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Think Tanks Wrap-up

  |   April 10, 2002 at 5:46 PM
WASHINGTON, April 10 (UPI) -- The UPI think tank wrap-up is a daily digest covering brief opinion pieces, reactions to recent news events and position statements released by various think tanks. This is the second of two wrap-ups for April 4.


The Cato Institute

WASHINGTON -- Don't use the draft to fight war on terror, study says

As the administration continues to wage war on terrorism, some commentators have called for instituting military conscription. But according to a new paper from the Cato Institute, a draft is unnecessary and would degrade the performance of the military.

In "Fighting the war against terrorism: elite forces, yes; conscripts, no," Cato senior fellow Doug Bandow argues that because the United States already has the most powerful and effective military on earth, it has no need for conscripts. In a war against terrorism, the United States needs highly-trained, mobile forces.

"Masses of cannon fodder are of dubious value even in a typical conventional war today, given the killing potential of well-trained soldiers using the latest technology," he writes.

Bandow, who as special assistant to President Reagan worked with the Military Manpower Task Force, argues that a volunteer force is more disciplined and effective.

"Think about it: is a military healthier if it relies on those who desire to serve and succeed or if it is forced to include those who desire to escape at any price?" he writes. "Draftees have little incentive to train, accept greater responsibility, or re-enlist; yet the military must retain them, almost no matter how ill-suited they are to military service."

If the United States needs to expand its available military resources, it could do so easily by no longer defending its prosperous and populous allies, Bandow says.

"Unnecessarily subsidizing wealthy client states is dubious enough; drafting young Americans so allies don't have to burden their own citizens is senseless." America should reduce its nation-building commitments to ensure retention and improve recruitment, he argues.

Bandow also tackles the proposal to use conscription for homeland defense, arguing that conscription "will not draw people into useful tasks at acceptable costs. There's no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to recruiting soldiers, training firemen, or hiring airport screeners," he says. "Instead of attempting to foist the cost off on to the young, in the name of patriotism, all Americans should share in the cost of protecting their society."

The United States should also resist the draft on moral grounds, Bandow says.

"In America, homeland defense does more than secure a plot of land. It protects an ideal, a free society built on respect for and protection of individual liberty. Renewing conscription would destroy the very thing we are supposed to be protecting."

The report is available as policy analysis No. 430 on the Cato Institute Web site at http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-430es.html


National Center for Public Policy Research

(NCPPR is a communications and research foundation dedicated to providing free market solutions to today's public policy problems, based on the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility. NCPPR was founded to provide the conservative movement with a versatile and energetic organization capable of responding quickly and decisively to late-breaking issues, based on thorough research.)

by Tom Randall

CHICAGO -- Ten-second response: Lincoln Chafee advances bill to usurp local control of land use planning and zoning

Background: S.975, euphemistically titled the "Community Character Act," was introduced last May and is now scheduled to come before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Thursday, April 11, 2002. The bill, introduced by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R- R.I., with Sens. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, Jim Jeffords, independent-Vt., Carl Levin, D- Mich., Arlen Specter, R-Pa., Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Max Cleland, D-Ga., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., is based on the belief that local communities are incapable of developing acceptable land use plans or zoning.

It proposes providing grants to state and tribal governments to develop plans in cooperation with the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, Agriculture as well as "the heads of other federal agencies" and "non-profit organizations that promote land use planning."

Ten-second response: This bill represents nothing more than bribe money for use by far-left environmentalists to advance their political agendas.

Thirty-second response: The notion that Americans shouldn't be allowed to determine the character of their own communities, without the interference of Washington bureaucrats, is absurd. This bill would further erode the traditional American notion of private property and promote the so-called "smart growth" programs so popular with the far left-wing's "environmental" supporters. Americans should be free to determine the type and amount of growth appropriate for their communities.

Discussion: The terms "smart growth" and "sustainable development," which are the stated goals of the bill, are, in reality, buzzwords used by environmental extremists to promote no-growth and no-development programs.

These programs dramatically limit access to the "American dream" of homeownership, particularly for minorities, by limiting housing supplies and driving up prices. A new study, to be released in May 2002 by the National Center for Public Policy Research, will show the potential damaging effects of "sustainable development" policies on minorities in over 100 metropolitan areas around the country.

(Tom Randall is the director of the John P. McGovern Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs at the National Center for Public Policy Research.)


The Heritage Foundation

WASHINGTON -- Strengthen citizenship in INS reform

by Matthew Spalding

For good reason, the Immigration and Naturalization Service will not likely survive much longer in its current form. Not only is its bureaucracy not meeting the requirements of increased border security demanded in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but the visa notification for two of the terrorists, which arrived a full six months after the attacks, is undeniable evidence of the agency's habitual inefficiency.

