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The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 10, Issue 49: December 8, 2008

  1. Advice for India on Nationalism and Identity Politics
  2. More Advice for India: Avoid U.S.-Style Mistakes
  3. Russia and the Case for U.S. Coal
  4. Summer Seminars Address the Challenge of Liberty
  5. This Week in The Beacon

1) Advice for India on Nationalism and Identity Politics

With elections looming, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will face growing pressure to blame Pakistan for the Mumbai terrorist attacks. He should resist this temptation for at least two reasons, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa.

First, even before the Mumbai attacks, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was taking steps to fight terrorism in his country, such as trying to rid the Inter-Services Intelligence agency of jihadist supporters and condemning terrorism in Kashmir -- the home of the terrorists’ likely sponsor, Lashkar-i-Taiba; Indians should want that to continue. Second, an aggressive nationalism could slow India’s economic progress. In fact, the domestic correlate of nationalism—identity politics—has helped perpetuate social stratification and poverty.

“In India, [the move away from identity politics] will be doubly onerous because it will have to take place in the context of neighbors that are far less democratic, and under the pressure of sophisticated Islamic terrorists determined to stoke up hatred among groups from the outside,” writes Vargas Llosa. “But other countries have moved beyond identity politics or are in the process of doing so. India, which has already achieved so many wondrous things, can do it too. Until it does, the glory of its modern rise will not be complete.”

“India—The Other Side of Glory,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (12/3/08) Spanish Translation

Lessons from the Poor: Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit, edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa


2) More Advice for India: Avoid U.S.-Style Mistakes

Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland also offers advice to India’s leaders in the wake of last month’s deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai. In his latest op-ed he urges India to rely on law enforcement and diplomacy – as opposed to, for example, declaring a global “war on terror,” creating a fictional “axis of evil,” and invading and occupying a Muslim country. Ironically, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave India similar advice during her recent visit to that country, Eland notes.

Eland reviews several ineffective or outright counterproductive policies the U.S. government implemented in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. One policy was to greatly increase funding for research on biological terrorism, in the belief that more research means a better defense and therefore less risk of a catastrophic bio-terrorist attack. A recent government report, however, comes close to stating that this research itself worsens the threat of terrorism because the research facilities are not sufficiently secure from theft.

“Thus, irrational fear breeds irrational and hypocritical responses,” writes Eland. “Hopefully, India will respond to the Mumbai attacks by adopting the more rational Spanish model [following the Madrid attacks] and not the hysterical U.S. model.”

“The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself,” by Ivan Eland (12/6/08)

Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, by Ivan Eland

The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed (Updated Edition), by Ivan Eland

Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy, by Ivan Eland


3) Russia and the Case for U.S. Coal

Previous issues of The Lighthouse have examined Russia’s alarm about the expansion of NATO and U.S. overtures toward Russia’s neighbors. That’s an important part of the story behind increasingly frosty U.S.-Russia relations, but it’s hardly the whole story. In a recent op-ed published in the Washington Times, Independent Institute Senior Fellow William F. Shughart II sheds light on another aspect of this issue: Russia’s aspirations to become an energy superpower.

In some respects, Russia already holds that position: it is the world’s largest supplier of natural gas and second largest producer of oil (after Saudi Arabia). Russia’s sending of tanks to protect South Ossetia from Georgian domination, and Russia’s de facto nationalization of Yukos Oil Company, may resemble awkward attempts to enforce the rule of law, but these measures can also be seen as components of Russia’s quest to exert control over lucrative energy markets.

“Russia’s next likely move, which could be delayed until the global economy starts picking up again, will be an attempt to orchestrate a global natural gas cartel patterned on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries,” writes Shughart. In response, he argues, the United States should free up its 250-year supply of coal and use “clean” coal-fired power plants that store carbon dioxide emissions deep underground. Coal could be converted into liquefied fuel for transportation. “Increasing our reliance on coal and nuclear power would free up natural gas for household and industrial uses and go a long way toward immunizing the United States from both OPEC and Russian blackmail,” Shughart concludes.

“Russia’s Bare-Knuckle Policy on Oil,” by William F. Shughart II (Washington Times, 11/23/08) Spanish Translation

Taxing Choice: The Predatory Politics of Fiscal Discrimination, ed. by William F. Shughart II


4) Summer Seminars Address the Challenge of Liberty

The Independent Institute not only produces high-level research for scholars and timely solution-oriented op-eds for the general public, but it also provides educational opportunities. In addition to the Templeton Essay Contest for college students and untenured college teachers and the K-12 Independent Scholarship Fund for East Bay students, the Independent Institute also hosts the annual Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars for high school and college students.

Led by Brian Gothberg, the five-day 2009 seminars will introduce students to the moral and economic principles of liberty and the workings of competitive markets, entrepreneurship, and property rights, along with special lectures on economic development, monopolies, inflation and depression, government failure, and foreign policy.

According to a 2008 seminar attendee, “The presentation of the information was engaging, fun and unusual (Brian’s movie clips), and varied (getting to hear from the perspectives of several different speakers about many subjects).”

The seminars are an excellent way for students to learn more about economic principles and the heritage of liberty, and to make new friends.

The 2009 Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars

Session I: June 15-19
Session II: August 10-14
Tuition: $195
The Independent Institute
Oakland, California, USA

2009 Sir John M. Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest

Student Internships at the Independent Institute

Independent Scholarship Fund (serves only K-12 students in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, California)


5) This Week in The Beacon

Below are the past week’s offerings from The Beacon, the web log of the Independent Institute.

Please post your comments to the blog.


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless