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U.S. Influence in Pacific Basin

December 07, 1988

I read with interest David Williams' column on declining U.S. influence in the Pacific basin ("America Pulls Back, Packs Bags, Loses Place in the Pacific Century," Opinion, Nov. 20). He seemed fearful (and wisely so) of stating outright exactly what his article calls for; more aircraft carrier groups, more guns, a more aggressive U.S. posture in the Pacific.

His problem is that he does not understand what "influence" is in the age of nuclear arms and intertwined world economies. Just exactly what does the "influence" of our carrier groups endlessly circling in billion-dollar figure eights have? Does he really feel that a brand-spanking new aircraft carrier stationed in the South China Sea could have "influenced" the Chinese away from strict Marxism more than our culture and commerce have?

When the Japanese were polled recently as to whom they felt a war was most likely to be with they answered the United States. Are we spending billions to protect the Japanese from ourselves? Who is going to protect us from them? He mentions defending New Zealand, from whom I wonder, the Samoans?

In today's world of nuclear arms that cannot be used real U.S. influence is measured in business, culture and foreign aid. Bankrupting ourselves paying for more unusable weapons does not increase our influence, it reduces it.

One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry at the image of this journalist fretting over the Japanese acquiring an aircraft carrier while they buy the land from beneath his feet. As the U.S. bankrupts itself protecting Japan's shores, the Japanese use the money not spent on defense taxes to accomplish what no phalanx of Japanese zeros ever could have; the taking of California.

FRANK ATWILL

Santa Barbara

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