In his historic visit to the United States, Pope Francis spoke frequently about the importance of peace and of negotiation and cooperation. His words clashed with a US presidential debate marked by the bellicose postures of candidates in both parties. Francis speaks from a religious, not a political, frame, but ironically, he may have a greater grasp on American public opinion than many of those seeking to lead this country.
Francis opened his visit by praising President Obama for “efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation,” clearly a reference to the opening to Cuba and the nuclear weapons deal with Iran. In his address to Congress, he emphasized the importance of “dialogue and peace,” of being “truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world.” He called for an end to the arms trade, driven, he argued, simply by “money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.” At the United Nations, Francis decried war as “the negation of all rights,” calling on leaders to “work tirelessly to avoid war between nations and between peoples.”
Most of those contending for the presidency are having none of this. Marco Rubio, who brandishes his foreign policy expertise on the campaign trail, would tear up the Iran deal, reverse the opening to Cuba, get tough with Russian President Vladimir Putin and escalate military pressure in Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine. Rubio supported the Iraq war and the Libya intervention, criticizing the president only for “leading from behind.” Carly Fiorina doubles down on über-hawkishness, childishly boasting that shewould not even talk with Putin or have a state dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping, while calling on muscular and costly flexing of US military presence from the Baltics to the South China Sea. Jeb Bush indicts Obama for being weak, even as he stumbles over his brother’s calamitous Iraq war, arguing that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a “pretty good deal.” He’s surrounded himself with the worst of the neoconservative claque that has learned nothing from the Iraq debacle.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.