Monday, March 2, 2009

Libertarian: Hansen belittles models, cap-and-trade, Kyoto

Hansen belittles models, cap-and-trade, Kyoto; calls for coal-destroying carbon tax. By Marlo Lewis
Master Resource, March 2, 2009

Last week (February 25, 2009), Dr. James Hansen, the most influential scientist in the alarmist camp, testified before the House Ways & Means Committee on “Scientific Objectives for Climate Change Legislation.” In oral remarks, Hansen, who spoke as a faculty member of Columbia University’s Earth Institute rather than as an employee of NASA, said the scientific objective of climate policy should be to lower atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) from 385 parts per million (ppm) to 350 ppm or less. This, as he surely knows, is an impossible goal barring radical breakthroughs not just in energy production but also in air capture of CO2.

Even if by 2050, the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan, and former Soviet Union achieve zero net emissions and developing countries reduce their carbon intensity to 62% below 2005 levels, this would only be enough to reduce CO2 concentrations to 450 ppm by century’s end (see pages 8-11 of this presentation).

Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama Huntsville testified that datasets he and his colleagues have built contradict the climate model hypotheses and surface temperature records on which alarmism rests. Specifically, Christy said that: (1) climate models do not include the negative cloud-feedback (cooling) mechanism revealed by satellite data; (2) the observed warming trend is below the mean of model simulations of the IPCC mid-range emissions scenario; (3) IPCC surface temperature data are skewed upwards by local heat effects of urbanization and agriculture; and (4) all three model projections of global warming presented by Dr. Hansen in his now-famous 1988 congressional testimony, including the projection in which drastic CO2 cuts are assumed, overshoot observations.

Hansen did not challenge any of those four points directly. Instead, he asserted without offering specifics that his estimate of climate sensitivity is based not on models but on “paleoclimate information,” which “has improved enormously in recent years.” He also said his views are based on “what’s happening in the real world”—loss of Arctic sea ice, methane releases from tundra regions, and negative mass balance changes in ice sheets. Asserting that the science is “crystal clear,” Hansen said Congress should ask the National Academy of Sciences to produce a report and then accept its conclusions as “authoritative.”

The third witness, Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists, picking up on Hansen’s “real world” argument, said that climate models are too “conservative” and underestimate Arctic ice loss and species migration.

Christy countered that many variables affect Arctic ice behavior, the Arctic had even less ice 5,000 years ago, and models are not good at simulating ice dynamics. One might add that if species are migrating more rapidly than forecast, it means they are more adaptable than models assume.

Hansen and Ekwurzel’s remarks are noteworthy because they reveal how alarmists are dealing with data and analysis showing that the models underpinning the whole IPCC/UNFCC/Kyoto enterprise are too sensitive and “in the process of failing,” as Patrick Michaels put it recently. No matter that Hansen launched the global warming movement with model projections that have been falsified by observations. Hansen now says his views are not based on models and the science is “crystal clear” from “paleoclimate information” and the “real world.”

Ekwurzel, for her part, effectively redefined climate sensitivity to mean climate impacts per a given increment of warming rather than temperature change per a given increment of CO2. This way she gets to claim that less warming than the IPCC warned us about leads to worse impacts than the IPCC warned us about. There has been no net warming since 2001, but we should be more worried than ever! As I observed in another place, warming or no, alarmists predictably predict that climate change is worse than predicted.

From a policy standpoint, the most novel part of the hearing was Hansen’s attack on “Cap & Trade” and advocacy of what he calls “Tax & Dividend.”

Cap & Trade is the main climate policy championed by Al Gore, the Obama Administration, the European Union, the IPCC, and just about every environmental group. It should actually be called “Tax & Trade,” said Hansen, because it places a hidden tax on carbon-based fuels and all goods and services produced with those fuels. Indeed, “Part of the reason for the pseudonym is to avoid the stigma of a tax, under the presumption that the public is too gullible to figure it out.”

He continued: “Other parties support ‘Cap & Trade’ because they hope to profit – it is a give-away to special interests, who feel, based on extensive empirical evidence, that they will be able to manipulate the program through their lobbyists. Except for its stealth approach to taxing the public, and its attraction to special interests, ‘Cap & Trade’ seems to have little merit.”

Contrary to proponents, the Clean Air Act’s Acid Rain trading program is not a model for climate policy, because “it was a program that required existing facilities to employ a relatively simple low-cost solution [scrubbers and low-sulfur coal],” whereas carbon trading would “require massive investments in new infrastructure and innovation.” A cap produces price volatility, discouraging investment in new technology. Trading programs don’t actually reduce emissions, due to special interest loopholes and creative accounting. The Kyoto Protocol has been an “abject failure.”

Finally, cap-and-trade is politically unsustainable. The public will soon learn it is a tax. They’ll see people on Wall Street making millions at their expense. And because they’ll bear all the cost and reap no dividend, “the public will revolt before the cap tax is large enough to transform society.”

Energy realists have made the same criticisms (see, e.g. here, here, and here), but when the doyen of climate alarmism bashes Kyoto and carbon trading, it is truly a “Man Bites Dog” story.

Instead of Tax & Trade, Hansen proposes a carbon tax initially set equivalent to $1/gallon of gasoline, or $115 per ton of CO2, with 100% of the proceeds refunded on a per capita basis to the American people.

At the 2007 level of fossil energy consumption, this would generate about $670 billion per year, Hansen estimates. “If we give one share to each legal resident age 22 and over, one half-share to college age youth (18-21), one half-share to the parents of each child up to two children per family, that yields about 224 million shares in 2007.” Here’s how it works out:

* Single share: $3000/year ($250 per month, deposited monthly in bank account)
* Family with 2 children: $9000/year ($750 per month, deposited monthly in bank account)

The total tax would be returned to the people as dividends, and dividends would increase as the tax increases. The dividend component would not only make the tax acceptable to the public, Hansen argues, but would create incentives for purchases and investments that reduce emissions. The person or household with a carbon footprint less than average “would obtain more from the dividend than paid in the tax.”

This is all quite clever. However, Hansen did not address several obvious problems.

[See full post here.]

Clinton says U.S. diplomacy unlikely to end Iran nuclear program

Clinton says U.S. diplomacy unlikely to end Iran nuclear program, by Paul Richter
In a Mideast meeting, the secretary of State says a rejection by Iran could strengthen the U.S. position.
Los Angeles Times, Mar 03, 2009

Reporting from Sharm El Sheik, Egypt -- The Obama administration has already concluded that a diplomatic overture to Iran, one of the central promises of the president's election campaign, is unlikely to persuade Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates in a private meeting Monday that it is "very doubtful" a U.S. approach will persuade Iran to relent, said a senior State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under customary diplomatic rules.

