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Volume 8, Issue 30: July 24, 2006

  1. Ivan Eland on Israeli Military Tactics vs. Strategy
  2. Alvaro Vargas Llosa on the Lebanon Blitz
  3. Venezuela and Human Rights
  4. Sociology and Classical Liberalism

1) Ivan Eland on Israeli Military Tactics vs. Strategy

Although General Robert E. Lee's aggressive military tactics enabled him to score several battlefield victories for the Southern Confederacy, these successes were inadequate for defeating the Union after it installed General Ulysses S. Grant, who met Lee's tactics by thinking more strategically and engaging in a war of attrition. This lesson from the American Civil War helps explain why Israel's tactics against Hezbollah may be the wrong approach for Israel, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute.

"Strategically, Israel’s disproportionate use of military force will not wipe out these groups or the support that they receive from their respective populations," writes Eland in his latest op-ed. "Only a comprehensive negotiated, not unilateral, Middle East settlement -- in which Israel gives back all of the occupied territories in exchange for peace and normal relations with its Arab neighbors -- will choke off popular support for these radical groups."

Here's how Eland predicts the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict will continue: "Because the Israeli public still remembers the 18-year quagmire that resulted from Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, Israel probably will not again launch the full ground invasion of Lebanon needed to finally crush Hezbollah. Israeli air strikes alone cannot kill all Hezbollah fighters and destroy all of their weapons and infrastructure. Similarly, since the Israelis just withdrew their forces from Gaza, it is unlikely that they would permanently reoccupy it in order to fully eradicate Hamas. In fact, Israel’s grossly disproportionate collective punishment of Lebanon and Gaza for the killing and capturing of a few Israeli soldiers will only fuel the anti-Israel fire in both places and the larger Arab world. When hatred has been stoked, lost fighters and weapons can be replaced -- and rather easily."

"Israel Is Winning the Battle, But Not the War," by Ivan Eland (7/24/06)
"Israel está ganando la batalla, pero no la guerra"

THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)


2) Alvaro Vargas Llosa on the Lebanon Blitz

Until the recent renewal of Israel's military campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon, that country was returning to its mid-1970s status as beacon of hope in the Arab world, according to Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa, who just returned from a recent visit to Lebanon.

"As I traveled in Lebanon two weeks ago, four things struck me: the almost miraculous reconstruction of Beirut; the free-thinking cosmopolitanism of its middle class; the spirit of peaceful coexistence among the various religious groups, thanks in part to the open-mindedness of much of the Sunni population; and the resentment against Hezbollah among Christians (who comprise more than 35 percent of the population) and Muslims almost everywhere except the Bekaa Valley and southern Lebanon," writes Vargas Llosa, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Global Prosperity.

Unfortunately, Israel's campaign will deal a harsh below to liberal institutions of civil society and will likely make Lebanon ripe for the spread of extremism, Vargas Llosa argues: "It is true that Lebanon in transition had many problems, including the political survival of many leaders who fought the war, a power-sharing arrangement entirely based on religious grounds and, especially, the incapacity of the political institutions to disarm Hezbollah. But Israel's reprisals are not making that right. They are punishing a moderately successful attempt at religious diversity in a climate of peaceful coexistence and modernization in the Arab world."

"The Lebanon Blitz," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (7/19/06)
"El bombardeo del Líbano"

LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

THE CHE GUEVARA MYTH, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa


3) Venezuela and Human Rights

Speaking to the new United Nations Council on Human Rights, Venezuela's deputy minister of foreign affairs recently reaffirmed that Hugo Chavez's government has little in common with those who highly value "civilian and political rights," according to Carlos Sabino, an adjunct fellow of the Independent Institute's Center on Global Prosperity.

"Freedom of the press does exist [in Venezuela], but it is very restricted by a law that a docile Congress (which is now totally made up of supporters of the president) passed more than a year ago," Sabino writes in a new op-ed. "With that gag law, and by constantly threatening to not renew the licenses of radio and TV broadcasters, Chavez has managed to silence much of the opposition, which still dares to criticize the government but takes great care not to overstep its limits."

Freedom of expression, in other words, exists not by right but merely by permission, and can be revoked whenever it suits Chavez's apparatchiks. Similarly, free elections, private-property rights and an independent judiciary in name only. Unfortunately, the opposition to Chavez is so divided and weak that that status of liberty in Venezuela is likely to get worse before it gets better.

See "Venezuela and Human Rights," by Carlos Sabino (7/18/06)
"Venezuela y los Derechos Humanos"

Center on Global Prosperity (Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director)

El Independent: El Blog del Centro Para la Prosperidad Global de The Independent Institute


4) Sociology and Classical Liberalism

Sociologists study a diverse group of social issues and communities -- but how diverse a group are sociologists themselves? At least when it comes to political diversity, the answer is: "not very." A new study of American sociologists found far more support for economic regulations, the regulation of personal choices, and a broad role for government than opposition to them.

Daniel B. Klein and Charlotta Stern, the authors of the study ("Sociology and Classical Liberalism," THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Summer 2006), sent letters to 1000 members of the American Sociological Association asking their preferences about 18 public-policy topics. The 347 responses they received suggest that the sociology profession in the United States tilts heavily to the left and has few, in any, classical liberals (i.e., those whose primary political values are individual liberty, private-property rights, and the rule of law, not economic equality or a welfare-regulatory state).

Although most of the poll's findings are unsurprising -- recent public statements made by the ASA leadership are consistent with the profession's leftward tilt -- the virtual absence of classical liberals among academic sociologists is harder to explain, especially because classical liberalism has much to offers sociology, Klein and Stern argue. Classical liberals such as Adam Smith, Alexis de Tocqueville, Herbert Spencer, William Graham Sumner, and F. A. Hayek, for example, wrote at length on topics potentially of interest to contemporary sociologists. In addition, contemporary classical liberals have offered insights that seem ripe for sociological study, such as the differences between cooperation and coercion; the interrelations between commerce and community; the role of privilege, prestige, status, and power in "rent seeking"; and the social mechanisms that foster and reinforce statism.

"Classical liberals may suspect that sociology is inherently holistic, collectivist, or functionalist and therefore inherently hostile to the idea of depoliticizing social affairs," write Klein and Stern. "Our position is that there is no essential tension between sociology and classical liberalism. Many classical-liberal formulations have powerful application to sociological topics, and many sociological insights and literatures can enrich classical liberalism."

"Sociology and Classical Liberalism," by Daniel B. Klein and Charlotta Stern (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Summer 2006)

Subscribe to THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW: A Journal of Political Economy, ed. by Robert Higgs

For more on classical liberalism, see THE CHALLENGE OF LIBERTY: Classical Liberalism Today, ed. by Robert Higgs and Carl P. Close


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