Leaving the Middle East now is no option

US foreign policy after learned lessons in Iraq

by Lea-Maria Warlich

All eyes on IS. This is Obama’s mantra for the U.S. foreign policy in Syria. Unfortunately, a recently published Brookings report reveals that only one-fifth of Americans think that the U.S. can defeat IS. In American Public Attitudes Toward ISIS and Syria the renowned think tank found out that even if the U.S. were to defeat IS, the majority of U.S. citizens believes in a return of the IS or a similar group.

An Autopsy of the Soul

Lars Von Trier’s alternate worlds

by Dónal O’Brien

Sat by the side of his bed smiling plaintively, her husband lies paralyzed from the neck down. It’s his birthday, he softly declares; “I’m finished, Bess. Go take a lover without anyone noticing, but you can’t divorce me, they’ll never let you.” This is a scene from Lars von Trier’s first international sensation, Breaking the Waves (1996). It brought this uncharacteristic director to the world’s attention.

Ukraine: the weak response of Europe

About Europe’s strategy to stay friends with Putin

by Norbert Wessendorf

‘It was the American leadership and the President of the United States insisting on Europe to stand up and take economic hits to impose costs,’ said Joe Biden, Vice President of the USA, during a speech at the JFK Jr. Forum at Harvard University on October 2nd, 2014. Biden was talking about the sanctions the European Union had implemented on the Russian Federation in 2014 as a consequence of Russia’s activities on Ukrainian territory.

Uncomfortably entertaining cinema

Harmony Korine’s movies for cinephiles and hipsters

by Vaiva Mikelionytė

There is no article about Harmony Korine that could escape calling him enfant-terrible, provocateur, or creator on the edge, even when it is done with suspicion. Although he once called himself a commercial director without financial success, he is mainly known to cinephiles and just plain hipsters. What makes him not so easily approachable? And why is it worthwhile to watch his films?

Can Rouhani bring a change?

Iran’s nuclear program

by Špela Zalokar

When Hassan Rouhani was sworn in as Iran’s 7th President in August 2013, change in the country’s politics was anticipated. Rouhani as a moderate cleric promised to improve the economy and mend international relations. Many speculated that the future of Iran depended largely on Rouhani’s political cooperation with the West and particularly with the United States.

Fantastical conceptions of India

Indomania. From Rembrandt to the Beatles

by Livia Romano

There were cardboard boxes and plastic chairs shoved in the corners of the grand marble entryway of BOZAR as I approached the exhibit Indomania: From Rembrandt to the Beatles. The gift shop outside the entrance consisted of books stacked on wooden crates, evoking the overseas trade that first brought Europeans to India. It feels as if we have docked at the port and are embarking on an adventure.

Tarantino’s gendered violence

Rocking the celluloid veil

by Emily Beeson

It is oft said of Quentin Tarantino that he boasts wonderful success in achieving poster-boy status in the eyes of the cult film critic. Kicking back against film industry royalty, Tarantino has been hailed as the absolute embodiment of zero to hero; a video-shop fan-boy making it big among the giants of Hollywood. This status and rolling success is arguably due to the admirable and stylish balance between…

Worldwide revolution!

Mark Kurlansky’s short history of 1968

by Anne Theunissen

Sex, drugs and rock and roll, the assassination of Martin Luther King, the anti-war movement, the Tet Offensive, the Prague Spring, worldwide student protests, the Black Panthers, and the beginning of the end of Communism: was there anything boring about 1968? At least nothing worth mentioning in the 383 pages of 1968, the year that…

By the book or buy a book?

Erasmus in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

by Dinu Munteanu

“My wish is to be a citizen of the world” — and although the world did not always understand him, the man who in a tormented age had expressed this irenic desire has since become such a symbol. Erasmus sounds familiar, centuries after his death in 1536. A model of scholarly erudition, subtlety and wit, he was the most perceptive and nuanced Christian humanist of all times, a champion of Gospel truth, but also of classical antiquity, a truly unprecedented defender of peace, and a prodigy at making compromises without once…

The West must adopt a new approach to Iran

by Anu Lehtonen

The Western states keep rattling their sabers, but Iran does not seem to yield. It is nearly impossible to reach an agreement on the nuclear program of Iran. The recent debate circles mainly around the enrichment of uranium for its reactors. This is misleading, since under international law the Islamic Republic of Iran has a right to a nuclear program as well as to enrichment. These are guaranteed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT) which Iran ratified…

