"Nothing will be the same after September 11." This is the view offered since the announcement of the war on terrorism, a "permanent war" declared with an ill-defined objective and unclear enemies. At this upcoming Independent Policy Forum and based on his new book, Theater of War, Lewis H. Lapham will instead discuss with intelligence and wit why the recent behavior of the U.S. government is consistent with that of past administrations. Politicians have long fostered pork, corporate welfare, government surveillance, and global interventionism that have created a more dangerous world. Now, we face the prospects of a major war in Iraq combined with the Orwellian USA PATRIOT Act, TIPS domestic spying program, Department of Homeland Security, incarcerations without charge or trial, militarized domestic law enforcement and airport security, and national ID cards.
Until recently, hearing skeptics of the "permanent war" has largely been a rarity. For example, as Lapham points out: "Ted Koppel struck the preferred note of caution on November 2 when introducing the Nightline audience to critics of the American bombing of Afghanistan: 'Some of you, many of you, are not going to like what you hear tonight. You don't have to listen.'" Unpopular, informed opinions seldom appear on the network news, and since the destruction of the World Trade Center, dissenting voices have been few and far between. However, Lewis Lapham is a major exception, questioning the motive, feasibility and morality, as well as the imperial pretension, of an infinite and dangerous, U.S. global-war crusade.
This special program with Lewis Lapham and a distinguished panel of journalists, Alan W. Bock, Jonathan Marshall, Seth Rosenfeld, and Paul H. Weaver, discusses the "U.S. War on Terrorism: Myths and Realities."
To outsiders, its initials once stood for No Such Agency. To its employees, they stood for Never Say Anything. Today the public knows that the ultra-secret National Security Agency manages the nations spy satellites, but few know exactly why the NSA is the most powerful U.S. intelligence agencyor its roles in the Cold War, the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and Echelon, the worldwide NSA spying operation that, many charge, is illegally monitoring innocent citizens. No outsider knows more about the NSA than investigative journalist James Bamford, who began to research it before most members of Congress had even heard of it. In this talk, Mr. Bamford explained why he believes the NSA is a dangerous, two-edged sword.
Many Americans consider Abraham Lincoln to be the greatest president in history. His legend as the Great Emancipator has grown to mythic proportions as hundreds of books and a monument in Washington, D.C., extol his heroism and martyrdom. Is Lincolns reputation deserved? Lincoln defender Harry V. Jaffa (author of the new book, A New Birth of Freedom) will argue that Lincoln was a model statesman who stuck by high-minded principles as he fought to promote liberty. Lincoln critic Thomas DiLorenzo (author of the new book, The Real Lincoln) will argue that Lincoln was a calculating politician who waged the bloodiest war in American history not to free the slaves, but in order to build an empire that rivaled Great Britains. Was Lincoln a great hero or a villain? Did he honor the promise of Americaor betray it?
Filmed before a live audience on April 18, 2002, renowned author Gore Vidal rejects the blind patriotism expected by government officials and the mainstream media, and investigates U.S. foreign policy throughout recent history, showing how it has contributed to the terrorist crisis. With his famous wit and insight, Vidal also demonstrates the ways in which the War on Terrorism is being used to curtail civil liberties and shred the Bill of Rights.
"Dependence on government has grown at unprecedented rates over the past 70 years. This ominous trend has coincided with the growth of centralized government power, which at its own discretion is used to regulate, manipuate, or prohibit. Driven by bipartisanship, bureaucracies, and interest groups, and accelerated by presidential ambitions, this trend has been so profound that few today can imagine life without government control. Economist and historian Charlotte Twight, one of the leading experts on politics and privacy, showed how special-interest politics created the income tax, Social Security, Medicare, surveillance of ordinary citizens, and other linchpins of the dependence-state, which in turn have made opposition to centralized control seemingly futile. She will then offer a strategy to reverse this trend in order to fulfill the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Astronomical housing costs, suffocating traffic congestion, and pollution take a heavy toll on our quality of life. Are these problems the inescapable consequences of modern life or the results of poor government policies? Proponents of "smart growth" seek to correct them by replacing suburban living with high-density, urban living and public transit. Others seeks to extend and expand current public and private systems. But how smart are these and other approaches? Would market-based alternatives be preferable to create sustainable communities? Urban economists Randal O'Toole and Daniel Klein discussed innovative "smarter growth" solutions for affordable housing, transportation, land use, and the quality of life in our communities.
Drug abuse is a serious problem, but the "War on Drugs" shows no sign of being won and has come with a heavy price tag. Critics say that its side effects- increased taxes, increased crime and corruption here and abroad, loss of civil liberties, decreased health, prison overcrowding, discrimination against African Americans and other groups, and the diversion of resources away from other problems- are even worse for society than the drugs themselves. Many public officials share this sentiment but fear political reprisals if they speak out. However, Judges James Gray and Vaughn Walker, having witnessed the Drug War up close, believe that the time has come to testify publicly about its ill effects- and to outline bold, new approaches to the drug problem.