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Interview with Clare M. Lopez on Islam and the Enemies of America

December 30, 2011

Craig Biddle: I’m speaking with Clare Lopez, senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy and at The Clarion Fund, vice president of The Intelligence Summit, and a 2011 Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute. She formerly was a professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies (CI Centre), where she taught courses on the Iranian Intelligence Services and the expanding influence of jihad and sharia in Europe and the United States. Ms. Lopez began her professional career as an operations officer with the CIA for twenty years, and has written extensively on subjects related to Iran, Islam, counterterrorism, and the Middle East. She is the coauthor of two books on Iran and a member of the Center for Security Policy’s Team B II, which published Shariah: The Threat to America in 2010 to provide an alternative policy position on Islam, Islamic law, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s threat to U.S. national security. Thank you for joining me, Clare. Clare Lopez: Thank you, Craig. It’s my pleasure to be with you. CB: Let me begin with a broad question to lay some groundwork. What in your view is the purpose of the U.S. government with respect to foreign policy and the use of our military? CL: The purpose of the U.S. government is to support and defend the Constitution and the natural and inalienable rights of American citizens, which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our military, our president, and all federal officials take an oath in which they explicitly pledge allegiance to the Constitution. The preamble to the U.S. Constitution expands further that “We, the People” have established that Constitution “to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” If both our domestic and foreign policy were more truly aligned with these foundational principles, American citizens and our friends and allies in the world would be the better for it; and our enemies would know with certainty that a strong power stood steadfast in defense of American national interests, be they diplomatic, economic, intelligence, military, or security. Foreign policy (just as domestic policy) must be based on the principles of our Founding Fathers, that all men are created equal and therefore free; that no government is truly legitimate unless it governs by consent of the governed; that our rights derive from our human nature (or the Creator) and cannot be given or taken away by any government because they are inherent; that the individual is the most important element in society, not the government; and that individual acquisition and ownership of property—and government’s defense thereof—is integral to a free society. The world is a chaotic place, but certainly less Hobbesian than it used to be because the proponents of American and Western civilization have sought to implement, however imperfectly, a foreign policy based on these ideals. American leadership needs to restore our domestic and foreign policy to align with these principles. We, the people, must demand they lead a revival of our commitment as a people to the ageless vision of our Founding Fathers—and we, the people, must likewise dedicate ourselves to work for a restoration of those principles. CB: In recent decades, we’ve drifted so far from that ideal that the U.S. government is not even capable of naming our enemies or their motivations,. . . Continue »


U.N. Pays Tribute to Communist Butcher

December 28, 2011

Reuters reports that the U.N. General Assembly recently held a moment of silence for Kim Jong-il. The United States, along with other nations, boycotted the moment of silence. But this leads to the question: Why does any semi-civilized nation even patronize this monstrous organization? Kim Jong il and his communist ilk inflicted mass starvation, mass murder, poverty, concentration camps and a whole plethora of barbarity upon the North Korean people. As a North Korean defector once said, “human lives are worth less than those of flies” in North Korea, where “even dogs will not die so pitifully.” That the U.N. pays tribute to this communist butcher once again reveals the fundamental corruption of the United Nations, and this latest act of evil deserves more than a momentary boycott. The United States should give the U.N. what it deserves: defunding, eviction from America, and moral condemnation for being the evil organization that it is. Related: A Pledge for GOP Presidential Contenders: Repudiate the U.N. Wholesale Ending the North Korean Regime: Two Goods for the Price of One Image: Wikipedia Commons


The Perfect Last-Minute Gift: Stuff The Standard

December 22, 2011

A subscription to TOS is the perfect gift for your active-minded friends and relatives. “A friend gave me a subscription to The Objective Standard, saying he thought I’d appreciate the articles. He underestimated! I find the articles in TOS fascinating, clarifying, and often inspiring. I love this journal.” —Brad C. Gift subscriptions start at just $29 and are available in Print, E-Book, Kindle, and Audio editions, so your friends can enjoy the journal as they see fit. And we’ll deliver your gift notification on any day you choose—including Christmas day.


