Monday, February 16, 2009

Earth to the New York Times: Clinton's China policy isn't new

Earth to the New York Times: Clinton's China policy isn't new. By Christian Brose
Shadow Government/FP, Sun, 02/15/2009 - 5:38pm

In keeping with Dan Twining's excellent observations about Asia, I found this New York Times article about Hillary Clinton's trip, well, strange:
Signaling a new, more vigorous approach to China, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared Friday that the United States had nothing to fear from an economically ascendant Beijing and that it would press Chinese leaders on delicate issues like human rights and climate change.

In her first major speech as secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton drew a clear line between the Obama administration’s approach and that of the Bush White House, which viewed China more as a rival than a partner and kept relations fixed on economic matters like exchange rates.

“Some believe that China on the rise is by definition an adversary,” she said at the Asia Society in New York on the eve of a trip to China and other Asian countries. “To the contrary, we believe the United States and China benefit from, and contribute to, each other’s successes.”
Now, when it comes to Clinton's speech at the Asia Society last Friday, what is remarkable about it is simply that I could have written about 95 percent of it for Condoleezza Rice. This is a good thing, of course, as it reminds us of the large degree of bispartisan agreement that defines U.S. policy in Asia today, including on China policy.

When it comes to the New York Times, however, what is remarkable is how completely ignorant they seem to be of any of this. It's as if the Times had been living under a rock these past eight years. Because last I checked, it was the Bush administration, in its second term, that finally got us beyond the tired old debate about whether China is a "strategic partner" to be engaged (Bill Clinton's approach) or a "strategic threat" to be contained (Bush's first-term approach), recognizing instead that China's rise is a geopolitical fact and the real question now is how China will use its great power. In short, will China be a free-rider on U.S. global leadership or a responsible stakeholder?

The Bush administration's preference was the latter, and that's why it expanded U.S.-China cooperation on global issues such as nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea, pandemic diseases like avian influenza, global trade and development, climate change and energy security, and even the violence in Darfur -- all the while hedging against China's untransparent military build-up to give Beijing a hard incentive to choose the responsible stakeholder path.

This, in a nutshell, is exactly the alleged "shift" in China policy that Clinton laid out and that the Obama administration will likely follow. Is it too much to ask the New York Times to recognize this?

Conservative views: Hyperventilating About the Exclusionary Rule

Hyperventilating About the Exclusionary Rule, by Matthew J. Franck
Bench Memos/NRO, Feb 16, 2009

For the second time in a little more than a fortnight, writers named Adam at the New York Times are getting altogether too excited about the grim fate that awaits the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule under the Roberts Court. First there was Adam Liptak, successor to Linda Greenhouse in covering the Court, who suggested on January 31 that "the exclusionary rule itself might be at risk" thanks to a January 14 ruling in Herring v. United States. Today it's editorial writer Adam Cohen sounding the same alarm, saying that "Chief Justice John Roberts's conservative majority on the Supreme Court is working to undo the exclusionary rule." Both Adams remind us that, as a young lawyer working in the Reagan Justice Department, Roberts wrote a memo critical of the exclusionary rule.

Breathe into the paper bag, boys. The Herring decision is really pretty ordinary, and simply applies a principle established a quarter century ago in United States v. Leon: that when law enforcement officers rely in good faith on what they believe to be a valid warrant, and that warrant is subsequently found to be invalid, the evidence the officers obtain by virtue of it will not be excluded. The exclusionary rule is not, the Court emphasized in the Leon case, a command of the Constitution itself. It is a remedial rule the Court itself invented as a deterrent to police misconduct. When its application would have no deterrent effect, its use is inappropriate. Leon and Herring are practically indistinguishable. In the 1984 case, an evidentiary hearing long after the search resulted in the warrant being invalidated because an affidavit was held insufficient to establish probable cause. In last month's case, an unintended failure to keep computer records up to date across local jurisdictions resulted in officers acting on a warrant they had no way of knowing had been withdrawn. No police misconduct occurred in either case, and it's hard to see how future deliberate misconduct could slip under the umbrella of either ruling, so long as courts remain interested in the validity of warrants and the honesty of policemen.

