Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

A Coming Permanent State of War?

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

Statist elites who are pushing for war may have more than geopolitical purposes for their actions, but also a domestic agenda, for it is historically through a militarized society that cultural change can be guided and enforced by the state.

It would extremely naive to assume that radical statist elites wishing to reshape society would settle for a limited war without an enforced militarization of youth that would then form future generations.

As the present US administration nears its final years, I continue to look for statist attempts to lock societal cultural change into stone. What better way to do that than to put a country on a permanent war footing, and to militarize and manipulate younger generations through forms of conscription and enforced public service.

But the cost may be too high, and the result too unpredictable: At least four forces of power stand against the United States in the Syria conflict: Iran and its client radicalized Shiite forces, radicalized Sunni forces backed by petrodollars, the Russian federation, and China. Each is capable not only of expanding the scope of conflict geopolitically, but also of disrupting the infrastructure and trade in the developed world through Internet weapons and through both conventional force and asymmetrical terror and disruption. Each of these four forces has a vested interest in toppling the United States from a dominant world position. The situation is unpredictably complex, and therefore, predictably unmanageable. To attempt a “manageable” war at this point may well be folly.

As Iran nears completion of its nuclear apprenticeship, the world also stumbles toward war. I pray that we find a way to remain at peace.

Here is the video for the 9/7/13 Vigil of Prayer for Peace at St. Peter’s Square in Rome. The homily of Pope Francis begins at minute 1:17:40 —

Here is the complete English text of his impassioned call for peace..

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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A Pogrom in 1389 Remembered

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Readers of S&SJ know that I admire the work of the medieval scholar Barbara Newman of Northwestern University, known by many for her studies of St. Hildegard of Bingen.

But Prof. Newman’s recent analysis of a document memorializing the 1389 anti-Jewish pogrom, the Passion of the Jews of Prague, is an education in itself.

The philosopher Bernard Lonergan, SJ, noted that scholarship can bring us to the common sense of another time and another place.
This Prof. Newman can do as can few others, with superb storytelling.

Antisemitism has a long and terrible history. It is very present today, sadly among a few heads of governments, notably in Iran.

For centuries, Jews experienced deadly pogroms at the hands of Christians and others, the pogrom of 1389 being particularly vicious.

For this reason, Prof. Newman’s article, The Passion of the Jews of Prague: The Pogrom of 1389 and the Lessons of a Medieval Parody [Church History 81:1 (March 2012), 1–26. © American Society of Church History, 2012. doi:10.1017/S0009640711001752] is worth close attention and study.

I’m looking forward to Prof. Newman’s forthcoming book, Medieval Crossover: Reading the Secular against the Sacred.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Clouds of War

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

For a while I’ve been considering whether the President’s decision to run for election from the Left, rather than the Center, didn’t forbode a major military event being a high probability prior to the November, 2012 election.

A wartime President garners wide support. Running from the Left doesn’t. This is not to say that this President would precipitate a war in order to win an election like the petty dictators who manipulate by alternatively declaring wars against internal and then external enemies as described in Natan Sharansky’s book, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. But with a conflict with Iran being an anticipated probability, it may be a safer environment politically to run from the far Left or the far Right if one were to assume that such a confrontation or conflict prior to the election would be inevitable.

I pray that an international military confrontation with Iran can be avoided. I’m concerned that such a confrontation could unleash geopolitical gambits by either or both China and Russia over long-standing grievances or goals in other parts of the world, and generate a highly-charged and dangerously unstable international environment.

Were some of the circumstances mentioned above to come about, I fear that the lives of young people in particular would be changed forever, and their liberties reduced. Recent youthful American generations have grown to expect a prolonged adolescence into their young 30s. Compulsory national service was discussed by the President during the 2008 debates. This idea could come roaring back due to an international crisis.

But if a shooting war or an Internet war broke out, the very existence of liberty in the world would be at stake.

Every administration has within its domain radicals who wish to remake the entire society to suit their own designs. I wouldn’t doubt that there aren’t a few fanatics who would risk even a war to win an election and to thereby empower themselves to sustain a radical agenda. I also trust and pray that our President isn’t one of these fanatics.

A divided society in the midst of war is a toxic and dangerous environment, and could hurt our beloved nation, the United States of America, greatly.

