Politics & Current Events

President Obama, Vladimir Putin and the Middle East

Apr 2nd, 2016 | By

In the April 2016 edition of The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg offers one of the more insightful articles to date on President Obama’s foreign policy—and, since his presidency is nearly over, his legacy. The article presents insights into the mind of President Obama found nowhere else. For me, one of the more valuable aspects of the article, which was based on a series of candid interviews Goldberg had with the president, is Obama’s views of the Middle East. Goldberg summarizes Obama’s perspective: “Obama has come to a number of dovetailing conclusions about the world, and about America’s role in it. The first is that the Middle East is no longer terribly important to American interests. The second is that even if the Middle East were surprisingly important, there would still be little an American president could do to make it a better place. The third is . . .”

America’s Passive World Leadership: The Consequences

Mar 12th, 2016 | By

Former US Senator and vice presidential candidate, Joseph Lieberman, has recently observed: “The simple fact is that there is more instability in the world today than at any time since the end of World War II. . .The absence of American leadership has certainly not caused all the instability, but it has encouraged and exacerbated it.” Lieberman and others have argued as well that with America’s passive role, a vacuum has been created. As with all things, something will fill that vacuum. Consider these facts:

Pope Francis and Patriarch Krill: Healing a Thousand Year Split?

Mar 5th, 2016 | By

On Friday, 12 February 2016, Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church (representing 1.2 billion Catholics) and Patriarch Krill of the Russian Orthodox Church (representing 150,000 Russian Orthodox Christians) met in a room at the Havana, Cuba airport. This historic meeting was made possible by the maneuverings of Vladimir Putin, who is closely aligned with the conservative Russian Orthodox Church. In a joint declaration issued after their meeting, among other things, they affirmed, “It is our hope that our meeting may contribute to the re-establishment of this unity willed by God.”

Remembering Justice Antonin Scalia

Feb 27th, 2016 | By

On Saturday, 13 February 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia died. Scalia was 79 years old and had been married to Maureen McCarthy Scalia for 55 years. Together they raised nine children (5 sons and 4 daughters) and had more than two dozen grandchildren. He had been a Supreme Court justice for nearly 30 years. Nicknamed the “Leader of the Opposition,” Scalia was indisputably the voice of conservative jurisprudence on the Court and for the larger culture. Arguably one of the most brilliant justices on the Court, Scalia will be sorely missed.

Is Politics the Answer to the Human Condition?

Feb 13th, 2016 | By

The presidential primary season has begun, but, unlike recent elections, we have two extreme candidates—Bernie Sanders on the leftwing of the Democratic Party and Donald Trump, who fits no label. Since he began his run for the Republican nomination, Trump’s positions on key issues have changed radically. It continues to baffle me personally why people find him appealing. As for evangelical Christians, I find it troublesome that he is taken seriously, for his lifestyle, his values, his demeanor and his language bear no resemblance whatsoever to biblical values, virtues, morals or ethical standards. But that is not the point of this edition of Issues, which probes the role politics plays in solving the problems of the human condition. Consider these thoughts:

A New Order for Europe?

Jan 30th, 2016 | By

After the devastation of World War I and the abject horror of World War II, Europe turned a significant corner in world history: Instead of embracing the nation-state with its competing passions for territory and power, Europe made a commitment to integrate itself economically and financially, but not politically. The nation states with their clearly defined borders would remain, but the economies and currencies of those nation states would integrate together into what eventually becoming the European Union (EU). The EU was to be the New Order for Europe. . . Today, that dream of a unified and integrated Europe is under tremendous stress. Indeed, a new European order may be emerging.

Volatility in the 2016 Middle Eastern Cauldron

Jan 16th, 2016 | By

Predicting what events will occur in the year 2016 is dangerous and rarely helpful. However, one thing seems certain about 2016: The Middle East will be on center stage. No matter what occurs in Asia or Europe, the world continues to be drawn to the Middle Eastern cauldron. It seems reasonable to conclude that this region will remain unstable, volatile and terribly dangerous. Events of the last few days validate this assumption. Consider these developments:

Thoughts for Our Next President

Jan 2nd, 2016 | By

The year 2016 is a presidential election year and, although it seems as if the campaign began in early 2015, as we move into the New Year, voters will begin to get serious about a candidate. I am not interested in speculating on who will or who should win the election in November. I want to devote this edition of Issues to some thoughts for the future president and, by extension, for the voters who will elect that president.

Arbitrary Benchmarks in the Climate Change Debate

Dec 19th, 2015 | By

As I am writing this, the UN Paris Climate Change Conference involving about 190 nations is in its second week of negotiations. The exact result of this major conference is not yet known. But one of the most important elements of the climate change debate is the key benchmark set for acceptable rise in global temperature. For decades, climate treaty discussions have been framed by the conviction that a rise in the planet’s average global temperature of two degrees Celsius or more above preindustrial levels would usher in catastrophic climate change. Why has this 2 degree Celsius limit taken on a life of its own? Where did it originate and why? Is it a reliable benchmark for the world to follow or is it an arbitrary benchmark?

ISIS, Terror and Theology: Understanding Paris

Nov 21st, 2015 | By

Since 2014, President Obama has consistently underestimated ISIS. For example, in January of 2014, he characterized ISIS as the “JV” team and that it “was not a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into.” Shortly before the horrific ISIS attack in Paris last week, he declared that “I don’t think [ISIS] is gaining strength” for “we have contained them.” However, ISIS recently blew up a Russian airliner over the Sinai, engineered a bombing in Lebanon, and has expanded into more than half-dozen countries—and then carried out the strategic and coordinated attack in Paris; the worst attack on Paris since World War II.