EUROPE'S SHIFTING IMMIGRATION DYNAMIC
By Esther Ben-David
The arrival of families changed the immigrants' attitudes towards religious and cultural values, transplanting honor culture, modesty standards, and attitudes toward women to the West. Veiled women have now become a common sight on U.S. and European streets.
Beginning in the mid-Twentieth Century, European countries have changed from net sources of emigration to attractive destinations for immigration. Today Muslims, many from rural traditional areas, comprise the bulk of non-European immigrants to Europe. Even those who have settled in cities retain a village mentality and are seen as backward by the business and cultural elites in their home countries. Moroccans who settled in the Netherlands and Belgium, for example, are mostly Berbers from the Rif mountains, not the Arab cultural elite  from Casablanca, Rabat, or Fez. These immigrants came to Europe in order to build railroads, work in the coal mines, clean streets, and do the jobs that Europeans did not want to do.  Both "push" and "pull" factors affect immigration. Push factors are those that lead the immigrant to leave his homeland, while pull factors are those which attract him to a different country. Europe and other Western constitutional democratic countries exert a strong pull on immigrants. However, stopping immigration is not easy, if at all possible, since the same European liberal, constitutional democratic laws that attract immigrants also prevent states from acting to stop the immigrants from coming or, later, to deport them.
The economic downturn in the early 1970s led European policymakers to realize that immigration was not always a positive phenomenon. Many immigrants were suddenly unemployed, but they did not go back to their home countries. As fears grew that foreign workers sought permanent residence, between 1973 and 1975, Western European governments instituted an "immigration stop," introducing restrictive measures to deter immigration and to put a stop to recruiting foreign labor.
This immigration stop had unforeseen consequences. Migration of foreign workers dwindled, but the migration dynamic nevertheless continued. Migrants residing in Europe could continue to sponsor their extended family's immigration and, indeed, relaxation of restrictions on family reunification encouraged further immigration. The time between the first proposals for a halt and their implementation exacerbated the problem as immigrants hurried to bring over their families, fearful that the doors to Europe would soon close forever.
Ironically, in the decades that have passed since the halt to immigration, more immigrants have come to Europe than in preceding decades. Indeed, by looking at the number of immigrants in various countries, it would be difficult to determine how far back the block had been implemented in practice. In the Netherlands, for example, the number of first-generation and second-generation Moroccan and Turkish immigrants has increased almost tenfold since the 1974 halt.
Researchers have long sought to chart the immigration dynamic and to predict future trends. When Poland joined the European Union, forecasts of the number of Polish workers who would immigrate to the United Kingdom underestimated reality. The British government expected 15,000 immigrants a year from the newly-admitted European Union countries, but, instead, approved close to 430,000 applications in two years, a figure that does not include self-employed immigrants who could resettle without applying for a work permit. 
Even when the trend is known, forecasts tend to miscalculate reality. A Dutch study from 1994, for example, thought marriage immigration had already peaked.  However, a study from 2005 by a Dutch government agency, Statistics Netherlands, shows that, between 1995 and 2003, marriage immigration of Turks almost doubled, increasing from slightly less than 2,000 per year to close to 4,000. Marriage immigration of Moroccans in the same period tripled, increasing from slightly over 1,000 a year to about 3,000. This same study expects marriage immigration to peak by the mid 2020s, as second generation immigrants age. 
In Germany, while the Turkish population stabilized briefly in the 1980s,  it later increased steadily, despite the 1973 check on immigration
And a 1997 study by the Norwegian Statistical Bureau found that 50 percent of immigrants had arrived since 1989, and that 30 percent of the total immigrant community had arrived in just the past five years. 
And, according to the lowest available estimates, the number of North Africans in France tripled since the government started restricting immigration in 1974.
Families also changed the immigrants' attitudes towards religious and cultural values. Whereas single workers either isolated themselves or sought to experience the more liberal lifestyle of Europe, the arrival of families led immigrants to transport their honor culture and modesty standards to the West and to put into practice their attitudes toward women. And, while temporary workers accepted basement mosques as a temporary solution to their communal prayer needs, with increasing numbers and the presence of families, these were no longer adequate. Immigrant parents brought their children to the West to give them new opportunities, but they did not want them to fall prey to Western temptations.
