September 01, 2008

 

It IS time....

From: The Western Standard
http://westernstandard.blogs.com/shotgun/2008/08/us-political-sc.html

U.S. political scientists fear Canadian Human Rights Commission
Posted by: P.M. Jaworski

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The American Political Science Association - the largest association for political scientists in the world - is planning to host its 2009 annual conference in Toronto. That has some political scientists sufficiently concerned to start a petition to keep the event out of Canada.

What are they afraid of? According to an article by former Western Standard editor Kevin Libin, these political scientists are concerned that some of their fellow academics will get ensnared by Canada's Human Rights Commissions.

"Our belief is that most Americans - even APSA members - have no idea how precarious the rights of freedom of speech and conscience are in Canada," said Bradley Watson, professor of American and Western political thought at Pennsylvania's St. Vincent College.

Marquette Warrior has the entire text of the petition. A couple of excerpts:
"And whereas Canada’s Human Rights Commissions (HRCs) have recently sought to suppress speech and impose legal penalties on speakers for expressing opinions on issues ranging from the morality of homosexual conduct and the question of legal recognition of same-sex unions to the threat to freedom posed by violent extremists acting in the name of Islam - speech that, according to all accounts, would be protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States;

"And whereas, while we know of no direct suppression of academic freedom that has yet occurred in Canada, yet the writ of Canada’s HRCs runs without evident limit to encompass any speech, academic or otherwise, to which potential complainants take “offense” - and whereas, the arbitrariness and procedurally unconstrained practices of the HRCs create an air of uncertainty regarding whose speech, on what subjects, before what audiences, will be targeted next;

"And whereas members of the Association ought to be able at the 2009 annual meeting to present research and argument on controversial topics, such as public policy concerning homosexuality or the character of and proper response to terrorist elements acting in the name of Islam, without fear of legal repercussions of any kind,

"THEREFORE we petition the Council and staff of the APSA to take all steps necessary to ensure that academic freedom and free speech, even on controversial topics such as these, are not threatened at the 2009 annual meeting, including soliciting legal advice and seeking the assurance of the Government of Canada and local authorities that the civil rights and liberties of members to free speech and academic freedom will be secure."

My thoughts: I am embarrassed by the Canadian Human Rights Commissions. That a group of academics would fear speaking freely in Canada on controversial subjects is outrageous. It is time for us not to look to fiddle with the Canadian Human Rights Commissions to make them work.

It is time to abolish this un-Canadian and humiliating organ of Orwellian state speech suppression. Not amend, not adjust, not "make reasonable changes," but abolish.

Copyright 2008 - The Western Standard >> Permalink

 

Some points to ponder....

From: TCS Daily
http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=012406J

Of Patriotism and Puppet Shows
By: Douglas Kern -
BIO
25 Jan 2006

"You've figured out by now," said the defense attorney, interrupting my self-righteous lecture about victim's rights, "that our job is mostly putting on a puppet show for the goobers, haven't you?"

He was one of those sly, razor-sharp criminal attorneys who prowl the rural counties of the United States - an insightful, reflective soul hiding his intelligence under a thick coat of good-ol'-boy affectations.

"The public wants justice the way they see it on TV," he continued, "with lawyers giving speeches and making motions and objections, and everything wrapped up by the end of the hour, just in time for cat litter commercials. And that's what we do. I listen to these goobers tell me their life stories and their pathetic lies, and I nod my head and sympathize and charge 'em my hourly fee all the while. Come the pre-trial conference, you'll make a deal that I'll know is fair, but I'll reject it with some crazy speech about how my client is innocent and demands a trial and blah blah blah. I'll file a bunch of motions with no merit at all, you'll win at the hearings, and I'll tell my client how he was robbed and how unfair the whole damn thing is - all for that hourly fee! On the day of trial, I'll take the moron into the library after letting him take a good hard look at the gathering jury pool. I'll put on my best grown-up voice, tell him his case is hopeless and that the prosecutor is an fool for offering such a sweet deal, but that he's a bigger fool if he doesn't take the offer right now, this very minute. So he takes the offer and pumps my hand, the county saves the cost of a trial, I get paid with checks that clear, and you... do whatever it is prosecutors do. I wouldn't know. We play the game, and the goobers think they get justice, and everyone is pretty happy."

"So this is all a game to you." I said. "Guilt, innocence, crime and punishment - it's all just a sideshow for the masses?"

"Look... justice is a hard, ugly thing. I don't know what's 'just.' Do you? A guy punches another guy in the face; breaks his nose. Does he deserve a fine? Prison? For how long? Who knows? We have to balance so many things: the guy's background, his family and who's gonna feed them, how crowded the jail is, the legality of the evidence... it's all arbitrary as hell. So we pretend. We give our speeches in court about what's right and good, and then we do what we must to make this community work. So, yes, it's a game. The object of the game is to get paid and go home at a reasonable hour, and a good puppet show accomplishes both. And I'd rather have a puppet show than have crazy idealist dum-dums like you waste time and money arguing about Truth and Justice and other egghead stuff that might start a war if anyone could figure out all those Latin phrases and five-dollar Ivy League words."

