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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
Subscribe now, or browse Back Issues.

Volume 6, Issue 22: June 1, 2004

  1. Peace in Iraq: The Sudan Example
  2. U.S. War Crimes?
  3. A Feminist Version of "Joe Millionaire"?

1) Peace in Iraq: The Sudan Example

If the Bush administration were looking for an example of how U.S. withdrawal from Iraq could work, it would do well to look at Sudan, where a relatively peaceful solution to a violent conflict that has taken two million lives appears to be at hand, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute.

"The Islamic Sudanese government and the major Christian rebel group recently reached a peace agreement to decentralize power in the country to individual states, which would give the rebels effective control over the southern part of the country," writes Eland in his latest column.

"Included in the arrangement is a referendum on secession to be held in six years in various parts of the country. The two factions also agreed to share oil revenues. Although the negotiated settlement of Sudan’s civil war isn’t perfect -- it doesn’t include all factions in the country -- the episode does show that decentralized governance among ethnic or religious groups can give armed combatants enough comfort to negotiate peace."

If Sudan can do it, then Iraq can too -- if the U.S. allows the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shia to go their separate ways, if that's what they want.

"If the welfare of Iraqis was the paramount goal of U.S. leaders, U.S. policy in Iraq would be designed to avoid a similarly nasty civil war. Instead, the Bush administration’s politically-driven strategy of retaining a unified Iraqi government, while mollifying armed factions that will eventually try to gain control of it, is a recipe for just such a disaster."

See "Courting Disaster: Bush’s Real Strategy in Iraq," by Ivan Eland (6/1/04)

More information about the event "THE FUTURE OF IRAQ: Democracy or Quagmire?" featuring George Bisharat, Ivan Eland, James H. Noyes, and Robert Scheer (6/17/04)

Center on Peace & Liberty

OnPower.org -- Gulf War II: War with Iraq

OnPower.org -- Terrorist War

PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK INTO U.S. DEFENSE POLICY: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World, by Ivan Eland

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2) U.S. War Crimes?

A White House memo, authored by presidential counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and obtained in January by NEWSWEEK, suggests that the Bush administration has given considerable thought to whether its actions in Iraq and Afghanistan could in any way be construed as a violation of international law.

If the White House took the issue seriously, perhaps American citizens should as well, argues Robert Higgs, senior fellow at the Independent Institute, in a recent op-ed.

"If today the U.S. government were to put itself on trial, on the same basis it employed to try the Nazis at Nuremberg, for actions taken in Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years, it might have to convict itself -- if only for the sake of consistency," writes Higgs.

Higgs notes a number of instances, from the initial strikes to present operations, which might be considered crimes against peace, war crimes, or crimes against humanity, as defined in the International Military Tribunal Charter published August 8, 1945.

One of the most egregious recent incidents may be the attack on the village of Makr al-Deeb in Western Iraq -- which eyewitnesses insist was celebrating a wedding. A U.S. official defended this attack saying, "it's our estimation right now that the [Iraqi] personnel involved in this matter were part of the foreign-fighter safe house."

"So on the basis of suspicion of trafficking in unauthorized migrants, U.S. military forces, without warning, used aerial bombardments and strafing with high-powered guns to obliterate an entire village," writes Higgs.

"Regardless of whether U.S. intelligence about a 'foreign-fighter safe house' happened to be accurate or not, however, the killing of the village’s noncombatant inhabitants willy-nilly, firing from aircraft at a distance too great to discriminate among persons in targeting and also using bombs that cannot discriminate in any event, looks very much like a war crime. Another survivor of the attack, Sheik Dahan Haraj, denied the U.S. claims and asked the obvious question: If the American soldiers suspected that foreign fighters were in the village, 'why not seal off the area and make sure they were indeed foreign fighters?'

"In any event, the U.S. action was in this case, as it has been in countless others, wholly out of proportion to the underlying justification."

See "Has the U.S. Government Committed War Crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq?" by Robert Higgs (5/23/04)

Order the videotape, "Understanding America's Terrorist Crisis," featuring Gore Vidal, Robert Higgs, Barton Bernstein, and Thomas Gale Moore.

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3) A Feminist Version of "Joe Millionaire"?

Does a widening gender gap -- in this case, more women earning college degrees than men -- constitute a "social crisis" of upwardly mobile women facing the bleak prospect of "marrying down"?

That seemed to be conclusion at a colloquium attended recently by Wendy McElroy, research fellow at the Independent Institute and editor of LIBERTY FOR WOMEN. And it's a conjecture you'll probably hear more about -- the research presented at the conference has already been popularized with attention-grabbing newspaper headlines like, "Much Women Slummin'?"

According to McElroy, however, belaboring over this "crisis" smacks of hypocrisy and elitism.

"The increase in well-educated women should elicit sustained applause that is tempered only by concern about equal access to education for males. There is no more of a 'marriage crisis' now than there was when male students dominated campuses."

"Marriage," McElroy continues, "is a healthy institution that adapts quickly to circumstance; marriage patterns may be shifting to adjust. There is a 'marriage crisis' only for women and in-laws who demand an attorney or doctor for a husband and do not wish to welcome a plumber or mechanic into the family. This is their personal problem, not a social one."

In the context of prospective marriage partners, the terms "less" and "lower" McElroy concludes, "should be defined according to a man's character, not his income."

See, "A Feminist Version of 'Joe Millionaire'?" by Wendy McElroy (FoxNews.com, 5/19/04)

Order LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-first Century, edited by Wendy McElroy (Ivan R. Dee, 2002).

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