Funny thing about being an American living away from America: It makes you think more about what it means to be an American. But which is the dominant sentiment? Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or out of sight, out of mind. The answer depends on a lot of variables. Over the years, various people and projects have explored those variables: the mechanics and meanings of expatriatism.

For all the crude xenophobic placards and slogans at this week's Russian March, one stood out for its—dare I say—cleverness. “The good half of the population already hates the regime. Soon you will get to know the bad half,” read a sign carried by a marcher. Not only was it clever, but it also rang true. In a recent editorial, wrote that “for the first time, nationalist marches are taking on an oppositionist character.”

Last week, an eminent American industrialist who is an old friend, a proud veteran of the U.S. Navy, a patriotic but very reasonable and moderate citizen and a respecter of all other serious nationalities (including Canada), visited me and volunteered that he is in a state of despair about his country.

President Enrique Pena Nieto’s PRI and the like-minded PAN have the congressional votes to pass an energy reform. Doing so without preparing Mexicans for the change could be counterproductive. The PRI has also vowed to unveil its own proposal later this year. But pushing a little-known reform on Mexicans at the very last minute may be as troublesome as not having a reform at all. Mexico has a historic opportunity to change its energy future. The country's politicians will make history if they educate their citizens about why their insular oil nationalism is no longer an option.

Cheap and irresponsible China-bashing is counterproductive to the long-term American strategy because it is sure to inflame Chinese nationalism, a powerful emotional force that could be deftly exploited by the ruling Communist Party. When the Chinese media plays up such anti-China rhetoric coming from America’s most powerful politicians, one can bet that it will elicit instinctive anti-American feelings from ordinary Chinese.

Cultural relations work really looks different if you make the connection with the role of nationalism in European politics in the period after 1850. The theory and practice of nationalism places language and culture at the heart of what makes the nation. It was the rise of nationalism that corroded multinational empires and consolidated national states in Europe.

To some, his capture testifies to the effectiveness of European leverage and underlines the E.U.'s soft power: by holding out the carrot of accession, the E.U. induces meaningful change in would-be members.

The Chinese government considers the radical remarks made by netizens to be prods toward the adoption of wise foreign policies, says a top political adviser. "When learning about people's opinions, we should take a comprehensive view. The radical comments made by some netizens are just part of the whole"...