These two crazy guys should be branded domestic terrorists and thrown into prison without charges. How dare they suggest diplomacy, when everyone knows that war with Iran is the only thing that can save us from imminent nuclear annihilation. These libertarians and ex-marines must be stopped from talking so reasonably. The American people can’t be told the truth. That would spoil all the fun.
Nuclear Iran Is an Exaggerated Threat
by Malou Innocent and Jonathan Owen
Malou Innocent is a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute. Jonathan Owen is a former Marine infantry officer.
Added to cato.org on March 8, 2012
This article appeared in New York Daily News on March 8, 2012.
But a more aggressive policy could lead to another war in the Middle East, or at least a regime in Tehran more committed to seeking a nuclear bomb.
The assumption that a short war of limited strikes will keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is flawed. Damage to Iran’s nuclear program from such a strike would be modest, likely requiring more strikes in another few years or a longer-term presence on the ground.
James Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence, said an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would set back its nuclear program by one to two years. U.S. military action every few years is an unmanageable strategy.
Even with a bomb, Iran is not an imminent threat to America’s security.
Worse, attempts to stop Iran’s program militarily will bolster its resolve to pursue a nuclear deterrent. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the military solution will make Iranians “absolutely committed to obtaining nuclear weapons.” He continued, “… they will just go deeper and more covert.”
So if Iran lives to fight another day, with the ayatollahs still standing, hawks in Washington will surely argue that the U.S. cannot afford to show weakness — and that our credibility depends on staying behind to create a friendly state in Tehran.
It would be a slippery slope from this to a wider war.
If that is the case, Iran, a country with two-and-a-half times the population and four times the territory of Iraq, will not be a cakewalk.
Many of those pushing for immediate action ignore these realities, focusing on the claim that Iran is on the verge of acquiring enough fissile material to produce a nuclear weapon. But according to the U.S. intelligence community, Iranian leaders have not actually decided to build a weapon.
As nuclear expert Joseph Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund has argued, Iran might decide, like Japan and other countries, to have only the ability to produce a nuclear weapon fast — in short, a rapid breakout option.
Even with a bomb, Iran is not an imminent threat to America’s security. If it ever became one, the U.S. could quickly ensure Iran’s absolute destruction, potentially through a nuclear strike.
As for the oft-cited question of Israel’s security, our staunch ally’s second-strike capability remains robust and can deter Iran.
Variously over the course of the past 60 years, the U.S. government has overthrown Iran’s democratically elected government, supported its Western-oriented dictator, covertly backed militants and regional actors against it, sternly enjoined other countries to not trade with it, encircled the country with its armed forces and declared its intention to bomb it.
Unless Americans are willing to fight Iranians to the death — possibly every few years — Washington must stop polarizing the situation. Aggressive policies and rhetoric do not benefit our security.
Without demanding that Iran surrender on the issue of uranium enrichment, the U.S. — which accounts for almost half of the world’s military spending, wields one of the planet’s largest nuclear arsenals and can project its power around the globe — should lift sanctions, stop its belligerence and open a direct line of communication with Tehran.
The President has said repeatedly that “all options are on the table.” But contrary to popular belief, diplomacy with Iran is an option that has yet to be fully exhausted.
In the end, Iranians must decide that nuclear capability is not in their best interest. Mounting evidence and recent history suggest that anything else is a short-term solution.
The WSJ actually published this Op-Ed. It must have been a mistake. Rupert Murdoch will surely fire the bastard that allowed this to happen.
Why Ron Paul Matters
Among all the GOP presidential candidates, he’s the only one who stands for constitutionally limited government.
The controversy surrounding decades-old newsletters to which GOP presidential aspirant Ron Paul lent his name is regrettable. First, it is regrettable because the sometimes bigoted, intolerant content of those newsletters is inconsistent with the views of the congressman as understood by those of us who know him. Yet, while Mr. Paul disavows supporting those ideas, he refuses to repudiate his close association with their likely source, Lew Rockwell, head of the Alabama-based Mises Institute.
Second, the New York Times editorialized recently that these unsavory writings “will leave a lasting stain on . . . the libertarian movement.” That is wishful thinking on the part of the Times, but it adds to the background noise surrounding Mr. Paul’s candidacy, obscuring the real libertarian policy initiatives that have made his candidacy the most remarkable development of the 2012 campaign.
