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Volume 11, Issue 41: October 12, 2009

  1. Obama’s Dubious Peace Prize
  2. Gen. McChrystal’s Call for Troop Surge Undermines Obama’s Authority
  3. Peru’s Battle for Justice Continues
  4. Zelaya’s Return Puts Honduras at a Crossroads
  5. This Week in The Beacon

1) Obama’s Dubious Peace Prize

Conservatives who worry that the Nobel Prize Committee’s decision will encourage President Obama’s allegedly pacifistic tendencies are utterly confused, according to Independent Institute Research Analyst Anthony Gregory.

The real problem, Gregory argues in a new op-ed, is that Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize will encourage him to continue policies that have created record numbers of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, destabilizing drone attacks in Pakistan, a U.S. invasion of Somalia, and belligerent diplomacy toward Iran. Rather than reverse Bush’s policies on indefinite detentions and military commissions, Obama has essentially continued them even though a federal judge has ruled that habeas corpus protections apply to many prisoners at the Bagram detention camp than they do at Guantánamo.

“The Nobel is a signal to Obama that he can keep talking like a man of peace even as he acts like a master of war,” writes Gregory. “Those who favored Obama, thinking he’d be less belligerent against Iran than McCain, now have more reason to worry.”

“The Real Problem with Obama’s Nobel,” by Anthony Gregory (10/10/09)

More by Anthony Gregory


2) Gen. McChrystal’s Call for Troop Surge Undermines Obama’s Authority

At a time when the United States is pressuring Pakistan to keep its military out of civilian affairs, General Stanley McChrystal has called for dramatic increases of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Only President Obama can make a decision of such magnitude, but McChrystral’s public recommendation for a super surge can limit Obama’s options and undermine his authority.

Just as President Truman fired General MacArthur, so Obama should fire McChrystal, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty. Moreover, Eland argues, McChrystal’s suggestion that a troop surge would make Americans more secure is off target because it would likely encourage more support for the Taliban and further destabilize nuclear Pakistan.

“Withdrawing from Afghanistan and focusing on neutralizing the real threat from al-Qaeda in Pakistan—not the Taliban—using the aforementioned techniques with a lighter footprint will give the U.S. better results,” Eland concludes.

“Fire McChrystal and Get Out of Afghanistan,” by Ivan Eland (10/8/09)

Partitioning for Peace: An Exit Strategy for Iraq, by Ivan Eland

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

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


3) Peru’s Battle for Justice Continues

From 1980 to 2000, Peru suffered violence from terrorists who called themselves Shining Path and the government’s brutal and indiscriminate response. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission followed, investigating human-rights abuses on all sides and offering recommendations to move the country forward.

Unfortunately, as Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa explains, high-ranking officials in President Alan Garcia’s administration—including Vice President Giampiertri and Defense Minister Rey—have fostered a climate of intimidation against Commission members and the proposed Museum of Memory. Those reactionaries assume that economic progress can continue without Peru developing free institutions, including freedom to criticize government transgressions without fear of reprisals. They’re wrong.

Writes Vargas Llosa: “Those responsible for destroying democracy and precipitating a dictatorship that systematically violated human rights and engaged in a corruption that, according to scholar Alfonso Quiroz, was equivalent to 4.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product have not learned very much from the recent past. Until they do, the efforts to turn Peru into a model for the region will be a joke.”

“Peru’s Barking Dogs,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (10/7/09) Spanish Translation

The Che Guevara Myth and the Future of Liberty, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

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

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


4) Zelaya’s Return Puts Honduras at a Crossroads

Pressure for Honduras to reinstate ousted president Manuel Zelaya will increase, now that he has returned to his country (ensconced in the Brazilian embassy) and a presidential election is scheduled for November 29. As the U.S. Congressional Research Service showed, Zelaya’s removal from office (but not his forced exile from the country) was consistent with the Honduran Constitution’s prohibition against immediate re-election (and against altering the Constitution on that issue).

How should Honduras move forward? The best move would be for all sides to abide by the outcome of the upcoming election, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow William Ratliff. But suppose voters were to favor Zelaya?

If Zelaya were to win the election, Ratliff proposes that he return to office momentarily and be replaced by an interim government. Zelaya, and those who exiled him, could be formally recognized as violators of the Constitution. Then, so long as they followed peaceful democratic norms, they could be granted amnesty. And the country could move on. Whether or not this happens, the Organization of American States and the United States should recognize the outcome of the upcoming election, Ratliff concludes.

“Understanding the Mess in Honduras,” by William Ratliff (, 9/28/09)

More by William Ratliff


5) This Week in The Beacon

Here are the past week’s offers from our blog, The Beacon.


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless