The Aughts: It's Enough!
The "Decade from Hell" [Dec. 7]? What about the successful rovers on Mars? All the exoplanets we've begun to find? What about the progress made on gay rights and for women in business? What about the advances made toward curing so many forms of cancer? Our imagination and hard work ultimately trumped our greed and self-interest.
How can TIME devote seven pages to the "Decade from Hell" without acknowledging that for eight of those years, we had one of the worst Presidents in American history? The divisiveness that Bush and Cheney fostered was a key part of this abysmal decade.
John Gruhl lincoln
Even 5-year-olds know that when counting anything toes, fingers or years we begin with one, not zero. The first decade of this millennium began with the year 2001, and the last year of the first decade of this millennium will be next year, 2010. The millennium began with the year 2001. Why is this so difficult for adults to grasp?
Falls Church, Va., U.S.
Andy Serwer Responds
When I began the piece, I was well aware of the great when-does-the-decade-begin controversy, which I remembered from the days of Y2K. Back then, most folks seemed to consider the past decade over on Dec. 31, 1999, so it made sense to me to use that benchmark for this decade as well. The editors here agreed with me. Given the name of the magazine, don't they deserve a little license?
There were tragedies and missteps in the decade, but before you pass judgment, please do your homework. Ask the Chinese in Nanjing and the Jews of Poland and Russia what they thought of the 1930s, the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki of the 1940s, the U.S. soldiers in the Hanoi Hilton of the 1960s not to mention all Americans of the 1860s and the list goes on.
Rockville Centre, N.Y., U.S.
Re the reference to Hurricane Katrina as "the largest natural disaster in our nation's history": Experts agree that the destruction following the hurricane was caused by the collapse of the federally built and controlled levee system, which failed when confronted with the precise circumstance it was supposed to protect against. The devastation in the wake of Katrina was not a natural disaster; it was a man-made one.
Claudia J. D'Aquin
Mr. Serwer's report may have chronicled much of the doom and gloom of the current decade. However, when he lists some of the good news, he has rather conveniently left out the fact that after three decades of hell, Sri Lanka eradicated the menace of terrorism and separatism from its shores. After all, this historic event should have taken precedence over a merely parochial one like the Red Sox World Series victory, which is of absolutely no interest to the rest of the world. Sri Lanka's victory over the terrorist Tamil Tigers surely is a bright spot not only in this decade but for all history, and ought to receive its proper recognition.
Nugegoda, Sri Lanka
The author invoked the triumphalist narrative of the U.S. and its western Allies winning World War II and later toppling communism. First of all, the Soviet Union and the Allies won World War II in concert. The U.S.S.R. lost over 25 million people in WW II, whereas Americans half a million. Secondly, the U.S.S.R. was collapsing without very much external influence succumbing to pressures unrelated to U.S. policy whatsoever. The greatest feats are not always American ones.
I wept uncontrollably at Mr. Serwer's lament about the U.S.'s dismal decade. The hopeful last paragraph raised my spirits, however, knowing that with so many trump cards on its side, the home of the brave and the land of the free will rise again to plunder the planet for generations to come.
Mount Helena, Australia
A Different Sort of Empire
Re "The World of China Inc." [Dec. 7]: The Chinese are able to secure resources from other lands by using their financial clout this is far preferable to the traditionally European and eventually American tactic of sending in troops and killing civilians as we have seen in the invasion of Iraq and the securing of its oil.
Manukau, New Zealand
Re "The Mammogram Melee" [Dec. 7]: Here's a riddle: If a woman is denied a mammogram at age 40 and dies at 45 of breast cancer, how much money does her insurance company save?
St. Ann, Mo., U.S.