Immigration is a personal decision. However, once many people make the decision to leave their home country, the flow of immigrants takes on a life of its own. This immigration dynamic is hard, if not impossible, to stop. Immigrants choose to go to destinations with which they are acquainted and about which they have heard from friends and relatives who immigrated previously. Such destinations provide informal support structures and social networks. This leads to a situation where immigrants from a certain home area all congregate in a certain area in the host country, thereby leading to immigrant ghettoes. In the United States, for example, Minneapolis-St. Paul has become an unlikely immigrant ghetto for Somalis, and Los Angeles — "Tehrangeles" — is an immigrant destination for Iranians.
In Belgium, similarly, immigrants from the Turkish City of Emirdag and its vicinity settled in Brussels and Ghent.  According to one emigrant from Emirdag, it is common knowledge that family and friends live on the same street or neighborhood in Belgium as they do "back home."  In the Netherlands, many of the Moroccans come from the Rif mountain town of al-Hoceima; Bangladeshis, mostly coming from the northeastern Sylhet area, came to the United Kingdom and settled in the East London boroughs, particularly in Tower Hamlets. Pakistanis, mostly from Kashmir and the Punjab, settled in Birmingham, with another large concentration in Bradford. The immigrants who first came to the country set the way for their compatriots to follow. Pakistanis, Vietnamese, and more recently, Iraqis, are the largest groups of non-European immigrants in Norway. North Africans and Albanians make up the largest groups in Italy.
The more people emigrate from a certain town or village, the more likely it becomes that their neighbors or their neighbors' children will follow in their path. The immigration dynamic means that entire generations of children in villages and towns across the Third World grow up knowing that they are likely to immigrate in the future, either by marrying a cousin or by other means.
Europe today offers unique possibilities. It is much closer to North Africa and Turkey than other immigration countries such as the United States, Canada, or Australia and can be reached without air travel. Additionally, freedom of travel within Europe enables immigrants to start in the most accessible country and later make their way to their true destination. This is especially true with asylum seekers, who may arrive in Greece or Italy, for example, but then try to make their way to "easier" countries like Sweden or Norway. 
Technological advances have also changed immigration. Travel accessibility has transformed journeys of months or years into hours or days. Major European air carriers offer direct flights connecting Europe to the Middle East and Asia. Even after the immigrant has arrived, he can keep in constant contact with his home country: by phone and the Internet or via satellite television.  He can also return for Summer vacations. Whereas immigrants of the past had little choice but to assimilate into their host countries, today, they can retain their native identities to the exclusion of the national identity of their new home.
In many cases, the immigrant "sojourns,"  living in both countries, setting up two residences and splitting his time between his new country and his homeland. Sojourning not only retards integration, but also ensures continuation of the immigration dynamic, since the immigrant's countrymen back home are continuously in touch and reminded of the wealth that immigration offers.
Immigrants tend to invest back in their home country, building palatial residences to show their success in Europe. There are entire neighborhoods in some countries that were built by emigrants who rarely live there: "Little Norway" in Gujarat, Pakistan,  or the "Belgian Neighborhood" in Tangier.  These neighborhoods usually only come to life in the Summer, when the immigrants return for annual vacations.
Investing in the home country also means less money to invest in day-to-day life in their new country. Immigrants might still be living in squalid conditions in Paris or Amsterdam, but their relatives in Morocco and Turkey can be satisfied with their success. Among Turkish immigrants in Belgium, there are those who borrow money to buy an expensive car for the Summer trip to Turkey in order to show that they have succeeded in Europe. They then sell the car upon their return to Europe.  The "Belgian neighborhood" in Tangier was supposedly built with the savings and child benefits of the immigrants. 
Family reunification is one of the most common ways to immigrate to Europe today. This means that immigration laws in host countries have transformed immigrant youth into virtual human visas. The commonality of cousin marriages to aid the extended family or to keep resources within the family encourages marriages between immigrants and family members back in the host country. The Western legal system reinforces tribal marriage patterns by giving families incentives to use marriage to work around the European immigration system. In Norway, for example, the proportion of cousin-marriages within the Pakistani immigrant community is greater than in Pakistan itself. 
Marriage immigration also perpetuates itself. Studies show that the age at which an immigrant woman first becomes a mother increases and the number of children decreases the longer her family is in Europe.  That is, a first generation immigrant would exhibit behavior closer to her native country, while a second and third generation immigrant would tend to be more similar to the local population. Marriage immigration therefore ensures a continued high level of fertility among the immigrant population.
