Monday, April 30, 2012

Salvadoran soldiers return from Afghanistan

Twenty-two soldiers returned to El Salvador after having served eight months on a special mission in Afghanistan. The soldiers trained Afghan police and soldiers in the areas of counter-terrorism training and aircraft maintenance.

Their return follows last week's news that two Uighur detainees were released from the detainee center at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Facility to El Salvador. The transfer from Guantanamo was the first one in more than a year and the transfer to a Latin American country.

It's kind of difficult to see what El Salvador has received in return for supporting the US's war on terror. The policy has always been unpopular (from what I remember) among the Salvadoran population at-large. El Salvador has CAFTA-DR, TPS, and the Partnership for Growth. It's tough to think that they wouldn't have received these even if they hadn't sent troops half way around the world.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Disappearances and extortion lower in El Salvador

Last Tuesday, El Salvador's National Civilian Police (PNC) contradicted two reports on violence in the country. First, PNC subdirector Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde stated that there has been a noticeable reduction in the number of disappearances the past six months. His statements comes after the Institute of Legal Medicine (ILM) reported that there had been no change concerning the number of Salvadorans going missing. Landaverde also made it known that not all disappeared are the victims of homicide - some have actually left the country and others have been found to be in prison. I'm not sure how he would break that down by percentages.

There have also been reports that while murders have declined since the March gang truce, extortion has increased. Landaverde says that is not the case. The PNC reports that there's been a 5% decrease in reported extortion compared to last year. Two things. First, that doesn't mean there's less extortion. It just means that there are fewer reported extortion attempts in 2012 than there were reported extortion attempts during the first ~4 months of 2011. Second, even if overall extortion levels are down, that doesn't mean that some individual departments won't be experiencing higher extortion numbers. That could explain why some people think that extortion has increased.

Finally, the PNC is also reporting that, on average, 5.2 people were killed each of April's first fifteen days. The sharp reduction in homicides brings the average for the year down to 10.5 per day.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

14th Anniversary of Bishop Gerardi's Murder


Today marks the fourteen anniversary of BishopJuan Jose Gerardi Conedera's murder 1998 murder. The Archdiocese of Guatemala City has clips from the film "Gerardi" on its website.

Bishop Gerardi was found bludgeoned to death in his Guatemala City residence. He was killed just days after the release of the Recovery of Historical Memory (REMHI) project that documented human rights abuses committed during the country's civil war. (Click here for the GHCR's timeline of Gerardi life and death.)

Human rights groups are remembering Bishop Gerardi's life and death today by visiting his crypt in the Metropolitan Catherdal, a mass, and a commemorative march.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fr. Stanley Rother

Enid News in Oklahoma has an update on the process to recognize Fr. Stanley Rother as a saint.
In 2006, canonization efforts commenced after the 25th anniversary of Rother’s assassination. Four years later, thousands of documents arrived at the Vatican for consideration.
The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, says the process is making progress. After a recent private meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome, Coakley talked with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to express support for Rother’s cause, according to the Sooner Catholic.
“The Congregation had just affirmed the ‘juridic validity’ of the case,” Coakley wrote in the Sooner Catholic. “This is the first, but very significant, affirmation by Congregation in the continuing process that we hope will lead ultimately to the canonization of Father Stanley Rother.”
Coakley wrote that the next step is developing a “positio,” a formal presentation of evidence to demonstrate that he died a faithful martyr. The positio could take a couple of years before it is presented, eventually, to the pope. If Rother is affirmed as a martyr at that stage, permission for his beatification will be granted immediately. (Beatification is the third of four canonization steps in which a person is given the “blessed” title.)
Coakley wrote that a miracle received through the slain priest’s intercession will not be required for beatification if Rother is judged to have died a martyr. However, a post-beatification miracle would be necessary for him to be canonized as a saint. The archbishop asked for prayers to facilitate the process.
Oklahoman Stanley Rother first traveled to Guatemala in 1968 to serve the Tzutujil people. By 1975, he was the only member of the clergy remaining at the Church's mission. Rother was shot in the church rectory on July 28, 1981. Rother was one of ten priests killed in 1981.

