FDD's Alykhan Velshi discusses America's dependence on foreign oil in this week's Notes & Comments. He quotes AEI Resident Fellow David Frum -- "someone who truly understands the economics of oil":
If we are concerned that oil comes from the wrong places, we should be developing policies that bring new oil to market from the right places. One way to achieve that would be for the oil-consuming democracies to form a cartel of their own. Aside from third-ranking China, the top 10 oil importers are all democracies. Six of them -- the U.S., Germany, France, Italy, Spain and India --have been targeted victims of Islamic terrorists. Together, these democracies could reshape the world oil market by setting criteria for responsible international behaviour -- and then imposing a tariff (say US$12 a barrel) on any oil exporter that failed to live up to those standards.
FDD's Mario Loyola argues in today's National Review Online that "international law should be a principal weapon in the conservative arsenal." He writes:
Conservatives must expose the liberal monopoly on “international law” for what it is — a way to turn fashion trends in liberal opinion into commandments for the rest of us. But conservatives must go further: They must aim to establish a powerful presence of conservative scholars within the law faculties themselves. There is room for a conservative philosophy of international law — a philosophy based upon respect for democracy, peace, and the obligation of contract.
But there is a problem among conservatives, too, because their thinking on international relations is dominated by “realists” who tend to take a dim view of international law. This is a mistake. A strong balance-of-power foreign policy, which is vital to maintaining peace in those areas of the world where states still challenge the status quo militarily, cannot be constantly struggling against international law and the diplomatic structures it creates.
In today's Jerusalem Post, Barry Rubin makes a point that should be elementary in the strategic analysis of the Iran nuclear crisis:
Do you think that anyone will make peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict if they assume -- no matter how wrong they turn out to be -- that Israel is going to be either erased by Iran's nuclear weapons, or intimidated into massive unilateral concessions? Do you believe the West will dare act effectively on any regional crisis in the face of Iranian opposition? Will Turkey protest firmly about Iranian involvement in Kurdish or Islamist subversion at home?
This is only the beginning of the problems arising from Iranian possession of nuclear weapons: a bolder, extremist Iran; coercion of the local, relatively more moderate states; a boost for terrorist and revolutionary groups with an upsurge of violence, and intimidation of the West.
And that's the optimistic scenario, without anyone actually using weapons of mass destruction.
It's the implied threat of nuclear weapons as counter-deterrent -- the menace that Iran might use them if we respond militarily to any conventional Iranian aggression -- which will ruin the strategic balance in the Middle East. Those experts who think a nuclear Iran can be contained are looking at the wrong threat -- and they are conspicuously silent on how to contain Iran now.
Iran's move to acquire nuclear breakout capabilities is itself a kind of strategic aggression--because it will leave regional security gravely degraded. This is why the administration's decision to surge a second U.S. aircraft carrier strike group to the Gulf is such a relief. It shows that the administration is serious about maintaining the current balance-of-power in the Gulf, even as it continues playing Model U.N. at the Security Council. As Vice President Cheney explains in a Newsweek interview:
When we—as the president did, for example, recently—deploy another aircraft carrier task force to the gulf, that sends a very strong signal to everybody in the region that the United States is here to stay, that we clearly have significant capabilities, and that we are working with friends and allies as well as the international organizations to deal with the Iranian threat. I'm not going to speculate about security action...But the fact is we are doing what we can to try to resolve issues such as the nuclear question diplomatically through the United Nations, but we've also made it clear that we haven't taken any options off the table.
Those who warn that a military confrontation with Iran would be a disaster should deliver that warning to the state which seems bent on seeking a confrontation -- Iran.
Sometimes I marvel at Russia's apparently limitless capacity for causing long-lived problems. Indeed, some of these problems indeed have half-lives in the tens of thousands of years. Here's this pleasant bit of news:
U.S. and Georgian officials told The Associated Press that Georgian authorities, aided by the CIA, set up a sting operation that led to the arrest last year of a Russian citizen who tried to sell a small amount of uranium enriched to about 90 percent U-235, suitable for use in an atomic bomb...
In a 2006 report, the International Atomic Energy Agency said there were 16 confirmed incidents of trafficking in highly enriched uranium or plutonium globally from 1993 to 2005. In seven cases, the nuclear material was thought to originate in Russia or a former Soviet state.
