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  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: This section is intended to give readers an overview of President-elect Barack Obama's positions on the Middle East peace process as he begins his tenure. The baseline for gauging Obama's views may be his failed 2000 race for Congress. At that time he made statements viewed as pro-Palestinian because they urged the United States to take an "even-handed approach" toward Israeli-Palestinian peace-making. As an Illinois state senator, Obama had cultivated ties with Chicago's Arab American community, which was partly concentrated in his state senate district. He won a U.S. Senate seat in 2004 with significant support from Chicago's Lakeside liberals, who included leading Chicago Jewish Democrats. His position on the Arab-Israeli conflict remained an issue during the 2008 presidential race, however, and Obama made a point of laying out his positions at several points during the campaign, in contrast to his Republican challenger Sen. John McCain, who did not detail his positions.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Arabia, Chicago
  • Author: Amir M. Haji-Yousefi
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations
  • Institution: Prof. Bulent Aras
  • Abstract: After the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, it became evident that Iraq's Shia majority would dominate the future government if a free election was going to be held. In 2004, Jordan's King Abdullah, anxiously warned of the prospect of a “Shia crescent” spanning Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. This idea was then picked up by others in the Arab world, especially Egypt's President Mubarak and some elements within the Saudi government, to reaffirm the Iranian ambitions and portray its threats with regard to the Middle East. This article seeks to unearth the main causes of promoting the idea of a revived Shiism by some Arab countries, and argue that it was basically proposed out of the fear that what the American occupation of Iraq unleashed in the region would drastically change the old Arab order in which Sunni governments were dominant. While Iran downplayed the idea and perceived it as a new American conspiracy, it was grabbed by the Bush administration to intensify its pressures on Iran. It also sought to rally support in the Arab world for US Middle East policy in general, and its failed policy toward Iraq in particular. Thus, to answer the above mentioned question, a close attention would be paid to both the Arab and Iranian agenda in the Middle East after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in order to establish which entities benefit most from the perception of a Shia crescent.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America, Iran, Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Alex Epstein
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The most important and most overlooked energy issue today is the growing crisis of global energy supply. Cheap, industrial-scale energy is essential to building, transporting, and operating everything we use, from refrigerators to Internet server farms to hospitals. It is desperately needed in the undeveloped world, where 1.6 billion people lack electricity, which contributes to untold suffering and death. And it is needed in ever-greater, more-affordable quantities in the industrialized world: Energy usage and standard of living are directly correlated. Every dollar added to the cost of energy is a dollar added to the cost of life. And if something does not change soon in the energy markets, the cost of life will become a lot higher. As demand increases in the newly industrializing world, led by China and India, supply stagnates-meaning rising prices as far as the eye can see. What is the solution? We just need the right government "energy plan," leading politicians, intellectuals, and businessmen tell us. Of course "planners" such as Barack Obama, John McCain, Al Gore, Thomas L. Friedman, T. Boone Pickens, and countless others favor different plans with different permutations and combinations of their favorite energy sources (solar, wind, biomass, ethanol, geothermal, occasionally nuclear and natural gas) and distribution networks (from decentralized home solar generators to a national centralized so-called smart grid). But each agrees that there must be a plan-that the government must lead the energy industry using its power to subsidize, mandate, inhibit, and prohibit. And each claims that his plan will lead to technological breakthroughs, more plentiful energy, and therefore a higher standard of living. Consider Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, who claims that if only we follow his "repower American plan"-which calls for the government to ban and replace all carbon-emitting energy (currently 80 percent of overall energy and almost 100 percent of fuel energy) in ten years-we would be using fuels that are not expensive, don't cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home. . . . We have such fuels. Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world's energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses. And enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US electricity demand. Geothermal energy, similarly, is capable of providing enormous supplies of electricity for America. . . . [W]e can start right now using solar power, wind power and geothermal power to make electricity for our homes and businesses. And Gore claims that, under his plan, our vehicles will run on "renewable sources that can give us the equivalent of $1 per gallon gasoline." Another revered thinker, Thomas L. Friedman, also speaks of the transformative power of government planning, in the form of a government-engineered "green economy." In a recent book, he enthusiastically quotes an investor who claims: "The green economy is poised to be the mother of all markets, the economic investment opportunity of a lifetime." Friedman calls for "a system that will stimulate massive amounts of innovation and deployment of abundant, clean, reliable, and cheap electrons." How? Friedman tells us that there are two