Letters to the editor

Responses to China column failed to get at the point of the original argument

To the Editor:

It is often said that no one is more hated than the bearer of bad news. The responses that I have received to my piece on the latent threat the People’s Republic of China poses to world peace and the interests of the United States have ranged from the incoherent to the disingenuous to the meaningless. Yes, China spends far less on its military than the U.S. However, as a percentage of the economy, military spending is far larger in China than in the U.S. and the growth of this spending is also much greater. Furthermore, China is deliberately opaque when it comes to its military policies and budget, rarely publishing the “white papers” that most other countries put out to avoid confrontation and misunderstanding, and consistently lying about real military expenditures, as even Taisu Zhang admits (“Column got China’s history, intentions wrong,” 3/7). Furthermore, the bellicosity of China’s rhetoric towards her neighbors should give anyone pause, especially when taken within the context of the military buildup. Brian Hauss is correct to point to the Pacific War as a cause of resentment of Japan (“Column presented overblown China threat,” 3/6), and no one should belittle what took place during that time. Nevertheless, that explanation fails, I believe, to explain the full picture. After all, the other East Asians suffered tremendously under Japanese rule, yet they have taken a less strident approach to their diplomacy. The fact is that falling from the position of first-rate power to third-rate power was a grievous wound to China’s pride that has not yet been overcome. Zhang is correct to mention the many inherent weaknesses in the current PRC state, and we should not make the mistake of overestimating China’s power. Nevertheless, we would be wise to look ahead to the dangers of a world in which China has grown far richer (as most predictions indicate it will), stronger and just as bellicose and chauvinistic toward non-Han peoples. That was the central point of my piece and no one has, nor can, rebut that.

Matthew Klein ’09

March 7

The writer is in Berkeley College.

Correction wasn’t quite enough to clarify congressman’s views on Iraq

To the Editor:

Although we were grateful for the News’ correction to its article on Congressman Chris Murphy’s recent visit to Yale (“Murphy decries ‘destructive politics,’” 3/5), we feel that Congressman Murphy’s position on the war in Iraq needs further clarification. Murphy did say he does not believe Congress will pass legislation that would leave troops vulnerable or underequipped, but he also explained that this common criticism does not apply to proposed legislation to de-fund the war in Iraq. In fact, he argued that cutting funding is within Congress’ power and is the most effective way to end the war. He criticized the public impression that cutting funds would mean asking soldiers to give their flak jackets and weapons back and then leaving them stranded in the middle of the conflict, saying that instead, it would result in bringing the troops home altogether. This mistaken public perception of what de-funding the war would mean is what he referred to as “bulls—.” At the same time, he acknowledged the differences of opinion even within the Democratic caucus and recognized the difficulty of reaching any lasting solution to the Iraq conflict. Murphy’s position closely reflects the views of many students. He acknowledges that a continued American military presence in Iraq may do more harm than good, that the so-called “surge” asks too much of too few troops and that Congress and the American public have an obligation to stand up against a failed strategy with all means possible.

Abby McCartney ’10

March 7

The writer is in Branford College.