But Clinton, in Egypt for a conference to raise money for the war-scarred Gaza Strip, said an Iranian rebuff could strengthen America's diplomatic position.

She told Foreign Minister Sheik Abdullah ibn Zayed al Nuhayyan that the move would quell complaints that the United States has not exhausted diplomatic routes. At the same time, it could help persuade U.S. allies to join it in increasing pressure on the Islamic regime.

Clinton said that Iran's "worst nightmare is an international community that is united and an American government willing to engage Iran," according to the State official. During the election campaign, President Obama made an overture to Iran one of his central foreign policy ideas, saying that engagement would be better than the Bush administration's policy of seeking to isolate adversary regimes. Bush refused to deal with Iran while the country's rulers pursued a nuclear program that they insist is intended for civilian energy but that U.S. officials and allies maintain is for producing the fuel for nuclear weapons.

Many foreign policy experts, including some in Democratic circles, have questioned whether talks alone would persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program.

Clinton's comments suggest that even as U.S. officials weigh a diplomatic overture, they have begun looking ahead to the next stage in dealing with Iran. The remarks also indicate that the administration believes it may need to press ahead with the diplomatic and economic pressures begun by the Bush administration.

The U.S. official said that Nuhayyan expressed concern over a U.S.-Iranian deal, which could leave Persian Gulf states with reduced Western support amid tensions with Tehran.

But he said Clinton assured the minister that the administration is "under no illusions" and would consult with allies in the region.

The new U.S. administration is considering several ways to try to engage Iran. Richard C. Holbrooke, the special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, has said that he would like to enlist Iranian help to stabilize its neighbor to the east, Afghanistan. And Clinton last month named veteran Mideast negotiator Dennis B. Ross as a special advisor, with Iran as part of his assignment.

U.S. officials elsewhere sought to rekindle progress on international disarmament. In Vienna on Monday, the Obama administration disclosed plans to reduce its nuclear arsenal as a way of persuading other nations, including Iran, to scale back their own ambitions.

U.S. envoy Gregory L. Schulte, speaking in a closed-door meeting of the International Atomic Energy Association's board of governors, noted the new administration's "readiness for direct engagement with Tehran."

Schulte also said the U.S. would resurrect nuclear disarmament efforts that fell by the wayside during the Bush administration, including "dramatic reductions" in U.S. and Russian stockpiles and a ban on production of "new nuclear weapons material," according to a copy of his prepared remarks.

"President Obama supports the goal of working toward a world without nuclear weapons," he said. "His administration intends to renew America's commitment to disarmament."

The statement came a day after U.S. Navy Admiral Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Iran had enough low-enriched uranium for a weapon, a conclusion also drawn by International Atomic Energy Agency officials last month.

An Iranian official Monday denied the claims as "baseless."

Clinton's comments about Iran came on the sidelines of a gathering in this Sinai resort of more than 75 countries for a Gaza Strip donors conference. Clinton told the group, "We are committed to a comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbors, and we will pursue it on many fronts."

Her reference to a "comprehensive peace" hinted at U.S. interest in a deal between Israel and Syria, as well as between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Egyptian sponsors of the event said it brought pledges of $4.5 billion for humanitarian relief and reconstruction. But officials from Europe, Arab states and international organizations also demanded that Israel ease restrictions on border crossings to speed the delivery of relief supplies and rebuilding materials after a 22-day Israeli offensive aimed at stopping cross-border rocket fire from Gaza.

"The situation at the border crossings is intolerable," said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Officials at the conference also called for a settlement between the two rival Palestinian movements, Hamas and Fatah. Europeans warned they would not continue to fund reconstruction work unless Israelis and Palestinians tried to settle their differences.

"Will we once again reconstruct something that we built a few years ago and has now been hammered and flattened?" asked Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere. "Many donors, despite pledges, will wish to see political progress before they commit to infrastructure reconstruction."

TNYT editorial short-sightedness during the Clinton years now reversed

NY Times Reconsiders Filibuster, by Kevin Murphy
Patterico's Pontifications, Mar 02, 2009

On March 29, 2005, the NY Times ran an editorial defending the filibuster, and lamenting its own editorial short-sightedness during the Clinton years:

The Senate, of all places, should be sensitive to the fact that this large and diverse country has never believed in government by an unrestrained majority rule. Its composition is a repudiation of the very idea that the largest number of votes always wins out. The members from places like Rhode Island, Maine or Iowa know that their constituents are given a far larger say than people from New York simply by virtue of the fact that each state has two votes, regardless of population. Indeed, as a recent New Yorker article pointed out, the Democratic senators who have blocked that handful of judicial nominees actually represent substantially more Americans than the Republican majority that wants to see them passed.

While the filibuster has not traditionally been used to stop judicial confirmations, it seems to us this is a matter in which it’s most important that a large minority of senators has a limited right of veto. Once confirmed, judges can serve for life and will remain on the bench long after Mr. Bush leaves the White House. And there are few responsibilities given to the executive and the legislature that are more important than choosing the members of the third co-equal branch of government. The Senate has an obligation to do everything in its power to ensure the integrity of the process.

A decade ago, this page expressed support for tactics that would have gone even further than the “nuclear option” in eliminating the power of the filibuster. At the time, we had vivid memories of the difficulty that Senate Republicans had given much of Bill Clinton’s early agenda. But we were still wrong. To see the filibuster fully, it’s obviously a good idea to have to live on both sides of it. We hope acknowledging our own error may remind some wavering Republican senators that someday they, too, will be on the other side and in need of all the protections the Senate rules can provide.

How soon they forget. Today, the Times runs two op-ed pieces against the “the segregationist’s tool”, and gives them prime links on the web site. The worm begins its turn.

In Jean Edward Smith’s “Filibusters: The Senate’s Self-Inflicted Wound“, the filibuster is thoroughly demonized, equating its practitioners to Klansmen and worse:

In the entire 19th century, including the struggle against slavery, fewer than two dozen filibusters were mounted. In F.D.R.’s time, the device was employed exclusively by Southerners to block passage of federal anti-lynching legislation. Between 1933 and the coming of the war, it was attempted only twice. Under Eisenhower and J.F.K., the pattern continued. In the eight years of the Eisenhower administration, only two filibusters were mounted. Under Kennedy there were four. The number more than doubled under Lyndon Johnson, but the primary issue continued to be civil rights. Except for exhibitionists, buffoons and white southerners determined to salvage racial segregation, the filibuster was considered off limits.

Pretty hard to have a civil conversation after that. Unsurprisingly, she calls for the Democrats to remove the filibuster from Senate rules.

In David R. RePass’ much calmer “Make My Filibuster“, Mr RePass argues that Reid and the Democrats should not use cloture as the test of a filibuster, but instead make the Republicans actually hold the floor. He asserts that this would quickly end the practice, but offers no real evidence.

