Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Criticism of neoconservatism

Also good notes on libertarianism v. neoconservatism
original source unknown (probable Wikipedia.org)

Jacobinism, Bolshevism
The "traditional" conservative Claes G. Ryn has argued that neoconservatives are "a variety of neo-Jacobins." Ryn maintains that true conservatives deny the existence of a universal political and economic philosophy and model that is suitable for all societies and cultures, and believe that a society's institutions should be adjusted to suit its culture, while Neo-Jacobins
are attached in the end to ahistorical, supranational principles that they believe should supplant the traditions of particular societies. The new Jacobins see themselves as on the side of right and fighting evil and are not prone to respecting or looking for common ground with countries that do not share their democratic preferences. (Ryn 2003: 387)
Further examining the relationship between Neoconservatism and moral rhetoric, Ryn argues that
Neo-Jacobinism regards America as founded on universal principles and assigns to the United States the role of supervising the remaking of the world. Its adherents have the intense dogmatic commitment of true believers and are highly prone to moralistic rhetoric. They demand, among other things, "moral clarity" in dealing with regimes that stand in the way of America's universal purpose. They see themselves as champions of "virtue." (p. 384).
Thus, according to Ryn, neoconservatism is analogous to Bolshevism: in the same way that the Bolsheviks wanted to destroy established ways of life throughout the world to replace them with communism, the neoconservatives want to do the same, only imposing free-market capitalism and American-style liberal democracy instead of socialism.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, had the following to say in a December, 2005 interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel: "They are not new conservatives. They're Jacobins. Their predecessor is French Revolution leader Maximilien Robespierre." [19]

Conflict with Libertarian Conservatives
There is also conflict between neoconservatives and libertarian conservatives. Libertarian conservatives are ideologically opposed to government programs and regard neoconservative foreign policy ambitions with outspoken distrust. Rep Ron Paul, a Republican libertarian who holds a Texas district, has spoken out harshly against the Bush Administration's foreign wars on both a fiscal point and as a moral point on non-intervention.

Disagreement with Business Lobby, fiscal conservatives
There has been considerable conflict between neoconservatives and business conservatives in some areas. Neoconservatives tend to see China as a looming threat to the United States and argue for harsh policies to contain that threat. Business conservatives see China as a business opportunity and see a tough policy against China as opposed to their desires for trade. Business conservatives also appear much less distrustful of international institutions. In fact, where China is concerned neoconservatives tend to find themselves more often in agreement with liberal Democrats than with business conservatives. Indeed, Americans for Democratic Action - widely regarded as an "authority" of sorts on liberalism by both the American left and right alike - credit Senators and members of the House of Representatives with casting a "liberal" vote if they oppose legislation that would treat China favourably in the realm of foreign trade and many other matters.

Friction with paleoconservatism
Main article: Neoconservative - Paleoconservative Conflict
Disputes over Israel and public policy contributed to a sharp conflict with "paleoconservatives," starting in the 1980s. The movement's name ("old conservative") was taken as a rebuke to the "neo" side. The "paleocons" view the neoconservatives as "militarist social democrats" and interlopers who deviate from traditional conservatism agenda on issues as diverse as federalism, immigration, foreign policy, the welfare state, and in some cases abortion, feminism and homosexuality. All of this leads to a debate over what counts as conservatism.[citation needed]
The paleoconservatives argue that neoconservatives (and Straussians) are an illegitimate addition to the conservative movement. Pat Buchanan calls neoconservatism "a globalist, interventionist, open borders ideology."[20] The open rift is often traced back to a 1981 dispute over Ronald Reagan's nomination of Mel Bradford, a Southerner, to run the National Endowment for the Humanities. Bradford withdrew after neoconservatives complained that he had criticized Abraham Lincoln; the paleoconservatives supported Bradford.
Besides Buchanan and Bradford, the most prominent paleoconservatives include Paul Craig Roberts, Paul Gottfried, Thomas Fleming, Chilton Williamson, Joseph Sobran, and Clyde N. Wilson. The two leading paleoconservative publications are Chronicles and The American Conservative, which Buchanan helped create. In addition, paleolibertarianism is a parallel movement that stresses free market economics;

Neoconservatism, American Jews, and "Dual Loyalty"
Some opponents of neoconservatives have sought to emphasize their interest in Israel and the relatively large proportion of Jewish neoconservatives, and have raised the question of "dual loyalty". A number of critics, such as Pat Buchanan, Juan Cole, and Kathleen and Bill Christison have accused them of putting Israeli interests above those of America[21]. In turn these critics have been labeled as anti-Semites by prominent Jewish organizations.[22]
David Duke and some other white nationalists attack neoconservatism as advancing Jewish interests. They say a "Jewish supremacist" movement exists in the United States[23]. Similarly, during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the politically left-wing magazine AdBusters published a list of the "50 most influential neocons in the United States", noting that half of these were Jewish,[24] and insinuating that the preponderance of Jews in neoconservatism leads them to "not distinguish enough between American and Israeli interests". The article asks "For example, whose interests were they protecting in pushing for war in Iraq?", and ends with the statement "And half of the them are Jewish."
Political commentators like those in the AdBusters article state that their criticism is not aimed towards the political views of American Jewry as a whole, but rather that the commentary is specifically about neoconservative Jews and their apparent success in steering American Mideast policy in a pro-Israeli direction (at times to the detriment of American interests) [25] [26].
Neoconservatives say that they were much less interested in Israel before the June 1967 Six Day War. It was only after this conflict, which raised the specter of unopposed Soviet influence in the Middle East, that the neoconservatives became interested in Israel's security interests. They promote the view that Israel is the United States' strongest ally in the Middle East as the sole Western-style democracy in the region, aside from Turkey.
Commenting on the alleged overtones of this view in more mainstream discourse, David Brooks, in his January 6, 2004 New York Times column wrote, "To hear these people describe it, PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles". In a similar vein, Michael Lind, a self-described 'former neoconservative,' wrote in 2004, "It is true, and unfortunate, that some journalists tend to use 'neoconservative' to refer only to Jewish neoconservatives, a practice that forces them to invent categories like nationalist conservative or Western conservative for Rumsfeld and Cheney. But neoconservatism is an ideology, like paleoconservatism and libertarianism, and Rumsfeld and Dick and Lynne Cheney are full-fledged neocons, as distinct from paleocons or libertarians, even though they are not Jewish and were never liberals or leftists."[11]
Lind argues that, while "there were, and are, very few Northeastern WASP mandarins in the neoconservative movement", its origins are not specifically Jewish. "...[N]eoconservatism recruited from diverse 'farm teams' including Roman Catholics (William Bennett and Michael Novak) and populists, socialists and New Deal liberals in the South and Southwest (the pool from which Jeane Kirkpatrick, James Woolsey and I [that is, Lind himself] were drawn)".[11]

Related publications and institutions

American Enterprise Institute
Bradley Foundation
Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Henry Jackson Society
Hudson Institute
Project for the New American Century

Weekly Standard
Political magazines featuring neoconservative ideas:
Front Page Magazine
The National Interest
National Review
Policy Review
The Public Interest

Attack of the Trotsky-cons!

by Justin Raimondo (at Chronicles Magazine)

