DOES ELY, MINNESOTA, NEED A FOREIGN POLICY?: I’m paraphrasing Henry Kissinger’s now-very-irrelevant pre-9/11 book “Does America Need a Foreign Policy” to illustrate the curious case of Ely, a small town (population 3700) in northeastern Minnesota that’s going through a major (?) crisis. As reported in today’s Star Tribune, Ely’s city council on February 18 passed a resolution, by a vote of 4-2, to oppose the war in Iraq. While praised by some, the resolution has caused a town-wide uproar, and led many in Ely to question the council members’ patriotism and demand their resignations- to the point that the council is considering rescinding the resolution. A town meeting held Tuesday night was attended by nearly 300 people, and the Iraq debate “pitted friend against friend,” according to the Strib account.
The question of whether or not to go to war in Iraq is a highly important one, which will affect the future of our nation like few have in recent history. The question of how the politicians in Ely, Minnesota, feel about the war is not quite so important. In a time when the US is prepared to potentially go to war without the approval of the UN Security Council, I don’t imagine the question of which side Ely, Minnesota’s city council comes down on is something that’s going to keep President Bush, Tony Blair, or Saddam Hussein up at night. Nor is the similar vote by the New York City Council, or by (God help us all) the Brandeis student body. All politics may be local, but when politicians are elected to regional offices (whether a small town city council or a student government), there’s no reason why administration of geopolitical decisions should be part of the job’s criteria.
Relax, people of Ely: even if the worst-case scenario occurs and the terrorists manage to detonate weapons of mass destruction in every major US city, Ely is far enough from Minneapolis/St. Paul to be safe.
(Damn, I hope Lileks writes about this…)

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