Many forecasts regarding the Muslim immigration to Europe expect that immigrant Muslims will eventually integrate into society. However, marriage immigration ensures that the immigrant population never progresses past the stage of first and second generation immigrants, frustrating integration. Also hampering demographic forecasts is the fact that many second generation immigrants prefer to marry spouses from their parents' home country. Studies among Moroccan and Turkish youth in Belgium show that they often prefer to marry spouses from "back home" rather than marrying a fellow second generation immigrant like themselves.  Boys, dissatisfied with what they see as the Westernization of immigrant women, opt for more traditional women from the home country. Moroccan immigrant youth visiting their home country are often accosted with offers of sex and money in exchange for a visa by local girls desperate to get to the "Promised Land." 
Girls, on the other hand, are dissatisfied with what they see as the lower-class behaviors of many immigrant men and their attitudes towards marriage and women and, therefore, opt for a more "open," gentlemanly and educated man, also from back home. The market value of legal immigrant women is especially high.  In Norway, marriageable Muslim girls are sometimes called "gilded paper" or "visa."  Marrying a husband from the home country has the additional benefit that the wife can be quite sure her new in-laws will not interfere in her marriage. This is important, as it is traditional among immigrants for the new couple to live in the house of the husband's parents and under their authority, until they have children.
Still, there are real cases of political persecution. Beginning in the 1950s, many Muslim students arrived in Germany not only to take advantage of the technical education in German universities, but also to escape political persecution by secular, military leaders such as Gamal Abdel Nasser, bent on eradicating Islamist groups back home.  One of these exiles was Said Ramadan, son-in-law of Muslim Brotherhood Founder Hassan al-Banna, and father of Tariq Ramadan. Said Ramadan was granted asylum in Switzerland, where he continued working for Muslim Brotherhood interests. The trend has accelerated into the 1980s and 1990s, as Islamist activists fled intensified domestic crackdowns in Syria, North Africa, and Egypt. However, unlike many asylum seekers who sought to flee oppression, these refugees sought to replicate it, plotting the replacement of secular dictatorships with religious dictatorships. They cared little for the values of constitutional democracy, even as they sought to utilize it for their own purposes. European officials, perhaps for reasons of moral equivalency, granted such activists asylum, without regard to what caused the persecution against them in the first place. Using their new European base, many of these Islamist activists continued in their struggle for regime change in their homelands, creating networks that, at times, became the basis for today's European Muslim terrorist networks. As one Egyptian official said, "European countries like Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, England and others, which give sanctuary to these terrorists should now understand it will come back to haunt them where they live."  The idea of "refugee" has degenerated so much that, during the war in Afghanistan, British officials granted asylum to Taliban fighters. 
Conversely, Islamic countries can also produce refugees who flee strict application of Islamic law, individuals such as homosexuals, converts from Islam to other religions, or members of persecuted minorities, such as the Ahmadiyya in Pakistan, or the Jews in Yemen, who may face capital punishment for their beliefs or actions.  However, such a trend can encourage fraud. For example, after the Norwegian government granted automatic residence permits to persecuted homosexuals, fifty Iranian asylum seekers claimed to be persecuted homosexuals. At least one married in Iran and, after receiving asylum, proceeded to request family reunification. Several others reported doubtful stories, but were given asylum anyway. 
Likewise, the decision to grant automatic residence permits to converts from Islam — even those who converted after arriving in Europe — encourages more abuse.  In Norway, one hundred Afghan refugees converted to Christianity, after the rejection of their initial asylum claims. 
While European governments do reject the applications of many asylum seekers, this does not mean the individuals leave or are deported. Perhaps 80 percent of asylum seekers stay in Europe after the rejection of their application. 
There are many reasons why asylum seekers are not immediately deported. The West's liberal court systems allow for appeals and for further review after a decision by the first instance of justice. Death sentences in the home country, seen as inhumane by the Europeans, or refusal by the home country to accept its own citizens back can also prevent deportation. Others simply disappear, continuing to live in the country as undocumented illegal immigrants. The result is that those detained in camps for months or years before the completion of court processes are removed from productivity and learn to live at public expense.
In the years of legal battles, prospective asylum seekers are willing to do everything in order to ensure their stays. Children are kept as virtual hostages without knowing their own family abroad, without learning their original mother tongue, and without being able to integrate in their original homelands as a last resort for a residence permit on grounds of humane consideration, should the asylum battle fail. 
Those who live illegally do not pay taxes and cannot enjoy the full benefits of a welfare society. However, as more illegal immigrants arrive in a country, pressure grows to regularize them by awarding them amnesty and residence permits. Though regularization deals with the humanitarian aspects of the illegal immigrant's situation, it also gives incentives for illegal behavior and further immigration. In Belgium, for example, illegal immigrants have protested, in recent years, for regularization. Such protests have involved squatting in churches and climbing high-rise cranes. This creates an irony in which state attempts to stop immigration are thwarted by institutions — such as churches — that are subsidized by the state itself. The Belgian protests are aided by pro-immigrant groups, many of which the state also subsidizes.