Murray N. Rothbard must have seen the post-September 11 era in a dream to be able to sum it up as well as he did in his 1992 inaugural address to the John Randolph Club:"Social democracy is still here in all its variants, defining our entire respectable political spectrum, from advanced victimology and feminism on the left over to neoconservatism on the right. We are now trapped, in America, inside a Menshevik fantasy, with the narrow bounds of respectable debate set for us by various brands of Marxists. It is now our task, the task of the resurgent right, of the paleo movement, to break those bonds, to finish the job, to finish off Marxism forever."Rothbard foresaw our current predicament: We are trapped inside a Menshevik fantasy, a nightmare world of perpetual war and growing government power.In a review of Eric Hobsbawm’s memoirs, Christopher Hitchens remarked that Tony Blair is “at once the most radical and the most conservative of politicians. Very many of Blair’s tough young acolytes received their political baptism in what I try to call the Marxist Right.”This ideological category—the Marxist right—is quite useful. It explains not only the policies that plunder our purses and wreak havoc on the world but the distinctly Soviet style of our rulers and their Amen Corner, as they demonize their enemies and seek to silence them.Many of the top chieftains of the War Party are ex-leftists of one sort or another. They owe more to Hegel, Marx, and Leon Trotsky than to Russell Kirk, Friedrich Hayek, and Ludwig von Mises. The “godfather” of the neoconservative movement, Irving Kristol, was a Trotskyite in his youth, and the kibitzing that went on in Cubicle B at City College of New York has achieved the status of legend. The official line, of course, is that this was all just a youthful indiscretion and that any such allegiances have long since been put away in a trunk somewhere. The reality, however, is quite different.The collaboration between social democrats of the Blairite variety and the official conservative movement represented by National Review has been going on since the Reagan years. By that time, a group of ex-Trotskyites associated with Max Shachtman—Trotsky’s former chief American lieutenant—had wormed its way into the good graces of the American labor movement and into the office of Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, whose fulsome support for an interventionist foreign policy won the heart of the fanatically anti-Soviet Shachtman.Shachtman supported the Vietnam War and the Bay of Pigs Invasion yet still kept his devotion to socialism intact. He took over the old Socialist Party apparatus in the late 1950’s and changed its name to Social Democrats, USA. In this incarnation, the group had an influence well beyond its small numbers—not on the left, which was going in a different direction, but on the American right. During the Reagan era, a number of top Social Democrat leaders and activists were given key niches in the government bureaucracy, including Jeane Kirkpatrick, the U.S. delegate to the United Nations; Elliott Abrams, a former staffer for Senator Jackson, a major figure in the Iran-Contra affair, and assistant secretary of state for Inter-American Affairs under Reagan; Carl Gershman, the first president of the National Endowment for Democracy; and Arch Puddington, who worked for the U.S. Information Agency’s Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.National Review celebrated May Day 2002 by publishing a report by Joshua Muravchik on a kind of family reunion sponsored by SDUSA in Washington:"among those sponsoring or joining the evening’s festivities—funded mainly by the estate of the widow of Trotskyist icon Max Shachtman—were, on the right, Jeane Kirkpatrick, former Christian Coalition spokesman Marshall Wittmann, [and] former Secretary of Labor nominee Linda Chavez."Muravchik, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former national chairman of the Young Peoples Socialist League—the Shachtmanite youth group—was also in attendance.This penetration of the conservative movement by ideologically alien intruders extended into the ranks. Some years ago, a private discussion club for conservative writers and activists in the San Francisco Bay Area met at the Union Club. Participants included Bill Rusher, former publisher of National Review; San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders; Stephen Schwartz; and myself. The young man who organized the meetings told me how he had been recruited into the SDUSA, and then into the conservative movement, because the Social Democrats had come to his campus in support of Poland’s Solidarity movement. He described going to their meetings and feeling “weird” when they opened and closed the proceedings by singing the “Internationale.” He explained that it was “only a tradition,” but, when he said it, he did not seem so sure.We are now seeing the implementation of a long-standing neoconservative ambition: the imposition of a world order—in effect, an American Empire, with Washington, D.C., at its center. The infiltration and co-opting of the conservative movement by the Marxist right and its transformation into an instrument of an ideology that is statist, globalist, and militantly expansionist was the first step on the road to empire. Once the Marxist right had seized control of the think tanks, magazines, and activist organizations of the American right, they moved to exert control over the Republican Party.Both the ideology and the methods of the Marxist left have been imported into the conservative movement. Ideologically, the so-called third-camp socialism of Shachtman and his followers has been transmuted into the worship of “Democracy” as the be-all and end-all of human development. The neocons have simply stood the old Trotskyism on its head and said that the American system—like the old Soviet system—cannot stand alone and isolated but must spread itself over the earth or face defeat at the hands of its enemies.The ideological framework of neoconservative ideology is deeply rooted in the Marxist tradition. Francis Fukuyama, the boy wonder of the neocons, even came up with an application of the Hegelian dialectic as the ultimate rationale for American global hegemony in his famous article on “The End of History.” The Marxists, too, saw themselves as agents of History, and they constantly evoked images of modernity to justify their innumerable crimes against humanity. They came as “liberators”—a favorite word of Red Army propagandists, and one that our own Pentagon has since taken up with alacrity.The neocons retain the methods as well as the ideology of the left: party-line politics, periodic purges, and the nasty habit of smearing their opponents rather than engaging them in debate. The neocon method echoes that of its leftist progenitors: Once the party line is established—Israel must be unconditionally defended, Iraq must be utterly destroyed, Pat Buchanan must be smeared into silence—anyone who deviates is demonized.In an interview with Stephen Schwartz in Canada’s National Post, Jeet Heer showed just how deeply the Marxist right has burrowed into the Bush administration:
To this day, Schwartz speaks of Trotsky affectionately as “the old man” and “L.D.” . . . “To a great extent, I still consider myself to be [one of the] disciples of L.D.,” he admits, and he observes that in certain Washington circles, the ghost of Trotsky still hovers around. At a party in February celebrating a new book about Iraq, Schwartz exchanged banter with Wolfowitz about Trotsky, the Moscow Trials and Max Shachtman. “I’ve talked to Wolfowitz about all of this,” Schwartz notes. “We had this discussion about Shachtman. He knows all that stuff, but was never part of it. He’s definitely aware.”
“Ideology is political fanaticism, an endeavor to rule the world by rigorous abstract dogmata,” said Russell Kirk in a 1991 Heritage Foundation lecture. “The dogmata of an abstract ‘democratic capitalism’ may be as mischievous as the dogmata of Marx.” I would add only that these two “rival” dogmas are as intimately related as are the offspring of the same parents.“The yoking together of Paul Wolf-owitz and Leon Trotsky sounds odd,” writes Heer, “but a long and tortuous history explains the link between the Bolshevik left and the Republican right.”Defending his remarks in the National Post, Schwartz proudly proclaimed his Trotskyite heritage on National Review Online and even coined a term for this growing grouplet: Trotsky-cons!The Bolsheviks of the left were eventually defeated, but it took half a century to do it. If we face another 50 years of struggle against the Bolsheviks of the right—well, then, so be it. As George W. Bush said in quite another context: “Bring it on!”