Ron Paul’s libertarian campaign has traction because so many Americans respond to his messages:
• Tax and spending. If ever there were sound and fury signifying nothing, it has to be the recent “debate” over the budget. Covered by the media as though it was negotiations on the Treaty of Versailles, the wrestling match between Republicans and Democrats centered on the nearly trivial question of whether the $12 trillion increase in the national debt over the next decade should be reduced by 3% or 2%.
Getty ImagesRon Paul of Texas
Mr. Paul would cut the federal budget by $1 trillion immediately. He can’t do it, of course, but voters sense he really wants to. As Milton Friedman once explained, the true tax on the American people is the level of spending—the resources taken from the private sector and employed in the public sector. Whether financed from direct taxation, inflation or borrowing, spending is the burden.
• Foreign policy and military spending. As the only candidate other than Jon Huntsman who says it is past time to bring the troops home from Afghanistan, Mr. Paul has tapped into a stirring recognition by limited-government Republicans and independents that an overreaching military presence around the world is inconsistent with small, constitutional government at home.
The massive cost of these interventions, in treasure and blood, highlights what a mistake they are, as sensible people on the left and right recognized from the beginning. Of course we want a strong military capable of defending the United States, but our current expenditures equal what the rest of the world spends, which makes little sense. It is futile to try to be the world’s policeman—to try to create an American Empire as so many neoconservatives promote. And we can’t afford it.
• Civil liberties. Libertarians often differ with conservatives over issues related to civil liberties. Mr. Paul’s huge support among young people is due in large part to his fierce commitment to protecting the individual liberties guaranteed us in the Constitution. He would work to repeal significant parts of the so-called Patriot Act. Its many civil liberties transgressions include the issuance by the executive branch of National Security Letters (a form of administrative subpoena) without a court order, and the forbiddance of American citizens from mentioning that they have received one of these letters at the risk of jail.
President Obama even claims the right to kill American citizens on foreign soil, without due process of law, for suspected terrorist activities. Meanwhile, the Stop Online Piracy Act moving through the House is a clear effort by the federal government to censor the Internet. Mr. Paul stands up against all this, which should and does engender support from limited government advocates in the GOP.
• Austrian economics. Mr. Paul is often criticized for references to what some consider obscure economists of the so-called Austrian School. People should read them before criticizing. Nobel laureate Friedrich von Hayek and his mentor Ludwig von Mises were two of the greatest economists and social scientists ever to live.
Modern Austrian School economists such as Lawrence H. White, now at George Mason University, and Fred Foldvary at Santa Clara University predicted the housing bubble and the recession that followed the massive, multitrillion-dollar malinvestment caused by government redirection of capital into housing. Mr. Paul, like Austrian School economists, understands that we would be better off with a gold standard, competing currencies or a monetary rule than with the arbitrary and discretionary powers of our out-of-control Federal Reserve.
Mr. Paul should be given credit for his efforts to promote these ideas and other libertarian policies, all of which would make America better off. He’d be the first to admit he’s not the most erudite candidate to make the case, but surely part of his appeal is his very genuine persona.
Which is not to say that Mr. Paul is always in sync with mainstream libertarians. His seeming indifference to attempts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, his support for a constitutional amendment to deny birthright citizenship to children of illegal aliens, and his opposition to the Nafta and Cafta free trade agreements in the name of doctrinal purity are at odds with most libertarians.
As for the Ron Paul newsletters, the best response was by my colleague David Boaz when the subject was raised publicly in 2008. About them he wrote in the Cato Institute’s blog:
“Those words are not libertarian words. Maybe they reflect ‘paleoconservative’ ideas, though they’re not the language of Burke or even Kirk. But libertarianism is a philosophy of individualism, tolerance, and liberty. As Ayn Rand wrote, ‘Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism.’ Making sweeping, bigoted claims about all blacks, all homosexuals, or any other group is indeed a crudely primitive collectivism. Libertarians should make it clear that the people who wrote those things are not our comrades, not part of our movement, not part of the tradition of John Locke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and Robert Nozick. Shame on them.”
Support for dynamic market capitalism (as opposed to crony capitalism), social tolerance, and a healthy skepticism of foreign military adventurism is a combination of views held by a plurality of Americans. It is why the 21st century is likely to be a libertarian century. It is why the focus should be on Ron Paul’s philosophy and his policy proposals in 2012.
