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Volume 8, Issue 52: December 26, 2006

  1. U.S. Troop Deployment and the Draft
  2. Global Warming and Sea Levels
  3. The Status of Women in China
  4. Somalia: Chaos or Order?

1) U.S. Troop Deployment and the Draft

The protracted deployment of U.S. troops in Iraq, as U.S. Army General Peter Schoomaker has confirmed, has placed a tremendous strain on America's volunteer army. Hence, if Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) reintroduces legislation in 2007 calling for universal conscription, he may garner more support than previously, as Independent Institute Senior Fellow Charles Pena explains in a new op-ed.

"For an all-volunteer force, the rule of thumb for retaining soldiers over time is a 3:1 rotation ratio (meaning three total units are needed to keep one unit deployed) for active duty forces," writes Pena. "So the 152,000 troops in Iraq requires an additional 304,000 for rotation or a total of 456,000 soldiers -- which is precariously close to the total size of the active duty Army. Moreover, the U.S. Army has another 64,000 troops deployed overseas, which, to be sustained, requires a total of 192,000 troops. Simple math adds up to the Army being almost 150,000 troops short of being able to sustain current deployments."

Nor is a shortfall likely to be covered by the so-called backdoor draft -- i.e. lengthening the duration of troop deployments, invoking stop-loss orders to prevent the exiting of troops after their enlistments have expired, and ordering reservists back into active duty. Thus, current policy is unsustainable with the given troop levels.

"Instead of talking about increasing the size of the Army and raising the ugly spectre of a draft to sustain the deployment in Iraq, we should be talking about getting U.S. troops out of Iraq," Pena concludes.

"Will Deployment to Iraq Break the Army?" by Charles Pena (12/19/06)
"¿El despliegue en Irak fracturará al Ejército de los Estados Unidos?"

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, Director)

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


2) Global Warming and Sea Levels

Attorneys with the government of Massachusetts have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that the federal Environmental Protection Agency must regulate carbon dioxide as a "pollutant" because, they claim, C02-induced global warming threatens to raise sea levels precipitously and thereby harm the state's coastline. However, according to atmospheric physicist and Independent Institute Research Fellow S. Fred Singer, the evidence for an alarming increase in sea levels just isn't there.

In recent millennia, global sea levels have risen about 18 centimeters (7 inches) per century, and, despite strong global warming before 1940, tidal gauges around the world indicate no change of this pace. Evidently, ocean expansion and glacier melting have been largely offset by ocean evaporation and ice accumulation on Antarctica, Singer surmises.

"This idea, discussed in my book HOT TALK, COLD SCIENCE, seems to be penetrating to more climate scientists," writes Singer in a recent op-ed. "For example, in 1990, the U.N.-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated a 'best-value' rise of 66 cm by the year 2100; in 1996, the U.N. panel reported 49 cm (with a range of 13-94 cm); in 2001, the U.N. panel gave 9-88 cm, while the 2007 report estimates a more reasonable range of 14-43 cm. By contrast, the affidavit [that Massachusetts assistant attorney general James] Milkey relies on [in his petition to the U.S. Supreme Court] gives 58 -- and as much as 130 cm. Incidentally, James Hansen, an amicus for the petitioners, claims up to 600 cm by 2100. Evidently, Mr. Hansen -- and Al Gore, who listens to him -- are climate contrarians."

See "CO2 and Alarmism," by S. Fred Singer (THE WASHINGTON TIMES, 12/20/06)
"El dióxido de carbono y el alarmismo"

HOT TALK, COLD SCIENCE: Global Warming's Unfinished Debate, by S. Fred Singer


3) The Status of Women in China

China, as the saying goes, is a land of contradictions: it seldom stops boasting about its ancient culture -- but it's eager to modernize; its Three Gorges Dam Projects is an engineering marvel -- yet its 5-star hotels advise visitors against drinking from its water faucets; its tour guides criticize the materialism of the West -- while wearing Western-style blue jeans; its rural women take pride in the fine carpets they've woven -- but are too timid to take rest breaks.

China is in many respects changing rapidly, but how exactly is this affecting women? Answering this complex question is made more difficult by the unwillingness of Chinese women to speak openly about government policy, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Wendy McElroy, whose recent 19-day tour of China is the subject of her latest column.

Writes McElory: "J. bristled at a question from our group: 'do forced sterilizations still happen in China?' The answer: 'they do not happen; they never did happen.' This, despite the fact that on December 1st, a Chinese court re-sentenced activist Chen Guangcheng to four years and three months for documenting cases of forced abortions and sterilizations."

"The Women of China: Caught Between Old Ways and a New World," by Wendy McElroy (12/5/06)
"Las mujeres de China: Atrapadas entre las antiguas costumbres y un mundo nuevo"

LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-first Century, ed. by Wendy McElroy


4) Somalia: Chaos or Order?

Despite the collapse of its national government in 1991, Somalia's economy and living standards have made measurable progress -- especially in terms of life expectancy, telecommunications, and investment by multi-national corporations, according to Benjamin Powell, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation. The country's customary law, the Xeer, which was interpreted by clan elders and enforced through ostracism, seems to have resolved disputes reasonably well; Islamic law has been used mainly for matters of divorce and inheritance.

"Unfortunately, recent international efforts at establishing a new government in Somalia are likely to ruin what little economic progress the country has made," writes Powell.

Domestic opposition to the newly imported Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has bolstered support for the opposition Islamic Court Unions (ICU), which have gained control of Mogadishu and other parts of southern Somalia. The country will likely suffer if either the TFG or the ICU expand their power -- or a civil war ensues.

U.S. support for opponents of Somalia's Islamic Courts Union, which has forces trained by al Qaeda, may have made things worse. According to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, CIA support for warlords who are fighting the ICU, as well as tacit U.S. support for Ethiopia's military campaign in Somalia, have increased nationalist and pro-ICU sentiments.

"If this isn't bad enough, the Ethiopians' invasion of Somalia has caused Eritrea, another of their rivals, to provide the ICU with thousands of men to fight," writes Eland in his latest op-ed. "Many analysts now worry that a regional war could inflame the entire Horn of Africa."

"Somali Anarchy Is More Orderly than Somali Government," by Benjamin Powell (12/22/06)
La anarquía somalí es más ordenada que el gobierno somalí

"Somalia after State Collapse: Chaos or Improvement?" by Benjamin Powell, Ryan Ford, and Alex Nowrasteh (Independent Institute Working Paper #64)

"U.S.–Exacerbated Civil War in Another Nation: Somalia," by Ivan Eland (12/22/06)
Los Estados Unidos exacerbaron la guerra civil en otra nación: Somalia

Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation (Benjamin Powell, Director)

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, Director)

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


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless