Chicago Tribune (Continuación)

Religious freedom is the common sense of our era. It is easy to be swept up in the hype. We are told that the guarantee of religious freedom is what stands between us and pre-modern political orders based on tyrannical forms of religious authority that leave women and minorities in the dust. If religious freedom is what you need to be for if you are against the oppression of women and minorities, then who could oppose it? Who could even question it? Religious freedom stands in for the good and the right in many complex, difficult and often violent situations.

Or does it?…  Seguir leyendo »

People in Poland have begun to fear the priests, and this is not a good sign.

— Czeslaw Milosz, Polish poet awarded Nobel Prize in literature.

Throughout the Communist era, the Catholic Church in Poland was a bastion of freedom and a source of protection from and opposition to the communist authorities. Activists received protection from the Catholic Church and refuge in churches across the nation. Throughout those years the Catholic Church grew in strength and influence. It emerged from the communist era not only as the highest moral authority but also as the most powerful institution in the country.

Cuba is no Poland.…  Seguir leyendo »

As a boy growing up in China, I read in my high school history textbook about Shen Chong, a female student at Peking University who was raped by two American Marines on Christmas Eve of 1946. The official U.S. troops had been deployed to China in 1942 to help the country fight Japan and stayed on after 1945 to assist the Nationalist government, against the Communist guerrillas, in retaking territories once occupied by Japan.

Chong's rape prompted nationwide protests against American brutality and the American military presence in China and holds a prominent spot in Chinese history today.

Fast-forward to the tragic shooting of 16 Afghan civilians, allegedly by an American sergeant.…  Seguir leyendo »

So Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has just been re-presidented for at least another six years, during which we can all watch his newly tucked eyes migrate back to where they used to be. And as surely as a pound dog comes with fleas, this election came with "irregularities" — cloaked in "democracy," as the Russians practice it.

For instance, there were 200,000 webcams to monitor the polling stations, but all fed directly into the Kremlin. There were also candidates other than Putin. See if you can name one. If you can't, blame the Russian authorities, who refused to allow anyone competitive on the ballot.…  Seguir leyendo »

Many are criticizing the Obama administration's decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan in 2013. They say it is too soon.

I say it is not soon enough. After spending the past year working in Afghanistan trying to account for billions of dollars spent there by U.S. taxpayers, I say why wait another year? Let's bring our military and civilian personnel home — now.

Our mission to remove Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders has been accomplished. But our attempts to build a peaceful, more modern and democratic Afghanistan are failing miserably.

Implementing a nation-building plan in a country that is unprepared, unwilling and unable to accept the fundamental components of a democratic state is an impossible mission.…  Seguir leyendo »

The governments in Russia and China very much want to uphold the principle that every now and then, the state must crush people who want freedom. That is why they worked together to veto a fairly toothless United Nations resolution condemning the regime in Syria and calling for President Bashar Assad, the lipless murderer who runs the place, to step down.

The free world, still nominally led by the United States, erupted in outrage. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denounced the U.N. Security Council veto as a "travesty." U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said the U.S. was "disgusted" by it.…  Seguir leyendo »

It's bad enough when politicians and true believers distort scientific findings for their own purposes. But when scientists do it, we've reached a dangerous point in intellectual discourse.

Such is the case with the widespread belief that evidence of global warming is incontrovertible. Thankfully, some scientists courageously have decided to publicly challenge this numbing, politically correct dogma.

Among them isNobel Prize-winningphysicist Ivar Giaever, who recently resigned from the American Physical Society because he couldn't accept the group's policy statement that the "evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring …" and mitigating action must be taken immediately to avert certain ruination. He asked, "In the APS, it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multiuniverse behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?"…  Seguir leyendo »

Nearly 30 years ago, Greg told me how it was, cutting the ears off dead men.

I had sought out Vietnam veterans to interview for a story about a pop song that was inspired by the war, "19" by Paul Hardcastle. Greg gave me an earful.

He explained how it is when the skin rots right off your foot. How it is when children are rigged to explode, so your first instinct is to shoot them when they come running up to you. How it is when the sight of an Asian face or the sound of a helicopter is enough to flash you from city streets to Vietnamese jungles.…  Seguir leyendo »

Once again, socialism has put a silver fork in itself. Standard & Poor's has downgraded France'sAAA credit rating, giving the country the side-eye on its claims to have its debt under control. This means the country will now have to pay it all back at an even higher interest rate.

Whom are we kidding? No one's paying back any debts right now. You need money to do that. When was the last time France had any extra cash lying around? It's like raising the interest rate on the credit card of an addict who's pumping capital into his veins faster than any German, Chinese or Russian can slip him a tenner.…  Seguir leyendo »

The video showing Marines urinating on dead enemy bodies in Afghanistan has refocused America's attention on the behavior of service members. We have been painfully aware of the strategic implications of this kind of action since we saw the photos from Abu Ghraib. How could something like this happen now? Something is broken.