Mr. Crane is co-founder and president of the Cato Institute.
Libertarians always seem to make the most sense. Why are liberals and conservatives so nonsensical? It must be the only way they can rationalize their interventionist government “solutions” to every ill in society. They believe they are smarter than the average person and can run their lives for them better than they can.
The Top Ten Things Santa Claus Forgot To Give Me
By: Doug Bandow
Santa Claus came and went. Truth be told, I’m a bit disappointed. He didn’t leave me even one of my ten favorite gifts. I guess I have to wait another year. Maybe after next year’s election Santa will be more forthcoming.
Top of my list is for Americans to stop confusing Uncle Sam with Santa Claus. The idea of some rich guy from far away showing up to fulfill one’s most devout desires is really quite attractive. When people expect the government to do the same things quickly get ugly—and quite expensive. No wonder economist Lawrence Kotlikoff figures that we face total debts and unfunded liabilities totaling some $211 trillion, 14 times America’s annual GDP. We’ve been racking up the red ink in the belief that someone else would pay the bill.
Next, I wish the people of the world would stop confusing Uncle Sam with Joan of Arc. It seems everyone everywhere expects America to show up and save them. The South Koreans desire to be defended from the North Koreans. The Japanese want protection from China. The Afghans in government want to keep the Taliban out of government. The Europeans expect Americans to buy the expensive weapons necessary to allow them to take credit for tossing out a North African dictator. The Israelis insist that the U.S. bomb their enemies. And so it goes.
It’s kind of nice to know that most everyone—except the cuddly North Koreans and their new dictator, informally known as the Cute Leader—trust Americans with guns. (Too bad liberal congressmen at home don’t do so either, but that’s another story!) However, the result is a big expense, with the U.S., despite its $211 trillion in debts and liabilities, spending as much on the military as the rest of the world combined. And it means Americans are constantly at war dying for things which are pretty hard to explain to the families of those doing the dying. Such as creating a strong, honest, and competent central government in Afghanistan, a country which never has had a strong, honest, and competent central government, at least in our lifetimes. And a country where it wouldn’t make any difference to America if there was a strong, honest, and competent central government.
Number three is that Washington stop lecturing other nations about democracy while sucking up to corrupt thugs who jail anyone foolish enough to support democracy there. You know, like the Saudi royals. It’s a great scam—they promote ascetic Islamic lifestyles at home while enjoying licentious playboy lifestyles abroad. The U.S. also supports crooked autocrats throughout Central Asia. A little hypocrisy might be necessary in international relations, but American officials tend to engage in ostentatious hypocrisy, which unfortunately is noticed around the world.
My fourth wish is for my conservative friends who claim to believe in individual liberty and limited government to stop campaigning to toss people in jail for smoking marijuana and stop glorifying participation in deadly and destructive wars. It may be stupid to use drugs—though not obviously more so than to use alcohol and tobacco—but that’s not a good reason for filling America’s prisons. War is the ultimate big government program. Not to mention the fact that killing people always should be a last resort, not something to engage in when one has a midnight brainstorm after consuming a quart of one’s favorite ice cream, which probably explains most of Newt Gingrich’s crackpot pronouncements.
Number five on the unfulfilled Christmas list is that my liberal friends who say they believe in “choice” apply the same principle to issues other than sex. Like choosing to engage in economic acts among consenting adults. To use one’s own earnings how one wishes, even if that means being selfish, greedy, obnoxious, and just not very nice. To purchase firearms to defend oneself from criminals. To engage in even “offensive” free speech. In short, to live pretty much as you’d like so long as you aren’t violating other people’s rights.
Coming in sixth place is my desire that conservative Republicans who have trouble staying married or staying faithful to their wives—and especially who have trouble doing both—shut up about family, marriage, fidelity, religion, morality, and especially Western civilization. I used to hope that they would just slink away if they were on their second wife. But Santa consistently refused to provide that gift, so I’m now asking for less. Could Republicans shut up about these things if they were caught cheating on their second wife? (I call it defining deviancy down, or “Newting” for short.)
At seven is my hope that my fellow Christian believers will get over their feelings of persecution. Yes, much of elite culture is unreservedly hostile. More ominous are occasional legal attempts to limit religious activity. However, the First Amendment remains a powerful bulwark against state interference, a protection lacked by people in other lands. Christians need to do more to reclaim the culture instead of just complaining about its decline.