I pray that if there is an international crisis prior to the 2012 U.S. Presidential Elections, that the President would then turn to the Center, and unite the country, rather than keep veering more Left, and bitterly divide it.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Senator Durbin’s Uncharacteristic Silence

Monday, November 21st, 2011

The usually prolix US Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has been strangely silent over his reported and unacknowledged single-handed blocking of the re-funding of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) according to

The USCIRF has according to been given a “stay of execution” for a few weeks.

Religious persecution is a world-wide problem, and the USCIRF has made this problem very visible, to the chagrin of those who persecute others for their religious beliefs, such as the governments of China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, North Korea, Sudan, Iran, Vietnam, and several others. What could possibly be Senator Durbin’s interest in silencing USCIRF? I do hope this isn’t a case of killing the messenger, or of valuing the influence of persecuting governments more than a fundamental human freedom.

While naturally the religious press has covered this story, very few non-religious media sources have: a sad commentary on how religious freedom apparently doesn’t matter any more to the Fourth Estate. One would never guess that the First Amendment provides freedom for both the press and religion, for assembly and speech, and that somehow all these might be fundamentally linked.

Or perhaps the problem is that USCIRF Commissioner Nina Shea has courageously been doing her job for the past several years, and has been letting the chips fall where they may in terms of revealing religious persecution. Or maybe the vexation is about Ms. Shea’s recent book co-authored with Paul Marshall, Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide. Since people in several countries are facing the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy, such as Asia Bibi in Pakistan, does Senator Durbin fear revealing these offenses against human freedom? Why his reported weeks of secrecy on this issue?

So it mystifies me why the press isn’t covering this story. Senator Durbin’s silence is like unto “man bites dog.”

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


The President left out the T word

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Sitting at my desk at work I listened to President Obama’s very fine 2/11/11 speech on the dramatic spread of freedom in Egypt. The video of his speech is here.

After sounding ringing notes of human freedom, of social change based upon non-violence, of military restraint, of inter-religious cooperation, and of democracy, the President then began a short recollection:

“And while the sights and sound that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can’t help but hear the echoes of history, echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice. . . .”

“Say it!” I said aloud, then thought, “Please say ‘Tiananmen Square.’ Say ‘Iran;’ say ‘Cuba;’ say ‘Eritrea;’ say ‘North Korea.'”

For a few seconds, the President had the live, uncensored attention of the world. The slightest move, the faintest indication on his part of where democracy and freedom might move next, and his words would have given people there courage.

The President’s one word–even a veiled reference–could have replaced costly decades of containment and diplomacy and gamesmanship and engagement–and may have avoided more decades of human suffering in a given time and place. His one feint toward the events of 1989 in Tiananmen Square would have undone two decades of careful Chinese propaganda, which has left a Chinese generation barely knowing such an event even happened, or that people died in large numbers in Tiananmen Square for human freedom. His 2/11/11 statement was therefore one of the President’s greatest moments of moral, if not spiritual, opportunity.

I remembered the Tank Man, and those students who shaped the statue of the Goddess of Democracy. “Speak of them,” I thought.

But the President went prudently on. His list of references had stopped with Gandhi.

My hand–Aarrgh!–hit the desk in disappointment.

The diplomats must have been happy, as may have been the President’s political base. But so were the governments of China, Iran, Eritrea, and North Korea.

I waited for the inevitable reference to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to human freedom, and to an echo of King’s line about the “arc of the moral universe” being “long.” It came, because it was clear the President was thinking long-term.

The President has learned more about the power of the presidency, but he chose, in this instance, to use only a portion of it.

The President is apparently still too much the leader of his own faction, and not the universal leader who speaks of democracy to all peoples and to human history, despite the fact that this time he really appeared to reach for it. He is not yet the “leader of the Free World,” a potential presidential appellation that must be earned by action.

How close he came. But he did not call the scoundrels out. Not even a hint. Therefore, the President does not yet belong “to the ages.”

“Admirable restraint,” I thought. “But will such an opportunity come again?”

Some among the great learn to walk through the open door the very first time it opens. In this case, he did not.

“OK, move to the peroration and get this speech over with,” I thought. And mentally I predicted the next, and the next fine phrase the President spoke.

This speech did move the cause of freedom forward. It was, again, a fine speech, and one for the history books. The enemies of freedom will still fear his words.

But this was not the speech for the making of history.