Newt Sides with Anti-Abortion Zealots

December 22, 2011

As a matter of political strategy, scaring the hell out of independent women voters by threatening to ban the birth control pill and all abortions even in cases of rape and incest is an easy way to lose a high-level election, at least outside the south. Just ask Ken Buck, a Republican who narrowly lost a U.S. Senate seat in Colorado last year largely by strapping himself to the anti-abortion political anchor. Through the primaries, many thought the seat to be unwinnable by the Democrat. And yet Newt Gingrich makes Buck look like the voice of restraint on the issue. In a year when Barack Obama gift-wrapped economic issues for the Republican campaign, a Gingrich-led GOP would place abortion in the forefront of many voters’ minds. Far more important than the matter of strategy is the severe harm an abortion ban would impose on women, their doctors, and their husbands or partners. Gingrich’s anti-abortion zealotry threatens to cost him the election (if nominated), but more importantly it threatens to cost women their lives and liberties. Gingrich wants to enact laws allowing “no abortions for any reason.” And he means it. After irritating anti-abortion leaders with a seemingly minor concession during an interview with ABC News, Gingrich quickly backpedaled, reaffirming his strict commitment to nationwide abortion bans with no exceptions. Originally Gingrich said in response to a question regarding abortion, “I think that if you take a position when a woman has [a] fertilized egg and that’s been successfully implanted that now you’re dealing with life.” To quickly review the biology, after a male’s sperm fertilizes a woman’s egg, the resulting zygote moves into the uterus over a period of days. Implantation in the uterus traditionally marks the beginning of pregnancy. So Gingrich’s message is that he wants total abortion bans from the moment of fertilization. To the anti-abortion movement, the span of days between fertilization and implantation matters very much. To the conservative site Red State, Gingrich’s statement during the interview “demonstrates a deficiency in Gingrich’s dedication to a pro-life [sic] agenda.” In reply to such criticism, Gingrich confirmed, “I believe that human life begins at conception” as opposed to implantation, so conception is the moment at which he wishes to ban any act that could harm or kill a zygote. To leave absolutely no confusion on the matter, Gingrich pledged support for the goals of Personhood USA, an anti-abortion group that explicitly wants to ban all abortion in the United States from the moment of fertilization, without even exceptions for rape or incest. The total abortion ban that Gingrich advocates would severely harm women as well as their supporters, as Diana Hsieh and I discuss in a recent article for this journal. If, as Personhood USA asserts, a zygote is a person with the same right to life as a born infant or adult, then any action that intentionally kills a zygote, embryo, or fetus constitutes murder, as a representative of the organization emphasized during a November news conference. By the logic of the position and in accordance with existing murder statutes, abortion would be legally prosecuted as murder. Any doctor or husband who assisted in an abortion would be prosecuted as an accessory to murder. A Canadian anti-abortion group forthrightly argues that women who get abortions should face severe prison sentences. A Colorado supporter of Personhood USA explicitly calls for the death penalty for women who get abortions. Types. . . Continue »


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Did the U.S. government secretly plan for a drone to crash in Iran?

December 20, 2011

Perhaps I read too much fiction, but is it possible that someone in our government actually planned for a drone to crash land in Iran? Given what has been attempted throughout military history, the possibility is not unprecedented. Consider a maneuver by the British government in World War II that Ben Macintyre, in his book Operation Mincemeat, called one of the most extraordinary deceptions ever attempted. As I summarized in my review of Macintyre’s book: The British Secret Service [took] a dead man and [planted] on him fake documents that suggested that the Allies were planning to bomb Sicily only as an initial feint preceding an attack on Nazi forces in Greece and Sardinia. They . . . then [floated] their man near the Spanish coastline, making it appear as though he drowned at sea, and [hoped] that one of the many Nazi spies in Spain discovered him and the documents and passed their content along to his superiors—convincing them to weaken Sicily by moving forces to Greece and Sardinia. . . . In that operation, British officials had to feign aggressive efforts to get the dead body back quickly once it was found, but they had to ensure that they didn’t succeed in getting it back too quickly, else the Nazi spies in Spain would not have time to copy and transmit the false information to Berlin. As reported, Obama’s response to the downed drone has been entirely in character. He meekly asked Iran to give it back. Iran’s response has been in character, too. They said no with typical scorn and promised ever more acts of war, just as they have done for the past thirty years. But maybe, just maybe, someone in U.S. intelligence has planted false information in that drone, ensured that the Iranians will have a new Stuxnet-like virus in any computer system that connects to it, or rigged it so that it blows up when whatever scientists Iran has left attempt to dismantle it or decode the information inside. One can hope. In any event, intelligently thwarting the number one state sponsor of terrorism would be a welcome change—and one that, given our history with Iran, the mullahs would never suspect. Related: Book Review: Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory Interview with Reza Kahlili, an Ex-CIA Spy Embedded in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards An Interview with John R. Bolton on the Proper Role of Government Image: Wikipedia Commons