I dismissed the attorney's tirade as hot air from a jaded old ambulance chaser. But, eventually, every serious criminal attorney feels like a puppet in a show. You make your best arguments, you marshal the finest evidence, you rant and rave and wag your finger from the podium, and yet the judge and jury act with serene indifference to your pleas. The absurd legal fictions, the shadowboxing of motions and objections, the empty rhetoric of the opening and closing statements - these things don't seem to serve Truth and Justice. They are rhetorical props to bolster the faded majesty of the law. They are, in their little ways, noble lies.

I thought of my puppet-show conversation while reading National Review's the Corner this month. As a discussion of the motives of intelligent design advocates drifted to the broader question of "the noble lie" in free societies, Steven Hayward contributed this observation:

At the heart of the Straussian idea of esotericism is the idea that philosophical inquiry is always subversive because all claims to justice have weaknesses or inadequacies and therefore the basis of all regimes is potentially unstable. A political philosopher in a decent regime would want to be careful not to undermine that regime's decency through popular criticism of a regime's weaknesses, in which case a worse regime will almost always follow. The same line of inquiry that seeks to illuminate the weaknesses of claims to justice will also counsel the necessity of prudence that justice itself requires.
Liberalism eats itself. (And by liberalism, I mean the rights-based liberalism of Locke and the Founding Fathers, rather than the popular moniker for leftism.) Liberalism cannot accept its own validity because it cannot cease to pick at the scabs of its "weaknesses or inadequacies." Liberalism is a rational and open system of governance, and such a system encourages endless questioning and self-scrutiny. This self-scrutiny promotes honesty, tolerance, and moral progress, but it also breeds self-doubt and instability. Nothing is ever permanently settled when one really convincing argument can change everything.

Liberalism only accepts arrangements and authorities that can provide reasonable, convincing answers to the question "Why?" But all societies rest upon unreasonable and somewhat arbitrary assertions about what the good is, and how to preserve it. Inquiry into such assertions either ends in tautology ("It just is") or recourse to the transcendent; either way, such inquiry ends in the unanswerable. Liberalism will not accept "It just is" or "God says so" or even the lame compromise of "The nature of man requires it" as an answer. Such answers rest upon fundamental beliefs about the world rather than rational proofs, and liberalism can only tolerate beliefs - it cannot endorse them.

Moreover, for all its rationality, liberalism requires irrational sacrifices. It is irrational to vote, when your single vote won't matter. It is irrational to involve yourself in political controversies that will never affect you. It is irrational to volunteer to die in combat for your country, when you could stay at home and lead a rich, fulfilling life. A rational, liberal society will wither and die without citizens willing to act irrationally and illiberally in defense of rationality and liberalism. And yet liberalism cannot privilege such selfless, irrational acts; to the extent that liberal societies do so, they indulge in unprincipled exceptions.

To survive, liberalism cannot be entirely consistent. We conceal this fact from ourselves with noble lies, and puppet shows.

The dishonesty of the charade troubles us. Nagging in the back of the mind of every modern leftist (and not a few weak-kneed "conservatives") is the belief that anyone who berates the Western way of life has somehow figured us out. So Osama bin Laden denounces us as decadent and corrupt? The leftist denies the claim, and yet, deep down, an awful fear haunts him: he's on to us. Saddam Hussein decries his trial as illegal and immoral; the progressive disagrees, and yet he wonders: as no legitimate body authorized the trial, isn't this a case of might makes right? The Taliban condemns the West as sinful for allowing its women to parade around unveiled; the conservative is appalled, and yet in the wee small hours of the night he ponders: ours is a nation saturated in pornography and indecency, and we export our sins worldwide; do we deserve to be condemned?

At the national level, we compensate for our self-doubt by electing confident leaders. At the local level, we guard our cherished principles of justice with the vaudeville of law's majesty. Occasionally, every decent regime must make the puppets dance on the string, whirling and jigging and singing their songs of honor and dignity, while sordid deals are struck in the side-halls of democracy. Perfect liberalism requires much, much more than the kind of effort that hillbilly litigators and $35,000-a-year prosecutors can provide. But, eventually, every liberal society must entrust the daily implementation of its lofty ideals to underpaid men in cheap suits who deliver stupid speeches in rural courtrooms in order to get paid. And so, in the name of an ideal we revere but cannot fully achieve, the show goes on.

We who deal in the laws of a free people are puppeteers. We must be so. The law may be a turd in cheap cologne, but the lawyer's job is to pretend otherwise - because our system works better than any other, and because we have no choice but to make it work. We have to give the appearance that we possess the wisdom and authority needed to make our society function. We have to make believe that our culture possesses an exclamation point as strong and as firm as the question mark of liberalism. So on with the courtroom pomp and ceremony, on with the bluster and posturing! Dance, puppets, dance!

Does the indignity of a puppet show offend you? It shouldn't. You, too, are a puppeteer, and you are your own puppet. You, too, strut and fret your role on the stage of citizenship. You, too, pretend. Hardly anyone is good enough to be a fully responsible citizen in a free society; rare is the man conscientious enough, educated enough, virtuous enough, selfless enough, and attentive enough to execute all the duties that free citizens must perform. Have you sacrificed for the good of your neighbors? Fought in your country's wars? Resisted vice? Carefully considered and cast every possible vote, from president to dogcatcher? Paid all your taxes? Obeyed every law? Probably not. But we play the role of "Doughty Yeoman in the Virtuous Republic" just the same, hoping to be ennobled by the pretense.

