S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Benefits in Knowing Opinion from Abroad

(from "free-pictures-photos")
We cannot assume we actually know what is going on in the world if we confine ourselves to only U.S. media resources. Regular reading of the Washington Post, New York Times and the Los Angeles Times is good but not sufficient. Even if you add Politico, The Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos, and Firedog Lake, your worldview might still be too parochial. We live on a shrinking globe; we have no corner on knowledge and wisdom. Opinions on the same issues differ widely from nation to nation.
Knowing the news - I do not mean to imply that I read all those news sources every day. I would be forced to stay in my pajamas all day long is that were the case. As many of you probably do, I read on impulse, whimsically, or whatever story has captured my fancy for the day. I might retain articles for later, or use a few in my current post. But I inevitably get a more accurate perspective on current realities.
Russia and U.S. cooperatively belong to *"The Quartet," a group that has been helping to promote peace between Israel and Palestine. As an example of different perspectives, contrast the U.S. Associated Press story on how "The Quartet" is doing, to the rather different than one written from Russia's Ria Novosti.
Russia and the U.S are understandably much more at odds over our plan to deploy an antiballistic missile system in Eastern Europe. Read the Russian opinion here: "Washington's meat may be Europe's poison" (19/ 02/ 2007), by RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Romanov. To quote,
What does Europe stand to gain, or lose, from the forthcoming deployment of American antiballistic missile (ABM) systems in Poland and the Czech Republic?
Officially, they are supposed to protect Europe from the missiles of "rogue" countries (such as North Korea and Iran). If this explanation weren't already as believable as Santa Clause, the facts (including geography, ballistics, and the data provided by all major intelligence agencies) serve to discredit it even further.
. . . President Vladimir Putin has said openly that Russia would respond to the U.S. deployment of ABM systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, though not in kind. In other words, it will not build a new ballistic missile system, whose effectiveness could in any case not be proved without live tests, but will use missiles that can evade such systems, which it already has.
. . . So, has Europe gained or lost? Has life on the continent become safer under America's leaky umbrella, with Russian missiles on combat duty round the clock? Would it have been better off without either?
The answer seems apparent to me. Why then have Poland and the Czech Republic agreed to house American ABM systems, and why is NATO building up its military muscle? Does it want to intimidate Moscow?
The United States is a great power, but it is not God Almighty, and when it makes mistakes it makes them in a big way. Why recreate problems the world has worked so hard to solve?
U.S view - The headline of a more recent New York Times story reads, "U.S. Tries to Ease Concerns in Russia on Antimissile Plan."
Bush administration officials tried Wednesday to tamp down Russian concerns, voiced in strikingly harsh terms, over American plans to base missile defenses in Eastern Europe.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the missile defense proposal, which calls for deploying 10 interceptors in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic, was solely intended to counter the possible development of long-range Iranian missiles.
. . . Angela E. Stent, director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University, said the Bush administration had “already been reassessing our policy toward Russia, as we have understood at least since January of 2006 or even before that there is a newly self-confident Russia, a Russia that is awash in petrodollars and a Russia that really feels it can say no and pursue its own interests.”
Ms. Stent said the Bush administration was well aware that the Russian agenda on Syria, Hamas, Venezuela and a number of issues parted with Washington’s. But she said it was worth seeking cooperation, in particular on counterterrorism.
. . . But the administration is pressing Moscow on other issues of concern, including its use of its energy resources as a political tool, its crackdown on civil liberties and press freedoms and its pressure on Russia’s southern neighbors, in particular Georgia.

"European bloggers find their voice," *** headlined a story from the Financial Times (10/10/06). About 40% of my readers do not live in the United States. As a matter of fact, people outside our borders probably read from more U.S. sources that vice versa. The FT article concludes with a terrific list of the most popular blogs in the **UK, France, Germany and Italy. I quote from the story:

Readership of blogs in Europe is catching up with the US, but the most popular blogs are still dominated by Americans, according to new research which compares bloggers of different nationalities.
However blogs are becoming an increasingly important part of political life in both Europe and the US, with more than a quarter of readers of the websites spurred to political or civic action.
A study by Edelman, the public relations company, and Technorati, the blog search engine, found that the top 100 most influential bloggers worldwide – measured by the number of links they receive from other blogs – were almost all from the US, with only a satirical Italian blog (also published in English) breaking in at number 28. The most influential UK blog, Gaping Void, was ranked 139th.
. . . In each country more than a quarter of those readers were galvanised into political action by what they learned; the most popular forms of action were signing petitions and attending public meetings.

References:*Quartet statement - one-page (2/21/07) pdf press release
**EU Referendum - very interesting and readable UK blogger
***Yahoo search results on "European bloggers"
My news aggregator, Bloglines "News - other countries" list:

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