It is up to Mr. Reid. He can do away with the supermajority requirement for virtually all significant measures and return majority rule to the Senate. This is not to say that the Democrats should ride roughshod over the Republicans. Republicans should be included at all stages of the legislative process. However, with the daunting prospect of having to mount a real filibuster to demonstrate their opposition, Republicans may become much more willing to compromise.

Expect more of this, especially when the Obama budget dies the death of 1000 cuts in the Senate, amid largescale taxpayer protests. Next up: Dissent and patriotism.

Release of OLC Memos Regarding GWOT

Release of OLC Memos Regarding GWOT, by Gregory S. McNeal
Monday, March 02, 2009

DOJ announced today the release of Office of Legal Counsel memoranda drafted during the Bush administration regarding counterterrorism efforts. These are significant legal policy documents. Hat tip to Bobby Chesney for the pointer:

Memorandum Regarding Status of Certain OLC Opinions Issued in the Aftermath of the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 (01-15-2009)
Memorandum Regarding Constitutionality of Amending Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to Change the "Purpose" Standard for Searches (09-25-2001)
Memorandum Regarding Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities within the United States (10-23-2001)
Memorandum Regarding Authority of the President to Suspend Certain Provisions of the ABM Treaty (11-15-2001)
Memorandum Regarding the President's Power as Commander in Chief to Transfer Captured Terrorists to the Control and Custody of Foreign Nations (03-13-2002)
Memorandum Regarding Swift Justice Authorization Act (04-08-2002)
Memorandum Regarding Determination of Enemy Belligerency and Military Detention (06-08-2002)
Memorandum Regarding Applicability of 18 U.S.C. § 4001(a) to Military Detention of United States Citizens (06-27-2002)
Memorandum Regarding October 23, 2001 OLC Opinion Addressing the Domestic Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities (10-06-2008)

Brookings Institute on BHO's First Federal Budget

Brookings Institute on BHO's First Federal Budget

Alice Rivlin interview and much more here.

United States Assistance to the Palestinians

United States Assistance to the Palestinians. Office of the Spokesman, US State Dept
Washington, DC, March 2, 2009

At the March 2, 2009 donors conference for Gaza recovery in Sharm el Sheikh, the United States announced its intent to provide support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Gaza recovery totaling approximately $900 million. The assistance will be available in 2009, and is subject to Congressional approval. The assistance includes continued immediate humanitarian support to the Palestinian people in Gaza, including for the UN Consolidated Appeal; budget support for the PA; and further support for the priorities identified by the PA in the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan.

We will work closely with Congress on our assistance package. It will include the following components:

Up to $300 million to meet urgent humanitarian needs, including those identified under the UN appeal and to support the PA’s plan for Gaza. This is to be provided through USAID in coordination with UN agencies, international organizations and USAID grantees, and through the Department of State for UN agencies, ICRC, and other humanitarian organizations.

$200 million in budget support to address the PA’s anticipated $1.15 billion budget shortfall for 2009.

Up to $400 million in 2009 to support priorities identified in the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP) that will help the PA solidify economic and institutional reforms in the West Bank. This includes support for private sector development, essential public infrastructure improvements in the West Bank, and security sector assistance coordinated by the U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC).

In 2008, the U.S. was the single largest national donor to the Palestinian people. The U.S. exceeded its December 2007 Paris Donors’ Conference pledge of $555 million, committing more than $600 million, including $300 million in direct budget support and $184.7 million in assistance for Palestinian refugees. In addition, since the Gaza crisis began in December 2008, the U.S. has provided over $65 million in immediate humanitarian assistance, primarily through UN agencies and NGOs.

PRN: 2009/180

US State Dept: Assassinations in Guinea-Bissau

Assassinations in Guinea-Bissau, by Robert Wood, Acting Department Spokesman, Office of the Spokesman, US State Dept
Washington, DC, March 2, 2009

The U.S. strongly condemns the violence that occurred in Guinea-Bissau over the weekend that resulted in the assassination of President Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces General Batista Tagmé Na Waï.

We call for calm and for all parties in Guinea-Bissau to respect the rule of law and follow the established constitutional order regarding succession.

We will continue to monitor events as they unfold.
# # #

PRN: 2009/182

Switzerland Should Stiff-Arm the IRS

Switzerland Should Stiff-Arm the IRS, by Daniel J. Mitchell
Cato at Liberty, Mar 02, 2009

In a classic display of arrogant imperialism, the Internal Revenue Service is running roughshod over existing treaties and demanding that a Swiss bank disgorge confidential client data to American tax collectors. As a former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland warns in the Financial Times, this is a remarkably ill-considered approach to bilateral relations:

When Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, the Swiss federal councillor in charge of police and justice, meets Eric Holder, US attorney-general, the final item for discussion – according to her ministry’s press release – will be US demands for data on American holders of accounts at UBS, the Swiss bank. …intense anger has…been directed at the US government, which – via the justice department and the Internal Revenue Service – rode roughshod over two bilateral agreements to which it is a signatory. That is, the US ignored formal, negotiated understandings with a long-time friend, a constitutional federal republic where rule of law is enshrined… The Swiss Confederation’s first experience with the new administration is of a superpower exerting raw Goliath power, ignoring its own diplomatic undertakings and taking advantage of Switzerland’s size and the stereotypical misunderstanding of Swiss bank secrecy laws. US authorities are seen in this instance as being once again arrogant and bullying. …UBS and Swiss officials were stunned when the IRS, within days, filed a civil complaint that included a demand for information on 52,000 American UBS customers. A Swiss financial oversight court has ordered UBS not to fulfil this demand. Thus the bank is in the awkward position that its officers would have to violate Swiss banking law to fulfil the US demand.

The more fundamental issue, of course, is how to solve the conflict between America’s bad tax system (with its pervasive double taxation of saving and investment, and its taxation of “worldwide” income) and Switzerland’s admirable human rights policy of protecting financial privacy. The obvious answer is that the U.S. should fix its bad tax system. For instance, the conflict between the U.S. and Switzerland would disappear if the Internal Revenue Code was replaced with a simple and fair flat tax (which taxes income only once and taxes only income earned inside U.S. borders).

If the IRS prevails in this battle, it will be terrible news for people in all nations. As I explain here, here, and here, the ability to escape bad tax policy is a critical restraint on the power of politicians to fleece taxpayers.

Save Washington's Metro by Privatizing the System

Save Washington's Metro by Privatizing the System, by Randal O'Toole
DC Examiner, February 26, 2009

As Washington’s Metro lurches from crisis to crisis, including derailed trains and a $154 million deficit in next year’s budget, many see its troubles as a prime example of why transit systems across the nation need even more tax subsidies.

In fact, the Washington Metro is a prime example of the failure of our socialized transit model, and why transit systems should be privatized.