The President’s 2/11/11 speech will not stand with Pericles, with Lincoln’s Gettysburg, with Churchill’s Iron Curtain, with Dr. King’s “drum major,” with Reagan’s “Tear down this wall.”

The President’s 2/11/11 statement on Egypt was not the speech that knows and combines the opportunity and the moment and the broad horizon of public attention, and draws every ounce of precious meaning out to seize it. For 2/11/11 was such a moment and opportunity, and it was missed. Not completely missed, but still missed.

History gave the President a fast ball down the middle of the plate on 2/11/11, and he fouled it straight back: meaning, he missed it by a mere fraction of an inch. But what a difference that fraction of an inch–the mention of the T word, the Tiananmen Square word–would have made. Instead of being heard once on the evening news, this speech would have been replayed for decades.

The once and future speech, the one that actually may inspire universal, world-wide action toward human freedom and non-violence in service of democracy across whatever political boundary, the President has yet to give. I hope, if he ever gets another such chance, that the President takes the chance next time to the full.

I also hope this isn’t getting too cute with the baseball metaphors: The President has to level his political swing, since he is still pulling off to the left.

How much more powerful than any censorship is the power of self-censorship! Whatever the Chinese government has done to teach the world that the words Tiananmen Square are to them the political N-word, has apparently worked. But the words Tiananmen Square must continue to be spoken, and not forgotten, if almost one third of humanity are to gain the freedom they deserve.

The President of the United States is the one person on earth who must continue to say Tiananmen Square, for then all others will be able to speak it, and undo the injustice done there.

We owe it to the Tank Man, and to those who died that day in 1989, and on the next, and on the many days going forward.

The President and his speechwriters have still not learned the difference between an idol and an icon. More on this topic at another time. . .

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


More than 70 Christians Arrested in Iran over Christmas

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Another report of a serious violation of religious freedom by Iran. For more details, and actions items, see the report from the Jubiliee Campaign and Elam Ministries.

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Religious Persecution in Eritrea

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Some of the most severe religious persecution on Earth takes place in the country of Eritrea on the Eastern coast of Africa. Unfortunately, these abuses of human freedom have escaped the notice of most mass media.

Reports of the Eritrean imprisonment of Christians in sun-baked metal shipping containers and dungeons–in both cases without sanitation–persist, leading refugees to flee to neighboring countries.

The Institute on Religion and Public Policy stated in its 2009 report on religious persecution in Eritrea that:

“The religious freedom situation in Eritrea is widely recognized by both governmental and non-government actors and agencies to be among the worst in the world.”

Another recent report cites the detention of eleven Christians, and the continued house arrest of Abune Antonios, patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church deposed by the Marxist Eritrean government in 2007.

Further background details are available in the US State Department 2007 report on religious persecution in Eritrea.

This vicious combination of religious persecution and abusive torture resembles that of the persecution of Catholics under Elizabeth I of England, in which prisoners were similarly cast into unsanitary dungeons or pits.

In the midst of this religious persecution, Eritrea has deepened its ties with Iran, turned away from the UN and other “Western interests,” and sought to support Iran’s nuclear development program.

The first thing that can be done is for the world media to turn their eyes on Eritrea, and to reveal how Iran, Cuba, and other rogue states are supporting this great injustice.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Iran’s “Star Students”

Monday, April 26th, 2010

As I work my way through my draft blogs stored weeks ago, I wanted to make sure I posted this one:

Thanks to Western computer and information technology, Iran apparently has its own political grading system, which bans certain students who protest the government from advanced education for life. Read Farnaz Fassihi’s chilling account from the 12/31/09 Wall Street Journal

All the more reason to pass the Global Online Freedom Act–

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Technology, freedom, and satellite systems

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

The Wall Street Journal revealed on 6/22/09, in an article entitled–Iran’s Web Spying Aided By Western Technology: European Gear Used in Vast Effort to Monitor Communications–that Western nations had sold Iran the technology to spy on their own people. The US Congress responded a few days later with a bipartisan bill to reduce the flow of such technologies to autocratic regimes.

Comment: As long as the Internet and phone systems are land-based, autocratic regimes can control the flow of information to a certain extent.   Satellite systems, such as Iridium, can provide a counterbalance.   International law should allow citizens in every nation to own satellite telephones and connect to the Internet via satellite, as something of a universal human right to know and to communicate.

© Copyright 2009, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved