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

Volume 12, Issue 27: July 6, 2010

  1. Independent Institute Reissues Classic Book on America’s Antimilitarist Tradition
  2. Economic Disaster to Strike Again Unless Governments Change Course
  3. General Petraeus Goes to Afghanistan
  4. The Supreme Court and the Battle for Second Amendment Rights (Oakland, CA; 7/22/10)
  5. This Week in The Beacon

1) Independent Institute Reissues Classic Book on America’s Antimilitarist Tradition

To anyone who believes the false notion that Americans always love conscription, war, blood, and “guts and glory,” distinguished historian Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr.’s classic book The Civilian and the Military—first published in 1956 and just reissued by the Independent Institute—presents an entirely different perspective. “Though involved in numerous wars, the United States has avoided becoming a militaristic nation, and the American people, though hardly pacifists, have been staunch opponents of militarism,” Ekirch writes. Favoring civil authority rather than military rule, he argues, is a tradition essential to American freedom and democracy.

A careful scholar in full command of his craft, Ekirch displays a knack for uncovering antimilitarist movements and sentiments that history has all but forgotten. Ekirch shows, for example, that after the American Revolution, many prominent patriots opposed the idea of maintaining a peacetime army. Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that the new nation should maintain, not a standing army, but a naval force that “can never danger our liberties, nor occasion bloodshed; a land force would do both.” James Madison, the “father” of the U.S. Constitution, said he was unsure of whether Congress even possessed the authority to create a standing army; and in 1783, retiring president George Washington recommended only a small regular army, to protect the frontier from Indian attacks, and a well-regulated militia.

With the Independent Institute’s reissuance of The Civilian and the Military—a companion to Ekirch’s other recently reissued classic, The Decline of American Liberalism—a new generation of readers can discover how the American antimilitarist tradition played out from the Founding Era to the Cold War.

Purchase The Civilian and the Military: A History of the American Anti-Militarist Tradition, by Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr. Foreword by Ralph Raico.

Read a detailed book summary.

Read the press release.

The Decline of American Liberalism, by Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr. Foreword by Robert Higgs.

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2) Economic Disaster to Strike Again Unless Governments Change Course

Global financial leaders who met at the G-20 summit in Toronto called for expansionary economic policies that can trigger a virtual replay of the financial debacle of 2007-2008 and ensuing economic recession, according to Alvaro Vargas Llosa, senior fellow at the Independent Institute.

Although some G-20 participants called for fiscal restraint, too many others recommended more government spending and expansionary monetary policies. Ironically, the Switzerland-based Bank of International Settlements, which pushed for expansionary economic policies a few years ago, now warns—wisely, in the estimation of Vargas Llosa—that another economic disaster will ensue if governments keep spending beyond their means.

“Deficits, debt, and loose money are what caused the bubble,” writes Vargas Llosa. “Making policy decisions necessary to create the environment for a sustained recovery and avoid future bubbles is tough enough when any remotely responsible measure is met with the national howling we have seen against pension-fund reform in France or spending cuts in Greece and Spain. Making them when international leaders and respected observers seem to have lost it requires truly titanic efforts.”

“The G-20: Has Everyone Lost It?” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (6/30/10) Spanish Translation

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

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

The Che Guevara Myth and the Future of Liberty, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

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3) General Petraeus Goes to Afghanistan

Politicians and pundits alike are singing the praises of Gen. David Petraeus, the former U.S. commander in Iraq who has replaced the loose-talking and arguably insubordinate former head of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

Many credit the reduction in violence in Iraq to Petraeus’s anti-guerrilla warfare strategy (a.k.a. “the surge”), but Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland argues that Iraq’s relative pacification owes more to paying Iraqi Sunni insurgents to fight al-Qaeda and to prior ethnic cleansing. Once the payments stop, Iraq’s counterinsurgency will intensify, Eland predicts. Thus, those who think that Petraeus can quash violence in Afghanistan by applying the same recipe that seems to have helped in Iraq—at least temporarily—are likely to become bitterly disappointed. In short, they will learn that Petraeus does not walk on water.

“Thus the second coming of Petraeus may instead resemble the return of storied coach Joe Gibbs to the Washington Redskins,” writes Eland. “Although he had been in four Super Bowls during his first tenure as coach, his resurrection fizzled because the NFL he returned to was not the same one he left. For Petraeus, Afghanistan is not Iraq.”

 “The Second Coming of Petraeus,” by Ivan Eland (6/30/10) Spanish Translation

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

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

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4) The Supreme Court and the Battle for Second Amendment Rights (Oakland, CA; 7/22/10)

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago that the Second Amendment bars the states and their jurisdictions from infringing upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. What led to the Court’s landmark decision? Is the battle for Second Amendment rights over?

In Securing Civil Rights—a book cited by the Supreme Court in McDonald and its precursor, District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)—noted attorney and Independent Institute Research Fellow Stephen P. Halbrook demonstrates that both supporters and opponents of the Fourteenth Amendment believed its ratification would make the Bill of Rights—including the Second Amendment—binding on the states. In fact, a key purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to ensure that law-abiding former slaves could not legally be disarmed and thus could use firearms for self-defense against the Ku Klux Klan and others.

Please join us on the evening of Thursday, July 22, at the Independent Institute Conference Center in Oakland, Calif., as Halbrook and Lincoln University Professor of Constitutional Law Donald E. Kilmer, Jr., discuss the past and future of the right to bear arms and what it means to take the Bill of Rights seriously.

When:

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wine & Cheese Reception: 6:30 PM
Program: 7:00 PM

Where:

The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621
Maps and Directions

Admission:

$15 • $10 for Institute Members.
$35 Special Admission includes one copy of Securing Civil Rights • $30 for members

Event website

Praise for Securing Civil Rights: Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866-1876, by Stephen P. Halbrook:

“[Halbrook] provides overwhelming evidence that the Fourteenth Amendment was meant to protect the right of individuals to be armed and that this particular right was a major concern of its framers. He offers scholars in the field a wealth of quotations from the historical debates.... Above all, Halbrook helps restore the historical record of a badly served constitutional amendment.”—American Historical Review

Securing Civil Rights: Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, by Stephen P. Halbrook

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

That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right, by Stephen P. Halbrook

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5) This Week in The Beacon

Here are the past week’s postings to the Independent Institute blog:

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