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

Volume 7, Issue 24: June 13, 2005

  1. Privacy Rights under Attack
  2. White House Signals Widening of War on Terrorism
  3. Alvaro Vargas Llosa Criticizes Latin American Authoritarianism

1) Privacy Rights under Attack

Recent trials involving Planned Parenthood, rape, and domestic violence suggest that courts are attacking privacy rights -- a trend that directly challenges the legal presumption of innocence, according to Research Fellow Wendy McElroy, editor of LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-First Century.

"Privacy rests on the assumption that -- in the absence of specific evidence of wrongdoing -- an individual has a right to shut his or her front door and tell other people (including government) to mind their own business," writes McElroy in a new op-ed. "This is a presumption of innocence. Privacy also assumes an important division between the personal and public spheres, a division that is reflected in Constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Historically, privacy has stood as a bulwark between individual rights and social control."

McElroy identifies three factors that have contributed to recent erosions of privacy rights. First, the legal status of many hot-button issues is increasingly decided by judges rather than by legislatures alone, and "judicial decisions have become a form of de facto law." Second, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, pressures have increased to trade rights for security. Third, society may be nearing a tipping point regarding views on privacy related to abortion, rape, and domestic violence.

McElroy cautions those eager to sacrifice privacy for greater transparency: "Those who push to strip away the traditional protections of privacy may be trashing a prerequisite of personal freedom. And, without freedom, there is no security for individuals…either in court or in society."

See "Privacy: Throwing Babies Out with Bath Water," by Wendy McElroy (10/8/05)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1521
SPANISH TRANSLATION:
"La Privacidad: No Arrojen a los Bebés Junto con el Agua de la Bañera"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1521

To purchase LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-First Century, ed. by Wendy McElroy, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=43

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2) White House Signals Widening of War on Terrorism

If the recent change in White House rhetoric is any indication, the Bush administration's Global War on Terrorism (GWOT, in policy circles) may soon give way to an even more ambitious military campaign -- what might be called the War against Violent Extremism (WAVE), explains Ivan Eland, senior fellow and director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute.

"In Washington, changes in surface rhetoric often signal transformation in underlying policy," writes Eland in his latest op-ed. "Instead of concentrating its efforts to capture or kill the leadership of al Qaeda, the terrorist group that actually attacked the United States, the administration came up with the broader GWOT catchphrase so that an invasion of Iraq could fit under its umbrella. Who knows what additional administration monkey business will be perpetrated under the cover of the even wider WAVE. The target of any U.S. military operation wouldn’t even need to kill innocent civilians or have alleged affiliations with those who do, such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. If you think the GWOT opened a can of worms, just think of the possibilities under the WAVE."

Eland warns that the WAVE could unleash a virtual anti-U.S. tsunami "because the WAVE crusades against an even wider definition of international 'misbehavior' than does the Global War on Terrorism.

"For example, although the socialist governments of Cuba and Venezuela are not active supporters of international terrorists, could they become U.S. targets because of their affinity for the violent Marxist extremists in Colombia? Any such military strikes would engender even more anti-U.S. hatred than already exists in Latin America."

"Past U.S. presidents have resorted to military interventions overseas when their domestic popularity and agendas sagged," Eland continues. "President Bush invaded Iraq even when his poll numbers were higher than they are now. Given current approval ratings in the 40s and sinking and declining support for his domestic policies, the president could get into even more mischief overseas. Using the war against violent extremism and increased funding for public diplomacy to market such meddling may be in the offing. You may be able to catch the WAVE on TV, radio and in your local newspaper soon."

See "A Make-Over to Disguise Ugly U.S. Policy," by Ivan Eland (6/13/05)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1522
SPANISH TRANSLATION:
"Una Transformación a Fin de Disimular la Fea Política Estadounidense"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1522

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

To purchase PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK IN U.S. DEFENSE POLICY, by Ivan Eland, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=19

"The Way Out of Iraq: Decentralizing the Iraqi Government," by Ivan Eland
http://www.independent.org/publications/policy_reports/detail.asp?type=full&id=16

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

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3) Alvaro Vargas Llosa Criticizes Latin American Authoritarianism

"Authoritarianism on the right and on the left has stifled freedom in Latin America since before Columbus, says Peruvian-born journalist Alvaro Vargas Llosa," begins a recent article in the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE. "That's the bad news," the article continues. "The good news: Top-down power in the Latin world is in a state of widespread rot and new growth in the form of grass roots political action is sprouting up around the corpse."

"An almost visceral image of a decaying state is central to Vargas Llosa's recently published political analysis, LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five-Hundred Years of State Oppression. The author, a well-known political commentator in Latin America and a senior fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, names the sources of the region's authoritarian legacy from pre-Columbian times to now and in effect urges the region's leaders to get busy burying the body instead of continuing to prop it up."

Anyone who follows Latin American politics knows of the region's drama. Argentina, which once boasted a strong middle class, now has a poverty rate of about 40 percent. Chile, on the other hand, has seen poverty fall from about 36 percent of the population a decade ago to about 18 percent today. What did Argentina do wrong? What did Chile do right?

Vargas Llosa, who heads the Independent Institute's new Center on Global Prosperity, contends that the key to understanding Latin America is in grasping how five "principles of oppression" have shaped the region's legal, political, and cultural institutions.

"These principles were present in pre-Columbian times," he told an audience at the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs last spring. "They were present throughout three centuries of colonial life. They have been present for the last two centuries under republican, independent governments. They need to be overcome today if we want to open up our systems and turn them into functional democracies and free market economies, and create viable institutional environments with the participation of all."

For the Organization of American States to effectively promote liberal democracy and the rule of law in Latin America, its leadership must do three things, Alvaro Vargas Llosa recently explained in the MIAMI HERALD. It must focus on its key mission rather than get distracted with other tasks, such as fighting poverty and corruption. It must exercise greater leadership. And it must not only "repudiate classic, old-style coups but also the type of authoritarianism now taking place under democratically elected governments," Vargas Llosa said. "This probably will mean having to confront Hugo Chávez and others from time to time, even at the cost of the regional 'consensus.'''

See:

"Peruvian-born journalist finds hope amid political oppression in Latin America" (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 6/3/05)

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/06/03/EBGT8CIQIE34.DTL

Transcript of Alvaro Vargas Llosa's lecture at the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs (3/22/05)
http://www.cceia.org/viewMedia.php/prmTemplateID/8/prmID/5130

"Focus and Leadership Needed for OAS Success" (MIAMI HEARLD, 6/1/05) http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/world/americas/11783865.htm (Free registration required.)

To purchase LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=55

Center on Global Prosperity
http://www.independent.org/research/cogp/

The Independent Institute now has 533 Spanish-language articles on its website. See them at http://www.elindependent.org/.

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