We've Been Neo-Conned

by Ron Paul

Ron Paul in the US House of Representatives, July 10, 2003
The modern-day, limited-government movement has been co-opted. The conservatives have failed in their effort to shrink the size of government. There has not been, nor will there soon be, a conservative revolution in Washington. Political party control of the federal government has changed, but the inexorable growth in the size and scope of government has continued unabated. The liberal arguments for limited government in personal affairs and foreign military adventurism were never seriously considered as part of this revolution.
Since the change of the political party in charge has not made a difference, who’s really in charge? If the particular party in power makes little difference, whose policy is it that permits expanded government programs, increased spending, huge deficits, nation building and the pervasive invasion of our privacy, with fewer Fourth Amendment protections than ever before?
Someone is responsible, and it’s important that those of us who love liberty, and resent big-brother government, identify the philosophic supporters who have the most to say about the direction our country is going. If they’re wrong – and I believe they are – we need to show it, alert the American people, and offer a more positive approach to government. However, this depends on whether the American people desire to live in a free society and reject the dangerous notion that we need a strong central government to take care of us from the cradle to the grave. Do the American people really believe it’s the government’s responsibility to make us morally better and economically equal? Do we have a responsibility to police the world, while imposing our vision of good government on everyone else in the world with some form of utopian nation building? If not, and the enemies of liberty are exposed and rejected, then it behooves us to present an alternative philosophy that is morally superior and economically sound and provides a guide to world affairs to enhance peace and commerce.
One thing is certain: conservatives who worked and voted for less government in the Reagan years and welcomed the takeover of the U.S. Congress and the presidency in the 1990s and early 2000s were deceived. Soon they will realize that the goal of limited government has been dashed and that their views no longer matter.
The so-called conservative revolution of the past two decades has given us massive growth in government size, spending and regulations. Deficits are exploding and the national debt is now rising at greater than a half-trillion dollars per year. Taxes do not go down – even if we vote to lower them. They can’t, as long as spending is increased, since all spending must be paid for one way or another. Both Presidents Reagan and the elder George Bush raised taxes directly. With this administration, so far, direct taxes have been reduced – and they certainly should have been – but it means little if spending increases and deficits rise.
When taxes are not raised to accommodate higher spending, the bills must be paid by either borrowing or “printing” new money. This is one reason why we conveniently have a generous Federal Reserve chairman who is willing to accommodate the Congress. With borrowing and inflating, the “tax” is delayed and distributed in a way that makes it difficult for those paying the tax to identify it. For instance, future generations, or those on fixed incomes who suffer from rising prices, and those who lose jobs – they certainly feel the consequences of economic dislocations that this process causes. Government spending is always a “tax” burden on the American people and is never equally or fairly distributed. The poor and low-middle income workers always suffer the most from the deceitful tax of inflation and borrowing.
Many present-day conservatives, who generally argue for less government and supported the Reagan/Gingrich/Bush takeover of the federal government, are now justifiably disillusioned. Although not a monolithic group, they wanted to shrink the size of government.
Early in our history, the advocates of limited, constitutional government recognized two important principles: the rule of law was crucial, and a constitutional government must derive “just powers from the consent of the governed.” It was understood that an explicit transfer of power to government could only occur with power rightfully and naturally endowed to each individual as a God-given right. Therefore, the powers that could be transferred would be limited to the purpose of protecting liberty. Unfortunately, in the last 100 years, the defense of liberty has been fragmented and shared by various groups, with some protecting civil liberties, others economic freedom, and a small diverse group arguing for a foreign policy of nonintervention.
The philosophy of freedom has had a tough go of it, and it was hoped that the renewed interest in limited government of the past two decades would revive an interest in reconstituting the freedom philosophy into something more consistent. Those who worked for the goal of limited government power believed the rhetoric of politicians who promised smaller government. Sometimes it was just plain sloppy thinking on their part, but at other times, they fell victim to a deliberate distortion of a concise limited-government philosophy by politicians who misled many into believing that we would see a rollback on government intrusiveness.
Yes, there was always a remnant who longed for truly limited government and maintained a belief in the rule of law, combined with a deep conviction that free people and a government bound by a Constitution were the most advantageous form of government. They recognized it as the only practical way for prosperity to be spread to the maximum number of people while promoting peace and security.
That remnant – imperfect as it may have been – was heard from in the elections of 1980 and 1994 and then achieved major victories in 2000 and 2002 when professed limited-government proponents took over the administration, the Senate and the House. However, the true believers in limited government are now shunned and laughed at. At the very least, they are ignored – except when they are used by the new leaders of the right, the new conservatives now in charge of the U.S. government.
The remnant’s instincts were correct, and the politicians placated them with talk of free markets, limited government, and a humble, non-nation-building foreign policy. However, little concern for civil liberties was expressed in this recent quest for less government. Yet, for an ultimate victory of achieving freedom, this must change. Interest in personal privacy and choices has generally remained outside the concern of many conservatives – especially with the great harm done by their support of the drug war. Even though some confusion has emerged over our foreign policy since the breakdown of the Soviet empire, it’s been a net benefit in getting some conservatives back on track with a less militaristic, interventionist foreign policy. Unfortunately, after 9-ll, the cause of liberty suffered a setback. As a result, millions of Americans voted for the less-than-perfect conservative revolution because they believed in the promises of the politicians.
Now there’s mounting evidence to indicate exactly what happened to the revolution. Government is bigger than ever, and future commitments are overwhelming. Millions will soon become disenchanted with the new status quo delivered to the American people by the advocates of limited government and will find it to be just more of the old status quo. Victories for limited government have turned out to be hollow indeed.
Since the national debt is increasing at a rate greater than a half-trillion dollars per year, the debt limit was recently increased by an astounding $984 billion dollars. Total U.S. government obligations are $43 trillion, while total net worth of U.S. households is just over $40 trillion. The country is broke, but no one in Washington seems to notice or care. The philosophic and political commitment for both guns and butter – and especially for expanding the American empire – must be challenged. This is crucial for our survival.
In spite of the floundering economy, the Congress and the administration continue to take on new commitments in foreign aid, education, farming, medicine, multiple efforts at nation building, and preemptive wars around the world. Already we’re entrenched in Iraq and Afghanistan, with plans to soon add new trophies to our conquest. War talk abounds as to when Syria, Iran and North Korea will be attacked.
How did all this transpire? Why did the government do it? Why haven’t the people objected? How long will it go on before something is done? Does anyone care?
Will the euphoria of grand military victories – against non-enemies – ever be mellowed? Someday, we as a legislative body must face the reality of the dire situation in which we have allowed ourselves to become enmeshed. Hopefully, it will be soon!
We got here because ideas do have consequences. Bad ideas have bad consequences, and even the best of intentions have unintended consequences. We need to know exactly what the philosophic ideas were that drove us to this point; then, hopefully, reject them and decide on another set of intellectual parameters.
There is abundant evidence exposing those who drive our foreign policy justifying preemptive war. Those who scheme are proud of the achievements in usurping control over foreign policy. These are the neoconservatives of recent fame. Granted, they are talented and achieved a political victory that all policymakers must admire. But can freedom and the Republic survive this takeover? That question should concern us.
Neoconservatives are obviously in positions of influence and are well-placed throughout our government and the media. An apathetic Congress put up little resistance and abdicated its responsibilities over foreign affairs. The electorate was easily influenced to join in the patriotic fervor supporting the military adventurism advocated by the neoconservatives.
The numbers of those who still hope for truly limited government diminished and had their concerns ignored these past 22 months, during the aftermath of 9-11. Members of Congress were easily influenced to publicly support any domestic policy or foreign military adventure that was supposed to help reduce the threat of a terrorist attack. Believers in limited government were harder to find. Political money, as usual, played a role in pressing Congress into supporting almost any proposal suggested by the neocons. This process – where campaign dollars and lobbying efforts affect policy – is hardly the domain of any single political party, and unfortunately, is the way of life in Washington.
There are many reasons why government continues to grow. It would be naïve for anyone to expect otherwise. Since 9-11, protection of privacy, whether medical, personal or financial, has vanished. Free speech and the Fourth Amendment have been under constant attack. Higher welfare expenditures are endorsed by the leadership of both parties. Policing the world and nation-building issues are popular campaign targets, yet they are now standard operating procedures. There’s no sign that these programs will be slowed or reversed until either we are stopped by force overseas (which won’t be soon) or we go broke and can no longer afford these grandiose plans for a world empire (which will probably come sooner than later.)
None of this happened by accident or coincidence. Precise philosophic ideas prompted certain individuals to gain influence to implement these plans. The neoconservatives – a name they gave themselves – diligently worked their way into positions of power and influence. They documented their goals, strategy and moral justification for all they hoped to accomplish. Above all else, they were not and are not conservatives dedicated to limited, constitutional government.
Neo-conservatism has been around for decades and, strangely, has connections to past generations as far back as Machiavelli. Modern-day neo-conservatism was introduced to us in the 1960s. It entails both a detailed strategy as well as a philosophy of government. The ideas of Teddy Roosevelt, and certainly Woodrow Wilson, were quite similar to many of the views of present-day neocons. Neocon spokesman Max Boot brags that what he advocates is “hard Wilsonianism.” In many ways, there’s nothing “neo” about their views, and certainly nothing conservative. Yet they have been able to co-op the conservative movement by advertising themselves as a new or modern form of conservatism.
More recently, the modern-day neocons have come from the far left, a group historically identified as former Trotskyists. Liberal Christopher Hitchins, has recently officially joined the neocons, and it has been reported that he has already been to the White House as an ad hoc consultant. Many neocons now in positions of influence in Washington can trace their status back to Professor Leo Strauss of the University of Chicago. One of Strauss’ books was Thoughts on Machiavelli. This book was not a condemnation of Machiavelli’s philosophy. Paul Wolfowitz actually got his PhD under Strauss. Others closely associated with these views are Richard Perle, Eliot Abrams, Robert Kagan and William Kristol. All are key players in designing our new strategy of preemptive war. Others include: Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute; former CIA Director James Woolsy; Bill Bennett of Book of Virtues fame; Frank Gaffney; Dick Cheney; and Donald Rumsfeld. There are just too many to mention who are philosophically or politically connected to the neocon philosophy in some varying degree.
The godfather of modern-day neo-conservatism is considered to be Irving Kristol, father of Bill Kristol, who set the stage in 1983 with his publication Reflections of a Neoconservative. In this book, Kristol also defends the traditional liberal position on welfare.
More important than the names of people affiliated with neo-conservatism are the views they adhere to. Here is a brief summary of the general understanding of what neocons believe:
