Volume 7, Issue 2: January 10, 2005
- Eland Urges Senate to Reject Gonzales
- The Iraq War's "Catastrophic Success"
- The Independent Institute Launches New Spanish-Language Website
1) Eland Urges Senate to Reject Gonzales
Senate confirmation of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales to be the next Attorney General would send a bad signal about America's values and would increase the risk that captured U.S. troops would be tortured, according to Ivan Eland, senior fellow and director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty.
President Bush's nomination of Gonzales has become controversial largely because Gonzales advised the administration that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to every prisoner caught in the war on terrorism or in Iraq.
In his latest op-ed, Eland writes, "although terrorists who kill innocents don't deserve to be protected [from torture] by the conventions, it may be smart U.S. policy to afford them such protection. In the future, other nations could label U.S. forces as 'terrorists' to deny them the shielding against torture provided under the conventions."
Last week, Gonzales responded evasively to congressional questions about internal Justice Department memos concerning U.S. policy on the torture of prisoners of war. An August 2002 memo limited the definition of illegal torture to physical pain "of such an intensity akin to that which accompanies serious injury such as death or organ failure" -- a very narrow definition, indeed.
"Worst of all," writes Eland, "Gonzales would not categorically reject as illegal the use of torture by U.S. troops or intelligence operatives in all circumstances. No matter that according to experts, torture is usually ineffective for obtaining truthful and accurate information from prisoners. The captive will simply agree with anything to stop the unpleasantness.
"Coming on the heels of the president's bizarre retention of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense (Rumsfeld's blundering in Iraq includes the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal), the administration's nomination of Gonzales for Attorney General is an exercise in 'in-your-face' chutzpah that is likely to further inflame the Islamic world and result in an even greater threat to U.S. security in the form of blowback terrorism. The Senate should come to its senses and strike twin blows for American security and values by rejecting the Gonzales nomination," Eland concludes.
See "Will the U.S. Senate Endorse Torture?" by Ivan Eland
Correction: Last week THE LIGHTHOUSE misreported the number of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers the Pentagon plans to retire. The correct number is one, as Ivan Eland noted in his article referenced in last week's LIGHTHOUSE, "Mortgaging the Future of Our Armed Forces" http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1445. We apologize for the error.
To purchase THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland, see
To purchase PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK INTO U.S. DEFENSE POLICY: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World, by Ivan Eland, see
Center on Peace & Liberty
2) The Iraq War's "Catastrophic Success"
Last summer President George W. Bush told TIME magazine that the Iraq war had been a "catastrophic success" -- ostensibly meaning that the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime had occurred more quickly than expected, leaving Pentagon war planners unprepared for the aftermath.
But the Iraq war has been a "catastrophic success" in ways the President didn't intend, according to Robert Higgs, senior fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the new book, AGAINST LEVIATHAN: Government Power and a Free Society. The Iraq war has been a catastrophe -- but also a success for those who urged it, Higgs argues in his latest op-ed.
"The catastrophe afflicts one set of people, whereas the success accrues to an entirely different set," writes Higgs.
For example, Bush and Cheney won reelection, even though the U.S. Constitution gives only Congress the power to declare war. Indeed, the constitutionality of the imperial presidency was not an election issue; Congress largely gave the White House a green light, and in return was given $8.9 billion to pay off certain constituents with taxpayer-financed pork. About 98 percent of those who ran for reelection in Congress won.
Defense contractors succeeded remarkably, with spending on national defense increasing about 40 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars from 2001 to 2004, although it is often difficult to see how their wares protect Americans from terrorist attacks, Higgs argues.
"In this arena of institutionalized cronyism, the living dead rise from the Cold War graveyard to haunt the halls of Congress whenever the defense-appropriations subcommittees are in session," Higgs writes. "You might wonder how the military will employ, say, an F/A-22 fighter, a B-2 bomber, or an SSN-774 attack submarine to protect you from a suitcase nuke or a vial of anthrax slipped into the country along with the many shipments of contraband goods that enter unseen by government agents. But never mind; just keep repeating: there is a connection between the War on Terrorism and the hundreds of billions being spent on useless Cold War weaponry. It's important to Congress, the Pentagon, and the big contractors that you make this connection."
See "The Iraq War -- A Catastrophic Success" by Robert Higgs (12/21/04)
"La Guerra de Irak -- Un Éxito Catastrófico" by Robert Higgs
To order AGAINST LEVIATHAN: Government Power and a Free Society, by Robert Higgs, see
3) The Independent Institute Launches New Spanish-Language Website
The Independent Institute is very pleased to announce the launch of its Spanish-language website, elindependent.org <http://www.elindependent.org/>.
With 333 articles in Spanish -- and many more on the way -- the Independent Institute hopes to make elindependent.org a valuable resource for Spanish-language readers interested in public policy. Although many of its articles focus on U.S. public policy, most touch upon themes of interest to an international audience, such as privatization, decentralization, peace, and liberty, and some are geared toward Latin America. In addition to op-eds and journal articles, elindependent.org also contains information about the Independent Institute's books, journal, and student programs.
Especially timely, elindependent.org features information about the new Independent Institute book, RUMBO A LA LIBERTAD, written by award-winning journalist and Independent Institute research fellow, Alvaro Vargas Llosa. This book -- to be published next month in English as LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA -- explains the obstacles to political and economic liberalization in the region. This much-talked-about book has quickly become a bestseller in many Latin American countries -- and after reading about it, you'll see why.
Spanish-language readers will want to return to elindependent.org frequently as new content is added continuously, thanks to the Independent Institute's superb and prolific translator, Gabriel Gasave.
To order RUMBO A LA LIBERTAD, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa, see
To order LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa, see
EL INDEPENDENT INSTITUTE LANZA SU NUEVO SITIO WEB -- EL INDEPENDENT.ORG
El Independent Institute se complace en anunciar el lanzamiento de su sitio web en castellano elindependent.org
Con 333 artículos en castellano -- y muchos más por venir -- el Independent Institute espera hacer de elindependent.org una fuente de consulta valiosa para los lectores de lengua castellana interesados en las políticas públicas. Aunque muchos de sus artículos se centran en las políticas públicas estadounidenses, la mayoría de ellos aborda temas de interés para un público internacional, como la privatización, la descentralización, la paz y la libertad, y algunos se centran específicamente en América Latina. Además de artículos de opinión y ensayos académicos, elindependent.org también contiene información sobre los libros, la revista académica trimestral y los programas para estudiantes que ofrece el Independent Institute.
Elindependent.org brinda asimismo información muy oportuna sobre el nuevo libro del Independent Institute, RUMBO A LA LIBERTAD, escrito por el laureado periodista -- y académico asociado al Independent Institute -- Alvaro Vargas Llosa. Este libro -- que será publicado en inglés el mes que viene bajo el título de "LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA" -- explica los obstáculos que enfrenta la liberalización política y económica en la región. El polémico libro se ha convertido en uno de los más vendidos en varios países latinoamericanos. Leyéndolo, usted descubrirá por qué.
Animamos a los lectores de lengua castellana a consultar con mucha frecuencia elindependent.org, ya que añadiremos nuevo material continuamente gracias al excelente y prolífico traductor del Independent Institute, Gabriel Gasave.
Ordene RUMBO A LA LIBERTAD, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa, vea
Para más información, vea:
"¿Por qué América Latina no progresa?"
"Rumbo a la libertad"
El fracaso de América Latina"
"Nunca tuvimos verdadero capitalismo"
"Culpa Vargas Llosa a izquierda y neoliberalismo del derrumbe social"