about Birthright Citizenship

by Carol Nackenoff & Julie Novkov, authors of American by Birth; Wong Kim Ark and the Battle for Citizenship

What is the importance of the Tenth Circuit’s June 15, 2021 decision in Fitisemanu v. United States, that American Samoans, who are residents of an “unincorporated territory” of the US, are not entitled to US citizenship? Is Fitisemanu the opening salvo in a broader attempt to get federal courts to revisit the issue of birthright citizenship that the Supreme Court appeared to settle in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898), and about which we have recently written in the University Press of Kansas’s (June 2021) American by Birth: Wong Kim Ark and the Battle for Citizenship?

Judge Lucero’s majority opinion in Fitisemanu (20-4017) held that the issue raised by the American Samoan individuals seeking citizenship was not resolved by the citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which dictates that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” The Circuit Court’s majority opinion reversed a 2019 decision by the District Court of Utah that had been stayed pending the appeal. Judge Lucero held that Congress had the authority to determine the status of individuals born in territories acquired by the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, as it had when it granted most Hawaiians (not ethnic Chinese) US citizenship, or Puerto Ricans citizenship (and later, birthright citizenship). Congress had considered granting American Samoans US citizenship in the 1930s but had declined to do so—the measure to grant them citizenship passed the Senate but failed in the House. These Pacific Islanders are considered “non-citizen nationals,” and as such, they can live and work, but not vote, in the United States.

The lower court’s ruling, which granted birthright citizenship to individuals born in US territories, was based upon the Fourteenth Amendment. The District Court opinion identified Wong Kim Ark as the binding precedent. The opinion accepted the plaintiff’s argument that they were born “within” the United States and thus entitled to citizenship; the Tenth Circuit’s position was that the Constitution (and the Fourteenth Amendment) did not necessarily “follow the flag,” relying on the Insular Cases (1901). The University Press of Kansas has published an excellent treatment of the Supreme Court’s decisions surrounding rights of residents of territories acquired by the US in the Spanish-American War in Bartholomew H. Sparrow’s The Insular Cases and the Emergence of American Empire.

While the case itself deals with a small number of individuals in unusual circumstances, its implications are broader. Recent efforts by the Trump administration and immigration restriction advocates to limit birthright citizenship, especially for children born in the United States to undocumented residents, loom in the background. Through administrative action, the Trump administration tried to restrict “birth tourism,” the organized and lucrative practice of arranging visits that included shopping and trips to Disneyland for pregnant women so that they could give birth in the United States, conferring US citizenship on their newborns. Building a wall served as a symbol of the resolve to deter would-be US entrants from crossing the border, and the Trump administration’s decision to separate children and parents who did manage to cross the border was designed as another deterrent. But the executive branch is limited in what it can do to end birthright citizenship—for now.

Congress, as the Circuit Court majority in Fitisemanu pointed out, also has some authority over citizenship, especially for those born outside the territorial boundaries of the United States to non-citizen parents. Congress may decide who can naturalize and exercised this authority to deny this opportunity to the Chinese in America from 1882 until 1943. Some have argued that Congress should thus be able to give or withhold its consent to the incorporation of a group as citizens (see Elk v. Wilkins, a 1884 case involving Native Americans that states “no one can become a citizen of a nation without its consent,” the General Allotment Act of 1887, and the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924). This position has been staked out by Peter Schuck and Rogers Smith in their 1985 book, Citizenship without Consent, and a subsequent article, where they claim that since illegal aliens were not a recognizable category at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, and since we cannot completely recover the intent of the framers of the Constitution or of the Fourteenth Amendment on this matter, the decision should be left to the people’s elected representatives in Congress. They reason that, in a liberal polity, the people ought to be allowed to give or withhold consent to membership, and Congress is the appropriate institution to make these determinations.

