No one denies the atrocities that occurred during the Rwandan genocide. Inaction by the international community left the world, particularly the West, striving to be absolved of its sins. However the United States' unwary support of the Rwandan government is leading to disastrous instability in the eastern region of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, once known as Congo).
The U.S. position as a longstanding ally of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and as the nation's largest donor of financial aid are both factors that influence the present conflict in the neighboring DRC.
A report released by the United Nations in late June outlined evidence of senior leaders in the Rwandan military arming and training rebel militia groups in DRC. Human Rights Watch has made allegations that U.N. Security Council members from the United States had attempted to use their influence to resist the release of this U.N. document.
The conflict in DRC has taken millions of lives. Congolese citizens are dying from brutal violence and curable diseases. Control over the DRC's mineral wealth by armed rebel militia groups is also fueling the violence. Rebel militia groups use rape and other brutal tactics to control and intimidate the communities near these mines that house precious minerals used in many of our everyday electronics.
Just days ago, the DRC celebrated 52 years of independence. While we celebrate our Independence Day, let us exercise a fundamental freedom all Americans are afforded, by questioning our government and how the United States could better serve as an instrument of peace, harmony and stability throughout the world.
BRIANNA KRANZ, ST. PAUL
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I am a lifelong liberal and take the "left-wing" stance on most every political topic. However, I was offended by the statement in David M. Perlman's July 3 commentary ("The court's liberal wing is rigid -- and right") that "intelligent people tend toward liberalism." I would love to think that I'm liberal because I'm smarter than people who disagree with me.
However, I know some very smart conservatives and some very dumb liberals. No camp has a monopoly on intelligence, regardless of what Perlman (or Fox News commentators) might say. The view that the other side is wrong is a major cause of polarization in our country -- Congress being a prime example. Let's listen to each other.
NIC BAKER, MINNEAPOLIS
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I agree with Perlman that Supreme Court justices tend to drift left over time, as do public servants in general. However, that is not because "intelligence" wins out. Rather, power breeds arrogance, and arrogance causes people to drift left.
Liberalism contends that large governments and the "ruling elite" can care better for people than they can for themselves. It contends that science alone can explain the complexity of human life, much less how life ever began in the first place.
It is a philosophy that has now bankrupted much of Europe, and the United States is not far behind. One can only hope that the arrogance of the philosophy sufficiently drives voters away and gives our children a chance for a future that is better than what seems inevitable today.
ROBBIE BURKHART, SHOREWOOD
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Duluth gets pounded with 10 inches of rain, flooding homes and washing out roads, while Colorado burns with 10 wildfires. Texas farmers lost $7.6 billion in the brutal drought of 2011, where Dallas saw 70 days hotter than 100 degrees. In 2011, 242 events in the United States qualified for federal disaster aid, while the whole decade of the 1960s saw a total of 196 events qualifying for such aid, according to the website of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The federal government's cost to help the good people of Duluth recover will be more than $80 million. To continue to deny that our extreme weather patterns, fueled by a warming atmosphere, are occurring more frequently is not only bad science, but amazingly irresponsible economics as well.
PATRICK COLLINS, LINDSTROM, MINN.
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The recent article about city lakes being closed to boating to help prevent the spread of invasive species such as milfoil and zebra mussel ("Minneapolis limits access to lakes to fight invasive species," June 22) failed to mention that paddlers should be advised that they, too, should still take action against carrying invasive species away in water slushing around in cockpits and canoes as well as tiny fragments of milfoil ripped loose and tangled in kayaks with rudders or skegs. A prudent paddler should be taking cleaning precautions as a responsible boater, too.
TOM WATSON, APPLETON, MINN.
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Karen Owen wrote, "It has been said that to truly forgive someone, you must forget the offense" ("Are we big enough to accept an apology?" June 30). Forgiveness is needed when the offense is major, and forgiveness understands the behavior that caused the offense but does not grant it acceptability. I recently came to the realization that forgiveness does not cause amnesia; it is acceptable to forgive and not forget.
If someone swindled money from me, I can forgive, but it would be imprudent for me to allow the offender access to my money again. Forgiveness is a process that eventually frees those who forgive from harboring pain and anger toward the offender or from seeking retribution. True forgiveness benefits the forgiver more than the forgiven.
BARB DANIELSON, COON RAPIDS
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.