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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Nationalism and the West; Dangerous America?; Kissinger and Cambodia; Foreign policy credentials?

Nationalism and the West

In his op-ed column "Beware an angry China" (Views, April 9), Philip Bowring rightly points out that China-bashing may increase nationalism in China. But Bowring misses the point that the anxiety in the West over losing its superior position in global affairs has been fomenting nationalism in North America and Europe, which fuels a wave of China bashing.

The Olympic crisis is not about China: It is an expression of the West's sense of superiority. There is much anxiety in the West over losing this superior position, and this is exacerbated by economic insecurity in a globalized world.

It's a joke for the West to think it can use the Olympics to leverage China. Nothing can stop China. Even without the Olympics, people would still travel to China for business or pleasure.

Most Chinese are far less nationalist than many people in the West.

Shuaihua Cheng, Geneva

Dangerous America?

It is quite incredible to read a letter to the editor suggesting that NATO be disbanded and asserting that a majority of the people in Europe and Italy consider America to be the greatest danger to world peace (April 10).

If it were not for the U.S. Army in World War II, Italy might still be under a dictatorship fostered by Mussolini and Germany would be the fascist superpower of Europe.

I am a senior citizen, so I vividly remember that thousands of American soldiers, including several friends of mine, died on an Italian beach to free Italians from the yoke of Mussolini. To point to the United States as a danger to peace in the world is a grave insult. America saved Europe, and the American troops stationed in Germany and elsewhere in Europe are today a bulwark against any possible ideas Russia might have to use Russian oil as a weapon to control the future of NATO.

How quickly we forget.

Bernard Ilson, New York

Kissinger and Cambodia

I reside in a country that still lives with the disaster sown by Henry Kissinger ("The debate we need to have," Views, April 8) and the Nixon administration. His orders to the U.S. military a generation ago were to send anything that flies against anything that moves.

Those who witnessed the destruction in Cambodia say that it is impossible to describe. But it did provoke thousands of peasants to join a hitherto marginal force known as the Khmer Rouge. We are familiar with the result.

Even today, Cambodia remains more influenced by Communist Vietnam than by the West - hardly a strategic victory for the erstwhile secretary of state.

John Macgregor, Phnom Penh

Foreign policy credentials?

Regarding the article "Obama tries to bolster his credentials on foreign policy" (April 11): It is worrying, if not pathetic, that Senator Barack Obama and his advisers cite "his ties to relatives in poor villages in Kenya" and " a trip to Pakistan while he was a college student" as relevant foreign policy experience. That background would hardly qualify him for a job on a microfinance project in a developing country.

As the credentials of the two other U.S. presidential candidates are also rather thin, Obama could make a difference if he were supported by heavyweights in foreign policy and diplomacy among whom he might select his vice president.

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Crowds hit the road to mark Cambodia’s New Year holiday

Thousands of people crammed onto buses and cars, some clinging to roofs and spilling out of doors, as they headed out of Phnom Penh yesterday for the Buddhist New Year holiday.

The three-day holiday — also celebrated in Thailand, Myanmar and Laos — gives thousands of Cambodia’s transient workers a rare chance to spend time with family, leaving the normally busy capital unusually empty.

“This is the only chance I have to visit my parents, and I am so excited,” said 22-year-old Sun Srey Pov, who left her hometown in the east to work in a Phnom Penh garment factory.

“It is a pleasurable time, although it is hard to travel,” she said while trying to elbow some room in a 12-seat minibus, which was packed with 20 people inside and five hanging off the roof.

In Phnom Penh, elderly women dressed in traditional costume carried food to give to monks at pagodas. The younger generation pursued different traditions — spraying each other with talcum powder, playing street games and dancing to loud music.

But the practice of throwing water and talcum powder on passing motorists has been discouraged by the government.

A truck with a megaphone patrolled the streets, warning that the practice could cause traffic accidents.
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