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American Conservative Op-Ed: Big Brother Says, ‘Open Your Mouth!’

June 10, 2013 in Politics & Elections

The Bill of Rights is and should be popular. It is something most Americans overwhelmingly support. Conservatives love the Second Amendment and honest progressives defend the First Amendment. But it is sometimes harder for the public to embrace and champion the due process of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth amendments.
Why? Because to defend due process sometimes means defending trials, lawyers, and privacy for people accused of heinous crimes. Understandably, some don’t choose to think about the fact that the worst imaginable people in our society are still guaranteed rights as citizens-the right to trial by jury, the right to an attorney, the right to be free from suspicionless searches.
Who would want to defend the rights of awful rapists and murderers? The easy response is that we defend due process to try to ensure that the person who is punished is guilty of the crime. There have been times in our country’s history when due process was ignored or absent. The lynching of black men in the South is the most egregious. The internment of Japanese Americans during World War Ii is another stain on our history when we strayed from due process.
Last year, President Obama signed into law a bill that allows for the indefinite detention without charge of an American citizen. When I asked a fellow Senator if this meant that an American citizen could be sent to Guantanamo Bay without charge or jury trial, and be indefinitely detained for the rest of their life, he responded: ‘If they are dangerous.’
But this only begs the question: Who gets to decide if they are dangerous?
We have a Bill if Rights to protect us-innocent, law-abiding Americans citizens, not criminals, not terrorists, not enemies.
The Bill of Rights exists to protect citizens like Richard Jewell, the security guard whose efforts helped save lives during the bombing of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. After the bombing, Jewell became a suspect in the investigation and was quickly convicted in the court of public opinion. Everyone rushed to label him a terrorist.
After 88 days of media speculation and slander, Jewell was formally cleared of all charges. They eventually caught the real culprit who set the bombs. Today, one could easily imagine some calling for Jewell’s constitutional rights to be waived and for him to be indefinitely detained as an enemy combatant.
But luckily for Jewell, and all Americans, we have a Bill of Rights that protects us.
If …read more


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Learn the Lessons from Iraq

June 10, 2013 in Economics

By Justin Logan

Justin Logan

Over the past 10 years, America has fought in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and across the Arabian Peninsula. The last thing it needs today is another war in the Muslim world.

The last thing America needs today is another war in the Muslim world.”

The first reason is that Iran, despite media reports, is not about to acquire a nuclear weapon. As the IAEA report indicated, there has been no diversion of fissile material from known facilities inside Iran, and without fissile material that the Iranians could enrich to the levels required for a nuclear weapon, they cannot go nuclear. Iran would need either to throw out the inspectors and divert their existing stocks or else develop very large enrichment facilities without their being detected by the outside world. Throwing out the inspectors would be easily observable, and it is unlikely that Iran has covert facilities sufficient to make it a nuclear weapons state any time soon.

Additionally, bombing Iran would merely delay, not stop, its nuclear program. It would also harden Iranians’ belief that they need a bomb to protect themselves from the United States and Israel. The different lessons taught by Iraq and Libya on the one hand, and North Korea on the other, would become even starker. The massive bombing campaign that would be required to hit the important sites in Iran also risks rallying the Iranian population behind a regime that has been bleeding legitimacy for years. Iran’s likely response could turn the entire Middle East—including Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan—into a burbling cauldron of violence.

Eight years ago, the foreign-policy establishment of both the Democratic and Republican parties led the American people into a war in Iraq that has had devastating consequences for America and for the world. Many of those same elites are currently issuing calls for another war in the Middle East. Most people who bought lemons from one car dealership go elsewhere to buy their next ones. Given the much greater stakes involved in making war compared to buying a car, Americans ought to think long and hard about buying another war from the same people who brought us Iraq.

Justin Logan is director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.