And we are ennobled, at least in part. When it matters, the puppets go away. For example: when the crimes were serious and the legal disputes were real, we small-town red-state lawyers put aside our canned speeches and our false sincerity and lawyered the hell out of those cases - and achieved just and decent verdicts. For all the lazy half-assed paperwork, for all the Kabuki theater drama of pretending to fight cases whose outcomes were predetermined, we did our jobs when it counted, and we did them well. The same is true for most Americans. For all our faults as free citizens, we have preserved our freedoms against every enemy, including the worst foe of all: our own doubt and irresolution.

But men who doubt themselves need puppet-shows. They need little passion plays to affirm the dignity of a frequently silly and corrupt form of governance, lest something more dignified but less humane rise to power. Ours is a system of laws administered by flawed and small-souled lawyers to foolish and wicked men; such a system cannot survive without the pantomimes of solemnity. Perhaps conservative wisdom lies in knowing the truth of puppets, and what can be accomplished with their fragile wooden hands.

The writer is a lawyer and TCS contributor.

Copyright 2006 - TCS Daily

 

Do we have the will to defend what is right?

From: The Jerusalem Post
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1218446184666&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

Fundamentally Freund: From Tbilisi to Teheran
By: MICHAEL FREUND
Aug 12, 2008

As the Russian bear plunges its claws into the heart of its much smaller neighbor Georgia, few outside the region seem to appreciate the danger posed by Moscow's latest aggression. While many might have difficulty finding Georgia on the map, that in no way detracts from the significance of the situation. Israel and the West would be making a grave error if they merely shrug and issue a few perfunctory press releases in response to this perilous development.

How this crisis plays out will have a direct impact on the ability of Israel and the US to confront an even greater menace that lies just around the corner - Iran and its stubborn drive to build nuclear weapons.

Here's why: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is testing the West's mettle. He senses weakness, and is using the conflict with Georgia, a close ally of Washington, to see to what extent the US and Europe will stand up for their friends and their own interests.

In recent years, Russia has become increasingly assertive on the international stage, frequently seeking to undermine Western policy. From North Korea's nuclear program to Kosovo's drive for independence from Serbia, Moscow has taken stances directly opposed to those of the US.

But the invasion of Georgia constitutes a serious escalation, as Russia is no longer confining its mischief to the realm of diplomacy.

The small Caucasus nation has been an outspoken friend of Washington, steadfastly supporting the war on terror and maintaining a sizable troop presence in Iraq. Just four months ago, at a summit in Bucharest, NATO agreed to invite Georgia to join the alliance. By raping Georgia in public, Putin is thumbing his nose at the entire Western alliance.

So far, the success of his little experiment has been clear. Putin pounces on his neighbor with abandon, violating Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and indiscriminately bombing innocent civilians with little more than ineffectual expressions of outrage from Paris, London and Washington.

Ostensibly, the Kremlin claims it is merely acting to protect the large Russian population that lives in the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But it is easy to see through the smoke screen of Russian propaganda. For one thing, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili agreed over the weekend to a cease-fire and began withdrawing his country's troops from South Ossetia.

That didn't stop Putin from pressing forward with disproportionate attacks, as Russia sent armored columns deeper into Georgian territory.

Moreover, it is hard to take Russia's claims seriously, if only because of their transparent hypocrisy. When the province of Chechnya sought to break away from Russia, Moscow refused to countenance the idea and instead bombed the region into submission. But when South Ossetia and Abkhazia seek to secede from Georgia, Russia chooses to defend their right to do so, despite the glaring contradiction in Moscow's stance.

Russia is motivated by one principle alone: the pursuit of its own interests - even if that means storming an internationally recognized border and threatening to bring down the democratically elected government in Tbilisi.

This can not be allowed to stand. Russia's move into Georgia will have ramifications far beyond the Caucasus. It will send a shiver down the spines of decision-makers in countries such as Poland, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, all of whom might now think twice before deepening their romances with the West.

And if allowed to go unanswered, the attack on Georgia will strengthen Russia's resolve to further undercut key Western interests.

That is where Iran comes into play. The ayatollahs are glued to their television screens, waiting to see how the West responds. After all, in recent years Moscow has stood by Iran's side in the face of mounting Western pressure. Russia has been supplying Iran with materials for its nuclear program. And the Kremlin is planning to ship advanced anti-aircraft systems to the Iranians that are aimed at making it harder for Israel or the US to take out their nuclear installations.

While Moscow has thus far voted in favor of three UN Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on Teheran, it has only done so after it succeeded in watering them down and delaying their implementation.

But a newly emboldened Russia will prove to be even more troublesome when it comes time to confront Iran and stop its drive toward nuclear weapons.

If Putin sees that the West is a paper tiger and allows Georgia to be trampled, then he likely will not hesitate to block additional Western efforts to strip Iran of its nuclear ambitions. An atomic Iran, Putin realizes, would further expose the powerlessness of the West, as well as heighten its sense of vulnerability. Consequently, he may be tempted to defy the West yet again, on an issue even closer to its heart, in an effort to push the envelope.

The ayatollahs know this all too well, and will be encouraged to continue their mad drive for atomic power, confident in the knowledge that they have little to fear.

It is therefore essential that strong and immediate measures be taken to punish Russia for its Georgian adventure and strip it of any illusions it may have about a lack of Western resolve. These might include moving quickly to bring Georgia formally into NATO, suspending Russia's membership in the "Group of 8" leading industrialized nations and freezing talks recently launched with the European Union on a new EU-Russia agreement.