In 1964, most of America’s transit systems were private and the industry as a whole was profitable. Then Congress passed the Urban Mass Transit Act, not—as some believe—to help low-income people who couldn’t afford cars, but because railroads threatened to terminate money-losing commuter trains into Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

Congress justified federal support for those trains on the grounds that some of them crossed state lines. Politically, however, supporting transit in those urban areas meant supporting transit throughout the country, whether or not that transit crossed state lines.

Washington, Atlanta and San Francisco then spent billions of dollars building new subway and elevated rail transit lines. These systems completely failed to live up to their promises, costing far more and carrying fewer riders than projected, and they did little to relieve congestion.

Yet transit agencies could not admit they had wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, so they proclaimed these lines to be great successes. Certainly, the people who ride them appreciate the heavy subsidies they receive, but the share of commuters and other travelers riding transit in these regions continued to decline.

For example, the 2000 census revealed that the Washington, D.C. urban area had gained more than 100,000 new jobs since 1990 and that virtually all those commuters drove to work.
Moreover, more than 21,000 commuters who took transit to work in 1990 switched to driving by 2000. You won’t hear that from Washington Metro officials.

Nevertheless, Congress opened the floodgates of federal funding for new rail transit lines, and the number of urban areas with expensive rail transit climbed from 10 in 1980 to nearly 40 today.

To cover the high costs of rail transit, many transit agencies ended up cutting bus service, contributing to declines in per-capita transit ridership.

Nor do transit officials ever mention that the cost of reconstructing rail lines every 30 years is almost as great as the original construction cost. Agencies invariably fail to plan for this cost and hope instead for federal bailouts.

The Chicago Transit Authority is "on the verge of collapse" as it needs $16 billion to rehabilitate its tracks and trains. New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is in serious trouble because it is short $17 billion needed to rehabilitate its rail lines.

Washington’s Metrorail suffers increasing breakdowns because no one has found the $12 billion it needs to keep the system running.

Rail advocates argue that all transportation is subsidized so we should pay no attention to the transit subsidies behind the curtain. Yet transit subsidies are vastly out of proportion to other transportation support and have made transit the most expensive way to travel in the U.S.

Including subsidies, Americans spend 15 cents per passenger mile flying, 24 cents driving, and 80 cents on urban transit. While less than 4 percent of the cost of driving and less than 10 percent of the cost of flying is subsidized, three-fourths of the cost of transit comes from subsidies.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, all transit is not subsidized. Atlantic City, NJ, has a private bus system that runs 24 hours a day without subsidies. San Juan, Puerto Rico residents ride private buses known as públicos that carry more people, without subsidies, than the city’s tax-supported public buses and trains. Yet most American cities and states outlaw private competition to government’s monopoly transit systems.

We won’t fix transit’s woes by throwing money at it, especially not by building new rail transit lines, which will only impose huge obligations on future generations to maintain (or dismantle) those lines.

Instead, we need to return to a private transit model, allowing competing transit companies to provide innovative transit services that people will use at no cost to taxpayers.

Randal O'Toole is a senior fellow and author of The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future.

Libertarian views: The Malthusian Wing of the Party in Power

The Malthusian Wing of the Party in Power: When Will They Speak Up? By Robert Bradley
Master Resource, Mar 01, 2009

“The economic recession/depression is good, not bad. It lowers our carbon footprint in countless ways. It saves resources. It throttles back industrial society to sustainable levels that were exceeded long ago. Let the downturn continue to get us out of the growth mentality. Let rising expectations fall! Less is more!”

When will some prominent Left environmentalist slip and say something like this? No doubt the tongues are tied right now, but as time goes on it will be harder to keep the Malthusians muted.
Consider Paul Ehrlich’s advice for families, which can be extended to the economy as a whole:

Once a cooperative movement had gained momentum, it could also engage in an enormous campaign to re-educate other consumers and to change their buying habits. The pitch might be: ‘Try to live below your means! It will be good for your family’s economic situation, and may also help to save the world.’
- Paul Ehrlich and Richard Harriman, How To Be a Survivor (Rivercity, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1971, 1975), p. 149.

The literature is chock full of anti-growth, anti-industrial sentiment, including statements from John Holdren, Obama’s confirmed top science advisor, who said (with Ehrlich):

Only one rational path is open to us—simultaneous de-development of the [over developed countries or] ODC’s and semi-development of the underdeveloped countries (UDC’s), in order to approach a decent and ecologically sustainable standard of living for all in between. By de-development we mean lower per-capita energy consumption, fewer gadgets, and the abolition of planned obsolescence.
- John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich, “Introduction,” in Holdren and Ehrlich, eds., Global Ecology (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971), p. 3.


A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States. . . . Resources and energy must be diverted from frivolous and wasteful uses in overdeveloped countries to filling the genuine needs of underdeveloped countries. This effort must be largely political.
- John Holdren, Anne Ehrlich, and Paul Ehrlich, Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions (San Francisco; W.H. Freeman and Company, 1973), p. 279.

Al Gore has blessed a “wrenching transformation of society,” which does not bode well for a future of economic prosperity:

Minor shifts in policy, marginal adjustments in ongoing programs, moderate improvements in laws and regulations, rhetoric offered in lieu of genuine change—these are all forms of appeasement, designed to satisfy the public’s desire to believe that sacrifice, struggle, and a wrenching transformation of society will not be necessary.”
- Al Gore, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit (New York: Plume/Penguin, 1992, 1993), p. 274.

Lifestyle changes are required, notes Amory Lovins:

Governments and their constituencies in rich countries should begin to contemplate seriously and to decide upon the changes in lifestyles that energetic and other constraints will soon impose—changes that may well be desirable on other grounds.
- Amory Lovins, World Energy Strategies: Facts, Issues, and Options (New York: Friends of the Earth International, 1975), p. 127.

Adds Christopher Flavin of the Worldwatch Institute:

Global climate change will not be slowed with a simple law or regulation. More than any other environmental problem, climate change is woven into the very structure of today’s societies. . . . Major changes in technology, infrastructure, and even life-style are needed to slow it.
- Christopher Flavin and Odil Tunali, Climate of Hope: New Strategies for Stabilizing the World’s Atmosphere (Washington: Worldwatch Institute, 1996), p. 53.

Laws, laws, more laws

What might some of these lifestyle changes entail. Paul Ehrlich, the mentor of John Holdren, has been explicit:

Laws may well be passed strictly limiting the number of appliances a single family may possess. Learning to survive with only one TV set will, for instance, be simpler than learning to live on a planet made uninhabitable by an unending quest for material possessions.
- Paul Ehrlich and Richard Harriman, How To Be a Survivor (Rivercity, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1971, 1975), p. 69.

