Archive for the ‘politics and culture’ Category

Future of the Middle East

If you’re interested in the intersection of culture and geography with politics, and if you have any interest in the Middle East, then I highly recommend a story from the recent issue of The Atlantic. Titled “After Iraq,” the story written by Jeffrey Goldberg looks at how history, geography, culture and politics have combined to give us the current […]

The role of tribal identity in Kenya

A few weeks ago, I had some posts (here and here) about the Kenyan elections and the influence of tribalism in that country’s politics. Now, the Washington Post has an excellent article that explores that topic in more depth and examines the role of tribal identity in shaping the political and world views of many Kenyans. A key […]

The idea of Russia

It’s been two weeks since Time magazine named Vladimir Putin its “Person of the Year.” Now that the holiday craziness has ended, I finally got around to reading that issue of the magazine. In it, there is a fascinating portrait of Putin, but also an intriguing article about Russia itself (“In Search of Russia’s Big Idea”), which is the […]

Obama and America’s image in the world

Well, everyone knows now that Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee won their respective party caucuses in Iowa yesterday. The media coverage, in fact, has already moved on to speculation about next week’s New Hampshire primary and the evolving strategies of the top contenders. There is obviously a long way to go in this race and no […]

Culture and elections

Kenya has erupted into violence after a disputed election. The Pakistani political party of Benazir Bhutto has named her 19-year-old son as the party’s new leader.  This post is not meant to judge the politics of other countries. After all, the U.S. faced some problems of its own with a hotly disputed election seven years ago and, as Andrew Sullivan notes, we’re […]

Tribalism and democracy in Kenya

Tribalism is an inescapable undercurrent of life throughout much of Africa and the Middle East. And, as this Washington Post article notes, one’s tribal loyalties have also played a significant role in democratic elections in Kenya, even though many voters deny it is an issue. Although many issues are at stake in Kenya’s presidential election Thursday […]

Nomadic traditions influence politics

It’s easy to dismiss ancient nomadic traditions as quaint relics of the past. But researchers are now discovering that these tribal traditions are not only the building blocks of Central Asian cultures but are also representative of values that continue to influence contemporary politics. Some of these insights were discussed in a recent article in the International […]

Diplomacy and culture

In the most recent edition of Newsweek, there is a story about Ryan Crocker, the new U.S. ambassador to Baghdad. In the middle of the article are some excerpts which indicate that Crocker takes the role of culture seriously and that he goes out of his way to learn about the country he is working […]

Culture and democracy in Bhutan

It’s easy in the West for us to assume the democracy is a natural state of government, or at least something that people in every country long for. That’s why I was intrigued by an article about Bhutan in the International Herald Tribune. It seems that the king of Bhutan has decided his Himalayan country is ready […]

Somalia and Somaliland

There is a fascinating article in yesterday’s NY Times about the differences between Somalia and Somaliland, which shows some of the ways in which culture and history can influence societies. If you’ve never heard of Somaliland, don’t worry. It’s likely that many people have never heard of the place, since no one recognizes it a country even though it declared […]

The challenges posed by clans and tribalism

I’ve previously written about clans and tribalism as it relates to Iraq and the Middle East.  But this cultural topic is of course also an issue in other regions of the world, as shown by this recent article about Somalia. … whether Somalia pulls itself together now or explodes into bloodshed again depends not on American […]

The tribal culture of Iraq

There are many people who would have us believe that the challenges of Iraq are all about politics and terrorism.  And, of course, those obstacles are very real and are difficult enough to overcome.  But the hurdles involved in putting that country back together actually go much deeper, since a solution to the Iraqi quagmire isn’t really possible without taking into account […]

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