Journeyman Pictures has a twenty-five minute video of his life and death. Here's the trailer.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kidnappings in Guatemala


Elyssa Pachico of InSight Crime has a post up on how kidnappings have dropped 42% in Guatemala in the last three years. Obviously, that's one way of looking at it. The other way is that GAM reported nine fewer kidnappings in 2011 compared to 2010. The PNC, on the other hand, reported an increase of three kidnappings over the same time period. Therefore, after a sharp decrease from 2008 to 2010, kidnappings remained flat last year more or less. I'd highlight both issues, a drop from 2008 and little change from 2010 to 2011) instead of just the three year drop.   

I hope that kidnappings are down because of "the increased number of cases being brought to trial instead of languishing in the court system." However, I wouldn't be surprised if the decline was related more to criminals increasingly relying upon extortion. There's a quicker payoff in extortion and they don't necessarily involve as much organization. That's at least what I wrote in July 2010

The PNC reported 1,787 extortion attempts in 2008, 4,912 in 2009, and 4,218 in 2010. I don't have 2011's numbers but as of late last year, Guatemala was on pace for about 4,000. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

President Perez Molina riding high

According to a Prensa Libre poll, 82% of all Guatemalans approve of President Otto Perez Molina and his administration's first one hundred days in office.

One really interesting finding from the April poll is that Guatemalans give him his lowest score in the area of his suggestion to decriminalize drugs. Most people don't answer the worst thing that the administration has done (51%), but of those that do, decriminalizing drugs comes out on top with 12%.

I'm sure that OPM is satisfied with the first poll of his new government.

Central American Approval Ratings

According to the most recent Mitofsky poll, Presidents Mauricio Funes of El Salvador and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua are highly supported by the people of their respective nations.

Sixty-five percent of Salvadorans approve of the job that Funes is doing. That is down from the 72% that gave him high marks one year ago, but up 8 points from five months ago.

Ortega's popularity has increased by nineteen percentage points in the last seven months. He now has the fourth highest approval rating in the hemisphere at 61%.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Maya Pedal in Guatemala

Al Jazeera has a short video on Maya Pedal in Guatemala. Maya Pedal is an "organization harnesses pedal power to perform a number of tasks that would otherwise require electricity, which is often unavailable in smaller villages."
Here's the link to Maya Pedal that I posted last month.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Funes says pick someone like me

President Funes had some words for the leadership of the FMLN, a leadership that looks like it wants to distance itself from the administration.
"The FMLN has to think about who is the best candidate that can win, because to rule, first we must win, and it is pointless to have good intentions for governing if you do not have a winning candidate. That's what happened with me, the FMLN came having an electoral ceiling of 850,000 votes; when I participated as a candidate, we won with 1,350,000 votes. So the candidate that the FMLN should think about is one that makes you go beyond the FMLN's historic vote and to add at least half a million votes more" he said.
"If they had not taken me as a candidate, the FMLN would never have come to power, to the Executive, and in the Executive it now has a good number of ministers. These ministers would not be, even the Vice Minister of Education would not be, or aspire to be a presidential candidate, if I had not won. Then I do not see in what sense they were wrong with my selection" said Funes.
The FMLN leadership wants to go with its own candidate in 2014 because they probably don't see things the way that Funes does. They would say that Funes won because of his support from the FMLN. I'm, obviously, of the opinion that they both needed each other in 2009.

But I also understand that the FMLN hasn't been all that happy with its relationship with President Funes. That has to make them think twice about entering into another alliance with an outsider in 2014 even if it gives them a stronger chance at victory. While Oscar Ortiz is not an outsider from the party per se, he is an outsider in the sense that he is more moderate than the FMLN leadership and he hasn't been someone that they can control.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Contrapunto readers optimistic about FMLN's chances

You can head over to Contrapunto to participate in a poll about who you believe would win in match-ups between Norman Quijano of ARENA and either Oscar Ortiz or Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the FMLN. The box is halfway down the page on the right.

Out of 533 voters in the first poll, 499 believed that Ceren would emerge victorious over Quijano in 2014. Fewer people have participated in the second poll between Quijano and Ortiz but out of the 100 people that did, 83 said that Ortiz would win. Obviously it's not a representative sample or anything.