Whatever course is decided upon, Moscow must be made to pay a heavy economic, political and diplomatic price for its actions, lest it persist in causing still greater harm.

As the crow flies, the road from Tbilisi to Teheran is more than 1,100 kilometers long. But if the West now fails to act, it may soon find that the distance between the two is far less than it imagined.

Copyright 2008 - The Jerusalem Post

 

More trouble brewing....

From: Freedom is My Nationality
http://freedomnation.blogspot.com/2008/07/native-group-declares-war-on-state.html

A native group declares war on the State
Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Labels: , , .

I feel like I am justified in saying that I told you so. So I will say it… I told you so.

A group of natives have occupied another construction site in Southern Ontario. This time it is in Brantford. It is an undeniable truth that when you do not enforce the law people stop obeying the law. The law was not enforced in Caledonia. The rights of property owners were not protected. Is there another out there, besides the Liberal government, who is shocked that it is happening again?

A few months ago I participated in an Ontario Model Parliament. I somewhat flippantly yelled out that the Caledonian occupiers were terrorists when someone in the Liberal benches referenced them. A Liberal stood up and demanded that I should apologise. The Speaker of the House called upon me to make a statement and I refused to apologise. I defended my statement by saying that those that use terror and crime for political gain are thugs and terrorists. I warned the House that if they are not stopped civil unrest will ensue.

Now we have people getting away with punching police officers. We have citizens claiming that;
"This is war," said Steve Powless, a spokesman for the Six Nations
protesters, standing outside the fence of the Kingspan site, outside of which there were two canvas tents and a teepee where about a dozen natives had been sleeping over the weekend. "I'm a solider. I'm here to fight."
What is the government for? Why do we have a Leviathan? It is to keep the peace and to prevent exactly this sort of thing from happening. Even Thomas Hobbes would grant that the people of Branton now have the right to revolt against the government. The Ontario Government is not holding up its side of the bargain.

I have to give credit to the Brantford government. They had the courage to exercise their right and demand the protection of the Canadian Forces. They went further and demanded that their economic damages should be repaid.

What will the government’s reaction be? To negotiate? How much land must be come lawless before they act? How much chaos are they willing to tolerate?

Calling them terrorists is putting it crudely. What they are truly is the vehicle of chaos; the collapse of civil society and the ultimate failure of government.

Copyright 2008 - freedomnation.blogspot.com

 

We need the resolve to defend our freedoms....

From: The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/11/opinion/11kristol.html

Will Russia Get Away With It?
By: William Kristol
August 11, 2008

In August 1924, the small nation of Georgia, occupied by Soviet Russia since 1921, rose up against Soviet rule. On Sept. 16, 1924, The Times of London reported on an appeal by the president of the Georgian Republic to the League of Nations. While “sympathetic reference to his country’s efforts was made” in the Assembly, the Times said, “it is realized that the League is incapable of rendering material aid, and that the moral influence which may be a powerful force with civilized countries is unlikely to make any impression upon Soviet Russia.”

“Unlikely” was an understatement. Georgians did not enjoy freedom again until 1991.

Today, the Vladimir Putins and Hu Jintaos and Mahmoud Ahmadinejads of the world - to say nothing of their junior counterparts in places like Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma and North Korea - are no more likely than were Soviet leaders in 1924 to be swayed by “moral influence.” Dictators aren’t moved by the claims of justice unarmed; aggressors aren’t intimidated by diplomacy absent the credible threat of force; fanatics aren’t deterred by the disapproval of men of moderation or refinement.

The good news is that today we don’t face threats of the magnitude of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Each of those regimes combined ruthless internal control, a willingness to engage in external aggression, and fervent adherence to an extreme ideology. Today these elements don’t coexist in one place. Russia is aggressive, China despotic, and Iran messianic - but none is as dangerous as the 20th-century totalitarian states.

The further good news is that 2008 has been, in one respect, an auspicious year for freedom and democracy. In Iraq, we and our Iraqi allies are on the verge of a strategic victory over the jihadists in what they have called the central front of their struggle. This joint victory has the potential to weaken the jihadist impulse throughout the Middle East.

On the other hand, the ability of Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas to get away with murder (literally), and above all the ability of Iran to pursue its nuclear ambitions effectively unchecked, are setbacks for hopes of peace and progress.

And there is no evidence that China’s hosting of the Olympics has led to moderation of its authoritarianism. Meanwhile, Russia has sent troops and tanks across an international border, and now seems to be widening its war against Georgia more than its original - and in any case illegitimate - casus belli would justify.

Will the United States put real pressure on Russia to stop? In a news analysis on Sunday, the New York Times reporter Helene Cooper accurately captured what I gather is the prevailing view in our State Department: “While America considers Georgia its strongest ally in the bloc of former Soviet countries, Washington needs Russia too much on big issues like Iran to risk it all to defend Georgia.”

But Georgia, a nation of about 4.6 million, has had the third-largest military presence - about 2,000 troops - fighting along with U.S. soldiers and marines in Iraq. For this reason alone, we owe Georgia a serious effort to defend its sovereignty. Surely we cannot simply stand by as an autocratic aggressor gobbles up part of - and perhaps destabilizes all of - a friendly democratic nation that we were sponsoring for NATO membership a few months ago.

