Readers write: Russia and Ukraine, authoritarianism, the Olympics

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Again, the problem is our addiction to fossil fuels.

Russian President Vladimir Putin knows he has very little time to bring territory back under Russian influence (“Putin Orders Troops in Eastern Ukraine,” front page, February 22). Thirty-nine percent of Russia’s budget revenue and 60% of its exports are fossil fuels. Most of its customers plan to replace them with locally produced clean energy sources. Five to 10 years from now, oil and gas will have fallen out of favor and will not provide the funding needed for Russian political influence or military games.

The question is how to contain his nation-building in the meantime? Putin knows very well that Russia is one of the world’s largest producers of fossil fuels. His 1997 Ph.D. His dissertation, “Strategic Planning for the Reproduction of the Resource Base,” was over 200 pages on how to exploit the country’s natural resources for political gain.

Are you and I, and the rest of the world, prepared to endure the inevitable swings in oil and gas prices that come with refusing to buy from him? Are we ready to invest more quickly in alternative sources of clean energy?

Putin clearly calculates that the answer to these questions is no.

Mark AndersenWayzata

•••

As the world community watches and waits to see what Putin will do with regard to Ukraine, we have had a blast from the past.

In recent days, some of former President Barack Obama’s allies, both official and media, have come to the conclusion that maybe, maybe Senator Mitt Romney was right in 2012.

Romney said our most worrisome enemy was Russia. He was nearly laughed off the stage during the third presidential debate and dismissed by the press and by both Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden. Obama said, “The 1980s are now calling for a return to their foreign policy.” Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed the same.

Well, here we are 10 years later: not China (as former President Donald Trump would have us believe), but Russia is once again the one to keep an eye on.

Romney said it then and it happened, whether it was interference in our elections or this threat of a new world war.

There are many Romney policies that I have always agreed with, but no one can argue about that.

Did the electorate make a mistake 10 years ago? It is certainly debatable. Romney has been proven correct on taxes, Russia and, yes, even elevating Trump as president, and in his impeachment votes for him.

Romney is a man of true integrity, full of love and pride for our country.

I’m proud to call myself a Romney Republican. He was wrong and proved it, like everyone else; however, one must ask, “What if?”

Joshua Zollar, Chisholm, Minn.

•••

As tensions continue to rise with Russia over its attempt to dominate Ukraine, it is important to remember that the United States and Russia hold 90% of this world’s nuclear weapons. Just to prevent a nuclear cataclysm from occurring, now is the perfect time for the United States to declare that we will never use nuclear weapons first in a conflict: no first strike from the United States. Let’s not let a regional conflict explode into the sudden end of our lives because of an unintentional nuclear war.

We could also think of all the things we could do with the money we spend to produce even more nuclear weapons, for example: tax cuts for everyone, child tax credits, etc. What do you want ? Don’t be silent about it. More nuclear bombs? Or more things you could actually use?

Ron Bardell, Minneapolis

•••

In “America’s most fateful mistake led to the Ukraine crisis” (Opinion Exchange, February 22), the author laments the decision a generation ago to expand NATO eastward as because of the current international crisis. Unfortunately, for today’s generation, NATO, the treaty that secured post-war peace, has lost its relevance and faded into the days of yore.

Look no further than last week’s Jeopardy! National college championship featuring three smart college contenders, including a student from the University of Minnesota. None of the three could correctly, or even approximately, answer the simplest question in the “Abbreviations” category. The answer: NATO.

Maybe it’s time to update the Associated Press style guide and start spelling “North Atlantic Treaty Organization” so that future generations can understand and appreciate its important and ongoing role in the world. international order.

Sean Murphy, Minneapolis

AUTHORITARISM

“Tyrants Unite, Marginalize America in Stephen Young’s New ‘New World Order’ (Opinion Exchange, February 16) sadly accurately describes our planet’s post-millennium retreat from democracy, or at least some of this one. It focuses on Russian Vladimir Putin and Chinese Xi Jinping, but could have included Hungarian Viktor Orban, Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Filipino Rodrigo Duterte or Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro. It should have included the friend of all those autocrats, our own former President Donald Trump. But bizarrely, Young ended his article by attributing America’s deteriorated democracy to “awakening, intersectionality and critical race theory” – rather than the obvious historical fascist playbook of call and division of people by nationality, religion and class. Trump Republicans are following the same sad script of Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler and Putin – creating a cult of personality through nationalism, scapegoating and press bashing. Unfortunately, Young may be right that we are entering a post-Enlightenment era, but attempting to tie this to progressive values, rather than autocratic Republican traits, makes no sense.

Ryan Pulkrabek, Minneapolis

OLYMPIC GAMES

Star Tribune La Velle sportswriter E. Neal III wrote Monday, “Four more years? Hey, vote for me.” The next day he wrote: “China should never have been allowed to hold these Olympics. He, along with so many other print and broadcast journalists, chose to dance to the music of China’s totalitarian government while covering the Olympics. He strongly criticizes “the International Olympic Committee for not taking a stand, reaching out and accepting billions from this ruthless country”. Sorry, Neal, and all the other reporters who covered the 2022 Olympics. Your words condemning China come about three weeks too late.

Yes, “there have been warnings [about] talking about China.” Speaking while telling the truth is a journalist’s job. It seems the athletes weren’t the only ones trying to protect their careers.

George Larson, Brooklyn Park

•••

The Olympics have just ended. I found myself watching, as much as I could, the athletes and the competitions. I started watching the Olympics when I was a kid, I found it fascinating. It sparked my imagination. Later, at a college track meet, I had a Bob Beamon moment, long jumping 2 feet further than my best. That should have taken me to nationals, but I had scratched an inch. My Olympic dreams have faded. Yet every four years I watched the Olympics and felt a new hope that one day we could create a more peaceful world.

So, this time, we feel the cares and worries of Mikaela Shiffrin. We applaud American athletes, even if they don’t achieve medals. We get tired of focusing on medals, but we get stressed watching Nathan Chen. We develop a connection with Mike Tirico and the NBC team. We take for granted the effort, time, technology, cameras and sound systems that result in NBC’s incredible coverage. We are concerned about dangerous gusts of wind on the halfpipe, causing competitors to fall. We appreciate the incredible performances of athletes from all countries. We are concerned about Russia’s treatment of athletes and whether it wants war. We are concerned about the undemocratic Chinese society, the treatment of minorities and the repression in Hong Kong. We worry about the shortcomings of our own country.

But on the final day of competition, all that fades as Minnesota’s Jessie Diggins inspires and teaches us — even if we fear she pushed too hard in the 30-kilometer race.

Kerry Keen, Minneapolis

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