Friday, June 29, 2007

The Dozier Disconnect

Every time I write about the Iraq War on Enclave, I try to underscore how the billions of dollars sent to Iraq and private contractors like Halliburton are siphoning resources that could best be used on domestic programs that affect cities and neighborhoods and homeland security. Our continuing presence in Iraq is doing little to bring democracy to the Middle East and is in fact a drain on money that could be used to promote domestic development.

So, should mayors be voting to encourage the Bush Administration to find a "swift and prudent" means of redeployment? Absolutely. Should our Mayor be voting for it, given the impact of foreign policy on our local conditions? Absolutely. Polls show that Iraq is considered a war not worth fighting. And Mayors are as invested in that reality as the President is, if not more so.

Hence, Buck Dozier's response to the City Paper regarding Bill Purcell's recent vote on the Iraq War shows how much he lacks a considered grasp of the impact of federal policy on local governance:

The mayor’s not going to be focused on those kinds of issues … and, really, just to be frank with you, as a mayor, I want to focus on the things going on here. … Of all the issues that mayors have got in this country, I’m surprised they took the time to deal with that.
To suggest that the Iraq War is not "going on here," is not affecting the daily lives of the people who live in Nashville, and is not of any significance for the Mayor's Office is naive and insular.

Crime and blight are positively turned around by block grant and other neighborhood development funds, which themselves are drying up because this President chooses to continue to transfer tanker loads of tax dollars down the black hole that is Iraq. Federal support is one less tool a Mayor has to run the city thanks to the Iraq War.

In the end the Dozier Disconnect ties the hands of the Mayor's Office. By his very logic, there is no need for Mayors to meet in conferences in order to develop comprehensive strategies for influencing federal policies to help rather than hinder cities. We have seen over and over again that the world is interconnected, not hived off into sheltered, impervious, and hermetically sealed cells. Those who do not claim a stake in federal policies and international issues fall behind.

A Mayor who would so confine himself to a cavity of limited influence is not a Mayor that could act on behalf of Nashville at any broader level. He's not the kind of Mayor we need today.


  1. Okay now Mike. Surely you realize that you missed Dozier's point. Certainly the war in Iraq affects us all, but the Mayor cannot change foreign policy...and certainly not with controversial and non-binding resolutions. The Mayor DOES need to focus on the things he CAN impact, like real threats in our own neighborhoods. Dozier's response that the mayor of our city needs to address the “war on our streets” is right on target. I applaud him for not wasting his time (like others) giving a politically correct response (and note how tight the actual vote of the U. S. Conference of Mayors was anyway!) I also believe YOUR correlation of spending for the war in Iraq with federal funds available for cities is completely imaginary. Don’t you know that Congress makes those appropriations and those bills are certainly NOT co-dependant? Finally, your last two paragraphs are just silly. Taking an isolated statement and then using it as the basis for your obviously biased conclusions does not help your credibility.

  2. Indeed, I find it strange that you (Mike) start out the post talking quite correctly about trade-offs, and then you seem to be upset by the mayor's recognition of trade-offs.

    You correctly point out that every resource being used in Iraq is a resource not available to be use in the U.S. The opportunity cost of the war is all those things we gave up. It's a very high cost, and I think it's likely that the cost is not worth it--that is, I think some kind of withdrawal from Iraq is prudent (although I do worry a great deal about a possible resulting genocide).

    The Mayor also faces a trade-off: Every resource he spends lobbying the federal government to get out of Iraq is a resource that he is not using directly here in Nashville. Yes, it's possible (thought unlikely) that this lobbying might eventually be successful and direct more resources to Nashville, but therein lies the trade-off. After all, a national election resulted in a major upheaval in Congress in large part due to the war, and yet the new Congress seems completely unwilling or unable to change anything. Can Nashville's mayor really do much here? Perhaps I'm wrong, and he can, but I don't understand how.

    A supporter of the war could easily turn your argument against you--"We have seen over and over again that the world is not hived off into sheltered, impervious, and hermetically sealed cells. Those who do not claim a stake in federal policies and international issues fall behind. Nashville will benefit if we keep our troops in Iraq and 'win', because the world will be a safer place." I think that argument is probably incorrect, but it is not the argument of a madman or a jerk.

    My own crude guess is that getting out of Iraq is probably a good idea, that effort the Mayor spends on encouraging a withdrawal is probably wasted, and that local issues are more likely to receive attention if the mayor is focused on them.

  3. S-townMike has it right. There's been a dramatic increase in defense spending during the Bush presidency. While I would accept an argument that some $$ are necessary to support protecting the country from terrorists, I find it hard to believe that our money is being well spent in Iraq.

    It's absolutely within a mayor's purview to say, hey, nationally we have our priorities messed up. We're not being effective in Iraq [name your own reason....] so let's spend the $$ where they can do more good....I don't know if that's exactly what Purcell had in mind, but it is certainly something that smart mayors [and mayoral candidates] are thinking about.

  4. Not only has defense spending risen; most domestic spending has risen as well. Bush is the most profligate spender since LBJ.

    It's definitely within the mayor's perview to make such a statement, or to sign a statement made by the legislature. The question is whether spending time on this issue is the best use of his time.

  5. One of the best uses of federal money in this city has been redoing the projects into nice looking, mixed ownership/tenant housing. It has improved the look of our city and given those who live their dignity and a reason to have pride in their neighborhoods. The John henry Hale homes are last thoguh, since the feds cut this program out to help fund the war in Iraq. You are so right Mike.


    Truly, I say, this life of mine
    Is not so very precious
    That I ought live in fear--truth´s wine
    Perpetually refreshes,

    And though today is difficult
    Did I not speak for truth
    Still I might not survive assault:
    Who knows the future´s path?

    Not far from my abode, a child
    In swing upon the porch
    Chance bullet kills, a stray shot wild
    Though she had gone to church

    Or done her homework every night:
    The culture has grown thus
    Riddled with violence, nurtured fright,
    With chance perplexing us,

    So better it must be therefore
    To tell the truth, and act
    Accordingly, although a war
    One must condemn in fact.

    Too many have too much to gain
    For them not to grow angry
    When theft is threatened, but octane
    Of their wrath turns them gangly,

    Distorted, inefficient in
    Both feature and in action,
    So I observe, but that they sin,
    While they strive for redaction.

    It is a scramble--but not dodged
    In life comes every bullet;
    I have an old one, not dislodged
    A-sticking in my gullet.