For that matter, consider the implications of our turning away from Georgia for other aspiring pro-Western governments in the neighborhood, like Ukraine’s. Shouldn’t we therefore now insist that normal relations with Russia are impossible as long as the aggression continues, strongly reiterate our commitment to the territorial integrity of Georgia and Ukraine, and offer emergency military aid to Georgia?

Incidentally, has Russia really been helping much on Iran? It has gone along with - while delaying - three United Nations Security Council resolutions that have imposed mild sanctions on Iran. But it has also supplied material for Iran’s nuclear program, and is now selling Iran antiaircraft systems to protect military and nuclear installations.

It’s striking that dictatorial and aggressive and fanatical regimes - whatever their differences - seem happy to work together to weaken the influence of the United States and its democratic allies. So Russia helps Iran. Iran and North Korea help Syria. Russia and China block Security Council sanctions against Zimbabwe. China props up the regimes in Burma and North Korea.

The United States, of course, is not without resources and allies to deal with these problems and threats. But at times we seem oddly timid and uncertain.

When the “civilized world” expostulated with Russia about Georgia in 1924, the Soviet regime was still weak. In Germany, Hitler was in jail. Only 16 years later, Britain stood virtually alone against a Nazi-Soviet axis. Is it not true today, as it was in the 1920s and ’30s, that delay and irresolution on the part of the democracies simply invite future threats and graver dangers?

Copyright 2008 - The New York Times

 

New strategies in the war on terror....

From: The Wall Street Journal

We Need a New Think Tank For the War on Terror
By: JONATHAN STEVENSON

August 7, 2008; Page A11

Shortly after 9/11, in an interview for a book I was writing on how to handle terrorism as a strategic threat, the pre-eminent nuclear strategist Thomas C. Schelling remarked: "What the government really ought to do is reverse-engineer the Rand Corporation of the fifties and sixties."

During that crucial epoch, Rand helped draw a sharp distinction between first-strike and second-strike nuclear deterrence, and the dangerously offense-oriented "brinkmanship" of the 1950s gave way to the more stable defensive posture of "mutual assured destruction."

Back then, Rand was situated exclusively in Santa Monica, Calif., far away from the churn of day-to-day government policy implementation. It had uniquely broad research and budgeting standards that freed analysts to think outside the box about strategic problems. At the same time, Rand's official status as a federally funded research and development center afforded its employees high-level security clearances and access to classified information and government officials.

Today, Rand's closeness to the Pentagon and other federal agencies has narrowed its priorities. A new, government-linked think tank with an expansive mandate may be the best mechanism for incubating strategies to fight terror.

The Pentagon is finally moving in that direction with its five-year, $50 million Minerva Consortia. The initiative aims to recruit a broad spectrum of social scientists - psychologists, demographers, economists, sociologists, historians, anthropologists and security studies experts - to help figure out how to marginalize al Qaeda and its ilk. Grant proposals will be peer-reviewed to ensure high-caliber work. Under Minerva, Defense Department-sponsored research is to be open and unclassified, so that those funded can exercise their academic freedom without being afraid of being co-opted into performing ethically dicey secret work.

In the late 1950s, Mr. Schelling took time off from teaching economics at Yale to work at Rand on the problem of stabilizing nuclear deterrence. While the general theory of deterrence was elegantly simple and required few secrets to understand, honing its specific applications demanded classified technical details about nuclear explosives, bomber and missile logistics, information and launch procedures, and worst- and best-case scenarios, among other things.

Mr. Schelling had ready access to such information at Rand, and it deepened his understanding of the strategic environment. For that reason, he was able to forge groundbreaking innovations in game theory that illuminated the value of communications and even negotiations in ensuring mutual deterrence - particularly through the arms-control process - and staving off Armageddon.

Much of the work funded by Minerva will be open source, and could well involve access to people - for instance, imprisoned terrorists - who might be more inclined to speak more candidly with think-tankers than government interrogators. But for such work to have maximum worth, it will often need to be validated by and integrated with classified intelligence. If primary researchers are not privy to such information, that task will go to government analysts. From the standpoint of ensuring the academic integrity of the research, it is better for the job to remain in the hands of scholars who embrace classified access as a means of retaining control over its quality.

During the Cold War, many if not most scholars opposed U.S. foreign and security policy, and some regarded Mr. Schelling as tainted for helping to devise the "deadly logic" of nuclear deterrence. Yet at the end of the day, his access to classified information did not compromise his integrity, and the extraordinarily fertile intellectual environment at Rand early in the Cold War proved central to his success.

In 2005, Mr. Schelling finally received the Nobel Prize in economics for, in the Nobel Committee's words, "having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis" albeit "against the backdrop of the nuclear arms race in the late 1950s." That's a strong recommendation for following his advice today.

Mr. Stevenson is a professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College. His "Thinking Beyond the Unthinkable: Harnessing Doom from the Cold War to the Age of Terror," will be published this month by Viking.

Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal

 

Hope for the future of free trade

From: The Wall Street Journal

Democrats Once Did Free Trade
By: DOUGLAS A. IRWIN and AMITY SHLAES

August 2, 2008; Page A11

The failure of the Doha Round of trade negotiations seven years after its launch does not call for despair. The removal of trade barriers and the reduction of subsidies remain worthwhile objectives, and past experience has shown that difficult multilateral negotiations can be completed. But turning talks into agreements will require leadership that can endure a long, lurching process, without instant success.

