A Dutch plea for US World Cup support

Dutch National Team striker Arjen Robben. Image copyright Getty Images

A review of the best commentary on and around the world...

Today's must-read

Wall Street Journal executive editor Almar Latour has a message for Americans who are looking for a new team to adopt now that the US side has been knocked out of the World Cup. Give the Netherlands a chance.

First of all, the Dutchman says, the flags of both nations are red, white and blue - so there's no wardrobe change necessary for US fans.

He also says both the US and Holland have fought losing battles against Belgium.

"Granted, ours was in the 1830s while yours was just Tuesday," he writes. "But we both had great defenders who ultimately could not save us from losing."

For the US that is, of course, goalkeeper Tim Howard. The Dutch have naval officer Jan van Speijk, who blew up his ship - and much of his crew, including himself - rather than let it fall into Belgian hands.

His list continues. The Mayflower began its journey to Plymouth Rock from the Netherlands. Several US states seem to be embracing Holland's liberalised drug laws. Most Dutch people speak English.

Even the word "Yankee" likely comes from a Dutch word, he says:

Some say the word stems from "Janke", or little Jan, once a common name in the Netherlands and in New Amsterdam. Others say it derived from "Jan-Kees", a common first name. Either way, if you're a Yankee, you're practically Dutch already.

So, "Hup, Holland, hup", he implores.

The Dutch national team plays its next game on Saturday. Its opponent? Costa Rica, which of course has nothing in common with the US.

Except the same continent. And the same football association. And the same flag colours. And it has the kind of underdog story Americans love.



Has Assad won? - The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) has members of the Obama administration debating whether the US must forge an unhappy alliance with President Bashar Assad's Syria, writes the Daily Beast's Josh Rogin.

"Some officials inside the administration are proposing that the drive to remove Assad from power, which Obama announced as US policy in 2012, be set aside," he writes.

The US started down this path when it decided to negotiate with Syria over the destruction of its chemical weapons stocks, Rogin writes.

"The US, Russian, and Syrian governments made a deal last September to destroy Assad's stockpile of chemical weapons - and relied on Damascus to account for and transport those weapons, in effect legitimising his claim to continued power," he says.


A nation of tolerance - Canada's worldwide reputation for tolerance is an "accident of geography and history", writes John Ibbitson.

"It's easier to be tolerant when you don't have millions of people next door, desperate to get in, as the United States and Europe do," he writes.

Thanks to its duel French and English colonial identities, he continues, Canada has a great deal of cultural openness, as well.

"Happy circumstance made Canada the vibrant, cosmopolitan, peaceful, creative and delightful hodge-podge of languages and cultures it has become," he writes. "It's our job to keep it that way."


Product placements in new Transformers film - US audiences have long gotten used to seeing commercial items prominently promoted in Hollywood films. As Economic Observer's Tong Mu notes, however, the latest Transformers film features an unprecedented number of Chinese products on display.

"This is naturally very understandable - implanting 'Chinese elements' is the trend these days to cater to a booming audience for foreign films in China," he writes (translated by WorldCrunch). "More than 10 Chinese brands are highlighted in this movie including liquor, milk, bottled water, cars, television sets and bank cards."

China is the world's second-largest film market, Mu notes, and its Chinese appeal has helped Transformers 4 exceed $300m (£175m) in global ticket sales so far.


War in Waziristan - The Pakistan army's recent incursion into the lawless territory of the North Waziristan Tribal Agency "risks spreading the terrorist threat to other parts of Pakistan", writes former Pakistan Finance Minister Shahid Javed Burki for Project Syndicate.

The violence could even spread to the Pakistan capital Karachi, he warns, as waves of refugees head south.

"They will be in no mood to lay down their arms if the municipal authorities fail to develop inclusive political institutions that give minority ethnic groups a fair political voice," he writes.

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Russia commentators react to the resumption of fighting in Ukraine after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko suspends his nation's unilateral ceasefire.

"The political manoeuvres of the Ukrainian president smell of madness. But this madness has its own stern logic... EU politicians felt uncomfortable to sign the association agreement with Ukraine to the sound of artillery." - Mikhail Rostovskiy in Moskovskiy Komsomolets.

"In effect, the ceasefire from the very start was doomed to failure because it ran counter to the fundamental interests of the Kiev authorities." - Dmitriy Kamyshev in Vedomosti.

"Bloodshed must be stopped immediately, however difficult it may be from the military and political points of view for all the sides in the conflict. It is necessary to move from optional consultations to serious and responsible talks on a peaceful settlement. " - Editorial in Novaya Gazeta.‎

Have you found an interesting opinion piece about global issues that we missed? Share it with us via email at echochambers (at) bbc.co.uk.

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