Ignorance contributes to immigration. Researchers studying Turkish marriage immigrants who immigrated to Belgium found that children and adults growing up in Turkey in an emigration town, that is, a town where most of the residents either emigrated or wanted to emigrate, were unaware of the basic facts of European life. They knew about the high unemployment benefits, but were not aware that basic necessities were much more expensive. One marriage-migrant interviewee admitted frankly that life in Belgium was not what he had expected. However, when he tried warning the youth in his hometown of the hardships of immigration, he was accused of wanting to keep new-found wealth to himself. 
The problem with both methods is that a European lifestyle is based not only on material wealth, but also on the rights and privileges of a constitutional democracy. Even if it were easy to try to create jobs and affluence in countries such as Tunisia — which it is not — it would be harder to change the fabric of the legal system in a liberalizing direction.
Several countries have also tried unsuccessfully to convince immigrants to leave their new homes by offering incentives and continued welfare support for those who return to their native countries. Two such programs in France, the first in 1977 and the second in 2005, ended in failure. Creating incentives for departure might also backfire by encouraging migration for the purpose of collecting the offered benefits and by convincing those in the home country that Europe is drowning in cash, ready to be exploited.
As many countries become aware that the longterm effects of a brain drain outweigh any shortterm benefits from remittances, some have themselves begun to discourage emigration. The Algerian Ministry of Religious Affairs, for example, issued a fatwa (religious edict) decreeing that illegal immigrants who die at sea have committed suicide, a sin in Islam. 
Tightening immigration laws is an obvious strategy, but one that is undercut by inconsistent regulations among EU states. Sweden, long the destination of choice for Iraqi asylum seekers, saw claims drop after it tightened its regulations, although there was an increase in asylum claims in neighboring Norway during the same period. Tough marriage immigration laws in the Netherlands likewise encouraged the creation of the "Belgian Route," in which the non-EU spouse first comes to Belgium, using that country's laxer marriage-immigration laws. After the couple stay in the country for the minimum amount of time required by EU law, they move to the Netherlands. A recent EU Court decision, however, scrapped the requirement for a minimum stay and rejected any national restrictions on free movement.  Judicial activism compounds the problem when courts create new legislation by imposing their own opinions on elected lawmakers.
In two such recent cases, for example, courts struck down laws intended to prevent immigration. A court in Amsterdam rejected a requirement for immigrants from certain countries to undergo integration testing and to prove their knowledge of Dutch language and culture in their home countries before receiving a visa to the Netherlands for marriage immigration.  The high court in Belgium struck down a law preventing the children of polygamous marriages from immigrating to Belgium in order to reunite with their father and, thereby, opened the option for the polygamous spouse to do the same. 
As these countries are EU members, they also subordinate national law to European Union directives and to the decisions of the European Court. For example, in recent years, both Denmark and the Netherlands have passed laws limiting family reunification. In both cases, marriage immigration dropped significantly from about 60 to 38 percent in four years, 2001-2005, for Denmark,  and from 56 to 27 percent for Dutch Turks and 57 to 23 percent for Dutch Moroccans over a five year period beginning in 2001.  However, in July, 2008, the European Court prohibited member states from denying residence permits to non-EU spouses of EU citizens or residents.  This ruling caused a political crisis in Denmark, but it holds for all other countries as well, and, in practice, prevents them from stopping marriage immigration.
The West has always been proud of its moral standard of protecting human rights and giving refuge to persecuted individuals. Referral to human rights has catalyzed immigration. For example, the right to marry is recognized as a fundamental right that, in many European countries, brings conveyance of citizenship. However, in a society where arranged marriages are the norm and forced marriages are common, the right to marry can easily place the law on the side of the aggressor who coerces somebody else to marry, rather than on the side of the victim. Redefining refugee status by creating so many categories that fulfil it renders that status meaningless. Not only does it encourage economic immigration, it actually hurts those who truly need refuge.
 Ural Manço, "Turks in Europe: From a Garbled Image to the Complexity of Migrant Social Reality," Centre d'Etudes Sociologiques, Facultes Universitaires Saint-Louis, Brussels, Belgium, accessed Dec. 30, 2008.
 BBC News, Aug. 22, 2006.
 Hans Van Amersfoort and Rinus Penninx, "Regulating Migration in Europe: The Dutch Experience, 1960-92," Strategies for Immigration Control: An International Comparison [Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science] (London: Sage Publications, 1994), pp. 133-46.
