Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Culture Clash

Listening to Dutch news on Radio 1, the best mix of news, background and music I've ever heard on a radio station. Or maybe I'm biased.

Anyway, two news items, seemingly different but illustrating the same. Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot (yes that's his name) is pissed off because the US have neglected to appoint a new ambassador to his country for six months now. The intended appointee is a crook but also a Bush crony, so this has to be sorted out and that takes time. The WHO is pissed off with many Asian countries because they don't prepare enough for a possible flu pandemic. There's a distinct threat, everybody is planning for it except the Asians, who'll probably be the first to suffer and transmit to the rest of the world.

What do these two have in common? Different cultures, talking to each other but not connecting. Calvinist Dutch Ben Bot doesn't understand that in the US finding a way to reward loyalty to a President-Elect is more important than diplomatic traffic with another country. And the Western-dominated WHO doesn't understand that Asian reality is always more complicated than the best scenario planning in the world.

Who said the world was getting smaller?

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