Archive for the ‘politics and culture’ Category

Obama and democracy in Asia

Obama Air Force One

If you go behind the headlines of President Obama’s current trip to Asia, you can see that much of the agenda has been devoted to engaging with other democratic nations and promoting shared values. Here is a snapshot of the trip from that perspective.

How geography can become destiny

The geography of Greece.

How much influence does geography have on a nation’s culture? Quite a bit, actually, and not only for the reasons you might initially consider…While pivoting off the current Greek debt crisis, he suggests that Greece’s geography has, in many ways, determined its destiny.

The internet and social media have important role in Iranian election

It’s not news anymore that use of the Internet and social media was a key factor in propelling the U.S. presidential campaign of Barack Obama. In fact, Obama was so successful with these tactics, and social media is now so ingrained in the lives of millions of Americans, that it would be inconceivable for a future […]

Do the Chinese need authoritarianism?

That was the sentiment of some recent comments by movie star Jackie Chan, who suggested that the Chinese people weren’t ready to deal with too much freedom or liberty. His statement, predictably, ignited a firestorm of protest.  “I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled,” Mr. Chan said during the Boao […]

Sufi Muslims and Islam

Could the West gain a foothold in the battle against Islamic terrorism by working to strengthen Islam? Yes, under certain conditions, suggests this intriguing essay in the Boston Globe. According to the author, Philip Jenkins, the West has a natural ally in the Sufi Muslim movement, which is a more mystical branch of Islam that has […]

Link between your decorating habits and your politics?

Does the look of your workplace or your living space reveal anything about your political ideology? According to this story in Live Science, it just might. A person may hide their political ideology from others, including from pollsters, but the researchers were delighted to learn that a peek into subjects’ living quarters or even workspaces […]

How the French see America

It’s no surprise that the French have a complicated relationship with the United States. One that is certainly reciprocated, as the Americans and the French seem to both love and detest what is most unique about the other’s country. This love-hate dynamic is uniquely examined through the prism of politics in a recent essayby Steven Erlanger in the […]

Tribes and clans in Afghanistan

There is a short but thoughtful article in The Atlantic about the current U.S. engagement with Afghanistan and the story contains some useful pieces of information about Afghan culture. Specifically, it speaks about the tremendous importance of tribes and clans in the nation’s social structure, while suggesting that the U.S. strategy is on the wrong track […]

Clan-based government in Somalia?

The best designed governments are those that build upon the culture of a country, rather than those that try to impose foreign ideas and systems on a people. So I read with interest this recent story in the International Herald Tribune about a movement to re-design the government of Somalia in a way that would emphasize the traditional […]

How multicultural Hawaii shaped Obama

U.S. News and World Report has a story this week that explores how the multicultural nature and “aloha spirit” of Hawaii helped shape the beliefs of Barack Obama as a young man. It’s a glimpse into the culture of one of the most famous but perhaps least understood states in the U.S. An excerpt from […]

New democracy born in Himalayas

This past week saw a unique event in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, as residents trekked to the polls for the first time in the country’s history at the behest of the king, who voluntarily decided to give up royal power in order to move his country towards a democratic future. The Washington Post has […]

Can women leaders move beyond war?

Interesting story in the Christian Science Monitor about female leaders from 45 countries who met in India last week to mark International Women’s Day and to discuss a feminine style of leadership that they believe could help move the world beyond war. She is one of several hundred prominent female leaders from 45 countries who […]

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    Bob Riel is a writer and a traveler. Go here to read more about Bob, his work and the Travels in the Riel World blog.


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