Morning Report: April 20, 2005

Cardinal Ratzinger becomes Pope Benedict XVI. The College of Cardinals elected the former Cardinal Ratzinger as the new Pope, succeeding the late John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI spoke at the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday. The Belmont Club cites the Catholic Encyclopedia for information on the new Pope's predecessor in name, Benedict XV, who was born in 1854 and held the papacy from 1914 to his death in 1922. Of Benedict XVI, Wretchard writes: 'Ratzinger comes at a time when his own native Western Europe is gripped with a crisis similar in some respects to that which divided Eastern Europe in John Paul's day. Like John Paul, he arrives at the Papacy in the midst of a global war: what the Cold War was to John Paul the War on Terror must be to Benedict XVI. He is an unknown quantity, without extensive pastoral experience; a philosopher Pope: the Pope of the Memes. And it is in this last where Benedict's historical significance may lie. He is the first Pope of the Internet Age and stands uncertain, as we all are, on its brink.' Other responses come from Jana Novak (the daughter of Michael Novak and no relation to Jane); David Klinghoffer; seminarian Dennis Schenkel (via Dawn Eden); Andrew Sullivan, who's not happy; Mamamontezz, who hopes for bark and bite; and finally, Winds of Change with an excellent selection of links and an interesting analogy. (various)

More than 60 bodies found in Iraq. The bodies of more than 60 people have been found in the Tigris River and identified, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani announced. News reports indicate that the victims were hostages seized in Madain (Mada'en) earlier this month. Morning Report notes that contradictory accounts of the hostage crisis continue. Another 19 Iraqis were found murdered execution-style at a sports stadium in Haditha. Debka reports: 'First report: Iraqi president Talabani reports 50 hostages’ bodies found in Tigris River south of Baghdad. He claimed to know who they were and who captured them but gave no further information. Shiite officials identify them as belonging to hostages taken in town of Madean by Sunni insurgents. Unconfirmed report of 19 bodies shot dead found in soccer stadium in Haditha northwest of Baghdad.' (Fox via Command Post; Debka)

Musharraf says no to inspections. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said today that he would never allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to visit Pakistan's nuclear sites, Stratfor (subscription service) reports. The IAEA had wanted to compare Pakistani environmental samples with traces of enriched uranium found in Iran. (Stratfor)

Belmont Club on intellegence rivalries. Today's entry at Belmont Club assesses US interagency rivalries (particularly Defense Department vs. CIA) in intelligence operations, especially the critical area of human intelligence. Dreams Into Lightning has previously posted on the State Department's longstanding rivalry with Defense, in State vs. Defense (May 2004). (Belmont Club)

Ledeen: The revolution continues. 'Blessed be we, who live in exciting times. Not only are we participating in a global struggle against tyranny, but, if we look carefully enough, we can see the collapse of the conventional wisdom about the relationship between tyrannical rulers and their subjects. We're in the midst of a great paradigm shift, which, as any decent Hegelian will tell you, involves both a transformation of the world and of the way we understand it. In such rare times, both pundits and policymakers need to constantly challenge their own assumptions about the way the world works, because those assumptions age, along with the world they once described.' Michael Ledeen goes on to cite recent developments in China, Iran, and North Korea, which, he argues, portend a "dramatic tipping point" for the regimes in those countries. Read the article at the link, and watch for discussion on the Free Iran forum. (NRO, Free Iran)