Good morning Everyone!
I was talking last week to someone who recently had the chance to visit Armenia and some of the “stans” to the South of Russia, which used to be part of the Soviet Union but are now their own countries. She had the chance to meet many individuals from those countries, and one day met an individual who felt great outrage at the decision of one Congressman to introduce a resolution supporting independence for a province in one of the countries in the region. She had a very difficult time trying to get him to understand that, in this country, a Congressman really doesn’t need the approval of anyone else to introduce a resolution. It was even harder for him to understand that one, non-voted upon resolution does not make a statement regarding the official foreign policy of the United States. Apparently, at least in the country she was in, no bill is introduced unless “the party” (and I don’t exactly know what “the party” meant since I don’t remember the country in which this discussion occurred ) approves it first and expects it to become law.
My friend tried to explain to her friend that in the U.S., legislators can introduce anything they want, provided they follow the correct steps, and then the legislative body (in this case Congress) votes on whether it will become official. Even then, it is not really an official foreign policy statement until the President, through the State Department, says it is. That concept simply didn’t compute with her friend.
I was kind of glad that the conversation stopped there; just imagine the further confusion that would have resulted had the same resolution been introduced in one of the state legislatures. FN.
To understand why, we are going to eavesdrop on a conversation between the great modern-day explorer and adventurer, Hester Ugg of Bowling Green, Kentucky and two acquaintances from various countries in the fertile crescent.
Ahmed: I see where your country has decided to turn its back on ?istan after everything it did for you.
Hester, ignoring the fact that how much ?istan did or didn’t do for the U.S. remained to be determined: What do you mean?
Vladimir, glowering: Joe “Mint Julep” Smith introduced a resolution in the legislature that recognizes the independence movement in -istan’s province 3 be officially recognized.
Hester, knowing that there was no individual in the United States legislature named Joe “Mint Julep” Smith: What are you talking about?
Ahmed shoves the paper in front of her, saying: It says so right here.
Hester smothering a laugh as she reads the article: Um, Ahmed, that’s not Congress, just a state legislature.
Ahmed: What do you mean? It’s the government, right?
Hester: Yes, and no. Technically, it is only the government for one state. The state legislatures can’t speak for the United States.
Ahmed, sarcastically: And how many governments do you have, then?
Vladimir, interrupting: Of course it can. That’s what this article says!
Hester, apologetically: Well, really, Vladimir, that article must have been written by someone who doesn’t know our government works.
Ahmed, to himself: I’m not even sure the Americans understand the way their government works.
Hester: I heard that!
Vladimir: How does it work, then?
Hester: We have a federal government that speaks for the whole country, and state governments that speak for each of the individual states.
Ahmed: Your states are in the country, aren’t they?
Hester: Yes, of course they are.
Vladimir: The federal government, you say, speaks for the whole country, yes?
Ahmed: So why do you need any other governments?
Hester: Because in my country, the federal government can only speak about some things, not all things, and those things that aren’t the federal government’s business are decided by the states.
Vladimir and Ahmed stare blankly at her.
Hester sighed. Apparently, this was going to take some time…..
TO BE CONTINUED…..
Have a great day and weekend everyone!
FN. (Constitutional purists out there, please ignore for a minute the fact that foreign policy is a federal function and just go along with me here; besides I am quite sure that some legislator in the great state of Alabama is capable of introducing a non-binding resolution urging Congress to consider some kind of statement supporting independence somewhere.)