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Week in Review: March 20, 2011

Noteworthy news and opinion items from the week ending March 20, 2011

Another Selfless War…

The biggest news item of the past week is that the Obama administration has entered the United States into yet another selfless war, this one with Libya. The administration has done so not with the blessing of Congress, as is required by the U.S. Constitution, but with that of the UN Security Council, which is not mentioned in the Constitution. The explicit goal of this unconstitutional war is not the protection of Americans from foreign aggression, but, in Obama’s exact words, “the protection of civilians in Libya” and the provision of “humanitarian and economic assistance so that they can fulfill their aspirations peacefully.”

TOS will post commentary about this immoral war in the coming days on our blog. In the meantime, James V. Capua has penned an incisive piece on the development (HT Israpundit), pointing out that

Barack Obama finally has a war he can believe in. The intervention in Libya promises to conform just about perfectly to the president’s world view. . . .

[A war] to minimize the US role [and] to exalt that of the UN and other supra-national organizations, such as the Arab League, and all of the NGO camp followers that normally feed off such international coalitions. . . .

[A way] to use American military power in the kind of international relief and social service agency capacity Obama’s internationalist foreign policy team would like it to be, its mission unsullied by grubby considerations of national interest. . . .

[A war consistent with] Obama’s world view [which] requires victims to be serviced. . . . Pitiful, battered, pleading Libyans huddled around Benghazi are the prerequisite for making this intervention work politically. In just the same way Obama and Pelosi needed the image of sick, desperate, hard up Americans to make the case for ObamaCare, the Stimuli, and financial services “reform.” . . .

War without victory, intervention that produces dependency, Americans shouldering the burdens but obscured in a fog of UN acronyms, a maze of rules of engagement and process that squeezes every last bit of spirit and motivation out of warriors. . . .

Read the whole piece here.

The Massacre of the Fogel Family, and the Culture of Death

Jeff Jacoby points out that the Palestinian terrorists’ murder of the Fogel family is not an isolated act of violence, but the latest in a stream of such atrocities supported and celebrated by “a culture that extols death over life, that inculcates a vitriolic hatred of Jews, [and] that induces children to idolize terrorists.” Excerpt:

The killers started with Yoav, the Fogels’ 11-year-old, and Elad, his 4-year-old brother. Yoav’s throat was slit, and Elad was stabbed twice in the heart. Then the attackers murdered Ruth, knifing her as she came out of the bathroom. In the next room they killed Ruth’s sleeping husband, Udi, and their infant daughter, Hadas. Apparently they didn’t notice the last bedroom, where the two other boys, Ro’i, 8, and Yishai, 2, were asleep. It wasn’t until half past midnight, when 12-year-old Tamar came home from a Friday night youth group, that the horrific slaughter was discovered. Much of the house was drenched in blood, and the 2-year-old was shaking his parents’ bodies, crying for them to wake up.

What explains such unspeakable evil? What sort of human being deliberately butchers a sleeping baby, or plunges a knife into a toddler’s heart?

As news of the massacre in Itamar spread, candy and pastries were handed out in Gaza in celebration. The Al-Qassam Brigades, a branch of Hamas, argued that the murder of Israeli settlers was permitted by international law. A day later it changed its tune, insisted that “harming children is not part of Hamas’s policy,” and suggested instead that the massacre might have been committed by Jews. The Palestinian “foreign minister,’’ Riyad al-Malki, also voiced doubt that the killers could have been Palestinian. “The slaughter of people like this by Palestinians,’’ he claimed, “is unprecedented.’’ Actually, the precedents abound.

The atrocity in Itamar recalls the 2002 terror attack at Kibbutz Metzer that left five victims dead, including a mother and her two young boys. It brings to mind the murder of Tali Hatuel and her four daughters, who were shot at point-blank range as they drove from Gaza to Ashkelon in 2004. It is reminiscent of the bloodbath three years ago in a Jerusalem yeshiva, where eight young students were gunned down. Unprecedented? If only. . . .

Full article here.

Marxism Reviving in China

Political change toward freedom is easily reversed when the change is not based on principle, and China is a case in point. Although the country has liberalized its economy in recent decades, it has not done so by reference to the principle of individual rights. Rather, as Gordon G. Chang points out, it has done so pragmatically, to enable the regime to further its goal of expansion. Excerpt:

Karl Marx died 128 years ago today. Marxism, however, is flourishing, aided by a seemingly resurgent China.

Hu Jintao, the Chinese supremo, has been pushing his campaign—encapsulated by the phrase “Sinicizing and popularizing Marxism”—throughout society. So it should come as no surprise that, in recent days, Beijing has been ordering Marxist indoctrination for reporters, the prestigious Central Party School is actively encouraging “the building of a ruling party study model of Marxism,” and Marx’s Das Kapital is being brought to the stage as a musical.

It may be difficult to sing the definition of the labor theory of value, but it’s not hard to see that China is no longer “capitalism at full speed,” as Bill Gates once told us. What’s going on here?

