Volume 10, Issue 30: July 28, 2008
- No Second Amendment Rights for Felons
- Negotiation and MoneyNot U.S. Troop NumbersExplain Lull in Iraq Violence
- Paraguay at the Crossroads
- CENTCOM: Planning for Empire
- This Week in The Beacon
1) No Second Amendment Rights for Felons
Last month’s Supreme Court decision striking down the Washington, D.C., handgun ban has prompted many defense attorneys across the country to claim their ex-con clientsincluding convicted rapists, robbers, murderershave a Second Amendment right to have guns. Some have filed motions so that their felonious clients can legally obtain firearms, but this maneuver is destined to fail.
In reality, the Court “flatly stated that this right does not apply to criminals,” writes Independent Institute Research Fellow Don B. Kates. In addition, the Founders excluded criminals from the meaning of the term “the people,” according to Kates. “Under the law as they knew it, felons were ‘civilly dead’: They had no legal rights whatever,” he continues. “All their property (including guns) was forfeit.”
Kates, a criminologist and former professor of constitutional and criminal law, also explains another reason why violent ex-convicts will not be obtaining a gun legally: the vast majority of those involved in life-threatening violence have a long criminal record that precludes them from having guns: “For instance, 90 percent of U.S. adult murderers have adult records (exclusive of their often extensive juvenile record),” continues Kates, “with an average adult crime career of six or more years, including four major felonies.”
“Gun Rights for Felons?” by Don B. Kates (New York Post, 7/22/08)
Purchase The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, by Stephen P. Halbrook.
2) Negotiation and MoneyNot U.S. Troop NumbersExplain Lull in Iraq Violence
The key reason that anti-U.S. and internecine sectarian violence in Iraq has fallen probably is not the surge of U.S. troop numbersthat tactic failed when it was employed in 2005. Instead, the lull in violence is due to U.S. military leaders having taken two actions that the administration is unlikely to publicize widely, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, director of the Center on Peace & Liberty. The one-two punch consists of deploying diplomatic carrots rather than lethal sticksnamely, negotiating with Shiite cleric Moktaka al-Sadr and making payments to Sunni guerilla groups.
Make no mistake: paying off your enemies is always a better and cheaper strategy than expending the blood and treasure to fight them, writes Eland in a new op-ed. Yet paying off enemies to reduce the violence is not a long-term solution to stability in Iraq. In that part of the world, if you quit making the pay offs or conditions change in such a volatile and fractured society, violence could quickly escalate again.
Elandlong a proponent of using a U.S. troop withdrawal to motivate the fractious elements in Iraq to negotiate a power-sharing arrangement with decentralized governancefears that Barack Obama and John McCain are missing the big picture. The al Qaeda that threatens the United States is in Pakistan, not Afghanistan or Iraq, Eland continues. Thus, the U.S. should withdraw all of its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and concentrate on dealing with al Qaeda in Pakistan.
Did the Surge Work? by Ivan Eland (7/28/08)
3) Paraguay at the Crossroads
President-elect Fernando Lugo will face huge obstacles to fostering a prosperous democracy when he takes power in Paraguay in August. As Carlos Alberto Montaner, advisor to the Independent Institutes Center on Global Prosperity notes, the former Catholic bishop can hardly look to positive role models among his immediate neighbors. Argentina under the Kirchners is experiencing a new form of Peronism. Brazil? Lugo will likely be butting heads with it. Bolivia? Morales is Chavez light.
An alternative way to frame the choice for Lugo is to consider not Paraguays geographically closest neighbors, but rather two countries that exemplify widely divergent visions of economic development: Venezuela and Ireland. Which of the two approaches is he more likely to emulate?
If he is guided by the rancorous nonsense of Liberation Theology, his country will undoubtedly follow the Venezuelan road and plunge into a deep political and economic crisis, writes Montaner. If he chooses to look to Ireland (or Chile, close to home), hell be able to serve his neediest compatriots, which is what he apparently desires. I havent the slightest notion of what hell do, but, with the passing of years, Ive learned that optimism is usually followed by frustration. Lamentably.
Paraguay: Ireland or Venezuela? by Carlos Alberto Montaner (7/16/08)
Center on Global Prosperity (Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Director)
Purchase Lessons from the Poor: The Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit, edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa.
Purchase Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa.
4) CENTCOM: Planning for Empire
In May of 2007, Admiral William J. Fallon, then head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), asked Congress for $62 million for an ammunition storage facility at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, a station he called the centerpiece for the CENTCOM Master Plan for future access to and operations in Central Asia. What is the U.S. military leadership doing and planning to do in that region? Adm. Fallon discussed CENTCOMs operations in terms of five broad goals: 1) setting conditions for stability in Iraq, 2) expanding governance and security in Afghanistan, 3) degrading violent extremist networks and operations, 4) strengthening relationships and influencing states to contribute to regional stability, and 5) posturing the force to build and sustain joint and combined war fighting capabilities and readiness.
Notice that except possibly for the third item listed (degrading violent extremist networks and operations), none of this has more than a very remote connection with defending the people of the United States against foreign enemies, writes Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs.
Higgs pulls no punches in his assessment of Fallons testimony rationalizing U.S. military involvement in Central Asia and beyond. Referring to Fallons impeccable delivery in bureaucrateseand its apparently favorable reception by members of CongressHiggs writes the following: Of course, its all a solemn face, a polished and meaningless charade staged purely for public-relations purposesa ceremonial hors doeuvres served in public before the diners consume the entrée, which consists of a massive amount of the taxpayers money ladled out to the armed forces and their civilian contractors. On Iraq, Higgs writes: Indeed, a mere pullout is nearly inconceivable, despite the great amount of talk that goes on about it on both sides. On the Iraqi side, this talk is sincere; on the U.S. side, it is all for show. On Afghanistan, he writes: The likelihood that outside forces will ever impose their designs on Afghanistans backward but fiercely resilient tribesmen verges on nil. On U.S. friends in the Persian Gulf, he writes: An honest observer feels compelled to recognize, however, that every one of the filthy-rich sheiks in these desert despotisms would gladly cut Fallons throat if they werent raking in such fabulous amounts of money from the current arrangements. Higgs concludes by arguing that Fallon omitted a fundamental truth about CENTCOMs operations on in that part of the world: He fails to mention, however, that the people of southwest Asia would harbor no grievances whatsoever against Americans if the U.S. government had only possessed the intelligence and the decency to stay out of their affairs.
CENTCOMs Master Plan and U.S. Global Hegemony, by Robert Higgs (7/22/08)
Depression, War, and Cold War, by Robert Higgs
Resurgence of the Warfare State: The Crisis Since 9/11, by Robert Higgs
Opposing the Crusader State: Alternatives to Global Interventionism, edited by Robert Higgs and Carl P. Close
5) This Week in The Beacon
Peter Klein celebrates New Edition of Hayeks Early Works
Robert Higgs exposes the Canadian threat
The Beacon invites your comments.