Many of the conservation measures temporarily undertaken when the mini-crisis was in its acute stage—lowered speed limits, car-pools, reset thermostats, etc.—should be instituted on a permanent basis. . . . In the long run, energy should be made expensive, especially for large users, as an incentive to conservation.
- Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, The End of Affluence (Riverside, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1974, 1975), p. 48.

The large automobile should disappear entirely, except for some taxis, and these could be designed to run economically.
- Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, The End of Affluence (Riverside, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1974, 1975), p. 223.

Except in special circumstances, all construction of power generating facilities should cease immediately. . . . Power is much too cheap. It should certainly be made more expensive and perhaps rationed, in order to reduce its frivolous use.
- Paul Ehrlich and Richard Harriman, How To Be A Survivor (Rivercity, Mass.: Rivercity Press, 1971, 1975), p. 72.

Unnecessary lighting in offices and factories should . . . be banned.
- Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, The End of Affluence (Riverside, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1974, 1975), p. 226.

It should immediately be made illegal to construct a building with windows which cannot be opened.
- Paul Ehrlich and Richard Harriman, How To Be A Survivor (Rivercity, Mass.: Rivercity Press, 1971, 1975), pp. 73-74.

Completely frivolous uses of power, such as gas yard lamps that are permanently lit, should be outlawed altogether.
- Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, The End of Affluence (Riverside, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1974, 1975), p. 227.

Who, for instance, benefits from the garish use of electric signs that deface the nighttime sky of our cities? Many of then, of course, carry the kind of deceptive advertising that fuels our frenzied economy. . . . Advertising signs on restaurants, motels, and the like could be shut off by law at night when the establishment was not open. If everyone had to do it there would be little, if any, competitive loss.
- Paul Ehrlich and Richard Harriman, How To Be a Survivor (Rivercity, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1971, 1975), p. 73.

Making Fun of Consumption

Somewhere shortly after the Second World War the people of the United States made a colossal blunder. . . . TVs, boats, hi-fi’s, driers, disposals, and a myriad other items appeared on the lists of ‘musts.’ Suddenly we needed two or three of everything, and a new model of each every year.
- Paul Ehrlich and Richard Harriman, How To Be a Survivor (Rivercity, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1971, 1975), pp. 58-59.

Cars are for transportation, and proper use of the media could once again persuade American men to get their sexual kicks out of sex (not reproduction) instead of a series of automotive sexual surrogates. Restriction of families to ownership of single small cars also would put some pressure against over-reproducers. Our stress on the world’s supply of nonrenewable resources would be greatly alleviated by limiting the fuel consumption of the cars and by designing them for recycling.
- Paul Ehrlich and Richard Harriman, How To Be a Survivor (Rivercity, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1971, 1975), p. 67.

First everyone had to have a small black-and-white TV set, then a large screen, then color, then a VCR, then a Dolby stereo sound system, then a VCR with a Dolby stereo sound system. Soon anyone who can’t download any of 514 European, Asian, and cable television channels into his TV’s quadraplexed digital memory over the cellular modem in his moving car, transmit it to his home while moving, and play it back for his kids later than night will probably feel deprived.
- Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich, New World New Mind: Moving Toward Conscious Evolution (New York: Doubleday, 1989), p. 56.

Over the longer term, America’s transportation system could be redesigned to minimize the need for automobiles and trucks and maximize the use of feet and bicycles for local transport and trains and aircraft, i.e. public transport, for long distances.
- Paul Ehrlich and Richard Harriman, How To Be a Survivor (Rivercity, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1971, 1975), p. 68.

It is not a stretch of the imagination to think that the carbon police will be need to enforce all of the carbon laws that would be needed in an Ehrlich-Holdren-Gore-Lovins-Flavin world. Will civil libertarians catch on and turn against the “Limits to Growth” wing of today’s dominant political party?

China’s Naval Force Projection off Somalia

China’s Naval Force Projection off Somalia. By S.Rajasimman
Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, March 02, 2009

Call it China’s new military diplomacy or emerging naval strategy. A Chinese naval fleet arrived in the Gulf of Aden off the Somalian coast on January 6, 2009 to carry out the first escort mission against pirates. On February 18, 2009, in an efficient display of its growing naval capabilities, the fleet completed its twenty first mission (the largest held so far in the series) of escorting merchant ships in this region. Ten Chinese merchant ships were part of the convoy while three foreign ones, including Hermione from Germany, Viking Crux from Singapore and Princess Nataly from Cyprus requested protection and were escorted by the Chinese fleet. The fleet sailed from a port in Sanya city of China’s southernmost island province of Hainan on December 26, 2008. The fleet comprises two destroyers (Haikou and DDG-169 Wuhan) and a supply ship (Weishanhu) from the South China Sea Fleet. The fleet carried about 800 crew members, including 70 soldiers from the Navy’s special force, and was equipped with ship-borne missiles and light weapons.

It is timely to explore this issue given the Chinese motivation in conducting naval operations far away from the mainland for the first time. There seems to be a general consensus among many Chinese military and non-military experts that circumstances were favourable for projecting force at such a distance. Firstly, China has gained enough experience in long distance naval force deployment due its frequent military exchanges with other countries. The logistics problem of supply and refuelling was no longer seen as a constraint. While on its way to the Somalian coast, the fleet displayed its supply and refuelling capability as it entered the Indian Ocean through the Malacca Straits. The supply ship Weishanhu refuelled the two destroyers with several hundred tons of oil, an operation that an official described as “highly efficient”.

The fact that two Chinese ships, a fishing vessel and a Hong Kong-flag ship with a 25-member crew, were seized by Somalian pirates in October 2008 does not qualify as a potential reason for this long distance naval deployment. These hijacks occurred off the Kenyan coast, and the total number of hijacks of Chinese vessels so far constitutes only 0.7 per cent of the total passages. Therefore, the decision may be due to other factors over and above the one involving immediate Chinese interest. Prior to deployment, China explicitly believed that any action in the Gulf of Aden must be carried out within the “United Nations Framework”. In his address to the United Nations on December 16, 2008 China’s Vice Foreign Minister had said that “China is seriously considering sending naval ships to the Gulf of Aden and waters off the Somali coast for escorting operations in the near future.” The minister also added that China appreciated the efforts made by other Navies to curb the problem of piracy. This needs to be contrasted with the Chinese government’s stand on growing intervention based military strategies. The China Defence White Paper, 2000 stated that the UN role in securing international peace was on the decline because of unilateral actions taken by some countries outside the United Nations Security Council framework (e.g. the Kosovo intervention). In the above mentioned address to the UN by the Vice Foreign Minister, he had said that the UN should also attempt to resolve the root causes of piracy in Somalia. The Chinese believe that piracy is a direct consequence of the domestic politico-military-economic condition within Somalia. The transitional federal government in place in Somalia had worked up the power ladder with American support and displaced the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which still holds huge mass support especially in Southern Somalia. This is indicative of US efforts in the war against terrorism. Furthermore, in the absence of multilateral operations under the UN, Somalia may in the future become a scene of unilateral intervention by the US and Britain or both. Piracy thus seems to be only the tip of the iceberg. However, Chinese behaviour is inconsistent with its political rhetoric at least at the level of policy. On June 24, 2007 C.N.O.O.P signed a deal with Somali President Abdullah Yusuf to explore the northern Puntland region for oil. This deal was signed in a hurry prior to the Somali government framing the National Oil Rules (NOR). Chinese firms backed by their government seem to be willing to take economic and political risks which western firms would shy away from. Any unilateral military action by western powers would affect Chinese interests in the region. Like the anti-satellite test in early January 2007, China seems to project its capabilities as part of its extending diplomacy without breaking any rules.

