For example, after the Bush administration exacerbated the worldwide threat from Islamic terrorists by invading and occupying two Muslim nations, spied on Americans without warrantswhich is both illegal and unconstitutionalto urgently combat such terrorism, and then saw its Attorney General dissemble about the espionage program, Congress has actually rewarded the administration for its actions. Afraid of being labeled soft on terrorism after an administration report cleverly stoked public fear by hyping al Qaedas regrouping, the legislators not only granted the administration legal authority for such warrantless domestic spying, but widened it to include cases in which terrorism is not suspected. Now the government may listen in on every phone call made by Americans to or from overseas. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has vowed that this cowardly travesty will be rectified when Congress reconvenes in September; but now that its law, President Bush need only veto the bill and obtain the votes of one-third of one chamber of Congress to block any changes to the horrific provisions.
At this point, the one scant hope seems to be that a more conservative Supreme Court would really be strict constructionist and rule that the Fourth Amendment to the Constitutionwhich should protect people from unreasonable searches and seizuresmakes no exception to the requirement that wiretapping warrants be subject to judicial approval. Not even for reasons of national security does the Fourth Amendment waive warrants. In fact, protecting citizens rights during especially stressful situations was considered quite deliberately in the design of the Constitution.
This example is not the only self-generating demand for government activism that has arisen from the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Although al Qaeda had no presence in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, the Mesopotamian branch rose in opposition to the U.S. occupation, and now is causing mayhem by launching numerous suicide attacks against both military and civilian targets. Yet with a straight face, George W. Bush maintains that the U.S. must continue expending U.S. and Iraqi lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq to battle a threat he helped generate. He is also arming former enemies in Iraqthe Sunni guerrillasto help battle the destructive group. Trust in the guerrillas may be misplaced, and could come back to haunt the United States later or exacerbate the ongoing civil war.
Furthermore, after the elimination of Saddam Husseins regime in IraqShiite Irans greatest rivalit was predictable that the strength of Americas greatest strategic competitor in the Persian Gulf region would grow. It is unwise to conduct military action that is likely to help your chief rival, but the zealous Bush administration did exactly that. After the United States created an 800-pound Iranian regional gorilla, it then felt the need to sell $20 billion dollars worth of arms to shore up its skittish, oil-rich, Sunni Gulf allies, and to try to buy some cooperation from them in supporting the Shiite-Kurdish government in Iraq. These sales in turn meant that the United States had to open its wallethiking by 25 percent the already huge military aid subsidies to the Gulf states nervous rival Israel, to an average of $3 billion per year. Finally, in the chain of largesse, aid to Egypt, a potential rival of Israel, also had to be increased to an average of $1.3 billion per year. Thus, to compensate for its bungling, the United States is stoking an arms race in a volatile region, which could lead to further catastrophes.
Most of the U.S. public does not seem to notice that its governments actions have exacerbated or even created foreign threats, which that same government then says it needs more resources in order to counter. Instead of demanding that their government cease its excessive military interventions and occupations, arms sales, and foreign military assistance, and insisting that Congress cut off funding for such actions, the U.S. public rewards a government that not only performs poorly against those threats, but actually exacerbates them. The public would never stand for such failure from private business.
Charles V. Peña is Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute as well as a senior fellow with the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, senior fellow with the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute, and an adviser on the Straus Military Reform Project.
William Ratliff is Adjunct Fellow at the Independent Institute, Research Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, and a frequent writer on Chinese and Cuban foreign policies.
Ivan Eland is Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute and Assistant Editor of The Independent Review. Dr. Eland is a graduate of Iowa State University and received an M.B.A. in applied economics and Ph.D. in national security policy from George Washington University. He has been Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office, Evaluator-in-Charge (national security and intelligence) for the U.S. General Accounting Office, and Investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Full Biography and Recent Publications
Jonathan J. Bean is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Professor of History at Southern Illinois University, and editor of the forthcoming book, Race and Liberty: The Classical Liberal Tradition of Civil Rights.
Gregory is a Research Analyst at The Independent Institute. He earned
his bachelor's degree in American history from the University of California
at Berkeley and gave the undergraduate history commencement speech in
2003. In addition to his work with the Independent Institute, he regularly
writes for numerous news and commentary web sites, including LewRockwell.com,
Future of Freedom Foundation, and the Rational Review.
Dominick T. Armentano is professor emeritus in economics at the University of Hartford (Connecticut) and a research fellow at The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. He is author of Antitrust & Monopoly (Independent Institute, 1998).
Alvaro Vargas Llosa is director of The Center on Global Prosperity at The Independent Institute. He is a native of Peru and received his B.S.C. in international history from the London School of Economics. He is widely published and has lectured on world economic and political issues including at the Mont Pelerin Society, Naumann Foundation (Germany), FAES Foundation (Spain), Brazilian Institute of Business Studies, Fundación Libertad (Argentina), CEDICE Foundation (Venezuela), Florida International University, and the Ecuadorian Chamber of Commerce. He is the author of the Independent Institute books The Che Guevara Myth and Liberty for Latin America. Full biography and recent publications.
Gabriel Roth is a transport and privatization consultant and a research fellow at the Independent Institute, where he is editing a book on private-sector roles in the provision of roads, Street Smart: Competition, Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Roads.
Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at The Independent Institute,
author of Against Leviathan and Crisis and Leviathan, and editor of the
scholarly quarterly journal, The Independent Review. Click
here for a bio on Dr. Higgs, the noted economist and historian.
William Marina is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif., and Professor Emeritus of History at Florida Atlantic University.
T. Beito is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute, Associate
Professor of History at the University of Alabama, and co-editor of
the book, The
Voluntary City: Choice, Community and Civil Society.
For further information, see the Independent Institutes book on wasteful farm programs, Agriculture and the State: Market Processes and Bureaucracy, by Ernest C. Pasour, Jr.