Dangerous liaisons & moderating influences

There is much talk of the new American president’s odious views, volatile nature and, as your articulately argued Editorial points out, his isolationist policies and slack grip on reality that could make him a dangerous prospect for the world. But, though he has cast some alarming actors in central roles in his administration – most notably chief strategist and apparent Islamophobe Steve ‘alt-right’ Bannon and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller, who has, it seems, called the President’s powers to protect the US ‘very substantial’, powers that ‘will not be questioned’– I for one feel there are enough intelligent moderating influences in the mix, such as Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State) and Defence Secretary James Mattis, who have the experience, strength and independence of mind to call Trump and others to account.

Like your Editorial writer, I do not have a great deal of faith in President Donald Trump’s personal wisdom or judgement, especially as he seems to bend with the wind, as witnessed by his Twitter tirades. But I think there are at least some key people in his cabinet who have the wherewithal and the mettle to challenge him. He will provide the unorthodoxy the American public yearned for, while they will hopefully provide the good governance. Maybe things are not quite so bleak as they seem.

Penelope Conlin


Help the aged

Dear Editor

Asian Affairs’February piece on Japan’s ageing population (‘The future is grey’) was a real eye-opener that may make people think hardabout that supposed holy grail of the human condition, long life expectancy. We can’t extend our lives as much as we are now doing in the developed world without paying the price of those physical and metal infirmities that attend extreme old age. If Japan, with its healthy fish-, vegetable- and soy-rich diet, less sedentary lifestyle and cultural propensity to regard seniors with morerespect than those in the West, cannot avoid the misery of ageing diseases, what hope is there for the rest of us?

While I was heartened by David McNeill’s overview of the sometimes radical action being taken to address this worrying issuein Japan, there is a very long way to go. Once again, the questions of state versus personal responsibilityfor the aged, and the low status and pay accorded to many professional care-givers, raise their ugly heads. They are questions that must be tackled on a global scale by a new social order.

Dr Matthew C. Graham (retired)


Long live SOAS

Glad to see your magazine celebrating the centenary of SOAS, a world-class institution devoted to excellence and diversity. My father-in-law, still whip-smart and scarily well-informed at 80, was a student there in the 1950s and still talks about it as the time of his life.

Tamsin Pereira

Whitstable, Kent

Not upping the anti?

MrRahimullahYusufzai writes a good piece on new Pakistan Army Chief General QamarJavedBajwa but I think his comment that General Bajwa delivered ‘a message warning of swift retaliation to any Indian aggression’ at the LoC must be seen in context of the General’s background. Please remember that on a UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo in 2007-8, General Bajwa was a Brigade Commander successfully serving under a former Indian Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh, so he should not have an anti-India attitude and can maybe be flexible.




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