Moreover, hundreds of millions of believers in nations as diverse as China and Pakistan, North Korea and Iran, and Burma and Saudi Arabia face brutal, sometimes murderous persecution. George W. Bush’s needless war in Iraq and this year’s “Arab Spring” have unleashed successive waves of new persecution against Christians and other religious minorities. I have stood amid the rubble of wrecked churches in Indonesia and Pakistan. Christians in such nations know what persecution really is. In contrast, yesterday, Christmas Day, tens if not hundreds of millions of Americans safely attended religious services of all kinds.
In eighth place is my wish is that members of the bipartisan War Party stop smearing their opponents as isolationists. There is something strange about people who joyously propose bombing, invading, and occupying nations around the globe claiming to be internationalists. The real internationalists are those who argue that the best forms of global involvement are not slaughtering other peoples. No doubt, there are a lot of bad folks whose deaths make the world a better place. Saddam Hussein for one. But it is not clear that the benefits of his death outweigh the tragedy of some 200,000 Iraqis killed in the ensuing civil strife. And it certainly wasn’t America’s place to decide that “the price is worth it,” as then UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright described her view of the deaths of Iraqi babies due to U.S.-supported sanctions.
Wish number nine: partisans of all stripes should stop demonizing their opponents. Bill Clinton had a pretty disreputable marital life. Nevertheless, he was a smart guy, interested in policy, and with great but sadly unfulfilled potential. He also managed to stay married, in contrast to so many holier-than-thou Republicans. He deserved to be impeached for committing perjury, but he was not the president most deserving of that fate: think Richard Nixon, who shamelessly abused the trust placed in him.
George W. Bush was a big spender who made tragically foolish international decisions. He was a poor decision-maker who should have stayed a baseball owner. But his personal life was exemplary; he treated people decently. He was a bad president, not a moral monster. There are lots of reasons to disagree with Barack Obama on policy. But he is bright and engaged, has suffered no hint of personal scandal, is known for treating staff well, and gives no sign of being anything other than a patriot. He is liberal, yes, but certainly not a “socialist thug” as one embittered conservative columnist described him, let alone the evil incarnate that so many conservative emailers suggest.
All of these presidents deserved determined opposition from people who believe in limited government and individual liberty. However, none deserved to be targeted by an increasingly vicious political campaign of personal destruction.
Last but not least, to paraphrase that great political philosopher Michael Jackson, everyone should look at the person “in the mirror” before rushing off to demand some politician somewhere do something. Compassion originally meant to “suffer with,” as Marvin Olasky explained in his book The Tragedy of American Compassion. Compassion should require giving of oneself, both money and self. Compassion should not mean stealing from others, even for alleged good works.
Reform of all sorts should start at home and in community with our friends and neighbors. Children must be raised, morality must be taught, needs must be met, lives must be healed, problems must be solved. There is a role for government, but it should be the last resort. We live within concentric rings of people and institutions. At the center are individuals and families and we move outward as we relate to and cooperate with others. The national government is the outer ring, like the planet Pluto in our solar system. We should go there only after everyone and everything else has failed.
These ten seemed like pretty reasonable wishes to me. I don’t know why Santa was so uncooperative. He didn’t give me even one of them. But there’s always next year! I’ll mail my letter to Santa earlier next time. Maybe then Santa Claus will make an appearance at my house next Christmas.
Medicare and Medicaid lose $87 BILLION PER YEAR to fraud. The great debt ceiling compromise fraud “cuts” $63 billion in spending in the 1st two years. This is your Federal government at its finest. I can’t wait until Obamacare really kicks in.
|July 5, 2011 4:00 A.M.
The Budget Debate Fraud
Submitted by Econophile on 07/29/2011 14:42 -0400
This article originally appeared in the Daily Capitalist.
The chaos that is our federal government never ceases to please. If you ask me what will happen, I will admit to not having a clue. I wrote a piece two weeks ago on this and my views haven’t changed (U.S. Default? Why Are We Surprised?“). The entire thing is a charade and thus my heart is with the Tea Party Caucus who are holding out for greater cuts and a balanced budget amendment. I have got to hand it to Boehner though for using the crisis to get Obama defeated in 2012 by causing the debt limit issue to come up again just before the elections. But let us not be fooled that the Republicans are actually cutting the deficit.
