Thursday, September 25, 2008

Is this the Start of the Downward Spiral?

Pakistani and U.S. forces exchanged fire today at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Others can determine whether U.S. helicopters were on the Afghan side of the line and did or did not cross, or whether Pakistanis fired flares or shots. What I found interesting (via the New York Times coverage, were two quotes. The first, a local Pakistani resident saying, "We were happy that our forces fired at the helicopter." The question is, how many more Pakistanis will share that attitude, and transmit that to their politicians.

The second, and more telling, was a statement earlier this week from the Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani.

"We will not tolerate any act against our sovereignty and integrity in the name of the war against terrorism. We are fighting extremism and terror not for any other country, but our own country."

Seems the message this week at the UN on a variety of issues--Iran, North Korea, etc.--was that a number of countries made clear that their stance is based on an assessment of their own interests, not what preferred outcome Washington may have.

Ditto on the financial crisis, too. We keep hearing on this side of the Atlantic that this is a global crisis. Guess some Europeans don't agree. Peer Streinbrueck, Germany's finance minister, says "the financial market crisis is most of all an American problem."

And all of this happening as the U.S. enters the election cycle ... (My thoughts on how to minimize the disruption of the transition, for those interested.)

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