On the very day the French announce a successful military operation in Africa that rightfully ends the life of terrorist leader Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the Biden administration announces the AUKUS submarine deal that completely annuls a $66 billion contract France had with Australia ("U.S.-Aussie sub deal angers France, China," Sept. 17). Sahrawi was involved in the killing of American service members in Niger in 2017 and has led numerous other high-profile attacks and murders. Thus, the U.S. should be applauding the French action. Instead, with the AUKUS announcement, the administration undercut the French in a very public manner.
AUKUS is perhaps the first indication that this administration takes the long-term defense of America and our allies seriously, so I am not condemning it. But as with the Afghanistan withdrawal failure, it appears that in their haste to finally have a foreign policy success to tout in the media, they once again bumbled.
Despite the president's denials, a simple review of the news from the last month indicates that our European allies were furious with the administration's deadly mishandling of the Afghanistan evacuation and the resultant stranding of thousands who we promised to get out. Britain and France were especially critical of our lack of coordination and the easily foreseeable outcome of the administration's poor decisions. These are allies who have stood by the U.S. despite the vicissitudes of our Afghan policy over the last 20 years. They deserved better.
The AUKUS deal is a good start in healing the rift with England, but in the administration's haste to get a win into the news, it doubled down on embarrassing the French. Perhaps a better-led State Department and Defense Department could have realized this and taken a little extra time to bring the French in. With our credibility and deterrent capability globally damaged, I would hope the administration can eventually find some leaders to install who can actually understand second-, third- and fourth-order effects.
Britain has done the right thing and demoted its foreign minister over the Afghanistan debacle. Because of that debacle and because of its tone-deafness regarding critical allies, for the good of America, the Biden administration should take the same path and do some immediate housecleaning among the appointed officials at the State and Defense Departments. We need leadership that knows what to do. Not the leadership displayed by the secretary of state in congressional testimony in which he took a rather cavalier approach by claiming that we just have to learn from our mistakes.
It will be interesting to find out if the U.S. knew where Sahrawi was but did nothing, and if the French finally took action due to frustration at our indecision. I never thought I would live in a world in which the French and their leadership appears militarily and geopolitically competent, and our "leadership" appears so feckless and weak.
Jeffrey D. Vold, Plymouth
The writer is a retired colonel, United States Marine Corps Reserve.
MINNEAPOLIS BALLOT QUESTIONS
The point is to give more powerto the City Council. Sound good?
A Sept. 16 letter to the editor disputes the fact that the public safety amendment would remove the mayor's" executive" authority over the Minneapolis Police Department, arguing instead that this amendment is needed to remove what he refers to as the mayor's "legislative" power over the Police Department, which the letter writer insists properly belongs to the City Council. This argument confuses legislative power (passing laws) and executive power (how to execute laws). The City Council has passed ordinances regarding the Police Department (for example, establishing the Police Civilian Oversight Commission and the Office of Police Conduct Review), but our city attorney specifically determined that the attempt to pass an ordinance regulating lethal force by the police went beyond the council's "legislative" powers because this ordinance "would impermissibly intrude upon the authority of the Mayor and the Police Chief to direct the daily operations of the police department."
Make no mistake that the public safety amendment is intended to give the City Council more influence over these day-to-day operations. Voters may agree or disagree with this result, but they should cast their votes on this amendment with a clear understanding of this intent.
John Satorius, Minneapolis
After a week of reports about police work slowdowns and even more abuse, passing the public safety amendment is even more clearly needed to allow greater flexibility in how the city manages public safety. No other Minneapolis department has minimum staffing requirements in the city charter. The mayor and council need flexibility to adapt to what they think is best rather than being tied to a 60-year-old requirement that was considered self-interested even at the time. Minneapolis residents deserve better.
Arlene Mathison, Minneapolis
I don't live in the city of Minneapolis, but I own a business there. So whatever happens with this amendment, I must abide by it, but don't have the right to vote for it (or against it). I would like to see the new proposed Department of Public Safety set up and running before the Police Department is replaced. Once that new department is up and running, an evaluation can be made whether it works better than the current system. I think people who oppose this change, including myself, could be reassured that this new plan can be implemented and that it makes sense to have a new system that "could include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary."
Janet Weivoda, St. Louis Park
Imagine living in South Carolina in 1968 while publicly endorsing feminism, desegregation and opposition to the war in Vietnam. That required a strong, steadfast belief in these ideals and a determination to stand for those beliefs despite overwhelming difference of opinion among the people I lived among. I bet I could "out-progressive" most leftist Yankees then, and I still can. With that in mind, I will vote against the ballot measure for restructuring the Minneapolis police because it is inadequate as a progressive proposal.
The City Council and backers of the ballot measure have had over a year and a half to design a decent Department of Public Safety but have done nothing except ask us to approve a vague plan that may or may not include ... well, anything, because no one has said what the new department might actually be or do. Richard Nixon campaigned on his "secret plan" to end the war in Vietnam, but as we learned there was no plan. From my exceedingly left-wing, progressive point of view, this ballot measure is a monument to underachievement, nothing more than and hardly different from Nixon's plan. Hopefully its backers can do some work and offer us a thoroughly developed and truly progressive plan to replace our currently failed system.
Chester Wilson, Minneapolis
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