Volume 10, Issue 2: January 14, 2008
- Twilight War Warns of Arms War in Space
- Rising Gold Prices Signal Inflation Worries
- Gas about Public Transit
- Scholars Chart New Directions for Peace and Security
1) Twilight War Warns of Arms War in Space
For years, President Eisenhower’s vision of “space for peaceful purposes” has been under attack by self-proclaimed “space warriors” who believe that American security requires that the United States seek to militarily dominate space. At their behest, the current and past three administrations have opposed the United States becoming a party to a new treaty for the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space.
In the just-released Independent Institute book Twilight War: The Folly of U.S. Space Dominance, Mike Moore, former editor of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, argues that the U.S. merely provokes conflict when it presumes to be the exception to the rule. Rejecting treaty negotiations while militarizing space, he concludes, would render America unable to lead by example and could undermine, rather than enhance, American security.
“Unilateral military actions in space will not guarantee American security; they will guarantee conflict, and possibly, a new cold war,” Moore writes. Instead of trying to stop an arms race in space by starting one, the U.S. must radically rethink its strategy. “The space warriors I have met have beenwithout exceptiondirect and honorable regarding their beliefs,” Moore continues. “Twilight War questions their views, not their motives.”
Advance Praise for Twilight War: The Folly of U.S. Space Dominance:
“A well-balanced, comprehensive and clearly written analysis that examines the critical issue of space policy in the context of international security and fundamental American values.”
Lt. General Robert G. Gard, Jr. (USA, Ret.), Senior Military Fellow, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
“…riveting and disturbing…”
Sir Arthur C. Clarke, author, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Purchase Twilight War: The Folly of U.S. Space Dominance, by Mike Moore.
2) Rising Gold Prices Signal Inflation Worries
Judging by the run-up in the price of gold, people’s confidence in the U.S. monetary system has waned since 2001, but especially over the past month. Investors worry that inflation and a resulting weakening dollar will inflict lasting damage on the U.S. economy. It is this fearand the excessive monetary growth that drives price inflationthat has pushed the price of gold above $900 per once, according to Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Global Prosperity.
“Unlike oil, whose rising demand has a direct connection to increasing economic production in places such as China, the demand for gold is not tied to productive needs so much as to the psychological factor we usually call insecurity,” writes Vargas Llosa in his latest syndicated column for the Washington Post Writers Group.
“Gold, which used to be a symbol of the greed of empires, has ironically become a grass-roots revolt against the ‘imperial’ management of money by the state,” he continues. “In colonial times, gold was actually the creator of, rather than a safe haven from, inflation: by flooding the European market with bullion from the Americas, the Spanish empire caused a general distortion of prices. Today, the general distortion of pricesreflected in the credit and housing market crisishas led people, through their investment fund managers, to rush toward gold in search of protection.”
Purchase Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa.
Purchase Money and the Nation State: The Financial Revolution, Government and the World Monetary System, edited by Kevin Dowd and Richard H. Timberlake.
Purchase The Che Guevara Myth and the Future of Liberty, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa.
3) Gas about Public Transit
Gasoline tax hikes are often rationalized as a way to encourage commuters to take public transportation. Yet as gas prices have risen dramatically in recent years, Americans have continued to purchase more and more light trucks, including SUVs and mini-vans, compared to the more fuel-efficient automobile. Auto travel has risen 23 percent from 1995 to 2005twice as fast as population growthwhile public transportation’s share of travel has declined from about 7 percent of the total to around 6 percent.
“Many Americanseven those with limited budgetsconsciously choose to spend more on certain things, while perhaps cutting back in other areas,” transportation economist John Semmens, a contributor to the Independent Institute book Street Smart, writes in a new op-ed.
Government transportation planners therefore should reevaluate policies that penalize automobile drivers. “Public transportation is slow compared to automobile travel, with the typical trip taking twice as long as driving a car,” Semmens explains. “Far from being disdained and disparaged as an ‘energy waster,’ the automobile should be hailed for its ability to save our most precious resource: time.”
“Gas about Public Transit,” by John Semmens (Washington Times, 1/11/08)
Purchase Street Smart: Competition, Entrepreneurship and the Future of Roads, edited by Gabriel Roth.
4) Scholars Chart New Directions for Peace and Security
Conscious of their historic opportunity to create a government based on classical liberal principles, America’s Founders favored a largely noninterventionist foreign policy designed to diminish and contain conflict, protect noncombatants during wars, broaden the rights of neutral powers, and extend free trade and reciprocity between nations, economist and historian Jeffrey Rogers Hummel told the audience at the 6 November Independent Policy Forum, “New Directions for Peace and Security.”
Whereas George Washington had made the political case for trade with all and entanglements with none, 19th-century English writer Richard Cobden outlined an economic case, explained economist Edward Stringham, the evening’s second speaker and a contributor to the recent Independent Institute book, Opposing the Crusader State: Alternatives to Global Interventionism. Cobden maintained that the British empire’s enormous military expenditures benefited only special interests and weren’t necessary to secure trade routes, as Parliament’s mercantilists had claimed.
In the current era, “democratic nation building” has surpassed mercantilism as the leading rationale for foreign interventionism by the U.S. government. Success at planting democracy has been elusive, however, because its roots are poorly understood, according to political scientist James Payne, the evening’s third speaker, who contributed three chapters to Opposing the Crusader State. Open elections, minority representation, the rule of law and the like, he argued, are signs of an underlying political health created when a society’s leaders forsake violence. Therefore, those institutions cannot be successfully imposed on a culture in which political violence is common.
Finally, Independent Institute Academic Affairs Director Carl Close, co-editor of Opposing the Crusader State, examined common causes of foreign-policy failures and their relationship to poor leadership, conflicting goals, and a political process poorly suited to eliciting consistently good responses from policymakers and voters. Systemic failures in U.S. foreign policy, he said, warrant systemic reforms. He then discussed the relevance of the foreign-policy vision of Senator Robert A. Taft, and how protecting private-property rights and fostering free trade can contribute to world peace.
Purchase Opposing the Crusader State: Alternatives to Global Interventionism, edited by Robert Higgs and Carl Close.