Post Scripts on Yemen

Correctly assessing the enemy’s motives is essential to
combating him effectively. If radical Muslim fundamentalists hate American
freedom, etc., they are at war with us in our homeland and we would be in a
very different situation requiring a very different strategy than I think we
are actually in. The suicide bomber who killed seven American CIA agents in
Afghanistan December 30 adds further evidence that such claims are false. A
U.S. drone attack in Pakistan killed the important terrorist leader Baitullah
Mehsud in August. “In a chilling videotape released posthumously Saturday by
the Pakistani Taliban and broadcast on regional TV channels, bomber Humam
Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, 32, called on Muslim holy warriors worldwide to
avenge Mehsud’s death by attacking U.S. targets. ‘We will never forget the
blood of our emir Baitullah Mehsud," Balawi said on the tape, using the
title that means leader of the Muslim faithful. "We will always demand
revenge for him inside America and outside.’"[1]
 What the bomber hates is America’s
intrusion into his part of the world and its attacks on his brothers, not the
American way of life.

War is always the enemy of liberty, even when trying to
defend it. Our constitution and common sense gives our president essentially
unlimited powers to defend the nation in times of war. Liberty has been
preserved by limiting the wars we fight and keeping them short. These days we
invoke the imagery of war (the war on drugs, crime, terror, etc.) far too often
and too easily for those of us who love liberty and the checks and balances on
government power that are a critical tool for persevering liberty. As Vice
President, Dick Cheney relentlessly pressed for more and more Presidential
power to fight terrorists in the mistaken belief that that was the only way to
win the war against al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorists. Even today he persists in
this dangerous, fundamentally un-American view. His fellow traveler in the Bush
Justice Department, John Yoo (the bad guy would wrote the opinions justifying torture
and other expansions of Presidential power) makes the case for the Imperial
Presidency explicit in his latest book “Crisis and Command.”[2]
This bears on the issues of trying terrorists in regular or military courts,
the use of warrantless wiretaps and similar powers.

Anyone who thinks that I am expressing isolationist views
has totally misunderstood me. My professional career at the IMF has been
devoted to sharing the cumulated wisdom of the developed world with regard to
monetary policy with the central banks of other less developed countries. This
includes explicit “nation building” in places like newly independent (from the
USSR) countries like, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Moldova, and post conflict
countries like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Serbia. I
strongly believe that it is in America’s self interest and the interest of
every other peace loving country in the world to contribute to the building of
more law abiding, successful, and prosperous countries freely trading with one another.
I believe in this kind of “nation building.” I do not think this better world
can be promoted at the end of a gun or as part of an empire of the old or the
new American type neocons seem to want. President Bush was right to say that
Democracy is ultimately the best way to govern peaceful prosperous countries
that respect the just rights of individuals and their neighbors, and that
promoting democracy is thus in America’s interest. But his neocon friends are
wrong to think that viable democracy, as we understand that term, can be
promoted at the point of a gun. Many internal conditions are required before
democracy is likely to improve governance. The Imperial Presidency and the new
American Empire advocated by the Dick Cheney’s of the world are a bigger threat
to our liberties and well being than al-Qaeda.


[2] Reviewed by
Jack Rakove, "John
Yoo on why the president is king"
, The
Washington Post
, January 10, 2010, Page B01.

About wcoats

I specialize in advising central banks on monetary policy and the development of the capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy.  I joined the International Monetary Fund in 1975 from which I retired in 2003 as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department. While at the IMF I led or participated in missions to the central banks of over twenty countries (including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Serbia, Turkey, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Zimbabwe) and was seconded as a visiting economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1979-80), and to the World Bank's World Development Report team in 1989.  After retirement from the IMF I was a member of the Board of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority from 2003-10 and of the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review from 2010-2017.  Prior to joining the IMF I was Assistant Prof of Economics at UVa from 1970-75.  I am currently a fellow of Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise.  In March 2019 Central Banking Journal awarded me for my “Outstanding Contribution for Capacity Building.”  My most recent book is One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have a BA in Economics from the UC Berkeley and a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago. My dissertation committee was chaired by Milton Friedman and included Robert J. Gordon.
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