Cordell Hull, America's longest serving secretary of state (1933 to 1944), was one such leader. Even today, the Tennessee Democrat should be a model for politicians of all backgrounds.

Hull believed that trade was one of the best ways to prevent a repeat of the carnage of World War I. He wrote: "Though realizing that many other factors were involved, I reasoned that, if we could get a freer flow of trade - freer in the sense of fewer discriminations and obstructions - so that one country would not be deadly jealous of another, and the living standards of all countries might rise, thereby eliminating the economic dissatisfaction that breeds war, we might have a reasonable chance for lasting peace."

Removing obstacles to trade was not easy. Congress kept tight control over its ability to write the tariff laws that governed imports of thousands of itemized products. The Republicans ruled the 1920s and were committed to protectionism. Britain turned against free trade and adopted discriminatory imperial preferences. Other countries kept wartime controls on trade in place.

Franklin Roosevelt named Hull secretary of state in 1933, but at first lent scant support to Hull's cause. New Dealers, believing that the government should manage trade and not free it, were suspicious of him. But Hull fought a hard battle to get the administration to propose and Congress to enact the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934.

This legislation, a forerunner to what we today call Trade Promotion Authority, authorized the executive branch to undertake trade agreements. It also got Congress out of the business of determining tariffs on an item-by-item basis that bred the infamous Hawley-Smoot tariff of 1930. After the act, Hull traveled to Latin America and negotiated tariff reductions that strengthened the credibility of America's "Good Neighbor Policy."

Hull's efforts to reduce trade barriers were not a big success in his day. Then, as now, Democrats were divided in their support for freer trade. With Europe heading toward war, the secretary of state's initiatives were too little too late.

Hull understood that trade was a long-term project whose benefits might emerge after he and Roosevelt left the stage. During World War II, he continued to work to foster multilateral cooperation by creating the United Nations as well as promoting trade. He worked himself sick, but Roosevelt so appreciated his drive that he nominated Hull to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, which he won in 1945.

Even after Hull retired, his spirit continued to animate U.S. policy. In 1947, the U.S. and 22 other nations met in Geneva, Switzerland, to finalize the text of the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade, or GATT. It did not go smoothly. The defiant Republican Congress passed legislation restricting imports of wool. Australia, a major wool exporter, threatened to walk out of the negotiations and bring the British Commonwealth with it, dooming the GATT.

In what Assistant Secretary of State William Clayton called "the greatest act of political courage that I have ever witnessed," President Harry Truman not only vetoed the bill, but snubbed Congress by authorizing a 25% reduction in the wool tariff. Many other stumbling blocks were overcome to conclude the agreement.

According to one recent study, the initial GATT agreements increased the trade of participating countries by nearly 100% relative to nonparticipants in the late 1940s. Nevertheless, the American plans to fold the GATT into a broader agreement under a new body, the International Trade Organization, failed completely by 1950.

Still, there was mounting evidence of the validity of Hull's ideas. Trade fostered postwar economic recovery, which ensured that Western Europe remained our ally. West Germany and Japan began to move from basket cases to economic miracles. We tend to take all this for granted today, but it did not happen by accident.

Those who are frustrated by the pace of the Doha trade negotiations today might take comfort in knowing that the U.S. and its trading partners did not reach a major tariff-reduction agreement until the conclusion of the Kennedy Round in 1967, 20 years after the original Geneva conference. One of those who fought for those advances was Sen. Al Gore (D. Tenn.) a friend of Hull and the father of Vice President Al Gore.

In light of this history, the collapse of the Doha Round should be viewed as a temporary setback. With persistence, the goal of liberalizing world trade can still be reached.

Mr. Irwin, an economics professor at Dartmouth, is co-author of "The Genesis of the GATT," just published by Cambridge University Press. This article is excerpted from "Cordell Hull and the Case for Optimism," a working paper published this week by the Council on Foreign Relations, where Ms. Shlaes is a senior fellow.

Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal

 

An unfortunate trade setback....

From: The Wall Street Journal

Global Trade Talks Fail As New Giants Flex Muscle
By: JOHN W. MILLER

July 30, 2008; Page A1

GENEVA - A seven-year effort to forge a new global trade pact collapsed over farm tariffs Tuesday, reflecting a dramatic shift in the influence and the interests of trading powerhouses China, India and Brazil.

The failure by negotiators from over 30 countries and blocs at the World Trade Organization in Geneva leaves the so-called Doha Round of talks dead in the water for "the foreseeable future," said European Union trade chief Peter Mandelson. The setback could also signal an end to some 60 years of continuous expansion of global free-trade deals, some trade diplomats and experts said.

The trade summit, among the longest global trade summits diplomats could remember, came undone over what seemed to be a simple bargain: rising titans such as China and India were to lower their tariffs on industrial goods, in exchange for European and American tariff and subsidy cuts on farm products.

China and India, however, demanded a "safeguard" clause that would allow them to raise tariffs on key crops such as cotton, sugar and rice if there were a sudden surge in imports. The two sides couldn't agree, however, on where to set the threshold for any import surge that would trigger the clause. The U.S. wanted to set the trigger at a 40% jump. China and India wanted the trigger set much lower, at a 10% increase.

Diplomats emerged exhausted Tuesday to trade blame over who had derailed the negotiations, whose original goal in 2001 had been to benefit farmers in poor countries by giving them greater access to wealthy markets.