Drawing an analogy between the processes by which Native Americans were made citizens (including the nation’s consent statement in Elk v. Wilkins) and the situation for those born in the United States to non-citizen parents is faulty for a couple of reasons, however. First, Native Americans born into a tribe were, since the time of Chief Justice John Marshall, considered as members of distinct political communities and members of domestic dependent nations. In the reasoning of nineteenth-century jurists, they were in a state of pupilage, and it required action by the United States to change that status. The lands on which tribal Indians lived were not simply part of the United States and moving to an individual homestead away from the tribe did not erase tribal membership (although the General Allotment Act, passed in part to remedy that situation, did envision citizenship for those Native Americans who took up individual land allotments and lived and worked on them). These points surely could not be made with regard to the sons and daughters of English, Swedish, or even Irish, Italian, and other immigrants who came to the United States in the nineteenth century and whose offspring, born on US soil, had long been considered birthright citizens, whether or not the parents naturalized. Congress did not find it necessary to make the American-born sons and daughters of Caucasian or white immigrants citizens by birth (although an act of Congress at one time denationalized white women who married foreign men, rendering some of them stateless). English common law—recognized in early US court cases—and precedent made them birthright citizens.

Second, it is important to note that Justice Gray, who wrote the majority opinion in Elk v. Wilkins that granted Congress the power to determine Native American citizenship, also wrote the majority opinion in Wong Kim Ark. As Gray, an acknowledged expert on the law of sovereignty explained, the fundamental principle of the common law with regard to English nationality was “birth within the allegiance . . . of the King.” He noted that this principle had been followed almost without exception by courts when dealing with controversies in the colonies and the United States, even before passage of the Fourteenth Amendment. And while all conceded that the purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to extend citizenship to formerly enslaved Black people and their heirs, Justice Gray’s opinion pointed out that the language was “general, not to say universal, restricted by place and jurisdiction and not by color or race.” The purpose of the text of the citizenship clause, he argued, was to carve out some very narrow exceptions to the general principle of extending jus soli citizenship (citizenship derived from birthplace)—exceptions chiefly relating to children of foreign ambassadors, children of military enemies, and children born at sea. Others born here were subject to the jurisdiction of the United States in the ordinary sense of being under obligation to obey US laws. And in the years after the decision, despite increasing concern about the new legal category of illegal immigration, Congress never passed any laws purporting to limit citizenship only to the descendants of legal US residents.

The federal courts have been key players in battles over citizenship. Following United States v. Wong Kim Ark, the Supreme Court upheld the principle of birthright citizenship twice again by the mid-twentieth century. Would a now-conservative Supreme Court overturn this decision? We think it highly unlikely. It is possible, however, that the current Court would consider an argument, if a case were presented, that Wong Kim Ark, whose parents were living and working in the US with permission, did not raise or cover the case of those whose parents were living here illegally.

In American by Birth, we examine the history of birthright citizenship in the United States. The book explains how the Fourteenth Amendment was read to codify that history, extending the principle of citizenship by birth in a nation’s territory even to the American-born sons and daughters of Chinese immigrants who were so vilified that the parents were barred from naturalization in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. After being rebuffed in the federal court system, nativists and immigration restrictionists turned to other routes to keep undesirables from entry and subsequent citizenship. The Asiatic Barred Zones Act (1917) and the quota system adopted in immigration restriction measures in 1921 and 1924 were noteworthy; during the Depression, efforts also included ‘encouraging’ the out-migration of Mexicans (a not insignificant portion of whom were born here) who were seen as drains on public resources. The rigid application of the quota system was also an important factor behind US inaction in the face of the humanitarian refugee crisis during the Holocaust. The desire to keep America white strongly influenced how territorial acquisitions were treated. With a noteworthy increase in immigration from Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean beginning around the 1970s, interest in policing the Southern border and in revisiting birthright citizenship increased. American by Birth brings the examination of birthright citizenship up through efforts during the Trump administration to change current law and practice—and the reading of the Fourteenth Amendment embraced in Wong Kim Ark. The United States is not alone among nations with generous citizenship provision in experiencing backlash, and in the final chapter, we consider the different methods by which American opponents of birthright citizenship are trying to effect change now.

Carol Nackenoff is the Richter Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College

Julie Novkov is interim dean of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy and professor of political science and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at the University at Albany

Why is Car Insurance So Expensive? And Why Won’t Anyone Do Anything About it?

by Peter Kinzler, author of Highway Robbery; The Two-Decade Battle to Reform America’s Automobile Insurance System

If you think your auto insurance costs too much, you are not alone. Nearly everyone does. That is why, particularly in times of rising rates, there is public support for reforms that promise lower rates. As auto insurance is regulated at the state level, the demand for reform typically depends on the rates in any particular state. To see if there are changes that could help reduce what you pay for auto insurance, let’s start by looking at the highest cost in states today. Then, I will examine the reasons premiums are so high in those states and what changes might help reduce rates. Finally, I will discuss the largest single impediment to achieving reform: trial lawyers, the people whose economic interests would be adversely affected by reforms. They are the main reason why the auto insurance system remains too costly and why those changes are so hard to achieve.