Orville and Wilbur: Men of the Mind

December 17, 2011

Orville Wright once said that he and his brother Wilbur “were lucky enough to grow up in an environment where there was always much encouragement to children to pursue intellectual interests; to investigate whatever aroused curiosity.” On this day, in 1903, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville got an answer to the question he often pondered: “If birds can glide for long periods of time, then . . . why can’t I?” He could. But only after trying one design after another, gathering data from many experiments with his and his brother’s homemade wind tunnel, observing how birds fly, and adapting that to their own flyer and its ever-improving system of controls. Orville’s first flight on this historic day was 120 feet; the second, 175; and the third, 200. The fourth flight that day, by Wilbur, was 852 feet. Two years later, after many iterations, Wilbur flew for 39 minutes, covering 24 miles. For centuries, men had said that human flight was impossible. But these two brothers proved otherwise, thanks to their questioning, experimenting, and reasoning minds. Related: The Curious Life of Richard Feynman


Obama’s Osawatomie Shakedown: Critics’ Roundup

December 15, 2011

In his December 6 speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, President Obama grudgingly admitted that capitalism created our astounding standard of living. However, he claimed, unless businessmen wear the shackles of high taxes and pervasive political controls, the economy “doesn’t work.” Although the historical and economic fallacies and howlers in Obama’s speech would take a lengthy essay (if not a book) to completely unwind, various commentators have addressed some of them. David Harsanyi points out that Obama inadvertently said something true in his speech: “[T]he free market has never been a free license to take whatever you want from whoever you can.” In a free market, producers voluntarily trade value for value, while criminals who seize others’ wealth by force go to jail. In today’s world, Harsanyi writes, those “who believe they should have free license to take whatever they want from whomever they can” are “called Democrats.” Consider Obama’s tax-funded bailouts of politically favored banks, automobile companies, and unions. Unfortunately, Harsanyi misses the opportunity to point out that this criticism applies equally to Republicans. Recall that President Bush started the bailout frenzy and helped expand federal spending dramatically faster than Bill Clinton did. Harsanyi joins economist Don Boudreaux in mocking Obama’s angst over technological advancement. Obama notes that “huge advances in technology have allowed businesses to do more with less”; he offers examples of automated steel mills, ATM machines, and the Internet. But, rather than focus on the expanded wealth creation or the high-tech and more-diverse jobs that accompany such advancements, Obama chooses to claim only that technology has caused “painful disruptions.” This is the same fallacy that Bastiat exploded in his 1850 essay on machines. To Harsanyi this suggests the motto, “Less productivity! More jobs!” Boudreaux calls Obama’s position the “Luddite lament.” Channeling Occupy Wall Street, Obama pretends that the wealth creation of producers somehow hurts everyone else. Yet, as I pointed out in an October article, “Producers earn money by trading voluntarily with those who also benefit from the exchange.” That is always the case in a free market. On the other hand, some gain wealth at the expense of others precisely under the sorts of forced wealth transfer schemes that Obama supports. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler points out that Obama radically understates the level of taxes paid by “the rich.” But that point is superficial; the essential point is that people morally deserve to keep and use the wealth they earn, regardless of their level of productivity. Regarding history, Obama claims that free markets led to economic blowups and miserable working conditions. The truth is the exact opposite: Political intervention in the economy led to economic turmoil; free markets lead to prosperity. As Andrew Bernstein demonstrates page after page in Capitalism Unbound, free markets have always led to advances in productivity and rising standards of living. (This book is an excellent short defense of the history and morality of capitalism. See my review.) In her book The Forgotton Man, Amity Shlaes explains how the hyperinterventionism of Republican Hoover and Democrat FDR set off and extended the Great Depression. (See my review of Shlaes’s book as well.) A new video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity summarizes the work of Shlaes and others regarding the real causes of the Depression. Regarding the modern mortgage meltdown, Thomas Sowell explains how that too resulted from government controls; for example, many of the same politicians who praised the market-skewing Fannie. . . Continue »