They agree with Trotsky on permanent revolution, violent as well as intellectual.
They are for redrawing the map of the Middle East and are willing to use force to do so.
They believe in preemptive war to achieve desired ends.
They accept the notion that the ends justify the means – that hard-ball politics is a moral necessity.
They express no opposition to the welfare state.
They are not bashful about an American empire; instead they strongly endorse it.
They believe lying is necessary for the state to survive.
They believe a powerful federal government is a benefit.
They believe pertinent facts about how a society should be run should be held by the elite andwithheld from those who do not have the courage to deal with it.
They believe neutrality in foreign affairs is ill-advised.
They hold Leo Strauss in high esteem.
They believe imperialism, if progressive in nature, is appropriate.
Using American might to force American ideals on others is acceptable. Force shouldnot be limited to the defense of our country.
9-11 resulted from the lack of foreign entanglements, not from too many.
They dislike and despise libertarians (therefore, the same applies to all strict constitutionalists.)
They endorse attacks on civil liberties, such as those found in the Patriot Act, as being necessary.
They unconditionally support Israel and have a close alliance with the Likud Party.
Various organizations and publications over the last 30 years have played a significant role in the rise to power of the neoconservatives. It took plenty of money and commitment to produce the intellectual arguments needed to convince the many participants in the movement of its respectability.
It is no secret – especially after the rash of research and articles written about the neocons since our invasion of Iraq – how they gained influence and what organizations were used to promote their cause. Although for decades, they agitated for their beliefs through publications like The National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Public Interest, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and the New York Post, their views only gained momentum in the 1990s following the first Persian Gulf War – which still has not ended even with removal of Saddam Hussein. They became convinced that a much more militant approach to resolving all the conflicts in the Middle East was an absolute necessity, and they were determined to implement that policy.
In addition to publications, multiple think tanks and projects were created to promote their agenda. A product of the Bradley Foundation, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) led the neocon charge, but the real push for war came from the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) another organization helped by the Bradley Foundation. This occurred in 1998 and was chaired by Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. Early on, they urged war against Iraq, but were disappointed with the Clinton administration, which never followed through with its periodic bombings. Obviously, these bombings were motivated more by Clinton’s personal and political problems than a belief in the neocon agenda.
The election of 2000 changed all that. The Defense Policy Board, chaired by Richard Perle played no small role in coordinating the various projects and think tanks, all determined to take us into war against Iraq. It wasn’t too long before the dream of empire was brought closer to reality by the election of 2000 with Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld playing key roles in this accomplishment. The plan to promote an “American greatness” imperialistic foreign policy was now a distinct possibility. Iraq offered a great opportunity to prove their long-held theories. This opportunity was a consequence of the 9-11 disaster.
The money and views of Rupert Murdock also played a key role in promoting the neocon views, as well as rallying support by the general population, through his News Corporation, which owns Fox News Network, the New York Post and Weekly Standard. This powerful and influential media empire did more to galvanize public support for the Iraqi invasion than one might imagine. This facilitated the Rumsfeld/Cheney policy as their plans to attack Iraq came to fruition. It would have been difficult for the neocons to usurp foreign policy from the restraints of Colin Powell’s State Department without the successful agitation of the Rupert Murdock empire. Max Boot was satisfied, as he explained: “Neoconservatives believe in using American might to promote American ideals abroad.” This attitude is a far cry from the advice of the Founders, who advocated no entangling alliances and neutrality as the proper goal of American foreign policy.
Let there be no doubt, those in the neocon camp had been anxious to go to war against Iraq for a decade. They justified the use of force to accomplish their goals, even if it required preemptive war. If anyone doubts this assertion, they need only to read of their strategy in “A Clean Break: a New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” Although they felt morally justified in changing the government in Iraq, they knew that public support was important, and justification had to be given to pursue the war. Of course, a threat to us had to exist before the people and the Congress would go along with war. The majority of Americans became convinced of this threat, which, in actuality, never really existed. Now we have the ongoing debate over the location of weapons of mass destruction. Where was the danger? Was all this killing and spending necessary? How long will this nation-building and dying go on? When will we become more concerned about the needs of our own citizens than the problems we sought in Iraq and Afghanistan? Who knows where we’ll go next – Iran, Syria or North Korea?
At the end of the Cold War, the neoconservatives realized a rearrangement of the world was occurring and that our superior economic and military power offered them a perfect opportunity to control the process of remaking the Middle East.
It was recognized that a new era was upon us, and the neocons welcomed Frances Fukuyama’s “end of history” declaration. To them, the debate was over. The West won; the Soviets lost. Old-fashioned communism was dead. Long live the new era of neoconservatism. The struggle may not be over, but the West won the intellectual fight, they reasoned. The only problem is that the neocons decided to define the philosophy of the victors. They have been amazingly successful in their efforts to control the debate over what Western values are and by what methods they will be spread throughout the world.
Communism surely lost a lot with the breakup of the Soviet Empire, but this can hardly be declared a victory for American liberty, as the Founders understood it. Neoconservatism is not the philosophy of free markets and a wise foreign policy. Instead, it represents big-government welfare at home and a program of using our military might to spread their version of American values throughout the world. Since neoconservatives dominate the way the U.S. government now operates, it behooves us all to understand their beliefs and goals. The breakup of the Soviet system may well have been an epic event but to say that the views of the neocons are the unchallenged victors and that all we need do is wait for their implementation is a capitulation to controlling the forces of history that many Americans are not yet ready to concede. There is surely no need to do so.
There is now a recognized philosophic connection between modern-day neoconservatives and Irving Kristol, Leo Strauss and Machiavelli. This is important in understanding that today’s policies and the subsequent problems will be with us for years to come if these policies are not reversed.
Not only did Leo Strauss write favorably of Machiavelli, Michael Ledeen, a current leader of the neoconservative movement, did the same. In 1999, Ledeen titled his book, Machiavelli on Modern Leadership, and subtitled: Why Machiaveli’s iron rules are as timely and important today as five centuries ago. Ledeen is indeed an influential neocon theorist whose views get lots of attention today in Washington. His book on Machiavelli, interestingly enough, was passed out to Members of Congress attending a political strategy meeting shortly after its publication and at just about the time A Clean Break was issued.
In Ledeen’s most recent publication, The War Against the Terror Masters, he reiterates his beliefs outlined in this 1999 Machaivelli book. He specifically praises: “Creative destruction…both within our own society and abroad…(foreigners) seeing America undo traditional societies may fear us, for they do not wish to be undone.” Amazingly, Ledeen concludes: “They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission.”
If those words don’t scare you, nothing will. If they are not a clear warning, I don’t know what could be. It sounds like both sides of each disagreement in the world will be following the principle of preemptive war. The world is certainly a less safe place for it.
In Machiavelli on Modern Leadership, Ledeen praises a business leader for correctly understanding Machiavelli: “There are no absolute solutions. It all depends. What is right and what is wrong depends on what needs to be done and how.” This is a clear endorsement of situation ethics and is not coming from the traditional left. It reminds me of: “It depends on what the definition of the word ‘is’ is.”
Ledeen quotes Machiavelli approvingly on what makes a great leader. “A prince must have no other objectives or other thoughts or take anything for his craft, except war.” To Ledeen, this meant: “…the virtue of the warrior are those of great leaders of any successful organization.” Yet it’s obvious that war is not coincidental to neocon philosophy, but an integral part. The intellectuals justify it, and the politicians carry it out. There’s a precise reason to argue for war over peace according to Ledeen, for “…peace increases our peril by making discipline less urgent, encouraging some of our worst instincts, in depriving us of some of our best leaders.” Peace, he claims, is a dream and not even a pleasant one, for it would cause indolence and would undermine the power of the state. Although I concede the history of the world is a history of frequent war, to capitulate and give up even striving for peace – believing peace is not a benefit to mankind – is a frightening thought that condemns the world to perpetual war and justifies it as a benefit and necessity. These are dangerous ideas, from which no good can come.
The conflict of the ages has been between the state and the individual: central power versus liberty. The more restrained the state and the more emphasis on individual liberty, the greater has been the advancement of civilization and general prosperity. Just as man’s condition was not locked in place by the times and wars of old and improved with liberty and free markets, there’s no reason to believe a new stage for man might not be achieved by believing and working for conditions of peace. The inevitability and so-called need for preemptive war should never be intellectually justified as being a benefit. Such an attitude guarantees the backsliding of civilization. Neocons, unfortunately, claim that war is in man’s nature and that we can’t do much about it, so let’s use it to our advantage by promoting our goodness around the world through force of arms. That view is anathema to the cause of liberty and the preservation of the Constitution. If it is not loudly refuted, our future will be dire indeed.
Ledeen believes man is basically evil and cannot be left to his own desires. Therefore, he must have proper and strong leadership, just as Machiavelli argued. Only then can man achieve good, as Ledeen explains: “In order to achieve the most noble accomplishments, the leader may have to ‘enter into evil.’ This is the chilling insight that has made Machiavelli so feared, admired and challenging…we are rotten,” argues Ledeen. “It’s true that we can achieve greatness if, and only if, we are properly led.” In other words, man is so depraved that individuals are incapable of moral, ethical and spiritual greatness, and achieving excellence and virtue can only come from a powerful authoritarian leader. What depraved ideas are these to now be influencing our leaders in Washington? The question Ledeen doesn’t answer is: “Why do the political leaders not suffer from the same shortcomings and where do they obtain their monopoly on wisdom?”
Once this trust is placed in the hands of a powerful leader, this neocon argues that certain tools are permissible to use. For instance: “lying is central to the survival of nations and to the success of great enterprises, because if our enemies can count on the reliability of everything you say, your vulnerability is enormously increased.” What about the effects of lying on one’s own people? Who cares if a leader can fool the enemy? Does calling it “strategic deception” make lying morally justifiable? Ledeen and Machiavelli argue that it does, as long as the survivability of the state is at stake. Preserving the state is their goal, even if the personal liberty of all individuals has to be suspended or canceled.
Ledeen makes it clear that war is necessary to establish national boundaries – because that’s the way it’s always been done. Who needs progress of the human race! He explains: “Look at the map of the world: national boundaries have not been drawn by peaceful men leading lives of spiritual contemplation. National boundaries have been established by war, and national character has been shaped by struggle, most often bloody struggle.”
Yes, but who is to lead the charge and decide which borders we are to fight for? What about borders 6,000 miles away unrelated to our own contiguous borders and our own national security? Stating a relative truism regarding the frequency of war throughout history should hardly be the moral justification for expanding the concept of war to settle man’s disputes. How can one call this progress?
