Paris reste debout!

Paris reste debout!

Als ik de metro uitkom op Place de la Republique valt meteen de mensenmassa op die het 19e eeuwse monument omringt. Er zijn camera’s en veel bodyguards – waarschijnlijk is er een beroemdheid of notabele om een krans te leggen. Als ze weer weg is – ik meende  een lange bos rasta’s te zien – gaan we weer verder met waarvoor we  gekomen zijn. Kijken. En stil zijn.

We kijken naar kaarsjes, naar teksten, naar bloemen en ook naar foto’s van overledenen. Sommige namen meen ik te herkennen uit het nieuws. Continue reading “Paris reste debout!”

The Tyranny of Experts – William Easterly (2014)

The Tyranny of Experts – William Easterly (2014)

This book wants to provoke, to stir debate and eventually change our thinking on how to help the poor. Its great subtitle, Economist, Dictators and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor, is just the start. Easterly main message is that the real cause of poverty is the unchecked power of the state against poor people without rights. He doesn’t see a battle between free market and state intervention, but one between authoritarianism and free development.

His basic conclusion is that we may never compromise on equality of rights. It comes before anything else; including poverty reduction programs, propagated by the World Bank and the likes of Gates and Blair. It is at those institutions and wealthy individuals that Easterly (himself a former World Bank economist) addresses his critique. Continue reading “The Tyranny of Experts – William Easterly (2014)”

Putinism, Russia and it’s Future with the West – Walter Laqueur (2015)

Putinism, Russia and it’s Future with the West – Walter Laqueur (2015)

As one of the most important actors on the geopolitical chess board I’m dying to better understand Putin and his Russia: Should he be feared and contained or, as some pundits argue, is he in fact our natural ally? The ‘preeminent’ historian Laqueur has a deep understanding of Russian history and its complexity as he demonstrates throughout his book, in which he paints the mood of the country with the help of writers, philosophers, scientist and philosophers.

Laqueur’s conclusion on Putin is clear: Continue reading “Putinism, Russia and it’s Future with the West – Walter Laqueur (2015)”

Superpower – Ian Bremmer (2015)

Superpower – Ian Bremmer (2015)

bremmerAs the US presidential election approaches, books on candidates, geopolitical issues and the hard choices would-be presidents will see themselves confronted with, will hit the bookstores in big numbers. My guess is that this one will probably stand out for clarity, as the author isn’t afraid to balance all his arguments – as normally seen in essays. After G-Zero this is Bremmer’s second book I read, and again he shows great ability in describing the complex world in a easy-to-read and intelligent way.

Continue reading “Superpower – Ian Bremmer (2015)”

Exodus – Paul Collier (2014)

Exodus – Paul Collier (2014)

Famous economist Paul Collier’s latest book focuses on the effects of migration; on both the immigrant as the people who welcome them. He manages to stay away from the moral high ground, that so often characterizes publications on this matter. His conclusions are surprising and have the potential to reframe the complex debate around migration. Of course, that would need other stakeholders (aid workers, politicians etc) to take the first exit from the moral high way as well. A good start would be to read this book, as Collier makes a strong ,empirical, point that moderate immigration is the best; for all parties involved.

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Heretic. Why Islam must change to join the modern world – Ayaan Hirsi Ali (2015)

Heretic. Why Islam must change to join the modern world – Ayaan Hirsi Ali (2015)

Right in the beginning of her book Hirsi Ali admits thats she was wrong to state, as she did in her last book, that Islam can’t be reformed. The Arab Spring is the reason of her striking U-turn and has fueled Ayaan’s hope that reform is possible.
The central thesis of ‘Heretic’ is that the fundamental problem standing in the way of real reform is the notion that the majority of peaceful and decent Muslims are not willing to acknowledge that the theological ground for intolerance and violence is to be found in their own religious texts. Let alone, criticizing them.

Continue reading “Heretic. Why Islam must change to join the modern world – Ayaan Hirsi Ali (2015)”

The Islamist Phoenix – Loretta Napoleoni (2014)

The Islamist Phoenix – Loretta Napoleoni (2014)

Tells the stunning success story of IS in Iraq and Syria and explains the drivers behind the creation of a  Caliphate that, under the leadership of Al-Baghdadi, invites all Sunni Muslims to join the new Holy Land. IS has made maximum use of the total chaos in the region, the fitna (civil war) within the Islamic community between Sunni’s and Shi’ites and has surprised the divided, indecisive, ill-prepared West with its brutal message that appeals to so many. IS’ goal is nothing less than a new ethnic-religious nation (Napoleoni makes the comparison with the early years of the creation of Israel). Continue reading “The Islamist Phoenix – Loretta Napoleoni (2014)”

De Prijs van een Slecht Geweten – Arend Jan Boekestijn (2010)

De Prijs van een Slecht Geweten – Arend Jan Boekestijn (2010)

Boekestijn, a historian and former liberal MP, is on a mission. He is specifically interested in the (potential) damage aid does to poor countries and he formulates a detailed list of policy recommendation, making this book a great attempt to really influence the debate and policy on a practical level. Which to a certain extent it probably did, since the thinking on of aid and development has over the last years significantly evolved towards a more rational approach.
Continue reading “De Prijs van een Slecht Geweten – Arend Jan Boekestijn (2010)”