Several proposals to restructure the INS have been put forth. The Justice Department announced a plan to separate INS's service and enforcement functions to improve efficiency and effectiveness. A proposed bill would dismantle the INS and split its functions into two separate bureaus, one for immigration enforcement and one for citizenship and immigration services. The administration is discussing plans to combine the INS, the customs bureau, and the border patrol within the Justice Department.

In their efforts to make long-overdue changes in the INS and address the nation's legitimate security needs, policymakers must be careful not to weaken but rather to substantially strengthen the INS's long-term core mission of promoting citizenship.

The INS, or whatever successor agency is tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the immigration process, must first and foremost control America's borders and prevent terrorists from exploiting -- and illegal immigrants from circumventing -- the immigration system. The agency must be made more efficient and be better managed.

But now, more than ever, this strategy must be balanced with a renewed and self-confident emphasis on creating a strong naturalization process for law-abiding immigrants who yearn to be Americans. INS reform provides an important opportunity for the nation's leaders to underscore the responsibilities of citizenship, which would encourage native-born Americans to become better citizens as well.

America's founders favored immigration as long as the foreign-born learned the common language and embraced America's cultural and political institutions. They insisted on a strong assimilation process: immigrants could come to America if they became Americans and learned the common principles rooted in its history and political traditions. Americanization of immigrants is what makes a multicultural pluribus into a unum.

Naturalization is the critical process by which a foreign citizen or national, by fulfilling the requirements established in the Immigration and Nationality Act, becomes a legal United States citizen. This act grants the attorney general the sole authority to naturalize immigrants and the responsibility (carried out through the INS) to make sure that they demonstrate both an understanding of the English language and "a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and the principles and form of government, of the United States."

The attorney general is also responsible for making sure that every applicant for naturalization is "a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States." These pivotal duties must be carried out.

Several things could be done to revive and strengthen the naturalization process by which American principles are inculcated in those who seek to become U.S. citizens:

*Change the language of reform to emphasize citizenship rather than "service." Using the right language goes far in sending the right message and determining the right policy. Making the INS into a better, more efficient "service" agency like the local Department of Motor Vehicles does not address its citizenship mission. One way to emphasize this core mission would be to create a separate Office of American Citizenship, or the appropriate organizational unit, that is tasked with strengthening the citizenship and civic education aspects of the immigration process.

*Actively promote citizenship. The INS is supposed to "broadly distribute information concerning the benefits" and "seek the assistance of appropriate community groups, private volunteer agencies, and other relevant organizations" in promoting the opportunities and responsibilities of citizenship. The current emphasis on voting and obtaining a U.S. passport should be expanded to include broader benefits -- such as enjoying the rule of law, limited government, and the protection of constitutional rights -- and to bring in non-governmental groups to help promote and make the case for citizenship.

*Test knowledge rather than trivia. The current tests given to candidates for citizenship to determine their "understanding of and attachment to the fundamental principles" of the U.S. Constitution are ridiculously easy, based on short answers to simple questions ("Who was the first president?") that encourage rote memorization. The exam should be strengthened to test core knowledge ("What is the difference between a republic and a democracy?") It should also be made uniform, since it varies in each district and is rather subjective depending on the examiner. And while the INS is authorized to promote instruction and training in citizenship responsibilities, which include "preparing and distributing citizenship textbooks," what little is done could be greatly improved.

*Emphasize the citizenship oath. Applicants must make a public oath of citizenship, the contents of which are described, not specified, in the act. The oath -- and especially its renunciation of foreign allegiances -- should be promulgated; its words could be modified to simplify its language and underscore its importance. The INS (or the new office) also should strengthen the rules and procedures to ensure that citizenship ceremonies "are in keeping with the dignity of the occasion."

*Enforce the language requirement. The requirement that applicants understand the English language must be enforced. Candidates must be able to comprehend both the exam questions and the words of the oath of citizenship. Haphazard application of this requirement undermines the naturalization process and immigrant assimilation into American society.

Over the past several years, the INS lost sight of its citizenship mission and, as a result, weakened one of the strongest moral and political arguments for an immigration policy that favors U.S. citizenship. Without this focus, U.S. immigration policy is either too narrow (focusing exclusively on enforcement and security) or too negative (focusing on what is wrong, not what is right, with immigration).

A successful naturalization policy turns immigration into a virtue rather than a vice because it makes immigrants not only citizens of the United States, but also Americans, prepared to enjoy and defend the blessings -- and responsibilities -- of liberty.

(Matthew Spalding is director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at the Heritage Foundation.)

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