Volume 8, Issue 6: February 6, 2006
- New Defense Budget Pork Hampers U.S. Security
- Despite Its Naysayers, India's Economy Marches Ahead
- How to Question Scientific Authority
- China and Chavez
1) New Defense Budget Pork Hampers U.S. Security
"The Bush administration’s newly released Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), outlining its defense strategy, forces, and weapons programs, and its accompanying defense budget demonstrate that throwing money at national defense won’t make Americans safer at home," writes Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty, in his latest op-ed.
Eland argues that wasteful Pentagon spending has been facilitated by the adoption of so-called "capabilities-based planning": "The slogan," he continues, "merely means that new weapons technology can be developed and existing weapons can continue to be purchased, even though no threat for them to counter exists."
Thus, even though America's greatest security threat comes from non-state terrorist cells such as al-Qaeda, the new $500 billion defense budget -- five percent larger than last year's -- still devotes too much spending to military hardware better suited to fighting the U.S.'s Cold War foes -- weapons such as the new F/A-22 fighter jets, CVN-21 aircraft carriers, Virginia-class submarines, and DD(X) destroyers.
"Because of the Pentagon's capabilities-based approach, the QDR fails to assign priorities to the few remaining threats," Eland writes. "For example, should more resources be assigned to countering the threat from al Qaeda, the potential threat from an Iran or North Korea with nuclear weapons, or the possible threat from a rising great power -- such as China or India?" By evading such questions, the new Quadrennial Defense Review imperils the security of American citizens.
See "More Defense Dollars, Less Security" by Ivan Eland (2/6/06)
Ivan Eland on President Bush's State of the Union Speech:
To purchase THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland, see
To purchase PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK IN U.S. DEFENSE POLICY, by Ivan Eland, see:
Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)
2) Despite Its Naysayers, India's Economy Marches Ahead
Rumors of India's economic demise are not merely greatly exaggerated, they are way off base. Yet the international rumor mill still discounts the Indian economy. In reality, India's economy is growing at a brisk annual rate of 7 percent -- and not because multinationals have moved their customer-service call centers to Bangalore.
As Alvaro Vargas Llosa notes in his latest op-ed, India is now a center for high-tech innovation and manufacturing, one that is luring capital away from other parts of Asia, especially Japan. Thanks to a growing Indian middle class -- the largest in the world -- retailing is also booming. Poverty is still high today, however, but it has fallen over thirty years from about 50 percent to less than 33 percent.
Vargas Llosa notes that India's economic success accelerated after 1991, when it abolished investment licensing, reduced various barriers to entry, and, in 2001, opened up foreign trade. Still, he argues, India's economic policies -- and performance -- have much room for improvement: "The banking sector is still dominated by government entities, foreign investors cannot hold majority stakes in major services like telecommunications, huge public spending is still soaking up a lot of the country’s savings at the expense of private investment, and tariffs are still in some cases as high as 25 percent."
See "Eight Myths About India"
"Ocho mitos sobre la India"
THE CHE GUEVARA MYTH AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERTY, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa, see
LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five-Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
3) How to Question Scientific Authority
Last year's cloning fraud case of South Korean scientist Hwang Wook-suk -- and last month's less-reported protest resignation of a British university scientist after an unrelated cloning report -- should prompt many to be more cautious of accepting scientific claims that await greater scrutiny of the scientific community. According to Wendy McElory, a research fellow at the Independent Institute, the media and the public should routinely raise the following questions when new scientific findings are published:
"Is the report, including all data and methodology, available for examination? If not, then the researcher is asking you to accept his word for the findings.... Who funds the research? A questionable source of money does not invalidate research but public skepticism should sharpen if the funder stands to profit from a specific finding and, indeed, that finding results.... Have the findings been independently verified? Claims should be sufficiently documented to allow replication.... Does the claim contradict previous data?... Does the claim include policy recommendations or changes in law? Research that includes a political agenda is more likely to express the researcher's personal beliefs than work that merely states data and findings."
Asking the above question isn't always sufficient -- Hwang's cloning fraud was heralded by the prestigious magazine SCIENCE -- but such questions are necessary, McElroy notes. "The claims of scientific authority should receive the same skepticism that usually greets similarly bold claims of political authority. Both impact your life and are your business."
See "Questions to Ask Scientific Authority," by Wendy McElroy (1/1/06)
"Preguntas para formularle a las autoridades científicas"
Also see, "Science as a Market Process," by Allan Walstad (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Summer 2002)
To purchase LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century, ed. by Wendy McElroy, see
4) China and Chavez
China's recent overtures to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez have less to do with China's finding an ideological ally than with its practical concern for energy supplies that will to continue to fuel its economy, explains Adjunct Fellow William Ratliff in a new op-ed for the Center on Global Prosperity.
"China has learned the hard way how 'revolutionary socialism' can destroy a country, thus Beijing is not drawn to Chavez because of his spouting 'socialism,' but rather in spite of it," writes Ratliff. "It is not in Beijing's interest to have the Western Hemisphere seriously unsettled by anti-American chaos."
Thus, Chavez may one day find China's leaders intolerant of his incendiary rhetoric. Concludes Ratliff: "For some 'revolutionary' Latin Americans the image of the 'Ugly American' may soon be matched by that of the 'Ugly Chinese.'"
See "The Chinese Technocrats and the Venezuelan Caudillo," by William Ratliff (2/2/06)
"Los tecnócratas chinos y el caudillo venezolano"
Also see: "What is China Up To in the Western Hemisphere?" by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (10/13/05)
¿Qué Busca China en el Hemisferio Occidental?"
Center on Global Prosperity (Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director)
El Independent: El Blog del Centro Para la Prosperidad Global de The Independent Institute