Max Boot, Unchastened by History of Faulty Predictions, Offers New Ideas for Iraq

Among the proposals? Higher incarceration rates–more like New York, you see–and invading Syria!

Another necessity is to go more aggressively after foreign fighters. They comprise a relatively small percentage of the overall insurgency, but they account for a very high percentage of the most grotesque attacks–80 to 90 percent of all suicide bombings, according to General Petraeus’s briefing with Pentagon reporters on April 26. These jihadists are of many nationalities, but most infiltrate from Syria. The Bush administration has repeatedly vowed that Syria would suffer unspecified consequences if it did not cut off this terrorist pipeline, but so far this has been an empty threat. The administration has refused to authorize Special Operations forces to hit terrorist safe houses and “rat lines” on the Syrian side of the border, even though international law recognizes the right of “hot pursuit” and holds states liable for letting their territory be used to stage attacks on neighbors. It’s high time to unleash our covert operators–Delta Force, the SEALs, and other units in the Joint Special Operations Command–to take the fight to the enemy. They can stage low-profile raids with great precision, and Syrian president Bashar Assad would have scant ability to retaliate.

Do they ever learn? These people sound like broken records.

Title reference here, among other places.

Update: I’m afraid I’ve not been checking the Commentary magazine blog often enough, where Boot has offered up this gem.  In the course of critiquing Edward Luttwak’s article in on counterinsurgency, Boot observes that nowhere does

Luttwak mention the many counterinsurgencies that have been waged successfully along the lines advocated by the new field manual. The list is a long one, including the British prosecution of the first Boer war and the U.S. success in the Philippine uprising, among others.

I can’t imagine Conrad Crane and Gen. Petraeus would point to those two examples as the shining image of what can happen if FM 3-24 is followed.  The reference to the First Boer War has to be a typo—proponents of American imperialism generally refer to the Second Boer War as a model for our current efforts; the British at least won the second of the Boer wars, though they resorted to innovative tactics like concentration camps and a “scorched Earth” policy

Boot’s written approvingly before of American atrocities in the Philippines, but it’s remarkable that he’s now tried to rope in Crane’s and Petraeus’ voices as having endorsed the barbarism of the “U.S. success in the Philippine uprising.”  Wow.

Landlords Drafted into War on Illegal Immigration

A couple of weeks ago, I testified in the House Immigration Subcommittee on the difficulties with, and undesirability of, a national employment verification system. Beyond some costly and inconvenient, bleeding-edge tech solutions, there’s no way to confirm on a mass scale that people are legally entitled to work under our immigration law - not without putting a national ID in the hands of every American.

I observed that such a system, once built, wouldn’t be restricted to employment, but would naturally expand:

Were an electronic employment verification system in place, it could easily be extended to other uses. Failing to reduce the “magnet” of work, electronic employment verification could be converted to housing control. Why not require landlords and home-sellers to seek federal approval of leases and sales so as not to give shelter to illegal aliens? Electronic employment verification could create better federal control of financial services, and health care, to name two more.It need not be limited to immigration control, of course. Electronic verification could be used to find wanted murderers, and it would move quickly down the chain to enforcement of unpaid parking tickets and “use taxes.” Electronic employment verification charts a course for expanded federal surveillance and control of all Americans’ lives.

Now comes news that a suburb of Dallas has become the first in the nation to prohibit renting to illegal immigrants. It requires apartment managers to verify that renters are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants before leasing to them.

A policy like this doubles-down on the error of enlisting employers into immigration law enforcement, and it shows how immigration law creates pressure to expand domestic surveillance. “The policy that will dissipate the need for electronic verification by fostering legality is aligning immigration law with the economic interests of the American people. Legal immigration levels should be increased,” I testified.

But you knew that if you’ve been following this stuff.

Nonsensical Tax Analysis from Southeastern Europe

While many nations in the region are reaping enormous benefits after adopting a flat tax, Croatia has been a laggard. Tax rates are high and the burden of government is stifling productive forces. Yet politicians, academics, and business insiders are trying to convince themselves that the status quo is acceptable.