In 1997, Louisiana and Michigan ranked as the twentieth and fifteenth most expensive states in auto insurance premiums. Not particularly high nor particularly low. Twenty years later, they were vying for the unwanted title of the most expensive auto insurance state in the country, words no driver in either state wants to hear. What changed in the intervening years? Was the source of the problem the same? And what can be done to remedy the problems?

Alas, the answers are not simple, starting with the fact that the two states have auto insurance systems that are polar opposites. Louisiana has a fault-based system under which the right to recover is based largely on the other driver’s degree of fault and the amount of any recovery is based on the level of the other driver’s coverage. The only way a driver can protect themself is to purchase health insurance or its auto insurance equivalent, MedPay. Both of those coverages are ones the driver pays for.

Michigan, by contrast, operates under a no-fault system. Like health insurance, no-fault pays for an injured person’s losses without regard to fault. To pay far more injured people more money than the fault system and to keep premiums from rising, no-fault laws limit lawsuits for pain and suffering (non-economic loss), typically to some defined set of very serious injuries.

To understand how to fix both the Louisiana and Michigan laws, you must first understand why some states have fault laws and some have no-fault laws and how most of them fail to deliver what insured people need—prompt, fair compensation in a timely manner for a reasonable price.

All states started with the fault system. Then, in 1932, a Columbia University study of the fault system identified inadequate compensation as the major flaw in the fault system. Later, in the mid-1960s and early 1970s, law school professors Robert Keeton and Jeffrey O’Connell and a twenty-six volume US Department of Transportation study expanded on the system’s deficiencies. They found that the requirement of fault deprived more than half of all victims of any recovery and that the system for determining fault—with the involvement of insurance claims adjusters, lawyers, and often the courts—took too long and paid almost twice as much to lawyers as it paid for the medical bills and lost wages of accident victims.

They recommended switching to a no-fault system that paid all injured persons without regard to fault, with the cost of the additional compensation being offset by strict limitations on the right to sue for pain and suffering. As the new system would deprive lawyers of substantial income, the lawyers fought back in two ways. First, they tried to preserve the fault system by proposing changes to it to improve compensation. Where that failed, they sought—and usually succeeded—in undermining the restrictions on lawsuits in no-fault states (called thresholds). That enabled them to sue in more cases than no-fault proponents wanted, undermining the basic no-fault trade-off and resulting in higher costs. The trial bar then turned around and argued against no-fault in other states and at the federal level on the ground that premiums were too high. As a result of these changes in the fault system and, in some cases, the creation of no-fault systems, compensation for injured persons improved. However, for reasons I will discuss later, only no-fault (done properly) can deliver both better compensation and lower premiums.

So, let’s start by examining Louisiana. As I mentioned, as a fault state, an injured person in Louisiana can only recover if the person was injured by another driver’s negligence. That standard has always denied recovery to nearly one-third of all people injured in accidents, those involved in single-car crashes, because no one is at fault. That will never change. Until the late 1960s, it also meant no recovery if the injured motorist was even partially at fault, the contributory negligence doctrine. These and other restrictive doctrines were the reason more than half of all injured persons recovered nothing in auto accidents in the late 1960s.

Louisiana joined fault states in seeking to remedy the compensation defects by making it easier to recover. Perhaps the most dramatic change was adopted in 1996, just one year prior to the time Louisiana ranked twentieth in premiums. The state moved to a pure comparative negligence standard, whereby motorists recover based on their percentage of fault, even when they are almost entirely at fault. In a worst-case scenario, a motorist who is 90 percent at fault could recover more than the person who is 10 percent at fault. That can happen if the primarily at-fault motorist suffers $90,000 of injuries and the largely free-from-fault driver suffered $5,000 in injuries. Advocates for change in Louisiana also contend that the state’s civil justice system contributed to the higher rates by encouraging settling all claims for policy limits ($15,000). Whatever the exact causes were, they all resulted in improved compensation. However, it is axiomatic that paying more injured people more dollars within the confines of the same system is more costly than paying fewer people. As a result of changes in the fault system and on the insurance side, the average premium jumped from $954 in 1997, placing the state twentieth in the country, to $2,480 in 2020, moving to second.