China, which became a permanent member of the UN Security Council only in 1971, did not engage in peace keeping operations until 1989. In 1989, it began its first exploratory foray into UN peacekeeping missions, sending non-military observers to join the UN Namibia Transitional Period Aid Group overseeing a general election. In 1990, China dispatched military observers to the Middle East in support of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). One reason for this transition was the Tiananmen Square incident, when the People’s Liberation Army was caught on the wrong foot with its own people. This incident stimulated the need for the PLA to conduct more people-oriented activities such as disaster relief, domestic security, and other measures, but also, very importantly, participation in UN peacekeeping operations. This transition has now made China the largest contributor by a permanent member of the UN Security Council (in close competition with France).The second reason is the PRC’s concern over sovereignty and its violation through intervention. China was not supportive of UN mandated Blue Helmet operations due to its national experience. During the Cold War, the United Nations had formally sanctioned the use of force only once and China itself was at the receiving end during the UN-mandated operations in the Korean Peninsula in the early 1950s. With the Cold War world order overthrown in this era of intense economic interdependence, China’s concern seems to be reorienting. The third reason could be that Chinese concerns over Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang, which, if left uncontrolled, could become cases for intervention.

Another important motivation behind the decision to deploy a Chinese naval force off Somalia could be the fact that this involves the African continent where Beijing has substantial economic investments. Chinese leaders have been frequenting Africa since 2000. As a leading importer of crude oil, China depends on Africa for 25 per cent of its oil needs, which is projected to go up to 40 per cent by 2020. It has granted extensive debt packages to Africa on a no strings attached basis and its bilateral trade is expected with the continent is expected to touch US $100 billion by 2010. Suffice it to say that China’s stakes and advantages in Africa are high. The overall expected output of oil by Chinese firms in Africa is 78 million tons (presently the output is 40.3 million tons). China also depends on Saudi Arabia for its crude oil imports and has huge markets in Europe. Chinese merchant ships will have to necessarily frequent the waters off the Somali coast.

Given the country’s limited force projection capability, China’s action is consistent with its overall policy strategy of creating an international order that is different from the Cold War order. Securing international peace and development is currently an objective of China’s foreign policy. The current international environment will only help China achieve its strategic and developmental goals. It will enhance its image as a responsible power in the twenty first century and give it the experience to conduct naval operations far from its shores.

A few decades ago, while articulating new ways to use the National Defence Force (NFD), Deng Xiaoping’s had stated that “When our country is developed and more prosperous, we shall have a bigger role to play in the world.” After almost three decades this seems to be coming true.

S.Rajasimman is Research Assistant at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.

Soft Toilet Paper: Mankind’s Doom?

Soft Toilet Paper: Mankind’s Doom? By Ryan Young
Open Market/CEI, February 28, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

The kerfuffle over soft toilet paper has hit a new low. The NRDC’s Allen Hershkowitz is now saying that “People just don’t understand that softness equals ecological destruction.”

I had to chuckle after reading that last sentence (it is silly, is it not?). But then I decided to take Hershkowitz seriously. Hardcore environmentalists like the NRDC are sometimes loosey-goosey with the data; science and their religion rarely get along.

Let’s see how big the impact of softer toilet paper really is. Maybe, hyperbole aside, Hershkowitz has a point. Let’s look at the data and find out.

Despite the proliferation of tree-intensive soft toilet paper, forest area in the U.S. has remained almost unchanged over the last century. Right around 33% of total land area.

Over that same time period, U.S. population more than tripled. That’s a lot more bottoms, demanding ever softer toilet paper. And yet — no net deforestation.

That doesn’t sound like ecological destruction. To use one of the New Religion’s buzzwords, that sounds… sustainable.

Deforestation is happening on a worldwide scale, according to a handy table from the Earth Policy Institute (data from the UN). They try to make it sound scary, but it isn’t. I crunched the numbers. The decline amounts to roughly 0.2% per year. Not exactly a crisis. Even that slow rate appears to be in decline.

I’m going to go ahead and say that Hershkowitz and the NRDC are promoting a baseless scare story.

There is still a tremendous upside to all this hemming and hawing. If toilet paper is all that environmental activists have to get worked up over these days, it is a sign that, environmentally speaking, we live in good times.

It’s Time to Consider the Cost of Regulation

It’s Time to Consider the Cost of Regulation. By Clyde Wayne Crews
CEI, February 26, 2009

As President Obama took the podium Tuesday night, all minds were fixed on the economy. As expected, the President addressed the economy first, front and center. “Now is the time to act boldly and wisely,” he said, “to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity.”

However, if by “boldly and wisely” he means increasing government spending to unprecedented levels, the near future will bring not a foundation for lasting growth, but a still-limping economy.

The President praised the passage of the $787-billion stimulus bill "the largest spending bill in history. While a lot of that money will go back into the economy, it will do so according to decisions made by politicians and regulators. In other words, it’s all top down.

A better approach is to empower citizens and businesses "who pay the taxes, anyhow "to stimulate from the bottom up. Unfortunately, removing burdensome regulations on businesses, both large and small, hasn’t figured much into the economic recovery program thus far. But alternatives to “porkulus” and “bailout to nowhere” do exist.Let’s call it “liberate to stimulate.” Such a campaign would include fiscal reforms (both taxing and spending), deregulatory stimulus, infrastructure investment liberalization, financial reforms that shift risk back on the institutions rather than on taxpayers, a regulatory reduction commission, and much more.

Starting from the basics of the free market, we can go a long way toward laying the right foundation for unimpeded economic recovery.

Consider regulation of business in America today. We’ve all heard of the trillions of dollars in new government spending. But the compliance costs generated by thousands of regulations pouring forth from over 50 departments, agencies and commissions impose another trillion-plus more, as CEI’s Ten Thousand Commandments survey shows.

Agency bureaucrats don’t answer to voters. Congress, although responsible for the underlying statutes that propel those agencies, can blame the agencies for regulatory excesses. That’s how we get “regulation without representation.”

