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

Volume 10, Issue 9: March 3, 2008

  1. Cuba’s New Boss: Same as the Old Boss
  2. Domestic Terrorism Commission a Threat to Civil Liberties
  3. Bush Administration Continues to Bet on Pakistan’s Musharraf
  4. The New International Arms Race in Space—and How to Avoid It

1) Cuba’s New Boss: Same as the Old Boss

Speculations that Raul Castro will introduce Cuba to pro-market reforms on the “Chinese model” contradict Fidel Castro’s recent speeches. They also conflict with what the Castro brothers learned about political power during the economic reforms of the 1990s. Thus, so long as brother Raul is alive, we should expect Cuba’s domestic policies to continue without dramatic changes, according to Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Global Prosperity.

In a recent speech before the Popular Assembly, Raul Castro signaled “that any attempt to move away from orthodoxy will be seen in the future as an explicit betrayal of Fidel Castro and his revolution,” Vargas Llosa writes. “In fact, the statement would be enough to justify the overthrow of Raul himself should he venture into bold reform.” Vargas Llosa also notes Cuba’s short-lived episode of economic reforms in the 1990s, when the Castro regime briefly encouraged the expansion of small businesses and the establishment of joint ventures between foreign companies and state-run enterprises—until they saw that their reforms had inadvertently created “pockets of power not directly answerable to the island’s leader.”

Concludes Vargas Llosa: “Could it be that the new president simply has no choice but to move very slowly while his brother is alive? It’s possible, but where is the evidence that 76-year-old Raul Castro, who has been a member of the Communist Party since 1953 and continues to live under the shadow of his brother, is the Cuban Gorbachev? So far, such talk can only be attributed to wishful thinking.”

“The Same Old Cuba,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (2/27/08) Spanish Translation

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

The Che Guevara Myth, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

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2) Domestic Terrorism Commission a Threat to Civil Liberties

A proposed bipartisan national commission for the prevention of homegrown terrorism, now under consideration in the U.S. Senate (S. 1959), could jeopardize civil liberties currently protected by the First Amendment, according to Independent Institute Research fellow Donald A. Downs.

Although it would seem to focus on research and data gathering about groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), violent anti-abortion coalitions, and other groups, the commission’s mandate would also include unspecified “other purposes,” a vague term that invites mischief, Downs argues. In addition, the legislation provides that the commission “should not” violate constitutional rights, civil rights, or civil liberties—rather than “shall not.” Furthermore, writes Downs, the commission is probably unnecessary because the USA PATRIOT Act already facilitates the sharing of information about extremist groups by law enforcement agencies, “so long as such monitoring does not transgress the First and Fourth Amendments.”

“Before the Senate takes up this legislation, the public needs more evidence such a commission is needed, its mission will be limited to meaningful national security threats, and safeguards will be put in place to protect free thought and civil liberties,” Downs concludes.

“A Commission that Should Cause Concern,” by Donald A. Downs (Washington Times, 2/27/08) Spanish Translation

Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus, by Donald A. Downs

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3) Bush Administration Continues to Bet on Pakistan’s Musharraf

Even in the wake of Pervez Musharraf’s loss in Pakistan’s parliamentary elections last month, the Bush administration seems to have increased its support for the troubled ruler. According to Ivan Eland, the Bush administration’s alliance with Musharraf has bolstered local support for al-Qaeda and cost the U.S. billions of dollars, all without significant cooperation or accomplishments in return.

“To break the cycle, the United States government should take advantage of the Pakistani elections and withdraw all support and aid from the Pakistani government.” Some of the savings could fund the doubling or tripling of the bounty on Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, currently at $50 million and $25 million, respectively. The al-Qaeda leaders have long been suspected of living in northwestern Pakistan.

“This plan is probably not macho enough for a bellicose U.S. president who is surrounded by hawkish advisors; but it is far better than current U.S. policy toward Pakistan, which has failed to capture or kill bin Laden or Zawahiri in almost six-and-a-half years and has inflamed local Islamists there,” writes Eland. “Even if Bush is unwilling to go this far, he should at least use common sense and end support for the isolated and vastly weakened Musharraf.”

“Bush ‘Triples Down’ in Pakistan,” by Ivan Eland (2/25/08) Spanish Translation

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

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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4) The New International Arms Race in Space—and How to Avoid It

Did the United States test an anti-satellite weapon when it “shot down” an out-of-control spy satellite last month? Or was it a precautionary measure to protect people on the ground who might have been hit with a fuel tank filled with a poisonous gas? If the 1967 space treaty—which designated space as a peaceful place—has become outdated, how can the U.S. ensure the safety of its assets without leading the charge toward a new cold war? Please join us for a policy forum featuring Dr. Peter Hays, Theresa Hitchens, Jeff Kueter, and Mike Moore. Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, will moderate the forum.

SPEAKERS:

Dr. Peter L. Hays is Associate Director of the Eisenhower Center for Space and Defense Studies. Dr. Hays has been Senior Policy Analyst for National Security Space Office in the U.S. Department of Defense; Visiting Fellow, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University; and Executive Editor, Joint Force Quarterly: A Professional Military Journal. He is a co-author of Spacepower for a New Millennium.

Theresa Hitchens is Director of the Center for Defense Information (CDI). She has served as Editor of Defense News, as an intern with Sen. John Glenn and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels, and as Director of Research at the British American Security Information Council. Besides her duties as CDI director, Ms. Hitchens leads CDI’s Space Security Project. The author of Future Security In Space: Charting a Cooperative Course, she serves on the editorial board of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and is a member of Women in International Security and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Her article “Space Wars - Coming to the Sky Near You?” ran in the February 18 issue of Scientific American.

Jeff Kueter is President of the George C. Marshall Institute. The author of numerous studies on national security and the environment, Mr. Kueter received his B.A. in political science and economics at the University of Iowa, where he graduated with honors, and M.A. degrees in both political science and security policy studies and science and technology studies, both from George Washington University. He has served as Research Director at the National Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (NACFAM) and at Washington Nichibei Consultants. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and other major publications.

Mike Moore is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of Twilight War: The Folly of U.S. Space Dominance. He is former editor of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and was general editor of Health Risks and the Press: Perspectives on Media Coverage of Risk Assessment and Health. His articles have appeared in the Brown Journal of World Affairs, Foreign Service Journal, Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures, and The SAIS Review and International Affairs. He has spoken at the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, Fudan University (Shanghai), National Atomic Museum, Lawyers Alliance for World Security, Nuclear-Free Future Foundation, Council on Foreign Relations, Stanley Foundation, International School on Disarmament and Research on Conflicts, Eisenhower Institute, and Nuclear Policy Research Institute.

WHEN:
Friday, March 7, 2008
Registration and refreshments: 10:30 a.m.
Forum 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

WHERE:
The Independent Institute Conference Center
1319 Eighteenth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Map and directions

ADMISSION: Reserve tickets by calling 800-927-8733 or e-mailing dcevents (at) independent.org.

More information and ticket reservations

Praise for Twilight War: The Folly of U.S. Space Dominance, by Mike Moore:

“Sixty years ago I wrote ‘We will take no frontiers into space.’ Twilight War presents riveting and disturbing evidence that some nations are attempting just that—making the heavens unsafe for us all.”
—Sir Arthur C. Clarke, author, 2001: A Space Odyssey

“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

“An excellent and thorough work. A significant addition to the literature of the important issue of space security.”
—Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr., Chairman of the Cypress Fund for Peace and Security; Senior U.S. Diplomat for arms control and nonproliferation, 1970–1997

More about Twilight War

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