Russia's woes lie in not grasping capitalism

Your Feb. 22 article "The incredible shrinking Russia" certainly alerted readers to the mind-boggling condition in which that country finds itself. The article would lead one to believe that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the root cause. But that's not the whole truth.

The article placed little emphasis on the role of unemployment in Russia's extreme poverty, alcoholism, and depression; or on what degree the role of free market enterprise in a country with no historical experience in democracy or capitalism has contributed to its condition.

Fred Madeo Hurleyville, N.Y.

Your article on Russia included intriguing information on the influx of more than 1 million Chinese into Siberia. The view that this is an aggressive act by the Chinese is flawed.

Russia and China are excluded from Western dominance and NATO. This could be seen by many as a threat; helping to revive old fears, anti-Western sentiments, and nationalist behavior. Due to US sanctions, Russia is not able to trade in weapons with many willing buyers; however, Russia is still free to trade with China. It is only logical that Russia and China have more to gain by helping one another solve their problems.

Russia is smart enough not to want adversaries on all fronts of its borders and knows that its natural resources are in great demand by the Chinese to keep their economy healthy. China knows that Russia is superior in military technology and that the Russians could help expedite the update of Chinese aircraft and submarines along with furthering weapons research by nearly a decade.

It would be advantageous for Russia and China to forge a partnership; perhaps the influx of the Chinese settlers is just the beginning of something much bigger. Former President Nixon helped to stave off this combination by his visit to China years ago, but a new hard-line policy against China under President Bush may help to set in motion what was only natural in the first place.

Steven Smith Huntington, W.V.

Cheney remains an essential leader

Regarding Daniel Schorr's March 9 column "Cheney's perception problem": Special health concerns or not, I want leaders with Richard Cheney's integrity and background. People like him are very rare. If he becomes unable to produce as a result of bad health or any other reason, he will say so without media handwringing. The mood of the citizenry would be greatly uplifted by some journalism that identifies our great fortune to be beneficiaries of a public servant who is both a great man and a fair person.

He has lived the American dream. He knows its greatness and its failings. He is trustworthy. It is a certainty that we gain from every day he functions. I don't want an employee like that to resign, for any reason. We need him there as a teacher as well as a decisionmaker.

Thomas Herbst Farmington, Ill.

Americans should count their blessings

Regarding your March 2 article "Where they stay in school for peas": Many Americans take for granted the blessings enjoyed as citizens of this country. Is it possible for one to read this article without experiencing a desire to help, or a feeling of increased compassion? Not only was the article a cry for help, but it should heighten the awareness of the abundance of wealth have as Americans.

As citizens of this country, we need to be more aware and make helping our brothers and sisters a higher priority.

Cristi Conover Petaluma, Calif.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Due to the volume of mail, only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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