What was not the source of the dramatic rise in premiums was that Louisiana drivers had more accidents. The number of accidents in the state was in line with the rest of the country, but the number of claims was twice the average rate. Among the “reforms” adopted in 2020 were requiring an injured person to post a $5,000 cash bond within 60 days in order to file suit and changes in the collateral source doctrine. Supporters contended that these and other changes adopted by the legislature in 2020 would reduce premiums by 25 percent. Only months after the new law was adopted, one of the key insurance supporters of the changes said that Louisiana was likely to remain the most expensive state in the country. Even should the new law succeed in reducing rates somewhat, it will be because it will reduce compensation for injured persons, some of whom won’t be able to meet the new law’s financial requirements to bring suit.

If increasing compensation under the fault system addresses one problem (inadequate compensation) while creating another (higher premiums), is there a way to achieve both better compensation and lower premiums? Strangely, the answer lies in examining the Michigan’s no-fault system, which pretty much shares the top spot with Louisiana for the highest premiums.

The Michigan law, adopted in 1973, most closely resembles the model state law and the federal no-fault bills that were considered by Congress for most of the decade. While the federal bills floundered, Michigan succeeded in adopting a law with very generous benefits—including unlimited medical and rehabilitation—without increasing costs initially. It accomplished better compensation by a trade-off—guaranteed benefits in return for limiting the right to sue in very serious injury cases. The underlying concept is that motorists largely give up the right to sue for pain and suffering in return for an assured right to recover for their medical (and wage) losses, just as they do with health insurance. In fact, no-fault auto insurance is largely health insurance by another name.

The law provided benefits for all the roughly 50 percent of injured people who could not recover anything from the fault system at the time. The cost of providing guaranteed high levels of benefits to all injured people was offset by the dramatic reduction in lawsuits and the accompanying attorney fees. Its “threshold” to sue reduced both recoveries of pain and suffering in cases of small injury and the costs of attorney fees. In fault states, both of these categories exceeded the amount paid from the insurance dollar for out-of-pocket costs.

The Michigan law was an unqualified success for some twenty-five years, with the state’s premiums ranking only fifteenth in the country in 1997. Why, then, is it in a virtual tie with Louisiana as the most expensive auto insurance state today? And why do 25 percent of motorists drive without insurance? Common sense provides the obvious answers—the difficulty of predicting human behavior, changing attitudes, and ticking time bombs in the legislation. No legislation is ever perfect. It is the job of the supporters of major legislation to monitor its implementation for possible issues that might arise and to be prepared to defend its integrity and make any necessary changes to preserve its purposes.

The Michigan law started off ideally from the standpoint of its supporters, both substantively and politically. Substantively, it benefitted from the findings of the deficiencies of the tort system in a twenty-six volume US Department of Transportation study in 1970, a model state law in 1973, and the early political experience of the US Senate in considering and developing legislation. Politically, Michigan benefitted from support among the major players across the political spectrum—from Republican Governor George Romney to the powerful United Auto Workers. It even had the support of the Michigan Bar Association, though not the trial bar. The law also had the benefit of being in a midwestern state where there were fewer trial lawyers per square mile than in other states with large urban centers, such as New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

These differences from the eastern states enabled the Michigan law to operate as intended for roughly twenty-five years, with much better compensation and steady rates. The one unintended problem was that the law was mandating the Cadillac of insurance for all people, including those who could afford a Ford, at best. The result has been uninsured rates as high as twenty-five percent in Detroit and other areas with many low-income people. They need a much less costly form of insurance, one that would permit them to balance protecting themselves against injury with far more desperate needs to feed their families and pay the rent.