Administrative reforms like cost-benefit analysis cannot tame the regulatory state as long as agencies themselves get to evaluate the benefits of their own rules, and as long as legislative constraints on the scope of the regulatory state remain weak.Thus, reducing the scope of government control in the economy is the true end game. But until then, measures like a regulatory budget could promote accountability by limiting the amount of regulatory costs that agencies can impose on the private sector, and holding Congress responsible for those costs.

Of course, regulatory costs can never be precisely measured, so a budget could not achieve absolute precision. And enforcement will never be easy, since agencies will have incentives to overstate benefits and understate compliance costs. Still, regulatory budgeting could help restore congressional primacy in the legislative and rulemaking processes from which regulations spring.

As information "sorely lacking now "accumulates, Congress can begin to divide a “total” budget among agencies roughly in proportion to potential benefits, such as lives saved. Agencies’ incentives would be to rank hazards from most to least severe, and address them within their budget constraint. Unwise regulating could mean transfer of the squandered budgetary allocation to a “rival” agency, while Congress would weigh an agency’s claimed benefits against alternative means of protecting public health and safety.

A well designed regulatory budget should explicitly recognize that agencies’ basic impulse is to overstate the benefits of its activities, and therefore relieve agencies of benefit calculation responsibilities altogether.

Other ways to promote the success of a budget are to: start small, compile a periodic “report card” on the numbers and costs of regulations in each agency, establish a regulatory cost freeze, set up a Regulatory Reduction Commission to assemble a package of regulations to cut, and employ separate budgets for economic regulation and environmental/social regulation.

A regulatory budget will not magically reduce the current $1.3- trillion annual regulatory burden. But better information about the size and scope of the regulatory state will aid future economic stimulus efforts. And as Washington sets out on a massive growth spurt, any enhancement of congressional accountability and limitations on the delegation of regulatory power can only help.

Wayne Crews is Vice President for Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Why Acquisition Reform Fails

Why Acquisition Reform Fails, by Benjamin H. Friedman
Cato at Liberty, Feb 27, 2009

Senators Carl Levin and John McCain this week introduced legislation to improve how the Pentagon buys things — defense acquisition reform. The President is on the same page. So chances are the Pentagon’s acquisition workforce will have a new set of rules to learn some time this year.

Here’s the bill. Highlights: a series of new reporting requirements about systems analysis of new programs, a new official to come up with cost estimates of weapons systems, another official to oversee developmental testing, a requirement for competitive prototyping of new weapons, which can be waived, and an effort to make waiving Nunn-McCurty breaches a little more onerous (the idea was that you cancel weapons systems that experience excessive cost growth, but it never happens), plus some other minor bureaucratic changes. McCain claims that the legislation will cut back on cost plus contracts in favor of the fixed price variety, but the legislation does not address that.

At best this bill will create some marginal improvements in defense acquisition. More likely it will simply add hassle.

Acquisition reform is practically seasonal at the Pentagon, as this PowerPoint slide show comically demonstrates. And things have only gotten worse — more programs over budget and behind schedule over time. (Read this recent testimony from a Congressional Research Service expert for details.) According to another expert, former Pentagon weapons testing chief Tom Christie, the trouble is not the existing acquisition rules but the failure to use them to control costs. He says so in a chapter for the book America’s Defense Meltdown, which we will be discussing here at a forum on March 13.

The reasons for the failure of acquisition reform are complicated, but one surely is that these are technocratic solutions to political problems. The trouble is what we want, which is several technological miracles in each new platform, not how we buy it, as my professor and sometimes co-author Harvey Sapolsky explains in a recent Defense News op-ed:

The truth is you can’t fix the acquisition system. All the insiders know this…We can’t fix it because we want crazy things. We want a system that can fire missiles from a submarine hiding beneath the surface of the sea and hit a target thousands of miles away. Or we want a tank that can survive a shaped charge round, pack its own lethal punch and is airlifted by a C-130.

Systems have to perform reliably in the snow, in the mud, in the sand. They have to communicate with every friend and not reveal themselves to any foe. And we want them soon, not later.

Worse, we already have a lot of first-class ships, aircraft, missiles and tanks; proposed new weapon systems have to be a lot better than them or any obvious modification we can make. To be worthy of our approval, the advocates of the new system have to dazzle us with expectations of what will soon be in our arsenal, something no enemy can match. It will likely cost billions, but it will be great.

With that gleam in their eye, the services seek bids for the weapons that will define their futures. Only a few contractors can qualify to make offers. After all, only a few firms know the acquisition regulations well enough and have sufficient engineering talent to manage complex projects.

Moreover, government-encouraged mergers have further thinned the ranks of eligible firms. Given that new starts in most weapon lines are once-in-a-decade-or-more events, project awards are survival tests. Not surprisingly, false optimism abounds.

For more, read his recently co-authored book.

What about using more fixed price contracts and less cost-plus contracts, as McCain suggests? Isn’t it obvious that unless you pay someone a set price rather than whatever he says it costs, he will rip you off? Actually, no, not in defense contracting. Chris Preble and I addressed this in an oped last October:

In a cost-plus contract, the contractor gets paid whatever it costs to make a good, plus a profit. McCain claims that these agreements encourage contractors to spend as much possible and send the government the bill. This argument is confused. Defense contractors have essentially one customer: the Pentagon. Repeatedly gouging your only customer, one with a small army of auditors, is likely to lead to bankruptcy.

New technology is hard to price. If we used fixed price contracts— as McCain proposes—for new complex projects, like the next-generation bomber the air force will soon build, the contractors would simply ask for more money up front to limit their risks. If we force a low price on them, they will likely blow through what is allocated and ask for a new contract. Because military services badly want the weapons they contract for—and starting over would take years—Pentagon officials would then be forced to rewrite the deal.

What acquisition reform would work? It might help to increase the number of civilian acquisition overseers and pay them more, given that their workload has expanded, and to allow them more flexibility in their work, not less, as this legislation would. But these are still minor fixes. You can’t fix acquisition until you change the incentive structure that produces its outcomes. Until the services and their Congressional backers start to accept platforms that push the technological envelop less, the problems will persist.

The Obama–Brown White House Talks: The U.S.–U.K. Special Relationship Must Be Maintained

The Obama–Brown White House Talks: The U.S.–U.K. Special Relationship Must Be Maintained. By Nile Gardiner, Ph.D.
Heritage, March 1, 2009
WebMemo #2317

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be the first European leader to meet with President Barack Obama when he visits the White House on March 3. The two world leaders are expected to discuss a range of issues, including the war in Afghanistan, the Iranian nuclear threat, and the global financial crisis, as well as the upcoming G-20 talks in London and the NATO 60th anniversary summit in Strasbourg/Kehl.