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Source: OP-EDS

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Turkey Is Different

June 10, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Protesters have taken to the streets in Istanbul, Turkey’s first city. The metropolis is a vibrant mix of cultures, as Byzantium lurks in the shadow of Islam. Geographically the city and country are divided between East and West by the Bosporus Strait. Politically Turkey is drawn by both the past and the future.

The planned demolition of a small park in central Istanbul triggered demonstrations in Istanbul. The heavy-handed response by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government spurred protests across the nation. Then came a flood of predictions that the “Turkish Spring” was set to sweep away yet another authoritarian regime.

Yet Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) was democratically elected, triumphing in three straight elections, winning a larger portion of the vote each time. One reason for Erdogan’s success is that he has systematically dismantled the authoritarian, military-dominated system that controlled the Republic of Turkey since its founding in 1923.

Although liberal and secular elites worry that he is constructing a more Islamist and repressive system, Erdogan retains the support of his traditional political base. The prime minister has been weakened, but continues to dominate Turkish politics.

Modern Turkey was born out of the rubble of the Ottoman Empire, which collapsed at the end of World War I. Military leader Mustafa Kemal Pasha, played a leading role during the conflict’s tumultuous aftermath and became Turkey’s first president. He took on the name Ataturk (“Father of the Turks”) and his image still dominates the modern nation. His statue dots city squares and his photo adorns shop walls across the land.

Turkey’s capital, Ankara, hosts a massive mausoleum and memorial that covers an entire city block. Official honorifics are routinely piled upon any mention of his name. For years anyone disrespecting his memory or destroying objects with his image faced jail. Only in North Korea have I seen a similarly suffocating personality cult.

Ataturk was determined to modernize the country, turning ruthless nationalism and secularism into Turkey’s governing philosophy enforced by a one-party state. More genuine democracy emerged after his death but the military still dominated, staging three hard coups, the last in 1980, and a softer variant in 1997.

There should be no nostalgia for the “good old days.” The military jailed and tortured opponents. The generals even executed ousted civilian leaders in 1961. Ethnic minorities like the Kurds faced brutal military oppression; tens of thousands of people died and thousands of Kurdish villages were destroyed as …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How to End the War on Terrorism Properly

June 10, 2013 in Economics

By Christopher A. Preble, Mieke Eoyang

Christopher A. Preble and Mieke Eoyang

In his speech on counterterrorism last month, President Barack Obama said something both profound and overdue — the war underway since 2001 should end, not just factually but also legally. Outlining his views, the president said he wanted to “refine, and ultimately repeal,” the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), the main legislative vehicle governing U.S. counterterrorism operations around the world. He also pledged not to sign laws designed to expand this mandate further.

The most successful counterterrorism operations involve timely intelligence collection and analysis, not open-ended military operations involving large deployments of U.S. troops.”

But to make that goal a concrete reality, the president should have called for legislation repealing the administration’s authority for war — sunsetting the AUMF, which provides the legal authorization for our troops in Afghanistan, once combat operations there conclude at the end of 2014. Future counterterrorism operations can rely on the plentiful authorities the executive branch already has, including some that have been added since 9/11. And if this president — or any other in the future — needs greater war powers to deal with a threat, they can return to Congress and ask for specific, limited authorities tailored to address the future challenge.

The fact is that while there are other ways the AUMF could be usefully altered, a clean repeal has significant advantages.

From an operational perspective, the AUMF authorizes military force, but we’re winding down our operations in Afghanistan. Our military presence there helped decimate core al Qaeda, leaving them a shadow of their former selves. And this matters, for without the organizational support and training from core al Qaeda’s veteran operational commanders — most of whom are either dead or incarcerated — most self-radicalized terrorists are caught long before their plots are successful. Military operations should be the mechanism of last resort to deal with terrorist plots, especially outside war zones like Afghanistan.

The most successful counterterrorism operations involve timely intelligence collection and analysis, and cooperation with local officials, not open-ended military operations involving large deployments of U.S. troops. Law enforcement or intelligence services identified and disrupted multiple other plans over the years. These mechanisms do not rely upon the AUMF, so an eventual clean repeal won’t affect our ability to disrupt plots.