Bush’s Legacy: Obama’s Salvation?

by Jolanda Thielens

There once was a president who was convinced that everything his predecessor had done was thoughtless, weak, stupid, and even corrupt. Consequently, this president found it wise to reverse almost every single decision and regulation of his preceding government’s rule. White became black, cautiousness became aggressiveness, and saving became spending. His followers, excited as they were, vigorously applauded the daring decrees of their president. His name was…

Playing Paint and Painted Play

by Ruxandra E. Todosi

Forget criticism. Forget art history. Forget chronology and artistic divisions. Recall Cobra years: the post‑war struggle for upturned definitions of expression, the breaking with past constraints, the class clash, the desolation; the revival of…

Searching for Identity in the 1970s

by Miriam L. Weiss

Still under the impression of Den Bosch’s very own 70s show, I find a copy of the weekly magazine intermediair (last issue of 2007) on the train back to Maastricht. It is titled The Year of Identity – The Netherlands from A to Z and I read keywords like bicycle, Maxima, holidays, Yab Yum (it was one of the best-known brothels in Amsterdam), and kissing that are supposed to be characteristics of Dutch culture and identity. It is not the first information I have come across recently, indicating that the Dutch are trying to…


by Cees van der Meyden

Niet meer geld, maar een andere benadering, stelde Sarkozy onlangs in het Elysée tegen enkele honderden inwoners uit de banlieues als oplossing voor in de problematiek van de Franse voorsteden. Met een ‘genadeloze oorlog’ tegen de drugshandelaren en ‘het einde van de bijstandscultuur’ wilde de Franse president de achterstanden bestrijden, aldus NRC-Handelsblad. Dat voornemen past in de eerder dit jaar geformuleerde beschavingspolitiek, waarin “mensen centraal staan in plaats van gebouwen”. De Franse president beloofde…

Een genie in dienst van Europa

Leonardo da Vinci in Brussel

by Eveliene Wassen

‘De De Medicis hebben me groot gemaakt, maar ook gesloopt,’ schrijft Leonardo da Vinci in 1515. De inrichting van de Sint Pieter werd namelijk door Paus Leo X, een telg uit dit geslacht, aan Rafaël en aan Michelangelo toevertrouwd. Toch klinkt Da Vinci’s naam tegenwoordig in één adem met beide andere grootheden. Deze spirituele kunstenaar, wetenschapper, uitvinder en humanistisch filosoof is één van de grootste…

Why destroy Asmara?

Africa’s Secret Modernist City

The inhabitants of Asmara, the capital of the young African nation of Eritrea The inhabitants of Asmara, the capital of the young African nation of Eritrea situated in the mountains towering to the east of the Red Sea, have seen their share of conflict and violence. Neighboring Somalia, Ethiopia, and Sudan, the Eritrean city is regional witness to a century characterized by colonialist exploitation, racist genocide, ideologically fused proxy wars maintained by the cold war superpowers, despotic dictatorships, and lethal ethnic clashes. Eritrea is known as a subject of countless news reports depicting yet another…

Truthful Lies

Michael Moore’s Movies

Watching Michael Moore’s movies makes me feel convinced and deceived at the same time. At the end I just want to shout: “See?! There’s really something wrong with this world and we have to act right now!” But it is also obvious that Moore – a filmmaker, author and social and political activist – is a brilliant propagandist who plays his audience “like a violin”, as one of his critics puts it, and so I should temper…

Blurring the lines

A review of 10 canoes (2006), a film directed by Rolf de Heer

Whilst walking down Swanston Street in Melbourne, in the direction of Flinders Street Station on a pleasant September afternoon, one may encounter one of the sparse contemporary visions of Indigenous Australia. The vision is often first encountered when one has arrived at the foot of St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is definitely not the image that a tourist would expect of these people; nowhere is a didgeridoo to be seen, nor is there a re-enactment of a traditional corroboree (dancing ceremony) for the quick indulgence of tourist exoticism to be found. Rather one sees a bunch of shaggy-haired, smelly, badly dressed, foul-mouthed, chain-smoking, beer or whisky drinking people. Not only men, but also women, and even…