FDD President Clifford May asks why we're funding our enemy's war-effort in his column this week:
In his State of the Union Speech this week, President Bush sounded serious about “diversifying” American’s energy supply, about developing an energy policy that does not leave Americans interminably at the mercy of such regimes as those in Tehran and Caracas. And in Congress, legislation is being introduced that could at least begin to reduce the economic, political and military power of Middle Eastern oil.
For me, at least, Adam White's interesting article in the Weekly Standard about the dispute between Sen. Specter and AG Gonzales about whether the Constitution guarantees habeas corpus (listed in NRO's Web Briefing box of linked articles) misses a crucial point (as, for that matter, do Specter and Gonzales).
The Constitution proscribes the suspension of habeas corpus (except in cases of rebellion or invasion) but does not expressly grant it. As Adam argues, it is indeed a fascinating and unsettled question whether this means habeas corpus is guaranteed (the Specter position) or just that the power to issue the writ cannot be taken away if a legislature empowers courts to grant it in the first place (what White takes to be the apparent Gonzales position).
To me, this academic dispute is relevant only if we are talking about a class of petitioners (such as American citizens) who are entitled to claim the protections of the Constitution. Alien enemy combatants who have no lawful U.S. immigration status, whose only connection to the U.S. is to make war against the American people, who have not set foot inside the U.S., and who are held by the military overseas in wartime, are not entitled to American constitutional protections.
The Constitution's habeas corpus clause is a limitation on the power of the federal government — but it cannot be invoked by someone from outside our body politic, for those within our body politic are the sole beneficiaries of such limitations.
This becomes obvious when Adam argues, with great force, that Sen. Specter is wrong when he claims the Supreme Court's Rasul case held that the Constitution gave Gitmo detainees constitutional habeas protection. Rasul is a statutory case. It held that Gitmo detainees had a right to habeas under the federal habeas statute, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2241, not the Constitution). (I've discussed this before, here and here, for example.)
Obviously, if the Constitution granted alien combatants habeas, there would be no reason to rely on a statute (Congress, after all, can always amend a statute — as it did to the habeas statute when it enacted the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 — in response to Rasul). But the petitioners had no serious argument to that effect because it is well understood (or, at least, it used to be) that constitutional protections do not extend to non-Americans outside the United States.
The police are considering proposals to share intelligence and information with Muslims before launching anti-terror operations.
The plans, announced by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, are part of a wider vision to engage more with British Muslims whose support police need in fighting terrorism.
At a conference on Islamophobia, Sir Ian told his largely Muslim audience that combating the threat of extremism and terrorism was something his officers could not do alone. "It will not be the police and intelligence services that defeat terrorism, it will be communities," he said...
As a measure of their seriousness, the police have just appointed a full-time officer to lead their work on community engagement. Commander Richard Gargini has been in the police service since 1976 and has extensive experience in dealing with high-risk police operations dealing with murder and other serious crime...One of his key tasks, and perhaps a controversial one [uh, yeah], is to develop a policy whereby Muslims will be consulted before an anti-terror raid happens..."What we intend to do is invite selected, influential leaders from the Muslim community to come in and assist us when we are planning and dealing with new information -- this has worked extremely well in the black community and the shootings that have taken place amongst black men," he said.
FDD President Clliford May reacts to the president's State of the Union address in today's National Review Online:
You have to admit: Bush laid out an ambitious agenda for a second-half-of-the-second-term president with abysmal poll numbers facing a Democratic congress that despises him.
His agenda includes turning around the war in Iraq (tough but possible), strengthening the military for the long conflict ahead (absolutely necessary), beginning to work toward a measure of energy security (not to be confused with “energy independence”), and attempting to open negotiations with the Democrats on a host of other issues.
The White House is betting that some Democrats will come along on each of these issues — not out of respect for Bush; not even out of respect for his office, but for self-interest: While in the minority Democrats could be satisfied merely to oppose. Now that they are in the majority, some Democrats may want to show they can do more than carp and criticize from the sidelines. A few may want to demonstrate that they can exercise the power they have been given to actually get something achieved.