I would not be sad to see the exclusionary rule go. It is a perverse instrument for vindicating the Fourth Amendment, and was wholly unknown to the founding generation. But there's no sign that the Roberts Court has lost its interest in maintaining it. Neither is there any reason to suppose that Herring, which like Leon involved a case where there was a warrant (apparently) at the time the officers acted, will lead to a broad approval by the Court of searches where no warrant was ever in existence at all.

But facts are no deterrent to New York Times writers. In today's piece, Cohen even has the gall to write that "in the last few years" while a supposedly terrible (but actually nonexistent) erosion of the rule has been happening, "the federal government engaged in an illegal domestic wiretapping program." Is there some requirement that writers for newspapers keep up with the news? As we learned last month, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review held last August that the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement does not apply "when surveillance is conducted to obtain foreign intelligence for national security purposes and is directed against foreign powers or agents of foreign powers reasonably believed to be located outside the United States."

Time to take the bag away from one's face and look around, don't you think?

Libertarian views: No "Footprint," No Life

No "Footprint," No Life. By Keith Lockitch
Washington Times, January 9, 2008

h/t Wayne Crews, Openmarket

As environmentalism continues to grow in prominence, more and more of us are trying to live a "greener" lifestyle. But the more "eco-friendly" you try to become, likely the more you find yourself confused and frustrated by the green message.

Have you tried giving up your bright and cheery incandescent light bulbs to save energy--only to learn that their gloomy-but-efficient compact fluorescent replacements contain mercury? Perhaps you’ve tried to free up space in landfills by foregoing the ease and convenience of disposable diapers--only to be criticized for the huge quantities of energy and water consumed in laundering those nasty cloth diapers. Even voicing support for renewable energy no longer seems to be green enough, as angry environmentalists protest the development of "pristine lands" for wind farms and solar power plants.

Why is it that no matter what sacrifices you make to try to reduce your "environmental footprint," it never seems to be enough?

Well, consider why it is that you have an "environmental footprint" in the first place.
Everything we do to sustain our lives has an impact on nature. Every value we create to advance our well-being--every ounce of food we grow, every structure we build, every iPhone we manufacture--is produced by extracting raw materials and reshaping them to serve our needs. Every good thing in our lives comes from altering nature for our own benefit.

From the perspective of human life and happiness, a big "environmental footprint" is an enormous positive. This is why people in India and China are striving to increase theirs: to build better roads, more cars and computers, new factories and power plants and hospitals.

But for environmentalism, the size of your "footprint" is the measure of your guilt. Nature, according to green philosophy, is something to be left alone--to be preserved untouched by human activity. Their notion of an "environmental footprint" is intended as a measure of how much you "disturb" nature, with disturbing nature viewed as a sin requiring atonement. Just as the Christian concept of original sin conveys the message that human beings are stained with evil simply for having been born, the green concept of an "environmental footprint" implies that you should feel guilty for your very existence.

It should hardly be any surprise, then, that nothing you do to try to lighten your "footprint" will ever be deemed satisfactory. So long as you are still pursuing life-sustaining activities, whatever you do to reduce your impact on nature in one respect (e.g., cloth diapers) will simply lead to other impacts in other respects (e.g., water use)--like some perverse game of green whack-a-mole--and will be attacked and condemned by greens outraged at whatever "footprint" remains. So long as you still have some "footprint," further penance is required; so long as you are still alive, no degree of sacrifice can erase your guilt.

The only way to leave no "footprint" would be to die--a conclusion that is not lost on many green ideologues. Consider the premise of the nonfiction bestseller titled "The World Without Us," which fantasizes about how the earth would "recover" if all humanity suddenly became extinct. Or consider the chilling, anti-human conclusion of an op-ed discussing cloth versus disposable diapers: "From the earth’s point of view, it’s not all that important which kind of diapers you use. The important decision was having the baby."

The next time you trustingly adopt a "green solution" like fluorescent lights, cloth diapers or wind farms, only to be puzzled when met with still further condemnation and calls for even more sacrifices, remember what counts as a final solution for these ideologues.

The only rational response to such a philosophy is to challenge it at its core. We must acknowledge that it is the essence of human survival to reshape nature for our own benefit, and that far from being a sin, it is our highest virtue. Don’t be fooled by the cries that industrial civilization is "unsustainable." This cry dates to at least the 19th century, but is belied by the facts. Since the Industrial Revolution, population and life expectancy, to say nothing of the enjoyment of life, have steadily grown.

