I read this editorial last week while I was on the road, and thankfully though about it this afternoon to complete my trifecta of posts for the day.
The editorial details a question posed to Rep. John Tanner (TN-08) concerning Pakistan. From the Editorial:
Whom should we side with in the ongoing confrontation in Pakistan between the autocratic government of Pervez Musharraf and ostensible democratic reformer Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister freshly returned from exile? Not an easy question, and Tanner, after ruminating out loud over the pros and cons of the matter, finally came down, reluctantly but decisively, on the side of the status quo. What’s at stake in the region is stability, the congressman said, and that’s especially needful in the case of Pakistan, not only a de facto ally in the so-called war on terror but a country in possession of a decent-sized nuclear arsenal.
There are several things about the statement that Tanner and I can agree on, with some clarification. 1. Certainly stability is preferable to instability in Pakistan, unfortunately that stability should be rooted in Democratic institutions, not a government that rose to power as the result of a military coup. 2. Pakistan is an ally, though a reluctant one in the war on terror. Musharraf’s insistence on making peace treaties with Islamic militants on the Afghan border to concentrate power should be very concerning to the US. 3. Pakistan most certainly possesses nuclear weapons, and we should be working with them to put that genie back in the bottle. Acting like it’s not there is not working.
All of these “agreements with conditions” are well and good, but neglect the issue that should be front and center in the assessment; Pakistan should be able to decide their own fate democratically.
The editorial goes on to somehow relate our experience in Iraq to a potential experience in Pakistan:
…our experience in Iraq has surely taught us something about the dangers of overthrowing dictators. Saddam Hussein was no paragon, to say the least. But he was A) secular and B) strong enough to hold the festering parts of that country together against potential (now long since actualized) religious anarchy. Much the same can be said of Musharraf, and it has to be considered, as Tanner indicated, whether the cure for authoritarian regimes (which are surely to be preferred to totalitarian ones) can be worse than the illness.
Musharraf is no Saddam Hussein at this point. That could change at any moment and supporting him only compounds the problem. As we should have learned in our relationship with Saddam in the 80’s, a dictatorial ally for today can be a major dictatorial pain in the rear end tomorrow. Like our relationship with Saddam in the 80’s we had a common enemy. Then it was Iran, today it is the specter of islamofascism, or whatever they’re calling it today. The similarities are disturbing.
While I understand and somewhat support efforts to keep us from the “don’t poop where you eat” politics that have dominated our foreign policy in this administration, I also reject the Reagan error politics of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. This policy, started by Republicans and adopted by knee knocking Democrats seeking foreign policy credibility is a mess up of grand proportions. If America is going to be the paragon of all that is “Liberty, Justice, and Freedom” on the planet, then we need to stop propping up dictators who are “Just us” without the Liberty or Freedom. As of this writing, Pakistan is no different, despite their strategic positioning.
It’s time to take the diplomatic high ground. That doesn’t mean icing Pakistan, but talking to them more to get more of what we want (democratic elections, demilitarizing the militants in the north, nuclear drawdown). That means showing them how beneficial a partnership with America can be. Regardless of our current foreign policy strategy (if you can call it that) they still need us more than we need them. Pakistan will make concessions, if it’s beneficial for them, and if they’re asked (I assume they’re not since the Bushies love friendly Dictators). Anything less is a waste of time, and a violation of all that America stands for. We can and should do better.
On December 18th, the current incarnation of the Memphis City Council will hold it’s last meeting of the term. The agenda for the meeting is not yet available, nor are the minutes from the November 20th and December 4th meetings. This has been the case all year.
The Memphis City Council’s site has been at least 4 weeks behind on reporting the business of the council. Some of this may be due to a lack of staffing, or a need to approve the minutes of the meeting, but one would think that a 48 hour turnaround for publishing the proposed minutes would be more than enough time. The people of the City of Memphis have a right to know what has happened in their legislative body in a timely manner. In the absence of a news daily reporting the admittedly dry business of the council, it is invaluable to have a record of the meeting available as soon as possible. Here’s to hoping the new council will take this more seriously, or at least do something to reduce the amount of time between the meetings and the open reportage of the meeting.
Speaking of that local “news daily” that is slacking on it’s duty… today the CA published a fluff piece on the incoming council members and role of the Tennessee Sunshine Law on the way they do business, both officially and in their personal lives.
Next year, 70% of the council will be new faces…new to the council anyway. One of those nine members will enter their service under a cloud. This presents an early potential fight that could affect the future effectiveness of the council we elected to serve for the next four years. We should hope, for the sake of the city that Halbert has done no wrong and withhold judgment until any “potential” indictment is handed down.
The Council has a lot of business to attend to over the next four years. One major item is Mayoral Succession. The issue was brought up by outgoing Council member and former Mayoral candidate Carol Chumney. Currently, if the Mayor resigns or is incapacitated, the Council chair takes over for 20 days. The Council has 20 days to appoint a new mayor. If none is appointed the city CAO, an appointed position, takes the reigns. This may have been an acceptable situation at one point, but no longer. A real line of succession needs to be established for the position of Mayor that includes a special election. While the City Council has no say in charter changes, they need to go on record either individually or as a body on this important issue.
There are several other issues that the Council will need to take up, in one way or another that I’ll be discussing over the next few days. Unfortunately, because of the way our City Charter is written, some may be outside the realm of the Council. This is where advocacy leadership comes into play. I’ll talk more about that in upcoming posts.
All told, this stands to be an interesting year for the City of Memphis. I’m looking forward to it, and hope that our new council can come together to help address the many issues facing the community.
I’ve been out of the loop for a while, with all the Turkey Day festivities and post Turkey Day work, so I thought I’d ease back into the blogoshpere with a cautionary tale of beer.
Today marks my first real day home since the Thanksgiving weekend. This afternoon Stacy and I went to the store to get some supplies. In doing so, I picked up some beer. Nothing unusual here folks, read on.
My beer of choice in most casual situations is Miller Lite. I find it provides the necessary comfort expected of a beer without any of the gut busting side effects of “better” beers. Also, it’s Union Made, which satisfies at least one of my ideological needs.
We made our way to the checkout, and then home. After finding homes for all of the foodstuffs that will be making up our meals for the next few days, I opened the beer container and plucked an ice cold one from the nest. Immediately I knew something was wrong.
The beer seemed smaller. It did not fit in my hand the way I have become accustomed to in my many years of enjoying beer. Upon further inspection, I found that the beer was merely 10 oz. instead of the normal 12. What evil bastard could have done such a thing?
Miller, that’s who.
I felt cheated, slighted, and generally annoyed at such a flagrant violation of the 12 oz. curl that I talked to the MTL Comish. He just snapped back with some stupid platitudes before I realized it was an automated script. Assholes.
Buyer beware. The 10 oz.ers are out there. Be not fooled by the shiny container, nor hasty in your selection lest ye be drawn into the den of 2 oz. shy beer.