The surprise restoration of relations between the United States and Cuba represents a major victory for the pope. Is it cause for celebration?
“How many divisions does the pope of Rome have?” That was Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s reply after British Prime Minister Winston Churchill advised him, in the aftermath of World War ii, to consider the Vatican’s perspective while laying out a plan for the future of Eastern Europe.
Stalin respected only brute force. The Vatican had none, so he dismissed it as irrelevant.
But today Stalin and the Soviet behemoth he led are long gone, while the papal system remains. And it was actually a pope—blending politics with religion—who sparked the revolution that eventually toppled the Berlin Wall, and brought down that Soviet system.
- U.S. and Cuban officials have held mid-level discussions in Washington and Havana
- ‘We’re in talks’ with Cuba on a wide range of issues, agreed Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes on Tuesday
- Middle-men including Latin American diplomats have also been carrying messages back and forth between Washington and Havana
- U.S.-Cuba relations have seen an unprecedented thaw since President Obama took office, and a host of lawmakers with Cuban ties are upset
- America’s 50-year-long trade embargo with the communist nation has been slammed by the UN but embraced by survivors of the Castro regime
The handshake seen ’round the water cooler was no fluke, it turns out. Continue reading
U.S. and Western weapons have been reaching Iranian-backed Shiite militias fighting to keep Bashar Assad’s forces in power in Syria.
Analysts say it’s unclear if the weapons were captured, stolen or bought on the black market in Syria, Turkey, Iraq or Libya. Propaganda photographs from Shiite militias posted on dozens of websites and Facebook pages show the weapons were acquired in new condition, said Phillip Smyth, an analyst for Jihadology.net, a site affiliated with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Continue reading