Palin has world's news covered

Unless you've been off hunting moose in, er, the wilds of Alaska, you probably know what a big deal some folks have been making of Gov. Sarah Palin's alleged lack of foreign policy experience.

In her first major media test, Palin fielded questions Thursday from ABC's Charles Gibson. She seemed a bit fuzzy on the Bush Doctrine (the right to pre-emptive self-defense), but you have to hand it to her for correctly pronouncing the surname of Georgia's president (sah-kahsh-VIH-leh.)

Unfortunately, all the attention on Sen. John McCain's telegenic running mate has shoved actual foreign news so far into the background you'd think it had disappeared into one of those feared Super Collider "black holes.'' So here's a quick recap of things you might have missed.

PAKISTAN/AFGHANISTAN Seven years after the 9/11 attacks, top Pentagon officials warned Congress on Wednesday that the U.S. military is "running out of time'' to win the war in Afghanistan. The New York Times revealed that President Bush had secretly authorized cross-border strikes against Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries in Pakistan.

Palin endorsed the idea in her ABC interview, putting her at odds with McCain, who called it "naive'' when Democratic candidate Barack Obama suggested the same thing a while back.

In other news from the war on terror, Ali Zardari, husband of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was sworn in Tuesday as Pakistan's president. The secular Zardari pledges to crack down on Islamic radicals more energetically than Pervez Musharraf did, which isn't necessarily saying a lot.

The bad news: Do U.S. taxpayers want a man nicknamed "Mr. 10 percent'' — the cut he allegedly took on contracts while his wife was in office — overseeing $15-billion in American aid?

ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT Once again peace talks have stalled, this time because Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to resign in coming days because of corruption allegations. His likely successor: Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Like the GOP vice presidential nominee, Livni is a working mom (two kids) and a tough cookie — she served as a lieutenant in the Israel Defense Force. But we don't know how Livni and Sarah "moose stew'' Palin will get along. Livni reportedly is a vegetarian. One point in Palin's favor in Israeli eyes: she told ABC she wouldn't "second-guess'' any strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

RUSSIA/GEORGIA When the network news last paid any attention to this part of the world, Russian troops had stormed into Georgia to "protect'' the rights of people in two pro-Russian provinces.

The Russians are still there — surprise! — and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the European Union president, made his second trip to the area trying to broker a peace deal. Russia agreed on Monday to withdraw its troops by mid October, only to say on Tuesday that it had no intention of doing so.

Palin — who's photographed even more than Sarkozy's supermodel wife, Carla Bruni — told ABC she favors admitting Georgia and Ukraine to NATO even if it might risk war with Russia (which is so close to Alaska that she can almost see what people are having for dinner in Beringovsky). But Palin did note that diplomatic solutions would be preferable to war.

LIBYA Speaking of diplomacy, poor Condoleezza Rice. With the U.S. media focused on Palin's $300 titanium specs and "bridge to nowhere'' flip-flops, only eight reporters accompanied the secretary of state on last week's historic trip to Libya, now free of nuclear materials and off the state-sponsors-of-terrorism list.

In the first high-level contact between the two countries in 50 years, Rice gave Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi a plate with the seal of the United States. He gave her a locket and an autographed copy of The Green Book, his revolutionary call to arms.

Last week, The Green Book ranked 1,645,370th on Amazon. Considerably more popular: Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down.

By week's end, it had rocketed to No. 11.

Susan Taylor Martin can be contacted at susan@sptimes.com.

Palin has world's news covered 09/13/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 1:50pm]

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