The big question is how effectively he can apply his accumulated soft power to make a difference on the world stage. [...] But the pope's most audacious foreign-policy move has been a crusade against worldwide income inequality and environmental degradation, including man-made climate change.

The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said the Holy See hopes the rapprochement will soon be followed by the removal of the U.S. embargo, which the Vatican has long opposed. On Friday, the United States eased rules for U.S. citizens wishing to travel to Cuba and simplified procedures for telephone and Internet investments and money transfers to Cuba.

Pope Francis begins his historic visit to Cuba and the United States this weekend, when he will address the US Congress and the United Nations. It is a chance to influence policymakers on issues that will shape the future of the planet. But there is another platform he should be invited to join.

Pope Francis is not a politician, but likes a good political dustup. And the Holy Father couldn't have packed his trip to the United States this month with more politically charged issues. [...] "People who think the world revolves around Washington politics don't realize that the Pope is a global leader," said Francis Rooney, who was U.S. ambassador to the Vatican for four years under President George W. Bush.

The idea was emphasized during the China-Latin America and the Caribbean Forum "Sharing the Future," held for the first time in Shanghai, east of the country, and in the presence of about 300 businessmen and tourist agencies of the city, the most populated one of this nation.

August 27, 2015

This article is a timely assessment of the cultural, political and sentimental factors that shape and influence the meaning and deployment of flags across history, with examples of flags used during the Arab Spring, to those seen in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and present day Mozambique, New Zealand, and Vietnam. 

August 24, 2015

But the new relationship will give American diplomats greater leeway to reach out to dissidents. Instead of asking permission to travel around the island, diplomats simply have to notify the government of their travel plans. Not ideal, but then Cuba is not a free country. That’s the whole point of the new policy, to achieve by engagement — soft power, if you will — what hard power could not achieve during the Cold War and beyond.