Machiavelli, Ledeen and the neocons recognized a need to generate a religious zeal for promoting the state. This, he claims, is especially necessary when force is used to promote an agenda. It’s been true throughout history and remains true today, each side of major conflicts invokes God’s approval. Our side refers to a “crusade;” theirs to a “holy Jihad.” Too often wars boil down to their god against our God. It seems this principle is more a cynical effort to gain approval from the masses, especially those most likely to be killed for the sake of the war promoters on both sides who have power, prestige and wealth at stake.
Ledeen explains why God must always be on the side of advocates of war: “Without fear of God, no state can last long, for the dread of eternal damnation keeps men in line, causes them to honor their promises, and inspires them to risk their lives for the common good.” It seems dying for the common good has gained a higher moral status than eternal salvation of one’s soul. Ledeen adds: “Without fear of punishment, men will not obey laws that force them to act contrary to their passions. Without fear of arms, the state cannot enforce the laws…to this end, Machiavelli wants leaders to make the state spectacular.”
It's of interest to note that some large Christian denominations have joined the neoconservatives in promoting preemptive war, while completely ignoring the Christian doctrine of a Just War. The neocons sought and openly welcomed their support.
I’d like someone to glean anything from what the Founders said or placed in the Constitution that agrees with this now-professed doctrine of a “spectacular” state promoted by those who now have so much influence on our policies here at home and abroad. Ledeen argues that this religious element, this fear of God, is needed for discipline of those who may be hesitant to sacrifice their lives for the good of the “spectacular state.”
He explains in eerie terms: “Dying for one’s country doesn’t come naturally. Modern armies, raised from the populace, must be inspired, motivated, indoctrinated. Religion is central to the military enterprise, for men are more likely to risk their lives if they believe they will be rewarded forever after for serving their country.” This is an admonition that might just as well have been given by Osama bin Laden, in rallying his troops to sacrifice their lives to kill the invading infidels, as by our intellectuals at AEI, who greatly influence our foreign policy.
Neocons – anxious for the U.S. to use force to realign the boundaries and change regimes in the Middle East – clearly understand the benefit of a galvanizing and emotional event to rally the people to their cause. Without a special event, they realized the difficulty in selling their policy of preemptive war where our own military personnel would be killed. Whether it was the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin or the Maine, all served their purpose in promoting a war that was sought by our leaders.
Ledeen writes of a fortuitous event (1999): “…of course, we can always get lucky. Stunning events from outside can providentially awaken the enterprise from its growing torpor, and demonstrate the need for reversal, as the devastating Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 so effectively aroused the U.S. from its soothing dreams of permanent neutrality.”
Amazingly, Ledeen calls Pearl Harbor a “lucky” event. The Project for a New American Century, as recently as September 2000, likewise, foresaw the need for “a Pearl Harbor event” that would galvanize the American people to support their ambitious plans to ensure political and economic domination of the world, while strangling any potential “rival.”
Recognizing a “need” for a Pearl Harbor event, and referring to Pearl Harbor as being “lucky” are not identical to support and knowledge of such an event, but that this sympathy for a galvanizing event, as 9-11 turned out to be, was used to promote an agenda that strict constitutionalists and devotees of the Founders of this nation find appalling, is indeed disturbing. After 9-11, Rumsfeld and others argued for an immediate attack on Iraq, even though it was not implicated in the attacks.
The fact that neo-conservatives ridicule those who firmly believe that U.S. interests and world peace would best be served by a policy of neutrality and avoiding foreign entanglements should not go unchallenged. Not to do so is to condone their grandiose plans for an American world hegemony.
The current attention given neocons usually comes in the context of foreign policy. But there’s more to what’s going on today than just the tremendous influence the neocons have on our new policy of preemptive war with a goal of empire. Our government is now being moved by several ideas that come together in what I call “neoconism.” The foreign policy is being openly debated, even if its implications are not fully understood by many who support it. Washington is now driven by old views brought together in a new package.
We know those who lead us – both in the administration and in Congress – show no appetite to challenge the tax or monetary systems that do so much damage to our economy. The IRS and the Federal Reserve are off limits for criticism or reform. There’s no resistance to spending, either domestic or foreign. Debt is not seen as a problem. The supply-siders won on this issue, and now many conservatives readily endorse deficit spending.
There’s no serious opposition to the expanding welfare state, with rapid growth of the education, agriculture and medical-care bureaucracy. Support for labor unions and protectionism are not uncommon. Civil liberties are easily sacrificed in the post 9-11 atmosphere prevailing in Washington. Privacy issues are of little concern, except for a few members of Congress. Foreign aid and internationalism – in spite of some healthy criticism of the UN and growing concerns for our national sovereignty – are championed on both sides of the aisle. Lip service is given to the free market and free trade, yet the entire economy is run by special-interest legislation favoring big business, big labor and, especially, big money.
Instead of the “end of history,” we are now experiencing the end of a vocal limited-government movement in our nation’s capital. While most conservatives no longer defend balanced budgets and reduced spending, most liberals have grown lazy in defending civil liberties and now are approving wars that we initiate. The so-called “third way” has arrived and, sadly, it has taken the worst of what the conservatives and liberals have to offer. The people are less well off for it, while liberty languishes as a result.
Neocons enthusiastically embrace the Department of Education and national testing. Both parties overwhelmingly support the huge commitment to a new prescription drug program. Their devotion to the new approach called “compassionate conservatism” has lured many conservatives into supporting programs for expanding the federal role in welfare and in church charities. The faith-based initiative is a neocon project, yet it only repackages and expands the liberal notion of welfare. The intellectuals who promoted these initiatives were neocons, but there’s nothing conservative about expanding the federal government’s role in welfare.
The supply-siders’ policy of low-marginal tax rates has been incorporated into neoconism, as well as their support for easy money and generous monetary inflation. Neoconservatives are disinterested in the gold standard and even ignore the supply-siders’ argument for a phony gold standard.
Is it any wonder that federal government spending is growing at a rate faster than in any time in the past 35 years?
Power, politics and privilege prevail over the rule of law, liberty, justice and peace. But it does not need to be that way. Neoconism has brought together many old ideas about how government should rule the people. It may have modernized its appeal and packaging, but authoritarian rule is authoritarian rule, regardless of the humanitarian overtones. A solution can only come after the current ideology driving our government policies is replaced with a more positive one. In a historical context, liberty is a modern idea and must once again regain the high moral ground for civilization to advance. Restating the old justifications for war, people control and a benevolent state will not suffice. It cannot eliminate the shortcomings that always occur when the state assumes authority over others and when the will of one nation is forced on another – whether or not it is done with good intentions.
I realize that all conservatives are not neoconservatives, and all neocons don’t necessarily agree on all points – which means that in spite of their tremendous influence, most members of Congress and those in the administration do not necessarily take their marching orders from AEI or Richard Perle. But to use this as a reason to ignore what neoconservative leaders believe, write about and agitate for – with amazing success I might point out – would be at our own peril. This country still allows open discourse – though less everyday – and we who disagree should push the discussion and expose those who drive our policies. It is getting more difficult to get fair and balanced discussion on the issues, because it has become routine for the hegemons to label those who object to preemptive war and domestic surveillance as traitors, unpatriotic and un-American. The uniformity of support for our current foreign policy by major and cable-news networks should concern every American. We should all be thankful for C-SPAN and the Internet.
Michael Ledeen and other neoconservatives are already lobbying for war against Iran. Ledeen is pretty nasty to those who call for a calmer, reasoned approach by calling those who are not ready for war “cowards and appeasers of tyrants.” Because some urge a less militaristic approach to dealing with Iran, he claims they are betraying America’s best “traditions.” I wonder where he learned early American history! It’s obvious that Ledeen doesn’t consider the Founders and the Constitution part of our best traditions. We were hardly encouraged by the American revolutionaries to pursue an American empire. We were, however, urged to keep the Republic they so painstakingly designed.
If the neoconservatives retain control of the conservative, limited-government movement in Washington, the ideas, once championed by conservatives, of limiting the size and scope of government will be a long-forgotten dream.
The believers in liberty ought not deceive themselves. Who should be satisfied? Certainly not conservatives, for there is no conservative movement left. How could liberals be satisfied? They are pleased with the centralization of education and medical programs in Washington and support many of the administration’s proposals. But none should be pleased with the steady attack on the civil liberties of all American citizens and the now-accepted consensus that preemptive war – for almost any reason – is an acceptable policy for dealing with all the conflicts and problems of the world.
In spite of the deteriorating conditions in Washington – with loss of personal liberty, a weak economy, exploding deficits, and perpetual war, followed by nation building – there are still quite a number of us who would relish the opportunity to improve things, in one way or another. Certainly, a growing number of frustrated Americans, from both the right and the left, are getting anxious to see this Congress do a better job. But first, Congress must stop doing a bad job.
We’re at the point where we need a call to arms, both here in Washington and across the country. I’m not talking about firearms. Those of us who care need to raise both arms and face our palms out and begin waving and shouting: Stop! Enough is enough! It should include liberals, conservatives and independents. We’re all getting a bum rap from politicians who are pushed by polls and controlled by special-interest money.
One thing is certain, no matter how morally justified the programs and policies seem, the ability to finance all the guns and butter being promised is limited, and those limits are becoming more apparent every day.
Spending, borrowing and printing money cannot be the road to prosperity. It hasn’t worked in Japan, and it isn’t working here either. As a matter of fact, it’s never worked anytime throughout history. A point is always reached where government planning, spending and inflation run out of steam. Instead of these old tools reviving an economy, as they do in the early stages of economic interventionism, they eventually become the problem. Both sides of the political spectrum must one day realize that limitless government intrusion in the economy, in our personal lives and in the affairs of other nations cannot serve the best interests of America. This is not a conservative problem, nor is it a liberal problem – it’s a government intrusion problem that comes from both groups, albeit for different reasons. The problems emanate from both camps who champion different programs for different reasons. The solution will come when both groups realize that it’s not merely a single-party problem, or just a liberal or just a conservative problem.
Once enough of us decide we’ve had enough of all these so-called good things that the government is always promising – or more likely, when the country is broke and the government is unable to fulfill its promises to the people – we can start a serious discussion on the proper role for government in a free society. Unfortunately, it will be some time before Congress gets the message that the people are demanding true reform. This requires that those responsible for today’s problems are exposed and their philosophy of pervasive government intrusion is rejected.
Let it not be said that no one cared, that no one objected once it’s realized that our liberties and wealth are in jeopardy. A few have, and others will continue to do so, but too many – both in and out of government – close their eyes to the issue of personal liberty and ignore the fact that endless borrowing to finance endless demands cannot be sustained. True prosperity can only come from a healthy economy and sound money. That can only be achieved in a free society.
Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

