I was compelled to respond to the Aug. 21 letter about the University of Minnesota, because such strong opinions should be based on at least some evidence. The writer contends that the U wastes money on search firms. I’ve served on a decent number of search committees for faculty and administrators, and search firms, in my experience, have saved time and money. For faculty and staff to conduct the entire search process to hire leaders in their field requires diverting them from their actual areas of work (teaching, research and service). This time and effort cumulatively is also a significant cost. Search firms are resourceful experts at finding and convincing the best candidates why they should work at the University of Minnesota. The search firm creates a shortlist of candidates, which faculty and staff then vet. Any search process, as with any process, is not perfect, and unfortunately individuals like Norwood Teague get hired. These individuals also tend to be very good at hiding the skeletons in their closets.
An informed opinion involves determining the true cost and success rate of the search-firm process. The ones I have been involved with have all resulted in stellar leaders who are doing great things to move the University of Minnesota forward.
Bruce Walcheck, St. Paul
He conducts himself differently than do some would-be leaders
Having just watched television news coverage of former President Jimmy Carter’s comments on his battle with cancer, I was struck by the alarming differences among those who have led, and those who would like to lead, this country.
On the one hand, you have this honest, decent, compassionate man who truly cared about — and still does — his fellow humans. His stint as president, while imperfect like any other, clearly exhibited this concern.
On the other hand, you have the current darling of the Republican electorate — at least the Archie Bunker contingent of that group: A greedy, arrogant blowhard who has somehow managed to capture the hearts of the disaffected.
If it weren’t so pathetic, it would be funny.
With crossed fingers, I wish us all well.
Bill Holm, Shorewood
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
It’s looking worse and worse and worse — or is it?
Every week we hear more details about the Iran nuclear agreement, and it gets uglier by the week (“U.N. to let Iran inspect suspected nuclear site,” Aug. 20). But still, our Minnesota DFL elected officials in Washington say they will vote for the deal. Are they that committed to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, or just that naive? Talk about being on the wrong side of history!
Gary Fischbach, St. Paul
• • •
The Aug. 20 story makes it seem as if Iran will be allowed to produce its own unmonitored report on suspect military sites. This is completely incorrect.
Two vital facts are missing:
First, Iranian inspectors would always be accompanied by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Second, the reason Iran negotiated this arrangement is because it is afraid that IAEA inspectors might plant evidence to incriminate Iran. This is a natural apprehension, since the IAEA reports on Iran’s nuclear program under Director Yukia Amano have departed dramatically from the balanced and neutral reports under previous directors, Mohammad el Baradei and Hans Blix. This arrangement keeps everyone honest.
Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, samples of suspect nuclear activity — swabs, photos, material samples — would always be taken in the presence of and with the cooperation of IAEA inspectors, and would be sent to IAEA’s network of international laboratories in 16 countries for analysis.
These procedures do not allow Iran to “cheat.” On the contrary, they assure the integrity of the process for all.
William O. Beeman, Minneapolis
• • •
I wrote a more in-depth letter to the editor in late July that did not get published, asking why the Iran nuclear agreement about to be acted on in the House and Senate does not rise to the level of a treaty and thereby constitutionally require a two-thirds Senate consensus for passage. Those who don’t want this higher threshold have to be kidding when they say this agreement does not rise to the level of a treaty. I demand an answer to this question.
Karl Urbaniak, Canton, Minn.
• • •
The recent statement from members of the Minnesota Peace Project (Opinion Exchange, Aug. 18) is a succinct and realistic description of the deal and reasons for supporting it. Minnesota public officials opposing the deal are outlining ideal conditions that anyone and everyone would want, such as an unfettered access to all potential nuclear sites, and slow and measured sanctions relief. In fact, each of the various objections to the deal has been refuted many times over by numerous diplomats, military experts and political leaders, as pointed out in the Peace Project commentary. But what is universally missing from opponents’ statements is any kind of workable alternative to the deal so carefully and laboriously negotiated by some of the most experienced diplomats in the world. U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, for example, argues that support of the deal would “put the stability of the Middle East in jeopardy and threaten to create a new nuclear arms race.” These are reasonable concerns, but aren’t they exactly what would happen if the U.S. rejected the deal? For instance:
• The sanctions regime would collapse.
• With the robust and unprecedented inspection and verification regime gone, there would be absolutely nothing to deter Iran from nuclear expansion short of major war against Iran.
• Other countries in the Middle East would immediately begin their own nuclear programs as a counterweight to an Iran now free to race toward nuclear weapons capability.
• Israel would indeed be facing existential threats from Iran.
• And, for good measure, the credibility of the U.S. would be shattered for generations.
It is easy for opponents of the deal to list off objections, but none, absolutely none, is coming up with reasonable alternatives.
Roger Hale, Minneapolis
Cartoon was half-baked
While I commend Steve Sack for bravely taking a stand against infectious diseases (Aug. 20), I worry that there’s a bit more to the issue than he knows. On Wednesday, the Center for Medical Progress released its seventh video, which clearly shows Planned Parenthood employees handling an ex-utero boy. His legs move. His heart beats. He is alive — that is, until his face is cut open and his brains are removed. Perhaps Mr. Sack was unaware of this video. Perhaps he was unaware that organizations exist that provide the same health services as PP without ending the lives of ex-utero children and selling their extremities. Perhaps he couldn’t conceive that we might fund these organizations instead.
Since the Star Tribune Editorial Board is fond of decrying the fact that politics has become too “partisan” and “divisive,” maybe it can start by admitting there is a middle ground between halting medical services full-stop and giving money to an organization that disembowels live children. Then again, maybe I’m just pro-cancer.
Derek Ganzhorn, Chicago