ways to stimulate innovation-one is short-term and the other is long-term-and we need to be doing much more of both. . . . First, there is innovation that happens naturally by the massive deployment of technologies we already have [he stresses solar and wind]. . . . The way you stimulate this kind of innovation-which comes from learning more about what you already know and doing it better and cheaper-is by generous tax incentives, regulatory incentives, renewable energy mandates, and other market-shaping mechanisms that create durable demand for these existing clean power technologies. . . . And second, there is innovation that happens by way of eureka breakthroughs from someone's lab due to research and experimentation. The way you stimulate that is by increasing government-funded research. . . . The problem with such plans and claims: Politicians and their intellectual allies have been making and trying to implement them for decades-with nothing positive (and much negative) to show for it. For example, in the late 1970s, Jimmy Carter heralded his "comprehensive energy policy," claiming it would "develop permanent and reliable new energy sources." In particular, he (like many today) favored "solar energy, for which most of the technology is already available." All the technology needed, he said, "is some initiative to initiate the growth of a large new market in our country." Since then, the government has heavily subsidized solar, wind, and other favored "alternatives," and embarked on grand research initiatives to change our energy sources-claiming that new fossil fuel and nuclear development is unnecessary and undesirable. The result? Not one single, practical, scalable source of energy. Americans get a piddling 1.1 percent of their power from solar and wind sources, and only that much because of national and state laws subsidizing and mandating them. There have been no "eureka breakthroughs," despite many Friedmanesque schemes to induce them, including conveniently forgotten debacles such as government fusion projects, the Liquid Fast Metal Breeder Reactor Program, and the Synfuels Corporation. Many good books and articles have been written-though not enough, and not widely enough read-chronicling the failures of various government-sponsored energy plans, particularly those that sought to develop "alternative energies," over the past several decades. Unfortunately, the lesson that many take from this is that we must relinquish hope for dramatic breakthroughs, lower our sights, and learn to make do with the increasing scarcity of energy. But the past failures do not warrant cynicism about the future of energy; they warrant cynicism only about the future of energy under government planning. Indeed, history provides us ample grounds for optimism about the potential for a dynamic energy market with life-changing breakthroughs-because America once had exactly such a market. For most of the 1800s, an energy market existed unlike any we have seen in our lifetimes, a market devoid of government meddling. With every passing decade, consumers could buy cheaper, safer, and more convenient energy, thanks to continual breakthroughs in technology and efficiency-topped off by the discovery and mass availability of an alternative source of energy that, through its incredible cheapness and abundance, literally lengthened and improved the lives of nearly everyone in America and millions more around the world. That alternative energy was called petroleum. By studying the rise of oil, and the market in which it rose, we will see what a dynamic energy market looks like and what makes it possible. Many claim to want the "next oil"; to that end, what could be more important than understanding the conditions that gave rise to the first oil? Today, we know oil primarily as a source of energy for transportation. But oil first rose to prominence as a form of energy for a different purpose: illumination. For millennia, men had limited success overcoming the darkness of the night with man-made light. As a result, the day span for most was limited to the number of hours during which the sun shone-often fewer than ten in the winter. Even as late as the early 1800s, the quality and availability of artificial light was little better than it had been in Greek and Roman times-which is to say that men could choose between various grades of expensive lamp oils or candles made from animal fats. But all of this began to change in the 1820s. Americans found that lighting their homes was becoming increasingly affordable-so much so that by the mid-1860s, even poor, rural Americans could afford to brighten their homes, and therefore their lives, at night, adding hours of life to their every day. What made the difference? Individual freedom, which liberated individual ingenuity. The Enlightenment and its apex, the founding of the United States of America, marked the establishment of an unprecedented form of government, one established explicitly on the principle of individual rights. According to this principle, each individual has a right to live his own life solely according to the guidance of his own mind-including the crucial right to earn, acquire, use, and dispose of the physical property, the wealth, on which his survival depends. Enlightenment America, and to a large extent Enlightenment Europe, gave men unprecedented freedom in the intellectual and economic realms. Intellectually, individuals were free to experiment and theorize without restrictions by the state. This made possible an unprecedented expansion in scientific inquiry-including the development by Joseph Priestly and Antoine Lavoisier of modern chemistry, critical to future improvements in illumination. Economically, this freedom enabled individuals to put scientific discoveries and methods into wealth-creating practice, harnessing the world around them in new, profitable ways-from textile manufacturing to steelmaking to coal-fired steam engines to illuminants.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, China, America, India
  • Author: Michael T. Klare
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The National Interest
  • Institution: The Nixon Center
