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

Volume 8, Issue 38: September 18, 2006

  1. Tony Blair: A Man of His Time
  2. Iran Sanctions Unlikely to Work, Eland Argues
  3. The Property-Rights Cure for Peru's Mining Crisis
  4. Has Increased Security Made Us Safer?

1) Tony Blair: A Man of His Time

Before announcing recently his plan to step down before next summer, British Prime Minister Tony Blair tried to renege on an earlier statement he'd made about when he might vacate 10 Downing Street. Clearly, Blair would have preferred to stay in power longer. But despite strong economic growth during his tenure (Britain had the highest per capita growth among G-7 countries over the past decade) three things got in the way of Blair's ambitions, according to Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa: Blair was criticized for cozying up too closely to President Bush with regard to the Iraq war; he failed to reform Britain's welfare policies; and he failed to remake his party in his own image.

"Belatedly, Blair offered to introduce choice and diversity in Britain’s social services," writes Vargas Llosa. "He made new overtures to the moderate Muslim community. He cut defense spending. These were the signs of a desperate man clinging to power when power started to filter through his fingers like sand.

"I met Blair in 1998," Vargas Llosa continues. "'You are not exactly a socialist, you are not exactly a conservative, you are not exactly a liberal,' I suggested. 'So who exactly are you, Prime Minister?' He paused and replied, 'I am a man of my time.' He seemed to be implying that the times had abolished those distinctions. They had actually messed them all up. Blair is the son of that confusion and his party has just served him notice that it wants some clarity."

"Goodbye, Tony," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (9/13/06) http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1814
"Adiós, Tony"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1814

For a critique of the philosophy of Anthony Giddens, former adviser to Tony Blair, see "The So-Called Third Way," by Robert Higgs (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Spring 2000)
http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?issueID=22&articleID=267

Center on Global Prosperity (Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director)
http://www.independent.org/research/cogp/

LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=55

THE CHE GUEVARA MYTH, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=61

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2) Iran Sanctions Unlikely to Work, Eland Argues

Threatening Iran with stiffer sanctions unless it freezes its uranium-enrichment program is likely to fail, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty. Broad sanctions probably wouldn't hold because Russia and China have interests in Iran, and sanctions on nuclear components that could be used in Iran would be undermined by the continuation of the smuggling of technological contraband that has already contributed to Iran's nuclear program, Eland argues in his latest op-ed.

The other options are also flawed, Eland explains. Iran already restricts the travel of its nuclear scientists, so an international ban on their travel would be redundant and meaningless. In addition, military air strikes against Iran could result in retaliation by Iran's proxies in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus, the only option for Washington, according to Eland, is to offer Iran full normalization of U.S.-Iran relations -- along with a no-strike security guarantee from both the United States and Israel -- in exchange for a verifiable end to Iran's uranium-enrichment program.

"If Iran remains intransigent, the United States will probably have to accept that Iran will likely some day become a nuclear weapons state," writes Eland. "Although undesirable, this outcome would not be catastrophic because the United States has the most formidable nuclear forces in the world and could likely deter any strike from the small Iranian atomic arsenal."

"What to Do about Iranian Nukes," by Ivan Eland (9/18/06) http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1817

"Qué hacer con las armas nucleares iraníes"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1817

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)
http://www.independent.org/research/copal/

PUTTING “DEFENSE” BACK INTO U.S. DEFENSE POLICY, by Ivan Eland
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=19

THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=54

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3) The Property-Rights Cure for Peru's Mining Crisis

For more than two centuries free-market economists have argued that land-use conflicts often arise when property is owned "in common" and managed (or, as is often the case, mismanaged) by the government. In such cases, the creation of private-property rights can give people a direct stake in the outcome of land-use policies and thereby encourage wise land use and end disagreements about how best to utilize the land.

Enrique Ghersi, an adjunct fellow with the Independent Institute's Center on Global Prosperity, explains how this principle would end the conflict that has recently shaken Peru -- peasants and villagers objecting to the government selling mining rights under their land to foreign investors. What's needed, both as a matter of justice and a matter of sound economics, is to transfer the subsoil property rights to the locals and let them, if they wish, sell their land to investors. In essence, privatizing the ownership of the subsoil would empower the locals and remove the source of the conflict -- the presumption that Peru's government, rather than its people, own the land.

Writes Ghersi: "If this simple principle were applied to our mining legislation, the peasants and the indigenous communities would not have to resort to violence to obtain crumbs of false charity from bureaucrats and businessmen, but instead would be the legitimate titleholders of the property containing the mineral deposits, and therefore would be the principal beneficiaries of their production."

"Peru's Mining Crisis," by Enrique Ghersi (9/15/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1816

"La crisis minera de Perú"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1816

To see how private-property rights can help resolve other land-use conflicts, see chapters 13 and 14 in RE-THINKING GREEN: Alternatives to Environmental Bureaucracy, ed. by Robert Higgs and Carl P. Close
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=58

Center on Global Prosperity (Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director)
http://www.independent.org/research/cogp/

El Independent: El Blog del Centro Para la Prosperidad Global de The Independent Institute
http://independent.typepad.com

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4) Has Increased Security Made Us Safer?

Five years after 9/11, are we safer? Charles Pena, a new senior fellow at the Independent Institute, addresses this question in his recent op-ed.

Although America has more physical security to defend against terrorism -- airport and building security is tighter, for example -- this doesn't guarantee protection from future terrorist attacks. What the United States needs, Pena argues, is a multi-pronged approach that improves effective defense against terrorist attacks, pursues al Qaeda terrorists themselves, and reduces anti-American hostility by changing U.S. foreign policy.

"While it is certainly necessary to kill terrorists abroad and to protect Americans at home, that is not enough to make the United States safer against terrorism, Pena writes. "But defending against terrorism is a Maginot Line, because a determined terrorist will eventually find ways to circumvent the defenses. And since it is unrealistic to believe that we can kill each and every al Qaeda terrorist, this only accentuates the imperative to change U.S. foreign policy. If the United States does not change its policies to stem the growing tide of anti-American sentiment overseas -- particularly within the Islamic world -- all the time, effort, and money spent on other aspects of homeland security will be wasted, because the pool of terrorist recruits will grow and the United States will continue to be a target.... Ultimately, without blaming America, we must be willing to look in the mirror to examine and understand how our own policies -- both foreign and domestic -- may affect the dynamics and evolution of the Muslim terrorist threat."

"Are We Safer?" by Charles Pena (9/13/06)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1815
"¿Estamos más seguros?"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1815

"How to Really Win the War on Terrorism" -- An Independent Policy Forum featuring Charles Pena, Roger Cressey, & Joseph Cirincione (Washington, D.C., Sept. 22)
http://www.independent.org/events/detail.asp?eventID=120

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)
http://www.independent.org/research/copal/

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