Russia and the Netherlands: Changes and Challenges

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Russia and the Netherlands: Changes and Challenges

Essay Question #2

• Compare and contrast the major internal changes and challenges faced by Russia and the Netherlands as detailed by Baker & Glasser and Buruma respectively.

Russia and the Netherlands are both continuously complex and changing nations,

with rich histories remembered and great challenges overcome (and some still yet to

be overcome). In the very near past however, certain large scale changes and massive

challenges have come about for both countries, each linked to their pasts. Russia has had

to deal with war and terrorism brought on from its Chechen republic wanting to secede

and has come face to face with the immense difference between large city dwellers and

the poor, backwards inhabitants of the countryside. The country has started to slide back

to the authoritarianism of its not so distant past as its newest Prime Minister gained

large amounts of power quickly, but has also regained a sense of national pride mixed

with Soviet overtones. The Netherlands have had to deal with a growing population of

immigrants that have not conformed, or been welcomed into, society and have sparked up

unrest and great discomfort on both sides. They have also had to face the death of a great

leader and the continuous debate of whish freedoms, and whose, are most important. The

two countries continue to deal with these changes and challenges.

A great difficulty that both countries have had to deal with is domestic

terrorism and ethnic conflict, Russia, from the Chechen freedom fighters that want their

own separate nation, and the Netherlands, from the second and third generation

immigrants that rebel because they feel lost between a homeland they do not understand

and the country they live in but have not yet adapted to. Chechnya had tried to secede

from Russia before, although with rich oil fields Yeltsin refused to allow this to happen,

and when Putin became Prime Minister he immediately had to deal with this rebellious

republic, and he did so with force. He launched into a harsh campaign in Chechnya

where not even the “minimal conventions of war set out in Geneva” (Baker, 107) were

followed and where being “disappeared” was not an uncommon thing at all. The

Chechen rebellion forces responded to attacks with increased violence, assassinating

Putin’s puppet governor, gunning down citizens of neighboring Ingushetia, bombing

airplanes, subway stations, and even hospitals, and, of course, the Beslan incident (Baker,

19). The Netherlands has a distinct difference in the nature of its terrorism problem and

similarly, will require a vastly different solution. The Dutch have had their fair share of

terrorist activity, even if it has been less intense and less prevalent than in many other

countries, with older instances of Moluccan hijacking of trains and killings several

passengers, the forming of certain radical organizations such as the Hofstad group, and

even, if considered in a certain light, the killing of Theo van Gogh. But, unlike the

Chechens fighting for their political freedom, the violent tendencies of second and third

generation immigrants in the Netherlands cannot simply be blamed on religious

contention; “the real problem [is] the lack of integration in European society” which is

too often caused by politicians encouraging “hostility by blaming the immigrants for all

kinds of crimes” (Buruma, 214). While both Russia and the Netherlands are dealing with

the terrorism and conflict caused by ethnic, cultural, and religious differences among

their populations, Russia’s problem seems much more violent with the only outcomes

being a free Chechnya or a completely destroyed wasteland, compared to the Dutch issue

of either forced assimilation or the closing off of borders and the start of deportation.

An even broader change, that...
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