Where cost problems arose in other no-fault states, the primary reason was the retention of too many lawsuits. In all of them, the portion of the premium for lawsuits is higher than for the no-fault benefits. That is not the definition of a no-fault system. By contrast, in Michigan, the problems are primarily associated with its very generous no-fault benefits. Unlike in other no-fault jurisdictions, most of the cause of rising rates were the result of problems on the benefit side of the law. First, the benefits were higher than in any other form of insurance in the United States. There is no health insurance policy—Medicaid, Medicare, or private health insurance—that pays all the costs of all injuries with no limits. The original Michigan law had few of the cost controls that are traditionally contained in health insurance policies, such as deductibles, copayments, fee schedules, and limits on certain kinds of providers and the number of visits. Over time, particularly in serious injury cases, the absence of these common limitations resulted in skyrocketing benefit costs. Take, for example, personal attendant care for seriously injured people. It’s a wonderful idea if we as a society had unlimited resources. Medicare does not offer such coverage nor do traditional health insurance plans. The cost of these and other care for the very few catastrophic injury cases in Michigan eventually overwhelmed the costs of all other injuries combined.

Despite its very tight restriction on the right to sue, Michigan ultimately was not immune to its courts weakening the initial interpretation of and permissible grounds for suit. The Kreiner decision in 2010 made it easier for people to bring cases. With the cost of no-fault benefits rising well beyond the level originally anticipated and with the threshold weakened, this double whammy led to consistently rising rates until Michigan arrived in a virtual tie with Louisiana as the most expensive state for auto insurance in the country.

Thus, Michigan was faced with making reforms on both the no-fault and fault sides of the law. Recent reforms, which went into effect in July 2020, are beginning to bring down costs. People are now permitted to purchase lower levels of benefits, from $250,000 to $500,000 and $50,000 for people on Medicaid. Motorists can also opt out of buying no-fault coverage if they have qualified health coverage that applies to auto accidents. There is a fee schedule for medical providers and hospitals, although it is generous, starting at 200 percent of the Medicare rate before declining on an annual basis. Motorists now also have a managed care option, with deductibles and copayments, in return for a lower premium. Importantly, with regard to the cost of unlimited coverage, the new law limits reimbursement of family members who provide personal attendant care services to fifty-six hours a week.

So far, the reforms have led to a 60 percent drop in the charge for catastrophic coverage. Also, the option to purchase lower levels of no-fault benefits will bring down costs, but more needs to be done to fulfill the promises of no-fault. Further tightening on the benefit side will also reduce costs while leaving injured Michigan motorists with the most comprehensive coverage for auto accidents of any state in the country.

Stepping back for a minute from the problems in Louisiana and Michigan, think about what states had the highest premiums when the no-fault issue first arose in the mid-1960s. They were states with large urban populations where more accidents occurred and states with large, aggressive attorney populations. They included New York, New Jersey, and Florida. On the other hand, the lower cost states were largely rural where there were far fewer accidents, although many resulted in serious injuries. They included North Dakota, Maine, Iowa, Idaho, and South Dakota.

Nearly fifty years later, these states still fit into the same categories of cost, regardless of whether they have fault or no-fault laws, and the question remains: is it possible to lower premiums while improving compensation for the injured?

The short answer is yes. My recently released book, Highway Robbery: The Two-Decade Battle to Reform America’s Automobile Insurance System, describes in detail one way to solve the problems not only of Louisiana and Michigan but of all other states, be they tort or no-fault states—Auto Choice. In tort states, motorists would have the option to purchase no-fault coverage that will pay in all injury cases, just like health insurance, but with coverage for roughly twice the level of the existing fault coverage (about $50,000) so that it is not so high that it prices low-income drivers out of the market. Also, there would be cost controls in the auto insurance system, just as there are with health insurance, and coordinating payments for injuries between the health and auto insurance systems holds out the potential for substantial cost savings by eliminating duplicate payments. The threshold would limit lawsuits based on fault to cases of excess economic loss—economic loss beyond the level covered by the no-fault benefits. No suits for noneconomic damages would be permitted except against drunk drivers and those who intentionally injure others. In July 2003, the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress estimated that the average driver in Louisiana who chose the no-fault option would see a drop of 70 percent in their personal injury premiums.

In no-fault states, the no-fault option would address the problems in no-fault states caused by both uncontrolled benefits and weak thresholds. The benefit levels would be modest, but about twice as much as one could recover in a fault state. The threshold would be the same as described above, eliminating all suits for non-economic loss. The 2003 JEC estimate of savings for the average person on their personal injury premiums for Michigan was 61 percent.

