Friday, October 13, 2006

Quick Takes

Pejman Yousefzadeh, writing at RedState, quotes Bill Clinton on the estate tax:

They [opponents of the tax] may think I should be able to give Chelsea every nickel, but I don't.

Hey, Willie, no one's forcing you to give Chelsea every nickel. But why should those who wish to leave every nickel to their children be denied the right to do so, on your say-so? It's all about you -- as usual -- isn't it?

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Tim Lynch, of Cato-at-Liberty, writes about the power of a president to declare a person an "enemy combatant." He concludes:

Mr. Bush (and his successors) can now bypass the judiciary by simply issuing an “enemy combatant” order. That means the liberty of every American rests upon nothing more than the grace of the White House (actually lower level bureaucrats). Some may shrug and say “This is war. Captured terrorists don’t belong in fancy hotels. Heck, some harmless drug offenders might be raped or stabbed in a U.S. prison.”

True enough, but isn’t that like saying “Yes, the casualties are mounting in Iraq, but so what. Didn’t ya know the U.S. lost 6,821 Marines at Iwo Jima, a single battle?” My point is that we ought to be careful about how we intend to assess the actions of the government. Let’s strive to keep the government limited and to minimize casualties, mistakes, and injustices.

Reasonable enough, as far as it goes. But it doesn't go far enough. Lynch -- as is the wont of anti-war libertarians -- omits from his list of criteria perhaps the most important one: the defense of Americans and their interests. Those are the proper objects of war, against which "keep[ing] the government limited and . . . minimiz[ing] casualties, mistakes, and injustices" must be weighed.

Every president has the power (constitutional or not) to do great harm to the people. In the end, the liberty of the people depends very much upon presidential restraint. That President Bush has declared as enemy combatants only a few American citizens -- who demonstrably were enemy combatants -- should be reassuring, not alarming.

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The attention-grabbing headline from Reuters:

U.K. army chief says troops should leave Iraq

Buried in the story:

Hours after Dannatt's [the Army chief's] interview appeared, he made radio and television appearances to calm the political storm. He said his remarks were taken out of context but he did not deny them.

"It was never my intention to have this hoo ha, which people have thoroughly enjoyed overnight, trying to suggest there is a chasm between myself and the prime minister," he told BBC radio.

British troops were targets in some places, but were beneficial in others, he said and insisted he was not proposing an immediate withdrawal. "I'm a soldier. We don't do surrender ... We're going to see this through," he said.

But he added: "I've got an army to look after which is going to be successful in current operations. But I want an army in five years time and 10 years time. Don't let's break it on this one. Lets keep an eye on time."

Britain has launched a large new operation in Afghanistan this year, and commanders have acknowledged that they had hoped they could reduce their force in Iraq faster. Generals have said they now hope to cut their force in Iraq in half by the middle of next year. They have turned over control of two of the four provinces they patrol to Iraqis. "We're going to complete that process and ... the number of troops deployed there will reduce," Dannatt said.

Contrary to the hype of the anti-war-no-matter-what claque, the general is not a cut-and-run type.