WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- The UPI think tank wrap-up is a daily digest covering opinion pieces, reactions to recent news events and position statements released by various think tanks. This is the first of several wrap-ups for March 24.
The National Center for Public Policy Research
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CHICAGO -- ten-second response: Fast facts on the environment: protesters claim war is about oil, yet oppose safe nuclear energy and domestic energy alternatives
by Amy Ridenour
-- Background: As the war to replace the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq continues, protesters on the political left continue to claim that the U.S. government's military action is designed to acquire Iraqi oil.
-- Ten-second response: Gulf War II is properly understood as the continuation and completion of Gulf War I. The United States could buy Iraq's oil for less money than the war will cost.
-- Thirty-second response: If American war protesters genuinely believe the United States has gone to war for oil, they should advocate the use of economically and technologically feasible energy alternatives. Yet, many of these protesters not only oppose U.S. domestic oil drilling, such as in ANWR (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), but other pollution-free energy alternatives, such as nuclear power.
-- Discussion: Anti-oil war protesters tend to oppose domestic oil drilling while supporting alternatives to oil such as hydrogen.
In a March 17 Weekly Standard article, writer William Tucker notes that replacing oil with hydrogen ignores a critical fact: " ... there is no source of free hydrogen in the world. Supplies will come from either 1) the electrolysis of water, which requires electricity, or 2) stripping hydrogen from natural gas."
Option two is made unnecessarily difficult by the political left's opposition to domestic natural gas drilling. The left also objects to measures necessary for generating electricity, such as coal mining and burning, building and operating dams, and building and operating nuclear power plants.
Political opposition on the left has stalled development of alternatives to oil. Ironically, given that peace activists are concerned, it also has made the world more dangerous. The new generation of nuclear power technology, so-called "fast" reactors, don't pollute, leave little nuclear waste to be stored or shipped and generate no byproduct that could be used to build nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we don't have any "fast" reactor plants and none are scheduled for construction. Nuclear power isn't politically correct.
Peace activists who genuinely believe the war in Iraq is about oil should love nuclear power and the possibility of a new generation of "fast" nuclear reactors even more.
Strangely, they don't seem to.
(Amy Ridenour is the president of the National Center for Public Policy Research.)
The Brookings Institution
WASHINGTON -- Statement on post-war Iraq
Although some of us have disagreed with the administration's handling of Iraq policy and others of us have agreed with it, we all join in supporting the military intervention in Iraq.
The aim of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 was to give the Iraqi government a "final opportunity" to comply with all U.N. resolutions going back 12 years. The Iraqi government has demonstrably not complied. It is now time to act to remove Saddam Hussein and his regime from power.
The removal of the present Iraqi regime from power will lay the foundation for achieving three vital goals: disarming Iraq of all its stocks of weapons of mass destruction and related production capabilities; establishing a peaceful, stable, democratic government in Iraq; and contributing to the democratic development of the wider Middle East.
To enhance the prospects of success, American efforts in the weeks, months, and years ahead must be guided by the following principles:
-- Regime change is not an end in itself but a means to an end -- the establishment of a peaceful, stable, united, prosperous, and democratic Iraq free of all weapons of mass destruction.
-- We must help build an Iraq that is governed by a pluralistic system representative of all Iraqis and that is fully committed to upholding the rule of law, the rights of all its citizens, and the betterment of all its people.
-- The Iraqi people committed to a democratic future must be integrally involved in this process in order for it to succeed. Such an Iraq will be a force for regional stability rather than conflict and participate in the democratic development of the region.
The process of disarming, stabilizing, rebuilding, reforming, preserving the unity of, and ultimately democratizing Iraq will require a significant investment of American leadership, time, energy, and resources, as well as important assistance from American allies and the international community. Everyone -- those who have joined our coalition, those who have stood aside, those who opposed military action, and, most of all, the Iraqi people and their neighbors -- must understand that we are committed to the rebuilding of Iraq and will provide the necessary resources and will remain for as long as it takes. Any early fixation on exit strategies and departure deadlines will undercut American credibility and greatly diminish the prospects for success.
The United States military will necessarily bear much of the initial burden of maintaining stability in Iraq, securing its territorial integrity, finding and destroying weapons of mass destruction, and supporting efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance to those most in need.
For the next year or more, U.S. and coalition troops will have to comprise the bulk of the total international military presence in Iraq. But as the security situation permits, authority should transfer to civilian agencies, and to representatives of the Iraqi people themselves.
Much of the long-term security presence, as well as the resources for reconstruction, will have to come from our allies in Europe and elsewhere -- suggesting the importance of involving the NATO alliance and other international institutions early in any planning and implementation of the post-conflict stage.
