Reflections on Memorial Day, 2006

Originally posted Memorial Day 2006

Various commentators on the network political shows on Sunday, May 28 reminded us to take some time to remember, on Memorial Day, those who had died in our current and past wars. Some even suggested that we do so at a particular time: editor Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal, for example, suggested 3:00 p.m. I didn’t set aside a particular time, but throughout the day I did think about those who lost their lives. Indeed, I started on Sunday evening when I watched Andy Rooney. Now, I’m not a fan of Andy Rooney, who is silly much too often for my taste, but this was different. It was a replay of a 2005 segment that was not only devoid of silliness, but also quite powerful. I recommend reading the whole thing.

Rooney made two main points. First, it makes no sense to say, as so many commentators do, that those who were killed in our wars “gave their lives.” As Rooney pointed out, they didn’t give their lives; their lives were taken from them. Second, Rooney suggested that our goal should be not to glorify war, but to figure out how to have less of it in the future.

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Yellen: Sanctions Kill Iranians and Don’t Work So Let’s Impose More

Reprinted from Econlib with permission.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday the United States was looking at ways to strengthen its sanctions against Iran, but acknowledged the sanctions had not resulted in the behavioral or policy changes Washington desires from Tehran.

This is from David Lander and Kanishka Singh, “Yellen: Iran’s Actions Not Impacted by Sanctions to the Extent US Would Like,” March 23, 2023.

Lander and Singh continue:

“Our sanctions on Iran have created real economic crisis in the country, and Iran is greatly suffering economically because of the sanctions … Has that forced a change in behavior? The answer is much less than we would ideally like,” Yellen told lawmakers in a hearing on Thursday.

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How Much Is US Aid to Ukraine Costing You?

Reprinted with permission from Econlib.

In 2022, the U.S. government approved expenditures of $113 billion on aid to Ukraine. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget writes:

In total, CBO estimated that $6.6 billion of the $113 billion would be spent in FY 2022 and another $37.7 billion in FY 2023. Furthermore, CBO estimated more than half of the approved funds would be spent by the end of FY 2024 and more than three-fourths by the end of FY 2026.

How much will that cost the average household? There are approximately 131.2 million households in the United States. So the average cost per household is $113 billion divided by 131.2 million, which is $861.

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What’s Wrong with Registering Women for the Draft?

Reprinted from The Library of Economics and Liberty:

The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service issued a report in March recommending that Congress “eliminate male-only registration and expand draft eligibility to all individuals of the appropriate age cohort,” because “expanding draft eligibility to women will enable the military to access the most qualified individuals, regardless of sex.” Women have been eligible to occupy all combat roles since 2015.

This is from Ella Lubell, “Senate Considers Requiring Women to Register for the Draft,” Reason Hit and Run, July 22, 2021.

Lubell also points out the ACLU’s disappointing stance:

“Like many laws that appear to benefit women, men-only registration actually impedes women’s full participation in civic life,” says the ACLU on its website. “Limiting registration to men sends a message that women are unqualified to serve in the military, regardless of individual capabilities and preferences. It reflects an outmoded view that, in the event of a draft, women’s primary duty would be to the home front – and, on the flip side, that men are unqualified to be caregivers.”

This is appalling, especially coming from the ACLU, one of whose founding members, Roger Baldwin, went to prison for refusing to be drafted during World War I. Notice that the ACLU doesn’t mention rights but, instead, wants equal oppression. What would send a message to women that they are unqualified to serve would be a policy by the U.S. military that they can’t serve. But they can. The actual message that the US government is sending to women by not forcing them to register for a draft is that the government respects women’s rights. The government should also start respecting men’s rights.

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Chuck Yeager on War Crimes

Chuck Yeager, a great American hero, died this week at age 97. He resided in Grass Valley, California.

Yeager is best known for being the first person to break the sound barrier. He was a major character in Tom Wolfe’s 1979 classic, The Right Stuff. Indeed, Wolfe devoted a whole chapter to the man. If you think the 1983 movie of the same name was good but haven’t read the book, you have a treat in store for you. The first few pages of the chapter on Yeager are informative – and hilarious. I enjoyed the book so much that I’ve read it twice.

I’ve been a fan of Yeager for a long time. But what does this have to do with Here’s what. I’m even more of a fan because of what I read on Wikipedia about his clear thinking on war crimes.

Here’s the crucial segment:

In his 1986 memoirs, Yeager recalled with disgust that “atrocities were committed by both sides”, and said he went on a mission with orders from the Eighth Air Force to “strafe anything that moved.” During the mission briefing, he whispered to Major Donald H. Bochkay, “If we are going to do things like this, we sure as hell better make sure we are on the winning side.” Yeager said, “I’m certainly not proud of that particular strafing mission against civilians. But it is there, on the record and in my memory.”

David Henderson on Why a Trade War Is a Bad Idea columnist David R. Henderson appeared this weekend on BBC World Service “Weekend” radio show. He spoke about why a trade war is a bad idea for consumers and workers on both sides of any trade war.

David R. Henderson is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution and an emeritus professor of economics in the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School.