Nuclear Weapons

Why Are Iran and the Vatican Cooperating?

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I’m a bit late in posting this, but I have written the cover story for the January 29 issue of The Catholic Herald on the curious relationship between Iran and the Holy See. Here’s a taste:

Tiny though it is, the Holy See is an important sovereign entity – one with immense influence and moral force within the West. While not afraid to pour scorn on American-style capitalism, the Pope can influence US public opinion: witness the crowds of non-Catholics who gathered to applaud his stance on climate change. The influence works both ways, however. Without the 70 million American Catholics, the Vatican would struggle to keep afloat financially.

Iran seems to have concluded that courting the Holy See allows it to tap into the complex and important relations between the Catholic Church and America. Moreover, this week’s Francis-Rouhani dialogue serves to soften the image of Iran in countries all over the world with significant numbers of Catholics.

Read the whole thing here.

Happy Belated Veterans Day, But Not to Salon

My apologies to whoever actually reads my work. I have been contending with personal and family issues for the past week—specifically my gravely ill brother. But it’s time for a few words on an important subject, even if they are a bit late.

We just passed Veterans Day, and with the predictability of a coke freak reaching for a shard of broken mirror, Salon has published its annual teenage tantrum against the U.S. military. They must think this is still impressive and edgy to do, like wearing bell bottoms, and I wouldn’t be surprised if next year’s slander is already commissioned and queued up. This year’s breach of good manners comes from David Masciotra. (I’m not linking to it.) The editors chose the headline “You don’t protect my freedom: Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heroes deadens real democracy.” One wonders what “real democracy” is; it must be something like a true Scotsman. (more…)

What Is “Containment”?

Like most other subjects, international relations quickly degenerates into an infinite regress of questions, competing theories and interpretations once one thinks about it for longer than a few minutes. In no field is the word “expert” less appropriate than in that which takes the entire globe as its laboratory.

Some of the confusion derives from the ambiguity of certain words and concepts in political theory. Since these words continue to influence the foreign policy of the United States and its allies, it is important to revisit this vocabulary on a regular basis. For instance, in a piece in Commentary back in February, Seth Mandel touched on the problem when he wrote: (more…)