Importantly, the concept of Auto Choice would allow drivers choices they don’t have today—a choice between two different auto insurance systems and, if they choose the no-fault option, to pick the level of no-fault benefits and to opt out of the choice system entirely if they wish. They could choose simply to remain in the system that was in place in their state before this legislation was passed. In effect, the option to remain in the state’s existing system would provide fail-safe protection should the no-fault option not work as intended. That’s the kind of guarantee that simply isn’t offered in legislation.

Now all that’s needed are some politically courageous politicians in state capitals to resist the political pressure from those who would lose money under such a system—trial lawyers and insurers. At last count, about ten years ago, lawyer fees exceeded $11 billion a year. They won’t give up that largely easy money easily. Strong pressure from a public fed up with unnecessarily high premiums offers the most hopeful answer, with crowdfunding financing the effort instead of special interest money, and a little organizing help from that highly unpopular but often effective group—lobbyists.

Peter Kinzler served for twenty-five years as a staffer in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate, most as a subcommittee counsel, and for ten years in the private sector as president of the Coalition for Auto-Insurance Reform. He is the retired president of Kinzler Consulting and lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

Bodies and Boarding Schools

By: David Wallace Adams, author of Education for Extinction; American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875–1928

Recent news of the discovery of hundreds of Native American children’s graves at a site of a former boarding school in Canada has brought to public attention one of the most tragic chapters in the history of Indigenous peoples in North America, including the United States—the story of how Native children were removed, often forcibly, from their families and communities and placed in distant boarding schools where missionaries or government officials went about the business of eradicating cultural identities in the name of “civilization” and assimilation.

Having spent more than forty years studying and writing about Indian boarding schools, I was not terribly surprised by recent revelations but felt compelled to comment on a subject so close to the focus of my own work. For those unfamiliar with this chapter in Native American history, it may be surprising to learn of the extent to which the systematic removal of Native children from their families and communities and placing them in boarding schools, both reservation and off-reservation, was a major component of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century federal Indian policy. While it is nearly impossible to calculate the number of Indigenous children who attended such schools, my own analysis is that if a survey of Native Americans had been made in 1930, it would have shown that approximately 70-80 percent of the population attended such an institution at some point in their life. It is also important to point out that, unlike Canada, most of the enrollment in the United States was in federal (not mission) schools.

While it is true that many children adapted to the regimentation of boarding school life and saw their time of enrollment as an opportunity for acquiring knowledge and skills that would facilitate their survival in white society, for most the prolonged separation from family constituted terribly traumatic experiences which left emotional scars for years to come. Not the least of these painful memories was seeing fellow students stricken by raging epidemics of influenza, measles, pneumonia, and tuberculosis that swept through the school. Overcrowded dormitories, inadequate food, severe discipline policies, military-like regimentation, and other institutional realities all contributed to one of the darkest consequences of the boarding school experience—school cemeteries. Many of the bigger schools possessed such plots. How many of these undiscovered grounds exist, we still do not know.

The graveyard at Carlisle Indian School, one of the largest of the off-reservation institutions, contains 192 bodies with names like Lucy Pretty Eagle, Maud Little Girl, Dennis Strikes First, as well as the gravestone marked Unknown. Similarly, there are some one hundred graves at Haskell Institute, located in Lawrence, Kansas. Again, the names: Jerry Wolf Chief, Maggie Big Fire, and Charles Panther. Students’ knowledge of the school cemeteries couldn’t help but rattle their minds. Would they ever make it home? In his memoir, My People the Sioux, Luther Standing Bear, who attended Carlisle in the early years, says the news of a fellow student dying “worked on our nerves to such an extent that it told on our bodies.”

Some thirty years ago I interviewed an elderly Navajo (Diné) man who attended the off-reservation school in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and who at one point was so consumed by pneumonia that he lay in a hospital bed for several months. Near-death, and slipping in and out of consciousness, his only relief was hearing what he thought to be that of tinkling bells. It must be the sheep, he imagined. Back on the reservation, he had spent countless hours herding sheep. And now he was hearing the familiar sound. “I could hear the bells. I know the sheep was pretty close. Them days, if you don’t hear those bells, you’d better go look for them. So I had the dream all the time. I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t hurtin’ no place.” And so he managed to pull through.

