Sanne van Oosten
Appointing political leaders couldn’t be more diametrically opposed than if you compare the America and China. No matter who wins, American elections are always a party. En masse, people buy flags and signs to show who they support. They gather in great squares to hear their leader speak. And once comes election day, they stand in long long lines to cast their vote. People gather together to watch the outcome of the elections.
Sanne van Oosten
Mitt Romney’s wealth has been quite the issue during the US presidential elections. As we wait for the polling booths to close and the outcomes of the various states to roll in, I’m thinking about how interesting it is that such a rich entrepreneur came so far in the elections of 2012. In an era with a falling economy and a strict division between the 1% and the 99% it seems peculiar that Romney could get so far.
I looked forward to watching the last presidential debate about foreign policy as the subject affects so many all over the world. Yet, the debate turned out to be quite a disappointment. It evolved as a show of the realist (not to be confused with realistic) view that describes the international arena as an anarchy with individual nation states as the most important actors. The primary concerns of those states are survival. From this outdated perspective the debate was held. It was as if Hobbes raised form his grave 350 years after his death to expresses concerns of a war of all against all.
In every American presidential debate in the 2012 presidential race, anti-Chinese rhetoric is bound to come up sooner or later. It is true that China took over America as the world’s biggest manufacturer, but both Romney and Obama fail to mention that it were the Americans and not the Chinese that profited from this manufacturing shift in the last decades.
In a very decisive tone after the attacks of the American embassy in Libya, Obama warned that whoever may think of messing with the Americans to think twice before doing so. This was certainly a sort of message that would stress: “I am the leader of the only super power in the world. World beware of my anger”. This must have been recommended by Obama’s consultants with an eye on the upcoming elections. President Obama has been harshly criticized by Mitt Romney for his stand in the latest protests against American embassies around the Muslim world, an accusation that has been denied vehemently by Obama’s campaign.
The anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims is insulting and intentionally provocative, so muslims across the world are justified in their anger. Nevertheless, any violence against innocent people is completely unjustified. Just as the source of anger is a misrepresentation of Islam and the message of the Prophet Muhammad, so too are some of the violent reactions which followed.
Sanne van Oosten
The Netherlands, the land of sex and drugs? How did the Netherlands get this image? And what did Dutch politics have to do with it? The Dutch politician Boris van der Ham just published a book about the history of the legislation concerning sex, drugs and alcohol in the Netherlands. He traced back the transcripts from debates in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries and dug up some interesting historical inconsistencies.
Western nations often criticize other countries for their poor standard of human rights. Indeed, there is a lot to improve all over the world. Nevertheless, you have to practice what you preach and more often than not the advocates of human rights need to have a look at their own country as well. I’m from the Netherlands, a country advocating human rights all over the world, but maybe we should — like other Western countries — take closer at ourselves as well. According Amnesty International there is still a lot improve.