My list of my top 10 foreign policy wishes for 2008 is presented in reverse order of urgency:
10. Continued frustration for Hugo Chavez.
His presidency-for-life derailed by voters smart enough to see the writing on the wall, Chavez will become more nakedly aggressive in his quest for oil-fueled dictatorship. Meanwhile, Venezuela’s oil production drops for lack of foreign investment just as all eyes turn to Brazil’s substantial offshore oil discovery.
9. Less hyperbole on global warming.
The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has dealt a severe blow to U.S. efforts to restore stability and democracy in a turbulent, nuclear-armed Islamic nation that has been a critical ally in the war on terror.
While not entirely dependent on Bhutto, recent Bush administration policy on Pakistan had focused heavily on promoting reconciliation between the secular opposition leader who has been dogged by corruption allegations and Pakistan’s increasingly unpopular president, Pervez Musharraf, ahead of parliamentary elections set for January.
As I watched my girls aged 11, 8 and 6 roll around the house on the new scooters they received for Christmas, I found myself offering the usual “be careful! Watch where you’re going, not so fast!”
What they don’t know is that I can’t see them taking off merrily on their little scooters without flashing forward to the teen driving years when they’ll want to take off merrily in cars.
That’s because I recently read “Teenagers and Cars: A Deadly Mix” by Gerri Hirshey in the New York Times.
They buried Ralph Beard the other day and news of the event brought back a flood of memories, not an unusual occurrence when one begins to enter the springtime of his senescence. It was at once a nostalgic, still vivid recollection tinted with the sadness of brilliant talent and career wasted for reasons that were never clear.
You probably had to grow up in the 1950s or earlier to know deep in your bones just how radically the reputation of J. Edgar Hoover has shifted from patriotic, upstanding, nation-protecting, model-for-one-and-all hero to liberty-denying, rights-abusing, sneaky, jealous, morally corrupt villain.
Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others at the end of a campaign rally, aides said.
“The surgeons confirmed that she has been martyred,” Bhutto’s lawyer Babar Awan said.
A party security adviser said Bhutto was shot in neck and chest as she got into her vehicle to leave the rally in Rawalpindi near the capital Islamabad. A gunman then blew himself up.
“At 6:16 p.m. she expired,” said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Bhutto’s party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was taken after the attack.
The following editorial, among the most famous ever written, appeared in The New York Sun in 1897 and remains appropriate for this holiday season 110 years later.
IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS?
We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
Dear Editor! I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
The US government ignored numerous warnings over the past two years that private security firms in Iraq were operating with little supervision and instead expanded their role, a media report said Monday.
Warnings about the risks posed by tens of thousands of US-funded private security guards in Iraq were relayed in writing from defense and legal experts and by senior Iraqi officials, the Washington Post reported, citing US officials, security firms and documents.
The CIA on Saturday rebutted suggestions the spy agency was uncooperative and hid from the Sept. 11 commission the videotaped interrogations of two suspected terrorists, saying it waited until the panel went out of business before destroying the material now in question.
The destruction in late 2005 of the videotapes of two al-Qaida suspects has upset a federal judge and riled the Democratic-controlled Congress, which has promised an investigation. The Justice Department also is trying to find out what happened and whether any laws were broken.
The September 11 commission asked the CIA in 2003 and 2004 for information on the interrogation of al Qaeda suspects, only to be told the agency provided all that was requested, The New York Times reported on Saturday.
The CIA said on December 6 it destroyed hundreds of hours of videotape in 2005 showing interrogations of al Qaeda suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, prompting former members of the commission to review classified documents.