The number of children who never came home was a major reason why many parents resisted turning their children over to school officials. In 1891, a chief in the Spokane Nation, which had lost sixteen of the twenty-one youths sent to eastern schools, declared, “If I had white people’s children, I would have put their bodies in a coffin and sent them home so that they could see them. I do not know who did it, but they treated my people as if they were dogs.”

Meanwhile, boarding school employees scrambled to keep the death number down, and most cared for sick children in the most humane manner possible. Many reasoned that sending homesick children to the poverty of the reservation would only seal their fate. The long distances and weather also came into play. At the same time, however, some dismissed the school’s responsibility for school deaths by claiming that many children were already showing signs of illness before arriving at school and consequently it was not attributable to school conditions. And then there was the all-to-common motivation to send a stricken child home once a serious illness was discovered with the likeliness of death, thereby reducing the risk of raising bureaucratic eyebrows in Washington for the school’s rising death toll.

With Secretary of Interior Haaland’s recent announcement of a Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative to explore the extent of burials across the boarding school system, one cannot help but wonder whether the numbers unearthed will approaching those of Canada. A thorough investigation will tell us, but I suspect not. While Canadian and US systems were driven by similar motives, like the erasure of Native cultures and land dispossession, as suggested earlier, there were also significant differences. Besides the proportional difference in the number of schools operated by the churches, there were also differences in bureaucratic oversight, at least after the 1870s when policymakers created an inspection system to monitor developments in the field.

Whatever the outcome on numbers, the fact remains that the history of Indian boarding schools constitutes one of the darkest chapters in the nation’s past, a story strewn with pain, moral atrocities, and the ghosts of children crying out for home.

A Pride Month Reading List

The University Press of Kansas is proud to help celebrate Pride Month with a curated list of books studying the legal battle for gay rights…

No Place Like Home; Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas

by C.J. Janovy

Far from the coastal centers of culture and politics, Kansas stands at the very center of American stereotypes about red states. In the American imagination, it is a place LGBT people leave. No Place Like Home is about why they stay. The book tells the epic story of how a few disorganized and politically naïve Kansans, realizing they were unfairly under attack, rolled up their sleeves, went looking for fights, and ended up making friends in one of the country’s most hostile states. No Place Like Home was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for LBGTQ Nonfiction, winner of the Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize, and A Kansas Notable Book

 

The Courts, the Ballot Box, and Gay Rights; How Our Governing Institutions Shape the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

by Joseph Mello

If the same-sex marriage debate tells us one thing, it is that rights do not exist in a vacuum. What works for one side at the ballot box often fails in the courtroom. Conservative opponents of same-sex marriage used appeals to religious liberty and parental rights to win ballot measure campaigns, but could not duplicate this success in court. Looking at the same-sex marriage debate at the ballot box and in the courts, this timely book offers unique insights into one of the most fluid social and legal issues of our day—and into the role of institutional context in how rights are used.

 

Judging the Boy Scouts of America; Gay Rights, Freedom of Association, and the Dale Case

by Richard J. Ellis

As Americans, we cherish the freedom to associate. However, with the freedom to associate comes the right to exclude those who do not share our values and goals. What happens when the freedom of association collides with the equally cherished principle that every individual should be free from invidious discrimination? This is precisely the question posed in Boy Scouts of America v. James Dale, a lawsuit that made its way through the courts over the course of a decade, culminating in 2000 with a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. In Judging the Boy Scouts of America, Richard J. Ellis tells the fascinating story of the Dale case, placing it in the context of legal principles and precedents, Scouts’ policies, gay rights, and the culture wars in American politics.

 

The Case for Gay Rights; From Bowers to Lawrence and Beyond

by David A. J. Richards

As Americans wrestle with red-versus-blue debates over traditional values, defense of marriage, and gay rights, reason often seems to take a back seat to emotion. In response, David Richards, a widely respected legal scholar and long-time champion of gay rights, reflects upon the constitutional and democratic principles—relating to privacy, intimate life, free speech, tolerance, and conscience-that underpin these often-heated debates.

