From Legal Focus: ‘Classroom Crucifixes Ban Overturned : Lautsi v Italy (2011)’

Full post here.

‘The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rendered by 15:2 in Lautsi v Italy (App. No.: 30814/06) on the 18th March 2011 that it is justifiable for public funded schools in Italy to continue displaying crucifixes on the classroom walls.’

Related On This Site:  Repost: From The Strasbourg Observers: ‘Remembering Lautsi (And The Cross)’…Sometimes a cross isn’t just a cross, as Stanley Fish notesFrom Law At The End Of The Day: ‘Torn Between Religion And Law In Spain’

Low European Birth Rates In The NY Times: No Babies?

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A Few Thoughts On Watching Operations In Libya

The idea that if there is a set of rights, or are rights, that a man has, and that citizens have, is a matter of deep debate in Western society.  It’s been one of the underlying themes of this blog.  Those like myself, who are dubious of claims to universal rights (as opposed to freedoms and responsibilities), err on the side of caution and conservatism in domestic and political affairs. This view generally seeks limited government, limited central planning, and limited adherence to overarching theories that so quickly can become institutional goals, burdensome regulations, leveling forces, and political bludgeons.  Generally, it’s not a view that fits well with humanitarian and universalist ideas in directing U.S foreign policy, but there’s always room for debate.

Perhaps a reasonable goal in long-term strategy is to weigh down the balance more toward diplomatic and political engagement, rather than current military engagement in the Middle-East.  Of course, it’s necessary to maintain force and the possibility of force to achieve certain objectives.  There are clear and real dangers to American security of which we all aware and must keep dealing with.

As the humanitarians might have it, the use of force may really only be morally permissible in rare cases of injustice where the international community must eventually convene, then intervene, in the affairs of others…as in Libya.  We must limit our own actions according to these principles, as circumstances dictate, and potentially subsume U.S  soverignty to build consensus.  Also, I believe, the people making current policy assume these principles are universal.  This is quite a change.

A fair summary? What would be some of the consequences of this view?

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.

Addition: Transcript of Obama’s full speech here.

Another Addition:  I should add that of course, there are rights:  the right to vote, the right to a fair trial, granted to me by the Constitution.  There are laws, which I must follow.  There is, however a deeper debate regarding positive and negative rights.  Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Related On This Site:  Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanFrom CSIS: ‘Turmoil In The Middle-East’From The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkFrom The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonFrom Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

Eric Posner At Volokh Replies To Comments

Full post here.

Has there been a coalescence of executive authority which can overreach Constitutional limitations?  Gone are the days of Madisonian democracy? Posner discusses his new book, The Executive Unbound.

‘There is a long-term trajectory, in this country and many other democracies, in the direction of executive primacy in domestic as well as foreign affairs, which one can identify only by comparing present to past. No one denies that the New Deal regulatory system gave presidents immense powers that did not exist prior to its creation, and that this system has only grown over the years. The financial regulation and health care laws are only the latest in a long series of delegations from Congress to the president, and they confirm that long-term trends have not been reversed in the Obama administration. We are talking about a continuous institutional development that reaches back almost a century and today is entrenched. It is time for legal thought to make its peace with it.’

Perhaps there has been, and as Posner makes the case,  there’s not too much to be done about it.

Also On This Site: The Straussians are not too happy with it, as the comments suggest:  From Volokh: Harvey Mansfield Reviews ‘The Executive Unbound’

Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’From The Weekly Standard: Harvey Mansfield Reviews Paul Rahe’s “Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift”

Nor are libertarians.  So, what about the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act?…Randy Barnett At Volokh: ‘My Answers to Questions Posed by Senators Durbin and Sessions’

Using J.S. Mill, moving away from religion?: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’…Repost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder

A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”

Interesting reading.

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Stanley Kurtz At The National Review: ‘President Reticent’

Full post here.

Of course there’s plenty of political posturing and framing, but the crux of Kurtz’ argument is interesting:

‘Most of the commentary on Libya has focused on the tension between Obama’s apparent desire to displace Qaddafi and his reluctance to admit to it. But the chief reason for this intervention is the one that’s staring us in the face. Obama dithered when it was simply a matter of replacing Qaddafi, yet quickly acted when slaughter in Benghazi became the issue. What Samantha Power and her supporters want is to solidify the principle of “responsibility to protect” in international law.’

In my ignorance, I’ve been using the term ‘liberal internationalist’ because it seems to work.  Obama seems reluctant to use any sort of American military power.  I’m assuming his guiding ideas are mostly Western, and liberal humanitarian and universalist in foreign policy.   He’s seeking to use international framework (to please the base…the independents who voted him in?), and as Kurtz notes, even walking close to the line of subsuming American sovereignty to that international framework.  The downside risks aren’t just a protracted war in Libya, but getting burned by even our closer allies as we still carry most of the water.

Clearly, the U.N. has legitimacy and structural issues, and the Bush team was reluctant to gain U.N. approval.  Perhaps now Obama is being overly deferential?  What would be some consequences of Power’s theories?

Also, how are the two most recent president’s definitions of freedom (Bush’s human freedom…Obama’s arc of history…) getting crafted into foreign policy?  Any president will have to deal with the bureaucratic and institutional structures in place.

Related On This Site:  Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanFrom CSIS: ‘Turmoil In The Middle-East’From The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’

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Via Yahoo: ‘Putin Likens U.N. Libya Resolution To Crusade Calls’

Full post here.

Maybe Putin needs to maintain his cred:

“The resolution is defective and flawed,” Putin told workers at a Russian ballistic missile factory. “It allows everything. It resembles medieval calls for crusades.”

What is in Russia’s best interests when it comes to Gadhafi?

The Telegraph has more on events.

Related On This Site:  Tit for tat…are Putin and NATO worth good faith effort?:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’From Bloomberg Businessweek: ‘Russia Will Cooperate With NATO on Missile Shield, Sets Terms’From The NY Times Via The A & L Daily: ‘Who Fears a Free Mikhail Khodorkovsky?’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

Just your average comrade: From Sky News Via Drudge: Putin Meets Reagan?

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Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’

Full piece here.

On the possible tensions within the democratic party surrounding military action in Libya, Mead notes:

‘President Obama beware:  If US troops are fighting in Libya in 2012 the ‘humanitarian hawks’ will likely be out campaigning against you in New Hampshire.’

Also, waiting for a coalition of international support and the benefits of doing so, while losing valuable time, still leaves the UN sending a mixed message:

‘More, the political objectives of the UN resolution are unclear.  The resolution aims to ban Gaddafi attacks on rebels, but doesn’t call for removing him from office.  Literally interpreted, this amounts to a call for an informal partition of Libya into pro- and anti-Gaddafi portions with foreign air forces keeping the peace between them.’


‘At this point, we must live in hope:  hope that the President and his team know what they are doing, and hope that an international show of force will bring a better future to Libya (which means a future with no Gaddafis in it) without further bloodshed.’

When I think of the choice between McCain and Obama, I still think Obama is the better choice on foreign policy.   But even if he has a deeper vision for the Middle-East rooted in liberal internationalism, some broader experience or understanding, and somewhat of a more left and universalist set of Western ideas (if not a clear strategy), he still must be the Commander in Chief and handle many of the same institutions and limitations as the last President.  Least of all he’ll have to handle his own party.

Libya country profile here.

Also On This Site:  Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Mubaraks, Mamelukes, Modernizers and Muslims’Walter Russell Mead’s New Book On Britain and America

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