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Good Reads: Pakistan summons outspoken envoy Haqqani, Kenya's Somali operation

Pakistan's envoy to the US, Ambassador Husain Haqqani, explains why Pakistan cannot simply clear out militants from its mountainous regions, while Kenya marches into Somalia to try a similar task.

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Many foreign observers have questioned the timing of the attack and whether Kenya had launched the operation with clear goals and with an exit strategy. But Daniel Branch writes in Foreign Affairs magazine that Kenya’s military operation may be the result of the ambitions of some of its own senior politicians as well as the growing confidence of Kenya’s military leaders in their military’s capabilities.

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Nairobi's incursion into Somalia was spurred less by the threat of al Shabaab and more by domestic military and political dynamics. Kenya will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its independence in 2013, and so far the country has never once gone to war with another state. But recently, as Washington has funnelled counterterrorism funds into East Africa and underwritten a stronger Kenyan military, the country's military has grown more confident and combative.

And finally, let’s consider a very old trend indeed: the sexually straying political male. From the Founding Fathers to President Bill Clinton and his arch-nemesis Newt Gingrich, who both had affairs while in office back in the 1990s, political leaders seem to have difficulty with the whole marital commitment thing.

In Salon.com, historians Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg compare today’s sex scandals – from Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky to Republican candidate Herman Cain – to those of American historical figures, particularly Alexander Hamilton. There doesn’t seem to be a marked increase in marital infidelity, they write, but what has changed is that today's political environment has become toxic, confrontational, and dangerously dysfunctional.

The voting public has been led to expect spotless candidates, which is a prime reason why negative ads poll so well.  The idea that men can behave honorably at all times, and that their secrets should be kept because of some outdated–and frankly, perverted–code of honor, is a dangerous proposition.  It sours the political environment, which is in need of a massive overhaul as it is.  The idea that candidates are legally bought by corporate interests and association lobbies is a most unrepublican and unAmerican perversion of our founding principles. The lies and attacks, counter-lies and counter-attacks, that course through the election cycle epitomize the difference between the theory and practice of democracy.

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