Globe Trot
Myanmar President Thein Sein
Associated Press/Photo by Khin Maung Win
Myanmar President Thein Sein

Globe Trot: Soft sell in Washington for Myanmar democracy


Myanmar President Thein Sein meets in Washington today with President Barack Obama and contends in a Washington Post interview that the army he has presided over has not engaged in pogroms—contrary to multiple human rights reports.

In the lengthy interview, Thein Sein made little attempt to promote a picture of vigorous reform in Burma, also known as Myanmar, or to sell himself as the pivotal leader who will turn the former prison state into a democracy.

The Benghazi episode makes clear the “willful blindness” of the Obama administration when it comes to the threat of international terrorism, writes former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton. And Bolton raises a good question: Why did we have a diplomatic facility in Benghazi, anyway? If it was to cover for the CIA operation there (which appears to be the majority of U.S. activity in the area) why was it so inadequately secured?

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Rebels in Syria have suffered “a string of setbacks,” according to the BBC’s Jim Muir, especially along the Lebanese and Jordanian borders and around Damascus itself. Those fighters say Gulf states are cutting back arms support in response to “U.S. reservations” about enabling a victory by a rebel movement in which al-Qaeda-linked jihadists are playing a lead role.

Those jihadist groups in Syria are reportedly emptying former (and ancient) Christian areas of Syria, report opposition leaders now critical of the rebel groups. “They are not home to us,” a founder of the Syrian National Coalition, one of the lead rebel coalitions, told me in this WORLD story. The Coalition seeks to marginalize Syria’s Christians (who number more than 1.5 million), he believes, and “doesn’t have legitimacy with Syrian people but with countries outside.”

This issue’s cover story includes a report on Christians who continue to support the Assad government in Syria, and why. It also lists Christian and other relief groups who are working to assist the estimated 1.3 million Syrians who have fled the country. (Scroll down for that information and links to their websites.)

Catholic leaders will boycott today’s commencement speech at Boston College by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny over his support for legislation that would legalize abortion in Ireland. Roman Catholic Cardinal Sean O'Malley traditionally gives the benediction at the school’s graduation but said he would not attend.

Pro-abortion advocates are pushing the legislation after an Irish woman allegedly died because she was not granted an abortion earlier this year. But pro-life groups contend abortion supporters are using the unusual case as a wedge to push for abortion, which has been illegal in the largely Catholic country.

The message from young Afghan men who try to escape Afghanistan for Europe? Don’t come. It’s harder to find your way in Europe than to risk forced enlistment and indoctrination from the Taliban.

I’m reading: WORLD’s 2013 Book of the Year, chosen by a committee of our writers and editors and set to be named in our June 29 annual Books Issue.

I’m also exploring some good e-books recently released, including Bird of Chaman, Flower of the Khyber by Matthieu Aikins and Hearts for Sale by Farzana Marie. Both are about Afghanistan and written from ground-level perspectives.


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