Wednesday was a big news day in foreign affairs.
An Afghan air force officer, who may have been a Taliban agent, gunned down nine Americans.
Elsewhere in Kabul, the Wall Street Journal reported that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was wooed by our ostensible ally, Pakistan, to distance his government from the Americans dying to defend it, and instead partner with Pakistan and China.
David Patraeus, the general with the tough task of fighting the Taliban, and occasionally Karzai, was said to be the new pick to lead the CIA, whose current leader, Leon Panetta, will move to the Pentagon to replace retiring Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
Elsewhere in the world’s tinderbox, Libyan and Syrian security forces continued to murder their own citizens.
But perhaps the biggest Mideast news came from the West Bank and Gaza, where rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas announced they had repaired their rift and will attempt to form a unity government.
This may have immediate implications for Israel — and thus the United States — as attempts are made to prod the peace process forward.
And in a far friendlier foreign story, millions worldwide were getting pumped up for the pomp and circumstance of Britain’s royal wedding.
But for much of the U.S. media, the story with the most international intrigue was whether President Obama was actually foreign-born.
Hoping to finally squelch the speculation, Obama released his long-form birth certificate. In a parallel news conference, billionaire “birther” and probable presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed credit and then turned to the next burning national issue: Obama’s college transcripts.
The birther theater was the kind of story cable news networks find easy — and cheap. No explaining complicated national security issues and no overseas camera crews under fire in distant locales.
Just politics, and personalities, as big as they get.
Most historians would probably be too wise to predict which story will ultimately have the most global importance. Disunion in Syria and Libya, or unions between Palestinians, Pakistan and Afghanistan, or, who knows, even royals, may have unforeseen consequences.
But most would probably find it safe to say that the disunion in the United States about a birth certificate will be an historical footnote not worthy of Wednesday’s media immersion.
John Rash is a Star Tribune editorial writer. His column, Rash Report, appears on Saturdays.
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