 Maarten Alders, "Prognose van gezinsvormende migratie van Turken en Marokkanen," Bevolkingstrends, 2nd quarter, 2005, pp. 46-9.
 Jorgen S. Nielsen, Muslims in Western Europe: Islamic Surveys (New York: Columbia University Press, Oct.1992), pp. 25-6.
 Unni Wikan, Generous Betrayal: Politics of Culture in the New Europe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), pp. 234, ftnt. 24.
 Ibid., p. 201-2.
 The Local (Stockholm), Nov. 29, 2007.
 BBC News, Aug. 16, 2006.
 Wikan, Generous Betrayal, p. 194.
 Ibid., p. 242, ftnt. 76.
 Hind Fraihi, Undercover in Klein-Marokko, Achter de Gesloten Duren van de Radicale Islam (Leuven: Uitgeverij Van Halewyck, 2006), p. 78.
 Hilâl Yalçin, Ina Lodewyckx, Rudy Marynissen, and Rut Van Caudenberg, Verliefd verloofd..gemigreerd. Een onderzoek naar Turkse huwelijksmigratie in Vlaanderen, (Antwerp: Steunpunt Gelijkekansenbeleid, University of Antwerp-University of Hasselt, 2006), p. 186-91.
 Fraihi, Undercover in Klein-Marokko, p. 78.
 Dagens Medisin (Oslo), Mar. 8, 2007.
 Joop Garssen and Han Nicolaas, "Fertility of Turkish and Moroccan Women in the Netherlands: Adjustment to native level within one generation," Demographic Research, July 18, 2008, pp. 1249-80.
 Ina Lodewyckx, Johan Geets, and Christiane Timmerman, reds., Aspecten van Marokkaanse huwelijksmigratie en Marokkaans familierecht (Antwerp: Steunpunt Gelijkekansenbeleid, University of Antwerp-University of Hasselt, 2006); Yalçin, et. al., Verliefd verloofd..gemigreerd. Een onderzoek naar Turkse huwelijksmigratie in Vlaanderen, p. 160.
 Fraihi, Undercover in Klein-Marokko, p. 54.
 Van Amersfoort and Penninx, "Regulating Migration in Europe: The Dutch Experience, 1960-92," pp. 133-46.
 Wikan, Generous Betrayal, p. 216.
 Ibid., pp. 39-41.
 Aftenposten (Oslo), May 15, 2007.
 Lorenzo Vidino, "The Muslim Brotherhood's Conquest of Europe," Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2005, pp. 25-34.
 The Houston Chronicle, Sept. 24, 1995.
 Lorenzo Vidino, Al Qaeda in Europe: The New Battleground of International Jihad (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2006), pp. 46-7.
 See, for example, Andrew Hollin, "Dissident Watch: Mehdi Kazemi," Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2008, p. 96.
 VG Nett (Oslo), June 6, 2006.
 Nederlands Dagblad (Barneveld), July 4, 2008.
 Dagbladet (Oslo), July 18, 2008.
 Wikan, Generous Betrayal, pp. 39-41.
 Aftenposten, July 27, 2007.
 BBC News, Sept. 20, 2007.
 Yalçin, et. al., Verliefd verloofd..gemigreerd. Een onderzoek naar Turkse huwelijksmigratie in Vlaanderen, pp. 186-91.
 Adnkronos International News, Apr. 29, 2008.
 Metock and Others, Case C127/08, The Court of Justice of the European Communities, July 25, 2008.
 De Telegraaf (Amsterdam), July 15, 2008.
 HLN, July 10, 2008.
 The Copenhagen Post, Nov. 7, 2007.
 "Minder migratiehuwelijken Turken en Marokkanen," Netherlands Statistics, The Hague and Heerlen, Jan. 7, 2008, accessed Jan. 16, 2008.
 Metock and Others, Case C-127/08.
Europe, Europeans, & American Foreign Policy
United States Immigration, Assimilation, & National Security Policy:
Immigration into the U.S.A., Legal & Illegal Aliens,
& U.S. Border Control
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
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Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
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American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East
International Politics & World Disorder:
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Esther Ben-David is an independent researcher of Islam in Europe. Her blog at islamineurope.blogspot.com offers translations of news stories and studies from various European sources.
The foregoing article by Esther Ben-David was originally published in the Middle East Quarterly, Spring, 2009, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (Article URL: http://www.meforum.org/article/2107/ europe-shifting-immigration-dynamic)
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