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Sunday, April 1, 2007

GBN News Editorial: April 1, 2007

The planned exchange of positions between New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and Tajikistan President Emomali Rakhmon raises a number of concerns. Protests in the former Soviet republic continue, and many Tajiks are calling it the worst trade since the Mets swapped Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi. But though New York may seem to have gotten the better end of the deal this time, unintended consequences may ensue in the long run. Does this projection of power halfway across the globe foreshadow the foreign policy of a future President Bloomberg? And with much of the world already questioning our motives in Iraq and elsewhere, will sending an autocrat from the U.S. to control a foreign country only serve to reinforce our image as “ugly Americans”?

All of this may seem like an elaborate April Fools’ joke, and of course it is. Sadly for New Yorkers, Joel Klein remains entrenched at Tweed for the rest of Mayor Bloomberg’s term. And the people of Tajikistan will have to put up with at least seven more years of their President’s university cell phone bans, mandatory name changes, and other quirky decrees. (Though as we reported yesterday, unlike the manner in which our CEC’s are selected, at least all their citizens get to vote in their meaningless elections).

Nevertheless, it still begs the real question as to what a Bloomberg presidency would be like, should that ever come to pass. The concern here is that the same autocratic tendencies that Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein exhibit in running the city schools are not so different from the way President Bush has pursued his own agenda (or the way Mr. Rakhmon pursues his). While Mayor Bloomberg is clearly brighter and less of an ideologue than President Bush, both men continue to insist that they are infallible on every issue, and both refuse to involve those affected by their decision making or to consider alternative points of view. Their methods, as we have seen in recent US foreign and domestic policy fiascos as well as in the the state of the New York City schools, are a recipe for disaster. And that is no April Fools’ joke.

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