In response to your article “Promote trade between nations to lessen chances of conflict” (Feb. 3):
What does it mean to be 1.9 percent less likely to go to war? Did trade lead to peace, or did a lack of tensions and relative stability provide opportunities for trade? Especially over the past 60 years, which basically means after WWII, the U.S.’s security umbrella, as well as international institutions, have helped to pave over tensions and provide this stability. Trade doesn’t prevent war between trading partners. Look at WWI as a prime example—the security dilemma and concerns over the balance of power trumped gains from trade. And the U.S. is currently afraid of, and, indeed, preparing contingencies for, a war with China, one of its largest trading partners. Again, security concerns win out over trade relations. Keep in mind that even if this is empirically false, as you claim, the belief in its truth by policymakers makes it true in actual political calculus.
And even if what you say were true, you give no mechanism/explanation for why increasing trade will help in the specific case of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Yes, it makes sense that limiting trade artificially does no good. But will artificially increasing trade sway extremists, and their external suppliers, from launching rockets? Will it suddenly end the desire of Israelis to settle down in the West Bank? Will it resolve the inherent contradictions of having a Jewish democratic state?
Expanding business opportunities can, and probably will, provide benefits for many living in desperate conditions. But there are deeper grievances at stake here than economic ones—grievances that cannot simply be solved by the expansion of capitalism, which we should also be fearing for its potential to exploit the region, compounding the aforementioned issues.
To put it shortly—this is a fine idea, if handled well, but it doesn’t even come close to solving the issues it sets out against.
—Connor Wahrman ’17
In response to your article “Reassess Lawrence’s role in public relations scandals” (Feb. 3):
But why didn’t President Lawrence ever bring that “care” to the community and campus writ large? I can’t remember the last time he gave a public address on any issue, let alone the various scandals we have had over the past 5 years. He did not seem accessible to the vast majority of students. I agree that blaming him is unhelpful and unfairly singles him out as the one responsible for things like Hirsi Ali (either giving her the degree or poorly rescinding it, depending on your perspective). But why didn’t he speak about these issues to us? I was always disappointed when President Lawrence did not come out with a personal statement on these ‘scandals.’ I’m not asking him to necessarily take a side, but why not acknowledge the merits of the various groups, consider some things and try to start a productive campus discourse?
Also, just wondering: How we can connect your list of Brandeis achievements directly—or indirectly—to President Lawrence’s policies, decisions, actions, etc.?
—Michael Abrams ’15