Barry A. Ward’s July 30 letter, “Glib reference to ‘Eastern spirit,’ ” which was a response to my July 19 letter (“The real battle of civilizations”): I would like to clarify some major points. Yes, we can see differences among the broad concepts of “Western,” “European” and “American,” and we have adopted good aspects of Western civilization and cultures without trying to search for something to feel superior about.
My remark that the memoirs of late former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara were reflective of the “Western spirit” came from my recognition that the concepts of “European” and “American” share the same Western root. The concept of “American” here must also be limited to what is characterized by the United States and Canada, not South America. I call Europe, the U.S. and Canada “Western” even though one can see that Europe, typically the European Union, has shown many conflicts of interests vis-a-vis the U.S.
I condemn any aggressive war, including that fought by Japan in the 1930s and ’40s. We are not proud of that. And we are not so naive as to defend our human-exploiting past in which industrialized nations in Europe as well as Japan invaded and colonized weaker nations.
What I meant by the “triumph of the ‘Eastern spirit’ against the ‘Western spirit’ ” is that no true politician or military leader would wage a destructive war against his enemies in the name of democracy and freedom and then write memoirs “repenting” of his murderous acts and even apologize to his old enemies in person as McNamara did in Hanoi.
I wonder whether such a political/military “leader” was truly convinced of his mission or was just a bad clown.