Glaciers Not On Simple Upward Melting Trend

by Noel Sheppard

A report published by Science magazine on February 8 has gotten tremendously little coverage from the mainstream media. Given its findings -- that glacial melt in Greenland dramatically slowed in 2006 -- this certainly isn’t surprising.
So far, the most comprehensive report on this subject was done by YubaNet.com on Tuesday (emphasis mine throughout):
Two of Greenland's largest glaciers shrank dramatically and dumped twice as much ice into the sea during a period of less than a year between 2004 and 2005. And then, less than two years later, they returned to near their previous rates of discharge.
It should now make sense why this report got so little attention. The article continued:
The variability over such a short time, reported online Feb. 9 on Science magazine's Science Express, underlines the problem in assuming that glacial melting and sea level rise will necessarily occur at a steady upward trajectory, according to lead author Ian Howat, a post-doctoral researcher with the University of Washington's Applied Physics Laboratory and the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center. The paper comes a year after a study in the journal Science revealed that discharge from Greenland's glaciers had doubled between 2000 and 2005, leading some scientists to speculate such changes were on a steady, upward climb.
"While the rates of shrinking of these two glaciers have stabilized, we don't know whether they will remain stable, grow or continue to collapse in the near future," Howat says. That's because the glaciers' shape changed greatly, becoming stretched and thinned.
Here’s likely the key finding the media want to keep from Americans:
"Our main point is that the behavior of these glaciers can change a lot from year to year, so we can't assume to know the future behavior from short records of recent changes," he says. "Future warming may lead to rapid pulses of retreat and increased discharge rather than a long, steady drawdown."
In sum, they really don’t know what is going to happen in the future based upon the activity of these glaciers during such a short period of time. Obviously, this is not the case the global warming alarmists are making, especially folks like Al Gore who claims that major population areas around the world are about to be flooded by rising ocean levels due to glacial melt. The article continued:
Getting accurate computer models of Greenland and Antarctic glaciers is important because 99 percent of the Earth's glacial ice is found in those two places. Glacial ice is second only to the oceans as the largest reservoir of water on the planet.
Previous findings published a year ago showed that Greenland's glaciers had doubled their discharge between 2000 and 2005, but these results were based on "snapshots" of discharge taken five years apart, Howat says.
"Did an equal amount of discharge occur every year? Did it happen all in one year? Is there a steady upward trajectory? We didn't know," he says."
They don’t know? But we’re constantly being told by the media that there is a consensus of scientists that do know. Why the contradiction?

Experts question theory on global warming

Hindustan (India) Times

Believe it or not. There are only about a dozen scientists working on 9,575 glaciers in India under the aegis of the Geological Society of India. Is the available data enough to believe that the glaciers are retreating due to global warming?Some experts have questioned the alarmists theory on global warming leading to shrinkage of Himalayan glaciers. VK Raina, a leading glaciologist and former ADG of GSI is one among them.He feels that the research on Indian glaciers is negligible. Nothing but the remote sensing data forms the basis of these alarmists observations and not on the spot research.Raina told the Hindustan Times that out of 9,575 glaciers in India, till date, research has been conducted only on about 50. Nearly 200 years data has shown that nothing abnormal has occurred in any of these glaciers.It is simple. The issue of glacial retreat is being sensationalised by a few individuals, the septuagenarian Raina claimed. Throwing a gauntlet to the alarmist, he said the issue should be debated threadbare before drawing a conclusion.
However, Dr RK Pachouri, Chairman, Inter-Governmental Panel of Climatic Change said it’s recently released fourth assessment report has recorded increased glacier retreat since the 1980s.This he said was due to the fact that the carbon dioxide radioactive forcing has increased by 20 per cent particularly after 1995. And also that 11 of the last 12 years were among the warmest 12 years recorded so far. Surprisingly, Raina, who has been associated with the research and data collection in over 25 glaciers in India and abroad, debunked the theory that Gangotri glacier is retreating alarmingly.Maintaining that the glaciers are undergoing natural changes, witnessed periodically, he said recent studies in the Gangotri and Zanskar areas (Drung- Drung, Kagriz glaciers) have not shown any evidence of major retreat.
"Claims of global warming causing glacial melt in the Himalayas are based on wrong assumptions," Raina, a trained mountaineer and skiing expert said. He rued that not much is being done by the Government to create a bank of trained geologists for an in-depth study of glaciers.The agencies such as the GSI are not getting fresh talent simply because of the measly salaries offered by the Government.
Consider this. During one of his visits to Antarctic, to his utter dismay, Raina discovered that the cook of a Japanese team was getting a bigger pay packet than him.
If he is to be believed, currently only about a dozen scientists are working on Indian glaciers. More alarming is the fact that some of them are above 50. How can one talk about the state of glaciers when not much research is being done on the ground, he wondered.
In fact, it is difficult to ascertain the exact state of Himalayan glaciers as these are very dusty as compared to the ones in Alaska and the Alps. The present presumptions are based on the cosmatic study of the glacier surfaces.Nobody knows what is happening beneath the glaciers. What ever is being flaunted about the under surface activity of the glaciers, is merely presumptions, he claimed.
His views were echoed by Dr RK Ganjoo, Director, Regional Centre for Field Operations and Research on Himalayan Glaciology, who is supervising study of glaciers in Ladakh region including one in the Siachen area. He also maintained that nothing abnormal has been found in any of the Himalyan glaciers studied so far by him.
Still, he wondered on the Himalayan glaciers being compared with those in Alaska or Europe to lend credence to the melt theory. Indian glaciers are at 3,500-4,000 meter above the sea level whereas those in the Alps are at much lower levels. Certainly, the conditions under which the glaciers in Alaska are retreating, are not prevailing in the Indian sub-continent, he explained.
Another leading geologist MN Koul of Jammu University, who is actively engaged in studying glacier dynamics in J&K and Himachal holds similar views. Referring to his research on Kol glacier ( Paddar, J&K) and Naradu (HP), he said both the glaciers have not changed much in the past two decades.