In addition to meeting with the President, Brown will address a joint session of Congress on March 4, making him only the fifth British prime minister to be given the honor.

A Shift Away from Britain?

The Brown–Obama meeting will be overshadowed by growing concerns about a possible weakening of the U.S.–U.K. Special Relationship, tensions over strategy in the war in Afghanistan, and the threat of a renewed American protectionism.

The Anglo-American alliance is being eroded on several fronts, from falling levels of U.K. defense spending and the gutting of Britain's armed forces by the Labour government to the gradual erosion of British sovereignty in Europe and the rise of a European Union defense identity now being backed by Washington. It is also threatened by the new U.S. Administration's apathy and indifference toward the U.K.

President Obama's surprise decision to remove a bust of Sir Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and return it to the British government sent an early signal to London that the new Administration will adopt a far less robust approach toward the historic Anglo-American alliance. The White House is already recalibrating the alliance as a "special partnership," —not a "special relationship"—a subtle play on words indicating a potential shift away from a decades-long policy of according Britain a unique status as America's most important ally.

U.S. Overtures to Europe

The Obama White House is keen to significantly strengthen America's relationship with both France and Germany, continental Europe's biggest powers, as well as with Brussels, the institutional heart of the European Union. This approach is partly the product of a distinctly pro-European outlook on the part of the new Administration following transatlantic tensions during the Bush Administration. It is also based on a naive belief that major European allies will actually increase defense spending and reduce the burden on America and that the EU will play a more supportive role in world affairs alongside the United States.

Washington is already making major concessions to France in the NATO alliance, with French officers reportedly in line to take two senior NATO command positions: Allied Command Transformation (one of NATO's two supreme commands, based in Norfolk, Virginia) and Joint Command Lisbon (one of NATO's three main operations headquarters, which also commands the NATO Rapid Reaction Force).

The White House is also sending clear signals that it supports a greater military and defense role for the European Union. In his speech at the Munich Security Conference in early February, Vice President Joe Biden made it clear that the United States will "support the further strengthening of European defense, an increased role for the European Union in preserving peace and security, [and] a fundamentally stronger NATO–EU partnership."

Anglo-American Leadership Is Needed

Since the Second World War, there has scarcely been a more important period for joint U.S.–British leadership. The Anglo-American Special Relationship would be imperiled if the new U.S. Administration looks to Brussels instead of London for its most important strategic partnership. Jeopardizing this relationship would be a huge mistake. The EU is obsessed with challenging American global leadership rather than working with it, and the European Project is ultimately all about building a counterweight to American power.

The Obama–Brown White House meeting will be an important opportunity for the President and the Prime Minister to establish a stronger framework for Anglo-American cooperation on the world stage, particularly in regard to key issues such as Afghanistan, the future of NATO, and the Iranian nuclear crisis.The War in Afghanistan

Despite all the fashionable rhetoric in European capitals about Iraq being a distraction from the war against the Taliban, on the battlefields of Afghanistan almost two-thirds of the 47,000 troops currently serving as part of the 40-nation NATO-led International Security Assistance Force are from the English-speaking countries of the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia. These nations have also taken roughly 85 percent of the casualties. Britain has nearly as many troops in the country as all the other major European Union powers combined, some of whom, like Germany, cower under dozens of "caveats" aimed at keeping their troops out of harm's way. The United States has pledged to send an additional 17,000 troops, and the U.K. is also considering the deployment of further forces to boost the nearly 9,000 British soldiers already serving in Helmand province.

President Obama and Prime Minister Brown should directly challenge European complacency and indifference over Afghanistan and issue a strong statement calling on European allies to pull their weight in the conflict by sending more combat troops to the south of the country. NATO is a war-fighting alliance, not a peacekeeping organization. The stakes are extremely high, and there is a danger that the brutal Taliban, backed by al-Qaeda, will reassert control over vast swathes of the country.

Europe's NATO members must make a no-strings attached commitment to step up to the plate and bear a bigger part of the burden. If this does not happen, the consequences for the future of the alliance will be dire. European apathy over Afghanistan threatens to tear NATO apart, and an institution that has for decades succeeded as the most effective international organization of its time could become irrelevant. It is time for French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and other European leaders to roll up their sleeves and commit their troops and resources to winning the war against the Taliban.

The Future of NATO

In the lead-up to the NATO 60th anniversary summit, both the United States and Great Britain must take a step back and launch a fundamental, wide-ranging review of the long-term implications of French demands for the future of the alliance.

It would be a huge strategic error of judgment by the new U.S. Administration and the British government to support French ambitions for restructuring Europe's security architecture. This would ultimately weaken the Anglo-American Special Relationship as the engine of the transatlantic alliance and pave the way for the development of a separate European Union defense identity, which will ultimately undermine NATO.

Washington and London must also commit to advancing the expansion of the NATO alliance—specifically the inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine in the Membership Action Plan. The new U.S. Administration, together with Britain, should send a clear signal to Moscow that NATO expansion is an internal matter for the alliance and not open to Russian veto. A firm commitment must also be made by the Obama Administration to establish a third site missile defense system in Eastern and Central Europe, a vital part of a global defense shield that is needed to protect the West from rogue regimes such as Iran.

The Iranian Nuclear Threat

President Obama and Prime Minister Brown should issue a strong statement calling for the strengthening of both U.N. Security Council and European sanctions against Tehran. The U.S. and British leaders must push for European countries to support a complete investment freeze—including a ban on investment in Iranian liquefied natural gas operations—and the possible use of military force as a last resort against Iran's nuclear facilities. They should reject the idea of direct negotiations with a tyranny that has threatened to wipe a key ally, Israel, off the face of the earth. This is a time for tough resolve in the face of an extremely dangerous foe—a rogue state close to nuclear capability ruled by fanatical Islamists that will have no qualms about using their power to dominate the Middle East or to arm a wide array of proxy international terrorist groups.

The EU has tried to negotiate with Tehran for several years under the guise of "constructive engagement," an approach that has resulted in an emboldened Iran that grows closer by the day to building a nuclear weapon. The EU's policy toward Iran has been all carrot and no stick—a futile exercise that has achieved nothing but failure.

Great Britain Is America's Most Reliable Friend

The Special Relationship is vital to American and British interests on many levels, from military, diplomatic, and intelligence cooperation to transatlantic trading ties. If President Obama does not invest in its preservation, the end result will be a weaker United States that is less able to stand up to terrorism and tyranny, and project power and influence on the world stage.

Whether waging war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, standing up to the Russian bear, or halting Iran's nuclear ambitions, President Obama should maintain the Anglo-American Special Relationship as the centerpiece of the transatlantic alliance. As nearly every post-war President has found, when it comes to securing the free world, there is simply no alternative to U.S.–British leadership

Nile Gardiner is the Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation. Erica Munkwitz assisted with research for this paper.