While I am not surprised that Contrapunto's readers thought that either FMLN candidate would win, I was surprised that they had more faith in Sanchez Ceren. Most people outside the FMLN would probably disagree. Ortiz is the more popular general candidate with a better chance at winning over moderates and those on the right who do not want to return to the ways of ARENA. It's just hard to see those people (about 30-40% of the voters) going with Sanchez Ceren.

Here was a result from February's Mitofsky poll. 
While it's only one poll, it's going to be difficult for the FMLN to convince a majority of Salvadoran voters to support Sanchez Ceren. He's already well known and has a pretty high unfavorability rating.

Is it 2006 all over again? It's too early to tell, but Sanchez Ceren has the same positives (he's popular within the party and will satisfy the base) and negatives (few people outside the party support him) as Schafik Handal. And we all know what happened to the Handal candidacy.

A few days ago, Contrapunto reported that Sanchez Ceren had already been selected as the FMLN's 2014 presidential candidate but since then other news stories have questioned whether it's a done deal. I imagine that internally the FMLN is still divided over going with the candidate with the best shot at winning, but who is not as committed to the FMLN project as the hardliners versus a candidate with whom it will be more difficult to win but whose administration would not be as frustrating as the one they are living through with Mauricio Funes right now.

What's your take? 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Summit of the Americas



Couldn't have said it better myself.

On the other hand, had there not been a Secret Service scandal, the MSM probably would not have bothered to cover the Summit at all. Chavez didn't attend. Castro didn't attend.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Murder-free Saturday in El Salvador


No one was murdered in El Salvador on Saturday, officials said, in what was the first homicide-free day in nearly three years for the Central American country plagued by violent drug gangs.
"After years when the number of murders reached alarming levels of up to 18 per day, we saw not one homicide in the country," President Mauricio Funes said in a statement released on Sunday.
The murder-free day was the first recorded since leftist Funes took office in June 2009. At the beginning of his term, the country had an average of 12 murders a day, but that tally climbed closer to 18 per day in early 2012.
That's pretty remarkable. It's even more remarkable if you consider that weekends are typically more bloody than weekdays.

I would disagree with the article, however, when it says that "Much of that violence is blamed on Mexican drug cartels that use the country as a transit point." The gangs do distribute drugs but they haven't really been significant players in drug trafficking.

Has anybody come across how Guatemalan and Honduran authorities have reacted to the gang truce and subsequent murder reduction in El Salvador? Did it come up during the Summit of the Americas?

I am also wondering how the FMLN would have done in the March elections had the truce been negotiated in February.

Revival on Sixth Avenue

I meant to get this up last week but never got around to it. From the Associated Press

But on a recent weekday in the center of Guatemala City, a lunchtime crowd of professionals and university students ordered tapas and baguettes with prosciutto and camembert cheese in the Eccentrico bistro, watching pedestrians stroll down tiled walkways lined with ficus trees. At a cafe two blocks away, staff set out tables for customers stopping for cappuccino before heading to a nearby movie theater.
An unlikely urban redevelopment project is thriving for dozens of businesses in a five-block section of the Zone One downtown neighborhood.
A nonprofit, city-run redevelopment corporation known as Urbanistica has spent more than $5 million since 2004 to close streets to traffic, light them brightly and monitor them with closed-circuit video cameras and extra police officers. Rundown storefronts have been repainted jungle-green, indigo or paprika.
Some 670 street vendors who used to sell handicrafts from oilcloth tents that congested more than a mile of the city center have been relocated to a covered market steps from a new bus terminal.

Looks like a great opportunity for Guatemalans and for tourists Sixth Avenue is actually how it's advertised in the story and if they can keep it up.

