Margaret O'Brien Steinfels

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.

By this author

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan: Favorite False Friends

Kaitlin Campbell has just posted links to the new issue of Commonweal (December 4), with a sobering and remarkably direct critique of U.S. policy toward Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that you are unlikely to read in the MSM. I hope all the political junkies here will read it and comment. False Friends by Vanni Cappelli.

A Nation of Refugees (e.g. Cruz and Rubio) and Immigrants (Most of the Rest of Us, e.g. Ryan and McConnell)

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration: "I am disturbed, however, by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. These refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives.

C'est la guerre...

...So President Francois Hollande says this morning. The French must certainly feel under siege: At 11 AM the death toll in Paris is 127 and several hundred people have been wounded according to news stories. Le Monde

How Far Should They Go?

Being a big fan of big government, I don't stop to ask, "Why Do They Want to Do That?"

The Questions That Didn't Bark

Friday night's Democratic forum in South Carolina with Rachel Maddow had its moments of facts and fun. Maddow was top notch, so too Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton; Martin O'Malley not so much.

As good as it was, there were a number of conspicuous lacunae in the questions and comments.

Palestinian-Israeli Violence

J.J. Goldberg follows Israeli politics closely. In his latest column at the Forward, he examines Prime Minister Netanyahu's claims about Hitler and Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem. Netanyahu, who has since revised his remarks, originally claimed that the grand mufti gave Hitler the idea for the Holocaust. As Goldberg points out, Netanyahu's revised explanation has not exactly clarified matters.

Douthat Riposte

In at least one respect (and perhaps others) Ross Douthat and Paul Baumann agree: They are both among the laity and they can speak on Catholic matters.

Is There an End Game in the Middle East?

The wars in Syria and Yemen along with the continuing battle in Iraq between the government and ISIS have no end in sight. Attention to Russian intervention in Syria tends to obscure the tumult everywhere else. Charles Freeman, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia under the George H.W. Bush administration, offers a broad survey of the region, its history since the Gulf War, and U.S. ME policy since 1991. Here are the concluding paragraphs of his talk to the U.S.-Arab Policymakers Conference on October 15.

Adults Meet and Debate—like Adults

I was pleasantly surprised at how well all the Dems came off last night at their first debate.

I was also surprised to read this headline in the NYTimes print edition: Hillary Clinton Turns up Heat on Bernie Sanders in a sharp debate.

Meanwhile Back in the Middle East

President Obama seems a bit put out by the incursion of Russian military into Syria and by the judgement of President Vladmir Putin that the U.S.-led coalition has made a mess of things in Syria. Russia after some days of bombing has made its way from what have been called moderate Syrian rebels to the edges of ISILs occupied Syria. These reports and claims remain hazy at least in the public realm, but the Russians are certainly doing something. But what? We shall see.