  • Abstract: PRESIDENT BARACK Obama has often stated that one of his highest priorities is to vanquish the "tyranny of oil" by developing alternative sources of energy and substantially reducing America's reliance on imported petroleum. But we will not be energy independent for the next thirty to forty years, even with a strong push to increase energy efficiency and spur the development of petroleum alternatives. During this time, America will remain dependent on oil derived from authoritarian regimes, weak states and nations in the midst of civil war.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Iraq, America, Middle East
  • Author: Douglas S. Massey
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The National Interest
  • Institution: The Nixon Center
  • Abstract: IT IS commonly accepted that the United States was "invaded" by an unprecedented wave of illegal immigrants beginning in the 1980s. According to the Department of Homeland Security, by 2008 there were 11.6 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, 61 percent from Mexico. The next-closest source was El Salvador, at just 5 percent. Hence the "invasion" was framed as a Mexican issue, with pundits from Lou Dobbs to Patrick Buchanan warning of dire consequences for America if it was not checked, by force if necessary.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Mexico
  • Author: William Hale
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Barack Obama's inauguration as America's new president has been welcomed as opening a 'new era' in Turkey's relations with the United States. May 2009 also saw the appointment of a new foreign minister in Ankara, in the person of Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu. This article examines how these new directions are playing out in the Middle East, one of the world's most turbulent regions which also has crucial economic and strategic importance for Turkey. It focuses on Turkey's relations with four regional states – Iraq, Israel/ Palestine, Syria and Iran. The article closes by assessing whether Turkey has been able to achieve the government's ambition of 'zero problems' with its neighbors, and the degree to which it has been able to develop a new role as conciliator and go-between in addressing the region's bitter conflicts.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Lewis Dunn, Dallas Boyd, James Scouras
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Asked shortly before leaving office to identify his ''greatest accomplishment'' as president, George W. Bush expressed his pride in ''keeping America safe.'' Political commentator Peggy Noonan observed that the judgment ''newly re-emerging as the final argument'' for Bush's presidency is that he succeeded in preventing another attack on the scale of September 11, 2001. Noonan suggested, however, that ''It is unknown, and perhaps can't be known, whether this was fully due to the government's efforts, or the luck of the draw, or a combination of luck and effort.''
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Michael Dahlen
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Nineteenth-century America was the closest thing to capitalism-a system in which government is limited to protecting individual rights-that has ever existed. There was no welfare state, no central bank, no fiat money, no deficit spending to speak of, no income tax for most of the century, and no federal regulatory agencies or antitrust laws until the end of the century. Consequently, total (federal, state, and local) government spending averaged a mere 3.26 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Constitution's protection of individual rights and limitation on the power of government gave rise to an economy in which individuals were free to pursue their own interests, to start new businesses, and to create as much wealth as their ability and ambition allowed. This near laissez-faire politico-economic system led to the freest, most innovative, and wealthiest nation in history. Since the beginning of the 20th century, however, capitalism and freedom have been undermined by an explosion in the size and power of government: Total government spending has increased from 6.61 percent of GDP in 1907 to a projected 45.19 percent of GDP in 2009; the dollar has lost more than 95 percent of its value due to the Federal Reserve's inflationary policies; top marginal income tax rates have been as high as 94 percent; entitlement programs now constitute more than half of the federal budget; and businesses are hampered and hog-tied by more than eighty thousand pages of regulations in the Federal Register. What happened? How did America shift from a predominantly free-market economy to a heavily regulated mixed economy; from capitalism to welfare state; from limited government to big government? This article will survey the progression of laws, acts, programs, and interventions that brought America to its present state-and show their economic impact. Let us begin our survey by taking a closer look at the state of the country in the 19th century. Total (Federal, State, and Local) Government Spending America's Former Free Market The Constitution established the political framework necessary for a free market. It provided for the protection of private property (the Fifth Amendment) including intellectual property (Article I, Section 8), the enforcement of private contracts (Article 1, Section 10), and the establishment of sound (gold or silver) money (Article I, Sections 8 and 10). It prohibited the states from erecting trade barriers (Article I, Section 9), thereby establishing the whole nation as one large free-trade zone. It permitted direct taxes such as the income tax only if apportioned among the states on the basis of population (Article 1, Sections 2 and 9), which made them very difficult to levy. Finally, it specifically enumerated and therefore limited Congress's powers (Article I, Section 8), severely constraining the government's power to intervene in the marketplace. Federal regulatory agencies dictating how goods could be produced and traded did not exist. Rather than being forced to accept the questionable judgments of agencies such as the FDA, FTC, and