I have two comments regarding Michael Richardson’s Aug. 3 article, “U.S. reputation suffers in Asia“:
(1) Richardson contends that America’s reputation is now being damaged in Asia. That may be so, but it began with its ignominious defeat in Vietnam. Rather than having “bounced back” from that debacle, it continues to suffer the aftereffects both domestically and in Asia. Its counterproductive, arrogant, inhumane acts and its disdainful treatment of its own people exposed its hypocrisy and fundamental weaknesses, undermined its self-confidence and certainly eroded Asian respect. Its actions in Iraq and Afghanistan only compounded this legacy.
(2) Richardson treats China as a simplistic political monolith in his explanation of its apparent increased assertiveness regarding maritime boundaries. China scholars like David Shambaugh suggest that there are several factions that influence the Chinese leadership and that, more recently, the “nationalist” faction has garnered more influence than the “internationalist” faction.
Other analysts suggest that at least some of the supposedly China-initiated incidents have been the result of on-the spot decisions by local commanders rather than general or specific direction from Beijing. To assume that China is a political monolith risks making major misjudgments in relations with it.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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