The Government’s Illusory Terrorist Threat

Anwar al-Awlaki

Ivan Eland: The way government works, every agency—whether fighting poverty, obesity, childhood acne, or terrorism—needs a threat to hype to keep the cash flowing in from scared taxpayers.

US Terror Lists Should Be Downsized

tattoo removal

Ivan Eland: Should we take this violent, cult-like group off the U.S. terrorism list because all these Washington celebrities seem to be at least tacitly advocating such a move? No, the group, no matter how bad, should be taken off the U.S. terrorism list because it no longer attacks U.S. targets.

Let’s Hope for Continued Fiscal Gridlock

starve the beast

Ivan Eland: The good news is that if the committee can’t reach an agreement on the fiscal changes, or if Congress rejects its work, defense (including homeland security) and domestic programs have to take equal cuts.

The West Has a Double Standard in Terrorism Cases

terrorism-wide

Ivan Eland: In the case of al-Qaeda, focusing on Islam is just a way of avoiding a much-needed introspective examination of U.S. foreign policy to see if unneeded, and often counterproductive, U.S. interventions in the Muslim world could be eliminated.

United States Fails to Stand for Peaceful Change

Ivan Eland: Largely peaceful protests toppled the autocratic governments in Egypt and Tunisia. If peaceful dissent can work against authoritarian thugs in those countries, it has an even better chance of working in democratic Israel.

Sudan’s Lessons for Iraq

south-sudan

Ivan Eland: The U.S. occupation has grown so unpopular in Iraq that those same receptive Iraqi politicians, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, are scared to publicly advocate a long-term U.S. military presence.

Like Nixon, Obama Will Waste Lives to Get Reelected

President Barack Obama talks with Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., in the State Dining Room of the White House. (Photo: Pete Souza)

Ivan Eland: The public could be forgiven for missing the real message of Obama’s Afghanistan speech: “We’ve lost the war, but we are declaring victory anyway and getting out.”

Republicans Bungle War-Powers Pushback

bombing libya

Ivan Eland: Although John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, laudably sent a recent letter to President Barack Obama suggesting the possibility of a violation of the War Powers Resolution in the attack on Libya, he was 90 days too late.

Obama Should Follow FDR in Dealing with Generals, Not Lincoln

cartwright-wide

Ivan Eland: Obama needs to follow Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s example of not being bullied by his generals and avoid Abraham Lincoln’s bad example of being so intimidated by “experts.”

Across-the-Board Spending Cut Proposals Go Mainstream

political tribes

Ivan Eland: Deep down, both Republican and Democratic politicians believe something needs to be done about the monstrous and dangerous deficit and debt, but they are scared to do anything because, unfortunately, the American people want their government handouts but are unwilling to pay for them.

‘Unprovoked’ Attacks, From 1812 to 9/11

grenada

Ivan Eland: American history vindicates the old saying that “truth is the first casualty of war,” but the passage of time should allow a republic to undertake a more honest and dispassionate examination of historical events. It rarely does, with truth being swept under the rug in favor of assuming uncaused indignities.

Let’s Call It ‘VO Day’ and Get Out

brownstone

Ivan Eland: Although the Obama administration has said that the killing of Osama bin Laden is not a VE or VJ day—which brought a return to normal times after World War II ended—perhaps it should be.

Only Road to Budget Reduction: Across-the-Board Cuts

defense-budget-wide

Ivan Eland: Weapons purchases are often welfare projects doled out to congressional districts and states with political clout. In fact, unlike in the commercial market, defense contractors don’t give subcontracts to the best subcontractors but spread them around the country to build political support, so that it is very difficult to kill weapons programs.

Libyan Intervention Fraught With Risks

libya-wide

Ivan Eland: United States should be careful of the signals sent when encouraging violent opposition against unfriendly dictators or when actively supporting such rebellions with military attacks.

Libya’s True Costs

i-wish-i-could

Ivan Eland: As in George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, analysis of the stated reasons for President Barack Obama’s attack on Libya lead to a lot of head-scratching.