The Gift that Moves Minds

December 12, 2011

Wondering what to give your friends this Christmas? “I read Ayn Rand’s fiction years ago and loved it, but I never thought her ideas applied to the real world. Last Christmas [a friend] gave me a subscription to TOS, and I can’t tell you how clarifying it has been. From privatizing education, to economics in Atlas Shrugged, to Ayn Rand’s theory of rights—it all just makes sense. Now I’m the one giving gift subscriptions. Thank you for this marvelous journal!”  —Nicole B. Gift subscriptions start at just $29 and are available in Print, E-Book, Kindle, and Audio editions, so your friends can enjoy the journal as they see fit. And we’ll deliver your gift notification on any day you choose—including Christmas day.


Antitrust Suit Against Microsoft is Immoral and Un-American

December 10, 2011

Novell inc. is suing Microsoft because Microsoft did not include Novell’s product, WordPerfect, in Windows 95. Bill Gates testifying in court said WordPerfect was a “bulky, slow, buggy product” that would “crash the system” and that Microsoft Word was “far superior.” These are certainly good reasons not to include a product in one’s innovative new program, but that’s beside the point. A company should be free not to include or support a product for any reason or no reason at all, unless it has voluntarily entered into a contract that says otherwise. But Microsoft had no contractual obligation to include WordPerfect in its system. For Novell to sue Microsoft for not including its product is ridiculous on its face. But that such a suit can be filed at all in the U.S. legal system—forcing Microsoft to spend time and money defending itself in court—is worse than ridiculous; it is morally outrageous. What makes such a suit possible? Antitrust law. Antitrust holds essentially that businessmen do not own their businesses and that they may not make even the most minute or mundane decisions, such as whether or not to include a competitor’s product in their own product. Antitrust effectively gives the government totalitarian power over every business, granting bureaucrats a blank check to harass them at whim. Not only should Novell’s case against Microsoft be thrown out; the entire obscenity known as antitrust law should be repealed. This law is immoral and un-American. Related: Antitrust with a Vengeance: The Obama Administration’s Anti-Business Cudgel Vindicating Capitalism: The Real History of the Standard Oil Company Image: Wikipedia Commons


Never Count a Good Author Out

December 10, 2011

Andrew Bernstein began his 2008 article “The Exalted Heroism of Alistair MacLean’s Novels” as follows: Less than fifty years ago, Alistair MacLean’s novels were international best-sellers that spawned major motion pictures. Today, his novels are out-of-print in America and MacLean, once considered a “master storyteller,” is virtually unknown to an entire generation of readers. This is tragic, for MacLean was one of the few authors of the last one-hundred years who both displayed a genuine comprehension of man’s potential for heroism and possessed the ability to convincingly portray this potential in literary form. Bernstein went on to survey MacLean’s books, indicating their value to those who love novels “with relentlessly goal-directed characters” and, by the end, had indeed conveyed the tragedy of the books being out of print. But never count a good author out. In June of this year, Sterling Publishers reprinted five of MacLean’s novels, including two—The Guns of Navarone and H.M.S. Ulysses—that Bernstein discussed extensively in his article. And in 2012, Sterling plans to publish eight more. The literary tides, it seems, are changing. And if reviews of the republished works are any indication, MacLean may prove to be, as Bernstein hoped in closing, “not the last of [the] great writers of heroic adventure fiction—but the first of their return.” Related: The Exalted Heroism of Alistair MacLean’s Novels The Mastermind behind SEAL Team Six and the End of Osama bin Laden Image: Wikipedia Commons