These are photos from Sixth Avenue that I took in 2010 when the area was still under construction.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/06/2734844/unlikely-project-revives-guatemala.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Videla justifies killing 8,000

"In every war people are crippled, killed and disappeared, their whereabouts unknown, that is a fact," Videla said in an interview broadcast on local television.
"How many there were can be debated, but the problem does not lie in the number but in the fact - a fact which occurs in every war - that we allowed the pejorative term of disappeared to ... remain as a term to cover up something dark that was wanted to be kept secret, and that is what is weighing - that there was something dark which has not been sufficiently cleared up."
"The error was using and abusing disappeared like a mystery," he added. "And that's not the case, it is the unfortunate result of a war."
Videla denied that babies were systematically stolen from leftist opponents and then put up for adoption, but said there were some cases in which babies were taken.
"I am the first to admit ... at this time children were taken, some with the best intention that the child would go to a good, unknown home," Videla added in the interview. "But it was not a systematic plan."
Human rights groups say up to 30,000 people were kidnapped and murdered or vanished during the dictatorship, which began when Videla and two other military leaders staged a coup on March 24, 1976.
"Let's say there were 7,000 or 8,000 people who needed to die to win the war against subversion," newspaper La Nacion quoted Videla as saying in a new book "Final Mandate," by journalist Ceferino Reato, based on a series of interviews with Videla.
"There was no other solution," La Nacion reported Videla as saying. "We were agreed that was the price to win the war against subversion and that we needed it not to be evident so that society didn't notice."
"For that reason, to avoid provoking protests inside and outside the country, it was decided that those people disappear. Each disappearance can certainly be understood as the cover-up of a death."
This is most of the Reuters summary of developments surrounding former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla in Argentina ex-dictator admits dirty war "disappeared". I normally don't cut and paste such long excerpts but I made an exception this time. These are some pretty remarkable admissions.

Honestly, I thought that Efrain Rios Montt would say much the same in Guatemala. His "voluntary" appearance before the authorities would lead to some Colonel Jessup moment where he admits to what he has done but doesn't apologize for it. It's still possible, but it is growing increasingly unlikely as he and his lawyers stick with the bad apples defense and repeated efforts to remove court officials.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sanchez Ceren likely FMLN presidential candidate

According to a report in ContraPunto, the FMLN is prepared to select Salvador Sanchez Ceren as the party's candidate for the 2014 presidential elections. It doesn't come as much of a surprise no matter how much I would have liked them to strongly consider another candidate (COHA looks like it will have an article out on him soon).

At the XXVI national convention in 2010, the FMLN reiterated the strategy that it had more or less been following since 2005. Here's what I wrote at the time.
In preparation for the 2012 elections, the FMLN is calling for a "national pact to transform El Salvador." Jose Luis...Merino has clearly stated that in 2009 Funes was chosen simply to alleviate the country's fears of an FMLN victory. Now that that fear has been overcome, the FMLN is ready to push an FMLN militant as president to lead them on the path towards socialismo cuscatleco in 2014 and beyond.
The FMLN's alliance with the Friends of Mauricio was a temporary one that was designed to help transition

the country to supporting an FMLN militant as president. While the Salvadoran voters rejected FMLN comandantes in 1999 and 2004, it's not certain that they will do so again. Things have changed since 2004. However, I don't think that Sanchez Ceren is the Frente's best choice to maximize its chances at victory. The FMLN has a solid 35% or so of the national vote. Sanchez Ceren makes it hard for the party to make it to 50%+1. And I'm not sure that a VP Violeta Menjívar is going to help make up the difference.

It doesn't look like some people in ARENA want Norman Quijano to be the party's candidate, but he would definitely have the advantage over Ceren. They just need to moderate their public stance and put up a stronger candidate than the unenthusiastic Rodrigo Avila they sent up to the plate in 2009.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Oh my, not another dreaded spice buyer!

Okay, not exactly how I would characterize Guatemalan drug trafficker Horst Walter Overdick Mejia. Here's Bernie Becker on The Hill


Treasury sanctions Guatemalan spice buyer

By Bernie Becker 04/10/12 06:06 PM ET


The article describes Overdick fine and Becker probably didn't write the title but anyway...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Not so fast on that Zetas - MS-13 Link

While El Salvador's gang truce has held so far, members of Guatemalan President Otto Perez's administration have told Romina Ruiz-Goiriena of the AP that the Zetas and the Mara Salvatrucha might have begun cooperating more intensely over the last few months.
Now, Guatemalan authorities say, they have begun to see new and disturbing evidence of an alliance between the Maras and another of the most feared criminal organizations in Latin America - a deal with the potential to further undermine a U.S.-backed effort to fight violent crime and narcotics trafficking in the region.
Secret jailhouse recordings and a turncoat kidnapper have described a pact between leaders of the Maras and the Zetas, the brutal Mexican paramilitary drug cartel that has seized control of large parts of rural northern Guatemala in its campaign for mastery of drug-trafficking routes from South America to the United States.
In recent months, authorities say, they have begun to see the first signs that the Zetas are providing paramilitary training and equipment to the Maras in exchange for intelligence and crimes meant to divert law-enforcement resources and attention.
See also Fox News and the Huffington Post. I was initially suspicious when the evidence was based upon "secret jailhouse recordings and a turncoat kidnapper."