The Croatian tax system is not far behind the Austrian system, and is a competitive and modern system, said Christian Widhal from Vienna University at a round table on taxes held in Zagreb Monday. …“Don’t change taxes. Don’t practice on people as people are tired of tax changes. A stable tax system is fundamental for the stimulation of investments. Not even the rates are as crucial as stability, longevity and predictability of the tax system,” said [Chamber of Economy Chairman] Vidosevic. …Suker also brushed up on the discussion concerning a flat rate on income, profit and added value taxes, concluding that such a rate would not be profitable for Croatia, due to such specifics as the war aftermath.

Too bad nobody asked Professor Widhal why Croatia should seek to have a tax system similar to Austria’s. Unless, of course, Croatia wants to stumble along with growth of 1 percent yearly while its flat-tax neighbors grow by 5 percent annually. And too bad nobody asked the Chamber of Economy Chairman why stability is a good thing when tax rates are so high that economic activity leaves the country or goes underground. Last but not least, too bad nobody asked Finance Minister Suker why the tax system should be “profitable” for the government instead of the Croatian people.

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Congress Moves against NSA Spying

Ars Technica reports that an amendment to the FY 2008 Intelligence Authorization Act “upholds the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Backed (FISA) as the only means by which to do electronic surveillance—and … requires continuous judicial oversight of requests.”

Divided government is a real boon.

Women Do Better in America than Europe

Even though (or perhaps because) the United States is much less likely to use government intervention to dictate private-sector workplace decisions, the number of women in upper-level positions is significantly greater than in Europe according to the International Labour Organization. The EU Observer reports:

There are more women in top jobs in North America and in Latin America than in the European Union, a major new study by the International Labour Organization (ILO) shows. In the Global Report on Equality at Work 2007 – launched on Thursday (10 May) - North American women take up 41.2 percent of legislative or managing positions while the numbers are 35 percent for women in South America and the Caribbean and 30.6 percent for women in the EU.

Ironically, though not surprisingly, the bureaucrats at the ILO seem to think that more government is required to boost the role of women in the workforce. Too bad they did not grasp the implications of their own statistics:

A major theme of the ILO report is the persistent gender gaps in employment and pay and the need for integrated policies addressing sex discrimination in remuneration and occupational segregation by sex, while reconciling work and family responsibilities.

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John Edwards Wants America to be More Like Slow-Growth Europe

Presidential candidate John Edwards deserves some praise for honesty. He has openly admitted that he wants more taxes and more spending. His chief rivals, as noted by the Associated Press in a story, have been less forthcoming. But honesty does not count for much if a candidate’s proposals will mean less prosperity. Edwards seems to think that European-style levels of government spending can be imposed without European-style levels of stagnation and unemployment:

Edwards is quick to acknowledge his spending on health care, energy and poverty reduction comes at a cost, with more plans to come. All told, his proposals would equal more than $1 trillion if he could get them enacted into law and operational during two White House terms. … To pay for some of his priorities, Edwards would roll back Bush’s tax cuts on Americans making more than $200,000 a year. He also said he would consider raising capital gains taxes to help fund his plans and raise or eliminate the $90,000 cap on individual earnings subject to Social Security taxes to help cover the projected shortfall in the system. … Edwards’ ideas have already opened him to accusations of being just another tax-and-spend liberal, a label put on Walter Mondale, the 1984 Democratic presidential nominee who said he would raise taxes and then lost 49 states to President Reagan. … Edwards has been the most forthcoming Democratic candidate when it comes to describing the details of how he would like to run the country. His chief rivals — Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama — have offered few hints about their policy proposals.

Vermont Is a Tax Haven

The Providence Journal reports that Vermont is one of the world’s leading tax havens for “captive” insurance companies. This is both amusing, because it is contrary to Vermont’s image as a refuge for 1960s dropouts, and illuminating, since it shows that the pressure to attract jobs and capital causes even left-leaning politicians to adopt market-oriented policy:

In a development somewhat counter to its apple-cheeked image, Vermont has become a leading tax haven for U.S. companies. As described in a recent New York Times report, the state markets itself alongside Bermuda and the Cayman Islands as the answer to certain types of tax headaches. …Vermont law has permitted the creation of insurance captives for more than 20 years. But it only began aggressively marketing them about a decade ago, presenting captives as a sound alternative to the insurance business that thrives outside U.S. borders. Today, more than 560 American companies have set up camp in Vermont, which also hosts an annual captive-insurance industry conference.