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

Volume 15, Issue 13: March 26, 2013

  1. Lessons from the Iraq War
  2. Conservatives Can Find Heroes Better than Reagan
  3. Yet More Climate-Change Hype
  4. Fascinating Questions from The Independent Review
  5. New Blog Posts
  6. Selected News Alerts

The Independent Review: Subscribe or renew today and get a free copy of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Crisis and Levithan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, by Robert Higgs.


1) Lessons from the Iraq War

Last week marked the 10th anniversary of the U.S. attack on Iraq that began the second of two wars the United States has led against Saddam Hussein. The Independent Institute’s Robert Higgs and Anthony Gregory discussed its significance recently in a symposium at Reason magazine. Let’s begin with excerpts from Higgs’s piece.

“Although certain lawyers might concoct a variety of avowedly ‘legal’ justifications for the war launched in 2003, any fair-minded person must see that if this war does not qualify as a war of aggression, it is difficult to identify one that does,” writes Higgs, who criticized the war as it was happening, in a series of articles later collected in Resurgence of the Warfare State: The Crisis Since 9/11. “Among the war’s countless consequences,” he continues, “are more than a hundred thousand deaths, innumerable physical and psychic injuries, vast destruction of property, and displacement of millions of people from their homes. By comparison, any conceivable good that came of the war was relatively insignificant.” Higgs also notes that the war’s chief architects are widely known—indeed they took credit for their respective roles and reaped rewards. “None of them were ever indicted by a U.S. court,” he adds. “In short, they have got off scot-free. Crime pays.”

Anthony Gregory discusses some of the legal fallout from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in his forthcoming book from Cambridge University Press, The Power of Habeas Corpus in America: From the King’s Prerogative to the War on Terror. Here’s a taste of his hard-hitting contribution to the Reason symposium: “The Iraq war qualifies as the worst U.S. government project in my lifetime.... Saddam’s genuine brutality never justified killing people who happened to live in Iraq.... Bush’s bungling has exacerbated jihadism and will reverberate for decades.... Those who were wrong should fess up and commit themselves to peace. Those who excuse or downplay this atrocity will always suffer in credibility.... The least we can do is learn: Never, ever—ever—trust the war party again.”

The Iraq War: 10 Years Later, by Robert Higgs (Reason, 3/19/13)

The Iraq War: 10 Years Later, by Anthony Gregory (Reason, 3/19/13)

Resurgence of the Warfare State: The Crisis Since 9/11, by Robert Higgs

The Power of Habeas Corpus in America: From the King's Prerogative to the War on Terror, by Anthony Gregory

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2) Conservatives Can Find Heroes Better than Reagan

Some folks might have thought that the ghost of Ronald Reagan was the guest of honor earlier this month at CPAC—the annual gathering of conservative pundits, activists, and politicians in Washington, DC. The conference speakers invoked the name of the 40th President of the United States at almost every opportunity, it seemed, but according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, who spoke on a conference panel, conservatives who truly desire limited, constitutional government do their cause no good by idolizing the Gipper.

For starters, Reagan’s fiscal record leaves a lot to be desired, Eland explains in his latest op-ed: “He was number one in post-Truman presidents in increasing average annual debt as a proportion of GDP.” Moreover, Reagan’s reputation as a tax hawk is undeserved. “Reagan is last among post–World War II Republicans in reducing average annual taxes as a percentage of GDP.”

Conservatives would do better, Eland argues, by modeling their policies after those of Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge: “Harding/Coolidge period is probably the only time in American history that the Republican Party, when holding the presidency, actually stood for small government.... The Reagan-like model of incurring huge debt by muscle flexing overseas needs to be replaced by a modern-day version of Harding/Coolidge military and fiscal restraint.”

Should Reagan or Harding/Coolidge Be the Model for Conservatives to Follow?, by Ivan Eland (3/20/13)

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

“CPAC Interview: Author Talks ‘Recarving Rushmore’” Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, author of Recarving Rushmore interviewed at CPAC Conference on Breitbart News Network

CPAC 2013: Senior Fellow Ivan Eland on “Too Many American Wars” Panel

“CPAC Interview: Ivan Eland From The Independent Institute” Senior Fellow Ivan Eland interviewed on Talk Radio News Service

“CPAC 2013 Tries To Escape Shadows Of Iraq War” Senior Fellow Ivan Eland quoted in The Huffington Post

“Conservatives Ponder: Are We Fighting Too Many Wars?” Senior Fellow Ivan Eland in The Wall Street Journal Washington Wire blog (among many others)

“CPAC 2013: The War Party” Senior Fellow Ivan Eland quoted in The American Conservative

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3) Yet More Climate-Change Hype

Two recent articles about climate change prompt atmospheric physicist and Independent Institute Research Fellow S. Fred Singer to raise an eyebrow. The first comes from the New York Times. Reporter Justin Gillis discusses a news release from Science magazine touting a forthcoming article. Unfortunately, Gillis fails to solicit comments from scientists whose work might raise important questions for the media to ask about the study.

