A Historic Moment

4 minute read
TIME

After watching the swearing-in of our 44th President, I felt as though eight years of oppression had been lifted off my shoulders [Feb. 2]. Over the past seven years, I have lost my pension, have taken two pay cuts and every year pay more for health insurance. Please, let there be hope.
Deborah Schlegel, WASHINGTON, IOWA, U.S.

Yes, yes, Christ has returned and he’s black. But can we get back to normal now?
John Scholtz, SHETLAND, SCOTLAND

An Overseas Image Makeover
I applaud Peter Beinart’s suggestion to inject some economic realism into our foreign policy [Feb. 2]. An America that shows an understanding of its limitations and a fiscal pragmatism in its foreign policy will command far greater respect abroad than one that takes the dogmatic, open-checkbook approach of the Bush Administration. But why stop with Iraq and Afghanistan? Barack Obama should look at the rationale for maintaining forces in Germany, Japan and South Korea. Even among our allies, our presence on their soil makes little sense to many and is not appreciated. Our days as the world’s policeman are over, and that’s a good thing. Let’s lead in other, better fights, such as global warming and disease eradication. This would be not only economically smart but also far more effective in creating the goodwill and moral capital that have always been our real sources of power and influence.
Charles Johnson, ST. PETERSBURG, FLA., U.S.

Beinart says: “America won World War II.” Sorry. Wrong! He missed the small matter of Britain, Australia, Canada, South Africa, other Commonwealth countries, Free French, Poles and Russia. It is time that the American attitude of “If we are in it, we won it” died. After all, you are usually late.
John Steers, SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND

I resent the implication that the U.S. won World War II single-handed. The world is heartily tired of the U.S. thinking and behaving as though the world is in its debt. The greed and Wild West attitude of the U.S. has inflicted the most devastating financial meltdown throughout the world, and yet Beinart perpetuates the type of arrogance that should have been stamped out long ago. And he is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Maureen Jackson, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

Holding Back Middle East Peace
The sad tale of “lonesome doves” in Israel was particularly disturbing because, despite massive damage and misery, the violence will not solve a thing for either side [Feb. 2]. The Oslo accords outlined a mutually agreeable vision of a two-state solution. But each side has an intractable minority that will accept nothing short of everything it wants. Until each side makes an absolute commitment to controlling its own hard-liners — whatever it takes — the conflict will never end.
Richard Jepson, SEQUIM, WASH., U.S.

Marx Out of Ten
What would Marx think [Feb. 2]? What kind of a question is that? I can tell you what. “Blimey, so I was right all the time.” That’s what Marx would think. And he’d be darned right.
Bärbel A Rautenberg, HAMBURG, GERMANY

Marx saw that the economic mechanisms of his time created appalling living conditions for workers. He was right that this couldn’t go on forever. The real-world solution was not as clear-cut and revolutionary as his theory predicted. It was and is a long process of adjustment, confrontation and integration. The West has solved some of the problems but outsourced others. We could happily forget about this as long as it was happening to weak, marginalized countries, but now China plays an active part in the world economy. We can’t command China to give us cheap raw materials, cheap labour, and hope for the best. We will have to globalize solutions.
Florian Bous, URDORF, SWITZERLAND

New Chief
In your article “An Enforcer Named Emanuel” [Feb. 2] you state that the new Chief of Staff at the White House earned $18 million at an investment firm in two years. Given the revelations recently concerning pay and bonuses in the financial sector, was this information meant as praise or criticism?
Leslie Keogh, AIXE-SUR-VIENNE, FRANCE

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