It is time to recognize environmentalism as a philosophy of guilt and sacrifice--and to reject it in favor of a philosophy that proudly upholds the value of human life.

Keith Lockitch, PhD in physics, is a fellow at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, focusing on science and environmentalism. The Ayn Rand Center is a division of the Ayn Rand Institute and promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

CIA Helped India, Pakistan Share Secrets in Probe of Mumbai Siege

CIA Helped India, Pakistan Share Secrets in Probe of Mumbai Siege. By Joby Warrick and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post, Monday, February 16, 2009; Page A01

In the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the CIA orchestrated back-channel intelligence exchanges between India and Pakistan, allowing the two former enemies to quietly share highly sensitive evidence while the Americans served as neutral arbiters, according to U.S. and foreign government sources familiar with the arrangement.

The exchanges, which began days after the deadly assault in late November, gradually helped the two sides overcome mutual suspicions and paved the way for Islamabad's announcement last week acknowledging that some of the planning for the attack had occurred on Pakistani soil, the sources said.

The intelligence went well beyond the public revelations about the 10 Mumbai terrorists, and included sophisticated communications intercepts and an array of physical evidence detailing how the gunmen and their supporters planned and executed their three-day killing spree in the Indian port city. Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies separately shared their findings with the CIA, which relayed the details while also vetting the intelligence and filling in blanks with gleanings from its networks, the sources said. The U.S. role was described in interviews with Pakistani officials and confirmed by U.S. sources with detailed knowledge of the arrangement. The arrangement is ongoing, and it is unknown whether it will continue after the Mumbai case is settled.

Officials from both countries said the unparalleled cooperation was a factor in Pakistan's decision to bring criminal charges against nine Pakistanis accused of involvement in the attack, a move that appeared to signal a thawing of tensions on the Indian subcontinent after weeks of rhetorical warfare.

"India shared evidence bilaterally, but that's not what cinched it," said a senior Pakistani official familiar with the exchanges. "It was the details, shared between intelligence agencies, with the CIA serving mainly as a bridge." The FBI also participated in the vetting process, he said.

A U.S. government official with detailed knowledge of the sharing arrangement said the effort ultimately enabled the Pakistani side to "deal as forthrightly as possible with the fallout from Mumbai," he said. U.S. and Pakistani officials who described the arrangement agreed to do so on the condition of anonymity, citing diplomatic and legal sensitivities. Indian officials declined to comment for this story.

"Intelligence has been a good bridge," the U.S. official said. "Everyone on the American side went into this with their eyes open, aware of the history, the complexities, the tensions. But at least the two countries are talking, not shooting."

The U.S. effort to foster cooperation was begun under the Bush administration and given new emphasis by an Obama White House that fears that a renewed India-Pakistan conflict could undermine progress in Afghanistan -- and possibly lead to nuclear war. The new administration sees Pakistan as central to its evolving Afghan war strategy, and also recognizes that it cannot "do Pakistan without doing India," as Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, put it in a recent interview.

"In an ideal world, the challenge associated with Mumbai -- handled well, led well -- would lead to the two working together," he said.

There is little public support for rapprochement, and domestic politics in both countries often dictate hostility rather than cooperation.

Mullen said he hoped the countries could restore some of the goodwill lost in the Mumbai case.
Despite public and political criticism, the two governments had taken "significant steps" in the months preceding Mumbai to diminish the tensions between them over the long-standing Kashmir territorial dispute. But after Nov. 26, "a lot was put aside [and] suspended."

The Mumbai attack was staged by 10 heavily armed terrorists who rampaged through the city for three days, killing more than 170 people and wounding more than 300. Nine of the terrorists were killed, but the lone survivor confessed that the assault had been planned in Pakistan by Lashkar-i-Taiba, a group that seeks independence for Indian-controlled Kashmir. India has asserted that elements of Pakistan's government or intelligence services provided logistical support for the attack, an accusation that Islamabad flatly denies.

In recent days, Pakistan has moved aggressively against Lashkar-i-Taiba and allied groups, and has signaled its intention to work more closely with India. A Pakistani government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, insisted that Islamabad's commitment was genuine.

