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Interpreting the news

Interpreting the news

Recently we had to go toNevis, and discovered that American Airlines had cancelled the flight because of what appeared to be a crash and fire on the runway. So we flew to St. Kitts and took the ferry.

Sometime later we drove past the airport, and noticed that planes were arriving and departing, and that there appeared to be no wreckage. When we asked, we discovered that the large fire truck had broken down and was waiting for a part, and that American was uncomfortable with the capacity of the smaller fire truck in case of a crash, and had therefore cancelled their flights until the big truck was repaired. Other airlines, flying smaller planes, had no such concerns, and were still flying.

The lesson here is twofold. The first lesson is that it is good to have alternative plans in place before you need to get in our out of a country, and for dealing with emergencies.

The second lesson is that what you read may not always explain what is happening. We saw this recently when the sister of a friend asked her fruit vendor, who was fromKandahar, how things were in his country. He said that there was not really much of a country left, as the Americans had blown up everything built since the Soviets had blown everything up. She then asked how they were dealing with the bad guys from al Qaeda, and he replied with some puzzlement that the people from al Qaeda were the ones giving them food and medical supplies, and visiting their children in the hospital. If this sounds familiar, it is because it replicates the experience of Hamas being a primary source of social services inPalestine, and winning the election. This chicken-in-the-pot approach is a factor that should be considered in understanding the effect of foreign policy, and yet is often is not thought through or taken into account.

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