11:43 AM, Sep 23, 2015 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
Chinese leader Xi Jinping, in scheduling his U.S. visit, seems to have fallen into a trap common for many communist leaders: underestimating papal power. Xi will be following in the footsteps of Pope Francis on visits first to the White House in Washington, and then to the United Nations in New York. The Roman pontiff, dubbed a “rock star” by some commentators, is already grabbing the limelight in a media frenzy during his visit. The first official state visit of the new Chinese president, meanwhile, which roughly coincides with the first American visit of this widely popular pope, promises to be largely overshadowed as a result. Xi is very likely to come and go with very few Americans even being aware that he was here at all.
Xi, who landed in Seattle Tuesday, will arrive in Washington on Thursday, just as Pope Francis will be heading to New York after making history as the first pontiff to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. The next morning, as Xi prepares to arrive on the South Lawn of the White House for a 21-gun salute, most television cameras will be focused again on Pope Francis delivering remarks to the U.N. General Assembly in New York. And when Xi approaches that same U.N. podium in New York on the following Monday, he will again be in the shadow of Pope Francis, who will have already come and gone.
One must wonder who in protocol in Beijing planned such a schedule. It guarantees that the big boss will be continuously outshone by a near-octogenarian in white flowing robes with only a cross to match the tanks, missiles, and fighter planes that Xi so recently displayed in his WWII victory parade in Tiananmen Square.
Communists quite often underestimate the popular appeal of religion. Stalin was the first communist leader to be dismissive of papal influence. His interpreter, Valentin Berezhkov, recorded in his memoirs a 1944 meeting between the Soviet dictator and Winston Churchill. The British prime minister was reportedly urging Stalin to show some restraint in post-war Poland, a Catholic country for which Britain had gone to war against the Nazis. Stalin’s reported curt reply was “How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?’ The pope at the time, Pius XII, reportedly responded to Stalin’s derisive comment with his own quip: “You can tell my son Joseph that he will meet my divisions in heaven.
The Polish communists fared little better in their under-estimation of John Paul II. Jane Barnes and Helen Whitney, PBS Frontline writers of “John Paul II: The Millennial Pope,” reported on a meeting they had with General Jaruzelski, former head of the Polish Communist Party and the man who imposed martial law on Poland, following labor unrest in 1981. “Jaruzelski reportedly ‘laughed ruefully and shook his head’ during a long, revealing afternoon we spent talking with him. He admitted that one of the great ironies of the regime he served was how much they had underestimated Wojtyla (John Paul II). ‘My Communist colleagues decided that the bishops ahead of Karol Wojtyla on the list of candidates were not good for the state, so they pushed Karol Wojtyla. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways.’” Jaruzelski concluded by observing that John Paul II’s return visit to his native Poland as pope in 1979 was “the detonator” for the subsequent fall of communism in that country.
While the two world leaders may both be briefly in New York at the same time, their paths are not likely to cross, especially since the Papal Nuncio for the Vatican still resides in Taiwan, “a renegade province” according to orthodox communist mainland Chinese. Still, Xi Jinping may well return to Beijing mimicking the famous words of JFK when he followed his “rock star” wife Jackie around Paris: “I am the man who accompanied Pope Francis to America.”
Dennis P. Halpin, a former adviser to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is a visiting scholar at the US-Korea Institute and an adviser to the Poblete Analysis Group.
Aug 10, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 45 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
A reader writes to ask about the photo we’ve been using in our subscription ads (see the back cover of this week’s edition, or last week’s, for that matter). Is it real, he wonders, or Photoshopped to show the three men together? “If it is an actual photo, it certainly is very interesting: three young men with impressive careers before them. All three were warmly dressed and their shoulders appear to touch one another. All three were staring directly toward the camera. . . . Stalin is almost smiling, the other two not quite so much.”
9:09 AM, Mar 2, 2015 • By JOSEPH LOCONTE
Seventy years ago, on March 1, 1945, Franklin Roosevelt assured a war-weary nation that a new era of international peace and democratic government was at hand. The accords signed just weeks earlier at the Yalta Conference, he told Congress, laid the foundation for postwar cooperation between the Soviet Union and the democratic West.
Pete Seeger, 1919-2014. Feb 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 21 • By RONALD RADOSH
Pete Seeger’s death at the age of 94 has brought forth scores of celebratory tributes. America had long ago showered him with honors, which all but made up for the scorn with which he was once held in the age of the blacklist. Seeger received the National Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton and the Kennedy Center Honors in 1994, as well as multiple Grammys.
7:40 AM, Feb 28, 2013 • By REUBEN F. JOHNSON
Living in the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine, one becomes highly sensitive to public figures who look away from genocidal, government-created famines. The Holodomor or “Extermination By Hunger” was a 1932-33 famine in Stalin-era Ukraine that cost the lives of as many as 7.5 million people. This act of genocide has been officially acknowledged only in the last decade—more than 7 decades later and 15 years after the Soviet state responsible for it ceased to exist.
How to get it, keep it, and take it away. Oct 1, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 03 • By DANIEL LEE
There’s been an Orange Revolution in Ukraine, a Rose Revolution in Georgia, and a Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia that helped launch last year’s Arab Spring. Is democracy sweeping the globe at last? Well—not yet, according to our author, a former editor at Foreign Policy who has been doing some globe-sweeping of his own (93,000 miles, give or take) over several years spent reporting for this volume.
Suspicion and betrayal and the Soviet way of life. Apr 23, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 30 • By JAMES C. BANKS
Soviet history has crystallized in Western memory as a conflict between apparatchiks and heroes. The apparatchiks were ideologically rigid autocrats and pandering toadies, while the heroes—such as Solzhenitsyn, Havel, and Sharansky—were the voices of humanity, reverberating until they eventually penetrated the Iron Curtain. Both sides, however, existed among a vast multitude of average human beings who had the opportunity to become saints and chose to remain sinners.
A definition of genocide that makes sense of history.Apr 4, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 28 • By AARON ROTHSTEIN
by Norman Naimark
What do Robespierre, Stalin, Hitler, Che Guevara, and Mullah Omar have in common?Aug 16, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 45 • By WALLER R. NEWELL
American labor unions and how they got that way.Apr 5, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 28 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Labor unions in the United States were not always tied to the Democratic party and to a leftist ideological agenda. Once upon a time, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) stood at odds with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO); the former resisted statist labor law changes and leftist union policies beginning in the 1930s and the latter supported them.
After 70 years a Pulitzer committee is reexamining Walter Duranty's Stalin whitewashes in the New York Times. How bad were they? See for yourself.1:40 PM, Jun 12, 2003 • By ARNOLD BEICHMAN
AT LONG LAST a Pulitzer Prize committee is looking into the possibility that the Pulitzer awarded to Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow correspondent whose dispatches covered up Stalin's infamies, might be revoked.
In order to assist in their researches, I am downloading here some of the lies contained in those dispatches, lies which the New York Times has never repudiated with the same splash as it accorded Jayson Blair's comparatively trivial lies:
"There is no famine or actual starvation nor is there likely to be."
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