We remember with sorrow the U.S. service members and contractors killed in combat whose bodies were desecrated by our enemies. The humiliations visited on bodies raise feelings of disgust for the enemy and empathy for our own, compounded by the pointlessness of the humiliations. It would be useful to assume that our enemies feel likewise today.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's reaction to Moscow protesters perfectly illustrates how the former Soviet spy chief can masterfully leverage classic subversion strategies typically found in espionage to undermine the opposition and even ridicule the concept of democracy.

In the wake of the Russian parliamentary vote in early December, a Russian opposition leader far more radically communist than Putin was jailed, and protesters hit the streets to protest what they considered electoral fraud and vote-rigging that led to the crushing victory of Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev's governing United Russia Party.

Most of what spies do involves subversion — not information collection, as we tend to see in the movies.…  Seguir leyendo »

There's a genre of fiction called alternative or "what if" history. As in, what if Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee defeated the Union at the Battle of Gettysburg? Or, what if Hitler had not been born?

Or, what if the United States had not invaded Iraq?

That's a fair question, now that U.S. troops have withdrawn , prompting the question: "Was the Iraq War worth it?"

We well know about the horrible costs of the war: almost 4,500 American troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis killed and more than $1 trillion spent. But while we've heard a lot about the cost side of this equation, we've heard not so much about the benefit side.…  Seguir leyendo »

It is oddly poetic that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il's death fell in the days leading up to Christmas, one of the most family-centered times of the year. While the abuses under Kim and his father's regime have been mainly directed at their own people, the far-reaching consequences have touched many more, even my own family in the U.S.

Speculations abound about what Kim's death portends for international relations. Only a few voices, however, are heard of the millions who have suffered most directly from the dictatorships of the Dear and Eternal Leaders. It is no secret that North Korea routinely violates human rights.…  Seguir leyendo »

It began snowing in Moscow that year on Sept. 23 and it did not stop snowing until mid-April. The grayness of the weather matched the grayness of the waning years of Leonid Brezhnev's era as Soviet premier.

Winter moved in and obliterated what was left of fall.

A darkness, all but impenetrable, fell over the city. When you looked out the windows of your apartment, you could see the snow flashing and dancing in the halo of the streetlights, but there was no joy to it.

I was there with my valiant wife and my young family, a total American completely out of place, lost in a hostile world and longing for a connection with anything vaguely spiritual.…  Seguir leyendo »

A lot has changed since the 1990s. Back then, U.S. global supremacy was unchallenged, and its unconditional support for Israel hardly came at a price. Today, the Middle East is dramatically transformed. The tectonic shifts in the region's politics and the Palestinian's new political approach have redrawn the playing field. While it is not uncommon to see great powers being slow in readapting their politics, the U.S. is moving far too slowly to retain its share of regional influence.

A prime example is the unchanged U.S. policy toward Israel. The U.S. continues to provide unconditional diplomatic cover for Israeli policies that are detrimental to the peace process, such as settlement construction and human rights violations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Silence. Just silence from the U.N. Silence from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. And silence from major media outlets throughout the world.

Imagine for just a moment if this were happening to cities in, say, Texas. Imagine that the citizens of El Paso, Laredo and San Antonio have to stay inside their homes. Schools are closed, businesses are shut and people have to suspend their lives. Not because of some natural disaster or a nuclear or chemical accident, because groups in Mexico have purchased and are firing thousands of deadly missiles at Texans across the border. Sometimes a school is hit, sometimes a grocery store, and every so often someone is killed.…  Seguir leyendo »

Global leaders are meeting in Durban, South Africa, in an attempt to figure out how to continue their fight against "climate change" when the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period ends in 2012. Since I'm sitting here in the dark with the heat off, perhaps they'd grant me the temporary moral authority to offer a few suggestions for their agenda.

•Don't waste any time fiddling with the planet's thermostat. So the big achievement of the previous summit in Cancun, Mexico, was agreeing that the Earth's temperature must not be permitted to increase by 2 degrees Celsius? Look, I've been in European gyms with air conditioning that can't even be controlled within the space of a few thousand square feet, despite regular intervention by head-scratching specialists.…  Seguir leyendo »

Speculation over an Israeli bombing mission to destroy Iran's nuclear program is at fever pitch.

The consequences of such a strike would be staggering. Iran has vast retaliatory capacity. Missiles would be sent into oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. Hezbollah would launch thousands of missiles against Israel from southern Lebanon. Iran's proxies in Iraq would mount new terror campaigns against withdrawing American troops.

And these are just for starters.

Worse, any Israeli strike would set back Iran's program, but hardly end it. The key to any successful nuclear program is software — technical knowledge — not hardware. It is the hardware that Israel will destroy.…  Seguir leyendo »

The slogan for last week's G-20 meeting in France was "New World, New Ideas." It should have been "Same World, Bad Ideas." High drama played out in front of the world press as members of the G-20 family squabbled with each other in various displays of political showmanship. Here's a rundown of what really happened at this dysfunctional family reunion:

•Greece Junior has maxed out his credit cards, now sponges off Mom and Dad, but doesn't want Mom and Dad all up in his business. Maman France and Vater Germany have maxed out their own line of credit to fund Greece Junior's lifestyle, to the point of further considering selling themselves to the foreigners if junior can't reel himself in.…  Seguir leyendo »