"Any Pakistanis who are shown to have been involved will be treated as the criminals they are," he said. He predicted that the two governments would cooperate to an unprecedented degree in upcoming prosecutions and trials, which he said will occur separately in the two countries with participation from both sides. He described Pakistan's response as decisive and "proof that we will not tolerate" groups that support terrorism.

Such policies pose clear risks for the embattled government of President Asif Ali Zardari, who faces a domestic backlash for cracking down on groups that Pakistan helped establish years ago as part of its anti-India strategy. Zardari also has come under fire for tolerating occasional U.S. missile strikes against suspected terrorists inside Pakistan's autonomous tribal region near the Afghan border. A strike Saturday reportedly killed 27, most of them foreign fighters.
"This is a dangerous path for him," said Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council of the United States. A sustained clampdown would require a sustained commitment by the civilian government and the army, and far more arrests than the 124 already announced, Nawaz said.

India, meanwhile, has been eager for the United States to pressure Pakistan on terrorism in general and Mumbai in particular. But it has long rejected any attempt to interfere in Kashmir.
Early this month, a senior Indian official recalled that Barack Obama had suggested a linkage during the presidential campaign, saying in a foreign policy essay that he would "encourage dialogue" on Kashmir so that Pakistan could pay more attention to terrorists on its border with Afghanistan.

If Obama "does have any such views," Indian National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan told Indian television, "then he is barking up the wrong tree." Narayanan said India had made clear to Washington when Richard C. Holbrooke was appointed the administration's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan that India-Pakistan relations should not be part of his portfolio.

Holbrooke, who plans a stop in New Delhi at the end of his tour of the region, appeared to agree in a report last month by the New York-based Asia Society, where he was chairman before his appointment. The report called for Obama to continue the "de-hyphenation" of U.S. foreign policy toward India and Pakistan practiced by the Bush administration.

Concerned about China and searching for a positive new foreign policy headline at a low point in the Iraq war, Bush policymakers tried to elevate India to the status of major U.S. partner. The centerpiece of the policy was a bilateral civil nuclear agreement signed by Bush last year but still awaiting final action by Obama.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, asked last week about the agreement, responded vaguely that "I don't have the specifics of where we are on this particular day with regard to implementation, but it is certainly something that we want to see happen, and nothing more beyond that."

WaPo: tacke global warming with a carbon tax, not with cap-and-trade

Climate Change Solutions. WaPo Editorial
Sen. Boxer is open to everything -- except what might work best.
WaPo, Monday, February 16, 2009; Page A14

THE SIX "Principles for Global Warming Legislation" released recently by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) were notable for what they lacked. There were no specific greenhouse gas emissions targets. There was no determination on an auction of pollution permits vs. giving some or most of them away to polluters initially. But Ms. Boxer was clear on one thing: There will be no consideration of a carbon tax. Sure, the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee said, "We're willing to look at everything . . . ." But she ended that declaration with ". . . but we believe cap-and-trade is the way to go."

Ms. Boxer's principles include enforceable reductions with periodic review. States and localities should be allowed to forge ahead on their own efforts to fight global warming. A transparent carbon market should be established. The proceeds generated by it would fund clean energy technology and assist the transition by consumers, manufacturers, states and localities to a clean energy economy.

Cap-and-trade regimes have advantages, notably the ability to set a limit on emissions and to integrate with other countries. But they are complex and vulnerable to lobbying and special pleading, and they do not guarantee success.

The experience of the European Union is Exhibit A. Emissions targets were set too high. Too many pollution allowances were given away to industry. The value of a carbon credit plummeted. Companies made windfall profits by charging customers more for energy while selling allowances they didn't need. And the Europeans have not had much success reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Disputes on the next round of reductions led to the creation of a two-tiered system to appease Eastern European countries fearful of the cost to their industries.

A carbon tax, by contrast, is simple and sure in its effects. Last summer, when gas prices shot up past $4 a gallon, average miles driven dropped significantly, as did energy consumption. Demand for fuel-efficient cars and overall energy efficiency skyrocketed. If high prices were the result of a gas tax, that money would have stayed in the United States rather than lining the pockets of oil-rich regimes all too happy to feed the U.S. addiction to fossil fuels. As with a cap-and-trade system, the money generated by a carbon tax could be given back to the American people.

Alluding to the climate change bill that failed in the Senate last June, Ms. Boxer said that her committee would be "starting afresh." What better way to do that than by giving a tax on carbon a fair hearing?