24/09/2012

Russia, the Spirit of Geneva and the Humanitarian/Political Divide

The Russian Federation has just closed down all domestic activities associated with the United States Agency for International Development (A.I.D.). The official arm of the U.S. government’s assistance programs has spent almost $3 billion over the past 20 years combating the spread of diseases, developing the rule of law, and helping modernize infrastructure in Russia.

The Kremlin’s decision follows previous stricter controls on foreign civil society aid and development programs. The Russian argument is that under the guise of development assistance the programs have interfered in the country’s internal affairs, crossing the line between development/humanitarian assistance and political meddling.

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19/09/2012

Anti-American Uprisings: What is responsible?

What is responsible for the outbreak of anti-American violence in the Muslim world? The obvious first answer is the reprehensible video. But, behind the video there are several theories being floated. Among them are: 1) The protesters are a street minority who do not reflect majority feelings. The distinction between populism and democracy is relevant here; 2) Democracy takes time. It is unreasonable to expect democratic values such as freedom of expression to be assimilated in such a short period of time; 3) A cultural clash is most evident. Western countries are attuned to criticizing and even mocking religious figures that are held sacred and beyond mockery by other cultures and religions; 4) The United States is associated with imperialism, often aligned with Israel. The violent outbreaks are a manifestation of a rejection of foreign intervention.

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12/09/2012

Cairo Riots and Libyan Killing: As Time Goes By

The other day, protesters stormed over the wall of the United States Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, capturing the American flag and destroying it. The rioters were angry over an amateur American video denouncing Islam. Protesters also attacked the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and killed the U.S. ambassador there. Both events took place around the 11th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11.

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19:22 Publié dans Middle East, USA | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) |  Imprimer |  Facebook | | | |

03/09/2012

The U.S. Presidential Election: Do Facts Matter?

During the recent political campaigns in the United States it has become fashionable to do fact checks on what the candidates say. Reporters scrupulously follow each phrase and statistic and then follow through with a specific analysis of whether the statement was true or not. Woe be to the candidate who does not adhere to facts. The next day’s papers will show how far the candidate was off the mark.

But does this really matter? Benedict Anderson wrote a wonderful book on imagined communities. His argument was that communities create myths around which they develop a common history. Does Switzerland really care if William Tell existed or not? Did he really shoot the apple off the head of his son?

 

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16:18 Publié dans USA | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) |  Imprimer |  Facebook | | | |