Russians used dead spy's photo as a target

Associated Press

The head of a center that trains security personnel and held a competition for Russian special forces confirmed Tuesday that it has used shooting targets showing the photo of a former agent who was fatally poisoned in London last year.
However, Sergei Lysyuk, head of the Vityaz Center, said he had been unaware that the photo target showed the poisoned ex-agent, Alexander Litvinenko.
"The fact that it was Litvinenko, we only found out later from the press," Lysyuk told The Associated Press. "We did not shoot at Litvinenko, we shot at a target."
Russian media this week published photographs of Sergei Mironov, head of the Russian parliament's upper house, visiting the center in early November. His visit, to present awards in a competition for Interior Ministry special forces, came about a week after Litvinenko fell ill; one photo shows the Litvinenko target in the background.
Lysyuk insisted his company held the contest only as a favor to former Interior Ministry colleagues, whose own training ground was being repaired.
A promotional video by Vityaz circulating on the Internet, which first appeared on the Polish news Web site Dziennik.pl, also shows trainees in camouflage shooting at a Litvinenko target, but Lysyuk said the video was made in 2002 and that the trainees were men about to enter the military.
Litvinenko, once an agent in the Federal Security Service, the Soviet KGB's main successor, fled to Britain and was granted asylum after accusing his superiors in 1998 of ordering him to kill Boris Berezovsky, a Russian tycoon and one-time Kremlin insider who also has been granted British citizenship.
In exile, he became a vocal opponent of President Vladimir Putin and accused him in a deathbed statement of masterminding the poisoning. The Kremlin has vehemently denied any involvement in Litvinenko's death.
Dmitry Peskov, a senior Kremlin spokesman, said using a person's face as a shooting range "was ethically incorrect," but stressed it was that company's responsibility and insisted government troops were not involved in the exercises.

Putin says US-Russia trade pact will aid cooperation

Khaleej Times

HANOI - Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked his US counterpart George W. Bush here Sunday for a trade deal paving the way for Moscow to join the World Trade Organisation, saying it would ease cooperation on other global issues.
He was speaking after meeting Bush at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, where Russia was among 21 members who issued a joint statement voicing ‘strong concern’ about North Korea’s nuclear bomb test.
The Russian president said reaching the trade pact essential for Moscow’s admission to WTO membership ‘would not have been possible without the political will of the US president.’
‘I agree with George that this creates a favourable background for all our activities, including solving complicated international problems,’ said Putin.
‘It also creates conditions for broadening trade relations.’
After their meeting, Bush said: ‘Our dialogue was important. We talked about common issues, how we’re going to solve important problems, including North Korea and Iran.’
On the trade pact, Bush said that ‘this agreement was really good for us, for the United States and Russia. I congratulate you on your hard work.

Harper's letter dismisses Kyoto as 'socialist scheme'

CBC News Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper once called the Kyoto accord a "socialist scheme" designed to suck money out of rich countries, according to a letter leaked Tuesday by the Liberals.
The letter, posted on the federal Liberal party website, was apparently written by Harper in 2002, when he was leader of the now-defunct Canadian Alliance party.
He was writing to party supporters, asking for money as he prepared to fight then-prime minister Jean Chrétien on the proposed Kyoto accord.
"We're gearing up now for the biggest struggle our party has faced since you entrusted me with the leadership," Harper's letter says.
"I'm talking about the 'battle of Kyoto' — our campaign to block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto accord."
The accord is an international environmental pact that sets targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Canada officially ratified the accord Dec. 17, 2002, under Chrétien's Liberal government. Harper's Conservative government, which took power January 2006, has since been accused of ignoring the accord.
Harper's letter goes on to outline why he's against the agreement.
Accord based on 'contradictory' data: Harper
He writes that it's based on "tentative and contradictory scientific evidence" and it focuses on carbon dioxide, which is "essential to life."
He says Kyoto requires that Canada make significant cuts in emissions, while countries like Russia, India and China face less of a burden.
Under Kyoto, Canada was required to reduce emissions by six per cent by 2012, while economies in transition, like Russia, were allowed to choose different base years. As developing nations, China and India were exempted from binding targets for the first round of reductions.
"Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations," Harper's letter reads.
He said the accord would cripple the oil and gas industries, which are essential to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
He wrote in the letter that he would do everything he could to stop Chrétien from passing the Kyoto agreement.
"We will do everything we can to stop him there, but he might get it passed with the help of the socialists in the NDP and the separatists in the BQ [Bloc Québécois]."
The Prime Minister's Office refused to comment about the letter on the record.
In recent weeks, Harper has spoken strongly about the environment, saying he will dramatically revamp his minority government's much-criticized clean air act.
His comments come as public-opinion polls indicate the environment has become the number one issue among Canadians.
Liberal MP Mark Holland told the Canadian Press on Tuesday that the leaked letter shows that Harper isn't actually committed to climate change.
"Now, suddenly, because he has seen the polls and realized the political opportunism of going green, the prime minister has launched a new campaign — that of trying to convince Canadians that he actually cares about the environment," Holland said.
"But no one is buying it."
When the Kyoto Protocol went into effect Feb. 16, 2005, 141 countries had ratified it, including every major industrialized country, except the United States, Australia and Monaco. Monaco ratified the accord in February 2006

