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

Volume 11, Issue 15: April 13, 2009

  1. Partitioning Iraq Offers Best Hope for Peace and Stability, Ivan Eland Argues in New Book
  2. Robert Higgs on Fear and the Growth of Government
  3. Gun-Control Rhetoric Veers Off Target
  4. Justice Comes to Peru
  5. This Week in The Beacon

1) Partitioning Iraq Offers Best Hope for Peace and Stability, Ivan Eland Argues in New Book

In Partitioning for Peace: An Exit Strategy for Iraq, Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow and Director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Peace and Liberty, offers a practical strategy for withdrawing U.S. armed forces from the quagmire of Mesopotamia. That undertaking may be trickier than it seems: an ill-conceived withdrawal, some analysts claim, could create a power vacuum that would spark renewed sectarian violence—possibly leading to the return of U.S. forces to Iraq.

How might such an outcome be avoided? The first step, Eland argues, is to recognize that Iraq’s historically antagonistic religious and ethnic groups fear that if one group dominates the central government, it will use its power to the detriment of the others. Thus, the best option is for Iraqis to partition their country into autonomous regions and to delegate to the central government only a few basic functions, such as foreign policy and allowing free trade between regions.

Many critics have raised doubts that such a scheme could work, but Eland refutes each criticism deftly and argues forcefully that partitioning represents the best hope for post-occupation Iraq—if it’s done correctly. Drawing on the numerous historical examples of partitions, he discusses fifteen principles that must be heeded to maximize the likelihood that a partitioned Iraq would provide peace and security.

“Obama and his foreign policy experts, as well as anyone interested in an exit strategy from Iraq, should read this thoughtful analysis.” —Thomas Gale Moore, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

“In Partitioning for Peace, Ivan Eland writes a common sense challenge to the conventional wisdom that stability is best served by the continuation of every country currently on the map. In fact, holding countries together can be a force for instability, as Eland convincingly demonstrates in the case of Iraq.”
—Peter W. Galbraith, former Ambassador to Croatia; author, The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End

Partitioning for Peace: An Exit Strategy for Iraq, by Ivan Eland

Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, by Ivan Eland

Ivan Eland on C-SPAN2. Interview by Rep. Ron Paul.

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2) Robert Higgs on Fear and the Growth of Government

On April 5, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs spent three hours discussing fear, crises, and the growth of government on “In Depth,” an interview show on C-SPAN2’s Book TV. If you missed his brilliant performance, you can catch it here.

In his latest op-ed, Higgs questions the underlying rationale for the government’s multibillion dollar financial bailout: the notion that the collapse of insurance giant AIG and the large commercial and investment banks would bring down the entire financial system, resulting in an economic catastrophe of epic proportions. “In a thorough statistical study published by the Journal of Financial Economics in December 2007, Sohnke Bartram, John Hund, and Gregory Brown conclude that systemic risk in the international financial system is actually very small even during major crises,” writes Higgs. “Here as elsewhere, a simple domino theory fails badly.”

Higgs also puts into perspective the scandal of government bailout money going to pay bonuses for AIG executives: “People seem not to appreciate . . . that the $165 million scheduled to be paid in AIG bonuses amounts to approximately 0.00002 of the total amount the government has dispensed in its recent commitments for loans, capital infusions, ‘stimulus’ spending, loan guarantees, asset swaps, and other utter (and utterly destructive) wastes. The public ought not to allow a minnow to divert its attention from the whale in its living room.”

“Government Exploits Crisis to Seize New Powers,” by Robert Higgs (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 4/5/09)

“In Depth: Robert Higgs” (Book TV on C-SPAN2, 4/5/09)

“Midnight in the Garden of My Hate Mail,” by Robert Higgs (4/8/09)

Depression, War, and Cold War: Challenging the Myths of Conflict and Prosperity, by Robert Higgs

Robert Higgs on War, Taxes, and Economic Crisis (YouTube.com)

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3) Gun-Control Rhetoric Veers Off Target

In the wake of several deadly shootings across the country, public debate about gun control has resurfaced. One canard trotted out by some gun-control activists is that previously law-abiding citizens commit most of the murders, but in reality the exact opposite is true: a large body of evidence shows that murderers are almost invariably veteran criminals, according to criminologist and attorney Don B. Kates, Jr., a research fellow at the Independent Institute.

“A New York Times study of the 1,662 murders in that city between 2003 and 2005 found that ‘more than 90 percent of the killers had criminal records,’” writes Kates in an op-ed for the San Francisco Examiner. “Baltimore police records show similar statistics for its murder suspects in 2006. In Milwaukee, police reported that most murder suspects in 2007 had criminal records, while ‘a quarter of them [killed while] on probation or parole.’ The great majority of Illinois murderers from the years 1991–2000 had prior felony records. Eighty percent of Atlanta murder arrestees had previously been arrested at least once for a drug offense; 70 percent had three or more prior drug arrests—in addition to their arrests for other crimes.”

Having lost last year’s landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller, in which a majority on the Supreme Court decided that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right, gun-control advocates are searching desperately for new strategies and tactics. Those claiming that firearms, in the hands of ordinary citizens, pose a grave risk to public safety, however, will find that their arguments misfire.

“Gun Control Restricts Those Least Likely to Commit Violent Crimes,” by Don B. Kates, Jr. (San Francisco Examiner, 4/6/09) Spanish Translation

The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, by Stephen Halbrook

More on gun control

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4) Justice Comes to Peru

Alberto Fujimori, the former president of Peru, was sentenced last week by that country’s highest court to 25 years in prison for organizing and covering up two massacres committed by the Colina army detachment in the early 1990s. Ostensibly an anti-terrorist army detachment, the Colina group killed at least 50 Peruvians in nine separate incidents, including 15 people killed while attending a barbeque in the Barrios Altos neighborhood of Lima and nine students and a professor from La Cantuta University who were kidnapped and killed.

Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa—a native of Peru intimately familiar with its political travails—lauded the sentence: “It is extraordinarily fitting that, despite the disruptive actions carried out by Fujimori’s party since he was extradited to be tried for human rights violations and corruption, and the campaign of intimidation against the prosecutors, the families of the victims and judges, the court handed him a long sentence.”

More broadly, the conviction and sentencing of Fujimori offer new hope that political leaders who destroy their country’s institutions will face legal responsibility for their actions. “In many ways, the history of Latin America has been one succession of strongmen who did just that,” writes Vargas Llosa. “Fujimori’s sentence sends the message that the tradition does not have to be honored forever.”

“Crime of State,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (4/8/09) Spanish Translation

Lessons from the Poor: Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

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

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5) This Week in The Beacon

Below are the past week’s offerings from The Beacon, the web log of the Independent Institute. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

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