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Volume 13, Issue 12: March 22, 2011

  1. Air Strikes in Libya Risk Another Quagmire for the United States
  2. Shughart on Wisconsin and Public Employee Unions
  3. Obama’s Trip to Latin America
  4. The Independent Review--Spring Issue Now Available
  5. New Blog Posts

1) Air Strikes in Libya Risk Another Quagmire for the United States

In his latest op-ed, Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Peace and Liberty, argues against the U.S./NATO air strikes in Libya. For starters, the United States has no strategic interest in Libya, Eland argues.

“Libya does produce oil, but a reduction of its production because of internal conflict will merely increase the price of the commodity, thus providing monetary incentives for other oil producers to pump more oil in compensation,” Eland writes.

Eland, author of several books on U.S. foreign policy, also questions the claim that a no-fly zone would do much good—that is, significantly help the opposition forces to oust Moammar Gadhafi—given their comparative lack of weapons and training. “If the no-fly zone failed to end Gadhafi’s offensive, pressure would then likely build for the U.S. to attack Libyan ground forces directly, thus commencing interventionist quagmire number three,” he continues. The other two quagmires—the U.S. military campaigns Iraq and Afghanistan—should “give the American foreign policy elite some pause before pulling the trigger again in Libya.”

“Another Imperial Quagmire?” by Ivan Eland (3/16/11)

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

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

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


2) Shughart on Wisconsin and Public Employee Unions

In his latest op-ed, Independent Institute Senior Fellow William F. Shughart II congratulates Wisconsin for cutting the power of public employee unions—and helping to put the issue under the national spotlight.

“Public employee wages and benefits are typically not the result of simple collective bargaining,” he writes. “They are the result of the public employee unions’ political and lobbying activities—which, in many states, are financed with union dues employees are forced to pay as a condition of employment.”

Public employees should not have the same bargaining “rights” as private-sector employees, Shughart argues, because public finance operates differently from the commercial marketplace. In the marketplace, consumers can switch from one brand to another—or they can refuse to make a purchase. But when it comes to paying taxes for public services, consumers have no choice. “Short of selling their homes and looking for new jobs elsewhere, they’re stuck with the bill when politicians collude with union officials to increase costs.”

“Issues That Needed to Be Raised,” by William F. Shughart II (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/17/11)

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


3) Obama’s Trip to Latin America

President Obama is visiting Latin America, but don’t expect any major new developments to result. Washington has mostly ignored it since progress for a Free Trade Area of the Americas stalled six years ago. Fortunately, some countries in the region have seen improvements on two fronts: poverty has dropped precipitously, and the far left has fallen out of favor. However, many countries are overwhelmed on a third front: the war on drugs has taken a heavy toll on innocent bystanders and fragile political institutions, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa.

The drug war, which is supported by U.S. policy, has curtailed neither the demand nor supply of drugs, but it has created a wave of violence that has swept across Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and other countries. In 2009, the former presidents of Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia—to no avail—argued that the drug war must be abandoned if peace and stability are to come to Latin America.

“Obama probably knows it but does not have the stomach, at this point, for the protracted fight that a change in drug policy would entail,” Vargas Llosa writes. “And until it happens, as Mexico’s Felipe Calderon recently told me, it is unrealistic to expect any serious Latin American country to defy Washington on its own.”

“Obama’s Trip to Latin America,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (3/16/11) Spanish Translation

“The Secret of Worldwide Drug Prohibition: The Varieties and Uses of Drug Prohibition,” by Harry G. Levine (The Independent Review, Fall 2002)

“People and Ecosystems in Colombia: Casualties of the Drug War,” by Sarah Peterson (The Independent Review, Winter 2002)

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

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

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


4) The Independent Review--Spring Issue Now Available

We are delighted to announce the publication of the Spring 2011 issue of the Independent Institute’s peer-reviewed journal, The Independent Review. This issue’s articles and book reviews deal with the following questions:

  • Why is Ben Bernanke eager for the Federal Reserve to play a larger role in centrally planning the U.S. economy? Read the article.
  • Why is government relief for disaster victims often less effective than aid provided by volunteers, non-profit organizations, and commercial enterprises? Read the article.
  • How should classical liberals morally evaluate a welfare state’s immigration barriers?
  • How has the design of the European Central Bank contributed to Europe’s sovereign debt crisis?
  • Did politics influence which car dealerships were closed when President Obama’s automobile task force restructured the auto industry? Read the article.
  • What made the late Bill Marina such a memorable teacher and historian?
  • How well can society function without the state and its legal monopoly on coercion? Read the review.
  • How did the discrepancy between knowledge and power cause the financial crisis and threaten democracy? Read the review.
  • Why did some communities that were hit by Hurricane Katrina recover fairly quickly, whereas others continue to struggle? Read the review.
  • Does the U.S. Constitution protect a right to earn a living? Read the review.
  • How did Ayn Rand influence American conservatism and libertarianism? Read the review.

The Independent Review (Spring 2011)

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5) New Blog Posts

From The Beacon:

From MyGovCost News & Blog:

The Independent Institute’s Spanish-language blog is available here.


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless