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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vietnam to Chechnya, A Lesson in Cruel Politics

In response to "Vietnam: Coming Home, Coming to Terms," an open letter to former U.S. secretary of defense Robert McNamara by Peter P. Mahoney, April 26.

Mr. Mahoney:

Your letter was very powerful, and very truthful. I thank you for giving more of us an insight into Vietnam and its legacy.

I was born in 1968, the same year that you joined the army. Many of my friends were children of soldiers. I grew up with film footage of the war, and the protests, and innumerable movies dedicated to it, from "The Deer Hunter" and "Apocalypse Now" to "Rambo" and "Missing in Action." I was so concerned with world events that I studied international relations in college. My goal was to serve my country as a diplomat, negotiating peaceful settlements to international conflicts. The images of Mr. McNamara's war were not lost on me. In studying political science, I discovered President John F. Kennedy was not the boyhood hero I had made him out to be, as the Bay of Pigs and his decisions which brought the United States into the Vietnam conflict proved. Lyndon B. Johnson was never a heroic figure for me, the protests against the war during his presidency taught me of his cowardice. Richard Nixon finally pulled the plug, but his deception of the American people in Watergate soiled him as a champ of foreign policy. I was left without the least bit of faith in my country's leadership.

The remark you made, "I learned that soldiers are required to do their jobs because politicians fail to do theirs," puts into one sentence everything I learned in college. My inability to accept the concept of "enemy" invariably enticed me to study Russian and to move to Moscow.

I have a very clear-eyed perception of international conflict. Money runs it and oil is the most common motive nowadays. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and President Boris Yeltsin have caused an even more horrific blood bath in Russia than the one in Vietnam. Russians bombing Russians, destroying Russian property, infrastructure, and faith in man. Will they ever admit a mistake or an error in judgment? Children of Afghan War vets, along with America's Vietnam War kids, have to put up with the stupidity of their predecessors, yet may be destined to make the same mistakes themselves.

I thank you, Mr. Mahoney, for your heroism, not just in the war but in your return and in your coping with the challenge of re-entry to a society that was ashamed of your actions. You have given all us children of the Vietnam War a better understanding of our leaders, our country and our fathers. Perhaps that knowledge can be used to prevent future conflicts when we become the leaders of the world. Unfortunately, my upbringing has not supplied that much optimism.

Patrick J .Hyland


Civilizing the Banks

In response to "Red Tape on Increase for Money Changers," by Natasha Mileusnic, April 6.


Your article contained assertions which seriously distort the true picture of banking in Russia. To our regret, these distortions were, in some cases, attributed to an official representative of the Central Bank's Moscow branch.

The Central Bank works with officially registered commercial banks and constantly inspects the work of their exchange offices. Sanctions are indeedtaken against violators. Information on violators is regularly reported in the Central Bank's official press releases which are sent to several dozen addresses -- to newspapers, radio, television, wire services.

As for unregistered exchange points operating illegally, the Central Bank is taking what measures it legally can to curtail their operation. Information about violators which emerges during checks is passed on to law-enforcement agencies.

The instructions issued April 3 are meant to provide more effective control of exchange points. The new instructions allow for stricter action against violators. If banks violate foreign currency regulations, their exchange offices may be closed, they may be fined up to 1,500 times the legally established minimum monthly wage and their foreign-currency licenses may be revoked.

Thus Mileusnic's assertions --to the effect that the Central Bank does not anticipate any positive changes as a result of the new instructions, and that illegal foreign currency operations will not be affected by them -- do not correspond with reality. Undoubtedly, those who wish to conduct currency operations in the absence of tough restrictions do not like the new system, and these are precisely the people who have an interest in discrediting the Central Bank's efforts to introduce a stricter system. Nevertheless, this system must exist in Russia, as in any civilized country.

V.I. Yefremov

Central Bank

Regretting the Error

In response to "Curse the Foreign Press," by Dmitry Babich, April 27.


Concerning Time's coverage of a story on prostitution which ran in the June 21, 1993, issue of the magazine, Mr. Babich asserts that Time never acknowledged what he calls a "blunder" in the section of the story that dealt with Russia. He is incorrect. On two occasions Time published information about the curious and contradictory background to this section of the story. On Oct. 11, 1993, Time published a "To Our Readers" item which said that the Russian pimp and boys involved "still insist to us that they were engaged in child prostitution, although one boy has denied it to others. Had we known this at the time, we would not have run these pictures. We regret the error." Mr. Babich is in error.

John Kohan

Moscow Bureau Chief

Time Magazine