First, China of the Communist Party was never capitalist, despite what Gates and other over-the-top optimists would have us believe. They have always interpreted Deng Xiaoping’s “socialism with Chinese characteristics” as denoting capitalism, but that was wrong. Deng was at most willing to permit a portion of the Chinese economy to become relatively unregulated, and that was merely a tactic to help the dominant state economy work more efficiently by sending what economists call “price signals” to Beijing’s own government-owned enterprises. . . .

Read the full article here.

Japan’s Broken Window

In the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that recently hit Japan, the Keynesians have been propagating their standard absurdity concerning such situations, namely, the broken window fallacy: the notion that such destruction is actually good for the economy. Peter Schiff eloquently refutes the nonsense in this video.

Here’s an excerpt worth quoting:

The idea that your economy is improved because you have to use resources to replace what you already had is sheer non-sense. I mean yes, the Japanese are gonna be very busy devoting scarce resources to repairing infrastructure and replacing structures that were demolished but those resources might have been used to create new products, new goods, new services, to build new infrastructure, to add to what they had. Not simply replace what they lost.

If we think that an earthquake is such a good thing for the economy we could replicate an earthquake without having to suffer any loss of lives, we could randomly select a city in the United State to destroy, we can give the residence ample warning to clear out and then we can send the air-force in and we can carpet bomb the place and we could reduce it to rubble and then we can have all the economic benefits of an earthquake. . . .

How Washington Ruined Your Washing Machine

Like windows, nuclear power plants, and everything else produced and traded in an economy, washing machines, in order to work optimally, must be produced in a free market, where inventors, engineers, and businessmen can design, manufacture, and market the machines in accordance with their best judgment. In this article, Sam Kazman chronicles what has happened to washing machines in the wake of increasing government intervention.

It might not have been the most stylish, but for decades the top-loading laundry machine was the most affordable and dependable. Now it’s ruined—and Americans have politics to thank.

In 1996, top-loaders were pretty much the only type of washer around, and they were uniformly high quality. When Consumer Reports tested 18 models, 13 were “excellent” and five were “very good.” By 2007, though, not one was excellent and seven out of 21 were “fair” or “poor.” This month came the death knell: Consumer Reports simply dismissed all conventional top-loaders as “often mediocre or worse.”

How’s that for progress?

The culprit is the federal government’s obsession with energy efficiency. Efficiency standards for washing machines aren’t as well-known as those for light bulbs, which will effectively prohibit 100-watt incandescent bulbs next year. Nor are they the butt of jokes as low-flow toilets are. But in their quiet destruction of a highly affordable, perfectly satisfactory appliance, washer standards demonstrate the harmfulness of the ever-growing body of efficiency mandates. . . .

Read the whole article here.

The Fukushima Nuclear Reactors

For those wanting to keep abreast of the situation surrounding Japan’s troubled nuclear reactors, here is an excellent resource. The website is maintained by students of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT. The latest update begins:

At a March 19 news conference, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said that sea water injection is continuing at reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Preparations were being made to spray water into the used fuel pool at reactor 4, and an unmanned vehicle sprayed more than 1,500 gallons of water over seven hours into the used fuel pool at reactor 3, Edano said. He also said he believed that the situation at the reactor 3 fuel pool is stabilizing.

Some reactor cooling capacity has been restored at reactors 5 and 6 after the installation of generators at those reactors, Edano added.

Edano said that progress had been made on “a fundamental solution” to restore power at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, with electricity expected to be restored at reactors 1 and 2 today and reactor 3 as early as Sunday. . . .

Visit the site here.

61 Pirates Seized in Arabian Sea

India has captured a pack of pirates and freed their captives; The Telegraph reports that the raid was “one of the most successful [operations] since the Somalian pirates escalated their campaign of extortion and kidnap on the Indian Ocean two years ago.”

The Indian authorities have yet to disclose the nationality of the suspects but they are believed to be from either Somalia or Yemen. . . .

The suspected pirates had hijacked the boat, the Mozambique-flagged Vega 5 in December last year and had since used it as a base for attacks on other ships.

They were finally caught on Sunday after they opened fire on the approaching Indian naval ship. They were forced to jump overboard when their own vessel was set ablaze caught fire in fierce retaliatory fire from the Indian ship. The 13 original crew members were freed in the raid. . . .

Read the full article here.

Although India deserves Kudos for freeing the hostages, she’d deserve more if she had left the pirates to the sharks.  (For a historical analysis of the proper way to deal with pirates, see “The Barbary Wars and Their Lesson for Combating Piracy Today.”)

First Principles Debate Series I—Government: What Is Its Proper Role?

On March 10, Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Center, debated Miles Rapoport, president of Demos, on the proper role of government; WNYC’s Brian Lehrer moderated. This event was highly illuminating, and both video and audio are now available. Enjoy it one way or the other.

The audio can be downloaded here:
http://www.archive.org/details/FirstPrinciples-Government_WhatIsItsProperRole_

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