"In the face of the global food crisis, it's unconscionable that this came down to how much countries could raise their barriers to imports of food," U.S. trade representative Susan Schwab said in an interview, referring to positions taken by China and India.

Ms. Schwab said President George W. Bush had called her on Monday night to say "we should do everything possible" to secure a deal. "To see this fail is heart-breaking."

Negotiators from big developing countries were equally scathing over U.S. claims that Washington had made significant sacrifices, while demanding more access to emerging economies.

"It's unfortunate that in a development round, we couldn't agree to an issue of livelihood and security," said Indian trade and commerce minister Kamal Nath, who emerged as one of the dominant negotiators in the talks.

Trade experts watching the round said the Doha Round suffered a key problem: None of the major players in the talks saw enough gain in a deal to make it worth selling any significant sacrifices to skeptical populations back home.

"Previous trade rounds picked the low-hanging fruit," said William J. Bernstein, author of "A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World." "We may have reached the end of the line for trade deals."

Economists disagree on the Doha round's potential benefits; estimates of economic gain that could have been reaped through additional trade range from $4 billion to $100 billion. Set against the rapid expansion of global trade to $13.6 trillion last year from $7.6 trillion five years ago, however, the bottom-line loss from Doha's failure is "not a market issue," said Julian Callow, an economist at Barclays Capital in London.

Nor is the world on the edge of the kind of protectionist wave that ended the last period of globalization in the early 20th century and contributed to two world wars, analysts say. Countries are likely to go on negotiating bilateral trade deals with each other, such as U.S.-South Korea free trade deal earlier this year.

But the failure of the Doha round could have long-term effects. For one thing, it could weaken the authority of the WTO, which also plays a key role in settling trade disputes between countries. And it could make even bilateral deals harder to strike.

In Washington, Tuesday's failure is likely to energize critics of free trade, who've already managed to scuttle much smaller U.S. deals with Colombia and Panama this election year. Even with trade skepticism high, the White House had hoped to ink a Doha deal and add to Mr. Bush's legacy before he leaves office at year's end.

That prospect is now gone, meaning the responsibility for reviving Doha - or finding another path for trade expansion - will fall to either Republican Sen. John McCain, a free trader, or Democrat Sen. Barack Obama, a trade skeptic. Hours after the collapse in Geneva, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D. Mont.) was already looking ahead, vowing to work with the "next administration to get back to the drawing board... and lead these talks to a successful conclusion."

Said Mr. Baucus, "No deal was better than a bad deal."

Trade diplomats across the board said Tuesday's failure showcased as rarely before the emergence of China, India and Brazil as trade powerhouses. Their interests are increasingly complex, making any deal logistically far more difficult to reach than in the days of Western economic dominance, diplomats say.

Brazil's and India's status as trade powers grew along with their economies and exports - but their enthusiasm for Doha waned after 2001. With foreign investors pouring money into factories and offices, they had little reason to further crack open their markets. They especially feared a flood of cheap imports from China, diplomats said.

"This is a round where we're supposed to be getting, not giving," India's Mr. Nath said during the talks last week.

Domestic political concerns also played a role. India's ruling coalition, led by the Congress Party, faced pressure from left-wing parties to kill a deal. "It was easier for Mr. Nath to leave Geneva without a Doha deal than with one," said an Indian diplomat.

The Indian government's left-wing allies withdrew their support from the government a few weeks ago over their objections to a civilian nuclear energy deal between the U.S. and India. Now the Congress Party faces national elections by next May, and is expected to pursue a populist agenda to try to shore up support in the face of rising inflation and slowing growth. Small farmers are a key constituency for the Congress Party, and a global trade deal may have been interpreted by Indian farmers, who aren't big exporters, as exposing them to unwelcome international competition.

Brazil, the world's second-biggest exporter of soy and No. 1 in beef, chicken, sugar and coffee, played a key role during the talks. Brazil had taken a lead with India in 2003 in forming a coalition of developing nations that sought to drive a harder bargain with the U.S. and Europe.

For Brazil, the rise of other regional economic powerhouses such as China and India has meant new outlets for its goods, diluting the importance of the U.S. Soaring commodity prices also allowed Brazil and other developing nations to push the U.S. harder on subsidies. Their argument went like this: With food prices so high, why do your farmers need so much government help?

But Brazil, whose agriculture exports make up a bigger portion of the economy than do China's or India's, eventually broke with its allies on Friday. It sided with the U.S. and EU by accepting a compromise deal proposed by WTO chief Pascal Lamy. Mr. Lamy's proposal would have capped U.S. farm subsidies at $14.5 billion annually, improving on the latest U.S. offer of $15 billion. In exchange, emerging economies would agree to cuts in industrial tariffs. Brazil, for example, would have accepted a 56% cut in its industrial tariffs.

Brazil's willingness to deal made little difference in the end, however. China broke its traditional silence in global trade talks and dug in its heels over the weekend.

Emerging for the first time as a power player in multilateral trade negotiations, China blocked Mr. Lamy's proposal. Although China stood to gain if Europeans and Americans opened their food markets, it feared the effects of lower tariffs on its own farms and factories. In particular, China argued, it should be allowed to raise tariffs on sugar, cotton and rice if imports should increase. That, U.S. diplomats objected, would have been a blow for farmers from California to Cameroon.

"Having protected its own interests, the United States is asking a price as high as heaven," Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming retorted Monday, according to Xinhua news agency.

