Nuclear options

Interesting article from Maxwell Downman on the US administration’s likely withdrawal from the INF Treaty and how it will be bad for the US generally, and specifically in Asia (‘Cruising towards competition’, November issue). Although Trump’s concerns vis-à-vis the agreement are reasonable – most notably regarding the question of China, whose exclusion from the treaty makes it passé – Downman is right to contend that full abandonment risks alienating US allies and competitors , as well as ‘deepening a new nuclear arms race’.

What needs to happen is that China be brought in to an updated INF agreement, but that looks highly improbable, since most of China’s nuclear missiles would fall within the banned range of the INF treaty. What then? If the United States withdraws, divisions would be created within NATO, for although there is support for the US in the NATO leadership, many in Europe are very critical of Trump’s planned move.

Of course, there is always another possibility: that Trump will completely renegotiate the INF Treaty, especially given his changeability when it comes to foreign and other policy.

Pieter de Vries

The Hague

Bravo, OSCAR

Dear Asian Affairs

In these days of depressing news it was cheering to read in your magazine about the OSCAR Foundation’s wonderful work with young people from the slums of India (‘Great life goals’, November issue). By actively encouraging education through football for youngsters from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, boys and girls alike, the foundation is challenging old class and gender roles while at the same time steering away from encroaching victim mentality we are seeing more and more. Qualities gained through learning and sport pave way to self-confidence and ultimately happiness, which we would all wish for our children and ourselves. Keep up the brilliant work, OSCAR.

Nishy Kapoor


The girls at Windsor Castle with (back row) Ashok Rathod (left), coach Fardin Sheikh (second from left), the Countess of Wessex (centre) and team head Sunita Rathod (far right)

Japanese model

Richard Cockett’s informative and compassionate article on the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami (‘Still lessons to learn’) sums up the dilemma of cold, hard cash versus saving human life. Indonesia’s state budget for the BNPB [disaster countermeasures agency] has been dwindling since 2015 – it has been reduced by almost 80 per cent – yet the threat of these kinds of natural disasters will certainly never diminish, given Indonesia’s position on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire.

Funding problems must be addressed, but it is equally vital forthe country to rethink itslack of preparation, on both a state and individual level, when catastrophes strike. This could be alleviated by Japan’s sponsoring of a UN Development Programme across the Asia-Pacific, aimed at heightening preparedness among schoolchildren on what to do in the event of an earthquake and/or tsunami. Such readiness curbed the death toll from Japan’s own 2011 quake, as the Japanese are constantly aware of potential dangers and practicing how to react. Indonesia could learn much from the Japanese model, and benefit greatly.

Lillian T. Marsden


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