Gunnar Myhre of Norway, for example, has showed that the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide diminishes as CO2 increases. “This may mean,” Singer writes, “that even if CO2 was responsible to some extent in aiding the ancient warming, the rapid deglaciation at the end of the last ice age, its effect may not be relevant to today’s situation, where the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is more than double the level during the last ice age.”

The second article is the study itself, co-authored by researchers from Oregon State University and Harvard. The study purports to show that increases in carbon dioxide levels have caused increases in temperature—a revival of the “hockey stick” chart formerly touted by the International Panel on Climate Change and since discredited. Among other problems, according to Singer, the study fails to clearly convey that its temperature reconstruction blends together temperature data and proxy data. Moreover, the study uses methods that smooth the temperature variations of century-long periods. “With long smoothing times like a century, one cannot expect to see temperature spikes that may only be a decade long,” Singer explains. The whole enterprise—including Science magazine’s rush to publication and to media—stinks to the stratosphere. “It may impress laymen,” Singer concludes, “but it will have no significant impact on the real science debate about [anthropogenic global warming].”

The Anatomy of Climate Science Hype, by S. Fred Singer (American Thinker, 3/5/13)

Another Hockey Stick?, by S. Fred Singer (American Thinker, 3/13/13)

Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate, by S. Fred Singer

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4) Fascinating Questions from The Independent Review

The Spring 2013 issue of The Independent Review—the Independent Institute’s flagship scholarly journal, edited by Robert Higgs—is hot off the press. Below you’ll find links to articles and book reviews that address a host of intriguing questions:

  • Why have domestic police agencies across the United States resorted increasingly to “no-knock” raids and other military-type tactics formerly considered off-limits to them? Read the article.
  • Why have the politico-economic pathologies associated with “crony capitalism” become more common with the growth of government? Read the article.
  • Why were many of the early transcontinental railroads associated with massive corruption, tremendous capital misallocation, and environmental damage? Read the review.
  • If the market economy is to triumph in the marketplace of ideas, which message must its advocates emphasize? Read the review.
  • In what way do housing polices in the United States amount to a kind of class warfare by elites and upper-income groups against the working class? Read the review.
  • What are the assumptions that underlie proposals to enact “non-coercive” tax incentives and penalties put forth to encourage citizens to live the good life? Read the review.
  • Can government programs that encourage consumers to “buy local” raise the price of locally grown produce and undermine “food security” in the developing world? Read the review.
  • How has the United Kingdom’s abandonment of classical liberalism created problems in education, public health, urban planning, and national defense? Read the review.
  • What does Georgetown University political philosopher Jason Brennan’s new book on libertarianism offer that others on the subject don’t? Read the review.
  • How did Congressman Ron Paul rise from obscurity to the helm of a national political movement? Read the review.

Subscribers to our print edition will also see the following questions addressed in our Spring 2013 issue:

  • Why do historians give their highest rankings to the U.S. presidents who have involved the nation in the wars that have claimed the most American lives?
  • Why might scholars wish to reconsider their praise of historian Gabriel Kolko’s work on the history of regulatory reform?
  • How do recent research and modern economic tools fill in the gaps in Edward Gibbon’s analysis of the decline and fall of the Roman empire?
  • Political theorists John Rawls and F. A. Hayek can hardly be viewed as allies on the issues of what constitutes the good society and the proper means to achieve it, but what would a Rawlsian justification for Hayekian classical liberalism look like?
  • Why do Gus diZerega and Robert H. Nelson disagree on the question of whether or not economics and environmentalism are belief systems at odds?

The Independent Review (Spring 2013)

Special Offer: Subscribe or renew now and receive a free copy of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, by Robert Higgs!

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5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

You can find the Independent Institute’s Spanish-language website here and blog here.

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6) Selected News Alerts

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