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One Cheer for Pope Francis

5:33 PM, Aug 19, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
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The concern then is that Pope Francis may be mistaking sectarian propaganda circulated by Middle Eastern clerics for a humanitarian plea. After all, as the Syrian regime and its spokesmen posit, the problem with the Middle East is the Sunni Arab majority—a danger not only to the region’s many minorities but also, as 9/11 made clear, Americans as well. According to this line of thinking, the United States should partner with Syria, as well as its allies, like the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hezbollah, for they all have issues with the regional Sunni majority.

As it turns out, the Obama administration has teamed up with Syria and its allies—but for strategic reasons, not sectarian ones. The White House is tilting toward Iran because it believes, foolishly, there is a grand bargain to be had with the clerical regime. Thus, in Lebanon, the White House has shared intelligence with units of the Lebanese armed forces penetrated by Hezbollah. In Iraq, the administration armed former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki to fight his Sunni rivals, and have just signed off on yet another Iranian-sponsored premier, Haidar al-Abadi. And now news comes today from a pro-Assad newspaper in Beirut, that the White House is sharing intelligence on ISIS with the Syrian regime.

The Obama administration and Pope Francis are both correct—ISIS’ gory campaign is a real humanitarian catastrophe. The question is, why are they both blind to other grotesque insults to the innate dignity and freedom of others in the Middle East? Why does Francis elaborate a “Just War” argument to stop ISIS, and not Assad or Hamas? Is it only Christians and Yazidis who merit the care of the world and specifically the Catholic church, or aren’t Jews and Sunnis also created in the image of God?

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