USDA, participants in the marketplace were governed by the free-market principle of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware). As historian Larry Schweikart points out: merchants stood ready to provide customers with as much information as they desired. . . . In contrast to the modern view of consumers as incompetent to judge the quality or safety of a product, caveat emptor treated consumers with respect, assuming that a person could spot shoddy workmanship. Along with caveat emptor went clear laws permitting suits for damage incurred by flawed goods. To be sure, 19th-century America was not a fully free market. Besides the temporary suspension of the gold standard and the income tax levied during the Civil War, the major exceptions to the free market in the 19th century were tariffs, national banking, and subsidies for "internal improvements" such as canals and railroads. These exceptions, however, were limited in scope and were accompanied by considerable debate about whether they should exist at all. Alexander Hamilton, Henry Clay, and Abraham Lincoln supported such interventions; Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and John Tyler generally opposed them. These interventions (except for tariffs) were, as Jefferson, Jackson, and Tyler pointed out, unconstitutional. But history shows that they were also impractical. Tariffs were initially implemented, beginning with the Tariff Act of 1789, as a source of revenue-the main source in the 19th century-for the federal government. Pressure from northern manufacturers, however, to implement tariffs for purposes of protection led to the "Tariff of Abominations" (1828), which was scaled back by 1833 due to heavy opposition from the South. Tariff rates then remained relatively low-about 15 percent-until the Civil War. By 1864, average tariff rates had risen to 47.09 percent for protectionist reasons and remained elevated for the remainder of the century. As to national banking, the Second Bank of the United States' charter expired in 1836, thereby paving the way for the free banking era-which lasted until a national bank was reinstituted during the Civil War. By virtually every measure of bank health, this free banking era was the soundest in American history. In terms of capital adequacy, asset quality, liquidity, profitability, and prudent management, national banking proved to be inferior to free banking. As to subsidies for internal improvements, although private entrepreneurs financed and built most roads and many canals, state governments intervened in the 1820s to subsidize canal building-amending their constitutions to do so. However, most state-funded canals either went unfinished, generated little to no income, or went bankrupt. As a result, by 1860 most state constitutions were amended again to prohibit such subsidies. After the Civil War, federal subsidies for the transcontinental railroads caused similar problems-as well as corruption. Further, they were proven to be a hindrance to rather than a precondition of a thriving railroad industry: James Jerome Hill's Great Northern was the most successful of the transcontinental railroads, yet was built without any subsidies or land grants. The foregoing interventions, though impractical, were motivated in part by a desire to help promote the development of business and industry. But lurking in the periphery, growing in popularity, and poised to fuel further government interference in the marketplace, was the ideology of collectivism-the notion that the individual must be subordinated to the collective or the "common good." This idea was stated by economist Daniel Raymond in his 1820 textbook: "it is the duty of every citizen to forgo his own private advantage for the public good." And as the 19th century progressed, this idea was increasingly cited as a justification for government intervention. One of the most important instances of this was the Supreme Court's decision in Munn v. Illinois (1876). In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Morrison Waite declared: Property does become clothed with a public interest when used in a manner to make it of public consequence. . . . When, therefore, one devotes his property to a use in which the public has an interest, he, in effect, grants to the public an interest in that use, and must submit to be controlled by the public for the common good. . . . Although the case applied only to the states, Munn undermined the sanctity of private property rights by establishing the precedent that property "clothed with a public interest" (i.e., any property related to business) is subject to government regulation and control. As a result, Munn helped pave the way for the two major assertions of federal control over the economy-the Interstate Commerce Act and the Sherman Antitrust Act-that would come in the Gilded Age.
  • Topic: Government, History
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Michael Dahlen's article "The Rise of American Big Government" [TOS, Fall 2009] is a clarifying survey, in essentials, of the interventionism that has eroded freedom in America for more than a century. But as to the alleged economic successes of Reagan and Clinton, weren't these funded with deficit financing and inflation? I'd like to hear Mr. Dahlen's thoughts on this.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Rafael Bardaji
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Journal of International Security Affairs
  • Institution: Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
  • Abstract: MADRID-Spain was attacked by Islamists on March 11, 2004, but the new government that emerged from the polls three days later never learned the right lessons from that massacre. Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and his Socialist government argued that Spain had been attacked because of its presence in Iraq and because of the conservative government's cooperation with the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. Based on this notion, they concluded that by pulling out of Iraq and distancing itself from America, Spain could insulate itself from Islamic terrorism.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America, Spain