American leadership -- and the long-term commitment of American resources and energies -- is essential, therefore, but the extraordinary demands of the effort make international support, cooperation, and participation a requirement for success. And just as a stable, peaceful and democratic Iraq is in the region's and the world's interest, it is important that the American-led stabilization and rebuilding effort gain the support and full involvement of key international organizations in the work of rebuilding Iraq.
The successful disarming, rebuilding, and democratic reform of Iraq can contribute decisively to the democratization of the wider Middle East. This is an objective of overriding strategic importance to the United States, as it is to the rest of the international community -- and its achievement will require an investment and commitment commensurate with that.
We offer our full support to the president and Congress to accomplish these vitally important goals.
Ronald Asmus, Max Boot, Frank Carlucci, Eliot Cohen, Ivo H. Daalder, Thomas Donnelly, Peter Galbraith, Robert S. Gelbard, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Martin S. Indyk, Bruce P. Jackson, Robert Kagan, Craig Kennedy, William Kristol, Tod Lindberg, Will Marshall, Danielle Pletka, Dennis Ross, Randy Scheunemann, Gary Schmitt, Walter Slocombe, James B. Steinberg, R. James Woolsey
The Hoover Institution
STANFORD, Calif. -- How the West is different; or, the dilemma of reforming a post-Saddam Iraq
by Russell Berman, Stephen Haber, and Barry R. Weingast
Two crucial debates underlie America's present situation. The first concerns whether the United States can implant democratic capitalism in Iraq, and presumably in other non-Western societies. The second debate involves the sources of differences between the West -- the societies of Western Europe and North America -- and other societies around the globe.
In order to understand how Western political and economic systems might be transplanted into a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, we first need to understand what is "Western" about those systems: their culture, politics, and economics. These three aspects not only developed jointly, but mutually support each other. This implies that it is not possible to transfer one without central aspects of the others.
The West's first distinctive characteristic is its culture of literacy and individuality. Indeed, democracy is unthinkable without a vibrant culture of literacy. Greek antiquity refined the tool of alphabetic writing with revolutionary consequences for the understanding of truth.
Written records undercut oral myths and established a norm of factual accuracy. In addition, written culture allowed authors to adopt critical positions that challenged received opinion. The process by which this gave rise to a culture in which individual integrity trumped the conformism of community doctrine was long and slow.
Nevertheless, over time the legacy of literacy and critical thinking became linked to a Judeo-Christian religious sensibility. The result was a culture that emphasizes the sanctity of life, the value of the individual, and the prospect for redemption through historical progress.
The West's second distinctive characteristic is its political institutions that limit the government's discretion. These institutions typically take three forms: electoral suffrage, federalism, and checks and balances. Regardless of how the three are combined, they jointly work to limit the authority of government and thereby reduce the stakes of politics. They also work to limit corruption and rent seeking.
These institutions accomplish these goals by creating either vetoes on the discretion of leaders (for example, presidents must receive congressional approval before they can act on new policy proposals), or by creating sanctions on leaders who exceed their authority (by being voted out of office or being impeached). These institutions also work to limit corruption and rent-seeking.
The West's third characteristic is its economic institutions that support markets. Of course markets exist in other parts of the world, as they have existed throughout recorded history. But only in the West do political institutions enforce property rights equally for everyone.
Non-Western societies may have markets and private property, but not all private property receives the same treatment from political officials. Indeed, in most developing societies political officials prey on markets and private property. In many, officials enforce some individuals' property rights, but not others -- essentially giving rise to cartels, thereby precluding vibrant competitive markets. Too often around the world, politics protects only the ruling elite and their cronies.
The combination of the culture of individualism, the habits and institutions of limited government, and the free-market economy developed through a long historical process. Together, they have been successful in unleashing human creativity, producing wealth and removing people from the problems of poverty.
As beneficial as it would be to reproduce these conditions in Iraq, we should not underestimate the difficulties. More than a superficial change of regime is at stake. Establishing democratic capitalism there will require a reform of cultural values, habits of government, and economic behavior through a profound and extended transformation: a worthwhile goal, but a long-term commitment.
Too often, new democracies in former authoritarian or colonial regimes fail because they lack critical elements of all three characteristics that distinguish the West. To establish a stable democratic capitalism in post-Saddam Iraq requires a political reform that can sustain economic reform, while cultivating a citizenry with the virtues of a free society.
(Russell A. Berman, the Walter A. Haas professor in the humanities at Stanford University, is a senior fellow, by courtesy, at the Hoover Institution. Stephen Haber is the Peter and Helen Bing senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is also the A.A. and Jeanne Welch Milligan professor in the School of Humanities and Science and director of the Social Science History Institute at Stanford University. Barry R. Weingast is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution as well as the Ward C. Krebs Family professor in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University.)