 

The Sharon Kowalski Case; Lesbian and Gay Rights on Trial

by Casey Charles

While car-crash victim Sharon Kowalski lay comatose in the hospital, battle lines were drawn between her parents and her lesbian companion Karen Thompson, initiating a nearly decade-long struggle over the guardianship of Kowalski. The ensuing litigation became a rallying point for gays and lesbians frustrated by laws and social stigmas that treated them as second-class citizens. Considered the most compelling case of his lifetime by the late Tom Stoddard, former executive director of the Lambda Legal Defense Fund, the Kowalski legal saga also resonated deeply among AIDS patients who worried that they too might be legally deprived of their partners’ care.

UPK to Celebrate 75th Anniversary

On January 9, 1940, the Committee on Publication and Printing recommended to the Faculty Senate “that the Administration be invited to consider establishing a University of Kansas Press.” It took 6 years, but on July 1, 1946, the University of Kansas Press opened (changing to the University Press of Kansas in 1967 to be inclusive of the six state schools that fund the Press: Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University, Kansas State University, Pittsburg State University, the University of Kansas, and Wichita State University). 

This year we celebrate our 75 years of publishing acclaimed books on American politics (including the presidency, American political thought, and public policy), military history and intelligence studies, American history (especially political, cultural, intellectual, and western), environmental policy and history, American studies, film studies, law and legal history, Native American studies, and books about Kansas and the Midwest. Our books have reached a wide audience both inside and outside the academy and have been recognized for their contributions to important scholarly and public debates.

The Kansas state motto “Ad Astra per Aspera” is Latin for “to the stars through difficulties.” Our 74th year was difficult, but we are shooting for the stars and ready to celebrate our 75th.

We have a bunch of fun things planned: guest blogs, GREAT SALES, giveaways, unique partnerships, and maybe even a party. Let’s get this party started with a t-shirt sale! Our first-ever merchandise is available for pre-order and shirts will ship on 7/14.

See https://stores.inksoft.com/university_press_of_kansas/shop/home to order.

 

Diehl Ends 35-Year UPK Career

Few things are more interconnected with the University Press of Kansas than Direct Mail and Exhibits Manager Debra Diehl and, after 35 years, May 14 marks her final day with the Press.

Diehl’s responsibilities at UPK extend far beyond those covered by her job title. She’s the resident expert on Press history, official favorite person in the office of visiting kids, and long-time recruiter of local wildlife.

“Debra’s career with UPK has been inspirational,” said Kelly Chrisman Jacques, UPK managing director. “While I wish her chapter in UPK’s book had been a couple of years longer, I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to work alongside her and learn from her. Deb’s sincerity, enthusiasm, patience, efficiency, and kindness have set the gold standard of exemplary performance and collegiality. She’s incomparable! I’ll miss Deb dearly, but I wish her only the best in her next chapter.”

Diehl’s extensive experience reaches beyond UPK’s walls. She’s represented the Press at meetings across the country and made sure books have traveled to events large and small. If there’s an event at which UPK books might be displayed, Deb knows about it.

“Deb is hands down the best exhibits manager I’ve worked with in over thirty years in publishing,” said Joyce Harrison, editor in chief. “It’s such a joy to come into an exhibit space, with tables to be put into place and boxes to open, and know that all of the books and supplies you need are there. Exhibits require a lot of advance work, and Deb goes about this work with stunning efficiency, especially considering the number of conferences we attend each year.”

As part of the marketing department team, Deb focused on promoting UPK books via the mail—postal and email—and arranging for them to be on display at conferences and events. Deb was originally hired as an office assistant and has worked for every department at the Press. Eventually, when the Press was able to increase its staff, a marketing assistant position was created and she started working with marketing. When the marketing department added another position, Deb moved into her role as direct mail and exhibits manager.

“Debra was on the committee that hired me,” said Suzanne Galle, marketing assistant. “In the many years that have transpired since, she has been a colleague, friend, and confidante all in one. I think all who have had the good fortune to work with her would say the same. Her skill, professionalism, and generosity have been a boon to both the press and all who have worked here. I will sorely miss working with her, but I look forward to seeing the good things that life’s next chapter has in store for her.”

Deb will begin work with Bowersock Capital Partners in Lawrence. It is undecided who will feed the birds and squirrels outside her office window.

“I’m glad that I help market a quality product,” Deb said. “Seeing a book ‘do well,’ whether that’s defined by sales, an award, or getting the author’s next project, is gratifying. But the most rewarding aspect of being at UPK is that I work with great people— people that I respect and like and admire. That’s been the case since day one.”