Across-the-Board Cuts Needed to Avoid Fiscal Armageddon

boehner-budget

Ivan Eland: To keep with the bipartisan spirit after the Gabrielle Giffords’ assassination attempt and also to avoid partisan fighting over spending priorities, which will bog down and probably eventually kill any significant budget cuts, all government programs should be cut by 15 percent from last year’s budget level, including heretofore sacred defense and entitlement programs.

Russian Arms Control Proposals Worth Considering

russian arms treaty

Ivan Eland: Missile defense is an expensive relic of the Cold War, which the U.S. can no longer afford given its huge budget deficits and high debt levels. Keeping the program alive are Republicans who want to preserve this white elephant to realize the grandiose “Star Wars” dream of their hero, Ronald Reagan.

Don’t Expect Iraq to End Like Sudan

sudan-rebels

Ivan Eland: The American media continues to tout the reduced violence in Iraq without foreseeing the long-term potential for a resumption of severe ethno-sectarian violence and the absence of mechanisms—à la Sudan—to defuse it.

Extending Nuclear Umbrella Is a Bad Idea

Ivan Eland: Extending the U.S. nuclear shield to the much more unstable and violent region of the Middle East seems supremely foolhardy. The U.S. could more easily get dragged into an unplanned and unneeded future nuclear exchange there than in any other area of the world.

A Radical Solution for the War in Afghanistan

Ivan Eland: The problem is that the U.S. goal in Afghanistan—although President Obama has reduced it from George W. Bush’s instituting democracy to merely stabilizing the country—is still too ambitious.

Carrots Likely Better Than Sticks in Iran Dealings

The Bomb

Ivan Eland: Threatening more sanctions, however, will likely be an unproductive approach to getting Iran to end its nuclear program. When assessing human psychology, experts say that negative reinforcement is scarring.

Stop the Persecution of Julian Assange

wikileaks

Ivan Eland: Assange is either a modern-day Job or there is an orchestrated campaign (presumably) by the U.S. government to compel his Web site to desist in its publication of classified U.S. government documents and diplomatic cables.

U.S. Policy Toward the Koreas Is Unrealistic

korea

Ivan Eland: The United States could undermine Chinese support for North Korea by giving South Korea five years notice that it will abrogate the U.S.-South Korean security alliance.

New START Is Worthy, but Let’s Not Violate the Constitution to Save It

James Rubin

Ivan Eland: Denying Obama a victory—even if it’s good for the country—is very irresponsible. And on balance, the New START Treaty is good for the country.

Government Sexual Molestation in Airports Over the Top

Airport Scanner

Ivan Eland: Outrageous fondling by government employees has caused a rising tide of public outrage and may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Can Dubya Reinvent His Presidency?

Ivan Eland: Although Bush can’t change his domestic catastrophes, such as the federal response to Hurricane Katrina or the horrendous financial crisis and the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, if Iraq and Afghanistan eventually reach some stability, he may be regarded as the man who threw out the despotic regimes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban.

Ted Sorensen’s Death Should Cause Reflection

John Kennedy and Ted Sorensen

Ivan Eland: In the wake of the death of the man responsible for most of President John F. Kennedy’s soaring public phrases, a reassessment is needed of the Kennedy administration, which has been consistently overrated by the media and public.

Expand the Role of the Citizen-Soldier Without a Draft

warfare

Ivan Eland: Yet although the presence of conscription does not seem to prevent U.S. entry into questionable wars—for example, the Korean and Vietnam Wars—it does seem to create a peace lobby to end such debacles.

Continued Foibles in Iraq and Afghanistan

hunting taliban

Ivan Eland: In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has been blinded by desired TV images of having the locals sport blue thumbs—emphasizing democratic elections versus an increased appreciation for individual rights.

Woodward’s Exposé Documents What We All Suspected About the White House

bob woodward

Ivan Eland: If it weren’t for the latest salacious bureau-gossip, the book would be rather boring—and tragic. Boring, not because the issues are uninteresting or because Woodward is a bad writer, but because the author records a dysfunctional White House internal decision-making process in which meeting after meeting features the same reasonable questions about the U.S. war in Afghanistan but in which nobody ever has very good answers to them.

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