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U.S. Losing Ground in Competitive Immigration

Author: Edward Alden, Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow
July 27, 2010
World Politics Review


At the 2008 summer Olympic Games in Beijing, the New York Times columnist Tom Friedman observed something intriguing about the powerful American team, which won the overall medal count for the games. After wandering through the athletes' village, he noted, "The Russian team all looks Russian; the African teams all look African; the Chinese team all looks Chinese; and the American team looks like all of them." The United States, Friedman said, is the clearest example of a nation whose "strength comes from diversity."

The most powerful nations in history have all followed a similar formula. In "Day of Empire," a masterful survey of the rise and fall of empires from Ancient Rome to the contemporary United States, Yale law professor Amy Chua writes, "At any given historical moment, the most valuable human capital the world has to offer -- whether in the form of intelligence, physical strength, skill, knowledge, creativity, networks, commercial innovation or technological invention -- is never to be found in any one locale or within any one ethnic or religious group. To pull away from its rivals on a global scale, a society must pull into itself and motivate the world's best and brightest, regardless of ethnicity, religion or background."

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