However, there were also statements from Estuardo Velasco, the head of an Interior Ministry task force on organized crime. Velasco told Ruiz-Goiriena that "the Maras' training by the Zetas had manifested itself in the increasing brutality, planning, organization and firepower of Maras' operations in Guatemala."

Well, this afternoon Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla said that Velasco does not work for the Interior Ministry. It's not clear from the article that he knows who he is. López Bonilla did say that they estimate that 10-12,000 gang members operate in Guatemala. They do not have a single leader or a unified structure. And, if they are involved in the drug trade, it is on the distribution of the business.

It's not as if at some point in the future that the Zetas and MS-13, or the Dieciocho, might enter into some shady marriage of convenience. It's just that there is no credible evidence of any such relationship yet in existence and it doesn't make sense to hyperventilate over some future relationship.

It's kind of like Latin America's relationship with Iran. There's nothing to get excited about right now but any thing can happen. Who would have expected the Gipper to be illegally trading weapons to the Iranians via the Israeli to free US hostages in Lebanon and to use the profits to arm the contras in Honduras to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua? Or Ozzie Guillen saying something controversial in Miami?

Monday, April 9, 2012

El Salvador's gang truce

I had a new piece on El Salvador's gang truce up at Al Jazeera on Saturday. It's a little dated now since I wrote it a week ago, but still good news for as long as it lasts in El Salvador.
Negotiating a truce between the country's two main gangs does not solve the causes of violence, but it does provide an opening for the government and the Salvadoran people to take important steps to tackle the root causes of the country's violence.
President Funes has said that he is going to call on all sectors of Salvadoran society to construct "a national accord that will guarantee the increasing eradication of violence and insecurity in the country". According to Funes, such an accord will tackle "the social exclusion and the lack of employment, education, health and recreation opportunities for the youth". However, any agreement will not include a pardon for gang members.
The US Embassy in El Salvador has remained silent on the announced truce. However, this would be an opportune moment for the US to demonstrate its support for alternative efforts to reduce violence in El Salvador and other parts of Central America. The US came under strong criticism after it dismissed Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina's call for a discussion of drug decriminalisation.
Instead of announcing that it has donated 47 new pickup trucks and 365 computer workstations to the Salvadoran police force, the US should announce that it is doubling or tripling resources destined to rehabilitate former gang members. The US could also announce that it will move towards changing the immigration status of 215,000 Salvadorans living with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States to permanent residency status.
Neither of these efforts, on its own, will be a game changer. However, it will show that the US is willing to work with our hemispheric partners, outside the box if necessary, to improve their lives of the people of Latin America.
Previous gang truces in El Salvador have failed and it's not clear that this one will last either. However it is important to remember that for each day that the truce holds, 10 more Salvadorans live to see another day. In a country with a majority Catholic population, Salvadorans might be allowed to breathe a little easier this Holy Week and it's worth giving the truce a shot. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Violent Deaths in Guatemala

The National Institute of Forensic Science (INACIF) has released March statistics on violent deaths (murders, suicides, and other killings) in Guatemala. I haven't come across the PNC's March homicide statistics yet.

INACIF recorded 487 autopsies during the month of March. Following 507 January and 446 February autopsies, INACIF is on pace to record 5,760 violent deaths in 2012.

That would be another sharp decline in violent deaths year over year. According to INACIF, there were 6,187 violent deaths in 2011, a 7.4% decline from 2010 when they counted 6,673. 2011's numbers were nearly 1,000 fewer than the 7,036 reported in 2009, the most violent year in recent memory.