I listened to O’Reilly anchor Laura Ingram while I was doing my workout this afternoon, and she kept throwing back the argument to Tea Party Congressmen that, hey you’ve gotten what you can get, don’t risk another financial collapse. That is hyperbole. We, the U.S.A., have de facto already met the requirements for a credit downgrade, so it’s going to happen anyway because there are no real cuts proposed. Getting knocked down a minus tick on our rating another $43 billion per year of Treasury interest payments if rates shoot up 500 bps. That is not going to take us down. Yes, I know, it will impact other rates, etc., etc. It reminds me of the Panic of ’08 when Hank Paulson cried wolf and Ben Bernanke was kind enough to remind us that we had a Great Depression once. Those guys still don’t have a clue.
Ask yourself what will happen if they don’t truly cut spending? It will either be inflation or taxes that will result, probably both in my opinion. Either way it will cause long-term stagnation and permanent high unemployment. My vote: shut it down.
Before you think that the solution is for those nice people in D.C. to “just get along” read this from Cato which reveals that the cuts are just a mirage:
by Michael D. Tanner | Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute
“It is clear we must enter an age of austerity,” House minority leader Nancy Pelosi mourned as she endorsed Harry Reid’s proposal for raising the debt ceiling. Austerity? Really?
The Reid plan would theoretically cut spending by $2.7 trillion over ten years. Even if that were true, it would still allow our national debt to increase by some $10 trillion over the next decade. But, of course, the $2.7 trillion figure is mostly fiction. About $1 trillion of the savings would come from the eventual end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, savings that were going to occur anyway. Senator Reid might just as well have added another $1 trillion in savings by not invading Pakistan.
Another $400 billion comes not from cuts but from assuming reduced interest payments. And, of course, there are $40 billion in unspecified “program-integrity savings,” meaning the “waste, fraud, and abuse” that is the last refuge of every phony budget cutter. The plan rejects any changes to Medicare and Social Security, despite the fact that the unfunded liabilities from those two programs could run as high as $110 trillion. But those liabilities generally fall outside the ten-year budget window, so Reid — unlike our children and grandchildren — doesn’t have to worry about them.
That leaves about $1.2 trillion in discretionary and defense spending reductions over the next ten years. Let’s put that in perspective. This year the federal government will spend $3.8 trillion. Our deficit is roughly $1.6 trillion. Our national debt exceeds $14.3 trillion, not counting unfunded entitlement liabilities. We are talking about raising the debt ceiling to $16.9 trillion. This month alone the federal government will borrow $134 billion. Reid’s cuts would average roughly $120 billion per year.
This is austerity?
Of course, the House Republican plan as announced by Speaker John Boehner is only marginally more austere.
Boehner proposes a two-stage increase in the debt ceiling, with each stage accompanied by spending cuts. The first $1 trillion debt increase would be accompanied by $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over ten years, pretty much the same as Senator Reid’s plan. The big difference is that instead of Sen. Reid’s phony Iraq and Afghanistan savings, the speaker’s plan would appoint a commission — now there’s an exciting new idea — to propose $1.8 trillion in savings from entitlement programs. To be fair, Senator Reid would also appoint a commission — because that’s what Washington does — to recommend additional deficit reductions, presumably including entitlement changes. The difference is that the Boehner commission has teeth. If Congress rejects its recommendations, the president doesn’t get a second $1.6 trillion hike in the debt ceiling.
But $1.8 trillion in entitlement savings over ten years is still too small to encompass real structural reforms of the type envisioned by Rep. Paul Ryan and others. It is much more likely to simply be more tweaking around the edges, perhaps raising the eligibility age or changing the way the cost-of-living formula is calculated. True, changes such as these will have a real impact out beyond the ten-year budget window, but they fall far short of what is necessary to deal with the shortfalls to come.
Making matters worse, both Reid and Boehner are using the time-honored Washington dodge of “baseline budgeting,” meaning that the proposed cuts are not actual reductions in spending from year to year, but cuts from projected future increases. Thus, under both the Reid and Boehner plans, actual federal spending will continue to rise.
With the clock running out, we are now down to fifth- or sixth-best options. But let’s not pretend that this is austerity.
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