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Volume 12, Issue 20: May 17, 2010

  1. Do Armed Drones Spread Terrorism?
  2. Will David Cameron Be the Next Margaret Thatcher?
  3. Another Type of Climate Science Investigation
  4. Understanding Today’s Economy: A Summer-Seminar Preview for Teens and Their Parents (Oakland, CA, 5/20/10)
  5. This Week in The Beacon

1) Do Armed Drones Spread Terrorism?

Have U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan put Islamic terrorist groups on the run—or have they instead weakened U.S. security by creating more enemies eager to attack American targets? John O. Brennan, the White House’s chief counterterrorism advisor, recently defended the drone attacks, claiming that they have degraded the capability of anti-U.S. terrorist groups. In contrast, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland argues that the drone attacks have helped to radicalize Islamists, both strengthening them politically in Pakistan and increasing the likelihood of attacks against Americans in retaliation.

In his latest op-ed, Eland writes: “It failed to dawn on Brennan that the terrorist attacks wouldn’t be occurring in the first place without aggressive U.S. behavior in Islamic lands—for example, the motivation for the Pakistani Taliban–assisted Times Square bombing was clearly Obama’s escalation of the Bush administration’s drone attacks on Pakistani Taliban targets.”

Aside from increasing anti-U.S. hostility, White House policy has also erred by misidentifying the true threat to the security of Americans, according to Eland. “The U.S. government’s inability to distinguish between al-Qaeda, with global ambitions, and the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, with their local goals, has merely made more enemies, including those who would begin attacking the United States.”

“Feting a Fetid War,” by Ivan Eland (5/12/10) Spanish Translation

VIDEO: Ivan Eland on WikiLeaks Footage (Al Jazeera, 4/6/10)

Partitioning for Peace: An Exit Strategy for Iraq, by Ivan Eland

Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, by Ivan Eland

The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland

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2) Will David Cameron Be the Next Margaret Thatcher?

The late Senator Barry Goldwater once said that the challenge facing conservatives was to demonstrate that ancient and tested truths are still applicable today. David Cameron, the new prime minister of Great Britain, would do well to heed Goldwater’s wisdom. Unfortunately, that seems unlikely because Cameron’s lame electoral victory guarantees a period of ideological muddle, and because his response to Britain’s financial crisis has been to try to “square the circle,” according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa.

“He has offered to cut four pounds of spending for every pound of increased taxes, while promising to protect all entitlements and the National Health Service as well as to keep a strong currency,” writes Vargas Llosa in his latest weekly column.

Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic are torn by incompatible goals and incompatible temperaments, argues Vargas Llosa. For Cameron to return Britain to an era of sustainable economic growth, he must strive consistently for a smaller, limited government. Similarly, any American politician who wishes to assume the leadership role once held by Goldwater would benefit from returning to the philosophical roots of the Founding Fathers. “Those aspiring to his mantle ought to bear that in mind,” concludes Vargas Llosa.

“Is David Cameron the New Mr. Conservative?” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (5/12/10) Spanish Translation

Lessons from the Poor: Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit, edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

The Che Guevara Myth, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

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3) Another Type of Climate Science Investigation

Last week the editors of Nature magazine accused Virginia Attorney-General Kenneth Cuccinelli of initiating a “witch hunt” against former University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann by demanding that the university release Mann’s correspondence, computer code, data and other documents related to his federally funded research.

Contrary to Nature’s editors, the investigation is entirely warranted, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow S. Fred Singer, an atmospheric scientist who is now retired from teaching at the university. The purpose of the investigation is not to target scientific conclusions, but rather to determine whether Mann violated federal anti-fraud laws in connection with his federal research grants, Singer argues in his response to Nature’s editorial.

Last year’s Climategate emails referred to Mann’s famous “hockey stick” graph, and applauded the “neat trick” Mann used to “hide the decline [of temperature].” Were these merely casual terms for describing unbiased, scientific procedures? What was Mann saying to colleagues at the time? What does the data he used reveal? A lawful investigation into whether or not Mann’s work was unbiased has the potential to shed much light on that scandal—and on climate science. Rather than a witch hunt, an empirical investigation based on the best available evidence would seem to be exactly what science requires.

“Science Subpoenaed,” by S. Fred Singer (Nature.com, 5/13/10)

Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Business, by S. Fred Singer

CONFERENCE: 4th International Conference on Climate Change: Reconsidering the Science and Economics (Chicago, 5/16-18). One day is remaining for a conference designed to “call attention to new scientific research on the causes and consequences of climate change, and to economic analysis of the cost and effectiveness of proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Sponsored by the Heartland Institute.

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4) Understanding Today’s Economy: A Summer-Seminar Preview for Teens and Their Parents (Oakland, CA, 5/20/10)

Understanding the basic principles that shape our economy is crucial for any young person to navigate the highly politicized realms of higher education and the “real world” beyond home. To help young people gain that knowledge, the Independent Institute is sponsoring a special event at its Oakland, Calif., Conference Center on Thursday, May 20th: “Understanding Today’s Economy: A Summer-Seminar Preview for Teens and Their Parents,” featuring Greg Rehmke, Mike Winther, Emily Schaeffer, Anthony Gregory, and José Yulo.

This in-depth preview of our weeklong Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars is geared specifically toward high-school students and their parents, and we are seeking your help in spreading awareness of the event to any high-school students, and the parents of high-school students, that you know.

Admission to this event is $5 per person and includes a pizza dinner. This event is open only to high-school students and their parents. Because of the special nature of this event, all attendees must register in advance. Reservations can be made by phoning Ms. Nichelle Beardsley at (510) 632-1366, ext. 118, or by emailing us at: events@independent.org.

“Understanding Today’s Economy: A Summer-Seminar Preview for Teens and Their Parents” (Oakland, CA, 5/20/10, 4:30-7:30 p.m.)

“The Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars
Session I: June 14-18
Session II: August 9-13

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5) This Week in The Beacon

If you haven’t done so yet, please check out the Independent Institute’s Spanish-language blog, El Independent. With 21,183 posts and 1,813,848 hits since its inception in 2006, El Independent has become an important resource in the Spanish-speaking blogosphere.

Here now are the past week’s offerings from our English-language blog, The Beacon:

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