If the pace continues (okay, we're only three months into the year), over 400 fewer Guatemalans will die under violent circumstances compared to 2011. That would be approximately another 7% decline.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Remittances up 8% in Guatemala

According to a report in the Latin American Herald Tribune, remittances increased 8% during the first quarter of the year compared to the first quarter of 2011.
Expats wired a total of $1.06 billion to their families back home in the first three months of 2012, according to a report on the Web page of the Banco de Guatemala.
Figures from the International Organization for Migration show that some 1.5 million Guatemalans live outside their country, the vast majority of them in the United States.
Guatemala received $4.37 billion in remittances last year, a gain of 6.08 percent over 2010.
Analysts at the Banco de Guatemala expect total remittances in 2012 to reach $4.5 billion.
Remittances from family members abroad represent about 12 percent of the Central American country’s gross domestic product and help to provide economic support for at least 1 million Guatemalan households, according to the central bank.
Wire transfers from Guatemalans in the United States fell sharply in 2008 and 2009 amid a recession in the world’s largest economy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Femicide and Homicide in El Salvador


According to the Small Arms Survey, El Salvador has the highest rate of femicide in the world with a total of 12 women murdered per 100,000 female population.The Organization of Salvadoran Women for Peace (ORMUSA) reported that 160 women were killed during the first three months of 2011 when 647 women were murdered which was a ten percent increase over the previous year, 2010.

The National Civilian Police (PNC) report that 158 femicides occurred between January 1 and March 14, 2012 (Contrapunto). If there really were ~160 women killed during the first 74 days of the year, El Salvador would be on a pace to approach 800 femicides for the year. That would be well above last year's numbers.

Fortunately, the gang truce between the MS-13 and the Dieciocho brokered by the Catholic Church has held for three weeks. March's murder numbers were down by 40% compared to those of February. After averaging over four hundred during the first two months of the year, the PNC reported that there were only 241 homicides last month. While I haven't come across the numbers broken down by gender, femicide is most likely to have slowed as well.

I can't say that the gang truce will last, but hopefully Salvadoran men and women will at least get to enjoy a safer Holy Week in 2012.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Anti-American Nobel Peace Prize

Jay Nordlinger, senior editor of National Review and the author of "Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World" (Encounter Books, 2012), has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on The Anti-American Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1987, the Norwegian Nobel Committee gave its Nobel Peace Prize to Óscar Arias, the president of Costa Rica. Central America was beset by war, particularly in Nicaragua, and Mr. Arias had crafted a peace plan. In Washington, the Reagan administration was highly skeptical. The Nobel committee told Mr. Arias they were giving him the prize to use as a weapon against Reagan.
Robert Kagan writes about this in his 1996 book, "A Twilight Struggle." Said Mr. Arias to Mr. Kagan, "Reagan was responsible for my prize."
To say that the Reagan administration was "highly skeptical" is "highly deceptive." The Reagan administration actively worked to undermine Arias' efforts both among our Central American allies and in the US press. The US rejected any peace effort that would leave the Sandinistas in power in Nicaragua.

From what I understand, Reagan believed that the best way to bring human rights and peace to Central America was not to support human rights and peace. Instead, the way to accomplish peace in Central America was to defeat the communists militarily. Communists was interpreted broadly to include any and all people who challenged US foreign policy. 

Reagan rejected Carter's foreign policies of promoting human rights and respect for individual freedom and did a 180 in terms of US foreign policy when he assumed office. However, for a number of reasons, his administration did begin to believe that democracy and respect for human rights were necessary to bring peace to Central America, but that occurred more during his second term in office and was more of a strategic choice rather than a principled belief.

There are other parts to the op-ed that are seriously problematic starting with the title: The Anti-American Nobel Peace Prize. Nordlinger then goes on to write that the committee has given Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama as well as former vice president Al Gore peace prizes. I don't know. If sure sounds as if Nordlinger is saying that the anti-American committee gave peace prizes to these anti-American leaders. If you want to argue that the committee has maintained an anti-Republican Party foreign policy approach, that's a little more accurate.

And I would say that awarding a Nobel Prize to President Obama before his chair in the Oval Office was even warm was a terrible idea. It's even more of a terrible decision in hindsight as Obama's administration has continued to erode the rule of law at home and abroad. However, I wouldn't go about characterizing the president as anti-American. Misguided absolutely.