Readers Write (June 19): Iraq and Afghanistan, N.D. oil boom, Veterans Affairs, light rail, airport disability workers

  • Updated: June 18, 2014 - 6:18 PM

In wars past, we stayed and got the job done. Now, we’re leaving behind a dog-eat-dog mess.

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Eight years ago, when American policymakers were debating a possible troop surge in Iraq, Bernard Lewis, perhaps the world’s most esteemed Islamic affairs historian, commented that the United States risks being seen as harmless as an enemy and as treacherous as a friend. Regrettably and horribly, the Iraqis and Afghans who got too close to the Americans are already paying with their slit necks and bullet-riddled bodies. Many more are about to meet the same grim fate.

Several times, our country has committed enormous “blood and treasure” resources to conflicts that we deemed important to our national well-being and the world order. Notable successes were postwar Japan, Germany and South Korea. In each case, we stayed until the job was truly done, leaving those countries to pursue decades of liberty, growth and prosperity. No more. In Iraq and Afghanistan, we left before the institutions were in place to assure continued order. Result: awful violence and a loss of our precious blood and treasure sacrifices.

As for our allies, many of whom we asked for their participation in war-torn countries, how do we suppose they view continued reliance on U.S. leadership? Germany, Poland, the Baltics, Ukraine, Israel and Jordan have to see themselves alone and unaided in the brutal, dog-eat-dog world that we Americans are leaving behind in our horribly misguided absence.

Mark H. Reed, Plymouth

NORTH DAKOTA BOOM

Looking through oil-covered glasses

The front-page article about North Dakota’s oil production topping 1 million barrels a day (June 18) amounted to uncritical praise needing not a little but a lot of balance. Look no further than a Bloomberg.com story the same day: “Along with oil prosperity has come a spasm of crime unlike any before on the prairie. Where farmers once sealed deals with a handshake, authorities now contend with drug gangs, meth labs, violent crimes, prostitution and investor fraud, all with the same aim in mind: making a quick score.” Not to mention the concerns about water pollution from fracking and the possibility of an oil train blowing up where the tracks run through, for example, Como Park.

Brian McNeill, Minneapolis

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Does this milestone warrant a celebration? Rather than hailing this mark as an admirable achievement, maybe we would do better to examine the boom a little more closely. Has it set up the economy of North Dakota to be sustainable in the future? Or are we just settling for short-term job creation that produces long-term environmental and social consequences?

Ellen Squires, St. Paul

 

THE VA

4 key questions at the heart of health scandal

Congratulations to Mark Brunswick for his beautiful June 17 article on the VA outpatient care situation in northern Minnesota (“Veterans complain about clinic care”). This work exemplifies fair, balanced, and eye-opening reporting.

I suspect that a Pulitzer Prize awaits any investigator who will dig deeper to answer four worrisome questions at the core of the current scandal in VA health care. It will not be an easy, quick or pleasant task.

• Why did the VA more than five years ago intentionally concoct a bizarre routine for disingenuously defining “clinic wait times”?

• Which high-level bureaucrat in Washington signed off on the nationwide use of this complex scheme?

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