U.S. farmers and their representatives had opposed Doha, even as Washington pushed to clinch a deal. The sugar, dairy and cotton lobbies feared losing subsidies and tariff protection, while corn and ethanol lobbies opposed cuts in tariffs on imported biofuels that would have accompanied an agreement. U.S. manufacturers, meanwhile, had largely supported a deal, as long as it opened more foreign markets.

Tuesday's difficulties also showed that the involvement of more countries makes it harder to strike a deal. Past rounds were largely set by a handful of negotiators from Washington and Brussels. Now that developing countries are involved, more people are in the room and a broader range of interests and concerns have to be incorporated.

According to Ms. Schwab, Mr. Lamy described the Doha round to her during the talks as a cathedral - a complex organism with more players and more issues to agree than any previous trade round.

"In the future, we could have a global trade round, but we'd probably have a building block process, agreeing on issues one by one, instead of waiting until you've agreed on everything," she said.

John Lyons in São Paolo, Paul Beckett in New Dehli, Ian Johnson in Berlin, and Greg Hitt in Washington, D.C., contributed to this article. Write to John W. Miller at john.miller@dowjones.com

Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal

 

Are we taking this all a little too seriously?

From: The London Times
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/gerard_baker/article4392846.ece

He ventured forth to bring light to the world:
The anointed one's pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a miracle in action - and a blessing to all his faithful followers
By: Gerard Baker - July 25, 2008

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites.

And so it was, in the fullness of time, before the harvest month of the appointed year, the Child ventured forth - for the first time - to bring the light unto all the world.

He travelled fleet of foot and light of camel, with a small retinue that consisted only of his loyal disciples from the tribe of the Media. He ventured first to the land of the Hindu Kush, where the Taleban had harboured the viper of al-Qaeda in their bosom, raining terror on all the world.

And the Child spake and the tribes of Nato immediately loosed the Caveats that had previously bound them. And in the great battle that ensued the forces of the light were triumphant. For as long as the Child stood with his arms raised aloft, the enemy suffered great blows and the threat of terror was no more.

From there he went forth to Mesopotamia where he was received by the great ruler al-Maliki, and al-Maliki spake unto him and blessed his Sixteen Month Troop Withdrawal Plan even as the imperial warrior Petraeus tried to destroy it.

And lo, in Mesopotamia, a miracle occurred. Even though the Great Surge of Armour that the evil Bush had ordered had been a terrible mistake, a waste of vital military resources and doomed to end in disaster, the Child's very presence suddenly brought forth a great victory for the forces of the light.

And the Persians, who saw all this and were greatly fearful, longed to speak with the Child and saw that the Child was the bringer of peace. At the mention of his name they quickly laid aside their intrigues and beat their uranium swords into civil nuclear energy ploughshares.

From there the Child went up to the city of Jerusalem, and entered through the gate seated on an ass. The crowds of network anchors who had followed him from afar cheered “Hosanna” and waved great palm fronds and strewed them at his feet.

In Jerusalem and in surrounding Palestine, the Child spake to the Hebrews and the Arabs, as the Scripture had foretold. And in an instant, the lion lay down with the lamb, and the Israelites and Ishmaelites ended their long enmity and lived for ever after in peace.

As word spread throughout the land about the Child's wondrous works, peoples from all over flocked to hear him; Hittites and Abbasids; Obamacons and McCainiacs; Cameroonians and Blairites.

And they told of strange and wondrous things that greeted the news of the Child's journey. Around the world, global temperatures began to decline, and the ocean levels fell and the great warming was over.

The Great Prophet Algore of Nobel and Oscar, who many had believed was the anointed one, smiled and told his followers that the Child was the one generations had been waiting for.

And there were other wonderful signs. In the city of the Street at the Wall, spreads on interbank interest rates dropped like manna from Heaven and rates on credit default swaps fell to the ground as dead birds from the almond tree, and the people who had lived in foreclosure were able to borrow again.

Black gold gushed from the ground at prices well below $140 per barrel. In hospitals across the land the sick were cured even though they were uninsured. And all because the Child had pronounced it.

And this is the testimony of one who speaks the truth and bears witness to the truth so that you might believe. And he knows it is the truth for he saw it all on CNN and the BBC and in the pages of The New York Times.

Then the Child ventured forth from Israel and Palestine and stepped onto the shores of the Old Continent. In the land of Queen Angela of Merkel, vast multitudes gathered to hear his voice, and he preached to them at length.

But when he had finished speaking his disciples told him the crowd was hungry, for they had had nothing to eat all the hours they had waited for him.

And so the Child told his disciples to fetch some food but all they had was five loaves and a couple of frankfurters. So he took the bread and the frankfurters and blessed them and told his disciples to feed the multitudes. And when all had eaten their fill, the scraps filled twelve baskets.

Thence he travelled west to Mount Sarkozy. Even the beauteous Princess Carla of the tribe of the Bruni was struck by awe and she was great in love with the Child, but he was tempted not.

On the Seventh Day he walked across the Channel of the Angles to the ancient land of the hooligans. There he was welcomed with open arms by the once great prophet Blair and his successor, Gordon the Leper, and his successor, David the Golden One.

And suddenly, with the men appeared the archangel Gabriel and the whole host of the heavenly choir, ranks of cherubim and seraphim, all praising God and singing: “Yes, We Can.”

Copyright 2008 - The London Times


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