Conservatives who revere the Constitution should be most reluctant to hand over unending powers to the president. As James Madison …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Killing with Kindness: How Foreign Aid Backfires

June 10, 2013 in Economics

By Malou Innocent

Malou Innocent

Whether Washington calls it capacity building, counter-insurgency, short-term emergency relief or long-term foreign assistance, its multi-decade mission to bring economic development to faraway lands often falls short of achieving its desired outcomes. At the Cato Institute last Wednesday, George Mason University Economics Professor Christopher J. Coyne explained why, presenting the central arguments of his new book, “Doing Bad by Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Fails.”

Washington’s multi-decade mission to bring economic development to faraway lands often falls short of achieving its desired outcomes.”

As summarized in this Cato Daily Podcast, Coyne argues that even though coercive and non-coercive forms of state-led humanitarian action can alleviate short-term human suffering, it cannot replicate individual instances of success systematically. Challenging those arguments was Dr. M. Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Their discussion proved informative, contentious and was overall well-received, but left under-explored one of the book’s key conclusions, specifically about the allocation of aid — that is, political competition among entrenched bureaucracies typically trumps the selfless moral imperative to help those in need. Humanitarian efforts typically flop because of vested interests, perverse incentives and clashing missions.

Similar problems hamstrung a major food aid initiative in Vietnam, as retired Foreign Service Officer Jaime L. Manzano shared with me and Coyne after the book forum:

U.S. agricultural surpluses available under PL 480 [the law that created the Office of Food for Peace] can be granted or sold in less developed countries to generate local currencies. These funds are used to cover budgets in recipient countries and meet U.S. agency needs to cover local budgetary expenditures that their operations require.

In the early 60’s, the U.S. Mission in Vietnam requested PL 480 to ship rice to the country. The rice was to be sold in the Saigon market for local currencies and then used to pay for the training and salaries of South Vietnamese soldiers.

Vietnam was a rice exporting country. It had no shortage of the commodity. But the country team argued that the cost of rice was high, and that it needed local currency to pursue the war.

A review of the program showed that local rice was indeed available, and that should PL 480 rice be sent to Saigon, prices would plummet. Rice producers, the small farmers in rural areas where the war was being fought, would become disaffected from the government …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Bloomberg’s Moral Myopia

June 10, 2013 in Economics

By Hunter Lewis

Bloomberg View (the editorial page) has an article today entitled: “When Market Incentives Undermine Morality” by economists Daniel Friedman and Daniel McNeill, authors of Morals and Markets: The Dangerous Balance, of which the piece is an excerpt.

The article claims to offer an example of how “markets” can “degrade” our “moral behavior.” The particulars concern anemia drugs that have made billions but which may not do any good for kidney patients and may actually cause harm. The authors describe a system in which drug companies pay for a government issued  patent on a substance, then spend an average of $1 billion getting FDA approval, after which they enjoy a government enforced monopoly. Older drugs not approved for the specified use and in particular natural substances, which cannot be patented and are therefore  ineligible for FDA approval, may not make any disease claims or otherwise compete. If anyone violates the monopoly, they may face not just fines, but jail.

None of this has anything to do with the “market.” We haven’t had a real market in healthcare for decades. Yet Friedman and McNeill don’t hesitate to  blame the resulting inefficiency, deceit, and corruption on the “market” or “market incentives.”This is truly Alice In Wonderland thinking. How can anyone confuse a market system with a government run crony capitalist monopoly system run by the FDA, which is itself increasingly funded not by taxpayers but directly by drug companies, whose staff hopes to move on to highly paid drug company jobs, and whose expert panels are full of drug company “consultants.”

McNeill is also the author of a book called Fuzzy Logic, which presumably he is against. But confusing markets with government enforced monopoly is not just fuzzy logic. It is complete moral myopia.

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