The Most Underreported Foreign News Stories of 2013

Every year there are a few events that fly under the radar of the media but have a seminal impact nonetheless. Five PJ Media columnists agreed to contribute their knowledge and expertise to tell us what they consider to be the most underreported foreign news stories of 2013.

Next week, we'll feature more PJ Media columnists giving us their thoughts on the most underreported domestic news stories of 2013.

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The most underreported foreign news story of 2013 is the pogrom against Christians in Islamic countries. It is doubtful that there is a close second place finisher. The story is gruesome and the rationale for both the killing and the silence about it lies in a mainstream interpretation of Islam – one that is far more prevalent in the Middle East than the West will admit.

The pogrom is the inexorable result of Islamic teaching and Western indulgence. It is, after all, directed at Christians because there are no more Jews left to persecute. The latter have long made their exodus from Muslim countries where Jewish communities once flourished. Despite this fact, and despite that fact that Muslims living in Israel enjoy more freedom and self-determination than in any Arab country of the Middle East, the West – very much including the United States – has legitimized the premise that Jews should be driven from East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, just as they were pressured to evacuate Gaza, in order to birth a Palestinian state.

The charter of Hamas, like the charter of Hezbollah, calls for the extermination of Jews. Yet the West increasingly treats these terrorist organizations as if they were regular political actors espousing respectable agendas. Moreover, all of the blather about a “two-state solution” always assumes an Israel in which Muslims live freely and a Palestinian state purged of Jews. The message to Islamic supremacists is clear: Aggression works and, for all our incessant chatter about toleration and diversity, there will be no comeuppance for the religious persecution and institutional discrimination innate in sharia governance.

Having established these principles, Islamic supremacists have now turned their hostile attention to the remaining Christian minorities in the Middle East. Life was no picnic for Copts in Mubarak’s Egypt, but at least they had some hope of the law’s protection. When Mubarak was ousted, the stepped up persecution of Christians was a direct result of the fallacy that popular elections serve to “democratize” countries bereft of democratic culture. Predictably, elections were contested on explicitly sectarian terms, with Christians portrayed as “enemies of Islam” and obstacles to the majority vision of a caliphate established pursuant to sharia tenets. Massacres against Christian communities and the torching of Christian churches and homes became standard fare. If anything, the situation has worsened since this year’s coup against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Muslims blame Christians for supporting.

Meanwhile in Iraq, where the United States endorsed the adoption of a sharia constitution, the United Nations estimates that a million Christians have fled the country in the last decade. In Syria, Christians are systematically targeted by the Sunni jihadists waging a civil war against the Assad regime. Thousands of Christians were evacuated from Sudan this year because the Islamic-supremacist government regards them as enemies of the sharia state. Similarly in Shiite Iran, where sharia is the law of the land, Christians are systematically imprisoned for practicing and preaching their faith.

Sadly, we could have written this essay at the end of 2012, and the story will be no different at the end of 2014. If Muslim societies are not confronted about religious persecution, they are encouraged to persist in it. That is our shame.

Andrew is a former federal prosecutor and New York Times bestselling author. He blogs at Ordered Liberty.


The most underreported foreign story of 2013 is the decline of American power. Not that there hasn’t been plenty written about it. But there hasn’t been nearly enough. Since World War II, America has led the free world. That is changing, at an accelerating pace, with enormous implications around the globe. As America retreats, as America disarms, as America abandons its free-wheeling capitalist ways, gums up its economic engines, stiff-arms its allies and defers to its enemies, the openings grow ever larger for the shaping of a different and darker world order.

We are entering an era of opportunism -- cruder and more dangerous than in a very long time. If America no longer plays the leading role in shaping the rules, then who does? Beijing’s politburo? Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin? The sprawling, unaccountable and morally corrupt system of the United Nations? All of them together, in a rising axis of technologically enhanced despotisms, while smaller powers try to cut whatever deals they can with the regional godfathers?

This past year saw many parts of this story covered in detail. There has been endless print about the U.S.-led diplomatic dalliance with Iran, from which Iranian officials emerged to announce their “inalienable right” to enrich uranium, while America officials advertised as an achievement a half-baked short-term nuclear deal that has been neither clarified nor implemented. Not only has the U.S. failed to stop the “unacceptable” Iranian bomb program; America has gone far to erode its own credibility in denouncing as unacceptable -- yet de facto accepting -- everything from rogue nuclear programs to the theft of massive amounts of information from its own National Security Agency. Where does this go?

There’s also been plenty written about the rise of Putin’s increasingly despotic and ambitious Russia -- looming over Ukraine, and reasserting itself in the Middle East. This year brought the U.S. climbdown over Syria, in which the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons translated into gains for Moscow and irrelevancy for Washington. Another story was China’s territorial jockeying, along with Japan’s growing worry about the reliability of the old U.S. defense umbrella. On North Korea, there has been plenty of copy devoted to young hereditary tyrant Kim Jong Un conducting his maiden nuclear test -- North Korea’s third since 2006 -- while the U.S., alerted in advance, looked on.

And then there are such matters as the U.S. dollar, the world’s longtime reserve currency, and a mighty factor for generations in the relative stability of world finance and trade. There are by now reasons to wonder if the future of the dollar may be shakier than the future of Iran’s nuclear program.

I could go on, but the basic point is, there have not been enough stories connecting the dots (and there are some very big dots out there) to provide the larger picture of the real implications of America’s retreat. There is a world of turf and wealth, increasingly up for grabs. In the global war of ideas, America, engrossed in its own frenzy of fundamental transformation and regulatory sludge, is at best voting “present.” Increasingly, the tinder is being laid for conflagrations that seem unreal, unthinkable. Right up until the old question, why didn’t we see it coming?

Claudia is journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and heads its Investigative Reporting Project. She blogs at The Rosett Report.