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

Volume 6, Issue 50: December 13, 2004

  1. Government Intervention on Steroids?
  2. Iran's Nukes
  3. George W. Bush, Meet Teddy Roosevelt

1) Government Intervention on Steroids?

Baseball fans, team owners and players have expressed disenchantment, but not surprise, over the presence of steroids in America's favorite pastime. The question is, is this a problem the government should try to correct, or should professional baseball be left to establish its own policy?

A strong case can be made for letting the pros, and not the government, determine a steroid policy. Even before the revelations in the BALCO scandal, major league baseball was moving toward testing players for steroids. Anonymous testing was conducted in 2003, and five to seven percent of players tested showed signs of steroid use.

Unfortunately, rather than let the leagues and players continue to develop a policy for remedying the problem, the government undermined those efforts, argues Benjamin Powell, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation, in a new op-ed.

"The 2003 tests coded each specimen and player with a number so individuals would remain anonymous unless the two lists were combined," writes Powell. "This year federal agents executed search warrants to seize both the coded list of players and the specimens. Given these federal actions the players' union is rightly concerned that any testing by major league baseball might lead to the government violating players' civil rights."

Senator John McCain recently threatened to introduce legislation requiring steroid testing unless Major League Baseball developed a testing program that he considered effective. If the federal seizure of steroid test results is any indication, the major league will be allowed to have any type of testing it wants -- so long as the government gets an option to prosecute any violations.

"Baseball is a business that responds to consumer demands," writes Powell. "Senator McCain should have no more influence over what policies the organization adopts than any other fan. The senator is free to attend games or not. There should be no special role for government in determining what type of policy gets adopted. The government's only role should be to commit to not using major league players' private test results for public prosecution."

See "Government Legislation: A Bad Idea for Baseball," by Benjamin Powell (12/7/04) http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1434

For more on government involvement in professional sports, see "Pro Team Sports: Are Politics and Corruption Winning?" featuring Rodney Fort and Roger G. Noll (Independent Policy Forum Transcript, 3/7/00)

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2) Iran's Nukes

Foreign-policy pundits have suggested that the United States might attack Iran in response to that country's suspected development of a covert nuclear weapons program. But "attacking Iran would be a bigger folly than invading Iraq," according to Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty.

Not only are U.S. forces very busy with Iraq and Afghanistan, apparently Iran has taken steps to ensure that any covert nuclear facility is not as vulnerable to air strikes as, for example, Iraq's Osirak reactor was to the Israeli attack that destroyed it in 1981. "They have hidden, hardened, buried or placed their nuclear facilities in heavily populated areas," writes Eland.

Speaking of learning lessons, according to Eland the Iranian nuclear weapons program was initiated largely in response to the observation that the United States treats nuclear-armed nations, such as North Korea, more gingerly than nations without nukes.

"With no viable military options, even the aggressive Bush administration will probably be forced to give peace a chance," Eland continues.

"If the United States can negotiate with the erratic Kim Jong Il in North Korea, it can certainly do so with the authoritarian mullahs in Iran. The secret in both sets of negotiations might be to recognize that these 'rogue states' might be genuinely frightened of a U.S. invasion and willing to accept a non-aggression pact with the United States in exchange for a verified elimination of their nuclear weapons.

"If that doesn't work, the United States may just have to live with unfriendly nations having nuclear weapons. The U.S. allowed the Soviet Union to obtain nuclear weapons in the 1940s and radical Maoist China to get them in the 1960s. No matter how quirky or radical a nation's leaders, if a government has a home address that can be incinerated by the most capable nuclear arsenal on the planet, that government can be deterred from attacking the United States," Eland concludes.

See "Next Target: Iran?" by Ivan Eland (12/13/04)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1438

To purchase THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed,
by Ivan Eland, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=54

Center on Peace & Liberty
http://www.independent.org/research/copal/

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3) George W. Bush, Meet Teddy Roosevelt

Although President George W. Bush will be remembered for his "Bush Doctrine" of projecting U.S. military abroad "pre-emptively," a similar policy of pre-emptive imperialism was enunciated by President Teddy Roosevelt -- TR -- according to historians and Independent Institute Research Fellows William Marina and David T. Beito.

"In his Annual Message to the Congress on December 6, 1904, Roosevelt stated that in keeping with the Monroe Doctrine, the United States was justified in exercising 'international policy power' to put an end to chronic unrest or wrongdoing in the Western Hemisphere," write Marina and Beito. "Thus, while the original Monroe Doctrine had sought to end European intervention in the Americas, TR's new Corollary justified U.S. intervention in the hemisphere."

Teddy Roosevelt's influence was felt in such far-away places as Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, and Panama. In 1903, TR tried to persuade his cabinet that the Panama caper was necessary to advance Western Civilization, but not everyone was buying. "When he turned to Secretary of War Elihu Root, to inquire if he had fully justified his policy, Root replied that he certainly had -- he had been 'accused of seduction' and had 'proved conclusively' that he was 'guilty of rape,'" Marina and Beito continue.

American taxpayers are also harmed by the projection of U.S. military power abroad, they argue.

"Neo-conservatives around George W. Bush remain obsessed with extending U.S. military power around the world but seem oblivious to the emerging economic crisis facing this country. Last month alone, the federal deficit reached $55 billion and the U.S. Congress approved a new national debt level of $8 trillion. How long can this legacy of Teddy Roosevelt's imperialism, this internal contradiction of empire, endure? Only time will tell."

See "How Teddy Roosevelt Fathered the 'Bush Doctrine'" by William Marina and David T. Beito (12/9/04) http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1435

For more articles by William Marina, see http://www.independent.org/aboutus/person_detail.asp?id=951.

For more articles by David T. Beito, see http://www.independent.org/aboutus/person_detail.asp?id=1119.

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