North American Union "Conspiracy" Exposed

By Cliff Kincaid February 19, 2007
A top Democratic Party foreign policy specialist said on Friday that a "very small group" of conservatives is unfairly accusing him of being at the center of a "vast conspiracy" to implement the idea of a "North American Union" by "stealth." He called the charges "absurd."
But Robert Pastor, a former official of the Carter Administration and director of the Center for North American Studies at American University (CNAS), made the remarks at an all-day February 16 conference devoted to the development of a North American legal system. The holding of the conference was itself evidence that a comprehensive process is underway to merge the economies, and perhaps the social and political systems, of the three countries.
Pastor said that he favors a "North American Community," not a formal union of the three countries, and several speakers at the conference ridiculed the idea of protecting America's borders and suggested that American citizenship was an outmoded concept.
Wearing a lapel pin featuring the flags of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, Pastor told AIM that he favors a $200-billion North American Investment Fund to pull Mexico out of poverty and a national biometric identity card for the purpose of controlling the movement of people in and out of the U.S.
So the "conspiracy" is now very much out in the open, if only the media would pay some attention to it.
Media Cover-Up
Accuracy in Media attended the conference in order to produce this report and shed light on a process that is being conducted largely beyond the scrutiny of the public or the Congress.
AIM has previously documented that Pastor's campaign for a North American Community has received precious little attention from the major media, except for the notable case of CNN's Lou Dobbs, who has called it "utterly mad." In fact, a survey of news coverage discloses that several high-profile mentions of the concept of a North American economic, social or political entity have come from Pastor himself, such as a Newsweek International article that he wrote.
The conference, conducted in cooperation with the American Society of International Law, an organization affiliated with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, was held at the American University Washington College of Law. A large number of speakers came from American University.
Overruling the U.S. Supreme Court
Academic literature distributed in advance to conference participants about a common legal framework for the U.S., Canada and Mexico included proposals for a North American Court of Justice (with the authority to overrule a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court), a North American Trade Tribunal, a North American Court of Justice, and a Charter of Fundamental Human Rights for North America, also dubbed the North American Social Charter.
Under the latter concept, according to Laura Spitz of the University of Colorado Law School, North Americans might be able to enjoy "new rights" essential to "human flourishing" such as gay marriage. She argues in one paper that U.S. economic integration with Canada will make it nearly impossible for the United States not to recognize same-sex marriage so long as it is lawful in Canada.
Pastor himself talked about new institutions, such as a "permanent tribunal" on trade issues, but emphasized that such ideas "take time" and have to "take root." He advised conference participants to "think about the horizon," in terms of what is possible, over the course of 5, 10 or even 20 years from now.
Conservative concerns about Pastor's agenda were not assuaged by conference literature disclosing that the CNAS is sponsoring an event in May in which students participate in a model "North American Parliament." The concept suggests creation of a regional body to supersede the U.S. Government itself.
Such talk does indeed raise the specter of a North American Union similar to the currently functioning European Union, a political and economic entity of 27 European states that includes a European Parliament and a European Court of Justice. The EU has been charged with usurping the sovereignty of member states and moving European nations in a left-wing direction on matters such as acceptance of abortion and gay rights and abolition of the death penalty.
Indeed, the academic literature distributed to conference participants alluded to how the three countries of North America are "polarized" on "sensitive" cultural issues such as the death penalty, abortion and gay marriage and that it might take a long time to "harmonize" their legal systems on such matters.
While Pastor, a foreign policy advisor to each of the Democratic presidential candidates since 1976, tried to dismiss talk of a North American Union, he did emphasize in his remarks to the conference that North America is "more than a geographical entity" and is in fact a "community." His 2001 book, Toward a North American Community, begins by emphasizing his status as a resident of North America, rather than just a U.S. citizen, and outlines a vision of the three countries taking their relationship "to a new level."
Rather than use the phrase "union," he described the creation of an "emerging entity called North America" growing out of the fact that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), passed in 1993, had brought about a "remarkable degree of economic integration" among the three countries. One panel was devoted to analyzing how NAFTA could be expanded into the areas of intellectual property and taxation and regulations.
Attacking Conservatives
One speaker, Stephen Zamora of the University of Houston Law School, denounced the idea of a wall separating Mexico and the U.S., in order to control illegal immigration, asking, "What does citizenship mean anymore?" He expressed pleasant surprise when a Mexican in the audience said she had dual citizenship in Mexico and the U.S. Later, he said he was just as concerned about people living in Mexico as people living in the U.S.
Another speaker, Tom Farer, Dean of the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver, made a point of saying that his representative in Congress, Tom Tancredo (R-Col.), a staunch advocate of U.S. border security, was a backward thinker. Tancredo could be seen "dragging his knuckles along the ground," Farer said, trying to crack a joke.
No Border Control
Pastor acknowledged that the U.S. Government doesn't want to enforce its immigration laws. He said, however, that the solution is not a fence, except in some isolated high-crime areas along the border, and it's not to punish companies for hiring illegal aliens, since identity documents can be too easily forged. He said the solution is a national biometric and fraud-proof identification card that identifies national origin and legal status.
Another part of his solution, a $200-billion North American Investment Fund, is for the purpose of narrowing the income disparity between Mexico, on the one hand, and the U.S. and Canada, on the other. "You need a lot of money to do it and do it effectively," he said. He said Mexico would be required to put up half of the money, with the U.S. contributing 40 percent and Canada 10 percent. It would be done over 10 years.
The fund, he said, would focus on economic development in the southern and middle parts of Mexico, which haven't been touched to any significant degree by NAFTA. This, he indicated, would go a long way toward stemming illegal immigration to the U.S.
So the failures of NAFTA are now being used not to repeal the measure but to expand it and increase foreign aid to Mexico.
Pastor said Senator John Cornyn, known as a conservative Republican, had introduced his North American Investment Fund as a bill in Congress but had backed away from it under conservative fire.
The Nature of NAFTA
An important moment in the conference occurred when Alan Tarr, director of the Center for State Constitutional Studies at Rutgers University, was challenged about glossing over President Clinton's submission of NAFTA as an agreement, requiring only a majority of votes in both Houses of Congress for passage, and not a treaty, requiring a two-thirds vote in favor in the Senate. NAFTA passed by votes of 234-200 in the House and 61-38 in the Senate. Tarr said he had not intended to be uncritical of what Clinton did. Pastor quickly interjected that there was nothing improper in submitting NAFTA as an agreement rather than a treaty.
But Clinton's move was seen at the time as an effort to bypass constitutional processes, and the United Steelworkers challenged NAFTA's constitutionality in court. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001, after lower courts had thrown the case out, saying it was a political matter between the president and Congress. The Bush Administration sided with Clinton and the Supreme Court declined to get involved.
The history of NAFTA is one reason why so many conservatives are concerned that a North American Community could be transformed into a North American Union that runs roughshod over U.S. constitutional processes and guarantees.
One of the main concerns of conservatives, who have formed a "Coalition to Block the North American Union," has been the lack of congressional interest and oversight. They are backing a bill introduced by Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.) to put Congress on record against a North American Union.
The Secretive SPP
Another major concern is that the Bush Administration has facilitated the creation of this new North American "entity" through an initiative known as the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), based on a memorandum signed by President Bush and the leaders of Canada and Mexico in March 2005. It is described as "a trilateral effort to increase security and enhance prosperity among the United States, Canada and Mexico through greater cooperation and information sharing," but its "working groups" have been operating in secret and many of the members are not even known.
Judicial Watch, a conservative public-interest law firm, had to go through the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents naming the members of some of the mysterious working groups.
Officially, on the U.S. side, the SPP is coordinated by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez.
The Clinton Connection
Pastor's luncheon speaker, Eric Farnsworth, the Vice-President of the Council of the Americas, provided some valuable insight into this process. Saying NAFTA is "no longer enough," he described the SPP as designed to help North America meet the economic challenges posed by such countries as China and India.
Farnsworth said that the Council of the Americas, which advises the SPP, would shortly issue 300 recommendations designed to improve business conditions in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. He was unclear as to whether the U.S. Government would try to implement these initiatives on its own, through the administrative or regulatory process, or whether they would be submitted to Congress for approval.
The Council's honorary chairman is David Rockefeller and its board members come from such major corporations as Merck, PepsiCo, McDonald's, Ford, Citibank, IBM, Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil, GE (which owns NBC News and MSNBC) and Time Warner (which owns CNN and Time Inc.).
One of the key board members is Thomas F. McLarty III, President of Kissinger McLarty Associates, who served as Clinton's White House counselor and chief of staff during the time that NAFTA was signed and passed by Congress. McLarty, who also functioned as Special Envoy to the Americas under Clinton, is an adviser to the Carlyle Group, focusing on "buyout investment opportunities in Mexico."
Farnsworth mentioned the possible creation of a "super-national Supreme Court" governing business and trade issues in North America, but was ambiguous about whether it would ever come to pass.
A self-described Democrat who served as policy director in the Clinton White House Office of the Special Envoy for the Americas from 1995-98, he also said that he was optimistic that Bush would strike a deal with the new Democratic-controlled Congress on immigration. He said Bush was "at odds with his own party" on immigration and that legislation to create a so-called "guest worker" program could pass now that Republicans have lost control of Congress.
The Panama Canal Giveaway
For his part, Pastor, a friendly and engaging fellow who talks about his ideas at length with critics, has a history that goes far beyond deep personal involvement in the Democratic Party.
Pastor is associated by conservatives with President Jimmy Carter's treaty, opposed by then-presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, which transferred control of the Panama Canal away from the U.S. to the Panamanian government. Pastor was National Security Advisor for Latin America under Carter. His nomination as U.S. Ambassador to Panama was withdrawn in 1995 after conservative Senator Jesse Helms, then-chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, threatened to block a vote on his nomination. Helms accused Pastor of aiding radical forces and undermining U.S. interests in the region.
The founding director of the Latin American and Caribbean Program of the [Jimmy] Carter Center, Pastor became Vice President of International Affairs and Professor of International Relations at American University on September 1, 2002, when he created his Center for North American Studies. Pastor also served as vice chair of a Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on the Future of North America, which issued a report in May 2005. Lately, Pastor's Center for North American Studies has received funding from the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean to address "regulatory convergence" issues.
A sour note about the prospect of further integration with Mexico was provided at the conference by Alberto Szekely, a career ambassador and advisor to the Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs, who said that the rule of law simply does not exist in Mexico and that corruption permeates governmental institutions. He said reforms under the presidency of Vicente Fox went nowhere and that Mexico is one of the most corrupt countries in the world today.
Ironically, however, he said that the development of a North American legal system might in some way assist in cleaning up the Mexican legal system.
Pastor, an optimist about the prospect of developing the North American Community, told me that he didn't think the situation in Mexico was as bleak as Szekely made it out to be. He continues to be a proponent of "continental thinking."